Testing, testing....is this on..? Er? Oh, yes...ahem. My name is Phiddius J. Prosecutus, J. D., of the law firm Dewey, Cheatam, and Howe, and this is an audio record of our proceedings today before the Professional Bar Association, where we are holding a competency hearing with regards to Mr. Earl Doherty, who is accused of violating the Bar's professional ethics code and impersonating an attorney. We have Mr. Doherty here today for questioning, and we will be asking him about his inquiries of the witnesses called on behalf of Mr. Lee Strobel, author of The Case for Christ. Are you ready, Mr. Doherty? Yes? Please finish that donut, sir, this is a courtroom. I'm not surprised you're being called before us for incompetence. Well, let's not delay further; we'll begin with the first part of the trial record, in which Mr. Doherty questioned in tandem Mr. Strobel and Mr. Blomberg. Mr. Doherty, how on earth did you fit these two men into the witness box at one time? I'm sure you also violated at least ten sections of the fire code....well, we'll get to that later.
Now Mr. Doherty, you began by questioning Dr. Blomberg's assertion regarding the authorship of the Gospels. You asked him if it was not true that "no one in the surviving Christian record outside the Gospels ever referred to written Gospels before well into the second century, so we cannot tell if their authors were in dispute or not, or whether the early Christians who wrote the epistles and works like Revelation or the Didache were even familiar with such documents at all." Now Mr. Doherty, we of the board wonder just what it is you are suggesting here. You note that Justin Martyr offers what you admit are "clear quotations from the Gospels," which he refers to as being "the memoirs of the apostles." You do not regard this as sufficient evidence of what we call the Gospels being referred to? Why not? You have evidence of other documents, then, containing exactly the same material that Justin referred to? You have these registered as evidence, I suppose...Security Officer Bucher? Eh? Mr. Doherty has not registered any evidence with you? Hmmmph -- well, we may not be here as long as I thought, then. It seems to me, Mr. Doherty, that the two points here are that we have quotes that (as even you admit) are clearly from the documents we now call the Gospels; we have also Justin attributing these to Apostles as authors. So I'd want to know, now, what prevents the identification with what we now call the Gospels? Justin's reference to "Memoirs of the Apostles" is recognized by everyone except yourself and Acharya S as reference to the Gospels. They would not of course be called "gospels" when they were written, or for quite some time, because the word "gospel" was used originally to signify the kerygmatic message of the church, and to refer to four "gospels" would imply four entirely different messages. Justin's term "memoirs" is the same term used to refer to the "memoirs" or reminisces of Socrates, compiled in four books by Xenophon; the allusion to four gospels would be inescapable. What's that? Sir, I asked that you finish that donut; I can barely understand you. Ah. You are asking, as you did before, "Why, if they had been known for decades by their present names, and there was no dispute, would Justin not mention those authors?" Amazing, is it not, what can be accomplished through hand signals when your mouth is full? Well, Mr. Doherty, the board is familiar with that conclusion, and we are still in doubt of your competence. Is it not true, sir, that there is no reason for Justin to have mentioned the names of these authors? Do allusions to the work of Tacitus have his name in all cases of allusion to them? You have not, that we have seen, provided any compelling reason for Justin to make the attributions. We have observed that in line with the quotation methods of the time, direct attribution is far from being as common as it is today, in our era of footnotes. Now we are left with this: Either Justin was referring to these documents we now call the Gospels, or else there existed at the time some other documents, containing exactly the same material, and also attributed to the Apostles. So, Mr. Doherty, where are these documents?
Sir, pray stop glaring like that; you will dry out you aqueous humour. You lack humor in other forms, so I daresay you cannot do without what little you have. Now you next noted Dr. Blomberg's testimony concerning Irenaeus, a century and a half after the time of the Gospels' origins, and accused him, I see, of not "acknowledging that this is a very long time to wait...before finding some opinion or confirmation that the Gospels were written by the men whose names are now attached to them." Ah, now he did go on to refer to Papias; we'll get to that in a moment. Mr. Doherty, may I ask you a serious question? How does this compare, shall we say, with parallel works of secular literature? Yes. You've raised your eyebrow; let me explain. In other words, to take an example, do you agree that Tacitus wrote the Annals attributed to him? You do? Good. Now he does not name himself as author in that work, correct -- other than in the initial line, as is the case for the Gospels? Sir, your hands are trembling; am I correct? Yes? Good. Now what is the earliest attribution we have of that work to Tacitus, the earliest confirmation, as you say, that the Annals were written by the man whose name is attached to them? What? You haven't checked? Well, goodness, Mr. Doherty, how can you expect us to find these questions of yours relevant? I happen to know that the earliest such attribution is by Tertullian, perhaps 150 years after the Annals were written, which is less than the number of years after Papias' witness. So why are you not out claiming someone other than Tacitus wrote the Annals, or that evidence of Tacitus' authorship is so slim and that Tertullian's time is too long to wait for opinion or confirmation?
Pray, Security Officer Bucher, pat Mr. Doherty on the back; he is choking on his donut. Thank you. Now, Mr. Doherty, let's move to what was said about Papias. That ancient worthy, according to Dr. Blomberg, in about A.D. 125 "specifically affirmed that Mark had carefully and accurately recorded Peter's eyewitness observations." You accuse Dr. Blomberg of not having "given a full enough picture of Papias' so-called testimony." Hmph -- this is indeed conduct unbecoming an attorney, Mr. Doherty; I am surprised the judge did not penalize you for prejudicial commentary. But, at any rate, to your objections. You say to Dr. Blomberg, "First of all, you fail to point out that we have no surviving writings of Papias," and that we rely on Eusebius, writing in the fourth century, for his words. Well, and well. Mr. Doherty, may I ask you something? Is it normal in the canons of historical inquiry to make a point of such things? In other words, we know for example that Tacitus relied on sources for information prior to his era (as of course he would have had to!). Do Greco-Roman historians consider Tacitus any less reliable on these points because he took them from an earlier source whose work we no longer possess? What now? You didn't consider this, either? Mr. Doherty, how do you expect this board to take you seriously if you have not laid the necessary groundwork for defending your position? Now you go on to say: "The fact that Papias said nothing himself to confirm the nature of these documents, tells us that he probably didn't possess copies of them." Sir, pray tell, how can you argue this? You can only say that Eusebius quotes nothing from Papias to this effect; you cannot say that Papias himself said no such thing. I am astonished by your presumptive carelessness on this point -- unless you possess a copy of Papias yourself? You do not? Thank you. What's that? Oh, yes -- you add that "we can be quite certain of this, since Eusebius and other later commentators who quote from his writings are silent about him discussing anything from his 'Mark' and 'Matthew.'" Now what is this supposed to mean, sir? Ah, I see, this is your usual tactic -- taking silence as proof of something tangible. Put your hand down, Mr. Doherty; the board is wise to your tactics on these matters. We have already asked you this question, sir, in another form, but let us ask again. Papias tells us that Matthew and Mark committed material to writing. That we agree upon. We have documents attributed to Matthew and Mark; we agree on this also. Now Mr. Doherty, if these do not correspond, what was Papias referring to? Are there two lost documents of Matthew and Mark? What's that? Oh -- yes, I see that further on in your inquiry; well, let's finish in order first. Your next topical inquiry of Dr. Blomberg was, "If the Gospels were written as early as you and Mr. Strobel claim they were...why would he have to rely on a report by some 'elder' that such documents even existed, let alone who had written them?" Mr. Doherty, I have Papias' testimony, as recorded by Eusebius, in front of me. Now can you show me how this is to be interpreted as you say? I'll read these quotes for the record:
Matthew made an arrangement of the oracles in the Hebrew language, and each translated them as he was able...
Mark indeed, since he was the interpreter of Peter, wrote accurately, but not in order, the things either said or done by the Lord as much as he remembered. For he neither heard the Lord nor followed Him, but afterwards, as I have said, [heard and followed] Peter, who fitted his discourses to the needs [of his hearers] but not as if making a narrative of the Lord's sayings'; consequently, Mark, writing down some things just as he remembered, erred in nothing; for he was careful of one thing - not to omit anything of the things he heard or to falsify anything in them.
Now Mr. Doherty, perhaps I am not as sharp in mind as you are, but I am struggling to discern how it is that this shows that Papias was "relying on" anyone for reports of the existence of these documents, or who had written them? What I see here is someone explaining the how of the situations, not the whats and the whos. Are you able to distinguish between prepositions, Mr. Doherty? Hmm, I see not, from previous examples. Well, to the next point; you say Papias "does not even say they were called 'Gospels.'" Well, that is of no surprise, Mr. Doherty. The reference to these works per se as "Gospels" is a much later affectation; the early titles were "The Gospel According to" so and so. "Gospel" referred to the kerygmatic message contained therein, not the documents. But again, you can really only say that Eusebius does not report Papias saying such a thing, not that Papias does not say such a thing.
You next ask, "why would a narrative Gospel, with a carefully constructed story line from the beginning of Jesus' ministry to a culmination in his death and resurrection in Jerusalem, be considered 'not in order' or not having 'a systematic arrangement'?" Really, Mr. Doherty, I would have thought you were aware of the fact -- as Kennedy recognized -- that Papias refers here to the preliminary notes composed by Mark which he later arranged into a coherent form. You're a little closer to the mark (no pun intended) with your question about Matthew, perhaps -- few would equate what Papias refers to with the known Greek Matthew. But we'd like to hear from you why it is that Greek Matthew was "based on the Greek Gospel of Mark." Hopefully you will get back to us on this point? Eh? No promises? As you wish. Bear in mind, though, that this board will not be satisfied with a mere citation of scholarly consensus.
You next queried Dr. Blomberg regarding his having "likened the Gospels to ancient biographies" and noting that, and I quote, "The only purpose for which the ancients thought that history was worth recording was because there were some lessons to be learned from the characters described." You say that he has "very much undercut the historical reliability of the Gospels." How so, sir? Lessons cannot be drawn from real events? What's that? You ask, "Aren't lessons more efficiently conveyed by fiction and even fictional characters? Wouldn't strict history offer less scope for teaching lessons than artificially constructed stories in which the writers could embody all the points they wanted to make?" I wonder how you make such an absurdly generalized statement, Mr. Doherty. Your own lack of literary creativity -- yes, I have read your doggerel attempts at fiction -- is not to be anachronized and imposed upon others. One might think from your argument that true history is insufferably dull and devoid of moral content.
We will skip your discussion with Dr. Blomberg over the matter of the Q thesis, as well as about the priority of Mark -- these are side issues dealt with in other venues than our own; you have assumed this thesis without dealing with it critically, and that simply will not do. I'm looking now at your inquiries concerning the authorship of John...I don't see that you have asked any better questions, or applied any standards for determination of authorship for all documents. As before you are taking Eusebius' lack of a quote of Papias as evidence of silence of Papias himself...really bad sport, Mr. Doherty. I'm also rather shocked at your obvious bigotry here -- "...can we really believe that a character such as John the son of Zebedee, like all the apostles a rather rough and simple man, could have authored a sophisticated piece of writing like the Fourth Gospel?" May I ask, first, what your evidence is that the Apostle was "rough and simple"? Then may I ask how this forbids a mind of great insight and passion capable of writing the Fourth Gospel? Given this argument, one might argue that persons living in the rough streets of Harlem, or in the barrios of Los Angeles, are utterly incapable of works of sophistication. But any student of literature knows better. Surely you do, as well?
You express doubts that John is based on eyewitness accounts, on the grounds that "the content of John is so different from that of the synoptics." We forgive your skepticism, Mr. Doherty, but not your incompetence. Applying your own logic, any work on the one hand recording only the Presidential speeches of Lincoln is "irreconcilable" with a work recording only his pithy sayings of wit on the other hand. Moreover, what of the thesis of Bauckham that John was written specifically to complement Mark, as well as the comments of Malina and Rohrbaugh on the purpose of John? You've not heard of them? Really. Now how do you expect us to recognize your competence in these matters if you fail to keep up with the relevant literature?
You go on to say that Jesus' words, "like I am the Way, the Truth and the Life, or, I am the Resurrection and the Life...are consistent with the tone and theological agenda visible throughout the Johannine Gospel, indicating that its content is the product of the evangelist and conforms to the thinking of his particular community." Mr. Doherty, have you any evidence of this community's existence, other than the putative evidence of the Gospel of John? No? Then sir, I fail to see any strength in your premise. You have assumed, not proven, that the words recorded are part of an "agenda" and are manufactured -- could they have been part of an "agenda," indeed, but merely selected from the repetoire of the historical Jesus? If not, why not?
You next make light of supposed differences in the Synoptics and John, saying that John records "bold claims to some kind of exalted status for Jesus" whereas the synoptics "scarcely seem to portray Jesus as divine at all." You make light of Dr. Blomberg's single example offered -- hardly a substitute for an evaluation of the vast literature on this subject, but let me simplify matters. Mr. Doherty, I see by your work that you are familiar with the Wisdom figure in Judaism of this period, correct? Good. Now Mr. Doherty, you say that the Synoptics offer a Jesus who seems scarcely portrayed as divine, but let me draw your attention to some things. First:
Matthew 8:20//Luke 9:58 Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.
Mr. Doherty, Witherington notes that the image of this saying "had been used earlier of Wisdom having no place to dwell until God assigned her such a place (cf. Sir. 24:6-7 to 1 Enoch 42:2), with Enoch speaking of the rejection of Wisdom ('but she found no dwelling place'). There is also the further tradition that raises the question of credibility of an itinerant person: 'So who can trust a man that has no nest, but lodges wherever night overtakes him?' (Sir. 36:31). The mention of nests in both this saying and in Matthew 8:20/Luke 9:58 is striking [and] suggests that Jesus envisions and articulates his experience in light of sapiential traditions..." Now let's look at these passages together:
Matthew 11:16-19//Luke 7:31-2 To what, then, can I compare the people of this generation? What are they like? They are like children sitting in the marketplace and calling out to each other: "'We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not cry.'"For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine, and you say, 'He has a demon. 'The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and you say, 'Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and "sinners."' But wisdom is proved right by all her children."
Proverbs 1:24-28 Wisdom calls aloud in the street, she raises her voice in the public squares; at the head of the noisy streets she cries out, in the gateways of the city she makes her speech: "How long will you simple ones love your simple ways? How long will mockers delight in mockery and fools hate knowledge? If you had responded to my rebuke, I would have poured out my heart to you and made my thoughts known to you. But since you rejected me when I called and no one gave heed when I stretched out my hand, since you ignored all my advice and would not accept my rebuke, I in turn will laugh at your disaster; I will mock when calamity overtakes you-- when calamity overtakes you like a storm, when disaster sweeps over you like a whirlwind, when distress and trouble overwhelm you. "Then they will call to me but I will not answer; they will look for me but will not find me.
