John Loftus' argument for a Historical Jesus

Switch89
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John Loftus' argument for a Historical Jesus

May be read here:

http://debunkingchristianity.blogspot.com/2008/10/i-believe-jesus-was-historical-person.html

His argument that cults are generally founded by a single person, and that the most likely person to do this was Jesus is persuasive to me. I think it does establish a minimal case that there probably was a Jesus.

Secondly, do early church fathers like Ignatius and Polycarp believe in a historical Jesus? If so, would they have believed this if they had known the apostles and if this was contrary to the apostles' teaching?

 


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Switch89 wrote:His argument

Switch89 wrote:

His argument that cults are generally founded by a single person, and that the most likely person to do this was Jesus is persuasive to me. I think it does establish a minimal case that there probably was a Jesus.

This is a Hasty Generalization


John W. Loftus wrote:
I’ve read the relevant passages in Tacitus (64 AD), Pliny (112 AD), Suetonious (49 AD), Rabbi Eliezer (post 70 AD), the Benediction Twelve (post 70 AD), Josephus (post 70 AD). I’ve read the Christian inscription in Pompeii, too (79 AD).

Coming to the conclusion that all of the 'jesuses' referred to (if in fact that an individual named 'jesus' is actually being directly referenced at all) by each author as being the same jesus is far reaching. There isn't any evidence that all of these authors are referring to a single individual let alone the same individual.

 

People who think there is something they refer to as god don't ask enough questions.


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So, by that reasoning, there

So, by that reasoning, there probably was a Mithra, upon whom the religion of Mithraism was founded. And there probably was an Orpheus, upon whom the Orphic religion was founded.

Wait a sec! These are all contradictory religions! They can't all be right.... Hmm.... Maybe none of them are.

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Wrong.

We're not discussing whether Xtianity is right. We're discussing whether it had a historical founder. Duh!!

As far as I know, the religions you mentioned are not apocalyptic, although I could be wrong.


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xtianity / insanity

 

      What Christianity is today is what Saul of Tarsus thought it was suppose to be.      He confused John the Baptist,  with Mithra of Zoastrianism and a few traveling preacher / rabbis with a real person he heard of as Yoshua Bar Yusuf b'nai adonai or in Greek (Sauls'language of choice) Jesu Christos.

      Jesus & Mithra  did not exist,   John the Baptiser did and Saul/Paul has been described variously has Bi-polar,  epileptic and/or schezophrenic;  in other words nuts!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Switch89 wrote:We're not

Switch89 wrote:

We're not discussing whether Xtianity is right. We're discussing whether it had a historical founder. Duh!!

As far as I know, the religions you mentioned are not apocalyptic, although I could be wrong.

Only in part. The full question I think is, "Did Christianity have a historical founder and is that founder the Jesus described in the Bible?"

Did christianity have a historical founder? Actually, it had many. Many people borrowed from many sources to build Christianity.

Was there a rabbi named Jesus who had claimed messiahship involved? Possibly.

Was this Jesus the "son of God" described in the Bible? No way.

 

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Jeffrick wrote:      

Jeffrick wrote:

 

      What Christianity is today is what Saul of Tarsus thought it was suppose to be.      He confused John the Baptist,  with Mithra of Zoastrianism and a few traveling preacher / rabbis with a real person he heard of as Yoshua Bar Yusuf b'nai adonai or in Greek (Sauls'language of choice) Jesu Christos.

      Jesus & Mithra  did not exist,   John the Baptiser did and Saul/Paul has been described variously has Bi-polar,  epileptic and/or schezophrenic;  in other words nuts!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

Where did the Synoptics come from, given that they run headlong into Paul's teaching? 

"When the Lord Jesus Christ in His own words describes in some little detail that great drama that's the most important event in all human history, time, and eternity - this event, the great general judgment - the Lord Jesus Christ, then shall He say unto them on His right hand, 'Come ye blessed of My Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world, for when you had opportunity at one of Billy Graham's campaigns you went forward and took good ol' Jesus as your very own personal savior.' NO! GET REAL!" - Fred Phelps


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Flagg wrote:Jeffrick

Flagg wrote:

Jeffrick wrote:

 

      What Christianity is today is what Saul of Tarsus thought it was suppose to be.      He confused John the Baptist,  with Mithra of Zoastrianism and a few traveling preacher / rabbis with a real person he heard of as Yoshua Bar Yusuf b'nai adonai or in Greek (Sauls'language of choice) Jesu Christos.

