Before I begin with the Debate topic... let's set some ground rules:

Mods! Please correct anyone who engages in these things! Thanks a bunch! ^_^

1. Theists are welcome to participate, with one important rule - NO PROSTHELYTIZING!!! - In other words... this debate is to strictly be a debate on the historicity of Jesus as a man, ONLY!! DO NOT use this forum to push your ideas of Jesus as the "son of god" or "god himself" ... please leave that to another debate!

2. BE POLITE!! NO TROLLS ALLOWED!! [Atheist trolls are not allowed as well!]

3. Please be respectful when providing a dissenting opinion to another individual.

 

Thank you!

 

Alright... here's the topic.

 

For many years the historicity of Jesus as a man has remained virtually undisputed among historians. However, I have noticed in recent years a rising number of historians [admittedly still a minority] who have expressed doubt that Jesus ever existed at all.

 

What do you all think?

 

[P.S. If you can... please provide evidence and sources for your opinions].

Tags: christ, debate, did, exist, he, historicity, history, intellectual, jesus, not, More…of, or

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Well these are actually quite easy to address, and are all laid out in my articles.

"Who made up the core ideas of the Parables and the Jesus actions in the made up Gospels"

My analysis of the Gospel of Mark shows that the ideas and parables in the Gospel of Mark are all sourced from either the Hebrew scriptures, or the existing letters of Paul. All of the other Gospels simply copied from Mark and expanded on its template, largely by going back to those same Hebrew scriptures.

"Why did these persons attribute the ideas of their created religion to a man who never existed"

Well, prior to the Gospels, there is no evidence of anyone attributing anything to Jesus. That's part of the whole point. In the letters of Paul, the letter to the Hebrews, and other early epistles, not a single writer ascribes any teachings or deeds to Jesus. To all of those writers Jesus is symbolic.

"Why would a group of disciples and the brothers of Jesus claim that a person who did not exist was killed."

Indeed, again, none of this exists prior to the Gospels. Firstly, in the letters of Paul, Paul NEVER says that there are ANY disciples of Jesus, indeed the term disciples never exists in any early Christian writings outside the Gospels. Paul talks about apostles (which means missionaries) of Christ, and Paul says that the apostles of Christ get their teachings from the interpretation of prophecies.

It is only in the Gospels that the "apostles" mentioned by Paul are turned into "disciples" (students) of Jesus. Secondly its clear from early Christina writings that the term "brother of the Lord" or "brothers of the Lord" is a term that is used to refer to anyone who is a follower of the Christ cult, it isn't used to mean literal siblings. There are hundreds of people called "brothers of the Lord" in the early Christian writings.

"After all they have to say "Remember that guy, Jesus who was killed a few years ago""

Indeed, again, that's the whole point. Its clear that in the letters of Paul he wasn't talking about a real person or a real crucifixion, there was no real Jesus to remember and there was no claim o fa "real Jesus" to cause anyone to raise such an issue. Paul even talks about prophecies that "Christ will come to earth", but he never says that "Christ will come BACK to earth", he's talking about a future prospect of the heavenly messiah coming to destroy the world.

When the Gospels come along, its provable that even the crucifixion scene itself is all fabricated and could never have happened. Even many people who support the idea of a historical Jesus acknowledge this. The scene is clearly based on Psalm 22, plus other Hebrew scriptures, and on top of that, its totally not believable that the Jews would have executed anyone during Passover, in fact it was against Jewish law to do so, indeed it was against Jewish law to even hold trials during this time, in fact the way that the arrest and crucifixion of Jesus is written, it basically violates every law there was, which is an intentional narrative element of the story, but its not believable as real history.

So if we know that the crucifixion couldn't have happened during Passover, and that all the details of the event are made up, in every single Gospel, then that begs the question, why didn't anyone do exactly what you said, speak up and say "hey I remember when Jesus was killed, that's not really how it happened".

