Jesus myth
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04-01-2014, 04:42 PM
RE: Jesus myth
(04-01-2014 04:29 PM)Minimalist Wrote:  There must have been 100 men named Y'shua bar Yosef because the names Y'shua and Yosef were terribly common but there was no one named "Jesus Christ" much to the dismay of fundies everywhere.

Did any of them do miracles? I highly doubt it.

Well, "Jesus Christ" is a title, not a name, so even the Christians' Jesus wouldn't have been named "Jesus Christ."

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04-01-2014, 04:51 PM
RE: Jesus myth
(04-01-2014 04:40 PM)maklelan Wrote:  
(04-01-2014 04:28 PM)WillHopp Wrote:  Actually, if you read it again maklelan, you'll see THEY are sidestepping the argument.

No, if the question is whether or not an historical Jesus existed, then the person responding with an argument about salvation through Jesus is sidestepping the argument entirely.

When someone is presented with the evidence of Jesus not existing, the response of someone claiming he did exist needs to be their evidence to the contrary, not sidestepping the initial question with another question, to shift the burden of proof.

The response to the theist about Socrates is of course predicated by admitting that Socrates could very well not have existed, thus not sidestepping, but the Socratic method still works without his existence, there are no ramifications. What are the ramifications if JC didn't exist?

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04-01-2014, 05:21 PM
RE: Jesus myth
(04-01-2014 04:29 PM)Minimalist Wrote:  There must have been 100 men named Y'shua bar Yosef because the names Y'shua and Yosef were terribly common but there was no one named "Jesus Christ" much to the dismay of fundies everywhere.

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04-01-2014, 05:32 PM
RE: Jesus myth
(04-01-2014 04:51 PM)WillHopp Wrote:  When someone is presented with the evidence of Jesus not existing, the response of someone claiming he did exist needs to be their evidence to the contrary, not sidestepping the initial question with another question, to shift the burden of proof.

It's a methodological implication that is intended to point out the fallacy of using an argument from silence as evidence as well as the inconsistency of accepting one historical figure without direct and evidence rejecting another historical figure on the grounds that there is no direct evidence. Whether or not it's a legitimate point, responding with a claim about the reality of Christian soteriology is a complete and total non sequitur.

(04-01-2014 04:51 PM)WillHopp Wrote:  The response to the theist about Socrates is of course predicated by admitting that Socrates could very well not have existed, thus not sidestepping, but the Socratic method still works without his existence, there are no ramifications. What are the ramifications if JC didn't exist?

Utterly irrelevant. That's not the question, it's just sidestepping the question to make an assertion about a broader question. On the other hand, mythicism isn't about just pointing out that Jesus may not have existed, it's about asserting that he did not, and that's where they run afoul of historiographical standards and methodologies.

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04-01-2014, 05:46 PM
RE: Jesus myth
(04-01-2014 05:32 PM)maklelan Wrote:  
(04-01-2014 04:51 PM)WillHopp Wrote:  When someone is presented with the evidence of Jesus not existing, the response of someone claiming he did exist needs to be their evidence to the contrary, not sidestepping the initial question with another question, to shift the burden of proof.

It's a methodological implication that is intended to point out the fallacy of using an argument from silence as evidence as well as the inconsistency of accepting one historical figure without direct and evidence rejecting another historical figure on the grounds that there is no direct evidence. Whether or not it's a legitimate point, responding with a claim about the reality of Christian soteriology is a complete and total non sequitur.

(04-01-2014 04:51 PM)WillHopp Wrote:  The response to the theist about Socrates is of course predicated by admitting that Socrates could very well not have existed, thus not sidestepping, but the Socratic method still works without his existence, there are no ramifications. What are the ramifications if JC didn't exist?

Utterly irrelevant. That's not the question, it's just sidestepping the question to make an assertion about a broader question. On the other hand, mythicism isn't about just pointing out that Jesus may not have existed, it's about asserting that he did not, and that's where they run afoul of historiographical standards and methodologies.

