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Author Topic:   Reconstructing the Historical Jesus
crashfrog
Inactive Member


(1)
Message 286 of 560 (619570)
06-10-2011 12:56 PM


Thanks to everybody who participated, and I apologize for my sudden and prolonged absence, but I think it's time that I dropped this - we're all just repeating the same claims.

I continue to think that much of the disagreement here stems from the desire by some to apply special rules about when its appropriate to conclude that legendary figures really existed specifically and only to the Jesus Christ situation. (In that sense, it's like a kind of agnosticism.)

It would have been nice to have seen some of this "evidence for Jesus" that everybody keeps talking about.


Replies to this message:
 Message 287 by Jon, posted 06-16-2011 12:42 PM crashfrog has responded

Jon
Inactive Member


Message 287 of 560 (620428)
06-16-2011 12:42 PM
Reply to: Message 286 by crashfrog
06-10-2011 12:56 PM


Christianity without Jesus
It would have been nice to have seen some of this "evidence for Jesus" that everybody keeps talking about.

For those who might still be interested, let me quote part of a topic that I started over at FRDB:

quote:
JonA in Explaining Christianity without Jesus on FRDB:

Thought Revolutions

Messianic Thinking

Before __________, Messianic Jews believed the Messiah was to be a king who raised an army, expelled the foreign rulers from Israel, and established Jewish reign in the region. (Some variations exist.)

After __________, a small group of Messianic Jews believed the Messiah was not a king; he did not raise an army; he did not expel the foreign rulers from Israel; he did not establish Jewish reign in the region. Instead, he was a peasant; he had a rather small following (even if many people 'supposedly' knew about him); he was executed by the foreign rulers (Romans); he was resurrected; he ascended into heaven with a promise to return and fulfill all of the traditional Messianic expectations.

Apocalypticism

Before __________, no one expected a man named Jesus to come to Earth for a second time and bring in the kingdom of God (or some such kingdom) within the lifetime of the first century 'Christians'.

After __________, the first century 'Christians' expected a man named Jesus to come to Earth for a second time and bring in the kingdom of God (or some such kingdom) within their lifetime.

Belief in Jesus

Before _________, there was no one who believed that a Jewish man named Jesus had lived and had been crucified and raised from the dead.

After __________, there were people who believed that a Jewish man named Jesus had lived and had been crucified and raised from the dead.

Tenets of Belief

Messiah

Because of __________, Jesus is always called the Messiah/Christ.

Apocalypticism

Because of __________, all of the earliest 'Christian' sects/cults were apocalyptic.

Jesus

Because of __________, the figure head of the movement always has the same name: Jesus (the Hellenized form of the Hebrew/Aramaic 'yeshua').

Crucifixion

Because of __________, all of the Jesus story traditions involve the notion of crucifixion, no matter how down-played they make the event.

These are some of the 'evidences' for an historical Jesus. They've been mentioned several times in this thread already, but never laid out quite so plainly (see Message 230).

The challenge, in the other thread, was for folk who deny the historicity of Jesus to fill the blanks in with non-Jesus explanations, the point being that any alternative position to the Historical Jesus hypothesis would have to be capable of explaining these matters.

For now, it appears as though an historical Jesus explains all of these phenomena while remaining the least assumptive and, therefore, most probable explanation.

So if there are any ahistoricists still interested in this thread, perhaps they may be able to come forward with what they feel to be the alternative explanations for these phenomena.

Jon


Love your enemies!

This message is a reply to:
 Message 286 by crashfrog, posted 06-10-2011 12:56 PM crashfrog has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 288 by crashfrog, posted 06-16-2011 11:21 PM Jon has responded

crashfrog
Inactive Member


(1)
Message 288 of 560 (620464)
06-16-2011 11:21 PM
Reply to: Message 287 by Jon
06-16-2011 12:42 PM


Re: Christianity without Jesus
What an incredible example of the mental "evidence lacuna" I've been talking about - Jon's done us all the favor of actually putting underscores where the evidence was supposed to go!

These are some of the 'evidences' for an historical Jesus.

But none of this is evidence for a historical Jesus. They're just characteristics of the Jesus mythology. None of these things require that there actually have been a real human being on whom the mythology is based. A mythological Jesus would later be called "Christ", same as a real one. (The people who would later do so, after all, would have no way to tell the difference - just as you have no way, now.) And after Jesus was made up, there would be people who believed that a person called "Jesus" lived and died and lived. They would believe that because someone told them and they believed it, same as now.

