You say: And what I'm saying is that if a text can be interpreted in a way which makes sense, then doing so is more rational than interpreting it in a way which doesn't make sense. Interpreting "land" as "countryside" is a superior interpretation, because it make sense. Interpreting "land" the way you do doesn't make sense, since it creates a discrepancy, so it's an inferior interpretation. Only if a text cannot be logically interpreted in a way that makes sense is there a problem.
Problem: There being a discrepancy, and whether or not that discrepancy makes sense, are two very different things. Obviously, I find discrepancies make sense, since I also think Gospels are a combination of multiple sources (as proven by lengthy plagiarisms of Mark, and by Q). Also, the number of internal discrepancies and contradictions present in the Gospels are simply not found in comparable, proven single-source biographies like the ones by Suetonius.
You find that discrepancies don't make sense, based solely upon your notion that the authors of the Gospels really were Matt/Mark/Luke/John, according to Papias. The process you use forces the text to conform to your already existing notions of single-source authorship based upon a person (Papias) who had no interest in written texts, and wrongly attributed sayings to Jesus that he never said. I prefer to let the text and number/types of errors speak for itself, and let that determine the quality of Papias' claims, rather than putting blind faith in the claims of Papias'.
You say: We clearly have a simpler-to-more complex fossil record. Evolution explains it nicely. Creationism does not. Evolutionists and Creationists can argue over the minor details, but no matter how you slice it, the preponderance of the evidence favors evolution. Now take a step back from the Jesus issue.
Problem: I'm not going to bother responding to your comparison between evolution and historic texts. Evolution is not a man-created work of literature, it's a fundamental principle of how life is organized. Terrible analogy.
You say: HOWEVER…I wouldn't claim that my disbelief in the story is based on anything other than my disbelief in alien abductions. I wouldn't be rejecting the "alien abduction" story for any reasons that, if applied consistently, wouldn't cause me to reject the "tilled his field, then went home" story.
Problem: You once again claim I don't accept the Resurrection because I don't believe in miracles. This shows you ignored my entire section on how my opinion on miracles never changed, and that I used to believe in the miracles of Jesus despite being generally skeptical of miracles. And you make another terrible comparison. A Resurrected Jesus is supposed to be the divine message of salvation for all of mankind, straight from God. Farmer Brown's alien abduction has nothing to do with whether or not me and my neighbor are going to hell or whether or not his abduction was a divine message from God. Comparing apples to oranges again.
In any case, at the end of this email I will show you why, even if I did believe in the Resurrection of Jesus and all his miracles, I still wouldn't be a Christian and I still wouldn't interpret the Bible differently. Hopefully this will silence your repeated attempts to tie my belief in miracles to my interpretation of scripture.
You say: No, if they let the evidence *alone* decide for them, then they'd clearly believe that the events happened, since the evidence says that the events happened.
Problem: The only things you qualify as evidence are error-free interpretations of the Gospels. You don't count errors. You don't count contradictory messages of salvation. You don't count the Jewish foundation of the Old Testament. You don't count failed NT prophecies. All of this is evidence against the Resurrection fitting the context of Jesus' life. As I said earlier, since you don't understand "evidence" in the same way as I do, there's little sense in debating who has the most.
You place your faith in the visions of few disciples to represent the definitive theology of the Hebrew God. I put my faith in the Old Testament being the definitive theology of the Hebrew God. Guess which one I think the Hebrew God will credit more, assuming he exists? Your lack of skepticism in eyewitness accounts is highly disturbing, especially when there are such obvious errors of human perception proven in psychology. Look at this interesting experiment to see how human perception is often tricked and misguided despite our best efforts of observation: http://io9.com/5585219/the-invisible-gorilla-returns-to-show-us-how-often-we-miss-the-obvious
You say: When the ancient historians like Suetonius and Josephus wrote their historical texts, they were flawed human beings, but that doesn't mean that we jump to the conclusion that they were dishonest and wrong about everything they wrote.
