Historical Jesus

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

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Re: Historical Jesus

#42881  Postby Leucius Charinus » Aug 07, 2019 12:52 pm

Arius wrote five sophisms about Jesus which were appended to the earliest Nicene Creeds (as the anathema clause):

Arius claimed that "There was time when Jesus was not"
He claimed that "Before Jesus was born Jesus was not"
He claimed that "Jesus was made out of nothing existing"
He claimed that "Jesus is/was from another subsistence/substance"
He claimed that "Jesus is subject to alteration or change"

It would appear to me that Arius is claiming that Jesus was fictional.
"It is, I think, expedient to set forth to all mankind the reasons by which I was convinced that
the fabrication of the Christians is a fiction of men composed by wickedness. "

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Re: Historical Jesus

#42882  Postby dejuror » Aug 13, 2019 10:47 pm

Leucius Charinus wrote:Arius wrote five sophisms about Jesus which were appended to the earliest Nicene Creeds (as the anathema clause):

Arius claimed that "There was time when Jesus was not"
He claimed that "Before Jesus was born Jesus was not"
He claimed that "Jesus was made out of nothing existing"
He claimed that "Jesus is/was from another subsistence/substance"
He claimed that "Jesus is subject to alteration or change"

It would appear to me that Arius is claiming that Jesus was fictional.


Arius was not claiming Jesus was fictional . He taught that Jesus did not exist until he was begotten of God which contradicts the teaching that Jesus was from the beginning and God Creator
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Re: Historical Jesus

#42883  Postby Leucius Charinus » Aug 21, 2019 7:09 am

What do we really know of Arius of Alexandria - the Chief and Number One Heretic on the Church's heresiological charts? He was described as the "harbinger of the antichrist". What does this mean? His books were burnt. Search and destroy missions - of private library collections, and anywhere - were organised by Constantine and the army. If you were caught preserving any of the books or Arius it was immediate death by beheading.

The setting is 325 CE. The NT Bible Codex had been sent by Constantine to Alexandria.
How does Arius respond?

It seems to me not credible - despite church dogma to the contrary - that these measures were required to correct a simple theological squabble.
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the fabrication of the Christians is a fiction of men composed by wickedness. "

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The "Words" of Jesus as Documented in the Bible

#42884  Postby DKeane » Sep 06, 2019 4:47 pm

I got into a discussion with Dave Armstrong (look him up) about if you could depend on anything that Jesus is purported to have said in the Bible (orally passed down, illiteracy, and scribe mistakes/changes, etc). Seems to me that if the Gospels were deemed to meet the general standard of evidence, then it wouldn't just be apologists and theologians claiming such (folks with a vested interest). We would have historians from multiple cultures and religions using it as a reference. Any thoughts about this?

The reason I ask, DA basically referenced a bunch of websites from William Lane Craig and Co. I asked for a secular or third-party reference that stated the Gospels accurately referenced Jesus - at which point he banned me from commenting, claiming I'm a bigot against theologians (?).
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Re: The "Words" of Jesus as Documented in the Bible

#42885  Postby felltoearth » Sep 06, 2019 5:03 pm

*sigh*

I recommend this be moved to the Historical Jesus thread.

Best of luck with that.
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Re: The "Words" of Jesus as Documented in the Bible

#42886  Postby DKeane » Sep 06, 2019 6:22 pm

It appears I've missed something and will check out that thread - thanks.

EDIT: Wait - just went to that thread and I don't want to go.... :grin:
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Re: The "Words" of Jesus as Documented in the Bible

#42887  Postby Thomas Eshuis » Sep 06, 2019 7:14 pm

DKeane wrote:I got into a discussion with Dave Armstrong (look him up) about if you could depend on anything that Jesus is purported to have said in the Bible (orally passed down, illiteracy, and scribe mistakes/changes, etc). Seems to me that if the Gospels were deemed to meet the general standard of evidence, then it wouldn't just be apologists and theologians claiming such (folks with a vested interest). We would have historians from multiple cultures and religions using it as a reference. Any thoughts about this?

