A Silence That Screams - (No contemporary historical accounts for "jesus)

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- 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It may surprise Christians to learn that there are no contemporary historical documents for 'Jesus, the Christ'.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 contemporary 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 a form of '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. One cannot hold, at the same time, that the Gospels are true eyewitness accounts of actual events, AND that the Jesus figure in those works would not attract the attention of men like Philo, Pliny or Seneca. It's an absurd contradiction.

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 from the list, there remain people on his list who should have noticed, and their silence is glaring. And we need not even have direct physical evidence of a contemporary account - even just the evidence of a provenance between a later account and an earlier, no longer existent, contemporary source would suffice. Yet nothing exists at all to point to a real Jesus.

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 resurrection. 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 the Jesus described in the book of Mark. Those who argue that Philo would have merely ignored a crowd drawing, miracle working godman because he could not have conceived of the 'logos' in human form merely beg the question that Philo's position would never change, even in the face of negating evidence!

Philo never reports ever seeing the godman represented in the Gospels. His silence is glaring. And Philo may well have even provided us with 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

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. The typical apologist response is that Pliny would not have taken interest in a backwater preacher, but given the claims given in the Gospels concerning the purported life of Jesus, it is glaringly obvious that Pliny would have either seen, heard of, or at least investigated events as incredible as those reported in the book of Mark; yet not a word of these putative events is alluded to in his work.

Pliny also provides us with a direct refutation of the Gospel claims of earthquakes and eclipses (i.e. such as those found in Matthew). 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.

After Philo, Seneca the Younger and Pliny the Elder one of the most damning omissions would be in the works of Josephus and Tacitus.

Josephus (37-100 AD) . Theists may be surprised to see this name on the list, and the inclusion is debatable, but read on.

Josephus was not a contemporary and could not have been a first hand eyewitness of "Jesus", however, as a Jewish historian who focused on Jewish history and religion, he would have been greatly interested in the appearance of the Jewish Messiah. Josephus wrote The Antiquities of the Jews, See his works here: http://reluctant-messenger.com/josephus.htm This is a work that focused on Jewish history from "Adam" to Josephus' time. Yet, while Josephus devotes a good deal of time and space to John the Baptist (Note, the claim that he actually writes about John the Baptist is controversial) and other historical figures mentioned in the Gospels (He gives a detailed account of Pontius Pilate in The Jewish Wars, http://www.inu.net/skeptic/gospels.html) he does not appear to have actually written anything at all concerning the life of Jesus the Christ! This is 'damning' considering that we would expect that the appearance of the Jewish Messiah ought to have dominated a work dedicated to Jewish history.

Furthermore, Josephus was interested both in the concept of resurrection, as well as in the histories of various Jewish sects which a real Jesus would have either 1) been a member of or 2) have had substantial discourse with. How could a man with these experiences, and with these interests, not have dedicated volumes to "Jesus" if there were any reason to believe such a messiah existed?

Josephus writes:

"When I was sixteen years old, I decided to get experience with the various sects that are among us. These are three: as we have said many times, the first, that of the Pharisees, the second that of the Saduccees, the third, that of the Essenes. For I thought that in this way I would choose best, if I carefully examined them all. Therefore, submitting myself to strict training, I passed through the three groups."
(Life, 1.2, 10-11)

Now we have a man with a keen historical interest in Judaism, combing this interest with a wealth of first hand experience concerning the very groups Jesus would have been numbered amongst, who doesn't mention a word about Jesus! Josephus is also known to have recorded the term in office of Joseph, son of Caiaphas, the very same Caiaphas whom the Gospels claim organized the plot to kill Jesus. Yet nothing in his report on Caiaphas alludes to such an event.


For this very reason, the claim that Josephus never mentions a Jesus the Christ was a concern for early Christians. Therefore, it is no surprise that a later interpolation of a reference to Jesus the Christ appears in the Antiquities. The infamous "Testimonium Flavium" appears to have been inserted into the Antiquities about the time of the 4th century. A key proof for this comes from the fact that while early Christians cited Josephus, none of them ever cited the Testimonium, even in situations where they were striving to provide historical proof for Jesus (i.e. in debates with Jewish scholars):

* Justin Martyr (circa C.E. 100-165) never once quoted the passage -- even in the face of charges that Christians had "invented some sort of Christ for themselves" and that they had accepted "a futile rumor" (Dialogue with Trypho 8; circa C.E. 135).
* Clement of Alexandria (ca. 192) - familiar with the works of Josephus
* Tertullian (ca. 193) - familiar with the works of Josephus
* Origen (circa C.E. 185-254), who in his own writings relies extensively upon the works of Josephus, does not mention this passage or any other passage in Josephus that mentions Christ. Not even when he is in dialogue against Celsus' accusations!
* Jerome (circa C.E. 347-420) cites Josephus 90 times, but never once cites the Testimonium.
(citation: Lost and Hostile Gospels, Rev. Sabine Baring-Gould)

Logic itself tells us that had Josephus written the Testimonium, he would have written more than 3 lines concerning the existence of the Jewish Messiah in a book dedicated to Jewish History! You can't mention the Jewish messiah in passing in a book dedicated to a history of Judaism. You might as well write a book called "The Solar System" without mentioning the sun, expect in a footnote on page 474. 

Remsberg writes on this point poignantly:

"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.

It's brevity in fact points to interpolation:

Richard Carrier writes:

"An expert on manuscripts would know the problem here: scrolls have a fixed length. Each book of a work usually had to be no larger than would fit on one scroll, and certainly it was problematic for a copyist to break the pattern and use more scrolls than his source text (it would throw off everything, and make consulting the work a nightmare for any reader). This fact argues in favor of interpolation. If the material came from Josephus, he could have written more about such a topic (surely, since as we now have it, it is a marvelous digression indeed to warrant so slight a coverage), and just ended the whole book sooner, thus creating no problem. But if the material was added by a later editor, there would have been very little space to work with: so the addition had to be short, short enough to prevent the whole book from exceeding a standard scroll's length. (The interpolation was perhaps made by the 4th century Christian librarian Eusebius: see Kirby's "The Testimonium Flavianum&quotEye-wink."
- http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/richard_carrier/jesuspuzzle.html#...

Logic also provides us with yet another powerful clue as to the falsity of the Testimonium: Josephus lived and died a Jew, never converting to Christianity. Even a Christian apologist, normally at home with warping logic well past its breaking point, ought to find it difficult to reconcile the claim that Josephus had any substantial evidence of Jesus as the Messiah with the fact that he never converted to Christianity. How could Josephus have good evidence for the existence of a messiah, and yet, at the same time, die a Jew?

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 along 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.

Lowder writes:

"There are many scholars who believe the original text contained an authentic reference to Jesus but was later embellished by Christian copyists. I have italicized the sections widely regarded as interpolations":

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.

Lowder continues:

"If the original passage contained only the non-italicized 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."

Lowder states that this may explain why no early christian cited the Testimonium: because it did nothing to support the existence of Jesus as Jesus the Christ.

(Lowder's original article: http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/jeff_lowder/mckinsey.html)

The two most plausible explanations for the Testimonium: that it is either entirely or partially a fraud, both create a serious problem for the christian.

If the Testimonium is a complete fiction, it leaves the christian without any historical corroboration from Josephus.

If it is a tampered document, it shows that there is a non contemporary account of Jesus, one who may even meet one of the criteria mentioned in Mark (drawing crowds). But it indicates that Josephus did not consider this Jesus to be anything more than a revered teacher - literally noteworthy - but hardly the wonder worker of the book of Mark, a fact that embarrassed early christians to the point that they 1) ignored the passage for centuries, even while citing Josephus elsewhere and 2) later saw fit to deceptively alter the passage.

It should also be noted that some argue that Antiquities section 20.9 makes an indirect reference to Jesus. This claim is examined here: http://www.atheistnetwork.com/viewtopic.php?p=38864&sid=eae887916e8679c9...
and also here: http://www.inu.net/skeptic/gospels.html There is good reason to believe that the reference to a "Jesus' here is actually a reference to Jesus, son of Damneus that has been tampered with by later christians, and not an actual reference to 'Jesus, son of Joseph', although Origen does cite this passage as historical evidence for Jesus. And again, the same point remains: the idea that a historian would mention the Messiah in passing while discussing an issue of minor relevance (and not elsewhere) staggers reason itself.

Tacitus (ca. 56 – ca. 117)

Tacitus is remembered first and foremost as Rome's greatest historian. His two surviving works: Annals and The Histories form a near continuous narrative from the death of Augustus in 14 CE to the death of Domitian in 96.

Interestingly, I cannot report on the silence of Tacitus concerning Jesus, because the very years of the purported existence of Jesus 30, 31, are suspiciously missing from his work(!)

Richard Carrier writes:

"...we are enormously lucky to have Tacitus--only two unrelated Christian monasteries had any interest in preserving his Annals, for example, and neither of them preserved the whole thing, but each less than half of it, and by shear luck alone, they each preserved a different half. And yet we still have large gaps in it. One of those gaps is the removal of the years 29, 30, and 31 (precisely, the latter part of 29, all of 30, and the earlier part of 31), which is probably the deliberate excision of Christian scribes who were embarrassed by the lack of any mention of Jesus or Gospel events in those years (the years Jesus' ministry, death, and resurrection were widely believed at the time to have occurred). There is otherwise no known explanation for why those three years were removed. The other large gap is the material between the two halves that neither institution preserved. And yet another is the end of the second half, which scribes also chose not to preserve (or lost through negligent care of the manuscript, etc.)."

Ironically, Christians often cite Tacitus as historical evidence for Jesus.

This is the passage cited:

But neither the aid of man, nor the liberality of the prince, nor the propitiations of the gods succeeded in destroying the belief that the fire had been purposely lit. In order to put an end to this rumor, therefore, Nero laid the blame on and visited with severe punishment those men, hateful for their crimes, whom the people called Christians. He from whom the name was derived, Christus, was put to death by the procurator Pontius Pilate in the reign of Tiberius. But the pernicious superstition, checked for a moment, broke out again, not only in Judea, the native land of the monstrosity, but also in Rome, to which all conceivable horrors and abominations flow from every side, and find supporters. First, therefore, those were arrested who openly confessed; then, on their information, a great number, who were not so much convicted of the fire as of hatred of the human race. Ridicule was passed on them as they died; so that, clothed in skins of beasts, they were torn to pieces by dogs, or crucified, or committed to the flames, and when the sun had gone down they were burned to light up the night. Nero had lent his garden for this spectacle, and gave games in the Circus, mixing with the people in the dress of a charioteer or standing in the chariot. Hence there was a strong sympathy for them, though they might have been guilty enough to deserve the severest punishment, on the ground that they were sacrificed, not to the general good, but to the cruelty of one man." (Annals XV, 44)

However, there are serious problems with using this passage as independent corroboration of Jesus:

Jeffery Jay Lowder states:

"There is no good reason to believe that Tacitus conducted independent research concerning the historicity of Jesus. The context of the reference was simply to explain the origin of the term "Christians," which was in turn made in the context of documenting Nero's vices..."

It is not just 'Christ-mythicists' who deny that Tacitus provides independent confirmation of the historicity of Jesus; indeed, there are numerous Christian scholars who do the same! For example, France writes, Annals XV.44 "cannot carry alone the weight of the role of 'independent testimony' with which it has often been invested." E.P. Sanders notes, "Roman sources that mention [Jesus] are all dependent on Christian reports." And William Lane Craig states that Tacitus' statement is "no doubt dependent on Christian tradition."
- Jeffery Jay Lowder, "Evidence" for Jesus, Is It Reliable?
http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/jeff_lowder/jury/chap5.html

So it may simply be that Tacitus was relying on oral tradition, and not on any historical research for his reference to Jesus. Tacitus himself tells us about the value of such traditions:

"...everything gets exaggerated is typical for any story" and "all the greatest events are obscure--while some people accept whatever they hear as beyond doubt, others twist the truth into its opposite, and both errors grow over subsequent generations" (Annals 3.44 & 3.19). (Cited via Carrier's article)

As weak as the Tacitus claim is, it remains a possibility that even this weak bit of apparent corroboration is a later interpolation. The problems with this claim are examined here:

http://www.atheistnetwork.com/viewtopic.php?p=38864&sid=eae887916e8679c9...

Some of these problems are summarized by Gordon Stein:

"While we know from the way in which the above is written that Tacitus did not claim to have firsthand knowledge of the origins of Christianity, we can see that he is repeating a story which was then commonly believed, namely that the founder of Christianity, one Christus, had been put to death under Tiberius. There are a number of serious difficulties which must be answered before this passage can be accepted as genuine. There is no other historical proof that Nero persecuted the Christians at all. There certainly were not multitudes of Christians in Rome at that date (circa 60 A.D.). In fact, the term "Christian" was not in common use in the first century. We know Nero was indifferent to various religions in his city, and, since he almost definitely did not start the fire in Rome, he did not need any group to be his scapegoat. Tacitus does not use the name Jesus, and writes as if the reader would know the name Pontius Pilate, two things which show that Tacitus was not working from official records or writing for non-Christian audiences, both of which we would expect him to have done if the passage were genuine.

