The Historical Jesus

161


Discussion by: ger
Just wondered if any confirmed atheists out there have read Bart Erhman’s new book on the existence of the historical Jesus?  If so, does the possibility of such a historical character advance and/or make a difference to the theist ( Christian ) argument for their god? Or indeed, an atheist’s argument against such a god.

161 COMMENTS

  1. I read the book and thought it was fascinating.  I don’t see any connection between saying that there was an historical person named Jesus and that he was the son of God. All Ehrman is saying is the first thing, that there probably was a Jewish teacher named Jesus who was crucified by the Romans.

    He personally is an agnostic and doesn’t believe that Jesus was divine, in fact he wrote one of the best books on the contradictions in the new testament I’ve ever read called Jesus Interrupted. He wrote this book because there is a little cottage industry of Internet sites and books, much like the 9/11 Truth Movement, made up of people who aren’t experts in the field but pretend to be and put forth half baked theories that try to prove that Jesus never existed.

    • In reply to #1 by Red Dog:

      I read the book and thought it was fascinating.  I don’t see any connection between saying that there was an historical person named Jesus and that he was the son of God. All Ehrman is saying is the first thing, that there probably was a Jewish teacher named Jesus who was crucified by the Romans….

      Interesting. That’s a book I’d like to read. I take the view that the historical figure of the very human person, even without miracles, is still important within a social context. You can’t take the religion out of the context, but you can view it with a non-religious perspective.

  2. ger, you might be interested in the following free lecture sets…by Bart Ehrman…

    http://archive.org/details/His

    …and Thomas Sheehan…

    http://itunes.apple.com/gb/itu

    Also, you might be interest in the critical debate going on between Bart Ehrman and  Richard Carrier on Ehrman’s book and the discrepancies, etc., therein.

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/ca

    In answer to your question. In my opinion, it does make a difference. If the specific person by the name of  Jesus referred to in the NT never existed, then all sayings attributed to him are from some other source, regardless of all the supernatural stuff he is alleged to have performed. Worshipping a none entity or myth as opposed to hero worship, is parallel to worshipping Mithras or Thor…in other words, really asinine. 

    Now it is well understood that at this time in history, Yeshua or Joshua, was a pretty popular name in Biblical times…a bit like John is today, or even BRIAN. OT scholars called Yeshua pre-date Jesus by numbers..Rabbi Joshua ben Perahiah for example…

    “Many people shared the name. Christ’s given name, commonly Romanized as Yeshua, was quite common in first-century Galilee. (Jesuscomes from the transliteration of Yeshua into Greek and then English.) Archaeologists have unearthed the tombs of 71 Yeshuas from the period of Jesus’ death. The name also appears 30 times in the Old Testament in reference to four separate characters—including a descendent of Aaron who helped to distribute offerings of grain (2 Chronicles 31:15) and a man who accompanied former captives of Nebuchadnezzar back to Jerusalem (Ezra 2:2).”

    http://www.slate.com/articles/

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Y

    So it is not unreasonable to say there was Yeshua’s about at the time teaching the masses, or even small groups. It is, however, a bit of a leap to place a particular one into the role of the NT messiah. The character may even be a montage of a number of wise speakers of the time.

  3. I must say that I´m completely ignorant in the argunent about the historicity of Jesus, but my feeling is that the very existence of the gospels, some of which written only a few decades after his supposed death, is in itself strong evidence for the very plausible claim that there was a rather successfull preacher in Israel around that time. So I think the default position in this question should be that the guy lived and those who think he didn´t would have to make a pretty good case.

    Apart from a certain intellectual curiosity it shouldn´t really matter to us atheists wether he lived or not but for Christians and to a lesser extend even for Jews and Muslims the question is of course pretty important.

  4. I admit to not having read it, though I was well aware of the immediate blowback, especially from those who Ehrman roundly dismissed as not having done their research. To all appearances, the weight of any given bit of evidence, for or against, is a subjective thing. Ehrman denigrated those who came to different conclusions, which was unwarranted.

    The large number of gospels that never got to be proclaimed ‘canon,’ that offer wildly disparate stories, can certainly be viewed as suspicious – perhaps not necessarily that yeshua did not exist, but that much of what has been said about him is more legend than fact. That alone damages the idea of using any particular writings from the time period to support any view.

    But let’s face it: while the non-existence of the historical jesus is pretty much a deal-breaker, the existence of jesus is far from the opposite. What matters entirely is what he was supposed to be and do. The lack of any outside source (you know, one without an agenda) providing any corroboration at all doesn’t bode well for a miraculous figure.

    And then there’s the entire concept, which remains pointless. The deity creates an offshoot of himself as a mortal to play around on the planet for three decades before dying as a martyr, for the purpose of freeing humans from the onus that he created on his own. It’s bad enough that he created beings that could sin, and decided that this must carry perpetually through the bloodline, purposefully forcing his creation to remain flawed. But after about 4,000 years he decides to offer a kind of out, performed in an asinine way. Only not really, since nobody has actually explained what was changed with all that.

    It’s far easier to believe that the entire legend sprang up after some noisy preacher was executed by the Romans, dying ignominiously despite his claims of divinity. “Uh, yeah, that was all planned, he meant that to happen. Yeah, that’s the ticket…” And it needs to be said that Ehrman’s work doesn’t contradict this in the slightest.

  5. The gospels need to be taken with a large pinch of sceptical salt. Who wrote them? What was the authors sources?…Bart Ehrman says so himself in his better writings.

    An good analogy to the JC myth is Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes…the parallels are many. Mind you, there are many other characters in literature that fit the JC bill too.

  6. Donald Akenson, Professor of Irish Studies in the department of history at Queen’s University has argued that, with very few exceptions, the historians of Yeshua have not followed sound historical practices. He has stated that there is an unhealthy reliance on consensus, for propositions which should otherwise be based on primary sources, or rigorous interpretation. He also holds that some of the criteria being used are faulty. He says that the overwhelming majority of biblical scholars are employed in institutions whose roots are in religious beliefs. Because of this, he maintains that, more than any other group in present day academia, biblical historians are under immense pressure to theologize their historical work and that it is only through considerable individual heroism that many biblical historians have managed to maintain the scholarly integrity of their work.

    Jesus Mythicism isn’t new…and the answer is far from resolved.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C

  7. Hell no it makes no difference. I’ve met 50 guys named Jesus, it isn’t beyond the realm of possibility that the first guy with that name showed up 2000 years ago. There isn’t any evidence that any human, ever,  has had anything other than a natural human existence .

  8.  And besides, if one set of parents called their kid Jesus way back then isn’t it barely possible that somebody else had the same idea.  Maybe that Jesus wasn’t the first Jesus, maybe he was named for a great uncle or something.

    • In reply to #11 by Alan4discussion:

      The lack of Roman records (and they did keep records) is a dead give away, even before all the conflicting stories in various gospels (not just 4) are compared.
      Really? what kind of records did they keep? Which onces survived? Did they give a birth certificate out to every one? Did they all survive the Dark Ages? Did the store the papyrus scrolls in climate controlled room like we have at the Smithsonian? Did the Visogoths maintain those rooms, after they conquered Italy? Millions of people were born under Roman rule. How many of them do you think we have a record of? You’re contention is absurd.

  9. Just listening to audio of Bart Erhman lectures.  Written historical sources that are relevant for analysis, sure seem pretty scarce and others unuseful, particularly, outside the canonical literature.

    • Written historical sources are pretty scarce in general from that time period. For example, the earliest extant written source we have on Alexander the Great was written over a 150 years after his death. It’s like people are expecting birth certificates and driver’s lic. In reply to #12 by ger:

      Just listening to audio of Bart Erhman lectures.  Written historical sources that are relevant for analysis, sure seem pretty scarce and others unuseful, particularly, outside the canonical literature.

  10. His Hebrew/Aramaic name would have been Yoshua (or Joshua) and would have been as common then as Jesus is in any Latin American country today. The concept of a virgin birth exists in ancient Greek, Roman and Egyptian lore as well as many others.  During that period (as well as before and after) messiahs were as common as evangelist are in Mississippi now.

    I have no idea if there was an actual individual behind today’s Christianity there was however very good post-death public relations and perhaps the single most successful multinational company in the history of the world; the Catholic Church. As an Atheist, I abhor it but as a business man I am filled with wonder and admiration towards its success and longevity. Unfortunately, and like many corporations, their leadership today is weak and their message is stale. Time for a hostile takeover I would say.

  11. Hi Vmar (and mi amigo Paul),

    I share your view that despite Ehrman’s efforts, the evidence is too scanty to decide (as opposed to guess) whether JC ever existed.

    I do write to urge caution in asserting the success of Christ’s religion. Christianity was not, initially, a success, with approximately 1% of the Empire’s population being Christian at the end of the first century, and no more than 15% (perhaps less) were called Christians at the beginning of the fourth. It would not be until Constantine was converted in 312 CE, and conquered the remaining portion of the Empire in 324 CE that the religion became anything near a success. In other words, it took three centuries, and a confluence of events to change the Christian religion (if it even could be called that)  into a successful venture.

    I do think Ehrman makes some good points, but unless we suddenly discover some bold new evidence, the question of Jesus’ existence will forever be unsolved.

    JHJ

  12. It should not be a matter of debate whether Jesus lived or not. What matters is the claim of his divinity. And the most important proof of divinity of Jesus is touted as his death and resurrection. Why cant people see the pettiness in this type of proof ? 1. Can a God of all creations die for the sins of just one single species out of thousands of species ? 2. Can His death be celebrated as a great sacrifice ? Just because he can resurrect himself at will, has his ‘death for humanity’ be claimed as sacrifice and an act of redemption of our sins ? It is put forth for the consumption of the very naivest of us.

    • In reply to #15 by thomaskprakash:

      It should not be a matter of debate whether Jesus lived or not. What matters is the claim of his divinity. And the most important proof of divinity of Jesus is touted as his death and resurrection. Why cant people see the pettiness in this type of proof ? 1. Can a God of all creations die for the si…
      It’s a historical curisoty. You’re basically arguing that history doesn’t matter. Maybe it doesn’t to you, but it is very interesting and entertaining to a lot of people.

  13. There probably was a bloke named Jesus (or whatever his equivalent of the time was) back then. There are still people to this day named Jesus mostly in Latin America or the Philippines – I wonder if any of them are the second coming lol? It is also highly probably that the Romans of the day nailed a guy named Jesus to a cross which was a pretty popular pastime back then because there was no TV so crucifixion was the closest to Fox News they could get. Was the guy divine? Nope. Probably just one of many preachers trying to make a Shekel out of passers by by telling them what they wanted to hear such as they will live forever (the catch of course it all happens after you die with a strictly ‘no refunds’ policy). The New Testament was written by men as a self fulfilling story of the previous best seller also written by men – the Old Testament. The Koran sort of rounds out the Trilogy with a bit of a twist by taking it back to the ways of the Old Testament.

    The same applies to Muhammad or Mohammed or whatever other variants of the spelling exist. I don’t doubt there was a bloke named Muhammad back then either as it is a popular name (the Muslims should actually be getting pretty uppity about the fact that Muhammad’s name is common and should be considered blasphemous to use it for a lesser person than the prophet). This fellow probably got hold of an Old Testament and decided to rewrite it so the Arabs wouldn’t feel left out of the whole ‘saviour’ or god of their language thing and so he could have power over the people who bought into the story.

  14. I’m wondering if Bart Erhman might turn his considerable historical talents to verifying or otherwise the existence of King Arthur and/or Robin Hood.

    To say that there was probably a guy called Jesus around at that time, is a bit like saying there’s probably a guy called Joe the Plumber in the USA, and also a Holy Joe in the Vatican, and an actor called Joe Peschi. The point is can they walk on water or raise the dead?

    If the Romans hadn’t adopted Christianity as the official religion in 325 AD at the Council Nicacea, there would no doubt have been some other hocus pocus religion, with some other mythical “hero” called Brian or the like.

    If Jesus never existed, the early Christians just had to invent Him!

    • In reply to #18 by Mr DArcy:

      I’m wondering if Bart Erhman might turn his considerable historical talents to verifying or otherwise the existence of King Arthur and/or Robin Hood.

      To say that there was probably a guy called Jesus around at that time, is a bit like saying there’s probably a guy called Joe the Plumber in the USA… You are so ignorant about history. The council of Nicia did not make Christianity the Official Religion of Rome.It already was long before the Council of Nicea. I have little confidence that you actually know what occured at Nicea.

  15. I have not read the book of
    B.Erhman, but I will if it is edited in my country. I look forward to reading
    it. As much as I know, is that Jesus is historical person only in Christian
    history, and not in secular history. Every so called proof of his existence it
    can be found only in Christian history. There is no evidence in administrative
    document of great Roman Empire of a such man, except in few lines of writings
    of Tacit, Plinius Secundus, Gaius Suetonius, Josephus Flavius, but bible
    scholars have proven that those writings were a later interpolation into their
    texts, where was not originally mentioned Christ. I have read some beautiful
    books on subject of Christ existence, from Polish author Zenon Kosidowski called
    „Tales of evangelists“, and of course Erich Fromm „You shall be as god“. I
    recommend.
    As I understood there was no single man as a messiah, but it was a
    political-religious movement fighting against Roman Empire, and members of that
    movement were called „christianoi“, and that is a Greek plural which means anointed
    (as a group). Sorry I don’t know English better.

     

    Further more, how can anyone use
    documents from Cristian history and seek of science proof of existence (or not)
    of Jesus in them? Of course that there is plenty of evidence, Christians make
    sure of it. It is THEIR HISTORY, not a history of a true events (independent of
    religion). I think that biblical scholars already did proof that Jesus didn’t
    exist, but it is not a wide spread notion. It need to be popularized more,
    which I believe Mr.Dawkins is doing. :)

    • In reply to #19 by Modesti:

      I have not read the book ofB.Erhman, but I will if it is edited in my country. I look forward to readingit. As much as I know, is that Jesus is historical person only in Christianhistory, and not in secular history. Every so called proof of his existence itcan be found only in Christian history. The…

      re:”There is no evidence in administrative
      document of great Roman Empire of a such man, except in few lines of writings
      of Tacit, Plinius Secundus, Gaius Suetonius, Josephus Flavius, but bible
      scholars have proven that those writings were a later interpolation into their
      texts, where was not originally mentioned Christ. ” The only text you mentioned where it is suspected interpolation is one of the two by Josephus. Also, why are you treating the Bible as one source. All the gosples were written by different people. It was not until later that someone decided to list them in one source.

  16. >If the Romans hadn’t adopted Christianity as the official religion in 325 AD at the Council Nicacea, there would no doubt have been some other hocus pocus religion, with some other mythical “hero” called Brian or the like.
    Actually the Romans did not designate Christianity as the official religion at Nicaea. That event would would have to wait two more generations. But you’re right–as a de facto matter Christianity achieved legitimacy at Nicaea. Constantine had been converted by the scholar Lactantius, whose mantra was tolerance. Constantine himself was tolerant toward all religions. 

  17. Likewise. Been engaged in other things for a while. The new format, for some reason, does not seem to lend itself to as much discussion. Cannot pinpoint why.

    But it was 325.

    Someone look at mine #3 above, no number to give, and tell me how to block quote on the new site. Obviously the old method does not work.

    Paul, hope your studies are going well.

  18. JHJEFFERY – Someone look at mine #3 above, no number to give, and tell me how to
    block quote on the new site. Obviously the old method does not work.

    Here is an earlier comment on blockquoting :  http://richarddawkins.net/disc

    If you right click over the time at the bottom left of a comment, you can copy a link location, and paste it as above.

  19. The new format, for some reason, does not seem to lend itself to as much discussion. Cannot pinpoint why.

    I miss the single page that used show all the Latest Comments, as it allowed you to see what discussions were most current.

  20. Apologies for that Mr Darcy, a don’t know what a was thinking about with that 326 nonsense…mind you a was on the drink….a shouldn’t try being a smart arse on while on the liquor, at least not before checking my facts first, it makes me look asinine.

  21. The new Disqus format is crap. It has obviously chased many regular forum members away. There is no ‘recent comments’ viewer so there is no way of following whose saying what without drilling down into each thread and that is time consuming and a pain so I’m guessing many can’t be bothered. Having to know the proper html tags is also a bind. I’m also pissed off at having to go back into a comment to reformat it after Disqus decides to muck it up for its on reasons. All-in-all, it is a step back in my opinion.

    To blockquote you need to use html tags, as you do for all other formatting, bold type, italicising, etc.I’ve just finished module one last week. That time flew in. I’m just waiting on my end of module thesis being marked. One down, five to go.

    Best stop with the chat, the mods will be all over me again, I’m already in the bad books.

  22.  

    The
    new Disqus format is crap. It has obviously chased many regular forum
    members away. There is no ‘recent comments’ viewer so there is no way of
    following whose saying what without drilling down into each thread and
    that is time consuming and a pain so I’m guessing many can’t be
    bothered. Having to know the proper html tags is also a bind. I’m also
    pissed off at having to go back into a comment to reformat it after
    Disqus decides to muck it up for its on reasons. All-in-all, it is a
    step back in my opinion.