The reason I ask, DA basically referenced a bunch of websites from William Lane Craig and Co. I asked for a secular or third-party reference that stated the Gospels accurately referenced Jesus - at which point he banned me from commenting, claiming I'm a bigot against theologians (?).


WLC is a documented liar for Jesus and a self-admitted genocide apologist, so you were perfectly justified in dismissing him as a source.
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Re: The "Words" of Jesus as Documented in the Bible

#42888  Postby Spearthrower » Sep 06, 2019 7:17 pm

DKeane wrote:It appears I've missed something and will check out that thread - thanks.

EDIT: Wait - just went to that thread and I don't want to go.... :grin:



A wise man indeed. :cheers:
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Re: The "Words" of Jesus as Documented in the Bible

#42889  Postby Stein » Sep 06, 2019 7:25 pm

* sigh *

Hi, DKeane --

Welcome to this insane discussion............

Look, in the Historical Jesus thread, you'll mainly find submissions on either side of the contention by Jesus mythicists or mytherists that any and all contemporary data related to Jesus of Galilee is automatically tainted. Elsewhere in the real world, such a contention is usually met with activist fundamentalists or fundies proclaiming every single jot and tittle of the contemporary data infallible. Yawn. Few fundies frequent our Historical Jesus thread nowadays. Still, often lost in all this -- both in the "theater" of our Historical Jesus thread and also in the larger "theater" of the web world -- is the perspective of the modern up-to-date secular academic peer-vetted scholarly consensus. That perspective is loathed and derided and routinely and unscrupulously distorted by fundies and mythers alike. THIS IS WHY I T-R-U-S-T IT. :thumbup: (And if there was a middle-finger emoticon available, I'd use that!)

You ask "if you could depend on anything that Jesus is purported to have said". The secular scholars, so loathed by many a fundie, have shown that there is a virtual palimpsest of sayings from many different strata throughout the accumulation of contemporary data related to Jesus of Galilee -- or to JOG, for short. Even in addition to this palimpsest found in the heterogeneous texts of the Biblical New Testament, there are also ancient chroniclers "from multiple cultures and religions" (your words) that contemporaneously reference JOG in passing. So we're not just dealing with a record made up of apologists only.

That said, there is still a lot of unreliable junk in the contemporary data that plainly comes from later strata and that fundies hold on to pathetically, as if such strata reflect real history just as much as the earliest stuff. They don't. Scholarship's job has been to show how and where they don't and to distinguish the earliest stuff that is more historical from the later junk (this is the main reason why the fundies detest modern scholarship so much). The ancient chroniclers from outside cultures and religions can be a help in this effort.

Although the enclosed precis below (from two years back) is ill-mannered and was written in a temper (and I'm not proud of that), it is a fair summation of the accumulated secular scholarship to date. You may find it useful. Yes, it was written in a temper, because that what's the Historical Jesus thread can do to many. Let's hope it doesn't do the same thing to you! The original of this can be found at

http://www.rationalskepticism.org/post2 ... n#p2466498

========================================

[enclosure]

To claim Jesus the strictly human rabbi more likely did not exist remains a longer stretch than to claim he more likely did exist -- given the more plausible scenario that emerges from the slim data we have.

I wonder if anyone here who's trying to be "objective", but still feverishly maintaining this normal rabbi never existed, will ever answer the simple question "What does the available data indicate is the MORE LIKELY scenario?" And NO, I'm not asking for an answer with some sort of proof -- nothing like that is possible for about 50% of ancient history -- Get real! -- I'm asking for an honest reply as to which scenario seems the MORE LIKELY given the slim data we have.

Philological, stylistic, linguistic and stylometric******* analysis has yielded a high degree of likelihood (certainty is not found in the modern analysis of ancient history, since such up-to-date historiography deals responsibly in degrees of likelihood instead) that the earliest textual layer is comprised of the very few Jesus quotes in 1 Corinthians, the narrative references in 1 Corinthians and the other six authentic Paulines*, a lot but not all of the narrative material in the shorter Vaticanus/Sinaiticus version of GMark******** and the parallel sayings in GMatthew/GLuke (sometimes called "Q" for "Quelle" = source) -- plus maybe the Gospel of Thomas (although serious scholars are split on that). This earliest textual layer not only shows distinct earmarks of oral transmission, but is the layer on which the consensus of modern professional scholarship bases its historical Jesus model. Amplifying these earliest layers are key non-apologetic pieces of data in Josephus's Antiquities XX (not Antiqs. XVIII) and Tacitus's Annals.

