Historical Jesus

Abrahamic religion, you know, the one with the cross...

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Re: Did Jesus exist?

#61  Postby starr » Feb 27, 2010 12:59 pm

MOD NOTE
I've merged the posts discussing the historicity of Jesus from Jerome's resource thread to this thread. I plan on keeping the resource thread as a resource and not cluttering it with discussion. If anyone would like to make a relevant contribution to the resource thread please PM me, stijndeloose and/or Jerome.

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/MOD NOTE
stijndeloose wrote: A wise decision that anyone can make: if you feel tempted to attack a RatSkep member, take a break.

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Re: Did Jesus exist?

#62  Postby Agrippina » Feb 27, 2010 1:01 pm

For me, not having been raised as a Christian, and having only learned about Christianity as a teenager when my mother became friendly with some SDAs and then a boyfriend who belonged to a Calvinist church, the whole thing just sounded like a mythology story. My studies in Ancient History haven't changed my belief that the story was a made up one of the dozens of preachers who were in the region at the time and that their stories were combined to make up one and about one person. I know that a lot of historians who are atheists don't agree with either this or the theory that he simply didn't exist, and I'm fine with that. I'm not going to argue. For me to just sounds too far-fetched, too convenient, and too mythological to be the story of a real person who really existed.
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Re: Did Jesus exist?

#63  Postby TimONeill » Feb 27, 2010 1:11 pm

alienpresence wrote:I never thought of Jesus as a real entity. A name written in a book.


One of those books mentioned, in passing, meeting his brother. A non-Christian source mentioned, in passing, this same brother. How can a guy who is just "a name written in a book" have a brother who is attested in two sources, one of them non-Christian? Help me out here.

Just about the time when Roman/Ancient Greek civilization goes into decline this 'nowhere sect' takes off.


Actually, it takes off at just about the time Roman civilisation is at its absolute height. So your point was ... ?


The stories are filled with soundbites supporting a declining Roman Empire.


Sorry? The Empire was "declining" in the later First Century? It was "declining" when it was at its height? What the fuck are you talking about?

Give unto Ceaser what is Ceasers....pay your taxes and be friendly with the tax collectors because you know Jesus was


A statement which made perfect sense in a gospel written after the Jewish Revolt of 66-70 AD, when Christianity wanted to distance itself from its Jewish roots. And your point would be ... ?

Yeah. He was real. He was about as real as Bugs Bunny. :lol:


Nice non sequitur. Come back when you have some grasp of the relevant history.
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Re: Did Jesus exist?

#64  Postby TimONeill » Feb 27, 2010 1:20 pm

Agrippina wrote:For me, not having been raised as a Christian, and having only learned about Christianity as a teenager when my mother became friendly with some SDAs and then a boyfriend who belonged to a Calvinist church, the whole thing just sounded like a mythology story. My studies in Ancient History haven't changed my belief that the story was a made up one of the dozens of preachers who were in the region at the time and that their stories were combined to make up one and about one person.


As an atheist who has no emotional attachment to the idea that Jesus was a single person who lived in the 30s AD (as all the evidence seems to indicate), I regularly ask people who claim he was based on some combination of many people to show me some evidence this was the case. Given we are all rationalists here, I don't regard this as an unreasonable request. I've yet to get an answer.

Can you answer or is this more vague, hopeful, pathetic bullshit?

I know that a lot of historians who are atheists don't agree with either this or the theory that he simply didn't exist, and I'm fine with that. I'm not going to argue. For me to just sounds too far-fetched, too convenient, and too mythological to be the story of a real person who really existed.


Great. So - evidence? Produce something other than fundamentalist-style statements of cosy faith please. This is a "rational skepticism" forum. Your statements of faith don't cut it. Try harder or, to be brutally frank, butt the fuck out.
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Re: Did Jesus exist?

#65  Postby alienpresence » Feb 27, 2010 1:23 pm

It was in decline at the time the books surfaced as 'public moral legislation' in the late 300s.

