Open Debate Challenge: Historical Jesus
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11-05-2012, 01:37 PM
RE: Open Debate Challenge: Historical Jesus
(11-05-2012 11:59 AM)ahoy Wrote:  
(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
Apologists often love to use courtroom analogies when discussing their evidence for Jesus and his claims of divinity, so I wasn't the first to invoke allusion to the judicial process. I won't mind having my case thrown out if I get to watch Matthew taken into custody for perjury.

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11-05-2012, 01:38 PM
RE: Open Debate Challenge: Historical Jesus
(11-05-2012 09:09 AM)DeistPaladin Wrote:  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?
If you demand details also about Jesus, then you've got me there. I'm not going to provide them. All the evidence that I can present suggests that there was "some guy named Jesus" who had followers that continued his teachings as a religion. Why are you prodding me for superfluous details? Would you have to know exactly when the big bang happened to prove that it did happen at some time in the past? Would you have to know the birthday of a single Sumerian to prove that they existed? Your demands aren't logically consistent with the question "Was Jesus a real person"?

You've given me an argument for the unreliability of the gospels, which is something I conceded. Did you feel that you had to preach to the choir? I already answered to the fallacy behind assuming that the gospels are entirely false just because parts of them are. And you didn't respond to that.

You're also right that Tacitus and Josephus are "weak sauce" evidence for the existence of Jesus. The main point that I made with them is that they independently verify people spoken of in the gospels, as evidence that the gospels didn't entirely make everything up (particularly the characters). But your claim that Josephus "said nothing about Jesus" just isn't true. You call it a "laughable forgery" as if your assertion makes this true. Historians agree that it was "touched up" by Christians based on logic (the passage seems to speak of Jesus from the point-of-view of a Christian, which is weird since Jesus is practically glossed over with just a paragraph). Does that mean that Josephus didn't write about Jesus at all? No. As you can see in the Wikipedia reference, it still appears to have an "authentic nucleus" of speaking about Jesus in some form (according to the experts).

I listened to Bart Ehrman's lecture on The Historical Jesus because a fellow forum member was kind enough to post a link to it. I'd highly recommend it, especially if you want to have proper background for debating the topic.

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11-05-2012, 02:39 PM
RE: Open Debate Challenge: Historical Jesus
(11-05-2012 01:38 PM)Starcrash Wrote:  If you demand details also about Jesus, then you've got me there. I'm not going to provide them. All the evidence that I can present suggests that there was "some guy named Jesus" who had followers that continued his teachings as a religion.
You make it sound like I'm raising the bar on you. I thought I was clear from the get-go what I was asking for and what kind of debate I wanted to have. I thought I made it clear I wasn't going to debate some nebulous Jesus-of-the-gaps who is presented as the vaunted source behind Christian mythology and yet disappears into the cracks of our knowledge once we ask for any details at all.

But since you bring up that you're convinced there was some guy named Yeshua who's followers then founded his teachings as a religion, can you at least articulate for me what "teachings" these were? Which, if any, of the early Christians got it right? Was Paul right when he said that Jesus abolished the old laws or was Matthew right that Jesus commanded us to follow the old laws? Was Mark right that Jesus thought of himself as separate from and subordinate to Yahweh or was John right that Jesus bombastically preached that he was nothing less than God incarnate.

Or perhaps none of the Bible authors got it right? Perhaps the Ebionites were correct, that Jesus was adopted by Yahweh as a son and he only abolished the need to sacrifice animals? Or perhaps the Marcionites were correct that he preached he was a higher god and wanted to abolish the entire freaking Jewish faith, lock, stock and barrel?

Ironically, you know what scholar I'm thinking of, who's writings have inspired me to ask these questions? Here's a hint: his name rhymes with "Art Furman".

Quote:Why are you prodding me for superfluous details? Would you have to know exactly when the big bang happened to prove that it did happen at some time in the past? Would you have to know the birthday of a single Sumerian to prove that they existed? Your demands aren't logically consistent with the question "Was Jesus a real person"?
"Superfluous details"? Seriously? I'm asking for any freaking details at all beyond "Yeshua" and "religious teacher n stuff". I'm asking some really basic questions like "what did the historical Jesus teach or do?" And you make it sound like I'm asking for DNA samples.

