Jump to content

Did Christianity start with a real human Jesus?


Recommended Posts

22 hours ago, mistermack said:

And climate research IS a good example of a self perpetuating consensus. Nobody in their right mind would go into climate research, if they didn't already believe in MMGW.

That is clearly not how things work. You may get shunned if your goal is to disprove its existence by any means necessary. There are plenty of folks working on the intersection of e.g. ecological systems and global flows. And due to the increasing effects quite a few have to add it into their models. I.e. that claim is nonsense. 

Whenever I read such threads I almost feel obligated to go through Eise's post and upvote them as in essence he makes a very basic statement that should not be controversial but many science fans fail to grasp it. Different areas of study have different methodologies to gain insights. To use an example of what is often considered a "softer" natural science: 

In biology there are only limited area where we can do proper modeling (and even then they often they are extremely rough). The reason is that complexity and data quality are bigger issues than in e.g. physics. Especially a few decades ago this was a huge issue, yet it did not prevent us from making assumptions and create working model based on the data available. Of course the work of historians can not be based on experiments and requires critical examination of evidence. While lack of data and experimentation invites more freedom of interpretation, proper historians (i.e. not youtubers or bloggers) spend a lot of time sourcing their arguments. Dismissing it wholesale is just disrespectful and rather show a lack of understanding how historians work.

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Replies 330
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

Top Posters In This Topic

Popular Posts

Suits me. Your expectation of a pat on the back, for the lamest of argument is tiresome. And claiming a consensus for it, as justification is laughable. What it says is, I can't justify it with my own

Eise often backs up his claims with an imaginary consensus. He often claims to know what many/most/all scholars/historians/scientists think. If this is a scienceforum then his comments in this thread

That's a lie. Did you watch his videos?

1 hour ago, Itoero said:

That's a lie. Did you watch his videos?

As far as I can see he is not attached to any academic institution and as far as I am aware his ideas are not particularly well received by mainstream historians. BTW, if the academic of a person is mainly substantiated by videos, then it is usually not very substantial.

And while we are on the subject of lying:

On 9/15/2018 at 4:31 AM, Eise said:

Richard Carrier has a degree in ancient history, but does no research or is teaching at any university (not even in ancient history):

If you read the whole sentence and notice the italicized part, Eise noted that Carrier does not teach or conduct research at an university, which is clearly correct. Now, I will not say that I accuse you of lying (after all, it could be a matter of reading comprehension), but I assume you will see how that is a misleading way of quoting?

Edited by CharonY
Link to post
Share on other sites
13 hours ago, Itoero said:

That's a lie. Did you watch his videos?

You got a positive point for quoting in ill faith???

Just as small addition: CharonY did not put the italics himself. I already did that. And you missed exactly that phrase??? And then you say what I said is a lie? Wow.

Link to post
Share on other sites
16 hours ago, CharonY said:

Whenever I read such threads I almost feel obligated to go through Eise's post and upvote them as in essence he makes a very basic statement that should not be controversial but many science fans fail to grasp it. Different areas of study have different methodologies to gain insights. To use an example of what is often considered a "softer" natural science: 

The issue I take with Eise's overall position on this matter is that they are insisting on higher levels of certainty than can be produced via the disciplines involved. Who wrote all the Gospels, how many different people wrote the Gospels, what relationship the authors had to each other, or when they were written. Additionally the Gospels contain information which is broadly understood to not be true. For me that renders them unreliable. Parsing through writing styles, inconsistencies, known historical references,and etc in an attempt to extract truth from them is guesswork. It isn't enough information to say something probably was or probably was not. I do not feel anything Eise's is saying is false but it just doesn't objectively mean what they are insisting it means. There is lots of evidence that Jesus may have been a real person. However there isn't evidence that proves Jesus was real. If Eise's were arguing that they  believe Jesus was real for X,Y, and Z reasons there would be nothing to debate. Rather Eise's is arguing that we all should believe and that historians know Jesus to have been real. It is that firm affirmation I am not able to agree with. Not when there is zero contemporary artifacts of any kind, the literary story of Jesus's life exclusively exists in religious text, and authorship is unknown. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Agreed. My own conclusion is that bible historians are making far too much of some very dubious evidence. It may seem now, that the stories are too detailed and numerous to have come from nothing. It may seem that people like Paul were too committed to lie or invent. But what historians ignore is just how clever some of those people were, 2,000 years ago. And the people that they were writing for were also clever, and discriminating, so the stories had to be good. All of the rubbish has been discarded, and what we're left with can look pretty impressive if you don't read between the lines. It's DESIGNED to convince. That's it's only purpose.

