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II Timothy 4:17

But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. And I was delivered from the lion's mouth

(New International Version 1984)

Can anyone explain the significance please?
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Jason210
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Jason210
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2 Solutions
 
WaterStreetCommented:
I think it has both an internal and external meeting. Internally it means that somehow his soul has been raised from the depths of depression, or lack of drive. Externally, he is seen as vindicated, or authoritative,  in the eyes of those who will now see him and hear his message.
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viki2000Commented:
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WaterStreetCommented:
viki2000,

So what is the significance that Jason210 is asking?
Can you sum that up in your own words rather that a link?
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viki2000Commented:
No, I cannot now. John Piper is a good preacher. I just wanted to give one more source of info.
I have to chew it by myself and I cannot now.
Your explanation seems viable to me, but I cannot say yes or no until I filter trough my thinking, and unfortunately I cannot focus on it very soon.
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viki2000Commented:
Audio version for the same explanation is here:
http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/sermons/the-lord-stood-by-me-that-all-the-nations-might-hear

Another audio sermon based on the same verse:
http://www.sermonsfortoday.org/sermon/sermon.php?sermon=WR-29-11-92-AM

Then some explanations:
http://www.searchgodsword.org/com/bcc/view.cgi?book=2ti&chapter=004
http://pericope.org/buls-notes/2_timothy/2_timothy_4_6_8_16_18.htm

We have to consider few things: the verses in Bible to be right understand, usually are correlated with other verses, many times from Old Testament. That's why is difficult many times to give a simple explanation complete.

I am sorry that I cannot say it in simple words directly from me this time.    
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Jason210Author Commented:
Thanks.

It's clear now, or at least I have a clear interpretation. The meaning is presented here from a Christian perspective but it goes beyond the trappings of any particular religion.

It seems that the speaker became "empowered" by something outside himself, outside his normal field of consciousness, which gave his words some kind of extra power that would have been felt externally by the people who he spoke to.

I think this is just as Watersteet said.

Being in the lions mouth is kind of like being caught up in one of those endless dialogues that often take place in EE's P&R.... :-)





 
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WaterStreetCommented:

oops!  "meeting" in the first sentence of my first posting s.b. "meaning."

Very recently, I've come to solidify a belief that a very large amount of the holy writings can or should be taken metaphorically, due to the infinitude of the divine, whose expression, therefore, cannot be constrained by just one human meaning, but can be approached using our image of God.

*laughing* (but not really).  There is nothing else to say, if that is the starting point in a religious discussion.  That could have replaced the last seven years of discussion in this Philosophy & Religion Zone.  The remainder would just be commentary.


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leonstrykerCommented:
"Very recently, I've come to solidify a belief that a very large amount of the holy writings can or should be taken metaphorically,"

I come to a conclusion that any writting taken metaphorically can be used as holy writing.
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sbdt8631Commented:
"Very recently, I've come to solidify a belief that a very large amount of the holy writings can or should be taken metaphorically,"

Which means you can interpret them any way you want.  While this make be an interesting intellectual exercise, it cannot provide any real answers.
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Jason210Author Commented:
Waterstreet
There is nothing else to say, if that is the starting point in a religious discussion.  That could have replaced the last seven years of discussion in this Philosophy & Religion Zone.  The remainder would just be commentary.
Shhhh!

Very recently, I've come to solidify a belief that a very large amount of the holy writings can or should be taken metaphorically
I'm glad. I have often pondered on the so called miracles of the Abrahamic scriptures.

Actually, when we talk about metaphor usually we are talking about the deliberate use of a literary device as used by Shakespeare. For example, this line from Richard II referring to the murder of the Duke of Gloucester, lamented by his wife:

One flourishing branch of his most royal root,  
Is crack'd, and all the precious liquor spilt,  
Is hack'd down, and his summer leaves all faded,  
By envy's hand and murder's bloody axe.

