My Saul Challenge

Tertiumquid

Well-known member
Luther's statement that the Bible is the simplest and clearest of any writing on earth is false, whether in or out of the context of debating the Papal Bull.

No, one must read statements in context, that's how honest evaluations of texts should be performed. I seriously doubt you've actually read the quote you're citing in its context... as you keep cutting-and-pasting the quote with "5. Martin Luther, Luther’s Works..." which is the same format R. Scott Clark used in his blog post here. If you actually did utilize Clark's post, it's all the more obvious yours is an agenda absent of treating contexts fairly. Luther (and Clark) are simply saying the Bible is the final authority which determines the veracity secondary authorities. In that sense, if the Bible is the final authority that judges secondary authorities, it is simpler and clearer able to be judge and jury of lesser authorities. In practice: if one picks up any volume of Christian theology, however old or new, its veracity is determined by whether or not it can be substantiated by the ultimate authority.

We could open a thread made solely of Luther quotes or other foundational Lutheran quotes explicitly using phrases like "Bible alone", "NT and OT alone", etc. to show how they explicitly defined the phrase.
Rather than deal with excessive Luther quotes... which... is often the typical method of propagandists, I'll re-post the quote from LW 32 and add some commentary on the Lutheran board.
 

rakovsky

Well-known member
No it does not, not if he was risen in a new body.

And an empty tomb is not implied if he was not buried in a new tomb.


Do you think Ezekiel is talking about a bunch of skeletons wandering around?

That is all that is left of the people. If God raises them and does NOT given them new bodies, then all they will be when risen is walking skeletons. I very much doubt that is what Ezekiel had in mind.
My point was that Ezekiel saw the resurrection as physical and of flesh and bones, and that this was why Ezekiel went into physical flesh and sinew details.
Here is Josephus on the Pharisees:
14. But then as to the two other orders at first mentioned, the Pharisees are those who are esteemed most skillful in the exact explication of their laws, and introduce the first sect. These ascribe all to fate [or providence], and to God, and yet allow, that to act what is right, or the contrary, is principally in the power of men, although fate does co-operate in every action. They say that all souls are incorruptible, but that the souls of good men only are removed into other bodies, - but that the souls of bad men are subject to eternal punishment.
- Jewish War 2.8.14​

Looks to me like the Jews were expecting to get new bodies.
I researched this quote a lot. There is a translation issue. Josephus was describing pharisaic teaching and meant that the bodies are different in the sense that they have a changed quality, not that the flesh stays dead. He gave other statements in his writings showing this.

 

rakovsky

Well-known member
Even if you are right about much of this, what is important is whether Jesus was erroneously perceived as a threat to Rome's power, that would be reason enough for him to be crucified and denied honourable burial. Remember how Jesus entered Jerusalem:

8 And many people spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches which they had cut from the fields. 9 And those who went in front and those who followed were shouting:
“Hosanna!
Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord;
10 Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David;
Hosanna in the highest!”

These are the words of a people about to rebel against Rome. They are literally saying they expect to overthrow Roman rule very soon.
Rome, like Persia and David-era Egypt, had long experience with client kings.
It's not necessarily a call to arms. The Sermon on the Mount was about the meek and peacemakers. Bearing another's cloak and turning the other cheek alluded to Roman laws that allowed Roman soldiers to impose only 1 mile of forced cloak carrying, etc.

He wasn't the king of rebel like Spartacus, and Jesus' conflicts were rather with religious authorities. Hence, the NT version makes sense that those authorities prevailed on Pilate. But having accepted their imposition, Pilate was not under compulsion to desecrate or dishonor the body of the sympathetic Jesus or put it in a mass grave. The NT describes His healing of centurions' families. With a sympathetic relationship, Pilate can allow niceties like this.

There are other cases like this with Rome exercising mercy like their mercy to the major rebel commander Josephus and honor of Josephus' request to take down his 3 friends, one of whom survived. I believe that Josephus Bar Matthias was alluding to Joseph of Arimathea's request to take down the bodies from the crosses. In Greek in the NT, Joseph asked for Jesus' soma, which specifically means sleeping body. This reminds me of the survival of Josephus' friend.
 

rakovsky

Well-known member
Yeah... I think we are missing or misunderstanding each other. I am not claiming anything about the tomb that you are discussing with Pix. I agree that Jesus thought he was the Jewish messianic savior - not a savior of gentiles. So we agree that Jesus would attach himself to these wholly jewish prophesies with wholly jewish outcomes in his grandiose sense of himself. That having failed, the fledgling Christian faith needed to assert a new gospel meaning on both sides of the crucifixion... 1) an attempt to continue to co-opt Jewish history to itself even in the light of the messianic failure, and 2) create a very expanded supernaturally rhetorical view on what it all meant, because what they got wasn't what they thought was going to go down. They were all gob-smacked and scrambling to salvage something from it all.
It feels hard to retroactively reconstruct or prove the "original" teaching or doctrinal understanding, like before the Crucifixion, like how it is hard to prove exactly what "actually" happened with the Resurrection appearances.

For example, one hypothesis, like what you are presenting, is that Jesus was aiming for a wholly Jewish outcome, and that gentile conversion was ad post hoc after the Crucifixion. However, I believe that gentile enlightenment/conversion was also one of the original goals, as per Isaiah's prophecy about being a light to the gentiles. There are lots of stories about Jesus interacting favorably with gentiles, like with the SyroPhoenician woman and healing the centurion's families. Some Jews today theorize that the Messiah would be blessing and converting the gentile world, thus making his mission not wholly Jewish, although it seems that there would also be theories of a would-be modern Messiah being in conflict with the Gentile world.
 

rakovsky

Well-known member
No, one must read statements in context, that's how honest evaluations of texts should be performed. I seriously doubt you've actually read the quote you're citing in its context... as you keep cutting-and-pasting the quote with "5. Martin Luther, Luther’s Works..." which is the same format R. Scott Clark used in his blog post here. If you actually did utilize Clark's post, it's all the more obvious yours is an agenda absent of treating contexts fairly. Luther (and Clark) are simply saying the Bible is the final authority which determines the veracity secondary authorities. In that sense, if the Bible is the final authority that judges secondary authorities, it is simpler and clearer able to be judge and jury of lesser authorities. In practice: if one picks up any volume of Christian theology, however old or new, its veracity is determined by whether or not it can be substantiated by the ultimate authority.


