There’s something meta going on when a Christian apologist takes aim at a biblical account of mine with some typical apologetics, claiming I am making stuff up out of whole cloth when I myself accused the Gospel writers (or apologists) of making stuff up out of whole cloth to defend themselves against Jewish accusations 2,000 years ago.
Or perhaps this is not meta, but hypocrisy, as you will see.
This all concerns a small section of narrative—a pericope—that is only found in one Gospel (Matthew) and looks very much like the author made it up to serve a purpose. Christians don’t like such claims because, of course, it all has to be true!
Catholic apologist Dave Armstrong has written a piece attacking my recent article setting out why Matthew’s guards at the tomb pericope is almost certainly false and why it also tells us a lot more that is problematic for the Resurrection account.
First let me again present the thesis I am proposing which is, just to confirm, constructed from the Gospel data and is drawing on a lot of pre-existent biblical criticism, and not pulled out of thin air, my posterior, or constructed from whole cloth:
- Paul does not mention the empty tomb narrative at all in the passion sequence concerning Jesuss’ death and resurrection. This is bizarre because we would have expected him to do so (perfect reasons for so doing to defend his arguments in 1 Corinthians, for example).
- Mark, the first Gospel (written 40 years after the death of Jesus and some decades after Paul), mentions the empty tomb. But he adds an odd sequence at the end of his narrative that not other later Goispel writer adds. Indeed, they outright contradict the claim. He ands his Gospel (later version interpolate further details) with the women witnesses to the empty tomb leaving and specifically not telling enyone about the empty tomb and what they had seen.
- This very much appears to act as an explanation as to why his audience has not heard about the empty tomb—because the women kepot it a secret, of course! After all, we need to explain why he mentions this secret-keeping but all the other Gospels contradict this.
- Matthew admits that Jews had been arguing that a better explanation of the empty tomb was that someone had stolen the body: “and this story was widely spread among the Jews and is to this day.” (Matthew 28:15)
- Matthew is the next Gospel after Mark, some 15+ years later, and is the only Gospel to include the narrrative of their being guards at the door. This is odd, and is part of a slew of good evidence that it was made up by Matthew. Eminent Catholic exegete admits that Matthew’s guards are “aqlmost unintelligible” and that “there is neiether internal nor external evidence to cause us to affirm historicity.” (The Death of the Messiah, Raymond Brown, 1994, p. 1311)
- This looks like a counter-argument against the Jewish counter-arguments thatr the body was stolen. Matthew even phrases it like it is. Matthew appears to be privy to a private conversation between the guards and the Sanhedrin (Matthew 28): 11 Now while they were on their way, some of the men from the guard came into the city and reported to the chief priests all that had happened. 12 And when they had assembled with the elders and consulted together, they gave a large sum of money to the soldiers, 13 and said, “You are to say, ‘His disciples came at night and stole Him while we were asleep.’ 14 And if this comes to the governor’s ears, we will appease him and [e]keep you out of trouble.” 15 And they took the money and did as they had been instructed; and this story was widely spread among the Jews and is to this day.
- This Christian polemic counter-counter-argument evidences that Mark invented (or communicted a developed narrative) that did not exist in Paul’s time because otherwise Mark would have had to be dealing with the Jewish counter-arguments. But he didn’t because those arguments did not exist because no one in the wider community knew about the narrative before Mark’s Gospel.
- This is also supported by the fact that later Gospels did not include the women keepiong secret since everyone did know about the empty tomb as a result of the late (compared to Paul and the events) communication of this part of the story. They had no need to explain the to their audiences why they had not heard of the empty tomb as Mark had to do.
- The later Luke and John did not include the guards polemic. Christians equally need to explain this. I surmise that they saw it for what it was: an obviously ahistorical polemic.
Sorry to have to lay that all out again, but it is worth knowing what we are talking about here.
Dave Armstrong, the Catholic apologist with whom I have a long interlocutional history, attacks this explanation of the data:
He [me, Pearce] then goes on to construct (literally out of thin air) an entire elaborate story of deceit and intent to deliberately lie about the events surrounding Jesus’ death (recycled, of course, from standard atheist mythology and polemics concerning the NT), to account for why only Matthew includes the story.Pearce’s Potshots #57: Matthew & the Tomb Guards
Hilarious. Hilarious because I did not literally construct anything out of thin air. That is, er, literally impossible.
