Why Do We Trust Ancient Texts as Accurate?

Discussion in 'Belief and Spirituality' started by Devils' Advocate, Jan 3, 2016.

  1. A Cup Of Tea

    A Cup Of Tea An ordinary cup of tea

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    Your continuous comments on the person you are discussing with are getting really tiresome, you accuse people of this and that without any rhyme or reason. I don't know what sort of discussions you are used to but this is not the place for them. We share our views on the topic, we try to respect the person we discuss with and we don't get any points for winning because there is no such thing.
    Please clam down.
     
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  2. Thomas

    Thomas Well-Known Member

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    Yes he has. Ehrman's view is hardly mainstream. A broad range of scholarship disputes or dismisses his claims.

    I'm not trashing anyone. You need to calm down.

    Oh dear, this does rather show a degree of historical assumption:
    1: I have never advanced a Platonic influence on Scripture, so stop putting words into my mouth.
    2: There is no Platonic influence on Scripture. Matthew is sound Jewish scholarship. Mark is Aramaic and not really a scholar in any sense. Luke is an educated Greek and uses the Greek literary trope of the journey on which to built his testimony, but he's not a Platonist. John is steeped in Jewish mysticism. Paul again likewise.
    3: The very fact of the Arian disputes, the accusations against Clement and Origen, Irenaeus wrote what is effectively a Catechism and was not a scholar at all ... Augustine who was a Platonist but moved on ... Right through to St Maximus who recast the Platonic 'stasis-kinesis-genesis' to read 'genesis-kinesis-stasis' to bring it into line with Christian Scripture, the evidence is clear and undeniable that the Fathers were Plutonists whose views were reshaped according to Scripture, they did not shape Scripture to suit Plato.
    4: Most tellingly, there was no such institution as 'the Roman church' in the times we're discussing. And the majority of Fathers were Greek, the Latins only a few. The dogmas and doctrines were formulated in the first seven ecumenical councils, which were largely Greek in tenor.

    Here lies the heart of what I see as your error. The Fathers used the philosophical language of the day to defend and explain the foundations of traditional Christianity, but those foundations are Scriptural, not Platonic. If your thesis was correct, then Arianism might well have been the doctrine, or if not that then the Trinity would have conformed to emanationism, because Platonism is basically emanationism.

    Yes it does: "And concerning baptism, baptize this way: Having first said all these things, baptize into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, in living water. But if you have not living water, baptize into other water; and if you can not in cold, in warm. But if you have not either, pour out water thrice upon the head into the name of Father and Son and Holy Spirit." (Chapter 7). The resurrection is spoken of in chapter 16.

    They are not without merit, but the citations are the opinions of theologians, and not conclusive, and many of the assertions have been soundly rebutted.

    You continue to use groundless claims of 'personal attacks' which, having been at IO for many years, is invariably the path taken by those who're floundering, in an attempt to shift the argument onto a personal level and avoid the issues and play, and discuss matters without personal involvement. You have continually referred to scholars who do not follow your line as 'revisionist' and various other pejorative terms, and I've never pulled you up for it, I've simply ignored out, where you seem to be looking for the opportunity to claim offence.

    As I have said before and often, I wish BobX was here. He had a better grasp of the history, the documents and the the disputes than you and I, and he could really put me on the spot and make me sweat, and we discussed matters at length, but neither side ever fell into personal attack or claims of abuse. He taught me a lot, and more than once damped the flame of my ardour and taught me to read wider and with an open mind.

    I really think he enjoyed scholarship for scholarship's sake. I fear you simply do just as you are so happy to declare of others, you tow your party line, offer a revisionist history and an apologia for your own philosophical position which is not mainstream not does it enjoy much support outside American liberal Christian circles.

    I might add the Jesus Seminar and those who promoted it is, today, largely discredited for its unscholarly methodology, so I don't hold much store by them.
     
