How Miracles came to be Associated with Jesus

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How Miracles came to be Associated with Jesus

Alright, this is my first post, which I decided to post after a long following in silent support of this site.  What drew me to post this was the fact that it (this line of reasoning) baffles me even as a non-believer.  Specifically, I recalled about a month prior to posting now thoughts concerning a couple works: Josh McDowell's "Evidence for a Creator" I believe, as well as that whole "lord,liar,lunatic" trilemma that held sway with me when I believed in God.  Later on, I came to doubt God's existence, then recently almost like an epiphany these things cropped up in my mind for no apparent reason, and I am remiss to explain them in terms outside of supernatural origin (I suppose there are better reasons, being as I am here!).  So what I'm basically looking for is to learn more about breaking apart this lord,liar,lunatic trilemma with a fourth option, legend.  I have always doubted that things in the bible have happened as supposed but presuming to know Jesus to be a legend without good reason is as dogmatic as the reasoning I hoped to avoid in distancing myself from religious belief.

 

What I am hoping to discuss is the whole notion of the miracles of Jesus.  We all know what they claim to be, so I don't have to get into them here.  Specifically, I'm interested in hearing viewpoints of how modern day Christianity came to be associated with these miracles, starting from the early days of the supposed Jesus.  What is the current consensus, if there is one, concerning how these fantastic tales came to be associated with Jesus?

 

How I imagine Jesus historically (assuming, I know, that Jesus existed, which may be a leap already), is that he was some travelling preacher, tried to teach things, then pissed off the wrong people and was killed (essentially by people of his own religion).  Later, the reason for the great delay unknown to myself and perhaps history, about 70 AD (don't know how this was dated, just going off of what I have read about dating the new testament), "Mark" wrote his gospel, the others followed, then centuries later these divergent books were codified essentially into the Bible that we all know and love.

 

Assuming that I am not wrong so far, how does everyone figure that miracles were added? And the bigger question is why were they fabricated? Was it more probable that it was deliberate or along the lines of the game of 'telephone' that gave rise to Jesus as a legendary figure?

 

 

 

 

 


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Welcome to the forum.I

Welcome to the forum.

I haven't the studied the Bible that much, but I'll just write what I think about it.

Miracles such as walking on water, rising from the dead, healing the sick, calming storms, etc. were all conceptualized before Jesus. Almost none of the supernatural events recorded as taking place during Jesus's life were original to Christianity, so this already makes me more skeptical about the validity of anything written about Jesus in the Bible. It's definitely plausible that a religious figure named Jesus lived at the time, but I don't know how much of the Bible is correct on this.     

So, did people make up lies or is it more like 'telephone?' I would guess that it's most likely a combination of both. It's certainly not as hard to start a religion as most people probably think. Think about Elvis worship (telephone) or Scientology (lies). 

In the end, I just rely on the statement that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. It's one thing to say that a man named Jesus existed; it's another thing entirely to claim that he was the son of God. For that, I want to see some really solid evidence, and so far, the amount of evidence that I've seen for any of it is about zero.

Our revels now are ended. These our actors, | As I foretold you, were all spirits, and | Are melted into air, into thin air; | And, like the baseless fabric of this vision, | The cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces, | The solemn temples, the great globe itself, - Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve, | And, like this insubstantial pageant faded, | Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff | As dreams are made on, and our little life | Is rounded with a sleep. - Shakespeare


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I'd argue against the existence of jesus

 

and i agree with butter that miracles are far older than the jesus myth. All the earlier gods and even roman emperors carried out miraculous works, from Pallas Athena to Horus, to Mithras and 1000 in between. Miracles, in my opinion, represent the human brain's penchant for wishful thinking, itself probably an extension of a normalcy bias.

I would not be surprised to find that odd turns of events also fuel the miracle factory. For instance, if the red sea crossing really did occur, there would have been a drought going on and the priests would have read much into nothing. Personally, I agree with Elbert Hubbard, who once said: "A miracle is an event described by those to whom it was told, by those who never saw it."