Mr. Witherington said of these passages:
...Wisdom literature in general encourages one to have a certain joie de vivre, to enjoy eating, friends and the good things in life. But even more to the point, we find traditions like Proverbs 9:1-6, which speaks of a feast set by Wisdom herself where she invites very unlikely guests to the table -- the simple, those without sense and the immature -- so that they may learn to be wise. Meals were the occasion for teaching in antiquity...If we ask why it is that Jesus dined with unlikely clientele, just the opposite of those a respectable person might want for dinner guests, the answer must be because Jesus saw it as his mission to reach the least, the last and the lost in his society...In short, Jesus is seen acting out the part of Wisdom, and thus not surprisingly he concludes with confidence that he will be vindicated for doing so, for his actions led to the salvation of various people of God who had been given up for lost.
Here is another comparison -- I pray you, sir, stop fidgeting; you will wrinkle the naugahyde.
Matthew 11:29-30 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.
Sirach 6:19-31 Come to (Wisdom) like one who plows and sows. Put your neck into her collar. Bind your shoulders and carry her...Come unto her with all your soul, and keep her ways with all your might...For at last you will find the rest she gives...Then her fetters will become for you a strong defense, and her collar a glorious robe. Her yoke is a golden ornament, and her bonds a purple cord.
It seems to me that Jesus is clearly alluding to the passage in the very popular work of Sirach and that his listeners would have recognized that he was associating himself with Wisdom. Here's another:
Matthew 12:42//Luke 11:31 The Queen of the South will rise at the judgment with the men of this generation and condemn them; for she came from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon's wisdom, and now one greater than Solomon is here.
Witherington writes of this passage:
In Solomon the royal and sapiential traditions already had come together, and when the prophets looked for some kind of messianic figure, this expectation often had a sapiential component. Thus, for instance, in Isaiah 11 the shoot of Jesse is described not only as having the Spirit of God upon him, but as having also with that Spirit the spirit of wisdom, knowledge, understanding, the fear of the Lord -- the very things most touted in the early Wisdom literature (cf. Prov.). In short, the desire was to have a wise royal ruler like Solomon who had the sagacity to establish Israel as a respected world power... Solomon of course was the preeminent son of David with whom almost the whole Wisdom corpus is identified...If it is true that Jesus made a claim that something greater than Solomon was present in and through his ministry, one must ask what it could be...Surely the most straightforward answer would be that Wisdom had come in person.
One final Synoptic passage, sir -- I bid you be patient.
Matthew 23:34//Luke 11:49 Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city... Therefore also said the wisdom of God, I will send them prophets and apostles, and some of them they shall slay and persecute...
In Matthew's version, Jesus says, "I will send them prophets..." So this means that Luke specifically identified Jesus with Wisdom.
Now it seems to me, Mr. Doherty, that Jesus identifying himself with the Wisdom of God is fairly well identifying himself as divine. And in that sense, it seems also to me to be right in line with what we find in John's Gospel: Jesus speaks in long discourses characteristic of Wisdom (Prov. 8, Sir. 24, Wisdom of Solomon 1-11). John's emphasis on "signs" mirrors that of the Wisdom of Solomon, and John uses the same Greek word for them (semeion), and John's overwhelming use of the term "Father" (115 times) matches the emphasis on that title in the late Wisdom literature. And there is more:
John 1:1-3 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.
The prologue to John's gospel makes a precise identification of Christ with Wisdom, describing the Logos' Christological role (1:3), its role as the ground of human knowledge (1:9) and the mediator of special revelation (1:14) -- the three roles of the pre-existent Logos/Wisdom. In calling Jesus God's Logos, John was affirming Jesus' eternality and ontological oneness with the Father by connecting him with the Wisdom tradition.
Now we should also consider these parallels with John's prologue and the Wisdom literature:
John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
Wisdom of Solomon 9:9 With you (God) is Wisdom, who knows your works and was present when you made the world.
John 1:4 In him was life; and the life was the light of men.
Proverbs 8:35 For whoso findeth me findeth life, and shall obtain favour of the LORD.
John 1:11 He came unto his own, and his own received him not. (1:11)
1 Enoch 42:2 Wisdom went forth to make her dwelling among the children of men, and found no dwelling place.
John 1:14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.
Sirach 24:8 The one who created me assigned a place for my tent. And he said: 'Make your dwelling in Jerusalem.'
John 6:27 Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you.
Wisdom of Solomon 16:26 On him God the Father has placed his seal of approval. So that your children, whom you loved, O Lord, might learn that it is not the production of crops that feeds humankind but that your word sustains those who trust in you.
John 14:15 If you love me, you will obey what I command.
Wisdom of Solomon 16:18 And love of Wisdom is the keeping of her laws, and giving heed to her laws is assurance of immortality.
So in John and in the Synoptics, Jesus clearly identifies himself with the eternal Wisdom of God. Mr. Doherty, how much more clear can it be?
Sir, may I ask you not to bang your head against the railing of the witness box? It has just lately been polished. Thank you. I think, for the sake of your well-being, we will skip over these further issues related to your reply to Blomberg's idea that John is independent of the Synoptics...not all agree on that matter anyway. I am concerned, however, with this statement of yours. Dr. Blomberg said, "In the ancient world, the idea of writing dispassionate, objective history merely to chronicle events, with no ideological purpose, was unheard of." You replied, "So you would allow that the various pictures presented by the Gospels are not intended to reflect history, but serve the ideological purposes of the evangelists." Mr. Doherty, your passion for putting words in the mouths of others is well-known; Dr. Blomberg clearly says that there was no idea of writing objective history merely to chronicle events -- he does not say that this means they thereby did not reflect history. I must say that I find your unprofessionalism here quite startling.
We move now to questions regarding the dates of the Gospels, and I see yet again, sir, no effort on your part to establish general criteria for application to all documents. In other words, no groundwork -- very shabby, sir. You begin in the main with a reply to the idea that Acts should be dated early because it does not report Paul's death. You respond that "scholars see in Acts' plot line a symbolic progression of the faith's early expansion from Jerusalem to Rome, from a Jewish beginning to a gentile culmination, so the author may well have wanted to avoid ending on a negative note." Perhaps so, sir, but in that case, isn't the writer shooting himself in the foot, so to speak? Scholars also see, I think you will admit, that a sub-theme of Acts is the "equality" of Peter and Paul -- the vindication of Paul's apostleship; so, how better to demonstrate this than to end with both martyrdoms in Rome? Second, may I make the point that from a literary perspective, if Luke's readers knew that Paul had been martyred, then he has ended Acts in the worst possible way for inspiring confidence and commitment in his readers. Ending the work on an "upbeat" note, when it is known that Paul went on to be executed, is like writing a biography of a solider who went heroically to war, in order to exemplify and encourage patriotism, and omitting the fact that he was killed in action! If you knew this, sir, would you appreciate the patriotic sentiments? I think rather you would report the death, and do so in a patriotic light.
You add that it "strikes me as a little naïve to assume that Luke just happened to write his work in that narrow time span after Paul's arrival in Rome but before he met his fate." It strikes me as naive, sir, that you make the presumption that Luke did not begin to write his material in the process of travel with Paul. You add: "...if Acts was written so early, how can it be that no Christian writer, no Father of the Church, shows any knowledge of such a document or its content for another century?" You say that the earliest allusion comes from Justin in 155 or so, but what about that Marcion knew of Acts in the 130s? What of awareness of Luke's Gospel in the Clementine letters and in Polycarp? We are not impressed, Mr. Doherty, by the mere listing of four scholars who date Acts to the second century, and those who think, absurdly, that Luke and Acts were written or modified by different hands years apart. These ad hoc speculations are far outweighed by the data, and, if you wish to play that game, by the number of scholars who do not adhere to this thesis.
You then go on to say, "I would like to point out that there is something very significant in 1 Clement, a letter written from the church of Rome to the church of Corinth around the turn of the second century. Here the author seems ignorant of any martyrdom in Rome for Paul. In chapter 5, he refers to the hardships both Peter and Paul suffered in their apostolic work and the fact that they had ended their lives in the service of the faith. But surprisingly, he brings neither figure to Rome nor states that they had been martyred there." Sir, you are playing your usual games here of reading significance into silence. If it was well-known that Rome was the location of these events, what need was there to mention it? Pray, sir, do not torment us with vague claims that it would be "natural" to do so. You have consistently failed to defend this thesis with hard data rather than presumption. Indeed, it seems rather odd here, for inarguably, Clement says that Paul was martyred; yet you are saying that this lack of detail in mentioning Rome "suggest[s] that such traditions were second century legends not based on fact at all." Now Mr. Doherty, how is it that here and elsewhere, legends developed that apparently recorded the death of Paul, yet failed to say where it happened? Did the legend-mongers forget about geography? You are saying they made up these legends, which the church accepted in spite of not pinpointing the location? Clearly, if they made up an idea that Paul was martyred or not, and Clement alludes to it, the story must have included details such as method and place of execution. So where are these also? Mr. Doherty, are your critical thinking skills deficient? This is just as much a "problem" under your own thesis.
You add, very briefly, that "so much of Acts contradicts the information supplied by Paul himself in his letters." As you do not offer many specifics, and as your nemesis J. P. Holding has addressed this matter and what specifics you do offer, but you have failed to respond, I see no reason to give you any credit for competence. You also said briefly, regarding the amount of time needed for legends to form, that "I might say that half a century would be sufficient time" -- you would say it, yes, but on what grounds? Your say-so is not enough, Mr. Doherty. Let's have some parallel situations in which legends formed around a person, and stuck -- keep the latter criteria in mind especially. What's that? You say, "do you really think that if unfounded beliefs did develop within the Christian church, that anyone would listen to or heed objections put forward by non-believers who were 'in the know'?" Sir, the point is not whether anyone would listen, but whether such objections even existed; and as for that, we have the "stolen body" polemic recorded in Matthew, and nothing else -- certainly no idea that Jesus as a person never existed, or that any of the teachings ascribed to him were falsely ascribed, for example. Do you really think, you who are so fond of citing silence, that there would be so much silence about these important points in works critical of Christianity, from Jews and from Gentiles? I say to you, not in a collectivist society, in which everyone minded the business of others. Did it all simply disappear as the critics died off and others forgot their arguments? But you say, "That's an assumption one can't bring to the period and mentality we are examining. Even Paul condemns as apostles of Satan those who preach 'another Jesus,' showing he is hardly open to opinions that would suggest his own ideas are wrong." Your reasoning is simplistic and overreaching, sir -- this is plainly Paul's first retort to these "apostles of Satan"; how can you judge whether or not those he writes to listened to or heeded him? Are you in possession of something we and Biblical scholars are not? It seems to me, Mr. Doherty, that history offers you rather a large number of conveniences.
You go on to say, "Besides, how many of these corrective eyewitnesses would be available? The Jewish War of 66 to 70 was an horrendous upheaval, killing or dispersing three-quarters of the population of Palestine." In case you have forgotten, Mr. Doherty, Jesus was crucified during a time when there were literally millions (even hundreds of thousands, by conservative estimates) of Passover pilgrims in town; that leaves for plenty of corrective eyewitnesses and their immediate descendants. You also ask, "In any case, how widely do you think the Gospels would be known to outsiders over the first couple of decades of their existence? Even most Christians don't seem to be familiar with the story." Sir, you who accuse Dr. Blomberg of bringing to the period a certain mentality are just as guilty in applying your own indifference, and that of apathetic moderns, to the ancients. How widely known? Sir, we know that Christianity spread to Rome by the time of Nero, if not by the time of the Claudian expulsion; is that enough?
Mr. Doherty, you next address Dr. Blomberg with your keystone arguments regarding the Pauline epistles, especially with regards to 1 Corinthians 11:23 and 15, and Galatians 1-2. As we are aware already of how you attempt to explain away the contents of the epistles, and how these arguments of yours have been vastly disproven with barely a reply from you, we will leave the matter be. Sir, please do not chew on the railing; I have told you it was just lately polished. I would only add here that your comment that "(o)nce you set aside preconceptions based on the Gospels, this passage implies that all these seeings were of the same nature-namely, visionary." How could this be so, sir? Paul is clearly emphasizing the physicality of the resurrection, and answering Corinthian queries about what kind of body the dead will be raised with, and that would not work with a vision. And I would remind you that in Judaism, a "spiritual resurrection" is a contradiction in terms.
You protest? Very well, if it pleases the court, and since it is raining outside, let us indulge Mr. Doherty in his speculations. You say the other epistles confirm "the spiritual nature of that resurrection." You ask Dr. Blomberg, and Mr. Strobel if they can "find any sense of the Gospel resurrection in passages like 1 Peter 3:18? 'In the realm of the flesh he was put to death, in the realm of the spirit he was raised to life.'" One would be hard pressed to find sense in such an egregious translation, sir. Where is the equivalent word for "realm" in the original language of the passage? I'm checking several translations; all so far follow this form: "put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit" -- which version do you have, sir? The Good News for Earl? Let me add that the two verbs in this passage are also found together in the LXX of 2 Kings 5:7, as references to God's power to kill and make alive. Why is this not sensible of the Gospel resurrection?
Ah, well, on to 1 Peter's next words: "(Baptism) brings salvation through the resurrection of Jesus Christ who entered heaven after receiving the submission of angelic authorities and powers, and is now at the right hand of God." You say of this, "From resurrection to heaven with no mention of a sojourn on earth. He was seen by angelic powers apparently, but not by human beings." Sir, has it occurred to you what Peter's purpose in this passage is? He is not trying to prove anything about the resurrection body, as Paul was; he is encouraging his flock, who are persecuted by evildoers, and using the fate of the spirits as an example. Must you insist always upon ignoring contexts and upon the insertion of irrelevancies? I must say that I would find you a dull conversationalist.
To you next cite, Ephesians 1:20: "…when God raised him from the dead, when he enthroned him at his right hand in the heavenly realm." You say here, there is "(n)o mention of a period on earth or resurrection appearances to followers there, either." I have to ask you about your translation again, Mr. Doherty; which version is this you are quoting? Those I consult offer this as saying, "Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places..." with reference to demonstration of God's power. Obviously merely appearing on earth and appearing to people is not a demonstration of power. What are you on about here, Mr. Doherty? Do you find prepositions meaningless and interchangeable? From past example, it seems you do.
Next, with regards to Philippians, 2:6-11. You say, "(t)hat, too, has Jesus going from death to being raised to the heights by God, with not a whisper about any period on earth." Sir, you are imposing expectations on the texts; how many hymns today sing about the exalted Jesus and also make reference to his resurrection appearances? If you ask me, that makes for rather wooden singing. We have seen also answers to your claims from Hebrews and Romans 10:9 and 1 Thess. 4:14, and you have not addressed these at all.
You complain also, regarding 1 Corinthians 15, that "(w)hen Paul goes on in 15:12-16 to urge his readers to believe that humans will be resurrected from death, otherwise 'Christ has not been raised,' he makes no appeal to the 'seeings' listed earlier, and expresses himself once again as though the raising of Christ from the dead is a matter of faith." Sir, he has already appealed to them once, in the context of a highly structured Greco-Roman rhetorical arguments; why must he appeal to them again? Why must Paul be as obsessed with repetitive detail as you are?