Rather than deal with excessive Luther quotes... which... is often the typical method of propagandists, I'll re-post the quote from LW 32 and add some commentary on the Lutheran board.
Dear Tertium,
Here is how the statement came up: I brought up Luther's quote from Works vol 32 because someone suggested here that the Reformation demanded the simplest reading of Jesus' chronology in the Olivet Discourse.

I responded that per Luther's quote, the Bible is the simplest, clearest, and most reliable of any writing: "Holy Scripture must necessarily be clearer, simpler, and more reliable than any other writings."

I added, this statement is manifestly mistaken, and nor did Luther teach that the simplest construct must be the correct one for a verse. In fact, Luther gave a different interpretation on "this generation" in the Olivet Discourse than my interlocutors.

Luther's repeated definitions of Sola Scriptura are an interesting topic though. Lots of Luther quotes are good if they are specific and on point, ie. where he specifically uses the term Bible Alone or very similar terms.

Holy Scripture must necessarily be clearer, simpler, and more reliable than any other writings. Especially since all teachers verify their own statements through the Scriptures as clearer and more reliable writings, and desire their own writings to be confirmed and explained by them. But nobody can ever substantiate an obscure saying by one that is more obscure; therefore, necessity forces us to run to the Bible with the writings of all teachers, and to obtain there a verdict and judgment upon them. Scripture alone is the true lord and master of all writings and doctrine on earth. If that is not granted, what is Scripture good for? The more we reject it, the more we become satisfied with men’s books and human teachers.5
You wrote that "Luther (and Clark) are simply saying the Bible is the final authority which determines the veracity secondary authorities. In that sense, if the Bible is the final authority that judges secondary authorities, it is simpler and clearer able to be judge and jury of lesser authorities."
There are several layers of assertions in this statement. Does making the Bible the highest or most authoritative judge judge really make it the simplest and clearest and most reliable judge? If two solid educated Protestants read the Bible and reach opposite conclusions compared to what other writings would give, then it doesn't appear the clearest, simplest, and most reliable judge of any writing.

Further, Luther in his lead statement does not say that the Bible is the simplest and clearest choice of any writing to judge another writing, but declares succinctly that it is the simplest of any writing period, which is a manifestly false statement.
 

The Pixie

Well-known member
My point was that Ezekiel saw the resurrection as physical and of flesh and bones, and that this was why Ezekiel went into physical flesh and sinew details.
But surely it is new flesh, not the original flesh, given they were only dusty bones.

I researched this quote a lot. There is a translation issue. Josephus was describing pharisaic teaching and meant that the bodies are different in the sense that they have a changed quality, not that the flesh stays dead. He gave other statements in his writings showing this.

I am not sure what you think that article says - as far as I can see, it agrees with my position. From it:

What Josephus is talking about here is the reconstituted, resurrected body they will receive on the last day—not a series of bodies received in different lifetimes during history.

The righteous will get new bodies when the resurrection happened. I am absolutely not suggesting he believed in reincarnation!

What are these new bodies like? Josephus does not say, but Paul tells us they are of a different nature, Daniel that they will shine like stars and Jesus that they will be more akin to angels than man.

Rome, like Persia and David-era Egypt, had long experience with client kings.
It's not necessarily a call to arms. The Sermon on the Mount was about the meek and peacemakers. Bearing another's cloak and turning the other cheek alluded to Roman laws that allowed Roman soldiers to impose only 1 mile of forced cloak carrying, etc.
Jesus may well not have been making a call to arms, but the accounts of him riding into Jerusalem - if true - making it clear the Jews expected that. The messianic prophesies all indicate that.

And Jesus' charge sheet also indicates that.

I think it possible the later Christians changed Jesus message to one of peace, but even if you are right and that is what he preached, the Romans still had reason to execute him and ensure he did not get honourable burial. They were more interested in crushing any possible rebellion than in ensure justice for any specific Jew.

He wasn't the king of rebel like Spartacus, and Jesus' conflicts were rather with religious authorities. Hence, the NT version makes sense that those authorities prevailed on Pilate. But having accepted their imposition, Pilate was not under compulsion to desecrate or dishonor the body of the sympathetic Jesus or put it in a mass grave. The NT describes His healing of centurions' families. With a sympathetic relationship, Pilate can allow niceties like this.
This is the Jesus who called a Canaanite woman a dog and said his message was only for the Jews.

I think it rather more likely stories such as healing of Romans were later elaborations, made up to help sell the religion to the Romans. Note that they are not in the earliest gospel.

There are other cases like this with Rome exercising mercy like their mercy to the major rebel commander Josephus and honor of Josephus' request to take down his 3 friends, one of whom survived.
His friends were not rebel leaders, so are quite different.

Josephus was released by sucking up to Vaspasian - saying he had a divine vision of him becoming emperor. I am not aware that he was ever sentenced to death, but I could be wrong. Bear in mind that Josephus had already betrayed his people - in principle at least - by surviving the suicide pact.

I believe that Josephus Bar Matthias was alluding to Joseph of Arimathea's request to take down the bodies from the crosses. In Greek in the NT, Joseph asked for Jesus' soma, which specifically means sleeping body. This reminds me of the survival of Josephus' friend.
I think it is well established that the Jewish authorities would ask that the bodies be brought down to satisfy their custom, and this was, at least on some occasions, allowed. I do not think we can be certain, but it is believable that Joseph of Arimathea made the request for Jesus' body, just as he did for any other crucifixion victim.

But the custom did not require the body to be buried honourable, only that it was interred. Pilate had no reason to allow honourable burial, and Joseph of Arimathea had no reason to request it, or to perform it.
 

rakovsky

Well-known member
But surely it is new flesh, not the original flesh, given they were only dusty bones.
Pixie,
Ezekiel 37 says,
3. And he said unto me, Son of man, can these bones live? And I answered, O Lord God, thou knowest.

