If Jesus Never Existed...
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06-05-2017, 03:10 PM (This post was last modified: 06-05-2017 04:36 PM by RocketSurgeon76.)
RE: If Jesus Never Existed...
I'm still chuckling over Tacitus as solid evidence for the crucifixion (a topic I've covered several times before and won't drag y'all through again) and the notion that the only reason people writing just before (with most writing after) a Roman invasion that would lead to a genocidally bloody guerilla would write about a leader martyed by the Romans is if it actually happened.

Now I happen to think that Jesus as a real guy who was killed (was he hanged, as the Jews claimed in the Talmud and which the Gospel writers claim is a conspiracy of lies, or were the Gospel writers the ones changing it to a crucifixion claim as part of their anti-Rome and anti-Sadducee-collaborator agenda?) in the course of those traumatic days, and his small body of preserved sayings (Q document) was told and retold among groups awaiting his triumphant return to lead them to the Kingdom of Heaven (a la the movie of that title, not the celestial paradise) until it resembled little of its origin.

I would say that the LAST thing we should consider "the real story" is that which is being claimed by the Gospel writers, in the transformative years following the destruction of the Temple, even if some nuggets of it appear to be traceable to older tales that may indicate a real guy who really started a kernel group of disciples. There are too many transformative events and too many agendas.

We talk about the 30-50 years between the alleged time of Jesus and when this stuff was penned into Gospel (probably) as if it's just three or more regular ol' decades, like 1980 to today or something. No. These were literally the most politically and militarily violent years that region ever saw... despite being a region known for such violence.

The mythological stories of the Torah/Old Testament were formed in the wake of the last such destructive invasions (Assyria and Babylon), and invented things like the Exodus to give the groups an identity. Why should we expect this process to be any different for the New Testament?

It's the glaring falsehoods that should give us pause--- the after-the-fact invention of "connecting origins details" that turn out to have been impossible to be true. The Exodus and conquest of Canaan, for instance, in the original. The taxation census a couple decades too early, which caused Joseph to connect two prophecies, moving the Nazarene to Bethlehem, for instance.

These are the threads that people who make their living pleasing religious organizations/departments do not often tie together for us. They just sift through the propaganda to see which parts manage to not conflict with demonstrable reality or others propaganda efforts by others in that same movement. Scholars. Hrmph.

No one, from either side, has a coherent story of the founding of Christianity. We just buy the ones that claim to verify the propaganda narrative established by the group which became dominant and established The Story (orthodoxy) in the wake of the burning of Jerusalem.

Pretending otherwise is a sad straw. And that's all the attention I wish to devote to this sidebar.


Edit: my autocorrect changed "Rome" to "Spam" and "Sadducee" to "Sanderson" without me noticing. This is really hard for me to do by phone.

"Theology made no provision for evolution. The biblical authors had missed the most important revelation of all! Could it be that they were not really privy to the thoughts of God?" - E. O. Wilson
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06-05-2017, 03:10 PM
RE: If Jesus Never Existed...
(06-05-2017 02:31 PM)mordant Wrote:  
(06-05-2017 02:00 PM)SeaJay Wrote:  It's from my Christadelphian teachings and the bible, where it says 'it is appointed man to die once, and then the resurrection.' Still, I've no dog in this fight, if I'm wrong, then I'm wrong.
Ok I just got an education, I was completely unaware of Christadelphianism until this very moment. Despite having experienced about 1000% more study of comparative religion than most random individuals, this one just never came up on my radar. Which speaks to the sheer volume of variants on Christianity.

So your belief-system is unitarian, and teaches soul-sleep, and "eternal insecurity". This explains a lot of your concerns (and as I said, lack of concerns) about various things.

I don't know where I got the idea you had a Mormon background ... probably confused you with someone else. Thanks for the clarification.
You're right about the Mormon background, I was LDS for 10 years. Well, 2 literally, it took my about 8 years to get baptised. Long story.

