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What is it that makes the history of religion fact?


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When it comes to the history of religions, where to we get the facts from to establish that the things which happened really did happen? It's just that a lot of people are a bit skeptical to take the word of the Bible or the Torah as being historical evidence for things which happened in the past and I'm just curious. When it comes to history, how do we distinguish between what we know as fact and what we are uncertain of? What is it that makes the history of religion fact? I mean is it based on archaelogical evidence or through the letters from ancient peoples that have been uncovered? How do we know that Jesus existed? I mean whenever I read information from the net is it confirmed history? And what processes do we go through to confirm that something indeed happened in the past?

Edited by Voltman
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When it comes to the history of religions, where to we get the facts from to establish that the things which happened really did happen? It's just that a lot of people are a bit skeptical to take the word of the Bible or the Torah as being historical evidence for things which happened in the past and I'm just curious. When it comes to history, how do we distinguish between what we know as fact and what we are uncertain of? What is it that makes the history of religion fact? I mean is it based on archaelogical evidence or through the letters from ancient peoples that have been uncovered? How do we know that Jesus existed? I mean whenever I read information from the net is it confirmed history? And what processes do we go through to confirm that something indeed happened in the past?

 

the answer is 'the bible says so'. now, this is enough for people who believe in the bible but for others more evidence is needed.

 

all we have evidence for is that yes, there was an influential jewish preacher called jesus and that he was crucified. as for turning water into wine, resurrection even the gathering at his birth, zilch except for stories written centuries later

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the answer is 'the bible says so'. now, this is enough for people who believe in the bible but for others more evidence is needed.

 

all we have evidence for is that yes, there was an influential jewish preacher called jesus and that he was crucified. as for turning water into wine, resurrection even the gathering at his birth, zilch except for stories written centuries later

 

So, this is actually considered factual evidence?

What do we do when, say the Bible says this however the Koran says something else?

Edited by Voltman
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There are many written sources from Antiquity which affirm perfectly ordinary and reasonable things that we know now were not true. Respectable writers such as Strabo, Herodotus, Thycidides, etc., often report things which archeological evidence or the weight of other sources do not support, so ancient texts are known to be minimally reliable.

 

Also, with increasing historical distance, our ability to discern accurately what was happening even in a given decade with respect to huge armies or vast migrations of peoples is highly limited, so the notion that we can know with certainty that one man escaped post-mortem from one specific tomb on a certain day is as historiographically ridiculous as the notion that we can see people waving to us from Jupiter is astronomically ridiculous.

 

But even imagine that you were somewhere in the crowd in Judea in 28 A.D. and saw some hysterical preacher purport to transform water into wine, would you even feel you had sufficient grounds to believe it even then? Wouldn't you have to perform a chemical analysis of the transformation under controlled conditions before you would lend any credence to such an astonishing claim? And if someone in an age of mysteries and superstitions sought to enhance the authority of his teaching by claiming that he had emerged post-mortem out of a tomb which was owned and provided by a follower of his movement, and which thus may well have had a hidden rear exit, would you believe it even if you lived in the Roman province of Judea at that time? If you would have doubted it then and there, how can it even begin to count as evidence today?

 

Generally, the whole premise of religious miracles is laughable. It is as though someone were to step up before a crowd, tell some unpersuasive story about the moral meaning of the universe, and then when the crowd started to shake its head and turn away in disgust, he were to say, "Wait! Wait! Look, you have to believe me! I can pull a rabbit out my hat! See! (pulls out the rabbit) Now you have to believe me!"

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no the bible is not considered factual evidence by anyone other than the people who believe that the bible is the infallable word of god.

Not entirely true. In the case of New Testament studies, portions of the New Testament, such as Paul's undisputed epistles and Acts, are considered to be useful historical tools. Paul's epistles were likely written by Paul himself, so they are useful as historical records of Paul's activities and beliefs. Acts is used to fill in the gaps.

 

Now, if you want to ask about Jesus' life, the four Gospels will give you contradictory and incomplete information, so they're regarded as sort of a vague guide with frequent errors.

 

The Old Testament, particularly the books on the history of the Israelites, is useful for other reasons. Archaeology and other ancient sources give us a decent picture of Israel's history, and the books of the Old Testament record the ideological and religious reaction to major events in that history. 1 Maccabees, for example, is a book in the Apocrypha (i.e. Catholic Bible but not Protestant Bible), and was written during the Maccabean kingdom after the Jewish revolt against the Seleucids. One can't trust it as a source of detailed information about the revolt, but it tells us a lot about Jewish religious reactions to their domination and freedom. (When your entire religion is based on your God protecting your people in the Chosen Land, being conquered by another empire leaves you with some important religious questions.)

