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Was there a real Jesus of Nazareth ?


mistermack
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2 hours ago, Eise said:

You do know the difference between the articles 'a' and 'the' I hope. Further, James was also called 'the brother of Christ' in Flavius Josephus Antiquities of the Jews.

You do know that basing your hopes on the difference between a and the is a sign of desperation? Nobody knows what was in the first copy of Paul's letter, and even if we had it, nobody would still know what Paul actually dictated. And as Jesus was supposed to have had several brothers, then Paul would probably said "one of the brothers of Jesus" if that was what he meant. 

As for Flavius Josephus, it has clearly forged references to Jesus, forged by Christian apologists, and no apologist mentioned the Josephus passages till the third century, which is a dead giveaway. 

Relying on that sort of rubbish is basically scraping the barrel.

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4 hours ago, mistermack said:

Any self important person like Paul would have used it over and over to impress his audience. He didn't. 

Unless a living leading apostle [Peter] was around to contradict him. Besides, where and when did Paul describe anybody or anything? "In the name of Christ the lord" and "It is written" and "God is faithful" "Stop being so naughty".... He uses the Name and the Word, not the persona or the story. He doesn't know the personality and doesn't care about the mortal man whose blessing he claims. But he does need to include in the idea of Christ the Lord who was raised from the dead (Remember, too, Jesus as equal to God won't be official canon for another 300 years after Paul's time.), all of the preachers who may have contributed to the various local Cristian cults. If you get too specific, you can alienate a congregation who have a recollection of a different prophet. (As I said earlier, the Jesus sightings reported in different places, after the crucifixion of one such preacher, strongly suggests that others had already taken up and carried the message to several provinces.) Paul was never interested in a historical Jesus, because at that time, the question didn't arise; historicity was not an issue; authority was. 

Also: as Luke is Paul's constant companion, and also an apostle in good standing, he already has a far better source of Jesus-lore.

 

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29 minutes ago, mistermack said:

And as Jesus was supposed to have had several brothers, then Paul would probably said "one of the brothers of Jesus" if that was what he meant. 

Supposed to have several brothers? Why would this have been supposed by Paul, who didn't know Jesus? You're introduced to a guy, "This is James; he's Jesus' brother.' You just refer to him afterward by the relationship, not the birth-order, familal ratio or percent fraternity. (half brother, actually) People who wrote religious epistles two thousand years ago don't always adhere your to strict requirement of specificity and detail.

3 minutes ago, Arthur Smith said:

What do we really know of Luke?

Only what other people, including Paul, have written and the authorship of his gospel and The Acts of the Apostles. And this https://www.britannica.com/biography/Saint-Luke

Edited by Peterkin
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11 hours ago, Peterkin said:

Only what other people, including Paul, have written and the authorship of his gospel and The Acts of the Apostles. And this https://www.britannica.com/biography/Saint-Luke

I thought the Britannica article was very fair, with just the right number of caveats.

The circularity of the justifications for the character, Luke, still seem a serious issue for those claiming the Biblical Luke fits a historical Luke. Luke wrote Luke's gospel and the Acts. How do we know? Because Luke tells us in Luke's gospel and the Acts.

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11 hours ago, Arthur Smith said:
12 hours ago, Peterkin said:

Luke is Paul's constant companion, and also an apostle in good standing

What do we really know of Luke?

Next to nothing. But historians assume that the author of the gospel of Luke and Acts are the same.

12 hours ago, mistermack said:

You do know that basing your hopes on the difference between a and the is a sign of desperation?

No. It is taking the text 'as is'. The strategy of mythicists with text fragments very often is:

  • It cannot be true, so it is a falsification
  • the author did not mean what he wrote

And then again Flavius mentions the execution of James:

Quote

so he assembled the sanhedrin of judges, and brought before them the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James, and some others; and when he had formed an accusation against them as breakers of the law, he delivered them to be stoned

12 hours ago, mistermack said:

As for Flavius Josephus, it has clearly forged references to Jesus, forged by Christian apologists,

You know that different versions of the Testimonium Flavianum have been found? Some of them are shorter, and missing the obvious insertion by Christian scribes.

You are preoccupied by 'your own book'. Surely you think the same of me, so let's end this fruitless discussion.

7 minutes ago, Arthur Smith said:

Luke wrote Luke's gospel and the Acts. How do we know? Because Luke tells us in Luke's gospel and the Acts.

Textual analysis shows that the author very probably is the same. See my link above. 

