Evidence Christianity started as mythicist

Discussion about the New Testament, apocrypha, gnostics, church fathers, Christian origins, historical Jesus or otherwise, etc.
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Irish1975
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Re: Evidence Christianity started as mythicist

Post by Irish1975 » Sun Jan 10, 2021 11:13 am

It wasn’t inevitable, given Vespasian and Titus, that someone would compose gMark. The failure of the Hasmoneans doesn’t explain why Jews under the Romans got so good at writing scripture, anymore than Antiochus Epiphanes explains why the Book of Daniel was written or why it had such an impact.

The Jews getting their asses kicked and their temple destroyed doesn’t explain the Bible. Many cultures rise and fall. But wars and mayhem don’t explain the birth of a world religion. At best they are precipitating conditions. Something else is required.
Paulg wrote:
Sat Jan 09, 2021 3:26 pm
The problem of Christian origins is best approached by asking the right question. Whether Jesus existed or not, is the wrong question.
I agree that the specific existence of Jesus of Nazareth is not the ultimate issue. But there must have been at least one extraordinary individual or group.

maryhelena
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Re: Evidence Christianity started as mythicist

Post by maryhelena » Sun Jan 10, 2021 1:12 pm

Irish1975 wrote:
Sun Jan 10, 2021 11:13 am
It wasn’t inevitable, given Vespasian and Titus, that someone would compose gMark. The failure of the Hasmoneans doesn’t explain why Jews under the Romans got so good at writing scripture, anymore than Antiochus Epiphanes explains why the Book of Daniel was written or why it had such an impact.

The Jews getting their asses kicked and their temple destroyed doesn’t explain the Bible. Many cultures rise and fall. But wars and mayhem don’t explain the birth of a world religion. At best they are precipitating conditions. Something else is required.
Paulg wrote:
Sat Jan 09, 2021 3:26 pm
The problem of Christian origins is best approached by asking the right question. Whether Jesus existed or not, is the wrong question.
I agree that the specific existence of Jesus of Nazareth is not the ultimate issue. But there must have been at least one extraordinary individual or group.
:thumbup:

Bernard Muller
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Re: Evidence Christianity started as mythicist

Post by Bernard Muller » Sun Jan 10, 2021 1:27 pm

to Paulg,
Do you have evidence that Christianity, including Jewish Christianity, did NOT start before 70 AD?
And it looks to me you put all the Pauline epistles as post-70.

Cordially, Bernard

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Paulg
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Re: Evidence Christianity started as mythicist

Post by Paulg » Sun Jan 10, 2021 6:29 pm

Yes, I put all the Pauline epistles as post-70. And authored by Paul or an amanuensis. (Jerome says he flourished after the War.)
The earliest and best evidence for Christians is the letters of Pliny the Younger. Dating them at 110, and with a reference to Christians existing 20 years previously is evidence for Christians in 90. Some graffiti on a wall in Pompeii which has now faded puts Christians on the Italian peninsula in 79. The only possible source of earlier foundation is Tacitus who was probably relating stories he had heard from Christians or Jews, and is therefore unreliable. We know all the gospels were written after AD70.
We also know that founders of religions like to push back their myth of origins in time. This makes them seem more legitimate. We see this with Mormonism, Islam, Judaism all the major religions and some minor ones. So it would be surprising if the early Christians did NOT push back their myth of origins in time.

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Irish1975
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Re: Evidence Christianity started as mythicist

Post by Irish1975 » Sun Jan 10, 2021 6:58 pm

maryhelena wrote:
Sun Jan 10, 2021 1:12 pm
Irish1975 wrote:
Sun Jan 10, 2021 11:13 am
It wasn’t inevitable, given Vespasian and Titus, that someone would compose gMark. The failure of the Hasmoneans doesn’t explain why Jews under the Romans got so good at writing scripture, anymore than Antiochus Epiphanes explains why the Book of Daniel was written or why it had such an impact.

