Jesus myth
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24-01-2014, 08:52 AM
RE: Jesus myth
(24-01-2014 08:26 AM)TwoCultSurvivor Wrote:  You can use the historical method to bolster the true history of Sherlock Holmes from the apocryphal. That doesn't make Sherlock Holmes a historical figure.

Really?

Go ahead and try. Thumbsup

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24-01-2014, 09:01 AM
RE: Jesus myth
(24-01-2014 08:49 AM)anonymous66 Wrote:  
(24-01-2014 08:24 AM)Free Wrote:  No.

It's called The Historical Method, also known as "historiography."


Click the link to learn more.

Um, yes... the 3 criterions mentioned in my post #345 have obvious issues. Why not look for better ways to judge the historicity of ancient events and people?

I suggest you read and understand the entire process of The Historical Method before you think you can just cherry-pick 3 as if they are the only things used to approximate the truth.

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24-01-2014, 09:11 AM
RE: Jesus myth
You missed the point. The point is that the historical method is only as good as the assumptions you bring to it. GIGO. If you start with the presumption that Jesus was a historical figure, you can use it to ascertain what he did and did not say and do. If you do NOT begin with the presumption that he existed, it is difficult to arrive at the conclusion that he did.

I asked earlier for examples of historical figures whose existence would not survive a challenge such as that leveled by mythicists at Jesus. I've heard the claim that mythicists are being unreasonable and that their challenges would call other historical figures into question. I don't buy it. I want names. Who would crumble as a historical figure if mythicists are right?
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24-01-2014, 09:13 AM
RE: Jesus myth
(24-01-2014 09:01 AM)Free Wrote:  
(24-01-2014 08:49 AM)anonymous66 Wrote:  Um, yes... the 3 criterions mentioned in my post #345 have obvious issues. Why not look for better ways to judge the historicity of ancient events and people?

I suggest you read and understand the entire process of The Historical Method before you think you can just cherry-pick 3 as if they are the only things used to approximate the truth.

And I suggest you keep an open mind about Carrier and the other Jesus Myth theorists, instead of cherry picking potential problems with using Baye's theorem to judge the veracity of historical claims.

It's very possible that both sides (historical Jesus vs mythical Jesus), are being as honest as possible to find the truth of the matter.
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24-01-2014, 09:42 AM
RE: Jesus myth
(24-01-2014 09:11 AM)TwoCultSurvivor Wrote:  You missed the point. The point is that the historical method is only as good as the assumptions you bring to it. GIGO. If you start with the presumption that Jesus was a historical figure, you can use it to ascertain what he did and did not say and do. If you do NOT begin with the presumption that he existed, it is difficult to arrive at the conclusion that he did.

That is misrepresentation of the employment of the Historical Method. You can both assume he existed, and assume he didn't, and look for evidence to support both sides of the coin.

In the case of Jesus of Nazareth, the Historical Method demonstrates existence as a historical figure.

Quote:I asked earlier for examples of historical figures whose existence would not survive a challenge such as that leveled by mythicists at Jesus. I've heard the claim that mythicists are being unreasonable and that their challenges would call other historical figures into question. I don't buy it. I want names. Who would crumble as a historical figure if mythicists are right?

Well, that's easy.

Aside from the Caesars, Tacitus names hundreds of different Roman officers in his Annals and Histories works.

Browse through and quickly pick 10 at random.

Now prove they actually existed.

Let's see how you do.

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24-01-2014, 09:45 AM
RE: Jesus myth
(24-01-2014 09:13 AM)anonymous66 Wrote:  
(24-01-2014 09:01 AM)Free Wrote:  I suggest you read and understand the entire process of The Historical Method before you think you can just cherry-pick 3 as if they are the only things used to approximate the truth.

And I suggest you keep an open mind about Carrier and the other Jesus Myth theorists, instead of cherry picking potential problems with using Baye's theorem to judge the veracity of historical claims.

It's very possible that both sides (historical Jesus vs mythical Jesus), are being as honest as possible to find the truth of the matter.

