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Was There A Historical Jesus?


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Dr. Richard Carrier: Why I think Jesus Didn't Exist.

 

 

 

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I am excited for his book on the historicity of Jesus to come out. Hopefully a good scholarly discussion (which will be way beyond me) will actually happen and we can see if his ideas are validated. I find his arguments to be very interesting, but I am not a historian (not even an aspiring one) so I cannot say how valid they are. At the very least, I think he shows that a historical Jesus is not necessary for Christianity to arise.

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For me I think there was a rabbi of some authority walking around Israel preaching an end of the world message and then there were copy cats who tried to get by off of his fame. This would explain differing accounts and locations like the lineage issue also after the supposed resurrection he appeared differently to his followers... Then it kinda snowballed from there. I don't even think the rabbi was trying to claim he was a god or prophet and lets be honest the resurrection was not in the earliest known gospels so that was tacked on as well. I also am of the opinion that xtianity was a minor cult until nero started his persecution which probably gave it some notoriety. Some what like the old adage that any publicity is good publicity and it exploded from there with people adding whatever the fuck they wanted to. I don't think there was a singular jesus per say but I wouldn't doubt there was some heretical rabbi's screaming chicken little and had some followers. It probably started like scientology and Mormonism started in our era.

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I am excited for his book on the historicity of Jesus to come out. Hopefully a good scholarly discussion (which will be way beyond me) will actually happen and we can see if his ideas are validated. I find his arguments to be very interesting, but I am not a historian (not even an aspiring one) so I cannot say how valid they are. At the very least, I think he shows that a historical Jesus is not necessary for Christianity to arise.

 

I'm not a historian either, but I've been reading a number of different historian’s works for the past 7-8 years. Historians customarily qualify their scholarship in terms of probability because it is virtually impossible to go back that far in antiquity and find evidence that could be stated as an absolute fact. The scholarship for religious historical criticism is more than 300 years old. It has withstood intense scrutiny and scientific analysis. I am comfortable accepting the findings of these religious historians as essentially true.

 

 

 

After a focused study of the issue of Jesus having been a real person or a myth I have concluded the circumstantial evidence favors a mythical Jesus. Earl Doherty, Richard Carrier, and Robert M Price among others have explored and researched this issue for years.

 

 

 

I would recommend Earl Doherty’s book, The Jesus Puzzle (available on line) and Robert Price books The Incredible Shrinking Son of Man & The Christ Myth-Theory and it’s Problems as well as Deconstructing Jesus. Dr. Robert Price is acknowledged as one of the world’s foremost religious historians. He is not only convinced Jesus was a myth he is also convinced the gospels are simply a Midrash interpretation-rewrite of Old Testament stories. He makes a convincing case, IMO, for his conclusions.

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I actually did put a lot of effort into understanding the historicity of Jesus; both whle I was a believer and afterwards.  I don't have a solid conclusion to the question, "Was there really an historical person who at least roughly corresponds to Jeshua ben Josheph?" My loosely held conclusion is 'yes'. Much mythology is built around him, but I think some real person is the foundation for the exaggerated character we know about.

I'll have to watch the video completely when I have time.

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I like to put it in terms of the battle of troy. was there a city named troy that had Trojans? short answer is no long answer is there were about 3-7 cities that are now dig sites that when combined matched the description in homer's stories. Interestingly enough of the cities discovered the one that had the walls showed no signs of a battle but destruction from natural causes. the other cities show destruction by war with artifacts of spear points and arrow points and swords scattered throughout the sites. when you put it all together you get troy. It is in this sense that the Iliad becomes a historical fiction. While no one can disprove the characters involved were real people they are more likely a combination of various historical figures throughout time during a war between the greeks and the luwians or Hittites

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I am excited for his book on the historicity of Jesus to come out. Hopefully a good scholarly discussion (which will be way beyond me) will actually happen and we can see if his ideas are validated. I find his arguments to be very interesting, but I am not a historian (not even an aspiring one) so I cannot say how valid they are. At the very least, I think he shows that a historical Jesus is not necessary for Christianity to arise.