Beautiful words, but Shakespeare was fully aware of what he was doing, and his purpose was  to invoke an image and an emotion with those words. One could easily re-write Shakespeare in plain language and the events would be the same, but would not have the same impact on us. However, it is my view that many of the authors of the miracles in the Torah and in the New Testement do not share this purpose with Shakespeare. I think their writings might better be described as a kind of mystical symbolism. While metaphor is the deliberate use of imagery by the author to express an action or concept that could easily be expressed in other language, mystical symbolism is the use of imagery to express something transcendent, something that is non-conceptual, something that cannot be expressed in other terms. The author is doing his or her best, with the vocabulary and concepts available of the time, to express a profound spiritual experience.

CG Jung was very much into how man uses symbols to express mystical experiences of consciousness that go beyond ordinary, everyday consciousness. Mystical symbolism was very much studied by Jung and many of my ideas come from there.

For example, I believe that the miracle of Jesus walking on the water is an example of mystical symbolism. I suppose it could be a metaphor, but of what? How could that be re-written in plain language? I am inclined to believe instead that it is a symbolical expression of the experiences of disciples' trying to follow Jesus's path. According to John,  Jesus, was both a man and God, which to me means that Jesus was a man with a fully awakened consciousness. In this awakened state, Jesus would have known that his mind and body, and everything he experienced, was not his real nature - that his true nature was the awareness itself. Thus Jesus had to walk between two worlds so to speak, represented by the water (material) and the air (spiritual). Perhaps Peter was able to glimpse this reality but was unable to stabilise in it, being sucked back to identification with the body symbolised by the sinking back into the water.

Nowadays we are have all these sophisticated concepts to explain it in another way, but back then they used what came natural to them to explain their experiences.
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WaterStreetCommented:
I am aware of that. I'm also aware that the Bible is not a book of science.
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Jason210Author Commented:
Which means you can interpret them any way you want.  While this make be an interesting intellectual exercise, it cannot provide any real answers.

While there are variations in meaning, I think interpretions tend to point to something, real. There are no real answers, because the real is beyond anything we can conceptualise in an answer.

Anyway, I suppose we shouldn't digress too much from the Question...I'll leave this open for a day or two then assign the points.
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CallandorCommented:
The context is that Paul is writing the last words he will ever write in II Tim 4:6 "For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure."  He is on trial for accusations made by various parties that claimed he opposed Caesar, but in actuality because he proclaimed Christ, which they didn't like, so this is a classic case of being imprisoned for one's religion.

He says no one came to his support, among all his friends and Christians, but that didn't matter, because God made his presence known and supported Paul.  This strengthened him and also provided him with an opportunity at his trial to bear witness of Christ before all the Gentiles in the court.  He was delivered from the lion's mouth, meaning he averted a death sentence at the time because Nero was in power and all Christians were persecuted, frequently ending up in the Coliseum facing lions or wild animals as sport.  He eventually was beheaded by the emperor.
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Jason210Author Commented:
So arguably the "Lion's mouth" part may have been literal in meaning. However in this case had it been metaphorical in meaning it would not have mattered. Either way, he was in hot water ;-)
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Jason210Author Commented:
Thanks. Two very good comments and Callandor's comment at the end there is quite important. While I believe many events in the bible can and should be interpreted symbolically/metaphorically, we shouldn't assume that is always the case. In this case I think a literal interpretation is defendable.

sbdt8631's claim is that metaphorical interpretation is nothing more than an intellectual exercise, and gives one license to interpret something arbitrarily is without foundation.

There are clearly parts of the New Testament that have a symbolical meaning, such as relevation, and the symbolical meaning is accepted in traditional Christian exegesis.
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lm78Commented:
@Jason210:

While a lot of sayings and events in the bible do have symbolic meanings (and I offer my explanation as a christian who takes the scriptures seriously and spends a lot of time studying them), we do believe that the events like what you mentioned (Jesus walking on water) really happened - and this is not believe simply as a matter of faith but attested to by the people closest to the events themselves.
The apostles who were with Jesus and who handed it on to the Apostolic fathers (upto the 2nd century) who were disciples of the apostles who further handed it down again.

