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Did Christianity start with a real human Jesus?


mistermack
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On 9/23/2018 at 2:16 PM, Eise said:

But why would Matthew and Luke go into such a trouble to explain that he grew up in Nazareth, but was born in Bethlehem?

It's pure speculation, trying to second-guess motives from 2,000 years ago, of people who were making stories up and embellishing current ones, but as it's all we've got, here goes :

On 9/23/2018 at 2:16 PM, Eise said:

Now according to the old testament, the 'Messiah' would be born in Bethlehem.

Matthew 2:23 | View whole chapter | See verse in context
And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene.
 
So have him satisfying both sets of prophecies. Born in Bethlehem, brought up in Nazareth. That's what I would do, if I was inventing a Jesus figure. What was ACTUALLY going on in their heads could be literally anything. Of course, the truth could be one possibility. But just one of a huge number. And we do know that the truth was not highly prized at the time.
Edited by mistermack
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On 9/24/2018 at 5:11 AM, Ten oz said:

Rather we have accounts of people who literally claim to have sat down and read things written by the hand of pre-socratic philosphers. So there are first hand accounts of people interacting with works written contemporary to their lives. In the absence of contemporary artifacts first hand accounts of interaction with contemporary artifacts is the next best thing. Through those accounts we have  reason to believe  contemporary artifacts had existed and were available for some time.

That has to be qualified and I will note that while I am not a historian myself, my discussion with actual historians (though admittedly most with expertise in the middle ages rather than antique) are closer to what Eise described rather than the methodology that you propose.  Especially for non high-level figures with extensive records, often references via secondary sources are used. What the historians look at is the sum of evidence to weigh whether it is sufficient to ascertain the existence of such a person. Referencing the same person in similar regional context, even after death, increases the likelihood of their existence for example. The main point being that historians also weigh the likelihood of records (contemporary or not) existing in the first place to ascertain historic presence. I.e. a king with few supporting records is less likely than a minor noble or peasant with the same quality of records. But as Eise said, it is typically a judgement call to a certain degree. 

Lets talk Socrates, for example. Evidence from his existence are exclusively secondary sources, say, the play "The Clouds" by Aristophanes, which references Socrates as a character. Perhaps more importantly, Plato and Xenophon have writings about Socrates. However, the writings originated after the death of Socrates (unless I get the timing wrong) and AFAIK all surviving writings are only conserved as copies made way later. So what is the evidence that Socrates existed in the first place rather as there are no surviving contemporary artifacts or even writings originating from Socrates?

Essentially we are down to the fact that people who had surviving writings (even if only as copies) referenced the person and who had lived around the same time. Subsequent writers take his existence for granted which leaves little doubt that Socrates as person existed. The historicity around him is far less certain, though (which is known as the socratic problem). So to summarize, the existence of Socrates is pretty much taken for granted. They are based on secondary accounts. However, those accounts are by folks who reasonably could have interacted with him (though there is no archaeological or artifactial evidence) as well as records that were produced way later indicating that at least around that time there is no evidence that would invalidate the existence of such a person. So here we have a character where historians are pretty sure to have existed.

Now, regarding the historicity of Jesus, it is pretty telling that criticisms are only from the fringe. Of course you could speculate that it is because all mainstream historians involved are religious to some degree and therefore biases. It is strange that among the critics they did not work on the topic during their main research phase, though.

Evidence for the existence of Jesus include records of Christian cults a few decades after Jesus' death, indicating that at least someone founded these goups. Tacitus is often cited as providing evidence that these groups existed during lifetime of Jesus and referred to Pontius Pilate. Josephus' records, is another source for the existence of Jesus, though historians also assume that it is heavily altered from the original text. Nonetheless at least the reference to early Christians and Jesus are considered to be authentic. Both texts originated significantly after the death of Jesus, but source analysis by historians deem them to be significant enough to corroborate roughly the time Christianity originated and favours in positively to the existence of a figurehead. The important thing to remember is that while they are not as accurate as contemporary accounts, secondary sources still have access to records that are lost to us now. The way you describe it, seems that historians mainly consider contemporary records, which is not the case at all. Ehrman meanwhile made a very good point that there are roughly half a dozen independent accounts referring to Jesus (some only a few decades after his death). 

Effectively there is huge body of evidence indicating that Christianity originated roughly around the time in line in which Jesus would have lived. Further, there are several references to Jesus as the originator of this group, but no real alternative founders have been put forward. Based on my limited knowledge I would think that these and probably further reasons historians favour the existence of Jesus as a person (or at least someone who was named thus). If we take Socrates with 99% certainty, then 80% does not seem too far off. But certainly it is above 50%. Not that these numbers would make any sense.  Note that the details of Jesus biography are up for debate, but the evidence is clearly weighed against the person being purely a myth. As such I think Eise's assessment of the consensus among historians is pretty much on point. 

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1 hour ago, CharonY said:

Lets talk Socrates, for example.

