Refuting Jake, part 3
This is the final installment (for now) of my examination of the comments of an atheist named Jake on my other site:
Also, the Talmudic references to Christ are dated possibly to between 70 and 200 A.D., but more than likely from between 200-500 A.D. These are hardly contemporary. Moreover, there are several possible references to Christ, not “one” as you claim. In addition, the facts stated in the Talmud dispute the Biblical account. Christ being hanged and not crucified is one example.
That’s easy to refute. First, writing was tedious and not undertaken lightly back in the first century. Therefore, committing something to paper usually took years. Normally, oral tradition was done first. This explains the disparity in the dates. For the time, this was contemporary.
Second, the “facts” in the Talmud would dispute the Biblical account; that was the point to writing them. We would expect nothing less. Your example is flawed, however, since “crucifixion” and “hanging” were the exact same thing in Roman Empire terms. Look at Galatians 3:12-14–Paul uses that same terminology to describe Christ’s death.
Finally, just for the record: I hate to say it, but Lee Strobel’s books are regarded as a joke as far as apologetics go. He does nothing to examine legitimate evidence for any of his books’ subjects. Far better apologetics can be found elsewhere.
I’ll grant you that. Strobel attempts to make the heady subject of apologetics accessible to a general audience, and he waters it down quite a bit. However, the folks that he interviews are experts in their respective fields and have done much to further the study of apologetics. Strobel presents a good primer to the study of apologetics and by reading the books of his interview subjects and the recommended reading at the end of each of his chapters, one can get a much better understanding of the issues he raises.
That was the end of Jake’s first comment. He left two more.
I realized that I misspoke: which books comprise the Apocrypha is not universal across Christianity, and therefore. it was incorrect of me to imply that the Apocrypha were rejected by all of Christianity. The Catholic church (as well as a number of other groups, most typically the Orthodox sects) still includes several gospels in their New Testament that are not found in the Protestant Bible (the same goes for some OT books). I meant to say that these are rejected by Protestants, which greatly diminishes their reliability as sources. At the very least, it seems inappropriate for a Protestant author to cite them as evidence for martyrdom of the apostles when the remainder of the information in these gospels is rejected.
First of all, the apocrypha that the Catholics accept and Protestants reject is seven books of the Old Testament. The four-fold gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John are universal across Christianity. Only the Jesus Seminar treated the Gospel of Thomas as canonical. Rejecting something as apocryphal only reduces its value for determining Christian doctrine. It still deserves consideration as a historical document, provided it is near enough to the time to produce useful eyewitness information.
Further, the twenty-seven traditional New Testament books are also universal across Christianity. There are no books of the first century or second century that receive consideration from any denomination for inclusion in the canon.
Finally, I was citing church tradition, not specific documents, for the martyrdom of the apostles. I referred to this article for further information on the deaths of the apostles.
Jake’s final comment:
The books commonly referred to as the apocrypha are Old Testament books rejected by Protestantism but accepted by Catholics and various Orthodox groups. Various other sources, like the Gnostic gospels or the Acts of Phillip, are generally universally rejected and remain apocryphal to all faiths. Nevertheless, some traditions about the deaths of the apostles come from such rejected works.
Consequently (and what I really meant to say), I think it inappropriate for a Protestant author to cite works that are rejected by some or all Christian faiths, as the veracity of such works is questionable at best.
Again, I cite church tradition, not specific sources. There are plenty of orthodox works from the same time period where this information may have come from, works that are not considered apocryphal by any means. Letters from early church fathers, historians, or apologists would not be considered apocryphal and therefore would be useful for my purpose.