I don't know, I think "what did he really teach and how do we know?" is a pretty basic question that follows, "Jesus definitely existed and inspired Christianity."

Quote:You've given me an argument for the unreliability of the gospels, which is something I conceded. Did you feel that you had to preach to the choir? I already answered to the fallacy behind assuming that the gospels are entirely false just because parts of them are. And you didn't respond to that.
Actually I did respond to that. I said we're not talking about a couple details that are wrong. We're talking about a completely incoherent story. I then asked what parts, if any, can be taken seriously as historical documents. That's called a question. It's not a fallacy to ask a question like that.

What is a fallacy is trying to shove the burden of proof on to me. It's not my job to prove every single word of the Gospels aren't true. This is called "argument from ignorance". It your job to show me what parts of the Gospels are true and how we know.

Quote:The main point that I made with them is that they independently verify people spoken of in the gospels
In what way? Tacitus is a fragile proof for any historical Jesus, never mind something that provides any details at all. It doesn't even mention him by name and that's assuming he isn't passing along what the Christians told him. Tacitus tells us nothing about the Gospel story. Even the crucifixion was blamed on the Jews in the Gospels. Pilate was depicted increasingly as a reluctant participant.

Josephus says not one word about Jesus. Nothing. Zip. Nada.
Quote:You call it a "laughable forgery" as if your assertion makes this true.
Seriously?

You really want to go there?

You really want to defend such a glaring Christian forgery, "discovered" by the self-professed liar-for-Jesus, Bishop Esubeus, that even apologists like Strobel admit was "interpolated" by later Christian scribes?

Hey, don't forget the Shroud of Turin, the James Ossuary and I think the Catholic Church has some shards of the original cross to sell you.

The Testimonium Flavianum is a short paragraph that raves about how Jesus was the Messiah, performed miracles and was raised from the dead. It fires off all the salient highlights of Christian theology in rapid fire succession as if going down a list of bullet points. And all this written by an Orthodox Jew?

"Ah yes, there do appear to be some interpolations. Purely by accident, I assure you."

"Really, well then, to the waste basket it goes."

"Wait! Not so fast! It is partially authentic."

"Partially authentic?"

"Yes, we have a better version where we removed all the embarrassing things that a Jew would never write."

"And you know this is the version that Josephus wrote?"

"Oh yes, we have proof."

"You have earlier extant copies, ones copied prior to Esubeus' forg... interpolation then?"

"Um, no, they seem to have been lost for some reason."

"Ah, of course, well you do have earlier Christians that quoted the passage then?"

"Not exactly."

"Well what do you have"

"It uses words that Josephus would have used and stuff."

I'm only slightly paraphrasing conversations with apologists on this subject.

Quote:Does that mean that Josephus didn't write about Jesus at all? No. As you can see in the Wikipedia reference, it still appears to have an "authentic nucleus" of speaking about Jesus in some form (according to the experts).
Waiting for proof...

"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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12-05-2012, 05:05 AM (This post was last modified: 12-05-2012 05:11 AM by Starcrash.)
RE: Open Debate Challenge: Historical Jesus
(11-05-2012 02:39 PM)DeistPaladin Wrote:  But since you bring up that you're convinced there was some guy named Yeshua who's followers then founded his teachings as a religion, can you at least articulate for me what "teachings" these were? Which, if any, of the early Christians got it right? Was Paul right when he said that Jesus abolished the old laws or was Matthew right that Jesus commanded us to follow the old laws? Was Mark right that Jesus thought of himself as separate from and subordinate to Yahweh or was John right that Jesus bombastically preached that he was nothing less than God incarnate.

"Superfluous details"? Seriously? I'm asking for any freaking details at all beyond "Yeshua" and "religious teacher n stuff". I'm asking some really basic questions like "what did the historical Jesus teach or do?" And you make it sound like I'm asking for DNA samples.

I don't know, I think "what did he really teach and how do we know?" is a pretty basic question that follows, "Jesus definitely existed and inspired Christianity."

