Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Eyewitness Memory

"There is no evidence that the Pharisees abstained from writing their 'traditions of the fathers.' There is even less reason to suppose that an insistence on oral transmission alone characterized other Jewish groups at the time of Jesus, such as the (highly literary) Qumran community. However, again it is not true that Gerhardsson entirely neglected the role of written materials: he postulated that, just as private notebooks were in fact used by the rabbis and their pupils, so writing, as an aid to memory, could have been used in early Christian circles prior to the Gospels....In a predominantly oral society, not only do people deliberately remember but also teachers formulate their teachings so as to make them easily memorable. It has frequently been observed that Jesus' teaching in its typically Synoptic forms has many features that facilitate remembering. The aphorisms are typically terse and incisive, the narrative parables have a clear and relatively simple plot outline. Even in Greek translation, the only form in which we have them, the sayings of Jesus are recognizably poetic, especially employing parallelism, and many have posited Aramaic originals rich in alliteration, assonance, rhythm, rhyme, and wordplay. These teaching formulations were certainly not created by Jesus ad hoc, in the course of his teaching, but were carefully crafted, designed as concise encapsulations of his teaching that his hearers could take away, remember, ponder, and live by. We cannot suppose that Jesus' oral teaching consisted entirely of such sayings as these. Jesus must have preached much more discursively, but offered these aphorisms and parables as brief but thought-provoking summations of his teaching for his hearers to jot down in their mental notebooks for frequent future recall. (Obviously, therefore, it was these memorable summations that survived, and when the writers of the Synoptic Gospels wished to represent the discursive teaching of Jesus they mostly had to use collections of these sayings.) This kind of encapsulation of teaching in carefully crafted aphorisms to be remembered was the teaching style of the Jewish wisdom teacher. As Rainer Riesner puts it, 'Even the form of the sayings of Jesus included in itself an imperative to remember them.' Jesus' hearers would readily recognize this and would apply to memorable sayings the deliberate practices of committing to memory that they would know were expected....Such notebooks [as ancient rabbis used] were in quite widespread use in the ancient world (2 Tim 4:13 refers to parchment notebooks Paul carried on his travels). It seems more probable than not that early Christians used them....The eyewitnesses who remembered the events of the history of Jesus were remembering inherently very memorable events, unusual events that would have impressed themselves on the memory, events of key significance for those who remembered them, landmark or life-changing events for them in many cases, and their memories would have been reinforced and stabilized by frequent rehearsal, beginning soon after the event. They did not need to remember - and the Gospels rarely record - merely peripheral aspects of the scene or the event, the aspects of recollective memory that are least reliable....We may conclude that the memories of eyewitnesses of the history of Jesus score highly by the criteria for likely reliability that have been established by the psychological study of recollective memory....[quoting Gillian Cohen] Research has tended to emphasize the errors that occur in everyday memory functions. The picture that emerges is of an error-prone system. This emphasis is partly an artefact of research methodology. In experiments it is usually more informative to set task difficulty at a level where people make errors so that the nature of the errors and the conditions that provoke them can be identified....People do make plenty of naturally occurring errors in ordinary life situations, but, arguably, the methodology has produced a somewhat distorted view of memory efficiency. In daily life, memory successes are the norm and memory failures are the exception. People also exhibit remarkable feats of remembering faces and voices from the remote past, and foreign-language vocabulary and childhood experiences over a lifetime. As well as such examples of retention over very long periods, people can retain large amounts of information over shorter periods, as when they prepare for examinations, and sometimes, as in the case of expert knowledge, they acquire a large amount of information and retain it for an indefinitely long time. Considering how grossly it is overloaded, memory in the real world proves remarkably efficient and resilient. [end quote of Gillian Cohen]" (Richard Bauckham, Jesus And The Eyewitnesses [Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans, 2006], pp. 252, 282, 288, 346, 357)

12 comments:

  1. I'm not sure I understand the point of arguing that eyewitnesses would reliably remember Jesus' teachings. Your view is that the authors are supernaturally guided by God in such a way that they never make an error. If that's true then there is no need to demonstrate that the authors would have a good chance of remembering the teachings based upon Jesus' speaking style.

