Historical Jesus

AL500
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Historical Jesus

 I guess Rook is supposed to be the Rational Responders alleged authority on the historical Jesus subject. I would like to take him to task here. I would like to hear your best argument against the historicity of Christ. If you bring out too many things at once it will only serve to confuse. Please, lets deal with one at a time. Give me your best argument. My position is that for a man who only had three years of public ministry, its amazing we have anything on Jesus at all. Especially considering the fact that he was a marginal Jew from a marginal portion of Palestine. This man initiated a world religion, dated the calendar of the world (Anno Domini 2007) is our current date. There is also a collective cultural memory of Jesus in the land he lived. His sepulcher is there and its empty. I think most (if not all) of the arguments coming from the "Jesus mythers" agenda are based on the fallacy of arguing from silence.

Now, what is your best argument against the historical Jesus. Thanks.

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AL500 wrote: I guess Rook

AL500 wrote:

I guess Rook is supposed to be the Rational Responders alleged authority on the historical Jesus subject.

I guess you think this makes for a good way to begin a scholarly exchange?

 

Quote:
 

 I would like to take him to task here. I would like to hear your best argument against the historicity of Christ.


Rook has arguments all over the site. Just take a  look.

 

Quote:
 

If you bring out too many things at once it will only serve to confuse. Please, lets deal with one at a time. Give me your best argument. My position is that for a man who only had three years of public ministry, its amazing we have anything on Jesus at all.

One wonders why 'god' would go through all the trouble then, of even bothering to send "Jesus". What sense does it make to claim that Jesus was a crowd drawing, miracle working godman who rose from the dead, and at the same time hold that it's amazing that we have 'anything at all on Jesus"?

Here's something for you to consider. As per your request, I will keep things brief and give you just half of an essay I've written for the site:

 

- Todangst (with Rook Hawkins)

"[T]here is not a single contemporary historical mention of Jesus, not by Romans or by Jews, not by believers or by unbelievers, not during his entire lifetime. This does not disprove his existence, but it certainly casts great doubt on the historicity of a man who was supposedly widely known to have made a great impact on the world. Someone should have noticed." - Dan Barker

The Gospel story, with its figure of Jesus of Nazareth, cannot be found before the Gospels. In Christian writings earlier than Mark, including almost all of the New Testament epistles, as well as in many writings from the second century, the object of Christian faith is never spoken of as a human man who had recently lived, taught, performed miracles, suffered and died at the hands of human authorities, or rose from a tomb outside Jerusalem. There is no sign in the epistles of Mary or Joseph, Judas or John the Baptist, no birth story, teaching or appointment of apostles by Jesus, no mention of holy places or sites of Jesus’ career, not even the hill of Calvary or the empty tomb. This silence is so pervasive and so perplexing that attempted explanations for it have proven inadequate. - Earl Doherty, The Jesus Puzzle

It may surprise Christians to learn that there are no contemporary historical documents for 'Jesus, the Christ'. (The writings of Paul are not comptemporary accounts: they do not appear until years after the purported time of Jesus and they include a concession that Paul never actually met Jesus. The Gospels come much later (as evidenced by the fact that Paul never cites them) and there is good reason that all four of the surviving, accepted Gospels are based on Mark, which in turn is likely to be midrash, not historical documentation: (See: http://www.rationalresponders.com/the_gospels_are_midrash)).

While some apologists attempt to wave this problem away by claiming that "Jesus"would not have been a noteworthy figure, this apologetic tactic contradicts what the Gospels say about Jesus.

Even the relatively sober account of Jesus found in the first gospel, The Gospel of 'Mark', presents us with a Jesus who garnered quite a bit of attention. Consider for example, Mark 2:1-12, where the crowd coming to see Jesus is so great, that a paralytic has to be lowered through the roof of a building Jesus is in, in order for Jesus to see him. Elsewhere Mark tells us that the crowds that Jesus drew were so overflowing that he has to lecture from a boat on the Sea of Galilee. When Jesus travels from Bethany to Jerusalem, throngs of people line the roads to welcome him. Mark also tells us of how Jesus performed miracles before thousands: on two different occasions Jesus feeds thousands through miracles (see for example, Mark 8:1).

