Answering the Atheists

Very very delayed from last year, we’ve dug out the audio of our “Answering the Atheists” session in May of 2010. Some visitors from Sydney Atheists came to last year’s PubChurch and then wrote to me with some detailed attacks upon the historicity of the New Testament. We thought that would be an excellent means of talking to church about the issues that arose.

Here’s the audio file. It’s low quality in some places and only a mono track. Also, some audience questions don’t get picked up properly.

You will also need the Answering the Atheists pdf handout.

Here’s some other links to help you out.

ntcanon.org

Ignatius on Jesus’ birth

Justin Martyr on Jesus’ birth

Ehrman Project – perhaps the most famous modern-day exponent of these kinds of attacks upon the reliability and historicity of the New Testament is Bart Ehrman. The Ehrman Project is a great site of videos responding directly to these kinds of arguments. For example, here is Dan Wallace (a well-respected NT Greek professor) on the reliability 0f the New Testament…

And yes, I keep saying “Deep Sea Scrolls” when I mean “Dead Sea Scrolls”!

Comments

comments

11 comments on “Answering the Atheists

  1. I can’t believe you did not invite me to this presentation as it is using my material! I remember the events differently and your presentation has couple of things I disagree. Previously you have not published my comment on this blog, so is there any point replying here? I think you have requested atheists to give you right-of-reply on their media…

  2. hi Peter, good to have you here.

    I’m a little surprised by your surprise. First, I asked you when we had our initial exchange if I could use your comments publicly and you agreed.
    Second, the event was one for church members to show them how a typical conversation went and how to respond – it was not designed to allow your detailed reply in that context. If you want to have an open discussion in another context then we could, of course, consider that.
    Third, I’m not sure how you claim that “I remember the events differently” since “the events” in question are your specific emails in a dialogue with me. In terms of “remembering” my process in this has been to simply republish what you wrote.

    In terms of right-of-reply, you are (of course) free to comment as you wish. However, can I suggest that you actually engage this time? Last time round it all ground to a halt when, faced with a mountain of evidence that your claims did not stand up, you simply announced “I don’t agree”. At that point, what discussion is there? It’s been my experience this last year that the more you actually discuss these issues in detail with the pop-atheists, the more they don’t want to actually argue the case – they discover that the arguments and “citations” they were uncritically copying out of books and off websites don’t actually hold water – as was the case in our discussion.

  3. 1/4 posts

    David,

    Thanks for the opportunity to reply. Of course it was OK to use the content of my email. No problem there. I just thought I would get a copy of your presentation when it is published, but my mistake.

    What I mean “I remember the events differently” is to your comments on the audio. I’ll get to those details in following posts. I might split this into four posts.

    Just the basic, also to lay members, if you engage with an atheist (or catholic, Mormon etc) and ask for additional info (which is fine) please assume the sender has read the info. In fact assume that the sender has read the whole book in question and critics of the book. Then listen carefully what the argument is or get it in writing, and only then study the merits of the argument.

    Example:
    Statement: “Justin Martyr did not know Matthew’s nativity, because he…”
    Don’t focus on proving argument that he did, but address the “because he…” part. That is how you engage and refute your opponent.

    Also the style continuously asking questions and additional info is OK for lay member. They are not expected to know all these issues. It is a bit boring and perhaps one sided but still OK. For church leaders and apologists not knowing the field and continuously asking links and further info about famous church fathers or basics of ANE religions feels a bit funny. I think they are expected to know those or if they don’t they should complain that the other side is not “engaging”.

    Just to your readers: I didn’t wear atheist shirt that night nor do I identify as a skeptic. If you have gone to Anglican Bible studies in the city or have gone to Dickson’s Simply Christianity or Life of Jesus presentations, you might have seen me there. I know all kinds of atheists, so try not to stereotype them.

    BTW you do know that I didn’t just simply comment “I don’t agree”, but even if I did I don’t understand why you would publish it. Controversies drive traffic and most readers of your blog support you any day over an atheist fool. Strangely also publicchristianity.org does not publish critical comments on their web site…

  4. hi Peter, thanks for your comment. Let me try and deal with what you say in order:

    1. I’m sorry that you feel aggrieved at not getting a copy of my script. In fairness, I don’t think I added any extra argumentation that I hadn’t already written to you. Of course, I may also have added some commentary to our people as to my perception of what is going on.

