Mod+ 241. JOSEPH ATWILL RESPONDS TO CAESAR’S MESSIAH CRITICS

Discussion in 'Skeptiko Shows' started by alex.tsakiris, Mar 25, 2014.

  1. Alex

    Alex New

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    ok, so you agree with everything else, right? you're just hung up on the dates. I ask because I think I can get that straightened out, but I gotta wonder if that will really do much for you. I get this feeling that this is about belief, not history.
     
  2. Ian Gordon

    Ian Gordon Ninshub Member

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    The Gospel of Mark is generally ascribed to the period between 65 and 75 CE. Exegetes base this conclusion primarily on the prophecy of Jesus in Mark 13 that appears to refer to events of First Jewish Revolt in 66-70, in which Roman troops leveled the Temple in Jerusalem. For the vast majority of interpreters these passage indicates that the writer is aware that the Temple in Jerusalem either has been destroyed, or is about to be destroyed. Additional support for this may be derived from the focus on plundered and destroyed Temples in the Old Testament hypertexts the writer incorporated into the Gospel. Numerous exegetes have pointed out that Mark 13:9-13 refers to events that would take place long after Jesus' time: (...)
    http://www.michaelturton.com/Mark/GMark_intro.html

    Joel L. Watts, who wrote the scholarly Mimetic Criticism and the Gospel of Mark: An Introduction and Commentary (2013), discussing the sources and influences on the gospel of Mark, writes: "The social situation, including dating and reception history, prevails as a key in properly distinguishing sources. The date is near 75 BC." Eugene, Oregon: Wipf & Stock, p. 107.

    As I mentioned earlier in this thread, Watts' conclusions are radically not Atwill's (!), but his analysis (including literary & historical analysis) contends that the Gospel of Mark is written to buffer his community psychologically against two "enemies", Vespasian and Simon b. Giora. (p. 107-108).

    Here's Watts' blog article again responding to someone thinking he and Atwill are saying the same thing:
    http://unsettledchristianity.com/joe-atwill-bill-oreilly-and-josephus-sitting-in-a-tree/
     
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2015
  3. Please don't assume anything beyond what I post.

    I can't predict how I will respond to a future post you might make until I see the post and the evidence you provide.

    Whenever I look in detail at Atwill's claims, they don't hold up to the facts. The prefiguration doesn't hold up if you look at the full prophesy not just the part Atwill refers to, the time line of Mark and Josephus doesn't hold up - Mark wrote long before Josephus. Paul's letters prove Jesus was considered the Messiah early on and that contradicts what Atwill says in your interview. As far as I can tell Atwill is ignoring the facts.
     
  4. Ian Gordon

    Ian Gordon Ninshub Member

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    Jim, I don't support what Atwill concludes, for many of the reasons you mention in this thread (Paul just being one of them), but what you write here is clearly wrong. There is no support for the claim that Mark, with any certainty, "wrote long before Josephus". As my previous posts indicate, it is even very possible that they are writing in the same time frame.

    Joel Watts (Christian, New Testament scholar) makes a strong case that Mark 13's "prediction of the destruction of the temple of Jerusalem" is actually a reference to this historical event having already taken place, and his writing to a post-Temple-destruction audience.
     
  5. I provided four references to support my statement, two for each date.

    I don't mean to imply that a consensus among experts is proof. But disagreeing with the consensus is not proof either.

    Watt is not convinced by Atwill:

    http://unsettledchristianity.com/joe-atwill-bill-oreilly-and-josephus-sitting-in-a-tree/
     
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2015
  6. Alex

    Alex New

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    Untangling this mess:

    One of the bunny trails we get pulled down is this idea that we have to swallow Cesar's Messiah whole. That is, either the Romans invented Jesus, like Atwill says, or everything Atwill is saying needs to be set aside. I take a different position. I think Atwill has given us a couple of new and important insights into this history. And, we have to pull his theories apart in order to judge them.

    So, for a minute, let's suspend judgement on whether Atwill is completely correct and instead focus on where one of his theories take us... for example:

    The Gospels were influenced by Josephus.

    - When considering this we don't have to worry about whether Atwill should or did considering the letters of Paul, or whether he's considering other sources. We can just focus on whether or not the Gospels match up with Josephus.

    - Who was Josephus? Jewish General. Take sides with the Romans. Historian. Was there for the fall of Jerusalem. His account has been verified archaeologically (below).

    - The Gospels. Matthew, Mark and Luke predict the fall of Jerusalem. Predict is the operative word. This is supposed to be Jesus's prediction (below). Parallels between Josephus and predictions concerning the fall of Jerusalem are extremely problematic for Christians. They mean some very important parts of the story of Jesus... who he was... what he did... were fabricated in the Gospels.

