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Was Jesus a real person?

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Well, OK Jesus is a real person in the sense that I met him in a pub in London about 20 years ago. (I didn't think to ask if he had a brother )

He was from Mexico and was born on the 25th of December . His parents thought it was a good name.

However the one who was born in a stable 2000 years ago, turned water into wine + came back to life after a crucifixion was no more real than Harry Potter.

 

+1

 

But once you ask a question that it's impossible to answer because the question is too poorly defined then the only valid answer is still

"We don't know"

 

For me the asked question and the potencial answer whatever it might be are both irrelevant and a waste of time.

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[..]

now I have found what may be a fair representation of the status quo of scholarly debate on this topic -as a good follow-up of the first post- and that is Ehrman vs. Carrier:

http://astore.amazon.com/richardcarrier-20/detail/0062204602

http://www.richardcarrier.info/archives/1794

[..]

 

The reviews of Ehrman's pro-historicity book on Amazon are interesting and useful, for there we can find the opinions of people who have read the latest books on this topic: https://www.amazon.com/Did-Jesus-Exist-Historical-Argument/dp/0062204602/ref=cm_cr_arp_d_product_top?ie=UTF8#customerReviews

[edit:] and this detailed review: https://www.amazon.de/review/RV49AMJHEFGO4/ref=cm_cr_dp_title?ie=UTF8&ASIN=B0053K28TS&channel=detail-glance&nodeID=530484031&store=digital-text

Not sure if I'll buy that book....

Edited by Tim88

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No. It must be: he probably existed, but we cannot be 100% sure.

 

"Probably" is valueless in this case because we are merely weighing opinions and as you admit the truth cannot be known.

 

100% of the people who jump off the Golden Gate do not die. Yet, it is accurate to tell someone that they probably will if they do it. The odds can be quantified to a clear state of probability. Whether or not Jesus, whom has zero contemporary references, existed ios not something anyone can quantify to a clear unambigious probability.

 

The answer is that we simply do not know. Adding the caveat "but I think and or believe" is more correct in my opinion than adding the caveat "he probably".

There are different levels of probability. And it's only when we get to really quite high probabilities that we talk about "knowing".

I don't "know" what's on the menu in the canteen at work tomorrow- but I do ""know" that it will include chips.

Since this thread has offered nothing like that level of probability, we don't "know" the answer.

 

We almost certainly never will (Unless someone unearths a whole stack of ancient literature).

So the answer to the question which forms the title of this thread is "we don't know" and that's not going to change- even if it rattles on for another 36 pages.

Exactly

+1

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Hi Memammal I now read the link you gave, http://infidels.org/library/modern/james_still/gospel_john.html and it's interesting indeed!

 

The author James Still presents John's difference with the other Gospels as a Hellinization of a historical Jesus based on, among others, Philo. There is an obvious issue in view of Carrier's presentation of some of the same features of Philo's Jesus in Paul's writings as well as in Hebrews:

Paul's writings are dated shortly after Philo, but John is dated much later. James Still seems to ignore Paul's portrayal of Jesus.

Hi Tim88, unfortunately I could not participate further in the discussion yesterday...hence my late reply. The article focuses on the way the author(s) of John portrayed Jesus; strongly influenced by Greek philosophy. I quote: In John we find the culmination of Greek philosophy that has created the Jesus that we are the most familiar with today. A fully-formed Hellenized Jesus has emerged to become an equal with God... We see in John a desire to use Greek pagan concepts and philosophies as a tool for communicating Jesus as the Logos to a Christianized Gentile audience. John's Logos would not be understood by Jews... Per implication quite different then to how Jesus was portrayed by- and for the Jews. One would assume that it might have taken a while for this Greek philosophy to find its roots in Jewish culture, whilst the authors of John obviously targeted a wider (Greek-influenced) audience. The author of The Changing Face Of Jesus, G. Vermes, argued very much along the same line. “The ‘real’ [historical] Jesus, Vermes argues, was nothing like John’s incarnate Word, Paul’s cosmic drama of redemption, or the risen Christ of the Acts and the Synoptics. The ‘real’ Jesus saw himself and, in his lifetime at least, was seen by his disciples as a devout Jewish rabbi, firmly in the prophetic tradition, obedient to the Torah though liberal in his interpretation... He could not even have understood, much less taught or believed in, the Hellenistic mystery religion that had become recognizable as Christianity by the early second century” (The review: Daniel Johnson, ‘In Search of the Jewish Jesus’, Daily Telegraph, 15 April 2000).