4. Again he said unto me, Prophesy upon these bones, and say unto them, O ye dry bones, hear the word of the Lord.

5. Thus saith the Lord God unto these bones; Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye shall live:
In verse 3, the prophet expresses his bewilderment at whether the dry bones can come alive again, similar to like your own impression of how amazing and unlikely this would be.

Then in v. 5, God says to those bones that those dry bones will live. The verses thereafter describe the re-forming and renewal process.

I am not sure what you think that article says - as far as I can see, it agrees with my position.
In your position, I think, Jesus' corpse stayed dead. It stayed laying in the ground wherever Joseph last put it on Friday or Saturday and was still laying there days later, and it was rather his soul that rose in a light form body. As much as I can tell, you see this as contiguous with Josephus' explanation, which you read as the risen getting separate bodies.

In the article by the NC Register, however, the dead flesh corpse reenlivens:
There is continuity because it is fundamentally the same body: “It” (singular) is sown, and “it” is raised.

But there is also a difference, because its initial condition is natural and corruptible...
That is, the same body that died and rotted resurrects, but now in a new state.

The article gives a theory that makes sense as to why Josephus called it another body:
Yet the continuity between the two does not stop him from speaking of their two conditions as if they were two bodies—a natural one and a spiritual one.

In reality, it’s one body that experiences a dramatic change in condition.

Josephus is describing the same thing, only he isn’t making clear the continuity between the body we have in this life and the resurrected body—presumably to keep the Pharisees’ belief in the resurrection from seeming “too weird” for his Greco-Roman audience.
Jesus may well not have been making a call to arms, but the accounts of him riding into Jerusalem - if true - making it clear the Jews expected that. The messianic prophesies all indicate that.

And Jesus' charge sheet also indicates that.

I think it possible the later Christians changed Jesus message to one of peace, but even if you are right and that is what he preached, the Romans still had reason to execute him and ensure he did not get honourable burial. They were more interested in crushing any possible rebellion than in ensure justice for any specific Jew.


This is the Jesus who called a Canaanite woman a dog and said his message was only for the Jews.

I think it rather more likely stories such as healing of Romans were later elaborations, made up to help sell the religion to the Romans. Note that they are not in the earliest gospel.


His friends were not rebel leaders, so are quite different.

Josephus was released by sucking up to Vaspasian - saying he had a divine vision of him becoming emperor. I am not aware that he was ever sentenced to death, but I could be wrong. Bear in mind that Josephus had already betrayed his people - in principle at least - by surviving the suicide pact.


I think it is well established that the Jewish authorities would ask that the bodies be brought down to satisfy their custom, and this was, at least on some occasions, allowed. I do not think we can be certain, but it is believable that Joseph of Arimathea made the request for Jesus' body, just as he did for any other crucifixion victim.

But the custom did not require the body to be buried honourable, only that it was interred. Pilate had no reason to allow honourable burial, and Joseph of Arimathea had no reason to request it, or to perform it.
What we are debating is whether Jesus got buried in a tomb by Joseph.
You are saying that it can't happen because
- Jesus was killed as a rebel leader
- Mercy for Josephus doesn't work as an analogy because Josephus was a panderer
- They were interested in stopping an honorable burial because they wanted to crush rebellion
-They would be willing to honor a custom of Jews burying their dead, so they would allow a mass pit burial.

But none of those are actual mandatory requirements demanding that Pilate could not allow a tomb burial, just factors influencing his decision.

My response is that there are a host of reasons that would influence his decision in the other way.
- Jesus was presenting his kingdom as spiritual, peaceful, etc. THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN IS WITHIN YOU.
- He did not launch an assault on Roman forces.
- Even if Josephus was a panderer, the event still shows Rome had arbitrary power for mercy.
- Jesus was directing conflict at the religious authorities, not at Pilate. The authorities imposed on Pilate, so Pilate was acting out of pressure, not a vendetta.
- Josephus was a panderer, but his rebel friends were not released for pandering. Maybe Joseph of Arimathea was a panderer and got Jesus' body released the same way...
- Jesus did favors for Centurions and Pilate's wife liked him per the NT
-Romevwas interested in crushing rebellion, but Jesus was now dead.... For them to stop a normal burial at this point implies that they are still trying to mortally crush the Jesus movement after his death.... ... But Rome did not do that. Peter went on to Rome and preached there, although later Nero killed him in the fore's aftermath. The Romans protected James in Jerusalem, etc.
- This was a normal tomb burial like we have found in archaeology of another crucified Judean. This wasn't a Roman state funeral. This wasn't some extreme king royal house honor burial with a giant parade.
- If we are going to admit a mass pit burial as a courtesy, then we are already allowing for leeway as to how much desecration vs honor there was. Allowing a tomb burial could be a further courtesy for a sympathetic Joseph of Arimathea.
- In history, Domitian got assassinated and the Senate passed a law dishonoring his memory. Yet after his killing, a relative or servant took his body and gave it a rather honorable burial. Henry VIII got his head chopped off and displayed publicly, yet his daughter gave him a burial in an honorable crypt. So these kinds of political killings don't necessarily correlate to dishonorable burials as an unconditional rule.
 

Tertiumquid

Well-known member
Here is how the statement came up: I brought up Luther's quote from Works vol 32 because someone suggested here that the Reformation demanded the simplest reading of Jesus' chronology in the Olivet Discourse.I responded that per Luther's quote, the Bible is the simplest, clearest, and most reliable of any writing: "Holy Scripture must necessarily be clearer, simpler, and more reliable than any other writings." I added, this statement is manifestly mistaken, and nor did Luther teach that the simplest construct must be the correct one for a verse. In fact, Luther gave a different interpretation on "this generation" in the Olivet Discourse than my interlocutors.

