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Is there any creditable evidence that jesus actually existed?
Posted: 09 March 2014 03:32 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]
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Let me start with a joke:

Two students call up Rudolf Bultmann, the old theologian and New Testament scholar, after digging around in Palestine. “Professor, I think we found pieces of the cross that Jesus was nailed on.” – Bultmann: “Oh, so you mean Jesus ever existed?”

Dumb joke, I know, but it makes a point. There are many good scholars / theologians / even pastors who are quite fine with the research, Karl Barth for example, or Brian McLaren, to be more recent. This are folks who live in reality, and they are Christians. Never bothered me. I’m a huge fan of Barth and Bonhoeffer. They stood up to Hitler no matter the cost. (Well, Barth got away being Swiss, but Bonhoeffer “got nailed” so to speak.)

All this “the Bible is inerrant” and stuff is very recent. Sure, before there was modern-day science there was no real debate about all this, like the creation story, but even St. Augustine or Chrysostom were aware that Genesis didn’t make much sense if taken literally.

Today’s “Evangelicalism” is an outgrowth of (mainly British, then extended American) resistance to Darwin. It’s political from head to toe. Has nothing to do with Christian faith really. Not even the Catholic Church black-listed Darwin as his book is biology, not theology or philosophy.

It’s funny and annoying to see people think that unless the Bible is “the literal Word of God” their faith can’t stand. Really, this kind of Christianity undermines itself.

I’m not a Christian anymore, as I read too much, but it hurts to see some of my old friends believing this shit. – Even when I believed I never went that far. I was a “Barthian”, never an Evangelical.

This “excessive need for certainty” might be a human trait, but in the case of Christianity, if you keep holding on too tight, you eventually suffocate yourself with that noose. So sad, especially if you have kids and want to do what’s right. It’s not right, it’s bullshit. And homeschooling children based on “Answers in Genesis” is meant well, but it deludes and trashes any future ability to understand science.

Whoever came up with these modern-day doctrines, and it wasn’t Jesus or Augustine or Aquinas or Luther, they are guilty of dumbing an entire generation or more, really shitting on their own religion with such garbage.

Religion is and has always been fine with me, so long as you keep the two, science and religion, in their respective spheres. The one is mystical, the other is factual. To confuse that is just stupid.

Little rant here, but it hurts me seeing friends of mine unable to shake off doctrines that have no place anywhere. And should you make yourself intelligent the answer is right there: you’re becoming liberal or apostate, both putting your soul in danger as you are forsaking the true Gospel. – I remember my nights in agony, and the nightmares of hell, but I couldn’t help it. Eventually reality became more important than Jonathan Edwards’ delusions. But then, I’m alone, I don’t have kids. Once the grip is on a family you got it down. – Fascist delusions, with bad consequences. Meant well, but very, very wrong.

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Posted: 09 March 2014 04:11 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]
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As I’m up early and stimulated smile let me add another post:

Anyone familiar with the Asterix comics? Lausten just reminded me. “We are writing the year 50 BC. All of Gaul has been conquered by the Romans. All of Gaul? One tiny village is still resisting the intruders…” – So funny! I used to have a collection. No idea where it went. Best comics ever. History mixed with funny stories. I think they have three animated movies out on it, and one real movie, with Gerard Depardieu. Hilarious stuff! Explains why the Sphinx has no nose, too.

Coldheart Tucker says it right… very confusing why people need this certainty when it is totally uncalled for. (Correct me if I misunderstood.) That the existence of Jesus is very low though, I don’t think. I think it’s rather high. For a dude who never wrote anything and really has nothing to put up, his inspiring so many little cults is only possible if there was “someone” behind it. – Very good scholar to look into, former monk, is Luke Johnson. His specialty is “religious experience”, not fact. He has some nice courses with the Teaching Company, and books otherwise.

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Posted: 09 March 2014 09:04 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]
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TimB - 08 March 2014 09:09 PM

The vast consensus among historians is that Jesus existed.  Is it possible that he didn’t and everything that we know that was written that referenced his existence was fictional?  Sure, but not likely.

It might be a cool point for persons with an atheistic bent, to, plausibly claim that Jesus never actually existed.  But I don’t think they/we (atheists/agnostics) can do so, since the people who study antiquity the most, by and large, don’t question Jesus’s existence.

Consensus is a dicey thing, especially in history. There have been two major quests for the historical Jesus, both were inconclusive and personally I wonder it they were abandoned for political reasons, not academic. According to Richard Carrier, proper/modern historiography has not been applied to this question. His latest book is a stab at that, and I will wait for the response from other academics before I make any statements about what the new consensus is.

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Posted: 09 March 2014 09:59 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]
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A reply from Ehrman to Carrier.

After refuting many arguments from Carrier, Ehrman states:

My scholarly books would never be mistaken for books that would be read by a wide, general public.  But Carrier indicates that the inadequacy of Did Jesus Exist can be seen by comparing it to two of his own recent books, which, he tells us, pay more attention to detail, embrace a more diverse range of scholarship, and have many more footnotes.
    I did not write this book for scholars.  I wrote if for lay people who are interested in a broad, interesting, and very important question.  Did Jesus really exist?  I was not arguing the case for scholars, because scholars already know the answer to that question.  I was explaining to the non-scholar why scholars think what they do.  A non-scholarly book tries to explain things in simple terms, and to do so without the clutter of detail that you would find in a work of scholarship.

Italics by me.