Perhaps most damning to the authenticity of this passage is the fact that it is present almost word-for-word in the Chronicle of Sulpicius Severus (died in 403 A.D.), where it is mixed in with obviously false tales. At the same time, it is highly unlikely that Sulpicius could have copied this passage from Tacitus, as none of his contemporaries mention the passage. This means that it was probably not in the Tacitus manuscripts at that date. It is much more likely, then, that copyists working in the Dark Ages from the only existing manuscript of the Chronicle, simply copied the passage from Sulpicius into the manuscript of Tacitus which they were reproducing."
- The Jesus of History: A Reply to Josh McDowell
Gordon Stein, Ph.D. http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/gordon_stein/jesus.shtml

Supporting Stein's claim is that, as with the Testimonium, there is no provenance for the passage: No early Christian writer uses Tacitus' passage in their apologetics, even when discussing Christian persecution by Nero:

* Tertullian (ca. 155–230)
* Lactantius (ca. 240 - ca. 320)
* Sulpicius Severus (c. 360 – 425)
* Eusebius (ca. 275 – 339)
* Augustine of Hippo (354 – 430)

However, the key point here is that Tacitus did in fact write a thorough history of the purported times of Jesus and his ministry, and while this work is lost to us, Tacitus never makes any cross reference to it during his discussion of christians and Nero nor at any other point in his surviving works.

Plutarch (ca. 46 - 127) again, was not a contemporary, he wrote about the same time as Josephus, about contemporary Roman figures, oracles, prophesies, and moral, religious, and spiritual issues. A figure such as Jesus, whom the Gospels portray as interacting with Roman figures, making prophecies, and giving sermons on novel religious and spiritual issues to throngs of people, would have been of great interest to him. Yet we cannot find even a word about "Jesus" from Plutarch.

Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus (ca. 69 - 130)

Suetonius was not a contemporary of the purported time of Jesus. However, since some theists cite Suetonius as independent corroboration of Jesus, I will discuss him here.

Jeffery Jay Lowder writes:

"Suetonius, the Roman historian and biographer formerly known as Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus, wrote several works, including his Lives of the Twelve Caesars, which is an account of the lives of the first twelve Roman emperors. In his Life of Claudius, he writes:

As the Jews were making constant disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus, he expelled them from Rome."

Lowder continues:

The claim that 'Chrestus' is a misspelling of 'Christus' "can never be more than a guess, and the fact that Suetonius can elsewhere speak of 'Christians' as members of a new cult (without any reference to Jews) surely makes it rather unlikely that he could make such a mistake
- Jeffery Jay Lowder http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/jeff_lowder/jury/chap5.html

"Chrestus" means 'The Good" in Greek, while "Christus" means "The Messiah." Actually, Chrestus was not an uncommon name in ancient Rome. Since Jesus was admittedly not in Rome instigating the Jews, we are almost definitely talking about someone other than Jesus here. I should mention that the entire relevant quotation from Suetonius which is involved here reads as follows: "As the Jews were making constant disturbances at the instigation of one Chrestus, he expelled them from Rome." The "he" is Claudius. As just mentioned, not even McDowell claims that Jesus was at Rome in 55 AD, when this incident is alleged to have occurred. It is also difficult to see why Jews would be led by Jesus. That is pretty strong evidence that this passage does not refer to Jesus of Nazareth at all, and so is irrelevant to our discussion of whether Jesus ever lived. We can, however, add the lack of a mention of Jesus in Suetonius to our list of "negative" evidence for the existence of Jesus as an historical person. The reference in Suetonius is Life of the Caesars (Claudius 25:4).

- The Jesus of History: A Reply to Josh McDowell
Gordon Stein, Ph.D. http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/gordon_stein/jesus.shtml

Justus of Tiberius ( ? - 95 ?) Remsberg states that "Justus was a native of Christ's own country, Galilee. He was a contemporary and rival of Josephus. He wrote a history of Jewish people Kings (who the gospels state Jesus had interactions with) covering the time of Christ's reputed existence. This work perished, but Photius, a Christian scholar and critic of the 9th century, was acquainted with it said:

'I have read the chronology of Justus of Tiberias ... and being under the Jewish prejudices, as indeed he was himself also a Jew by birth. He makes not the least mention of the appearance of Christ, of what things happened to him, or of the wonderful works that he did." (– Photius, Patriarch of Constantinople, Bibliotheca, Code 33)."

Dio Chrysostom (c. 40–c. 120) was a Greek orator, writer, philosopher and historian of the Roman Empire in the first century. Eighty of his Discourses remain in existence. While Chrysostom was not a contemporary of Jesus' purported time (He was a contemporary of Plutarch, Tacitus and Pliny the Younger) he was both a historian and a person with great interest in moral matters. His philosophy has been considered a moral parallel to that of Paul of Tarsus and indicates that the early Greek Christians drew upon the Cynic and Stoic philosophies when developing their Christian faith. So we again have an early writer who certainly would have had interest in Jesus as Mark or any of the other Gospels, present him.

Epictetus (55-130) Again, the Stoic philosopher Epictetus was not born until sometime after the purported time of Jesus, however, his silence remains noteworthy. A translator of Epictetus, Elizabeth Carter, was baffled that he was not a Christian. “There are so many of the sentiments and expressions of Christianity in it, that one should be strongly tempted to think that Epictetus was acquainted with the New Testament,..” [p. xxii] Well, he was not and never even so much as mentions Christians in passing. He lived in Rome and as a slave to Epaphroditus, a senior member of Nero’s government would have known of the fire and the Christian sacrifice in the aftermath. However, all he has to say about Nero is his persecution of some good men who refused to attend his performances.

They all should have noticed. It appears that none did.

All that is left is to sum things up. The historian Edward Gibbons writes:

"But how shall we excuse the supine inattention of the Pagan and philosophic world, to those evidences which were represented by the hand of Omnipotence, not to their reason, but to their senses? During the age of Christ, of his apostles, and of their first disciples, the doctrine which they preached was confirmed by innumerable prodigies. The lame walked, the blind saw, the sick were healed, the dead were raised, demons were expelled, and the laws of Nature were frequently suspended for the benefit of the church. But the sages of Greece and Rome turned aside from the awful spectacle, and, pursuing the ordinary occupations of life and study, appeared unconscious of any alterations in the moral or physical government of the world. Under the reign of Tiberius, the whole earth, or at least a celebrated province of the Roman empire, was involved in a preternatural darkness of three hours. Even this miraculous event, which ought to have excited the wonder, the curiosity, and the devotion of mankind, passed without notice in an age of science and history. It happened during the lifetime of Seneca and the elder Pliny, who must have experienced the immediate effects, or received the earliest intelligence of the prodigy. Each of these philosophers, in a laborious work, has recorded all the great phenomena of Nature, earthquakes, meteors comets, and eclipses, which his indefatigable curiosity could collect. Both the one and the other have omitted to mention the greatest phenomenon to which the mortal eye has been witness since the creation of the globe" (Rome, Vol. I, pp. 588-590).

Could the most amazing event ever go unnoticed? Only the intellectual dishonest can answer with a "yes".

Addendum:

Let's now consider a person who 'does' 'notice' Jesus:

St. Paul of Tsarus. (10-67)

As Franc Tremblay writes:

"Such a deafening silence on the existence of any other historical figures would be extremely suspicious. In the case of an earth-shaking messiah who raised the dead and fed the multitudes, clearly we should find masses of testimonies and evidence, but we find none. It is clearly an argument for the non-existence of Jesus. But the clinching evidence is that even Christian leaders considered Jesus purely as a mythical figure and did not know anything about his life":

Indeed. And just to demonstrate how sparse in details early writings on Jesus are:

"In the first half century of Christian correspondence, including letters attributed to Paul and other epistles under names like Peter, James and John, the Gospel story cannot be found. When these writers speak of their divine Christ, echoes of Jesus of Nazareth are virtually inaudible, including details of a life and ministry, the circumstances of his death, the attribution of any teachings to him. God himself is often identified as the source of Christian ethics. No one speaks of miracles performed by Jesus, his apocalyptic predictions, his views on any of the great issues of the time. The very fact that he preached in person is never mentioned, his appointment of apostles or his directive to carry the message to the nations of the world is never appealed to. No one looks back to Jesus’ life and ministry as the genesis of the Christian movement, or as the pivot point of salvation history."

- The Jesus Puzzle, by Earl Doherty (Journal of Higher Criticism, Fall 1997)

Ironically, though supposedly in Jerusalem at the right time, he can give no witness to a historical Jesus.
- Jesusneverexisted.com by Kenneth Humprehys,

Then we must consider the basis for the earliest known claims for Jesus are based not on eyewitness accounts, but on a vision:

But the truth is, "after Jesus rose from the dead" our earliest and only eyewitness report says he only spoke "in a revelation" and not in "flesh and blood" (Gal. 1:11-12, 1:15-16). In other words, it was a subjective experience in the mind of the believer that Jesus was speaking to him. We know there are many other causes of such an experience besides an actual spirit of a deceased person contacting us, and have never yet confirmed that any such contact can or ever has happened to anyone.
- Richard Carrier, http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/richard_carrier/resurrection/rubi...

So tracing back the claim to its earliest trackable origin, we have a claim based on a vision. Not even Paul is an eyewitness!

As Rook Hawkins writes:

(The only Jesus we have is the Jesus of the Gospels) Jesus... is only the Jesus of Francis of Assisi, and Tertullian, and Augustine.... You just cannot locate a historical Jesus in Gospels. Where is he? Is it when Jesus walks on water in Matthew 15:22-33 or after that when Jesus condemns the Pharisees? Perhaps it is when Jesus hands off his cross to Simon in Mark 15:21? Where is he? Without any actual credible, extrabiblical data to attest to Jesus you are only left with two choices. Either Jesus is the Jesus of the Gospels or he fails to exist on any plane other than that of literary invention.

***********************
For those who wish to respond to this Essay :

First, those who wish to question my argument from Silence, please recognize that my argument not only meets all of the requirements, it actually meets the criteria required for a strengthened Argument from Silence:

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 ought to be clear to even the casual reader that the men I have cited meet both criteria.

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.

The argument presented here meets the two additional criteria.

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

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."

For more on evidential arguments from silence: http://www.umass.edu/wsp/methodology/outline/silence.html

****************************


Now, if you still wish to respond, unless you have entirely new points to raise, please save yourself some time and just post "Number 1" or "Number 2 or "Number 3"

1) No one would have noticed, because "Jesus" was a minor figure.

- This response simply ignores my essay. Reread my opening points on the book of Mark, which demonstrate that the Jesus presented in the Gospels cannot be sanely held to be a figure that anyone could ignore, no matter their pre -xistent beliefs.

Richard Carrier writes:

One could say that Jesus was an insignificant, illiterate, itinerant preacher with a tiny following, who went wholly unnoticed by any literate person in Judaea. However, this would not bode well for anyone who wished to maintain he was God, or did any of the more amazing things attributed to him. It is very implausible, for instance, that a biography would be written for the obscure itinerant philosopher Demonax in his own lifetime (by Lucian), yet God Incarnate, or a Great Miracle Worker who riled up all Judaea with talk, should inspire nothing like it until decades after his death. And though several historians wrote on Judaean affairs in the early 1st century (not just Josephus and Tacitus, but several others no longer extant), none apparently mentioned Jesus (see the Secular Web library on Historicity). Certainly, had anyone done so, the passages would probably have been lovingly preserved by 2nd century Christians, or else inspired angry rebuttals.

For instance, the attacks of Celsus, Hierocles, and Porphyry, though destroyed by Christians and thus no longer extant (another example of the peculiar problem of Christian history discussed above), nevertheless remain attested in the defenses written by Origen, Eusebius, and Macerius Magnes. But no earlier attacks are attested. There is no mention of Christians in Plutarch's attack On Superstition, nor a rebuttal to any attack on Christianity in Seneca's lost work On Superstition (which ruthlessly attacked pagans and Jews, as attested in book 10 of Augustine's City of God), so it seems evident Christians got no mention even there, in a text against alien cults, by a man who would have witnessed the Neronian persecution of 64 A.D. (alternatively, the fact that this is the only work of Seneca's not to be preserved, despite the fact that Christians must surely have been keen to preserve an anti-pagan text by a renowned pagan, might mean it contained some damning anti-Christian material and was suppressed, though Augustine clearly had access to the work and says nothing about such content). All of this suggests a troubling dichotomy for believers: either Jesus was a nobody (and therefore not even special, much less the Son of God) or he did not exist.
- Richard Carrier, http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/richard_carrier/jesuspuzzle.html#...

2) "The people I listed wouldn't care about writing about a god striding the earth in earthly form, attracting throngs of people and working miracles... because they preferred to focus on other things... like philosophy."

Response: Sure, and people dealing with philosophy, the meaning of life, matters of the true nature of existence, would not be interested in a godman striding the earth, working miracles, offering redemption, because such things have nothing to do with the meaning of life...

Please think your argument through. It relies on circular logic when the very conclusion of such an argument is being ruled out in the first place: Had they encountered such a being, it's unlikely that they would have carried on writing about other matters in the first place. The fact that they did focus on other matters works against you, not for you.

3) We would never expect disinterested parties, or outright 'enemies' of Christianity to record it, since it would not serve their purposes.