Did I even metaphorically do this?
No. I used data that is in the Gospels, and Matthew even admits to the Jews having a prevailing counter-argument. You cannot make things up out of thin air in proposing a coherent causal theory connecting actual data (Gospel claims). This is how all theories are constructed. Can we test it? Yes, for coherence. No, since we cannot go back in time. Data can disconfirm the theory (but doesn’t), if it could be found to do so. And this is the same case for the Christian thesis.
This part is pretty egregious: apparently I “constructed (literally out of thin air) an entire elaborate story of deceit and intent to deliberately lie about the events surrounding Jesus’ death.”
I am not sure if my claims are deceitful and if I am lying about the events, or whether I claim deceit and lying in the sources I am talking about.
Either way, he needs to sort out his rhetoric and walk back the accusation or not mischaracterize or misinterpret my claims. We’re back to the same old desperate Christian defenses that attack me rather than the substance of my arguments.
Of course, it is worth noting that I didn’t pull the idea out of my posterior: the late Gospel invention of the empty tomb narrative has been around since Rudolf Bultmann proposed it in the early 20th century, and no doubt before.
Argument from silence?
Armstrong continues in a way that makes me pretty angry:
First and foremost, arguments of this type are arguments from silence (the logical fallacy, argumentum ex silentio), and as anyone familiar with logic and/or philosophy, and/or debating strategies in general knows (and Jonathan calls himself “a philosopher”), they carry little or no force at all.
Considering he wants me to, I presume, exchange cordially and intellectually with him, he goes about this in a bizarre way. He is intellectually and existentially insulting me with passive-aggressive comments… But he is also wrong. This is not an argument from silence, only a part of it is. The Paul claim is the only part that is, and it is valid, as I set out in an entire chapter on this in The Resurrection: A Critical Examination of the Easter Story. He can deal with that. This isn’t “pulled out of thin air” but he is certainly “skating on thin ice”.
He goes on to give three definitions of an argument from silence but does not in any way explain how the above entire claim is an argument from silence. Go figure.
As commenter Lex Lata usefully adds:
There seems to be some debate here about whether Paul “says absolutely nothing about the Empty Tomb,” in your words. The discussion might benefit from a little philological fiddling.
The Empty Tomb accounts in the Gospels of Matthew, Luke, and John all use “μνημεῖον”—a word meaning memorial, monument, grave, tomb, sepulcher, etc.—for the structure in which the body of JC was placed.
In contrast, none of the NT books attributed to Paul use “μνημεῖον,” empty or otherwise, nor any synonymous noun. The closest we have is something like 1 Corinthians 15:4, where Paul states that JC “ἐτάφη,” usually translated as “was buried.” Might Paul have been thinking of a tomb? Yup. But ἐτάφη doesn’t necessarily entail such a meaning, and can be translated as “was buried,” “was entombed,” “was interred,” “received funerary rites,” and even “was cremated” (the last being a very unlikely connotation in this context, to be sure). Similarly, Colossians 2:12 employs a conjugated variant of ἐτάφη: “συνταφέντες αὐτῷ,” which translates roughly as “you having been buried with him [JC].” (The actual authorship of Colossians is disputed, but that doesn’t really matter here. The point is that it describes being buried without any details.)
So Paul’s writings don’t specify how or where he thought JC was buried (ἐτάφη), and don’t relate any of the astonishing, dramatic, differing details—the guards, the earthquake, the women, the discovery, the angel, etc.—we read in the Empty Tomb narratives in the Gospels of Matthew, Luke, and John. Rather, Paul’s writings reflect that he believed JC was crucified, was buried (whether in the dirt, a tomb, a cave, etc. is unstated), was resurrected (whether bodily or spiritually we need not get into), and then appeared to others.
I add this because (even though I apparently contain no substance), Armstrong has written an entire screed trying to counter my point here, claiming that Paul does indeed mention the empty tomb narrative. He includes (and warning, this is really bad apologetics):
1. He was in the tomb (dead): Acts 13:29.
2. “But” [pregnant with meaning] God raised Him (13:30).
