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Did Jesus Exist?


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Christian history is rife with dishonest soldiers for christ.

 

 

I see I repeated some of what Antlerman said. Two or more witnesses. Obviously the truth.

Great info Mythra. Plus I like the phrase "dishonest soldiers for Christ". I'm going to use that. I also agree that since we are both saying the same thing, this should be entered as proof. Hell, at least we're more consistent than the Gospel writers! :wicked:

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My argument is that if there was a real Jesus person who lived, none of the external references to this miracle worker are worth spit, and that the real evidence would be in dissecting the roots of oral tradition to find a simple common story. It seems very improbable that darkened skies would have been overlooked by someone like Pliny the Elder, but even so in the texts of the Gospels themselves, these "elaborations" show a clear ear-mark of being just that, in that they are not consistent historical accounts (both internally and externally), but show a much more "literary vehicle" of miracles as aides to elevate the status of their character who is the "Bringer" of the message of the Christian community in the local villages and cities they lived and interacted in.

 

If you want to prove Jesus existed, you shouldn't go into literal readings of the Gospels, nor try to make flimsy citations of obscure or questionable writings outside the faith. The only real evidence points to "something", but certainly not the water-walking, flying messiah-man of Galilee in the later hero's-tale narrative of the Gospels.

 

BTW, don't you find it odd that Paul never once mentioned "Jesus of Nazareth", or Nazareth, or his mother Mary, of Joseph, or Bethlehem, etc? He's always Christ, or Christ Jesus and is always a heavenly being.

 

P.S. I hope you're going to give more feedback than just "excellent points" and leave it at that? :grin:

 

Excellent points, Antlerman! And ... now ... the rest of the story...

 

The external references might not be much and might have some detractors, but I do think they are worth a little more than spit. At least warm spit. But remember that's what John Nance Garner said about the vice-presidency of the United States: Most historians suggest he said "warm piss," but the quote was cleaned up for the sensitive masses! Really, I think that these outside sources offer us something. (I have a few more that I'll post later.) Perhaps not much, but something.

 

While the purpose of this thread is to examine the external sources, if any, in support of the existence of the Jesus characther, for me the canonical and gnostic gospels also provide some evidence that is acceptable to the historian. Granted, one cannot say that the, as you put it, "flying messiah-man of Galilee" actually flew about or was raised from the dead or any such thing, but that it seems many believed this to be the case. Not that that is evidence, mind you. But it's, again, something -- as I see it. Your reference to "dissecting the roots of the oral tradition" is a place to start.

 

I don't necessarilly find it odd that Paul did not mention much of the earthly life of Jesus. His focus was on the heavenly man he claimed appeared to him on that dusty road to Damascus. His focus was "forgetting those things which lie behind," and finally "departing to be with Christ," and so on. What would you suggest the lack of references to the man Jesus by Paul would mean?

 

-CC in MA

 

 

The silence is very surprising. I think it leads credence to the story being mythological (especially when you include the gnostic scriptures.....and lets not forget, they were not called gnostics at the time, they called themselves christians. In fact one of their complaints was that the people who took the story literally did not know who Christ was)

 

However, I do not think mythological means untrue.....to the ancients a myth encoded a deeper order of truth: spiritual truths.

 

It could just be that by taking the story literally most christians miss the whole point of the story. Which, I feel, is an allegory of spiritual awakening: what the ancients called "Gnosis"

 

Maybe the story was a myth that later (for mainly political reasons) became historicized. That is why it was necessary for the roman church to interpolate Josephus.

 

It might be interesting after we have exhausted this thread to have a poll on each of the alleged extra-biblical references -- as to their authenticity. Am I setting myself up to lose an election like I did in 6th grade when I ran for vice-president of the class?? :grin:

 

-CC in MA

 

I see your point, Jun. But we must bear in mind that these were days long ago. We know everything today as soon as it happens (thanks to CNN and the Internet). These were very different times. I definitely see it plausible that few outside the geographic vicinity of the Galilee and Jerusalem areas had heard of Jesus, no matter what he did.

 

Ugh. Depending on the argument, people of the past were either extremely brilliant or extremely ignorant depending on the argument someone wants to make.

 

CC, you manage to do BOTH within your post. In this section, everyone is ignorant of everything going on around them....despite one of the main contributions the Roman Empire made damn near everywhere they went were maintained road systems (these were allowed to crumble in the dark ages....just like the plumbing). And if news did not travel with some expediency....no other missives could have either and the Empire would have fallen apart. News travelled. And while the news is taken for granted somewhat now due to modern life making it easily accessible, do you really think news was not anticipated in the past? Perhaps eagerly as it gave everyone something to chew over aside from the everyday humdrum tedium of whether or not one of the plow horses shared by a village would live or die from a recent leg infection?

Stories that did float out were, I'm sure, dismissed by anyone who "didn't see it with their own eye." This cynicism is quite natural and to be expected.

Aaaand FLIP! Now the majority of historical people's according to you, are a seasoned bunch of skeptics and critical thinkers. Come on. It's hard to have it both ways! Either the majority were a bunch of ill informed goobers who knew nothing of happenings beyond their own village, or the majority is a bunch of tailored scholars walking around with a stack of books and a perpetual knowing expression.

Both of these extremes are insulting the the truth, which is naturally going to fall somewhere in the middle of these two extremes.

One could argue that in fact these events did happen and in fact they made such a stir that within years of his life, there are thousands of words and scores of people telling the tale -- but these documents are preserved by those who believed in him. Who else would tell the tale?

Um...any secular historian who had heard about it? We know about various types of rumors that floated about the Roman Empire. Someone bothered to write those down. Does their documentation make them true? Do you really think Nero sang and played a fiddle when Rome burned?

