‘the major discovery of Christian history’?

Discussion in 'Christianity' started by Nick the Pilot, Mar 31, 2011.

  1. Thomas

    Thomas Well-Known Member

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    Hi Wil

    Yes, I'm following this with interest.

    I'm frankly surprised no Scripture scholar has ever come up with this before.

    You for one.

    Did you read that bit?

    I suppose you still reserve the right to claim that because miracles can't be empirically determined or proved, they couldn't have happened?

    God bless,

    Thomas
     
  2. wil

    wil UNeyeR1

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    I suppose I'll repeat myself....there are no miracles and it is all a miracle.

    I believe the miracles are either

    a. hypebole for the purpose of the story, to accentuate and assist the retelling
    b. created to make our godman equivilant or better than other godmen previously
    c. natural occurances, that can and will be scientifically proven as to how they can be accomplished.

    faith healing, spiritual healing, hands on healing....I've participated, I believe... I believe it natural... like acupuncture....which was/still a mystery....I believe it natural not supernatural...

    Which fall in which category...I can't say.
     
  3. Thomas

    Thomas Well-Known Member

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    That does nothing but empty the term miracle of any useful meaning.

    Now we're getting somewhere. Not Divine acts then.

    So we discount the acts of Christ as anything other than purely natural phenomena, possibly misunderstood as to their cause, innocently or otherwise, or they're inventions by the scribe to bolster the reputation of his or her subject.

    In which case, the miracle accounts in Scripture are events recorded in the life of Christ, events not to be relied upon, perhaps not even believed

    Do we apply the same rule to the words of Christ ... and if not, why not?

    God bless,

    Thomas
     
  4. wil

    wil UNeyeR1

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    Thomas it is so simple to me...

    You think it discounts everything, I think it elevates everything...

    We are in heaven, it is in our midst, within. Like the story of the guy walking down the road "What are the people like in the next town?" If you can't see heaven in everything around us....

    I love being surrounded by the miraculous....don't need to keep it in pages of books.

    You say not divine, I say everything is divine...
     
  5. Thomas

    Thomas Well-Known Member

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    If you are content in the material world, then OK ...

    ... I suppose a common thread in all the world's religious traditions is 'why is there suffering?', but if you don't see that, then it's hard to fathom the religion.

    Another thread is the desire to see beyond the veil of appearances ...

    God bless,

    Thomas
     
  6. wil

    wil UNeyeR1

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    When we see beyond the viel of appearances...we are not in the material world and there is no suffering...
     
  7. NiceCupOfTea

    NiceCupOfTea Pathetic earthlings

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    so have you seen that, or is it something you read somewhere ?
     
  8. Thomas

    Thomas Well-Known Member

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    That's somewhat contradictory, bearing in mind you refute the reality and existence of anything beyond the veil of appearances?

    If we are not in the material world, what world are we in?

    God bless,

    Thomas
     
  9. wil

    wil UNeyeR1

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    the illusion Thomas, babylon.... we are also in heaven...it is a choice... a matter of perspective.
     
  10. bob x

    bob x New Member

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    Of course. Not all of the gospel sources are equally reliable about what he actually said.
     
  11. wil

    wil UNeyeR1

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    Bob what source do you use to clarify this?

    I've read that the whole interlude about the word was added at the beginning of John, and that the woman at the well, doodling in the sand another add.

    Now Thomas discounts the Jesus Seminar lock stock and barrel...that what did Jesus say and what did Jesus do...the methodology of all those scholars and their marbles being ludicrous....

    your thoughts and resources?
     
  12. Amergin

    Amergin New Member

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    Wil and Thomas, your debate somewhat confuses me.

    I consider the Universe Creator to be non-conscious natural forces at work in the Big Bang, formation of atoms from energy, stars and galaxies from hydrogen, etc., etc. to animal evolution (consciousness) to human animals.

    Why do we have suffering, seeming evil, murder, and slavery in the world?

    The natural world is not based on ethics, compassion, or intention. It just is. What happens is not good or bad but actions and interactions of matter and energy. We consider good, that which seems compassionate or benefits us. We consider evil as that which harms our society or us.

