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The Case Against the Historic Jesus Christ 
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 The Case Against the Historic Jesus Christ
[In other threads, there is too much arguing going on to get clear picture of the reason why the historicity of Jesus Christ has no merit. Two or three dozen posts of arguing often separate two points in the argument which disrupts the flow of the whole thing (although I strongly suspect some people want it that way). So here I offer my rebuttal of the case for the historicity of Jesus Christ laid out in some semblance of order. Other skeptics may not share my views. I am not going to attempt to prove that Jesus Christ was not historical. After two millennia, any hard proof is going to be in short supply. But we should use our modern legal system as a model by which to ascertain truth. If an assertion wouldn’t stand up in a court of law, we do not accept it as truth. There is no need to disprove any evidence put forth as truth. As in a court of law, I only need to raise a reasonable doubt as to its veracity or meaning.]

The majority of “scholars” believe Jesus existed. A Wikipedia article sums up the case very concisely:

Virtually all scholars who write on the subject accept that Jesus existed, although scholars differ about the beliefs and teachings of Jesus as well as the accuracy of the accounts of his life, and the only two events subject to "almost universal assent" are that Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist and was crucified by the order of the Roman Prefect Pontius Pilate. Historical Jesus scholars typically contend that he was a Galilean Jew living in a time of messianic and apocalyptic expectations. Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist, whose example he may have followed, and after John was executed, began his own preaching in Galilee for only about two to three years prior to his death. He preached the salvation, cleansing from sins, and the Kingdom of God, using parables with startling imagery, and was said to be a teacher and a faith healer. Some scholars credit the apocalyptic declarations of the Gospels to him, while others portray his Kingdom of God as a moral one, and not apocalyptic in nature. He sent his apostles out to heal and to preach the Kingdom of God. Later, he traveled to Jerusalem in Judea, where he caused a disturbance at the Temple. It was the time of Passover, when political and religious tensions were high in Jerusalem. The Gospels say that the temple guards (believed to be Sadducees) arrested him and turned him over to Pontius Pilate for execution. The movement he had started survived his death and was carried on by his brother James the Just and the apostles who proclaimed the resurrection of Jesus. It developed into Early Christianity.

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

Let’s break this paragraph down point by point:

· …the only two events subject to "almost universal assent" are that Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist and was crucified by the order of the Roman Prefect Pontius Pilate.

First, we need to ask precisely why they believe these two events are true.

Theologian Robert L. Webb at website Bible.org states:

The historicity of Jesus’ baptism by John is virtually certain. The historicity of the theophany (the Spirit’s descent and divine voice) is probable, but its timing as contemporaneous with the baptism is open to question.

Why does Webb believe the baptism is virtual historical certainty? One reason he gives is that the story appears in all three synoptic gospels. The synoptic gospels are Matthew, Mark and Luke. Synoptic means “look the same” because Matthew and Luke borrow more than half of Mark’s gospel to make their own. John is not a synoptic gospel. Since Luke and Matthew both copied extensively from Mark, there is no reason to believe either of them had independent accounts but simply cribbed theirs from Mark.

And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens opened and the Spirit descending upon him like a dove; and a voice came from heaven, “Thou art my beloved Son; with thee I am well pleased.” –Mark 1:10-11

And when Jesus was baptized, he went up immediately from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and alighting on him; and lo, a voice from heaven, saying, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” –Matthew 3:16-17

Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, "You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.” –Luke 3:21-22

The accounts are similar enough to conclude that Matthew and Luke merely copied Mark. Webb points out that the differences of Matthew and Luke from Mark point to an earlier source document that both had used. Biblical scholars have long suspected the existence of this source document composed of Jesus’s sayings and call it Q (for “quelle,” German for source).

Amusingly, liberal theologians have searched desperately for this Q document (it has never been found and no other surviving Christian writing refers to it) but conservative theologians insist it does not exist or that it does not matter whether it exists or not. German Protestant theologian Eta Linneman writes that Q… “...is nothing but fantasy....Such totally subjective arrangements, depending on dubious suggestions about the historical background, amount to novelistic trifling with early Christian origins.” She has a point. Q may exist as a collection of sayings but many theologians use it as a catch-all document that fills in every hole we find in the gospels to the point where it becomes ridiculous and it should be obvious no such document exists. Webb is guilty of this as well.

Webb wants to point out that because Matthew and Luke differ enough from Mark to make the supposition of a Q document feasible if not probable, then it likely contained an account of the baptism and so there are at least two independent sources for the baptism—Q and the Markan material. This bolsters his belief that this baptism story is historically true. That’s a big leap to hang history on a hypothetical document that isn’t even mentioned by writers of the ancient world who should have and would have been in a far better position than we, chronologically speaking, to at least know of its existence.

Webb, however, doubts that the Theophany or “prophetic call-vision” of Jesus seeing the dove descending happened at the same time as the baptism but were really two unrelated events in separate space-time locales. He writes:

I should make clear from the earlier discussion that I consider it probable that Jesus did experience some form of prophetic call-vision and that it likely involved the components associated with the theophany narrative. The difficulty was not with the event itself but with the two events having to take place at the same time and the fact that, therefore, the baptism had to be understood in light of the theophany.

But this raises a serious question: if the two events are unrelated and did not happen as described, why should we regard either event as historical? It would prove that the writers of the gospels or the elusive Q didn’t give a wit about historical accuracy. It undermines Webb’s own assertion “that the baptism of Jesus by John is historically very probable, to the point of being virtually certain.” His assertion that the Baptism and Theophany should be understood as two separate events instead of understanding the former event in light of the latter is basically, as Linneman accuses, re-writing the gospel story the way he wants it to read and then says we must accept this revision as historical certainty!!

So why would Webb compromise his own position by insisting the Baptism and Theophany are separate events? He’s very cagey on this point but I’ll tell you why: because if we read them as occurring as written, the whole Jesus story is called into question. How? Because Matthew and Luke both contain miraculous birth stories so everybody would have known how special Jesus was the day he was born. So why would Jesus need this personal epiphany to tell him what everyone around him already knows and had known for a over two decades—namely, that he is the son of God? Absurd! Read the accounts—only Jesus sees the dove and hears the voice, no one else. That moment was supposed to be Jesus’s calling but the miraculous birth makes that moment unnecessary. So Webb has no choice but insist these had to be two separate events presumably with the Theophany taking place far earlier but he cannot offer up a reasonable explanation of why they would have been conjoined. He writes, “…either Jesus later told his disciples about the early experiences that brought the two together, or early Christians used the prophetic call-vision to interpret the baptism.” But WHY??? Webb doesn’t say.

The reason Baptism and Theophany are conjoined in Matthew and Luke is because they lifted them from Mark where conjoining the two does make sense because Mark offers up no miraculous birth narrative. Mark’s gospel opens with the baptism and so Jesus was only chosen by god then and there. In other words, the divinity of Jesus was not pre-existent. Prior to the baptismal event, neither he nor anyone else knew anything about his special status as God’s son—indeed he was not adopted until that moment. So why would Matthew and Luke then lift Mark’s account of the Baptism and Theophany if it essentially destroys the pre-existent, divine Jesus they sought to create? Because the Baptism and Theophany had to be absolutely central to the Christian community they were speaking to from its earliest days—so central that to exclude it would be to render the story unrecognizable especially when adding a birth narrative the original story didn’t have. This would be like removing the ballroom scene from the story of Cinderella and adding in a story of how she was found one morning as baby lying under a tree—the purpose of the story has now been enormously altered. Removing the ballroom scene even if it contradicts the mysterious-origins story would be an entirely different story, unrecognizable. Likewise the Baptism and Theophany had to be retained by Matthew and Luke because their Christian community knew that this was how their Jesus was called into service and not by immaculate conception and miraculous birth.

Webb never discusses the big problems that John’s gospel account (1:29-34) presents to his assertions:

The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks before me, for he was before me.’ I myself did not know him; but for this I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel.” And John bore witness, “I saw the Spirit descend as a dove from heaven, and it remained on him. I myself did not know him; but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.”

Here, Jesus is not the one who sees the dove descend but rather John the Baptist does and moreover he sees the dove before the baptism! In fact, we are not certain a baptism was even performed! Moreover, we are not informed as to who sent John to baptize—presumably God but we are left guessing. So here we see the Christian story evolving from the primal importance of the Baptism and Theophany (Mark) to their secondary importance next to the Miraculous Birth (Matthew and Luke) to the Theophany becoming so important that the baptism isn’t even described (John). This also strongly indicates that the Baptism and Theophany were never supposed to be understood to be separate events. Moreover, the Baptism story originates with Mark and is not in Q not the least of reasons being that there is no credible reason that a document of sayings should mysteriously contain an account of a baptism.

Okay, we eliminate Matthew, Luke and John from our list of historical probability but we still have Mark. The Baptism and Theophany make sense in his version of events so wouldn’t this indicate that the story is historical? The problem remains that in Mark’s version, only Jesus sees the dove. There could have been no eyewitness to this event and in Mark the Baptism cannot be understood without the Theophany and, indeed, would be the only thing that would make baptism memorable to begin with. If we assume that Jesus told one of the disciples about his epiphany then we have to wonder whom he told and how the writer of Mark, who did not know Jesus, could have come by it. This hypothetical account is problematic in two ways: if it was passed on word-of-mouth then there is no telling how corrupted it would be by the time it was written down (a true story is virtually always a complete fiction by the fifth retelling) or if it was written down early and passed on, where is it? Again, hanging our hats on a hypothetical document is dangerous and would not be admissible in a court of law. Being hypothetical, it cannot introduce reasonable doubt of the fictional Jesus position.

