Author Topic: Did Jesus Exist?  (Read 7437 times)

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Offline ChrisChris

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Did Jesus Exist?
« on: March 25, 2007, 02:22:10 PM »
I for one do not think he existed as a historical person. Here's a good essay which outlines why:

http://candle2.blogspot.com/2007/02/silence-that-screams.html

What's everyone elses view of this?
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Offline teambanzai

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Did Jesus Exist?
« Reply #1 on: March 25, 2007, 02:29:23 PM »
I think it's possible. Peter Jennings did a fairly interesting special on wheather or not Jesus existed as a person it mostly delt with Jesus if he existed as a preacher rather than the son of a diety.  But the reality is we will never know.
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Offline Noah R. Miller

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Did Jesus Exist?
« Reply #2 on: March 25, 2007, 02:37:25 PM »
I mulled over this for a long time.... then I realised I can't make up my mind and because of that, I don't care.
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Offline SCriminal

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Did Jesus Exist?
« Reply #3 on: March 25, 2007, 02:48:43 PM »
I'm in the never know camp, but I'm 50-50 between thinking an individual existed who had myths built up around him and that he never existed.  If you read a lot of the events in the bible and think about them as real-world events they don't make a lot of sense.

For example, the only witnesses to the ressurection were the roman guards at the tomb, and suddenly the local roman authorities are buying the ressurection story instead of just thinking the bastard got away and going on to hunt down a fugitive.  And the timeline is rediculous.  A lot of the writers would have to live well in to their 90s.

Trying to figure out what's true in the bible is like arguing over what kind of pine cone makes the best toilet paper.  It's irrelevant.  Everyone knows you use a leaf.  The entire thing is a false premise.  There's no magic in this world.
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Offline Noah R. Miller

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Did Jesus Exist?
« Reply #4 on: March 25, 2007, 03:38:05 PM »
Quote from: "SCriminal"

For example, the only witnesses to the ressurection were the roman guards at the tomb, and suddenly the local roman authorities are buying the ressurection story instead of just thinking the bastard got away and going on to hunt down a fugitive.  And the timeline is rediculous.  A lot of the writers would have to live well in to their 90s.



Well before that everyone was 900 feet tall and lived for 700 years, and had no problems with massive incest, and could dance like the faries.
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Offline Luna

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Did Jesus Exist?
« Reply #5 on: March 25, 2007, 04:09:42 PM »
I think he did, but was he the son of god? nope there would have to be such thing as a god in order for that to be true.  :lol:
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Offline stickman

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Did Jesus Exist?
« Reply #6 on: March 25, 2007, 04:21:36 PM »
Quote from: "Noah R. Miller"
I mulled over this for a long time.... then I realised I can't make up my mind and because of that, I don't care.


I had the opposite experience.

I mulled over this for a long time.... then I realised I don't care, and because of that, I stopped trying to make up my mind.  :roll:
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Offline Nigel

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Did Jesus Exist?
« Reply #7 on: March 25, 2007, 04:28:55 PM »
The latest Logically Critical touches upon how much of history will we ever really truly know to be true, and what part of it is just unknowable.  I was a history major in undergrad.  While I think the podcast is interesting, I think it had some flaws.  

My point is that I doubt if we'll ever know if Jesus Christ existed for sure.  My suspicion is if you went into a time machine back to 30 C.E. or so to that corner of the Roman Empire, you might find someone who our present understanding of Jesus is based.  I am also certain that the difference would be far removed from the dude roaming around Palestine that is told in the new testiment.  (I am leaving out the divine part entirely when I say this.)  

This historical figure could be nothing more than a common illusionist with a trick basket full of extra loaves, and a con-man.  It could be based on a really sincere man of wise words that has been expanded beyond anything he may have imagined.  This person could be a complete nut case who actually thought he could cast out demons.  Who knows.  We'll never know.  It could all be made up.  

Now, where did I leave those plans for my time machine and those double D batteries to power it . . .  To a large extent the historical Jesus is unimportant, it is the son of god that is the big player today.  I know I shouldn't care, but I just cannot help but be curious.

Offline jason

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Did Jesus Exist?
« Reply #8 on: March 25, 2007, 04:48:22 PM »
Quote from: "Nigel"
The latest Logically Critical touches upon how much of history will we ever really truly know to be true, and what part of it is just unknowable.  I was a history major in undergrad.  While I think the podcast is interesting, I think it had some flaws.

