Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Jon Curry's Treatment Of Eusebius

After being corrected repeatedly, by more than one person, Jon Curry has continued to misrepresent Eusebius. He's ignored much of what I've said in response to him in another thread, he ignored the passages I cited in which Eusebius condemns lying, and he repeated his arguments that I had already responded to in the other thread. He summarizes his argument about the "main" passage in Eusebius as follows:

"So it's not simply the case of saying anthropomorphisms are OK. He's saying that Plato's view that it is good to lie for the sake of the state is justified by the example of anthropomorphisms in Scripture, and further that Scripture is the source of Plato's belief. This is a defense of a general principle, not a defense of a single instance of falsehood such as an anthropomorphism."

Since Jon wants to ignore much of what I've already said in response to his argument, let's ignore those points I've made for a moment. Is there any good reason for Jon to use this argument to begin with, even if he wasn't aware of the points I made in response to him?

Here's the passage of Eusebius that's in dispute. I'm going to use E.H. Gifford's translation here rather than Richard Carrier's translation. Anybody interested in reading about the problems with Carrier's rendering and the arguments he draws from it can consult Roger Pearse's article here. Here's what Eusebius wrote, beginning with a quote from Plato and Plato's dialogue partner, Clinias:

"[Plato:] 'But even if the case were not such as our argument has now proved it to be, if a lawgiver, who is to be of ever so little use, could have ventured to tell any falsehood at all to the young for their good, is there any falsehood that he could have told more beneficial than this, and better able to make them all do everything that is just, not by compulsion but willingly? [Clinias:] 'Truth, O Stranger, is a noble and an enduring thing; it seems, however, not easy to persuade men of it.' [Eusebius:] Now you may find in the Hebrew Scriptures also thousands of such passages concerning God as though He were jealous, or sleeping, or angry, or subject to any other human passions, which passages are adopted for the benefit of those who need this mode of instruction." (The Preparation Of The Gospel, 12:31)

In his article, Roger Pearse discusses how the term rendered "falsehood" can also be rendered as "fiction" and why it ought to be so rendered. But whatever Plato had in mind, Eusebius goes on to quote Clinias' response, then further qualifies the discussion with his own examples, which are all anthropomorphisms. He's addressing the use of figures of speech. And the Old Testament itself explains that God isn't a human, that He doesn't sleep, etc., so these anthropomorphisms can't be considered "lies" by the common understanding of that term.

How much did Eusebius agree with Plato? Here's what he tells us:

"You may judge that not without sound reason have we given a secondary place to the doctrines of the Greek philosophy, and preferred the theology of the Hebrews, when you learn that even among the Greeks themselves those who have most of all treated philosophy correctly, and thought out something more and better than the vulgar talk about the gods, have discovered no other true doctrines than those which had received a previous sanction among the Hebrews. For some of them, being carried away hither and thither by various false opinions, were driven about into an abyss of idle prating; while others, who have in some degree employed candid reasoning, have shown themselves partakers in the teaching of the Hebrews in those points wherein they attained to the conception of the truth....Moreover in the same Book we learned by the comparison of dates that they [the Greeks] were very young in age as well as in wisdom, and fell very far short of the ancient literature of the Hebrews. Such were the contents of the preceding Book: but in this present one we hasten on at once to pay as it were a debt, I mean the promise which was given, and to exhibit the agreement of the Greek philosophers with the Hebrew Oracles in some if not in all their doctrinal theories. Dismissing therefore those of whom it is superfluous to speak, we call up the leader of the whole band, deeming it right to adopt as umpire of the question Plato alone as equivalent to all: since it is likely that as he surpassed all in reputation he will be sufficient by himself for the settlement of our question....Let me, however, make this reservation, that not every matter has been successfully stated by the master [Plato], although he has expressed most things in accordance with truth. And this very point also we shall prove at the proper season, not in order to disparage him, but in defence of the reason for which we confess that we have welcomed the Barbarian philosophy in preference to the Greek....THE oracles of the Hebrews containing prophecies and responses of a divine power beyond that of man, and claiming God as their author, and confirming their promise by the prediction of things to come, and by the results corresponding to the prophecies, are said to be free from all erroneous thought. For instance, 'the words of God are declared to be pure words, and silver tried in the fire, tested by earth, purified seven times.' But not such are the words of Plato, nor yet of any other of the wise among men, who with the eyes of mortal thought and with feeble guesses and comparisons, as in a dream, and not awake, attained to a notion of the nature of all things, but superadded to the truth of nature a large admixture of falsehood, so that one can find in them no learning free from error....However, for these reasons we must abandon this philosopher, as having through fear of death played false with the Athenian democracy: but must honour Moses, and the Hebrew oracles, as everywhere shining out from the one true religion that is free from error." (10:4, 11:1, 13:14)

Eusebius doesn't agree with Plato on all points, but he thinks that he was right about many things. Even where he agrees with Plato, the agreement is general, not an agreement in every detail. The passage Jon Curry has cited is in a section in which Eusebius is discussing agreements with Plato, but even there Eusebius would warn us that "one can find in them no learning free from error" (The Preparation Of The Gospel, 13:14). The extent to which Eusebius accepts Plato's words has to be judged case-by-case. In the passage that's in dispute, Eusebius qualifies Plato's comments by quoting Clinias' response to Plato, then he cites a series of anthropomorphisms from the Old Testament. Richard Carrier and Jon Curry are assuming that Eusebius was approving of "lying for the state", but Eusebius says no such thing. Roger Pearse discusses some other problems with Carrier's argument in the article linked above.

