A Thorough Examination of the Evidence for Jesus

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A Thorough Examination of the Evidence for Jesus

NEEDS REVISIONS!  This will be a huge resource of information on the evidences given for the existence of a historical Jesus. I will work on it more later, but for now I'll post what most people have already seen. (It will be a good starting point for me as well to continually revise what I already have)

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ApostateAbe wrote:The

ApostateAbe wrote:

The scholar I recommend the most for lay readers on the topic of the origins of Chrisitianity is Bart Ehrman.  He is regarded as an authority--not just by those on the outside looking in to the field of critical New Testament scholarship--but also by those who are experienced inside the field.  He wrote a book on the probable historical Jesus, titled Jesus: Apocalyptic Prophet of the New Millennium

It is the only book of its kind.  Albert Schweitzer is not ignored by critical New Testament scholars.  On the contrary, he is seen as a pioneer--the first to advance a sensible model of Jesus that does revolve around the modern wishful thinking or modern authors.  Modern critical scholars of the New Testament have built on Schweitzer's model and have moved well beyond it.  For those who are very interested in how to argue and make the best sense of the New Testament generally, I recommend Ehrman's textbook: The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings.

 

About Schweitzer I was speaking of the fact that the Jesus Seminar and various Q scholars reject the idea of the eschatology. MAny scholars hold that the eschatology is a secondary stage in the development of Christianity.  Erhman is great. I have his DVD 24 lectures on Lost Christianites and all of his books. such as Misquoting Jesus and Jesus Interrupted.


 

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TGBaker wrote:About

TGBaker wrote:
About Schweitzer I was speaking of the fact that the Jesus Seminar and various Q scholars reject the idea of the eschatology. MAny scholars hold that the eschatology is a secondary stage in the development of Christianity.  Erhman is great. I have his DVD 24 lectures on Lost Christianites and all of his books. such as Misquoting Jesus and Jesus Interrupted.
Bart Ehrman is a hero for taking the mainstream opinions of critical New Testament history to the general public, and I wish there were more such scholars and historians doing that, instead of a lot of ideologues.  By the way, I goofed up in what I wrote before.  I meant to write:


"...the first to advance a sensible model of Jesus that does not revolve around the modern wishful thinking of modern authors."


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ApostateAbe wrote:TGBaker

ApostateAbe wrote:

TGBaker wrote:
About Schweitzer I was speaking of the fact that the Jesus Seminar and various Q scholars reject the idea of the eschatology. MAny scholars hold that the eschatology is a secondary stage in the development of Christianity.  Erhman is great. I have his DVD 24 lectures on Lost Christianities and all of his books. such as Misquoting Jesus and Jesus Interrupted.

Bart Ehrman is a hero for taking the mainstream opinions of critical New Testament history to the general public, and I wish there were more such scholars and historians doing that, instead of a lot of ideologues.  By the way, I goofed up in what I wrote before.  I meant to write:

 

"...the first to advance a sensible model of Jesus that does not revolve around the modern wishful thinking of modern authors."

We seem to have similar backgrounds or research.  Perhaps we can build a good atheistic commentary or polemic on the gospels in this section.  John Loftus from my previous fellowship has some good books out. His first was Why i Became an Atheist: A Former Minister Rejects Christianity. He has edited a book called the Christian Delusion; Why Faith Fails with many excellent articles in it as a case against Christianities. He created the Outsider's Test of Faith which requires a believer to step out of their stance of faith and view it along side of others.  Hendrikus Boers back in 1983 had a very similar model. I have his manuscript which is superior to what the editors of the publishing company released as Who Was Jesus?  I unintentially insulted Robert Funk when he was presenting the Jesus Seminar's finding on the earliest stage of Q. He presented a similar view as Crossan with no eschatology originating from jesus. I blurted out to him, " I guess we need to get back out our C. H. Dodd, another scholar who in the 30's had tried to strip the eschatolgy apparent away from the earliest layers of the writings.  The problem with is even comparing Mark and Q there is little to substantiate as comfortably historical.  We can make a lot of good deductions but still mark is so fabricated it is often a probabilistic process.  Hendrickus was a Marxist Atheist but he ws still careful to protect his postion at the Seminary.  When we went to jaggers to drink was when the good dialogues came up. He always made sure that when there were functions at his home that they formally announced as ended so the beer could be brought out as non- Emory related.

By the way John W. Loftus's new book about to be released is called Debunking Christianity.

 

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Agree with this

 

iwbiek wrote:

 

one cannot get a good grasp of the development and history of christianity from reading hitchens, or most other atheist authors for that matter, because their contact with the field of religion is usually relatively cursory, and made primarily for polemical purposes. thus, i often find hitchens or dawkins just as guilty of oversimplifying the subject as a christian apologist like josh mcdowell, only from a different perspective.then again, i consider even john dominic crossan to be little more than a hack, so maybe i'm just a snob.if a lay person (i.e., not a graduate in religion) is actually serious about educating themselves on christianity (ditto for islam or judaism) to the point where they can speak with any kind of authority, i always recommend that they read hans kung’s religious trilogy. yes, he’s a theist, but just barely. mostly, i admire his use of historical paradigms. i think it’s the most effective way of communicating a history of ideas. his analyses are extremely balanced and fair and his erudition is astounding. nobody should be put off by the length of his books, because they’re very readable. he’s just a master teacher, period, and one of the greatest living humans, imo.

 

 

position but I can't help being a jesus mythicist. I know it's not considered the scholarly position but I have trouble accepting Jesus existed as an actual person - even as a representation. He would be buried deep if so. Thanks for the Kung tip, BTW.  

