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Old 04-24-2001, 07:22 AM   #121
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by DougI:
They could have edited the texts like they have done throughout history or they could have taken the name from an insignificant hamlet, which when the propaganda was written it had flourished into a city. But I am impressed by the pathetic attempts of apologists to suggest that a question is evidence or am I should I just expect the apologist's answer to always be, "It's in the bible so it must be true." But judging from the commentary I receive from apologists I'm dealing with children</font>
Speaking of evidence Doug, what is yours? Is there any evidence that all references to Nazareth were later textual insertions? None that I am aware of. As far as I have read, such references are uninform throughout our rich textual manuscript evidence.
 
Old 04-24-2001, 07:37 AM   #122
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Doug,

I am going to give you the benefit of the doubt, and assume you have missed my four previous posts. After all, that can be the only reason you have not replied to me yet, right?

So here is my original post to your first queery again:

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by DougI:

The evidence for Nazareth not existing is the failure of record. The Talmud, although mentioning numerous cities, fails to give mention to the city of Nazareth. Josephus mentions a small village a mile away from present day Nazareth but manages to miss the entire city of Nazareth. No archeological evidence for Nazareth having existed in the first century (so my dates may be wrong, Nazareth probably didn't exist until 100 years after Jesus' alleged death).</font>
Hello Doug.

I would like to refer you to my original post in my Common Scpetic (sic) Myths thread. I will post the relevant passage for this discussion:

1. Myth: Nazareth is an invention of the Gospels, and never actually existed until Constantine had the town built in the 4th Century AD.

Truth: I donít know where this one got started, but it is a remarkably persistent myth. Archeological discovers have already debunked it.

"Despite Nazareth's obscurity (which had led some critics to suggest that it was a relatively recent foundation), archeology indicates that the village has been occupied since the 7th century B.C., although it may have experienced a 'refounding' in the 2d century b.c. "
( John P. Meier, A Marginal Jew--Rethinking the Historical Jesus, (vol 1), p.300-301...cites Meyers and Strange, Archeology, the Rabbis, and Early Christianity, Abingdon:1981. pp.56-57)

"Despite the Hellenization of the general region and the probability that Greek was known to many people it seems likely that Nazareth remained a conservative Jewish village. After the Jewish war with the Romans from AD 66-70 it was necessary to re-settle Jewish priests and their families. Such groups would only settle in unmixed towns, that is towns without Gentile inhabitants. According to an inscription discovered in 1962 in Caesarea Maritima the priests of the order of Elkalir made their home in Nazareth. This, by the way, is the sole known reference to Nazareth in antiquity, apart from written Christian sources...
Some scholars had even believed that Nazareth was a fictitious invention of the early Christians; the inscription from Caesarea Maritima proves otherwise."
( Paul Barnett, Behind the Scenes of the New Testament, p.42)


Out of curiosity, where did you come by your belief that Nazareth was a Biblical fiction?

Nomad
 
Old 04-24-2001, 11:31 AM   #123
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NOMAD: Since the Christian sources are not calling Pilate "procurator", why claim that the use of this term suggests Christian interpolation?

I think it is far more probable that Tacitus was simply using the title that was most commonly known to his readers of the early 2nd Century, and he made this choice regardless of who he used as a source. As for trying to pass this off as somehow a Christian invention, or that he had to have gotten this information from Christians, the reasoning behind this escapes me completely.

EARL: The bottom line on Tacitus is as Turtonm says: there is no way of knowing where Tacitus got his information from, and therefore the passage cannot be used as an independent source for Jesus' historicity.

The Christians may not have given Tacitus the term "procurator," and Tacitus may have used the term "procurator" because of its familiarity, but that's not the point. The point is that the use of "procurator" is more compatible with the lack of a contemporary Roman record of Jesus' crucifixion than with a quotation from it on Tacitus' part. And since the non-Christians of Tacitus' period would not likely have given him the information on Jesus' crucifixion since they wouldn't have cared to memorize it, there are only two options for the source of Tacitus' information: the Christians of his period or an early Roman record of Jesus' crucifixion. Given Tacitus' use of the latter we would have expected him (1) simply to copy Pilate's correct title, and (2) not to have used Jesus' religious title, which wouldn't have been present in the Roman record. But Tacitus did the opposite, which gives us two reasons to think Tacitus' information did not come from a Roman record. Since the only other option is that Christians gave Tacitus the information, that's the option we're left with.