Next we embark upon your comments with regards to the various tests for reliability proposed by Dr. Blomberg. Regarding "the intention test" you say, "the idea of things 'handed down to us' does not sound like only a few years after the events themselves." Well, sir, it is clearly few enough that a living witness is handing to the next generation; how many years is a "few" in this context? Do you suppose they all waited until they were nearly dead to pass things on? Don't be absurd. You then say, "..if Luke was writing early, even any time in the first century," he would have known only Mark's Gospel and not "many" precedents, as he says. Sir, you are taking advantage of silence again; you are assuming that we have all data in hand and all sources have survived from this period. Given how little has come down to us from the first century, it seems rather presumptive of you to assume that Luke is telling a fib here. As for knowing Matthew, we will only make these few points beyond issues of the birth narratives. You ask, "What about the fact that the teaching of Jesus as presented in Matthew's Sermon on the Mount ends up in pieces and spread all over Luke's map?" You do not know, Mr. Doherty? You are not aware of Matthew's structure as a teaching manual? You clearly haven't been consulting relevant NT scholarship in your spare time. You also ask, "What about the hearing of Jesus before Herod, splitting up the trial scene before Pilate?" and about the Emmaus scene being only in Luke. One fails to see why this is a problem, sir. Put together any four biographies and you will find that each writer keeps and omits what suits his purposes. Pray, sir, do not be so vague. And for shame -- you adhere to the absurd idea that Luke and Acts were by different writers? How far afield you must wander! And yet more absurd demands: "If the Gospel of Luke were indeed written by Luke, Paul's companion, why does the writer of the preface not say so? Why wouldn't Luke, intruding these personal remarks at the beginning of his work, not identify himself, or his link to the apostle Paul?" Sir, are you at this ploy again? We ask you, rather: Why should have Luke made a point of this link? Of what necessity was it? You speak of it being "a natural part of the appeal he makes to tradition and his own reliability [to] include the connection he is supposed to have enjoyed with the circle of followers of Jesus" -- you think Theophilus was unaware of this? You think he had never met Luke nor spoken to him before this date? You have a strange view of what is "natural," sir. Perhaps you have spent too much time in the rarified confines of academia.
With regards to the next section, we will only make the point that you have still offered no reply to the proof that 1 Thessalonians 2:15-16 is neither an interpolation, nor contradictory to the Gospels, which clearly show the Jewish leadership to be the instigators of Jesus' death.
With regards to the "character test," you cite Paul and John delivering insults which are no different than those delivered by the Qumranites, the rabbis, and secular historians of the period -- are they therefore not to be trusted to tell the truth? Even so, are you insensate to the fact that lying reflects an altogether different lack of a given virtue than insulting others? Sir, did you ever insult someone? Yes? Then are you also a liar? You condemn even yourself when you ask whether "people who express such attitudes toward others liable to maintain 'integrity' when supporting their own point of view" -- to say nothing of assuming your own values upon the ancients, for whom such parlay was stock in trade. I also see no way to trust you with this great misrepresentation -- either that, or you are a poor reader: "Was John a man of integrity when he had his Jesus condemn the entire race of the Jews as belonging 'to your father the devil, 'calling them liars as Satan is a liar?" Mr. Doherty, you are ignoring context yet again. Jesus spoke these words at the Temple, to some Pharisees (John 8:13). How do you say he is speaking to the entire Jewish race? You also say, "Was Matthew's integrity something admirable when he placed in the mouth of his Jewish crowd at Jesus' trial a line that would haunt them for two millennia: 'His blood be upon us and upon our children'?" I see you have failed to do your research yet again -- yes, we know that this verse has been manipulated by anti-Semites to indicate that the Jewish people accepted blood-guilt for the execution of Jesus, knowing that He was innocent. But as Sloyan observes:
The expression, far from being a self-inflicted curse, is a strong statement of innocence. It appears in later, mishnaic form in the Tractate Sanhedrin 37a, where in capital cases the witness uses the invocation as a proof of his innocence. If he is lying, he is willing to have the blood of the accused fall on himself and his offspring until the end of the world.
So, do you still think Matthew might be lying and that a Jewish crowd (more likely, we may add, a crowd in the pay of the high priest, composed of Temple workers) would not say this?
With reference to the "consistency test," your objections are again hopelessly anachronistic. Dr. Blomberg, who is a sight more educated than you are in such matters, says, "My own conviction is, once you allow for paraphrase, abridgement, explanatory additions, selection, omission, the gospels are extremely consistent with each other by ancient standards, which are the only standards by which it's fair to judge them." You say, "It seems that quite a lot could get in the door according to that list. But even all those items wouldn't cover some of the blatant contradictions we find between the Gospels." Well, how have you shown this? I see no analysis of ancient standards in what follows, merely rehashes of your previous objections, and a profession that Blomberg's explanation is "just a smoke screen." You then seek to apply, with no regard, your own modern, anachronistic standards. Do you expect us to consider this sufficient answer?
Regarding the "bias test," you use the example of changes in the account of Jesus' baptism, and say, "later evangelists have altered Mark, for example, to change a picture of Jesus they apparently disapproved of. What has happened to Jesus' baptism, for example, through successive Gospels? Mark has him baptized by John in a straightforward manner, with no sense of difficulty. When Matthew comes to this scene, he hedges a little by having the Baptist express misgivings about the necessity for Jesus to be baptized, and his own worthiness to do it. Luke also evinces some embarrassment about the scene, skimming through a quick reference to Jesus' baptism along with "all the people," and associating the words and the dove from heaven only with succeeding prayers. John will have nothing to do with a baptism of Jesus at all, and simply has John proclaim him to be the Lamb of God. " You say this shows that "recording Jesus' life with great integrity was not the Gospels' intention." Indeed? Sir, your explanations are quite amusing, and manufacture problems where none exist. Let's make the point about Matthew's difference first. Presumably you think there is a problem here in that being baptized by John would suggest that Jesus was not sinless, and that Matthew is covering up this "problem" with John's comments. Well, now. The sinlessness of Jesus is an established teaching in the writings of Paul (2 Cor. 5:21), in the book of Hebrews (4:15) and in epistles of Peter (1 Pet. 2:22) and John (1 John 3:5) that are generally recognized as early and authentic even by the most staid critics. The first and third are thought by the critics to have been written some 10-30 years before Mark, and some will allow that Hebrews and 1 John were written that early as well.
Now let's consider this a moment. We have proof (from Paul, John and Peter) that the doctrine that Jesus was sinless was promulgated quite clearly and unequivocally within 20 years of Jesus' death and resurrection. Few doubt that Mark or anyone else invented the account of Jesus' baptism by John, for the reason that it supposedly causes the very dilemma we alludes to, but even otherwise could be badly misinterpreted. Yet, in spite of the fact that Jesus was baptized by John, somehow Peter, Paul, and the rest came to decide that Jesus was without sin.
So the "problem" existed already when Paul wrote his second letter to the Corinthians; it existed when Peter wrote his first epistle, and it means that it existed before either of these men wrote, and that it probably was part and parcel of Christian catechism from the very beginning, for we can be fairly sure that neither one invented the doctrine on the spot, and certainly not independently of one another! And you would have us believe that this "problem" sat around in the pot for some thirty to fifty years before Matthew slapped his forehead in amazement, recognized the "dilemma," and at once "corrected" Mark's version of events with the little cameo by John the Baptist! Now I ask you this: If Jesus' sinlessness was an essential doctrine of the church from apparently the very beginning, and if the baptism by John was a certifiable fact as well, then how is it supposed by the critics that the church managed to grow and win converts in Judaea and throughout the Empire with a terminally enormous, honking big inconsistency like this one? The answer is actually that even in Mark the "problem" does not exist. Start at Mark 1:4 --
And so John came, baptizing in the desert region and preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.
Mark here makes it quite clear that John's baptism is for the forgiveness of sins, as we all agree. Now go to verse 7-8:
And this was his message: "After me will come one more powerful than I, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit."
Now, sir, in the context of the gospel, this verse -- which appears in some form in all three Synoptics -- is quite clearly supposed to allude to Jesus. Jesus is someone greater than John, more powerful than John, someone so important that John isn't even fit to tie his shoes for him, someone who baptizes with the Holy Spirit, of all things! Who could possibly exercise such control over the Holy Spirit as John exercises over water? Can someone with sin, or any mere mortal, exercise or be given such enormous control over the Holy Spirit? Would God trust such intimate and blanket control of the Holy Spirit to any old shmoe who had a laundry list of sins in his past? Of course not! And so it is that the sinlessness of Jesus, and the fact that he did not come to baptized because he needed it, is clear from the very beginning in Mark to anyone who bothers to read what the text is saying. Matthew's little John cameo, whether you take it as a genuine recollection of an apostle or a witness, or whether you think he made the whole thing up, serves (in line with Matthew's purpose as a "teaching" gospel) as an explicit explanation of what is already clearly implicit in Mark's Gospel: This person to come isn't someone whom John would consider a candidate for baptism. The only way he would be baptized would be for a different purpose -- which is, as is obvious from the divine voiceover that follows in all three versions, because of obedience: The Father wanted Jesus to be baptized. It's as simple as that. And thus also these passages are quite explicable by common oral or eyewitness tradition emanating from two apostolic sources, Matthew and Peter -- and, by Matthew's predisposition as a teaching tool. Moreover, let us remember the connection that Paul's epistles and the Gospels make of Jesus with divine Wisdom, thereby including Jesus in what Bauckham calls the "divine identity." There is simply no way, under this paradigm, that Jesus could have been regarded as anything but sinless!
Now, sir, to Luke's changes to the story. You seem to think that Luke moving quickly through the scene, and referring to "all the people," has some significance. Mr. Doherty, how can you possibly make this discernment? If Luke is trying to de-emphasize the role of John, why does he provide us with his birth story and an extensive recounting of his teaching that none of the other Synoptics provide us with? Isn't this the wrong way to draw attention from John? Luke says Jesus had been baptized, and what famous baptizer did Luke just spend a dozen or more verses telling us all about? Who else was there to baptize, Oral Roberts? It seems to me, sir, that you have erected an edifice without foundation.
Finally, re John's Gospel allegedly leaving the baptism out -- where do you get this from? John the Baptist was recorded as saying, "And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him." Now is this not clearly an allusion to the baptism of Jesus? And if, as we say, John was written to supplement the Synoptics, how is he hiding that Jesus was baptized?
Now regarding the "cover up test," other than appealing to John's supposed omission of Jesus' baptism, you appeal to the idea of dependence on Mark for the others. As we consider such an idea far from proven, especially by you, we will expect more details -- and as usual, you are also anachronizing and imposing the values of modern, positivistic history upon the ancient texts. Re the "corroboration test," you are simply missing Mr. Strobel's point -- the point is that accurate topographical data, for example, adds to reliability, because inaccurate data of that sort detracts from it -- I daresay, sir, there is otherwise no point in checking such data. Do you think that historians are wasting their time on this sort of thing?
Regarding the "adverse witness" test, you are again forgetting that more than the 70 population of Jerusalem was concerned. We of the board wish you could be less narrow in your perceptions, Mr. Doherty. Dr. Blomberg states, "...if critics could have attacked the movement on the basis that it was full of falsehoods or distortions, they would have. But that's exactly what we don't see." You reply that "what we don't see is any comment on Christianity at all" -- and take this as proof that Jesus did not exist! Sir, your disgrace yourself with such manipulations. No, do not appeal to your shopworn thesis of epistolary silence yet again -- you know well enough that that has been soundly refuted.
Security Officer Bucher, will you please splash Mr. Doherty with some cold water? Thank you. I suggest a recess for the rest of the morning; Mr. Doherty is clearly in no further condition to answer questions. We will resume at one with his words to the eminent Dr. Metzger.
Testing -- yes, it is working. Well, Mr. Doherty is here with us again, and seems to have collected his wits again...though he needed some assistance to do so. May we count on your calm this day, afternoon? I'm sure we can....yes, I know that the sleeves are too long. May we now proceed with your words to Dr. Metzger?
The good doctor began by noting the multiplicity of copies of the NT -- to which you said, "multiplicity may be an asset, but it's also understandable. Christianity was a new and vital movement that continued to grow, whereas the ancient culture which it supplanted and even actively sought to destroy was on its way out. Considering that the survival of ancient manuscripts was dependent upon Christian copyists, and that many ancient works were deliberately burned by the Christians, that disparity hardly proves anything." Sir, that is beside the point -- Dr. Metzger does not say that the multiplicity itself proves something, but that it makes it easier to prove textual reliability, as you yourself go on to say. You are mixing apples and oranges here, again, and for the sake only of tarring an eminent scholar. I must say, we continue to be shocked by your unprofessional conduct.
Now with that said, we note that you summarized the state of the NT textual witness quite well -- for of course that is common knowledge, and you did derive it from Dr. Metzger -- I think we need to get to the heart of your reply here: "Even if we had more extensive copies of the Gospels from within a couple of generations of their writing, this would not establish the state of the originals, nor how much evolution they had undergone within those first two or three generations." Well, sir, then are textual critics wasting their time? Is the exercise pointless? I daresay you would not be so blase' before a convention of textual critics. You add: "It is precisely at the earliest phase of a sect's development that the greatest mutation of ideas takes place, and with it the state of the writings which reflect that mutation." Mr. Doherty, I see here only a vague, sociological generalization without evidence -- as well as an immensely begged question. Your only proof of "evolution" in early Christianity is supposed changes to Mark -- and we have seen that the only detailed example you gave is bogus; the few changes I can recall offhand sound to me well within the pale of reliable oral tradition. No, sir, we will not remain content with your further generalizations and rehashing of your much-refuted "netherworld Jesus" thesis -- and moreover, it is extremely unprofessional to cite a work such as Homeric Epics and the Gospel of Mark before it has been subject to extensive critical review. It seems, at any rate, that you can do more than offer speculative conspiracy-mongering against Dr. Metzger's assertions that the text has been faithfully transmitted. That, sir, is not satisfactory in a court of law; next you will say Colombian drug dealers altered the texts!
You next take Dr. Metzger to task for points regarding quotes of an allusions to the Gospels in early church writers. We have already made our points regarding this sort of specious arguing.
Regarding the canon, beyond appeal to your earlier premises, which we have found to be flawed, you offer this reply regarding the "rule of faith" criteria: "...considering that there seems to have been so much dispute in that first hundred years or so, on everything from the nature of Jesus to the need to apply the Jewish Law, how can you speak of 'what the church regarded as normative'?" You do not know, Mr. Doherty? Has it occurred to you to critically analyze the oppositional views stated and test them for coherency? In other words, we can apply the same tests for "normalcy" that the church did. But really, sir, you offer little but vague generalizations here -- how were there differences in these areas you specify? We will expect more detailed analysis from you at a later date, and much more than a vague assertion that "Christianity was a highly fragmented, uncoordinated movement with a great variety of beliefs and theological viewpoints. Bauer's thesis was refuted quite some time ago, sir, and your overreading of texts in your previous works has not been deemed sufficient.
