Proving the existence of Jesus as a historical person

Christos
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Proving the existence of Jesus as a historical person


The Jesus Seminar is a large group of scholars dedicated to finding the authentic sayings of the historical Jesus. They examined the transmission of sayings from Jesus to the writing of the 5 gospels (Thomas included).

Jesus taught his followers orally. The oral memory best retains sayings and anecdotes that are shown provocative, memorable, and oft-repeated. The most frequently recorded words of Jesus in the surviving gospels take the form of aphorisms and parables. The earliest layer of the gospel tradition is made up of single aphorisms and parables that circulated by word of mouth prior to the written gospels.

With these facts considered, the Seminar formulated key characteristics to authentic the sayings of Jesus. (Note: The seminar only considers 18% of the sayings in the 5 gospels to be authentic to the historical Jesus)

-Jesus' characteristic talk was distinctive. It can usually be distinguished from common lore. Otherwise it is futile to search for the authentic words of Jesus.

-Jesus' sayings and parables cut against the social and religious grain.

-Jesus' sayings and parables surprise and shock: they characteristically call for a reversal of roles or frustrate ordinary, everyday expectations.

-Jesus' sayings and parables are often characterized by exaggeration, humor and paradox.

-Jesus' images are concrete and vivid, his sayings and parables customarily metaphorical and without explicit application.

Other generalizations about his manner:

-Jesus does not as a rule initiate dialogue or debate, nor does he offer to cure people.

-Jesus rarely makes pronouncements or speaks about himself in the first person. 

 

Conclusion: The fact that these characteristics are present in multiple, independent sources (Mark, Q, Thomas, M, L, John) implies a single person to initiate these sayings. Given this information, it is rational beyond a reasonable doubt to consider Jesus to be a historical person.

For this post I am referencing The Five Gospels, by Robert Funk and Roy Hoover. If you want to investigate the sayings of the historical Jesus, pick up this book. Finally, before atheists on this forum ignore me as a fundamentalist Christian I should point out two things: 1) No one who supports the Jesus Seminar is a fundy. 2) I am not a Christian.  

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I've always wondered, why

I've always wondered, why did they pick Jesus to be their Messiah? Why give him super-natural powers?


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Cpt_pineapple wrote: I've

Cpt_pineapple wrote:
I've always wondered, why did they pick Jesus to be their Messiah? Why give him super-natural powers?

I'm not sure. Possibly to make Jesus more appealing to gentiles.

"A man can no more diminish God's glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word, 'darkness' on the walls of his cell." (CS Lewis)

"A young man who wishes to remain a sound atheist cannot be too careful of his reading." (CS Lewis)


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Anyone going to refute this?

Anyone going to refute this?


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Using the BuyBull to prove

Using the BuyBull to prove Jesus exists is like using Gone With the Wind to prove Scarlet O'Hara exists.

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MattShizzle wrote: Using

MattShizzle wrote:
Using the BuyBull to prove Jesus exists is like using Gone With the Wind to prove Scarlet O'Hara exists.

Sorry MattShizzle, but my proof went way over your head.  

"A man can no more diminish God's glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word, 'darkness' on the walls of his cell." (CS Lewis)

"A young man who wishes to remain a sound atheist cannot be too careful of his reading." (CS Lewis)


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No, it doesn't constitute

No, it doesn't constitute "proof." Anyone can make up a believable character.


Christos
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The fact that these

The fact that these characteristics are present in multiple, independent sources (Mark, Q, Thomas, M, L, John) implies a single person to initiate these sayings. Given this information, it is rational beyond a reasonable doubt to consider Jesus to be a historical person.

"A man can no more diminish God's glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word, 'darkness' on the walls of his cell." (CS Lewis)

"A young man who wishes to remain a sound atheist cannot be too careful of his reading." (CS Lewis)


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Not exactly. Do you know who

Not exactly. Do you know who actually wrote them? There's no evidence they were actually written by the people named. It also is pretty easy to collaborate to write different stories about the same person. Superman has the same characteristics in the comics over the years, with different writers. Does that mean Superman is real?

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Are you serious? You can't

Are you serious? You can't refute ancient writings with Superman. It doesn't matter who wrote Mark or Thomas or Q. All that matters is that multiple, independent sources (Mark, Q, Thomas, M,L, John) come up with similar characteristics for the same person. That makes it reasonable to consider Jesus as a historical person.

Can I get someone who actually knows something about Christian history? 

"A man can no more diminish God's glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word, 'darkness' on the walls of his cell." (CS Lewis)

"A young man who wishes to remain a sound atheist cannot be too careful of his reading." (CS Lewis)


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You're bordering on

You're bordering on trolling by the way.

As I am saying, anyone can write a story about a character and have them have similar characteristics as an earlier writer did.

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I'm sorry Matt, you don't

I'm sorry Matt, you don't really understand my point.

 


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psssssst. I think he is

psssssst. I think he is suggesting that they were writing at the same time from different sources.

 

Edit:

 Wait, I think he'e suggesting that the writers had no contact with each other and could not have known these things unless there was a historical Jesus.  


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Cpt_pineapple wrote:

Cpt_pineapple wrote:

Wait, I think he'e suggesting that the writers had no contact with each other and could not have known these things unless there was a historical Jesus.

Yup 

"A man can no more diminish God's glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word, 'darkness' on the walls of his cell." (CS Lewis)

"A young man who wishes to remain a sound atheist cannot be too careful of his reading." (CS Lewis)


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Christos

Christos wrote:
Cpt_pineapple wrote:

Wait, I think he'e suggesting that the writers had no contact with each other and could not have known these things unless there was a historical Jesus.

Yup

Then you're forgetting that at least four of your sources (Mk, M, L and Q) are interdependent are so can't be considered as independent.

 

That aside, it's totally wrong to argue that the gospel texts automatically have to be ruled out of court in the question of whether Jesus existed or not. They are texts that indicate what people in the late First Century believed about this "Jesus" guy. So they are actually key evidence in relation to the question. If Jesus didn't exist, then the Jesus Mythers need to come up with an alternative explanation of who invented him, when, and why.

 

This explanation needs to be pretty good if it's going to stand up to Occam's Razor, because it has to achieve a number of very difficult things. Firstly, it needs to give us a good reason to assume that Jesus didn't exist in the first place, since our sources all state that he did and we have no sources saying that he had been invented, despite the fact both Pagan and Jewish opponents had big incentives to point this out if it had been known. Secondly, it has to explain all the evidence better than the default assumption that he did exist. Thirdly, it needs to account for elements in the stories which, because they were clearly awkward for the gospel writers, seem to have been left in the story because of their historicity - eg the fact Jesus was rather inconveniently from Nazareth rather than Bethlehem.