First, we would expect to hear criticisms and attacks from enemies.

But more importantly, this is circular logic. If the book of Mark, a book that reports epoch shattering events, is a historical account, then how could there be so many disinterested third parties and outright enemies of Christianity in the first place? It is simply begging the question to assume that doubters would remain doubters, even in the face of overwhelming evidence as per the claims of the book of Mark. It is simply backwards logic to argue that doubters would simply remain doubters: the more parsimonious explanation is that these amazing events didn't occur in the first place. This better explains the silence.

As Richard Carrier writes:

"Of course, if the evidence were really so clear, there would not be many enemies in the first place: many leading, literate Jews would have converted, many more than just Paul, and all would have left us letters and documents about their experiences and reasons. But that would fall under the category of eyewitness testimony, of which we have none, except Paul, who of course never testifies to ever meeting Jesus in the flesh, to seeing the empty grave, or to seeing the actual corpse of Jesus rising and talking. In fact, Paul never really says anyone saw these things.

Instead, my category of hostile attestation is distinct from this, for if even those who don't like it or don't believe it nevertheless report it, even if only to denounce or deny it or explain it away, that is itself stronger evidence than we now have. For example, if we had what Matthew claims the Jews were saying in Matthew 28:11-15 from a first-century Jewish writer, that would be hostile attestation.[11] Certainly many Jews would have an interest in publishing such lies or explanations, if in fact Christians were making such claims then, and there really were enough Christians making these claims for anyone to care. Instead, the complete absence of any Jewish texts attacking Christianity in the first century is astonishing--unless Christianity was a socially microscopic cult making unverifiably subjective claims of revelations from God that no one could falsify. Otherwise, ancient authors were not beneath writing tracts slandering other people, and later pagan authors had no scruple against attacking the Christians. So why did no one attack the Christians earlier? There are problems here, surely."

- From "The Rubicon Analogy"

4) "Remsberg was refuted a long time ago."

This essay corrects the flaws in his argument. However, while many have pointed out flaws in Remsberg's original list, his main point still stands: it's ridiculous to claim that a historian or a philosopher wouldn't be interested in mentioning that he saw a god man working miracles. In addition, those who questioned the original list by pointing to authors of questionable merit, critics rarely, if ever bothered to concede the existence of early authors whose works are lost to us, but would have been available to second century Christians.



See also:

The Jesus Puzzle: http://jesuspuzzle.humanists.net/home.htm
by Earl Doherty

Jesus Never Existed: http://www.jesusneverexisted.com/
by Kenneth Humphreys

Did Jesus Exist?: http://www.atheists.org/christianity/didjesusexist.html
by Frank Zindler

The works of Richard Carrier: http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/richard_carrier/

The works of Robert Price: http://www.robertmprice.mindvendor.com/

The works of G. A. Wells: http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/g_a_wells/index.html

http://www.bibleorigins.net/ http://www.christianorigins.com/

And a rare, well reasoned counter position:

Jeffery Jay Lowder
http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/jeff_lowder/jury/chap5.html

Other points to consider:

Imagine the existence of letters by Caiaphas or "Joseph of Arimathea" or "Peter" or Pontius Pilate. A reference from any of these figures would present us with strong evidence for at least a historical Jesus. While it shouldn't surprise us that most historical documents are lost to us, shouldn't it at least arouse our suspicions that no letters exist from any of these men?

"If we had an actual papyrus carbon-dated to the first century containing a letter by Pilate or Peter documenting or detailing any of the key facts surrounding the resurrection claim, that would be physical evidence. If we had an inscription commissioned by Joseph of Arimathea attesting to the fact that he found his tomb empty and that Jesus then appeared to his disciples, that would be physical evidence. If we had a coin issued by Agrippa just a few years later declaring faith in Christ, that would be physical evidence. If the empty tomb acquired miraculous powers as a result of so momentous a miracle there, or if the angels never left but remained there to converse with all who sought to know the truth, so that either fact could be physically confirmed today--so that we could go there now and see these miracles or angels for ourselves--that would be physical evidence.

And

"On the Resurrection, however, no eyewitness wrote anything--not Jesus, not Peter, not Mary, not any of the Twelve, nor any of the Seventy, nor any of the Five Hundred. All we have is Paul, who saw nothing but a "revelation," and who mentions no other kind of experience or evidence being reported by anyone. On the Resurrection, no neutral or hostile witness or contemporary wrote anything--not Joseph, not Caiaphas, not Gamaliel, not Agrippa, not Pilate, not Lysias, not Sergius, not anyone alive at the time, whether Jewish, Greek, or Roman. On the Resurrection, no critical historian documents a single detail, or even the claim itself, until centuries later, and then only by Christian apologists who can only cite the New Testament as their source (and occasionally bogus documents like the letter sent by Jesus to Abgar that Eusebius tries to pass off as authentic). On the Resurrection, no physical evidence of any kind was produced--no coins, no inscriptions, no documentary papyri, no perpetual miracles. And everything that followed in history was caused by the belief in that resurrection, not the resurrection itself--and we know an actual resurrection is not the only possible cause of a belief in a resurrection.
- Richard Carrier, The Rubicon Analogy.
http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/richard_carrier/resurrection/rubi...

When you add up all of the following facts, the case for the existence of Jesus as an historical person becomes rather remote: 1) there are no proven, legitimate references to the existence of Jesus in any contemporary source outside of the New Testament (which is really not a contemporary source, as it was written from 30 to 70 years after Jesus supposedly died), 2) There is no evidence that the town of Nazareth, from which Jesus' mother supposedly came, ever existed at the time he was supposedly living there, 3) the existence of Jesus is not necessary to explain the origin or growth of Christianity (were the Hindu gods real'?), 4) the New Testament accounts do not provide a real "biography" for Jesus until you look at the Gospels. The earlier Pauline epistles imply only that he was a god, and 5) the biblical accounts of the trial and death of Jesus are logically self-contradictory and legally impossible. Jesus could not have been executed under either Roman or Jewish law for what he did. Whatever you call what he did, it was not a capital offense under either system. Rather, it looks like someone is trying to make Old Testament prophecies of the death of the Messiah come true by fabricating a scenario which simply doesn't make sense legally.

- The Jesus of History: A Reply to Josh McDowell
Gordon Stein, Ph.D. http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/gordon_stein/jesus.shtml

mindspread's picture

Thank you. That was great.

Thank you. That was great.

Hambydammit's picture

Very well written. 

Very well written.  Concise and extremely damaging to any Jesus claims.  I'm sure you won't get many theist responses to this.

 

Atheism isn't a lot like religion at all. Unless by "religion" you mean "not religion". --Ciarin

http://hambydammit.wordpress.com/
Books about atheism

todangst's picture

There's only two

There's only two replies

 

1) No one would have noticed, because "Jesus" was a minor figure.

 

This ignores the points about the book of Mark I made.

 

2) The people I listed wouldn't care about writing about a god striding the earth in earthly form, attracting throngs of people and working miracles... because they prefered to focus on other things... like philosophy.

 

Seriously, I've recieved both responses....

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

Books on atheism.

Hambydammit's picture

Quote: 2) The people I

Quote:
2) The people I listed wouldn't care about writing about a god striding the earth in earthly form, attracting throngs of people and working miracles... because they prefered to focus on other things... like philosophy.

And clearly, people dealing with philosophy -- the meaning of life and all that jazz -- would not be interested in um... god, because... um.. that has nothing to do with the meaning...

 err..

um..

 

Atheism isn't a lot like religion at all. Unless by "religion" you mean "not religion". --Ciarin

http://hambydammit.wordpress.com/
Books about atheism

Susan's picture

Hambydammit wrote: And

Hambydammit wrote:

And clearly, people dealing with philosophy -- the meaning of life and all that jazz -- would not be interested in um... god, because... um.. that has nothing to do with the meaning...

err..

um..

I think Hambydammit said it quite well. 

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Alockslee's picture

I posted a link to this

I posted a link to this article on a Christian Forum and they went ballistic.

The Forum is PID or Peering into Darkness Forum. The Forum founder Derek Gilbert and his wife host a Podcast which has a Fundamentalist/Evangelical agenda.

Derek along with his friend (who interrupts my threads) blasted the article but made little headway in refuting the points. The best he could do was to cast doubts on the scholarship and even that was an act of  shear desperation.

Thanks for putting this up as it was worth the flack I got just watch the reactions from the folks on that Forum. If you would care to see what is going on there and have some laughs then look it up as I don't care to post a link on this response.

 

TFR

Http://lehermitage.informe.com

Stupidity will never want for examples as long as Fundamentalists and Evangelicals exist!

Unfortunately, we don't

Unfortunately, we don't have the complete records...and most are not even close to complete...of any first century source.

 

 

The Patrician's picture

An interesting read...

The lack of evidence of Jesus as the messiah from contemporary sources is one of the most damning pieces of evidence against his supposed divinity.

I kind of go with Celsus' opinon that Jesus was merely a man.  Although Philo and Seneca the Younger don't mention them in their histories, I'm not sure they would if Jesus was merely a minor agitator.

In my opinon, Christianity would have died an early and largely unnoticed death if it hadn't been for Paul's evangelism.  Paul is probably the best PR man of all time and managed to turn an insignificant Jewish rabble rouser into a divine saviour.  It is to him that Christians shoud direct their adoration rather than Jesus.  

Nice read.  I enjoyed it. 

Freedom of religious belief is an inalienable right. Stuffing that belief down other people's throats is not.

Well put, Thank You.

Well put, Thank You.

There is a problem in your perception

I will agree that the piece is well written, but...Jesus (Joshua in Hebrew) would have been a delicate topic to Jewish historians and of little importance to the Romans.

1. The Jews did not believe him to be the messiah and would have therefore excluded him as being a radical and a blashemer. For a such an important position for a Jew to hold as a historian it would have been social suicide to write anything about him except that a man existed. The fact that Josephus documents the lives of Jesus's contemporaries is quite an indication to this. As for Philo not recording events such as the miraculous birth of Christ...even the Bible proclaims that many believed him to be a bastard. Even his brothers did not believe until after his death.

2. Jesus's trial would not be recorded in Jewish scripts because it was an illegal one according to Jewish law. Any document found to state the contrary would mean the levitical preisthood would therefore be null and void.

3. Romans would not have recorded the death because Pilot would have been executed for his trial and eventual execution of Jesus. The only thing they would be at liberty to report back to Rome would have been that a man was executed for treason and sedition to the empire. Hence why his placard read "Jesus, King of the Jews" and not as the pharasee's demand  "He claimed to be God". Jewish religious matters where of no business to Rome...as indicated by Pilot denying the trial in the first place.

4. As for the authorship of the gospels...only 2 were written by those who were with Jesus throughout his 3 year ministry; Matthew and John. Mark was written by John Mark, the nephew of Barnabus (who discipled Paul) and would have gained his account through conversations with Peter and James. Luke draws heavily on the book of Mark and also in his time with Peter and James in Jerusalem. The statement you make that Mark was the first penned is a supposition and it is believed that Matthew actually may have been the first...and only an abbreviated copy of an earlier work penned in Aramaic as noted by Eusebius. Matthew is also the most meticulus in it's detail as he was a tax collector and would have been required to be so in his work.

5. As for religious works in general, you would be hard pressed to find empirical evidence to suggest anything about the head figures. Mohammed's existence is debatable, Buddha never recording anything in writing and the writings about his life date far further than those of the life of Jesus.

6. As for christians....Ghandi said it best  "I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. YourChristians are so unlike your Christ."

Historically, the Romans and Jews referred to this sect as "the way". Christianity, as we know it today, was a compromise by Rome after they realized they couldn't erradicate them (see Nero). The Romans in turn saw a tool they could utilize in motivating the people. Thus is born what we now know as Catholisicm and the birth of "religion". Some questions before I'm done:

 1. How many churches did Jesus start?

 

None, he simply said " I am the way, the truth, and the light and no man comes to the father. but by me." And "In me you will find torrents of living water..."

2. How many commands did Jesus give?

 

Two...love God, and love eachother

 

3. Who was Jesus the hardest on?

 

Those who saddled the people with unrealisic religious demands and tradition. Those who used God as a platform for money or politics. Those who denied the weak and reviled the poor. Those who thought that through vain repetition and idle musings would attain favor with God. Jesus came to comfort the weary, and to lift up the broken. He came to understand what it was like to be human, to walk in your shoes. He came to seek you and tell you that you are the most precious thing to him. But, he also came as an offense to those who think themselves wise and a hard concept to those who think themselves mighty.

 Okay, off my soapbox...please if you want to respond send me an email at

 

Thanks 

The Patrician wrote: The

The Patrician wrote:

The lack of evidence of Jesus as the messiah from contemporary sources is one of the most damning pieces of evidence against his supposed divinity.

I kind of go with Celsus' opinon that Jesus was merely a man. Although Philo and Seneca the Younger don't mention them in their histories, I'm not sure they would if Jesus was merely a minor agitator.

In my opinon, Christianity would have died an early and largely unnoticed death if it hadn't been for Paul's evangelism. Paul is probably the best PR man of all time and managed to turn an insignificant Jewish rabble rouser into a divine saviour. It is to him that Christians shoud direct their adoration rather than Jesus.

