James McGrath, Syllogisms, and Logical Analysis

I would like to thank James for working up a general syllogism of his position; he didn’t have to do it, but he has done so anyway (humoring me, most likely!).  I sent him a note earlier today that I would blog his syllogism along with my formal analysis.  At this point I would like to stress that I am not arguing from a mythicist position (since the subject of the syllogism is actually not about the historicity of the figure of Jesus at all, but rests entirely with the status of certain messianic expectations in the Second Temple Period).  I am arguing that more stringent methods are required than those that have been used lately in the ongoing discussions via biblioblog.

Using formal logic (which, for some reason or another, many modern historians fear), when used to test the validity of any claim which is made, can only strengthen an excellent position or, conversely, severely prove its limitations.  On the latter, it is important to discover these limitations prior to making an argument, so the claim can be revised to accurately reflect the correct status of the evidence and interpretative data.  The process is ridiculously simple to do and it will force conclusions to be more honest, will prevent historians from drawing wrong conclusions from the evidence, and will allow for a better standard towards developing a basic sense of probability which will hold up under scrutiny.  In this day and age, where information (much of it useless and inaccurate) is more easily attainable, where everyone claims authority, it is even more integral and responsible for historians to incorporate these methods into their works.

Using Bayes Theorem is still the best means, mathematically that is, for coming to a specific percentage of probability.  In far too many instances, however, the use of ‘persuasive’ (a subjective term indeed) has been replacing the term ‘probable’ and I am not so sure that works well, being that historians are supposed to be the guardians of societal memory.  In a sense, when one commits the possibiliter ergo probabiliter fallacy, they distort the state of the evidence; often this is done without recognition.  Using something as simple as a syllogism will give more meat to a position, assuming it is in line with the evidence.  Thus, if a position is accurate (and one cannot know until they test it), then having a syllogism around will help provide the rigor for it to show.

I would expect my own conclusions to be challenged similarly; in fact, it is because of using this method I have become more agnostic about the historicity of the figure of Jesus and about what we can and cannot know about the past.

With that said, here is James’ syllogism containing his central conclusion:

Major premise: Jews who wrote about the expectation that God would raise up a descendant of David to restore the kingship expect that figure to be victorious over foreign powers.

Minor premise: Jewish Christians tried to persuade other Jews that Jesus was the Messiah.

Conclusion: It is unlikely that Jewish Christians would have simply invented a story about Jesus’ crucifixion, since it would make it harder to persuade other Jews that Jesus was the awaited Davidic Messiah.

It is perhaps pertinent to recognize that James admits that he has met some challenges with the use of formal logic.  I bring that up because all three of these (the major and minor premises and the conclusion) don’t necessary follow one another coherently.  This is an easy thing to correct however, and this is precisely why I have asked James to present a syllogism; he might not even be aware that one does not logically follow the other, and having it written out might help expose the need for a better, more soundly constructed claim.  Logic is a valuable tool in historiography and allows the historian to analyze and test his own conclusions before making any claims.  The quantitative value of these tests are demonstrable (i.e., they can be replicated and examined by anyone in the field) and can be used behind the scenes, far away from any monograph or paper in which the arguments will appear (these can be done on scrap paper, then written up as an argument using whatever fluffy or rhetorical language with which the author wishes to juice up the results).

When examining James’ conclusions, first a historian would examine what would need to be true in order for the major and minor premise to be accurate (if these are accurate, the conclusion would logically follow).  Since there is a difference between a valid syllogism (i.e. one that logically follows) versus one that is accurate and sound according to the evidence (simply because a syllogism is valid doesn’t mean it is supported by evidence), a syllogism must be examined in light of the evidence available.  But first one must determine if the syllogism is even valid.

An example of an invalid syllogism:

Major Premise: Other planets exist with possible alien life

Minor Premise: UFOs come from other planets which are technologically superior to humans

Conclusion: Therefore aliens built the pyramids

An example of a syllogism which is valid, but based on no demonstrable evidence:

Major Premise: The Mayans believed that the world would end in 2012.

Minor Premise: Whatever the Mayans believed regarding the end of the world is true.

Conclusion: The world will end in 2012.

A syllogism which is both valid and sound:

Major Premise: Caesar’s position in relation to the Rubicon changed from being on the Northern side to being on the Southern side in one of the following ways: (1) He crossed the Rubicon, (b) He went around the Rubicon, (c) A Supernatural manner, (d) He tunneled under it.

Minor Premise: His position in relation to the Rubicon was not due to any of (b)-(g)

Conclusion: Therefore, his position in relation to the Rubicon was due to (a) He crossed the Rubicon.

But since there is such a disconnect between the premises and the conclusion of James’ syllogism, additional testing will have to be done to determine the validity of the conclusion itself (see further on) as well as if it is sound.  All of this can be done by creating additional syllogisms (called nesting) by which the premises are broken down as individual claims.  First the minor premise (if this holds, being the weakest premise of the two, the stronger claim would have a greater chance of being a probability):

 

Testing the Hypothesis: The Minor Premise (A1) and (A2) (there is a subpremise here that won’t be tackled here because of its irrelevancy—that Jewish Christians sought to persuade others, that they had a mission or commission to convert) These would have to be sound in order for the Minor Premise to be sound.

Major Premise (A1): All Jewish Christians believed in a Davidic messiah

Minor Premise (A1): The messianic figure of Jewish Christianity is Jesus

Conclusion (A1) (Minor Premise): (All) Jewish Christians believed in that Jesus was that Messiah.

The evidence:

The Minor Premise (hereby substituted with ‘Mn’) (A1) is not at all a sound statement since we don’t have any evidence from the period prior to Paul, and since we lack evidence we cannot say with any level of probability (higher than 50%) that Major Premise (‘Ma’) (a1) is true.  Since even Paul says little about the Jerusalem pillars, and since Paul’s identity prior to writing his letters is difficult to establish.  At best, we can say he was a Hellenized Jew, but his strong focus on a Gentile audience (which his letters address) might lead us to suggest he was more assimilated into gentile culture than a Jewish one.  Further, we must recognize that in Paul’s letter, there is a strong dislike of the Jewish-Christianity James is talking about; the distaste Paul has for the Pharisees, his disagreements with those he met with in Jerusalem, also implicate the concept of unity is a frail one indeed.  It might be said that we have no account of a unified early Christianity.  So it is very possible that not all Jewish Christians were unified in their eschatological expectations of a Davidic messianic figure.

