Are Women Reliable?

April 29, 2006

When we come to Luke 24 we find an interesting bit of insight into the historical veracity of the empty tomb account. Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and some other women present told the apostles of the things which they had just seen (i.e. the vacant tomb, the absent body, the two men, etc.). However, the apostles did not accept what they had to say concerning these things. But why not? Well, it seems that it is because the testimony of women was not held in high regard in their culture. Are there any extra-biblical sources that attest to this?

Sooner let the words of the Law be burnt than delivered to women. (Talmud, Sotah 19a)

The world cannot exist without males and without females-happy is he whose children are males, and woe to him whose children are females. (Talmud, Kiddushin 82b)

But let not the testimony of women be admitted, on account of the levity and boldness of their sex, nor let servants be admitted to give testimony on account of the ignobility of their soul; since it is probable that they may not speak truth, either out of hope of gain, or fear of punishment. (Josephus, Antiquities 4.8.15)

Any evidence which a woman [gives] is not valid (to offer), also they are not valid to offer. This is the equivalent to saying that one who is Rabbinically accounted a robber is qualified to give the same evidence as a woman. (Talmud, Rosh Hashannah 1.8)

So Clint, what is the big point? Well, I am glad you asked! If the disciples were trying to create a resurrection account why would they use women as the primary witnesses? After all, women are the primary witnesses in all four gospels as opposed to men in only two gospels. Further, if legend creeps in over time, why was the text not redacted to show that men, a more reliable source, were in fact the first and primary witnesses to the empty tomb? Why even include the women at all? The scholar Gary Habermas found that about 75% of all critical and skeptical scholars accept the fact of the empty tomb (see The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus). However, there are those who refuse to let the evidence convince them. Their reasons? William Wand, former Oxford Church Historian addresses this matter in a concise manner stating that “all the strictly historical evidence we have is in favor of [the empty tomb], and those who reject it ought to recognize that they do so on some other ground than that of scientific history.”

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N. T. Wright

April 25, 2006

For those of you who enjoy reading this old chaps works, you should check out his newest work Simply Christian. From what I have heard it is going to be the Mere Christianity of this generation.


Jon Kvanvig to Join Baylor Faculty

April 21, 2006

Thanks to Matt Mullins’ post at Prosblogion it looks like Jonathan Kvanvig will be joining the philosophy department at Baylor University as a Distinguished Professor of Philosophy. I raise my glass.


Stupid Reasoning and Beckwith’s Tenure Denial

April 17, 2006

MikeGene at Telic Thoughts has posted a response to one example of stupid reasoning regarding Beckwith’s tenure denail.

Update: scordova at Uncommon Descent has discovered MikeGene’s post as well. See here.
Update 2: MikeGene is all over it. See here.


I Sometimes Wonder…

April 16, 2006

…Are the three major branches of Christianity–Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and Protestant–meant to tell us anything about the three divine Persons: the Father, the Son and the Spirit?


Presentism and Truthmakers

April 15, 2006

According to Presentism, whatever exists, exists now, in the present. The past has flowed away and the future is yet to come. Only the present exits. But what of things like abstract objects? This view appears to rule out in one swift stroke, any view of abstract entities, for such things do not exists at times, present, past, or future. Many presentists would want qualify a bit. According to this qualified view, for any x, x exists if and only if x obtains in the present, and x is non-abstract. This way room is made for the existence of atemporal objects—objects like properties or numbers which exist but do not exist in the present since they do not exist at any time.

But as attractive Presentism is, it faces a serious objection: How exactly are truths about the past grounded? This question of the grounding past truths is a consequence of the truthmaker thesis:

TM: Every truth has a truthmaker—that in virtue of which a proposition or sentence is true.

Traditionally, facts or states of affairs are taken to be the sort of things that qualify as truthmakers, so that for any true proposition P, there exists a corresponding fact or state of affairs S such that P if and only if S. But perhaps this definition is too strong. There are some truths, e.g. analytic ones, which seem to require no truthmakers. For example the proposition

1) All bachelors in are unmarried,

is just true by definition. Similarly, contingent negative existential propositions like

2) Cerberus does not exist,

are also thought to not require truthmakers since they do not posit the existence of anything and, so, do not require the existence of anything in order to be true. But save for the likes of 1) or 2), truthmakers are apparently needed for all other propositions. If it is true that I am now writing this post, then necessarily, it is the case that I am now writing this post. But what about the post I wrote last Saturday? What is it that grounds a proposition like:

3) Xavier wrote a post last Saturday.

Given Presentism, apparently, nothing in the past could, since past events do not exist. Further, nothing in the present does either, for my typing last Saturday’s post occurred last Saturday. How then does Presentism account for the truth of something like 3)?


New Contributor

April 11, 2006

I’d like to hoist a pint in welcoming our newest contributor, Matt Woodard. Matt is currently completing his Master’s in Theology, while (rightly) promoting disinterest in anything Duke related. His specializations and interests include Scriptural background studies, textual issues, historical Jesus, NT exegesis, theology and so forth. We’re excited to have Matt as part of our team, and I trust you will not be disappointed by anything he writes.