We need iwb or John Paul to trawl their strong knowledge of this stuff for the first recorded religious miracle. Surely it predates mediterranean civilisation by thousands of years. For instance, the Australian Aborigine's Rainbow Serpent is a fertility god with magical powers who actively sends fertility spirits to waterholes among other miraculous interventions. Images of the god in Aboriginal rock art are up to 8000 years old.

"Experiments are the only means of knowledge at our disposal. The rest is poetry, imagination." Max Planck


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Well, I don't really get the

Well, I don't really get the whole jesus myth thing. I will grant that nobody ever walked on water but even so, there could be some grains of truth that are buried in the story. For example, there were plenty of itinerant preachers walking around back then (just as there are today). The best stories for several of them may have been packaged together and then the miracle stories were laid on top of that much. Really, we can't say that that never happened either but it is certainly possible.

 

In any case, getting to the main question of just how the stories got packaged together is of some interest to me. To get to that, it seems to me that we need to know how the NT came to be written.

 

You did observe that Mark is considered by scholars to have been written somewhere about CE 70 or so. Then Matthew and Luke built on that. Honestly, that is something of an educated guess based on the earliest texts that we have thus far found. Realistically, we do not have even a single scrap of papyrus that could have come from such an early copy. However, the oldest copies that we do have show usage of Greek that are consistent with that approximate date.

 

There is another dead giveaway, in that none of the epistles seem to mention the gospels, which indicates that the gospels were probably written later even thought they are presented first in the NT. Of course, the epistles all seem to view JC as a fairly legendary character much as the other similar people who were presented as the founders of other religious beliefs were also the stuff of myth.

 

Past that, the first stories (even going on an historical JC assumption) were probably told word of mouth, so right there, you have your game of telephone going on. Later on, when the stories were written down, books still had to be hand copied and the early scribes doing the work were occasionally sloppy. Mistakes were made from time to time and when those were copied, the mistakes were copied over as well.

 

If any given mistake was especially bad, someone might change the text to put it back to what it ought to say. Except that this also introduces errors as well. Something like a duplicated line might be very obvious to the right scribe and could be corrected easily enough. However, some things that might seem to be errors might not have been. Rather, the scribe might have felt that some bit of text just came off wrong to his way of thinking and the changed it to conform to what he felt the bible ought to say.

 

One especially poor bit concerns the genealogy of JC. There are surviving old copies where some scribe clearly had a list that was in two columns but he read across the page as if it were only one column. Humorously enough, not only are the names in the wrong order but we also are given the name of god the father's, well, his father.

 

Before I get away from that, I would also note that both versions of the genealogy can be read as indicating that Joseph was his father. At least they say that that is what people thought back then. The whole son of god thing apparently comes from somewhere else.

 

Then too, there are parts of the bible that simply do not appear in the older texts but seem to have been added in because they tell a great story. For example, the whole thing about “let he who is without sin cast the first stone” appears in no text prior to the tenth century CE. Most Xtians consider that to be a rather important part of the text but they don't know that it appears to have been a fairly recent addition.

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First of all... welcome.

 

 

 

            The current bible (KJV) was codefied around the forth century, in the time of Emporer Constantine  --  because his mother told him to  --  . Now that would be 3 to 4 hundred years after the facts.   I  do not believe that the Jesus charactor was ever a real person. Paul of Tarsus never thought so either and he was pretty much the founder of modern christianity.

 

             Any aspect of christ (or Yeoshua Bar Yeosuph) or {Joshua son of Joseph} or -- pick any name the charactor has had meny -- /  can be traced back directly to Lord Mithras of the Zorastrian religion;  even Julius Caeser wrote about "devout Judaens' who made offerings at the main temple of Mithras direct to the head priest { called "the Papa!"}. The main temple was just around the corner from his mothers apartment building,  the temple was on Vatican hill, Caeser was writing about the time of 90 BCE.

 

 

             If you are willing to believe that a teenage girl ( a virgin --  that's what the word ment in Hebrew)  nine  months pregnant was thrown on a donkey for a 100 + miles journey to Bethleham, for NO LOGICAL reason. Census/taxes????  She was between 13 &  16 years old.  She didn't pay taxes and the Censers didn't give a rats ass about a non-Roman female teenager.  Then if you believe this fairy tale you can be a good christian;  or use your brain  --  apply a little logic and decide it didn't happen.