We don't see that at all, in fact what we see is that there was one account of the story written, The Gospel of Mark, and then every other account is based directly on that one, which could never have happened. So if this really happened than why is every account copied from a clearly fictional account?

"Further, why would the same group of people end up dying for their silly belief when after all they knew Jesus never existed?"

Who are you talking about? Its clear that Paul never knew a real Jesus, he says so in his own letters. Yet Paul we also know was imprisoned for his beliefs and probably killed for them. He was some delusional guy in a cult who believed in eternal life.

Who else do we know about? Are you talking about all of those martyrdom stories written in the 3th-9th centuries? All fabrications.

You have to go back and study all of early Christian history. The fact is that virtually all of it is fabricated. Keep in mind that what happened was thee various writings were produced by unknown people in the 1st century, no much happens with them, then they make their way into the hands of Romans in the early 2nd century, and no one really knows where they came from or what their origins were, nor do they know any of the people talked about in the stories. In typical Roman tradition, they start filling out the pantheon of figures, creating the mythology to fill out the list of characters.

The funny thing is that when you go back and you try to research someone like say "Matthew", the supposed author of the Gospel of Matthew, there are multiple contradictory "biographies" written about him, and about all of these people, and what's clear is that they are all totally fabricated, and of course they all result in some weird and twisted death of the subject.

Firstly all of these stories, and there is an account for every single person named in each of the Gospels, even if their name was only mentioned one time, involves copious amounts of magic and miracles. For example, the account of the supposed crucifixion of Peter starts off with a talking dog, and then we have a Harry Potter style show down between Peter and a guy named Simon, then Peter is captured and Jesus comes back to earth and Peter talks to him, etc., then Jesus goes back up into the clouds, then Peter requests that if the Romans are going to crucify him, that it has to be up side down so as not to be compared to Jesus.

Dude, this is all total fiction. Every other story goes the same way, they all involve people going around performing miracles, fighting with spirits, engaging in heroic deeds, etc., they are all patterned on a mix of the Gospel stories and existing pagan mythology. You have stories of saints patterned on the Roman god and heroes, doing the same types of tasks as other heroes, etc. and in every single case, the story ends with the martyrdom of the main character. Why? Obviously because they are all patterned on the Gospel story. Its a religion of martyrdom, where every figure has to be cast as a martyr.

Now, there were real martyrs, most of thee came in the 3rd and 4th century, and there were actually VERY few of them. The stories of thousand of people being killed, and Christians being fed to lions, etc., that's all made up fiction, in fact some of it wasn't even made up until much, MUCH later, the 9th century and beyond, some of the martyrdom stories were even made up as late as the 17th century.

So "why would these people die for someone who didn't exist" is simply a misguided question. #1 plenty of people die for religious beliefs all the times for things that aren't real, its called delusion. #2 most of the stories about martyrs and about the so-called disciples are completely fabricated in the first place.
My explanation of events is actually not complex at all, if you understand the history. Indeed its actually much more simple and straight forward than the arguments for a historical Jesus.

In order to make a legitimate argument for the historical Jesus you have to account for a lot of of stuff. Most people don't account for this stuff, they just gloss over it. The glossing over is what makes many arguments "simple", but they are simple in the same way that the account of creation is simple.

Any explanation can be simple if it doesn't account for the facts.

For example, most "historical Jesus" claims don't account for how it would be that all of the accounts of the deeds and death of Jesus would be based on a single, clearly fictional account, if there was actually some real Jesus with a real story to have been told.

Why does every account of the crucifixion say that the Romans gambled for Jesus' clothes, when its obvious that this is a literary allusion to Psalm 22, and not something that really could have happened?

In order for everyone to include that clearly fictional detail, it means that not only is every account of the crucifixion copied from one story (The Gospel of Mark), but it also means that no one else who we have any record of, had any contradictory account. If no one made record of any contradictory account, and the only account we have is a fictional account, how can that be explained?

The only accepted account of the crucifixion is clearly fictional, and not just slightly fictional, but fictional by a mile, since its not even believable that it would have happened during Passover.