Ridicule aside, there's a point here that does need addressing... you want me to define "Jesus". Part of the question "Did Jesus exist?" involves defining the terms inside the question, and that's fair. To say that Jesus was a teacher upon whose teachings a religion was built is probably enough to do just that, but I will respond to "what we can know about his teachings". The historical criteria for this is "declaration against interest".

In a court setting where I stand accused, if my girlfriend gave me an alibi, that would mean little. One would expect that. However, her testimony carries much more weight if she has been called by the prosecutor instead to testify that I don't have an alibi. It's against her own personal interest and bias

In the gospels, we have some statements that go against Christian theology. You may call these contradictions, and they certainly are, but that doesn't answer "why" the authors would bother contradicting their own beliefs... it would seem that they did this because they were recording things Jesus actually said, rather than what they wanted him to say. Stories like Jesus telling the rich young ruler (in response to "what must I do to be saved?") to obey the old testament commandments and sell everything he owns is not a Christian response. Every time Jesus is challenged about the old testament, he clarifies his interpretation on it but never says "we don't follow the old testament anymore" or "I'm replacing that with a new covenant". If there's anything that we can surmise about Jesus from his statements against interest, it's that he highly valued the old testament and had no intention of replacing it (which means he probably wouldn't have approved of Christianity). He also thought that wealth prevented a person from going to Heaven, which is clear from his actions as a hobo himself.

(11-05-2012 02:39 PM)DeistPaladin Wrote:  Actually I did respond to that. I said we're not talking about a couple details that are wrong. We're talking about a completely incoherent story. I then asked what parts, if any, can be taken seriously as historical documents. That's called a question. It's not a fallacy to ask a question like that.

What is a fallacy is trying to shove the burden of proof on to me. It's not my job to prove every single word of the Gospels aren't true. This is called "argument from ignorance". It your job to show me what parts of the Gospels are true and how we know.

I know you hate being accused of fallacies and would love to dump some on me, but you've got to be reasonable. The fallacy of composition is real, and it doesn't suddenly disappear just because you think "it goes far beyond a couple details". You call it a completely incoherent story, as if every detail is incompatible with either science or other parts of the gospel (or did you mean unreadable?). That's exaggeration. For one counterexample, consider the details about Jesus being beaten and crucified. These things are in line with what we know about crucifixion from other sources, and because it was so brutal it just wasn't necessary for the authors to add to it or lie about it.

Then you call it a question, as if there are no fallacies inside questions or as if questions are mutually exclusive with fallacies. I seriously hope you know better than that. Not only is this not true about fallacies, but you're attempting to redefine history. The fallacy can be found within the statement "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."

Am I "shoving the burden of proof back on you"? Of course not. The evidence I present is from the gospels, and because your attempt to make them invalid is logically fallacious, it's still on you to present stronger counter-evidence or take another tact in making them invalid. Not every rebuttal is a "burden of proof". And then you totally mis-defined Argument from Ignorance. Please look it up. An argument from ignorance would be if I made statements about Jesus that are just assumed because we can't possibly know, not statements about Jesus coming from my evidence that I assume are true rather than false.

(11-05-2012 02:39 PM)DeistPaladin Wrote:  
Quote:The main point that I made with them is that they independently verify people spoken of in the gospels
In what way? Tacitus is a fragile proof for any historical Jesus, never mind something that provides any details at all. It doesn't even mention him by name and that's assuming he isn't passing along what the Christians told him. Tacitus tells us nothing about the Gospel story. Even the crucifixion was blamed on the Jews in the Gospels. Pilate was depicted increasingly as a reluctant participant.

Josephus says not one word about Jesus. Nothing. Zip. Nada.

I already answered these objections. Further denial about Josephus doesn't bolster your case... I cited evidence supporting the fact that Josephus spoke about Jesus. Your personal conviction is not convincing. And your argument about Tacitus is a straw man. You call it "fragile proof" as if this was different from "weak sauce" (which I conceded) and you don't speak to my using it for evidence that other characters in the gospel were existent.

(11-05-2012 02:39 PM)DeistPaladin Wrote:  
Quote:You call it a "laughable forgery" as if your assertion makes this true.
Seriously?

You really want to go there?

