How does the mythical Jesus thing hang together?

Discussion about the New Testament, apocrypha, gnostics, church fathers, Christian origins, historical Jesus or otherwise, etc.
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Peter Kirby
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Re: How does the mythical Jesus thing hang together?

Post by Peter Kirby » Mon Feb 12, 2018 12:24 pm

hakeem wrote:
Mon Feb 12, 2018 11:15 am
Bernard Muller wrote:
Mon Feb 12, 2018 8:42 am
Neither Paul, nor Hebrews is silent about the existence in the past of an earthly & human Jesus. Even if both like to speculate on the post-existent (sometime pre-existent) heavenly Jesus, because here, they can invent all kinds of fascinating attributes tailored to attract & keep converts. However, the historical Jesus had little interest, except that, by some fluke, he was crucified as Christ, triggering extraordinary beliefs with the help of the OT and Philo of Alexandria's works.

Cordially, Bernard
Your arguments are so extremely absurd.The Christian Bible is not silent about the existence of God, Satan. the Holy Ghost, Adam, Eve, Cain and Abel. None of them ever existed.

It is absolute nonsense that the Jesus character must have existed because it is stated in the Bible.

The authors of the Epistles have stated his Jesus was the Lord from heaven, God Creator, the firstborn of the dead and God's own Son who was raised from the dead .

Paul's Jesus was not a figure of histlory

Paul's Jesus was a myth figure just like Romulus.
It is absolute nonsense that the Jesus character must have existed because it is stated in the Bible.
Probably a good thing that this isn't Bernard's point at all, nor was it the subject of discussion.

You've gotten bolder with these tangential, table-pounding non sequiturs. Keep it up, and you may be banned.
"... almost every critical biblical position was earlier advanced by skeptics." - Raymond Brown

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Secret Alias
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Re: How does the mythical Jesus thing hang together?

Post by Secret Alias » Mon Feb 12, 2018 12:30 pm

Ehrman uses NT sources that are are not credible.
Oh the sound of aa's posts ringing in my ears. It's a miracle! I thought I would never hear the music that flows from his fingertips ever again. But we've found him. He's come back. Just like this story I read over the weekend:

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world ... 92646.html
“Finally, from so little sleeping and so much reading, his brain dried up and he went completely out of his mind.”
― Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Don Quixote

jferris
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Re: How does the mythical Jesus thing hang together?

Post by jferris » Mon Feb 12, 2018 12:35 pm

Peter Kirby wrote:
Mon Feb 12, 2018 1:12 am
Specializing in NT history seems like an easy way to get unmoored, since we're always going over the same stuff. Behavioral science suggests we end up confirming our biases in that kind of situation - both for positive and negative info, too. Not the best way. Maybe there's a way out of the impasse?
Perhaps the answer is to cast a wider net.


1. The doctrines and received histories of the great religions were all constellated under imperial sponsorship, and then promulgated by (and in support of) the apparatus of empire.

There’s no revelation without patronization. Christianity (Roman Empire); Islam (Arab Empire); Zoroastrianism (Achaemenid Empire); Buddhism/Jainism (Maurya Empire); Daoism (Han Empire). Written records of a religion before its imperial adoption are either a) ambiguous, conflicting and scant; or b) nonexistent.

2. The personal names of the legendary founders of the great religions are imbued with cultic significance.

I’m not talking about honorifics like Laozi or Mahavira, but the purported “real names” of the legendary founders. Jesus (“Yahweh saves”), Muhammad (“praised”), Gotama (“illuminates darkness”), Li Er (Laozi. Something like “child of reason/power/establishment/natural law”).

3. The stories surrounding the legendary founders are replete with fantastic and implausible events.

Miracles, magic and divine interventions abound.

4. There is no unambiguous contemporary or near-contemporary attestation for any of these characters outside of religious literature.

Nothing anywhere. Nada. Zilch.

5. There is understood to be a period of “oral transmission” after the death of the legendary founder and before the first texts appear. We are asked to believe that this period faithfully preserves an “original teaching.”

6. There are many anachronistic elements. E.g.

• How is Paul preaching a sophisticated Christology all over the Mediterranean only a few years after the purported death of the legendary founder?
• Why does language in the gathas reflect that of the 10th century BCE when Zoroaster is traditionally placed in the 6th BCE?
• Why do the earliest Jain scriptures – including the Acaranga Sutra – make no mention of Mahavira?
• What does the dating of the Birmingham Quran Manuscript really suggest about the religiogenesis of Islam?

Notwithstanding the similarities between any specific myths and stories attached to these legendary figures, I also think these are larger structural patterns that bear further investigation.

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Re: How does the mythical Jesus thing hang together?