      Jesus & Mithra  did not exist,   John the Baptiser did and Saul/Paul has been described variously has Bi-polar,  epileptic and/or schezophrenic;  in other words nuts!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

Where did the Synoptics come from, given that they run headlong into Paul's teaching? 

Paul's work was written first amd laid a foundation for them. The Gospel writers had a good two decades to study Paul's work and the OT to build their character studies.

"I do this real moron thing, and it's called thinking. And apparently I'm not a very good American because I like to form my own opinions."
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natural wrote:So, by that

natural wrote:

So, by that reasoning, there probably was a Mithra, upon whom the religion of Mithraism was founded. And there probably was an Orpheus, upon whom the Orphic religion was founded.

Wait a sec! These are all contradictory religions! They can't all be right.... Hmm.... Maybe none of them are.

the existence of a guy named mithra, and a guy named orpheus, and a guy named jesus are not contradictions.

"If you can make any religion of the world look ridiculous, chances are you haven't understood it"-Ravi Zacharias


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I can write about jesus too

I can write about jesus too !!!!!!!!!  Hey,  I am Jesus    


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mig_killer2 wrote:natural

mig_killer2 wrote:

natural wrote:

So, by that reasoning, there probably was a Mithra, upon whom the religion of Mithraism was founded. And there probably was an Orpheus, upon whom the Orphic religion was founded.

Wait a sec! These are all contradictory religions! They can't all be right.... Hmm.... Maybe none of them are.

the existence of a guy named mithra, and a guy named orpheus, and a guy named jesus are not contradictions.

Then again, Jesus didn't have a religion named after him. Christianity was named after the title "Christ" or christos, meaning "anointed one". If I mumbled a prayer to a diety and put some olive oil on a chair (it might not mean as much as I don't have access to the cannabis loaded olive oil they had), that chair would be "christ". If I formed a religion about that chair, I could call it christianity. It is, after all, named after an anointed one.

"I do this real moron thing, and it's called thinking. And apparently I'm not a very good American because I like to form my own opinions."
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Flagg wrote:Where did the

Flagg wrote:
Where did the Synoptics come from, given that they run headlong into Paul's teaching? 

Two are mainly based on the third, showing a tendency for traditions to develop. All you need do is project the tendency back to the time between Paul and the writing of the first gospel compilation of traditions.

If you've played the game of chinese whispers you'll know that lots of information enters the chain merely in the telling of information from one hearer to the next. That's in a matter of a few minutes as per the game. In the development of traditions the repetition of the tellings happens over years and, with a matter of belief, there is an active desire to know more, leading to conjecture and imaginative explanation and elucidation.

Paul has a revelation from Jesus: he needs no historical information from before his time and experience. He teaches his congregations what he understands and they accept it and tell it to others and the tradition, not based on any historical data, expands.

 

 

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Is it just me...I am not

Is it just me...I am not impressed by the work of John Loftus at all. The most fantastic thing about his new 2nd edition book is how he got so many well known atheists to write blurbs for it. Did he pay them to write those blurbs? Loftus's arguments for a historical Jesus are just plain bad - bordering on embarrassing.


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vinny wrote:Is it just

vinny wrote:

Is it just me...I am not impressed by the work of John Loftus at all. The most fantastic thing about his new 2nd edition book is how he got so many well known atheists to write blurbs for it. Did he pay them to write those blurbs? Loftus's arguments for a historical Jesus are just plain bad - bordering on embarrassing.

I think the most impressive thing Loftus brings to the table is his apparent credentials in the scholarly-believers/apologists circles. He's the only 'new atheist' I know of who's gotten significant positive blurbs from apologists such as Norman Geisler.