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Posted: 09 March 2014 12:05 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]
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And Carrier’s reply to Erhman:


http://freethoughtblogs.com/carrier/archives/1026


Cap’t Jack

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Posted: 09 March 2014 03:13 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]
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GdB - 09 March 2014 09:59 AM

A reply from Ehrman to Carrier.

After refuting many arguments from Carrier, Ehrman states:

My scholarly books would never be mistaken for books that would be read by a wide, general public.  But Carrier indicates that the inadequacy of Did Jesus Exist can be seen by comparing it to two of his own recent books, which, he tells us, pay more attention to detail, embrace a more diverse range of scholarship, and have many more footnotes.
    I did not write this book for scholars.  I wrote if for lay people who are interested in a broad, interesting, and very important question.  Did Jesus really exist?  I was not arguing the case for scholars, because scholars already know the answer to that question.  I was explaining to the non-scholar why scholars think what they do.  A non-scholarly book tries to explain things in simple terms, and to do so without the clutter of detail that you would find in a work of scholarship.

Italics by me.

The Ehrman-Carrier battle is a fun one to watch. There’s something about Ehrman that rubs me the wrong way. Not sure what it is, just a little too sure of himself, or maybe it is a statement like the one you quoted here, it says, “I could explain it to you if you were smarter, but you’re not, so I’ll make it simple.” Carrier seems to be trying harder to make scholarship accessible.

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Posted: 09 March 2014 03:24 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]
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One book that I highly recommend is The Historical Jesus, Five Views where you see both arguments clearly laid out pro and con. Although Erhman isn’t represented, his views are, including other scholar’s findings from the Jesus Seminar, e.g. My personal favorite Crossan. I read two of Erhman’s books BTW and didn’t get that impression of him, but like you I couldn’t react to that statement other than to view it as pretentious. I’m finishing a Carrier book now and in contrast his research is very similar to Price in that he presents a picture of a cobbled together myth. Still not convinced, yet. I’m just delving into this concept of Jesus the myth.


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Posted: 09 March 2014 05:44 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 23 ]
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Well, until someone presents clear evidence to the contrary (i.e., that the most skilled of ancient historians are in error), I will continue to presume that Jesus did exist, just as I presume that a “cobbled together” mythology of Jesus exists.

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As a fabrication of our own consciousness, our assignations of meaning are no less “real”, but since humans and the fabrications of our consciousness are routinely fraught with error, it makes sense, to me, to, sometimes, question such fabrications.

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Posted: 10 March 2014 01:32 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 24 ]
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Thevillageatheist - 09 March 2014 12:05 PM

And Carrier’s reply to Erhman:


http://freethoughtblogs.com/carrier/archives/1026

The other way round? The Erhman article I linked is a reaction on the Carrier article you linked.

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Posted: 10 March 2014 03:53 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 25 ]
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Oops, my bad. You’re right GdB. This is Carrier’s proper response to Erhman’s reply to Carrier’s criticism of Erhman’s book. And this debate BTW is ongoing as they continue the debate on their separate blogs sites.


http://freethoughtblogs.com/carrier/archives/1151


Cap’t Jack

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Posted: 10 March 2014 04:57 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 26 ]
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And never the twain will meet…

For the rest I agree with TimB: as a layman, I keep it at the majority of experts. If they change their minds based on new facts, or better interpretations of existing facts, I will eventually hear that.

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Posted: 10 March 2014 05:22 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 27 ]
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Same here. But the point counter point arguments are enlightening even though the mythisists seem to be fighting an uphill battle. I’ve read a Price book, The Incredible Shrinking Son of Man and am finishing Carrier’s book Not The Impossible Faith which is essentially a reply to a Christian apologist. The problem, if you can call It that are the literally hundreds of Biblical quotes that are referenced and if you aren’t a scholar (which I’m not by any means,; my interest is purely historical not interpretational) the reader has to flip to the actual quote for clarity and that takes time. Of course that’s a great portion of the argument anyway.


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Posted: 16 March 2014 04:54 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 28 ]
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There was something similar about this by some former
Baptist minister who left christianity.
He was apparently disturbed upon taking grad courses in textual criticism at Harvard.

http://debunkingchristianity.blogspot.com/2010/01/dr-jerald-dirks-on-why-he-rejected.html

[ Edited: 16 March 2014 04:57 PM by I.J. Abdul Hakeem ]
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God, the Self-Sufficient.
He does not give birth, nor was He born.
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Posted: 16 March 2014 05:03 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 29 ]
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And I remember a chrisitan missionary scholar replying saying something to the effect that “harvard is among the extremely liberal schools”

I cant help but think “ah…good times those were   smile

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Say: He is God, the Unique.
God, the Self-Sufficient.
He does not give birth, nor was He born.
And there is none equal to Him.

Quran (112: 1-4)

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Posted: 17 March 2014 08:07 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 30 ]
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deros - 07 March 2014 05:30 PM

I can’t find any that could possibly be considered creditable.

Did you check out the Wikipedia article on the historicity of Jesus? His existence as a historical figure seems to be quite widely accepted. Apparently the key non-Christian sources are Josephus and Tacitus, and the only details of his life that are subject to almost universal assent are that he was baptised by John the Baptist and crucified under Pontius Pilate. I know that a credible case can be made that he is a fictional figure but this is not currently very widely believed among serious historical scholars.

I have not read the whole thread, I apologise if these points have already been made.

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