Posted: Feb 04, 2023 6:36 am
by Stein
RealityRules wrote:
Stein wrote:
Fortunately, today we have modern methods guided by academic standards and modern scholarship, so we don't have to wait for revelation and an unlikely afterlife to address any questions. Modern specialists weighing the data rigorously and establishing relative likelihoods professionally...can proceed in arriving at a balanced conclusion reflecting the preponderance of data rather than crank preferences that make amateurs and fakes feel good.

    So, what is the 'preponderance of data'? and the resulting 'balanced conclusion'?

At a time when all codes of ethical decency for the globe seem to be collapsing, one chief interest, of many, in the historical Jesus today lies in his having modeled a level of empathy and ethics exceptional in any age, not in the more startling accretions possibly added later on to what he did. Here is a fully historical human being whom the typically brutal Roman authorities executed -- yes, brutally. The most likely conclusion is that there was a real such rabbi from Galilee called Jesus, who was human and preached social inclusiveness and riled up the Roman authorities. As such, the Romans initially viewed him as primarily a political phenomenon. In fact, today, the figure of Jesus, whether or not he himself viewed himself in that light, now has as much to do with the history of politics as the history of faith.

The human historical Jesus is the Jesus that professional secular non-apologetic academic researchers of today, who do in-depth historiography for a living, subscribe to, and it's the model that anyone who's reasonably well educated perceives as the more plausible. It is not the Jesus that all Christians necessarily subscribe to, even as the multitude of Christians in fact fold in countless different perspectives.

In marking this special week, we are indebted to the careful historical research that has generated a usable profile of the rabbi Jesus's chief reflections and his biography. To begin with, there have been philological analyses from various researchers, looking at distinctive Aramaic markers, as well as signs of oral transmission, in three of the four Gospels: those three Gospels are termed the Synoptics: Mark, Matthew and Luke. Aramaic markers by definition are not in Aramaic but are trace elements in the original Koine Greek in which the Synoptics are written, verses in which word order, syntax, etc., show structural similarities to Aramaic despite the text being in Koine Greek. The other earliest extant text preserving some sayings of the rabbi Jesus is First Corinthians, one of Paul's authentic letters.

In addition, the historical profile also incorporates roughly half a dozen disparate secular non-apologetic non-hagiographic pagan chronicles, letters, etc., that are not only absent from scripture but occasionally show a contemporary's disinterest for the whole Christian enterprise. Of these, there are three especially prominent citations, two in Josephus's Antiquities and one in Tacitus's Annals. In the Antiquities, the first citation is not as relevant as the second, the first being a somewhat muddled hagiographic paragraph in Chapter 18 of questionable authenticity. But the second is in Chapter 20, and no serious professional scholar has any problems with it, since it is not hagiographic at all, is extremely offhand, and addresses a contemporary scandal that happened right while Josephus himself was an eye-witness in the same city where this scandal happened. So as a contemporary reference, and a contemporary reference to a member of the Jesus family -- his brother James -- it is hard to imagine a primary reference more immediate to the events surrounding the ministry of the rabbi Jesus from the region of Galilee.

The Jesus that emerges in all this data that modern scholars have singled out is a young man who adopts many of the beliefs of his time, for good or ill but, above all, supplements those beliefs with certain pioneering social notions of his own.

Once we confine ourselves scrupulously to the data outlined above, there is an integrity to those ideas that strongly suggest they all come from one man. There is a professional academic consensus reflected in assessing this restricted documentation in this way.

The data adds up to one example of how one gifted figure responds when confronted with the phenomenon of human suffering: to wit, elevate forgiveness, healing, service, etc. That may or may not be some automatic cure-all. It may not even have been an ideal recipe for Jesus's own time. It is merely one humane response among many, across thousands of years, that should awaken our considered interest. But millions now view this figure as having modeled an extraordinarily generous glimpse into a higher power that calls us to a level of empathy for all that is rarely if ever found in multiple human cultures.

Intelligent people can disagree on whether or not one takes the rabbi Jesus to be a Son of God, or the Son of God. But that such a human being at least existed is clear, in view of the fact that we at least have, at a minimum, this one eye-witness account of Jesus's brother James found in Chapter 20 of Josephus's Antiquities, a contemporary pagan account, totally non-apologetic and non-hagiographic.