 

 

              Nazareth did not exist as a town untill cr. 25 CE;/ (J.C. would be an adult by then)  Nazarenes  --  a sect of Judaism did exist -- they were known for their  'fire & brimstone rabbis' and the dead sea scrolls.  Somewhere in the forth century the writers of the Nicaen bible started confusing Joshua the Nazarene  with  Joshua of Nazareth.  The N.T. even ID's J.C. as a nazarene several times;  read carefully and you might realize they were not writing of his home town but of his sect.

 

 

             J.C. could not be a carpenter,  no trees near Nazareth;    the local craftsmen were stone cutters;  they still are -- go look --  I did.   J.C. didn't grow up there anyways,   the town did not exist.   The church of the immaculate conception   sits on top of a grave yard;  why????  Because Emporer Constantines mother Helene said it was the sight of Mary's family home.   Helene  was wrong!!!!!   No  Judaen  --  then or now --  would build over a graveyard ;  it's not kosher!!!!!!!!!

 

 

              It is my opinion and perhaps meny others that   Yeoshua Bar Yeuseph was humanized from the fictional Lord Mithras  and ammalgamated into several itinerate wondering preachers of the early firstcentury Galilie. Jesus Christ,  Jesu christos,  joshua Bar Joseph or in a modern translation  -- John Doe --,  simply did not exist.

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First, thanks for all of the

First, thanks for all of the thoughtful responses.  I appreciate everyone's time and input in the making of them.  (And not to detract from anyone else who might not have a chance to have their say, please, go ahead)

 

Might anyone be able to recommend me to any works of serious scholarship on these matters? Are there any particularly good books that someone could recommend? Or websites?


I'm also curious as to whether or not it could be that the early founders, writers, copiers, of Christian texts and faith could have basically been aware of the fact that they were in the process of making a myth, that they simply didn't care as to the far distant future consequences.  That's more just an opinion than anything else...one of the difficulties I still have when I think of how the NT must have come to be is I imagine a bunch of snickering tricksters gathering around some scrolls, fully aware of the fact that they're creating a wholly inaccurate document and not caring.  That said if Christianity were an out and out fraud, I'm sure it's not the first.

 

All in all I think that the legend explanation is more accurate, in that no one person could be said to necessarily be 'lying', but when it gets to the end to be written down, it's all screwed up in a variety of ways. 

 

Yet another thing that I've pondered is the fact, mentioned above, that Paul (as far as I recall, could be wrong) doesn't even claim to have met Jesus whatsoever.  And (could be wrong here again) these are guessed at being the earliest records, pre-dating the time when followers had collected enough donations from others to afford literate scribes.  Given the little that I know of the larger Roman myths in which infantile Christianity grew up in, it could very well be that at some point, some church father in the spirit of ecumenicism, sought to rectify Pagan myths with those of his new religion.  While I have to state that I have no evidence whatsoever for this claim, it's merely a conjecture, that might explain quite a bit.  The earliest eyewitnesses (assuming for the sake of argument they exist) could have been truthful in believing Jesus to be the fulfillment of the Messianic prophesies, passed along their relatively benign spiritual beliefs through Paul, and then at some later unspecified date religious beliefs began to co-mingle between Christianity and other myths of the time. 

Thanks again for the responses guys, I look forward to participating further in this forum.


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...

Miracles tend to be associated with lying douchebags. (Catholic church, for example) EoS...

“A meritocratic society is one in which inequalities of wealth and social position solely reflect the unequal distribution of merit or skills amongst human beings, or are based upon factors beyond human control, for example luck or chance. Such a society is socially just because individuals are judged not by their gender, the colour of their skin or their religion, but according to their talents and willingness to work, or on what Martin Luther King called 'the content of their character'. By extension, social equality is unjust because it treats unequal individuals equally.” "Political Ideologies" by Andrew Heywood (2003)


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11111011 wrote:First, thanks

11111011 wrote:

First, thanks for all of the thoughtful responses.  I appreciate everyone's time and input in the making of them.  (And not to detract from anyone else who might not have a chance to have their say, please, go ahead)

 

Might anyone be able to recommend me to any works of serious scholarship on these matters? Are there any particularly good books that someone could recommend? Or websites?