Luke, as well, was probably a Gentile Christian, who might have sought to bring Paul into line with what he felt were Jewish-Christian principles (i.e., those reflected in the pastorals), but being that Luke wrote late (with a terminus ad quem as late as the middle of the second century CE—whether James agrees with it or not, it is still a sound terminus ad quem) it is impossible to say with any certainty (again, we lack a probabilistic number greater than 50%) that he had knowledge of a pre-Pauline Jewish-Christian tradition with which all early Jewish Christians were unified in their belief about Jesus being a Davidic messiah.  If anything, the only thing Luke proves is that Luke might have belonged to a sect of Christianity in antiquity which believed Jesus was a Davidic messiah (which, actually, doesn’t say much…see below).  Of course, he might have fashioned Jesus into a certain Davidic messianic figure which best fit his own, rather than his community’s, perspectives about a Davidic messiah.

In any event, the evidence is inconclusive and therefore the conclusion of this syllogism is unsound.   This does not bode well for the Minor Premise, but we should consider the other syllogism which makes up the whole of this part of James’ syllogism:

 

Major Premise (A2): Early Jews and Christians held beliefs in many different messianic figure archetypes (Davidic messiah, Priestly messiah, a messiah who would Judge, etc…)

Minor Premise (A2): All these messianic expectations were unified and the same within the confines of the individual messianic archetypes (i.e. all sects of Jews and Christians who held the belief in a Priestly messiah had the same expectations, all sects who held the belief in a messianic judge were the same, etc…)

Conclusion (A2) (Needed to Validate Minor Premise): All Christian messianic expectations about the Davidic archetype were the same.

The evidence:

This is not at all realistic.  It is a well-known fact that Davidic messianism was as divisive and interpretative as any other form of messianism in antiquity so Ma(A2) is dubious.  But looking at the evidence actually hammers in the final nails on this particular syllogism.  For example, the Davidic messianism of the author of 4 Ezra is completely different, as far as expectations go, from what the author(s) of Psalm 17 had written.  This alone proves diversity in belief and, again, we lack additional evidence contrary, so it is impossible to say with certainty just how diverse these Davidic messianic expectations were; but it is regarded as a fact that there had been no unity beyond a figure that descended from David (which is where this sort of messianism gets its name).  There is no such thing as a unified Davidic messianism and each sect which attributed to this messianism had its own theological and eschatological perspectives and expectations.  There is no evidence, whatsoever, that every Davidic messianic group expected a messiah who would be king and save Israel from an enemy or tyrant—this apologetic generalization is a fringe position in certain circles of New Testament, but not held by the majority of the experts on Second Temple Period Judaism (i.e., nearly every study done on this subject in the past three decades agrees that Davidic messianism was anything but uniform).  So we can safely and soundly say that this conclusion is also bunk.

[Notes (not comprehensive):  D. Juel, ‘Messiah’, in D.N. Freedman, et al, eds., Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2000), 889-890; M.E. Stone, ‘The Question of the Messiah in 4 Ezra’ in J. Neusner, et al, eds., Judaisms and Their Messiahs at the Turn of the Christian Era (Cambridge: CUP, 1987), 209-224; R.A. Horsley, ‘”Messianic” Figures and Movements in First-Century Palestine’ in J.H. Charlesworth, ed., The Messiah: Developments in Earliest Judaism and Christianity (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1992), 276-295.]

So a revised syllogism, made to reflect the evidence, would look like this (with the conclusion here acting as a new Minor Premise for James’ syllogism)…

Major Premise (Rev): It is possible that some early Jewish Christians had specific eschatological expectations about Davidic messianism which meet James’ said expectations.

Minor Premise (Rev): It is probable they held different messianic perspectives than other Christian sects and, as such, had different eschatological expectations.

Conclusion (Rev, New Mn Premise): Therefore it is possible that these specific Jewish Christians formed a sect of Christianity which held the belief in a Davidic messianic figure that matches James’ said expectations and they tried to persuade other Jews and Christians that Jesus met those Messianic expectations.

As one can see, the language and terminology greatly changes the conclusion; the certainty and authority of the Mn Premise made by James cannot be met in accordance with the evidence.  In fact, they might only be met in the sense of a special plea, whereby the syllogism would be sound only if certain conditions were already in place and things were to have happened specifically which were, if anything, the exceptions to the rule of the evidence, rather than being a part of it.  Now, we move onward to the Ma Premise.

 

Testing the Hypothesis: The Major Premise

Major Premise (B): There is no diversity in belief concerning the expectations of a Davidic messianic figure in either Judaism or Christianity in antiquity

Minor Premise (B): All evidence with regards to Davidic messianism points to a unified understanding and expectations

Conclusion (B) (Major Premise): Jews who wrote about the expectation that God would raise up a descendant of David to restore the kingship expect that figure to be victorious over foreign powers

The evidence:

This is really based upon the same subpremise as the Mn Premise discussed above.  This is an overgeneralization of Davidic messianism and we already know that there were no dogmatic or uniformed expectations in Davidic messianism (notes listed above).  James would have to provide evidence that Jews who wrote about this particular Davidic messianism had these specific, and only these specific, eschatological and messianic expectations.  Otherwise he cannot make a probabilistic claim; he can only make a possible claim—that is, anything is possible within the realms of the natural laws; so it is possible that a particular sect of Jews who wrote about the expectations (both messianic and eschatological) fell into this category, but we do not have any evidence of this sect, so of probability we can say nothing.

However we can say, since some writings do attest to these expectations, that it is probable to a high degree of certainty that some Jews felt this way and wrote about this Davidic messianic figure.  Beyond that, we must remain cautious about our claims (we cannot be 100% certain since we shouldn’t presume to know the minds of what are mostly anonymous and pseudonymous authors).

Here is the revised syllogism to reflect the new Ma Premise in James’ argument:

Major Premise (Rev): It is probable that some Jews believed in this sort of Davidic messiah which fit these qualifications (listed in James’ original Ma Premise)

Minor Premise (Rev): It is probable that some of these Jews, who held this messianic belief, had the ability to read and write (i.e., they were literate)

Conclusion (Rev, New Ma Premise): Therefore it is probable that some Jews wrote about the expectation that God would raise up a descendant of David to restore the kingship expect that figure to be victorious over foreign powers

Now we should examine the conclusion before returning to discuss these results…

 

Testing the Hypothesis: The Conclusion

James’ conclusion is thus: It is unlikely that Jewish Christians would have simply invented a story about Jesus’ crucifixion, since it would make it harder to persuade other Jews that Jesus was the awaited Davidic Messiah.

