Did Jesus Really Exist?
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23-07-2011, 10:21 PM
RE: Did Jesus Really Exist?
Some great posts on this thread.

Wow, I'm in awe of the knowledge some of you guys have. I have never studied early AD history but I have read the bible (was forced to in school).

IMPO I think that maybe the person known as Jesus did exist but he was just a man. A man causing many problems within his community and eventually being crucified for it.
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24-07-2011, 08:12 AM (This post was last modified: 24-07-2011 08:37 AM by Bucky Ball.)
RE: Did Jesus Really Exist?
(19-07-2011 07:02 AM)Shannow Wrote:  The quick answer is that it is very likely that someone called Jesus Christ existed.
The problem in proving or disproving his existence is due to the complete absence of eye witness accounts that substantiate what's in the bible. There aren't any.
Jesus is mentioned just a few years after his death by a number of notable historians, my favorite is Josephus, but scholars as far away as Persia mention a chap called Jesus creating a bit of stir in downtown Jerusalem.
What's interesting, and tends to stir most Christian apologists into something of a froth, is the fact that none of these historians describe Jesus as a divine being, none of them mention his divinity, miracles or resurrection.
1. Did a Jewish itinerant preacher called Jesus of Nazareth exist? Yes - Supported by evidence.
2. Did he teach a message that was largely at odds with the Orthodox Jewish views of his contemporaries? Yes - Supported by evidence.
3. Did this lead to his death? Probably, the fact that the crucifixion story is repeated accurately by all 3 authors of the Gospels gives it a bit of weight.
4. Yeah, I meant 3, a guy who wasn't called Mark wrote Mark, Someone called Q (no link to James Bond unfortuately) wrote most of Luke & Matthew, and a chap in Ephesus wrote John....this important side-note rarely gets the attention it deserves in Sunday School.

EVERYTHING else in the gospel story, the lineage of Jesus, his divinity, the miracles, his birth, when he said things and where he said things cannot be proved and is considered a "matter of personal faith" by the vast majority of serious historians on the planet.

Hope that helps

S

(permitting please my numbering, (and spelling corrections).....
Agree with some of that.
re #1. It seems likely to me that Yeshua bar Josef probably did exist. My favorite source is also Titus Flavius Josephus, even though there is some controversy about the paragraphs in his manuscripts which mention Jesus.
Just the fact that there is so much documented "in-fighting" among the many early Christian communities about the interpretations they were fighting about giving to the events in questions, to me, (common sense) implies : "something" happened. (If Peter and James were reported to be fighting, (both eye witnesses), they must have had a good reason to do that, and NOT just be "faking" it). And why would a completely "fake" history record ANY disagreement ? Wouldn't it make more sense to record COMPLETE agreement and CONVINCING agreement, if it was just made up ?
re #2. Agree, but not completely. It, (Yeshua's teaching), was enough within the scope enough of the orthodox views that the orthodox figures found it worthwhile to argue about it, at least a few times, with him, publicly. Again I think the disagreement came down to an economic threat. If there is no need to have the "experts" tell the "sheep" what the legal requirements are to please the divinity are, then there is no need to pay the "experts", and they are marginalized.
re #3. Disagree. He was probably already on the "watch" list, but the trial and crucifixion follow closely upon his "overturning the tables of the money changers". In my view he was removed because he was an economic threat to the city whose economy was almost entirely "temple based". See my posts on other boards re this. The vast percentage of the Jerusalem economy was based on the rituals of the temple, and the periodic "festivals", (fees for bathing at the ritual baths, fees for the animals for the offerings, fees to the priests, fees for the sacrifice preparers, fees for temple entry, fees for this fees for that), and all that that implies.....animal husbandry and disposal and control, etc., etc. Yeshua was perceived as a threat to all that, after his civil disobedience in the temple, and that is why they decided to remove him, (IMHO).
re #4. Agree but you vastly over-simplify, (perfectly reasonably of course....I am not criticizing here), the question of sources for the synoptics. As this is not the question discussed here, I will let that go here, and simply agree.