    To blockquote you need to use html tags, as you do for all
    other formatting, bold type, italicising, etc.I’ve just finished module
    one last week. That time flew in. I’m just waiting on my end of module
    thesis being marked. One down, five to go.

    Best stop with the chat, the mods will be all over me again, I’m already in the bad books.
     

    I’ve raised these points but the answers I received didn’t really show any sign of addressing the issues. The old forum was pretty poor. This is worse.

    Bring back usenet! All is forgiven!

    Heck even google groups is better!!

  23.  It doesn’t make much difference to me. In fact I was quite surprised to find that there was some doubt about Jesus’s historical existence. We accept that mohammed existed and various other religious figures.

    • In reply to #31 by Ignorant Amos:

       We accept that mohammed existed and various other religious figures.

      For good reason though…external contemporary sources. There isn’t any for JC. 
      Much more than Mohamed.

  24. The comments about Disqus are of course off topic and we don’t want to encourage that, but we just wanted to let you know that the technical team are aware of the issues with Disqus and are currently busy with a rewrite to the system so that we don’t need to use Disqus any more. Please just bear with them while they do that!

    Thanks.

    Now, back to the OP …!

    The mods

  25. I think the evidence for his existence is almost non existent.  Only Josephus mentions Christ and in such glowing terms one can only wonder why he never converted to xtianity.  The passage is widely considered to be a forgery by Eusebius.  Nazareth didn’t exist at the time he is supposed to have been alive (Origen who was borm in Caeserea less then 30 miles away had never heard pf the place and the Romans had no record of it. Herod wasn’t alive when he was supposed to have been born.

    It’s all very flimsy, not enough to put him at the scene of a petty larceny much less save the world.

    There may be a spark in the story, which is embedded somewhere in the last years of his ministry, but  is quite obvious that the references to his early years are absurd fabrications.  How did 3 wise men get to hear of the son of god being born and then the entire immediate population forget there was a god growing up in their midst fpr 30 years.  It doesn’t stand to reason.

    There is also some thought that the crucifixion may have been a staged illusion in allusion to the death and resurrection of  El azarus. – Osiris.

    Consider

    He was only on the cross 2 – 3 hours and taken down ‘dead’ just on night fall.  So convenenient that the sabbath begins then and his disciples could plead to take down his body before the sabbath, whereas he would have had to hang there for much longer had the ploy not worked.  It also means they could move him in and out of a tomb or tend him unobserved since all the jewish population would be in doors. Was the vinegar sponge actually a soporific?  Who knows, its more palusible than coming back to life and ascending into heaven.

    • In reply to #36 by Vorlund:

      I think the evidence for his existence is almost non existent.  Only Josephus mentions Christ and in such glowing terms one can only wonder why he never converted to xtianity.  The passage is widely considered to be a forgery by Eusebius.  Nazareth didn’t exist at the time he is supposed to have bee…

      Josephus was not the only one and he didn’t praise Jesus either.

  26. As I see it, whole Christianity
    is based upon a divinity of Christ and they categorically defend that position.
    To them Jesus is a son of God (paradoxically, his genealogy bible associate
    with king David, one can not simultaneously be a descendant of the god and
    humans). My belief is that Christ was an invention to sell the idea (ideology)
    of new religion on more personal level. It is easier to sell a „person“ than
    philosophy, or one may say that personification of an idea give it more chance
    of success. Also there is a great deal of symmetry with ancient divinity of SUN.
    Virgin giving birth = dawn is giving light, and new sun, 12 apostles = 12
    zodiac signs, 3 day solstice (after 3 days sun is out of „darkness“, resurrected)
    =  Jesus resurrection after 3 days, etc.

    If I am not mistaken the old
    testament was created during the exile of the Jews from their homeland, and
    while they were slaves in Egypt, and then was created the myth of the savior
    (messiah). That figure was the embodiment of hope for a better tomorrow and the
    salvation from slavery. I think that Christ is only historical person in
    HISTORY OF CHRISTIANITY. A fictional character who has served for advertising
    purposes and a better spread of the new faith. This had been deepened even
    later, as a new faith gained greater and greater power, that would eventually
    become the biggest feudal lord (in the middle ages). I think it’s good that
    atheists have science on their side, because those who believe in god will
    hardly change their opinion about the faith if they do not see evidence that their
    own believe is wrong. Personally I think that to a many believers, evidence
    will not mean much, except to those who think with their own heads. Those
    people who have faith, will believe anyway because it is their default
    condition (faith). Scientific proof of Jesus non-existence is relevant and
    might prevail in that population who are not quite sure in those beliefs.

    Have you noticed that there is no
    history of happy people?

  27.  “If I am not mistaken the old
    testament was created during the exile of the Jews from their homeland, and
    while they were slaves in Egypt”

    You are mistaken. The old testament was written over a very long period of time. (BTW, the order of the books in the bible is completely unrelated to the actual historical time that each book was probably written) At some points in time the Jews were actually conquerors of other and at some points they were being conquered.  Robert Wright in The Evolution of God puts forward an interesting hypothesis where he correlates the attitude taken in the various old testament books to the political situation of the Jews at the time the book was written.

    He claims that when the Jews were conquering others the old testament encourages tolerance toward all people, even non-Jews. The idea being that at these times the thing the Jews cared about was assimilating and governing their conquered peoples. On the other hand when the Jews were the conquered ones the OT emphasizes staying separate from or down right genocide toward non-Jews, the idea being that in those times the Jewish leaders wanted to stop the Jews from being assimilated themselves and wanted them to retain their identity apart from their conquerors. But in any case the writing of the books spanned a much longer time than the time the Jews were in Egypt.

  28.  If you read Ehrman’s book he deals with all those issues.  To begin with he is an agnostic, not a Christian, and not at all an apologist for Christians. In fact some of his previous books, especially Jesus Interrupted, are reviled by fundamentalist Christians because they point out the many contradictions between the various Gospels and the probable reasons for them.

    So he’s not trying to defend any stories about miracles or wise men, clearly they were added on after.  In fact in his other books he explains WHY many of the miracle and prophesy fulfillment stories were added on. I’m over simplifying a bit but essentially he claims that the various Gospel authors had different agendas. Some of them wanted to convert heathens so they made Jesus sound like a Roman demigod (e.g. fathered from a God).  Others wanted to convert Jews so they made Jesus story conform to the prophesies of the old testament (e.g. claiming to be from Bethlehem as the messiah was supposed to be even though he was from Nazareth).

    What Ehrman does in this book is to apply the various criteria that scholars use when separating facts from fiction. E.g., is a purported fact present in multiple sources?  Does the fact support the case the author was trying to make or is it neutral or even harmful to his case?  If it supports his case then it is probably an after addition, if it is neutral or counter to his case then it is probably an actual historical fact.

    So for example that Jesus was from Nazareth was likely true of the historical Jesus. Nazareth was an unknown one donkey town, no one expected the messiah to come from there. He sifts through the various claims in this manner and comes to the conclusion that the most likely explanation is that there was an historical Jewish teacher named Jesus who was crucified by the Romans. Which of course in no way implies he was divine or the son of God.

  29. Edit: Reply to Red Dog (I clicked Reply but it didn’t work)

    I have a couple of Ehrman’s books which I liked very much. But I’ve seldom seen a book being so thoroughly trashed as his latest, and the reviews have put me off reading it. If you haven’t already read it, Richard Carrier posted his review under the heading “Ehrman on Jesus: A Failure of Facts and Logic” at:

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/ca

     The heading might put you off from reading it, but I provide the link – as always – as a benefit to the lurkers.

  30. I was alerted to the question Did Jesus Exist? shortly after I read the God Delusion and joined RD.net in 2006. I think that I must have been aware in the back of my head that the question had been raised, but I’d never given it a second thought, since devout Christians have never been a nuisance around here. In fact, my first post on the long gone RD-forum was a question on the status of this issue – is it generally considered to be beyond all doubt that Jesus existed, or are there serious academic debate about it?

    I was led to a treasure trove of writings on the issue. One thing I immediately realised was that doubting the existence of Jesus has a long history, and that those who are doubting mustn’t be compared to alien abductees, bigfoot-seers, Scientologists or the general tinfoil contingent.

    There ARE serious issues with the claim that Jesus in fact existed.

    Personally I don’t care if he existed, the claims that he did magic tricks are of course untrue/insane, and I’m happy to be in a state where I’m unconvinced either way.

    However! Just the fact that I was made aware of this discussion made me much more confident in my chance meetings with religious people. Before, when I was accosted with missionaries, I simply made my excuses that I really must be on my way. But these days, I always retaliate with my concern that the Jesus whereof they speak, did not in fact exist – so why should I think he loves me?

    I guarantee that this defence is the best way to deal with over-eager jesus-freaks! I’ve had three encounters with them over the past years (in the Metro where they are prone to attack because you can’t really escape). My first encounter went nowhere. I was asked if I had read the Bible and if I had been thinking about it and its message. I said that I had and added that Jesus is a real figure a Spiderman. Have a nice day, he said, and attacked another passengers.

    Second encounter was a bit better. I retaliated with my stock answer, and the accoster replied with his plan-B stock answer that all my question are answered here, in the Book. I said that I was wary of that book because I don’t much fancy an eternity with praising Jesus after I die, I’d much rather think this life is a gift and that we all make the most of it. Ah, yes said the Jesus Freak, we all think we have questions that have not been answered before, but in fact they have been answered, right here, in this book…. He went on before I could go in for the DJE kill.

    My third encounter was with two young boys, 10-11 years old, and this has stayed with me. The boys were handing out leaflets that invited everybody to come and pray in their particular church. I didn’t take their leaflet but started a conversation instead. I didn’t tell them that JDNE, but that I couldn’t come to their prayer meeting because I didn’t have to pray at all. I’m an atheist, you see.

    I told them that atheists never have to go to the church on Sundays because they don’t think that there are gods. I can sleep til 11 if I want to, I can watch morning TV if I want to. I don’t have to drag myself to a church and sit in a stale pew and sing and pray for an hour. This reply confused the poor boys. I told them that the Jesus they are praying to every Sunday, is in fact only a comic book figure, much like Superman and Spiderman. The boys were lost for words, literally lost for words. They hadn’t been trained in counter-arguments for this. And maybe I’m a bit too hopeful here, but I think I saw a penny drop in there eyes there. Sleeping in on a Sunday morning surely beats singing hymns they don’t understand?! I went on my way since I saw a couple of adults nearby who were coordinating the praying invite.

    Summary: I don’t give a fuch if the old scapegoat ever walked the earth. It’s knowing that there is a real academic debate about it that makes me a more fiercer atheist, indeed I would like to label myself as an Anti-Theist. It’s a good thing for everybody to read up on the general discussion about Jesus Existence, and when you do, you will be armed with one more great argument to fight off the Jesus Freaks who accost you on your merry, godless way to the dentist!

    In parting – belated thanks to Amos and Jeffrey who has reasoned so well about this particular issue over the last couple of years and whose posts have been so helpful for my ever increasing knowledge on this issue!

  31.  “Summary: I don’t give a fuch if the old scapegoat ever walked the earth.
    It’s knowing that there is a real academic debate about it that makes
    me a more fiercer atheist,”

    Ehrman’s point is that there really isn’t serious academic debate on the issue. Again, its like the 9/11 Truth movement, there are people writing all sorts of Internet nonsense and even published books but virtually none of them are serious scholars.  As an example of what qualifies someone to be a serious scholar you have to be able IMO to read the Gospels and other documents in the original languages, if you rely on translations you are already reading a biased source.

    As to your argument that it made you a “fiercer atheist”. That is like a Christian saying his religion is true because it made him a better person, e.g. helped him stay away from drugs, that is totally irrelevant to the truth of the topic.

  32. Hi Red Dog (& Modesti) “But in any case the writing of the books spanned a much longer time than the time the Jews were in Egypt.”
    I do not think any serious scholar believes the Jews were ever in Egypt. Some years ago the Israeli government sent a team of archaeologists led by the famous Finkelstein to find evidence that 2.5 million Jews had wandered in the wilderness for forty years and found absolutely nothing. This is impossible. Add that to the fact that the Egyptians apparently did not notice the millions of Jews, nor their exodus, and you must conclude that the Egyptian captivity was just another story. 

    I think you are correct about the political nature of a lot of the Bible. It was terribly convenient that stories of Jesus’ invincibility began to arise in concert with the rumbling of the revolt against Roman rule.
    I have not read Wright, but question his conclusions about times of tolerance. I only do this based upon other examples. During the (wildly overstated) persecutions of the Christians, especially in the early fourth century, it was the Christian writers who pleaded for tolerance. After they came to power in the late fourth century, not another word was heard about tolerance.

  33.  I have read that [Ehrman's Reply] and so have Carrier. He replied with the article “Ehrman’s Dubious Replies”. To me, Carrier has the upper hand.

    You keep on referring to Carrier and those who don’t agree with Ehrman as “mythicists” and compare them to 9/11 Truthers. That is not correct and it is unfair. We now have come to a point where the question is discussed by historians who tackle the issue in the same way as all matters that lend themselves to historic scrutiny.

    If it’s Ehrman’s point to point out that there is no academic debate here, then he is wrong, and so are you. There are many academics who are trained in the languages concerned who are led to believe that JDNE. It’s not especially helpful to the ongoing discussion to claim that the matter is settled, as Ehrman and yourself do, and to pretend that opinions that don’t align with your own are from internet weirdos.

    Your concluding slight is of course true – it is irrelevant to the topic. The point was of course that I’m feeling all the more confident in being an atheist now that I know that there is a serious possibility that there never was a holy lamb at all.

  34.  I’ve heard similar questions about whether the Jews were ever even in Egypt. Regarding the persecution of the Christians that’s not relevant to Wright’s hypothesis. He was talking about the Jews not the Christian and the Old Testament only not the New.

    He has a different theory about the Christians. He claims that economic interests played a big role in the forming of the early Christian church.  Trade was starting to take off more in the region and he claims many of the early Christians were small merchants and business men. Being part of the church gave them a guaranteed “in group” that they could trust and do business with.

    BTW, I don’t recommend his book all that much. It had interesting moments but the conclusion was completely perplexing to me. After spending 3/4 of the book showing all the ways that politics and other real world issues impacted various religions he then concludes that this just shows that some higher power was actually at work guiding everything, or some such nonsense, I can’t even really summarize his conclusion because it made so little sense to me based on what he wrote before. But the first 3/4 of the book where he talks about the interplay between politics and religion was pretty interesting.

  35. “The point was of course that I’m feeling all the more confident in being
    an atheist now that I know that there is a serious possibility that
    there never was a holy lamb at all.”

    And that kind of attitude is what bothers me more than the actual question. The idea that atheists put their  biases ahead of good scholarship and objectivity. Its the exact opposite of what I think atheism should be about. For me atheism is not just about not believing in God but in a belief in rationalism and science. And a core aspect of that world view is that you try to examine truth objectively. And part of that is realizing your own biases. As atheists we are predisposed to believe anything that belittles Christianity. Hence, if we really believe in reason and objectivity we should be MORE critical of such hypotheses, not leap to embrace them.

    Unlike you, I’m secure enough in my reasons for being an atheist that it really doesn’t matter to me whether Jesus existed or not. I just want to examine the evidence as objectively as I can.

  36.  We are in agreemetn on all but one issue, the topic at hand:

    “For me atheism is not just about not believing in God but in a belief in rationalism and science.”

    That’s what it is for me too.

    “And a core aspect of that world view is that you try to examine truth objectively.”

    Goes without saying.

    “And part of that is realizing your own biases.”

    Absolutely.

    “As atheists we are predisposed to believe anything that belittles Christianity.”

    Predisposed means that there is an inherent trait in atheist. That’s ludicrous and obviously not true. Atheists respond to weird ideas when they present themselves. Christianity offers a lot of ideas that everybody should belittle.

    “Hence, if we really believe in reason and objectivity we should be MORE critical of such hypotheses, not leap to embrace them.”

    Indeed. I think you have already leaped to Ehrman’s conclusion, and is in no way open to the contrary opinion.

    “Unlike you, I’m secure enough in my reasons for being an atheist that it really doesn’t matter to me whether Jesus existed or not.”

    Like you, I’m extremely secure in my position as atheist. I don’t care either if Jesus existed or not. But I don’t like the smugness from anybody who claims superiority on the matter, like you do here.

    “I just want to examine the evidence as objectively as I can.”

    But not to the extent that it objectively would rock your boat.

  37. I am very interested in following this debate. So far, I have not gotten deep enough in it to make any statements, and I appreciate the links in this thread.

    As far as atheism goes, I don’t see how it makes a difference, because it is not the question of the actual existence of historical Jesus that matters, but if there is one or more deities that caused either his existence or the myth of his existence. I know the difference makes a difference for Christianity and its position among religions, but I am not concerned with that. Either case still needs evidence to stand above the default position that none of the thousands of deities worshiped over thousands of years is anything beyond myth.

    We have reasonable evidence to the fact that Nero was an actual man who became a Roman emperor. We also have reasonable evidence that he was deified, and the myth of a divine Nero did exist. I accept both of those as facts, but if someone comes along and wants me to believe that Nero is or was a supernatural being, you know I am going to ask:

    Got evidence?

