I can’t find any that could possibly be considered creditable.
I don’t see any either. The biblical narrative is preposterous on its face, the Son of God just getting lost for thirty years, then reappearing and getting lost again after being crucified and the earth trembles . . . but that’s a knock-off. I’m no scholar of this but it seems as likely to me that the narrative is a legend, like that of King Arthur, perhaps a compilation of several people’s actions or perhaps a wholesale fabrication.
The whole Jesus story is preposterous. God gives birth to himself so he can forgive us the sin he knew we would commit, then after suffering a papercut, he stubbs his toe, ascends to heaven to be at the side of himself…and continue to judge whether people should go to hell, a place he created, or be brought to heaven to forever grovel at their feet and conveniently forget all of their family members residing in that other place.
I can't find any that could possibly be considered creditable.If you lay the same constraints historians use to confirm the existence of many other persons that presumed to have lived in those days, then, yes, it is pretty sure Jesus existed. If you look for unusually hard historical proof you will find none. There were many threads about this topic already. Search for 'Jesus exist' with the search option, and you will find many of these. I think this one] is pretty extended (read the book of Ehrman that is mentioned there, it's good), and also the reference in this one] is very informative. You don't need to deny the existence of a historical person 'Jesus' to be an atheist. You just must strip off the magical, non-historical stories about him. But for reasons I do not understand, discussions about this topic tend to get very emotional soon.
If you lay the same constraints historians use to confirm the existence of many other persons that presumed to have lived in those days, then, yes, it is pretty sure Jesus existed.I don't think we can reasonably apply the same standards to this as to the accounts of known historical persons, for two reasons: (1) there are no written accounts of his alleged life and deeds for decades after he died, which is extremely suspicious (fact check me on that); and (2) the accounts we have are laden with stories that are obviously exaggerated, at best. On both counts, the story falls more into the category of myth and legend than history. Not that it matters much, in my opinion, but that's how I see it.
(1) there are no written accounts of his alleged life and deeds for decades after he died, which is extremely suspicious (fact check me on that);The same is true of many other persons historians accept as having existed.
(2) the accounts we have are laden with stories that are obviously exaggerated, at best.And that is true for many others too. See what you get when you strip off the exaggeration: an apocalyptic Jewish preacher who thought the end of days would come in his lifetime or soon after, and who said that people should prepare by highly moral behaviour, so they would be saved.
On both counts, the story falls more into the category of myth and legend than history.'More', yes, 'totally' no. You did read Ehrman, didn't you? He is quite convincing, also putting the story of Jesus in its historical context. Or scan a little to the Reddit link]? Here] is an interesting starting point.
This subject matters a great deal to me as it is the very reason I became a atheist. We’re actually dealing with two Jesus’s here, one mythical and the other historical. Bible scholars line up behind those two concepts with Erhman making a compelling argument for the historical Jesus and Carrier and Price opposed essentially stating the the character and the myth surrounding him as cherrypicked from pagan myths that surrounded and affected the Hebrews who had already created a conposite belief system from earlier religious myths, e.g. Yahweh was originally a local mountain God who fought dragons. There are early sources BTW used by Ehrman and other scholars that could be considered proof, e.g. The “Q” gospel and Josephus who mentions a “Jesus” in his narrative but as Carrier points out in a book I just read, there were many people who went by that name. The one thing I find fascinating is that after studying the historical accounts of the religion you can see the slow evolution of a shephardic cult into a World wide religious belief and then dividing into two others only to have them splinter into hundreds of sects and cults. I’m being brief, really but there a literaly hundreds of books on the topic and more to come. It’s a fascinating subject as it impacts all of us. If you don’t believe me just watch the antics of the political candidates in CPAC. Jesus this, and Joseph that and Abraham hit me with a whiffleball bat. Oh, and Obama is the devil, really he was in a movie.
BTW, in cases you want to read more of Ehrman’s works and debate topics here is his site:
GdB, I’m open to learning more about this. What other historical figures are similar to Jesus in the two parameters I mentioned?
Socrates?Not a bad example, but Plato and Xenophon knew him, and have written about him. Some older philosophers, e.g. Thales and Heraclitus come to my mind. There are no contemporary witnesses of their existence. And then we have Buddha. No historian doubts that he existed, but there also many miracle stories about him (even a virgin birth, probably for the same reason), and his speeches were only written down 400 years later. Much worse than Jesus...
Very interesting thread.
I don’t have a problem believing that Jesus existed at all, but “Jesus of Nazareth" (not Bethlehem) is not the same as the “Christ of Faith". – A nice book is also “Is Christianity True?" by Michael Arnheim. But there are so many. “Misquoting Jesus" by Ehrman is definitely good when it comes to the New Testament.
