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Old 05-02-2001, 01:09 PM   #141
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by PhysicsGuy:

Rejected by whom? For all the criticisms of arguments for silence I see around here, this sure is a big one. I would love nothing more than to learn exactly why liberal scholars 'reject' Doherty and find his work 'ridiculous'.</font>
Hello again Ethan.

I understand your frustration on this point, and I don't know if I can give you an answer that will satisfy you 100%. Hopefully it will help, however.

First, Doherty is not going to be mentioned or criticized specifically by scholars of any stripe (liberal, conservative or secular) right now because he is not well enough known. Remember, his book is quite new, and prior to its release Doherty was a complete unknown. He has no publications in any scholarly journals, he is not a member of any large Bible or NT studies association (or if he is, he has not written anything that has been published by any of them). So it should not be surprising that he has been ignored. That may, or may not change, and will probably at least invite some comment if only because it will become known in the popular culture.

Second, Doherty's lack of credentials are going to work very much against him within the scholarly community. Raymond Brown may have thought J.D. Crossan's methods were atrocious, and conclusions just as bad (especially regarding the Gospel of Peter and the Cross Gospel), but at least they treated one another as peers. Donald Akenson may think that Morton Smith was a fraud, and Helmut Koester was a credulous fool, but again, their credentials required him to at least address their arguments. Michael Grant disagreed as strongly as is possible with G.A. Wells on the question of Jesus existing, but that did not stop him from quoting from one of Wells' books. In the end, however, he rejected the belief (then held by Wells) that we could not discover anything useful about the Jesus of history, and wrote a commendable book on the subject, in which he said:

"There have been countless lives of Jesus. Moreover, they have come to extraordinarily divergent conclusions. Indeed, it has been objected that no authentic life of Jesus can be written at all because our information is insufficient and cannot ever be anything else. That I believe to be an unduly pessimistic conclusion. True, a great deal is missing. Nevertheless, his public career can toa considerable extent be reconstructed. The evidence is hard, very hard, to decipher. But something is there for the finding.
What I shall hope to do is to apply the techniques of the historian to this theme... I do so with the keenest sense of inadequacy, only too well aware that 'anyone who attempts to write a life of Christ is vulnerable on a hundred points'.
All the same I shall go ahead and look at the Gospels in the way one would look at other ancient historical sources: endeavoring to reconstruct what really happened. The phrase 'what really happened' is of course a well-known snare because it is beyond the power of human beings to be really objective. Yet they can try, and I have tried."
[b]M. Grant, Jesus, [Michael Grant Publications Ltd, London, 1977], pg. 1-2).


Akenson concurs, albeit from a different angle (he prefers to us the Epistles of Paul to the Gospels).

"Ultimately, one hopes that what Saul believed characterized Yeshua's (Jesus') earthly existence has some relationship to what we limply think of as "historical reality." That, though, is as much a matter of faith as of epistemology. While one can live with the forever-sophomoric objection that we can never really know any historical event (not fully, not 100 percent, we grant and then get back to work), there lingers the more unsettling question that is apt to be raised by anyone who has lived for a while and has paid attention to humanity's bent behaviour: can we trust Saul (Paul)? And, really, even if we had been left memoirs about Yeshua by other well-informed persons of Saul's generation-say Yeshua's brother Yacov (James) and his mother Miriam (Mary) and Peter, and John the son of Zebedee- would we trust them? Not completely, for even the most innocent eye sees things through the parallax of personal conviction... so we should be grateful that he (Paul) tells us a fair amount and that perhaps this information is actually reflective of the "real" earthly history of Yeshua of Nazareth."
(D.H. Akenson, St. Saul: A Skeleton Key to the Historical Jesus, [McGill-Queen's University Press and Oxford University Press, 2000), pg. 171).


