Saturday, September 29, 2012

Fistbump of the Day: Yes, We Are Still Fighting Gnosticism


The past several weeks I've head of a manuscript fragment that people are suggesting sheds light on the early history of Christianity. It's just a scrap of papyrus written in coptic but what is putting the world up in arms is one of the phrases written on it:

Jesus said to them, my wife,

This is basically making people remember that some people believe that Jesus was married. Before people tried to use the gnostic text "Gospel of Thomas" to substantiate the claim but the text itself does not explicitly say that Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene people infer it. The interesting thing is that neither this scrap of papyrus or the Gospel of Thomas have either the historical evidence or validity of the four canonical gospels Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. There are people who don't see the Gospels as historical true or that there is historic and identifiable Christianity and they seem to want to give alternate gospels and texts equal weight.

[Dr Karen] King said that it was not until around 200 A.D. that claims started to surface, via the theologian known as Clement of Alexandria, that Jesus did not marry.

"This fragment suggests that other Christians of that period were claiming that he was married" but does not provide actual evidence of a marriage, she said.

"Christian tradition preserved only those voices that claimed Jesus never married. The 'Gospel of Jesus's Wife' now shows that some Christians thought otherwise." [Source]

Dr King and others are clear in telling that this does not prove that Jesus did indeed have a wife. However they think that there were Christians [the Gnostics] who did think that Jesus had wife and the reason why traditional Christianity does not is because the poor Gnostics were silenced. It's amazing to me that people would even try to make Gnostics Christians. The Mormons have more in common with historic traditional Christianity than the Gnostics did!  I mean really. The only way you could really think that the Gnostics would have been recognized as Christians by Peter, James, John, Paul, and the other first century Christians is if you don't know what the Bible teaches and/or what the many Gnostic flavors taught.

Added to this Dr Dan Wallace has posted the following piece of information:

Dan Wallace just posted this:


“News flash: Harvard Theological Review has decided not to publish Karen King¹s paper on the Coptic papyrus fragment on the grounds that the fragment is probably a fake.” This from an email Dr. Craig Evans, the Payzant Distinguished Professor of New Testament at Acadia University and Divinity College, sent to me earlier today. He said that Helmut Koester (Harvard University), Bentley Layton (Yale University), Stephen Emmel (University of Münster), and Gesine Robinson (Claremont Graduate School)–all first-rate scholars in Coptic studies–have weighed in and have found the fragment wanting. No doubt Francis Watson’s comprehensive work showing the fragment’s dependence on the Gospel of Thomas was a contributing factor for this judgment, as well as the rather odd look of the Coptic that already raised several questions as to its authenticity.
It's a forgery. 

What I find interesting is that while we have people trying to water down Christianity and say things about Jesus that they cannot prove over a forgery and no Christian killing over the situation, we have three countries protesting and killing over a movie on YouTube  that insult Muhammad based on Islamic sources! God is straight up showing us a difference between those who follow Christ and those who follow Muhammad.

It's nothing but the hand of God. The best thing is that God has called up brothers in Christ in every generation for when this kind of crap gets raised up. Here is a list of links regarding the way Dr James White, Mariano Grinbank, and Matthew Dowling have addressed this issue. Fistbumps to them all.

The Gospel of Jesus' Wife and Update: The Gospel of Jesus' Wife by Matthew Dowling

Was Jesus married? Manuscript says yes by Mariano Grinbank

Check these out by Dr James White
Get Ready for A Wave of Gnostic Looniness Once Again
A Note to the Secular World: Do Your History
Calling the MSM---Anyone Home?




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21 comments:

  1. The interesting thing is that neither this scrap of papyrus or the Gospel of Thomas have either the historical evidence or validity of the four canonical gospels Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

    Although true, since the canonical gospels are silent on the subject, the tradition itself that Jesus was married does rise to "historical evidence".

    With that said, I have to ask, why, theologically, would it matter to you if Jesus was married or not?

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  2. It's a forgery.

    Also, a reasonable person would wait until the ink tests are done by Harvard in a couple weeks before making any definitive statements like this. Also, to borrow one of your favorite tacks, "there are plenty of other scholars who don't think it's a forgery"...

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  3. 1. Did you not look at Update: The Gospel of Jesus' Wife by Matthew Dowling which does give you links to all the scholarship being done where scholars come to the conclusion that "The Gospel of Jesus' Wife" is a forgery.


    2. the tradition itself that Jesus was married does rise to "historical evidence".