    Nature produces that which works. Hyenas gang up and painfully rip apart a zebra or wildebeest, eating it while it is still alive and bleating in pain. Is that evil? No. It is beneficial for the Hyena pack and feeds them. It is harmful for the particular zebra. In evolutionary terms, it leads to faster and smarter zebras. It all evens out. Human animals evolved as omnivores. Eating meat promoted more biological fuel to an expanding brain. It made us what we are. Vegetarian apes remained in the trees, or bipedal apes like Australopithecus robust us and Australopithecus boisei were contemporaries of Australopithecus gracilis and Australopithecus gahri. The former were vegetarian. That makes them seem nice and cuddly. Gracilis and gahri scavenged meat and caught small animals for food. Those biped carnivorous/omnivorous hominids became us. The nice vegetarians A. boisei and A. robustus ended in extinction.

    What is right is relative to species and often painful or harmful to another species. The end results are a world of diversity and continued evolution.

    Everything that exists is natural. The unnatural or supernatural cannot be shown to exist. If we call the creator, God, it is rational to assume that he, she, or it is natural as well. Whether God is conscious and cognitive versus inanimate natural forces is a matter of human speculation.


    Amergin
     
  13. Thomas

    Thomas Well-Known Member

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    Hi Amergin —
    Surely a more logical and rational consideration would be that the Creator is prior to and greater than creation.

    Whether of not God exists, the answer would be the same.

    Does that invalidate ethics, compassion and intention as a human activity?

    Why? That's a determinate viewpoint. One might say nature just produces, and that which works, works, and that which doesn't, doesn't.

    In which case 'evolution' is a human construct, giving meaning and a value to something which exists more in the mind of the observer than the observed.

    No, rather everything you can measure you declare to be natural. Doesn't mean that other modes of existence don't exist, it just means you're limiting the possibility of existence to that which can be measured.

    Numbers don't 'exist' in themselves — they're a purely human intellectual construct which enables man to explain his world a certain way, but that is not the totality of the world, nor can the total experience of the world be reduced to an equation or a formula.

    No it's not, of course it's not. That's an irrational proposition.

    The very definition of the term 'God' says otherwise. Why must everything fall within the limitation you determine? It seems to me to be an intellectual conceit to insist that something must exist in a certain way, that is within your reach, so you can then declare it cannot exist, because you can't reach it.

    Existence was there before our determinations about it.

    Whether one can predicate this or that of anything is a matter of human speculation ... science is built on human speculation, and the empirical sciences are just one mode of testing speculations, according to certain pre-determined conditions ... but those pre-determined conditions cannot apply to every mode of speculation. Nor to every mode of experience.

    Amergin, you can't prove God doesn't exist, any more than you can prove He does. That points to the limitations of your science.

    God bless,

    Thomas
     
  14. Amergin

    Amergin New Member

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    Some of what was reported in the O.T. and the gospels may have some connection to reality. Some of it may be purely superstition and mythology. Nothing written about Jesus is from eyewitnesses. However, even eyewitness reports are not reliable. Think of how many Americans have been executed on eyewitness testimony, which was later debunked. Look how many people claim to see Bigfoot, Nessie, Flying Saucers, chupacabras, and Elvis. Clearly, eyewitness data is very unreliable. Eyewitness’s identification of a suspect in a police line-up quite often results in the charging of an innocent man.

    Eyewitness data passed down by oral stories a century later naturally will be unreliable and even some stories contradict the others. The "apostle" Paul claimed to see Jesus after Jesus died. We cannot take that as a fact because neuroscientists (other then me) mostly consider the Damascus road experience as a partial complex epileptic seizure with visual and auditory hallucination, motor shaking, falling down, and even transient loss of vision. Falling down suggest that Paul's Partial Complex was secondarily generalised into a clonic or tonic-clonic seizure which often has Todd's phenomena afterwards.

    Todd's Phenomena is the temporary neurological deficit produced by neuronal circuits transiently "exhausted" by the seizure. Todd's Phenomena can be transient motor weakness, transient memory deficit, visual loss, expressive or receptive aphasia, and focal sensory phenomena.

