The start of the Jesus story

Discussion about the New Testament, apocrypha, gnostics, church fathers, Christian origins, historical Jesus or otherwise, etc.
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hakeem
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The start of the Jesus story

Post by hakeem » Sun Mar 21, 2021 6:21 am

The start of the Jesus story


Based on my research so far, I have placed the start of the Jesus Christ story no earlier than sometime in the early 2nd century or around c 120 CE.

After having read the NT stories of Jesus I then searched writings attributed to contemporary non-apologetic Jewish writers who wrote about events during the time of Tiberius up to the end of the 1st century.

It is noted in Acts of Apostles that it is claimed there were thousands of believers in the stories of Jesus and that thousands of Jews were converted sometimes in a single day.. Within 2 days there were 8000 converts according to Acts of the Apostles. [Acts 2.41 and 4.4] and later in Acts 21.20 a character called Paul was able to convert thousands of Jews after preaching about the crucified and resurrected Jesus, the Galilean.

However, no 1st century Jewish writer mentioned a new Jewish religion where thousands of Jews were worshiping a dead man called Jesus as a God--not even one.

Philo and Josephus should have been the contemporaries of the apostles, Saul/Paul and the thousands of Jewish converts but there was nothing at all in their writings.

When I examined non-Jewish writers who wrote about events from the time of Tiberius to the end of the 1st century, the result is the same there is nothing at all about Jews worshiping a Galilean called Jesus as a God.

Philo, Pliny the elder and Josephus mentioned a Jewish sect called the Essenes but they are not documented in their writings to have worshiped a Galilean called Jesus as a God.

See Philo’s Hypothetica, Pliny’s Natural Histories and Josephus’ Wars of the Jews.

Tacitus and Suetonius writing at the start of the 2nd century c 110-115 CE also mention nothing about the thousands of Jewish believers who worshiped a character called Jesus the Galilean.

The earliest apologetic writing about Jesus, the Son of God, which appears to be internally dated is Aristides’ “Apology” writing to Hadrian who was Emperor c 117-120 CE. This apologetic writer did not record any Jewish believers of the Jesus stories.

Later, Justin Martyr writing his Apology to Antonius c 137-161 CE also did not record a single Jewish believer of Jesus the Galilean from after the supposed resurrection. The people called Christians by Justin were non-Jews who believed in and worshiped other Gods.

The evidence is overwhelming from both apologetic and non-apologetic writings that there were no real Jewish believers in the stories of a character called Jesus of Nazareth from the time of Tiberius up to the time of Justin.

In effect, the NT, especially the Gospels and the Epistles are not historical writings at all but propaganda of the Christian apologists attempting to place their late 2nd century invented Lord and Savior Jesus in the time of Tiberius.

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billd89
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A slow burn...

Post by billd89 » Sun Mar 21, 2021 6:47 am

Written down. Then disseminated. Slowly.

If a movement or philosophy is relevant to major historians in Antiquity, worthy of elaborate or detailed comment, it's probably more than a century or so old. Established.

Consider tha Philo's corpus wasnt 'recorded' for nearly 100 years, but his works certainly circulated. He was from perhaps the richest non-Imperial family in the Empire and a veritable publishing house of Jewish propaganda. Yet his works were 'unknown' in the record.

An obscure Judaean sect filtered upwards slowly.

hakeem
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Re: The start of the Jesus story

Post by hakeem » Sun Mar 21, 2021 8:52 am

billd89 wrote:
Sun Mar 21, 2021 6:47 am
Written down. Then disseminated. Slowly.

If a movement or philosophy is relevant to major historians in Antiquity, worthy of elaborate or detailed comment, it's probably more than a century or so old. Established.

Consider tha Philo's corpus wasnt 'recorded' for nearly 100 years, but his works certainly circulated. He was from perhaps the richest non-Imperial family in the Empire and a veritable publishing house of Jewish propaganda. Yet his works were 'unknown' in the record.