 

Are you suggesting that perhaps Paul created a faith to compete with the followers of Earthly Jesus, and that much later the communities merged so that in the end "John" was influenced by Paul's letters?

 

Probably most scholars assume that there was Essene-based input to Christianity (perhaps related to the missing "Q" document) and that there were different competing Christian sects. It then all comes down to fitting them together on a plausible time and place map, with a plausible cause and effect logic.

 

[edit]: it's unclear to me how you would explain the disagreement between that "Christian" Eucharist celebration and the one of the Gospels - except of course, if you take that away from the "historical Jesus".

I am suggesting that first Paul, through his Christology of redemption and his ambitions for a gentile-inclusive church, with his companion Luke the Evangelist, the recognised author of the Luke gospel as well as Acts, and later John, through his Christology of incarnation, ended up being the actual founders of Christianity...opposed to the apocalyptic preacher who spread the Essene way of living/believing and spoke of immanent change and the end of days within that same era. I am very much in agreement with Eise and the consensus opinion of most historians/scholars/authors re this topic. It is a historical fact that the Second Temple period gave rise to mainly four competing sects with very different beliefs. I cannot help but to think of Jesus as a staunch Essene, which would explain the many synoptic references to the fall-outs with members of the opposing sects (something that might have played an important role in his crucifixion). There are strong correlations between the Esssene rituals and those promoted by John The Baptist as well as Jesus...that are also depicted in the Didache. I don't quite follow your reasoning w.r.t. the Eucharist..? It makes no reference to the redemptive death of Jesus (quite rightly, as Jesus never suggested that in the first place), so even though Paul might have promoted these rituals (to Corinth?) there seem to be little Pauline influence. If you consider just how influential the Pauline and Johannine doctrines have become in Christianity, it is easy to understand how the Eucharist ended up in its later Christian guise. Apart from the links that I have given here, I suggest that you also read:

Second Temple Judaism​

Origins of Christianity

"Probably" is valueless in this case because we are merely weighing opinions and as you admit the truth cannot be known...

....The odds can be quantified to a clear state of probability. Whether or not Jesus, whom has zero contemporary references, existed ios not something anyone can quantify to a clear unambigious probability...

The answer is that we simply do not know.

History is all about probabilities. If you ask a historian whether somebody or something had actually existed or not, the answer "we do not know" would (most probably) not be an option. So think of possible answers to the question along the lines of:

Yes

Highly probably

Probable

Unlikely

Highly unlikely

No

 

Also consider the null hypothesis, which is generally assumed to be true until evidence indicates otherwise..? Or you can imagine making a case for the likelihood of a historical Jesus vs a case for the likelihood of no historical Jesus...which is probably exactly what happened for the past 36 pages of this thread...

Edited by Memammal

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Bold face emphasis mine:

Hi Tim88, unfortunately I could not participate further in the discussion yesterday...hence my late reply. The article focuses on the way the author(s) of John portrayed Jesus; strongly influenced by Greek philosophy. [..]

One would assume that it might have taken a while for this Greek philosophy to find its roots in Jewish culture, whilst the authors of John obviously targeted a wider (Greek-influenced) audience. [..]

 

I am suggesting that first Paul, through his Christology of redemption and his ambitions for a gentile-inclusive church, with his companion Luke the Evangelist, the recognised author of the Luke gospel as well as Acts, and later John, through his Christology of incarnation, ended up being the actual founders of Christianity...opposed to the apocalyptic preacher who spread the Essene way of living/believing and spoke of immanent change and the end of days within that same era. I am very much in agreement with Eise and the consensus opinion of most historians/scholars/authors re this topic. It is a historical fact that the Second Temple period gave rise to mainly four competing sects with very different beliefs. I cannot help but to think of Jesus as a staunch Essene, which would explain the many synoptic references to the fall-outs with members of the opposing sects (something that might have played an important role in his crucifixion). There are strong correlations between the Esssene rituals and those promoted by John The Baptist as well as Jesus...that are also depicted in the Didache. I don't quite follow your reasoning w.r.t. the Eucharist..? It makes no reference to the redemptive death of Jesus (quite rightly, as Jesus never suggested that in the first place), so even though Paul might have promoted these rituals (to Corinth?) there seem to be little Pauline influence. If you consider just how influential the Pauline and Johannine doctrines have become in Christianity, it is easy to understand how the Eucharist ended up in its later Christian guise. Apart from the links that I have given here, I suggest that you also read:

Second Temple Judaism​

Origins of Christianity

[..]