Tell no one, he often says. Perhaps the stories traveled only short distances after all?? Until they were written down and until Jesus commissioned those who saw and believed to tell the good news "unto the ends of the earth"? Just throwing out ideas.

 

-CC in MA

 

Do you really think ancient peoples were better at keeping a secret than modern people are today? Get real. Not to mention this section of your post relies on the bible for accuracy. I believe this thread is about non-biblical sources....is it not? :Doh:

 

Are you calling me a flip-flopper...a la my senator, John Kerry!? :HaHa:

 

You are right that there was brilliance and ignorance in the 1st century. (Has anything changed?) There were people "in the know" and people "in the dark." News traveled and news didn't and news got distorted. Roman roads definitely helped and all roads led to Rome. But ...

 

Let me try again to say it.

 

It seems reasonable to me that Jesus, if he existed, likely made little stir beyond his environs -- especially if the stories in the gospels are embellishments. If they are not embellishments, he likely made more of a stir. But I wonder if the Roman Empire was that interested in the Judean revivals led by "a religious fanatic"? They would be but not until it appeared another Maccabeean revolt might take place, but until then, I'm not sure.

 

The bottom line for me is that I don't expect to find a front-page article in The Times of Rome about Jesus -- until at least several decades after he lived, if he lived (as I suggest he did).

 

-CC in MA

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Cornelius Tacitus. There are a couple of hurdles to get past in order for Tacitus to become a credible voice for a historical Jesus.

 

1. IF THE QUOTE IS GENUINE, where did Tacitus get his information? Christians are famous about touting that crucifixions were a dime-a-dozen, and there would not be any roman records about the trial or crucifixion of Jesus. And, indeed, there is absolutely no evidence to think that Tacitus could have obtained this information from roman records. So, where did he get the information? Highly likely that he obtained it from what was being said. By christians of the day. Roughly 75 years after the time when jesus was supposed to have died.

 

2. There is suspicion that this passage Tacitus' Annals is an interpolation. When did the quote first surface? Fifteenth Century. And, at the time it was first cited by an external source, there was ONE copy of Annals in the world. A copy that dated to the eighth century.

 

Another difficulty is that this passage mirrors almost word-for-word a passage from the Chronicle of Sulpicius Severus, which dates to the late fourth century. It really appears that this passage was lifted from Sulpicius Severus - sometime during the Dark Ages and inserted into Tacitus.

 

Christian history is rife with dishonest soldiers for christ.

 

I see I repeated some of what Antlerman said. Two or more witnesses. Obviously the truth.

 

Truly, we can never know anything for sure. The Wikipedia link on Tacitus, however, states that he "is considered the most reliable scholar of his time," and that "he had access to Roman archives, and his only mistakes arose from occasional reliance on secondary sources." (The secondary source for his words quoted in posts above could have been the Christians, as Antlerman remarked.)

 

I find it unfortunate that many clamor for extra-biblical sources only to poo-poo all extra-biblical sources. Perhaps some or more or all should be poo-pooed, but neither accepting them nor rejecting them should be the default response. I'm trying really hard to open my mind to the possibility that these extra-biblical sources are frauds; I trust everyone else is trying as hard to open their minds to the fact that they may be valid.

 

I agree, Mythra, that "Christian history is rife with dishones soldiers for christ." I also would say that it is rife with honest disciples (don't like the war connotation of soldiers being linked to religion) of Christ, and that all groups (atheists and agnostics, too) have their fair share of charlatans, creeps, and criminals.

 

Enjoying the discussion! :woohoo:

 

-CC in MA

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Did Jesus exist? And if so, what is the non-religious historical evidence?

 

REGARDING JOSEPHUS

 

Josephus’ work has been tampered with; this seems obvious to me. However, some posit that the interpolations are identifiable and, if removed, would allow for an authentic Josephus passage in Antiquities 18:63-64 that refers to Jesus, and that Josephus, writing his Antiquities in the early 90’s, refers twice to Jesus, once to John the Baptizer and once to James (brother of Jesus).

 

This link takes one to a page maintained by the Religion Department at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte, in which one can see quite nicely the theory of Dr. James Tabor regarding extraction of the interpolated phrases in order to uncover the original text.

 

Another very thorough study of Josephus and these alleged references to Jesus, John the Baptizer and James can be found here.

 

It seems reasonable to me that indeed Josephus mentions these three characters. While there are obvious interpolations, at the core I find it credible to affirm that Jesus is mentioned in Josephus. This does not mean that he was a miracle worker or that he raised the dead or that he himself was resurrected or that anyone should believe in him in the spiritual sense of that word – only that he was mentioned by Josephus as a historical personage.

 

What do others think?

 

-CC in MA

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BTW, don't you find it odd that Paul never once mentioned "Jesus of Nazareth", or Nazareth, or his mother Mary, of Joseph, or Bethlehem, etc? He's always Christ, or Christ Jesus and is always a heavenly being.

 

Hi Antlerman!

 

Thinking more about your question, I searched things out a little bit more, and found these two paragraphs:

 

<< Among the Sacred Books of the New Testament, it is especially the four Gospels and the four great Epistles of St. Paul that are of the highest importance for the construction of the life of Jesus.