The problem that the Mythicists make is trying to "prove" that there was never a physical person the myths are based on. I think that is irelevant there may have been a guy that wandered around Galilee for a couple years thumbing his nose at Rome but there was never anyone as described in the bible. Jesus Christ Superstar is all hollywood circa 5th century Rome.

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04-01-2014, 06:00 PM
RE: Jesus myth
The bible was created by Constantine I, at the First Council of Nicaea (321ad). He instructed Eusebius of Caesarea to organize the compilation of a uniform collection of new writings developed from primary aspects of the religious texts submitted at the council. His instructions were:

"Search ye these books, and whatever is good in them, that retain; but whatsoever is evil, that cast away. What is good in one book, unite ye with that which is good in another book. And whatsoever is thus brought together shall be called The Book of Books. And it shall be the doctrine of my people, which I will recommend unto all nations, that there shall be no more war for religions' sake." (God's Book of Eskra, op. cit., chapter xlviii, paragraph 31)

"Make them to astonish" said Constantine, and "the books were written accordingly" (Life of Constantine, vol. iv, pp. 36-39). Eusebius amalgamated the "legendary tales of all the religious doctrines of the world together as one", using the standard god-myths from the presbyters' manuscripts as his exemplars. Merging the supernatural "god" stories of Mithra and Krishna with British Culdean beliefs effectively joined the orations of Eastern and Western presbyters together "to form a new universal belief" (ibid.). Constantine believed that the amalgamated collection of myths would unite variant and opposing religious factions under one representative story. Eusebius then arranged for scribes to produce "fifty sumptuous copies ... to be written on parchment in a legible manner, and in a convenient portable form, by professional scribes thoroughly accomplished in their art" (ibid.). "These orders," said Eusebius, "were followed by the immediate execution of the work itself ... we sent him [Constantine] magnificently and elaborately bound volumes of three-fold and four-fold forms" (Life of Constantine, vol. iv, p. 36). They were the "New Testimonies", and this is the first mention (c. 331) of the New Testament in the historical record. Its is suspected that Codex Sinaiticus and Codex Vaticanus are possible surviving examples of these Bibles.

With his instructions fulfilled, Constantine then decreed that the New Testimonies would thereafter be called the "word of the Roman Saviour God" (Life of Constantine, vol. iii, p. 29) and official to all presbyters sermonizing in the Roman Empire. He then ordered earlier presbyterial manuscripts and the records of the council "burnt" and declared that "any man found concealing writings should be stricken off from his shoulders" (beheaded) (ibid.). As the record shows, presbyterial writings previous to the Council of Nicaea no longer exist, except for some fragments that have survived."

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As for the existence of original New Testament documents, none exist. No book of the New Testament survives in the original autograph copy. What we have then come from copies, and copies of copies, of questionable originals (if the stories came piecemeal over time, as it appears it has, then there may never have existed an original). The earliest copies we have came more than a century later than the autographs, and these exist on fragments of papyrus. According to Hugh Schonfield, "It would be impossible to find any manuscript of the New Testament older than the late third century, and we actually have copies from the fourth and fifth.

In 1945, an Arab made an archeological discovery in Upper Egypt of several ancient papyrus books. They have since referred to it as The Nag Hammadi texts. They contained fifty-two heretical books written in Coptic script which include gospels of Thomas, Philip, James, John, Thomas, and many others. Archeologists have dated them at around 350-400 C.E. They represent copies from previous copies. None of the original texts exist and scholars argue about a possible date of the originals. Some of them think that they can hardly have dates later than 120-150 C.E. Others have put it closer to 140 C.E. [Pagels, 1979]

Other Gnostic gospels such as the Gospel of Judas, found near the Egyptian site of the Nag Hammadi texts, shows a diverse pattern of story telling, always a mark of myth. The Judas gospel tells of Judas Iscariot as Jesus' most loyal disciple, just opposite that of the canonical gospel stories. Note that the text does not claim that Judas Iscariot wrote it. The Judas gospel, a copy written in Coptic, dates to around the third-to fourth-century. The original Greek version probably dates to between 130 and 170 C.E., around the same time as the Nag Hammadi texts. Irenaeus first mentions this gospel in Adversus Haereses (Against Heresies) written around 180 C.E., so we know that this represented a heretical gospel.