Both Grant and Akenson are confirmed atheists and sceptics. They are also trained historians. Both recognize fully the limitations of their science, but neither they, nor any other of their peers would wish to toss the entire science of history merely because we cannot be 100% certain of anything reported to us about history. Such a nihilistic approach is nonsensical in their view, and my own.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">It may very well be the case that most liberal scholars will disagree with Doherty and have good reasons to do so, but until they do, I don't think it is fair to suggest that they all find his work ridiculous and that their silence on Doherty suggests anything except they haven't been convinced by anyone that it is worth the time to read his book.</font>
Their silence will be the natural caution of scholars faced with questions about a popular non-scholarly work that they probably have not read yet. They may never read it. The Jesus Mysteries by Freke and Gandy caused barely a ripple, and vanished into the ether. This does not mean there is a vast conspiracy to ignore such books, only that some things are just not worth the time, energy and effort of serious scholars to debunk.

If Doherty causes more of a stir in the real world, then he will be read, and his conclusions will be noted and commented upon. It may not be flattering. It may be dismissive. But in the end, if Doherty really is onto something, and everyone else HAS gotten it wrong, and he has actually gotten it right, then the truth will win out. The conspiracy theorists are rarely right, and those that would see the disappearance of the Jesus Puzzle as some kind of evidence for a grand conspiracy amongst the Bible scholarship industry (if such a monster even exists) will simply be wrong.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Until then, those of us stupid and uneducated enough to find Doherty persuasive will likely wish to wait for the opinions of the experts.</font>
Since these may, or may not, ever be forth coming, I would recommend that you read as wide a range of good books on the historical Jesus as you can find. You may find it a bit disappointing that most of them will take the existence of Jesus as a given, but when certain historical facts are as well established as this one is, that should not be a great surprise. If we were to merely rehash the old arguments over and over and over again, then we would never make any progress at all.

At the same time, take some comfort in the idea that if Doherty is right, then the truth will win out. It might take awhile, but in our modern world, while the fringes of intellectual thought will always be with us, scholars do eventually get a lot of it "right" in their own areas of expertise.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Or, we could be shown exactly where Doherty goes wrong. That of course will be Nomad's goal and I'm getting impatient to get things going. (Doherty indicated that he would probably start figuring out how to post and write his first post this weekend.)</font>
Please let me know if and when he writes to you again, or ask him to write to me directly if he prefers. In the meantime, I will wait for his first post.

Peace,

Nomad
 
Old 05-02-2001, 02:28 PM   #142
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First off, the historians Suetonius and Tacitus both agree that Vespasian had cured a blind man and a lame man with the help of the god Serapis; the god appeared to him in a dream and told him what to do.

Also, as Richard Carrier notes, there are lots of other Greco-Roman miracle stories, such as as the cures attributed to the god Asclepius; there are lots of succesful-cure testimonials inscribed on temple walls, which is more than what any of Jesus Christ's patients had ever done. Or consider the case of Apollonius of Tyana, who was described by his followers as working many of the sort of miracles that JC had worked. Or stories of bleeding and moaning statues. Check on Richard Carrier's works in the Modern section of this site's Library; he knows what he is talking about.

Also worth looking into is miracles worked by medieval saints; RC mentions those of St. Genevieve, which would make JC proud.

I think that one reason that the Jesus-myth hypothesis has not been very popular is that it seems too far-out and radical; it seems like an extraordinary claim without extraordinary proof.

But I think that Earl Doherty's work makes a strong case that the JC that we know about was almost certainly a myth.
 
Old 05-02-2001, 03:28 PM   #143
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by lpetrich:

First off, the historians Suetonius and Tacitus both agree that Vespasian had cured a blind man and a lame man with the help of the god Serapis; the god appeared to him in a dream and told him what to do.

Also, as Richard Carrier notes, there are lots of other Greco-Roman miracle stories, such as as the cures attributed to the god Asclepius; there are lots of succesful-cure testimonials inscribed on temple walls, which is more than what any of Jesus Christ's patients had ever done. Or consider the case of Apollonius of Tyana, who was described by his followers as working many of the sort of miracles that JC had worked. Or stories of bleeding and moaning statues. Check on Richard Carrier's works in the Modern section of this site's Library; he knows what he is talking about.</font>
What does all this have to do with the theory that Jesus was a myth?

