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Author Topic:   Reconstructing the Historical Jesus
crashfrog
Inactive Member


Message 141 of 560 (616768)
05-24-2011 11:16 AM


This appears to be a thread about what people believe about Jesus.

I'd like to return to the putative topic: what available evidence is there to confirm the Biblical account of the historicity and ministry of Jesus? With the proviso that proving that some guy named Josh once existed, but didn't minister to Jews, wasn't a religious leader, and wasn't killed by the Romans for fomenting Jewish rebellion doesn't prove that there was a historical Jesus any more than you can say "Santa Claus exists, but he's a guy in Jersey named 'Kris' who doesn't build toys, has no reindeer, and can't fly."

Maybe somebody could give a list?


Replies to this message:
 Message 142 by Jon, posted 05-24-2011 12:02 PM crashfrog has responded

crashfrog
Inactive Member


Message 145 of 560 (616811)
05-24-2011 12:50 PM
Reply to: Message 142 by Jon
05-24-2011 12:02 PM


Re: Jesus: Christianity's Biggest Embarrassment
The best evidence, but not by far the only, is that Jesus was a failure.

What evidence is there that Jesus was a failure, as opposed to not existing at all?

As the messiah, which his followers claimed him to be, he was supposed to:

· Build an army.
· Be a king.
· Drive out the Romans.
· Reestablish Jewish rule in Palestine.

Well, ok. Batman is supposed to fight crime but there's still crime. Is that because Batman sucks, or is it because Batman doesn't exist?

· Had a following of twelve peasant fishermen.
· Was a pauper.
· Was executed by the Romans without raising so much as a fist.
· Sat in his grave and rotted as the Romans destroyed Jerusalem in 70 a.d.

What is the actual evidence that any of this actually happened? Please be specific.

Now, when we study history, we cannot go back in time to figure out what happened for sure.

Indeed. So therefore we should be very cautious about proposing what events occurred, and not actually state that something happened unless there's evidence that it did.

So what is the evidence for the historical existence of Jesus as according to the Bible?

This is for the reasons that I gave above that no Jew (the earliest followers of the Jesus movement) would come up with a 'messiah' that looked like Jesus.

Would a Jew come up with a Superman that looked like Superman? Well, no, of course not - but regardless, two Jews came up with Superman.

Isn't it easy to demonstrate that Jews did not invent Jesus to be the messiah of Jews based on the simple fact that Jews don't recognize Jesus as ever having been their Messiah?

How does the fact that Jews did not invent Jesus to be their Messiah prove that nobody invented Jesus for any purpose?

Again - what is the actual evidence for the historicity of Jesus?

Instead, all the messianic beliefs regarding Jesus appear as ad hoc, face-saving excuses consistent with the existence of an actual man whose little posse though him to be the Messiah and then scrambled like eggs in a skillet to explain away the fact that he was actually a failure—majorly.

So, your evidence that the Jesus of the Bible existed is that what the Bible says about Jesus is obviously false?

Can you explain how that's a compelling argument? I mean I wouldn't want to think that you're some kind of unreasonable fundamentalist.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 142 by Jon, posted 05-24-2011 12:02 PM Jon has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 146 by Jon, posted 05-24-2011 12:51 PM crashfrog has responded

crashfrog
Inactive Member


Message 147 of 560 (616813)
05-24-2011 12:52 PM
Reply to: Message 144 by Jon
05-24-2011 12:44 PM


Re: Jesus: Christianity's Biggest Embarrassment
Your artificial limitation that our evidence be in the form of an 'account' has no place in a serious discussion.

It's hardly artificial - it would be a necessary consequence of the Roman state execution of the historical Jesus.

If there's no contemporary account, then there was no Roman state execution. If there was no execution, what is the evidence that there was a historical Jesus?


This message is a reply to:
 Message 144 by Jon, posted 05-24-2011 12:44 PM Jon has not yet responded

crashfrog
Inactive Member


Message 149 of 560 (616815)
05-24-2011 12:54 PM
Reply to: Message 146 by Jon
05-24-2011 12:51 PM


Re: Jesus: Christianity's Biggest Embarrassment
No, but you did.

quote:
we can only reasonably conclude that the Historical Jesus scenario is far more probable than the Jesus Myth scenario.