And that's why you need independent corroborating evidence, to establish something as true, especially in the field of religion.

Link to post
Share on other sites
On 9/15/2018 at 6:31 AM, Eise said:

That is not what I said, but I could have said it clearer. This is what I meant: no mythicist has an appointment on any University, as researcher or teacher in the area of early Christian history.

Richard Carrier has a degree in ancient history, but does no research or is teaching at any university (not even in ancient history):

 

This is not completely accurate. I feel you are attempting to imply that only non academics question Jesus's existence and that is not true: 

Robert Price He has served as Professor of Religion at Mount Olive College and is a Professor of Theology and Scriptural Studies at Johnnie Colemon Theological Seminary and Professor of Biblical Criticism for the Center for Inquiry Institute in Amherst, New York.

 Alvar Ellegård  was professor of English at the University of Gothenburg, and a member of the academic board of the Swedish National Encyclopedia.

Thomas L. Brodie Brodie   has taught Hebrew Scriptures and New Testament at the Aquinas Institute of Theology in St. Louis, Missouri. He has most frequently been published by Oxford University Press and Sheffield Phoenix Press.

Raphael Lataster  passed his Master of Arts (Research), undertaken in the Department of Studies in Religion at the University of Sydney, with Distinction,[has published numerous articles,and in 2015 received a teaching award, the Dean's Citation for Excellence in Tutorials in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences of the University of Sydney.

 

Edited by Ten oz
Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, Ten oz said:

The issue I take with Eise's overall position on this matter is that they are insisting on higher levels of certainty than can be produced via the disciplines involved. Who wrote all the Gospels, how many different people wrote the Gospels, what relationship the authors had to each other, or when they were written. Additionally the Gospels contain information which is broadly understood to not be true. For me that renders them unreliable. Parsing through writing styles, inconsistencies, known historical references,and etc in an attempt to extract truth from them is guesswork. It isn't enough information to say something probably was or probably was not. I do not feel anything Eise's is saying is false but it just doesn't objectively mean what they are insisting it means. There is lots of evidence that Jesus may have been a real person. However there isn't evidence that proves Jesus was real. If Eise's were arguing that they  believe Jesus was real for X,Y, and Z reasons there would be nothing to debate. Rather Eise's is arguing that we all should believe and that historians know Jesus to have been real. It is that firm affirmation I am not able to agree with. Not when there is zero contemporary artifacts of any kind, the literary story of Jesus's life exclusively exists in religious text, and authorship is unknown. 

I am not a scholar on this subject and therefore am not able properly evaluate the subject myself. However, I do seem to read Eise's posts differently than you do. My interpretation is that a) on balance mainstream historians evaluate existing information in favour of a person like Jesus Christ having existed and b) that the Christ myth theory is generally held by a fringe. I may have missed the point where Eise claimed that historians know Jesus to be real (which would be a somewhat odd claim for researchers of the antiquity to begin with), but from the latter posts this is what I am getting.

Both claims seem to be accurate and what I feel is that you add your own evaluation to the mix, which is not the equivalent of historic standards (which Eise also already pointed out). It is not unusual to use secondary sources as well as indirect evidence to assume the existence of certain persons. 

