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Goodbye Jesus

Did Jesus Exist?


Sexton Blake

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Christians immediately will say yes, but on another forum, atheists are queueing up to say yes too though he was a normal human.

 

Yet we have not the slighterst evidence that Jesus existed other than hearsay accounts.

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Technically, everything written by one person about another person can be considered hearsay accounts. That alone does not automatically make those accounts "not the slightest evidence" that the person written about existed. Such accounts are at least some evidence which evidence has to be weighed like all other evidence must be weighed. There is some evidence that Jesus did exist. First and foremost, we know there were early Christians who predated the earliest Christian writings we now know about, those being Paul's writings. There are also the four gospels, of course, and then there are the non-canonical accounts like the Gospel of Thomas. There are also some references to someone who could be Jesus in non-religious accounts. For example, the Roman historian, Tacitus, wrote of "Christus" when he wrote about Nero's persecution of Christians:

 

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.

 

http://mcadams.posc....usAnnals15.html

 

So, there is at least some evidence that someone who may have served as the model on whom the myth of Jesus was built did actually exist. Though, in my opinion, the Jesus as depicted in the NT never existed (the miracle man who rose from the dead, etc.).

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I'm solidly in the mythicist camp.

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Calling MWC...I repeat, calling MWC...your favorite topic has been brought up...

 

I say that Jesus probably did not exist, but this is an unpopular view with historians. According to Ehrman, most historians believe that Jesus existed and was some sort of preacher who later got deified. The issue with that is there is absolutely no evidence to point us to a person who the myth may have evolved from. All we have are the myths themselves. Though Tacitus mentions Christ, there is no reason to assume he is doing little more than retelling the Christian mythology rather than trying to recall a historical account.

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Paul shows virtually no knowledge of a Jesus who roamed Palestine.

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Calling MWC...I repeat, calling MWC...your favorite topic has been brought up...

I've been typecast. ;)

 

I tend to dislike this topic. It's a nuisance.

 

If I use the ancient sources they tend to point to a divine figure of some sort. This is what (most) xians believe while everyone else rejects it and looks for a more reasonable answer. This usually means a non-divine human or a myth.

 

I see no problem with atheists conceding that Jesus was a normal human. It's the most popular position. There's no question that if you don't think Jesus was the divine son of God that the next likely position to take is he was a normal human of some sort. It's the "sort" that is in question as well as a number of issues surrounding the "movement" and so on. I think this position is easy to understand. There was once a guy pretty much like the guy in the stories just without all the mumbo-jumbo. Same name. Same family. Same friends. Same life. Same death. Just not magical. His friends and followers kept it all going once he died. <skip ahead> <skip ahead> And here we are today. Simple.

 

The mythical Jesus position is the odd man out here. Not quite fringe but certainly out of the mainstream everything. This takes a lot more to understand. This isn't to call people that don't accept it stupid. If people can understand gnostic concepts then they're easily going to understand something like this. It's just order of events to me. Instead of human to myth it's myth to human. Simple.

 

But it all gets bogged down in using neither purely human nor purely mythical texts to make your case. They're divine related. That's the Jesus of antiquity. And I very much doubt the unique existence of this divine being.

 

mwc

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I agree with what MWC says about the pure mythicist position as being the odd-man out and more difficult to understand. To me it doesn't fit the fossil records, so to speak. I don't think seeing the evolution of myth heaped upon a human teacher to require any force-fitting of a historical figure completely cut out of whole cloth, such as the mythicists attempt to do. Despite diverging images of the figure, there are some core kernel indications of a real person there, some person who had enough impact in the environment to 'get the ball rolling' in the minds of those following him to make him this divine human of Christian myth. I love the title of that PBS special from a few years back, "From Jesus to Christ". It says it all in the title.

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I can't recall the source, but Ive read that this Christ/messiah myth was floating around for a while before Jesus supposedly lived, and that Christians originally were name after followers of this "announced one" who wasn't necessarily Jesus, in the gospel sense. Or Christians just meant "annointed ones". Almost impossible to know for sure though.

 

The historical position still doesn't answer the question that's the elephant in the room: if Paul's writings were first, how come he knew nothing of Mary, virgin birth, miracles, an itinerant preacher, an empty tomb, and on and on? He seems to know nothing of a Jesus that roamed Palestine and was crucified IN Jerusalem.

