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Did Christianity start with a real human Jesus?


mistermack
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31 minutes ago, Eise said:

Right. I do not believe in God, and so it is already impossible to believe that Jesus was his son. 

Neither do I. But I have known people who had studied theology and I don't think any of them thought the miracles had to be taken literally as accurate descriptions of historical events.

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43 minutes ago, Eise said:

Really, read Ehrman, and see how and why most historians come to the conclusion that Jesus existed. You do not have to believe in even one single miracle or the contents of whatever vision, to come to such a conclusion. But therefore you must understand the methodology historians use. 

I propose to discuss Ehrman's book, as soon as those that are interested want to continue the discussion on the question if Jesus really existed.

Not all historians come to that conclusion and Ehrman is not a uniquely more qualified historian than those who disagree with his work. Belief in the historicity Jesus is guess work. Lots of history is guess work. Troy is understood to have been a real city yet to what extent Homer's Iliad accurately described it is unknown. Until very recently we didn't even know what Denisovans were yet there is a continent full of humans today who have Denisovan DNA. I see no benefit is insisting that unknowns are known. Their is no contemporary evidence for Jesus. Maybe his story was based on a real person maybe it wasn't. Clearly the person described in the Gospels never existed (virgin birth, water to wine, resurrection, etc) which renders then unreliable tales.  

6 minutes ago, Strange said:

Neither do I. But I have known people who had studied theology and I don't think any of them thought the miracles had to be taken literally as accurate descriptions of historical events.

In my opinion people attempt to rationalize the miracles as misunderstandings or metaphors. I understand why. Clearly an author claiming the impossible can't be taken serious so people attempt to created bridges between what's real and what's not. That is all well and fine but there are Christians today who make wild impossible claims which they absolutely mean to be true and not metaphors. Today all over the world there are Christians who claim to be filled with the Holy Spirit and speak in tongues, hear the voice of God, see the virgin Marry, and etc. If Christians today are dead serious about miracles how can one say they weren't just as serious two thousand years ago?  

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40 minutes ago, Ten oz said:

Today all over the world there are Christians who claim to be filled with the Holy Spirit and speak in tongues, hear the voice of God, see the virgin Marry, and etc.

I think there is a big difference between personal experiences (which are, by definition, real to the person who experiences them) and the "physically impossible" miracles such as walking on water or changing water to wine.

It is slightly ironic that a-theists (anti-theists) can be more literal-minded about religious texts than the faithful. Are you saying that writing is never metaphorical? Or that if it is religious, we cannot assume it is metaphorical; that we have to take it literally so we can "debunk" it?

We have fairy tales that often have a moral element but we don't say they must be ignored because a wolf could never disguise itself as someone's grandmother (to pick a random example). It's a friggin story, for god's sake! The author took poetic license to make a point. 

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50 minutes ago, Ten oz said:

Clearly the person described in the Gospels never existed (virgin birth, water to wine, resurrection, etc) which renders then unreliable tales.

Are you denying the fact that someone had an idea that transcended ingrained beliefs and cultures, and spread globally? 

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47 minutes ago, Ten oz said:

Not all historians come to that conclusion and Ehrman is not a uniquely more qualified historian than those who disagree with his work.

'Not all' is consistent with my 'most'. I don't know if Ehrman is a better historian than others, but he is one of the authors that wrote books for the general public about the early history of Christianity. He claims that he presents the general consensus under early Christianity-historians, and he was not contradicted by such historians. But of course, there are voices that have another position. That is to be expected when there is no way to be 100% sure. I've read a German book for Theologians, which goes in much more detail, but as far as I understood it, it uses the same arguments as Ehrman does. So you need to know what the historical methods are, and point your arguemtns against these methods. But therefore you must first know these methods, otherwise your arguments just beat air.

54 minutes ago, Ten oz said:

Troy is understood to have been a real city yet to what extent Homer's Iliad accurately described it is unknown.