In addition, a cursory view of proponents supportive of the myth theory shows roughly three elements: members of secularist groups, non-academics and academics in their emeritus phase. While this does not in itself invalidate their reasoning it does seem to be rather typical for fringe views. It also does not mean that it will never become mainstream, but neither does it seem to be supported by historians working in that field. And especially the relatively high amount of emeriti publishing in that area indicates that they are not in their field to begin with. 

 

Edited by CharonY
Link to post
Share on other sites

If you're going to give a value to the consensus among bible historians that Jesus was a real man, why stop there?

After all, the consensus among bible historians is also that Jesus was the son of God, born of a virgin, and rose again, after being dead for three days, and ascended into heaven. 

Even Bart Ehrman believed all that stuff in the past. To his credit, he thought about it, and rejected a lot of it. But only after getting his doctorate at a theological seminary :              

Wiki: Ehrman grew up in Lawrence, Kansas, and attended Lawrence High School, where he was on the state champion debate team in 1973. He began studying the Bible and the Biblical languages at Moody Bible Institute, where he earned the school's three-year diploma in 1976.[1] He is a 1978 graduate of Wheaton College  (a Christian residential college) in Illinois, where he received his bachelor's degree. He received his PhD (in 1985) and M.Div. from Princeton Theological Seminary, where he studied under Bruce Metzger. Both baccalaureate and doctorate were conferred magna cum laude.[2]             

 

This is not untypical of New Testament scholars. This is where your precious consensus is coming from. Ehrman is a huge exception in rejecting some of it, he's not typical in that way. And you won't find many atheists following the Bible study trail.  

 

 

Edited by mistermack
Link to post
Share on other sites

So you are saying that all folks (except, strangely the one Eise cited) are untrustworthy and therefore we can only rely on those that are not considered main stream? That is a baffling approach, using the same line of argument we really should lay off vaccines.

But I have to ask, which are the mainstream historians,  not theologists,  who assert the points you just made (i.e. historicity of virgin birth and resurrection). 

Link to post
Share on other sites
On 9/7/2018 at 9:28 AM, Eise said:

 So I do not get at 50/50. 85/15 represents my position.

Above in response to me saying I view whether or not Jesus lived a 50/50 issue. 

On 9/12/2018 at 2:32 AM, Eise said:

That is only true if the Gospels are exact reports about what happened. But they are not: the Gospels contradict each other and contain historical errors. Really, it is not difficult to write detailed stories. But what of the details is true, and what isn't, has to be found out (of course the contradictions and historical errors fall through). On careful analysis, it turns out that a few details are probably true: which (logically!) means that very probably Jesus existed.

Above stating that Jesus "very probably existed" based on careful analysis of "probably true" parts of the Gospels.

On 9/12/2018 at 7:41 AM, Eise said:

Obviously you forgot my 85/15. I am not 100% sure either. But I stick to my starting question: what is the most rational explanation of the existent sources we have, their contents, their language and appearance, and their fitting in the rest we know about ancient Palestine.

Again reasserting the high probability of 85/15 while challenging for an alternative explanation. Of course an alternative explanation is not logically needed to doubt an existing one. I do not need to have a more rational explanation for how babies are made to doubt Storks create them. 

1 hour ago, CharonY said:

I am not a scholar on this subject and therefore am not able properly evaluate the subject myself. However, I do seem to read Eise's posts differently than you do. My interpretation is that a) on balance mainstream historians evaluate existing information in favour of a person like Jesus Christ having existed and b) that the Christ myth theory is generally held by a fringe. I may have missed the point where Eise claimed that historians know Jesus to be real (which would be a somewhat odd claim for researchers of the antiquity to begin with), but from the latter posts this is what I am getting.

The above quotes are examples of the "higher levels of certainty than can be produced" I referenced in the post you quoted. Eise isn't saying they believe Jesus probably existed but rather are saying that Jesus in fact "very probably" existed and the facts bare that out. Eise is putting the highest level of probability on it as they possibly can with the understanding that 100% isn't possible. As for Christ Myth Theory being fringe that is a matter of perspective. In my last post I listed Academics who work at University that have contributed work on the issue. The Historicity of Jesus is not a large field of study in comparison to Antiquity as a whole. Relative to those who specialize in Roman, Greek, Egyptian, and etc history I would say all Jesus Historicity scholars area bit fringe. That is why Robert Price and Bart Ehrman are so speaking and debating at the same conferences and for the same audiences. 