“I am so clever that sometimes I don't understand a single word of what I am saying.” ~ Oscar Wilde
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06-05-2017, 03:50 PM (This post was last modified: 06-05-2017 04:03 PM by adey67.)
RE: If Jesus Never Existed...
(06-05-2017 01:56 PM)SeaJay Wrote:  
(06-05-2017 01:27 PM)mordant Wrote:  We all carry within us the experiences that formed us. I will never be well and truly rid of a lot of things that have passed through my field of awareness. The schools I attended, the playmates and friends, the women I loved, the times I have been wronged, or surprised by good turns done to me, the zillions facets of my professional life, every jot and tittle of it cannot, at some level, be denied, as if it never was.

I was, for just over 30 years, an evangelical fundamentalist Christian, starting at a little under three months shy of age six. I can't pretend that isn't a part of me, that it does not right at this very moment inform my thought patterns in some way, no matter how much I have debunked / turned from / disavowed / outgrown it.

Catholics seem to have a particular command of this with their aphorism, "once a Catholic, always a Catholic". They rightly recognize that you can't inculcate something in a child and have it totally absent in the adult that child becomes. That is also what's behind the Biblical aphorism, "train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it." That tends to be true, and even when it's not literally true, threads of influences remain.

But this isn't all bad. SeaJay. I will always carry within me, my beloved late wife and my lovely son, and this is undiminished by the fact of my remarriage or that this relationship has given me a "spare son" in my much-treasured stepson, who as I write this, is reveling in pizza leftovers as he watches something on TV, basking in his just-completed straight-A semester at university. I am comforted by my current wife and stepson, but would not want to be free of or dishonor the memory of my late wife or late biological son, or even really to be entirely free of the pain of their absence.

Whether I progress through life with the memory of these and other departed loved ones and ideas and phases, and carry them like nasty splinters that make me sad and bitter, or like fond memories that make me smile, is pretty much up to me. In my case it is largely a matter of being willing to let go of a personal tendency, reinforced by my faith of origin, to rigid thinking, to considering anything that doesn't follow the expected / desired story arc is a broken dead end and must somehow be fixed if there is to be any hope of happiness on that front ever again. That what "should have" or "could have" been, if it in fact ends up NOT being, must rob me forever of the ability to experience any sort of satisfaction.

It's the same with the faith you are clearly letting go of. It is just more change -- the only "constant" in life IS change. All things, good and bad, have a tendency to end and be replaced by other things. It is a natural, organic process, not always comfortable, comforting, or welcome, but it is what all flesh is heir to just the same.

So embrace it, accept that while there will be things you'll miss, and times you will second-guess your decisions, there will also be things you won't miss and times you will be grateful and sure that it is for the best. Choose to focus on the benefits, to be reassured by your continued evolution and growth, to understand that while you'll subjectively feel diminished at times, the reality is that thought habits, beliefs and relationships that have not worked for you SHOULD be shed and that you will GAIN from moving on from them. "When I was a child, I spoke and thought as a child, but when I became a man, I put away childish things". That is one of the few nuggets of wisdom from the Bible I still hold fast to. How I apply it is ironic from a Christian perspective, perhaps, but it is very, very true. You are putting away the things of childhood, a little later than most, but better late than never.

It's a good thing.

Meanwhile you have some losses and you can and should grieve them, even admit that you long for them. Heck, a quarter century after I left the faith, there are times I still feel a little twinge of envy at the comfortable certitude and false sense of belonging that are no longer available to me. But it is just like a nine year old missing thumb-sucking. You'll move on. Because you can and must and should.
Thank you for this thought provoking post mordant Heart

Not sure if there's a process, but so far I've experienced fear, and now loss. There is a genuine feeling of sadness, like I am losing a near and dear friend. Yes there have been terrible times for me in Christianity, but it's also been enriching and has given me comfort a lot of the times as well.

Yes, thinking about it, this kind of sucks right now.

Hug Hugs to you SeaJay. And as a father myself a huge hug to you Mordant, your post bought tears to my eyes Hug
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06-05-2017, 06:21 PM
RE: If Jesus Never Existed...
(06-05-2017 02:00 PM)mordant Wrote:  You apparently haven't considered the very real possibility -- nay, probability -- that he is referencing concepts already in circulation at the time of Christ and that were the basis of the SOTM as well as what was written in James.