Problem: Suetonius/Josephus were flawed human beings, yet they didn't make errors like writing "land" instead of "countryside." Or, when numbering things, didn't say "the first miracle happened" then "many miracles happened" then "the second miracle happened." Or claiming their person went to the "other side" of a sea when that person was were nowhere near the sea to begin with. These kinds of errors are only found in texts which were compiled from multiple sources, simply because these kinds of irregular errors don't appear in known single-source biographies/historical accounts like Suetonius and Josephus.
And in any case, you seem to think that texts on global salvation and miracle events shouldn't need to be held to a higher standard of fact-checking than a typical biography. If your beliefs on God and salvation get the same critical-eye that you give to Cesar crossing a river, that's you. It's definitely not me. Especially when Cesar crossing the river makes complete sense when taking into account the historical story of Rome, yet Jesus dying on a cross for salvation makes little to no sense when taking into account the previously established rules of the Hebrew God.
You say: The problem is that evidence against Jesus resurrecting has not "piled on". We have no early sources saying He didn't resurrect, and no early evidence suggesting the authors were knowingly lying or were mistaken about the resurrection.
Problem: I gave you evidence: failed prophecies, Son of Man/Son of God, doubting disciples, Jesus being given magical disguise/teleportation powers and disappearing before their eyes, Jewish messiah contradictions, contradictions in what brings "salvation" (works or faith). All of this is evidence against a Resurrection ever happening within a scriptural context, since it completely undermines its OT foundation and the historically based life of Jesus himself.
You say: Look, I can't blame you for not believing in Jesus' resurrection. Since you essentially believe that miracles are impossible, it would be downright irrational for you to believe that the miracle of Jesus' resurrection happened. I really, truly believe that, in your current mind-set, there's no way the Bible, or any writing, would convince you of Jesus' resurrection, no matter what it said.
Problem: This is the third time that you've claimed this, and the third, and last time, I'm going to clarify it for you. If you continue to give me these labels of your own invention, this debate will have to end, because you're now creating straw-men to attack. I don't believe miracles are "basically impossible" or "infinitesimal." I believe they are possible, but that they require a great amount of consistent, error free, theologically logical evidence in order to prove. As I've already clarified twice before, a HISTORIAN looks at historical accounts of miracles as impossible. And as I've already clarified twice before, I am NOT a historian. The NT certainly could have provided evidence if it: actually aligned with Jewish thought on Messiah figures instead of blatantly contradict them; had a single, unified theory on salvation instead of a constant debate (faith v works); if Jesus had a clear, definable God-given purpose instead of contradictory purposes (Synoptics v John); if it had been written by genuine witnesses instead of having blatant plagiarism and timeline errors, indicative of multiple-sources. These aren't unreasonable expectations for me to hold, considering that it is supposedly God's singular path to salvation.
You say: ALL of them? You're using an awfully big paint brush here. You're taking the ultra-conservative view of the Bible and attributing it to pretty much every Christian who ever lived, and it doesn't fit. And even if, hypothetically, it DID apply to every other Christian but me, that doesn't change the fact that it doesn't apply to me. Once again, you're arguing against a point of view that I don't share, and never did. So you think there are basically two groups, the ultra-conservative and the non-Christian? That moderates like myself either don't exist, or I'm the only one?
Problem. Yes, I use a broad brush, because moderate and liberal Christianity as we know it has only been around for 100 or so years. That leaves 1800 years of fundamentalism. Ever hear of the dark ages? You think the Bible is the perfect word of God to a large extent. You deny even simple errors like the "land" and "countryside" mean anything, let alone bigger errors like the multiple versions of "salvation," and you have implied there's not a single error of substance to be found in the Bible. Yes, you are a fundamentalist concerning Biblical accuracy, whether or not you'd like to think of yourself as one.