    If that's not true, then these things become relevant. You can make the case that under ordinary circumstances in that social context rabbis taught in such a way that people would remember, and listeners took notes and so forth. So the testimony of such a person would ordinarily be considered reliable. But also ordinarily you would expect some mistakes, even from the best listeners and best note takers 20, 30, and 40 years after the fact. So you could conclude that the teacings are reliable, but they aren't perfect.

    Unless of course they are guided by God. But if that's true, then who cares about their note taking and their upbringing in an oral society?

    What I see here is an example of a mish mash of arguments. All arguments that tend to support Christianity are fine to use, regardless of whether they cohere with one another. You must choose which path you want to go. If these authors are supernaturally guided by God and prevented from making mistakes, then all of their hard earned notes are irrelevant. Even if they made a mistake taking notes (misheard, smudged a letter, lost a page of notes 40 years later) it doesn't matter. God brought to their rememberance perfectly everything they need to know and write. If on the other hand we are reliant on their note taking abilities, their upbbringing in an oral society, and training in that society, and this is our basis for thinking the statements in the Gospels are true, that's fine, but if this is our basis then we should assume that there are mistakes in the Gospels.

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  2. Some first thoughts for you, Jon Curry.

    You write:

    "I'm not sure I understand the point of arguing that eyewitnesses would reliably remember Jesus' teachings."

    Wouldn't it be because one common objection to the veracity of the Gospel accounts is that the story would have been distorted over the years by poor memory, like a huge game of telephone?

    "If that's true then there is no need to demonstrate that the authors would have a good chance of remembering the teachings based upon Jesus' speaking style."

    If it's not true *for a critic*, then it seems it becomes of some interest to show the critic that it would be plausible over and against his objection. The Christian who believes in supernatural guidance will probably be less interested absent an objection.

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  3. Wouldn't it be because one common objection to the veracity of the Gospel accounts is that the story would have been distorted over the years by poor memory, like a huge game of telephone?

    That's probably a common objection. But your answer should be consistent with what you actually believe about other things. Jason, for instance, thinks the Bible is inerrant because God supernaturally prevented errors. If that's what he thinks, then he should respond to a critic in a manner consistent with that. He should say that God supernaturally prevented the errors that normally occur with a huge game of telephone. He shouldn't offer an explanation that would result in an errant, reliable text, because that is not what he believes.

    If it's not true *for a critic*, then it seems it becomes of some interest to show the critic that it would be plausible over and against his objection.

    I suppose that is true. I'm assuming though based upon the title of the book Jason is quoting that the point here is to show why the gospel authors make for reliable eyewitnesses.

    But perhaps the point in this section is different. Perhaps Bauckham is replying to the hypothetical skeptic that says "Even if we accept the gospel authors as eyewitnesses, the length of time is too long for us to believe these things are reliable." Bauckham then argues and shows that based upon naturalistic assumptions we could still conclude that we have a reliable text.

    But if Bauckham is actually trying to demonstrate that the text is reliable, then this is all irrelevant for an inerrantist. Most skeptics do not believe the gospels are written by eyewitnesses and inerrantist Christians do not believe the text is reliable because the authors took good notes.

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  4. Jon Curry wrote:

    "But if Bauckham is actually trying to demonstrate that the text is reliable, then this is all irrelevant for an inerrantist. Most skeptics do not believe the gospels are written by eyewitnesses and inerrantist Christians do not believe the text is reliable because the authors took good notes."

    The fact that a Christian believes in inerrancy doesn't make irrelevant the process by which that conclusion was reached or could be justified. As I've told you before, I argue for inerrancy on the basis of confirming miracles. Historical data such as Richard Bauckham discusses are relevant to the historicity of miracles. And as I've also told you before, I believe that affirming some of the miracles of Christianity while rejecting Biblical inerrancy is the second best option, preferable to the sort of rejection of both (miracles and Biblical inerrancy) that you advocate.

    The inspiration of the Holy Spirit is a factor, and I would make and have made a historical case for it from passages like John 14-16, but Bauckham's book doesn't directly address that issue. He doesn't use every argument I would use, and, as I've said before, I don't agree with every argument he does use.