If I tell you a lie at 2:00 PM and you believe it, then it's a matter of fact that before 2:00 there's nobody who believes my story (because you haven't heard it yet) and then after 2:00 there's at least one person who believes my story. That's not evidence that supports the veracity of the story, and nothing is necessary to explain this sudden change in the number of people who believe the story besides the fact that 2:00 PM is when I told the lie.

It's abundantly obvious, Jon, that you have no idea what evidence actually is. Absolutely nothing you've put forward here is an example of it. It's just a description of aspects of the Jesus mythology that are as easily explained by the invention of a mythological Jesus as anything else - if not more so.

Here's a hint, Jon - what other form of "evidence" takes the form of underscore blanks into which the reader is asked to insert whatever they choose?

the point being that any alternative position to the Historical Jesus hypothesis would have to be capable of explaining these matters.

What fills in the blanks better than "the actual historical Jesus" is "the Jesus stories were made up". (Try it- cut and paste the phrase in, and you'll see how easily all of this nonsense "evidence" is explained.) Invention by storytellers is such a common and mundane phenomenon that it's easily the more reasonable, more parsimonious explanation.

As much as people are nipping at my heels about retarded irrelevancies like whether or not Confucius was actually called Confucius, nobody here thinks your evidence is at all compelling. It's the utter failure of historic Jesus proponents to actually present any evidence that is, perhaps, the greatest evidence of the nonexistence of Jesus. Jon's post is more correct than he could possibly know. The evidence for Jesus is best described as a series of underscored blanks - because there's absolutely nothing there.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 287 by Jon, posted 06-16-2011 12:42 PM Jon has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 289 by Jon, posted 06-17-2011 12:22 AM crashfrog has responded
 Message 292 by PaulK, posted 06-17-2011 1:39 AM crashfrog has responded
 Message 310 by caffeine, posted 06-17-2011 11:42 AM crashfrog has responded

Jon
Inactive Member


Message 289 of 560 (620471)
06-17-2011 12:22 AM
Reply to: Message 288 by crashfrog
06-16-2011 11:21 PM


Re: Christianity without Jesus
You only push the matter further with such answers, Crash.

Now you must address the question of why these things were made up. Why were these things invented? Why did these Jews revolutionize their messianic thinking?

And so the list goes on. It is with every blank you filled in with 'it was made up': it answers nothing but just pushes the questions back to something else.

You cannot evade the questions... they know where you live.

Jon


Love your enemies!

This message is a reply to:
 Message 288 by crashfrog, posted 06-16-2011 11:21 PM crashfrog has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 290 by crashfrog, posted 06-17-2011 12:43 AM Jon has responded

crashfrog
Inactive Member


(1)
Message 290 of 560 (620472)
06-17-2011 12:43 AM
Reply to: Message 289 by Jon
06-17-2011 12:22 AM


Re: Christianity without Jesus
Now you must address the question of why these things were made up.

Why was Jesus Malverde made up? Why was John Frum made up?

People make things up. They tell each other stories. A story that's told like it's true has more impact than one told like it's false; that's why your cousin's campfire stories always begin with "Now, this happened to a friend of a friend of mine..."

When the only entertainment is story-telling, people reward good storytellers. There's a market incentive for good stories and the "Jesus" stories especially have always been crowd-pleasers - magic and miracles, good vs. evil, Jesus runs the moneylenders out of the temple (everybody hates moneylenders), and so on.

I mean, you're on the record that most of Christianity is a later invention. You already agree that it's mostly stories. So what on Earth could possibly be the reason not to believe that it isn't just stories all the way down, too? What possible evidence is there that any of them have any basis in fact?

You cannot evade the questions...

So stop evading the largest one! What's the evidence for the existence of a historical Jesus?


This message is a reply to:
 Message 289 by Jon, posted 06-17-2011 12:22 AM Jon has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 291 by Jon, posted 06-17-2011 1:03 AM crashfrog has not yet responded

Jon
Inactive Member


Message 291 of 560 (620474)
06-17-2011 1:03 AM
Reply to: Message 290 by crashfrog
06-17-2011 12:43 AM


Re: Christianity without Jesus
It's nice to see that you don't have an answer, Crash.

Let me know when you come up with something better than 'People make things up'.

Jon


Love your enemies!