Like the naughty wiki says.

"By the turn of the 5th century, the Catholic Church in the west, under Pope Innocent I, recognized a biblical canon including the four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, which had been previously established at a number of regional Synods, namely the Council of Rome (382), the Synod of Hippo (393), and two Synods of Carthage (397 and 419).[10] This canon, which corresponds to the modern Catholic canon, was used in the Vulgate, an early 5th century translation of the Bible made by Jerome[11] under the commission of Pope Damasus I in 382."

I'm not disputing that bits of toiletpaper floated around earlier but using them as a means of social control happened as things fell apart. And the idea that things didn't get put in, then - come on! :lol:
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Re: Did Jesus exist?

#66  Postby TimONeill » Feb 27, 2010 1:31 pm

alienpresence wrote:It was in decline at the time the books surfaced as 'public moral legislation' in the late 300s.


Sorry - what?

Like the naughty wiki says.

"By the turn of the 5th century,


Which is 100 years after "the late 300s", but anyway ...


the Catholic Church in the west, under Pope Innocent I, recognized a biblical canon including the four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, which had been previously established at a number of regional Synods, namely the Council of Rome (382), the Synod of Hippo (393), and two Synods of Carthage (397 and 419).[10] This canon, which corresponds to the modern Catholic canon, was used in the Vulgate, an early 5th century translation of the Bible made by Jerome[11] under the commission of Pope Damasus I in 382.


And this would have what to do with anything you said earlier or with any of my objections?

I'm not disputing that bits of toiletpaper floated around earlier but using them as a means of social control happened as things fell apart. And the idea that things didn't get put in, then - come on! :lol:


Pardon? What the fuck?

Here - try this - quote something I actually said and then try to focus your thoughts long enough to respond to them in a cogent and vaguely intelligent manner. Give that a try and see if it stops all the sniggering.
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Re: Did Jesus exist?

#67  Postby Agrippina » Feb 27, 2010 1:32 pm

TimONeill wrote:
Agrippina wrote:For me, not having been raised as a Christian, and having only learned about Christianity as a teenager when my mother became friendly with some SDAs and then a boyfriend who belonged to a Calvinist church, the whole thing just sounded like a mythology story. My studies in Ancient History haven't changed my belief that the story was a made up one of the dozens of preachers who were in the region at the time and that their stories were combined to make up one and about one person.


As an atheist who has no emotional attachment to the idea that Jesus was a single person who lived in the 30s AD (as all the evidence seems to indicate), I regularly ask people who claim he was based on some combination of many people to show me some evidence this was the case. Given we are all rationalists here, I don't regard this as an unreasonable request. I've yet to get an answer.

Can you answer or is this more vague, hopeful, pathetic bullshit?

No the pathetic bullshit is a almost cult-like belief that Josephus was telling the truth. There was no proper 'scientific method' in research at that time. Anyone could write any amount of crap and call it history and because people believed in mythology, anything that vaguely confirmed their particular brand of mythology was simply acceptable. Give me some evidence that Josephus and Paul and all the mindless bishops of the Empire weren't all repeating 'broken telephone' type stories.

I don't care what your involvement is either emotional or otherwise, your emotional defence of the historicity of Jesus makes you appear to be a believer, but hey, you have your beliefs, and I have mine. From a totally objective point of view, it looks and sounds like mythology to me. If i were interested in researching it and writing a biography of Jesus, I would want more than the boken telephone accounts as my 'evidence.' I'm not and therefore i have no interest in doing anything other than expressing a personal opinion.

I know that a lot of historians who are atheists don't agree with either this or the theory that he simply didn't exist, and I'm fine with that. I'm not going to argue. For me to just sounds too far-fetched, too convenient, and too mythological to be the story of a real person who really existed.