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  5. The fact that a Christian believes in inerrancy doesn't make irrelevant the process by which that conclusion was reached or could be justified.

    Of course it doesn't. Did I say that the process by which you justify inerrancy is irrelevant?

    You are quoting Bauckham as arguing that we can be confident that the gospels record Jesus teachings accurately because this is an oral society, these are good note takers, and Jesus taught in a style conducive to that oral society. So it seems his conclusion is that therefore we can trust that they've recorded things accurately.

    But is this why you believe the gospels record Jesus' teachings accurately? Do you rely on their note taking ability, their ability to hear Jesus clearly, their ability to preserve their own notes, fact check with others to ensure they got things right, etc? Because these are very fallible processes. They may have been good, but nobody is perfect, right? If this is the basis for your confidence in the accuracy of what is recorded, then you have yourself a fallible book. If your basis is elsewhere, then this is irrelevant.

    As I've told you before, I argue for inerrancy on the basis of confirming miracles.

    As a completely seperate topic, I'm very interested in the logical steps involved here. Suppose Luke learns of a report from an eyewitness that Jesus performed a miracle. How does this make Luke and Acts inerrant? How is it that the book of Hebrews, written by God knows who, achieve the status of inerrant on the basis of miracles? You did explain that miracles were the basis of inerrancy before, but then I asked these questions of you before and did not get a response that answered the questions.

    He doesn't use every argument I would use, and, as I've said before, I don't agree with every argument he does use.

    Are you saying then that as far as Jesus' teachings (teaching in a memorable way, eyewitnesses living in an oral society, taking notes or whatever) that is all irrelevant. What you take from this is that this oral society accurately recorded miracles, and you are reliant on their accurate recollection of those miracles (repeating the stories to one another through the years, etc) in order to have an inerrant text, and hence correct teachings from Jesus? Would it be the case then that the Bible is no more inerrant than those fallible processes by which the eyewitnesses transmitted the stories?

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  6. Jon Curry said:

    "Did I say that the process by which you justify inerrancy is irrelevant?"

    My citations of Bauckham are relevant to the justification of inerrancy, so your suggestion that I, as an inerrantist, shouldn't be citing him was fallacious.

    You write:

    "But is this why you believe the gospels record Jesus' teachings accurately? Do you rely on their note taking ability, their ability to hear Jesus clearly, their ability to preserve their own notes, fact check with others to ensure they got things right, etc?"

    Yes, I do rely on such evidence. I also rely on other evidence, and such evidence leads me to the conclusion of inerrancy.

    You write:

    "Because these are very fallible processes. They may have been good, but nobody is perfect, right?"

    If fallible processes lead to the conclusion that a miracle occurred, and those miracles in turn suggest inerrancy, then the fact that "fallible processes" were involved doesn't make it unreasonable for me, as an inerrantist, to cite such processes and their results.

    You write:

    "If this is the basis for your confidence in the accuracy of what is recorded, then you have yourself a fallible book."

    Fallible in what sense? In the sense that my reasoning might be wrong? I've never denied that my reasoning is fallible. But if I think that inerrancy is probable, then I'm going to be an inerrantist. I can believe that scripture is infallible while acknowledging that my reasoning leading to that conclusion isn't.

    You write:

    "As a completely seperate topic, I'm very interested in the logical steps involved here. Suppose Luke learns of a report from an eyewitness that Jesus performed a miracle. How does this make Luke and Acts inerrant? How is it that the book of Hebrews, written by God knows who, achieve the status of inerrant on the basis of miracles? You did explain that miracles were the basis of inerrancy before, but then I asked these questions of you before and did not get a response that answered the questions."

    I discussed these issues with you at length, and you repeatedly left the discussions without interacting with what I'd written. It's easy for you to ignore what I write, then claim more than a year later, when the discussions are no longer available to read, that my answers supposedly weren't sufficient. If they weren't sufficient, then you should have demonstrated that insufficiency at the time of those discussions rather than just asserting that my answers were insufficient more than a year after you left those discussions.