Nearly everything I have ever read about Socrates generally notes that he potentially could be an invention of Plato. Like Jesus is it possible Socrates wasn't real. There is dispute related to him. So it is an apt comparison but doesn't really make anything clearer.

https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/socrates/

1 hour ago, CharonY said:

Evidence for the existence of Jesus include records of Christian cults a few decades after Jesus' death, indicating that at least someone founded these goups. Tacitus is often cited as providing evidence that these groups existed during lifetime of Jesus and referred to Pontius Pilate. Josephus' records, is another source for the existence of Jesus, though historians also assume that it is heavily altered from the original text. Nonetheless at least the reference to early Christians and Jesus are considered to be authentic.

I have never disputed that both the Tacitus and Josephus references are authentic. Rather that they are proof of that Christians exist during their time and not of a human Jesus specifically. Neither Tacitus and Josephus were contemporary to Jesus and neither claimed that Jesus was real or claimed to have directly interacted with anything belonging to Jesus. They don't claim anything about Jesus. Rather their writings are about Christians in general. 

1 hour ago, CharonY said:

Effectively there is huge body of evidence indicating that Christianity originated roughly around the time in line in which Jesus would have lived.

This is not in dispute. 

1 hour ago, CharonY said:

Further, there are several references to Jesus as the originator of this group, but no real alternative founders have been put forward

Who are those "several" references? There is also no alternative father to Jesus than God. lack on an alternate theory for something doesn't prove anything specifically. 

Edited by Ten oz
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13 hours ago, mistermack said:

It's pure speculation, trying to second-guess motives from 2,000 years ago, of people who were making stories up and embellishing current ones, but as it's all we've got, here goes :

Matthew 2:23 | View whole chapter | See verse in context
And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene.
 
So have him satisfying both sets of prophecies. Born in Bethlehem, brought up in Nazareth. That's what I would do, if I was inventing a Jesus figure. What was ACTUALLY going on in their heads could be literally anything. Of course, the truth could be one possibility. But just one of a huge number. And we do know that the truth was not highly prized at the time.

Wrong. Very wrong

First: Again, you really seem to think that historians are stupid. Such an obvious error would go unnoticed? I repeat: at the moment you behave like a relativity theory crackpot.

Second: I wrote: "Now according to the old testament, the 'Messiah' would be born in Bethlehem." Made it bold for you. Matthew is the new testament.

Third: No historian would take such a passage seriously, on the simple ground that it makes the gospel of Matthew its own authority. In Matthew this prophecy is mentioned, and wow!, Jesus is actually born in Bethlehem and brought up in Nazareth! A miracle! Of course historians do not let this pass: prophesy and fulfillment in the same source, and exactly in line with what Christian would like to believe, so extremely probably highly biased. Add to it that historians do not buy into magical things like prophecies (except prophecies in hindsight ;)), this passage is worthless. You know that, and the historians know that.

To add to it: the word 'Nazerene' and 'Nazareth' appear only in the new testament. And as addition to the addition: 'Bethlehem' has many mentionings in the old testament.

Fourth: here the 'real prophesy', this time really from the old testament:

Micah 5 English Standard Version (ESV):

Quote

The Ruler to Be Born in Bethlehem
1 Now muster your troops, O daughter of troops;
    siege is laid against us;
with a rod they strike the judge of Israel
    on the cheek.
2  But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah,
    who are too little to be among the clans of Judah,
from you shall come forth for me
    one who is to be ruler in Israel,
whose coming forth is from of old,
    from ancient days.

Further, I would suggest that red or green points are given based on the quality of posts, not if you agree with it or not. If somebody shows (s)he understood the posts (s)he is reacting on, builds an argument, is on topic etc, then the post is OK. If I would give a negative point e.g. to Ten oz everytime I would not agree with him, he would be deeply, deeply red! Also, in this sense, I find it telling that e.g. Itoero gets positive points for very bad arguments, and for postings in ill faith. Where CharonY writes thoughtful long posts and gets a negative point for it! If you do not agree with him/her, then give good arguments against his/hers! I personally found your posting very bad based on hubris in respect to historians, and the obvious error that your citation was not from the old testament (which you should have noticed yourself).

And I apologise already in case it was not you giving these unrightful points. Then my addressee is unknown, and I hope (s)he will read this, and correct his/her behaviour.

Edited by Eise
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2 hours ago, Eise said:

Second: I wrote: "Now according to the old testament, the 'Messiah' would be born in Bethlehem." Made it bold for you. Matthew is the new testament.

Third: No historian would take such a passage seriously, on the simple ground that it makes the gospel of Matthew its own authority.

Matthew is the new testament. But he's the one you're taking seriously, when you discuss the Nazareth question. You should try to be a bit more consistent. You are rubbishing his writing here, but relying on it as a clue. If no historian would take his gospel seriously, then it's case closed. You're just cherry picking from the gospels, in the same way that your beloved "consensus" has done for years. 

Matthew wrote " that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene." That shows his motivation. Whether it's right or not is immaterial. You posed the question why. You have your answer.

Having said that, if Matthew got it wrong, you would have thought that he would have been called out on it at the time.

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35 minutes ago, mistermack said:

You're just cherry picking from the gospels, in the same way that your beloved "consensus" has done for years. 