1 hour ago, CharonY said:

Both claims seem to be accurate and what I feel is that you add your own evaluation to the mix, which is not the equivalent of historic standards (which Eise also already pointed out). It is not unusual to use secondary sources as well as indirect evidence to assume the existence of certain persons. 

I feel Eise has outline his own Historical standard and attempting to hold everyone else to it. History is not exclusively brought out via textual translation and interpretations. Archaeology is also used. One does not study Greek history  purely based on Bible text and literary references from Roman scholars who came along later. Rather, artifacts are collected and studied. Contemporary writings are analysed. For example the Statue of Zeus st Olympia has been missing since the 5th century A.D. yet historians do not merely rely of literary descriptions of it (which there are more contemporary ones). Coins and other forms of art contemporary to the statute depicting it exist well as the discovery of the workshop where it was recorded to have been built. That is the "historic standard" I am familiar with. Can you name another historical figure who is broadly accepted as having been real despite zero contemporary writing and zero artifacts? I can think of none.

2 hours ago, CharonY said:

In addition, a cursory view of proponents supportive of the myth theory shows roughly three elements: members of secularist groups, non-academics and academics in their emeritus phase. While this does not in itself invalidate their reasoning it does seem to be rather typical for fringe views. It also does not mean that it will never become mainstream, but neither does it seem to be supported by historians working in that field. And especially the relatively high amount of emeriti publishing in that area indicates that they are not in their field to begin with. 

 

Both Robert Price, Richard Carrier, Bart Ehrman, and etc all  make money pushing their points of view on this issue view books and paid speaking engagements. There is a reason why nearly any internet search for one produces results for the others. It is a small circle of Academics doing work on this issue. Depending on which side of the issue one falls on it makes financial and marketing sense to be part of various groups and organizations. It is fair to argue it muddies the water but no conclusions can be drawn from it. 

In my opinion the whole issue of what the consensus of Historians think is intangible. Most historians are not writing essays, books, doing research, or etc on this issue. Jesus having been a real person has long been the traditional position. I personally have never read a comprehensive study where the specific view of most current history academics around the world was polled. Rather are just broadly see it stated that most historian accept Jesus was probably real. I am not sure how to quantify the claim. Which isn't to say I reject it but rather I am not sure what to make of it. If you or Eise are able to quantify it that would go a long way towards supporting the position Eise is advocating. 

Link to post
Share on other sites
On 9/19/2018 at 8:59 PM, mistermack said:

There you go again with your "majority view". It's meaningless.

16 hours ago, mistermack said:

After all, the consensus among bible historians is also that Jesus was the son of God, born of a virgin, and rose again, after being dead for three days, and ascended into heaven. 

So first you give the argument that the fact that Ehrman presents the majority view is meaningless, and then you say that what the consensus under historians is. And thereby it is flatout wrong. Where do you get that 'bible historians' believe this rubbish? You mean 'theologians'. Then you might be right, but I do not know. In modern liberal protestantism the bible stories are not taken literally. (Just to add again: I am a naturalist, and in most practical meanings of the word, an atheist.)

15 hours ago, Ten oz said:

I do not need to have a more rational explanation for how babies are made to doubt Storks create them.

Compare a theory that is clearly impossible (storks create babies), with "the most rational explanation of the existent sources we have, their contents, their language and appearance, and their fitting in the rest we know about ancient Palestine". Where is the impossibility? Again, you do not recognise the different methods that must be used between different sciences.