Yet this conclusion is actually two separate syllogisms (or, rather, the historian would need two separate syllogisms to prove the veracity of the conclusion—none of these two relate to the Mn and Ma Premises in James’ syllogism), which would look like this:

Major Premise (1): Humiliated figures were never followed in antiquity

Minor Premise (1): No textual evidence exists that a humiliated messiah was expected by Jews

Conclusion (1): Therefore no one (nor any Jew) would be expecting a humiliated messiah

The evidence:

The Mn (1) Premise is clearly false; there is even a Biblical example in Daniel 9:25-26 (and Jews in certain circles used Psalm 50-53).  James might argue that this does not refer to a messianic figure, but Geza Vermes, in his analysis of 4Q471b, 4Q491, and 4Q541 argues, in fact, that it does (in disagreeing with the arguments for a likely suffering messiah portrayal in 4Q285, placing emphasis on the priestly messiah instead of the kingly one). One only need read 11Q13 (Melch) 2:18-20; the author is interpreting Isaiah via Daniel 9, discussing its messianic value (this is a mid-first century BCE document) which proves that some Jews were expecting a humiliated messianic figure (the Qumran community, in fact, had been expecting two messianic figures—one was to be humiliated).

As for the Ma (1) Premise, that is also a false statement.  Since we know people followed all sorts of cultic figureheads (both fictional and historical) who not only were thought to be humiliated (castration or other genital mutilation, like with the cult of Cybele and Attis), but tortured (those who worshipped Perseus), or who were slain unfairly by undead/demonic forces (the cult of Tammuz—and later adopted by the Jews per Ezek. 8:14); people believed in (and at times still believe in) silly things.  Richard Carrier aptly points out that the Argument for Embarrassment is a feckless argument without any logical consistency (and zero historical credibility).  Here below is a segment of his testing of this same logical thought replacing ‘messiah’ with ‘Attis’:

Major Premise a: Cybeleans would not invent anything that would embarrass them.

Minor Premise a: The castration of Attis would embarrass Cybeleans.

Conclusion a: Therefore, Cybeleans did not invent the castration of Attis.

Test:

Major Premise b: A report is either invented or it is true.

Minor Premise b (= Conclusion 1): The castration of Attis was not invented.

Conclusion b: Therefore, the castration of Attis is true.

Carrier writes (p. 13):

“This is obviously not a credible conclusion. We have no good reason to believe there was ever an actual Attis who was castrated and it is commonly assumed the story was invented for some particular symbolic reason. The same, then, could be true of the crucifixion of Jesus. Tacitus reports that the castration of Attis was indeed embarrassing (it is grounds for his disgust at the religion), yet the castration of Attis is not a credible story, therefore the criterion of embarrassment is in some manner fallacious. An example within the Christian tradition is the astonishing stupidity of the Disciples, especially in the earliest Gospel of Mark. Their depiction is in fact so unrealistic it isn’t credible (real people don’t act like that), which means Mark (or his sources) invented that detail despite its potential embarrassment. Hence the flaw in the criterion of embarrassment is in assuming that historical truth is the only factor that can overcome the potential embarrassment of some reported detail, when in fact moral or doctrinal or symbolic truth can also override such concerns.”

As one can see, the conclusion, therefore, does not fit within the evidence, nor does it follow logically.  On to the next…

 

Major Premise (2): Jews were expecting a triumphant Davidic messiah

Minor Premise (2): There are Davidic references in early Christian literature relating to Jesus

Conclusion (2): Jewish Christians saw Jesus as a triumphal Davidic messianic figure

The evidence:

I wouldn’t want to hash this out again, but the Ma (2) is difficult to define.  Particularly because it is nearly impossible for us to narrow down what it meant for all Jewish sects in antiquity (as expressed thoroughly above).  We have to remember that Christians were once Jews, and if Jews were converted they were converted from multiple sects which existed (and we have a list of at least 30 known Jewish sects with varying doctrines and different perspectives on ‘messiah’—and those are only the ones about which we know!) at the time of Paul and before.  Paul, as well, was converted to Christianity from a sect of Judaism which I do not believe we know anything about.  We assume he was a Pharisee because he says he persecuted Christians and the Gospels portray the Pharisees as persecutors—but we needn’t assume that those discussed in the Gospels reflected Paul’s sect of origin preconversion.  Rather, we must come to grips with the reality of the situation, that is to say, we might never know from whence Paul came and from which sect he deconverted.  However, we can say that Paul certainly felt Jesus was a Davidic figure; perhaps messianic, and we are right to presume this.  Beyond that, however, as with the situation above, there is nothing more that can be said.

Major Premise (Rev2): Some Jews were expecting a triumphant Davidic messiah

Minor Premise (Rev2): There are Davidic references in early Christian literature relating to Jesus

Minor Premise (Rev2[a]): In what way that messianic figure would be triumphant (i.e. the eschatological expectations) was defined from sect to sect

Conclusion (Rev2): Some Jewish Christians saw Jesus as a Davidic messianic figure, and it is probable they saw him as a triumphant figure, though not likely the same as other Jewish sects would have expected.

Results:

When we compile all of this data—and it must be remembered that this is neither comprehensive in terms of the available studies on the subject nor does it incorporate all the available testing options that could be done with this syllogism—what we find is that the language we use has a huge impact on the stability and veracity, that is the soundness, of the conclusion.  Below I have listed a revised syllogism based upon the available evidence.  It is not a completely valid syllogism primarily because James’ syllogism wasn’t valid to begin with and much of the discussion here rested on breaking down the invalid syllogism into multiple, more valid ones.  When that was completed, the syllogisms, while valid, were not sound based upon the available data.  We must grant the possibility that James will need to revise his syllogism and the one below is merely a suggestion based upon the evidence.  When and if James decides to create a new syllogism more in line with the data, it will need to be revisited at that point.  Pay close attention to the language below; possible means a 49% or lower variable while probable would signify above a 50% variable.  A 50% variable specifically would indicate agnosticism.

