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Author Topic:   Reconstructing the Historical Jesus
crashfrog
Inactive Member


Message 196 of 560 (617227)
05-26-2011 5:32 PM
Reply to: Message 194 by PaulK
05-26-2011 5:07 PM


Re: Execution records
Seems to me that there were plenty of Jewish cult leaders

That started incredibly popular new religions, but about whom nothing could be historically established?

No, the ratio of certainty-of-existence to evidence-for-existence going on here is completely unprecedented.

Oh come on, you know that most "relics" are fakes.

So, the relics are fakes but Jesus can't be a fake?

That's what I really don't get at all. We're reasonable people, so we agree that 99.99% of the mythology surrounding Jesus is utter bullshit with no truth to it at all. And now I go slightly further and say that an additional characteristic of the Jesus mythology - his existence - is bunk as well, and now you're drawing the line and saying "woah, that's a step too far."

Really? The hucksters who fabricated a cross and fabricated a crown of thorns and fabricated a spear and fabricated a shroud - they couldn't have fabricated a savior, too?

We don't have the records of the 6 AD Census, carried out when the Romans annexed Judaea. Are you suggesting that the Romans went to all that bother of doing a census - for tax purposes and didn't make records ? Absurd ! But we don't have them so they must have been lost.

Sure. But we know they existed.

We don't know that about the execution writ of Jesus - we know only that we don't have it.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 194 by PaulK, posted 05-26-2011 5:07 PM PaulK has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 198 by PaulK, posted 05-26-2011 5:50 PM crashfrog has responded

crashfrog
Inactive Member


Message 197 of 560 (617228)
05-26-2011 5:40 PM
Reply to: Message 195 by PaulK
05-26-2011 5:16 PM


Re: Execution records
But who goes into that before concluding that they existed, at least provisionally ?

Are you asking me who has seen a picture of L. Ron Hubbard? Probably everybody who went looking for one; it's on Wikipedia.

But, I know what you mean. In almost every case, it's likely that the people who initially believe in the existence of L. Ron Hubbard and Joe Smith do so because everyone around them believes it, and therefore it just seems so reasonable.

Like it seemed so reasonable, once, for me to believe in the existence of the historic Jesus. All the reasonable people I knew believed in it. The fact that you believe it, PaulK, was once very convincing to me, I don't know if you'll believe that, but it's true.

Belief on the basis that reasonable people around me probably knew that they were talking about isn't unreasonable, but it's clearly not consistent with my desire to believe only things I know to be true, so at one point I decided to get into the evidence that must have convinced all you reasonable people, and imagine my surprise: not only wasn't there any, but people got super pissed-off (like Jon) when you tried to ask them for it.

Imagine my surprise! Everybody believed in the existence of Jesus based entirely on the same basis I did: all the reasonable people around them believed in it, too. All the way back it's "well, everybody else seems to think Jesus existed, so I guess it's true." All the way back to Tacitus! All the way back to Josephus! All the way back to the early Christian church!

All the way back it's all peer signalling. All the way! What an amazing con job the human race seems to have pulled on itself. Somehow, it's turtles all the way down.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 195 by PaulK, posted 05-26-2011 5:16 PM PaulK has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 199 by PaulK, posted 05-26-2011 5:57 PM crashfrog has responded

PaulK
Member
Posts: 15393
Joined: 01-10-2003
Member Rating: 3.3


Message 198 of 560 (617230)
05-26-2011 5:50 PM
Reply to: Message 196 by crashfrog
05-26-2011 5:32 PM


Re: Execution records
quote:

That started incredibly popular new religions, but about whom nothing could be historically established?

The key word is STARTING. The success of Christianity came later, with Paul and even later people being major players. Under Jesus Christianity seems to have been no more than a minor Jewish cult, restricted to Judaea, a backwater part of the Roman Empire.

quote:

No, the ratio of certainty-of-existence to evidence-for-existence going on here is completely unprecedented.

Is it ? As I've said there is damn little for Socrates, and I'm certain of Socrates existence. Buddha seems to have left little evidence, too. Homer is almost unknown outside of his works (themselves modified by later writers). And what about Moses ? I find Moses far more doubtful than Jesus. We can't even place the Biblical stories of Moses into known history !

quote:

So, the relics are fakes but Jesus can't be a fake?

