Wednesday, July 13, 2011

My Common Sense is Tingling: Debunking Christianity: Why the Q Hypothesis Works

Tommy G. Baker has posted another article attempting to discredit the Bible. He fails. But let's see how he fails. I find that his methods better than John Loftus;, however so I guess that's worth a little something. My comments are in red. 

Mark 1: 21-39 presents Jesus going to Simon Peter's house and curing Peter's mother-in-law. She has a fever which Jesus "cures'. She then gets up and serves them. That evening people brought the demon possessed and sick to the house. The whole city gathers about the door.

Notice how Baker just summarizes the text instead of quoting it. It's not that he doesn't get it right but it is interesting.

Jesus heals many of the cases and told them to keep quite. And the following morning before daylight he went out to a private place and prayed. he is interrupted by Peter and the rest telling him that the crowds were looking for him. He gets the new followers to go the the next towns in Galilee preaching and exorcizing demons.

Until we get to here

32 That evening after sunset, the people brought to Jesus all who were sick. They also brought all who were controlled by demons. 33 All the people in town gathered at the door. 34 Jesus healed many of them. They had all kinds of sicknesses. He also drove out many demons. But he would not let the demons speak, because they knew who he was. - Mark 1:32-34

Notice how Baker seems to say that that Jesus only heals some of the people who are there as if there were some people who were sick that Jesus did not heal. This isn't what the text says. It says that Jesus healed some of the people who were there because obviously not every single person there was sick. Second the text does not tell us that he told all the people he healed to be quite but Jesus told the demons He cast out to be quiet.  I wonder why was Baker saying the Bible says things it does not say.

When we look at Matthew and Luke the story changes. Matthew 8:14 -27 has been rewritten by its author:

Let's see if he can prove that.

1) Matthew as throughout the Gospel intensifies the situation to make it ore outstanding. Here instead of Jesus curing many of those brought. Matthew now says he cures all of who was brought to him.

Guess not

16 When evening came, many people controlled by demons were brought to Jesus. He drove out the spirits with a word. He healed all who were sick. Matthew 8:16

This isn't a conflict with Mark at all. They are both saying that Jesus healed all those who are sick.

2) Matthew adds an Old Testament quote to claim that the event was a fulfilment of prophecy, " He took away our infirmities and bore our diseases (Isaiah 53:4)." The Jewish interpretation is that this applies to the whole of Israel. Here we see it taken to create the Suffering Servant as a prophecy of the messiah (Origen, Contra Celsus).

And how is adding the detail that Jesus fulfilled the Old Testament a problem? I agree with Baker that Matthew was written to Jews. It's written in such a way that Jewish sensibilities are brought out.  Explaining that Jesus fulfilled the New Testament would be very important to Jewish leaders. It would not have been as important to Romans (Mark) or Greeks (Luke).

3) Here the events will change dramatically. Instead of Jesus going to bed and getting up early in the morning to pray he commands his new followers to get a boat to cross the lake. This is a fabrication by Matthew. It acts as a "seam" to stitch a passage from Q into his reworking of the text of Mark.

Why does it have to be a fabrication? Baker admits that he doesn't know who wrote Matthew. For all we know it could be the man whom tradition says it was who wrote it. And in that case there is no reason to think that Matthew just gives more information than Mark does in this instance.  There is no need to complicate matters introducing a third source that no one can prove ever existed.

Matthew 8:
9 Then a teacher of the law came to him and said, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.”
20 Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”
21 Another disciple said to him, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.”
22 But Jesus told him, “Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.
This is followed by the next seam in which Jesus gets into the boat and Jesus calms the storm. With this addition we see that Jesus no longer sleeps or prays early the next day. This addition of the "Would-be Follower" changes the original story of Mark. This is at the beginning of the ministry of Jesus according to Matthew.

Again Baker assumes that Matthew changes a story and can't prove any such thing happened. He merely asserts it.

When we compare the section in Luke 4:38-41 we see Luke also intensifies the event:

1) all of the people are cured by laying on of hands. The demons coming out testify that Jesus "is the Son of God." He rebukes the demons to be silent rather than the people as in Mark.