Does this mean that it's logically impossible that Tacitus used a Roman record? Of course not, as Nomad shows: Tacitus may both have used the record AND added information to it, such as Pilate's false title and Jesus' religious title. But here Occam's Razor would seem to apply. The simpler explanation is that since these two pieces of information would have been rendered less likely given the quotation of a Roman source--the Roman record would have contradicted them--Tacitus did not quote from such a record. Add to this the initial unlikelihood of the existence of such a record, since the Romans would not likely have recorded every single crucifixion they organized, and we have to conclude that Tacitus probably got the bare fact of Jesus' execution under Pilate from Christians.

There is no reason that I'm aware of that makes Tacitus' use of a Roman record not just logically possible but MORE likely than the use of hearsay from Christians. Nomad's point, for example, that Tacitus COULD have both used a Roman record and added information to it, such as Pilate's false title and Jesus' religious title, shows only that the two together are logically possible or consistent, not that this scenario is probable. The probability of the opposite conclusion is based on its simplicity. It's easier to explain Tacitus' error and religious terminology in terms of the absence of a Roman record, by application of Occam's Razor.

 
Old 04-24-2001, 12:35 PM   #124
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Polycarp:
[b] As youíve noted, and I would agree, we really donít gain any new knowledge about Jesus from any of these sources. If anything we get confirmation of a few details Ė Jesus lived in the Palestine area, he was executed by the Romans, and some of his followers worshipped him after he died. Would you say this is an accurate summary ?

Sounds good to me.

We really canít trust Christian sources on the issue of Jesus because theyíre biased and we know they always lied about everything. Do you think the gnostic Christians were an honest bunch?

Peace,

Polycarp

</font>
I know it is a facetious question, but who knows? I don't consider mythmaking to be "lying" in the conventional sense (forgeries of medieval and middle ages are another matter). When the plains chiefs got back from meeting Wovoka, some reported that he had flown over their heads on a horse. Were they lying? Their stories were fictions, but "lies?"

Anyway, this certainly has been an interesting debate. And i am sorry, again, to have been so nasty in the opening round. You have been more tolerant than I deserved.

If you ever find Serapion in greek, let me know.

Nomad, you have rules of evidence exactly backward. Suetonius wrote "Chrestus." It is up to you to demonstrate that he indeed followed many others in making a common mistake. It is not up to me to confirm that it is NOT a variant spelling of "Christ" (how could that be done?) Mind you, I don't think it is unreasonable to regard that as a potential early reference to Christianity, I just don't think we can come to a firm conclusion about it either way.

Michael
 
Old 04-24-2001, 06:10 PM   #125
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">
If he says that heís at risk, who are you to question it?
</font>
Who am I to question it? Merely:

the son of an Air Force OSI (internal affairs) agent.
Who then went on to become a deputy sheriff and retired as a prison guard.
Whose grandfather was also a prison guard in the same prison.
And whose past two roommates were also in law enforcement.

Turkel is lying. His stated reason for using the pen name doesn't wash. He says he doesn't want inmates to be able to know his real name, for fear of reprisal from inmates. Huh? The man is a librarian, for pete's sake. Reprisal for what, a late book fine?

But guess what? He works openly in the Florida state prison system, and in that capacity he is employed and uses his real name there, and not the JP Holding moniker:

http://www6.myflorida.com/publicsafe...05/page08.html


So since he is daily exposed to convicts who already know his real name, why does he persist in the claim that he uses a pen name to protect himself from convicts?

Perhaps he does not want his activity on his apologetics website connected back to him.
Perhaps he is embarrassed of his faith in a prison environment.
Perhaps he is using state equipment in the prison to set up and manage his apologetics site, and doesn't want to be caught using govt equipment for private reasons.

But whatever his real reason, his stated reason is bullshit.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">
Obviously one working in a prison might have a few experiances with inmates (who arenít there because they cut in line at the dairy queen) which might cause him to be cautious---but you, and the Secular Web know better than he, right? Is it okay to possibly put someone in danger just because you arenít fond of them?
</font>
He's a liar and no one should coddle him.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">
Om: he has refused to link to the original arguments of his opponents. And in past debates with other contributors to The Secular Web, he has refused to link to the original arguments of his opponents.
Instead, he includes selected excerpts of their arguments, which may or may not reflect the actual point they wish to make.



And Holding has responded to such accusations:
</font>
Uh, no. He has not. Look again: I said that he NEVER links to the original arguments of his opponents. By that I don't mean just the Doherty work. It doesn't matter who the opponent is, he NEVER links to their material.

Turkel's half-joking response only deals with Doherty.


[quote]
If you decide to read his review, you might keep in mind the nature of the individual who did the review.

