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Author Topic:   Reconstructing the Historical Jesus
Jazzns
Member (Idle past 2139 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

Jazzns
Member (Idle past 2139 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

Jazzns
Member (Idle past 2139 days)
Posts: 2657
From: A Better America
Joined: 07-23-2004


Message 211 of 560 (617333)
05-27-2011 3:47 PM
Reply to: Message 207 by PaulK
05-27-2011 12:57 PM


Re: What are we trying to show here?

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.

But the reason I responded to you is because I believe that you are criticizing something that isn't his argument. I read crash as arguing for a different default position than the existence of a historical Jesus based only on the Bible. I don't think there is anything wrong with that.

I see you as attacking him for the positive claim that Jesus did not exist. That is something that no one can prove. I can't prove that a historical Jesus didn't exist anymore than I can prove that a historical Heracles or Odysseus didn't exist. But it certainly does seem that many people tend to lean toward a historical Jesus and not toward the others. Why?


I think that you are also wrong about the burden of proof. We have evidence that needs to be explained, and the burden ofproof 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.

And there is an explanation being offered. The explanation is that the Jesus story was useful fiction.


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 ?

Yea. I just mentioned some. Heracles and Odysseus.

And more important perhaps are the reasons we think they are non-historical. It is because the only way we know about them is from writings that are known to be largely, if not totally, mythical and fictitious.

Look, I don't think it is totally unreasonable to say that we have an extremely low confidence hypothesis that the character of Jesus in the bible had a historical counterpart. But I also don't think it is unreasonable to say that the confidence is low enough that we should essentially call it zero.


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 207 by PaulK, posted 05-27-2011 12:57 PM PaulK has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 212 by PaulK, posted 05-27-2011 4:14 PM Jazzns has responded

Jazzns
Member (Idle past 2139 days)
Posts: 2657
From: A Better America
Joined: 07-23-2004


Message 216 of 560 (617344)
05-27-2011 5:01 PM
Reply to: Message 212 by PaulK
05-27-2011 4:14 PM


Re: What are we trying to show here?
I am going to shuffle things around a bit to get to what I think are 2 of the main points.

With regard to Herakles and Odysseus I would not rule out the possibility that either is based on a real person. Troy, after all, was real. But I don't think that anyone could deny that the stories we have about them are more mythologized and were composed further from the time they were set than the Gospels. If you want to compare them to Biblical characters then Moses might be better. (As a side note, the book of Jonah is likely a fictional story about a real historical character while Daniel is most likely a fictional character inserted into real - but badly distorted - history. The Bible has all sorts)
...
And I would say that the mythological content and nature of the stories around them is a more important factor. Not the absence of official - or unofficial records.

I agree that the mythological content around those stories are more important. What I would like to know is what is different or beyond the mythological content of the Bible makes the historicity of Jesus more likely than that of Heracles or Odysseus?

You seem to think there is a difference enough to distinguish them. Is it just the timing?

Is being the son of Yahweh and walking on water more credible to historicity than being the son of Jupiter and slaying a hydra?


Then Crash has the burden of proof in showing that that is the correct explanation.
...
You certainly can't argue that that is the default.

Certainly if he is claiming it to be true than the burden is on him. But how could he ever possibly prove the non-existence of something? I don't think crash is being that brazen. I believe the argument revolves around what should be considered the null hypothesis in this case.

I don't see any reason why we can't argue that Jesus' non-existence is a legitimate default position. Why can't we argue that is the default? I have seen nothing presented thus far that would put weak historicity above that of non-existence as a perfectly valid default.

I certainly seen a lot of passion over what is seemingly a trivial difference but I definitely reject the characterization of the arguments as "rubbish".

I very well could have missed where someone made the positive argument for the superiority of historicity as a default. Kindly explain to me exactly why a historical Jesus is a better null hypothesis to that of a fictional Jesus. To casually claim that one is an explanation while the other is not is simply not convincing.


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 212 by PaulK, posted 05-27-2011 4:14 PM PaulK has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 219 by PaulK, posted 05-28-2011 5:49 AM Jazzns has responded

Jazzns
Member (Idle past 2139 days)
Posts: 2657
From: A Better America
Joined: 07-23-2004


Message 217 of 560 (617345)
05-27-2011 5:27 PM
Reply to: Message 215 by Modulous
05-27-2011 5:01 PM


Re: What are we trying to show here?
George Washington was to illustrate that there is a difference between the folkore person, the historical person and the real person. As I said, evidence of existence of a real Jesus and evidence for the historical Jesus are somewhat different prospects.

Ok, fair enough.

By independent source, we mean independent of each other - rather than unbiased. In ancient history, there's nothing but bias. And the Bible is just a collection of works each with their own agenda. Many scholars believe the Gospels are representative at least two independent sources, and some limited information from the likes of Paul. Scholars also look to the Gospel of Thomas, which is thought to be of similar age to the other Gospels but is not in most Bibles.