So, in the end, should we conclude that the Baptism story is a historical certainty? No. Indeed we cannot. I think we certainly have reasonable doubt here about the Baptism story being historical.



Last edited by DB Roy on Sat Jun 13, 2015 10:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.



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Post Re: The Case Against the Historic Jesus Christ
· was crucified by the order of the Roman Prefect Pontius Pilate.

The Trial

Tacitus. This is the second point that has near unanimity among scholars as being historically true. This is largely due to a passage in Annals (written 116 CE) by the Roman historian Cornelius Tacitus, concerning the Burning of Rome in 64 CE found in book 15, chapter 44:

Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judæa, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their centre and become popular.

A Wikipedia article states:

Scholars generally consider Tacitus’s reference to the execution of Jesus by Pontius Pilate to be both authentic, and of historical value as an independent Roman source. Eddy and Boyd state that it is now “firmly established” that Tacitus provides a non-Christian confirmation of the crucifixion of Jesus.

But does he? The evidence would show that Tacitus either exaggerated Nero’s persecution or that the passage is a forgery. The problem is that there were few Christians in Rome in 64 to persecute. The earliest evidence of Christian enclaves in Rome date from about 50 CE under the reign of Claudius. These Christians were Jews who observed the Sabbath on Saturday. There were also Messianic Jews in Rome and these were by no means synonymous with Christians. In fact, the former greatly outnumbered the latter. Indeed, Suetonius around 115 CE wrote of one of the two groups thusly: “As the Jews were making constant disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus, he [Claudius] expelled them from Rome.” This occurred around the year 49. Clearly, there couldn’t have been that many of them. They numbered, at best, no more than a few hundred at the time of Nero. Tacitus also refers to Pilate as a “procurator” but the office of procurator did not exist in Judea before the year 44 and Tacitus would have known that.

But let us assume the passage is genuine. What does it tell us about the historicity of Jesus? Nothing. Tacitus merely recites the Christian story. He could have asked any Christian he met for that story. Clearly, Tacitus is not consulting any historical records because he would have used Christ’s real name. Christ was a general title used all over the empire in that time. Many military commanders and governors were called Christ just as many Englishmen of high standing are called lord. So Tacitus’s use of this common title for Jesus would have meant nothing to a Roman reader as this could have meant anybody and lends credence to the idea that the passage is a product of a later Christian forger for whom the term Christ could have meant only one person. Moreover, if a man dressed as Santa Claus was arrested for being drunk and disorderly at a mall during the Christmas season, is the police report going to say that they arrested Santa Claus? Obviously, the arrest report would give the man’s real name. And, obviously, an official historical record would have gotten Pilate’s title correct. The upshot is that Tacitus either didn’t find the Christian story intriguing enough to bother researching it or there was nothing to research because the story is a fiction. We should be properly shocked that he put any credence into a story told by a religion or cult that he goes on in the same passage to describe as “a mischievous superstition” and “evil.”

With that, I believe I have raised reasonable doubt as to “authentic” and “historical value of an independent Roman source.” So let us move onto the gospelic accounts the trial.

The gospels. The accounts of the trial of Jesus Christ are fraught with difficulties for the historic Jesus camp. Let us examine Mark’s account since his is the oldest of the four canonical gospels. The trial is found in chapter 15:

And as soon as it was morning the chief priests, with the elders and scribes, and the whole council held a consultation; and they bound Jesus and led him away and delivered him to Pilate. And Pilate asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” And he answered him, “You have said so.” And the chief priests accused him of many things. And Pilate again asked him, “Have you no answer to make? See how many charges they bring against you.” But Jesus made no further answer, so that Pilate wondered.

Now at the feast he used to release for them one prisoner for whom they asked. And among the rebels in prison, who had committed murder in the insurrection, there was a man called Barab′bas. And the crowd came up and began to ask Pilate to do as he was wont to do for them. And he answered them, “Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?” For he perceived that it was out of envy that the chief priests had delivered him up. But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have him release for them Barab′bas instead.


Here we learn that Pilate, apparently on his own, releases a prisoner to them before every Passover (he apparently governed Judea for 10 years and was in his seventh year) and they request a man “who had committed murder in the insurrection” instead of Jesus. Pilate grants their request. Even if we assume the Jews would have asked for a murderer to be released amongst them (perhaps he killed a Roman or a Jewish lackey of Rome), the Romans never would have allowed it. Then the writer tells us what was in Pilate’s mind, that he knew the priests had had Jesus arrested out of envy. Was the anonymous eyewitness who provided this account psychic if he knew what was in Pilate’s mind at any given moment?

So let us now turn to Matthew:

Now Jesus was standing before Pilate, the Roman governor. “Are you the king of the Jews?” the governor asked him.

Jesus replied, “You have said it.”

But when the leading priests and the elders made their accusations against him, Jesus remained silent. “Don’t you hear all these charges they are bringing against you?” Pilate demanded. But Jesus made no response to any of the charges, much to the governor’s surprise.

Now it was the governor’s custom each year during the Passover celebration to release one prisoner to the crowd—anyone they wanted. This year there was a notorious prisoner, a man named Barabbas. As the crowds gathered before Pilate’s house that morning, he asked them, “Which one do you want me to release to you—Barabbas, or Jesus who is called the Messiah?” (He knew very well that the religious leaders had arrested Jesus out of envy.)

Just then, as Pilate was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent him this message: “Leave that innocent man alone. I suffered through a terrible nightmare about him last night.”’

Of particular note is that last bit about the nightmare Pilate’s wife had had about this man. First of all, different English translations are confused as to whether the dream was “last night” or “today.” That tells us right there that details in stories change simply through translation. In Luke, there is nothing about Pilate’s wife but the writer instead tells us about Pilate sending Jesus to Herod Antipas who sends him back to Pilate dressed in a gaudy outfit and Pilate and Herod, who had hitherto disliked one another, are now thereafter friends. So clearly, we again have various source documents at work that differ from writer to writer. While we could resort to Webb’s reasoning and say that this demonstrates that the trial is contained in various independent sources and therefore more likely to be historical, the problem is how drastically they differ. If all the documents refer to the same historical event, why should they contain such completely different elements that are too significant to their respective narratives to have been missed by the others had they actually occurred?

But the winner for historical implausibility goes to John:

Pilate entered the praetorium again and called Jesus, and said to him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus answered, “Do you say this of your own accord, or did others say it to you about me?” Pilate answered, “Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have handed you over to me; what have you done?” Jesus answered, “My kingship is not of this world; if my kingship were of this world, my servants would fight, that I might not be handed over to the Jews; but my kingship is not from the world.” Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth. Every one who is of the truth hears my voice.” Pilate said to him, “What is truth?”

The problem here is not only is the conversation between Pilate and Jesus far more extensive than in any of the Synoptics nor how an eyewitness managed to overhear and write down this conversation for posterity, but the dialogue only works if it is a rapid-fire, back-and-forth exchange. But this cannot be the case because Pilate was not fluent in Aramaic and Jesus spoke no Greek or Latin. They would have required translators which would have slowed down the process considerably and reduced both the amount and the quality of the dialogue. But the writer of John clearly intends that the reader should understand that both men were conversing in a language that was common between them and yet there was no such language.

The Historical Pilate. Then we have to deal with the issue of the gospelic Pilate versus the historical Pilate. Did he exist? The Pilate Stone discovered in 1961 would indicate that a prefect of Judea by that name did exist. We have two historians who wrote about Pilate—Philo and Josephus. Both men present Pilate as a corrupt, obstinate figure and a malicious antagonizer of the Jews. Philo wrote in Legatio ad Gaium that Pilate had offended the Jews with the “Golden Shields Incident” where Pilate ordered the placing of golden shields carrying inscriptions in Herod’s palace simply to vex the Jewish population. Philo said that Pilate refused to remove the shields because he would never allow the Jews to believe they could pressure him to do anything and then refused to speak to a Jewish delegation composed four grandsons of Herod the Great (one of them being Herod Antipas) on the matter because he was “by nature unyielding and of a stubborn harshness.” This, of course, is impossible to reconcile with the image of Pilate in the gospels who comes across as rather meek and willing to appease the Jewish crowd to the point of releasing a murderer and allowing the execution of an innocent man. Needless to say, this would have gotten him immediately recalled to Rome and replaced instead of a 10-year term! The Golden Shields Incident was likely what Luke referred to when he said that prior to the trial of Jesus, Pilate and Herod Antipas were enemies but became friends specifically because of the trial. There is no evidence whatsoever that the two men were ever friends and if such could ever be shone conclusively to be the case, Luke’s account of the trial could be eliminated altogether from consideration as to historical veracity. As it is, it stands on very shaky ground.

Josephus. In Josephus’s Antiquities of the Jews, book 18, there appears a passage now known as the Testimonium Flavanium that reads:

About this time there lived Jesus, a wise man, if indeed one ought to call him a man. For he was a maker of miraculous works and was a teacher of human beings as accept the truth with pleasure. He won over many Jews and many of the Greeks. He was the Messiah. And when, upon the accusation of the principal men among us, Pilate had condemned him to a cross, those who had first come to love him did not cease. He appeared to them spending a third day restored to life, for the prophets of God had foretold these things and a thousand other marvels about him. And the tribe of the Christians, so called after him, has still to this day not disappeared.

A lot of ink has been spilled already analyzing and critiquing this passage. Aside from that fact that it is too gushing in its praise of this Jesus as only a Christian can muster up and is completely out of place in the text where it appears, the Testimonium comes from a time period when mentions of Jesus by credible non-Christian writers is a wasteland of damnable silence. The Testimonium is therefore just too good for the Christians to let get away.

