Did Jesus Exist? Skeptic Mag Vol.19 No.1

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Did Jesus Exist? Skeptic Mag Vol.19 No.1

Postby papasmurf » Tue Jun 10, 2014 2:07 pm

I was wondering what others here (that have read it) thought of the article written by Tim Callahan, Did Jesus Exist.

I thought Tim did a good job of linking yet more (for me anyway) gospel to the Septuagint and various pagan religions. Interesting read.

Thoughts?

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Re: Did Jesus Exist? Skeptic Mag Vol.19 No.1

Postby kennyc » Tue Jun 10, 2014 7:24 pm

I haven't read it, but have had this discussion in various places a number of times. My personal conclusion is that there may have been someone that was a hero/leader/guru that was a charismatic man (or possibly scam artist) that stories were made up or enhanced about by a group of deluded christian zealots.
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Re: Did Jesus Exist? Skeptic Mag Vol.19 No.1

Postby Canadian Skeptic » Tue Jun 10, 2014 9:51 pm

For me, I think it at least plausible that a man, possibly named Jesus, existed at one point in history, probably had a small following, and may even have been crucified for his teaching. The community that would eventually become Christianity emerged, in part, from that context.

Beyond that, however, we can likely attribute nearly every myth and narrative about Jesus to other parallel traditions, beliefs and historical contexts. Every scholar of which I'm familar, from Ehrman and Callahan to Carrier, would likely agree with that -- independent of Jesus' historical existence (or non-existence).

Ultimately, from an atheist’s perspective, it doesn’t really matter. Whether Jesus existed or not, there remains (today) a cultural and religious community organized around the belief in that person, in combination with other contemporary values. That doesn’t change if Jesus did not exist.

Even if we conclusively proved Jesus did not exist, it would not deter believers. Young-Earth Creationism has taught us at least that lesson. The same would hold true for proving Jesus did exist – doing so would not prove or even lend credibility to any of the myths attributed to him.

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Re: Did Jesus Exist? Skeptic Mag Vol.19 No.1

Postby papasmurf » Wed Jun 11, 2014 12:11 am

Good points from you both; thanks for your responses.

I thought Callahan's conclusion was spot on:

Spoiler:
So, was Jesus historical? In my opinion, the passages from the Antiquities and the Annals are genuine and historical. Thus, Jesus too, was historical...barely. He was, at the same time a figure of convergent mythic systems, both Jewish and pagan. Ultimately, however, the historical Jesus is so imbued with mythic characteristics as to render his historicity moot.

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Re: Did Jesus Exist? Skeptic Mag Vol.19 No.1

Postby kennyc » Wed Jun 11, 2014 12:20 am

Yep.....if you see the buddha on the street, kill him!
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Re: Did Jesus Exist? Skeptic Mag Vol.19 No.1

Postby Charles Wild » Thu Jul 10, 2014 2:33 pm

Did Jesus exist?

My personal feeling is that a man named Jesus did exist, however, his history was written by Hebrew-Jewish monks/reformed Hebrew-Jewish monks (religious theater writers)/whoever who wanted to create a second Moses/a second Elijah.

The New Testament is a kind of symphony two vs the Old Testament which is a kind of symphony one.

One can interpret the Bible literally - KJV Bible - or one can interpret the Bible symbolically (poetically/metaphorically) - John Bunyan - The Pilgrim's Progress; Charles and Myrtle Fillmore - New Thought / Spirtual Metaphysics, etc.

The story of Jesus when he was here (1 A.D. - 33 A.D.) is quite different than the rewritten story of Jesus which was done for political purposes (aka intentional attempts to raise money from people by telling an emotional story promising eternal life/a future pie in the sky payoff). At its best, the Christian religion is an attempt to give good values to followers; at its worst, it is an intentional con job operating as a non-profit business which is designed to raise as much money as possible for a (corrupt) foreign clergy in power and to make sure the Christian religion goes on forever - since it tends to make lots of money for the theatrical monks in power (monks who reject the idea of western democracy and replace it with a non-profit religious tyrannical dictatorship).

