Re: [KC-Freethinking-Social] Jesus Poll by Josh Stewart

From: Marlys Kummer D.
Sent on: Monday, September 10, 2012 8:00 PM
Yes I did simplify the reasons to a great extent.   Since most people were giving beliefs, I was not sure if they were using evidence or just making things up because they thought they had a direct line to the 'BIG' guy.  I wanted to illustrate the changes in what I believed.....my journey.  I gave the links to those things so if others wanted to do their own research in the area they could.  As you read, I am much older than the average non believer.  I looked into the lack of a historic Jesus idea when I found the stories of the lives of the ancient gods was so similar 9 months ago. I did know that there was no record of Herod's killing of the male children under the age of two etc.  But I found by reading what Fitzgerald and Carrier said 
That there was a lack of evidence that the historic Jesus existed. 

Even if there was a historic Jesus, which if he existed should have been reported by at least 
One of the contemporary historians writing during his lifetime, does not prove that he was the son of God or that there is a god. 

Marlys Sent from iPhone 



On Sep 10, 2012, at 7:06 PM, Christopher <[address removed]> wrote:

Marlys,

There are many things to be said in response to your evidence and conclusions regarding the historicity of Jesus.  I'll try to register a few of them here.

Since you point out that you have done much research on the question of the existence of the historical Jesus--a fact that I respect and that entitles you to be taken seriously on the subject--I should say that I, too, have some preparation that qualifies me to address the relevant evidence and venture conclusions on the basis of it.  I have read a a good bit about early Christianity and have corresponded substantially with others on the specific question of the existence of the historical Jesus. (Perhaps later I can find some of my correspondence on the matter and send it along, too.) My formal education, which I have done much to augment through long and assiduous independent study, is largely relevant to this topic (M.A. Classics [=Greek and Latin languages and literature / Greek and Roman civilization]). Thus, the comments I offer will, like yours, be "based on research and evidence."  With that, I undertake to address your points in a regrettably, but necessarily, summary fashion.

I have read the entire Bible carefully, and have studied much of it intensely, from the point of view of a non-believer, in the same spirit as you.  I have extensively and sedulously compared the accounts of Jesus' life and message in each of the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke, which have important characteristics in common with each other, as opposed to John, which is unique in nature and was written considerably later), and thus necessarily found a plethora of inconsistencies among these gospels in matters great and small.  (Everyone should see my collation of the passages in the synoptics on the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus.  There is no way in which they can be harmonized [without a great deal of perverse imagination and mental acrobatics].)  At the beginning of your post you stated that "there were some real differences in what [the gospels] said about Jesus’ life", but you did not say what conclusion, if any, you derived from this obvious fact.  Are you suggesting that the fact that there are differences among the various gospel accounts indicates that the historical Jesus never existed?  In any case, these inconsistencies do not--certainly not by themselves--lead legitimately to this conclusion. There are other, and on reflection far better, conclusions to draw from these inconsistencies than this one.  Here are just a couple of considerations to contrast with the conclusion that Jesus did not exist as a human being in ancient Palestine. 

First, it is hard to account for some basic features of the gospels on the hypothesis that Jesus did not exist.  Unfortunately, I don't know how you think these gospels came to be written; e.g., was there a cabal of conspirators fabricating historical accounts of the mythological Jesus' life, and are these fabricated accounts more or less equivalent to the gospels that have been handed down to us?  This conclusion would be extremely difficult to accept, one reason being that we might expect organized fabricators to write one consistent account of their subject rather than three or four contradictory ones.  Also, there are reports and doctrines in the gospels that tell powerfully against the truth of their allegedly fabricated story.  All the synoptics (and all the other books of the NT except the very latest ones) are replete with the idea that Jesus (or "the Son of Man") would return to destroy this world and establish in its place the perfect "Kingdom of God" within the lifetime or "generation" of persons to whom he preached on earth. This doctrine is the very basis of all Jesus' other teaching (e.g., abandon and "hate" your family and go and preach the gospel, because "the time is at hand") and it turned out to be manifestly and spectacularly false. This doctrine caused a tremendous crisis among late- and post-1st century Christians, and they downplayed or reinterpreted it as best they could after it proved to be false.  The latest books of the NT testify to this fact:  readers are exhorted to get back to their ordinary lives, taking care of their families, etc. (many had thrown away their livelihoods in the expectation that Jesus would come back any minute, as he had in fact taught, and as the gospels record). The reason these Christians had to contend somehow with the doctrine of the imminent Kingdom of God is that it was what Jesus in fact had taught; and since Jesus taught it, it couldn't be simply and conveniently tossed away.  It seems highly improbable that putative gospel-fabricaters would have included this extremely problematic prophecy any story that they wanted to be believed.

