Gundrsday, June 37, 2008

Duhhhh, Dan Wallace Is A Idiot

Chicken Vinny doesn't have much to say about Wallace's interview in CFTRJ. He says he suspected from positive "conservative" reviews of the book that Ehrman had been misrepresented. He doesn't actually find any misrepresentation, and you can feel the sorrow, but that he makes a point of this speaks for Vinny's childishness. Anyone who gauges possibilities by way of the nature of the source this way (citing "conservative" or "liberal" as a cause for suspicion) has already indicated that he doesn't have the mental beans to evaluate arguments on their own terms.

In any event, the only thing Chicken Vinny really has to say is this about something mentioned by a Christian he asked about this. The Christian quoted Wallace as saying, "The fact is that scholars across the theological spectrum say that in all the essentials - not in every particular, but in all essentials - our New Testament manuscripts go back to the originals." (TCFTRJ p.71-72) Chicken Vinny is desperate to say anything that makes Wallace look bad, and since he doesn't have the ability to actually argue points of textual criticism (for all he gets is second-hand from his worship of Bart Ehrman) he says:

I thought this smacked of comparing apples and oranges. A liberal scholar who agrees that it is possible to get back to the originals in all essentials might be saying something very different than a conservative scholar simply because a liberal scholar who does not affirm the resurrection, the virgin birth or the divinity of Jesus would not consider very many things to be essential.

Now that's a stupid comment. Whether the liberals believe in these essentials or not does not change their view of the textual reliability of the passages that relate those essentials. Clearly Chicken Vinny is on a permanent mental vacation with this one. And as we'll see, everything else.

Orkssday, Iftober 13, 2008

Duh, Craig Evans Is a Idiot

Yes, you can tell Chicken Vinny doesn't have much to say when it comes to serious arguments. The bulk of his entry on Craig Evans' chapter in CFTRJ whines about two things: 1) Evans' use of statements like "Oh, that's absurd" and "oh yeah, what a brilliant argument" and 2) Strobel's point that Evans is respected by conservatives and liberals alike. Engaging the actual arguments Evans presents is apparently too hard for Vinny's two year old mentality to handle.

Let's look at issue 1 first. Mind, this comes from someone who will later use comments like these (edited for taste) responding to Mike Licona:

"Wheeee!!! What a trick! Did you see Licona pull that nickel out of that kid's nose?"

"Carrier's explanation for why Paul did what he did doesn't explain why James did what he did. It also doesn't explain why Hitler invaded Russia, why the Cubs haven't made it to the World Series since 1945, or why Mike Licona's dog licks its own ****."

"Wheeee!!! Did you see Licona pull that argument out of his own ***?"

Of course, Vinny would not doubt protest that he's not trying to impress scholars or be like one, to which we can say that he's succeeding admirably at that in more ways than one. Either way, Strobel's book is a popular work, not a refereed journal, and Evans is perfectly free to assume a conversational tone in such a venue. At the same time, Chicken Vinny clearly needs some help with is hypocrisy.

As for point 2, all Vinny can do is pull out of his nose - or is it his arse? -- a single review statement by Stephen Patterson of Evans' book Fabricating Jesus in which Patterson whines that the book is not honest and is a bad example of how to engage colleagues in debate. Oh please. Patterson? Let's keep in mind who Patterson is, shall we? Patterson is a scholarly freak who holds a right screwy understanding of the Gospel of Thomas (see here) and makes every possible excuse to claim that some passage in GThom with a parallel in the Gospels is actually the earlier version of that passage. The reason Patterson is so upset is because Evans' material kicks his fanny into the Netherlands. Vinny should have checked the reviews on the cover leaf of FJ, which includes positive reviews from moderates and liberals like James Charlesworth, Gerd Theissen, James Dunn, John Meier, Gerald O'Collins, and Donald Senior. As it is, he's patting himself on the back because he found a single negative review by a spoiled sport.

