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Did Jesus Lie in John 18:19-20?

Jesus John 18:19-20 Lie Jesus Trial

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#1 Charles81

Charles81

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Posted 24 November 2014 - 09:21 PM

Did Jesus Lie in John 18:19-20?
 
(I have moved on for now from the topic of Noah's Ark since no one has responded to any of my questions on this topic; although I'd welcome any future responses to them.)
 
This post is a continuation of a prior debate I had with a local Christadelphian.
 
God does not and cannot lie or prove false:

Numbers 23:19
19 God is not a human being, that he should lie, or a mortal, that he should change his mind. Has he promised, and will he not do it? Has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?
 
2 Samuel 7:28
28 And now, O Lord God, you are God, and your words are true, and you have promised this good thing to your servant;
2 in the hope of eternal life that God, who never lies, promised before the ages began— http://www.biblestud.../titus/1-2.html

Hebrews 6:18
18 so that through two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible that God would prove false, we who have taken refuge might be strongly encouraged to seize the hope set before us.
Here are my previous questions to a local Christadelphian on this topic.
 
Q. If God defines morality then wouldn't this mean that it would be morally acceptable for God to break his word or lie after telling us that he never would?
I don't think that follows. If He says that He can't or won't lie, then that's the definition of morality regarding lying. There are also statements that He does not change, such as "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change." (James 1:17)

Q. If God lied, even if he wasn't protecting someone, would this necessarily be morally wrong?
Titus 1:2 reads, "...in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began." The lie wouldn't happen.

So, just to beat a dead horse, we know categorically and absolutely that God can't & won't ever lie, end of story, you can take that to the bank, period!
(1) Q. Right?
A. Right.
 
In some places where someone saw a vision of "God" you argued this was actually a "God manifestation"
...These are all examples of what is commonly called "God manifestation". That is, God is manifest (revealed, made evident) in His angels.
This raises the obvious related question of, could an angel could/would ever lie? 
(2) Q. Could an angel ever possibly lie?
A. No. They act as God's obedient servants. Which is why if an angel is the agent used by God, it is still accurate to say God is doing whatever it is. (Ps 103:20-21, Heb 1:13-14)
 
Next, to cover all the bases:
Very obviously, Jesus absolutely never could/would lie.
(3) Q. Right?
A. Right.
 
Finally, since the Bible is the revealed word of God it is
(1) absolutely inerrant, can contain no real contradictions, no factual and/or historical mistakes, and,
(3) although the Bible does contain poetic language (allegories, symbolism, etc) it is to be taken literally.  "Literally" means that, unless there is good reason to do otherwise, the text's meaning is to be taken as corresponding to the normal, simplest, and most obvious definitions of the words. e.g. "Ark" means a physical boat, "serpent" means a real animal that slithers on the ground that has no legs, etc.
(4) Q. Are these last three points all absolutely correct? 
A. Pretty much. The "absolutely inerrant" claim would apply to what God originally revealed. People can, have, and continue to handle it badly, including altering things they don't like. The transmission has been in imperfect human hands. That said, there is good evidence to support very high confidence in the text, with only a tiny percentage of it in any doubt, and the places where there are questions typically don't affect the meaning in any serious way. Far more variation is introduced by translators, which in another place inerrancy cannot be claimed. All that having been said, the book as a whole is very dependable. A good practice is to not take a single passage as THE authority. A reasonable claim is that there are not glaring, big-time historical inaccuracies. Transmission of name spellings and some numbers are the most problematic, which is the case with other ancient texts as well. Finally, on the literal vs. figurative, what you state is a good rule of thumb. But as I'm sure you realize, we get into subjectivity here and there is significant disagreement among students. I do subscribe to the "let's consider this literal as our starting point" school of thought. Note that a literal event may also have an allegorical meaning; this is the mechanism behind the concept of a "type".
 
OK, so the problem is that according to the Bible Jesus lied during his trial, committed perjury and violated the 9th commandment, before the high priest, in a religious court.
 
 5.   John 18:19-20
19 Then the high priest questioned Jesus about his disciples and about his teaching. 20 Jesus answered, "I have spoken openly to the world; I have always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where all the Jews come together. I have said nothing in secret.
 
To being with, Jesus stated he always taught in the synagogues or at the temple.
 Matt 5:1-3
1
When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. 2 Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying: 3 "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
 
Matt 13:1-3
1 That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea. 2 Such great crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat there, while the whole crowd stood on the beach. 3 And he told them many things in parables, saying: "Listen! A sower went out to sow.
John 18:19-20. It's theoretically possible that when Jesus said he always taught in the synagogues, that he could mean he exclusively taught there. However that's not necessarily what he meant, nor even the most likely meaning. Is it not far more reasonable to take the cue from Jesus's first sentence:  "I have spoken openly to the world"?  In the sentences following, in verse 21, Jesus challenges the high priest to call as witnesses those who heard him teach. He's saying he has nothing to hide, and nothing he has hidden. The testimony of the people who heard him, many of whom were not supporters, would carry far more weight than what Jesus would say about himself when on trial. Reading the full exchange, verses 19-23, the clear meaning is that Jesus had nothing to hide, and (key to the issue for which he was on trial) he hadn't engaged in a conspiracy. What he had to say, he said openly and in public, no sedition, no conspiracy.  It would be ridiculous for him to claim he never had a word to say to his followers in any place outside a synagogue, and in fact they were eyewitnesses of him doing so -- they sent out to the countryside to observe him, and they'd seen him teaching in the temple many times, including every day of the the prior week. (Emphasis added)
 
It's not only "theoretically possible" that Jesus meant that he exclusively taught there. Given his words right here in black and white, if language has meaning, I don't see how anything other than that interpretation makes any sense.  Yet I'm being told that what 18:20 really means is not where and how often Jesus taught, but instead discusses the, admittedly related but nevertheless distinct, concepts of not being a conspirator, and engaging in open and honest communication.  If words as clear as those in John 18:20 can mean what you say they mean, then the meaning of the whole Bible can be transformed into whatever anyone wants it to mean.  In this passage "temples" and "synagogues" apparently don't mean buildings designated for worship.  And "always" apparently doesn't mean exclusively.  No.  Instead what these words really mean is Jesus didn't conspire, spoke openly, and had nothing to hide.  This raises the question if what Jesus really meant was that he hadn't conspired, spoken openly, and had nothing to hide then why didn't he simply use those words that would have clearly conveyed this very meaning? "I haven't conspired, have spoken openly, and have nothing to hide." instead of the words he did use, "I have always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where all the Jews come together."  Also, by your interpretation 18:20 becomes almost completely redundant, since it largely repeats the statements right before it, "I have spoken openly to the world" and right after it, "I have said nothing in secret." So "I have always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where all the Jews come together." would contribute very little to the meaning of the text.

When the Bible says that there was a talking serpent in the Garden of Eden I think you would say that if someone had been there with a video camera, and that tape was later shown to someone who was completely unfamiliar with Christianity, they would be astonished to see a snake speaking in intelligible language, and they would also describe it that way.  If there had been a video camera present when Noah built his ark, and a later viewer described the sequence of events, they would describe them as a man building a boat, and then all these animals got on board, etc.  In the relevant Biblical passages "ark"  means a large ship made mostly of wood, "animals" mean living, breathing creatures that have DNA, feet, eyes, hair, hoves, organs (livers, hearts, etc), reproduce, eat, breathe, and defecate all in typical fashion.  To get on board the ark meant just what anyone would normally mean when boarding a ship.  Yet in 18:20 the meaning of the words suddenly transform into something completely different from what a plain reading gives. 
 