    As I explained to you in our discussion on Greg Krehbiel's board, the argument you initially cited from your brother acknowledged the connection between the miracles of Christ and inerrancy. I also explained to you how other miracles, such as fulfilled prophecy, further support the conclusion of inerrancy. For you to now question that connection between miracles and inerrancy, in contrast to the argument you initially used and disregarding what I explained to you at length in previous discussions, is unreasonable.

    You write:

    "Are you saying then that as far as Jesus' teachings (teaching in a memorable way, eyewitnesses living in an oral society, taking notes or whatever) that is all irrelevant."

    What "that" are you referring to? What is the fourth to last word in your comment above referring to?

    You write:

    "What you take from this is that this oral society accurately recorded miracles, and you are reliant on their accurate recollection of those miracles (repeating the stories to one another through the years, etc) in order to have an inerrant text, and hence correct teachings from Jesus?"

    Yes, as I've explained to you many times, I'm appealing to a historical case for inerrancy. It isn't the only means by which a person could come to the conclusion of inerrancy, but it is an objective method that I advocate.

    You write:

    "Would it be the case then that the Bible is no more inerrant than those fallible processes by which the eyewitnesses transmitted the stories?"

    The fact that fallible processes are involved in our arriving at the conclusion that the Bible is inerrant doesn't limit the Bible to the fallibility of those processes. You use your fallible reasoning to arrive at your deist conclusions, but it doesn't therefore follow that the objects you believe in, such as your deist God, must be fallible.

    What "fallible processes" do you have in mind? I believe that God guided the authors of scripture. That process can be called infallible in the sense of God's involvement in it. But the humans involved are fallible in other areas of their lives, and other people involved in similar activity (writing, etc.) can be said to be fallible in a general sense. But whether humans are normally fallible when they write a document, speak about an event they witnessed, etc. doesn't tell us whether Divine guidance was involved in a particular case. You can't use the fallibility of human processes in general to justify a rejection of Divine guidance in a particular case.

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  7. Jon-Did I say that the process by which you justify inerrancy is irrelevant?

    Jason-My citations of Bauckham are relevant to the justification of inerrancy, so your suggestion that I, as an inerrantist, shouldn't be citing him was fallacious.


    Two questions for you.

    1-Did I say that the process by which you justify inerrancy is irrelevant?

    You've ignored that one and made a different unrelated statement, to which I must now ask:

    2-Did I say that an inerrantist shouldn't cite Bauckham?

    Let me add one more:

    3-Do you know what a fallacy is?

    Yes, I do rely on such evidence. I also rely on other evidence, and such evidence leads me to the conclusion of inerrancy.

    You are doing what Roman Catholics do. You ask them if what their ultimate authority is and they'll tell you "Scripture and Tradition." But since the papal understanding of Tradition defines what Scripture is and what it means, papal tradition is really the ultimate authority.

    If your basis for confidence in Gospel teachings is note taking abilities, ability to remember in an oral society, and Jesus' convenient teaching style that made it easier, then your basis is a basis that will result in errors. Therefore the gospels are reliable, but contain errors. If your basis is the guiding hand of God, then there is no need for note taking abilities, etc, so there is no point in demonstrating this.

    If fallible processes lead to the conclusion that a miracle occurred, and those miracles in turn suggest inerrancy, then the fact that "fallible processes" were involved doesn't make it unreasonable for me, as an inerrantist, to cite such processes and their results.

    And if I were disputing that point it would be worth it for you to make that point. But notice the emphasis on the teachings in my previous reply. I distinguish between that and conclusions about the miraculous events. Are you reliant on fallible note taking techniques and teachings styles of Jesus to know the teachings of Jesus?

    I've never denied that my reasoning is fallible. But if I think that inerrancy is probable, then I'm going to be an inerrantist. I can believe that scripture is infallible while acknowledging that my reasoning leading to that conclusion isn't.

    I'm not denying any of that. I'm asking you how you know that the gospels recorded the teachings of Jesus accurately. Do you rely on the note taking and the teaching style of Jesus? Or does the reasoning go like this:

    The gospel authors had good memories and accurately recorded miraculous events. This somehow makes what they wrote inerrant (you really have a lot of explaining to do on this one). Inerrant texts would have to have recorded Jesus teachings accurately.