I am still waiting for the" Consensus" view to be quantified. I do see it stated that a consensus exists on wikipedia or in various articles about Jesus's Historicity yet nothing ever cites an actually study or even a poll taken among academics. I found a BBC article citing a Church of England poll showing that 40% of people in the UK believe Jesus was a myth. , I couldn't find any sort of poll conducted here in the U.S. dealing specifically with whether or not Jesus was a person but did find an old Gallup poll from 2002 stating that 80% of the U.S. believed Jesus was in fact the son of god or otherwise divine. . Of course these aren't polls of what scholars think and provide no true insight into what the consensus among scholars looks like today. Even more frustrating is that every search leads back to the same small, comically small, pool of people. Several PhD's have their own blogs primarily devoted to marketing their own books on the matter or Church but everyone seems to cite either Ehrman or Carrier while making their case. 

I am not even denying a consensus exists. Just as am not claiming Jesus did not exist. Rather I am asking for the proof and in return am referencing arguments about which types of philosophical methodologies I should consider superior. I  tired of the notion of a consensus being used without it being quantified. It is just am additional piece of inconclusive information which muddies the already cloudy water. An academic consensus which can only be stated but not shown hold no weight in this conversation. Some sort of research or poll of a broad group of academics  needs to be cited or Eise needs to drop that talking point.  

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2 hours ago, mistermack said:

But he's the one you're taking seriously, when you discuss the Nazareth question.

Only seriously insofar one must wonder why he, and Luke, make things so difficult when they could just have stated that Jesus was from Bethlehem. As pure fantasy this would have been much easier.

2 hours ago, mistermack said:

If no historian would take his gospel seriously, then it's case closed.

Historians do not take it serious as a precise chronicle. But they look for conspicuous parts in the new testament. The fact that 2 gospel writers bend their birth story in unnecessary and different ways is such a conspicuous aspect. That Jesus was called 'of Nazareth' is also attested in John and Acts. But the messiah was supposed to be born in Bethlehem (see the Micah text I cited in my previous post). Another example is that obviously Mark used at least partially Aramaic sources, shows that he at least wrote down something that he had read or heard from other, Aramaic sources. 

2 hours ago, mistermack said:

You're just cherry picking from the gospels

No, I am not. Again, historians try to understand why the gospels were written as they were, and draw their conclusions from text analysis and from text comparisons. Then they have to filter out everything that can simply be explained by religious bias (which is nearly everything), but then they are still left with a few funny facts, in this case: why not just writing that Jesus was born in Bethlehem? Why lie about where he is born? (Yes, historians are convinced this is a lie, in both versions).

And also the prophecy you cite is a partial lie, and doesn't pass the religious bias filter. Nazareth is never mentioned in the old testament. (Do a search in Biblegate, you will see). But Bethlehem is mentioned a lot, must have been an important town already in old testament times. In the end, as Luke writes, it was the city of David:

Quote

The first book of Samuel portrays David as the youngest of the eight sons of Jesse of Bethlehem.

In other words, it is Matthew's and Luke's religious bias, that make these passages interesting. Why were they not more consistent in their bias? Maybe because they dared not to change the well known fact that Jesus was from Nazareth?

In your post you do not show that you not even understand why historians conclude that Jesus was born in Nazareth. 

(Just for the record: this is just one argument to assume that Jesus really existed.)

 

On 9/24/2018 at 1:11 PM, Ten oz said:

What we know comes from primarily fragments written by philosophers who had studied their work. The reason why their work could be studied is because they were known to have written housed in libraries and studied by others over time. Primary sources are not of a oral nature recorded by a third party. Rather we have accounts of people who literally claim to have sat down and read things written by the hand of pre-socratic philosphers. So there are first hand accounts of people interacting with works written contemporary to their lives

On 9/24/2018 at 4:38 PM, Ten oz said:

Additionally there are first had accounts by people who claim to have read writings written by their hands. 

23 hours ago, Eise said:

Citation please.

21 hours ago, Ten oz said:

I did not find anything in your link that supports your claims. But maybe that is just me. Please cite the exact texts that support your point. I cited a few fragments of Aristotle himself, and pointed you to where I found them, and where the other fragments that are related to Thales can be found. All these fragments were written hundreds of years after Thales was supposed to live.

 

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6 hours ago, Eise said:

I repeat: at the moment you behave like a relativity theory crackpot.

Pot? Kettle???

You asked why Matthew would have him coming from Nazareth. I posted why, in Matthew's OWN WORDS. Your response is that Matthew is lying about that. And your argument appears to be, why would they bother to lie. This is pretty much as crackpot as it gets. If Matthew and Mark lied about Bethlehem, what else are they lying about? Like, maybe about someone who didn't exist? 

The Jesus story could easily have started out as a "Son of God" cult, stories about a heavenly son of God. This is perfectly possible, it happens all the time. Greek, Roman, Egyptian, Norse, they all made up stories about Gods having sons and daughters. Sometimes with human mothers. The Jews were not special. Just look at all the different Jewish cults at the time.

Then people decide the Son of God story went better with a human link, and bingo, the embellishment starts. Match it to various folklore to give it credibility.