Beautiful argument. So we are pretty sure that Troy existed, but we do not know if the accounts of it are true. So why shouldn't it be possible to come to the same conclusion about the historical Jesus? We don't know much about him, because he has not written anything, there are no contemporary or even firsthand reports, and the literature we have is highly biased by (early) Christians. But that in itself does not mean he did not exist. Therefore you have to know the history of the texts, and analyse the contents, to see what probably is true. What is left is not much (my four points), but that is enough to conclude that, more probable than not, Jesus existed.

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15 hours ago, Strange said:

You are being bizarrely irrational in this thread.

I'm not sure what point you are trying to make, but you are failing brilliantly.

Ye, sorry everyone, recently had a bike accident and the painkillers... are pretty funky...

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2 minutes ago, Strange said:

I think there is a big difference between personal experiences (which are, by definition, real to the person who experiences them) and the "physically impossible" miracles such as walking on water or changing water to wine.

It is slightly ironic that a-theists (anti-theists) can be more literal-minded about religious texts than the faithful. Are you saying that writing is never metaphorical? Or that if it is religious, we cannot assume it is metaphorical; that we have to take it literally so we can "debunk" it?

We have fairy tales that often have a moral element but we don't say they must be ignored because a wolf could never disguise itself as someone's grandmother (to pick a random example). It's a friggin story, for god's sake! The author took poetic license to make a point. 

I am saying that it isn't clear that the Gospels were meant metaphorically. Joseph Smith's account of golden tablets weren't meant metaphorically. Joseph Smith could have been delusional or Joseph Smith could have bee a liar but he meant for his claims to be received as literal. Likewise appears to be the case for Paul and whomever is responsible for Luke, Mathew, and Marc. There appear to be claiming something they mean to be taken literal. I suppose it could have been metaphorical and understand as such during that era but I don't know that for sure either way. 

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7 minutes ago, Ten oz said:

I am saying that it isn't clear that the Gospels were meant metaphorically.

Which is more likely: that water could turn not wine, defying the laws of physics, or that it is a story to highlight importance of integrating and converting all members of the population? 

On the balance of probabilities of probabilities, I will go with the one that is (a) physically possible and (b) we know has been done before. 

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1 minute ago, Ten oz said:

I am saying that it isn't clear that the Gospels were meant metaphorically.

 

Not even the parables?

5 minutes ago, Ten oz said:

Joseph Smith could have been delusional or Joseph Smith could have bee a liar but he meant for his claims to be received as literal.

Apples and oranges, Jesus spoke the words and many years later someone else wrote them down. 

Let's imagine the teachings were about contentment (addicts can't be content by definition) 40 days and nights away from temptation is about right to reset one's dopamine levels, then the water into wine metaphor comes into focus.

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2 hours ago, Eise said:

Really, read Ehrman,

I can't read Eherman, I haven't got his book, but I have heard his arguments in debates on youtube. He's skilled and persuasive, but I think his points are weaker than he portrays them. 

When he addresses the lack of detail on a real Jesus in Paul's epistles, for example, he compares Paul to his Mother. It's really a totally false comparison. Paul was an enthusiastic convert evangelist, dedicating his life to spreading the word about a man/god who only died 25 years previously. And his letters were ABOUT the new religion, of Jesus the man/god, who was not long dead. 

I presume Bart's mother's letters were more mundane. The religion is 2,000 years old now, and she would have been an adherent for a very long time. The novelty must wear off at some point.

So it's a non-argument in my opinion. Nobody in Paul's position, speaking about a real man/god, would have ignored the real personal details of Jesus so dramatically, unless they weren't there.

I can maybe concede that there was SOME talk at the time of Jesus having been real. There had to be a transition at some point, as they were trying to make the story fit the prophesies. 

Here's Bart, giving his reasoning :  

 

Edited by mistermack
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6 minutes ago, dimreepr said:

Jesus spoke the words and many years later someone else wrote them down. 

Or one of a number of different people spoke the words and later they were written down and credited to (the real or apocryphal) Jesus. Or the person writing the story made it up. Or ...

