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Religion and Spirituality, Science and Philosophy Use this forum to discuss what you believe in. This is a place where everyone may share their views freely.

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Did Jesus exist? - August 15th 2012, 01:17 PM

I found this comment on Reddit very illuminating. Your thoughts, Teen Help?

Quote:
Just to clear up some misconceptions in this thread, there are no contemporary written records that support the existence of a historical Jesus. The earliest mentions we have come from the Pauline epistles, which were written beginning about two decades after his death by an author who never met the man. This is troubling for many Biblical scholars because our earliest records contain no details whatsoever about the actual life of Jesus. Paul only talks about the spiritual meaning of Christ's resurrection.
The gospels weren't written down until about 70 AD at the earliest beginning with Mark, and finishing sometime between 90-110 AD for John. We have none of these originals (we don't even have copies of copies of copies of the originals[1]) so we don't know their contents or how accurate our copies are, but that is when the gospels started to be referenced by other sources. There were also many other gospels being passed around orally at the time, but often were not written down until many years later and contained elements which would eventually get them branded as apocryphal by the Council of Nicaea when the biblical canon was formalized. This is simplifying things a bit as the early priests were constantly fighting about which gospels were legitimate or not. You should read some of them. My favorites are the Gospel of Peter and the Infancy Gospel of Thomas.
The earliest non-Christian reference we have to the historical existence of an eccentric rabbi by the name of Yeshua (Jesus was the Latinization) comes from the Testimonium passage written by the historian Josephus in 94 AD, about sixty years after Jesus' death. It is now thought by scholars to be at least partially and potentially completely forged by later church members who were annoyed/embarrassed by the lack of historical references to Jesus.
Most of the problem with trying to identify a historical Jesus is that the historians who do reference him beginning with Josephus are just repeating what the Christians said about him. There's not a single historian who references a non-Christian (such as Pilate) about the existence of Jesus or the details of his life.
The real issue, however, is that there were historians in the period writing about the events of the time such as Philo of Alexandria and Justus of Tiberius. In fact, there were historians living in contemporary Judea who were interested in and wrote about precisely the kind of thing Jesus led: Jewish Messianic cults. They were cropping up everywhere at the time, and we have many records from groups which were much less well known than Christianity claimed to be. There is no evidence where we would expect there to be evidence.
Many people conclude that it seems plausible that the historical Jesus was therefore an invention designed to centralize and unify these messianic cult[2]. This is called the Mythicist school of thought. There are also significant problems with the Biblical narrative (beyond the supernatural aspect) that lead us to believe that the events in the gospels never actually happened[3].
Personally, though, I think there was an eccentric preacher by the name of Jesus running around ancient Judea causing trouble and preaching nonsense. Why? Primarily because there were people like that all over the place, as I said earlier. Jewish Messianic cults were not a particularly rare thing at the time and it doesn't stretch credibility to think that the gospels were at least partially based upon a real person.
Secondarily, and I have to give credit to Christopher Hitchens for this, there would be no reason to fabricate the nativity narrative if Jesus wasn't a historical person[4]. The Messiah was prophecized to be many things that Jesus was not (such as a military leader who would unite the nation of Israel), but it was particularly embarrassing that he was well known to have hailed from Nazareth. The Messiah was supposed to be born in the town of David, which was Bethlehem. If there had never been any such historical figure of Jesus, they could simply have written and said that he was born in Bethlehem instead of constructing such historically inaccurate fabrications to try get him to be born there.

1 Bart Ehrman debating Craig Evans on the reliability of the New Testament
2 David Fitzgerald and Nailed
3 Richard Carrier "Did Jesus Exist?"
4 Hitchens on the Historicity of Jesus


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Re: Did Jesus exist? - August 15th 2012, 02:09 PM

I'm inclined to agree with that poster when he said there was probably a guy named Jesus, but that's as far as the extent of my belief reaches. I just find that I simply cannot consider anything in the Bible aside from its references to historical places that are known from archaeology as credible. It's simply a volume of collected myths, stories, fables and legends, nothing more.


