The Religious A priori
IV. No Alternate Versions (page 1)
1) Mythology tends to proliforate:multiple story versions are common
2) When historical facts are known to a wide audience, people tend not to deny the basic facts of an event.
a) eye witnesses keep it stairght
b) People who try to invent new aspects of the event are confronted with the fact that most everyone knows better.
c) people know the story for a fact and just dont' bother to change it.
3) Story proliforations would probably influence further tellings, thus creating many more documents with different versions of the same story.
4) If a myth proliforates we would tend to find more versions of the same story, when there is only one version we can accept a degree of certainty that the story did not proliforate.
5) We do not find a proliforation of versions of the Jesus story in any sources we know of.
6) The most logical way to account for this single Jesus story is through p2, that everyone knew it was the case, there were too many eye witnesses to spread new versions.
a) It is illogical to assume that everyone just liked it so they didn't add to it.
b) There was no canonization process in place in the early period, and the single unified verison existed from the earliest trace of the story.
7)Therefore, we can assume that it is probably the case that the masses were familiar with the story of Jesus because the story reflects events known by all to be factual.
The main thing that myths do is change. Given enough time, a myth will transmography until the names of the heroes are different, how they died is forgotten and retold so many times, there came to be multiple versions of their death. Myths change over time, but history does not. People remember a basic event they know its real, they don't forget it. Herclues has two deaths, in one he's poisaned, in another shot with an arrow. There are about 14 versions of the Tamuz myth. But there is only one way for the guys at the Alamo to die, there is only one death for Arthur, and there is only one way that Jesus Christ is ver portrayed as dying, that's by the cross. Why? Because that's how he really died. No one could deny it, so no one ever propossed another method.
I have made the argument, on message boards, that there are no alternate versions of the basic Gospel story. The point being, there are many versions of most myths. The fact that with tons of "other Gospels" not a one of them before the fourth century gives an alternate account of Jesus life, death, burial and resurrection is a good indication that everyone knew the basic facts, they were public knowledge because they were history; these things happened before the community of Jerusalem, the whole community was a witness and no one could deny it.Now skeptics have responded that certain alternate Gospels deny the resurrection. They name the Apochraphon of James. This is not true. As will be seen from what I quote below James does mention the resurrection. Some of the latter Gnostics denied the theology of the Virginal conception, but they still allude to the story. They denied that Jesus' death was real, but they do not deny that it happened, only that he was not a flesh and blood being and so could not die. What they accept is that the illusion of a flesh and blood man lived on the earth and was taken for a real person why all who saw him.
That is a fundamental mistake of Dohrtey (the champion of the "Christ-myth" theory), he thinks all the action originally was set in a heavily realm, that is not the case. The Gnostics generally accepted that the illusion of a man was seen on earth and seemed to be living among men. So they just spiritualized the history of Jesus.Below I will quote from several "other Gospels" to show that they affirm the deity of Christ, the resurrection, that they include references to many of the stories and periscopes in the canonical Gospels, and that they assume the general outline of the story that we call "fact."
Of course this in and of itself is not "proof" of the Jesus story, but taken together with the other evidence, it makes a compelling case.
Myths have Multiple Versions
Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia
Some myths descended originally as part of an oral tradition and were only later written down, and many of them exist in multiple versions. All cultures have developed over time their own mythology, consisting of legends of their history, their religions, and their heros. The myths that make up a culture's mythology are stories with deep explanatory or symbolic resonance for a culture, which is the usual explanation for why they remain with the culture sometimes for thousands of years. Myths are therefore to be distinguished from fables, folktales, fairy tales, anecdotes, or simple fiction.
Friedman presents a fascinating phrase-by-phrase analysis of the two versions of the flood story which appear side by side in Genesis, although rarely noticed by most bible readers. Most bible readers also do not notice two contradictory versions of creation in the first three chapters of Genesis. If you read Gilgamesh, the world's oldest myth which we know of, from 3rd millenium BC clay tablets, you'll find the exact same story as appears in the 1st millenium BC Genesis. Gilgamesh's ark captain Utanapishtim has become Noah in the ensuing two thousand years.
Examples and documentation of
Multiple versions of myth
Mithra comes from Persia and is part of Zoroastrian myth, but this cult was transplanted to Rome near the end of the pre-Chrsitian era. Actually the figure of Mithra is very ancient. He began in the Hindu pantheon and is mentioned in the Vedas. He latter spread to Persia where he took the guise of a sheep protecting deity. But his guise as a shepard was rather minor. He is associated with the Sun as well. Yet most of our evidence about his cult (which apparently didn't exist in the Hindu or Persian forms) comes from Post-Pauline times. Mitrha changed over time from Hindu patheon to persian sun god, to mystery cult savior.
