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Old 05-03-2001, 08:31 PM   #61
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If we can extend the arguments on this thread from natural events to the supernatural, it is to inform the reader that there is a great deal of evidence for the Resurrection, far more than many people appear to realize, and when it is compared objectively to the evidence we have to other events in antiquity, it is actually an extraordinary amount of evidence.

I was wondering when you'd get around to this.

Nomad, the "amount" is not the issue. No "amount" of 2000-year-old claims can prove something impossible. Do the scores of amulets, grimoires and other magic items from that same period from all over the Mediterranean attest to the efficacy of magic? No, but they tell you what those people believed. That's all the New Testament documents can tell you about the Resurrection.

Michael
 
Old 05-03-2001, 08:44 PM   #62
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Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Lance:

Nomad: You getting going around in circles saying we have all this wonderful documentation as the life of Jesus. WE DO NOT. We have 5 vague references in documents that are not close in time and that may have been compromised by people with an agenda. And the further away you move, the more compromised you get. Do you not understand your religion's ugly history?</font>
Hello Lance.

I asked you a simple question. Was Julius Caesar assassinated? Could you answer it please?

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">I do think you are over-simplifying the Caesar argument as well. I think there are far more sources there that at least agree with the majority of facts.</font>
And this was my first question on this thread. If you can find these sources, please offer them, and we can see how they stack up.

Thanks

Nomad
 
Old 05-03-2001, 08:47 PM   #63
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Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by turtonm:

Nomad, the "amount" is not the issue. No "amount" of 2000-year-old claims can prove something impossible. Do the scores of amulets, grimoires and other magic items from that same period from all over the Mediterranean attest to the efficacy of magic? No, but they tell you what those people believed. That's all the New Testament documents can tell you about the Resurrection. </font>
Hi Michael.

I have never claimed that the New Testament tells us anything except what the people of their day believed. Since that is what all documents do, I am left to wonder why you posted this tautology.

Now, the question is, do you believe that Julius Caesar was assassinated? Do you?

The other question is what sources do you have to offer as evidence that he was assassinated. If you have them, then please put them forward so that we can examine them.

Thank you

Nomad
 
Old 05-03-2001, 09:28 PM   #64
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Nomad: There are some days I really wonder about you...

Here's one good site that has a massive list of all extant writings available from before Caesar forward.

www.fordham.edu/halsall/ancient/asbook09.html#Rome:%20Major%20Historians:%20Comple te%20Texts

www.academicinfo.net/histanc.html

I might add that all you need to do is search on "Roman History" and there's more good stuff out there than I have time in this lifetime to read!

I feel rather safe in saying that this level of Roman history is far more complete, far more able to be validated, and certain much more than 5 off-hand references to an obsure Palestinian cult leader.
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Old 05-03-2001, 09:29 PM   #65
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[QUOTE]Originally posted by Nomad:
Hi Michael.

I have never claimed that the New Testament tells us anything except what the people of their day believed. Since that is what all documents do, I am left to wonder why you posted this tautology.


It appears you DID claim that the ancient documents can tell us more than what the ancients believed. See this excerpt below:

...that there is a great deal of evidence for the Resurrection, far more than many people appear to realize, and when it is compared objectively to the evidence we have to other events in antiquity, it is actually an extraordinary amount of evidence.

You did not say "a great deal of evidence for beliefs" you said "a great deal of evidence for the Resurrection." Of course I responded to what you actually wrote.

Since that is what all any poster can do, I am left to wonder why you termed this a "tautology?"

Now, the question is, do you believe that Julius Caesar was assassinated? Do you?

Why, yes. Is it important? Do I need to list sources for all my beliefs about antiquity? Usually I go by the concensus of scholars in the field, unless I have good reason to doubt, specific knowledge, or expertise in the area in question -- and since there are no scholars that I know of who deny that Caesar was assassinated, this whole thread is moot. If you have a different position, write a paper on it, and win a prize.

Michael
 
Old 05-03-2001, 10:18 PM   #66
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Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Lance:
Nomad: There are some days I really wonder about you...