No they're way too similar to each other. James had not read any of the gospels, that's pretty clear by the fact that he, well, doesn't use any concepts from them except the SotM, and their theology is more developed/advanced than his. James's source for the SotM is earlier than Matthew.

Quote:Very little about religion "makes sense" so why NOT?

That's not true at all.

Quote:Every day, people give up their lives for all sorts of claptrap that they conceptualize as a greater good or higher ideal. How many soldiers risk their lives for no higher purpose than to have their fellow soldier's backs? I would take a bullet for my wife or stepson, and while they are special (just like everyone else!) they are hardly god figures or culture heroes, much less actual deities.

Right, but you wouldn't do so for something you know is invented. If Jesus was invented then who invented him?

Quote:I don't know. Maybe some guy named Fred came up with them. Or embellished them to suit himself. You are simply making an argument from popular attribution, and then an argument from proximity. Is that all you got?

Well here's the thing, no ancient literary source attributes any of the stuff to Fred, and none of the stuff attributed to Jesus have ever been attributed to someone else.

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06-05-2017, 06:35 PM
RE: If Jesus Never Existed...
(06-05-2017 02:05 PM)mordant Wrote:  Paul's Jesus ... this celestial being ... is not a mere difference in characterization from the flesh-and-blood god-man of the gospels. It is a clear evolution of a mythos, or possibly a competing mythos. Personally I think Paul embraced a version of what we now regard as the "gnostic heresy". Or was, perhaps, even the (unwitting?) originator of it.

The Gnostics were not until the second century.

We don't know precisely how much Paul knew about Jesus the person. He did have some knowledge, but he doesn't seem to know much about his teachings per se. This is to be expected though since Paul repeatedly asserts he receives his teachings by revelation and not by man.

(06-05-2017 03:10 PM)RocketSurgeon76 Wrote:  No one, from either side, has a coherent story of the founding of Christianity.

That's really not true at all. We have a pretty good idea of what happened. Not a perfect and complete idea, but good idea nonetheless. Jesus started a movement and was snuffed out by the Romans. Peter and others experienced visions of their leader which convinced them that he had been raised to heaven after his crucifixion, and so his followers continued preaching in his name. Paul was converted, as were many others. I say "converted" but it was still just quite a normal first century Jewish sect. The mythology grew over the the first century, due in large part to Paul's very different message that the early believers somehow incorporated into their malleable belief-set. In the second century Christianity continued to be successful in growing, and by the end of the fourth century it was indeed one of the most successful religions of its age.

The beliefs that Jesus had though were very different from what was preached by Paul. Jesus wanted to restore Judaism to what he saw was the "right" interpretation (he said he came for the "lost sheep of Israel"), but he ended up sparking a whole new religion that bares little in common with his actual message.

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06-05-2017, 09:03 PM
RE: If Jesus Never Existed...
(06-05-2017 12:38 PM)SeaJay Wrote:  Have you seen Carrier's rebuttal to the above video?

http://www.richardcarrier.info/archives/11435

OK, so Carrier claims that Ehrman makes numerous fallacies. What he doesn't tell you and refuses to accept is that he himself makes them for his Celestial Jesus arguments. He takes things from Classics that have nothing to do with Judaism and then apply them to first century Judaism and say that it explains the origins of the Jesus Myth. I'm not sure why anyone finds this argument compelling, it would be like saying that Hitler was influenced by Saddam Hussein or other such nonsense.

Furthermore one of the other things Carrier does is look down on anyone who holds religious beliefs. As soon as that's the case, he thinks they're not even worth his time and respect. This, by the way, is incredibly disrespectful to his peers in academia.

Now as I say here, I only learned recently that the majority of Muslim scholars in the world disbelieve the Holocaust. Some people would say that's scary, I don't think it's scary I think it's just incredibly repulsive. And it goes to show how a bias can lead people to hold beliefs that are so far removed from reality.

The majority of theistic scholars, believe it or not, do doubt the resurrection. This is something you don't hear very often, because it's not something that most Christians would tolerate being taught in Church. Now I would say that shows that they can be objective, but no one is without bias and I don't pretend this to be the case. The majority of secular/non-religious NT scholars do not consider there to be any real possibility that Jesus of Nazareth never lived.