  38. How accurate. This 9/11 truthers comparison is a ridiculous equivalence and a load of hoohay…a red herring and of feck all relevance. In academic scholarly writing, Ehrman, in this tome, has failed to convince and defend his assertion with any substantial convincing or corroborating evidence.

  39. The idea that atheists put their  biases ahead of good scholarship and objectivity. Its the exact opposite of what I think atheism should be about. For me atheism is not just about not believing in God but in a belief in rationalism and science.

    That’s your prerogative…..it’s wrong, but you are still entitled to it.

    And a core aspect of that world view is that you try to examine truth objectively.

    Really? You really think that is what defines Atheism?

    That is your ignorance of Atheism….katt33 is an Atheist …http://old.richarddawkins.net/discuss…

    …or ScientistX….http://old.richarddawkins.net/videos/…

    ….or the debate on NDE’s…http://old.richarddawkins.net/article…

    ….and don’t get me started on the many debacles that have been had on AGW,  had by the-not-so-rational Atheists and the scientifically informed people on the forum…as in Alan4discussion and Jos Gibbonns to name a few

    ….. search the old site for silly thinking Atheists if ya don’t believe me….

    And part of that is realizing your own biases.

    Indeed. And yer own weaknesses. 

    As atheists we are predisposed to believe anything that belittles Christianity.

    Awk behave yerself…why Christianity specifically? Why that hang up over other religions and other gods in particular?

    Hence, if we really believe in reason and objectivity we should be MORE critical of such hypotheses, not leap to embrace them.

    Hmmm…what is it in the evidence that you are not sceptical about the historicity of Jesus Christ…just asking?

    Bart Ehrman makes a big deal about anything in the NT being taken as gospel in ‘Forged’ and ‘Jesus Interrupted’, and his other more academical focused books, then says that we must disregard all this in his latest endeavour….somewhat confusing?

  40. Read Nailed by David Fitztgerald.  I think he puts to rest, as in RIP, any idea that there was ever a historical Jesus.  And, even if there were a historical jesus,  as the late great Christopher Hitchens said, “it doesn’t prove that his paternity was devine.  And it doesn’t prove thereby that his moral teachings were correct.”

  41. “Regarding the persecution of the Christians that’s not relevant to Wright’s hypothesis. He was talking about the Jews not the Christian and the Old Testament only not the New.”
    Yes, I understood that. I qualified my answer in that manner. The point was simply that, all things being equal, it is the persecuted, not the persecutors, who beg for tolerance. Not sure where he’s going with that mercantile theory–I am unaware of any data that suggests early Christians were more likely to be traders than others. In fact, most early Christians were from the poorer class, even slaves (if your life on earth is living hell, wouldn’t you gravitate toward a religion that promises a better life after death?).

    But I think you and I are in sync.

  42. FWIW, on the basis of what I have read,

    my subjective assessment of probabilities are as follows:

    1. In the first century CE there was a man named Yeshua
    (Jesus)   100%

    2. Who was a prominent preacher   100%

    3. Who was crucified by the Romans 95%

    4. Who’s life led directly to today’s religion of
    Christianity 80%

    As one who, on the basis of calculated risk, daily places
    large monetary trades in a climate of profound uncertainty I have often asked
    myself if pushed whether I would put say $100,000 of my own money on
    propositions 1+2+3+4 as being TRUE rather than as being FALSE.

    In the event I would not have any hesitation placing my
    trade on the side of TRUE rather than FALSE.

    This is because I subjectively estimate my chances of losing
    my money on TRUE as 20% and on FALSE as 80%.

    If we added a fifth criterion such as:

    5. And rose from the dead  
    0%

    my money would be on FALSE – with an estimated zero chance
    of losing.

    Other less improbable propositions substituted in fifth
    place would lower the probabilities but less than the one above with some
    lowering it to say 50/50.

    We will likely never be in a position to actually determine
    the TRUTH of the above set of criteria so the exercise merely represents a
    thought experiment whose value is to focus our minds.

    Perhaps only other traders can really understand what I am
    getting at but I would be interested to know where you would put your money if
    you were compelled to vote one way or the other.

  43. Aussie

    FWIW, on the basis of what I have read,

    my subjective assessment of probabilities are as follows:

    This only comes out like this with your questions  if you include the NT bible as a historical record – which it is not. -  It is a selection from conflicting folk tales written long after events. 

    Asking the right questions without question-begging preconceptions is also important.  –
    So I would revise them as follows:

    (1. In the first century CE there was a man named Yeshua (Jesus)   100%)

    In the first century CE, why is there a lack of  non-biblical records of anyone named Yeshua, and why do Xtian scholars include people with other names in their claims when looking for evidence?

    (2. Who was a prominent preacher   100%)

    Was the biblical Jesus one of the numerous itinerant preachers or even a composite of some of them?

    (3. Who was crucified by the Romans 95%)

    The Romans crucified thousands.  Could one or more of these preachers have been included?

    (4. Who’s life led directly to today’s religion ofChristianity 80%)

    How did the authors of the “Gospels” (not just the 4 biblical selected ones), obtain their information and which versions, if any, have historical credibility? +  How much was made up to facilitate Roman/later church  politics?

    (5. And rose from the dead   0%)

    Which claims are just fantasy based on mythical hero-worship?

    There other question is:
    6. “IS THERE  EVIDENCE OF EXISTENCE WHICH WOULD STAND UP IN A COURT OF LAW”?

    Jesus (0%) – Roman Emperors / Herod / Egyptian Pharaohs (99.999%)

  44. The Christian Scriptures (NT) are most definitely not an
    historical record, if only because of the numerous inconsistencies and
    contradictions, but nevertheless they may contain a number of historical facts.
    The challenge for us as historian traders is to separate the “wheat from the
    chaff” if you will excuse the biblical quotation – assuming of course that there
    is any wheat to separate.

    1.     
    Criterion 1 has to have a probability of 100% because
    in first century Palestine around 30 CE Yeshua was as common a name as John is
    today in the West.

    2.     
    It is almost certain therefore that at least one
    of the many itinerant preachers around at the time would have been called
    Yeshua.

    3.     
    It is also highly likely that at least one of
    these preachers called Yeshua was crucified as crucifixion was a very common
    form of deterrent used by the Romans. Therefore I have attributed a fairly high
    probability of 95% to this.

    4.     
    This last criterion is however the critical one:
    “Who’s life led directly to today’s religion of
    Christianity”.  On the basis of my
    reading on the subject (mainly from books and lectures of “scholars”) my gut
    feel is to give this criterion a high priority of 80%. Others may attribute a
    lower score.

    The question is not whether 1+2+3+4 would stand up in a
    court of law but rather where would you, as a trader, place your $100,000 if
    you were compelled to choose between TRUE and FALSE bearing in mind that you
    would lose the lot if you are wrong.

    This exercise is basically a method to force us to internally
    and carefully examine the honesty of our own public commitment by linking it to
    the potential loss of a large amount of money.

  45. With all likelihood Mohammed is a historical figure. Does that mean whatever is said about him and whatever he said ( if he said it) is true? 
    Joseph Smith is also a historical figure but that doesn’t mean that Mormons have an argument there!!

    Buddha, Guru Nanak, etc etc are all historical figures, but by no means it proves or supports theistic ideas.
    They didn’t have the gift of science which we have. We know more than them on any given subject.

    PS: 1000 years from now somebody might find evidence of a Bruce Wayne from 2012. That doesn’t mean Gotham existed!

  46.  
    Aussie  – The question is not whether 1+2+3+4 would stand up in a court of law but rather where would you, as a trader, place your $100,000 if you were compelled to choose between TRUE and FALSE bearing in mind that you would lose the lot if you are wrong.

    This is simply a matter of evidence and probability.

    Your bets could well stand a chance as individual one-off items, but look a whole lot less probable when tied together in the same person.  They look even more improbable when the person is supposed to have biblical attributes.  The court of law is a reasonable test of less than certain evidence.

    4. This last criterion is however the critical one:
    “Who’s life led directly to today’s religion of Christianity”.  On the basis of my reading on the subject (mainly from books and lectures of “scholars”) my gut feel is to give this criterion a high priority of 80%. Others may attribute a lower score.

    The opinions  from books and lectures of  “scholars”, carry very little weight, once we bear in mind that those scholars were mainly from backgrounds with confirmation bias, and that they had no more evidence than the rest of us (and frequently much less). 
    Consensus in cliques of theologists is quite common.  Historians  and archaeologists are much better sources.
     
    The historical evidence shows that the road to Xtianity was built at least a hundred years after alleged events, and did not really get going for about 300 years when it gained support from the Roman establishment. – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/F

    Opinions without an evidence base, are just wishful thinking.  There are opinions on the “true” Robin Hood, the “true” Hercules, the “true” Argo, and the “true” King Arthur!  In two thousand years, there may be opinions on the “true” Harry Potter!

    Science dumps refuted claims!  Theology defends them!

  47. First, let’s get the name right: Joshua. His name, if he existed, was Joshua. Jesus is a Greek derivation of the name. Second, let’s start with the assumption that there was a Joshus of Nazareth, and of course, he would be known as Joshua ben (son of) Joseph. Or, as was later accounted, Joshua, son of Yahweh, uh, wait, Joshua, son of Joshua, AKA Yahweh, and Mary married a really gullible dude. 

    Roman history tends to be pretty good and reliable, so I think it’s safe to assume there was indeed a Joshua ben Joseph (and wouldn’t it be cool if he had a brother named Brian?); who preached all sorts of stuff, but got the government’s goat (no pun intended) by preaching against the lawful authority of Rome. Which is the one thing they wouldn’t and couldn’t tolerate. When it comes to religions, polytheistic societies were always more tolerant than monos were/are. Just add another, no big deal. But the Roman government could never take a movement that went against the rule of their law and (at the same time) wouldn’t pay their taxes (some things never change). So I do agree there was a Joshua/Jesus person, who as time passed, loomed larger and larger in people’s tales. It’s easy really. I actually grew up on the George Washington I cannot tell a lie myth, and the siver dollar across the Potomac (or Rapohannock, whatever). Except we know he didn’t cop to the Weems fairy tale, and he was a mega tightass. Assuming he could throw that far (and Willie Mays couldn’t), it wouldn’t be a dollar. Nor do I think they had that denomination back in the legend day. Anyway, myths start oh so easily, and never die. In a couple of centuries we will start unearthing the actual capsule the baby Kal-El came to Smallville on. Guaranteed. 

  48.  “Indeed. I think you have already leaped to Ehrman’s conclusion, and is in no way open to the contrary opinion.”

    Actually, I don’t think I ever said specifically if I agree with him or not. And for the record I don’t completely agree with him.  His conclusion, I only borrowed the book from the library so I’m working from memory and don’t have the exact words, was that there was no other reasonable conclusion than that a historical Jesus existed. I think that is a bit too strong.   There are no sources for example, that can be considered objective and free from copying errors. Even Josephus, by Ehrman’s own admission, some of his writings were almost certainly tampered with to enhance the description of Jesus. Now Ehrman has an explanation for how he can separate the original Josephus from the tampered Josephus and it makes a lot of sense.  But I don’t think its rational to say there is no other possible explanation than that Jesus existed. It is definitely conceivable that someone made up the whole story and that it got transmitted via word of mouth and then decades later written down. 

    I think its in many ways analogous to Socrates. Socrates never wrote anything and we have even less different sources writing about him than Jesus.  So its possible that Plato just made up the name and that Aristophenes used the same name to make fun of Plato in his play. But that’s not what most Greek scholars think they think there almost definitely was a person named Socrates and in the same manner I think there almost definitely (but not definitely as Ehrman states) was a person named Jesus.

  49.  “Like you, I’m extremely secure in my position as atheist. I don’t care
    either if Jesus existed or not. But I don’t like the smugness from
    anybody who claims superiority on the matter, like you do here.”

    But you are the one who are introducing all sorts of extraneous claims, for example:

    “he point was of course that I’m feeling all the more confident in being
    an atheist now that I know that there is a serious possibility that
    there never was a holy lamb at all.”

    ” this discussion made me much more confident in my chance meetings with
    religious people. Before, when I was accosted with missionaries, I
    simply made my excuses that I really must be on my way. But these days, I
    always retaliate with my concern that the Jesus whereof they speak, did
    not in fact exist – so why should I think he loves me?”

    “It’s knowing that there is a real academic debate about it that makes me a more fiercer atheist”

    By any objective analysis its clear that you have a bias, you want to believe that Jesus never existed and you think believing that makes you a “fiercer atheist”. Those are your words.

    I’ve been reading books about the historical Jesus since I was in high school (one of the reasons I was so popular). I was an atheist even then and when I read The Passover Plot and other books I was thrilled with the idea that the guy never even existed in the first place. But above all I wanted to remain objective and the more I looked at the various scholars and arguments the clearer it was to me that the serious scholars such as Ehrman and Pagels believe that Jesus probably did exist.

  50. Obviously, some of us are not indifferent about this subject. Spicy! Ha,ha,ha,…. Personally, I don’t like it to see that I am not indifferent :) . Some of us think that son of god, named Jesus, existed as a historical figure, and some of us do not believe that. Some of us are quite eager in tendency to convince others in their own view or belief. :) . I was just thinking how it was actually easy to convince people in those days in new religion and a messiah (especially because he has been awaited for so long), all those poor people. We all know that no one from those 4 evangelist did not know Jesus personally, yet they have written their evangelists as they knew him, perhaps in order to persuade wide population in their own believes (ideas) they needed stronger arguments. So what is better than to say that they actually knew the messiah? That is a stronger propaganda. I personally believe that christianity in it’s rudimentary form at a beginning was a good religion, and did not use people, but very quickly became a tool of power, of people eager of power over other people.Religion has become a monster like a monster that suck whole your energy, and become ever so bigger.

    I believe that we as atheists do not advertise enough that there is no evidence of existence of Jesus. Theists have a great industry of propaganda. I just think that perhaps more people would think more analitical and with common sense if a great deal of scientific discoveries about religion would come out to a wider population on daily basis. :) It would take time to educate people but we must not give up.

  51. Alan4discussion:

    The court of law is a reasonable test of less than certain evidence.

    Take an example. A court of law acquitted OJ Simpson. What you must ask yourself is would you be prepared to place your $100,000 on his innocence rather than risk the same amount on his guilt if you knew the truth would be revealed eventually when the fate of your money would be decided.

    What concerns me from the above discussions is that some people (not Alan4) seem to be falling into the same trap of which they are accusing the theologians. Many theologians for financial, psychological and self-promotional reasons have a vested interest in promoting the historicity of Jesus. Certain atheists have a similar level of vested interest in promoting the reverse – probably for reasons that involve  increasing their levels of psychological comfort.

    As a businessman I would like to learn the secrets behind what has been one of the most successful marketing campaigns in history.

    As a scientist I find that the question of the historicity of Jesus and the origin of the Christian faith, that has been so influential in moulding our Western civilisation, to be fascinating in a similar way to those of the origin of the universe, the origin of life, the origin of man, the origin of language, the origin of music, the origin of writing, the origin of cooking, the origin of wearing clothes, the origin of religion  …. and so on.

    I do not want my anti-theist predelictions or any psychological hangups that I might have acquired through life to distort my understanding of these fascinating questions.

  52. Take an example. A court of law acquitted OJ Simpson. What you must ask yourself is would you be prepared to place your $100,000 on his innocence rather than risk the same amount on his guilt if you knew the truth would be revealed eventually when the fate of your money would be decided.

    I don’t see it being a good equivalence. Based on your probability analysis before, you’d have lost your 100 G’s, but the big question is why? Most people understood at the time that OJ was guilty as sin bang to rights. It was the failure of those collecting the evidence and his astute legal team that got him off. The probability of an historical JC is less certain than OJ’s guilt was, yet both get of the hook of critical examination because of lack of credible evidence and astute spokespersons on their behalf. Gambling is always dodgy  but their needs to be real chance for it to be gambling…match fixing or human error invalidates the wager.

    What concerns me from the above discussions is that some people (not Alan4) seem to be falling into the same trap of which they are accusing the theologians. Many theologians for financial, psychological and self-promotional reasons have a vested interest in promoting the historicity of Jesus.

    Not ‘many’, them ‘all’  I would suggest, although some say not, but that is faced with points of controversy in the stories. i.e. the virgin birth or the Pericope de Adultera.

    Certain atheists have a similar level of vested interest in promoting the reverse – probably for reasons that involve  increasing their levels of psychological comfort.

    I don’t think so. It matters less to Atheists than it does to the religious. Most Atheists I’d posit, will be that it is more of interest than importance. Scholars on the subject may differ, but I really don’t think any Atheists have a vested interest in promoting the reverse, particularly for psychological comfort. It’s only in recent years I even realised there was an argument, I always assumed it was a done deal that JC was a real person in history, how wrong was I? But it matters not to my igtheism. I know that whoever he was, if he was at all, he was not a god, or even the son of one…what is god? 

    You must also remember that half of Christianity in the first 3 centuries were also mythicists until it was made heretical and all scriptures supporting it was to be destroyed.

