Debating the historical Jesus
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12-03-2015, 03:00 PM
RE: Debating the historical Jesus
(12-03-2015 12:37 PM)Bucky Ball Wrote:  We know Philo visited the Jerusalem Temple, more than once.

Quote:You seem to imply that documents that demonstrate faith cannot have any other kind of historical value.

On what basis can you support this assertion?

The reasons for doubt are petty, at best.

You may see them as petty because you want them to be seen as petty, as that's your bias, which I fully get.

I find them petty because they are impoverished for justification, really. For example, on the issue of Tacitus a big deal is made about where he got his sources, when the fact of the matter is that regardless of where he got his sources the reality is that his works do indeed demonstrate the existence of Christ, and his execution.

That is evidence. That's a Plus 1 to the historicity argument, and it should never be hand waved away in the interests of maintaining doubt for the purpose of some agenda to promote other views. It is what it is, and the intellectually honest will give credit where it's due.

Quote:It's pretty unusual for someone to ask for a COMPLETE re-examination of what has just been assumed to be true for so long. I get that's hard to swallow.

I don't think it's a reexamination. Christians and Christian scholars have professed those documents to be the god given truth for eons now, but we both know they are full of shit. For centuries those documents were accepted as being historical fact by religionists, and I reject that notion.

All I am trying to do is excavate any possible historical fact from those documents, and the only thing within them that can be counted as having validity is the crucifixion, which is attested to outside the gospel records numerous times.

Quote:Faith documents are fine IF they can be supported by EXTERNAL evidence. Nothing about Jesus can actually be supported, externally, and in light of all the fabrications, lies, exaggerations, and mythical additions to the possible "kernal of truth" (which I admit *just might be true*), I see no reason to lean in the direction of his possible existence, when we know so much of the story was just made up, with the use of the circulating memes and themes of the day.

This is just a wholesale dismissal based upon your position that Jesus was a total myth. The reality is there are indeed many texts that attest to the crucifixion of Jesus, and not all are Christian. With Tacitus and Celsum for example being non Christian sources, there's two right there.

When you have historical evidence for the crucifixion, you have historical evidence for existence. What else is known about Jesus is anybody's guess, but the evidence so-far indicates that the focus of the Christian religion defers squarely on the shoulders of some guy named Jesus who was called Christ, and who was crucified by Pontius Pilate.


Quote: If it is true he was just one of many wandering Apocalypitic preachers going around doing what were taken to be "miracles". I know we're never going to agree about this, and it doesn't matter, really if we do. There IS a case for non-historicity. The problem is pretty much the only people who care to even discuss it, are believers so there is no real background of non-biased expertise.

In my opinion, Jesus was likely a gifted public speaker with a different but attractive Judaic philosophy that ended up going south in a bad way. There's really not much to all this, and I find it a mystery why anyone has a problem with a historical person's life being embellished to mythical proportions.

After all, Muhammad is listed as performing more miracles than Jesus was, but doubting his existence is ridiculous.

How can anyone become an atheist when we are all born with no beliefs in the first place? I am an atheist because it is the natural state of being we are all born into.
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12-03-2015, 03:24 PM (This post was last modified: 12-03-2015 03:35 PM by Free.)
RE: Debating the historical Jesus
(12-03-2015 02:41 PM)Stevil Wrote:  
(12-03-2015 01:11 PM)Free Wrote:  Just wait for it. It's got nothing to do with being a damn wanker. It's got everything to do with me demonstrating a fucking point.
If you want to come of as engaging then don't grumble when people ask questions, don't accuse people of being denialists and dishonest when they are in the phase of information gathering.
I haven't denied anything, I am trying to work out what "evidence" you are aware of and are able to share. I am trying to assess the strength of any "evidence" you provide.
(12-03-2015 01:11 PM)Free Wrote:  What reason do you have to doubt Tacitus' claim?
1. Tacitus wasn't an eye witness. According to the Historical Method this makes his account less reliable.
2. It is unknown how close Tacitus' "account" is to the actual event. He got his information from other documents, Were those documents authored by eye witnesses or were those authors also relying on second hand information? How far removed is Tacitus in a chain of conveyed information from an actual eye witness to the event? 2, 3, 4, 5 layers of Chiness wispers? Since it is unknown then according to the Historical Method this makes his account less reliable.
3. Tacitus' account is not supported by other documents. According to the Historical Method this makes his account less reliable.
4. It is unclear as to where Tacitus got his information from. According to the Historical Method this makes his account less reliable.
5. Tacitus' document was written decades after the event. According to the Historical Method this makes his account less reliable.
6. The authors of the documents that Tacitus uses as his source are unknown. According to the Historical Method this makes his account less reliable.
7. The documents that Tacitus uses as his source are not referenced and are not available. According to common sense this makes his account less reliable.
(12-03-2015 01:11 PM)Free Wrote:  Please insert denialist response below:
I can only assume you want me to believe without having seen, hence this bizzare tactic of trying to deride people from asking questions or doubting flimsy evidence.
(12-03-2015 01:11 PM)Free Wrote:  You have proven my point. I provided the answer, and you moved the goalposts for more evidence.
I haven't shifted any goal posts.
I am asking how the author (in this case Tacitus) knows about the event.
You have claimed he got the information from other authors.
I am logically asking how those other authors got the information.