Nice try at a red herring. But you seem to miss the point that I am pointing out the flaws in your arguments AGAINST the existence of Jesus (and there are better arguments). Your argument relied on there being genuine relics - yet we know that there were many fakes, and no good reason to accept that any directly associated with Jesus were genuine.

quote:

That's what I really don't get at all. We're reasonable people, so we agree that 99.99% of the mythology surrounding Jesus is utter bullshit with no truth to it at all. And now I go slightly further and say that an additional characteristic of the Jesus mythology - his existence - is bunk as well, and now you're drawing the line and saying "woah, that's a step too far."

Wrong. I'm not arguing that Jesus definitely existed and you're NOT being reasonable. Is it reasonable to assume that we have huge amounts of detailed Roman records - from a region frequently torn by war - just because your argument requires it ? When you are making the point of who has the burden of proof a part of your argument ?

quote:

Sure. But we know they existed.

Exactly. Your argument that if we don't have them, then they didn't exist is wrong. We know that the records (in general - not those of Jesus in particular) existed, but we don't have them. So we can't conclude anything from the absence of official records about Jesus. If they existed we almost certainly wouldn't have them. Thus their absence tells us nothing.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 196 by crashfrog, posted 05-26-2011 5:32 PM crashfrog has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 201 by crashfrog, posted 05-26-2011 7:57 PM PaulK has responded

  
PaulK
Member
Posts: 15393
Joined: 01-10-2003
Member Rating: 3.3


Message 199 of 560 (617231)
05-26-2011 5:57 PM
Reply to: Message 197 by crashfrog
05-26-2011 5:40 PM


Re: Execution records
quote:

But, I know what you mean. In almost every case, it's likely that the people who initially believe in the existence of L. Ron Hubbard and Joe Smith do so because everyone around them believes it, and therefore it just seems so reasonable.

And that is why the Early Christians had no need to go digging around for official records (which would not have been easily obtained). That's the point. Nobody was asking for proof. Nobody expected it to be needed. So once again the argument against Jesus' existence fails.

Now if you paid attention you'd know that my position is that there probably was a person on whom the Gospel stories are based. That the contrary position is a fringe position, but not one that should just be dismissed as unreasonable. And I was trying to make that point to Jon. Thanks for sabotaging me there !


This message is a reply to:
 Message 197 by crashfrog, posted 05-26-2011 5:40 PM crashfrog has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 202 by crashfrog, posted 05-26-2011 8:03 PM PaulK has responded

  
hooah212002
Member (Idle past 80 days)
Posts: 3183
Joined: 08-12-2009


Message 200 of 560 (617233)
05-26-2011 6:21 PM
Reply to: Message 191 by PaulK
05-26-2011 4:49 PM


Re: Execution records
You are seriously likening jesus to Joseph Smith and L Ron Hubbard? Sure, scientology and Mormonism are pretty big, but are they anywhere near the magnitude of xtianity?

We as skeptics are expected to buy into the fact that jesus was some random nobody in his day, warranting no record of his existence, yet he is the son of the most powerful being in all existence or god himself depending on which flavor xtian you ask.


"What can be asserted without proof, can be dismissed without proof."-Hitch.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 191 by PaulK, posted 05-26-2011 4:49 PM PaulK has not yet responded

  
crashfrog
Inactive Member


Message 201 of 560 (617240)
05-26-2011 7:57 PM
Reply to: Message 198 by PaulK
05-26-2011 5:50 PM


Re: Execution records
Under Jesus Christianity seems to have been no more than a minor Jewish cult, restricted to Judaea, a backwater part of the Roman Empire.

Here you go, begging the question again. What evidence is there that there ever was a Christianity "under Jesus"? Maybe the reason that Christianity doesn't make much of a splash until Paul is because it didn't exist until Paul? Not that Paul invented it, per se, but that somebody did and then Paul heard about it.

As I've said there is damn little for Socrates, and I'm certain of Socrates existence.

We have an abundance of primary sources about Socrates, including reports by people who were at his trial, and his frequent mention in the writings of his students and other people who met him. We have busts of Socrates sculpted from life. Of course, much of what we know about Socrates could be Plato's invention but there's enough contemporary sources from people who directly knew him that there's just no question about it.

Compare that with the Jesus record, which is absolutely nothing at all. It's funny - I keep asking for evidence for the "historic Jesus" position and I get the "historic Socrates" position, the "historic Caesar" position, the "historic Buddha" position, and so on. I guess it's just easier for people to prove the existence of people who actually existed. It puts me in mind of that old joke about the guy who loses a contact behind the bar, but goes out to look for it in the street because that's where the light is better.