 

 

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


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Atheistextremist

Atheistextremist wrote:



iwbiek wrote:



one cannot get a good grasp of the development and history of christianity from reading hitchens, or most other atheist authors for that matter, because their contact with the field of religion is usually relatively cursory, and made primarily for polemical purposes. thus, i often find hitchens or dawkins just as guilty of oversimplifying the subject as a christian apologist like josh mcdowell, only from a different perspective.



then again, i consider even john dominic crossan to be little more than a hack, so maybe i'm just a snob.



if a lay person (i.e., not a graduate in religion) is actually serious about educating themselves on christianity (ditto for islam or judaism) to the point where they can speak with any kind of authority, i always recommend that they read hans kung's religious trilogy. yes, he's a theist, but just barely. mostly, i admire his use of historical paradigms. i think it's the most effective way of communicating a history of ideas. his analyses are extremely balanced and fair and his erudition is astounding. nobody should be put off by the length of his books, because they're very readable. he's just a master teacher, period, and one of the greatest living humans, imo.




position but I can't help being a jesus mythicist. I know it's not considered the scholarly position but I have trouble accepting Jesus existed as an actual person - even as a representation. He would be buried deep if so. Thanks for the Kung tip, BTW.

I have noticed that the Jesus-myth theory exists as a peculiar subculture in modernity.  It is almost exclusively on the Internet, though it goes back over a hundred years.  It has always been closely aligned with atheism and anti-religion (i.e. Arthur Drews).  If it weren't for the Internet, I think it would have remained just as obscure as any other theory of Jesus.  There have been two amateur documentaries popularized on the Internet promoting the position, and the handful of authors (Acharya S, Earl Doherty, Robert M. Price, Richard Carrier) all have big presences on the Internet.  Their core audience and fan base are anti-religious secularists.  Those are the generals.  The soldiers are the atheists who are bent against the Christian religion.  The merely-mythical-Jesus position is deeply integrated into their anti-religious activism.  They are found wherever religious-historical debates are found on the Internet.


And I think it is sort of a shame, really.  They are smart people, but I really do think the position is uncompetitive in terms of reason.  Many of them do not hold that Jesus never existed, but they instead propose that nothing can be known about the historical Jesus, or that Jesus was an amalgamation of a lot of figures and myths, and those positions don't seem to be any more competitive.


There are of course many Jesuses that a variety of authors writing about Jesus accept, each representing the wishful thinking of a certain demographic of book-buyers, and you can find their books all over the catalogs, but there is one and only one Jesus that is generally accepted among critical New Testament historians.  This Jesus fits a specific detailed profile:


He was born in the small rural village of Nazareth, his parents were Joseph and Mary, he had four brothers including a brother named James, he was a follower of John the Baptist and was baptized by John, he had twelve disciples including Peter, James and John, he travelled the rural country of the region, going from town to town publicly orating with parables, he baptized, he preached that the end of the existing world order was very soon at hand, calamity was at hand, his followers would be admitted into the new Kingdom of God, he went into Jerusalem for the Passover, he caused a violent scene with the merchants and the money-changers in the temple, he was betrayed by his disciple Judas to the governing authorities of Jerusalem, he was crucified by Pontius Pilate, and the leadership of his cult was succeeded by Peter, James and John, who promoted the myth that Jesus was resurrected, was the messiah and the son of God, who preached to the Jews, and they were at odds with the newcomer Paul, who accepted the Gentiles.


This profile of Jesus is detailed and is of course very close to the profile of Jesus drawn by the gospels.  And, there is nothing so extraordinary about it.  This is what the critical scholars generally believe, and for a lot of good reasons.  We don't need to completely rewrite the historical evidence in order to find this profile.  We need only to make the best sense of the evidence we are left with.  For example, there is no other way to make good sense of Jesus' reputed hometown being Nazareth, since Christians were explicitly interested in Jesus being from Bethlehem, instead, in order to fulfill known messianic prophecy.  There is no other sensible way to make sense of Jesus being baptized by John the Baptist, since Christians were apparently rivals with the cult of John the Baptist.  There is no other sensible way to explain the prophecies of the imminent apocalypse.  This fits a known historical-human profile, not any mythical profile that we know about--not Zeus, not Thor, not Dionysus, not Robin Hood.


And the evidence is plentiful.  There is a myth among Jesus-mythers that the four gospels count as only one source--the gospel of Mark.  But there is much more than the information contained in the four gospels than just that contained in the gospel of Mark, and we can actually infer five sources for the four gospels, not just Mark, but also the gospels of Q (Matthew and Luke), M (Matthew), L (Luke) and Signs (John).  Each of these sources are Christian, but the diversity of the Christian perspectives provides a greater breadth of evidence for finding the best explanatory model.  When we include the writings of Paul, who was familiar with the immediate disciples and family of Jesus, then we have six sources.  These are not just points that apologists make, mind you.  This is the historical reality, accepted by critical scholars and strongly backed by the evidence.


John the Baptist, Pontius Pilate, Peter, John, James the disciple and James the brother are all attested historical human figures.  John the Baptist and Pontius Pilate are attested by Josephus.  Pontius Pilate is again attested by Philo of Alexandria.  Peter, John, James the disciple and James the brother are each attested by the anti-sympathetic writing of Paul in the epistle to the Galatians.  James the brother of Jesus is again attested by Josephus, along with Jesus himself.  


There is another myth among Jesus-mythers--that all of the writings of Jesus by Josephus are completely forged, and the favorite forger is Eusebius.  However, Origen wrote a century before Eusebius, and we have two accounts of Origen where Origen claims that Josephus wrote about both James and Jesus even though Josephus believed that Jesus was not the Christ.  This is direct evidence that the writings of Josephus contained attestations to James and Jesus before the redaction by the Christian scribes.  Josephus probably wrote that Jesus was not the Christ, and the Christian scribes of the third/fourth century did not want to copy down such blasphemy.  Not that Josephus is very good evidence for the existence of either Jesus or James, but, as an outsider to the Christian religion, he was making the best sense of those characters reputed by Christians, and the idea that they were merely mythical did not strike him as the best explanation.  Nor do we have evidence of any such speculation in all of even the most anti-Christian rhetoric in history.