In short, 'Mark' gives us a 'Jesus' who is bigger than the Beatles, and I believe the Beatles analogy is a good one: we even have a nice parallel between the story of Jesus' lecture from a ship at Galilee, and the Beatles famous 'rooftop' audition, where they were forced to play an impromptu concert on a rooftop, lest the crowds that would rush to see them cause a riot. In both cases, the crowds had reached, hysterical, historically noteworthy, proportions. Yet, John E. Remsberg, in 'The Christ: A Critical Review and Analysis of the Evidence of His Existence' (The Truth Seeker Company, NY, no date, pp. 24-25) makes the curious observation that no one from this era wrote a single word about the Jesus Hysteria. Remsberg notes: "(While) Enough of the writings of the authors named in the foregoing list remains to form a library, (no where)... in this mass of Jewish and Pagan literature, aside from two forged brief passages in the works of a Jewish author (Josephus), and two disputed passages in the works of Roman writers, there is to be found no mention of Jesus Christ."

There are Christians today who hold that Remsberg has 'been refuted' because many on his list either were not contemporaries, or were 'not the sort who would have been interested in Jesus'. They tell us, straight faced, that writers who were mainly interested in drama, or reporting war stories, wouldn't have bothered to write down anything about a crowd-drawing, miracle-working, godman striding the earth.

Leaving aside this bit of insanity, it is a red herring to respond to this problem by saying "Remsberg has been refuted", for not matter how many problems one may be able to point out concerning his famous list, no matter how many people one removes fromt the list, there remain people on his list who should have noticed, and their silence is glaring.

Let's take a look at the more notable names on his list, just to get an idea, again, of how glaring this silence is... We can call this list:

"They Would Have Noticed"

Philo (~20 BCE - ~40 CE) was a Hellenized Jew who lived in Alexandria, Egypt. He visited the Temple in Jerusalem, and corresponded with family there. He wrote a great many books on religion and philosophy which survive to this day, and mentioned many of his contemporaries. His main theological contribution was the development of the Logos, the "Word" that opens the Gospel of John. Yet Philo not once mentions Jesus, anybody who could be mistaken for Jesus, or any of the events of the New Testament. His last writings come from 40 CE, only a few years after the end of Pontius Pilate's reign, when he was part of an embassy sent by the Alexandrian Jews to the Roman Emperor Caligula.

Philo wrote an account of the Jews covering the entire time that Christ is said to have existed on earth. He was living in or near Jerusalem when Christ's miraculous birth and the Herodian massacre (which also has no independent corroboration) supposedly occurred. He was personally very interested in the concept of ressurection. He was there when Christ supposedly would have made his triumphal entry in Jerusalem. He was there when the Crucifixion with its attendant earthquake, supernatural darkness, and resurrection of the dead would have taken place--when Christ himself supposedly would have rose from the dead. Yet, none of these events are ever mentioned by him.

The following is quoted from: http://www.jesusneverexisted.com/philo.html

"Much as Josephus would, a half century later, Philo wrote extensive apologetics on the Jewish religion and commentaries on contemporary politics. About thirty manuscripts and at least 850,000 words are extant. Philo offers commentary on all the major characters of the Pentateuch and, as we might expect, mentions Moses more than a thousand times.

Yet Philo says not a word about Jesus, Christianity nor any of the events described in the New Testament. In all this work, Philo makes not a single reference to his alleged contemporary "Jesus Christ", the godman who supposedly was perambulating up and down the Levant, exorcising demons, raising the dead and causing earthquake and darkness at his death.


With Philo's close connection to the house of Herod, one might reasonably expect that the miraculous escape from a royal prison of a gang of apostles (Acts 5.18,40), or the second, angel-assisted, flight of Peter, even though chained between soldiers and guarded by four squads of troops (Acts 12.2,7) might have occasioned the odd footnote. But not a murmur. Nothing of Agrippa "vexing certain of the church" or killing "James brother of John" with the sword (Acts 12.1,2). "

It simply makes no sense that Philo would not have recorded something about Jesus, vis-a-vis theJesus described in the book of Mark. In fact, Philo specifically rules out his having any knowledge of such a being, making the case for Philo not merely an argument from silence, but a positive rule out for a real Jesus Christ:

"And even if there be not as yet any one who is worthy to be called a son of God, nevertheless let him labour earnestly to be adorned according to his first-born word, the eldest of his angels, as the great archangel of many names; for he is called, the authority, and the name of God, and the Word, and man according to God's image, and he who sees Israel."
– Philo, "On the Confusion of Tongues," (146)

Quotation via: http://www.jesusneverexisted.com/philo.html

Philo not only says nothing about Jesus, he rules out there being anyone worthy of being called 'son of god".