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  3. Devils' Advocate

    Devils' Advocate Well-Known Member

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    Shuny I have to agree with Tea that you seem to see disagreements as a personal attack on your arguments. This surprises me as you seem to have a solid foundation in scientific thinking and critical reasoning. As such you should know that attacking a person's arguments is not the same thing as attacking the person. This is the very foundation of constructive argument. Yes your views have merit - from your point of view. But if nothing else these discussions have highlighted, it is that rational people can have different views on the merit of recognized scholars. Having a different opinion of scholar x's thinking is not trashing anyone. It is a different point of view.

    And lest you might think that I am an apologist for Thomas and his views. He and I could not be further apart in our belief systems. He is a confirmed theist; I am of the modernistic deistic belief. I.E. that there are no gods. Or any entity beyond the sum of what we call reality. That the entire universe is a unity expressed in gazillions of particles of matter and energy.
     
  4. shunyadragon

    shunyadragon everything is in pencil

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    The post you responded to was specific and to the point. It was Thomas who made the statement to pull out. Thomas is also the one trashing scholars, because he does not agree with them. He needs to calm down and address the arguments of the scholars, and not personally attack them for what they believe. No, none of the scholars he has referred to have been discredited Attacking the person and not their specific argument is well known fallacy.

    My only problem was his use of 'side show,' and in response to him I chalked that up to culture difference in the use of English. I have not personally attacked any scholar. I have posted my view and disagreements.
     
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2016
  5. shunyadragon

    shunyadragon everything is in pencil

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    My ony specific disagreement w
    The views you seem to support represent more a strong agnostic atheist and not deism, which would acknowledge a Creator God, though detached from Creation.

    My only specific disagreement with Thomas was his use of 'side show,' which I objected to.

    I have not trashed opposing scholars as Thomas has, because I disagreed with them
     
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2016
  6. A Cup Of Tea

    A Cup Of Tea An ordinary cup of tea

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    If your not interested in taking the criticism of your fellow posters to heart, that's up to you, but I hope you understand that people will be less willing to discuss topics with you if they feel that you make everything personal.
     
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  7. shunyadragon

    shunyadragon everything is in pencil

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    The main stream you are referring to, 'good scholarship,' is a narrow view of apologetic believers. They will of course, dismiss his claims, because he does not tow the establishment line. There is no reason to dismiss his scholarship for this reason. The same is true for the scholarship of the Jesus Seminar and Crossman.

    Yes you did, referred negatively to Ehrman's religious beliefs when dismissing him as a scholar.



    The words are your own, you acknowledged the the church fathers were Platonists. The view of a literal Genesis as believed by most of the church fathers is based on a Platonic view of Creation.

    Disagree.


    I do not believe this necessarily describes a literal Trinity of 'three persons,' many including some churches and the Baha'i Faith interpret this as three spiritual natures of God. The literal Trinity came later. Also, the lack of original manuscripts, the range dating, and like the gospels, they could have been edited over time.


    They disagree, which does not amount to being 'soundly rebutted.'

    I believe you are guilty of this.


    Here again I disagree, accusations by the establishment apologetic scholarship, does not in itself discredit the Jesus Seminar, as with Ehrman and Crossman.
     
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2016
  8. Devils' Advocate

    Devils' Advocate Well-Known Member

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    You are speaking of Classical Deism in this quote. And you are quite correct. There are other more modern versions however. Quite a number of them actually, although all have relatively small followings. The one I follow, is called Pandeism, a combination of Deism and Pantheism. Although it is a 'modern' version, the initial thoughts on this aspect of Deism go all the way back to Pliny the Elder. Specifically in his treatise on natural history.
     
  9. Thomas

    Thomas Well-Known Member

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    If that's how you want to describe it. This 'narrow view of apologetic believers' is still a far broader school than the American liberal Christian school to which Ehrman, Crossan, Spong et al. belong, and their methodology has not raised eyebrows or invited the criticism of the Seminar.

    There is when it's demonstrably poor.

    Yep. Doesn't mean they Platinized Christianity, which is your claim.

    Not in the least.

