Reliability of the Gospels
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13-12-2012, 07:30 PM
RE: Reliability of the Gospels
Quote:Jewish intellectuals working for the Flavian government in Rome, for example, could have used such a collection to help create the gospels.


That's an odd thing to say. Why would the Jews and the Romans get together to create a religion they hate?

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13-12-2012, 07:42 PM (This post was last modified: 13-12-2012 07:48 PM by Free.)
RE: Reliability of the Gospels
Quote:So the “first great theologian of the church” asserted Jesus lived seventy or more years later than what is now stated in the gospels. He obviously knew or made up details about Jesus that contradicted what became the accepted story. This demonstrates that the gospels were still evolving in the late second century.

But the quote of Origen regarding what John said is not in the Gospel record, so you really have no point there. Also, the age of Jesus, if you read it properly, is an old wives tale that stems from his supposed resurrection and subsequent remaining on earth.

The Hindu's have a similar story about Jesus. Apparently, Jesus is buried in India.

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13-12-2012, 07:46 PM
RE: Reliability of the Gospels
Quote:Look ... I'm here to discuss facts and opinions, not to get patronising advice on how to examine history, which you persistently dole out, particularly when someone disagrees with you. Quit doing that will you? It will make our discussions much more pleasant.


Wasn't being patronizing, but only being personable. If you spoke to me in real life, and heard my voice, you would get an entirely different image of me. Yes, I am passionate, but also the most helpful and mild mannered person you would ever meet.

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13-12-2012, 07:46 PM (This post was last modified: 14-12-2012 12:08 AM by Mark Fulton.)
RE: Reliability of the Gospels
(13-12-2012 07:30 PM)Free Wrote:  
Quote:Jewish intellectuals working for the Flavian government in Rome, for example, could have used such a collection to help create the gospels.


That's an odd thing to say. Why would the Jews and the Romans get together to create a religion they hate?






I'm not sure why you think "Romans" hated Christianity. Leaving that aside...I'm glad you asked the question...here is something REALLY INTERESTING I want to share with everyone. These are Joseph Atwill's ideas about the origins of the gospels...


There’s a fascinating, intriguing theory about the origins of the gospels that fits with my suspicion that Christianity originated as government propaganda. The contemporary writer Joseph Atwill, who spent ten years studying the gospels, the Dead Sea scrolls and the works of Josephus, thinks intellectuals working for the government during the Flavian dynasty (69-96 CE) wrote the original versions of the gospels. He writes in his 2005 book “Caesar’s Messiah” (http://www.amazon.com/Caes+ars-Messiah-R...oks&ie=UTF) about certain events from the ministry of Jesus that closely parallel the military campaign of Titus in the first Jewish war. He believes that sometime during the Flavian dynasty, when Vespasian, then Titus and then Domitian were emperors, intellectuals under their direction created the gospels, and incorporated a skillful satire of the Jews that becomes apparent on reading Josephus’ “Wars of the Jews” and his “The Life of Flavius Josephus.”Mr Atwill believes the existence of a real Yeshua may have been a fact, yet that doesn’t mean that anything that character may have said or done is faithfully recorded in the gospels.He believes that Titus had the gospels invented for two reasons; firstly to act as a theological barrier against the spread of messianic Judaism, and secondly because if he could get Jews to worship “Jesus,” it would mean they accepted Roman authority.

Titus had decimated militant Judaism in 70CE, but he couldn’t get the Jewish prisoners to worship him as Lord. The revolt may have been crushed, but the religion that inspired it wasn’t. It became obvious that Jews were still dreaming about their messiah, so Titus transformed himself into the embodiment of their dreams. He had a derivative of Judaism created that worshipped him (as Jesus) without its followers knowing it. He became the Son of God, sent by his father (Vespasian), who had already been deified by the Roman Senate. The agenda was to tame Judaism by transforming it into a cooperative, government friendly religion.

