I think you may be misunderstanding what liamconnor has suggested here. I donâ€™t think he meant â€œfriend and foe alike were claiming miracles within 40 years.â€� I think he meant that 1) within 40 years miracles were attributed to Jesus as well as 2) miracles were attributed to Jesus by both friend and foe. Those are two separate propositions. Thereâ€™s no timeline assertion by liamconnor, as far as I can see, as to when the â€œfoeâ€� may have attributed miracles to Jesus. Only that â€œfoesâ€� did not deny the miracle claims.
You may be right, but then I'm not sure what the point is. I understood his question to mean that Jesus developed a reputation for miracle working with both His supporters and detrators, implying that there was stronger evidence of His having worked miracles. If the question was only meant to imply that His followers developed a tradition of Jesus working miracles and their foes a hundred years later took them at their word, then I don't disagree.
I donâ€™t understand how that would be counter to liamconnorâ€™s argument that enemies did not deny the miracles of Jesus. Indeed you seem to be supporting it.
As I said, I thought the claim was that the foes developed a tradition for Jesus as miracle worker prior to the Gospel stories.
Keep in mind that the Romans sacked Jerusalem in AD 70 such that "the Temple courts ran with blood."
This is an interesting counter argument. But I think upon scrutiny it is quite weak.
Firstly, a minor point. There is some doubt among modern scholarship
that Josephusâ€™ estimates were even possible. By about 132 AD (60 some odd years later) there was a Jewish fighting force of as many as 400,000 men according to some sources in the Bar Kokhba Revolt against the Romans in Judea. Cassius Dio estimates 580,000 Jews were killed in that revolt (Dio, Roman History
69.14.1). If these estimates hold water, there quite clearly had to be a large Jewish population remaining after the events of 70 AD.
I understand liamconnor's argument to be, in essence, that it's implausible to think that Mark wrote his Gospel without consulting eyewitnesses. This part of my response is to say that, independent of other factors, it's not implausible that enough of the eyewitnesses were killed by the Romans in AD 70 such that "zero eyewitnesses were alive and available for interview." Whether the number given by Josephus was correct, the slaughter was such that witnesses to the crucifixion (to pick one of few events that most scholars would agree happened and wasn't completely made up) were perhaps in short supply.
Secondly, and most importantly, an underlying assumption in your argument here is that all the witness were in Jerusalem during the events of 70 AD. What evidence supports that? Because there is some evidence that would falsify that assumption.
The argument in the OP was that there were enough witnesses that it didn't matter if the Gospels were written by witnesses themselves. I suspect that most or all of the Jerusalem Church (as described by Paul in Galatians 1) were killed by the Romans in AD 70. This is speculation
, but I think it's reasonable
speculation. Without the Jerusalem Church, there was nobody left to tell the real story of Jesus to the four evangelists. Do you have evidence that such speculation is unreasonable?
Ah, but you see Homerâ€™s Odyssey
was the genre of Greek Epic Poetry. A genre known to be mythology. See Aristotleâ€™s Poetics
where he uses Homerâ€™s works as case studies on how to create the plot, characters, etc. of Epic Poetry.
The Gospels are not thought to be poetry or even, strictly speaking, the genre of a history. The Gospels are thought to be a type of ancient biography.
But not clearly
so, particularly in light of what's been called "mimesis criticism"
, or examining a text (the Gospels, in this case) as the product of imitation (conscious or unconscious) of other source Material. Dennis R. MacDonald sees direct, conscious imitation of Homer in Mark, Luke, and Acts, as well as several extrabiblical, Christian writings.
I quote from the introduction of MacDonald's The Gospels and Homer: Imitations of Greek Epic in Mark and Luke-Acts
Markâ€™s imitations of Homer can account for much of the information about Jesus in Mark that outstrips anything found in Paul or the lost Gospel [reconstructed by MacDonald in Two Shipwrecked Gospels as The Logoi of Jesus -Diff.]. In the Odyssey one finds adventures at sea, feasts for thousands, cavemen, inept and cowardly comrades, a meeting with the dead, murderous rivals, the heroâ€™s secrecy, and the recognition of his true identity. Here too one finds analogs for many of Markâ€™s most memorable characters, such as the Gerasene demoniac, the Syrophoenician woman, blind Bartimaeus, the woman who anointed Jesus, the naked youth, Judas Iscariot, Barabbas, Mary Magdalene, and Joseph of Arimathea. Markâ€™s account of Jesusâ€™ death resembles the violent death and burial of Hector, whose god had abandoned him. Markâ€™s authorial voice is different from that of Q/Q+ in large measure because he imitated or, better, emulated Homeric epic.
For perspective, an interesting disagreement with MacDonald can be read in the Open Access collection of academic essays, Christian Origins and the â€‹New Testament in the Greco-Roman Context: Studies in Mimesis Criticism
. Kay Higuera Smith argues in "Mark and Homer" that while she agrees with MacDonald that Homeric style influenced Mark:
I will challenge MacDonald on this assertion and argue that indirect influence is a much more plausible contention.