Nice read. I enjoyed it.

 

True that Paul was responsible for the most evangelism of the apostles, but it was Constantine who made christianity as big as it is today. A man who was a pagan who integrated paganism into this movement in order to quell it and cow the people to his power. Remember, not long after his "conversion" he takes the people into the first crusade of the middle east. 

todangst's picture

Stauffenberg

Stauffenberg wrote:

Unfortunately, we don't have the complete records...and most are not even close to complete...of any first century source.

That's a red herring. Recall that from the book of Mark that it is claimed that a god-man strode the earth, gathered flocks of witnesses, performed miracles, etc. (and that matthew and luke further claim that he rose others from the dead, rose from the dead himself... ). The fact that few records survive the era would not explain why ALL records of the the most astounding event in history would all be lost... nor why any reference to these works would also go completely missing...

The 'jesus event' cannot both be one of the most incredible events in history and yet completely unnoteworthy, historically... attempts to wipe away the contradiction fail.

 

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

Books on atheism.

todangst's picture

jkhagel wrote:I will

jkhagel wrote:

I will agree that the piece is well written, but...Jesus (Joshua in Hebrew) would have been a delicate topic to Jewish historians and of little importance to the Romans.

My entire essay is written to combat this apologetic tactic. Please also look to the end of my essay, where I list common responses to my essay. The first response dealt with is your own:


1) No one would have noticed, because "Jesus" was a minor figure (i.e. someone that could be ignored because of more pressing concerns of the type you go on to list).

Please look at my counter response:

"This response simply ignores my essay."

Quote:

1. The Jews did not believe him to be the messiah and would have therefore excluded him as being a radical and a blashemer.

This ignores my essay. The point is that even a non believer would have to respond to the incredible events reported in the book of Mark. Why wouldn't a miracle worker as portrayed in the book of Mark, who's already convinced throngs of people of his god-like status, not make a mark in history, (bad pun intended), even if some were predisposed to denying this miracle worker 'messiah hood'?

Do you see how your response doesn't deal with the issue?

In addition, your argument rests on a very odd presumption: that non believers would simply remain non believers. Isn't that presumption odd? How could it be that everyone capable of writing anything was a non believer, given the accounts of "Jesus" in Mark?

Why are all the Jews in question remaining Jews, even after encountering the Messiah? How is it that all of the people capable of recording these events could witness your miracle working messiah and STILL find it possible to not believe - and furthermore, not even find 'him' worthy of note?!

Your argument treats dandruf by decapitation. In order to solve this problem you have to render your 'Jesus" puny, insignificant, someone capable of being ignored. It saves jesus as a historical figure by rendering christianity a mistake.

Quote:

2. Jesus's trial would not be recorded in Jewish scripts because it was an illegal one according to Jewish law.

This ignores my essay.

Quote:

3. Romans would not have recorded the death because Pilot would have been executed for his trial and eventual execution of Jesus.

This ignores my essay. It also again presupposes that people could witness a miracle working god-man and still remain not only unconvinced of the claims of christianity, but utterly unimpressed to the point of silence.

Quote:

4. As for the authorship of the gospels...only 2 were written by those who were with Jesus throughout his 3 year ministry; Matthew and John.

I counter this claim here:

http://www.rationalresponders.com/the_gospels_are_anonymous_works_and_none_are_eyewitness_accounts

and here, it is demonstrated that the book of Mark, upon which both matthew and luke originate (luke is also built from josephus) is likely 'midrash', and not history:

http://www.rationalresponders.com/the_gospels_are_midrash

Meaning that the gospels are a house of cards....

Quote:
The statement you make that Mark was the first penned is a supposition and it is believed that Matthew actually may have been the first...

'Believed'? Yes, its true people believe that. Some even believe that the gospels were actually written by the names given for them...

Quote:

and only an abbreviated copy of an earlier work penned in Aramaic as noted by Eusebius. Matthew is also the most meticulus in it's detail as he was a tax collector and would have been required to be so in his work.

You assume that matthew was the actual author. There are no grounds to hold that 'matthew' was the actual author of 'matthew' ,furtheremore, the 'matthew' author himself makes claims that speak against him being an eye witness in the last chapters of 'matthew'.

http://www.rationalresponders.com/the_gospels_are_anonymous_works_and_none_are_eyewitness_accounts

Quote:

5. As for religious works in general, you would be hard pressed to find empirical evidence to suggest anything about the head figures.

1) This ignores my essay. 2) It commits a false analogy fallacy (jesus is not just a human prophet according to christians, he's a miracle working god-man who drew throngs of people to him) and 3) it also leads me to response 2, listed above:


2) "The people I listed wouldn't care about writing about a god striding the earth in earthly form, attracting throngs of people and working miracles... because they prefered to focus on other things... like philosophy."

Sure...and people dealing with philosophy -- the meaning of life, matters of the true nature of existence, would not be interested in um... god, because... um.. that has nothing to do with the meaning of life...

 

Quote:

6. As for christians....Ghandi said it best "I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. YourChristians are so unlike your Christ."

This has nothing to do with my essay.

Quote:

Okay, off my soapbox...please if you want to respond send me an email at roguevalleygutter@yahoo.com.

There is no need to respond further as you've simply ignored my essay. If you wish to continue, please read my essay. You seem in a rush to simply provide the standard apolegetic that, ironically this essay is not only already aware of, but actually written to counter!

 

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

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todangst's picture

Alockslee wrote: I posted

Alockslee wrote:

I posted a link to this article on a Christian Forum and they went ballistic.

No doubt.

Quote:
 

The Forum is PID or Peering into Darkness Forum. The Forum founder Derek Gilbert and his wife host a Podcast which has a Fundamentalist/Evangelical agenda.

Derek along with his friend (who interrupts my threads) blasted the article but made little headway in refuting the points. The best he could do was to cast doubts on the scholarship and even that was an act of shear desperation.

A classic projection. 

 

Quote:

Thanks for putting this up as it was worth the flack I got just watch the reactions from the folks on that Forum. 

No doubt. 

 

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

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todangst's picture

The Patrician wrote: The

The Patrician wrote:

The lack of evidence of Jesus as the messiah from contemporary sources is one of the most damning pieces of evidence against his supposed divinity.

I kind of go with Celsus' opinon that Jesus was merely a man. Although Philo and Seneca the Younger don't mention them in their histories, I'm not sure they would if Jesus was merely a minor agitator.

The only way to solve the dilemma is to revision "jesus" as a minor figure. This has the side effect of rendering christianity one big mistake.

Quote:
 

In my opinon, Christianity would have died an early and largely unnoticed death if it hadn't been for Paul's evangelism. Paul is probably the best PR man of all time and managed to turn an insignificant Jewish rabble rouser into a divine saviour. It is to him that Christians shoud direct their adoration rather than Jesus.

Nice read. I enjoyed it.

Thank you, and yes, the "Jesus" that christains worship is a pauline Jesus, which, ironically, may well have been envisioned by Paul as merely a gnostic symbol. 

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

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todangst's picture

RevLyle, your post has been

RevLyle, your post on NON contemporary evidence for jesus has been moved here, as much of it has no relation to this essay:

http://www.rationalresponders.com/forum/sapient/atheist_vs_theist/6997

As far as the Testimonium goes, I already cite and link Lowder in my essay.

If you have something you yourself would like to say on the Testimonium, please add that here. Please also consider using your own words, and/or citing your sources if you use the words of others. If they are your words, please let us know. However, as things stand, it appears that you've taken your post from here:

http://www.christian-thinktank.com/jesusref.html 

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

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Rook_Hawkins's picture

Not to detract from

Not to detract from Todangst's post here, but there is also an extensive essay on the supposed "evidences" of Christ on this board, under the "Jesus Mythicism Campaign": look for the title "A Thorough Examination of the Evidence for Jesus."

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todangst's picture

Rook_Hawkins wrote:Not to

Rook_Hawkins wrote:
Not to detract from Todangst's post here, but there is also an extensive essay on the supposed "evidences" of Christ on this board, under the "Jesus Mythicism Campaign": look for the title "A Thorough Examination of the Evidence for Jesus."

Rook, thank you! I wanted to invite anyone who wishes to discuss non contemporary historical claims to read your essay:

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

Anyone who wishes to trot out the usual suspects (pliny the younger, Lucian, Tacitus, etc.) ought to read Rook's thread.

My 'own' essay already relies on Rook's work, along with the work of those cited above.

 

 

 

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

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AaronZZZ's picture

Well done.

Thank you todangst, That was a very well written and researched essay. I love to see fellow people with a passion to disprove what so so many people ignorantly accept as fact. The bible is simply one big mix of historical truth's and LIE's with the aim to deceive and manipulate. It will be a great day when the bible is received as pure Fiction by everyone.

Mr. Triple Z

Alockslee's picture

Re: my prior response

I wanted to update my prior response. With regard to the thread I mentioned and to be fair to the host of the Forum, the discussion did turn to a more civil approach following my intitial post here.

I did notice that although I posted links to this and Rook's article, the discussion of the points in them were never discussed in any detail by those taking the opposite side. I did see some users attempting to declare the Webhost as winner of the debate despite the repeated requests from me to provide a thorough point by point examination of the source material from this site. I am fully willing to admit if someone convinces me that they have in fact refuted the material, but the conditions were ignored and those who did comment didn't  comment about the material from the links from this site and this is based upon the lack of comment citing the material except for the instances that I did.

http://www.peeringintodarkness.com/forum/index.php?topic=4788.msg39562#msg39562

I provided the link to this discussion so that anyone reading this can determine for themselves if they agree with me or not and if they should care to comment, can do so on the thread.

TFR

Http://lehermitage.informe.com

Stupidity will never want for examples as long as Fundamentalists and Evangelicals exist!

ILOVECHRIST's picture

I read most of the story

I read most of the story and it seemed good until you started misrepresenting or actually "representing" the rational respone squad by not presenting all of the information.  Since jews did not really believe in the messsiah as stated in a previous comment, I found it interesting that you left out that Josephus mentions Jesus again in Book 20 chapter 9 eh em and I quote:

and Albinus was but upon the road; so he assembled the sanhedrim of judges, and brought before them the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James, and some others,

So lets say that the Testimonium Flavium is added by Christians of a later date...uh...then who added the above part?  I mean according to some recent studies even as late as 2003 (according to the wiki, ) the above passage has been accepted by most all scholars secular and christian as authentic.  Josephus mentioned JESUS who was called the CHRIST.  Even in the wiki articles states that Origen mentions the above paragraph several times.  So did Josephus write about Jesus or not.  You say...well I dont know what you say...but science, the web (several sites), my 600.00 bible program, and the Josephus writings say yes.

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darth_josh's picture

wikipedia???? Are you

wikipedia???? Are you kidding me?

This is strike two for you, ILOVECHRIST. You have said that you have read the boards for months yet clearly you have skipped some. Here:

A Thorough Examination of the Evidence for Jesus

 

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The Patrician's picture

ILOVECHRIST - The second

ILOVECHRIST - The second mention of Jesus in Josephus' work is most likely genuine.  However don't you find it curious that someone who is supposedly pivotal in the history of that region is relegated to a once mentioned supporting character?

Hardly evidence for a divine saviour, is it? 

Freedom of religious belief is an inalienable right. Stuffing that belief down other people's throats is not.

Alockslee's picture

I keep reading that most of

I keep reading that most of the "scholars and experts" agree, but since this "majority" is a definable class why are the number of them ever listed and the names given to find out who they are.

 It is simply stated "most" agree and that would mean some disagree and again reduces the number and names needed to be listed to show who these people are and what they really have to say.

So, what are the actual numbers and names of these people?

TFR 

Http://lehermitage.informe.com

Stupidity will never want for examples as long as Fundamentalists and Evangelicals exist!

The Patrician's picture

Dude, it's a general

Dude, it's a general consensus.  They didn't take a vote.

Do a Google search.  The references can be followed up independently from there. 

Freedom of religious belief is an inalienable right. Stuffing that belief down other people's throats is not.

Alockslee's picture

The point of the question

The point of the question is the use of general statements in an effort to lend credibility to an argument.  Few people ever check deeper into such statements which allows the person using the generallzations to push inaccurate data and know this when posting.

 When you require specifics you will find less and less material supports those using the general statements, thereby removing another tool to induce gullible people to side with their otherwise unproven arguments.

TFR 

Http://lehermitage.informe.com

Stupidity will never want for examples as long as Fundamentalists and Evangelicals exist!

Rook_Hawkins's picture

The Patrician wrote:

The Patrician wrote:

Dude, it's a general consensus. They didn't take a vote.

Do a Google search. The references can be followed up independently from there.

 

This is simply false.  I suggest you lay off "google" and stick to real scholarship.  Googling something and finding a blog on it will never be equivilant to reading an SNTS volume on Josephus, or an SBL commentary on a subject such as this.  Even sites like Peter Kirby's Early Christian Writings is not a substitute to reading the works themselves.  