The seven authentic Paulines do indeed make several references to Jesus as a real person, including direct references to areas where dishonest mythers claim complete silence: parentage**, life events***, ministry****, apostles***** and betrayal******.

Mythers also conflate the miracle man of the later textual layers in the New Testament with the strictly human rabbi found in its earliest textual layers -- and also in non-apologetics like Tacitus and in Josephus's "Antiquities", Chapter XX. Mythers evidently need an elementary primer on where the most up-to-date textual scholarship stands today among the professional peer-vetted academic researchers. That's not hard to find out. Go to any academic library, or go to the web sites of any secular institutions of higher learning.

What emerges from these earliest textual layers is a perfectly mundane biography. Jesus was a Jewish kid from Nazareth, whose family's livelihood was largely dependent on his father's wood-working business. Jesus learned the family craft but left home relatively young and joined John the Baptist's group, where he was baptized and adopted an outlook that was initially largely apocalyptic. But when John was executed, Jesus changed the focus of the group somewhat, becoming an itinerant rabbi himself and teaching by sayings and parables. His teaching folded in certain notions like the last shall be first and giving up one's life for others as part of the message. He was also a folk healer who was perhaps a bit luckier than most, possibly because he was a bit better read than most, although still an autodidact, more likely.

The followers he accrued were probably attracted to him because his notions of no one deserving ostracism of any kind seemed pretty genuine. He was not impeccable in this respect; it took a while for him to accept those outside what passed for Israel at the time. But there seem to be glimmerings of a more pluralist approach as we move toward his execution. In fact, in many respects, the gulf between the outlook of society around him versus his own increasingly egalitarian one grew so wide by the time he was arrested that it is arguable that that gulf may be among the very largest for any cultural/social reformer throughout human history. Purely in terms of such a gulf with one's contemporaries, only the experiences of Gotama and Socrates seem comparable. Hence the strong retrospective notoriety that has developed for all three.

Jesus does seem to have been a party man, unlike John the Baptist. I have a feeling he would probably have been very accessible and affable, but his immediate disciples always worried (not without cause) about his spreading himself too thin. They were probably very protective of him, and even though one might have found him easy to talk to at a party, one or two of his handlers would probably have whisked him away after a few minutes. He frequently over-extended himself, and sometimes a whole day would go by with him totally alone to compensate.

He internalized strongly a distinct strain of antipathy in Hebrew culture and various founding texts in Judaica toward much in the credit/debt world. On the one hand, we have certain notions in those founding texts such as the Jubilee and forgiveness of debt, etc., while on the other, Jesus seems to have internalized these themes in the founding texts in his confronting this whole moneyed class at the Temple.

After the confrontation, he realized that his days were now numbered, and he arranged a commemorative meal with his disciples -- perhaps choosing a meal as a way to remember him by because he himself had been so active in feeding and healing the poor?

The brouhaha that resulted from the ruckus in the Temple got the implacable Pilate's attention, not because he had any concern about the functioning of the Temple as such but because any disturbance at all didn't fit the rigid decorum he ruthlessly maintained throughout the region. While the makers and shakers in upper-class Jewish society did not lift a finger to prevent Jesus's execution (many were simply terrified of Pilate and his record number of crucifixions), the execution was still conceived, initiated, pursued, carried out (right outside Jerusalem) and concluded entirely by the Roman occupation under Tiberius.

Jesus was not the strongest guy physically, and a few hours on the cross was all it took to kill him. His body disappeared, as did most of those who were crucified.

End of story.

