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The Historical Jesus - Comments

Tord M's Avatar Comment 1 by Tord M

Only Dawkins himself can answer that question.

But my opinion is that Jesus is a mythical figure, just like Robin Hood. We don't know if Robin Hood really existed, but we do know that most of the stories about him are legends and myths that has largely been made up or assembled from other legends and myths, some of them possibly originating from real events. But so much has been rewritten and changed trough history, that whatever truth there was in it to begin with, has become lost or inseparable from the myths.

It's quite likely that some of the stories about Jesus originate from factual events. But it's also certain that many of the stories can't be true. Virgin birth, resurrection, magical healing just can't be true. But just as there are magicians today, who can convincingly make us believe they are actually sawing a woman in half, there were conjurers two thousand years ago who could convincingly perform the act of "healing" what looked like terminal illness. Or making water into wine, just like a magician pulls rabbits out of hats today. There were hoaxters around at that time too, and they were just as convincing as they are today. And they made people believe they really had the power to do the things they were pretending to do.

There were probably also great moral thinkers or teachers around too (some of them probably deluded or megalomaniacs, just as today). It's not impossible that someone actually performed Sermons on the Mount. And it's not impossible that such people gained a following of disciples. Some of them might have been genuinely good thinkers and moral models.

The Jesus we read about in The New Testament is probably a mixture or concoction of mythical and actual events, assembled, interpreted, misinterpreted and embellish by it's authors. If there ever existed a person called "Jesus of Nazareth", we can be quite sure his life and deeds were very different from what is written in the Bible, for good or worse.

And many of the legends about Jesus are obviously inspired by other religious figures, like Osiris, Apollonius, Mithras and others.

So there is no reason to believe in literacy of the Bible or the historical existence of Jesus as portrayed in the Bible. Robin Hood and Jesus are mythical figures, and they actually resemble each other in many ways. They are constructed idols. Some of the building blocks that went into their construction might have a historical origins, but so much has been changed, expanded and rewritten in the mean time, that it is no longer possible to extract any meaningfull or valid historical facts from these legends. They are now just legends.

Updated: Fri, 02 Jul 2010 00:41:23 UTC | #485630

NakedCelt's Avatar Comment 2 by NakedCelt

Hoo boy. Here we go...

Fri, 02 Jul 2010 02:35:29 UTC | #485653

Zakie Chan's Avatar Comment 3 by Zakie Chan

I'm pretty sure Dawkins accepts that there was a historical Jesus. Though, I am not sure why it matters. He is a biologist, not an ancient historian.

As for historians, the VAST, OVERWHELMING majority of scholars agree that Jesus was a historical figure. This is not just the party line from conservative scholars, but is accepted by moderate and liberal scholars as well. Actually, I only know of two modern historians who even entertain the idea that Jesus was mythical (Robert Price and Richard Carrier). Both of which whose arguments have failed to convince anyone other than laymen.

Granted, many of the stories in the Gospels are surely exaggerated or fictional (John 8:7, for example), but the fact that Jesus was a real person is not in question at all among the scholarly community.

As for Jesus' stories being inspired by Osiris, Apollonius, etc., these ideas are not taken seriously by the scholarly community either. Mostly because these stories came after Jesus lol. And arguments trying to mythicize Jesus always rely on absurd ad hoc reasoning. In my opinion, denying the existence of the historical Jesus makes atheists look REALLY bad. Almost as bad as a creationist looks to us (almost).

I would recommend literally any book by Bart Ehrman (VERY well respected scholar who lost his faith), especially "Jesus Apocalyptic Prophet of the New Millennium." He lays out exactly what we know, how we know it, and what it means. Once you know what the scholars know, it really makes no sense at all that Jesus would be some made up character. For example, why would Jews make up a savior who no one cared about, and was killed like a bug by the Romans? If you were going to invent a savior... you would have the story confirm prophecy, not exactly the opposite.

Fri, 02 Jul 2010 02:57:58 UTC | #485654

Tord M's Avatar Comment 4 by Tord M

You are wrong Zakie Chan!

Most scholars do NOT agree that Jesus was an historical figure.

I do not make up my mind based on popularity votes or name dropping. Neither should you.