You say: So you believe that any time there are mistakes in a text, this proves that it was fabricated, that nobody who is writing from memory will ever make mistakes or mis-remember anything?
Problem: Here is another one of your straw man attacks. Right after I say "Mistakes... convince people that stories are fabricated" you say "so you believe mistakes... prove it was fabricated." Are convince and prove the same words? Yes or no? Obviously they aren't, and obviously you can convince people of things without needing to prove it to them; it's called having faith. How else would we explain racism? Or sexism? Or Religion? Or Nazism? They are faith-based dogmas.
You say: I don't feel justified in dismissing them as wrong. I think all religions, Christianity included, are varying degrees of right and wrong. Since not all Christians believe the same thing, I can honestly say that some Christians are wrong about what they believe (for example, I'm pretty well convinced that Young-Earth Creationists are wrong). But I am convinced that Jesus' resurrection most likely happened, which is why I am a Christian.
Problem: I'm strictly speaking of salvation, not "moral guidance" etc. There is, according to the salvation of Christianity, no such thing as varying degrees of right and wrong. Either you believe in Jesus as your personal savior, or you go to hell. In what way are these other religions right? They all send you to hell, since they don't make you accept Jesus as your personal savior. We can even assume all Jews, the chosen people of the Hebrew God, go to hell since they don't accept Jesus either, oh boy! Since I'm not quite sure on how you personally view salvation and heaven and hell, in context of other religions, let me know.
You say: I'm not seeing the cause-and-effect that you're trying to show. Seeing Jesus made Paul a Christian - it didn't make him agree with other Christians on all issues.
Problem: Paul claims his doctrine on salvation came "from above" instead of from man. This includes his doctrine on faith (instead of works) and the doctrine on removing of the law - two huge central themes of Christianity. But we know Paul got into arguments with Peter because Peter continued to follow the law and taught others to do so in order to attain salvation. And Jesus historically taught in the Gospels that works are the path to the Kingdom of God (Matt 25). James even convinces Peter to follow the law during one story in acts. So where exactly did Paul get his doctrine? If it were from God like he claimed, there certainly wouldn't have been all these major contradictions with better sources like Peter, James (Jesus' brother), and Jesus himself. This is not some tiny detail you're making it out to be - it's doctrine that's supposed to be for the entire salvation/damnation of mankind.
You say: Again, you seem to be under the impression that God not doing something can only mean He's incapable of doing so, and not that it can mean He chooses not to do so.
Problem: I understand the notion of God choosing "not to do so," but I find that notion ridiculous when the subject at hand is the salvation of the entire world. If God chose not to make salvation crystal clear, especially when all other paths lead to damnation, then he is an unfair God, and one I'd rather not worship even if I believed he existed.
You say: You already dismissed the four Gospels that we have as having been by apostles based on your belief that they couldn't possibly have written them due to their lack of education. But now you're saying that if all twelve had written Gospels, despite their lack of education, you'd find this convincing proof of Jesus' resurrection, and would accept that their ability to write well was due to a miracle from God? Even though you believe that the chance of such a miracle is infinitesimal. Or would you, rather, assume that all twelve were written by people other than the apostles, exactly as you do for the four that we have.
I'm sorry if you find me rude for saying this, but I really wonder sometimes if you believe the things you're saying.
Problem: You simplify my argument to create a straw man. I didn't just say I want more, I said they also need to be consistent in their story. If there had been 8 more Gospels just as messy as the 4 we already have, the level of theological confusion would've been so great Christianity probably would've never gotten started to begin with. I want texts that are theologically air tight if they are to represent the singular path to divine salvation for all of mankind, and Christian does not fit this definition, in no small part due to it's entire reliance upon Judaism as a foundation.
You say: Suppose that you were in a burning building, and having trouble finding the fire exit. And then a guy comes up to you and says, "Follow me, I know where the fire exit is! If you don't follow me, you'll burn to death!" Would you say that this person is forcing you to follow him? Would you say that he's threatening you with being burned to death for not believing and following him?