    The tradition that Jesus was married only evidence of historicity if it is true. And there is no evidence that the idea goes back to the first century.

    3.
    With that said, I have to ask, why, theologically, would it matter to you if Jesus was married or not?


    If Jesus was married and the canonical Gospels were true, then Jesus married a woman knowing that he would not be keeping his vows and responsibilities to her. Added to Isaiah 53, there is no theological reason to think that Jesus was married. On top of that, we have absolutely no reason to think that Jesus was married. And if the "Gospel of Jesus' Wife" is authentic it doesn't mean that Jesus was married - it's too late to carry any weight. It means that many of the Gnostics were even more wrong than I had thought.

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  4. Did you not look at Update:

    Yes, and your statement is not correct.

    And there is no evidence that the idea goes back to the first century.

    Likewise, there's also no evidence that the idea that he wasn't married goes back to the first century.

    If Jesus was married and the canonical Gospels were true, then Jesus married a woman knowing that he would not be keeping his vows and responsibilities to her.

    This is wrong. Till Death do us part, after all.

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  5. Oh and leaving a widow on purpose makes a lot of sense.

    Oh and on Matt Dowling's post:

    Francis Watson of the University of Durham has provided a six-page analysis (PDF) of the Coptic fragment. He concludes...

    The text has been constructed out of small pieces – words or phrases – culled mostly from the Coptic Gospel of Thomas (GTh), Sayings 101 and 114, and set in new contexts.
    This is most probably the compositional procedure of a modern author who is not a native speaker of Coptic.

    You must have missed it. I thought you read it. You once claimed that 2 Peter was a forgery because Peter did not write it you were wrong but you should at least be consistent.

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  6. Here is a good, more recent article on the whole affair so far.  You’ll see Francis Watson does not represent the last word on this debate and although I couldn’t find his CV, his bio from Durham doesn’t really indicate that this is his area of expertise. 
     
    So, out of curiosity, given your opinion on (undisclosed) theological matters, is it your position that it’s impossible for Jesus to have been married?  And if so, then it follow this cannot be anything except a forgery, authentically dated or not.  And if you read the conclusion of the linked article, you’ll always be able to believe that, true or not.  
     
    I Just want to know why you would care enough hastily cling to a conclusion like you did in the original post.    
     
    PS: The Second Epistle of Peter is likely pseudepigraphical, not a forgery.   

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  7. 1. Thanks for the link.
    2. I never said that Francis Watson was the last word. Only that his is better than yours. We can play the my-scholars-arep-better-than-yours game all day long but it doesn't change the fact that even if the document is ancient it's far too late to substantiate the claim that Jesus was married. And given the way Gnosticism is the total abdication of apostolic authority, I wouldn't put any stock in their theology or much into their traditions.

    3. why you would care enough hastily cling to a conclusion like you did in the original post.

    I don't think I'm being hasty at all. You might think Francis Watson's conclusion and arguments might not carry enough weight (all six pages) due to his background but you can't draw the same conclusion about Daniel Wallace.

    4. The Second Epistle of Peter is likely pseudepigraphical, not a forgery.

    Yes, of course it's not a forgery. We agree. But that is not what you have argued in the past. Sure would like to see you prove that 2nd Peter pseudigraphical.

    5. I'd like to know why you care so much about my opinion? I'd like to know why you haven't addressed anything I said about Isaiah 53 and what it says about the Messiah? And what does all this mean: Did Jesus perfectly fulfill the Old Testament prophecies or not? And what are they? What is your stake? I think the problem is that you think I'm too certain. That's your opinion, but getting angry with me about it doesn't demonstrate that I am wrong.

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  8. I never said that Francis Watson was the last word. Only that his is better than yours.
     
    Um, what?  I’m not an ancient coptic scholar.  Of course neither are you.  You know who else’s word is better than mine and yours?  All the other scholars who have reserved so far judgment.   
     
    Marcus said, “I don't think I'm being hasty at all” after saying “It's a forgery.
     
    Yeah, no, not at all…
    (all six pages)
     
    Awwww, we can’t play the my-scholars-are-better-than-yours game but we can play the page-number game?
     
    But that is not what you have argued in the past.
     
    Yes, it is.  Granted, there’s a fine line between something being pseudepigraphical and being a forgery, possibly only a semantic one. 
     
    …fact that even if the document is ancient it's far too late to substantiate the claim that Jesus was married. And given the way Gnosticism is the total abdication of apostolic authority, I wouldn't put any stock in their theology or much into their traditions.
     