Think of the implausibility of Jon Curry's argument. You have to think that Eusebius would publicly advocate lying, which seems unlikely. Then you have to assume that he'd be willing to attribute lying to scripture, which is unlikely also. Then you have to disregard the factors involving translation and interpretation that Roger Pearse discusses (some of which I told Jon about, so he can't claim to be ignorant of all of them, even if he hasn't read Pearse's article). Then you have to disregard the passages in Eusebius, including in the same work Jon has cited, in which he condemns lying. In other words, as Roger Pearse puts it:

"I think Eusebius is not advocating dishonesty, so much as suggesting that fiction has a role to play in education....So is Eusebius really saying that the Bible is full of lies, and that this is one of the things the Greeks copied from the Jews? I find it hard to believe that Eusebius thought the bible was full of lies. Surely such a curious proposition would certainly require more evidence than one footnote in the PE, anyway. That the bible contains stories, such as parables, intended to educate is surely a better interpretation?? To resolve this, we need to see what Eusebius says elsewhere....The idea presumes not just that Eusebius believes the bible is full of lies, but that if the bible is full of lies, it must be OK to lie; and that Eusebius has applied this in his writings. The purpose of the allegation seems to be to permit some of his testimony to be discarded. The first idea seems very strange, and the others are simply inferences from it. But no evidence is given for any of these....The heading must be read 'fiction', because the subject is the Old Testament: portions of which cannot be understood literally, in Origenist exegesis....The alternative -- that Eusebius advocates lying -- is not in the text and can only be put there by the translating with 'a judicious laxity' of Gibbon (T.R.Glover, Loeb Tertullian, p.xi). The words of Eusebius have to be played down, and words not quoted by him from the passage by Plato emphasised. In short, the allegation is itself a malicious falsehood."

In other words, the problem is with Jon Curry, not Eusebius.

27 comments:

  1. Nope, he lied Jason. Liar, liar, Eusebius' pants (er, toga?) are on fire! He lied, therefore Christianity is a sham. Now my conscience is cleared of all guilt, because Christianity is not true and I don't have to worry about being judged for my sins. Whew!

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  2. It's amazing to me to watch as you continue to post new threads about my dishonesty, yet you continue to ignore the points I raise. You argue for things not in dispute with long citations, hoping people will not notice that you just aren't interacting with me.

    You start by saying that my quote from Carrier has problems. I don't see much of a difference. You prefer Gibbon? Fine. You quote part of it but you omit the heading. Let's provide that (from Gibbon).

    That it will be necessary sometimes to use falsehood as a remedy for the benefit of those who require such a mode of treatment

    You again confuse a possible explanation with a proof that I'm wrong. Pearse offers as a possibility that "falsehood" could be "fiction." This doesn't prove me wrong. You say he argues for it as more than a possibility, but you're wrong. Here's what he says:

    Consequently, unless the context forbids -- and plainly from BURY we learn it does not -- the chapter heading might equally be rendered:

    His interpretation is not forbidden so it might be possible to use the word fiction. I couldn't say. But I'm not going to talk about how you've been corrected multiple times simply because the text doesn't forbid me from translating it as lie.

    But what is more interesting to me is a response to the argument I provided from Richard Carrier. He talked about Eusebius purposes and how those show all the more how these statements are damning. You say Pearse replies, but you won't show us where. Instead you talk about how Eusebius doesn't agree with Plato on everything as if that had anything to do with the discussion. You keep saying I'm "corrected" but you really aren't providing the correction.

    You're also now repeating my argument as if it is yours. I'm the one that pointed out that you shouldn't expect an overt admission of "Lying is great, fraud is great" from Eusebius if in fact he is dishonest. You would expect something like what you see; a suggestion that little white lies aren't so bad. He might say that maybe even some statement in Scripture could be so interpreted. Elsewhere we see him talking about how he will only record what makes Christians look good to future readers. This is the type of thing we expect to see and the type of thing we do see.

    So respond to the argument from Carrier. Stop with this "I've answered you elsewhere, Pearse responds to it somewhere." Put it down right here. Like I said, when I provided you a link on Jesus as myth and told you precisely where to look within the link (the parallels to Horus, an easy to read bulleted section) you couldn't be bothered, so I don't know why you expect me to search multiple websites to find a supposed response to an argument. If it's there I'll be happy to consider it, but having asked for it three times and still not gotten an answer I'm thinking I really do have my answer. "The answer is somewhere else."

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  3. The trouble with 'Jesus is a myth,' my dear Curry, is that it's a novel idea. I'd need that proved beyond all reasonable doubt.

    I don't go around saying 'Mohammed was a myth', for example. Nor 'Socrates was a myth'. That's because it would get silly after a while.

    As for Eusebius, whether or not he thought it was right to tell lies, and the context (that of a passage on anthropomorphisms) seems to suggest that he wasn't suggesting all lying was all right.

    Besides, what does Eusebius have to do with writing the Gospels? John A. T. Robinson, liberal Bishop of Woolwich argued that the Gospels were probably complete before AD 70, which does not appear in the scriptures. Even the 'Olivet Discourse' does not refer directly to the events of AD 70. For example, by the time that the Roman Standards that might have been called 'the abomination of desolation' stood in the Temple, it was too late to flee to the hills...

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  4. Jon Curry: "It's amazing to me to watch as you continue to post new threads about my dishonesty, yet you continue to ignore the points I raise. You argue for things not in dispute with long citations, hoping people will not notice that you just aren't interacting with me."

    Welcome to Triablogue, Jon. This is common practice here.

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  5. Jon Curry writes:

    "You start by saying that my quote from Carrier has problems. I don't see much of a difference. You prefer Gibbon? Fine."

    The translation I quoted was by E.H. Gifford. Edward Gibbon was an eighteenth century historian. And I explained to you why Carrier's rendering of the passage is problematic. If you don't remember what I said and don't want to consult my earlier posts or Roger Pearse's article for more details, that's your problem, not mine.

    You write:

    "You quote part of it but you omit the heading."

    As I told you before, and as Pearse explains in his article, we don't know that Eusebius wrote the headings. You can't complain that this issue is only mentioned in Pearse's article, and that I should tell you what's in the article rather than expecting you to read it, since I did tell you about this issue. And how difficult would it be for you to read Pearse's article or at least do a search with Ctrl F to read about an issue like the chapter headings? As Pearse explains, and as I told you repeatedly, not only do we not know that Eusebius wrote the chapter titles, but the phrase in dispute in the chapter title is the one that can be rendered as "fiction". Pearse gives examples of the term in question being translated as "fiction". It's so translated by E.H. Gifford, R.G. Bury, and Desmond Lee. We don't know that Eusebius wrote the chapter heading, and even if he did, the term doesn't have to mean "lie", which is the translation Richard Carrier used.