For that matter, neither do we have evidence of inter-Christian conflict about the mythical nature of Jesus.  We have evidence that the earliest sects of Christians in the first and second centuries were diverse.  Some of them believed that Jesus was human, not God.  Some of them believed that Jesus was adopted by God when he was an adult.  Some of them believed that Jesus seemed human but he was actually entirely God.  And all of these sects of Christianity are attested by the proto-orthodox Christians writing against such heresies.  Many mythers believe that Christianity was founded by Christians who believed that Jesus was entirely spiritual and mythical, not human.  So, when was there a shift to a historical human Jesus?  And, where are the polemics against these heretical Christians hanging on to the old way?  Answer: no such evidence exists, not even a rumor of it, not in the canonical writings (where many anti-heretical polemics are found) nor in the writings of the church fathers in the second and third centuries, when anti-heretical writings are most abundant.  


This is an argument from silence, but in this case it holds plenty of relevance, because it is about a silence where we expect an abundance of shouting.  There are other arguments from silence like it.  For example, we do not expect such a historical silence for a Jesus who really did resurrect at about the same time as a lot of other zombies who visibly stormed the streets of Jerusalem (Matthew 27:52-53).  However, there are many times when "silence" has more than one explanation.  What explains the non-Christian historical "silence" about Jesus?  If Jesus were only an obscure lower-class character who led a small travelling cult, who was crucified by the same guy who apparently had no bones about crucifying anyone who could be a threat, then there is really no reason that we should expect any contemporary historian would give a damn.  And there were only two contemporary historians whose writings are still with us--Philo and Thallus.  There is a little evidence that Thallus did know about Jesus, but it is a quote of a quote of a quote of a quote--the original evidence is all but lost, if it existed.  Most of the writing of Thallus we have exists in short scattered fragments and quotes.  Any ancient historical "silence" needs to be put in the perspective that we have the evidence only if many generations of monks found it worth copying (or the lucky case that the writing is buried and well-preserved).


 


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Atheistextremist

Atheistextremist wrote:

 

iwbiek wrote:

 

one cannot get a good grasp of the development and history of christianity from reading hitchens, or most other atheist authors for that matter, because their contact with the field of religion is usually relatively cursory, and made primarily for polemical purposes. thus, i often find hitchens or dawkins just as guilty of oversimplifying the subject as a christian apologist like josh mcdowell, only from a different perspective.then again, i consider even john dominic crossan to be little more than a hack, so maybe i'm just a snob.if a lay person (i.e., not a graduate in religion) is actually serious about educating themselves on christianity (ditto for islam or judaism) to the point where they can speak with any kind of authority, i always recommend that they read hans kung’s religious trilogy. yes, he’s a theist, but just barely. mostly, i admire his use of historical paradigms. i think it’s the most effective way of communicating a history of ideas. his analyses are extremely balanced and fair and his erudition is astounding. nobody should be put off by the length of his books, because they’re very readable. he’s just a master teacher, period, and one of the greatest living humans, imo.

 

 

position but I can't help being a jesus mythicist. I know it's not considered the scholarly position but I have trouble accepting Jesus existed as an actual person - even as a representation. He would be buried deep if so. Thanks for the Kung tip, BTW.  

 

 

I think the easiest way to present it is there was a historical human Jesus and then a Christ Myth that developed over top him such that you have to dig deep in the grave to find the remains.


 

"You can't write a chord ugly enough to say what you want to say sometimes, so you have to rely on a giraffe filled with whip cream."--Frank Zappa

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 I wrote a blog post

 I wrote a blog post dedicated to the Jesus myth. Beware it is lengthy: 

Did Jesus Exist?

 

  First I would like to start off with a disclaimer, I am writing this to put forth the idea and compile information, if I missed anything and/or you have evidence to the contrary please post it in the comments WITH A SOURCE and if it is a reliable/legitimate source I will make the appropriate corrections. Secondly, if you do choose to correct me you don't need to be all pissy about it. If I am wrong I will refine my statement. Also let me say that there may be other historians out there who have "referenced Jesus" that I left out either a) they don't talk about him, just about early Christianity yet fail to mention him or b) Just say "christ" which literally means anointed one, not Jesus.

 
"Well in the case of someone like Caesar Augustus around whom many of the same myths clustered we know there none the less there was a Caesar Augustus because he's intricately tied into the history of the time and many secular historians talk about him you can't rewrite history without Caesar Augustus. But at the very two points Jesus appears to be locked into history, these stories are either still mythical like the slaughter of the innocents derived right out of the book of exodus or they contain outrageous improbabilities such as the Jewish supreme council meeting on Passover eve to get rid of this guy, it's just out of the question or Pontius Pilate letting go a know killer of Romans and insurrectionist and just letting Jesus be thrown to the mob, after however trying to get him off the hook as if he has to have a vote on it, it just defies any sort of historical verisimilitude and then when you realize 'well there were other Jews and Jewish Christians that believed Jesus had been killed a century before under king Alexander or in the Gospel of Peter it says Herod had Jesus killed. How could this be a matter of such diversity if it was a recent event that people remembered? It just makes you wonder, is this man really part of the historical time stream or does it begin to look like someone tried to put a figure, originally mythical, into a historical framework and made various stabs at it?" -Robert M. Price, Fellow, Jesus Seminar

"There are these other gospels and there are the apocrypha after all. Apocrypha in the New Testament and apocrypha in the Old Testament, stories that were frankly to folkloristic and got thrown out because people thought these couldn't have happened therefore we get rid of them, of course some of the apocrypha stories are as interesting as the regular bible. Then there were attempts to so called 'de-mythologize', attempts mostly by Jesuits and other intellectuals who say, who are upset by in a sense, the folklore if you will and they say 'let's make this more intellectual, let's get rid of the folklore, let's get rid of the virgin birth which seems unlikely let's get rid of all the stuff' you see if you take away the folklore, away from the bible, you don't have a heck of a lot left except big gap, big gap, big gap, big gap." -Alan Dundes Professor of Folklore, UC Berkeley