Here's one good site that has a massive list of all extant writings available from before Caesar forward.

www.fordham.edu/halsall/ancient/asbook09.html#Rome:%20Major%20Historians:%2 0Complete%20Texts

www.academicinfo.net/histanc.html

I might add that all you need to do is search on "Roman History" and there's more good stuff out there than I have time in this lifetime to read!

I feel rather safe in saying that this level of Roman history is far more complete, far more able to be validated, and certain much more than 5 off-hand references to an obsure Palestinian cult leader.
</font>
Hmmm. I did not notice that Nomad was claiming that the evidence for Jesus was stronger than that for the existence of the entire Roman Empire! Wow! Who made that comparison? Oh yeah, no one.

Nomad was specifically discussing the assisnation of Ceasar and its supporting sources. The links you provided do not focus on that issue and instead just provide various sources for various things about the Roman Empire. At least not that I could tell. If there are specific topics or areas that you are thinking of, please specify them. But unless those topics specifically address the source material for Ceasar's [alleged] assasination then you are way off topic.

Of course, if we were going to compare the 1000 year Roman Empire to something it would be more appropriate to compare it to the first 1000 years of Christendom. Except that would accomplish nothing and would involve quite a bit of overlap since several hundred years of the Roman Empire involve the first few hundred years of Christianity.

So. Are you saying that our source material for Ceasar's assasination is more abundant than that of Jesus' existence? If so, prove it. If not, why do you believe the former, but reject the latter?
 
Old 05-03-2001, 11:37 PM   #67
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Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by turtonm:

NOmad: Now, the question is, do you believe that Julius Caesar was assassinated? Do you?

Michael: Why, yes. Is it important? Do I need to list sources for all my beliefs about antiquity? Usually I go by the concensus of scholars in the field, unless I have good reason to doubt, specific knowledge, or expertise in the area in question -- and since there are no scholars that I know of who deny that Caesar was assassinated, this whole thread is moot. If you have a different position, write a paper on it, and win a prize.</font>
Thank you Michael. This was what I was looking for. Now, if only a few other sceptics would have your courage, and admit the obvious, then we could, indeed, wrap up this thread successfully.

Nomad
 
Old 05-04-2001, 12:04 AM   #68
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Man, leave the board for a few weeks and this issue is still being seriously debated? I don't have a lot of time, but I have read a Layman approved history of Jesus, E.P. Sanders The Historical Figure of Jesus which, in my opinion, turns this entire thread into a massive joke. But a few caveats before I begin.

First, I have not been arguing that Jesus is not a historical figure. In fact, I have been flamed by other atheists for suggesting otherwise. I fully accept, and always have, the historical figure of Jesus. What I have argued, and will continue to argue with the full backing of Sanders, is that the quality of evidence for the eventsJesus is very poor compared to other great men of the era, such as Caesar. Sanders is very clear on this point:

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">
Our information is deficient [in regards to Jesus] in comparison to what is available for most of the great men of of the Graeco-Roman world. Men like Brutus, Caesar, Pompey, Antony, and on came from well-known families, lived a lot of their lives in the public spotlight, and associated with men of letters, who sometimes wrote about him, or about the events in which they participated.
p.76
</font>
The fact is that the basic facts of Caesar's life is not in question. The man wrote at least 11 volumes about his own life, and much of what he wrote was confirmed by other sources, most notably by an political opponent, Cicero, who's apparently suffering from post-mortem character assassination, probably because he has the audacity to throw the theistic argument on this board into utter chaos.

In comparison, there is no information that dates from Jesus's time. Not a single word. Everything that was written about Jesus was written decades after his death, and as Sanders points out after noting that all the gospel writers had were a disconnected set of stories:

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">
I have been writing as all the early Christians did to the material was to move it around and write brief introductions such as 'at that time'. But they also revised it. Revision of material that is reused is inevitable. The alternative to introducing minor alterations to make a periscope [Jesus story] relevant to a new audience and a new situation would be embalming it. The Christian material was kept alive and fresh, even though it was used over and over again, by being applied to living issues -- not all of which were the issues of Galilee between 25 and 30 CE.
Moreover, the early Christians also created new material; they made things up.
pp. 61-62
</font>
Sanders goes on to say that they weren't being dishonest, but that they were adding things they believed to be true because they saw it in visions and dreams. But that is beside the point. No doubt, there are distortions in Caesar's story too. But there is a major difference between the two figures: Caesar's life was well-documented and that puts on damper on the distortion possible. Jesus, on the other hand, was an obscure character in his own lifetime. And as Sanders noted the gospels "are tainted by the fact that they were written by people who intended to glorify their hero p.3" The implication of that fact should be obvious even to theists (though they won't like it).