re :
"EVERYTHING else in the gospel story, the lineage of Jesus,"
The lineage is problematic. For example, Mathew spends the ENTIRE first chapter trying to establish the lineage through Josef, (to establish a link to the Davidic line, and thus "fulfill the prophesy"), and then at the end at that chapter says Josef was NOT the father, ( ? the first Maurey Povich show on record? haha ). It makes no sense.

re : "his divinity"
Agree. Yeshua NEVER claimed "divinity"(he MAY have claimed to be "the son of MAN") and those questions, ((his self perception as "divine", (which would have been blasphemous to any Jew of the day), and the MANY varying views of others of his divinity), and when that, (divinity), might have "begun", or "continued"....and each gospel has a different view of that question, is a tremendously complicated subject, and there were so many views of it, it CAN be summarized as simply "a matter of personal faith".

re : " the miracles, his birth, when he said things and where he said things cannot be proved and is considered a "matter of personal faith" by the vast majority of serious historians on the planet."
Agree, and each is an interesting subject in itself. They are the subjects of lifetimes of work of those serious historians, none of which can be proved, and are the subjects of ongoing disputes, (and while interesting), accrue NO agreement, (even though there are some well established "camps" of agreement(s). (ex: The Jesus Seminar).

Insufferable know-it-all.Einstein
Those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music - Friedrich Nietzsche
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24-07-2011, 12:18 PM
RE: Did Jesus Really Exist?
(22-07-2011 10:51 AM)SumAtheosMagnus Wrote:  Okay, so if he didn't exist, then cool. It means that Christianity, Catholism, Iglesia, etc. is even more disprovable. But if he did exist, is it a problem for us atheists? If not, how? If yes, what can we do to fix it when it comes to a debate?

Whether or not Jesus is a work of fiction or a mythologized version of a real person, or a mythologized compliation of several real people, makes no difference in terms of his "divinity". There is still no reason to believe that he was the son of God and a virgin mother, or that the Earth is only 6,000 years old, or Noah's Ark is a true story...in short, even if Jesus existed as a person, it doesn't prove God exists. So there is no problem for atheists.

In fact, that the Jesus story is based upon a real person probably lends atheists even more weight, since we can refer to many other examples of historical inaccuracies about the feats and quotes and attributes granted other known-to-have-existed people as evidence that people, when writing histories with a bias, have been known to exaggerate, fabricate, and delete to make the stories suit their own tastes.

Whatever stories we have of Jesus, they are not first-person accounts, but re-tellings that were first recorded at least a couple of generations later. So the veracity of any of those stories is in very serious doubt. People today can't read a newspaper story with confidence that it's telling them the real facts of the matter, and when they decide to repeat the story to a friend, they invariably leave out or add something crucial to it, and then if the story is repeated yet again, it gets changed again, until the re-telling no longer resembles the initial story at all.

So how can anyone accept the Bible stories as the literal truth, knowing the human propensity for changing a story whether deliberately or not? And we have ample evidence to say that many of the Bible stories were very deliberately edited to favour the Pope or transcriber of the day to suit their own agendas. So what we're left with is a collection of stories that no one can give any weight to in terms of factual relevance. If there is a single Bible story that bears even a close relation to historical truth, it is a "miracle" of coincidence.

What boggles my mind is how so many thousands if not millions of people can confidently wave the damn book around shouting that it's the perfect word of God and every letter in it is the literal truth! That takes a leap of faith which requires the dismissal of all logic, reason, personal experience, and common sense.

The way to see by Faith, is to shut the eye of Reason. - Ben Franklin
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24-07-2011, 05:38 PM
RE: Did Jesus Really Exist?
@Sumatheos Magus - Is it a problem for atheists if Jesus existed?