I will be using a number of sources and will link them with numbers next to the evidence as well as a list in the footnotes below. So let's start, practically every Christian, or almost any other religious person for that matter, was taught that Jesus lived and died between the years 4 B.C. and 26-36 A.D.1 and it is still commonly accepted to this day but in this post I will entertain the notion that Jesus may have never existed. The most commonly cited historians that "mention" Jesus are as follows: Tacitus, Josephus, Pliny the Younger and Suetonius and I will address them accordingly. After that I will move on to the Gospels and then to the similarities between Jesus/Christianity and early Pagan myths.
Part 1: The Historians
Tacitus: Tacitus was a Roman historian and senator who wrote Annals among many other things. He was born in A.D. 56 and died in A.D 117.2 Tacitus was a great historian and therefore we would think that when he supposedly talks of Jesus he must have existed, but before we argue that we must examine the passage in which Jesus is mentioned. Said passage occurs in his book Annals which was written in 109 A.D.3
              "Therefore, to scotch the rumor, Nero substituted as culprits, and punished those whom he has inflicted a hated for their abominations by the crowd styled Christians. name, Christ, the author of the reign of Tiberius by the procurator Pontius Pilate, the punishment of emotions was checked for a moment, the deadly superstition broke out again, not just in Judaea, the source of the disease, but in the capital, even with respect all things horrible or shameful a vogue. Therefore, first of those were arrested who admitted that they had, and then, on their disclosures, vast numbers, not so much in the arson as for hatred of the human race were convicted" 4 (starting at "ergo abolendo" and ending at "convicti sunt" translated by me)
Now there is an interesting thing that has been noted by Georg Andresen in 1902, that in the original manuscripts, the 'I' in the word ChrIstianos was altered and was originally an 'E'. This was mentioned because  there is a rather large gap between the 'I' and the 'S' that looks as if someone had erased parts of the 'E'.5 If this were true then the original word would have been Chrestianos, the Greek word "χρηστός" made into a Latin word literary meaning useful or good.6 It was subsequently shown in 1950 when Dr. Teresa Lodi, the director of the library at which the manuscript is held, examined it that the 'I' was in fact an 'E' that was previously erased.7 It was again shown in 2008 by Dr. Ida Giovanna Rao that the 'I' was most likely a change to a letter, probably an 'E'. It was also then found that when exposed to ultraviolet light that there was in fact an 'E' instead of an 'I' which means Tacitus was referring to the good people. 8Of course that doesn't necessarily show that Jesus never existed but if he isn't referring to Christians, the Christ that was mentioned could just be any other anointed one as the definition implies? But before we move on to the other historians we will look at the validity of Tacitus' claims. The main point that must be made is that when Suetonius mentions the Christians and Nero, the claim that Christians started the great fire (which is what is being talked about) is completely ignored thus contradicting Tacitus' claims. Secondly, Tacitus wrote Annals in 109 A.D. (see source above) which was at least 70 years after Jesus' death so anything that was written was purely hearsay.



Josephus: Josephus was a Jewish historian who was born in the year 37 A.D. and died in the year 100 A.D. The commonly cited passage comes from Josephus' writings in Antiquities of the Jews which was written around 93-94 A.D. 9 The passage cited states this:

"Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man, for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews, and many of the Gentiles. He was the Christ, and when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men among us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him; for he appeared to them alive again the third day; as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him. And the tribe of Christians so named from him are not extinct at this day." (Let it also be stated that there are a few versions of this passage with slightly different wordings)
There is one other passage that is cited which is as follows:
"Ananus was of this disposition, he thought he had now a proper opportunity. Festus was now dead, and Albinus was but upon the road; so he assembled the sanhedrin of judges, and brought before them the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James, and some others; and when he had formed an accusation against them as breakers of the law, he delivered them to be stoned: but as for those who seemed the most equitable of the citizens, and such as were the most uneasy at the breach of the laws, they disliked what was done; they also sent to the king, desiring him to send to Ananus that he should act so no more, for that what he had already done was not to be justified; nay, some of them went also to meet Albinus, as he was upon his journey from Alexandria, and informed him that it was not lawful for Ananus to assemble a sanhedrin without his consent. Whereupon Albinus complied with what they said, and wrote in anger to Ananus, and threatened that he would bring him to punishment for what he had done; on which king Agrippa took the high priesthood from him, when he had ruled but three months, and made Jesus, the son of Damneus, high priest"
At first glance this looks pretty compelling but only when you delve deeper in to the history behind this passage does its flaws show. First let me say that in Antiquities there are a plethora of references to Jesus but most if not all are referring to a Jewish High Priest, Jesus ben Damneus.
I will first address one passage and then the next. On the first passage, the famous Church Father Justin Martyr makes no mention of this passage in his debates with Trypho which raises the question why? It would have been an amazing asset seeing as it supposedly directly references Jesus. This suggests that the passage may not have even existed.10 Of course this doesn't prove the passage didn't exist but it raises some questions regarding its validity and if indeed it did exist. The next point that must be mentioned is that over the next 700 some odd years there were at least eleven Church leaders who had known of Josephus' works yet remained ignorant of that passage. 11 Also, Dr. Larnder compiled a list oddities in and involving said passage.
·         "It was not quoted or referred to by any Christian apologists prior to Eusebius, c. 316 ad.·         "Nowhere else in his voluminous works does Josephus use the word 'Christ,' except in the passage which refers to James 'the brother of Jesus who was called Christ' (Antiquities of the Jews, Book 20, Chapter 9, Paragraph 1), which is also considered to be a forgery. (I will comment on this later)·         "Since Josephus was not a Christian but an orthodox Jew, it is impossible that he should have believed or written that Jesus was the Christ or used the words 'if it be lawful to call him a man,' which imply the Christian belief in Jesus' divinity.·         "The extraordinary character of the things related in the passage--of a man who is apparently more than a man, and who rose from the grave after being dead for three days--demanded a more extensive treatment by Josephus, which would undoubtedly have been forthcoming if he had been its author.·         "The passage interrupts the narrative, which would flow more naturally if the passage were left out entirely.·         "It is not quoted by Chrysostom (c. 354-407 ad) even though he often refers to Josephus in his voluminous writings.·         "It is not quoted by Photius, Patriarch of Constantinople (c. 858-886 ad) even though he wrote three articles concerning Josephus, which strongly implies that his copy of Josephus' Antiquities did not contain the passage.·         "Neither Justin Martyr (110-165 AD), nor Clement of Alexandria (153-217 ad), nor Origen (c.185-254 AD), who all made extensive reference to ancient authors in their defense of Christianity, has mentioned this supposed testimony of Josephus.·         "Origen, in his treatise Against Celsus, Book 1, Chapter 47, states categorically that Josephus did NOT believe that Jesus was the Christ.
  •  
"This is the only reference to the Christians in the works of Josephus. If it were genuine, we would have expected him to have given us a fuller account of them somewhere."12  
Something else that must be mentioned is the fact that the name Jesus was actually a quite common name 13 so even if parts of the passages that do say Jesus, it doesn't necessarily mean they were talking about Jesus Christ. And to make matters even harrier, Eusebius was the first person to ever quote the passage about Jesus 14 and is commonly regarded as the person who forged it. And to add salt to the wounds, Ken Olson says that the wording of the passage, mainly the part about him being a "wise man" is almost identical to something Eusebius writes in his own works. 