Revised Hypothesis: (Within the Current Limitations of the Evidence)

Major Premise (Rev): It is probable that some Jews wrote about the expectation that God would raise up a descendant of David to restore the kingship expect that figure to be victorious over foreign powers

Major Premise (Rev1): Some Jewish Christians saw Jesus as a Davidic messianic figure, and it is probable they saw him as a triumphant figure, though not likely the same as other Jewish sects would have expected.

Minor Premise (Rev): It is possible that these specific Jewish Christians formed a sect of Christianity which held the belief in a Davidic messianic figure that matches James’ said expectations and they tried to persuade other Jews and Christians that Jesus met those Messianic expectations.

Minor Premise (Rev1): Some Jewish Christians, as well as some Jews, might have expected a humiliated messianic figure.

Conclusion (Rev): It is probable that Jewish Christians embraced a humiliated messianic figure and it is probable, as they all reference the resurrection, that they willingly sought to use the resurrection as a means to convert other Jews and Gentiles

Conclusion (Rev1): It is possible that some Christians were embarrassed by the crucifixion and it is possible that they avoided the subject because of its embarrassment; though we do not possess any evidence of this from our current sources.

 

We must accept that there is a strong level of uncertainty with the evidence we have.  This is precisely why we must resort to an agnostic position until the details can be sorted and analyzed accordingly.  At the end of this analysis I found James’ syllogism (and the perspective behind it) interesting and I can see why, on the surface, it seems logically sound.  But the problem is not with the possibility of the conclusion, it rests entirely with the insistence that it is a probability.  That sort of claim is an overstatement of the available data and simply should not be made presently.  It might be that James can present evidence, and a syllogism, by which the conclusion is, in fact, a probability.  But as it is represented in the one at the beginning of this post, that conclusion is far from probable and even less a certainty.  So I eagerly await James’ revised syllogism which presents a sound conclusion in light of the available evidence.

 

 

41 Responses

  1. I look forward to McGrath’s response as well.

  2. It seems to me that some of the restatements you offer, if perhaps they work better logically, do not incorporate the essential points. Two in particular:

    (1) No diversity in Davidic Messianism: This was not my claim. My claim was that there is a unifying thread to this strand of Jewish Messianism in pre-70 Judaism. It is the expectation that God will restore the kingship to (someone believed to be) an heir of David. Pointing out diversity does not mean that there was no unity. This is not an issue unique to this particular discussion – there are some who prefer to speak about “Judaisms”, for instance – but that simply emphasizes the diversity but doesn’t address whether there were things that individuals across the divisions would have accepted as uniting them.

    (2) Humiliated figures weren’t followed. Again, this seem too broad to be relevant, much less defensible. Perhaps “People do not as a rule claim that an executed person is the rightful king” would be better, from which one could argue that it is unlikely that someone would invent an executed king not merely as a component in a story but as an individual to whom they called others to allegiance.

    Your statement “Minor Premise (Rev1): Some Jewish Christians, as well as some Jews, might have expected a humiliated messianic figure” seems to me to need rewording in terms of Davidic messianism, and even though not impossible if so restated, merely represent a possibility for which there is no extant evidence. As I said in a previous comment, bringing in Attis (or Tammuz) seems unhelpful both because of the differences in the sorts of figures and because of the likely differences in time frame between the emergence of the belief and our earliest record of it.

    But I appreciate your effort to restate my point and offer extended discussion of it. Your conclusion suggests that perhaps the crucial issue isn’t the logic of the point so much as the language of “probability.” What other terminology do you think might be more appropriate, and what sort of historical conclusions might one be able to draw in a case like this even as stated, once appropriate qualifiers and disclaimers using such terminology have been added?

  3. “People do not as a rule claim that an executed person is the rightful king”

    Charles I of England would never have become a saint were this statement accurate.

  4. Again, I cannot devote much time to this discussion at the moment, but I believe the fault with James’ statement is how he defines ‘rightful king’ and ‘messiah’. For instance, if he defines ‘rightful king’ as an earthly figure who rules over Jerusalem and Palestine and a new Israel, then he can’t be talking about Jesus in any sense. His point is then valid only when it pertains to certain sects of Jews–not all of them. And we have no record of any Jewish Christian material which portrays Jesus as an earthly ruler of this sort; all of them portray him as a heavenly ruler.

    Also, I find it hard to believe that this would be a difficult transition for Jews, and had it been we should expect to find some pointers for the churches throughout the ancient world from Paul or one of the pseudoPauline epistles or the various pastorals. So while it is likely that such a perspective was prevalent in antiquity, that we have no mention of it makes it less than probable that such a perspective was relevant. If it does turn out to be an irrelevancy, then James needs to concede that it is likely that such a perspective was common enough that it would have been easy to convince others that Jesus was the messiah and was crucified and was a heavenly ruler.

    Additionally, I aptly demonstrated in my article above that different sects defined the messiah differently which also means they had differing eschatological perspectives–including what it meant to be ‘triumphal’, what it meant to be a ‘rightful king’. We can in fact point to specific instances where Jewish sects were not only expecting a humiliated messianic figure but they were expecting that figure to rule as king in the world after (which Paul calls the ‘Jerusalem above’) rather than the world at present. There are sects who believed they could create a kingship by attempting to rebel against Rome as some had done against the Greeks during the Hasmonean period. But it depends on which sect you’re talking about–it cannot, as James attempts to do here, be done across the board.

    This is why we need to use our language carefully. Making such absolute statements such as “as a rule” is erroneous in this instance as it can be easily demonstrated that it depends solely on the sect under discussion. In this instance, ALL Christian evidence points to the belief that Jesus was indeed crucified (where, and by whom, is in dispute) and yet was still hailed as the messiah and king of the Jerusalem above. So clearly James’ claim defies the evidence, so his statement needs to be adjusted to reflect the data. I will go into this in more detail later.

    (Edited for clarity, 12:23 PM EST)

  5. Thanks for your comments, Tom. I wonder whether there isn’t a difficulty in arguing that, since Christians held a view, therefore it was possible for people to hold that view, and therefore it cannot have been embarrassing or a stumbling block. To put it another way, should we not survey earlier literature and, if it seems that a particular set of beliefs is unlikely to simply have been made up in that particular context, explain those beliefs in terms of dealing with cognitive dissonance caused by actual events, rather than mere creative fiction writing?

    It seems to me that all of these discussions could make for a good book on the methodology of historical study, examining proposed criteria for evaluating authenticity, the relationship of history to logic and philosophy, and so on.