I don't study religion a lot, so my sources are not the latest and greatest on middle eastern archeology and scholarship.  But I was able to understand these sources when I read them:

The Mythmaker by Hyam Maccoby - http://www.amazon.com/Mythmaker-Hyam-Maccoby/dp/0760707871/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1271226346&sr=8-1

Bible Unearthed, Israel Frankenstein and Neil Asher Silberman - http://www.amazon.com/Bible-Unearthed-Archaeologys-Vision-Ancient/dp/0756776708/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1271226424&sr=1-1

The Unearthed one is about the old testament, and it's main focus is the archeology.  But it has some good information on how they believe the early parts of the bible were put together and incorporated local myths.

If you are curious about early christian writings, I think this web site has most of them.  http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/

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cj wrote:If you are curious

cj wrote:
If you are curious about early christian writings, I think this web site has most of them.  http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/

 

Thanks for that resource, I shall have to check out the others as time and money permit. 

I dove into the Gospel of Thomas, quite an interesting read. 

I will have to do some more reading into the process by which certain books were chosen to be the 'right ones' of the Bible we have now.  Seems that the Apocryphal writings shed a significant amount of light on the fact that at least some of the accounts either differed significantly from other accounts, or they were all, in the spirit of Scientology, musings of either outright frauds or lunatics.

Some of the interesting quotes:

Jesus understands how banks operate:

Quote:
95) Jesus said, "If you have money, do not lend it at interest, but give it to one from whom you will not get it back."

 

A WTF moment with Jesus:

Quote:

13. Jesus said to his disciples, "Compare me to something and tell me what I am like."

Simon Peter said to him, "You are like a just messenger."

Matthew said to him, "You are like a wise philosopher."

Thomas said to him, "Teacher, my mouth is utterly unable to say what you are like."

Jesus said, "I am not your teacher. Because you have drunk, you have become intoxicated from the bubbling spring that I have tended."

And he took him, and withdrew, and spoke three sayings to him. When Thomas came back to his friends they asked him, "What did Jesus say to you?"

Thomas said to them, "If I tell you one of the sayings he spoke to me, you will pick up rocks and stone me, and fire will come from the rocks and devour you."

 

Give Jesus the money you don't give to Caesar :

Quote:

(100) They showed Jesus a gold coin and said to him, "Caesar's men demand taxes from us."
He said to them, "Give Caesar what belongs to Caesar, give God what belongs to God, and give me what is mine."

The Kingdom is like hidden treasure in your backyard:

Quote:

(109) Jesus said, "The kingdom is like a man who had a hidden treasure in his field without knowing it. And after he died, he left it to his son. The son did not know (about the treasure). He inherited the field and sold it. And the one who bought it went plowing and found the treasure. He began to lend money at interest to whomever he wished."

Ladies, graft a penis onto yourselves, lest you forsake the Kingdom of Heaven:

Quote:
(114) Simon Peter said to him, "Let Mary leave us, for women are not worthy of life."
Jesus said, "I myself shall lead her in order to make her male, so that she too may become a living spirit resembling you males. For every woman who will make herself male will enter the kingdom of heaven."

???????:

Quote:

(11) Jesus said, "This heaven will pass away, and the one above it will pass away. The dead are not alive, and the living will not die. In the days when you consumed what is dead, you made it what is alive. When you come to dwell in the light, what will you do? On the day when you were one you became two. But when you become two, what will you do?"


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The Gospels are Less Mysterious Then We've Been Lead to Think

Hi there.

Just wanted to share a few thoughts with you.

I've spent a lot of time reading about this - as a former Christian myself - and think I can shed a good bit of light on your question about how the gospels came about.

It's a question I also had and feel I've answered to a more satisfying degree I ever imagined possible actually.

(Mainly with the help of liberal new testament scholars.)