Edited by Eise
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6 minutes ago, Eise said:

Textual analysis shows that the author very probably is the same. See my link above

 I don't dispute this. I believe that textual analysis confirms a single author, writing in a Koine Greek that they were very comfortable in. I think we can question the date attributed to the texts and the familiarity of the author with the geography of ancient Palestine, as well as the identity of the author. Motive for writing is something to consider, too though looking back through the lens of modernity isn't reliable. Context would help and of that there is little or none.

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1 hour ago, Arthur Smith said:

still seem a serious issue for those claiming the Biblical Luke fits a historical Luke.

Guy writes books, gets his face on ugly stained glass windows, I guess he exists, must have a name. Why not Luke? Why does he need justification? 

Somebody started the cult; somebody spread it; somebody established it. If you don't dispute the identity of Constantine, why worry about whether the others existed?

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20 hours ago, Arthur Smith said:

 

As I've never been convinced there was anything to Christianity since I was a child, I've not really looked at what you might call supporting evidence for people and events described in the Bible. Once you discount the supernatural stuff, whether some events and characters are correlated elsewhere is not particularly important. or relevant. However I did come across someone recently (rather vehement in his views) who claimed the Bible is basically an almanac and was not intended to be historical. It prompted me to look at history and archaeology of the Hittites. The Hittites occupied Anatolia for hundreds of years (prior to being conquered by/absorbed into Ancient Assyria) but at their zenith shared a border with Egypt that ran East-West through the middle of the Levant. Whilst Hittite sources record dealings and disputes with Egypt without any reference to Israel and Egyptian records follow the same pattern, the Bible has almost no mention of the Hittite Empire, allegedly at the time of David and Solomon. Israel Finkelstein has worked tirelessly to establish some archaeological support for Biblical people and places without success.

The Emperor Constantine's mother, Helena, seemed to come across many places of interest in Palestine three centuries after the crucifixion that are now famous sites for pilgrimage, none of which bear the slightest scrutiny archaeologically.

 

s

I can't immediately see what this has to do with the issue of the probable first language of Saul of Tarsus, a.k.a. St. Paul. 

Do you simply mean you decided long ago that Christianity is bunk and that therefore none of the dramatis personae, St. Paul included, can be based on real historical figures?  

Edited by exchemist
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24 minutes ago, exchemist said:

Do you simply mean you decided long ago that Christianity is bunk and that therefore none of the dramatis personae, St. Paul included, can be based on real historical figures?  

I did indeed make a decision about Christianity at a very young age. I questioned it and decided God wasn't real when I was about  8 or 9 years old. Once I rejected the central concept, the trimmings are very much like window dressing, especially when you look at the various schisms of Christianity I was brought up in the Church of England community and our next-door neighbours were Catholic. We had a very odd relationship.

There's no therefore. My decision that Christianity is a web of human invention that I need not concern myself with has remained with me. My prime directive is to live and let live. Whether this, that or other Biblical character is accurately represented, embellished or completely fictional is not an issue that obsesses me. It is only recently that I have become interested in what evidence there is that confirms people, events, places in the Bible. For instance archaeological investigation in the Levant is recent compared to regions with more stable politics, and is still under political influence and control. It's fascinating, both what we do and don't know if we evaluate it dispassionately.

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20 hours ago, Peterkin said:

Coulda sworn I just said that. However, the church rules don't necessarily flow, or even follow from the instigator of the legend. A great many - one might go so far as to say, most - Christians don't turn the other cheek, love their neighbour, give to the poor or forgive those who trespass against them, let alone imitate the lilies of the field.

The problem only really exists because we chose to write it down, it just creates the vultures who pick over the carcass of meaning; an oral education is much more meaningfull, because the transaction of information takes place in the current culture.

1 hour ago, Arthur Smith said:

Once I rejected the central concept

What is the cental concept?

1 hour ago, Arthur Smith said:

There's no therefore. My decision that Christianity is a web of human invention that I need not concern myself with has remained with me.

I'm with you, there is no god; but why do you suppose, we needed to invent one?

16 hours ago, mistermack said:

Nobody knows what was in the first copy of Paul's letter

You're missing the point, every one knows what he wrote, but only a few contemporaries understood what he said...

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1 hour ago, dimreepr said:

I'm with you, there is no god; but why do you suppose, we needed to invent one?