Not for me, I have just as much respect for Jesus as I do for Gandhi or Alexander the Great or Plato. They all speak to us about their time in history, their tectonic struggles for power, their failures, thier victories and ultimately their humanity.

All of the men above would have been completely baffled if you'd suggested to them that they were divine, immortals sent from another dimension to right the wrongs of humanity. How the early church fabricated a divine Christ over the course of about 300 years, and then went on to create the most genocidal institution ever seen is a matter for another forum post.

@buckyball - Interesting viewpoint on the economic motivation for the murder of Jesus, I like it, is there anywhere I can read further? Glad I'm not he only one who thinks Joesephus is still a valid source!
Apologies for 'vast over-simplification', Just wanted to stay on topic and not bore people with loads of detail on slightly off-topic stuff...happy to explore any of that in depth Smile
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24-07-2011, 08:55 PM
RE: Did Jesus Really Exist?
(24-07-2011 05:38 PM)Shannow Wrote:  @Sumatheos Magus - Is it a problem for atheists if Jesus existed?

Not for me, I have just as much respect for Jesus as I do for Gandhi or Alexander the Great or Plato. They all speak to us about their time in history, their tectonic struggles for power, their failures, thier victories and ultimately their humanity.

All of the men above would have been completely baffled if you'd suggested to them that they were divine, immortals sent from another dimension to right the wrongs of humanity. How the early church fabricated a divine Christ over the course of about 300 years, and then went on to create the most genocidal institution ever seen is a matter for another forum post.

@buckyball - Interesting viewpoint on the economic motivation for the murder of Jesus, I like it, is there anywhere I can read further? Glad I'm not he only one who thinks Joesephus is still a valid source!
Apologies for 'vast over-simplification', Just wanted to stay on topic and not bore people with loads of detail on slightly off-topic stuff...happy to explore any of that in depth Smile

I forgot to add that ALL those fees had to be paid in Jewish currency, and changed from Roman currency which they had to use for civil matters, (thus the money changers), (also the priests charged fees to "do" the sacrifices, so they were threatened also). It's all about the money.
I will look for better references. There is one at :
http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/...us_1.shtml

Insufferable know-it-all.Einstein
Those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music - Friedrich Nietzsche
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24-07-2011, 11:25 PM
RE: Did Jesus Really Exist?
Hello everyone. I'm new... but I just had to drop in one of my favorite reads on the subject... I just couldn't resist....

http://www.ebonmusings.org/atheism/camel.html

...or if you want more well documented entries on many biblical fallacies,

http://www.ebonmusings.org/atheism/index.html

These are some of my favorite meditations on atheism.

Cheers!

Who can turn skies back and begin again?
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25-07-2011, 05:36 AM
RE: Did Jesus Really Exist?
Addendum : There are numerous theories about how Yeshua bar Josof was a political threat to the priests, and the High Priest, or to one or the other of the Roman authorities. I also don't buy that, (but would gladly entertain anyone's theories on why he would have been). Yeshua was a NOBODY, just one of many itinerant apocalyptic preachers, this one from the "sticks" of Galilee. He was a hillbilly. He was a gnat on the arm of the Jewish authorities. Only when he annoyed them with his civil disobedience and tried to "cleanse" the temple did he seal his fate, IMHO.

Insufferable know-it-all.Einstein
Those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music - Friedrich Nietzsche
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25-07-2011, 06:44 AM
RE: Did Jesus Really Exist?
@buckyball:

Thanks for the link - I'm digesting...you asked for theories...

One of our members, Mark Fulton wrote a really interesting thread on the forum called "Was Jesus a terrorist?" - it's part of his soon to be published book (which is excellent). He posits that Jesus was a zealot, just like Judas Iscariot and 3 or 4 of the other disciples. Mark goes as far to say that Jesus was actively involved in some kind of plot to overthrow the Romans.

