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More on the Criterion of Independent Attestation

QUESTION: Re. multiple attestation: would you elaborate on how these sources are truly independent. I've read comments by mythicists and others that state that all the sources actually go back to one source and that any differences in the gospel accounts can be accounted for by the theological views or the 'agenda' of the particular author, e.g. Matt 5:17 or Mark 3:21 (and, of course, accounted for by simple miscommunications thru' generations). Also, please forgive me for asking a stupid question....are there any accounts found in the gospels that pass all three criteria but which you don’t think actually happened? RESPONSE: Yes, once you dig deeper into the question of “independent attestation,” the trickier it gets.  Technically, the term refers to sources that have not used one another for their accounts.  And so, for example, whoever wrote Mark did not have access to Q, and Q did not have access to Mark; M did not have access to John’s Signs Source, and vice versa; Paul did not know Matthew and vice versa; etc.   The matter [...]

Jesus and the Historical Criteria

QUESTION: I've seen, somewhere on the internet (I know, great source!) some discussion that modern scholarship is moving away from the idea of criteria (such as multiple attestation, dissimilarity, etc.) and that the use of criteria is becoming seen as outmoded. Is there any truth to this, or were these sources just blowing   RESPONSE: This question is about the criteria that scholars use to establish historically reliable material about the historical Jesus.   For  background: there are several criteria that get used; the two most common are independent attestation and dissimilarity.   To make sense of them, one needs to realize what was happening to the traditions of Jesus as they were being circulated, mainly by word of mouth, in the Roman empire.  It’s a long story.  The short version of it is this:  stories were being changed by the story-tellers and some stories were being made up.  There’s simply no way around this, from a historical perspective.  Just about the only ones who disagree are people who have theological reasons for thinking that every single [...]

2020-04-03T19:20:53-04:00September 29th, 2012|Historical Jesus, Reader’s Questions|
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