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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Is that reconstructed face from the "Shroud of Tarsus?" Because it is doubtful that that medieval relic is authentic. There were a lot of fake relics showing up in that time.
Oh. Okay. I had just heard a recent story where computer images of the shroud of turin to come out with a "digital reconstruction face" somewhat similar to the one you posted. What shocked me was not the image, but how christians interviewed by the news were surprised that he didn't look like the white guy depicted by michael angello and da vinci... etc... fill in blank with famous european artist. I was just thinking *face palm* Jesus was not a white guy! He lived in the middle east, so it would have been unlikely for him to be of European race.
Great, they found some skulls, slapped some clay on them and called them Jesus. How scientific of them. Let's just ignore the fact that they are random skulls and didn't come from this mythical person.
RAmen Neal!
I must agree with rationalrevolution and atheistexile: there is no good reason to believe in the past existence of a "Jesus" of any kind.

To show that a particular event did in fact happen in the distant past is not easy. One must rely on whatever objective physical remain (pottery, parchment, historical documents...etc...) is still around to be studied, but if there is nothing to go by, as here concerning Jesus, then we have to rely on interepretations and narratives.

These oral traditions simply cannot carry, even in the best of case, the same stamp of authenticity as a full archeological find. Often they amount to hearsay, and in the worse of case, these more dubious sources have been proven to be unreliable beyond any doubts.

So far I really don't see how we could justify a belief in a historical Jesus, founder of Christianism, as there is zero evidence for such a man to have existed but in a book of dubious origins

I have no problem with you if you say that there was a man named Jesus who existed 2000 years ago at the time and place in question. I would even add that "jesus" was a title more than a name, and that hundreds of small religious group, each lead by their own "Jesus", were swarming around in those days.

There was even a certain "Jesus" who, being found guilty of leading a band of robbers, was sentenced to death by the Roman authorities: it is amusing to think that, unlike the mythical Christ, he actually left his historical mark in roman documents, no pun intended.
Yes, but what I'm saying, along the lines of Earl Dougherty says as well, is not just that we don't have evidence of his existence, but rather what I'm saying is that we have a mountain of verifiable positive evidence which indicates that he in fact never existed.

In my view, the case against his existence is overwhelming and pretty much beyond refutation. As far as I'm concerned, its a fact that the "Jesus" of Christianity originated as a mythical heavenly messiah worshiped by a small band of Jews, and then became "histororicized" because someone wrote a fictional allegorical story, using traditional techniques of Jewish midrash, about the destruction of Jerusalem after the war with Rome in 70CE, and this fictional story then became the basis of the belief in a real live Jesus. This story was copied by others and added to, and every single account of this person's "life" stems from this one fictional story, which can be proven to be fiction.

So what I'm saying is that we don't have evidence, I'm saying that we do have lots of very solid evidence, and that evidence shows pretty conclusively that this "person" never existed.
I haven't read any of Dougherty's works and am curious about the "mountain of verifiable positive evidence which indicates that he in fact never existed". It seems to me that real evidence for a mythical Jesus would be pretty earth-shattering . . . but I've never heard of any such evidence. Do you really mean to use the word, "evidence", or do you really mean something like "argument" or "reason"? If you really mean evidence, then what are some examples of this evidence?
Thanks for that link, Doone,

Either Jesus existed as a person or he didn't. Either way, most -- if not all -- the stories of Jesus' life are myths. Jesus the person, if he existed, has been set aside and an idealized version of him has been deified in his place. Whether Jesus existed or not, what we know of him is myth.
Nobody knows for sure.
I've read just about everything Doherty has written and I would disagree strenuously with your assertions. He never describes anything that would even remotely resemble a conspiracy among early Xians (although he joking used that word in a chapter title in one of his books). "Elaborate" processes are not involved either. And he points out (someone else here made this point, too), the theory of an historical Jesus has difficulty explaining a lot of evidence that the mythicist theory doesn't. Ultimately he argues that his theory is a better explanation of the evidence, not that it is at all certain.

I'm looking through the posts here to see if anyone has given an adequate explanation of the mythicist case. So far I don't see one. If no one else has done it, i'll supply my own.
I should've elaborated a little more on my mention of the word "conspiracy" in one of the chapters in Doherty's book. The chapter title was "A Conspiracy of Silence" in which he talks about the fact that the earliest Xian writings make no mention of any events from the life of Jesus. Not that may NT scholars have commented about this curiosity, but those that have have had difficulty coming up with any plausible explanation for this. For example, it has been posited that early Xians "had no interest" in the life of Jesus (if you could believe that!). It's also been speculated that early Xians were afraid to mention Jesus' name because of Roman persecution (despite that there's no evidence for this). It was for this reason that Doherty joked that the theory of the historical Jesus requires the belief in a conspiracy theory.
There are huge problems with using the Talmud as your source for information about (or even evidence for the existence of) Jesus:
1. The Talmud dates to the early 3rd c. at the earliest, and the parts that reference Jesus are much later, from the 5th c. or later.
2. Some characters that are identified with Jesus in the later strata of the Talmud were originally unrelated people in earlier parts.
3. The descriptions of Jesus in the Talmud are often wildly at odds with even the barest sketch of the story we see in the Gospels, to the point that some Talmud stories have him living a century earlier or later than he is traditionally thought to have lived.


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