 

I'm not a historian either, but I've been reading a number of different historian’s works for the past 7-8 years. Historians customarily qualify their scholarship in terms of probability because it is virtually impossible to go back that far in antiquity and find evidence that could be stated as an absolute fact. The scholarship for religious historical criticism is more than 300 years old. It has withstood intense scrutiny and scientific analysis. I am comfortable accepting the findings of these religious historians as essentially true.

 

 

 

After a focused study of the issue of Jesus having been a real person or a myth I have concluded the circumstantial evidence favors a mythical Jesus. Earl Doherty, Richard Carrier, and Robert M Price among others have explored and researched this issue for years.

 

 

 

I would recommend Earl Doherty’s book, The Jesus Puzzle (available on line) and Robert Price books The Incredible Shrinking Son of Man & The Christ Myth-Theory and it’s Problems as well as Deconstructing Jesus. Dr. Robert Price is acknowledged as one of the world’s foremost religious historians. He is not only convinced Jesus was a myth he is also convinced the gospels are simply a Midrash interpretation-rewrite of Old Testament stories. He makes a convincing case, IMO, for his conclusions.

 

I haven't had a chance to read anyone else on the topic yet (although I have heard of Price and Doherty), so thank you for the recomendation. I started reading and watching Carrier's work while reading the NT, which is pretty damn trippy. I'm tempted to pick up The Mystery of Acts by Richard I Pervo just because I recently finished Acts. this stuff actually makes The Bible interesting to me, because as a book I find it to be just awful.

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"Was there really an historical person who at least roughly corresponds to Jeshua ben Josheph?" My loosely held conclusion is 'yes'.

I like the way you worded this. +1

 

it's also how I see it. Only in that its possible and seems to go with the territory of the time for such a person to have cropped up. Though the evidence is lacking, so its a loosely held assumption, and not quite yet a conclusion for me.

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Well it might not be much evidence but the son of a Jesus wrote a book.

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wisdom_of_Sirach

 

Yes he was fully Jewish and a couple hundred years before Paul but to me that fits.

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I like to put it in terms of the battle of troy. was there a city named troy that had Trojans? short answer is no long answer is there were about 3-7 cities that are now dig sites that when combined matched the description in homer's stories. Interestingly enough of the cities discovered the one that had the walls showed no signs of a battle but destruction from natural causes. the other cities show destruction by war with artifacts of spear points and arrow points and swords scattered throughout the sites. when you put it all together you get troy. It is in this sense that the Iliad becomes a historical fiction. While no one can disprove the characters involved were real people they are more likely a combination of various historical figures throughout time during a war between the greeks and the luwians or Hittites

Good comparison. 

 

The Jesus myth is a little bit of this, a little bit of that. Long story short, the history in historical fiction doesn't make it any less of a fiction...

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Well it might not be much evidence but the son of a Jesus wrote a book.

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wisdom_of_Sirach

 

Yes he was fully Jewish and a couple hundred years before Paul but to me that fits.

In Not the Impossible Fath, Carrier points out that Jesus was a fairly common name then, so that isn't really any evidence. Well, unless you are in the Holy Blood/Holy Grail crowd, but at that point "evidence" doesn't mean a whole lot.

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Well it might not be much evidence but the son of a Jesus wrote a book.

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wisdom_of_Sirach

 

Yes he was fully Jewish and a couple hundred years before Paul but to me that fits.

In Not the Impossible Fath, Carrier points out that Jesus was a fairly common name then, so that isn't really any evidence. Well, unless you are in the Holy Blood/Holy Grail crowd, but at that point "evidence" doesn't mean a whole lot.

 

 

 

Okay maybe that was vague writing on my part.  Sorry.  I'm looking for a source of the legend - that is who made the name popular as a teacher.  But yes the name was as popular then as it is now.  The historical men named Jesus were not much like the myth.  Who is the closest match who existed before Paul?  The ones who lived after Paul are not interesting because they couldn't have inspired Paul.  Even then you are not going to get very close.  There will be a detail or two a real man shared with the mythical figure.  But it might as well be coincidence.  

