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Did Jesus Exist - Bart Ehrman's new book 
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Post Did Jesus Exist - Bart Ehrman's new book
I'm not quite half way through professor Ehrman's new book. It is a good read so far and I encourage anyone interested in the topic to purchase a copy of it.

Here is a related article.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bart-d-eh ... 49544.html

Short of mythicist's desire to obtain Christ's birth certificate, they will never believe otherwise. :P


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Post Re: Did Jesus Exist - Bart Ehrman's new book
Actually/. I don#t care/


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Post Re: Did Jesus Exist - Bart Ehrman's new book
heledd wrote:
Actually/. I don#t care/


I gather you will not be leading a discussion on this any time soon, right?

Thanks for letting us know how you feel though.


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“For it is owing to their wonder that men both now begin to and at first began to philosophize; they wondered originally at the obvious difficulties, then advanced little by little and stated difficulties about the greater matters, e.g. about the phenomena of the moon and those of the sun and of the stars, and about the genesis of the universe. And a man who is puzzled and wonders thinks himself ignorant” (Metaphysics, 350 BC)


Last edited by ant on Wed Apr 04, 2012 5:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.



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Post Re: Did Jesus Exist - Bart Ehrman's new book
Yes will lead the discussion. If no one else wants to and if the book is not too expensiive. Sorry but my net very slow and unreliable here


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Post Re: Did Jesus Exist - Bart Ehrman's new book
I read the article ant linked to. Ehrman is unequivocal in his belief that Jesus was not a fiction. I'd like to read the book to see more of his proof.


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Post Re: Did Jesus Exist - Bart Ehrman's new book
DWill wrote:
I read the article ant linked to. Ehrman is unequivocal in his belief that Jesus was not a fiction. I'd like to read the book to see more of his proof.

Me too, me too! I heard him speak on NPR this past weekend.


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Post Re: Did Jesus Exist - Bart Ehrman's new book
Ehrman has come in for a lot of criticism for his new book. I thought his Huff Piece, which I have copied below. was particularly weak. Here are my comments on it.

Ehrman’s summary is a tissue of fantasy and insult. Bart has decided what he wants to believe, and then decided to ignore the facts and evidence in order to justify his fantasy. In two pages of polemic, he repeatedly insults the intelligence and integrity of readers who have analysed the questions without insisting on arguments from authority.

BE: “people still claim the Holocaust did not happen, and … the American president is, in fact, a Muslim … is it any surprise to hear that Jesus never even existed?”
• Rhetorical slur #1: Compare your opponent to cranky idiot NeoNazi conspiracists. Good one Bart. Nice collegial tone. But hey it’s a free country and religious vilification is perfectly legal.

BE: “Internet junkies who call themselves mythicists … maintains that Jesus is a myth invented for nefarious (or altruistic) purposes
• Rhetorical slur #2: Imply it is all a nervous addiction while magnanimously accepting that some who doubt the Historical Jesus story accept its inventors were well-meaning.

BE: “Few of these mythicists are actually scholars trained in … any cognate field … two (to my knowledge) actually have Ph.D. credentials in relevant fields of study. … not a single mythicist … teaches New Testament or Early Christianity or even Classics at any accredited institution of higher learning in the Western world.”
• Rhetorical slur #3: Assert the closed shop has a monopoly on wisdom. Of course no one outside the old craft guild can produce respectable work? Could the meal ticket of guild entry involve a measure of bullying about conventional views?

BE: “views are so extreme and so unconvincing to 99.99 percent of the real experts that anyone holding them is as likely to get a teaching job in an established department of religion as a six-day creationist is likely to land on in a bona fide department of biology.”
• Rhetorical slur #4: Creationism. Even though mythicists (for example Earl Doherty) produce books that focus entirely and rigorously on evidence. Creationism. Just say it again a few times in place of real argument. Warming up to the pulpit here.

BE: “deniers of Jesus are … denouncers of religion”
• Rhetorical slur #5: There is a wide range of views about religion among mythicists. Some see the recognition of the duplicity and confusion of the early church as a way of restoring some integrity to Christianity, to make it more believable, and to show the continuity with the long sweep of prior culture. Whether Jesus Christ is good is a separate question from whether he is real.