Post by neilgodfrey » Mon Feb 12, 2018 2:20 pm

John T wrote:
Mon Feb 12, 2018 5:21 am
Dr. Ehrman writes in his book about the, "different kinds of sources historians want to establish the past existence of a person."...pg 30-68. He writes about the difference between corroboration and collaboration. He goes on to list non-Christian references to Jesus: Pliny the Younger, Suetonius, Tacitus, Josephus, Rabbic Sources, etc.,.
Read my detailed reviews, John T. Ehrman demonstrates that he has no interest in applying the methods of historians outside the field of biblical studies to the Jesus question. His logic and explanation of how "historians" evaluate evidence for knowing how someone exists is simply risible and would be laughed out of any serious history department.

Read my reviews where I dissect his arguments in great detail. They are all there in the public realm. You have no excuse for not reading them.

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Re: How does the mythical Jesus thing hang together?

Post by neilgodfrey » Mon Feb 12, 2018 2:29 pm

hakeem wrote:
Sun Feb 11, 2018 6:18 pm
Your admittance that you don't know if there was an historical Paul who wrote genuine letters, that you merely assume for argument sake and the fact that there is no corroborative historical evidence for Paul makes the case indefensible.
No, because when I assume for the sake of argument that Paul existed I am not in those situations arguing for a historical Paul or claiming that the arguments are absolutely conclusive and dogmatic. That should be obvious.

Conclusions of such a discussion are tentative. They depend on the assumptions made. They are not proofs or dogmatic statements. They are explorations of possibilities.

Sometimes, sometimes, later evidence, that coming from generations later, really is superior to contemporary evidence. Not often maybe, but sometimes it does happen.

There is no absolute rule that says later evidence is worthless given the absence of contemporary evidence. There are many variables that need to be considered in a case by case study.

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Re: How does the mythical Jesus thing hang together?

Post by neilgodfrey » Mon Feb 12, 2018 2:33 pm

John T wrote:
Sun Feb 11, 2018 4:46 am
George Washington had a lot of things written about him that weren't true, e.g. he chopped down a cherry tree, threw a silver dollar across the Potomac river, had wooden teeth etc,.

Does that mean George Washington was a myth?

Once you see the double standard of the Mythicists, e.g. Carrier and Price, you will quickly realize they are not really interested in disproving the historical existence of Jesus but in promoting atheism by using a clever trick.

That is, if you can disprove anything about the historical existence of Jesus then by extension you have disproved the existence of God.

Too clever by half.

John T

Here is what you were responding to, John T. Can you please tell me how your criticism is valid to the actual argument that follows?
[Y]ou are quite correct that that OT source of stories about Jesus [or any other mythical source of stories about Jesus] does not prove he was nonhistorical and entirely made up. Correct.

The point, though, is that if all we have are stories that we can either trace to OT or other literary precedents or stories that can find no corroboration at all in independent contemporary sources then we have no reason to embrace the historicity of Jesus.

That does not mean Jesus had no historical existence, however. He might have. It's just that the only evidence we have cannot be corroborated in any way or it can be sourced to something other than historical events.

So the default position is that we have a literary and theological figure of Jesus. We simply cannot know on the basis of the above that Jesus was also historical. There is no unambiguous evidence to support this claim.

I can live with not knowing. I don't think the question matters too much because if Jesus' historical life and sayings really did have the historical impact of the power to change lives and history then I suspect we would find unambiguous evidence to that effect. Instead, we only find "faith-documents" without historical corroboration and stories derived from other fictions.

Maybe the historians are just unlucky in that the most interesting evidence has simply not survived. That's possible, too.

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Re: How does the mythical Jesus thing hang together?

Post by neilgodfrey » Mon Feb 12, 2018 2:57 pm

Peter Kirby wrote:
Mon Feb 12, 2018 1:12 am
Maybe there's a way out of the impasse?
Confine our study to the only Jesus we have. The literary Jesus. I think someone suggested this way out of the impasse in "Is This Not the Carpenter?"

That's not going to happen, of course.

You are quite correct that we all tend to wallow in confirmation bias (though you didn't express it as strongly as that). I see Hurtado recently writes that he "tends to agree" with a new study that argues for the authenticity of the Nero persecuting Christian passage in Tacitus and I thought how remarkable it is that all of Hurtado's scholarly conclusions seem to support fundamental orthodox narratives. Then I thought how my reaction to Hurtado's views swings automatically to the opposite view -- simply as a reaction to his own clear bias. So one bias repels another equal and opposite bias, it seems.

But then we have to reach a point where we acknowledge that we are not engaged in disinterested intellectual debate. The proof of that is the hostility that is generated against one side at least, sometimes (but not always) hostility from both sides against each other.