  6. “It seems to me that all of these discussions could make for a good book on the methodology of historical study, examining proposed criteria for evaluating authenticity, the relationship of history to logic and philosophy, and so on.”

    That’s quite a fascinating statement James, since that is the subject of the book on which I am currently working! ;-)

  7. “To put it another way, should we not survey earlier literature and, if it seems that a particular set of beliefs is unlikely to simply have been made up in that particular context, explain those beliefs in terms of dealing with cognitive dissonance caused by actual events, rather than mere creative fiction writing?”

    Yes, so long as you don’t ignore the socio-cultural setting of the author–which would have to include the author’s status, his education, and his audience; this would undoubtedly include the fact that imitatio was a large part of ones education in antiquity, their audience was probably also educated (especially to be able to read complex narratives, not simply graffitio or a receipt or purchase), and would have had access to the same types of documents and literature that the author had. In other words, as you say, we should take this into account so long as we can rule out the intertextual variant as coincidental.

    Edit: And in order to determine that, one would need to determine that variants probability as coincidental.

  8. Pardon my pedantic…

    If we assign the following labels:
    J = “Jews who wrote about messianic davidic expectations”
    E = “People who expected the messiah to be victorious over foreign powers”
    C = “Jewish Christians”
    P = “People who tried to persuade other Jews that Jesus was the messiah”

    Then James’ syllogism breaks down thusly:
    1. All J are E.
    2. All C are P.
    3. Therefore: ???

    No need for all the extras. His argument has failed because his syllogism is invalid regardless of the truth value of the premises.

    I suppose he could try to reconcile this problem by adding further premises equating some of his other variables. For instance:
    (1a) Some C are J.
    In other words, some Jewish Christians wrote about messianic expectations. But that would seem to be a useless gesture, since the very point under contention is whether the existing writings contributed to people’s interpretation of Jesus’ crucifixion.
    He could also say:
    (1a) Some E are P.
    Some people who expected a conquering messiah tried to convince other Jews that Jesus was the expected messiah.
    But this also seems a pointless endeavor. We could construct the following syllogism chain:
    1. All J are E.
    2. Some E are P.
    3. Therefore, Some P are J.

    1. Some P are J.
    2. All C are P.
    3. Therefore some C are J.

    But we’re just spinning our wheels at this point. The conclusion needs to be stated thusly:
    X = “People who invent the story of Jesus crucifixion”
    I = “People whose existence is improbable.”

    3. Therefore: All X are I.

    As you can hopefully see, neither X nor I are even mentioned or hinted at in either the major or the minor. SO…. James has to come up with a couple more syllogisms, create a chain, and somehow get from start to finish.

  9. Now, with that piece of business out of the way, here’s my real comment on what James is trying to prove, and how Thomas has perhaps inadvertently stumbled onto a very powerful critique of James’ argument.

    James is trying to prove “All X are I.” That is, “All people who invent the story of Jesus’ crucifixion are people whose existence is improbable.” It’s wonky language, and forgive me for the basic syllogism lesson, but if y’all are going to pursue this route, you need to stick to the rules.

    In syllogism, there are 4 possible statements involving classes of objects:
    1. All A is B
    2. No A is B
    3. Some A is B
    4. Some A is not B

    Since we’re not talking about any specific individuals, we can restrict ourselves to these. (Jesus is an individual, but we’re not talking about him. We’re talking about how he was perceived by classes of people.) Any syllogistic statement must be reduced (translated) into one of these 4 Wffs (well formed formulas). Thus, the wonky language for James’ conclusion.

    A proper syllogism has three letters. Only three. There are more rules, but we can work with just this one. For James to be able to prove “All X are I,” He needs to have something in this format:

    1. All I are ???
    2. All ??? are X.
    3. Therefore, All X are I.

    As we can clearly see, James hasn’t even remotely come close to this format. He’s just magically popped out a conclusion after diddling around with unconnected premises.

    One could (correctly) argue that this is in no way a refutation of James’ conclusion. It’s just a slap on the wrist from a logic teacher. However, I think there are some valuable lessons to be learned by examining the intention of this exercise.

    Assuming that James can create a chain of syllogisms establishing “X” and “I” as part of valid conclusions, he can also create his mysterious ??? variable. (I leave that entirely up to him. I have no horse in this race and don’t care to do his work for him.) But we need to notice something very important:
    (M = mystery variable)
    1. Some I are M
    2. All M are X
    3. Therefore, Some X are I.

    1. All I are M
    2. Some M are X.
    3. Therefore, some X are I.

    These are the two possibilities for James’ mystery valid syllogism IF he has less than 100% compliance within his variables. And I think Thomas has successfully demonstrated that this is the case. And when we look at the conclusion this way, it becomes far less formidable:

    Some people who invent the story of Jesus’ crucifixion are people whose existence is improbable.

    This leaves open the possibility (but not the necessity) that Some X are B. Some people who invent the story of Jesus’ crucifixion are people whose existence is probable.

    And I think this is the crux of Thomas’ objection. James is asserting probability for one group of “Some” while ignoring the “other” groups of “some” that clearly existed historically. The failed syllogism is, ironically, a glaring example of what Thomas is claiming is wrong with James’ position (syllogistic failures aside). James just asserts probability. He doesn’t justify it, in the same way that he just blithely jumped from his premises (shaky as they may be) to an unrelated conclusion.

  10. James, can you clarify something I am still not clear about in your argument. You wrote: “My claim was that there is a unifying thread to this strand of Jewish Messianism in pre-70 Judaism. It is the expectation that God will restore the kingship to (someone believed to be) an heir of David.”

    Can you please clarify this for me. Among whom was this expectation found? An intellectual or literary elite? The masses? Some sub-group of popular masses in Judea and Galilee/Palestine generally?

    Where is the evidence for the “unifying thread” to that strand of Judaism? Is it in the movements by the likes of Theudas we read about in Josephus and the Teacher of Righteousness that you have mentioned in earlier replies?

  11. Even if one can find a “unifying thread” in the rope of Judaism, it beggars the imagination to imagine that the argument from personal incredulity (which is all I really see here) is a valid argument when marshaled in support of a historical Jesus but invalid when brought forth to cast doubt on the age of the earth or the theory of natural selection.

    First of all, I imagine the majority of modern scholars would admit that some of the stories we have about Jesus of Nazareth are invented. So it’s clearly not improbable that stories about him would be invented.