 

The four great Pauline Epistles (Romans, Galatians, and First and Second Corinthinas) can hardly be overestimated by the student of Christ's life; they have at times been called the "fifth gospel"; their authenticity has never been assailed by serious critics; their testimony is also earlier than that of the Gospels, at least most of the Gospels; it is the more valuable because it is incidental and undesigned; it is the testimony of a highly intellectual and cultured writer, who had been the greatest enemy of Jesus, who writes within twenty-five years of the events which he relates. At the same time, these four great Epistles bear witness to all the most important facts in the life of Christ: His Davidic dscent, His poverty, His Messiahship, His moral teaching, His preaching of the kingdom of God, His calling of the apostles, His miraculous power, His claims to be God, His betrayal, His institution of the Holy Eucharist, His passion, crucifixion, burial, resurrection, His repeated appearances (Romans 1:3-4; 5:11; 8:2-3; 8:32; 9:5; 15:8; Galatians 2:17; 3:13; 4:4; 5:21; 1 Corinthians 6:9; 13:4; etc.). However important the four great Epistles may be, the gospels are still more so. Not that any one of them offers a complete biography of Jesus, but they account for the origin of Christianity by the life of its Founder. >>

 

 

I know this thread is for extra-biblical accounts that might shed some light on the existence (or not) of Jesus, but to answer your question a bit more, the quoted material above necessarily must cite biblical texts. Sorry for the stray.

 

-CC in MA

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I don't necessarilly find it odd that Paul did not mention much of the earthly life of Jesus. His focus was on the heavenly man he claimed appeared to him on that dusty road to Damascus. His focus was "forgetting those things which lie behind," and finally "departing to be with Christ," and so on. What would you suggest the lack of references to the man Jesus by Paul would mean?

 

What this, and a mountain of additional evidence means, is that our assumptions about the development of the Jesus story are backwards.

 

Everyone assumes that there was a man jesus who was (at the minimum) crucified. Then, he was later deified and idealized into the gospel Jesus.

 

This isn't where the evidence leads us. The evidence leads us to believe that Jesus began from many different threads. Logos. Wisdom teachings. Apocalyptic expectations. The concept of the need for salvation and an intermediary. The preexistent SON OF GOD. Jesus began as deity. Then, became a man later (speaking in a literary sense) Prevalent ideas of the age (including the intertestament works, Philo, the Essenes, and others) about the messiah resulted from hellenistic / judaism syncretism.

 

 

The Twelve Pieces Of The Jesus Puzzle

 

[1] Jesus of Nazareth and the Gospel story cannot be found in Christian writings earlier than the Gospels, the first of which (Mark) was composed only in the late first century.

 

[2] There is no non-Christian record of Jesus before the second century. References in Flavius Josephus (end of first century) can be dismissed as later Christian insertions.

 

[3] The early epistles, such as Paul and Hebrews, speak of their Christ Jesus as a spiritual, heavenly being revealed by God through scripture, and do not equate him with a recent historical man. Paul is part of a new “salvation” movement acting on revelation from the Spirit.

 

[4] Paul and other early writers place the death and resurrection of their Christ in the supernatural/mythical world, and derive their information about these events, as well as other features of their heavenly Christ, from scripture.

 

[5] The ancients viewed the universe as multi-layered: matter below, spirit above. The higher world was regarded as the superior, genuine reality, containing spiritual processes and heavenly counterparts to earthly things. Paul’s Christ operates within this system.

 

[6] The pagan “mystery cults” of the period worshiped savior deities who had performed salvific acts which took place in the supernatural/mythical world, not on earth or in history. Paul’s Christ shares many features with these deities.

 

[7] The prominent philosophical-religious concept of the age was the intermediary Son, a spiritual channel between the ultimate transcendent God and humanity. Such intermediary concepts as the Greek Logos and Jewish Wisdom were models for Paul’s heavenly Christ.

 

[8] All the Gospels derive their basic story of Jesus of Nazareth from one source: whoever wrote the Gospel of Mark. The Acts of the Apostles, as an account of the beginnings of the Christian apostolic movement, is a second century piece of myth-making.

 

[9] The Gospels are not historical accounts, but constructed through a process of “midrash,” a Jewish method of reworking old biblical passages and tales to reflect new beliefs. The story of Jesus’ trial and crucifixion is a pastiche of verses from scripture.

 

[10] “Q,” a lost sayings collection extracted from Matthew and Luke, made no reference to a death and resurrection and can be shown to have had no Jesus at its roots: roots which were ultimately non-Jewish. The Q community preached the kingdom of God, and its traditions were eventually assigned to an invented founder who was linked to the heavenly Jesus of Paul in the Gospel of Mark.

 

[11] The initial variety of sects and beliefs about a spiritual Christ shows that the movement began as a multiplicity of largely independent and spontaneous developments based on the religious trends and philosophy of the time, not as a response to a single individual.

 

[12] Well into the second century, many Christian documents lack or reject the notion of a human man as an element of their faith. Only gradually did the Jesus of Nazareth portrayed in the Gospels come to be accepted as historical.

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From "Jesus never existed" by Ken Humphreys - http://jesusneverexisted.com/index.html

 

Was there a Jesus? Of course there was a Jesus – many!

 

The archetypal Jewish hero was Joshua (the successor of Moses) otherwise known as Yeshua ben Nun ('Jesus of the fish'). Since the name Jesus (Yeshua or Yeshu in Hebrew, Ioshu in Greek, source of the English spelling) originally was a title (meaning 'saviour', derived from 'Yahweh Saves') probably every band in the Jewish resistance had its own hero figure sporting this moniker, among others.

 

Josephus, the first century Jewish historian mentions no fewer than nineteen different Yeshuas/Jesii, about half of them contemporaries of the supposed Christ! In his Antiquities, of the twenty-eight high priests who held office from the reign of Herod the Great to the fall of the Temple, no fewer than four bore the name Jesus: Jesus ben Phiabi, Jesus ben Sec, Jesus ben Damneus, and Jesus ben Gamaliel. Even Saint Paul makes reference to a rival magician, preaching 'another Jesus' (2 Corinthians 11,4). The surfeit of early Jesuses includes:

 

Jesus ben Sirach. This Jesus was reputedly the author of the Book of Sirach (aka 'Ecclesiasticus, or the Wisdom of Jesus the Son of Sirach'), part of Old Testament Apocrypha. Ben Sirach, writing in Greek about 180 BC, brought together Jewish 'wisdom' and Homeric-style heroes.

