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].

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Actually, if you look at the original post, you will see that I actually forbade any debate on the "divinity" of Jesus Christ. I think Bruce is confusing these two different subjects... but in any case, lets all stay out of the "divinity" debate. It is a topic that wil go no where and is unworthy of intellectual discussion because of it's completely bankruptness of any thing resembling evidence. Let's stick to the historicity of Jesus only. ^_^
OK, let's try this:

Bruce thinks that Jesus never existed as a person.

Other people think it's possible he could have existed, but as a person, nothing supernatural.

Who gives a damn? If he *was* a person, he's DEAD. If he never existed, he still existed in stories.

This is just another example of the herd of cats. We all basically believe the same thing - there is no supernatural force, no "magic", no levitation up into heaven, no talking animal (snake or donkey).

Agree to disagree, K?

When I was in college, about 40 years ago, I wrote a paper on the historical Jesus. I had no trouble finding sources for the paper, three of them as I recall. Josephus, was one, but don't recall the others. I don't doubt that Jesus was an historical figure.

Using logic, we have 4 gospel authors that have written what He said, and they don't agree. Then in the Dead Sea scrolls we find Thomas writing about Jesus' sayings that are different again. You might try to argue that all writers had an ancient copy they borrowed from, but since there is no evidence of such a document you would only be guessing.

Please don't let your desire to prove He didn't exist color your evidence, just stick to the facts.


Haven't Josephus and the other one or two sources been widely discredited? Perhaps they let their desire for Jesus to be a real, historical figure color their evidence?
Ah, yes. Here we go.

"Although apologists sometimes bring this up in response to claims that there is no independent verification of the existence of Jesus, Josephus was born around 37 CE, which is after the purported life of Jesus. Thus, Josephus was neither a contemporary nor an eyewitness, but was reporting information received from others. The actual Testimonium Flavianum appears in Antiquities of the Jews which was published c. 94 CE, 60 years after the purported death of Jesus.
Additionally, this passage is largely considered to be a late Christian interpolation. While scholars used to think that the entire passage was a forgery written in the 4th century, they now believe that the Testimonium was based on an authentic core but was embellished by Christian writers. That is, Josephus did write something about Jesus but whatever it was, it was massively embellished by later Christians."
Very true...that is that few people can free themsleves from delusion. However... the only thing required for a person to be an atheist, is to not believe in God. This is the only requirement. An atheist need not hold the opinion that the historical Jesus mentioned in school textbooks [public school textbooks] never existed. All that is required is to not believe that he was god.
The alternative question is: What is a false atheist? Clearly someone who professes to be atheist but isn't. Neither can one (in my view) be slightly atheist (like being slightly pregnant!) either believe there is a god(s) or you don't....period. An agnostic sits on the wire and is unsure of the existence of a god(s)....bit of a cop out actually.

On the historicity of Jesus: whether he existed or not will depend on hard evidence , not what the bible tells us. The same applies to Moses. There is no evidence at all he lived and no evidence in Egypt that he led the exodus. The Egyptians were very advanced in recording their history and nothing is ever mentioned about the 'Prince' who became a murderer and eventually led the Jews out of Egypt...neither is there any evidence that the Pharao's army and self were wiped out by the closing waters of the Red Sea. It's all based on hearsay and thousands of years of oral history.

"In the ancient world, cosmogony was a therapeutic rather than a factual genre. people recited creation myths at a sickbed, at the start of a new project, or at the beginning of a new year---whenever they felt the need for an infusion of the divine potency that had, somehow, brought all things into being" (Armstrong, K. "The Bible ..The biography" London 2007 p 28)

You said:  An agnostic sits on the wire and is unsure of the existence of a god(s)....bit of a cop out actually.

This is not accurate. An agnostic says that we can't know whether a god exists or not. Virtually every atheist and every theist is also an agnostic.


Atheists say that we have a lack of evidence for 'god' and we don't have a belief in god(s). If someone were ever able to present us with genuine proof of deities, we would no longer be 'without belief' but we would jump straight to 'gnostic.'

I was agnostic for most of my life until my near death experience which brought me to believing in a greater conscienceness or creator, nothing like the "God" many worship. So I have no part of the agnostic in me any more. Not to worry, I won't tell you about it.




yes, you claim to "know" which is exactly why the word "agnostic" was created.


Most atheists and theists do not claim to "know" - they claim to believe/not believe

I think this understanding is better than most. It really doesn't matter whether you believe Jesus was real or not, was God or not. The importance of Jesus lies completely in His teachings. It is His teachings that have moved millions of people to know what life is all about. This and this alone is the value He brought to us as a Master Teacher.

'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.''


Quest for the historical Jesus

Traditionally, Western scholars considered the Gospel accounts of Jesus to be authoritative and inspired by God, but, starting in the late 18th century, scholars began to
submit the Gospels to historical scrutiny. From 1744 to 1767,
 Hermann Samuel Reimarus composed a
treatise rejecting miracles and accusing Bible authors of fraud, but did not
publish his findings.[140][141]
 published Reimarus's conclusions in the Wolfenbuettel fragments.[10] D.F.Strauss's biography of
Jesus set Gospel criticism on its modern course.[10]Strauss
explained gospel miracles as natural events misunderstood and misrepresented.[142]
 was the first to portray Jesus simply as a human person.[10] Albrecht
had reservations about this project, but it became central to
 liberal Protestantism in Germany
and to the
 Social Gospel movement in
 protested, arguing that the true Christ is the one preached by the whole
Bible, not a historical hypothesis.[10]
 questioned the historical reliability of Mark.[10] Albert
 showed how
modern histories of Jesus had reflected the historians' bias.[10]
 and Rudolph Bultmann repudiated
the quest for historical Jesus, suppressing any real interest in the topic fromc
 1920 to c 1970.[85] There was a
brief New Quest movement in the 50s.[10]
 The 80s saw
the founding of the controversial
 Jesus Seminar.[144] Today,
historical efforts to construct a biography of Jesus are as strong as ever,
thanks to better knowledge of 1st-century Judaism, a rebirth of Roman Catholic
scholarship, the acceptance of historical methods across denominations,
literary analysis of Jesus' sayings, and sociological insights.[10]


Back in the 18th and 19th century not many scholars accepted that Jesus existed, at all. Today, the majority of scholars do believe He existed.


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