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Author Topic:   Bart Ehrman on the existence of Christ
Chiroptera
Member
Posts: 6563
From: Oklahoma
Joined: 09-28-2003
Member Rating: 4.9


Message 16 of 63 (430967)
10-28-2007 3:46 PM
Reply to: Message 15 by taylor_31
10-28-2007 3:36 PM


What is the problem here?
I was under the impression that Christianity started as a Jewish cult.

First, the original Jewish cult didn't necessarily have the crucifixion as a part of it. Second, no one claims that this cult ever attracted a lot of Jews. Third, the crucifixion part of the cult may have originated in Syria, quite far from the center of orthodox Judaism, and found its greatest following among the Gentiles.

I really don't see a conceptual problem here. Do you think that the success of Mormonism implies that the prophet Mormon was a real person? People make up cults all the time, even in the face of great hostility of the surrounding population. People hated Mormons -- people killed Mormons -- Joseph Smith himself was martyred -- that's why the Mormons had to move to Utah.

People are acting like it's unthinkable that a sect could be founded on principles that are anathema to the greater populaion, even though we have actual historical examples of this sort of thing occurring.

Edited by Chiroptera, : Added third and subtitle.

Edited by Chiroptera, : typo in the addition


Computers have cut-and-paste functions. So does right-wing historical memory. -- Rick Perlstein
This message is a reply to:
 Message 15 by taylor_31, posted 10-28-2007 3:36 PM taylor_31 has not yet responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 25 by Jon, posted 10-28-2007 6:44 PM Chiroptera has responded

  
Legend
Member (Idle past 3141 days)
Posts: 1226
From: Wales, UK
Joined: 05-07-2004


Message 17 of 63 (430968)
10-28-2007 4:14 PM
Reply to: Message 14 by Chiroptera
10-28-2007 11:11 AM


Re: the real Jesus
Chiroptera writes:

And my point is that Ehrman's contention really isn't relevant to whether or not Jesus was an actual historical figure.

I think Ehrman's using a false dichotomy in that he's trying to show that if the birth of the Jesus myth is demonstrably unsound the opposite must be true, i.e. Jesus's historicity is confirmed.

However, there are many other explanations as to why the crucifixion could be a cleverly manufactured event which he doesn't even consider. I've already suggested one, that is the Prometheus myth which would make the crucified Jesus strike a familiar chord with the Hellenized audience.

Me, I'll stick to my original assertion: there's usually some historical figure behind most myths and legends.


"In life, you have to face that some days you'll be the bug and some days you'll be the windscreen."
This message is a reply to:
 Message 14 by Chiroptera, posted 10-28-2007 11:11 AM Chiroptera has responded

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Chiroptera
Member
Posts: 6563
From: Oklahoma
Joined: 09-28-2003
Member Rating: 4.9


Message 18 of 63 (430969)
10-28-2007 4:20 PM
Reply to: Message 17 by Legend
10-28-2007 4:14 PM


Re: the real Jesus
I think Ehrman's using a false dichotomy in that he's trying to show that if the birth of the Jesus myth is demonstrably unsound the opposite must be true, i.e. Jesus's historicity is confirmed.

I admit that I don't know much detail about Erman's position. Right now I have the impression that, like me, Ehrman believes that there is a historical Jesus, but, like me, he doesn't really have good reasons for that belief -- it's just a bit easier to believe that than the opposite. I assume he understands that his conclusions are on shaky ground, and that he will be open to evidence (and further analaysis) if and when it becomes available.


Computers have cut-and-paste functions. So does right-wing historical memory. -- Rick Perlstein
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Legend
Member (Idle past 3141 days)
Posts: 1226
From: Wales, UK
Joined: 05-07-2004


Message 19 of 63 (430975)
10-28-2007 4:54 PM
Reply to: Message 15 by taylor_31
10-28-2007 3:36 PM


Re: the real Jesus
quote:
I was under the impression that Christianity started as a Jewish cult. If that's true, then I don't see why Ehrman's point is refuted: a crucified Messiah was preposterous to every single Jew before the time of Christ. So I don't understand how a group of Jews got that idea without it being based around a real event and person. Maybe I'm misunderstanding something here.

Ehrman's assuming that if the Jews fabricated the whole thing then the crucified Jesus would be a bad idea, therefore the Jews couldn't have fabricated the story, therefore Jesus did exist.

However, he ignores -among other things- the fact that Christianity wasn't spread by the Jerusalem church, it was spread by Paul. Paul preached to greco-roman audiences and they wouldn't have any problem with a divine crucified saviour (re: Prometheus myth) . So, even if Paul had made the whole Jesus thing up out of thin air the crucifixion wouldn't be a bad idea at all, it would be a rather good one. So the Jesus tale could still have been fabricated without offending the intended audience, Ergo Ehrman's argument is flaky.

I agree with his conclusion, but disagree with his reasoning.

Hope that makes it a bit clearer.


