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View on Jesus mythicism?


Wertbag
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What is your view on the arguments put forward by Jesus mythicists? Either that Jesus was a complete fabrication or just that there is so little reliable information that we can know nothing? 

Seems to be reasonable doubt but nothing conclusive. 

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I'm fairly sure that there is someone (or perhaps an amalgamation of people...) on whom the stories are based. It isn't at all a stretch to think that there was an apocalyptic preacher or two running around at that time.

 

Clearly there are elements of the Jesus story that are mythical. I don't personally see any benefit to saying anything more than that. If you wish to insist that Jesus existed as an historical figure, fine. I don't care. In any case, he wasn't born of a virgin, he didn't raise the dead or perform any other miracles, and he did not himself die and then rise again. Once these points are recognized, I'm not sure why I should care whether or not there was an actual historical Jesus. It doesn't affect me in any way.

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From a historical point of view, a historical Jesus existed. This is not the same as saying the bible Jesus existed, in fact we can almost certainly say that the biblical Jesus did not exist.

 

It doesn't matter how many 'witnesses' you have, the claim that Jesus rose from the dead requires far more than witnesses to prove it.

 

In my opinion the view that Jesus is entirely mythical is not founded. It requires too much hoop jumping. I think it more parsimonious to say that there was a real person or persons on whom the stories are based (We can call this person/s Jesus) which stories were then elaborated - the progression of which you can actually see from the earliest writings of Paul, through to the Gospel of John which reads more fan fiction than historical account.

 

This also aligns with what we know of human behavior - we know humans take real people and then make elaborate stories about it. Heck I even do that with my fishing stories. That little fish I caught, but the time I've finished telling the story has grown into a man eating shark I wrestled in the sea - yet the story is based on a real event and real people. That's how I think about Jesus as an historical figure. To me, this is the most likely and best supported explanation.

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The best scholars disagree on the question of whether there was a literal person who started the cult (and I'd add, especially if it actually started as a Gnostic mystery cult).

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The argument that there are no good third party writings about Jesus, while true, is not conclusive of anything as it is rare for paperwork to survive 2000 years.

I think we've seen enough cult leaders who can convince their followers that they are god/Jesus/supernatural that it is completely plausible that a physical Jesus did lead a cult at the time, in which case any reports or writings would be highly biased from his cult followers. 

 

It is surprising just how little information we have about Jesus.  There is the whole missing early to middle of his life and the arguments about the gnostic writings which claim alternative events. 

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2 hours ago, Wertbag said:

 

It is surprising just how little information we have about Jesus.  There is the whole missing early to middle of his life and the arguments about the gnostic writings which claim alternative events. 

 

I found a couple of books about the missing years of jesus.  One says he joined a caravan and went to the east and studied.  Then came back.  His teaching does have an eastern flavor.  The other says he joined the Essenes and studied with them, and that is where he got the "eastern" ideas.  After reading the gnostic views, i decided he probably did exist as a mortal man.

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I have listened and read the arguments from some of the bigger proponents of mythicism, namely Dr. Price and Dr. Carrier. I think some of their arguments are pretty solid, but I am not fully convinced that was the case. In my personal opinion, I am inclined to think there was some historical figure, but there is so much myth and legend wrapped around him, we cannot really say much about who he might have been.

 

When I started to investigate the historical evidence as a believer, and later as a non-believer, I could not believe there were no contemporary writings about him. There were some historians who lived in that area who wrote about all sorts of weird religions, but Christianity never popped up on the radar.

 

Dr. Price has a book called The Christ-Myth Theory and it's Problems. I think it is a good read regardless of where you fall on the argument.

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