Not only that, but in the Letter to the Hebrews, likely written before the Gospels, Jesus is described as a Yom-Kippur sacrifice.

So we have one account describing Jesus as a Yom-Kippur sacrifice and another describing him as a Passover sacrifice. These are both atonement holidays. He's being described in symbolic fashion both times.

Again, how can that be.

The better question is, if we take the view of those like J.P. Meier (Catholic historical Jesus scholar) that Jesus was a "marginal Jew", who didn't perform miracles and didn't actually rise from the grave, then how did someone who was just some teacher who was crucified and died, along with thousands of other Jews who suffered this same fate around this time, so quickly become worshiped as the "son of god" and as someone who had risen from the grave.

If you take the historical view then you have to acknowledge that there was no real resurrection and no real miracles, so that being the case, why does Jesus first show up in Paul's writings as some heavenly power, about whom there are prophecies he will come to earth and destroy the world and resurrect the dead and create eternal life? How does some humble non-magical, non-resurrected person become that?

Furthermore, unless you study pre-"Christian" Jewish writings and theology you wouldn't know that there were ALREADY existing stories about heavenly messiahs, who are killed in the heavens, and who are destined to come to earth to destroy the material world and create a new perfect world. Those stories already existed for a couple hundred years before the whole "Jesus" cult came along.

The Jesus of Paul is clearly one of these heavenly messiah figures from Jewish tradition. Its a tradition not found in the "Old Testament" because most of these stories were written within 200 years of the rise o the Jesus cult, and they were all written in Greek (just like the Gospels), which is why they aren't in the official Jewish scriptures, and thus most people aren't aware of them.

The Gospel of Mark is part of a literary tradition that had been in place for a couple hundred years, it is very much like a dozen or so other stories that came before it, the only difference is that instead of the main character being Isaiah, or Enoch, or someone else, its Jesus, and its cast in what was at that time recent history instead of a more distant past, but other than that it follows all the same motifs.

That Jesus really exists only sounds like a simple explanation if you don't know any of the details and don't have to take into account any of the details.

Another perfect example is the issue of Jesus' tomb.

To quote from my own article:
http://www.rationalrevolution.net/articles/jesus_myth_history.htm#12

"It is interesting that so much effort goes into defending the claim of the "empty tomb" of Jesus that appears in the ending scenes of the Gospels, yet there is nothing in any of the writings that precede the Gospels that makes any mention of either an "empty tomb" or any burial site or even a crucifixion site. Would Paul have said nothing about the site of Jesus' burial? Would Paul not have mentioned a visit to Golgotha, the location of Jesus' crucifixion?

It's not just Paul, but indeed there is no evidence of any veneration of any locations that are associated with Jesus in the Gospels until after the Gospels were circulated. Most importantly, though, we find no evidence of any veneration of the supposed tomb of Christ, which to this day remains an unknown and unidentifiable locale.

In Beyond Resurrection, New Testament scholar Alexander. J. M. Wedderburn attempts to find evidence for the resurrection of Jesus and the "empty tomb". He concludes that no such evidence exists and that Christians have to remain agnostic as to the historical reality of this event and continue to take it on faith. As a part of his investigation into the matter, Wedderburn addresses the fact that we have no evidence of a veneration of the tomb of Jesus following his supposed death. He considers the possibility that early believers would simply not have cared about this site, but noting that the site of the "empty tomb" would have been seen as the site of the resurrection he asks, "Was that not in itself reason enough to note and remember and cherish the site, regardless of whether it contained Jesus' remains or not?"

This is certainly a significant issue. If Jesus were a real but mortal person, and the Gospels are based on his real life, then we should expect that there would have been some knowledge of his real death and his real burial, yet we find no evidence of this. The earliest alternative stories that we find about what happened to Jesus after the crucifixion didn't come along until centuries after the Gospels were written. In effect, these are nothing more than late developing legends that themselves have no connection to history, they are just alternative explanations that seek to explain away the so-called resurrection.

