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Did Jesus exist?

For topics that are more about faith, religion and religious organisations than anything else.

Do you believe Jesus existed?

Definitely
4
6%
Probably
22
34%
Probably not
21
33%
Definitely not
8
13%
Other
9
14%
 
Total votes: 64

Message
Author
philbo
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Joined: December 18th, 2009, 3:09 pm

Re: Did Jesus exist?

#141 Postby philbo » January 1st, 2010, 9:18 pm

Latest post of the previous page:

grammar king wrote:Evidence that someone existed. Not evidence of anything extraordinary whatsoever. If someone in the pub told you about a mate they had 20 years ago you'd have no problem believing them.

I was was talking to this bloke down at the pub, he said that twenty years earlier he'd seen someone on the road who this other bloke he'd spoken to said had been crucified a few days earlier.

I've often wondered: how did Saul know that the guy on the road was the same chap who he was told (without any corroboration) was dead already? The bible doesn't mention DNA analysis, fingerprint checks or even a photo.

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Alan H
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Re: Did Jesus exist?

#142 Postby Alan H » January 2nd, 2010, 1:36 am

Yeah, but he checked his Facebook account...
Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?

Marian
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Re: Did Jesus exist?

#143 Postby Marian » January 3rd, 2010, 1:34 am

Maybe or maybe not...
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Ikiru
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Re: Did Jesus exist?

#144 Postby Ikiru » January 3rd, 2010, 3:42 am

Eight-year olds, dude...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IONyLZn0pLI :laughter:

(warning: foul language!)
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Marian
Posts: 3985
Joined: August 23rd, 2009, 2:25 pm

Re: Did Jesus exist?

#145 Postby Marian » January 3rd, 2010, 11:32 am

Ikiru wrote:Eight-year olds, dude...



You said it, man. Nobody f**ks with the Jesus! :laughter:
Transformative fire...

Maria Mac
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Re: Did Jesus exist?

#146 Postby Maria Mac » April 15th, 2017, 10:26 am

From the Guardian - not particularly convincing, imo but I want to hang on to it.

What is the historical evidence that Jesus lived and died?

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Alan H
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Re: Did Jesus exist?

#147 Postby Alan H » April 15th, 2017, 1:41 pm

Alternatively: EVIDENCE, MIRACLES AND THE EXISTENCE OF JESUS by Stephen Law.
Abstract

The vast majority of Biblical historians believe there is evidence sufficient to place Jesus’ existence beyond reasonable doubt. Many believe the New Testament documents alone suffice firmly to establish Jesus as an actual, historical figure. I question these views. In particular, I argue (i) that the three most popular criteria by which various non-miraculous New Testament claims made about Jesus are supposedly corroborated are not sufficient, either singly or jointly, to place his existence beyond reasonable doubt, and (ii) that a prima facie plausible principle concerning how evidence should be assessed – a principle I call the contamination principle – entails that, given the large proportion of uncorroborated miracle claims made about Jesus in the New Testament documents, we should, in the absence of independent evidence for an historical Jesus, remain sceptical about his existence.
Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?

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animist
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Re: Did Jesus exist?

#148 Postby animist » April 17th, 2017, 1:14 pm

Alan H wrote:Alternatively: EVIDENCE, MIRACLES AND THE EXISTENCE OF JESUS by Stephen Law.
Abstract

The vast majority of Biblical historians believe there is evidence sufficient to place Jesus’ existence beyond reasonable doubt. Many believe the New Testament documents alone suffice firmly to establish Jesus as an actual, historical figure. I question these views. In particular, I argue (i) that the three most popular criteria by which various non-miraculous New Testament claims made about Jesus are supposedly corroborated are not sufficient, either singly or jointly, to place his existence beyond reasonable doubt, and (ii) that a prima facie plausible principle concerning how evidence should be assessed – a principle I call the contamination principle – entails that, given the large proportion of uncorroborated miracle claims made about Jesus in the New Testament documents, we should, in the absence of independent evidence for an historical Jesus, remain sceptical about his existence.
I have only quickly read the full paper, and the contamination principle does seem to be interesting. But I would query its basis, which is comparing the Gospels with some hypothetical account from contemporary friends about their claimed acquaintance whom, they claimed, did miraculous things. In fact, we would I think consider this couple to be somewhat deranged if they came up with some such story. I don't think that the miracles etc claimed for Jesus do quite contaminate the claims for his existence in the same way, unless we consider all the gospellers to be deranged; the background to the Gospels is just so remote from us that I don't think the contamination idea works. (This is quite apart from the non-Xian evidences for Jesus's existence which of course do not attribute any miraculous powers to him). Unlike the stories in pagan myths about Jupiter etc doing wondrous things in virtue of the supposed fact that they were obviously divine, the Gospels appear IMO to be "about" someone not clearly divine at the outset of his life.

This is probably not too clear, and I will try to improve it!

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Tetenterre
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Re: Did Jesus exist?