Are you nuts? I am an atheist who always felt the bible was total and utter mythological bullshit. That is, until I actually tried to PROVE that Jesus was a mythological figure.

It cannot be done. Never will be.

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24-01-2014, 09:47 AM (This post was last modified: 24-01-2014 09:52 AM by anonymous66.)
RE: Jesus myth
Let me share some of what Carrier thinks of Ehrman.... This is all in reference to Ehrman's book Did Jesus Exist?: The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth.

Quote:The “No Records” Debacle: Ehrman declares (again with that same suicidally hyperbolic certitude) that “we simply don’t have birth notices, trial records, death certificates—or other kinds of records that one has today” (p. 29). Although his conclusion is correct (we should not expect to have any such records for Jesus or early Christianity), his premise is false. In fact, I cannot believe he said this. How can he not know that we have thousands of these kinds of records? Yes, predominantly from the sands of Egypt, but even in some cases beyond. I have literally held some of these documents in my very hands. More importantly, we also have such documents quoted or cited in books whose texts have survived. For instance, Suetonius references birth records for Caligula, and in fact his discussion of the sources on this subject is an example I have used of precisely the kind of historical research that is conspicuously lacking in any Christian literature before the third century (see Not the Impossible Faith, pp. 182-87).

From Ehrman’s list, “birth notices” would mean census receipts declaring a newborn, tax receipts establishing birth year (as capitation taxes often began when a child reached a certain age), or records establishing citizenship, and we have many examples of all three; as for “trial records” we have all kinds (including rulings and witness affidavits); we have “death certificates,” too (we know there were even coroner’s reports from doctors in cases of suspicious death); and quite a lot else (such as tax receipts establishing family property, home town, and family connections; business accounts; personal letters; financial matters for charities and religious organizations). As one papyrologist put it, “a wealth of papyrus documents from the Graeco-Roman era have come to light on the daily lives of ancient people in Egypt, including their love letters and marriage contracts, tax and bank accounts, commodity lists, birth records, divorce cases, temple offerings, and most other conceivable types of memoranda, whether personal, financial, or religious” (see Greco-Roman Papyrus Documents from Egypt).

That Ehrman would not know this is shocking and suggests he has very little experience in ancient history as a field and virtually none in papyrology (beyond its application to biblical manuscripts). Worse, he didn’t even think to check whether we had any of these kinds of documents, before confidently declaring we didn’t. Instead, Ehrman only demonstrates how little we can trust his knowledge or research when he says such silly things like, “If Romans kept such records, where are they? We certainly don’t have any” (p. 44). He really seems to think, or is misleading any lay reader to think, that (a) we don’t have any such records (when in fact we have many) and that (b) our not having them means Romans never kept them (when if fact it only means those records have been lost, because no one troubled to preserve them; which leads us to ask why no one in Jesus’ family, or among his disciples or subsequent churches, ever troubled to preserve any of these records, or any records whatever, whether legal documents, receipts, contracts, or letters).

We can certainly adduce plausible answers for why we don’t have any of these documents for Christianity, answers that do not entail Jesus did not exist. Which is what a competent author would have done here: admit that we have lots of these kinds of records and know they once existed, but due to factors and conditions relating to where Christianity began and how it developed, it would be unreasonable to assume any of these records would be preserved to us (see my discussion of the corresponding logic of evidence in regard to the trial records under Pontius Pilate in Proving History, pp. 220-24). But we have to accept the consequences of any such answer we give.

For example, we cannot claim the Christians were simultaneously very keen to preserve information about Jesus and his family and completely disinterested in preserving any information about Jesus and his family. An example is the letter of Claudius Lysias in Acts, which if based on a real letter has been doctored to remove all the expected data it would contain (such as the year it was written and Paul’s full Roman name), but if based on a real letter, why don’t we still have it? It makes no sense to say Christians had no interest in preserving such records. Moreover, if a Christian preserved this letter long enough for the author of Acts to have read it, why didn’t they preserve any other letters or government documents pertaining to the early church, just like this one?