 

WHY HISTORIANS BELIEVE JESUS WAS A HISTORIC FIGURE

Unlike some of the comments here, the consensus view is certainly that Jesus was a real historic person and no mere invention based on the myths of other religions.

One of the best arguments for this that has convinced even secular historians is the presence of content in the gospels - for example - that does not reflect what Christians should WANT to say about Jesus.  But would rather appear to reflect something that they HAVE TO acknowledge because everyone already knows its actually what happened.

Examples of this would be Jesus coming from the town of Nazareth rather than Betheleham - where the messiah was expected to be born.  For this reason, you'll notice Matthew and Luke go to a lot of trouble to invent ways for Jesus to be born in Bethleham while still growing up in Nazareth as everyone already probably knew he did.

Also, there is Jesus baptism by John the Baptist.  Why would Jesus be baptized by someone else if he is the greatest and closest to God?  This embarrassing issue Matthew later added to what he took from Mark to try and address - with John the Baptist apologetically baptizing Jesus saying that he should be baptizing him.  The question is of course, why would Christians include this in the first place if they were just inventing every detail of Jesus' life?  It's much more probably it was a well-known detail that they had to deal with to be taken seriously by their audience.

(This "criterian" of the historian is called the criterian of dissimilarity.)

 

WRITING THE GOSPELS

While there are good reasons to think that some of what we find in the gospels is historically reliable (like the embarrassing details mentioned above), much of it is questionable.

There are two main reasons I'm aware of for this:

1) Contradictions.

The Gospels contradict one another on significant details.  For example Mark and John disagree on when Jesus died.  Was it the day after the Passover meal was eaten or the day before?  Mark says the former and John says the later.

How many animals did Jesus ride into Jerusalem on?

Was it one like Mark says or two like Matthew says?

And there are countless others.

However, these two in particular clue us into a very significant thing occuring in the gospels.

The reason John appears to be having Jesus during the day prior to the Passover meal being eaten - changing what was written in the gospel that was written decades before his and most likely inspired him writing his own similar texted (though taking a difference approach) - is to make a theological point about Jesus.

John actually has Jesus crucified at precisely the time that the Passover lamb was slain prior to the meal.  This would reflect - in a symbolic way - the Christian belief that Jesus was the new Passover lamb.  A view the Apostle Paul himself had expressed in his letter to the Corinthians 30-50 years earlier.  In other words, a view that had been around in Christian circles for sometime before John decided to symbolically express it in this way - by changing a detail from the earlier gospel narratives.

Matthew also appears to have a theological intent in mind when he alters Mark's story of Jesus riding into Jerusalem on one animal to two.  (Matthew by the way uses 90% of the content in Mark - changing a good deal of it in theologically significant ways.)

Matthew quotes a messianic scripture directly - about the messiah riding into Jerusalem on an animal.  If you read the text without an understanding of a particular idiosycricity of Jewish writing - you would think it is talking about the messiah riding into Jerusalem on two animals.  But historians tell us that this is a mistake and that thereby Mark's version of the story actually better reflects what the scripture actually says.

The key point here being in both cases - that we see the gospel authors getting their details for their portrayals of Jesus life FROM THEOLOGY rather than HISTORY.

 

There are historically problematic and theologically examples in all four gospels.  And even more theologically explainable content that given what we see in these examples also comes into question.

(There's also content in the gospels that comes into question because it shows contradictions between the gospels in how they portray Jesus taking a stance on a particular issue - with different gospel authors having him take a different side.)

 

I'm currently writing a book that surveys a lot of this in detail.

If you're interested, I can send you a copy when I'm done.

 

But now to tackle you're question about the miracles of Jesus - also something I look at in the book.

 

THE MIRACLES OF JESUS

In light of how the record reflects the gospel authors using theological ideas and scriptural sources for content in their narratives - again there's much more to this than the sparse examples here reflect - we might ask - do the miracles of Jesus in the gospels have theological explainations that would also put them into the category of content int he gospels that this pattern of the authors cast into historic doubt?

And the answer is a clear and firm YES.

What the examples we can look at show is that the gospel authors not only get details for Jesus life based on expectations for the messiah (like Matthews using the scripture about the triumphant entry into Jerusalem - although misread - for his tale of Jesus riding 2 animals into the city) but also based on the stories about other Jewish prophets found in the Old Testament.