3. He appeared to His disciples for many days (13:31).
4. In order to appear to His disciples, He obviously had to depart the tomb.
5. Therefore, the tomb (His tomb) was empty, and Paul taught this, contrary to what Jonathan claimed.
Paul also stated three times that Jesus (by analogy to us in baptism) was “buried” (i.e., in a tomb, which is how they do it in Israel) and then raised again (thus implying — by simple logic — the empty tomb):Pearce’s Potshots #58: Paul & Jesus’ “Empty” Tomb
Of course, as you will notice, mention of the tomb is in Luke/Acts, not Paul’s writing. And the rest, well, this is embarrassing stuff. This is taking the idea that he has died and been buried (well, yes…), and projecting his own ideas onto that. “Well, he was buried, so it must have been a tomb! And he left it, so it must have been empty! So Paul obviously mentions the empty tomb narrative!”
Except no. Paul has a spiritual body resurrection that has no need for an empty tomb, and there is far, far greater likelihood that Jesus was dishonorably buried in a criminal’s necropolis. See my extensive chapter and writing in this in my Resurrection book.
His claim that Jesus “was ‘buried’ (i.e., in a tomb, which is how they do it in Israel)” shows a real lack of knowledge of the subject matter. Criminals—especially ones accused of high treason and blasphemy—would never have been buried in a tomb, family or otherwise, at least until after a year of ritual purification in a criminal’s graveyard, or more likely in Jerusalem, necropolis. Such a place would have been the Graveyard for the Stoned and the Burned.
It is far more likely that Jesus was stoned, then hung upon a post, as this was literally the punishment for his crime. There are plenty of sources for all of this stuff if Armstrong wants to look:
- Josephus Antiquities of the Jews 4.8.6.
- Christian Byron R. McCane, in ‘“Where No One Had Yet Been Laid”: The Shame of Jesus’ Burial’.
- Mishnah Sanhedrin 6.5 and 6.6.
- Talmud Sanhedrin 47a (amongst also the Tosefta).
- Midrash Rabbah Numbers XXIII:13 (877).
- On stoning: Josephus Jewish Wares 4.202, 260; Leviticus 24:14; Acts 7; Mishnah Sanhedrin 6.4…
- …and so on.
Armstrong needs to do his research because, and even though he is providing merely inference based on his own projection, his inferences are wholly incorrect. If he can’t be bothered to read up about it, there is this:
Paul would surely have made reference to some aspect of the entire empty tomb narrative given he is arguing with the Corinthians about certain elements of the Resurrection. Instead, he uses Old Testament quotes to buttress his arguments, which is bizarre. There is no reference to the women as first witnesses, nothing concerning Apostolic verification: “We know this, Corinthians, because X saw Y.”
Out of thin air
He laughably continues:
Lacking any concrete historical evidence for why Matthew alone mentioned the guards and why Mark and Luke didn’t, Jonathan does what all Bible skeptics, writing about the Resurrection do: he (in effect, since he is no doubt drawing from the atheist playbook) invents a story out of thin air, out of whole cloth. He pulls it out of a hat like a rabbit; invents an entirely (merely subjective) groundless, fictitious myth about Matthew’s interior motivations and intentions. It’s ridiculous enough to do that to people today, but to someone 1900 years ago?!
This is a lot of pointless synonymizing… What he himself says amounts to a massive assertion. First, I don’t make this up out of thin air. The general ahistoricity of Matthew’s guards pericope is accepted by all skeptical scholars and a good deal of believing ones—see Brown above. Here is the famous Christian scholar Dale C. Allison:
…and [the theory that] Matthew, “with vindicatory intent,” backdated the guard to an earlier time. The most extensive treatment of the subject is Kankaanniemi, Guards. He argues that the Christian story developed as a response to the early Jewish fiction that the disciples stole the body while Roman soldiers guarded the tomb. Although he has not convinced me that the guards derive from Jewish polemic as opposed to Christian apologetic, we concur that Matthew’s story is not history.Dale C. Allison (2021), The Resurrection of Jesus, New York: Bloomsbury, p. 180.
Allison continues later to make exactly the same point as me concerning the guards not becoming Christians and believing—is he pulling it out of thin air? Is his claim a rabbit out of the hat?
Whatever the rationalization, it is wildly unlikely that either would have declared, “Jesus is Lord!” Annas and Herod would have been like the fictional guards in Matthew 28, who see everything yet fail to lay down their weapons and take up the new faith.Ibid. p.331.
THE TRADITIONAL CHRISTIAN VIEW
If it is not so easy to banish the skeptical scenario, what of the more traditional view?