 

Jesus ben Pandira. A wonder-worker during the reign of Alexander Jannaeus (106-79 BC), one of the most ruthless of the Maccabean kings. Imprudently, this Jesus launched into a career of end-time prophesy and agitation which upset the king. He met his own premature end-time by being hung on a tree – and on the eve of a Passover. Scholars have speculated this Jesus founded the Essene sect.

 

Jesus ben Ananias. Beginning in 62AD, this Jesus had caused disquiet in Jerusalem with a non-stop doom-laden mantra of 'Woe to the city'. He prophesied rather vaguely:

"A voice from the east, a voice from the west, a voice from the four winds, a voice against Jerusalem and the holy house, a voice against the bridegrooms and the brides, and a voice against the whole people."

(Josephus,
Wars
6:3)

Arrested and flogged by the Romans, he was released as nothing more dangerous than a mad man. He died during the siege of Jerusalem from a rock hurled by a Roman catapult.

 

Jesus ben Saphat. In the insurrection of 68AD that wrought havoc in Galilee, this Jesus had led the rebels in Tiberias. When the city was about to fall to Vespasian's legionaries he fled north to Tarichea on the Sea of Galilee.

 

Jesus ben Gamala. During 68/69 AD this Jesus was a leader of the 'peace party' in the civil war wrecking Judaea. From the walls of Jerusalem he had remonstrated with the besieging Idumeans (led by 'James and John, sons of Susa'). It did him no good. When the Idumeans breached the walls he was put to death and his body thrown to the dogs and carrion birds.

 

Jesus ben Thebuth. A priest who, in the final capitulation of the upper city in 69AD, saved his own skin by surrendering the treasures of the Temple, which included two holy candlesticks, goblets of pure gold, sacred curtains and robes of the high priests. The booty figured prominently in the Triumph held for Vespasian and his son Titus.

"Whenever we crucify the guilty, the most crowded roads are chosen, where most people can see and be moved by this fear. For penalties relate not so much to retribution as to their exemplary effect."

But was there a crucified Jesus?

 

Certainly. Jesus ben Stada was a Judean agitator who gave the Romans a headache in the early years of the second century. He met his end in the town of Lydda (twenty five miles from Jerusalem) at the hands of a Roman crucifixion crew. And given the scale that Roman retribution could reach – at the height of the siege of Jerusalem the Romans were crucifying upwards of five hundred captives a day before the city walls – dead heroes called Jesus would (quite literally) have been thick on the ground. Not one merits a full-stop in the great universal history.

 

But then with so many Jesuses could there not have been a Jesus of Nazareth?

The problem for this notion is that absolutely nothing at all corroborates the sacred biography and yet this 'greatest story' is peppered with numerous anachronisms, contradictions and absurdities. For example, at the time that Joseph and the pregnant Mary are said to have gone off to Bethlehem for a supposed Roman census, Galilee (unlike Judaea) was not a Roman province and therefore ma and pa would have had no reason to make the journey. Even if Galilee had been imperial territory, history knows of no 'universal census' ordered by Augustus (nor any other emperor) – and Roman taxes were based on property ownership not on a head count. Then again, we now know that Nazareth did not exist before the second century.

 

It is mentioned not at all in the Old Testament nor by Josephus, who waged war across the length and breadth of Galilee (a territory about the size of Greater London) and yet Josephus records the names of dozens of other towns. In fact most of the 'Jesus-action' takes place in towns of equally doubtful provenance, in hamlets so small only partisan Christians know of their existence (yet well attested pagan cities, with extant ruins, failed to make the Jesus itinerary).

 

What should alert us to wholesale fakery here is that practically all the events of Jesus's supposed life appear in the lives of mythical figures of far more ancient origin. Whether we speak of miraculous birth, prodigious youth, miracles or wondrous healings – all such 'signs' had been ascribed to other gods, centuries before any Jewish holy man strolled about. Jesus's supposed utterances and wisdom statements are equally common place, being variously drawn from Jewish scripture, neo-Platonic philosophy or commentaries made by Stoic and Cynic sages.

 

Invisible Friend

'Jesus of Nazareth' supposedly lived in what is the most well-documented period of antiquity – the first century of the Christian era – yet not a single non-Christian source mentions the miracle worker from the sky. All references – including the notorious insertions in Josephus – stem from partisan Christian sources (and Josephus himself, much argued over, was not even born until after the supposed crucifixion). The horrendous truth is that the Christian Jesus was manufactured from plundered sources, re-purposed for the needs of the early Church.

 

It is not with a human being that the Jesus myth begins. Christ is not a deified man but a humanised god who happened to be given the name Yeshu. Those real Jesuses, those that lived and died within normal human parameters, may have left stories and legends behind, later cannibalised by Christian scribes as source material for their own hero, but it is not with any flesh and blood rebel/rabbi/wonder-worker that the story begins. Rather, its genesis is in theology itself

CNN in the Garden of Gethsemane?

Is it unreasonable to ask just who recorded not only one of the last prayers of the godman but also the last occasion when the "living" superhero was with his acolytes? The only possible witnesses were asleep.

 

'And he said,
"Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt."

And
he cometh
, and findeth them
sleeping
, and saith unto Peter,
"Simon, sleepest thou? Couldest not thou watch one hour?

Watch ye and pray, lest ye enter into temptation. The spirit truly is ready, but the flesh is weak.
"

And
again he went away
, and prayed, and spake the same words.

And when
he returned
, he found them
asleep again
, (for their eyes were heavy,) neither wist they what to answer him.

And
he cometh the third time
, and saith unto them,
"
Sleep on now
,
and take your rest: it is enough, the hour is come; behold, the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners."

 

Mark
14.36,41 (
Matthew's
version is almost identical,
Luke
has a shortened version and
John
omits the scene entirely.)