    Well, I don’t put any stock in theology in general.  So that’s cool.  But no, you seem to be missing the point, this document wouldn’t directly substantiate the claim that Jesus was married, just that people in the second century believed he was, which we already (indirectly) knew.    But given the paucity of the historical record on the historical Jesus, the existence of even the tradition that he was married is as much “evidence” as anything else we have about his actual life.   My personal opinion on the matter is that of course he was married and given the customs and norms of the time and other details, the silence of the gospels on this specific subject is the best evidence we have that he actually WAS married.   Sort of like if we took the phrase, “Ryan spoke to the audience of bankers in the Embassy Suites conference room”.  The assumption here is that I’m not naked. Obviously, it’s not explicitly stated if I’m wearing clothes or not, but if I wasn’t, it wouldn’t make sense to not mention that very odd detail. 
     
    …but you can't draw the same conclusion about Daniel Wallace.
     
    I’m not seeing that Wallace is any more or less qualified than Watson?  Nor do I see that he’s personally weighed in on the subject (besides relaying that other scholars think it’s a forgery). 
     
    5. I'd like to know why you care so much about my opinion?

    It’s entertaining. 

    I'd like to know why you haven't addressed anything I said about Isaiah 53 and what it says about the Messiah?

    Because I don’t think you are correct about who (what) Isaiah 53 is referring to, and more importantly I do not care enough about your post-hoc rationalizations to discuss it.  But with that said, assuming for the sake of argument, that the Isaiah author was talking about a person, then I still see nothing in there that explicitly precludes said person from being married. 

    …but getting angry with me…

    This is your imagination at work.

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  9. In pointing out how many pages that Francis Watson lays out the reasons why he thinks the fragment is a forgery was just showing that he's not just making up his conclusion and you dismissing his conclusion is highly unreasonable. I think that there has been enough scholarship that has been done already to come to the same conclusion. If other scholars want to do more research that's fine. There is evidence that it's not authentic. This is why I am not being hasty with all the information that is available.

    But given the paucity of the historical record on the historical Jesus, the existence of even the tradition that he was married is as much “evidence” as anything else we have about his actual life. My personal opinion on the matter is that of course he was married and given the customs and norms of the time and other details, the silence of the gospels on this specific subject is the best evidence we have that he actually WAS married.

    I realize that you are not alone in that opinion. That does not mean that Jesus was really married.

    Because I don’t think you are correct about who (what) Isaiah 53 is referring to, and more importantly I do not care enough about your post-hoc rationalizations to discuss it. But with that said, assuming for the sake of argument, that the Isaiah author was talking about a person, then I still see nothing in there that explicitly precludes said person from being married.

    Given your lack of exegetical skills, it was good that you remained silent. You have no idea whether I'm rationalizing my conclusions about why I think Jesus was not married before or after I wrote this post. Your imagination at work.


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  10. I think that there has been enough scholarship...

    Do you think what Daniel Wallace did in this case was actually scholarship? My point simply being, if you were betting, the odds it's a forgery are probably better than 50/50, but until it's settled, one, especially one in your position as a layman, cannot say "it's a forgery".

    That does not mean that Jesus was really married.

    It also doesn't mean he wasn't. I'd really love to hear your reason for why you NEED to believe he wasn't.

    Given your lack of exegetical skills

    No, you don't get off the hook that easy. You made the claim that Isaiah 53 (actually 52:13-53:13) precludes Jesus from having been married. You need to justify that. If that's not your claim, just be clear.

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  11. Do you think what Daniel Wallace did in this case was actually scholarship?

    Your point wasn't about Francis Watson's scholarship in this matter but his expertise in general! I was referring to Daniel Wallace's general scholarship worth lending credibility to the document being a forgery.

    My point simply being, if you were betting, the odds it's a forgery are probably better than 50/50, but until it's settled, one, especially one in your position as a layman, cannot say "it's a forgery".

    The odds better than 50/50 that it's a forgery given what we know now. What makes your opinion as a "layman" better than mine?

    It also doesn't mean he wasn't. I'd really love to hear your reason for why you NEED to believe he wasn't.

    Who said I NEED to think that? I have good reason to conclude that Jesus was not married and the "Gospel of Jesus' Wife" is a forgery - based on the evidence we have.

    No, you don't get off the hook that easy. You made the claim that Isaiah 53 (actually 52:13-53:13) precludes Jesus from having been married. You need to justify that. If that's not your claim, just be clear.

