Dating jesus book review
Repeat one 10 times, as in a game of telephone, and the most salient details—who exactly said what or did what to whom—will change the most.
What are the chances, 50 years after the fact, that the author of the Gospel of Matthew remembered hearing the Sermon on the Mount—a polished and nuanced discourse—exactly as it was said?
If a dominant member of the group interjected his version or a new (and potentially suspect) detail, the others would often let it slide unchallenged, incorporating it into the new collective memory.
(Not unlike Donald Trump’s crowds of Muslims dancing for joy on New Jersey rooftops on 9/11.) And there’s no reason to believe memories of the more mundane details of Jesus’s life would be any more reliable. Two weeks later, half of the second cohort remembered actually making the marital offer.
Secular historians, without much questioning their own assumptions, accepted the entrenched academic idea that oral cultures were significantly better than literary cultures in preserving accurate memory.
The passage of years explained, in a way acceptable to historians, why there were different accounts of the same event.
Scholars are almost universally on-side, as are most Christian churches.
Pilate is the sole figure from Jesus’s trial for whom we have undoubted archaeological evidence, and he’s also, perhaps coincidentally, the only one to become part of the Nicene Creed, the most widely embraced capsule statement of Christian faith: “For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate.” But that wasn’t what all early Christians thought.
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As for eyewitness corroboration, far from controlling accuracy, eyewitnesses tend to offer the least trustworthy accounts, particularly when recalling something spectacular or fast-moving, like Jesus walking on water.