Open Debate Challenge: Historical Jesus
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10-05-2012, 09:30 PM
RE: Open Debate Challenge: Historical Jesus
AS all historians disagree, hate one another, come up with weird histories just to sell their books, I suggest O.P. perpetrator poses by default......................... No
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10-05-2012, 09:55 PM
RE: Open Debate Challenge: Historical Jesus
Talk to the bible historians bucky and mark. One of the things I picked up from bucky (I think) is that pontius pilate a known jew hater. Kept records of his trials, and never mentions yeshua. In fact the entire biblical account of Pontius Pilate is completely unlike the actual man. For instance it's a story about someone who could convince a dictator to be peaceful.

As counter evidence to your movie suggestions I'll bring up Paul Bunyan. He has a large story based on him, but he is definitely simply a story. Not every story is a documentary. The name chosen for a savior was as common place in judea as all those prophecies which constantly are being fulfilled. Basically we could call the savior of today bob. There is no denying that a bob lived during the year 2010, but this in no way suggests that bob did x or y. The occasional discussions of christos have to do with the issues of messiahs not a specific person.

There's a reason that homer is considered a real person. Cleopatra, Nobunaga, Queen Elizabeth, all have plenty of information to be brought together to prove a strong case for their being real. Now of course there is never a definite proof that any of them are real. For instance those herbert hoover videos could've been faked with a computer generated 3D model. This goes beyond any reasonable amount of skepticism but it is possible.

The issue is that plenty of people before and after this yeshua character have much more corroboration. Yeshua has a single book compiled from many manuscripts which were passed down and sometimes altered, sometimes certain ones removed and alternatives added to replace them. This is nearly everything that exists to give any meat to a specific yeshua. I'm sorry but the church of bob needs to give bob a last name, and describe some stuff about bob, or they're gonna have a lot of false idols.

The issue of him not having a specific birthdate be it a specific century or season is huge. Different rulers are in power during different stories of his birth. And unfortunately for him most everything attributed to him seems to be found well after any reasonable assumption of his life. Tacitus wasn't writing about yeshua who was at that moment leading a cult. He was writing about the figure yeshua who was idolized by those already called christians. The term christian came about after yeshua's death. During his life they were still jews. That from the beginning christians worshipped a yeshua does not make it any more believable.

The basic reason that him not having existed is considered compelling is that the only positive proof for this yeshua is an obviously fraudulent document. The John had a brother Jesus is actually highly likely. And it could be true that John's brother took lead of their religion. But the bible does not claim that yeshua is the brother of John. It describes John and makes no attempt to give this great reason for him to be the one baptising yeshua. Perhaps it was edited out to make him more godlike later on, but one way or another the current existing documents fail to bring any proof outside of certain landmarks, many of which are described incorrectly, and rulers of locations many of which doing things in the bible which there is no record of them actually doing.

I'm not a non believer, I believe in the possibility of anything. I just don't let the actuality of something be determined by a 3rd party.
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11-05-2012, 04:41 AM
RE: Open Debate Challenge: Historical Jesus
(10-05-2012 09:55 PM)Lilith Pride Wrote:  Talk to the bible historians bucky and mark. One of the things I picked up from bucky (I think) is that pontius pilate a known jew hater. Kept records of his trials, and never mentions yeshua. In fact the entire biblical account of Pontius Pilate is completely unlike the actual man. For instance it's a story about someone who could convince a dictator to be peaceful.

As counter evidence to your movie suggestions I'll bring up Paul Bunyan. He has a large story based on him, but he is definitely simply a story. Not every story is a documentary. The name chosen for a savior was as common place in judea as all those prophecies which constantly are being fulfilled. Basically we could call the savior of today bob. There is no denying that a bob lived during the year 2010, but this in no way suggests that bob did x or y. The occasional discussions of christos have to do with the issues of messiahs not a specific person.