 

The fact that the alternatives presented by Jesus Mythers range from the creative but unsubstantiated (Doherty) to the barking mad (Atwill) explains why professional scholars simply don't find the Jesus Myth hypothesis credible. The idea that there was an historical Yeshua behind the Jesus of the gospels makes vastly more sense than the contrived and usually quite silly contortions required to maintain that Jesus never existed.

 

Smart atheists should leave the Jesus Myth nonsense alone. It is to atheism what Creationism is to Christianity - a kooky fundamentalist fringe idea that just makes all of us look silly.

The "Wise Old Atheist" says: They decided to invent a god and came up with one who looked like a peasant preacher from Galilee?! Were they on crack?


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Good points Mazda. Is

Good points Mazda.

Is anyone going to refute this? If no one does, I guess the Jesus Myth hypothesis has been debunked.  

"A man can no more diminish God's glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word, 'darkness' on the walls of his cell." (CS Lewis)

"A young man who wishes to remain a sound atheist cannot be too careful of his reading." (CS Lewis)


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Christos wrote:Good

Christos wrote:

Good points Mazda.

Is anyone going to refute this? If no one does, I guess the Jesus Myth hypothesis has been debunked.  

Indeed.  The outspoken Jesus Myth apologists and evangelists on this board have fallen oddly silent lately.

The "Wise Old Atheist" says: They decided to invent a god and came up with one who looked like a peasant preacher from Galilee?! Were they on crack?


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Christos wrote: The fact

Christos wrote:
The fact that these characteristics are present in multiple, independent sources (Mark, Q, Thomas, M, L, John) implies a single person to initiate these sayings. Given this information, it is rational beyond a reasonable doubt to consider Jesus to be a historical person.

There is good reasont to hold that the first gospel, Mark, is midrash and that the others are based on Mark. 

http://web.archive.org/web/20060503062806/users2.ev1.net/~turton/GMark/GMark_intro.html#intro

Another problem is they are anonymous and in order to check the veracity of the work we need to know who wrote them, and what or who were their sources. We have neither. Since there is no comtenporary accounts of Jesus existence the information we do have is likely no more then hearsay.

"It is far better to grasp the universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring" -- Carl Sagan


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Jesus Myth Imagine it was

Jesus Myth

Imagine it was claimed that in 1972 the moon exploded, and then reappeared. You would expect this claim to be verifiable, given the nature of the claim. So you look into this claim by researching all the astronomical data from that period and any other related information that could possible relate to the claim. You would expect such a claim to be noteworthy to Astronomers so not finding any information to corroborate the claim would be striking. It would lead you to think the claim is false, that the moon never exploded.

What happens when we apply this approach to the claims about Jesus? If the claims of the gospels were true, that Jesus the god-man walked the Earth, drawing crowds of thousends, casting miracles, raising the dead, raising himself from the dead, in addition to the strange activity of nature at his crucifixion (e.g. earthquakes, supernatural darkness, dead saints rising from their graves etc) then we would expect this information to have been written about by contemporise of this alleged god-person.

There were plenty of historians and writers who were living in the same region as Jesus, either during his purported lifetime (e.g. Philo; Pliny; Seneca the Younger) or just after (e.g. Josephus; Plutarch; Tacitus) who would have been interested, and who would have noticed, had these accounts pointed to actual historical events. These were people writing about Jewish history, the Jewish people, and the Jewish religion, in addition to issues pertaining to morality and philosophy, so the appearance of the Jewish messiah/god-man ought to dominate their work, yet none of these writers mention a single word about him. (In fact, Philo, who lived at the same time as Jesus, specifically mentions that no such person worthy of being called a ‘god incarnation’ or a ‘son or god’ existing, giving us a positive refutation.) Their silence is significant and should be of concern to every Christian.

Here are the complaints Christian’s usually give:

1) Jesus was not a noteworthy figure.

The problem with this that is it is not Biblical; in fact, it directly contradicts what the gospels say of Jesus! This was a man who amassed crowds into the thousands, such as when he entered Jerusalem and when he had to give a sermon from a boat due to the growing crowd. This man was a miracle performer, raising the dead and feeding thousens with scraps of food.

So
you cannot hold that Jesus was not a noticeable person AND hold that the gospel accounts are true.

2) These writers would not have been interested/would not have believed.

This simply ignores the very point under contention (!)… that these were people who would have been very interested in the appearance of the Jewish messiah/god-man. These were people who where writing about morality, philosophy, the Jewish people and their religion, so to suggest that they would not have been interested is simply absurd! (Unless of course you’re actually willing to argue that what Jesus purportedly said or done was of no interest to matters relating to morality, philosophy or religion, which is even more absurd!!)

This also begs the question that if the gospel accounts are historical, these
writers, and other doubters, would not have changed their position/beliefs when confronted such overwhelming evidence. It assumes that they would remain doubters, that they were dogmatists… that they could have clear knowledge of this god-man, his miracles and resurrection as per the gospels, and yet not become believers in him themselves. This would be a refutation to Christianity! If the acts and miracles of Jesus were useless, why did god even bother sending Jesus to begin with!? If these events were not compelling enough to cause conversion then it cuts the legs from right under Christianity. It is far more parsimonious to say that these writers never converted because the events didn’t happen to begin with.

Also, to say they didn’t convert because they were dogmatists ignores the fact that the original Christians were Jews, or rather converts from Judaism, so clearly, people in 1st and 2nd century Judea were not all dogmatists, even someone as staunch as Paul couldn’t resist, and he was not even an eyewitness!


3) “Josephus wrote about Jesus and that’s proof.”

A short passage, known as the Testimonium Flavianum, in Josephus’ work, The Antiquities of the Jews” is often called upon by Christians as proof Jesus existed.

Josephus was not a contemporary of Jesus, and so even if he knew about and wrote about Jesus the account could not have been that of a first hand eyewitness (nor could he have considered Jesus as the messiah, for reasons I will outline). Josephus is of interest to us since he was a Jewish historian and as such he would have been greatly interested in the appearance of the Jewish messiah - had he known about him, and had Jesus existed as per the gospels Josephus certainly would have known. Josephus wrote pages on petty criminals (making the claim that Jesus wasn’t noteworthy irrelevant since Josephus was not merely concerned with noteworthy figures!), he wrote chapters on the life of a mortal king, yet we’re told to believe that he knew of Jesus the messiah, and yet dismisses him in a few lines! This is patently absurd.

"Its brevity disproves its authenticity. Josephus' work is voluminous and exhaustive. It comprises twenty books. Whole pages are devoted to petty robbers and obscure seditious leaders. Nearly fourty chapters are devoted to the life of a single king. Yet this remarkable being, the greatest product of his race, a being of whom the prophets foretold ten thousand wonderful things, a being greater than any earthly king, is dismissed with a dozen lines."
-- The Christ, by John E. Remsburg, reprinted by Prometheus Books, New York, 1994, pages 171-3.