Yes, you shifted the goal posts. It doesn't matter who the authors of those previous histories were, for the fact of the matter is the question itself of where Tacitus got his sources from has been answered.

What we can ascertain is that the previous written histories concerning Nero and the Great Fires of Rome had to be recent, and in Tacitus' time they were considered to be modern history.

Since Tacitus regards them as "authors," indicating the plural, it demonstrates that he used multiple sources for his works.

Since Tacitus says that the previous authors' work showed two sides to the story concerning whether Nero did it, or if it was accidental, it demonstrates that Tacitus was indeed accessing an earlier Roman historical source(s) since it clearly demonstrates a history of the Roman Caesar Nero.

Since Tacitus was writing around AD 111, and the fires of Rome occurred around AD 60, it shows us that the sources Tacitus used were only a few decades old at the most, but most likely no more than 40 years.

So the answer is that Tacitus referenced the works of previous Roman history books for the part about Nero, the Great Fires, and Christ and the Christians.

We don't need to know who wrote the previous histories, for all that is required here is to know and understand that the evidence indicates that Tacitus used Roman sources for his works, and did not get his information from Christians.

And that is what needs to be recognized here, in the interests of intellectual honesty and for the integrity of history.

How can anyone become an atheist when we are all born with no beliefs in the first place? I am an atheist because it is the natural state of being we are all born into.
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12-03-2015, 03:27 PM
RE: Debating the historical Jesus
I'm really enjoying this discussion, if you all can keep from letting it degenerate into personal sleights this is the kind of stuff most, if not all, Christian forums should aspire to sound like.

I certainly don't have anything to add to the discussion but I hope it continues.

Keep your cool and carry on Thumbsup

“I am quite sure now that often, very often, in matters concerning religion and politics a man’s reasoning powers are not above the monkey’s.”~Mark Twain
“Ocean: A body of water occupying about two-thirds of a world made for man - who has no gills.”~ Ambrose Bierce
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12-03-2015, 04:27 PM
RE: Debating the historical Jesus
(12-03-2015 03:27 PM)Full Circle Wrote:  I'm really enjoying this discussion, if you all can keep from letting it degenerate into personal sleights this is the kind of stuff most, if not all, Christian forums should aspire to sound like.

I certainly don't have anything to add to the discussion but I hope it continues.

Keep your cool and carry on Thumbsup

Agreed. I Wish my conversation with the pastor that I originally posted this for went this well.
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12-03-2015, 04:57 PM (This post was last modified: 12-03-2015 05:17 PM by Free.)
RE: Debating the historical Jesus
(12-03-2015 02:53 PM)EvolutionKills Wrote:  Yes, because proving Jesus did not exist is the exact same as doubting he existed.

Bullshit.

Doubting he existed proves absolutely nothing. Just because someone has doubt in no way implies they have proof.

Quote:For fuck's sake dude, this is why you cannot reason yourself out of a wet paper bag. You're so caught up on fighting a strawman, you can't fucking think straight

You say this after you claim that proving Jesus did not exist is the exact same thing as doubting he existed?

Seriously?

Quote:
(11-03-2015 05:25 PM)Free Wrote:  Now here's the punchline for all your statements above.

You said that you can agree with the scholars on some things, but not on other things. Fair enough.

However, because the NT states that Jesus was crucified ad nausium, and because we find this crucifixion ad nausium in non canonical texts and histories, and it's virtually unanimous among scholars that Jesus existed and was crucified, then how can we not be "evaluating reasons and evidence a la carte, piece by piece?"


