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Posts posted by Memammal

  1. No. It must be: he probably existed, but we cannot be 100% sure.

    I agree.


    - mentioning by Paul that he met Jesus' brother, James

    - mentioning by Josephus of James, whose brother was called 'Christ'

    Mark 6:2-3 says: "And when the Sabbath had come, He began to teach in the synagogue. And many hearing Him were astonished, saying, "Where did this Man get these things? And what wisdom is this which is given to Him, that such mighty works are performed by His hands! "Is this not the carpenter, the Son of Mary, and brother of James, Joses, Judas, and Simon? And are not His sisters here with us?"


    Galatians 1:19: "But I saw none of the other apostles except James, the Lord's brother."


    In Antiquities, book 20 chapter 9, Josephus mentions James the brother of Jesus and Annas the High priest:

    "Upon the death of Festus ( 62 A.D.), Emperor Nero sent Albinus to be procurator of Judea. But before he arrived, King Agrippa appointed Annas to be High priest. He was the son of the elder Annas. (Note: The elder Annas referred to here is the same Annas of the New Testament Gospels.) The elder Annas had been high priest himself for a time. He had five sons all whom secured the priesthood. Annas the younger, however, was a brute who observed the ways of the Sadducees who are known as being cold-hearted when they sit in judgement. With Festus dead and Albinus still traveling, Annas thought he could have his own way. Calling forth the members of the Sanhedrin, he brought before them a man named James, the brother of Jesus who was called the Christ, and others with him. He accused them of violating the law, and ordered that they should be put to death by stoning."

  2. Seems as if I just cannot get out of this discussion so easily..?


    ...for example I think that Doherty had not noticed that Philo of Alexandria had written about a similar Jesus already - that was also new to me.

    Please elaborate on Philo Of Alexandria's writings about "a similar Jesus".


    For example when discussing Paul and "the Lord's supper", he didn't find the time to point out that Paul's details of the actual ritual not only were "received from the Lord" but may be based on the same source as the Didache. And the Didache is a topic on itself, I was shaken when I read it.

    Perhaps this will settle you down: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Didache


    Also he didn't have time to elaborate on the denial by some early Christians of some basic features of the "historical" Jesus.

    e.g. from the phrase "central case of the crucified man and his cross" on https://web.archive.org/web/20070704232342/http://pages.ca.inter.net/~oblio/CritiquesGDon-2.htm

    That is a very long article...perhaps you can quote the relevant part that you were referring to, or convey the argument..?


    Similarly I noticed a few pieces of the puzzle myself, as they relate to things that had been bothering me when I still believed that Jesus was historical - such as how the New Testament can have so many passages that are ambiguous about which lord is meant, some even obviously confounding Jesus with the Father. One may say that is normal, it's the Trinity - but there is evidence that the Trinity doctrine was not established at the start, and I find it improbable that a religion that was started by a preacher on Earth so quickly confounds the Jewish God with that man.

    It differs from book to book, author to author, and there are well documented reasons for this (not only between synoptic gospels and the gospel of John, but also between the synoptic gospels themselves). There are noticeable exceptions where one would find extraordinary descriptions/references in unexpected places, but these could easily be attributed to interpolations.


    EDIT: I like to add this article which you should find interesting: The Gospel of John and the Hellenization of Jesus (note its reference to Philo Of Alexandria).


    And I was struck by apparently very ancient Christian paintings of "the mother of God with her child".

    Compare for example http://www.earlychristians.org/index.php/origins/item/678-the-devotion-to-the-virgin-mary-in-the-early-church/678-the-devotion-to-the-virgin-mary-in-the-early-church

    and http://www.albatrus.org/english/religions/pagan/pagan_origin_mary_worship.htm

    The explanation of a so early mother and child worship in the church, in my opinion does not (arguably, this is a "protestant view") fit well with the bible account, following a historical Jesus.

    It fits, I think, better with an originally mystery-based Jesus, and a diverse Christian community that had Greek and Egyptian influences mixed with the Jewish prophecies right from the start.

