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Did Christianity start with a real human Jesus?


mistermack
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13 minutes ago, dimreepr said:

Of course, he or she was real; or do you think God did it?

 Christianity existing is not proof of Jesus exiting anymore than Star Wars is proof Luke Skywalker is a real sentient human like being living in a galaxy far, far, away.  

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Just now, Ten oz said:

 Christianity existing is not proof of Jesus exiting anymore than Star Wars is proof Luke Skywalker is a real sentient human like being living in a galaxy far, far, away.  

Now you''re getting desperate... wait... did Yoda have a word? 

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Just now, dimreepr said:

You're going to have to be more specific.

The question was about the existence of a historical figure corresponding to the Jesus of the Bible. You seem to be arguing that he must have existed because the Bible says so. That is not really very compelling(for the reasons that others have pointed out and you are studiously ignoring).

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5 minutes ago, Strange said:

You seem to be arguing that he must have existed because the Bible says so. That is not really very compelling(for the reasons that others have pointed out and you are studiously ignoring).

Nope, I'm saying the Bible exists and someone wrote it, thought it, (not God)...

Edited by dimreepr
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3 minutes ago, dimreepr said:

Nope, I'm saying the Bible exists and someone wrote it, thought it, (not God)...

Which is not what this thread is about. The OP specifically asks if Jesus, as described in the gospels, was a real person. 

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A rose by any other name would smell as sweet; if the bible wasn't written by man, then who did? 

5 minutes ago, Ten oz said:

The OP specifically asks if Jesus, as described in the gospels, was a real person. 

Quote

Was there a REAL person, at the heart of the Christian religion? 

Literally the first sentence... 

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13 minutes ago, dimreepr said:

Nope, I'm saying the Bible exists and someone wrote it, thought it, (not God)...

Many people wrote it. Even people who are fairly sure Jesus existed don't think he wrote any of it (as far as I know).

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Just now, Strange said:

Many people wrote it. Even people who are fairly sure Jesus existed don't think he wrote any of it (as far as I know).

Right, Jesus isn't credited with having ever wrote anything. If Jesus had written something that would be evidence he existed.

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50 minutes ago, dimreepr said:

Of course, he or she was real; or do you think God did it?

This is where the thread falls apart for me (and others, it seems). You seem to ASSERT that 1) Jesus was obviously a real person, and 2) may have been a woman.

The next page is devoted to WTF?, to which you toss out bits of flippancy that further obfuscate the point you're trying to make.

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1 hour ago, Ten oz said:

Right, Jesus isn't credited with having ever wrote anything. If Jesus had written something that would be evidence he existed.

Not necessarily. There are works credited to Homer, but there is no evidence he existed.

1 hour ago, dimreepr said:

When did I say he did? All I have said is, "someone started it and it wasn't God" 

The thread is about the historical reality of Jesus. 

Edited by Strange
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4 hours ago, mistermack said:

Do you think Adam and Eve were real? Or Noah? What real person lies at the root of the Jewish religion?

 

No they were not real people, in this case science can be used to prove they did not exist, could not have existed and were nothing but mythology.... 

Edited by Moontanman
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On 8/14/2018 at 12:07 AM, Ten oz said:

Then separately the story of Jesus appears to be similar to other Gods like Horus and Krishna. If we strip away the similarities what is left? 

The four points I listed...

On 8/13/2018 at 3:18 PM, Ten oz said:

Rather they are just consistencies in Jesus's story.

Yes, and consistencies do not say much when they point back to the same source: Luke an Matthew knew the gospel of Marc (or all three used the same source); in Luke and Matthew some other common source is used, which can also be recognised that some of their formulations are nearly the same (this assumed source goes under the name of 'Q' (German word 'Quelle' for 'source')). But: Jesus is mentioned by a few none-Christian sources.

Also, the epistles of Paul are independent sources. The Bible is not a single book. The new testament is a collection of documents that seemed reliable to the theologians of the 4th century (and in line with their theological ideas, of course...).