And with all due respect, your shouting doesn't answer any of my questions. What is the evidence for the "Historical Jesus" scenario? You told me a bunch of stuff that would have to be true about Jesus if he existed, but you didn't give me any evidence about his existence, which is what I asked for.

I don't think this is all too terribly hard to follow, Jon, Maybe you could be a little less unreasonable?


This message is a reply to:
 Message 146 by Jon, posted 05-24-2011 12:51 PM Jon has not yet responded

crashfrog
Inactive Member


Message 155 of 560 (616839)
05-24-2011 4:30 PM
Reply to: Message 151 by Jon
05-24-2011 1:45 PM


Re: History ≠ Bible
I don't know how anyone could possibly have a serious conversation about these matters with folk who cannot distinguish between 'Jesus of the Bible' and the 'historical Jesus'.

There is no Jesus except "Jesus of the Bible" because there's no other source of information about the supposed life of Jesus.

Right? Is there some other source of Jesus-stuff I'm overlooking?

Likewise with anyone who doesn't regard contextual evidence as evidence

I regard contextual evidence as evidence. What contextual evidence do you have?

implies that the Romans kept records of the people they executed

But the Romans did keep execution records. The Romans were the pre-eminent record-keeping civilization of the age.

Jon, how do you think you would be able to rule an empire that stretched from Britain to the Middle East without substantial record-keeping? Implying that the Romans didn't keep records is what is ridiculous.

An historical Jesus is the best explanation of the evidence; if someone thinks there is a better one, present it.

Consider it presented: there was no such thing as Jesus.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 151 by Jon, posted 05-24-2011 1:45 PM Jon has not yet responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 162 by caffeine, posted 05-26-2011 4:47 AM crashfrog has responded

crashfrog
Inactive Member


Message 157 of 560 (616842)
05-24-2011 4:49 PM
Reply to: Message 156 by Jon
05-24-2011 4:46 PM


Re: Better than Best
An historical Jesus who was an itinerant preacher north of Jerusalem who gained a following of people who thought he was the Messiah but was executed by Roman officials is the best explanation for the evidence.

Jon -

What evidence?

As scientists, we can accept this tentative explanation until someone can provide a better explanation.

The better explanation is that there is no such thing as Jesus. This explains not only all the evidence you're thinking of, but all the negative evidence as well as the conspicuous lack of evidence.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 156 by Jon, posted 05-24-2011 4:46 PM Jon has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 158 by Jon, posted 05-24-2011 5:54 PM crashfrog has responded

crashfrog
Inactive Member


Message 159 of 560 (616852)
05-24-2011 6:12 PM
Reply to: Message 158 by Jon
05-24-2011 5:54 PM


Re: Better than Best
This is for the reasons that I gave above that no Jew (the earliest followers of the Jesus movement) would come up with a 'messiah' that looked like Jesus

That's an opinion about Jews, that's not evidence for a historical Jesus.

As far as we know, prior to the early first century a.d. no one held the Christian views of the Messiah.

It's hardly significant that nobody was a Christian prior to the existence stories about Christ. Again, that's not any sort of evidence for the existence of a historical Jesus - the nonexistence of Jesus explains a lack of Christian Messianic views prior to the first century just as well, don't you think?

For now this is all I'll have to say on the matter.

I'd prefer it if your next reply contained some evidence. Do you think you could oblige me?

. If someone bothers presenting a better explanation for these observations than the Historical Jesus hypothesis

Here's a better explanation for these observations plus the other observations you've not been able to explain: there was no such person as Jesus.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 158 by Jon, posted 05-24-2011 5:54 PM Jon has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 160 by Jon, posted 05-24-2011 7:48 PM crashfrog has responded

crashfrog
Inactive Member


Message 161 of 560 (616872)
05-24-2011 8:00 PM
Reply to: Message 160 by Jon
05-24-2011 7:48 PM


Re: Better than Best
This isn't an explanation; this is just a denial of an explanation with no effort whatsoever on your part to replace it with a better explanation.

It's absolutely an explanation. How is it not an explanation?

It only fails to be an explanation if you take the existence of a historical Jesus as a given, as you do. But that's simply a result of your complete refusal to consider the proposition that the basis of Christianity may be false.

Until you come up with another explanation, an historical Jesus isn't just the best one we've got, it's the only one we've got.

