Author Topic: Episode #616  (Read 1391 times)

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Offline Steven Novella

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Episode #616
« on: April 29, 2017, 11:17:36 AM »
Forgotten Superheroes of Science: Peggy Whitson; News Items: Worms That Eat Plastic, Artificial Photosynthesis, Historical Jesus, Hobbit Update; Who’s That Noisy; Science or Fiction
Steven Novella
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Offline Ted Apelt

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Re: Episode #616
« Reply #1 on: April 29, 2017, 01:58:45 PM »
Your analysis of the historical Jesus controversy is one of the best I have ever heard.  However you did miss the argument, mostly advanced by Richard Carrier, that the authors of the gospels INTENDED what they wrote to be understood as fiction.  Very elaberate examples can be found here: https://youtu.be/2e7uhaed594?t=1750, a very simple example is Jesus cursing the fig tree when it had no figs.  He knew that it was not the season for figs, the story says so.  Obviously, this story is FICTION, and has a deeper meaning of Israel  having lost its way or something along those lines (I can't remember exactly), but the readers of this story would know exactly what the author was referring to, and events surrounding this story make it even more clear.

Of course, real people can have fictional things written about them all the time (George Washington and the cherry tree for example), but the ONLY writings we have of Jesus walking around on Earth are from gospel stories (about 40, widely differing in content - one has king Herod executing Jesus), and none of them connect very well to history. or to each other, just try to reconstruct what happened when the Resurrection occurred (who went where at what time) and it is like trying to reconstruct the history of the Starship Enterprise.

We will never know for sure.  It was over 2,000 years ago with next to nothing in the form of physical evidence to go on, but still the mythist position makes more sense to me than anything else.

Offline Ted Apelt

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Re: Episode #616
« Reply #2 on: April 29, 2017, 02:19:19 PM »
I`m sorry, but I just realized that I forgot one of my most important arguments, and that is the original ending of Mark.  It says that after the women visiting the tomb were told by an angel that Jesus has risen and they were to tell everybody, "they told no one, for they were afraid".  Then the story ENDS.  We know this because we have two copies of it, from the fourth century, and these are the oldest complete Gospels known.  (One of them is Mark only, the other one has Luke beginning right after Mark ends.)  Think about this for a minute.  If they never told anyone, how is it that anyone knows about it?  Hmmm.  ???  Of course, later versions fixed this problem by having Jesus reappear on Earth, and this happened after Christianity became an official religion and the church wanted Jesus and the disciples to be real people, not the first century equivalent of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn.

The FACT that they made this insertion also throws all of the story into serious question.  What else might have been inserted before the fourth century?  We only have one tattered fragment of a page from the third century and zip before that.

Offline 2397

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Re: Episode #616
« Reply #3 on: April 29, 2017, 02:37:50 PM »
Seems a bit weird to talk about someone as forgotten when they're currently on the ISS.

To be fair, I didn't know that (I looked over this list, and recognized three of the names). But maybe the segment needs a new name. Like replacing or amending forgotten with underappreciated.

Offline 2397

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Re: Episode #616
« Reply #4 on: April 29, 2017, 04:06:03 PM »
My take on the historical Jesus is that it's irrelevant whether there was one, when they clearly were nothing like the mythological and divine Jesus. In terms of the validity of any of the claims in the Bible, or as a foundation for the religions of today, besides what can be argued for and against independently. If there's anything meaningful contained in the present day religions, it's meaningful regardless of what did or didn't happen before Rome decided what Christianity was.

Maybe there was a historical Satan, too. Who killed some guy's family because they believed they had made a bet with God to test how much shit and torment he could endure.

And maybe there was an Abraham who believed God told him to kill his son, but just as a joke. Unlike the many people who go through with killing their children as a divine calling.

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Re: Episode #616
« Reply #5 on: April 29, 2017, 06:30:58 PM »
Before listening to the segment, my opinion was: There probably was a Jewish apocalyptic preacher by the name of Jesus, possibly baptized by John and maybe executed by crucifixion for preaching stuff Rome didn't like. Obviously, much of what was said about him is impossible, and much other stuff is contradictory. Maybe he preached a philosophy of nonviolence and voluntary poverty. Then Paul came along and turned it all on its head, creating the cult of Jesus which became Christianity.