The Jews getting their asses kicked and their temple destroyed doesn’t explain the Bible. Many cultures rise and fall. But wars and mayhem don’t explain the birth of a world religion. At best they are precipitating conditions. Something else is required.
Paulg wrote:
Sat Jan 09, 2021 3:26 pm
The problem of Christian origins is best approached by asking the right question. Whether Jesus existed or not, is the wrong question.
I agree that the specific existence of Jesus of Nazareth is not the ultimate issue. But there must have been at least one extraordinary individual or group.
:thumbup:
I think it was just Paul, but I take it that’s not where you are? :confusedsmiley:

maryhelena
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Re: Evidence Christianity started as mythicist

Post by maryhelena » Mon Jan 11, 2021 1:08 am

Irish1975 wrote:
Sun Jan 10, 2021 6:58 pm
maryhelena wrote:
Sun Jan 10, 2021 1:12 pm
Irish1975 wrote:
Sun Jan 10, 2021 11:13 am
It wasn’t inevitable, given Vespasian and Titus, that someone would compose gMark. The failure of the Hasmoneans doesn’t explain why Jews under the Romans got so good at writing scripture, anymore than Antiochus Epiphanes explains why the Book of Daniel was written or why it had such an impact.

The Jews getting their asses kicked and their temple destroyed doesn’t explain the Bible. Many cultures rise and fall. But wars and mayhem don’t explain the birth of a world religion. At best they are precipitating conditions. Something else is required.
Paulg wrote:
Sat Jan 09, 2021 3:26 pm
The problem of Christian origins is best approached by asking the right question. Whether Jesus existed or not, is the wrong question.
I agree that the specific existence of Jesus of Nazareth is not the ultimate issue. But there must have been at least one extraordinary individual or group.
:thumbup:
I think it was just Paul, but I take it that’s not where you are? :confusedsmiley:

Thomas Brodie
Beyond the Quest for the Historical Jesus


page 146-147

The idea that Paul was a literary figure did not remove the possibility that behind the epistles lay one outstanding historical figure who was central to the inspiring of the epistles, but that is not the figure whom the epistles portray. Under that person's inspiration - or the inspiration of that person plus co-workers - the epistles portray a single individual, Paul, who incorporates in himself and in his teaching a distillation of the agelong drama of God's work on earth.

On that May morning in 2008 in the library the idea that the figure of Paul is literary rather than historical hit me with shock. It also hit me as the truth.


Earl Doherty: If strong doubts could be cast on the existence of Paul, we would have to completely recast our picture of earliest Christianity, perhaps even more so than in the context of a non-historical Jesus.

http://jesuspuzzle.humanists.net/rfset23.htm#Brian

Yesterday I watched a youtube video with a discussion with Yuval Noah Harari in which the issue of fake news came up. Yuval pointed out that fake news is not new, its not something particular to the age of the internet and social media - although of course these give it wider spread. He referenced the Bible as fake news from thousands of years ago. The stories it contains are not true in the sense that they reflect reality. The stories are what they are - stories.

Consequently, if it's an understanding of early christian origins that is our aim it becomes necessary to consider the historical context, the reality, from which they arose. In the case of the NT stories - that is Jewish history.

A first step in understanding that history is to remove the roadblock that the NT stories have set up - the story of Paul. That story is fake news - it is not historical.

davidmartin
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Re: Evidence Christianity started as mythicist

Post by davidmartin » Mon Jan 11, 2021 2:58 am

doing some research and presenting a shocking conclusion that so-and-so is not historical? (so you buy his book)
what does "not historical" even mean?
it means nothing
the idea is to place people in their historical context whether they are literary creations or not or some blend of the two
that way they are still a tool we can use to mine history as we each see fit
if he is saying "not historical" means the tool is invalid, then he's an idiot

maryhelena
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Re: Evidence Christianity started as mythicist

Post by maryhelena » Mon Jan 11, 2021 4:57 am

davidmartin wrote:
Mon Jan 11, 2021 2:58 am
doing some research and presenting a shocking conclusion that so-and-so is not historical? (so you buy his book)
what does "not historical" even mean?
it means nothing
the idea is to place people in their historical context whether they are literary creations or not or some blend of the two
that way they are still a tool we can use to mine history as we each see fit
if he is saying "not historical" means the tool is invalid, then he's an idiot
I did not need to buy Brodie's book to become aware of the idea that the NT Paul was not a historical figure. I'd already figured that out for myself - over 35 years ago to be precise. Like Brodie, who was interested to find that a non-historical Paul was held by others before him, I found Brodie's scholarship on Paul most encouraging.