You ask also: "...if manuscripts can survive from the third and fourth centuries, why not from the second?" Well, sir, it seems to me that you are blithely suggesting conspiracy at work yet again. From what I see, the textual evidence is as we would expect -- with more evidence emerging as we progress forward to this time. Now I ask you, how many manuscripts of anything have survived from the second century? And do other documents not reflect the same chronological pro rata? If they do, then how can you naively suggest that this is an issue for the NT? And may I also note that the transition from scrolls to codices took place at just this period?
You also say, "If you postulate that Mark, and even some of the others, were written within a couple of decades of Jesus' life, surely multiple copies would have existed all over the Christian world by the end of the century." Apparently you are not very well informed on the difficulties in reproducing manuscripts in this day and age, sir. Less than 10 percent of the population was literate, by the most optimistic standards, and writing materials were quite expensive. Of course we would not see multiple copies until much later -- when the church had some wealth and power to make the needed copies, and when the writing process was made simpler by the advent of the codex. Really, Mr. Doherty, there are much simpler solutions available for these "problems" you pose.
Your next few comments are little else but conspiracy-mongering, Mr. Doherty. You have clearly not studied the issue of pseudonymity enough to make authoritative statements. Your further mere listing of documents like 3 Corinthians serves no purpose other than a polemical one. You are clearly out of your league dealing with someone of Dr. Metzger's erudition.
It appears that Mr. Doherty requires stronger restraints. Let's break and return with the comments to Dr. Yamauchi.
Well, Mr. Doherty will apparently not be able to return to us for quite some time; at last report he was swinging from the chandelier in the lobby. Hopefully he will return to us soon. In the meantime, if it pleases the board, let us proceed with some informal comments on his questioning of Dr. Yamauchi regarding some of the secular references to Jesus.
Well, I note here his usual arguments -- the Josephus cite is, for the most part, regarded as authentic, and this by a consensus of scholarship; he attributes this to "bandwagon effects" -- in other words, to bias. I daresay that if one cannot actually answer the arguments arrived at by the consensus, charging bias is the next best thing. I see his opinion here that the phrase "a wise man" would not likely be used by Josephus, because of his opinion of other "would-be messiahs" of that time. Hmmm. I would ask Mr. Doherty here about how he terms these others as "would-be messiahs" -- we have no evidence that any of them claimed the title. On the other hand, we also have no indication that Jesus did what Josephus disapproved of with reference to these other people -- led people out to their deaths and led an anti-Roman movement. Josephus would have appreciated much of what Jesus said and did; he was not the same as the overzealous would-be militaristic "Messiahs" commonly opposed and defeated by the Romans. We may note that though containing various subversive elements, Jesus' teachings of this sort were directed not against Josephus' Roman patrons, but against the Jewish establishment, and his miracles were never done with a "revolutionary" purpose in mind (like the pretender Theudas' promise to divide the Jordan do that his troops could pass, or the unnamed Egyptian's threat to knock down the walls of Jerusalem). Jesus never came close to this sort of activity, and even in his "threat" to the Temple was focused on the Jewish establishment, not the Romans; and he did not actually threaten the Temple himself. I believe Charlesworth's comments are pertinent:
Jesus argued against the zealous revolutionaries and was not an apocalyptic fanatic; Josephus would have admired this argument and position. Jesus uttered many wise and philosophical maxims and Josephus was fond of Jewish wisdom and of Greek philosophy.
In summary, I believe that Mr. Doherty is mistaken in thinking that Josephus would put Jesus in this category.
I see also Mr. Doherty making his usual assumptions, for example, that had Jesus "caused an uproar in the Temple by driving out the money-changers" it "would have been the equal of several revolutionary incidents by agitators he mentions elsewhere" and "could hardly have escaped Josephus' attention, or his mention." Indeed? One would ask Mr. Doherty how many people were killed in that incident, and how many were involved. I say he is rather overstating the matter. I find it amusing also that Doherty tells us that "it is highly unlikely that Josephus could have possessed some inside information about such a Jesus" which would enable him to rate Jesus a "wise man" -- Mr. Doherty has caused his own problem here by dating the Gospels very late. This amounts to arguing in a circle.
Curious that Mr. Doherty strains here to find something Josephus would object to: "...there were 'counter-culture' sentiments which would have disturbed Josephus, things like the poor inheriting the earth (which implies the overthrow of established authority) or things that openly criticized the system." How this would have "disturbed" Josephus, when the OT contained practically the same sentiments, is difficult to see. That teaching may well have disturbed -- slightly -- some of Josephus' Roman patrons, but their opinions hardly caused Josephus to abandon his Judaism.
We see, yet again, the argument of no mention of the passage by writers before Eusebius; as yet Mr. Doherty has provided no reason why one of them who should have referred to it in full. He also objects that Josephus shows no knowledge of the Pauline side of Christianity -- on that count, once again Mr. Doherty makes his own problem by assuming a highly diverse Christian movement. And likely, yes, Josephus would have disapproved of the elevation of Jesus to Godhead, but he is not talking about Jesus' followers here other than to note in amazement that they still exist.
Now to the shorter passage in Josephus, we still see little new -- the same question-begging argument that more would have been written about Jesus, so this passage may have been forged, and similar arguments based on the assumption that the larger passage was interpolated. Here is a newer concept: That Josephus in his work "never once deals with the specific topic of Jewish Messiah expectation." Doherty supposes that without explanation, the use of the word "Christ" "would have left the reader scratching his head, and raised a subject Josephus seems to have studiously avoided." Of course, that assumes that Josephus' readers had no idea what the word would mean in the first place. Here again the problem is of Mr. Doherty's own making -- we would assert, of course, that the average Roman reader was familiar with the Christian movement and how it used the word, for of course there were Christians in Rome at the time Josephus was writing. There would be no point of reference or need for referring to Jewish Messianic expectation. We see the old objection about the phrase "so-called" used in Matthew and John -- it has already been seen that this objection, and many others, are answered with no response from Mr. Doherty.
Finally, I would observe that Mr. Doherty displays the woodenness of his imagination in saying that, with reference to James, we "have to question why the Jewish establishment would have become so incensed at the killing of a Christian leader that they would seek to depose their own High Priest." I would suggest that it was not the killing of James per se, but that the High Priest took the coveted right of the Romans to execute people into his own hands.
Has Mr. Doherty recovered yet, Security Officer Bucher? No? Let us proceed, then, to the comments on Tacitus. Mr. Doherty acknowledges, as he has previously, the authenticity of this passage, but then adds, strangely, that he finds it "curious that none of the extant Christian commentators for centuries afterwards refers to a persecution under Nero associated with the fire, despite the fact that they generally love to play up the alleged history of Christian martyrdom." One wonders why this is curious, if Mr. Doherty confesses the authenticity of the passage. Moreover, it apparently escapes him that Christian commentators would get far more mileage out of detailed and recent accounts of martyrdom such as they did use rather than a vague and distant-past account by one who disapproved of Christianity. Mr. Doherty adds, "The likelihood that the Romans kept official records of every one of the countless executions that were conducted around the empire to keep the peace is almost nil. We have no evidence of such extensive record keeping." We don't? I would ask, what then was the purpose of the Romans doing a regular census in their provinces? Did they not write down the information, or did they throw it away immediately upon receipt? The Roman military issued millions of pay slips, yet we have less than a dozen of these extant -- it seems more likely to me that they did keep detailed records, like any bureaucracy, and that they simply did not survive.
We see, of course, the old argument that Tacitus got Pilate's title wrong; this has been answered before. Against Dr. Yamauchi's point that these Christians did not recant, Mr. Doherty says, "Tacitus has nothing to say about whether the accused Christians were given the opportunity to recant. In view of Nero's alleged need for scapegoats, one might think it was unlikely he offered them such an out." Mr. Doherty is, as usual, living in two dimensions -- the opportunity to recant would come at once, at such time as when the subject was asked if they were a Christian.
Regarding Anderson's comments that in referring to Christianity as a superstition that was "checked for the moment" but later "again broke out," Tacitus was "unconsciously bearing testimony to the belief of early Christians that Jesus had been crucified but then rose from the grave," I find Mr. Doherty's reply amusing. He asks, "what could Tacitus have had in mind by referring to Jesus' ministry before he was crucified as a 'mischievous superstition'? Would he really have known that much about it?" Tacitus certainly had the ability to find out more about it, as he did find out more about his other subjects, and it seems to me that this counts as testimony of recognition of Jesus as a divine harbinger of the Kingdom of God -- the very core of the Christian "superstition" -- during his earthly ministry. As Christ-mythers often do, Mr. Doherty assumes his apathy and indifference upon others.
Mr. Doherty then offers the explanation that "Tacitus may have had no more in mind than the idea of Jewish messiah expectation in general, and saw Jesus' career as simply one expression of it." Well, now, Mr. Doherty certainly cannot keep consistency. On the one hand he wants to suggest that Tacitus would not have known much about Jesus' ministry; yet he also wants to suggest that Tacitus had intimate enough knowledge of Jewish Messianic expectations to see Jesus as "simply one expression" of it. Fellow board members, do you detect the odor of rat as much as I do? And one wonders what it is in Jesus' career that Tacitus knew enough about to fit it into the paradigm of Jewish expectations, since Mr. Doherty tells us Tacitus could not have known the Gospel story. Mr. Doherty has a ready speculation, no matter how unfounded, for any eventuality, it seems.
Dr. Yamauchi commented, "Regardless of whether the passage had this specifically in mind, it does provide us with a very remarkable fact, which is this: crucifixion was the most abhorrent fate that anyone could undergo, and the fact that there was a movement based on a crucified man has to be explained. Of course, the Christian answer is that he was resurrected." I find Mr. Doherty's reply rather typical: "[That] founders on an assumption...that the Gospel story is essentially history, and that the movement began and spread more or less on its basis, according to the scenario laid out in the Acts of the Apostles." All Mr. Doherty is doing here is refuting his own thesis. He has no answer for the point that is at issue; he merely assumes it to be wrong. He complains next that Tacitus does not "grace us with a mention of any resurrection, a detail which, even if he did not believe in it himself, would surely not have been ignored if there were strong, longstanding traditions that the movement had begun in response to such a thing." Certainly -- assuming that Tacitus himself agreed that such traditions were strong, longstanding, and so on; I fear Mr. Doherty has forgotten the disrespect the Romans showed for religious innovation, not to mention what they thought of the Jewish view of resurrection -- i.e., it was thought ridiculous to start with, and was far different, despite Mr. Doherty's implications, from the "mystery cult" ideas he so carelessly refers to. I daresay that Tacitus' opinion that the faith was "superstition" would serve well enough to encompass what he thought of the reports of an empty grave and resurrection.
Well, let's look now at the matter of Pliny. Dr. Yamauchi says that this passage "attests to the rapid spread of Christianity" -- Mr. Doherty expresses doubts about this, noting the spread of fifty years or so, saying, "I don't know by what measure this is rapid. And all the salvation religions of the day had believers that cut across class lines." This is perhaps a valid point, though I think Mr. Doherty's commentary would be better informed by input from Stark. Dr. Yamauchi then said that Pliny "talks about the worship of Jesus as God, that Christians maintained high ethical standards, and that they were not easily swayed from their beliefs." Mr. Doherty issues a slight corrective, that Pliny actually says that "they worshiped 'Christ as a god,' Christo quasi deo." This is correct, but he goes on to say that this "is far from identifying their object of worship as a man named Jesus who had recently lived." I would say that the phrase ['as a god'] here would indicate that someone who would not ordinarily be perceived as a god (in Roman eyes) was here being accorded the status of deity, and this points to someone who was (again, in Roman eyes) a known, supposedly mortal person. Pliny would not make the point that Christ was worshipped "as to a god" unless Christ was for some reason not, from his perspective, a being who would not be taken as a god. It is like saying, "They talk to that man as to a spoiled child." The man is not a spoiled child, yet he is treated as one, because his actions are perceived to be those of a spoiled child; indeed such comments, while possible to be made as a clinical observation, usually carry the connotation that the treatment is for some reason inappropriate. Likewise, Pliny's observation indicates that Christ is not (from his perspective) a real god. This leads to the question of why Pliny phrases his words as he does. Mr. Doherty might say that it is because Christ never existed as a person on earth, but was just a spiritual being inhabiting a nether-realm. But if that were the case, then Pliny's statement is curiously worded. He notes that this identification of Christ as a god is part of their "guilt" or "error". How would Pliny know that the Christians were in error about Christ's identity as a god? If Christ was only a nebulous spirit-world being, then Pliny has no rational grounds for doubting his classification as a deity. (Of course that Christ might not have been an all-powerful, supreme deity would not reduce his potential classification as a deity in this context: not all of the gods of the Greco-Roman pantheon were omnipotent!) If he disbelieved in the god Christ, then Pliny would have said, "they worship their god, Christ". When Pliny says Christ is worshipped "as to a god" he must have some concrete reason for believing that Christ could not have qualified for a god. This, as I say, points to a human Christ; what else it might point to is something will leave for Mr. Doherty to speculate wildly about at his convenience.
We, unlike Doherty, find no strangeness in Pliny's use of "Christ" rather than "Jesus" -- one suggests, as has been done before, but to which Doherty has offered no reply, that Pliny simply uses the name which Trajan would be most familiar with. Beyond that, Pliny's lack of report of Gospel details is meaningless -- even in the context of Doherty's assumption that Christ was a nether-world being, Pliny has still left a great deal out. One notices that Mr. Doherty remains patently oblivious to this point, though it has been repeated time and time again.
Gentleman, I think we would do well to pass over some of this material; our time is running short for the day. Beyond other secular reference issues, Mr. Doherty merely rehashes his much-refuted arguments about the Pauline epistles and his blatantly circular reinterpretation of Pauline life markers, like the "seed of David" reference and 1 Corinthians 11:23, and his dismissal of 1 Timothy 6:13, which has been soundly refuted as well, along with the idea that the Pastorals are not Paul's work. To borrow Mr. Doherty's language, the sound of his silence on these matters is deafening.
I see as a skim further the comments Mr. Doherty offers on Romans 14:14 -- which he still seems unaware has been addressed and refuted soundly, as has his ridiculous categorization of Lazarus and Jairus' daughter as "resurrected." Indeed, I see nothing here not once addressed, although I would comment regarding this: "As to whether Paul was a monotheist, we have to question that. Joining a subordinate divine entity to God the Father would have contravened strict monotheism, never mind elevating a human man to that status." I would kindly suggest to Mr. Doherty that he consult his Hurtado and especially Segal -- he will see indeed evidence of the furor that he wonders about, and he will also see that Paul addresses this doctrine quite clearly -- to those who bother to study the relevant material.