Whilst Jesus is mentioned in Josephus’ writing, there is good reason to hold this as either a radical alteration of a passage that originally referred to a purely human Jesus, or a completely forged interpolation altogether, most likely in the 4th century by the Christian scribe Eusebius. According to Jeffery J. Lowder: "There are many scholars who believe the original text contained an authentic reference to Jesus but was later embellished by Christians.”

Here is the Testimonium, with the parts which are widely regarded by scholars as interpolations underlined:

”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.”

Josephus’ work is cited numerously by early Christians yet none ever cite this alleged passage, at all, not even when they were in need of extrabiblical historical proof of their claims, such when they were accused of making Jesus up. For example, Justin Martyr, the prominent Christian apologist wrote Dialogue With Trypho the Jew”, an account of a dialogue between himself and a Jewish rabbi named Trypho, in which they discuss whether Jesus was the messiah. Justin makes no mentioned of the Testimonium, despite the fact that 1) he was well versed in the works of Josephus, 2) the passage was directly relevant to their discussion, and 3) having the evidence of his argument from the greatest Jewish historian would have certainly impressed the rabbi he was in conversation with.

We can conclude that they never referred to the Testimonium for two possible reasons: because it didn’t exist, or, at best, because the short account was actually just a second hand reference to merely a human Jesus. This is explained here:

There's really only one way to salvage the Testimonium: to use Jeffery J. Lowder's argument that the Testimonium was radically altered by christians, and that the original Josephus passage was a second hand reference to a purely human Jesus who, while worthy of a brief note, did not merit more than a few lines of text, let alone consideration as the Jewish Messiah. This would explain why christians did not cite it until it was radically altered: because it was an actual refutation of the gospel claim of Jesus the Christ.
[Bold emphasis added]

Lowder writes: "If the original passage contained only the non-[underlined] text, then it becomes quite easy to explain why the passage was not widely quoted during early Christian history. In its "pure" form, the passage would have only proved that (a purely human) Jesus existed, not that he performed miracles, rose from the dead, etc."
- http://www.rationalresponders.com/a_silence_that_screams_no_contemporary_historical_accounts_for_jesus
(and http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/jeff_lowder/mckinsey.html)

Also consider that had the Testimonium referred to merely a human Jesus, why didn’t the enemies of Christians use it to their advantage? Why did Trypho not use it in his debate with Justin Martyr?

In any case, neither option – a complete or partial forgery – is helpful to the Christian.

In addition to all this there is another damning issue… Josephus lived and died a Jew! How could he have had knowledge of Jesus the messiah, as per the gospel accounts, yet not convert to Christianity? If he did have knowledge of a Jesus, he clearly didn’t have knowledge as per what the gospels suggest he would have had - knowledge of a crowd drawing, miracle working, god-man. So suggesting that Josephus, a Jew, knew of Jesus is a refutation to the claims of the gospels!

Finally, some also mention that Jesus was indirectly referred to elsewhere in Antiquities (section 20.9) however there is good reason to hold that the reference to a Jesus here was not ‘Jesus the messiah, son of Joseph’ but rather ‘Jesus, son of Damneus.’ This claim is examined [url=http://www.atheistnetwork.com/viewtopic.php?p=38864&sid=eae887916e8679c9cd9fd7af5fc065e5#38864]here.[/url]


So to sum up, the forged account in Josephus’ writings would be akin to a music historian writing a history of British music in the sixties and failing to mention The Beatles (!) or at best making a brief reference to the band as if they were of no importance to music.

4) The Jesus in the gospels could have been based on a 1st century Jewish rabbi called Jesus or Yeshua?

Sure, this is certainly a possibility, but it misses the point. Finding such as person is a refutation of the gospels and the Jesus of Christianity! We are not looking for a historical human ‘Jesus’; we are looking for a Jesus vis-à-vis the gospel accounts. Don’t present a ‘human Jesus’ and think your “half way there,” you’re not.

Thought experiment: Imagine trying to prove that Superman existed – a man who could fly, was super strong, super fast, had super sight and super hearing! So you research and you find a 1950s journalist named Clark Kent, whose aggressive socially responsible reporting helped overthrow a weapons manufacturer called Luthor. You’ve just disproved the existence of Superman! You proved that Superman was just a story based on a normal person.

So just as ‘Superman’ is a referent to a superhero, and not a human journalist called Kent, ‘Jesus’ is a referent to a god-man, not a human rabbi named Yeshua.


5) How can you use the gospels in your argument when you reject them?

In order to study claims about Christianity we have to begin with the source books of these claim, but this does not entail accepting the gospel claims as literal fact. In order to explore the historical and logical ramifications of these claims we just have to hypothetically accept them as true. We can say: “Let’s hypothetically assume that the claims in the Gospel of Mark are true; what sort of history should we expect if this was the case?” Then we can look at history to see if it meets the prediction given to us by ‘Mark’. And clearly, the gospels claims are in contradiction to the historical data.

6) “Your argument is an argument from silence and arguments from silence are not valid.”

Wrong. An argument from silence is valid if you can show that the silence is significant.

How to make an argument from silence:
From: http://www.rationalresponders.com/a_silence_that_screams_no_contemporary_historical_accounts_for_jesus

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.”

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. 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.

(Important note: this is not to rule out extraordinary claims, a priori.)

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

Also see: http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/richard_carrier/jesuspuzzle.html#General

Carrier writes:
”There are two ways to "prove" ahistoricity:

(1) If you can demonstrate that there is both (a) insufficient evidence to believe x and (b) sufficient evidence to disbelieve x, then it is reasonable to disbelieve x. This is the "Argument from Silence."

(2) If you can demonstrate that all the evidence can be far better accounted for by a theory (y) other than historicity (theory x), then it is reasonable to believe y and, consequently, to disbelieve x. This is the "Argument to the Best Explanation."


This post is based on the following two essays which delve into this topic in much more depth:

http://www.rationalresponders.com/a_silence_that_screams_no_contemporary_historical_accounts_for_jesus
http://www.rationalresponders.com/forum/rook_hawkins/the_jesus_mythicist_campaign/2889

"It is far better to grasp the universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring" -- Carl Sagan


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Topher wrote: There is

Topher wrote:


There is good reasont to hold that the first gospel, Mark, is midrash and that the others are based on Mark.

 

Problem #1- The Gospel of Thomas was not based on Mark or Q. It is an independent source.  

"A man can no more diminish God's glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word, 'darkness' on the walls of his cell." (CS Lewis)

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Secondly, your long post

Secondly, your long post does nothing to disprove my hypothesis. The fact that similar sayings can be found in independent sources (Mark, Q, Thomas) implies a historical person to begin these sayings.

I am not a Christian, I'm just proving the obvious...there was a historical Jesus. Even though that Jesus did not perform miracles or rise from the dead.

