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 Did Jesus Really Exist? (Part 3)
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tergiversant
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USA
284 Posts

Posted - 09/10/2002 :  12:24:31  Show Profile  Visit tergiversant's Homepage  Send tergiversant a Yahoo! Message Send tergiversant a Private Message
I have decided to rejoin the conversation. Hope my timing does not suck overmuch.

I might start off by asking, what would be the minimum requirements in terms of historical events to be able to say that Jesus really existed? What conditions would suffice to answer the topic question in the affirmative?

If one were to take a time-machine back to 1st century Palestine, and find there several sages and rabbis being called "saviour" and "messiah" would that be enough? Or would one of them have to say and/or do some minimum number of things found in the Christian traditions?

"Nihil curo de ista tua stulta superstitione."


Edited by - tergiversant on 09/10/2002 21:23:29

tergiversant
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USA
284 Posts

Posted - 09/10/2002 :  12:36:41   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit tergiversant's Homepage  Send tergiversant a Yahoo! Message Send tergiversant a Private Message
It does not seem to me at all improbable that a Jewish rabbi named (or dubbed) "Jesus" with Messianic pretensions (either of his own imputed to him by his followers) might be mucking about 1st century Palestine, speaking in parables and pithy little aphorisms like those found in Mark and Q, respectively.

What do you think, Slater? Anyone?

"Nihil curo de ista tua stulta superstitione."
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Tokyodreamer
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USA
1447 Posts

Posted - 09/10/2002 :  12:56:03   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Tokyodreamer a Private Message
quote:

It does not seem to me at all improbable that a Jewish rabbi named (or dubbed) "Jesus" with Messianic pretensions (either of his own imputed to him by his followers) might be mucking about 1st century Palestine, speaking in parables and pithy little aphorisms like those found in Mark and Q, respectively.


But doesn't it seem improbable that none of the many historians at the time made no mention of him, if such a man had acquired so much attention from the Roman government?

[Man, that sentence sucks! ]
------------

The NASA Vision:
To improve life here,
To extend life to there,
To find life beyond.

Edited by - tokyodreamer on 09/10/2002 12:56:35

Edited by - tokyodreamer on 09/10/2002 12:58:18
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darwin alogos
SFN Regular

USA
532 Posts

Posted - 09/10/2002 :  13:16:57   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send darwin alogos a Private Message
To Tergiversant, here is a site that does give evidence that you asked for: http://www.ccel.org/contrib/exec_outlines/ca/ca_02.htm
quote:
But doesn't it seem improbable that none of the many historians at the time made no mention of him, if such a man had acquired so much attention from the Roman government?


The point isn't "how many historians" reported his existence,(especially since he lived in remote part of the Roman world)but what you do with the evidence that's there.

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@tomic
Administrator

USA
4607 Posts

Posted - 09/10/2002 :  13:53:44   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit @tomic's Homepage Send @tomic a Private Message
quote:
To Tergiversant, here is a site that does give evidence that you asked for: http://www.ccel.org/contrib/exec_outlines/ca/ca_02.htm


How odd that the references were so general without any specific place to look.

quote:
3. ENCYCLOPEDIA BRITANNICA
a. Used over 20,000 words to describe Jesus
b. More than Aristotle, Cicero, Alexander, Julius Caesar,
Buddha, Confucius, Mohammed, or Napoleon


This is just silly. The b. part was especially humorous. I suppose the Encyclodedia of India will mention Buddha and Confucius far more than Jesus. So what?

quote:
2. LETTER OF MARA-SERAPION (written to his son, ca. 73 A.D.)
a. He tells of the deaths of Socrates, Pythagoras, and of Jesus
b. "What advantage did the Jews gain from executing their wise
king?...Nor did the wise king die for good; he lived on in
the teaching which he had given."


What the hell is this? Didn't they mean Elvis? Pah-leeeeeeze.