An obscure Judaean sect filtered upwards slowly.
Josephus wrote his Antiquities c 94 CE [the 13th year of Domitian] six decades, 60 years, after thousands of Jews were supposedly worshipping a Galilean called Jesus as a God, when Jesus the Galilean himself preached to the Jews, many Gospel stories and Acts of the Apostles were supposedly already written and in circulation among the Jews, and a Pharisee called Paul and Apostles were preaching in Rome and other cities of the Roman Empire and writing letters about Jesus the Christ, the son of God who was raised from the dead.

However, all we get from Josephus in his Antiquities written c 94 CE , which is about a hundred years [100 years] after the supposed birth of Jesus is a story about John the Baptist baptizing Jews and getting executed by Herod.

Antiquities of the Jews 18.5. 2.
Now some of the Jews thought that the destruction of Herod's army came from God, and that very justly, as a punishment of what he did against John, that was called the Baptist: for Herod slew him, who was a good man, and commanded the Jews to exercise virtue, both as to righteousness towards one another, and piety towards God, and so to come to baptism..

There was no new Jewish religion known to Philo, Pliny the Elder, Josephus, Tacitus, and Suetonius where thousands of Jews were worshiping a Galilean as a God. Those stories were invented sometime around the time of Aristides' Apology c 117-138 CE.

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billd89
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Re: The start, murky

Post by billd89 » Sun Mar 21, 2021 3:44 pm

hakeem wrote:
Sun Mar 21, 2021 8:52 am
Josephus wrote his Antiquities ... 60 years, after thousands of Jews were supposedly worshipping ...Jesus as a God, when ...many Gospel stories and Acts of the Apostles were supposedly already written and in circulation ...and a Pharisee called Paul and Apostles were preaching in Rome and other cities of the Roman Empire and writing letters about Jesus ...
60 years is less than/about 2 generations. I would want to see estimated parameter ranges for cultic spread; 2,000 'followers' in the entire Roman Empire sounds trivial, tiny, after 2 generations. Compare 10 other human-messianic cults, for example: was Jesus-Christianity really such a 'sleeper'?

Think it through. By 95 AD, a few hundred Jesus-Christiani subsumed in a teeming metropolis like Rome might easily remain unspecified by authorities, unknown in the surviving documentary record. They would have been conflated w/ other Chrestiani still, and further lost among dozens of larger forgotten or misunderstood cults.

The first known history of the Serapis religion was written what, +400 yrs after the national cult was established? Surely, other histories were written, lost. And hundreds of marginal cults (I'd guess) were poorly documented, if at all, totally lost to time.

This one, highly literate Jewish cult was exceptional.

btw, I dont deny possible fabrication of some 'period' documents and the radical revision of others. But conservative #s and the approx. timeline for the cult's development looks plausible to me.

Bernard Muller
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Re: The start of the Jesus story

Post by Bernard Muller » Sun Mar 21, 2021 4:39 pm

to hakeem,
There was no new Jewish religion known to Philo, Pliny the Elder, Josephus, Tacitus, and Suetonius where thousands of Jews were worshiping a Galilean as a God.
That's one of the reasons why Tacitus & Suetonius wrote the religion of the Christians during the rule of Nero was a mischievous superstition. Pliny the Younger, who met 1st century ex-Christians, said he was dealing with a "depraved, excessive superstition", whose members were singing a "hymn to Christ as to a god".

Cordially, Bernard

hakeem
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Re: The start of the Jesus story

Post by hakeem » Sun Mar 21, 2021 5:35 pm

hakeem wrote:
Sun Mar 21, 2021 8:52 am
Josephus wrote his Antiquities ... 60 years, after thousands of Jews were supposedly worshipping ...Jesus as a God, when ...many Gospel stories and Acts of the Apostles were supposedly already written and in circulation ...and a Pharisee called Paul and Apostles were preaching in Rome and other cities of the Roman Empire and writing letters about Jesus ...
billd89 wrote:60 years is less than/about 2 generations. I would want to see estimated parameter ranges for cultic spread; 2,000 'followers' in the entire Roman Empire sounds trivial, tiny, after 2 generations. Compare 10 other human-messianic cults, for example: was Jesus-Christianity really such a 'sleeper'?
Somewhere around 10 thousands Jews were already worshiping Jesus the dead Galilean as the Son of God and Messiah before c 60 CE according to Acts so the new cult could not be tiny.
billd89 wrote:Think it through. By 95 AD, a few hundred Jesus-Christiani subsumed in a teeming metropolis like Rome might easily remain unspecified by authorities, unknown in the surviving documentary record. They would have been conflated w/ other Chrestiani still, and further lost among dozens of larger forgotten or misunderstood cults.
The cult of John the Baptist must have been far less than the thousands of Jewish Jesus believers yet Josephus wrote about the John Baptism cult and not Jesus of Nazareth.