If, on the other hand, Jesus really was divine and really was resurrected, and the Gospels accurately portray the events of his death and resurrection, then we should still expect to find some continuous line of veneration of the site of his burial and resurrection, but again we do not.

Certainly people would have been interested in visiting this empty tomb. Certainly at least Paul would have mentioned it. After all, later Christians were highly interested in trying to locate this supposed tomb, just as they have been interested in locating his supposed place of birth, the hill upon which he was crucified, and many other things, but we cannot honestly point to any of these locations.

Indeed it is ironic that Christian apologists have tried to use the fact that there is no evidence for veneration of a tomb of Jesus to "prove" the "truth" of the resurrection. They argue that the lack of veneration proves that there was no body to venerate, thus, he had to have been resurrected, but all this pre-supposes that there was an actual Jesus to being with, and that he was really crucified and buried in a manner according to the Gospels. For these apologists Jesus definitely existed and was killed, so therefore the only explanation for the lack of veneration of his burial site is that he was resurrected and thus was no longer there.

But as Wedderburn noted, even an empty tomb would have been venerated if what the Gospels say is in any way historical.

By far, the better explanation for why there was no veneration is that there was no Jesus to venerate."

Once again, the simple explanation is actually that Jesus never existed.

Arguing that Jesus did exist, and was resurrected still requires explaining away the fact that Jesus tomb was never venerated. In order to do that you have to argue that, despite a strong interest in where his tomb supposed was by later 2nd century converts, those that witnessed the resurrection couldn't have cared less about venerating the site of the resurrection.

If you take the "human Jesus" approach, then you have to explain how the real tomb of this person who was worshiped as a god shortly after his death was never venerated or marked in any way, even by potential followers who didn't worship him as a god, but still revered him as a great person, etc.

So somehow, either way, whether he was resurrected or not, the fact would remain that the tomb of Jesus was totally forgotten and unknown shortly after his death.

This just doesn't sound likely at all. The better explanation is that there was no Jesus and there was no crucifixion or tomb. These are all fictional story elements, that were later believed to be true by people roughly 100 years after the setting of the story. When those people who believed this 100 years later went looking for this tomb there was nothing to find, because there was no such tomb.

It would be like someone seeing Broke Back Mountain and thinking that there was a real Broke Back Mountain in MT and going to look for it. Well there is no BBM in MT, and the movie was filmed in Canada, so there is no BBM to find in MT, but its not unreasonable to someone who saw the movie would think that there was a real BBM in MT.
@doone,

"1. Who made up the core ideas of the Parables and the Jesus actions in the made up Gospels"

The parables were probably invented over a period of time by a number of different people, not all of them Xians. Many of the parables make reference to Jesus' death, the passing of the focus of Xianity from the Jews to the Gentiles, and even the destruction of Jerusalem, so these were certainly written after Jesus' death, if he had lived. Some parables are very similar to stories we find in Jewish writings from that time period as well.

It is also significant that there are no parables (or any mention of Jesus having taught in parables) in any Xian writings before the Gospels. How can you explain this if this was his distinctive style?

There are also no mentions in any Xian writing before the 2nd c. of any of Jesus' actions as found in the Gospels. Why would all this tradition have been ignored or lost before the circulation of the Gospels so many decades after his death? What was the early Xians' religion based on?

"2. Why did these persons attribute the ideas of their created religion to a man who never existed"

They didn't attribute their religion to a recently lived man. They attributed their religion to a Son of God who lived in heaven and communicated to them via revelations and messages in the OT scriptures.

'3. Why would a group of disciples and the brothers of Jesus claim that a person who did not exist was killed. After all they have to say "Remember that guy, Jesus who was killed a few years ago." '

We have no writings from any of his disciples, but the writings we do have from early Xians, such as Paul, make no such claims. Never do they mention any historical memory of Jesus. The question to ask is really the reverse: If Jesus was an historical person, why doesn't any early Xian remember anything about that guy who was killed a few years earlier, other than the "facts" that he was the Messiah, the Son of God, and the pre-existing creator and sustainer of the Universe, who was crucified by demons?