This message is a reply to:
 Message 290 by crashfrog, posted 06-17-2011 12:43 AM crashfrog has not yet responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 297 by ScientificBob, posted 06-17-2011 10:02 AM Jon has not yet responded

PaulK
Member
Posts: 15629
Joined: 01-10-2003
Member Rating: 2.8


(1)
Message 292 of 560 (620475)
06-17-2011 1:39 AM
Reply to: Message 288 by crashfrog
06-16-2011 11:21 PM


Re: Christianity without Jesus
quote:

What fills in the blanks better than "the actual historical Jesus" is "the Jesus stories were made up". (Try it- cut and paste the phrase in, and you'll see how easily all of this nonsense "evidence" is explained.)

You're going to have to offer more explanation than that.

quote:

Invention by storytellers is such a common and mundane phenomenon that it's easily the more reasonable, more parsimonious explanation.

Why is it more parsimonious ? You still need an explanation for why those stories were made up, and you need an alternative story for the founding of Christianity and an explanation of why that was lost. Seems to me the idea that the Gospels were based on real events is more parsimonious just for that. In fact it's hard to see how anything could be more parsimonious.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 288 by crashfrog, posted 06-16-2011 11:21 PM crashfrog has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 293 by Panda, posted 06-17-2011 5:14 AM PaulK has responded
 Message 315 by crashfrog, posted 06-17-2011 12:22 PM PaulK has not yet responded

Panda
Member (Idle past 2050 days)
Posts: 2688
From: UK
Joined: 10-04-2010


(1)
Message 293 of 560 (620478)
06-17-2011 5:14 AM
Reply to: Message 292 by PaulK
06-17-2011 1:39 AM


Re: Christianity without Jesus
PaulK writes:

You're going to have to offer more explanation than that.


You're going to have to offer more explanation of why more explanation than that is required.
It exactly meets the 'challenge' set by Jon.

PaulK writes:

You still need an explanation for why those stories were made up,


This seems a strange question.

Why were the Harry Potter stories made up?
Why were the Bilbo Baggins stories made up?
Why were the Jesus stories made up?

It seems less parsimonious that the answer to the first two (and many more like them) is: "Because people like fantastical stories.", but the answer to the last one has to be "Because a Jesus existed.".


This message is a reply to:
 Message 292 by PaulK, posted 06-17-2011 1:39 AM PaulK has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 294 by PaulK, posted 06-17-2011 8:22 AM Panda has responded

PaulK
Member
Posts: 15629
Joined: 01-10-2003
Member Rating: 2.8


Message 294 of 560 (620482)
06-17-2011 8:22 AM
Reply to: Message 293 by Panda
06-17-2011 5:14 AM


Re: Christianity without Jesus
quote:

You're going to have to offer more explanation of why more explanation than that is required.
It exactly meets the 'challenge' set by Jon.

The challenge was to provide explanations. For instance John would describe the change in the view of the Messiah to be a reaction to Jesus' failure and death. How is it explained by "Jesus was made up" ?

quote:

This seems a strange question.
Why were the Harry Potter stories made up?
Why were the Bilbo Baggins stories made up?
Why were the Jesus stories made up?

It seems less parsimonious that the answer to the first two (and many more like them) is: "Because people like fantastical stories.", but the answer to the last one has to be "Because a Jesus existed.".


If you do not consider the relevant history or the usage of the writings your view might have merit. Unfortunately, ignoring these things is not rational. As Jon has pointed out there are features of the Gospels that seem inconvenient to the authors, or to go against views they would be expected to have. These features need to be explained. We need an explanation for the origin of Christianity, too. Why is it more parsimonious to assume some unknown origin than to accept that there is some basis to the claims of Early Christians ?


This message is a reply to:
 Message 293 by Panda, posted 06-17-2011 5:14 AM Panda has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 295 by Panda, posted 06-17-2011 8:47 AM PaulK has responded

Panda
Member (Idle past 2050 days)
Posts: 2688
From: UK
Joined: 10-04-2010


(1)
Message 295 of 560 (620483)
06-17-2011 8:47 AM
Reply to: Message 294 by PaulK
06-17-2011 8:22 AM


Re: Christianity without Jesus
PaulK writes:

The challenge was to provide explanations. For instance John would describe the change in the view of the Messiah to be a reaction to Jesus' failure and death. How is it explained by "Jesus was made up" ?


Well, the initial view of a messiah was made up and the subsequent view of a messiah was made up.
This is similar to the initial view of Gollum as being a simple 'monster' that attacks Bilbo in The Hobbit, but who then develops into a more complex sympathetic character in LoTR.