(1) Nothing in the reconstruction in the first paragraph of this chapter contradicts anything in the conventional religious view. This is because the upshot of my investigations has largely turned out to be not replacement but reduction. After subtracting from the narrative accounts what we remain unconfident about and what we should disbelieve—such as the resurrection of holy ones and the guards at the tomb in Matthew…Ibid. p. 345.
Although Allison is a Christian, he is happy to dispense with obvious Matthew constructions—the parading zombie Saints and the tomb guards.
How about John Dominic Crossan?
A guard for three days now comes from Jesus’ prophecy [instead of requiring three days to elapse in order to know the corpse of Jesus had not returned to life as we find in Gos. Pet.]. Thereafter, no guard is necessary because Jesus will have been proved wrong. I find Matthew a development over Peter and not the reverse in that case.
Behind the guards at the tomb . . . lie apologetics and polemics along the line from Peter to Matthew. Christians: Jesus rose from the dead. Opponents: he did not, you stole his body. Christians: no we did not; you had guards at the tomb who know the truth, but you told them to lie.John Dominic Crossan (1995), Who Killed Jesus? Exposing the Roots of Anti-Semitism in the Gospel Story of the Death of Jesus, San Francisco: HarperCollins, p. 180-81.
Interestingly, in apologist Mike Licona’s magnum opus on the Resurrection, he doesn’t really do much to counteract Crossan’s claims about the guards other than in general terms. In other words, he doesn’t address the problem explicitly. Which is to say that Licona is aware of the counter-argument (it is not a rabbit pulled out of a hat), but he evades explicitly dealing with it in favor of a more generalized approach.
Christian NT Wright is famous for his huge book, The Resurrection of the Son of God, which includes the very-much-not-a-rabbit-pulled-out-of-a-hat (my emphasis):
The other story which spills over in Matthew’s gospel from the crucifixion narrative to the Easter account involves the chief priests getting together with the Pharisees to go to Pilate and request a guard on Jesus’ tomb. This is of considerable interest, not so much for its own sake (though that is interesting too) but for the sake of what it tells us about the story-telling motives of the early church.
The tale begins on the sabbath itself…NT Wright (2003), The Resurrection of the Son of God,
What is important here for Armstrong to understand is that this narrative explanation is something that actual apologists (purposeful passive-aggressive phrase to make a point) recognize as a valid theory and work to counteract. Whilst, ultimately, Wright thinks of Matthew’s account that “it seems more likely that it goes back to some kind of well-rooted memory” (Ibid. p. 638), he is well aware of the skeptical and non-Christian accusations, and he takes them seriously:
But when we put the two halves of the story together, the plan to set a guard in case the disciples steal the body, and the tale that, despite the guard, the disciples had managed to do so none the less, some interesting questions emerge about the telling of such an overall account within the early Christian community.
The story, obviously, is part of an apologia for the bodily resurrection of Jesus. It is an attempt to ward off any suggestion that the disciples had in fact stolen the body, which must have seemed the most natural explanation for the emptiness of the tomb. But, while the historian is always cautious about accepting obviously apologetic tales, there are further considerations which make it very unlikely that this one was actually invented from scratch within the Christian community.Ibid. p. 637-38.
He acknowledges the counter-argument:
For our present purposes, the main thing is not to argue that the story, in both its parts, is historically true in all respects, though as we have seen it is unlikely to have been invented as a late legend. The point is that this sort of story could only have any point at all in a community where the empty tomb was an absolute and unquestioned datum. Had there been varieties of Christianity that knew nothing of such a thing—in other words, if Bultmann was right to say that the empty tomb was itself a late apologetic fiction—the rise both of stories of body-snatching and of counter-stories to explain why such accusations were untrue is simply incredible. In the Bultmannian scheme, by contrast, we are asked to accept a complex theory which makes Matthew’s story look extremely simple and obvious: (1) Christianity began without any belief in Jesus’ bodily resurrection; (2) early Christians began (unwisely, it seems) to use ‘resurrection’ language to speak of Jesus’ spiritual or heavenly exaltation; (3) other early Christians, misunderstanding this to refer to bodily resurrection, began to tell back-up stories about the discovery of an empty tomb (with scatty women as the principal witnesses); (4) Jewish onlookers, anxious about the rise of Christianity, believed these (fictitious) accounts of the empty tomb and began to circulate the story about the disciples stealing the body; (5) yet other early Christians, discovering that such stories were circulating, made up a convenient tradition which traced them back to the priests, the guard and the bribe; (6) this tradition found its way into Matthew’s possession, and he separated it carefully into two fragments and wove it neatly into the closing scenes of his gospel. And all this would have to have happened within sixty years at the outside, dating Matthew around 90, which is as late as most scholars would go; less if the date is earlier, as it might well be.
