Hello Fellow Atheists: So here's a question. It's been bothering me for some time now and I just want to get your perspectives. When I first became a believer I was handed the book "The Case for Christ" by Lee Strobel. I read it and at the time it made sense to me. I didn't question it much at the time. Now that I am an Atheist I'm curious what others think about it. There are only three options given in this book. Jesus was either a liar, a lunatic, or the true son of God. Of course I know some of you believe that he never existed at all, (I do not). So I want to explore this further. 

Which is it? 

Or

Is it none of the above?

Why? (back yourself up with evidence)...

I hope this discussion can be educational in nature for those of us who are still learning. Thanks!

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All I know for certain is that at the end of Hebrews, in my KJV, is a note saying, "Written to the Hebrews from Italy by Timothy."

I also have a note at the beginning, in my own handwriting, that I clearly made so long ago that I no longer recall it's source, saying, "Author Unknown." But I'd be willing to bet that if I took the time, which I don't really have, to hunt down the source, it very likely would be either Bart Ehrman or Richard Friedman.

For our purposes, it's a moot point, as if it were Timothy, as the KJV claims, he never met Yeshua and therefore has no evidence to contribute, or the author is in fact unknown, as my other source implies, in which case, he credibility can't be verified.

According to The New American Bible (the Catholic version), between the 2nd and the 16th centuries, the author was assumed to have been Paul, but several things have caused that view to change, style of writing being one of them. Now it is speculated that it could have been one of Paul's circle, among those, Apollos, Barnabas, Prisca or Aquila, but to date, the author is considered by them to be unknown. And for our purposes, not only can't claim verifiable credibility or first-hand knowledge of Yeshua.

As I recall, only one NT book even attempts a 'first hand' account, although even the Catholics no longer recognize it as one.  I can't remember which one it was, however.  I was just curious as to why you attributed Hebrews to Timothy.

(edit: Epistles of Peter were at one time considered to be written by the apostle himself although are generally no longer so ascribed)

'Cause the Bible said so, and if you can't believe the Bible, where would we be? Oh yeah, here --

Hebrews "Author Unknown" would be Ehrman.  Unless both said it, but Friedman tends to be more Old Testament.

I pick option #4.  Not Nelson's, but mine: Jesus never existed.

Actually Dale, Belle suggested a video on one of the earlier pages (5 I think), which I finally had time to watch, with Christopher Hitchens, who made a very valid point for the actual existence of Yeshua. The writers of the gospels went to a great deal of effort to fabricate a story about a Roman census, in order to create a story that would conform to the prophecy in Isiah, saying that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem, when actually, Yeshua, if he ever existed, would have been born in his hometown of Nazareth.

Had he NOT existed, it would have been far easier to simply write that he had been born in Bethlehem, as predicted, rather than to have concocted the story about a census, to get him there.

I thought that was a very valid point. Of course that doesn't mean he performed miracles or was the son of god or anything of the kind, but it does at least leave open the possibility that he may have existed.

Which, for me at least, the more I think about it, raises other questions that I would like to kick around.

The first gospel, the Gospel Of Mark, wasn't written until around 70 CE, with Matthew being published two or three years later - we know this, because the Great Temple had been destroyed by the Romans by this time. And if Yeshua was executed around 30 BCE, that leaves a 40+-year gap, which means that no one with any real recollection of him would likely have still been alive, and since no records of him, to the best of our knowledge, were kept, why, even if he existed, was it important to take him back to Galilee? Why couldn't he have just been raised in Bethlehem? In other words, why stick to the facts, if any actually existed by that time other than second- and third-hand stories, when a totally fabricated tale would have worked more smoothly? In other words, why bother with just a partial lie?

I don't have an answer, I simply find it puzzling and worth greater thought.

My understanding of this is that the writing of the gospels were initiated when they realized that Jesus wasn't 'coming right back' and those with first hand knowledge were all dying off.  By this time, many 'adjustments' had already been added to the oral tradition in order to get it to line up with prophecy and history as best as they were understood by fading memories and a culture that was no longer strongly familiar with Jewish customs.

So they knew where Jesus was 'from' and where he taught, and had long before developed the 'tradition' that he had been born in Bethlehem - as well as other stories picking up greater and greater similarities with the relevant prophecies/old testament narratives.

RE: "Remember that the Bible was translated and preserved by men who did it for a living and took their job very seriously." - in the absence of printing presses, it was also copied by scribes who not only inadvertently made errors, but who often changed the words of the original writers deliberately, to suit their own agendas. Do you know which is which, many scholars are still debating the subject, so if you have an inside track, maybe you should share that with us.

Read about the Gnostics and about the Adoptionists, and yet other groups who decided early on that Yeshua was god in the flesh - which group did which scribe belong to? Can you say? Which versions finally survived the transcription wars?

For example, try I Corinthians, 10, where Paul tries to claim that Yeshua overthrew the disobedient among Moses' flock in the Sinai wilderness, and since there were two stories of Moses being commanded to strike a rock to obtain water for his people - easily explained by the J and E Sources accepted now by nearly all reputable biblical scholars, including the Catholic Church - Paul, not having learned enough Hebrew history to understand the reason for the two stories, maintains in I Cor., 10:4, that the rock in question was actually Yeshua disguised as a rock, and who followed the Israelites (can't you just see that rock, slinking along the ground, hiding behind sand dunes?), so as to be available for a second striking.

Learn more, then we may have something to discuss.

The point I'm making, Belle, is that it's totally irrelevant whether or not an penniless preacher actually wandered around the area of Galilee, accepting handouts and free lodging from those who wanted to live forever, and sleeping on the ground, eating free fruit from trees he passed or grain from farmer's fields, when he couldn't find anyone to take him in, and eventually getting himself executed by being in the wrong place at the wrong time, the Yeshua of the New Testament, the Christ, is totally a construct, a fabrication of legends built atop legends and have little relationship with reality, and the farther one goes from the time he was alleged to have died, the greater the legends grow.

Actually it's the point Ehrman tries to make when he dicusses the criterion of dissimilarity, whiich is where I got it from, and I think I pointed it out to you a couple of weeks ago.  Now it turns out there's a Hitchens video making the same point?  Cool!

Question is did he even exist?

I am not sure I can say he did based on historical data

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