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← Unbelief in the pews

Steven Mading's Avatar Jump to comment 105 by Steven Mading

Comment 58 by Red Dog :

Comment 54 by Steven Mading :

Comment 4 by Red Dog :

" I think Jesus was just a really good salesman."

I'm sorry but that is an incredibly ignorant comment...

That's not the reason why it's wrong to say Jesus was just a really good salesman. The reason it's wrong to say it is that the Jesus historians and scholars claim existed is NOT the one the bible is actually describing,

Well yes and no. Certainly the Jesus in the bible is a creation that has limited resemblance to the historical Jesus. As I've said before the authors of the Gospels never met Jesus and wrote their versions of his life decades after the actual events based on 2nd (or Nnd) hand accounts transmitted through word of mouth. Each author had their own agenda, some to convert Jews, some to convert pagans, etc. and they each tailored the story they told to their agenda. Hence we get contradictory details in the different Gospels about basic facts such as where he was born and how his family came to be there.

However, this is not something that "historians and scholars" don't admit.

I never said it was. Please pay closer attention.

Quite the contrary. In the book Jesus Interrupted Bart Ehrman makes it clear that he didn't learn the basic facts I described in the paragraph above in some secret atheist anti-Jesus camp. He learned them when in a Christian seminary studying to be a Christian minister. Its something that virtually all Christian ministers are taught as part of their education. Its something that any serious historian/scholar of the New Testament takes as a given.

The proof that this is false is that so many still go on to believe Christianity anyway. Clearly they gloss over the important consequence of all this - that it means our evidence of the root core belief of Christianity, that Jesus resurrected and really is the son of god, is just as suspect for exactly the same reason. It was written by the same proven liars who tried to make Jesus's life fit other messianic prophecies, so why believe that particular attempt to make him out to be the messiah?

and therefore the alleged actions of this Jesus according to the bible are immediately suspect. There have been enough proven embellishments in the biblical Jesus character that it calls into question everything the bible claims that Jesus did.

Yes, agreed.

It's not Jesus that was the really good salesman - it was his biographers who wrote the New Testament books who were the good salesmen.

Its impossible to know for sure what the actual Jesus said. However to dismiss the fictional Jesus of the New Testament as just "a good salesmen" displays an amazing ignorance of the history of Western Civilization.

Please pay closer attention. I'm not the one that said that. I was refuting that by pointing out that his biographers were the salesmen.

Its at the same intellectual level as fundamentalist Christians who ignore the evidence of evolution. Please don't confuse this statement with an endorsement of religion or Christianity. Its not. Its just that I try to apply the same standards of objectivity to history, literature, etc. as I do to science and engineering.

We have next to no information whatsoever on the historical Jesus, since the only details we have beyond "some guy matching that description definitely existed" ALL come from the suspect unreliable sources that were collected into the New Testament later, who were known to have lied about some of the details, making everything else they wrote about Jesus questionable. Did he really say all those things about the poor, about the sick, about love thy neighbor? His biographers want you to believe he did. That's the only evidence we have.

I think "no information" is a bit extreme. There have been scholars who have researched the Gospels and other relevant texts (e.g. the writings of Jewish historian Josephus, the Gnostic gospels)

The Josephus reference is literally two short paragraphs long. That does tell you next to nothing other than that the biblical character was probably inspired by a real person of the same name.

and have developed various hypothesis as to who the actual Jesus was. I do agree that the best we can do is to come up with plausible hypotheses, nothing close to certain knowledge. Besides Ehrman's writings some of the books I found to be most interesting include the works of Elaine Pagels, the book The Passover Plot (although its a bit far fetched in places) and the book Jesus A Revolutionary Biography. The consensus that I've seen is that Jesus was probably a leader in a Jewish cult known as the Essenes.

However, I don't think it really matters all that much. What parts of Plato's dialogues were actually things Socrates said and what were things Plato made up and had Socrates say? There are different theories there as well but to me the interesting thing in both cases are the actual words and the incredible impact on Western Thought they have had. And I would no more dismiss the Jesus of the new testament as "just a salesman" then I would dismiss the Socrates of Plato's dialogues as just a dirty poof who liked to seduce young boys.

Your analogy is massively flawed because nothing Socrates or Plato said was presented as "this is correct because of who I am who is saying it", while with plenty of the things attributed to Jesus it really IS highly relevant if he was really the one that said it or not. This difference is especially important in the context of the Lord/Lunatic/Liar point to which I was responding in my post that you replied to. The claims about Jesus not being capable of being insane and acting like he did as being proof he was who he said he was are totally dependent on presuming Jesus actually is the one who said what his biographers claimed he said. He might not have been nearly as insane as the quotes attributed to him make him out to be, for example, if he never actually said those things.

Sun, 22 Apr 2012 12:55:24 UTC | #936451