@tomic

Gravity, not just a good idea...it's the law!
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ConsequentAtheist
SFN Regular

641 Posts

Posted - 09/10/2002 :  14:20:52   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send ConsequentAtheist a Private Message
quote:
tergiversant wrote:

It does not seem to me at all improbable that a Jewish rabbi named (or dubbed) "Jesus" with Messianic pretensions (either of his own imputed to him by his followers) might be mucking about 1st century Palestine, speaking in parables and pithy little aphorisms like those found in Mark and Q, respectively.
  • By "not ... improbable" do you mean to imply 'probable'?
  • By "might be mucking about" do you mean to assert 'was active'?
[emphasis added - RD]

Only a fool would argue the logical impossibility of historicity, but granting logical possibility is a far cry from proving anything.



Edited by - ReasonableDoubt on 09/10/2002 14:25:07
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tergiversant
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USA
284 Posts

Posted - 09/10/2002 :  21:11:26   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit tergiversant's Homepage  Send tergiversant a Yahoo! Message Send tergiversant a Private Message
quote:
quote:

It does not seem to me at all improbable that a Jewish rabbi named (or dubbed) "Jesus" with Messianic pretensions (either of his own imputed to him by his followers) might be mucking about 1st century Palestine, speaking in parables and pithy little aphorisms like those found in Mark and Q, respectively.


But doesn't it seem improbable that none of the many historians at the time made no mention of him, if such a man had acquired so much attention from the Roman government?



The Romans crucified Jewish rebels as a matter of course, most often without trial. Who is to say that Jesus was any more interesting to them than any others?

"Nihil curo de ista tua stulta superstitione."
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Slater
SFN Regular

USA
1668 Posts

Posted - 09/10/2002 :  23:38:50   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Slater a Private Message
quote:

The Romans crucified Jewish rebels as a matter of course, most often without trial. Who is to say that Jesus was any more interesting to them than any others?



The Christian world says so.
Besides the gospels show a pretty pro-Roman guy not a Jewish rebel.

But the point is that he wasn't recorded in history. If he wasn't recorded because he was dull or he wasn't recorded because there was nothing to record it still comes down to him not being recorded.
If he wasn't recorded then you have nothing to base any claims about him on. It doesn't matter why he wasn't recorded it simply matters that he wasn't recorded.
If you want to change Jesus from the Christ to a first century George Castanza then you have already dumped Jesus. "Gee maybe nobody wrote about him because he wasn't interesting"--then what do you care about him?
The problem with Jesus is that all sorts of claims are being made about him from people who have no way of knowing if any of the are true.


-------
My business is to teach my aspirations to conform themselves to fact, not to try and make facts harmonize with my aspirations. ---Thomas Henry Huxley, 1860
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ConsequentAtheist
SFN Regular

641 Posts

Posted - 09/11/2002 :  03:19:36   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send ConsequentAtheist a Private Message
tergiversant, would you please answer my questions? "Who is to say that Jesus was ..." might well serve as interesting speculation, but its bad historiography and rotten logic.




Edited by - ReasonableDoubt on 09/11/2002 03:21:46
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ConsequentAtheist
SFN Regular

641 Posts

Posted - 09/11/2002 :  04:00:13   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send ConsequentAtheist a Private Message
I would think that a first step may be to see if we can come to some consensus on the Pauline and Deuteropauline work with regards to date and textual integrity. These works suggest a clear schism between Paul and a Jerusalem group. If accepted at face value, the question then becomes: What was the character and history of this group?