 

"A man can no more diminish God's glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word, 'darkness' on the walls of his cell." (CS Lewis)

"A young man who wishes to remain a sound atheist cannot be too careful of his reading." (CS Lewis)


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Christos wrote: Secondly,

Christos wrote:
Secondly, your long post does nothing to disprove my hypothesis.

Refute what I wrote them. Don't just assert that it "does nothing to disprove my hypothesis"!

Christos wrote:
I am not a Christian, I'm just proving the obvious...there was a historical Jesus.

No, it isn't obvious.

 

Christos wrote:
Even though that Jesus did not perform miracles or rise from the dead.

And as I wrote, don't present a human Jesus and think you've proved the Jesus of Christianity, Jesus the christ. You havn't. In order to prove Jesus existed you have to prove the Jesus the christ, as per the gospels. Anything other than than just proves, at best, that a 1st century human was the basis for fairytale. You'll have proved that Christianity is actually a fairytale, in the same way that presenting the person who Ian Fleming based James Bond on is not provingthat James Bond existed, it it proved James Bond didn't exist!



As for the sources, in addition to what I've already wrote, as far as I'm aware there is not that much evidence for Q, but in any case the same problem applies: all the 'christian' writings, canon or heresy, are anonymous and as such cannot be considered valid sources. We need to know who wrote the work and what or who were there sources. We don't have this. All we have is anonymous hearsay!

"It is far better to grasp the universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring" -- Carl Sagan


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What is your point here? 

What is your point here?  Is it that someone actually said at least some of the saying attributed to Jesus of Nazareth?  You do not assert that such a person did any miracles.  You do not assert that any of the supposed biographical facts given about him in the four gospels (Thomas is just a collection of sayings, if I remember right) are reliable. 

 This kind of reminds me of the argument that Shakespeare didn't write his plays.  I suspect Shakespeare wrote them and have no reason to believe otherwise.  But someone wrote Shakespeare's plays.  Whoever that person is--probably William Shakespeare--was a talented playwright.  Jesus of Nazareth--or whoever said what is attributed to him--said some good things, some bad things, and not a few bizarre things.  Someone said all of them.

I guess if your point is that someone (who didn't do miracles and may or may not have even been called Jesus) said some of the sayings attributed to Jesus of Nazareth, I'm not sure I disagree.  I just don't know why that would be significant.  Many writers are inspired by real life people.

I think it is possible that there were wandering preachers and magicians whose teachings may have served as an inspiration for whoever first compiled the Jesus story.  Maybe one or more of them was called Jesus.  I just think the records are too limited to draw any conclusions.

It would be significant if a son of a god came wandering around on earth and did miracles and taught a unique, powerful, and true set of lessons.  It is not significant if a wandering itinerate preacher said about 18% of the things attributed to Jesus of Nazareth.

Thandarr


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Thandarr wrote:

Thandarr wrote:

What is your point here? Is it that someone actually said at least some of the saying attributed to Jesus of Nazareth? You do not assert that such a person did any miracles. You do not assert that any of the supposed biographical facts given about him in the four gospels (Thomas is just a collection of sayings, if I remember right) are reliable.

This kind of reminds me of the argument that Shakespeare didn't write his plays. I suspect Shakespeare wrote them and have no reason to believe otherwise. But someone wrote Shakespeare's plays. Whoever that person is--probably William Shakespeare--was a talented playwright. Jesus of Nazareth--or whoever said what is attributed to him--said some good things, some bad things, and not a few bizarre things. Someone said all of them.

I guess if your point is that someone (who didn't do miracles and may or may not have even been called Jesus) said some of the sayings attributed to Jesus of Nazareth, I'm not sure I disagree. I just don't know why that would be significant. Many writers are inspired by real life people.

I think it is possible that there were wandering preachers and magicians whose teachings may have served as an inspiration for whoever first compiled the Jesus story. Maybe one or more of them was called Jesus. I just think the records are too limited to draw any conclusions.

It would be significant if a son of a god came wandering around on earth and did miracles and taught a unique, powerful, and true set of lessons. It is not significant if a wandering itinerate preacher said about 18% of the things attributed to Jesus of Nazareth.

Thandarr

Yes, it would be highly significant had Jesus as per the gospels existed, and you would expect writers of the time to have noticed. But none do.

Please understand that to present a human person who influenced a story about a god-man would disprove Christianity. For some strange reason people seem to think they can present a human Jesus and be "half way there." I have to wonder if they read what they even write!

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Hey Carl Sagan, what part

Hey Carl Sagan, what part of "I am not a Christian," do you not understand? I'm not trying to prove the Jesus of the gospels. All I am saying is that there was a historical Jesus who was wrapped in miracles and Jewish history in the gospels.

The very fact that there are common characteristics in independent or interdependent sources implies a historical person to initiate these sayings.  

"A man can no more diminish God's glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word, 'darkness' on the walls of his cell." (CS Lewis)

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Christos wrote: Hey Carl

Christos wrote:

Hey Carl Sagan, what part of "I am not a Christian," do you not understand? I'm not trying to prove the Jesus of the gospels. All I am saying is that there was a historical Jesus who was wrapped in miracles and Jewish history in the gospels.

 

Some people here need to write this out 1000 times until it sinks in:

 

"Arguing for an historical Jesus is NOT the same as arguing for the Jesus of the gospels."

The "Wise Old Atheist" says: They decided to invent a god and came up with one who looked like a peasant preacher from Galilee?! Were they on crack?


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Ahura Mazda

Ahura Mazda wrote:
Christos wrote:

Hey Carl Sagan, what part of "I am not a Christian," do you not understand? I'm not trying to prove the Jesus of the gospels. All I am saying is that there was a historical Jesus who was wrapped in miracles and Jewish history in the gospels.

Some people here need to write this out 1000 times until it sinks in:

"Arguing for an historical Jesus is NOT the same as arguing for the Jesus of the gospels."

 What you say here is that arguing for a historical Jesus is not the same as arguing for the Jesus of the gospels and you do this while using the gospels as evidence ofr a historic Jesus. Is this correct?So if one is not arguing for the Jesus of the gospels as the historic Jesus then what Jesus are they arguing for? The Jesus of all the other Jesus references that are floating around out there? This is a sincere question. It seems odd to argue for the historicity of a person from a particular source and then claim the person in that source is not the actual person whose historicity you are arguing.

“Philosophers have argued for centuries about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, but materialists have always known it depends on whether they are jitterbugging or dancing cheek to cheek" -- Tom Robbins


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Vessel wrote:  What you

Vessel wrote:
 What you say here is that arguing for a historical Jesus is not the same as arguing for the Jesus of the gospels and you do this while using the gospels as evidence ofr a historic Jesus. Is this correct?
 No.  The only way I use the gospels is the way any real historian (and I’m excluding our Christian fundie friends from that definition) should use them – as documents that indicate what later First Century Christians said and believed about Jesus.  This means they are directly pertinent to the question about how those beliefs came about – did they come about because of a Jewish preacher who developed into the character we find in the gospels or did someone invent this character wholesale?  How could we examine this question without taking the gospels into account in our analysis. 