 

OK, so you also concluded that the Eucharist of the Gospels is a later invention, and that Jesus did not really found Christianity. That does not leave much for a historical Jesus. Perhaps the main difference between your mainstream opinion and that of Mysticists, is that the Essene preacher whose preaching apparently has been included in the Gospels was the start of Christianity, that without his preaching Christianity would not have taken off.

 

In other words, much of the polarization in the discussion appears a bit artificial.

Let's see if the following coarse summary makes sense:

 

1. "Historical Jesus" (or, what is left of him by "mainstream"):

- an Essene preacher named Jesus had followers

- this Jesus was killed, his followers claimed to see him in visions and started a new religion

- some Hellenistic teachings were added by Paul as well as later by others, leading to contentions

- then the Gospel accounts were written and/or finalized, uniting the Christian communities.

 

2. "No historical Jesus" (generic):

- Jews who had been waiting for Christ claimed to have seen him in visions, and so a new religion started

- some Hellenistic teachings were added by Paul as well as later by others, leading to contentions

- also the sayings of an Essene preacher, possibly named Jesus, circulated in the Christian community

- the Gospel narratives put Christ on Earth and put the sayings in his mouth.

 

Is that about right?

 

PS and I see that, of course, Wikipedia now also has entries on this topic:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christ_myth_theory

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Historical_Jesus

 

[edit:slight refinement]

Edited by Tim88

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History is all about probabilities. If you ask a historian whether somebody or something had actually existed or not, the answer "we do not know" would (most probably) not be an option. So think of possible answers to the question along the lines of:

Yes

Highly probably

Probable

Unlikely

Highly unlikely

No

 

Also consider the null hypothesis, which is generally assumed to be true until evidence indicates otherwise..? Or you can imagine making a case for the likelihood of a historical Jesus vs a case for the likelihood of no historical Jesus...which is probably exactly what happened for the past 36 pages of this thread...

That is not my admittedly limited experience from the history classes I took. It depends on the content and context. Many things are noted as ambigious. For example the legand of King Arthur might be based on an actual king, a composite of several different kings, or a total work of fiction. I was not he taught is was most probably anything. Rather the different possibilities were noted. Same goes for just about all pre-classical antiquity Egypt. There is much that isn't known beyond a general structured over view and every class on it I took made a point of noting that there are many unknowns.

 

Only when an topic stirs passions is there attempts to asterisk things with affirming statements when none can be proved. Hundreds of millions of people are extremely passionate about Jesus. Hedging on this issue by saying probably vs unclear is an easy concession. Same goes for Moses. All evidence points to Moses and the exodus simply not being true. That is far more clear than whether or not Jesus existed and yet Moses and Exodus gets kid gloves treatment. Rather than saying the overwhelming evidence shows it didn't happen most commonly we see polite references that say that Moses and the events aren't believed by most scholars to have been literal. Political issues are no better. I took an American Revolution course and the professor spent the whole first day basically explaining that he would be teaching based on his best understanding of the material and asked all us students to respect that and not derail class discussion with outside material. He acknowledge that many in the class already held specific beliefs about the Revolution and he wasn't looking to change that. It is unfortunate in my opinion that a professor has to start a class on defense because so many are more interested in believing what they want to believe that just learning what is known.

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OK, so you also concluded that the Eucharist of the Gospels is a later invention, and that Jesus did not really found Christianity. That does not leave much for a historical Jesus. Perhaps the main difference between your mainstream opinion and that of Mysticists, is that the Essene preacher whose preaching apparently has been included in the Gospels was the start of Christianity, that without his preaching Christianity would not have taken off.

With reference to the Eucharist and for that matter the entire Didache, I suggest that you read this very interesting short summary of opinions based on actual research: The DIDACHE or DUAE VIAE. As for your specific question re the Eucharist of the gospels vs that of the Didache, there could be various explanations...one of which corresponds closely to what you posted (above) and which is indeed seen as the most likely in the before-mentioned article. Some would argue that the versions contained in the synoptic gospels were merely a traditional Jewish Passover prayer, others reckon it is reminiscent of an old Moses blood offering ritual performed while he led the Jewish escape to freedom through the desert. Contrary to what you stated, it leaves plenty of room for a historical Jesus. As the before-mentioned article on the Didache concludes: Are there traces of Q-material in the Didache ? This delicate and highly specialized matter has been investigated by Draper who found details which evidence that the Didache is independent of Matthew "and perhaps even helps to explain the background behind the text of Matthew." This important fact can be generalized, for the Didache suggests an independence over the synoptics, throwing light on the text of these gospels ... It never includes material Matthew & Luke have drawn from Mark. Moreover, it coincides with material which is described as the Q-source ! This confirms that the sayings of Jesus were collected& distributed in a fixed form by oral or written means. It was a fluid source apparently also used by non-evangelists (prophets, teachers, over-seers of communities, deacons).

