Author Topic: Episode #616  (Read 2796 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:

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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.

Offline 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?

Online 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.

Offline 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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Online 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 »

Offline 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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Offline AwfulMale

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Re: Episode #616
« Reply #43 on: August 16, 2017, 12:58:09 AM »
Dr. Robert M. Price destroyed Steven's arguments in his Bible Geek podcast 17-032, the question begins around the 1:00hr mark.  Steven is woefully unprepared to make the case for an historical Jesus.  Multiple false premises in his argument.  Mainly that Jesus was from Nazareth.  That is a modern translation.  In the original greek it simply says Jesus the Nazarian or Jesus the Nazarene.  The latter means from Nazareth but the former is a reference to a sect of Judaism, prolific to the region at the time and still existing to this day.  Dr. Price's insight here is very detailed, I won't steal his arguments.

I actually don't understand why Steven would even weigh in on this issue.  There is literally NO archaeological, historical, or corroborating evidnence of ANY kind for an historical Jesus.  So how a skeptic could be won over by such silly arguments is honestly fascinating.  But it probably more points to the ignorance of Steven on the subject. 

Mythicists like myself and Dr. Price, Carrier, et al, do not KNOW there wasn't an historical Jesus, we just say you can't prove there was! 

The best argument, to me, for mythicism is this: If there is no corroborating evidence, and we can admit the stories of Jesus from his birth, miracles, death and resurrection are obviously mythological, then why can't the whole character of Jesus be a myth?  Would you say that Hercules was based on an historical figure?  I mean he could have been a real person, but literally EVERYTHING we know about Hercules is mythological... So what is the point of jumping though mental hurdles, as Steven so erroneously put it, to prove an historical Hercules?  What purpose does that serve?  The same point can be made for Jesus.  Even if there was a guy named Jesus that, through the butterfly effect, somehow evolved into this mythological figure.... who cares?  This hypothetically real person obviously could not have been anything like the myth he became, so what's the point of even going down this rabbit hole?  I'll tell you the point:  TO SELL BOOKS!

Ehrman's historical Jesus hypothesis are honestly based on nothing.  I applaud Ehrman for his abilities to communicate the subject of biblical criticism to the lay person.  He does a great job setting the scene for early Christianity, and he brings an awareness to the early contradictory sects of the budding religion as well the contradictions in the texts themselves.  This is a great way to introduce skepticism to a Christian.  But Dr. Ehrman remains an "agnostic" and makes pointless cases for an historical Jesus for no other reason than to attract readers.  Christians interested in biblical scholarship might pick up a book by Ehrman.  He's an accomplished professor (though he has had some embarrassing moments analyzing and publishing texts which proved to be modern forgeries), he's no "atheist" (though he most assuredly is), and he makes the case for Christ (though he can't prove anything and as I laboriously pointed out above, there's no purpose in doing so without corroborating evidence).  Ehrman wants to sell books, and he sells a lot of them.

I recommend anyone interested in this subject start with the Bible Geek podcast.  He references thousands of books and scholars and makes just as many recommendations.

Offline AwfulMale

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Re: Episode #616
« Reply #44 on: August 16, 2017, 01:03:45 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.

But Mark was written decades after Jesus' alleged death...  At that time there were already dozens of sects, each with remarkably different christologies and theologies.  Ehrman's arguments put the cart before the horse and are entirely based on the dubious New Testament.  There's no point to arguing an historical Jesus until there is actual corroborating evidence.  Oh wait, selling books is a good point.

 

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