    Secondly, the more improbable the story, generally, the more likely it is to be invented. Crucifixion is not particularly improbable … but resurrection surely is, and this is the other side of that coin, they are not separable.

    Imagine if we had someone arguing for the historicity of the Trojan War cycle thusly:

    Major premise: Greeks who wrote about the Trojan War expected that the war would be won by direct combat in an open battlefield.

    Minor premise: The Trojan War cycle describes a victory in the Trojan War by guile and trickery.

    Conclusion: It is unlikely that Greeks would have simply invented a story about the Trojan Horse, since it would make it harder to persuade other Greeks that Agamemnon was an honorable leader.

    The logic is clearly invalid when posed this way.

    One can’t simply say that the Trojan war cycle was historical except for the Trojan horse part. You no longer have access to any data to confirm the story on a point-by-point basis. It is lost to myth, if it ever did happen.

    However, the invalid logic isn’t the worst part (IMO), it’s the “I can’t imagine someone making it up” section. Somebody who had never seen modern science fiction might be able to get away with this, but a list of deaths and resurrections in modern scifi films and literature puts the idea that nobody would make it up to shame.

    So the final component that rends this syllogism apart is that as far as I am aware there is no extant tale of Jesus’ crucifixion that lacks a reference to his ultimate survival of the event and triumph over the forces who destroyed him. However I am not a recognized expert or published author in this field. Perhaps there are ancient Jewish texts that report only a crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth and no subsequent resurrection.

    Such evidence would go a long way to support the claims of at least a partial historicity.

  12. However, the invalid logic isn’t the worst part (IMO), it’s the “I can’t imagine someone making it up” section. Somebody who had never seen modern science fiction might be able to get away with this, but a list of deaths and resurrections in modern scifi films and literature puts the idea that nobody would make it up to shame.

    Yep yep. I’ve been a critic of James’ position on Jesus historicity since I first encountered it, and this is one of the major reasons why. Granted — and it’s no small point — fiction writing has come a long way in two thousand years, and we can’t extrapolate what is possible in today’s author’s global mind back to a pre-science Bronze Age mystic. However, we don’t need to extrapolate. There are volumes of extraordinary stories quite similar to the Jesus story, all wrapped up nice and neat by historians and filed under “Ancient Mythology.”

    I’ve also been befuddled by the flippant assertion that the Jesus story was too embarrassing to serve a productive purpose. I am also not a published Ancient Literature Scholar, but I have it on pretty good authority that there’s exactly ZERO reliable information on either the Jesus person, the Jesus myth, or the Jesus religious movement for 15 to 30 years after his alleged crucifixion.

    A LOT can happen in 30 years. In this modern age of global communication, free online encyclopedias, etc, things STILL get screwed up in a matter of months. Yet the argument from incredulity asserts that it’s enormously improbable that in 15 to 30 years, a barely literate, politically unstable, religiously volatile group of disparate mystery cults could come to believe that a mythical crucified figure was actually a real person. For any reason. Any reason at all.

    So… once again, my position is NOT that it is highly probable that Jesus did not exist. Rather, my position is that James’ argument stinks. If there’s a better argument for Jesus’ historicity, then fine. But this one leaves me with exactly zero confidence that there was a historical Jesus.

  13. “A LOT can happen in 30 years. In this modern age of global communication, free online encyclopedias, etc, things STILL get screwed up in a matter of months. Yet the argument from incredulity asserts that it’s enormously improbable that in 15 to 30 years, a barely literate, politically unstable, religiously volatile group of disparate mystery cults could come to believe that a mythical crucified figure was actually a real person. For any reason. Any reason at all.”

    Hamby, you’re quite right. In fact, in my volume that is currently in press, one article actually tackles how quickly memes were changed during the first few decades of Christianity. He applies Dawkin’s meme theory to explain why and how quickly religious ideas can change and disperse even in antiquity. I don’t think all of his arguments are strong, but most are strong enough that it makes his case more than simply probable.

  14. Tom, it seems to me that we would be shocked if a religious meme didn’t change in the religio-politically unstable first century. A few runs of the “telephone game” ought to illustrate how even very simple ideas can get wildly distorted, so much that they become unrecognizable after only a few retellings.

    If I am correctly informed, early Christianity was a proselytizing religion. That is, people of a Pauline bent were travelling about preaching to the Gentiles and Jews alike. So the telephone game analogy is probably pretty valid. Give ten people the message, send them in ten directions to ten different groups of people with their own religious preconceptions, and see what you get when you’re done.

    I am having a hard time imagining how the original story could come through unscathed.

  15. I should add: I know we’re talking apples and oranges in trying to compare post-epistle Christianity and pre. But since we know absolutely nothing of pre-epistle Christianity, it seems ostentatious to presume anything, right? So I went with what we do know. And unless I’m mistaken, Christianity itself went through remarkable transitions before being more or less codified.

    While I’m on the subject, what justification do Jesus historicists give for more or less tossing out the considerable evidence that there were branches of Christianity who did NOT believe Jesus was a real person. True, they were generally punished as heretics, but since when did we start trusting the victors to publish accurate histories?

  16. What is more probable, too, is that often proselytizers were in a sense street performers; to earn attention, you might see some creating stories on the fly, making analyses to other cultures, communities, religions, in an attempt to draw in converts. This happened all the time with just retellings of Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey–known affectionately as ‘the Greek Bible’ simply because it was the religious text of the Greeks in the same way the books of the Hebrew Bible were to the Jews. We know this sort of thing happened; so it is very likely perspectives changed and adapted in short periods of time.

  17. Sorry for not being able to interact with some of the comments sooner. Tom, are you suggesting that the Illiad was thought of as a “Bible” among the ancient Greeks, performed and treated in a similar way to the Bible in Judaism? I had the impression that scholars of ancient Greek religion consider the differences to outweigh the similarities.

    HambyDammit, thanks for commenting. I said on a previous post that led to this one that I don’t think that historical study should be treated by plugging it into equations. I’m not persuaded that trying to demonstrate whether or not “all Caesars crossed the Rubicon” or anything else is going to be fruitful. If that leaves historical study profoundly more uncertain than other disciplines, all I can say is that we already knew that. :-)

    Having said that, some of the comments seem to be saying “We know that people sometimes make stuff up, therefore Jesus was probably made up.” That seems to me to be far too broad a brush to paint with, and that is precisely why I suggested bringing Davidic Messianism into the forefront of the discussion.