    I don't see anything peculiar about this. The gospel of Luke, in particular, paints Mary in a very special light. Here is an excerpt from an article that may provide an explanation for what you alluded to: Many people, Protestants particularly, object to the figure that Mary has become. She is seen almost as a goddess figure, possibly derived from the fact that many Pagans became Christians in the early centuries of the church and they believed in goddesses, so Mary became to them the goddess. Many people would say that was something that went wrong with Christianity... Christian theology has always maintained that she was a human being and not God, but nevertheless, she was a human being in a very important and intimate place in the story of Jesus. There have been many images of Mary through the centuries. Some have derived from the Bible, such as the image from the book of Revelation showing Mary with a crown of 12 stars. She represents the early church with the 12 tribes of Israel represented by the stars. There have been images of Madonna and child; Mary seated in a chair with the child on her lap. Some of these images look very similar to images that we know about from some of the pagan goddesses at the time. Isis, for example, was seated in such a chair with the infant Horus on her lap in the same way. When Christianity was spreading across the Empire, it's clear that it deliberately took images from the pagan world in which it lived and into which it spread and used those images. Old holy wells and shrines were turned into Christian shrines. In Egypt a shrine of Isis was deliberately and self-consciously re-created as a shrine of Mary. One of the important cities for Mary was Ephesus, where the goddess Diana was worshipped. It's not surprising that Mary drew upon the imagery associated with the goddesses, because that was the imagery the people knew.

    ​(BBC/Religions/Mary: http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/christianity/history/virginmary_1.shtml)


    "the only way to kill mythicism is to prove that Paul knew of a historical Jesus. Given almost all scholars (all until Carrier's so far unexplained conversion) already think this is proven, the argument is unlikely to develop."


    "unexplained"? :unsure:;):P

    Could you please just remind me again why you would query the quoted part?

  3. ...Or we simply don't want to know? ;)


    You can approach it in a number of ways, either argue against it by conjuring up some conspiracy theory, be super sceptic and insist on indisputable evidence (which, if you follow the same rigorous approach, would refute the existence of numerous "historic" figures), or to weigh up all the contributing factors and see how these puzzles best fit together...i.e. what is the most likely scenario? I think most historians and archaeologists work by means of the last-mentioned approach, don't you think? By constructing the most viable explanation with the (some times very little) evidence at their disposal..?

  4. @ Ten oz: No, Paul, Luke, and Matthew are not the only sources and I did elaborate on why it can be assumed. I am stepping out of this debate. Everything that could have been said, were probably said already. Perhaps the myth theorists and their supporters have an agenda for insisting that there was never a real Jesus-like figure, I don't know. The majority opinion of the extensive list of authors/scholars who have studied it, speaks for itself. I have my personal opinion about it which is something that I arrived at by applying my mind and that I thoroughly thought through.

  5. If the question was whether or not Jesus was modelled after or inspired by various real people than I agree 100% the answer is probably yes.

    That is not what the majority of these authors/scholars are implying, nor what I conveyed. They simply have their own individual perceptions of the same historical figure. That is not uncommon. Many historians have differed about the persona of historical figures, even recent ones like Princess Diana or Nelson Mandela for example.


    Just as Huck Finn was inspired by a kid Mark Twain had known. However Huck Finn never existed and the question is whether or not Jesus specifically existed. Not whether a person or persons similar may have existed. For me that is a very important distinction.

    Although I previously agreed with you in reference to the status of the Jesus character as somewhat similar to that of Huck Finn in the sense that they both might have been loosely based on an actual historical person, I think we need to be a bit more specific. It was only Mark Twain who knew this kid and who used him as the inspiration for his character, no other authors. The same cannot be said of the Jesus character. Quite a few first and second century scribes have thought it worth their while to write about what appears to be one and the same character, "Biblical" Jesus.


    To what specific extent was there an individual "some sort of teacher/preacher/healer/activist who was crucified" whom we can say was more probably than not was Jesus? A specific individual whom is directly responsible for the origin.

    Surely one can assume that this Jesus character must have done something (enough) to draw attention. He seemingly had some kind of following. He was (wrongfully?) sentenced to death, so he must have been seen as some kind of threat (either to the Romans or to the other Jewish sects). Let us again use Nelson Mandela as an example. He was relatively unknown when he and his colleagues were caught and detained. The longer he stayed in prison though, the more the perception grew that he was wrongfully incarcerated, the more of a folk/political hero he became not only in South Africa but (more importantly) also internationally. As a prisoner he was never seen or heard, yet his influence was immense. Consider the socio-political atmosphere during the time that Jesus allegedly held public gatherings where he conveyed a message of hope to the poor, the sick, where he spoke of immanent change. One can easily imagine that after he was crucified by the socio-political regime and when the events leading up to the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple in 70CE started to unfold, that his legacy was ripe for the picking by the likes of Paul & Co.

  6. In my opinion saying "most" scholars agree in reference to anything bibical is akin to saying most jouralist agree is reference to matters of science. There is actually a small pool that has done peer reviewed work on the historicity of Jesus. If we could limit this discussion to focusing on specific work that directly, not loosely, addresses the issue I think it would be helpful. People like Dale Allison, Bart Ehrman, Joseph Hoffman, Richard Carrier, and Philip Davies (to name a few) have worked specifically on the issue we are discussing and do not fall into any category of being polite, dismissive, or etc.


