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Why do people believe that Jesus was a real person?

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Frank 013
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Why do people believe that Jesus was a real person?

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Why, despite the lack of evidence, do the vast majority of people believe that Jesus was a historical person? Is it purely a faith-based belief? Is it lack of knowledge of the topic? I truly do not get it. For every other figure in history we demand evidence of their life before we accept them as more than myth; yet Jesus seems to have gotten a free pass in this regard... why?Historians did not assume that the Roman Pilate was a historical person because he was mentioned in the bible or because he was said to have lived around the time of other historically established people, but because historians discovered other historical evidence that confirmed his existence. Yet most people (including some historians) believe that Jesus existed as a real person despite their total failure to locate him in history outside of biblical writing, all of which is dated to well after the time Jesus was said to have died which makes the material completely unreliable. These people completely ignore the fact that there is not a single piece of credible evidence to support a historical Jesus. And that there is convincing evidence that suggests that the Jesus story was a complete fabrication... again Why?Does faith really distort a person's reasoning so much that even normally required criteria could be tossed aside in favor of the faith belief?It seems that in this case it does? I guess that is why faith is often referred to as blind.Later Life's journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a wellpreserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out,shouting..."Holy Crap...what a ride!"
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Re: Why do people believe that Jesus was a real person?

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And that there is convincing evidence that suggests that the Jesus story was a complete fabrication...I find this more interesting than just about anything you've posted in these two threads. What convincing evidence? All I've seen in support of the argument that Jesus was a total fabrication is some conjecture based on lack of corroboration -- "we'd expect more primary sources", or "there'd be some secular account of his tipping over the tables". Which I find to be just about as convincing as the argument that there was no historical Confucius or historical Solomon.For my part, I think a historical Jesus is likely for a few reasons, though I don't expect any of those reasons to appeal to you. The first is a rather technical argument based on German Biblical scholarship. Despite their contradictions and points of divergence, the existing Gospels (both canonical and heretical) contain certain features that indicate that they were based on prior sources, which indicates a deeper historical tradition behind the extant texts. That in itself is not definitive by any means, but it does point back to a tradition closer to the purported lifespan of Jesus, which would have made it more likely to have been written by a contemporary witness. The point is that the historical distance between the Gospel accounts and the actual timeframe in question should not be, in itself, discrediting, anymore than the distance between the Crusades and its historians should discredit any particular historical account -- Gospel writers were part of a tradition of writing that made reference to documents that were likely written by contemporaries. That doesn't make them entirely reliable, but it is at least reasonable to assume that the existence of the figure of Jesus was not, itself, the spontaneous endemnation of every Gospel writer from 70 CE on.The second reason is that the Biblical narratives may Jesus a very problematic figure for anyone hoping to fabricate a mythical figure -- particularly in that Jesus' mission seemed, to early Christians, to have ended in failure. That created an intellectual crisis for the young religion, one that didn't even come close to resolution until Paul worked out an eschatological explanation of Christ's crucifixion. The question is, if you don't already have a way to dignify his execution cooked up, why fabicate a religious figure who dies in a humiliating manner before he manages to get any serious social upheaval underway? Or, if you're out to adopt a figure from someone else's literature, why choose a figure who ends that way? It seems entirely more likely to me that the Christian commitment to the figure of Jesus was cemented prior to Jesus' death (or the invention of Jesus' death, if you can find some way to make that work out), and that the religion suffered a serious crisis in the wake of the apparant failure of Jesus' mission, a setback that would have ultimately killed the religion had not Paul, John and others found some way to reconcile that death to a eschotological account of the Messianic mission.And thirdly, the very fact that the Jesus myth has a precise historical color would make it such an easy target for contemporary discreditors, that it's hard for me to account for its survival if there weren't a historical figure at its foundation. It seems like it would have been a fairly easy thing for either the Judaic rabbis of Jerusalem or the Roman imperial government to demonstrate the ahistoricality of Jesus, and to have simply discredited it altogether. Instead, the Romans depended on violent persecution to suppress the cult, and the Jews wavered on their treatment of the offspring doctrines.You're free to note, as I'm sure you have, that all but the first of those reasons are variations on arguments from expectation -- "we wouldn't expect this unless..." or "we would expect this, except...." I'm completely upfront about that fact. The difference here is that I'm simply explaining why I think the existence of a historical Jesus is likely; I'm not arguing that all reasonable people should draw the same conclusion, as you imply with your argument.
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Re: Why do people believe that Jesus was a real person?