The various ways Luther is cited by people who don't even read Luther but rather cherry-pick his quotes fascinates me. In this particular instance, Luther's basic point is in regard to the errors of the papal bull. He painstakingly demonstrates that what Rome was saying was a convoluted mish-mash of junk when compared to the plain and simple reading of what the Bible actually says. You linked to LW 32 somewhere, I challenge you to actually read the document rather than put forth out-of-context propaganda. Nor did Luther ever say that every passage in the Bible is equally clear and simple to understand. Had you actually read Luther, you would know this.

You wrote that "Luther (and Clark) are simply saying the Bible is the final authority which determines the veracity secondary authorities. In that sense, if the Bible is the final authority that judges secondary authorities, it is simpler and clearer able to be judge and jury of lesser authorities." There are several layers of assertions in this statement. Does making the Bible the highest or most authoritative judge judge really make it the simplest and clearest and most reliable judge? If two solid educated Protestants read the Bible and reach opposite conclusions compared to what other writings would give, then it doesn't appear the clearest, simplest, and most reliable judge of any writing.

As with most of those who cherry-pick Luther quotes for propaganda, the last thing they want to talk about is the historical or actual context of his words. No, rather, they have their own agenda and Luther's just a pawn being used in an online dialog game. Ah, it's been like this on CARM for the 20+ years I've been here. It's the "Luther quote" plus propaganda model. Regardless, I will move away from history and context to delve into your agenda:

This comes back to a comment I left for you previously. The reason why Protestants speak of a final authority is that the Scriptures are the only final infallible authority. Those who strictly adhere to Sola Scriptura ask a basic question: where is the infallible word of God located... today? Rome claims those words are located in tradition, scripture, and perhaps when the Pope speaks ex cathedra. the Mormons claim they exist in the Bible, the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price and perhaps when their prophet speaks. The Jehovah's Witnesses find the infallible word of God in their version of the Bible and when the Watchtower interprets it for them. Some Pentecostals find the Word of God in the Bible and when they're given a "word of knowledge" or an utterance in tongues. Strict Sola Scriptura advocates simply want to know where the infallible Word of God is. If it's somewhere else besides sacred scripture, show us, and we'll check it out. As I see it, you're questioning the infallible authority of the Bible in order to put something in its place as the final infallible authority: what is it? What is it that "Rakovsky" holds to be the final infallible authority?

If two "Protestants" come to two different understandings of the Bible on some issues, that's not the fault of the Bible, nor does it necessarily prove that the Bible is not "the clearest, simplest, and most reliable judge of any writing." For instance, if I read an instruction manual to put together a patio set and I put it together wrong, that's not the fault of the instruction manual. Nor is it the fault of the instruction manual if my neighbor from next door tries to help me and also makes errors. The instruction manual can still be simple and clear despite the error of those who use it. Basic reality demonstrates this point repeatedly. Simply go on any highway, look at the sign that simply and clearly instructs a driver how fast to go, then notice how many people are able to follow the simple and clear speed limit that the sign states.

Further, Luther in his lead statement does not say that the Bible is the simplest and clearest choice of any writing to judge another writing, but declares succinctly that it is the simplest of any writing period, which is a manifestly false statement.

There are various English translations of the cherry-picked quote you're misusing. I have at least three English renderings, and I haven't had time to cross-check the German yet. For instance, Ewald Plass translates it as, "Holy Scripture must be certainly be clearer, plainer, and more explicit than the writings of all the others...". Now the question for people like me that care about history and context is to ask a basic question: what is meant by, "all the others"? Does Luther mean to include a book written to a four-year-old child, as your "any writing period" appears to posit? No, not at all.

I see the study of any person in church history as an exercise in the love of God and neighbor. How do I love my neighbor in the study of church history? The one that applies here is in my words. If I bear false witness against my neighbor, even if he's been dead for hundreds of years, I am not loving him. Think about that nest time you cherry-pick a Luther quote.
 

rakovsky

Well-known member
The various ways Luther is cited by people who don't even read Luther but rather cherry-pick his quotes fascinates me. In this particular instance, Luther's basic point is in regard to the errors of the papal bull. He painstakingly demonstrates that what Rome was saying was a convoluted mish-mash of junk when compared to the plain and simple reading of what the Bible actually says. You linked to LW 32 somewhere, I challenge you to actually read the document rather than put forth out-of-context propaganda. Nor did Luther ever say that every passage in the Bible is equally clear and simple to understand. Had you actually read Luther, you would know this.
Ok, the context was comparing the Bible's simplicity to a supposed mish mash of Papal junk. This comparison does not make the Bible "simpler, clearer" than any other writing as Luther explicitly claimed here.

Comparing mid grey with black does not make mid grey to be actually white on the color scale.


As with most of those who cherry-pick Luther quotes for propaganda, the last thing they want to talk about is the historical or actual context of his words. No, rather, they have their own agenda and Luther's just a pawn being used in an online dialog game. Ah, it's been like this on CARM for the 20+ years I've been here. It's the "Luther quote" plus propaganda model.
Tertium,
I will be overt with you. I have a warm spot for Lutheranism, having some Lutheran background. I prefer for Luther to teach what you are saying, eg. The Bible is the highest authority, that Tradition is also authority, etc. For a long time, I thought that this was Luther's idea after reading Wikipedia to that effect. However, I don't feel compelled to make Lutheranism mean what I want it to mean.

I want to see Sola Scriptura as Luther and the foundational Lutheran church officially defined this teaching. I invite you to make a post giving many quotes where Luther or official 16th century Lutheran texts like the Formula Concord used explicit phrases like Sola Scriptura, Bible Only, etc. to show exactly how they defined this term.




Regardless, I will move away from history and context to delve into your agenda:

This comes back to a comment I left for you previously. The reason why Protestants speak of a final authority is that the Scriptures are the only final infallible authority. Those who strictly adhere to Sola Scriptura ask a basic question: where is the infallible word of God located... today? Rome claims those words are located in tradition, scripture, and perhaps when the Pope speaks ex cathedra. the Mormons claim they exist in the Bible, the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price and perhaps when their prophet speaks. The Jehovah's Witnesses find the infallible word of God in their version of the Bible and when the Watchtower interprets it for them. Some Pentecostals find the Word of God in the Bible and when they're given a "word of knowledge" or an utterance in tongues. Strict Sola Scriptura advocates simply want to know where the infallible Word of God is. If it's somewhere else besides sacred scripture, show us, and we'll check it out. As I see it, you're questioning the infallible authority of the Bible in order to put something in its place as the final infallible authority: what is it? What is it that "Rakovsky" holds to be the final infallible authority?
In this case, I am looking for and questioning Luther's on-point statements of Sola Scriptura, rather than asserting that Bible + ________ are both infallible.