Gentlemen, may we call a recess? I would like to see if Mr. Doherty has recovered yet. Thank you.
Well, we have found Mr. Doherty, albeit somewhat damaged...sir, what is that in your hair? Is that carmel corn? I had heard that you had a run-in with our cafeteria, but really -- well, we will make this quick, and then you may return to your room for a freshen-up. Let's look at your comments about historical accuracy, with reference to Dr. McRay. That worthy said, "If the details check out this doesn't prove that his entire story is true, but it does enhance his reputation for being accurate." You reply that you "reject that view on two counts. We would hardly say that an historical novelist's characters and experiences are true just because the setting he puts them in is highly accurate. He is simply aiming for a ring of authenticity, which does not make his fictional elements authentic." Mr. Doherty, I am astonished that you stand against the consensus so -- well, perhaps not. Certainly you know that accuracy of confirmable detail is a hallmark for regarding of accuracy in other matters. It seems to me that you are mixing the point of accuracy with that of genre -- and in that regard, the Gospels are ancient biographies, where we would expect historical reportage -- that is how we know that the evangelists intended their stories to be understood literally. Mr. Doherty, if this is not a criteria to be used, then are you suggesting that secular historians who use this criteria are all fools?
Sir, cease your petulant glaring; if you cannot realize the implications of your words, you should not bother to speak. Your consistent arrogance in supposing that you alone have found hermeneutical keys that none have noticed before, speaks for itself.
Your second objection, though strangely contradictory to the first -- covering all bases as usual, I suppose -- has some merit. You seek to accuse Luke of error, but surely, Mr. Doherty, you must be jesting with these examples. You say, "Luke has Jesus performing this miracle while walking into Jericho, while Mark says he was coming out of it. By a somewhat convoluted explanation about migrating city walls, you purported to show that both could be accurate." Convoluted? Sir, we want to hear the explanation for ourselves, not your opinion of it. This is yet another example of the unprofessionalism that required us to convene these hearings. I think, at any rate, you know that Jericho consisted of two parts, and that between the two was a likely place for beggars to rest. At any rate, in light of your obfuscatory tactics here, I find your charge of McRay producing a "red herring" rather hypocritical.
I see little but generalization in your regard for Luke's Nativity story and the differences with Matthew -- and I daresay had Mr. Strobel dealt with these, you would complain that he omitted something else. You are also clearly behind the times on the differences in the Sermon on the Mount. Carson has observed that Matthew's "mountain" refers to a mountainous region. As for the difference in teachings, may we suggest to you, under genre considerations, that Matthew's composition, in line with his didactic purpose, is a gathering of material in one place, whereas Luke provides us with what is closer to what was actually said on that particular occasion? Given Matthew's obvious structure as a "teaching" gospel, I find this quite likely. Beyond that, merely throwing unique reports of Luke in the air is an absurdity -- if single reportage of an event like this, or like Lazarus' raising, has any meaning of the sort you suppose, then all modern biographies are out of the window.
Regarding John, I see you have fallen for the argument that "John has Jesus crucified on Passover Eve itself, while the Paschal lambs are being slaughtered in the Temple, whereas the synoptic evangelists place it on the day before." Sir, where do you see this? I see no date indication given; as others, you merely assume that the Last Supper was a Passover meal observed at the only time possible in your view.
You also venture on Mark 7:31, and at least this time you report Dr. McRay's actions -- he "pulled a Greek version of Mark off his shelf, grabbed reference books, and unfolded large maps of ancient Palestine," and said, "Reading the text in the original language, taking into account the mountainous terrain and probable roads of the region, and considering the loose way 'Decapolis' was used to refer to a confederation of ten cities that varied from time to time, McRay traced a logical route on the map that corresponded precisely with Mark's description." We too wish that Mr. Strobel had reproduced the map (but you are rather the hypocrite, sir, in making this insistence), but would note that you make the same errors that all do on this point. First, you make the assumption that in delineating this route, Mark is thereby stating that this was the shortest route -- why is this not a reflection of an extended tour through the region? Furthermore, I would bring your attention to the comments of Edwards, who, in his essay, "The Socio-Economic and Cultural Ethos in the First Century," has noted:
Indeed, even the Jesus movement's travel from Tyre to Sidon to the Decapolis depicted in Mark, which has struck some New Testament interpreters as evidence for an ignorance of Galilean geography, is, in fact, quite plausible. Josephus notes that during the reign of Antipas, while Herod Agrippa I was in Syria, a dispute regarding boundaries arose between Sidon and Damascus, a city of the Decapolis. It is therefore conceivable that the movement headed east toward Damascus and then south through the region of the Decapolis, following major roads linking Damascus with either Caesarea Philippi or Hippos.
Mr. Doherty, we will leave the discussion of the census for others more competent in that area. Let us move to yet another of your non-consensus opinions, that perhaps Nazareth did not exist. You admit that Josephus may not have mentioned this place because it was so insignificant, and you say with Dr. McRay, "certain archaeological finds which might suggest that there was such a place in the first century, and some scholars do agree, though not with too much enthusiasm." Really, sir. Imputing emotions to others without substantiation is a crude and unprofessional tactic. So, then, you have quotes from these scholars proving their less-than-enthusiastic endorsement? Well, where are they?
Sir, I fear searching your pockets will prove fruitless. Bring this board proof of such emotive intent at a later date and we will offer a reconsideration. Beyond that I see you playing your usual games -- asking why Nazareth is not mentioned in the epistalory writings. Pray, sir, within what contexts should it have been mentioned, and why? You have no answer? I thought not. Nor will fussing about Matthew's typological efforts, quite typical for the Judaism of the period, aid your case.
Now sir, I see you raising the typical objections against the lack of mention of Herod's "Slaughter of the Innocents" in non-Christian historian's works. I see also you come to a rapid conclusion that it is "logical" to say it did not happen because it was not recorded in Luke -- the same sort of objection we have covered before. Now Dr. McRay makes the usual and proper points in reply -- that there would be few male children of that age group in Bethlehem -- we would estimate as few as five or ten -- that in the grand picture of Herod's career, this would hardly be a point of dust; and finally, he adds that news of this would not get out from "a minor village way in the back hills of nowhere." You respond to the latter point first, saying that, "Bethlehem...was scarcely five or six miles from Jerusalem. That is hardly in the back hills of nowhere." You are anachronizing, sir -- in today's age of automobiles, this is of no moment, but for a poor and tiny village whose inhabitants were unlikely to possess rapid transportation, not so much as a horse though perhaps a drowsy mule, five or six miles is a considerable journey. But that is a minor point. You go on to insist that "even if this slaughter were of only a couple of dozen male children, the senselessness of such an act would surely have captured someone's attention." Well, sir, this is no more than your usual game -- "surely"? Why? Dr. McRay has provided the antithesis, and you have no answer, just a "surely" thrown in the air with the anachronistic air of modern news reports that bring us word of every school shooting from every corner of the nation. Josephus says that Herod murdered a vast number of people, and was so cruel to those he didn't kill that the living considered the dead to be fortunate. Thus, indirectly, Josephus tells us that there were many atrocities that Herod committed that he does not mention in his histories - and it is probable that authorizing the killing of the presumably few male infants (I rather think your "couple of dozen" is even an overstatement) in the vicinity of Bethlehem was a minuscule blot of the blackness that was the reign of Herod. Being that the events of the reign of Herod involved practically one atrocity after another - it is observed by one writer, with a minimum of hyperbole, that hardly a day in his 36-year reign passed when someone wasn't sentenced to death - why this event have garnered special attention? We think it doubtful that Josephus recorded EVERY atrocity performed by Herod; if he had, his works would be rather significantly larger!
You go on to add that the "motif of a child being born who presents a threat to a ruler, who then seeks unsuccessfully to have that child killed or neutralized, often by slaughtering other children, is rampant throughout ancient world mythology and even biographies of historical famous men." Well, sir, real history is full of accounts of heirs being slaughtered for political purposes; it is illegitimate to assert that alleged parallels (and I see you name them, but fail to explain them) equate with invention. Shall I name some for you? I shall -- after you provide your explanations. You are the subject of this board's inquiry, not I.
Security Officer Bucher, it appears that Mr. Doherty needs his restraints again. Sir, unhand my necktie!
Ahem....well, it seems that Mr. Doherty is unable to control his behavior when confronted by his incompetence, so we will again continue without him. Perhaps a night of reflection will cool him down. Now, let us move to his questions to Dr. Boyd. I see little here but the usual bare dismissal of the miraculous, and Mr. Doherty's personal skepticism applied universally. Ah, now, here is an interesting point: "If this man in Palestine in the early first century¾assuming he existed at all¾really did all the things the Gospels claim of him, can we really believe that his fame would not have spread far and wide?" Well, it did, and to Rome by as early as the 40s, so that is an answer. Of course, Mr. Doherty has caused his own problem here by refusing to recognize the sources as valid. But at any rate, it seems clear that the spread of Christianity follows an expected rate of growth for any social movement, and I am not sure what more Mr. Doherty could ask. Moreover, I think he anachronizes yet again here -- he is placing his skepticism of miracles in the heads of all who would hear the Gospel and anticipating that they would be as amazed and flummoxed as he would be. Apparently he forgets that even today, men have ways of explaining away what they do not wish to accept. Jesus could be dismissed, as Celsus dismissed him, as an Egyptian magician. Today we have William Shatner suggesting offhand that Jesus was a spaceman. Truly, I think Mr. Doherty needs a few more social encounters.
Hmm, and these further bits of imagination seems to prove that. He says that "Jesus would have been inundated by people with recently deceased relatives." Well, let's analyze this one for a moment. There are several assumptions inherent in this. First, that there would be those who would want their relatives alive again -- the Jews didn't exactly think that life after death was unpleasant, and I daresay that only the likes of Jairus or Mary and Martha would look for such help from Jesus -- that is, in the case of a young life cut tragically short. Second, there is the assumption that they could readily find Jesus before the body decomposed to the point where resuscitation (note: not resurrection) would be feasible. The centurion managed this, of course, but he had better resources at his disposal than the average Galileean peasant. Third, the assumption is that mortality was frequent enough within the given space around Jesus that such events were likely to have opportunity in the first place. Finally, there is the false assumption that all would believe that Jesus was capable of such feats. I think Mr. Doherty offers a rather naive sociological perspective here....and this is shown further in this comment: "He would have been brought to the empire's capital, ready to resuscitate the aged Tiberius when the emperor's death arrived." Indeed! So the Romans would stoop themselves to acquiring the services of a backwoods Galilean Jew, a believer in superstition? Jews were regarded as magicians, but I see no indication that the Emperor Tiberius would stoop to the assumed level. Moreover, Mr. Doherty fails to realize the implications of his scenario -- next would come rival political factions seeking to destroy Jesus personally, or start a political war, or kidnap him for their own purposes. And then there would be worse to come...it seems Mr. Doherty has failed to learn the same lesson that those who tried to make Jesus king missed. And incidentally, what makes him think that Jesus would have agreed to go to Tiberius' service in the first place?
How interesting, as well, that Mr. Doherty states that "If Jesus had really cured so many people of blindness, deafness, leprosy, illnesses of many kinds, he would have been crushed by the stampede, or forced into hiding." The Gospels record that this did indeed happen at times!
Much of what follows has been answered in other venues, especially the material on Apollonius of Tyana. That Mr. Doherty makes use of such arguments, I daresay, is further evidence of his incompetence as an attorney. So, likewise, his vague appeal to the "savior deities of the mystery cults." I wonder which "mystery savior" Mr. Doherty would pull out of his hat? Ah, I see -- Mithras and Dionysus. Very unfortunate examples, I'd say.
We will close today's proceedings with this, gentlemen. Mr. Doherty refers to the rebuttal of the critic Celsus, "In truth, there is nothing at all unusual about what Christians believe." Indeed! I daresay only that Celsus was as profoundly dense as Mr. Doherty appears to be. His comparisons to Mithras and Dionysus are clearly dismal failures; we shall just have to see if he can do better.
May I motion that we adjourn until such time as the transcript of Mr. Doherty's next account is available? Seconded? Very well; I call this meeting of our board adjourned. And if anyone sees Mr. Doherty, please ensure that he bathes prior to his return.
Testing...yes...well, this is day two of our competency hearing with regards to Mr. Doherty, and it seems he will be a little late this morning, as I understand the police are requiring him to fill out some forms. Nevertheless, as they say, the show must go on -- so let's proceed to his examination of Dr. Witherington, shall we?
Now I am looking over Mr. Doherty's questions to Dr. Witherington, and he begins by asking whether it is "curious" that God "had never given [the Jews] an inkling that he was in fact a tri-partite God, comprised of Father, Son and Holy Spirit." It seems that Mr. Doherty has never read Dr. Witherington's material on Wisdom -- if he had, he would know that such inklings were present as early as Proverbs 8. And it seems that the Jews of the Maccabbean period came quite close to such ideas, as did Philo. Since Mr. Doherty clearly knows of these works, I find it surprising that he doesn't grasp the connection. I suppose the Jews of the time were rather more sensitive than Mr. Doherty. At any rate, this rather makes his further questioning on the matter of the Trinity mostly irrelevant. It is certainly not a sign of competence when the proper groundwork is not laid, but this seems to be a recurring pattern with Mr. Doherty. And it is certainly clear that he hasn't an inkling himself of what the Trinitarian doctrine means.
Dr. Witherington commented, "Look at his relationship with his disciples. Jesus has twelve disciples, yet notice that he's not one of the Twelve. If the Twelve represent a renewed Israel, where does Jesus fit in? He's not just part of Israel, not merely part of the redeemed group, he's forming the group just as God in the Old Testament formed his people and set up the twelve tribes of Israel." Mr. Doherty says he "fail[s] to see the relevance of such a 'clue.'" I see here again reason to doubt Mr. Doherty's intellectual capacities. It seems clear that Dr. Witherington is making the point that in choosing exactly twelve disciples, he was imitating God's choice of the twelve tribes of Israel. Mr. Doherty seems oblivious to this point.