First, a concensus is only a concensus when 95% of ALL scholars agree. Josephus is hardly that. Now, if you want some good works on the examination of the evidence, several books exist both ways. Bob Price, Deconstructing Jesus; Alice Wheatly, Josephus on Jesus; Louis Feldman, Josephus and Modern Scholarship; Earl Doherty, The Jesus Puzzle; Louis Feldman, Josephus, Antiquities XVIII LCL (See footnote).

Second, there is certainly much reason to doubt the full authenticity of the Jesus passages in Josephus. Carrier believes, and I support, it is far more likely a scribe accidentally interpolated the "who was the Christ" in the James passage, probably before Origen actually got a copy of the transcript. The passage in James obviously refers to Jesus son of Damnaeus. The passage in Ant. 18 seems more like a purposeful interpolation before Eusebius (although it could just as well be likely Eusebius forged it himself) and right after Origen - remember that Eusebius inhereted Origen's library.

Note that before Eusebius, there is no reference made AT ALL by any early church fathers as per the passage in Josephus - it seems more that they're using their imagination in the James bit instead of actually seeing something of value - and note that they never paint Josephus as saying that Jesus was the Christ - which would already make the James passage spurious. Remove that "who was the Christ" from the verse and you are stuck with merely Jesus Damnaeus, and unless you are proposing Jesus Damnaeus is Christ, then you have no strong case to stand on.

 

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todangst's picture

ILOVECHRIST wrote:I read

ILOVECHRIST wrote:

I read most of the story and it seemed good until you started misrepresenting or actually "representing" the rational respone squad by not presenting all of the information. Since jews did not really believe in the messsiah as stated in a previous comment, I found it interesting that you left out that Josephus mentions Jesus again in Book 20 chapter 9 eh em and I quote:

I did not leave this out.  

I mention this in my essay.

And present a link to refute it.

Please do not waste the space here posting claims that can be refuted  by actually reading my essay carefully. Go look at my post again. Go see where I mention this, and go see the link provided.

Quote:

So lets say that the Testimonium Flavium is added by Christians of a later date...uh...then who added the above part?

Rook answers this above.

Quote:
 

I mean according to some recent studies even as late as 2003 (according to the wiki, ) the above passage has been accepted by most all scholars secular and christian as authentic. Josephus mentioned JESUS who was called the CHRIST.

The problem is that all scholars do not agree that the passage part  'called the christ' is legitimate.

The other problems are already mentioned in my essay, which you also ignored.

I also find it fascinating that christians say things like "As a jewish man, he'd not accept this claim"... well, if he had good evidence of Messiah, then why would he remain a Jew in the first place? Wasn't everyone before the coming of Christ not a christian themselves? Didn't they come to believe because they saw him rise again? Isn't this your claim?

Well then, how can you explain Josephus having any good evidence of Jesus as the Christ, and yet remaining a Jew?  

You can't have it that Josephus had good evidence that Jesus the christ actually existed, AND also have it that he 1) fails to convert to christianity 2) fails to report any details of the event, particularly in a book dedicated to such things.

 

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

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todangst's picture

The Patrician

The Patrician wrote:

ILOVECHRIST - The second mention of Jesus in Josephus' work is most likely genuine. However don't you find it curious that someone who is supposedly pivotal in the history of that region is relegated to a once mentioned supporting character?

Hardly evidence for a divine saviour, is it?


The problem is that there still may be an insertion into the passage, i.e. 'the reference to christ'

And yes, even if were a historical report of 'jesus', it would be a tertiary source, decades after his purported life. It would still be coming from a person who did not accept it as a legitimate report of a real messiah - Josephus remains a Jew.

And most damning of all is that it appears in a work meant to investigate the history of Jews. If Josephus really thought he had any evidence of all of a Jewish messiah in Jesus, he would have spent pages and pages discussing the event.

You can't mention the Jewish messiah in passing in a book dedicated to a history of Judaism. You might as well write a book called "The Solar System" without mentioning a planet, or the sun, expect in a footnote on page 474. 

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

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ILOVECHRIST's picture

My response to your comments

Sorry I was at church all day. Lets start from the top.

DARTH JOSH: this was sarcasm. regarding wiki. I was stating that if wiki which is basically people like you and me submitting articles they have found on internet into this huge database can somewhat get close to a scholarly answer, then maybe the writers on this site could be wrong. I'll try to be more clear in my jokes

Secondly I read the part of rooks essay regarding the Testimonium and the supposed addedum or interpolation of the second mentioning of Jesus who was called the Christ. I noticed that rook like many other authors offer seemingly clear and well studied information but upon further research it just doesnt seem to hold weight. I appreciate all the research, but here is the one thing that people don't seem to understand regarding all the writings on Jesus, WE DON'T HAVE TO FOLLOW WHAT JOSEPHUS, OR PHILO, OR ORIGEN, OR CLEMENT WROTE!!! We as Christians may use the books as research to add to our knowledge but in no means can justify living our lives by the books that these HISTORIANS write. If Josephus wrote one sentence about Jesus, and he happens to mention that people called him the Christ, you simply cannot overlook this statement and say its unimportant because its not a significant amount of info. The fact remains that most scholars even though they disagree on the notion that the first part has been altered, they agree that the second part is authentic.

The Patrician: Your question is good however I think that I argued this point in that Josephus was or never has been our guide for a DIVINE SAVIOUR. It seems, according to my faith the BIBLE should be the source of our belief. Not history books, or internet articles on whether or not the scholars agree with it. The source for the divine saviour I serve is written in 66 Books that we call the CANON or the law or the standard.

Rook (glad you joined in) Hey lets set this straight. Josephus was not designated to be a AUTHORITY FIGURE ON THE LIFE OF JESUS. He seems to have been a jewish historian that wrote about what he chose to regarding the development of western civilization. We are spending a lot of time DESTROYING Josephus' work and yet no one doesn't seem to mention that Josephus doesn't write from a CHRISTIAN ONLY or BIBLICAL viewpoint. (I'll explain later) If he did then the work that you are critiqueing would not be an objective work. It just seems that you guys are looking to examine some Objective, purely historical books to validate a man whom clearly even though lived to affect human history was sent to affect a specific group of people CHRISTIANS. We are going back and forth over if Josephus testified to Jesus, when the BIBLE in all facets says that HIS(Jesus) works and HIS CREATIONS will testify of whom He is. So to take a look at Josephus and say well alot of early church fathers didn't quote Josephus seems to be moot point. Question how many of the early church fathers spoke of Jesus period? Or how about the BIBLE, or the writings of the Epistles? I don't know so maybe we look at this both objectively and see what the numbers are. It would seem that we are looking through a bowl of spoiled milk and are surprised that there is an odor! Point is although we can use encyclopedias, dictionaries, and alot of other resourceful tools, our belief system has and will always come from the Biblical TEXT. The Text testifies to its own validity by stating that it is the source for all questions for Christians. There is not FAULT in it. It is completely inerrant. (and I'm sure you will have plenty of examples to contradict me)

Todangst: First of all forgive me not getting entirely through your argument. I would not want you to think that I want to present an unclear viewpoint by not reading all of your article. My bad. Now this is where it gets dicey. See according to the scripture, just because you were a Hebrew or Jew did not constitute that you were going to have the same belief system or always agree. (Paul for example was persecutor of Christians before his conversion and historically studied under on that eras greatest teacher: Gamaliel)

Another example you and I are both humans. We don't have the same beliefs or hold to the same creeds however nevertheless we are both in the same race, the human race. Now our cultures and upbringing may affect how we view life as well as function day to day. You suggest that because Josephus were a jew and had proof that Jesus was the Christ that he would become converted. This seems to be an extremely faulty view. Well what does that statement mean? Converted from what? From jew to jew? Or are you saying that all jews didn't have the same view. I think you presented a very important point in your own statement.

As I understand it. The Old Testament Jews (who were only governed by the Torah) had an idea of what the Messiah would be. Jesus did not seem to present this idea or view so now he is rejected by his own people. Lets just assume you have read the Bible. After Pontius clears Jesus of any wrong doing, the Jewish culture was to pick one man to go free and one man to suffer persecution and death by the tree. The Bible, as well as most scholars Biblical or not, agree that the Jewish people selected to release Barabas and kill Jesus. Now if the jews in the Bible did not fully convert, then is it safe to say that Josephus could fall in that same class? In Acts 2 Peter calls for the JEWS that just crucified Jesus to repent and be baptized in His Name to separate themselves from other jews, that still did not want to believe in His work and name. So Josephus' "non conversion" doesn't seem to be anything new. There are plenty of non converters on this site and its part of Gods plan. The bible states that no man shall come to HIM unless he is called. (hard to swallow but true)

Last point because the wifey is here, Judiasm although extremely important doesn't seem to be the focal point of the message of Christ. All of His messages, and I know you guys know this, deal with Jesus converting his followers into disciples and preaching about the Kingdom of GOD which included all men whom believed in the work of Christ. Most of the epistles do not shove Jewish customs in our face as the idea, according to the scripture, is that their would be neither Jew, nor Greek, nor male or female in the Body of Christ but that we would all be seen equally in his Kingdom. Looking at the last statement about "the Jewish messiah" demonstrates your ignorance in the matter. Jesus was not only for the JEWS even though they were his chosen people, salvation would now be available to all men. So even if Josephus never mentions a word of Jesus, his testimony is not the measure or rule we use to validate the life of Jesus. I understand that the Bible is not good reading for you kats because you are not able to find another book that validates its story and splendor. At least not in the way you would like it to.

Do you pay taxes? If you do then find me the law that says you have to pay taxes? (By the way you won't 16th amendment was never passed) But you pay them anyway because thats what you want to believe that you should. Was 9/11 a terrorist act? Nope papers, videos and research and other evidence shows that America knew it was going to happen and did nothing about it. You're probably like where is he Going? I am saying that you guys choose to believe what you want even when there is clear concise evidence, and then call it the Free THINKING RATIONAL Movement. Well I've learned that the most dangerous thought is the one not governed by any structure or logic. And thats what I get from alot of your arguements (I know you think the same of me). Don't get me wrong you give alot of info and while some of it has truth to it most of it doesnt hold water.

Awaiting your response

 

 

I'll Defend God. Don't Test Me. You'll Lose

Hambydammit's picture

Quote: I noticed that rook

Quote:
I noticed that rook like many other authors offer seemingly clear and well studied information but upon further research it just doesnt seem to hold weight.

Could you produce this research? World renowned scholars seem to have missed it somewhere.

(just so we're clear, that was a real question asked with a hint of sarcasm. I'd dearly love to see your research.)

Quote:
. The fact remains that most scholars even though they disagree on the notion that the first part has been altered, they agree that the second part is authentic.

And the fact remains that it's still not contemporary.

Quote:
We are spending a lot of time DESTROYING Josephus' work and yet no one doesn't seem to mention that Josephus doesn't write from a CHRISTIAN ONLY or BIBLICAL viewpoint.

Right. And we're looking for corroborating evidence, no? So you've just made a good argument against your position.

Quote:
when the BIBLE in all facets says that HIS(Jesus) works and HIS CREATIONS will testify of whom He is.

So... um... why are your panties in a wad over Josephus? Show us the irrefutable evidence in the bible. Oh... yeah... there isn't any, so you need corroborating evidence.

Quote:
Question how many of the early church fathers spoke of Jesus period? Or how about the BIBLE, or the writings of the Epistles? I don't know so maybe we look at this both objectively and see what the numbers are.

Which church fathers? Paul? Constantine? Who are you talking about? Are you holding back some original texts from "church fathers" who actually knew Jesus as a man on earth?

Quote:
Point is although we can use encyclopedias, dictionaries, and alot of other resourceful tools, our belief system has and will always come from the Biblical TEXT. The Text testifies to its own validity by stating that it is the source for all questions for Christians. There is not FAULT in it. It is completely inerrant. (and I'm sure you will have plenty of examples to contradict me)

Did anyone but me notice that you just said again that you don't want corroborating evidence? Why are you still on about it, then? It's hard for me to comprehend how anyone can say the bible is inerrant, but hey, dude. It's your delusion. Seriously, I want to know why you're trying to argue in this thread, when it's clearly unimportant to your beliefs.

Quote:
Do you pay taxes? If you do then find me the law that says you have to pay taxes? (By the way you won't 16th amendment was never passed) But you pay them anyway because thats what you want to believe that you should. Was 9/11 a terrorist act? Nope papers, videos and research and other evidence shows that America knew it was going to happen and did nothing about it. You're probably like where is he Going? I am saying that you guys choose to believe what you want even when there is clear concise evidence, and then call it the Free THINKING RATIONAL Movement. Well I've learned that the most dangerous thought is the one not governed by any structure or logic. And thats what I get from alot of your arguements (I know you think the same of me). Don't get me wrong you give alot of info and while some of it has truth to it most of it doesnt hold water.

Actually, I pay taxes to avoid jail. I can't stop the feds from arresting me, whether it's in the law or not. What does this have to do with anything? September 11th? I dunno, man. I haven't seen enough evidence to believe either side, so I keep an open mind. I'm starting to wonder if you've got MRE's stashed in your basement and copies of Soldier of Fortune by the shitter. Pretty strange ideas you've got, and then you want to say we're irrational? Keep plugging away, man, but do me a favor, and give us a heads up if you're going to be blowing up any government buildings, ok?