    2. In terms of “assuming that the sender has read the info” I’m afraid I’m not entirely sure what you’re saying. Can you clarify for me?

    3. You move on to what are, I think, criticisms of the way that I presented my material. I sought to show the arguments that you had used and work through them methodically. You may feel that this is, somehow, “boring” but the point I was making (and, I think, demonstrated) was that when one pushes into the detail of the claims that atheists such as yourself make (and, in particular, the specific claims that you made) then we see that they actually fall apart when the evidence itself is examined. That means, of course, a level of detailed examination. It was my experience in my email exchange with you that as soon as we moved to this level of actual detail that your argumenmt dried up and you resorted to “I don’t agree” rather than arguing the facts.

    4. On the evening in question you didn’t “wear a t-shirt” but it’s not exactly correct to imply that you were neutral in the matter. You came loaded with challenges to the Christian claims of historicity. In particular you charge me with “stereotyping” you. How have I done this? All I have done is engage with the arguments that you put to me by email and then made further commentary on those types of arguments in general. Can you please provide a specific example of where you have been “stereotyped”?

    5. In terms of commenting, you are more than welcome to comment here. I have my own comment policy and other sites will have their own. If you remain courteous then I’m sure we can have an engaging conversation. If, however, (as some of your peers feel the need to) you resort to insult then you’ll quickly find yourself banned. I’m sure, however, that won’t be the case.

  5. Peter, thanks again for commenting.
    I’m not sure I see any force in your comments re Ignatius and Matthew. Ignatius is clearly writing later than Matthew but any “implication” you draw from his reference to the star is only one that you, yourself, are inferring. It is, surely, far more reasonable to conclude that he is entirely familiar with that material that precedes him – particularly since he cites sayings from Matthew on a number of occasions in various letters. At this point the argument for a very late Matthew is utterly undermined so I don’t wonder that you try hard to discount Ignatius. But there it is.
    Even if one wants to run the argument that “Matthew” is a later compiler of this already-existing material (and there’s nothing which demands such a conclusion – it’s just the prejudice of the reader that insists upon a later date) it still doesn’t deal with the main claim which is that the material itself is late – a charge which Ignatius’ citations utterly dissembles. Even if one were to concede a late date for a “Matthew” compiling the sources (and there’s no actual reason to do so), the sources themselves are clearly early and thus the whole raison detre of trying to demonstrate the “late” Matthean authorship are rendered redundant.
    The bottom line is that Ignatius is entirely familiar with the natal star.

    As for Justin Martyr and the cave, your email of 22/4/10 may have a number of paragraphs but they don’t actually address the substantive points:

    The conflict is that Jesus was born in a house in Bethlehem or in a cave. Logically those are mutually exclusive. I’m well aware that apologists can harmonize mutually exclusive “historical” events. After all immediately after Jesus’ birth he was taken both to Jerusalem (Luke 2) and to Egypt to escape Herod of Jerusalem (Matthew 2).

    But there is no actual conflict, Peter! Nowhere do the scriptures actually say that Jesus was born in a house or a stable (as we would understand it today) – it’s pious later Christian tradition. You’ve created a conflict that doesn’t actually exist. Your claims about Luke and Matthew here also demonstrate that you’re grasping for “contradictions” – the events of Luke 2 are clearly dated 66 days after birth (Leviticus 12) whereas the flight to Egypt is at some point within 2 years of birth (note that Herod puts this age-limit on his slaughter (Matt 2:16)) so while the events of Matthew 2 continue in his narrative immediately from chapter 1, there is obviously some time delay between the 2.

    Clearly Matthew’s nativity story was around in some form, but if Justin Martyr had read it he would have quoted it exactly.