And I just want to repeat again: Ehrman gets the heaviest attacks from fundamentalist theologians. There is even a website devoted to 'Ehrman criticism' (the Ehrman-project). Pity enough mostly videos, only a few annotated articles. Even Carrier has written that he thinks Ehrman's Jesus, Interrupted and Forged are great books. Why? I assume because Ehrman leaves next to nothing from traditional Christian theology, based on textual criticism of the New Testament, and on what we know about how it was decided in the period 75-400 BCE which texts are 'inspired', true (so no falsifications) and belong in the new testament.

And one thing (again): you (and Mistermack even more) seem to think that historians applying the critical-historical method, are not aware of any of your arguments: that nobody knows who wrote the gospels, that all authors had a theological agenda, that a lot of documents are forged, changed, etc. 

16 hours ago, Ten oz said:

As for Christ Myth Theory being fringe that is a matter of perspective.

Same holds for vaccination, 9/11, climate deniers...

Link to post
Share on other sites
23 hours ago, mistermack said:

Agreed. My own conclusion is that bible historians are making far too much of some very dubious evidence

What please do you mean by a bible historian?

 

A friend I went to school with spent his working life as a family solicitor, playing the local church organ for recreation.

When he retired he went on to do an MSc in Bible Study  at a college of London University, for interest.

What is this I asked?, you are not religous.

He said that the course was not about the religious substance of the Bible, it was a an analytical study of the book from a historical/archaeological and point of view, comparing what was in it with other known material from the region and times and of course with itself.

Looking over his shoulder as he progressed, I was amazed by the truly scientific nature of the course and the conclusion reached and taught.

I learned many things.

 

So what sort of person is you bible historian?

 

Would he or she survive such a course?

Edited by studiot
Link to post
Share on other sites
38 minutes ago, Eise said:

Same holds for vaccination, 9/11, climate deniers...

Nope, I can quantify what the majority view is among scientists for vaccination, 9/11, and climate. For vaccinations I could get on on the CDC, NCBI, ECDC, WHO or etc site and read thousands upon thousands of studies conducted all over the world. For 9/11 there is an official commission report which included interviews with over 1,200 in 10 countries. For Climate Change I could read endless studies done by NASA, NOAA, DOD, IPCC, and etc. The majority view on those issue is easily accessible. Numerous  comprehensive studies including the work of scientists across the globe are abundant for vaccination, 9/11, and climate. The majority view on Jesus's historicity is not as well studied. You can not direct me to numerous international partnership studies and professional agencies who have researched Jesus's historicity specifically.

As I posted early "I personally have never read a comprehensive study where the specific view of most current history academics around the world was polled. Rather are just broadly see it stated that most historian accept Jesus was probably real. I am not sure how to quantify the claim. Which isn't to say I reject it but rather I am not sure what to make of it".

35 minutes ago, studiot said:

He said that the course was not about the religious substance of the Bible, it was a an analytical study of the book from a historical/archaeological and point of view, comparing what was in it with other known material from the region and times and of course with itself.

What you have stated here I agree with. One should not dismiss a Historian simply because they studied at Seminary. A lot of history is studied and understand this way. As it relates to Jesus specifically though there is not a single known contemporary artifact from his life. No art work of him, no tomb, no writings about him or by him, no known location of dwelling, etc ,etc. Nothing physical to compare anything to. On the archaeological side there is basically nothing. There is just the Gospels written decades after Jesus's life to be compared against themselves. 

Link to post
Share on other sites
32 minutes ago, Ten oz said:

What you have stated here I agree with. One should not dismiss a Historian simply because they studied at Seminary. A lot of history is studied and understand this way. As it relates to Jesus specifically though there is not a single known contemporary artifact from his life. No art work of him, no tomb, no writings about him or by him, no known location of dwelling, etc ,etc. Nothing physical to compare anything to. On the archaeological side there is basically nothing. There is just the Gospels written decades after Jesus's life to be compared against themselves. 

 

And what language were those 'Gospels' written in?

And who wrote them and where were they written and what did the Romans write about those people and............

And for my friend, what else is in the Bible  (depending upon which one you take).

 

Some of the answers were very  suprising.

Perhaps you should look at this formal course?