    It’s at this point that the term ‘mythicism’ needs to be defined or should I say Jesus mythicism in particular. From Wiki…

    ” [It] is the idea that Jesus of Nazareth was not a physical historical person, but is a fictional, mythological or solely incorporeal character created by the early Christian community. Some proponents also argue that events or sayings associated with the figure of Jesus in the New Testament may have been drawn from one or more individuals who actually existed, but that none of them were in any sense the founder of Christianity.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C

    As a businessman I would like to learn the secrets behind what has been one of the most successful marketing campaigns in history.

    As a human, I’m just interested in the processes that led to a Jewish cult becoming thee most successful religion in history…what that religion was based on is also of interest.

    As a scientist I find that the question of the historicity of Jesus and the origin of the Christian faith, that has been so influential in moulding our Western civilisation, to be fascinating in a similar way to those of the origin of the universe, the origin of life, the origin of man, the origin of language, the origin of music, the origin of writing, the origin of cooking, the origin of wearing clothes, the origin of religion  …. and so on.

    Oh I’m far less fascinated in the origins of the former than the later. The origins of the Jesus myth, because him being real or not, it is still a myth, makes a good topic for discussion and I enjoy the quest in finding things out for myself in the process. But as a matter of importance, it is eponentially way down on the list you provide.

    I do not want my anti-theist predelictions or any psychological hangups that I might have acquired through life to distort my understanding of these fascinating questions.

    Nope, me neither….that is why as sceptics, critical and rational thinkers, it is incumbent on us all to ask the questions…and the answers should be subject to at least the same tests that other answers get subjected to…if you are satisfied with the answers have been subjected to those self same very tests, and you are confident that they have stood up, good for you, I and many others are not suitably convinced yet. Anti-theist predilection, wishful thinking or particular religious pet chew toy not withstanding.

    The parallels between the myth of Jesus Christ and the cult myth of Sherlock Holmes are uncanny, in a mere century. Perhaps the whiz kid that is Sherlock Holmes might have been worshipped as a miracle worker had the story began 2000 years ago in a time with limited media coverage. My point is, that literary inventiveness is hardly a modern concept.

    The jury is most definitely still out in my opinion, furthermore it is a hung jury at this time.

  53.  
    Aussie

    Alan4discussion:

    The court of law is a reasonable test of less than certain evidence.

    Take an example. A court of law acquitted OJ Simpson. What you must ask yourself is would you be prepared to place your $100,000 on his innocence rather than risk the same amount on his guilt if you knew the truth would be revealed eventually when the fate of your money would be
    decided.

    As with looking at alleged scientists who claim to refute well a evidenced scientific consensus, the court should be viewed critically where there are substantial sums of money being paid to wriggle-mongers to generate (un) reasonable doubts, or involvement in perverting the process.

    There will always be some exceptions and mistakes, but these do not detract from looking for the best option available.

    As a businessman I would like to learn the secrets behind what has been one of the most successful marketing campaigns in history.

    The quality of the product, should not be confused with the effectiveness of the salesman!  Let the buyer beware!

  54. I would err on the side of Jesus’ non-existence for the simple fact – as others have said -of the complete absence of accounts in the Roman record, and the Romans were good at keeping records. There is simply no credible evidence. You would think there would be a statue dated around that time. Nothing! No historian of the first century (including Philo and Alexandria et al) wrote about him or his disciples. It’s all cobbled together after the alleged fact to fulfil prophesy. It’s the whole fantastic attempt to make it fit together that suggests something was up.

  55. As you have probably guessed I have a developed a passionate
    interest in the historicity of Jesus. There are two reasons.

    The first is that I am excited by the challenge of making
    some sort of sense out of poor quality and corrupted data – much along the same
    lines as astronomers do by manipulating distorted and fuzzy optical images to
    extract useful information. The challenge of the detective work appeals to me
    and I am impressed by the fact that there even exists a methodology, such as
    that employed by Bart Ehrman and others, available to analyse such poor quality
    data.

    I have spent most of my professional life as a research
    scientist in the hard sciences (Physics, Chemistry) collecting and interpreting
    data. At one stage my prejudice used to cause me to look down on other sciences
    like Biology as little better than stamp collecting. However, with the advent
    of molecular biology and modern genetics I came to realise that Biology had
    come of age as a “real” science and I even eventually became a biologist of
    sorts myself as I morphed into a multidisciplinary environmental scientist. I
    have continued to move my private interests into “softer” areas such as
    psychology, archaeology, anthropology and history where a story must be
    constructed out of fragmentary and often dubious evidence. A good example is
    the inference of the existence of Indo-European as a precursor to many of today’s
    languages where any direct evidence is almost entirely missing. I have a great respect
    for workers in these difficult fields who are trying to make sense of the
    available data under such adverse circumstances where as a physical scientist I
    would have given up and gone home before I even got started.

    The second reason is that I am fascinated by the realisation
    that there are many otherwise intelligent people who are prepared to swallow
    whole, a large set of highly improbable (and even preposterous) propositions. I
    like to engage such people in discussion about their beliefs and indeed actively
    welcome visits by Jehovah’s Witnesses. I bring out my own book of “Selected
    readings from the Holy Bible” that I have created by cutting and pasting many “difficult”
    or contradictory chapters from an electronic KJB where the embarrassing passages
    are highlighted in yellow. Such encounters usually end up with the JWs backing out
    the front path with me following them with my “Bible” opened. Apart from the
    obvious satisfaction of turning the tables on such annoying people I do have a
    genuine interest in the subject matter itself.

    In engaging such people in discussion, even if I thought
    that the existence of Jesus was highly improbable which I don’t, I would not
    argue from that standpoint as it is both unnecessary and would be counterproductive.
    There is enough ammunition in their Holy Book, with propositions that they already
    do accept, that can be used to demonstrate the futility of their beliefs.

    (BTW I am happy to provide a PDF file of my “Bible” to
    anyone who asks)

  56. I would err on the side of Jesus’ non-existence for the simple fact – as others have said -of the complete absence of accounts in the Roman record, and the Romans were good at keeping records.

    The problem with using this criterion is that there is similarly no evidence for the existence of Plato or Aristotle.

    What we should realise is that, although today Jesus, as the figurehead of a multinational corporation is a big deal with many billions of people aware of him, in the first century he was a labourer as was his father and essentially a non-entity. He was of importance to no more than at most a few hundred low socioeconomic people and not worth the Romans documenting.

    Ask your self whether there is any documented evidence for your first century ancestor say along your paternal line. The fact that there is not any such evidence does not mean that he was unlikely to have existed.

    Such an argument can however be used to discount the biblical claim that over a million Hebrew slaves up and left Egypt one night. That would have represented a very significant proportion of the Egyptian population disappearing overnight and most definitively would have been recorded in the Egyptian archives.

  57. “The fact that there is not any such evidence does not mean that he was unlikely to have existed”. 

    Then, what are we talking about? Of nothing. :) .  There is no evidence that that person existed, and there is no evidence that he did not. So there is nothing to talk about. :) . He is a made up figure, but not the movement of christianity. :)

  58. >There was teacher named Jesus who was crucified by the Romans.

    In today’s world, that might translate in to “There was a preacher named John somethingorother who spend two years in the penitentiary”.  Well probably yes, but so what.

  59. Hi Aussie
    I have a similar interest in researching the historical Jesus.  Would be interested in viewing your ‘Bible’.
    Particularly, in the light of discussions/debates with my Christian friends. 

  60. Aussie,

    That’s an interesting comment about the courts. What we are really talking about here is the burden of proof. In the U.S., there are at least three different burdens of proof:

    1. “Beyond a reasonable doubt.” This is used for criminal cases only (such as O.J.).

    2. “Preponderance of the evidence.” Used for most civil cases.

    3. “Clear and convincing evidence.” A higher standard than 2, used in cases such as where fraud is alleged.

    Obviously, the case for the living Jesus does not pass either 1. or 3., but historians use 2. That is simply: is it more likely true than not. In other words, 51% odds wins. I have no opinion as to whether Jesus actually lived, but Ehrman saying that there is a 51% chance of him being real is certainly not out of the question.

  61. What is the best way to get the PDF of my “Selected Readings
    from the Holy Bible” to those who have expressed an interest? Is it possible to
    upload it to this site (It is about 1Mb in size). Alternatively, I could send
    to relevant email addresses.

    When I originally embarked on my project of reading through
    the KJB from cover to cover I did not intend to take notes but on encountering
    so many disturbing and/or interesting passages I decided to document them on
    the way.

    The PDF has a Table of Contents at the front for easy
    reference and each interesting passage has been highlighted and reproduced within
    its own complete chapter to preserve the context. The document has been
    designed to be printed out and bound into a hard copy volume to serve as a
    quick reference to assist you when engaging in fellowship and “Bible study” with
    brethren who kindly knock on your door at inconvenient times on Sundays.

    The strategy is to be as friendly and welcoming as you can
    but as soon as possible cleverly divert them away from their rehearsed spiel into
    your own agenda. Tell them about how much you love the Bible and ask them if
    they can help you understand some things you have come across that you have
    difficulty with – like understanding a particular story in terms of the concept
    of a loving God or reconciling two passages that seem at odds. You will have an
    inexhaustible supply of easily accessible material at your fingertips and when
    they have “explained” one passage, for example, by saying that God works in
    mysterious ways you can move on to the next reading that you need help on. The
    idea is not to be at all combative but to appear to be seeking their expert
    help. Active listening is the name of the game. I will guarantee that they will
    get tired before you do.

    Although there is an element of “sport” to this activity my
    main interest is in observing the way in which human being are able to rationalise
    in their own minds preposterous and conflicting beliefs and compartmentalise
    their psychology to accommodate blatant dissonance. We all do it to some degree
    but it is certainly much easier to see it in other people rather than in oneself.

    And who knows – by speaking with people with a different
    perspective from ourselves it is even possible that we might unexpectedly learn
    something of value.

  62. The problem with using this criterion is that there is similarly no evidence for the existence of Plato or Aristotle.

    Well of course there is…there is their own writings for starters. The usual retort to the mythicist is that there is as much evidence for a historical Jesus as there is for a historical Socrates, but even this is not accurate….see the following essay…

     http://www.freethoughtpedia.co

    What we should realise is that, although today Jesus, as the figurehead of a multinational corporation is a big deal with many billions of people aware of him, in the first century he was a labourer as was his father and essentially a non-entity.

    At last, the first assertion about Jesus we can debate. What is the evidence for this claim? First, if you are taking the scripture as source, Joseph was a τεκτων tekton, a technical worker such as an artisan tradesman, most likely a stonemason. John Dominic Crossan posits that in historical context, tekton could infer a labourer, but as stone was the popular building medium of the time and we are making stuff up, stonemason works for me. But lets look at the source. Mark 6:3

    οὐκ οὗτος ἐστιν ὁ τέκτων, ὁ υἱὸς τῆς Μαρίας καὶ ἀδελφὸς Ἰακώβου καὶ Ἰωσῆτος καὶ Ἰούδα καὶΣίμωνος; καὶ οὐκ εἰσὶν αἱ ἀδελφαὶ αὐτοῦ ὧδε πρὸς ἡμᾶς; καὶ ἐσκανδαλίζοντο ἐν αὐτῷ.(edit: Disqus doesn’t do Greek)

    ….KJV translates this to…

    “Is not this the carpenter the son of Mary __ the brother of James and Joses and of Juda and Simon and are not his sisters here with us And they were offended at him”

    Where does Mark get this from and why does he mention it? The importance is seen when taken in context with the previous passage…..

    “On the Sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astounded. They said, “Where did this man get all this? What is this wisdom that has been given to him? What deeds of power are being done by his hands!”

    Mark is asking a question not making a statement. Surprised that someone he assumed was a construction worker being so knowledgeable in theological matters. So was Jesus a Rabbi or a tradesman? Is Mark not using the word ‘tekton’ as a literary device to set a scene that here is a common man giving it large to the congregation on the Sabbath about stuff that astounds, how else would a mere ‘labourer’ know such things if not inspired directly from God? 

    In other words, is the man in the story a carpenter following in the alleged footsteps of his adopted Da here on Earth, or a Jewish labourer  who just happened to be touched by God, or did the author of Mark embellish the story he was writing to make the main character that bit special? 

    Was Joseph a tekton? How do we know what Joseph was? Going by genealogy he was descended of royalty, to king David no less….now a labourer.

    Here’s the rub..let me use an analogy..you hear a story about a guy, lets call him Brian,  who gives a presentation in a university lecture hall on quantum mechanics, astounding experts in the discipline…not such an unusual concept all things considered, until you read 40 years later that the person giving the presentation was a plumber with no education in the world of physics. Changes ones perspective somewhat doesn’t it? Is that a reasonable story on the face of it?   

    He was of importance to no more than at most a few hundred low socioeconomic people and not worth the Romans documenting.

    This is what grips me…there is an acceptance throughout the world that this character was a chippy, because the book says he was tekton based on a single reference in a hearsay story written by who, when and where, no one is sure, yet the point made throughout the scriptures that Jesus was known to thousands including the Sanhedrin and Pilate himself, an upstart that wrecked havoc in the big house on passover, but no one thought it worth recording such? Why is this being disregarded? Because it is really wishful thinking? That the Sanhedrin would be convened on the eve of Passover and no one noticed such an unusual event enough to record it? That Pontious Pilate released a known murderer of Romans instead of a lippy upstart, but no one thought it so unusual to record it? I’m sorry, but as credible as some stories go…this isn’t. Take all the myth out of the NT and there is nothing left worth talking about. That’s without bringing the 4,000 and 5,000 that was miraculously fed from a few loaves and fish.

  63. I recently heard of the following video clip http://www.youtube.com/watch?v…, Zeitgeist The Movie Part 1 (Religion)

    Interesting facts and the producer claims that most of the facts are real and he got it from research material from D.M. Murdock (Acharya S) and the bigger question is actually not whether Jesus lived, it is based on historical facts dating back long before “The Biblical Times”.

    I would love to hear some thoughts on this one?

  64. To be fair, they’re planning to replace the comments system with something home grown, so it seems they are taking complaints into account. I think it’s OK as it is now, but some people do seem to have got frustrated with it. I’m not sure more disruption will help that, but it could be all right with a smooth transition, I guess.

  65.  I cannot recommend Acharya S (D.M.Murdock) enough. Author and Mythicist, she has written numerous,highly researched and detailed books on the origins of Christianity: – Jesus Christ is a composite of many earlier “pagan” gods stretching back  as far as Asian influences via the Sun gods, the Bhuddas. Indian gods – especially Krishna, Persian gods – especially Mithra, the  Chaldeans, Greek and Roman, and especially Egyptian – Horus and Osiris. All adapted and evolved: strikingly logical.
    Virgin births,between gods and humans;  the winter solstice , “crucifixions” etc. all appearing from earlier religions.
    Similar beliefs are demonstrated by Barbara G. Walker. This is religious anthropology.

  66. The whole “Jesus was a non-entity in his lifetime, therefore no outside records survive” doesn’t pass the smell test, because that theory utterly fails to explain how such a non-entity could be deified, without any precedent in Jewish thinking, as co-equal to God … within just a couple of years of his death! 

    That theory further fails when we discover that there’s no extra-biblical evidence whatsoever for a Palestinian Jesus movement in the first century. No Aramaic or Hebrew documents at all, nothing, not even fragments. 

    Instead what we have are Greek language theological sermons (NOT “histories”) written by mystagogues from a hostile anti-Jewish perspective, ostensibly using a “Jewish” character named “Paul” to read the Greek Bible (he couldn’t read Hebrew) in such a way as to alienate all Jewish claims to exclusivity with their scriptures and religion. Instead, according to “Paul” and all of the early Christian writers, the Bible is actually all about … the Gentiles! The Jews are evil perverts who spit in God’s face and then killed his only son. So WE Gentiles are actually the Chosen People of God, not those horrible Jews.

    Nothing suspicious or tendentious about any of that, no. 

    It’s all so ridiculous. It’s a myth, just like all the other religions ancient and modern. The whole problem is that people want to read the Bible like it’s a history book, even though everything we’ve discovered for the past 200 years makes it clear that it is not. Placing theological characters in a historical setting was a novel characteristic of Hebrew religious writing, and was later imitated by Greek plagiarists. 

  67. I posted something similar to what follows a while ago. I don’t see it. I can’t think of any reason the moderator would pull it.

    I have not yet read Bart Erhman’s book, but I have read Tom Harpur’s called The Pagan Christ. Harpur is a famous left-of-center Canadian Anglican theologian. I recommend it.

    He presents some evidence for a radical reinterpretation of the bible.

    1. Moses definitely did not exist. There was no exodus. There was no 40 years wandering in the wilderness.

    2. There was a King David, but a very minor figure, nothing at all like the grand being of the bible.

    3. Jesus started out as set of sayings. The myth of Jesus was gradually embellished. You can follow this gradual embellishment by tracking the age of the various documents. I have described it as much like fleshing out the myth of Superman. The virgin birth came quite late.