Problem: Another bad analogy, ignoring major issues. Such as: the man telling you to follow him is the one who set the building on fire to begin with, on purpose, to kill people who don't follow him! God is the one who created Hell to destroy people who don't follow Him. Secondly, nobody can see the building is on fire, so we have to take the mans word for it: just like we do for "sin" and "hell," things we can't see, but are told to believe in.
So, the correct analogy is this: The manager of the movie theater comes to talk to you. He says "Hey, I put explosives in this building that will go off any second and destroy it since you all can't behave yourselves like I wanted you to. Now you all need to come with me and follow my directions or you'll all die." So, you tell me, is the man forcing/threatening you to believe and follow him?
And to add to the analogy, pretend there are 10 different managers, all claiming to be the ones who set the bombs up, and all claiming that only they know the path out of the building. It's a preposterous situation to be in, which is why I consider all religions that threaten you with hell silly, not just Christianity. It's just a theological form of gambling: put your chips with whoever you think will really get you out of hell and cross your fingers!
You say: God doesn't want us to see Jesus for ourselves, but it was necessary for the earliest followers in order to have something to tell others about. Basically, Christianity would not have gotten off the ground without those earliest appearances. Even the women alone wouldn't have been enough, given the patriarchal society they lived in.
Problem: Yes, the typical Christian mumbo jumbo of needing "faith" instead of evidence, despite the fact that Jesus' closest followers, who saw hundreds of miracles, demanded evidence and were given it. These invisible "rules of salvation" seem so implausible and man-created to me. Apparently God doesn't provide miraculous evidence unless you've already seen hundreds of miracles, or persecute lots of Christians like Paul! How utterly ridiculous. Should I go out and start killing Christians and hope for a vision as well? My point is that the "rules" presented by Christianity for salvation are arbitrary and illogical. Paul, a Christian killer, gets an automatic pass on salvation just because God felt like giving him a special vision? A situation like that cries out that this God, and his rules, are inventions of men. If this is really how God works, I'd want no part of his brand of "justice" to begin with.
You say: Huh? It wouldn't have been a stumbling block for him prior to the revelation, but afterwards. I'm sure Paul had no problem with the idea that Jesus was crucified, until after he came to accept Jesus as the messiah. A crucified Jewish preacher wouldn't be a problem for Paul, but a crucified Messiah would be. So it was only after he came to believe that Jesus was the Messiah that "crucifixion" would become a stumbling block for him.
Problem: A stumbling block is something that stops you from believing in something. So you're saying that after Paul believed Jesus was the Messiah, the crucifixion prevented Paul from believing Jesus was Messiah? That makes absolutely no sense.
The crucifixion is only a stumbling block PRIOR to the individual believing Jesus is the Messiah not after. Christians told Paul "Jesus is the Jewish Messiah." Paul asks, "who's Jesus?" Christians say, "it's this Jew who was crucified and Resurrected." Paul says "no, I don't believe he was Messiah because Messiah's don't get crucified." The end. The stumbling block of crucifixion prevents Paul from accepting Jesus as Messiah. Then his vision happens, and Paul believes Jesus is Messiah regardless of a crucifixion. It was no longer a stumbling block. I can't believe I have to explain this? I think we're both saying the same thing, only you're saying it in a weird way.
You say: No, I don't believe that there is enough evidence to clearly show the resurrection happened. I think it's simply more likely than not. I definitely don't feel that I'm forced to believe.
Problem: 60/40 represents your language of "more likely than not," not your 90/10 ratio. You're intentionally using weaker language to misrepresent your claim, just so you can dodge the obvious contradiction that God, according to your 90%, provided enough evidence to force belief.
You say: The significance of the crucifixion and resurrection wasn't in the prophesying, but in the crucifixion and resurrection themselves. And you seem to be purposefully downplaying the significance of the fall of Jerusalem, which was a huge event in the history of Judaism.