Pliny the Elder (~23 CE - 79 CE) wrote a Natural History that mentions hundreds of people, major and minor; he even writes about the Essenes in Natural History, section V, 15 . Yet nowhere in his works is any mention of the Jesus phenomena described in Mark.

Pliny also provides us with a direct refutation of the Gospel claims of earthquakes and eclipses. Pliny collected data on all manner of natural and astronomical phenomena, even those which were legendary - which he himself did not necessarily regard as factual, yet he records no prodigies associated with the beliefs of Christians, such as an earthquake or darkening of the skies at a crucifixion, or any star of Bethlehem.

Seneca the Elder (54 BCE - 39 AD) was a Roman rhetorician and writer and father to the more famous Seneca the Younger. Seneca was the author of a lost historical work, containing the history of Rome from the beginning of the civil wars almost down to his own death. While the work is lost to us, it was published by his son. The latest references in his writings are to the period immediately after the death of Tiberius, probably around the time of his own death in 39 AD.

Seneca the Younger (ca. 4 BCE–AD 65) Seneca was a philosopher and statesman, who wrote both philosophical works and papers on morality. He lived during the purported time of Jesus, in the general area of Jesus, and would have had contact with Roman authorities who in turn would have had contacts with Jesus. More importantly, he was interested in matters of morality and religion very similar to the concerns of later Christians. Yet, he does not take note of any of the miraculous events reported in the gospels.

From: http://www.jesusneverexisted.com/seneca.html

The life of Seneca, like that of Philo, was contemporaneous with the "Jesus" of legend. Yet though Seneca wrote extensively on many subjects and people, nothing relating to "Jesus" ever caught his attention, nor does he show any awareness of a "vast multitude" of Christians, supposedly, punished for the fire that ravaged Rome in 64 AD. (See Tacitus for more on this)

The lack of any reference to Jesus Christ or Christians by Seneca was an embarrassment to the early Church fathers. There was a futile attempt to rectify this during the 4th century by a forger familiar with Seneca's letters to his life-long friend Lucilius. What emerged was a correspondence purporting to be friendly exchanges between the eminent Roman philosopher – at the height of his fame and political influence – and an unknown itinerant preacher we now call St Paul.

The catalyst for the fabrications appear to have been remarks by Tertullian, in the early 3rd century. Tertullian, aware that Seneca had articulated sentiments suited to a "great moral teacher" referred to Seneca as "often our own." By the time of Constantius II (337-361), Seneca had been taken captive by the Christians, his fidelity to the cause vouched for by a lively exchange of letters (in Latin!) with the Jewish Christian apostle. Today, no serious scholar accepts these as valid communications between Seneca and Paul, they are universally accepted as fraud.

"The tradition that Gallio sent some of St. Paul's writings to his brother Seneca is utterly absurd; and indeed at this time (A.D. 54), St. Paul had written nothing except the two Epistles to the Thessalonians."
– Rev. F. W. Farrar.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The basic fact is that

The basic fact is that there is no contemporary historical evidence of Christ. Rook has some essays on it which I cannot find at the moment, hopefully he will pop on. Here is a link to todangst's essay on it though - http://www.rationalresponders.com/a_silence_that_screams_no_contemporary_historical_accounts_for_jesus

Quote:
Especially considering the fact that he was a marginal Jew from a marginal portion of Palestine.

I don't care if he was a homeless man living in a hole in New York city. If he did what he supposedly did - i.e. miracles, resurrection, casting out demons, turning water to wine all that junk - People would notice and write about it.

 

Quote:
There is also a collective cultural memory of Jesus in the land he lived.

How do you figure? And even if there was - cultural memory does not require truth - as myths are cultural memory.