 

Quote:
So if one is not arguing for the Jesus of the gospels as the historic Jesus then what Jesus are they arguing for? The Jesus of all the other Jesus references that are floating around out there? This is a sincere question.
 

 

There’s a difference between arguing for an historical Jesus (I prefer to call him Yeshua to lessen the confusion) depending on the later gospel stories and trying to examine who he may have been using the later gospels stories.    

Quote:
It seems odd to argue for the historicity of a person from a particular source and then claim the person in that source is not the actual person whose historicity you are arguing.
 

 

Considering the gospels are religious texts making statements of fact and not historical works or works of eye-witness journalism, this is not so odd.

  Historians don’t take any ancient work at face value and will always try to examine who the author may have been, what they were trying to achieve, what they believed, what they wanted their audience to believe, who that audience was etc.  This goes double for religious texts.   

 

So all scholars, with the exception of the fundies, accept that we can’t accept the Jesus in the gospels at face value.  The next step is to try to work out how much the historical figure differs from the literary/religious figure of the texts.  

Therefore anyone examining the question of the historical Yeshua is working from sources while assuming “the person in that source is not the actual person whose historicity [they] are arguing”.  That’s standard operating procedure in this field, even for those Christian historians who think Yeshua and “Jesus” are actually pretty close.

 

The "Wise Old Atheist" says: They decided to invent a god and came up with one who looked like a peasant preacher from Galilee?! Were they on crack?


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Thanks. I'm not really up on

Thanks. I'm not really up on the whole Jesus Myth/Historicity thing as I don't see how it is really relevant to the atheism/theism discussion unless there actually was a 'god'. Then I would probably care more whether he had ever existed or not. But thanks for the clarification as I now understand the context in which you were making what I found to be a confusing statement.

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What does this mean, "wrapped in miracles."

I'm still trying to figure out what you're claiming here.  If the claim is that there was someone in Judea by the name of Jesus, I suspect there probably was.  That does not prove the historicity of the Gospels.  I don't know what "wrapped in miracles" means.  If it means there was a Jesus around whom miracle legends were created, there may have been--although even that remains mostly unproved.

As I understand the Jesus myth concept, the idea is that there wasn't a historical character about whom all these miracle stories circulated during his lifetime.  I don't understand the Jesus Myth to categorically deny the existence of a Jew named Yehsua--anglicized as Jesus.  You aren't really disproving the Jesus myth theory by suggesting there may have been someone named Jesus around whom myths were developed long after his death.  I am not aware of any evidence other than the gospels, canonical and non-canonical, that suggest that Jesus lived until long after he would have died.  The gospels are so full of supernatural hoodoo that we can't accept them as reliable evidence of anything.  If someone told you that he saw your friend John yesterday, and John was driving a flying saucer, would you accept that he saw John--a totally plausible detail--or would you dismiss your informant as an unreliable witness.  I think a witness who says there was a Jesus who made all these speeches and who also raised people from the dead, turned water into wine, walked on water, stopped a storm, chatted with Satan, Moses, and Elijah, and cured people is an unreliable witness about anything.

I realize that leaves Thomas.  Sure, Thomas may have cataloged a bunch of sayings attributed to some guy named Jesus.  Maybe.  Or maybe not.  The Gospel of Judas may catalog some sayings of a guy named Jesus, or not.

The idea that a historical Jesus who said about a fifth of the things attributed to Jesus, had a biography roughly similar to that of the scriptural Jesus, and had miracles associated with him in his lifetime remains unsubstantiated by any reliable evidence.

What I don't see is any indication your point contradicts the idea that Jesus of Nazareth was a mythological invention.  If he was modeled somewhat on people wandering around Palestine in the first century, just as he was modeled after many other deities at the time, that supports the idea that Jesus of Nazareth as seen in the Gospels was a myth.

 


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Vessel wrote: Thanks. I'm

Vessel wrote:
Thanks. I'm not really up on the whole Jesus Myth/Historicity thing as I don't see how it is really relevant to the atheism/theism discussion unless there actually was a 'god'. Then I would probably care more whether he had ever existed or not. But thanks for the clarification as I now understand the context in which you were making what I found to be a confusing statement.
 No problem.  It’s actually quite irrelevant to atheism generally, though there seems to be a kind of atheist who feels the need to adopt the most extreme anti-Christian position they kind find and so cling to this “Jesus never even existed, SO THERE!” stuff, no matter how silly it is. Personally, I couldn’t care less whether Jesus existed or not.  It’s just that the arguments that he didn’t are so contrived and hard to take seriously. 
Thandarr wrote:
I'm still trying to figure out what you're claiming here.  If the claim is that there was someone in Judea by the name of Jesus, I suspect there probably was.
 Same here.   
Quote:
That does not prove the historicity of the Gospels.
 I suspect you’re replying to “Christos” rather than me.  I’ve certainly never made any claims about the “historicity of the gospels”.  In fact, in my post above, I’ve made it pretty clear that I feel they shouldn’t be regarded as works of history at all, rather than as what they are: statements of faith.  That said, they have historical information in them, as all ancient texts do (even Roman soldiers’ letters from Vindolanda asking their mothers for new socks). 
Quote:
If it means there was a Jesus around whom miracle legends were created, there may have been--although even that remains mostly unproved.
 Many things in the study of history, especially pre-Modern history, will always “remain mostly unproved”.  Those who like things to be “proved” should stick to maths or physics and leave history alone. 
Quote:
As I understand the Jesus myth concept, the idea is that there wasn't a historical character about whom all these miracle stories circulated during his lifetime.  I don't understand the Jesus Myth to categorically deny the existence of a Jew named Yehsua--anglicized as Jesus.
 As the veteran of many debates with Jesus Mythers over the last couple of decades, I can assure you that there are many who “categorically deny the existence of a Jew named Yehsua” and kick against it as vigorously as they do against the existence of “Jesus Christ”.  It seems it’s very important to them that there be no “Jesus” in any sense, for some reason. People who are arguing simply that there was a Yeshua, but that the figure of “Jesus Christ” is a mythic one that grew out of stories about Yeshua are people I have zero argument with.  Largely because that’s precisely what I believe. 
Quote:
You aren't really disproving the Jesus myth theory by suggesting there may have been someone named Jesus around whom myths were developed long after his death.
 You should explain that to the Jesus Mythers who fight vigorously against precisely that idea.   
Quote:
The gospels are so full of supernatural hoodoo that we can't accept them as reliable evidence of anything. 
 Lots of ancient texts are full of supernatural hoodoo.  If we threw out Suetonius because of his signs and portents and tossed out any ancient writer who believes or describes stuff we now consider nonsense we’d be left with a very empty shelf of primary source material.  Regardless of their particularly heavy helpings of hoodoo (which you’d expect from religious texts) the gospels are still first century documents and still texts that can (i) tell us about some early Christians believed and (ii) indicate about who this Yeshua guy may have been.  That’s how historians use any ancient texts, whether they are religious statements or letters by Roman soldiers about socks.