The Next time youíre going to try and poison the well by attacking someoneís character, could you try and put your kill-words in a larger Ė possibly blinking Ė font?
[quote]

Failure to properly reference the opponent's argument, in a non-biased and even handed way indicates a low level of intellectual integrity and questionable scholarship. Proper references and conducting a debate in an open forum are hallmarks of free thought as well as the peer review process.

It's a shame you have such a problem with all this.

 
Old 04-24-2001, 07:43 PM   #126
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Nomad: We were confusing the Josephus line quoted or not quoted by Origen. I was talking about the quote talking directly about Jesus, which is indeed not referenced by any early apologist, which should be a red flag.

The quote about "James the brother of Jesus" was referenced by Origen.

Here's a discussion of this:

http://www.infidels.org/library/mode....html#josephus
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Old 04-24-2001, 11:52 PM   #127
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Lance:
Nomad: We were confusing the Josephus line quoted or not quoted by Origen. I was talking about the quote talking directly about Jesus, which is indeed not referenced by any early apologist, which should be a red flag.

The quote about "James the brother of Jesus" was referenced by Origen.

Here's a discussion of this:

http://www.infidels.org/library/mode....html#josephus</font>
Lance

Just to be clear, here is our exchange again:

From the Putting Together the Jesus Puzzle thread, page 1:

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Lance: As to the point about Josephus being altered text, that's likely as well. Oreigin (early apologist) hit every string in trying to advance the faith...yet omitted mention of Josephus. Why?

Nomad: Hello Lance

Actually, Origen goes into considerable detail about what Josephus had to say.

Here it is again:

Origen quoting Josephus

"And to so great a reputation among the people for righteousness did this James rise, that Flavius Josephus, who wrote the "Antiquities of the Jews" in twenty books, when wishing to exhibit the cause why the people suffered so great misfortunes that even the temple was razed to the ground, said, that these things happened to them in accordance with the wrath of God in consequence of the things which they had dared to do against James the brother of Jesus who is called Christ. And the wonderful thing is, that, though he did not accept Jesus as Christ, he yet gave testimony that the righteousness of James was so great; and he says that the people thought that they had suffered these things because of James."
Origen - Matthew X, XVII

"For in the 18th book of his Antiquities of the Jews, Josephus bears witness to John as having been a Baptist, and as promising purification to those who underwent the rite. Now this writer, although not believing in Jesus as the Christ, in seeking after the cause of the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the temple, whereas he ought to have said that the conspiracy against Jesus was the cause of these calamities befalling the people, since they put to death Christ, who was a prophet, says nevertheless-being, although against his will, not far from the truth-that these disasters happened to the Jews as a punishment for the death of James the Just, who was a brother of Jesus (called Christ),-the Jews having put him to death, although he was a man most distinguished for his justice."
Origen, - Against Celsus I, XLVII


And welcome to the SecWeb. It is good to see you again.</font>
I saw nothing in your original quotation that qualified your belief that Origin "omitted refernce to Josephus". Obviously Origin does talk about Josephus directly, and that was my entire point. On this basis alone we can say with confidence that at a minimum, one of the two references to Jesus by Josephus was not interpolated by Christians.

For you to then go on, and make an argument from silence, and say that Origin may have referred to Josephus, but only with regards to James the brother of Jesus is missing the point. Josephus refers to both James AND Jesus, and that is what we are trying to establish here.

It is also highly speculative to claim that Origin is not talking about the Testimonium Flavius found in Antiquities 18.63. Origin refers his readers to book 18 where this passage occurs, so it is just as easy to argue that Origin IS making a reference to the passage, but his point remains focused on why Jerusalem was destroyed, and clearly here, he is most interested in connecting it to the illegal killing of James the Just (brother of Jesus), which takes place in book 20.199-201.

Since the only question of this discussion is "did Josephus refer to Jesus or not?", then Origin's testimony is a clear indication that he (Josephus) did exactly that.

Nomad
 
Old 04-25-2001, 10:47 AM   #128
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Nomad: The point is and was this. Origen was an apologist and he was hitting every apologetic lever possible. So were other early apologists as well. Yet none (read the link) make mention of the most direct mention of Jesus in Josephus.

So what does this tell us? Very simply that the text there was unknown to them at that time. This alone means that what copies we have of Josephus are compromised to some degree. Is it enough to totally ignore it? Likely not, but surely enough to take with a serious grain of salt any validity.

Furthermore, there still would have been time for Josephus to have been compromised in both statements. I'm not sure of the probablility on it, but the very fact that early apologists considered it vogue to lie for the faith should at least cast very skeptical eyes on any ancient source.