You really want to defend such a glaring Christian forgery, "discovered" by the self-professed liar-for-Jesus, Bishop Esubeus, that even apologists like Strobel admit was "interpolated" by later Christian scribes?

Hey, don't forget the Shroud of Turin, the James Ossuary and I think the Catholic Church has some shards of the original cross to sell you.

The Testimonium Flavianum is a short paragraph that raves about how Jesus was the Messiah, performed miracles and was raised from the dead. It fires off all the salient highlights of Christian theology in rapid fire succession as if going down a list of bullet points. And all this written by an Orthodox Jew?

"Ah yes, there do appear to be some interpolations. Purely by accident, I assure you."

"Really, well then, to the waste basket it goes."

"Wait! Not so fast! It is partially authentic."

"Partially authentic?"

"Yes, we have a better version where we removed all the embarrassing things that a Jew would never write."

"And you know this is the version that Josephus wrote?"

"Oh yes, we have proof."

"You have earlier extant copies, ones copied prior to Esubeus' forg... interpolation then?"

"Um, no, they seem to have been lost for some reason."

"Ah, of course, well you do have earlier Christians that quoted the passage then?"

"Not exactly."

"Well what do you have"

"It uses words that Josephus would have used and stuff."

I'm only slightly paraphrasing conversations with apologists on this subject.

Quote:Does that mean that Josephus didn't write about Jesus at all? No. As you can see in the Wikipedia reference, it still appears to have an "authentic nucleus" of speaking about Jesus in some form (according to the experts).
Waiting for proof...

I made an argument from authority. You straw-manned my argument as coming from apologists rather than historians, then presented a conversation coming from an apologist. But you know... I'll give this one to you, based not on your argument but from someone who actually makes a logical case against it. It's basically what you were shooting for, without the ridicule and the straw-manning.

Instead I'll stand by the gospels as my evidence. If you wish to make yet another attack on their general lack of authenticity, don't waste your time. Do you know what an ad hominem fallacy is? It's when you try to make a source of evidence look bad by attacking other irrelevant facts that are off-topic to the argument --- such as saying that we can't believe an eye-witness account because that person was a child molester. Your argument isn't quite ad hominem, because the falsehood of the documents is relevant, but I'm warning you to stay on track because when you bring up things like the Shroud of Turin or pieces of the crucifixion cross, it's obvious that you just want to attack Christianity. If you didn't realize it before now, I'm an atheist. I'm not trying to defend Christianity, so your points in that area will just fall on deaf ears. Try to keep on point, and honestly, don't ridicule me. You don't want to be ridiculed I imagine, and it doesn't add anything evidence-wise.

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12-05-2012, 10:42 AM
RE: Open Debate Challenge: Historical Jesus
Quote:To say that Jesus was a teacher upon whose teachings a religion was built is probably enough to do just that
Except that I made it clear prior to this exchange that I wasn't going to walk into that trap. I've also repeatedly said since that those who would suggest there must have been a real man behind the myths need to articulate for me what, if anything, from the Gospels we can know to be true.

I use ridicule with phrases like "some guy" and "Jesus-of-the-gaps" to underscore the point that the "historical Jesus" often shrinks into such vague concepts of a religious teacher that can disappear easily into the gaps of our knowledge. This is especially true since Christianity teaches many different things and features many different concepts of Jesus. Jesus was a liberal, a conservative, a capitalist, a socialist, or whatever you want him to be and there are always handy verses that can be found to justify the favored version.

This is partly what I mean when I say Christians have never told a clear story (maybe that's a better word to use). Reading the Gospels with a critical eye (something that was counter-intuitive for me to do, raised like everyone else in this society), Jesus comes across more as a two-dimensional platform employed to advance a particular theological agenda than as a believable, consistent character of a biography. That many different theologians of many different perspectives employed this platform to go in different directions can be an explanation of the contradictions.
Quote:In the gospels, we have some statements that go against Christian theology. You may call these contradictions, and they certainly are, but that doesn't answer "why" the authors would bother contradicting their own beliefs... it would seem that they did this because they were recording things Jesus actually said, rather than what they wanted him to say.
Or perhaps there were as many ideas about Jesus as there were Christianities that existed at the time. Bart Ehrman has written extensively about the different Christianities and varying concepts of Jesus (both what he taught and what he was) that existed in the first few centuries. It would be a mistake to think of "Christian theology" as a single, unified concept. There were many Christian theologies. To a much lesser extent, there are still many today.