The Testimonium was first mentioned by Eusebius in the 4th century and that should tell any honest scholar everything one needs to know about how the passage found its way in. Eusebius mentioned the Testimonium in three of his works: Demonstration of the Gospel, Ecclesiastical History and Theophany. The unusual wording used in the Testimonium such as “maker of miraculous works” (and we’re talking about the Greek text) is rhetoric that Eusebius uses dozens of times his works (he uses the same exact phrasing in The Life of Constantine for example) but which Josephus uses this one time only. Other Eusebian rhetoric that turns up in the Testimonium include phrases as “teacher of human beings” which Josephus uses only once in all his writings but which Eusebius uses several times in Demonstration. The phrase “receive the truth with pleasure” is also of a distinctly Eusebian turn. He also wrote of Christians who receive their martyrdom with pleasure, for example. Since the Testimonium comes in extremely handy for Eusebius in the three works he quotes it in and since no other writer before him had ever mentioned it. We can deduce who wrote it—not Josephus.

The liberal Christian scholars (if indeed one ought to call such people scholars) take a tack today of insisting that there is no evidence that the Testimonium is a forgery (despite the fact that there is little evidence to suggest that it could be anything else) and have taken the liberty of dividing the passage into that which was “probably” written by Josephus and that which was added later. This accomplished, (which consists of nothing more than removing anything that sounds “too Christian”) they then compared it to a 10th century Arabic version and—lo!—it matched up and also coincides with a Greek version! Of course, by the 10th century, any copy or translation of Josephus’s book had the Testimonium in it since the copying and distribution of the works were squarely in the control of the Christians and had been for centuries. But removing the overly Christian phrases from the Testimonium cannot save it from being heaped into the junkyard of forgery for, as we already pointed out, the true scholarly way of examining the text is by linguistic comparison to other works by Josephus and to other works by Eusebius and once that is accomplished nary a word of the Testimonium is salvageable as history. If Muslim or Jewish scholars want a copy of Josephus for reference and come across the Testimonium containing the overly Christian phrasings, we should not be surprised that they would themselves remove them out of suspicion that they are not the original words of Josephus but were added in by the Christians who had long controlled the copying and distribution network.

Problems with the Testimonium just judging it on its own merits are found in such phrases as:

“And many people from among the Jews and the other nations became his disciples.” (Arabic version)

“He won over many Jews and many of the Greeks.” (Greek and Slavonic version)

So my question is, who were these Jews, Greeks and followers from other nations? The Testimonium mentions that Jesus amassed these followers before his trial and execution. According to the gospels, however, there were no Greek disciples or any that were from “other nations.” And the word used is “many” followers. How many is many? 12? 500? 3000? 4 million? If Jesus won these many over, who were they and why didn’t any of them write anything about him? Not included among that many, apparently, were any writers of distinction such as Seneca the Younger or Emperor Claudius (who was a historian prior to being emperor). Particularly surprising is that Philo (c.25 BCE-c.50 CE) never wrote of Jesus. It was his concept of the Logos-Made-Flesh that Christians borrowed for their Jesus in John’s gospel. But Philo’s influence extends beyond John to Clement, Justin Martyr, Tertullian, Theophilus, Origen, Augustine and Eusebius. A contemporary of both Jesus and Paul according to the standard histories, Philo was, in fact, the single most important early writer in the development of Christianity. In fact, it couldn’t have happened without him as he is the Father of Christian Theology and yet the man the Christians borrowed so heavily from never heard of them nor of their Jesus despite being a contemporary. So who were these Greeks the Testimonium mentions? The nearest ones would have been in Alexandria but since Philo was from Alexandria then the case would appear that the Alexandrian Greeks never heard of Jesus, so who were the Greeks that became his ardent followers?

Once again, we must turn to Eusebius who in Demonstration and Ecclesiastical History makes a number of references to Jesus teaching “many myriads” of Gentiles and Greeks. He mentions Jesus as having traveled to lands far remote from Judea performing miracles and healing many Gentiles. Once again, the idea expressed in the Testimonium that Jesus had both many Jewish and Greek followers as well as other non-Jewish followers had to come from the mind of Eusebius who clearly believed it and not from Josephus. Since the entire Testimonium appears to have been written by Eusebius and fraudulently inserted into Josephus’s text by scribes who were educated with Eusebius’s works and may have truly believed it was supposed to be in there, then there is no reason to believe the sentence mentioning Pilate is any less fraudulent than the rest of the Testimonium.



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Post Re: The Case Against the Historic Jesus Christ
The Crucifixion

Immediately after Pilate hands over a man for execution that he openly perceives to be innocent, Jesus is taken away to his place of execution. By Tiberian law, this is a violation. Some 12 years earlier, Tiberius had signed into a law an order that a condemned prisoner had 10 days of deferment before sentence could be carried out. The only way that deferment period would have been skipped would be on Pilate’s orders but, surely, Pilate would not have flouted a law signed by the very man who had appointed him to his governorship!

Former evangelist preacher-turned-atheist Dan Barker once issued a challenge to an audience of Christians: “Tell me what happened on that first Easter.” The stipulation was that all four gospels had to be used and nothing could be added or omitted. If the Evangelists were so historically accurate then we should be presented with a solid narrative with few variations. Considering that Luke and Matthew lift so much of Mark to construct their own narratives, one would think that, whether historically accurate or not, the Synoptic narratives should, at least, be in agreement. They are not.

We will not examine the full Passion narrative which reveals so many flaws that it cannot be anything other than a complete fiction but shall focus here on the crucifixion. The gospels are the only detailed sources we have for the crucifixion and so we must rely on them to tell the story.

So did Simon of Cyrene carry the cross to Golgotha for Jesus or did he carry it himself? According to the Synoptics, it is the former. According to John, the latter. But we should not be content merely to point out where the Evangelists disagree with one another. That only indicates that writers got the details wrong not that the story is a fiction. So, let’s look behind the incident of Simon of Cyrene carrying the cross of Jesus to see just why the story is a fiction. Mark is the first to mention the incident. But notice how he first creates an incident in chapter 8:

31 And he began to teach them, that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders, and of the chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again.
32 And he spake that saying openly. And Peter took him, and began to rebuke him.
33 But when he had turned about and looked on his disciples, he rebuked Peter, saying, Get thee behind me, Satan: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but the things that be of men.
34 And when he had called the people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.


Notice that Mark creates two Simons—Simon of Cyrene and Simon Peter—in order to demonstrate a good Christian and a not-so-good Christian respectively. Here Jesus speaks of the suffering he must endure and Peter angrily tells him to stop talking that way and is rebuked by Jesus. Then Jesus tells everyone that those who “come after” him (that is, good Christians) must deny themselves and take up his own cross and follow Jesus. Then in chapter 15, that is precisely what Simon of Cyrene does—he takes up the cross and follows Jesus. In other words, this is a plot device where one incident sets up the other. This is further bolstered by Jesus saying good Christians must deny themselves but Simon Peter, the bad Christian example, does what? He denies Jesus—not once but thrice! Clearly, this is all carefully constructed fiction.

So why does John say that Jesus carried his own cross and so emphatically in 19:17? “So they took Jesus, and he went out, bearing his own cross…” Because John was trying to repudiate some of the Gnostic sects that apparently had some sway in his community. They said that not only did Simon of Cyrene carry the cross for Jesus but was actually the one crucified on it in Jesus’s stead. For example, in the Gnostic work called The Second Treatise of the Great Seth—a work contained in the Nag Hammadi Library discovered in 1945—the writer has Jesus saying:

Yes, they saw me; they punished me. It was another, their father, who drank the gall and the vinegar; it was not I. They struck me with the reed; it was another, Simon, who bore the cross on his shoulder. It was another upon Whom they placed the crown of thorns. But I was rejoicing in the height over all the wealth of the archons and the offspring of their error, of their empty glory. And I was laughing at their ignorance.

This, of course, leads to the conclusion that since Jesus did not die on the cross, there was no need for a resurrection. In the view of some Gnostic sects, Jesus was a victim of the archons. To keep this as short as possible, let us just say that archons are a type of demons (“authorities” or “spirits of wickedness”) that control people’s minds. Jesus’s death and resurrection would have been no victory over the archons in the Gnostic view but tricking them, outsmarting them, would be. To counter this type of thing going on in his community, John deleted Simon of Cyrene from his narrative and instead emphasizes in his gospel, “And Jesus carried his own cross, you assholes!” Again, this cannot be a historical recounting but rather a fictional creation.

In Mark, Jesus is offered drugged wine, i.e. wine mingled with myrrh. This was an act of mercy to dull the senses and therefore the agony. Jesus refuses it because he had already stated in 14:25, “Truly, I say to you, I shall not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.” He said that because he knew he would be offered drugged wine at his execution but would turn it down preferring to experience the agony in full. However, Matthew and Luke differ on this point by dragging in the 69th Psalm of LXX although each uses different verses where the narrator speaks of being given gall and vinegar as an act of cruelty. So now instead of drugged wine as in Mark, Matthew has Jesus drinking wine soured with gall and Luke has him drinking wine soured with vinegar. The soldiers’ act goes from one of mercy to one of cruelty.

Now, if Matthew and Luke simply had different accounts from Mark, why did they have to rely so heavily on Mark in the first place? Clearly, they were differing with Mark rather selectively in order to make Old Testament “prophecies” line up with Jesus. In other words, this is nothing but fiction.