 

The "Wise Old Atheist" says: They decided to invent a god and came up with one who looked like a peasant preacher from Galilee?! Were they on crack?


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Christos wrote:   Hey

Christos wrote:

 

Hey Carl Sagan, what part of "I am not a Christian," do you not understand? I'm not trying to prove the Jesus of the gospels. All I am saying is that there was a historical Jesus who was wrapped in miracles and Jewish history in the gospels.



So you wish to establish a purely human Jesus. That’s fine, yet you do realise this refutes Christianity. You not a Christian so I don’t think this will concern you, but no Christian should attempt to prove a Jesus other than the Jesus described in the gospels.

I don’t think Jesus existed, but I don’t really have a problem with a purely human Jesus who inspired a future story. My underlining point is neither is helpful to Christianity.

"It is far better to grasp the universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring" -- Carl Sagan


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Topher wrote: So you wish

Topher wrote:

So you wish to establish a purely human Jesus. That’s fine, yet you do realise this refutes Christianity. ....  My underlining point is neither is helpful to Christianity.

Sorry, but I don't see anyone on this thread who is carrying a torch for Christianity.  Why do you feel the need to point out that our position doesn't help Christianity?  We don't give a stuff about Christianity.

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How do your "independent

How do your "independent sources" attest to an historical Jesus?

They are  1. Interdependant on eachother and

              2. Jesus sayings and stories are just a redaction of many different myths circulating throught the early first century. \essentially the creators of the myth just borrowed from different religions and gods and over the course of centuries pigeoholed Christ (who wasn't known as jesus christ until after the Nicean council in 325) into history.

Several sects of early christianity themselves argued over the historicity of Jesus themselves. No one then could prove it as you fail to here. 

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Ahura Mazda wrote: Thirdly,

Ahura Mazda wrote:
Thirdly, it needs to account for elements in the stories which, because they were clearly awkward for the gospel writers, seem to have been left in the story because of their historicity - eg the fact Jesus was rather inconveniently from Nazareth rather than Bethlehem.

But Jesus was born in Bethlehem, right? He just grew up in Nazareth (untill he left altogether).

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To prove your claim Cassio,

To prove your claim Cassio, you would need to demonstrate where the authentic teaching of Jesus can be found in other religious traditions. Before you respond with the moronic, "Lots of religions have the golden rule," I'm talking about all the authentic aphorisms and parables. So go and look. I can wait to hear what kind of crap you make up.

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To get you started, explain

To get you started, explain "Blessed be the poor," found in Q (Matt 5:3, Luke 6:20), and Thomas 54.

Next you can explain Emperor and God in Mark 12:17b, Thomas 100:2b, Luke 20:25b, Matt 22:21c.

Finally, explain the mustard seed in Thomas 20:2-4, Mark 4:30-32, Luke 13:18-19, Matt 13:31-32.

Remember, your challenge is to show where these sayings or parables can be found in other religious traditions. If you can figure these out, I've got 88 more. 

"A man can no more diminish God's glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word, 'darkness' on the walls of his cell." (CS Lewis)

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Topher wrote:

Topher wrote:


But Jesus was born in Bethlehem, right? He just grew up in Nazareth (untill he left altogether).

 

Well, that's what the gospels try to tell us to get their Messiah off the hook. Except they manage to trip each other up by telling two totally contradictory stories about how this Galilean was actually a Judean by birth. Matthew says his parents lived in Bethlehem originally, but only fled (first to Egypt, then to Nazareth) to escape Herod. Luke sets his story ten years later, doesn't mention Herod (who'd been dead for a decade anyway) and has Jesus' parents going to Bethlehem for the census of Publius Sulpicius Quirinius; just long enough for Jesus to be conveniently born there.

 

Both stories are riddled with historical problems (another of Herod's sons ruled Galilee, so why would settling in Nazareth get away from Herod's family? Why would Quirinius' census require Joseph to go to Bethlehem?) But the problem is that if Matthew's is true then Luke's has to be false and vice versa.

 

It's pretty clear that both are false and are separate (contradictory) attempts at solving the same problem - how to give Jesus, the Galilean from Nazareth, the Bethlehem birth he never had so he fulfills this key requirement for Messiah status.

 

So, if Jesus was a figment of fiction, why create this problem by having him come from Nazareth in the first place? Nazareth had zero significance of any kind, so why the hell is it in the story; especially considering it caused such a problem? Why not just create a Jesus from Bethlehem and save all the trouble?

 

The obvious answer is that it's there because the historical Yeshua WAS from Nazareth and was well known to have been a Galilean. The Jesus Mythers, on the other hand, have no answer to this question. Well, apart from the ones who try to pretend Nazareth never existed, but they are a total joke. The Israel Antiquity Authority and the Maurice Greenberg Centre for Judaic Studies are conducting digs on First Century sites in Nazareth right now.

 

So the fact that Jesus is "Jesus of Nazareth" is a major fly in the Jesus Myth ointment.

 

Cassiopeia wrote:

Several sects of early christianity themselves argued over the historicity of Jesus themselves. No one then could prove it as you fail to here.

 

They did?!  This is remarkable news!  Can you detail which sects these were and give some examples of their arguments against the historicity of Jesus? Note - be careful you aren't confusing arguments over the nature of Jesus with arguments over his historicity.  Evidence of the former won't be accepted as evidence of the latter and attempts to present it as such might attract some naughty sarcasm about weak, badly researched arguments.

 

Over to you. Wink

 

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So, if Jesus was a figment

So, if Jesus was a figment of fiction, why create this problem by having him come from Nazareth in the first place? Nazareth had zero significance of any kind, so why the hell is it in the story; especially considering it caused such a problem? Why not just create a Jesus from Bethlehem and save all the trouble?

 

One suggestion would be that the Greek-speaking authors of the Gospels mistakenly believed "He will be a called Nazirite" (I think that's from Judges 13 referring to Sampson) for "He will be called a Nazarene. Mt. 2:22.   To catch all the references they could think of, Jesus needed to be from Bethlehem, out of Egypt, and a Nazirite.  They confused  Nazirite and Nazarene, just as they mistakely thought Isaiah said that a virgin would give birth to a child Isa. 7:14 (the Hebrew is young woman, but the Greek Septuagint version said virgin and apparently the authors of some of the Gospels relied on the Septuagint.