Here is a lovely quote from Pope Leo X

The WoThe Woman's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets, by Barbara Walker, p. 471. Rev. Taylor, in The Diegesis, reports a slightly different version of Leo X's admission: "It was well known how profitable this fable of Christ has been to us."(16)

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"The day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the Supreme Being as His father, in the womb of a virgin will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter." -Thomas Jefferson


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Quote: One wonders why

Quote:
One wonders why 'god' would go through all the trouble then, of even bothering to send "Jesus".

Indeed. And the idea of a trinity makes the whole thing even more discombulating. So god went down in human form to save humanity from himself by sacrificing himself to himself... lol yeah makes sense.

Pope Leo X was right about how much money the church was going to get out of people by jamming this bullocks down their throats. 

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"The day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the Supreme Being as His father, in the womb of a virgin will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter." -Thomas Jefferson


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Thanks for the responses,

Thanks for the responses, but I specifically asked for one at a time. and I was speaking to Rook.


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AL500 wrote: Thanks for the

AL500 wrote:
Thanks for the responses, but I specifically asked for one at a time.

Then deal with them one at a time.

Quote:
 

and I was speaking to Rook.

Rook is co author of my essay.

Again, if you want to find Rook's arguments, just take a look around the site....  

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thraxas wrote:

thraxas wrote:

Quote:
One wonders why 'god' would go through all the trouble then, of even bothering to send "Jesus".

Indeed. And the idea of a trinity makes the whole thing even more discombulating. So god went down in human form to save humanity from himself by sacrificing himself to himself... lol yeah makes sense.

The argument that we'd not expect a history replete with God sitings is an entirely ad hoc rationale created by modern christians once they learned that there is no contemporary historical record for their christ. It's the typical backwards logic you see from apologists.

Along with the contemporary silence on Jesus, we also have the serious problems found in the gospels:

The works are anonymous.

The works cannot be dated prior to the epistles of Paul, meaning that they do not appear until decades after the supposed time of "Jesus", bringing them into doubt as 'eye witness testimony"

http://www.rationalresponders.com/the_gospels_are_anonymous_works_and_none_are_eyewitness_accounts

 

And, most damaging of all, the first gospel, upon which matthew and luke rely on, is itself midrash.

http://www.rationalresponders.com/the_gospels_are_midrash

Between Mark as Midrash, and a lack of any real historical sense to Jesus in the writigns of Paul, the mythicist case has a rather solid ground.

 {fixed link}

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Quote: Thanks for the

Quote:
Thanks for the responses, but I specifically asked for one at a time. and I was speaking to Rook.

Unfortunately this is an open forum, not Rook's e-mail. Rook is unlikely to sit down and re write all the points he has spent time writing into long essays as in the one co-authored with todangst as was posted for you. If you choose to continue with this response, it will appear to be just dodging.

 

Quote:
God exists or nothing exists --- Greg Bahnsen

By the way, I have to point out that your signature quote is a false dichotomy.  

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"The day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the Supreme Being as His father, in the womb of a virgin will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter." -Thomas Jefferson


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thraxas wrote: Quote: God

thraxas wrote:

Quote:
God exists or nothing exists --- Greg Bahnsen

By the way, I have to point out that your signature quote is a false dichotomy.

Even a negative theologian would hold it as a false dichotomy. 

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Ok, I've got the gist of

Ok, I've got the gist of your argument. It's basically an argument from silence. You mention a few individuals who, according to you, should have mentioned Jesus but didn't. First I want to say that official Roman and Jewish leaders would have no interest in mentioning Jesus because he was a marginal Jew and died by crucifixtion. The Roman's never had to send any troops to suppress Jesus followers. He was just an itinerant preacher.Philo: He was a contemporary with Paul, but never mentioned Gamaliel either. Does this mean Gamaliel didn't exist? Philo had a family in Jerusalem where Gamaliel was. It's odd that he never once mentioned Gamaliel. Jesus, on the other hand, was a Galilean who rarely went to Jerusalem. Also, Philo would have been discussted with the idea of the "Logos" becoming incarnate. He would be no friend of Jesus. Your argument from Philo is reduced to an argument from silence.Pliny the Elder:  He was a writer on science and morality. No reason for him to mention a Jewish itinerant preacher from Gallilee. Another argument from silence.Seneca: He had a lot of problems with Nero. It is doubtful that he would have the time or interest to write on some obscure itinerate preacher in Gallilee.CONCLUSIONYour arguments are based on silence. Arguments from silence are never valid. Sure, they didn't mention Jesus. But they also never mentioned Gamaliel, Shammai, Hillel, or the Roman Senate. In their eyes, Jesus would be just another  wondering "wonder worker"who died by execution. This fact alone would have caused them to have no interest in him. As for the miracles, even his contemporary Jewish authorities did not believe in them. The word in the Jewish Synagogue was that Jesus was a fraud. This would most definatly have been the official story passed on. I will get into the sources that do mention him later.