But wouldn’t that indicate that Mark is true? Maybe Luke and Matthew made up things using Mark but that doesn’t mean that Mark made anything up. Unfortunately, for that argument, it does. Mark’s incidents are also taken out of the Old Testament but he generally doesn’t cite them as such either because he was unaware or he didn’t want to for reasons of his own. If Mark was unaware of the OT references in his gospel then he had to have lifted the story from an earlier writer. Since Mark is generally considered to have been written around 70 CE, only 40 years or so after the death of the gospelic Jesus, this makes the traditional timeline of the historical Jesus somewhat problematic in that the original writing would not have gotten lost that quickly. Mark may have neglected to mention the OT references in order for his narrative not to appear too contrived. Either way, this is clearly not a history.

Crucifixion itself does indeed appear to have been a punishment used by the Romans in the days of the gospelic Jesus. This does appear to support the gospel story—almost. The problem is that the form of crucifixion described in the gospels is not the Roman punishment but one of ritual sacrifice practiced all over the ancient world. The Romans did not offer wine to the condemned nor coronate them with a crown of thorns nor thrust a spear into the one crucified nor part his garments. This is all ritual sacrifice. The fact that the crucifixion is set at Passover time when the Paschal lambs (“Behold the lamb of God”) are being slaughtered for sacrifice is not only proof but intentional on the part of the writers.

I believe at this point I have shown reasonable doubt as to the historical veracity of the trial and crucifixion of Jesus. There is simply no good reason to believe either.

With these two universally accepted events in the life of Jesus—the baptism and trial—now stripped down to reveal a veritable house of cards, let’s turn to other historical references to see what there is to see.



Last edited by DB Roy on Sat Jun 13, 2015 11:03 pm, edited 3 times in total.



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Post Re: The Case Against the Historic Jesus Christ
Paul

How Christian apologists can overlook the undeniable fact that Paul knew nothing about the gospelic Jesus is a little mental trick they play on themselves. They, like the New Testament compilers, place the gospels first and make Paul play second fiddle to them. This is ridiculous because anybody who has done any study at all about the origins of Christianity knows that Paul’s epistles pre-date the gospels by decades and some by over a century. Yet Christian apologists fit Paul’s words into a gospelic framework that he preceded and knew nothing about. Instead having the gospels bear out Paul as should be the case due to the chronology involved, Christian apologists have Paul bear out the gospels! We’ll get more into this as we go along.

Paul is essentially the original Christian. 1 Thessalonians is considered by many biblical scholars to be the earliest of the NT writings (others give that distinction to the Epistle of James). Paul’s writings are believed to have been penned about five decades or so into the first century CE. The first question we need to ask is, of course, just who is Paul anyway? Acts states that Paul was originally named Saul and came from Tarsus in Syria. Paul was, by his own words, a Pharisaic Jew. That a Pharisaic Jew would have come from Tarsus—a non-Jewish city—is unlikely. Paul, in his own writings, never claimed to be named Saul originally nor did he ever claim that he came from Tarsus. Acts states that this Saul persecuted Christians and Paul himself stated that this was the case.

Now we enter a strange part of Paul’s story—his conversion to Christianity. Acts 9 states that Paul was persecuting Christians having some kind of legal authority to do so. The Christians flee to Damascus and Paul pursues them. On the road to Damascus, Paul is dazzled by a brilliant light from heaven from which issues a voice saying, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”

“Who are you, lord?” asks Saul.

“I am Jesus whom you are persecuting: but rise and enter the city and you will be told what you are to do.” The men traveling with Saul heard the voice but saw nothing. Saul discovers he is blind and had to be led into Damascus where he remained without sight for three days. Afterwards, he converts to being a follower of Jesus and takes the name of Paul.

In Acts 22:6-9, Paul describes his conversion:

“As I made my journey and drew near to Damascus, about noon a great light from heaven suddenly shone about me. And I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?’ And I answered, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ And he said to me, ‘I am Jesus of Nazareth whom you are persecuting.’ Now those who were with me saw the light but did not hear the voice of the one who was speaking to me.”

Notice here that the story has changed from the other men hearing the voice and not seeing the light to seeing the light but not hearing the voice. He does not mention being blinded temporarily. The apologist actually tries to smooth this over by saying the first account is not Paul’s while the second one is in his own words and hence the discrepancy. But this raises more questions than it answers. How could the author insert his own apparently erroneous account of Paul’s conversion if he had Paul’s own account to compare it to? Also, in his epistles, Paul never once referred to Christ as “Jesus of Nazareth” or mentioned Nazareth in any capacity.

But then we come to Acts 26:12-18 where Paul gives this account of his conversion to King Agrippa:

“Thus I journeyed to Damascus with the authority and commission of the chief priests. At midday, O king, I saw on the way a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, shining round me and those who journeyed with me. And when we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice saying to me in the Hebrew language, ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? It hurts you to kick against the goads.’ And I said, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ And the Lord said, ‘I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. But rise and stand upon your feet; for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you to serve and bear witness to the things in which you have seen me and to those in which I will appear to you, delivering you from the people and from the Gentiles—to whom I send you to open their eyes, that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’

This account is yet markedly different from the other two and, again, no mention of being blinded and all present apparently saw the light which Paul had denied earlier. I find quite remarkable the fact that a single document would give three different accounts of the same incident. Another strange thing is that Paul tells Agrippa that he was going to Damascus to hunt the Christians down “with the authority and commission of the chief priests.” What’s inexplicable is that Paul is a Pharisee and these chief priests he refers to are Sadducees! One group has no authority over the other and this was at a time when the Pharisees and Sadducees were not even on speaking terms! Moreover, who in Damascus was supposed to recognize Paul’s authority to enter the city and conduct a manhunt? Damascus was a non-Jewish city under the reign of a non-Jewish king named Aretas. Paul’s letters of authority would mean nothing to him or anyone who worked for or was appointed by him.

While Acts tries to make Paul’s persecution seem like a big deal, it must have been very minor. Acts states that Paul entered the houses of Christians on a whim indicating a virtual pogrom against the Christians but this seems unlikely because the Church in Jerusalem was open and operating throughout this persecution. Then after Paul is converted, the persecution apparently ceases because it is never mentioned again. Paul was apparently a one-man anti-Christian persecution army. So under whose authority was he acting?

In Acts 9:23-25, Paul escapes from the Jews who want to kill him as described below:

When many days had passed, the Jews plotted to kill him, but their plot became known to Saul. They were watching the gates day and night, to kill him; but his disciples took him by night and let him down over the wall, lowering him in a basket.

But in 2 Corinthians 11:32-33, Paul writes of this incident thusly:

At Damascus, the governor under King Ar′etas guarded the city of Damascus in order to seize me, but I was let down in a basket through a window in the wall, and escaped his hands.

Acts, I think we can agree, is not historically accurate and is, in fact, out and out fraudulent and should not be depended on for this purpose.

So the only writings on which we can rely for how Paul regarded Jesus are his own writings and this is problematic because Paul is like a politician. Many today believe Paul was a “Missionary to the Gentiles” but he was not. If one reads his epistles carefully, Paul does nothing to spread Christianity. Everywhere he goes there are already communities of Christians who send delegations to meet him. So what was Paul doing?

To understand Paul’s true mission, we need to understand the nature of his conversion to Christianity. He did have a conversion even though it was nothing like the account(s) that Acts gives us. Paul admits in his epistles to persecuting Christians but gives no details on exactly what this consisted of or where. In Galatians 1:13-14, Paul writes:

For you have heard of my former life in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God violently and tried to destroy it; and I advanced in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people, so extremely zealous was I for the traditions of my fathers.

Acts mentions that Paul had a major role in the stoning of Stephen but Paul himself never mentions any Stephen. He never said what his role was in this persecution or what deeds he actually performed.

Then Paul became a Christian after Christ appeared to him in the spirit but he is again not very forthcoming about how this occurred. He describes this conversion rather concisely in Galatians 1:11-12:

For I would have you know, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not man's gospel. For I did not receive it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through a revelation of Jesus Christ.

Exactly how this revelation occurred is mysterious because Paul provides so few details. What is important to note is that Paul makes clear that he was not taught anything about his Christ Jesus, that his gospel is not of human origin. Evidently, everything Paul knows about Christ came to him in this revelation and he bases his gospel on nothing else. This lets us know unequivocally that Paul was NOT preaching a historical Jesus! We do have a further bit of information from a strange account in 2 Corinthians 12:1-6 of someone’s metaphysical experience:

I must boast; there is nothing to be gained by it, but I will go on to visions and revelations of the Lord. I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows. And I know that this man was caught up into Paradise—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows—and he heard things that cannot be told, which man may not utter. On behalf of this man I will boast, but on my own behalf I will not boast, except of my weaknesses.

The man Paul refers to is himself. He says so later. So why does Paul imply he is not this man? He gives the reason: he doesn’t want to come across as boasting. Paul seems to equate the third heaven with Paradise and claims he journeyed there in some way and is not even sure if he was in the body or out of it. Was Paul an epileptic describing a seizure or was he using psychotropic drugs? We don’t know, of course. Most importantly, Paul intimates that there are secret teachings because the man who journeyed to this realm “heard things that cannot be told, which man may not utter.”

This causes me to suspect that Paul may be making the whole thing up. His vision with its secrets makes him the perfect leader of a cult and all the more powerful because he used to persecute Christians but he goes into no detail concerning this. It comes across to me as a carefully constructed story. The apologists go backwards by taking Paul’s statements and combining them with Acts to fill in the blanks and—Voila!—the story is complete. But, as we have seen, Acts is not to be believed and nothing Paul says about his conversion jibes with what is found in Acts (Acts does not even jibe with itself!). To resort to such tactics is the worst type of scholarship—is, in fact, not scholarship at all.

The last information concerning Paul’s conversion is found in 1 Corinthians 15:3-11:

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. For I am the least of the apostles, unfit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God which is with me. Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.