Well, I only reject the ones so far on offer. I don't know whether there is or was some unknown first cause or creator. Why there is religion is a fascinating question. I'm convinced there is (if not wholly, certainly partly) a socio-biological explanation. We are and we evolved from social animals. There is a limit to the size of groups in primates that equates to relatedness, extended family. Humans seem to have spent the last three hundred thousand years extending their capacity for communication beyond the family group. Family norms become competing social norms, family leaders can become group chiefs, stories become tools for social cohesion. There's maybe a heritable element, accepting information from others without question can save time and effort and human variance in that trait could have produced a propensity for belief in the supernatural. Even in today's US, being a declared atheist can be career-limiting. 

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1 hour ago, dimreepr said:

You're missing the point, every one knows what he wrote, but only a few contemporaries understood what he said...

That's not true. The earliest copies that exist of Pauls epistles were copied around the year 200. The originals were long gone by that time. They made new copies whenever the old ones got tatty, copying them out by hand. Plenty of oportunities to change the text, make "improvements" and correct "mistakes" to match the opinions of the time. 

And when you consider that nearly half of the epistles are outright forgeries, then the motive was clearly there to put words in Paul's mouth that he clearly didn't say, or write. 

So in fact, NOBODY knows what he wrote, or dictated. That's not to say that the epistles are worthless, but you can't take them as gospel. And of course, you can't take the gospels as gospel either. 😊

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2 hours ago, Arthur Smith said:

I did indeed make a decision about Christianity at a very young age. I questioned it and decided God wasn't real when I was about  8 or 9 years old.

!

Moderator Note

All: please note that that this (i.e. validity of Christianity) and related discussions are off-topic to the thread.

Further transgressions will be excommunicated to the trash

 
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5 hours ago, Eise said:

You know that different versions of the Testimonium Flavianum have been found? Some of them are shorter, and missing the obvious insertion by Christian scribes.

So what? That doesn't verify the other, slightly less obvious insertion. If the James brother of Jesus is original and genuine, where is the motive to insert the obviously forged reference? And why didn't apologists make any reference to it, before the year 300? 

In my book, if someone offers me a couple of bank notes, and one is a very very bad forgery, that makes me suspicious of the other. You would have to be a mug, to take the better one as genuine, just because it's not as bad as the other. In fact, the James passage reads perfectly well without the James part, it would have been very easy to slip it in.

In my book, someone looked at the obvious forgery, and decided that it was so bad, it needed another reference to back it up.

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30 minutes ago, swansont said:
!

Moderator Note

All: please note that that this (i.e. validity of Christianity) and related discussions are off-topic to the thread.

Further transgressions will be excommunicated to the trash

 

The title of the thread is "Was There a Real Jesus of Nazereth". Maybe the mods should have mentioned that earlier. I confess not to have read the forum rules. Could someone supply a link?

ETA I've read the guidelines!

Edited by Arthur Smith
Checking guidelines
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30 minutes ago, Eise said:

You made up your mind, I made up mine. 

This is the Religion section, after all, Eise.
Beliefs are always more pertinent than facts when dealing with Religion.

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4 hours ago, Arthur Smith said:

My decision that Christianity is a web of human invention that I need not concern myself with has remained with me.

Then why deny that the humans weaving that invention existed, lived, believed, preached and organized? Priests exist now - all kinds of clerics and prelates. They have existed for several thousand years.

 

3 hours ago, dimreepr said:

but why do you suppose, we needed to invent one?

We didn't. We were fine with nature spirits, demons, totems and all sorts of local, familiar supernatural entities. Rulers need big, powerful gods. 

 

3 hours ago, dimreepr said:

but only a few contemporaries understood what he said...

Mostly, he said "Stop fornicating and obey me."

2 hours ago, Arthur Smith said:

Why there is religion is a fascinating question. I'm convinced there is (if not wholly, certainly partly) a socio-biological explanation.

Psychological, mostly.: people are scared a lot of the time!  

1 hour ago, mistermack said:

n my book, if someone offers me a couple of bank notes, and one is a very very bad forgery, that makes me suspicious of the other.

And I think that's what scholars have done. Only: if one was a very bad forgery, wouldn't you expect the other also also to be bad? I mean, wouldn't you expect an inept forger to make all bad copies and a skillful one to make all good ones, rather than one of each?

 

Edited by Peterkin
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10 minutes ago, Peterkin said:

And I think that's what scholars have done. Only: if one was a very bad forgery, wouldn't you expect the other also also to be bad? I mean, wouldn't you expect an inept forger to make all bad copies and a skillful one to make all good ones, rather than one of each?

It's not likely that both forgeries were done by the same person. Possible, but unlikely. Like I said above, my guess would be that the bad one came first, and the better one was added later, in an attempt to add credence to the first really bad one. It could have happened the other way round, or they could both be genuine. 