No, we have a second, more likely explanation: there was no such thing as Jesus.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 160 by Jon, posted 05-24-2011 7:48 PM Jon has acknowledged this reply

crashfrog
Inactive Member


Message 165 of 560 (617168)
05-26-2011 11:48 AM
Reply to: Message 162 by caffeine
05-26-2011 4:47 AM


Re: Execution records
For this to be relevant, though, there have to be some surviving records of executions in first century Judaea.

There are all manner of Roman records from Judea, including a substantial amount of information about Pontius Pilate - yet there's no mention at all about Judea's most famous trial?

Absurd.

The idea is to explain who or what it was the early Christians were talking about, and whether a mythical character makes more sense than a historical figure.

If Jesus didn't actually exist then "mythical character" is what has to make the most sense - it doesn't make any sense at all for people to be talking about a "historical figure" who didn't actually exist. That's true by definition.

Of course, there's relative degrees of "didn't exist." James Bond is a fictional British Secret agent, but we know that spies exist, and we know that Ian Fleming got the name from American ornithologist James Bond (who returned the favor by naming a bird after Ian Fleming.) We know that the character was inspired by real British secret agents and war heroes, including Prince Bernhard (who enjoyed his martinis shaken, not stirred), Patrick Dazel-job (Fleming's partner in a top secret intelligence unit), Biffy Dunderdale (known for his sartorial excellence and his armored Rolls-Royce), and so on.

But even so it would be a category error of the highest degree to say that "there is evidence for the existence of James Bond." No, there's not. There's no such thing as "James Bond" and there's no such thing as Jesus, and to assert that the "historical Jesus" was a guy named Jesus who was only half-Jewish, wasn't considered the Messiah, didn't lead a Jewish revolt, wasn't a carpenter, didn't perform miracles, wasn't executed by the Romans, and didn't rise from the dead three days later is as absurd as saying "there's a real Santa Claus, but he doesn't make toys, doesn't have any reindeer, can't fly around the world in a single night, lives in New Jersey, and his name is actually Lou."

The same applies to Jesus - he only became somebody of wider significance long after his death, after the message of his cult had appealed to all manner of gentiles and become a widespread religion.

Ok, but what's the evidence for that view?

It seems more parsimonious to assume a real executed Jewish rebel, from a time and place in which executed Jewish rebels were commonplace, than it does to suppose a mythical character later redacted into a real man.

Why? The principle of parsimony says that we must not needlessly multiply entities, and the mythical Jesus notion has one less entity - to wit, Jesus. So just for parsimony's sake the precise opposite is true - it's much more parsimonious to assert that Jesus was a fictional character inflated in importance and significance as the stories inspired a religious movement among the oppressed. How would that be any different than John Frum or Jesus Malverde? And pay particular attention to how quickly John Frum and Jesus Malverde cults became widespread - in both cases, about two decades, both in cultures where stories continue to spread mostly by word of mouth.

That's more than enough time for the Jesus cult to have spread in significance and area and started a full-fledged religion in time for the earliest Bible writings to reference a widespread church. Indeed, religious spread faster when they're not tied down to a real individual!


This message is a reply to:
 Message 162 by caffeine, posted 05-26-2011 4:47 AM caffeine has not yet responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 167 by Jon, posted 05-26-2011 12:08 PM crashfrog has responded

crashfrog
Inactive Member


Message 166 of 560 (617171)
05-26-2011 12:08 PM
Reply to: Message 164 by caffeine
05-26-2011 10:09 AM


Re: Execution records
For Jesus, we have the Epistles and Gospels of the early Christian communities, many composed within a century of his death, which certainly profess to be about a real historical figure.

For Jesus Malverde we have three major motion pictures and an entire Mexican state that venerates him as a saint, with no apparent consciousness that he's an entirely fictional character.

With John Frum, we have a vast and widespread religion of veneration that spans several South Pacific islands that not only lack telecommunications but upon which illiteracy is widespread. The religion went from non-existent to the dominant faith of those regions in the space of a decade.

Jesus Christ wouldn't be the only time that widespread veneration of a fictional character has occurred. I've just given you two examples that occurred in the twentieth century. Is it so impossible to imagine it happening in the first? It seems profoundly obvious that, in fact, it did - and that it would have been much easier to do so.