    Thus the entire biography of Jesus must be viewed through the telescope of passed down oral stories, later written by non-eye witnesses, and by a man suffering (an infirmity) epilepsy. If we have unreliable secondary eyewitness testimonials about very unlikely and improbable events (virgin birth, magical cures, and resurrection from true death.)

    Prior to today's high tech diagnosis of brain death, possibly millions of people have been declared dead only to awaken later. Jesus lost consciousness on the cross, and was hurriedly buried. He might not have been dead, just appeared dead (a very common error in the past.) Then his resurrection was more likely awaking from coma.

    Faith in Christian Mythology requires belief in the unlikely and improbable in the face of no reliable evidence.

    Amergin
     
  15. Amergin

    Amergin New Member

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    Oi, Thomas, you are right. The Creation (Big Bang) was preceded by something. Physicists agree on that now. We are not sure what it is/was. There were likely (in my opinion) forces of energy before those forces condensed into the singularity that exploded in the Big Bang. Long before that view became popular among scientists, I rationally thought that the Big Bang just was created and exploded by magic. Something had to precede it, and something else preceded that perhaps infinitely.



    True. Science is showing more and more of the mechanisms of the universe, the mechanisms leading to the arising of life in volcanic pools or deep ocean sea chimneys, and the processes of evolution. We know that evolution is driven by genetic mutations and production of more than replacement offspring. Death is necessary. Some animals kill and eat others, adaptation to climate changes, ecological disasters, and relocation of continents. We would not have evolved if not for sickness, climate challenges, and death. Survivors are the next stage of an animal line's continuation.

    If God existed, the scientific history of the Earth obviously occurred. If God did not exist, what happened, happened anyway. This is why the existence of God is unnecessary to explain what we know happened.



    It makes ethics a species specific naturally selected mental set. It is not ethical for us to kill another human. But it is ethical for us to kill a human who tries to kill us or our family, self-defence killing.

    We humans have compassion for other humans especially those most like us in ethnicity, skin colour, language, and belief. We lack compassion for killing termites with pesticides. We lack compassion for those we consider evil (Hitler, Gadaffy, or serial killers.) We lack compassion for farm animals that we raise, only to kill for food. We lack compassion for killing dangerous animals that prey on humans.We have intention in planning to provide housing, food, clothing and care of ourselves and out families.

    Hyenas are ethical in hunting-killing zebras, cattle, and humans for food. Hyenas have compassion for pack members and cubs, but not for baby lions, enemy hyena packs, or a lost human child.



    Aye.


    Evolution happens whether or not we observe and define it. Animals, plants, and fungi were being naturally selected for adaptable survivors long before human words or thinking came about 200,000 years or so ago. Our definition of the mechanism including genetic mutations, and ecological favouring some and eliminating other mutants is our mental construct for what we observe happening. It doesn't exist more in the mind of the observer than the natural phenomena. It would exist even in the absense of the observer.



    Of course, we can only measure that which is physical reality. That includes forms of energy and matter. We have no way to measure other modes of existence that may or may not exist such as gods and spirits. We can reasonably assume that something preceded the Big Bang but we cannot observe or measure it...yet. Everything that is not measurable, observable, visible, tangible, palpable, or audible. This remains in the thinking process as speculation.


    Numbers themselves are a mental concept. Most things that exist are multiple. As multiple we assign numbers to account for a quantity. This forms a working mental pattern for comparing one multiple group to another multiple group, distance in some kind of units, etc.
    .


    The God hypothesis does not need to fall into my limitations to call it existing. I have no limitations. Simply there is no indication of any kind that God exists. I cannot limit by definition that which is unseen, unheard, unfelt, unobserved in any way, not perceived by human senses or technology, and conceived only in human imagination. As you suggested by you above, God is unnecessary. That which is unseen and unnecessary is foolish to speculate upon.

    Aye.


    Most of science is not built on speculation. Most of it is built on observation of a phenomenon, and our attempts to test, investigate, and define it. Speculation enters only tangentially to the process when a theory is devised to explain the phenomenon based on the evidence.