    Neil, you asked a great question. We obviously only have sources from people who could write, and so ancient literature gives us the perspectives of a small atypical slice of ancient society. But to the extent that we have evidence that figures like John the Baptist or Josephus’ “sign-prophets” attracted crowds, it wouldn’t be idle speculation to suggest that movements of this sort were not to be found only, or even primarily, among the educated, literate elite. At any rate, the literature that reflects views about the Davidic Messiah from the Judaism of this period include the Psalms of Solomon and the Sibilline Oracles. There are other sources which can compliment these, but which we need to use with caution because of either issues of date or because it is not clear that we are dealing specifically with the expectation about restoring Davidic rule (e.g. Similitudes of Enoch, Josephus’ descriptions of various leaders and royal pretenders).

  18. Having said that, some of the comments seem to be saying “We know that people sometimes make stuff up, therefore Jesus was probably made up.”

    No, that’s not quite it.

    We know that sometimes people make up stories about powerful characters who face insurmountable odds and then overcome them. One very common method of adding to this drama is to have a person who either dies, appears dead, or appears to have been killed ressurrected, against all expectation of the story. It’s so common it’s almost a cliche.

    Therefore, when you find such a story, it’s wildly improbable that is is not fictional: not just the resurrection part, but the death and resurrection.

  19. Two points, both of which I’ve made before. First, you seem not to care that we’re talking about an individual that people were being told was the anointed one the son of David, and not someone who merely appeared in a book of exciting and entertaining tales. Until you take this point seriously we’re not going to make any progress.

    Second, the fact that people sometimes believe that they saw someone who died, or dream about them, or believe that the person in question went to heaven, simply cannot be used as an argument against their historicity.

  20. “Tom, are you suggesting that the Illiad was thought of as a “Bible” among the ancient Greeks, performed and treated in a similar way to the Bible in Judaism?”

    I wouldn’t say that, since there was no such thing as ‘the Bible’ prior to late antiquity. However, I will say that the Greeks did, in fact, treat Homer’s epics as a moral guide, as a cultural history, and as religious text in very similar ways to the way the Jews in antiquity saw the Torah.

    “I had the impression that scholars of ancient Greek religion consider the differences to outweigh the similarities.”

    I’m not so sure, and if they do (who is ‘they’, exactly?) it will only constitute the myths themselves. There are many scholars, particularly in the field of OT, who would argue that many of the legends and historiographic accounts in the books of the Hebrew Bible resemble scenes from the Homeric epics, as if they were imitated by its authors. If you do a general search for it, you’ll see there are several books on the subject and at least one collection of essays. So I would say that the debate is a little up in the air at the moment.

    “I said on a previous post that led to this one that I don’t think that historical study should be treated by plugging it into equations. I’m not persuaded that trying to demonstrate whether or not “all Caesars crossed the Rubicon” or anything else is going to be fruitful. If that leaves historical study profoundly more uncertain than other disciplines, all I can say is that we already knew that. :-)”

    James, I hate to say this, but you are completely missing the point. I know I have expressed this before to you. It isn’t about proving history is uncertain–it is about establishing more sound claims about the past. This exercise was not about whether or not Jesus existed (regardless of what some of the comments on my post suggest) and I made that absolutely clear in the OP. It is about challenging scholars to limit their bias, base their claims upon probability, which can only be determined through quantitative means. Logic just expresses data. Raw data. By rejecting it because you don’t think its useful is no different than saying ‘I don’t find archaeological discoveries useful’. Like archaeology, logic produces findings that the historian must interpret and express. To ignore this is to fall into an endless chasm of fallacy and irresponsible claims. In my mind, if someone can’t produce honest claims they shouldn’t be making any. That goes for every field; physics, astronomy, biology, and history.

    I understand completely your dissonance towards it and unfortunately you’re not alone. But we all have to overcome certain practices rooted in tradition and a great deal of bad habits that plague our field. In order to do that, you have to allow that some claims cannot be as strong as you’d like them to be. It goes against our egos, I know, but the only way to do this is to express your claim through logic.

    Let me put it another way; can you think of one claim where logic cannot be a help in establishing an honest position? Think carefully before answering.

    I would add that quantitative methods in historical interpretation are not new; the practice has been around for decades and is used in all fields of ancient history.

    “Having said that, some of the comments seem to be saying “We know that people sometimes make stuff up, therefore Jesus was probably made up.” That seems to me to be far too broad a brush to paint with, and that is precisely why I suggested bringing Davidic Messianism into the forefront of the discussion.”

    I don’t think anyone has made that claim. Can you quote the statement from which you’re inferring?

  21. No, James you’re right. But I would argue that it makes it more difficult to argue for historicity. This is why I have urged everyone to take a less hardline position on the figure of Jesus’ historicity. The fact that these “people” actually include those talking about the figure of Jesus has a huge impact on the argument for historicity of that figure, don’t you think?

    On an unrelated note, Ingrid Hjelm is currently submitting a treatment (to SBL I believe) on the question of historicity of the figure of Simon Magus. ;-)

  22. Tom, I know I for one would find it helpful to see some illustrations of how the use of formal logic helps with evaluating probabilities about the past. I said from the outset that formal logic is not something that I have more than a mediocre acquaintance with, and so perhaps at some point you can blog some examples? I know I would find it helpful.

  23. First, you seem not to care that we’re talking about an individual that people were being told was the anointed one the son of David, and not someone who merely appeared in a book of exciting and entertaining tales. Until you take this point seriously we’re not going to make any progress.

    As long as you assume the consequent, that is true.

  24. I suppose you could just wait for the book. =)

  25. James said, “Having said that, some of the comments seem to be saying “We know that people sometimes make stuff up, therefore Jesus was probably made up.”

    Not at all. At least not from me. I am saying that we know people make stuff up, and that even not trying to make stuff up, they sometimes get things horribly wrong after only a couple of reproductions. Therefore, it is poor reasoning to assert the probability of Jesus’ historicity based only on appeals to incredulity. Especially with that nasty half-generation gap with no information whatsoever.

  26. I would like to hear more about the “half-generation gap with no information whatsoever.” How is that calculated?

  27. I imagine a figure could be calculated by doing an a statistical analysis on headstones throughout the Hill Country and the Diaspora to determine life expectancy and then compare that figure to the first narrative account of Jesus’ life (since, though we have Paul, he tells us nothing of the figure personally except for his theological value) which would be Mark. If we assume Mark’s terminus a quo, we can establish somewhere around 70 or 71 CE. If we presume that the figure of Jesus died c. 33 CE, that leaves us with a 30-40 year gap. If it could be determined that statistically life expectancy was between 40-60 years old (in fact I think that it is somewhere right in the middle based on modern source data and studies on such things), we might say that is a half-generation gap of information we don’t have.

