Posted: May 05, 2012 9:00 am
by archibald
willhud9 wrote:
But if we held the same level of scrutiny to other figures of antiquity we would find we can wipe out history books. Many of histories lesser figures, the people historians did not care about are mentioned in passages long obscure. Does this mean these people did not exist? Jesus was during the 1st century a back water preacher.....

....There is historical evidence that a Jesus existed. But to dismiss that evidence without proper historical scrutiny is superfluous. As I said, you can, inevitable do that to entire history books.

This argument (that it is obtuse or inconsistent to question Jesus' historicity) is certainly interesting, and IMO, you put it better than anyone here. One could easily take what you say and give Jesus the benefit of the doubt, and indeed I think that could not be described as unreasonable. The only question I care about is whether there is enough lattitude to allow doubt about his historicity to also be reasonable, and personally I think the answer is that there is.

IMO, Judas the Maccabbean is somewhere between Boudicca and Jesus. Like Boudicca, there is evidence of a group (in this case the Hasmonean dynasty) and to a lesser extent of a particular revolt. Believing that there was a leader is no big stretch, and Judas is as good a name for a leader as any other, and since he didn't do anything which a leader might not have done, it seems fairly ok to take a working assumption that he can be mentioned in a history book.

The problem with religious cults is that it seems they followed people who were both alive and not alive, and others who were probably never alive, so a religious cult is not like an army.

One of the problems for Jesus is that he has a very high percentage of supernatural/mythical/fictional components, to the extent that it is arguably as reasonable to compare him to a non-existing figure as an existing one (and of course any mythical human will have human components). IOW, as Stephen Law argued, the probability of his historicity is arguably tainted by the sheer ammount of non-historicity. We cannot say this about Judas the Maccabbean, or Boudicca. Nor is it the case that the earliest mention of Boudicca or judas describes either as a god/goddess, and this, it seems to me, is a very significant difference.

One might ask when does a figure 'cross the line' into 'too much made up stuff'? For example, if Jesus had been described as hardly ever having walked anywhere, mostly hovering or floating just above the ground, that would seem to cross the line.

I think Stephen Law had some very decent analogies in this regard. ... 20evidence

Incidentally, the Maccabbeans are potentially interesting for another reason. As I understand it, the same King Herod as features in the gospels is reported (by Roman historian Cassius Dio) to have crucified their actual 'king of the Jews' in 37BC. Even if there is nothing much in that as regards a potential template for a later story, it is at least a coincidence.