Nigel, you may want to answer this in a new thread, but what were your issues with that episode of Logically Critical? His major point seemed to be that anything that happens anytime in the past is subject to misinterpretation, with the more time that elapses just making things worse. Do you not believe this to be the case?
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Online Neutral Milk

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Did Jesus Exist?
« Reply #9 on: March 25, 2007, 04:51:50 PM »
I second that Nigel as a history degree holder should start a new thread about the logically critical episode.  I had a few issues with it as well, but you're obviously much more experienced in these matters.  Overall I think he was fairly accurate, however, and I'd like to hear your specific thoughts.

Offline Chris Lamb

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Did Jesus Exist?
« Reply #10 on: March 25, 2007, 05:00:47 PM »
It's definately fair to say that Monty Python's The Life of Brian was more historically accurate than the Bible.

There were alot of similar figures with very similar myths built up around them at the time. It is by pure historical accident Jesus caught on and the others didn't. Regardless of whether he actually existed.
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Offline zylark

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Did Jesus Exist?
« Reply #11 on: March 25, 2007, 08:34:13 PM »
The entire Jesus story is just a myth. There is no evidence to suggest a historical Jesus. However, there were a lot of Jesuses, it was (is?) a common name afterall. The Jesus as depicted in the bible though, is about as likely as Red Riding Hood being based upon a real character.

Offline Nigel

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Did Jesus Exist?
« Reply #12 on: March 25, 2007, 09:17:59 PM »
Quote from: "Neutral Milk"
I second that Nigel as a history degree holder should start a new thread about the logically critical episode.  I had a few issues with it as well, but you're obviously much more experienced in these matters.  Overall I think he was fairly accurate, however, and I'd like to hear your specific thoughts.


I'll try and start a thread in the next day or two.  I'll just say this for now, he made some good points, but I think he over simplified a few things.  In his defense he wasn't questioning the use of the study of history, but how does one get at truth.

Offline hastrong

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Did Jesus Exist?
« Reply #13 on: March 25, 2007, 09:32:17 PM »
One reason I don't think Jesus was originally some sort of prophet is that he doesn't actually fill that role in the NT.  Supposedly, a prophet only promulgates truths already known in heaven.  Exhorting people to repent, revealing new religious teachings and foretelling the future are a perfectly in character for a such a person, but at the end of the day, he's merely a messenger for a higher power.  Historical prophets such as Mani, Zoroaster, Muhammad, John the Baptist and the OT prophets (not all historical) fit this mold pretty well.  Not so for Jesus.  He's depicted as performing the very act of mass-atonement that founds the religion, enacting a fundamental change in the cosmos.  

While a cosmic renovation is mighty out-of-character for a prophet it was well within the purview of your typical Hellenistic mystery cult god, such as Mithras, Isis, Osiris or Dionysus.   In these cults, the founding figure was believed to have performed some important symbolic act at the founding of the religion (in the distant past, or in an indeterminant place or time) and to hold the secret to eternal life.

In summary, we have a lot of precedents for a kind of founder myth that might have been historicised with legendary-ish material at a later date, but I'm not aware of any other examples of a Middle-Eastern or Greco-Roman prophet who was later turned into a god.  Jesus is thus without legendary parallels and thus unlikely to be a legend himself.  He looks a lot more like a myth.
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Offline hastrong

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Did Jesus Exist?
« Reply #14 on: March 25, 2007, 09:44:14 PM »
Quote from: "Chris_Lamb"
There were alot of similar figures with very similar myths built up around them at the time. It is by pure historical accident Jesus caught on and the others didn't. Regardless of whether he actually existed.


Right.  I'd like to caution everyone that there is a lot of misinformation out there concerning other religions from the same time period.  You'll read that there were a lot of other crucified saviors (there weren't) or that Mithraism was had 12 disciples, a virgin birth, shepherds in the fields and a resurrection (all of which are false).  The mystery religions did have a common theme of salvation and eternal life, just like Christianity.

Also, it wasn't purely an accident that Christianity caught on.  Anyone could become a Christian without devoting a lot of effort to it, including women, slaves and the poor.  This wasn't generally true of the mysteries.   Call it what you will, but it was certainly savvy marketing.
"Do unto crackers and grape juice as thou wouldst do unto me" -- Some long-haired hippie-cannibal-type long, long ago, in a Palestine far, far away.

 

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