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3 minutes ago, Eise said:

Beautiful argument. So we are pretty sure that Troy existed, but we do not know if the accounts of it are true. So why shouldn't it be possible to come to the same conclusion about the historical Jesus? We don't know much about him, because he has not written anything, there are no contemporary or even firsthand reports, and the literature we have is highly biased by (early) Christians. But that in itself does not mean he did not exist. Therefore you have to know the history of the texts, and analyse the contents, to see what probably is true. What is left is not much (my four points), but that is enough to conclude that, more probable than not, Jesus existed.

Troy was a location not a specific person. We know from numerous artifacts left by the Tojans and other Greeks that they existed. They had  capitals. Troy is said to be a capital. It is referenced in religious, fictional, and nonfictional works. Not just Homer but even Egyptian text. Capitals are known to be real places. Gods and other spiritual figures are not. Could that capital have been called something other than Troy, absolutely. Was there a giant wall, I don't know. Likewise no one here is arguing that Jerusalem or any other location mentioned in the gospels are not real places.

Troy to Jesus isn't apples to apples. Paris, Achillies, Helen to Jesus would be. Even still if you made the argument that it isn't known for sure that Troy was a real place I wouldn't object. I can acknowledge that it most certainly could be fictional. 

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2 minutes ago, Strange said:

Or one of a number of different people spoke the words and later they were written down and credited to (the real or apocryphal) Jesus. 

 

Maybe, but someone had the initial thought that started a very popular trend; my guess is JtB but J was a better storyteller.

10 minutes ago, Strange said:

Or the person writing the story made it up.

Then he/she is the source and was kinda vain.

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24 minutes ago, Strange said:

Which is more likely: that water could turn not wine, defying the laws of physics, or that it is a story to highlight importance of integrating and converting all members of the population? 

On the balance of probabilities of probabilities, I will go with the one that is (a) physically possible and (b) we know has been done before. 

I think you are missing what I am saying. I am referencing what the writers wanted the readers to understand. Obviously water was not turned to wine. Was that a lie the writers were telling with the hope it would be believed or something metaphorical the writers didn't mean to be taken literal? 

25 minutes ago, dimreepr said:

Apples and oranges, Jesus spoke the words and many years later someone else wrote them down. 

I wasn't comparing Jesus to Joseph Smith. I was using Joseph Smith as an example of someone who wrote something factious but wanted it read as literal truth. If there is any comparison being made it would be to Paul and not to Jesus.    

25 minutes ago, dimreepr said:

Maybe, but someone had the initial thought that started a very popular trend; my guess is JtB but J was a better storyteller.

This thread isn't asking if Christianity is based on a group of people which the pseudonym Jesus represents. Nor is it asking if men wrote the Bible or God wrote the Bible. It is asking if the specific individual person Jesus, as referenced in the gospels, was a real person. The post you just made would imply the answer is No. 

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16 hours ago, Strange said:

The last sentence doesn't follow from the previous ones. 

There are many possible reasons for stories of miracles, none of which prove or disprove the existence of the historical Jesus.

Ok .

Perhaps there were many interesting/popular people. They wrote down there deeds, pretended one person (Jesus) did it and invented many miracles  to complete the story.

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2 hours ago, mistermack said:

I can't read Eherman, I haven't got his book, but I have heard his arguments in debates on youtube.

Sorry, a youtubie is not a replacement for a book. If you have an e-reader, I can provide the book.

@Ten oz: I wait until I get a fair criticism of Ehrman's methods, not of his statement that it is more probable that Jesus existed than not.

1 hour ago, Ten oz said:

It is asking if the specific individual person Jesus, as referenced in the gospels, was a real person.

No, the words in bold were not part of the question. The gospels refer to a miracle-curing prophet, who resurrected after his crucifixion. The question of Mistermack was very clear:

Did Christianity start with a real human Jesus?

The answer is, based on the sources we have: yes. But not the miracle-curing prophet, who resurrected after his crucifixion, as presented in the gospels. And were it not because of Paul, Christianity might never have become the huge religion is has become.

17 minutes ago, Itoero said:

Perhaps there were many interesting/popular people. They wrote down there deeds, pretended one person (Jesus) did it and invented many miracles  to complete the story.

Please provide us with the source texts, tell us how you interpreted them, coming to the conclusion that Jesus is a contraction of several people, added with some magical fantasies. 

