Richard Carrier On the Historicity of Jesus
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16-10-2015, 09:51 AM (This post was last modified: 16-10-2015 09:58 AM by Tomasia.)
RE: Richard Carrier On the Historicity of Jesus
(16-10-2015 08:41 AM)RocketSurgeon76 Wrote:  It'd be a bit like claiming that Joseph Smith was executed in 1844 by the US Government, despite total absence of US Gov't records saying that he was, simply because we have the writings of someone interviewing Mormons converted in Utah in 1904 before they were executed by the US Government. Those persons would have every reason to claim to be following in the footsteps of their cult leader unto death.

Except of course in the case of Joseph Smith we'd expect to find Gov't records of it.

Nothing in Tacitus writing here mentioned Jesus being crucified by Pilate indicate that he was merely reiterating a belief passed along by Christians. In fact he evens mention the spread of the superstitious belief in the resurrection that arose in Judea spreading to Rome as well.

And secondly being crucified by the Romans was not a particularly flattering thing, for any messiah claimant, it's a humiliating and unexpected defeat. The splendor and virtue associated with the symbol of the cross is something we acquired. Though many Jews may have been awaiting for the Messiah to arrive, none of them were expecting him to be crucified. Just like the followers of Sabbatai Zevi, didn't expect him to convert to Islam, and just like this embarrassing turn of events, his followers did their best to reinterpret this event back into Messianic expectations.

If Jesus did die some other way, we'd expect to find other versions of his death, we wouldn't expect to find agreement in all the sources, all the various christians sects, orthodox, and heterodox agreeing on how he died.

Quote: "refining" those claims before writing anything down, seems more plausible to me than the claim that "we may use the New Testament writings as an historical information-source".

No we can use the sources exactly as that, in fact we can even show likely refinings, scribal interpolations, beliefs that likely arose out of a particular community the writers belonged to etc.....

"Tell me, muse, of the storyteller who has been thrust to the edge of the world, both an infant and an ancient, and through him reveal everyman." ---Homer the aged poet.

"In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it."
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16-10-2015, 11:36 AM
RE: Richard Carrier On the Historicity of Jesus
(16-10-2015 08:41 AM)RocketSurgeon76 Wrote:  I have also come to the conclusion that there probably was an historical Jesus, a Galilean rabbi who had a Messianic following, and that he might have been actually crucified as a threat to Roman hegemony.

But that latter part is a loose conjecture, since most of it is based on the writings of James and Paul and "Mark", and the explanation that they were just a cult who made up some fantastic claims for their cult-leader and spent 20 years "refining" those claims before writing anything down, seems more plausible to me than the claim that "we may use the New Testament writings as an historical information-source".

The only extra-Biblical claims we have of this come 60-80 years later, in the writings of Tacitus and Josephus, and neither of those provide actual information on the subject, both appearing to simply reference the claims of the early Christians about the basis of their cult. Despite the claims of the Historicists, regarding the "accuracy" of the work of Tacitus as an historian, Tacitus makes no claim that he is reporting actual historical information when he mentions the crucifixion; rather, it appears from a reading of the passage that he is making reference to the claims of the Christians on trial for their lives, about their basis for belief, while Tacitus explains the fact of their executions. We must infer from the belief-claim of those soon-to-die early Believers that their beliefs are rooted in an actual event, rather than acceptance of the magical claims of whoever sold them into the religion.

It'd be a bit like claiming that Joseph Smith was executed in 1844 by the US Government, despite total absence of US Gov't records saying that he was, simply because we have the writings of someone interviewing Mormons converted in Utah in 1904 before they were executed by the US Government. Those persons would have every reason to claim to be following in the footsteps of their cult leader unto death.