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Re: Did Jesus exist? - August 15th 2012, 08:12 PM

Considering Nazareth probably wasn't a city around the time of Christ's birth, I'd have to go with no. That is, the Jesus of Nazareth that the bible speaks of.

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Re: Did Jesus exist? - August 15th 2012, 08:19 PM

The question that always springs to mind when this argument is raised is this: why would an itinerant preacher, believed to be no more than the son of a carpenter, claiming to be the son of the Jewish god and preaching a message of forgiveness and compassion be of any interest whatsoever to contemporary writers in Rome and other overseas territories? In particular, why would it be of any interest to Philo of Alexandria visiting Jerusalem in c.40CE, some ten years after the believed year of Jesus' execution, or to Justus of Tiberias whose works concerned the First Jewish-Roman War and the kings of Israel, neither of which Jesus would fall into? The popular conception of the Jewish Messiah was that he would be a military figure, a conquering hero who would vanquish the enemies of the Israelities, as shown by the fact that the vast majority of claimants featured violent uprisings of one sort or another. Jesus' mission distinctly lacks any such elements (unless you count the Temple incident but that's comparative small fry next to a full-blown insurrection) and so such accounts would overlook him altogether - particularly given that in such a light, Jesus' messianic mission was a total failure. It's only under the depiction of the Messiah in the Psalms of Solomon that Jesus even remotely fits the bill, and that isn't a particularly appealing interpretation in a contemporary context. At the time of his death, Jesus was likely regarded as little more than an upstart Rabbi struck down by the Roman authorities, and given how frequently that probably occurred there is no reason for him to pique anyone's interest. The first references to Christianity in works such as those by Josephus and later Tacitus - the latter being perhaps more significant as he had no sympathy whatsoever to early Christianity - coincide instead with Christianity starting to emerge as a Jewish sect in Rome, and later separating from Judaism to become a standalone belief system. That is a far more significant event from a Roman perspective. To give a contemporary comparison - perhaps a flawed one, but it works up to a point - it's akin to most people not giving a damn about L. Ron Hubbard's writings on Scientology until Tom Cruise joins them.

Aside from that, the issue of why the gospels weren't written down until some decades after Jesus' death is perhaps best explained by the prevalence of oral tradition over writing - to say nothing of the expense of scribes - and the preservation of such tradition in writing only becoming a necessity once the original apostles start dying. The post is also notable for its liberal use of weasel words - "thought by scholars", "Many people" etc. - which undermines its effectiveness somewhat, plus no clarification of where evidence for Christianity is "expected" to be (a somewhat curious statement from an archaeological perspective, it has to be said).

Anyway, I'm ranting now. My position on the topic is that Jesus did exist, was a preacher of some description in Judea around 30CE, and was executed by the authorities for some form of treason. Anything beyond that, particularly claims of divinity, are a matter of personal opinion and while I as a Christian do believe them I don't expect that to convince other people in the slightest.


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Re: Did Jesus exist? - August 15th 2012, 09:52 PM

I've always sort of believed the Bible to be a collection of stories with morals behind them. A way to teach people how to live, not to steal, not to kill eachother, monogamy and all that. Whether Jesus was real or not is a question that I've never really been bother by because quite frankly I've never really cared. But I think the idea of it being based entirely on fact is about as likely as Lord of the Rings being a true story.
Maybe parts of it are loosly based on something that may have happened, but I really don't think a guy named Jesus went around doing all the things he's said to have done.


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Re: Did Jesus exist? - August 16th 2012, 02:34 AM

I believe there was a man named Jesus who was born at the city of David. That's where my belief ends and speculation begins. Perhaps he was a model citizen who was helpful in some way and/or well-respected amongst the poor, resulting in his name being documented with very few details, resulting in different people trying to forge what they believed to be the correct story. They may have tossed in their own personal views of a subject as well. A group of wealthier people wrote down these stories (assuming the poorer ones didn't know how to read or write), captured the interest of many and used it to control the citizens by creating fables with set morals as well as statements that were considered to be laws.