 

Let me throw in another potentially vital piece of the puzzle (something that might have been discussed already during this lengthy thread)...the Talmud's references to a Jesus with some strong resemblances to the one of the gospels:

Jesus as a sorcerer with disciples (b Sanh 43a-b)

Healing in the name of Jesus (Hul 2:22f; AZ 2:22/12; y Shab 124:4/13; QohR 1:8; b AZ 27b)

As a Torah teacher (b AZ 17a; Hul 2:24; QohR 1:8)

As a son or disciple that turned out badly (Sanh 103a/b; Ber 17b)

As a frivolous disciple who practiced magic and turned to idolatry (Sanh 107b; Sot 47a)

Jesus' punishment in afterlife (b Git 56b, 57a)

Jesus' execution (b Sanh 43a-b) -"on the eve of Passover they hanged Jesus the Nazarene" (Editions or MSs: Herzog 1, Karlsruhe 2)

Jesus as the son of Mary (Shab 104b, Sanh 67a)

 

In other words, much of the polarization in the discussion appears a bit artificial.

Let's see if the following coarse summary makes sense:

 

1. "Historical Jesus" (or, what is left of him by "mainstream"):

- an Essene preacher named Jesus had followers

- this Jesus was killed, his followers claimed to see him in visions and started a new religion

- some Hellenistic teachings were added by Paul as well as later by others, leading to contentions

- then the Gospel accounts were written and/or finalized, uniting the Christian communities.

 

2. "No historical Jesus" (generic):

- Jews who had been waiting for Christ claimed to have seen him in visions, and so a new religion started

- some Hellenistic teachings were added by Paul as well as later by others, leading to contentions

- also the sayings of an Essene preacher, possibly named Jesus, circulated in the Christian community

- the Gospel narratives put Christ on Earth and put the sayings in his mouth.

 

Is that about right?

It is important to keep in mind the various sects with their prevailing beliefs during the Second Temple period and everything that happened around the time leading up to the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple in 70 CE. It is reasonable to assume that there was a very strong sense of the apocalyptic times (and many would have perceived the destruction of Rome and the temple as such), whilst Jesus' close followers expected him to "return" within their lifetime (refer to comments made by Eise re Paul having to address this matter). Some even might had "visions", which is nothing extraordinary...just consider how many people have seen Elvis since he died. I would like to use the example of Nelson Mandela again. As I said earlier, he (Mandela) was not a well-known man until much later...years after he was first locked up on Robben Island. On the one hand international socio-political sentiments first had to undergo a rather dramatic change and on the other hand, the stature of this unseen, unheard symbol of anti-Apartheid had to mature to a stage where the expectations for his immanent release became almost tangible. Can you see the parallel to the Jesus narrative? Tensions became so unbearable during the latter Second Temple period that it is very conceivable that the followers of (the recently crucified-) Jesus almost demanded his return. And it is against this background that you can easily see how the Pauline doctrine and the synoptic gospels came to light...as Second Temple (and soon-thereafter) manuscripts. As such the synoptic gospels (based on Mark and possibly the Q-source) might have very well portrayed hints of the actual historical Jesus, including some of his original quotes and of course his death. Given all of these circumstances, one can even imagine that stories about his resurrection might have started to make their way into these "popular folklore" of that time; perhaps in order to provide some hope in such desperate times. The Second Temple Essene connection (including Qumran and the Dead Sea Scrolls) remains to be an underlying, but potentially significant factor. It was during these times that the very early Christian church was established by Paul and the other the apostles, not without some inner conflict re the matter of a non-gentile or gentile-inclusive missionary.

 

The Hellinization of Jesus into its full divine glory, i.e. a heavenly god whose logos was incarnated as a man and who went back to heaven from where he will return again one day, was a later development for reasons as depicted in the earlier article that I referenced...i.e. when the early Christians had to accept the fact that their Second Temple incarnation of Jesus was not coming back.

