Jesus myth
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24-01-2014, 11:57 AM
RE: Jesus myth
(24-01-2014 09:45 AM)Free Wrote:  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.

Apriori assumption?

But, I see your point. It would be difficult to prove a mythical Jesus, but the case for a historical Jesus doesn't appear to be working out very well, either. There are just too many times when the ancients created histories for their mythical creations, after the fact.
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24-01-2014, 11:59 AM
RE: Jesus myth
(24-01-2014 09:47 AM)anonymous66 Wrote:  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.

Obviously Carrier does not like Ehrman. What do you want me to do about that? Accept Carrier's opinion as if it's some kind of Gospel truth?

Anybody can nitpick anybody in anything. Carrier is just simply pissed-off at Ehrman because Ehrman did not give him a favorable review.

However, Ehrman responded to what Carrier said in Ehrmans own blog, and he did it with the utmost class, dignity, and integrity that I have come to expect from a serious and gifted scholar.

If you really want to see the difference between the two of them, well since you read Carrier's blog, then I suggest that you- in all fairness- read Ehrman's response at the link below.

Bart Ehrman's Response To Richard Carrier

How can anyone become an atheist when we are all born with no beliefs in the first place? We are atheists because we were born this way.
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24-01-2014, 12:45 PM (This post was last modified: 24-01-2014 12:54 PM by anonymous66.)
RE: Jesus myth
(24-01-2014 11:59 AM)Free Wrote:  
(24-01-2014 09:47 AM)anonymous66 Wrote:  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.


and
Perhaps Ehrman should spend a little more time researching instead of making bold assertions that turn out to be untrue.

Obviously Carrier does not like Ehrman. What do you want me to do about that? Accept Carrier's opinion as if it's some kind of Gospel truth?

Anybody can nitpick anybody in anything. Carrier is just simply pissed-off at Ehrman because Ehrman did not give him a favorable review.

However, Ehrman responded to what Carrier said in Ehrmans own blog, and he did it with the utmost class, dignity, and integrity that I have come to expect from a serious and gifted scholar.

If you really want to see the difference between the two of them, well since you read Carrier's blog, then I suggest that you- in all fairness- read Ehrman's response at the link below.

Bart Ehrman's Response To Richard Carrier
I think it's obvious that you don't like Carrier...and I'm coming to his defense.
I do plan on reading Ehrman's response.
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24-01-2014, 01:48 PM
RE: Jesus myth
(24-01-2014 11:38 AM)TwoCultSurvivor Wrote:  
(24-01-2014 08:48 AM)Free Wrote:  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:



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.

Really? Let me quote you below:

(23-01-2014 09:03 PM)TwoCultSurvivor Wrote:  Speculation. The fact remains that if he was talking about the historic Jesus, he would have identified him by name. The fact that he didn't at least raises the possibility (in my view, the LIKELIHOOD) that he was relating the legend of Christ, not the history of Jesus.

http://www.thethinkingatheist.com/forum/...#pid475112


Quote: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.

I did not say "we don't know." I explicitly demonstrated to you where he got his information from, and I quote it again below:

Quote:Tacitus makes it clear that he got his information about The Great Fires of Rome- which includes the execution of Christ- from previous authors of historical records.

http://www.thethinkingatheist.com/forum/...#pid474699

Quote:Even if we are to conclude that he relied on "records," we cannot say anything conclusive about what or where those records were.

Since Tacitus begins his recounting of the Great Fires of Rome by stating he was using the works of previous authors on that subject, then it requires limited reasoning to determine that the only ones who would have written about the history of the Great Fires of Rome would be other Roman historical authors.

We don't require 100% conclusive proof to ascertain history, for nothing whatsoever can ever be conclusively determined in regards to ancient history. What it all comes down to- after all evidence via the Historical Method is considered- is historical reasoning which is employed via Argument To The Best Explanation, Statistical Inference, and Argument From Analogy.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Historical_method



Quote: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.

On its own, Tacitus proves nothing. But as part of the historical record, it's another piece to the puzzle that adds to equation which adds up to favoring existence.

How can anyone become an atheist when we are all born with no beliefs in the first place? We are atheists because we were born this way.
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24-01-2014, 02:08 PM
RE: Jesus myth
You are misrepresenting my previous comments, either in ignorance or misunderstanding. I never intended to claim that Tacitus wasn't talking about Jesus. My point was semantic: he wasn't talking about "Jesus." That is, he did not use that word. So you got busy refuting a point I was not making. I trust I have adequately clarified my point and eliminated any misunderstanding.

You now seem to be arguing, rather persuasively, that Tacitis was relying on sources and accounts of the crucifixion of "Christus" that are vague and secondary at best. The fact that he refers to Christus and not Jesus is sufficient to raise doubt that he was reporting from a primary record. As such, the throwaway line is useful for context but not for confirmation of the historical existence of Jesus. Nothing you have written raises the credibility of his sentence.
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24-01-2014, 02:34 PM
RE: Jesus myth
Quote:The fact that he refers to Christus and not Jesus is sufficient to raise doubt that he was reporting from a primary record.

Okay I'll bite. Explain your reasoning for the question below:

How does his reference to Christus and not Jesus raise doubt that he was reporting from a primary record?