    ====== http://www.centuryone.com/josephus.html
    Archaeological Data

    The most obvious data for examination, it would seem to us, isarchaeological material. In many instances, numerous details provided by Josephus can be checked, including architechural data, and their accuracy confirmed. Such precision, where it can be established, is surprising, especially since the information was set down in writing years after Josephus had left Palestine. In addition, it is clear that in some cases he is describing objects that he cannot possibly have seen, let alone measured. Thus he probably never visited Masada or set foot on its summit, so he cannot himself have measured its walls. For sixty years preceding the Great Revolt, the desert fortress was occupied by a Roman garrison and civilians were not normally allowed entry. Even so, he writes in War (VII, 286) that the walls of Masada were seven stadia, i.e., about 1300m. long.1 And so indeed they were.2 Similarly, he describes in War (I, 403) the walls of Samaria-Sebaste, built by Herod, as being twenty stadia long (3720m.). This figure also approximates to their length as unearthed.3

    The perimeter of the walls of Jerusalem is said by Josephus (War V, 159) to extend to thirty-three stadia (6138m.), whereas in Avi-Yonah's reckoning they were 5550m. long; but this is a difference of merely 10%.4

    Again, the harbour of Caesarea built by Herod has been studied meticulously by A. Raban and he finds that Josephus's account of it is by and large correct.5 At Masada, too, the description of the northern palace (which Josephus calls the western palace,War VII, 286) matches the remains as discovered.6 The same my be said of the width of the wall, eight cubits, which is close to 4 m. (War VII, 286).7 On the other hand, the historian alludes to thirty-seven towers on the walls of Masada (War VII, 287), whereas only twenty-seven were identified during the excavations. Either the excavators were unable to recognize all the towers, or Josephus's work contains a textual error, which may possibly be the fault of a copyist.8

    Further perusal of Josephus would undoubtedly reveal additional instances of similar archaeological data.9

    ==== http://www.datingthenewtestament.com/Jerusalem.htm
    In the synoptic gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke, we have a different situation, because in these books Jesus clearly predicts the fall of Jerusalem. Luke has an example which is not in the other two synoptic gospels. Luke 19:41-44 says: “When He approached Jerusalem, He saw the city and wept over it, saying, "If you had known in this day, even you, the things which make for peace! But now they have been hidden from your eyes. For the days will come upon you when your enemies will throw up a barricade against you, and surround you and hem you in on every side, and they will level you to the ground and your children within you, and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not recognize the time of your visitation." This passage is very clear that the city will be destroyed. Some critics say this indicates that Luke was written after the fall of Jerusalem. The argument goes – “foretelling a future event is impossible, even for Jesus, so since this book foretells the destruction of Jerusalem, it must have been written after it happened.”
     
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2015
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  7. Ian Gordon

    Ian Gordon Ninshub Member

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    I think a lot of scholars accept that there is a high possibility that Luke read and used Josephus as a source.

    In the portions of Joel Watts' book that I'm reading, he comes to the conclusion that Mark, the earliest gospel, likely had access to Josephus as a source also, or the same sources Josephus did, and he "mimes the historian's account for images to imitate" (p. 73). First he says Mark 13, but also Mark 11.15-17 are instances that point to Mark being dated post-70 AD. Mark's "mimetic sources" point the book being written between 71 and 75. He then explains Josephus wrote his early material of Vespasian's victories after arriving in Rome, and that he wrote in his native Aramaic. Josephus's early writings were first a small pamphlet that was self-published to friends in Rome and Asia. He quotes another scholar who says that the pamphlet, translated into Greek, made into copies by numerous scribes on papyrus rolls, would have circulated widely in the Roman world. This propaganda "littering the streets", Mark would have no problem coming across.

    Watts also notes that Josephus used the war memoirs of Vespasian and Titus to write his account, because they were accessible, and they were likely known to Mark also. Watts concludes that we cannot know if Mark accessed Josephus' pamplet or final work, but he had access to the same history, and there are important literary connections between Josephus and Mark. Josephus' work was also published in various stages, from early 71 to after 75. (Joel L. Watts: Mimetic Criticism and the Gospel of Mark (2013). Eugene, Oregon: Wipf & Stockpcits, p. 72-75.)
     
  8. Alex

    Alex New

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    excellent. but aren't these guys are burying the lead. I mean, tell your average church going Christian that these guys made up stories attributed to Jesus... they would be in shock!
     
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  9. Brian_the_bard

    Brian_the_bard Lost Pilgrim Member

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    Sorry if this link has been posted before but it is too long a thread and my attention span too short.
    http://www.richardcarrier.info/archives/4664

    "Joseph Atwill is one of those crank mythers I often get conflated with. Mythicists like him make the job of serious scholars like me so much harder, because people see, hear, or read them and think their nonsense is what mythicism is. They make mythicism look ridiculous. So I have to waste time (oh by the gods, so much time) explaining how I am not arguing anything like their theories or using anything like their terrible methods, and unlike them I actually know what I am talking about, and have an actual Ph.D. in a relevant subject from a real university."

    "I honestly shouldn’t have to explain why this is absurd. But I’ll hit some highlights. Then I’ll reveal the reasons why I think Atwill is a total crank, and his work should be ignored, indeed everywhere warned against as among the worst of mythicism, not representative of any serious argument that Jesus didn’t exist. And that’s coming from me, someone who believes Jesus didn’t exist."
     
  10. Alex

    Alex New

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    a lot has been said about this... condensed version -- Richard Carrier agrees with Atwill on the most fundamental issue re the parallels between Josephus and Mark undermining the authenticity of Jesus' prophecies re the fall of Jerusalem, but then throws a hissy fit because Atwill's book got more attention than any of his.

    Carrier is a hardcore atheist (impossibly stupid philosophical starting point) who refuse to debate Atwill (I tried to set it up). Score one for Atwill :)
     

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