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  #21  
Old 11-07-2007, 09:42 PM
Mendacious Mendacious is offline
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Default Re: Beginning of Christianity

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After Jesus died, Jesus's followers (none of whom was previously impressive in the slightest) by all rights should have disbanded, lucky to have their skins intact, as Jesus at this point was not a popular guy. Instead, they claim he was resurrected, and at great cost to themselves and without any financial backing or incentive became absolutely devoted zealots with his ressurection as the foundation of their belief. His conclusion was that the only explanation was the disciples truly believed in the resurrection.


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This professor has obviously never heard of cognitive dissonance. Classic psychology study by Leon Festinger:

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In the course of his investigations Festinger, a trained psychologist, actually infiltrated the cult himself and was thus a first hand witness to the groups behaviour in the wake of the non-fulfilment of their doomsday prophecy.

Given the reality of Earth's survival the dissonance of the thought between prior belief and failed fulfillment was typically rationalised by the cult members not so much through dismissal of the original prophecy as through modification of that prophecy. That is to say that the cult members tended to accept that the aliens had actually saved the entire world as their route to ensuring the survival of the cult.


Festinger suggested that to rationalize, or change beliefs and asttitudes, was an easier route to resolve the stress associated with cogitive dissonance than a complete dismissal of their individual acceptance of the original prophecy.


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That is an interesting explanation, but I think it suffers somewhat because the disciples entire course of action seems to flow from actually witnessing a resurrected Christ, rather than just some rationalizing paradigm shift. It was the resurrection itself and not Jesus's teachings which seemed to spur them on. Secondly, it is not clear at all that they had any agenda prior to the death of Jesus other than that they were followers of Jesus. Something about his death (or ressurection) seemed to inspire them and set them on a new level. Moreover-- and admittedly I think this is a lot less "historically" established, but I do not believe that either Jesus or his disciples went around proclaiming he was the son of God for any length of time prior to his execution. I think this largely came after. I don't think being the son of God was at all essential to Jesus ministry during his life.
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  #22  
Old 11-07-2007, 09:47 PM
Taraz Taraz is offline
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Default Re: Beginning of Christianity

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Are you sure about that. Here's Lapides himself on the subject.

http://www.growthtrac.com/artman/pub...essiah-631.php

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These are the only parts from that article that deals with my objection:
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But that objection didn't fly any further than the previous one. "In God's wisdom, he created checks and balances both inside and outside the Christian community," Lapides explained. "When the Gospels were being circulated, there were people living who had been around when all these things happened. Someone would have said to Matthew, ?You know it didn't happen that way. We're trying to communicate a life of righteousness and truth, so don't taint it with a lie.'

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First of all, he is appealing to God's wisdom which I find amusing. Secondly, this is assuming that those who were contemporaries of Jesus would know all the intricate details of his life and not of just certain isolated instances, which is much more likely. Would the people who were still alive from Jesus's time be witnesses to more than one or two events from his. It is also assuming that those who did have first hand knowledge of Jesus's life somehow were familiar with Mathew's work and were "proofreading" it.

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"Besides," he added, "why would Matthew have fabricated fulfilled prophecies and then be willing to be put to death for following someone who he secretly knew was really not the Messiah? That wouldn't make any sense.

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Seriously? Perhaps because he believed that the prophecies were irrelevant but that it might prevent people from believing in Jesus? If he believed that Jesus actually was the Messiah and that the prophecies weren't binding, why would he not fabricate fulfilled prophecies?

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"What's more, the Jewish community would have jumped on any
opportunity to discredit the Gospels by pointing out falsehoods. They would have said, ?I was there, and Jesus' bones were broken by the Romans during the crucifixion,'" Lapides said. "But even though the Jewish Talmud refers to Jesus in derogatory ways, it never once makes the claim that the fulfillment of prophecies was falsified. Not one time."

