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Author Topic:   Did Jesus Exist? by Bart Ehrman
Percy
Member
Posts: 22499
From: New Hampshire
Joined: 12-23-2000
Member Rating: 4.9


Message 132 of 563 (915280)
02-12-2024 10:56 AM


From the Who Owns the Standard Definition of Evolution thread, starting at Message 323:
PaulK writes:
Percy writes:
PaulK writes:
Or, for another comparison we don’t know when or where Jesus was born, nor do we know much of his ancestry. But no sensible person concludes that Jesus didn’t exist based on those facts.
I just want to go on record as considering myself a sensible person, and there are other people who I think would say that I seem to be a sensible person.
Then - if you conclude that Jesus didn’t exist - I hope that you have more than just those two facts.
I don't think anyone has any facts.
--Percy

Replies to this message:
 Message 133 by PaulK, posted 02-12-2024 10:59 AM Percy has replied

  
Percy
Member
Posts: 22499
From: New Hampshire
Joined: 12-23-2000
Member Rating: 4.9


(1)
Message 134 of 563 (915282)
02-12-2024 11:04 AM
Reply to: Message 133 by PaulK
02-12-2024 10:59 AM


PaulK in Message 133 writes:
The facts I cited were
we don’t know when or where Jesus was born, nor do we know much of his ancestry.
I don’t think we disagree on those.
No disagreement from me, but I do conclude from the lack of information that he was not a real person.
--Percy

This message is a reply to:
 Message 133 by PaulK, posted 02-12-2024 10:59 AM PaulK has not replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 135 by Granny Magda, posted 02-12-2024 12:09 PM Percy has replied

  
Percy
Member
Posts: 22499
From: New Hampshire
Joined: 12-23-2000
Member Rating: 4.9


Message 138 of 563 (915295)
02-12-2024 2:22 PM
Reply to: Message 135 by Granny Magda
02-12-2024 12:09 PM


Granny Magda in Message 135 writes:
I have to ask; how much information do you think we ought to have?
For the Jesus of the New Testament I would expect a great deal of evidence, and you apparently agree that there was never any such Jesus. I wouldn't expect any evidence, or at least very, very little, for "an obscure religious mystic."
The idea of Jesus as an apocalyptic preacher who left an outsized legacy doesn't seem at all implausible to me.
I think Paul created Christianity. He might have made Jesus up out of whole cloth, or he might have based him upon a real person. I wouldn't venture a guess which and I don't think it matters.
--Percy

This message is a reply to:
 Message 135 by Granny Magda, posted 02-12-2024 12:09 PM Granny Magda has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 140 by PaulK, posted 02-12-2024 2:43 PM Percy has replied
 Message 155 by Granny Magda, posted 02-12-2024 4:31 PM Percy has replied

  
Percy
Member
Posts: 22499
From: New Hampshire
Joined: 12-23-2000
Member Rating: 4.9


(1)
Message 147 of 563 (915306)
02-12-2024 3:36 PM
Reply to: Message 140 by PaulK
02-12-2024 2:43 PM


PaulK in Message 140 writes:
The New Testament is going to be about as reliable as an official Scientology biography of L Ron Hubbard.
True.
Paul may have reshaped Christianity, but he’s clear that it existed in some form before he joined it.
According to the New Testament.
--Percy

This message is a reply to:
 Message 140 by PaulK, posted 02-12-2024 2:43 PM PaulK has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 149 by PaulK, posted 02-12-2024 3:57 PM Percy has replied

  
Percy
Member
Posts: 22499
From: New Hampshire
Joined: 12-23-2000
Member Rating: 4.9


(1)
Message 150 of 563 (915309)
02-12-2024 3:58 PM
Reply to: Message 149 by PaulK
02-12-2024 3:57 PM


PaulK writes:
According to his own writings - which are included in the New Testament.
Which is where Paul's writings can be found and which you just called unreliable.
--Percy

This message is a reply to:
 Message 149 by PaulK, posted 02-12-2024 3:57 PM PaulK has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 154 by PaulK, posted 02-12-2024 4:09 PM Percy has replied

  
Percy
Member
Posts: 22499
From: New Hampshire
Joined: 12-23-2000
Member Rating: 4.9