Your argument relied on there being genuine relics

My argument has nothing to do with the existence of genuine relics. How could the existence of genuine relics support the nonexistence of Jesus? You're just being absurd.

Your argument that if we don't have them, then they didn't exist is wrong.

No, it's not, because we know the census records existed and now we know they don't.

We don't know that about the Jesus execution record, thus, it's a totally different situation and the most reasonable, most parsimonious conclusion is that it never existed. It makes quite a bit of difference if we're talking about records that existed and now don't, versus records that never existed at all. This is such an elementary and basic point that I wonder how someone with your tremendous intellect could fail to grasp it.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 198 by PaulK, posted 05-26-2011 5:50 PM PaulK has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 203 by PaulK, posted 05-27-2011 1:25 AM crashfrog has responded

crashfrog
Inactive Member


Message 202 of 560 (617242)
05-26-2011 8:03 PM
Reply to: Message 199 by PaulK
05-26-2011 5:57 PM


Re: Execution records
Now if you paid attention you'd know that my position is that there probably was a person on whom the Gospel stories are based.

Well, could be! There is, of course, no evidence for this view at all.

But even if that were true, how would that be the "historic Jesus"? Does the existence of Hoagy Carmichael prove that there was a "historic James Bond"?

That's the point. Nobody was asking for proof. Nobody expected it to be needed.

Indeed. And that's why the "mythical Jesus" position is so reasonable - the environment was perfect for the injection of a completely mythical savior, just as it was for John Frum and Jesus Malverde. Or do you insist that there was a real "historical John Frum"?


This message is a reply to:
 Message 199 by PaulK, posted 05-26-2011 5:57 PM PaulK has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 204 by PaulK, posted 05-27-2011 1:29 AM crashfrog has not yet responded

PaulK
Member
Posts: 15393
Joined: 01-10-2003
Member Rating: 3.3


Message 203 of 560 (617261)
05-27-2011 1:25 AM
Reply to: Message 201 by crashfrog
05-26-2011 7:57 PM


Re: Execution records
quote:

Here you go, begging the question again. What evidence is there that there ever was a Christianity "under Jesus"? Maybe the reason that Christianity doesn't make much of a splash until Paul is because it didn't exist until Paul? Not that Paul invented it, per se, but that somebody did and then Paul heard about it.

Of course it isn't really begging the question (so that's ANOTHER bad argument) for the simple reason that I am not arguing that Jesus existed, and in fact my arguments are agnostic on the issue.

It is your claim that, assuming Jesus existed, Christianity MUST have been really, really important in his lifetime. Well, where's the evidence for that ? Are you really setting up the false dichotomy that the Gospels must be either almost completely accurate or total fiction ?

quote:

We have an abundance of primary sources about Socrates, including reports by people who were at his trial, and his frequent mention in the writings of his students and other people who met him. We have busts of Socrates sculpted from life. Of course, much of what we know about Socrates could be Plato's invention but there's enough contemporary sources from people who directly knew him that there's just no question about it.

An abundance is overstating it. Plato's writings are the main bulk of it, and are mainly about putting forward Plato's own views with Socrates as a character. Aside from Plato Xenophon and appearances in Aristophanes' plays are pretty much all you have in contemporary sources (Aristotle is not a contemporary, born after Socrates died).

And do you have any evidence of a bust of Socrates carved from life ?

quote:

My argument has nothing to do with the existence of genuine relics. How could the existence of genuine relics support the nonexistence of Jesus? You're just being absurd.

Crash, please try harder to be honest. You wrote:


And therefore the explanation that it never existed is more parsimonious than the explanation that it did at one time exist, but coincidentally was also lost. (But, somehow, the Crown of Thorns and the True Cross, half a tablet that says "INRI", somebody kept those, but nobody thought to hang on to Jesus's execution writ, or anything he actually wrote? Absurd.)

Obviously you were asserting that at least some of the relics were genuine (if Jesus existed) because how else could their survival possibly be evidence that the records would have survived too.

quote:

No, it's not, because we know the census records existed and now we know they don't.