I find it far more likely, that if Christianity was based on a real figure, the one small piece that may have been true, was the "ruckus" in the temple. Jews came in droves to Jerusalem for the 'festivals". In fact the entire economy of the city was "temple" based, (and had been for a few centuries). The "stuff" (regalia of Yahweh) was (supposedly) in the temple. It can't be over-estimated how important this festival/sacrifice/animal killing/ritual system was to the city and it's leaders, and how important it would be not to have any disruption of it and all the money it brought in. If Jesus had actually gone into the temple and caused a ruckus with the ritual money-changers, (Roman coin could not be used to pay for the sacrificial animals), that alone would have been reason to get rid of him ASAP. I can't see how a wandering preacher could have been a threat to Rome.

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16-10-2015, 11:39 AM
RE: Richard Carrier On the Historicity of Jesus
(16-10-2015 09:51 AM)Tomasia Wrote:  
(16-10-2015 08:41 AM)RocketSurgeon76 Wrote:  It'd be a bit like claiming that Joseph Smith was executed in 1844 by the US Government, despite total absence of US Gov't records saying that he was, simply because we have the writings of someone interviewing Mormons converted in Utah in 1904 before they were executed by the US Government. Those persons would have every reason to claim to be following in the footsteps of their cult leader unto death.

Except of course in the case of Joseph Smith we'd expect to find Gov't records of it.

The Romans kept pretty good records of official proceedings in provinces. We could expect letters, references to the event, etc., unless Jesus was much, much more minor than the claims of his later devotees. This is also true for other claims made by the Gospels, such as the darkness and the tearing of the shroud, not to mention the zombie apocalypse (I know that the standard apologetics for the zombies is to say that they only appeared to the faithful, though that's in no way a limit placed on the event by the story).


(16-10-2015 09:51 AM)Tomasia Wrote:  Nothing in Tacitus writing here mentioned Jesus being crucified by Pilate indicate that he was merely reiterating a belief passed along by Christians. In fact he evens mention the spread of the superstitious belief in the resurrection that arose in Judea spreading to Rome as well.

He specifically mentions the trials of the people to be executed for their pernicious beliefs. No one questions that the "superstitious belief in the resurrection arose in Judea and spread to Rome", or that Tacitus is accurate when he reports that element. But factual basis for where the religion originated does not establish that Pilate actually conducted such a trial, only that his sources tell him that this occurred. In summary, at no point does Tacitus give any indication that his information comes from official sources, which would be strange given his usual habit of citing his official/confirmed sources when he has them. Here is his actual account:

Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judaea, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their centre and become popular. Accordingly, an arrest was first made of all who pleaded guilty; then, upon their information, an immense multitude was convicted, not so much of the crime of firing the city, as of hatred against mankind. Mockery of every sort was added to their deaths.

Emphasis in bold my own. Clearly, here, he is indicating that the Romans were operating off the information given by Christians who were tortured into giving up the names of their fellow Christians, before all were executed. This is the obvious source of information for this passage.

There are other issues with the Tacitus account that only make sense in light of him receiving this information as testimony from Christian witnesses, such as the reference to Pilate by the wrong title, something that would not have happened if Tacitus was working from Roman documents written at the time of the trial. Attempts to cover for this error by modern Christian apologists ignore the fact that the change in what sort of titled Roman was permitted to rule the Judean territory was issued in an official edict in the year 46 CE. Both Tacitus and the Christians (in the Gospels) refer to Pilate, incorrectly, as a Procurator, whereas the Roman documents would not have made this error. So while some have argued that there was not an effective difference between the titles, around the year 33 CE, it makes no sense because then the official edict of 46 CE spelling out the difference would not be necessary.

Other issues imply "extra" may have been added or edited by Christians later, though I admit freely that this is a minority position among theologians/historians, such as the fact that the date given for the execution of these Rome-burning Christians (though even Tacitus seems to think/imply it was just a cover story by Nero, in giving this account of the events) would have put them at the same time Paul was still alive in Rome, in the mid-60s CE. Furthermore, most of the early church fathers, even ones who made reference directly to Tacitus in other parts of their writing, make no mention of this particular passage. Our earliest copy of Tacitus comes from the 11th century, preserved only by Christian monks, and there are no references to the Pilate/Christ connection in Christian writings prior to that time. It is not proof, but it is highly curious.