The authors of the Gospels are not reliable, and given the evidence that they built upon one another, they are the furthest thing from being corroborative; they are derivative works, not independent sources. All other non-canonical mentions of it are from far later sources, which even assuming they're were not later Christians interpolations, could have just as easily just been recounting what Christians at the time claimed; information they themselves got from the their Gospels, which are not reliable sources.

This is all assertion, theorizing, and assumption. Although some may be true, not all can be demonstrated to be true.

It can be easily demonstrated that ancient religious historical figures have indeed had their lives embellished to mythological proportions. Therefore, just because the lives of ancient religious leaders have been embellished by their followers it by no means suggests that the person who's life was embellished did not exist.

The Gospels can be seen as such; the embellishment of the life of a historical person. Since we see within these records the embarrassment of the crucifixion of the hero of Christianity, and also see this same theme of the crucifixion being retold by non canonical and non Christian sources, it demonstrates a real and very plausible truth to the crucifixion of Jesus.

Quote:If the scholarly consensus, made up of mostly Christian scholars with a vested interest in maintaining Jesus' historicity (because most of the money and job opportunities are funded by fellow Christians), is really built upon such a feeble house of cards? You're damn right I'm skeptical about the whole fucking endeavor.

Being skeptical because of what Christian scholars do is no good excuse to throw the baby out with the bath water. This right here demonstrates your extreme bias, and most certainly explains to me what your agenda here actually is.

We can dislike things until we are blue in the face, but all this dislike will never get to the actual truth.

Quote:
(11-03-2015 05:25 PM)Free Wrote:  It's more than just the scholars dude, it's all about the textual evidence from numerous sources.

It's all about a chain of evidence beginning with the Gospel records, to the contemporary Paul and rest of the NT (AD 40 - 85), Clement (AD 90), Josephus (AD 93), Tacitus (AD 111) Polycarp (AD 130), Justin Martyr (AD 150) and on and on.

The exact same thing is constantly corroborated over and over with numerous cultures, including the Romans, Greeks, Jews, Christians, and Pagans. We see it from believers and non believers alike, so why do you have this problem accepting this argument?

When you have this much evidence displayed on a time-line from the time of Jesus to more than 100 years later from numerous diverse sources, the argument for historicity completely and utterly destroys the argument for Mythicism, hands down.

Of which, none of them are independently verifiable.

That's where you and other denialists go seriously and intentionally wrong. You absolutely refuse to see the elephant in the room, which is the fact that all these independent sources verify each other.


Quote:Everything that came after the Gospels were written is suspect because none of these later sources can be verified to have gotten their information from a source other than the Gospels themselves.

Not true. Josephus' second mention of Jesus and James, and Tacitus both demonstrate non Christian sources.

Quote:Once fucking again, does copying a source get you two independent sources? Does copying it, and letting pass through a half-dozen different hands that all re-write it a little bit differently, count as a separate inexpedient source? No, on both counts.

As discussed with Bucky, the synoptics are likely a product of Q, but John is something completely different. Therefore, you can combine the synoptics if you want, and you will still have 2 almost completely different Gospel records attesting to the crucifixion of Jesus.

Quote:You keep assuming that the later mentions are independent, and as such can be counted as corroborative evidence. I don't assume they are independent (because you cannot assume, you have to show they are independent), because it cannot be established that they got their information from a source other than the Gospels themselves.

Again, Josephus and Tacitus.

Quote:Do you now, finally, understand just how shaky the foundation of your arguments are?

The ground I stand on is solid, but you do not seem to understand the problems with your position, or the position of undeserved skepticism.

Firstly, you assume that all non Gospel mentions of the crucifixion of Jesus must, by necessity have come from the Gospel records. Here's the problem:

We have the Apostle Paul who quoted virtually nothing from the gospels stating ad nausium that Jesus was crucified.

He doesn't quote a single Gospel verse at all regarding the crucifixion, and most people, including Mythicists, agree that Paul knew virtually nothing about the gospels.

So how can you say that all the evidence points back to the Gospels when Paul never quotes them, and doesn't show any sign of them even existing?

The Apostle Paul demonstrates a non Gospel source for the crucifixion of Jesus.

Didn't think of that one, did you?

Drinking Beverage

Back later ...