Page 147. Thomas Brodie: Beyond the Quest for the Historical Jesus

Eventually, over a year later, on Saturday, 11 July 2009, I began to check to see if the idea of Paul as a non-historical figure was new, and had to go no further than an article in the Jerome Biblical Commentary (1968: 41:7) - a John Kselman article I had read decades ago - to find that 'B[runo} Bauer (1809-1882) removed what historical foundation [D.] Strauss had allowed and left only myth, concluding that Jesus and Paul were non-historical literary fictions'.

Searching further I found Bauer's stance was largly followed by 'Dutch, German, French and Anglo-Saxon scholars at the end of the nineteenth and beginng of the twentieth century' (Kummel 1972:447), but the methods used by these scholars were very underdeveloped and their proposals faded. When Bauer reached his conclusion he had nowhere to go;

......Yet by 2008 the situation had changed since the days of Bauer. The methods of research had greatly improved, and evidence had been gathering slowly that the epistles are not what they had seemed to be.


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Paulg
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Re: Evidence Christianity started as mythicist

Post by Paulg » Mon Jan 11, 2021 6:15 am

I think Paul was definitely a figure in history, because we have his writings, and they seem genuine. Problems only arise when the gospels and Acts are taken at face value. Given the genre they fit into or the set of documents they belong to which are extant, that is the apocryphal it is clear that they are inventions. There may be some true bits in them but sorting that out from the fiction is well nigh impossible. There are good sources and there are bad sources. One needs to know the difference. One needs a consistent and logical methodology in determining what probably happened. That is often missing in discussions like this. Someone like Pliny is a good source. "Luke" is a bad source. Paul's letters are good sources. The gospels are bad sources.
The other thing is argumentation. Arguments from analogy are good arguments. Arguments from authority or ad populum arguments are bad arguments.

Bernard Muller
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Re: Evidence Christianity started as mythicist

Post by Bernard Muller » Mon Jan 11, 2021 1:54 pm

to Paulg,
I think Paul was definitely a figure in history, because we have his writings, and they seem genuine.
Earlier, you wrote:
Yes, I put all the Pauline epistles as post-70. And authored by Paul or an amanuensis.
You seems undecided about the authorship of Paul's epistles.
BTW, not all epistles attributed to Paul are genuine (example: the Pastorals). And even the considered genuine letters have been edited (Corinthians and Philippians), and added up with later interpolations.
(Jerome says he flourished after the War.)
Where did you read that in Jerome's works? Jerome had Paul's public life much earlier.
The only possible source of earlier foundation is Tacitus who was probably relating stories he had heard from Christians or Jews, and is therefore unreliable.
"probably" and why "only possible source". Please note Suetonius also mentioned Christians were existing in Rome under Nero:
16.2: "Punishment by Nero was inflicted on the Christians, a class of men given to a new and mischievous superstition."

We also know that founders of religions like to push back their myth of origins in time. This makes them seem more legitimate. We see this with Mormonism, Islam, Judaism all the major religions and some minor ones. So it would be surprising if the early Christians did NOT push back their myth of origins in time.
There is always exceptions to a perceived rule, breaking down any generalization.
Same argument used by Carrier: all ancient gods were mythical, so Jesus was mythical also.
or,
All US presidents were white men, so Obama was white also.
The other thing is argumentation. Arguments from analogy are good arguments.
Not so, as I demonstrated above.
Someone like Pliny is a good source. "Luke" is a bad source. Paul's letters are good sources. The gospels are bad sources.
Good sources can contain false data (such as for Paul's letters: later editing, interpolations and fake ones (like the Pastorals).
on the other side, bad sources can contain good data.
You cannot generalize.

Cordially, Bernard

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