 

But even imagine that you were somewhere in the crowd in Judea in 28 A.D. and saw some hysterical preacher purport to transform water into wine, would you even feel you had sufficient grounds to believe it even then? Wouldn't you have to perform a chemical analysis of the transformation under controlled conditions before you would lend any credence to such an astonishing claim? And if someone in an age of mysteries and superstitions sought to enhance the authority of his teaching by claiming that he had emerged post-mortem out of a tomb which was owned and provided by a follower of his movement, and which thus may well have had a hidden rear exit, would you believe it even if you lived in the Roman province of Judea at that time? If you would have doubted it then and there, how can it even begin to count as evidence today?

Belief in magic was incredibly common. I think the more popular reaction to someone turning water into wine would be questioning the source of their magical powers -- they claim to get this power from God, but surely they're a heretic inhabited by a demon!

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On some things the Bible might be the only source that talks about a certain event, so there might be nothing to contradict nor support the event. Most people would assume that uninteresting events recounted in the Bible are probably more or less accurate, since random lying really isn't very beneficial. For miraculous things one might require much higher standards of evidence (since we don't see proper miracles nowadays), and for things that make the Israelites look good one might question the the motivations (potential for bias and nationalistic exaggeration). But anyone trusting any one source is a fool. Like with any other source, sometimes other sources talk about the same events directly or indirectly, and then you can compare agreement among the various sources (which might be writings or actual remains).

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We know what the bible says is fact, the same way we know Troy existed. Archeology, geology and related sciences are uncovering the past all the time. However just because Troy did exist and the battle actually did happen, that does not make the stories of the Greek gods fact.

 

We knew of Troy because of Homer and what we call Greek mythology. In ancient times mythology and history fact are all mixed up. The Torah, and therefore, the Christian bible and Koran are like Homer's stories, a mix of fact and fiction.

 

I love when science proves a biblical story true, but many Christians resent this science. You know the plagues that hit Egypt. They started with a volcano and huge ash cloud that changed the weather, causing a problem with the river, causing the frogs to die , causing uncontrolled insect population growth and disease. Religious people resent this interference of science, for the same reason Athens ordered Socrates to drink the Hemlock, because he encourage youth to question the truth of the gods. You see, religion as Greek mythology, requires a God who can cause things to happen in response to human activity. That the events happening for scientific reasons, rather than because a God made them happen, is an attack on religion. Get it? The events did happen and research proves this out. The problem is with the explanation of what caused things to happened. An interfering God or a volcano?

 

 

:lol::lol::lol::lol: "since random lying really isn't very beneficial" Mr. Skeptic that was beautiful! I love it.

Edited by Athena
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For natural events which intersect with religious stories, it could always be the case that divine intervention operated by natural means, such as God sending a flood, or it could be direct intervention by the Deity which later, more scientific accounts tried to explain away via a supposed natural mechanism. But since any good lie always tries to fit as many of the generally accepted details as possible to enhance its apparent plausibility, the fact that some Bible stories cohere with some factual records is only what you would expect if these stories were pure inventions.

 

The fit of Bible stories with neutrally recorded facts is also hit-or-miss. Thus the great 'taxing' of all the people in the land (a kind of census) supposedly ordered by Caesar Augustus, which was said to be the reason why Mary was travelling while pregnant, is not supported by any historical records, yet it is 1) essential to the whole Christ story and 2) a sufficiently important historical event to have been recorded if it had ever actually happened.

 

But then on the other hand, there is a Roman historian with no reason for lying about the matter who does mention Jesus as having been a real person, so the Christian story is at least not 100% invented.

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John, it's a bit outside my area but I think the Hittites? were a good example. A kingdom described in the Bible with no basis in archaeology until we realised that we had attributed Hittite ruins to another culture.

 

The OT isn't just a religious book, but also the history of a people. Historical facts are mixed in with miracles and natural occurances are given supernatural causes. The hard part is working out which is which.

