Finally an atheist with a true in depth knowledge of scripture. The responses in that forum bespeak of the effectiveness of being able to speak the “Christian languge”, in being able to answer both atheists and christians alike.
Yes. Bart Ehrman is another.
I did not read all of it, but was interested in the question of Jesus’ existence.
I would have posted that there is clear evidence that a man named Jesus was crucified on the grounds that he had a large following and was becoming a nuisance to both the Romans and the Jewish clergy. Moreover after his death there is no longer any records of anyone named Jesus continuing to preach. Is that not proof enough?
Well, to be fair, all that evidence comes from the NT. (The evidence of the Roman and direct Jewish response). So if you’re determined to claim that everything in the NT is false then you won’t find that rejoinder satisfying.
The PhD said the same thing I’ve been saying, though: there were several non-Christian sects around at the same time, including Jewish ones. There is no evidence that any of them argued that Jesus was a fictional character. Instead they argued that his message was false and his followers deluded.
I think non-Christian feelings about Jesus in, say, the 2nd c. CE was rather as Christians might have felt about early Mormonism or Scientology a few decades after they got started. Nobody was arguing that Joseph Smith or L. Ron Hubbard didn’t exist; and if there were reason to believe they were fictional, it would probably be easy enough to establish that fact. (For one thing, Jesus preached to Jews in heavily Jewish territory). I don’t know of any Jewish tradition that says Jesus was fictional.