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Luke's Minute & Extraordinary Historical Accuracy
#1

Luke's Minute & Extraordinary Historical Accuracy
The following data is an example of one sort of thing out of many hundreds that -- together -- lead Christians to believe that the Bible is credible and not "nonsense" (as an atheist described it in another thread). Luke was an educated man and a physician. He wrote the Book of Acts. I shall now provide several examples of its minute historical accuracy (further documentation by request if you want it):

Acts 13 mentions Paul and his companions sailing to the island of Cyprus and meeting Sergius Paulus, a “proconsul” (vv. 4,7). Cyprus became a “senatorial province” in 22 B.C. and hence was governed by a proconsul. An inscription mentioning “proconsul Paulus” was discovered at Soloi, Cyprus, in 1878. Two more evidences also exist: “a fragmentary inscription discovered near Pisidian Antioch, currently housed in the Yalvac Museum, on which the name L. Sergius Paulus is visible” and “an inscription near Pisidian Antioch which was copied by Sir William Ramsay and J.G.C. Anderson in 1912 that refers to L. Sergius Paullus, the younger, son of Lucius.”

Philippi, mentioned in Acts 16:12 (see also 20:6), was “the leading city of the district of Macedonia,” according to Luke. But scholars fretted over his use of the Greek word meris (“district” in RSV), which was thought to be highly improbable and inaccurate. But lo and behold, in time, they were “foiled again,” as Bible scholar Merrill F. Unger notes,

Quote:Excavations in the papyri-rich sands of the Fayum in Egypt have demonstrated that the resident colonists there, many of whom had emigrated from Macedonia where Philippi was located, idiomatically employed this very word meris to denote the divisions of a district. Now all scholars own that the word was used correctly by Luke.

Remarkable specific and meticulous details abound in Luke’s writings. He refers to “Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods” (Acts 16:14). It turns out that, as a result of inscriptions, we now know that Thyatira had many trade guilds, and one that was “particularly strong” was the “production of purple dye.” Indeed, fifteen of twenty-eight inscriptions found in Thyatira regarding dye were related to this trade of purple dye. 

Similarly, Luke used the Greek word politarchos for “city authorities” in reference to Thessalonika in Macedonia (Greece—see Acts 17:1,6,8). For a long time, this was dismissed as a mistake. But sure enough, seventeen examples of this terminology, covering about 150 years over the first and second centuries, were found on inscriptions. 

One Roman road entered the city of Thessalonika at the Vardar Gate, a Roman arch. It included the inscription (dated to the second century): “In the time of Politarchs” and alludes to six of them. A marble building block including this inscription was removed from the gate in 1877. It can be viewed in the British Museum. That’s “hard evidence” (literally!): 

Quote:In 1960, Carl Schuler published a list of 32 inscriptions bearing the term politarchas. Approximately 19 out of the 32 came from Thessalonica, and at least three of them dated back to the first century.

Luke was not only a reliable historian, but a remarkably and extraordinarily accurate one. Therefore (and this is the underlying point), he can be trusted when he reports things about Jesus and Peter and Paul, too. We can’t go by one standard for secular matters and another for religious ones. Anyone who thinks Luke was merely a fanatical religious zealot who arbitrarily made up myths for the sake of the promulgation of Christianity is himself—ironically—engaging in myth-making. 

Luke notes that “Claudius had commanded all the Jews to leave Rome” (Acts 18:2). This event was attested to by Roman historian Suetonius in The Lives of the Twelve Caesars and Roman historian and Senator Cassius Dio in his Roman History

Luke again proves that he was recording actual history and real people in the right places and time periods when he refers to “Gallio,” who was “proconsul of Achaia” (Acts 18:12). Gallio (c. 5 B.C.–A.D. 65) was a Roman Senator and elder brother of the famous Stoic philosopher Seneca, who alludes to him, saying, “I remembered my master Gallio’s words, when he began to develop a fever in Achaia.” He is also described as “my friend and proconsul” by Roman emperor Claudius in the Delphi Inscription, dated around A.D. 52, confirming that he became proconsul of Achaia in July, A.D. 51. Thus, this is considered one of the most certain dates of Paul’s missionary travels or of any event of his life, since he appeared before Gallio (Acts 18:12–16).

