Maybe you would be interested in two debates Steven Carr is having?
What do you think of his (S. Carr's) thoughts on the resurrection and the reliability of the gospels in general?
I don’t see that he’s saying much of anything I didn’t already cover in my critique of TET. So I won’t repeat myself here except to comment on a few of his claims:
Concerning the Gospels in general, since I view these documents as divinely inspired, I regard them as more than reliable: I view them as infallible. But I realize that isn’t your starting point.
“Certainly Jesus died. Everybody dies.”
According to Scripture, this isn’t true. Enoch didn’t die. Elijah didn’t die. And those who are alive at the time of the Parousia will never die.
“Did the disciples preach a message? Which ones? We have nothing from they to say that they preached a bodily resurrection.”
Let’s remember that a bodily resurrection would be the default position of mainstream Jews. If they believed in a resurrection (pace the Sadducees), such as the eschatological resurrection of the just, then it would be a bodily resurrection. That’s been documented by scholars like Wright.
So there’s no expectation that NT writers would specify a corporeal resurrection, in contradistinction to an incorporeal resurrection.
The only reason that Paul, Luke, and John accentuate the physical nature of the resurrection is because this was coming under challenge—probably by Greeks.
The onus lies on Carr to show that every reference to the resurrection in the NT (whether the resurrection of Christ, general resurrection, or resurrection of the just) is incorporeal unless otherwise stated.
“Acts is anonymous.”
Acts is by the same author as the gospel of Luke. We know the authorship of Luke’s gospel based on the title (read Hengel on the titles of the gospels) as well as external corroboration.
“Never says who the sources were.”
Carr is playing dumb. Generally speaking, when an author writes about contemporary people and events, he doesn’t name his sources. For the unspoken understanding is that he is in a position to talk about these people and events as a matter of personal knowledge. Things which he either observed for himself, or learned from other contemporary eyewitnesses.
For example, Eisenhower, Churchill, and Wiesel all wrote about WWII. Do they name all their sources? Do people read them for their sources?
No, we read them because we regard *them* (the authors) as a primary source of information about WWII, since they were well-placed contemporaries who both knew a lot as a matter of direct observation as well as knowing others who were eyewitnesses.
One can infer from the we-sections in Acts what Luke saw for himself. We can also infer from the fact that he was a traveling companion of Paul, as well as being a member of the numerically small, tight-knit NT church, with its home-base in Jerusalem, that Luke’s information comes from many of the same people he talks about.
“And never tells us how the author sifted true stories from the myriads of false stories Christians were spreading about Jesus.”
What is Carr’s evidence for this claim? Incidentally, notice that Carr never names his own sources. So by his own yardstick, whatever Carr tells us is worthless.
“That makes it invalid as a source of history. Scondary, anonymous writings by biased people engaged in propaganda can be automatically dismissed as revealing no more than what the author wanted people to believe.”
i) Another false dichotomy. The question at issue is the source of the bias. When Ike, Churchill, and Wiesel write about WWII, they are not impartial reporters. They think the Nazis were the bad guys. And they had good reason for their moral assessment. Their bias was based on evidence—evidence involving the stated aims and actual conduct of the Nazis.
ii) Carr is also a biased writer. So, once again, if we apply his own yardstick to his own statements, everything he says is worthless.
“Did the disciples believe? Matthew 28:17 says that some of them doubted, even after they had been shown proofs by the Son of God Himself. Clearly the author of Matthew knew he had to spin away the fact that nobody had heard of 11 disciples preaching a message of bodily resurrection.”
This is a really stupid statement. If Matthew tells us that some continued to doubt ever after seeing the Risen Lord, then this is a mark of Matthew’s candor. If Matthew was in spin mode, he’d never record—much less invent—a group of dissenters.
“Paul did convert to Christianity, describing his Jewish beliefs prior to his conversion as 'garbage'.”
This is citing Paul out of context. Paul didn’t regard everything he knew as Jew or a learned as a Pharisee as garbage. Rather, it was insufficient to justify him before God.