That's why there is no earlier mention of a real Jesus, and why Paul ignores Jesus the man. 

Your arguments are so contrived. "Why would these liars tell this particular lie?" and "why would Paul hardly mention the real son of god, who lived for thirty years on Earth, just a few years ago?"   Of course he wouldn't. 

And you call my posts crackpot.  :D You certainly are single-minded. I grant you that.

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2 hours ago, Eise said:

did not find anything in your link that supports your claims. But maybe that is just me. Please cite the exact texts that support your point. I cited a few fragments of Aristotle himself, and pointed you to where I found them, and where the other fragments that are related to Thales can be found. All these fragments were written hundreds of years after Thales was supposed to live.

Quote

 

1. Who Were the Presocratic Philosophers?

Our understanding of the Presocratics is complicated by the incomplete nature of our evidence. Most of them wrote at least one “book” (short pieces of prose writing, or, in some cases, poems), but no complete work survives. Instead, we are dependent on later philosophers, historians, and compilers of collections of ancient wisdom for disconnected quotations (fragments) and reports about their views (testimonia). In some cases, these sources had direct access to the works of the Presocratics, but in many others, the line is indirect and often depends on the work of Hippias, Aristotle, Theophrastus, Simplicius, and other ancient philosophers who did have such access. The sources for the fragments and testimonia made selective use of the material available to them, in accordance with their own special, and varied, interests in the early thinkers. (For analyses of the doxographic tradition, and the influence of Aristotle and Theophrastus on later sources, see Mansfeld 1999, Runia 2008, and Mansfeld and Runia 1997, 2009a, and 2009b.) Although any account of a Presocratic thinker has to be a reconstruction, we should not be overly pessimistic about the possibility of reaching a historically responsible understanding of these early Greek thinkers.

 

 

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4 hours ago, Ten oz said:

I am not even denying a consensus exists.

Rather obviously in no discipline you will have a poll among scientists on a particular subject. Climate change is probably one of the few exception as it became a highly politicized subject. However, I asked folks about some well-respected historians (alive or relatively recently deceased) on the subject and names include: Geze Vermes, Paula Fredriksen, Marcus Borg, John Crossan and to some degree Burton Mack. Meanwhile, proponents of the Christian Myth theory highlighted in this thread seem to include on person who actually had training as a historian but no academic appointment.

Quote

Who are those "several" references? 

I thought they were mentioned earlier, but from as a summary (and based on a cursory reading): Mark, Matthew, Luke and John. While Matthew and Luke are using part of Mark,  they also include independent (but unknown) source materials not found in Mark. This is referred to as the "Q" theory, which assumes that there is at least a fifth, lost source. These canonical gospels originated a few decades after Jesus deaths and draw from mostly independent accounts. There seem to be also later sources up to ca. 120 AD, but I frankly do not have the time or inclination to invest any more time on this matter.

As a general note (not to you Ten Ox) and to restate what Eise said to another post: historians are not idiots. They do not take their sources literally but interpret it in comparison with other sources. Historians do not take the supernatural parts as real, but contextualize them in the framework of existing beliefs to understand why they wrote something. Specifically the Nazareth example is one of those case where historians perk up as it appears that the different authors twist their own sources but agree on a specific event makes the latter more likely. There a lot of those cues used by historians, including e.g. the criterion of embarrassment. I.e. if an author recounts an event that is a source of embarrassment for them, it is more likely not invented. There many more of those elements in a historian's work and it is silly to assume that they would use their source as written. As usual, context matters and more so for history.

 

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18 minutes ago, CharonY said:

Rather obviously in no discipline you will have a poll among scientists on a particular subject. Climate change is probably one of the few exception as it became a highly politicized subject. However, I asked folks about some well-respected historians (alive or relatively recently deceased) on the subject and names include: Geze Vermes, Paula Fredriksen, Marcus Borg, John Crossan and to some degree Burton Mack. Meanwhile, proponents of the Christian Myth theory highlighted in this thread seem to include on person who actually had training as a historian but no academic appointment.

A poll, no, but joint research among hundreds if not thousands is common. When people mention the consensus surrounding Climate Change one can quickly reference the joint work of thousands of scientists working for NOAA, NASA, DOD, IPCC, the U.N., and etc. The consensus can be review and quantified. 

 

22 minutes ago, CharonY said:

I thought they were mentioned earlier, but from as a summary (and based on a cursory reading): Mark, Matthew, Luke and John.

 Who wrote those? 

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14 minutes ago, Ten oz said:

A poll, no, but joint research among hundreds if not thousands is common. When people mention the consensus surrounding Climate Change one can quickly reference the joint work of thousands of scientists working for NOAA, NASA, DOD, IPCC, the U.N., and etc. The consensus can be review and quantified. 

 

And as I said, this is a special case. I can name dozens of topics in my area where a consensus has formed regarding specific mechanisms but only involved perhaps a few dozen active researchers at most. And this is experimental work. Trying to apply that standard universally and especially in history does not work. 

16 minutes ago, Ten oz said:

Who wrote those? 

Not sure why it would matter. What historians read from those is that they are (based on source analysis) independent accounts (i.e. not just copies of each other) which allows them to identify cohesive as well as differing aspects of events.