How can anyone become an atheist when we are all born with no beliefs in the first place? We are atheists because we were born this way.
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24-01-2014, 03:33 PM
RE: Jesus myth
Again?
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24-01-2014, 03:51 PM
RE: Jesus myth
(24-01-2014 03:33 PM)TwoCultSurvivor Wrote:  Again?

No, not "again." On the contrary, for the first time.

You have yet to display the reasoning.

How can anyone become an atheist when we are all born with no beliefs in the first place? We are atheists because we were born this way.
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24-01-2014, 04:42 PM (This post was last modified: 24-01-2014 04:48 PM by TwoCultSurvivor.)
RE: Jesus myth
(24-01-2014 03:51 PM)Free Wrote:  
(24-01-2014 03:33 PM)TwoCultSurvivor Wrote:  Again?

No, not "again." On the contrary, for the first time.

You have yet to display the reasoning.

You don't get to just SAY that and magically wish it were so. You are flat wrong about whether I already addressed this question.

Quote: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.

Let me try to rephrase it. Tacitus is talking about Christus. A primary record would not have talked about Christus. It would have talked about Jesus. Tacitus doesn't use the name Jesus. Why not?

You offered a convoluted, concocted explanation earlier, the type of explanation you would never allow from a theist.

I offer a simple explanation: Tacitus is not relying on a primary record. He's relying on a record that discusses Christus, and such a record could not be primary, for that would require the originator of that record to accept Jesus as the Christ.

Which is more reasonable: that Tacitus converted the "Jesus" of the record he was relying on to the "Christus" of his throwaway line on the origin of the Christian cult, but didn't bother to tell anyone? Or that Tacitus, if he was relying on any record at all, was relying on one that was written and documented AFTER the legend of Christ had grown and taken hold -- a secondary source?

The latter proposition makes far more sense.

Listen, I don't mind beating a subject to death, but I do mind being accused of not addressing something I have already addressed, especially considering it wasn't all that long ago.

I am not declaring as a matter of fact that Tacitus did rely on a secondary source. I am not declaring as a matter of fact that Tacitus relied on hearsay for a throwaway line. I am merely saying that there is plenty of reason to doubt that he is relying on a primary source, because he omits the kind of information that would indicate the use of a primary source -- the name of Jesus. Had he used the name of Jesus, we would not be having this discussion. The omission of the name of Jesus raises the reasonable doubt about whether he used a primary source. This isn't that hard.
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24-01-2014, 04:46 PM
RE: Jesus myth
Surely there is a high probability the passage from Tacitus is an interpolation.

I found this at
http://www.fromchristtojesus.org/English...citus.htm.

"The founder of that name was Christus, who, in the reign of Tiberius,
was punished, as a criminal by the procurator, Pontius Pilate"

It is not quoted by the Christian fathers:
Tertullian
He was familiar with the writings of Tacitus, and his arguments demanded the citation of this evidence had it existed.
Clement of Alexandria
At the beginning of the third century, he made a compilation of all the recognitions of Christ and Christianity
that had been made by Pagan writers up to his time. The writings of Tacitus furnished no recognition of them.
Origen
In his controversy with Celsus, he would undoubtedly have used it had it existed.
Eusebius
In the fourth century, the ecclesiastical historian Eusebius cites all the evidences of Christianity obtainable from Jewish and Pagan sources, but makes no mention of Tacitus.
The silence in early Christian sources concerning this event is deafening.
It is not quoted by any Christian writer prior to the fifteenth century
The passage neither reflects Tacitus in tone nor in linguistic ability.
Just consider "auctor nominis eius Christus Tiberio imperitante
per procuratorem Pontius Pilatus supplicio adfectus erat".
Vocabulary
Tacitus clearly knows when Judea was administered by 'procurators',
yet this passage calls Pontius Pilate a 'procurator' when he should have been called a 'prefect',
and, given Tacitus's knowledge in the area, including when procurators received magistrate's powers,
this would be an incredible error for Tacitus.
Tacitus does not use the name 'Jesus' but 'Christus'
Tacitus assumes his readers know Pontius Pilate.
John Meier tellingly observes (without perceiving its significance):
"There is a great historical irony in this text of Tacitus;
it is the only time in ancient pagan literature that Pontius Pilate is mentioned by name
-as a way of specifying who Christ is. Pilate's fate in the Christian creeds is already foreshadowed
in a pagan historian,"- which could easily indicate Christian apologetic intervention.
Tacitus himself when dealing with this same period in his earlier work [Histories 5.9.2] gives no hint of this outrage. To the contrary, he says that in Palestine at this time "all was quiet".
It interrupts the narrative; it disconnects two closely related statements.
Eliminate this sentence, and there is no break in the narrative.

It is very hard to contemplate the veracity of such passages when they have been preserved by means of christian scribes
who have been known to interpolate and massage texts. Who controls the present controls the past. George Orwell

But that it existed in the works of the greatest and best known of Roman historians, and was ignored or overlooked by Christian apologists for 1,360 years, looks very suspicious.

And finally, even if genuine, it is too late and probably from Christians in Rome.
So the Myth theory can explain it very well.
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