I find this passage suspect as it doesn’t fit Paul’s other conversion accounts and mentions quite a lot of people he never mentions anywhere else in his writings. He mentions “the twelve” for example. The twelve what? Disciples? He already mentioned Cephas or Peter who was supposed to be one of the 12 disciples so that takes us down to 11. Christ certainly could not have appeared to Judas so that takes us down to 10! The twelve were not the apostles because Paul mentions them separately as well. Who are they? As far as the 12 disciples are concerned, Paul never mentioned them at all. He never mentioned Christ as ever gathering disciples. And as far as the risen Christ being seen by over 500 “brethren” at once has no parallel in any other NT writing. Nor does Paul mention that the first people to see the risen Christ, according to the gospels, were women! We are given no clue whether these appearances were in the flesh as the gospel-writers supposedly believed or in the spirit as Paul believed. If Paul actually wrote this passage then we should conclude he believed these appearances to be in the spirit. Then again, Paul never mentions Jesus appearing to anyone other than himself in the rest of his epistles. Even if the risen Christ appeared to all these people, we don’t know what they would have believed about it because it happened before any gospel—canonical or apocryphal—was written and, in Paul’s own words, some of them were dead at the time he wrote the epistle.

In Romans 8:1-14, Paul puts forth his belief in the spirit over the flesh:

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set me free from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do: sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh,
in order that the just requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God's law, indeed it cannot; and those who are in the flesh cannot please God. But you are not in the flesh, you are in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Any one who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, although your bodies are dead because of sin, your spirits are alive because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit which dwells in you. So then, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh—for if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.


Even in the fraudulent accounts of the appearance of Christ to Paul that are found in Acts, Paul never saw a bodily Jesus but only a blinding light. In the gospels, we are presented with difficulties that Jesus rose in his physical body. In John 20:14-15, Mary Magdalene does not recognize the risen Christ and even supposes him to be a gardener. How could she not recognize Jesus in the flesh? In John 21:4, the same thing happens with the disciples, they see the risen Christ and do not recognize him. In Luke 24:13-31, they not only do not recognize the risen Christ even as he walks and talks with them. When they suddenly do recognize him later in the day, he vanishes into thin air before their very eyes. In Revelation, he appears to John as a woman with a “girdle” around “his paps” (tois mastois or “the breasts”)!

A great many Christian apologists (as well as the Catholic Church) disagree because the gospels, they say, which came after Paul, say that Christ was resurrected in the flesh. To them, Christ’s resurrection is a sham if it only occurred in the spirit and so it had to occur in the flesh and so Paul must have believed the same thing and often quote 1 Corinthians 15:12-23 where we read:

Now if Christ is preached as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised; if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified of God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised. If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all men most to be pitied.

But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ.


But this passage does not put flesh over spirit simply because Paul’s wording is ambiguous. Paul’s audience appears to be those that doubted whether there was anything after death at all. The passage only makes sense in that context. He tells them that, yes, the dead will rise again when Christ returns but is not making clear here whether that will be in the flesh or in the spirit.

This brings us to the point I wish to make about Paul. He was essentially a politician. He was not a missionary but someone trying to unite the disparate Christian sects and communities under his banner, his own Christian order. To do this, he had to visit them to shake hands and kiss babies as it were. He had to study them to speak their lingo and stroke their belief systems. This makes knowing how Paul really felt about things hard to pin down. He chose his words carefully to avoid appearing to be too much in one camp at the expense of alienating the others. This has consistently led to “scholars” second-guessing what Paul believed.

Some scholars, for example, say that Paul believed Jesus was “descended from David according to the flesh” because he states as much Romans 1:3. If Paul constantly hammered on this point throughout his epistles then I would accept this but he never mentioned it in any other epistle or even repeats it Romans. That opening salutation is the only place where that statement is found. In the next verse in Romans, Paul goes onto write, “and designated Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead.” Again, Paul uses no such terminology anywhere else in Romans nor in any other epistle so what should we conclude from this? I would conclude that these were the two primary Christian camps he would be meeting up with in Rome (he wasn’t in Rome when he wrote Romans and there is no proof he ever went there much less died there). Paul simply spit their respective beliefs about Christ back at them to appease them and draw them under his umbrella. If Paul really believed Christ was descended from David or was the Son of God in power (whatever that even means) then he would have constantly hammered on these points throughout his epistles but he mentions them this once and never brings them up again.

So what did Paul believe about Jesus? He believed whatever he learned from this vision he claimed to have. In truth, all we can be certain that Paul believed of Christ is that he was apparently betrayed in some manner, was crucified and that he was raised again (in the spirit) by God. He constantly mentions those last two points and mentions the betrayal in two epistles. Just about anything else is up in the air. In 1 Corinthians 15:3-4, he states three main points: 1. Christ died for our sins, 2. Was buried 3. And raised on the third day. The problem here is that for Paul none of this happened in reality but merely “according to scripture” (meaning the OT as the NT didn’t exist yet) which flies in the face of his claims to have received his gospel from no human being. Moreover, Paul doesn’t mention any of the “he rose after three days” in any of his other epistles. He states that Christ rose and leaves it at that. So we have good reason to suspect this passage to be a later forgery to get Paul more in line with gospelic Christianity.

So did Paul believe Jesus was historical? This can’t be answered with a simple yes or no. Paul believed first and foremost in his visionary Christ that he met in Paradise but he had no reason not to suppose that this Christ had an earthly history. So he could believe in a Christ he met in the third heaven and still believe this Christ was a creature of history and had once walked the earth. What he didn’t know was when or where on earth this Christ walked so he does not assign Christ a historical space-time locale.

But didn’t Paul believe that James was Jesus’ biological brother? Obviously not. If he didn’t know where his Christ lived or when, how could he believe that James was the biological brother of this person? Yet in Galatians 1:19 Paul writes, “But I saw none of the other apostles except James the Lord’s brother.” First of all, in the Greek text, Paul does not say “the Lord’s brother” but rather “Jakobon ton adelphon tou Kuriou” or “James the brother of the Lord” (even the upper and lower case is subjective since lower case Greek letters did not exist in Paul’s day). Why is this significant? Because by dishonestly translating “brother of the Lord” into “the Lord’s brother” a familial relationship is implied where none exists (this again applies to my earlier point that translation introduces all kinds of intentional and unintentional changes to the meaning of a text).

The Brothers of the Lord were a religious order that existed in Paul’s day and James evidently was the leader if not the founder. Paul refers to them in 1 Corinthians 9:4-6 where he writes:

Do we not have the right to our food and drink? Do we not have the right to be accompanied by a wife, as the other apostles and the brothers of the Lord and Cephas? Or is it only Barnabas and I who have no right to refrain from working for a living?

Here, Paul is asking if he and those he has personally recruited have the same dietary and matrimonial rights as other religious groups who profess to follow Jesus, specifically the other apostles, Cephas and the Brothers of the Lord (“hoi adelphoi tou kuriou”). If Paul were referring to the biological brothers of Jesus, the statement would be nonsensical. One would think since the apologists have no trouble combining the statements in the gospels with Paul’s anywhere it suits them that they would have the integrity to admit that the gospels tell us that the biological brothers of Jesus were opposed to his ministry all the way to the end. Yet, somehow this biological brother of Jesus—James—suddenly becomes a major player (according to some, a bishop!) among the followers of Jesus without so much as an attempt by any of the NT writers to explain how this could have happened.

Yet liberal Christians as Bart Ehrman state, “Paul knew Jesus’ brother, James, and he knew his closest disciple, Peter, and he tells us that he did. If Jesus didn’t exist, you would think his brother would know about it, so I think Paul is probably pretty good evidence that Jesus at least existed.”

For a university professor and scholar, I am incredulous at Ehrman’s words. First, Paul did not tell us he knew the biological brother of Jesus and I’ve already explained why. Paul also never said he met a disciple named Peter or Cephas if by disciple Ehrman means someone personally recruited by Jesus (and that is what he means). He mentions a Cephas but gave no indication whatsoever that this Cephas or this James he mentioned actually knew Jesus personally. Why would Paul place so much emphasis on his vision of Christ if he was in contact with people who actually knew Jesus? Why would he say that he learned his gospel from no man if he believed these men knew Jesus? That would indicate that if these men did personally know Jesus in the flesh then Paul put no stock in anything they said but opted to place his vision above their concrete memories. Ehrman’s statement, “If Jesus didn’t exist, you would think his brother would know about it…” is meaningless since it goes on the assumption that James was the biological brother of Jesus. What if he wasn’t but was instead the leader of a religious order? Now Paul’s reliance on his vision over anything these men had to say makes sense. They are essentially or at least potentially rivals to Paul and his order. Once again, Paul gives no indication that he knew anything at all about the gospelic Jesus. Contrary to Ehrman’s belief that Paul is “probably pretty good evidence that Jesus existed,” he is actually excellent evidence of the opposite.

Again, my goal here is not to prove anything beyond a shadow of a doubt but merely to raise a reasonable doubt. There is no reason to believe that “James the brother of the Lord” is anything besides a title and not statement of a familial relationship because Paul knew nothing of the gospelic Jesus. In the same epistle of Galatians where Paul describes his time in Jerusalem, he never once refers to it as the city where his Lord was crucified nor does he mention having visited the spot where the crucifixion took place. He gives no indication that he was even aware that Christ had ever visited the place much less died there. If he was at all familiar with the gospel story, how could that possibly be?