    You run this line regularly, Peter, but with no actual reason. Why must he have quoted it exactly? So that he can meet your own demands for verification? The claim is, frankly, absurd – you surely don’t hold to it in your own life when trying to establish the truth of something that happened in the past – it’s an entirely artificial demand placed upon the text. We don’t need to have a verbatim citation from a Father to demonstrate that they were familiar with the text. In fact, it’s almost laughable at this moment for you to run this line given the quite clear similarities between Justin’s account of the nativity and the text of Matthew (as outlined in the pdf above – I stop counting at similarity #20 because I think the readers get the point). That ‘s why I claim that you’ve not read the text because, frankly, it’s absurd (yes, I’m using that word again) to cite the section of Martyr that you did and then claim there is no familiarity with Matthew – it’s patently not the case.

    The alternative, that you have read the document properly and yet you simply don’t recognise the stark similarities is (I would have though) an insult to your intelligence.

    You will, of course, run the line that Matthew is later than Justin but where is the actual evidence? Other apologists (as we have seen) are citing Matthean material. But more than this, they are citing this material (along with Martyr) as authoritative – that is they are clearly referring to a pre-existing set of data in order to establish their point. The most reasonable explanation is that therefore the Matthean document already exists – you have nothing but your prejudice to suggest otherwise.

    cont…

  6. …cont

    Trust me I know how well Christian apologists can quote verbatim the scripture. All famous and studied Christians can endlessly quote verses after verses by heart, Justin does not. Once Matthew is widely read Christians do not make up Nativity stories like Ignatius and Justin.
    But you have yet to establish in any way that Ignatius and Justin “made up” anything! There is no evidence for it – they make no claim in contradiction to the Matthean and Lukan nativities – instead they appear to reply upon those nativities for their own restatements. The only issue that one might raise in any way is that of the “cave” but even then,as noted above, it’s not a contradiction with the text of the gospels.

    The “cave” claims slowly disappear and modern Christians don’t tell cave-birth stories at Christmas.

    Yes, you’re right. First, there is no mention of a specific cave in the gospels themselves – Christians relied consistently on the text of Scripture itself so it is not surprising that the “cave” would not be mentioned. Martyr mentions it because it is an entirely natural way of speaking about where Jesus was born. Plus, of course, he wishes to make a specific point about Mithraism.

    I have listened to numerous Christmas sermons but I’ve yet to hear that Jesus filled the Isaiah 33:16 prophecy.
    Except, of course, a little-known apologist called Justin Martyr. You heard it there. So it’s obviously a position that has a very long pedigree.

    So logically if Justin Martyr has similarities with Matthew (and Luke) it does not follow that Matthew 1-2 predates Justin Martyr as you argued. Notice how cleanly Matthew 3 starts. Surely anti-adoptionists would not have added Matthew 1-2, no? wink
    No, not at all. There is no necessity for this view. Logically it’s possible except that it refuses to take into account the way that the Matthean material is used – both by many authors and also as authoritative.

    I’m left at the end of your email wondering what the actual argument is.

    My point on Hezon Gabriel is that there is simply no crisis for the Christian. The text demonstrates a typical Jewish expression both hoping for resurrection of some form and putting it in the idiom of “three days”. Such Jewish apocalyptic texts drew heavily from OT images so you end up simply demonstrating that the OT expectation, as understood by some Jews in the era running up to Jesus, was of a resurrection framed in the language of “three days” (seen, for example, in Hosea 6). But why is this a conflict for the Christian when a fundamental claim we are making is that the New TEstament explication of the Christ event is entirely consistent with the Old Testament anticipation? It is, again, absurd to argue that this is somehow “copying from an earlier idea” as though that were a terrible thing when the New Testament spends so much time seeking to demonstrate that the Christ event IS the fulfilment of all those earlier “ideas”. The charge of “plagiarism” on the NT is ludicrous.

    So yes, there is a pattern emerging – sadly I think it is of debatable claims being made that don’t actually take the sources seriously. No doubt you will disagree

  7. 2/4 posts

    David, I’ll comment your audio first and then I can address your comments if still needed.

    Topic: “Early apologists (Ignatius and Justin Martyr) had no knowledge of the NT infancy narratives.”