The disipline of hermeneutics (the science of interpretation) is a whole huge field in itself for the scriptures - and a lot of scholars spend a lot of time analysing critically the origins and the ways to understand them.
We understand the bible to be a book of faith but also history. But history was not always written/understood as we do now.
So you have questions like "Is this sequence of events given here factual or altered to convey the multiple levels of truth in the disciples' understanding?"
For eg., in Matthew's gospel, Jesus goes up a mountain to preach while in Luke He stands on a plain. Did he preach? Yes. But from where? Luke, writing to a non jewish audience wanted to emphasise along with the teaching that Jesus stood as one among us.
And Matthew writign to a Jewish audience wanted to emphasise along with the teaching that Jesus was the new Moses.
Both true, but not factual as we understand it today!
More meanings are of course derived from the events and the actions of Jesus - like going back to the example you gave, when He walked on water, He also demonstrated the power of God over nature - but that doesn't take away from the actuality of the event.
But the events themselves have always been understood and testified to be historical and actual.

Hope this helps!

 
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Jason210Author Commented:
That's interesting about Luke and Mathew writing for different audiences - I wasn't aware of that.

However, I do not understand why people insist that Jesus actually walked on water. Unless it was a cheap theatrical trick -- which I very much doubt -- then this cannot be emprical/literal in meaning.

I'm sure it refers to some kind of transcendental experience, like astral travelling.
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viki2000Commented:
What is easiest: to walk on water or to raise up the dead?
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leonstrykerCommented:
Easiest is to get a maiden to claim immaculate conception.
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viki2000Commented:
It easy for many maidens to claim that.
Even more, nowadays, if you do not know the girl, due to hymenoplasty, she can “prove” that she is virgin.

But how many maidens do you know that gave birth to a Savior like Jesus?  
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Jason210Author Commented:
>But how many maidens do you know that gave birth to a Savior like Jesus?
None. That's why I don't believe this one. It doesn't happen.

The virgin birth is just another Christian doctrine expounded by the early church fathers to strengthen the idea that body and person of Jesus was somehow unique and supernatural.

Which it wasn't.

I can't undertsand how people can be satisfied with the idea that Jesus walked on the water as a literal and empirical truth, because all it does is strengthen the idea that body and person of Jesus was somehow unique and supernatural.

Which it wasn't.

I think the walking on the water miracle has to do with faith and focusing, and not being distracted by what's going on around you. That's why I compare it to so-called astral experiences. In OOB experience, you are conscious and appear to be flying while your body is resting. But in fact the entire experience takes place in your consciousness - nothing leaves the body.

There are no miracles.
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CallandorCommented:
>There are no miracles.

That is an opinion.  If someone is going to go out on a limb and make a definitive statement like this, they are going purely by personal belief.  The correct phrasing in English is "I believe that there are no miracles", which is an entirely acceptable statement, and goes hand in hand with "That's why I don't believe this one."
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WaterStreetCommented:
Regarding the earlier postings:
Go read selections from roughly 2000 years ago like the ancient Greek writings and texts contemporaneous with the closing of the biblical canon -- the Apocrypha and the pseudepigrapha, for example.  Those authors were just as intelligent, creative and engaging as those today.  Why weren't these stories included in the canon?  Men decided which of those would be the official narratives, and those which didn't fit-in with their agenda.  I really think humankind's propensity to embellish a story for its own purposes -- including political, social, emotional and power purposes -- has not changed much since stories began to be told.  Look how stories and the truth get distorted in our modern times.  I use the word "myth" in the academic sense -- without judgment and not derogatory.  Myths are "true" if they work and serve a useful purpose toward the betterment of people's lives and humankind.