So the reason they made up that Jesus and his family moved to Nazareth was to fulfil another prophesy.  That it was a prophesy that wasn't actually made is irrelevant since the scripturally semi-literate authors of the Gospels thought there was a prophesy about a Nazarene.  It wasn't a pointless fabrication.


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Thandarr wrote: So, if

Thandarr wrote:

So, if Jesus was a figment of fiction, why create this problem by having him come from Nazareth in the first place? Nazareth had zero significance of any kind, so why the hell is it in the story; especially considering it caused such a problem? Why not just create a Jesus from Bethlehem and save all the trouble?

 

One suggestion would be that the Greek-speaking authors of the Gospels mistakenly believed "He will be a called Nazirite" (I think that's from Judges 13 referring to Sampson) for "He will be called a Nazarene. Mt. 2:22. To catch all the references they could think of, Jesus needed to be from Bethlehem, out of Egypt, and a Nazirite. They confused Nazirite and Nazarene, just as they mistakely thought Isaiah said that a virgin would give birth to a child Isa. 7:14 (the Hebrew is young woman, but the Greek Septuagint version said virgin and apparently the authors of some of the Gospels relied on the Septuagint.

So the reason they made up that Jesus and his family moved to Nazareth was to fulfil another prophesy. That it was a prophesy that wasn't actually made is irrelevant since the scripturally semi-literate authors of the Gospels thought there was a prophesy about a Nazarene. It wasn't a pointless fabrication.

Sounds reasonable. I've said similar things in the past.

The gospel writers needed to provide a human backstory for the Christ concept Paul built (they had his work for a decade +). They found a rabbi named yeshua to pattern their guy and worked backwards through the OT to make him Messiah.

No proof - just my conjecture 

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Christos wrote: To prove

Christos wrote:
To prove your claim Cassio, you would need to demonstrate where the authentic teaching of Jesus can be found in other religious traditions. Before you respond with the moronic, "Lots of religions have the golden rule," I'm talking about all the authentic aphorisms and parables. So go and look. I can wait to hear what kind of crap you make up.

 Dude, relax. There is simply no need to be so hostile my friend. And such accusations that I would make things up are baseless. Let us not get off on such a bad foot, ok?

1. I never said "lot's of religions have the golden rule." As actually all the other religions golden rules that I have come across speak not in the positive sense that Jesus did. (Do unto others) But rather the negative sense. (don't do) So let us avoid assumptions before the discussion begins, cool my friend?

2. On a personal note, for someone whom isn't a christian, it would appear my words struck a nerve, no?

3. I find it odd that you insist I prove my claims about redaction without coming anywhere close to proving an historical Jesus. Unless you ignore any refutations made on said subject, to which I wouldn't assume so my friend.

4. If you can display a level of decency towards me, whatever the opinion expressed, then I will respond in kind. Until then, based on the evidence of your reply to me riddled with presupposistion on my character, we will not be exchanging ideas. So far, however, I fail to see the loss in that.

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Ahura Mazda-(I wonder what

Ahura Mazda-(I wonder what that means)

I get what your saying and feel I should have better clarified. As an example the apostle Paul, formerly Saul, never places Jesus or the events in his life(to which Paul himself was only aware of a few like the crucifiction) as happening on earth. Instead he places them in another realm like many other savior gods of the time. 

I would agree he argument between early Gnostic, Marcionities, adoptionist christians, to name a few, were much more so about the nature and not history of Jesus. In hindsight I should have clarified my statement. I failed to elaborate and must admit I may have fallen prey to an over eager attempt to make to many points while economizing a bit much. 

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Christos wrote:

Christos wrote:

To get you started, explain "Blessed be the poor," found in Q (Matt 5:3, Luke 6:20), and Thomas 54.

You realize that buddhist monks take a vow of poverty, right?


Quote:

Next you can explain Emperor and God in Mark 12:17b, Thomas 100:2b, Luke 20:25b, Matt 22:21c.

Finally, explain the mustard seed in Thomas 20:2-4, Mark 4:30-32, Luke 13:18-19, Matt 13:31-32.

Remember, your challenge is to show where these sayings or parables can be found in other religious traditions. If you can figure these out, I've got 88 more.

 Do you really think these stories/points are original to christianity?

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If the stories were found

If the stories were found in other religions, it would just beg the question of did Christianity steal from them, or did they steal form Christianity?

 


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Cpt_pineapple wrote: If

Cpt_pineapple wrote:

If the stories were found in other religions, it would just beg the question of did Christianity steal from them, or did they steal form Christianity?

 

That question would be answerable: we'd merely see which story predated which, and we know that the buddhists were around long before christianity.

 

To, me, the best defense for a christian would be to argue "of course some of these ideas existed prior to christianity: truth is truth, and the important ones will be discovered and rediscovered everywhere".

 

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todangst wrote:

todangst wrote:
You realize that buddhist monks take a vow of poverty, right?

Plus, the verse says "blessed are the poor in spirit" . Is that the same as living in poverty? What does it mean to be poor in spirit, anyway?

Götter sind für Arten, die sich selbst verraten -- in den Glauben flüchten um sich hinzurichten. Menschen brauchen Götter um sich zu verletzen, um sich zu vernichten -- das sind wir.


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JeremiahSmith

JeremiahSmith wrote:

todangst wrote:
You realize that buddhist monks take a vow of poverty, right?

Plus, the verse says "blessed are the poor in spirit" . Is that the same as living in poverty? What does it mean to be poor in spirit, anyway?

It means atheists are blessed.Wink

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Cassiopeia wrote:  Dude,

Cassiopeia wrote:

 Dude, relax. There is simply no need to be so hostile my friend. And such accusations that I would make things up are baseless. Let us not get off on such a bad foot, ok?

1. I never said "lot's of religions have the golden rule." As actually all the other religions golden rules that I have come across speak not in the positive sense that Jesus did. (Do unto others) But rather the negative sense. (don't do) So let us avoid assumptions before the discussion begins, cool my friend?

2. On a personal note, for someone whom isn't a christian, it would appear my words struck a nerve, no?

3. I find it odd that you insist I prove my claims about redaction without coming anywhere close to proving an historical Jesus. Unless you ignore any refutations made on said subject, to which I wouldn't assume so my friend.

4. If you can display a level of decency towards me, whatever the opinion expressed, then I will respond in kind. Until then, based on the evidence of your reply to me riddled with presupposistion on my character, we will not be exchanging ideas. So far, however, I fail to see the loss in that.

Oh Cassio, I'm so sorry that I hurt you feelings. Why don't you accept the challenge I gave to you rather than whine about my sarcasm. I am not a Christian, I just think the idea that Jesus of Nazareth was 100% myth is ridiculous.