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Pliny also provides us with

Pliny also provides us with a direct refutation of the Gospel claims of earthquakes and eclipses. Pliny collected data on all manner of natural and astronomical phenomena, even those which were legendary - which he himself did not necessarily regard as factual, yet he records no prodigies associated with the beliefs of Christians, such as an earthquake or darkening of the skies at a crucifixion, or any star of Bethlehem.MY RESPONSE: The fact he did not mention the earthquake and eclipse does not in anyway refute the Gospel whatsoever. Your arguing from silence again. Pliny was not in Jerusalem when it happened.. And, according to Thallus, the eclipse and earthquake defied natural explanation and had the character of a miracle. And Pliny had no respect for miracles. He was a skeptic and rationalist. He never mentioned Honi the Circle-Drawer either. Again, arguments from silence are invalid.

God exists or nothing exists --- Greg Bahnsen


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AL500 wrote:Ok, I've got

AL500 wrote:
Ok, I've got the gist of your argument. It's basically an argument from silence.
You say that as if it's a minor quibble... But the gospels present us with a god striding the earth, drawing massive crowds, working miracles before thousands, raising the dead, rising from the dead himself, along with zombie saints, earthquakes, eclipses of the sun, etc.... Kinda hard not to notice. Also, I'll prove that you do NOT have the gist of my argument, in fact, you don't even deal with it.
Quote:
You mention a few individuals who, according to you, should have mentioned Jesus but didn't.
Not just according to me. According to the people I cited. You can't just write these people off as a 'few individuals'.  
Quote:
First I want to say that official Roman and Jewish leaders would have no interest in mentioning Jesus because he was a marginal Jew and died by crucifixtion.
  You're dodging the actual argument where I show that you can't both accept the gospels as true and also hold that jesus was a minor figure.  
Quote:
Philo: He was a contemporary with Paul, but never mentioned Gamaliel either. Does this mean Gamaliel didn't exist?
 
Why should you expect Philo to dedicate work to Gamaliel?  Why shouldn't you expect Philo to take note of a god man striding the earth, drawing crowds, working miracles, when Philo was intimately intrigued by such claims? 
Quote:
Philo had a family in Jerusalem where Gamaliel was. It's odd that he never once mentioned Gamaliel.
  No, it's not. You simply do not know how to make an argument from silence. 

According to Gilbert Garraghan (A Guide to Historical Method, 1946, p. 149)

To be valid, the argument from silence must fulfill two conditions: the writer[s] whose silence is invoked would certainly have known about it; [and] knowing it, he would under the circumstances certainly have made mention of it. When these two conditions are fulfilled, the argument from silence proves its point with moral certainty.

It's painfully obvious why "jesu" ought to fall under both categories.

Why should Hillel the Elder's grandson meet either category?

 In addition, the historian Richard Carrier suggests two additional criteria to strengthen an argument from silence:

1) Whether or not it is common for men to create similar myths.

It is prima facie true that this is the case for Jesus. History is replete not only with 'god' claims, but with claims for messiah status.

2) The claim is of an extraordinary nature, it violates what we already know of nature.

The miracle claims in the book of Mark violate what we know of nature.

The argument from silence for Jesus meets the two additional criteria.

 I fail to see why the argument for Hillel the Elder's grandson should meet any of these criteria.

Quote:
Jesus, on the other hand, was a Galilean who rarely went to Jerusalem.
  You're simply ignoring the argument made to you above. Let me repeat it for you here:

While some apologists attempt to wave this problem away by claiming that "Jesus"would not have been a noteworthy figure, this apologetic tactic contradicts what the Gospels say about Jesus.