So what is the difference between the census records and the crucifixion records ? According to you, we know both were made. So far as either of us can tell we don't have those records (remember I challenged you to produce evidence that 10% survived and you produced nothing). So what's the problem with concluding that the crucifixion records were also destroyed, other than the fact that it is inconvenient to your argument ?

quote:

We don't know that about the Jesus execution record, thus, it's a totally different situation and the most reasonable, most parsimonious conclusion is that it never existed. It makes quite a bit of difference if we're talking about records that existed and now don't, versus records that never existed at all. This is such an elementary and basic point that I wonder how someone with your tremendous intellect could fail to grasp it.

But I'm not talking about any specific crucifixion record. I am talking about the crucifixion records in general. I explicitly said so. It's hardly a slur on my intellect if you fail to notice that. Nor if you fail to note my actual argument. Your argument relies on the survival of a large proportion of the crucifixion records for that place and time. But you can't show evidence of even one surviving.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 201 by crashfrog, posted 05-26-2011 7:57 PM crashfrog has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 208 by crashfrog, posted 05-27-2011 2:22 PM PaulK has responded

  
PaulK
Member
Posts: 15393
Joined: 01-10-2003
Member Rating: 3.3


Message 204 of 560 (617262)
05-27-2011 1:29 AM
Reply to: Message 202 by crashfrog
05-26-2011 8:03 PM


Re: Execution records
quote:

Well, could be! There is, of course, no evidence for this view at all.

We may get to that later, although I have presented arguments here in the past.

quote:

But even if that were true, how would that be the "historic Jesus"? Does the existence of Hoagy Carmichael prove that there was a "historic James Bond"?

In much the same way that the person on whom the original stores were based would be the "historic King Arthur" - only rather closer.

quote:

Indeed. And that's why the "mythical Jesus" position is so reasonable...


Relying on irrational arguments hardly makes it reasonable.

quote:

...- the environment was perfect for the injection of a completely mythical savior, just as it was for John Frum and Jesus Malverde.

But this is just a "could be" - it requires evidence to back it up. So far you're coming up rather short on that.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 202 by crashfrog, posted 05-26-2011 8:03 PM crashfrog has not yet responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 205 by Jazzns, posted 05-27-2011 11:06 AM PaulK has responded

  
Jazzns
Member (Idle past 2170 days)
Posts: 2657
From: A Better America
Joined: 07-23-2004


(1)
Message 205 of 560 (617298)
05-27-2011 11:06 AM
Reply to: Message 204 by PaulK
05-27-2011 1:29 AM


What are we trying to show here?
I am always fascinated when 2 people that I have high opinions of on this forum engage each other. I have been mostly a lurker lately but I wanted to jump in on this.

For my purposes it doesn't really matter if there was a historical Jesus. I am curious though what it even means to make the claim that there was or was not a historical Jesus.

I can see this taking a variety of forms depending on what someone even means by "historical Jesus". When I first started following this discussion I tended to think of a historical Jesus as the real person referred to by the "based on a true story" tagline. What has surprised me a little is the seeming confusion about the distinction of how much of the Gospel story must match before we would give a label to someone as THE historical Jesus.

I am wondering if what we really have here is a continuum that is causing confusion. I could be understanding him wrong but it seems like Crash is on one end where most of the story must match while others are somewhere downstream from there.

What would we say of a guy named Jesus who started preaching, had disciples, pissed off the local spiritual leadership, but wasn't crucified. What that be enough of a congruence to call him THE historical Jesus?

What he need to have actually demonstrated supernatural powers? What if he really did exist but produced a different story and philosophy that was so drastically distorted that we could hardly pin him as the source?

I think that is what Crash is talking about when he mentions the "Santa Claus named Lou". It is a reasonable question to ask how much of the characteristics must match before we call someone what I think we all mean which is a historical basis for the mythology.

Going back to an earlier post of yours, you said:

And there are others, that I haven't touched on, for instance your idea that your fictional Jesus hypothesis should be taken
as the default and has no burden of proof.

Crash, you've got yourself into a deep hole. It's past time you stopped digging.

I think are you going much too far here. Crash's style is very aggressive which may be obscuring his main point here but I think it is not the job of someone suggesting that Jesus was not real to bear the burden of proof. Just because Christianity is ~2000 years old does not give it some kind of grandfathered exception to the principles used in modern inquiry.

For those who believe a historic Jesus existed they must define very clearly what they mean by historic Jesus. Then the burden is on them to show that such a person actually existed.