I'm not sure why you include 'wasn't named Jesus' and 'wasn't executed by the Romans' in your list of things that the historical Jesus wasn't.

When "historical Jesus" proponents actually get around to describing who Jesus Christ actually was, they invariably produce an individual who wasn't named either Jesus or Christ. And the reason I say "wasn't executed by Romans" is because he doesn't seem to have been executed by Romans, just like Jesus Malverde wasn't actually ever shot/hanged by Federales.

I mean, it may turn out to be the case that a man who was either a railroad employee or construction worker, who may or may not have been involved with drugs or banditry, maybe was shot or maybe was hanged by Mexican Federales. That encompasses a wide variety of potential individuals, after all. But it would be a category error to refer to such a person as the "historical Jesus Malverde."


This message is a reply to:
 Message 164 by caffeine, posted 05-26-2011 10:09 AM caffeine has not yet responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 170 by Modulous, posted 05-26-2011 1:04 PM crashfrog has responded
 Message 171 by PaulK, posted 05-26-2011 1:15 PM crashfrog has responded

crashfrog
Inactive Member


Message 168 of 560 (617173)
05-26-2011 12:15 PM
Reply to: Message 167 by Jon
05-26-2011 12:08 PM


Re: Crash's Caricatures - 50¢ a Print
Probably because it wasn't at all famous or unique.

Really? Not famous? Then what on Earth is Pontius Pilate even remembered for? His amazing omelette?

No one has argued for miracles.
No one has argued for a carpenter.
No one has argued for a revolt.
No one has argued for a resurrection.

So, then, by definition nobody is arguing for the existence of a historical Jesus.

In point of fact, however, people do argue for miracles, for carpenter, for the revolt that never happened, for the impossible resurrection. You may even have met some of these individuals; they're called "Christians." They have a delightful little cult, maybe you should look into it.

Your all-or-nothing nonsense is completely unrelated to the arguments of an historical Jesus.

And what are those arguments, Jon? So far I've seen nothing but people's personal incredulity that you could base a religion on a fictional person and have it become popular in under 50 years, despite the fact that I've now given modern examples of that precise thing happening precisely as it did in the first century - twice in living memory!

Because to preserve the mythical Jesus notion, one must invent a whole slew of extra crap to explain the things that a single entity—historical Jesus—can explain easily.

Like what?

Obviously you don't give even a single example, because this claim is false. It;s the historical Jesus position that requires something extra - a historical Jesus. Nothing "extra" happens in the mythical Jesus history.

Interestingly, despite the fact that such a slew exists, you've not once attempted to present it.

Which proves that there's no such "slew."


This message is a reply to:
 Message 167 by Jon, posted 05-26-2011 12:08 PM Jon has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 169 by Jon, posted 05-26-2011 12:50 PM crashfrog has responded

crashfrog
Inactive Member


Message 172 of 560 (617182)
05-26-2011 1:54 PM
Reply to: Message 169 by Jon
05-26-2011 12:50 PM


Re: Crash's Caricatures - 50¢ a Print
None of those things are defining characteristics of an historical Jesus.

They're defining characteristics of Jesus, much in the way the "real James Bond" would have to be someone who liked his martinis shaken, not stirred; was promiscuous; worked for the British Secret Service; got into car chases and shootouts; and had a bunch of goofy spy gadgets that looked like regular items but were actually lasers or guns or climbing hooks or what-have-you. Just pointing out that there was an American ornithologist named James Bond, whose Birds of the West Indies was a permanent feature in Ian Fleming's Jamacian home, is insufficient to establish a "historic James Bond."

Otherwise you're in the "Santa Claus is real, but his name is actually Lou" territory.

If you want to continue debating my position I suggest you actually bother addressing it.

Ok, then present it.

This complete 180° turn in Messianic thinking needs an explanation once you throw out an historical Jesus.

I don't see how this can possibly be explained by a "historic Jesus" if the historic Jesus you propose - as you continually insist - was not the Jewish messiah. So the historic Jesus adds nothing that explains this "180 turn in Messianic thinking." It's as problematic for your position as for mine, which is to say - not especially problematic, but not supportive to either position.