The fact is, standard historical methods applied equally to both figures leaves a substantial and supported history of Caesar, while Jesus's life is threadbare at best. Again, I can lean on theologian Sanders for support. Throughout his book, he throws this caution:

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">
Ancient history is difficult. It requires above all common sense and a good feel for the sources. Our sources contain information about Jesus, but we cannot get at it by dogmatically deciding that some sentences are completely accurate and some are fiction. The truth will usually lie somewhere in between. As I have already said more than once, and may repeat several more times, we have very good knowledge of Jesus at a somewhat general level.
p.57
</font>

In fact, a similar phrase "excellent knowledge about Jesus on a general level" appears on the dust jacket. Similar problems no doubt arise with Caesar. We almost certainly don't know the exact details of his assassination. But pick up any book by a sober historian and you'll never see a disclaimer like that, while details are piled confidently on details. The reason is clear: we have, as Sanders pointed out, much better information about historical personages like Caesar.

What about independent sources? Is Josephus an independent source? Yes, but with the caveat that it had been preserved by Christian scribes:

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">
who couldn't resist the temptation to revise the text and thus make Josephus claim Jesus 'was the Messiah'; that he 'taught the truth'; and after his death he was 'restored to life'
p.50
</font>
At best, Josephus considered Jesus a historical figure that, in Sanders words "was important enough to merit a paragraph -- no more and no less". Hardly a mountain of information.

Nor does he consider the gospels an independent source. Though he never says it explicitly, his attitude is implicit in his many discussions of the gospels, such as the following on p. 4:

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">
Our confidence is increased by the fact that some our sources are independent of one another. Paul gives important evidence that reveals some of Jesus' views and expectations, and Paul's letters were written before the gospels. On the other hand, his letters were collected and published after the gospels were written; thus Paul did not know the gospels, and the authors did not know Paul's letters.
</font>
If he considered the synoptic gospels independent of each other, wouldn't this have been the perfect time to discuss it? I could post other examples, but this is getting to be way too long as it is.

Even more damaging to the independence issue is that Sanders doesn't consider John to
be a source for the historical Jesus at all! As he informs us on page 71:

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">
They [scholars] have almost unanimously, and I think entirely correctly, concluded that the teachings of the historical Jesus is to be sought in the synoptic Gospels and that John represents an advanced theological development.
</font>
To close, let me say this, lest anyone thinks I'm misrepresenting what Sanders has to say. He does think quite a bit can be known about the historical Jesus. But, as he points out in the preface of his book, there are some who would stretch the claims for the historical Jesus beyond what is justified [read Nomad, Layman, and Bede]. He'd laugh, just as I do, at the notion that the evidence for Jesus even remotely compares to the evidence for a figure such as Caesar.

In short, Nomad's question is entirely harmful to his cause. If we can't possibly know whether Caesar was assassinated, given the quality of sources we have for him as a historical figure, how can we possibly conclude from the comparatively poor sources for Jesus that he was actually God? The stretch is spectacular, and entirely harmful to the notion that Nomad, Layman, or Bede has any respect towards the how history is actually done.

I'm afraid the double standard on this board is entirely on the theistic side. Whenever I pick up a book about the historical Jesus by a serious (even one recommended by Layman himself) I find the views expressed on this board by the big three to be entirely refuted.
 
Old 05-04-2001, 05:09 AM   #69
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[This message has been edited by turtonm (edited May 04, 2001).]
 
Old 05-04-2001, 06:10 AM   #70
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Thank goodness! A voice of reason!

Nomad, I'd also ask you this. If Jesus was so important to the Christ cult, why do we not have his exact DOB and the date of his death? The Romans could at least remember Caesar's, if Jesus was SOOOOO important, why not these simple facts.

Or is it simply that its all made up?
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