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51 minutes ago, CharonY said:

And as I said, this is a special case. I can name dozens of topics in my area where a consensus has formed regarding specific mechanisms but only involved perhaps a few dozen active researchers at most. And this is experimental work. Trying to apply that standard universally and especially in history does not work. 

The Historicity of Jesus is not its own discipline to itself like Antiquity or Egyptology. Because of that I do not know what to make of said "consensus". I cannot quantify so for the sake of this conversation where only the work of few scholars has been cited (Carrier, Ehrman, Price, Brodie, etc)  I see no relevance of arguing about the said consensus. Moreover a consensus doesn't make something true anyway.  As mentioned a few posts back the Historicity of Jesus is really only labored over by a small network of people. Again, I am not even denying a consensus exists. Rather I am simply saying that since no one here can quantify it the consensus has no value in the discussion. 

51 minutes ago, CharonY said:

Not sure why it would matter. What historians read from those is that they are (based on source analysis) independent accounts (i.e. not just copies of each other) which allows them to identify cohesive as well as differing aspects of events.

You honestly don't believe that who wrote them would have any barring on the analysis? Probabilities and guesstimates normally become more accurate with more data. Who isn't data which they currently have so the best guesstimates don't include them. I think it is obvious that if that data existed it would absolutely be included. There is a meaningful difference between doing without something because you have no choice and doing without something because you don't need it. 

Edited by Ten oz
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1 hour ago, Ten oz said:

You honestly don't believe that who wrote them would have any barring on the analysis? Probabilities and guesstimates normally become more accurate with more data. Who isn't data which they currently have so the best guesstimates don't include them. I think it is obvious that if that data existed it would absolutely be included. There is a meaningful difference between doing without something because you have no choice and doing without something because you don't need it. 

It does not matter in that case as, from what I understand, the evidence derived from that data is not based on the assumption that the original authors had direct interaction with Jesus, for example (in which case it would be crucial to know how they were). Rather because there are multiple fragmentary evidences pointing to the same person. Of course, actually knowing the authors would help the case, but not knowing them has no bearing on the aforementioned fact. Again, the main element is the relationship between the provided sources.

There are many cases in which historicity of figures are assumed by association with other sources. Gilgamesh is an example, due to the mentioning in context with evidence Emmebaragesi, which corroborate the possibility of the existence of Gilgamesh as a real person. As such, that mention was sufficient to tip the scale from mythical to possibly real. Which is considerable as Gilgamesh cannot be considered a minor figure.

 

1 hour ago, Ten oz said:

The Historicity of Jesus is not its own discipline to itself like Antiquity or Egyptology.

So folks who are considered to be researchers on the topic of the historic Jesus are working on a non-discipline. Hope the tenure board considered that.

1 hour ago, Ten oz said:

I cannot quantify so

That is why you ask historians. You and I are not, so that is why I asked one. At the very least Eise provided some evidence (even if only from wikipedia) on the consensus on the Mythical Jesus. You provided nothing equivalent. Again, it does not matter what you and I think on it, we are not trained.

2 hours ago, Ten oz said:

Moreover a consensus doesn't make something true anyway.

Why the heck did you repeatedly criticized Eise for not providing (for you) sufficient evidence of a consensus. It is quite annoying that you demand more information, which I provide as it marginally piqued my interest and then to dismiss it out of hand. Why waste everyone's time?

2 hours ago, Ten oz said:

Rather I am simply saying that since no one here can quantify it the consensus has no value in the discussion.

Yes indeed. And if it was disputed in historic circles there would be substantial discussion about it. Meanwhile specialists (i.e. working historians) provide various accounts on the view of a historic Jesus and most other historians state that is probably the current view of the field. That is what is called consensus. It is merely the most accurate representation of experts on a given field. It does not matter whether field consists of a dozen or a thousand folks. That is just how science works. If one side of the argument is presented by professionals and another side by bloggers I know how I would weigh the sources. And given the roundabout dismissal, I think that the discussion has run its course, at least for me.

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On 9/21/2018 at 1:09 PM, mistermack said:

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.

And that's great.  Such accomplishments should be applauded not derided.  That's  years of in depth examination of not only biblical text, but the original languages and how it all relates to the  historical, cultural and circumstantial context of the time period.  It's not like these people are spending hundreds of credit hours playing church.

You already alluded to Ehrman's agnosticism, so using him is a bad example of a biased christian historian and counters your own argument anyway.  But regardless of whether or not one believes, they can still present objective arguments that  speak for themselves without you having to rely on their bias.

 

On 9/21/2018 at 1:09 PM, mistermack said:

This is where your precious consensus is coming from.

And these are most likely the same people you rely on when making statements about which books are authentic and which ones are forgeries among other discrepancies people like to parrot.  In your OP you mention the "Proper historians."  Who are the proper historians?  Are they only proper when they appeal to your bias?