    The Platonic model is emanationist, and can be outlined by the process stasis-kenesis-genesis/

    In this souls, believed to be eternal, existed in a state of bliss in the contemplation of the Divine (rest - stasis), but turned its gaze from God (movement - kinesis), and to arrest this potentially infinite fall away from the Real, the True, the Good into what can only be less real, less true, less good, and so on, the material world was created (genesis) to catch and contain the falling soul or spark, and establish it in such manner as it can begin to reverse the process and begin its ascent back to its primordial perfection.

    The stasis-kinesis-genesis model underpins all Platonic thinking. Some Fathers followed this, notably Origen, and later Arius, but the teaching was anathematised. The doctrinal model follows Scripture, not Plato.

    Generally Platonism is said to be an emanationist doctrine. The view of the majority of the Fathers was not emanationist, and Christian doctrine certainly isn't: creatio ex nihilo. Some Fathers were emanationists, but their views did not carry into doctrine. (Some have said there's intimations of creatio ex nihilo in Plato's Timaeus, but that's a matter of debate). So I'm not sure what aspect of Platonism you think shaped doctrine. Not the creation of the world or the creation of the individual soul. Nor the world view generally.

    Immaterial. For them, and for doctrine, it does.
     
  10. shunyadragon

    shunyadragon everything is in pencil

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  11. Ahanu

    Ahanu Well-Known Member

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    o_O


    Guys, I think you should start another thread. What does any of this have to do with the question below?

    "Why Do We Trust Ancient Texts as Accurate?"

     
  12. shunyadragon

    shunyadragon everything is in pencil

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    The influence of Greek philosophy of the time, for example Platonism, and Aristotle's view of the cosmos influenced scripture and the interpretation. For the accuracy and relevance of the scripture of the time did not make the scripture irrelevant at the time, but for today ancient scripture is now deficient and inaccurate. This one of the reasons for progressive revelation.
     
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2016
  13. EdgyDolmen

    EdgyDolmen Active Member

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    Several people have spent a great deal of time and verbiage on the subject of ancient text. Ancient minds disagreed about many subjects too. How many variants would we get if we asked the finest thinkers of antiquity questions on basic science: (for example) How do living systems reproduce or what are the various lights in the night sky, etc? There would be a confounding lack of consensus on these matters. Even though there was no shortage of brilliant minds in the ancient world, they simply lacked the tools to determine the answers to certain questions. Seems their ignorance of most physical truths placed understanding and therefore explanation beyond their immediate ability.

    Why do people trust ancient text as accurate? Well, the value of ancient text (as it applies to holy books) may inspire but it does seem to me only sensible to study current text of the living present for the rational...
     
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  14. shunyadragon

    shunyadragon everything is in pencil

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    I would consider the Pantheism (Deism) of Pliny the Elder and Lucretius to be similar, and God(s) in their view is so impotent and powerless, here likely is no God in terms of a God who Creates like Thomas Jefferson supposedly publicly believed, and Pantheism is basically the physical universe is God. I do believe philosophers like Pliny the Elder, Lucretius, were hedging atheism because it was not acceptable at the time and may even bring down the wrath the Roman State. Thomas Jefferson and other Deists of Early American history also hedged, because they would also be subject to the wrath of the State if they proclaimed their atheism. They did speak more frankly in private conversations. Being to some degree politically correct had its political advantages.
     
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2016
  15. Devils' Advocate

    Devils' Advocate Well-Known Member

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    Yep.

    Yep. Yep.

    'Hedging' suggests they faked their belief in Pandeism to avoid coming out as atheists. Not the case at all. The belief that the universe is God; there is no separate Divine entity is a middle ground between traditional theism and modern atheism. It also, I believe, reflects the nature of reality more accurately. Terrible things happen to people. Wonderful things happen to people. There is no divine bad guy to blame and no loving all knowing entity to appeal to. What happens in the universe stays in the universe!
     
  16. shunyadragon

    shunyadragon everything is in pencil

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    The broader school does include Ehrman, Crossan, Spong, Jesus Seminar et al, without refuting one nor another. The broadly anecdotal differences make any effort refute one nor the other an illusion.

    You have not demonstrated it as poor. Your assertions only demonstrate the obvious that they are different.