    4. Almost all of Christianity’s stories are borrowed from other religions of the time. There were many religions very similar to Christianity. The thing that made it prevail over its rivals was Constantine’s adoption.

  68. If all the graves opened and saintly zombies danced about in a Busby Berkeley spectacular, Matthew 27:51-53 you’d think it would make it into the secular records, even if it were just a major earthquake.

    If somebody walked on water, it would at least make it into the National Enquirer. No discussion on how it was faked even in the secular record?

    I should remind all Christians that every depiction of walking on water in the movies was faked, even the one in Remo Willams: The Adventure Begins

    Remo Williams:Jesus!
    Chiun: Concentrate. This is no time for prayer.

  69. Haven’t read Erhman but have read lots of Bible criticism.

    One standard approach is to regard as probably based on truth statements which are unlikely to be inventions because they are negative. Since slavery was a despised status, for example, why would the Hebrews/Jews invent that as a defining moment in their history? Presumably some Hebrews were slaves in Egypt. Similarly, why would the Christians invent a story that their founder died as a criminal? Presumably it was true.

    The OP asks whether the historical reality of Jesus has any bearing on the existence of God as conceived by Christians. Obviously not, since every religions had its founder(s), whether we know anything much about them. Their existence isn’t the issue. Their contradictions/diversity obviously weigh against them: too many cooks definitely spoil the broth in this case.

  70. One standard approach is to regard as probably based on truth statements which are unlikely to be inventions because they are negative. 

    Ah yes, the criterion of embarrassment. This has it’s own limitations.

     Since slavery was a despised status, for example, why would the Hebrews/Jews invent that as a defining moment in their history? Presumably some Hebrews were slaves in Egypt.

    You assume too much. Was it a despise status for instance. The Hebrews were overrun and enslaved many times in antiquity, it was Gods punishment for their discretions. At the time the bible was being put down in scripture, the Hebrews were just coming out of such a period, the Babylonian exile…they would endure further periods of oppression. For the Hebrews it was part and parcel of life under Yahweh, nothing unusual about it.

    Similarly, why would the Christians invent a story that their founder died as a criminal? Presumably it was true.

    The Christians don’t see it that way though. It was a plot, a conspiracy don’t forget. 

    First, in the story, he was crucified for martyrdom, so it had to be the worst punishment the Romans could impose. Don’t forget, it was the Romans that were to blame at the begining, the Jews don’t take the wrap until later versions when the story writer was trying to curry favour with the Roman gentiles. He had to be crucified for a reason. So blasphemy was the chosen reason. The apocalyptic myth was hinged on this criteria.

    Of course it could all just be to fill prophecy or because the idea was plagiarised from other sources. The criterion of embarrassment doesn’t seem to have been a major point of concern to myth makers of old. http://www.infidels.org/librar

  71. The OP asks whether the historical reality of Jesus has any bearing on the existence of God as conceived by Christians. Obviously not, since every religions had its founder(s), whether we know anything much about them. Their existence isn’t the issue. Their contradictions/diversity obviously weigh against them: too many cooks definitely spoil the broth in this case.

    Incidentally, whether historically real or not, Jesus didn’t found Christianity and those founders of other religions don’t claim divinity or have divinity thrust upon them, usually that is the reserve of cult leaders.

  72. “…enslaved many times…” I don’t see how this must lead to glorification of the slave condition, nor to the need to invent an extra episode of slavery.

    The source you give for supposed recurrent crucified saviours in pre-Christian religion is very dodgy – based on the writings of Godfrey Higgins, whose Masonic agenda was to prove the universality of the Great Architect of the Universe. Masons worry me deeply. It took him tens of thousands of hours to convince himself:

    “I came to a resolution to devote six hours a day to this pursuit for ten years. Instead of six hours daily for ten years, I believe I have, upon the average, applied myself to it for nearly ten hours daily for almost twenty years. In the first ten years of my search I may fairly say, I found nothing which I sought for; in the latter part of the twenty, the quantity of matter has so crowded in upon me, that I scarcely know how to dispose of it.”

    [From the highly sympathetic - presumably Masonic - account of Higgins in Wikipedia.]

    The Romans didn’t care about Jewish “blasphemy”. Jesus was executed as “King of the Jews”, a political crime, between two bandits, apparently. Certainly Christians have always had to explain this away – it was, using your word, “embarrassing” from the start. Cucifixion was intentionally the most demeaning form of execution in the Roman system.

    So, no big deal, but the historicity of both Jesus’ execution (pretty certain) and some small scale Egyptian captivity (less certain – most Hebrews may well have lived in Canaan throughout that period) is probable.

  73. I must look it up mate….I thought it incumbent upon me to actually read Bart Ehrman’s book rather than rely on critiques from the mythicist world and the advice of those I know have read it and said it wasn’t worth spending the cash on. I’m half way through it and as it stands, I’ve read nothing that convinces me of Ehrman’s argument so far. In fact it is frustrating in parts. Perhaps that is because I’m reading it with the critiques in mind. Here’s just  a couple of  things I’m not certain about…

    Ehrman makes big about the fact that realistically speaking, there should be no more mention of Jesus than any other first century commoner of the area…rightly so I suppose, if Jesus was like any other Jesus of the day. But Ehrman then goes on the offensive giving it large about the multiple independent written sources from within Christianity, the gospels, at least 7, some of which are supposed texts. 

    Then there is the plethora of oral traditions circulating in a “worldwide religion”. Now, Ehrman keeps reiterating that the miracles in the stories are secondary to the historical veracity of the man, nevertheless, as he says himself, because these accounts exist and they are written by men, they are historical and must be treated as such. That being the case, the miracles are in the texts and in the oral yarns, and therefore are part of that historical record whether made up or not. Is Ehrman expecting me to believe that the stories, textual or oral, were so prolific that they were known the length and breadth of the Roman Empire, “worldwide” in Ehrman’s words, yet no one outside the growing Christian cults found enough interest in story of this crucified upstart of a Rabbi who was mistakenly put to death by crucifixion, then was resurrected after three days, walked among men, and women, then ascended into heaven? An event that is supposed to have happened within their lifetime or shortly before it. No one outside the tradition heard the murderous infanticide tale of Herod, or one of the other astonishing yarns being told about the man, yet were not interested enough to find out more and remark about it? Ehrman cannot have it both ways…JC was a real person and his story was widelywell known throughout the civilised world, but no historian or any other person of importance found it interesting enough to record, or it was just another myth of no importance to those outside the sects who believed it.

    His piece on Papias as a reliable Christian source had me nearly falling of the chair in disbelief. Papias, “a man of very small intelligence” according to Eusebius, is writing all sorts of nonsense a century after the time. He is claiming to have gotten his sayings of Jesus from folk who knew the apostles, or knew someone who knew someone that knew the apostles…so hearsay then? He goes on to comment about the gospels of Mark and Matthew, but probably not the canonical gospels of that name, interestingly enough.  I thought these gospels were all anonymous yet Ehrman says he (Papias) “knows” there was an account of Jesus’ life written by Mark, nearly impossible according to Ehrman earlier in the book, and a collection of Jesus’ sayings made by Matthew, also doubtful. Ehrman says there is no reason why this “man of very small intelligence” is “telling a bald-faced lie”…seriously Bart? Your incredulity astounds me in this book. Imagine an early Christian scholar “telling a bare-faced lie, heavens ta Murgatroyd, perish the thought. So all those miracles must’ve happened then? Has Ehrman ever heard of the “Walter Mitty Syndrome”?…or third party yarning?….or name dropping to impress?….of course Papias would “tell a bare-faced lie”, it was prolific in first century Christianity, it had to be for the sect to succeed.

    Anyway, the book was definitely worth acquiring…I’m intrigued. I’m not happy at the generalisations and strawmanning I’ve noticed either, but I’m only half way through and Ehrman did set his stall out at the start in that someone like myself would adopt this position, although I take umbrage at being lumped in with fundamental evangelicals…I’m just not that convinced, by either argument…but I’m about 80-20 in the mythicist camp.

    I’d be interested to know if ya’ve read the book yerself and yer views on its contents.

    Sorry for rambling on.

  74. “…enslaved many times…” I don’t see how this must lead to glorification of the slave condition, nor to the need to invent an extra episode of slavery.

    Where did I say it led to the glorification of the slave condition? You said slavery was a despised status, I’m saying that slavery was not that unusual a condition at the time, particularly from a Hebrew perspective. It was not viewed with the same contempt then, as it has been the last couple of centuries.

    The Old Testament is all about the carrot and the stick…do as your told and aim to be righteous or feel Gods wrath. Being subjugated throughout their history by every Tom, Dick and Harry that marched through the Levant was supposedly Gods punishment for the misdeeds of the masses, or so they were led to believe by the clerics in charge. That’s why, fed up to the back teeth with it, the post Babylonian apocalyptic concept grew in favour in the proceeding centuries to the Christ narrative. 

    The source you give for supposed recurrent crucified saviours in pre-Christian religion is very dodgy – based on the writings of Godfrey Higgins, whose Masonic agenda was to prove the universality of the Great Architect of the Universe. Masons worry me deeply.

    This is what is commonly known in critical thinking circles as the Ad Hominem Fallacy, attack the argument not the person. I’m not saying the assertions made in the link cannot be knocked down, but it is those assertions that need taken to task, not the persons funny foibles.

    Ironically, an apologist made this statement on Dionysus, which made me chuckle…

     The youngest of the Olympian gods, he is somewhat insecure about his divine identity because he was conceived in the womb of a mortal woman, Semele. Again, this is not a “virgin birth” since “Zeus had many offspring….Zeus had numerous liaisons with both goddesses and mortals. He either raped them, or used devious means to seduce the unsuspecting maidens.”

    ….I guess being impregnated by Yahweh via the Holy Ghost doesn’t count as devious.

    The Romans didn’t care about Jewish “blasphemy”. Jesus was executed as “King of the Jews”, a political crime, between two bandits, apparently.

    No, no, he was tried in front of the Sanhedrin first… accused of claiming to be the son of God, blasphemy, he was only accused of being the King of the Jews later in order to get the Romans to do the dirty deed…

    61 But he held his peace, and answered nothing. Again the high priest asked him, and saith unto him, Art thou the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?62 And Jesus said, I am: and ye shall see the Son of man sitting at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.63 And the high priest rent his clothes, and saith, What further need have we of witnesses?64 Ye have heard the blasphemy: what think ye? And they all condemned him to be worthy of death.

    Certainly Christians have always had to explain this away – it was, using your word, “embarrassing” from the start. Cucifixion was intentionally the most demeaning form of execution in the Roman system.

    You miss the point entirely, it is for that very reason that the character of Jesus had to be crucified. It is a focal point of the story. He could’ve been stoned for the blasphemy charge, but that wasn’t good enough. A spectacle had to be made and it needed the hand of the Romans for full effect. 

    So, no big deal, but the historicity of both Jesus’ execution (pretty certain)…

    Nope. You are starting from the position that the gospel accounts are true and accurate. That is circular reasoning. One of the criterion of embarrassments limitations is…”Another limitation stems from the fact that what we today might consider an embarrassment to the early Church was not necessarily an embarrassment in its own eyes.”.

    …and some small scale Egyptian captivity (less certain – most Hebrews may well have lived in Canaan throughout that period) is probable.

    Nope again. Another of the criterion of embarrassments limitations is…” Embarrassing details may be included as an alternative to an even more embarrassing account of the same event. “…the Exodus story is gaining favour as a cover story for a more embarrassing story in ancient Judaic history, the massacre of a higher Canaanite class by a lower Canaanite class, with some archaeological evidence in support may I add.

  75. “The whole “Jesus was a non-entity in his lifetime, therefore no outside records survive” doesn’t pass the smell test, because that theory utterly fails to explain how such a non-entity could be deified, without any precedent in Jewish thinking, as co-equal to God … within just a couple of years of his death!”

    Cassio,

    This is news to me. Do you have any authority for the idea that Jesus was deified within a couple of years of his death?

    Thanks

    JHJ
     

  76. Ignorant Amos,
    I did reply to your response on the thesis on Constantine’s invention of Chistianity on the previous thread. Please respond here with any comments on the second link that I forwarded. Thank you for the invite and already I am excited about some of the posts on this thread. I am anticipating your response.

  77. Dr. Bob
    “It is most likely that Christianity (as a Jewish Messiah cult) did indeed exist before Constantine – but it was only when Constantine saw it as the perfect way to unite his fractured empire, that it became the Christianity we know today.”

    I agree there may have been cults of the Jewish Messiah but, it wasn’t known as Christianity or resembled anything of Constantine’s Christ.

    “Most of the rubbish people take for granted (such as the Trinity) are Roman inventions – as are the majority of the gospel texts (which are mixtures of Jewish prophecy and Mediterranean mystery cults).”

    Constantine came up with Christ’s death and resurrection from his lean toward a sun god. The three days in the tomb correlated with the winter solstice when the sun is at its lowest on the horizon and sits for approximately three days before it begins its assent in the sky again. Most of Christ’s existence mimics that of many gods born of a virgin (Horus) in Greek mythology. The bible was fabricated from texts of previous scholars augmented and forged to suite Constantine’s Christ story. Christ was a fabrication of Constantine and his appointed scribes.
    Check out this link:
    http://www.bibliotecapleyades….

  78. Ignorant Amos,
    It is my contention that the mother of Constantine, Helena and his first companion, Minervina mother of Crispus, were slaves and being slaves, were probably of the Jewish faith.

    Diocletian’s “persecution”(suspicious term for historical record) was probably a persecution of the Jewish slaves. Diocletian was becoming weary of the influence of the Hebrew slave religion disrupting his edicts and infiltrating even into the realm of his court.

    Constantine was highly intelligent and probably recognized the power wield by the prophets of Judaism. What better way to control the slaves, and others, than enslaving their minds as well as their souls (persons) even into death. Rather than making the mistake of Diocletian, he decided to use this knowledge of the slave religion from his mother and first wife to create his own religion from his beliefs in a sun god and the Jewish doctrine. Evidence of history repeating itself came with Hitler’s failed attempt in creating his own beliefs of the Christian doctrine.

  79. It is my contention that the mother of Constantine, Helena and his first companion, Minervina mother of Crispus, were slaves and being slaves, were probably of the Jewish faith …

    Based on what evidence? Helena’s early life is vague, but there is nothing to suggest she was a Jewish slave when Constintuis Cholrus and her hooked up. She was a Bithynian from Asia Minor, why do you believe she was Jewish? She may not have been very affluent, but why assume she was a slave?

    Not enough is known of Minervina to assert such a hypothesis. It is thought Constantine met her while on campaign,  perhaps fighting against the barbarians on the Danube in 296. Certainly fits according to chapter 4 in.. ..http://agrino.org/greeklibrary/projec…

    …but given the lack of evidence we just can’t go making stuff up to suit our own perspectives. We just don’t know if she was a Jewish slave…probabilty says not, but we don’t know. That is unless you have some source that knows differently?

    Diocletian’s “persecution”(suspicious term for historical record)…

    But it is only a historical record with hindsight. That historians are using it as such I mean. At the time it was just a record.

    … was probably a persecution of the Jewish slaves. Diocletian was becoming weary of the influence of the Hebrew slave religion disrupting his edicts and infiltrating even into the realm of his court.

    I’ll take some citations here too. I have no idea why you would assert such a thing in view of the evidence to the contrary… http://www.fourthcentury.com/n

    Constantine was highly intelligent and probably recognized the power wield by the prophets of Judaism. What better way to control the slaves, and others, than enslaving their minds as well as their souls (persons) even into death.

    Who are all these slaves you talk of? If they were Jews, why would a made up yarn about someone the Jews didn’t recognise, be a better way to control them. If they were Christians, where did they come from if Constantine invented the religion. Are you suggesting Constantine set about converting the slaves of the Jewish slaves of the Roman empire to Christianity in order to control them? Really? Seems a bit far fetched on the face of it.

    Rather than making the mistake of Diocletian, he decided to use this knowledge of the slave religion from his mother and first wife to create his own religion from his beliefs in a sun god and the Jewish doctrine.

    But without evidence, this is as much an exercise in fictional wishful thinking as the New Testament is itself. There is no premise for this concept outside the conspiracy theorists invention.

    I can’t understand why you would tie your colours to the mast of the ‘Constantine inventing Christianity’ mast…it makes no sense in light of the scholarship available. If you are going to assert that Constantine conspired to change the historical record to invent a religion to control a nominal amount of slaves… I’m sorry, but I have to call this theory as incredulous as Joseph Smith’s Mormonism and Ron L. Hubbard’s Scientology…perhaps even more so.

  80.  

    Evidence of history repeating itself came with Hitler’s failed attempt in creating his own beliefs of the Christian doctrine.

    You do know there is 38,000 plus examples of folk creating thir own beliefs of the Christian doctrine? Hitler is just one infamous example of a despot bastardising the ethos of the book for his own ends. But he was evidently a Roman Catholic with peculiar leanings…and there are loads of them too.