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MadEvidence of a fictional JesusI have mentioned this in the past but I will re post it for your convenience.The translation of the Jesus' name is one... "Jes" (Jesus) translates to THE SUN and "Crst" Christ translates to ANOINTED, hardly a common choice for names; but if you were trying to create a character with a certain image this is a good starting point.The overall Jesus story is another point for a fictional account... The story follows Greek and Roman mythology closely, from the virgin birth to the death and ascension; only some of the dialog is original and there is no reason that that could not have been made up by anyone or even a group of people. Considering the inconsistencies in the style of writings in the quotes it is very possible that they were made up by several people.When the text is examined closely the Jesus story resembles the same structure of other fictional writings of that time period.And finally we have found zero evidence to support any of the fantastic events or any evidence to support the Jesus character as historic.In short we are left with a obviously fictional story and no evidence to show that any of it was more that made up from beginning to end.There is actually more but I would have to spend time researching the subject. If you like I will do that and post it (again) if you have an interest in reading it. Later Life's journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a wellpreserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out,shouting..."Holy Crap...what a ride!"Edited by: Frank 013 at: 7/22/07 7:20 pm
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Frank 013
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Re: Why do people believe that Jesus was a real person?

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Quote:MadThe point is that the historical distance between the Gospel accounts and the actual timeframe in question should not be, in itself, discrediting, anymore than the distance between the Crusades and its historians should discredit any particular historical account.But again concerning the crusades, there are contemporary works and other archeological evidence to confirm the later writings, with Jesus every lead in the gospels both cannon and not lead to dead ends. Quote:MadGospel writers were part of a tradition of writing that made reference to documents that were likely written by contemporaries. That doesn't make them entirely reliable,Even if it were likely (which is debatable with out other confirming evidence) it says nothing about the historical truth behind the story or the people involved. Quote:MadBut it is at least reasonable to assume that the existence of the figure of Jesus was not, itself, the spontaneous endemnation of every Gospel writer from 70 CE on.First of all no one is making the claim that every gospel writer from 70 CE on spontaneously got the idea to write about Jesus. So you are correct. But there are plenty of better theories about how the first writers of the biblical text got their stories then from an actual eye witness, some include copying from each other which seems likely because of the dating of the oldest surviving writings and how much of the descriptive work matches word for word. As I am sure you are aware two people almost never describe an event in the exact same way without coaching or copying, yet this is common throughout the gospels. Another is the theory of oral tradition prior to the first writings, which would also allow for the consistencies of style and story that you mention.But again none of this speaks to the truth of the stories' origin. The fantastic nature of the story poses another problem. If the oldest documents were more realistic with the fanciful nature being embellished later, then an eyewitness account seems more likely, but with the story having mythological elements imbedded from the very earliest writings it is more likely fiction from the beginning. As you yourself have pointed out not so very much time passed between the time Jesus died before the first mention of him started showing up in writing. Yet the story is positively recognizable as myth from it earliest writings.These facts combined with the information above start to paint a pretty clear picture of a mythical figure, at least to me. Later Life's journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a wellpreserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out,shouting..."Holy Crap...what a ride!"
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Re: Why do people believe that Jesus was a real person?

