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.
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].
I guess by the standard of a gospel being a "narrative" you could consider the Toldoth Yeshu to be a gospel... right?
I did find the Jesus portrayed in the Sepher Toldoth Yeshu as vastly different a character than the traditional Jesus of the gospels.
Although, in some ways [perhaps because I have read the 4 gospels so much that I can't find them interesting anymore] the Toldoth Yeshu seemed even more interesting than the traditional gospels. Although the Toldoth Yeshu is DEFINITELY NOT CREDIBLE! In fact it is as useless as a "historical document" as are the four gospels.
It is highly fascinating though.
The Jesus [called "Yeshu/ Jeshu" in the text] of the Toldoth is not the noble pious prophet of the gospels, but an arrogant, attention-hungry, trickster who fools the people into believing him the son of god and finds a tragic end as he is revealed as a fraud. Maybe the reason this is more interesting to me is because the Jesus of the Toldoth is a classic "tragic hero" who is brought down [like all tragic heros of fiction] by his own major character flaw.
The story is long, and has only recently been revealed to laypeople [because in the past the few clergy who knew of the Toldoth also knew of it's potential to cause pogroms as it is supposedly a "Jewish Criticism of Jesus and Christianity."]
The story is just as fantastical as the gospels... but has more "human" characters.
Miriam [Mary] who is raped by a criminal [or in some versions of the story - a Roman soldier] named Joseph Panthera [Panther]... and gives birth to a son who is applied the shameful label of "Jeshu" by the Jewish authorities who recognize him as "the child of an adultress."
Even as a child, the Toldoth shows Jesus as an impertinant, angry boy who [for example] refuses to cover his head [as is proper] in the presence of the Jewish elders.
The tragic flaw of this Jesus is his hunger for power and attention and his anger and bitterness. He seals his fate when he discovers the power of the unmentionable name of God in the temple of Jerusalem [YHWH]. By uttering this name he performs miracles with the magical utterance and proclaims himself the "son of a virgin and a god" [quote: "Who are these bad men who report me to be a bastard and of impure birth? They are themselves bastards and impure. Did not a virgin bear me? Did not my mother conceive me in the top of her head? Indeed I am the son of a God, and concerning me the prophet Esais spoke saying, 'Behold a virgin shall conceive, etc.'" - Jeshu Ch. 1 verses 46 - 48 of the Toldoth - English Translation]
Jeshu claims himself to be the son of YHWH and convinces even King Alexander Janiaeus' wife, the Queen that he is by doing many of the same type of miracles described in the Bible. But his power in the story comes only from the name of God... and when he forgets it because the parchment he wrote it on is stolen by his enemy, Judas, he loses his power and is executed as a blasphemer. [Not on a cross... he is stoned and then his body is hung from a branch of a cabbage plant and buried under the part of the street where he was stoned.]
Quite an interesting piece of fiction... and I guess it could be considered a gospel. *thoughtful*
When you talked about the old testament allusions and allegorical fiction it reminded me of this:
The real question, Nelson, is WHO WAS the "historical Jesus?" Can he be separated from all the woo-woo that surrounds him in the few documents that mention him in an early enough time frame to be AT ALL credible? Can we know this historical Jesus? Or is he lost to time?
In "The Jesus the Jews Never Knew" Zindler makes the ironic observation that the Christians may have destroyed the historical Jesus in their quest to solidify the mythical one.