#149 Postby Tetenterre » April 17th, 2017, 8:30 pm

Whether or not there was an historical Jesus (Jeshua ben Joseph?), does it matter? There's still no justification for privilege to be given to people on the grounds that they believe (or claim to believe) in the existence of supernatural beings like magic sky-fairies.
Steve

I would rather have questions that can't be answered than answers that can't be questioned. (Richard Feynman)

VINDICATOR
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Joined: December 22nd, 2016, 11:07 am

Re: Did Jesus exist?

#150 Postby VINDICATOR » May 25th, 2017, 3:09 pm

Anyone who is gullible enough to believe all the magic and other hog-wash you find in the book of fairy-tales called the Bible will believe anything you tell them! They are a threat to human destiny!

Cairsley
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Re: Did Jesus exist?

#151 Postby Cairsley » July 21st, 2017, 6:10 am

Scripture scholarship has reached the embarrassing state where there are as many opinions about Jesus as there are expert scripture scholars. It is little wonder, then, that doubts have arisen that perhaps there is no actual evidence of a historical Jesus at all.

Richard Carrier, doctor of ancient history, has proposed a new and much more rigorous approach to the question 'Did Jesus exist?' This he has done in two books, the first of which is Proving History, in which he sets out Bayes's Theorem and how it is applicable to historical questions, and the next of which is On the Historicity of Jesus, in which he examines all the evidence available concerning the existence of Jesus in history by submitting it to the test of Bayes's Theorem. This is actually not a new, highfalutin or nerdy way of treating the question but actually a method of rendering formally rigorous the logical process whereby a good historian should evaluate any evidence for any historical question. As for any empirical question, degrees of probability are the best results that can be hoped for in evaluating historical evidence.

In On the Historicity of Jesus Dr Carrier comes to the conclusion that Jesus most probably did not exist in history. His argument is complex and not possible to summarize here; I can only invite you to read the two books already cited. Part of his argument, however, I will mention. He argues that the letters of Paul of Tarsus are very much what we would expect of him if he were preaching a mystery religion in the style of mystery cults that flourished in the Graeco-Roman world during the intertestamental period, and that, as happened in other mystery cults, the story of the god's saving mission was later historicized. Thus the mythical savior of Paul's letters written in the middle of the first century CE becomes the historical savior of the gospels written towards the end of the first century CE. Dr Carrier proposes that what later became known as Christianity began as a Jewish version of the mystery cult that arisen in Greece and Persia and Egypt, featuring a dying and rising god who provided salvation from death to those who placed their faith in him and performed certain rituals as acts of that faith. In this Jewish version the savior was called Jesus (Yeshua, which appropriately means 'God saves') and, as in other mystery cults, he came down from one of the higher heavens to the level below the first heaven, in the air below the moon, where the devils and demons live and exercise power. Their he suffered death and was restored to life by the supreme god, who raised him up to share in his glory in the seventh (i.e. highest) heaven. The only way anyone knew of such salvific deeds was by revelation through visions, dreams and prophecy, and that is how Paul came to know of Jesus the savior whom he preached, beginning with his vision on the road to Damascus.

A disadvantage of the mystery religion was that there was no way of controlling who had visions and what visions they had, so divisions inevitably arose, as Paul's letters testify. The process of historicizing the myth on which the religion was based enabled the leaders of the religion to assert their version as historical fact, and anyone teaching something contrary to it could be declared to be teaching falsehood. A religion that purported to be based on historical events was better able to control its message and defend it against competitors that might otherwise fragment the community of believers. Although this post is already rather long, I will quote one passage from On the Historicity of Jesus, where he discusses the eucharistic ritual.

"Transitioning from sayings to deeds, we have the middle case of what Paul says about the origin of the Eucharist ritual, . . . . This is both an event that supposedly happened and a 'saying' Paul learned 'from the Lord' about it. It appears not to be derived from witnesses or oral tradition but from Paul's hallucinated conversations with Jesus (or so Paul claimed). Paul says (using again the same language of receiving and communicating revelations he employs in Galatians):

'For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which he was delivered up took bread, and having given thanks, he broke it and said, 'This is my body, which is for your sake. Do this in remembrance of me.' Likewise also the cup after the eating, saying, 'This cup is the new testament in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink, in remembrance of me.' For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes (1 Cor. 11:23-26).'


There are strong verbal similarities with the scene in the Gospels (whose accounts all derive from Mk 14:22-25), indicating dependence on this passage in Paul. But note how Mark alters Paul's account. Where Paul only knows of Jesus taking these objects and requesting those hearing repeat the ritual to establish communion with him, Mark turns it into a narrative scene with guests present: 'as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed and broke it, and gave it to them', and so on (Mk 14:22). Gone also is the instruction to 'do this in remembrance of me', and inserted are repeated references to people (the disciples) being present and eating and drinking with Jesus.