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Reason two...Quote:MadThe second reason is that the Biblical narratives may Jesus a very problematic figure for anyone hoping to fabricate a mythical figure -- particularly in that Jesus' mission seemed, to early Christians, to have ended in failure. That created an intellectual crisis for the young religion, one that didn't even come close to resolution until Paul worked out an eschatological explanation of Christ's crucifixion. The question is, if you don't already have a way to dignify his execution cooked up, why fabricate a religious figure who dies in a humiliating manner before he manages to get any serious social upheaval underway? Or, if you're out to adopt a figure from someone else's literature, why choose a figure who ends that way? It seems entirely more likely to me that the Christian commitment to the figure of Jesus was cemented prior to Jesus' death (or the invention of Jesus' death, if you can find some way to make that work out), and that the religion suffered a serious crisis in the wake of the apparent failure of Jesus' mission, a setback that would have ultimately killed the religion had not Paul, John and others found some way to reconcile that death to a eschatological account of the Messianic mission.There are problems with this reasoning one of which you point out later, It is merely speculation and expectation. Another is that you are using hind site to determine motivation. This can be a rather faulty process. We have no way of knowing if the problems you brought up were considered by the original story tellers.I could use the same reasoning to suggest that they were making an attempt at a tragic character like Hercules or Jason. I could say that the Jesus character's death was necessary because they knew as they fabricated the character that he would not be around for people to talk to. And who better to kill him then their local persecutors. They would also have known that their character could not have initiated any social change because their audience would know better. Heck for all we really know the original story might have been made up as a statement against the Roman occupation.The creators might not have foreseen their character as being unpopular later because of their bias after having created him. Its all speculation and it can work both ways.Later Life's journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a wellpreserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out,shouting..."Holy Crap...what a ride!"
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Re: Why do people believe that Jesus was a real person?

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Reason 3...Quote:MadAnd thirdly, the very fact that the Jesus myth has a precise historical color would make it such an easy target for contemporary discreditors, that it's hard for me to account for its survival if there weren't a historical figure at its foundation. How would a Historical figure at its head make it more likely to survive? A bad story is still a bad story.History is filled with examples of real people who failed to initiate change in their time, some of which were attempting to do it during the time attributed to Jesus some had actual followings. But their messages were lost when they died. Yet stories of mythical characters persist. Quote:MadIt seems like it would have been a fairly easy thing for either the Judaic rabbis of Jerusalem or the Roman imperial government to demonstrate the ahistoricality of Jesus, and to have simply discredited it altogether. You seem to think that they had easy access to records and that those records were incredibly accurate; this was not the case, especially when looking back a generation or two. Nor is it the case that the common person would have believed such a statement. (The statement of Jesus' non divinity was common, but remained ineffective)I seriously doubt that the Romans or Jewish authorities sending messengers around claiming that there was no official record of Jesus would have made much of an impact and I would bet that they knew it. Back then (even now) lack of an official record proves little. For all we know those arguments were made but failed just as the others did.Quote:MadInstead, the Romans depended on violent persecution to suppress the cult, and the Jews wavered on their treatment of the offspring doctrines.This suggests little, the Roman response was typically violent and the Jews were looking at stories about a Jew who happened to fit into the (general) timeframe and lineage of a prophesied messiah. I am sure some of them thought it was worth looking into. Later Life's journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a wellpreserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out,shouting..."Holy Crap...what a ride!"Edited by: Frank 013 at: 7/23/07 12:18 pm
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Re: Why do people believe that Jesus was a real person?

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Tacitus (a Roman Historian repulsed by Christianity) and Josephus (a Jewish Historian non-plussed by Christianity) agree on four things regarding Jesus:1. He started a movement.2. The movement upset Roman authorities.3. These authorities executed Jesus.4. After Jesus' execution, the movement continued.Josephus' Antiquities of the Jews was written 60 years post-crucifixtion and Tacitus' Annals was written over 80 years after that bloody day. The four points of convergence have nothing to do with messiahs, saviors, demigods, sons of god, or miracle working magicians: but, instead, refer to what is plausibly, reasonably and sensibly a general course of events when Imperial might confronts Occupied resistance. Empires crush resistance and occupied populations find ways to subvert imperial oppression. This is hardly the stuff of myth or religious fantasy: it is an ugly truth of human history.The Jesus of the Gospels (who is undoubtedly difficult to define precisely or capture completely) is not the sort of character you would expect to see arising from a text endorsed, canonized and enforced by the imperial forces from Rome to the USA. I find it extraordinary that these Jesus narratives even exist, or were allowed to exist. They are profoundly radical and subversive, challenging all of the dominant power structures of that day: offering a message and program that was in conflict with and inimical to Rome and every empire since. This child of political refugees, raised in occupied territory, in conflict with the dominant religious systems, encouraging sedition against occupying forces, disrupting ancient patriarchial kinship codes, challenging all the mediterranean customs of healing purities and eating hierarchies, without an army or political status, who in the end is arrested, tortured, executed, risen to new life....why this story becomes the guiding and normative narrative for millenia of civilizations, is baffling.I understand how the Roman Empire eventually endorsed Christianity as the State Religion, thus creating an Imperial Church. But this was not an endorsement of Jesus the crucified Jew, but a fantasy called Christus Victor: Christ as Cosmic Ceasar! This is how the normalcy of imperial conquest steals the revolutionary impulse of the prophetic spirit. But why the great European and American empires for the past two millenia would allow such a subversive story like Jesus' to exist is, I think, one of the most interesting twists in human history. Not only to allow it to exist, but to make it their own, steal its fire, use it against the very spirit of revolutionary change that made it in the first place. I should think the entire element of the Jesus corpus that reflected revolutionary subversiveness wouldv'e been removed by now: edited out of existence and replaced with a more compliant Easter Bunny and Santa Claus character. I find it impossible that the radicality of Jesus has not been erased from literary history. But, there it is. A flagrant affront to all things hierarchical, imperial, militarist, built on gold or dominator status: that is a miracle, to me. (a repost...forgive my lack of time). Edited by: Dissident Heart at: 7/23/07 2:14 pm
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Re: Why do people believe that Jesus was a real person?