Of course, we could collapse (4) and (5) into one by having no such Jewish stories existing except ones that early Christians made up in order that, by ‘refuting’ them, they might ward off a potential accusation. Or we could collapse (4), (5) and (6) into one if we said that Matthew himself was responsible both for the fiction about the Jewish stories and for the fiction about a ‘true’ version which explained them.Ibid. p. 638-39.
Yet again, the bullshit asymmetry of Brondolini’s Law rears it ugly head where I have to do all the work because Armstrong can’t be bothered. This is another typical Armstrong claim, the hypocrisy of which he is embarrassingly unaware:
Here is an example (from his article’s conclusion) of Jonathan’s vacuous, literally content-less material: purely speculative, with no substantiation whatever…
Since it is a subjective fairy tale with exactly zero historical evidence or any concrete reason for anyone to believe it, other than the fact that it corresponds to existing hostility to the Bible and Christianity, there is absolutely no point or compulsive necessity in engaging it.
Except that all of the apologists writing significantly on the subject (as above) do engage with it, because this is mainstream biblical higher criticism.
It is hilarious because Armstrong accuses me of lacking any historical evidence for why Matthew alone claims this and then provides absolutely no evidence himself for his own historical belief! Indeed, as one commenter wrote to my previous piece: Armstrong “simply fail[s] to understand the distinction between burden of proof and burden of doubt.”
It seems that when Armstong comes up against difficult arguments against which he has a paucity of counter-points, he is left flailing and insulting in the hope that this covers up his lack of substance.
You should really read his piece. I don’t think I’ve read a poorer rebuttal piece since it is predominantly just a series of personal insults and synonymous phrases for accusations of me making things up. You know, just like Bultmann, Crossman, Ehrman (he no longer believes in the empty tomb at all) and others believe. Would he make those rude accusations to them?
Again, he’s welcome to read my book The Resurrection: A Critical Examination of the Easter Story.
Only in Matthew
Perhaps his most substantial argument is the claim that there are 135 instances when the Synoptic Gospels make claims that are not seen in any other Gospel. He claims that this makes it “no big deal.”
Except many of the ones he mentions are again arguments against historicity!
Judas’ suicide? It’s included in Acts and there is a clear contradiction between the accounts. The magi and Herod chasing Jesus and family out of the country to live in political asylum for two years before returning out of Egypt to fulfill a Messianic prophecy in Matthew is a super example. Only super-committed Christians have the cognitive dissonance reduction to believe this rather insignificant “fact” of Jesus’ life would be omitted from, say, Luke, who flatly contradicts the claim in having Jesus’ family go to the Temple in Jerusalem straight away before then returning straight away afterwards to Nazareth. This never happened! This is Matthew ex eventu prophesying!
Of course, the problem for apologists like Armstrong is when they are appraising such claims and sources. As historians Olden-Jørgensen (1998) and Thurén (1997) [source]:
- Human sources may be relics such as a fingerprint; or narratives such as a statement or a letter. Relics are more credible sources than narratives.
- Any given source may be forged or corrupted. Strong indications of the originality of the source increase its reliability.
- The closer a source is to the event which it purports to describe, the more one can trust it to give an accurate historical description of what actually happened.
- An eyewitness is more reliable than testimony at second hand, which is more reliable than hearsay at further remove, and so on.
- If a number of independent sources contain the same message, the credibility of the message is strongly increased.
- The tendency of a source is its motivation for providing some kind of bias. Tendencies should be minimized or supplemented with opposite motivations.
- If it can be demonstrated that the witness or source has no direct interest in creating bias then the credibility of the message is increased.
The Gospels fall afoul of all of these, and so we are left seriously doubting single claims in Gospels omitted in all others, especially when such claims speak of polemic, and have apologetic use for the biased author.
