Multiply attested silence

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Multiply attested silence

#1  Postby stevencarrwork » Feb 26, 2010 1:22 pm

Mainstream scholars are too dogmatic in my opinion about the historicity of events in the Gospels.

On page 169 of ‘A Marginal Jew’ JP Meier writes about the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist that ‘the event simply never occurs in John’s Gospel’

Meier regards the baptism as historically certain, and gives the silence in John’s Gospel as part of the evidence for this certainty.

But is this silence multiply attested? No it isn’t.

Surely if we managed to unearth some more Gospels in some abandoned monastery library somewhere, and the baptism simply never occurred in those Gospels, then the silence would be multiply attested.

And then we would have final proof that the baptism really did happen, proof even mythicists would be forced to accept – lots of multiply attested silence about the baptism.

Surely, a responsible historian cannot conclude that the baptism happened, until the time that we find more texts where the event never occurred.

Granted the event simply never occurs in John’s Gospel, but that is only one text.

Until we find more texts which back up the silence in John about the baptism, we cannot leap to the conclusion that it happened
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Re: Multiply attested silence

#2  Postby Emil » Feb 27, 2010 9:45 am

I agree that many scholars are over confident about these things. I don't, though, really understand Meier's point.

In John's Gospel, John the Baptist is referred to, he testifies that Jesus is the 'coming one', he talks about his own baptising ministry as a forerunner to Jesus, and he says that he saw the Spirit descend on Jesus, which in the synoptics is described as happening at or near to the time of baptism. If you know the story of Jesus being baptised by John, then you can read the account in the fourth gospel and think that it's pretty much like the other three gospels. It's true that, in fact, there is no actual description of the baptism itself, but everything else is in place.

John is odd in the way he tells the story of Jesus. He omits the Last Supper. He has Jesus die on a different day from the synoptics. He seems to want to convey the 'truth' or meaning of events apart from the events themselves, and does this by going all round the events but missing out the crucial central bit.

The usual view of the baptism would be that if you were inventing a back story for your hero, you would probably want him springing fully formed from wherever. To have him as a follower of another leader, a splinter group from John the Baptist's, diminishes him. You probably wouldn't make it up. So it probably happened.
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Re: Multiply attested silence

#3  Postby stevencarrwork » Mar 01, 2010 10:34 am

If you were writing a back story for your hero, who else would be known for baptising?

And would you want your hero to be baptised by a nobody? Naturally not. Who did Meier expect 'Mark' to have baptising Jesus?

Of course , if Jesus had been baptised by somebody that nobody had heard of, Christians would simply claim that it must be historical, as arguments against baptism by somebody unknown to history are arguments from silence.

'If you know the story of Jesus being baptised by John, then you can read the account in the fourth gospel and think that it's pretty much like the other three gospels.'

Of course!

If John does not mention the baptism, then it is historical by the criterion of embarrassment.

If John does mention the baptism, then it is historical by the criterion of multiple attestation.

You lose again,atheist suckers! And no whining that the game is rigged!
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