    You write:

    "Pearse offers as a possibility that 'falsehood' could be 'fiction.' This doesn't prove me wrong. You say he argues for it as more than a possibility, but you're wrong....His interpretation is not forbidden so it might be possible to use the word fiction."

    I've already corrected you on this issue. Pearse doesn't just say that the "fiction" rendering is possible. You quoted part of what he said, but didn't go on to quote what else he said, and the remainder of what he says produces a significantly different result. Pearse says that the "fiction" rendering is "better", "must" be used, etc., and he comments that the alternative has "very strange" implications that present us with "a malicious falsehood". Here's part of what he wrote:

    "The heading must be read 'fiction', because the subject is the Old Testament: portions of which cannot be understood literally, in Origenist exegesis."

    He isn't just saying that the "fiction" rendering is possible. He's saying that it's probable. This is the second time I've corrected you on this issue.

    You write:

    "But what is more interesting to me is a response to the argument I provided from Richard Carrier. He talked about Eusebius purposes and how those show all the more how these statements are damning. You say Pearse replies, but you won't show us where. Instead you talk about how Eusebius doesn't agree with Plato on everything as if that had anything to do with the discussion. You keep saying I'm 'corrected' but you really aren't providing the correction."

    Again, I've already addressed that issue. I quoted Eusebius' comments on Plato from books 10, 11, and 13 of the work in question. I explained that Eusebius refers to how he only partially agrees with Plato and how he commented that "one can find in them [the Greek philosophers] no learning free from error" (The Preparation Of The Gospel, 13:14). Eusebius can partially agree with Plato and partially disagree with him at the same time. Even if Plato would advocate lying, Eusebius could compare that lying to something like the use of anthropomorphisms in scripture without thereby intending to suggest that scripture lies or that it's acceptable for him or other Christians to lie. In other words, he could cite a general parallel with Plato's theme without intending something identical.

    Furthermore, as I've explained to you before, Eusebius doesn't just quote Plato's character speaking. He goes on to quote Plato's dialogue partner, Clinias, then Eusebius makes his own comments. Clinias comments on how it's sometimes difficult to persuade people of the truth. If Eusebius' focus is on Clinias' response (or a combination between the two), then he could just be commenting on the fact that scripture sometimes adapts itself to the reader in some manner in order to teach truths that are difficult. He wouldn't be thereby agreeing with Plato that lying is acceptable.

    But does Plato refer to lying in the passage Eusebius quotes? Pearse quotes R.G. Bury's translation, which uses the term "fiction". Whatever rendering we use for Plato's words, those words are followed by the comments of Clinias, and every example Eusebius cites is an anthropomorphism, not a lie. Your assumption that Eusebius meant to include lies is speculative and highly unlikely given the surrounding context. The fact that Eusebius cites anthropomorphisms, which isn't what Plato was discussing, demonstrates that he wasn't attempting a specific parallel with Plato. And, as I've documented, Eusebius repeatedly condemns lying, including in the work we're discussing. He also refers to how God doesn't lie, how scripture contains no errors, etc. Your interpretation of the passage we're discussing is speculative, unlikely in principle, and contradicts what Eusebius repeatedly says elsewhere.

    You write:

    "Elsewhere we see him talking about how he will only record what makes Christians look good to future readers."

    What he said is that in an account he was giving of a recent persecution, he would focus on the Christians who were faithful. He does mention the unfaithful Christians and discusses some of the details surrounding their unfaithfulness, but he doesn't want to focus on them. That is not equivalent to lying.

    As I told you in another thread, many articles and books have been written about people who did commendable things in the events surrounding September 11, 2001. Often, the articles and books will be written with a focus on what firemen, policemen, or other people did that was commendable. There were other people who didn't act so commendably (people who stole items from the sites of the terrorist attacks, for example), but many articles, books, television programs, etc. will either not mention such people at all or won't give them much attention. Do we conclude that the people producing such accounts are therefore lying? No. It would be similarly absurd to accuse Eusebius of advocating lying.

    You write:

    "Like I said, when I provided you a link on Jesus as myth and told you precisely where to look within the link (the parallels to Horus, an easy to read bulleted section) you couldn't be bothered, so I don't know why you expect me to search multiple websites to find a supposed response to an argument."

    You didn't mention a bulleted section. You just mentioned Horus. As I explained to you then, and as I explained to you again recently, the incident you're referring to took place after you had recently misused other Wikipedia articles, and the article in question had a warning at the top saying that the material in it is disputed. Since I was already familiar with the problematic nature of arguments for parallels to pagan mythology, since you didn't tell me which specific parallels you considered convincing, since you had a record of misusing Wikipedia, and since this Wikipedia article had a warning about its own content, I told you that I wouldn't take the time to go through it. You never gave me more detailed information about which alleged parallels to Jesus you found convincing. The situation with that article isn't comparable to the current situation with Roger Pearse's article. Even when I tell you about some of the details in his article, you continue to ignore them.

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  6. OK, first things first. You've asserted that Pearse replies to the argument I cited from Carrier. But rather than direct us to his words you've offered your own argument against Carrier. Why not just cut and paste Pearse's reply? Does Pearse have a reply to the argument I posted from Carrier or doesn't he? You said he does and I would like to see it.

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  7. hostus twinkius10/03/2006 9:30 PM

    Boy, that's funny Ted. I don't recall you ever offering an argument here beyond *YAWN*. I think that's your best one, to my recollection anyway...

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  8. Jon,

    Just read the article and stop with the sophistry, you're making yourself look foolish...

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  9. Jon Curry writes:

    "You've asserted that Pearse replies to the argument I cited from Carrier. But rather than direct us to his words you've offered your own argument against Carrier. Why not just cut and paste Pearse's reply?"