(Also, for the record, that last paragraph was thinly veiled as humor, but that taxes and 9/11 paragraph did worry me. Hopefully, I've got you completely wrong, and you can take it as a joke. If you do have MREs, please don't go all Eric Rudolph on anybody, ok?)

 

 

 

Atheism isn't a lot like religion at all. Unless by "religion" you mean "not religion". --Ciarin

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Alockslee's picture

It seems that once again a

It seems that once again a person who admits to being Christian trying to explain away their need to discuss a topic which is directly related to their beliefs and since they have nothing but the Bible primarily the NT, it falls upon them to show proof. Next the attempt of circular reasoning and the method employed next will be to turn the argument back to those who have already proven their points to cause them to support the Christian's point of view.

When you continue to limit the discussion to the Bible and even that is shown to fail in proving the argument, then it leave virtually nothing to offer in foundational material for a belief system.

Another tactic is to inject some seemingly offhand reference to a non-religious activity and then assume that the analogy is valid. I see theis occuring over and over in the threads on the Forum I mentioned in a prior post here. The final straw in the Christian argument is shown when they simply refuse to argue or just post meaningless drivel to a question. They are out in force to convert. yet can't even answer questions which deconstruct their entire religion and they still want people to buy into it.

Something I have noticed here opposed to the other board is that you stay on topic and don't waste time even when dealing with tangential problems.

TFR

Http://lehermitage.informe.com

Stupidity will never want for examples as long as Fundamentalists and Evangelicals exist!

The Patrician's picture

Rook_Hawkins wrote: This is

Rook_Hawkins wrote:
This is simply false. I suggest you lay off "google" and stick to real scholarship. Googling something and finding a blog on it will never be equivilant to reading an SNTS volume on Josephus, or an SBL commentary on a subject such as this. Even sites like Peter Kirby's Early Christian Writings is not a substitute to reading the works themselves.

 Whoa!  Step back, young man!  I meant that googling will pull up references.  It is then up to the individual to research those references individually.

Which actually are on line in most cases...

http://www.earlyjewishwritings.com/josephus.html

http://www.stoics.com/seneca_epistles_book_1.html

These are just two examples.  Of course, you can do it the good old fashioned way if you wish.

Don't make the mistake of assuming that people haven't read these writings just because they suggest that, god forbid, someone should actually do a little independent research themselves.


Quote:
First, a concensus is only a concensus when 95% of ALL scholars agree.

By whose definition?  A consensus is merely a majority view or - if you want to be a bit more precise - a generally shared agreement.  Ironically it is only really in the ecumenical sense that the definition approaches yours.

 

Quote:
Josephus is hardly that. Now, if you want some good works on the examination of the evidence, several books exist both ways. Bob Price, Deconstructing Jesus; Alice Wheatly, Josephus on Jesus; Louis Feldman, Josephus and Modern Scholarship; Earl Doherty, The Jesus Puzzle; Louis Feldman, Josephus, Antiquities XVIII LCL (See footnote).

And Whiston's translation.  And Mason's Josephus and the New Testament.  And many others.  Sources should, of course, reflect different opinions  else we run the risk of focusing on only one sub-set of the 'truth' do we not?

Now in terms of a consensus on Josephus, even one of your sources - Feldman - states that the authenticity of this passage "has been almost universally acknowledged."

Source: Louis H. Feldman, "Josephus" Anchor Bible Dictionary, Vol. 3, pp. 990-1 (from JJ Lowder's article in Infidels.org)

Now you can do one of two things:

 1) Accept that the reference in 20.9.1 is generally seen as genuine by the scholarly community, that is, a consensus, or:

2) Provide a full list of all those who agree and a counter list of all those who disagree and we can vet their credentials and count  up the ones who meet our scholarly criteria.

Quote:
Second, there is certainly much reason to doubt the full authenticity of the Jesus passages in Josephus. Carrier believes, and I support, it is far more likely a scribe accidentally interpolated the "who was the Christ" in the James passage, probably before Origen actually got a copy of the transcript. The passage in James obviously refers to Jesus son of Damnaeus. The passage in Ant. 18 seems more like a purposeful interpolation before Eusebius (although it could just as well be likely Eusebius forged it himself) and right after Origen - remember that Eusebius inhereted Origen's library.

Quite possibly.  The Testimonium Flavium is almost certainly a forgery or, at best, a heavily reworked version of Josephus' words.  As for the second reference, the addition of "who was the Christ" is also open to question.  However, the mention of Jesus is almost certainly not.

Remember, I am not arguing for the existence of Jesus as the Messiah, merely Jesus as the man.

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Note that before Eusebius, there is no reference made AT ALL by any early church fathers as per the passage in Josephus - it seems more that they're using their imagination in the James bit instead of actually seeing something of value - and note that they never paint Josephus as saying that Jesus was the Christ - which would already make the James passage spurious. Remove that "who was the Christ" from the verse and you are stuck with merely Jesus Damnaeus, and unless you are proposing Jesus Damnaeus is Christ, then you have no strong case to stand on.

It's extremely doubtful that Damnaeus is the same Jesus referred to as the brother of James.  Jesus was a relatively common name - Josephus mentions Jesus ben Phiabi, Jesus ben Sec and Jesus ben Gamaliel - as examples of High Priests alone bearing that name.  Looking at the paragraph in context it just doesn't fit - surely the text would have been "and brought before them the brother of Jesus, son of Damnaeus, who was called Christ, whose name was James" unless you're suggesting that "who was called Christ" has been substituted for this which I just don't buy I'm afraid.

Freedom of religious belief is an inalienable right. Stuffing that belief down other people's throats is not.

The Patrician's picture

Quote: The Patrician: Your

Quote:
The Patrician: Your question is good however I think that I argued this point in that Josephus was or never has been our guide for a DIVINE SAVIOUR. It seems, according to my faith the BIBLE should be the source of our belief. Not history books, or internet articles on whether or not the scholars agree with it. The source for the divine saviour I serve is written in 66 Books that we call the CANON or the law or the standard.

Which canon?  The Protestant?  The Catholic?  The Eastern Orthodox?

How can a source that isn't even consistent amongst the major sects of Christianity, that was put together from a selection of books which were arbitrarily sorted into 'divinely inspired' and apocrypha, whose New Testament books are all at least 50 years antecedent to the death of Jesus, and whose cardinal gospels contradict each other to a ridiculous degree be regarded as a reputable source from a contemporary point of view?

Freedom of religious belief is an inalienable right. Stuffing that belief down other people's throats is not.

ILOVECHRIST's picture

Answering your replies

Hambydammit (colorful name) and Alockslee  

So let me get this right, because I beginning to understand your point of view... If we don't have any contemporary references to Jesus that are solid by your definition then this is what seems to be the major issue here. So let me ask you an honest question: if there happended to arise some literature that were to prove the very existence and life of Jesus, then would you renounce your belief and join my in the Christian faith?  This is a powerful question, because according to most defintions, FAITH in and of itself is an untouchable object it is based on not only feelings and emotions, but also reliance that whatever you believe in will inevitably never fail you.  Faith is based upon the interpretation of the intangible instead of the scientific tangible.  This is what makes it faith. So I see that the main point is that YOU NEED IRREFUTABLE EVIDENCE and that is what you live your life by. What you can see, interpret and comprehend for yourself. 

The reference to taxes shows that we all believe in certain things and do things sometimes without researching them.  Upon watching a movie and doing some research I've found out a few things about taxes: One WE DON'T have to pay personal income tax.  Well Documented.  Two the US Dollar is worth 3 and 1/2 cents and holds no monetary value.  The ink has more value than the paper.  The Federal Reserve is a company NOT A BANK.  Now if you were going to research this and find out that it was true, would you stop paying taxes?  Nope because your belief is that if I don't pay taxes I would go to jail even though research would show you that 24 out of 25 people who have challenged the GOVERNMENT about tax evasion have won.  But would you still pay taxes? I bet you would you know why because your faith in believing you would go to jail versus the IRREFUTABLE evidence would compel you to keep paying taxes.  Do you wear a seatbelt when you drive or stop at every stop sign in your city or drive the speed limit?  No one does all three of these all the time even though the IRREFUTABLE evidence would show you that you could get a ticket and/or go to jail.  My point is that, the evidence that you are looking for would not change your mind, because there are plenty of other areas in your way of thinking that seem to be the opposite of what your are looking for in the IRREFUTABLE EVIDENCE of the existense of Jesus. 

You have made up your mind: no contemporary evidence, no Jesus; even if there seems to be TONS of other material that makes reference to his existence.  But wait you wouldn't reference those because you feel that religious literature is unprovable and made up.  Which is funny because both historical literature and biblical literature were both written by men, validated or discredited by men, and either accepted or rejected by men. 

See I'm not here to shove scriptures in your face.  I came to meet you on your own playing field: simple logic and thought.  I'm in your forum with your people defending my faith, so I don't have to give you Bible verses because you said (incorrectly) that the BIBLE has error.  Note: There is error in the translations of different men and that I will agree, but not in the BIBLE. (THIS WOULD INCLUDE THE ORIGINAL MANUSCRIPTS. AND NO I DON'T HAVE A COPY TO SHOW YOU SORRY. Inspiration and inerrancy applies to the original writings, not to the copies)

I'll address the Patrician later.  Got to run to the LORD's house and worship 

I'll Defend God. Don't Test Me. You'll Lose

Topher's picture

Great essay, good

Great essay, good work

I’ve a quick question (in devil advocate ‘mode’)… the bible in of itself is not reliable; however you use the bible to determine the popularity of Jesus. If we already reject the bible how can we use some of its content? Could Jesus (had he existed) NOT in fact have been as popular as described in the NT, with the NT accounts actually being embellished (as I think a lot of the bible and Christianity developed). I ask this because theists often say because we reject the bible we cannot refer to it when making a case against their religion.

Also, did Josephus write about the many of the ‘prophets’ of the period? If he did then it would make the case against Jesus even more damming because we would expect Josephus to write about Jesus regardless of whether he was a charlatan or just a sincere but crazy rabbi.

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

Rook_Hawkins's picture

The Patrician

The Patrician wrote:

Rook_Hawkins wrote:
This is simply false. I suggest you lay off "google" and stick to real scholarship. Googling something and finding a blog on it will never be equivilant to reading an SNTS volume on Josephus, or an SBL commentary on a subject such as this. Even sites like Peter Kirby's Early Christian Writings is not a substitute to reading the works themselves.

Whoa! Step back, young man! I meant that googling will pull up references. It is then up to the individual to research those references individually.

Which actually are on line in most cases...

http://www.earlyjewishwritings.com/josephus.html

Apparently you ignore the fact that I said Peter Kirby's site doesn't compare to actually reading the books put out by the SBL or SNTS.

Reading the works themselves offers no evidence into the context of the work or possible motivations for writing.

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These are just two examples. Of course, you can do it the good old fashioned way if you wish.

There is no "old fashioned" way - perhaps you need to go to a library and check out which books were mostr recently published - apparently they still do that yet.

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Don't make the mistake of assuming that people haven't read these writings just because they suggest that, god forbid, someone should actually do a little independent research themselves.

Don't be a fool. Just because you made a stupid claim and I called you on it in no way means I'm claiming this strawman of yours.


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First, a concensus is only a concensus when 95% of ALL scholars agree.

By whose definition? A consensus is merely a majority view or - if you want to be a bit more precise - a generally shared agreement. Ironically it is only really in the ecumenical sense that the definition approaches yours.

False. This is the foundation of establishing a consensus in scholarship. In scholarship if it is not a 95% agreed upon claim, it is not a consensus. But thanks for playing.

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Josephus is hardly that. Now, if you want some good works on the examination of the evidence, several books exist both ways. Bob Price, Deconstructing Jesus; Alice Wheatly, Josephus on Jesus; Louis Feldman, Josephus and Modern Scholarship; Earl Doherty, The Jesus Puzzle; Louis Feldman, Josephus, Antiquities XVIII LCL (See footnote).

And Whiston's translation.

Which offers no good reason to accept his claims.

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And Mason's Josephus and the New Testament.

Ditto above.


Why the hell do you think I offered Feldman and Wheatly as sources? Are you paying attention?

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Now in terms of a consensus on Josephus, even one of your sources - Feldman - states that the authenticity of this passage "has been almost universally acknowledged."

Source: Louis H. Feldman, "Josephus" Anchor Bible Dictionary, Vol. 3, pp. 990-1 (from JJ Lowder's article in Infidels.org)

No shit, Sherlock! I even made that clear in the above paragraph right before I listed that...or did you ignore the part where I said, "Now, if you want some good works on the examination of the evidence, several books exist both ways." You must have reading comprehension problems.

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Now you can do one of two things:

1) Accept that the reference in 20.9.1 is generally seen as genuine by the scholarly community, that is, a consensus, or:

One more lie and it's a warning.

Quote:
2) Provide a full list of all those who agree and a counter list of all those who disagree and we can vet their credentials and count up the ones who meet our scholarly criteria.

There is no need for a full list, I provided four of the most accurate in this discussion. You provide filth and poor reading abilities. Who do you think will do better in this debate?