Since these Gnostic texts could only have its unknown authors writing well after the alleged life of Jesus, they cannot serve as historical evidence of Jesus anymore than the canonical versions. Again, we only have "heretical" hearsay.

Many problems occur with the reliability of the accounts from ancient historians. Most of them did not provide sources for their claims, as they rarely included bibliographic listings, or supporting claims. They did not have access to modern scholarly techniques, and many times would include hearsay as evidence. No one today would take a modern scholar seriously who used the standards of ancient historians, yet this proves as the only kind of source that Christology comes from. Couple this with the fact that many historians believed as Christians themselves, sometimes members of the Church, and you have a built-in prejudice towards supporting a "real" Jesus.

In modern scholarship, even the best historians and Christian apologists play the historian game. They can only use what documents they have available to them. If they only have hearsay accounts then they have to play the cards that history deals them. Many historians feel compelled to use interpolation or guesses from hearsay, and yet this very dubious information sometimes ends up in encyclopedias and history books as fact.

In other words, Biblical scholarship gets forced into a lower standard by the very sources they examine. A renowned Biblical scholar illustrated this clearly in an interview when asked about Biblical interpretation. David Noel Freeman (the General editor of the Anchor Bible Series and many other works) responded with:

"We have to accept somewhat looser standards. In the legal profession, to convict the defendant of a crime, you need proof beyond a reasonable doubt. In civil cases, a preponderance of the evidence is sufficient. When dealing with the Bible or any ancient source, we have to loosen up a little; otherwise, we can't really say anything."

-David Noel Freedman (in Bible Review magazine, Dec. 1993, p.34)

The implications appear obvious. If one wishes to believe in a historical Jesus, he or she must accept this based on loose standards. Couple this with the fact that all of the claims come from hearsay, and we have a foundation made of sand, and a castle of information built of cards.

Although the New Testament mentions various cities, geological sites, kings and people that existed or lived during the alleged life of Jesus, these descriptions cannot serve as evidence for the existence of Jesus anymore than works of fiction that include recognizable locations, and make mention of actual people.

Homer's Odyssey, for example, describes the travels of Odysseus throughout the Greek islands. The epic describes, in detail, many locations that existed in history. But should we take Odysseus, the Greek gods and goddesses, one-eyed giants and monsters as literal fact simply because the story depicts geographic locations accurately? Of course not. The authors of mythical stories, fictions, and novels almost always use familiar landmarks as placements for their stories. The authors of the Greek tragedies not only put their stories in plausible settings as happening in the real world but their supernatural characters took on the desires, flaws and failures of mortal human beings. Consider that fictions such as King Kong, Superman, and Star Trek include recognizable cities, planets, and landmarks, with their protagonists and antagonists miming human emotions.

Likewise, just because the Gospels mention cities and locations in Judea, and known historical people, with Jesus behaving like an actual human being (with the added dimension of supernatural curses, miracles, etc.) but this says nothing about the actuality of the characters portrayed in the stories. However, when a story uses impossible historical locations, or geographical errors, we may question the authority of the claims.

For example, in Matt 4:8, the author describes the devil taking Jesus into an exceedingly high mountain to show him all the kingdoms of the world. Since there exists no spot on the spheroid earth to view "all the kingdoms," we know that the Bible errs here.

John 12:21 says, "The same came therefore to Philip, which was of Bethsaida of Galilee. . . ." Bethsaida resided in Gaulonitis (Golan region), east of the Jordan river, not Galilee, which resided west of the river.