    If Carrier's argument has been answered, then whether I answered it, Roger Pearse answered it, or both of us did doesn't have much significance. And I did give you examples of Pearse addressing Carrier's argument, repeatedly. Carrier uses the chapter headings in his argument, and Pearse addresses the issue of whether Eusebius wrote those headings. Carrier uses the "lie" translation in his argument, and Pearse addresses whether "lie" is the best rendering. Carrier assumes that Eusebius was responding to Plato's character, and Pearse discusses Clinias' role in the dialogue. Carrier assumes a high degree of parallel between Plato's example of falsehood (or lie, fiction, etc.), and Pearse explains, as I have, that there could be a low degree of parallel instead, a more general parallel.

    Your case has become so obviously weak that you've revised your argument to:

    "I'm the one that pointed out that you shouldn't expect an overt admission of 'Lying is great, fraud is great' from Eusebius if in fact he is dishonest. You would expect something like what you see; a suggestion that little white lies aren't so bad. He might say that maybe even some statement in Scripture could be so interpreted."

    Yet, you've used Richard Carrier's translation to argue that Eusebius wrote a chapter heading that uses the word "falsehood" in the sense of lie. Carrier's rendering also uses "lie" in Plato's comments twice, and you've argued for a high degree of parallel between Plato's view and that of Eusebius. If the term "lie" is repeatedly used, then how is that not "overt"? And where does Eusebius add any "little white" qualifier? Where does Richard Carrier add it? To the contrary, here's what Carrier wrote, which you quoted approvingly in a recent thread (http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2006/10/eusebius-and-lying.html):

    "So in a book where Eusebius is proving that the pagans got all their good ideas from the Jews, he lists as one of those good ideas Plato's argument that lying, indeed telling completely false tales, for the benefit of the state is good and even necessary. Eusebius then notes quite casually how the Hebrews did this, telling lies about their God, and he even compares such lies with medicine, a healthy and even necessary thing. Someone who can accept this as a 'good idea' worth both taking credit for and following is not the sort of person to be trusted."

    Instead of using a qualifier like "little white", Carrier does just the opposite. He uses the phrase "indeed telling completely false tales". Then Carrier claims that Eusebius refers to how the Hebrews "told lies about their God", which, of course, isn't what Eusebius said.

    You can't say that your "little white" qualifier comes from the anthropomorphism examples Eusebius uses, since anthropomorphisms aren't even "little white lies". If I say that it's "raining cats and dogs" outside, you could say that my comment is "falsehood" or "fiction" in some sense, but it isn't a lie as "lie" is commonly defined.

    The readers should notice that Jon has now posted a few replies to me on this subject, and there are many points I've made that he hasn't even attempted to answer. I quoted multiple passages in which Eusebius condemns lying, including in the work under discussion, and Jon has repeatedly ignored those passages. And, to anticipate a possible response from Jon, it would make no sense to argue that Eusebius made those comments to give an appearance of being concerned for honesty while advocating dishonesty elsewhere. If the alleged advocacy of dishonesty in other places comes in the same public document and uses explicit words like "lie", then Eusebius isn't doing much to hide his advocacy of lying. You don't put something in a public document, using the sort of language Richard Carrier uses in his translation, if you're trying to hide it from people. And, according to you, Jon, Eusebius did it in more than one public document. As I said before, your interpretation of Eusebius is not only speculative and unlikely in principle, but also is contradictory to what Eusebius repeatedly says elsewhere, including in the same work.

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  10. Listen Jason, just call me on the phone and we can clear this up. I much prefer that to writing pages and pages of documentation which I won't read and will only make my assertions laughable and incoherent. So, I'll be waiting for you to call (I have my cell with me right now) and we can discuss that liar Eusebius, the deceiver of the early church...thanks, buddy

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  11. If Carrier's argument has been answered, then whether I answered it, Roger Pearse answered it, or both of us did doesn't have much significance.

    Well, I think it does. You specifically said that Pearse replies to this very argument from Carrier, and you chide me for not combing through those websites to find the argument. Here is what you said in response to me after I posted the particular argument from Carrier I'm referring to.

    Jon-He's certainly talking about figures of speech, but that's not all he's talking about. Here is some relevant information from Carrier.

    Jason-Carrier's claims are addressed by Roger Pearse in the material I linked to. You need to interact with what Pearse has documented rather than repeating what Richard Carrier said.


    http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2006/09/healthy-and-unhealthy-skepticism.html

    You are quoting my reference to Carrier's argument. You say the argument is replied to by Pearse and I have an obligation to reply to it before making such statements. I don't see it. So I ask you for it. You repeatedly refuse to offer it. Yet you repeatedly suggest that it's in there. I'm supposed to continue to forage through your websites to find this supposed argument and now you admit it's not there, but this "doesn't have much significance."

    So you send me on a wild goose chase to find an argument that isn't there and supposedly I'm guilty of "misusing" websites like Wikipedia? How have I misused Wikipedia? Did you not like the claims I made that were backed up with Wikipedia? Do you not like it that Wikipedia has that Papias is not an eyewitness to the apostles or that Wikipedia has that Polycarp's may not have known the apostle John? Is this "misuse" in your mind? Does this justify in your mind sending me rummaging through a website looking for information that isn't even there?

    Now, what of your argument against Carrier. You aren't denying that Eusebius purposes are to show that the Greeks got all their good ideas from Scripture. You aren't denying that Eusebius singles out Plato's idea that offering "fictitious" tales for the good of the state is a good thing. You aren't denying that he justifies these fictions/falsehoods/lies whatever you want to call them with Scripture. You hang your hat on the fact that since Eusebius didn't agree with Plato on everything, this must mean that he really doesn't agree with Plato in the sense that Plato means it, even though he is singling out this particular idea from Plato as if it was good. If that's the way you want to argue, I say knock yourself out. Spoken like a person that doesn't see problems in Mt 24, Mt 16, or contradictions in the resurrection narratives. I see no need to reply as this is an argument that would only persuade a Mormon, Catholic, or Protestant apologist.

    Speaking of which, for all the mental gymnastics you engage in on these texts I still haven't seen an explanation from you on Mary Magdelene. What gives? I keep bringing it up, yet nobody bites? What do you got for me on that? To refresh your memory, Matthew has that Mary M meets Jesus and clasps his feet as she runs from the tomb to tell the disciples, but John has that when she shows up to tell the disciples she says "They've taken my Lord and I don't know where they've laid him. They've stolen the body." Which is it?