What I believe Crash's fundamental point is that it is necessary for someone proposing a historical Jesus to remove so much of the character of Jesus from the gospels that it necessarily makes his existence impossible to show.

What then should be our tentative conclusion regarding the existence of a historical Jesus?


If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be. --Thomas Jefferson

This message is a reply to:
 Message 204 by PaulK, posted 05-27-2011 1:29 AM PaulK has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 206 by Modulous, posted 05-27-2011 12:22 PM Jazzns has responded
 Message 207 by PaulK, posted 05-27-2011 12:57 PM Jazzns has responded

Modulous
Member (Idle past 363 days)
Posts: 7789
From: Manchester, UK
Joined: 05-01-2005


Message 206 of 560 (617304)
05-27-2011 12:22 PM
Reply to: Message 205 by Jazzns
05-27-2011 11:06 AM


Re: What are we trying to show here?
What he need to have actually demonstrated supernatural powers? What if he really did exist but produced a different story and philosophy that was so drastically distorted that we could hardly pin him as the source?

When we talk of a historical person we are talking about a character that can be constructed from historical sources using historical methodology. This is to say that the Historical Jesus was not the REAL Jesus but an account of the real Jesus (supposing such a being existed) that can be extracted from what little evidence there is that he ever did exist.

So who is the Historical George Washington? Did the historical George Washington tell the truth about his amateur lumberjacking? No. Did the historical George Washington skip a stone some superhuman distance? No. The historical Billy the Kid killed less than ten men - but the legendary Billy the Kid killed 21.

I think that is what Crash is talking about when he mentions the "Santa Claus named Lou". It is a reasonable question to ask how much of the characteristics must match before we call someone what I think we all mean which is a historical basis for the mythology.

We have a bunch of sources talking about a person called Jesus. The Historical Jesus is the character that is consistent between sources, consistent with the culture, time and geography and reality as we know it.

The Historical Jesus tends to have the following attributes:

was Named Yeshua or very similar
was from Nazareth
preached around 30AD
was baptised by John the Baptist, was possibly a follower of John the Baptist before beginning his own ministry.
Preached an impending end of world scenario
Possibly had followers armed with swords, especially later in his ministry.
Probably had some kind of violent tantrum at a Temple.
He preached against divorce.
Had twelve male disciples and a number of females in his close circle.
Was arrested for sedition and crucified for same at or close to Passover.

That's pretty close to the Christian version of Jesus' story - That above list was from memory, present historians may have a slightly different notion.

Just like the historical Mohammed didn't fly around on a horse, but did wage war and preach his ideas of Islam. Jesus didn't feed 5,000 but he did he preach his ideas about Judaism.

Then the burden is on them to show that such a person actually existed.

Showing that a person actually existed 2000 years ago is very difficult. Especially a person in that time in that place. There is evidence for a historical Jesus - the five Gospels and the letters of Paul and that's really the meat and bones of it. Is it conclusive? No.

What I believe Crash's fundamental point is that it is necessary for someone proposing a historical Jesus to remove so much of the character of Jesus from the gospels that it necessarily makes his existence impossible to show.

Actually, his character remains largely the same after the analysis. He just isn't magic. It does make his existence impossible to show with any degree of certainty, but history is filled with uncertainty.

What then should be our tentative conclusion regarding the existence of a historical Jesus?

That it wouldn't have been extraordinary for Jesus to have existed, which explains the consillience of the information about what he is said to have done and/or said. Some of the things he is said to have said and done are thought to be contrary to the kind of thing people would make up in their situation (that is, they could have made them up, but if they had the opportunity to make something up - we'd expect something different). From what I can tell, the general consensus amongst historians is that there was a historical Jesus that lived and did some of the above things about which the Gospel stories were written, but little can be known of him for certain.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 205 by Jazzns, posted 05-27-2011 11:06 AM Jazzns has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 210 by Jazzns, posted 05-27-2011 3:45 PM Modulous has responded

PaulK
Member
Posts: 15393
Joined: 01-10-2003
Member Rating: 3.3


Message 207 of 560 (617309)
05-27-2011 12:57 PM
Reply to: Message 205 by Jazzns
05-27-2011 11:06 AM


Re: What are we trying to show here?
quote:

I think are you going much too far here. Crash's style is very aggressive which may be obscuring his main point here but I think it is not the job of someone suggesting that Jesus was not real to bear the burden of proof. Just because Christianity is ~2000 years old does not give it some kind of grandfathered exception to the principles used in modern inquiry.