Now, I am fascinated by the history of the early church. Carrier himself claims that the dark period between the letters of Paul and the second century writings from church fathers show that the history of the early church has been revised, and we don't know what happened during that time. This argument is based on nothing other than his own assumptions. In fact we have a pretty clear idea of what went on. Also, from the writings of Paul we do know that the early church was sectarian and that's not at all surprising given his tendency to preach the gospel he feels he receives directly from God rather than the one the other leaders of the church were teaching.

The book of James I want to bring up again. James is heavily influenced by the SotM and nothing else that Jesus taught. He also doesn't use any teachings of Paul, or employ Paul's theology. The book of James shows an independent source of early Christian thinking that is not tied to the letters of Paul or the four gospels. There is just no way to explain this in Carrier's model - in Carrier's model Christianity starts with Paul, and the gospels show the progressive theology from Paul to the end of the first century. If that's the case where does James fit in? He's not influenced by Paul!! So Paul can't have been the catalyst for Christianity, otherwise James would have to have been influenced by him.

In Carrier's model all of the writings are dependant on a single source - and he believes that's Paul. Paul created Jesus, and others expanded on this creation. As I've shown above though that doesn't explain the letter of James, and nor does it explain how the gospels came to theologies that contradict Pauline theology either. Paul is incredibly important in shaping the early church that's true, but the gospels showing varying degrees of Pauline influence which implies that the core influence were something different (the teachings of Jesus).

Now for the crucifixion story he believes everything is based on Mark. But how can this be when Paul already knows about the crucifixion and the resurrection, and according to Carrier he writes well before Mark? This is just one of the many things that doesn't fit in Carrier's narrative - he claims that Paul didn't really know about the crucifixion and talks about a celestial death and burial, even though there's not a shred of credible evidence for that to be found in the Pauline epistles.

He claims that Paul never places the crucifixion of Jesus on earth. Well where does he place it then, Richard? In the heavens? No he doesn't! If someone says their messiah died by Roman crucifixion, then the natural assumption would be that this event took place somewhere within the Roman empire.

Philippians 2:6-8:
In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death –
even death on a cross!


Galatians 4:4-5:
But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship.

Doesn't sound to me like he's talking about a celestial being that never lived on earth and taught his disciples - yet that is exactly what Carrier claims! How can you be born a Jew under the law of Moses in heaven? How can a celestial being be a descendant of King David (Romans 1:3)? How does he have a still living blood brother James (Gal 1:19)? If he was crucified up in heaven how was it that the terrestrial authorities carried it out (1 Cor 2:8)? Doesn't make sense. These beliefs that Carrier claims the early Christians had cannot be shown to exist in ancient Judaism anywhere.

And finally, as I've already mentioned, the earliest creed in the Bible is found in 1 Cor 15:3-6, and even Carrier admits it can be traced back to within months of the start of the religion following the crucifixion. Paul says he was taught it... how is that possible in Carrier's model?

Actually, one last point. Paul persecuted the early church. This fact is not doubted because he shows deep regret in his letters, and it's not something you would make up. What explanation does Carrier have for Paul admitting to persecuting the church that he supposedly started?

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06-05-2017, 09:23 PM (This post was last modified: 06-05-2017 09:42 PM by Bucky Ball.)
RE: If Jesus Never Existed...
(06-05-2017 06:35 PM)Aractus Wrote:  The Gnostics were not until the second century.

We've been through this before, and your bullshit CLAIM about Gnosticism was thoroughly debunked with MANY MANY references. You (per your usual) provide none.
http://zeltmacher.eu/wp-content/uploads/...ticism.pdf
You seem to think that repeating simplistic crap you learned in Sunday School, with no references, passes for knowledge, and scholarship.

Insufferable know-it-all.Einstein God has a plan for us. Please stop screwing it up with your prayers.
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06-05-2017, 09:48 PM
RE: If Jesus Never Existed...
(06-05-2017 06:35 PM)Aractus Wrote:  That's really not true at all. We have a pretty good idea of what happened. Not a perfect and complete idea, but good idea nonetheless. Jesus started a movement and was snuffed out by the Romans.