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  12. hostus twinkius10/04/2006 1:03 PM

    All right now class, above we have the typical response from Jon Curry. Let's break it down to it's bare elements shall we?

    Weak point #1 stated

    Complaint #1 stated

    Denial that his assertions have ever been refuted by the opponent

    Complaint #2 stated

    Defense of spurious and questionable documentation used to justify weak point #1

    Whining and Blathering

    And finally, change the subject in closing

    Well, that should about do it. There will be a quiz next week, so look over your notes....

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  13. Jon Curry said:

    "You specifically said that Pearse replies to this very argument from Carrier, and you chide me for not combing through those websites to find the argument."

    No, I gave you examples of Pearse's evidence, sometimes quoting him, and I added some evidence of my own. Most of what I presented, whether from Pearse or from myself, you ignored. I've repeatedly told you about alternate renderings of the term Carrier translated as "lie". I've repeatedly told you about the fact that we don't know whether Eusebius wrote the chapter headings. I've repeatedly told you about the significance of the fact that Eusebius went on to quote Clinias, not just Plato's character. I've repeatedly referred to or quoted Eusebius' comments about how he only partially agrees with Plato. I've repeatedly mentioned that the examples Eusebius gives are all non-lies (anthropomorphisms). I've repeatedly explained that Eusebius' citation of anthropomorphisms demonstrates that he was only making a low parallel, not attempting to show a high parallel between what scripture does and what Plato did. I've repeatedly explained that it's unlikely that a Christian would argue that the Bible lies. I've repeatedly told you about and quoted Eusebius' comments about how lying is unacceptable, how God doesn't lie, and how scripture has no errors. Given the fact that I've repeatedly presented this information to you, how can you keep claiming that I've expected you to "comb through those websites to find the argument"? It would be good if you'd read the article, but even without reading it you've had much more to interact with than you've chosen to interact with. You've given us more reason to question your honesty than to question Eusebius' honesty.

    You write:

    "I'm supposed to continue to forage through your websites to find this supposed argument and now you admit it's not there, but this 'doesn't have much significance.'"

    Where did I "admit it's not there"? I didn't. To the contrary, I repeatedly cited Pearse's arguments and sometimes quoted them.

    Rather than "admitting it's not there", here's what I said:

    "If Carrier's argument has been answered, then whether I answered it, Roger Pearse answered it, or both of us did doesn't have much significance."

    Saying that the source of the refutation isn't of much significance is not equivalent to saying that there is no refutation in Pearse's article. Here we have another example of your carelessness. Here's what I went on to say in the next sentence:

    "And I did give you examples of Pearse addressing Carrier's argument, repeatedly."

    So, what you've done is misrepresent something I've said, and the misrepresentation is contradicted by the next sentence I wrote.

    You write:

    "You aren't denying that Eusebius purposes are to show that the Greeks got all their good ideas from Scripture."

    Again, you need to demonstrate what the "good idea" is in the chapter you cited. As I explained before, if Eusebius is saying that the good idea is the use of fiction to teach difficult truths, then no lying needs to be involved. He goes on to give a few examples, and all of them are anthropomorphisms. If he had lies in mind, then why did he give a few examples without including any lies among them?

    You write:

    "You aren't denying that he justifies these fictions/falsehoods/lies whatever you want to call them with Scripture."

    You're assuming something you need to prove. You're assuming that Eusebius is attempting to "justify" what Plato wrote. That isn't his objective. Rather, he's attempting to show a connection between something in Hebrew thought and something in Plato's thought. As I documented, Eusebius thought that Plato added some errors to the good ideas that can be found among the ancient Hebrews. All that the chapter you've cited requires is that there be some connection between ancient Hebrew thought and the concepts Plato's character and Clinias are discussing. Your assertion that lying would have to be involved in order for there to be any connection is dubious. Eusebius gives a few examples of what he has in mind, and none of the examples are lies, and he repeatedly condemns lying, says that God cannot lie, and refers to scripture as entirely true elsewhere, including in the same work you've cited.

    You write:

    "Spoken like a person that doesn't see problems in Mt 24, Mt 16, or contradictions in the resurrection narratives."

    During our discussions on Greg Krehbiel's board last year, you repeatedly left threads without replying to what I had posted. You can't claim that it was because you didn't have time to post, because you left some of the threads long before you left the forum, and you continued posting a lot of material in other threads afterward. For example, I documented Paul's belief in a physical resurrection long before you left the forum, yet you never responded. You also left discussions on the relationship between Luke and Josephus, Biblical prophecy, and other subjects. You were gone for several months, then you called James White's webcast earlier this year and began posting online in some other forums, including here. In this forum, you've left a large number of threads, including ones in which I refuted your claims about Matthew 16 and Matthew 24. You often claim that you don't have time to respond, but then you go on to post in other threads, even threads where nobody mentioned you. Now that this thread about Eusebius' alleged dishonesty hasn't gone the way you wanted it to go, and has done more to illustrate your dishonesty than that of Eusebius, you want to discuss Mary Magdalene's role in the resurrection narratives. Why don't you finish the large number of previous threads you've left first?

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  14. Actually, Jason, the reason I discontinue conversations is varied. Usually it's that you are misrepresenting me, missing the point, and I cycle through repeating what I've already said a couple of times and then just give up. Take your recent post as an example.

    I've been focusing on a particular argument from Carrier in response to you. Initially you wouldn't respond and simply said Pearse replies and I need to look at that. When I say it isn't there you act like it is by pointing to other statements Pearse has made. I don't deny that Pearse disputed the translations of Carrier (and Gifford) regarding lie/falsehood/fiction. I don't deny that he responded to other things. But I've been focusing on a particular argument. So let's make this simple. I'm looking for yes or no type answers here.

    1-Did you or did you not tell me that Pearse replies to the particular argument I've been focusing on from Carrier.

    If no, then explain the citation I provided last time which indicates that the answer should be yes.

    2-Does Pearse in fact respond to that particular argument from Carrier. If so, please post his words.