"4. Further, why would the same group of people end up dying for their silly belief when after all they knew Jesus never existed?"

This assumes that we had a group of people who claimed such a belief. There's no evidence for this. Instead, we have this:

a. The only members of the list of disciples in the Gospels for which we have solid evidence that they existed are Peter, James (at least one of them), and John. We know the most about Paul, who never met Jesus.

b. We know almost nothing about the deaths of these early apostles. We know that Paul and Peter were martyred, but not the circumstances. James' death may have been narrated by Josephus, if he was really talking about the same James (it was an extremely common Jewish name). There's also a mention of the death of a different James in Acts, which itself is a late document of questionable accuracy. There's no tradition about the death of John.

c. We don't know why these apostles were killed. It may not even had had anything to do with them being Xians. For example, Josephus mentions the death of a James (usually assumed to the the "brother of the Lord") and yet he says nothing about him being a Xian.

d. Lots of people throughout history have been willing to die for their religious beliefs, including plenty of Muslim suicide bombers. Many Xians have been willing to die for their beliefs, despite the fact that they have never met Jesus or have any direct evidence about him. It's pretty clear that the early Xians were religious fanatics - they might've been willing to die for almost anything.

e. We have no evidence (from their writings) that the early Xians believed that Jesus was a recently lived person. They believed in a divine entity Jesus Christ, the same way other people believed/believe in Yahweh, Allah, Zeus, Osiris, etc.
Here is part of an e-mail reply that I sent to someone who recently contacted me from my website, which may be instructive for this discussion:

Original question:

Your articles on Jesus and the book of Mark are very well argued and fascinating. I am someone who has been schooled in the Jesus Seminar perspective and have also read, for example, Meier, Neusner, Ehrman, Crossan (as separate from Jesus Seminar), Sanders, Vermes, Spong, Armstrong and, in particular, Richard Horsley.

I’d like to know what you make of Horsley’s theory’s of Jesus against empire as written about in his books titled, Jesus and Empire, Jesus and the Spiral of Violence, Bandits, Prophets and Messiahs and The Message and the Kingdom. In Jesus and Empire Horsley makes the case (using the gospel of Mark) that Jesus was seeking to reform rural Jewish communities, calling them back to their covenantal roots – and also taking a stand against Roman oppression and Jewish (in particular Sadducean) collusion with empire.

Crossan’s, God and Empire and In Search of Paul reflect the notion that Paul called Jesus “Son of God” in defiance of Augustus (divi filius) and the way of all worldly empires.

Certainly various disenfranchised groups (African-American slaves in the south, base communities in South America) have found a message for the poor and the oppressed with the pages of Bible.

Can the gospels be viewed as a stand against oppression and as allegory and myth too?

Additional followup:

You write, “The most significant aspect of the Gospel of Mark, and what makes the Gospel of Mark capable of being analyzed and understood as clearly something other than history, is the extensive use of literary allusions to the Hebrew scriptures. It is the extensive use of literary allusion in the Gospel of Mark that set a standard for the other Gospels and later became interpreted as "prophecy fulfillment." What we will see as we compare the Gospel of Mark to the Hebrew scriptures, however, is that the parallels between the Gospel of Mark and the Hebrew scriptures are not instances of "prophecy fulfillment", they are instances of literary allusion.”

Crossan and others posit that the death of their human leader, Jesus, so shocked his disciples and followers that afterward, they combed the scriptures in order to try and make sense of why their leader had been taken from them. Crossan thinks that they made use of the scriptures after the fact in proper midrashic fashion.

In your opinion, is that a possibility?

My Reply:

I don't find the notion of "Jesus vs the empire" persuasive at all, certainly not from the Gospel of Mark. I think that this notion is a popular notion among people who like to see their own political ideas reflected in the Gospels.