    Isaiah 53:8 precluded Jesus from being Married or having Children. I'm not avoiding anything. Just given your lack of understanding and hostility to scripture - there is little point. You won't get it.

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  12. What makes your opinion as a "layman" better than mine?

    You seem to be laboring under the delusion that I have an opinion specifically about it being forgery or not.

    Isaiah 53:8 precluded Jesus from being Married or having Children.

    No.

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  13. You seem to be laboring under the delusion that I have an opinion specifically about it being forgery or not.

    My mistake. U seem only interested in wasting my time and yours.

    And as for your opinion about Isaiah 53, you don't even understand who it's about and therefore have no basis for disagreement. Too bad.

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  14. U seem only interested in wasting my time and yours.
     
    No, it’s interesting to try to see how your mind works.  How you adamantly cling to a belief that is neither required by theology or necessitated by the evidence.     We all do this, but it’s rare you get to catch yourself in the act, so don’t miss this opportunity. 
     
    And as for your opinion about Isaiah 53, you don’t even understand who it’s about …
     
    I understand who you think it’s about.  I understand what Jews think it’s about and I understand who and what Catholics think it’s about.  You don’t seem to understand why you think it’s about who you think it’s about.  Prove me wrong though…
     

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  15. How you adamantly cling to a belief that is neither required by theology or necessitated by the evidence.

    You mean like your atheism? Seize your own opportunity to grow.

    I understand who you think it’s about. I understand what Jews think it’s about and I understand who and what Catholics think it’s about. You don’t seem to understand why you think it’s about who you think it’s about. Prove me wrong though…

    You wrong yourself. Jews only started re-interpreting Isaiah 53 as being non-messianic when Christians started pointing out how it was about Jesus. I'd like you to name a single Catholic Scholar who does not think Isaiah 53 is about Jesus. And The entire prophecy fits Jesus. It's a shame you can't see it.

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  16. Jews only started…
     
    No dice.  Origin tells us this is simply not true.  I’ll let you do the leg work on this since one thing I’ve noticed is you need more exposure to the Church Fathers.
     
    And you didn’t understand my comment about Catholics.
     
    Bottom line, it can be and has been interrupted as being about one or multiple people.  But if you accept what is written in the gospels as actually having occurred it is absolutely not about Jesus of Nazareth. 

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  17. No dice. Origin tells us this is simply not true. I’ll let you do the leg work on this since one thing I’ve noticed is you need more exposure to the Church Fathers.

    Origin got a lot of things wrong. I doubt that your knowledge of the Church Fathers is any deeper than your knowledge of scripture.

    And you didn’t understand my comment about Catholics.

    Then make yourself more plain.

    Bottom line, it can be and has been interrupted...

    I'm going to be charitable and assume you mean interpreted.

    ...as being about one or multiple people. But if you accept what is written in the gospels as actually having occurred it is absolutely not about Jesus of Nazareth.

    Prove that. Name a single detail in Isaiah 53 that is not fulfilled or contradicted in the Gospels.

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  18. Origin got a lot of things wrong.

    Yeah, so with that, I'm pretty sure you don't know the reference as it's not someone one would "get wrong" (or right) as in an opinion.

    Tell you what, do a little research, and then get back to me and tell me if you are comfortable saying "Jews only started re-interpreting Isaiah 53 as being non-messianic when Christians started pointing out how it was about Jesus.".

    I won't hold my breath though. In fact, I'll expect a superficial response attempting to dodge the whole subject.

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  19. Yeah, so with that, I'm pretty sure you don't know the reference as it's not someone one would "get wrong" (or right) as in an opinion.

    Next Time you disagree with me or anyone about anything remember it's just your opinion and probably has no basis in fact or reality.

    I'm more than comfortable stating that most common Jewish rhetoric against Jesus being the Messiah is re-contextualization or re-interpretation of prophecies in response to Christianity. Further I would also state that many Jews of the first century would not agree with many of these re-interpretations.

    I've been researching and studying this for years and not everyone agrees with me but I think the evidence fits this. Maybe you should study more of Dr. Michael Brown's work. It's part of his expertise.

    Maybe I will post more on this subject later, but I doubt that you have done any serious study on the matter and just believe what unbelievers have said without really thinking about it yourself.

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  21. ...but I doubt that you have done any serious study on the matter and just believe what unbelievers have said without really thinking about it yourself.

    You'd be wrong.

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