    This is the process. Note taking abilities and Jesus' teaching style don't enter into the equation. That's my only point.

    It's really not all that complex, nor does it prove you wrong in any way with regards to Christianity. You could actually just agree with me and we could move on. But I think you just reflexively reject all arguments I make. This is not do or die here for Christianity. You wouldn't sacrifice anything by agreeing with me.

    I discussed these issues with you at length, and you repeatedly left the discussions without interacting with what I'd written.

    That's absolutely untrue. I repeatedly asked questions like the ones I asked in my last post which you again ignored.

    It's easy for you to ignore what I write, then claim more than a year later, when the discussions are no longer available to read, that my answers supposedly weren't sufficient.

    It's also easy for you to refer to now unavailable arguments and act like they contained refutations of my questions here when in fact they didn't. The fact is you never demonstrated how logically recording a miracle makes an author inerrant, or how Luke's recording of a miracle somehow makes the book of Hebrews inerrant. You couldn't do it then, you can't do it now, and you won't do it now. You also won't explain how the accounts of Mary Magdelene at the tomb are not contradictory. You can't do it now and you never could.

    If they weren't sufficient, then you should have demonstrated that insufficiency at the time of those discussions rather than just asserting that my answers were insufficient more than a year after you left those discussions.

    I did demonstrate the insufficiency of your arguments. I asked the same questions then that I'm asking now. You didn't answer them then. You won't answer them now.

    As I explained to you in our discussion on Greg Krehbiel's board, the argument you initially cited from your brother acknowledged the connection between the miracles of Christ and inerrancy.

    Yes we did, but this was an argument you completely rejected. Your rejection of my argument was the whole reason I tried to get you to explain how you get to inerrancy and you repeatedly refused to answer questions.

    I said that claims of inerrancy must go through the resurrection as Bill and I had argued. You must establish the gospels as reliable, then talk about how Jesus was risen from the dead and everything he said was true, then conclude that the Bible was inerrant. You denied this. You said you can get there some other way. Somehow the fact that the authors recorded miracles made them inerrant. Somehow the fact that a different book had a fulfilled prophecy somehow made a given book inerrant. Are you now adopting my argument and acting like it was yours in the first place and chiding me for not adhering to it?

    I also explained to you how other miracles, such as fulfilled prophecy, further support the conclusion of inerrancy.

    And I asked how it could be that a fulfilled prophecy in one book, such as Daniel, demonstrates that a completely seperate book, such as II Peter is inerrant? Why doesn't Daniel's fulfilled prophecy make the Gospel of Thomas inerrant?

    For you to now question that connection between miracles and inerrancy, in contrast to the argument you initially used and disregarding what I explained to you at length in previous discussions, is unreasonable.

    Well, since I'm not questioning any kind of connection between miracles and inerrancy, but in fact am questioning the connections you are making, I guess I'm not being unreasonable.

    What "that" are you referring to? What is the fourth to last word in your comment above referring to?

    It is referring to what I have in parentheses.

    You use your fallible reasoning to arrive at your deist conclusions, but it doesn't therefore follow that the objects you believe in, such as your deist God, must be fallible.

    Of course it doesn't, and I'm not saying that. I'm saying that you can be no more confident in the bible's inerrancy than you can be in the conclusion that the authors remembered things properly over a 30 or 40 year period. Or maybe 50 or 60 years in the case of the Gospel of John.

    What "fallible processes" do you have in mind?

    I'm talking about the fallible memories of the gospel authors. You claim that somehow the fact that they were able to properly remember certain events (miracles) makes what they wrote inerrant. You haven't elaborated on that except to reject the technique Bill and I use. So maybe you should start by connecting the dots here in your process of coming to conclude inerrancy.

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  8. Jon Curry wrote:

    "Did I say that the process by which you justify inerrancy is irrelevant?"

    No, you implied it. Here's the first paragraph in your first post in this thread:

    "I'm not sure I understand the point of arguing that eyewitnesses would reliably remember Jesus' teachings. Your view is that the authors are supernaturally guided by God in such a way that they never make an error. If that's true then there is no need to demonstrate that the authors would have a good chance of remembering the teachings based upon Jesus' speaking style."