Edited by - ReasonableDoubt on 09/11/2002 04:01:27
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andysnape
New Member

United Kingdom
39 Posts

Posted - 09/11/2002 :  05:13:06   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit andysnape's Homepage  Send andysnape a Yahoo! Message Send andysnape a Private Message
quote:

You seem to think that because he is important now, he should have been then. One question you need to ask yourself is; Why would anyone invent him?
Christian belief only barely comes from the work of Jesus and his disciples. Most of what we believe about Jesus comes from St. Paul, a Roman citizen who had never met the man, but heard about him and tried to lead the Apostles. His arguement with the mysterious James, widely believed to have been James' brother, was the catalyst for the creation of a breakaway movement that we now call Christianity.
It's almost certain that Jesus was one of many messianic preachers of that time, and the Dead Sea Scrolls do mention one in particular, but not by name. You say that there is no documentary evidence that he existed, therefore he can't have. I say that documents can be forged and destroyed. We know that something happened in the mid-1st century that caused a small group of individuals to begin preaching a new message, and for this group to split. The claims are that it was all based around one man called Jesus yet you say because there are no documents known that mention him by name, he probably never existed. Please can you give us your theory as to why you think these people would have got together, formulated a theology, and then attributed it to a fictional person who would have died within the lifetimes of the people they were preaching to. Surely the audience would have known about any influential preacher, and if Jesus had not existed, they would have had an idea about this.
quote:

The Romans crucified Jewish rebels as a matter of course, most often without trial. Who is to say that Jesus was any more interesting to them than any others?



The Christian world says so.
Besides the gospels show a pretty pro-Roman guy not a Jewish rebel.

But the point is that he wasn't recorded in history. If he wasn't recorded because he was dull or he wasn't recorded because there was nothing to record it still comes down to him not being recorded.
If he wasn't recorded then you have nothing to base any claims about him on. It doesn't matter why he wasn't recorded it simply matters that he wasn't recorded.
If you want to change Jesus from the Christ to a first century George Castanza then you have already dumped Jesus. "Gee maybe nobody wrote about him because he wasn't interesting"--then what do you care about him?
The problem with Jesus is that all sorts of claims are being made about him from people who have no way of knowing if any of the are true.


-------
My business is to teach my aspirations to conform themselves to fact, not to try and make facts harmonize with my aspirations. ---Thomas Henry Huxley, 1860



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ConsequentAtheist
SFN Regular

641 Posts

Posted - 09/11/2002 :  06:26:30   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send ConsequentAtheist a Private Message
quote:
andysnape wrote:

It's almost certain that Jesus was one of many messianic preachers of that time, and the Dead Sea Scrolls do mention one in particular, but not by name. You say that there is no documentary evidence that he existed, therefore he can't have. I say that documents can be forged and destroyed. We know that something happened in the mid-1st century that caused a small group of individuals to begin preaching a new message, and for this group to split. The claims are that it was all based around one man called Jesus yet you say because there are no documents known that mention him by name, he probably never existed.


What is, and what is not, "almost certain" is at issue.

Documents can, indeed, be "forged and destroyed". Unfortunately, this argument cuts both ways, and the evidence suggests that any such activity would be Church/State sponsored and, therefore, result in a textual tradition supportive of historicity, e.g., the probable interpolation(s) of Josephus.

As suggested above, the assertion that we "know that something happened in the mid-1st century" depends in great part on how we view the Pauline and Deuteropauline work. Until that's resolved, the assertion is simply begging the question.


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Tokyodreamer
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USA
1447 Posts

Posted - 09/11/2002 :  07:18:50   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Tokyodreamer a Private Message
quote:
You say that there is no documentary evidence that he existed, therefore he can't have.


I don't think anyone is saying this at all.

------------

The NASA Vision:
To improve life here,
To extend life to there,
To find life beyond.
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Slater
SFN Regular

USA
1668 Posts

Posted - 09/11/2002 :  09:04:45   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Slater a Private Message
One question you need to ask yourself is; Why would anyone invent him?
I've already speculated in the first two incarnations of this thread about Constantine's use of Christianity to make himself the most powerful man in the world. Even if you discount that you have to ask yourself why does anyone invent any religion. Power and wealth. For a thousand years the Roman Catholic Church was the richest most powerful organization in Europe.

