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← For scholars, a combustible question: Was Christ real?

For scholars, a combustible question: Was Christ real? - Comments

Chris Roberts's Avatar Comment 1 by Chris Roberts

An interesting article, but nothing new unfortunately.

The results stunned – and angered – millions. The scholars decided Jesus uttered just 31 sayings, or 18 per cent of what is attributed to him in the Bible. A similar rate was found for the deeds ascribed to him: Just 29 of 176 acts were certain or likely.

The Seminar also rejected the very foundations of Christianity: There was no virgin birth, no resurrection or transfiguration, and Jesus performed no miracles. He was little more than an itinerant Jewish sage who preached a social gospel using parables and aphorisms.

The truth hurts, doesn't it?
The sooner these guys (the general population that is) wake up and smell the coffee, the better for us all.

he project aims to examine and date all relevant sources – not just the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, but also the Dead Sea Scrolls, found in 1948, and the "lost" or Gnostic Gospels, unearthed at Nag Hamada, Egypt in 1945, and which depict a very different Jesus than the New Testament.

One set of resources I would loveto know more about, if only I had the time and the resources.....

There's one sure thing in a field fraught with uncertainty: This won't be the final word on the subject.

Only if they conclude he didn't exist....

Mon, 29 Dec 2008 11:06:00 UTC | #293353

Vaal's Avatar Comment 2 by Vaal

So, is David Robertson one of the scholars?

Will it conflict with his new book? :)

EDIT: Be interesting to see what the conclusions are, if they are really serious about the historical Jesus.

Mon, 29 Dec 2008 11:07:00 UTC | #293354

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 3 by Steve Zara

There was a great comment recently about this on the site "reddit"..

"There are plenty of people around called Bruce, but that does not mean Batman exists".

Mon, 29 Dec 2008 11:10:00 UTC | #293357

Mr0Joshua's Avatar Comment 4 by Mr0Joshua

Ah! the perfect article to plug my cafe press bumper sticker.
"Jesus is a fictional character." (
And as to the article: Has anyone read the Tom Harpur book referred to, The Pagan Christ? Is it worth a look?

Mon, 29 Dec 2008 11:18:00 UTC | #293363

Mr Jaguar's Avatar Comment 5 by Mr Jaguar

I think there is plausable lack-of-evedence that the 'dude' didn't exsist, but even if this effort concludes he didn't, it still brings more attention to his persona than needed. And the belivers will take the news as more fuel for their resolve. I would still find it interesting though.

What did Richard say? "Faith is the great cop-out, the great excuse to evade the need to think and evaluate evidence. Faith is belief in spite of, even perhaps because of, the LACK of evidence.”

Mon, 29 Dec 2008 11:18:00 UTC | #293364

jshuey's Avatar Comment 6 by jshuey

I tend to accept his existence, if only for the triangulation factor: the sudden appearance and growth of "disciples", christian communities spread far and wide, the various and varied gospels, etc.

With all the other "saviors" already present in the ancient Mediterranean world, there was no need for a new one unless rooted in some sort of historic probability.

What his eventual followers did to (about?) him (See Fredriksen's, "From Jesus to Christ") is another matter altogether.

Mon, 29 Dec 2008 11:58:00 UTC | #293380

NewEnglandBob's Avatar Comment 7 by NewEnglandBob


Mon, 29 Dec 2008 12:19:00 UTC | #293384

epeeist's Avatar Comment 8 by epeeist

Comment #308060 by Steve Zara:

"There are plenty of people around called Bruce, but that does not mean Batman exists".
Exactly, note the title For scholars, a combustible question: Was Christ real and the last sentence of the first paragraph Did Jesus exist? , two questions not one and both requiring evidence.

Mon, 29 Dec 2008 12:20:00 UTC | #293385

chewedbarber's Avatar Comment 9 by chewedbarber

Even so, the Jesus Project is proceeding from point zero, billing itself as "the first methodologically agnostic approach" to the question of Jesus's historical existence. It promises "the most rigorous methods, data, and open debate."

So, wait a freaking minute, all of Christianity has proceeded for all of over two thousand years, and this is the first fucking time anybody has bothered to rigorously investigate whether the supposed founder of the religion even existed?

Oh for fucks sake, the fact that we even have to ask sinks Christianity, how far is this investigation going to go!?

Mon, 29 Dec 2008 12:26:00 UTC | #293387

PeterMcKellar's Avatar Comment 10 by PeterMcKellar

The main article, to me, is really just describing the systematic dismantling of the whole abrahamic fiction - and really just a formal verdict on what we already know. The wackaloons seem to discount irrefutable evidence and argument in favour of majority vote, so the more of these reports that are produced, the better - but the issue has already been long settled.

I did however have problems with the Clive James article in the link attached. Whilst it was your standard apologetics, I find it hard to be too critical of Clive - he is a fellow aussie and I've enjoyed so many of his pieces. He does however highlight the lingering canker that is the Jesus concept. The sooner people understand he is just an icon, we can go back to harmless icons, rule of just law, evidence based medicine etc.