    You were suggesting that you didn't "understand the point" of my citation of Bauckham, and you were arguing that there was "no need" of it for somebody who is an inerrantist, as I am. But as Matthew Schultz and I have explained in our responses to you, there are multiple reasons ("points", "needs", etc.) why an inerrantist would cite such material from Bauckham.

    Later in your first post you wrote:

    "Unless of course they are guided by God. But if that's true, then who cares about their note taking and their upbringing in an oral society?"

    When you respond to my citation of Bauckham by suggesting that I, as an inerrantist, should take a "who cares" approach toward what Bauckham is addressing, then you're suggesting that I shouldn't be citing Bauckham's material for a purpose such as justifying inerrancy. According to you, I should have a "who cares" view of Bauckham's arguments as a result of my belief in inerrancy.

    Later in your first post in this thread, you wrote:

    "If these authors are supernaturally guided by God and prevented from making mistakes, then all of their hard earned notes are irrelevant."

    If the note taking of the early Christians is "irrelevant", and that note taking is part of the historical case used to justify inerrancy, then you are suggesting that the justification of inerrancy is irrelevant.

    You write:

    "You've ignored that one and made a different unrelated statement"

    No, I didn't ignore what you said. The problem is that you didn't understand the answer.

    You write:

    "Did I say that an inerrantist shouldn't cite Bauckham?"

    You said that you didn't see a point in my citation of him, that my citation of him is irrelevant for an inerrantist, etc. Unless you're going to argue that it's reasonable for people to do pointless and irrelevant things, then, yes, you were suggesting that I shouldn't have cited Bauckham.

    You write:

    "Do you know what a fallacy is?"

    Yes, since I often see them in your posts, for example.

    You write:

    "If your basis for confidence in Gospel teachings is note taking abilities, ability to remember in an oral society, and Jesus' convenient teaching style that made it easier, then your basis is a basis that will result in errors. Therefore the gospels are reliable, but contain errors. If your basis is the guiding hand of God, then there is no need for note taking abilities, etc, so there is no point in demonstrating this."

    I've already addressed that argument. The fact that human processes of note taking, memory, and such are normally fallible doesn't tell us whether the guidance of God was involved in a particular case. Furthermore, fallibility is about potential for error, not certainty of error.

    You refer to my "basis for confidence in Gospel teachings", but you ignore other factors I've repeatedly mentioned. The note taking, tendencies of human memory, and such would lead to a conclusion of historical probability for the miracles in question. Those miracles would then suggest the involvement of God and lead to confidence in the concept of inerrancy. Material such as Richard Bauckham's is relevant to my case in that it supports a historical argument for the relevant miracles. Bauckham's material is also relevant in other contexts, such as in a case for Christianity that doesn't involve inerrancy or to demonstrate that what critics often say about issues such as the memory of the early Christians is incorrect. There are multiple good reasons for a Christian, including an inerrantist, to cite Bauckham's material.

    You write:

    "And if I were disputing that point it would be worth it for you to make that point. But notice the emphasis on the teachings in my previous reply. I distinguish between that and conclusions about the miraculous events. Are you reliant on fallible note taking techniques and teachings styles of Jesus to know the teachings of Jesus?"

    Again, I've already addressed that question. Since inerrancy includes Jesus' teachings as recorded in the New Testament, then a case for inerrancy is relevant to those teachings. If the "miraculous events" you refer to have implications for the reliability of the New Testament record of Jesus' teachings, then in what sense is it relevant for you to distinguish between the teachings of Jesus and the miracles in question? The note taking, human memory tendencies, and other factors Bauckham discusses support an argument for the miracles in question, which in turn support a case for inerrancy. And aside from inerrancy, it's relevant to demonstrate that there are good reasons to trust the New Testament where critics often don't trust it, even if those good reasons don't cover as much material as inerrancy would. People can have multiple reasons for holding their beliefs. If I believe in Biblical inerrancy, then I can cite inerrancy to support my confidence that Jesus spoke the words in a particular passage in the gospels. I can also cite historical reasons without appealing to inerrancy. Material such as Richard Bauckham's would be relevant in either case.