BE: ”what better way to malign the religious views of the vast majority … than to claim that the … founder of their religion was in fact the figment of his followers' imagination?”
• Rhetorical slur #6: When a paradigm shifts, people can recognize that many people of good will have accepted false information. It is not maligning their views to say they have no evidence for them, if that is in fact the case. Just because believers are mistaken does not mean they are necessarily malignant.

BE: “The view, however, founders on its own premises.”
• Rhetorical slur #7: Claim moral high ground by asserting your opponent is guilty of elementary failure of logic – patronize them as mere beginners whose simple mistake can be corrected by the distinguished condescension of the enlightened scholar.

BE: “…You may not trust Rush Limbaugh's views of Sandra Fluke, but he certainly provides evidence that she exists.”
• Rhetorical slur #8: Sandra Fluke is unambivuously mentioned by a contemporary. No one mentioned Jesus until a generation after his supposed death.

BE: “biased sources can be used to yield historically reliable information, once their biased chaff is separated from the historical kernel. And historians have devised ways of doing just that.”
• Rhetorical slur #9: Imply Jesus Believers have solved the riddle of the refiner’s fire, to introduce another Biblical metaphor, even though the quest for the historical Jesus is among the most unreliable of scholarly traditions, with rampant projection of desire to paper over absence of evidence. Historians have not ‘devised’ ways of yielding any reliable information about Jesus Christ any more than about Sir Galahad.

BE: “With respect to Jesus, we have numerous, independent accounts of his life in the sources lying behind the Gospels (and the writings of Paul)”
• Rhetorical slur #10: "Lying" is the right word here. There are no contemporary accounts, only propaganda such as Eusebius, Irenaeus, Tertullian and others who display a transparently political agenda in order “that you may believe”. Bart is winding himself up here into propaganda. Numerous? Independent? Really?? Real scholars would invite some of these pariah mythicists who question these claims to publicly debate them instead of hiding in coward’s castle.

BE: “sources like that are is [sic] pretty astounding”
• Rhetorical slur #11: But the astounding sources do does not exist. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Ordinary claims also require evidence. Pity there is none for Jesus.

BE: “…Paul, who acquired his information within a couple of years of Jesus' life and who actually knew, first hand, Jesus' closest disciple Peter and his own brother James. If Jesus did not exist, you would think his brother would know it. ”
• Rhetorical slur #12: Dismissal of the debate around the meaning of the phrase “brother of the Lord” with reference to James. Even the great early Church Father Origen of Alexandria said at Contra Celsus, Chapter 47, “Paul … regarded this James as a brother of the Lord, not … by blood … as because of his virtue and doctrine.” Such a flimsy reed to hang the entire existence of Christ upon.

BE: “Moreover, the claim that Jesus was simply made up falters on every ground. The alleged parallels between Jesus and the "pagan" savior-gods in most instances reside in the modern imagination: We do not have accounts of others who were born to virgin mothers and who died as an atonement for sin and then were raised from the dead (despite what the sensationalists claim ad nauseum in their propagandized versions). ”
• Rhetorical slur #13: The continuity between the mythic archetype of Jesus Christ and earlier dying and rising saviors is not simple, and cannot be simply dismissed. The fertility cult of the annual celebration of victory of life over death at spring fed into numerous ritual myths, of Osiris, Horus, Attis, Dionysus, Krishna, etc. The death of the old year each winter and the birth of the new year each spring is not imaginary, it is real and pervasive. But Christians, with their alienated anti-naturalism, have lost touch with this natural root.

BE: “aspects of the Jesus story simply would not have been invented by anyone wanting to make up a new Savior. The earliest followers of Jesus declared that he was a crucified messiah. But prior to Christianity, there were no Jews at all, of any kind whatsoever, who thought that there would be a future crucified messiah. The messiah was to be a figure of grandeur and power who overthrew the enemy. Anyone who wanted to make up a messiah would make him like that. ”
• Rhetorical slur #14: Insulting our intelligence. The Gospels aimed to be persuasive. They had to tell a story that was believable. While it was possible to convince people that Jesus walked on water and rose from the dead, it was not possible to convince them that Jesus was victorious over Rome. People actually knew this could not be. The post hoc requirement was to revise the grand triumphant hope into an explanation of defeat, by seeing the hidden victory within defeat, in the ability of the story of the crucified god to destroy the moral legitimacy of empire.