Jesus "started" nothing. He was a Jewish apocalypticist who said the end was coming in the life-time of his followers. He said NOTHING about starting a new religion, or a "movement". At the END of the 1st Century, the members of the Way sub-sect of Jews (Christians) were still going to synagogue, (the Expulsion Curses were required to be read). In the year 400 CE, John Chrysostom told HIS congregation to stop going to synagogue, (Christmas sermon). We don't have "a pretty good idea" of anything. You make up nonsense, and repeat it as if it has some truth value, WITH NO REFERENCES, and it's nothing but uninformed opinion.

Insufferable know-it-all.Einstein God has a plan for us. Please stop screwing it up with your prayers.
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06-05-2017, 10:34 PM
RE: If Jesus Never Existed...
(06-05-2017 09:23 PM)Bucky Ball Wrote:  We've been through this before, and your bullshit CLAIM about Gnosticism was thoroughly debunked with MANY MANY references. You (per your usual) provide none.
http://zeltmacher.eu/wp-content/uploads/...ticism.pdf
You seem to think that repeating simplistic crap you learned in Sunday School, with no references, passes for knowledge, and scholarship.

You link to an anonymous, undated essay?

It has nothing to do with Sunday school, you're just making broad straw man arguments. The wide majority view amongst scholars is that Gnosticism is not until the 2nd century - both Hurtado and Ehrman have stated as much. And although some scholars might believe it came earlier, there's no hard evidence to that effect.

(06-05-2017 09:48 PM)Bucky Ball Wrote:  Jesus "started" nothing. He was a Jewish apocalypticist who said the end was coming in the life-time of his followers. He said NOTHING about starting a new religion, or a "movement". At the END of the 1st Century, the members of the Way sub-sect of Jews (Christians) were still going to synagogue, (the Expulsion Curses were required to be read). In the year 400 CE, John Chrysostom told HIS congregation to stop going to synagogue, (Christmas sermon). We don't have "a pretty good idea" of anything. You make up nonsense, and repeat it as if it has some truth value, WITH NO REFERENCES, and it's nothing but uninformed opinion.

So you're agreeing that he's a historical figure - I'm not sure what all this bullshit disagreement is about.

I already said that Jesus didn't intend to start a whole new religion - several times. That's simply what happened, but what he wanted was to preach the version of Judaism that he believed. And yes he believed the end-times were coming in his lifetime/generation.

We have a pretty good idea of what happened between 30AD and 130AD. Carrier claims that we don't. Now I've already gone over most of what we know about the development of early Christology: 1. Jesus preached, called disciples, and was crucified. 2. Some of his followers had visions. 3. Paul began preaching his own gospel in the name of Jesus. 4. The gospels were written. There's no "guesswork" whatsoever there.

The term "Christian" is used in Acts of the Apostles and in the letter of 1 Peter - so they did in fact have their own identity by the time Acts was written. They had grown beyond being a Jewish sect - and we know this anyway from the letters of Paul as he preached to gentiles! One of the major points of difference between Judaism and Christianity is that Christians believe in proselytisation - and that goes right back to the start of their movement - even Jesus clearly believed in proselytising.

Were they going to synagogues? Well the Jews certainly were. But their Christian fellowships were held in houses and conducted in secret.

Why don't you start by telling me what about this you actually disagree with?

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07-05-2017, 12:47 AM
RE: If Jesus Never Existed...
(06-05-2017 09:03 PM)Aractus Wrote:  
(06-05-2017 12:38 PM)SeaJay Wrote:  Have you seen Carrier's rebuttal to the above video?

http://www.richardcarrier.info/archives/11435

OK, so Carrier claims that Ehrman makes numerous fallacies. What he doesn't tell you and refuses to accept is that he himself makes them for his Celestial Jesus arguments. He takes things from Classics that have nothing to do with Judaism and then apply them to first century Judaism and say that it explains the origins of the Jesus Myth. I'm not sure why anyone finds this argument compelling, it would be like saying that Hitler was influenced by Saddam Hussein or other such nonsense.