Luke, when describing Paul’s missionary journeys, was acquainted with the prevailing practices in any given region. He mentions those in Ephesus “who practiced magic arts” (Acts 19:19). Ephesus was, in fact, so renowned for widespread sorcery and occultic practices that the description Ephesia grammata or “Ephesian writings” became synonymous with “magical texts.” Some papyri of these writings have been found. 

Luke mentions “asiarchs” who were friends of Paul in Ephesus (Acts 19:31), and “106 specific asiarchs have now been identified in Ephesus, within fifty years of the time of Paul.” 

“Town clerk” (grammateus), a term used by Luke with regard also to Ephesus (Acts 19:35), has been another object of attack, used to discredit the Bible and Luke’s trustworthiness. But it was corroborated over 120 years ago:

Quote:The title is preserved on various ancient coins. . . . It would appear that what may have been the original service of this class of men [was] to record the laws and decrees of the state and to read them in public. . . . They were authorized to preside over the popular assemblies and submit votes to them.

Luke describes one such town clerk as addressing the crowds and acting in a supervisory and administrative manner, eventually dismissing the assembly (Acts 19:35–41), which is in complete harmony with what we know about this office in this place and time. 

Luke in Acts 21:27–28 notes that “Jews from Asia” accused Paul of having “brought Greeks into the Temple,” which “defiled” it. This is true to history, too. Non-Jews could go no farther than the  Court of the Gentiles in Herod’s temple. There were warning signs that sought to prevent such occurrences. One such plaque was discovered in 1871 by French archaeologist Charles Clermont-Ganneau. It reads, “No foreigner is to enter within the railing and enclosure around the Temple. And whoever is caught will be responsible to himself for his subsequent death.” A second fragmented warning sign was found near the Old City of Jerusalem, close to the Lion’s Gate, in 1935. 

Luke’s knowledge extends to fine points of Roman law as well. (More specifically, we could say he was simply recording the apostle Paul, who possessed such knowledge.) Luke records Paul saying to a Roman centurion, “Is it lawful for you to scourge a man who is a Roman citizen, and uncondemned?” (Acts 22:25). Here, Paul was appealing to what is known as the Porcian laws, particularly Lex Porcia II (Lex de Porcia de tergo civium), possibly proposed by Cato the Elder, consul in 195 B.C. and 184 B.C. It extended the right to provocatio (appeal to the plebeian tribune) against flogging. 

Similarly, in Acts 22:28, Luke correctly verifies two ways to become a Roman citizen: by birth (Paul saying, “I was born a citizen”), as is well known, or—much more rarely and expensively, as he also notes—by purchasing it (the Roman tribune saying, “I bought this citizenship for a large sum”). 

Luke refers to the “high priest Ananias” (Acts 23:2, 24:1). Ananias and his rank are corroborated by Josephus: “But now Herod King of Chalcis removed Joseph, the son of Camydus, from the high priesthood and made Ananias, the son of Nebedus, his successor.” 

Luke notes that “Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was a Jewess” (Acts 24:24). Josephus verifies the office of Felix and his Jewish wife Drusilla: 

Quote:While Felix was procurator of Judea, he saw this Drusilla; and fell in love with her. . . . She . . . was prevailed upon to transgress the laws of her forefathers, and to marry Felix. 

Luke gets the successor of Felix correct, too—“Felix was succeeded by Porcius Festus” (Acts 24:27). Josephus again corroborates this: “Porcius Festus”—“the procurator”— “was sent as successor to Felix by Nero.” 

According to Luke’s account in Acts 25:11, Paul says during one of his trials, “I do not seek to escape death; but if there is nothing in their charges against me, no one can give me up to them. I appeal to Caesar.” This is true to Roman history and law: 

Quote:The right to appeal was re-affirmed by the promulgation in Augustus’s reign of the Lex Iulia de vi publica et privata. This law basically forbade an official holding the imperium to bind, torture, or kill a Roman citizen who had appealed to Rome.