Great. So - evidence? Produce something other than fundamentalist-style statements of cosy faith please. This is a "rational skepticism" forum. Your statements of faith don't cut it. Try harder or, to be brutally frank, butt the fuck out.[/quote]

This is not faith, it is merely observation of the evidence presented. I don't believe that a real person existed, any more than I don't believe the exodus or the flood or the creation happened, to me, from my own personal point of view, it's all the same kind of mythology.

You believe whatever your particular cult tells you to believe and I'll follow what my rational logic tells me.
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Re: RESOURCE: Historical Sources for Jesus

#68  Postby Apollonius » Feb 27, 2010 1:34 pm

TimONeill wrote:
Crocodile Gandhi wrote: Sure, this man did a great amount to shape the way that billions of people live their lives ...


Quite by accident. If the historical Yeshua ben Yosef (aka "Jesus") came back to see the weird bloated cult/s that arose in his name he'd probably die again of total horror and revulsion. He was a devout and ferociously monotheistic Jew, yet he would find himself turned into an incarnation of Yahweh. The guy would hardly be able to comprehend the insanity of what his ideas have been transformed into.

Nikos Kazantzakis touched on this in his novel The Last Temptation of Christ and Frank Herbert played with similar themes in his Dune novels, but I've always found the contrast between what the Jewish preacher Yeshua ben Yosef was trying to proclaim (as silly as it was) and the baroque monstrosities Christianity has evolved into to be one of history's most bizarre ironies.

I've toyed with the idea of a short story about a time traveller who rescues Yeshua from the cross and brings him to an intensive care unit in the present to nurse him back to health. When Yeshua recovers and comprehends what Christianity is, he becomes a vociferous preacher against Christianity and ends up being killed by fundamentalist Christians for blasphemy. I might have to write that one.


Totally agree, and your closing cracked me up! I have often thought about much the same thing.

It would make a great movie. My own version is that "god" (not Jesus) appears in modern times, and apologizes for being busy for a couple thousands years, but he wants to set the record straight. He tells people Jesus was just a man and gospel writers were full of shit, and the bible is nonsense. All the fucking christians do is argue with him, and take it from there...
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Re: Did Jesus exist?

#69  Postby Agrippina » Feb 27, 2010 1:39 pm

I often ask believers WWJD if he could see the horrors that have been perpetrated in his name, of course the usual reply is that that was the Catholic church and they are anti-Christs or something and not true followers of Jesus.
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Re: Did Jesus exist?

#70  Postby alienpresence » Feb 27, 2010 1:46 pm

Jesus is a fictional character. The clue is in the name. A real smoothy that one isn't it? In those days people didn't get out much and scribes needed to make stuff up. Once the name reached some popularity a limited amount of singing to the choirbook, pardon the pun, meant some parts of the bible got themselves consistant (believers and unbelievers). No real Jesus required. :naughty:
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Re: Did Jesus exist?

#71  Postby TimONeill » Feb 27, 2010 1:50 pm

Agrippina wrote:
TimONeill wrote:
Agrippina wrote:For me, not having been raised as a Christian, and having only learned about Christianity as a teenager when my mother became friendly with some SDAs and then a boyfriend who belonged to a Calvinist church, the whole thing just sounded like a mythology story. My studies in Ancient History haven't changed my belief that the story was a made up one of the dozens of preachers who were in the region at the time and that their stories were combined to make up one and about one person.


As an atheist who has no emotional attachment to the idea that Jesus was a single person who lived in the 30s AD (as all the evidence seems to indicate), I regularly ask people who claim he was based on some combination of many people to show me some evidence this was the case. Given we are all rationalists here, I don't regard this as an unreasonable request. I've yet to get an answer.

Can you answer or is this more vague, hopeful, pathetic bullshit?

No the pathetic bullshit is a almost cult-like belief that Josephus was telling the truth.


Okay. So your evidence that he was lying (for some unknown reason) would be ... ? Please present it here and now.


There was no proper 'scientific method' in research at that time.


Okay. And we could point that out for any statement or claim made by Josephus, or Tacitus, or Polybius, or Suetonius or any ancient historian you care to mention. So do we (a) throw them all out and decide we can't know anything about the ancient world at all or (b) accept what they say unless we have good evidence that indicates we shouldn't?