My view of Miracles:
Even though I don't believe the Jesus stories, I believe the world if full of miracles every day.  So there! *smile*

*laughing*  Poink me 50 -- oops, too late.

WS
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Jason210Author Commented:
Of course it depends how we define miracles. I've been defining them quite specifically as alleged empirical events that are incompatible with scientific knowledge such as the literal interpretation of:

- the parting of the red sea
- Jesus walking on the water
- the virgin birth
- the resurrection

Yes, it's an opinion, but a rational, scientific opinion. Until I see evidence otherwise, I'll continue to hold that opinion for that reason.

I would define true miracles as extraodrinary feats of human will and determination, humans succeeding against all odds, that kind of thing, and usually where the person in question was divinely inspired.
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WaterStreetCommented:
Jason,

================================
Of course it depends how we define miracles. I've been defining them quite specifically as alleged empirical events that are incompatible with scientific knowledge such as the literal interpretation of:

- the parting of the red sea
- Jesus walking on the water
- the virgin birth
- the resurrection
================================

At the "end of the day," it doesn't matter if the literal accounts conform with science. All that matters is that the adherents believe the narratives are true. The (empirical) truth is that people have been disputing these narratives for a thousand years and there are currently more Christians than ever.  People flow into and out of religions in each generation.  Conformance of the literal text interpretation with science doesn't really matter.  As time goes on, I think the interpretations get (and have been) reworked so as not to be incompatible with science -- i.e., what the message of the text "really" means to tell us.

By the way, the traditional Jewish belief is that God controls the moment by moment miracles that happen to us every day. We just have to notice them.
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viki2000Commented:
Miracles are every day around us, but we don’t see them or we refuse to see them.
It has to do with what we chose to see: the image and the concepts in our mind about world and the things in it.
An old sayings state: the beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
I think, similar, the Truth is known only when revealed by God - meaning, is a “light” coming from inside and no matter how we struggle from outside bringing arguments pro/cons for our minds – cannot be prove/known.
With passing of each day, I am more convinced about that.

Walking on water and fake: I hope you do not think that was done as Criss Angel here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sBQLq2VmZcA 

But in Asia there were a series of miracles, narrated by fakir’s encounters.
Remember of George Ivanovich Gurdjieff  in his book “Meetings with remarkable men”?
Or maybe Paramhansa Yogananda in his book “Autobiography of a yogi”?
A most recently one was the life testimony of Walter Veith in which he describes “miracles”  around him for which he searched rational explanations.

And I mention here these titles not as arguments for Jesus, but to see that miracles are mentioned also by others.
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WaterStreetCommented:


Too bad these postings are wasted on a closed thread.
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viki2000Commented:
As about Jesus and miracles:
-      I have to admit that from rational point of view is difficult to impossible to accept not only walking on water or His conception/birth, but the entire story. That’s why He asked us to believe, that’s why He made miracles for people of His time – they were like us now: some accepted Him easy, some not even after He performed a lot of miracles.
-      They wanted signs all the time, so their ego to be satisfied, they wanted God to do something special for them, so they may be convinced of what Jesus told them continuously: that He comes from God. The answer was: only one sign will be given: the sign of Jonas.

The greatest miracle about Jesus, at least for me, is: the entire story, starting with the prophecies hundreds of years before Him, then His life, then later until today Christianity.

Why all these? If they are not true, then what is the purpose, how come they happened and resisted during times? Why is not a forgotten story, just a fabulous story as so many?