Another problem with your reply (assuming we are going to deal with the words on the page of 18:20 at all) is that when Jesus used the  word "always", "I have always taught" if he didn't mean "exclusively" then what he actually must have meant instead was "sometimes."  That is, sometimes Jesus taught in the synagogues or temple, and sometimes he taught elsewhere.  This raises the question that if Jesus didn't mean he exclusively taught in the synagogues or at the temple then why didn't he use the word "sometimes?"  Jesus was on trial.  In a trial distinctions such as this one matter, and he obviously would have be aware of this.  So this couldn't have been an occasion where he was speaking loosely or casually.  This also raises the question that if Jesus did ever want on some occasion to say "exclusively" what other word than "always" would have been a better one to have used?  The original language of Jesus must have had terms capturing the distinction between always (exclusively) and sometimes.  Yet the upshot of your interpretation is that it effectively wipes out the distinction between the concepts "exclusively" versus "sometimes," which is ridiculous.
Given that his supporters are the ones who wrote the accounts of his work, and that no one really suggests they were mentally handicapped, if they were perpetuating a fraud they would not include a glaring contradiction--so the meaning you appear to consider the only possible meaning is even less likely. 

Though not necessarily stupid, Jesus' followers were his uneducated disciples, so they might be expected to overlook or rationalize such inconsistencies that could have occurred, separated from each other over a period of months.  Outsiders, such as the high priest, wouldn't necessarily have been aware of the inconsistency because they weren't closely monitoring Jesus' every word and action.  When later writers wrote down their account of the trial possibly they simply didn't notice the problem.  If you find these speculations strained at least they don't require rewriting the meaning of the Biblical text as your interpretation seems to, apparently jettisoning the authority of the text to preserve its purported inerrancy. 
 
If someone can argue that such plain statements as these mean something different than what their words clearly say on the basis that "they couldn't have been that stupid" then any possible contradiction found in the Bible can be handled in a similar fashion.  This is circular reasoning.  Here is an extreme analogy to drive the point home: John gets a 50% on a math test.  But John's teacher "knows" John is brilliant, and so couldn't have made these mistakes.  So the teacher examines each problem and finds some way of interpreting each and every one of John's answers non-literally, such that all of them come out as correct.  Of course, since John now got a 100% on the test he is brilliant!  The problem with this sort of circular reasoning is that any student by this method can be proven to be brilliant, just as any religion can be proven to be inerrant.  Your interpretation renders trivial claims of inerrancy by Biblical defenders, and so guts this argument of probative value for any divine mandate.  Of course there are no contradictions in the Bible as far as you’re concerned.  The way you interpret it, there couldn't be.  Given the number of apparent mistakes I've presented to you over these emails, I'm not willing at this point to put much trust in the credibility of an argument that depends on the premise that Jesus and his disciples had such a profound knowledge of the Bible that they couldn't have made such mistakes.
Is it not far more reasonable to take the cue from Jesus's first sentence:  "I have spoken openly to the world"?  In the sentences following, in verse 21, Jesus challenges the high priest to call as witnesses those who heard him teach. He's saying he has nothing to hide, and nothing he has hidden. (Emphasis added)
 
If I understand you here, you seem to think that somehow if Jesus was innocent of fomenting conspiracies and inappropriately keeping secrets this solves the problem here.  But, I'm sorry to say, that as far as I can see this isn't correct, which unfortunately makes your comments here a red herring.  There is a big difference between "take the cue" versus rewrite the text.  Imagine any other group of speakers faced with words and facts analogous to those presented to us here.  Suppose I was asked in court, "Did you take that gun from that drawer." and I said, "No, I did not."  Later on evidence well beyond a reasonable doubt shows I did take that gun from that drawer.  I then argue that I did nothing wrong, and in fact, given the context, had an excellent justification for taking it.  Let's assume that's true.  But the fact still remains that I lied in court because the meaning of the words in my answer don't change because I was justified.  While for a normal person the justifications for my actions might be greatly mitigating, if not exculpatory, for any judgment the court might make regarding my lie; this doesn't solve the problem in the case of Jesus possibly lying here, because the authority of the New Testament is at stake.
 
Reading the full exchange, verses 19-23, the clear meaning is that Jesus had nothing to hide, and (key to the issue for which he was on trial) he hadn't engaged in a conspiracy. What he had to say, he said openly and in public, no sedition, no conspiracy.  (Emphasis added)
 
Certainly this was part of his message.  But just because this was the overarching message it doesn't dissolve the language found in 18:20.  If I understand you, you seem to be arguing that the context of 18:20 changes its meaning.   If this is what you're arguing, I agree that context obviously can definitely and dramatically change the meaning of an isolated statement.  And this is why context must always be considered.  For example, if I'm quoting Bill and I say "Bill said, "I am a communist."   Taking those words out of context would imply that I stated that I personally was a communist. This would be completely misleading and unfair because I was quoting someone else and not asserting my own opinion.  Of course, whether or not context changes the meaning of part of a text, and how it changes it, must be judged on a case by case basis.  So let's take a look at John 18:19-23
 
John 18:19-23 (New Revised Standard w/ Apocrypha)
19 Then the high priest questioned Jesus about his disciples and about his teaching. 20 Jesus answered, "I have spoken openly to the world; I have always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where all the Jews come together. I have said nothing in secret. 21 Why do you ask me? Ask those who heard what I said to them; they know what I said." 22 When he had said this, one of the police standing nearby struck Jesus on the face, saying, "Is that how you answer the high priest?" 23 Jesus answered, "If I have spoken wrongly, testify to the wrong. But if I have spoken rightly, why do you strike me?"
 
In my prior example of my taking that gun from that drawer if I had argued that the context of my answer somehow changed my "No, I did not." into a "Yes, I did." I'd expect that the court would at the very least want me to explain how it did this.  So exactly how does the context of 18:19-23 change "I have always taught in synagogues and in the temple." (claims about a person, an activity, a frequency, and places) into something like, "I have nothing to hide, have spoken openly, and haven't engaged in a conspiracy." (claims about a person in a state of innocence, a mode of communication, and a lack of a secret organized cabal)?  Without an explanation it appears that your interpretation seems to treat the "context" as some kind of vague principle that somehow transforms the meanings of statements - one to another - as you think necessary.  In short, this transformation makes no sense to me.  Since I simply don't see how the surrounding text changes the meaning of the claims found in John 18:20 I don't see how the context helps your case.  If your interpretation was legitimate then the very concept of a lie contained in the 9th commandment against bearing false witness would be largely, if not entirely, gutted, since this would make possible linguistic gamesmanship such that virtually any claim of fact could be transformed by some sort of appeal to context.  "Well, my "no" meant "yes" because I was justified in doing whatever it was I did, and I talked about other topics before and after I said this, which further fleshed out my meaning in some ill-defined way."  This would be preposterous. 
 