Every professional historian on the planet goes with (b). Are you going to go with (a) or are you going to make some sense?


Anyone could write any amount of crap and call it history and because people believed in mythology, anything that vaguely confirmed their particular brand of mythology was simply acceptable. Give me some evidence that Josephus and Paul and all the mindless bishops of the Empire weren't all repeating 'broken telephone' type stories.


Ditto for Tacitus, Suetonius, Polybius or any other ancient source. So what you are seriously trying to say to a forum of intelligent rationalists is that we should reject all ancient sources in particular and all historical sources in general and totally abandon any idea of having any understanding of the past? Is that the rational statement you're making to rational people? Really?

You believe whatever your particular cult tells you to believe and I'll follow what my rational logic tells me.


My "cult"? What the fucking fuck? What part of "I'm a fucking atheist" have you failed to grasp, pal? I have no "cult". I do have a whacko devotion to things called "objectivity" and "reason". Perhaps you could acquaint yourself with them.

Do so before you bother me with a reply. Clear?
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Re: Did Jesus exist?

#72  Postby Agrippina » Feb 27, 2010 1:50 pm

alienpresence wrote:Jesus is a fictional character. The clue is in the name. A real smoothy that one isn't it? In those days people didn't get out much and scribes needed to make stuff up. Once the name reached some popularity a limited amount of singing to the choirbook, pardon the pun, meant some parts got themselves consistant (believers and unbelievers). No real Jesus required. :naughty:


All the phony archeology that's coming out of israel usually carries the name somewhere, it seems like it's still a popular name. Whether he existed or didn't isn't really important except to people who either believe he did or those who base a religion on the idea that he didn't. It's a stupid story to base a religion on anyway, but it made lots of money for the people who sold the story, and still does for the ones who still do, so in that respect he isn't really required, you only have to believe he did exist to be a follower.


alienpresence wrote:I never thought of Jesus as a real entity. A name written in a book. Just about the time when Roman/Ancient Greek civilization goes into decline this 'nowhere sect' takes off. The stories are filled with soundbites supporting a declining Roman Empire. Give unto Ceaser what is Ceasers....pay your taxes and be friendly with the tax collectors because you know Jesus was. Yeah. He was real. He was about as real as Bugs Bunny. :lol:


The Empire had actually only just taken off actually. You're thinking of the republic.
That whole thing of giving to Caesar business, it smacks to me of someone who was trying to convert an Emperor writing those words. But then I don't know what I'm talking about because I've never been a Christian.
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Re: Did Jesus exist?

#73  Postby TimONeill » Feb 27, 2010 1:59 pm

alienpresence wrote:Jesus is a fictional character.


Evidence please.

The clue is in the name.


What, a ridiculously common name for an average First Century Jewish guy? Wow - some "clue", I feel like I'm reading a fucking Dan Brown novel.


A real smoothy that one isn't it?


Pardon? If they wanted to make up a Messiah's name, surely "Emmanuel" would have worked best (see Matthew 1:23 and Isaiah 7:14). So why something as common and totally irrelevant as "Jesus"? Please explain?
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Re: Did Jesus exist?

#74  Postby Agrippina » Feb 27, 2010 1:59 pm

TimONeill wrote:

Okay. So your evidence that he was lying (for some unknown reason) would be ... ? Please present it here and now.


Calm down, relax, I didn't say I had evidence, I said it was what I think, Jeez take a chill pill, I'm not your student.


Okay. And we could point that out for any statement or claim made by Josephus, or Tacitus, or Polybius, or Suetonius or any ancient historian you care to mention. So do we (a) throw them all out and decide we can't know anything about the ancient world at all or (b) accept what they say unless we have good evidence that indicates we shouldn't?

Every professional historian on the planet goes with (b). Are you going to go with (a) or are you going to make some sense?


