Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Gospels as Improving Literature

Professor Larry Hurtado has another excellent blog entry on the Gospel of Mark.

Here’s a key quote:

“Indeed, it is striking that many of the most notable Markan ‘omissions’ involve matters which are not susceptible of imitation, including the virginal conception and the pre-eschatological resurrection. Mark’s whole story of Jesus can be read as a blueprint for the Christian life: It begins with baptism, proceeds with the vigorous pursuit of ministry in the face of temptation and opposition, and culminates in suffering and death oriented towards an as-yet unseen vindication.”

The whole story was crafted as a blueprint for the Christian life.

Presumably in the same what that the whole story of the Good Samaritan can be read as a blueprint for morality.

Why is there no evidence for Christianity?

Christians love to explain why there is no evidence for Christianity by saying that people in the Gospels were obscure, so we cannot expect evidence for their existence.

Victor Reppert is a good example of a Christian who rationalises away the lack of evidence for his beliefs by telling himself that he cannot expect to find any.

In Victor's view, we cannot expect people in the first century to confirm the existence of Judas, Lazarus, Thomas, Joseph of Arimathea, Mary Magdalene, Barabbas, Nicodemus, Bartimaeus, Jairus, Simon of Cyrene, Joanna, Salome, Martha etc etc - people who have no existence in church history outside the Gospels.

As Richard Dawkins points out, this is exactly the sort of behaviour to be expected from people who believe without evidence. They need to find a way of telling themselves that they are being reasonable to believe things for which there is no evidence.