    It is not my claim. I believe the scripture and interpretations Christianity are Platonic influenced, and the .


    Not necessarily so . . .

    The attempts were to harmonize was distinctly the case. and not rejecting one for another.
     
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2016
  17. Stevegp

    Stevegp Member

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    When the question is asked "why do we trust ancient texts as accurate", the next question could be what is meant by "trust" and "accurate"? The word "trust" implies some method to determine veracity. What would that be? Accuracy could mean that the text somehow gets the ontology and/or soteriology "right". Given the significant diversity in both ontology and soteriology in the ancient texts perhaps there are several approaches that could be entertained. One might be to look for certain commonalities within the diversity (i.e. the golden rule, compassion, etc. ) but these seem more operational than ontological. If that is unsatisfying then another approach would be to wonder if a specific text got it just right whereas the others didn't quite. But in this case, which text are we talking about? Let's take a look at the Bible for instance. I remember from my youth that some people were saying that the King James Bible was the only legitimate revelatory resource. Then some said you have to get back to the original Greek or Hebrew to be accurate. Then the question arises what about the canonical differences between Bibles. So which scripture are we talking about? I'm sure the same issue can arise with the other ancients texts. The desire to find some pristine revelatory resource would seem impractical because of all this.

    Now, what is this trust issue all about? Well, clearly there are existential issues at stake, some more operational and some more ontological. These can become particularly acute when claims are made that there are serious implications for getting it wrong. If you get it wrong do you go to hell or continue in suffering for many, many lives? If taken seriously then this can put a lot of pressure on a person to get it right and on proponents of a particular belief system to demonstrate that it is right. This leads to all sorts of qualifying "formulas" that "get you in" (i.e. "Do you accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior?", or are you doing some ritual or living exactly right). This also can lead to the need for a particular system to not have anything problematic within it because if there are "flaws" doesn't this cast doubt on the whole thing?

    Now I'm not sure where this notion of the importance of "getting it exactly right" comes from, but it was evident even in ancient times where rituals had to be done exactly right in order for them to be efficacious. I would suggest that it stems from personality types. Some personality types loath ambiguity and uncertainty and others have no problem with it or even relish it. And clearly not all religious systems or segments of such put that much emphasis on getting things exactly right. Here again perhaps adherents gravitate to religious beliefs that fit their personality. What I think is unfortunate are the claims that "getting it wrong" has such enormous existential implications. Certainly, it can be important from a personal perspective to find a belief system that is fulfilling and guiding but when a stark fear of consequence is introduced it can lead to all sorts of personal and social problems.
     
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2016
  18. Devils' Advocate

    Devils' Advocate Well-Known Member

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    Awesome post, Steve.
     
  19. Devils' Advocate

    Devils' Advocate Well-Known Member

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    I have a thought on where the importance of getting it right came from. Going back to the earliest times and thru the earliest civilizations, getting rituals right could really mean life or death. Priests observing the solstices at Stonehenge because it accurately marked the beginning and end of seasons. Priests in Egypt with rituals about the Nile to know when it was time to plant crops. All over the world ancient people learned to identify dates important to what they should be doing to enhance their survival.

    Since these date references were so important, it would make sense that a subgroup would be given responsibility to remember this knowledge and to pass it on accurately to later generations. Over time it was forgotten how this information was initially found secularly, and the class of those who knew the knowledge were seen to hold magical powers to make these events take place rather than just remembering the right time. This class within the community became even more important that they attained special status within the community. Religious status.
     
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  20. shunyadragon

    shunyadragon everything is in pencil

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    As far as the Deism of our forefathers like Thomas Jefferson were more open about the rejection of traditional views of God in private letters than their public statements and Ethan Allen was clearly totally antagonistic toward the Christian concept of God and Theism. I realize there is some conjecture here, but I believe there is some basis for this, because of the difference between their public statements and private correspondence.

    Deism in the extreme of Pliny, Lucretius, our founding fathers leaves little if any consideration of a meaningful God. Likewise pantheism gives no basis for a 'Source' of anything beyond simply the natural nature of of our existence.
     

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