 

Edited by studiot
Link to post
Share on other sites
15 minutes ago, studiot said:

 

And what language were those 'Gospels' written in?

And who wrote them and where were they written and what did the Romans write about those people and............

And for my friend, what else is in the Bible  (depending upon which one you take).

 

Some of the answers were very  suprising.

Perhaps you should look at this formal course?

 

Paul wrote in a variant of Greek. Authorship of most of the Gospels is unknown however so who is to say whether the earliest versions of them are originals or not? What do you think Roman said of the authors of Mark, Luke, Mathew and John ? We do not even know who those authors were or how many of them there were. Romans said nothing about Jesus contemporary to his life. Several decade after Jesus's life Romans made references to Christians but not Jesus individually. 

Link to post
Share on other sites
6 minutes ago, Ten oz said:

Several decade after Jesus's life Romans made references to Christians but not Jesus individually. 

I can't believe that the Romans wrote nothing detailed about Christianity and Christ after the Roman emperor 'converted' the empire to Christianity.

Link to post
Share on other sites
7 minutes ago, studiot said:

I can't believe that the Romans wrote nothing detailed about Christianity and Christ after the Roman emperor 'converted' the empire to Christianity.

That was 300yrs after Jesus was said to have lived. 

Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, studiot said:

Looking over his shoulder as he progressed, I was amazed by the truly scientific nature of the course and the conclusion reached and taught.         I learned many things.

So what sort of person is you bible historian?

Would he or she survive such a course?

The sort of person who can study bible history, get a degree, doctorate, design and set that very course that you mentioned, and yet STILL believe that Jesus was the son of God, born of a virgin, died and rose again after three days of being dead, and ascended into heaven. 

Unless of course, it was set by an atheist. Possible, but not very likely.  

Link to post
Share on other sites
6 minutes ago, Ten oz said:

That was 300yrs after Jesus was said to have lived. 

So what, most of the 'Bible', was written several hundred years before Jesus was born.

Are you claiming that there were no Roman tax records for Jesus?

3 minutes ago, mistermack said:

The sort of person who can study bible history, get a degree, doctorate, design and set that very course that you mentioned, and yet STILL believe that Jesus was the son of God, born of a virgin, died and rose again after three days of being dead, and ascended into heaven. 

Unless of course, it was set by an atheist. Possible, but not very likely.  

So are you interested in the content of that course or do you just want to sneer at it?

Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Eise said:

So first you give the argument that the fact that Ehrman presents the majority view is meaningless, and then you say that what the consensus under historians is. And thereby it is flatout wrong. Where do you get that 'bible historians' believe this rubbish? You mean 'theologians'. Then you might be right, but I do not know. In modern liberal protestantism the bible stories are not taken literally. (Just to add again: I am a naturalist, and in most practical meanings of the word, an atheist.)

Even the most remotely Christian debaters I've seen, who readily admit that the gospels are just stories, still say that if Jesus didn't rise from the dead, the religion is a nothing. 

2 minutes ago, studiot said:

So are you interested in the content of that course or do you just want to sneer at it?

Both.  :)

Link to post
Share on other sites
16 minutes ago, studiot said:

Are you claiming that there were no Roman tax records for Jesus?

I assume this is a Gospel of Luke reference? No, to my knowledge there are no Roman tax records of Jesus contemporary to his life. If there is that would be excellent evidence that he existed. Do you have a citation for such?

Link to post
Share on other sites
13 minutes ago, Ten oz said:

I assume this is a Gospel of Luke reference?

I can't see how you can reasonably draw that conclusion.
The Gospel of Luke is not a Roman document.

 

But we do have various stories from various occupied peoples (and Romans themselves) to the effect that not only were the Romans great chroniclers, they were also efficient tax collectors and that they kept meticulous (for their time) tax records - some of which are still available in Museums and other repositories of historic material.

They had a record of Joseph (or people like him), so why would they not have had a record of Jesus, if he existed?

 

Edited by studiot
Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.