Even the relatively sober account of Jesus found in the first gospel, The Gospel of 'Mark', presents us with a Jesus who garnered quite a bit of attention. Consider for example, Mark 2:1-12, where the crowd coming to see Jesus is so great, that a paralytic has to be lowered through the roof of a building Jesus is in, in order for Jesus to see him. Elsewhere Mark tells us that the crowds that Jesus drew were so overflowing that he has to lecture from a boat on the Sea of Galilee. When Jesus travels from Bethany to Jerusalem, throngs of people line the roads to welcome him. Mark also tells us of how Jesus performed miracles before thousands: on two different occasions Jesus feeds thousands through miracles (see for example, Mark 8:1).

In short, 'Mark' gives us a 'Jesus' who is bigger than the Beatles, and I believe the Beatles analogy is a good one: we even have a nice parallel between the story of Jesus' lecture from a ship at Galilee, and the Beatles famous 'rooftop' audition, where they were forced to play an impromptu concert on a rooftop, lest the crowds that would rush to see them cause a riot. In both cases, the crowds had reached, hysterical, historically noteworthy, proportions. Yet, John E. Remsberg, in 'The Christ: A Critical Review and Analysis of the Evidence of His Existence' (The Truth Seeker Company, NY, no date, pp. 24-25) makes the curious observation that no one from this era wrote a single word about the Jesus Hysteria. Remsberg notes: "(While) Enough of the writings of the authors named in the foregoing list remains to form a library, (no where)... in this mass of Jewish and Pagan literature, aside from two forged brief passages in the works of a Jewish author (Josephus), and two disputed passages in the works of Roman writers, there is to be found no mention of Jesus Christ."

Quote:
Also, Philo would have been discussted with the idea of the "Logos" becoming incarnate. He would be no friend of Jesus.
  Even if this were true, it's no reason why Philo would simply ignore the existence of a god man striding the earth. And you are begging the question that Philo would simply hold to his beliefs even in the fact of negating evidence in the form of a resurrected god man!
If Philo could simply reject Jesus because of his pre existent beliefs, then what point was there in Jesus coming to earth in the first place?!  Think your claim through: you are insisting that people's positions would remain the same even in the fact of evidence of a resurrected christ.  The more parsimonious explanation is that they had no evidence of any such christ.  
Quote:
Your argument from Philo is reduced to an argument from silence.
  Reduced? That's what it is. You mistakenly believe this to be a negative, when in fact, an argument from silence is damaging in the case of an extraordinary claim. Read the above points concerning valid arguments from silence. 
Quote:
Pliny the Elder: He was a writer on science and morality. No reason for him to mention a Jewish itinerant preacher from Gallilee. Another argument from silence.
  Again, a valid argument from silence is damning. As for the argument that Pliny would not mention a miracle working god man, you again are just ignoring the argument given above. How could Pliny ignore the Jesus described in the book of Mark?! 
Quote:
Seneca: He had a lot of problems with Nero. It is doubtful that he would have the time or interest to write on some obscure itinerate preacher in Gallilee.
  Again, in order to hold to this claim, you must contradict almost everything in the gospels... you can't hold the gospels to be true and also hold that jesus was insignificant.  
Quote:
CONCLUSIONYour arguments are based on silence. Arguments from silence are never valid.
  You are wrong. You are confusing a valid argument from silence from the fallacy of making a positive assertion from silence. An argument from silence does not occur if we point to a lack of evidence as meaning that such and such an event probably did not happen. This not a fallacy at all, but the scientific method at work. Think it over: imagine that someone claimed that the moon exploded and magically re-appeared during 1979, but when you went back to the record from the era, you could find no evidence of such a cataclysmic event. The silence would be damaging to the claim. I invite you to read the scholarly review of a valid argument from silence that I have posted here.  
Quote:
Sure, they didn't mention Jesus. But they also never mentioned Gamaliel, Shammai, Hillel, or the Roman Senate.
  Please review my points concerning a valid argumenty from silence, and also please actually read the essay you think you are responding to. I refute the very idea that Jesus could have escaped the notice of anyone.

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 If you can't respect my

 If you can't respect my request to take one issue at a time, I'm terminating this discussion.

God exists or nothing exists --- Greg Bahnsen


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AL500 wrote:Pliny also

AL500 wrote:
Pliny also provides us with a direct refutation of the Gospel claims of earthquakes and eclipses. Pliny collected data on all manner of natural and astronomical phenomena, even those which were legendary - which he himself did not necessarily regard as factual, yet he records no prodigies associated with the beliefs of Christians, such as an earthquake or darkening of the skies at a crucifixion, or any star of Bethlehem.