Here is a rundown of some of the strongest non-apologetic pagan/Roman sources used by professional academic historians as components in constructing a _secular_ profile for the historical Jesus, a normal human rabbi from the Galillee area with nothing magic about either his life or his death. There are enough of these sources to make it ridiculous to suppose that each and every one of them is coincidentally suspect in some way. To suppose such a thing for one source is one thing. But to force a series of suspect coincidences for as many as six?! That kind of coincidence mongering, which involves one hypothetical laid on another on another on another, totally flouts a cardinal principle of modern scholarship, parsimony. Parsimony is the guide that ensures the principle of Occam's Razor: a scientific and philosophical rule that entities should not be multiplied unnecessarily, which is interpreted as requiring that the simplest of competing theories be preferred to the more complex, or that explanations of unknown phenomena be sought first in terms of known quantities.

1 ) Tacitus, Annals - c.115AD
Annals, 15:44. This makes direct reference to the Jesus crucifixion as having been carried out by Roman justice in occupied Palestine.

"Such indeed were the precautions of human wisdom. The next thing was to seek means of propitiating the gods, and recourse was had to the Sibylline books, by the direction of which prayers were offered to Vulcanus, Ceres, and Proserpina. Juno, too, was entreated by the matrons, first, in the Capitol, then on the nearest part of the coast, whence water was procured to sprinkle the fane and image of the goddess. And there were sacred banquets and nightly vigils celebrated by married women. But all human efforts, all the lavish gifts of the emperor, and the propitiations of the gods, did not banish the sinister belief that the conflagration was the result of an order. 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. Covered with the skins of beasts, they were torn by dogs and perished, or were nailed to crosses, or were doomed to the flames and burnt, to serve as a nightly illumination, when daylight had expired. Nero offered his gardens for the spectacle, and was exhibiting a show in the circus, while he mingled with the people in the dress of a charioteer or stood aloft on a car. Hence, even for criminals who deserved extreme and exemplary punishment, there arose a feeling of compassion; for it was not, as it seemed, for the public good, but to glut one man's cruelty, that they were being destroyed."

2 )

This is Josephus's Antiquities XX.9.1. This is a _contemporary's_ eyewitness account of a living member of the Jesus family, explicitly identified as such.

"And now Cesar, upon hearing of the death of Festus, sent Albinus into Judea, as procurator. But the King deprived Joseph of the High Priesthood; and bestowed the succession to that dignity on the son of Ananus, who was also himself called Ananus. Now the report goes, that this eldest Ananus proved a most fortunate man. For he had five sons, who had all performed the office of an High Priest to God; and who had himself injoyed that dignity a long time formerly: which had never happened to any other of our High Priests. But this younger Ananus, who, as we have told you already, took the High Priesthood, was a bold man in his temper, and very insolent. He was also of the sect of the Sadducees: who are very rigid in judging offenders above all the rest of the Jews: as we have already observed. When therefore Ananus was of this disposition, he thought he had now a proper opportunity [to exercise his authority]. Festus was now dead; and Albinus was but upon the road. So he assembled the sanhedrim of judges, and brought before them the brother of Jesus the so-called Christ, the one named James: and some others; [or, some of his companions.] And when he had formed an accusation against them as breakers of the law, he delivered them to be stoned. But as for those who seemed the most equitable of the citizens, and such as were the most uneasy at the breach of the laws, they disliked what was done. They also sent to the King [Agrippa,] desiring him to send to Ananus that he should act so no more: for that what he had already done was not to be justified. Nay some of them went also to meet Albinus, as he was upon his journey from Alexandria; and informed him, that it was not lawful for Ananus to assemble a sanhedrim without his consent. Whereupon Albinus complyed with what they said; and wrote in anger to Ananus; and threatened that he would bring him to punishment for what he had done. On which account King Agrippa took the High Priesthood from him, when he had ruled but three months; and made Jesus, the son of Damneus High Priest."

How many ancient secular non-apologetic cites do mythers rationalize away before it gets pathetic?

How many times must we remind readers that the eyewitness Chapter 20 account of Ananus and James concerns an incident that doesn't entirely match any scripture to begin with? So Josephus never got all that from Christians at all, now did he? Is it just coincidence he was a young man right in Jerusalem when Ananus's overreach happened? I guess that coincidence is perfectly allowable in myther world, because mythers are the credulous ones here and _want_ him to go away. They gun for a verdict/result first, the data second. Pathetic. They also play this sneaky hate monger game of trucking in loaded terms like "belief" over a _normal_ _human_ _being_ which is what professional historians study. This is so _not_ about some purely magic figure. But some online mythers, who know this very, very well, deliberately truck in these terms to deliberately confuse and gaslight, knowing they are totally distorting what the serious scholars are really addressing. Again, Pathetic.