I have not read their works in particular, but I'm familiar with many of the general points of such views.

Indeed, I think that the Gospel of Mark in particular is quite pro-Roman empire. I see it as a polemic against the Judean Jews. Clearly Pilate is portrayed favorably in the story, and as I point out, the only person who recognizes Jesus as the "son of god" is a Roman soldier. The parable of the wicked tenets is a very clear summary of the theme of the story in my opinion.

"He will come and destroy the tenants and give the vineyard to others."

Pretty clear message there, and as I say I view this as a narrative foreshadowing of the event which readers would have already known had happened, the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans. This story endorses that destruction and backs the Roman side of the events.

I don't view Paul as any kind of anti-Roman either, he certainly wasn't a Jewish nationalist. At a time when clearly the main leadership of the cult was Jewish nationalist, Paul defied the nationalists and proselytized to the Greeks and Romans. Paul in fact spoke out against the majority of the Jewish community in his letter to the Romans, basically calling them out as deserving of blame for the friction between themselves and the gentiles, and for not following his message of a unifying messiah.

So, I think all of this talk about Jesus and Paul being "anti-empire" has always just been an attempt to fit the story into a popular modern narrative, which is especially common among Americans with the American history of rebellion against the British Empire.

I think that clearly there is much in Jewish history and Jewish mythology, which speaks out against oppression. The reality is that the ancient Jews were a largely oppressed people, surrounded by powerful empires, who frequently dominated them. That's why the "old testament" is filled with stories about the Jewish god bringing wrath down upon the Jewish people, and why so many of the Jewish scriptures are so self-critical, because they viewed their god as a director of events on earth, and clearly the events on earth were not favorable toward them, so they believed that they must have been constantly making their god angry, so he was constantly punishing them.

The Gospel of Mark just follows that same old Jewish tradition, in how it deals with the war with Rome and the destruction of Jerusalem. The Gospel of Mark takes the traditional Jewish tact of self-blame and self-criticism, to blame the Jews for the problems that they faced. Its a theme repeated dozens of times in the "old testament". Pretty much every time the Jews were conquered someone wrote a story about how the priesthood or some other group did things that displeased their god and thus god punished them by whatever calamity had just befallen them.

As for Crossan, whom I have read, he tries to do what every "scholarly" Christian apologist tries to do, which is draw a line from point A to point B, where point B is predefined as their present day view of Jesus. What he does is he starts out with his answer and tries to figure out how to get from the data to his assumption.

What I did was I simply started out with the data and went where it led.

First of all, there is no "they". All we have to go on is the Gospel of Mark. Everything else is clearly derived from it and all of the later writers clearly just followed the lead of the first story, so there is no evidence of a "collective" process of authorship.

So, if we simply look at the Gospel of Mark, how can we make sense of it?

My research into this started with analysis of what Christians called "prophecy fulfillment". That firstly led to the clear and obvious and already documented cases of textual dependence on the Hebrew scriptures, such as Psalm 22. But I went farther and found many new cases of scriptural dependence, such as the case of the scene with the cursing of the fig tree and the disruption at the temple.

After amassing a significant number of these relationships, clear patterns emerged. Most of the passages referred to Hebrew scriptures that talked about condemnation of the Jews and about god bringing destruction upon the Jews. This is what lead me to conclude that these references had meaning and that understanding the story required understanding these references. Clearly, the story was about the destruction of Jerusalem, as most of the referenced passages related to that theme.

Now, when you talk about ideas like the notion that the Gospel narrative is a collection of recollections about the life and deeds of Jesus as part of some collective oral tradition, this notion really doesn't hold up under the weight of the facts about the use of literary allusions and how the story is written.

The Gospel of Mark makes multiple uses of foreshadowing. The Gospel of Mark has a sophisticated plot line and use of irony and symbolism, that simply is not reasonable to believe would be a product of a general retelling of events.