After listening to the segment, I think it's much less likely that any historical Jesus existed at all. Though I'm under the impression that there were itinerant preachers at the time, and that apocalypticism was a popular theme among them. Maybe voluntary poverty and nonviolence as well. So he could well be an amalgam of the type.

I have Christian friends who think it is irrelevant whether Jesus existed or not. For them, the message attributed to him is what matters. Voluntary poverty, service to the poor, nonviolence. Obviously, they are entirely outside the mainstream of Christianity.

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Re: Episode #616
« Reply #6 on: April 29, 2017, 07:01:11 PM »
Socrates believed that writing would cause people to neglect the skill of memorization, which he felt was essential.
Daniel
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Offline lonely moa

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Re: Episode #616
« Reply #7 on: April 29, 2017, 08:28:33 PM »
detritus, accent second syllable, long "i".

habillis, accent first syllable. The good doctor was onto it.

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Re: Episode #616
« Reply #8 on: April 29, 2017, 10:17:52 PM »
Maybe there was a historical Satan, too.

I took part of a course on India a little over a year ago, and they talked a bit about the ties between Hinduism and Zoroastrianism, and how it points to a shared origin. For example, the Daeva are basically Zoroastrianism's demons, whereas the Deva are Hinduism's deities. The Asura, on the other hand, are Hinduism's demons, but Ahura Mazda is Zoroastrianism's creator God. IIRC the speculation was that this was the direct result of the Iranian/Indian split, and that a lot of their respective mythologies may have been rooted in their shared history. I think he even speculated that a lot of figures from these mythologies may have originally been historical figures.
« Last Edit: April 29, 2017, 10:22:28 PM by werecow »
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Re: Episode #616
« Reply #9 on: April 29, 2017, 10:32:14 PM »
After listening to the segment, I think it's much less likely that any historical Jesus existed at all. Though I'm under the impression that there were itinerant preachers at the time, and that apocalypticism was a popular theme among them. Maybe voluntary poverty and nonviolence as well. So he could well be an amalgam of the type.

There is one thing that Christopher Hitchens pointed out that I found kind of interesting: the sheer amount of fabrication needed to get Jesus from Nazareth to Bethlehem may be significant; if Jesus was a purely fictional character, why not just have him born in Bethlehem and be done with it?

Anyway, he says it much better than I can:


Offline JuniorSpaceman

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Re: Episode #616
« Reply #10 on: April 29, 2017, 11:22:28 PM »
After listening to the segment, I think it's much less likely that any historical Jesus existed at all. Though I'm under the impression that there were itinerant preachers at the time, and that apocalypticism was a popular theme among them. Maybe voluntary poverty and nonviolence as well. So he could well be an amalgam of the type.

There is one thing that Christopher Hitchens pointed out that I found kind of interesting: the sheer amount of fabrication needed to get Jesus from Nazareth to Bethlehem may be significant; if Jesus was a purely fictional character, why not just have him born in Bethlehem and be done with it?
Thank you for posting the video - it's always fun to be reminded of Hitch.

As for the claim, that would make more sense if we are imagining Jesus was 'invented' in the same way that 'Don Draper' was invented - to fulfill a particular storyline, by a person (or a small group of people) who had a particular narrative in mind for him. All of the 'problems' that Christian apologetics needs to resolve only come about because of a later, larger structure imposed on the narrative, that would not have been there in the first place. On his way to becoming the Christian god and part of the trinity, Jesus would have gone through a number of identities - teacher; prophet; messiah (which in Jewish mythology was not equivalent to god); and perhaps some others that we have lost trace of.

My biggest problem with this sort of 'wouldn't you expect ...' argument for religion (eg "If he was made up, wouldn't you expect them to invent him as being born in the right place?") is that they are weaknesses being sold as strengths for no logical reason. As such, they're identical to the conspiracy theorists' "It must be true, because the fact there's no evidence here (or contrary evidence here) proves that the evidence is manipulated by the conspirators". Starting with motivated reasoning (as Steve talked about, with regards Religion), and accepting both evidence and bad or missing evidence as convincing, you can literally prove anything.