 

The "polarization in the discussion" is indeed "a bit artificial", but that seemed to have happened from the outset. One may very well argue why a historical Essene preacher, who might had nothing to do with what later became the Pauline and Johannine inspired Christianity, is of any significance other than him being used (post mortem) as the symbol for said religion.

 

Only when an topic stirs passions is there attempts to asterisk things with affirming statements when none can be proved. Hundreds of millions of people are extremely passionate about Jesus. Hedging on this issue by saying probably vs unclear is an easy concession. Same goes for Moses. All evidence points to Moses and the exodus simply not being true. That is far more clear than whether or not Jesus existed and yet Moses and Exodus gets kid gloves treatment.

It seems to be an equally passionate topic for (militant) atheists who want to prove to theists that some of their most prominent religious symbols might have never existed. I think one should try to stay objective and consider all the contributing factors for each on a case-by-case approach, don't you agree? History should not be manipulated by sentiments.

 

...the professor spent the whole first day basically explaining that he would be teaching based on his best understanding of the material and asked all us students to respect that and not derail class discussion with outside material. He acknowledge that many in the class already held specific beliefs...

There you go, history as we know it ;)

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Bold face emphasis mine:

With reference to the Eucharist and for that matter the entire Didache, I suggest that you read this very interesting short summary of opinions based on actual research: The DIDACHE or DUAE VIAE. As for your specific question re the Eucharist of the gospels vs that of the Didache, there could be various explanations...one of which corresponds closely to what you posted (above) and which is indeed seen as the most likely in the before-mentioned article. Some would argue that the versions contained in the synoptic gospels were merely a traditional Jewish Passover prayer, others reckon it is reminiscent of an old Moses blood offering ritual performed while he led the Jewish escape to freedom through the desert. Contrary to what you stated, it leaves plenty of room for a historical Jesus.

 

[..]

Let me throw in another potentially vital piece of the puzzle (something that might have been discussed already during this lengthy thread)...the Talmud's references to a Jesus with some strong resemblances to the one of the gospels:

[..]

 

It is important to keep in mind the various sects with their prevailing beliefs during the Second Temple period and everything that happened around the time leading up to the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple in 70 CE. It is reasonable to assume that there was a very strong sense of the apocalyptic times (and many would have perceived the destruction of Rome and the temple as such), whilst Jesus' close followers expected him to "return" within their lifetime

[..]

The Hellinization of Jesus into its full divine glory, i.e. a heavenly god whose logos was incarnated as a man and who went back to heaven from where he will return again one day, was a later development for reasons as depicted in the earlier article that I referenced...i.e. when the early Christians had to accept the fact that their Second Temple incarnation of Jesus was not coming back.

 

The "polarization in the discussion" is indeed "a bit artificial", but that seemed to have happened from the outset. One may very well argue why a historical Essene preacher, who might had nothing to do with what later became the Pauline and Johannine inspired Christianity, is of any significance other than him being used (post mortem) as the symbol for said religion.

[..]

 

That commentary on the Didache is interesting indeed, although it doesn't add much to what one immediately understands when reading it the first time. And I found it striking in the context of this discussion that it pretends that parousia means "return", while according to dictionaries it basically means "presence" or "coming" . Bible translations and commentaries are full of such manipulations. That early Christians expected his return is pure speculation.

 

I stated effectively the opposite of what you thought, sorry that it was a bit ambiguous. I did not realize that 'That does not leave much for a historical Jesus' (and followed a few lines later by '"Historical Jesus" (or, what is left of him by "mainstream")'), can be read as "that does not leave much room for a historical Jesus". I meant that the historical Jesus in the mainstream account according to you is left with very little - and I implied that this leaves much leeway for the historical Jesus. You could therefore have saved yourself the effort to convince me that with just a little fantasy one can put a historical Jesus in that context. The "smaller" a reconstructed historical Jesus gets, the more the reconstructed puzzle by "historical Jesus people" resembles the reconstructed puzzle by "mythical Jesus people" - with many pieces even at exactly the same place.

 

The Talmud doesn't add anything in my opinion, especially in view of your insight that it has some strong resemblances to the one of the gospels. One can use that as evidence that Jesus was historical as well as that Jesus was not historical, depending on one's reasoning.