Luke refers to “Agrippa the king” (Acts 25:13). King Agrippa II was accurately titled “king” as opposed to “tetrarch.” In A.D. 53, Agrippa was forced to give up the tetrarchy of Chalcis, but in exchange, Claudius made him ruler with the title of “king” over the territories previously governed by Philip. Josephus calls him “king” at least eighteen times in his writings. His name has also been found on Jewish coins of the time. Luke got it right again. 

In another instance of Luke’s uncanny knowledge of political titles, he reports that Procurator Festus referred to the infamous Roman emperor Nero as “my lord” (Acts 25:24–26). This was formerly thought to be a serious error. But it’s been shown that Roman emperors before and during Paul’s time were indeed called “lords.” One town in the Greek region of Boeatia, for example, called Nero “lord of the whole world.” 

The great Bible scholar F.F. Bruce commented upon the extraordinary accuracy of Luke’s use of the many different titles for officials: 

Quote:One of the most remarkable tokens of his accuracy is his sure familiarity with the proper titles of all the notable persons who are mentioned in his pages. . . . The accuracy of Luke’s use of the various titles in the Roman Empire has been compared to the ease and confident way in which an Oxford man in ordinary conversation will refer to the Heads of Oxford colleges by their proper titles—the Provost of Oriel, the Master of Balliol, the Rector of Exeter, the President of Magdalen, and so on. . . . But Luke had a further difficulty in that the titles sometimes did not remain the same for any great length of time; a province might pass from senatorial government to administration by a district representative of the emperor, and would then be governed no longer by a proconsul but by an imperial legate. 

Lastly, Luke mentions that prisoner Paul “was allowed to stay by himself” (Acts 28:16) and lived “two whole years at his own expense” (v. 30). This accurately reflects the widespread Roman practice of keeping less dangerous criminals under house arrest. 

Considerations such as the many recounted above—and, no doubt, many more—led the prominent German Lutheran historian and theologian Adolf von Harnack to conclude, 

Quote:Judged from almost every possible standpoint of historical criticism, it [the book of Acts] is a solid, respectable, and in many respects an extraordinary work.
[F]anatical atheists . . . can’t hear the music of the spheres. (Einstein, 8-7-41)
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#2

Luke's Minute & Extraordinary Historical Accuracy
Show me one thing outside of the buybull, that proves the buybull. All religious texts, are nonsense. Every. Single. One.
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#3

Luke's Minute & Extraordinary Historical Accuracy
(12-31-2023, 05:00 PM)no one Wrote: Show me one thing outside of the buybull, that proves the buybull. All religious texts, are nonsense. Every. Single. One.

I just did. Did you read the above? Everything is verified by non-biblical sources and hard evidence (archaeological artifacts, etc.).
[F]anatical atheists . . . can’t hear the music of the spheres. (Einstein, 8-7-41)
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#4

Luke's Minute & Extraordinary Historical Accuracy
Lets say, for the sake of the argument, that You/Luke are correct. So what?
R.I.P. Hannes
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#5

Luke's Minute & Extraordinary Historical Accuracy
TL/DR but got the gist.

Commingling timely places/actions/events with fictional stories is certainly not unique or validate everything in the story. Have you not been to the movies?
Being told you're delusional does not necessarily mean you're mental. 
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#6

Luke's Minute & Extraordinary Historical Accuracy
I’m going to assume you believe that the names later attached to the gospels and Acts were who wrote it. Secular scholarship shows that we don’t know who wrote any of them. They agree that whoever wrote “Luke” also wrote Acts but the original authors are unknown. We aren’t even sure of the exact dates they were written.

“Luke” was obviously a follower of Jesus and wrote in Greek…something none of the apostles were capable of doing according to analysis of Jews in Jesus’ time. “Luke” was writing about the history he knew (I don’t dispute that) but was most likely depending on oral traditions he learned from other followers and oral history has been studied more extensively lately and shown to be the least dependable.

I accept that you follow the church’s teachings but don’t expect us to accept an extremely biased account of Jesus’ story. I’m sure you’ve read the secular experts and I understand that you likely disagree with them. It goes both ways.

My personal opinion is that any accurate history in the Bible does nothing to show any truth about Jesus. I’m willing to accept Jesus existed…and some here will not…but, historically, we know little about him.
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#7

Luke's Minute & Extraordinary Historical Accuracy
None of the above is evidence for the supernatural.
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#8

Luke's Minute & Extraordinary Historical Accuracy
(12-31-2023, 06:14 PM)Deesse23 Wrote: Lets say, for the sake of the argument, that You/Luke are correct. So what?