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Paul also says explicitly that Jesus as son of god was revealed to him BY THE SCRIPTURES. not by an historical person that lived a few years earlier. And that the son of god would be revealed to the world for the first time at his coming (thought by us as the second coming).

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I can't recall the source, but Ive read that this Christ/messiah myth was floating around for a while before Jesus supposedly lived, and that Christians originally were name after followers of this "announced one" who wasn't necessarily Jesus, in the gospel sense. Or Christians just meant "annointed ones". Almost impossible to know for sure though.

The archetypes that were ascribe to Jesus as the Christ, are just those, archetypes. Yes, those exist in various forms throughout religions of the world throughout history. Once he is viewed as the Divine, he symbolizes these forms, he becomes "the Christ".

 

The historical position still doesn't answer the question that's the elephant in the room: if Paul's writings were first, how come he knew nothing of Mary, virgin birth, miracles, an itinerant preacher, an empty tomb, and on and on? He seems to know nothing of a Jesus that roamed Palestine and was crucified IN Jerusalem.

This doesn't represent the 'historical position', meaning a man upon whom myth was later layered. In fact, this would be consistent with that. Paul doesn't speak of the stories in the later Gospels for the simple reason they hadn't been created yet.

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Paul also says explicitly that Jesus as son of god was revealed to him BY THE SCRIPTURES. not by an historical person that lived a few years earlier.

Sure, that this figure whom he saw as the Christ is evidenced in the Hebrew scriptures for him is in order to validate it with Jewish religion. He did not view this as separate from Judaism, but consistent with it. He was still a Jew. It doesn't have anything to do with saying he learned about Jesus only through the scriptures. Clearly he knew about the teachings and the beliefs and his followers beforehand, since after all he was persecuting them.

 

And that the son of god would be revealed to the world for the first time at his coming (thought by us as the second coming).

"for the first time" seems to be something you are supplying in an interpretation in light of the mythicist position. It doesn't state it that way as far as I can tell.

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But he doesn't mention Jerusalem, which is one of the most basic points of even an historical Jesus, where he was supposedly killed. I can't think of one uncontested verse where Paul thinks Jesus ever walked on earth, but maybe you have some?

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I had read that the Greek word used as "revealed" meant "an uncovering", such as taking a blanket off something and revealing it for the first time. But all your points do make sense. We'll probably never know.

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There is one citation in Josephus that may be the "Jesus", but a lot of folks were named Jesus back then so who knows if that is the jesus.

 

Scripture = written words. There is nothing special about "scripture" anymore than the words written on this web page. The only difference is that some folks choose to believe that words placed in the special "scripture" category are immune from logical interpretation or immune from standard literary theory or textual analysis. Therefore "scripture", by circular reasoning becomes self referentially valid.

 

A: I am a giant green ogre.

B: Well, you sort of look like a short, bald white guy to me.

A: But I say I am an ogre. Therefore I am an ogre.

 

"Scripture" is a word that describes our collective psychosis wherein we all agree to deny what is in front of our faces. This is an in-group out-group identification marker and woe be to them who want to call out the collective denial and try to paint a picture of empirical reality. All reason, logic and every day common sense seems to get turned off when we put words in this special category of: "scripture"

 

I heard a history lecture about ancient empires and the prof was doing real well until he came to the 700 BC Jewish Empire of King David. He starts the lecture by saying that the only source is the Old Testament, with no corroborating evidence to be found anywhere else in history, literature or archaeology. Then the prof went on to deliver the whole bible story as if it was historical fact.

Buzz Flash Warning Lights. This cat actually had a high paying prof gig at the university and he could not bring himself to apply even the most rudimentary objective analysis of what is right in front of his face.

 

If it looks, walks, smells and talks like an invisible cartoon character....then it must have been real....

The Chinese, who are kicking our economic butts and are extremely practical and reality oriented, do not work themselves into bizarre mental states over these kind of weirded out approaches to history. Unless we in the West can pull our heads out of our collective asses the situation will only get worse.

 

Good day.

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But he doesn't mention Jerusalem, which is one of the most basic points of even an historical Jesus, where he was supposedly killed. I can't think of one uncontested verse where Paul thinks Jesus ever walked on earth, but maybe you have some?