 

Further, if we assume that some of Paul's letters are mostly authentic, the hellinisation of Christians was already going on in the first half of the first century, by means of Paul himself.

 

And finally, I forgot to add to my earlier message the possibility of a combination, merger or compromise between the "historians" and "mythians", but you reminded me of that by pointing in that direction with "One may very well argue why a historical Essene preacher, who might had nothing to do with what later became the Pauline and Johannine inspired Christianity, is of any significance other than him being used (post mortem) as the symbol for said religion."

 

It is possible to come up with a reconstruction that would be at more or less at the limit, where Jesus is so much reduced that he serves as little more than a coat hanger for the concept "historical Jesus". Then some people would still speak of a historical Jesus theory while others would call the same reconstruction a non-historical Jesus theory.

 

As a matter of fact already one "mythicist", Robert Price, wrote a book "The Incredible Shrinking Son of Man" and is said to have stated "There may have been a real figure there, but there is simply no longer any way of being sure."

- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christ_myth_theory#Robert_M._Price

 

I think that we have sketched the outlines of the debate rather well by now; if any onlooker would hope to find a straightforward answer here, then we must disappoint that person, as it's very much left to personal opinion, which, I dare say, cannot be reasonably formed without spending several months of serious study effort on it.

Edited by Tim88

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@ Tim88: Sorry if I misunderstood you and if I over-complicated the discussion. The OP has made it clear from the outset that the discussion revolves around the historicity of the Jesus character and not (necessarily) the divine Jesus of Christianity. I have made numerous references myself to the fact that one has to consciously set them apart and have actively done so in most of my posts, so i.m.o. the discussion always focussed on that aspect. Admittedly the relevance of it all was always debatable and thus more academic in nature. One could perhaps make a case that some of the Essene/Jesus teachings have successfully found their way via the synoptic gospels to mainstream Christianity though.

 

Allow me to wander a bit off topic. In reference to what you have written re the parousia and the early Christians expecting Jesus' return as being speculation, may I suggest that when you have some free time on hand, to read relevant parts of James Stuart Russel's 1878 published work The Parousia, such as Summary And Conclusion. It is a classic piece of theology that not only offered some startling arguments but that has almost single-handedly managed to sustain the doctrine of preterism. Don't get me wrong, I am not a preterist, but it offers an insightful exegesis into the New Testament expectations of the apocalyptic time and the second coming. Let me quote from one of the many reviews: The author argues with great force that our Lord declared that his coming in his kingdom would take place during the lifetime of the generation which heard his words; and that this Parousia of his was coincident with the destruction of Jerusalem, in A.D. 70,—an event which brought the Old-Testament Dispensation to a termination. Further, that according to the testimony of every writing in the New Testament, the entire Apostolic Church considered this Parousia as imminent, that they looked on it as the realisation of all their hopes, and that their great fear was lest they should be excluded by death from a participation in its blessings.

Another more recent review took a more sober approach: J. Stuart Russell in his book The Parousia essayed to proved that when our Lord spoke of His Parousia He definitely said that it would be in the fall of Jerusalem , and that all the references to the Parousia in the Epistles and Apocalypse are references to the fall of Jerusalem. But, whatever may be said of the Apocalypse, few would agree that all the Epistles, e.g. i John and 2 Peter, were written before Jerusalem fell ; and this uncritical treatment of the documents is partly the cause of Mr. Russell's far too fixed dogma about the mysterious hope. What we really find in the New Testament after the Resurrection is at first a simple expectation of the speedy coming of the Lord. Then a modification or interpretation of this hope. This proceeds in one direction, as is generally recognized, along the line laid down by Paul. In place of the immediate, visible coming there is a spiritual indwelling of the believer in Christ, more often indeed spoken of as a union of the whole family of believers in Christ. This presently develops into a large doctrine of the Church, its wide reach and purpose ; this we have in the Epistle to the Ephesians, and it is being accepted more and more generally among critics as Paul's own growth in faith.

​Admittedly this does not really contribute towards the thread topic, but it is nevertheless relevant to what we discussed yesterday.


PS:

 

I think that we have sketched the outlines of the debate rather well by now; if any onlooker would hope to find a straightforward answer here, then we must disappoint that person, as it's very much left to personal opinion, which, I dare say, cannot be reasonably formed without spending several months of serious study effort on it.

That may be true...as with most things it is much easier to develop an informed opinion if one is honest about the information before you, emotionally unattached and thus objective, and has a good understanding of the subject.