  81. Agarnier

    Have to take issue with your crediting Constantine with so much of the Christian success. This idea was floated by Gibbon and promoted by Burchardt, but with little evidence execpt the same assumption  you make with regard to Constantine’s high intelligence.  He was,  in fact, led to the religion by his slave Lactantius. I am absolutely unaware of any evidence that Minervina was anything other than Balkan–as was Constantine. I think if you insert ignorant but ruthless instead of  intelligent,you might have  a better portrait of  Constantine. It is impossible that Helena  was a slave.

    Diocletian feared  no slave revolt. This is anachronistic thinking.  His edicts of 303CE were designed to stimulate the economy by sacrificing domestic animals (an economy he had wounded in part by overpaying his troops for their loyalty).

  82. Ignorant Amos,
    “First of all, not enough is known of Minervina to assert such a hypothesis. It is thought Constantine met her while on campaign, perhaps fighting against the barbarians on the Danube in 296. Certainly fits according to chapter 4″

    Though very well written the author Steven Rangoussis admittedly and obviously wrote Blood and the Imperial Purple as Historical fiction. When arguing fact, I contend one fiction as good as another. Constantine would agree.

    “I’ll take some citations here too. I have no idea why you would assert such a thing in view of the evidence to the contrary… http://www.fourthcentury.com/n…“

    Your source of historical evidence is based on the efforts of the Lutheran church. Not exactly an unbiased source in debunking religious history. The chronology of events as listed are not in question but, the group being targeted by persecution were most likely Jewish as Christianity was not yet invented. Both Eusebius and Lactantius were advisor and historian to Constantine and both had good reason to despise Diocletian and Galerius. They both worked in Nicomidia and quite possibly were part of the grand scheme of Constantine in manufacturing his Christian religion.

    “Who are all these slaves you talk of? If they were Jews, why would a made up yarn about someone the Jews didn’t recognise, be a better way to control them. If they were Christians, where did they come from if Constantine invented the religion. Are you suggesting Constantine set about converting the slaves of the Jewish slaves of the Roman empire to Christianity in order to control them? Really? Seems a bit far fetched on the face of it.”

    The Jews do not accept Christ to this day. It wasn’t Constantine’s sole intent to control just Jews. His idea offered all who were forced into accepting the story, reincarnation in an afterlife for immortality, either in Heaven or in Hell. The concept gripped the human psyche and offered a human sacrifice in the form of gods own son or “sun”. http://www.bibliotecapleyades….
    It demanded adherence to the lie or, suffer everlasting damnation. It also offered some future hope to those in life long pain and misery especially slaves, of which many were Hebrew Jews. It was ingenious.

    All other religions, except for Judaism, was ordered disbanded and removed from the known world under pain of death to anyone who practiced them, even his own belief in a sun god. Moon worshipers were deemed to be lunatics and others pagans. He could not condemn Judaism as it was the basis of his Christ story being their Messiah. Otherwise, Judaism would be just another myth in history today.

    The most puzzling of these “God of Abraham” religions is that of Islam. As militant as Christianity would become, it pales in comparison to the militancy and absolute dictates of Islam. But, that didn’t raise its ugly head until centuries later.

  83. “You do know there is 38,000 plus examples of folk creating thir own beliefs of the Christian doctrine? Hitler is just one infamous example of a despot bastardising the ethos of the book for his own ends. But he was evidently a Roman Catholic with peculiar leanings…and there are loads of them too.”

    I did not know there were that many pretenders to Christianity. Apparently, there are less pretenders to Judaism, Christianity and Islam being the main contenders. Hitler failed where Constantine and Muhammad succeeded.

  84. I did not know there were that many pretenders to Christianity.

    They are only pretenders if your premise of Christianity being invented by Constantine is right, which I don’t think it is.

    Apparently, there are less pretenders to Judaism,…

     Pretenders is the wrong word…Judaism is a conglomerate of earlier belief systems.

    …Christianity and Islam being the main contenders.

    Neither are pretenders…they are variations on a theme.

    Hitler failed where Constantine and Muhammad succeeded.

    Hitler didn’t invent anything…he took the cult of Aryanism anti-mixed in anti-semitism to promote his supremacist ideas, but he was Catholic. Interestingly enough, the neo-Nazi cult still exists and there is a gnostic style cult religion based at the Tempelhofgesellschaft in Austria. A Christian grounded cult at that.

  85. Though very well written the author Steven Rangoussis admittedly and obviously wrote Blood and the Imperial Purple as Historical fiction.

    Yes it is, and I made that clear. My point is…if made up stuff is going to be accepted as fact, it’s at least more viable than your Jewish slave girl idea. There is no evidence either way…so conjecture is all there is and we don’t do conjecture on this site as a viable argument.

    When arguing fact, I contend one fiction as good as another.

    That is kind of my point…it isn’t good at all. Your whole hypothesis is fiction so far.

    Your source of historical evidence is based on the efforts of the Lutheran church. Not exactly an unbiased source in debunking religious history.

    You are clearly unaware of how this works. The source is only biased if the information is inaccurate or slewed to give a particular perspective…in this case, it isn’t. You need to refute the material. The reason for that particular link is the list is in one place…but that doesn’t effect the historical worth. If it is a more intellectual source you want… here is just one for just one example on that list of a biased source. http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/h

    The chronology of events as listed are not in question but, the group being targeted by persecution were most likely Jewish as Christianity was not yet invented.

    So you keep saying… but you have yet to demonstrate how this is the case and why with any citation.

     

    Both Eusebius and Lactantius were advisor and historian to Constantine and both had good reason to despise Diocletian and Galerius. They both worked in Nicomidia and quite possibly were part of the grand scheme of Constantine in manufacturing his Christian religion.

    Here is my problem, you have just skewed history there in two lines, but have supplied no evidence for your reasons. All in the face of reams of scholarly work in the field. Lactantius became advisor late on, Eussebius did have Constantine’s favour until he lost out at Nicaea. But to hold up your position, you need to change the historical record, and to do that, you need some extraordinary support indeed.

    The Jews do not accept Christ to this day.

    But according to you, they started in the fourth century because a pagan emperor invented the idea to control them.

    It wasn’t Constantine’s sole intent to control just Jews.

    The Roman empire had been controlling Jews for centuries prior to Constantine, so I should think it wasn’t. Who else did he want to control and why? Remember, citations please.

    His idea offered all who were forced into accepting the story, reincarnation in an afterlife for immortality, either in Heaven or in Hell.

    Read that sentence again please and tell me again why it is reasonable.

    The concept gripped the human psyche and offered a human sacrifice in the form of gods own son or “sun”. http://www.bibliotecapleyades….

    That the Jesus myth is a mongrel of other myths is not in question, what is in question is the assertion that Constantine invented it. BTW, Murdock is not a great source. this is what Carrier has to say about her…

    “She simply cites other people making the same mistake she did, as if a mistake many people make ceases to be a mistake, which is a non sequitur. It would have been better if she had not doubled down on her error and just corrected herself.”

    Repeating an error only spreads the erroneous meme. Silly idea is still a silly idea.

    It demanded adherence to the lie or, suffer everlasting damnation. It also offered some future hope to those in life long pain and misery especially slaves, of which many were Hebrew Jews. It was ingenious.

    Non of this is being contended here, just where it started…historical sources existing prior to Constantine, means that the nonsense existed before Constantine. To suggest that Constantine was able to doctor the historical record is preposterous and a mountain of work for a nominal return.

    All other religions, except for Judaism, was ordered disbanded and removed from the known world under pain of death to anyone who practiced them, even his own belief in a sun god.

    This is just not true. The cult of Roman Mithrism was a brotherhood cult of the Roman army, are you expecting me to believe that Constantine was prepared to alienate his army in order to control the slaves by putting his pagan worshipping soldiers to death while allowing Judaism to be openly practised? Granted, he did pillage the pagan coffers late in his reign, but Christian writers claim he didn’t convert to Christianity until near his death. He didn’t even make Christianity the state religion, that was  Theodosius I briefly in 391.

    Moon worshipers were deemed to be lunatics…

    You are getting this arse backwards…the word ‘lunatic’ has nothing to do with worship of the moon, it has gained this nonsense idea through ignorance…http://http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?t...

     

    …and others pagans.

    Again, the word pagan is a late word…it means heathen worshipper and was created post Christianity to mean those that worship outside Christianity. Incidentally, notice the reference to Tertullian in the link.   http://www.etymonline.com/inde

    He could not condemn Judaism as it was the basis of his Christ story being their Messiah. Otherwise, Judaism would be just another myth in history today.

    I’m finding your assertions are starting to get ludicrous now. If he invented the religion as you say, he could’ve invented anything he liked… understand what early Christianity believed and what a messiah was, before put your money on a three legged donkey. I don’t think you know what the Christian texts profess otherwise you’d know how ridiculous the idea of Constantine inventing it really is. Christianity was an apocalyptic Jewish cult for the first 100 years…it changed with Johnine concepts of Jesus’ divinity. If Constantine invented the cult, it makes no sense to do it this way whatsoever.

    The most puzzling of these “God of Abraham” religions is that of Islam. As militant as Christianity would become, it pales in comparison to the militancy and absolute dictates of Islam. But, that didn’t raise its ugly head until centuries later.

    Again, this shows ignorance…Islam has a long way to catch up on Christianity…it’s certainly making an effort, but in its heyday, Christianity is unsurpassed,  Islam is a novice.

  86. “All other religions, except for Judaism, was ordered disbanded and removed from the known world under pain of death to anyone who practiced them, even his own belief in a sun god.”

    This is simply not true. I don’t know where you are getting this. Constantine was schooled by Lactantius. who preached toleration in his “Divine Institutes.” Constantine would practice toleration until his death. He never ordered any religion disbanded.

    I also cannot make sense of your hypothesis that Constantine “invented” Christianity. There remain extant Greek fragments of scripture which precede Constantine by hundreds of years (constantine did not read Greek).

    If youu want a good start on current scholarship on the issue, I recommend “Constantine and the Bishops” by H.A. Drake.
    And Paul, where did you get the idea that Eusebius felll out of favor with Constantine. Eusebius may have been theologicaly facile, but his loyalty to the emperor (whose biography he wrote) has never been questioned. While it is true that mostt of what we learn about their relationship is filtered through the writings of Eusebius, there is no credible rejoinder to his version.

  87. JHJ,
    I did not say he came up with Christianity on his own. He obviously had help from Lactantius, Eusebius and probably hundreds of hand picked scribes and apprentices. Nor did I say that Eusebius fell out with Constantine. On the contrary, I said he fell out with Diocletian and Galerius, which endeared him with Constantine even more. Lactantius also tutored Constantine’s son Crispus in Nicomedia. Eusebius also work from Nicomedia for Constantine.

  88. …”Yes it is, and I made that clear. My point is…if made up stuff is going to be accepted as fact, it’s at least more viable than your Jewish slave girl idea. There is no evidence either way…so conjecture is all there is and we don’t do conjecture on this site as a viable argument. That is kind of my point…it isn’t good at all. Your whole hypothesis is fiction so far.”…

    I find your statement duplicable and duplicitous and it could readily apply to your claims of validity. They are more hypothesis than empirical evidence. THERE IS NO “UNAMBIGUOUS” EVIDENCE OF CHRIST’S EXISTENCE BEFORE THE 4th CENTURY. Your conjecture is that the bastardization of history by Constantine and his scribes is fiction but, you have no proof to the contrary except the self perpetuating lie of Christian doctrine.

    …”You are clearly unaware of how this works. The source is only biased if the information is inaccurate or slewed to give a particular perspective…in this case, it isn’t. You need to refute the material. The reason for that particular link is the list is in one place…but that doesn’t effect the historical worth. If it is a more intellectual source you want… here is just one for just one example on that list of a biased source. http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/h… Here is my problem, you have just skewed history there in two lines, but have supplied no evidence for your reasons. All in the face of reams of scholarly work in the field. Lactantius became advisor late on, Eussebius did have Constantine’s favour until he lost out at Nicaea. But to hold up your position, you need to change the historical record, and to do that, you need some extraordinary support indeed.”…

    I disagree with your conclusion that your information has not been skewed or is accurate. The evidence you present is far from irrefutable. As you earlier mentioned, there are thousands of aberrations of Christianity. Mormonism was founded with it’s own Book Of Mormon by Joseph Smith Jr. I am sure that all have their founders and authors just as Christianity itself with Constantine. The Holy Bible with its New Testament was an aberration of the Jewish faith and Torah and was instituted by a reign of holy terror by one of the most ruthless and successful emperors in human history.

  89. There remain extant Greek fragments of scripture which precede Constantine by hundreds of years (constantine did not read Greek).

    They have been miss dated according to the Constantine conspiracy…all the scholarship has got it incredibly wrong, apparently.

    If youu want a good start on current scholarship on the issue, I recommend “Constantine and the Bishops” by H.A. Drake.

    That’s all propaganda too.

    And Paul, where did you get the idea that Eusebius felll out of favor with Constantine. Eusebius may have been theologicaly facile, but his loyalty to the emperor (whose biography he wrote) has never been questioned. While it is true that mostt of what we learn about their relationship is filtered through the writings of Eusebius, there is no credible rejoinder to his version.

    Sorry, not Eusebius falling out of favour with Constantine, rather Constantine with Eusebius, or should I say, Eusebius’ Arian views and Monarchianism, as Constantine went with trinitarinism.
    My point was to demonstrate that there was a flavours of Christianity at the council of Nicaea that were at odds with each other. That doesn’t sit well with the current conspiracy theory under examination.

  90. Probably the Earliest Surviving Image of the Crucifixion: A Graffito (Circa 50 CE – 250 CE)
    http://www.historyofinformatio

     The Montanists where preaching and worshipping Christianity before Constantine. The most likely occurrence of a pre-Constantinian cross symbol would be found in Phrygia, where believers openly identified themselves as Christian. As Tabernee shows there may be a Latin cross on the top of the Christian for Christian tombstone prepared for Satorneinos. The stone should be dated 242-243 CE.

    Here’s a slack handful of sources…  http://www.google.co.uk/search

  91. Rebuttal to Christ being the Jewish Messiah.

    Mate….your sentence makes no sense. Christ, Greek for messiah, was not the Jewish messiah? I’m assuming you are referring to Jesus. So, the Jewish Jesus the messiah was not ‘the’ Jewish messiah.

    I don’t understand the reason for the rebuttal. I certainly don’t think Jesus was a messiah, I’m having difficulties with the idea Jesus existed at all.No matter. Did the Jews and Gentiles that converted to Christianity think he was the prophecy messiah of the Old Testament, apparently so. Does the New Testament infer such an idea? Absolutely. Did the Jews who didn’t convert to Christianity have any truck with the idea, apparently not.

    “The translation of the Hebrew word Mašíaḥ as Χριστός (Khristós) in the Greek Septuagint became the accepted Christian designation and title of Jesus of Nazareth. Christians believe that prophecies in the Hebrew Bible (especially Isaiah) refer to a spiritual savior and believe Jesus to be that Messiah (Christ).

    Your rebuttals are red herrings.and have no bearing on the Constantine invented Christianity argument.

    BTW, there is no such a thing as ‘the’ Jewish messiah as in Jesus is ‘the’ messiah. The word messiah just means ‘anointed one’. The Jews were waiting on the prophecy of a messiah being fulfilled. A king of the Jews will come and take them out of persecution. Messiah referred to ‘anointed one’, kings were anointed, priests were anointed, in fact it also referred to some outside the Hebrew religion.Don’t conflate messiah with divine, this is a later idea beginning with the Johnine gospel. The belief system in the early decades of Christianity was apocalyptic…in other words, Jesus would return in the lifetime of those writing about him as stated in Mark 13:30, “Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place”, and he would rule over the Kingdom of God here on Earth, after the battle between good and evil had been won. Jesus would be king, the anointed one, messiah, or Christos in Greek if ya like, and the disciples would be at his side.  This is how it is laid out in the synoptic gospels and the Pauline letters. When the gospel of John was being concocted, it was obvious that Jesus had not returned ‘in a generation’, and so, a different tact had to be adopted. Now if Constantine invented the religion as you believe, wouldn’t it be absurd to include what is obviously a patent lie and obviously so? Don’t you think that someone might have noticed that it’s been 300 years and no returning Jesus has appeared?  The criterion of dissimilarity. This is one of many reasons that a Christianity invented by Constantine is not a reasonable assertion. The idea had to be have floating about to within 40 years or so of the alleged crucifixion date of the character Jesus…regardless of whether a crucified Jesus was real or otherwise. This is why an understanding of what the scriptures actually say, and the Zeitgeist in which they were written is important. This is  one of the ways how scholars can work out when stuff was written.

  92. I find your statement duplicable and duplicitous and it could readily apply to your claims of validity. They are more hypothesis than empirical evidence.

    Unfortunately, that is the problem with history…especially if we are allowed to make stuff up. You have yet to rebuke or admit the problems with your Jewish slave wife and mother of Constantine for example.

    THERE IS NO “UNAMBIGUOUS” EVIDENCE OF CHRIST’S EXISTENCE BEFORE THE 4th CENTURY.

    Only if you insist that every last piece of evidence was also invented with hindsight in order to facilitate the conspiracy. That’s analgous with the YEC idea that the fossil record is the work of Satan. If you insist on that tact, then nothing is going to convince you how wrong you are, because anything presented can be dismissed out of hand as the work of Constantine and his cohorts. I thought you were a rational critical thinker, but if that is your approach, then perhaps not. Your assertions are lacking in any substance so far. 