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I'm fairly certain the Jewish community did try to discredit the Gospels. And this also goes back to the assumption that there would be enough people around who not only were first hand witnesses of Jesus's life, but that they had full memories of these events, they were aware of Matthew's writings, they believed it was important to discredit the Gospel, etc. etc.

Sorry if I'm not convinced, but your rebuttal is not very compelling.
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  #23  
Old 11-07-2007, 09:55 PM
Taraz Taraz is offline
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Default Re: Beginning of Christianity

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That is an interesting explanation, but I think it suffers somewhat because the disciples entire course of action seems to flow from actually witnessing a resurrected Christ, rather than just some rationalizing paradigm shift. It was the resurrection itself and not Jesus's teachings which seemed to spur them on.

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What evidence do you have in claiming this? Couldn't a resurrected Christ be a vision in a dream or something similar? How would their actions be any different if it was actually his teachings that spurred them on?


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Secondly, it is not clear at all that they had any agenda prior to the death of Jesus other than that they were followers of Jesus. Something about his death (or ressurection) seemed to inspire them and set them on a new level.

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What agenda did I mention? If they believed in his cause and it seemed to come to an end, it would make sense that they would experience cognitive dissonance. They "knew" that his cause was righteous and the way to God, but he was killed. If his cause were true, it shouldn't be able to die away. So, in their minds, there must be some way for his message to carry on.

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Moreover-- and admittedly I think this is a lot less "historically" established, but I do not believe that either Jesus or his disciples went around proclaiming he was the son of God for any length of time prior to his execution. I think this largely came after. I don't think being the son of God was at all essential to Jesus ministry during his life.

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I don't think I mentioned anything about this. How does this connect?
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  #24  
Old 11-07-2007, 10:20 PM
Phil153 Phil153 is offline
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Default Re: Beginning of Christianity

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I would be surprised that amongst historians that there is any real dispute of the existance,

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There has been in the past, although at the present these people are a small minority (even though now new evidence has become available). But their reasoning for the historicity is largely conjecture and their points can be explained just as easily by considering the Jesus story as a collection of oral histories and the many "messiahs" and holy men of the age. The independent historical accounts are very flimsy - a few mentions decades or a century later, derived wholly from Christian sources who copied the original works many times, and one of which is almost certainly a forgery in the eyes of historians.

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Is your supposition that the disciples simply made up the resurrection?

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Not at all. See my story below. There are so many scenarios where people believe unreasonable things, especially those that have invested their life and their neck in the truth of something. This happens even in these modern times. I think people also greatly underestimate human stupidity and their ability to genuinely believe all kinds of unsupported notions. The Age of Enlightenment has only been on us a couple of hundred years. And I linked the Sai Baba earlier - he's a very instructive read for the kind of topics you bring up in the OP.

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With respect to the monks you describe, they are trained and taught and indoctrinated to become what they become. My impression is that historically, Jesus followers took his teaching and were inspired. It really doesn't seem quite the same thing.

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Fair point. But I'm sure you can find modern analogues - the Sai Baba in India or any number of faith healers in Mexico are excellent examples of this phenomena in even an educated populace. If you haven't had the opportunity to see this with your own eyes, it's worth doing [img]/images/graemlins/smile.gif[/img]

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I would be interested in the piece you wrote.

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Here it is. It's a bit touchy feely as it's written to someone who thinks the only possibilities are that Jesus was resurrected or that it was the greatest fraud in history.
http://forumserver.twoplustwo.com/sh...age=0&vc=1
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  #25  
Old 11-07-2007, 11:17 PM
madnak madnak is offline
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Default Re: Beginning of Christianity

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That is an interesting explanation, but I think it suffers somewhat because the disciples entire course of action seems to flow from actually witnessing a resurrected Christ, rather than just some rationalizing paradigm shift. It was the resurrection itself and not Jesus's teachings which seemed to spur them on. Secondly, it is not clear at all that they had any agenda prior to the death of Jesus other than that they were followers of Jesus. Something about his death (or ressurection) seemed to inspire them and set them on a new level. Moreover-- and admittedly I think this is a lot less "historically" established, but I do not believe that either Jesus or his disciples went around proclaiming he was the son of God for any length of time prior to his execution. I think this largely came after. I don't think being the son of God was at all essential to Jesus ministry during his life.