Message 165 of 563 (915369)
02-13-2024 9:16 AM
Reply to: Message 154 by PaulK
02-12-2024 4:09 PM


PaulK in Message 154 writes:
Well, there goes your hope of being thought sensible.
Yeah, I kinda suspected I was actually the topic when you first replied.
--Percy

This message is a reply to:
 Message 154 by PaulK, posted 02-12-2024 4:09 PM PaulK has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 166 by PaulK, posted 02-13-2024 9:35 AM Percy has replied

  
Percy
Member
Posts: 22499
From: New Hampshire
Joined: 12-23-2000
Member Rating: 4.9


Message 172 of 563 (915389)
02-13-2024 12:23 PM
Reply to: Message 155 by Granny Magda
02-12-2024 4:31 PM


Granny Magda in Message 155 writes:
I wouldn't expect any evidence, or at least very, very little, for "an obscure religious mystic."
And yet we have the Gospels. Dodgy evidence they may be, but they are evidence.
Evidence of what? Believers have interpreted every part of the Bible in a multitude of ways.
There are reasons to think that there is some truth in them,...
And where that truth lies and what that truth is has been the focus of a multitude of opinions and interpretations. I think my own conclusion that the Jesus of the NT is made up is most likely.
...not least the fact that Jesus makes for such a terrible candidate for the Messiah. Jews of the 1st Century were not expecting their Messiah to kick up a bit of ineffectual fuss and then get ignominiously executed. They were expecting an ass kicker who was going to smite their enemies and win back their lands. The spiritual savior of the Gospels was kind of a hard sell. If an author were to invent a Messiah out of whole cloth it seems implausible that he would have invented this one.
Or since there was no such person as Jesus it was necessary for the story's conclusion to include his disappearance, otherwise his absence from the world would have been difficult to explain.
I think Paul created Christianity.
I think that might be over-egging it. Certainly Paul's influence is great. I think it likely though that the proto-Christian church existed before him and that James and Paul were both leaders of that church before Paul.
Don't forget Peter.
He might have made Jesus up out of whole cloth, or he might have based him upon a real person.
I think Paul was probably sincere. I think he really had a vision, which he genuinely believed was of a divine Jesus and it changed his life, not necessarily for the better. I don't see a strong motivation for him to devote his life to this if he wasn't sincere. Also he mentions meeting James the brother of Jesus and Peter, so if he's making it all up, that's at least three people he made up out of whole cloth, two of them ostensibly still alive at time of writing. He's also necessarily making up the church in Jerusalem and the Christians he supposedly persecuted before his conversion. These seem like big lies, easily exposed even in the ancient world. No, I think he's telling the truth, as he sees it.
When I say I don't believe Jesus was a real person I mean the Jesus of the New Testament, the one who walked on water and turned water into wine.
Whether Paul made Jesus up depends on which Jesus you believe he's spreading the good word about. If he's preaching the Jesus of miracles then he's preaching a made-up Jesus, even if he borrowed the name of Jesus from James's brother. But if Paul is just preaching "an obscure religious mystic" who taught charity and forgiveness then sure, I agree it makes it more likely he was a real person.
But "an obscure religious mystic" is not the Jesus people of faith believe in. Generally, Christians believe in the Jesus of the gospels, and I'm saying that Jesus didn't exist.
--Percy

This message is a reply to:
 Message 155 by Granny Magda, posted 02-12-2024 4:31 PM Granny Magda has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 193 by Granny Magda, posted 02-13-2024 3:09 PM Percy has replied

  
Percy
Member
Posts: 22499
From: New Hampshire
Joined: 12-23-2000
Member Rating: 4.9


(1)
Message 175 of 563 (915394)
02-13-2024 12:53 PM
Reply to: Message 166 by PaulK
02-13-2024 9:35 AM


PaulK in Message 166 writes:
You made yourself the subject in Message 336
But you made sensible people the topic before that in Message 323:
PaulK writes:
Or, for another comparison we don’t know when or where Jesus was born, nor do we know much of his ancestry. But no sensible person concludes that Jesus didn’t exist based on those facts.
All I did was identify myself as a member of the group of people who you claim would not conclude that Jesus didn't exist, except that I do. And now you're further claiming that the opinion I hold means I'm not a sensible person. Woe to they who disagree with you.
The things you enumerated that we don't know, such as when or where Jesus was born, would also be disputed by many sensible people.
You're trying to rule out disagreement out of hand by saying no sensible person would conclude differently than you. I'm saying that sensible people could conclude differently, indeed have concluded differently, and that there is room for discussion.
--Percy