    Aye, I cannot prove a negative proposition. I cannot prove or disprove that which is unseen, unheard, unfelt, unperceived, and unnecessary. God believe is 100% speculative. Claims of eyewitness encounters with God are unreliable and are inconsistent with similar claims about other hypothetical gods. I do not claim that God does not exist, it is illogical.


    Alban Bealltainn,

    Amergin
     
  16. bob x

    bob x New Member

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    It's not new. The Essenes proposed doing away with the lunar months (tracking the irrational number of days in a lunar cycle and independently irrational number of lunar months in a solar year was the great problem of ancient mathematics), making the months be four weeks, four weeks, and five weeks every quarter-year, so that every calendar-date had a fixed week-day (an added complexity to the Jewish calendar is to avoid particular clashes between holidays and Sabbaths: Yom Kippur on Tishri 10 can be a Saturday, as there is no conflict between the strictures on Yom Kippur and those on the Sabbath, but must not be Friday or Sunday, since that would mean two days in a row when no ordinary work could get done).

    The problems are that the solar year is not 52 weeks exact (that's 364 days, not 365 let alone 365 1/4) and that this system means a "leap day" could not be added, only a "leap week" (lengthening a four-week month to a five-week month once in a while would be OK, but slipping in a single day would destroy the fixed week-days of the holy days) and the intervals for that correction are hard to work out in a reasonable system (an extra week every 7th year is not enough; one every 6 years is not quite enough). Herod Agrippa did, we are told, give consideration to adopting this calendar officially, but only if the mathematics could be worked out: leaving the day-and-a-quarter-per-year discrepancy uncorrected would destroy the alignment of months with seasons too rapidly to ignore (Passover would have drifted back from spring equinox to winter solstice within one human lifespan; it is not like the Gregorian correction to the Julian calendar, which was a discrepancy that took millennia to do that much damage).

    It is not clear whether the Essene communities actually put their calendar into practice in the first place; if so, it cannot have run very long, or the problem with its rapid drift would have to have been addressed, and we are told that no solution to the problem was presented to Agrippa. Some authors (Humphreys is not the first) have claimed that this was the "ancient Jewish calendar" while the current Jewish calendar was a copy of the Babylonian: it is clear that the Jewish calendar did change sometime around the exile to conform more to the Mesopotamian model (New Years in the fall instead of the ancient spring; month-names copied; 19-year cycle for extra months adopted) but I think it clear that the ancient calendar was also lunisolar (the commandment "remember the new moon" appears in the Torah as often as "remember the Sabbath"), and it cannot possibly have been the 52-week calendar since that could have survived even one human lifespan without alteration.

    Moreover, the common assumption that Jesus and John the Baptist were Essene-like in their religious sympathies is not really tenable, as we get a fuller picture of what the Qumran texts tell us about the Essenes. There is one late passage excommunicating members of some sect, "Have nothing more to do with any follower of so-and-so", which could be antagonistic either to Christians or to Baptists, depending on who "so-and-so" is (of course, "so-and-so" could be somebody else entirely). But more strongly, there are passages which clarify what is going on in some Gospel passages, indicating that Jesus was, on some occasions, specifically rebuking Essene positions on interpreting the Law strictly. "Even if your lamb should fall into a well on the Sabbath, do not act to rescue him until the evening", says the Damascus Document: it is now clear that Jesus was not making up the example, but specifically contradicting the Essenes. We are also told not even to handle any coins which have human images on them: Herod Antipas issued coinage in his Galilee/Transjordan subkingdom without his picture, showing instead a scene of river reeds (John the Baptist seems to mocking this when he says "What did you come to see? A reed shaking in the wind?"); the "Render unto Caesar" passage, again, now reads as a specific refutation of the Essene position.