What I meant was that the parts of the bible that speak to historicity seemingly are derivative works from a common source. Paul only barely gives weight to the gospels and they are all interdependent amongst each other. Beyond that the books seem to be more internally derived and not historic.

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

I'm certainly not suggesting otherwise.

I didn't think so. But then I don't understand what that has anything to do with the issue. If anything it means we should be even MORE tentative in saying that something was historical.

I wouldn't have thought the comparison is quite close enough. There is a great deal of distance between the first written account of Odysseus, a King, and the time he is said to have existed. I would have thought Odysseus therefore is a closer analogue to Moses.

On Herakles I am unable to say, unaware of the sources regarding him as I am. I've not heard of any secular scholars that have thought the evidence of the existence of Herakles was remotely persuasive though so I'm guessing the case isn't good.

Okay, what is the significant difference between the consideration of a historical Jesus versus a historical Moses?

And that's fine. My position is straightforward: In a world where there was lots of religion, political tensions, in a culture where religious 'prophets' crop up and acquire followers during such times that one such 'prophet' managed to keep followers post mortem. Especially given that of all the Jewish prophets that desperate Jews could invent, Jesus is an unusual one to make up.

I am okay with that. The only reason I jumped into the debate is because of claims that such a position is somehow "obviously" superior to that of non-existence. I personally think that the differences are trivial.


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 215 by Modulous, posted 05-27-2011 5:01 PM Modulous has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 218 by Modulous, posted 05-27-2011 6:36 PM Jazzns has responded

Jazzns
Member (Idle past 2139 days)
Posts: 2657
From: A Better America
Joined: 07-23-2004


Message 234 of 560 (617783)
05-31-2011 11:18 AM
Reply to: Message 219 by PaulK
05-28-2011 5:49 AM


Re: What are we trying to show here?
We have evidence that must be explained. That explanation may or may not involve a historical Jesus. We choose the best explanation. As I have stated, the Gospels are prima facie evidence for a historical Jesus, so it is up to proponents of a mythical Jesus to present a better explanation. I have not seen one, and all this argument about defaults amounts to no more than an insistence that we should pretend that the evidence does not exist.

I most certainly not saying that we should pretend that the evidence does not exist.

Let me try this another way. Absent any evidence do you believe that the null hypothesis should be that there was no historical Jesus?

Do you then believe that the gospels are enough evidence to invalidate that hypothesis?

If so why? Where do our standards of evidence come from that says that prima facie evidence is enough to push us into a new paradigm?

These are honest questions. I am in fact trying to learn from you.

Thanks

Edited by Jazzns, : No reason given.


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 219 by PaulK, posted 05-28-2011 5:49 AM PaulK has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 241 by PaulK, posted 05-31-2011 1:51 PM Jazzns has responded

Jazzns
Member (Idle past 2139 days)
Posts: 2657
From: A Better America
Joined: 07-23-2004


Message 235 of 560 (617788)
05-31-2011 11:30 AM
Reply to: Message 218 by Modulous
05-27-2011 6:36 PM


Re: What are we trying to show here?
That's not the consensus view of scholars, but it might be true.

Well, maybe we should be more specific. I mainly consider the gospels to be the books that are relevant to this discussion. It was my understanding that scholars believe that Mark was first, Matthew and Luke derived from Mark + Q and perhaps a document of parables. I can't recall of the top of my head what I remember about John but I do remember some discussion about it also being derived.

What do you mean when you said, "not the consensus view of scholars"? Are you talking about other books of the NT? If so, how are those relevant to the historicity of Jesus? Paul doesn't give hardly a whit of detail of Jesus' life and it only gets more and more removed from there on.

Paul's main advantage is that he was in the area very shortly after the purported events, quite likely as a skeptic. He doesn't tell us much in the way of biography. He was a contemporary of Jesus, though he obviously never met him. Luke and he state that Paul met someone(s) that he was persuaded had met Jesus. Hardly a nugget of historical gold, but there you go.

Hardly a nugget is right. Should we not be skeptical of someone who outright admits never to have met a historical Jesus? I sense that I very well could be missing something here but I don't see how Paul is a very good source for a historical Jesus at all.

the contents of which are occasionally counter to the anticipated agenda of the authors

I am curious about this part. What sources are those? Who contemporary to Jesus writes about him counter to his agenda?


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 218 by Modulous, posted 05-27-2011 6:36 PM Modulous has responded

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 Message 255 by Modulous, posted 05-31-2011 3:53 PM Jazzns has not yet responded

Jazzns
Member (Idle past 2139 days)
Posts: 2657
From: A Better America
Joined: 07-23-2004


Message 236 of 560 (617789)
05-31-2011 11:37 AM
Reply to: Message 230 by Jon
05-31-2011 1:37 AM


Re: Consequentially Jesus
With a character who was so unimportant in his day, it is really difficult to say much more about him other than to say that he was just another apocalyptic Jewish preacher whose followers believed to be the Messiah and who was then executed by the Romans.