How can anyone become an atheist when we are all born with no beliefs in the first place? I am an atheist because it is the natural state of being we are all born into.
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12-03-2015, 05:17 PM
RE: Debating the historical Jesus
I ain't putting a dog in this fight but I've got a question for Free that I wouldn't mind an answer to if you wouldn't mind lad.

How did you get from Tacitus claiming access to authors who have given both accounts of how the The Great Fire started to proof of Christs crucifixion? It seems rather plain that Tacitus claims access to information dealing with the fire itself and whether it was accidental or purposely set by Nero, and maybe even who Nero blamed it on, but I see no reason to assume that these authors, to which he claims as sources, also wrote about the crucifixion an event 60+ years removed, in another part of the empire, and almost wholly unrelated to the fire.

I see evidence of sources talking about the fire, I'll even give you that I see the possibility of evidence that Nero blamed it on the Christians, but I see no evidence for contemporary sources of the crucifixion as a separate event.

How did you connect those dots?

Again, ain't putting a dog in this fight at the moment I'm just curious.

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12-03-2015, 05:19 PM
RE: Debating the historical Jesus
(12-03-2015 04:57 PM)Free Wrote:  You say this after you claim that proving Jesus did not exist is the exact same thing as doubting he existed?

Seriously?

Uh...pretty sure he was being sarcastic Free.

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12-03-2015, 05:32 PM
RE: Debating the historical Jesus
(12-03-2015 03:24 PM)Free Wrote:  Yes, you shifted the goal posts. It doesn't matter who the authors of those previous histories were, for the fact of the matter is the question itself of where Tacitus got his sources from has been answered.
Sure the initial focus was on Tacitus' account because Tacitus' account was provided as the evidence . The goal post is validating the reliability of the information within Tacitus' documented account. The goal post has never been "knowledge of where Tacitus got his information from". You have provided a vague answer as to where Tacitus got his information from, but this does not address the goal of assessing the reliability of the information. Knowing that Tacitus got his information from documents written by two or more un-named Roman historians does not resolve the reliability issue of the information. We still don't know the important aspects of:
- How much time passed from the event to when the original documented account was written.
- What is the relationship between the author of the accont and the event? Were they an eye witness, had they heard rumors, had information been passed down by word of mouth through several links in a chain before it got to the author?
- How had the information been varified by the author?
(12-03-2015 03:24 PM)Free Wrote:  Since Tacitus regards them as "authors," indicating the plural, it demonstrates that he used multiple sources for his works.
Plural could mean 2 or it could mean more. 50 authors would have more reliability than two. Tacitus was writting about the fire, he may have had plural authors talking about the fire but perhaps only one talked about the leader of "The Way" cult being blamed and punished for it. We just don't know if plural authors talked about that aspect.
(12-03-2015 03:24 PM)Free Wrote:  Since Tacitus was writing around AD 111, and the fires of Rome occurred around AD 60, it shows us that the sources Tacitus used were only a few decades old at the most, but most likely no more than 40 years.
111-60 = 51 years
There is lots of scope here for unreliable information.
Have you ever played Chinese whispers? in the space of 10 minutes a verbal message can get very mixed up.
When was the information that ultimately led to Tacitus account first documented?
1 year after the event? 5 years after, 10 years, 20 years? 40 years?
The fact that we don't know, casts a great big shadow of doubt on this information. The first documented account that we know of was Tacitus' account and his was 51 years later. We have no idea as to the path that information took before it got to Tacitus. I understand that it seems Tacitus was a genuine historian and was keen to provide solid information but it seems he may not have had much to go on here. Although he took the fire incident seriously especially regarding the cause, he may have thought the plight of the leader of "the way" as being a somewhat trivial tidbit and may have not given that as much scrutiny. Who knows?
(12-03-2015 03:24 PM)Free Wrote:  We don't need to know who wrote the previous histories, for all that is required here is to know and understand that the evidence indicates that Tacitus used Roman sources for his works, and did not get his information from Christians.
But the goal is to evaluate the reliability of the information. And with that goal in mind, the history of the path of the information is critical. At what point does the information come from a reliable source i.e. a witness, how much time passed before it was first documented? How many people did it verbally traverse before it was first written down? how many times was the information re-written prior to Tacitus re-writing it himself?
I know you don't think any of this is important but I consider it to be crucial with regards to the reliability of the historical information. I guess that is why the Historical Method asks all of these things.