"If we see this for what it is -- Mark having turned Paul's ritual instructions from Jesus into a story about Jesus -- we can no longer presume that Paul is talking about an actual historical event. The more so as he says he was told this directly by Jesus, not by anyone who was present at the meal. It probably resembled the experience reported of Peter in Acts 10:9-17, where another dinner scene is hallucinated, with words also being spoken by the celestial being conducting it. Hence in Paul's case, he refers to no one else being present but Jesus. And Paul tells us he had been preaching the gospel and founding churches for three whole years before he ever spoke to anyone who could have been there (Gal. 1:15-20), and he couldn't possibly have been doing that without teaching the Eucharist ritual. He therefore must have received this revelation then, or claimed to have (Gal. 1:11-12)."

If you have not already done so, I recommend that you take a look at the two books by Richard Carrier cited above for his full argument for the view that Jesus most probably did not exist in history. It will in any case be interesting what consensus Dr Carrier's academic colleagues will reach on this question as they critique his argument.

jj50
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Re: Did Jesus exist?

#152 Postby jj50 » July 24th, 2017, 10:59 am

I am of the opinion someone called Jesus existed, but I think the gospel writers used him as a peg to hang their less than credible tales.

Cairsley
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Re: Did Jesus exist?

#153 Postby Cairsley » July 24th, 2017, 12:58 pm

jj50 wrote:I am of the opinion someone called Jesus existed, but I think the gospel writers used him as a peg to hang their less than credible tales.

That was the view I favored too, before I leaned more to Dr Carrier's view. But I am waiting for the experts in the field to thrash it out among themselves, before I take a firm view on it.

Bart Ehrman's work had made me aware of how little the Gospels can be relied on for information about the supposed historical man named Jesus, and I regarded the Jesus presented in the Gospels as a fabrication made up of what you kindly call "their less than credible tales"; but I still thought it more reasonable to think that there was some historical man in Palestine early in the first century who started up the movement that later became Christianity, since there seemed to be no other way to explain the emergence of communities of believers in Jesus, which later developed into Christian churches. I was aware of Dr Carrier's work in which he applied Bayes's theorem to the evidence available, and his conclusion that Jesus was probably not a historical person. It was a bit later that I read more of his argument, specifically his account of mystery religions flourishing in the Graeco-Roman world of the intertestamental period and his evaluation of the epistles (especially of Paul) alongside extrabiblical epistles written in the first two centuries (e.g. First letter of Clement) to point out that the earliest Christian writings that we have conform to the writings of a mystery religion rather than of a religion founded by a historical preacher. This insight, that what is now Christianity began as a mystery cult within intertestamental Judaism, thus answered the question how Jesus-following communities could have arisen if there were no historical Jesus.

jj50
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Re: Did Jesus exist?

#154 Postby jj50 » July 25th, 2017, 8:20 am

Oh well I guess we will never know for sure.

This forum isn't exactly lively is it? :shrug:

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Alan H
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Re: Did Jesus exist?

#155 Postby Alan H » July 25th, 2017, 8:55 am

jj50 wrote:Oh well I guess we will never know for sure.
Unless he turns up himself or some startling new evidence comes to light, all we are left with is a variety of different interpretations of the existing literature and evidence. But an interesting question to ask is what would be convincing evidence one way or the other?

This forum isn't exactly lively is it? :shrug:
It has had it busy times, but it is quiet these days.
Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?

Cairsley
Posts: 28
Joined: July 4th, 2014, 2:25 am

Re: Did Jesus exist?

#156 Postby Cairsley » July 26th, 2017, 4:06 pm

Alan H wrote:Unless he turns up himself or some startling new evidence comes to light, all we are left with is a variety of different interpretations of the existing literature and evidence. But an interesting question to ask is what would be convincing evidence one way or the other?

It does all come down to the evidence, and we don't have all that much of it — only the Christian scriptures and the background evidence available from studies of the history and literature of the Jews and from archaeology, geology, astronomy and other relevant sciences. More evidence would certainly help. For example, a manuscript or two by hitherto unknown mystery-cult Jesus-followers of intertestamental Palestine, or just some reference in a manuscript by someone in one of the known Jewish sects of that time to a Jewish mystery cult. Unfortunately for historians, mystery religions were secretive about their teachings, and relied on teacher-follower relationships and verbal and ritual interactions to pass on the salvific mysteries; so manuscript evidence is scant even for the Greek, Egyptian and Persian mystery religions. Useful evidence for a historical Jesus might take the form of a manuscript written by a(n educated) pagan (i.e. neither Jewish nor Christian) that referred to Jesus and described him or his activities in some way that corroborated references found in the canonical Gospels. A historian can dream...

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coffee
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Re: Did Jesus exist?

#157 Postby coffee » August 6th, 2017, 8:31 pm

This forum isn't exactly lively is it?


This is because people have found most the the answers to their life on this thread below so they tend to ask less questions now

viewtopic.php?f=16&t=4428&start=280


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