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Post Re: The Case Against the Historic Jesus Christ
John the Baptist

Anyone who reads the gospels cannot help but notice just how close John the Baptist and Jesus are. Anyone who wonders about it cannot help but conclude that they are, in fact, too close. Who was John? The gospels are of little help because they not only don’t tell us anything about John, they are in disagreement as to his familial relationship with Jesus. Luke is emphatic that John was a (second) cousin to Jesus and six months older. His mother, Elizabeth, was the cousin of Mary, mother of Jesus. The other gospels make no mention of this and the fact is obvious that the other writers either did not believe it or were unaware of it—almost certainly the latter. Yet, how could they be unaware of such an important detail of what could only have been an extremely remarkable family?

But Luke isn’t content to simply tell us that John was cousin to Jesus, he gives us John’s birth story first and it is foretold in precisely the same supernatural fashion as Jesus where an “angel of the Lord” (Gabriel) comes to Elizabeth and tells her she is carrying a child “filled with the Holy Spirit.” Gabriel doesn’t call this baby the son of God but he is nonetheless special or divine in some way although exactly how is a mystery. Apparently, Elizabeth did not conceive in the same way Mary did although it would certainly appear to our eyes to have been the identical process.

What should be obvious to the attentive reader is that Luke has the need to tell us so much about John the Baptist’s origins because obviously before Jesus became the big messiah on the block, John filled the role for the Jews. Evidently, with his star fading among the Jews, John fell out of favor and was replaced with a new messiah—Jesus. Luke felt the need to convince his community that Jesus was greater than John without insulting him. Rather, they were related and this was all God’s plan that John simply clear a path for Jesus. Since John turns up in all four gospels, then one thing is certain—he was a well-known messianic figure to each community. What else they may have known about him was lost once Jesus replaced him as messiah.

The life story of each appears to be identical only the name changed. In Matthew, Mary takes Jesus and flees to Egypt to escape enemies. In Luke, when Elizabeth was five months pregnant with John, she flees to the hill country of Judea to escape enemies. John was supposedly born only six months before Jesus and so they represented waning and waxing halves of the year. John is quoted as saying of Jesus in John 3:30, “He must increase but I must decrease.” Luke tells us about the births of both Jesus and John but nothing about their lives as youths other than Jesus being found in a temple at age 12 but otherwise the boyhoods of either man are a blank. Jesus goes to Judea to baptize and John just happens to be there doing the same thing. John is put to death, once again, about six months before Jesus and so they die at the same age. After John’s death, Herod is afraid that he has risen from the dead! Doesn’t seem quite kosher as history, does it?

John the Baptist (and Jesus for that matter) may have become enshrouded in myth as a throwback to the Sumerian law-giver Oannes. Oannes is a form of the name John. He lived in the sea and wore a fish skin which has parallels to Jesus as IChTHYS and a water-man which is what John as the baptizer was. Oannes was said in the Sumerian legends to neither eat nor drink and in Matthew 11:19 Jesus says, “For John came neither eating nor drinking.” John is also identified in the NT as Elijah (from the Hebrew Eliyahu or “My God is Jah”) who performed such miracles as raising the dead and ascending into heaven in a whirlwind.

In Antiquities 18.5.2 116-119, Josephus writes about John in a way that sounds suspiciously like Jesus:

Now some of the Jews thought that the destruction of Herod's army came from God, and was a very just punishment for what he did against John called the baptist [the dipper]. For Herod had him killed, although he was a good man and had urged the Jews to exert themselves to virtue, both as to justice toward one another and reverence towards God, and having done so join together in washing. For immersion in water, it was clear to him, could not be used for the forgiveness of sins, but as a sanctification of the body, and only if the soul was already thoroughly purified by right actions. And when others massed about him, for they were very greatly moved by his words, Herod, who feared that such strong influence over the people might carry to a revolt -- for they seemed ready to do any thing he should advise -- believed it much better to move now than later have it raise a rebellion and engage him in actions he would regret.

Christian apologists love to quote this passage because they feel it vindicates their belief in the historic Jesus. Josephus mentions John as do the gospels therefore John must have existed and Jesus alongside him. If they were wise, however, they would want to pronounce this passage a forgery. The problem here though is that the passage does indeed appear to be genuine. Rather than proving their case, this Johannine passage comes close to utterly destroying Christianity. The reason is that Josephus makes no connection of John to Jesus. If the gospels are correct, the omission is nothing short of staggering.

Josephus mentions how Herod feared the strength of John’s movement and yet, according to the gospels, John had already passed his followers over to Jesus and virtually stepped aside proclaiming Jesus the true leader whose way he was sent to clear for him. So why arrest John and leave Jesus in charge of this movement? Herod’s motive for arresting John in the first place was to stamp the movement out and so he would have no choice but to arrest both John and Jesus. To pay no attention to Jesus who continues to lead the very movement Herod feared while John rots in jail for two whole years makes no sense. Josephus’s account reads as though there simply was no Jesus for Herod to worry about. Josephus tells us nothing about the movement continuing after John’s demise which, in light of the gospel accounts, doesn’t say much for the historical Jesus.

If we combine this with the Testimonium and grant the apologists a momentary assent that it was not a rank forgery but genuinely Josephan, the Johannine passage becomes even more inexplicable! Here is this remarkable man, John, and he has banded together with his cousin Jesus—someone Josephus supposedly holds in such high esteem that he questions whether “it be lawful to call him a man.” And yet, here Josephus makes no mention of him despite the fact that the presence of Jesus would have been especially noteworthy! The apologist at the point will fall back on his familiar “absence of evidence is not evidence of absence” but it will do him no good here. Josephus’s silence is damning.

But we are only getting started! If John and Jesus did not know each other, the entire Christian edifice collapses. There would have been no baptism in the Jordan River and hence no subsequent personal epiphany of Jesus of seeing the dove descending which was his calling. This incident is the very foundation of Mark’s gospel! His story starts with the baptism! Everything that follows in Mark grew out of that single incident. Without it, the gospel would never have been written! This has the domino effect of knocking down the synoptic gospels. Since Matthew and Luke both cribbed more than half of Mark to compose their gospels—it serves as the plot device of each—without Mark, neither Matthew nor Luke have any bones on which to hang flesh. They too would not have existed. In John’s gospel, the story of how Jesus acquired Peter and Andrew would have to be deleted since they left the Baptist to follow Jesus after John told Andrew and an unnamed disciple that Jesus was “the Lamb of God.” Then Andrew brought Simon Peter into the flock and Peter, according to Christian history, was one of the most important men that ever lived because of his association with Jesus. So, the foundations of Jesus’s ministry, according to John the evangelist, could not have happened if Jesus and John the Baptist did not know each other.

But we must conclude that neither man knew the other if we are to hold up Josephus as a reliable source of historical information about both. The Johannine passage and the Testimonium (which also does not connect Jesus to John) work against each other and thus destroy the very foundation of the Christian religion. If we dismiss the Testimonium as the forged rubbish that it is, we are left with no historical evidence whatsoever of Jesus Christ from Josephus.



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Post Re: The Case Against the Historic Jesus Christ
Further thoughts about the historical Jesus

While I could continue to write on this matter, I have gone as far as I care to at this point. While I think this series of posts certainly cast doubt on the existence of Jesus the Christ, none of it can prove that case.

Some may ask my motivation for presenting a case against the historic Jesus. Basically, why should we make this belief easy? If there is sufficient evidence to prove this personage existed then show it. If there is not (and this certainly appears to be the case) then there should be doubts and the verdict should not be in. However, among “historians” and “scholars” the verdict is in: he existed. They conclude this not on the evidence because such would force them to the opposite conclusion but because of cultural acclimation. They either do not want to rock the boat which, in this culture, could cost them friendships or jobs or they are Christians themselves and therefore have a built-in bias that does not allow them to reach proper conclusions when reviewing the evidence. This causes a second mistake to occur: they are now in no position to say that any other religious savior didn’t exist and so conclude Mohammad, Buddha, Krishna, Zoroaster, etc. all existed when the likelihood is exceedingly small in reality. This turns history into a sham.

The real problem lies not in conservative rightwing Christianity; the problem is liberal Christianity. The liberal Christian presents himself as level-headed, tolerant and tempering his beliefs with science. None of these three traits are true. Liberals are often as biased and ignorant as the zealous conservative Christians they dislike so much. Debating with them is like swinging at a phantom. They are the shape-shifters of the Christian religion.

With most other types of believers, you can set a base line. For example, in debating Jesus with conservative Christians, they are going to steadfastly stick to the gospel story of baptism, theophany, miracles, trial, crucifixion, resurrection. They are not willing to accept a Jesus that had no powers or connection to some divine source. The liberals, on the other hand, will jettison any part of the story to make their case and don’t care if they are being inconsistent about it. If you criticize the miracles because some of them involve exorcizing demons when we know no such thing really happens, the liberals then throw it out but still insist Jesus was real. If you point out that resurrection and virgin births are trademarks of gods and demigods going back centuries before Christianity ever existed, the liberals will gladly throw it out but still insist that Jesus was real. I have debated with people who say that they accept that the gospels are fictions and the Testimonium is a forgery but they still believe Jesus existed. At that point, it becomes a case of “Believers gonna believe” and there is nothing more that can be done.

The liberal tactic has been to tout a historical Jesus but to strip him of his divinity. The reason is that because stories of the virgin birth, the miracles, the necromancy and the resurrection raise serious questions as to their veracity. The religious liberals have no other reason for needing to strip Jesus of his divinity than because they simply cannot accept it without feeling gullible and foolish.

Having accomplished this, the religious liberal then proceeds to pronounce Jesus a great, compassionate, peaceful and wise teacher who walked in Palestine, gained a loyal following and upset authorities with his revolutionary message that threatened to shake Jewish society to its foundations (as if this were necessarily a good thing) and so was arrested, tried and crucified. Afterwards, his followers kept his memory alive and eventually he was adapted as a figurehead for a church.