Intrusive magic accounts of stuff like the virgin birth, or most of the miracles*********, or the physical post-resurrection appearances, etc., all show later stylistic earmarks and don't appear to come at all from the same early textual layers used for the professional historical model outlined above. However -- typically -- it is the later layers that Jesus mythers, in their ignorance of the latest textual analysis, always latch on to show that "Jesus never existed". Well, duh. The magic man who turns water into wine, or is born of a virgin(!), etc., etc., probably never existed, yeah. And that has diddly-squat to do with the itinerant rabbi who was a vulnerable human being and got nailed up by the Romans and has ended up being studied in greater depth by serious secular researchers today. Such a social outcast would naturally show up in relatively few non-apologetic accounts. That's no surprise. And if he started a following, it's completely typical of such a figure that we might find more material on him from his followers than from non-apologetic writers. Still, there remain those few non-apologetic references to this guy cited above, sometimes distinctly unsympathetic, and they in fact confirm the powerless human rabbi duly found in the earliest textual layering deduced by modern textual analysis. So that's why Jesus is so obscure. Again, duh.

The miracle claims made for Jesus in the later textual layers are extravagant, yes, and their probable a-historicity are indeed confirmed by the paucity of any such claims in the non-apologetic materials. But there's nothing extravagant or out of the ordinary in a mundane human troublemaker who was nailed up by a militaristic occupation. Nor are such mundane details missing in the non-apologetics. Different strands of modern historical inquiry all converge on the likelihood of such a mundane figure. It's not just one line of research that does this. They also put any kind of miracle worker in considerable doubt.

What does all that data suggest is the MORE LIKELY less implausible scenario? Don't fixate on this document or that document. Assess the documentary field as a whole. That's what the professionals do. And they have painstakingly developed an historical model despite a lot of strenuous unhelpful pushback from fundies: Jesus was strictly human, a clearly historical figure -- and without a whiff of magic about him. Duh.

Thoughts?

Stein

======================

* First Thessalonians (ca. 51 AD)
Philippians (ca. 52–54 AD)
Philemon (ca. 52–54 AD)
First Corinthians (ca. 53–54 AD)
Galatians (ca. 55 AD)
Second Corinthians (ca. 55–56 AD)
Romans (ca. 55–58 AD)

** Galatians 4:4
born of a woman, born under law
Romans 1:3
who as to his human nature was a descendant of David
Galatians 1:19
I saw none of the other apostles—only James, the Lord's brother.
1 Corinthians 9:5
Don't we have the right to take a believing wife along with us, as do the other apostles and the Lord's brothers and Cephas?

*** Phillipians 2:7
but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.
8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death — even death on a cross!
1 Corinthians 2:8
None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.
1 Thessalonians 2:15
who killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets and also drove us out.
1 Corinthians 15:3
that he was buried

**** 1 Corinthians 7:10
To the married I give this command (not I, but the Lord): A wife must not separate from her husband.
1 Corinthians 9:14
In the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel.

***** Galatians 1:18
Then after three years, I went up to Jerusalem to get acquainted with Peter and stayed with him fifteen days.
1 Corinthians 9:5
Don't we have the right to take a believing wife along with us, as do the other apostles and the Lord's brothers and Cephas?

****** 1 Corinthians 11:23
The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread,
24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, "This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me."
25
In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, "This cup is the
new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in
remembrance of me."

******* the sort of analysis that outed Joe Klein as the author of a politics book some years back

******** The Gospel of Mark is in several versions: the most reliable are the Sinaiticus and Vaticanus mss.

********* Most of the miracles are in the later layers, but a handful are in the earlier ones, and those earlier ones are exclusively healings, suggesting that Jesus the human rabbi was actually a pretty good healer whose prowess simply got exaggerated
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Re: The "Words" of Jesus as Documented in the Bible

#42890  Postby Macdoc » Sep 06, 2019 7:35 pm

I guess if this keeps you off the street there is some benefit to the rest of humanity. :roll:
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Re: The "Words" of Jesus as Documented in the Bible

#42891  Postby Stein » Sep 06, 2019 7:48 pm

Macdoc wrote:I guess if this keeps you off the street there is some benefit to the rest of humanity. :roll:

Excuse me, I was addressing DKeane. S/HE ASKED A Q-U-E-S-T-I-O-N. It's between her/him and me. :thumbup:

Thank you,

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Re: The "Words" of Jesus as Documented in the Bible

#42892  Postby DKeane » Sep 06, 2019 8:49 pm

Thank you for the responses. I just want to clarify something. I wasn't arguing in any way about the existence of JOG, it honestly doesn't factor in to the reason I'm an atheist. My particular point was that:

A) None authors of the Bible had ever met Jesus and therefore had to rely essentially on rumor (Jesus and his followers were likel illiterate?). I have a hard time understanding how anything Jesus may have said was recorded with any fidelity. Especially when we consider how fundies tend to parse "every" "single" "word" to try and find the true meaning.