In the EO Church, the most common idea as far as AI can tell is that the Bible and in some sense the 7 Ecumenical Councils are infallible, but the EO Church is not as dogmatic as Protestants. For most Protestant Churches like Lutherans, "Sola Scriptura" is de facto treated as a dogmatic axiom and fundamental.

If two "Protestants" come to two different understandings of the Bible on some issues, that's not the fault of the Bible, nor does it necessarily prove that the Bible is not "the clearest, simplest, and most reliable judge of any writing."
Yes it does. If 99 percent of Protestants who read certain other documents (eg. a children's book) come away with the same interpretation of those documents, it shows that those other texts are clearer for them.

If your group comes away with multiple opposite interpretations, it means that it was not clear for very many of you, especially when compared to simple kids' books that you all agree on.


For instance, if I read an instruction manual to put together a patio set and I put it together wrong, that's not the fault of the instruction manual. Nor is it the fault of the instruction manual if my neighbor from next door tries to help me and also makes errors. The instruction manual can still be simple and clear despite the error of those who use it.
If it was written very simply and clearly, then you, your neighbor, and many other people would put the manual together clearly. In fact, the patio manual does not sound very clear in its meaning if a big percent of users get it wrong. "Clear as mud," as they say. Further, if you and your friends, and almost everyone else is able to figure out another assembly instruction manual, then this other manual is clearer.


Basic reality demonstrates this point repeatedly. Simply go on any highway, look at the sign that simply and clearly instructs a driver how fast to go, then notice how many people are able to follow the simple and clear speed limit that the sign states.
I think that the speeding people disregard what they recognize as the speed sign's meaning. In the case of the Bible however, I think that they don't recognize what it teaches. Take for example the teaching "This is My body" in the Eucharist. I believe that Luther and the RCs were right, but I don't think that Calvin knowingly disregarded what he believed to be the true meaning.

A speed limit sign is a writing "simpler" than the Bible. An ultra simple clear Bible would be convenient, however.
 

rakovsky

Well-known member
There are various English translations of the cherry-picked quote you're misusing. I have at least three English renderings, and I haven't had time to cross-check the German yet. For instance, Ewald Plass translates it as, "Holy Scripture must be certainly be clearer, plainer, and more explicit than the writings of all the others...". Now the question for people like me that care about history and context is to ask a basic question: what is meant by, "all the others"? Does Luther mean to include a book written to a four-year-old child, as your "any writing period" appears to posit? No, not at all.
Interesting. I guess you would want to consider whether one of the editors was trying to do a patch up job and how much quality you found in the various translations.

You could also see if Luther said something similar elsewhere.

He repeatedly asserts that one should read the Bible by itself to understand it, as when he says, "They accuse the Scriptures of being obscure, ... and they ascribe to the fathers the light with which Scripture must be illumined, whereas all the fathers concede their own obscurity and illumine Scripture by Scripture alone."
First, the Bible is obscure in some places.
Wikipedia notes:
Lutherans hold that the Bible presents all doctrines and commands of the Christian faith clearly.[4] God's Word is freely accessible to every reader or hearer of ordinary intelligence, without requiring any special education.[5] Of course, one must understand the language God's Word is presented in, and not be so preoccupied by contrary thoughts so as to prevent understanding.[6] As a result of this, no one needs to wait for any clergy, and pope, scholar, or ecumenical council to explain the real meaning of any part of the Bible.[7] Martin Luther attributed the difficulty in understanding Scripture to man's blindness and fallen state, "But, if many things still remain abstruse to many, this does not arise from obscurity in the Scriptures, but from [our] own blindness or want [i.e. lack] of understanding, who do not go the way to see the all-perfect clearness of the truth... Let, therefore, wretched men cease to impute, with blasphemous perverseness, the darkness and obscurity of their own heart to the all-clear scriptures of God."
In other words, Luther is claiming that the Bible is "all clear," but that it is only the obtuseness of our own hearts that prevents our understanding. Theoretically then per Luther, someone with perfect spirituality and heart would understand literally everything in the Bible.

This brings us back to the many major layers of the Complexities in scripture that we got into on another thread. If we had a perfect heart and understood all meanings, would this make the Bible inherently simpler than the 55 mph sign or the children's books?

Well no, because Bible verses do have multiple symbols and layers of meanings. David was a literal king, but he is also a forefigure of the Messiah. In rabbinic teaching, there are several different modes of interpretation to verses like this. Other books besides the Bible can be written more simpler just because the author gave it fewer levels of meanings, fewer sentences, etc etc.

Further, I am very skeptical that literally "all" fathers illumine scripture by "scripture alone", and not by other known extra biblical facts or traditions. Luther seems to repeatedly make these kinds of sweeping categorical declarations that sound great in polemics and bombastic oratory and inner Christian battles, but are not actually true.

I see the study of any person in church history as an exercise in the love of God and neighbor. How do I love my neighbor in the study of church history? The one that applies here is in my words. If I bear false witness against my neighbor, even if he's been dead for hundreds of years, I am not loving him. Think about that nest time you cherry-pick a Luther quote.
Yeah, it's not really an animosity thing on my part. My stigma is much more for Anglicans persecuting Catholics for centuries. I don't particularly have a stigma like that attached to Lutheranism. Luther wasn't running state persecution of Catholics as far as I am aware. In this case, the debate is more theoretical, ie.
What is the meaning of Sola Scriptura?,
Does it make sense?, etc.
 

rakovsky

Well-known member
Ewald Plass translates it as, "Holy Scripture must be certainly be clearer, plainer, and more explicit than the writings of all the others...". Now the question for people like me that care about history and context is to ask a basic question: what is meant by, "all the others"? Does Luther mean to include a book written to a four-year-old child, as your "any writing period" appears to posit? No, not at all.
A similar problem exists in Ewald's translation.