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Whether he existed or not means little to me. What means more to me is that he did NOT perform and miracles in any real sense of the word. Maybe there was a guy named Jesus who was very good at public speaking and started a 'movement'.....but if people are Lionizing L. Ron Hubbard in the next 2000 years, they are still fucking morons, not any real sign that Hubbard established anything of value.And I do not believe Jesus invented any new way of thought. Like any genre of anything, there are usually many people saying the same things, but it is the "Nirvana's" that make the music popular.Much of what is attributed to Jesus I can easily see being a conglomeration of many people's thoughts.Mr. P. But atheism is no more a religion than not playing chess is a hobby. - Robert Sawyer - Sci Fi AuthorI'm not saying it's usual for people to do those things but I(with the permission of God) have raised a dog from the dead and healed many people from all sorts of ailments. - Asana Boditharta (former booktalk troll)"The Sentient may percieve and love the universe, but the universe cannot percieve and love the sentient. The universe sees no distinction between the multitude of creatures and elements which comprise it. All are equal. None is favored...It cannot control what it creates and it cannot, it seems, be controlled by its creations (though a few might decieve themselves otherwise). Those who curse the workings of the universe curse that which is deaf. Those who strike out at those workings fight that which is inviolate. Those who shake their fists, shake their fists at blind stars." - Michael Moorcock in the "Queen of the Swords"
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Re: Why do people believe that Jesus was a real person?