For example, John the Baptist is introduced using a literary allusion that referrers to Elijah, which foreshadows the fate of John the Baptist in the story, and the events of the Transfiguration. In the transfiguration scene Peter says that the scriptures say that Elijah is supposed to come before the rising from the grave of the Son of Man, and Jesus says that Elijah has come, which you can only figure out what this means if you understand the relationship between Mark 1:6 (Now John was clothed with camel's hair, with a leather belt around his waist) and 2 Kings 1:8, which describes Elijah as wearing " camel's hair, with a leather belt around his waist".

This type of stuff is all way to complicated to be a product of some collective oral tradition.

The only way to come up with these types of complexities is for a single author to sit down and develop a complex story line from scratch based on nothing but their own imagination. These aren't the types of things that just accidentally fall into place.

Its not just a matter of the crucifixion scene being based on a scripture, its a matter of the fact that MOST of the scenes are directly based on scriptures, in ways that its clear that whoever was writing the Gospel of Mark wasn't just recoding some oral tradition, he actually had the Hebrew scriptures in hand, and he was crafting his story based on the Hebrew scriptures.

And not only that, but as I say, you can then clearly go through the other Gospels and get a very good idea of how they treated the Gospel of Mark. You can see where the writers of the later Gospels were aware of the scriptural dependences and where they weren't. For example the triumphal entry scene in Matthew clearly shows that the author was aware of the scriptural dependence and so he directly quotes from the alluded to texts and then grabs some more text from the same passage and uses it to add to the narrative.

Then when it comes to the cursing of the fig tree and the disruption at the temple, he clearly didn't make the connection, so he re-ordered the passages to try and make them make more logical sense, but he did that because he failed to get the scriptural references, because the way he rewords the scene, the scriptural references are lost.

It's all quite fascinating really.

Anyway, hope that answers some of your questions.
Absolutely fascinating, RR. You are right on target. Hundreds of 'gospels' were written to create a Jesus mythology. Only a handful made it into the modern bible because they were so obviously fraudulent. If Jesus were a real person there would have been no need to fabricate his life.

Are Adam and Eve based on historical figures? Noah? Moses? This is Jewish mythology.
Hey, Donne,

You're a tenacious person. I'll give you that. I may have missed it, but have you offered any proof that Jesus was real? I'm sure you're aware of all the pagan myths that existed thousands of years before Christianity and which were incorporated into the Jesus myth. But what puzzles me is why you see earlier personnages like Adam, Eve, Noah as myth but not Jesus. What is it that makes you believe he existed--that he isn't just a composite of numerous fictional characters from pagan myth?

And I scratch my head when you try to pass Moses off as a Pharaoh. You seem willing to believe the most outlandish theories while discounting voluminous facts to the contrary. Are you by any chance playing devil's advocate? I notice that when RR gives you very scholarly assessments your rebuttals take the form of unsubstantiated opinion. That is disingenuous and nonproductive.
Well, we know O' Joe Smith started the Mormon religion; and Ron L. Hubbard, Scientology; and Mary Baker Eddy, Christian Science, etc., so your thesis has some precedence, but these founders didn't claim divinity or supernatural abilities to my knowledge.

When it comes to the bible, there are way to many pagan myths that are obvious steals by the church fathers: the virgin birth; a son of a god; someone rising from the dead, etc.

As for Moses. There is no historical record that the dude lived--but plenty that he didn't. And I tend to go with the facts until proven otherwise.

One can argue that Jesus or Moses, etc. were based on real individuals, but all the factual evidence points to them being composites of mythical persons or a combination of numerous individuals who lived--or they were completely made up--but not real individuals--simply because there is absolutely no record of such persons anywhere, which there would have to be if they had any existence at all, considering how spectacular the bible claims them to have been.

For example. There is no evidence that the Exodus occurred. And if it didn't where does that leave Moses--a phantom leading phantoms.

. http://www.anatheist.net/articles/the-bible-history/the-bible-histo...