On 8/13/2018 at 3:18 PM, Ten oz said:

Consistencies doesn't equal proof especially when there are more inconsistencies than consistencies

But some of the inconsistencies are telling: e.g. according to Matthew, Jesus was simply born in Bethlehem. Joseph and Maria fled to Egypt, and when they returned they went to Nazareth. In the story of Luke (the Christmas story) Joseph an Maria went to Bethlehem for a census (that according to historians never took place; also the time is wrong), and then went back to Nazareth. So in both case Jesus became 'Jesus of Nazareth'. But why the fuzz? Because there was a prophecy, saying that the 'Messiah' would be born in Bethlehem. Both authors had to twist the real facts (Jesus was born in Nazareth), to get consistent with the prophecy. But if there was no reality that Jesus was born in Nazareth there would have been no need to bend the truth. 

On 8/13/2018 at 9:46 PM, mistermack said:

He makes an awful lot of just one or two instances in Paul's epistles, where Paul says something like "I met Peter, and James, the brother of Jesus".

2 Points: 

- If Paul had meant 'brother' in the meaning of 'brothers in arms', wouldn't he have written 'Peter and James, brothers of Jesus'?

- This is the fragment in Josephus: 'and brought before them the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James, and some others'

So we have an independent source saying that James and Jesus were brothers.

On 8/14/2018 at 12:07 AM, Ten oz said:

Paul claimed to have met a resurrected Jesus during a trip to Damascus. So either Paul lied or resurrection is real.

Or he interpreted a hallucination... Paul reports about a voice coming from a light, he does not claim that he met a man, who said, "Hi, I am Jesus, and btw I am really the resurrected Christ, so please stop prosecuting my followers, instead help them to spread the truth".

On 8/13/2018 at 9:46 PM, mistermack said:

Why I can't buy the real person story, is that Paul, only 20 years after the apparent death of Jesus, and having met his supposed sidekick Peter in person, wasn't FULL of Jesus in his letters. And yet there's hardly a mention. It should have been Jesus this, Jesus that, right through from beginning to end. 20 years is not a lot, and Peter, as a suppose EYEWITNESS, should have filled him in, and given him the full lowdown on everything. Paul's letters are simply NOT the letters of someone talking about a real person.

Put yourself in Paul's position. He's dedicating his life to the cult of Jesus. He's only ever met Jesus in a blinding vision. Then he meets Peter and James. What would you do? If Jesus had been a real human, I would be extracting EVERY SCRAP of information about Jesus the man from the two of them, and writing it all down, and sharing it in my letters. If you read any of the epistles with that in mind, it just hasn't happened. It jumps off the page at you. Either he didn't meet the two of them, or they had nothing to tell him, because all the stories hadn't yet been written. There really is virtually nothing about Jesus the man, when there should have been a torrent.

That is a strong interpretation of the psychology of Paul. Fact is that the epistles are letters to churches that Paul initiated. He was traveling through the Mediterranean countries, starting Christian communities everywhere where he could. When some problems arose in one of those, he wrote his letters, addressing these problems. So the Paulean epistles are totally different from the gospels: the gospels were written (from hearsay) to record the life of Jesus; Paul's epistles are literately letters with no intention to describe the life of Jesus.  And who knows, maybe he had a (pre-)version of the gospel of Marc in his backpack? Marc was also written 30 years after Jesus' death, so it could be possible. 

I try not to be dragged in this discussion again. Mistermack, please read the thread I linked; Ten Oz, please do not repeat points that were already discussed ad nauseam there.

As a general remark: we have a lot of 'relativity-deniers or -doubters' in the physics section of these fora. What they have in common is that they do not have the physical background to even understand relativity. Now of course the proposition that 'Jesus existed' is much more insecure on methodological (history is past...) and factual (we lack really reliable sources) than relativity. But to have a good discussion, it is necessary to know what the arguments are, and how good these are. Just referring to consistencies or inconsistencies, similarities with other (legendary) figures, or hypotheses about the psychology of Paul, miss the points about what academic historians are discussing about. 

 

Edited by Eise
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13 minutes ago, Eise said:

2 Points: 

- If Paul had meant 'brother' in the meaning of 'brothers in arms', wouldn't he have written 'Peter and James, brothers of Jesus'?

- This is the fragment in Josephus: 'and brought before them the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James, and some others'

So we have an independent source saying that James and Jesus were brothers.

And that's what the real evidence for a real Jesus boils down to. I haven't been able to find anything stronger as yet. There's no denying the first. But to put it into context, Peter needed no introduction. He was Peter, the head of the Church, the top man. Every Christian would have known his name. To call him "the brother of Jesus" would have been out of the ordinary. He was just Peter. Like Madonna. Or Elvis. And it could have meant brother, as in "from the house of David" as I suggested.