    Here you don’t address my points made in the pub Church and in my email 22/4/2010

    Re Ignatius I wrote:
    “If both Matthew and Ignatius tell a different version of birth star story it does not logically follow that Ignatius knew Matthew. However your statement “He was aware of the same historical claims made in Matthew of a star” is likely to be true but this does not logically support your early dating Matthew.”
    You did not address the issue.

    You state (10min:30sec) that Ignatius might have known about Jesus’ star independently implying that Matthew’s nativity might not have been around 115AD. I have to agree with that.

    Re Justin Martyr:
    You said (10:50)
    “He said Justin Martyr has no idea of the infancy narratives because he says Jesus was born in a cave. And then he gives me a citation. And that’s it.”

    This is simply not true. This is false witnessing and you should repent. In my email 22/April/2010 I wrote five paragraphs (379 words) regarding Justin Martyr. I addressed the in/outside Bethlehem issue. I made the argument why Justin does not quote Matthew. I made the point why Justin talks about Mithraism and why Christians did not accept the cave birth. I also made the point why modern Christians don’t see Jesus filling the Isaiah 33:16 prophecy.

    You made further claim (12:20):
    “You never chase the reference”
    You know this is not true. This is false witnessing and you should repent. As you have read my email 22/April/2010 I addressed the Justin’s Mithraism sentence from the citation I gave you, and mentioned the controversial Isaiah 33:16 prophecy. Isaiah 33:16 only appears in Justin’s books as a footnote and you have to go to chapter 70 on that book where it is with another Mithras/cave sentence. So you know that I have read my citation and even chased the related footnotes.

    Actually in your email 20/May/2011 you acknowledged that I referred to other chapter in Justin’s book stating:
    “So Martyr speaks of Jesus born in a “cave” in order to challenge the followers of Mithras (see again how he continues in chapter 72 which you reference).”
    But to your church members you claim that I have not read the text…

    You made further claim (12:25):
    “You know that [Justin Martyr] is familiar with Matthew [birth narrative]”
    This is a rookie mistake. You need to establish who copied who or do they have a third common source. You assert that Matthew’s birth narrative was first. I provided evidence for my position.

    You imply (49:40) that I use circular logic to justify that Justin did not know Matthew’s nativity:
    “He is going “it couldn’t have been Matthew’s Gospels therefore it couldn’t have been Matthew’s
    Gospels”“.
    But sadly from my email 22/May/2010 you do know that is not the case.

    Re Hazon Gabriel you state (18:30)
    “How does [Revelation of Gabriel] line up to the claims that Christianity is based on pagan myths” (also in your handout page 6)

    This is a straw man, I never claimed that. I wrote to you 22/April/2010
    “We discussed [in the pub Church] about Christian events and ideas which existed before Jesus and I mentioned that conquering death after three days was mentioned by the Jews (Hazon Gabriel)…”
    You were not aware of Hazon Gabriel in the pub, so I sent you the link where to read about it. You misstated my claim to make me look ignorant and then don’t bother to engage with my argument.

    I see a pattern emerging here but I’ll post more on following two posts.

  8. 3/4 posts

    I mentioned in the Pub Hilaria, the yearly celebration of Attis resurrection on 25th March. Attis predates Christianity and originated in the area of modern day Turkey where Paul was also born. I gave that as an example of old pagan idea found in Christianity. You did know anything about Hilaria or Attis so we did not really had a chance to talk about it.

    You wrote in your 2/May/2010 handout:
    “However, you have not yet provided one single piece of direct evidence that Christianity drew from pagan sources. I await those exact references with interest.” (Page 7)

    Yet another strawman as I already wrote to you 22/April/2010
    “I did not claim that Christianity “drew from pagan sources” however concepts like trinity, symbolic blood drinking, Epiphany, Sunday worship, speaking in tongues, logos, many more Christian symbols and ideas appeared in pagan world not in Judaism.”
    It is easy to find references to these in classical literature, but what constitutes as a “proof” that one religion “drew” from another is more subjective.

    Christians don’t have a problem accepting that Demeter worship drew ideas from earlier Isis worship, but they deny that their later developed trinity, which was first suggested in Egypt, came from earlier Egyptian ideas. Could be just a coincidence I guess.