Once I looked into Jesus and history (and by no means very well, just very leisurely) I was actually shocked at how many things in history are accepted without much evidence, simply because it fits nicely, makes for a neat heritage, and is rather non-threatening. I mean, who really cares if Socrates existed or is a character Plato made up? Doesn’t make a difference. When it comes to religion it looks totally different, especially “historical" religions.
Very interesting thread. I don’t have a problem believing that Jesus existed at all, but “Jesus of Nazareth" (not Bethlehem) is not the same as the “Christ of Faith". – A nice book is also “Is Christianity True?" by Michael Arnheim. But there are so many. “Misquoting Jesus" by Ehrman is definitely good when it comes to the New Testament. Once I looked into Jesus and history (and by no means very well, just very leisurely) I was actually shocked at how many things in history are accepted without much evidence, simply because it fits nicely, makes for a neat heritage, and is rather non-threatening. I mean, who really cares if Socrates existed or is a character Plato made up? Doesn’t make a difference. When it comes to religion it looks totally different, especially “historical" religions.That's a good point Michelle. The words attributed to Socrates would the same place on history regardless of his existence. The words of Christ matter because he was considered the son of God. It is an interesting bit of history that there were a few small groups resisting the Romans, but nothing to build a church around.
For how many centuries did humanity take for granted Aristotle’s mistaken assumption that women had a different number of teeth than men, because mares have a different number than stallions, and thus all females must? It wasn’t too long ago that even asking questions about the divinity of Christ was enough to get you killed.
Some people claim that its preposterous that Christianity could have grown up if there wasn’t someone to inspire the stories which later were embellished to include things like raising the dead. Other people claim that he had to have raised the dead, otherwise people wouldn’t have told stories about him. The Greeks told stories about Zeus, does that mean he once existed? There are doubts about the existence of Confucius, since most of the saying attributed to him were written down long after he lived.
The descriptions of Socrates given by Plato and Xenophon differ wildly from one another, does that mean he didn’t exist? I don’t know. It just seems strange to me for people to think that its impossible for Christianity to have grown up without there being a Christ at the center of it, while being perfectly happy to accept the idea that there is no God. I would think that the rational thing to say was, “I believe its likely there was an individual named Jesus who inspired a religion that later became Christianity, though I think that its also possible that there was no such individual, and like the God his follows profess to worship, is entirely a construction of the human mind.”
We know that much of the Old Testament (excluding the supposed miracles) didn’t happen. The Israelites weren’t slaves of Egypt and didn’t spend 40 years wandering around in the desert, yet oodles of people believe in it. Why is it so hard to swallow the concept that there was no Jesus (or that the probability of his existence is very low), but perfectly acceptable to say that anyone who believes the story of Exodus (even the non-miraculous parts) is deluded?
The vast consensus among historians is that Jesus existed. Is it possible that he didn’t and everything that we know that was written that referenced his existence was fictional? Sure, but not likely.
It might be a cool point for persons with an atheistic bent, to, plausibly claim that Jesus never actually existed. But I don’t think they/we (atheists/agnostics) can do so, since the people who study antiquity the most, by and large, don’t question Jesus’s existence.
The vast consensus among historians is that Jesus existed. Is it possible that he didn't and everything that we know that was written that referenced his existence was fictional? Sure, but not likely. It might be a cool point for persons with an atheistic bent, to, plausibly claim that Jesus never actually existed. But I don't think they/we (atheists/agnostics) can do so, since the people who study antiquity the most, by and large, don't question Jesus's existence.The person people identify as Jesus may have existed. That is not an impossible idea, though most of he actions attributed to him have never been shown to be possible in any human being. The only question should be "Was he divine?" which has never been adequately answered and can never be. No one has claimed Socrates was anything but a normal man. No one is claiming he was divine or had supernatural powers. It is not anyone's existence that can't be believed by rational people, it is the claim of divinity. As soon as a person is claimed to be divine, there is reason to doubt that aspect of his or her existence. This goes for anyone who has ever been claimed to be divine or to have supernatural powers. Lois
Let me start with a joke:
Two students call up Rudolf Bultmann, the old theologian and New Testament scholar, after digging around in Palestine. “Professor, I think we found pieces of the cross that Jesus was nailed on." – Bultmann: “Oh, so you mean Jesus ever existed?"
