A Quick History Lesson

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By Nick Peters

Objection:

The Bible is a compendium of fireside tales and fables recounted orally for generations by goat herders and primitive tribes from the stone age until writing was invented, and then again many different sources, transliterations, and versions were written down.

A Quick History Lesson

There were no grand central universities to organize the many various versions of these origin stories. They were for entertainment, and to answer the questions of the many fears and mysteries of our universe since there was no science yet. This is the Old Testament.

The ‘new’ Testes is also hearsay since these letters, ‘gospels’ and stories were written by the loyal faithful, the camp followers, not by objective historians at that particular time, or by any contemporary writers, and these tales were written many years after the supposed events of this mythical Jesus. Thus, there is no verifiable evidence of a Jesus in real history.

Then many of these stories, but not all, were compiled for one self-absorbed converted Roman Emperor for his expressed purpose of conquest and control of the people of Europe for his Holy Roman Empire. He recognized that this was the perfect religion/mythology for domination of the populace. Half the stories were ignored by the Nicean Bishops, and none have been proven to be based on fact.

This ‘Bable’ is backed up by absolutely no facts and evidence.

– Brien

Nick Peters’ Response:

I have been asked by Tim Stratton to write a reply to Brien as he has been making these same objections in various groups on social media — including the FreeThinking Ministries Facebook page. Tim refers to it as a “softball objection.” I really think that’s inappropriate because when you play softball, there’s an actual target to swing at.

Let’s go through and consider Brien’s objections:

“The Bible is a compendium of fireside tales and fables recounted orally for generations by goat herders and primitive tribes from the stone age until writing was invented, and then again many different sources, transliterations, and versions were written down.”

Let’s begin by noting that no evidence is given to support any of these assertions. It’s all a “just so” story. Somehow, Brien knows these stories go back to the Stone Age. How? What evidence has been brought forward? Nothing. There’s also this implication that people who are goat herders specifically — and all primitives — must be therefore stupid. It’s one of my favorite claims to see: “Ancient People Were Stupid!”

Then we are told writing was invented and many different sources, transliterations, and versions were written down. Well, a source is something that’s used when writing, so that part doesn’t make sense. Then transliteration supposedly, but that’s using another alphabet to write a message, so what message was being transliterated if the alphabet hadn’t been written? Then he claims there are many versions, but where are these versions? Can Brien show them? We could recommend that he read a book like this, but that’s likely too much work. (By the way, for those financially challenged libraries offer these books for free.)

“There were no grand central universities to organize the many various versions of these origin stories. They were for entertainment, and to answer the questions of the many fears and mysteries of our universe since there was no science yet.

This is the Old Testament.”

That’s true. There were no grand central universities. After all, there was no Christianity yet, and Christians started the majority of those universities, including the universities that were founded in AmericaIn the medieval period, there were plenty of universities founded by Christians. As for why the stories were written, again, we have a “just so” story. It’s also assumed the accounts are meant to be read as scientific accounts. I disagree. I go with John Walton in saying the accounts are aimed at dealing with God declaring the function of creation in being a cosmos for Him to dwell in. Still, Brien has given zero evidences or sources for any of this.

“The ‘new’ Testes is also hearsay since these letters, ‘gospels’ and stories were written by the loyal faithful, the camp followers, not by objective historians at that particular time, or by any contemporary writers, and these tales were written many years after the supposed events of this mythical Jesus.”

Awwww. “The New Testes.” Isn’t that cute? I bet Brien sure feels like a big boy using terminology like that. Well, give him a cookie. So the first statement we have is that the Gospels are hearsay. On what grounds? First, they were written by the loyal faithful.

I was not aware that being loyal to a cause meant that your account was hearsay or even dare I say it, unreliable. They are also contrasted to objective historians. Keep in mind, Jews today have the best holocaust museums out there, and I’m quite sure they have a bias. As for objective historians, no historian is purely objective. If you write about something, it’s because you care about it.

Besides that, which historians should have written about Jesus? How many of them are going to take seriously the claims of a crucified criminal in the backwaters of Judea being a Messiah figure? No more than most elite will go and track down a Benny Hinn claim.

‘Finally, these were not by contemporary writers and were written many years after the events.’

Well, usually historical accounts are written after the events. That’s the way it works. Next, this is also common in the ancient world. Plutarch would write about events that took place centuries before he lived. The first biographies of Alexander the Great that we have come centuries later.

Next, there is still no evidence given. Perhaps Brien could someday learn to interact with a work like this one. Does Brien have any methodology whereby to date an ancient manuscript? Does he have a methodology to determine authorship?

Finally, this would only apply to the Gospels. Seven of the thirteen epistles attributed to Paul are universally accepted in scholarship, and those seven are all we need to make a case for the resurrection of Jesus.

“Thus, there is no verifiable evidence of a Jesus in real history.”

At this point, we just put our heads back and roar in laughter! Jesus mythicism is to history what Intelligent Design (ID) is said to be to science. (I am not a supporter of ID anyway.) Wait. That’s not accurate. There are far more Ph.D.’s in science that will give some backing to it than there are Ph.D.’s in the New Testament or ancient history that will support mythicism. In other words, if you think ID and/or any denial of evolution is junk science, you have no grounds to be supporting mythicism.

Bart Ehrman and Maurice Casey are both serious NT scholars who have written on this topic. They definitely represent the position of most skeptical scholars on this issue. It’s just not a serious claim. It leaves too many questions to explain and lacks much explanatory power itself.

“Then many of these stories, but not all, were compiled for one self-absorbed converted Roman Emperor for his expressed purpose of conquest and control of the people of Europe for his Holy Roman Empire. He recognized that this was the perfect religion/mythology for domination of the populace. Half the stories were ignored by the Nicean Bishops, and none have been proven to be based on fact.”

Poor Brien doesn’t know his history. The Holy Roman Empire started in 800 with Charlemagne. The Council of Nicea was under Constantine in 325. Constantine didn’t have much to do with it and Athanasius, the grand hero of the event, went into exile numerous times afterward as Arians took power. Brien tells us half the stories were ignored by the bishops. No evidence is given of this, and the Council of Nicea was about the Arian controversy. It was not about the canon of Scripture. The first listing we have that mirrors the Protestant Bible comes from Athanasius in 367.

Brien tells us this was the perfect mythology to control the populace. Why? No reason is given. All we have is assertions of faith.

“This ‘Bable’ is backed up by absolutely no facts and evidence.”

You might think this if you ignore all scholarship and archaeology and everything else. It seems as if Brien has never read any scholarship. In an irony, he is like many pastors in many pulpits that he would decry. Reading Brien’s writing reminds me of the joke about the fundamentalist pastor writing the sermon outline for Sunday and putting on the side, “Weak point. Pound pulpit harder.” It would remind me more if there were any points here at all. Brien is just a “fundamentalist pastor” for the other side giving statements of faith without evidence.

Irony is funny, isn’t it?

 


Nick Peters has a passion for apologetics. He has a Bachelor’s Degree in preaching and Bible from Johnson University and is currently working on a Master’s in the New Testament. He and his wife are both diagnosed with Aspergers and have a cat named Shiro. His other interests include reading, video games, and popular TV shows like The Big Bang Theory and The Flash. Nick says that he is extremely sarcastic, so you’ve been warned! Make sure to check out his Deeper Waters website here at www.deeperwatersapologetics.com

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