Speaking of bias, let’s allow Armstrong some more opportunity to spew his invective:
What does a person afflicted with a conspiratorial bent do with all this information? Well, it’s simply fodder for all manner of additional conspiracies, of course! Now the nefarious net grows even wider. Every unique instance is “proof” of yet another wicked, evil conspiracy to promulgate lies, etc. This is how that stunted mentality works. Atheist anti-theists (the ones who relentlessly tear down the Bible) do this all the time; being conspiratorialists almost by nature.
Armstrong goes on to claim that there are instances where two people can give an account of one person’s life and there are differences. Well, yes. But do all differences therefore have to be true? Are all similarities false? What a silly false dichotomy. Instead, as I have done, we can evaluate the merits of individual claims contextually.
He exemplifies by comparing the biographies of Socrates by living contemporaries Plato and Xenophon. Of course, we don’t just automatically believe every claim of one author that doesn’t appear in the other, though! But this is the sort of logic entailed in Armstrong’s defense.
Predictably, he shoots himself in the foot because both examples are deemed as inaccurate (even though they both knew Socrates!), with Xenophon’s, as a historian, the least accurate—largely because Plato knew Socrates much better firsthand. Both accounts, though inaccurate, are a world apart from the Gospels in terms of what they had access to.
And yet Armstrong and other apologists seem to claim some 1-to-1 historical accuracy of the Gospels that is never afforded any other historical document in the entire history of the world!
His total misappropriation of his Socrates example is laid bare:
Two authors wrote about one man. They differ in details and emphases (just as the Gospel writers do). It’s not a matter of contradiction (as I have proven countless times). To me it’s a big “so what?!” and a ho hum; a yawner; “what else is new!” But to those who wish to tear down the reliability and integrity of the Gospel writers as part of a larger attempt to discredit Christianity itself, and God, it’s a big deal: a trumped-up “big deal.” Theirs is the agenda (if there must be one at all); and they appear to project their desire to create fictitious tales and conspiracies as the primary / propagandistic motivation of the Gospel writers. It’s quite the pathetic and absurd spectacle to observe.
They “differ in detail and emphases” and are…historically inaccurate. Indeed, the challenge is to work out in what way they are either accurate or inaccurate. What we definitely don’t do, because that would be extraordinarily gullible, is assume they are both accurate about all the claims they both make, even when they contradict or are the only source to mention an event, or…or…
Let’s see what my “stunted mentality” makes of his final point.
Finally (phew!), his last point is about tomb guarding. First, he fails to acknowledge that it is against Jewish law for a criminal of such a crime to be buried in such a place. But let’s park that uncomfortable fact.
So, the guards.
What Armstrong fails to do here is to explore how the guards were posted there and how the Gospel writer knew about them and their arrangement. I briefly discussed the issue in the last post. Matthew would have had to have been privy to a private meeting between the chief priests and Pilate. Which is interesting, writing 55 years after Jesus died, and 15 years after the sacking of Jerusalem. And being private, and all.
Of course, he doesn’t mention his sources, or how actual words from secret non-Christian conversations were accurately relayed across such time and space. This kind of stuff is too problematic for Armstrong. Instead, he looks to show how we have evidence for Romans guarding other tombs (fun fact: there is some debate as to whether these were Roman guards or Sanhedrin guards, causing the narrative more problems—see my chapter in my Resurrection book).
Problem is, we don’t have that evidence, as he admits:
I did some searching and could find nothing, but there may very well be evidence along these lines out there somewhere. I did find that the Romans had a death penalty for grave-robbing (recorded by Cicero)…
He then proceeds to go off on a wild goose chase. “There could have been guards because it was illegal to rob graves.” I’m not sure what this tells us. There could have been guards at any location for potential crime anywhere in the Roman empire. But Roman guard to guard a random Jewish tomb?
Fun fact: Roman soldiers were executed for bribery. This was a big no-no.
So that rather ends that counter-argument before it gets off the ground. You know, bribery from chief priests for claiming they hadn’t seen God, in the flesh, resurrecting from the dead. Which they appeared more than happy to stay schtum about.
My original piece stands. Armstrong has provided nothing to even remotely change my opinion on that. He should opt for substance over rhetoric because latter just starts a rhetorical whirlpool to the depths.
I’m still waiting for the substance.
Just insulting me is an uninteresting game that we can, indeed, both play.
It’s just that it is a waste of time, no one wants to see it, and I don’t really want to play it anymore.