The methods that dominate in biblical studies -- criteria of authenticity, "memory theory" and "memory triangulations", connecting dots, etc -- are not standard in Classics or ancient history departments as far as I am aware. The methods have emerged out of a field that is dedicated to deepening understanding of ideological narratives or belief systems, not with questioning their fundamental assumptions.

I think much the same problem riddled departments of classics and ancient history, if my reading of critics of "the old days" in those departments is correct. Historians and classicists once loved to explore all they could about romantic childhood legendary heroes and events. Classicists and ancient historians have moved on (certainly for most part, I am sure) but, as ever, biblical studies lags behind. Perhaps its ideological moorings will never allow it to leave port.

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Re: How does the mythical Jesus thing hang together?

Post by hakeem » Mon Feb 12, 2018 3:02 pm

hakeem wrote:
Sun Feb 11, 2018 6:18 pm
Your admittance that you don't know if there was an historical Paul who wrote genuine letters, that you merely assume for argument sake and the fact that there is no corroborative historical evidence for Paul makes the case indefensible.
neilgodfrey wrote:
Mon Feb 12, 2018 2:29 pm
No, because when I assume for the sake of argument that Paul existed I am not in those situations arguing for a historical Paul or claiming that the arguments are absolutely conclusive and dogmatic. That should be obvious.

Conclusions of such a discussion are tentative. They depend on the assumptions made. They are not proofs or dogmatic statements. They are explorations of possibilities.

Sometimes, sometimes, later evidence, that coming from generations later, really is superior to contemporary evidence. Not often maybe, but sometimes it does happen.

There is no absolute rule that says later evidence is worthless given the absence of contemporary evidence. There are many variables that need to be considered in a case by case study.
I have never ever stated or claimed that arguments are absolutely conclusive and dogmatic. My arguments are based on existing data not on assumed later unknown evidence.

I draw my conclusion on the evidence before me and may only review my position when new actual evidence comes to light.

Based on the existing evidence I conclude that Jesus and Paul were never ever figures of history and that the so-called Pauline letters are very late writings composed no earlier than c 170 or after " True Discourse" attributed to Celsus, after at least Acts of the Apostles and the Apocalypse of John.

If new actual evidence is found then I may review my conclusion.

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Re: How does the mythical Jesus thing hang together?

Post by Jax » Mon Feb 12, 2018 3:36 pm

hakeem wrote:
Mon Feb 12, 2018 3:02 pm
hakeem wrote:
Sun Feb 11, 2018 6:18 pm
Your admittance that you don't know if there was an historical Paul who wrote genuine letters, that you merely assume for argument sake and the fact that there is no corroborative historical evidence for Paul makes the case indefensible.
neilgodfrey wrote:
Mon Feb 12, 2018 2:29 pm
No, because when I assume for the sake of argument that Paul existed I am not in those situations arguing for a historical Paul or claiming that the arguments are absolutely conclusive and dogmatic. That should be obvious.

Conclusions of such a discussion are tentative. They depend on the assumptions made. They are not proofs or dogmatic statements. They are explorations of possibilities.

Sometimes, sometimes, later evidence, that coming from generations later, really is superior to contemporary evidence. Not often maybe, but sometimes it does happen.

There is no absolute rule that says later evidence is worthless given the absence of contemporary evidence. There are many variables that need to be considered in a case by case study.
I have never ever stated or claimed that arguments are absolutely conclusive and dogmatic. My arguments are based on existing data not on assumed later unknown evidence.

I draw my conclusion on the evidence before me and may only review my position when new actual evidence comes to light.

Based on the existing evidence I conclude that Jesus and Paul were never ever figures of history and that the so-called Pauline letters are very late writings composed no earlier than c 170 or after " True Discourse" attributed to Celsus, after at least Acts of the Apostles and the Apocalypse of John.

If new actual evidence is found then I may review my conclusion.
I am curious. What order of writings and events do you assign to the Christians?

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Re: How does the mythical Jesus thing hang together?

Post by John T » Mon Feb 12, 2018 4:31 pm

neilgodfrey wrote:
Mon Feb 12, 2018 2:20 pm

Read my detailed reviews, John T. Ehrman demonstrates that he has no interest in applying the methods of historians outside the field of biblical studies to the Jesus question. His logic and explanation of how "historians" evaluate evidence for knowing how someone exists is simply risible and would be laughed out of any serious history department.

Read my reviews where I dissect his arguments in great detail. They are all there in the public realm. You have no excuse for not reading them.
Yet, you refuse to cut & past any of your so-called detailed reviews?!

Please elaborate your reluctance to argue the merits on this thread. :scratch:


John T
"It is useless to attempt to reason a man out of a thing he was never reasoned into."...Jonathan Swift

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