This message is a reply to:
 Message 166 by PaulK, posted 02-13-2024 9:35 AM PaulK has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 178 by PaulK, posted 02-13-2024 1:39 PM Percy has replied

  
Percy
Member
Posts: 22499
From: New Hampshire
Joined: 12-23-2000
Member Rating: 4.9


(1)
Message 188 of 563 (915409)
02-13-2024 2:39 PM
Reply to: Message 178 by PaulK
02-13-2024 1:39 PM


PaulK writes:
The point being that sensible people wouldn’t jump to conclusions on clearly inadequate evidence.
...
Obviously not - it’s the reasoning I’m criticising, not the position.
Revisionism. Discussion hadn't even started.
quote:
You're trying to rule out disagreement out of hand by saying no sensible person would conclude differently than you.
No, I’m clearly not saying that.
You clearly are. Just look how you ended your post.
On the other hand you aren’t answering with substantive points. You’re just complaining that you are considered less than sensible (possibly incorrectly, even after my clarification in Message 337).
Message 337 is a clarification? Who could tell.
Would a sensible person do that?
There you go again, trying to characterize people as not sensible even before any discussion has taken place.
Nothing of substance on the topic has yet been exchanged between us. Your insistence on a priori ruling that a certain position is not sensible makes no sense.
--Percy

This message is a reply to:
 Message 178 by PaulK, posted 02-13-2024 1:39 PM PaulK has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 189 by PaulK, posted 02-13-2024 2:51 PM Percy has replied

  
Percy
Member
Posts: 22499
From: New Hampshire
Joined: 12-23-2000
Member Rating: 4.9


(1)
Message 212 of 563 (915435)
02-13-2024 4:07 PM
Reply to: Message 189 by PaulK
02-13-2024 2:51 PM


You stating what you believe sensible is not a discussion. You're precluding discussion by ruling a certain position to not be sensible. Discussion can't begin until you give up that position.
--Percy

This message is a reply to:
 Message 189 by PaulK, posted 02-13-2024 2:51 PM PaulK has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 215 by PaulK, posted 02-13-2024 4:24 PM Percy has replied

  
Percy
Member
Posts: 22499
From: New Hampshire
Joined: 12-23-2000
Member Rating: 4.9


(1)
Message 229 of 563 (915453)
02-13-2024 5:22 PM
Reply to: Message 193 by Granny Magda
02-13-2024 3:09 PM


Granny Magda in Message 193 writes:
Evidence of what?
Evidence for the existence of Jesus as I made clear.
For the existence of Jesus as "an obscure religious mystic?" Why would such a person even be necessary? If that's who Jesus really was then 95% of the gospels are fiction, and if there never was a Jesus then 100% of the gospels are fiction. That 5% hardly seems worth finagling over.
Concerning evidence, no one is questioning the existence of the gospels or the NT, but the exact same gospel passages have been interpreted as saying a variety of different things, and you described them as "dodgy evidence." Some take the gospels literally, others figuratively, others fictionally, and there are multiple interpretations within each of these contexts. Agreeing on what they're evidence of seems challenging.
You argue that the gospel writers would not have introduced fictions like the census if they were just making Jesus up, but Paul's epistles were written long before Luke. Separate Christian communities would have had a long time to develop and evolve and create and abandon ideas that later required reconciliation.
We already know the gospels are full of fiction. The only question is, "How much?"
But "an obscure religious mystic" is not the Jesus people of faith believe in. Generally, Christians believe in the Jesus of the gospels, and I'm saying that Jesus didn't exist.
But I'm not talking about that. I'm talking about a plausible historical Jesus and you know that. Why insist upon responding to a claim I'm not making? It's obtuse, it's unnecessarily confusing and in my opinion it's just sloppy rhetoric . Your doing the same thing as Theodoric, addressing only the lunatic claims of Christians and ignoring the far more plausible claim that I am making.
Sorry, didn't mean for it to come across that way. I only meant that the Jesus that I believe did not exist is the one from the gospels. I don't have any particularly strong opinion about the possibility that Jesus is based upon a real person who didn't live the life described in the gospels. Maybe, maybe not. Why does it matter? You go on to answer:
This matters because a bad habit of Jesus Mythicists is a sort of bait and switch. They claim to address a plausible Jesus but then switch to arguments that only matter for the magical Jesus. It's infuriating. Saying "Jesus didn't exist" when you're really talking about the magic Jesus is just confusing and contrary. It has no place in any sensible conversation about a plausible historical Jesus. It's a waste of time; we're all already agreed that no-one walked on water. People who are not onboard with that aren't engaged in any recognisable kind of scholarship. I don't care what Christians believe; I'm not interested in that conversation.
I wasn't aware of the Jesus Mythicists.
I don't understand why you insist upon framing it like this. I know that you don't believe in magic. You know that I don't believe in magic. I just don't get it.
I'm not intentionally trying to be obscure. I think we're just focused on different beliefs. I'm focused on what Biblical literalists believe, while you seem focused on the historical Jesus.
--Percy