BE: “The Christians did not invent Jesus. They invented the idea that the messiah had to be crucified. ”
• Rhetorical slur #15: Well, maybe more a mistake than a slur. What about all the Isaiah texts in Handel’s Messiah – he was wounded for our transgressions, despised and rejected, surely he has borne our grief? The idea that prophets are ignored is a persistent mytheme in the Old Testament, and the cross is an updating of this idea for the Roman context.

BE: “…virtually every sane historian on the planet … has come to conclude based on a range of compelling historical evidence... Jesus certainly existed. ”
• Rhetorical slur #16: Critics are insane. Scientifically, evidence can be plausible, persuasive or compelling. We have compelling evidence for abundantly corroborated scientific facts that match to theory with high predictive status. We only say something is compelling when we know it to be true without doubt. The traditional story of Jesus, far from being compelling, is farcical, involving numerous made up miracles that are not historically possible. But Saint Bart can sort the chaff from the kernels to tell us which bits are “compelling”, which are merely persuasive, which are plausible, which are dubious, and which are obviously invented and untrue. His supersonic sonar radar of faith delivers absolute certainty, ‘confidence in things not seen’, as the Epistle to the Hebrews puts it. The far more compelling framework is to see the whole story as myth, meeting deeply felt political needs in the context of Roman conquest, emerging from the syncretism of the defeated myths of Israel, Egypt and Greece, gradually elaborated into a religious conviction that was able to smash all doubt and construct a fallacious fantasy of faith.  

Bart Ehrman wrote:
In a society in which people still claim the Holocaust did not happen, and in which there are resounding claims that the American president is, in fact, a Muslim born on foreign soil, is it any surprise to learn that the greatest figure in the history of Western civilization, the man on whom the most powerful and influential social, political, economic, cultural and religious institution in the world -- the Christian church -- was built, the man worshipped, literally, by billions of people today -- is it any surprise to hear that Jesus never even existed?
That is the claim made by a small but growing cadre of (published ) writers, bloggers and Internet junkies who call themselves mythicists. This unusually vociferous group of nay-sayers maintains that Jesus is a myth invented for nefarious (or altruistic) purposes by the early Christians who modeled their savior along the lines of pagan divine men who, it is alleged, were also born of a virgin on Dec. 25, who also did miracles, who also died as an atonement for sin and were then raised from the dead.
Few of these mythicists are actually scholars trained in ancient history, religion, biblical studies or any cognate field, let alone in the ancient languages generally thought to matter for those who want to say something with any degree of authority about a Jewish teacher who (allegedly) lived in first-century Palestine. There are a couple of exceptions: of the hundreds -- thousands? -- of mythicists, two (to my knowledge) actually have Ph.D. credentials in relevant fields of study. But even taking these into account, there is not a single mythicist who teaches New Testament or Early Christianity or even Classics at any accredited institution of higher learning in the Western world. And it is no wonder why. These views are so extreme and so unconvincing to 99.99 percent of the real experts that anyone holding them is as likely to get a teaching job in an established department of religion as a six-day creationist is likely to land on in a bona fide department of biology.
Why then is the mythicist movement growing, with advocates so confident of their views and vocal -- even articulate -- in their denunciation of the radical idea that Jesus actually existed? It is, in no small part, because these deniers of Jesus are at the same time denouncers of religion -- a breed of human now very much in vogue. And what better way to malign the religious views of the vast majority of religious persons in the western world, which remains, despite everything, overwhelmingly Christian, than to claim that the historical founder of their religion was in fact the figment of his followers' imagination?
The view, however, founders on its own premises. The reality -- sad or salutary -- is that Jesus was real. And that is the subject of my new book, "Did Jesus Exist?"

