Steven Carr's Concluding Statement
Here is my closing statement in this debate.
This closing statement is intended by me to provide a summary of the debate and to give my opinion on how it is went. As it is aimed at readers, I hope Steve Motyer will not mind if he finds himself addressed in the third person.
I would like to thank him for participating in this debate, and his kind and courteous dealings with me.
It has been educational for me. I am conscious of not always having been as clear and concise as I would have liked, but it has been a good learning experience.
I would also like to thank Peter Kirby. He has given some excellent notes on my Feedback page , showing that only a few educated Jews knew Greek. He reminded me of places in John such as John 3:3-4. There , Nicodemus misunderstands the word 'anethon'. It can mean 'again', as well as 'from above'. This only works in Greek. Of course, this is solved by having Jesus and the disciples speak Greek, as well as Aramaic and Hebrew (as per your Opening Statement).
Naturally, if the Bible says Peter wrote a letter in Greek, then they would have been able to read and write Greek, as well as Hebrew (Luke 4). Is there no end to the accomplishments of Galilean peasants?
I would also like to than Peter Kirby for reminding me that I should ask whether or not you believed in the signs and miracles recorded in Tacitus and Josephus. Both historians, the very historians Christians use to prove that Jesus existed, state clearly that their miracles had eye-witness evidence. Josephus's Jewish Wars was written within ten years of the events, by a participant, who gives the same claims to accuracy in his introduction as Luke did. So did a heifer give birth to a lamb in the middle of the Temple? Did Vespasian cure people of blindness?
Rather to my surprise, Dr. Motyer conceded upfront in his opening statement that the early Christian scribes made 'clearly deliberate alterations'.
Dr. Motyer claims that these alterations are unimportant, but his last email cites some of the most disputed verses in Luke (22:43-44 and 22:19-20) as evidence. So perhaps they are important after all. Luke 22:43-44 are missing from p66 (vid) and p75, manuscripts he cited as evidence of a reliable text.
One thing I hope that readers will have picked up is that sceptics are not afraid of the Bible. The Bible is our evidence.
It is Dr.Motyer who has to come up with possible explanations. Explanations such as the disciples heard what Jesus prayed in Mark 14 before they fell asleep (3 times!), or the assumption of a Pauline 'mole' seem thin to me, but as the alternative is just to cite John 14:26, what else can Dr.Motyer do?
I don't even have to mention the way that these astonishing events in Palestine were missed by every historian other than passing references to a crucifixion by Josephus (93 AD) and Tacitus (2nd century).
How did people like Seneca and Juvenal miss all these things? They were sharp individuals. Most amazingly of all, how could Philo of Alexandria miss the appearance of the Son of God and the Logos?
Dr.Motyer seems to admit that Matthew did a lot of editing on his sources. Even the Sermon on the Mount consists of material Matthew has drawn together. Matthew and Luke both edited material from Mark. If Mark is an inspired, canonical work, why would it need editing?
Dr.Motyer has also failed to explain why Matthew and Luke would use Mark at all, if, as he seems to suggest, all these New Testament characters were available to be interviewed. Why quote the monkey when you can quote the organ-grinder?
Dr.Motyer has also failed to explain why there are so few Gospels, if Mary,Nicodemus, Elizabeth,Joanna, Salome etc were available to be interviewed. Surely Gospels should have sprung up like wildfire if genuine oral traditions were circulating from Palestine to Spain, but every other Gospel other than our four is false.
As I pointed out, the Valentinians claimed to have oral tradition from Paul via Theudas. Why does Dr.Motyer disbelieve this? At least the Gnostics name the person who gave this oral testimony, which is more than the Gospels do. (All four are anonymous.)
I compared parallels between the Old and New Testament to the parallels we find in the Qu'ran and the Book of Mormon. Christians, rightly, take these parallels as obvious proof of their non-historicity. Would Dr. Motyer work so hard to find saving clauses for the Qu'ran?
His analogy to the Kennedy's assassination is not comparable to the examples I gave. Assassinations really do happen more than once. How often do prophets raise people from the dead? I also pointed out that the parallels included word for word copying. To give one example, Luke copies out 'kai edoken auton te metri auto'. To show that this is proof, I challenge Dr.Motyer to find the phrase 'and he gave him back to his mother.', in any book which is not a commentary on the Bible.
Stephen Motyer's Concluding Statement
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