Quote:
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Second, there is certainly much reason to doubt the full authenticity of the Jesus passages in Josephus. Carrier believes, and I support, it is far more likely a scribe accidentally interpolated the "who was the Christ" in the James passage, probably before Origen actually got a copy of the transcript. The passage in James obviously refers to Jesus son of Damnaeus. The passage in Ant. 18 seems more like a purposeful interpolation before Eusebius (although it could just as well be likely Eusebius forged it himself) and right after Origen - remember that Eusebius inhereted Origen's library.

Quite possibly. The Testimonium Flavium is almost certainly a forgery or, at best, a heavily reworked version of Josephus' words. As for the second reference, the addition of "who was the Christ" is also open to question. However, the mention of Jesus is almost certainly not.

Of course it isn't. Again, you didn't read anything I wrote. I said that it is a reference to Jesus Damnaeus--who is the very subject of the former passages.

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Remember, I am not arguing for the existence of Jesus as the Messiah, merely Jesus as the man.

So far you're doing a terrible job.

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Note that before Eusebius, there is no reference made AT ALL by any early church fathers as per the passage in Josephus - it seems more that they're using their imagination in the James bit instead of actually seeing something of value - and note that they never paint Josephus as saying that Jesus was the Christ - which would already make the James passage spurious. Remove that "who was the Christ" from the verse and you are stuck with merely Jesus Damnaeus, and unless you are proposing Jesus Damnaeus is Christ, then you have no strong case to stand on.

It's extremely doubtful that Damnaeus is the same Jesus referred to as the brother of James.

Are you serious? Have you even read this section of Josephus?

Quote:
Jesus was a relatively common name - Josephus mentions Jesus ben Phiabi, Jesus ben Sec and Jesus ben Gamaliel - as examples of High Priests alone bearing that name. Looking at the paragraph in context it just doesn't fit - surely the text would have been "and brought before them the brother of Jesus, son of Damnaeus, who was called Christ, whose name was James" unless you're suggesting that "who was called Christ" has been substituted for this which I just don't buy I'm afraid.

Then you're an idiot.

Atheist Books, purchases on Amazon support the Rational Response Squad server, which houses Celebrity Atheists. Books by Rook Hawkins (Thomas Verenna)

todangst's picture

ILOVECHRIST

ILOVECHRIST wrote:

Todangst: First of all forgive me not getting entirely through your argument.

Sorry, but if you want to comment on my essay, you have to at least read it.

Quote:
Now this is where it gets dicey. See according to the scripture, just because you were a Hebrew or Jew did not constitute that you were going to have the same belief system or always agree.

You're still ignoring my essay.

Quote:

Another example you and I are both humans. We don't have the same beliefs or hold to the same creeds however nevertheless we are both in the same race, the human race. Now our cultures and upbringing may affect how we view life as well as function day to day. You suggest that because Josephus were a jew and had proof that Jesus was the Christ that he would become converted. This seems to be an extremely faulty view.

No, it's not a faulty view, your own view that jews would simply ignore jesus because of a different cultural mindset is the irrational view. Who do you think the first christians were? They were former jews! Christianity was even considered a sect of Judaism for a time.

Paul was a Jew. And he converted because of a 'vision'. So you want to tell me that if Josephus had good evidence that Jesus was the Messiah, then he wouldn't convert to christianity because of a different cultural viewpoint?

Do you see the absurdity?

What sort of cultural viewpoint allows a historian to ignore evidence that he otherwise reports as historical fact (if we were to accept the testimonium as true)?

Do you see the contradiction?

You can't argue that "he didn't accept jesus as the christ because he was a jew' - the question actually is, why does he remain a jew, if in fact he had evidence supporting the claims of christianity.

Quote:

As I understand it. The Old Testament Jews (who were only governed by the Torah) had an idea of what the Messiah would be. Jesus did not seem to present this idea or view so now he is rejected by his own people.

What would 'rejected by his own people' really mean? It can't mean that no jews, ever, would convert.

Otherwise, how do you explain Paul?

So, it's clear that some jews did convert.

Here's the flaw in your argument: Obviously, if one converts, one is no longer a jew, and therefore, its a tautology that 'his people' will reject him if 'his people' by definition is a reference to non believing jews!

Do you see how circular your claim is?

 

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

Books on atheism.

todangst's picture

The Patrician

The Patrician wrote:

Quote:
Second, there is certainly much reason to doubt the full authenticity of the Jesus passages in Josephus. Carrier believes, and I support, it is far more likely a scribe accidentally interpolated the "who was the Christ" in the James passage, probably before Origen actually got a copy of the transcript. The passage in James obviously refers to Jesus son of Damnaeus. The passage in Ant. 18 seems more like a purposeful interpolation before Eusebius (although it could just as well be likely Eusebius forged it himself) and right after Origen - remember that Eusebius inhereted Origen's library.

Quite possibly. The Testimonium Flavium is almost certainly a forgery or, at best, a heavily reworked version of Josephus' words. As for the second reference, the addition of "who was the Christ" is also open to question. However, the mention of Jesus is almost certainly not.

Agreed, but this defeats the passage as a reference to Jesus of the gospels. What's left? Are you relying on the reference to "brother of James"?

You should read Rook's points on this passage.

Quote:
Remember, I am not arguing for the existence of Jesus as the Messiah, merely Jesus as the man.

But you can't even use this passage as a bit of evidence of a "Jesus, the man who inspired the legend".... Without 'the christ' reference, all you have is likely a reference to a Jesus, son of Damneus.... seriously, research this for yourself. Don't go on consensus alone.... 

 

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

Books on atheism.

todangst's picture

Topher wrote: Great essay,

Topher wrote:

Great essay, good work

I’ve a quick question (in devil advocate ‘mode’)… the bible in of itself is not reliable; however you use the bible to determine the popularity of Jesus. If we already reject the bible how can we use some of its content?

We are accepting the claims of the Gospel of Mark as true, as a hypothetical, in order to explore the historical ramifications that would logically follow from its grandiose claims. The "Jesus" of christianity is the "Jesus" of the Gospels, ergo we must use a Gospel account as the beginning of our hypothetical exploration.

Quote:

Could Jesus (had he existed) NOT in fact have been as popular as described in the NT, with the NT accounts actually being embellished

You're conjuring up a concept called "Historical Jesus".

The problem with introducing that idea is that it is a fallacy of equivocation to refer to an ordinary man who inspired the legend of Jesus as if he were Jesus, son of god. 

This essay explains the problem in detail:

http://www.rationalresponders.com/jesus_vs_paul_bunyan

 

Quote:

I ask this because theists often say because we reject the bible we cannot refer to it when making a case against their religion.

My apologies, but that's what a developmental psychologicst would call "concrete thinking." Adults are able to think in abstractions: i.e they are able to contemplate hypotheticals. We can imagine "what if"? Saying "what if I could fly" does not entail believing that I can fly.

 So this 'complaint' ( I can't really call it an argument) confuses the hypothetical acceptance of a claim in order to reduce it to absurdity, with an actual, literal acceptance of the claim (leading to an internal contradiction). It almost amounts to saying: "You said 'oh god', so you must believe!"

I'm sure you already got all of this... but... 

Here's an example of how hypothetical thinking does not require a literal, concrete acceptance of a claim.

Let's say I want to disprove the existence of Santa Claus. I say:

How could Santa possibly fly to the homes of billions of children in one night?

Do I need to accept the literal existence of Santa, and all the various aspects of the Santa myth as literal facts in order to question the logic of the Santa claim?

We can ponder a claim hypothetically without having to accept any aspect of the claim as literal fact.

It follows that one can say "Let's take the Gospel of Mark as a claim". If what is in that book is true, what sort of mark on history ought Jesus have had had on the world?  The idea that I can't do this without accepting it as true is absurd.

Quote:

Also, did Josephus write about the many of the ‘prophets’ of the period?

I speak about Josephus' interests above. This may interest you:  He does comment on John the Baptist.

Quote:

If he did then it would make the case against Jesus even more damning because we would expect Josephus to write about Jesus regardless of whether he was a charlatan or just a sincere but crazy rabbi.

Had "Jesus" made a mark on the world even remotely similar to the claims made in the book of Mark, we'd expect that Josephus would have commented on this "Jesus" in more detail. Theists continually ignore the self refuting nature of a brief mention of  god's son striding the earth. No theist here even comments on this point.

And again, please realize that Jospephus devotes a good deal of time discussing John the Baptist. 

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

Books on atheism.

Alockslee's picture

Truly amazing how what was

Truly amazing how what was stated is changed. You ask another about taxes and they respond, then you lump me into the argument as if I had anwered you. Very interesting indeed.

Next you change the questions posed from Rook and others to something I never said and then ask me as if I did.

Typical, change the questions to confuse the original statement and then write like it was that way al along. Sorry, but that wasn't what was asked and written about by me. The challenge brought forth from the article was and still is the same. Please try and I know it may be confusing to you as with most Christians, do like to lump, label and file things into easy bite sized pieces, but do try to focus on what was said and not invent and inject what was not.

Finally, please make sure when you do comment on what I wrote, be sure I actually did write it.

TFR

Http://lehermitage.informe.com

Stupidity will never want for examples as long as Fundamentalists and Evangelicals exist!

The Patrician's picture

Rook_Hawkins

Rook_Hawkins wrote:
Apparently you ignore the fact that I said Peter Kirby's site doesn't compare to actually reading the books put out by the SBL or SNTS.

And apparently you ignore the fact that I say you can do it the old fashioned way too.

Quote:
Reading the works themselves offers no evidence into the context of the work or possible motivations for writing.

But does actually enable one to be familiar with the subject matter before criticizing it.

Quote:
There is no "old fashioned" way - perhaps you need to go to a library and check out which books were mostr recently published - apparently they still do that yet.

Oh you didn't ignore it, you just chose to jump to incorrect conclusions instead. Whatever.

I hate to break it to you but there are scholarly articles on-line as well as in paper format. No, really, there are. You can subscribe to journals for PDF versions.

It's kind of handy for when you can't be bothered getting a plane ticket and travelling down to London to visit the British Library.

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Don't be a fool. Just because you made a stupid claim and I called you on it in no way means I'm claiming this strawman of yours.

A stupid claim? Let's see...

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Dude, it's a general consensus. They didn't take a vote.

Nope, can't be that as - although there has been no formal vote the majority of scholars agree that the Book 20 reference is genuine. Of course if you're definition of a scholarly consensus is correct - and I'm sure you'll back it up if it is then, fine; Its just a simple majority instead.

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Do a Google search. The references can be followed up independently from there.

Nope, can't be that. Using a search engine to find references which are then followed up independently - which, incidentally, means getting the sources and reading them either in paper format or on-line PDF - is what any rational person does.

So... any more erroneous statements you'd care to make at this point?

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False. This is the foundation of establishing a consensus in scholarship. In scholarship if it is not a 95% agreed upon claim, it is not a consensus. But thanks for playing.

Really? Source please. If I'm wrong, I'm wrong but I'd like to see it.

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Which offers no good reason to accept his claims.

Ditto above.

Why the hell do you think I offered Feldman and Wheatly as sources? Are you paying attention?

I find it extrememly surprising that you don't mention Mason's book for a start as it's an excellent introduction. Perhaps it doesn't meet your scholarly criteria? As for Whiston's text, I would have thought it would have been a good idea to actually read through Josephus first before disecting it.

Quote:
No shit, Sherlock! I even made that clear in the above paragraph right before I listed that...or did you ignore the part where I said, "Now, if you want some good works on the examination of the evidence, several books exist both ways." You must have reading comprehension problems.

No, you just seem to be arguing that most scholars don't accept 20.9.1 as genuine whereas it seems they do.

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One more lie and it's a warning.

My goodness, was that just the internet equivalent of a child stamping his foot that I saw? Hey, knock yourself out, kid. It's your playground.

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There is no need for a full list, I provided four of the most accurate in this discussion. You provide filth and poor reading abilities. Who do you think will do better in this debate?

Filth? Mason and Whiston are filth? Dear me.

As for accuracy, I take it by that you mean views that largely support your own? It's not quite the same thing I'm afraid.

Still you can impress me with your 1337 debating skeelz if you wish.

Quote:
Of course it isn't. Again, you didn't read anything I wrote. I said that it is a reference to Jesus Damnaeus--who is the very subject of the former passages.

We are reffering to 20.9.1 here aren't we? That is Chapter 9 as in "Concerning Albinus..." where 20.9.1 is the first verse of that chapter, aren't we? And by former passages are you referring to Chapter 8 which concerns the death of Claudius and Nero's ascencion, outlaws in Judea, false prophets and sedition? Or maybe Chapter 7 where Felix is made Procurator of Judea?

Or are you just assuming that the Jesus the brother of James is the same as Jesus Damneus - despite the fact that Jesus was a pretty common name - because the name appears twice in one chapter? A bit tenuous, isn't it?

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So far you're doing a terrible job.

Perhaps I am. After all, all I'm really asking for you to do is to provide evidence of what constitutes a scholary consensus, an explanation why you consider Whiston and Mason to be filth and a comentary on why you believe that Jesus, brother of James is the same as Jesus, son of Damneus despite no patronymic being used for the first reference.

 Provide that and I'm willing to change my point of view.  After all rational discussion is more rewarding than hurling cheap insults, isn't it?