It is true that Jesus is not mentioned in any Roman sources of his day. That should hardly count against his existence, however, since these same sources mention scarcely anyone from his time and place. Not even the famous Jewish historian, Josephus, or even more notably, the most powerful and important figure of his day, Pontius Pilate.
It is also true that our best sources about Jesus, the early Gospels, are riddled with problems. These were written decades after Jesus' life by biased authors who are at odds with one another on details up and down the line. But historians can never dismiss sources simply because they are biased. You may not trust Rush Limbaugh's views of Sandra Fluke, but he certainly provides evidence that she exists.
The question is not whether sources are biased but whether biased sources can be used to yield historically reliable information, once their biased chaff is separated from the historical kernel. And historians have devised ways of doing just that.
With respect to Jesus, we have numerous, independent accounts of his life in the sources lying behind the Gospels (and the writings of Paul) -- sources that originated in Jesus' native tongue Aramaic and that can be dated to within just a year or two of his life (before the religion moved to convert pagans in droves). Historical sources like that are is pretty astounding for an ancient figure of any kind. Moreover, we have relatively extensive writings from one first-century author, Paul, who acquired his information within a couple of years of Jesus' life and who actually knew, first hand, Jesus' closest disciple Peter and his own brother James. If Jesus did not exist, you would think his brother would know it.
Moreover, the claim that Jesus was simply made up falters on every ground. The alleged parallels between Jesus and the "pagan" savior-gods in most instances reside in the modern imagination: We do not have accounts of others who were born to virgin mothers and who died as an atonement for sin and then were raised from the dead (despite what the sensationalists claim ad nauseum in their propagandized versions).
Moreover, aspects of the Jesus story simply would not have been invented by anyone wanting to make up a new Savior. The earliest followers of Jesus declared that he was a crucified messiah. But prior to Christianity, there were no Jews at all, of any kind whatsoever, who thought that there would be a future crucified messiah. The messiah was to be a figure of grandeur and power who overthrew the enemy. Anyone who wanted to make up a messiah would make him like that. Why did the Christians not do so? Because they believed specifically that Jesus was the Messiah. And they knew full well that he was crucified. The Christians did not invent Jesus. They invented the idea that the messiah had to be crucified.
One may well choose to resonate with the concerns of our modern and post-modern cultural despisers of established religion (or not). But surely the best way to promote any such agenda is not to deny what virtually every sane historian on the planet -- Christian, Jewish, Muslim, pagan, agnostic, atheist, what have you -- has come to conclude based on a range of compelling historical evidence.
Whether we like it or not, Jesus certainly existed.
Bart Ehrman is the author of 'Did Jesus Exist?: The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth,' now available from HarperOne.


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Post Re: Did Jesus Exist - Bart Ehrman's new book
Robert,

You are responding like a typical mythicist.
You, as other mythicists do, convieniently ignor historical evidence that does not suit your views and attempt to replace it with stories of Christian conspiracies that present stories of covert operations involving the insertion of documents that attempt to create or keep a Jesus myth in circulation - with no hard evidence to back those claims up

What ancient source for example indicates that Osiris was born on Dec 25 before 3 shepards?

The BE article is meant to stir the hornets nest.
Read it. Attacking the artIcle is secondary.
BE did a great job. Criticism of it is from Jesus haters. That is their problem not his


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Post Re: Did Jesus Exist - Bart Ehrman's new book
ant wrote:
convieniently ignor historical evidence that does not suit your views

ant, I have long been a great admirer of Jesus Christ and still am. The dogmatists who contort the eternal archetype by believing a historical fiction are the ones who fail to admire the true story. They have nefarious political motives and no integrity. Belief in the Historical Jesus is the new fundamentalism.

I don't ignore evidence. It is the historicists who ignore the total lack of real evidence for Jesus, and the clear evidence for his invention. Philo represented the Jewish people in an Embassy to Rome in 40 AD. Josephus was the commander of Jewish military forces in Galilee in the mid first century. We have extensive writings from both of them, with no reliable mention of Jesus, who was supposedly "famed far and wide". Saint Paul omits anything that would confirm he is 2IC to the founder of the religion. It is all a crock.

The Gospels are pure fiction. "Famed far and wide" has the same zero status as "walked on water", "rose from the dead", "born of a virgin" and "lived in Nazareth" (which was only established later because the Bible said Jesus lived there).

When people start to recognise the Bible as the greatest work of literary genius in world history we will start to have a serious debate about religion. While people pretend it is historical fact they are mired in delusion.

Re Osiris, if you want to know about the continuity between Christian myth and ancient Egypt I recommend you read Christ In Egypt by DM Murdock. I note Ehrman reserves particular vitriol for Murdock, and is entirely sloppy and wrong in his refusal to engage on serious scholarship regarding the topics she writes about. There is a weird psychological and political process going on here, rather like how the Church Fathers whipped themselves in a lather in order to suppress Gnosticism.