The miracles of Jesus appear to have both of these interest of the gospel authors as there best explanation.

If you're aware of the story of John the Baptist asking one of Jesus disciples if he is the real messiah they've been waiting for or if they should look for someone else and what Jesus says in response, you know the first reason why.

This story has Jesus tell his disciple to tell John the Baptist that Jesus has done several different kinds of miracles - all which are found as messianic expecations in the prophet of Isaiah's writings (though scholars believe the book had multiple authors.)

This shows that the gospel authors - beginning with Mark who first presents the story - are concerned with Jesus fulfilling messianic expectations in terms of mircles.

You can then see how stories of miracles of Jesus they present correlate with the messianic expectations that they have Jesus quote from Isaiah.

Since we've seen that the gospel authors are willing to present non-historic content for theological reasons - and we see here a theological interest - we can not trust the miracle stories they present as historically reliable.

Further, several of the miracle stories they present - fit their pattern of presenting details of Jesus life based on theology and scripture; including the miracles of prophets in the Old Testament.

This includes miracles like Jesus feeding the 5,000 by multiplying food or raising the widows son from the dead.

Both of these have ready parallels in the life of the prophet Elijah; a prophet who Mark himself has the disciples say some people thoguth Jesus was - showing it was a theological theme he was aware of... and perhaps used in writing his gospel.  These stories subsequent gospels authors borrow and expand on or alterate.

 

There's a lot more to the story, but I hope that addresses you're question at least a basic level.

(My book will have all scripture verses for both Old and New Testament listed... just didn't do here for time sake.)

 

Regards,

DJ Wilkins


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Interesting post DJ

 

thanks for putting the time in on it. I fall into the no jesus category myself. I could be persuaded Jesus was a compilation of a number of messanic figures of the time but I can't help thinking he was a spiritual figure who was later configured with human characteristics that were expected of him from the OT and/or immediately fell to mind as having happened in the near past.

The fact he is only referenced in the gospels and not outside them in any serious way is a deal breaker for me. The early church's need to fabricate proof of his existence provides me with further doubt. They were there on the spot but as the arguments raged over whose god was real and whose was contrived none of the early church father's reached for the big gun. There simply wasn't one.

 

 

 

 

 

 

"Experiments are the only means of knowledge at our disposal. The rest is poetry, imagination." Max Planck


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This was a pretty A+ post.

This was a pretty A+ post. Definitely sell me a book once it's written!

Can you tell us more about your indirect sources (i.e. teh biblical scholars?). Are they contacts of yours, or you been doing a load of library work. Any good reads to recommend?

DJ Wilkins wrote:

Hi there.

Just wanted to share a few thoughts with you.

I've spent a lot of time reading about this - as a former Christian myself - and think I can shed a good bit of light on your question about how the gospels came about.

It's a question I also had and feel I've answered to a more satisfying degree I ever imagined possible actually.

(Mainly with the help of liberal new testament scholars.)

 

WHY HISTORIANS BELIEVE JESUS WAS A HISTORIC FIGURE

Unlike some of the comments here, the consensus view is certainly that Jesus was a real historic person and no mere invention based on the myths of other religions.

One of the best arguments for this that has convinced even secular historians is the presence of content in the gospels - for example - that does not reflect what Christians should WANT to say about Jesus.  But would rather appear to reflect something that they HAVE TO acknowledge because everyone already knows its actually what happened.

Examples of this would be Jesus coming from the town of Nazareth rather than Betheleham - where the messiah was expected to be born.  For this reason, you'll notice Matthew and Luke go to a lot of trouble to invent ways for Jesus to be born in Bethleham while still growing up in Nazareth as everyone already probably knew he did.

Also, there is Jesus baptism by John the Baptist.  Why would Jesus be baptized by someone else if he is the greatest and closest to God?  This embarrassing issue Matthew later added to what he took from Mark to try and address - with John the Baptist apologetically baptizing Jesus saying that he should be baptizing him.  The question is of course, why would Christians include this in the first place if they were just inventing every detail of Jesus' life?  It's much more probably it was a well-known detail that they had to deal with to be taken seriously by their audience.