 

Personally I think the first gospel was intended as fiction and the myth just snowballed from there so I'm not expecting much in common between the inspiration and the result.

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The real question is WHY would an occupying force adopt the religion of a defeated foe circa 70CE?

 

The whole invention of the religion was socio political and needed to pretend it had backing from the Jewish literature. There are enough parallels to other man-gods to dismiss all of it as fantasy.

 

What a great con to sell cosmic real estate for tithes to fill the coffers of Rome? No longer needed to sustain legions of centurions which was frigging expensive. Once you have plundered all their wealth, what better method was there to simply continue to rake in funds by enacting a state religion?

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I like to put it in terms of the battle of troy. was there a city named troy that had Trojans? short answer is no long answer is there were about 3-7 cities that are now dig sites that when combined matched the description in homer's stories. Interestingly enough of the cities discovered the one that had the walls showed no signs of a battle but destruction from natural causes. the other cities show destruction by war with artifacts of spear points and arrow points and swords scattered throughout the sites. when you put it all together you get troy. It is in this sense that the Iliad becomes a historical fiction. While no one can disprove the characters involved were real people they are more likely a combination of various historical figures throughout time during a war between the greeks and the luwians or Hittites

Actually, there was a Troy. The greeks also liked to call it Illios, and the Hittites called it Wilusa. I've read ancient documents mentioning it. That doesn't make the Illiad true, it just means there was in fact a Troy, and it did in fact fall somehow.

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I have found the existence of Troy to be useful whenever a place mentioned in The Bible is found (or supposedly found).

Okay maybe that was vague writing on my part.  Sorry.  I'm looking for a source of the legend - that is who made the name popular as a teacher.  But yes the name was as popular then as it is now.  The historical men named Jesus were not much like the myth.  Who is the closest match who existed before Paul?  The ones who lived after Paul are not interesting because they couldn't have inspired Paul.  Even then you are not going to get very close.  There will be a detail or two a real man shared with the mythical figure.  But it might as well be coincidence.  

A very important part of Carrier's argument is that the Jesus Paul refers to is celestial, ie a vision, and not a physical person. Paul relies on personal revelations direct from God, so no actual Jesus is necessary to account for Paul's teachings. I find it interesting that what Cristianity is really founded on (Paul's teachings) could not have been influenced by Mathew-John as we know them because they did not even exist, and they seem to be the only books that definitly refer to him as a real person (as opposed to celestial).

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I have found the existence of Troy to be useful whenever a place mentioned in The Bible is found (or supposedly found).

Okay maybe that was vague writing on my part.  Sorry.  I'm looking for a source of the legend - that is who made the name popular as a teacher.  But yes the name was as popular then as it is now.  The historical men named Jesus were not much like the myth.  Who is the closest match who existed before Paul?  The ones who lived after Paul are not interesting because they couldn't have inspired Paul.  Even then you are not going to get very close.  There will be a detail or two a real man shared with the mythical figure.  But it might as well be coincidence.  

A very important part of Carrier's argument is that the Jesus Paul refers to is celestial, ie a vision, and not a physical person. Paul relies on personal revelations direct from God, so no actual Jesus is necessary to account for Paul's teachings. I find it interesting that what Cristianity is really founded on (Paul's teachings) could not have been influenced by Mathew-John as we know them because they did not even exist, and they seem to be the only books that definitly refer to him as a real person (as opposed to celestial).

But then again does Matthew see/portray Jesus as not being celestial? The book opens with Jesus being descended from David as a sign that he is king, and the magi following Venus (It's the wandering bright star) to him. And the book makes stories based on old testament ones like the whole Herod story. It doesn't really portray a historical Jesus anymore than the Enuma Elish, which wasn't supposed to be read as the actual creation myth, was supposed to represent a historical creation. It was Enlil that created the world according to that mythology, but Marduk was portrayed as the creator to establish that he was the head of the pantheon in Babylon. It was allegorical. Just like Matthew.