When it comes down to actual arguments, Chicken Vinny is forced to admit that he is "not qualified to comment on many of Evans' assertions" (boy is that ever an understatement!) he still wants to have his way, so he says that "there are a few points that seem obviously false." How this can be obvious when Vinny is so ignorant is hard to say, but it does show that he is ignorant. Like Paul Jacobsen, he makes issue with Evans' claim that many scholars are ignorant of "the Semitic background of the New Testament" and this causes them to misconstrue Jesus' use of the phrase "Son of Man." I'll say from spot one here that Evans is right. I did my extensive study on the term, and many scholars were indeed behind the times on that. Chicken Vinny of course wouldn't know the Son of Man from Sanford and Son, but his only answer is, "Waaaaah, I know Crossan and Vermes and Ehrman get it, cuz I saw that they did!" Actually - those three ARE closer to the correct understanding than others have been in the past (but are still partly wrong - see my article), but Vinny is as usual clouding the issue to hide his ignorance. There were and are nevertheless many OTHER scholars who missed the boat, and just because Vinny can find three or more who did get on board doesn't erase or nullify Evans' point. The same goes for the phrase "kingdom of God," which Vinny also whines about.

Other than this petulant whine, all Vinny can say re Evans is that he finds it "a little bizarre" that Evans asserts that the anonymity of the Gospels helps prove their authenticity. Actually, I disagree with Evans; the Gospels are not anonymous. Either way, it's clear that Vinny is in over his head regardless.

Birday, Dectober 30, 2008

Duh ah, Mike Licona Sucks Eggs

Chicken Vinny has a whine when it comes to Mike Licona's treatment of Clement in TCFTRJ. The first, and by far the more pedantic, is the whine that Licona uses a translation of Clement done by he and Gary Habermas. Now Vinny admits that it's not a problem because there's some huge difference in the translation of Licona-Habermas vs any other; rather, his whine is that "it just seems like citing your own translation is like citing your own book as authority for your argument." Well, Vinny, it isn't, and all your whining won't change that. Clement was not written by Licona and Habermas. If you can't find an actual problem, don't make one up just because you're a spoiled brat.

The second whine is a little more serious, at least as serious as can come from a crybaby. Vinny is upset because "Clement's letter reflects little if any familiarity with any of the four gospels."

Yeah, and - so what?

This is the old Earl Doherty shell game, one in which silence is hammered home but it is never quite explained why a problem exists. Vinny doesn't tell us what Clement ought to have quoted, but is missing. He, uh, admits that yes, 1 Clement 13 and 46 contains stuff that sounds like stuff in Matthew and Luke, but because it is "not identical" he doesn't count that. News flash, Vinny: Those count as references, the "variation" you whine about notwithstanding. Quotation was seldom done precisely in antiquity because you couldn't just go look stuff up; you had to do most of your quotation by memory. And Vinny also forgot to account for allusions - for example, 1 Clem. 24:4-5 clearly is derived from Mark 4:3-9, and 1 Clem. 16:17 fairly obviously alludes to Matthew 11:29. But Vinny is such a fundy that he doesn't see things like this unless they have quote marks.

But anyway, other than that, Vinny can't explain what parable, or what story of Jesus, or what part of the Sermon on the Mount Clement would have been able to use that specifically suited his purpose. The closest Vinny comes to any sort of argument like this is where he says: "When it comes to the resurrection, he cites the legend of the phoenix rising from the ashes but completely neglects the Passion narratives."

Uh...Vinny...dude...the PASSION narrative is about Jesus' death, not about his resurrection. And Clement does refer to that, in 24:1: "Let us understand, dearly beloved, how the Master continually showeth unto us the resurrection that shall be hereafter; whereof He made the Lord Jesus Christ the firstfruit, when He raised Him from the dead." And the phoenix is then used as one example of several to prove the point Clement IS pursuing, which is in 24:2: "Let us behold, dearly beloved, the resurrection which happeneth at its proper season." Nothing in the Gospels would serve to validate this argument at all.

Vinny is such a nutcase that he thinks Clement not quoting the Gospels "seems like pretty powerful evidence that they were not known in Rome in 95 A.D." It isn't. Aside from that Clement might be datable before 70 itself, it's clear that Vinny has failed the test of recognition and persuasion.

Qunigsday, Mane 28, 2008

Is Vinny Stupid? Duh Ah. Yes.

Chicken Vinny has the perfect answer to the use of the "criteria of embarrassment" as a way to decide what is historical in the Gospels. Ready?