But of course as sacred theatre – a fabula praetexta – such paramulations back and forth and rhetorical declamations to an audience are precisely what we would expect.

 

Makes You Think

 

Many elements of the 'Passion' make no sense historically.

 

A trial for Jesus, when suspected rebels were habitually arrested and executed by the Romans without trial? Philo of Alexandria ((On the embassy to Gaius, XXXVIII) speaks of Pilate's ' continual murders of people untried and uncondemned.'

 

And why would the Romans have allowed a convicted felon to be almost immediately removed from his cross and put in a tomb? Crucifixion was chosen precisely to make a public point that the most cruel and humiliating form of punishment awaits those who oppose Rome's will. Roman disposition on this point was perhaps best summed up by Quintilian (AD 35-95, Decl 274) when he wrote that:

"Whenever we crucify the guilty, the most crowded roads are chosen, where most people can see and be moved by this fear. For penalties relate not so much to retribution as to their exemplary effect."

A century earlier, after the 'slave revolt' led by Spartacus, 6,000 prisoners were thus crucified along the Via Appia between the cities of Rome and Cappua, as a gruesome deterrent to further rebellion. Doubtless the corpses were left on their crosses to rot or to provide food for wild beasts and birds of prey.

But of course if the 'Passion' were really a pageant of a re-born sun-god it makes perfect sense that the 'sacrificed' actor be taken off-stage, subsequently reappearing in a later act, 'reborn'…

 

 

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[10] “Q,” a lost sayings collection extracted from Matthew and Luke, made no reference to a death and resurrection and can be shown to have had no Jesus at its roots: roots which were ultimately non-Jewish. The Q community preached the kingdom of God, and its traditions were eventually assigned to an invented founder who was linked to the heavenly Jesus of Paul in the Gospel of Mark.

 

I thought the Q texts were hypothetical lost texts, not actual extant texts?

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But not all the relief that could come from man, not all the bounties that the prince could bestow, nor all the atonements which could be presented to the gods, availed to relieve Nero from the infamy of being believed to have ordered the conflagration, the fire of Rome. Hence to suppress the rumor, he falsely charged with the guilt, and punished Christians, who were hated for their enormities. Christus, the founder of the name, was put to death by Pontius Pilate, procurator of Judea in the reign of Tiberius: but the pernicious superstition, repressed for a time broke out again, not only through Judea, where the mischief originated, but through the city of Rome also, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their centre and become popular. Accordingly, an arrest was first made of all who pleaded guilty; then, upon their information, an immense multitude was convicted, not so much of the crime of firing the city, as of hatred against mankind.

Can you do me a favor and point out where in this it mentions the name of jesus? All I can find is a title but a title is nothing special since it can be associated with anyone. Case in point the mighty Pharoah of Exodus. Reference too old? How about Candace, queen of Ethiopia, in Acts (yep, Candace is a title)?

 

There's also all this suspicious stuff about Nero and Rome being threatened by xians but there's nothing in history to support this assertion. Now, Rome hated Jews and maybe, just maybe xians are get caught up in the drag-net since xians might still be getting circumsized (and this is probably one major reason they want this rule lifted...other than the other, more obvious one we can all think of). To the Romans anyone who's circumsized is a Jew, no matter who they say they worship, but, of course, to the xians they see it differently and use it to say Rome hates them when Rome has no clue who or what they are (and doesn't care).

 

Since the only two surviving manuscripts come from nearly 1000 years after the fact it's really hard to say if they've been tampered with but giving the track record of the early church I say this is not an unlikely scenario. It seems to be if a writing survived openly it either already complied with their beliefs or was modified to fit their beliefs...otherwise it was destroyed. Sad but true. Now it's just a matter of restoration.

 

mwc

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So far as I can tell you're alone. Maybe there's a reason why neither the Mormons nor the JWs or any other church want you.

 

For your information, there is more than one kind of evangelist. Some are officially so by the will of their church. Others simply try to obey the "Great Commision" and evangelize of their own volition. You are obviously the latter. Or maybe you're just babbling.

RubySera,

 

I've been reading this thread with interest, but your post seemed quite a harsh interjection in an otherwise friendly conversation. There's really no good reason for personal jabs, is there?

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[10] “Q,” a lost sayings collection extracted from Matthew and Luke, made no reference to a death and resurrection and can be shown to have had no Jesus at its roots: roots which were ultimately non-Jewish. The Q community preached the kingdom of God, and its traditions were eventually assigned to an invented founder who was linked to the heavenly Jesus of Paul in the Gospel of Mark.
I thought the Q texts were hypothetical lost texts, not actual extant texts?

 

 

They're not extant. That's why Doherty calls them a lost sayings collection. I wouldn't exactly call them hypothetical either. Many, many scholars consider the Q theory to be the best explanation of the synoptic data.

 

If you care to investigate the arguments for and against "Q", This should keep you busy for a day or two.

 

I've been reading this thread with interest, but your post seemed quite a harsh interjection in an otherwise friendly conversation. There's really no good reason for personal jabs, is there?

 

Yeah, Ruby. whassup girl?

 

Currentchristian seems okay. Anyone can tell he's not a True Christian. :HaHa:

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By the time I read all the other posts I figured I should delete my nasty one. I refreshed the page just to see if there was any response from others and I saw you all agreed with me so I deleted it.

 

As to what's up. I guess it must be personal because his posts really do bug me something terrible. I'm coping now by just picking and choosing the posts I find informative.

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They're not extant. That's why Doherty calls them a lost sayings collection. I wouldn't exactly call them hypothetical either. Many, many scholars consider the Q theory to be the best explanation of the synoptic data.

 

If you care to investigate the arguments for and against "Q", This should keep you busy for a day or two.

 

Thanks Mythra. I was only asking as I know nothing of the history of Christianity at all.