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Now I think we are drifting towards the topic Brother Jeff created... Anywho, I guess it is just more evidence of a cilestial Jesus.

Or at the very least, just a mythological one.

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Whether there was some historical person on whom the Jesus of the NT was based, i neither know nor care. What I do know and what matters to me is that the Jesus as described in the NT never existed. No virgin birth, no miracles, no atoning death, no resurrection, and no ascension. If there was some person who said some really cool things and who served as the model, that's fine by me, but that person was not the Jesus described in the NT. if such a person existed, everything added was myth.

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It might be helpful to keep in mind that the Jesus story only existed in oral form for decade before being preserved in writings. The names Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John were added many years after the oral traditions were put in written form. It is common knowledge there are no eyewitnesses to anything that is written in the gospels.

 

Price, Carrier, Doherty, and other scholars note that a real person would not have been necessary for the stories to take root and expand. The Jesus story and numerous other Pagan God/Men stories, that existed for hundreds of years prior to the Jesus story, have too many similarities and characteristics to be written off as pure coincidence.

 

Paul's writing preceded the gospels by a couple of decades and it seems clear Paul did not envision an earthly Messiah. Myth, composite, or real person it matters not unless Jesus actually was God incarnate and there is no evidence that has been presented that validates that possibility or that even suggests that is true.

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And there is this too:

 

The Pagan Christ: Recovering the Lost Light by Tom Harpur

 

http://www.amazon.com/The-Pagan-Christ-Recovering-Light/dp/0802714498

 

 

There is also a Youtube Video

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Whether there was some historical person on whom the Jesus of the NT was based, i neither know nor care. What I do know and what matters to me is that the Jesus as described in the NT never existed. No virgin birth, no miracles, no atoning death, no resurrection, and no ascension. If there was some person who said some really cool things and who served as the model, that's fine by me, but that person was not the Jesus described in the NT. if such a person existed, everything added was myth.

I don't think that any one can break it down to any one fixed person. Ehrman's tried and basically failed. Everyone who tries fails in the end as far as I know.

 

A composite of say 20 people mixed with all variety of mythological God-men turns out to be no one in the end. 

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Whether there was some historical person on whom the Jesus of the NT was based, i neither know nor care. What I do know and what matters to me is that the Jesus as described in the NT never existed. No virgin birth, no miracles, no atoning death, no resurrection, and no ascension. If there was some person who said some really cool things and who served as the model, that's fine by me, but that person was not the Jesus described in the NT. if such a person existed, everything added was myth.

I don't think that any one can break it down to any one fixed person. Ehrman's tried and basically failed. Everyone who tries fails in the end as far as I know.

 

A composite of say 20 people mixed with all variety of mythological God-men turns out to be no one in the end. 

 

 

 

 

I have to agree here while the jesus myth does not require an actual person per say. a simple un complicated explanation is that early Christians were just cult followers of various apocalyptic rabbi's and they just kept trying to one up other cults of the time to compete for followers. Rome around 0-300 AD had a LOT of different cults and beliefs more so than we do now. So it goes without saying that they borrowed from each other in fact to further support Joshpantera most early Christians cults had nearly completely different beliefs and  this is what prompted a lot of paul's writings to try and unify the many different versions. In fact by the time we get to the Council of Nicaea they had to just chuck huge chunks of what people were believing to get what we have today which lets be honest is still in conflict with itself. A singular jesus cant exist based on this alone.

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Asking "was there a historic Jesus" is not asking if the events in the gospel stories were historic.  It's asking which men named "Jesus" made it into a history and why.  That their lives didn't match the gospel stories is kind of a given.  Okay maybe there were as many as twenty or so in that time period.  I don't think any of the posters here are trying to justify religion.  If anything having multiple men named Jesus mentioned in history would do the opposite.

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