We're not just talking about Jesus. We're talking about the whole notorious Jesus scandal. James, his brother, is part of that scandal.

Mythers conveniently exaggerate how late in the century Josephus's writings appeared. Moreover, the events surrounding Ananus took place when Josephus was already a grown man in his twenties living in Jerusalem, right where and when Ananus's brief tenure unfolded.

The notion is absurd that Josephus's clear put-down, "Jesus the so-called Christ", isn't testimony to a Jesus the Christ having been real. It's perfectly blatant that "Jesus the so-called Christ" is a real mention in Josephus. It's a mention that is absolutely in character for Josephus, who would never take the Christ name at face value, hence his writing "so-called", and it blatantly affirms that Jesus the Christ was a real and a notorious figure in the gossip of the time, as was his brother James. Josephus did indeed write as a contemporary and a likely eyewitness of James and the stormy Ananus episode. The _modern_ _secular_ _professional_ scholars have that exactly correct. Josephus was living in Jerusalem when the Ananus dust-up happened, period.

Mythicists have this notion that it is "supporting Christians" for us to stick with the textual facts in a
text like Josephus and to infer that "Jesus the so-called Christ" blatantly points to an historic figure. What they're really saying is that their high Majesties liketh not to be reminded of any facts respecting Christian history at all. That is Orwellian. They have a discomfort level with plain facts that is fully as neurotic as the most fanatical fundamentalist Christian. We also have to address the self-proclaimed rejection of traditional Christianity by scholars like Bart Ehrman. Some mythicists _are_ making up deliberate lies and distortions and applying them to people like Ehrman, by terming such scholars Christians instead of the skeptics they really are. Mythers are not merely doing the equivalent of hurling "You ignorant slut". They are also making up _calculated_ _deliberate_ _falsifiable_ stories about modern scholars directly contrary to what these scholars have explicitly said of themselves.

That is deliberate disinformation targeting

3 ) Pliny the Younger, writing in Bithynia c.111AD Pliny is concerned about how to handle an outbreak of Christianity in his region. He writes to the Emperor Trajan --

"They asserted, however, that the sum and substance of their fault or error had been that they were accustomed to meet on a fixed day before dawn and sing responsively a hymn to Christ as to a god, and to bind themselves by oath, not to some crime, but not to commit fraud, theft, or adultery, not falsify their trust, nor to refuse to return a trust when called upon to do so. When this was over, it was their custom to depart and to assemble again to partake of food--but ordinary and innocent food. Even this, they affirmed, they had ceased to do after my edict by which, in accordance with your instructions, I had forbidden political associations. Accordingly, I judged it all the more necessary to find out what the truth was by torturing two female slaves who were called deaconesses. But I discovered nothing else but depraved, excessive superstition."

Trajan's response was

"You observed proper procedure, my dear Pliny, in sifting the cases of those who had been denounced to you as Christians. For it is not possible to lay down any general rule to serve as a kind of fixed standard. They are not to be sought out; if they are denounced and proved guilty, they are to be punished, with this reservation, that whoever denies that he is a Christian and really proves it--that is, by worshiping our gods--even though he was under suspicion in the past, shall obtain pardon through repentance. But anonymously posted accusations ought to have no place in any prosecution. For this is both a dangerous kind of precedent and out of keeping with the spirit of our age."

4 ) Let's move on to Suetonius, 115CE
Suetonius wrote in The Life of Claudius (25.4). There it is made clear that the Jesus Christ movement was launched by a known troublemaker of the time, explicitly referenced by his popular nickname in much the way that President Reagan would be referenced as the "Gipper", often without bothering over the significance of that term at all.

"As the Jews were making constant disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus, he expelled them from Rome."

He also notes the presence of Christians -

"Punishment by Nero was inflicted on the Christians, a class of men given to a new and mischievous superstition."

5 ) A common claim is that it is odd that none of the Church Fathers mention the Neronic persecution (but they do) or Tacitus' mention of it. WRONG! Tertullian does know of the Neronic persecution. Eusebius cites the Church Father, Tertullian (155-230), Defence 5

"Study your records: there you will find that Nero was the first to persecute this teaching when, after subjugating the entire East, in Rome especially he treated everyone with savagery. That such a man was author of our chastisement fills us with pride. For anyone who knows him knows him can understand that anything not supremely good would never have been condemned by Nero."