But it seems like you do. And I genuinely feel sorry for you, because you don't feel strong enough to trust your own reason or to make up your own mind. Do you rely completely on what other people tell you? And do you think anyone will feel impressed by your programmed and well rehearsed "arguments"?

Open your eyes, and don't spend so much time and effort on trying to make other people close theirs!

Updated: Fri, 02 Jul 2010 03:56:27 UTC | #485663

Zakie Chan's Avatar Comment 5 by Zakie Chan

Tord M,

"Most scholars do NOT agree that Jesus was an historical figure" I literally LOL'd at that! Name 3 contemporary ancient/NT historians that don't. Seriously, just email literally any scholar you like, and ask them yourself if you don't believe me. Your claim is just flat out wrong. Even the wikipedia page on the Christ Myth points out that the historical community has never taken it seriously. Though, wiki is probably just trying to make people close their minds, right ;)

I do rely on reason. When I was in college, I saw "The God Who Wasn't There" and was absolutely convinced. I then realized, slowly, that outside of Price and Carrier, basically no one else held those views. I started reading books on Jesus by well respected, non fundamentalist historians, and saw that I had been in error. I didn't just rely on "what people told me." Rather, I read the books, put a lot of thought into it, and figured it out for myself.

I'm not suggesting that one makes up mind based on popularity. The "Jesus is a historical figure" idea is not decided by a vote, but by research, argument and evidence. And I really doubt that listening to the careful opinion of experts, who have devoted their lives to a topic is a bad idea.

If I told a creationist that all biologists agree that evolution is a fact, and suggested that they read Dawkins to learn about why that is... would you find it reasonable for them to retort that I was just relying on popularity vote, name dropping and trying to close their minds? I doubt it.

Fri, 02 Jul 2010 04:22:55 UTC | #485666

Tord M's Avatar Comment 6 by Tord M

So Wikipedia has now become the proof of the historiocisy of Jesus? (Obviousluy not, and I think you are misciting Wikipedia as well.)

You say you don't just rely on other peoples opinions, because you claim to have read books? Well, who wrote the books? Wasn't it other people?

Is the Jesus story really confirmed because people "have devoted their lives" to it? I can well understand why people who have devoted their lives to an erroneous idea, would want to cling onto it.

You are still young, so don't make the same mistake.

Fri, 02 Jul 2010 04:52:43 UTC | #485668

rjohn19's Avatar Comment 7 by rjohn19

Actually, Richard has spoken to this issue. And this may surprise a little bit.

Zakie Chan is only partially deluded. Based on nearly all the evidence, Jesus is entirely mythical. The silence of extra-biblical writers of the day, the silence of Paul and the confounding contradictions found in the Fab Four gospels alone make it almost overkill to worry over which ancient myth the Jesus miracles were swiped.

But ever the scientific method stickler we have come to know and love, Richard showed me the errors of my ways and proved Jesus was here, if not altogether there and everywhere.

Richard applied logic to the bible (no insignificant undertaking) and its foibles. Jesus had to not merely be the Jesus of the New Testament but also the Jesus prophesised by the Old Testament. This led to some rather insupportable plot shifts.

The gospel writers had to tie him to the House of David and wasted their time tracking the lineage of his unrelated step-father Joseph (and screwed that up, I might add).

They also had to get his pregnant mumsy the hell out of Dodge where he was about to be born and on to where the Old Testament said he ought to be born. They did this by concocting a fantasy census under a governor who would not actually have been there until Jesus was old enough to be saying things like, "Hey, Dad, what's up with these little dick hairs anyway?"

And here's a little flash about taking a census with the notion of taxing based on the results. The census takers come to you, not the other way around. Do you really think the Romans were going to take anyone's word on what they were worth????

Census Taker: "So, Joseph, what do you do for a living?"

Joseph: "I'm a carpenter."

Census Taker: "What tools do you own?"

Joseph: "Well, none at the moment Gov. Ya see, I broke me saw and I had a very fine hammer at one time but I lost it when the windstorm blew me house down and made off with all me sheep and cattle."

Census Taker: "It's clear you owe no taxes, Joseph. Run along home now. Sorry you had to make this long journey for nothing."

