Friday, December 16, 2016

Fact-Checking the Torah -- the, er, twins

The second and third of the “four horsemen” are Henrich Laible and Robert Travers Herford.  They have to be grouped together because Herford mostly copied from and admits his debt to Laible.
Laible copies from the same source as Pranaitis did, and cites to that source.  He commits the fallacy of presentism on the first page of his book.  He also makes one spectacular error that combines an ignorance of Greek, shameful in somebody pretending to be a scholar, with an admission that he can’t read his primary source and with ignorance of the Jewish literary corpus.
Laible claims that a Rabbi Pappos quoted in Mishnah and dozens of times in Talmud, is wrongly called a contemporary of Rabbi Akiva, the famous martyr, but was actually Jesus’ father.  He claims that “Pappos” comes from Greek meaning “father.”
The Greek for “father” is patir, as any first-year student of Classical Greek knows.  But pappos is also Greek – for grandfather.
What Laible ignored because, as he admitted, he could not read Aramaic, is that there is also a Rabbi Pappa who is quoted in almost every tractate of Talmud. There are 1700 references in both Talmuds to men named “bar Pappa”, and a number in Midrash Rabbah on Genesis.  If they are all the sons of one man, then he contributed almost as much to Talmud as rabbis whose names are known more widely, such as R. Akiva, Rabbi Hillel, Rabbi Shammai, Rabbi Meir, and so on.
The reason Laible keys in on Rabbi Pappos, not Rabbi Pappa, is that Pappos was the husband of somebody named Miriam.  The “four horsemen” all associate this Miriam with Mary mother of Jesus.  That would be fine if they also proved that only one woman named Mary or Miriam lived during the entire period from 80 BCE to 132 CE.  But that is an extraordinary claim that would require mountains of evidence for proof, and the people making this claim don’t have that proof.
Why that period?  The upper limit applies because Rabbi Akiva was martyred by the Romans that year or the next.  As his contemporary, Rabbi Pappos had to be born in almost the same year, 50 CE.  Anybody who makes this claim has to prove that Mary mother of Jesus was still alive when Rabbi Pappos was old enough to marry.
The importance of this Miriam referred to in Talmud, is that she committed adultery after marriage and gave birth as a result.  So after proving that Mary mother of Jesus was alive, the claimants would have to prove she was capable of bearing children after 50 CE.  When she was over 50 and probably over 60.  Don’t cite stories about modern women giving birth at those ages.  That has the same problem of historical context as equating tahor with “germ free”, which I discussed to death long ago.
Besides, Christian scripture does not support the concept that Mary mother of Jesus committed adultery after marriage.  This is the situation I referred to a couple of weeks ago.  I’ll say it more distinctly. 
Anybody who accepts Christian scripture as true, cannot believe that a woman described in Talmud, who committed adultery after marriage, is Mary mother of Jesus.  That’s not a weak analogy, it’s a false equation.
Anybody who accepts Talmud as true, must believe that Miriam who was Rabbi Pappos’ wife was capable of childbirth after 50 CE, and therefore was less than 50 years old.  As a result, she cannot be Mary mother of Jesus, who was at least 50 years old in 50 CE.  Equating the two is not a weak analogy, it’s a false equation.
Anybody who thinks that both sets of literature are false should not be arguing that Talmud refers to Jesus. If both are false, then what they say is irrelevant.

And now...
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