(16-10-2015 09:51 AM)Tomasia Wrote:  And secondly being crucified by the Romans was not a particularly flattering thing, for any messiah claimant, it's a humiliating and unexpected defeat. The splendor and virtue associated with the symbol of the cross is something we acquired. Though many Jews may have been awaiting for the Messiah to arrive, none of them were expecting him to be crucified. Just like the followers of Sabbatai Zevi, didn't expect him to convert to Islam, and just like this embarrassing turn of events, his followers did their best to reinterpret this event back into Messianic expectations.

If Jesus did die some other way, we'd expect to find other versions of his death, we wouldn't expect to find agreement in all the sources, all the various christians sects, orthodox, and heterodox agreeing on how he died.

Why would we expect to find other versions of his death? If the craftsmen of the story, the disappointed followers of Jesus the Davidic Messiah, had watched him being ignominiously chopped down by a passing Centurion (a single example out of many possibilities, which I just pulled out of my butt), it would not be hard for them to declare that, no, he's NOT a false Messiah we've been idiotically chasing around Galilee for the past three years... he's, uh, coming back... and uh, he was killed by that bastard Pilate... uh, because he was the Messiah after all! "He's not really dead, despite receiving the ultimate punishment for being a Jew who defied Roman authority! Yeah, that's it. Yeah!"

And the rest, as they say, is history.

(16-10-2015 09:51 AM)Tomasia Wrote:  
Quote: "refining" those claims before writing anything down, seems more plausible to me than the claim that "we may use the New Testament writings as an historical information-source".

No we can use the sources exactly as that, in fact we can even show likely refinings, scribal interpolations, beliefs that likely arose out of a particular community the writers belonged to etc.....

That doesn't get around the problem of the gap between the events and the first writing. It would not even take one decade, let alone two or more, for the orally-transmitted story to morph significantly from its original telling, or crafting, as the case may be. Indeed, we see exactly what I am describing in the "morphing" from Mark to John, in the space of only (giving earliest possible dates for simplicity's sake) 50 years, and a 50 years in which the story was already amalgamated into a generalized whole, and being widely disseminated in "final form", yet John became part of the chosen Orthodoxy anyway, and the various heretical gospels sprang up as well, because of all the changes that went on in all the retellings of the original.

The fact that these diverse versions of the story were later "cleaned up" by a group of Orthodox bishops, who fished through the myriad options and found the version they liked best to preserve and call the Canon, while burning the other versions (and often, the followers thereof) in order to make the Orthodoxy "stick", does not suggest any truth in the comparative analysis of the Canon. Indeed, we cannot know what the original texts really read, since we know for a fact that the proponents of Orthodoxy burned anything that didn't agree with their version, and wiped a great deal off the map. Had we not found the Nag Hammadi texts, we'd know nothing of the Gospel of Thomas, etc.

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17-10-2015, 09:50 AM
RE: Richard Carrier On the Historicity of Jesus
One theory is that this all relates to a much later story.

If you are looking for an alternate version and someone who has taken on Richard Carrier, you can read Jo Atwill. The problem with all this is that there simply isn't any evidence of this Jesus person being around in the time frame which the NT suggests. That then leads to two possibilities. 1) it is complete fiction and 2) it is based on something else.

This, for reasons which I absolutely cannot fathom, results in some kind of near epileptic fit for almost anyone reading it. They have to conclude it must be fiction because option 2) is called "historical revisionism" which is worse than Communism in the McCarthy era.