    I don’t believe Hamby is implying it never existed; he is simply stating we don’t have it.

  28. The half generation or more gap only exists if we assume there was a Jesus. The gap is irrelevant if the texts are primarily literary creations.

  29. Tom, I am less happy than you are to leave Paul out altogether. He may give us little detail, but I don’t think that the little he tells us is irrelevant – and cuts into the notion of a half-generation gap significantly if one includes him!

  30. If you can find life information about Jesus in Paul, that would surprise a lot of people! I don’t think his theological information about Jesus is irrelevant, but I don’t believe you can satisfy any historical significance with it. I don’t think he gives us anything substantial; if Paul alone were our only testimony to Jesus, I don’t think we would be having this conversation as I don’t think you would be as certain of his usefulness as you are with the Gospel narratives as support.

  31. I don’t believe Hamby is implying it never existed; he is simply stating we don’t have it.

    Of course. Show me something from 1-5 years after the alleged crucifixion by a named author with historical coherency, and I’ll change my tune so fast it’ll make your head spin.

    I would like to hear more about the “half-generation gap with no information whatsoever.” How is that calculated?

    Assuming very general figures for fecundity, we can say that the infants alive on C-Day (Crucifixion Day) would be having their first child around fifteen years. Those children would have their first children approximately thirty years from C-Day, which gives you two generations of people who were not sentient humans at the time of the event.

    If I am incorrect that women reproduced in their early to mid teens, blame the anthropologists. Not my field, but I assume their data are reasonable.

    This brings me to another line of thought. Question for both Tom and James: Assuming the most liberal (non-miraculous) version of the crucifixion account, how many people witnessed the crucifixion of Jesus first-hand?

  32. Well if we assume historicity, we assume the location of Jesus’ death to be near a road, outside the city, it could have potentially been witnessed by dozens, if not hundreds of people. The Gospels don’t give an exact figure, unless we count only those that are named, but even then the number varies between accounts.

  33. There’s an interesting treatment of what can be deduced about the story of the death of Jesus as Paul knew it using solely Paul’s letters in Dale Allison’s recent book.

  34. I’ll look into that. I will add that if he doesn’t engage recent intertextual, rhetorical, and imitative arguments, I don’t believe it could be a comprehensive treatment.

  35. @Tom:

    I’m admittedly asking for guesswork here, so I won’t take your answer as anything more than informed opinion. It is my understanding that there was no Roman tradition of freeing a prisoner, as in the Gospel account. So we can discount that story as fictional. If there was no such tradition, we can assume the crowd that was reportedly gathered for the tradition was also fictional.

    With that in mind, and bearing in mind that there were three people crucified in the story (which does not eliminate the possibility that there were only three which were important to the writer), and bearing in mind that we have no idea whether the stories of great crowds following Jesus around were fictional…

    Do we really have anything “verifiable” from the Gospel account regarding the numbers at the Crucifixion? That is, if we can’t trust the story of Barabbas (sp?) and we can’t trust the story of only 3 people being crucified, and we can’t trust the story of great multitudes following Jesus…

    Aren’t we right back with the clearly mythological nature of the Gospels, and the nearly complete lack of biographical info from the Epistles?

    And if that’s the case (Here’s the real question…) what historical methodology could we use to determine if there was at least plausibility and then probability that many people witnessed the crucifixion, and if they witnessed it, that they knew who Jesus was? And finally, if they knew, did they care?

  36. This is really where Bayes Theorem comes into play; I’m not yet familiarized with the theorem to be able to do anything more substantial than suggest further reading, but this is where such a theorem could determine probability to an extent you would need to prove a case (i.e. an actual numeric value, like 51% or more). My goal here was merely to establish sound arguments and keep the language honest, but to express anything in further detail, you’d need a more solid formula than simple logic.

  37. I suppose to approach it from a Bayesian point of view, the most important thing to know would be the average number of onlookers to a Roman crucifixion in Palestine at the time of Pilate. This would give you at least a prior probability number to go off of.

  38. Tom & Evan:

    Not that I’m defending James’ conclusion, but I have to question the notion that we could look at this question from a Bayesian perspective. I know you’ve both looked at Bayes’ basic equation. It requires a LOT of data. And the whole point that we’ve been discussing is that there simply isn’t data in this instance.

    Essentially, the critique of James’ argument consists of “you have no direct supporting data, and there are plenty of other possibilities, so asserting probability isn’t reasonable.”

    But then we’re going to plug all this missing data into Bayes theorem and expect to come out with a meaningful answer?

  39. Yes, actually. Hamby, see this excellent article by Richard Carrier. I believe you’ll find it enlightening (but you’ll also want to look into quantitative methods as well).

    http://www.richardcarrier.info/CarrierDec08.pdf

    From the handout:

    The Advantages of Bayes’ Theorem
    1. Helps to tell if your theory is probably true rather than merely possibly true
    2. Inspires closer examination of your backgr. knowl. and assumptions of likelihood
    3. Forces examination of the likelihood of the evidence on competing theories
    4. Eliminates the Fallacy of Diminishing Probabilities
    5. Bayes’ Theorem has been proven to be formally valid
    6. Bayesian reasoning with or without math exposes assumptions to criticism &
    consequent revision and therefore promotes progress

    You’ll have to read the whole pdf for further explanations, but it expresses essentially the benefits with examples as to how useful and meaningful Bayes theorem can make a claim.

  40. James McGrath, you wrote: “I know I for one would find it helpful to see some illustrations of how the use of formal logic helps with evaluating probabilities about the past. I said from the outset that formal logic is not something that I have more than a mediocre acquaintance with . . .”

    I have pointed out numerous times that your arguments for historicity of Jesus are circular, but you never replied to those notices. Is that because you do not understand the concept of “circularity” in logic? I am happy to explain this to you if you would like. It may help you respond with some rational basis to the points i have made in the past.

    Let me know.

  41. […] Posted on July 18, 2011 by Tom Verenna This is precise my point and one I have said over and over.  This is why the criterion of embarrassment fails to meet even a cursory examination.  […]

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