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You speculate about the motivations and actions of the followers of Jesus. On what basis? That of the Bible? If we accept that as evidence then why are we rejecting the part where Jesus claims to be the son of God and where that claim is an important part of his position?
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  #26  
Old 11-07-2007, 11:41 PM
Mendacious Mendacious is offline
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Default Re: Beginning of Christianity

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That is an interesting explanation, but I think it suffers somewhat because the disciples entire course of action seems to flow from actually witnessing a resurrected Christ, rather than just some rationalizing paradigm shift. It was the resurrection itself and not Jesus's teachings which seemed to spur them on. Secondly, it is not clear at all that they had any agenda prior to the death of Jesus other than that they were followers of Jesus. Something about his death (or ressurection) seemed to inspire them and set them on a new level. Moreover-- and admittedly I think this is a lot less "historically" established, but I do not believe that either Jesus or his disciples went around proclaiming he was the son of God for any length of time prior to his execution. I think this largely came after. I don't think being the son of God was at all essential to Jesus ministry during his life.

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You speculate about the motivations and actions of the followers of Jesus. On what basis? That of the Bible? If we accept that as evidence then why are we rejecting the part where Jesus claims to be the son of God and where that claim is an important part of his position?

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I'm sorry to cop out like this, but I am not a bible scholar and I am going by memory, but my recollection was that Jesus predominantly claims he is the "son of man". It is only at the very end that he starts to say differently.

I don't consider the bible to necessarily be an accurate historical record of Jesus life. Far from it. I don't mean to presume too much about the motivations of the disciples, if anything, I am trying to understand their actions after Jesus cruxifiction. Obviously this is a puzzle with very incomplete information. I'm mostly interested in plausible explanations for what we do know historically. Phil made a nice stab at in in the post he linked to. But I don't think any of his scenarios really explain the metamorphisis of the disciples.

I guess the bottom line is I can't really dismiss as implausible the hypothesis that the Disciples genuinely believed that Jesus was resurrected and spoke to them after his death.
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  #27  
Old 11-08-2007, 01:38 AM
madnak madnak is offline
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Default Re: Beginning of Christianity

But the Bible is also the only source you have for the actions of those disciples (I'm including the apocrypha when I say "Bible"). And it's second-hand.

It's a plausible hypothesis, but it's not very testable and it doesn't indicate much.

Personally I'm in the "Jesus led a cult" camp. I find it much less surprising that his followers remained loyal after his death than that (for example) the followers of Jim Jones killed themselves at his command.

Psychology also established that certain factors (authority and conformity in particular) can cause people to doubt their own memories and factual evidence. I think there's significant evidence that false memories can arise in certain situations (but I'm not too familiar with it). So it's certainly possible that some of his disciples really believed that they saw him after he died. I think one of two things is more likely, though - either someone in Jesus' group had some power they didn't want to give up (and perhaps they even used the name of Jesus to increase their power over his followers) and so fabricated the resurrection story, or it's a matter of cumulative embellishment as in the game of "telephone."

The gospels were written decades after Jesus died. And even in the gospels themselves, the description of the resurrection is inconsistent - earlier gospels describe it as a straightforward event, but later gospels add angels and earthquakes and other fireworks. My guess is that the whole story of Jesus as we know it is the product of oral transmissions that became more and more exaggerated over time. The original story of the resurrection? People very often have experiences of being "contacted" by loved ones after their death, and Jesus almost certainly had some very devoted followers. I'm guessing that some of those followers had similar experiences of Jesus and believe he wss communicating with them after his death - perhaps even "telling them" that he was alive. These people could easily have ended up being eyewitnesses to a physical resurrection later on - particular given the vague and surreal quality of the supposed experiences.