    You write:

    "The gospel authors had good memories and accurately recorded miraculous events. This somehow makes what they wrote inerrant (you really have a lot of explaining to do on this one)."

    No, that's not what I've argued. I've discussed the justification of inerrancy with you at length, and you've repeatedly left the discussions. You're the one who has more explaining to do.

    You write:

    "This is the process. Note taking abilities and Jesus' teaching style don't enter into the equation. That's my only point."

    Again, the note taking and other factors discussed are part of the process leading to a conclusion that miracles probably occurred. The miracles then suggest the involvement of God and lead to the conclusion of inerrancy. I've repeatedly explained to you how the miracles suggest inerrancy. I've discussed John 14-16, Jesus' treatment of the Old Testament, early post-apostolic views of the New Testament documents, etc. Your original argument against Christianity, which you cited from your brother, affirmed the fact that Biblical inerrancy is an implication of what Jesus taught. You claimed that alleged errors in scripture, such as inconsistency between how the death of Judas is portrayed in Matthew and Acts, are evidence against Jesus' miracles, particularly the resurrection. But you also want to argue that we don't have any good reason to consider a book like Acts to be scripture by Christian standards. If there's no good reason to think that Jesus implied the inerrancy of a book like Acts, then how can you cite an alleged error in Acts as a justification for doubting Jesus' reliability? Not only are you wrong about my argument for inerrancy, but you're also inconsistent in your own claims on the subject.

    You write:

    "That's absolutely untrue. I repeatedly asked questions like the ones I asked in my last post which you again ignored."

    No, you're mistaken. I kept responding to you in multiple threads, including in discussions on inerrancy, and you left the forum. You didn't contact me again until several months later, and you said that you were away from the board because you were moving. It's easy for you to claim now, when nobody can access the previous discussions in question, that I didn't answer your questions. I'm not the one who left that forum, and readers can judge your general credibility by your behavior in this forum. Your claims about what happened in the other forum are about as credible as your other claims in the present forum.

    You write:

    "The fact is you never demonstrated how logically recording a miracle makes an author inerrant, or how Luke's recording of a miracle somehow makes the book of Hebrews inerrant."

    I did address these issues at length. Your faulty memory isn't my problem. And as I explained to you previously, the issue isn't "recording a miracle". Rather, the issue is how particular miracles imply the reliability of a source that teaches inerrancy. I specifically addressed the writings of Luke and Hebrews in our previous discussions. And since you've cited passages in Luke's writings as justification for your rejection of inerrancy, your claim that we have no good reason to think that Luke's writings are implicated in the miracles of Christianity is inconsistent with your own argumentation. If nothing Jesus and the apostles taught implies the scriptural status of Luke's writings, then you can't cite alleged errors in Luke's writings as examples of error in what Jesus and the apostles taught.

    You write:

    "You also won't explain how the accounts of Mary Magdelene at the tomb are not contradictory. You can't do it now and you never could."

    I did address that issue, and I told you where I addressed it. But considering how often you ignore what other people write in response to you, your suggestion that it's unreasonable for people not to address your arguments is inconsistent with your own behavior.

    You write:

    "I said that claims of inerrancy must go through the resurrection as Bill and I had argued. You must establish the gospels as reliable, then talk about how Jesus was risen from the dead and everything he said was true, then conclude that the Bible was inerrant. You denied this. You said you can get there some other way. Somehow the fact that the authors recorded miracles made them inerrant."

    You misrepresented my argument in the previous discussion, and you're misrepresenting it again. I never argued that "the fact that the authors recorded miracles made them inerrant". As I've explained to you repeatedly, the issue is what a source taught about scripture and whether we have reason to trust that source. If a miracle is relevant to the trustworthiness of that source, then I cite the miracle in an argument for inerrancy. It doesn't therefore follow that every miracle recorded "made them inerrant". The way you're presenting my argument ignores significant qualifiers that I've repeatedly explained to you.