Not even a spoonful of sugar will make that medicine go down- sorry Zakie.

But Richard said in an interview there must have been a charismatic neer-do-well preacher/teacher wandering about at that time telling everyone to give all their shit away to the poor to get into his newly created heaven or they would not have labored so to make him fit in.

Of course, then the poor Jesus loved would no longer be poor and then they couldn't get into heaven. Don't know about you Zakie, but I'm having a hard time imagining Bronze Agers playing "hot potato" with gold ingots just to curry favor with this madman.

I like to think there were a great many Jews back then who were pretty darn sick of waiting for God-ot and a few were sitting around a campfire discussing this problem around the year 50 or 60 ANH (After Nothing Happened).

One wise guy speaks up and says, "God just wouldn't string our race on this long. I can see the first thousand years or so but this is getting out of hand."

A wiser guy replies, "What if he came already and nobody noticed? I bet it was that Bernie guy from ..."

A slate of candidates arose.

Back then, there were lots of those crazies wandering about hungry and cussing at fig trees but this guy must have stood out a little bit more than the rest for the scribes to have concocted all the silly lies forged to make him fulfill the Old Testament expectations.

If this character was totally invented, Richard surmised, why bother to concoct all these ridiculous lies? Why not just build someone from scratch to fit the bill? Hard to fight that logic.

But lest we forget, the only things we know of this Jesus and his god-father are found in the most flawed text you should ever have the misfortune to wade through.

The early Xians were accomplished liars and I have read some bullshit apologies that stated the inconsistencies were placed in the Bible to test faith and, get this, prove infallibility. So maybe the early authors were just Machiavellian enough to have concocted the census lies (among others) to fool Richard Dawkins in the future into proclaiming a man behind the myth.

I doubt they were that smart but who knows? Without that "concocted lies" arguement from Richard, I'd never have believed for a nanosecond Jesus was ever really here.

Any flaws in what I have written here, I put down to Professor Dawkins being too cheap to install "spell-chekker."

Fri, 02 Jul 2010 06:06:43 UTC | #485675

besleybean's Avatar Comment 8 by besleybean

Oh for goodness sake. I am an IT Luddite, but even I know ones own computer has spell check.

Fri, 02 Jul 2010 07:20:21 UTC | #485688

mmurray's Avatar Comment 9 by mmurray

Comment 4 by Tord M :

You are wrong Zakie Chan!

Most scholars do NOT agree that Jesus was an historical figure.

Can you fill us in on which scholars do think there was an historical Jesus and which don't.

Michael

Fri, 02 Jul 2010 09:40:22 UTC | #485708

Tachibauna's Avatar Comment 10 by Tachibauna

Thanks for the Feedback guys, I was indulged by watching the famous documentary " The God Who Wasn't There " and I must say, modern Scholars do not agree that Jesus ever existed as a Historical Figure, the famous 40 year gap makes it impossible for anyone to prove his existence.

Further more, the first person to even write about Jesus, never even mentioned anything of his ministry, or miracles, the only thing mentioned was that he was born of a virgin, died on a cross, and was thus resurrected.

I don't know where Zakie Chan get's his information that these gods who share the birth sequence came after Jesus. That's just lunacy.

Horus was the first of the Solar Mesiahs, everyone knows this, it's been engraved in walls far far before Christianity even existed.

The whole story of Jesus comes much later in " History " and these are well known GOSPELS. They also only mention a life after 30, after Jesus was baptized, and began his ministry.

I am convinced Jesus Christ never Existed. I was just looking for a general opinion about what Dawkins would refer to as History, or not, considering his book the God Delusion refutes the bible, and all Deities in general.

I suggest Zakie watches the movie " The God Who Wasn't There "

Updated: Fri, 02 Jul 2010 10:15:50 UTC | #485713

Marcus Small's Avatar Comment 11 by Marcus Small

@Tord M and Zakie Chan.

Tord What would dis-confirm your belief that Jesus was not an historical figure?

Zakie what would dis-confirm your belief that Jesus was an historical figure?

I am do not think that I have the ability to decide either way.

Although I can read Greek and Hebrew after a fashion and have studied the ancient near east to graduate level, I know that despite that, perhaps because of that, I know that, my expertise is limited in the debate about the historicity of Jesus.