In the sense that such folk were a dime a dozen in first century Palestine, you are absolutely right in thinking that Jesus was hardly unique at all.

I have no problem if you want to say that it is likely that Jesus derives from some roaming Jewish Cynic. I only question that, if that is true, that we should call that unknown person the "Historical Jesus".

The biggest part of the Jesus movement is that he is always regarded as the Messiah. Even if a small group of Jews had invented the story wholesale about a suffering savior, the chances of them giving him the title 'Messiah' are close to zero. Very close.

Why? And how did you come up with the chances being close to zero?


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 230 by Jon, posted 05-31-2011 1:37 AM Jon has not yet responded

Jazzns
Member (Idle past 2139 days)
Posts: 2657
From: A Better America
Joined: 07-23-2004


(1)
Message 266 of 560 (617943)
05-31-2011 5:08 PM
Reply to: Message 241 by PaulK
05-31-2011 1:51 PM


Re: What are we trying to show here?
Then why should we be talking about defaults, when they only apply in the absence of evidence?

Because I am asking what amount and/or quality of evidence do we demand before we abandon the null hypothesis.

I don't believe that the idea of the null hypothesis applies to history in the way it does in the experimental sciences.

Why not? Lets not get caught up in the terminology. Using a "null hypothesis" and applying evidence to it is how we rationally investigate every other aspect of the world. Why should we apply a different standard to history? Other historical sciences do not have this problem.

Rather, we start with the evidence and look for the best explanation.

Why does that methodology negate the usefulness of a null hypothesis? Of course we should look at the evidence and look for the best explanation.

Obviously the existence of evidence is enough to push us into the different paradigm of looking for explanations rather than simply relying on default assumptions.

No it is not obvious at all. Keeping with an analogy to an experimental procedure, if there is a strong prior on the null hypothesis, it would take significantly more evidence to abandon the null hypothesis than it would with no prior.

If any tini tidbit of evidence should dramatically sway our conclusion, then we would have no basis in which to ground those conclusions. Are you familiar with Bayesian reasoning?

But a historical Jesus isn't a new paradigm at all. There's nothing special in that hypothesis. So depending on which you mean, the answer is either that it is obvious, or that there is no new paradigm involved at all.

And we should be careful not to commit an appeal to tradition.

My point is that if we were starting from scratch, we would require a certain amount of evidence before we hold any particular conclusion other than non-existence. I don't think it is unreasonable to say that prima facie evidence is insufficient for abandoning the null hypothesis.

My question remains, why is it so abundantly clear to you that it should? Other than telling me that it is "obvious" I don't think you have addressed my concerns at all.

Thanks.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 241 by PaulK, posted 05-31-2011 1:51 PM PaulK has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 270 by Jon, posted 05-31-2011 5:25 PM Jazzns has responded
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Jazzns
Member (Idle past 2139 days)
Posts: 2657
From: A Better America
Joined: 07-23-2004


Message 271 of 560 (617964)
05-31-2011 6:05 PM
Reply to: Message 270 by Jon
05-31-2011 5:25 PM


Re: What are we trying to show here?
One thing that historians do is propose explanations for various historical phenomena. The early Christian beliefs and practices are such phenomena as require explaining.

I believe that there are many ways to explain these things, and I think any reasonable historian would agree with me that any phenomenon can be explained in pretty much any imaginable way. The issue for historical study, then, is to sift through the explanations offered and rank them according to their explanatory power (how much they explain) and their probability (how plausible they are and how many unevidenced assumption they might require).

One way of explaining some of the early Christians' peculiar beliefs and practices is to propose the existence of an historical Jesus*a real man likely named the Aramaic/Hebrew equivalent of Jesus or something similar whose followers believed to be the Messiah and who was executed by crucifixion or some very similar method.

Now, one could go further in to the probability and explanatory power of this explanation. But since no one has yet offered up an alternative explanation, then there isn't much reason to bother rating it, since it remains the best one by virtue of being the only one. I can certainly say that it is not at all unreasonable that such a person would have existed, and his existence serves to explain a good deal of early Christianity's most peculiar beliefs and practices.

No, there are always 2 explanations. That is the point that I am making. Science has progressed from Sherlock Holmes. Absent any evidence the default is that there was no Jesus. We then need to ask ourselves what evidence it would take to cause us to change that. Then we can apply the evidence we do have to see if it is up to par.

That is how, in the modern day and age, we investigate claims.

I am not claiming that this threshold for evidence has or has not been met. I am simply asking what the threshold should be.