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Also worth looking into is miracles worked by medieval saints; RC mentions those of St. Genevieve, which would make JC proud.</font>
Same question.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">I think that one reason that the Jesus-myth hypothesis has not been very popular is that it seems too far-out and radical; it seems like an extraordinary claim without extraordinary proof.</font>
It is, and they don't, so why is it given any credence on a sceptics board?

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">But I think that Earl Doherty's work makes a strong case that the JC that we know about was almost certainly a myth.</font>
No. Doherty's case is that there was never any kind of Jesus at all. Period.

It is a positive assertion to claim that an historical person is a completely fictitious construct. We'll see how well he can defend that theory in front of an audience shortly.

Nomad
 
Old 05-02-2001, 05:14 PM   #144
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Nomad,

Thanks for your post. I think it is a good summary of the present situation regarding Jesus as myth.

The only thing I'll take issue with is the following.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Both Grant and Akenson are confirmed atheists and sceptics. They are also trained historians. Both recognize fully the limitations of their science, but neither they, nor any other of their peers would wish to toss the entire science of history merely because we cannot be 100% certain of anything reported to us about history. Such a nihilistic approach is nonsensical in their view, and my own.</font>
I would agree if Jesus-mythers were doing this. I don't think the phrase 'toss the entire science of history' is appropriate when discussing Earl Doherty, though. He feels that the 'science of history' leads to the conclusion that Jesus of Nazareth did not exist. Like other scholars, he is studying the history of ideas, the history of texts, and the history of people, and his studies lead to a different conclusion. Whether or not he 'tosses out' or 'ignores' quite a bit in the process remains to be seen (by me, at least).

I will certainly let you know when Doherty contacts me. I will contact him again this weekend if I haven't heard from him.
 
Old 05-02-2001, 09:17 PM   #145
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As to what the miracles of Vespasian, Asclepius, and St. Genevieve have to do with the question of Jesus Christ's existence, I think that they raise similar questions of historicity. Does one believe that Vespasian had worked some miraculous cures? Or does one believe that Vespasian had existed, but had not performed those miracles?

One could get around the miracle problem by proposing that there was a historical Jesus who had not performed any "true" miracles, "miracles" other than psychosomatic cures and the like.

This seems like a plausible sort of figure; Josephus records some self-styled "prophets" who were exactly like that.

As to Earl Doherty's case, I think that it's a strong one. It may seem far out, but I don't think that it's much different from the cases made by those who claim that the historical JC was very unlike the JC of the Gospels.

One counterargument is that there was no tradition of his nonexistence. However, I suggest considering who would have been in a position to come to that conclusion. Such a person would have to have lived where he had lived, at the time that he had been a prophet. However, there is no such person, and the closest to such a person is Josephus, who makes no mention of him, except for two short, disputed passages. Compared to his lengthy discussion of others, this silence is significant.

Most of Christianity's pagan critics had either lived far away from Judea, lived at least a century after JC had lived, or both. Thus, they would not have been in a good position to conclude that JC had never existed.
 
Old 05-02-2001, 11:17 PM   #146
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by lpetrich:

As to what the miracles of Vespasian, Asclepius, and St. Genevieve have to do with the question of Jesus Christ's existence, I think that they raise similar questions of historicity. Does one believe that Vespasian had worked some miraculous cures? Or does one believe that Vespasian had existed, but had not performed those miracles?</font>
Since your questions do not involve questioning the historicity of Vespasian or the others, what does this have to do with the specific question of the historicity of Jesus?