I honestly don't think we can come to any determination in either direction here. There is just simply not enough evidence either way.
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Old 04-25-2001, 11:20 AM   #129
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The interesting thing about all this evidence is how scanty and derivative it is. There isn't anything with anything like the detail of the New Testament.

This does not mean that there was no Jesus Christ, only that he was not as well-known as the NT might imply. Let's imagine a similar sort of case, that of L. Ron Hubbard and Scientology. LRH had left a very broad paper trail of acquaintances and SF writings before he founded Dianetics and Scientology, but if that had not existed, how much could we feel confident in asserting about him?

Would we take the Church of Scientology's official biography at face value and consider him a great hero? Or would we suspect that biography to be a hagiography, pure and simple?

And yes, as a skeptic, I'm flattered to see Lucian counted among my number.
 
Old 04-29-2001, 05:56 PM   #130
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Hi, Tim.

I could have answered earlier, but I've found myself quite disinterested lately. Rather theologically drained, if you will. For this reason, I've spent some time hanging out on the "lighter" boards. However, I do appreciate your honest attempts at discussion, so I want to continue our conversation.

I got the circa 133 AD Talmud reference from the one link I checked. I haven't cross-referenced anything to determine its validity. However, for my purposes, AD133 is just as damning a reference date as is AD200 to 500: all are more than one generation removed from the supposed death of Jesus and can only relate hearsay. I think I did not make my original objection clear, so my bad. To wit: one of the reasons I doubt the historicity of Jesus is that there is no written record of him dating from the time he actually walked on the earth. Considering the many things he was said to have done (before multitudes), there should be at least one reference to him dating from that period--with any luck, a write-up from a non-believer who happened to witness one of his many miracles (which, we might expect would be written off as sleight of hand or the Devil's work). I find it highly suspect that not one of the multitudes wrote down anything about him and that there are no Roman records of him.

But you see, I have trouble (as noted before) separating the deity of Jesus from the historicity of Jesus. I may be falling back into the same trap here. If I am, I'm sure you'll point it out.

I understand why the Talmud references aren't usually used as support for the historicity of Jesus. They were oral tradition (and they vilify him). They were written anywhere from one to four centuries after his supposed death. As such, they may or may not be reliable sources. Considering the Jewish distaste with the whole Christian movement, the pieces in question could easily have been included simply to disparage the Christian "god." You yourself note that nothing the Talmud has to say about "Jesus" is complimentary. Do you think what they write about him is true? These references neither support nor defend the idea that Jesus actually lived.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">I wonít address the John issue because its really not relevant to whether or not Jesus existed.</font>
Acknowledge.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">The same thing applies to the money-making issue. It has nothing to do with the existence of Jesus.</font>
I'm not so sure about this. My point was that the religiously-motivated tend to be materially-motivated, as well. If there's money (or power) to be had if "evidence" is produced in support of a certain theology (and there was/is, in the case of Christianity), those followers who write the scriptures may be written off as biased witnesses. If a person has an ulterior motive that is being served by convincing others of something, you're justified in doubting the veracity of their statements. The church has a history of gaining power and money by such manipulations. This is the reason I want testimony from someone who lived at the time but wasn't trying to convert people (at the very least). I want unbiased support.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Me: Should you believe she didn't exist? Do the known "facts" of her life disagree AND do they often coincide with obvious mythological occurrances? If yes, then perhaps she didn't exist. Should you believe she wasn't kidnapped?

The obvious answer is, did all the details of her kidnapping also coincide with standard myth stories? But that's gross oversimplification on my part, I admit (or maybe not...do you believe in government cover-ups?) I would say that, if the details of her kidnapping were in disagreement, it's possible she ran away and tried to make it look like kidnapping. If different occupations were listed, it's possible that (1) she had two occupations and each reporter only heard about one; (2) the reporter(s) made a mistake; or (3) the newspaper was planting an inaccuracy on purpose to mislead the still-at-large criminal in some way.
If number 1 is true, the occupations cannot be mutually incompatible


Tim: Do you realize that you are doing exactly the same thing that historians and biblical scholars do? When we find contradictions we donít assume that the events being described never happened, instead we try to sort out which pieces are correct and which are incorrect. I would absolutely agree with you on this one. You are practicing harmonization, one of things for which Christians are often ridiculed. The same types of discrepancies exist in the gospels and most of them can be reconciled in exactly the same way you did with the kidnapping case.</font>
In the kidnapping case, I left room for the possibility that the alleged incident didn't happen at all. Christians do not do this.