There's a reason that homer is considered a real person. Cleopatra, Nobunaga, Queen Elizabeth, all have plenty of information to be brought together to prove a strong case for their being real. Now of course there is never a definite proof that any of them are real. For instance those herbert hoover videos could've been faked with a computer generated 3D model. This goes beyond any reasonable amount of skepticism but it is possible.

The issue is that plenty of people before and after this yeshua character have much more corroboration. Yeshua has a single book compiled from many manuscripts which were passed down and sometimes altered, sometimes certain ones removed and alternatives added to replace them. This is nearly everything that exists to give any meat to a specific yeshua. I'm sorry but the church of bob needs to give bob a last name, and describe some stuff about bob, or they're gonna have a lot of false idols.

The issue of him not having a specific birthdate be it a specific century or season is huge. Different rulers are in power during different stories of his birth. And unfortunately for him most everything attributed to him seems to be found well after any reasonable assumption of his life. Tacitus wasn't writing about yeshua who was at that moment leading a cult. He was writing about the figure yeshua who was idolized by those already called christians. The term christian came about after yeshua's death. During his life they were still jews. That from the beginning christians worshipped a yeshua does not make it any more believable.

The basic reason that him not having existed is considered compelling is that the only positive proof for this yeshua is an obviously fraudulent document. The John had a brother Jesus is actually highly likely. And it could be true that John's brother took lead of their religion. But the bible does not claim that yeshua is the brother of John. It describes John and makes no attempt to give this great reason for him to be the one baptising yeshua. Perhaps it was edited out to make him more godlike later on, but one way or another the current existing documents fail to bring any proof outside of certain landmarks, many of which are described incorrectly, and rulers of locations many of which doing things in the bible which there is no record of them actually doing.
It's interesting that you chose to debate this position. Is it impossible for you to take a position that you don't agree with, Lilith Pride? You're speaking for my opponent before he's had a chance to respond. I don't personally like to defend Jesus, but at least I know the position well-enough to argue from it.

My girlfriend is mad at me. Perhaps I shouldn't have tried cooking a stick in her non-stick pan.
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11-05-2012, 04:52 AM
RE: Open Debate Challenge: Historical Jesus
I would have no problem thinking that there may at one time been a charismatic preacher named Yeshua, all the most convincing fairy stories have at least some basis in reality. But thinking that there may have been is not the same as believing that there was, for that I would require proof. And even if proof could be provided that this man existed, it is still no proof of any supposed divinity

The secret to a happy life is lowering your expectations to the point where they are already met
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11-05-2012, 06:14 AM
RE: Open Debate Challenge: Historical Jesus
You would rather I debate for the position of Jesus? sorry starcrash =p Let me try and construct a strong argument then. It's not that can't argue for opposing positions it's just that in this case I have little to go off of.

I'm not a non believer, I believe in the possibility of anything. I just don't let the actuality of something be determined by a 3rd party.
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11-05-2012, 07:20 AM
RE: Open Debate Challenge: Historical Jesus
Quote: It appears that Jesus was a historical figure. The Gospels, despite their unreliability, are at least evidence that someone named Jesus existed. I'll grant you that there are several contradictions, and it seems undeniable that they are biased and filled with error. So are a lot of movies that are "based on a true story"... but just because practically nothing in these movies is in line with reality and are exaggerated so that they're interesting, that doesn't mean that nothing in them really happened. And in this example I brought up, what's the one thing that tends to at least be reliably accurate? The characters. That's where these stories tend to start. And if there was an original motivation for writing the gospels, it appears to be to tell a story about Jesus.
My contention is not that there are several contradictions. My contention is that the different stories are so saturated with irreconcilable contradictions on even the most basic issues like "in what decade was Jesus born" that the story is utter incoherent.