It's all a conspiracy to make you believe. No, seriously.

Vinny sez: "Isn't it possible that the authors of the gospels understood that they were telling the story of a messiah who had the power to transform the lives of the weak and the lowly? Couldn't it be that they understood that portraying the apostles as flawed human beings prior to Jesus' death and resurrection was an integral part of the story?"

Gee. So that means that the disciples would have had to be perfect for us to take the record as historical.

Actually, Vinny, the answer to your question is NO. Your use of this argument reveals yourself as a contextual idiot. The idea that "the authors would have portrayed the apostles in a worse light prior to Jesus' resurrection just so their transformation would appear even more dramatic" is based on a MODERN notion of personality which the ancients didn't hold. They viewed personality as static. You'll notice that there's no such thing as a "personal testimony" in the NT. You'll notice that everyone was skeered of Paul even after he converted. Can you guess why? It's because no one would have believed in the transformative power of Jesus as a prop for evangelism.

It seems to me that you're the stupid one, Vinny. But that's no surprise since your view of Christianity is the American Pop Version.

Miffsday, Junsember 17, 2008

Why Can't Vinny Have Brains?

Chicken Vinny doesn't think Strobel really reads Skeppy lit because he says, "any self-respecting skeptic could come up with much more challenging questions than Strobel does." Well, actually, no. What they can do is come up with plenty more ignorant, decontextuialized questions that only show they have no idea what's going on. Vinny whines that TCFTRJ doesn't cover the objection that "stories about Jesus were simply 'borrowed' from the Old Testament rather than pagan religions." It may well have fit, but guess what, Vinny - that one's a piece of cake. Got any other dumb arguments you want disposed of?

Sad to say, Vinny even descends to the level of defending the pagan copycat thesis. He doesn't see Mettinger's comment, "There is, as far as I am aware, no prima facie evidence that the death and resurrection of Jesus is a mythological construct, drawing on the myths and rites of the dying and rising Gods in the surrounding world," as equal to "absolutely no parallels." Too bad, Vinny. Learn English and get back to us. Vinny spins: "Is it really such an incredible leap to go from a dying and rising god in a vegetation cycle to a dying and rising messiah?" Yes - especially when you add in all those pesky details about each story, instead of manipulatively collapsing everything down to broad, sweeping terms calculated to sound the same. The same "leap" will also put Michael Jackson into the category in Thriller. Maybe we should ask, "Is it really such an incredible leap to go from a dying and rising messiah to a dying and rising pop star?"

The real scholars of religion - not Bob Price, but people like J Z Smith and Mettinger - don't buy these connections any more. It's old new. The difference are far too vast, and the evidence far too sparse. Deal with it, Vinny. You're a loser on the losing side.

Jupeday, Mixfebber 5, 2008

Vinny in a Bunk Bed

My Impossible Faith article, despite piles of special pleading from NT-exegetical hacks like mercenary Richie Carrier, hasn't been knocked over yet, and it is as good a reason as any to support the argument that Christianity gained traction because it was true. Chicken Vinny will never address it (he's still learning to spell his name right, after all) and he can't even address simpler arguments; but he's very good at the ad hoc method of retort. For example, maybe there were actually "hundreds of witnesses" who saw a full tomb that we never heard from. That's a good, solid argument Vinny. The Holocaust deniers thank you for that.

Burpisday, Novuary 2, 2008

Chicken Vinny Raises Hell

Chicken Vinny has a real hissy fit over Mike Licona's treatment of the "spiritual body" issue in TCRTRJ. It's too bad for him that we've aced that debate here; but Vinny wouldn't care since he's using arguments last seen from Bultmann. In between goofy mistakes in contextual exegesis that would earn him Platinum Screwballs for a year, Vinny loses his temper frequently and uses profanity responding to Licona, sounding much like a child robbed of his favored candy. We'll give space to just the parts of his reply that sound like they may have passed fifth grade. (None, sadly, would pass sixth grade, so poor is his scholarship.) For more details on all, see the article linked above.