Therefore it seems to be entirely reasonable to follow the scholarly consensus. What else can one do without the expertise to decide for one self?

To follow any other path seems to be folly.

Fri, 02 Jul 2010 10:19:47 UTC | #485715

mmurray's Avatar Comment 12 by mmurray

Comment 10 by Tachibauna :

I don't know where Zakie Chan get's his information that these gods who share the birth sequence came after Jesus. That's just lunacy.

Horus was the first of the Solar Mesiahs, everyone knows this, it's been engraved in walls far far before Christianity even existed.

Sure but the story of the virgin birth could have been added in later to the life story of some existing person to give it additional religious credibility.

I am convinced Jesus Christ never Existed. I was just looking for a general opinion about what Dawkins would refer to as History, or not, considering his book the God Delusion refutes the bible, and all Deities in general.

Personally I can't see how one can be convinced either way. It was too long ago and the available evidence is so thin.

Michael

Fri, 02 Jul 2010 10:21:54 UTC | #485716

Tachibauna's Avatar Comment 13 by Tachibauna

My sources show:

Justin Martyr ( 100-165 AD ) one of the first Christian Historians states.

When we say that he, Jesus Christ, our Teacher, was produced without sexual union, was crucified and died, and rose again, and ascended into heaven, we propound nothing different from what you believe regarding the " sons of jupiter. "

In another quote he states:

He was born of a virgin, accept this in common with what you believe of Perseus.

There are also uncanny similiarties with Joseph from the old Testament, and Jesus of the New.

Here is a list of Historians that lived during the alledged time of Jesus.

Aulus Perseus Columelia Dio Chrysostom Justus of Tiberius Livy Lucanus Lucius Florus Petronius Phaedrus Philo Judaeus Phlegon Pliny The Elder Plutarch Pomponius Mela Rufus Curtius Quintillian Quintus Curtius Seneca Silius Italicus Statius Caelicius Theon of Smyrna Valerius Fiaccus Valerius Maximus

How many of these well known historians who lived during Jesus' assumed life time, even mention Jesus'? Not a single one.

Defenders of the Historical Jesus quote 3 Famous Historians having to of mentioned Jesus Christ in scripture, these scriptures are very vague, and do not mention Jesus, but only " Christus, Christ, " Which isn't name, but a title, meaning " The Anointed. "

The 4th source cited, is from Josephus, which has been proved to be a forgery for 100's of years..

Fri, 02 Jul 2010 10:27:29 UTC | #485717

Tachibauna's Avatar Comment 14 by Tachibauna

Personally I can't see how one can be convinced either way. It was too long ago and the available evidence is so thin.

We can prove that other people existed during these times. Why can't we find anything about a traveling teacher who preformed miracles, and such.. You'd think atleast one Historian would mention this person.

It would be like.. I don't know.. in 1,000 years someone trying to find information about Michael Jackson.. If he was so influential, why isn't it shouted from the rooftops?

Fri, 02 Jul 2010 10:33:24 UTC | #485719

Marcus Small's Avatar Comment 15 by Marcus Small

Comment 14 by Tachibauna Firstly what would un-convince you? Secondly How would we prove your existence to those living in the distant future?

Would any difficulties prove your non existence?

Fri, 02 Jul 2010 11:06:00 UTC | #485725

deftmasterofdisguise's Avatar Comment 16 by deftmasterofdisguise

I already came to the conclusion that Jesus was some sort of counter-cultural mechanic of his day. But you should however read the article that Dawkins wrote titled "ATHEISTS FOR JESUS".

Here is the link: http://richarddawkins.net/articles/20

Fri, 02 Jul 2010 11:14:53 UTC | #485729

billzfantazy's Avatar Comment 17 by billzfantazy

I tend to agree with Tord here, "Jesus" is an amalgamation of various seers, prophets, magicians & charismatic ne-er do wells covering several centuries, a bit like Robin Hood (well not the seers & prophets obviously)

The fact none of the historians at the time mentioned him is also suggestive, although not sure they'd be particularly interested, wasn't he supposed to be just a minor rabble rouser from a not very important land out in the sticks?