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Are you serious? Have you even read this section of Josephus?

Well... yes. And the preceding paragrpahs too.

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Then you're an idiot.

Oh, I see. I must be an idiot because I don't agree with your interpretation rather than because I don't believe that they're the same person because:

a) No patronymic is used to identify the first Jesus.

b) Jesus was a common name - four (I think) of the twenty eight priests mentioned by Josephus are called Jesus for example.

c) The majority of scholars seem to favour it to be genuine (unless as mentioned you can give me a list of pros and antis which includes 'filth&#39Eye-wink.

But it's easier to throw insults around rather than give a polite rebuttal, isn't it?

Freedom of religious belief is an inalienable right. Stuffing that belief down other people's throats is not.

The Patrician's picture

todangst wrote: Agreed, but

todangst wrote:
Agreed, but this defeats the passage as a reference to Jesus of the gospels. What's left? Are you relying on the reference to "brother of James"?

I agree that it does.  The reference to the brother of James is a sticky point: it either refers to Damnaeus - or another Jesus - or it refers to Jesus Christ as the Jesus of the Bible (that is the divine son of God) or it refers to Jesus as an existing but largely insignificant historical personage.

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You should read Rook's points on this passage.

I did.  He makes interesting and valid points when he's not being pointlessly abusive. 

Quote:
But you can't even use this passage as a bit of evidence of a "Jesus, the man who inspired the legend".... Without 'the christ' reference, all you have is likely a reference to a Jesus, son of Damneus.... seriously, research this for yourself. Don't go on consensus alone....

That's the point, I have a bit.  Having read Book XX of The Antiquities amongst other sources I am of the opinion that Jesus as a historical personage is possible.  This is, however, relatively new to me so my opinion may change depending on the sources consulted - however, this will be as a result of my own research, not Rook's.

 Currently I see it as more likely that the Jesus myth needed a historical personage as a seed and that this personage then had divinity rather rudely thrust upon him after his death by authors more concerned with the promulgation of a religious power base than historical accuracy.  However, we'll see what further investigation brings.

Freedom of religious belief is an inalienable right. Stuffing that belief down other people's throats is not.

todangst's picture

The Patrician

The Patrician wrote:

todangst wrote:
Agreed, but this defeats the passage as a reference to Jesus of the gospels. What's left? Are you relying on the reference to "brother of James"?

I agree that it does. The reference to the brother of James is a sticky point: it either refers to Damnaeus - or another Jesus - or it refers to Jesus Christ as the Jesus of the Bible (that is the divine son of God) or it refers to Jesus as an existing but largely insignificant historical personage.

And my essay already points to the problem concering a possible reference to a Christ: you can't mention a Christ in passing. It makes no sense paticuarly in a work dedicated to investigating such claims.

A passing mention must indicate either 1) a lack of any good reason to hold to claim (i.e. the report of a rumored event) 2) a lack of interest or 3) later interpolation

And we can rule out '2' as absurd.

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You should read Rook's points on this passage.

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I did. He makes interesting and valid points when he's not being pointlessly abusive.

Good. Then just ignore all of that and focus on his work.

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But you can't even use this passage as a bit of evidence of a "Jesus, the man who inspired the legend".... Without 'the christ' reference, all you have is likely a reference to a Jesus, son of Damneus.... seriously, research this for yourself. Don't go on consensus alone....

Quote:
That's the point, I have a bit. Having read Book XX of The Antiquities amongst other sources I am of the opinion that Jesus as a historical personage is possible.

I really don't see why. I can't see how you can use 20.9 as a source for a historical Jesus. It's either a passing reference to a Messiah by a schizophrenically detached Josephus - akin to having Carl Sagan mention in passing that the Moon exploded during a discussion of Pythagoras during 'Cosmos', or it's an interpolation and therefore, not a refernce to "Jesus" in any christian sense of the word.

I think 'historical Jesus' fans need to argue for a partial testimonium... that's your only content related reference...

I'd also add this from a conversation with rook:

"The problem is, even if a Historical Christ existed, he is lost to us - we have no knowledge of him, because Christians have so destroyed any and all mention of him it's impossible to piece anything of substance together on him or his life, which is why nobody can ever write a biography on Christ without it contradicting a piece of evidence.  So the question is, not whether or not there was a Christ, but if you claim there was a Christ - then WHICH Christ?" 

Quote:
Currently I see it as more likely that the Jesus myth needed a historical personage as a seed and that this personage then had divinity rather rudely thrust upon him after his death by authors more concerned with the promulgation of a religious power base than historical accuracy. However, we'll see what further investigation brings.

I held to the same view, but there are problems with this view that the mythicist position solves. If there really were one "Jesus" that inspired a myth, we'd expect one basic story that eventually splinters into a divergent set of opinions - instead, we seem to see the opposite: a flourish of contradictory opinions that are eventually crushed under the homomousian hegemony as heresey.

As Rook writes:

"We have such contradictions in our sources on Jesus (Gospels vs. Paul vs. Pseudepigrapha vs. early church fathers like Clement vs. later Christians vs. Gnostics, etc…), which is why the silence of Jesus’ existence works to show there is a large chance he never existed at all. Additionally we have alternate reasons to explain why each of those contradictions contradict in the first place (like the fact that there were thousands of sects of Christians by the second century who would have redacted older texts and also written their own based on their own motivations, with their own opinions on who and what Christ was).

***************

In addition, we must ask: what exactly does it mean to say that there was a "real Jesus, just he was only a man"? I explore this question here:

http://www.rationalresponders.com/jesus_vs_paul_bunyan

Can there be a 'real Paul Bunyan', or does the very definition of "Paul Bunynan' rule out a 'real Paul Bunyan' as an oxymoron?

My point is this: even the mythicist position would agree that there could be a "Jesus" who inspires the myth... after all, no mythicist claims that the creators of the myth invented the name Jesus. Even a myth MUST have real elements.

So in a sense, the 'historical Jesus' argument MUST mesh with the mythicist position at some point....

i.e.: If those who held to the myth were inspired by a guy named Jesus who just happened to walk by, would you call him the 'historical Jesus'? Probably not....

 

 

 

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

Books on atheism.

Nimitz68's picture

You wouldn't mind if I sent

You wouldn't mind if I sent a few thousand theists to read this page?!
Think I'll put a URL link to it in my sig on every board.
Great post!

Ever "hang-ten" on the bow of a nuclear powered aircraft carrier at 30+ knots?

todangst's picture

Nimitz68 wrote: You

Nimitz68 wrote:
You wouldn't mind if I sent a few thousand theists to read this page?! Think I'll put a URL link to it in my sig on every board. Great post!

 

If you do, please send respectful posters.

 

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

Books on atheism.

The Patrician's picture

todangst wrote: And my

todangst wrote:
And my essay already points to the problem concering a possible reference to a Christ: you can't mention a Christ in passing. It makes no sense paticuarly in a work dedicated to investigating such claims.

It would seem so. Myth seeds are funny things though.

Quote:
A passing mention must indicate either 1) a lack of any good reason to hold to claim (i.e. the report of a rumored event) 2) a lack of interest or 3) later interpolation

And we can rule out '2' as absurd.

A reasonable assumption.

Quote:
Good. Then just ignore all of that and focus on his work.

Quote:
I really don't see why. I can't see how you can use 20.9 as a source for a historical Jesus. It's either a passing reference to a Messiah by a schizophrenically detached Josephus - akin to having Carl Sagan mention in passing that the Moon exploded during a discussion of Pythagoras during 'Cosmos', or it's an interpolation and therefore, not a refernce to "Jesus" in any christian sense of the word.

I think 'historical Jesus' fans need to argue for a partial testimonium... that's your only content related reference...

I'd also add this from a conversation with rook:

"The problem is, even if a Historical Christ existed, he is lost to us - we have no knowledge of him, because Christians have so destroyed any and all mention of him it's impossible to piece anything of substance together on him or his life, which is why nobody can ever write a biography on Christ without it contradicting a piece of evidence. So the question is, not whether or not there was a Christ, but if you claim there was a Christ - then WHICH Christ?"

Good point. As mentioned, further investigation is required but it is a compelling argument.

Quote:
I held to the same view, but there are problems with this view that the mythicist position solves. If there really were one "Jesus" that inspired a myth, we'd expect one basic story that eventually splinters into a divergent set of opinions - instead, we seem to see the opposite: a flourish of contradictory opinions that are eventually crushed under the homomousian hegemony as heresey.

Agreed.

I have snipped the rest of the quote as I think the main thing is that the onus is on me to delve a bit deeper. Naturally this will involve an investigation of all appropriate sources so it may take some time.

As an aside, I find the subject of myth seeds quite interesting - that is how a real or fictional personage is ascribed heroic or godlike powers and how he uses these powers. The fascinating thing is how these tales relate back to historical fact.

For example, there is debate around whether or not King Arthur actually existed - some evidence (the Cornish slate found at Tintagel for example) suggests that a warrior king of that name fought against the Saxons in the fifth century. Of course there are conflicting theories that he was Welsh or Breton and lived around 50 years earlier or later.

Regardless of which, if - and the key is if - he existed he bore no resemblence to Malory's hero and his court - of which it is certain at least a number of whom were purely mythical - to the paladins of the tales captured in Percy's Reliques.

To me this gives a striking exampe of how an ancient war chief - of which there were many in late Roman Britain - can give rise to a whole myth cycle with its own mysticism.

Charlemagne is another example - although we have much more evidence to his existence as king of the Franks - of how a historical personage can have a myth cycle attached to them. The early chansons de geste are full of fanciful tales of the king and his paladins.

Is it possible that Jesus had the same treatment from his eulogisers? I shall endeavour to find out using your and Rook's essay's as a starting point.

 

Freedom of religious belief is an inalienable right. Stuffing that belief down other people's throats is not.

Topher's picture

todangst wrote: If there

todangst wrote:
If there really were one "Jesus" that inspired a myth, we'd expect one basic story that eventually splinters into a divergent set of opinions - instead, we seem to see the opposite: a flourish of contradictory opinions that are eventually crushed under the homomousian hegemony as heresey.


I think both of these are likely to be true.

I generally hold the view that Paul created the Jesus myth, which was then orally passed around for some decades and in the process becoming embellished and splintering into divergent versions. This is supported but the fact that there were hundreds of Christian sects during early Christianity (Epiphanius details many). This leads to the now orthodox version, the gnostic versions and so on. Then, Marcion creates the first ‘canon’ and this forces the early church fathers to create the now orthodox canon.

So I think that it did start with a single, but vague spiritual myth that then splinters, but then is returned to a single, but now embellished doctrine.

Maybe Paul based it on a real person, I don’t know, but I see no reason to accept that he did. I don’t see how it matters anyway as the Christianity we have now has gone well beyond what Paul started with.

If he based it on anything, it was probably a combination of the OT texts and the general claims of prophets of his time.

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

todangst's picture

The Patrician wrote: I

The Patrician wrote:

I have snipped the rest of the quote as I think the main thing is that the onus is on me to delve a bit deeper. Naturally this will involve an investigation of all appropriate sources so it may take some time.

As an aside, I find the subject of myth seeds quite interesting - that is how a real or fictional personage is ascribed heroic or godlike powers and how he uses these powers. The fascinating thing is how these tales relate back to historical fact.

For example, there is debate around whether or not King Arthur actually existed - some evidence (the Cornish slate found at Tintagel for example) suggests that a warrior king of that name fought against the Saxons in the fifth century. Of course there are conflicting theories that he was Welsh or Breton and lived around 50 years earlier or later.

Regardless of which, if - and the key is if - he existed he bore no resemblence to Malory's hero and his court - of which it is certain at least a number of whom were purely mythical - to the paladins of the tales captured in Percy's Reliques.

 To me this gives a striking exampe of how an ancient war chief - of which there were many in late Roman Britain - can give rise to a whole myth cycle with its own mysticism.

Charlemagne is another example - although we have much more evidence to his existence as king of the Franks - of how a historical personage can have a myth cycle attached to them. The early chansons de geste are full of fanciful tales of the king and his paladins.

Is it possible that Jesus had the same treatment from his eulogisers? I shall endeavour to find out using your and Rook's essay's as a starting point.

 

Very interesting! I can only be a starting point, I rely on the works of others. You should only use my essay precisely as you are using it, as a pointer to the works of others.

Thanks for posting! 

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

Books on atheism.

todangst's picture

Topher wrote:  I

Topher wrote:

 
I generally hold the view that Paul created the Jesus myth, which was then orally passed around for some decades and in the process becoming embellished and splintering into divergent versions. This is supported but the fact that there were hundreds of Christian sects during early Christianity (Epiphanius details many). This leads to the now orthodox version, the gnostic versions and so on. Then, Marcion creates the first ‘canon’ and this forces the early church fathers to create the now orthodox canon.

So I think that it did start with a single, but vague spiritual myth that then splinters, but then is returned to a single, but now embellished doctrine.

But we already have competing myths from the beginning:

The writings of Philo provide for a possible seed for Jesus stories. Read more about Philo and be stunned about how much of his works became "christianity"

The Quelle (Q) sayings need only be attributed to 'one wise man' for them to represent a second Jesus. 

Then we have Paul. 

 

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

Books on atheism.