    You write:

    "And I asked how it could be that a fulfilled prophecy in one book, such as Daniel, demonstrates that a completely seperate book, such as II Peter is inerrant? Why doesn't Daniel's fulfilled prophecy make the Gospel of Thomas inerrant?"

    I repeatedly explained to you that something like prophecy would only be relevant to books containing or implicated by prophecy. I never said or suggested that Daniel's prophecies would establish the inerrancy of 2 Peter. To the contrary, I discussed at length the sort of data in the teachings of Jesus and the apostles and early post-apostolic sources that would lead me to the conclusion that New Testament books like 2 Peter are scripture. If you don't remember what I posted in our previous discussions, then that's your problem, not mine.

    You write:

    "It is referring to what I have in parentheses."

    And here's what you originally said:

    "Are you saying then that as far as Jesus' teachings (teaching in a memorable way, eyewitnesses living in an oral society, taking notes or whatever) that is all irrelevant."

    No, I've never suggested that the factors mentioned in parentheses are "all irrelevant". To the contrary, I've been explaining to you how they are relevant to me, as an inerrantist, in multiple contexts.

    You write:

    "I'm saying that you can be no more confident in the bible's inerrancy than you can be in the conclusion that the authors remembered things properly over a 30 or 40 year period. Or maybe 50 or 60 years in the case of the Gospel of John."

    If note taking and frequent rehearsal, for example, occurred prior to the writing of the gospels, then it's not a matter of people first trying to remember something 30 or more years after the event. But whatever the historical probability of my conclusions, yes, I am saying that my historical case for inerrancy is a matter of historical probability that depends on the quality of evidence that leads to the conclusion in question. That's true of any historical argument.

    Your original post in this thread didn't just argue that I'm relying on a historical probability rather than a certainty or that you think that my probability is too low, for example. Rather, you said that my citation of Bauckham seems pointless, irrelevant, etc. coming from an inerrantist. If you now want to change the subject to the uncertain nature of historical arguments, then you're shifting the discussion.

    You write:

    "I'm talking about the fallible memories of the gospel authors. You claim that somehow the fact that they were able to properly remember certain events (miracles) makes what they wrote inerrant. You haven't elaborated on that except to reject the technique Bill and I use. So maybe you should start by connecting the dots here in your process of coming to conclude inerrancy."

    If you've forgotten so much of what I told you in our previous discussions, why should I keep pursuing further discussions with you? I'm writing these latest responses to you primarily for the benefit of other people, not for your benefit. You've demonstrated that there isn't much reason to pursue these discussions for your sake.

    In our discussions on Greg Krehbiel's board, I discussed John 14-16, early Jewish views of scripture, the implications of 2 Peter 3:15-16, the implications of early patristic views of the New Testament documents, etc. Your claim that I "haven't elaborated" is false.

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  9. The self-witness of Scripture has always been an element in the overall case for inerrancy. The fact that Bauckham draws attention to some of the internal evidence for the historical accuracy of the Gospels, and correlates that with external sources of information, is quite consistent with traditions arguments for the inerrancy of Scripture. Such arguments involve multiple-lines of evidence.

    One of Jon's problems is that he's confusing inspiration and revelation. Not everything in Scripture is by direct revelation. Indeed, much or most of it is not. 
     
    Inspiration doesn't bypass memory, observation, or other ordinary means of learning and information-acquisition. 
     
    It isn't irrelevant to inspiration that Matthew and John (and, I suspect, Mark, to some extent) were eyewitnesses. It isn't irrelevant to inspiration that Luke interviewed people in the know. It isn't irrelevant to inspiration that Mark lodges an implicit appeal to multiple-attestation for his claims.

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  10. Jason, do you have copies of our discussions that occurred on Greg Krehbiel's board?

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  11. Jon,

    I don't have a copy of everything from Greg Krehbiel's board. I saved some of the material, but not most of it.

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  12. I'd be interested in getting copies of what you have. I also managed to save some of it and would send you what I have if you are interested.

    As far as the point here, I agree that if it is used to prove inerrancy it is relevant, but if it used to prove the accuracy of specific teachings unrelated to inerrancy, then I don't see the relevance. All indications from what you originally posted were that this was about teachings, not inerrancy which is why I questioned the relevance.

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