Is this observation correct: "Christians use naturalist bias when it comes to discounting other supernatural claims about Jesus and supernatural claims about other religions." (Dr. Hector Avalos from debate with W.Lane Craig)

Please read excellent point about authorship issues

[–]brojanglesBible critic 17 points 1 day ago* This is only a summary because it gets kind of long, but the bullet points are this: The identifications of Mark and Matthew come from descriptions of books given in a book written by an early church father named Papias. We no longer have any copies of this book. What we know of it is only what is quoted from it in the 4th Century by Constantine's church historian, Eusebius. Eusebius quotes Papias as having said the following And the presbyter said this. Mark having become the interpreter of Peter, wrote down accurately whatsoever he remembered. It was not, however, in exact order that he related the sayings or deeds of Christ. For he neither heard the Lord nor accompanied Him. But afterwards, as I said, he accompanied Peter, who accommodated his instructions to the necessities [of his hearers], but with no intention of giving a regular narrative of the Lord's sayings. Wherefore Mark made no mistake in thus writing some things as he remembered them. For of one thing he took especial care, not to omit anything he had heard, and not to put anything fictitious into the statements. [This is what is related by Papias regarding Mark; but with regard to Matthew he has made the following statements]: Matthew put together the oracles [of the Lord] in the Hebrew language, and each one interpreted them as best he could. The "presbyter" referred to is a shadowy figure called John the Presbyter (or John the Elder - presbyter means "elder"), who was allegedly a teacher of Papias. Eusebius says this was not the same person as the Apostle even though another church father named Irenaeus mixed them up. Note that Papias does not quote from Mark or Matthew or give any information which would identify them specifically as the Canonical books. Those descriptions were used to identify anonymous books. The above mentioned Irenaeus decided that THIS must be the book written by Mark, and THIS must be the book written by Matthew. The reason these identifications are now rejected by critical scholars is because the descriptions don't match the Canonical books. Papias says that Mark wrote down Peter's memoirs verbatim, and not in chronological order or any other order. Mark's Gospel is very ordered and employs Greek literary sctructures called chiasms that can't happen from spontaneous speech (it would be like somebody speaking in iambic pentameter or exclusively in limericks). That becomes even more unlikely when the alleged speaker was an Aramaic speaking fisherman who would have known only pigeon Greek at best. In addition, it needs to be remembered that the Gospel of Mark does not itself claim to be a memoir of Peter's, nor does the author claim to have known him. Furthermore, Mark's Gospel is anti-Petrine in tone and portrays Peter as an unredeemed coward who runs away and denies Jesus, and who himself is denied any witness of the resurrection. Why would a memoir of Peter's leave out any witness of a risen Jesus? Mark is also written in a 3rd person, omniscient voice and includes scenes for which Peter could not have been a witness because, even internally to Mark's narrative, he wasn't there. The baptism by John the temptations in the wilderness, the prayer in Gethsemane and trial before the Sanhedrin for example. Mark's Gospel also contains a number of geographical and legal errors would not be expected from a witness. There are also scenes which appear to be based on rewritings of stories from the OT (particularly stories about Elijah and Elisha), but that's a whole other long argument. I'll just refer you to Randel Helms' Gospel Fictions. So the evidence for Mark being written by a secretary of Peter's relies on a quotation from a lost book by a guy who says another guy told him that somebody named Mark wrote a memoir of Peter's, but describes a book which does not match the Canonical, which does not claim to be a memoir of Peter and which has internal evidence contradicting such a hypothesis. Papias also says that Matthew compiled a collection of "sayings of the Lord" (Logia) in Hebrew. Canonical Matthew does not claim to be written by Matthew or by any witness at all. It's not a sayings Gospel and it was composed in Greek, not Hebrew. It copies extensively from from Mark and the Septuagint (both Greek sources) and probably another Greek source called Q. The Q material is basically just sayings and may have, in a circuitous way, gone back to a collection of genuine Jesus sayings, but Matthew uses Mark almost exclusively as his narrative source. Why would a witness use a non-witness as a source? This is already getting windier than I intended, so I'll rush through Luke and John. The identification of "Luke the physician" as the author of Luke-Acts comes from Paul mentioning a companion of that name in Philemon and two mentions in the pseudo-Pauline epistles, Colossians and 2 Timothy. Because some passages in Acts are written in the 1st person plural (commonly called the "we passages"), it was assumed that the author must have been a companion of Paul's. Paul mentions a dude named Luke. Bingo, the author must have been this Luke dude. The author himself never calls himself Luke or says he knew Paul. He was writing pretty late (around the turn of the 1st century), he says some things that contradict Paul's authentic epistles. His Gospel uses the same sources as Matthew (Mark and Q) indicating a lack of access to witnesses (in his prologue to his Gospel he says straight up that he is using previously written sources). There is more than one theory about the we passages, including one argument that it was an ancient Greek literary device used for sea voyages or that it was a previously written source used by Luke. Bart Ehrman says that he thinks that somebody else wrote a fake account of travels with Paul and that Luke thought it was real. The identification of John of Zebedee as the author of the Fourth Gospel first comes from Irenaeus, who identifies him as the "beloved disciple" (the Gospel itself never says who the beloved disciple was. The inference is made because it also never mentions John of Zebedee, so the reasoning was that the BD must have been J of Z). For a variety of reasons, including the highly sophisticated Greek (from an uneducated, Aramaic speaking fisherman who the book of Acts explicitly says was illiterate), the late dating, the highly developed Christology, the long, developed theological speeches which would not be plausibly remembered and are not corroborated in the synoptics and the reflection and knowledge of the schism between Jews and Christians including the anachronistic placement of the expulsion of Christians from synagogues within the life of Jesus. The last chapter also seems to imply that the Beloved Disciple had already died relative to the writing of that chapter. As with the other Gospels, there is no real evidence in favor of the tradition and there is internal and external evidence against it.

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