Author Topic: Episode #616  (Read 1392 times)

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Offline Ted Apelt

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Re: Episode #616
« Reply #30 on: May 01, 2017, 12:47:53 PM »
I thought the mention of the book "The Case for Christ" by Lee Strobel would add to the conversation.
As far as I know, the book attempts to research the question of the historical Jesus based on primary sources and examines more 1st century documents than were stated in the SGU episode.
I thought those sources would be worthy of additional skeptical analysis.

Full disclosure:  I have not the read the book (but have listened to Mr. Strobel being interviewed on a podcast).  I am a Christian which enjoys listening to the SGU podcast.

This book has a full review here:

Online The Latinist

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Re: Episode #616
« Reply #31 on: May 01, 2017, 01:12:40 PM »
I thought the mention of the book "The Case for Christ" by Lee Strobel would add to the conversation.
As far as I know, the book attempts to research the question of the historical Jesus based on primary sources and examines more 1st century documents than were stated in the SGU episode.
I thought those sources would be worthy of additional skeptical analysis.

Full disclosure:  I have not the read the book (but have listened to Mr. Strobel being interviewed on a podcast).  I am a Christian which enjoys listening to the SGU podcast.

I have not read the book either, but I have no reason to respect Lee Strobel's scholarship and several reasons to question his reliability.

That said, as a classicist I'm pretty familiar with Greek and Latin literature and have made a point of studying all of the passages from non-biblical sources that are cited as evidence for Jesus' existence.  All of them are questionable at best, and some are pretty obvious interpolations.  The ones that seem to be reliable at best are evidence that some decades after his death certain people believed that he had existed.
« Last Edit: May 01, 2017, 01:16:54 PM by The Latinist »
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Offline dorbie

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Re: Episode #616
« Reply #32 on: May 01, 2017, 02:04:28 PM »
Jeff Williams has launched in a Soyuz, I assume this is why he was referred to as a Cosmonaut. He is a NASA Astronaut.

Offline brilu34

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Re: Episode #616
« Reply #33 on: May 01, 2017, 09:48:26 PM »
As an atheist I don't know or care if there was a real historical Jesus. Dismissing the fact that the historical record from 2,000 years ago is sparse, seems like a creationist dismissing the fact that the fossil record is sparse, when it suits their argument. Historians are just as dedicated professionals as scientists are. Historians spend their life researching history & come to the best conclusion that they feel the evidence leads them to.

Online werecow

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Re: Episode #616
« Reply #34 on: May 02, 2017, 11:07:05 AM »
This showed up on my go-to pictures thread. Perfect timing.

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Re: Episode #616
« Reply #35 on: May 02, 2017, 12:46:22 PM »
As an atheist I don't know or care if there was a real historical Jesus.

Rather than say I don't care - I always say "it doesn't matter"... just seems to have a little more impact on people who ask, and it takes the conversation away from personal belief to historical significance.
Amend and resubmit.

Offline brilu34

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Re: Episode #616
« Reply #36 on: May 02, 2017, 09:47:32 PM »
As an atheist I don't know or care if there was a real historical Jesus.

Rather than say I don't care - I always say "it doesn't matter"... just seems to have a little more impact on people who ask, and it takes the conversation away from personal belief to historical significance.


You're right. It doesn't matter. That's why I don't care.

« Last Edit: May 02, 2017, 09:52:22 PM by brilu34 »

Offline Maddy Churchhouse

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Re: Episode #616
« Reply #37 on: May 06, 2017, 03:24:48 PM »
I SOOOO loved the discussion on the SGU about Jesus, and this thread is also great.  ;D ;D