Using religion for the good of the state was a well-established practice in ancient Rome. If this is why the gospels were created, the cruel joke is that it was done to subdue stubborn Jews and to get them to worship the Roman Caesar as Lord.

The Flavians fancied Christianity might flourish before the Gospels’ satirical level became widely known. The gospels were designed to become apparent as satire only to the more educated classes who had access to Josephus’ works. If this is true, they were a very black comedy.

Josephus was an adopted member of the Imperial family. He lived in the imperial palace, and was their official historian. Titus supported the publication of his “Wars of the Jews.” Josephus would have considered Vespasian and Titus divine, or been pleased to help propagate the myth. Titus became emperor in 79 CE, and was deified shortly after his death in 81 CE. The historian Seutonius says of him “I have likewise been informed by many persons, that he was remarkably quick in writing short-hand, would in merriment and jest engage with his secretaries in the imitation of any hand-writing he saw, and often say, ‘that he was admirably qualified for forgery.’" (The Lives of the Twelve Caesars, section 466). Titus had his writers who wrote the gospels backdate Jesus’ ministry to c.30 CE, thereby enabling “Jesus” to foresee events in the future war.As part of the scheme, Josephus shaped some of the details of his history of the war so it appeared that the messiah fulfilled predictions from the book of Daniel. There were plenty of people in the Flavian household who, like Josephus, were familiar enough with Judaism to help create Christianity. Titus’ mistress Bernice was a Jew of Maccabean descent. Tiberias Alexander, a Jew, was chief of staff to Titus during the siege of Jerusalem. He was also the nephew of Philo, the well-known Jewish philosopher. John of Gischala, one of the main leaders of the Jewish revolt, had been transported as a prisoner back to Rome, but not executed. Atwill believes his inside knowledge of the struggle against Rome was used by the Flavians to help fabricate gospel fictions.

Titus Flavius fulfilled in real life many of “Jesus’” prophesies, forty years (within one generation) after “Jesus” spoke them. Jesus and Titus both preached “good news,” and were sent on a mission from God, their father.Both began their three-year campaigns in Galilee and finished them in Jerusalem. Atwill believes the site of today’s Nazareth was chosen in the fourth century because it was the location of Titus’ first battle in Galilee. Titus was in his late 20’s, just like Jesus. He’s the “son of man” who “laid low” many Galilean towns, surrounded Jerusalem and destroys the buildings therein, and annihilated a “wicked generation,” all as predicted by Jesus. “For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side, and shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation.” (Luke 19:43-44 KJV). Many Jews had been trapped inside Jerusalem’s walls because they didn’t know the Romans were coming.

Mark’s gospel says:And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers. And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” (Mark 4:18-19 KJV). That sounds like a nice story, but takes on a more macabre meaning if read in conjunction with Josephus’ Wars of the Jews in which he relates the story of a battle between Jews and Titus’ troops on the same sea of Galilee:“Sometimes the Romans leapt into their ships, with swords in their hands, and slew them; but when some of them met the vessels, the Romans caught them by the middle, and destroyed at once their ships and themselves who were taken in them. And for such as were drowning in the sea, if they lifted their heads up above the water, they were either killed by darts, or caught by the vessels; but if, in the desperate case they were in, they attempted to swim to their enemies, the Romans cut off their heads or their hands…” Hence Titus’ troops followed him on to the Sea of Galilee where they became “fishers of men.”

Titus destroyed the Temple in 70 AD, as foretold by Jesus. "As for these things that you see, the days will come when there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.” (Luke 21:6 KJV, see also Matt. 24:1; Mark 13:1).

How then, does Atwill explain the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus? The parallel is in Josephus’ autobiography “The Life of Flavius Josephus”“Moreover, when the city Jerusalem was taken by force…I was sent by Titus Caesar…to a certain village called Thecoa, in order to know whether it were a place fit for a camp; as I came back, I saw many captives crucified, and remembered three of them as my former acquaintance. I was very sorry at this in my mind, and went with tears in my eyes to Titus, and told him of them; so he immediately commanded them to be taken down, and to have the greatest care taken of them, in order to their recovery; yet two of them died under the physician’s hands, while the third recovered. (75, 417, 420-421). So three men were crucified, but only one survived. The person who begged the Roman commander to take the survivor down from the cross was Josephus himself, whose Jewish name was Joseph Bar Matthias, from which the gospels get Joseph “of Arimathea,” the man who allegedly asked Pilate for Jesus’ body.