"Another part of the stories which is best understood as as mainly mythological, are the plagues that inflicted upon Egypt when Pharaoh denied the Israelis the right to leave the country. First, there is no independent historical evidence of this (and the plagues were so hard that they never would have come unrecorded).

In presenting the history of the exodus, the transmitters of the story can have invented a character to whom many of the roles of other, and forgotten, characters have been attributed. The hero character is a better and clearer figure than the complexity of the will of the people and the different leaders, as well as clearer than the complexity of economic, political and sociological factors."


http://i-cias.com/e.o/moses.htm

All of this is fascinating, but in the end we are dueling over something that cannot be proven 100% either way. It's interesting to speculate though.
Yes, you most definitely can start a religion without a basis in a real person. Or are you saying that, zeus, osiris, oden, thor, quetzalcoatl, and the THOUSANDS of gods and god-men that humans have made up to compensate for their ignorance are all based upon real people? Your logic and assumption is flawed and does not take into account the human capacity to create fiction and turn it into religion. There is no conspiracy required to create a fictional character and make up a religion around it. It has been done thousands and thousands of time throughout human history and will most probably happen again without a real person to base that new mythology upon either. You are just choosing to give Jesus a pass because he is a part of current mythology rather than a dead religion and that's a poor excuse. If you are claiming that religion is anything more than lies that are accepted as truth by people, you are deluding yourself.
I agree that the timing of Paul's conversion and epistles (just a few years after Jesus' alleged death), makes it seem unlikely that Jesus was fabricated from whole cloth . . . but not impossible.

The simplest explanation assumes that Jesus actually existed.
The assumption that both you and doone are making here is that Paul (and other early Xians) believed that Jesus was a recently lived person. The mythicist argument is that that is not so. According to this theory, no Xian thought Jesus had lived during the time of Pilate until the late 1st c. or early 2nd c.
I can't seem to be able to reply directly to doone's last post (which was a reply to mine), so I'm replying here.

In Galatians, where Paul says that he met only Peter and "James, the brother of the Lord," and also in 1 Cor 9:5 where Paul says, "Cephas and the brothers of the Lord," there are the only places in the whole pre-Gospel Xian record where we have what at first blush seems to be something that would require Jesus to have been a recently lived (from Paul's perspective) person.

But note that Paul uses the word "brother(s)" dozens of times throughout his writings, as do other writers of NT epistles, and in all other contexts it always means other male members of the religion. He uses "sister" in the same way (for female members). In fact, twice in Hebrews (in 2:11 and 2:12), the heavenly Jesus is said to call his believers his "brothers."

Moreover, Paul refers to "brothers of the Lord," he doesn't use the name Jesus. This could have been the (self-)designation of a group of believers; "Lord" may even mean God in this context and not Jesus, as "Lord" was used to refer to God in the OT before Xianity co-opted the word. Certainly nothing else Paul says about James would lead one to conclude that he was Jesus' actual brother. Also, Paul elsewhere (in Philippeans 1:14) uses the phrase "brothers in the Lord."

And finally, in Gal 1:19 it may have been an interpolation - it would be natural for a later Xian to add the qualifier "brother of the Lord" to distinguish which James Paul was talking about, but I don't think that this is the best explanation. Rather, it seems more likely that the idea that James was Jesus' brother actually arose from this line in Galatians.

And keep in mind - this is the strongest point against the mythicist case with regards to the NT epistles.
Sorry to break the news to you, but there is absolutely no difference between Jesus and any other mythical creature. They are ALL myths. There is exactly as much historical and written evidence for Hercules as there is for Jesus, so using your flawed logic, Hercules must have been real. But back in reality where most of us live, myth is myth no matter how much apologetics you apply to it. Jesus is a poorly plagiarized version of dozens of other god-men before him. There is absolutely nothing new in his story, nothing historical to support that he lived and nothing rational to continue feeding this cycle of ignorance. Grow up. Jesus and god are nothing more than Santa for adults.

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