 

Take the battle of Jerico for instance. The city did exist and was a major centre during the bronze age. It was also destroyed (possibly by the Israelites) The Biblical account is of trumpets blowing and walls falling and the Sun stopping in the sky. Take away the religious overtones and you have a historical account of the seige and fall of a city. You also have an idea of when this happened. There are two times when the Sun stops in the sky, the Solstices. For a primitive people for about a week around that day the Sun is neither perceptibly higher or lower in the sky, it has stopped its upwards or downwards movement.

 

Most cultures rewrite their histories to give themselves more prestige and the OT is no different. You just have to sort through the coal to find the diamonds. It's also good to remember that the OT was written circa 800 BC, so the stories contained within were passed down by word of mouth for a good thousand years previous to that. In an era without most forms of entertainment the Bard was highly prized. The storytellers would travel from village to village telling their stories of the past in exchange for food and shelter. And if people are p*ss poor they enjoy hearing stories about great deeds done in the past and how their people were "selected" by God and it will all be okay in the end. Wouldn't you?

 

BTW, if more concrete examples of Biblical accuracy being confirmed by archaeology are needed, I'll dig them up. ;) I have a stack of archaeology mags about 5 foot high specifically dealing with the middle east and some "Biblical Archaeology".

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If you want to believe, then you will read "the sun stopped in the sky" as a solstice.

If you don't want to, then you will read "the sun stopped in the sky" as a ridiculous breach of the conservation of momentum.

 

"And if people are p*ss poor they enjoy hearing stories about great deeds done in the past and how their people were "selected" by God and it will all be okay in the end. Wouldn't you?"

 

 

Yes, and so, if I was a professional story teller, I would make up the sort of stuff they want to hear.

It still happens "Freddie Starr ate my hamster" sold a lot of copies.

It had, of course, nothing to do with the truth.

Edited by John Cuthber
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If you want to believe, then you will read "the sun stopped in the sky" as a solstice.

If you don't want to, then you will read "the sun stopped in the sky" as a ridiculous breach of the conservation of momentum.

 

Sorry John, but no. Archaeology is a science, it has nothing to do with belief. One of the common misconceptions is that there is a shortage of documentary evidence from the early civilizations. This is simply wrong. For every one of the Tablets of the "Epic of Gilgamesh" (The Sumerian story the flood legend came from) more then 10,000 others were found at the same site. Many, many more have been found since. Some, like the epic, are of literary importance but the vast majority are records of transactions, judges rulings, police reports and the other mutinae of city life in the bronze age. Most have references to specific dates or times.

 

When it come to translation it works this way. Different parts of a culture might describe time slightly differently. So you can have two tablets, one says that a particular thing happened during the "Third week of the fourth month of the sixth year of the reign of King X, when the Sun stood still in the sky" and another can say that the same event took place during the "Third week of the fourth month of the sixth year of the reign of King X, at the time of the Summer Solstice". the first is an astronomical reference where the second is probably agricultural. By comparing the myriads of documents, and seeing the same phrases, or different phrases referring to exactly the same date, you logically conclude that the time the "Sun stands still in the sky" is a Solstice.

 

You can get similar clarity when comparing documents from different cities, kingdoms and civilizations. For example both an Egyptian and Hittite document might describe a treaty between a particular Pharoah and a certain Hittite King. Since they are talking about the same thing, regardless of how the time reference is described, they are both talking about the same time. So a comparison between the different phraseologies can give understanding as to meanings.

 

A translation is accepted when and only when the meanings of the passages are consistent. While I have some reservations about some parts of the science of Archaeology, translations aren't part of them. It's very similar to code breaking, the translations must make sense every time or you've done something wrong.

 

The Bible is a work that combines the mystical, mythical and historical all in the one volume. I find a lot of people are so against the mystical and mythical parts that they are willing to throw out the historical as well, which I think is just silly. It is quite reasonable to understand and accept the historical parts without being in any way forced to accept the mystical and mythical parts.

 

I must add that the storytellers couldn't just "make things up". If your stories were significantly different to the other stories, then you got a reputation as a poor storyteller and were no longer welcome. Remember that people already knew the bones of the story that you were telling so you have to be careful with embellishments. Technologically primitive they were, but they weren't stupid. One could reasonably argue that since life was so much harder then, the populace would have had better BS detectors than we have today.