When Rome went to war it had a long tradition of absorbing the religions of its opponents. It was easier and more cost effective than allowing those gods to remain enemies, thereby risking more wrangles with the rank and file rallying under them. This was another example, yet with its own unique twist. The authors were hoping to convince Hebrews that Jesus, who was really Titus, and predicted the future, and had been the messiah they had been waiting for. “Jesus” was a concoction designed to deprive them of the desire to start insurrections. If this is true, Christianity was, in fact, a very clever, and in one sense humorous, product of the broader struggle that had been going on since Alexander the great in 333 BCE, the one between Hellenism with its polytheism, cleverness and rationalism, and Judaism’s monotheism, subservience and faith.

This neatly explains how Christianity, a pro-Roman religion reliant on the gospels and said to promote pacifism and obedience, allegedly emerged from a Judean cult in a nation that had over a one hundred year history of a militant struggle against Rome. It explains why a pacifist preacher, Jesus, was created out of the story of Yeshua, an unsuccessful upstart. It’s why the true identities of all the four gospel authors are unknown. It’s why “Jesus” referred to Jews who rebelled against Rome as a “wicked generation.” It’s why the “second coming” of Jesus never happened; it was Titus who came instead. It’s why the gospels are so often anti Semitic. It nicely explains why “Jesus” would say“And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.’ (Matthew 5:41 KJB,) about Roman soldiers conscripting people to carry their packs. It also explanations why “Jesus” was able to predict the future, as noticed by the credulous (or dishonest) Eusebius:“If anyone compares the words of our savior with the other accounts of the historian (Josephus) concerning the whole war, how can one fail to wonder, and to admit that the foreknowledge and the prophecy of our Saviour were truly divine and marvelously strange.” (Church History, Book III, Chapter VII.) Eusebius failed to realize, or admit, that the gospels’ authors had used Josephus to create Jesus. It explains why the gospels were first written in Greek and how Christianity’s structures of authority, namely churches and the college of bishops, were based on Roman, not Judaic, traditions.It is why so many members of the Roman imperial family were said to be promoting Christianity, for example Flavius Clemens, later said to be the fourth pope, Bernice, Titus’ mistress, and Flavia Domitilla, Vespasian’s granddaughter. If these people were “Christians,” they were so in name only, as they couldn’t have believed in their own spoof.

Atwill thinks the Flavians didn’t intend sophisticated, educated people similar to themselves to read their invention as serious literature or history. It was intended for militant Jews and the hoi polloi, people Josephus referred to as “slaves” and “scum.”If Atwill’s theory is correct, Christians have been unwittingly worshipping Titus Flavius for nearly 2000 years. Jesus’ injunctions to love your enemies, aspire to poverty, and pay your taxes take on a sinister meaning, because they were invented for the control and pacification of peasants and slaves.Titus' invented religion, the one said to be the basis of western morality, took hold partly because common people didn't have the intellectual armor to guard against it, and it succeeded beyond the wildest dreams of the Flavians. Titus, lying in his grave, has had an embarrassed grin on his face for the last two millennia. He was responsible for the most monumental fraud ever inflicted on mankind.

This theory adds weight to the hypothesis that Paul’s Christianity originated as part of a government plot. Paul probably wrote well before the Flavian dynasty, yet there is a good reason why the propaganda could have started in Paul’s day; Rome was trying to prevent a war with the Jews. Mr Atwill will be writing a subsequent book that helps explain Paul’s role in the scheme.