Additionally, our sources are so dubious that none would be admitted into any court testimony:
  • Mark: According to Christian claims, Mark was an anonymous book but the authorship is attributed by tradition and that he was a companion of Paul, who saw Jesus in vision. According to this tradition, Mark got his info from Peter, but Mark places Peter away from Jesus at certain points in his Gospel (e.g. during the trial of Jesus, Peter was with the servants). So where did Peter get his information? We have anonymous hearsay on top of anonymous hearsay. And all this was penned some four decades after the events, again according to Christian sources. The date of authorship is sometime after 70 CE, as established by Mark 13. We also know of at least one significant and undisputed alteration to the current version we have (the original ended at Mark 16:8, the rest was added later). And this is the primary source, on which all the other Gospels were based?
  • Matthew: Matthew reads like an elaborated version of Mark. Some 90% of Mark is copied but some key theological points are "corrected". So why does an actual witness (if Christian claims of authorship are to be taken seriously) copy a non-witness like Mark? And then correct that non-witness who was obviously so unreliable that he didn't understand Jewish laws and traditions (like Jesus' commentary on marriage and divorce)? More damning is that Matthew lies and lies and lies some more about what the OT says in an apparent desperate attempt to provide "prophecies" that Jesus is said to fulfill. Cross-referencing the referenced passages indicates often there was no such prophecy or these verses were so ripped out of context that there could only be a deliberate effort by the author to deceive. Just in the first two chapters of Matthew, we have such whoppers as his reference to Isaiah 7:14 (forget the whole "virgin" thing. Read Isaiah 7. There was no prophecy of the coming messiah centuries. It was about King Ahaz war with Syria). He also relates many "likely stories" such as the dead saints rising from the graves or Herod massacring infants around Jerusalem, extraordinary events with no historical evidence or even reference by other Gospel authors. Liar, liar, book's on fire. I'm done with this witness, your honor.
  • Luke: Luke is not an eye-witness and is at least honest enough to say so in 1:1-3 of his Gospel. He is also an elaboration of Mark but is obviously written independently from Matthew with the inevitable continuity gaffes. Overall, Luke does a better job of creating an account consistent with the actual history of the time with one notable exception: the "annunciation" event with the virgin Mary. When did that happen again? During the reign of Herod the Great (who died in March of 4 BCE). When was Jesus born? During the administration of Quirinius (6 CE or later). This is a decade or longer gap. Mary was supposedly 14 years old when she was betrothed to Joseph. So was she a 4 year old toddler during the annunciation scene? Did she as a 4 year old have such knowledge of the birds and the bees to object "how shall this be since I know not a man?"
  • John: John's "advanced" theology clearly reflects a later Christianity, one where Jesus was not just a holy man or an adopted son of God but actually God incarnate. "The Jews" are a hostile group identified in the Gospel. Not the pharisees or the priests but "the Jews". Search the "synotpics" (Matt, Mark and Luke) in vein for any concept of the Trinity. This only comes to us through John. The Christian faith evolved over the centuries and John's Gospel is a much later version, one that can't be a contemporary witness. Additionally, dating the events places the crucifixion on 29 CE and the start of Jesus' ministry in 27 CE. Since John the Baptist, the forerunner of Jesus, didn't even begin his ministry until 28 CE, these dates make no sense.
Now some may say despite the unreliability of the Gospel authors and the mess that is any timeline that the four would collectively create, there must have been some man behind the legend. Maybe so but what can we know about him? I'm not here to debate "some guy named Yeshua." A Jesus-of-the-gaps of this nature is impossible to disprove. I'm concerned about what can we know about when he lived or what he preached.

Quote: Plus there's a few contemporary references to Jesus outside the gospels. Take Tacitus. Now, he spoke of Jesus merely as the object of worship for the Christians, but he also mentioned Pontius Pilate as a real person holding a real position.
Let me start on a relatively positive note and say that Tacitcus is the strongest piece of evidence in the arsenal of those who would argue for a historical Jesus (as we'll see, this is a back-handed compliment). It frankly pushes the envelope of "contemporary" since the Annals of Tacitus were written in the 2nd century. Can we agree that "contemporary" should at least mean "less than 100 years later"?