Ergo, by default, it has to be a myth, or else you are, here, an effing this and that...
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18-10-2015, 11:42 AM
RE: Richard Carrier On the Historicity of Jesus
(16-10-2015 11:39 AM)RocketSurgeon76 Wrote:  
Quote:The Romans kept pretty good records of official proceedings in provinces. We could expect letters, references to the event, etc., unless Jesus was much, much more minor than the claims of his later devotees.

That’s a myth.

We wouldn’t expect to find any of that. We don’t have that for Pilate, who was arguably the most important political figure at the time. In fact the only Roman writing we have that even mentions Pilate, is Tacitus, in the passage that mentions Jesus. Beside this we only have the writings of two Jewish writers, Philo, and Josephus, and the Gospel writers. Yet, we have more information about Pilate then we do of any of other Governors of Judea during that period, but we do not have refrences to Pilate in official proceedings in the provinces, Romans letters, or accounts of the events he was a part of in any Roman writings, besides Tacitus.

“If an important Roman aristocratic ruler of a major province is not mentioned any more than that in the Greek and Roman writings, what are the chances that a lower-class Jewish teacher (which Jesus must have been, as everyone who thinks he lived agrees) would be mentioned in them? Almost none.” -Ehrman

[quote]This is also true for other claims made by the Gospels, such as the darkness and the tearing of the shroud, not to mention the zombie apocalypse (I know that the standard apologetics for the zombies is to say that they only appeared to the faithful, though that's in no way a limit placed on the event by the story).

We’re not talking about the zombie apocalypse, the tearing of the shroud, or any of the fantastical claims, but just the crucifixion.

Quote:But factual basis for where the religion originated does not establish that Pilate actually conducted such a trial, only that his sources tell him that this occurred. I/quote]

Tacitus said nothing about a trial conducted by Pilate, the only trial he mentions is that of Christians, under Nero.

[quote]Emphasis in bold my own. Clearly, here, he is indicating that the Romans were operating off the information given by Christians who were tortured into giving up the names of their fellow Christians, before all were executed. This is the obvious source of information for this passage.

That would be like claiming that Tacitus only heard of Pilate, through these Christians on trial, even when referring to Pilate as one of “our own”.

The way the passage is written, it doesn’t indicate that he derived the information regarding Jesus, being crucified by Pilate, solely from the confessions of those Christians on trial. It’s written as he is stating a fact, that Jesus was crucified under Pilate. What sources he derived that information is not that clear, but his wording indicates the he trusted the reliability of that information, even if the misappropriation of the title, was derived from Christian misappropriation. Even if he derived the much of the information of Jesus crucifixion under Pilate from Christian sources, it should be acknowledge that his writing indicates that he acknowledge this account as a historical event, no doubts of it’s validity, skepticism of it accuracy are present in his telling of the events.


Quote:Why would we expect to find other versions of his death? If the craftsmen of the story, the disappointed followers of Jesus the Davidic Messiah, had watched him being ignominiously chopped down by a passing Centurion (a single example out of many possibilities, which I just pulled out of my butt), it would not be hard for them to declare that, no, he's NOT a false Messiah we've been idiotically chasing around Galilee for the past three years... he's, uh, coming back... and uh, he was killed by that bastard Pilate... uh, because he was the Messiah after all! "He's not really dead, despite receiving the ultimate punishment for being a Jew who defied Roman authority! Yeah, that's it. Yeah!"

And the rest, as they say, is history.


I’m not sure how this arguments above makes any sense. All of the scattered accounts of Jesus agreed on how he died. If he died some other way, we’d we likely would have accounts of him dying different ways, perhaps even all sorts of legendary deaths besides crucifixion, etc…

The uniformity here, even among critics of Christianity at the time, no trace of doubts or skepticism about the means his death, leaves the likelihood of Jesus dying any other way, close to null. What’s the likelihood that Jesus was killed by some passing centurion, as opposed to being Crucified? Very unlikely, in fact almost almost inconceivably unlikely. There’s no evidence that he died any other way, and a variety of different sources, quite early sources too, agree that he died by crucifixion.