Edited by JohnB
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If you want to be truly empirically rigorous, you have to regard every piece of historical writing as itself an historical artifact crafted by the writer. From there you can attempt to discern clues to actual events that may or may not have actually occurred. You have to ask whether the writer of the text would have had direct access to empirically observe the events described in the text, and if not, what basis would s/he have had for writing what they did. If you take such critical rigor very seriously, you can even get to the point of criticizing the very descriptive language used by (macro)historians. After all, how can they report the general events and outcomes of some macro-event like a war or extended time period as a direct witness of empirical events. They only have access to second-hand reports, and even then they have to synthesize those reports into coherent narratives. So all historiography is ultimately highly-processed derivatives of long-forgotten empirical events. By "empirical events," btw, I mean the empirical interactions between the history-writer and her/his sources, since the empirical experiences of those sources is already lost in the transmission of information from them to the writer. So the best you can really do with ANY historical text is to critically reason about the claims made in the text. You will never be able to establish their basis in fact because the facts are history, so to speak. All you can ask is why the writer may have written what they wrote and what does that say about the writer and the social and material context(s) of that person's life.

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I must add that the storytellers couldn't just "make things up". If your stories were significantly different to the other stories, then you got a reputation as a poor storyteller and were no longer welcome. Remember that people already knew the bones of the story that you were telling so you have to be careful with embellishments. Technologically primitive they were, but they weren't stupid. One could reasonably argue that since life was so much harder then, the populace would have had better BS detectors than we have today.

Not entirely true; even the Synoptic gospels have significant disagreements about the same story. The key point is that they were written over several decades in geographically disparate areas, so there was no guarantee of consistency.

 

(Matthew and Luke had Mark to use as a source, but they worked independently, and both ended up altering the chronology and details of Mark's stories significantly. They also both added birth narratives and resurrection stories which contradict significantly. This does not seem to have caused problems in early churches.)

 

New Testament stories in particular are very difficult because the documentary evidence of Jesus' existence apart from the New Testament can be summed up in about a page. Josephus (an ancient Jewish historian) agrees that he existed but gives little detail besides the existence of the movement and Jesus' execution. The specific narrative details in the New Testament can't be corroborated except with other books in the New Testament.

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Not entirely true; even the Synoptic gospels have significant disagreements about the same story. The key point is that they were written over several decades in geographically disparate areas, so there was no guarantee of consistency.

You seem to be assuming that these are materialist accounts of observations of material events. Have you considered that what these writers were expressing was a hybrid narrative of material and spiritual experiences with the primary concern of conveying the spiritual significance to readers? I don't think their primary intent was to record as accurately as possible their empirical observations of events they witnessed first-hand.

 

(Matthew and Luke had Mark to use as a source, but they worked independently, and both ended up altering the chronology and details of Mark's stories significantly. They also both added birth narratives and resurrection stories which contradict significantly. This does not seem to have caused problems in early churches.)

Of course not. The point was the spiritual message conveyed by the writing. Questioning of historical accuracy seems like something evoked more by ideologies perceived as dominant. Can you imagine someone devoting energy to undermining the historical accuracy of some fringe sub-cultural religion without much cultural influence? If that religion gained popularity, however, you would certainly expect critics to emerge with various approaches to undermining it, in terms of historical accuracy and otherwise.

 

New Testament stories in particular are very difficult because the documentary evidence of Jesus' existence apart from the New Testament can be summed up in about a page. Josephus (an ancient Jewish historian) agrees that he existed but gives little detail besides the existence of the movement and Jesus' execution. The specific narrative details in the New Testament can't be corroborated except with other books in the New Testament.

Whether the stories about Jesus are historically accurate or not, the miracle (for those that couldn't directly experience Jesus) lies in the symbolic meanings conveyed by the gospels and their further transmission and interpretation. The point is how far "the word" has been spread and how many good deeds and how much spiritual wonderment has been achieved. Yes, atrocities have also been committed in the name of Christianity, but hasn't every powerful ideology been (ab)used as grounds for atrocity in some way or other? I'm not saying this to promote or apologize for Christianity more than other religions. I just think you have to regard ideologies, religious and otherwise, as information that diffuses through space and time to get interpreted and acted upon in a wide variety of ways, many of which contradict each other in many ways. What would be far more interesting than corroborating the historical basis for the gospels, imo, would be to collect as wide as possible a variety of historical accounts of interpretations of "Christ's word" and actions that were undertaken with explicit citation of that "word." That would at least provide some historical data about how broadly ideologies can be interpreted and applied.

Edited by lemur
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Not entirely true; even the Synoptic gospels have significant disagreements about the same story. The key point is that they were written over several decades in geographically disparate areas, so there was no guarantee of consistency.