To help answer your question, the following two sentences go:
"Especially since all teachers verify their own statements through the Scriptures as clearer and more reliable writings, and desire their own writings to be confirmed and explained by them. But nobody can ever substantiate an obscure saying by one that is more obscure; therefore, necessity forces us to run to the Bible with the writings of all teachers, and to obtain there a verdict and judgment upon them."

Luther's statement that "nobody can ever substantiate an obscure saying by one that is more obscure" is in fact false. A more obscure statement can shed supportive light on a clear statement.

Example:
The police want to know what color car caused an accident with a blue truck.
Witness A says "I saw a red car crash here."
Witness B says, "I saw a red vehicle crash here."
Then, Witness A substantiates her testimony with the more obscure testimony of Witness B.

In any case, Luther's statements that
1. "nobody can ever substantiate an obscure saying by one that is more obscure" and his statement that
2. "all teachers verify their own statements through the Scriptures as clearer and more reliable writings,"

naturally would lead to the conclusion that all other writings are at least as clear or obscure as the Bible.

In other words, his mistaken premise implies that if you have to go to the Bible to verify your statements, then your statement can't be clearer than the Bible.

This is similar to his lead sentence that the Bible is clearer than any other writing, or the writing of any other, depending on your translation.

However, his chain of reasoning technically would only mean that the Bible is as clear as any other writing, not that the Bible is clearer than any other writing/ any other teacher's writing.
 

bigthinker

Well-known member
That's why I'm putting you in the shoes of one of Saul's assistants.

To get you to see that Christianity could have indeed been considered falsifiable at one time.

Yes ... now it's too late.

But I'm not buying the idea that Christianity couldn't have been considered falsifiable at one time.

And the fact that you aren't willing to agree with my advice in the OP is telling.

I think you know it's true.

Either that, or you don't understand the challenge properly.
What you are proposing requires the assumption that there was a point in time where at least some event told in the bible could have been verified or disproved. However, if the myth came together as a conglomeration of different events happening to different people or just simply disparate stories/myths or entirely made up, or would not have been falsifiable at any particular point.
It's like trying to define the edge of a cloud.
 

bigthinker

Well-known member
Read the Bible. It is the same guy. Saul was his Jewish name, Paul was his Roman name.


In my opinion - based on Paul's own letter - there was no empty tomb, and Paul was persecuting Christians before it was invented.


A vivid imagine appears to be a pre-requisite to being a Christian.
A vivid imagination appears to be a pre-requisite to being a Christian...

That's it, isn't it?
 

rakovsky

Well-known member
Luther's statement that "nobody can ever substantiate an obscure saying by one that is more obscure" is in fact false. A more obscure statement can shed supportive light on a clear statement.

Example:
The police want to know what color car caused an accident with a blue truck.
Witness A says "I saw a red car crash here."
Witness B says, "I saw a red vehicle crash here."
Then, Witness A substantiates her testimony with the more obscure testimony of Witness B.
I meant:
" A more obscure statement can shed supportive light on a clearer obscure statement."

Here is an example:

The police want to know what color car caused an accident with a blue truck. There are two witnesses at the scene.

Witness A says "I saw a red car crash here."
The statement is obscure:
- What is "here?"
- Is the statement factual?
- When did she see the crash?
- Did the car crash into the truck?
Witness B says, "I saw a red vehicle crash here."
Witness A can substantiate her testimony with the more obscure testimony of Witness B.
Witness B confirms that a red vehicle crashed at the same location.
 

The Pixie

Well-known member
Ezekiel 37 says,

In verse 3, the prophet expresses his bewilderment at whether the dry bones can come alive again, similar to like your own impression of how amazing and unlikely this would be.

Then in v. 5, God says to those bones that those dry bones will live. The verses thereafter describe the re-forming and renewal process.
Right. So at most all that remains of the old body is the bones. God has to create new flesh to put on them.

In your position, I think, Jesus' corpse stayed dead. It stayed laying in the ground wherever Joseph last put it on Friday or Saturday and was still laying there days later, and it was rather his soul that rose in a light form body. As much as I can tell, you see this as contiguous with Josephus' explanation, which you read as the risen getting separate bodies.
Right.

In the article by the NC Register, however, the dead flesh corpse reenlivens:

That is, the same body that died and rotted resurrects, but now in a new state.
What does that actually mean?

Are you saying the same biceps are in the new body as were in the originally body, despite the fact that they rotted away decades or even centuries ago? To me, that sounds like nonsense.

Are you saying the righteous will be resurrected in the same state they died? A warrior who died on the battlefield will be resurrected with all the wounds from battle. A woman who lived to ninety will be resurrected in the body of a ninety year old woman. This is the wonderful afterlife that awaits the righteous?

The article gives a theory that makes sense as to why Josephus called it another body:
Paul also describes the body undergoing a change in 1 Cor 15, but for Paul, this is what happens to those alive at that time.

The simple fact is many of the dead are reduced to just bones, so therefore have to have new bodies. And Paul tells us it is of a different nature; how can it be the same muscles, blood, etc.?

What we are debating is whether Jesus got buried in a tomb by Joseph.
You are saying that it can't happen because
- Jesus was killed as a rebel leader
- Mercy for Josephus doesn't work as an analogy because Josephus was a panderer
- They were interested in stopping an honorable burial because they wanted to crush rebellion
-They would be willing to honor a custom of Jews burying their dead, so they would allow a mass pit burial.
Correct, plus Joseph was not a Christian, so had no interest in treating Jesus any different to the other crucifixion victims.

But none of those are actual mandatory requirements demanding that Pilate could not allow a tomb burial, just factors influencing his decision.
Sure. It is possible Jesus was buried in an empty tomb. At the end of the day we cannot know for certain about any of this. It is possible Jesus was made up and the crucifixion never happened.