Off topic, you only have a spellchecker online if u have something like google toolbar, which is a resource hog, I don't use it, so apologies if I've misspelled anything!

Fri, 02 Jul 2010 11:17:12 UTC | #485730

Tachibauna's Avatar Comment 18 by Tachibauna

Here is the link: http://richarddawkins.net/articles/20

Thanks for this, a very interesting article by Richard. Though it seems somewhat satiracle.

What I read out of this is that, if Jesus did infact exist, and was reborn today. He would be an Atheist in Richards opinion.

Though it doesn't answer the critical question of;

Did a man named Jesus Christ ever live. It would be ignorant to say that a teacher of such had never existed, but that's not saying much, because I wouldn't refute someone existing without any historical evidence had, or had not maybe.. I don't know.. Painted a Picture of a Dog riding a Cat. The probability of it is very minuscule, and there is no real evidence backing it, but hey.. There could have been an Artist who once did it..

Though the claims Christians make, that Jesus is Historicaly rooted into our past is just non-sense, and the debate almost comes down to whether there is a god or not.

Just because we can't prove to 100% that he did not exist, doesn't make him exist by Default, infact the evidence who do have, show's he did not exist in the form presented in the Bible.

Updated: Fri, 02 Jul 2010 11:30:52 UTC | #485733

Marcus Small's Avatar Comment 19 by Marcus Small

Comment 14 by Tachibauna :

You'd think atleast one Historian would mention this person.

Why? Have you ever heard of me, will I be mentioned by historians of our period? I very much doubt it.

A google search of my name might reveal something, but then which Marcus Small are we talking about.

So even with the technology available today future historians might struggle to even notice little me.

Fri, 02 Jul 2010 11:35:22 UTC | #485735

Marcus Small's Avatar Comment 20 by Marcus Small

Comment 18 by Tachibauna :

he did not exist in the form presented in the Bible.

He is represented very differently in the Bible, in John he is the incarnation of a pre existent being, In Mark he is an itinerant preacher who performed a few miracles and was executed. Paul sees him as a saviour, and is largely uninterested in the Jesus of history.

These are all the earliest documents, with John being the latest. Paul and John attempt to create a theology about Jesus (What was he and what was his significance?) whereas the synoptics attempt essentially to preserve a body of teaching attributed to Jesus. (What did he teach?). I would say that there is very clear divergence between the former and latter and suggest something more than a mythology.

Fri, 02 Jul 2010 11:46:35 UTC | #485739

deftmasterofdisguise's Avatar Comment 21 by deftmasterofdisguise

Comment 18 by Tachibauna :

Here is the link:

http://richarddawkins.net/articles/20

Thanks for this, a very interesting article by Richard. Though it seems somewhat satiracle.

What I read out of this is that, if Jesus did infact exist, and was reborn today. He would be an Atheist in Richards opinion.

Though it doesn't answer the critical question of;

Did a man named Jesus Christ ever live. It would be ignorant to say that a teacher of such had never existed, but that's not saying much, because I wouldn't refute someone existing without any historical evidence had, or had not maybe.. I don't know.. Painted a Picture of a Dog riding a Cat. The probability of it is very minuscule, and there is no real evidence backing it, but hey.. There could have been an Artist who once did it..

Though the claims Christians make, that Jesus is Historicaly rooted into our past is just non-sense, and the debate almost comes down to whether there is a god or not.

Just because we can't prove to 100% that he did not exist, doesn't make him exist by Default, infact the evidence who do have, show's he did not exist in the form presented in the Bible.

I think from reading that article Dawkins believes that he did in fact exist. But then, as is logical, he would assign a degree of lucid pessimism towards how Jesus is interpreted and therefore presented: by his disciples; by scripture; (and then later down in history) by leaders like Constantine the 1st; by theologians; churches; and then by everyday individual interpretation. Furthermore Dawkins would probably feel the need to ask 'what did Jesus actually think himself?'

I think that Dawkins would be already savvy to how Jesus the individual (on top of his words + message)has been misinterpreted and misused throughout the ages. Which is what happens with anything anyone every says or does.