Coming back to a point I touched on earlier, let's assume for the moment that it's all true that Jesus had nothing to hide; he had spoken openly, and hadn't engaged in a conspiracy.  (Later on I will argue that this actually isn't true.)  Furthermore, let's assume that anything and everything Jesus taught, whenever and wherever he taught it, had also been repeated in the synagogues and in the temple.  As I said the issue is that these assumptions don't get us out of the problem.  You are arguing that what Jesus really meant was something different from what his words in 18:20 meant.  That is, what he really meant in 18:20 was what his words implied about his speaking openly, etc. But simply because a statement might possibly imply another statement this doesn't allow us to conclude that the two statements have the same meaning, or express the same factual claim.  These words cannot mean what you say they mean because for that to be the case the following two statements would have to be synonymous:

"I have always taught in synagogues and in the temple" 
means (and so could be fairly translated as)
"I haven't conspired, have spoken openly, and have nothing to hide."

It's fairly obvious to me that these two statements mean very different things (express different propositions) because the facts that might make each of them true or false are different.  Someone might have never taught in synagogues or in the temple, but still have spoken openly and have nothing to hide.  Or they indeed might have something to hide, yet have always and only taught in the synagogues or temple.  They just never talked about their secret(s).  Two statements can't mean the same thing if it's possible that simultaneously one can be true and the other can be false.  So they can't be substituted one for another even if in a given particular case they might happen to both be true.
 
The following summary is drawn from the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, and it is my construction of a "safe harbor" for a statement being a lie.  Philosophers have debated a number of reasons why we might not want to consider that something really is a lie.  For example, "If an insect uses camouflage to escape detection does that count as a lie?"  The following construction consists of taking all of the possible objections they list and obviating them.  So if none of those objections apply for a given statement then, unless there are objections these people haven't thought of, this would be a lie if ever there was one. Of course, I also apply this to 18:19-20.
 
Lie
(1) A mentally competent and sane person* must willfully and deliberately make a non-ambiguous and clear statement, which at that very moment they themselves clearly understand the meaning of, and which they advance as true (they assert a proposition, i.e. a statement which can be judged true or false, as true.)  - Jesus said he always taught in synagogues and in the temple.
(2) The person believes the statement to be false (and it is in fact false) - From the Bible, we know that Jesus would have to have known it was false.
(3) There is no failure of their memory or reasoning regarding any relevant facts or considerations that might have - counter-factually - made the statement true.
(4) The statement is successfully communicated to another person, who is also mentally competent, sane, has no memory or reasoning failures in understanding at that moment both the import of the statement and its meaning. - The high priest was the person Jesus was talking to. 
(5) The first person intends that the second person believe the untruthful statement to be true. - What else could Jesus have intended?  Did he expect that the high priest would know that his statement wasn't true?
(6) The first person (A) intends the second person (B) to believe that the first person speaker (A) also believes the statement to be true. - Again, what else could Jesus have intended?
(7) Also, for (1) to be true, (A) must believe that there is some expression in a mutually understood language, using the conventional signs of that language, such that one of the standard uses of an expression in that language is that of expressing the relevant proposition made.
(8) Finally, that (A) believes that the specific expression that (A) uses express a proposition that meets the first seven conditions above, and in fact it does do so.
*Angels, God, Jesus, and other similar beings are also included in the class of "persons."
 
Summarizing Part I:
(1) Jesus can't/won't lie.
(2) But the Bible shows Jesus clearly lying in John 18:19-20 by a plain reading of the text.
Your interpretation, which holds that Jesus didn't lie at 18:20, creates the following problems.
(1) It raises the question of why didn't Jesus use the words of your interpretation at 18:20 instead of the ones he did use?
(2) Your interpretation makes the words in 18:20 largely redundant.
(3) Your interpretation denies the plain reading of the text.
(4) If we deal with the words at all, your interpretation requires that "always" means "sometimes."
(5) It's circular to argue that since Jesus and his disciples had such a profound knowledge of the Bible that they couldn't have made obvious mistakes, and then argue we know they had a profound knowledge of the Bible because we can deal with all their apparent mistakes by interpreting their language in non-literal fashion.
(6) Discussing the locations and frequency of an activity does not equate in meaning to Jesus' non-conspiracy, openness, and transparency. (although they are related in this text, and, depending on other facts, the one set of facts might indeed possibly imply the other)
(7) Even assuming Jesus had a perfect justification for saying what he did this doesn't help his case because this doesn't change the meaning of the words he used.  It's his truthfulness and sinlessness that's at stake here.
(8) If I understand you, saying that somehow context changes the meaning of the words in 18:20 is merely an assertion, and raises the obvious question of, Q. How does it do this?
(9) 18:20 can't be reasonably translated to mean, "I have spoken openly, have nothing to hide, and haven't conspired." because the two readings, the literal reading versus yours, have different facts that determine whether or not they are true.  Just because a statement might imply another statement in a give situation this does not allow us to conclude that they have the same linguistic meaning.
(10) Jesus' statement in 18:20 fits the safe harbor definition of a lie.
---------------------------------------
As if the above wasn't enough, the following is, if anything, even more clearly a lie.  In 18:20 Jesus also said "I have said nothing in secret."
 
(1) 5. John 18:19-20
19 Then the high priest questioned Jesus about his disciples and about his teaching. 20 Jesus answered, "I have spoken openly to the world; I have always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where all the Jews come together. I have said nothing in secret."
 
(2) Mark 4:10-12
10 When he was alone, those who were around him along with the twelve asked him about the parables. 11 And he said to them, "To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside, everything comes in parables; 12 in order that "they may indeed look, but not perceive, and may indeed listen, but not understand; so that they may not turn again and be forgiven.' "

http://www.biblestudytools.com/nrsa/mark/passage.aspx?q=mark+4:10-12

Luke 10:23-24
23 Then turning to the disciples, Jesus said to them privately, "Blessed are the eyes that see what you see! 24 For I tell you that many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, but did not see it, and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it."
http://www.biblestudytools.com/nrsa/luke/passage.aspx?q=luke+10:23-24

Matt 13:36-42
36 Then he left the crowds and went into the house. And his disciples approached him, saying, "Explain to us the parable of the weeds of the field." 37 He answered, "The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man; 38 the field is the world, and the good seed are the children of the kingdom; the weeds are the children of the evil one, 39 and the enemy who sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels. 40 Just as the weeds are collected and burned up with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. 41 The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will collect out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all evildoers, 42 and they will throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
http://www.biblestudytools.com/nrsa/matthew/passage.aspx?q=matthew+13:36-42
 
The second point you make is about speaking secretly. This isn't the same as speaking privately. The word translated "secretly" is kruptos, meaning concealed, from a root meaning to cover or hide. The word translated "privately" is idios, meaning self or one's own, and by implication private or separate. Jesus certainly did instruct his disciples privately, which would be true of any teacher, and his accusers (who knew his students called him rabbi or teacher) wouldn't have any expectation that there was zero private conversation. A student comes after class to ask for explanation, and the teacher gives it. But far from being the seditious conspirator the authorities tried to make him, he had nothing to hide, and didn't teach secretly, concealing his teaching.