However, in my view is the the most likely scenario is Jesus did exist, was crucified, was taken down from the cross and was buried with the other crucifixion victims in a mass grave.

My response is that there are a host of reasons that would influence his decision in the other way.
- Jesus was presenting his kingdom as spiritual, peaceful, etc. THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN IS WITHIN YOU.
- He did not launch an assault on Roman forces.
It is a question of how the Romans perceived him.
Mark 15:26 The inscription of the charge against Him [n]read, “THE KING OF THE JEWS.”

- Even if Josephus was a panderer, the event still shows Rome had arbitrary power for mercy.
He was very much the exception, not the rule.

- Jesus was directing conflict at the religious authorities, not at Pilate. The authorities imposed on Pilate, so Pilate was acting out of pressure, not a vendetta.
The gospels certainly present Jesus that way, but they were selling the gospel message to Romans, so of course they did.

Again, look at Mark 15:26. Jesus was executed for claiming to be the king of the Jews.

- Josephus was a panderer, but his rebel friends were not released for pandering. Maybe Joseph of Arimathea was a panderer and got Jesus' body released the same way...
I think you are right. But he got the body released to get it buried, as required by Jewish law, and as he did for all crucifixion victims. Jesus was nothing special to him - that got invented later.

- Jesus did favors for Centurions and Pilate's wife liked him per the NT
Or so the later gospels claim, when trying to sell the gospel message to the Romans.

-Romevwas interested in crushing rebellion, but Jesus was now dead.... For them to stop a normal burial at this point implies that they are still trying to mortally crush the Jesus movement after his death.... ... But Rome did not do that. Peter went on to Rome and preached there, although later Nero killed him in the fore's aftermath. The Romans protected James in Jerusalem, etc.
The nature of the movement changed, plus time had passed.

The disciples saw the risen Jesus weeks to months later in Galilee, and it would be some time before they returned to Jerusalem. And when they did, there were no crowds saying "Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David; Hosanna in the highest!"

- This was a normal tomb burial like we have found in archaeology of another crucified Judean. This wasn't a Roman state funeral. This wasn't some extreme king royal house honor burial with a giant parade.
Was he executed for being a rebel leader? Was he hailed as the king of the Jews? Did crowds shout how they expected him to bring the kingdom of David back?

If not, then it is not analogous.

- If we are going to admit a mass pit burial as a courtesy, then we are already allowing for leeway as to how much desecration vs honor there was. Allowing a tomb burial could be a further courtesy for a sympathetic Joseph of Arimathea.
I do not believe Joseph of Arimathea was sympathetic - that was made up in later gospels. Mark gives no indication of that, and to the contrary tells us the entire Sanhedrin was again Jesus.

- In history, Domitian got assassinated and the Senate passed a law dishonoring his memory. Yet after his killing, a relative or servant took his body and gave it a rather honorable burial. Henry VIII got his head chopped off and displayed publicly, yet his daughter gave him a burial in an honorable crypt. So these kinds of political killings don't necessarily correlate to dishonorable burials as an unconditional rule.
It was a class thing. Roman citizens were not crucified in the first place, so an entirely different set of rules.
 

Komodo

Well-known member
[. . .] - In history, Domitian got assassinated and the Senate passed a law dishonoring his memory. Yet after his killing, a relative or servant took his body and gave it a rather honorable burial. Henry VIII got his head chopped off and displayed publicly, yet his daughter gave him a burial in an honorable crypt. So these kinds of political killings don't necessarily correlate to dishonorable burials as an unconditional rule.
Henry VIII of England wasn't executed; are you maybe thinking of Anne Boleyn, who was executed by order of Henry VIII? Or of a Henry VIII of some other kingdom?
 

rakovsky

Well-known member
Henry VIII of England wasn't executed; are you maybe thinking of Anne Boleyn, who was executed by order of Henry VIII? Or of a Henry VIII of some other kingdom?
Thanks. Yes, I meant "Henry VIII got Chancellor Thomas More's head chopped off and displayed publicly, yet More's daughter gave More a burial in an honorable crypt."
 

rakovsky

Well-known member
Right. So at most all that remains of the old body is the bones. God has to create new flesh to put on them.
Pixie,
From Ezekiel's talk with God, this achievement has to do with God's amazing omnipotence. So in this scenario, God can take the dust that the flesh and sinews disintegrated into and re form it into flesh and sinews again. The chapter says that God makes flesh come onto the bones. (V. 6)

"In the article by the NC Register, however, the dead flesh corpse reenlivens: That is, the same body that died and rotted resurrects, but now in a new state."

What does that actually mean?

Are you saying the same biceps are in the new body as were in the originally body, despite the fact that they rotted away decades or even centuries ago? To me, that sounds like nonsense.
The NC article is arguing that Josephus was presenting here the Pharisees' teaching of resurrection, which was a predicted reenlivening of dead corpses, as per Ezekiel 37 and Isaiah 26.

Hinduism teaches reincarnation, but that is different from the resurrection of the corpses in Judaism. The ancient world was also familiar with ghosts, where images of a soul or spirit appear to people while the corpse is in the ground. However, resurrection of the corpse is different than that.

Isaiah 26 says,
Your dead shall live; Together with my dead body (Nebelati in Hebrew) they shall arise. Awake and sing, you who dwell in dust; For your dew is like the dew of herbs, And the earth shall cast out the dead.
One of the curious features of this verse is that it literally says My dead carcass/corpse. I recall that one commentator (maybe a rabbi) wrote that he marveled that the text here uses a word, carcass, often used for dead animals and victims of violent deaths.

So to answer your question, the flesh body that died resurrects, as with the dry bones in Ezekiel. The same bones that were dry in the ground are now reenlivened and covered with flesh, so that they are not laying in the dust now. The dry, rotted bones are not dry or rotted any more.

Biceps are part of the rotted flesh of a corpse. So I take the predictions to entail that the rotted biceps would reenliven too. Just as the dry bones were no longer dry, the biceps would not be rotten either.