 

Yeah, Ruby. whassup girl?

 

Currentchristian seems okay. Anyone can tell he's not a True Christian. :HaHa:

 

CC appears to waver from time to time, and he throws in his OWN interpretations. Not exactly the evangelical soldier of "God." His readiness to learn from/about other faiths would have him kicked out of "Gods kingdom"if it existed and labelled a heretic.

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Sorry for the disruption. I deleted that post so it would not continue to hurt people who come along later. Can we now return to the topic of the thread? I have a few questions that, in my mind at least, are connected with the topic of did Jesus exist.

 

I really liked the information Mythra posted, esp. the 12 pieces of Jesus or whatever it's called. I have no idea how to sort truth from untruth, or fact from fiction. But I do know that the story of Jesus as saviour makes no sense to me. Nor does the Jesus tradition as promoted by Christians these days. The Gnostics make more sense to me because they're spiritual. The way Mythra and Jun portray Paul's Jesus makes a great deal of sense.

 

In light of Paul's Jesus, who seems to be a spiritual heavenly being, it would make sense in my mind that the gospel of John would have been next to be written after Paul's writings. And that the synoptics came last, sometime in the second century. That would show a "degenerating" or "materializing" trend of Jesus from heavenly to material flesh and blood. Is there any basis for such a theory? Seems I saw it somewhere but I forget where. In my mind, this would definitely indicate that there was no flesh and blood historical Jesus of the Bible.

 

I know this is opposite from what Christian biblical scholars say; they have Mark the earliest and John the latest for sure.

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Can you do me a favor and point out where in this it mentions the name of jesus?

 

Most would assert that this "Christus" is a reference to Jesus the Christ. But there's room for dissent.

 

-CC in MA

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I have no idea how to sort truth from untruth, or fact from fiction. But I do know that the story of Jesus as saviour makes no sense to me. Nor does the Jesus tradition as promoted by Christians these days. The Gnostics make more sense to me because they're spiritual. The way Mythra and Jun portray Paul's Jesus makes a great deal of sense.

 

I don't think there is a way, often, to separate truth from untruth and fact from fiction. It's very hard in this life with one's own family, for example. Imagine trying to do that with something that happened 2000 years ago. For me, I try to look at everything everyone says and then go with my gut. I can't do otherwise, and I won't spend my whole life searching and searching and searching, so at some point I grab hold of a theory that makes sense and seems reasonable and more or less stand by it -- unless it is utterly refuted.

 

-CC in MA

 

 

In light of Paul's Jesus, who seems to be a spiritual heavenly being, it would make sense in my mind that the gospel of John would have been next to be written after Paul's writings. And that the synoptics came last, sometime in the second century. That would show a "degenerating" or "materializing" trend of Jesus from heavenly to material flesh and blood. Is there any basis for such a theory? Seems I saw it somewhere but I forget where. In my mind, this would definitely indicate that there was no flesh and blood historical Jesus of the Bible.

 

I know this is opposite from what Christian biblical scholars say; they have Mark the earliest and John the latest for sure.

 

That is a very original thought which I have never heard before, and it would turn everything on its ears! Most say that John was written last (as you reference) when the Christ had emerged from the Jesus. I'd do some research on that very novel idea as it's a real nugget.

 

-CC in MA

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Can you do me a favor and point out where in this it mentions the name of jesus?

 

Most would assert that this "Christus" is a reference to Jesus the Christ. But there's room for dissent.

 

-CC in MA

 

If I may rephrase your statement, I believe it should be read - Most Christians would assert that this "Christus" is a reference to Jesus the Christ.

 

Christus - the "anointed one," "high priest." From the Greek Χριστός (Christós). It is simply a title and doesn't necessarily allude to "Jesus." More on Christus here - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christ

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Can you do me a favor and point out where in this it mentions the name of jesus?

 

Most would assert that this "Christus" is a reference to Jesus the Christ. But there's room for dissent.

 

-CC in MA

 

If I may rephrase your statement, I believe it should be read - Most Christians would assert that this "Christus" is a reference to Jesus the Christ.

 

Christus - the "anointed one," "high priest." From the Greek Χριστός (Christós). It is simply a title and doesn't necessarily allude to "Jesus." More on Christus here - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christ

 

You mean to tell me that Jesus' parents weren't Mr. and Mrs. Christ. All these years I've been deceived! :grin:

 

Regarding your rewording, I don't know. I think most scholars and most layfolks reading that passage would say it referred to Jesus, whether or not it does, and whether or not they are Christians. But the majority quite often is wrong.

 

And thank you for labeling me a heretic. Niiiiice. :grin:

 

-CC in MA

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Can you do me a favor and point out where in this it mentions the name of jesus?

 

Most would assert that this "Christus" is a reference to Jesus the Christ. But there's room for dissent.

 

-CC in MA

 

If I may rephrase your statement, I believe it should be read - Most Christians would assert that this "Christus" is a reference to Jesus the Christ.

 

Christus - the "anointed one," "high priest." From the Greek Χριστός (Christós). It is simply a title and doesn't necessarily allude to "Jesus." More on Christus here - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christ

 

You mean to tell me that Jesus' parents weren't Mr. and Mrs. Christ. All these years I've been deceived! :grin:

 

Regarding your rewording, I don't know. I think most scholars and most layfolks reading that passage would say it referred to Jesus, whether or not it does, and whether or not they are Christians. But the majority quite often is wrong.

 

And thank you for labeling me a heretic. Niiiiice. :grin:

 

-CC in MA

 

CC, you are at times annoyingly stubborn, but you are a likeable kinda guy.

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You mean to tell me that Jesus' parents weren't Mr. and Mrs. Christ. All these years I've been deceived! :grin:

 

Regarding your rewording, I don't know. I think most scholars and most layfolks reading that passage would say it referred to Jesus, whether or not it does, and whether or not they are Christians. But the majority quite often is wrong.