In the last thirty years, the politics of Rome has been revealed where it comes down to the fact that Rome is a theater company run by persons dressed like they are chararacters in an opera yet their real motivation is an international non-profit child crime hiding organization religion/protect the foreign criminal clergy at all costs which includes a bank in Rome which launders drug money. Rome is a variation of the Little Red Riding Hood fairy tale about a little girl and a Big Bad Wolf. X-ref: United Nations vs the country known as the Vatican (2014).

The musical - Jesus Christ Superstar - 1970 rock opera - looks at the character of Jesus (without going into the concept of Easter; the musical stops with the death of Jesus). Why? It leaves the question of Jesus - who is Jesus - an open question (my view).

The story of Jesus is sometimes told as being an example of Divine Love/Unconditional Love.

Perhaps that is the role of Jesus - to define/redefine what is meant by the word - love.

Divine Mind/Divine Love is quite different in nature than human love/love as expressed by Hollywood.

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Re: Did Jesus Exist? Skeptic Mag Vol.19 No.1

Postby Matthew Ellard » Fri Jul 11, 2014 12:22 am

Canadian Skeptic wrote:For me, I think it at least plausible that a man, possibly named Jesus, existed at one point in history, probably had a small following, and may even have been crucified for his teaching. The community that would eventually become Christianity emerged, in part, from that context.


It does seem to me as very probable, that there were disruptions to Roman tax collections in Jerusalem around 30AD ( Jesus upsets the money changer's tables) because an ongoing insurgency was quashed by the Frentensis X Legion, at Masada in 73AD after Rome first declared it would enforce tax collections in 66AD. ( The first Roman-Jewish war).

However, as the penalty for disrupting tax collection for non-Roman citizens was beheading, rather than crucifixion, it does seem that the individual biblical parts of the greater event are all invented. Additionally, Roman court procedure is not followed in the biblical account.

That the word's of "Jesus" are peaceful and not like other Jewish contemporary preachings, suggests a sanitised fable, using the Roman literary & argumentative technique of the time, was a later invention by the Roman cult. That a "Jesus" does not appear in any Roman artwork until 235AD suggests the fable was simply being illustrated for the first time, in a way similar to Norman Rockwell inventing the image of Santa ( St Nicholas) for popular consumption in 1940.

Santa by Rockwell.jpg

Santa "created" in 1940
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St Nicholas ( Ἅγιος Νικόλαος )
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Re: Did Jesus Exist? Skeptic Mag Vol.19 No.1

Postby papasmurf » Fri Jul 11, 2014 2:32 am

Great responses! Thanks to both of you!

Cheers,

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Re: Did Jesus Exist? Skeptic Mag Vol.19 No.1

Postby Gord » Fri Jul 11, 2014 6:10 am

Matthew Ellard wrote:However, as the penalty for disrupting tax collection for non-Roman citizens was beheading, rather than crucifixion, it does seem that the individual biblical parts of the greater event are all invented.

For what crime was crucifixion a possible punishment at that time? Maybe Jesus was really just a hippie who planted two types of seeds in the same row.
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Re: Did Jesus Exist? Skeptic Mag Vol.19 No.1

Postby Shen1986 » Fri Jul 11, 2014 8:56 am

Canadian Skeptic wrote:Even if we conclusively proved Jesus did not exist, it would not deter believers. Young-Earth Creationism has taught us at least that lesson. The same would hold true for proving Jesus did exist – doing so would not prove or even lend credibility to any of the myths attributed to him.


True words. It is like all woo stuff and even parapsychology. It does not matter that neuroscience and physics are destroying the motion of the soul or any other paranormal phenomena with every progress they are making. There are still people who will believe in it no matter the evidence.
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Re: Did Jesus Exist? Skeptic Mag Vol.19 No.1

Postby Matthew Ellard » Sat Jul 12, 2014 3:08 am

Matthew Ellard wrote:However, as the penalty for disrupting tax collection for non-Roman citizens was beheading, rather than crucifixion, it does seem that the individual biblical parts of the greater event are all invented.