I think that you are missing the point that Crash IS making arguments (and sometimes denies that he is making them which is a pretty good sign that he can't honestly defend them) - and they are pretty bad. That IS the main issue that I am discussing. I'm not even arguing that a case against a historical Jesus can't be made - only that Crash is doing a dismal job of presenting one.

I think that you are also wrong about the burden of proof. We have evidence that needs to be explained, and the burden of proof is on anybody who offers an explanation. If there were no evidence at all Crash would be absolutely right. But there is and he isn't.

Now I happen to think that the existence of the Gospels presents a prima facie case for a historical Jesus - not enough to prove it (we're dealing with history here) but enough to establish it as a sensible default. I mean, that's what we'd do with other historical figures, right ? Is there anyone else treated as fictional solely because the records of them aren't very good ?


This message is a reply to:
 Message 205 by Jazzns, posted 05-27-2011 11:06 AM Jazzns has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 209 by crashfrog, posted 05-27-2011 2:26 PM PaulK has responded
 Message 211 by Jazzns, posted 05-27-2011 3:47 PM PaulK has responded

  
crashfrog
Inactive Member


Message 208 of 560 (617318)
05-27-2011 2:22 PM
Reply to: Message 203 by PaulK
05-27-2011 1:25 AM


Re: Execution records
Of course it isn't really begging the question (so that's ANOTHER bad argument) for the simple reason that I am not arguing that Jesus existed, and in fact my arguments are agnostic on the issue.

No, they're clearly not. You can't be "agnostic about the issue" and then use the assumed existence of Jesus to conclude, as you did, that

quote:
Under Jesus Christianity seems to have been no more than a minor Jewish cult, restricted to Judaea, a backwater part of the Roman Empire.

Again, that's begging the question - it's whether or not there ever was a Christianity under Jesus that's precisely under contention! You can't assume the existence of Jesus and then use that as evidence of the existence of Jesus. Your contention here is perfectly circular.

It is your claim that, assuming Jesus existed, Christianity MUST have been really, really important in his lifetime.

No, that's not my claim. How did you get it so wrong? I'm the one who's arguing that Jesus didn't exist, so why would I assume he did? Did you complete forget the two days of discussion we've just had on this issue?

Are you really setting up the false dichotomy that the Gospels must be either almost completely accurate or total fiction ?

Are you saying that the existence of an American ornithologist proves that Casino Royale is a documentary?

Obviously you were asserting that at least some of the relics were genuine (if Jesus existed) because how else could their survival possibly be evidence that the records would have survived too.

I've not asserted that any relic is genuine, because they're all fake. You agree they're all fake. Everybody knows they're fake.

What on Earth are you on about? Every post it's like you forget what I've been trying to argue.

So what is the difference between the census records and the crucifixion records ?

I just told you what the difference is - we know the census records existed, we don't know that any execution records of Jesus existed. How many times do I have to repeat that? Please let me know so I can just repeat it that many times in a post, and be done with it.

But I'm not talking about any specific crucifixion record.

But I am. Did you forget that we're in a thread talking about Jesus? Only the execution record of Jesus (and maybe the two thieves, maybe) has any relevance.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 203 by PaulK, posted 05-27-2011 1:25 AM PaulK has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 213 by PaulK, posted 05-27-2011 4:40 PM crashfrog has responded

crashfrog
Inactive Member


Message 209 of 560 (617319)
05-27-2011 2:26 PM
Reply to: Message 207 by PaulK
05-27-2011 12:57 PM


Re: What are we trying to show here?
Now I happen to think that the existence of the Gospels presents a prima facie case for a historical Jesus

Does the existence of Jesus Malverde busts available in any Mexican convenience store present a prima facie case for the existence of Jesus Malverde? How about the existence of three major motion pictures about his exploits? Are those a "prima facie" case as well?

Do the existence of south seas cargo cults present a "prima facie" case for the existence of John Frum? Why or why not?

Does the existence of last year's "Quantum of Solace" present a "prima facie" case for the existence of James Bond? Why or why not?

Does the existence of "The Lord of the Rings" present a "prima facie" case for the existence of hobbits? Why or why not?

I don't see how the Gospels present a prima facie case of anything. Could you elaborate?

Is there anyone else treated as fictional solely because the records of them aren't very good ?