Then it would disprove "no one" 's claim, "All religious texts, are nonsense. Every. Single. One." A religious text that is verifiably historically accurate is not nonsense and not "mythology": just as a line in a history book that is verifiably accurate is not nonsense and not mythology.
[F]anatical atheists . . . can’t hear the music of the spheres. (Einstein, 8-7-41)
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#9

Luke's Minute & Extraordinary Historical Accuracy
(12-31-2023, 07:01 PM)SeaPigeon Wrote: None of the above is evidence for the supernatural.

I didn't claim that it was. I presented it as evidence for why we Christians "believe that the Bible is credible and not 'nonsense'."
[F]anatical atheists . . . can’t hear the music of the spheres. (Einstein, 8-7-41)
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#10

Luke's Minute & Extraordinary Historical Accuracy
My personal opinion is that any accurate history in the Bible does nothing to show any truth about Jesus. 

Okay; please tell me then: what would serve as a means to show historical truth about Jesus, if not a person in the same general time period (much of history is written after the fact) who is proven to be accurate in reporting facts and therefore trustworthy as a functioning historian? If that is insufficient, what is sufficient to show the truth about Jesus?
[F]anatical atheists . . . can’t hear the music of the spheres. (Einstein, 8-7-41)
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#11

Luke's Minute & Extraordinary Historical Accuracy
[Image: quote-it-is-a-tale-told-by-an-idiot-full...-73-44.jpg]
Mountain-high though the difficulties appear, terrible and gloomy though all things seem, they are but Mâyâ.
Fear not — it is banished. Crush it, and it vanishes. Stamp upon it, and it dies.


Vivekananda
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#12

Luke's Minute & Extraordinary Historical Accuracy
(12-31-2023, 06:18 PM)brewerb Wrote: Commingling timely places/actions/events with fictional stories is certainly not unique or validate everything in the story. 

Do you agree that what I have presented validates the author's accuracy in those particular matters?
[F]anatical atheists . . . can’t hear the music of the spheres. (Einstein, 8-7-41)
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#13

Luke's Minute & Extraordinary Historical Accuracy
(12-31-2023, 07:57 PM)Dave Armstrong Wrote:
(12-31-2023, 07:01 PM)SeaPigeon Wrote: None of the above is evidence for the supernatural.

I didn't claim that it was. I presented it as evidence for why we Christians "believe that the Bible is credible and not 'nonsense'."

I believe that the author of 'The Prisoner of Azkaban' accurately described suburban lifestyles and the city of London.
I don't believe that there is a secret world of wizards as described by the same author in the same book.
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#14

Luke's Minute & Extraordinary Historical Accuracy
(12-31-2023, 08:21 PM)SeaPigeon Wrote: I believe that the author of 'The Prisoner of Azkaban' accurately described suburban lifestyles and the city of London.
I don't believe that there is a secret world of wizards as described by the same author in the same book.

Once again, this post of mine had nothing to do with supernatural claims. Do you reject the science of archaeology as a means of verifying the historical accuracy of NT and OT texts (which is what my post was about)? If so, your primary problem -- in terms of the question at hand -- is with science, not the Bible.

Secondly, Harry Potter books -- which my kids love -- are understood by their readers to be fiction and fantasy, going in. The Book of Acts purports to be actual history, and so it is, or can be objectively verified in the same way that any other reported history is verified: by hard evidence of archaeology and corroboration of secular historians (often Josephus for Acts and also Roman historians), other forms of science, etc.
[F]anatical atheists . . . can’t hear the music of the spheres. (Einstein, 8-7-41)
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#15

Luke's Minute & Extraordinary Historical Accuracy
(12-31-2023, 07:55 PM)Dave Armstrong Wrote:
(12-31-2023, 06:14 PM)Deesse23 Wrote: Lets say, for the sake of the argument, that You/Luke are correct. So what?