    And in addition, linked from the Jesus Mysteries forum I came across another site that could be useful as basis for the discussion here as it presents and compares a variety of ideas, in addition to many manuscripts of that time: http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/theories.html


    Having browsed over the opinions of all of the authors referenced above, I can conclude that there are broadly three groups of opinions:

    Fringe myth theories;

    A majority middle position that points towards Jesus as a historical figure, some sort of teacher/preacher/healer/activist who was crucified; with the Pauline (and to a lesser degree Johannine) Christology as instrumental in the apotheosis of Jesus and the foundation of Christianity and the early church (with the other apostles playing their respective parts);

    And lastly another fringe position that supports a divine, incarnated Jesus Christ.

  7. Any attempt to differentiate fact from fiction, or history from myth, needs to differentiate between an earthy Jesus (the preacher/rabbi who had very little ambitions other than to convert Jews towards the Essene sect, as I referred to in my posts #656 & #661) and that of a heavenly Jesus, so-called son of God, the redeemer & saviour of all of humanity. The second depiction was an invention of Paul (Christology of redemption) as portrayed through his epistles and (later) by the author(s) of John (Christology of incarnation) and Paul's companion, Luke The Evangelist (likely author of the Gospel Of Luke as well as Acts). The differences of opinion and the notion of conflicts between Peter and James (the alleged (half-)brother of Jesus) on the one hand, and Paul on the other, are both interesting and important; something that has to be taken into account.


    And in addition, linked from the Jesus Mysteries forum I came across another site that could be useful as basis for the discussion here as it presents and compares a variety of ideas, in addition to many manuscripts of that time: http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/theories.html

    I had a quick look at this and it seems like a very good source to explore. It covers a wide spectrum of resources i.t.o. reputable authors/researchers (including some of the authors that Ten oz already listed earlier) with varying opinions re Jesus...much more than just "earthy" and "heavenly", but also including the various myth theories.

  8. I suggest that the presentism vs eternalism part of the discussion be moved to another similar thread: http://www.scienceforums.net/topic/97604-is-a-deterministic-universe-as-profoundly-counter-intuitive-for-you-too/


    I am not too sure about the protocol for doing this...may I proceed copying the relevant parts of the posts from this thread to the other, should the OP first OK it, or should the moderators do it?

  9. @ Ten oz: I don't have any issues with what you posted and suggested above; it is your thread after all. I would assume that most of the specific work that directly addresses the issue have already been discussed earlier during this thread, no? My discussion with Tim88 earlier had reference to my question as to how one would explain a mythical Jesus considering my p.o.v. as raised in #656 & #661 against the backdrop of an assemble of mostly first century manuscripts, some contained in the NT, some external (for example the relevant parts of the Dead Sea Scrolls as alluded to in my post #656)?




    @ Tim88: There is very good reason to think that John was written later than Mark (and the other gospels?). It has to do with the way in which the author of John dealt with the transfiguration event, almost as a side comment as if his readers would have already known what happened. Given that he was one of the alleged witnesses of said event, it is somewhat strange. It does seem to suggest that it might have been written by somebody else (not John, who would have been very old at that time...if he was still alive) and also later than (at least) Mark. It may also be an indication that interpolations (pertaining to supernatural events) date back to the first century..?

  10. Just now I refreshed my memory on this topic, so I edit this post accordingly. The estimated timeline of the different manuscripts - not limited to those found in the bible - was a guide for the development of Doherty's theory. A cornerstone of that development is the assumed historicity of Paul, and the fact-based assumption that his writings are the oldest bible writings about Christ that have been found.

    I don't quite follow you and I don't see how it impacts on my earlier statement #661. I know that the authenticity of a number of the Pauline epistles are being disputed but that the (authentic) epistles are regarded as the oldest written manuscripts that are contained in the NT. Was Doherty claiming something else?


    Dates of composition

    Development of the New Testament canon

  11. @ Tim88: Let me quote that same paragraph from your previous post again:

    I think that there is convincing evidence for either physical space or physical spacetime; there seems to be no reasonable alternative to one of those two concepts [edit: although it is always possible that someone will come up with another alternative].

    It should be realized that these two physical models or interpretations correspond to very different, even opposing views of time: the one implies presentism, the other suggests eternalism. The choice of which model one prefers depends on what one thinks makes most sense.