Tertullian here seems to draw on Tacitus, and his account (cited above) of the Neronic persecution. "Study your records" implies that Tertullian was referring to a Roman authority, and Suetonius or Tacitus fit the bill, and Tacitus best.

6 ) Phlegon of Tralles, c130-160??? -- or possibly much earlier, writing circa 80CE. This is the second of at least two _non-Scriptural_ references to the Jesus crucifixion.

"Jerome wrote --
Jesus Christ, according to the prophecies which had been foretold about him beforehand, came to his passion in the eighteenth year of Tiberius, at which time also we find these things written verbatim in other commentaries of the gentiles, that an eclipse of the sun happened, Bithynia was shaken by earthquake, and in the city of Nicaea many buildings collapsed, all of which agree with what occurred in the passion of the savior. Indeed Phlegon, who is an excellent calculator of olympiads, also writes about these things, writing thus in his thirteenth book:

(Phlegon) - "In the fourth year, however, of olympiad 202,* an eclipse of the sun happened, greater and more excellent than any that had happened before it; at the sixth hour, day turned into dark night, so that the stars were seen in the sky, and an earthquake in Bithynia toppled many buildings of the city of Nicaea. These things [are according to] the aforementioned man."

The events referred to are from 32CE, a possible date for the Crucifixion and darkening of the sky.

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. It's multiple lines. 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 fundamentalists: Jesus was human and a clearly historical figure.


Next, the sayings extracted here, courtesy of modern scholarship, are from Luke, but are sequenced here in the order that these topics come up in the Gospel of Mark, generally reckoned the earliest of the three Synoptics (Mark, Matthew, Luke).

15:4 [Jesus said,] What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it?
5 And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing.
15:7 I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.
7:31 And the Lord said, Whereunto then shall I liken the men of this generation? and to what are they like?
32 They are like unto children sitting in the marketplace, and calling one to another, and saying, We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned to you, and ye have not wept.
33 For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine; and ye say, He hath a devil.
34 The Son of man is come eating and drinking; and ye say, Behold a gluttonous man, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners!
35 But wisdom is justified of all her children.
6:12 And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God.
6:17 And he came down with them, and stood in the plain, and the company of his disciples, and a great multitude of people out of all Judaea and Jerusalem, and from the sea coast of Tyre and Sidon, which came to hear him, and to be healed of their diseases.
6:20 And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said, Blessed be ye poor: for yours is the kingdom of God.
21 Blessed are ye that hunger now: for ye shall be filled. Blessed are ye that weep now: for ye shall laugh.
22 Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man's sake.
23 Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold, your reward is great in heaven: for in the like manner did their fathers unto the prophets.
6:27 But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you,
28 Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you.
29 And unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer also the other; and him that taketh away thy cloak forbid not to take thy coat also.
30 Give to every man that asketh of thee; and of him that taketh away thy goods ask them not again.
31 And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.
32 For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them.
33 And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye? for sinners also do even the same.
6:35 But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil.
36 Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.
37 Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven:
38 Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.
39 And he spake a parable unto them, Can the blind lead the blind? shall they not both fall into the ditch?
40 The disciple is not above his master: but every one that is perfect shall be as his master.
41 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but perceivest not the beam that is in thine own eye?
42 Either how canst thou say to thy brother, Brother, let me pull out the mote that is in thine eye, when thou thyself beholdest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam out of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly to pull out the mote that is in thy brother's eye.
43 For a good tree bringeth not forth corrupt fruit; neither doth a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.
44 For every tree is known by his own fruit. For of thorns men do not gather figs, nor of a bramble bush gather they grapes.
45 A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.
46 And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?
47 Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will shew you to whom he is like:
48 He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock.
49 But he that heareth, and doeth not, is like a man that without a foundation built an house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great.
12:10 And whosoever shall speak a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but unto him that blasphemeth against the Holy Ghost it shall not be forgiven.
11:33 No man, when he hath lighted a candle, putteth it in a secret place, neither under a bushel, but on a candlestick, that they which come in may see the light.
34 The light of the body is the eye: therefore when thine eye is single, thy whole body also is full of light; but when thine eye is evil, thy body also is full of darkness.
35 Take heed therefore that the light which is in thee be not darkness.
12:2 For there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; neither hid, that shall not be known.
3 Therefore whatsoever ye have spoken in darkness shall be heard in the light; and that which ye have spoken in the ear in closets shall be proclaimed upon the housetops.