There is, however, in my opinion, what seems to be a minor problem with the theory. Atwill has proposed the four gospels were originally written during the Flavian dynasty (69-96 CE), yet it’s a fact that no first century source ever mentions the existence of any of the four Gospels, so there’s no particular reason to even date them from the first century. (see http://www.harrington-sites.com/f5.htm).The gospels are never explicitly mentioned in the writings of the Church fathers and apologists until toward the end of the second century, which suggests they were only originally written then, I would say a minimum of one hundred years after Jesus died. There were hundreds of now so-called apocryphal gospels in the second century, only first whittled down to four in the late second century. There are, however, many possible explanations that render Atwill’s theory still plausible. One is that the gospels were first written only in a minimalist fashion, unnamed and not widely distributed. It could be that they were expanded upon in the later second century, given names and only then widely circulated. It could also be that all mentions of first century gospels were removed by later Christians intent on promoting their own versions of the gospels.Many scholars disagree with me and think the gospels were first penned in the late first century, which fits perfectly with the theory.

Atwill seems to suggest all the four gospels were written simultaneously. This idea isn’t generally accepted, because Mark appears to have been written first. I find it hard to imagine why the government would invent four different accounts. It seems more likely to me they wrote one, the original version of Mark, and the others evolved from this as the second century progressed.

I haven’t done justice to all of Atwill’s ideas, so I encourage anyone interested to read his fascinating book.

Where does this leave my theory that there existed an historical Yeshua who tried to start a war with Rome? I don’t think the ideas are mutually exclusive. Considering the gospels are mostly manufactured manuscripts that made use of many sources for inspiration, there is still room for a once living insurrectionist who imagined he was the messiah. It’s possible Josephus and others knew of a Yeshua, and simply used his existence as the framework for creating the stories of Jesus.

The truth about what may have happened 2000 years ago makes a fascinating discussion. We’ll probably never know for sure, unless startling facts are one day discovered in the bowels of the Vatican or somewhere else. I think while we may be unsure of the details, the whole Jesus narrative reeks of political propaganda.
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13-12-2012, 08:26 PM
Reliability of the Gospels
(13-12-2012 07:24 PM)Free Wrote:  
(13-12-2012 06:23 PM)vindicarblack Wrote:  You are using the analogy wrong


Demonstrate what is wrong with it, please.

Absence of proof that something did not occur while possible evidence that the event did not occur it is not evidence of existence of the a positive event. Inability to disprove the real life existence of Jesus is not proof that he did exist.
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13-12-2012, 08:51 PM
RE: Reliability of the Gospels
Quote:Absence of proof that something did not occur while possible evidence that the event did not occur it is not evidence of existence of the a positive event. Inability to disprove the real life existence of Jesus is not proof that he did exist.


"In some circumstances it can be safely assumed that if a certain event had occurred, evidence of it could be discovered by qualified investigators. In such circumstances it is perfectly reasonable to take the absence of proof of its occurrence as positive proof of its non-occurrence."


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


You will want to update your education regarding negative proof/argument from silence/argument from ignorance. At one time, even just a few months ago, it was indeed declared to be a fallacy. But because some exceptionally good arguments were presented, it is no longer considered to be a fallacious argument in some circumstances.


My argument was one of those "some circumstances."

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13-12-2012, 09:54 PM
RE: Reliability of the Gospels
(13-12-2012 07:22 PM)Free Wrote:  
(13-12-2012 06:08 PM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  Please describe the extent and the basis for your personal emotional attachment (if any) to what you consider to be the "historically plausible" teachings of Yeshua.

That was explained in the other thread, but here it is again.


Quote:Well, I can only blame the "historian" in me for trying to uncover the truth.

As an atheist, I find religion to be the worst thing to have ever happened to the human race. We all know how religion has caused more wars, deaths, poverty, and intellectual suppression than all other philosophies combined. From the wars between the Jews and the Romans, to the Crusades and the spread of Islam, these vicious and hateful religions have suppressed the advancement of science and the human race in general to such a degree that is is exceptionally shameful and harmful.