Quote:He also thought that wealth prevented a person from going to Heaven, which is clear from his actions as a hobo himself.
Jesus was hardly the only Christian or other spiritual leader to advocate modest lifestyle and poverty as a path to righteousness. Part of the concept of Gnosticism, which apparently had its influence on Christian thinking, is that the material world was evil and the spirit world was good. Materialism, greed, lust and other worldly desires have generally been frowned upon in Christianity (with notable exceptions like the modern Prosperity Gospel). That Jesus is depicted as a modest holy man who shunned material wealth is neither inconsistent with the holy man character archetype of the time nor does it run contrary to religious thinking of the time. Sorry, but I struggle to understand what your point here is and why you think it's proof of anything.


Quote:For one counterexample, consider the details about Jesus being beaten and crucified. These things are in line with what we know about crucifixion from other sources, and because it was so brutal it just wasn't necessary for the authors to add to it or lie about it.
Except even the story of Jesus' crucifixion run more in line with fulfillment of scripture than with actual Roman practice. The whole Jesus-Barabbas part of the story relies on a supposed Roman tradition of releasing one criminal that the crowd called for. There's no evidence for this Roman tradition (and it seems unlikely that Pilate would release a known insurrectionist) but it does fit with the Jewish traditions of the scapegoat and the sacrificed goat.

Quote:The evidence I present is from the gospels
Maybe I missed it. When did you present "evidence"? I've heard you argue that just because the Gospels are flawed doesn't mean every part is wrong. I've said repeatedly, "OK, what parts are accurate and how do we know?" Burden of proof, over to you.

Quote:I cited evidence supporting the fact that Josephus spoke about Jesus.
No, you haven't. Simply asserting that there is an authentic core to the TF doesn't make it so. I'm still waiting for proof of that assertion.
Quote:I made an argument from authority.
If you tell me "the experts say so", I'm going to ask "what evidence convinces the experts then?" You've said the experts think there is an authentic core to the TF. I'm going to come back with "based on what?" "Cause they say so" is not a compelling argument.

To use another example, I don't accept evolution as the explanation for the diversity of life because Richard Dawkins says so. I accept evolution because of the evidence that experts like him put forward.

"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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12-05-2012, 11:33 AM
RE: Open Debate Challenge: Historical Jesus
The primary sources for the construction of the historical Jesus are tractates written by anonymous evangelists full of unbelievable mythology and legend. That alone should suffice for calling into the serious question the historicity of Jesus, and would be for any other person but Jesus.
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12-05-2012, 12:25 PM
RE: Open Debate Challenge: Historical Jesus
(12-05-2012 10:42 AM)DeistPaladin Wrote:  
Quote:To say that Jesus was a teacher upon whose teachings a religion was built is probably enough to do just that
Except that I made it clear prior to this exchange that I wasn't going to walk into that trap. I've also repeatedly said since that those who would suggest there must have been a real man behind the myths need to articulate for me what, if anything, from the Gospels we can know to be true.

I use ridicule with phrases like "some guy" and "Jesus-of-the-gaps" to underscore the point that the "historical Jesus" often shrinks into such vague concepts of a religious teacher that can disappear easily into the gaps of our knowledge. This is especially true since Christianity teaches many different things and features many different concepts of Jesus. Jesus was a liberal, a conservative, a capitalist, a socialist, or whatever you want him to be and there are always handy verses that can be found to justify the favored version.

This is partly what I mean when I say Christians have never told a clear story (maybe that's a better word to use). Reading the Gospels with a critical eye (something that was counter-intuitive for me to do, raised like everyone else in this society), Jesus comes across more as a two-dimensional platform employed to advance a particular theological agenda than as a believable, consistent character of a biography. That many different theologians of many different perspectives employed this platform to go in different directions can be an explanation of the contradictions.
Quote:In the gospels, we have some statements that go against Christian theology. You may call these contradictions, and they certainly are, but that doesn't answer "why" the authors would bother contradicting their own beliefs... it would seem that they did this because they were recording things Jesus actually said, rather than what they wanted him to say.
Or perhaps there were as many ideas about Jesus as there were Christianities that existed at the time. Bart Ehrman has written extensively about the different Christianities and varying concepts of Jesus (both what he taught and what he was) that existed in the first few centuries. It would be a mistake to think of "Christian theology" as a single, unified concept. There were many Christian theologies. To a much lesser extent, there are still many today.