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Re: Did Jesus exist? - August 16th 2012, 03:39 AM

@dr2005, the video with David Fitzgerald linked in the OP answers a lot of the points you brought up in your post. Although it's almost an hour long and Fitzgerald's style of delivery is mumbly and stammery, it's nevertheless an interesting watch.


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Re: Did Jesus exist? - August 16th 2012, 03:49 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by dr2005 View Post
The question that always springs to mind when this argument is raised is this: why would an itinerant preacher, believed to be no more than the son of a carpenter, claiming to be the son of the Jewish god and preaching a message of forgiveness and compassion be of any interest whatsoever to contemporary writers in Rome and other overseas territories? ........
In my opinion...

A brilliant argument.

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Re: Did Jesus exist? - August 16th 2012, 03:55 AM

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Originally Posted by CanadaCraig View Post
In my opinion...

A brilliant argument.

GBH -
Why do we chronicle anything groups like the WBC, Babbar Khalsa, or any other fringe religious groups? From the onset of academia, we've put value on monitoring social and religious trends.


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Re: Did Jesus exist? - August 16th 2012, 05:49 PM

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Originally Posted by strange_quark View Post
@dr2005, the video with David Fitzgerald linked in the OP answers a lot of the points you brought up in your post. Although it's almost an hour long and Fitzgerald's style of delivery is mumbly and stammery, it's nevertheless an interesting watch.
Watched it (well, about two-thirds anyway before I started losing the will to live...) - it doesn't. He provides no explanation, for example, why a minority sect of a minority religion (as much in Roman times as is the case now) would attract any attention from contemporary historians, nor any of the related points I make, and up to the point where I gave up he made no reference to the oral tradition and the general lack of literacy in 1st century society or where such evidence for Christianity is "expected" to be. In contrast, he made a number of comments which nearly made me fall off my chair: For example:

- Jesus is referred to as "supposedly the most influential person in human history." Eh? I'm not sure even the Pope would go that far. Quite a few contenders for that title, particularly if you come from the East...

- Claims that "first census took place in 6 AD" - No, it didn't. Augustus called many censii of various territories during his reign, including 3 in Rome alone of which 2 were well before 6 AD. Pretty significant clanger to drop.

- Claims that upon Jesus' arrival at Jerusalem, the "entire town welcomes him as king" - I've never seen ANY of the Gospel narratives claim the entire city of Jerusalem went out to greet him. Considering his whole argument is based on such statements of "fact", this isn't going very well.

- Refers to the 1st century as "one of the best historical documented periods that we know in history"? Really? Better than the entire Renaissance, or indeed the 19th and 20th centuries? I smell bullshit - particularly given the Jewish temple, and all its records, went up in flames c.70CE.

- At least three of the "contemporary historians" he mentioned were born after Jesus' apparent execution date. Epictetus was born in 55CE, Martial in 40CE while Juvenal's date of birth is lost to history (so much for "one of the best historical documented periods"...) but is likely to be contemporaneous with Martial's. Of the others, there is no evidence that either Seneca visited Judea, that Philo of Alexandria (a city in Egypt and not Israel, lest we forget) was in the area around the time of Jesus' ministry (his sole recorded visit to Jersulaem, specifically the Temple, was 10 years later), or indeed that ANY of the historians would have been active in the area at that time. Any accounts of such happenings in the area would therefore be at least second-hand, if not third, fourth or fifth-hand by the time they reached Rome or their respective territories, and would likely be dismissed out of hand in the same way most tabloid stories are by their readers.