I think Dawkins has fully comprehended (from reading his writings): the 'true' message of Jesus; and how it is ironically lost on societies and individuals. So I'd say Dawkins thinks that he is a real person who lived, but whose message is lost on most people

Dawkins likes Jesus' message, but sees him like any other enlightened thinker. And one, where history has granted Jesus God-status!

I don't think Dawkins is satirical at all with this article. Dawkins feels deeply for justice, and identifies with the universal aspects of kindness that Jesus preached.

Fri, 02 Jul 2010 12:00:45 UTC | #485742

deftmasterofdisguise's Avatar Comment 22 by deftmasterofdisguise

Maybe the point is the logical conclusion that Jesus did in fact exist, but he has been misinterpreted and misused throughout the ages.

So therefore we can say:

  1. He did exist

  2. But the myth surrounding him did not exist

Updated: Fri, 02 Jul 2010 12:04:36 UTC | #485745

deftmasterofdisguise's Avatar Comment 23 by deftmasterofdisguise

I have heard Dawkins speak out about the bible, usually when asked about the role of religious education or creationism in the class room. So try looking for articles/videos where he is questioned about such things.

I don't want to put words into his mouth, but if I understood correctly Dawkins sees the bible as a piece of historical literature, and it should therefore be studied and approached with the same tools that any other piece of literature is studied with (e.g. semantics, metaphor analysis, theme analysis, character development, historical accuracy etc.) He thinks that it should be taught as just that, and critically not as some God delivered holy text. He thinks that to understand history, art and culture you should understand the bible for what it actually is (contextual man-made literature); and therefore he would think that you would have to understand the culture from which it came from as well.

Fri, 02 Jul 2010 12:18:03 UTC | #485748

Roger J. Stanyard's Avatar Comment 24 by Roger J. Stanyard

This is a matter of sematics.

As a layman on the Issue I can go along with the historical existance of one of Jesus's near contempraries, Boudica. Roughly speaking that is ased on a simple set of accounts - near contemppary histircal accounts from the Romans, and achealogical evidence consistent with the Boudican revolt.

The broad story is well knon and not very controevresial. She was head of the Iceni tribe in East Anglia which was a client "state" of the Romans. It borrowed money but the bankers recalled the loans in a hevay handed manner and the Icenis went into open revolt. The subsequent destruction, killings and fairly quick defeat of Boudica may have been embellished in the accounts (produced by the Romans) but, in generally, look to be broadly accurate. The archaelogical evidence from Colchester and London are consistent with both places being raised to the ground by Boudica's revolt.

At the other end of the scale is the statue of Boudica on Westminster Bridge in London portraying her as a ravishing long haired beauty in flowing robes aboard a higholy deorated chariot ostensibly liberating the hard done to English from foreign occupation and suppression. It is utter and complete bilge and myth entirely divorced from historicality.

I'd go along with the idea that around 30 AD there was a Jewish itinerant preacher with some kind of following and called Jesus. I'd accept that he was not an aristocrat or of high birth. Nearly all the rest, including his preachings, is myth and fabrication. Moreover, he would not have been the only such itinerant preacher - I guess he was part of a cult or movement of them including his alledged disciples. In effect, there was more than one Jesus. Much of what was attributed to him came from others (and was twisted in the process). "No man is an island to himself."

So, in that sense, there is no historical Jesus.

What is claimed to be Jesus is not onconsistent with reality, historical and archeological evidence, ancient scriptures and the Bible itelf. All modern scholars would accept that. What he certainly wasn't was the son of God who rose from the dead. if he existed, he was just an itinerant preacher who we know very, very little about. Which is basically what Muslims (and, I assume, Jews) believe he was. Strip the whole thing down and he appears to be much less of a historical character than Boudica.

What most believe to have been Jesus is about as divorced from reality as the Boudica on Westminster Bridge.

Fri, 02 Jul 2010 12:40:53 UTC | #485755

Tachibauna's Avatar Comment 25 by Tachibauna

Maybe the point is the logical conclusion that Jesus did in fact exist, but he has been misinterpreted and misused throughout the ages.

So therefore we can say:

He did exist

But the myth surrounding him did not exist

I don't believe that's the case to be honest. If the Bible is considered Historical Literature, then we can say just as well that Hamlet existed.