Yes! Jesus Malverde, John Frum, to name two examples solely from the twentieth century.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 207 by PaulK, posted 05-27-2011 12:57 PM PaulK has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 214 by PaulK, posted 05-27-2011 4:48 PM crashfrog has responded

Jazzns
Member (Idle past 2170 days)
Posts: 2657
From: A Better America
Joined: 07-23-2004


Message 210 of 560 (617332)
05-27-2011 3:45 PM
Reply to: Message 206 by Modulous
05-27-2011 12:22 PM


Re: What are we trying to show here?
So who is the Historical George Washington? Did the historical George Washington tell the truth about his amateur lumberjacking? No. Did the historical George Washington skip a stone some superhuman distance? No. The historical Billy the Kid killed less than ten men - but the legendary Billy the Kid killed 21.

Well, I mean weight of evidence matters right? How many aspects of the character of a historical George Washington do you need to remove before you start to have doubt about his existence. Far more than is ever going to be reasonable.

Also, we are not talking about confirming the details of the life of Jesus we are talking about the basis for his existence to begin with. The truth of George Washington chopping down a tree is not apt to the existence of George Washington. The reality of the crucifixion of Jesus might actually be apt to his existence as the basis for the historical Jesus.

We have a bunch of sources talking about a person called Jesus. The Historical Jesus is the character that is consistent between sources, consistent with the culture, time and geography and reality as we know it.

But there is a dependency relationship there. I need to be a little bit careful because I don't care to argue for the non-existence of a historical Jesus but I think it is fair to say that the Bible should be treated as one class of non-independent evidence.

The Historical Jesus tends to have the following attributes:
was Named Yeshua or very similar
was from Nazareth
preached around 30AD
was baptised by John the Baptist, was possibly a follower of John the Baptist before beginning his own ministry.
Preached an impending end of world scenario
Possibly had followers armed with swords, especially later in his ministry.
Probably had some kind of violent tantrum at a Temple.
He preached against divorce.
Had twelve male disciples and a number of females in his close circle.
Was arrested for sedition and crucified for same at or close to Passover.

So, these are your qualifications. But a slight tweak to any of these and you could have a case for matching the historical Jesus to any one of perhaps hundreds of roaming Cynic or Stoic preachers. So is our conclusion simply that ONE of these COULD have been the historical Jesus? I mean, that is fine with me, but I don't think that is what the people who are making a case for the historical Jesus are claiming.

Showing that a person actually existed 2000 years ago is very difficult. Especially a person in that time in that place.

Sure. But should the difficulty change our requirements for evidence?

There is evidence for a historical Jesus - the five Gospels and the letters of Paul and that's really the meat and bones of it. Is it conclusive? No.

Okay then let me make a proposition for you. Perhaps we should have the same confidence in the existence of a historical Jesus as we do that of a historical Heracles or Odysseus. All of them are equally attested by a non-primary, largely fictional collection of ancient writings. I don't think crashfrog or even Jon could necessarily disagree with that would they?


That it wouldn't have been extraordinary for Jesus to have existed, which explains the consillience of the information about what he is said to have done and/or said. Some of the things he is said to have said and done are thought to be contrary to the kind of thing people would make up in their situation (that is, they could have made them up, but if they had the opportunity to make something up - we'd expect something different).

I have heard that argument before. The claim is that why would the early church, before the theology of sacrifice came into being, lie about Jesus' death. There are some subtleties to that but at the end of the day we are making conclusions on historicity based on a pure literary argument. I can't quite think of many other circumstances where we do that for anything else. It may be that we do and if you have some examples I would love to hear about them. I certainly am no historian.

I can imagine it being used in a supportive context but at the moment I don't see that argument being paired with any other more substantial cache of evidence. We know that ancient authors invented stories of people who ultimately died at the end of it. Even in the bible there is the story of Sampson. Is it your position that the evidence for a historical Sampson is roughly the same as it is for a historical Jesus?


From what I can tell, the general consensus amongst historians is that there was a historical Jesus that lived and did some of the above things about which the Gospel stories were written, but little can be known of him for certain.

Sure, and they perhaps have very good reasons for that. I think though that there is not enough information to claim that any certain position is the "default" though which is what is currently being argued.


If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be. --Thomas Jefferson

This message is a reply to:
 Message 206 by Modulous, posted 05-27-2011 12:22 PM Modulous has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 215 by Modulous, posted 05-27-2011 5:01 PM Jazzns has responded

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