Then it would disprove "no one" 's claim, "All religious texts, are nonsense. Every. Single. One." A religious text that is verifiably historically accurate is not nonsense and not "mythology": just as a line in a history book that is verifiably accurate is not nonsense and not mythology.
Nonsense

The Bible still can be 99.9% nonsense
R.I.P. Hannes
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#16

Luke's Minute & Extraordinary Historical Accuracy
Your boy "Luke" also invented the world-wide census of Augustus which is total fucking horseshit, son.
Robert G. Ingersoll : “No man with a sense of humor ever founded a religion.”
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#17

Luke's Minute & Extraordinary Historical Accuracy
(12-31-2023, 09:08 PM)Deesse23 Wrote: The Bible still can be 99.9% nonsense

Progress! So you agree that it is 0.1% non-nonsense. That makes my day!
[F]anatical atheists . . . can’t hear the music of the spheres. (Einstein, 8-7-41)
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#18

Luke's Minute & Extraordinary Historical Accuracy
(12-31-2023, 08:05 PM)Dave Armstrong Wrote:
(12-31-2023, 06:18 PM)brewerb Wrote: Commingling timely places/actions/events with fictional stories is certainly not unique or validate everything in the story. 

Do you agree that what I have presented validates the author's accuracy in those particular matters?

No, no one knows who the author was.
“Religion is excellent stuff for keeping common people quiet. 
Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich.”
― Napoleon Bonaparte
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#19

Luke's Minute & Extraordinary Historical Accuracy
(12-31-2023, 08:01 PM)Dave Armstrong Wrote: My personal opinion is that any accurate history in the Bible does nothing to show any truth about Jesus. 

Okay; please tell me then: what would serve as a means to show historical truth about Jesus, if not a person in the same general time period (much of history is written after the fact) who is proven to be accurate in reporting facts and therefore trustworthy as a functioning historian? If that is insufficient, what is sufficient to show the truth about Jesus?

I would need some evidence outside the Bible….and no, Josephus isn’t evidence…it was tampered with by Christians.  Had Philo mentioned him, that would have been great.  Had any other historians of the era mentioned him, that, too, would have been great.  Jesus was either a big deal and influenced a lot of people (and thus, should have been mentioned) or…he was a nobody that had stories grow about him over time….which makes him questionable.
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#20

Luke's Minute & Extraordinary Historical Accuracy
(12-31-2023, 08:05 PM)Dave Armstrong Wrote:
(12-31-2023, 06:18 PM)brewerb Wrote: Commingling timely places/actions/events with fictional stories is certainly not unique or validate everything in the story. 

Do you agree that what I have presented validates the author's accuracy in those particular matters?

I see you left out the TL/DR (too long/didn't read) from your reply.

Short answer is nope. I won't take the time and/or don't have the inclination to read what is in essence preaching.

BTW, I doubt that Luke was the author, as do many historical scholars.
Being told you're delusional does not necessarily mean you're mental. 
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#21

Luke's Minute & Extraordinary Historical Accuracy
(12-31-2023, 11:19 PM)Chas Wrote:
(12-31-2023, 08:05 PM)Dave Armstrong Wrote: Do you agree that what I have presented validates the author's accuracy in those particular matters?

No, no one knows who the author was.

That's irrelevant. We're not sure who Homer was; it doesn't follow that we can't refer to this person who is known by that name. I asked you a question and you attempted to evade it with irrelevancy. That doesn't work with me.
[F]anatical atheists . . . can’t hear the music of the spheres. (Einstein, 8-7-41)
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#22

Luke's Minute & Extraordinary Historical Accuracy
(12-31-2023, 11:31 PM)brewerb Wrote:
(12-31-2023, 08:05 PM)Dave Armstrong Wrote: Do you agree that what I have presented validates the author's accuracy in those particular matters?

I won't take the time and/or don't have the inclination to read what is in essence preaching.

BTW, I doubt that Luke was the author, as do many historical scholars.

1. It's not preaching. It's not strictly "religious" at all. It was a sustained defense of a piece of literature against the charge that it is inaccurate, by means of science and historiography. If you won't read it, it's simply because you have a closed mind. Don't try to blame your closed mind on me. It's not my fault. Atheists always want Christians to reason through things. Here I am doing that, but you won't read it? Why comment at all on it then? Just ignore it. You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink . . . 