Bart Ehrman states, “Jesus’ teachings of love, and mercy and forgiveness, I think, really should dominate our lives. On the personal level, I agree with many of the ethical teachings of Jesus and I try to model my life on them, even though I don’t agree with the apocalyptic framework in which they were put.”

This raises a question in my mind about liberal Christians I cannot find an answer to. I can understand where the conservative Christian is coming from. To them, Jesus was more than just a moral teacher—he was God’s son who gave his life to pay for our sins. Someday, he will return to judge the quick and the dead. Others believe that they will be airlifted into heaven and the rest of us will be LEFT BEHIND! I think these are perfectly silly beliefs but I can understand a Christian believing in Jesus in this fashion because he offers something that can be had no other way.

The liberal Christian, on the other hand, is complete puzzle. He only claims to follow Jesus because he taught compassion and peace and love. Do I really need to be a Christian to do this? Do I need Jesus to tell me to have compassion, to avoid violence, to love the world and everything in it? Why not follow Buddha or Zoroaster—they taught the same things. So did Gandhi and Martin Luther King and at least we know they really existed. No, I find this unconvincing and disingenuous. The liberal Christian is, when all is said and done, still a Christian for a reason.

Ehrman also offers that shape-shifting trait that liberal Christians possess when he says that he agrees with Jesus’s words “…even though I don’t agree with the apocalyptic framework in which they were put.” Notice how the liberal Christian can rearrange the deck anyway he wants to for whatever purposes he chooses. This makes debating them virtually impossible.

We have plenty of examples from the Christian Canon where Jesus does not preach love, peace or compassion:

“And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee.” --Matthew 5:30

“And that slave who knew his master's will and didn’t prepare himself or do it will be severely beaten.” --Luke 12:47

“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.” --Luke 14:26

“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.” --Matthew 10:34-35

“And when he was alone, they that were about him with the twelve asked of him the parable. And he said unto them, ‘Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables: That seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them.’” --Mark 4:10-12

The liberal Christian will simply respond that Jesus never said these things and leave it at that. He creates a cut-and-paste Jesus cobbled together from those bits and pieces that he likes and discards everything else. The end result is that with Jesus still existing, every unlikely, fantastic incident found in the gospels continues to exist with him. Liberal Christianity is what is keeping the religion alive and is what is spawning every zealous kook.

Ehrman also offers a rationale often resorted to by the liberal camp:

“The Messiah was supposed to overthrow the enemies – and so if you’re going to make up a messiah, you’d make up a powerful messiah. You wouldn’t make up somebody who was humiliated, tortured and the killed by the enemies.”

Again, the conservative Christians would never buy this statement because it ignores what they call “God’s Plan.” Jesus was supposed to die on the cross. In John, as Jesus hangs on the cross, he says, “I thirst.” Not because he was thirsty but merely to fulfill scripture (that’s what John says). Then after drinking, he says, “It is finished.” In other words, the plan was completed and went…well…according to plan. The crucifixion was not a defeat but the greatest of victories. So Ehrman’s words come close to blasphemy.

But the liberal Christian doesn’t give a fig about any plan of God. His goal is to appeal to the moderate and quasi-religious masses. Those without much of an understanding of Christianity would find Ehrman’s statement reasonable and very likely repeat it to others. Ehrman’s statement also completely misses the mark. I would agree that if you are going to make up a messiah, you’d make one that was powerful and invincible EXCEPT you can’t pass that one off as historical. If you tried, people would be asking where is this messiah and what did he accomplish. So you tell them he died in the process but—not to worry—he’s coming back and soon.



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Post Re: The Case Against the Historic Jesus Christ
Other "historical" References

“Having such a character, Ananus thought that with Festus dead and Albinus still on the way, he would have the proper opportunity. Convening the judges of the Sanhedrin, he brought before them the brother of Jesus who was called the Christ, whose name was James, and certain others. He accused them of having transgressed the law and delivered them up to be stoned.” –Josephus, Antiquities, Book 20

Christians love this passage and insist it is genuine and proof of a historical Jesus. Let us assume, for the moment, that it is genuine and unaltered from its original state. What does it tell us about a historical Jesus? Nothing. Once again, if we acknowledge that James led the order known as the Brothers of the Lord and was known to the public as “James the Brother of the Lord” when the passage means nothing more that that. They may also have been called the Brothers of Jesus but likely a later revisionist would have changed the text to read “brother of Jesus” rather than “the Lord” and added in “who was called the Christ” perhaps in hopes of bolstering the historicity of this Jesus. There would have been no reason for Josephus to have added the Christ reference since it would have been of no interest to anyone in his day—except, of course, Christians.

But, if this passage is genuine, is there any indication that it has been tampered with? Yes, there is. Origen (who never mentioned the Testimonium) cites this passage in his work, Commentary on Matthew, and goes on to state that Josephus had written that James’s death backfired on those who had him executed and that the destruction of Jerusalem was blamed on James’s death. Strangely, this is not in any known version of Josephus’s work today. Clearly, some revision had taken place.

In conclusion, there is nothing in the James passage to indicate that Josephus was talking about a historical Jesus and the evidence indicates that the passage, if not forged, was at least tampered with and therefore contaminated rendering it useless to the apologists as objective evidence.

***

The Christian apologists are fond of citing the following passage that they claim is from the Babylonian Talmud, vol. III, Sanhedrin 43a (6th century CE) we read:

“ On the eve of the Passover Yeshu was hanged. For forty days before the execution took place, a herald went forth and cried, “He is going forth to be stoned because He has practiced sorcery (an admission of his miracles) and enticed Israel to apostasy. Any one who can say anything in his favor let him come forward and plead on his behalf. But since nothing was brought forward in his favor he was hanged on the even of the Passover.”

This passage was clearly derived from the Christian bible and that would be because a Christian wrote it. The passage quite simply is not in the Babylonian Talmud. Rather the references to Yeshu or Joshua ben Pantera (or Pandira) are found in two supplements called Baraitha and Tosefta. Some of the material to be found in these works is as follows:

1. It has been taught: On the eve of Passover they hanged Yeshu…because he practiced sorcery and enticed and led Israel astray. (Baraitha BT Sanhedrin 43a)
2. Our rabbis taught: Yeshu had five disciples –Mattai, Nakkai, Netzer, Buni and Todah. (Ibid.)
3. It happened with Rabbi Elazar ben Damah, whom a serpent bit, that Jacob, a man of Kefar Soma, came to heal him in the name of Jeshua ben Pantera; but Rabbi Ishmael did not let him. He said, “You are not permitted, Ben Damah.’ He answered, “I will bring you proof that he may heal me.” But he had no opportunity to bring proof, for he died. (Tosefta Hullin 2.22,23)
4. Once, I was walking on the upper street of Sephoris and found one of the disciples of Yeshu the Nazarene, by the name of Jacob, a man of Kefar Sechanaya. He said to me, “It is written in your Torah: “Thou shalt not hire a harlot, etc.” How about making with it a privy for the high priest?” But I did not answer him at all. He told me. Thus did Yeshu the Nazarene teach me: ‘For the hire of a harlot has she gathered them, and unto the hire of a harlot shall they return,” from the place of filth they come, and unto the place of filth they shall go.” And the utterance pleased me.” (Tosefta Hullin 2.24)

In another Jewish work called Toledoth Jeschu or Generations of Jesus, Jeschu is the illegitimate son of a Roman mercenary named Joseph ben Pandira. His mother was Miriam ben Stada.

A Nazarene, I should point out, is NOT a native or resident of Nazareth but a sect of Jews also known as Nazorites. The word may be linked to “netser” or branch, offshoot, etc. One of Yeshu’s disciples was named Netzer. A messianic title. Netser is mentioned in Isaiah:

“There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse, And a Branch [netser] shall grow out of his roots.”

Jesse was the father of David who is apparently the branch but note the similarity of the name Jesse to Jeshu and Jesus. Jesse means “Jehovah is” as in “Jehovah is in this place.” And should we be surprised that this passage is often taken to be a prophesy of the coming messiah?

At any rate, the Jeshu written of here cannot be historical the Jesus Christ. Some scholars equate him instead to the Essenes’ (lit. “Fire worshipers”) Teacher of Righteousness (mentioned in the Damascus document of the Qumran texts) whom, if he existed, would have preceded Jesus, if he existed, by at least a century. This Teacher (thought to be the High Priest Onias III whom Daniel called the messiah) was said in the Dead Sea Scrolls to have been betrayed by a group within his community lead by a “Man of the Lie” (a.k.a. the Wicked Priest). The betrayal leads the death of the Teacher. This certainly sounds like Paul’s Christ whom Paul stated was betrayed but does not mention Judas or a trial by the Romans.

***

“The Christians, you know, worship a man to this day” the distinguished personage who introduced their novel rites, and was crucified on that account….You see, these misguided creatures start with the general conviction that they are immortal for all time, which explains the contempt of death and voluntary self-devotion which are so common among them; and then it was impressed on them by their original lawgiver that they are all brothers, from the moment that they are converted, and deny the gods of Greece, and worship the crucified sage, and live after his laws. All this they take quite on faith, with the result that they despise all worldly goods alike, regarding them merely as common property.” –Lucian, The Death of Peregrine. 11-13. (120-180 CE)

Held by Christians as evidence that Jesus existed. Lucian, like Tacitus, simply states Christian beliefs as he could have learned by asking any Christian.

***

Then there is the Syrian Stoic known as Mara Bar-Serapion who lived in the first century A.D. In a letter to his son, Serapion, now apparently in the British Museum, Mara wrote:

“What benefit did the Athenians obtain by putting Socrates to death? Famine and plague came upon them as judgment for their crime. Or, the people of Samos for burning Pythagoras? In one moment their country was covered with sand. Or the Jews by murdering their wise king?…After that their kingdom was abolished. God rightly avenged these men…The wise king…Lived on in the teachings he enacted.”