Who knows how much of anything any of them said that can't be verified independently was true. Maybe you should build a time machine and go take a look, seeing you have so much emotional investment in the truth of the story.


Ditto for Tacitus, Suetonius, Polybius or any other ancient source. So what you are seriously trying to say to a forum of intelligent rationalists is that we should reject all ancient sources in particular and all historical sources in general and totally abandon any idea of having any understanding of the past? Is that the rational statement you're making to rational people? Really?


Rational people don't lose their cool over the thoughts of other people. Rational people just laugh it off and say "you think whatever you want to, it's not science, but then you're not claiming it is" and then they move on, maybe some rational thinking about thinking might be in order here. Christ it's Saturday afternoon FFS I'm not sitting in a lecture hall listening to your pontifications about your friend.


My "cult"? What the fucking fuck? What part of "I'm a fucking atheist" have you failed to grasp, pal? I have no "cult". I do have a whacko devotion to things called "objectivity" and "reason". Perhaps you could acquaint yourself with them.

Do so before you bother me with a reply. Clear?


Oops, I provoked multiple uses of the 'f' word, oh dear, what would Dawkins think?
Maybe some objective devotion to casual chat might be in order here. Calm down before you burst a blood vessel.
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Re: RESOURCE: Historical Sources for Jesus

#75  Postby Apollonius » Feb 27, 2010 2:00 pm

TimONeill wrote:..

Well our moderator Jerome (*chuckle*) will disagree but Ehrman's take on Jesus is, in my opinion, the one that makes the most sense. Too may conceptions of Jesus are driven by the beliefs of the theorist. Polemical atheist anti-Christians like Carrier and Doherty think he didn't exist at all? Gosh, what a surprise. Moderate Christians like Crossan and Borg believe in a mellow hippy "sage" Jesus? Gosh, what a surprise. Fundamentalists like Craig and McDowell believe in a Jesus who is exactly like the one in the Bible? Gosh, what a surprise.

We should start to pay attention when the Jesus a theorist comes up with doesn't somehow play into that person's expectations and does fit with history. A Jesus who was an apocalyptic Jewish prophet who predicted the immanent end of the world and was clearly wrong doesn't fit anyones' prejudices. Yet it fits the evidence perfectly.

This seems to be who and what he was.

I'd encourage anyone who wants to take a rational and unbiased atheistic look at who "Jesus" (ie Yeshua ben Yosef) was to begin with Ehrman's Jesus: Apocalyptic Prophet of the New Millennium, then Paula Frederiksen's From Jesus to Christ: The Origins of the New Testament Images of Christ and then Geza Vermes' Jesus the Jew. All are top class academic studies by leading scholars and all happen to be by non-Christians. Read those books and you'll get a superb understanding of who Yeshua was and why both fundie Christians and the moronic "Jesus never existed" clowns can be given equal measures of scorn.


Very much agree. If anyone has a better explanation than Erhman's "apocalyptic Jewish prophet who predicted the immanent end of the world and was clearly wrong," it better be fucking good.

I have 2 of his books, and these 2 lecture courses:
History of the Bible: The Making of the New Testament Canon
http://www.teach12.com/ttcx/coursedescl ... x?cid=6299
Historical Jesus
http://www.teach12.com/ttcx/coursedescl ... px?cid=643

I think these courses are as good as one can get.. They have sales all the time so watch for them.
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Re: Did Jesus exist?

#76  Postby TimONeill » Feb 27, 2010 2:26 pm

Agrippina wrote:
TimONeill wrote:

Okay. So your evidence that he was lying (for some unknown reason) would be ... ? Please present it here and now.


Calm down, relax, I didn't say I had evidence, I said it was what I think, Jeez take a chill pill, I'm not your student.


I wasn't under any impression you were my "student" and I am entirely relaxed, thanks. I also have no need to take any pills and if I did so I wouldn't be doing so while replying to you or anyone else here. I think I would be elsewhere doing other things.