    First of all this entire thread so far has been dealing with the question about whether there is an actual, physical, tangible space-time. Are you implying that there is convincing evidence that space-time is "tangible"? Secondly the reason why I provided the quote from the Petkov paper was to point towards your very last sentence that I quoted above. You gave the impression that the choice between eternalism and presentism is based on personal preference (what makes the most sense to any individual). Surely that cannot be right..? Petkov (among others) argued against presentism...and so does this paper:


    Relativity of Simultaneity and Eternalism: In Defense of the Block Universe

    Abstract: Ever since Hermann Minkowski’s now infamous comments in 1908 concerning the proper way to view space-time, the debate has raged as to whether or not the universe should be viewed as a four-dimensional, unified whole wherein the past, present, and future are regarded as equally real or whether the views espoused by the possibilists, historicists, and presentists regarding the unreality of the future (and, for presentists, the past) are more accurate. Now, a century after Minkowski’s proposed block universe first sparked debate, we present a new, more conclusive argument in favor of the eternalism. Utilizing an argument based on the relativity of simultaneity in the tradition of Putnam and Rietdijk and explicit novel but reasonable assumptions as to the nature of reality, we argue that the past, present, and future should be treated as equally real, thus ruling that presentism and other theories of time that bestow special ontological status to the past, present, or future are untenable. Finally, we respond to our critics who suggest that: (1) there is no metaphysical difference between the positions of eternalism and presentism, (2) the present must be defined as the “here” as well as the “now”, or (3) presentism is correct and physicists’ current understanding of relativity is incomplete because it does not incorporate a preferred frame. We call response 1 deflationary since it purports to dissolve or deconstruct the age-old debate between the two views and response 2 compatibilist because it does nothing to alter special relativity (SR), arguing instead that SR unadorned has the resources to save presentism. Response 3 we will call incompatibilist because it adorns SR in some way in order to save presentism a la some sort of preferred frame. We show that neither 1 nor 2 can save presentism and 3 is not well motivated at this juncture except as an ad hoc device to refute eternalism.


    PS. But perhaps we should first consider whether discussing the merits of eternalism vs presentism will add value to the topic under discussion..?

  12. It should be realized that these two physical models or interpretations correspond to very different, even opposing views of time: the one implies presentism, the other suggests eternalism. The choice of which model one prefers depends on what one thinks makes most sense.

    For information:

    In a scientific paper entitled “Is there An Alternative To The Block Universe View?” Vesselin Petkov shows that the eternal block universe view, regarding the universe as a timelessly existing four-dimensional world, is the only one that is consistent with special relativity. The paper concludes: In this sense special relativity alone appears to provide a definite proof of the block universe view. One may argue that the arguments discussed here are insufficient for rejecting the presentist view since those arguments demonstrated that presentism contradicts only special relativity, not the other established theories (quantum mechanics, for instance). Such a position could hardly be defended because if a view contradicts the experimental evidence it is definitely wrong. There is just one way to prove that the presentist view does not contradict the relativistic effects – to demonstrate that the experiments which confirm the kinematic consequences of special relativity can be explained if it is assumed that the world is three-dimensional.

  13. John's gospel is estimated to have been written more than half a century after the (real) letters by Paul. And the other gospels were finalized much later, it seems, when the church already was matured.

    Most of the reputable on-line sources seem to agree w.r.t. the age of the gospel of John (late first century), but not about it being the first of the gospels...rather the last. Mark is commonly regarded as the oldest of the canonical gospels (around 65 - 70 CE).

  14. Notably Doherty's book The Jesus puzzle is worth studying, as it has a scientific approach to the issue. Based on some indications he got the idea that perhaps Jesus never really existed, and next he tested that hypothesis by looking for evidence that could falsify or render more support for it. But likely that has already been discussed in this thread.

    I just want to return to this statement. It seems like a strange way of dealing with a historical fact-or-fiction question. Did he also contrast it with the alternative hypothesis?


    In any event, the mythicists "hypothesis" of Doherty & Co might have some merit if one looks specifically at the gospel of John as well as Revelations, but I find it difficult to seriously consider a situation whereby all the other gospels, Acts and all the epistles, in their entirety, have been orchestrated around a mythical Jesus figure. If that was the case, it would have been far easier to align the narrative and (for example) to have Jesus proclaiming, in no uncertain terms, that he had to die for humanity's sins considering the fact that it became of such importance to the Christian dogma. Only, according to the other three gospels, he never said that. In stead the pre-crucified Jesus missionary was clearly to promote the Essene way of living and believing. He seemingly had no ulterior motives or universal ambitions beyond the Jewish culture. And I think we can safely discard any alleged post-crucified, or other supernatural events (virgin births, temptation by Satan, transfiguration event, etc.). We should rather ask the question as to how these last-mentioned events ended up in the scriptures (for example the late addition to Mark) and why they are still being taken seriously?