- He mentions Book 18, Chapter 3 of Josephus' "Antiquity of the Jews" - admittedly the most contentious reference of the lot, given evidence of doctoring - without mentioning either that Book 20 Chapter 9 (referring to Jesus' brother James) and Book 18 Chapter 5 (referring to John the Baptist's imprisonment and execution) are considered authentic, or that Book 18 Chapter 3's reference to Jesus being executed by Pilate is generally considered to be authentic once the glaring alterations are removed - tonally and content-wise, it fits with the remainder of his work and his style.

- He makes no mention of the Q document, despite it being regarded as a shared source of Matthew and Luke's gospels.

I pretty much gave up after that, as the above issues already holed his credibility below the waterline for me, but suffice it to say I expect the remainder shared similar problems.

Moral of the story: accepting any individual account on a subject at face value, without source checking, is poor form. Mr Fitzgerald was playing to the crowd (let's be honest, it was called "Skepticon 3" - hardly a bastion of impartiality on the subject of religion...) and in so doing did very little to address any of the points I made. If, owing to lack of attention towards the end, I have overlooked any response he made then I offer my apologies and would ask that you bring it to my (and by definition the thread's) attention.

As an aside, that's an hour of my life I'll never get back...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Toz View Post
Why do we chronicle anything groups like the WBC, Babbar Khalsa, or any other fringe religious groups? From the onset of academia, we've put value on monitoring social and religious trends.
Two points. One, how are you defining the "onset of academia"? Academia as we understand it - universities, concerted empirical study etc. - only really came into existence during the build-up to the Renaissance (in Europe at least) and was focused on the seven liberal arts predominantly. Sociology as we understand it (which I believe is what you are referring to but please correct me if I'm wrong) is a relatively recent phenomenon - sociologist thought has existed much longer, granted, but as more of a fringe practice rather than a concerted undertaking. Two, we chronicle such groups probably as much out of increased awareness as anything else - with exchange of information and knowledge quicker and more straightforward than in antiquity - by several orders of magnitude - there's more scope for such groups to (a) become known of and (b) attract serious academic interest. No comparable situation is known of in 1st century Europe, or indeed much of the first millennium CE.


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If you're referring to dr2005's response, it's not complex, however, he has a way with words .
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Re: Did Jesus exist? - August 17th 2012, 12:04 AM

Have you got sources for any of those, Dave?

I'd rather not get into semantics, though to clarify my point, what I meant was that as soon as we could (some would point to the agricultural revolution and the "leisure time" it granted our species), we've taken it upon ourselves to observe the world around us. So purely from that desire to chronicle life and events around us, a practice that stretches well beyond the advent of Christianity, one would make it an interest to chronicle the uprising of an influential rabbi in Israel at the time. I'm not quite sure what you mean by this portion:

Quote:
Two, we chronicle such groups probably as much out of increased awareness as anything else - with exchange of information and knowledge quicker and more straightforward than in antiquity - by several orders of magnitude - there's more scope for such groups to (a) become known of and (b) attract serious academic interest. No comparable situation is known of in 1st century Europe, or indeed much of the first millennium CE.
I would think that there are several comparable situations- the rise and founding of Sikhism, just off the top of my head.

I would also seek to disagree with your claim that Jesus Christ was not the most influential person in recorded history. Let's put aside the mere fact that Christian thought and practice has spread to all parts of the globe, and look at the pure cultural hegemony of Christianity. On one level, here in America, you have communities that may be predominantly Muslim- parts of Michigan come to mind- but they still go out of their way to observe Christian holidays and cultural practices. While I admit that part of this can be attributed to cultural integration, that doesn't deter from the fact that Christ and his aura of influence is felt in an entirely different, albeit related religion. To look elsewhere in the global theatre, India has a roughly 2% Christian population. Of those, mostly Catholics. Yet go anywhere in India with an urban concentration of people, and you will find the same thing you do in the aforementioned Muslim areas in America.


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Re: Did Jesus exist? - August 19th 2012, 07:36 PM

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Originally Posted by strange_quark View Post
I'm inclined to agree with that poster when he said there was probably a guy named Jesus, but that's as far as the extent of my belief reaches. I just find that I simply cannot consider anything in the Bible aside from its references to historical places that are known from archaeology as credible. It's simply a volume of collected myths, stories, fables and legends, nothing more.
This.