Gord wrote:For what crime was crucifixion a possible punishment at that time?
Slaves as a warning to other slaves, as Rome itself was full of slaves. There is only one example of any crucifixion in the entire Roman middle east, and that was probably a slave of a Roman citizen.

It is my understanding that in the Early Christian cult in Rome, that slaves joined with Roman citizens in rituals in private households . I can imagine that this is why crucifixion became the symbol. They were slaves to god, whereas a Roman pagan sort of shared his world with classical gods.

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Re: Did Jesus Exist? Skeptic Mag Vol.19 No.1

Postby Gord » Sat Jul 12, 2014 10:31 am

Ewwwwwww!
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Re: Did Jesus Exist? Skeptic Mag Vol.19 No.1

Postby Doubting Thomas » Sun Jul 13, 2014 10:11 am

Matthew Ellard wrote:
Matthew Ellard wrote:However, as the penalty for disrupting tax collection for non-Roman citizens was beheading, rather than crucifixion, it does seem that the individual biblical parts of the greater event are all invented.

Gord wrote:For what crime was crucifixion a possible punishment at that time?
Slaves as a warning to other slaves, as Rome itself was full of slaves. There is only one example of any crucifixion in the entire Roman middle east, and that was probably a slave of a Roman citizen.

It is my understanding that in the Early Christian cult in Rome, that slaves joined with Roman citizens in rituals in private households . I can imagine that this is why crucifixion became the symbol. They were slaves to god, whereas a Roman pagan sort of shared his world with classical gods.

I would be interested in the source of your information as it is somewhat different than what is supported by most historians.
Josephus, for one, recorded Jewish history, and probably among the most famous historians of the era and made several references to crucifixion.
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Re: Did Jesus Exist? Skeptic Mag Vol.19 No.1

Postby Doubting Thomas » Sun Jul 13, 2014 11:00 am

Charles Wild wrote:Did Jesus exist?

My personal feeling is that a man named Jesus did exist, however, his history was written by Hebrew-Jewish monks/reformed Hebrew-Jewish monks (religious theater writers)/whoever who wanted to create a second Moses/a second Elijah.

The New Testament is a kind of symphony two vs the Old Testament which is a kind of symphony one.

One can interpret the Bible literally - KJV Bible - or one can interpret the Bible symbolically (poetically/metaphorically) - John Bunyan - The Pilgrim's Progress; Charles and Myrtle Fillmore - New Thought / Spirtual Metaphysics, etc.

The story of Jesus when he was here (1 A.D. - 33 A.D.) is quite different than the rewritten story of Jesus which was done for political purposes (aka intentional attempts to raise money from people by telling an emotional story promising eternal life/a future pie in the sky payoff). At its best, the Christian religion is an attempt to give good values to followers; at its worst, it is an intentional con job operating as a non-profit business which is designed to raise as much money as possible for a (corrupt) foreign clergy in power and to make sure the Christian religion goes on forever - since it tends to make lots of money for the theatrical monks in power (monks who reject the idea of western democracy and replace it with a non-profit religious tyrannical dictatorship).

In the last thirty years, the politics of Rome has been revealed where it comes down to the fact that Rome is a theater company run by persons dressed like they are chararacters in an opera yet their real motivation is an international non-profit child crime hiding organization religion/protect the foreign criminal clergy at all costs which includes a bank in Rome which launders drug money. Rome is a variation of the Little Red Riding Hood fairy tale about a little girl and a Big Bad Wolf. X-ref: United Nations vs the country known as the Vatican (2014).

The musical - Jesus Christ Superstar - 1970 rock opera - looks at the character of Jesus (without going into the concept of Easter; the musical stops with the death of Jesus). Why? It leaves the question of Jesus - who is Jesus - an open question (my view).

The story of Jesus is sometimes told as being an example of Divine Love/Unconditional Love.

Perhaps that is the role of Jesus - to define/redefine what is meant by the word - love.

Divine Mind/Divine Love is quite different in nature than human love/love as expressed by Hollywood.

