Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Questioning the validity of argument for the “truthfulness” the New Testament

I’ve come upon an argument on Facebook tonight and it got me to think enough to make a new blog post (and just for you). One of the arguments I’ve seen to justify the New Testament being the “words” of god is that it was written by Jesus’ follower a mere 40 years (which as been proven false but lets assume for the sake of argument that it is true) after it’s death at around 33. The argument goes that 40 years is a short time there would still have been people remembering the actual Jesus and they would have shot down anything that would have been a lie right?

Well this is where everything fall apart, you see even if 40 years is not that long of a time for our civilization, and that the average person lives much longer then this in our society it was not the case in the roman empire. The average men life expectancy was only around 46 years. That means that most people did not see their 50th birthday and given that the disciple had to have been at least 14 when they where with Jesus, it would be doubtful that they would still be alive 40 years later. Not to mention that even if they were, just about no one else that had lived through the life of Jesus was and could contradict their account. You have to realize that 40 years at the time was the equivalent of 2 generations, the children of the Jesus’ follower had had children, died, and those children would have had children of their own. So by that time the story of Jesus was the story of someone your grand father might have known. Not exactly first hand account, if you catch my drift.


yofed said...

I do agree with you, but due to the limited info on your post (the situation is actually much more complex than the canonic gospels!), I'll write a post of my own... in the next week or so. I just want to get my dates right first...

If you want to have fun, read "Beyond Belief" and "The Gnostic Gospels" both by Elaine Pagels. They are really enlightening when it comes to early christianity... and what religion we have now! lol

Most likely, the historical Jesus would have hated how twisted his words were, and would say that christianity is heresy. He wanted to reform the jewish faith, not make a pagan/jew mix! I feel sorry for the poor man, sometimes.

There are a lot of interresting wisdom to get from the Bible, though... ;)

yofed said...

No need for a whole post! yahoo!

Most of what I had to say is on this link... I'll read it again later and fill in the blanks if necessary!


yofed said...

Ok, I'll try to fill the gaps now....

So... in Early Christianity, there was not one way of interpreting Jesus's words, but many... and many different gospels. Some of those other (gnostic) gospels are actually older than some of the canonical ones... don't ask me which ones, I'm too lazy to look it up right now ;). There were two main camps, those who said Jesus was a man, and those who said he was God. Followers of the gospel of Thomas and the gospel of John. In gospels such as Thomas, they say every man can find God on his own, while according to the other camp, clergy is necessary. See where it leads us?

Well in 300 something, there was the Necene council. They were to decide what was real christianity, what was heresy. As you know, the winners write history, and there they chose the canonical gospels. To be canonical, a gospel or writing had to tell Jesus' death and resurrection and basically tell in some way he was "the one"... There comes a united church (for a while at least), and clergy saved its arse.

As for truth... that's the point that gets me the most about hard core christians... Every book of the Bible has a different degree of "reliability". For instance, Genesis was written hundreds of years after the events it talks about... however, it doesn't mean it doesn't has roots in some kind of truth... I think it's Origen who said of the gospel of John that it's way off if we talk of litteral truth, but it's right when it comes to spiritual truth... and I think too many people take it litterally... and that bugs me...

One more thing... becuase the writings we have now have been written late doesn't mean they are not based on some more ancient writings that are lost today. What are the chances that a very early document survives? I think we are lucky to know as much as we do now! ;)

I think you'd like Elaine Pagels books, especially the one called "beyond belief".

asaathi said...

But doesn't that just confirm my demonstration that the New Testament is as best a third hand account of the life of Jesus?

Now, just to be a little nickpicker but i'm guessing that the event in Genesis have been written more then hundreds of years after the event they describ. They do talk about the creation of the Univers (~13.7 Gyrs), the creation of the Earth (~4.2 Gyrs), the creation of life (~3.8 Gyrs) and the first men (~ 2 Myrs).

On the last point you make, if John's Gospel is an answer to Tomas' it can't have been written more then a few years after it. Also, every time someone that did not live throught the even write a text based on a someone else's text that might be based on a third person oral account of the event you lose information and thruthfullness. Not to mention that the author of those Gospel claim to have been Jesus followers, which can hardly be truth of they wrote the thing more then 10 years after his death.

yofed said...

I don't deny what you are saying dear ;) It's just that it s more complex than just "it's been written in such and such year"... My main problems with christianity are linked to that specific problem, actually.

As for Genesis, I was talking about the people they are talking about, not the whole creation thing. Between these people living and the written part, there are at least hundred of years... it was probably witten in the early days of judaism, when they needed to "justify" where they come from. It doesn't mean it's 100% false, but probably based on stories told over several generations..

I'm hungry!

yofed said...