 

6 hours ago, mistermack said:

why would Paul hardly mention the real son of god, who lived for thirty years on Earth

QED

I predicted you'd do this again.  We've already discussed this at length  6-7 pages ago, so rather than rehashing it all over again, I'll just link back to the basic summary highlighted in red and blue in the post linked below:

 

On 9/25/2018 at 2:48 PM, Ten oz said:

I have never disputed that both the Tacitus and Josephus references are authentic. Rather that they are proof of that Christians exist during their time and not of a human Jesus specifically. Neither Tacitus and Josephus were contemporary to Jesus and neither claimed that Jesus was real

It's implied in their writings that he actually existed, so why would they have to make a separate and specific claim that he actually existed?  Personally, it would seem very suspicious if they did.  It's not like people go around claiming that people actually exist before/after talking about them.  That would just be a bit weird.

It'd probably go something like this:
"May I remind you that Jesus was put to death by our very own! And just in case you were wondering, I do not lie!  This Jesus man I speak of actually existed!"

It could've very well been common knowledge that he was real, so there was no reason to question it, nor claim it.

 

On 9/25/2018 at 2:48 PM, Ten oz said:

They don't claim anything about Jesus.

Tacitus:
"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

This also counters your earlier statement that "there is evidence Pontius Pilate was a real person but Pilate's only connection to Jesus is through Paul's writings."

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tacitus_on_Christ#The_passage_and_its_context

 

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16 minutes ago, CharonY said:

It does not matter in that case as, from what I understand, the evidence derived from that data is not based on the assumption that the original authors had direct interaction with Jesus, for example (in which case it would be crucial to know how they were). Rather because there are multiple fragmentary evidences pointing to the same person. Of course, actually knowing the authors would help the case, but not knowing them has no bearing on the aforementioned fact. Again, the main element is the relationship between the provided sources.

There are many cases in which historicity of figures are assumed by association with other sources. Gilgamesh is an example, due to the mentioning in context with evidence Emmebaragesi, which corroborate the possibility of the existence of Gilgamesh as a real person. As such, that mention was sufficient to tip the scale from mythical to possibly real. Which is considerable as Gilgamesh cannot be considered a minor figure.

There are many cases where the historicity figures are assumed by association indeed. That is what the pre-socratic philosophers discussion is about only in their case known figures in history wrote of reading their work. The fragments available are not of unknown origin. If James had written a Gospel Jesus's Historicity would be very probable. James knew Jesus and Josephus, a Historian, references James as did Paul. So Jesus would be very probable via association through James. That is the sort of association we have for other historical figures we make assumptions about. Known entities referencing first person artifacts (tombs, writings, art, etc). The bar for Jesus is simply lower than that. There are more assumptions being made with less info. Saying the Gospels are "multiple fragments of evidence" implies we know all of the Gospels weren't inspired by a single persons tale. Sure the Gospels differ from each other but over time people remember things differently and stories change as they are repeated. I think it is a massive assumption to think Paul's work and the Gospels are all independent from each other. That simply is not know. 

42 minutes ago, CharonY said:

That is why you ask historians. You and I are not, so that is why I asked one. At the very least Eise provided some evidence (even if only from wikipedia) on the consensus on the Mythical Jesus. You provided nothing equivalent. Again, it does not matter what you and I think on it, we are not trained.

Eise is citing the work of a single historian, Bart Ehrman . I have read his work and the work of other Scholars who disagree with him. No one in here isn't aware of what Bart Ehrman thinks. So what am I to do just ignore the work which makes more sense in favor of the work Eise says has a consensus? If that consensus could be quantified maybe I would. I am not convinced by Bart Ehrman. He takes to much for granted and has changed his own position to dramatically over time. You literally seem to be saying I should take Bart Ehrman's word for it out of some vague sense of consensus. Can we at least get the work of some other Historians in the mix here? Should be super easy to do since there is a consensus. I have listed other Historians but you yourself dismissively referred many of them as in emeritus. I do not really see why a professor who retires but continues publishing should be ignored. It isn't like there is new information rolling in regularly on the Gospels they are missing out on by working from home. 

1 hour ago, CharonY said:

Why the heck did you repeatedly criticized Eise for not providing (for you) sufficient evidence of a consensus.

Because Eise repeats it in nearly every post. Eise is claiming the consensus makes their analysis of the info superior. If they are going to cite a consensus as support for their position than they should be able to prove a meaning consensus exists. That cannot. The extent of a consensus isn't known. 

 

1 hour ago, CharonY said:

Yes indeed. And if it was disputed in historic circles there would be substantial discussion about it.

Why? Whether or not Jesus was a flesh and blood man has zero historical significance in my opinion. Christianity is real and the story of Jesus is real and that is what matters with regards to history has consequence. Jesus as a flesh and blood man or myth changes nothing. Likewise is there any historical significance to whether or not Santa Claus is based on an actual person? If so whomever that person was didn't live at the North Pole, have flying reindeer, and etc. Just as Jesus didn't raise the dead or walk on water. Jesus historicity is inconsequential. It is Christianity which matters. 