Offline bachfiend

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Re: Episode #616
« Reply #11 on: April 30, 2017, 04:21:03 AM »
After listening to the segment, I think it's much less likely that any historical Jesus existed at all. Though I'm under the impression that there were itinerant preachers at the time, and that apocalypticism was a popular theme among them. Maybe voluntary poverty and nonviolence as well. So he could well be an amalgam of the type.

There is one thing that Christopher Hitchens pointed out that I found kind of interesting: the sheer amount of fabrication needed to get Jesus from Nazareth to Bethlehem may be significant; if Jesus was a purely fictional character, why not just have him born in Bethlehem and be done with it?

Anyway, he says it much better than I can:



Matthew 2:23 has it 'And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was  spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene'.  This was after Jesus was born in Bethlehem, Mary and Joseph fleeing to Egypt to avoid Herod's massacre of the innocents and returning to Palestine, but to an insignificant place, because Herod's son was on the throne.

The trouble is, there is nothing in the Old Testament even remotely resembling a prophesy that the messiah was going to be a Nazarene or would come from Nazareth.

In Isaiah 11:1 'There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots'.

In Hebrew, 'branch' is 'netzer' with is very close to Nazareth.  The suggestion is that the prophesy was suggesting that the messiah was going to have humble origins, similar to being like a shoot coming from a tree stump, or coming from an insignificant place such as Nazareth.  It was figurative not meant to be taken as literally true.

So having Jesus coming from an insignificant place doesn't necessarily mean that Jesus had to be based on a historical figure.


Offline Caffiene

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Re: Episode #616
« Reply #12 on: April 30, 2017, 06:26:37 AM »
if Jesus was a purely fictional character, why not just have him born in Bethlehem and be done with it?

I agree that it seems unlikely he was purely fictional, but Im not sure that a historical jesus is the only other option. The more likely explanation to me is simply that hes an amalgamation of myths conflated from multiple sources.

There was most likely an apocalyptic preacher people told stories about.
There was most likely a teacher and/or preacher named Jesus.
There was probably somebody notable born in Nazareth.
There was most likely a popular teacher or preacher executed by crucifixion.

Were any or all of those the same person, or just a bunch of separate stories that got melded together after the fact because it sounds more impressive as one story than as four? Who knows. But to me it explains a lot of inconsistencies and the need to invent connections between contradictory information if the inconsistent information isnt referring to the same original person.
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Re: Episode #616
« Reply #13 on: April 30, 2017, 08:58:31 AM »
There is one thing that Christopher Hitchens pointed out that I found kind of interesting: the sheer amount of fabrication needed to get Jesus from Nazareth to Bethlehem may be significant; if Jesus was a purely fictional character, why not just have him born in Bethlehem and be done with it?

See, this is why I should listen to the segment before I comment on it. }|:op
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Offline Belgarath

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Re: Episode #616
« Reply #14 on: April 30, 2017, 09:08:24 AM »
After listening to the segment, I think it's much less likely that any historical Jesus existed at all. Though I'm under the impression that there were itinerant preachers at the time, and that apocalypticism was a popular theme among them. Maybe voluntary poverty and nonviolence as well. So he could well be an amalgam of the type.

There is one thing that Christopher Hitchens pointed out that I found kind of interesting: the sheer amount of fabrication needed to get Jesus from Nazareth to Bethlehem may be significant; if Jesus was a purely fictional character, why not just have him born in Bethlehem and be done with it?

Anyway, he says it much better than I can:



My counter to that is actually quite simple.  There were likely contradictory 'myths' that grew up around Jesus after Paul.  Then somewhere in the late First or early Second Century, someone decided to harmonize these stories and that's how you get the whole mess of fabrication.  Certainly if you accept that the story was made up all at once, you'd just put Jesus in Bethlehem.  Not if you're trying to knit together popular differing stories.

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