The other thing about that passage, is that it comes from a scrap of paper that was written no earlier than the year 200. Probably a good deal later. Which is a copy of a copy of a copy............. of stuff written by Paul around the year 55. So to base your confidence on a real Jesus  just on that is overdoing it, I think. Anybody could have added it, in the intervening years. 

Talking of which, the Josephus passage absolutely screams forgery. It's simply obviously inserted later by a Christian. It sticks out like a sore thumb. 

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@Eise , Whether Paul had hallucinations or just knowingly made stuff up doesn't make any difference. Either way it means Paul isn't creditable. As you pointed out Luke,  Mathew, Marc all are the same source. An anonymous one at that. They are not credible enough to serve as the foundation for proof because we do not know who they are and were not contemporary to a living Jesus. Without the word of those non-contemporary anonymous authors and hallucinating Paul their isn't a Jesus at all. Non- Gospel based evidence loosely reference Christians as a group and not Jesus individually. Nothing contemporary. 

We have discussed all these points before. Your points are fine but simply are not convincing to me. They relay on assumptions. No one can say if Paul lied or hallucinated. It is guess work. Jesus could have been real or could just be fiction. I don't think evidence exits to prove either to be the definitive case. You error on the side of Jesus being real as the default/traditional position unless evidence proves otherwise. I am fine with accepting that the answer isn't known.

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31 minutes ago, Eise said:

That is a strong interpretation of the psychology of Paul. Fact is that the epistles are letters to churches that Paul initiated. He was traveling through the Mediterranean countries, starting Christian communities everywhere where he could. When some problems arose in one of those, he wrote his letters, addressing these problems. So the Paulean epistles are totally different from the gospels: the gospels were written (from hearsay) to record the life of Jesus; Paul's epistles are literately letters with no intention to describe the life of Jesus.  And who knows, maybe he had a (pre-)version of the gospel of Marc in his backpack? Marc was also written 30 years after Jesus' death, so it could be possible. 

It's not meant to be, it's my opinion of the psychology of ANYBODY. I simply can't believe that Paul would have composed those letters, only 25 years after the supposed dramas of the execution and rising from the dead of Jesus, and hardly put a word in about any of it. That REALLY is stretching my credulity too far. The religion is about Jesus. All about him rising from the dead. If it happened today, would the pope be writing an important letter with hardly a mention of it? It's just not possible. He should have been FULL of it. And Paul claiming to have met Peter and James, can hardly claim ignorance. 

 

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8 minutes ago, mistermack said:

it comes from a scrap of paper

The history of the Jews by Josephus is a scrap of paper?? Did he have microdot technology?

9 minutes ago, mistermack said:

Talking of which, the Josephus passage absolutely screams forgery. It's simply obviously inserted later by a Christian. It sticks out like a sore thumb. 

We have versions of the fragments, where Josephus sticks to the facts, without the obvious Christian additions. James and his brother Jesus are still mentioned...

And again: in such historical investigations, one should look how one hypothesis fares against others. And in this light it is just more probable that Christianity arose because there was on one side a real person, named Jesus, who was an traveling Jewish prophet, preaching that the Kingdom of God (on Earth) would come very soon; and that Paul believed this, and preached the same to gentiles everywhere he could.

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14 minutes ago, mistermack said:

And that's what the real evidence for a real Jesus boils down to. I haven't been able to find anything stronger as yet. There's no denying the first. But to put it into context, Peter needed no introduction. He was Peter, the head of the Church, the top man. Every Christian would have known his name. To call him "the brother of Jesus" would have been out of the ordinary. He was just Peter. Like Madonna. Or Elvis. And it could have meant brother, as in "from the house of David" as I suggested.

Horus, Krishna, and other gods in the virgin birth and resurrection tradition of Jesus had half siblings which play roles in their myths too.. What makes James anything more than an updated Balarama? 

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3 minutes ago, Ten oz said:

As you pointed out Luke,  Mathew, Marc all are the same source

Read better... But even if it were exactly true, it means we have one source. But it isn't, and the different ways Matthew and Luke bend the story to let Jesus be born in Bethlehem is just one example that shows that they are not totally based on the same source. Matthew and Luke refer to 'Q', Mark does not.