This message is a reply to:
 Message 193 by Granny Magda, posted 02-13-2024 3:09 PM Granny Magda has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 260 by Granny Magda, posted 02-14-2024 10:12 AM Percy has replied

  
Percy
Member
Posts: 22499
From: New Hampshire
Joined: 12-23-2000
Member Rating: 4.9


(1)
Message 233 of 563 (915464)
02-13-2024 8:09 PM
Reply to: Message 215 by PaulK
02-13-2024 4:24 PM


I don't think it prudent to discuss with someone with a closed mind.
--Percy

This message is a reply to:
 Message 215 by PaulK, posted 02-13-2024 4:24 PM PaulK has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 237 by PaulK, posted 02-13-2024 11:59 PM Percy has replied

  
Percy
Member
Posts: 22499
From: New Hampshire
Joined: 12-23-2000
Member Rating: 4.9


(1)
Message 252 of 563 (915492)
02-14-2024 6:06 AM
Reply to: Message 237 by PaulK
02-13-2024 11:59 PM


Yes, I guess you've told us all we need to know about yourself.
--Percy

This message is a reply to:
 Message 237 by PaulK, posted 02-13-2024 11:59 PM PaulK has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 268 by PaulK, posted 02-14-2024 12:44 PM Percy has seen this message but not replied

  
Percy
Member
Posts: 22499
From: New Hampshire
Joined: 12-23-2000
Member Rating: 4.9


(1)
Message 253 of 563 (915493)
02-14-2024 7:15 AM
Reply to: Message 245 by Rahvin
02-14-2024 12:45 AM


Rahvin in Message 245 writes:
I think it takes almost no evidence to believe somethings, and a lot of evidence to believe others.
Well, yes, the issue of focus is the key thing. Was there a squirrel? What does it matter? It's just small talk - I might not even remember the conversation tomorrow.
But was there a Jesus who walked on water and turned water into wine? That matters, because it drives the beliefs, attitudes and behaviors of billions of people, people I might have to deal with, people who might show up at school board meetings and push for the teaching of creationism or, more recently, for the banning of books.
Then there's the alternative being offered in this thread. Was there a real person who did none of the things related in the gospels but upon whom the Jesus mythology was somehow built? An actual young rabbi and his congregants who Paul badgered because of the beliefs he espoused but who otherwise bore no resemblance to the Jesus of the gospels?
How would we ever know? All searchers for the historical Jesus make arguments for which parts of the NT Jesus stories they think hint at the person behind the myth. It's true, they argue, that deeply religious people might make up miraculous stories, but what possible reason could they have for making up that Paul rebuked Peter at Antioch? It must be true.
Yeah, right.
As a matter of history I can't help but be curious about whether there was a real person behind the Jesus myth. I wish there were evidence one way or the other, but as far as I can tell there isn't. I'll listen to arguments that this or that is evidence of something about the real Jesus, but I've listened to these arguments for a long time and found nothing convincing.
But those arguing both for and against a real person behind the Jesus myth are light years away from those who believe we should accept Jesus as Lord and Savior because everything in the gospels is true.
But a man living in that region during Roman occupation forming a messianic cult following that expressed ideals that overlap with ideals already known in the region, who perhaps became too much of a disruption and was executed by the Romans...that doesn't sound like it would take much evidence to be plausible. I couldn't positively assert that such a man existed with any specificity, but neither could I negatively assert that such a man never existed with specificity. It sounds like a collection of events and attributes that would not have been unusual for the historical time and place.
People writing in the 2nd century would have little difficulty writing stories set in the 1st century that appear plausible to modern eyes, but plausibility was the best they could achieve. Modern analyses reveal a multitude of problems.
It seems possible to me that the mythical Jesus was based on one or more real people, with some (a lot of) mythologizing tacked on.
Sure, it's possible. So's that he was an obscure mystic. So's that there was never any such person.
The only evidence I think required for that would be contemporary evidence of the Roman occupation, the existence of end-times religious leaders, evidence that the ideals expressed in this assertion were likely known at least to some at that time and place, and that the Romans executed people via crucifixion. And honestly, even with very little historical knowledge, my understanding is that all of those items are pretty decently established.
The same type of evidence establishes that Sidney Carton in A Tale of Two Cities was based upon a real person.
--Percy