PaulK writes:

If you do not consider the relevant history or the usage of the writings your view might have merit. Unfortunately, ignoring these things is not rational. As Jon has pointed out there are features of the Gospels that seem inconvenient to the authors, or to go against views they would be expected to have. These features need to be explained.


There is no relevant history of a Jesus, except in the bible. To include that circular argument is not rational.

And you need an explanation of why the stories are not well written? Perhaps because there were many people making up different bits.
This can often be seen in spin-off books from TV series. Authors have their own 'agenda' and will twist existing background stories to suit their wishes.

PaulK writes:

We need an explanation for the origin of Christianity, too. Why is it more parsimonious to assume some unknown origin than to accept that there is some basis to the claims of Early Christians ?


I am not suggesting that the origin is unknown. I am suggesting that people made it all up.
There is no evidence for the claims of early christians in relation to a Jesus, But there is plenty of evidence of people making stuff up.

Edited by Panda, : No reason given.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 294 by PaulK, posted 06-17-2011 8:22 AM PaulK has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 296 by PaulK, posted 06-17-2011 9:16 AM Panda has responded

PaulK
Member
Posts: 15629
Joined: 01-10-2003
Member Rating: 2.8


(1)
Message 296 of 560 (620485)
06-17-2011 9:16 AM
Reply to: Message 295 by Panda
06-17-2011 8:47 AM


Re: Christianity without Jesus
quote:

Well, the initial view of a messiah was made up and the subsequent view of a messiah was made up.
This is similar to the initial view of Gollum as being a simple 'monster' that attacks Bilbo in The Hobbit, but who then develops into a more complex sympathetic character in LoTR.

Of course, you just made that up... Or in other words just asserting that something was made up without understanding what happened is more a cheap excuse than a good explanation.

quote:

There is no relevant history of a Jesus, except in the bible. To include that circular argument is not rational.

I said "relevant history", not "history of Jesus". The history of Christianity is relevant, and certainly the context of the Gospel stories needs to be taken into account.

quote:

And you need an explanation of why the stories are not well written? Perhaps because there were many people making up different bits.
This can often be seen in spin-off books from TV series. Authors have their own 'agenda' and will twist existing background stories to suit their wishes.

I said nothing about the quality of the writing. I am more interested in aspects of the story that appear to go against the agenda of the Gospel authors. For instance - to reuse a point made earlier - the Gospel authors are not happy to let the Romans take the blame for Jesus' execution. Why would they make that up ? Or are you proposing that the story predates Mark ?

quote:

I am not suggesting that the origin is unknown. I am suggesting that people made it all up.

But apparently you don't know who or when or why. Or how the Gospels came to be accepted as fact.

quote:

There is no evidence for the claims of early christians in relation to a Jesus, But there is plenty of evidence of people making stuff up.

There is plenty of evidence that not all documents are made up, too. Perhaps you would like to explain why we should assume "made up" as a default.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 295 by Panda, posted 06-17-2011 8:47 AM Panda has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 298 by Panda, posted 06-17-2011 10:05 AM PaulK has responded
 Message 299 by ScientificBob, posted 06-17-2011 10:13 AM PaulK has responded
 Message 300 by Jazzns, posted 06-17-2011 10:41 AM PaulK has responded

ScientificBob
Member (Idle past 2600 days)
Posts: 48
From: Antwerp, Belgium
Joined: 03-29-2011


Message 297 of 560 (620489)
06-17-2011 10:02 AM
Reply to: Message 291 by Jon
06-17-2011 1:03 AM


Re: Christianity without Jesus
When you said to Crash that it just pushes the question further back into "why were these stories invented", did you realise that the exact same reasoning would follow for... EVERY religion out there?

Why was Shiva made up? Thor? Zeus? Allah? Quetzalcoatl?

Answer those questions, and you'll have your answer to "why was jezus made up?".


This message is a reply to:
 Message 291 by Jon, posted 06-17-2011 1:03 AM Jon has not yet responded

Panda
Member (Idle past 2050 days)
Posts: 2688
From: UK
Joined: 10-04-2010


(1)
Message 298 of 560 (620490)
06-17-2011 10:05 AM
Reply to: Message 296 by PaulK
06-17-2011 9:16 AM


Re: Christianity without Jesus
PaulK writes:

Of course, you just made that up... Or in other words just asserting that something was made up without understanding what happened is more a cheap excuse than a good explanation.

Yes, I made up an explanation - based on the massive amounts of evidence that we have the people make up fantastical stories.
This is compared to the zero non-biblical evidence we have for a historical Jesus.