    Your conjecture is that the bastardization of history by Constantine and his scribes is fiction but, you have no proof to the contrary except the self perpetuating lie of Christian doctrine.

    Only because you have bought the yarn of Constantine’s invented Christianity hook, line and sinker. I had an argument on Sunday with a fellow in the club on the moon landing conspiracy. There was no way he was having it that man has been to the moon. Whatever I produced as evidence, he refuted as being part of the conspiracy. There is no winning such an argument. It is religious in that anything that is impossible can be overcome by the ‘god can do anything’ retort. 

    You have not presented anything that has supported your position. The burden of proof is on you as the one making the assertion. You have not proven that the pre-Contantine Christians are all made up to lend credence to your conspiracy theory.

    I disagree with your conclusion that your information has not been skewed or is accurate. The evidence you present is far from irrefutable.

    I know you disagree, that is why this discussion is happening, but you disagree in the face of the consensus of most scholars in the field. If you are going to take this line, then you need something of substance to back you up.  The evidence I am presenting may well be far from irrefutable, but you need to refute it, not just say that the web page I asked you to look at is biased and therefore doesn’t count. As far as that goes, your links are the same, but I wouldn’t use the ad hom fallacy if they contained evidence to support your position, I’d attack your so-called evidence.

    As you earlier mentioned, there are thousands of aberrations of Christianity. Mormonism was founded with it’s own Book Of Mormon by Joseph Smith Jr. I am sure that all have their founders and authors just as Christianity itself with Constantine. The Holy Bible with its New Testament was an aberration of the Jewish faith and Torah and was instituted by a reign of holy terror by one of the most ruthless and successful emperors in human history.

    The thousands of aberrations were mentioned in context to your Hitler suggestion, which was based in Christianity…Catholic Christianity for one part at least.
    It is completely non analogous to a Constantine invention of Christianity…the Book of Mormon can demonstrably be seen as a Joseph Smith invention, there was no mention of any of Mormon nonsense pre-Smith and his crackpot ideas.  But anyway, it is a non-sequitur, none of this supports your assertion of a Constantine invented Christianity.

  93.  Nor did I say that Eusebius fell out with Constantine.

     
    Jerry never suggested you did say that. 

    On the contrary, I said he fell out with Diocletian and Galerius, which endeared him with Constantine even more.

    How do you know? 

    Lactantius also tutored Constantine’s son Crispus in Nicomedia. Eusebius also work from Nicomedia for Constantine.

    I really wouldn’t go down the route of lecturing Jerry on Lactantius….he is very well read on this man and Jerry’s thesis on the subject received critical acclaim from a world renowned expert in the field. I know this, because I’ve read his thesis and the critical acclamation he received from none other than Elizabeth Depalma Digeser, look her up.

  94. Ignorant Amos,
    The following links provide more evidence of Constantine’s creation and institution of his pagan concept of Jewish prophecy. The foundation laid by Constantine’s “Sunday law” is the reason why Saturday and Sunday keepers worship on the days they do. The decrees of Nicæa legislated into place an entire counterfeit system of religion with its pagan solar calendar. Thus the knowledge of the Creator’s calendar with His true seventh-day Sabbath has been buried under the accumulated weight of centuries of continuously cycling weeks. http://www.worldslastchance.co
    http://www.answering-christian

  95. Constantine’s decree: “On the venerable Day of the Sun let the magistrates and people residing in cities rest, and let all workshops be closed.” (Constantine, March 7, 321. Codex Justinianus lib. 3, tit. 12, 3; trans. in Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, Vol. 3, p. 380, note 1)
    Constantine did not change the Sabbath to Sunday, he merely created the first “Sunday closure law” because Christians had been worshipping on the first day of the week since apostolic times.

    “90AD DIDACHE: “Christian Assembly on the Lord’s Day: 1. But every Lord’s day do ye gather yourselves together, and break bread, and give thanksgiving after having confessed your transgressions, that your sacrifice may be pure. 2. But let no one that is at variance with his fellow come together with you, until they be reconciled, that your sacrifice may not be profaned. 3. For this is that which was spoken by the Lord: In every place and time offer to me a pure sacrifice; for I am a great King, saith the Lord, and my name is wonderful among the nations.” (Didache: The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles, Chapter XIV)”

    “100 AD BARNABAS “We keep the eighth day [Sunday] with joyfulness, the day also on which Jesus rose again from the dead” (The Epistle of Barnabas, 100 AD 15:6-8).”

    The Roman week was 8 days until Constantine eventually established the seven-day week in the Roman calendar in AD 321. Nothing to do with changing the Sabbath to a Sunday, the Christians always worshipped on the Lord’s Day, day after the Sabbath.

    “100 AD BARNABAS: Moreover God says to the Jews, ‘Your new moons and Sabbaths 1 cannot endure.’ You see how he says, ‘The present Sabbaths are not acceptable to me, but the Sabbath which I have made in which, when I have rested [heaven: Heb 4] from all things, I will make the beginning of the eighth day which is the beginning of another world.’ Wherefore we Christians keep the eighth day for joy, on which also Jesus arose from the dead and when he appeared ascended into heaven. (15:8f, The Epistle of Barnabas, 100 AD, Ante-Nicene Fathers , vol. 1, pg. 147)”

    Even Eusebius…

    “300 AD Eusebius of Caesarea “They [the pre- Mosaic saints of the Old Testament] did not care about circumcision of the body, neither do we [Christians]. They did not care about observing Sabbaths, nor do we. They did not avoid certain kinds of food, neither did they regard the other distinctions which Moses first delivered to their posterity to be observed as symbols; nor do Christians of the present day do such things” (Church History 1:4:8).”

    There are many just such citations.

    BTW, there have been weeks from 3 to 10 days long throughout history.

  96. No, Constantine received no help in his conversion to Christianity from Eusebius. That task was that of Lactantius (and possibly,but unlikely, from Hossius).  Lactantius tutored Crispus not in Nicomedia, but Trier. Possible, but unlikely that Constantine knew young Eusebius in Nicomedia. Nor did C have help from hundreds of hand picked scribes. He converted on Oct 28, 312 after an existential experience before the Battle of the Milvian Bridge, after being prepared for several years by Lactantius (and almost certainly ONLY by Lactantius).

    The problem I am having with this discussion  is the implicit assumption that Constantine knew anything about theology. What little he said about the  religion came from Lactantius. (BTW,Paul, contrary to popular belief, Constantine was not trinitarian, nor did that concept come from Nicaea.  Council of Constantinople in 381 (beware: memory).

  97. http://www.answering-christian… 

    You are aware that that website is a Muslim apologist website, right?

    From your link…

    “The lie of trinity was born between the years of 150 to 300.”…so who were the trinity this sentence refers too?

    Also from that link….

    And this bit jumped out at me too…”Notice that there are 24,000 “letters” or papers found that were not included in today’s New Testament, which means that the excerpts that were used for writing the “Gospel of John” and all of the other books and gospels of the NT are highly doubtful and contain no proof what so ever that they were written by any of Jesus’ original disciples.”

    I take it that the 24,000 references included Jesus? Did Constantine’s scribes write these too?

    More from your link…

    “Again, keep in mind that the NT was not even documented on paper until 150 to 300 years after Jesus (depending on what Christian you talk to).  So the dating is way too long for us to be assuming books to belong to certain people.”

    Seems to me your source does more for my argument than your own.

    And there’s more…

    “It talks about Jesus soon (1800 to 2000 years ago) will return (Revelation 22:7).  I don’t know how soon is 2000 years to the Bible.”

    I know why you used the site as a source… Google threw it up….”The New Testament of today was written in the third century by Constantine and his council.”…but nothing on the page supports this, in fact the whole page contradicts it.

    The third century…really?

    What it should say is, “The books of New Testament of today were chosen  in the forth century by Constantine and his council.”…his council being Christian bishops of the various flavours of Christianity who were bickering over the details.

    If you’d have read past the heading, you’d have read…

    ” Also in the first 4 centuries, Christians mostly and widely believed that Jesus never got crucified. See the proof at:
    1-  http://www.answering-christianity.com....
    2-  http://www.answering-christianity.com....   The Disciples’ early writings clearly claimed that Jesus never got crucified.”

    What that site you have decided is evidence for your position did provide was these further links….so thanks for that…

    http://gbgm-umc.org/umw/bible/

    http://www.bibleufo.com/anomlo

    http://www.earlychurch.org.uk/

    They clearly refute your proposition.

    You need to be more careful when citing.

  98. (BTW,Paul, contrary to popular belief, Constantine was not trinitarian, nor did that concept come from Nicaea.  Council of Constantinople in 381 (beware: memory).

    I know the concept of the trinity is well before Nicaea, but that is where it was established as orthodox Christian doctrine.

    “About a century later, in 325, the First Council of Nicaea established the doctrine of the Trinity as orthodoxy and adopted the Nicene Creed, which described Christ as “God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father”.

    Eusebius was on the side of Arius, who was in conflict with the concept of the Trinity. Constantine went with the popular vote. Eusebius was exiled with Arius for heresy, by Constantine, after the Council of Nicaea. if I remember correctly reading somewhere. The point that he and Arius got back into favour a few years later is not pertinent to my point.

  99. Paul, Tertullian was the first to mention the trinity. But I disagree with your quote. The original Nicene Creed did not mention the Holy Ghost–it was added later as a result of Bishops Gregory (x2) and Paul engaging in some creative theology. Part of the reason for its emergence, I think, was to avoid having god seen as Mary’s rapist. What you have cited sounds like later Catholic catechism. Look deeper.

    Eusebius did tend toward Arianism but showed a remarkable ability to blow with the wind. Constantine exiled no  one–the council anathamatized Arius and (2?) others, but not Eusebius who became one of C’s most trusted advisors, delegated with the chore  of producing the first Bible (the contents  of  which were probably a cooperative effort).

    You are confusing the concept of consubstantiation with that of the trinity.

    Constantine was hardly more than a spectator of the wrangling of bishops during his tenure. He expressed amazement at the rancor between the clergy over what he considered the most trivial issues.

  100. Ignorant Amos,
    Muslims have their views even if they do agree with some of the Jesus BS. Here are some Jewish views about the chronology of Christ’s existence and his comparison to Yeshu. Christianity is the only Abrahamic religion that believes Christ was crucified or even existed as Yeshu.
    http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki

    “Not all rabbis took this view. The Kuzari by Rabbi Yehuda Halevi (c.1075-1141),[38] understood these references in Talmud as referring to Jesus of Nazareth and based on them believed that Jesus of Nazareth lived 130 years prior to the date that Christians believe he lived, contradicting the Gospels’ account regarding the chronology of Jesus. Profiat Duran’s anti-Christian polemic Kelimmat ha-Goyim‎ (“Shame of the Gentiles”, 1397) makes it evident that Duran gave no credence to Yehiel of Paris’ theory of two Jesuses.[39] In addition, the information cited from the Munich, Florence and other manuscripts in support of the identification are late comments written centuries after the original redaction of the Talmud, citing discrepancies between events mentioned in association with Yeshu and the time of Jesus’ life.[citation needed] According to some[who?] the oppression by King Janneus mentioned in the Talmud occurred about 87 BCE, which would put the events of the story about a century before Jesus. The Yeshu who taught Jacob of Sechania would have lived a century after Jesus. And differences between accounts of the deaths of Yeshu and Jesus. The forty day waiting period before execution is absent from the Christian tradition and moreover Jesus did not have connections with the government. Jesus was crucified not stoned. Jesus was executed in Jerusalem not Lod. Jesus did not burn his food in public and moreover the Yeshu who did this corresponds to Manasseh of Judah in the Shulkhan Arukh. Jesus did not make incisions in his flesh, nor was he caught by hidden observers.[original research?]“

  101. Tertullian was the first to mention the trinity.

    Well not strictly…”The first recorded use of this Greek word in Christian theology (though not about the Divine Trinity) was by Theophilus of Antioch in about 170.” 

    But yes, in the sense of the divine as three in one. Tertullian is credited with the first recorded use, as in the son, father and holy spirit.

    http://www.angelfire.com/space

    Both, before Constantine in anycase.

    The original Nicene Creed did not mention the Holy Ghost–it was added later as a result of Bishops Gregory (x2) and Paul engaging in some creative theology. 

    Are ya sure Jerry? “Creeds of Christendom, with a History and Critical notes. Volume I.”

    http://books.google.co.uk/book

    As you know, I’m always up for betterment in my knowledge…can you cite me some respectable source please?

    Eusebius did tend toward Arianism but showed a remarkable ability to blow with the wind. Constantine exiled no  one–the council anathamatized Arius and (2?) others, but not Eusebius who became one of C’s most trusted advisors, delegated with the chore  of producing the first Bible (the contents  of  which were probably a cooperative effort).

    I’m sorry Jerry, but from my University library I read this…

    “Eusebius refused to recognize Christ as being “of the same substance” (homoousion) with the Father. Hence, at the first ecumenical Council of Nicaea, in 325, he led the opposition against the Homoousians. When the council finally accepted their clause, Eusebius signed the creed. He refused, however, to sign the anathema condemning the Arians because he doubted “whether Arius really held what the anathema imputed to him.” Shortly after the council he renewed his alliance with Arius, and the Roman emperor Constantine I the Great exiled him to Gaul, where he remained until he presented a confession of faith in 328.”

    Eusebius of Nicomedia, 2012, Encyclopaedia Britannica Online, http://www.britannica.com.libe…            

    Constantine was hardly more than a spectator of the wrangling of bishops during his tenure. He expressed amazement at the rancor between the clergy over what he considered the most trivial issues.

    According to H.A Drake, Constantine took a bit more interest than that of a spectator. 
    Classical Philology, What Eusebius Knew: The Genesis of the “Vita Constantini”

  102. But, didn’t Eusebius help write the New Testament? And wasn’t Lactantius originally a pagan from Africa who also was accomplice to the pagan Christ duplicity?
    What I am eluding too here is that they both helped Constantine create his Christianity and write the New Testament. The threat at Nicea to all present, about reciting the new creed and spreading the new gospel under pain of death, opened the door for the hoax to work.

  103. Well I am trying to establish that the Christ of Constantine was not the Yeshu or Messiah prophesied by the Jewish faith. So, how could Christ be the Sun of God and usurp their beliefs? The whole scenario is convoluted in lies and deception.

  104. But, didn’t Eusebius help write the New Testament? 

    Why do you think this?

    And wasn’t Lactantius originally a pagan from Africa who also was accomplice to the pagan Christ duplicity?

    This is pure nonsense.  The term ‘pagan Christ’ is an oxymoron, I’ve already explained the meaning of ‘pagan’ in respect of Christianity. It refers to a non-Christian,a  heathen.

    What I am eluding too here is that they both helped Constantine create his Christianity and write the New Testament.

    No they don’t…

    The threat at Nicea to all present, about reciting the new creed and spreading the new gospel under pain of death, opened the door for the hoax to work.

    This bollocks. You need to get your head out of conspiracy theories and read some scholarship. 

  105. Well I am trying to establish that the Christ of Constantine was not the Yeshu or Messiah prophesied by the Jewish faith.

    Don’t you really mean the Christ of Constantine’s time?

    Why? No one here is suggesting it is the same messiah, so why are you trying to establish something that no one contests. That some did believe it was that messiah is another matter.

     

    So, how could Christ be the Sun of God and usurp their beliefs?

    Who says Christ was the ‘Sun of God’?

    The whole scenario is convoluted in lies and deception.

    Yep! But it was lies and deception that was around well before the time of Constantine.

  106. “This bollocks. You need to get your head out of conspiracy theories and read some scholarship.”
    Your scholarship may be suffering from blindness to betrayal similar to that in the Jimmy Savile and BBC fiasco.
    “It is unlikely the faith would have persevered in the face of the relentless persecution, but instead it was the pagan traditions that vanished within ten years of Constantine’s death, the one of the sun worship being the very last. Yet perhaps we should ponder if it would have been better for Yeshua’s teachings to have disappeared than to have them so utterly corrupted and perpetuated as his own.” http://www.answering-christian
    I find it difficult to fathom that there was an individual Christ, who actually existed and spawned Christianity.

  107. Your scholarship may be suffering from blindness to betrayal similar to that in the Jimmy Savile and BBC fiasco. 

    That is a false equivalence fallacy, ridiculous analogy, and non-sequitur. It is not MY scholarship I am presenting, it is the scholarship of the worlds experts in many disciplines. Yet you disregard this  to maintain your hypothesis. This is not how critical thinking is done. Expert consensus by the scholars should always be preferred over wackaloon conspiracy theorists with little or no credentials in the scholarly disciplines they are trying to discredit with patent nonsense.

    You have as yet to provide on shred of evidence to support your assertion. You have yet to reply to the rebuttals of your conjecture. This is not how a rational debate progresses, you either defend you argument with evidence or concede the points.