You’re sort of just scraping at the bottom of the barrel for reasons to doubt the Crucifixion, I’m not too sure why, but that’s pretty much all it’s going to amount too. Why the Romans would have crucified the leader of some Messianic cult, shouldn’t be all that surprising.

Nor is the crucifixion some glorious way of dying, it’s a humiliating form of death. There’s no dignity in it, no heroes or martyrs made by it. Even the writers like Paul, have to recognize it as one big stumbling block, and Gospels writers have to note the sort of apparent failure and hopelessness provoked by it. It’s not a flattering way die. In fact it was a method chosen by the Romans because of the sort futility and hopelessness it provoked in those who witnessed it.

What’s interesting is that the Christian campaign to transform into a heroic death, has been so effective, even in regards to atheists today, who imagine it to be too powerful of a death, that it’s better to imagine he was killed some other way. Without recognizing the heroic attributes we assign it, the cross as a sort of universal symbol of martyrdom, of dying for a heroic cause, is one derived by the efforts of Christians to imagine it as such.

Quote:That doesn't get around the problem of the gap between the events and the first writing. It would not even take one decade, let alone two or more, for the orally-transmitted story to morph significantly from its original telling, or crafting, as the case may be. Indeed, we see exactly what I am describing in the "morphing" from Mark to John, in the space of only (giving earliest possible dates for simplicity's sake) 50 years, and a 50 years in which the story was already amalgamated into a generalized whole, and being widely disseminated in "final form", yet John became part of the chosen Orthodoxy anyway, and the various heretical gospels sprang up as well, because of all the changes that went on in all the retellings of the original.

There’s nothing wrong with John’s account. It’s an entirely spiritualized take on Jesus, a poetic portrayal all the way down, but it’s undoubtedly the same person.

Quote:The fact that these diverse versions of the story were later "cleaned up" by a group of Orthodox bishops, who fished through the myriad options and found the version they liked best to preserve and call the Canon, while burning the other versions (and often, the followers thereof) in order to make the Orthodoxy "stick", does not suggest any truth in the comparative analysis of the Canon.

While that makes for a good story, it’s not a very accurate one. The text that compose the Gospels, were the one’s already commonly held by a variety of predominant Christian communities, long before they were codified as a whole. They are in fact the earliest written Gospels as well, besides perhaps the Gospel of Thomas

Cleaning up and adding things to the text, tends to leave traces, like stylistic differences, abrupt changes in tone etc.. I couldn’t just go into a work of Shakespeare, and add my own dialogues, because it wouldn’t by hard to tell that I’m not particularly apt to writing as Shakespeare. Or if I acquired your screen name, it wouldn’t be long before someone recognized that I wasn’t you, just by style of writing.

If you believe that some portion of the Gospel some verse, or saying was added to it after the codifying of the cannon, a case could be made for it. But you blanketed suggestion here, without any particularly reference, or verse you felt was manufactured by this, lacks any real substance.

"Tell me, muse, of the storyteller who has been thrust to the edge of the world, both an infant and an ancient, and through him reveal everyman." ---Homer the aged poet.

"In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it."
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18-10-2015, 12:26 PM (This post was last modified: 18-10-2015 12:37 PM by Deltabravo.)
RE: Richard Carrier On the Historicity of Jesus
I have to say I find this pretty friggin freaky and I see no other explanation for it than that it is a real person who was wrapped up in this:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i2Ggxvgcx88

Whoever it was?

But even the graphics people have to bend to political correctness. The image they get is of an old guy who looks like some 60 year old English retired Major who hasn't had a haircut in years or shaved. But they have to turn him into a guy who looks 30 years younger with a hooked nose. Whoever was in the shroud was an old guy.
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18-10-2015, 12:35 PM (This post was last modified: 18-10-2015 06:24 PM by Bucky Ball.)
RE: Richard Carrier On the Historicity of Jesus
It was probably a middle-aged to elderly Italian, (just like it looks) ... NOT a young Near Eastern male ... experimenting with "camera obscura"
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Camera_obscura
which they were known to be doing in the Renaissance. It's not "freaky" at all. There were quite a number of "mandillions" and fake religious objects / relics floating about to draw the gullible "faithful" to pilgrimage sites.