I have to say I think what Caffeine said is the most likely, that Jesus was a merging of various people, but combined with at least one person who was born and died like Jesus. I generally believe that there was a dude called Jesus, who may or may not have been a preacher or rabbi or social annoyance. But there were many Jesus-like blokes wandering around who were preachers at that point, because the time was really ripe for the creation of a Jesus myth. Alongside apocalypticism being a common interest, this is in an era when the Jews were having a lot of bloody conflict with the Roman state and a messiah seemed like a good idea. And on top of that, it was a time when mystery cults, and weird niche religions based about similar sorts of mythology were already in full swing, such as Mithraeism, which posited this universal battle between good and evil fronted by a male messiah figure. So all of the mythology and historical circumstances were ready and ripe for a 'Jesus' to appear in the popular imagining.... all the scholars like Paul needed was for some person to come along for them to pin it on. Maybe Paul had some 'divine experience', and then was searching for an explanation, had head about some local celebrity called Jesus whose crucifixion had caused a minor disturbance a few years back, and then WHAM. The scholars start pegging all of that mythology and spiritualism which had already been fermenting onto that random bloke named Jesus. Meanwhile local people report seeing and experiencing this and that, telling their children stories, and so on. One hundred years later there are Christians all over the place, and I just find it hard to intuitively believe that the movement would have grown so far and so fast well within its first century had there not at least been a real person to hang the stories on.

I do think Steve missed a point with Alexander the Great. Because in many ways he was a highly spiritual and religious figure. That's not just due to the fact that his story was surrounded by romance, but that 'Alexander' became an archetype of the Hellenistic Basileus 'God King', which was copied by basically every leader in the East right up until the Roman period. His successors would have every reason to make up a hero so powerful, so incredible, so legendary, that it gave not only their territorial states legitimacy, but also their particular style of kingship legitimacy. However, it seems unlikely that people would have gone to all that much effort. And it is particularly unlikely considering how we have many cities named Alexandria, territorial evidence of his conquests, and Alexander had close links with more historically 'proven' figures. This is obviously a lot more evidence than exists for Jesus.  :P But just like Jesus, it definitely doesn't mean that the details of his life are true, and he really did learn from Aristotle and keep a copy of the Iliad under his pillow...

Offline Ted Apelt

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Re: Episode #616
« Reply #38 on: May 06, 2017, 05:44:12 PM »
I SOOOO loved the discussion on the SGU about Jesus, and this thread is also great.  ;D ;D

I have to say I think what Caffeine said is the most likely, that Jesus was a merging of various people, but combined with at least one person who was born and died like Jesus. I generally believe that there was a dude called Jesus, who may or may not have been a preacher or rabbi or social annoyance. But there were many Jesus-like blokes wandering around who were preachers at that point, because the time was really ripe for the creation of a Jesus myth. Alongside apocalypticism being a common interest, this is in an era when the Jews were having a lot of bloody conflict with the Roman state and a messiah seemed like a good idea. And on top of that, it was a time when mystery cults, and weird niche religions based about similar sorts of mythology were already in full swing, such as Mithraeism, which posited this universal battle between good and evil fronted by a male messiah figure. So all of the mythology and historical circumstances were ready and ripe for a 'Jesus' to appear in the popular imagining.... all the scholars like Paul needed was for some person to come along for them to pin it on. Maybe Paul had some 'divine experience', and then was searching for an explanation, had head about some local celebrity called Jesus whose crucifixion had caused a minor disturbance a few years back, and then WHAM. The scholars start pegging all of that mythology and spiritualism which had already been fermenting onto that random bloke named Jesus. Meanwhile local people report seeing and experiencing this and that, telling their children stories, and so on. One hundred years later there are Christians all over the place, and I just find it hard to intuitively believe that the movement would have grown so far and so fast well within its first century had there not at least been a real person to hang the stories on.