No, in Mark the demons are rebuked not the people,.  What translation is Baker reading?

2) As in Mark Jesus come the next morning goes out to a private place to pray.

Still doesn't contradict Matthew. One Gospel has a detail the other two do not have. That's not a conflict. That is what one would expect if they were based on eyewitness testimony. 

3) But Luke 9:57-62 still has the Would-be Followers passage. He uses it from Q at the end of the ministry of Jesus. The event is made to occur while going through Samaria on the way to Jerusalem where he will die.

Wow! This time Baker asserts much without any proof whatsoever. If Luke copied from Mark and didn't have access to "Q" then how could he have taken material from Q if it's not part of Mark? I find it humorous. The "Q" hypothesis is not really one hypothesis but comes in multiple flavors. And there are versions where Matthew and Luke did not have access to "Q" and Mark and  where Matthew and Luke only had Mark. They all can't be true. And again a  hypothesis is only a guess not fact. And here I don't even think "hypothesis" is a good description. "Pipe Dream" seems more fitting.

As an atheistic Bible study we can show to Christians that their scripture is not inerrant since the events are changed by the editing of Mark by Matthew and Luke. We can show that a sayings source that had no contextual setting was given context by inserting its collection of Jesus sayings into Mark. Mark thus becomes a convenient context.

If Baker means atheistic Bible study is a good example of eisogesis and how one should not read anything, then  I agree that the approach is useful. 

This also demonstrates that there is nothing historical in these presentations. This approach throughout the Synoptic Gospels shows an early Mark that has an all too human Jesus who does not know who touches his robe, who gets angry with people and insults several who seek his help. He has a human temper.

Baker is pontificating. He proved no such thing. I find nothing but fantasy in his presentation and no fact. Who said Jesus was not fully human? The orthodox Christian viewpoint is that Jesus is fully human and fully God. Why wouldn't he get angry? God got angry in the Old Testament a lot. When the woman with the issue of Blood touched Him, Jesus did not know who it was for the same reason He didn't know the day or the hour of his second coming: He voluntarily limited Himself in His humanity, but that doesn't mean He ceased being God at any time. And no I would not classify Jesus' temper as human as like us. If He were He would have wiped out everyone who had a hand in his crucifixion and kangaroo trial 

Matthew removes all of this. Jesus becomes a heavenly emissary with perfect knowledge and super human powers. Luke shows him to be a divine agent similar to Matthew's restructuring. We can see the progress in a temporal manner from Q an early sayings source of a human Jewish teacher to Mark as a man adopted by God in a Gentile view. Jesus is seen as an Enochican heavenly messenger in Matthew. And finally he becomes a Gentile demi-god in Luke. John will make him a pre-existent property of God, Logos, His Wisdom and Reason.

No, Matthew gives other details that shows how  Jesus was/is the king Israel has  been waiting for. How can you see any progression from "Q" given that we don't know what was all in "Q"? Mark's goal in writing His Gospel was very different from Matthew, Luke, and John. The audience is different. Of course the details included would be different. This does not mean that there is conflict. If I tell you Sue went to the store and then I told someone else that Sue and Jane went to the store, is this a conflict? Did I lie? No, I did not. This is the nature of the differences between the Gospels.

Q becomes the only source of primary attention for a historical Jesus. It shows a human being who is not a sacrifice for salvation as in the later Gospels. It is his teachings that are the source of salvation for the original hearers who were Jewish Palestinans.

Correction "Q" could be a source of primary attention for a historical Jesus if we knew what was in "Q"  and we don't even know if such a document really existed outside of the minds of the men who dreamed it up. 

Written by Tommy G. Baker

So was Baker able to show why the Q hypothesis works and why we should accept it in understanding who Jesus is from a historical standpoint? Nope, not even close. At least Baker is trying to support his atheism by attacking the Bible instead of hiding behind a stupid charge of circular reasoning.- claiming that you can't use the Bible to prove the Bible. He seems convinced that the Bible discredits itself. Hopefully as he keeps studying the scriptures, God will open his mind and he will truly see them.

Debunking Christianity: Why the Q Hypothesis Works
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