I, and many others, have long been aware that the Christian calendar came to celebrate putative events and personages in its history on dates that pre-Christians had earlier used to celebrate putative events and personages in their religious history.  This is an instance of a phenomenon called syncretism, defined by Merriam-Webster online as:

"the developmental process of historical growth within a religion by accretion and coalescence of different and often originally conflicting forms of belief and practice through the interaction with or supersession of other religions."

When Christians (whom by this point we can call "Catholic") spread their religion to "pagan" peoples, especially during the late Roman Empire, they made Christianity easier for these peoples to understand and appreciate by synthesizing supposed features of "Christ" with those of currently worshipped "pagan" gods.  This development has nothing to do with the origins of Christianity, but is rather a later effort to accommodate Christianity--the essential nature of which had already been decided--to aspects of "pagan" religion in order to make it more palatable to "pagans," to whom it was by nature fundamentally alien in spirit.  (This is how we get the association of, e.g., mistletoe--which was a magical plant for certain "pagans" in northern Europe--with Christmas.)  Christianity itself is in no way related to, nor does it in any way depend upon, the "pagan" religious calendar; none of the Catholic "feast days" are original to Christianity and are not mentioned in the Bible. For example, nothing in the New Testament or, as far as I can recall at the moment, in any other early Christian document of which I am aware even hints that Jesus was born on December 25, or that this date was to be celebrated as "Christmas." The calendar that was in fact important to Christians was the Jewish one, and Christianity in origin was Jewish; thus, Passover, for example, is in the origin of Christianity (and the gospels depict Jesus and his disciples celebrating it) while, e.g., Saturnalia was not.  Thus, the fact that former pagan holidays later were taken over as "Christian" holidays in no way suggests that Christianity was fabricated and based on "pagan" holidays.

Unfortunately, this is all I can write for now.  I urge you, as well as everyone else interested in the question of the historical Jesus, to read the book by Bart D. Ehrman that I mentioned before:  Did Jesus Exist?:  The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth.  In addition, Ehrman has a subscription blog (all proceeds go to charity) in which, among other things, he answers questions from readers (and, if you ask a question, he will almost certainly reply on the site):  http://ehrmanblog.org/.

Christopher M. Riels
1332 Crosswinds Court Apt. 2
Lawrence, KS 66046
Telephone: (785)[masked]

--- On Mon, 9/10/12, Marlys Kummer Doerflinger <[address removed]> wrote:

From: Marlys Kummer Doerflinger <[address removed]>
Subject: RE: [KC-Freethinking-Social] Jesus Poll by Josh Stewart
To: [address removed]
Date: Monday, September 10, 2012, 1:47 PM

My answers to Josh’s questions on what I believe, is based on research and evidence.    A quick answer would be numbers 3) A mythical figure mistaken as historical by later Christians 4) Other.   Below is the story of how I arrived at that conclusion.    

 

 

As I began to study the Bible, the way I was taught to study any other research project, by comparing and contrasting what each of the gospels said about this person, I found that there were some real differences in what these books said about Jesus’ life.