But the information really is limited, so everything is speculation.
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  #28  
Old 11-08-2007, 10:12 AM
Mendacious Mendacious is offline
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Default Re: Beginning of Christianity

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But the Bible is also the only source you have for the actions of those disciples (I'm including the apocrypha when I say "Bible"). And it's second-hand.

It's a plausible hypothesis, but it's not very testable and it doesn't indicate much.

Personally I'm in the "Jesus led a cult" camp. I find it much less surprising that his followers remained loyal after his death than that (for example) the followers of Jim Jones killed themselves at his command.

Psychology also established that certain factors (authority and conformity in particular) can cause people to doubt their own memories and factual evidence. I think there's significant evidence that false memories can arise in certain situations (but I'm not too familiar with it). So it's certainly possible that some of his disciples really believed that they saw him after he died. I think one of two things is more likely, though - either someone in Jesus' group had some power they didn't want to give up (and perhaps they even used the name of Jesus to increase their power over his followers) and so fabricated the resurrection story, or it's a matter of cumulative embellishment as in the game of "telephone."

The gospels were written decades after Jesus died. And even in the gospels themselves, the description of the resurrection is inconsistent - earlier gospels describe it as a straightforward event, but later gospels add angels and earthquakes and other fireworks. My guess is that the whole story of Jesus as we know it is the product of oral transmissions that became more and more exaggerated over time. The original story of the resurrection? People very often have experiences of being "contacted" by loved ones after their death, and Jesus almost certainly had some very devoted followers. I'm guessing that some of those followers had similar experiences of Jesus and believe he wss communicating with them after his death - perhaps even "telling them" that he was alive. These people could easily have ended up being eyewitnesses to a physical resurrection later on - particular given the vague and surreal quality of the supposed experiences.

But the information really is limited, so everything is speculation.

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I agree that this is fairly plausible. I think what makes Jesus different then most "cult-like" situations is that typically in those situations you are dealing with a leader with an almost hypnotic hold over his followers-- which Jesus may have had-- but in this case the link was clearly severed in that Jesus was executed. This is usually where cult's disband etc. If Jesus' followers had all killed themselves shortly after his death, or simultaneously or some such, I would think that was a much more natural explanation.

I can't deny that substantial filtering has obviously gone on in the retelling of the story. But it does seem from very early on, the ressurection BECAME the message, and it certainly wasn't a message that people wanted at the time. They wanted a bonafide HERO messiah, not some afterlife abstraction.

Clearly there are many plausible theories, I just find the theory that the disciple believed they had witnessed a ressurection to be very difficult to discredit.

I appreciate the discourse and ideas about this, and the fact that many of the "skeptics?" are VERY well informed on the relevant history.
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  #29  
Old 11-08-2007, 11:08 AM
Brad1970 Brad1970 is offline
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Default Re: Beginning of Christianity

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I'm sorry to cop out like this, but I am not a bible scholar and I am going by memory, but my recollection was that Jesus predominantly claims he is the "son of man". It is only at the very end that he starts to say differently.

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Jesus meant that he was born of biological parents (i.e. man) just like you & me but is God in human form. Towards the end of his life, before he was crucified, he told them that he was the Christ & would be seated at the right hand of God.

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I guess the bottom line is I can't really dismiss as implausible the hypothesis that the Disciples genuinely believed that Jesus was resurrected and spoke to them after his death.

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What happened to his body then? Not only did he speak to them but he appeared before them & walked among them. He even appeared before a crowd of over 500 people.
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  #30  
Old 11-08-2007, 11:09 AM
Splendour Splendour is offline
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Default Re: Beginning of Christianity

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Are you sure about that. Here's Lapides himself on the subject.

http://www.growthtrac.com/artman/pub...essiah-631.php

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These are the only parts from that article that deals with my objection:
[ QUOTE ]

But that objection didn't fly any further than the previous one. "In God's wisdom, he created checks and balances both inside and outside the Christian community," Lapides explained. "When the Gospels were being circulated, there were people living who had been around when all these things happened. Someone would have said to Matthew, ?You know it didn't happen that way. We're trying to communicate a life of righteousness and truth, so don't taint it with a lie.'