Licona rightly pointed out that "flesh and blood" was a Semitic metaphor (as we say, for human weakness), not a literal reference. This is demonstrated easily by other uses of the phrase from contemporary Jewish sources. Does Vinny know this? Uh, no. He asks: "Have you ever heard of context, Mike?" (He knows it better than you do, Vinny. He knows the context of usage that defines the phrase.) "Look at the question that Paul is addressing: 'With what kind of body will they come?'" (Vinny makes the classic error here of ignoring broad usage context and narrowly focusing on immediate context. This is typical fundamentalism.) "In any of those other cases you investigated, was the term 'flesh and blood' being used in answer to that question?" (Oh, I see. So if a question is being answered, there's no use of a metaphor at all that can be done in answer. So if a coach is asked, "Will you beat South Park High?" and he answers, "We'll blow them into the sky" he obviously needs to be searched for explosives.) I know all the other uses. None are answering such a question, but even the metaphorical reading answers the question "what kind of body." The answer is, "a frail one of human weakness." (And no, Vinny - the term "cold-blooded" does not mean the that a reptile's blood is actually cold. It means that it adjusts based on external temperature. That means it can vary between hot and cold. You moron.)

So to answer Vinny's next dumb question. Yes, the phrases "flesh and bones" and "flesh and blood" ARE so completely unrelated that Paul couldn't have meant something similar to what Luke meant. The former referred to the tangible nature of the body. The latter referred to the moral weakness of the body. Try to do a little serious study one of these days instead of reading the text in English and announcing your opinion.

He won't. Vinny can't handle real scholarship and it shows. Licona did serious research showing that the Greek word translated "natural" did not mean "material" or "physical" - not once in 1100 years of usage. (It means rather someone, again, with moral weakness.) Vinny doesn't answer with counterexamples showing the use of the word in such senses; no, that's beyond him - instead he shrieks about "context" as though this alters the consistent meaning of the word over 1100 years. It doesn't even matter to Vinny that Paul clearly uses the word in the way Licona describes. No, just this once, Paul veered away from 1100 years of usage - including his own - to make it mean something else. Isn't that impressive scholarship? I think so.

That is how it runs. Again and again, Chicken Vinny scampers back to his begged question of immediate context, and resorts to any excuse he can find. To Licona's point that another word for "material" (which Paul uses elsewhere) would have been used if that was what Paul had meant, Vinny whines, "While I will grant you that Paul might have used that word again, are you going to tell me that there were no other words available to him that might have made the meaning you prefer clearer?" Um, that's for YOU to prove, Chicken Vinny; it's YOUR job to get out a lexicon and do your homework.

Don't expect that to happen. Vinny falls for the usual trap of quoting "life-giving spirit" as proof Paul is teaching a "spiritual resurrection" (see link for why this is bogus). No Vinny - it's who is "desperately flailing to avoid the plain implications of what Paul has written in 1 Corinthians 15" because you don't like the implications.

Last is the usual gripe that Paul doesn't mention an empty tomb. Licona's answer is just fine - especially given the high-context nature of the NT world - that it would not be necessary; resurrection implies an empty grave. Vinny doesn't have an answer for this and instead only calls Strobel an idiot. Well, that sure answered Licona's argument, didn't it?

In the end, Chicken Vinny fails because he thinks Paul is "explaining what resurrection meant" when he is actually trying to answer Corinthian claims that they would not be resurrected, because of pagan beliefs about the subject. Vinny's claim that "nobody understands what resurrection means now" would certainly surprise the many scholars who have written on it (ranging from Wright to Perkins). And one last thing, Vinny - even if Paul's readers didn't know about resurrection from their Jewish Diaspora neighbors, they certainly would have heard it from Paul ten years before when he preached the Gospel to them. Oops. Care to try again?

Ughday, Moose 23, 2008

Hear Vinny Whine

Chicken Vinny says that Licona's chapter in the resurrection has "some real knee-slappers." It seems that that slap must have missed Vinny's hand and repeatedly hit his skull, causing extensive brain damage. It escapes Vinny that books titled "The Case Forů." Are NOT going to give the "other side." News flash: Strobel doesn't note that he won't "reach a conclusion based on hearing only one side of the case" as an indication that he's interviewing people from both sides. It means that he KNOWS the other side's arguments already - in fact, Vinny, where the heck do you think he got all his questions from? Duh ah. When you're done whining, be sure and ask Michael Martin when he wants to present the other side in his Case Against Christianity.