 

"A man can no more diminish God's glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word, 'darkness' on the walls of his cell." (CS Lewis)

"A young man who wishes to remain a sound atheist cannot be too careful of his reading." (CS Lewis)


Ahura Mazda
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Thandarr wrote: One

Thandarr wrote:
One suggestion would be that the Greek-speaking authors of the Gospels mistakenly believed "He will be a called Nazirite" (I think that's from Judges 13 referring to Sampson) for "He will be called a Nazarene. Mt. 2:22. To catch all the references they could think of, Jesus needed to be from Bethlehem, out of Egypt, and a Nazirite. They confused Nazirite and Nazarene, just as they mistakely thought Isaiah said that a virgin would give birth to a child Isa. 7:14 (the Hebrew is young woman, but the Greek Septuagint version said virgin and apparently the authors of some of the Gospels relied on the Septuagint.

 

Yes, but the problem with that suggestion is that, unlike Is 7:14, Judges 13:7 was never considered a prophecy about the Messiah, nor were there any prophecies about the Messiah being a Nazarite ascetic. The idea that they would introduce a bungled “fulfillment” of Judges 13:7 – a verse with no Messianic associations or traditions – despite the considerable difficulties it caused for the far more important prophecy about the Messiah’s birth in Bethlehem – a key Messianic prophecy – stretches reasonable credulity.

 

So does the idea that this “misunderstanding” of Judges 13:7 was the sole reason Nazareth appears in the story at all. It’s not as though it’s simply a town that gets mentioned once or twice: it appears in the story over and over again. Not only is he referred to as being “Jesus of Nazareth”, but his Nazarean origins are shown as being a impediment to his acceptance (John 1:46) and his opponents are shown as being sceptical about any supposed Messiah who comes from Nazareth (John 7:41-43). He’s depicted as being booted out of the synagogue gathering there and being unable to perform miracles there. For a small town of no standing and no Messianic associations, that’s a hell of a major role for it to play based on nothing but a wildly mis-understood non-Messianic OT reference.

 

So, sorry, but that suggestion really doesn’t hold water. It’s simply another example of a contrived Jesus Myther argument that begins by assuming its own conclusion and then triumphantly ends up back where it began.

 

Cassiopeia wrote:
Ahura Mazda-(I wonder what that means)

 

Wonder no more.

 

Quote:
I get what your saying and feel I should have better clarified. As an example the apostle Paul, formerly Saul, never places Jesus or the events in his life(to which Paul himself was only aware of a few like the crucifiction) as happening on earth. Instead he places them in another realm like many other savior gods of the time.

 

Er, so Doherty claims, using some convoluted and highly contrived arguments to explain away the passages in Paul where he does depict Jesus as being an historical person who had existed here in the physical realm. They are arguments that no scholar on the planet takes seriously – simply because this supposed “spiritual Jesus” form of Christianity doesn’t exist outside of Doherty’s imagination.

There is no reference to it in any of the Patristic writings, despite them at least mentioning all kinds of variant “heretical” forms of Christianity that they disagreed with. In fact, there’s no reference to it anywhere, by anyone at all. None. Jewish and pagan opponents don’t mention it and don’t use it as a stick with which to beat Christianity, despite the fact the knowledge that the earliest form of the new faith never taught Jesus was a real person would have been a devastating argument in their hands.

 

In fact, everyone seems to have totally forgotten that this earliest form of Christianity ever existed and it somehow managed to vanish without leaving the faintest trace. Until Doherty came unto us to "find" this otherwise totally lost original form of Christianity in the writings of Paul.

 

The facts that (i) there is no evidence that this early form or Christianity ever existed outside of Doherty’s inventive re-interpretations and (ii) those re-interpretations are highly contrived and rely on some dizzyingly circular logic are the main reasons Doherty’s thesis has failed to convince anyone much and no-one at all in the academic sphere.

 

Quote:
I would agree he argument between early Gnostic, Marcionities, adoptionist christians, to name a few, were much more so about the nature and not history of Jesus. In hindsight I should have clarified my statement. I failed to elaborate and must admit I may have fallen prey to an over eager attempt to make to many points while economizing a bit much.

 

Okay, but none of those sects denied that Jesus existed in the physical world. They differed widely on who or what that real-world Jesus was or in what sense he himself was spiritual and/or physical, but they were in no disagreement about the fact that he had been here in the physical world at a specific point in time. If there had been any such variant sects then Doherty’s thesis would have some weight. Without such evidential support his thesis remains a lengthy and elaborate game of “play with the interpretations until they fit my fantasy thesis”.

The reason post-graduate students have thesis supervisors is they smack the habit of trying to force the evidence to fit the student’s bright and shiny idea out of their heads. As my supervisor used to say to me years ago, “If you find you need a hammer to get the evidence to fit your hypothesis, perhaps you need a new hypothesis.” The silly Holy Blood Holy Grail/”I have found the Ark of the Covenant”/”Jesus Was a Yeti” section of the bookshop has shelves groaning with kooky books where the authors came up with a wild idea and then merrily trimmed, hammered and bashed the evidence to fit it.

That might be a way to write a sensationalist pseudo historical pulp potboiler (or a Dan Brown novel), but it ain’t the way to do real scholarship.

 

The "Wise Old Atheist" says: They decided to invent a god and came up with one who looked like a peasant preacher from Galilee?! Were they on crack?


Cassiopeia
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Christos- If my feelings

Christos- Thank you for the apology. Your such a nice young man.

Ahurza Mazada- I can't say I fully agree with your opinion yet, but will look into it further without contention. 

I suck at signatures.


Thandarr
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Nice try, but . .

You are assuming that the creators of the Jesus story were skilled sciriptural scholars.  I am not.  Mark begins his gospel with a botched reference to Isaiah.  There's the "virgin" example I gave you.  Mark also screwed up the commandments ("Do not defraud&quotEye-wink.  They weren't all that good.  I think they may have made up a lot of things in misguided attempts to match up with scripture.  If Matthew is not talking about Judges 13, then what is he talking about when he says that Jesus was fulfilling prophesy that the messiah would be a nazarene/nazirite?

Granted, the N.T. frequently says that various things appear in scripture that don't.  

There are a lot of embarrassing Nazareth references in the Bible.  Jn. 7:52.  The whole Jesus couldn't do miracles there story.  A better creative solution was probably to just leave Jesus as a Bethlehemite, but that wasn't what the authors did.  

 I don't really have any conclusions about  the  Bible except that it's far too  convoluted, contradictory, and otherwise inept to be the inspired word of a god qualified to make the universe.  I really think that as to most biblical puzzles the only true answer is--from the old standardized tests--"it cannot be determined from the information given."

Sure it is possible that there was a wandering Jesus fellow.  Sure, he may have even been from Nazareth.  The idea that there was a single real life figure around whom the major elements of the Jesus story were written is, to me, as yet unsupported by convincing evidence.

I do suggest, however, that you risk error by giving too much credence to the authors of the Gospels on any point whatsoever.