  15. In light of some of the comments the OP should perhaps consider the broader term of communication as the impetus...from very basic forms of communication (thus incorporating all forms of sentient life from day of birth) to the most advanced forms... and communicating both ways, i.e. sending and receiving. But that would start overlapping into the theory of Memetics, not so? Maybe that was why I was curious about the origin of this idea..?

  16. I already divulged my personal opinion and to date I have not found any reason to reconsider. The main reasons for my personal conclusion that a historical Jesus-like figure probably existed and that he was likely an Essene preacher of the same ilk as John The Baptist, are as follows:


    The way in which he was portrayed, particularly by the author of Mark but also the authors of Luke & Matthew (who might have used parts of Mark as a source), makes a lot of sense if one evaluates it against the backdrop of the specific socio-political-religious dynamics of that (Second Temple) era. It seems quite possible that Jesus & Co had a factional (i.e. pro Essene) agenda against the other prevailing sects of the time and that he attempted to convert Jews. As such his alleged crucifixion might have been motivated by all these various conflicts of interests, as I described earlier in my post #626;

    The many differences in the day-to-day historical portrayal of his short public life among the various gospels as opposed to what appear to be mostly correlated representations of supernatural events let me to believe that there was a concerted effort w.r.t. a later apotheosis possibly by means of interpolation of original scriptures. The well-known later addition to the original Mark scripture that deals with the post-resurrected Jesus seems like a confirmation of what probably happened with many other parts of the gospels;

    Paul's doctrine changed a lot of the emphasis of the Jesus narrative. The idea of Jesus who died for humanity's sins is that of Paul, not Jesus. I quote: Paul was the principal theologian of that component of early Christian movement called Pauline Christianity. It eventually won out over Jewish Christianity, Gnostic Christianity and other competing Christian groups to became the dominant religious force in the Roman Empire. Paul's (unique) message as well as his strong push to expand the early churches were frowned upon by both James and Peter (according to Acts they had a fall-out between them), who appeared to have been loyal to- and more in line with the (original) Jesus message;

    The Dead Sea Scrolls offer further valuable insight into this. It was allegedly written and kept by the Essenes and never amended again until its discovery. There are similarities to be found with Jesus' Sermon on the Mount while its references to the Teacher of Righteousness are intriguing.


    The above are by no means conclusive, but for me it paints a rather convincing explanation for what might have transpired.

  17. I read everything and I found the broad gist thereof quite appealing and within reason...subject to Ophiolite's fair comment. I am still digesting...and considering some of the more intricate points. I am not qualified to give you a scientific opinion, but at first glance it seems to be a pretty novel idea. Is it entirely original though..?

  18. however, in my view, there's a distinction between false memories based on previously known word associations and the perception of reliving or instantly re-experiencing some immediate moment or event not previously experienced or known. Essentially, their results show how false memories can be created from previously known and remembered associations, while deja vu appears to involve previously unexperienced, therefore, unknown moments perceived as past memories.

    I agree.

    Edit: I did not read the study, but deja vu seems less reliant on communication or visualization and more reliant on a particular experience (quale?) that triggers it, no?

  19. @ Willie71: I watched the video but it seems to specifically address the supernatural side of the Jesus narrative. That, as far as I can tell, is not really the purpose of this thread (most of us probably agree that the supernatural events are most likely all hocus-pocus). So whether the Jesus character was deified through all sorts of mythical side shows is a separate issue and the question (I think) relates to whether there was in fact a historical human that fits the Jesus story.


    @ Ten oz: As I understood it kisai argued that the Luke part of the nativity story that describes Joseph & Maria as traveling from Nazareth to Bethlehem for the census was (purposefully) fictional (for prophetic reasons), which would then raise the question as to why the story teller(s) would have even bothered with the (fictional) Nazareth part and not placed them in Bethlehem from the outset (as implied in the Matthews gospel) if there was not a real Jesus (from Nazareth).

  20. ^ I would not read too much into anything concerning the birth of Biblical Jesus. Matthew and Luke are quite far apart in their respective telling of this story, while none of the other gospels even mention it. The gospel of Mark is widely recognised not only as the oldest gospel but one of the probable sources for both Matthew and Luke's gospels. Mark never refers to a baby- or young Jesus but starts with the baptism of Jesus as an adult. It appears that the gospel of Matthew refers to Nazareth as a place where Jesus later relocated to and where he first started preaching.

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