    My own resolution of the "Last Supper" problem I have posted before on this board, but to repeat: Mark often reads as if Greek is his second language; the Greek is not bad ("Revelation" is the only NT book with truly terrible Greek) but many sentences appear to be written by someone "thinking in Aramaic" and mentally translating very woodenly (Lamsa takes the position that the Aramaic Mark is actually the original, and the Greek text a translation; few support this, and I don't either, but translating Mark back into Aramaic from Greek was easy since it was often structured like Aramaic sentences to begin with). The key sentence is rendered into English (KJV) as "And after two days was the Passover." In Aramaic this would be the ordinary way to say "It was two days before Passover." In Greek, however, as in English, it would be more usual to understand this as meaning "And, two days later, it was Passover"; an editor of Mark who interpolated some verses ("And when they had killed the Passover lamb..." does not belong here; it seems to be an attempt to cover for the mysterious absence of lamb from the Last Supper's menu) took it that way, and Matthew and Luke have followed that misunderstanding, but Mark originally meant that the Last Supper was two days before the Passover meal, consistently with what John has to say. The Last Supper was on what we would call Thursday night, but Jews would call the eve of Friday, that is Friday the 13th of Nisan (the superstition that "Friday the 13th" arises because all medievals understood the chronology this way); the trial took place that night and into the morning, the crucifixion on Friday afternoon, and Jesus was in the tomb for Saturday the 14th (the "preparation day" when the Passover lamb is killed), getting up again on the morning of Sunday the 15th (the "feast day" of Passover proper).
    This is much my view as well. For example, Heron of Alexandria's expose' of how magic tricks are done includes seven ways of "turning water into wine" and numerous variants of the "horn of plenty" trick (bringing a lot of stuff out of a seemingly small and empty container, like the modern "endless scarves" or "rabbit out of a hat"); these seem to have been the standard repertoire of magicians at the time. The point of emphasizing, in John, that there were numerous multi-gallon stone jugs of water turned to wine, and in the synoptics, that "four" or "five" thousand people were fed with a small amount of food, appears to be showing that Jesus was much better than the standard magician.

    The "healing" stories, however, I take to be largely genuine. Just the fact that the name "Jesus" was quickly taken up by charlatan spell-casters is enough to indicate that he had quite the reputation as a healer. Now, we must bear in mind that even the kinds of healings we would regard as totally "natural" seemed "miraculous" to most people at the time (for example, in the OT we get quite circumstantial stories about Elisha using mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to revive a dying boy, and dealing with a poisonous herb in a soup-pot by applying the appropriate antidote; both described as miracles, rather than as good medical knowledge). The ability of Jesus to calm down raging lunatics could be attributed to a "good bedside manner" rather than to power over "demons" without taking anything away from the story. The blind man cured by an application of "clay and spittle" may be a slightly incomplete story: this could be filariasis ("river blindness") in which small parasites in the eye induce a thick encrustation; some unguents can relieve this, and Jesus may have had more ingredients to his poultice here than just clay and spit.

    But other cases may fall into that inexplicable category of "faith healings" of which we hear from other religions (the 6th Karmapa cured many plague sufferers by his touch, then died of the disease himself, his followers believing that he had voluntarily taken the sufferings of others) or people without religion (cancers sometimes just go into remission, for no medically known reason; sometimes these patients are religious, sometimes unbelievers, but the common factor is a strong will to live combined with a firm belief that they are going to recover). We do not know enough about the mind-body relationship to say anything meaningful here; those who deny that such things happen are just turning a blind eye, in my opinion; we can call them "supernatural" in the sense that they are beyond our current understanding of nature, although I do not much like the word "supernatural" in the first place (if it happens, then it is part of nature, even if it is a mysterious part of nature). The #1 "healing" miracle in the Jesus story is the Easter story, which I see as simply meaning that despite undergoing all those tortures, which certainly ought to have been sufficient to kill somebody, he had the strength to get up again: I do regard this as quite extraordinary, and do not blame the disciples for thinking that this was the most marvellous thing that had ever happened in history, but I do not put this event in some metaphysically different category from other events
    I don't have any particular resources different from anyone else has, although I draw my own conclusions from them. Yes, it is true that the "Go and sin no more" story, although it is among a lot of people's favorites, is not genuinely early, appearing first ~500, once in a manuscript of Luke (!) and then in John where currently found.