“All Paul ever claims is that Jesus 'appeared' to people, using the sames word 'ophthe' which the New Testament uses to describe how fire 'appeared' on the disciples heads at Pentecost.”
This is a silly statement. The bodily resurrection isn’t based on the meaning of the verb for sight.
“Were the disciples heads physically on fire, when fire 'appeared'? The main meaning of the word 'ophthe' is a non-physical appearance.”
Notice that Carr doesn’t quote any Greek lexicons to substantiate that claim.
“People who claim to have gone to Heaven are nutcases, and their testimony is not to be taken as valid, although they probably sincerely believe that they have visited Heaven.”
This is an assertion, not an argument. There’s a serious body of literature on mysticism, including writers like William James, Nelson Pike, and Joseph Maréchal.
“James supposedly spent 30 years watching his brother's literally Christ-like behaviour. How could he have been a sceptic after observing God-made-flesh for 30 years?”
This assumes that Jesus used to perform miraculous stunts when they were kids. But according to Jn 2:11, the first miracle that Jesus ever performed was for the wedding at Cana.
“If my brother was Jesus, do you really think I would be a sceptic?”
Other issues aside, scepticism isn’t simply a matter of inexperience or ignorance. People can disbelieve in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Consider all of the conspiracy theories about 9/11, although we saw this unfold in real time, on live TV. And even though no event in history was more widely covered or exhaustively scrutinized.
“Just Acts, a work written by who-knows-who and who-knows-where, a work written by an author who is acknowledged by all people to have taken a previous Gospel (the Gospel of Mark) and simply changed it to suit his own private theological agenda.”
This is a simple-minded description of Luke’s editorial process:
i) To begin with, he didn’t get all his information from Mark.
ii) In addition, we can, indeed, see how he redacted Mark (assuming Markan priority). And his editorial changes are extremely conservative. So this supplies an external check on Luke’s fidelity to his sources.
“In the real world , there is no evidence that Joseph of Arimathea ever existed.”
I have no direct evidence that Steven Carr exists. For all I know, Carr is a fictitious character, invented by a Christian to make unbelievers look bad. Surely, if Steve Carr were a real person, he wouldn’t be as blundeing as the Carrian redactor makes him out to be.
“The 'carnal man' has put his hope in a 'carnal body', which is why he is a fool. The 'carnal body' will die.”
This is not what “sarx” means in NT usage.
“Why is Josephus regarded as more reliable than the Gospel of Mark?”
Is he? Notice, once more, that Carr doesn’t cite any sources to back up his claim.
“For one thing, the Gospel of Mark has no markers which indicate that it was even intended as history. It is anonymous, never names sources, never says how the author checked his sources, never gives any attempt at chronology etc etc.”
In light of Acts 12:13, it is likely that Mark was an eyewitness to the Jerusalem ministry of Christ, as well as having direct contact with the Jerusalem apostles. He was also a sometime traveling companion of Paul, as well as a protégé of Peter (1 Pet 5:13). And that’s apart from the patristic testimony. So he was well-informed.
“Luke does at least make an attempt at chronology, but he also never names sources, and never shows any sign of being a critical historian, who evaluates and sifts evidence. By contrast, look at Josephus. A real historian like Josephus mentions his sources frequently.”
A couple of problems:
i) Much of the time, Josephus is writing about events long before he was born. This is quite different from the way an author writes about his contemporaries, or contemporary events.
ii) If Carr thinks that Josephus is a “real historian,” then he must be respectful of his miraculous reports, the way in which his materials so often dovetail with NT history, his remarks about James the Just, and the Testimonium Flavianum.
“The earliest reference to the resurrection is in 1 Cor. 15. There we learn that the Corinthians accepted the resurrection of Jesus, but still disbelieved that a dead body could rise.”
i) I have no particular reason to assume that 1 Corinthians (c. AD 55) was written before any of the synoptic gospels.
ii) Even if it was, one needs to distinguish between the date of the secondary sources (e.g. Matthew, Mark, Luke, 1 Corinthians), and the date of the primary sources which they use in their reportage.