The true decency of our humanity has been victimized and dictated to by religious ideologies insomuch that the human animal is but a decrepit and insidious self-predatory monster.

Therefore, the "historian" in me wants to put a human face upon a supposed god in an effort to demonstrate the mere humanity of Jesus, as opposed to the religious beliefs held by Christianity and Islam about this fellow. By proving his mere humanity, the house of cards will fall.

So you see, there is indeed a method to my madness.

Re

" Therefore, the "historian" in me wants to put a human face upon a supposed god in an effort to demonstrate the mere humanity of Jesus,"

That's an admirable goal. BUT....at the end of the day, we want the truth, and so does most of the world. You seem adamantly opposed to the idea that Jesus never existed, and you start lecturing anyone who disagrees with you (about, for example, your interpretation of logical fallacies). While your motives are admirable, you shouldn't drive an agenda if you become closed-minded by doing so.

Now....I too think Yeshua probably existed, yet I'm open to the possibility that he didn't... because I'm not sure. I too would like to help Christians by helping them discover the humanity of a real OR a 100% invented Jesus.
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13-12-2012, 09:58 PM (This post was last modified: 13-12-2012 10:04 PM by Mark Fulton.)
RE: Reliability of the Gospels
(13-12-2012 07:42 PM)Free Wrote:  
Quote:So the “first great theologian of the church” asserted Jesus lived seventy or more years later than what is now stated in the gospels. He obviously knew or made up details about Jesus that contradicted what became the accepted story. This demonstrates that the gospels were still evolving in the late second century.

But the quote of Origen regarding what John said is not in the Gospel record, so you really have no point there. Also, the age of Jesus, if you read it properly, is an old wives tale that stems from his supposed resurrection and subsequent remaining on earth.

The Hindu's have a similar story about Jesus. Apparently, Jesus is buried in India.


Um.....what are you on about? I never mentioned Origin (I was talking about Irenaeus). Whether what Irenaeus wrote is in the gospels or not is irrelevant. He was a very important church father. He should have known how old Jeebus was. Obviously Jeebus hadn't finished evolving when Irenaeus wrote this.

Have you been smoking something? Big Grin
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13-12-2012, 11:20 PM
Reliability of the Gospels
(13-12-2012 08:51 PM)Free Wrote:  
Quote:Absence of proof that something did not occur while possible evidence that the event did not occur it is not evidence of existence of the a positive event. Inability to disprove the real life existence of Jesus is not proof that he did exist.


"In some circumstances it can be safely assumed that if a certain event had occurred, evidence of it could be discovered by qualified investigators. In such circumstances it is perfectly reasonable to take the absence of proof of its occurrence as positive proof of its non-occurrence."


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


You will want to update your education regarding negative proof/argument from silence/argument from ignorance. At one time, even just a few months ago, it was indeed declared to be a fallacy. But because some exceptionally good arguments were presented, it is no longer considered to be a fallacious argument in some circumstances.


My argument was one of those "some circumstances."

I will not stoop to your level and resort a personal attack but it is still the opposite of what you are asserting. The quote above asserts that the absence of proof that an event did not occur is proof, in way, that it actually did not occur, not just that the proof is non-existent - I will explain it one last time for you. You are asserting something completely different. You are asserting that the lack of disproof of Jesus is proof that he did exist. If you cannot understand the difference than there is no point to continue our discussion.
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13-12-2012, 11:24 PM
Reliability of the Gospels
see i can post unsupported and undocumented internet cut and paste items like free, although I think there is historically more support for my quote:


A negative proof is a logical fallacy which takes the structure of:
X is true because there is no proof that X is false.
If the only evidence for something's existence is a lack of evidence for it not existing, then the default position is one of skepticism and not credulity. This type of negative proof is common in proofs of God's existence or in pseudosciences where it is used to attempt to shift the burden of proof onto the skeptic rather than the proponent of the idea. The burden of proof is on the individual proposing existence, not the one questioning existence.
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