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Dirtychai, my post about Eherman was self explanatory, you just cut out the relevant bits. Ehrman has an educational history of a seminary etc, and that is actually fairly typical of bible scholars. Not all, but a hell of a lot of them. I gave Ehrman credit for using his faculties, and abandoning the stuff he was indoctrinated with. That still doesn't make him unbiased. He's believed in a real Jesus all his life. That's a bias of sorts. He's still tainted with a lifetime of belief in that particular aspect of the faith. I wouldn't blame him, or be surprised, if contemplating a lifetime of study of someone who didn't even exist, was a jump too far. 

My use of the phrase, "proper historian" isn't mysterious, or ambiguous. Proper historians can be biased by their faith, their years of acceptance of something as a fact. It doesn't mean they aren't proper. I would have thought that you would have understood my use of the phrase to mean "non-fundie-Christian historians". You can't be a proper historian, and swear that every word in the old book is the true word of god. Although plenty claim just that. 

Again, as far as Paul goes, you completely ignored the context. Eise called me a crackpot for my posts, and that was a reminder, clearly stated, of some of the crackpot postings he's made. And no, the answer you people gave doesn't come close to being credible. You seem to think you've dealt with something, by giving a ludicrous answer. No you haven't. The problem remains. Paul's epistles are a strong sign of a non-human Jesus. And no pathetically contrived excuse for them negates that problem. 

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3 hours ago, DirtyChai said:

Tacitus:
"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

This also counters your earlier statement that "there is evidence Pontius Pilate was a real person but Pilate's only connection to Jesus is through Paul's writings."

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tacitus_on_Christ#The_passage_and_its_context

 

Tactius was describing who Christians were. 

*Edit to elaborate. Tactius was writing about a fire and how Nero had accused Christians of starting the fire. The reference to Jesus was about Christians and was not the subject matter of what Tactius was writing about. Tactius was not deliberately saying anything about Jesus other than that Christians are people who believe in Jesus, which is accurate. 

Edited by Ten oz
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19 hours ago, Ten oz said:

Most of them wrote at least one “book” (short pieces of prose writing, or, in some cases, poems), but no complete work survives.

So we take Thales. I looked it through, and found only this:

Quote

(Theophrastos, Dox. 475) Simpl. Phys, 6 r; 23, 21: (...) It is said that he left nothing in writing except a book entitled 'Nautical Astronomy.'

Theophrastos lived from circa 371 BCE to 287 BCE. Thales from 624 BCE - 546 BCE. (So about 200 years before Theophrastos .)

Do you think that if we had such a kind of reference to Jesus, his case would be much stronger? Still, historians treat Thales as a real person. 

20 hours ago, mistermack said:

Pot? Kettle???

You know what the logical implication of this is, don't you? As I just represented the view of historians, you are implying they are crackpots too. 

20 hours ago, mistermack said:

The Jesus story could easily have started out as a "Son of God" cult, stories about a heavenly son of God.

Can you show, with historical methods, that this explains the appearance of Jesus better than the historians' explanation?

21 hours ago, mistermack said:

why would Paul hardly mention the real son of god, who lived for thirty years on Earth, just a few years ago?

He does mention them, you know that. And he tells he met Peter and James, Jesus' brother. And you also know why he doesn't mention Jesus so often. Exactly as DirtyChai and CharonY said: the documents we have of Peter are letters to churches about problems that have arisen in these churches.

13 hours ago, Ten oz said:

Because Eise repeats it in nearly every post.

Yes: because you ask again and again. I answered it already the first time why I think it, and later added a citation of the Wikipedia article that you linked to.

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24 minutes ago, Eise said:

So we take Thales. I looked it through, and found only this:

We get what we know about Thales from Aristotle whom is thought to have had access to Thales work. Could some of that be inaccurate, of course. Does it matter though? What matters about Thales is his contribution to philosophy. Even then it is more clear than what we have on Jesus. Again, had Josephus (a historian) sat down and specifically wrote a bio for Jesus's life that would be very convincing evidence. Instead we have Gospels and we do not know who wrote them or for what purpose. Aristotle for Thales vs unknown Person(s) for Gospels. 

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24 minutes ago, Eise said:

Can you show, with historical methods, that this explains the appearance of Jesus better than the historians' explanation?

Historical methods would have a great spirit in the sky as the explanation for the whole shebang. There are few better attested beings from antiquity than Jehova. Then of course you have the Greek gods, very well testified too. And Allah and all the others. 

Who can deny that these gods exist, when so many people bear witness to meeting them and talking to them? Their evidence is much stronger than Jesus's. 

Of course, a great number of religious historians believe exactly that, for their own preferred version. In short, historical methods are routinely used by religious historians to say what they want them to say. They all do it. 

An historical method that insists on saying "we don't know" when they don't know, would be much easier to respect. (as Ten Oz keeps telling you) But as I pointed out earlier, religious history is totally different to civil and political history. Religious historians need to be viewed with far more suspicion of bias, because most of them ARE biased. 

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37 minutes ago, mistermack said:

Historical methods would have a great spirit in the sky as the explanation for the whole shebang. There are few better attested beings from antiquity than Jehova.

Nobody says anything about a god. As you keep repeating this, where you were already corrected several times, not just by me, this amounts to trolling. I am done with you here. 

Edited by Eise
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5 minutes ago, Eise said:

I am done with you here. 