It's almost certain that Jesus was one of many messianic preachers of that time, and the Dead Sea Scrolls do mention one in particular, but not by name.
No it isn't certain at all. All the messianic teachers we know of-who were recorded by history-preached Judaism.
We also know that the teacher spoken of in the DSS lived well over a 100 years too early to be the Jesus from the NT.
You say that there is no documentary evidence that he existed, therefore he can't have.
No. I do say that you read things and see what you like and not what was written. What I said is that without documentation there is no way for you to know that he existed.
We know that something happened in the mid-1st century that caused a small group of individuals to begin preaching a new message, and for this group to split.
Except there is no "New" message. Just re-hashed Hellenism. Nothing new and wonderful came from the Christians except a repackaging of pre existing ideas.

Please can you give us your theory as to why you think these people would have got together, formulated a theology, and then attributed it to a fictional person who would have died within the lifetimes of the people they were preaching to.
Which fictionalized person are you talking about, Serapis? Or could it be Dionysus, or Adonis, or Attis or maybe Dumuzi. These guys all have very Christ-like biographies yet Christians claim that each and every man jack of them is fictional.
Where do you get the idea that Jesus-who had no documentation, lived in the lifetimes of the original Christians-who left no documentation? The message of Dionysus-who left no documentation-was supposed to be taught during his life to people who like wise left no documentation. Should we believe in him?

Surely the audience would have known about any influential preacher, and if Jesus had not existed, they would have had an idea about this.
Again the baby Jesus is being tossed out with the bath water. Again Jesus is demoted from a god to some strange version of a Baptist Preacher with his tent show.
Jesus could not have done what the bible (the surviving books--the original complete text made vastly different claims) said he did and not have been noticed by the Romans and the leaders of the Jews. Since he wasn't you reduce him to a wandering preacher. If Jesus of Nazareth was only that then Jesus the Christ is a fictional character, invented by ordinary humans and sharing the extremely common name of Joshua.


-------
My business is to teach my aspirations to conform themselves to fact, not to try and make facts harmonize with my aspirations. ---Thomas Henry Huxley, 1860
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ConsequentAtheist
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641 Posts

Posted - 09/11/2002 :  10:43:39   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send ConsequentAtheist a Private Message
andysnape wrote:
  • One question you need to ask yourself is; Why would anyone invent him?
Slater wrote:
  • I've already speculated in the first two incarnations of this thread about Constantine's use of Christianity to make himself the most powerful man in the world.
But adopting and using Christianity for political ends is not the same as inventing Christian myth. It seems unlikely that Constantine created Christianity and the Donatists at the same time, suggesting that both were around prior to the Synods at Arles.

Slater wrote:
  • Jesus could not have done what the bible (the surviving books--the original complete text made vastly different claims) said he did and not have been noticed by the Romans and the leaders of the Jews. Since he wasn't you reduce him to a wandering preacher. If Jesus of Nazareth was only that then Jesus the Christ is a fictional character, invented by ordinary humans and sharing the extremely common name of Joshua.
I don't think the question ever was one of proving the historicity of a virgin-born, miracle-working, resurrected "Jesus Christ". At issue is whether there was a Jesus movement centered in Jerusalem and usurped by Paul.




Edited by - ReasonableDoubt on 09/11/2002 10:51:02
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Slater
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USA
1668 Posts

Posted - 09/11/2002 :  12:20:28   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Slater a Private Message
But adopting and using Christianity for political ends is not the same as inventing Christian myth.
Quite true but I don't think you can find altruism and benevolence at the birth of any religion. They all revolve around securing power and wealth for those with authority over the religion. Whether it be the Shaman of a cargo cult in New Guinea or Pope John Paul II the result of religion is always enhanced social status.

Even if Constantine didn't originate Christianity he changed it so much that the resulting religion would be hardly recognizable to followers of the original. It may have had the same label but there was different stuff in the bottle when he was through.


-------
My business is to teach my aspirations to conform themselves to fact, not to try and make facts harmonize with my aspirations. ---Thomas Henry Huxley, 1860
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