Christian scholars date the letter at about 73 CE and believe the wise king of the Jews mentioned is Jesus. Christians even point out that “king of the Jews” was not a term Christians were using at that time as a boost to the historical Jesus case. The obvious fallacy of such belief is that Jesus was not a king in any legal way and if Christians were not using the title at the time the letter was written then it is extremely unlikely that Mara, a non-Christian, would have used it either—or are we to assume that the Christians got the term from him or coincidentally came up with the same term independently? Either option is ridiculous. The passage is simply too Christian sounding to be a coincidence. The date of the letter is also under dispute. Some scholars date it as late as the end of the second century. By that time, the Christian story and terminology was well known.

***

“On the whole world there pressed a most fearful darkness; and the rocks were rent by an earthquake, and many places in Judea and other districts were thrown down. This darkness Thallus, in the third book of his History, calls, as appears to me without reason, an eclipse of the sun.” –Julius Africanus, Chronography, 18:1.

Julius was a third century Christian quoting Thallus whose works are lost. We can say little more about it because that is about all we know. Perhaps if he had mentioned the dead rising out of their graves and walking, we might be more impressed.

“During the time of Tiberius Caesar an eclipse of the sun occurred during the full moon.”
Africanus, Chronography, 18:1.

Julius quoting Phlegon held up by Christians as startling and by most everyone else as mildly interesting at best. If this is so, it could not have happened at Passover which occurs at the full moon. Solar eclipses are not possible during the full moon phase.



Sat Jun 13, 2015 10:25 pm
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Post Re: The Case Against the Historic Jesus Christ
What are your academic credentials?

Or does this all "just make sense" to you, hence, that is all the evidence you need to erase the historical Jesus from history?



Sun Jun 14, 2015 11:35 am
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Post Re: The Case Against the Historic Jesus Christ
You've done a hell of a lot of work here. I have to admit to not having had the time to read it all. I'd like to get around to analyzing your reasoning on the source materials. Have you thought about how sources outside of the Gospels, Christian and non-Christian, may bear on this question? For now, I think another point can be raised about both the baptism and the crucifixion that may weigh in favor of their historicity. There is a term that historians of the Bible use, which escapes me just now, but it has to do with unlikely, anomalous elements that should not be present if the entire story were made up by early Christians or others. For Jesus, aka God, to need to be baptized by an itinerant preacher, John the Baptist, would be extremely unexpected and not something a partisan would make up, unless this reflects an actual early view of who Jesus was, which was that he was not God or divine. Similarly for the crucifixion. How conceivable is it that fabulists of the true Messiah would have created a story in which the Messiah is tortured and murdered in the most degrading way, completely in contradiction of beliefs about the true Jewish Messiah? It seems clear that the followers of Jesus, against all odds, managed to capitalize on an event that spelled disaster for their movement.

This reading of the case is also evidence, not out of place in a court of law. It's in some respects more powerful than arguments based on sources, existent and non-.



Sun Jun 14, 2015 3:46 pm
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Post Re: The Case Against the Historic Jesus Christ
DWill wrote:
I think another point can be raised about both the baptism and the crucifixion that may weigh in favor of their historicity. There is a term that historians of the Bible use, which escapes me just now, but it has to do with unlikely, anomalous elements that should not be present if the entire story were made up by early Christians or others. For Jesus, aka God, to need to be baptized by an itinerant preacher, John the Baptist, would be extremely unexpected and not something a partisan would make up, unless this reflects an actual early view of who Jesus was, which was that he was not God or divine.


Because John is Elijah. That's what the gospels said and Jesus is quoted as saying it. According Malachi, Elijah will usher in the Messiah. No need to pretend that this was added goobledegook. It was the whole purpose of introducing John. It was the original gospelic plot device. If we look at other NT writings, they don't care about any John the Baptist. Paul didn't mention him, the writer of James didn't mention him, the writer of Hebrews didn't mention him. It was just one story among many that abounded about Jesus in these early days--none of which were "orthodox." Other Christian communities didn't know who John was or did not connect him to Jesus just as Josephus did not connect him to Jesus. So using your logic, how could so many communities not remember something so "extremely unexpected" that they make no mention of it?

Quote:
Similarly for the crucifixion. How conceivable is it that fabulists of the true Messiah would have created a story in which the Messiah is tortured and murdered in the most degrading way, completely in contradiction of beliefs about the true Jewish Messiah?

.
Doesn't make a bit of difference because Christianity wasn't created by or for the Jews in Palestine. It was created for Jews and Gentiles of the diaspora who didn't speak a word of Aramaic or Hebrew and knew next to nothing about messianism or even the geography of the Middle East. It was created to appeal to their pagan-influenced ideals of dying, dismembered gods.

That is the only people Christianity attracts and has ever attracted. What other religion makes an icon out of a tortured man nailed to a piece of wood? Christians love to watch Jesus getting the shit beat of him. Remember "The Last Temptation of Christ"? I thought that was a pretty good movie--one you would think a liberal Christian would love. It just depicts Jesus as nothing more than a man with all the insecurities and faults of any other man. CHRISTIANS HATED IT!!!!!! what word did they use to describe Jesus in that movie? Oh, yes--WIMP!

They don't want to watch that shit when they can watch this:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zm97Ie49ULM

Only a Christian can munch popcorn in a movie theater, stroking his pole while watching this technicolor extravaganza. Would Buddhists ever make a movie about Buddha like this? Muslims would go berserk if Mohammad were depicted like this. Hare Krishnas would loudly disown a movie like this made about Sri Krishna. But not Christians, boy, they gotta see Jesus getting the piss stomped out of him. They'll watch it again and again. To the tune of $600 million worldwide the first year of its release.

Quote:
It seems clear that the followers of Jesus, against all odds, managed to capitalize on an event that spelled disaster for their movement.


It was a disaster for the messianists because that's what it was created to destroy. It was a huge cash-cow for the royals that promoted it and pushed it on the masses too uneducated and beaten down by life to know any better.

Christians are a certain type of people--something like women who willingly hook up with abusive asshole men. Always the converts are junkies, pushers, prostitutes, pimps, thieves, scammers, murderers, perverts, criminals, homosexuals ashamed of their orientation. Christians actively recruit them. They scour the worst prisons in the country looking for them. There is no shortage of these miserable wretches and never will be. It's a recruiting ground with no bottom. Always trying to rid the world of a stink they brought into it. Where do you think the monks that killed Hypatia and destroyed the Library of Alexandria came from? Mainly from prisons where they were recruited to become part of the bishop's private army, who would riot, loot, vandalize and rape on his orders.

What thinking person looked at the child-molesting scandal in the Catholic Church and was even the tiniest bit surprised? And I'll guarantee you the Catholics aren't the only church boffing toddlers.

That's why it is the largest religion in the world and the more of them there are, the more miserable a place this world becomes. The more miserable it becomes, the more miserable wretches it produces to join the religion. It's a scam, the worst, cynical scam ever. These people should be very thankful there is no god.



Mon Jun 15, 2015 7:44 pm
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Post Re: The Case Against the Historic Jesus Christ
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mwUZOZN-9dc

Historian Richard Carrier talks about the non-historic Jesus. He talks about how he originally thought Jesus existed but realized that it could be true. Not a mythicist, some of whom he criticizes, but does conclude Jesus was originally a celestial being made into a human and cites many sources for earlier saviors that were given the identical treatment. Very informative,



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Post Re: The Case Against the Historic Jesus Christ
all right, time for me to 'fess up guys...

i met the historical Jesus on the road and i killed Him :lol:

whenever i ask people to put up their historical Jesus they never do.

i think it's because as they begin to write it up they realise He's boring as batshit! (sorry bats)



Tue Jan 05, 2016 10:02 pm
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Post Re: The Case Against the Historic Jesus Christ
Actually it would be historically correct to say "Jesus of Nazareth "
People of this time were also identified by the geographical area their families where from and their lives lived.

Jesus last name was not "Christ".
This entire post goes to the essence of your idiotic layman's scholarship, Roy.



Wed Jan 06, 2016 11:02 am
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Post Re: The Case Against the Historic Jesus Christ
DB Roy wrote:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mwUZOZN-9dc

Historian Richard Carrier talks about the non-historic Jesus. He talks about how he originally thought Jesus existed but realized that it could be true. Not a mythicist, some of whom he criticizes, but does conclude Jesus was originally a celestial being made into a human and cites many sources for earlier saviors that were given the identical treatment. Very informative,



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Post Re: The Case Against the Historic Jesus Christ
DB Roy wrote:
While I could continue to write on this matter, I have gone as far as I care to at this point. While I think this series of posts certainly cast doubt on the existence of Jesus the Christ, none of it can prove that case.

Some may ask my motivation for presenting a case against the historic Jesus. Basically, why should we make this belief easy? If there is sufficient evidence to prove this personage existed then show it. If there is not (and this certainly appears to be the case) then there should be doubts and the verdict should not be in. However, among “historians” and “scholars” the verdict is in: he existed.


I've only started reading these posts, DB Roy, but kudos for your hard work. This is very impressive. I've asked the question before about Jesus' historicity, who is making the positive claim here? Those who argue for a historic Jesus or those who argue a mythic Jesus? But it seems like you're saying that neither "side" will ever prove its case. We have the scholar's "verdict", but this seems based almost solely on tradition—a habit of centuries-old religious belief. I do especially appreciate the intellectual humility you show in not pushing the claims for a mythic Jesus beyond the evidence, which is obviously fragmentary.


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