The Annals of Tacitus tell us nothing about Jesus, not even his name. It mentions that there are Christians who get their name from "Christos" who was crucified under Pilate. "Christos" means simply "anointed one". We're not even at "some guy named Yeshua". We're only at "some guy". The reference is pretty oblique to say the least, and that's assuming it's not interpolated like Josephus' Testimonium Flavianum.

Tacitus only tells us some guy was crucified under Pilate (among many Jews that this abusive governor executed) and this is assuming he was relating first hand knowledge and not what the Christians told him. If Tacitus had heard of any resurrection account (surely an important point to a Roman official, since condemned criminals were supposed to stay dead) he doesn't relate it. Tacitus was known to be fascinated by mythology and cataloged all manner of fantastic stories and creatures he heard about. We have nothing on Jesus from him aside from "the Christians follow some guy who was crucified by Pilate". It seems entirely plausible he was only relating what the Christians claimed and that this claim seemed plausible enough to Tacitus to accept at face value.

As evidence goes, this is weak sauce and this is as good as it gets.

Quote: Josephus not only wrote about Jesus but about John the Baptist, another famous character from the gospels.
Josephus says not one word about Jesus. The Testimonium Flavianum is such a laughable forgery that even Christian apologists acknowledge that it was "interpolated". When Lee Strobel won't back up a piece of evidence as entire authentic, you know it's b.s. You may want to preserve your credibility and keep your distance from this one.

The "Jamesian Reference" to Jesus seems a bit more sound ...until you read the whole chapter and realize that Josephus is talking about Jesus bar Damneus. We should remember "Jesus" or "Yeshua" was a common name.

Interesting you should mention JtB. Did you know he had his own followers that regarded him as the Messiah? They were rivals to the early Christians and they exist even today. How odd they never got the memo that JtB repeatedly and emphatically denied being the Messiah and that he was the forerunner to Jesus, huh? Is it really likely that his followers stubbornly refused to listen to JtB or is it more likely that the Gospels tried to incorporate him just as Muhammad would later incorporate Jesus?

Quote:Is this irrefutable proof? I doubt it. But I doubt you could irrefutably prove any historical figure. You have to filter what you have in writing through historical criteria of some sort, and the kinds that historians tend to use verify that --- if there's anything we know about Jesus --- Jesus existed. These other things you demand --- Jesus' birthdate, time of death, and ministry... I can't prove these and I don't think anyone can. You can't verify the first two points with the gospels even if we accepted them as fact. As to Jesus' ministry, I'd just be regurgitating Bart Ehrman's expert opinionon that, but again I don't think there's any way to prove it even given the gospels as "gospel".
If Bart Ehrman is arguing for anything more detailed than "some guy named Yeshua existed and he was a religious leader n stuff", I'm confused as to what it is. I'll read his book as soon as I can. Perhaps he will go into greater detail. I've heard Bart Ehrman speak on this subject in the past. He tears apart the Gospels but still thinks there's something at the core. Fine. Tell me what if you can. Can you tell me anything of substance other than "some guy" and "Yeshua" (common name at that time) and "religious leader and stuff" (there were many doom criers at that time)? What did he teach exactly? When did he live? When was his ministry?

If your Jesus-of-the-gaps is just a vague "some doom crier named Yeshua", there were probably several in the first century of Judea that fit that bill.

To paraphrase Shakespeare, "Historical Jesus should be made of sterner stuff".

"An idea is a greater monument than a cathedral and the advance of (humanity's) knowledge over time is a greater miracle than all the sticks turning to snakes and the parting of the waters."
-Henry Drummond, "Inherit the Wind"
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11-05-2012, 09:09 AM
RE: Open Debate Challenge: Historical Jesus
I thought I should do a follow-up post just to be clear what I'm looking for.