Something else I must mention about the vocabulary, in Testimonium, Josephus uses the the Greek word poietes in the meaning of doer yet in his other works he uses the same word to mean poet, not doer where as Eusebius uses poietes to mean doer much like the account of Jesus by Josephus.15 Yet to be fair to both sides of the argument this is still a topic of debate and is not conclusive proof. 
Now moving on to the second passage, as I have previously stated, the Jesus that was mentioned was actually not Jesus Christ but was merely a priest. Isaac Mayer Wise talks talks about the passage being historically accurate but the line "who was called the Christ" was an addition.16Also, John Remsburg agreed that the passage was an addition made in the 3rd century. 17 His proposition says that it was a note in the margin of the work but was added in during the copying. Of course this doesn't provide conclusive evidence but it does lower the credibility and considering the passage mentions him being a high priest and not a messiah at the end, it raises some questions as to its validity. 
Pliny the Younger: Pliny the Younger was a lawyer and an author who was from Rome and was born in 61 A.D. He wrote many letters to emperors but the one we will be dealing with was his letter to Emperor Trajan. The communication between Pliny and Trajan began around the year 111 A.D. making them well out of the range of eye witness accounts of Jesus.18 Pliny's account can easily be discredited for a few reasons, a) he is merely mentioning the fact that there were Christians living during his time and b) he could have easily gotten any information he had from Christian sources so it isn't extra verification. 
Suetonius: Suetonius was a Roman Historian who was born in 70 A.D. and died in 130 A.D. He wrote many works but the most famous and the one we will be talking about was the one entitled The Twelve Kings which was written in 121 A.D.
19 In said book Suetonius says the following: 
"As the Jews were making constant disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus, he expelled them [the Jews] from Rome".
The first, and most noticeable problem is the word Chrestus which, as shown when I was talking about Tacitus literally means good or useful and thus may have not been referencing Jesus at all. But again, it doesn't even mention Jesus Christ, just Christ. And that doesn't prove a whole lot considering that the word Christ literally means anointed one and nothing more.
And one other very important note that must be added is that every Historian was born after the time Jesus supposedly died and thus do not serve as eye witnesses.
Part 2: The Gospels
So up until now we have been looking at the extra biblical sources that supposedly proves Jesus' existence but after thoroughly examining those we see that we must turn to the religion that preaches about this man. We must look to the Gospels. It is commonly thought that the Gospels are the true eye-witness accounts of Jesus' life and everything they say is true but that might not necessarily be the case. In fact, the author of the book of Mark may not have actually been Mark! It's the same of Matthew, Luke and John. So first off about Mark. Mark was the first Gospel that was written although it comes after Matthew in the Bible it's self. But that is not important, what is important is the year it was written in. In the Gospel of Mark the destruction of the temple which occurred in 70 A.D. is mentioned which means it must have been written sometime after that thus leaving a gap four decades between the supposed death of Jesus and the writing of the first gospel and then when we look at the life expectancy during that time we see that Mark was almost certainly not alive at the time of Jesus if he did in fact write said Gospel. There is some discrepancy among this fact seeing as some people claim that the passage referring to the destruction of the temple was a prophecy set forth by Jesus and was thus fulfilled. But if you look to the passages directly after it, Jesus mentions how the world will end within the disciples’ life times which it obviously didn't. So here Mark is in a double bind. If it was a prophecy he was writing about and he wrote his Gospel before the actual event then we can obviously see the second prophecy isn't true because the world has not ended thus showing Jesus can be wrong and thus must not be God, OR the "prophecy" was really just describing the destruction and thus the Gospel was written after 70 A.D.
Religious scholar, J.D. Crossan has this to say on life expectancy: "the life expectancy of Jewish males in the Jewish state was then twenty-nine years."
"We have reason to believe that only 4% of the population at any given time was over 50 years old; over age 70, less than 2%. And that is under normal circumstances. But the Gospels were written after two very devastating abnormal events: the Jewish War and the Neronian Persecution, both of which would have, combined, greatly reduced the life expectancy of exactly those people who were eye-witnesses to the teachings of Jesus. And it just so happens that these sorts of people are curiously missing from the historical record precisely when the Gospels began to be circulated."  ~~Richard Carrier 
"Even if they lived to those unlikely ages, consider the mental and physical toll (especially during the 1st century) which would have likely reduced their memory and capability to write. Moreover, those small percentages of people who lived past 50 years were usually wealthy people (politicians, land and slave owners, etc.). However, the Gospels suggest that the followers of Jesus lived poorly, and this would further reduce the chances for a long life span. Although the New Testament does not provide the ages of the disciples, most Christians think their ages came to around 20-30 years old. Jesus' birth would have to have occurred before Herod's death at 4 B.C.E. So if Jesus' birth occurred in the year 4 B.C.E., that would put the age of the disciples, at the time of the writing of the first gospel, at around age 60-70 and the last gospel at around age 90-100! Based on just life expectancies alone, that would make the probability unlikely they lived during the writing of the first gospel, and extremely unlikely any of them lived during the writing of the last gospel (and I have used only the most conservative numbers)." ~~No Beliefs.com
So basically it is massively unlikely that Mark, if he even wrote the Gospel of Mark lived during the life of Jesus because he would be at least in the rare 4% of the population that lived above 50 (and that would be assuming he was 10 when he was a disciple) and thus it stands to reason that seeing as all the other Gospels were written much later than the Gospel of Mark they too could not have actually lived with Jesus and thus all claims in the Gospels serve only as hearsay.  