Let's move further down in the testimony. Dr. Witherington said, "It's not the fact that Jesus did miracles that illuminates his self-understanding. What's important is how he interprets his miracles. To Jesus, his miracles are a sign indicating the coming of the kingdom of God. They are a foretaste of what the kingdom is going to be like. And that sets Jesus apart." To this Mr. Doherty replied, "Yes, and since the time of the prophets, such as Isaiah, that Kingdom was forecast as destined to involve dramatic miracles like healing the blind, the lame, the sick, the dumb, although no prophet actually forecast that it was Jesus, much less a divine Son of God, who would perform such feats. This was the expectation of an era marked by sectarian and even popular agitation over the advent of God's transformation of the world, which he would do through a variety of agencies or simply by his own arrival on the Day of the Lord. This was hardly a new idea produced by Jesus or his personal activities." Again Mr. Doherty seems oblivious to the main point -- it is not that the idea was "new," but that Jesus himself is doing the forecasted miracles. Whether the idea is "new" or not is utterly beside the point. One wonders where Mr. Doherty's head is. It seems not surprising, then, that he essentially changes the subject by simply suggesting that the early Christians wrote these miracles back into the record and by assuming the usual plethora of theoretical constructs such as the legendary Q document and "communities" matched to each Gospel. Well, when you have no actual evidence, I suppose that's the best you can do is theorize something out of existence. He does this also in the next section, with regards to Jesus speaking on his own authority -- appealing to otherwise unknown "preachers" and "the evolving community." One suggests that these "communities" find their greatest evolution in Mr. Doherty's imagination -- and as needed to suit his purposes.
On the matter of the "Abba" usage, it seems that Mr. Doherty still has grease on the mind. He fails to grasp the implication of Jesus being the first to use this designation for God. He also fails to show that the Cynics he appeals to referred to God in such intimate terms. That they saw God as benevolent is beside the point -- the point is that the specific intimacy, the personal relationship suggested by "Abba," points to Jesus' claim to divinity. Given his inability to grasp these simple concepts, we are not surprised to see Mr. Doherty changing the subject yet again and trying to gain some points by intimating that it is somehow unfair that "salvation and a relationship with the universal God should be available for all people at all times and places only through contact with a single man who appeared at a fixed and obscure point in history..." Given that Mr. Doherty himself has full knowledge of this "single man" and the "obscure point in history" he refers to, his complaint is both self-contradictory and ridiculous.
Now we get to the point where Mr. Doherty discusses the prologue to John, and Jesus' claims to be Messiah. Again, it seems that the best he can do is suggest that old ideas and claims were applied to Jesus fictitiously. Since that is not the point of Dr. Witherington's interview, it is obvious that Mr. Doherty is expressing his incompetence again by changing the subject. I think the board will agree that such behavior is unbecoming a professional attorney.
I next note that Mr. Doherty wonders why Mark offers no parallel to the "rock" profession of Peter, if Peter is indeed the source of Mark's material. I think that Mr. Doherty has falsely assumed that the traditional Catholic interpretation of that passage is the only one available. His objection here is based upon a premise he has failed to investigate. Again, very unprofessional work.
Mr. Doherty follows by responding to the claim that the idea of a divine Jesus could not have arisen in such a short period with more allusions to his own discredited thesis concerning lack of details in the epistalory records. We will simply note that these tired arguments have been refuted in other contexts and that Mr. Doherty has offered no response of substance. How very amusing, as well, that he repeats his sentiments regarding Mithras, Dionysus, and now Osiris and Attis as well...Mr. Doherty is clearly unaware that scholars specializing in the study of these beings find no such connection as he suggests. That he is not indicates, again, unprofessionalism.
Yes, Security Officer Bucher? You say that Mr. Doherty is now available and waiting outside the courtroom? Hmm -- ironic, considering our next topic of discussion....well, gentleman, I suggest a short break while we get Mr. Doherty situated.
Well, we're back -- and Mr. Doherty, that fashion you are wearing is quite unusual....I believe I last saw that outfit worn by Hannibal Lechter. Well, sir, if you had kept your hands off my person in our last meeting, you would not be in this situation.
Onward, at any rate, to the question of Jesus' mental state -- this is often encapsulated in the popular "Lord, Liar or Lunatic" argument. Now Mr. Doherty, are you trained as a psychologist? You are not? Have you made any study of mental disturbances? No? Have you at least read Milton Rokeach's study of the Ypsilanti Christs? Not even that? Then sir, how can you possibly suggest with any authority that Jesus may have been deluded? It seems the best you can do is beg the question by asking whether there might be psychosis involved in Jesus' self-identification. Sir, that is the very question at issue. And you utterly fail to address Dr. Collins' points. He at least shows some signs of understanding the "Christ complex" -- it is not merely being "capable of close contact with certain individuals, others who may be of like mind" that he refers to, and in a broader sense, needs to be evaluated. And I see alse you offer the standard misunderstanding of Luke 14:26, and that you fail to note, even as Ms. Acharya S did, that Jesus clearly states that division within families would occur because of those who reject the believers, not the other way around.
Dr. Collins alludes then to paranoia as a characteristic of the mentally disturbed. Indeed, we did see this in Rokeach's study. Mr. Doherty, I am reading your response now, and I am astonished at your bigotry and presumption. You say that the ancients "regarded the world as full of hostile evil spirits, who were responsible for everything from sickness to accidental mishaps, even for unbelief and incorrect faith. Jesus clearly subscribed to this outlook, in his exorcisms and exchanges with evil demons." Now Mr. Doherty, really. Is this an accurate sociological assessment? Just what do you mean, "full of" and "everything"? Did they attribute every sickness, mishap, etc. to demons and spirits? From the little old lady tripping to the flowerpot falling from the window? So they were all paranoid, Mr. Doherty? And is this actually a correspondent to the modern condition of paranoia? From what I see in the New Testament, and from ancient literature, there are many mentions of sickness and mishaps and unbelief, if not the majority, that are not regarded as finding their source in evil spirits. Sir, your bigotry, again, I find astonishing.
Now Dr. Collins next makes an excellent point, one again confirmed by Rokeach's work -- I really wish you had seen it, Mr. Doherty. The teachings of some of these mentally-disturbed "Christs" is quite enlightening. Dr. Collins refers to Jesus as one who "spoke clearly, powerfully and eloquently...was brilliant and had absolutely amazing insights into human nature...was loving but didn't let his compassion immobilize him; he didn't have a bloated ego, even though he was often surrounded by adoring crowds; he maintained balance despite an often demanding lifestyle; he cared deeply about people; he responded to individuals based on where they were at and what they uniquely needed." Now Mr. Doherty, this is an assessment that is shared by many, even by non-believers, yea, even by certain atheists. And yet you accuse Dr. Collins of merely seeing what he wants to see, and then proceed to beg the question by making the claims of divinity a sign of a bloated ego? Sir, again, your ignorance of the psychological complexities involved here are astounding. I submit to the board that this is yet more indication that Mr. Doherty is not to be given credence as an attorney.
You next confronted Dr. Collins on the question of miracles. Generally it seems you do no more than recite your previous arguments and beg the naturalistic question -- tainted with bigotry yet again, I see. Gentleman, I see no place in a courtroom for Mr. Doherty's smug superiority -- especially since he fails to see, in his remark that sciences are works in progress, a form of the very "faith" in the unseen that in others he essentially attributes to mental illness. Mr. Doherty, do you consider yourself, as even Arthur Clarke does, to be one of the few psychologically healthy people in existence? Now then, what were those words about having a bloated ego?
Security Officer Bucher, I believe Mr. Doherty needs a treatment with the fire hose? Thank you. Now looking ahead, I see that Mr. Doherty is up to the usual games...suggesting that Mark's account of the Gerasene swine is an allusion to Roman soldiers, or to an episode recorded also in Josephus -- it is interesting, is it not, how much history must be invented in order to explain away history? And yet another reference to MacDonald's work -- shameful, Mr. Doherty, shameful; you should be cautious, again, about endorsing new theories uncritically; you may have to eat your words tomorrow if you are not careful. And here is yet another of your tired theories, that the NT writers simply copied OT stories -- sir, are you not aware that this thesis deserves no credit? It is an invention of skeptical faith, Mr. Doherty, one that fails to respect ancient literature in its context.
Now I find this next supposition amusing, and rather typical of you, Mr. Doherty. You say:
Take your reference to Jesus multiplying the bread and fish to feed 5000 people. First of all, such an event would have been something the Roman authorities could not fail to have learned about and become alarmed at a popular agitator attracting vast crowds and working them up with alleged miracle-working. This is something which would have led to Jesus' immediate arrest and probable elimination. Palestine at that time was a land in ferment, and we know from the historian Josephus that quick action was taken against such agitators, usually involving their summary execution and the slaughter of those who followed them.
Now Mr. Doherty, really. This event took place in the countryside; no Roman witnessed it. If one or more of those Galileean peasants came back to Capernaum and told a Roman soldier that some preacher had miraculously produced food for them, do you really think that Roman soldier would think twice about it before collapsing in laughter at the idiocy of these foolish backwater natives? You know well enough that the majority of Romans thought of Judaism as a superstition. Perhaps, sir, if that Jew had come saying that Jesus was miraculously producing spears and armor, and had that peasant and others come as well and knocked the Roman solider senseless, then perhaps there would have been some reaction by the Romans. They hardly had enough troops available to do more than go after the most extreme and militaristic cases. Your analysis is rather simplistic as history.
You go on to say that it is naive to say there would be no such reaction, and that anyone "who preached to the downtrodden masses that they were going to inherit the earth upon the imminent arrival of God's Kingdom would have been seen as advocating and promising the overthrow of present society. The encouragement of belief, especially through alleged miracles, that Rome was about to be ousted by divine forces, was precisely what the authorities were forced to suppress through most of the first century." Mr. Doherty, other than the miracles, which no Roman witnessed, haven't you just described the Qumranites? So why were the Romans not rooting them out of their caves? And let me ask further, Mr. Doherty, how could you on the one hand argue earlier that Jesus' miracles would have had him taken to Rome to be the emperor's physician, yet argue now that it would have caused a military response by Rome? Do you suppose you could make up your mind for us?
You follow with yet more appeals to your own discredited theories, and yet more simplistic analysis -- as if, sir, such complex topics as the Incarnation could be dealt with satisfactorily by you in a mere paragraph. You also fail to recognize the proper interpretation of Col. 1:15 and of "firstborn." Some of your insights on Wisdom are quite correct, but your applications are rather miserable failures -- as is shown especially by your ignorance of the fact that, rather than not fitting the theology of the Trinity, the Wisdom factor, and even 1 Cor. 15:24, goes hand-in-glove with it. Your knowledge of theology is rather limited for someone who so denigrates it, Mr. Doherty. In this light, your many comments to Dr. Collins -- or is it Dr. Carson? you seem be talking to him without having called him to the stand -- are merely vanity.
I think we need the fire hose again, Security Officer Bucher. Thank you. Don't blame us for your own inability to track your witnesses, sir.
Now you next address Colossians 2:9, in which the word somatikos is used. You dispute the interpretation of the word as meaning "in bodily form" and note that "Bauer's Lexicon suggests that it is probably to be understood as meaning "in reality" rather than "symbolically," and that it "points to the use of soma in 2:17, which translates this way: 'These (referring to present religious practices) are a shadow of the things that are to come; the reality (soma) is found in Christ.'" An interesting interpretation, Mr. Doherty. I wonder why you did not note that the "in reality" interpretation was offered by the likes of Caird under the presumption -- now greatly in disfavor -- that in Colossians, Paul was disputing a docetic Christology, so that it is actually taken to be affirming the Incarnation. But tell us, does verse 2:11 refer to "the reality (soma) of the sins of the flesh"? That doesn't make sense, does it? It seems to me, sir, that this verse and the references to the resurrected body, and to physical actions of the body, that follow, point in precisely the opposite direction. You then add, "Notice also, that the verb 'lives' is in the present tense, not the past, which any writer would surely have used if he were thinking of the 'body' of a recent man on earth." You forget, as usual, sir, that by the thinking of these men, the resurrected Christ is still alive and has ascended to Heaven. Of course it is in present tense; and Christ, in his historical embodiment, would still bring the characteristics of deity into focus. And Mr. Doherty, you very badly need to consult Gundry's study on the use of soma. It was never, never used in ancient Greek of a "spiritual entity." You are merely reading your bankrupt theories into the text.
On the next section, I will only briefly comment that you, like many, are completely unaware that the Trinity does indeed permit a sense of functional subordination. If you are going to criticize the theology of others, you should at least know what that theology is about. But your contempt for such matters is clear enough, with you snide references to dancing. Such bias and bigotry is rather unbecoming for an attorney.
You bring up the matter of hell -- and about those who never hear the Gospel. It's clear from your comments that you hardly take matters of sin or the holiness of God seriously, Mr. Doherty, which may explain why you feel free to manipulate data to your own ends. That you ask "What, indeed, is undesirable about pride?" also explains, I daresay, why you see nothing wrong in egotistically claiming that thousands of scholars over thousands of years have been wrong about Jesus, and you have discovered what they have failed to notice. Pride, indeed!
In light of our time constraints, and the fact that the subject has been dealt with adequately elsewhere, we will also give short shrift to the matter of slavery in the Bible. Were you aware, Mr. Doherty, that leading Western abolitionists used the Bible to justify their crusades? I didn't think so. And it is rather simple-minded of you to say that "overthrowing slavery took another 18 centuries to achieve." You are referring, sir, to a wide variety of societies and social conditions, not a monolithic and historically continuous enterprise.
Gentleman, at this time, may I suggest a break? We will release Mr. Doherty from his restraints and see if he will behave himself.
Well, it seems my confidence in Mr. Doherty was ill-placed. Let it be noted for the record that no sooner did we release him from his restraints, than he took it upon himself to wrest the fire hose from the Security Officer Bucher and proceed to give each member of the panel a thorough washing. We appreciate the sentiment on such a hot day, but I fear all of the furnishings are ruined. We will have to close for the day shortly to allow the janitorial staff to clean this abhorrent mess up. Does anyone by chance recognize what it was that Mr. Doherty was shouting? It seemed vaguely reminiscent of something from a Rambo movie. Well, no matter. The police are pursuing Mr. Doherty as we speak; we shall continue ourselves by examining his questioning of Mr. Lapides on Messianic prophecy. Thankfully this will actually not take long -- Mr. Doherty, it seems, is clearly unaware of Jewish exegetical practices of the first century, and simply makes the same errors that have been made by the likes of Thomas Paine. He is also scraping the bottom of the barrel by appealing to the "like a lion" translation of Ps. 22 and mixing in some of the usual "written into the Gospels after the fact" claims, as well as bigotry yet again in suggesting that this was somehow a bad way to communicate with humanity -- any port in a storm, it seems; the Jews of the first century didn't seem to share this complaint. Well, at least honest skeptics, like the worthy Mr. Tim Callahan, admit that acceptance or rejection of such things is a matter of faith on either side. With that we do agree. I see little need to address what else Mr. Doherty has said to Lapides -- his denigration of the detailed Daniel prophecy as "apocalyptic mumbo-jumbo" and dismissive late-dating of Daniel, without any critical analysis in either case, proves that he has said nothing here worth our concern. That he dismisses the works of Daniel and Revelation as "grotesque imaginings" further proves him to be a bigot of the highest order.
It seems that we may now stop for the day. Assuming that the janitorial staff does its work well, we will return tomorrow for the last of the witnesses Mr. Doherty called.