And further Josephus wrote about another baptism cult whose leader was Banus. Josephus even went into the desert to join the cult and remained with them for three years.

The Life of Flavius Josephus
Nor did I content myself with these trials only; but when I was informed that one, whose name was Banus, lived in the desert, and used no other clothing than grew upon trees, and had no other food than what grew of its own accord, and bathed himself in cold water frequently, both by night and by day, in order to preserve his chastity, I imitated him in those things, and continued with him three years

If Josephus had heard of the Jesus cult he would have most likely made a trial or inquired of it like he did with other Jewish sects or cults.

Since Josephus wrote about John the Baptist and a contemporary cult of Banus then there is no reason why we would have to wait for another 100 years for someone to write about a Jewish cult where thousands of Jews were worshiping a Galilean as a God.

billd89 wrote:The first known history of the Serapis religion was written what, +400 yrs after the national cult was established? Surely, other histories were written, lost. And hundreds of marginal cults (I'd guess) were poorly documented, if at all, totally lost to time.

This one, highly literate Jewish cult was exceptional.
Based on your flawed reasoning nobody could have written about the Jim Jones cult until 400 years later.
billd89 wrote:[btw, I dont deny possible fabrication of some 'period' documents and the radical revision of others. But conservative #s and the approx. timeline for the cult's development looks plausible to me.
How long did the Jim Jones or the Joseph Smith cult take to develop? The very author of Acts wrote about the thousands of Jews who supposedly worshiped the Galilean during his own lifetime [if those events did happen] so it make no sense at all to claim Josephus or anyone else could not have done so until 400 years had passed.

hakeem
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Re: The start of the Jesus story

Post by hakeem » Sun Mar 21, 2021 6:20 pm

hakeem wrote:There was no new Jewish religion known to Philo, Pliny the Elder, Josephus, Tacitus, and Suetonius where thousands of Jews were worshiping a Galilean as a God.
Bernard Muller wrote:That's one of the reasons why Tacitus & Suetonius wrote the religion of the Christians during the rule of Nero was a mischievous superstition. Pliny the Younger, who met 1st century ex-Christians, said he was dealing with a "depraved, excessive superstition", whose members were singing a "hymn to Christ as to a god".

Cordially, Bernard
You keep forgetting that the Jews expected their Christ, their Messianic ruler, during the reign of Nero. Tacitus himself wrote about the fact that Jews believed their prophesied Christ [Messianic ruler] would be revealed precisely in Nero's reign. The fire in Rome during the reign of Nero occurred at around the time the Jews expected their prophesied Christ.

Tacitus never wrote about Jesus of Nazareth or believers in Jesus of Nazareth but about Jews who believed in their prophesied Christ [Messiah] who would emerge sometime in the reign of Nero.

Tacitus' Histories 5.13
Some few put a fearful meaning on these events, but in most there was a firm persuasion, that in the ancient records of their priests was contained a prediction of how at this very time the East was to grow powerful, and rulers, coming from Judæa, were to acquire universal empire.

These mysterious prophecies had pointed to Vespasian and Titus, but the common people, with the usual blindness of ambition, had interpreted these mighty destinies of themselves, and could not be brought even by disasters to believe the truth.

The ancient records of the Jews contained no prediction of a Jewish Christ or expected Jewish Christ in the time of Pilate called Jesus of Nazareth which is corroborated also by Josephus' War of the Jews 6 and Suetonius' Life of Vespasian..

The story of Jesus of Nazareth started after it was realized that the Jews were deceived into believing their Christ [Messianic ruler] would emerge in the time of Nero after the Jews lost the War and their Temple destroyed.