This message is a reply to:
 Message 245 by Rahvin, posted 02-14-2024 12:45 AM Rahvin has not replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 263 by Phat, posted 02-14-2024 12:31 PM Percy has seen this message but not replied

  
Percy
Member
Posts: 22499
From: New Hampshire
Joined: 12-23-2000
Member Rating: 4.9


Message 275 of 563 (915523)
02-14-2024 1:12 PM
Reply to: Message 260 by Granny Magda
02-14-2024 10:12 AM


Granny Magda writes:
For the existence of Jesus as "an obscure religious mystic?" Why would such a person even be necessary?
I'm not sure what you mean by necessary. Christianity has to have come from somewhere and having it's origins in a real person is a highly parsimonious explanation.
It's like I said before. I don't see much difference between basing Christianity on someone on whose life was nothing like Jesus's on the one hand, and basing it on no one at all on the other.
If that's who Jesus really was then 95% of the gospels are fiction, and if there never was a Jesus then 100% of the gospels are fiction. That 5% hardly seems worth finagling over.
Well I wouldn't like to put a figure on it, even loosely. Certainly I would not encourage amateurs and laymen to uncritically view the Gospels as reliable history, far from it. Historians though, textual critics and other scholars of antiquity approach their sources with far greater caution and detailed analysis than laymen. "What you call "finagling over the 5%" is what such people do!
I have no problem with other people doing that.
I also think that the question of whether one of the most influential individuals of all time existed or not is a bigger deal than just part of that "5%".
We agree that the Jesus of the gospels never existed, but Christianity's outsize influence is due to people's belief that that Jesus did exist, not to any belief that he was an obscure mystic.
Concerning Biblical scholarship, even the most powerful microscope cannot create evidence that doesn't exist. That's why Biblical scholars have no consensus, only a range of opinion from a Jesus of miracles at one extreme to no Jesus at the other.
His [Paul's] various claims don't make sense unless there was some sort of pre-existing Christian movement.
So you believe Paul made up stories about a resurrection but not about a religious movement.
It doesn't. I don't think any question about distant history really matters much. Did king Arthur exist? Or Robin Hood? Probably not. Does it matter? Not in the least.
Actually, the Jesus that I believe did not exist, the one of the gospels, is a good analog to believing King Arthur did not exist, the one of the round table and the magic sword. Some hypothesize that there was an actual King Arthur, just not the one of legend. Does it matter? Not in the least. But if the King Arthur of legend existed then that would be a very big deal. *That* would matter.
In the same way, some hypothesize that there was an actual Jesus, just not the one of the gospels. Does it matter? Not in the least. But if the Jesus of the gospels existed then that would be a very big deal. *That* would matter.
--Percy

This message is a reply to:
 Message 260 by Granny Magda, posted 02-14-2024 10:12 AM Granny Magda has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 276 by Granny Magda, posted 02-14-2024 1:46 PM Percy has replied

  
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