The distinction between privately and secretly you are arguing for is not supported by the text of Mark 4:10-12.  Religious teaching by a prophet critical to salvation simply isn't a private matter.  The question the high priest asked was about Jesus' teaching, and so his answer would have been also.  In Mark 4:10-12 Jesus clearly says that he is deliberately keeping secrets from those outside, that is, he is concealing some of the message of his teaching so that outsiders will "not understand."  And this particular teaching he is talking about must be related to their religious beliefs since he says, "so that they may not turn again and be forgiven."  The deliberate act of hiding some of the truth of his religious teaching, confusing people so they will listen but not understand, while yet telling his disciples the plain truth is a completely clear case of his concealing his religious teaching.  Since he said, "I have said nothing in secret." this means that if he used parables to confuse people so they would not understand about any parts at any time of his clear and straightforward religious teaching to his disciples he was lying.  Only certain people were given the secret of the kingdom of God, others were deliberately confused.  This means he was teaching in secret and hiding things from others.
 
Mark 4:10-12 shows that Jesus was discussing information related to salvation.  If Jesus had been teaching information to his disciples that he wasn't sharing with outsiders regarding a plan to overthrow the government that certainly would have been teaching in secret.  So if people understand that a plan to overthrow the government taught in private between people would have been "teaching in secret" then it's absurd to say that it wasn't "teaching in secret" when the infinitely greater issue of salvation was at stake, and this would be especially true in a religious court before the high priest.  Why would the concept of secret teaching in a religious court be legitimate to apply to a secret plan to overthrow the government, but not be legitimate to apply to a situation where salvation was at stake?  As I said above, religious teaching by a prophet critical to salvation simply isn't a private matter.  If something like this could be regarded as "private" vs. "secret" then the concept of secret teaching would be dissolved into nothingness. 
 
Also, the very statement itself Jesus made in Mark 4:10-12 raises the same problem.  In this statement Jesus told his disciples that he was deliberately speaking in confusing parables so that outsiders would not turn and be forgiven.  Here Jesus was explaining his use of religious parables versus his use of clear straightforward language.  This was meta-commentary on his religious teaching, telling his disciples how to make sense of his changing use of language with different audiences.  If today a teacher came into a classroom and informed the class about how he would be presenting the material over the semester, he would be telling his students something that was important for their understanding the nature and context of his presentation, and so their success in the class.  This would be teaching. Likewise, that very message in Mark 4:10-12 was teaching.  The problem this presents is that it would be ridiculous to suggest outsiders would have been told about how they had been left out of this conversation.  Since this statement was teaching and outsiders wouldn't have been told of it, this message shows that Jesus lied in two ways. First, Mark 4:10-12 is a statement about other teaching by Jesus that had been, at least at some point, kept secret.  Second, this statement itself is an example of something he taught and then kept secret.
 
I think it's very important to note here that this also means that even if I accepted your interpretation of 18:20 in part one, approximately translated as "I have spoken openly, haven't conspired, and have nothing to hide." at least some of these claims were false.  They were false because Jesus did have things to hide, and did not always speak openly about very important information related to salvation.  So even if I accepted your interpretation, since some of these claims were false, Jesus still would have lied in 18:20.
 
Summarizing Part II:
(1) According to Mark 4:10-12 only certain people were given the secret of the kingdom of God, others were deliberately confused.  Religious teaching by a prophet critical to salvation simply isn't a private matter.  This means Jesus was teaching in secret and hiding things from others.  Saying otherwise raises the question of why would the concept of secret teaching be legitimate regarding government overthrow, but not regarding salvation, when Jesus was being tried in a religious court?
(2) It would be ridiculous to believe that outsiders would have been told about how they had been left out of the loop, so this is also an example of something Jesus taught and then kept secret.
(3) Even if I accepted your interpretation of 18:20 in part I, since (given part II: 1 & 2) some of the claims 18:20 makes, under your interpretation, are actually false, Jesus still would have lied in 18:20.
 
(1) Q. How can you justify your interpretation as a plain text reading of these passages?
(2) Q. If we deal with the language of the text at all, your interpretation requires that "always" means "sometimes."  How can you justify this?
(3) Q. If what Jesus really meant was that he had spoken openly, hadn't conspired, and had nothing to hide then why didn't he simply use those words that would have clearly conveyed this very meaning? "I have spoken openly, haven't conspired, and have nothing to hide." instead of the words he did use, "I have always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where all the Jews come together."
 (4) Q. If I'm understanding you, saying that somehow context changes the meaning of the words in 18:20 is a mere assertion, and raises the obvious question, exactly how does the context of 18:19-23 change "I have always taught in synagogues and in the temple" (a claim about a person, an activity, a frequency, and places) into something like, "I have nothing to hide, have spoken openly, and haven't engaged in a conspiracy (a claim about a person, a manner of speaking, a state of innocence, and a lack of a secret organized cabal)?"
(5) Q. Why would the concept of secret teaching be legitimate regarding government overthrow, but not, in a religious court, regarding information critical to salvation?
(6) Q. Do you believe outsiders were told they were kept out of the loop, and, if so, why do you believe this?   If not, why isn't Jesus' statement in Mark 4:10-12 secret teaching?
(7) Q. Even if I accepted your interpretation of 18:20 - no conspiracy, spoke openly and had nothing to hide - given that Jesus taught in Mark 4:10-12 "they may indeed look, but not perceive, and may indeed listen, but not understand; so that they may not turn again and be forgiven." why wouldn't his statement in 18:20 still be a lie?
(8) Q. If Biblical language is this tractable in meaning, this would mean that any other religion's text could be similarly "proven" to be inerrant.  How then can the textual inerrancy argument provide credible evidence for the Bible's divine inspiration?
(9) Q. If Jesus lied here how can we be certain he didn't lie in other places?  So how can we trust whatever else he said? 

(10) Q. To tell a lie, especially when testifying during a trial, is a sin, and violates the 9th commandment.  Therefore Jesus sinned.  This means Jesus isn't perfect; so how could he have been the son of God?



#2 Charles81

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Posted 25 November 2014 - 08:50 PM

After thinking a bit more about this, and perhaps beating a dead horse here, the high priest, in a religious court, was questioning a prophet of God who was on trial about his teaching.  The scope of the high priest’s questions must have included Jesus’ religious teaching, which was the vast bulk of what Jesus taught.  Central to religious teaching is the question of salvation; what must one believe or do to be saved?  We see in Mark 4:10-12 that Jesus wasn’t sharing certain crucial information regarding salvation with outsiders.  So a prophet of God wasn’t sharing religious information that bore crucially on the issue of salvation with outsiders, and when he was asked about his teaching you believe he answered truthfully when he testified he had, “said nothing in secret” because this wasn’t secret, but private.  So under your interpretation it seems that Jesus could have justifiably said to the high priest, “Yes, I’m a prophet of God, but what I've taught on religious topics regarding salvation isn’t any of your (or anyone else’s) business.  It’s private.  But I have said nothing in secret.”  Q. Do you believe this?