"In life, you have to face that some days you'll be the bug and some days you'll be the windscreen."
This message is a reply to:
 Message 15 by taylor_31, posted 10-28-2007 3:36 PM taylor_31 has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 20 by Phat, posted 10-28-2007 5:04 PM Legend has responded
 Message 21 by Chiroptera, posted 10-28-2007 5:07 PM Legend has responded
 Message 38 by taylor_31, posted 10-30-2007 12:24 AM Legend has responded

  
Phat
Member
Posts: 12274
From: Denver,Colorado USA
Joined: 12-30-2003
Member Rating: 1.4


Message 20 of 63 (430976)
10-28-2007 5:04 PM
Reply to: Message 19 by Legend
10-28-2007 4:54 PM


Re: the real Jesus
So without any sort of "inspiration" what would make Paul change from a slayer to a Salesman? Not to mention the name change?

We either would have to conclude that Paul was a supreme conman or that perhaps he was led to change his mind..(and heart?)


This message is a reply to:
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Replies to this message:
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Chiroptera
Member
Posts: 6563
From: Oklahoma
Joined: 09-28-2003
Member Rating: 4.9


Message 21 of 63 (430977)
10-28-2007 5:07 PM
Reply to: Message 19 by Legend
10-28-2007 4:54 PM


Re: the real Jesus
And, to add an additional point to yours, there is the undisputed fact that the early Christian cult did have Jewish converts. It isn't necessary for a new cult to have immediate mass appeal -- it merely needs to attract enough followers to stay alive.

And, in fact, if Christianity were a deliberate invention, then I would suspect that these televangelist equivalents would be going after a small number of especially gullible people, not necessarily a mass audience.


Computers have cut-and-paste functions. So does right-wing historical memory. -- Rick Perlstein
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 Message 19 by Legend, posted 10-28-2007 4:54 PM Legend has responded

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Chiroptera
Member
Posts: 6563
From: Oklahoma
Joined: 09-28-2003
Member Rating: 4.9


Message 22 of 63 (430978)
10-28-2007 5:10 PM
Reply to: Message 20 by Phat
10-28-2007 5:04 PM


Re: the real Jesus
So without any sort of "inspiration" what would make Paul change from a slayer to a Salesman?

Are you seriously saying that you are unaware of examples where individuals hostile to some religious movement or another end up converting to that religion?

Me, I suspect that Luke made up Paul's conversion story. Or it began as your typical "urban legend" begins, however that is.

Edited by Chiroptera, : Added last sentence.


Computers have cut-and-paste functions. So does right-wing historical memory. -- Rick Perlstein
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jar
Member
Posts: 30941
From: Texas!!
Joined: 04-20-2004


Message 23 of 63 (430980)
10-28-2007 5:55 PM
Reply to: Message 20 by Phat
10-28-2007 5:04 PM


Re: the real Jesus
So without any sort of "inspiration" what would make Paul change from a slayer to a Salesman? Not to mention the name change?

Well the name change, if it happened, does seem far more like conman or criminal. But remember, we simply do not have any information about Paul except that which has been filtered to show in his favor.

We either would have to conclude that Paul was a supreme conman or that perhaps he was led to change his mind..(and heart?)

Why? Why do you always try to make things an either or situation? He could have been delusional, a madman, a fanatic, a figment of Luke's imagination, or even a very small bit player who just happens to be known because some of HIS writings did not get destroyed while the writings of others were lost.


Aslan is not a Tame Lion
This message is a reply to:
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Jon
Inactive Member


Message 24 of 63 (430988)
10-28-2007 6:37 PM
Reply to: Message 13 by Legend
10-28-2007 11:04 AM


Re: the real Jesus
Paul's ideas about the atonement sacrifice and the need for faith in Jesus's redemptive sacrifice are pretty consistent throughout his letter, IMO.

Your opinion's wrong.

Start with Rom 4:25, 5:8-10, Eph 5:2, 2 Cor 5:21, 1 Cor. 5:7, and we'll take it from there.

Or better yet, let's actually start with his first writings... and then take it from there.

Paul obviously had a need to regard Jesus as something special and when he couldn't justify this need on the traditional, Jewish messianic view of Jesus he evolved it, spiritualized it and mythified it.

Likely 'spiritualised' and 'mythified' before Paul was converted.

Ehrman's contention that a crucified Jesus would be unpalatable to potential converts is ludicrous.

Nah... I think his contention is rather well-founded.

Jon

Edited by Jon, : Spelgn


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Jon
Inactive Member


Message 25 of 63 (430989)
10-28-2007 6:44 PM
Reply to: Message 16 by Chiroptera
10-28-2007 3:46 PM


Re: What is the problem here?
Third, the crucifixion part of the cult may have originated in Syria, quite far from the center of orthodox Judaism, and found its greatest following among the Gentiles.

Crucifixion is what the Romans did to rebels—political criminals.
Gentiles know this.
If trying to get Gentiles to follow a particular religious leader, mentioning that he was executed as a political criminal of the Empire is crazy.