19:12 He said therefore, A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return.
13 And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, Occupy till I come.
19:15 And it came to pass, that when he was returned, having received the kingdom, then he commanded these servants to be called unto him, to whom he had given the money, that he might know how much every man had gained by trading.
16 Then came the first, saying, Lord, thy pound hath gained ten pounds.
17 And he said unto him, Well, thou good servant: because thou hast been faithful in a very little, have thou authority over ten cities.
18 And the second came, saying, Lord, thy pound hath gained five pounds.
19 And he said likewise to him, Be thou also over five cities.
20 And another came, saying, Lord, behold, here is thy pound, which I have kept laid up in a napkin:
21 For I feared thee, because thou art an austere man: thou takest up that thou layedst not down, and reapest that thou didst not sow.
22 And he saith unto him, Out of thine own mouth will I judge thee, thou wicked servant. Thou knewest that I was an austere man, taking up that I laid not down, and reaping that I did not sow:
23 Wherefore then gavest not thou my money into the bank, that at my coming I might have required mine own with usury?
24 And he said unto them that stood by, Take from him the pound, and give it to him that hath ten pounds.
19:26 For I say unto you, That unto every one which hath shall be given; and from him that hath not, even that he hath shall be taken away from him.
13:18 Then said he, Unto what is the kingdom of God like? and whereunto shall I resemble it?
19 It is like a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and cast into his garden; and it grew, and was a tree; and the fowls of the air lodged in the branches of it.
20 And again he said, Whereunto shall I liken the kingdom of God?
21 It is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.
10:2 Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest.
3 Go your ways: behold, I send you forth as lambs among wolves.
4 Carry neither purse, nor scrip, nor shoes: and salute no man by the way.
5 And into whatsoever house ye enter, first say, Peace be to this house.
6 And if the son of peace be there, your peace shall rest upon it: if not, it shall turn to you again.
7 And in the same house remain, eating and drinking such things as they give: for the labourer is worthy of his hire. Go not from house to house.
8 And into whatsoever city ye enter, and they receive you, eat such things as are set before you:
9 And heal the sick that are therein, and say unto them, The kingdom of God is come nigh unto you.
10 But into whatsoever city ye enter, and they receive you not, go your ways out into the streets of the same, and say,
11 Even the very dust of your city, which cleaveth on us, we do wipe off against you: notwithstanding be ye sure of this, that the kingdom of God is come nigh.
12 But I say unto you, that it shall be more tolerable in that day for Sodom, than for that city.
13 Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works had been done in Tyre and Sidon, which have been done in you, they had a great while ago repented, sitting in sackcloth and ashes.
14 But it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment, than for you.
15 And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted to heaven, shalt be thrust down to hell.
16 He that heareth you heareth me; and he that despiseth you despiseth me; and he that despiseth me despiseth him that sent me.
10:21 In that hour Jesus rejoiced in the Holy Spirit, and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes: even so, Father; for so it seemed good in thy sight.
22 All things are delivered to me of my Father: and no man knoweth who the Son is, but the Father; and who the Father is, but the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal him.
23 And he turned him unto his disciples, and said privately, Blessed are the eyes which see the things that ye see:
24 For I tell you, that many prophets and kings have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them.
11:16 And others, tempting him, sought of him a sign from heaven.
11:29 And when the people were gathered thick together, he began to say, This is an evil generation: they seek a sign; and there shall no sign be given it, but the sign of Jonas the prophet.
30 For as Jonas was a sign unto the Ninevites, so shall also the Son of man be to this generation.
31 The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with the men of this generation, and condemn them: for she came from the utmost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and, behold, a greater than Solomon is here.
32 The men of Nineve shall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: for they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here.
12:54 And he said also to the people, When ye see a cloud rise out of the west, straightway ye say, There cometh a shower; and so it is.
55 And when ye see the south wind blow, ye say, There will be heat; and it cometh to pass.
56 Ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky and of the earth; but how is it that ye do not discern this time?
12:58 When thou goest with thine adversary to the magistrate, as thou art in the way, give diligence that thou mayest be delivered from him; lest he hale thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and the officer cast thee into prison.
59 I tell thee, thou shalt not depart thence, till thou hast paid the very last mite.