    Now, as far as this argument is concerned, I'm getting nothing further out of this discussion, so I see no point in continuing. I understand your reply. I just don't find it persuasive. This is your argument. You can tell me if I have it wrong.

    1-You say that Eusebius may not be responsible for the heading.
    2-You say that "lie" is better translated "fiction." I deny this and say that it may be translated "fiction."
    3-You say that Eusebius isn't saying Plato's idea is good, but merely saying that in some cases it is necessary to use fiction to teach certain truths. I say that your explanation does not make sense in light of Carrier and Gifford's point that Eusebius is here singling out those ideas of Plato's that he thinks are good and he's arguing that those ideas of Plato's that are good have their precedence in Scripture. If he were attempting to justify the use of fiction in Scripture your explanation would start to make sense, but he's not doing that. He's justifying Plato's beliefs with Scripture.
    4-You reply to that point by saying he's not justifying Plato's beliefs, but merely establishing a general connection between the two. I respond that as per Carrier and Gifford the connection between Scripture and Plato has a specific purpose. That purpose is to show that Plato's good ideas have their precedence in Scripture. So I don't see why we should accept your claim.
    5-You say that Eusebius' statements about only recording that which makes Christians look good is not a problem, is about being selective, and is not equivalent to lying. I agree that it is not equivalent to lying, but reveals his mindset and given that we wouldn't expect an out and out admission of lying from a dishonest person, this is as close as you're going to get to identifying an admission of dishonesty.

    So I think I understand your argument and you probably understand mine. You're not persuaded by my arguments and I'm not persuaded by yours. But you'll repeat the same arguments you've already made in response to this, saying the same thing you've already said, but with different words, and when I don't again repeat the refutation from before you'll say I "left the discussion."

    So with regards to me and "leaving discussions." I leave discussions because the same ground is being covered over and over, you ignore what I say and I'm left simply repeating what I've said before, as I'm doing here. Like for instance your question about whether I think my wife is a torturer since she's a Christian because I point out that Cyril as a Christian was a torturer. The gross misrepresentations get to the point for me where I just don't believe that further efforts help either you or me. Even when I point this out you respond with nonsense, which further shows me that the effort is not worth it. "But you didn't answer the question, so I wasn't able to get to the point. I really need to know if you think your wife is a torturer before I can get to the point." OK, then Jason. I don't think my wife is a torturer, nor would I claim that other Christians were torturers unless I had a reason to. What is your point?

    This is the type of thing that wouldn't happen over the phone. If you ignored my point about how you said that Pearse replied to the particular argument from Carrier, I'd stop you mid sentence and make you face the real issue. I can't do that here and you can post paragraph after paragraph that misses the point. It is my belief that this is your preference.

    So I think this horse is dead. Your posts are long and I've been trying to get you to focus just a couple of things, so this has caused me to ignore other points you've made, but maybe we could talk about those now. For instance, show me my "misuse" of Wikipedia, and how this justifies you ignoring citations I provide for you from there and also requires me to look through multiple websites of yours for arguments that aren't there. Or explain to me the point of your question about my wife as a torturer. We could talk about Paul's view of whether resurrection was physical if you like. That was the single thread where I did leave arguments from you unresponded to. I'm definitely interested in someone giving an answer to the Mary Magdelene problem. That's a big matzo ball hanging out there. Because it looks like the Bible is in error, and if it is, that's a big deal.

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  15. Jon,

    After having read everything posted here I believe Jason has addressed your points, so I'm at a loss when you insist he hasn't. He may not have addressed them to your satisfaction, but you seem determined to hold onto argumentation proposed by an unbeliever that is weak and implausible in my view. You prefer Carrier's argument because it buttresses your already held position. We all do this to some degree, but don't pretend objectivity....

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  16. S&BL,

    Jason did respond to me, but I responded back, and when he further replies I don't think he really engages what I said. Notice the 5 points I used to summarize his arguments and my rebuttals. In every case my rebuttal is nothing I haven't said before. It's all contained in my prior replies. This means that we're just covering the same ground over and over and I will not continue this indefinitely, though he will. He is dodging.

    Notice his long paragraph of points he's made that Pearse argued. None of them were actually about the single particular argument from Carrier that I was referring to. So Jason writes long sentences that avoid the issue, and I think this is part of the technique. He talks about other refutations of Carrier's claims in hopes that people won't recognize that he was wrong to say that the specific argument from Carrier that I'm referring to was rebutted by Pierce. This is the central argument I'm making with regards to this quote from Eusebius. This is the lynchpin. Yet with regards to this argument he started with a dodge, saying that it was rebutted by Pierce when it wasn't, and now when called on it continues to dodge and talk about other arguments Carrier made that were rebutted by Pearse. This repeated dodging occurs not just when he's caught in an error (which he should just admit and we can proceed to discuss the arguments pro and con), but also with regards to the positive arguments I make. He talks around the issue and my time is spent re-explaining my point. Like I said, I won't do this indefinitely.

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  17. But Jon, you are accepting an argument that's conclusion is highly unlikely and I think implausible. Eusebius is a Christian, God forbids lying as He is a God of truth and condemns unrepentant liars to hell. Is it plausible that Eusebius is advocating the promotion of falsehood while professing to love and serve the God of truth? The God he knows punishes the sin of bearing false witness? If there is some question as to the correct translation of the word in question, as to whether it should be "lie" or "fiction", don't you think the consistent conclusion given all that you know about the religious context is that the accurate translation here is "fiction"? I think even the truly objective reader (if there could be one) would see this....

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  18. My argument does not stand or fall on the particular translation for pseudo. You'll notice I haven't focused my argument on this point. I've said that even translated as "fiction" the facts about his purposes remain, and this is the key to understanding the passage.

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  19. So Eusebius' purpose was to deceive? He's a deceiver, there is no other valid conclusion?

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  20. One other point. I'm not so sure all Christians would conclude that lying to further the cause of Christianity is wrong. Suppose there is a heaven and hell and Christianity is true. Suppose if I tell a lie I can get a person to believe the right thing and get to heaven. Should I? Or should I just let them continue to believe what they believe and go to hell. If I'm burning in hell but I could have been saved had someone lied to me, I'm going to wish they had lied to me. I can certainly see the logic to it.