PaulK writes:

I said nothing about the quality of the writing. I am more interested in aspects of the story that appear to go against the agenda of the Gospel authors. For instance - to reuse a point made earlier - the Gospel authors are not happy to let the Romans take the blame for Jesus' execution. Why would they make that up ? Or are you proposing that the story predates Mark ?

My last post answered these questions: Badly made up stories are made up badly.

PaulK writes:

Panda writes:

I am not suggesting that the origin is unknown. I am suggesting that people made it all up.

But apparently you don't know who or when or why.
Did your parents conceive you? Do you know where or when or how or why? No? Then clearly you were not conceived.

PaulK writes:

Or how the Gospels came to be accepted as fact.

And the reason they became accepted as fact is because people are frequently ignorant, superstitious and irrational.
Lots of people believe (as fact) that you will get 7 years bad luck if you break a mirror. That doesn't make it even slightly true.
But this is off-topic, I expect.

PaulK writes:

There is plenty of evidence that not all documents are made up, too. Perhaps you would like to explain why we should assume "made up" as a default.

Because extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.
'Made up by people' is the simple, common, parsimonious choice.
Even non-biblical documents have to be validated.

Edited by Panda, : No reason given.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 296 by PaulK, posted 06-17-2011 9:16 AM PaulK has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 302 by Jon, posted 06-17-2011 10:48 AM Panda has responded
 Message 326 by PaulK, posted 06-17-2011 2:06 PM Panda has responded

ScientificBob
Member (Idle past 2600 days)
Posts: 48
From: Antwerp, Belgium
Joined: 03-29-2011


(1)
Message 299 of 560 (620492)
06-17-2011 10:13 AM
Reply to: Message 296 by PaulK
06-17-2011 9:16 AM


Re: Christianity without Jesus
quote:

Perhaps you would like to explain why we should assume "made up" as a default.

Because there no other source besides the bible to be found about this jezus character, that's why.

Because the only "evidence" people can come up with is essentially a circular argument, that's why.

quote:
Why would they make that up ?

Maybe they truelly believed it.
There are plenty of examples of people who believe the most inconvenient things that were essentially just a product of their imagination.

There's even no reason to think that the people who made it up did so purposefully.

The psychiatric wards are filled with people who are convinced to be the target of a worldwide conspiracy. This is very inconvenient for them and it completely disrupts their lives. But they have no evidence for it. They made it up.

I'm not suggesting that the first christians were psychotic or whatever... Only pointing out that this would really really NOT be without precedent.

The "i can't imagine why they would make it up" argument is not a good reason to simply accept the claims are truthfull. In fact, it's a fallacy.

Not to mention that if that is the standard to accept claims, you'ld be required to accept every single religion out there.

Why was Islam made up? Or Hinduism? Scientology? Mormonism?
Mormons believe Jezus came to America. Why would they make that up?


This message is a reply to:
 Message 296 by PaulK, posted 06-17-2011 9:16 AM PaulK has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 301 by Jazzns, posted 06-17-2011 10:47 AM ScientificBob has responded
 Message 309 by GDR, posted 06-17-2011 11:17 AM ScientificBob has responded
 Message 333 by PaulK, posted 06-17-2011 5:29 PM ScientificBob has responded

Jazzns
Member (Idle past 2248 days)
Posts: 2657
From: A Better America
Joined: 07-23-2004


(1)
Message 300 of 560 (620496)
06-17-2011 10:41 AM
Reply to: Message 296 by PaulK
06-17-2011 9:16 AM


Roman Blame
Sorry for skipping some earlier replies. I got a bit busy. I just wanted to point out this.

I said nothing about the quality of the writing. I am more interested in aspects of the story that appear to go against the agenda of the Gospel authors. For instance - to reuse a point made earlier - the Gospel authors are not happy to let the Romans take the blame for Jesus' execution. Why would they make that up ? Or are you proposing that the story predates Mark ?

It is perfectly possible, perhaps even likely, that the politics of the crucifixion blame are an artifact of the lateness of the gospels.

Its hard to keep track of all the Biblical edits but I seem to recall some that were designed to soften the imposition that it was Rome who killed Jesus. So while I have come to see the presence of some counter-intuitively motivated writing may be a good argument for historicity, I don't think this is one of those cases.

Thanks,


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 296 by PaulK, posted 06-17-2011 9:16 AM PaulK has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 304 by Jon, posted 06-17-2011 10:58 AM Jazzns has responded
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