14:26 If any man come to me, and scorn not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.
27 And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.
17:33 Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it.
12:4 And I say unto you my friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do.
5 But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him.
6 Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God?
7 But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows.
8 Also I say unto you, Whosoever shall confess me before men, him shall the Son of man also confess before the angels of God:
9 But he that denieth me before men shall be denied before the angels of God.
12:22 And he said unto his disciples, Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat; neither for the body, what ye shall put on.
23 The life is more than meat, and the body is more than raiment.
24 Consider the ravens: for they neither sow nor reap; which neither have storehouse nor barn; and God feedeth them: how much more are ye better than the fowls?
25 And which of you with taking thought can add to his stature one cubit?
26 If ye then be not able to do that thing which is least, why take ye thought for the rest?
27 Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
28 If then God so clothe the grass, which is to day in the field, and to morrow is cast into the oven; how much more will he clothe you, O ye of little faith?
29 And seek not ye what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, neither be ye of doubtful mind.
30 For all these things do the nations of the world seek after: and your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things.
31 But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you.
17:1 Then said he unto the disciples, It is impossible but that offences will come: but woe unto him, through whom they come!
2 It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones.
3 Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him.
4 And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him.
14:34 Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be seasoned?
35 It is neither fit for the land, nor yet for the dunghill; but men cast it out. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.
9:57 And it came to pass, that, as they went in the way, a certain man said unto him, Lord, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest.
58 And Jesus said unto him, Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.
59 And he said unto another, Follow me. But he said, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father.
60 Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God.
16:18 Whosoever putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery: and whosoever marrieth her that is put away from her husband committeth adultery.
12:33 Sell that ye have, and give alms; provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth.
34 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
16:13 No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.
13:24 Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able.
13:26 Then shall ye begin to say, [Lord,] We have eaten and drunk in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets.
27 But he shall say, I tell you, I know you not whence ye are; depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity.
28 There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out.
29 And they shall come from the east, and from the west, and from the north, and from the south, and shall sit down in the kingdom of God.
30 And, behold, there are last which shall be first, and there are first which shall be last.
13:34 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not!
35 Behold, your house is left unto you: and verily I say unto you, Ye shall not see me, until the time come when ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.
14:11 For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.
17:6 And the Lord said, If ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye might say unto this sycamine tree, Be thou plucked up by the root, and be thou planted in the sea; and it should obey you.
11:2 And he said unto them, When ye pray, say, Our Father, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come.
3 Give us day by day our daily bread.
4 And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.
11:9 And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.
10 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.
11 If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent?
11:13 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?
14:16b A certain man made a great supper, and bade many:
17 And sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready.
18 And they all with one consent began to make excuse. The first said unto him, I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it: I pray thee have me excused.
19 And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused.
14:21 So that servant came, and shewed his lord these things. Then the master of the house being angry said to his servant, Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind.
14:23 And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.
24 For I say unto you, That none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper.

11:39b Now do ye Pharisees make clean the outside of the cup and the platter; but your inward part is full of ravening and wickedness.
40 Ye fools, did not he that made that which is without make that which is within also?
41 But rather give alms of such things as ye have; and, behold, all things are clean unto you.
42 But woe unto you, Pharisees! for ye tithe mint and rue and all manner of herbs, and pass over judgment and the love of God: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.
43 Woe unto you, Pharisees! for ye love the uppermost seats in the synagogues, and greetings in the markets.
44 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are as graves which appear not, and the men that walk over them are not aware of them.
11:46 And he said, Woe unto you also, ye lawyers! for ye lade men with burdens grievous to be borne, and ye yourselves touch not the burdens with one of your fingers.
47 Woe unto you! for ye build the sepulchres of the prophets, and your fathers killed them.
48 Truly ye bear witness that ye allow the deeds of your fathers: for they indeed killed them, and ye build their sepulchres.
49 Therefore also said the wisdom of God, I will send them prophets and apostles, and some of them they shall slay and persecute:
50 That the blood of all the prophets, which was shed from the foundation of the world, may be required of this generation;
51 From the blood of Abel unto the blood of Zacharias which perished between the altar and the temple: verily I say unto you, It shall be required of this generation.
52 Woe unto you, lawyers! for ye have taken away the key of knowledge: ye entered not in yourselves, and them that were entering in ye hindered.
12:11 And when they bring you unto the synagogues, and unto magistrates, and powers, take ye no thought how or what thing ye shall answer, or what ye shall say:
12 For the Holy Ghost shall teach you in the same hour what ye ought to say.
12:51 Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division.
12:53 The father shall be divided against the son, and the son against the father; the mother against the daughter, and the daughter against the mother; the mother in law against her daughter in law, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.
17:23 And they shall say to you, See here; or, see there: go not after them, nor follow them.
24 For as the lightning, that lighteneth out of the one part under heaven, shineth unto the other part under heaven; so shall also the Son of man be in his day.
17:26 And as it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man.
27 They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all.
17:30 Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed.
17:34 I tell you, in that night there shall be two men in one bed; the one shall be taken, and the other shall be left.
35 Two women shall be grinding together; the one shall be taken, and the other left.
17:37 And they answered and said unto him, Where, Lord? And he said unto them, Wheresoever the body is, thither will the eagles be gathered together.
16:16 The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it.
17 And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the law to fail.
12:39 And this know, that if the goodman of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched, and not have suffered his house to be broken through.
40 Be ye therefore ready also: for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not.
12:42 And the Lord said, Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his lord shall make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of meat in due season?
43 Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing.
44 Of a truth I say unto you, that he will make him ruler over all that he hath.
45 But and if that servant say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; and shall begin to beat the menservants and maidens, and to eat and drink, and to be drunken;
46 The lord of that servant will come in a day when he looketh not for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in sunder, and will appoint him his portion with the unbelievers.
22:28 Ye are they which have continued with me in my temptations.
29 And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me;
30 That ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