There is an old but true saying that "absence of evidence is not evidence of absence". That Paul doesn't speak of Jesus' particular history can be understood that it was unimportant to it, or that is was taken for granted, or any number of explanations. Paul's Jesus in Asia Minor is particularly distinct in that he is the Cosmic Christ. The later Gospels were of a different intent for different audiences. There are however references within Paul such as "in the flesh", which would lend support to the assumptions he viewed him as a material human being.

 

I've read Earl Doherty's the Jesus Puzzle, and he makes some interesting arguments. He actually makes a better argument than the pure mythicists, but it seems his basic premise, that this is some sort of neo-platonic event in the space between heaven and earth doesn't have support outside his assertion that people believed this. With that missing, the rest falls apart.

 

Furthermore however, it's not just that but the fact that in textual criticism you can see multiple independent traditions cropping up, such as the miracle stories woven into John, the various sayings traditions, etc, all in other regions of the area which would not be adopting necessarily some sort of Cosmic Christology of Paul, in some supposed Neo-Platonic tradition. Doherty's speculation can't account for those. What was the basis of those? Those in fact did exist for a long time, side-by side with Paul, until Mark wove them into his Narrative tale of the earthly Jesus as the Jewish Messiah.

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All valid points. I may fall into the mythic it's camp currently but I'm not entrenched.

 

Have you read that book that claims Mark was written as fiction, based on the odyssey?

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I think jesus existed but his teachings and his actions got warped over time, i mean we can not totaly discredit the bible in all areas as it does act as a good historical record in some cases and in many cases the only record of time periods in palistine.

 

Unless of course you subscribe to the documentary hypothesis.

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Have you read that book that claims Mark was written as fiction, based on the odyssey?

Yes, I've heard of that but not read the book, though I had wanted to. On the surface just hearing the hypothesis it makes a certain amount of sense.

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I am inclined to believe that there was a historical jesus. If he was just a total construction, or like spirit being or whatever the fuck you say to explain why they think of a jesus person. Then you wouldn't have had them trying to hard, to rip OT proof for him, so fracking insanely out of context. If he was a total myth the fabrication or the mistakes in remembering events wouldn't be so obvious.

 

Though i am not even sure the historical jesus question is that important anyway, so I can't say I have thought incredibly hard about the mythicist position.

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Have you read that book that claims Mark was written as fiction, based on the odyssey?

Yes, I've heard of that but not read the book, though I had wanted to. On the surface just hearing the hypothesis it makes a certain amount of sense.

 

There's some vids on YouTube that sum it up (by truthsurge I think). I try to always view things like that skeptically but it makes pretty good sense. But I'm no textual critic by profession.

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Christians immediately will say yes, but on another forum, atheists are queueing up to say yes too though he was a normal human.Yet we have not the slighterst evidence that Jesus existed other than hearsay accounts.

 

Good day. I'm in the normal human camp. On the basis of the criterion of embarrassment. Things Jesus purported to have done and said which are embarrassing to future Christians.

 

Such as baptism by John the baptist. Would indicate subservience to John to baptist or being a groupie.

 

And telling followers that he has only been sent to the Jews. Not a good selling point to gentiles.

 

Whether the stories are fable or part fable, is perhaps not as important a point as the accounts are riddled with contradictions and many many errors :)

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Have you read that book that claims Mark was written as fiction, based on the odyssey?

 

I haven't read that but it sounds a bit like this article which argues the author of Mark did not mean for it to be taken literally, unlike Matthew, Luke and John which are presented as histories.

 

One of the lines of evidence is that the author of Mark doesn't say Jesus is fulfilling OT prophesies but instead uses OT material as literary allusion and this is more commonly used in fiction than history. He lifts complete lines and paragraphs out of the old testament and they are passages in which no prophecy about a messiah is being made.

 

http://www.rationalr...gospel_mark.htm

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Have you read that book that claims Mark was written as fiction, based on the odyssey?

 

I haven't read that but it sounds a bit like this article which argues the author of Mark did not mean for it to be taken literally, unlike Matthew, Luke and John which are presented as histories.