I'm reading his book right now, and while it is not particularly thought-provoking to me, his real target audience is educated believers, and he takes the time to address them thoroughly, as opposed to say Dawkins, Dennett, Hitchens, or Harris. He approaches it from their perspective, moreso than not.

To put it one way, he 'takes the ridiculous seriously'. In other words, he takes likely arguments theists might make and takes the time to thoroughly debunk them. Whereas other 'new atheists' would basically just blow off the ridiculous arguments with a brisk "... but that's an obvious non-sequitur".

I think Loftus makes a good bridge from atheist language to apologist language. For instance, his arguments do not go into depth into logic, but instead use argument from authority and other informal fallacies which -- like it or not -- actually do hold weight with believers.

Another useful thing Loftus brings to the table is how he repackages old atheist rejoinders into full-fledged arguments against theism. Probably his strongest example of this is his Outsider Test (chapter 4; 10 pages). Whereas an atheist will respond to theist arguments with something like: "Well if you believe in biblical miracles, why don't you believe Mohammed flew on a horse to heaven?" or "The burden of proof is on he who claims". Instead, Loftus takes the time to spell out all the gory details about why these rejoinders make sense. He makes a thorough case for why theists have an intellectual responsibility to examine their own beliefs as if they were outsiders from the belief. Christians should look at Christianity from the perspective of non-Christians, etc. Loftus uses his own personal deconversion story to add emotional/anecdotal weight to his argument.

In short, while I agree his arguments are not as strong as other 'new atheists', he brings a valuable angle to the table that other 'new atheists' do not, probably because it doesn't occur to them that they need to take the time to explicitly detail what 'should be obvious to anyone who knows anything about logic'.

I'm quite excited actually, that Loftus can start a new phase in the conversation that Sam Harris said he was trying to start with The End of Faith. I hope Loftus inspires other hardcore-theists-turned-rationalist-atheists to pick up the baton and run with it. The goal after all is to actually convince people, remember. If it takes a little anecdotal reasoning to get people to start to question, it can't hurt. There is no one way. It takes all kinds.

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natural, thanks for writing

natural, thanks for writing that. It says alot about why I post the way I do, as I struggle to understand the religious mind set. I need Lot's more practice. Never being a believer may be part of my problem. 

I still agree with my late mom who said,  everything that exists is simply god and in this sense we are all exactly the same as all others including any person such as jesus, buddha, etc  and certainly not the ridiculous jesus idol invention of the church.


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I've never had a problem

I've never had a problem with the idea of an historical Jesus. Josephus mentioned some of those messianic types running around at that time, and the gospels, especially Mathew's, seems to involve a little post-humus spin-doctoring to suggest that the charismatic preacher who they followed was just as good as the other deities that were popular at the time.  I think Paul/Saul wanted to promote his own ideas and claimed to have met the ghost of Jesus to give his non-Jewish movement more credibility.


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natural wrote:So, by that

natural wrote:

So, by that reasoning, there probably was a Mithra, upon whom the religion of Mithraism was founded. And there probably was an Orpheus, upon whom the Orphic religion was founded.

actually, having majored in classical studies, i can tell you that that's exactly the reasoning many scholars follow.  there are lots of arguments for a historical odin, heracles, achilles, osiris, etc.  of course, no reputable scholar identifies them with their respective myths.  rather, the story goes that a warrior or king is made into a local legend, the stories seep through borders and become common currency, and thus take on their familiar, mythical forms.

thanks to the persians, the seleucids, the romans, etc., ancient gods and heroes were traded around like pokemon cards.  still, many scholars hypothesize, and i think reasonably so, that there had to be some concrete event that gave the impetus for creating a new deity, hero, or myth.  of course, they usually offer more evidence than that, but it's been a long time since i've been familiar with the literature.

shit, it's more plausible than jung's collective unconscious, anyhow.

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I said, 'Father change my name.'
The one I'm using now it's covered up
with fear and filth and cowardice and shame."
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Those Blurbs!

vinny wrote:

Is it just me...I am not impressed by the work of John Loftus at all. The most fantastic thing about his new 2nd edition book is how he got so many well known atheists to write blurbs for it. Did he pay them to write those blurbs? Loftus's arguments for a historical Jesus are just plain bad - bordering on embarrassing.