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">One could get around the miracle problem by proposing that there was a historical Jesus who had not performed any "true" miracles, "miracles" other than psychosomatic cures and the like.</font>
Yes, this is what non-Christian scholars believe.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">This seems like a plausible sort of figure; Josephus records some self-styled "prophets" who were exactly like that.</font>
Right, Jesus was one of them.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">As to Earl Doherty's case, I think that it's a strong one. It may seem far out, but I don't think that it's much different from the cases made by those who claim that the historical JC was very unlike the JC of the Gospels.</font>
I intend to ask this question on the Jesus Puzzle thread as well, but how many of the 12 pieces of the puzzle need to be removed before you would reject Doherty's claims? Do you see any one of them as more important than the others?

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">One counterargument is that there was no tradition of his nonexistence. However, I suggest considering who would have been in a position to come to that conclusion. Such a person would have to have lived where he had lived, at the time that he had been a prophet. However, there is no such person, and the closest to such a person is Josephus, who makes no mention of him, except for two short, disputed passages. Compared to his lengthy discussion of others, this silence is significant.</font>
You missed the fact that the Jews in Jerusalem (like Saul and Caiaphas) were in a perfect position to do exactly this. So were the Romans and everyone else. The Christians weren't exactly being secretive about what they were preaching.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Most of Christianity's pagan critics had either lived far away from Judea, lived at least a century after JC had lived, or both.</font>
Are you talking about Nero here? I thought he lived 30 years after Jesus did. And you actually believe that the ancients were this credulous?

How many other completely fictional people (including gods) were created in the Roman Empire within less than 3 years of this reported person's death? Were there any besides Jesus?

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> Thus, they would not have been in a good position to conclude that JC had never existed.</font>
If I may...

Who invented Jesus?

Nomad
 
Old 05-03-2001, 12:01 AM   #147
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Nomad:
... but how many of the 12 pieces of the puzzle need to be removed before you would reject Doherty's claims? Do you see any one of them as more important than the others?

LP:
I haven't thought of the question in that fashion.

LP:
One counterargument is that there was no tradition of his nonexistence. However, I suggest considering who would have been in a position to come to that conclusion. Such a person would have to have lived where he had lived, at the time that he had been a prophet. However, there is no such person, and the closest to such a person is Josephus, who makes no mention of him, except for two short, disputed passages. Compared to his lengthy discussion of others, this silence is significant.

Nomad:
You missed the fact that the Jews in Jerusalem (like Saul and Caiaphas) were in a perfect position to do exactly this. So were the Romans and everyone else. The Christians weren't exactly being secretive about what they were preaching.

LP:
As to the Jerusalem Jews, how many of them had written chronicles? Have Caiaphas's memoirs survived? Aside from that sort of thing, the closest to such a writer was Josephus. To my mind, the absence of someone would not have been interesting news unless his presence was somehow expected. But Jesus Christ's presence had not been expected.

As to Saul/Paul, that's part of Earl Doherty's case. Paul reports on a Jesus Christ with only very general human features -- at best. Paul also showed no interest in going on a pilgrimage to the places where his Messiah had supposedly lived -- no interest in going to Jerusalem or Bethlehem or Nazareth or Capernaum. Given the later Christian taste for pilgrimages and relic-mongering, that is truly remarkable. One would expect him to want to visit the place where JC had supposedly died for his sins, but he showed no such interest.

And in its earliest years, Christianity had been below the (metaphorical) radars of most of the chroniclers of the day; that is consistent with it being a small, obscure cult, not a movement founded by a big celebrity. It would have been about as well-known as the Heaven's Gate cult had been before that cult's spectacular self-destruction.

LP:
Most of Christianity's pagan critics had either lived far away from Judea, lived at least a century after JC had lived, or both.

Nomad:
Are you talking about Nero here? I thought he lived 30 years after Jesus did. And you actually believe that the ancients were this credulous?

LP:
Nero's "knowledge" could have been based on what the early Christians had stated about themselves, that they were the followers of a "god" called Christ. And I believe that to be the case of essentally all the pagan and Jewish critics whose work has survived.