 

This raises the obvious question, what is the nature of the distinction you are drawing between “secret” vs. “private?”  Although you did provide some support for your position above, could you please provide additional evidence for it?  My understanding of “private” is that this would involve information that did not affect outsider’s legitimate interests and concerns.  “Secret,” on the other hand, would involve information that did affect outsider’s legitimate interests and concerns.  Perhaps the Bible provides a different distinction between these terms than I do?  I’d appreciate citations to any of the Bible’s distinction on this, along with these term’s definitions (again with citations).  If you can’t provide these I think what you've said so far is inadequate.  I believe that since salvation does affect outsider’s legitimate interests and concerns, a prophet who preaches on salvation, while withholding information critical to salvation, is keeping secrets.

 

A religious prophet is preaching on salvation while at the same time he is also withholding information from outsiders that is crucial to salvation.  If this isn’t secret teaching then I can hardly imagine what would be.  So if you are correct this would effectively make secret teaching into an empty category.  This would be absurd, since Jesus’ answer, “I have said nothing in secret” wouldn’t make sense because then there would be no such thing as secret teaching.  Jesus would have been denying something that could never have happened.  Assuming Jesus didn’t make empty declarations there must exist such a thing as secret teaching.  And if there is such a thing then as far as I can see Mark 4:10-12 is a completely clear case of it.

 

(11) Q. If the Bible supplies a different understanding of secret vs. private teaching could you please provide citations for this this, along with their definitions from the Bible?

(12) Q. If the Bible does not do so, could you please explain what is wrong with my reasoning here?

(13) Q. If you believe that the concept of secret teaching regarding salvation isn’t legitimate can you please provide other examples where it would apply?  Please explain why it would apply to those cases, but not this one.

(14) Q. Do you believe that Jesus could have justifiably said to the high priest, “Yes, I’m a prophet of God, but what I have taught on religious topics regarding salvation isn’t any of your (or anyone else’s) business.  It’s private. But I have said nothing in secret.”?



#3 Charles81

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Posted 26 November 2014 - 12:40 AM

The second point you make is about speaking secretly. This isn't the same as speaking privately. The word translated "secretly" is kruptos, meaning concealed, from a root meaning to cover or hide. The word translated "privately" is idios, meaning self or one's own, and by implication private or separate. Jesus certainly did instruct his disciples privately, which would be true of any teacher, and his accusers (who knew his students called him rabbi or teacher) wouldn't have any expectation that there was zero private conversation. A student comes after class to ask for explanation, and the teacher gives it. But far from being the seditious conspirator the authorities tried to make him, he had nothing to hide, and didn't teach secretly, concealing his teaching.

 

Beating more dead horses... Here's my understanding of what you've said here.

 

Secret means concealed, covered, or hidden. (I agree.)

Private means one's own, or separate. (I agree.)

Jesus did instruct his disciples privately on some occasions. (I agree.)

...he had nothing to hide, and didn't teach secretly, concealing his teaching. (??Just how did you deduce that from these premises??)

 

Just because Jesus certainly did teach his disciples privately on some occasions this does not allow us to conclude that in this specific case that this was private, rather than secret, teaching.  This is a false choice because his teaching in private on some occasions does not allow us to conclude he never taught in secret on others.  Obviously, the one does not exclude the other.  Your statement at the end "he had nothing to hide, and didn't teach secretly, concealing his teaching." rather than flowing out of your argument is a mere assertion, and is actually what we are trying to determine.  If you mean to suggest that somehow these definitions and the fact that sometimes Jesus taught privately clearly demonstrate that he was teaching privately in this particular case I don't have the vaguest idea how you draw that conclusion, and so this looks like a straightforward non-sequitur to me.  As far as I can see, if the facts before us and definitions you've provided do anything, they actually support this being a case of secret teaching.  Jesus was sent to save other people, so his mission was, to a great degree, a public/social task that he was engaged in.  So not providing information crucial to the salvation of others doesn't seem to be the sort of thing one would describe as "one's own," as in one’s own private affairs.  Instead this seems more along the lines of hiding information that has a very large public/social component, as well as impact on other people’s fates. 
 

Q. How does the fact that Jesus sometimes taught privately lead to the conclusion that therefore he never taught secretly?

Q. How does the fact that Jesus sometimes taught privately lead to the conclusion that he taught privately in this particular case?



#4 Charles81

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Posted 13 May 2015 - 06:58 PM

One religious person (not a Christadelphian) defended John 18:19-23 in the following way:

 

"In John 18:19-23 Jesus didn't "lie" or violate the 9th commandment, even though what he said might not have been technically literally correct. This is because of the cultural context.  The high priest already knew that Jesus had taught outside. So what could Jesus have been saying?  He was saying he had taught openly/not hidden, and had not engaged in heresy, conspiracy, and/or sedition. The point of the 9th commandment was to not subvert justice, and Jesus was saying he hadn't subverted justice.  Jesus didn't lie because he hadn't subverted justice, and his statement would have been understood by the high priest as a true statement.  This was an idiomatic way of speaking that the high priest would have understood as such."

 

"Cultures are different and change, so misunderstandings inevitably happen.  Cultures change over time, with different idioms, metaphors, etc.  So obviously much of language isn't meant to be taken literally.  For examples we say, "You always say..." or "I've told you a million times..." Neither statement is literally true, but understood as (hyperbolic) idioms."

 

I agree that if those people in that time period and culture would have used these sorts of statements by Jesus (18:19-20) in idiomatic ways in a trial this does indeed solve the problem.  But to avoid the problem of this argument merely being an ad hoc speculation (a just-so speculative story made-up simply to make the problem go away) I need to see textual evidence from that time and culture that people did in fact use statements like Jesus' in trials in such hyperbolic idiomatic ways as your argument claims.  

 

19 Then the high priest questioned Jesus about his disciples and about his teaching. 20 Jesus answered, "I have spoken openly to the world; I have always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where all the Jews come together. I have said nothing in secret."
 

Q. What textual evidence do we have that people used the language found in John 18:20 in an idiomatic hyperbolic fashion that it would have been used in a trial?

 
 


#5 Doug Brents

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Posted 20 April 2017 - 02:56 PM

There are obvious limitations on the word "always".  For Jesus as a man, it could not have meant "since the beginning of time", because Jesus the man had not lived since the beginning of time.  It could not have meant "every hour of every day since I was born", because in His youth He did not teach at all, but Himself learned.  It could not have meant "every hour of every day since I began my ministry", because He traveled from town to town all over the area.  These could all be valid interpretations of the word "always", but all of them are incomparable with the known truth about Jesus.  So we have to use an educated, logical, Spirit driven understanding of the context to determine what Jesus meant in this statement. 

 

The most probable meaning of "always" in this passage is that every time He was near the Temple or a synagogue, especially on the Sabbath, Jesus taught there.  He was not "always" in or near a synagogue, but whenever He was, He "always" taught there.  The priest would have know this fact, because he had some of his followers following Jesus to try to catch Him up in His message and find reason to accuse Him.  It is also not unheard of for a person to restate the same thing in several different ways, as Jesus does here.  "I spoke openly to the world. I always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where the Jews always meet, and in secret I have said nothing."  Notice that Jesus says the Jews "always" meet in the synagogues and Temple, but don't they also meet at the market, or in their homes, or on the road?  Do they "always" meet "ONLY" in the synagogues and Temple?  NO!  So it is inappropriate to put a tighter bond on His first usage of "always" than we do on the second usage.