I do think Steve missed a point with Alexander the Great. Because in many ways he was a highly spiritual and religious figure. That's not just due to the fact that his story was surrounded by romance, but that 'Alexander' became an archetype of the Hellenistic Basileus 'God King', which was copied by basically every leader in the East right up until the Roman period. His successors would have every reason to make up a hero so powerful, so incredible, so legendary, that it gave not only their territorial states legitimacy, but also their particular style of kingship legitimacy. However, it seems unlikely that people would have gone to all that much effort. And it is particularly unlikely considering how we have many cities named Alexandria, territorial evidence of his conquests, and Alexander had close links with more historically 'proven' figures. This is obviously a lot more evidence than exists for Jesus.  :P But just like Jesus, it definitely doesn't mean that the details of his life are true, and he really did learn from Aristotle and keep a copy of the Iliad under his pillow...

What do you think of Richard Carrier?

Offline arthwollipot

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Re: Episode #616
« Reply #39 on: May 06, 2017, 07:23:37 PM »
I'm pretty sure that it was stated on the show that the multiple-origins hypothesis had been considered by scholars and considered not very likely.

Online Mr. Beagle

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Re: Episode #616
« Reply #40 on: May 11, 2017, 10:37:54 AM »
I finally got around to listening to Steve's take on Jesus, and as one who has studied this for almost 50 years, mostly in the church, I think he nailed it pretty well. Latinist also summarized this well.  Take Mark, strip out the theology, and you have a decent portrayal of a feasible Jewish mystic who shows up from an obscure village, gets a reputation as a healer and social reformer, and is summarily executed.

Paul and his followers, working among a Hellenistic society (the Jerusalem cult pretty well dead by this time), integrates a lot of Greek mythology that is perfectly reasonable to this society, such as man-God hybrids, plus a social stabilizing fabric. And it takes off. Memetic evolution at its finest.

I come out of a moderate, social justice tradition, so until the rise of the Evangelicals, I was able to justify my Christianity as historical mythos that gives language to social justice perspectives. My patience is pretty-well gone, though. The crazies have taken over and made a mockery of the Christian social justice tradition.


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Offline Ah.hell

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Re: Episode #616
« Reply #41 on: May 11, 2017, 10:45:15 AM »
. The crazies have taken over and made a mockery of the Christian social justice tradition.
I take exception to this mostly because most Christians I know are social justice types.  I tend to disagree with them on most things but their good people still trying to live up to that tradition. 

I do think Steve missed a point with Alexander the Great. Because in many ways he was a highly spiritual and religious figure. That's not just due to the fact that his story was surrounded by romance, but that 'Alexander' became an archetype of the Hellenistic Basileus 'God King', which was copied by basically every leader in the East right up until the Roman period. His successors would have every reason to make up a hero so powerful, so incredible, so legendary, that it gave not only their territorial states legitimacy, but also their particular style of kingship legitimacy. However, it seems unlikely that people would have gone to all that much effort. And it is particularly unlikely considering how we have many cities named Alexandria, territorial evidence of his conquests, and Alexander had close links with more historically 'proven' figures. This is obviously a lot more evidence than exists for Jesus.  :P But just like Jesus, it definitely doesn't mean that the details of his life are true, and he really did learn from Aristotle and keep a copy of the Iliad under his pillow...

I agree.  All of the successor states; Ptolemies, Selucids, Macedonia, Greco-Bactrians, etc...claimed their authority through the legacy of Alexander.  There's plenty of motive to puff him up or even invent him.   Also thought they were a bit dismissive of the notion that Socrates is a myth.  If you take the Jesus myth theory seriously, I don't see how you can so easily dismiss the Socrates myth theory.  There's also a small Buddha myth movement.  I would have liked to here that addressed as well. 
« Last Edit: May 11, 2017, 10:50:49 AM by Ah.hell »

Online Mr. Beagle

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Re: Episode #616
« Reply #42 on: May 11, 2017, 10:47:09 AM »
I will also note that Bart Ehrman's "How Jesus Became God" from Great Courses is a good detailed ​look at all of these arguments, and Steve's take seems close to Ehrman.

Ehrman is a former Evangelical, now agnostic, whose personal evolution on the topic is interesting in itself.
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