Nomad:
How many other completely fictional people (including gods) were created in the Roman Empire within less than 3 years of this reported person's death? Were there any besides Jesus?

LP:
70 years is more like it; Paul has only a vague idea of a human JC -- at best. It was the Gospel writers who gave JC a detailed Earthly career.

LP:
Thus, they would not have been in a good position to conclude that JC had never existed.

Nomad:
If I may...
Who invented Jesus?

LP:
Earl Doherty addresses the question -- he proposes that Jesus Christ was originally a sort-of deity like Wisdom in the noncanonical Wisdom of Solomon. Paul had then turned this Christ into a dying and rising god, Mark wrote an allegory featuring JC as having a human career, Matthew and Luke added the genealogies, the Virgin Birth, and the Q teachings, all turned into a narrative. And all four Gospel writers filled in the details of how JC had died and rose, something we can see a history of in Mark (some early manuscripts end before the resurrection, IIRC).
 
Old 05-03-2001, 09:10 AM   #148
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by lpetrich:

Nomad:
... but how many of the 12 pieces of the puzzle need to be removed before you would reject Doherty's claims? Do you see any one of them as more important than the others?

LP:
I haven't thought of the question in that fashion.</font>
I know. That's why I asked. So what is your answer?

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Nomad: You missed the fact that the Jews in Jerusalem (like Saul and Caiaphas) were in a perfect position to do exactly this (refute the claim that Jesus actually lived). So were the Romans and everyone else. The Christians weren't exactly being secretive about what they were preaching.

LP:
As to the Jerusalem Jews, how many of them had written chronicles?</font>
Umm... we do have a couple of writings from Saul/Paul LP. If he never thought Jesus actually lived as a human being, he (and others like him would have been using this argument to debunk early Christianity. Remember, he did have a life before he became a Christian, and in that life persecuting Christians was high on his "to do" list. He was doing this in Jerusalem and other places that Jesus lived and taught in, so finding out that Jesus was an invention would have been a piece of cake. Further, since he never believed Jesus actually lived on earth (and other Christians obviously did, see the Gospels and other NT books), they would have addressed this argument if it had been put forward by anyone. Do you have any passages that show early Christians arguing against "Jesus never existed"?

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> Have Caiaphas's memoirs survived? Aside from that sort of thing, the closest to such a writer was Josephus. To my mind, the absence of someone would not have been interesting news unless his presence was somehow expected. But Jesus Christ's presence had not been expected.</font>
How exactly would you falsify this claim you have made? We have people talking about a marginal unknown within 3 years (minimum) of his life and death, and independent verification of his existence within 40 years. No one until 1877 actually questioned his existence at all, and every single person that has done so has seen his arguments annihilated.

Yet the theories continue to fly. Offer some positive evidence that Jesus actually was a mythical construct please, and do it in such a way that you demonstrate that you actually understand the arguments (IOW, don't just tell me Doherty says "X" or Doherty says "Y", tell me what you think, and why you think it).

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">As to Saul/Paul, that's part of Earl Doherty's case. Paul reports on a Jesus Christ with only very general human features -- at best.</font>
We'll get to that when Doherty gets here. I'm more interested in knowing what you think right now LP.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> Paul also showed no interest in going on a pilgrimage to the places where his Messiah had supposedly lived -- no interest in going to Jerusalem or Bethlehem or Nazareth or Capernaum.</font>
First, he did go to Jerusalem, and spent three years there and returned 14 years later (Acts 9 on, Romans 15:19, 25, Galatians 1:18, 2:1). Where do you get your information BTW, and do you bother to check it out? As for what he did during those three years (or after his return), he doesn't tell us everything, but I don't expect you would argue that he just sat in a house all day long, never going anywhere (especially in view of Acts 15, Galatians 1:18-19, 2:9). Maybe you can tell me where Paul got the various hymns and liturgies that he writes about?

