Friday, March 18, 2016

Matthew, Mark, Luke, and Plutarch

In general, here's a pretty strong response to Ehrman:

However, I have two caveats: 

i) Licona elsewhere says:

Because the main characters in these nine biographies often knew one another, a significant overlap of material is present. When material overlaps in two or more of these nine biographies, we can examine that material very carefully for differences. Differences can occur for numerous reasons, such as lapse of memory or sloppiness or Plutarch used better information he had obtained after writing an earlier biography or he employed a compositional device that required him to alter certain details.

But how does Licona distinguish differences owing to ignorance, carelessness, and memory lapses from differences due to "compositional devices"? 

Likewise, Licona admits that Plutarch wrote "biographies" about Theseus and Romulus. How much stock can you put in an author who writes "biographies" about mythological characters alongside accounts of historical figures like Caesar and Cicero? 

Does Plutarch not know the difference? Or does he know the difference, but he pretends that Theseus and Romulus were real people? And isn't that a case of Plutarch pandering to readers to sell books? He knows there's a market niche for this stuff, so he has no scruples about churning out fictional "biographies" of Theseus and Romulus as if that's nonfiction. But surely that makes him a poor standard of comparison for the Gospels. 

ii) Licona says:

The type of person most likely to experience a hallucination is a senior adult who is grieving over the loss of a loved one. Multiple studies have revealed that approximately 50 percent of people in that class will experience a hallucination of their loved one. By far, the largest percentage of those hallucinations will be a sense that their loved one is in the room, although they do not sense them in any other manner, such as seeing or hearing them. Only approximately seven percent of people in this class experience a hallucination in which they see their loved one.

Why does he take for granted that these must be hallucinations? Why would the default assumption be that if 50% of widows/widowers have a sense of their late spouse's presence, or see them, that's a hallucination? Why wouldn't that be prima facie evidence of postmortem survival? It's not an isolated incident. 

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