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Quote:DHTacitus (a Roman Historian repulsed by Christianity) and Josephus (a Jewish Historian non-plussed by Christianity) agree on four things regarding Jesus:1. He started a movement.2. The movement upset Roman authorities.3. These authorities executed Jesus.4. After Jesus' execution, the movement continued.Josephus' Antiquities of the Jews was written 60 years post-crucifixtion and Tacitus' Annals was written over 80 years after that bloody day. The four points of convergence have nothing to do with messiahs, saviors, demigods, sons of god, or miracle working magicians: but, instead, refer to what is plausibly, reasonably and sensibly a general course of events when Imperial might confronts Occupied resistance.As passionately as you put that the only thing that shows is that they heard the same story and that's assuming that Josephus' work is not faked.Quote:DHEmpires crush resistance and occupied populations find ways to subvert imperial oppression. This is hardly the stuff of myth or religious fantasy: it is an ugly truth of human history.True enough, but that hardly speaks to the truth of this particular story. It is a tale often told in fiction as well and in many cases mythological fiction. Quote:DHThe Jesus of the Gospels (who is undoubtedly difficult to define precisely or capture completely) is not the sort of character you would expect to see arising from a text endorsed, canonized and enforced by the imperial forces from Rome to the USA. I find it extraordinary that these Jesus narratives even exist, or were allowed to exist. They are profoundly radical and subversive, challenging all of the dominant power structures of that day: offering a message and program that was in conflict with and inimical to Rome and every empire since.I find it amazing as well, but again that does not speak to the reality of the story, just that it was accepted, as was the story of Jason and his Argonauts, Perseus and Hercules. Quote:DHThis child of political refugees, raised in occupied territory, in conflict with the dominant religious systems, encouraging sedition against occupying forces, disrupting ancient patriarchal kinship codes, challenging all the Mediterranean customs of healing purities and eating hierarchies, without an army or political status, who in the end is arrested, tortured, executed, risen to new life.... why this story becomes the guiding and normative narrative for millennia of civilizations, is baffling.I agree. (I'll keep my reasons to myself this time) Quote:DHI should think the entire element of the Jesus corpus that reflected revolutionary subversiveness would've been removed by now: edited out of existence and replaced with a more compliant Easter Bunny and Santa Claus character. I find it impossible that the radicality of Jesus has not been erased from literary history. But, there it is. A flagrant affront to all things hierarchical, imperial, militarist, built on gold or dominator status: that is a miracle, to me. Two reasons that I can think of off the top of my head, one the "empires" that you speak of were and are not nearly as restrictive as you like to make them out to be. Both Rome and America allow a substantial amount of freedom and while there were and are unjust and restrictive policies in place the overall amount of freedom a free man and citizen is allowed makes exterminating an idea impossible. I doubt that that would be possible in any society. So I would not agree that Christianity was allowed to exist, I would say that there really was nothing that anyone could really do about it.Later it was simply a matter of aggressive marketing. Secondly I don't think the "empires" you mention think of themselves as oppressors so in their view there is no need to get rid of a story like that.But again the popularity of a story gives no credit to its historical accuracy. Later Life's journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a wellpreserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out,shouting..."Holy Crap...what a ride!"
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Re: Why do people believe that Jesus was a real person?

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Frank: As passionately as you put that the only thing that shows is that they heard the same story and that's assuming that Josephus' work is not faked.Their corroboration with the Mark, Matthew, Luke and John on these four points is not a sure sign of historical veracity, nor is it confirmation of sheer imagination: I think it supports a plausible place for historical reality. As for the veracity of Josephus, scholastic consensus agrees that later Christian redaction shaped what we now have from his Jewish Antiquities. The four convergences do not include anything that would reflect later Christian ideological or propagandistic liberties with the text (e.g., miracle worker, christhood, prophet, etc.) Actually, a defeated, crucified messiah was nothing that anyone expected, nor would it carry any credibility with Jewish audiences...and even less with Roman listeners. Me: Empires crush resistance and occupied populations find ways to subvert imperial oppression. This is hardly the stuff of myth or religious fantasy: it is an ugly truth of human history.You: True enough, but that hardly speaks to the truth of this particular story. It is a tale often told in fiction as well and in many cases mythological fiction.I think it shows this story as being rooted in more actual, tangible, real historical experience than say, Hercules or Osiris or Balder. Does it mean, "Therefore, this story must be historically accurate!" No. But it does, I think, say "There are places in history where this story has been true, therefore it may very well be true in this case."Frank: Two reasons that I can think of off the top of my head, one the "empires" that you speak of were and are not nearly as restrictive as you like to make them out to be.Unless you were a slave, or female, or a peasant...which meant the majority of the population...at which point restrictive would be a delightful euphemism; whereas crushing, demoralizing, oppressive and tyrannical would be far more accurate. Empires require large, disposable populations to provide fodder for battle, labor, and increasing the fear of docile aristocratic classes. Empires are, among many things, brutal and violent and terribly destructive to populations deemed disposable. I argue that the Jesus narratives arise out of the disposable classes: real words and deeds that reflect actual experiences...not sheer myth or religious fantasy.Frank: So I would not agree that Christianity was allowed to exist, I would say that there really was nothing that anyone could really do about it.My point refers to the adoption of Christianity as the Imperial religion and the canonization of the Gospels as the Imperial sacred writ...both are actions that are patently inimicable to Imperial control and domination: socially, militarily, economically and ideologically...it doesn't make sense that any Empire would purposefully allow these narratives to circulate freely or actually embrace them as official. The Empire could have taken the revolutionary element out of the text: simply censored any trace of a Jesus who claimed a Kingdom God in direct opposition to the Reign of Ceasar.
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