Well, ladies and gentlemen of the board, we enter our third and final session of this competency hearing, and once again it seems we are without our subject. At last report he was seen standing in a freeway median singing The Last Train to Clarksville. Perhaps he will be able to rejoin us after rush hour. In any event, we may now return to some of Mr. Doherty's arguments. He begins his third installment with the typical and rather simplistic arguments of bias and theological editing in the New Testament -- matters that have been addressed so often that one wonders how Mr. Doherty has been able to avoid seeing them...one suggests that he has seen them, but has no suitable answer. Once this is done, he calls Dr. Stein to the stand, a forensic pathologist. Now we may observe right away that Mr. Doherty has no medical qualifications...it is further evidence of his unprofessionalism, we would argue, that he did not call an expert witness to the fore here on his behalf.
Mr. Doherty does begin by acknowledging that such ideas that Jesus did not die on the cross are ones he does not wish to endorse. But he then proceeds to his usual machinations, finding some significance in the fact that John's Gospel does not report certain events the Synoptics do (again, seemingly unaware of the construction of John as a supplement to the Synoptic record) or that only Luke reports Jesus' sweating of blood, or only John reports the breaking of legs and the spear thrust...in other words, finding the usual significance in silence, with no other argument than the implied amazement he feels that would require that such events be reported uniformly by every account, and the naive suggestion that no one would have heard Jesus' prayer or seen the bloody sweat, since the disciples were asleep. Of course, Mr. Doherty is rather naive here to suppose that the literary practice of the Evangelists somehow means that they are inventing history. No one has ever doubted that there is literary practice at work; after all, the Gospels were documents that had to be read aloud to a society that was mostly illiterate. We would expect such literary constructions. Mr. Doherty's naive question, "Did the event really transpire like that?," plays in context, perhaps, as a way of suggesting a total lack of historicity; but those with more critical minds know that the question is a non-issue -- perhaps Jesus did get up and go back to pray 1, 2, 4, or 6 times in actuality; that's beside the point. Within the context of a didactic presentation, such patterning is to be expected, and is meant to be discerned.
We see next the usual offering that the Evangelists invented history by backreading the OT. As always we note that this was not how the process of hermeneutics worked out in the first century -- our evidence shows that the event called forth the scripture, not vice versa. Indeed, one thinks that if the evangelists were inventors, they could have come up with much better "matches" based on the OT. Mr. Doherty speaks of the evangelists "picking, choosing, and inventing" for their stories; the first and second may be clear indeed, but offers no proof of the third in and of itself.
Can anyone understand the point of Mr. Doherty's diversion concerning the issue of stigmata? I think that the issue deserves a far better treatment than Mr. Doherty's anecdotal mullugutherings for the sake of scoring points. Very well indeed did the judge make a point of admonishing him for this.
Now Mr. Doherty goes on to wonder whether, after the ordeal of scourging, Jesus could have carried his part of the cross through the city. Of course, we would make the point that he did fail to complete the journey carrying the beam; beyond that, Mr. Doherty's words are truly those of a creampuff. Gentlemen, admittedly neither I nor any of us present has the stamina to endure as much as a 10K run. But I think Mr. Doherty fails to realize that ancient people as a whole, if they survived and wished to continue surviving, had to be much more fit than any of us are today. He has no place for his argument that Jesus could not have carried his crossbeam or spoken from the cross.
Mr. Doherty then goes on -- strangely, in light of his profession not to wish to enter into such speculation -- to ask how the Roman solider could have distinguished death from "mere fainting." One might ask Mr. Doherty where he received enough medical knowledge to imply that the two conditions resemble one another enough so that one without enough knowledge could be confused. And Mr. Doherty certainly has seen less death than that soldier likely did...as one who had perhaps seen the terror of the battlefield, and had certainly witnessed many an execution by crucifixion. Doctor he may not have been, but he was certainly better acquainted with death by crucifixion than Mr. Doherty is.
We will skip Mr. Doherty's usual diatribe on the matter of alleged backwriting of events from the Old Testament; we have been through this subject before. But here is another interesting subject -- Mr. Doherty brings up the question of the actual date of the crucifixion. Now I must admit, this is an interesting topic, indeed. He says that John has the crucifixion take place on Passover, whereas, he says, the Synoptics place it on the day after Passover. Well, he certainly has made no effort to investigate analyses of this subject, for a very simple solution lies at hand. That said, I find it rather disconcerting that he puts the question to Dr. Stein particularly rather than addressing it to one of the Biblical scholars. I suppose I could make Mr. Doherty look as underhanded by asking him about a subject of which he is ignorant.
Mr. Doherty's next section contains questions that have been addressed in other contexts; that he personally derives from the crucifixion a lesson other than that of love is an interesting reflection of his own psychology and bigotry, but hardly worthy of use in a courtroom as an argument. We also note that several arguments following about the burial of Jesus, which he puts to Dr. Craig, have been addressed previously, in a number of different contexts, by his nemesis J. P. Holding. Mr. Doherty continues to argue from silence, with neither legitimation nor proof of need to fill a silence, on matters such as the Corinthian creed not appearing in later documents. I note also Mr. Doherty's clear lack of knowledge displayed in the statement that, "Oral tradition over several decades would hardly have preserved things in exactly the same pattern everywhere they spread, the same plot line to the story of Jesus, the same emphases, the same sequence of events through the passion account, down to small details," or that a certain technique used by Mark and John could only indicate literary dependence (though in this case, that may have happened). He has clearly not studied oral tradition processes to any extent; but even so this broad generalization is thoroughly inadequate.
Much of what follows is little more than Mr. Doherty's usual speculative accusations of literary manufacturing. The "ascending order of detail and sophistication" he sees is a figment of his own construction, based on a social, not a literary, theory -- does he have any model upon which to base this idea? -- and based entirely on a presumption of Marcan priority, which we have noted in far from secure. I note also that his only answer regarding the use of Joseph of Arimathea is a circular reference back to a late date of Mark -- though why he supposes even a late date would have made it so that no one "would be around to verify or deny the details" is beyond me. Using key figures like Joseph in your story, whose family would have remained and would have been around to object, is not beyond verification even by the late date Doherty arbitrarily assigns to Mark and the other Gospels.
I find amusing Mr. Doherty's attempt to establish by association that Paul could be implying a "spiritual" resurrection in 1 Cor. 15, because Paul adds an "unJewish" element of the Eucharist. Mr. Doherty could stand to read Gundry's landmark study of soma if he thinks a spiritual resurrection can be read out of Paul's words. Moreover, other than the Christian elements, nearly everything in Paul's letters bespeaks Judaism and a Judaistic background. Mr. Doherty stretches credulity in deriving an origin from the mystery cults. Indeed, his appeal to Attis alone destroys his credibility. He certainly hasn't consulted scholars of Attis on the subject.
Mr. Doherty's next effort is to argue his usual methodology of significance from silence by saying that it is "surprising...that Paul never draws on any historical details surrounding Jesus' death, burial and rising to enrich" the parallels he makes to baptism. One can only ask what details Mr. Doherty supposes would have "enriched" the parallel. The winding of the graveclothes, perhaps? In alluding to death and burial, and raising, Paul has drawn on historical detail; it is only by Mr. Doherty's usual spate of circular reasoning that this is rendered no argument. As usual one notes that Doherty could simply consign any detail to the mystical nether-realm he postulates as needed to suit his thesis.
With respect to Dr. Craig's arguments about the guards at the tomb, it seems only that Mr. Doherty is oblivious to the chain of logic woven by Dr. Craig. Matthew's polemic would be pointless and useless had the Jews made no such claim about the theft of the body, and it would also be pointless and useless were it not in the context of a series of claims and counterclaims by a significant number of people. Mr. Doherty seems, as usual, unable to view history in more than two dimensions. His question as to why the controversy is not mentioned in the other Gospels or in the epistles has been answered many times before -- only Matthew's main readers, in close proximity to Palestine, would be involved in this series of counterclaims. The audience was large, but did not involve everyone else's readership as well. Paul's readers, for example, would be geographically removed from such a fuss...and one is tempted to say, would be too intelligent to fall for such a ruse in the first place. Mr. Doherty simply requires a more nuanced view of exactly how "widespread" the claim was. In other words, he needs dimensional thinking.
Mr. Doherty's next diatribe on the subject of variations in the Gospel accounts is something we have seen covered elsewhere, so we shall not detain ourselves much. I find it interesting to note Mr. Doherty's reply to Dr. Craig's point about the two stories of Hannibal in the Alps -- he, like many critics, holds a rather naive and mechanistic view of what is meant by "inspiration." No serious evangelical or scholar maintains such a position. Beyond that are more appeals to his bankrupt theories of silence. Regarding the ending of Mark, we see Mr. Doherty playing the hypocrite: When Dr. Craig notes the literary reason for the abrupt ending, Mr. Doherty accuses him of "skirting the issue," and then skirts the issue himself by merely saying that the literary issue is "beside the point." Clearly, Mr. Doherty lacks the training to even address what Dr. Craig is talking about. And as always, he treats Mark as though it were alone in a vacuum, which demonstrates further two-dimensional thinking -- and his hint that maybe Jesus washed down his fish with wine in Luke's account shows signs of an immense desperation to find a way to prove a bankrupt theory.
We see yet more arguing from silence with regards to the women at the tomb...versus the evidence indicating that Mark would hardly invent such a scene, given the low status of female testimony in that time, I see Mr. Doherty running headfirst into that wall of two dimensions yet again; certainly Mark's account alone makes it obvious that the women must have told somebody of their experiences, otherwise Mark could hardly have recorded it! Mr. Doherty misses this point entirely. It is clear that he is not living in the real world. And this makes it more clear -- he finds it strange that the women would expect to be able to enter the tomb to anoint the body. One wonders whether Mr. Doherty has ever had a beloved one pass on, and whether he kept his rationality intact at all times in that context, and whether all around him did so likewise. Of course the women failed to think of this point -- but that is beside the point. And Mr. Doherty's suggestion that women, after all, did perform such anointings and men did not merely skirts the issue. Mark certainly could have invented a legitimate reason for men -- considered reliable witnesses -- to visit the tomb; indeed, given the women's concerns, how hard would it have been to invent male companions to move the stone (or attempt to!) so that the women could do their work, and "reliable" witnesses could be on hand? Mr. Doherty has only further strengthened Dr. Craig's arguments!
But, I fear, Mr. Doherty is too silly to realize this. He wonders why the disciples weren't visiting the tomb...well, there is no indication that they might not have at a later time; and certainly someone had to have come first. Again, this only serves to strengthen Dr. Craig's arguments. As does this statement: "Don't forget that most if not all of the evangelists were probably not Jews themselves, so they may not have shared the usual Jewish prejudices toward women; neither would their readers, if they were part of largely gentile communities." Oh, really? Mr. Doherty thinks that the Gentiles showed more respect for women as witnesses? And who other than Luke was not a Jew? And what of the Jewish readers of the Diaspora? Mr. Doherty is truly scratching the barrel bottom here, gentlemen.
Now some points regarding the empty tomb. Mr. Doherty breezes over much of what Dr. Craig says here....admittedly, Dr. Craig was short on details, in this context, but he has other works with more detail. If Mr. Doherty were a worthwhile attorney, he would have entered these into evidence. He begs the question entirely, and only supports the idea of Mark as a whole as early and non-legendary, by pointing to the simplicity of Mark's entire gospel; and he has no sense of scale when suggesting that the other gospels fit in that category (as well as assuming as a begged question the idea of dependence on Mark).
He then wonders why the sexist suppression of testimony in the Epistles did not extend into the Gospels. Well, that should be obvious -- the creeds quoted by Paul are taught to prospective and recent converts, and are by design, summary in nature and would not contain every detail (imagine if one's church's liturgy were that clumsy); the Gospels are for those who are believers already and would have gotten beyond the point where sexism would have properly swayed them or been a stumbling block. Has Mr. Doherty no sense of context? It is clear from his theories that he does not.
Well, gentlemen, it certainly has been a full morning. Shall we break for lunch? Also, let's see if Mr Doherty has concluded his roadside theatrics...and we'll continue with the testimony of Dr. Habermas.
We have returned -- and although it appears that Mr. Doherty is unavailable, word has reached us of some rather astounding evidence of malfeasance on Mr. Doherty's part...what's that? No, it was not described to me; but I understand it is a video recording of some sort, involving Mr. Doherty. We'll just have to wait -- I understand it has been sent to us via next-day air delivery from a location in the Southeast.
Much of what Mr. Doherty says to Dr. Habermas does not seem to me to need addressing -- he is clearly mixing up scientific and historical study, repeating earlier arguments we have already addressed (including the matter of Paul allegedly seeing only a "spiritual" Christ, and his interpretation of "received" and "gospel," and his misapprehension of Galatians 1:12 and what it was that Paul "received," that is, his mission to the Gentiles; his failure to recognize the creed of 1 Cor. 15, combined by Paul with the structure of a Greco-Roman rhetorical argument -- Mr. Doherty's statement of confusion on that matter only proves his lack of discipline as a scholar; the idea that an epistle as an "occasional" letter means it was done without careful construction, whereas the rhetorical structure indicates the opposite -- truly, this is a tangled web of error!), and using appeals to his nether-thesis theory, to concoct an illicit argument. He also clearly misunderstands the essence of Christian faith in the physical resurrection -- it lies not per se in the act of resurrection, but it what that act verified -- the identity of Jesus.
A point is next made about primitive verbiage in the Corinthians creed. Mr. Doherty answers his own question when he asks why Paul uses "the Twelve" only in this creed in his letters. If this was a primitive phrase, we would not expect Paul to use it in later letters. We recognize his attempt to divorce "Peter" from "the Twelve" as the same bankrupt argument advanced by Robert Price and about how there were only Eleven apostles (it apparently does not occur to Mr. Doherty that "the Twelve" as a descriptive phrase was even older than the creed, yea, even derived from Jesus' ministry). Mr. Doherty's arguments concerning "the third day" and "he was raised" do not address the issue; what does "formality" have to do with it, and how are these simple phrases "formal"? The point is the context of the NT and its times, not that they sourced from the OT. And in the context of a creedal formula genre, how could Mr. Doherty possibly suggest that they are from a "personally formulated declaration, and thus there is no need to see them as part of a widely established creed"? Hasn't Paul clearly said that this is what the Corinthians were taught before? And his inability to comment on the Aramaic and Mishnaic narration issue only shows that he has no business addressing these matters and is far from the scholar he professes to be.
Next Mr. Doherty raises a most peculiar objection, asking concerning the creed, "Were Christians' memories so short? Were oral traditions about the resurrection appearances quietly altered, with no objection from anyone? How can this purport to represent a doctrinal statement of what had happened after Jesus’ rose, to provide ‘proof’ that he appeared in flesh, when it bears very little relationship to the Gospel accounts?" Mr. Doherty is not very specific about how this is the case, at first; he mentions the women at the tomb who might object to be excluded from the creed, but one wonders what he thinks they would do, and why, as though they were ancient Gloria Steinems demanding their right to be recognized. The Corinthian creed, Mr. Doherty clearly does not notice, is designed to show that the recognized leaders in the church saw the Risen Jesus, and that the church at large did as well; it is not a Jesse Jackson diatribe with the purpose of inserting every gender, race, and denomination.