Quote:He also thought that wealth prevented a person from going to Heaven, which is clear from his actions as a hobo himself.
Jesus was hardly the only Christian or other spiritual leader to advocate modest lifestyle and poverty as a path to righteousness. Part of the concept of Gnosticism, which apparently had its influence on Christian thinking, is that the material world was evil and the spirit world was good. Materialism, greed, lust and other worldly desires have generally been frowned upon in Christianity (with notable exceptions like the modern Prosperity Gospel). That Jesus is depicted as a modest holy man who shunned material wealth is neither inconsistent with the holy man character archetype of the time nor does it run contrary to religious thinking of the time. Sorry, but I struggle to understand what your point here is and why you think it's proof of anything.


Quote:For one counterexample, consider the details about Jesus being beaten and crucified. These things are in line with what we know about crucifixion from other sources, and because it was so brutal it just wasn't necessary for the authors to add to it or lie about it.
Except even the story of Jesus' crucifixion run more in line with fulfillment of scripture than with actual Roman practice. The whole Jesus-Barabbas part of the story relies on a supposed Roman tradition of releasing one criminal that the crowd called for. There's no evidence for this Roman tradition (and it seems unlikely that Pilate would release a known insurrectionist) but it does fit with the Jewish traditions of the scapegoat and the sacrificed goat.

Quote:The evidence I present is from the gospels
Maybe I missed it. When did you present "evidence"? I've heard you argue that just because the Gospels are flawed doesn't mean every part is wrong. I've said repeatedly, "OK, what parts are accurate and how do we know?" Burden of proof, over to you.

Quote:I cited evidence supporting the fact that Josephus spoke about Jesus.
No, you haven't. Simply asserting that there is an authentic core to the TF doesn't make it so. I'm still waiting for proof of that assertion.
Quote:I made an argument from authority.
If you tell me "the experts say so", I'm going to ask "what evidence convinces the experts then?" You've said the experts think there is an authentic core to the TF. I'm going to come back with "based on what?" "Cause they say so" is not a compelling argument.

To use another example, I don't accept evolution as the explanation for the diversity of life because Richard Dawkins says so. I accept evolution because of the evidence that experts like him put forward.
I don't think there's anything left to debate. You're clearly not looking at this with an open mind... and I don't say that just because you haven't been convinced, but because you haven't abandoned logically faulty arguments or conceded a thing. You don't think critically of your own arguments, and your certainty isn't different than those of the Christians who you think can't look at their own beliefs rationally. Your responses are fundamentally atheist.

Let's pose this a different way... what evidence would convince you that Jesus was a real person? If you can't come up with anything, that's because there wasn't anything you would accept. Or is your mind racing to come up with something that you know is impossible for me to present?

If you aren't even willing to consider the possibility that Jesus was real, then what do I have to win? What's my motivation to keep disputing this?

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12-05-2012, 12:46 PM
RE: Open Debate Challenge: Historical Jesus
(12-05-2012 11:33 AM)Blood Wrote:  The primary sources for the construction of the historical Jesus are tractates written by anonymous evangelists full of unbelievable mythology and legend. That alone should suffice for calling into the serious question the historicity of Jesus, and would be for any other person but Jesus.


Agree completely.

Before you waste your time on this sort of debate it might be good to look at the nature of the literary genre in question.

What is a "gospel" anyway ? The word "gospel" comes the the Old English word, "godspell", which was a translation of the Greek word, which means "good news", εὐαγγέλιον (transliterated as "euangelion", and Latinised "Evangelium").

(BTW, which is where "evangelist came from). What was the "good news" ? The "good news" (or good "newses" heh heh ) was the various interpretations of the "Jesus events". The gospels were not written for light Saturday afternoon reading, with a Dacquiri and a cookie, out on the veranda, or in the morning at Starbucks.