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 words, but these clever people think so too. 

There's a consensus of clever people in the Vatican. Sorry, like a fool, I disagree with them. :(

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15 hours ago, mistermack said:

Proper historians can be biased by their faith, their years of acceptance of something as a fact. It doesn't mean they aren't proper. I would have thought that you would have understood my use of the phrase to mean "non-fundie-Christian historians".

I would also add that historians can also be biased by their lack of faith, or perhaps a determination to cast doubt on a religion that they may view as dangerous in one way or another.  A biased agnostic/atheist historian may be more determined to expose elements that may have been overlooked by chistian historians, likewise, a biased christian historian may be more determined to delve into the contextual elements and bring to light something that may've been overlooked by an agnostic/athiest historian.  Thankfully, we don't have to rely on pro/con bias since biased people are still capable of making objective arguments that speak for themselves.

 

15 hours ago, mistermack said:

And no, the answer you people gave

What do you mean, "you people?" 

 

15 hours ago, mistermack said:

You seem to think you've dealt with something, by giving a ludicrous answer. No you haven't. . .And no pathetically contrived excuse for them negates that problem

Those weren't excuses, just observations of the context illustrating what Paul was actually addressing in his letters.  Your only argument is to say that Paul should've been "saying this" and "doing that."  As I said before, It's just a very weak argument from silence - and that's being generous given that in several instances I  gave you references to where Paul actually did "say this" and "do that."    So you can keep calling my answers ludicrous, but at some point you'll have to actually address those answers specifically or it doesn't mean anything - it's something you haven't done yet, either because you can't or because you refuse to.

Again, the only ludicrous thing here is you putting Paul in a box and basically saying how dare he write anything about contemporary Christianity apart from the daily activities of Jesus's life. . .

 

15 hours ago, mistermack said:

The problem remains. Paul's epistles are a strong sign of a non-human Jesus.

Sez the guy who admittedly didn't even read the vast majority of that small collection of epistles.  It's reminiscent of creation scientists rambling on against evolution when they don't even find it worthwhile to read the origin of species.  It's the least one could do, so please excuse me if I'm more inclined to take seriously those of us that have actually taken the time to read the text we're discussing before even attempting to make "ludicrous" claims.  Not to mention those that have spent years earning a Masters/PHd in the subject.

 

15 hours ago, Ten oz said:

Tactius was writing about a fire and how Nero had accused Christians of starting the fire. The reference to Jesus was about Christians and was not the subject matter of what Tactius was writing about.

I can understand that it may not be as substantial as you'd like it to be, but you stated that Tacitus made no claim about Jesus, but he did.  He said that he "suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus."  That is a very specific claim regardless of the subject matter.

It also nullifies your claim that the only connection between Pilate and Jesus is through Paul's writings.

Are you going to own up to your minor, but careless mistake or not?

 

16 hours ago, Ten oz said:

Christianity is real and the story of Jesus is real and that is what matters with regards to history has consequence. Jesus as a flesh and blood man or myth changes nothing. Jesus historicity is inconsequential. It is Christianity which matters. 

That's a great point.  I was waiting to share a similar sentiment, but I'm glad you beat me to it.  For the most part, I think your arguments have been more honest and substanative (dare I say objective?) than others sharing a similar perspective in this thread.

Having said that, it's interesting how some of the most skeptical critics here will take as gospel, scholarly opinions that portray a negative image of scripture.  For example, some here don't seem to question the "consensus" about which books/letters are considered forgeries.  But when it comes to whether or not Jesus was real, they suddenly shout "what consensus!"  It all seems a bit disingenuous, if that's even the right word for it.  Perhaps "ignorantly biased" is more accurate?  I mean, do they even bother to look into the criteria used to deem a book/letter a forgery?  Do they look at the weakness of such arguments, or just the strengths?  Do they even bother at all?  As already demonstrated in this thread, some don't even bother reading the biblical texts they're attacking.

The point is that we're not certain.  Which is pretty much what you've been arguing the entire time.  And as you've already stated, the historicity is of little consequence, especially when considering that the entire religion is based on faith.  Christians simple apply to their daily lives certain biblical principles, and it works for them.  It provides all the personal evidence needed to sustain their faith.

While Christians are still persecuted in a few select countries around  the world, the primary source of "maltreatment" against the protected class of Christians in the U.S today (as minimal as it is) is typically limited to a perceived "embarrassment" through "intellectual mockery," if you will.  And that's nothing new - take for example Alexandros Graffito.  And Christianity has survived much worse, such as the Roman persecution by Nero in 64 C.E to the Edict of Milan in 313 C.E

If Christianity has proven anything, it's that it only grows stronger through adversity, both collectively and on an individual level as well, which is why it continues to persist.

 

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1 hour ago, DirtyChai said:

If Christianity has proven anything, it's that it only grows stronger through adversity, both collectively and on an individual level as well, which is why it continues to persist.

Don't kid yourself. The reason it continues to persist is the intensive indoctrination of innocent defenceless children. Same reason all of the religions persist. Bullying child abuse pays off. I had plenty of it, but kicked it. Most are not so fortunate.

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