We now move on to why the people whose names are on the covers of the Gospels didn't actually write them. There is no hard evidence to suggest that the disciples didn't actually write the Gospels but if we look at their ages keeping in mind the life expectancy of someone in Roman times while looking at when the respective Gospels were written some oddities are revealed. So to know the age each was when they were with Jesus we look to Matthew 17:24-27 which mentions that Peter paid taxes meaning he was over twenty while the others were pretty close to that age. So first let's look at Mark. At this time Mark was also about twenty meaning that at the time of the writing of the Gospel of Mark (after 70 A.D) Mark would have been at least sixty years old which is extremely unlikely considering the time period they were living in. The next gospel that was written was Matthew which was written after Mark thus meaning after 70 A.D. again putting Matthew out of the range of eyewitness accounts (if he even wrote said Gospel). It is essentially the same thing with Luke and John. They all came after Matthew again making it impossible that they would have been eyewitnesses.

The claim is sometimes made that Mark was Saint Peter's scribe and thus witnessed all but again this is only mentioned in the Bible and we are mostly looking at extra biblical evidence to prove Jesus existed we can affirm this or negate this without much change on the outcome. 

The next very important thing that must be mentioned in this section are the Pauline epistles or Paul's letters. In Paul's letters he mentions a lot about Christianity as a whole but very little about Jesus himself. First off, Paul never mentions a virgin birth20, if anything, it argues against it seeing as in Romans 1:3 it says "A descendent of David according to the flesh"21 which implies he was not born of a virgin but of a mortal. (It must be noted that in some translations 'according to the flesh' is omitted). One then begins to wonder, why would Paul leave that out if it was a recent event? People being born of virgins rarely happens and it'd probably important to note. Paul never mentioned Mary, Bethlehem, no specific miracles, none of Jesus' quotes ect... which leaves us to wonder why. These things were recent so wouldn't Paul have thought to write them? It really leads you to question whether this man [Jesus] is actually locked into history.
Part 3: Similarities to Pagan religions
(One thing that must be mentioned is that when I get to the lists I will just add numbers for the footnotes and if you doubt the validity of the claim, scroll down, find the number and read for yourself.)At long last we move to the final section of this argument, the similarities between Jesus Christ and ancient Pagan religions/Christianity and ancient Pagan religions. One commonly mentioned and quite interesting similarity between Christian beliefs and Pagan beliefs is that an ancient inscription to Mithra was found which read "He who will not eat of my body and drink of my blood, so that he will be made on with me and I with him, the same shall not know salvation" 22 which says almost the exact same thing as the passage in John 6:53. Also, Christians and also most Pagans ultimately celebrated the birthday of the Messiah on December 25th. Yet another similarity is that early Christians initiated new members in March/April as did Mithra-ism. 23 Of course none of this really proves Jesus didn't exist but it does show you that the rituals the Christians were involved in were based off Pagan ones. But now we get to move to the fun stuff, the similarities between Jesus himself and other supposed Man-Gods. First we will start by talking briefly about when Horus of Egypt was worshiped. Horus was the God-Man of Ancient Egypt of around 3,000-2,000 B.C., well before Jesus allegedly lived. Horus was born on or around December 25th 24,25,26 of the virgin Isis-Meri 27,28,29.The fact of her virginity is one that is commonly debated and I will shed light onto its truth. Acharya S. quotes priest and author Joseph McCabe:"Whatever we make of the original myth, Isis seems to have been originally a virgin (or, perhaps, sexless) goddess, and in the later period of Egyptian religion she was again considered a virgin goddess, demanding very strict abstinence from her devotees. It is at this period, apparently, that the birthday of Horus was annually celebrated, about December 25th, in the temples. As both Macrobius and the Christian writer [of the "Paschal Chronicle"] say, a figure of Horus as a baby was laid in a manger, in a scenic reconstruction of a stable, and a statue of Isis was placed beside it. Horus was, in a sense, the Savior of mankind. He was their avenger against the powers of darkness; he was the light of the world. His birth-festival was a real Christmas before Christ." 30,31
As stated by Egyptologist Dr. Reginald E. Witt:The Egyptian goddess who was equally ―the Great Virgin (hwnt) and ―Mother of the God was the object of the very same praise bestowed upon her successor [Mary, Virgin Mother of Jesus].28
So as we can see, most likely Horus' mother was in fact a virgin seeing as she was called the Great Virgin as well as demanding abstinence from her followers. But let's continue, Horus' birth was announced by a star in the East 32,33 and then met by three Kings or Magi 34, 35. Here is where we reach another topic of much debate. Horus is said to have had twelve disciples who followed him around 36 and preformed miracles like healing the sick and walking on water 37,38. The main topic of dissent is on the number 12 and there are arguments to both sides of the coin.Glenn Miller wrote:"...my research in the academic literature does not surface this fact. I can find references to four 'disciples'--variously called the semi-divine HERU-SHEMSU ('Followers of Horus'). I can find references to sixteen human followers. And I can find reference to an unnumbered group of followers called mesniu/mesnitu ('blacksmiths') who accompanied Horus in some of his battles. ... But I cannot find twelve anywhere." 39 So here we see he may not have had exactly 12 but he would have had at least sixteen thus we cannot rule out the possibility that later, Christian writers saw the number and simply changed it. But for a piece of evidence regarding the number 12:
As Murdock says:The configuration of Re, Osiris or Horus with 12 other individuals, whether gods or men, can be found abundantly in Egyptian texts, essentially reflecting the sun god with 12 ―companions, ―helpers or ―disciples. This theme is repeated numerous times in the nightly passage of the sun: Like Hercules in his 12 labors, when the Egyptian sun god entered into the night sky, he was besieged with trials, as found in some of the Egyptian ―Holy Scriptures. One such text is the ―Book of the Amtuat/Amduat, which ―describes the journey of the sun god through the twelve hours of the night, the term ―Amduat meaning ―underworld or ―netherworld....Horus is thus firmly associated with 12 ―star-gods, who, in conducting the sun god through his passage, can be deemed his ―protectors, ―assistants or ―helpers, etc. 38
So about the number of disciples, it is essentially up to you to decide which number suits your fancy but there is no doubt that there were in fact either 12 or 16 disciples.Moving on, Horus was crucified 40,41 was buried for three days 42,43,44,45 (Osiris is interchangeable with Horus)  and then was resurrected.46 The main point of dispute among this is that claim that Horus was crucified. A very important piece of evidence that must be mentioned is that crucifixion doesn't necessarily refer to the Roman method of execution. To fully understand why this is the case we must study the etymology of the word crucify. The word crucify comes from the Latin word crucifigere which is made up of crux meaning cross and affigere meaning to attach to. So essentially crucify means to attach to a cross, not necessarily the roman method of shoving people and beating them and finally, nailing them to two planks of wood. 
"Regarding the Egyptian god in cruciform, Thomas W. Doane relates:Osiris, the Egyptian Saviour, was crucified in the heavens. To the Egyptian the cross was the symbol of immortality, an emblem of the Sun, and the god himself was crucified to the tree, which denoted his fructifying power. Horus was also crucified in the heavens. He was represented, like... Christ Jesus, withoutstretched arms in the vault of heaven" 40"This concept of Horus with outstretched arms or wings is confirmed by Egyptologist Dr. Hornung: Horus shows himself in the image of the hawk whose wings span the sky." 41
So as we can see, the similarities between Horus and Jesus are immense which begs the question, if Horus existed before Jesus supposedly did and had these same traits, who's to say that the early Christians didn't add these to their Man-God?
So if we add all this up, we can see it is unlikely that Jesus was in fact a historical figure but again, I leave you to believe what you so choose. 