I personally believe we can answer these questions (and thus I agree with Ehrman that this argument from silence is too weak to make a case out of), but not with this silly nonsense. A good book on historicity would have given us educationally informative, plausible, and thoughtfully considered answers and information about ancient documents and the total Christian failure to retain or use them. Instead Ehrman gives us hackneyed nonsense and disinformation. Again, the relevance of this is that if he failed so badly in this case, how many other statements and claims of his are misinforming us about the evidence and the ancient world? And if he didn’t do even the most rudimentary fact checking (“Let’s see, do we have any Roman documents?”) and didn’t know so basic a background fact as this about the field of ancient history (that we have tons of these documents, as any ancient historian cannot fail to know because she will have worked with them many times, even in graduate school), then how can we assume any of his work in this book is competently researched or informed?

and
Quote:The Matter of Qualifications: I could list dozens more of these kinds of serious factual errors. They plague the book, cover to cover. But I will end my sample of them with this, because it’s indicative of both his carelessness and his skewed attempts to distort the facts in his favor:

Twice Ehrman says I have a Ph.D. in “classics” (p. 19, 167). In fact, my degrees are in ancient history, with an undergraduate minor in Classics (major in history), and three graduate degrees (M.A., M.Phil., and Ph.D.) with four graduate majors (Greco-Roman historiography, philosophy, religion, and a special major on the fall of Rome). One of those, you’ll notice, is in the religions of the Roman empire–which included Christianity (and my study of Christianity featured significantly in my dissertation work). I shouldn’t have to explain that the classics and ancient history departments aren’t even in the same building, much less the same major. Although I did take courses from each and studied under both classicists and historians, and have a considerable classics background, it’s a rather telling mistake of his to think (and then report) that I am just a classicist and not a historian, much less a certified historian of Christianity (and, incidentally, its surrounding religions, ignorance of which we have seen is Ehrman’s failing).

Ehrman can’t have learned my degree is in classics from any reliable source. He can only have invented this detail. I am left to wonder if this was a deliberate attempt to diminish my qualifications by misrepresentation. Or if he is really so massively incompetent it never even occurred to him to check my CV, which is on my very public website (he also has my email address, and we have corresponded, so he could even have just asked). Did he not even think to check? Why? And if he didn’t check, why did he decide to say my degree was in “Classics”? Where did he get that notion? This is important, because Ehrman makes such an absurd issue out of exactly what our degrees are in, so for him to even get it wrong is again damaging to his reliability.

Perhaps Ehrman should spend a little more time researching instead of making bold assertions that turn out to be untrue.
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24-01-2014, 10:04 AM
RE: Jesus myth
Here's a little more...

Quote:Why These Factual Errors Matter

I also notice that Ehrman ignores a larger category of historians: historicity agnostics. He insists no historians of Christianity with professorships in the history of Christianity exist who doubt the historicity of Jesus, but I happen to know of at least one: Arthur Droge, professor of early Christianity at UCSD. At the Amherst conference in 2008 Droge said publicly that he had no idea whether there was a real Jesus, and gave a presentation using Ned Ludd as an example of a quickly historicized fictional person, around whom a whole movement grew, which Droge argued demonstrated that we could not be confident the same thing hadn’t happened to Jesus. Here we have someone who meets all of Ehrman’s hyper-specific requirements, yet who does not share Ehrman’s certitude about the historicity of Jesus. I suspect there are many more like him. Droge simply hasn’t published on this. How many other scholars are there out there, who likewise have not published an opinion in the matter, but nevertheless are far more skeptical than Ehrman?

