Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Canard

I put my whole mind, such as it is, to playing an April fool’s joke on the wise old man. I called him on his cell and told him we had a New Madrid earthquake here and that his bicycle and other treasures stored with us were swallowed up in it. He caught on immediately and said, “We felt tremors of that canard out here in Atlanta.”
“What is a canard, sir?” I queried, having remembered the word itself but the meaning was lost somewhere in my grey matter.
“It is French for duck, Dan, but it has come to mean a false story. The most pitiful canard of history is the one the priests had the Romans put out about the tomb. You know, the one in which they spread the canard that the body had been stolen by the apostles. It was pitiful because over 500 people saw the resurrected Christ and there were many eyewitnesses still around even when the gospels were written.”
I agreed with him and asked a question that had been bugging me. “Sir, why does Mark mention Alexander and Rufus as the children of the guy that helped Jesus carry the cross? Those names do nothing to advance the story.”
“Dan, it was as if Mark was saying, ‘you can check with Alexander and Rufus about what their daddy did. They are very proud of him for that and they are still alive to tell about it’. You see, the gospels are oral histories from eyewitnesses of the words and deeds of Jesus told in great detail. Potential challengers to what they wrote were still alive and active in the churches, so they could not fictionalize. Falsehood of any kind could be debunked.”
“Sir, I have heard that Mark was an assistant to Peter himself. Why, then, does Peter come off so badly in Mark’s gospel?”
“Well, Dan, Peter himself must have been the source and he must have authorized the propagation of the story of his denial. He must have wanted the absolute truth told in the narrative, even at the expense of his reputation as the top man in the church. And, Dan, there are other indicators of the absolute truth and validity of the gospels. Considering the low status of women at the time, why make up a story in which women are the first witnesses of the resurrection. Their testimony would not even stand up in the courts of the day. And there are other details that show the writers were eyewitnesses and telling the truth in detail. I will mention the cushion Jesus slept on in the boat—why mention that? Also, the exact count of 153 fish caught or Jesus doodling in the sand in the report of the woman taken in adultery. These details assure the validity of the gospels.”
“Yes, sir, and I have read C. S. Lewis’ statement that the gospels are a unique kind of writing for the time, realistic narrative. That kind of literary technique did not come into existence until much later.”
“Dan, it is no canard that the tomb was empty and hundreds of witnesses saw him bodily raised. If it were a canard, we would have no Christianity.”


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