(Marvin W. Meyer, ed. The Ancient Mysteries :a Sourcebook. San Francisco: Harper, 1987,, p. 201).
The Greek god Dionysos is said to be the god of wine, actually he began as a fertility god in Phrygian and in Macedonia, Thrace, and other outlying regions. The origin of the cult is probably in Asia. (Charles Seltman, The Twelve Olympians, New York: Thomas Y. Corwell Company, 1960.)
In some stories Dionysos is torn apart by the Titans. IN other stories it is Hera's orders that he be torn apart. (Edith Hamilton, Mythology, Mentor edition, original copywriter 1940, pp. 61-62).
Easter: Myth, Hallucination or History by Edwin M. Yamauchi Leadership u.
Updated 22 March 1997
(prof. of History at Miami University, Osford Ohio)
"In the case of the Mesopotamian Tammuz (Sumerian Dumuzi), his alleged resurrection by the goddess Inanna-Ishtar had been assumed even though the end of both the Sumerian and the Akkadian texts of the myth of "The Descent of Inanna (Ishtar)" had not been preserved. Professor S. N. Kramer in 1960 published a new poem, "The Death of Dumuzi," that proves conclusively that instead of rescuing Dumuzi from the Underworld, Inanna sent him there as her substitute (cf. my article, "Tammuz and the Bible," Journal of Biblical Literature, LXXXIV , 283-90). A line in a fragmentary and obscure text is the only positive evidence that after being sent to the Underworld Dumuzi may have had his sister take his place for half the year "(cf. S. N. Kramer, Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research, No. 183 , 31). "Tammuz was identified by later writers with the Phoenician Adonis, the beautiful youth beloved of Aphrodite. According to Jerome, Hadrian desecrated the cave in Bethlehem associated with Jesus' birth by consecrating it with a shrine of Tammuz-Adonis. Although his cult spread from Byblos to the GrecoRoman world, the worship of Adonis was never important and was restricted to women. P. Lambrechts has shown that there is no trace of a resurrection in the early texts or pictorial representations of Adonis; the four texts that speak of his resurrection are quite late, dating from the second to the fourth centuries A.D". ("La 'resurrection' d'Adonis," in Melanges Isidore Levy, 1955, pp. 207-40).
The "Great" Cybele
"Cybele, also known as the Great Mother, was worshiped through much
of the Hellenistic world. She undoubtedly began as a goddess of nature. Her
early worship included orgiastic ceremonies in which her frenzied male
worshipers were led to castrate themselves, following which they became
"Galli" or eunuch-priests of the goddess. Cybele eventually came to be viewed as
the Mother of all gods and the mistress of all life." (Ronald Nash,"Was the
New Testament Influenced by Pagan Religions?" The Christian Research
Journal, Winter 1994, p.8) [CRJ:http://www.iclnet.org/pub/resources/text/cri/cri-jrnl/web/crjo169a.html
In some versions of the myth, Attis's return to life took the form of his being changed into an evergreen tree.(Ibid)
The cult changes over time and the story changes:Lambrechts has also shown that Attis, the consort of Cybele, does not appear as a "resurrected" god until after A.D. 1 50. ( "Les Fetes 'phrygiennes' de Cybele et d' Attis," Bulletin de l'lnstitut Historique Belge de Rome, XXVII 11952], 141-70).
The Cult (Osiris) moved to Rome where it was at first rejected, but finally was allowed into the city between 37 and 41. Only after the next two centuries did it become a rival of Christianity. Its eventual popularity came from its elaborate ritual and hope of immortality, although this was a latter development which post dates Christian origins and does not include Osiris. During the Osiris phase the immortality aspects were very minimal. 3) Early phase of cult no savior, in period of clash with Christianity, no Osiris! Thus, during the early part of the cult they had no great savior figure and no salvation aspects to speak of, and in the phase where they competed with Christianity (two or more centuries after the Gospels) they had no dying or rising savior figure. (Ronald Nash, "Was The New Testament Influenced by Pagan Religions?" the Christian Research Journal, Winter 19994, p 8 )
It seems to be a universal law of mthology that myths transmutate over time. Here is a report about mythology of the Northwestern United States and it's native people. It states that they have multiple versions of the same myths.
DRAFT: CASCADIA MEGATHRUST EARTHQUAKES IN PACIFIC NORTHWEST INDIAN MYTHS AND LEGENDS
by Ruth Ludwin, University of Washington Dept. of Earth and Space Sciences 12/29/99 DRAFT
"Incomplete as the preserved oral history of Cascadia is, many stories are repeated in multiple versions, with some "mixing and matching" of story elements, and some of the stories are geographically wide-spread."