7 minutes ago, Ten oz said:

Whether Paul had hallucinations or just knowingly made stuff up doesn't make any difference. Either way it means Paul isn't creditable

The hallucination of Paul is of course not a proof of anything. But him mentioning Cephas ('Peter') and James fits well to Josephus. And the contents of Paul beliefs fit well to John the Baptist and specially the older gospels (in which one could still believe that the youngest day would happen in the lifetime of the contemporaries of Jesus. With the gospel of John, written at least 70 years after Jesus' death, this is not possible anymore, so you won't find it there.) You see, it is all in line with history as we know it, and the by far easiest hypothesis of the roots and the outworkings on Paul (read the problems in his churches he has to react on...) is that a person, Jesus, with an apocalyptic message, existed. 

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21 minutes ago, Eise said:

The history of the Jews by Josephus is a scrap of paper?? Did he have microdot technology?

No, the scrap of paper I referred to is the earliest papyrus of Paul's epistle. 

21 minutes ago, Eise said:

We have versions of the fragments, where Josephus sticks to the facts, without the obvious Christian additions. James and his brother Jesus are still mentioned...

A lack of embellishment doesn't prove it wasn't added. If one was all too obviously added, that shows a motive to add it. It definitely degrades the value of the other.  Even if you accept the second as not a forged addition, you have to ask where Josephus got his information from. He wrote that in the year 94 approx. Paul's epistle apparently had the same phrase forty years earlier. Could be a clue there. 

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But, if you want to believe Jesus did not exist, please do so. I do not want to repeat all arguments of Ehrman, which seem quite credible to me. Please read his book: in the end, I started my interest with reading Acharya S' The greatest story ever sold, after which I decided I had to look at more objective discussions about the subject. With Acharya S, and Richard Carrier, I feel the anger about people who believe Jesus existed. As if that is the root of all evil. The root of all evil (exaggeration alarm...) is of course what people made of it, as a tool of power and suppression.

Anyway, if you have read Ehrman's book, we can discuss if his arguments (taken together...) are convincing. Otherwise I see no use to spend an awful lot of time on this discussion again.

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4 minutes ago, Eise said:

Read better... But even if it were exactly true, it means we have one source. But it isn't, and the different ways Matthew and Luke bend the story to let Jesus be born in Bethlehem is just one example that shows that they are not totally based on the same source. Matthew and Luke refer to 'Q', Mark does not.

Who is the source, can you say without hedging with words like could've been, might've been, probably was, and etc?

14 minutes ago, Eise said:

The hallucination of Paul is of course not a proof of anything

It is proof that Paul isn't a creditable source.

15 minutes ago, Eise said:

But him mentioning Cephas ('Peter') and James fits well to Josephus. And the contents of Paul beliefs fit well to John the Baptist and specially the older gospels (in which one could still believe that the youngest day would happen in the lifetime of the contemporaries of Jesus. With the gospel of John, written at least 70 years after Jesus' death, this is not possible anymore, so you won't find it there.) You see, it is all in line with history as we know it, and the by far easiest hypothesis of the roots and the outworkings on Paul (read the problems in his churches he has to react on...) is that a person, Jesus, with an apocalyptic message, existed. 

Josephus wasn't contemporary to Jesus. Josephus wrote of the Death of James in context to who and what Christians were and not as a record of the existence of Jesus. Josephus also mentioned John the Baptist but not in direct association with Jesus. Proving a John the Baptist existed  or that Christians existed during Josephus's time doesn't prove Jesus ever existed. It proves Christians existed and no one here is arguing they did not.  

11 minutes ago, Eise said:

But, if you want to believe Jesus did not exist, please do so. I do not want to repeat all arguments of Ehrman, which seem quite credible to me. Please read his book: in the end, I started my interest with reading Acharya S' The greatest story ever sold, after which I decided I had to look at more objective discussions about the subject. With Acharya S, and Richard Carrier, I feel the anger about people who believe Jesus existed. As if that is the root of all evil. The root of all evil (exaggeration alarm...) is of course what people made of it, as a tool of power and suppression.

I think you are attempting to read too far into the motives of different scholars in assessing their work rather than reviewing the work head on. Richard Carrier for example doesn't claim Jesus never existed. Rather he claims that the evidence that Jesus did is strong. I personally don't see any reason why someone saying "I don't know" would be viewed as being angry.  As for Ehrman he has moved on the issue over time as his own religious beliefs have changed. His beliefs and not merely the evidence clearly has shaped his views. I doubt even he would deny that. 

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