I believe that Jesus, Muhammad, Sidhartha, and many other important figures in various faiths existed, but I highly doubt the divinity or religiosity of them. Stories have a way of becoming exaggerated, bloated and twisted over time, and it wouldn't surprise me if the stories of these prophets and religious forefathers were given such a treatment.


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Re: Did Jesus exist? - August 20th 2012, 08:23 PM

I believe Jesus was probably a man who existed, but nothing beyond that. I don't think he was all high and mighty. I'm an atheist.


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Re: Did Jesus exist? - August 22nd 2012, 09:47 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Toz View Post
Have you got sources for any of those, Dave?


Sorry it's taken a while to reply. They're mostly Wiki articles, albeit with references, so hopefully they will suffice:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Census of Quirinius - The Census
Augustus is known to have taken a census of Roman citizens at least three times, in 28 BC, 8 BC, and 14.
Source

The rest are probably best bulleted, as they're more straightforward points:
If I've missed any let me know - most of this week I've been a little lacking in the sleep department...


Quote:
Originally Posted by Toz View Post
I'd rather not get into semantics, though to clarify my point, what I meant was that as soon as we could (some would point to the agricultural revolution and the "leisure time" it granted our species), we've taken it upon ourselves to observe the world around us. So purely from that desire to chronicle life and events around us, a practice that stretches well beyond the advent of Christianity, one would make it an interest to chronicle the uprising of an influential rabbi in Israel at the time.


The question is, though, how significant or influential would Jesus be to the populace of Israel at the time? From the perspective of the Jewish people, he would likely be viewed as little more than an off-piste, possibly heretical itinerant preacher executed for blasphemy. From the perspective of the Romans, he'd be just another upstart Jew executed along with all the other convicts. Christianity only really gained any significance from either perspective several decades after Jesus' death - up to that point, there is no real logical reason for him to attract attention. I may be missing something here, in which case feel free to elaborate why you believe the itinerant son of a Judean carpenter would gather much attention (particularly if the accounts of the miracles are only relayed second or third-hand, as per my previous post), but at present it seems like an a posteriori reading of history along the lines of "his religion is significant, therefore he must have been".

Quote:
Originally Posted by Toz View Post
I would think that there are several comparable situations- the rise and founding of Sikhism, just off the top of my head.


Sikhism was founded in the 15th century, and its rise to prominence came (arguably) with the tenth Guru in the 17th century (Source), both of which as you already know are some way after the 1st century and indeed the 1st millennium. Different time, different levels of awareness. Europe had been through the Renaissance, for example.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Toz View Post
I would also seek to disagree with your claim that Jesus Christ was not the most influential person in recorded history. Let's put aside the mere fact that Christian thought and practice has spread to all parts of the globe, and look at the pure cultural hegemony of Christianity. On one level, here in America, you have communities that may be predominantly Muslim- parts of Michigan come to mind- but they still go out of their way to observe Christian holidays and cultural practices. While I admit that part of this can be attributed to cultural integration, that doesn't deter from the fact that Christ and his aura of influence is felt in an entirely different, albeit related religion. To look elsewhere in the global theatre, India has a roughly 2% Christian population. Of those, mostly Catholics. Yet go anywhere in India with an urban concentration of people, and you will find the same thing you do in the aforementioned Muslim areas in America.
I fear this is more evidence of conflation of the figure of Jesus Christ and the religion bearing his name than of claims for him to be the most significant figure in human history - and I say this as a Christian. If we are to take it in terms of pure sphere of influence, Peter and Paul both did more to shape and spread Christianity than Jesus, particularly given the role the Catholic Church went on to play (both good and ill) in subsequent European history. It comes down to whether you place more importance on the originator of such ideas or the propagator of them. To take another example, Karl Marx and Vladimir Lenin between them laid the foundations of what became the Soviet model of communism, yet in terms of the history of the Soviet Union neither of them would necessarily be considered the most significant figure. From a historical perspective, I would imagine most would plump for Joseph Stalin. Likewise, almost no one remembers the founders of the DAP which subsequently became the NSDAP, but everyone remembers Adolf Hitler. (Admittedly comparing Jesus with two 20th century dictators is probably bordering on the heretical, but in the context of this debate it seems to work. Let's just hope I don't get smited for it. )