Probably what happened is that the stories about this "new Messiah" found a receptive audience, because it provided something - hope, maybe, people love hope - that the traditional messianic beliefs lacked. But that hardly requires that the stories have any base in reality.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 169 by Jon, posted 05-26-2011 12:50 PM Jon has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 175 by Jon, posted 05-26-2011 2:18 PM crashfrog has responded

crashfrog
Inactive Member


Message 173 of 560 (617183)
05-26-2011 1:56 PM
Reply to: Message 170 by Modulous
05-26-2011 1:04 PM


Re: Execution records
Which fits closer with what we would call Joshua.

Ok, but now we're into "Santa Claus is real, but his name is actually Lou."

I've never checked, would you be able to point me to a list of all criminals executed by the Romans in that area in say, 32AD?

No, you misunderstand the burden of proof. What's the evidence that the Romans executed someone named "Joshua" for leading a Jewish revolt? Not that they could have without us knowing about it, but that they did?


This message is a reply to:
 Message 170 by Modulous, posted 05-26-2011 1:04 PM Modulous has acknowledged this reply

crashfrog
Inactive Member


Message 174 of 560 (617184)
05-26-2011 2:04 PM
Reply to: Message 171 by PaulK
05-26-2011 1:15 PM


Re: Execution records
Or to put it another way, proponents of a historical Jesus understand that "Jesus" is a transliteration of a common Hebrew name.

If it was a transliteration of a common Hebrew name, then why aren't there Greek Hebrews named "Jesus"?

And again, what's the evidence that we're actually talking about the person that's the basis for the Jesus myths?


This message is a reply to:
 Message 171 by PaulK, posted 05-26-2011 1:15 PM PaulK has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 176 by PaulK, posted 05-26-2011 2:24 PM crashfrog has responded

crashfrog
Inactive Member


Message 177 of 560 (617194)
05-26-2011 2:40 PM
Reply to: Message 175 by Jon
05-26-2011 2:18 PM


Re: Fail on All Accounts
No they aren't, and no critical scholars who support the historic Jesus hypothesis think that they are, nor do I.

So, then, you don't actually believe in a real live Jesus, you believe in a "Santa Claus named Lou" type of Jesus. You think that the existence of an American ornithologist means that James Bond wasn't a fictional character.

Right? Explain to me the difference between your position and the position of the "historic James Bond" I've just outlined.

He doesn't have to be the Jewish Messiah; he only has to be believed to be the Jewish Messiah in his lifetime.

Well, he hardly has to exist for people to just believe he's the Jewish Messiah, right? If they believe he's the Jewish Messiah even though he's not, it's hardly any more trouble for them to believe he's a real person even though he's not. I mean, if you already accept that the vast majority of his crucial characteristics are fictions, why is it so hard to accept that an additional, minor characteristic - his actual existence - might be fictional as well?

Seems much more parsimonious to me. I fail to see why this is the line you have to draw where you say "here, no further."

Your Jesus Myth hypothesis doesn't explain it; an historical Jesus does.

No, it does explain it - it explains it just the same as yours. Under the mythical Jesus, the same bunch of first century people say to themselves

quote:
'Ahhh... now we see, the Messiah was supposed to get executed all along!

It's just that, unbeknowst to them, the guy they're talking about is no more real than John Frum or Jesus Malverde. How would they know? The execution happened way the hell over in Calvary, and last they heard, people were getting crucified there all the goddamn time. Seems perfectly reasonable to them that some dude named Jesus could have been killed there. Hey, didn't that buddy of Omar the Tentmaker say he'd just been there and heard something about some guy getting crucified? Sure, sure! Must be true.

It's the easiest thing in the world to convince someone that a story is true when it supposedly happened somewhere none of your audience has ever been. People didn't get around too much in those days, so they had to rely on word of mouth, and as anybody who's ever started a rumor knows, it's the easiest thing in the world to inject utter fabrications into the word-of-mouth data stream.

Whatever are you talking about?

Well, look. Clearly the Jesus stories offered something people wanted. You've already agreed that it wasn't the truth - you've been explicit that the "historic Jesus" wasn't crucified, wasn't martyred, didn't lead an actual rebellion, didn't rise from the grave, etc - so the myths must have been attractive in some way.

You have to agree with that, otherwise "historic Jesus" doesn't explain the rise of Christianity, either.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 175 by Jon, posted 05-26-2011 2:18 PM Jon has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 178 by Jon, posted 05-26-2011 3:00 PM crashfrog has responded

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