But WS, is right. Make no sense to open such discussion here.
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CallandorCommented:
They're visible, so I don't think they're wasted at all.  And in the grand tradition of P&R, discussions don't always end with the awarding of points - sometimes, very good comments come after the question is closed.
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Jason210Author Commented:
At the "end of the day," it doesn't matter if the literal accounts conform with science. All that matters is that the adherents believe the narratives are true. The (empirical) truth is that people have been disputing these narratives for a thousand years and there are currently more Christians than ever.  People flow into and out of religions in each generation.  Conformance of the literal text interpretation with science doesn't really matter.  As time goes on, I think the interpretations get (and have been) reworked so as not to be incompatible with science -- i.e., what the message of the text "really" means to tell us.
A biblical book tells us what the author of that text wants it to tell us. Even if the author intended to be objective, his version is still a subjective version - how he understands the events and how he understood Jesus. And he be may wrong or may portray it poorly.

I've said this many times before, but the Canon is the result of the early Christian chruch trying to make a determination of which works were the most central for determining doctrine. What they considered to be doctrine is not necessarily what Jesus had in mind, but it certainly helped to ensure the sruvival of the Christian Church during those difficult, early years.  

Watersteet's idea that it doesn't matter whether something is literal or not doesn't work for me, especially when one considers the origins of the bible. To me syaing it doesnt matter, means that would could apply classical myths in the same way, but most people are aware that myths are only myths. I think it makes a difference to meaning if something really happened, if it is a myth, parable, fable, literary metaphor, or if it is some kind of unconscious mystical symbolism pointing to the divine.And it makes all the difference if Jesus were a man, just like you or me, or if he was a "supernatural being". I don't know what a supernatural being is. I have never seen one, and there has been no evidence of one. Of course there wouldn't be because it's supernatural which means "beyond science". So a supernatrual being puts a distance between us and Jesus, whereas Jesus as a man (or woman of course) puts us into direct contact with Jesus. He was human and so are we. Thus, instead of externalising Jesus and God and creating a gap that can only be crossed through death and salvation,which I'm sure the majority of Christians believe, we can focus instead on discovering God within us. This way we too can realise God within us and also become "sons of God". Perhaps this is what Jesus wanted.

The error is in externalising things - ie interpreting things on a literal level. This applies not just to Christianity but all major religions, including Islam. Muslims pray to a metoerite in a particular poiint in space. Externalisation. Then you have the Hindu religions with their Gods in the temples. Externalisation. Even in Buddhism, they have made huge bronze buddhas that thousands of people flock to and worship. Externalisation. Judaism appears to be the only major religion I can think of where they don't do that - they don't doesn't externalise God, but rather encourage adherants to see God in everything and experience God through living. Nor does it have this idea of salvation and ever-lasting life.

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Jason210Author Commented:
As an after-thought, all those who believe that walking on water was literal ought to try it sometime, as a test of their faith. You will invariable fail. Doen't that mean ye have little faith?

Seems to me that such ideas rule out the possibility of ever having complete faith unless you believe in miracles :-)

What do you say?
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viki2000Commented:
@Jason – “I don't know what a supernatural being is. I have never seen one, and there has been no evidence of one. Of course there wouldn't be because it's supernatural which means "beyond science".”

If we refer directly to Jesus person during His earthly life, then:
- He was both man and God.
- About the supernatural side makes sense to discuss after we consider the human being more than material, having soul, spirit, consciousness, the possibility to exist in other dimensions described only by laws of the spirit.
- In such view, first thing is: Jesus existed before the world was created. The world was created by God trough Him for Him. He gave His life for it, so belongs to Him in all the possible ways.
- Before the World was created He was in the Council of God.
- Then the supernatural side is easy to understand and accept: He just came from another world (heavens, spiritual world), dimensions in lower dimensions of our material world. He renounced at everything what He had there for a while in order to submit at God’s will. He was sent.
- Because He was a good servant, God was with Him all the time and everything what is mentioned as miracles was done by God when Jesus asked Him.
- It shows control, power over the material world from the Creator.
- The man Jesus came down in flesh, beside His main Mission, to experiment our limitation and to show us that is possible to overcome all the natural impulses, to show that the spirit can subdue the material world.
- Indeed He was also a simple person, not even a beautiful person from our material standards, but His beauty was shown in His behavior towards us.
- And what is science, to use it as standard? Which science? From last few hundreds years? It is something that will disappear in dust.
- Was not the same with the previous kingdoms on Earth, more glorious than our times? Just remember King Nebuchadnezzar and what Daniel prophet told him in his dream.
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WaterStreetCommented:
"A biblical book tells us what the author of that text wants it to tell us."