~~Peter


-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------




Footnotes:
1: http://www.theologyweb.com/campus/archive/index.php/t-3476.html
2: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tacitus3: http://classics.mit.edu/Tacitus/annals.html4: http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus:text:1999.02.0077:book=15:chapter=445: Georg Andresen in Wochenschrift fur klassische Philologie 19, 1902, p. 780f6: http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/morph?l=xrhsto/s&la=greek7: Harald Fuchs, Tacitus on the Christians, published in Christian Vigil (1950) volume 4, number 2, p. 70, note 68: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tacitus_on_Jesus#cite_note-69: Freedman, David Noel, ed., The Anchor Bible Dictionary, (New York: Doubleday) 1997, 199210: Feldman (1989), p. 43111: http://www.truthbeknown.com/josephus.htm12: http://www.truthbeknown.com/josephus.htm13: http://www.slate.com/id/2207398/14: "Eusebius and the Testimonium Flavianum,"Catholic Biblical Quarterly 61 (1999): 305-32215: Ken Olson, Eusebian Fabrication of the Testimonium (2001)16:  Wise, Isaac Mayer (1868) The origin of Christianity Bloch and co; Page 13717: http://www.positiveatheism.org/hist/rmsbrg00.htm#CONTENTS18: http://www.tyrannus.com/pliny_let.html19: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Twelve_Caesars20: http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Galatians%204:4;&version=ESV;21: http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Romans%201:3&version=NASB22: J. Goodwin, "Mystery Religions of the Ancient World," Thames & Hudson, (1981), Page 28. Quoted in Timothy Freke & Peter Gandy, "The Jesus Mysteries: Was the 'Original Jesus' a Pagan God?" Acacia Press, (1999), Page 4923: http://www.religioustolerance.org/chr_jcpa1.htm24: Plutarch, ―Isis and Osiris‖ (65, 387C); King, C.W., 56; Plutarch/Babbitt, 153            Obviously, the English term ―December 25th‖ did not exist in the ancient Egyptian calendar but simply refers to the winter solstice, which the ancients perceived as beginning on December 21st and ending at midnight on the 24th. We learn from one of the most famous historians of the first century, Plutarch (46-120 AD/CE), that Horus the Child—or ―Harpocrates,‖ as was his Greek name—was ―born about the winter solstice, unfinished and infant-like...25: Mojsov, 13.            As Egyptologist Dr. Bojana Mojsov remarks: ―The symbol of the savior-child was the eye of the sun newly born every year at the winter solstice.26: Murdock, CIE, 94.Isis and Nephthys holding the baby Sun over the Life-Giving Ankh, representing the Winter Solstice (Budge, An Egyptian Hieroglyphic Dictionary, 351)            As [Egyptologist Dr. Heinrich] Brugsch explains, the Egyptians not only abundantly recorded and revered the time of the winter solstice, they also created a number of hieroglyphs to depict it, including the image mentioned by Budge, which turns out to be the goddess-sisters Isis and Nephthys with the solar disc floating above their hands over a lifegiving ankh—the looped Egyptian cross—as the sun‘s rays extend down to the cross symbol. This image of the sun between Isis and Nephthys, which is sometimes depicted without the ankh, is described in an inscription at Edfu regarding Ptolemy VII (fl. 145 BCE?) and applied to the winter solstice, translated as: ―The sun coming out of the sky-ocean into the hands of the siblings Isis and Nephthys.‖ This image very much looks like the sun being born, which is sensible, since, again, Harpocrates, the morning sun, was born every day, including at the winter solstice27: Frazer, GB, IV, 8.            The virginity of Horus‘s mother, Isis, has been disputed, because in one myth she is portrayed as impregnating herself with Osiris‘s severed phallus. In depictions of Isis‘s impregnation, the goddess conceives Horus ―while she fluttered in the form of a hawk over the corpse of her dead husband.28: Witt, 273As stated by Egyptologist Dr. Reginald E. Witt:The Egyptian goddess who was equally ―the Great Virgin‖ (hwnt) and ―Mother of the God‖ was the object of the very same praise bestowed upon her successor [Mary, Virgin Mother of Jesus].29: Murdock, CIE, 138-157            One of the inscriptions that calls Isis the ―Great Virgin‖ appears in the temple of Seti I at Abydos dating to the 13th century BCE, while in later times she is equated with the constellation of Virgo, the Virgin.30: Joseph McCabe, "The Story of Religious Controversy," Stratford Co, (1929)31: Acharya S., "Born of a Virgin on December 25th: Horus, Sun God of Egypt,32: Botterweck, II, 338-339.33: Walker, B., WEMS, 749.34: Allen, J., 107.35: Griffiths, OOHC, 157.36: Lenormant, 83.37: Diodorus/Murphy, 31-32.38: Murdock, CIE, 296-297.39: James Patrick Holding, "Comparing Osiris, Horus and Jesus,"40: Doane, 484.            Regarding the Egyptian god in cruciform, Thomas W. Doane relates:Osiris, the Egyptian Saviour, was crucified in the heavens. To the Egyptian the cross was thesymbol of immortality, an emblem of the Sun, and the god himself was crucified to the tree, whichdenoted his fructifying power.Horus was also crucified in the heavens. He was represented, like... Christ Jesus, withoutstretched arms in the vault of heaven41: Hornung, CGAE, 124.            This concept of Horus with outstretched arms or wings is confirmed by Egyptologist Dr. Hornung:Horus shows himself in the image of the hawk whose wings span the sky42: Mettinger, 182.43: Bertholet, 5.44: Plutarch/Babbitt, 95-97.45: Murdock, CIE, 400. For more information on the ―Burial for Three Days, Resurrection and Ascension,‖ see Christ in Egypt, 376-430.46: Diodorus/Murphy, 31.