(This "criterian" of the historian is called the criterian of dissimilarity.)

 

WRITING THE GOSPELS

While there are good reasons to think that some of what we find in the gospels is historically reliable (like the embarrassing details mentioned above), much of it is questionable.

There are two main reasons I'm aware of for this:

1) Contradictions.

The Gospels contradict one another on significant details.  For example Mark and John disagree on when Jesus died.  Was it the day after the Passover meal was eaten or the day before?  Mark says the former and John says the later.

How many animals did Jesus ride into Jerusalem on?

Was it one like Mark says or two like Matthew says?

And there are countless others.

However, these two in particular clue us into a very significant thing occuring in the gospels.

The reason John appears to be having Jesus during the day prior to the Passover meal being eaten - changing what was written in the gospel that was written decades before his and most likely inspired him writing his own similar texted (though taking a difference approach) - is to make a theological point about Jesus.

John actually has Jesus crucified at precisely the time that the Passover lamb was slain prior to the meal.  This would reflect - in a symbolic way - the Christian belief that Jesus was the new Passover lamb.  A view the Apostle Paul himself had expressed in his letter to the Corinthians 30-50 years earlier.  In other words, a view that had been around in Christian circles for sometime before John decided to symbolically express it in this way - by changing a detail from the earlier gospel narratives.

Matthew also appears to have a theological intent in mind when he alters Mark's story of Jesus riding into Jerusalem on one animal to two.  (Matthew by the way uses 90% of the content in Mark - changing a good deal of it in theologically significant ways.)

Matthew quotes a messianic scripture directly - about the messiah riding into Jerusalem on an animal.  If you read the text without an understanding of a particular idiosycricity of Jewish writing - you would think it is talking about the messiah riding into Jerusalem on two animals.  But historians tell us that this is a mistake and that thereby Mark's version of the story actually better reflects what the scripture actually says.

The key point here being in both cases - that we see the gospel authors getting their details for their portrayals of Jesus life FROM THEOLOGY rather than HISTORY.

 

There are historically problematic and theologically examples in all four gospels.  And even more theologically explainable content that given what we see in these examples also comes into question.

(There's also content in the gospels that comes into question because it shows contradictions between the gospels in how they portray Jesus taking a stance on a particular issue - with different gospel authors having him take a different side.)

 

I'm currently writing a book that surveys a lot of this in detail.

If you're interested, I can send you a copy when I'm done.

 

But now to tackle you're question about the miracles of Jesus - also something I look at in the book.

 

THE MIRACLES OF JESUS

In light of how the record reflects the gospel authors using theological ideas and scriptural sources for content in their narratives - again there's much more to this than the sparse examples here reflect - we might ask - do the miracles of Jesus in the gospels have theological explainations that would also put them into the category of content int he gospels that this pattern of the authors cast into historic doubt?

And the answer is a clear and firm YES.

What the examples we can look at show is that the gospel authors not only get details for Jesus life based on expectations for the messiah (like Matthews using the scripture about the triumphant entry into Jerusalem - although misread - for his tale of Jesus riding 2 animals into the city) but also based on the stories about other Jewish prophets found in the Old Testament.

The miracles of Jesus appear to have both of these interest of the gospel authors as there best explanation.

If you're aware of the story of John the Baptist asking one of Jesus disciples if he is the real messiah they've been waiting for or if they should look for someone else and what Jesus says in response, you know the first reason why.

This story has Jesus tell his disciple to tell John the Baptist that Jesus has done several different kinds of miracles - all which are found as messianic expecations in the prophet of Isaiah's writings (though scholars believe the book had multiple authors.)

This shows that the gospel authors - beginning with Mark who first presents the story - are concerned with Jesus fulfilling messianic expectations in terms of mircles.

You can then see how stories of miracles of Jesus they present correlate with the messianic expectations that they have Jesus quote from Isaiah.

Since we've seen that the gospel authors are willing to present non-historic content for theological reasons - and we see here a theological interest - we can not trust the miracle stories they present as historically reliable.

