Monday, March 16, 2009

Summa Inconstantia

Below is a brief summary of Jason's older and more recent arguments related to my supposed inconsistency with the NT and Josephus. A more detailed response is in the comment section here.

1-Since Josephus used assistants, Jon is unreasonable because he's "ignored" the use of an assistant for Paul.

My response: This argument just makes no sense at all.

2-Some scholars think Josephus is a liar.

My response: I think that's entirely possible, and I look for places where an author is biased to identify potential lies. Jason won't do the same with the NT, so it is Jason that is inconsistent on this point. But he has good reasons for that. To find out, merely "consult the archives of Triablogue." Hmm...kay.

3-Josephus may be guilty of an anachronism. Since Jon says Romans contains an anachronism and rejects Pauline authorship on this basis, he ought to also reject Josephus.

My response: Nonsense. Different anachronisms imply different things. Not all anachronisms imply forgery. If Romans is referring to the destruction of the temple then Paul didn't write it. If Josephus refers to events that occurred after he must have died, then I agree he couldn't have written about those events. If the evidence is good I'd accept it. You haven't come close to showing this.

4-Some call Josephus a liar. Jon calls Eusebius a liar, so he has to call Josephus a liar if a scholar suggests that he was.

My response: Despite the fact that this is not logical, I have no problem being open to Josephus being a liar. I don't concoct "how it could have been" scenarios to make Josephus honest as Jason does with Eusebius. Once again it is Jason engaging in a double standard.

5-Josephus has other various deficiencies, so Jon should reject him.

My response: I'm happy to reject many of his claims, just as I'm happy to reject many of the claims of the NT. I look for places where I expect biases and treat such things with skepticism. But Jason doesn't do this. Jason makes an exception for the NT and for any Christian historian as necessary to prop up his theories. He'll reject Irenaeus due to his biases on one issue (see Gene Bridges describe his motivations for the "Jesus living to the age of 50" here) and accept him despite his biases on others all to salvage his own apologetic . Again, Jason has a double standard. I'm consistent.

6-The manuscripts for the NT are earlier than the manuscripts for Josephus

My response: This is not the only factor in determining reliability.

7-Jon has argued for verisimilitude. Some things from Josephus could be understood as verisimilitude. If Jon was consistent he'd reject Josephus.

My response: This is entirely illogical. There's not much more that can be said on that.

8-Jon says that certain inconsistencies in Paul imply forgery. Josephus is sometimes inconsistent. Therefore Josephus must be spurious by Jon's standards.

My response: Nonsense. Different inconsistencies imply different things. See my more detailed response for a fuller discussion.

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