 

One of the lines of evidence is that the author of Mark doesn't say Jesus is fulfilling OT prophesies but instead uses OT material as literary allusion and this is more commonly used in fiction than history. He lifts complete lines and paragraphs out of the old testament and they are passages in which no prophecy about a messiah is being made.

 

http://www.rationalr...gospel_mark.htm

 

Why The original ending of Mark Just had an empty tomb an the women telling no one. It may have been a "cliff hanger". Good way to end a work of fiction.

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Technically, everything written by one person about another person can be considered hearsay accounts. That alone does not automatically make those accounts "not the slightest evidence" that the person written about existed. Such accounts are at least some evidence which evidence has to be weighed like all other evidence must be weighed. There is some evidence that Jesus did exist. First and foremost, we know there were early Christians who predated the earliest Christian writings we now know about, those being Paul's writings. There are also the four gospels, of course, and then there are the non-canonical accounts like the Gospel of Thomas. There are also some references to someone who could be Jesus in non-religious accounts. For example, the Roman historian, Tacitus, wrote of "Christus" when he wrote about Nero's persecution of Christians:

 

So, there is at least some evidence that someone who may have served as the model on whom the myth of Jesus was built did actually exist. Though, in my opinion, the Jesus as depicted in the NT never existed (the miracle man who rose from the dead, etc.).

 

 

I don't think there are any eyewitness accounts in the bible. Such accounts are written in such a way and these are not. Bible stories are just people writing stories down that they have not witnessed.

 

Examples of eyewitness acconts:

 

http://911research.wtc7.net/wtc/evidence/eyewitnesses.html

 

The gospels were written some time after 70 AD, maybe 80-120 AD but the fact that they are not quoted from literally says they may even be as late as after 150 AD. Justin Martyr debating with Trycho about 150 AD seemed to know about John the Baptist but only have a vague knowledge of Jesus and no access to a gospel to use that in his debate. We have nothing from the first century, a few tiny bits from the second century and then in the third century suddenly we have lots of bits of the gospels.

 

If you ignore the obviously faked early accounts of Jesus' life and the faked ascenion accounts (as in the last 12 verses of Mark are known fakes) and the tiny bit in Luke is suspected to be a fake, with the earlier Mark and later John not even mentioning it, we have Jesus (actually Yoshua, a very common name of the time) suddenly appearing, doing a few years ministry and miracles, and then vanishing again without trace as though he had never existed.

 

As to Paul, did he even exist?

 

http://www.jesusneverexisted.com/saul-paul.htm

 

So much is taken for granted with Paul but we do not even know if he existed, or when or where the stories attributed to him were written. As christians were not persecuted in the first centurym (the Romans were very tolerant of other religions. All they required was loyalty to Rome), other than when they blasphemed against judaism, there was no reason for a Saul. The jews were perfectly capable of stoning such people to death if necessary. Why were there never any more persecutors like Saul?

 

The oldest manuscript we have for Tacitus is tenth century. There are allegations that christiuans used the works of Sulpicius in the fourth century for THAT paragraph about christians. Certainly Tacitus could have no first hand knowledge of what he claimed, Suetonius copied from Tacitus and no one else mentioned it. We are expected to believe that a rag tag mob of christians defeated the mighty Roman army in Rome itself and were allowed to run amok. When the jews upset the emporer, he just kicked them all out of Rome. Petronius who was alive for the following two years and wrote for Nero made no mention of the christians.

 

If we say that christianity could not have happened without Jesus, then how about all the other religions? Was there a human Thor, Odin and Loki behind the Norse myths? And so on.

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Christians immediately will say yes, but on another forum, atheists are queueing up to say yes too though he was a normal human.Yet we have not the slighterst evidence that Jesus existed other than hearsay accounts.

 

Good day. I'm in the normal human camp. On the basis of the criterion of embarrassment. Things Jesus purported to have done and said which are embarrassing to future Christians.

 

Such as baptism by John the baptist. Would indicate subservience to John to baptist or being a groupie.

 

And telling followers that he has only been sent to the Jews. Not a good selling point to gentiles.

 

Whether the stories are fable or part fable, is perhaps not as important a point as the accounts are riddled with contradictions and many many errors smile.png

 

Yes, Jesus did start preaching to the jews but when they rejected him (the jews know Gods do not have sons), Jesus was forced to go to the gentiles.

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