What offended most was not Clive's writing, but the "selected" comments - all lovey-dovey pandering without a single dissenting voice, when I suspect that there was a deluge of negative comments, and no apparent way to submit my own.

Mon, 29 Dec 2008 12:33:00 UTC | #293390

nalfeshnee's Avatar Comment 11 by nalfeshnee

What the FSM is a "combustible question"?

Do they perhaps mean 'incendiary'?

Mon, 29 Dec 2008 12:40:00 UTC | #293392

rodviking's Avatar Comment 12 by rodviking

For those thinking that this study would make the slightest difference for the average Christian, or for pretty much any Christian: it won't. Not even a scratch. There are tons of books out there showing clearly that the Christ myth is just a shuffle of older myths from Egypt etc, and it just doesn't make a flying difference..people who believe in virginal births and zombies don't care about evidence or scientific enquiry.

Mon, 29 Dec 2008 12:56:00 UTC | #293396

nalfeshnee's Avatar Comment 13 by nalfeshnee

After 2,000 years, Jesus remains "the most fascinating figure of Western civilization,"

I can't see what's fascinating about a figurehead for the philosophies of Paul of Tarsus.

Mon, 29 Dec 2008 13:01:00 UTC | #293398

Shane McKee's Avatar Comment 14 by Shane McKee

Personally I think it's a fair question, but (as A.N. Wilson said in that C4 documentary on Christmas night - Decoding the Nativity, I think) a search for "the" historical Jesus is a wild goose chase - there is no way of testing the hypotheses that we might throw up (unless we find a body - then it's game on). There are no records from the time, assuming the gospels even got it partially correct means that his family took his body back to some arse-end of nowhere in Galilee for definitive burial, and at any rate, he was not a significant personage in his lifetime. There were dozens of these eschatological miracle workers riding into Jerusalem on donkeys back then. And rising from the dead too - that was no big deal back then. Even John the Baptist was able to do it - and they cut his head off!

Clive did make some errors in his (interesting) article. The story of the "woman taken in adultery" was not in the original gospel of John, but was added a lot later by a different author. In all likelihood, it is a story of a different preacher (Honi the "Circle Drawer", who used to scribble in the sand, as in the story) that was tacked on, because it suited the purposes of some scribe or other. The "great moral teacher" stuff about Jesus is simply generations of straightforward humanism that has become tacked on to an artist's dummy.

I hope Bart Ehrman is on the panel, because I imagine he'll tell them they're wasting their time, and they may as well pack up, go home, and get real jobs.

Mon, 29 Dec 2008 13:11:00 UTC | #293400

Steven Mading's Avatar Comment 15 by Steven Mading

One of the things I find most frustrating about those who debate this subject is that the phrase "historical Jesus" does a pretty shitty job of differentiating the fictional character called Jesus from the actual person upon whom the fictional story could have been based. It doesn't seem to really get the point home that the answer to the question "did Jesus actually exist" is properly "the question can't be answered until you tell me which attributes you are claiming this Jesus had. If you mean did a person exist who did all the things the Jesus character in the bible did, then the answer is No - that Jesus didn't exist. But if you mean did a person exist who did a few of the things the Jesus character in the bible did, then probably yes - but I won't commit an answer until you stop waffling and tell me exactly WHICH of the bits of the biblical character you are claiming this historical Jesus had. If you have a pick-and-choose cherry-picked version of Jesus you want to claim existed, then you've got to tell me first which cherry-picked bits you're talking about or I don't know if the Jesus you're talking about is the existant one or part of the propagandistic myth that's been built up.

Mon, 29 Dec 2008 13:14:00 UTC | #293401

Koreman's Avatar Comment 16 by Koreman

Off topic, George Carlin December 2007 huge interview online:

Mon, 29 Dec 2008 13:19:00 UTC | #293403

mdowe's Avatar Comment 17 by mdowe

the new quest will only succeed only if it is "open to the clear historical presence of Jesus in the New Testament, the earliest documents about him."

What a revealing quote. The *whole point* of the exercise is to determine whether there is "a clear history presence" of Jesus in the New Testament or anywhere else. But as we have come to expect from religious nuts, Dr. Bozo lays out his condition for success right at the start -- that they only reach the conclusion he wants. Professor or not, what a dipshit.

Mon, 29 Dec 2008 13:31:00 UTC | #293406

Stafford Gordon's Avatar Comment 18 by Stafford Gordon

I note that even before they've started they've lost their marbles.

Mon, 29 Dec 2008 13:36:00 UTC | #293410

Chayanov's Avatar Comment 19 by Chayanov

Well, let's see. As far as I'm aware, there's zero archaeological evidence that Jesus existed. Theologians have absolutely nothing to bring to the table except their made-up fantasies. What's left?

Mon, 29 Dec 2008 13:50:00 UTC | #293419

3balhorangi's Avatar Comment 20 by 3balhorangi

I'm surprised there is still any question of the historicity of Jesus. See the early-20th century book by John Remsberg "The Christ" (link, which covers all the literary evidence (Josephus, Tacitus, etc.) and does a thorough job pointing out contradictions in the Gospels and Acts--was he born in a stable or in a house? in Bethlehem or Nazareth? (the latter town probably didn't exist until after 70 ME). What are the names of the Apostles? (the lists aren't the same). Just who were the High Priests at the time of the Crucifixion? and so forth.