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First of all, he is appealing to God's wisdom which I find amusing. Secondly, this is assuming that those who were contemporaries of Jesus would know all the intricate details of his life and not of just certain isolated instances, which is much more likely. Would the people who were still alive from Jesus's time be witnesses to more than one or two events from his. It is also assuming that those who did have first hand knowledge of Jesus's life somehow were familiar with Mathew's work and were "proofreading" it.

[ QUOTE ]

"Besides," he added, "why would Matthew have fabricated fulfilled prophecies and then be willing to be put to death for following someone who he secretly knew was really not the Messiah? That wouldn't make any sense.

[/ QUOTE ]

Seriously? Perhaps because he believed that the prophecies were irrelevant but that it might prevent people from believing in Jesus? If he believed that Jesus actually was the Messiah and that the prophecies weren't binding, why would he not fabricate fulfilled prophecies?

[ QUOTE ]

"What's more, the Jewish community would have jumped on any
opportunity to discredit the Gospels by pointing out falsehoods. They would have said, ?I was there, and Jesus' bones were broken by the Romans during the crucifixion,'" Lapides said. "But even though the Jewish Talmud refers to Jesus in derogatory ways, it never once makes the claim that the fulfillment of prophecies was falsified. Not one time."

[/ QUOTE ]

I'm fairly certain the Jewish community did try to discredit the Gospels. And this also goes back to the assumption that there would be enough people around who not only were first hand witnesses of Jesus's life, but that they had full memories of these events, they were aware of Matthew's writings, they believed it was important to discredit the Gospel, etc. etc.

Sorry if I'm not convinced, but your rebuttal is not very compelling.

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When I read Lapides I don't think he is appealing to God's wisdom, but referring to it. He is saying the circumstances, the internal societal checks and balances indicates God's will. The interpersonal, political and societal systems in place at a certain time are what anthropologists, archaeologists and historians study to arrive at what actually happened in an ancient group. They do have relevant cultures, beliefs and customs/traditions. So we can study them to arrive at theories/conclusions about them.

The 12 Disciples (Apostles) lived and travelled around the clock with Jesus for a couple of years. In a court of law til this day you only need 1 or 2 eyewitnesses to testify or substantiate the validity of an event. 2 is better than 1 because its less likely there is a lie and because you can get different perspectives and they either back each other up or they refute one another. The Disciples don't refute one another. They were handpicked by Jesus to study under him and deliver the Gospel. Jesus was the Living Word. He writes his words on the hearts of men and then they live his teachings while the Disciples did the actual physical act of recording the Word.

These Disciples were actually very humble men so I doubt it would even occur to them to trace back prophecies and record them if they hadn't personally experienced it. They would know the Hebrew religion and as Christ performed certain things they would have noticed it and remarked on it amongst themselves and said "hey isn't that like it says in the scriptures" to each other.

Today if you saw a miracle it would probably impress you to so great a degree that you would never forget it unless you got Alzheimers or a brain injury of some sort. If you and I and madnak and tame-deuces and Mendacious and Phil153 are sitting around a stone table in the park eating hamburgers and Phil153 starts to levitate. I guarantee you we will all find it remarkable and we wouldn't forget it and we're more than likely going to go tell people who are now going to follow Phil around to see what else he does.

quote: I'm fairly certain the Jewish community did try to discredit the Gospels.

You'd have to find proof of this then, but I think initially the Christians were so small a group, the society pressure the Jews were putting on other Jews to stay Jewish, the Hebrews preoccupation with the Sadducees and Pharisees conflict and their preoccupation with Roman hegemony is probably what they gave most of their attention to. God planted a tiny mustard seed among them and it took off to the Gentiles letting the Jews exist til this day as a separate people and that's God's purpose also. The Jews were suppose to exist until they re-establish as a nation which they did in 1948 with the rise of Israel.
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