2. Neither my piece nor my question above requires it to necessarily be Luke. An author can be shown to be trustworthy whether he is anonymous or not. Say, for the sake of argument that Acts was written by 14 writers. When I provide examples and show the historical accuracy, it matters not a whit who the authors were, or who a single author was. That has no bearing on questions of accuracy and trustworthiness. All we need to know is that there is this entity called "Acts" (everyone here knows what it is) which can be scrutinized, just as with any other purportedly historical account, and that it: as far as we have examined it, is accurate. I say "Luke" because that's what I believe, but my argument doesn't in the least stand or fall on him being the author.
[F]anatical atheists . . . can’t hear the music of the spheres. (Einstein, 8-7-41)
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#23

Luke's Minute & Extraordinary Historical Accuracy
(12-31-2023, 11:53 PM)Dave Armstrong Wrote:
(12-31-2023, 11:31 PM)brewerb Wrote: I won't take the time and/or don't have the inclination to read what is in essence preaching.

BTW, I doubt that Luke was the author, as do many historical scholars.

1. It's not preaching. It's not strictly "religious" at all. It was a sustained defense of a piece of literature against the charge that it is inaccurate, by means of science and historiography. If you won't read it, it's simply because you have a closed mind. Don't try to blame your closed mind on me. It's not my fault. Atheists always want Christians to reason through things. Here I am doing that, but you won't read it? Why comment at all on it then? Just ignore it. You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink . . . 

2. Neither my piece nor my question above requires it to necessarily be Luke. An author can be shown to be trustworthy whether he is anonymous or not. Say, for the sake of argument that Acts was written by 14 writers. When I provide examples and show the historical accuracy, it matters not a whit who the authors were, or who a single author was. That has no bearing on questions of accuracy and trustworthiness. All we need to know is that there is this entity called "Acts" (everyone here knows what it is) which can be scrutinized, just as with any other purportedly historical account, and that it: as far as we have examined it, is accurate. I say "Luke" because that's what I believe, but my argument doesn't in the least stand or fall on him being the author.

You're trying to justify Luke, to me that's preaching, christian/biblical blather. You pick and choose what you want to defend and don't defend the book in it's entirety because you can't. Historical accuracy (trustworthiness?) counts for very little (as I pointed out earlier) considering all of the fantastical claims made in 'Luke' which you don't address. My mind is closed because no christian seems to understand that you can't argue god (this includes the half/half, and trinity) into existence.

If you'd like to provide some concrete evidence for god(s) existence, (not abstractions, argument, debate, testimony, story, assertions..........) I'd be more than willing to give it the attention it would deserve. To date I've never seen any.

I don't care what you believe (I'm atheist not anti-theist, do what floats your boat) but I do wonder why, in an atheist forum, you're seeking for validation of your belief. It certainly makes me question your motives.

Again I note that you're emotional because I won't play the way that you want me to.

Finally, you might want to use 'authors' when discussing Luke.
Being told you're delusional does not necessarily mean you're mental. 
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#24

Luke's Minute & Extraordinary Historical Accuracy
(12-31-2023, 08:01 PM)Dave Armstrong Wrote: Okay; please tell me then: what would serve as a means to show historical truth about Jesus...
If you had a contemporary source for the character of Jesus; that it might be a good start. I'm willing to wager everything I own V.S. 1 dollar that you do not have one; because that would just be a free dollar in my pocket!

I explain this lack of a contemporary source by suggesting that the modern idea/version of Jesus didn't exist during the period in question (this would explain the lack of a contemporary source). How do you explain this lack of a primary source for Jesus?
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#25

Luke's Minute & Extraordinary Historical Accuracy
(12-31-2023, 07:55 PM)Dave Armstrong Wrote: Then it would disprove "no one" 's claim, "All religious texts, are nonsense. Every. Single. One." A religious text that is verifiably historically accurate is not nonsense and not "mythology": just as a line in a history book that is verifiably accurate is not nonsense and not mythology.

Every single mundane historical detail in a scripture can be correct.  The moment something supernatural gets added, it doesn't invalidate any correct history but it casts serious doubts on the authors' intentions.  Silly things such as resurrections or the sun standing still in the sky are not validated by placing them in a "container" of valid history.
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