The above sequence is cobbled together from various points in Luke. Since sequencing them as they appear in Luke can be confusing, given the helter-skelter nature of Luke's usage in his narrative, I chose instead to match the sequence as best one can with the appearance of these themes as they come up in Mark, which is the earliest and sparest of the Gospels. The result is a more thematically coherent sequence, although it's still a bunch of random sayings.

I have attempted to include only teachings that appear to be _relatively_ the more authentic, courtesy of modern strictly secular scholarship. What is seen, in those selected Luke sayings that modern scholarship suggests may be the earliest, is a mixed bag. This rabbi did take certain notions quite seriously that we would dismiss as superstition today. Furthermore, he had the limited scientific knowledge of all his compatriots of that day.

However, what makes him of historical importance is not the unsurprising baggage he reflects from his contemporaries but what he added to his culture that was new. Impatient and even denunciatory as his nature sometimes is, he pioneered a social ethic that introduced living for others, loving even one's enemies, and reversing the social status of those with pretensions to greatness. This was a considerable package for that time.

The man clearly has sharp elbows along with his laudable social conscience. The sayings I've marshaled together do not sugarcoat either those sharp elbows or other disconcerting aspects. But they do offer a coherent profile of a provocative thinker who was by no means a perfect human being, merely a flawed though unusually generous social reformer.

A lot of distractions have accreted around both his actions and his sayings. The purpose of this sequence is to concentrate on what he most likely said instead. Thorough-going secular scholarship has been eminently useful here.

Eccentric and superstitious as some of the above Luke passages may sometimes seem today, they do not show the kind of occasional hints of violence we sometimes see in passages of a later vintage, such as are found in the Gospel of John, which isn't a Synoptic Gospel. I also do not see hypocrisy in any of the above Luke material. Hypocrisy means talking one thing and walking the precise opposite. But where do these above Luke teachings contradict "loving your enemies"?

Yes, Luke records Jesus as saying he's coming to divide, and that may be perfectly authentic, because no responsible historian claims Jesus is somehow perfect. For that matter, neither was Socrates, Benjamin Franklin, Theodore Roosevelt, Gandhi, MLK, Mandela, etc. They're _all_ flawed. But they ended up making life a tiny bit better for countless people rather than a whole lot worse (Genghis Khan, anyone?).

John is the last of the four Gospels -- sometimes referenced as GJohn -- and the only one of the four not part of the Synoptics series. Unlike the three Synoptics, the original Koine Greek text of John has no Aramaic stylometrics in any of Jesus's lines, and frames everything related to Jesus in a much more overtly supernatural context. Jesus becomes virtually no longer human. Its late stylistics also make it clear it comes from a much later time than the Synoptics, rendering it doubtful if it can be viewed as any kind of primary historic source at all.

To reiterate, Aramaic stylometrics do suggest a historic stratum in some of the parallel Jesus sayings and pericopes in Matthew and Luke. Likewise, details in Mark's narrative suggesting a much more ordinary and fallible -- and human -- Jesus in Mark likewise suggest a historic stratum. Nothing of this sort emerges in John. It is more likely post-historic.