It's an interesting theory, the latter part doesn't quite do it for me, but there are some 'symptoms' that suggest Jesus had exposure to and likely sympathised with the Zealot sect of the Jews. There were Jewish rebellions in 6 CE, which Jeusus would have known about and the revolt was violently suppressed.

The similarities between the Zealots in occupied Judea and the Taliban in occupied Afghanistan are fascinating. Both are/were hard-line fundamentalists that beleive in the literal intrepretation of thier Holy Texts, both are not scared to risk thier lives in pursuit of thier beliefs and both believe in a liberator who would be divine and free thier people from their respective oppressors. Sorry...tangent...

Jesus's entry into Jerusalem to cries of 'Hosanna' certainly hint that sections of the community believed he was the Jewish Messiah...although our only source for this event is the bible...if it's true, then he would have been a poster-boy for the Zealots as soon as he set foot in the city....was he complicit in a plot? I don't know, but it's fun to speculate.

Quote:He was a hillbilly. He was a gnat on the arm of the Jewish authorities

Absolutely agree...the Romans were incredibly good at writing things down, the fact that our man Joesephus (outside of the TF) writes more about John the Baptist, Herod and James (possibly the brother of Jesus, certainly a critical member of the Jewish community) than he does about Jesus is telling...it tells us that Jesus was a very small part of the dramas unfolding in occupied Judea. I've already mentioned 10 historians that sort of mention Jesus in thier writings. In every single one, he gets less than a couple of lines of text. None of them explore his divinity in any detail or look at his life or mention his miracles...which either means he's divine but had a bad publicist, or he's not divine...hmm...
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25-07-2011, 08:02 AM
RE: Did Jesus Really Exist?
I know several teachings attributed to Jesus were actually in the Dead Sea Scrolls. These scrolls were part if the library kept by a sect called the Essenes and if Jesus was not one himself he appeared to be influenced by them.

The Essene movement was started by Jews who felt the priests in Jerusalem (backed by Harod and Rome) were illegitimate since they could not trace their ancestry to the biblical Aaron. The Essenses make it their goal to lead a revolution, but more interested in overthrowing the Maccabean priests than Rome. I have several books in my library on the Dead Sea Scrolls that paint this picture. If true it could give Jesus overturning tables in the temple an entirely different meaning.

“There is no sin except stupidity.” Oscar Wilde
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25-07-2011, 11:30 AM (This post was last modified: 25-07-2011 11:42 AM by Bucky Ball.)
RE: Did Jesus Really Exist?
(25-07-2011 08:02 AM)nontheocrat Wrote:  I know several teachings attributed to Jesus were actually in the Dead Sea Scrolls. These scrolls were part if the library kept by a sect called the Essenes and if Jesus was not one himself he appeared to be influenced by them.

The Essene movement was started by Jews who felt the priests in Jerusalem (backed by Harod and Rome) were illegitimate since they could not trace their ancestry to the biblical Aaron. The Essenses make it their goal to lead a revolution, but more interested in overthrowing the Maccabean priests than Rome. I have several books in my library on the Dead Sea Scrolls that paint this picture. If true it could give Jesus overturning tables in the temple an entirely different meaning.

Disagree. Many assume Yeshua bar Josef had SOME connection to the Essenes, but would be interested in what "sayings" link him to them. If the motivation WAS the overthrow of the Maccabean priests, then why did he never talk about it, ever. And even assuming it WAS the motivation, it would not necessarily mean the priests would NOT see the "overturning" (of the tables), as an economic threat. Could be both ?? If the target was the priests, why not target them more directly ? Will be interested in the book about Jesus as terrorist, but since he seemed to be sort of uninterested in the occupation, (or a restoration of the kingdom), (never mentioned in the gospels), and even OK with it, ..."Render unto Caesar" etc., I will be skeptical. He seemed more interested in humanitarian pursuits, (feeding and healing and philosophical discussions).

Insufferable know-it-all.Einstein
Those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music - Friedrich Nietzsche
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