John 3:23 says, "John also was baptizing in Aenon near Salim. . . ." Critics agree that no such place as Aenon exists near Salim.

No one has evidence for a city named Nazareth at the time of the alleged Jesus. [Gauvin] Nazareth does not appear in the Old Testament, nor does it appear in the volumes of Josephus's writings (even though he provides a list of cities in Galilee). Oddly, none of the New Testament epistle writers ever mentions Nazareth or a Jesus of Nazareth even though most of the epistles appeared before the gospels. In fact no one mentions Nazareth until the Gospels, where the first one didn't come into existence until about 40 years after the alleged death of Jesus. If a city named Nazareth existed during the 1st century, then we need at least one contemporary piece of evidence for the name, otherwise we cannot refer to it as established history. Many historians do not agree with this of course. Some think Nazareth existed, some don't think it existed, and some remain skeptical, but the fact that historians still debate it should tell you that that we should not use this uncertainly as a certainty. Moreover, some scholars think it as a moot point because they believe "Nazareth" refers to a Christian movement, not a city. For one example, Acts 24:5 refers to a sect of the Nazarenes. The Gospel writers then might have confused the term to mean the city (which by the time they wrote the gospels, a city did exist with that name). We have a lot of educated guesses by scholars, but no certainity.

Many more kinds of errors and uncertainties like this appear in the New Testament. And although one cannot use these as evidence against a historical Jesus, we can certainly question the reliability of the texts. If the scriptures make so many factual errors about geology, science, and contain so many contradictions, falsehoods could occur any in area.

If we have a coupling with historical people and locations, then we should also have some historical reference of a Jesus to these locations and people. But just the opposite proves the case. The Bible depicts Herod, the Ruler of Jewish Palestine under Rome as sending out men to search and kill the infant Jesus, yet nothing in history supports such a story. Pontius Pilate supposedly performed as judge in the trial and execution of Jesus, yet no Roman record mentions such a trial. The gospels portray a multitude of believers throughout the land spreading tales of a teacher, prophet, and healer, yet nobody in Jesus' life time or years after, ever records such a human figure. The lack of a historical Jesus in the known historical record speaks for itself.

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"The Christian community continues to exist because the conclusions of the critical study of the Bible are largely withheld from them." -Hans Conzelmann (1915-1989)
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04-01-2014, 06:10 PM
RE: Jesus myth
I thought that the first council of Nicaea being the first that the books were canonized was a misconception. Wasn't it mainly about confirming whether or not Jesus was actually the divine son of god, as there were a few different sects proclaiming different theologies? I was under the impression that the bible wasn't officially canonized as it is now until quite a few councils later.

But now I have come to believe that the whole world is an enigma, a harmless enigma that is made terrible by our own mad attempt to interpret it as though it had an underlying truth.

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04-01-2014, 06:11 PM
RE: Jesus myth
(04-01-2014 05:46 PM)Revenant77x Wrote:  
(04-01-2014 05:32 PM)maklelan Wrote:  It's a methodological implication that is intended to point out the fallacy of using an argument from silence as evidence as well as the inconsistency of accepting one historical figure without direct and evidence rejecting another historical figure on the grounds that there is no direct evidence. Whether or not it's a legitimate point, responding with a claim about the reality of Christian soteriology is a complete and total non sequitur.


Utterly irrelevant. That's not the question, it's just sidestepping the question to make an assertion about a broader question. On the other hand, mythicism isn't about just pointing out that Jesus may not have existed, it's about asserting that he did not, and that's where they run afoul of historiographical standards and methodologies.

The problem that the Mythicists make is trying to "prove" that there was never a physical person the myths are based on. I think that is irelevant there may have been a guy that wandered around Galilee for a couple years thumbing his nose at Rome but there was never anyone as described in the bible. Jesus Christ Superstar is all hollywood circa 5th century Rome.