This is a discussion forum. If you make statements, you have to expect they are going to be discussed. What's more, this is a rationalists' discussion forum. So not only will these things be discussed, but you will be expected to provide rational evidence and argument to back them up. So please don't bore us with this "relax" bullshit when you're asked to back your assertions up with evidence. Save that pathetic hippy bollocks for some forum inhabited by idiots, not this one. Clear?


Who knows how much of anything any of them said that can't be verified independently was true. Maybe you should build a time machine and go take a look, seeing you have so much emotional investment in the truth of the story.


What a load of evasive hippy bullshit. We can't know for sure whether any source is true without a time machine so we can believe what ever the fuck we want? Are you really stating that in a rationalist forum and are expecting not to be laughed off this board? Really?

Think. Then post again. So far you are failing so badly it's comical.
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Re: Did Jesus exist?

#77  Postby alienpresence » Feb 27, 2010 2:42 pm

All written 'religio-historic sources' from such a distant depth in time must be considered suspect. Truth had a different meaning back then (some would argue it still does). Where are the bones, the accounts of social upheaval, the billboards with 'The End is Nigh'? Let's say he was real - his impact must have been on a par with Napolean in order to get himself on the front pages of the Neolthic Times (not being literal). There must be more evidence, significantly more evidence, of the social chaos his rise and fall produced. How could it be otherwise? except for him being a fictional character. Yes, I believe in evidence on a rational board but why should I feel obliged to provide evidence for Jesus non-existance? Those who claim his existance on the other hand must provide something more than the tittle-tattle of a bygone era. They must bring substantial, multi-layered and irrufutable proof that this guy existed, they must bring the ugly bones.
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Re: Did Jesus exist?

#78  Postby Agrippina » Feb 27, 2010 2:46 pm

Did you happen to notice the second word in the forum title "skepticism." So I'm sceptical of what people say, and I make up my own mind about what I want to believe, and bullying tactics about 'evidence' are not going to work with me, I love the hippy reference BTW. Very funny. :cheers: :lol:
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Re: Did Jesus exist?

#79  Postby Apollonius » Feb 27, 2010 2:47 pm

Agrippina wrote:..
This is not faith, it is merely observation of the evidence presented. I don't believe that a real person existed, any more than I don't believe the exodus or the flood or the creation happened, to me, from my own personal point of view, it's all the same kind of mythology.

You believe whatever your particular cult tells you to believe and I'll follow what my rational logic tells me.


Rational logic would lead to to conclude that Jesus the person was real. Rational historians have put a lot of scholarly work into this question and this is the best result they have.

I posted a short version a few pages back. Jesus as myth doesn't make rational sense.

If you are going to make up a story, you don't create problems for yourself.

People were expecting a messiah that delivered them from whatever, and this messiah would have great power and he would lead them to a new kingdom. The problem is that the Romans killed Jesus (who wasn't claiming to be the messiah anyway-he just said one was coming, just like others were saying). This resulted in a lot of nutty claims, and it's where we get the "he died for your sins" nonsense. No one had predicted this. It was a real problem for early believers and it caused them to split from Judaism.

The early believers, starting with Paul, whose letters are documented, actually turned the religion OF Jesus (and others) into a religion ABOUT Jesus. They made up the parts about him being divine, about dying for sins, and eventually they thought he was always listening to them and answering prayers, whatever.

Historians can only come up with the best explanation they can, understanding that we do not and can not have access to enough documentation. The best and most rational explanation for the strange story of Jesus is that he was a real person that was saying certain things, he was killed, and his followers made up a lot of crazy shit, and you know the rest.
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Re: Did Jesus exist?

#80  Postby TimONeill » Feb 27, 2010 2:49 pm

alienpresence wrote:All written 'religio-historic sources' from such a distant depth in time must be considered suspect.

Anyone with anything more than a high school morons's grasp of the historical method knows that any source has to be considered "suspect" and handled appropriately. This is basic stuff. Can we please stop cluttering this thread up with this infantile crap.
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