My point is that the genre of Mark has not been fixed. Since liamconnor argues (without other apparent argument) that it's implausible that Mark would have consulted no witnesses, I pointed out a genre of which some scholars see at least unconscious imitation and which wouldn't create an expectation of eyewitnesses.
I'm not saying that necessarily is what happened, but there is at least enough uncertainty that one can't convincingly argue, as liamconnor did, that we should assume of course that Mark interviewed eyewitnesses.
It wasnâ€™t uncommon for ancient historians to create speeches and other minor details to fill in the blanks so to speak. But it doesnâ€™t follow from this practise that the core of the story was â€œmade up.â€�
Is the dead guy coming back to life part of a speech or "other minor detail?" If it is, I'll concede that part of the argument.
As for the Gospels being intended to record history Luke, in the opening of his Gospel, explicitly tells his audience that what he has recorded was meant to be taken as a factual account.
- â€�Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile an account of the things accomplished among us, 2 just as they were handed down to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word, 3 it seemed fitting for me as well, having investigated everything carefully from the beginning, to write it out for you in consecutive order, most excellent Theophilus; 4 so that you may know the exact truth about the things you have been taught.â€�
In the foreword to A Princess of Mars
, Edgar Rice Burroughs presents the book itself as the work of the fictional main character, John Carter. Though undeniably an integral part of the fiction, it is presented as though it were a message to the reader that is independent of the story. Considering the number of obviously fictional
elements in Luke, I consider it reasonably likely that Luke used the same sort of rhetorical device as Burroughs.
Why were they probably dead?
The Roman soldiers killed them in Jerusalem.
You are assuming it is the case Mark ended at 16:8.
There are some good reasons to think so, but itâ€™s far from conclusive.
The OP is the one arguing implausibility, remember.
You are also assuming Mark meant that the women at the tomb continued to tell no one. I donâ€™t see the text necessarily implying that at 16:8. The Greek verbiage Mark employs at 16:8 leaves the door open to the expected and inevitable telling by the women.
Maybe explain what you mean. All I'm assuming is what Mark wrote, which is the women fled the tomb and "said nothing to nobody" because they were (and continued to be; imperfect past tense) scared. You're right that they could have later overcome their fear and told somebody later, but then what does 16:8 mean? Are you saying that Mark just neglected to finish the story?
But even if he did and intended us to think that the women told everybody, everywhere, the OP's argument is that it's implausible
that the "people who knew Jesus simply sat at home ... never talking about their experiences." That's exactly what Mark told us happened, though. The women said nothing to anyone
This is an odd argument. Mark explicitly
states on several occasions that despite the warning from Jesus to not tell anyone of the miracle the healed person went and told anyway.
Maybe, if Mark was actually trying to recount history or trying to be consistent. Now that I read it that way, there are "crowds," so you can have crowds. I also notice (and didn't before) that Mark makes a big deal about two of the witnesses being from Decapolis. It's not relevant to this discussion, but it makes me curious.
Mark expected his readers to think the women at the tomb told no one about Jesusâ€™ resurrection when on numerous occasions in Markâ€™s Gospel the lesser miracles of Jesus are being reported so extensively that Jesus could no longer even enter a city? That seems very unlikely.
I disagree. I still think that Mark's audience is a small, gnostic-like group. Even if the crowds proclaimed the miracles, the disciples were told to tell no one and they
, at least, kept the secret. Verse 9:9 says that they were to "tell no one" until Jesus had "risen from the dead." I hadn't thought of it this way, but if the women didn't tell the disciples and the disciples therefore didn't go to Galilee, none of them knew that Jesus had risen. We're back to a small, chosen group that were lucky enough to hear Mark's story.
What people are those making up the stories though? Paulâ€™s letters themselves refer to Jesusâ€™ resurrection and divine status. So the resurrection story must at least predate Paul or have originated with Paul. And we know from Paulâ€™s own letters he had contact with the disciples. So it would seem either Paul was making up a resurrection story or the disciples were if in fact resurrection stories were being made up. The question not clearly answered here is why would they do that?
I'm not claiming that no Jesus traditions whatsoever predated the Gospels. Let's say that the James, John, and Cephas that Paul met played the same roles in the actual life of Jesus that the Gospels say they did. That's not a foregone conclusion, but I'll grant it for the sake of this particular argument. Let's also say that Paul knew every single detail about the real life of the real Jesus. As far as his epistles are concerned, the Jesus story began when He was crucified. Whether he didn't know or didn't care, the fact is that he didn't talk about it. I see no reason to think that Paul was any more vocal about the pre-resurrection Jesus in person than he was in his letters.
Thatâ€™s not particularly meaningful to simply argue from plausibility
. No one is denying that fabrications are plausible
On the contrary, I'm pretty sure that was exactly the point of the OP and what I was responding to. If you're right and that's not what the OP meant, then I agree with you.
I could similarly counter argue the simple fact numerous details in the Gospels have been confirmed by archaeology and other historical sources mean that itâ€™s plausible
the Gospels include no fabrications.
Did you mean that to be a non sequitur
? No matter how many commemorative Quirinius plaques they find, a Roman census based on where one's great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great grandfather lived will never be plausible.