Problem: We can assume that any actual event will be more important than the prophesying of it, regardless of whether it's a crucifixion or the falling of a Temple. However, it's safe to say that if a man prophecies about "Subject #1" 95% of his life, and prophecies about "Subject #2" 5% of his life, he considers Subject 1 a much more important, significant event, and one he feels people need to know about the most. We can safely assume that if Jesus' death really brought about Universal salvation for mankind, he'd be more concerned about spreading knowledge of that event rather than being so concerned about an event which has absolutely no impact on spiritual salvation. his divinity, or purpose for being here. You are ignoring basic logic inference here, but I understand why. Logic has no place in Christian theology.
You say: It's likely that Jesus only talked about His upcoming death a few times. So what do you expect them to do, pretend that Jesus talked about it more than He did?
Problem: Jesus, the ultimate, singular savior of the world decided to devote only a few brief sentences to the universal Crucifixon-Resurrection-salvation part, and instead focused almost entirely on a temporary Jewish event that wouldn't affect salvation whatsoever; an event which had absolutely no impact on his life or his message. How much more obvious can it be that interpreting his main prophecy as "destruction of the Jewish temple" makes absolutely no sense from a theological viewpoint?
You say: More like fulfilling it, since He's quoting Psalm 22:1 there.
Problem: Fulfilling what exactly? Psalm 22 is a lament by the Jewish nation, and at most, Jesus is simply relating his situation to that of the suffering Jewish nation during the time Psalms was written! It doesn't have a single mention of a Messiah or "Anointed One," or crucifixion, or resurrection for the forgiveness of sin by death of his only son, so why exactly do you feel justified claiming it's a "fulfillment" by Jesus? Don't bother using the Old Testament to prove Jesus is fulfilling prophecy when you consistently use texts about the suffering Jewish nation and consistently ignore texts about the all-powerful "anointed one," Messiah figure. Christians feel like they have free license to pick and choose what they want from the OT, regardless if the verses actually use the word "Messiah" or not. It's a desperately sad and deeply misguided way of turning Jesus into a workable Messiah figure.
You say: It's my opinion that when one twists another's argument in order to make it look ridiculous, it's more or less an acknowledgment of the strength of the actual argument. I see no need to respond.
Problem: Or perhaps your argument is just fundamentally ridiculous?
Problem: I've asked you to prove that Jews during, and prior to Jesus' time, believe in the possibility of a suffering Messiah. So you've linked an article which has random, scattered quotes based out of the Kabbalah. Have you done any research whatsoever on any of those sources provided? I doubt it, so let me do the work for you (once again). The Zohar was written by someone living likely in the 13th century, due to it drawing upon commentaries written by medieval rabbis. The Pesikta Rabbati was written around 845 CE. The Babylonian Talmud was written in 200 CE and 500 CE. Eleazar Kalir's time frame is between the 6th and 10th century CE. The Seder Eliyahu Rabba dates from the 10th century CE.
So let me point out that all of these sources were written hundreds, sometimes thousands, of years after Jesus died. And that all of these sources have absolutely no connection the OT itself, and very possibly were influenced by Christian theology. This in itself isn't unexpected, since obviously disciples like James and Peter continued to be Jewish yet though of Jesus as Messiah, NOT due to prophecy fulfillment but rather to magical visions, which cancelled out the prophey failure for them. I have yet to receive any evidence that God ever expected the Jewish nation to think his Messiah would suffer instead of come in all power and glory to unite the Jewish nation.
You say: http://www.hearnow.org/isa_com.html
Problem: Once again, this is a link to what a bunch of Jewish men said hundreds of years after Jesus died. And they were likely converts to a Jewish form of Christianity, so their interpretation of Isaiah is on the fringe of Jewish theology. It is a fact that Isaiah 53 was historically known to be about the Israelite nation during Jesus' time, before Jesus' time, and after Jesus' time according to Jewish interpretation.