 

You're talking about the time of the NT when there were many scribes and a goodly percentage could read and write. I was talking about the OT time when people who could read and write were restricted to the ruling class and scribes. There's at least a thousand years between these two times. In preliterate times the storyteller was valued much as a good joke teller is. If someone is a good joke teller, you will happily sit back and listen even if you know the joke word for word, and you will laugh well at the end. It was sort of the same thing. The people knew the stories and knew them well but everybody enjoyed sitting back and listening to someone tell the story really well. Because of the audience familiarity with the story there wasn't a lot of latitude for embellishment.

 

There was certainly some room, but the storytellers had to keep pretty much to the script or else the story was no good.

 

Lemur, it sounds like you are describing the post modernists version of history and historical texts. Sorry mate but that is the biggest load of crock I've ever had the misfortune to meet. It defies all logic and sense. It denies all fact and substitutes opinion and interpretation instead. Post modernist history is to Archaeology and History as Astrology is to Astronomy. One is science, the other is mumbo jumbo.

 

You will never be able to establish their basis in fact because the facts are history, so to speak.

 

So D-Day possibly wasn't on the 6th June 1944?

 

Or am I misunderstanding you?

Edited by JohnB
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Lemur, it sounds like you are describing the post modernists version of history and historical texts. Sorry mate but that is the biggest load of crock I've ever had the misfortune to meet. It defies all logic and sense. It denies all fact and substitutes opinion and interpretation instead. Post modernist history is to Archaeology and History as Astrology is to Astronomy. One is science, the other is mumbo jumbo.

 

 

Presume you have read about the Sokal Affair .

 

I do think that the pendulum is in danger of swinging too far in the other direction - ie against post-modern readings of history; there is value in analysing critically the assumptions that are held to be true and form the underpinnings of our knowledge (but only in moderation and with a huge pinch of salt)

Edited by imatfaal
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imatfaal, I am aware of that affair. I have no problem with the pendulum swinging far enough to wipe post moderism from the face of the earth.

 

I'll happily call BS when I see it and post modernist interpretation is BS.

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You seem to be assuming that these are materialist accounts of observations of material events. Have you considered that what these writers were expressing was a hybrid narrative of material and spiritual experiences with the primary concern of conveying the spiritual significance to readers? I don't think their primary intent was to record as accurately as possible their empirical observations of events they witnessed first-hand.

Many of the contradictory details I described are accounts of material events, not miraculous events. Various accounts of Jesus visiting different towns and making various speeches are rearranged chronologically or altered entirely in the different Gospels.

 

None of the Gospel authors were first-hand witnesses anyway.

 

Of course not. The point was the spiritual message conveyed by the writing. Questioning of historical accuracy seems like something evoked more by ideologies perceived as dominant. Can you imagine someone devoting energy to undermining the historical accuracy of some fringe sub-cultural religion without much cultural influence? If that religion gained popularity, however, you would certainly expect critics to emerge with various approaches to undermining it, in terms of historical accuracy and otherwise.

Read the beginning of the Gospel of Luke. It purports to be a factually accurate historical account of Jesus' life, and continues in the same way in Acts. (Luke and Acts were written by the same author.) The epistles of Paul also purport to be real letters sent by Paul to real churches to address real problems they faced. We can learn a lot of valuable history from these, but we must be careful.

 

You're talking about the time of the NT when there were many scribes and a goodly percentage could read and write. I was talking about the OT time when people who could read and write were restricted to the ruling class and scribes. There's at least a thousand years between these two times. In preliterate times the storyteller was valued much as a good joke teller is. If someone is a good joke teller, you will happily sit back and listen even if you know the joke word for word, and you will laugh well at the end. It was sort of the same thing. The people knew the stories and knew them well but everybody enjoyed sitting back and listening to someone tell the story really well. Because of the audience familiarity with the story there wasn't a lot of latitude for embellishment.

 

There was certainly some room, but the storytellers had to keep pretty much to the script or else the story was no good.

Well, consider that many of the disciples were illiterate...

 

But in any case, diverging narratives can develop either way. The reason for the divergent Gospel narratives is geographical and temporal disparity, since the Gospels were written by people collecting various oral traditions years after the events occurred. It's apparent that the various Gospel authors did not know of each other's work, apart from Luke and Matthew using Mark; each author collected the oral traditions that had appeared in his part of the world, then compiled them into a cohesive narrative. The disparity between Gospels clearly shows that the oral traditions can diverge rapidly.