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Re: Did Jesus exist? - August 24th 2012, 12:32 AM

I'm going to jump around a bit in my attempt to address your points.

First off, I want to say that while I really enjoy reading your posts, and conversing with you, you don't have to interject your replies with the same snarky comments you complain atheists make.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dr2005
The question is, though, how significant or influential would Jesus be to the populace of Israel at the time? From the perspective of the Jewish people, he would likely be viewed as little more than an off-piste, possibly heretical itinerant preacher executed for blasphemy. From the perspective of the Romans, he'd be just another upstart Jew executed along with all the other convicts. Christianity only really gained any significance from either perspective several decades after Jesus' death - up to that point, there is no real logical reason for him to attract attention. I may be missing something here, in which case feel free to elaborate why you believe the itinerant son of a Judean carpenter would gather much attention (particularly if the accounts of the miracles are only relayed second or third-hand, as per my previous post), but at present it seems like an a posteriori reading of history along the lines of "his religion is significant, therefore he must have been".
I'm not sure why this is even a question. It's what academics do. They observe and record events around them. And out of any numerous prolific contemporary profilers, none of them make any mention of Jesus Christ. Philo of Alexandria was a Jewish philosopher who had a vested interest in offshoot sects. Something as allegedly influential and moving as the uprising of Christ would have undoubtedly captured his attention. He's even known to have lived around Jerusalem at the time, and mentioned Pontius Pilate in his writing. Yet nary a mention of Jesus Christ.

Another example is Pliny the Elder, who wrote about science and natural phenomena, but his 37 volume "Natural History" makes no mention of a rabbi in Jerusalem who could walk on water.

source: http://www.ebonmusings.org/atheism/camel1.html
Quote:
Originally Posted by dr2005
- Claims that "first census took place in 6 AD- No, it didn't.
First line.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Census_of_Quirinius
Quote:
Originally Posted by dr2005
- Refers to the 1st century as "one of the best historical documented periods that we know in history"? Really? Better than the entire Renaissance, or indeed the 19th and 20th centuries? I smell bullshit - particularly given the Jewish temple, and all its records, went up in flames c.70CE.
I would disagree. It was a time of tumultuous change in many parts of the world. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1st_century Also, you would think that a person who is a historian at a major university has more familiarity with credible historical sources than you or I, but I don't want to sit and make an argument from authority.
Quote:
Originally Posted by dr2005 View Post
- Claims that upon Jesus' arrival at Jerusalem, the "entire town welcomes him as king" - I've never seen ANY of the Gospel narratives claim the entire city of Jerusalem went out to greet him. Considering his whole argument is based on such statements of "fact", this isn't going very well.
And I quote:
Quote:
As they proceeded to Jerusalem, they were accompanied by a crowd familiar with Christ’s miracle of raising Lazarus (Jn 12:17-18), and were met by another multitude coming out of the city of Jerusalem, which went before Him (Mt 21:9). Both groups outdid themselves in honoring Jesus, laying their garments on the ground for the beasts to travel over and cutting down branches from trees and spreading them in a festive way along the road. John alone mentions that the branches were from palm trees. Although they were treating Jesus as their King, in keeping with the meaning of the triumphal entry, it seems clear that they did so with only partial understanding. John comments, “These things understood not his disciples at the first: but when Jesus was glorified, then remembered they that these things were written of him, and that they had done these things unto him” (Jn 12:16).
Source. http://bible.org/seriespage/chapter-...ival-jerusalem
Quote:
Originally Posted by dr2005
He mentions Book 18, Chapter 3 of Josephus' "Antiquity of the Jews" - admittedly the most contentious reference of the lot, given evidence of doctoring - without mentioning either that Book 20 Chapter 9 (referring to Jesus' brother James) and Book 18 Chapter 5 (referring to John the Baptist's imprisonment and execution) are considered authentic, or that Book 18 Chapter 3's reference to Jesus being executed by Pilate is generally considered to be authentic once the glaring alterations are removed - tonally and content-wise, it fits with the remainder of his work and his style.
The essay I linked earlier addresses this part.
Quote:
There is another brief passage in Josephus that mentions Jesus. Antiquities, book 20, chapter 9, contains the following:

"Festus was now dead, and Albinus was put upon the road; so he [Ananus, the Jewish high priest] assembled the sanhedrin of judges, and brought before them the brother of Jesus, him called Christ, whose name was James, and some others. And when he had formed an accusation against them as breakers of the law, he delivered them to be stoned...."
This passage is not as obviously a forgery as the Testimonium Flavianum. However, a more oblique line of attack is possible, which runs as follows:

Josephus was a Jewish historian, but he worked under the sponsorship of the Roman emperor Vespasian; he was writing for a Roman audience. A Roman audience would not have been familiar with the concepts of Jewish messianic expectation, and would not have known what the word "Christ" meant. It would only have confused them if that idea had been thrown in without explanation - and yet, if we reject the Testimonium as the obvious forgery it is, this brief snippet is the only use of the term anywhere in any of Josephus' writings, provided without further elaboration. Since it is highly unlikely that Josephus would have used this term without explaining what it meant, it is therefore probable that this phrase is an interpolation as well.

When we conclude this, several things fall into place. One is the puzzling word order of this paragraph - why would Josephus have thought to mention Jesus first, when the passage is actually about someone else entirely? But it makes perfect sense that a Christian interpolator, consciously or unconsciously, would have given pride of place to his savior's name. Another is the phrasing of the passage. Some have translated the crucial phrase as "the brother of Jesus, the so-called Christ." However, this translation is not supported by the original Greek - in fact, the original Greek words used are identical (except for being in a slightly different case) to the wording of Matthew 1:16.
link: http://www.ebonmusings.org/atheism/camel2.html

Quote:
Originally Posted by dr2005
- He makes no mention of the Q document, despite it being regarded as a shared source of Matthew and Luke's gospels.
If I recall correctly, isn't it under debate, whether or not such a source ever even existed?

Quote:
Originally Posted by dr2005 View Post


Source

The rest are probably best bulleted, as they're more straightforward points:
If I've missed any let me know - most of this week I've been a little lacking in the sleep department...
I will look through these, thank you.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dr2005
Sikhism was founded in the 15th century, and its rise to prominence came (arguably) with the tenth Guru in the 17th century (Source), both of which as you already know are some way after the 1st century and indeed the 1st millennium. Different time, different levels of awareness. Europe had been through the Renaissance, for example.

No need to tell me, I was raised into a Sikh household. For a much earlier example, you may look to Islam and Muhammad's rise.
Quote:
Originally Posted by dr2005
I fear this is more evidence of conflation of the figure of Jesus Christ and the religion bearing his name than of claims for him to be the most significant figure in human history - and I say this as a Christian. If we are to take it in terms of pure sphere of influence, Peter and Paul both did more to shape and spread Christianity than Jesus, particularly given the role the Catholic Church went on to play (both good and ill) in subsequent European history. It comes down to whether you place more importance on the originator of such ideas or the propagator of them. To take another example, Karl Marx and Vladimir Lenin between them laid the foundations of what became the Soviet model of communism, yet in terms of the history of the Soviet Union neither of them would necessarily be considered the most significant figure. From a historical perspective, I would imagine most would plump for Joseph Stalin. Likewise, almost no one remembers the founders of the DAP which subsequently became the NSDAP, but everyone remembers Adolf Hitler. (Admittedly comparing Jesus with two 20th century dictators is probably bordering on the heretical, but in the context of this debate it seems to work. Let's just hope I don't get smited for it. )
[/quote]
Call it what you will, but we are discussing his sphere of awareness and influence. There is no other spiritual leader who has the same scope and as many broad levels of influence- from "Jesus is my homeboy" t shirts, to people naming their children after him.