 

MY RESPONSE: The fact he did not mention the earthquake and eclipse does not in anyway refute the Gospel whatsoever.
  Yes, it does. It refutes the possibility of there being a literal earthquake or eclipse as described in the book of Matthew.  
Quote:
Your arguing from silence again.
  Again, there are valid argument from silence, read the above post. I do hope that you at least learn that there are valid arguments from silence before you leave this thread.  
Quote:
Pliny was not in Jerusalem when it happened..
  Even if this were the case, Pliny would not need to be present to report it - he could and often did rely on other sources. So your claim here is moot...  
Quote:
And, according to Thallus, the eclipse and earthquake defied natural explanation and had the character of a miracle.
  See this claim refuted here:  http://www.rationalresponders.com/forum/rook_hawkins/the_jesus_mythicist_campaign/2889
  1. 1. Be aware that we don't have Thallus' writings, only comments from Julius Africanus in the 3rd Century CE. The earliest manuscript of Africanus' work was done by George Syncellus in the 9th Century CE.
  2. 2. Julius goes on to criticise him for saying this because a solar eclipse is impossible during a full moon. Even Bede (a Christian apologist) notes this is impossible because an eclipse can't take place during a full moon. For more on the dynamics of solar eclipses go HERE. However there was an eclipse in November of 29 CE, which may have been the one that Thallus referred to. Note the date of the only recorded solar eclipse occurred 4 years PRIOR to the date Christians give for the death of Jesus.
    Both F.Jacoby and R.T.France note that this does NOT in any way prove Thallus mentioned Jesus at all - it seems that it was Julius, nearly 2 centuries after Thallus alleged wrote about it, who made the connection.
  3. 3. The supposed identification of Thallus depends entirely on a misreading of Josephus, which even the author F.F.Bruce admits is "doubtful. Dr. R.T.Frances (a conservative Christian) also rejects this dating of Thallus.
  4. 4. Josephus mentions .. "allos Samareus genos" which has to be amended to read "Thallos" to support this identification. All Josephus mentions is that "Thallos" loaned money to Agrippa. This is very non-specific because even if Josephus had said "Thallos", there is no way to be sure that this is in fact the historian Thallus because during that time Thallos was a common name (the "which Thallus? problem&quotEye-wink

Remember that we are looking for historians who mention Jesus to confirm that a historical personage existed BUT:

  1. Thallus (even if we had any of his work which no longer exists) does NOT mention Jesus, only that a "darkness occurred).
    1. Also remember that Julius who supposedly mentions Thallus' report characterizes it as a solar eclipse which could not have possibly occurred on the date in question because of full moon.
    2. The only documented solar elipse even close in both time and place to the time/place of Jesus' death occurred in November 24, 29 CE, a date PRIOR to the time given by Christians (33 CE)

Thallus provides no evidence of anything about Jesus.

Quote:
And Pliny had no respect for miracles. He was a skeptic and rationalist.
 

Again, your logic is backwards... if he had proof of a 'miraculous earthquake' (whatever THAT means), then why wouldn't he change this view?! Your argument assumes that everyone is a dogmatist, sticking to their pre existent views, no matter what they witness. First, thats begging the question. Second, it makes the resurrection pointless, doesn't it? I mean, if even an eyewitness will just go on believing what he already believed, what's the piont?

 

 

Those who know the good, do the good. - Socrates

Books on atheism.


todangst
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AL500 wrote: If you can't

AL500 wrote:
If you can't respect my request to take one issue at a time, I'm terminating this discussion.

I'm responding to the points that YOU raise. I find it pretty disrespectful that you want to call my responding to your own points not 'taking one issue at a time!" If this is the case, then you yourself should refrain from raising 'more than one issue at a time'

 

However, if you wish to leave, by all means do so... All you have done so far is repeat an error already refuted in the original essay (That you can hold to the gospels and, at the same time, argue that jesus was a minor figure) and, make the erroneous conclusion that all arguments from silence are invalid. Other than that, nothing has been accomplished here. Had you done your homework, all of this could have been avoided.

 

 

 

 

Those who know the good, do the good. - Socrates

Books on atheism.