Thursday, November 16, 2006

Let me make something clear

One commentator (our friend, Steven Carr) writes on Internet Infidels (citing Bauckham in his interview here):

‘I do not think the Gospels were originally anonymous in more than the technical sense that the author’s name was not part of the opening text’.

[... Steven now adds:]

Well, I imagine that the author did know who had written it.
But having no name in the document is only technically anonymous, is it?
Richard Bauckham points out the 'carefully preserved list of the Twelve'
In fact there are contradictory 'carefully preserved' lists of the Twelve.
Has anybody read 'Jesus and the Eyewitnesses' to see if Bauckham comes up with any arguments more cogent than those on the blog?

Nice to read some feed back!

But that stupid blog, hey?! ;-)

I shall have a look at the precise evidence cited by Bauckham for ‘technical anonymity’ in due course. More importantly I want to register now that Bauckham spends almost an entire chapter dismantling the myth that the lists of the Twelve aren’t carefully preserved. Once again, I’ll cover that later.

As regards the last question, Jesus and the Eyewitnesses is not yet released. Soon – hopefully for the SBL meetings –, but not yet. However, and this is a main reason why I post, I think I ought to make something clear: In case you were wondering, Richard has given me permission to start this series on the book before publication. And I won’t be giving too much away (it is 500 pages after all!); I have already mentioned the reasons why I am detailing the first chapter in more depth. Rather than simply writing posts on Chrisendom so that there is an excuse not to buy the book and read it for yourselves I hope that my posts will ‘whet the appetite’ of those considering buying the book to dig into the details of the arguments for themselves. Richard can’t justify every bold claim in an interview - that is why he wrote the book -, and neither can I in this series - that would be copyright infringement!

Best bet is to buy the book ...

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At 11/17/2006 12:40 AM, Anonymous Jim said...

What exactly is in internet infidel anyway. I know what a regular infidel is (someone without faith). So is an internet infidel someone who has no faith in the internet?

If that's so, why are they both using and commenting on something they don't believe in?

Anyway, if they are that unclear about their own standing in terms of what they don't believe in, can you really take seriously any implication that they don't trust you to fairly represent Bauckham?

At 11/17/2006 12:54 AM, Anonymous Chris Tilling said...


"If that's so, why are they both using and commenting on something they don't believe in?"

Maybe they are 'putting the internet to the test'

At 11/17/2006 3:54 AM, Anonymous Bilbo Bloggins said...

Chris and Jim,

An Internet Infidel is an evangelical atheist. As such, Carr's circuit is primarily the comments section of every theistic blog he can find. He's a bit of a bottom-feeder. He knows he will never reach the apex of freethinker stardom and preach consistently at their mega-church (e.g. publish articles to The Secular Web or with Prometheus press), but he does faithfully mingle in the pews (their message board). If you follow him around the blogs a bit, you'll see that he'll post the same thing over and over again. He really loves to harp on the "last Adam became a life giving Spirit" comment by Paul in 1 Cor. and you'll see him point this out everywhere the opportunity arises (because a solely spiritual resurrection = no empty tomb in his mind). But sometimes he'll contradict himself and attempt to argue, ala Richard Carrier's theory, that Jesus had a completely new resurrection body that was discontinuous with his earthly body (because no continuity between bodies = no empty tomb). Same end, contradictory means...He doesn't really care.

His mind operates in a somewhat random and incoherent manner, always contradicting itself, failing to understand anything and everything said by anyone (often even himself), and spontaneously generating red herrings like so many fluctuations in the quantum vacuum. Despite all the mildly annoying chaos that he generates, the outcome is always predictable as the over-arching directive is the very simple and singular-goal-oriented "refute Christianity by any means necessary". He'll get a good thrashing from anyone naive enough to interact with him and then retreat quickly to the next blog repeating the same arguments. Even if he just serves to obfuscate or distract, he feels like he's been part of the cause.

I'm a bit of an observer - on the web and in the great outdoors - and watching Steve reminds me a bit of a hungry young bear cub at a garbage dump. Not patient or learned enough to catch fish at the stream, he may slosh around in a puddle of pudding unwittingly attracting a swarm of flies to his face, cut his tongue after hastily thrusting it into an empty soup can, or even break a tooth gnawing on an old rubber tire. There's no specific menu or diet here - as long as he staggers off clumsily with a rancid belly-full of rottens, he's content. Filthy and satisfied once again, yet none the wiser for it.

About better comprehending Bauckham's argument by actually reading the book....Of course, that shouldn't need saying. But Carr doesn't care. He's a nitpicker. He couldn't comprehend the grand sweep of an argument like this, let alone deal with it in detail, even if it were actually something he was interested in doing. Rather, he'll spend the next few years snipping a few quotes from reviews, or knocking down general statements about the book made by Bauckham or others. He did the same thing with Wright's work on the resurrection which he shows no evidence of having read to this day. He might even buy the book, but, after he's violently disrobed it of its shiny book jacket and roughed it up a bit in his ritual act of agression, he'll demote it to the most remote corner of his shelf, where its mere presence will torment him daily. He'll derive satisfaction from daydreaming about the dust mites gnawing away at the edges of its pages, weakening its powers.
There it will sit, until its percieved aura of evil fades enough for Carr to muster up the courage and crack it open for just a few seconds -- just long enough for him to quickly lift a quote out of context, scamper away frantically, and save it to his computer where he'll search for opportunities to spam it alongside his muddled "rebuttal", all over his favorite Christian blogs for years to come.