Exactly my point. After nearly 2000 years most people would see that passage that way but how about after less than 100 years? Then how many people would see the word "christ" and immediately say "Jesus!?" And more specifically a jesus of Nazareth in Galilee? This is the assumption that Tacitus would be making by simply writing that statement and not expounding on it. It seems unreasonable for a historian to use a title for the origin of a movement as opposed to using the name of the person originating that movement. A historian doesn't think that people will get more information from another source in addition to their own ("I, Tacitus, only need to mention a Christ since people will have read the gospel accounts and will know I mean jesus of Nazareth who died on a cross under Pontius Pilate, but I will mention Pilate so they can cross reference that bit."). He might have thought that but it seems unlikely.

 

mwc

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You mean to tell me that Jesus' parents weren't Mr. and Mrs. Christ. All these years I've been deceived! :grin:

 

Regarding your rewording, I don't know. I think most scholars and most layfolks reading that passage would say it referred to Jesus, whether or not it does, and whether or not they are Christians. But the majority quite often is wrong.

Exactly my point. After nearly 2000 years most people would see that passage that way but how about after less than 100 years? Then how many people would see the word "christ" and immediately say "Jesus!?" And more specifically a jesus of Nazareth in Galilee? This is the assumption that Tacitus would be making by simply writing that statement and not expounding on it. It seems unreasonable for a historian to use a title for the origin of a movement as opposed to using the name of the person originating that movement. A historian doesn't think that people will get more information from another source in addition to their own ("I, Tacitus, only need to mention a Christ since people will have read the gospel accounts and will know I mean jesus of Nazareth who died on a cross under Pontius Pilate, but I will mention Pilate so they can cross reference that bit."). He might have thought that but it seems unlikely.

 

mwc

 

Your first point, mwc, that what we think reading the English translation of this Tacitus passage may be quite different from what a reader in the first quarter of the 2nd century would think is a very solid one.

 

Could it be that Tacitus used the title as opposed to the personal name so as to make his point that the name "Christian" derived from the, as he put it, "founder of the name"? He was trying, perhaps, to point out the origin of the name used to refer to those who believed in this "pernicious superstition."

 

-CC in MA

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I have no idea how to sort truth from untruth, or fact from fiction. But I do know that the story of Jesus as saviour makes no sense to me. Nor does the Jesus tradition as promoted by Christians these days. The Gnostics make more sense to me because they're spiritual. The way Mythra and Jun portray Paul's Jesus makes a great deal of sense.

 

I don't think there is a way, often, to separate truth from untruth and fact from fiction. It's very hard in this life with one's own family, for example. Imagine trying to do that with something that happened 2000 years ago. For me, I try to look at everything everyone says and then go with my gut. I can't do otherwise, and I won't spend my whole life searching and searching and searching, so at some point I grab hold of a theory that makes sense and seems reasonable and more or less stand by it -- unless it is utterly refuted.

 

-CC in MA

 

 

In light of Paul's Jesus, who seems to be a spiritual heavenly being, it would make sense in my mind that the gospel of John would have been next to be written after Paul's writings. And that the synoptics came last, sometime in the second century. That would show a "degenerating" or "materializing" trend of Jesus from heavenly to material flesh and blood. Is there any basis for such a theory? Seems I saw it somewhere but I forget where. In my mind, this would definitely indicate that there was no flesh and blood historical Jesus of the Bible.

 

I know this is opposite from what Christian biblical scholars say; they have Mark the earliest and John the latest for sure.

 

That is a very original thought which I have never heard before, and it would turn everything on its ears! Most say that John was written last (as you reference) when the Christ had emerged from the Jesus. I'd do some research on that very novel idea as it's a real nugget.

 

-CC in MA

 

CC, thank you for your kind response.

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The total silence of Jesus' contemporaries is astounding. Besides Philo, here is a partial list of first century writers and historians who failed to mention him: Seneca, Pliny the Elder, Suetonius, Juvenal, Martial, Persius, Plutarch, Justus of Tiberius, Apollonius, Pliny the Younger, Quintilian, Lucanus, Epictetus, Silius Italicus, Statius, Ptolemy, Hermogones, Valerius Maximus, Arrian, Petronius, Dion Pruseus, Paterculus, Appian, Theon of Smyrna, Phlegon, Lucian, Pompon Mela, Quintius Curtius, Pausanias, Valerius Flaccus,Favorinus, Florus Lucius, Phaedrus, Damis, Aulus Gellius, Columella, Lysias, Dio Chrysostom and Appion of Alexandria.

Thus, until new information is unearthed, I remain a Mythisist.

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Thus, until new information is unearthed, I remain a Mythisist.

 

A what? What's that? :)

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Your first point, mwc, that what we think reading the English translation of this Tacitus passage may be quite different from what a reader in the first quarter of the 2nd century would think is a very solid one.

 

Could it be that Tacitus used the title as opposed to the personal name so as to make his point that the name "Christian" derived from the, as he put it, "founder of the name"? He was trying, perhaps, to point out the origin of the name used to refer to those who believed in this "pernicious superstition."

If we assume the text is genuine, and we read the rest of the text, then a better assumption to make is that Tacitus is not making a reference to a title at all but instead is confusing title with name. He has no idea he's referencing a title and believes "Christus" to be the actual name of the leader of these people. However, "Christus" is not "Jesus" no matter how many ways you want to try to equate them. You can say he got it wrong and try to correct him but perhaps a person known as "Christus" was, in fact, killed by Pilate and IS the true origin of Christianity. We don't know this information is incorrect.