 

Also, the 50 or 60 years between Jesus' life and the Gospels' authorship present other problems. The oral tradition was the only record in those 50 years, and as it spread from Israel to Asia Minor it quite naturally changed significantly. Sure, the audience may notice if the story's different -- but they'll be dead in a few years, and the next storyteller can tell something somewhat different.

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Many of the contradictory details I described are accounts of material events, not miraculous events. Various accounts of Jesus visiting different towns and making various speeches are rearranged chronologically or altered entirely in the different Gospels.

 

None of the Gospel authors were first-hand witnesses anyway.

 

 

Surely Matthew the Apostle and Matthew the Evangelist are one and the same person! How much of what is in the gospel of Matthew was written by Matthew/Levi the tax collector is, of course, unknown; but they are meant to be the same person - and the later portions are a supposed first hand account (even if not written in the first person)

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Surely Matthew the Apostle and Matthew the Evangelist are one and the same person! How much of what is in the gospel of Matthew was written by Matthew/Levi the tax collector is, of course, unknown; but they are meant to be the same person - and the later portions are a supposed first hand account (even if not written in the first person)

Matthew was written around 80 or 85CE, some 50 years after Jesus' death; it's unlikely that the apostle Matthew would still be alive. Also, the titles of the Gospels were added much later -- it was not originally labeled "the Gospel according to Matthew," so you can't say they were meant to be the same person.

 

Also, it's believed that Matthew was written by a very literate Greek (since the original text is Greek), so he was likely from outside of Palestine. Were he in Palestine and a follower of Jesus, he would have spoken Aramaic.

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"I must add that the storytellers couldn't just "make things up". If your stories were significantly different to the other stories, then you got a reputation as a poor storyteller and were no longer welcome."

The Sun still sells a lot of copy. (for those across the pond, the Sun is roughly the equivalent of the national enquirer; it doesn't make money by telling the truth, it makes money by telling people what they want to hear.

 

A poor storyteller is one who tells poor stories, not one who tells false stories.

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Matthew was written around 80 or 85CE, some 50 years after Jesus' death; it's unlikely that the apostle Matthew would still be alive. Also, the titles of the Gospels were added much later -- it was not originally labeled "the Gospel according to Matthew," so you can't say they were meant to be the same person.

 

Also, it's believed that Matthew was written by a very literate Greek (since the original text is Greek), so he was likely from outside of Palestine. Were he in Palestine and a follower of Jesus, he would have spoken Aramaic.

 

It's obviously very difficult to say one way or another - but it is argued that Matthew the apostle was the writer. It's also argued and widely taught that matthew was originally written in hebrew, which does tally with matthew being the writer.

 

quote from Wikipedia that states both your and my POV - I think on the whole the nays (ie your later Greek argument) have it

 

 

However, 18th century scholars increasingly questioned the traditional view of composition. Today, most critical scholarship agrees that Matthew did not write the Gospel which bears his name,[20][21] and prefer instead to describe the author as an anonymous Jewish Christian, writing towards the end of the 1st century. The vast majority of scholars believe that the Gospel was originally composed in Greek (see Greek primacy) rather than being a translation from anAramaic Matthew or the Hebrew Gospel.[22]

 

While in the minority, some prominent scholars believe that the apostle Matthew indirectly influenced the gospel.[23] Some conservative scholars such asCraig Blomberg, F. F. Bruce and Gregory Boyd believe that the apostle Matthew did write his gospel, and they note that, as a former tax collector, Matthew would not have been an ideal person to whom to falsely ascribe a gospel.[15][24][25] Nevertheless, critics charge that if Markan priority is true, proponents of the traditional authorship are in a difficult position of claiming that an eyewitness led a considerable amount of his writing to a non-eyewitness.[26]

 

 

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It's obviously very difficult to say one way or another - but it is argued that Matthew the apostle was the writer. It's also argued and widely taught that matthew was originally written in hebrew, which does tally with matthew being the writer.

 

quote from Wikipedia that states both your and my POV - I think on the whole the nays (ie your later Greek argument) have it

Well, very few people at the time wrote or spoke Hebrew, so Aramaic would be the likely choice. But the way it's taught in current courses on the New Testament (as in my courses) is that none of the names on the Gospels are original, and none of the names are accurate.

 

(Now, the Revelation of John is a different matter, since it does not claim to be John the Apostle but just John a random dude who had some visions.)

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