    The "Logos" essay at the start of John does not appear textually to belong (the line "This is the testimony of John" looks like the beginning of the book; similarly, the last chapter, about Jesus appearing in Galilee, looks like a tack-on, since the preceding sentences are a "wrap-up") and we have some indication of when it got added. Tatian composed ~150 the Diatessaron ("through four sources") harmonization of the gospels, using versions of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John which were not entirely the same as our present texts; unfortunately later copies of it were often "fixed" to make them match the standard text, and when the Pe****ta ("separated") translation of the four gospels (as four different books) became standard in the Syrian church, the Diatessaron was deliberately collected and burned (Bishop Theodoret boasts of how many hundreds of copies he managed to find and destroy). We have only excerpts, and four reasonably good copies, not one of them in the Aramaic language in which it was mostly circulated: the Greek manuscript is very incomplete; the Armenian manuscript is "overcomplete" (it is filled with commentaries, and there are no breaks between the text and the commentary, so we can't tell where there were extra verses in the Diatessaron and where there were comments added); the Arabic is reasonably good; and then there is a copy in Dutch (!) whose original was apparently Aramaic but translated by someone not totally competent in the language (we don't know the provenance, must assume that a Crusader brought some manuscript back from the East).

    So it's a problem to know what was, and wasn't, in Tatian's original, but when we find that the "Logos" was in some versions, it is more reasonable to assume it was lacking in the original, and added by some to "fix" it, rather than the reverse; we also get a citation of "In the Beginning was the Word" in Tatian's Oration to the Greeks in which it is introduced by the phrase "As it is said..." rather than "As it is written..." as we find before all other scriptural references. My opinion (shared by other scholars; this is not original with me but I don't have the patience to look up cites right now) is that the phrasing here indicates that the "Logos" hymn was liturgical at that time, a standard recitation in the churches of Asia Minor-- but not yet incorporated into the Gospel. The form of the piece fits well with the "call and response" style of much liturgy (PREACHER: "In the Beginning was the Word..." CONGREGATION: "And the Word was with GOD..." etc.), and in Pliny's letter to Trajan, Christian worship services are described as starting with "a hymn, addressed to this Jesus as to a god" and I agree with those who think the "Logos" hymn is what Pliny is referring to. Mind you, that custom of reciting those words in Asia Minor churches might very well have been started by the apostle John: I know nothing to contradict that; the fact (if it is a fact) that this piece of text was not attached to "the gospel" until after 150 does not mean that it was not ancient, or that it was not genuine.
     
  17. Thomas

    Thomas Well-Known Member

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    Hi Amergin —

    But why? If nothing existed, why does anything exist? Of course, the contrary answer is that energy eternally is.

    A science.
    The idea that God is conceived only in human imagination is not proved, nor that God is not perceived by human senses. That, might I suggest, is a limitation?

    I would say science speculates as an ongoing process. Science doesn't discover something, and stop, or settle with what it knows.

    I would say to posit the existence of God is logical; what is illogical is to insist that something that by definition is 'outside' the empirical process cannot exist. The empirical is one means of measurement by which we interact with the universe. To say it can and must be the only means of reference, implies the human construct is superior to the universe.

    God bless,

    Thomas
     
  18. Thomas

    Thomas Well-Known Member

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    Thanks Bobx, for a lengthy and informative post.

    God bless,

    Thomas
     
  19. wil

    wil UNeyeR1

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    I find this one interesting...

    We've got these thousands of folks..there...first they ask if they should go into town and buy food...that is incredible in itself, the treasury Jesus must have had for his disciples to even contemplate that. (also makes the Judas pieces of silver story interesting, as if greed was any motive, he could have just as easily run off with the till)

    I agree with the contention that this was just a question....the people were hungry, the leaders didn't have anything to feed them, but that doesn't mean they all weren't carrying something to make it through the day...So when the baskets went around with what they disciples had to offer, folks took out, or tossed in as it went around, and by the time the baskets came back, they were full of offerings of food for those that were feeding them spiritually...I see no miracle there.
     
  20. bob x

    bob x New Member

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    The question is often interpreted as being sarcastic: "OK, what's the plan? Do we got a hundred thousand bucks just lying around?"
    This is the usual "naturalist" interpretation of the story. The point in emphasizing the number of people seems to be excluding the other "naturalist" way that such a trick would be pulled off (magicians always wear these big showy robes-- so that they can have all kinds of stuff hidden inside).
     

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