So given the most recent professional modern scholarship, it may well be that what is most likely historical in the Jesus materials here are not the many details in his bio (aside from the crucifixion) but his Aramaic-tinged sayings in Matt./Luke. In other words, what he _said_ is ultimately more reliable (much of the time) than anything he purportedly did.

That points, ironically, to Jesus's words as preeminent -- just as GJohn suggests in his preamble ("In the beginning was the Word"), if not with the same intent as modern scholars! Jesus's enlightened words are the most likely history here and of far greater relevance to humanity's potential. Maybe his word is not the beginning. But in the end, maybe his word is most important of all -- and the most historical.

Some scholars see in the paper trail of the last decade or so of the first century, c.e., an increase in internecine animosities in Jewish communities in Jerusalem, etc. Much of this appears to arise from mutual resentments in the wake of contrary opinions on Jesus the nailed rabbi. As a result of these animosities, demonisation was not too far off on either side. John appears to reflect that demonisation with more of a fixation on traditional Jews' intransigence than in any other Scriptural text.

So the fact that John was used to rev up hate for hundreds of years is not surprising, though still appalling. This is another reason why I view John as the last Scriptural place I would go to learn anything about Jesus.

That said, I am only human. The poetry in John is sometimes stunning. I have often been keen on reading its first chapter out loud in the King James version. It's mouth-filling! That doesn't change the fact that I don't think the day can come too soon when we finally have an edition of the New Testament in which only the seven authentic Paulines and the three Synoptics and Acts are included in the main section of the book and everything else relegated to an appendix. In that appendix, I would also put Chapters 18 and 20 of Josephus's Antiquities and Chapter 15 of Tacitus's Annals.

To reiterate, though, the most relevant passage in Josephus's Antiquities is in Ch. 20, a paragraph on a verdict of stoning handed down against Jesus's brother James, and in Tacitus's Annals it's Ch. 15, a paragraph on Jesus's execution and the dispersal of Christians throughout the Roman Empire.

(As for the muddled passage in Chapter 18 of Josephus's Antiquities, there is some atypical non-Josephan vocabulary there -- in the most circulated version that has survived. That suspicious vocabulary includes phrases so hagiographic that it could only be an early Christian who inserted them. But is the whole passage fake? Possibly not. A shorter early quote from the same paragraph was found in an Arabic text, and it has none of the suspicious accretions. It is likely this translation may more accurately reflect an original text, original to Josephus after all.)

Again, the Ch. 20 paragraph in Josephus has no suspicious accretions, and most scholars accept its authenticity. It is of special interest because it describes contemporary events when Josephus was an adult and living in Jerusalem himself right when the events surrounding James occurred. Josephus's circle included families associated with the priestly class directly involved in judgements of stoning when James was in the dock.

As for the Tacitus passage, it evidently reflects a very circumscribed Silver-Age style (so-called) in Latin writing relatively hard to fake. Like Ch. 20 in Antiqs., scholars generally see Ch. 15 of Annals as authentic too. Ch. 15 is useful in giving us an authentic picture of a decidedly unsympathetic Cosmopolitan outlook on both Jesus and the movement he started. Moreover, there is nothing remotely hagiographic in this Ch. 15. Quite the contrary. Tacitus pours down withering scorn on everything to do with Jesus.

So these pagan chapters should all be in the Appendix of any modern responsible scholarly edition of the materials on the Jesus story.

In addition, in the Appendix, I might also add the non-canonical Gospel of Thomas. It is quite likely this may predate the Gospel of John, according to a number of scholars. So if one is going to include GJohn in the appendix, then one should certainly include Thomas. Thomas is entirely made up of Jesus sayings only, some of which are also duplicated in the parallel sayings in Matt./Luke with their fleeting Aramaic stylometrics.


By way of summation, here is a rundown of what appears to be the more likely historical profile for Jesus the crucified rabbi.

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 few narrative/biographical 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 mythicists ignorantly claim complete silence: parentage**, life events***, ministry****, apostles***** and betrayal******.

Mythicists 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. Mythicists 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 celebrity 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 mythicists, in their ignorance of the latest textual analysis, always latch on to show that "Jesus never existed". Well, the magic man who turns water into wine, or is born of a virgin(!), etc., etc., probably never existed, yes. And that has nothing 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 the normal human being from Galilee is so relatively obscure.

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. It's a number. They also put any kind of miracle worker in considerable doubt.

This profile is intended for serious scrutiny. It reflects the goal of narrowing down just what seems more plausible and what doesn't.


* 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."
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 decades 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