By: Marilyn Burge Re: A New Topic Sent: Thursday, April 04, 1996 4:08 PM To: Multiple reci

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By: Marilyn Burge Re: A New Topic From: on behalf of Sent: Thursday, April 04, 1996 4:08 PM To: Multiple recipients of list Subject: Horner Barker Debate Last night I attended the Horner-Barker debate on the resurrection at Northern Iowa University in Cedar Falls. The following is my impression of the debate. The debate began with Horner reading essentially the same speech that he opened with in my debate with him at Seattle-Pacific University last May. I saw Dan Barker turning the pages of the copy that I had sent to him and following along as Horner went over the same points that he had made in Seattle. I thought that Barker made an excellent first speech that Horner didn't respond to except to brush it aside and essentially say, "It isn't so." In my opinion, he never recovered and just kept rehashing the same points again. In Barker's first speech, he said that the burden of proof was on the one claiming the miracle of a resurrection but that he was going to offer to Horner what he has been asking for, and that is an alternative hypothesis that explains the data better than Horner's supposition that a resurrection literally occurred. He told Horner not to assume that this alternative hypothesis denies the possibility of miracles, because such a denial was not a part of the hypothesis. The hypothesis simply proposes a more likely explanation for the Christian belief in the resurrection. Barker than proceeded by stating his hypothesis: belief in a bodily resurrection was a result of evolution that began with a belief in a spiritual resurrection. Barker then analyzed 1 Corinthians 15. He noted that Paul's statement in verses 3-8 is recognized by most biblical scholars to be the earliest known statement about the resurrection. He cited the usual reasons for believing that this was so and that Paul had merely quoted what Christians had been passing along orally, possibly even in hymns or poems that were orally transmitted. Barker noted that this earlier account makes no references to many of the elements that are found in the gospel accounts, which were written much later. There were no references to an earthquake and empty tomb, to women, to angels, etc. He asked the audience to think about why the earliest account of the resurrection would have left out such important events if they were so widely known as a part of the resurrection event. He then focused on the words "buried," "raised," and "appeared" in Paul's text and did an analysis of each as they were used in the Greek text of the NT. He pointed out that the word "thapto" (bury) meant to inter or bury and carried no necessary connotations of entombment, so this would be consistent with the known practice of taking the bodies of crucifixion victims and burying them in a common grave. He pointed out that the word translated "rose" or "raised" in English translations of this passage was "egeiro," which meant to "arouse" or "awaken." He noted that this was the word that Paul used in referring to the resurrection in such places as 2 Corinthians 5:15 and that it was the word used in Ephesians 5:14, where Paul said, "Awake (egeiro), thou that sleepest and arise (anistemi) from the dead." The latter word that means "arise" or "raise up" is the word used in reference to resurrection, but "egeiro" (awake) is the word that Paul used in 1 Corinthians 15:4, 12 in speaking of Christ arising. [I don't recall that Dan said this, but "egeiro" was used by Paul eleven other times in 1 Corinthians 15:15-52, as he spoke about the apostles being false witnesses if the dead are not *raised,* faith being dead if the dead are not *raised," and his analogy of seed and bodies that are sown corruptible but *raised* in incorruption, etc.] Barker's argument was that the meaning of the word that Paul used in this earliest account of the resurrection was sufficient to believe that Christians at this time had believed only in a spiritual awakening of Christ after his death. Then, later, when legend had built the spiritual arising into a literal resurrection of the dead, the gospels were written to put the resurrection into a specific historical setting. Barker than analyzed the word "appear" to show that Paul and others used it in visionary senses. In Matthew 17:3, Moses and Elijah "appeared" at the time of the transfiguration, and the Greek word here is the same one that Paul used in 1 Corinthians 15:3-8 in listing the appearances that Jesus made to Cephas, to the twelve, to the 500 brethren, to James, and finally to Paul himself. Barker asked if Horner thought that Moses and Elijah had been bodily resurrected in their appearances at the transfiguration. In Acts 16:9, "a vision *appreared* [same word as in 1 Corinthians 15:3-8] to Paul in the night in which a man from Macedonia stood praying for Paul to come there to help them. Since the same word for "appear" was used in 1 Corinthians 15:8, where Paul said, "And last of all, as to the child untimely born, he *appeared* to me also, Barker argued that there is sufficient reason to assume that the other appearances were like the appearance to Paul. Barker then showed that the only records that exist of the appearance of Jesus to Paul show clearly that this was just a vision that Paul had and that he had actually not even seen Jesus in the vision. He heard only a voice speaking from a bright light (Acts 9:3-8; 22:6-11; 26:12-18), and the men who were with him saw only the light but didn't hear the voice (according to one of the accounts). So if this was the way that Paul saw Jesus, and since the same word for "see" or "appeared' (depending on translation) was used for all of the appearances in this passage, why should we believe that the other appearances were any more than just visionary appearances? The actual bodily appearances came much later in the gospel narratives. Barker also referred to other places in 1 Corinthians 15 to show that Paul had had in mind a spiritual resurrection, not a bodily one. He referred to the gospel narratives to show that by the time they were written, there was sort of a composite view of the resurrection. It was a resurrected body that showed its wounds that