 

About a year ago, after almost 69 years on this planet, I heard something this Christmas season which I had not known before. This is what I posted on my Facebook at that time. Why is this not common knowledge or was I just not listening?   I researched several credible sources (college professors, historians, etc.), one of which says that there are over thirty (30) similar stories of ancient savior gods.  I don’t want you to live that long without hearing the fact that several ancient gods were born on December 25 and had lives similar to Jesus, who is now worshiped by 1/3 of the world’s population.   Yes, please do your own research, like I would expect any intelligent person to do.  I would not dare say that you have to believe the facts presented in this video or roast in ……..   But please remember I was not part of a ‘cover up’.  Click here to see the first part of a two part video which highlights some of those stories.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4EYm8lj-9zw

 

I searched the net for information about Mythraism which was practiced  in the Roman Empire from about the 1st to 4th centuries AD. The name of the Persian god Mithra, adapted into Greek as Mithras, was linked to a new and distinctive imagery.  

 

After learning of how religions have combined with one another over time, I was changing my beliefs.

 

I search the internet and found this talk from the Skepticon 3 by David Fitzgerald  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MvleOBYTrDE  I also watch a bit of what Richard Carrier [the man who mentored David] had to say.  Then I purchased his book Nailed Ten Christian Myths That Show Jesus Never Existed At All.    Many things in his book I had been already aware.  However I did not realize that there were several contemporary “ Roman and Jewish historians who had a great interest in and much to say about the region and its happenings during Jesus’ time.  We still have many of their writings today:………..detailing humdrum events and lesser exploits of much more mundane figures of Roman Palestine, including  several failed Jewish messiahs.” Page 22 Nothing is metioned about Jesus in these historian’s writings.

 

Marlys

From: [address removed] [mailto:[address removed]] On Behalf Of Buzz Kettles
Sent: Monday, September 10, 2012 12:06 PM
To: [address removed]
Subject: Re: [KC-Freethinking-Social] Jesus Poll by Josh Stewart

 

I agree with Christopher & Adam
I see no reason to disbelieve that he was a real person (human being!)
& he probably did some stuff that was impressive to those around him
& the stories were definitely written down LATER (so there is lots of room for story exaggerations/distortions) & these stories have definitely been translated & elaborated upon & over the last 2000 years (leaving lots of room to edit in more self-serving Christian 'adjustments')

-Buzz

 


From: "Christopher" <[address removed]>
To:
[address removed]
Sent: Sunday, September 9,[masked]:36:30 PM
Subject: Re: [KC-Freethinking-Social] Jesus Poll by Josh Stewart


1. A historical figure [who was considered divine by his followers and by succeeding Christians].  (I agree in substance with Adam.)

 

There is a new book by Bart Ehrman on this topic:  Did Jesus Exist?:  A Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth.  Ehrman argues for Adam's and my position.  I highly recommend that those interested in this question read it.  (Ehrman is decidedly not a Christian, and is vocal about this fact, having rejected Christianity many years ago.)

 

Despite popular notions to the contrary, there is no contradiction in or other problem with the following pair of propositions:  

 

1) The human being Jesus existed in the first century and acquired some followers.

2) This Jesus was not divine, although his followers and succeeding Christians, the latter of whom heard marvelous stories and claims about him, believed he was.

 

 

 

Christopher M. Riels
1332 Crosswinds Court Apt. 2
Lawrence, KS 66046
Telephone: (785)[masked]

--- On Sun, 9/9/12, Adam <[address removed]> wrote:


From: Adam <
[address removed]>
Subject: Re: [KC-Freethinking-Social] Jesus Poll by Josh Stewart
To:
[address removed]
Date: Sunday, September 9, 2012, 6:18 PM

4 (a mixture of choices 1, 2, and 3)

I think there likely was someone who was a philosophical "leader" and who may have done a few of the things ascribed in the bible to him. But the majority of the story is mythological, and contains intentionally expanded claims after the fact.

On , cole morgan <
[address removed]> wrote:
> Josh emailed this idea to me. Please answer the question(s) below:
>
>
> Cole 
>
>
> ***********************************************************************
> As a non-Christian, who do you think Jesus was?
>
> 1. A historical figure
>
> 2. A fictional person purposefully invented by a group of Christians.
>
> 3. A mythical figure mistaken as historical by later Christians
>
> 4. Other?
>
> Your thoughts? I would certainly find people's answers interesting.
>
> -josh Stewart  
>
>
>
>
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