"Hey, let's say he was crucified" isn't a conclusion anyone would come to if they were trying to get converts—Jewish or Gentile—when there had never been a crucifixion. There are so many ways to embellish the death of a religious leader; execution as political criminal is so unlikely to be one of them.

I think you are too set in the modern Christian theology of there being some 'higher reason' for the death of Jesus. You need to imagine yourself as a follower of Jesus. Like any person, he died. Now, trying to get converts, what ferry-tale will you tell them about this Son of God?

Second, no one claims that this cult ever attracted a lot of Jews.

No one's claiming this cult ever attracted a lot of Gentiles, either.

Jon


This message is a reply to:
 Message 16 by Chiroptera, posted 10-28-2007 3:46 PM Chiroptera has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 26 by Chiroptera, posted 10-28-2007 6:50 PM Jon has responded
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Chiroptera
Member
Posts: 6563
From: Oklahoma
Joined: 09-28-2003
Member Rating: 4.9


Message 26 of 63 (430990)
10-28-2007 6:50 PM
Reply to: Message 25 by Jon
10-28-2007 6:44 PM


Re: What is the problem here?
"Hey, let's say he was crucified" isn't a conclusion anyone would come to if they were trying to get converts....

Maybe. But no one is saying that the story was made up with the purpose of attracting converts. That is where Ehrman's argument fails.


Computers have cut-and-paste functions. So does right-wing historical memory. -- Rick Perlstein
This message is a reply to:
 Message 25 by Jon, posted 10-28-2007 6:44 PM Jon has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 27 by Jon, posted 10-28-2007 8:25 PM Chiroptera has responded

  
Jon
Inactive Member


Message 27 of 63 (431011)
10-28-2007 8:25 PM
Reply to: Message 26 by Chiroptera
10-28-2007 6:50 PM


Re: What is the problem here?
Maybe. But no one is saying that the story was made up with the purpose of attracting converts. That is where Ehrman's argument fails.

According to 'the story': part of the death includes the resurrection. Part of the resurrection includes Jesus' orders to spread the word. Christianity has always been a missionary-based religion.

That is where your argument fails.


This message is a reply to:
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 Message 28 by Chiroptera, posted 10-28-2007 8:48 PM Jon has responded

  
Chiroptera
Member
Posts: 6563
From: Oklahoma
Joined: 09-28-2003
Member Rating: 4.9


Message 28 of 63 (431018)
10-28-2007 8:48 PM
Reply to: Message 27 by Jon
10-28-2007 8:25 PM


Re: What is the problem here?
Christianity has always been a missionary-based religion.

Nobody is denying that, either. What people are denying is that the early Christians deliberately made up their religion. It was probably not a conscious effort to cobble together a convincing story for the purpose of attracting lots of converts.

The story of the resurrection and, perhaps, of the crucifixion itself, maybe even the very existence of the Messiah Jesus, probably formed without the conscious will of the people involved.

In this case, arguments about whether the story would attract or repel potential converts are irrelevant. They are irrelevant because no one was consciously thinking about how to "fix" the story so as to wow the masses.


Computers have cut-and-paste functions. So does right-wing historical memory. -- Rick Perlstein
This message is a reply to:
 Message 27 by Jon, posted 10-28-2007 8:25 PM Jon has responded

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 Message 30 by Jon, posted 10-28-2007 10:09 PM Chiroptera has responded

  
jar
Member
Posts: 30941
From: Texas!!
Joined: 04-20-2004


Message 29 of 63 (431021)
10-28-2007 8:55 PM
Reply to: Message 28 by Chiroptera
10-28-2007 8:48 PM


Re: What is the problem here?
Nobody is denying that, either. What people are denying is that the early Christians deliberately made up their religion. It was probably not a conscious effort to cobble together a convincing story for the purpose of attracting lots of converts.

However there are examples of just that happening. One of the most familiar is Paul co-opting the "Shrine to the Unnamed God".


Aslan is not a Tame Lion
This message is a reply to:
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Jon
Inactive Member


Message 30 of 63 (431037)
10-28-2007 10:09 PM
Reply to: Message 28 by Chiroptera
10-28-2007 8:48 PM


Re: What is the problem here?
The story of the resurrection and, perhaps, of the crucifixion itself, maybe even the very existence of the Messiah Jesus, probably formed without the conscious will of the people involved.

We've been placing some, perhaps undue, weight on the nature of conversion. One thing that I think we should also be reminded of is that the Jesus' followers were originally Jews. They had a preconceived idea as to what the Messiah was supposed to be, which was a king born from the line of David that was to overthrow the oppressors of the Jews (Roman Empire at the time), and usher in the kingdom of God.

If that is your belief as to what a messiah is, then what would cause you to switch it all around, so abruptly, so suddenly, so that now a messiah is a king born from the line of David [an ordinary man that must first be executed by the enemies of the Jews before being resurrected and taken up into heaven in order to return later] to overthrow the oppressors of the Jews (Roman Empire at the time), and usher in the kingdom of God?

Something happened to cause these folks to change their definition of messiah. Looking at those definitions, what would you suppose it to have been?


This message is a reply to:
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