Mr. Doherty goes on to appeal yet again to his bankrupt theories, including the "spiritual resurrection" thesis; he is also clearly oblivious to the fact that as a persecutor, Paul certainly already did know quite a lot about what the church held true. Galatians doesn't need to imply a historical inquiry at any rate.
Concerning the 500 witnesses...it seems Mr. Doherty can do little other than throw confetti in the air and continually appeal to the idea of a "spiritual" resurrection which had no place in Judaism nor in the language used (or problem addressed) by Paul. He muddles over "expecting that the Corinthians are likely to send a delegation off to Jerusalem, two decades after the fact, to find out if this particular appearance actually took place." Well, what is wrong with that expectation? And what of that it was members of the 500 as missionaries who would have originally come to Corinth, and would still be active missionaries throughout the Diaspora? The context in any event is that Paul reminds his congregation that they knew these things also in the past; confirmation and discussion with members of this group had already taken place. As usual Mr. Doherty simply assumes his own laziness and disinterest upon others.
The matter of the 500 not being mentioned in the Gospels has been answered by Doherty's nemesis, Mr. Holding, in a reply to Robert Price we have noted. Mr. Doherty's further demands that the creedal statement relate times and places is absurd -- the genre of a creed does not require such things; that is background data of the sort that would be related to the Corinthians ten years prior to Paul's letter. It does weaken our own use of the creed as evidence, according to a modern standard, but this hardly implies that the creed is ineffective as evidence completely. As he often does in his theories, Mr. Doherty demands that epistle writers become babblers who insert well-known details just to satisfy his perceptions.
Dr. Habermas notes well the reasons why someone like Josephus would not mention such an incident...though I think in referring to Jesus' followers not dying out, he supersedes the need to make such a reference. Dr. Habermas states, "How long do local stories circulate before they start to die out? So either Josephus didn’t know about it, which is possible, or he chose not to mention it, which would make sense because we know Josephus was not a follower of Jesus." Mr. Doherty's reply here, may I say, seems a masterpiece of evasion. First: "Josephus was not a follower of many people whom he reports on in his histories." Well, what is the point here? Are all of those people religious figures, and did they all stand at the center if such claims as those of Jesus? And did Josephus report such detail about them? Mr. Doherty is using his own vagueness as a very poor bludgeon. "And if local stories, especially about an executed man who arose from his tomb and appeared to people, die out in a short time, how do later generations preserve anything about the past, even legendary things?" Dr. Habermas is referring to such stories dying out among non-believers, with no interest in preservation, not among believers. We do wish that Mr. Doherty would keep matters in context.
But now it seems that Mr. Doherty does get around to finding alleged contradictions between Paul and the Gospels; but it seems all he can do is complain of incompleteness (as he desires), not actual contradiction. It is manifest that a creed, by its very nature, is a summary, designed for liturgical and memorial purposes. Dr. Habermas' answer about logical versus temporal priority is perfectly sound (and it is a matter of the two priorities being combined, not set against one another; Mr. Doherty fails to notice this in his "pride of place" comment regarding James); that Mr. Doherty can do no better than accusing Dr. Habermas of having a vested interest in his interpretation shows, I would say, how bankrupt his arguments are. Mr. Doherty needs to consider, again, the genre of the creedal statement. Had he delivered to the court samples of other creeds, and shown that they follow historical order always, fully, and precisely, he might have had something tangible to argue about. He might consider the speeches of Paul and Stephen in Acts in terms of summaries of Jewish history to see how necessary it was thought to be "complete" in recollections.
What we have said here previously also answers much of what Mr. Doherty has to say about the Gospel records. He does wonder why James' appearance experience is not recorded in the Gospels. Well, it is implied in Acts, of course, where James and the family of Jesus are reckoned as converts. But Mr. Doherty again imposes his expectations upon genre. No one doubts that the Gospel writers had their message to preach; not pipelines, as Mr. Doherty says, but purposes; and for Luke, the appearance to Cleophas and friend likely exemplified his message better than the appearance to James, for example -- it obviously cannot be said, since we do not know what this appearance consisted of. As an appearance to a leader in the church, we would expect it to go in the creed; but if it was not as "spectacular" as, say, what Luke records, it need not have been in a Gospel record. On the other side, Cleophas' experience hardly fits in the creed, unless we have evidence that he was a major leader in the church. His remark that creeds "don't have to be only stripped-down essentials" ignores the fact that by definition this is exactly what a creed is. He has no right or place to impose his demands for specificity as he desires it.
Mr. Doherty then appeals yet again to his bankrupt theories, and asks, "Why should only Paul be concerned with demonstrating that Jesus had risen, presumably to return to earth to appear to his followers?" He forgets as usual that this would have been accomplished ten years before in missionary preaching; Paul brings it up again only because of the crisis of disbelief in resurrection in Corinth. The need existed. For Peter and James and John, it did not. Is that so hard for Mr. Doherty to grasp?
Dear me, Mr. Doherty sides with Mormonism here in thinking that 1 Peter 3:18-20 refers to a descent into Sheol...well, he'll need to study up on that contention, won't he? Mr. Holding has of course already shown how Mr. Doherty is misusing the cites referenced.
Mr. Doherty goes on to make some fringe appeals concerning the reliability of Acts...he is apparently unaware that scholarship has turned against him on these points. We'll let him find that out for himself as our time is running short and he offers few details himself.
Dr. Craig has already sufficiently addressed the issue of Mark's "silence," and we have already dealt sufficiently with Mr. Doherty's replies on that matter, and his further attempts to find creative energies at work in the differences among the Gospels; and we can pass by the place where he attempts to bore Dr. Habermas with further references to his bankrupt theories...one is surprised that Mr. Doherty didn't try to sell Dr. Habermas a copy of his book. His comparison of the resurrection appearances to Fatima is rather curious -- gentleman, do we know whether anyone was persecuted or died for the sake of those visions? Not to my recollection, either -- on the other hand, it seems that Mr. Doherty assumes implicitly that no miracle occurred there, either, since he puts it down to mass hallucination. That's merely begging the question, and Mr. Doherty offers nothing but bigotry as a response.
Gentlemen, we've had our break, so shall we move to the tesimony of Dr. Moreland? Very well. Mr. Doherty addresses Dr. Moreland's five arguments, the first having to do with the willingness of the disicples to suffer and/or die for their belief in the resurrected Christ. He starts here with little more than a variation of his own bankrupt theory -- dismissing the record of Acts as unusable, and taking Paul's silence as agreement. Well, what about that Paul himself states that he persecuted the church with "zeal" -- mirroring the terminology of the zealous Jews of the past who even went as far as killing their opponents? I suppose that will have to be read differently under Mr. Doherty's paradigm. We could comment upon the matter of later martyrdoms, but will save that for when we have time to get into depth; for now it is certainly enough to point to the suffering of the key apostolic witnesses, since Mr. Doherty offers only reference to his own discredited theories in reply.
Regarding next the conversion of the skeptical James and Paul -- Mr. Doherty offers first the vague and unsubstantiated comment, "Religious history shows us quite a few examples of people who convert to various religions for reasons other than witnessing something as dramatic as a dead man coming to life." That may be so, but we want an example where a person was overtly hostile to a religion and came to it because of a concrete historical experience. Does Mr. Doherty have an example of this? No, but I see he has yet more circular references to his theories in which records are dismissed as needed and silence is read as agreement.
The matter of Josephus' testimony is dealt with next. Dr. Moreland states, "The historian Josephus tells us that James, the brother of Jesus, who was leader of the Jerusalem church, was stoned to death because of his belief in his brother." Mr. Doherty replies that "...Josephus does not tell us that James was stoned to death because of his belief in his brother. In fact, Josephus does not even say that the 'James' he refers to was a Christian leader." Well, presumably Mr. Doherty want us to accept that there was some other reason why James was killed, but he offers no alternative, other than hinting that the phrase referring to James is an interpolation, which no Josephan scholar would agree with. We have already dealt with the matter of Paul; his reference to his "zeal" implicitly indicates that he went as far as persecuting Christians to the point of death; and we see again an appeal to Mr. Doherty's bankrupt theories: his inability to recognize the functional roles of Christ, and the circular arguments against the reliability of Acts and the feasibility of belief in the Christian message, and the appeals to silence as verification without proof of necessity-to-mention in context. Mr. Doherty is apparently also not cognizant of the fact that the thousands converted in Acts were Diaspora Jews who returned home -- hence the churches in Antioch and so on, prior to Paul, all across the Empire. Mr. Doherty asks, "What would you do, Dr. Moreland, if you were an observant Jew living in Antioch, or Ephesus, or Rome, how would you react if someone arrived in town and told you that a crucified prophet back in Judea, whom you had never heard of, was really the Son of God and redeemer of the world, that he had walked out of his tomb two days after his crucifixion?" Well, Mr. Doherty has neglected to mention that the apostles were given the ability to perform miracles to verify their message; but leaving that aside, he is merely imposing his own likely reaction upon others. One may as well ask what someone today would say to such a thing; and yet there are converts even today from among the ranks of observant Jews, as well as from numerous other groups just as likely to be repulsed by or skeptical of the Christian message. So there is the answer to Mr. Doherty's question. There will always be a variety of reactions, not even accounting for miraculous or spiritual influence. This is inevitable, and therefore Mr. Doherty overstates the "need" for such things to be recorded by Josephus. And we might add that belief in Mr. Doherty's "nether-Christ" would be just as incredible for the same people and just as "needful" to mention, and would have engendered the very same reactions.
Mr. Doherty also notes, "...the very radical nature of the claims about a human Jesus, and its incompatibility with everything Jews held dear, would have provoked opposition and challenge among the Jewish establishment, forcing Christian apostles like Paul to justify and explain their outlandish doctrine." Perhaps he should consult Segal's work, Two Powers in Heaven -- which shows that that is exactly what Paul was doing in some of his letters. But he is otherwise oblivious to the genre/purpose of the epistles -- such defenses as he describes did not belong in topical letters ten years after the fact, but would have been addressed in missionary preaching many years before.
Now as to the matter of communion and baptism. Here again all Mr. Doherty offers is reference back to his own theories, which have already been refuted. He complains further of parallels he supposes Paul should have made, but didn't: "The descent of the dove into Jesus would have provided the perfect parallel to Paul’s belief that at baptism the Holy Spirit descended into the believer." Indeed? Since the Spirit did not descend into Jesus, nor play the role in Jesus' life that it does in the believer, the parallel would be superficial at best and blasphemous at worst -- as though saying that Jesus needed the Spirit to be regenerated! "The voice of God welcoming Jesus as his Beloved Son could have served to symbolize Paul’s contention that believers have been adopted as sons of God." Indeed! And would imply adoptionism as well, which is exactly what Paul would want to avoid; or else hint that the believer, like Jesus, was some divine being that ought to be listened to.
Finally, on the emergence of the church. Mr. Doherty seems to think that were it not for Constantine, there might be no church today; beyond that he seems content to look down his nose upon those converted by "sectarianism". That's rather a simplistic analysis; I'd prefer Rodney Stark's to what Mr. Doherty has to say. He asks: "If Jesus was so clearly resurrected, why was there not a genuine mass conversion of Jews? Why not of prominent religious establishment members?" Acts does record that there were some from the priestly ranks who converted; but does Doherty think that someone like Caiaphas or Pilate would have given up their power for such a commitment? He thinks rather highly of humanity, does he not?
What is that? Hmm, gentlemen, it appears that our earlier-referenced evidence has arrived...a parcel, containing a videotape. Security Officer Bucher, may we trouble you to obtain a videocassette recorder and a monitor? Yes. Gentlemen, we will meet again in about an hour to see what this tape has to offer. There is a label on it that reads, Earl Doherty's Shame. How curious...
Well, we have set up our videotape machine and have inserted this tape...it is playing. And we have what appears to be -- strange! It is Mr. Doherty himself! What is he doing? There is a table in front of him with some sort of tape player...yes, Security Officer Bucher? Oh, there were other contents in the package? Let's have a look. Some paperwork -- it appears to be a police report filled out by....my goodness! Mr. Strobel himself is the reported victim! The report indicates that on January 13, 2000, he contacted the police in his area to report a break-in at his home...dear, me...the only thing missing from the home, other than a bag of Cheetos, was his archive of taped interviews with the persons he interviewed for Case for Christ. Hmmm. Now what is the connection...
Just a moment. On the screen -- that sounds like Mr. Strobel's interview with Dr. Blomberg being played...? I believe it is, gentlemen! And wait -- there's Mr. Doherty turning off his tape machine and delivering his response! By Jupiter! Little wonder Mr. Strobel and his interviewees seemed so passive before Mr. Doherty! He wasn't cross-examining them in a courtroom at all -- he was "cross-examining" Mr. Strobel's tapes! Gentlemen, I think we have a serious case of professional ethics violations here by Mr. Doherty, to say nothing of perhaps a cause for criminal charges as well. Security Officer Bucher, summon the appropriate authorities. It seems we will have a real trial after all....though not as Mr. Doherty planned!
Welcome back to the real world.
By now, if he is reading this, Earl Doherty is most likely quite upset at my portrayal of him as a wild man and as a criminal. Be that as it may, my humor, as usual, serves a purpose. Earl Doherty chose a format for his reply to Strobel that hatches an uncanny polemical advantage -- and I am making the point that it is always possible, and extremely easy, to make your opponents look foolish by this method. Earl Doherty would not (I don't think) slobber and drool or set off fire hoses in an actual hearing. nor break into someone's house. On the other hand, scholars like Blomberg, Metzger, Yamauchi, McRay, Boyd, and Witherington would not sit stock silent to Mr. Doherty's rebuttals either. I daresay had this been an actual court case, Earl Doherty would have been turned into dust by these scholars whose sandals he is unworthy to tie.
Our secondary point is this: Earl Doherty has made it is habit to regard most of what has been written on this page with merely a snort and a harrumph. All that he has written in this critique of CFC, whether he knows it or not, has been soundly refuted on the pages and links of Tekton. Indeed, I have been able to take portions from essays on this page and use them practically unchanged. I fully expect Doherty to continue his methodology, for it is my opinion that he does not have the necessary tools to respond; the release of the book form of his project confirms this, for it appears that few actual additions have been made to the text. As before, Doherty's sourcework is dismal, hardly worthy of a professed scholar; his thinking is two-dimensional and wooden. I have said this, of course, of many opponents, but few have had the coverage that Doherty has had. Indeed, it has now gotten to the point that I have had Mormons asking me about his work (though it took them this long, even in Mormon scholarly circles, to hear about it).
We await the "sound of silence" in reply from Mr. Doherty.