A lot of bible scholars think that the better one is genuine, and their main reasoning seems to be that it would be a much more obvious fake, if it wasn't. I don't buy that. It wouldn't take a genius forger to add those few words to a text. Just because one forgery is so blatantly bad, that doesn't mean that the other would have had to be likewise. And you have to remember that most bible scholars are committed Christians, and are more likely to give this passage the benefit of the doubt. It's wishful thinking creeping into their reasoning.

Even the few scholars who are not Christian have an interest in Jesus being a real figure. Their jobs depend on it. 

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1 hour ago, Arthur Smith said:

The title of the thread is "Was There a Real Jesus of Nazereth". Maybe the mods should have mentioned that earlier. I confess not to have read the forum rules. Could someone supply a link?

ETA I've read the guidelines!

!

Moderator Note

Whether Jesus was a real person and your personal take on accepting Christianity are separate discussions. Rule 2.5: stay on topic.

 
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33 minutes ago, Peterkin said:

Then why deny that the humans weaving that invention existed, lived, believed, preached and organized? Priests exist now - all kinds of clerics and prelates. They have existed for several thousand years.

 

I fear my reply may be off-topic.

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1 hour ago, mistermack said:

. It wouldn't take a genius forger to add those few words to a text.

Nor would that make the entire text a forgery. Somebody wrote the books. When? Over a period of time, possibly the whole 400 years between the death of some man, later identified as Jesus, who was executed, presumably for sedition, which would have been the most common charge, and the compilation of the final text. Somebody collected, selected and edited those books for inclusion in their official religious text. If they commissioned fake books, they were certainly in a position to hire skilled forgers, rather than clumsy ones.  I would surmise that the obvious forgeries, therefore, predate the Council, and my guess as to their origin would be early Christians who couldn't write as well as the putative Luke and verified Paul, but wished to ride their authority.

This, btw, is why so much apocrypha was excluded, because they were terrible writing. Other bits, perhaps because they were contemporary and not in accord with the compilers' intent.  

1 hour ago, mistermack said:

Even the few scholars who are not Christian have an interest in Jesus being a real figure.

Careers can be made, also, on disproving the accepted version of things. Unfortunately, too many non-Christian historians are just as determined to see deceit and fakery as the christian ones are to deny it, they go to absurd lengths to attack even reasonable evidence for the other side's position.

 

Edited by Peterkin
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1 hour ago, Peterkin said:

Unfortunately, too many non-Christian historians are just as determined to see deceit and fakery as the christian ones are to deny it, they go to absurd lengths to attack even reasonable evidence for the other side's position.

Do you have evidence to support that personal opinion?

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7 hours ago, Arthur Smith said:

I did indeed make a decision about Christianity at a very young age. I questioned it and decided God wasn't real when I was about  8 or 9 years old. Once I rejected the central concept, the trimmings are very much like window dressing, especially when you look at the various schisms of Christianity I was brought up in the Church of England community and our next-door neighbours were Catholic. We had a very odd relationship.

There's no therefore. My decision that Christianity is a web of human invention that I need not concern myself with has remained with me. My prime directive is to live and let live. Whether this, that or other Biblical character is accurately represented, embellished or completely fictional is not an issue that obsesses me. It is only recently that I have become interested in what evidence there is that confirms people, events, places in the Bible. For instance archaeological investigation in the Levant is recent compared to regions with more stable politics, and is still under political influence and control. It's fascinating, both what we do and don't know if we evaluate it dispassionately.

The historian, however, will consider the evidence of the sources. As in science, proof is not to be expected, but evidence that is consistent can suggest what may have occurred. So far as I am aware, there is no evidence that Saul of Tarsus was an invention, whereas there seems to be evidence from more than one source for his historical existence. Enough to persuade non-Christian (ex-Christian) historians like MacCulloch, at any rate.  

In a thread about Jesus, this about St. Paul is a bit of a side-issue, admittedly, but perhaps for him too, one needs to distinguish evidence from personal prejudices. Where Jesus is concerned, MacCulloch seems to think the main evidence for Jesus as a historical person comes from his preaching style as reported in the gospels, which he seems to find highly idiosyncratic: the use of parables, the repeated use of the enigmatic phrase "Son of Man" and so on. He feels like a real person. But MacCulloch seems more non-committal about Jesus than about Paul, whom he confidently describes as a businessman (in fact a tent-maker) from Tarsus.   

Edited by exchemist
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