Down here in North Carolina we don't worship graven images, we worship a book, and Remsberg's book is the antidote we need. There isn't a dime's worth of historical fact in the whole New Testament.

Mon, 29 Dec 2008 13:56:00 UTC | #293424

gazzaofbath's Avatar Comment 21 by gazzaofbath

This question has been looked at a number of times - the problem for real historians is that there is no direct evidence from the period of his life or just after apart from the obviously biased NT and a couple of contraversial (possibly forged) mentions in Josephus' works (a Jewish-Roman historian slightly after the supposed time of Jesus). So a historian just wouldn't have the evidence to say for sure one way or the other.

I'm agnositc (!) on the historical existence of Jesus. The main evidence is a 'no smoke without fire' argument. So I suppose a teacher that inspired some loyalty among some Jews possibly did exist around 30AD - but no one knows for sure.

Mon, 29 Dec 2008 14:12:00 UTC | #293431

Shuggy's Avatar Comment 22 by Shuggy

At exactly what point did the doctrine of God as Loving Heavenly Father arise? Was it Jesus or Paul? If Jesus, then his historicity may be of some interest. Otherwise, Jesus the man is of hardly any historical interest whatever.

Mon, 29 Dec 2008 15:40:00 UTC | #293504

Daniella's Avatar Comment 23 by Daniella

What evidence?
They are giving the gospels way too much credit.
Conveniently, the only references to jesus in the 1st Century is in Christian literature written some 50 odd years after he died. Most of the gospels contradict one another and seem to be opportunely padded out to incorporate prophecies from the Old Testament.
For being the supposed son of god (and/or god himself – however that works), jesus was surprisingly illiterate and lacking in foresight. Didn't he think it would be important to write some of his teachings down? Well, apparently nobody else did at the time either.

Hoffman replies that even the fiercest critics of Christianity have viewed the historical Jesus, or traditions and myths about him, as essentially benign or even beneficial.

Um ... no... I wouldn’t call his position on eternal damnation, his hostility toward people with different beliefs, his promise of ‘end times’ and the apocalypse (which some people are still waiting for with delight and anticipation),and his anti-intellectualism benign or even beneficial.

I sincerely hope that tax payers are not funding this bullshit.

Mon, 29 Dec 2008 16:37:00 UTC | #293530

robotaholic's Avatar Comment 24 by robotaholic

After 2,000 years, Jesus remains "the most fascinating figure of Western civilization

seems boring as heck to me- *yawn*

Mon, 29 Dec 2008 16:47:00 UTC | #293534

Ed-words's Avatar Comment 25 by Ed-words

" What does R. Dawkins think?" you ask.

The God Delusion - p.97

"It is even possible to mount a serious,though not widely supported, historical case that Jesus never lived at all..."

"Although Jesus PROBABLY existed, . . ."

Mon, 29 Dec 2008 16:58:00 UTC | #293541

Metch's Avatar Comment 26 by Metch

I hate Jesus. If he comes back I'm going to punch him in the ear.

Mon, 29 Dec 2008 16:59:00 UTC | #293542

Ed-words's Avatar Comment 27 by Ed-words

Metch #26

J.C. would tear you apart!

Mon, 29 Dec 2008 17:29:00 UTC | #293544

mordacious1's Avatar Comment 28 by mordacious1


Why the ear? I would go for his side if I were you, I understand he had a previous injury there.

Mon, 29 Dec 2008 17:56:00 UTC | #293549

Roland_F's Avatar Comment 29 by Roland_F

. . . the "lost" or Gnostic Gospels, unearthed at Nag Hamada, Egypt in 1945, and which depict a very different Jesus than the New Testament. . . . One set of resources I would love to know more about, if only I had the time and the resources.....

You can research tons of early Christian (Gnostic) text under ,
the full Nag Hamada Library is available (for free) here:
(how complete ???) Dead Sea scrolls here:
And as to the article: Has anyone read the Tom Harpur book referred to, The Pagan Christ? Is it worth a look?

The 1 hour BBC film about the Pagan Christ is more interesting. The book is not really deeply focusing on the 180 Horus attributes taken over from Christianity (‘the way, the light ….) the miracles (healing the sick, walking on water….) the circumstances of birth (born of a virgin, in a manger . . .) the circumstances of death (crucified in-between 2 other criminals, resurrected after 3 days . . .) plus the last supper of Osiris at Eastern, the betrayel etc... Most of the book is about “the Christ inside you” of Gnosticism everyone is his own God etc. more similar to Buddhism, and Tom Harpur is lamenting that this Gnosticism was suppressed from the winning orthodox Christian teaching.

Mon, 29 Dec 2008 18:15:00 UTC | #293563

notsobad's Avatar Comment 30 by notsobad

nothing new then

Mon, 29 Dec 2008 18:42:00 UTC | #293581