I tend to agree with your description. As I see it, the problem with the many religions is that they were developed by one person or small group of people that resulted in an interpretation that suited their needs at a particular time and place. The various religions seem to provide a variety beliefs and precepts that go beyond what is contained in the bible. Oddly, it seems that when a person learns a particular definition he tends to cling to that definition even if he later determines that it is false.

A better alternative is to study the Hebrew lexicons which were developed by a countless number of scholars to translate Hebrew texts. These lexicons are probably not without flaw, but they are an unbiased opinion of what the writer intended to convey. Strong’s is the most widely used of all the lexicons, and is likely viewed as the most reliable. When these lexicons are used to understand the Old Testament, a different view of god begins to emerge, and is far more revealing than that which is taught by the many religions. A review of the Hebrew lexicons reveals that the term “God” had many meanings, and was defined by the context in which it was used.

The New Testament writings can be somewhat confusing and can sometimes appear to be contradictory. The simple explanation is that they embody the suggestion that if a person is willing to contribute his talents and resources for the benefit of a social group, then his own needs will be met by the others in the same group. All errors in judgment should be overlooked by others and that his errors can also be expected to be forgiven. This was said to be the spirit of god, or as I see it, the spirit on mankind. When viewed in the context of social development, it can profoundly influence the probability of success regardless of the group size and purpose. On the other hand, a person who uses his talents and resources only for his own profit and takes from the group to elevate his own economic and social status, then he is said to be of the evil one. Spirit being the essence by which humans feel, think and decide based on affection, emotion, desire, etc. This essence is strongly influenced by the culture in which he lives.

Also, it is interesting that the New Testament does not indicate that it was necessary for one to give up his religion to follow the teachings of Jesus. Jesus and Paul continued to be Jews, and we assume that his disciples continued to be Jews. The definition of church was not at the time considered to be a separate religion but rather a gathering of people for the purpose of learning.
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Re: Did Jesus Exist? Skeptic Mag Vol.19 No.1

Postby Matthew Ellard » Mon Jul 14, 2014 1:03 am

Doubting Thomas wrote: I would be interested in the source of your information as it is somewhat different than what is supported by most historians.
Josephus, for one, recorded Jewish history, and probably among the most famous historians of the era and made several references to crucifixion.


Firstly, the Jewish rebels that Josepheus saw crucified was during the Roman Jewish war and not a civil court as per the Jesus story, thirty years earlier, before Josepheus was even born. Secondly, they were probably slaves themselves, as they were treated different to other captives. and were colleagues of Josepheus, a former slave himself until 69AD. As you know most of the surviving prisoners from the Roman Jewish war were enslaved and sent to dig public works in Seleucia.

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Re: Did Jesus Exist? Skeptic Mag Vol.19 No.1

Postby Doubting Thomas » Mon Jul 14, 2014 2:41 am

Matthew Ellard wrote:
Doubting Thomas wrote: I would be interested in the source of your information as it is somewhat different than what is supported by most historians.
Josephus, for one, recorded Jewish history, and probably among the most famous historians of the era and made several references to crucifixion.


Firstly, the Jewish rebels that Josepheus saw crucified was during the Roman Jewish war and not a civil court as per the Jesus story, thirty years earlier, before Josepheus was even born. Secondly, they were probably slaves themselves, as they were treated different to other captives. and were colleagues of Josepheus, a former slave himself until 69AD. As you know most of the surviving prisoners from the Roman Jewish war were enslaved and sent to dig public works in Seleucia.

There are some historians that question the authenticity of Josephus’s accounts regarding Jesus; as might be expected. There are others who claim they are authentic. I don’t believe that that you and I will resolve this issue here.
The same question remains however, regarding crucifixion. I am not challenging you on this issue, I would only like to review your source and judge for myself.
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Re: Did Jesus Exist? Skeptic Mag Vol.19 No.1

Postby Matthew Ellard » Mon Jul 14, 2014 5:54 am

Doubting Thomas wrote: I am not challenging you on this issue, I would only like to review your source and judge for myself.