B) "the gap" of a few decades between the death of Jesus and the estimated date of first writing or Q (I guess) must have also resulted in a significant loss of information. Even in today's age where everything is available verbatim online - we still get folks that are more likely to believe and spread the rumor. I can't imagine is was any better in 10 AD, and suspect it was orders of magnitude worse.

So when we hear believers discussing Jesus said this about X, they actually really have no idea what Jesus said. If the Bible was an accurate accounting of what came out of Jesus's mouth - you think there would be more people than just apologists and theologians that would agree (i.e., those folks without a vested interest in showing that the Bible portrays Jesus accurately). Let me know if there is flaw someplace in my reasoning.
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Re: The "Words" of Jesus as Documented in the Bible

#42893  Postby laklak » Sep 06, 2019 9:41 pm

He existed or he didn't, other people accurately quoted him or they didn't. Why does it matter? Jesus the Myth and Jesus the Man in a Death Cage Tag Team match against Jesus the Rabbi and Jesus the Incarnate Saaaaaaan a' Gaaaaad! Getcha Coooooooolllllld Beer! Getcha Haaaaaaat Daaaags!

In one way or another, for good or ill, what he said or didn't and how people in power have spun what he may have said (if he existed) certainly informs our current Western umwelt, worse luck. In our privileged First World hubris we ignore the 3/4 of the planet who couldn't give a rat's about any of it. They're more concerned with multi-headed elephant Gods or telling the future from charred monkey bones than whether some inbred rednecks are correctly quoting a dead Jew. We ground apes are nothing if not ecumenical in our superstitions. But it's not all nonsense, we probably should be nicer to smelly beggars and try not to fuck our neighbor's wives, but a very large shitload of it is just that, shit. Nobody cares about most of what is attributed to him, unless it helps fill the collection plate. Just ask Creflo Dollar, he'll tell you.

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Re: The "Words" of Jesus as Documented in the Bible

#42894  Postby romansh » Sep 06, 2019 10:36 pm

Can I suggest The Jesus Sayings by Rex Weyler … he suggested that just 27 phrases could reasonably be ascribed to this bloke called Jesus. And they are, in poetic/artistic order:

    Seek the truth
    There is a light within; look and you will find it.
    Know yourself
    When you find he light within, share it with the world.

    A divine kingdom is within you and all around you.
    Speak out, teach others about this kingdom.
    This kingdom is like a small seed that grows.
    It is like leaven in bread, a tiny force that affects everything.
    Observe the world before you, here and now.

    Commit fully now.
    Act on your knowledge.
    Your understanding is revealed in the fruits of your actions.

    Be generous and merciful.
    Share what you have with others.
    Help the poor, hungry, and grieving, and those who have no home.
    Don't worry about your own comforts.
    Your poverty and sadness bring you closer to the divine kingdom.

    Remain humble, don’t exalt yourself.
    Don’t judge others, but improve yourself
    Be as a child, open, curious, authentic, and modest.
    Love your enemies and those that rebuke you.

    Otherwise, avoid rules and follow the truth you discover yourself.
    Act from awareness, not habit or convention.
    Don’t blindly repeat rituals.
    Don’t trust those with spiritual pretensions.
    Question those who presume to speak for God.