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billd89
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Picking and Choosing

Post by billd89 » Sun Mar 21, 2021 6:47 pm

I wouldnt privilege a number like "10,000" - numbers get exaggerated too easily.

Joseph Smith published a book, thousands of copies sold in his lifetime: tens of thousands of followers in 25 years. That's partly the story of MEDIA: the printing press. Likewise, Jim Jones used massmedia, but his followers numbered in the hundreds.

That still isnt a comparison of 10 messianic cults, but you have inadvertently identified a Factor called 'Technology' in the equation: adjust how fast information spread. Compare apples-to-apples, or adjust accordingly.

Antiquity is your period: compare 5-10 cults of Antiquity. When did each cult begin? When was it first recognized? How many followers did it actually have after the first 100 years? You can estimate, see for yourself.

Christianity fits what a reasonable person should expect to see, both in #s and timeframe.

Bernard Muller
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Re: The start of the Jesus story

Post by Bernard Muller » Sun Mar 21, 2021 7:01 pm

to hakeem,
You keep forgetting that the Jews expected their Christ, their Messianic ruler, during the reign of Nero. Tacitus himself wrote about the fact that Jews believed their prophesied Christ [Messianic ruler] would be revealed precisely in Nero's reign. The fire in Rome during the reign of Nero occurred at around the time the Jews expected their prophesied Christ.

Tacitus never wrote about Jesus of Nazareth or believers in Jesus of Nazareth but about Jews who believed in their prophesied Christ [Messiah] who would emerge sometime in the reign of Nero.
But Tacitus did not write about an expected Messiah to come: according to Tacitus, before Nero's reign, Christ had already emerge and then died during the reign of Tiberius, under Pilate's rule:
"Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judaea, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their centre and become popular."
The ancient records of the Jews contained no prediction of a Jewish Christ or expected Jewish Christ in the time of Pilate called Jesus of Nazareth which is corroborated also by Josephus' War of the Jews 6 and Suetonius' Life of Vespasian.
Certainly. But what does that prove?
Another argument from silence again. That seems to be your main evidence, again and again.
The story of Jesus of Nazareth started after it was realized that the Jews were deceived into believing their Christ [Messianic ruler] would emerge in the time of Nero after the Jews lost the War and their Temple destroyed.
Speculation

Cordially, Bernard

hakeem
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Re: Picking and Choosing

Post by hakeem » Sun Mar 21, 2021 7:25 pm

billd89 wrote:
Sun Mar 21, 2021 6:47 pm
I wouldnt privilege a number like "10,000" - numbers get exaggerated too easily.

Joseph Smith published a book, thousands of copies sold in his lifetime: tens of thousands of followers in 25 years. That's partly the story of MEDIA: the printing press. Likewise, Jim Jones used massmedia, but his followers numbered in the hundreds.

That still isnt a comparison of 10 messianic cults, but you have inadvertently identified a Factor called 'Technology' in the equation: adjust how fast information spread. Compare apples-to-apples, or adjust accordingly.

Antiquity is your period: compare 5-10 cults of Antiquity. When did each cult begin? When was it first recognized? How many followers did it actually have after the first 100 years? You can estimate, see for yourself.

Christianity fits what a reasonable person should expect to see, both in #s and timeframe.
Do not the writings of Josephus mention John the Baptist? Do not the writings of Josephus mention Banus? Doesn't the author of Acts mention a new cult where Jews were worshiping a Galilean as the Son of God and Messiah?

Josephus in Wars of the Jews [written c 79 CE]wrote about a man called Jesus the son of Ananus who had no cult members, with no Gospels and Epistles about him, but was a loner saying "Woe unto Jerusalem" in the time of Nero c 54-68 CE.

Your argument has been utterly destroyed since it is evident that it is not necessary at all for cults to have developed over hundreds of years to be mentioned by ancient writers.

Since Josephus wrote about Jesus the son of Ananus then it is likely he would have written about Jesus of Nazareth the supposed Jewish prophesied Christ who was worshiped as a God by at least ten thousand Jews before c 60 CE if he did really exist or that there were Gospels and Epistles written about him.

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