    You said:
    The claim: Early Church father’s don’t quote from NT (23:20)

    You misrepresent my view here. This was never my positions nor do I know anyone who claims this. It is clear that late first century Clement of Rome refers to Paul’s writings. My issues were the Pastoral Epistles, nativities, and Gospels.

    Did Ignatius know Luke? Ignatius was a famous early second century Church father who wrote ~seven famous letters. In all those widely circulated letters (we have several versions of those; short ones and long ones = forgeries). We have only one reference with has similarities with Luke’s Gospel.

    It is a bit of a rookie mistake to copy from the Internet, especially from apologist web sites, without doing a bit checking. It is also dangerous to have a priori assumption that one early author copied from another. How about if they drew from other common or even independent sources? Maybe your bigger mistake is that you did not look at the context of these sentences. (Google “Never Read a Bible Verse by Gregory Koukl”).

    Let’s look at the text:
    Ignatius:
    He said to them, “Lay hold, handle Me, and see that I am not an incorporeal spirit.” And immediately they touched Him, and believed, being convinced both by His flesh and spirit

    Luke:
    He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.” When he had said this, he showed them his hands and feet. And while they still did not believe it…

    I guess if you had really bothered to look at the issue, you could have checked the Greek text:
    Ignatius: ψηλαφήστε με καὶ ἴδετε, ὅτι οὐκ εἰμὶ δαιμόνιον ἀσώματον (CCEL)
    Luke: ψηλαφήσατέ με καὶ ἴδετε, ὅτι πνεῦμα σάρκα καὶ ὀστέα  οὐκ  ἔχει καθὼς ἐμὲ θεωρεῖτε ἔχοντα (Perseus)
    So “touch me and see, because” is the same but then your case falls apart. Surely Ignatius would have quoted a correct full sentence.

    Ignatius does not quote word for word which is uncommon for later Church fathers. Early Church fathers like modern ones can cite endless number of Bible verses by heart. And even if they don’t know something by heart they’ll immediately notice if someone misquotes or modifies a verse. Also note how according to Ignatius disciples believed immediately while Luke’s disciples do not. Note how Luke seems to expand Ignatius’ case; did Luke have Ignatius letter type of material to write his Gospels? Looks like Luke was already harmonizing sources…

    So did famous Ignatius forget his scene, the only Luke’s Gospel scene he mentions? Or is it more likely that Luke drew from Ignatius?

    In my email to you 22/April/2010 I also commented my view on Ignatius knowing Matthew and Clement knowing Luke. I’ll leave it to your readers as homework (hint check context).

    I think at least you could have told your church members why I reject Ignatius’ and Clement’s knowledge of Gospels…

  9. I mentioned in the Pub Hilaria, the yearly celebration of Attis resurrection on 25th March. Attis predates Christianity and originated in the area of modern day Turkey where Paul was also born. I gave that as an example of old pagan idea found in Christianity. You did know anything about Hilaria or Attis so we did not really had a chance to talk about it.
    But you didn’t actually make an argument. What is this supposed pagan idea that is found in Christianity? How does Christianity adopt it? there is no argument here yet.

    Yet another strawman as I already wrote to you 22/April/2010
    “I did not claim that Christianity “drew from pagan sources” however concepts like trinity, symbolic blood drinking, Epiphany, Sunday worship, speaking in tongues, logos, many more Christian symbols and ideas appeared in pagan world not in Judaism.”

    Then I’m confused. With the one breath you claim that you’re not making the link, then with the next you make the link. But, at the end of the day there’s still no argument here. You make a whole stack of claims without backing a single one up. How do pagan texts use concepts such as (e.g.) “Trinity” and “blood drinking”? Where are the parallels in Christianity? None of this evidence is provided. You just say “go and look at the text”. Show us what you’re actually arguing! For example…

    but they deny that their later developed trinity, which was first suggested in Egypt, came from earlier Egyptian ideas.
    Again this is asserted without being demonstrated. How does the “trinity” come from earlier Egpytian ideas? To what extent do these ideas look like orthodox Trinitarianism? How do the Christians derive their notions of Trinitarianism from the Egyptian ideas? Where is the evidence, let alone the argument?!

