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« Benedict XVI's Theological Vision: An Introduction | Monsignor Joseph Murphy | Main | A welcome shot across the bow of the bloody ship... »

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Comments

LJ

It's all about the Resurrection. Without it Christianity would be a foot-note in Jewish history, and if the Gospels survived, their historicity would only be a debate in some dry little corner of academe.

He is risen, Hallelujah, He is risen!

Carl Olson

Exactly right, LJ. Indeed, He is Risen!

CPKS

This reminds me of an amusing tutorial I once had with my philosophy tutor, who was (a) an expert on Plato and (b) well known for his atheist sympathies. One week I had to do an essay for him on the subject of a Socratic dialogue. I wrote my essay entirely in terms of what Plato taught and believed; whenever I quoted Socrates, I wrote something like "Plato's Socrates says..." or "Plato puts the following words in Socrates's mouth...".

As I read my essay to him, my tutor got increasingly fidgety, until he interrupted with annoyance: "You seem to be implying that Socrates was some kind of literary invention!"

"Yes - isn't that right?" I responded with mock innocence.

"Certainly not - for example, his existence was attested by Xenophon, who was a renowned ancient historian."

"Ah, yes, Xenophon did record one or two Socratic dialogues. But surely he was just using a well-established literary genre. After all, Hume was an extremely careful historian, but nobody thinks that his Dialogues were a verbatim report of two real, historical people."

My tutor was not amused. "But that's... absurd. Nobody has ever, ever questioned the historical existence of Socrates."

"Oh." My tone was light: "Yet apart from the very stylized dialogues of Plato and Xenophon, nobody has attested to it, so I find that strange. After all, there is far more widespread historical evidence for the existence of Jesus Christ, both from four different evangelists, at least two historians, and a very large oral tradition, with manuscripts dated to within sixty or seventy years of his death, and yet very many people question his historical existence."

After a brief internal struggle, my tutor shrugged and said "OK. I take your point. Carry on with your essay."

Gibbons Burke

Lee Strobel's "The Case for Christ" answers this question compellingly and pretty well: No, the gospels are not myth.

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