At any rate, competence to argue a case on this issue cannot be decided by precisely what degrees one has (whether they are in “ancient history” or “ancient Judaism” or “classics,” or as he desires, “Christianity” specifically), or where one works (whether someone holds a professorship is wholly irrelevant). No. This will be decided by the quality and informedness of one’s work. And on that score I would ask that Ehrman’s Did Jesus Exist? be compared with my latest on the same subject, Proving History. Just compare the extent and content of our endnotes alone, much less the way we argue, the difference in our attention to method and its logical soundness, the diverse range of scholarship we cite. Even my book Not the Impossible Faith is superior on all these measures, and it was a deliberately colloquial book designed to be entertaining. Both undoubtedly have occasional errors (as all scholarly work does)–but I doubt anything even remotely like what I have documented above (in degree, quantity, and cruciality).

Proving History also illustrates how Ehrman is out of touch with the extensive work in his own field discrediting the very methods he assumes are still valid (and naively relies on throughout). As I said before, every expert who has published a study of these methods has concluded they are invalid. Ehrman doesn’t seem to be aware of any of this literature, even though it is now quite extensive. Proving History also refutes many of his specific arguments for historicity (such as that Christians would not invent the baptism by John or a Nazareth origin for Jesus), on every point citing peer reviewed scholarship or presenting clear logical demonstrations from primary evidence. So it is already an adequate rebuttal (even though I will not actually defend the thesis that Jesus didn’t exist until my next book, which is nearly completed: On the Historicity of Jesus Christ). But as you can see from my many examples above, Ehrman’s book is so full of egregious factual errors demonstrating his ignorance, sloppiness, and incompetence in this matter, it really doesn’t even need a rebuttal. It can be thrown straight into the trash without any loss to scholarship or humanity. It is, quite simply, wholly unreliable.
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24-01-2014, 11:17 AM
RE: Jesus myth
(24-01-2014 09:42 AM)Free Wrote:  
(24-01-2014 09:11 AM)TwoCultSurvivor Wrote:  You missed the point. The point is that the historical method is only as good as the assumptions you bring to it. GIGO. If you start with the presumption that Jesus was a historical figure, you can use it to ascertain what he did and did not say and do. If you do NOT begin with the presumption that he existed, it is difficult to arrive at the conclusion that he did.

That is misrepresentation of the employment of the Historical Method. You can both assume he existed, and assume he didn't, and look for evidence to support both sides of the coin.

In the case of Jesus of Nazareth, the Historical Method demonstrates existence as a historical figure.

I don't agree. I think the historical method fails to confirm his existence. Our examination of Tacitus establishes that historians have placed a great deal of weight on a passage that bears further critical examination. I'm not quite where you are yet. As I keep examining the evidence, maybe I'll end up agreeing with you. But you don't get to just say it's so without demonstrating it, and Tacitus does not demonstrate it, your assertions notwithstanding.

Quote:
Quote:I asked earlier for examples of historical figures whose existence would not survive a challenge such as that leveled by mythicists at Jesus. I've heard the claim that mythicists are being unreasonable and that their challenges would call other historical figures into question. I don't buy it. I want names. Who would crumble as a historical figure if mythicists are right?

Well, that's easy.

Aside from the Caesars, Tacitus names hundreds of different Roman officers in his Annals and Histories works.

The existence of the Caesars has multiple attestation, so they do not apply to this discussion.

The hundreds of different officers are likewise irrelevant, because I am not asking about a bunch of irrelevant historical figures whose existence has no historical significance. You're going to accuse me of moving the goalposts, I know, but when I ask about historical figures, I'm not looking for 10 random names. I'm looking for names of people we all know. Did Mark Antony exist? Did Cleopatra exist? Did Rameses exist? Those are the names I was looking for, not Publius Randomus Romanus V.
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24-01-2014, 11:38 AM (This post was last modified: 24-01-2014 11:46 AM by TwoCultSurvivor.)
RE: Jesus myth
(24-01-2014 08:48 AM)Free Wrote:  
(23-01-2014 09:44 PM)TwoCultSurvivor Wrote:  Again, you would not permit such rationalization from a theist. You can't explain away his failure to mention Jesus, and you can't seriously argue that said failure is more consistent with your view than with mine. Tacitus' reference to Christus is inconsistent with his reliance on a record referencing Jesus.