Using retrotranslation back into Aramaic, Maurice Casey has argued for the extremely primitive date of the underlying, synoptic source material—even concomitant with the preaching of Jesus. And Alan Millard has also documented the prevalence of literacy in 1C Palestine.
If Paul can write a letter, Luke can write a gospel. If Paul can write a letter in AD 55, then Luke can write a gospel in AD 55 (or before).
“This is impossible to explain, if they had been taught that Jesus dead body had risen.”
The “Corinthians” are not a monolithic group. Many or most of them were converts from Greco-Roman paganism. Greeks, if they even believed in the afterlife, believe in apotheosis or the immortality of the soul. The resurrection was a Jewish concept.
“After all, modern Christians have no problem with the idea that God can raise dead bodies, because they have heard stories of how the body of Jesus was raised.”
A poor parallel. Many theological liberals call themselves Christians even though they deny the bodily resurrection of Christ—and other doctrines.
“The Corinthians worry is easy to explain if they believed that Jesus was a god. Jesus had been a spirit before he became a human , and became a spirit again after he died.”
A couple of problems:
i) Notice that Carr makes no attempt to exegete this from the text of 1 Cor 15.
ii) God doesn’t “have” a spirit. God is a spirit. God doesn’t cease to be a spirit by becoming incarnate.
“The Corinthians knew that God could breathe life into dead matter. God had breathed life into clay and created Adam as a living person. So if they believed God could make dead matter live, why did they believe God would choose not to make their dead bodies alive?”
That would be more obvious to Jews and Jewish Christians than to Gentiles (except for proselytes or God-fearers) who had no such background in the OT Scriptures or 2nd temple Judaism.
“If Paul thought the Corinthians were idiots for wondering how dead bodies could be raised, when it was child’s play for God to raise dead bodies, he would have told them so. He could have used such passages as Ezekiel 37, or talked about how God breathed life into dead matter to make Adam.”
Two more problems:
i) There’s no such thing as “the” Corinthians. This is a church with many factions. Many subdivisions. Paul is dealing with one subset of the Corinthian church.
ii) Ezk 37 is a symbolic vision.
“Such questions were irrelevant, which is why Paul never answers the questions of how corpses could get back missing limbs, or how a corpse destroyed by fire could be reconstituted from smoke and ash etc.”
i) I’ve never felt the force of this objection. A body is simply a distinctive organization of matter. In some cases, a resurrection would reconstitute, not the original atoms, but the original configuration of atoms.
ii) In the case of Christ, there was still a body to resurrect (or glorify). So there was a high degree of continuity between his mortal body and his immortal body.
But in cases where the original body has disintegrated, there will be less direct continuity. Even so, it’s possible for the glorified body to replicate the original, and thereby be identical with the original, except that the glorified body is immortal rather than mortal.
“English translations of 1 Corinthians 15 often mask Paul’s idea that after our natural body has died, we will get a body made of spirit.”
Is Steve Carr a Greek scholar?
“Just like Jesus, we will become ‘a life-giving spirit.’”
If he bothered to read Thiselton or Wright, to mention a couple of premier scholars on the subject, he’d know that this is Pauline shorthand for a body which is reanimated by the Holy Spirit. It has nothing to do with the composition of the body.
“Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5 that we will leave this present body behind and receive a heavenly body to replace the old body. He often uses a clothing analogy. At the resurrection we will get a new set of clothes. This means that the old set of clothes will be discarded.”
Paul is juggling more than one metaphor. There are also the allusions to the OT tabernacle. Carr is being woodenly literal with mixed metaphors, which is incoherent.
“So Paul had to write a second letter to the Corinthians. In 2 Corinthians 5, he makes even more explicit his theory that the Corinthians don't have to worry about corspes rotting and decaying, as their natural body is what they are living in now, and they will move into a different residence at the resurrection.”
Actually, Paul is more concerned here with the timing of glorification. On this subject, read M. J. Harris’ commentary on the Greek text of 2 Corinthians.
“Presumably Paul means that our mortal natures (note Paul never writes bodies here!).”
He never writes “bodies” here because he’s dealing with theological metaphors. The usage is figurative and literarily allusive rather than literal—although he clearly believes in the intermediate state.