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  21. Jon, sinners need to be told the truth in order to be saved. You don't lie someone into heaven. The gospel is spread by preaching the truth about God, about sin, and about Jesus Christ. Our responsibility is to tell the truth and leave the circumstances to God...

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  22. You can have your opinion, but for me if I was confident that a lie would save someone from hell fire I'd lie. And it would be the right thing to do. Just like if the Nazi's knocked on my door and asked if I was hiding any Jews. I'd lie and say I wasn't. Better to lie than to allow their deaths. Even the Bible teaches that.

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  23. Jon Curry said:

    "I've been focusing on a particular argument from Carrier in response to you. Initially you wouldn't respond and simply said Pearse replies and I need to look at that."

    You're in a hole, and you keep digging. In addition to citing Roger Pearse's material, here's what I wrote to you in my first reply on this subject:

    "Both Eusebius' authorship of the chapter title you quoted and the translation of it are disputed. The original context of Plato doesn't seem to support your interpretation, and Eusebius tells us what interpretation he's applying to the passage. He refers to anthropomorphisms, which aren't equivalent to lying as commonly defined." (http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2006/09/healthy-and-unhealthy-skepticism.html)

    Your claim that I "wouldn't respond" and that I "simply" referred to Pearse's article is false. You've repeatedly been shown to have made false claims about this issue, yet you keep making more false claims. You're being careless, and you've had a long pattern of being careless in many discussions about many issues.

    You write:

    "I don't deny that Pearse disputed the translations of Carrier (and Gifford) regarding lie/falsehood/fiction. I don't deny that he responded to other things. But I've been focusing on a particular argument."

    The argument of Richard Carrier that you quoted uses his translation of Eusebius, and it uses other data Pearse addresses. Those "translations" and "other things" you're referring to are what make up the "particular argument". For you to acknowledge that Pearse addresses "translations" and "other things", and that I've told you about his addressing of those things, yet deny that I've shown him addressing Carrier's "particular argument", is nonsensical. If Carrier asserts A, B, C, and D, while Pearse addresses each of those four items separately and in a different order, the fact remains that he addressed them.

    You write:

    "Did you or did you not tell me that Pearse replies to the particular argument I've been focusing on from Carrier."

    I did.

    You write:

    "Does Pearse in fact respond to that particular argument from Carrier. If so, please post his words."

    I've already posted some of his words, and I'm not going to go through his article to post some of his other comments on each item in Carrier's argument. If you don't want to read Pearse's article, and you think that I'm wrong in claiming that he addresses Carrier's argument, then that's your problem, not mine.

    You write:

    "I understand your reply. I just don't find it persuasive."

    That's the sort of response you resort to in a lot of our discussions. I explain why I disagree with you, citing sources and discussing my reasoning. You, on the other hand, resort to comments like the above when you get to a point where you don't know how to answer what I've said.

    Just after you wrote your comments quoted above, you went on to give your own summary of my argument. Instead of responding to what I said, you decided to rephrase my argument in your own words. And, as we could expect, you distorted my argument in the process.

    You write:

    "You say that Eusebius isn't saying Plato's idea is good, but merely saying that in some cases it is necessary to use fiction to teach certain truths. I say that your explanation does not make sense in light of Carrier and Gifford's point that Eusebius is here singling out those ideas of Plato's that he thinks are good and he's arguing that those ideas of Plato's that are good have their precedence in Scripture. If he were attempting to justify the use of fiction in Scripture your explanation would start to make sense, but he's not doing that. He's justifying Plato's beliefs with Scripture."

    You need to interact with what I said in my previous responses. I explained why a high parallel with Plato's comments wouldn't be necessary. Eusebius wasn't attempting to "justify" all of Plato's comments. He was attempting to show some connection between ancient Hebrew thought and Plato's thought.

    You write:

    "You reply to that point by saying he's not justifying Plato's beliefs, but merely establishing a general connection between the two. I respond that as per Carrier and Gifford the connection between Scripture and Plato has a specific purpose. That purpose is to show that Plato's good ideas have their precedence in Scripture. So I don't see why we should accept your claim."

    The fact that the connection between scripture and Plato "has a specific purpose" doesn't refute my argument. I don't deny that there's a specific purpose. And I don't deny that Eusebius saw a "good idea" in Plato. I deny that the good idea was lying. Eusebius can see a good idea in a passage about using fiction to teach children without seeing lying as that good idea.

    You write:

    "You say that Eusebius' statements about only recording that which makes Christians look good is not a problem, is about being selective, and is not equivalent to lying. I agree that it is not equivalent to lying, but reveals his mindset and given that we wouldn't expect an out and out admission of lying from a dishonest person, this is as close as you're going to get to identifying an admission of dishonesty."

    I've already answered you on that point. As I explained earlier, you approvingly cited Richard Carrier's argument. Carrier's rendering of this passage in Eusebius uses "lie" in Plato's comments twice, and you've argued for a high parallel between Plato's view and that of Eusebius. If the term "lie" is repeatedly used, then how is that not "an out and out admission of lying"? And if what Eusebius advocates in the second passage we're discussing "is not equivalent to lying", then how can it show that Eusebius had a "mindset" of lying? Let's return to the September 11 example I used. When an author or television producer, for example, produces the sort of coverage of September 11 that I described, does such coverage demonstrate that the author or television producer has a "mindset" of lying?

    It's a reflection of the weakness of your argument when you have to resort to the assertion that Eusebius was hiding his approval of lying by referring to things that aren't equivalent to lying. If what he referred to isn't equivalent to lying, then how do you know that he had a mindset that approved of lying? And why would a dishonest person who's trying to hide his lying mindset write passages in which he supposedly reveals that mindset to people like you? And if he meant to argue for lying without doing so "out and out", as you put it, then why does he condemn lying, say that God cannot lie, and refer to scripture as entirely true elsewhere in the same work? If he was trying to suggest the acceptability of lying without arguing for it "out and out", then why would he undermine his case by making comments elsewhere about the unacceptability of lying and the absence of lying in the character of God and scripture?