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Posted 23 April 2017 - 02:05 AM

Charles81 - Doug's response brought these comments to mind:
 

THE NEW ENGLISH BIBLE (2)
 
THERE is no doubt that the English language has changed. Unlike many other languages, our own tends to retain its written forms even when its pronunciation has undergone profound change, and one of the results of this is that attempts to teach children phonetically usually have little tangible result other than the production of bad spelling. Another result, however, is that the changes in our own language have, over some hundreds of years now, been considerably less rapid and far reaching than they have in some others. If (as in the Scandinavian languages and Dutch, for example) the orthography is altered at regular intervals as the great public changes its mind how it wants to pronounce its words, there may be a closer correspondence between the written and the spoken language, but there is much less correspondence between past and present. A writer of a century ago may well be incomprehensible unless rewritten, in some lands, but it is not so in ours. It may well be, indeed, that the Authorized Version has had some part in maintaining this conservativeness of the written word, but if this is so it is a cause for hearty gratitude. It means that we understand the past, from Shakespeare on at least, infinitely better than we should have done without this Version; and it also means that, if this sheet-anchor with a great period were to be torn up, we might find all our classics within a generation become foreign to us. The danger is real enough as it is, but we could make it much more pressing by misguided reforms (as they might be called).
 
But, it might properly be said, there is no point in pinning our trust on a Version which is no longer comprehensible to the common man. And no doubt this is true. But it is pertinent to enquire: To what kind of common man are we referring? Is it to the common man who can understanding nothing more subtle than “How come?” and “Wadayeknow?” For, if so, you can do nothing for him other than to rewrite such parts of the Scripture as are amenable to it in pidgin English. Yet is it not, in fact, to that kind of attitude that the current translators have slightly pandered, when they render one of the loveliest passages in Scripture—which has become one of the loveliest passages in timeless English, as “I may dole out all I possess”1 instead of “Though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor”? Even Moffatt, supposing him to have been tempted at all in the same direction, wrote only: “I may distribute all I possess in charity”; and against this the major complaint is only this, that he takes “charity”, which our Authorized Version uses for quite different purposes, and equates it with almsgiving. But this is quite trivial compared with the glaring crudity offered to us by the new translation. No new knowledge demanded this; even the strictly literal, “If I give away in food all my goods”, or, “If I give away morsel by morsel into the very mouths of others all my goods”, does not warrant this appalling lapse from good taste. The cream of 20th century scholarship cuts a squalid figure when it takes us from the thoroughgoing (though bootless because loveless) scattering of all he possesses by the man Paul would not be, and leads us to the bread-line and the carefully calculated distribution of some of our national wealth to the unemployed.


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Posted 23 April 2017 - 02:05 AM

 
If it is not this kind of common man, though, to whom we would make the Scriptures intelligible (not because we would not, but because in general he will have nothing of our efforts), then it is presumably the seeker of limited scholarly means and homely tongue, but truly anxious to be taught, whom we would help with our up-to-date translation. This must certainly be done, as far as it can be done, and it must, at least in some degree, be done by eliminating from some version of the Bible anything which is avoidably too difficult in language. That was the object of the Revisers of the American Standard Version, and it is commonly judged that the object was largely attained.
 
But we ought certainly not either to exaggerate the seriousness of the problem, or to use its existence as an occasion for regrettable innovations.
 
As to the seriousness, altogether too much is made of it. It seems to be automatically assumed that, as soon as mention is made of the difficulties of the language of the Authorized Version, the lovers of that translation will concede the point, and content themselves with a rearguard action designed to save that venerable but incomprehensible volume from total extinction. And that there is absolutely no occasion to do.
 
I open my King James Bible, for example, at the Gospel of Mark, and decide that I will halt as soon as I come to a word which would puzzle my ten- and twelve-year old children. I note “thy” and “thee” for further reference; I comment inwardly that “repentance” is not such an easy word as some people might think, but that, since the New English Version has not changed it there is no need for me to be more critical of it than they; I mark “Ghost” as a word which has become so altered in meaning in our days that the substitution of “Spirit” is prudent; “Satan” presents a problem of exposition, but is as translation treated by the New English Bible just as King James’s men treated it. But the more I read, the more I say to myself: “There are no difficulties here at all. Somewhere we shall find them, no doubt, but it is nonsense to speak of the language of the Old Version, considered simply as language, as though it was a foreign tongue to our generation. Someone has been engaging in the practice of giving a dog a bad name, and it is time that someone called his bluff!”
 
Grant the emendation of “Ghost” to “Spirit” (in which, as every Christadelphian who has ever followed the tradition of his fathers in reading the Bible aloud could have told them, the translators of the 1961 version were by no means original), and all we have left is the “thy” and the “thee”.
 
Now in this matter, the recent development of the English tongue has taken a direction which is very much to be regretted. Most languages have developed alternative forms of the second person for polite and familiar use. The French say “tu” to their children and “vous” to their betters and their unfamiliar equals. The Germans say “du” to the former and “Sie” to the latter. The Russians say “ty” and “my” in similar senses. And our forefathers used to say “thou” and “you”. A plural form has been taken over in all these languages to express polite address, but the distinctive singular form has been preserved for ordinary commerce with ones familiars. We, apparently alone, have let “thou” get so rusty that we are in danger of forgetting what it means, or else associating it only with chimney-pot hats or broad Yorkshire. And our loss is profound. For where all the others know perfectly well that, in the slightly more formal language of their Scriptures, “thou” means “you in the singular”, while “ye” means “you in the plural”—used as subject, while “thee” and “you” mean the same used as object, we are in danger of letting the distinction go. As a result, while our old version can say, with perfect clarity, “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you (meaning all of the disciples), that he may sift you as wheat, but I have prayed for thee (meaning Peter personally) that thy faith fail not” (Luke 22:31–32), our new version has to find some other way out of the difficulty, and offers: “Satan has been given leave to sift all of you like wheat; but for you I have prayed that your faith may not fail; and when you have come to yourself, you must lend strength to your brothers.”
 
In this extract, an extra half verse has been reproduced to let it make itself plain. But that extra half verse was necessary, and even the best that can be said for it, can be no better than the claim that, if you read it hard enough, you get the right idea. Of course, it is not always thus: the New Version does clarify many a point, but this is so palpably what everybody had a right to expect of it that, when it fails or only clumsily succeeds in maintaining a meaning which was plain before, we have a right to complain.


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Posted 23 April 2017 - 02:06 AM

The question must be asked: Is the sequence THOU-THEE-THY-THINE comprehensible to our generation, or is it not? If it is not, then something must be done about it. If it is, there are palpable advantages in the way of retaining it, even if we cannot reintroduce it into our everyday speech. But one situation is intolerable: if it is not comprehensible, we must not use it at all. Yet our translators have, very understandably, declined to abandon it when God is addressed or discussed, and if ever children and congregations are taught to memorize the words of the new form of the Lord’s prayer, they will say,
 
    “Thy name be hallowed;
      Thy kingdom come;
      Thy will be done;”
 
and (if they carry their traditions far enough to include the footnote),
 
    “Thine is the Kingdom”.
 