Try not to rely too heavily on the silences of particular letters. This can get you into a great deal of trouble.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> Given the later Christian taste for pilgrimages and relic-mongering, that is truly remarkable.</font>
Why? How can you compare the way Christianity was practiced, and the customs that developed hundreds of years after Jesus died with those of the people that lived in the same generation as Jesus? Why would the people that lived with Him, and knew Him venerate these places?

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> One would expect him to want to visit the place where JC had supposedly died for his sins, but he showed no such interest.</font>
And you know that he did not do this because...?

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">And in its earliest years, Christianity had been below the (metaphorical) radars of most of the chroniclers of the day; that is consistent with it being a small, obscure cult, not a movement founded by a big celebrity.</font>
The Sanhedrin saw fit to ask Pilote to execute Him, and Pilote agreed to do this. You actually think that if someone is showing up at the synagogues and at the Temple preaching about these things, that the Jewish leadership isn't going to take at least some interest in it, and debunk it?

Maybe you can tell me why you think Stephen was stoned to death, or James the son of Zebedee was executed.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> It would have been about as well-known as the Heaven's Gate cult had been before that cult's spectacular self-destruction.</font>
Did this just pop out of your head? How do you know this? Remember, the Jews were already busy trying to debunk Christianity right from the start, and the infighting grew steadily worse until at least the 60's. Try and look for some appropriate comparisons please. If you actually believe that Christianity in the 30-60AD time frame was no bigger or important than Heavens Gate, then you really do have a problem.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">LP:
Most of Christianity's pagan critics had either lived far away from Judea, lived at least a century after JC had lived, or both.

Nomad:
Are you talking about Nero here? I thought he lived 30 years after Jesus did. And you actually believe that the ancients were this credulous?

LP:
Nero's "knowledge" could have been based on what the early Christians had stated about themselves, that they were the followers of a "god" called Christ. And I believe that to be the case of essentally all the pagan and Jewish critics whose work has survived.</font>
How do you know this? Especially regarding the Jews in Jerusalem like Saul and the High Council. The early Church was not being secretive about their activities, and they were growing very fast.

BTW, who did found the Church in Rome? I don't remember you giving Layman an answer on this question LP.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Nomad:
How many other completely fictional people (including gods) were created in the Roman Empire within less than 3 years of this reported person's death? Were there any besides Jesus?

LP:
70 years is more like it;</font>
No, three. All scholars agree on this point, including even the Jesus Seminar. And Paul's letters were written from the 40's to no later than the 60's (when he was killed). I am left to wonder again at where you get your information, and how much effort you put into checking it out for yourself.

BTW? You didn't answer my question. How many other examples do we have of complete invention of gods, god-men, or just plain old men do we have occuring within 3 years of their death? (And it is alright to say that there aren't any, since there aren't).

Once you answer this question, then we can explore the follow up questions like, why weren't there any.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> Paul has only a vague idea of a human JC -- at best. It was the Gospel writers who gave JC a detailed Earthly career.</font>
And yet Paul gave us a good deal of information about the earthly Jesus as well. He did not write narratives, of course, but then he was writing incidental letters, not biography.

If I may, who have you read besides Doherty?

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">LP:
Thus, they would not have been in a good position to conclude that JC had never existed.

Nomad:
If I may...
Who invented Jesus?

LP:
Earl Doherty addresses the question --</font>
With all do respect LP, I would like you to address this question. I understand and stipulate your faith in Doherty and his research and conclusions. What I would like to know is what you think though, and how you arrived at your conclusions.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> he proposes that Jesus Christ was originally a sort-of deity like Wisdom in the noncanonical Wisdom of Solomon. Paul had then turned this Christ into a dying and rising god, Mark wrote an allegory featuring JC as having a human career, Matthew and Luke added the genealogies, the Virgin Birth, and the Q teachings, all turned into a narrative. And all four Gospel writers filled in the details of how JC had died and rose, something we can see a history of in Mark (some early manuscripts end before the resurrection, IIRC).</font>
I know all of this, and Doherty and I will hash through it if and when he gets here.