It's been my observation in the past that scholars like Bart Ehrman insist that there must be some real person at the core of Christian mythology, despite how unreliable and altered the Gospel accounts are. Fine. It may be so but what can you tell me about this Jesus? What part, if anything, of the Gospel accounts can be taken seriously as a reliable historical record?

It seems to me that the "historical Jesus" of scholars like Ehrman is a vague some-religious-leader who is so poorly defined as to shrink up onto a tiny undefined concept of a man who promptly falls into the cracks of our knowledge of the time and place. He's lost in that void of our ignorance but take it on faith that he's there somewhere? I use the term "some guy" to try to provoke some sort of substantive response. Sorry if it comes across as rude but give me something I can hang my hat on!

Who was this Jesus? Was he the Jesus of Paul who said we don't need to follow the old Jewish laws or was he the Jesus of Matthew who said that the Jewish laws shall stand for all time and our righteousness needs to exceed the pharisees? Was Jesus the Jesus of Mark who was a modest holy man who clearly was separate from and subordinate to his father or was he the bombastic "I AM" Jesus of John who claimed to be one with his father? What did he preach? Can we know anything with any degree of certainty?

What decade was he born? Was it during the reign of Herod the Great, per the Gospel of Matthew? Or was it during the governorship of Quirinius, a decade later, per the Gospel of Luke?

This is what I mean when I mockingly say "Jesus-of-the-gaps" or "some-guy-named-Yeshua-who-was-kinda-a-religious-leader-n-stuff". If you say the Gospels are "based on a true story", what part, if any part, is something we can know to be true?

"An idea is a greater monument than a cathedral and the advance of (humanity's) knowledge over time is a greater miracle than all the sticks turning to snakes and the parting of the waters."
-Henry Drummond, "Inherit the Wind"
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11-05-2012, 09:50 AM (This post was last modified: 11-05-2012 11:10 AM by Lilith Pride.)
RE: Open Debate Challenge: Historical Jesus
So far my best counter argument is something mark fulton suggested. Jesus the essene brother of John the baptist. I would suggest mark posit this suggestion. While he does not really need to add in the idea that paul hijacked the historical figure and turned him into a god which is also part of mark's suggestion in this theory.

I would suggest we get Bucky Ball in here due to his view that Jesus was likely to have existed. My main issue with the posit that starcrash gave was that it's a bit too obviously falsifiable. No matter what position i am trying to argue I want a strong case. I'm sure mark will give you his position rather than me bumbling through it, but it is the best suggestion I've heard yet.

If were more into the historicity of the bible then perhaps I'd have a bigger opinion, but there are things I can assert as false without that deeper knowledge. I just can't come up with a logically sound argument in favor of a historical jesus yet, and I will continuetrying to come up with one that I won't just shut down.

I do however feel that the real character of jesus in the idea that h is historical has to do with the gospel of mark, since all the rest embelish it. I'd have to read mark again in order to really come up with a full opinion though. Also I am not aware of what is written in the other gospels such as thomas. These things make it much harder for me to make a logical assertion towards jesus being a historical figure.

I'm not a non believer, I believe in the possibility of anything. I just don't let the actuality of something be determined by a 3rd party.
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11-05-2012, 11:59 AM
RE: Open Debate Challenge: Historical Jesus
(11-05-2012 07:20 AM)DeistPaladin Wrote:  My contention is not that there are several contradictions. My contention is that the different stories are so saturated with irreconcilable contradictions on even the most basic issues like "in what decade was Jesus born" that the story is utter incoherent.

Additionally, our sources are so dubious that none would be admitted into any court testimony:


Hmm…. if you meant “court of law”.... your contention will be dismissed in the first place.

Rationale: Statute of limitations
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11-05-2012, 12:37 PM
RE: Open Debate Challenge: Historical Jesus
(11-05-2012 11:59 AM)ahoy Wrote:  Rationale: Statute of limitations

Wise guy. Tongue



I don't think you're gonna get much play here, Paladin. There's a kennel full of rabid heathens in here; and even our token theists are pretty dubious. Wink

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