Debate: The Evidence for Jesus from the Talmud – Wrap-Up Comments

I summarized Joe Hinman’s argument from the external evidence of the Talmud this way:
1. There are MANY references to Jesus in the Talmud that were censored but that were preserved in some texts.
2. There are A FEW references to Jesus in the Talmud that were not censored.
3. ALL of the references to Jesus in the Talmud speak of Jesus in a way that assumes or implies that Jesus was a flesh‐and‐blood historical figure.
4. IF (1), (2), and (3) are true, THEN the external evidence from the Talmud is sufficient to make it reasonable to believe that Jesus existed as a flesh‐and‐blood historical figure.
THEREFORE:
5. The external evidence from the Talmud is sufficient to make it reasonable to believe that Jesus existed as a flesh‐and‐blood historical figure.
Hinman thought this summary was acceptable: “I don’t Object to that understanding of the argument.”
I raised various objections to this argument, and Hinman responded to my objections.
Is Premise (1) True?
In order to show that premise (1) is true, I would expect Hinman to produce at least five or six quotations from the Talmud that have references to Jesus that can be shown to have been censored.  He failed to do so in his initial posts on the Talmud.
What about in his lengthy  (about twenty single-spaced pages) reply to my objections?  How many passages from the Talmud did Hinman show to be references to Jesus that he showed to have been censored but that were preserved in some texts?  ZERO.  He failed to even attempt to show that one such passage exists.
The closest that Hinman ever comes to arguing for an example to support premise (1) is this comment about b. Sanh. 43a:
On his video Instone-Brewer shows the censored text and the original uncensored and demonstrate they name Jesus by name list charges says he will be hanged before Passover. hanged is crucified. He shows they changed it to stoning rather than Crucifixion to change the facts of The Romans executing him.
This is NOT an argument, at least not an intellectually respectable argument.  Hinman provides a link to a video and claims that somebody in the video “shows” that this passage from the Talmud was a reference to Jesus and that the passage was censored but was preserved in some texts.  Claiming that somebody in some video proved something is NOT an acceptable substitute for actually providing reasons and evidence in support of a claim.  But this is the very best that Hinman ever does in terms of supporting premise (1).  So, Hinman has failed to provide reasons and evidence showing premise (1) to be true.
If Instone-Brewer had a solid argument showing that b. Sanh. 43a was a reference to Jesus and that the passage was censored but was preserved in some texts, then Hinman was free to borrow that argument from Instone-Brewer and present it in this debate.  Pointing to a video where somebody else presents an argument is NOT to present an argument; it is merely to claim that someone else has presented a good argument, while one fails to actually present an argument.
Is Premise (2) True?
Again, Hinman does not even make an attempt to show premise (2) to be true.  In fact, he clearly objects to the very idea that he ought to make such an attempt:
Bowen:

Hinman needs to provide about a dozen quotations from the Talmud that refer to Jesus, at least five or six passages that can be shown to have been censored, and at least three or four passages that were not censored, and a total of about twelve passages (if there are that many) that are ALL shown to speak of Jesus in a way that assumes or implies that Jesus was a flesh-and-blood historical person. [emphasis added by me, Bradley Bowen]

Hinman:
I don’t think so. (1) where is he getting this number? There’s no rule book of historiography that says you have to have 12 examples. 
(2) I have more than 12 but four major examples are \quite enough.He wants 12 examples and he wants then to be long and for me to do a close reading I’, going to be witting a dissertation.
(3) why should i provide examples of one’s not censored? If I document that a given passage was censored and what the original version was that should be enough. [emphasis added by me, Bradley Bowen]
Why should Hinman provide examples of passages that refer to Jesus from the Talmad that were NOT censored?  He has to do so in order to support premise (2) of his own argument.  If Hinman does not want to support key claims that he makes, then he ought to find something else to do with his time other than debating controversial issues.
When you put forward an argument in a debate, you need to be prepared to provide reasons or evidence in support of the premises of your argument.  That is Debating 101.  That is Critical Thinking 101.
Hinman failed to provide reasons or arguments to show that premise (2) is true.
Is Premise (3) True?
Once again, Hinman clearly indicates that he is unwilling to provide adequate evidence in support of the premises of his own argument:
Bowen:

(3) I would expect Hinman to show that in each one of those references, Jesus was spoken of in a way that assumes or implies that Jesus was a flesh-and-blood historical figure.  If, however, there were dozens of references to Jesus in the Talmud, I would not expect Hinman to walk through each and every such reference, but I would expect that he would discuss a significant sample of those references (perhaps a dozen passages) that included a number of passages from various areas of the Talmud, and that included both censored passages and non-censored passages. [emphasis added by me, Bradley Bowen]

Hinman:
no I don;t think so. I’ve made known the examples I’m willing to defend, they are there they can’t be denied and the Rabbis admit to them. Celsus backed it up. I did give examples and I can give more on my pages. three pages on this link where I deal with many examples. [emphasis added by me, Bradley Bowen]
It is not entirely clear what Hinman is saying “No” to here.  But since “the examples” that he “made known” in the context of this debate were limited to just FOUR examples, and since I was suggesting that about a dozen examples were needed to do an adequate job,  Hinman appears to be refusing to show that “Jesus was spoken of in a way that assumes or implies that Jesus was a flesh-and-blood historical figure” in more than just a few examples.  Perhaps more than the four initial examples, but clearly LESS than twelve examples.
The next exchange confirms this impression:
Bowen: 

Looking over the evidence that Hinman presents about the alleged references to Jesus in the Talmud,  it seems to me that his evidence is too skimpy to adequately support his factual premises (1), (2), and (3).  I also think that premise

Hinman:
Debate’s just starting I never said that page  was all my evidence. But the four major examples are really enough to prove my point. I haven’t demonstrated them yet. A further example of several passages and a major “stand -in” for Jesus will also be listed.
Let’s recall what premise (3) of Hinman’s argument asserts:
3. ALL of the references to Jesus in the Talmud speak of Jesus in a way that assumes or implies that Jesus was a flesh‐and‐blood historical figure.
If there are only FOUR references to Jesus in the Talmud, then Hinman only needs to show that Jesus was spoken of in a way that assumes or implies that Jesus was a flesh-and-blood historical figure in those FOUR passages.
But Hinman clearly believes that there are more than just FOUR passages in the Talmud that refer to Jesus, so in order to show that (3) is true, he needs to show that more than just those FOUR passages in the Talmud refer to Jesus AND speak of Jesus in a way that assumes or implies that Jesus was a flesh-and-blood historical figure.  But Hinman appears to be unwilling to present reasons and evidence concerning this point about more than just a few examples.  Thus, Himan is, once again, unwilling to present adequate evidence in support of his own key claims.
Hinman failed to show that premise (3) is true.
CONCLUSION
Since Hinman failed to show that any of the first three premises of his argument are true, and since Hinman appears to be unwilling to even attempt to do so,  I conclude that this argument from the Talmud is a complete failure.
If someday Hinman wishes to provide actual reasons and arguments in support of the premises of his own argument, then perhaps he can provide a good reason to believe the conclusion of this argument.  Until then, he has failed to give us a good reason to believe the conclusion of the argument from the evidence of the Talmud.
 
 

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