Further, the stories I tried to harmonize don't necessarily contradict one another and don't claim to be divinely inspired. (Once again, we run into the determining-historicity-while-discounting-deity problem). If you follow the rules of my harmonization of the newspaper/news stories and apply them to the accounts of the risen Christ, you'd come up with the possibility that Christ wasn't risen after all, that it was all a ruse. That was what I suggested in your kidnapping analogy: if enough of the "facts" contradict each other, the whole story may be a fabrication.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">I see virtually no evidence that the first Christians in Jerusalem during 30 C.E. were aware of the alleged mythical parallels to the events in Jesusí life. If you list specific examples of these parallels and their timeframes, then we can discuss them on a case-by-case basis.</font>
Hm. Interesting. And I don't see how they could have been ignorant of the beliefs of surrounding nations, particularly since these were the early days of the HRE and so many cult-ures were being brought under the same rule. Didn't Mithra predate Jesus? Didn't the Jews encounter this belief? Tammuz? Various Egyptian stories of Horus, et al?

I admit I'm unsure as to the specific dates and cultures, but it seems to me that Egyptian ideas would have been picked up by the Jews during captivity, then Babylonian theology would be absorbed, as well, into the culture. Basically, the theological notions of any culture the Jews came into contact with would be picked up and carried along, and most likely reinforced every time they encountered another culture that had the same idea (albeit a different god). Early Christians were Jews (except for Paul?). I don't see how anyone living at that time could have NOT known what other people believed.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> (me): Did people actually think the Caesars were gods? I honestly don't think so. I think the people were required by protocol to worship Caesar as a god and if they didn't, he'd take their lives. I think, in short, they faked it in the hopes they could die of old age. Perhaps I'm just not seeing the analogy here. Please help me out.

Tim: Certainly not everyone believed in the divinity of emperors, but a large portion of the population did.</font>
Tim, I understand that the emperors passed themselves off as gods. I don't think this is disputed. However, I've not seen any evidence that supports the idea that people honestly believed this. Considering the recorded ruthlessness of many of these emporers, however, I find it much easier to believe that people bought into the idea on the surface in the interest of self-preservation (kinda like Hitler professing to be a Xn for political purposes). This just makes sense to me. However, I readily acknowledge that there could be some evidence out there that I missed. It's happened before.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">My analogy was due to this: You brought up the issue of claims for Jesusí divinity in a discussion about Jesusí existence. I presumed that you did so because you thought it counted against a claim for the existence of Jesus. </font>
While I can see where you got this idea, that wasn't what I was aiming for. (I don't blame you for not following my ramblings there; the idea is still kinda fuzzy for me.) I'll try again.

The only reason to argue the historicity of Jesus, so far as I can see, is if you also believe in his deity. Otherwise--quite frankly--who cares? Hence, the only reasonable lines of argument that I can imagine are (a) Jesus lived AND was the Son of God (with all attendant beliefs), or (b) Jesus was not the Son of God and perhaps never even lived. For this reason, I find it difficult, if not impossible, to separate claims of deity from any discussion of Jesus' existence. Whether you agree or disagree with me, do you at least understand what I'm driving at?

If you include a belief in his deity with your argument, your detractors will question why there is no outside record dating from the time he was said to have walked the earth of any of his miracles (although multitudes were said to have seen them), or any of the incredible things that were said to have occurred upon his death. If you wish to postulate that he lived but was not a deity, then you must dismiss all "miracles" attributed to him as sleight-of-hand or fanciful musings on the part of writers.

The point of this rambling is basically to ask you why you'd want to argue for Jesus' historicity while simultaneously ignoring his claims to deity. The only reason I can imagine is to keep naysayers from asking, "Why is there no outside record of the dead walking the streets of Jerusalem when he died?" and suchlike. To argue for his historicity sans deity is pointless--particularly when we know you believe he is the Son of God.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">We havenít even discussed any of the other numerous non-Christian references to Jesus in the first and second centuries. People such as Thallus, Pliny, Tacitus, Mara bar Serapion, Lucian of Samosata, Celsus, etc. How many of these other ones do you want to discuss?</font>
Any who lived at the time Jesus walked the earth, particularly around Jerusalem, and claimed to have witnessed any of his miracles and/or wrote that the city was full of people who couldn't stop talking about the miracle-worker from Galilee. I'm sure there are many. You pick.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">In other words, how many sources are required to mention a person before youíll believe that the person actually existed?</font>
I'd settle for one good one that couldn't be written off (easily) as simply reporting the beliefs of Christians (Talmud actually falls into this category, as it appears to be attempting to refute Christian beliefs...besides, it was written 1 to 4 C. after the fact).

Diana
 
 

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