I agree with this, and I'm not making a case that JC didn't exist. It's just been my experience that when valid points and evidence are brought up to theists about this possibility, instead of dealing with it and saying here is why he did exist, they deflect it with misdirection and ask why we think Socrates existed.

And when I make the reference to the Socratic method, it's after conceding the point that he may not have existed, because I'm not the one claiming he did. But where does that leave the believer? Ok, so what if Socrates didn't exist, how does that prove JC did? I'm fine with admitting there are members of antiquity who didn't exist.

Theists use that as if I will crumble and say I can't live without Socrates. If anything, by admitting Socrates didn't exist because I can't prove it, does that mean Jesus didn't exist because they can't prove it? I'm willing to admit it, are they? No, because if Socrates didn't exist it means nothing. If JC didn't exist it means everything to them.

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04-01-2014, 06:19 PM
RE: Jesus myth
(04-01-2014 06:00 PM)goodwithoutgod Wrote:  The bible was created by Constantine I, at the First Council of Nicaea (321ad).

Pure and utter nonsense. We have multiple New Testament manuscripts that predate Constantine, as well as multiple different accounts of the Council of Nicea, in addition to quite a bit of text-critical data that completely and totally undermines such an idea (which has no evidence whatsoever).

(04-01-2014 06:00 PM)goodwithoutgod Wrote:  He instructed Eusebius of Caesarea to organize the compilation of a uniform collection of new writings developed from primary aspects of the religious texts submitted at the council. His instructions were:

"Search ye these books, and whatever is good in them, that retain; but whatsoever is evil, that cast away. What is good in one book, unite ye with that which is good in another book. And whatsoever is thus brought together shall be called The Book of Books. And it shall be the doctrine of my people, which I will recommend unto all nations, that there shall be no more war for religions' sake." (God's Book of Eskra, op. cit., chapter xlviii, paragraph 31)

Yes, a book written by a dentist in the 19th century who claimed to have composed it by automatic writing.

(04-01-2014 06:00 PM)goodwithoutgod Wrote:  If we have a coupling with historical people and locations, then we should also have some historical reference of a Jesus to these locations and people.

Ironic that the people asserting most strongly what historical remains should exist are the people who have basically the least about of knowledge regarding historical remains and their nature and function.

(04-01-2014 06:00 PM)goodwithoutgod Wrote:  But just the opposite proves the case. The Bible depicts Herod, the Ruler of Jewish Palestine under Rome as sending out men to search and kill the infant Jesus, yet nothing in history supports such a story.

Which has no bearing whatsoever on whether or not that tradition was tacked on to the story of an actual historical figure.

(04-01-2014 06:00 PM)goodwithoutgod Wrote:  Pontius Pilate supposedly performed as judge in the trial and execution of Jesus, yet no Roman record mentions such a trial.

Produce one Roman record of any trial or other procedure Pilate oversaw.

(04-01-2014 06:00 PM)goodwithoutgod Wrote:  The gospels portray a multitude of believers throughout the land spreading tales of a teacher, prophet, and healer, yet nobody in Jesus' life time or years after, ever records such a human figure. The lack of a historical Jesus in the known historical record speaks for itself.

You need to learn about historical records before presuming to start speaking for them.

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04-01-2014, 06:22 PM
RE: Jesus myth
(04-01-2014 06:10 PM)evenheathen Wrote:  I thought that the first council of Nicaea being the first that the books were canonized was a misconception.

It is.

(04-01-2014 06:10 PM)evenheathen Wrote:  Wasn't it mainly about confirming whether or not Jesus was actually the divine son of god, as there were a few different sects proclaiming different theologies? I was under the impression that the bible wasn't officially canonized as it is now until quite a few councils later.

Nicea was about the Arian controversy, which was the question of Jesus' relationship to God. They also decided on an official date for the celebration of Easter and some other smaller things.

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