You did not understand a point I made in a previous post in regards to evidence, so I will post it again, followed by a question and answer situation:


Quote:...history is not just about probabilities, but also about actual tangible evidence, detailed textual analysis, cross-referencing, archaeology, collective of intelligence, as well as numerous other components that allow the collective of intelligence to arrive at an unbiased and well-supported consensus to approximate the truth on a whole ...

http://www.thethinkingatheist.com/forum/...#pid475128

Therefore, when we look at what Tacitus says about Christ and Christians, it requires no effort at all to reason that he is speaking of Jesus of Nazareth as being Christus due to the following reasoning:

Q: Using all other available evidence, and knowing the "Christ" is a title, then what is the most probable answer to the question of "What is the name of this Christ whom Tacitus is speaking about?"

A: All available evidence indicates that no one else has ever been considered as holding the title of Christ and being the originator of the Christians religion other than the person known as Jesus of Nazareth.

But if you want to continue extrapolating singular pieces of evidence and evaluate it without using the Historical Method, then that's up to you.

That's precisely what Christ Myth Theorists do, and that is precisely why they are easily and rapidly dismissed.

Drinking Beverage

You could drive a truck through the holes in this logic.

First off, no one is questioning who is meant by Christus. That's not the issue. What we're trying to get at is the following:

What was the source of Tacitus' information on the origin of Christianity and the execution of Christus?

I believe you stated earlier that we don't know. Tacitus, unfortunately, does not specify. But somehow, you feel comfortable leaping from "we don't know what records he relied on" to "we can say with confidence that those records were primary, accurate, unassailable and conclusive." Um, no, we can't. Not even close.

Even if we are to conclude that he relied on "records," we cannot say anything conclusive about what or where those records were. The only thing we have to go on is the exact wording employed by Tacitus. And Tacitus says Christus was crucified on the order of Pontius Pilate during the reign of Tiberius.

From that tiny bit of information, we are faced with two possibilities:
1. Tacitus was relaying information that was commonly known about Christianity's origin.
2. Tacitus was relying on an independent record.

If 1 is true, we might expect that Tacitus would mark out what he's saying as hearsay. It's not complicated. He doesn't do that. That lends some weight to option 2.

But if option 2 is true, other questions are raised: what record? We don't know. And because we don't know, we cannot draw a conclusion.
If it was an official Roman record of the actual execution of Jesus, we might expect that Tacitus would be compelled to name Jesus and to equate him with Christus, because any record of Jesus' execution would NOT have identified him as Christus. You accuse me of presentism, and you may have a point, but only insofar as what I think Tacitus should have done. When we look at the question of what Tacitus did not do, my point about his omission remains valid and unfettered by the accusation that I've employed a logical fallacy. The fact is, Tacitus does not name Jesus, nor does he equate Jesus with Christus, and that reinforces the question: what record was Tacitus relying on?

If Tacitus was relying on a record that identified Christus as the person who was executed by Pilate (and there's NOTHING in Tacitus' passage to suggest otherwise), then there is plenty of reason to suspect that he is relying on something that is not a primary record, and that fact alone diminishes the historical credibility of his statement. A primary record is by definition more reliable than a secondary. Was Tacitus relying on one or more of the gospels? Was he relying on a Roman's report of what Paul was teaching (Paul is already secondhand, at best)? What was Tacitus relying on? We don't know. And when we apply "we don't know" to the central question being asked, "did Jesus exist in the first place?" we are forced to concede that Tacitus provides, at best, a sliver of possible evidence, and nothing conclusive at all.

Personally, I think Tacitus proves nothing other than the fact that the origin story of Jesus had taken hold by 116 AD. Big whoop. That was never a mystery. Tacitus does, at best, little to document that the origin story is in any way historical. He doesn't give us enough information in a throwaway line about another subject entirely to make the logical leap necessary to conclude Jesus really existed and was really crucified under Pilate. He just doesn't. I'm not blaming him. I'm not criticizing him. If I am criticizing anything, it's the use of Tacitus' passage to prove something it just doesn't prove. Doesn't even come close.
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