Let's say Hamlet was crowned the new Solar Mesiah.. Where is the proof that a man like this existed?

I don't think Dawkins really believes this man existed, though I think he elaborates on the fact of whether or not the Jesus Character depicted in Scriptures and the Bible was really not the Tyrant the Christians make him out to be.

Though it seems Jesus is only thought of as a Character in a Literature Book, but not a History Book.

Fri, 02 Jul 2010 12:41:51 UTC | #485756

Zelig's Avatar Comment 26 by Zelig

Nietzsche's The Anti-Christ contains a very profound speculative analysis, especially on the psychology of Jesus.

Fri, 02 Jul 2010 12:45:28 UTC | #485758

SomersetJohn's Avatar Comment 27 by SomersetJohn

We can be certain someone called Jesus existed around that time, there were hundreds if not thousands of them. Jesus was a rather popular name, according to some of the things I've read. One or more of them may well have been an itinerant teacher/preacher/messianic nutjob. There were apparently quite a lot of them around at that time.

The continuing growth and popularity of the xtian movement had less to do with the supposed itinerant whatever, and rather more with the PR guru and xtian spin doctor Paul. I think there is considerable truth to the proposal that xtianity was almost solely his creation.

Fri, 02 Jul 2010 12:56:57 UTC | #485759

Marcus Small's Avatar Comment 28 by Marcus Small

Jesus did not exist. Jesus did exist.

Both are statements of belief.

Of course Tacitus wrote nearly 40 years after the Boudican rebellion, and Cassius Dio wasn't even born until over years after.

Did she exist or was she a version of The MorrĂ­gan.

Fri, 02 Jul 2010 12:58:01 UTC | #485760

DavidBarrKirtley's Avatar Comment 29 by DavidBarrKirtley

As for historians, the VAST, OVERWHELMING majority of scholars agree that > Jesus was a historical figure.

This may be true, but come on, the vast, overwhelming majority of scholars (at least, that you're referring to) are Christians, who obviously have an a priori intellectual commitment to the idea that Jesus is not completely made up. It's like trying to establish that King Arthur was a historical figure because the vast majority of King Arthur-worshiping experts say so.

If this character was totally invented why bother to concoct all these ridiculous lies? Why not just build someone from scratch to fit the bill?

I highly recommend the Bible Geek podcast, hosted by Robert M. Price, mentioned above as a prominent proponent of the view that there is insufficient evidence to establish any credible claim for the historicity of Jesus. Whether you agree with him or not, his speculations about how the texts came to be created are absolutely fascinating. (http://www.ustream.tv/channel/thebiblegeek)

Many of the arguments for the historical Jesus boil down to "Why would anyone make this stuff up?" -- "Jews wouldn't make up a story about drinking blood," "People wouldn't make up a story that made their god look bad," etc. The thing is, when you have a set of documents that have been translated (and mis-translated) numerous times and recopied by hand and rewritten countless times by various factions with shifting cultural values over tens of centuries, you can end up with all sorts of material that seems awfully strange, and it's a false dichotomy to claim that the only possibilities to explain it are 1) somebody knowingly fabricated this story out of whole cloth in its current form or 2) it really happened. For example, the "people wouldn't make up a story that made their god look bad" argument is called the "criterion of embarrassment," but it seems pointlessly weak to me. I mean, Greek mythology depicts Zeus, the apex of the pantheon, as a bumbling philanderer who's always getting caught and having to contrive some ludicrous scheme to escape the consequences. The "criterion of embarrassment" seems to suggest that the only possible explanation for this is that there was a real guy named Zeus who was a philanderer, and yeah, maybe he threw lightning bolts and maybe he didn't, but you can't doubt that he actually existed, because why would people who worshiped him just make up unflattering stuff like that about him?

Updated: Fri, 02 Jul 2010 13:26:24 UTC | #485765

MarkOnTheRiver's Avatar Comment 30 by MarkOnTheRiver

Philo of Alexandria and Justus of Tiberia were both respected, diligent scholars. They both actually lived and wrote in the time in which the Jesus character was supposed to have lived, performed his miracles and died.

In all their known writings, neither mentions a single word about a character called Jesus.

Updated: Fri, 02 Jul 2010 13:32:35 UTC | #485767