Furthermore one of the other things Carrier does is look down on anyone who holds religious beliefs. As soon as that's the case, he thinks they're not even worth his time and respect. This, by the way, is incredibly disrespectful to his peers in academia.

Now as I say here, I only learned recently that the majority of Muslim scholars in the world disbelieve the Holocaust. Some people would say that's scary, I don't think it's scary I think it's just incredibly repulsive. And it goes to show how a bias can lead people to hold beliefs that are so far removed from reality.

The majority of theistic scholars, believe it or not, do doubt the resurrection. This is something you don't hear very often, because it's not something that most Christians would tolerate being taught in Church. Now I would say that shows that they can be objective, but no one is without bias and I don't pretend this to be the case. The majority of secular/non-religious NT scholars do not consider there to be any real possibility that Jesus of Nazareth never lived.

Now, I am fascinated by the history of the early church. Carrier himself claims that the dark period between the letters of Paul and the second century writings from church fathers show that the history of the early church has been revised, and we don't know what happened during that time. This argument is based on nothing other than his own assumptions. In fact we have a pretty clear idea of what went on. Also, from the writings of Paul we do know that the early church was sectarian and that's not at all surprising given his tendency to preach the gospel he feels he receives directly from God rather than the one the other leaders of the church were teaching.

The book of James I want to bring up again. James is heavily influenced by the SotM and nothing else that Jesus taught. He also doesn't use any teachings of Paul, or employ Paul's theology. The book of James shows an independent source of early Christian thinking that is not tied to the letters of Paul or the four gospels. There is just no way to explain this in Carrier's model - in Carrier's model Christianity starts with Paul, and the gospels show the progressive theology from Paul to the end of the first century. If that's the case where does James fit in? He's not influenced by Paul!! So Paul can't have been the catalyst for Christianity, otherwise James would have to have been influenced by him.

In Carrier's model all of the writings are dependant on a single source - and he believes that's Paul. Paul created Jesus, and others expanded on this creation. As I've shown above though that doesn't explain the letter of James, and nor does it explain how the gospels came to theologies that contradict Pauline theology either. Paul is incredibly important in shaping the early church that's true, but the gospels showing varying degrees of Pauline influence which implies that the core influence were something different (the teachings of Jesus).

Now for the crucifixion story he believes everything is based on Mark. But how can this be when Paul already knows about the crucifixion and the resurrection, and according to Carrier he writes well before Mark? This is just one of the many things that doesn't fit in Carrier's narrative - he claims that Paul didn't really know about the crucifixion and talks about a celestial death and burial, even though there's not a shred of credible evidence for that to be found in the Pauline epistles.

He claims that Paul never places the crucifixion of Jesus on earth. Well where does he place it then, Richard? In the heavens? No he doesn't! If someone says their messiah died by Roman crucifixion, then the natural assumption would be that this event took place somewhere within the Roman empire.

Philippians 2:6-8:
In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death –
even death on a cross!


Galatians 4:4-5:
But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship.

Doesn't sound to me like he's talking about a celestial being that never lived on earth and taught his disciples - yet that is exactly what Carrier claims! How can you be born a Jew under the law of Moses in heaven? How can a celestial being be a descendant of King David (Romans 1:3)? How does he have a still living blood brother James (Gal 1:19)? If he was crucified up in heaven how was it that the terrestrial authorities carried it out (1 Cor 2:8)? Doesn't make sense. These beliefs that Carrier claims the early Christians had cannot be shown to exist in ancient Judaism anywhere.

And finally, as I've already mentioned, the earliest creed in the Bible is found in 1 Cor 15:3-6, and even Carrier admits it can be traced back to within months of the start of the religion following the crucifixion. Paul says he was taught it... how is that possible in Carrier's model?

Actually, one last point. Paul persecuted the early church. This fact is not doubted because he shows deep regret in his letters, and it's not something you would make up. What explanation does Carrier have for Paul admitting to persecuting the church that he supposedly started?
Thank you for this in-depth reply

I am in no position to rebut any of your arguments because I do not know enough about this topic.

Thanks again though for the response

“I am so clever that sometimes I don't understand a single word of what I am saying.” ~ Oscar Wilde
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