This is an indictment of the Revised Standard Version as well, of course, but the indictment must be made wherever it applies: the whole case has been conceded by the retention of the singular form for the Father; there was no sufficient reason for abandoning it for all the other cases where the original scriptures used it. It could have been understood as well in the other cases as in the one. If our translators want us to think of God as near to His chosen, then they lost their grip on their objectives when they retained this form of pronoun for Him alone, and so severed Him from all the others who, in the Scriptures, bear the same form. It is even questionable whether, simply as an act of translation, it is justifiable to introduce a distinction which is not there in the original language, especially when it involves us in concealing a distinction which is there as soon as we come to the singular and plural “you” of our ordinary speech.
 
But the Mark reference with which we commenced to examine whether the King James version is comprehensible or not, provides an occasion for opening up another theme. Our version reads: “And straightway on the sabbath day he entered into the synagogue and taught” (Mark 1:21). The New English Bible substitutes: “On the sabbath he went to synagogue and began to teach”. Lest it should be thought that “went to synagogue” is given so as to render faithfully a word without the article in the Greek, let it be said at once that the article is there in the Greek and has been omitted by the translators. Their reasons stand out perfectly plain: men and women in these days “go to church” as a matter of habit, in so far as the habit persists; therefore let us say that “Jesus went to synagogue” and it will sound nice and homely. But it sounds too homely: Jesus no more “went to synagogue” than he went to Temple or went to Cross. His small acts were as deliberate as his big ones, and what he did was to enter into the Synagogue and set about using his opportunities. It is a mean little cliché which we are offered in exchange for the decisive (not to say urgent, for there is a “straightway” in the A.V. which is unaccountably, and apparently quite wrongly, absent from the N.E.B.). The new translators carry on their policy doggedly even when it involves them in rendering parallel phrases in different ways, so that Jesus is made to say to the High Priest, “I have always taught in synagogue and in the temple”, in spite of the homogeneous form of the Greek en tō sunagōgē kai en tō hierō (John 18:20).
 
In fact, it seems to have been the translators’ watchword, “So as to make the man in the street feel quite at home, when in doubt, use a cliché!” We take up this theme in the third article.
 
A. D. NORRIS.
 
(1961). The Christadelphian, 98 (electronic ed.), 199–201.


#9 Charles81

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Posted 01 May 2017 - 10:17 PM

I'm somewhat surprised by these responses since it's been about 2 years since I posted my last ones, and since I rarely check this site it's lucky I ran across them at all.  I'd considered not responding since I suspect that this might be a waste of time for everyone, but since this is a serious attempt to answer my question I think it deserves a response.
 
"every time He was near the Temple or a synagogue, especially on the Sabbath, Jesus taught there."
 
Obviously Jesus didn't qualify his statement using direct language in this way so your argument depends on the assumption that this qualification would have been implicitly understood by the court in a similar fashion to the other cases you list.  The problem this raises is that in the other examples that you list there are clearly understood facts about how humans live that allow the conclusions you draw, and therefore obviate the other possibilities you first suggest and then rightly dismiss.  But there isn't a parallel here.  There are no similar clearly understood facts about the way humans live that obviate the possible understanding that Jesus was claiming he exclusivity taught in the Temple or a synagogue and never anywhere else.  What is it about the human condition that would parallel the other cases you cite and imply that Jesus couldn't have meant he exclusively taught in those places?  Nothing. 
 
"I spoke openly to the world. I always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where the Jews always meet, and in secret I have said nothing."
 
I believe that the passage you cite is from the NKJV. Here is a more complete quote: 
 
John 18:19-21 New King James Version (NKJV)
Jesus Questioned by the High Priest
19 The high priest then asked Jesus about His disciples and His doctrine.
20 Jesus answered him, “I spoke openly to the world. I always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where the Jews always meet,[a] and in secret I have said nothing. 21 Why do you ask Me? Ask those who have heard Me what I said to them. Indeed they know what I said.”
 
Next, I think there are at least two types of context we need to consider here.  The first is the one you point to, the immediate sentence in which the word "always" as in "where the Jews always meet" occurs.  The second is the more general context of Jesus' trial for blasphemy. (More on this second context below.)  Since your argument depends on the parallel uses and extent of the bonds of the repeated use of "always" in, "I always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where the Jews always meet," it's important that the translation we're using is as accurate as possible.  I looked up John 18:20 on Bible Gateway.  https://www.biblegat...e/en/John 18:20   Of the 56 translations of the Bible listed there, 9 use the repeated word "always"  KJ21, BRG, KJV, AKJV, MEV, NKJV, WEB, WE, YLT, and 4 use some sort of equivalent to "always" AMP, AMPC, GNV, NLV. 
 
So that works out to 13 out of 56, or  23.2%.
 
When I then looked up which version of the Bible the scholars consider the most accurate it was the NRSV.
 
The New Revised Standard Version was translated by the Division of Christian Education (now Bible Translation and Utilization) of the National Council of Churches. The group included scholars representing Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant Christian groups as well as Jewish representation in the group responsible for the Hebrew Scriptures or Old Testament. The mandate given the committee was summarized in a dictum: “As literal as possible, as free as necessary.”[3]
The New Revised Standard Version is the version most commonly preferred by biblical scholars and used in the most influential publications in the field.[5]
 
The NRSV does not have the second "always," and so it accords with the 76.8% of the Bibles that don't have this word "always" or its equivalent.
 
John 18:20 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
20 Jesus answered, “I have spoken openly to the world; I have always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where all the Jews come together. I have said nothing in secret.
 
Given this, I can't put too much stock in your argument that, "So it is inappropriate to put a tighter bond on His first usage of "always" than we do on the second usage." because the large majority of translations, including the translation most respected by scholars, don't have this second use of "always." 
 
Note: Even if 100% of the translations did indeed have the second use of "always" I'd still not be certain of how much stock to put in this argument.  The principle of a parallel in degree of binding isn't a principle I've run across before, and so I currently don't know what to think of it.  However, in this case, since the second use of "always" is only used by a minority of translations, and not the one most respected by scholars, I think that this point is largely moot.
 
See also:
"From the first complete translation of the English Bible in 1382 (normally attributed to John Wycliffe-c1330-1384), there are today literally hundreds of English translations of the Bible. These translations, normally called versions, are usually directly translated from the original languages of the Bible, namely Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek. Yet not all the translations are equally reliable. To understand this we need to know that there are two basic issues in translations:
  • The source documents. As there is not a single extant original (or autograph) copy of any of the books in the Bible, the reliability of the translation is affected directly by the quality of the source documents. For instance, the King James Version, or Authorized Version, or KJV for short, which was first published in 1611, is no longer considered reliable since it was not based on ancient texts. Modern versions are based on newly discovered, more ancient texts and well as scientific textual studies. So in general, more modern versions are more reliable than older ones.[1]
  • As fundamentalism grows, the second issue, that of theological preconception becomes very important.This is what we will be looking at in depth on this page.

The most reliable English translation of the Bible today has to be the New Revised Standard Version, or NRSV, published in 1990 It took into account all the major source texts, including the Biblia Hebraica (the massoretic text), the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Greek New Testament published by the United Bible Societies. More importantly the translation was done by scholars from various denominations (Catholic, Protestant, Anglican and Orthodox) and even include Jewish scholars. Thus there was no theological axe grinding in its translation. Of course, other good versions abound; examples include the Revised Standard Version (RSV) which is the precursor of the NRSV, the Good News Bible and the New English Bible (NEB)." http://www.rejectionofpascalswager.net/text.html

 

So far as I can currently see, there is no strong affirmative reason(s) to interpret Jesus' statement as you have (except if we assume Jesus was perfect, which is the issue in question here, and so would be begging the question). 
 