Although the ancient Jewish historian Josephus, as well as other sources, refers to the crucifixion of thousands of people by the Romans, there is only a single archaeological discovery of a crucified body dating back to the Roman Empire around the time of Jesus. This was discovered in Jerusalem in 1968

The Crucified Man from Giv'at ha-Mivtar: A Reappraisal
http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/2 ... 4326539347

The character of Jesus from the bible was executed with common criminals. Common criminals were beheaded, not crucified. The whole premise that the Romans held an impromptu court in Jerusalem, rather than Caesarea, the administrative centre where the courts were active and then sentenced a mixed bag of criminals and a tax disrupter, is just silly. Herod had the right to execute criminals without the Romans doing anything.

When do you think the cross entered early Christian artwork? Make a guess.

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Re: Did Jesus Exist? Skeptic Mag Vol.19 No.1

Postby Doubting Thomas » Mon Jul 14, 2014 1:26 pm

Matthew Ellard wrote:
Doubting Thomas wrote: I am not challenging you on this issue, I would only like to review your source and judge for myself.


Although the ancient Jewish historian Josephus, as well as other sources, refers to the crucifixion of thousands of people by the Romans, there is only a single archaeological discovery of a crucified body dating back to the Roman Empire around the time of Jesus. This was discovered in Jerusalem in 1968

The Crucified Man from Giv'at ha-Mivtar: A Reappraisal
http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/2 ... 4326539347

The character of Jesus from the bible was executed with common criminals. Common criminals were beheaded, not crucified. The whole premise that the Romans held an impromptu court in Jerusalem, rather than Caesarea, the administrative centre where the courts were active and then sentenced a mixed bag of criminals and a tax disrupter, is just silly. Herod had the right to execute criminals without the Romans doing anything.

When do you think the cross entered early Christian artwork? Make a guess.


I have done considerable reading on this topic since yesterday and it appears that you are correct. I don’t know how this escaped my analysis in the past as I usually like to have at least two unrelated sources before I form an opinion. I will discuss this with others over the next few days and try to gain additional input.
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Re: Did Jesus Exist? Skeptic Mag Vol.19 No.1

Postby Monster » Mon Jul 14, 2014 2:24 pm

I apologize if this has already been mentioned in this thread.

Are there Roman records of a guy being crucified by Pontius Pilatus at the time of Jesus's supposed time on Earth? If so, is his name Joshua ben Joseph/Yeshua/Jesus/Iesus? Did this person have at least twelve followers? And what specifically was his crime?
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Re: Did Jesus Exist? Skeptic Mag Vol.19 No.1

Postby Matthew Ellard » Tue Jul 15, 2014 1:26 am

Monster wrote:Are there Roman records of a guy being crucified by Pontius Pilatus at the time of Jesus's supposed time on Earth? If so, is his name Joshua ben Joseph/Yeshua/Jesus/Iesus? Did this person have at least twelve followers? And what specifically was his crime?


None whatsoever. A Roman court then, was like a court today. It had scribes, Lictors to announce the magistrate, an advocate for the defendant and so on. None of these were at Jerusalem with Pilate. He went to a religious festival in little Jerusalem as governor from the provincial capital in Caeserea. He didn't take the "court clerks" with him. There was no court hearing.

The other problem is timing. If you set out the dates per the NT and then review the travel required, the whole Jesus trial gets a bit silly.

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Re: Did Jesus Exist? Skeptic Mag Vol.19 No.1

Postby Matthew Ellard » Tue Jul 15, 2014 1:44 am

Doubting Thomas wrote:[I have done considerable reading on this topic since yesterday and it appears that you are correct. I don’t know how this escaped my analysis in the past as I usually like to have at least two unrelated sources before I form an opinion. I will discuss this with others over the next few days and try to gain additional input.


Don't laugh, but I only know about this through taxation studies. I wrote an assignment on "taxation coase theory" ( All economic systems will eventually become equitable) and applied it to Roman "tax farming" ( bidding for the right to collect tax from provinces by private citizens) and thus I got to know Roman law. I actually have little interest in the Biblical aspects.