Further, several of the miracle stories they present - fit their pattern of presenting details of Jesus life based on theology and scripture; including the miracles of prophets in the Old Testament.

This includes miracles like Jesus feeding the 5,000 by multiplying food or raising the widows son from the dead.

Both of these have ready parallels in the life of the prophet Elijah; a prophet who Mark himself has the disciples say some people thoguth Jesus was - showing it was a theological theme he was aware of... and perhaps used in writing his gospel.  These stories subsequent gospels authors borrow and expand on or alterate.

 

There's a lot more to the story, but I hope that addresses you're question at least a basic level.

(My book will have all scripture verses for both Old and New Testament listed... just didn't do here for time sake.)

 

Regards,

DJ Wilkins


Ktulu
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 While I'm no expert in

 While I'm no expert in this matter, from what I know, the modern bible wasn't agreed upon until the late 300's A.D.  I'm assuming that by this point the New Testament has gone through a lot of "telephone" types of creative editing and transcription.  It's hard to imagine a "Big Brother" type of entity influencing the bible in a certain direction or other over the course of so many years.  That being said, I believe that most "miracles" have been introduced deliberately if you will in the sense that they were "borrowed" from previous religions.  A combination of both makes more sense.  As to assuming that Jesus existed... I don't see why he wouldn't have existed, I'm sure there were a lot of Jesus type individuals walking around at that time.  There is no reason why anyone of them would have been more or less relevant to the bible.  Of course they all existed.
  

"Don't seek these laws to understand. Only the mad can comprehend..." -- George Cosbuc


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Ktulu wrote: While I'm no

Ktulu wrote:

 While I'm no expert in this matter, from what I know, the modern bible wasn't agreed upon until the late 300's A.D.  I'm assuming that by this point the New Testament has gone through a lot of "telephone" types of creative editing and transcription.  It's hard to imagine a "Big Brother" type of entity influencing the bible in a certain direction or other over the course of so many years.  That being said, I believe that most "miracles" have been introduced deliberately if you will in the sense that they were "borrowed" from previous religions.  A combination of both makes more sense.    

 

LOL, which leaves us to a question that has been asked on here before. Why doesn't the all knowing, all powerful, all loving, god just BEAM the knowledge down into everyone's head to understand it ? Or at least give us a newer version that is a whole lot more clear on the issues ?

“It is proof of a base and low mind for one to wish to think with the masses or majority, merely because the majority is the majority. Truth does not change because it is, or is not, believed by a majority of the people.”
― Giordano Bruno


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This is indirectly asociated

This is indirectly asociated to the question.  Some bibles have the supposed words of Jesus printed in red type.  This hjas always bothered me as some sort of hoax.  I will give two examples.

 

When Jesus goes alone into the desert and is tempted by Satan, his rsponses are printed in red.  How can his literal rsponses be known?  There were suppossedly no witnesses.  Did he come back from his experience and brag to his diciples and repeat the experience word for word?  I can just picture him saying: "Boy did I ever show that old fox a few things! Here's what happened: ....".  PS: Supposedly the devil took him to the top of the highest mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world.  The highest mountain in the world is Mt Everest, and you can only see a few kingtdoms from there.  Even if there were a mountain as high as the moon, one can only see half of the world at a time from there.  Metrhinks the story is a little farfetched!  Also if Jesus were one of the three-in-one, he would already have sway over all of this.  How stupid was the devil to offer him what he already possesses.

 

Fundamentalists claim that Jesus proclaimed his divinity at his trial, when asked if he was the son of the blessed one and he responded that he was.  There were one of his followers at the trial and I don't believe there ahs ever been found a recording of the trial.  How can they quote exactly what was said?  Assuming the quotations are accurate, however, this was not a proclamation of divinity.  This passage was directed to a Greek audience and the Greek Christians referred to Mary, his mother, as "the blessed one".  Since this occurred at the identification phase of the trial, he was really being asked if he was the son of Mary, to which he responded that he was.  The clincher to this is that blessings supposedly come from god, not the other way around.

 

I mention these things because they are part of the legend of Jesus and help to demonstrate how things get twisted during the creation of the legend.