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18-10-2015, 12:46 PM
RE: Richard Carrier On the Historicity of Jesus
(18-10-2015 11:42 AM)Tomasia Wrote:  The way the passage is written, it doesn’t indicate that he derived the information regarding Jesus, being crucified by Pilate, solely from the confessions of those Christians on trial. It’s written as he is stating a fact, that Jesus was crucified under Pilate. What sources he derived that information is not that clear, but his wording indicates the he trusted the reliability of that information, even if the misappropriation of the title, was derived from Christian misappropriation.
Tacitus never mentioned the name Jesus or Yeshua.
He was talking about a fire.

It was a by the by statement (embellishment) to make the passage seem somewhat interesting. Whether it was true or not wasn't very important. I doubt Tacitus researched it, he probably just heard it mentioned by the nutty Christians and so included it to make his writting less boring.

That's assuming that this was his writting. Many times with regards to ancient documents have Christians been found out to tamper with them. Inserting this and that to try and give the illusion that their religion is supported in ancient writings.
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18-10-2015, 01:00 PM
RE: Richard Carrier On the Historicity of Jesus
(18-10-2015 12:46 PM)Stevil Wrote:  That's assuming that this was his writting. Many times with regards to ancient documents have Christians been found out to tamper with them. Inserting this and that to try and give the illusion that their religion is supported in ancient writings.

There's no real evidence that Tacitus writing was tampered with by Christians, or that Christians conspired and added that portion to Tacitus. None of what Tacitus wrote was flattering of Christians, or Christian belief.

Nor is their any evidence of a vast Christian conspiracy or coverup Jesus's actual death and manufacture the crucifixion either, a conspiracy that took over 2000s years for some atheists on the internet to figure out.

"Tell me, muse, of the storyteller who has been thrust to the edge of the world, both an infant and an ancient, and through him reveal everyman." ---Homer the aged poet.

"In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it."
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18-10-2015, 02:24 PM
RE: Richard Carrier On the Historicity of Jesus
(18-10-2015 01:00 PM)Tomasia Wrote:  
(18-10-2015 12:46 PM)Stevil Wrote:  That's assuming that this was his writting. Many times with regards to ancient documents have Christians been found out to tamper with them. Inserting this and that to try and give the illusion that their religion is supported in ancient writings.

There's no real evidence that Tacitus writing was tampered with by Christians, or that Christians conspired and added that portion to Tacitus.
Agreed. But there is evidence that Christians have altered many ancient texts.

(18-10-2015 01:00 PM)Tomasia Wrote:  None of what Tacitus wrote was flattering of Christians, or Christian belief.
Fair enough too.


(18-10-2015 01:00 PM)Tomasia Wrote:  Nor is their any evidence of a vast Christian conspiracy or coverup Jesus's actual death
There is no evidence of Jesus death or life either.
Actually what people call Jesus, was actually Yeshua instead. And even then Yeshua might not have existed.

Certainly there was no half man/half god entity. Certainly no person capable of performing miracle magic acts and no person capable of being dead for three days and then coming back to life and then magically disappearing again.

So when the question is asked, was Jesus real? it needs to be defined to a more more limited scope.
Was there a man, who was the leader of a Jewish apocalyptic cult, who was put to death under Pilot?

The answer to that narrow question is that there is very little evidence in support of it. No official records, no eye witness accounts.

Tacitus' account is a historian's account of a fire and the Christus mention was in passing, just an embellishment. We have no idea to what degree of verification or research Tacitus went in support of this statement. There is no reason to believe that Tacitus verified this part of the story. We do not know his sources.
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