    If you have two good ears, listen to what I am telling you.
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Re: The "Words" of Jesus as Documented in the Bible

#42895  Postby tuco » Sep 06, 2019 10:43 pm

And if I have one ear?
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Re: The "Words" of Jesus as Documented in the Bible

#42896  Postby romansh » Sep 06, 2019 10:44 pm

Don't bother with stereo equipment.
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Re: The "Words" of Jesus as Documented in the Bible

#42897  Postby MS2 » Sep 06, 2019 10:55 pm

DKeane wrote:Thank you for the responses. I just want to clarify something. I wasn't arguing in any way about the existence of JOG, it honestly doesn't factor in to the reason I'm an atheist. My particular point was that:

A) None authors of the Bible had ever met Jesus and therefore had to rely essentially on rumor (Jesus and his followers were likel illiterate?). I have a hard time understanding how anything Jesus may have said was recorded with any fidelity. Especially when we consider how fundies tend to parse "every" "single" "word" to try and find the true meaning.

B) "the gap" of a few decades between the death of Jesus and the estimated date of first writing or Q (I guess) must have also resulted in a significant loss of information. Even in today's age where everything is available verbatim online - we still get folks that are more likely to believe and spread the rumor. I can't imagine is was any better in 10 AD, and suspect it was orders of magnitude worse.

So when we hear believers discussing Jesus said this about X, they actually really have no idea what Jesus said. If the Bible was an accurate accounting of what came out of Jesus's mouth - you think there would be more people than just apologists and theologians that would agree (i.e., those folks without a vested interest in showing that the Bible portrays Jesus accurately). Let me know if there is flaw someplace in my reasoning.
No, no particular flaw in my opinion. Because of the processes you mention there is no guarantee that the recorded sayings represent what Jesus said.

Some historians think some of the sayings are more likely to go back to him than some of the other sayings. But that is only to say they are 'more likely' not that there is any guarantee. For example, some of the sayings in Mark appear to originate in the Aramaic language, despite the writer of Mark being a Greek speaker. So these sayings at least were spoken in the right language (assuming Jesus was an Aramaic speaker, that is). That by no means guarantees they were spoken by him, but it makes them more likely candidates than, say, the Christian proof-text type ones in John where it appears John puts words into Jesus's mouth designed to show Jesus to be God.

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Re: Historical Jesus

#42898  Postby DKeane » Sep 07, 2019 9:59 am

No, no particular flaw in my opinion. Because of the processes you mention there is no guarantee that the recorded sayings represent what Jesus said.

Some historians think some of the sayings are more likely to go back to him than some of the other sayings. But that is only to say they are 'more likely' not that there is any guarantee. For example, some of the sayings in Mark appear to originate in the Aramaic language, despite the writer of Mark being a Greek speaker. So these sayings at least were spoken in the right language (assuming Jesus was an Aramaic speaker, that is). That by no means guarantees they were spoken by him, but it makes them more likely candidates than, say, the Christian proof-text type ones in John where it appears John puts words into Jesus's mouth designed to show Jesus to be God.


Thank you sir. That was the type of information I was looking for.
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Re: The "Words" of Jesus as Documented in the Bible

#42899  Postby RealityRules » Sep 07, 2019 11:31 pm

DKeane wrote:... Seems to me that if the Gospels were deemed to meet the general standard of evidence, then it wouldn't just be apologists and theologians claiming such (folks with a vested interest). We would have historians from multiple cultures and religions using it as a reference. Any thoughts about this?
DKeane wrote:... So, when we hear believers discussing Jesus said this about X, they actually really have no idea what Jesus said. If the Bible was an accurate accounting of what came out of Jesus's mouth, you think there would be more people than just apologists and theologians that would agree (i.e., those folks without a vested interest in showing that the Bible portrays Jesus accurately) ...

Those are good points.

A common refrain has been along the lines of 'no historian professor disputes the 'historicity' of Jesus or of the Gospels', which is an example of the fallacy of argument from ignorance where 'ignorance' stands for "lack of evidence to the contrary" - it infers something is true because it has not yet been proved false (or that something is false if it has not yet been proved true), aka, a negative proof fallacy (eta: reflected in the somewhat manipulative saying “absence of evidence is not evidence of absence”).
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Re: Historical Jesus

#42900  Postby DKeane » Sep 09, 2019 1:14 pm

A common refrain has been along the lines of 'no historian professor disputes the 'historicity' of Jesus or of the Gospels',


I will have to watch out for that one. Should note that no historian disputes the gospels of The Flying Spaghetti Monster either - so the acts of Jesus and FSM must be equally probable!
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