toejam said: "Even if we didn't have Philo or the Pilate Stone, Pilate's governership would still be a safe historical bet, despite not being attested to by contemporaries. And the same goes for a historical Jesus."
If this is so, what sources would you rely on to establish the existence of Pilate? And how do those sources apply to "a historical Jesus."
With no Philo or Pilate Stone, we would still have Josephus and the gospels to verify Pilate's existence beyond reasonable doubt, yet neither of those sources were contemporary.
What do you mean by "a historical Jesus," anyway?
Great question - and I agree that the term "historical Jesus" can be slippery and easily misunderstood. When I
use the term, I am refering simply to a specific historical Jewish cult-leader figure named Jesus who was crucified under Pilate, from whom Christianity sprouted. Whether he was the Jesus of Ehrman, Crossan, Aslan, Morton Smith etc. is a different question, and one I feel even less confident about.
What does leaning toward historicity mean?
I think of it this way - If time-travel was possible, and my life depended on betting correctly whether there was or wasn't a historical Jesus, my money is going on the hypothesis that there was. So I'm not sure, or even confident. But after all the reading on the issue I've done, I think it's a more reasonable hypothesis of how Christianity started - that there was a historical crucified figure from whom the religion sprouted. That is what I mean by "leaning towards historicity". If you were forced to bet, where are you placing your chips?
What is your methodology for sifting out true history in the Gospel stories?
The same methodologies any of us use to try and estimate what most likely happened in the past - the principles of analogy. All credible historical methodologies boil down to this I think. What do the gospels more closely resemble? an exaggerated, bias account of an historical religious cult figure? or pure
mythology/euhemerization? To me they seem more the former. The gospels remind me of how modern day scientologists write about L.Ron Hubbard (check the 'official' scientology biography - it's a laugh!) - full of bias, half-truths and lies, misunderstandings, a degree of developing unverified legend, exaggeration etc. ... but still based on a historical person who founded their cult.
Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near repent, and believe in the good news.”
Verses like this seem too strange to me if they were purely euhemerizations of a "heavenly being" or what-have-you.
My study list: https://www.facebook.com/notes/scott-bignell/judeo-christian-origins-bibliography/851830651507208