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Post Re: Did Jesus Exist - Bart Ehrman's new book
Ummm Robert - I think you are putting yourself forward for discussion leader here. Welcome to it. Are we discussing the book or not? Really fed up with all the talk about religion


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Post Re: Did Jesus Exist - Bart Ehrman's new book
Ah, the ol' theodicy problem. (at least that where I'm assuming Ehrman is coming from). I'll get the book; have only read his slashing of Dan Brown and a commentary on the New Testament. @ Heledd: this is the forum on religion and Phil, so all talk about religion is justified.


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Post Re: Did Jesus Exist - Bart Ehrman's new book
It is a book that is getting a lot of attention among those like me who are fascinated by the question of the historical existence of Jesus Christ. No one has suggested it be nominated as an official Book Talk selection. I have no plan to buy or read it, as the summary that Ehrman provided in his Huffington Post article put me off it quite badly, as I explain in my comments above.

It is a cultural debate that conceals a lot of subterranean ideology around identity and belief. Exploring the hidden motives and agendas presents an intriguing opportunity for social analysis. Why Ehrman, who had been a pinup boy for rational theology, presented this amazing apostasy against reason will continue to be a source of lively debate.


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Post Re: Did Jesus Exist - Bart Ehrman's new book
Quote:
Really fed up with all the talk about religion


Do you know what the solution to the above is?
It's quite simple - don't participate in something you are not interested in. Although I disagree with most of Robert's conclusions related to this topic, he is nevertheless very knowledgeable in the area and I enjoy examining his thoughts.


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Post Re: Did Jesus Exist - Bart Ehrman's new book
Robert Tulip wrote:
ant wrote:
convieniently ignor historical evidence that does not suit your views

ant, I have long been a great admirer of Jesus Christ and still am. The dogmatists who contort the eternal archetype by believing a historical fiction are the ones who fail to admire the true story. They have nefarious political motives and no integrity. Belief in the Historical Jesus is the new fundamentalism.

I don't ignore evidence. It is the historicists who ignore the total lack of real evidence for Jesus, and the clear evidence for his invention. Philo represented the Jewish people in an Embassy to Rome in 40 AD. Josephus was the commander of Jewish military forces in Galilee in the mid first century. We have extensive writings from both of them, with no reliable mention of Jesus, who was supposedly "famed far and wide". Saint Paul omits anything that would confirm he is 2IC to the founder of the religion. It is all a crock.

The Gospels are pure fiction. "Famed far and wide" has the same zero status as "walked on water", "rose from the dead", "born of a virgin" and "lived in Nazareth" (which was only established later because the Bible said Jesus lived there).

When people start to recognise the Bible as the greatest work of literary genius in world history we will start to have a serious debate about religion. While people pretend it is historical fact they are mired in delusion.

Re Osiris, if you want to know about the continuity between Christian myth and ancient Egypt I recommend you read Christ In Egypt by DM Murdock. I note Ehrman reserves particular vitriol for Murdock, and is entirely sloppy and wrong in his refusal to engage on serious scholarship regarding the topics she writes about. There is a weird psychological and political process going on here, rather like how the Church Fathers whipped themselves in a lather in order to suppress Gnosticism.


Okay, Robert, first things first;
Please explain to me how you treat historical evidence.
What are the differences between the treatment/examination of historical evidence vs scientific evidence? What do we have to work with when examining ancient history in comparison to the examination of the natural world that we can examine in real time?


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Post Re: Did Jesus Exist - Bart Ehrman's new book
Robert Tulip wrote:
I have no plan to buy or read it, as the summary that Ehrman provided in his Huffington Post article put me off it quite badly, as I explain in my comments above.

Why Ehrman, who had been a pinup boy for rational theology, presented this amazing apostasy against reason will continue to be a source of lively debate.


Exactly the reason why I would actually like reading it, Robert. And some books are so poorly written (argued) that they actually make for fun reading. I do suspect, however, that Ehrman is jumping on the Did Jesus Exist bandwagon. I noticed that it seems to be a popular topic for online adult continuing education courses.


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Gods and spirits are parasitic--Pascal Boyer

Religion is the only force in the world that lets a person have his prejudice or hatred and feel good about it --S C Hitchcock

Believe those who are seeking the truth. Doubt those who find it. --André Gide

Reading is a majority skill but a minority art. --Julian Barnes


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