You see, Ehrman does exactly that: he gives the sources, he tells on what grounds most stuff is unreliable, but that we can still distillate a tiny core that was probably really the case (the four points I mentioned in the second post in this thread). It is easy to contrive some fantasies about what happened. But is is different to base them on old source texts. Sorry Itoero, you just throw in a few baseless opinions.

Edited by Eise
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2 hours ago, Strange said:

Which is more likely: that water could turn not wine, defying the laws of physics, or that it is a story to highlight importance of integrating and converting all members of the population? 

There are 'holy' people who perform 'miracles' today.     There is that flaming cardamom seed trick that seems to fool everyone into believing that the 'guru' has special powers.  Then there is the turning the stone pink trick that I have seen people asking about on forums too... the stone turns pink you pick the one aligned with your chakra...  (or when the bloke wipes it with a different substance to the others).

When we were at school we watched a priest turn water into wine during a sermon...  He said that we could choose to either believe it was a magic trick or believe it was a miracle.

I have never thought about it as a parable before - I'm giving you +1 for that. You mean that the water could represent ordinary life and wine the good stuff, but with the contentment taught by Jesus we can experience the good stuff (joy abounding) even with ordinary everyday life?   Allelujah!

 

Edited by DrP
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22 minutes ago, Eise said:

No, the words in bold were not part of the question. The gospels refer to a miracle-curing prophet, who resurrected after his crucifixion. The question of Mistermack was very clear:

Did Christianity start with a real human Jesus?

Where besides the gospels is there a description for who Jesus was? 

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13 minutes ago, Eise said:

Nope, there is a difference between references to the existence of Christians, places or people referenced in the Gospels, and a description of who Jesus as a person was. There are no descriptions of Jesus's life outside of the Gospels. Josephus referring to James as the Brother of Jesus or Tacitus referencing a fire lit by followers of Jesus is not a description of Jesus's life. 

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1 minute ago, Ten oz said:

 Josephus referring to James as the Brother of Jesus or Tacitus referencing a fire lit by followers of Jesus is not a description of Jesus's life. 

 

No-one needs a biography... to see who strikes the match.

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1 minute ago, Ten oz said:

Nope, there is a difference between references to the existence of Christians, places or people referenced in the Gospels, and a description of who Jesus as a person was. There are no descriptions of Jesus's life outside of the Gospels. Josephus referring to James as the Brother of Jesus or Tacitus referencing a fire lit by followers of Jesus is not a description of Jesus's life. 

If that is your question, then we have no reliable sources. But the question of the thread is:

1 hour ago, Eise said:

Did Christianity start with a real human Jesus?

The answer is yes, but we do not know very much about his life... Again, the 4 points I mentioned hold on historical scrutiny. I won't answer any questions anymore, unless you show you have understood the methods Ehrman applies, and can criticise them, or criticise how he applies them. 

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3 minutes ago, Eise said:

If that is your question, then we have no reliable sources. But the question of the thread is:

The answer is yes, but we do not know very much about his life... Again, the 4 points I mentioned hold on historical scrutiny. I won't answer any questions anymore, unless you show you have understood the methods Ehrman applies, and can criticise them, or criticise how he applies them. 

Right, "Did Christianity start with", Christianity's Jesus is described in the gospel. Again, Tacitus referencing Christian people as Jesus believers is not a description of an individual person named Jesus. The only written works that clearly say a person named Jesus lived and died are the gospels. Josephus didn't say a Jesus lived and died. 

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Just now, Ten oz said:

Right, "Did Christianity start with", Christianity's Jesus is described in the gospel. Again, Tacitus referencing Christian people as Jesus believers is not a description of an individual person named Jesus. The only written works that clearly say a person named Jesus lived and died are the gospels. Josephus didn't say a Jesus lived and died. 

I do not recognise that you read Ehrman. Time was also a bit short for that. So I leave you your point.

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6 minutes ago, Ten oz said:

Right, "Did Christianity start with", Christianity's Jesus is described in the gospel. Again, Tacitus referencing Christian people as Jesus believers is not a description of an individual person named Jesus.

Indeed, some called him uncle Dave; we can't all be right...

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