    Your next claim is one that you make repeatedly…
    Surely Ignatius would have quoted a correct full sentence.
    but WHY “surely”? There is nothing to suggest that he must quote verbatim. In fact it runs contrary to the evidence we have in the New Testament itself where the writers consistently cite from a mixture of sources (principally MT & LXX) or what is apparently an amalgamation of the 2 or even a paraphrasing. So why “must” Ignatius quote verbatim when the practice of the NT itself is not to do so? You set up a false criteria for authenticity that the text of the Bible itself does not emulate.

    So yes, the greek of Ignatius differs from Luke. And yes, I had “bothered to look”. I see Ignatius citing from Luke, but paraphrasing part of his answer, just as the New Testament authors do.

    And your argument that the Early Church Fathers are faultless quoters of the New Testament is also bogus. Those of us who read the New Testament in the original language have critical editions which show all the variations in readings of earl manuscripts including the Fathers. So, as just one example, in Luke 24:32 (a few verses before 24:39 which we discuss above) Jerome is recorded as citing the same verse in three different ways in three different pieces of writing as well as Origen who has 2 different citations. Augustine and Ambrose are also cited as having variant readings to some of Jerome’s. The point, of course, is that your claim that the later Fathers all quote “verbatim” is nonsense – they differ from each other and even in their own writing.

    So for all your “hints” and “go read up”s there’s still nothing here of substance.

  10. Re Pastoral Epistles
    Scholars argue if Polycarp knew them, majority of them agree with your view. So let’s call it that those existed ~150AD. However your statement:
    “Marcion cites (but obviously rejects) 1 Timothy” (handout page 14) is strange
    The relate text from Adversus Marcion 5:21 which you refer is:
    “On the Epistle to Philemon. This epistle alone has so profited by its brevity as to escape Marcion’s falsifying hands. As however he has accepted this letter to a single person, I do not see why he has rejected two written to Timothy and one to Titus about the church system. I suppose he had a whim to meddle even with the number of the epistles.”

    So according to Tertullian, Marcion omitted the Epistle to the Pastoral Epistles. Your claim that Marcion cites 1 Timothy is not true.

    Even your very optimistic ntcanon.org web site shows that Ignatius and Justin Martyr do not quote Pastoral Epistles. In fact nobody quotes those before Polycarp. Ntcanon.org seems to tell us also that Ireneus was the first one to quote Titus ~180AD. So I just can’t see those three being written by Paul. This has also become a majority scholarly view.

    Christians call them pseudographical, others call them forgeries. Nobody ever liked forgeries. The problem is how did the Early Christians know which were forgeries by Church father which were not. But then again some early Christians were quite relaxed about adding to the text like Mark’s ending and John’s ending. And careful study of Gospel of John’s show how it was put together from couple of different versions of the text (Once people are shown the seams it is an eye opener) And even the oldest Latin based Bible we have has a single composite Gospel instead of four gospels, so some Christian leaders were flexible with the text. There were more examples in my email.

    You said (70:20)”
    “I send this email to the guy and he wrote back. He basically went
    “I’m not convinced. I don’t agree. You are wrong.” And I wrote back to him and said “surprised you should do that. I spent a lot of time working on this writing, giving you argumentation and frankly I don’t find “I don’t agree” convincing”… Still have no response to it. “
    David, this is false witnessing and you know it. I never went “I’m not convinced. I don’t agree. You are wrong”. That email I sent you had 2314 words addressing 16 separate points! After that you had your presentation and did not want to continue our discussions. Why do you want to misrepresent your opponents? Why do you do this David?

    The time line was:
    I emailed you plenty of reference links 19/April.
    You replied 20/April with a solid and well research and referenced email.
    I replied 21&22;/April with 2314 words addressing 16 separate points.
    You gave your presentation on 2/May
    You replied to my email 4/May saying that you are very busy and I’m not engaging.