If someone were to offer up a different explanation, then we could rank them according to their probability and explanatory power and attempt to judge which one might be the better explanation. Until that happens, though, the Historical Jesus hypothesis stands uncontested, and thus remains the most acceptable available explanation, and so is the one that reasonable people will accept (reasonable people accept that which is most acceptable*naturally).

Well, I think we already have 2 that we do in fact need to examine as I have stated above. It is simply not the case that there is only one choice.

In this sense, an historical Jesus actually is something of the 'default' position.

And I think that is exactly backwards.

Just because a homeopathic remedy performs .05% better than a placebo in one particular trial does not mean that "water memory" becomes the default to "no water memory". "no water memory" is clearly the default and has a VERY strong prior on it because of what we know about physics and chemistry. One would need to demonstrate a significant effect of any homeopathic preparation before that prior would budge.

That is the kind of reasoning I am claiming needs to be used in this circumstances. I am asking why a modern inductive procedure such as the above is not preferable in this case or if it really is, what are the parameters?


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
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 Message 270 by Jon, posted 05-31-2011 5:25 PM Jon has responded

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Jazzns
Member (Idle past 2139 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
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 Message 296 by PaulK, posted 06-17-2011 9:16 AM PaulK has responded

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Jazzns
Member (Idle past 2139 days)
Posts: 2657
From: A Better America
Joined: 07-23-2004


Message 301 of 560 (620497)
06-17-2011 10:47 AM
Reply to: Message 299 by ScientificBob
06-17-2011 10:13 AM


Re: Christianity without Jesus
Why was Islam made up? Or Hinduism? Scientology? Mormonism?
Mormons believe Jezus came to America. Why would they make that up?

Thats not quite what the argument is. Its not just a question of, "Why would they make that up?"

Its more like, "Why would they make that up when it seems like doing so would be counter productive to their purpose?"

The inability to answer the question doesn't prove historicity, but it is still an important question and it does suggest that there was something more than JUST story telling.


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
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 Message 299 by ScientificBob, posted 06-17-2011 10:13 AM ScientificBob has responded

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Jazzns
Member (Idle past 2139 days)
Posts: 2657
From: A Better America
Joined: 07-23-2004


Message 308 of 560 (620507)
06-17-2011 11:11 AM
Reply to: Message 302 by Jon
06-17-2011 10:48 AM


Lots of dead messiahs?
'Messiahs' were common; almost all of them ended their lives executed by the Romans.

I am curious, where did you get this information?

I am not saying you are wrong, just that I have never head this before. Do you have some reference about how common 'Messiahs' where and that they were "almost all" executed by the Romans?

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
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Jazzns
Member (Idle past 2139 days)
Posts: 2657
From: A Better America
Joined: 07-23-2004


Message 319 of 560 (620527)
06-17-2011 12:58 PM
Reply to: Message 304 by Jon
06-17-2011 10:58 AM


Re: Roman Blame
So, the question becomes: If the whole story was just made up, and the Roman involvement in Jesus' death is clearly not a favorable point to the story tellers, why on Earth mention the Romans at all?

My point is that there are mixed historical motivations for Roman involvement and/or blame that don't necessarily speak to the counter-intuitiveness of the story telling.

Early on, the Christian cults were not necessarily integrated with the gentiles except for Paul. Paul seems to have no clue about the gospel story details for reasons not the least of which they hadn't been written yet. There would be no disincentive for blaming the Romans since they were not trying to court Roman favor....yet.

A more convincing example is simply that Jesus died at all. The purported fact of his death caused a disarray of explanations which may be more telling.

I think that might SUGGEST historicity but along the lines of what I was arguing before, I am not sure it is enough to overcome a strong basis otherwise.

So I am not trying to disagree with that particular tool of historical observation, I am just questioning this particular use of it and how strong of an inference it is.


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 304 by Jon, posted 06-17-2011 10:58 AM Jon has not yet responded

Jazzns
Member (Idle past 2139 days)
Posts: 2657
From: A Better America
Joined: 07-23-2004


Message 320 of 560 (620528)
06-17-2011 1:09 PM
Reply to: Message 313 by Jon
06-17-2011 12:09 PM


Re: Lots of dead messiahs?
Okay yea. I think what raised my eyebrow was how common and what you meant by executed as if the Romans ever really gave much regard simply because people called themselves a messiah.

Most of the others weren't executed in the same sense as Jesus. They led rebellions that were certain to give the Romans a reason to care. Those are in no way like Jesus and refer more to what the Jews considered a real messiah to be, someone who would liberate them.

I think you would have more legs to stand on if you referred to the Stoic/Cynic traditions to which someone later mysticised into a messiah via someone like the author of Matthew. Those guys were perhaps "common" in the sense I understood you to mean and you could at least start there when looking for 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 313 by Jon, posted 06-17-2011 12:09 PM Jon has responded

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