Here are (not all) basic points
of agreement between all Jesus sources
from before the fourth century.
all The most basic details about these mythological figures changes and froms mutltiple myths. Who they were, what they stood for, their function, how they lived, how they died, even their country of origin all change. A god like Mirthra begins as an unimportant figure in Indian pantheon and winds up the sun God, the God of shepards in Persian and then something else in Rome. All of these mythical figures change over time, but not Jesus. There is basically one Jesus story and it's always the same.
1) Jesus lived on earth as a man from the beginning of the first century to AD 33.
2) That his mother was supposed to be a Virgin named "Mary"
3) Same principle players, Peter, Andrew, Philip, John, Mary Magdeline.
4) That Jesus was knows as a miracles worker.
5) he claimed to be the son of God and Messiah.
6) he was crucified under Pilate.
7) Around the time of the Passover.
8) at noon.
9) rose from the dead leaving an empty tomb.
10) several woman with MM discovered the empty tomb.
11) That this was in Jerusalem.
There were hundreds of sources, different books and Gospels and Acts, that never made it into the New Testament. The Jesus story is re-told countrless times from early days (around AD50 first written) to the fourth century, before there was ever a major alternatiion in any of these basic details. Even after that time, no one ever disagreed with these points listed avove. Here is just a partial list of source from this era, all of them agree on the points listed above. This list comes from a website,(Gospel of Thomas Home page)
The Infancy Gospel of Thomas [Greek Text A]
The Infancy Gospel of Thomas [Greek Text B]
The Infancy Gospel of Thomas [Latin Text]
A 5th Century Compilation of the Thomas Texts
An Arabic Infancy Gospel
The Gospel of James
The Gospel of the Nativity of Mary
The Gospel of Mary [Magdalene]
The Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew
The Gospel of Nicodemus [Acts of Pilate]
The Gospel of Bartholomew
The Gospel of Peter
The Gospel of Thomas
The Gospel of Philip
The Gospel of the Lord [by Marcion]
The Secret Gospel of Mark Return to Top
The Acts of the New TestamentThe Acts of Andrew
The Acts and Martyrdom of Andrew
The Acts of Andrew and Matthew
The Acts of Barnabas
Martyrdom of Bartholomew
The Acts of John
The Mystery of the Cross-Excerpt from the Acts of John
The Acts of John the Theologian
The History of Joseph the Carpenter
The Book of John Concerning the Death of Mary
The Passing of Mary
The Acts and Martyrdom of Matthew
The Martyrdom of Matthew
The Acts of Paul
The Acts of Paul and Thecla
The Acts of Peter
The Acts of Peter and Andrew
The Acts of Peter and Paul
The Acts of Peter and the Twelve Apostles
The Acts of Philip
The Report of Pontius Pilate to Tiberius
The Giving Up of Pontius Pilate
The Death of Pilate
The Acts of Thaddaeus
The Acts of Thomas
The Book of Thomas the Contender
The Consummation of Thomas Return to Top
Apocryphal ApocalypseThe Apocalypse of Adam
The Revelation of Esdras
The First Apocalypse of James
The Second Apocalypse of James
The Revelation of John the Theologian
The Revelation of Moses
The Apocalypse of Paul
Fragments-The Apocalypse of Paul
The Revelation of Paul
The Apocalypse of Peter
The Vision of Paul
The Revelation of Peter
Fragments-The Apocalypse of Peter
The Apocalypse of Sedrach
The Revelation of Stephen
The Apocalypse of Thomas
The Apocalypse of the Virgin Return to Top
Other WritingsThe Teachings of Addeus the Apostle
The Epistle of the Apostles
The Apocryphon of James
The Correspondence of Jesus and Abgar
The Sophia of Jesus Christ
John the Evangelist
The Apocryphon of John
The Narrative of Joseph of Arimathaea
The Epistle to the Laodiceans
The Correspondence of Paul and Seneca
The Prayer of the Apostle Paul
The Letter of Peter to Philip
The Letter of Pontius Pilate to the Roman Emperor
The Report of Pilate to Caesar
The Report of Pilate to Tiberius
Excerpts from Pistis Sophia
The Avenging of the Saviour
The Three Steles of Seth
The Book of Thomas the Contender
And that's not even all of them. I can't think of several that aren't included. And out of all of that, not one offers a different version of Jesus life, death, or resurrection. why? When other myths are always re-told in other ways why is the Jesus story always the same on the basic outline? Because they all knew the facts. The whole community knew what basically happned and it could not be denied.
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Rebuttle to Peter Kirby's diatribe againgst this argument