Hey, in case people wonder how I got so many great blurbs from important people on both sides of our debate that recommend my book, let it be known that to pay these people for them I had to take out a huge loan, and I'll probably be able to pay the loan off in ten years! Eye-wink

 

I just can't see any other reason for why they would do so. Eye-wink

 


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Hi John,When are you going

Hi John,

When are you going to get out there on the debate circuit? I think it would be really interesting to see you debate people like Albert Mohler, for instance. See http://www.dts.edu/media/play/?MediaItemID=2c91a646-af23-4a26-99a0-8950c9501e5c.

Do you have any recent media appearances that might be of interest (radio, podcast, whatever)? I heard you on the Infidel Guy's YouTube channel, which is what prompted me to buy your book.

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Natural, there is a podcast

Natural, there is a podcast available from Dan Barker's Freethought Radio ffrf.org/radio/ where John was interviewed. I listened to it earlier this week

 

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natural wrote:So, by that

natural wrote:

So, by that reasoning, there probably was a Mithra, upon whom the religion of Mithraism was founded. And there probably was an Orpheus, upon whom the Orphic religion was founded.

Wait a sec! These are all contradictory religions! They can't all be right.... Hmm.... Maybe none of them are.

Actually, there is a good possibility that there was a figure in Persian history upon whom Mithra is based, a human figure whose history grew into mythic proportions and figured into a larger religious tapestry (Zoroastrianism) to which he never really belonged. Before there was the mythical figure Mithra there was the Vedic concept of mitra, which among other things represented a contract of honor (and, usually, of peace). Even in Persian lands (like its nearby Proto-Indian lands) one of the functions of some deities was that of king-maker, and considering the character Mithra became one of martial prowess as well as one based on honoring a covenant-- there are prayers to Mithra meant to bring or maintain prosperity by invoking a covenant to him-- it's not outside the realm of reason to speculate that the personification of the more ambiguous concept came about by basing the character on a human model (or models).

The mistake here is to assume that the Mithras religion sprang up separately from its Persian and Proto-Indian roots, where the character of Mithra (and Mithras to the Romans) was derived. We're talking two whole degrees of separation beyond a connection of Jesus to Christianity, mind you, so being able to provide any single historical character as a basis for Mithra would be ridiculously difficult to attempt. However, enough is known of the culture who originally worshipped (or, more accurately, revered) Mithra that it's not outside the realm of probability that the human characteristics attributed to the figure had some human template, most likely coming from known figures of authority who personified the concepts from which the etymology of the name is derived. That the Romans later imprinted the character of Mithra (named Mithras) into the Hellenistic/Roman pantheism is evident, but the probability of the original concept of Mithra having some terrestrial basis is about as high as that of the probability of the mythical character Agamemnon or Osiris, both of whom are (often) thought to have been based on heretofore unknown political characters from unrecorded (oral) history in their respective regions.

In other words, it's not as simple as you propose. History just isn't that binary in terms of certainty, espeially when going back to times and locations where writing wasn't nearly as common as it is today. Add to that the ability of religion to muddle and obfuscate historical data-- for example, while it may be clear to me that Joseph Smith was a fraud, attempts to present evidence of this assertion are remarkably difficult due to restrictions of access to many data sources held by the LDS church, which is a comparatively more recent religion-- and the chances of finding any real certainty on the subject are greatly lessened.

Part of the problem is indeed that absence of evidence is not evidence of absence (though only a small part), but more importantly is the reality that confirmation bias and data corruption simply makes complete certainty more difficult when dealing with limited data sources in the first place. This is actually one of the reasons I look forward to reading the research that Rook has been engaged in, because I find the attempts to fill in a dearth of gaps, especially gaps so far removed by time and human intervention, to be fascinating and exciting. The fact that Rook seems to do so in a scholarly and self-checking manner makes for a reassuring likelihood that his work isn't just an exercise in confirmation bias.