No! It tells us what the current interpreter of the book wants to tell us, which is based on what the most recent editor(s) of the book wanted to tell us, which is then based on what the then previous editor(s) wanted to tell us, etc.  And, for some or all texts there may not be one author, but many compilers who finally put into writing what had been (most likely) orally transmitted and subjectively enhanced from one generation to another

Did Adam write the book of Genesis?  How do we know who wrote the other books or their sections?  Many, if not most or all, are probably compilations that are based on oral narratives passed from one generation or person to the next.  Ever play the game of Telephone?  For those unfamiliar with the game, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_whispers

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Jason210Author Commented:
Sorry but I must respectfully disagree. If we consider the gospel of Mathew, for example, then it is most probably written or put togther by one author. Stylometrists have analysed these texts empirically and come to that conclusion. It's not a simple case of editing but a case of framing events within a narrative structure. "And it came to pass..."

With both Mathew and Luke there may be parts included from Mark (which in turn would likely include stuff from Peter the disciple), as well as from other sources that may include oral tradition, but no-one starts writing a book without having something to say.  Each of the Gospels of the canon have this narrative structure -- they tell a story.

This is why I find the non-canonical Gospel of Thomas interesting. It doesn't have a narrative thread. It is merely a string of sayings from Jesus, in no particular order, and as such, is more likely to be based on oral tradition than Mathew or Luke, which are both clearly based partially on Mark.

@viki
-He was both man and God.
- About the supernatural side makes sense to discuss after we consider the human being more than material, having soul, spirit, consciousness, the possibility to exist in other dimensions described only by laws of the spirit.
- In such view, first thing is: Jesus existed before the world was created. The world was created by God trough Him for Him. He gave His life for it, so belongs to Him in all the possible ways.
Fine as far as you go, but all this can be applied to yourself also. You, if you know yourself, existed before the world existed.

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viki2000Commented:
Well, that "know" cannot be, also for me, a knowledge based on something that can be verified according with our scientifically known laws.
It is a believe.
You hear it and you accept it axiomatic.
It is from inside. You feel that you can rely on it and is normal, even if looks from outside miraculous.
I think that's all.

The entire mathematical systems are based on axioms that we accept them as normal.
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WaterStreetCommented:
1.  "If we consider the gospel of Mathew, for example, then it is most probably written or put togther by one author."

Was it Mathew or someone claiming to be him?
In any case, how accurate is the author's description of the events?  People's emotions can sway their remembrance.  I know this from verifiable personal experience. They can embellish (innocently or not) to suit how they believe the event should be described to others, or give an interpretation of what they think they saw. People's recollections also change over a period of time too.  How long after the events was the text written?

2. "Stylometrists have analysed these texts empirically and come to that conclusion."

So, maybe it was the work of one author, or not.  Besides, if stylometrists are looking for a confirmation, I'm sure there is a high likelihood of a false positive or a false negative conclusion, if only small blocks of text (or short phrases or single words) are edited, which is all it takes for a subsequent editor to make the text conform with a certain agenda.

We simply don't know.

By the way, if you think I'm picking on the NT, I've recently come to believe the same about the Hebrew Scriptures.  But, at the end of each day, it doesn't matter that each of us does not know for sure what is literally true.  These myths (used as an academic, non derogatory term) are true for practical purposes, because they work for people.  I believe in the potential goodness they can evoke in humankind.