     “It is unlikely the faith would have persevered in the face of the relentless persecution, but instead it was the pagan traditions that vanished within ten years of Constantine’s death, the one of the sun worship being the very last. Yet perhaps we should ponder if it would have been better for Yeshua’s teachings to have disappeared than to have them so utterly corrupted and perpetuated as his own.” http://www.answering-christian…

     

    Why are you insisting on using this Muslim site in order to defend your position when all it does is make you look even more asinine? Why do you prefer the kook websites over recognised scholarship? I implore you to read something on the subjects you are alluding too. That statement is just not true and your use of the Cherry picking fallacy and confirmation bias is worse than that of a creationist.

    “Only with the emergence of Orthodox Christianity as reflected in the Apostle’s Creed and the final decline of Hellenistic paganism by the 6th century does “Paganism” become a concept clearly distinct from Christianity.”

    There was no relentless persecution of Christian’s before Constantine, though there was persecution, but read your quotes carefully before you post. What faith was being persecuted instead of the pagan’s? Who was persecuting what religion instead of persecuting the pagan’s? How could Christianity be persecuted if Constantine invented it?

    From your link…

    “St. Helen[Constantine's mother] was responsible for discovering the True Cross, as well as the location of the Church of Nativity, the location of Jesus’s birth,…”

    Kind of difficult in light of your assertion that her son invented the nonsense for political control don’t you think? Wouldn’t you imagine he might have let his mother in on the scam? After all, according to you the rest of his court was in on it. Don’t you think mummsy would’ve noticed that there was no Christianity one minute, and then there was all this ‘stuff’ about it the religion the next? Even you can’t really be that gormless.

    I find it difficult to fathom that there was an individual Christ, who actually existed and spawned Christianity.

    This is the fallacy from personal incredulity. Who has said that there was an individual Christ that existed and spawned Christianity? That is called the strawman fallacy  Boy, you are getting through these logical fallacies at an alarming rate.The history of the world is replete with individuals that spawned religions. You have mentioned a few yourself. The kernel of every religion HAS to come from a single source regardless of when and where it started. Your problem is that Christianity didn’t start with Constantine. 

    The irony here is, the sources you are providing are not supporting your conclusion, they are helping me contest it.

  108. “You have as yet to provide one shred of evidence to support your assertion. You have yet to reply to the rebuttals of your conjecture. This is not how a rational debate progresses, you either defend you argument with evidence or concede the points.”
    It is difficult, if not impossible, to rationally debate Christianity. It is the culmination of hundreds of years of distorted lies and misrepresentation of fact that, like Islam today, promotes violence and absolute blind faith to emotionally charge it’s victims. There is no evidence that Christ ever existed therefore, we have to ascertain how Christianity evolved. To suggest that it evolved from the life of a physical historical Christ is ridiculous.
    Your assertions are as flawed in empirical evidence as mine and is not shedding any light on resolving the age old delusion of religious belief. The concept is obvious but, the evidence is unconvincing. I am looking for answers, as are you, and I place little credence in the ambiguity of religious scripture, the only source of its own proof. There are two religions other than Christianity supposedly based on the same god. The early Jews cannot relate to Christ’s existence and Islamists later deny his crucifixion. If you have empirical evidence of Christ’s existence you should share it with the world.

  109. “Expert consensus by the scholars should always be preferred over wackaloon conspiracy theorists with little or no credentials in the scholarly disciplines they are trying to discredit with patent nonsense.”

    It is the expert consensus of the scholars that promoted the patent nonsense in the beginning. When it comes to religion, all are wackaloon conspiracy theorists, and all theory is in question. Isn’t that how all religion was conceived?

  110. It is difficult, if not impossible, to rationally debate Christianity. It is the culmination of hundreds of years of distorted lies and misrepresentation of fact that, like Islam today, promotes violence and absolute blind faith to emotionally charge it’s victims.

    None of that has anything whatsoever to do with your assertion that Constantine invented Christianity. No one here is debating Christianity with you, just your conjecture that it started with Constantine. No one here is denying that it is the culmination of hundreds of years of distorted lies and misrepresentation of fact and fiction. Do you know what a strawman fallacy is Agarnier?

    There is no evidence that Christ ever existed therefore, we have to ascertain how Christianity evolved. To suggest that it evolved from the life of a physical historical Christ is ridiculous.

    Again, this is another strawman fallacy. I’m not suggesting for one minute there is any evidence for an historical Jesus, so what is your point? What I am stating is, that there is a history of Christianity before Constantine and the fourth century, to suggest there wasn’t, that is ridiculous.  

    Your assertions are as flawed in empirical evidence as mine and is not shedding any light on resolving the age old delusion of religious belief.

    We are not dealing in empirical evidence here, I thought you knew that. Historical evidence is the nature of the beast in these debates…there is a distinct difference. You have provided no historical evidence for you position. What you have supplied as support to your position has helped me discredit your thesis.

    The concept is obvious but, the evidence is unconvincing. I am looking for answers, as are you, and I place little credence in the ambiguity of religious scripture, the only source of its own proof. There are two religions other than Christianity supposedly based on the same god. The early Jews cannot relate to Christ’s existence and Islamists later deny his crucifixion. If you have empirical evidence of Christ’s existence you should share it with the world.

    Can I ask how old you are? At no point in this discussion have I suggested there is evidence of Christ’s existence…have you even bothered reading my comments?

    You are very lucky in the fact that this new site is set up in such a way that your comments are not exposed to everyone as they are put up, as was the case on the old site.

    Stop building strawmen that are not there. You have made an assertion that Christianity was invented by Constantine, but have shown absolutely nothing that defends such a position. Evidence to the contrary, you have called ambiguous but have failed to give reason why. I can only assume that you are not very well read on the subject, don’t have a clue how history is studied or are just trolling.

  111. It is the expert consensus of the scholars that promoted the patent nonsense in the beginning. When it comes to religion, all are wackaloon conspiracy theorists, and all theory is in question.

    You are conflating theology and history which is highlighting your ignorance.  This debate is not about when the religion of Christianity got started, not the ridiculous claims it makes. The wackaloon conspiracy theory I refer too is not the religion of Christianity, it is the idea that it began with Constantine. To be quite honest, you are embarrassing yourself now with all this bullshit you are coming off with. 

    http://www.learntoquestion.com

    Isn’t that how all religion was conceived?

    I am not debating how all religion was conceived, not even how Christianity was concieved. My problem is your insistence that Constantine did it in the 4th century and you have provided not a shred of evidence to support your assertion, while at the same time asserting all the evidence to the contrary has been made up, forgery, mis-dated, ambiguous, planted, etc., etc…you’ve even made your own history up… which puts you in good company with the rest of the kooks.

  112. Let’s get into the minutiae and start with Pliny the Younger writing in the first part of the second century.

    “Pliny the Younger, governor of Bithynia-Pontus from c. 110-112, wrote a series of letters to Roman Emperor Trajan, one of which asked for council on dealing with Christians.”

    http://wiki.straightpunch.com/

    http://www.statemaster.com/enc

    How was Pliny writing to, and receiving letters from, Trajan about Christians, if Christianity was not invented for another 200 years?

    This is history, it has feck all to do with promoting nonsense or conceiving nonsense, it is about two highly influential Pagans discussing the problem of those pesky Christians in the first century.

    Rebuttal please.

  113. Ignorant Amos,
    I am clearly out of my league here. I have never heard of Pliny the Younger. Your posted link is lost in cyberspace but I did a search and found your linked web page,”Early Christian Writings”, consisting of various works ranging from 30AD to 250AD. I have much reading to catch up on and if any of this material passes the test of authenticity, it poses a whole new conundrum to my Christ of Constantine hypothesis. Although, I do believe he was a major catalyst in the spread of the dreaded Christian disease. Admittedly, my theory is based almost entirely on the New Testament and the works of it’s dissenters. I apologize for my obvious ignorance and regret arousing your interests and wasting your time. However, I invoke my rite of invite to discuss this matter with you in future. On a more personal note, would you be willing to divulge your view as to the genesis of Christian doctrine? Obviously it is not Constantine. Lol

  114. I find that with my few Christian friends by sugesting that Nature is the right hand of  God, I get the m thinkng without antagonism, and it almost always gets them to thinking more deeply. several of the evolutionary paradims of  evobehaviour are  great paralells with the aclaimed sayings of  Jesus . . .  Reciprical  ultruism:  Do unto others as you would have them do unto you .  This is an expression of the selfish genes directing that we do for others with the expectation of a return.  Also Jesus said:  All that man does is for his mouth and still he is not satisfied …  Compare:   All behaviour is geneticly directed towards building self esteem (selfishness)  with the ultimate goal of gratification. Of cource gratification must be constantly renewed.  It is not necessarily my stand but we could easily claim that Jesus was an evolutionist.  . . .  Logos Calamus /  Nov.2012

  115. I am clearly out of my league here. I have never heard of Pliny the Younger. Your posted link is lost in cyberspace but I did a search and found your linked web page,”Early Christian Writings”, consisting of various works ranging from 30AD to 250AD. I have much reading to catch up on and if any of this material passes the test of authenticity, it poses a whole new conundrum to my Christ of Constantine hypothesis.

    Well, I sincerely hope you do the reading. I can’t tell you how much better read on these things  I am now, than when I first joined this forum all those years ago. That is all anyone asks here…look at the evidence and see where it takes ya.  Critical thinking and rational debate is the key. The wealth of knowledge on this site is second to none, albeit, there has been a bit of a lull in recent weeks with this new site design. Let’s hope that when the problems are ironed out, things will get better.

    Although, I do believe he was a major catalyst in the spread of the dreaded Christian disease.

    Without a doubt. Constantine was probably the biggest and main reason Christianity still exists today. 

    Admittedly, my theory is based almost entirely on the New Testament and the works of it’s dissenters. I apologize for my obvious ignorance and regret arousing your interests and wasting your time.

    Was my time wasted? I hope not. I don’t think it was if I’ve given you pause to consider things from a different angle. You have said you had never heard of Pliny the Younger, now ya have…choc one up on the ‘that wee bit less ignorant’ scale.

    However, I invoke my rite of invite to discuss this matter with you in future.

    Of course, that is the whole point of this place. I didn’t even know who Constantine was before visiting this site, never mind his involvement in the progress of Christianity. I’ve learned a lot since those early days, and I’m proud to say, it is a work in progress.

    On a more personal note, would you be willing to divulge your view as to the genesis of Christian doctrine?

    Paul of Tarsus. It is my opinion he invented the yarn in the same way Arthur Conan Doyle invented Sherlock Holmes. Subsequent Christian authors built on the myth and embellished it with all the bells and whistles we read in the Gospels….all 50 odd.

    Paul was a Jewish apocalypticist. The invention of the Jesus myth was exactly what he needed. Just my opinion.

    Bart Ehrman is the man you might like to read…. 

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B

    Forged, Misquoting Jesus, God’s Problem, and Jesus, Interrupted are just up your street. And they are supported with scholarship. I wasn’t very struck on his latest book, Did Jesus Exist?, it is not that great because it makes some sloppy errors…his argument for a real person that was called Jesus, preached, got on the wrong side of the law, was condemned to death by Pilate and was crucified, doesn’t convince me. But it does make some interesting points to rebuke.

    Anyway, you go for it… and avoid the kook sites with an axe to grind and no evidence to be either confirmed or denied.

  116. several of the evolutionary paradims of  evobehaviour are  great paralells with the aclaimed sayings of  Jesus . . .  Reciprical  ultruism:  Do unto others as you would have them do unto you .

    Which is the ethic of reciprocity, better known as the Golden Rule and plagiarised from much earlier worldviews. Just about every human culture had/has a version. 

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/G
     

    This is an expression of the selfish genes directing that we do for others with the expectation of a return.

    But not always altruistically. At the level of the gene, it may well cause the organism to be altrustic…but not always. The selfish part means that it will do whatever is right for it’s own reproduction…whether that be nice or nasty, the gene has no concept, it or one just like it, needs replicated by whichever means possible.

    Also Jesus said:  All that man does is for his mouth and still he is not satisfied …  

    Nope, that is from Ecclesiastes Chapter 6 verse 7…I like Ecclesiastes, it is full of good stuff and promotes a lot of partying.”It is good and comely for one to eat and to drink, and to enjoy the good of all his labour that he taketh under the sun all the days of his life.””Go thy way, eat thy bread with joy, and drink thy wine with a merry heart.””Live joyfully with the wife whom thou lovest.””A man hath no better thing under the sun, than to eat, and to drink, and to be merry.”Of course Ecclesiastes is a forgery and it only got into Jewish canon by the closest of margins.

    Compare:   All behaviour is geneticly directed towards building self esteem (selfishness)  with the ultimate goal of gratification. Of cource gratification must be constantly renewed.

    Utter Nonsense. 

    It is not necessarily my stand but we could easily claim that Jesus was an evolutionist.  . . .

    Well you could take the alleged sayings of Jesus and present them in such a manner to claim Jesus a lot of things, but you’d be dead wrong. Nothing you have said would suggest any claim that Jesus might be considered an evolutionist.

  117. “Are ya sure Jerry?”
    Yes.  Although I am currently sitting on  a bar stool in  Virgin Gorda andhave  no access to my reference notes. Christians had a vested interest in locating the trinity as early as possible–of course they even contend  it’s in  the NT.

    I am well aware of Drake’s take  on the importance of church heirarchy but respectfully disagree. If you will remind me, I  will send  you a project paper that I did comparing the Arian thought of Lactantius with that of constantine (if  you look closely, you can see Lactantius’ lips move a C speaks.

  118. “But didn’t Eusebius help write the New Testament?”

    No. He was tasked by Constantine of creating the first bible (c. 332)but did so out of  previously written  books, perhaps with the aid of Athanasius. And no, the earliest Christian writings do not go back to the 30′s. At the earliest, Paul wrote (your guess is  as good as mine as to which  of his books was the earliest) in the  early 50′s–a dating which  I have trouble  believing.

    Almost nothing is  known of Lactantius’ early life. He was, indeed from  N. Africa (Cirta). He was a theological descendant of Tertullian, Cyprian and Arnobius.

    Here is just one example of why we know that the conversion of Constantine was genuine,and not a (rather stupid) grab for power. One  his first acts after consolidating  the western empire (within a year of the conversion) was to  pay to have  a town in N.  Africa rebuilt  and  renamed for himself. That town was  Cirta.
    Again, further reading on this subject will convince you that although C was a committed Christian, his knowledge of theology, and his interest in  it, was almost non-existent.

    JHJ

  119. In reply to #152 by sffmadman66:

    Interesting. That’s a book I’d like to read. I take the view that the historical figure of the very human person, even without miracles, is still important within a social context. You can’t take the religion out of the context, but you can view it with a non-religious perspective.

    I highly recommend it if you are into that kind of thing. He’s a very good writer, one of those people like Dawkins where the book can suck you in as if it were a novel. Also, his previous book “Jesus Interrupted” is in some ways more interesting because it talks about why the Gospels were written as they were. What we can infer about the various motives of the authors. E.g., some wanted to convert Jews to Christianity and wrote their Gospels accordingly where as others wanted to convert heathens.

    I think unfortunately that a lot of people just let their (understandable) dislike for religion blind them to how interesting and complex some of these questions can be. From what I’ve read it seems as if during that period of time there were all sorts of people claiming to be saviors and starting new religions. Why did one happen to win out so strongly over the others? BTW, that is supposed to be the topic of Ehrman’s next book.

  120. Dear Ger,I did’t read Ehrman’s book. But I studied a lot about your question: makes it a difference ot There has been a Jesus around or not? My opinion is as follows.
    Christianism is originated in the initiative of pul to create a Jewish ‘Jesus cult’. Around 30 AD there were a lot of mystery cults in the Roman empire. [They were 'mystery' because there was an official state belief in Zeus and His Olympina Folks, with official temples and priestdom.] Some of the most popular were the Dionysion, the Isis and the Mithras cults. Paul wanted to modernize Judaism and he had learned that there had been a Jew Jesus who had been crucified. Followers of hin believed that he was resurected from his grave. For Paul a perfect Jewish cult figure! Even though they had been contemporaries, and the execution had taken place in Jeruzalem, Paul only afterwards heard of it. When the execution was 30 AD, Paul’s preachings in the synagogues of Anatolia and Greec took place around 50 AD. Paul founded some 15 communities of followers before his death. In the following years, it turned out to be necessary to bring conformity in the Jesus stories and the doctrine around wat was believed to be his teathings. and therefore the ‘episcopi’, primarily administrative functionaries, of a number of communities arranged meetings (‘conciliae’) to agree about what hed to be the correct doctrine. That is the beginning of the Catholic Church. And after 325 AD it was the choice of imperator Constantin that this organizated belief was his best chois fo a state religion, better than all that individual belief forms from his time.

    • In reply to #154 by couw:

      Dear Ger,I did’t read Ehrman’s book. But I studied a lot about your question: makes it a difference ot There has been a Jesus around or not? My opinion is as follows

      I haven’t read The Selfish Gene or any of the other major works of biology but here is my opinion as to where Dawkins and Darwin got it all wrong. Now at this point you are probably asking yourself “if this wanker couldn’t bother to read what the experts say why should I care what his theories are?” I know just how you feel.

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