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The sayings of Jesus and the dating of the Gospels

Re: The sayings of Jesus and the dating of the Gospels

Postby AllanS » 06 Feb 2009, 08:33

Karen wrote:That's not primitive or ignorant, it's just illiterate. That word has negative connotations now


Being illiterate is primitive and ignorant. And negative. But that's just me being argumentative. :toothy-grin:

literacy was about 10 percent and never exceeded 15 to 20 percent of the population as a whole.


I'll go along with that. Somewhere between 500 and 1000 converts at Pentecost were functionally literate.

These people earnestly believed that one greater than Moses had come. What did Moses do? He wrote the Law down.


It's a nice idea, but I don't think this scenario is likely:


Kill joy!

Writing down what living people said was not a 'natural' thing to do in that society.


Perhaps the gospels are exceptions that prove the rule.

I think it more likely that Joanna, and many other witnesses to Jesus' life and ministry, would have remembered and passed down his sayings orally.


Then I hold little hope for the accuracy of the gospel accounts. Chinese Whispers will work miracles, given 40 years. If the stories about Jesus had decades to cook before anyone bothered to nail them onto paper, then I really can't see why any sane person would believe a word of them.
“And turn their grief into song?" he replied. "That would be a gracious act and a good beginning."

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Re: The sayings of Jesus and the dating of the Gospels

Postby Bluegoat » 07 Feb 2009, 13:03

mitchellmckain wrote:
mgton wrote:So, here are some of the arguments for the accuracy of Jesus' sayings (given the considerable passage of time):

(1) Superior memory of the ancients.
(2) Jesus' sayings were actually written down before the gospels.
(3) The disciples had to teach it, so they knew it.
(4) Divine inspiration assures the accuracy.


1 is just nonsense. I don't believe that for a second. I have nothing but contempt for this medieval human decay theory.
2 has been well known for quite some time. Similarities in the synoptic texts indicate a source document from which these documents took some material. This theoretical document is often refered to as Q.
3 is the correct answer. Anyone who is actually a teacher would have no doubt of this.
4 Divine guidance does far more than just insure accuracy. Divine guidance would even use errors to His own purpose. I certainly believe that the real writer of the Bible is God Himself and the human authors were just His instruments just as was the history itself that they were reporting.



This isn't really a matter of medieval decay. There are lots of examples of this now. Cultures which stress memorization and oral passage of information tend to be better at it. Cultures that stress literacy don't generally have the same type of requirement for memorization, which is a learned skill.

We can see this even in the West in the last few generations. My grandmother, for example, was expected to o a lot of memorization in school, and she can still quote whole great passages of Shakespeare. Now kids aren't even expected to memorize multiplication tables. So they have less skill at memorization. It's just a matter of use it (your brain) or lose it.
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Re: The sayings of Jesus and the dating of the Gospels

Postby Karen » 07 Feb 2009, 15:03

Bluegoat wrote:My grandmother, for example, was expected to o a lot of memorization in school, and she can still quote whole great passages of Shakespeare.


You're making me feel old - and I'm only middle-aged. :smile: I too was expected to memorize a lot in school, particularly poetry. We even had a poetry recitation contest every year in high school, and in a college Chaucer course we had to memorize the beginning of The Canterbury Tales in Middle English (something, I'm happy to say, which students taking the course today still have to do.)

Now kids aren't even expected to memorize multiplication tables. So they have less skill at memorization. It's just a matter of use it (your brain) or lose it.


Exactly.
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Re: The sayings of Jesus and the dating of the Gospels

Postby mitchellmckain » 08 Feb 2009, 09:05

Bluegoat wrote:Cultures which stress memorization and oral passage of information tend to be better at it. Cultures that stress literacy don't generally have the same type of requirement for memorization, which is a learned skill.

Well yes of course. But this has NOTHING to do with any superior memory of the ancients. It is not everyone in the past who remembered the contents of oral traditions any more that it is everyone who learns to exercise and use their memories today. It is precisely my declaration that there IS no difference in the ancients. I would in fact wager that more people remember far more things in this era than in any other.

Bluegoat wrote:We can see this even in the West in the last few generations. My grandmother, for example, was expected to o a lot of memorization in school, and she can still quote whole great passages of Shakespeare. Now kids aren't even expected to memorize multiplication tables. So they have less skill at memorization. It's just a matter of use it (your brain) or lose it.

Now they the remember vast quantities of things about books, movies and games. As someone who works in computer programming, I know full well the enormous quanties of facts that is remembered by the programmer in order to do what he does. Your romanticizing of the past is sweet but quaint.
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Re: The sayings of Jesus and the dating of the Gospels

Postby Karen » 08 Feb 2009, 13:55

There's a difference between remembering discrete facts and being able to recite long paragraphs of prose. One isn't necessarily better, or proof of more intelligence than the other, but it's true that in previous generations children were trained to do the latter, and now they're not. For those who lived before the printing press - and yes, it was only a small fraction of the populace who became the storytellers - that ability was even more pronounced. It's not romanticizing, it's simply a different way of learning and passing on information.
I have always imagined that paradise will be a kind of library. -- Jorge Luis Borges
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Re: The sayings of Jesus and the dating of the Gospels

Postby Bluegoat » 09 Feb 2009, 00:05

Karen wrote:There's a difference between remembering discrete facts and being able to recite long paragraphs of prose. One isn't necessarily better, or proof of more intelligence than the other, but it's true that in previous generations children were trained to do the latter, and now they're not. For those who lived before the printing press - and yes, it was only a small fraction of the populace who became the storytellers - that ability was even more pronounced. It's not romanticizing, it's simply a different way of learning and passing on information.


I seem to remember that somewhere, in the Middle East maybe, young men or boys are required to memorize the Iliad? I can't remember the details of this.

I can't see how it is romantic to say practicing a skill improves it, especially from a young age. The longbow would be an especially good example in another area.
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