WS


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WaterStreetCommented:

Jason,

Regarding style confirmation of authors, I'll bet either you or I could make various minor changes to the other's writings without any style expert able to detect them.  If we attempted to forge an entire writing of the other, it might easily be confidently detected by an style expert.
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CallandorCommented:
>As an after-thought, all those who believe that walking on water was literal ought to try it sometime, as a test of their faith. You will invariable fail. Doen't that mean ye have little faith?

No, what you believe has no power in itself.  It's the object of your faith that makes all the difference - that's why God said believing in idols made by men's hands, for example, was an exercise in foolishness.  The same is true of faith in gods that are not real, or sincere faith in anything other than God.  But faith in the creator of the universe works because it is the creator who is actually doing all the work - he has chosen to operate by working through people who believe in him, but he is not a genie that can be commanded to perform at will for someone to test.

The example of walking on water is not something which determines if you have faith or not.  It was a test for Peter, and him only.  The better example is the centurion who had a servant that was ill and who had requested Jesus to heal him.  He believed that Jesus had the authority over illnesses and stated that all Jesus had to do was say the word, and his servant would be healed.  And it happened.  Faith in the right person is what enabled the miracle to happen, not just faith.

I agree with Jason210's assessment of the single authorship of Matthew and Luke.  However, the gospel of Thomas differs so much from the other gospels that I would consider it an outlier and inconsistent with Jesus of the Synoptics and of John.  It fails in the area of authoritative source, since we don't know who wrote it, it was written very late (fourth century, based on a reference to "the heresy of the Anomoeans") and it promotes a view totally inconsistent with the Old Testament, since it claims that self-knowledge is the way to salvation.
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Jason210Author Commented:
I don't know where you get the 4th century from for Thomas. Even those scholars who consider it to have been written late put it down as mid 2nd century. The rest of them put it to some time between 50 - 100, which would make it one of the earliest scriptures.

Regarding the canonical Gospels, there is also debate about their dates (the omission of the mention of the destruction of the temple of Jerusulem generally being the basis for dating). They all have been dated to the same time as Thomas (50 -150AD) but are believed to have all been written arouind 60 - 70 AD.

The only empirical evidence there is for the dating of Mathew is that is was written before the death of Ignatius in 115AD, but it is believed to have all been written around 60 - 70 AD, and is believed to have been written by the apostle himself.

Note the operative word - believed. The early church is repsonsible for these beliefs.

There is also debate about the authorship of the canonical gospels. Both Mark and Luke were not eyewitness accounts and certainly not written by the dicsiples of the same names.

Since Mathew is based largely on Mark, and on the hypothetical text "Q" then I would say that it was not written by the apostle.

The only one that seems to have been written by an apostle is John, and even that is put down to 90-100 AD. The texts lacks any historical markers also.
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Jason210Author Commented:
No, what you believe has no power in itself.  It's the object of your faith that makes all the difference - that's why God said believing in idols made by men's hands, for example, was an exercise in foolishness.  The same is true of faith in gods that are not real, or sincere faith in anything other than God.  But faith in the creator of the universe works because it is the creator who is actually doing all the work - he has chosen to operate by working through people who believe in him, but he is not a genie that can be commanded to perform at will for someone to test.
I kind of liked the idea of beliveing in something so much as to make it real - on some level. Even a subjective level. The problem with what you are saying here is that is this "object" of faith is difficult to locate for many, and there is a big risk that one might pick the wrong thing. Any object must be a concept, so is it just a question of having the right concept? Again, how can one know which is the right concept?
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CallandorCommented:
>I don't know where you get the 4th century from for Thomas.

I apologize - I read the article (http://christianthinktank.com/gthomas.html) incorrectly; it it the gnostic Nag Hammadi Library that is dated to the 4th century.  The Gospel of Thomas is part of that library, and is thought to have been written in the mid 2nd century, as you say.  The message it contains still puts it at odds with the canonical gospels, and the "borrowing" of material from those gospels puts it at a later date.