You say: So even though moving from one to zero is obviously not an inflation, you're arguing that it's an inflation because people would inflate it?
Problem: Do I really need to rehash this for the third time now? Once again you seem to forget 3/4ths of my argument so you can form straw men. Did you forget that Mark starts with a single man in Jesus' tomb? And Matthew inflates it into an angel with an earthquake? And that Luke inflates it to two angels who looked like they were dressed in lightning? Let alone the dialogue that changes when their conversations take place.
Did you forget that Mark says nothing of what Jesus did after he Resurrected? That Matthew says only that Jesus taught on a mount, and some disciples doubted it was him? And that Luke says Jesus was randomly disappearing and appear to various people, using his superpowers of disguise and teleportation to make who knows what point? The line of inflation goes from Mark to Matt to Luke. John, the one that has nobody at the tomb, is a different beast altogether because it was developed within a completely separate Christian community, as opposed to the Synoptics.
Now, I'm really getting tired of restating these points over and over. You've already tried to refute them, too, saying "Oh, they were confused" or "Different people were at the tomb at different times," so what is your point of even trying to say my basis for inflation is going directly from Mark to John? It serves no purpose other than to make a straw man for you to attack, because it's much easier than trying to face my actual arguments.
You say: You're claiming that these discrepancies prove the Jesus story was fabricated. But if they don't prove that Caesar's assassination was fabricated, then how do they prove the Jesus story was fabricated?
Problem: I didn't say "the Jesus story is fabricated." Stop putting words in my mouth to attack straw men. Also, as I said, if one account of Caesar had 5 men killing him, and another had 50 men killing him, and another had 2 angels killing him, which story would you intuitively consider most accurate? It's obvious. We have a trend of inflation with the Synoptics - 1 man, then 1 angel w/earthquake, then 2 angels. It's obvious which should be discarded. People don't deflate stories from an angel down to a man, they inflate stories from a man into an angel.
You say: Out of curiosity, are there any non-miraculous events described in the Gospel accounts that you don't believe happened? Or any miraculous events that you believe happened?
Problem: Yup, plenty. However, I'm not going to debate any of these things with you, I'm just listing them so you know I don't believe they happened. Most of his origin story is likely made up. There was no Empire-wide census where people had to go back to their ancestors homeland: it was a sloppy, misinformed explanation of the Census of Quirinius. There was likely no Massacre of the Innocents: it was a vast inflation of the story of Herod killing his own sons. Interestingly enough, Jesus is stated to be born both during the census of Quirinius and the Reign of Herod, despite Herod dying in 4 BC and Quirinius taking his census in 6/7AD, a 10 year difference.
Or there's the story in John of Jesus telling the crowd, who was about to stone the woman, that "he without sin cast the first stone." The earliest copies of John do not have this story, and the texts that do have the story in brackets, implying it was not in the original document.
And of course, there's a large number of geographical mistakes, especially in Mark, If you want to know the extent of these errors, feel free to read about it here:http://www.bismikaallahuma.org/archives/2005/geographical-errors-within-the-new-testament/
You say: The differences in minor details don't suggest that Caesar wasn't assassinated, any more than the differences in minor details would suggest that Jesus wasn't resurrected.
Problem: Once again, using terrible comparisons. Do you really not understand the difference between a political assassination, and the apparent blueprint for universal salvation? Excuse me if I'm more critical of one than the other! First of all, we know people can die, and we know people can be killed by others. Therefore the idea of an assassination needs no burden of proof to overcome the basic principles of life. A Resurrection does - it requires greater proof exactly because it is much more unlikely than an assassination. Don't you agree that Resurrections are rarer than an assassination? And that therefore you would need a more convincing account to believe in a Resurrection than an assassination? Apparently you don't - you see them as equivalent events, neither requiring a great amount of scrutiny. I believe this is an incredibly naive way to view the world. Differences in detail don't fundamentally suggest natural events didn't happen, but they certainly suggest that supernatural events didn't, especially when this supernatural event is claiming to be the most significant supernatural event to ever happen.