The only weird thing I came across was the food distribution temples in the middle east Roman provinces. Crassus, Caesar and others, set up temples that distributed food to retired legionnaires. I'm suspicious that members of 10th Legion Fretensis introduced the fish symbol ( Battle of Actium) at these temples and that the recurring "loaves & bread" fables have something to do with this food collection. This is why I'm so interested in the early Christian artwork that includes retired soldiers. I think they are the people who brought the monotheist cults back to Rome, as a large cultural group. This is also reflected in the conversion from cremation to burial for citizens in Rome.

Roman "black humour" of the second century
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Re: Did Jesus Exist? Skeptic Mag Vol.19 No.1

Postby papasmurf » Wed Jul 16, 2014 12:27 am

Robert Price makes an interesting statement in his book, The Incredible Shrinking Son of Man.

(paraphrasing)

Josepheus wrote volumes about the people of his day. He even wrote about common thieves, yet only a few lines did he mention the greatest man that ever lived.

It just doesn't add up.

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Re: Did Jesus Exist? Skeptic Mag Vol.19 No.1

Postby Matthew Ellard » Wed Jul 16, 2014 12:54 am

papasmurf wrote:Josepheus wrote volumes about the people of his day. He even wrote about common thieves, yet only a few lines did he mention the greatest man that ever lived.

It just doesn't add up.


I have a theory about classical arguments. Politicians used "fables" to explore issues. Cicero, himself would open debates by saying "There was a fox and a hare". My gut feeling is that the character Jesus was originally used by Romans more as a fable than a real person. After 2,000 years the intent of the words has been lost.

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Re: Did Jesus Exist? Skeptic Mag Vol.19 No.1

Postby DogWarrior » Fri Apr 07, 2017 8:27 am

Canadian Skeptic wrote:Beyond that, however, we can likely attribute nearly every myth and narrative about Jesus to other parallel traditions, beliefs and historical contexts. Every scholar of which I'm familar, from Ehrman and Callahan to Carrier, would likely agree with that -- independent of Jesus' historical existence (or non-existence


Can you give examples and sources of these parallel traditions please.

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Re: Did Jesus Exist? Skeptic Mag Vol.19 No.1

Postby mirror93 » Mon Apr 10, 2017 4:57 am

yes, jesus existed, he was part of the illuminati.

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Re: Did Jesus Exist? Skeptic Mag Vol.19 No.1

Postby Matthew Ellard » Mon Apr 10, 2017 4:59 am

mirror93 wrote:yes, jesus existed, he was part of the illuminati.
Did you know him personally? What's your evidence? The voices in your head? :lol:

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Re: Did Jesus Exist? Skeptic Mag Vol.19 No.1

Postby Gord » Mon Apr 10, 2017 7:10 am

DogWarrior wrote:
Canadian Skeptic wrote:Beyond that, however, we can likely attribute nearly every myth and narrative about Jesus to other parallel traditions, beliefs and historical contexts. Every scholar of which I'm familar, from Ehrman and Callahan to Carrier, would likely agree with that -- independent of Jesus' historical existence (or non-existence

Can you give examples and sources of these parallel traditions please.

Canadian Skeptic hasn't posted here since August, I'm afraid.
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Re: Did Jesus Exist? Skeptic Mag Vol.19 No.1

Postby mirror93 » Mon Apr 10, 2017 8:10 pm

Matthew Ellard wrote:
mirror93 wrote:yes, jesus existed, he was part of the illuminati.
Did you know him personally? What's your evidence? The voices in your head? :lol:


I don't have a head. I'm just words in a screen

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Re: Did Jesus Exist? Skeptic Mag Vol.19 No.1

Postby papasmurf » Tue Jul 11, 2017 3:52 pm

DogWarrior wrote:
Canadian Skeptic wrote:Beyond that, however, we can likely attribute nearly every myth and narrative about Jesus to other parallel traditions, beliefs and historical contexts. Every scholar of which I'm familar, from Ehrman and Callahan to Carrier, would likely agree with that -- independent of Jesus' historical existence (or non-existence


Can you give examples and sources of these parallel traditions please.


DogWarrior, check our Robert M. Price's Incredible Shrinking Son of Man. He covers quite a few of them in this book.


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