http://petersaysstuff.blogspot.com/2011/02/did-jesus-exist.html


Jayhawker Soule
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There's far too much here to

There's far too much here to read so forgive me if I just jump in with a couple of questions:

  1. What is the current consensus on the Authenticity of  Antiquities 20.9.1 and do you concur with that consensus?

  2. Do you accept the historicity of the Jerusalem sect referenced by Paul and Luke?

  3. Where do we find the mythicist position argued in 1st and 2nd century anti-Christian polemics?

Thanks.

 

 


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Jayhawker Soule

Jayhawker Soule wrote:
There's far too much here to read so forgive me if I just jump in with a couple of questions:

  1. What is the current consensus on the Authenticity of  Antiquities 20.9.1 and do you concur with that consensus?

  2. Do you accept the historicity of the Jerusalem sect referenced by Paul and Luke?

  3. Where do we find the mythicist position argued in 1st and 2nd century anti-Christian polemics?

Which Jerusalem sect?  Because there was a split between anything that could have been normative Judaism and what eventually became Christianity.  That split is at about the right time for Saul's attempted conversion of a normatively-Jewish membership to his polytheistic / pagan Christian cult.

But more to the point, Saul / Paul is a lousy witness -- he's a liar by his own admissions, and a religious crackpot according to his religious contemporaries.

"Obviously I'm convinced of the existence of G-d. I'm equally convinced that Atheists who've led good lives will be in Olam HaBa going "How the heck did I wind up in this place?!?" while Christians who've treated people like dirt will be in some other place asking the exact same question."


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FurryCatHerder

FurryCatHerder wrote:

Jayhawker Soule wrote:
There's far too much here to read so forgive me if I just jump in with a couple of questions:

  1. What is the current consensus on the Authenticity of  Antiquities 20.9.1 and do you concur with that consensus?

  2. Do you accept the historicity of the Jerusalem sect referenced by Paul and Luke?

  3. Where do we find the mythicist position argued in 1st and 2nd century anti-Christian polemics?

Which Jerusalem sect?  Because there was a split between anything that could have been normative Judaism and what eventually became Christianity.  That split is at about the right time for Saul's attempted conversion of a normatively-Jewish membership to his polytheistic / pagan Christian cult.

But more to the point, Saul / Paul is a lousy witness -- he's a liar by his own admissions, and a religious crackpot according to his religious contemporaries.

I'll wait for a less childish response ...


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Don't expect any response

Don't expect any response from the original poster, he no longer writes here.

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JC was

just a straight forward guy. He played no significant part in Roman or Israelite history, especially Roman. There-fore he would not be in their a matter of their history. He was not considered "great" or having done anything great to be notable. Somewhat the same on the Israelite side. He wouldn't be in their history because he was deemed a shyster and hieratic. Again he was not deemed a great guy. The people liked him but weren't in charge of recording  history. The only possible place he could be recorded in civil history would be the Roman judicial archives in Jerusalem if judicial proceedings were recorded and could be found. He was considered a commoner no more or less then the average Joe.

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The Apostles

were not recorders of civil history. Civil history was recorded by permissions of government authorities. Normally people don't accept history unless it is recorded by "official" government approved historians. Things don't exist unless a government of "betters" says it does. We know that things "do" exist outside of the permissions government Betters but they don't "officially" exist. Governments have their own dictionaries, math , science and physics books. T Governments is not in debt because they will (officially)eventually have the money to pay.

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However, there are events

However, there are events tied to the supposed life of jesus that we would expect record of in "civil history":

  • We would expect some mention of the Herodian massacre outside of the gospels -- and even more than one mention of it within the gospels (i.e., Matthew).  
  • We would expect mention of census stipulating each freedman must return to his place of birth to register.  Furthermore, when this supposed census is tied to Quirinius' governorship (Luke), we then have a historical incongruity to resolve, as Quirinius was not governor during Herod's reign (during which Matthew places jesus' birth).  
  • If jesus was drawing large crowds during his ministry up until his arrival in Jerusalem for the pinning ceremony; if his ministry engendered such unrest that the Sanhedrin were compelled to put out a contract; if the stakes were so high that Pilate got involved, and allowed a convicted killer to be released instead; if the day's proceedings were concluded with an earthquake; we ought to expect some mention, in both Jewish and Roman history.  

Note that I'm not even bringing up the supernatural claims made for jesus:  miracles (sometimes in front of large crowds); bodies rising from the grave and greeting acquaintances; resurrection and sightings of the undead jesus.  If there was any truth to this, one has to wonder how the eyewitnesses held their silence for so long.

By your admission that there is no record of jesus in "civil history", you are effectively admitting that jesus is indistinguishable from someone who never existed -- or at best, someone who is irrelevant to history.

 

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