Vinny is also a tad upset that Strobel answered questions based on objections from Islam and from Michael Baigent. Well, gee, Vinny, that's what people are believing out there, including some of your atheist friends. What's Strobel supposed to do, ignore them? If so, why did your god Bart Ehrman write a book on The Da Vinci Code? Why did Robert Price do so too? Hmmm?

The one argument Licona addresses that has Vinny wetting his pants is Carrier's silly two-body hypothesis (which we refuted in detail here. He claims "Carrier's writings do address all the other issues that Licona cites" but they do not - and note please that Vinny does not even try to quote Carrier to show that they do. Nor does he even understand Licona's arguments. For example, Licona says:

"Paul is crystal clear about why he converted: he says he saw the risen Jesus. So we have his eyewitness testimony of what happened. On the other hand, what do we have for Carrier's view. There's not a shred of evidence to support it. Paul's writings don't indicate that he converted because he felt guilty or that he secretly admired Christians or that he had disdain for his fellow Pharisees. This is pure conjecture on Carrier's part. He's reading things into the text that simply aren't there."

To this I would add that "guilt" did not exist in the ancient world, which was honor and shame based. But anyway, Vinny puts this out as, "Carrier's alternative explanation for Paul's conversion is bad simply because it is an alternative." No, Vinny: It is bad because it is an alternative that is ad hoc, without evidence, made up as an excuse.

Just like most of your blog entries, actually.

Norkday, Jay 99, 2008

Vinny Marks His Territory

"What," Chicken Vinny asks, "is our evidence that Mark, the companion of Peter, wrote the Gospel of Mark?" Actually, he doesn't know. There are three lines of evidence to be considered when deciding who authored an ancient document, and Vinny forgets two of them: Internal evidence of attestation (he wrongly states that Mark "does not identify himself" - wrong, Vinny - it says, "The Gospel According to MARK" on line one, just as it says in the Annals of Tacitus that Tacitus wrote it, line one - nowhere else), and internal evidence of style. On those counts, and the third, Mark shows as author with flying colors, especially compared to other ancient documents. (See here for a long article series Vinny's too chicken to answer.)

The one aspect Vinny does address is external evidence of attestation, and he waves those off with two excuses. Papias is waved off because Eusebius called him stupid, though that was based on one of Papias' theological beliefs, and not on what Papias reported of history (which Eusebius apparently thought was true even though he called Papias stupid). Irenaeus is waved off because he "does not indicate his basis for believing that Mark wrote this gospel" (sorry, Vinny, but none of the external testimonies to the Annals give their "basis for believing" Tacitus wrote them, so why are you and your gripes special?) and because of Irey's "four winds" quote (which was a natural analogy of why it was appropriate that there were four gospels, not a "basis for believing that there are no more or less than four gospels").

In another entry, Vinny has more excuses for dismissing Papias. One of these old "weird tales of Judas" canard, which is the sort of thing simple-minded Skeptics lap up with literalist haste. Given that the statement this comes from is a single sentence via Eusebius, devoid of surrounding context, we have no notion of Papias' intent; the statement by itself has the bearing of ridicule and sarcasm, and may be no more meant to be taken literally than, "He's so fat he needs his own zip code." There is nothing absurd about the idea of Judas being hit by a chariot (whether while alive or after death), so what is it exactly that is a cause to assert "gullibility"? There is none. (Vinny also doesn't get Matthew 27:5 as other than a literal hanging. It also escapes him that despite Tacitus' report of Vespasian doing healing miracles, he's still regarded as the most reliable ancient historian. Maybe real historians don't share Vinny's baby-out-with-bathwater prejudices.)

What Vinny will never do is compare the evidence for any NT document to that of secular documents whose authorship is taken for granted. If he did, he'd find that things like the date of external attestations are MUCH more than the century between Mark and Irenaeus, and where no one gives their reasons for thinking those pagan authors wrote their works.

But you see, to be a Vinny, you have to make up the rules special as you go along.

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hi, my name's vinny. I'm a class A moron who thinks I know how to do Bible scholarship cuz I read some Bart Ehrman once. Ha ha. Ha ha ha ha ha. View my complete profile