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Re: Did Jesus exist? - August 24th 2012, 04:04 PM

I'm away this weekend so will respond in full in a few days' time. However, there are some things I'd like to address quickly:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Toz View Post
First off, I want to say that while I really enjoy reading your posts, and conversing with you, you don't have to interject your replies with the same snarky comments you complain atheists make.
I must confess I was somewhat surprised by this remark - I was not aware I was making "snarky comments", and it certainly was not my intention. If I have posed a question or request for elaboration, it is intended purely as a question or request for elaboration because I am curious about the answer. That is all.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Toz View Post
I suspect we may have crossed purposes. My understanding of the video was that David Fitzgerald was arguing that no census had taken place at all before 6 AD. As demonstrated in the passage cited, this is incorrect - hence why I challenged it. It also leaves room for the suggestion that a census may have been conducted at Judean level, under Herod, possibly with the assistance of Quirinius, around the time of Jesus' birth of which the records would have been lost with the Second Temple. (It's worth noting that the records of the presumed census in 6/7 AD have not survived either as far as I am aware, so we are talking purely in theoretical terms from the outset) Allow for Luke having erred by saying Quirinius was governor of Syria rather than Galatia (part of modern-day Turkey, so not a million miles off) and the narrative becomes more coherent.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Toz View Post
I would disagree. It was a time of tumultuous change in many parts of the world. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1st_century Also, you would think that a person who is a historian at a major university has more familiarity with credible historical sources than you or I, but I don't want to sit and make an argument from authority.
With respect, that is purely an argument from authority. In light of the omissions and other issues raised in my earlier post, I would have to express some scepticism about the strength of such authority, based on this video at least.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Toz View Post
Crowd =/= whole city. Fitzgerald said, quite clearly, "whole city". Therefore, he is either guilty of hyperbole (which is ill-advised in academia) or quite frankly he is lying. I leave it to personal judgement.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Toz View Post
The essay I linked earlier addresses this part.

link: http://www.ebonmusings.org/atheism/camel2.html
From Wikipedia:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Josephus on Jesus
The overwhelming majority of modern scholars consider the reference in Book 20, Chapter 9, 1 of the Antiquities to "the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James" to be authentic and to have the highest level of authenticity among the references of Josephus to Christianity."
There are six separate sources supporting that statement.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Toz View Post
If I recall correctly, isn't it under debate, whether or not such a source ever even existed?
It is, but the current consensus is in favour of the two-source argument. My point was more that in the context of a discussion of the source of the Gospels, you would have thought he would make some reference to Q, even in passing. In the parts I saw, he made no such reference at all. That raises some questions of its own.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Toz View Post
I will look through these, thank you.
You're welcome.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Toz View Post
No need to tell me, I was raised into a Sikh household. For a much earlier example, you may look to Islam and Muhammad's rise.
Apologies - that was for the benefit of others less familiar with Sikhism. I'll come back to the comparability with Islam later.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Toz View Post
Call it what you will, but we are discussing his sphere of awareness and influence. There is no other spiritual leader who has the same scope and as many broad levels of influence- from "Jesus is my homeboy" t shirts, to people naming their children after him.
Again, I'll come back to this as I'm out of time.


"The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall." - Nelson Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom

However bleak things seem, however insurmountable the darkness appears, remember that you have worth and nothing can take that away.

Quote:
Originally Posted by OMFG!You'reActuallySmart! View Post
If you're referring to dr2005's response, it's not complex, however, he has a way with words .
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