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Old 04-26-2001, 07:28 PM   #21
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What is reliably known about Jesus?

I'm not sure, but, personally, I think what Saul / Paul claimed about the historical Jesus is more reliable than what Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John said decades later.

What did Paul have to say about the historical Jesus? I noted the following items as I recently read the King James Version of the Pauline epistles:

According to Paul, Jesus was
- of the seed of David
- born of woman
- had a brother (perhaps more)
* was sinless
* became perfect
- was tempted
- was rich, but became poor for his followers (because He had the wealth of God? or did Paul think Jesus was financially wealthy on Earth?)
- was taken before Pontius Pilate where he gave a good confession
- was killed by the Jews
- was crucified
- was buried
* rose (resurrected) the third day

Until I am given evidence that suggests otherwise, I tend to accept the listed items except the starred ones. If it wasn't for Paul, I would likely doubt the very existence of Jesus like I would doubt the existence of Hercules or Adam. Perhaps the "Q" document has more to say that might convince me that more of the traditional Jesus actually existed.

 
Old 04-26-2001, 07:56 PM   #22
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This might be interpreted as a rather low blow, but...

I think that an interesting comparison would be with a certain Lafayette Ronald Hubbard, inventor of Dianetics and founder of he Church of Scientology. LRH is abundantly documented outside of the CoS, but if we had only a few stray comments outside of the CoS's picture of him, what could we plausibly conclude about him?

That LRH was everything that the CoS has claimed that he was?

That LRH was a real person, whose achievements were exaggerated by the CoS?

That LRH was a myth, some sort of projection of the ideal Scientologist or whatever?
 
Old 04-27-2001, 12:12 AM   #23
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The "extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence" idea may have come from Bertrand Russell.
 
Old 04-27-2001, 02:51 AM   #24
Bede
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Kate,

EP Sanders did a list in one of his books that Graham Stanton quotes with approval. It isn't quite perfect (and I'm quoting from memory) but it can be said that the vast majority of scholars would agree with each item although many would disagree with one or two.

- Jesus was a Jew from Nazereth;
- He was baptised by John the Baptist;
- He had disciples;
- He was a teacher who used parables;
- He was believed to be a miracle worker;
- He challenged the priestly establishment at the Temple;
- He was crucifed under Pontius Pilate outside Jerusalem at Passover in 30AD/33AD;
- After his death, his disciples believed he was, in some sense, still with them.

Yours

Bede

Bede's Library - faith and reason
 
Old 04-27-2001, 03:35 AM   #25
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Bede, Thank you for the reply. That was exactly the sort of direction I was hoping this would go.

I have one question about your list. Point number five:
He was believed to be a miracle worker.

I'm not sure what is meant here by "was believed". Many, many people believe this today. Historically speaking, do we have a sense of when people began to believe this? How unusual would belief in the ability to perform miracles have been?

Also, the final point:
After his death, his disciples believed he was, in some sense, still with them.
What historical evidence do we have to the mindset of the disciples?
 
Old 04-27-2001, 03:51 AM   #26
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Bookman,

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">I have one question about your list. Point number five:
He was believed to be a miracle worker.

I'm not sure what is meant here by "was believed". Many, many people believe this today. Historically speaking, do we have a sense of when people began to believe this? How unusual would belief in the ability to perform miracles have been?</font>
Very common. Magicians with various powers were found all over the Roman Empire and widely feared and respected. That magic was possible was taken for granted and it seems very likely that Jesus was believed to have such powers while he was alive. Even today we have faith healers and psychics who can convince audiences so a sceptic should have no trouble believing Jesus had a similar aura.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Also, the final point:
After his death, his disciples believed he was, in some sense, still with them.
What historical evidence do we have to the mindset of the disciples?[/B]</font>
That's two questions .

We have the doctrines of Christianity such as the beliefs of Paul and the creeds he quotes. Christianity was born out of the disciples of Jesus who were still alive when Paul wrote. We descend into conspiracy theories if we believe that they didn't think Jesus was in some way still with them and Paul and Co did.

Yours

Bede

Bede's Library - faith and reason
 
Old 04-27-2001, 06:16 AM   #27
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Good catch. I saw the one/ two question thing after I posted but decided not to edit.

Understand please that I am no scholar; I'm relying primarily on intuition here.

I understand that you are not claiming that the ressurection is established historically. Are you saying that it is a historical truth that his disciples (whoever they actually were) believed, at least, in some sort of spiritual re-birth? That they could "feel his presence" in some way?

If so, how unique was this for the period? Would this have been an unusual attitude - that the dead could still observe the world and have their presence felt? Was there a general belief in ghosts or the like?

Thanks again!
Bookman
 
Old 04-27-2001, 06:25 AM   #28
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Originally posted by Bede:
Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">We have the doctrines of Christianity such as the beliefs of Paul and the creeds he quotes. Christianity was born out of the disciples of Jesus who were still alive when Paul wrote. We descend into conspiracy theories if we believe that they didn't think Jesus was in some way still with them and Paul and Co did.</font>
I'll add that even Hyam Maccoby (in The Mythmaker: Paul and the Invention of Christianity) does not deny that the Jerusalem Christians believed in the resurrection of Jesus. (He denies only that the resurrection had the same theological significance to the Jerusalem Christians as it had to Paul. But that's another matter, unrelated to the point of this thread.)
 
Old 04-27-2001, 07:35 AM   #29
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Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">I understand that you are not claiming that the ressurection is established historically. Are you saying that it is a historical truth that his disciples (whoever they actually were) believed, at least, in some sort of spiritual re-birth? That they could "feel his presence" in some way?

If so, how unique was this for the period? Would this have been an unusual attitude - that the dead could still observe the world and have their presence felt? Was there a general belief in ghosts or the like?</font>
Bookman,

Yes, the I think it is a widely accepted historical truth that the disciples thought they felt Jesus's presense in some way and yes, there was a belief in ghosts and they appear in the literature of the time (Virgil is full of them).

However, trying to pin this sort of thing down runs the risk of destroying the consensus. Once we suggest what the presense the disciples thought they felt actually was we are no longer dealing with widely accepted history but on hypotheses about which many disagree.

Yours

Bede

Bede's Library - faith and reason
 
Old 04-27-2001, 08:29 AM   #30
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Good point, and it was not really my intent to descend into the minutia. I actually just wanted to put the belief of the disciples in context, so that I could judge how unusual their beliefs about Jesus would have been for the time in which they lived.

Polycarp, Layman, I know you don't have much time right now, but if either of you could spare a quick post in reply to Bede indicating if you are in general agreement with his list of items, or if there appear to be any glaring omissions.

Thanks again Bede!
Bookman
 
 

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