 

The text does read as an interpolation and as bad as Nero was he would not have gotten away with burning people on stakes in the presence of the upper class without severe consequences (his suicide doesn't count...think poisoning since that seemed to be their preferred way of dealing with these sorts of things). These are the actions of Caligula after his illness (when he really went crazy) but a little too late to blame on him.

 

Back on point. Did you even bother to read the text? It's about how Nero built his palace in the middle of the city after it burnt. Tacitus has no problem naming name after name in each paragraph (he even calls each emperor by name so there's no confusion). In addition he sticks pretty much on point until he gets to paragraph 44 and then he does this odd little digression. This is why people question it. You know, I'll just post from 15:43-45 even though it's a lot just so everyone can see what I mean.

 

[15.43] Of Rome meanwhile, so much as was left unoccupied by his mansion, was not built up, as it had been after its burning by the Gauls, without any regularity or in any fashion, but with rows of streets according to measurement, with broad thoroughfares, with a restriction on the height of houses, with open spaces, and the further addition of colonnades, as a protection to the frontage of the blocks of tenements. These colonnades Nero promised to erect at his own expense, and to hand over the open spaces, when cleared of the debris, to the ground landlords. He also offered rewards proportioned to each person's position and property, and prescribed a period within which they were to obtain them on the completion of so many houses or blocks of building. He fixed on the marshes of Ostia for the reception of the rubbish, and arranged that the ships which had brought up corn by the Tiber, should sail down the river with cargoes of this rubbish. The buildings themselves, to a certain height, were to be solidly constructed, without wooden beams, of stone from Gabii or Alba, that material being impervious to fire. And to provide that the water which individual license had illegally appropriated, might flow in greater abundance in several places for the public use, officers were appointed, and everyone was to have in the open court the means of stopping a fire. Every building, too, was to be enclosed by its own proper wall, not by one common to others. These changes which were liked for their utility, also added beauty to the new city. Some, however, thought that its old arrangement had been more conducive to health, inasmuch as the narrow streets with the elevation of the roofs were not equally penetrated by the sun's heat, while now the open space, unsheltered by any shade, was scorched by a fiercer glow.

 

[15.44] Such indeed were the precautions of human wisdom. The next thing was to seek means of propitiating the gods, and recourse was had to the Sibylline books, by the direction of which prayers were offered to Vulcanus, Ceres, and Proserpina. Juno, too, was entreated by the matrons, first, in the Capitol, then on the nearest part of the coast, whence water was procured to sprinkle the fane and image of the goddess. And there were sacred banquets and nightly vigils celebrated by married women. But all human efforts, all the lavish gifts of the emperor, and the propitiations of the gods, did not banish the sinister belief that the conflagration was the result of an order. Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judaea, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their centre and become popular. Accordingly, an arrest was first made of all who pleaded guilty; then, upon their information, an immense multitude was convicted, not so much of the crime of firing the city, as of hatred against mankind. Mockery of every sort was added to their deaths. Covered with the skins of beasts, they were torn by dogs and perished, or were nailed to crosses, or were doomed to the flames and burnt, to serve as a nightly illumination, when daylight had expired. Nero offered his gardens for the spectacle, and was exhibiting a show in the circus, while he mingled with the people in the dress of a charioteer or stood aloft on a car. Hence, even for criminals who deserved extreme and exemplary punishment, there arose a feeling of compassion; for it was not, as it seemed, for the public good, but to glut one man's cruelty, that they were being destroyed.

 

[15.45] Meanwhile Italy was thoroughly exhausted by contributions of money, the provinces were ruined, as also the allied nations and the free states, as they were called. Even the gods fell victims to the plunder; for the temples in Rome were despoiled and the gold carried off, which, for a triumph or a vow, the Roman people in every age had consecrated in their prosperity or their alarm. Throughout Asia and Achaia not only votive gifts, but the images of deities were seized, Acratus and Secundus Carinas having been sent into those provinces. The first was a freedman ready for any wickedness; the latter, as far as speech went, was thoroughly trained in Greek learning, but he had not imbued his heart with sound principles. Seneca, it was said, to avert from himself the obloquy of sacrilege, begged for the seclusion of a remote rural retreat, and, when it was refused, feigning ill health, as though he had a nervous ailment, would not quit his chamber. According to some writers, poison was prepared for him at Nero's command by his own freedman, whose name was Cleonicus. This Seneca avoided through the freedman's disclosure, or his own apprehension, while he used to support life on the very simple diet of wild fruits, with water from a running stream when thirst prompted.

 

See how the whole story of "Christus" is more of a tangent especially when you the whole thing with it being the origin of Christianity and all? It's not really his style. Just look in the very next passage where he mentions Acratus and Secundus (I bolded it). He says who they were and then he describes them. That's his style and you can see him using this style over and over again. He simply has no problem providing names at all (and of course we see people identified by first name much of the time so we'd expect to see Jesus and not some Christ variant...or Jesus of Nazareth or Jesus son of Joseph or something along those lines).

 

So, as I said, even if the whole text is legit it is obvious that he uses names and not titles and so Christus is a name and not a title to Tacitus. This is the same error that I pointed out in Acts where Candace is used as the name for the queen of Ethiopia (since the title, Candace, hadn't been used in early first century the author wasn't aware of this problem).

 

The choices we're left with are: Christus, not jesus, is the founder of Christianity, Tacitus has no clue what he's writing about or these words were inserted later by someone else.

 

As a minor aside, if we're also to believe the Book of Acts it is Paul that brings xianity to Rome. Of course, in the book, there are already xians there but ignoring that there really isn't enough time for Paul to preach from under house arrest to build a large enough group of xians to threaten Nero and for the populace to build a hatred toward. We're talking maybe a few hundred people in all of Rome (even if it reached into a couple thousand it is well known that Rome was far more concerned with other groups during this time period...the Jews being one they especially hated and given a choice between a xian and a Jew it would be no contest who they'd persecute).

 

mwc

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