could be touched and examined, yet it was also a body that could be teletransported, appear suddenly, and even pass through closed doors. At this point, Barker called to the audience's attention that Thomas who was a "buddy" of the apostles wouldn't believe the claim of his "buddies" that the body had been resurrected until he had seen it and touched it himself. "So why should we?" Barker asked. In his "rebuttal," Horner said very little about Barker's points, which he had spent most of his speech developing. Horner simply said that it was silly to think that a spiritual resurrection meant that the body itself was spirit. He said that we speak about spiritual experiences and spiritual books, but we don't mean by this that the experiences and books are actually made out of spirits. Then he went on, and basically spent the rest of the night rehashing his major points, which he had on a transparency that he kept putting onto the overhead projector. Horner's favorite method of "rebutting" an opponent's argument seems to be the citation of a quotation from someone who agrees with him but disagrees with his opponent. We saw quite a bit of that during the debate. One of Horner's points was that legends need two generations to develop, and so Barker showed examples of how legends develop quicker than that. During the cross-examination, Barker brought up the appearances of the virgin Mary in Yugoslovia and asked Horner if he believed these appearances were real or legendary. Horner was evasive, but Barker pressed him until he said that they could have been either. Barker immediately turned to the audience and announced that he had trapped Horner in a contradiction, and when Barker made his next speech, he pointed out that Horner's position is that legends need at least two generations to develop but that he had said during cross-examination that the appearances of the Virgin Mary in Yugoslovia could have been legendary, yet these stories had received wide circulation and belief within a matter of days. Hence, Horner was obviously inconsistent in his beliefs about legends. [As a matter of interest to others, although I was unable to present it to Horner as a question, because I made a choice and selected another question instead, Wyatt Earp's wife wrote a biography of her husband after he died. Once when I was browsing in a Walden book store, I picked the book up out of curiosity and thumbed though it. I stopped to read her account of the "shoot-out at the OK Corral," and she said that it never happened. She was in Tombstone at the time with the touring company in which she was an actress. This was where she had met Earp. She said that her husband, his brothers, and Doc Holliday had had a brief skirmish with the Clantons that lasted no more than 30 seconds but that it did not occur at the OK Corral. It happened in front of a house owned by someone named Hayes but that nothing like what was later romanticized in pulp novels and movies had happened. It was later glamorized into a shoot-out at the OK Corral perhaps because a confrontation at Hayes' house didn't sound glamorous enough, she theorized. She stated that one of the Clanton brothers who had survived the incident and had later become a friend of her and her husband was still alive to confirm what she was saying. Her eyewitness testimony in this matter was interesting to me, because it does show that legends don't need two generations to develop. Furthermore, it also shows that legends can develop during the lifetimes of those that the legends are built around as well as the lifetimes of eyewitnesses to the events around which the legends are built. Horner and others claim that Paul's reference to the 500 brethren who saw Jesus at one time has to be true because it was made during the lifetime of some of these brethren, so if the claim were untrue these witnesses could have come forth and denied that it happened. First of all, this argument begs the question in that it assumes that the appearance to the 500 had actually happened. If it hadn't happened, there would have been no eyewitnesses to the fact that it had not happened. How can there be eyewitnesses that such a claim as this did not happen? I would say that Paul knew he was standing on pretty safe ground when he made this unlikely claim. It was the type of claim that gullible, superstitious people at that time would have believed, and if it was an event that didn't happen, he understood that there could be no eyewitnesses to come forth and testify that it hadn't happened. Even though the eyewitness testimony of Earp's wife clearly shows that legends can develop during the lifetime of the characters around whom the legends are built, I suspect that Horner and others will still drag out this same old discredited argument the next time they debate the resurrection, just as creationists continue to use claims and arguments that have been been proven erroneous many times.] Despite the fact that Barker clearly said from the beginning that his argument did not entail denial of the possibility of miracles, Horner kept referring throughout the debate to the extraordinary-claims-require- extraordinary-evidence argument against the resurrection. At one point, he went into a long spiel about an extraordinary claim would need extraordinary evidence to prove it and then that extraordinary evidence would need extraordinary evidence to prove it and so on until infinite regress. Yet Barker himself never presented this as an argument. He responded to Horner's references to it by saying that he would just like to see some good evidence like firsthand eyewitness testimony but that Horner can't even give that. I thought the debate was well worth the 8-hour trip for me, and I think it would be well worth the time and effort of transcribing it and posting it on the internet. Matt Perman, who is a subscriber to the errancy list and who seemed to be involved in the organization of the debate, may like to give a believer's perspective of the debate. If so, he can post it to errancy, and I will bounce it onto Debate and to the Internet Infidels. Farrell Till ... Programming is like sex: One mistake and you support it. --- PPoint 2.00 * Origin: So What's Yer Point? (1:105/40.666)


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