Again, I am primarily interested in your thoughts LP. Doherty can defend his own arguments, but when you merely parrot another's arguments, and show no commitment to them beyond that parroting, I am left to wonder at what you know and believe, and how informed your opinions happen to be. If the only person you have read is Earl Doherty, then his arguments are going to look pretty convincing, until you have something to compare it against. Do you? If so, who? And why do you reject the counter arguments.

Thanks

Nomad

[This message has been edited by Nomad (edited May 03, 2001).]
 
Old 05-03-2001, 09:28 AM   #149
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Nomad,

Care to answer my poll?

fG
 
Old 05-05-2001, 10:46 AM   #150
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Nomad: You missed the fact that the Jews in Jerusalem (like Saul and Caiaphas) were in a perfect position to do exactly this (refute the claim that Jesus actually lived). So were the Romans and everyone else. The Christians weren't exactly being secretive about what they were preaching.

LP:
Nomad, you still have not told me where Caiaphas's memoirs have survived. And as to Paul, he doesn't picture Jesus Christ as having a detailed human career the way that the Gospels do. And he was much closer to J the C than the Gospel writers.

LP:
As to the Jerusalem Jews, how many of them had written chronicles?

Nomad:
Umm... we do have a couple of writings from Saul/Paul LP. If he never thought Jesus actually lived as a human being, he (and others like him would have been using this argument to debunk early Christianity. Remember, he did have a life before he became a Christian, and in that life persecuting Christians was high on his "to do" list. He was doing this in Jerusalem and other places that Jesus lived and taught in, so finding out that Jesus was an invention would have been a piece of cake. Further, since he never believed Jesus actually lived on earth (and other Christians obviously did, see the Gospels and other NT books), they would have addressed this argument if it had been put forward by anyone. Do you have any passages that show early Christians arguing against "Jesus never existed"?

LP:
They had believed that he had been a sort-of god without a human career, so the question would never have arisen in that form. Furthermore, do you expect them to have been skeptical of their own doctrines? That's a very atypical thing.

Nomad:
How exactly would you falsify this claim you have made? We have people talking about a marginal unknown within 3 years (minimum) of his life and death, and independent verification of his existence within 40 years. No one until 1877 actually questioned his existence at all, and every single person that has done so has seen his arguments annihilated.

LP:
First off, the only ones "talking" about him are his followers. And what are these forceful "annihilations"?

LP:
Paul also showed no interest in going on a pilgrimage to the places where his Messiah had supposedly lived -- no interest in going to Jerusalem or Bethlehem or Nazareth or Capernaum.

Nomad:
First, he did go to Jerusalem, and spent three years there and returned 14 years later (Acts 9 on, Romans 15:19, 25, Galatians 1:18, 2:1). ...

LP:
However, to him, Jerusalem was nothing special -- did he stop off at Golgotha to see where his Lord and Savior had died and risen from the dead? If so, then he does not mention it in his letters.

LP:
Given the later Christian taste for pilgrimages and relic-mongering, that is truly remarkable.

Nomad:
Why? How can you compare the way Christianity was practiced, and the customs that developed hundreds of years after Jesus died with those of the people that lived in the same generation as Jesus? Why would the people that lived with Him, and knew Him venerate these places?

LP:
Such veneration happens all the time with religious prophets -- simply consider some of the more recent ones.

LP:
One would expect him to want to visit the place where JC had supposedly died for his sins, but he showed no such interest.

Nomad:
And you know that he did not do this because...?

LP:
Our only source on this is Paul himself.

LP:
And in its earliest years, Christianity had been below the (metaphorical) radars of most of the chroniclers of the day; that is consistent with it being a small, obscure cult, not a movement founded by a big celebrity.