I am not denying that it is interesting that Tacitus wrote about the leader of "The way" having been punished around that time, under the rule of Pilot.
I'm sure Christianity must have had a founder at some point in history. The question is, was the founder of what was eventually to become Christianity put to death by Pilot?
When historians say "Jesus did exist" is this what they mean? That the precursor to Christianity had a leader/founder who was crucified under Pilot?
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12-03-2015, 06:07 PM
RE: Debating the historical Jesus
(12-03-2015 05:17 PM)WhiskeyDebates Wrote:  I ain't putting a dog in this fight but I've got a question for Free that I wouldn't mind an answer to if you wouldn't mind lad.

How did you get from Tacitus claiming access to authors who have given both accounts of how the The Great Fire started to proof of Christs crucifixion? It seems rather plain that Tacitus claims access to information dealing with the fire itself and whether it was accidental or purposely set by Nero, and maybe even who Nero blamed it on, but I see no reason to assume that these authors, to which he claims as sources, also wrote about the crucifixion an event 60+ years removed, in another part of the empire, and almost wholly unrelated to the fire.

I see evidence of sources talking about the fire, I'll even give you that I see the possibility of evidence that Nero blamed it on the Christians, but I see no evidence for contemporary sources of the crucifixion as a separate event.

How did you connect those dots?

Again, ain't putting a dog in this fight at the moment I'm just curious.

I connect that dots by demonstrating that Tacitus used Roman historical sources for his retelling of the Great Fires of Rome, which has the part regarding Christ and the Christians within that particular body of text.

As has been previously demonstrated, Tacitus used Roman historical accounts for his works just before the part about Christus and the Christians, and I will demonstrate again that he was still using the works of previous writers in the paragraph immediately after the one mentioning Christ and the Christians which was Chapter 15:44.

Note the bold and underlined print below:

[15.45] "Meanwhile Italy was thoroughly exhausted by contributions of money, the provinces were ruined, as also the allied nations and the free states, as they were called. Even the gods fell victims to the plunder; for the temples in Rome were despoiled and the gold carried off, which, for a triumph or a vow, the Roman people in every age had consecrated in their prosperity or their alarm.

Throughout Asia and Achaia not only votive gifts, but the images of deities were seized, Acratus and Secundus Carinas having been sent into those provinces. The first was a freedman ready for any wickedness; the latter, as far as speech went, was thoroughly trained in Greek learning, but he had not imbued his heart with sound principles. Seneca, it was said, to avert from himself the obloquy of sacrilege, begged for the seclusion of a remote rural retreat, and, when it was refused, feigning ill health, as though he had a nervous ailment, would not quit his chamber.

According to some writers, poison was prepared for him at Nero's command by his own freedman, whose name was Cleonicus. This Seneca avoided through the freedman's disclosure, or his own apprehension, while he used to support life on the very simple diet of wild fruits, with water from a running stream when thirst prompted."


As you can see, Tacitus can be demonstrated as using Roman historical sources for his work both within the context of the section describing the fires, Christ, and the Christians, and then immediately after in the very next paragraph.

Therefore, with him detailing his sources within the context, and all around it, we have no good reason to assume that he was not using Roman historical sources for the insignificant part concerning the Christians and Christ.

I can understand how many will view this from a Jesus existed/Jesus didn't exist perspective, but that is not how this should be viewed. In all intellectual honesty, it should be viewed from strictly a Roman perspective in which we have an ancient Roman historian merely going about his business writing Roman history, and using Roman sources to accomplish this.

After all, Tacitus wasn't writing Christian history here. Also, my point here is not to demonstrate that this conclusively proves anything, but rather only to strengthen the argument that Tacitus, being a Roman, would of course used Roman sources for his Roman history book.

To me, with all Jesus existed/never existed contentions aside, from a strictly historical perspective, all I see here is Roman history.

How can anyone become an atheist when we are all born with no beliefs in the first place? I am an atheist because it is the natural state of being we are all born into.
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12-03-2015, 06:21 PM
RE: Debating the historical Jesus
(12-03-2015 05:19 PM)WhiskeyDebates Wrote:  
(12-03-2015 04:57 PM)Free Wrote:  You say this after you claim that proving Jesus did not exist is the exact same thing as doubting he existed?

Seriously?

Uh...pretty sure he was being sarcastic Free.

That's certainly a better explanation then idiocy, because I could not accept anyone could say anything so fucking stupid and actually mean it.

How can anyone become an atheist when we are all born with no beliefs in the first place? I am an atheist because it is the natural state of being we are all born into.
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