First of all, the production of a written document was extremely difficult, and available to only a VERY VERY few people, in those days. No one had a printer in their den. They were probably written on vellum, (sheep skin), and copies were made later as they were needed. The originals were not read anywhere AT ALL, except IN ONE PLACE. Where was that ? During the Eucharist. The good news was "proclaimed", during lituricgal (worship) proceedings. That was their ONLY purpose and use, for many many years. No one just "read gospels". ("Honey did the gospel come today" ? ........Nuh uh.)

So for us, 2000 years later sitting here, TOTALLY out of context, saying "this doesn't match with that", while very enlightening in it's own way is in a sense, mis-guided. Why ? Cuz we're not in church. It's not a liturigal service. And we don't interpret the events the same way. The ONLY way to see how a gospel works, is to proclaim it in church, and before ya get there, probably have some interest in interpreting the events in the same way as the deliverer of the "good news".

Bottom line. They are NOT historical documents. They never WERE historical documents, and they cannot be USED as historical documents. They are liturgical texts, intended for worship services, by people WHO ALREADY believed what they were about to hear proclaimed.

So debate the "historical Jeebus" 'till you're blue in the face, but, don't forget the actual historical and cultural context of a "gospel".

Insufferable know-it-all.Einstein
Those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music - Friedrich Nietzsche
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12-05-2012, 07:42 PM
RE: Open Debate Challenge: Historical Jesus
(12-05-2012 12:25 PM)Starcrash Wrote:  I don't think there's anything left to debate. You're clearly not looking at this with an open mind... and I don't say that just because you haven't been convinced, but because you haven't abandoned logically faulty arguments or conceded a thing. You don't think critically of your own arguments, and your certainty isn't different than those of the Christians who you think can't look at their own beliefs rationally. Your responses are fundamentally atheist.

Let's pose this a different way... what evidence would convince you that Jesus was a real person? If you can't come up with anything, that's because there wasn't anything you would accept. Or is your mind racing to come up with something that you know is impossible for me to present?

If you aren't even willing to consider the possibility that Jesus was real, then what do I have to win? What's my motivation to keep disputing this?
I was just thinking the same thing, that there's little point to this debate. You completely ignored the rules I set up from the get-go. I said I wasn't going to argue over "some guy named Yeshua who was a religious leader n stuff" and you proceeded to argue for some guy named Yeshua who was a religious leader n stuff. I made it clear one of my questions would be, if the Gospels are based on a true story, what part if any is reliably true. You then whined I was asking for all kinds of unreasonable superfluous details. I said I wasn't assuming the burden of proof and you tried to shove the burden of proof onto me.

I really shouldn't have to explain to an atheist what it means to lack belief or how a lack of belief is somehow equivalent to Christian faith. I lack a belief in a historical Jesus, if that term has any meaning beyond "some mysterious religious leader n stuff". I am skeptical of the Gospels as "historical documents". I would like to know what the true story was but I see no reason to assume there is some core truth behind Christian mythology unless someone presents me with evidence to the contrary.

What would convince me that Jesus was a real person? I think I've already told you that you can start by telling me who the real Jesus was.
  • Was he the Jesus of Matt who said keep the OT or the Jesus of Paul who said ditch the OT laws?
  • Was Jesus the modest holy man of Mark who presented himself as separate from and subordinate to Yahweh or the bombastic Jesus of John who was one with Yahweh?
  • Do we have any idea at all what the real Jesus really preached and if so, what do we base it on?

In sum, tell me who he was, what he preached and how we know that. Not unreasonable, I don't think.

"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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12-05-2012, 10:24 PM
RE: Open Debate Challenge: Historical Jesus
The fact that different gospels have differing views of (a possible) core set of events, proves nothing either way. In fact, I suspect the closest we may ever come to knowing what Yeshua actually said or did, has been articulated by the Jesus Seminar. They, (the 150 PhDs) voted on what they thought the probability was that the individual sayings were authentic or not. The percentages are posted.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jesus_Seminar#Authentic_sayings.2C_as_determined_by_the_seminar

Insufferable know-it-all.Einstein
Those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music - Friedrich Nietzsche
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