Ezekiel 37 says that the flesh comes on the bones. Where did this flesh come from? In Genesis, God took the flesh from the clay of the earth. Accordingly, God can do this again. However, the dead flesh and biceps had returned to dust and earth. Consequently, God can remake the reenlivened flesh from the dust that the flesh and biceps turned into.

The idea does not work well in terms of Newtonian style observations of the world from our century. But that'svOK, because Ezekiel is saying that this is something that God knows if it can happen.

It's an interesting. Question. People are usually said about the death of their loved ones, and see their bones and corpses in the ground. They love and miss them so much. They want to see them again in happier times. Humanity misses "Eden." "Can these bones live?" This is something that God knows. Ezekiel 37 says that the answer is Yes.

Are you saying the righteous will be resurrected in the same state they died? A warrior who died on the battlefield will be resurrected with all the wounds from battle. A woman who lived to ninety will be resurrected in the body of a ninety year old woman. This is the wonderful afterlife that awaits the righteous?
Here we are getting into the similarities and differences that the NC article describes. The similarity is that the corpse is reenlivened and restored. The difference is that it is not in the same state. Paul says that it rises from corruption to incorruption. Jesus went through walls and Ascended.

Paul also describes the body undergoing a change in 1 Cor 15, but for Paul, this is what happens to those alive at that time.

The simple fact is many of the dead are reduced to just bones, so therefore have to have new bodies. And Paul tells us it is of a different nature; how can it be the same muscles, blood, etc.?
The reenlivened in this prediction are with the same muscles, blood, etc. because the muscles, etc. are changed - transformed, so to speak.

This is a bit like the creation story, in which the clay is taken from the ground and made a Man. The clay is of the same particles, but it is transformed into a man. Sometimes the prediction is called a New Creation on the Eighth Day in prophetic terms.

A second example is the transformation of water into wine.

A third is the Transfiguration, which might prefigure Jesus' resurrection. During that, He appeared shining white.

A fourth is the fate of Enoch and Elijah. What happened to their bodies? Enoch got transferred someplace. Wisdom of Jesus Ben Sirach says that Enoch went to heaven.

Elijah got taken to heaven bodily. Did his flesh die on the way up? Then later He appeared at the Transfiguration. Maybe Elijah's body entered a new transformed state?

A fifth is how Lot's wife turned to salt.

A sixth is God making Eve from Adam's rib.

A seventh is Moses' miracles like turning a snake into a staff and back again, and turning his hand leprotic and then healthy again.

An eighth example is Lazarus' resurrection that prefigures the Resurrection in a way. Lazarus' body was already rotting and stinking, but Jesus restored it. It was not in the glorified incorruptible state, but the point is that God can make the rotted flesh whole again as resurrection.

Ninth is Matthew writing about the graves opening, which I take as apparently literal.
 

rakovsky

Well-known member
Correct, plus Joseph was not a Christian, so had no interest in treating Jesus any different to the other crucifixion victims.


Sure. It is possible Jesus was buried in an empty tomb. At the end of the day we cannot know for certain about any of this. It is possible Jesus was made up and the crucifixion never happened.

However, in my view is the the most likely scenario is Jesus did exist, was crucified, was taken down from the cross and was buried with the other crucifixion victims in a mass grave.


It is a question of how the Romans perceived him.
Mark 15:26 The inscription of the charge against Him [n]read, “THE KING OF THE JEWS.”


He was very much the exception, not the rule.


The gospels certainly present Jesus that way, but they were selling the gospel message to Romans, so of course they did.

Again, look at Mark 15:26. Jesus was executed for claiming to be the king of the Jews.


I think you are right. But he got the body released to get it buried, as required by Jewish law, and as he did for all crucifixion victims. Jesus was nothing special to him - that got invented later.


Or so the later gospels claim, when trying to sell the gospel message to the Romans.


The nature of the movement changed, plus time had passed.

The disciples saw the risen Jesus weeks to months later in Galilee, and it would be some time before they returned to Jerusalem. And when they did, there were no crowds saying "Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David; Hosanna in the highest!"


Was he executed for being a rebel leader? Was he hailed as the king of the Jews? Did crowds shout how they expected him to bring the kingdom of David back?

If not, then it is not analogous.


I do not believe Joseph of Arimathea was sympathetic - that was made up in later gospels. Mark gives no indication of that, and to the contrary tells us the entire Sanhedrin was again Jesus.


It was a class thing. Roman citizens were not crucified in the first place, so an entirely different set of rules.
It's an interesting topic what happened to Jesus' body, and I have some doubt about the Biblical story. However, you present your rejection of it and your alternative in such a categorical fashion that your version and presentation come across as if they are stating known facts, even when this is not the case nor given in the records.

In the official story, Joseph and Nicodemus give Jesus a tomb burial with lots of spices. This is credible for me because Nicodemus was Jesus' supporter, and was a known wealthy patron of the city per the Talmud.

The story of the posting of the tomb guards is also credible for me because Jesus had been predicting his resurrection on the third day. But the detail that they wanted the guards to be posted only "until the third day" seems pretty weird / odd / curious for me. Maybe I am misreading something, but it seems like the priests would have wanted the guards to be posted through the third day as well.

On the other hand, you say in a matter of fact way, "Joseph was not a Christian, so had no interest in treating Jesus any different to the other crucifixion victims."
Well, first, your assertion that he was not Christian is based on misreading the NT's statement that the Sanhedrin condemned Jesus. However, this NT statement does not say that everyone was present at the meeting. The Bible commonly has a collective way of speaking. This can be confusing and non-total, like when John's gospel talks about "the Jews," in opposition to Christians.

Mark 15 says:
"Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent member of the Council, who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God, went boldly to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body."
The reference to Joseph waiting for the kingdom is meant to separate him from other pharisees and mark him as a sympathizer of Jesus, who was proclaiming that the Kingdom of Heaven/God was at hand.

In this case, it's hard to read Mark's statements about the "whole Sanhedrin" as opposing Jesus in a categorical sense applying to each Sanhedrin member individually. Otherwise what does Mark mean, that Joseph condemned Jesus but then due to the omens at the Crucifixion, Joseph became a sympathizer who wanted to see if Jesus was the Messiah?
 
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