Edited by Memammal

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[..] One could perhaps make a case that some of the Essene/Jesus teachings have successfully found their way via the synoptic gospels to mainstream Christianity though.

 

Allow me to wander a bit off topic. In reference to what you have written re the parousia and the early Christians expecting Jesus' return as being speculation, may I suggest that when you have some free time on hand, to read relevant parts of James Stuart Russel's 1878 published work The Parousia, such as Summary And Conclusion. [..]

Another more recent review took a more sober approach: J. Stuart Russell [..] whatever may be said of the Apocalypse, few would agree that all the Epistles, e.g. i John and 2 Peter, were written before Jerusalem fell ; and this uncritical treatment of the documents is partly the cause of Mr. Russell's far too fixed dogma about the mysterious hope. What we really find in the New Testament after the Resurrection is at first a simple expectation of the speedy coming of the Lord. Then a modification or interpretation of this hope. This proceeds in one direction, as is generally recognized, along the line laid down by Paul.

[..]

 

Yes indeed!

I'm now finally ready to leave this thread, thanks for the interesting discussion. :)

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It seems to be an equally passionate topic for (militant) atheists who want to prove to theists that some of their most prominent religious symbols might have never existed. I think one should try to stay objective and consider all the contributing factors for each on a case-by-case approach, don't you agree? History should not be manipulated by sentiments.

 

There you go, history as we know it ;)

In my opinion people who view salvation as being on the line have a very extreme perspective. It couldn't be more militant. Throughout history they have literally waged war over issues relating to their beliefs.Taking various things on faith is an important concept to them. I understand that religion, christian, is far more prevalent than atheism in our society but that doesn't mean it isn't "militant". The list of laws, political discussions, international affairs, and etc directly rooted in Christianity are too great to list. There is not camparable impact caused by "militant atheists". It is absurd to imply passions are equally high on bothsides of this. Athiests don't come together weekly and re-enforce their beliefs. There isn't multiple organized congregation of atheists in communities pushing themselves on children, lobbying city councils, and etc.

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@ Ten oz: I don't want to be dragged into this argument. I did not mean to imply that (militant) atheists are worst than staunch theists, only that they too may have an agenda.

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@ Ten oz: I don't want to be dragged into this argument. I did not mean to imply that (militant) atheists are worst than staunch theists, only that they too may have an agenda.

 

I wonder...who would you call a millitant atheist and what kind of agenda would you say they might have ?

 

Edit:

I will answer this question myself as it is a purely rhetorical question and it might be viewed as bad intension from my side if I continue this line of discussion.

 

Firstly Memammal, I think you twisted the words around, it would be more accurate to ask about "staunch atheists" and "millitant theists"

Secondly, the most staunch atheists I know of, are Richard Dawkins and deceased Christopher Hitchens. I do not know of any more "millitant" atheists out there. Both of them dedicated most of their lives to spread the word of science and actively "fight" against bigotry of both faith (any faith) and the church (any church) by giving speaches, writing books and doing scientific research. Both of them are decent people with families. On the other hand we have the "staunch" theists like you adress them, who for the past thousand years run around burning and killing the "millitant" atheists who spread the word of science.

Edited by koti

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@ koti: You are free to share your opinion. I really did not want to be dragged into this and if you or Ten oz have first read my post in its right context, you should have been able to pick up on its intended nuance.

 

On the other hand we have the "staunch" theists like you adress them, who for the past thousand years run around burning and killing the "millitant" atheists who spread the word of science.

This, I am afraid, cannot be tolerated. You somehow conclude from what I have said that I am staunch theist, which is an outright lie. You then go further to associate me with those who have persecuted non-believers. Again that is an outright lie and a personal insult. If you would have taken a minute or so from your time to read some of my arguments in this thread, it should have been abundantly clear to you (and to anyone with a speck of intellect) that I am not a staunch Christian. As such I would like you to apologise for what you have implied with the sentence above.

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@ koti: You are free to share your opinion. I really did not want to be dragged into this and if you or Ten oz have first read my post in its right context, you should have been able to pick up on its intended nuance.

 

This, I am afraid, cannot be tolerated. You somehow conclude from what I have said that I am staunch theist, which is an outright lie. You then go further to associate me with those who have persecuted non-believers. Again that is an outright lie and a personal insult. If you would have taken a minute or so from your time to read some of my arguments in this thread, it should have been abundantly clear to you (and to anyone with a speck of intellect) that I am not a staunch Christian. As such I would like you to apologise for what you have implied with the sentence above.