    You told that you checked the Greek text and concluded that Ignatius differs from Luke. Yet you choose to tell your people that Ignatius cites from Luke. I’m worried about you David. You must be under a lot of stress, so no hard feelings misrepresenting my arguments. If you ever want to make a presentation what an atheist claim about the Bible and what the arguments are let me help you and write those for you. Then you can write your commentary and give your presentation. And remember if you really have the truth you don’t have to misrepresent anyone.

    David, thanks for letting me respond on your blog. I really appreciate that. I hope you and your family are well and I hope you are successful and find happiness where ever life takes you.

    All the best
    Peter

  11. Peter, sorry for not getting this comment up promptly enough.

    “Marcion cites (but obviously rejects) 1 Timothy” (handout page 14) is strange
    The relate text from Adversus Marcion 5:21 which you refer is:
    “On the Epistle to Philemon. This epistle alone has so profited by its brevity as to escape Marcion’s falsifying hands. As however he has accepted this letter to a single person, I do not see why he has rejected two written to Timothy and one to Titus about the church system. I suppose he had a whim to meddle even with the number of the epistles.”

    So according to Tertullian, Marcion omitted the Epistle to the Pastoral Epistles. Your claim that Marcion cites 1 Timothy is not true.

    I think you misunderstand the argument. Tertullian notes that Marcion _rejected_ 1Timothy. In order to reject 1Timothy, he had to know of 1Timothy therefore QED 1Timothy existed at the time of Marcion.

    Christians call them pseudographical, others call them forgeries.
    You write this as though they were 2 different things. The point of the detailed argument I made to you last year (and included in the pdf) is that the entire classical world (not just Christians) regarded pseudepigraphy as forgery.

    The problem is how did the Early Christians know which were forgeries by Church father which were not.
    Exactly, and this was already addressed in the email last year. I find it strange that, yet again, you are simply not engaging with the arguments put to you. Instead you resort to bald assertion:

    But then again some early Christians were quite relaxed about adding to the text like Mark’s ending and John’s ending. And careful study of Gospel of John’s show how it was put together from couple of different versions of the text
    But which early Christians are these that are “quite relaxed” about additional material at the end of Mark? The earliest copies we have of an extended ending to Mark are from the 5th Century. Can you provide anything earlier? If not, then why the claim about “early” Christians? It makes absolutely no sense and certainly can’t be sustained from the actual evidence. As for the “compilation” of John’s gospel – again, where is the actual evidence? If you’re arguing that John may have used more than one source, where is the dilemma for the Christian? No-one denies that the gospel authors used multiple sources!

    “I send this email to the guy and he wrote back. He basically went
    “I’m not convinced. I don’t agree. You are wrong.” And I wrote back to him and said “surprised you should do that. I spent a lot of time working on this writing, giving you argumentation and frankly I don’t find “I don’t agree” convincing”… Still have no response to it. “
    David, this is false witnessing and you know it.

    Here’s what I wrote:

    [But also, I’ve wondered long and hard how to respond given the fact that your last email to me does not actually engage with much of the detail that I wrote. Your repeated response of either simply reasserting what you have claimed, telling me “just to read it” or, even more basically, just announcing “I am not convinced” does not actually progress the conversation along. You also repeatedly tell me what “Christian apologists” do or should do without actually bothering to have a meaningful exchange with my own apology.

    If you are actually interested in engaging in the detail of the arguments that I have made then I would genuinely welcome further extended conversation. Otherwise I fear that I am wasting your time.]

    I stand by that. I made voluminous replies to you but you simply never engage with the detail of the responses made to you. For example, in the final email from you you wrote this:
    I don’t find Mounce’s three arguments convincing. …It is so easy to come up with counter arguments.

    Great. But why don’t you find it convincing? Where are the counter-arguments that actually deal with the argument made? You just rejected it without explanation. In fact the whole exchange was telling for the extent to which you never actually responded to detailed argument put to you.

    And so, at the end of that day, we’re left with the sad conclusion that you don’t want to actually properly discuss these issues substantively. If you do, then how about actually responding to the arguments made in response to your own arguments? If you don’t then it’s not “false witness” to claim that you’re not actually engaging – it’s just a statement of fact.

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