And this is the way of the "internet infidel".


At 11/17/2006 7:15 AM, Anonymous byron smith said...

That's quite a tale you spin there, Bilbo. Care to reply, Stephen?

At 11/17/2006 7:31 AM, Anonymous Steven Carr said...

If the lists of the Twelve are carefully preserved, why do they differ from one Gospel to the next?

Why does Mark never name any sources, say where he is writing, for whom, etc?

Has Bauckham found *any* other complete text from ancient history , purporting to be historical , which does not mention the author's name

Does Bauckham think there is one single piece of eyewitness testimony in any non-canonical work written by a Christian?

Why did other Christians (apart from the NT writers) systematically ignore the 'eye-witnesss' testimony, preferring just to make things up about Jesus?

At 11/17/2006 7:33 AM, Anonymous Steven Carr said...

There is no contradiction between Paul saying Jesus became a spirit and Paul thinking the resurrected Jesus had a body made of spirit.

I think that was the only substantive point in Bilbo's post.

At 11/17/2006 7:39 AM, Anonymous Steven Carr said...

Presumably Bauckham is going to claim that some people had two names, so the fact that somebody is called Matthew in one list, and Levi in the other is no evidence that the lists are different.

And presumably he will come up with ZERO evidence that these particulat people actually did have these particular different names.

At 11/17/2006 10:34 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


I've had a bit of Carr trouble over at my blog. Almost every time I post on the resurrection he pops up with his comments, just as bilbo bloggins says. (What a perceptive litle Hobbit!)

I've suggested that he reads McGrath's The Twilight of Atheism or Dawkins' God, but he doesn't seem to have an open enough mind to read critiques of his position.

At 11/17/2006 1:45 PM, Anonymous Steven Carr said...

McGrath doesn't have any critiques of my position. Certainly nobody has found any arguments in McGrath's books that they can use.

And why should I not remind Christians that Paul wrote 'the last Adam became a life-giving spirit'.

After all, the Bishop of Durham never quotes that in full in his 'Resurrection' book, so clearly they find even quoting it very uncomfortable.

At 11/17/2006 7:51 PM, Anonymous joshua said...

i have no comments on the infidel, but I do know that you attempt to encourage the books purchase was succesful. I bought it this morning from our university store.

At 11/18/2006 12:03 PM, Anonymous Chris Tilling said...

Glad to hear it Joshua!

Steven, let me quote you:

"And presumably he will come up with ZERO evidence that these particulat people actually did have these particular different names"

"Certainly nobody has found any arguments in McGrath's books that they can use."

Do you realise how you sound when you write stuff like this? Like a Fundamentalist not interested in learned debate, but rather to make pronouncements against 'stupid people'. You're only making yourself look silly, so please try to dialogue.

However, one or two of your questions may be in other people's minds and though I don't have much time now I'll try to engage with them as I proceed through the series when it is appropriate.

At 11/18/2006 2:49 PM, Anonymous Steven Carr said...

I was merely stating facts.

People who praise McGrath's books about atheism don't use any of the arguments in them. Why not? If they are so good?

And Bauckham *will* come up with zero evidence that for example, Matthew had another name of Levi.

As for not being interested in learned debate, have you read Bauckam's pdf at

I simply could not believe how bad it was, how totally lacking it is in any idea of producing a testable hypothesis and testing it against actual data, or exploring the explanatory power of one hypothesis against another.

Instead Bauckham just pulls stuff out of thin air, such as claiming that Bartimaeus died in between Mark writing and Luke writing.

Apart from making things up, Bauckham also selects his evidence to fit what he says.

Bauckham writes 'In no case does a character unnamed in Mark gain a name in Matthew or Luke'.

What about Annas and Caiaphas , I hear you cry?

Well , Bauckham says he is excluding chief priests.

Why? Why should chief priests not be relevant to Bauckham's hypothesis that people were named if they were well known to Christians at the time of writing.

Silence. There is NO methodology.

Unless Bauckham cooked the data by ignoring chief priests simply so he could claim 'In no case does a character unnamed in Mark gain a name in Matthew or Luke'.

Well, if you are going to ignore cases where that does happen, you can certainly claim there are no cases where that does happen.

But you either have to cook the data to do it, or explain why you are making the selection that you do.

There is a discussion at if anybody wants to defend Bauckham.

Making stuff up and cooking the data.

Such is the state of NT scholarship....

By the way, you pronounce 'Byrskpg' just as it is written :-)

At 11/21/2006 12:44 AM, Anonymous byron smith said...

Well, despite five lengthy comments, it looks like Steven hasn't responded to Bilbo.


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