Memmamal, you horribly missunderstood what I wrote. You falsy concluded that I implied that you are a "staunch theist" There is not a trace of anything in my writings that would imply that you are a staunch theist. In fact there is not a trace in my writings of any kind of implification towards you. Please read again what I wrote.

 

Edit:

Just to give you a hint of how horribly wrong you are in your line of thought of accusing me, consider that if were to use your aproach I would conclude that you imply that I am a millitant atheist...which is ofcourse preposterous. Take a deep breath, I am not your enemy and I am not implying anything towards you personally.

Edited by koti

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@ koti: If that is the case, I withdraw- and apologise for my furious reaction. I hope you understand why I over-reacted though...it is easy to misinterpret...just look at it from a slightly different angle and you will see what I mean:

 

Both of them are decent people with families. On the other hand we have the "staunch" theists like you adress them (which I understood as implying me, a "staunch theist" addressing your before-mentioned "militant atheists who are decent people with families" and-), who for the past thousand years run around burning and killing the "millitant" atheists who spread the word of science.

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@ koti: If that is the case, I withdraw- and apologise for my furious reaction. I hope you understand why I over-reacted though...it is easy to misinterpret...just look at it from a slightly different angle and you will see what I mean:

No problem Memammal, the important thing is that we got to the bottom of this.

You have a very short fuse if you managed to conclude what you concluded - my personal request to you is please take this into account as these religious arguments can escalate faster than things escalated in the first seconds at T-0.

 

My command of the English language is far from perfect as I am a non native but in my opinion, the sentence at hand is very clear and contains no personal implifications towards you.

Peace Sir.

 

Edit: Now that we have all that out of the way, would you care to adress the issues I raised?

 

Edited by koti

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Edit: Now that we have all that out of the way, would you care to adress the issues I raised?

I think that I dealt with it adequately in my original post.

 

EDIT: WITHDRAWING REST OF ORIGINAL POST

Edited by Memammal

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In my opinion, whether or not there was a historical Jesus is of little concern outside of possibly understanding anthropology, culture, history, or theology. If there were a historical Jesus, I would bet my life that he was the offspring of a human male and a human female having sex rather than parthenogenesis, that he possessed approximately zero supernatural powers, that he never suspended the laws of physics, and that he died without ever waking up again. I have literally ever single reason in the world to believe this is the case, and not a reason at all to believe otherwise.

 

I would also like to point out that the mythological character known as Santa Claus, the jolly old fat boy who goes down millions of chimneys on Christmas eve and is transported by flying reindeer is also based on a historical person. There is a historical Santa Claus, the 4th-century Christian saint Saint Nicholas. Guess what? He possessed none of the supernatural powers that are attributed to the modern mythical incarnation of Santa Claus.

 

These old myths of antiquity have little value outside of being nice little keepsakes from human history that are fun to learn about, and show the many ideas the human species evolved during the various stages of its understanding of the universe.

 

That's just my opinion.

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In my opinion, whether or not there was a historical Jesus is of little concern outside of possibly understanding anthropology, culture, history, or theology. If there were a historical Jesus, I would bet my life that he was the offspring of a human male and a human female having sex rather than parthenogenesis, that he possessed approximately zero supernatural powers, that he never suspended the laws of physics, and that he died without ever waking up again. I have literally ever single reason in the world to believe this is the case, and not a reason at all to believe otherwise.

 

 

Your opinion is of no value when faced with certainty that a human inspired/created/started Christianity, that's a reason.

 

 

I would also like to point out that the mythological character known as Santa Claus, the jolly old fat boy who goes down millions of chimneys on Christmas eve and is transported by flying reindeer is also based on a historical person. There is a historical Santa Claus, the 4th-century Christian saint Saint Nicholas. Guess what? He possessed none of the supernatural powers that are attributed to the modern mythical incarnation of Santa Claus.

 

 

 

What's the point? No-one in this thread is arguing about god...

 

 

These old myths of antiquity have little value outside of being nice little keepsakes from human history that are fun to learn about, and show the many ideas the human species evolved during the various stages of its understanding of the universe.

That's just my opinion.

 

 

 

Your opinion is so angry... Why are you so determined to bash those that don't share your beliefs, that you invade every thread, that's relate-able and post what amounts to hate speak, despite the context?

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If Jesus existed now, he would would probably be an atheist.

 

 

And?

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