Regarding the second type of context that I mentioned above, the reason I think that it is indeed necessary to place a tighter bond on Jesus' statement is that if such a bond is not placed then his statement makes no sense in that context as a legal defense against blasphemy. Jesus was charged with blasphemy, and he could refute the charge by claiming he had always and exclusively spoken in public, so any blasphemy would have had witnesses, which the court could not produce.  This is in fact Jesus' argument, as the next line makes very clear.
 
John 18:21 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
21 Why do you ask me? Ask those who heard what I said to them; they know what I said.”
 
For him to have said that, "Whenever I was near a Temple or a synagogue on the Sabbath I taught there," wouldn't have provided any evidence to the court about him not having taught secretly at other times.  As you have interpreted this line 20, 20 Jesus answered him, “I spoke openly to the world. I always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where the Jews always meet, it provides no support for the conclusion in  21"Why do you ask me? Ask those who heard what I said to them; they know what I said.” because the people in general couldn't be sure to have known all of what Jesus had taught/said if he had taught/said things at other times and not always in public.  If your interpretation is correct, then, while he might have gotten credit for effort for always teaching when he was near a synagogue or Temple, this would be a comparatively very minor side issue compared to the principle charge Jesus was facing.  If the court decided that he had committed blasphemy, the credit he would have gotten for his general diligence in teaching wouldn't have come within a mile of saving him.  If the court had decided that he hadn't committed blasphemy, the credit he would have gotten for his diligence in teaching would have been a comparatively minor point.
 
Your interpretation creates the following discontinuity in the flow of Jesus' argument.  As you interpret them, the meaning of Jesus' statements proceed as follows:
 
1 "I spoke openly to the world.(This is relevant to his not having taught in secret.)
2 "every time I was near the Temple or a synagogue, especially on the Sabbath, I taught there." (Not relevant to his not having taught in secret.  So it's not part of a defense against his having taught blasphemy, and therefore a different issue.)
"and in secret I have said nothing." (Again, this is relevant to his not having taught in secret.)
4 " Why do you ask me?  Ask those who hear what I said to them; they know what I said." (This is relevant to his not having taught in secret.)
 
So the first part of his statement denies the possibility of his having taught in secret. Then the second part makes a claim that would actually allow for his having taught elsewhere in secret.  So it doesn't address the issue of secret teaching or, by extension, blasphemy.  Then the third and fourth parts return to his defending himself by denying secret teaching and suggesting the court ask people to repeat what he taught.  Under your interpretation it makes little if any sense for Jesus to have thrown in that second part, especially at that particular point in the trial, which doesn't support his defense against blasphemy in any way.  In short, it does no work on this problem and so merely functions here as a distraction.  
 
Let's consider the passages with part two both included and removed.
 
Version A
1 "I spoke openly to the world.
2 "every time I was near the Temple or a synagogue, especially on the Sabbath, I taught there."
"and in secret I have said nothing."
4 " Why do you ask me?  Ask those who hear what I said to them; they know what I said."
 
Versus
 
Version B
1 "I spoke openly to the world.
"and in secret I have said nothing."
4 " Why do you ask me?  Ask those who hear what I said to them; they know what I said."
 
Under your interpretation what is lost if part 2 is removed from supporting the conclusion in part 4?  Nothing as far as I can tell.
 
Note: It is not that passage 2 is meaningless as you have interpreted it.  It's just in this particular set of passages it doesn't help with Jesus' argument against his having committed blasphemy.  Also, the absence of part 2 does not turn version B of the argument into a non-sequitur, because we can still infer from the twin facts that Jesus spoke openly to the world and that he never taught in secret that people in general would have known what he taught.  It's just the sort of claim in 2 as you understand it would have been misplaced, and so I would expect that it would have been placed in some other part of his arguments.   
 
In Summary
1 So far there's no good affirmative case for your interpretation.
  A The alternative interpretation to yours isn't forbidden by the facts of how humans live, as they are in your other examples.
  B The argument, which depends on the repeated use of "always," is very questionable, at best.  And so it cannot count for much.
2 Under your interpretation the statement in question (2 above) becomes relatively trivial and unrelated to the entire point of the trial. 
3 Your interpretation creates a misplaced discontinuity in the flow of Jesus' argument.
 
Because of all of the above considerations I think that it's reasonable to say that the burden of proof is on you to show that in those circumstances, to those people, that sort of language would have been understood as you suggest. 
 
Q. What additional evidence and arguments do you have from their writings, etc. showing that they would have understood Jesus' statement in the way you suggest?


#10 Charles81

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Posted 01 May 2017 - 11:07 PM

I should have made it clear that I was responding to Dough Brents' post.

 

Posted 20 April 2017 - 08:56 AM

There are obvious limitations on the word "always".  For Jesus as a man, it could not have meant "since the beginning of time", because Jesus the man had not lived since the beginning of time.  It could not have meant "every hour of every day since I was born", because in His youth He did not teach at all, but Himself learned.  It could not have meant "every hour of every day since I began my ministry", because He traveled from town to town all over the area.  These could all be valid interpretations of the word "always", but all of them are incomparable with the known truth about Jesus.  So we have to use an educated, logical, Spirit driven understanding of the context to determine what Jesus meant in this statement. 

 

The most probable meaning of "always" in this passage is that every time He was near the Temple or a synagogue, especially on the Sabbath, Jesus taught there.  He was not "always" in or near a synagogue, but whenever He was, He "always" taught there.  The priest would have know this fact, because he had some of his followers following Jesus to try to catch Him up in His message and find reason to accuse Him.  It is also not unheard of for a person to restate the same thing in several different ways, as Jesus does here.  "I spoke openly to the world. I always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where the Jews always meet, and in secret I have said nothing."  Notice that Jesus says the Jews "always" meet in the synagogues and Temple, but don't they also meet at the market, or in their homes, or on the road?  Do they "always" meet "ONLY" in the synagogues and Temple?  NO!  So it is inappropriate to put a tighter bond on His first usage of "always" than we do on the second usage.



#11 Charles81

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Posted 04 May 2017 - 09:27 PM

Further thoughts:
 
My objection to your interpretation is a pragmatic one.  Suppose that I asked someone to come with me to a baseball game to see a one-armed pitcher.  Then when we get there he sees that the pitcher has two arms.  He says, "I thought you said he had one arm!"  I say, "He does; he also has another arm."  This would be regarded as a bad joke because people just don't talk this way unless they're joking around. 
 
Likewise, when a person is on trial for his life, and he is making his case, driving with his main defense toward his conclusive statement, it would be somewhat bizarre for him to introduce an irrelevant minor side issue in the middle of that.  At least this is true in my experience today.  People just don't talk this way under such circumstances. 
 
But perhaps at that time and in that culture they did indeed talk that way in those circumstances.  If evidence could be presented supporting this proposition then that would support your interpretation.
 
Q. Do you have any such evidence?
 





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