Mark is mentioned as the disciple of Peter by Irenaeus (http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/mark.html), and Luke is the disciple of Paul (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luke_the_Evangelist), so both were under an apostle's teaching and would have been given authoritative details about the life of Jesus.  Matthew borrowing material from Mark does not preclude him from being the apostle himself, and since there is no Q document to put our hands on, it's existence is a matter of opinion/speculation, so why base any hard conclusions on that?

>Again, how can one know which is the right concept?

It's partly what we do in this forum, reasoning things out.  It's also partly based on faith, but faith based on historical facts and events.
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Jason210Author Commented:
Gospel of Thomas -- perhaps the text is a forerunner to the gnostic texts and that sets it apart, but there's no scholarly claim stating that it borrows material from any of the Gospels. There's no evidence for that. But it appears to be a primary text, in that it's written in that style, based on oral tradition. It's date is thought to be anywhere between 50 -150 AD. That's what the scholars say.

I agree that Mathew borrowing materials does not mean he cannot be the apostle, but to say that he was the apostle is also speculation. While you claim we should not base any hard conclusions on "Q", much of the dating and authorship regarding the canonical gospels is also speculative, and there are no hard consclusions.
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CallandorCommented:
>but there's no scholarly claim stating that it borrows material from any of the Gospels. There's no evidence for that.

It depends on who you read- for example, http://www.pleaseconvinceme.com/index/pg83472
I don't give any credence to the Jesus Seminar, who start out with an axe to grind and who make statements that are based on a bias against a supernatural Jesus.

That gospel is a book that purports to be the real gospel and remained lost and hidden for 19 centuries - that makes alarms go off in my head.   The early Christians were in the best position to know what was the real story, as they were closest to the events, but there were no copies of the Gospel of Thomas circulating around the early churches being widely read.  If there were, you would have multiple places with manuscripts of it preserved.  You don't see any evidence of that.
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Jason210Author Commented:
By the 3rd century there were already efforts to promote certain books and suppress others. This is two hundred years after the death of Jesus.Certain texts were discerned to be the truth by the early Roman churches which had the power and the money to make the difference. Thomas was popular in Egypt but without the backing of Rome didn't really stand a chance.

Text's written in Rome, like Mark, became more popular.

Athanius wrote a letter in the 3rd century urging his congregation NOT to read "erroneous" literature and suggested the first example of the present day book list. The next 300 years would see the enforcement of that book list, and it is because of the successfulness of that enforcement process that books like Thomas were almost lost completely. Bishops would travel round Europe to stop the circulation of the "erroneous" texts, and people just stopped reproducing them. Sometimes worse happened -- for example,  in 447 AD Pope Leo the Great ordered Gnostic texts to be burnt!

And yet againts all odds, the Nag Hamadi library survived, in small pieces mixed with sand in a desert. One could argue that it was God's intnetion that it be found...




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WaterStreetCommented:
Now this has become a great and informative thread -- too bad the best stuff is buried here near the end.

Someone (not me) should open a thread as to the provenance of these books.  That way it can attract members' attention as will the awarded answers.  Whoever opens that thread could ask the participants here to copy-over their stuff.

WS
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viki2000Commented:
WS, I had the same idea as you in mind since few days

Look here:

http://www.experts-exchange.com/Other/Philosophy_Religion/Q_27089596.html
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WaterStreetCommented:
Thanks Viki2000.

I think some of the posters here should update and re-post their good stuff from this thread -- and we can go on from there.  And/or, I  could put into a single posting there, for discussion, what I found to be he most interesting thoughts (for me) -- in support of the thread, not expecting points for that posting.
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viki2000Commented:
Yes, it is a good idea
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Jason210Author Commented:
ditto
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Jason210Author Commented:
Don't forget to include LMs post - it had an interesting point about Matthew being written for a Jewish audience, and Luke for a non-Jewish. I haven't verfiied it though.
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WaterStreetCommented:
I'll try to do it later today or tonight.
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