Nomad:
The Sanhedrin saw fit to ask Pilote to execute Him, and Pilote agreed to do this. You actually think that if someone is showing up at the synagogues and at the Temple preaching about these things, that the Jewish leadership isn't going to take at least some interest in it, and debunk it?

LP:
Where have Pontius Pilate's memoirs survived? Is there *any* independent evidence of this incident outside of the Gospels? Pontius Pilate's whimpering is very different from the way that he was described outside of the Gospels. It's like the Chinese leaders whimpering before the Falun Gong.

Nomad:
Maybe you can tell me why you think Stephen was stoned to death, or James the son of Zebedee was executed.

LP:
Because they were considered heretics.

LP:
It would have been about as well-known as the Heaven's Gate cult had been before that cult's spectacular self-destruction.

Nomad:
Did this just pop out of your head? How do you know this? Remember, the Jews were already busy trying to debunk Christianity right from the start, and the infighting grew steadily worse until at least the 60's. Try and look for some appropriate comparisons please. If you actually believe that Christianity in the 30-60AD time frame was no bigger or important than Heavens Gate, then you really do have a problem.

LP:
How were the Jews trying to debunk Christianity? Have we ever seen what they themselves had to say?

LP:
Most of Christianity's pagan critics had either lived far away from Judea, lived at least a century after JC had lived, or both.

Nomad:
Are you talking about Nero here? I thought he lived 30 years after Jesus did. And you actually believe that the ancients were this credulous?

LP:
Nero's "knowledge" could have been based on what the early Christians had stated about themselves, that they were the followers of a "god" called Christ. And I believe that to be the case of essentally all the pagan and Jewish critics whose work has survived.

Nomad:
How do you know this? Especially regarding the Jews in Jerusalem like Saul and the High Council. The early Church was not being secretive about their activities, and they were growing very fast.

LP:
Nero's underlings could have asked them what gods they worshipped.

Nomad:
BTW, who did found the Church in Rome? I don't remember you giving Layman an answer on this question LP.

LP:
I'm not willing to speculate on that.

Nomad:
How many other completely fictional people (including gods) were created in the Roman Empire within less than 3 years of this reported person's death? Were there any besides Jesus?

LP:
70 years is more like it;

Nomad:
No, three. All scholars agree on this point, including even the Jesus Seminar. And Paul's letters were written from the 40's to no later than the 60's (when he was killed). I am left to wonder again at where you get your information, and how much effort you put into checking it out for yourself.

LP:
As I've pointed out, Paul believed that JC had only a vague human career -- at best. For him, JC had been a sort-of god. The Gospels were composed later and are essentially hagiographies.

Nomad:
BTW? You didn't answer my question. How many other examples do we have of complete invention of gods, god-men, or just plain old men do we have occuring within 3 years of their death? (And it is alright to say that there aren't any, since there aren't).

LP:
That's beside the point, and that question presupposes that the Gospels had been accurate history, which is questionable at best.

LP:
Paul has only a vague idea of a human JC -- at best. It was the Gospel writers who gave JC a detailed Earthly career.

Nomad:
And yet Paul gave us a good deal of information about the earthly Jesus as well. He did not write narratives, of course, but then he was writing incidental letters, not biography.

LP:
WHAT information? Did he describe JC as having turned water into wine, having conjured up bread and fish, having driven out demons, having driven pigs into some lake, having cursed fig trees, having been visited by some astrologers when he was born, or having raised anyone from the dead?

Nomad:
If I may, who have you read besides Doherty?

LP:
Several other people over the years.

Nomad:
If I may...
Who invented Jesus?

LP:
Earl Doherty addresses the question --

Nomad:
With all do respect LP, I would like you to address this question. I understand and stipulate your faith in Doherty and his research and conclusions. What I would like to know is what you think though, and how you arrived at your conclusions.

LP:
Jesus Christ may be one of those many mythical figures who had no recorded "inventor"; consider pagan religions, which are older than written language.
 
 

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