    You write:

    "But you'll repeat the same arguments you've already made in response to this, saying the same thing you've already said, but with different words, and when I don't again repeat the refutation from before you'll say I 'left the discussion.'"

    No, you've repeatedly left discussions after I posted material you hadn't interacted with previously. That was true in our discussion of Paul's view of resurrection, our discussion of early Christian eschatology, etc.

    You write:

    "I don't think my wife is a torturer, nor would I claim that other Christians were torturers unless I had a reason to. What is your point?"

    I didn't just ask about your wife. I also asked about some of the early Christians, namely Peter, Polycarp, and Irenaeus. If you don't think that Cyril's behavior is representative of the behavior of the earliest Christians, then why did you cite his behavior?

    You write:

    "For instance, show me my 'misuse' of Wikipedia, and how this justifies you ignoring citations I provide for you from there and also requires me to look through multiple websites of yours for arguments that aren't there."

    I've already given examples of your misuse of Wikipedia. See my earlier comments on the Tertullian article and what Wikipedia says about the relationship between Polycarp and the apostles, for example.

    You write:

    "We could talk about Paul's view of whether resurrection was physical if you like. That was the single thread where I did leave arguments from you unresponded to."

    No, that wasn't the only thread. After I responded to Richard Carrier's article on Luke and Josephus, what did you write in response? In our discussion on eschatology, when did you respond to my citations of Ephesians 6 and First Clement 44, for example? You didn't. What about my discussion of how the term "brother" is used in Galatians in relation to Galatians 1:19? When did you respond to what I documented on that issue? You didn't. When did you respond to what I documented in the context of 1 Corinthians 2:8 regarding whether Paul was addressing human or non-earthly rulers? You didn't. Instead, you mentioned that some scholars see the rulers as non-earthly rulers, which doesn't address the evidence I cited. Here's the thread on the authorship of John's gospel, which has a lot of arguments you didn't respond to:

    http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2006/07/who-wrote-gospel-of-john.html

    And this thread on eschatology:

    http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2006/08/did-jesus-and-earliest-christians.html

    And this one on the church fathers:

    http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2006/09/apostolic-status-of-papias-and.html

    Many other examples could be cited. Your claim that the thread on Paul's view of the resurrection is the only one in which you left arguments unresponded to is absurd.

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  24. Jon Curry said:

    "You can have your opinion, but for me if I was confident that a lie would save someone from hell fire I'd lie. And it would be the right thing to do. Just like if the Nazi's knocked on my door and asked if I was hiding any Jews. I'd lie and say I wasn't."

    You haven't been arguing that Eusebius advocated lying in a sense that you approve of. Rather, you argued that Eusebius advocated lying in a sense you disapprove of. You've argued that it was a shameful form of lying, one that would motivate Eusebius to avoid advocating it "out and out". I never denied that a Christian could approve of lying as a lesser of two evils, such as in the Nazi scenario you've mentioned. But the passages you've cited from Eusebius aren't about that subject, and that type of lying isn't the type you were originally criticizing.

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  25. You guys need to let this one go. Both sides seem to be arguing from a position of dogmatism.

    It DOES seem that Eusebius is arguing that while HE/WE understands the bible to be using anthropomorphism, it is at times useful that the wayward be misled into believing that God IS subject to human passions because it can lead them to the right path.

    Personally, the fact that he references a quote by Plato that blatantly advocates lying does NOT bolster my confidence that he would not resort to dishonesty to advance his agenda. After all, if I referenced the Plato quote, I’d be careful to qualify it as a “loose” parallel to avoid the charge of championing the use of deception in the interest of advancing the truth.

    While this single quote is not enough to establish a pattern of behavior, it does raise the possibility. Jason needs to acknowledge this.

    On the other hand, John should not outright reject every claim Eusebius makes on the basis of one or two passages that raise suspicions.

    When we do historical analysis the possibility of deception HAS to be on the table, but it takes more than what we have on Eusebius to be insistent one way or the other.

    Stuart

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  26. Stuart said:

    "Personally, the fact that he references a quote by Plato that blatantly advocates lying does NOT bolster my confidence that he would not resort to dishonesty to advance his agenda. After all, if I referenced the Plato quote, I’d be careful to qualify it as a 'loose' parallel to avoid the charge of championing the use of deception in the interest of advancing the truth."

    He doesn't "reference a quote by Plato that blatantly advocates lying". He quotes a passage in Plato that different translators apply different terms to ("falsehood", "fiction", etc.), then he quotes Clinias, then he cites some anthropomorphisms in scripture. You refer to "being careful to qualify", but the fact that every one of the examples he cites is an anthropomorphism is itself a qualifier, as are Eusebius' comments about how Plato mixed error with truth, how lying is wrong, how God cannot lie, and how scripture is entirely true. If you think that Eusebius should have added more qualifiers or that some of his qualifiers in other places should have been repeated in this passage, then you can criticize him for that, but the conclusion that he approved of lying in this passage is dubious.

    You go on to refer to how the possibility of lying shouldn't be taken off the table, and nobody has suggested otherwise. The issue is whether the passages Jon Curry has cited (originally using Richard Carrier's arguments, though he's now distanced himself from some of them) prove that Eusebius advocated lying. They don't.

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  27. Just to reply to Jon's comments a while back. Lying to a Nazi to protect the life of a Jew is one thing, but the analogy doesn't work with regard to deceiving a sinner into becoming a Christian. Scripture teaches that no lie is of the truth (1 Jn. 2:21). God condemns bearing false witness, but commands preaching the truth. I don't need to lie to someone to "trick" them into repenting of their sin and coming to Christ. No sinner will be "tricked" out of his sin. He must come to Christ, and that takes the power of God. Anyway, as for Eusebius, if he viewed falsehood as Jon suggests (and I don't believe he did) he departed from Scripture on that point. The gospel didn't change the world because of the underhanded work of some early Christians who were trying to promote their hero at the expense of "truth". It turned the world upside down because it is the truth...

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