You say: I think we can face facts here. You doubt the resurrection (and, I presume, the walking on water, water into wine, virgin birth, resurrection of Lazarus, etc.) because those are miracles, and you believe that the chance of a miracle is infinitesimal. The crucifixion, placement in a tomb, rock rolled away, etc. are not miracles, so you have no problem believing those things happened. I understand that. I really just want you to admit that your reason for doubting the resurrection boils down to your disbelief in miracles, and is not primarily based on these other issues. These other issues, if applied consistently, would equally disprove the mundane events in the Gospels, and not just the miraculous ones.
Problem: I don't believe in a Jewish Messiah who's entire purpose of salvation manages to bring about Jewish persecution for thousands of years by Christian hands. And as I will explain later, even if I accept all the NT miracles as "real", it still wouldn't convert me to Christianity or lead me to believe that salvation is dependent upon believing in Jesus as a personal savior.
You say: And do we have to figure out who Caesar was before we decide if his assassination makes sense? Or should we agree that since all evidence says that he was assassinated, the idea that he was assassinated makes sense? If Caesar's biographers all disagreed on what kind of personality Caesar had (which they do - one source says he bravely faced his attackers and spoke to them when confronted, another says he hid under his robe, saying nothing), thus making it difficult or impossible for us to figure out "who Caesar was", would we suddenly have to doubt the assassination, despite all early sources agreeing that it happened?
Problem: You comparing the life of Jesus to the life of Cesar is beginning to wear thin. Do you think you can win every argument through use of poor analogies? Let me once again point out the mistakes here. First of all, we do need to figure out who Cesar is before we decide if his assassination makes sense. If he was some peasant murdered in the Senate, the story would make no sense. But obviously, we know from many records that he was the Emperor at the time, and we know of the political intrigue that brought about his death. We don't know his exact emotional state during the assassination, but that is of little importance and does nothing to put the story in dispute, because the assassination isn't claiming to be a divine fulfillment of prophecy, or that Cesar was actually God and so he knew he would be assassinated.
According to Christians, Jesus knew he was God and knew he would be crucified, so the story of John makes the most sense since Jesus is in complete control during his crucifixion. According to historians, Jesus didn't think of himself as God and was surprised by the crucifixion, so the Synoptics make the most sense since Jesus is a nervous wreck and praying to God to have it stopped. In this way, Jesus' emotional state is directly relevant to who Jesus was, whereas Cesar's emotional state is not directly relevant to who Cesar was. Jesus was psychic, Cesar was not. We wouldn't expect a psychic to be surprised or terrified about their own death, especially when the psychic is assumed to be God incarnate!
We have two options for Jesus: view him as a successful son-of-God sacrifice, reinforcing the notion of a literal Resurrection, or view him as a failed Jewish prophet, reinforcing the notion of post-mortem hallucinations and storytelling. We need to know if Cesar was an Emperor or a peasant before we decide if a Senate assassination makes sense, just as we need to know if Jesus was God or simply a Jewish prophet before we decide if a divine Resurrection makes sense.
You say: Huh? I agreed that the evidence is about 100% that He lived, and 90% that He was divine. Those two are not contradictory at all. You're putting words into my mouth here.
Problem: Um, I didn't say that YOU thought they were contradictory. That's something I am saying. I'm not putting any words in your mouth.
You say: I don't want to get into arguing specifics here, but let me ask you this - if this is a contradiction, then couldn't it be due to one of the authors making a mistake rather than reflecting on Jesus Himself?
Problem: Yes, which is exactly my point. The Synoptic are more accurate while John is a fanciful elaboration. I'm not saying Jesus was a bipolar mess, I'm saying John is very inaccurate in most of his stories.
(Note: This letter is continued on Page 23)