Dumb joke, I know, but it makes a point. There are many good scholars / theologians / even pastors who are quite fine with the research, Karl Barth for example, or Brian McLaren, to be more recent. This are folks who live in reality, and they are Christians. Never bothered me. I’m a huge fan of Barth and Bonhoeffer. They stood up to Hitler no matter the cost. (Well, Barth got away being Swiss, but Bonhoeffer “got nailed" so to speak.)
All this “the Bible is inerrant" and stuff is very recent. Sure, before there was modern-day science there was no real debate about all this, like the creation story, but even St. Augustine or Chrysostom were aware that Genesis didn’t make much sense if taken literally.
Today’s “Evangelicalism" is an outgrowth of (mainly British, then extended American) resistance to Darwin. It’s political from head to toe. Has nothing to do with Christian faith really. Not even the Catholic Church black-listed Darwin as his book is biology, not theology or philosophy.
It’s funny and annoying to see people think that unless the Bible is “the literal Word of God" their faith can’t stand. Really, this kind of Christianity undermines itself.
I’m not a Christian anymore, as I read too much, but it hurts to see some of my old friends believing this shit. – Even when I believed I never went that far. I was a “Barthian", never an Evangelical.
This “excessive need for certainty" might be a human trait, but in the case of Christianity, if you keep holding on too tight, you eventually suffocate yourself with that noose. So sad, especially if you have kids and want to do what’s right. It’s not right, it’s bullshit. And homeschooling children based on “Answers in Genesis" is meant well, but it deludes and trashes any future ability to understand science.
Whoever came up with these modern-day doctrines, and it wasn’t Jesus or Augustine or Aquinas or Luther, they are guilty of dumbing an entire generation or more, really shitting on their own religion with such garbage.
Religion is and has always been fine with me, so long as you keep the two, science and religion, in their respective spheres. The one is mystical, the other is factual. To confuse that is just stupid.
Little rant here, but it hurts me seeing friends of mine unable to shake off doctrines that have no place anywhere. And should you make yourself intelligent the answer is right there: you’re becoming liberal or apostate, both putting your soul in danger as you are forsaking the true Gospel. – I remember my nights in agony, and the nightmares of hell, but I couldn’t help it. Eventually reality became more important than Jonathan Edwards’ delusions. But then, I’m alone, I don’t have kids. Once the grip is on a family you got it down. – Fascist delusions, with bad consequences. Meant well, but very, very wrong.
As I’m up early and stimulated let me add another post:
Anyone familiar with the Asterix comics? Lausten just reminded me. “We are writing the year 50 BC. All of Gaul has been conquered by the Romans. All of Gaul? One tiny village is still resisting the intruders…" – So funny! I used to have a collection. No idea where it went. Best comics ever. History mixed with funny stories. I think they have three animated movies out on it, and one real movie, with Gerard Depardieu. Hilarious stuff! Explains why the Sphinx has no nose, too.
Coldheart Tucker says it right… very confusing why people need this certainty when it is totally uncalled for. (Correct me if I misunderstood.) That the existence of Jesus is very low though, I don’t think. I think it’s rather high. For a dude who never wrote anything and really has nothing to put up, his inspiring so many little cults is only possible if there was “someone" behind it. – Very good scholar to look into, former monk, is Luke Johnson. His specialty is “religious experience", not fact. He has some nice courses with the Teaching Company, and books otherwise.
The vast consensus among historians is that Jesus existed. Is it possible that he didn't and everything that we know that was written that referenced his existence was fictional? Sure, but not likely. It might be a cool point for persons with an atheistic bent, to, plausibly claim that Jesus never actually existed. But I don't think they/we (atheists/agnostics) can do so, since the people who study antiquity the most, by and large, don't question Jesus's existence.Consensus is a dicey thing, especially in history. There have been two major quests for the historical Jesus, both were inconclusive and personally I wonder it they were abandoned for political reasons, not academic. According to Richard Carrier, proper/modern historiography has not been applied to this question. His latest book is a stab at that, and I will wait for the response from other academics before I make any statements about what the new consensus is.
A reply] from Ehrman to Carrier.
After refuting many arguments from Carrier, Ehrman states:
My scholarly books would never be mistaken for books that would be read by a wide, general public. But Carrier indicates that the inadequacy of Did Jesus Exist can be seen by comparing it to two of his own recent books, which, he tells us, pay more attention to detail, embrace a more diverse range of scholarship, and have many more footnotes. I did not write this book for scholars. I wrote if for lay people who are interested in a broad, interesting, and very important question. Did Jesus really exist? I was not arguing the case for scholars, because scholars already know the answer to that question. I was explaining to the non-scholar why scholars think what they do. A non-scholarly book tries to explain things in simple terms, and to do so without the clutter of detail that you would find in a work of scholarship.Italics by me.