Re: Re: [skeptics-137] Did the historical Jesus exist

From: David
Sent on: Wednesday, April 3, 2013 9:04 PM
Marlys,
I replied to your post on P&P as the Carrier Ehrman debates. The censors didn't put it through, but required me to confirm my identity. When I did this, it passed through on Apr01 (April Fool?) mangled and nearly un-readable at 08:25. So, at this point, I will give you credit for this torrent of posts on this subject on the Skeptics threads. It works better on Skeptics than P&P because of the censorship. Fortunately, I also have my own website: http://www.davesskepticalblog.com/wordpress1/ //Since I own it, I can publish pretty much whatever I like - except no nuclear secrets or bomb making recipes and I don't out CIA agents. To post or reply, you need to register on the site.
 
In reply to Iggy (my spiritual advisor), the epistemological problem is, did the historical Jesus / Joshua exist? What Richard Carrier is saying to his readers and to Bart Ehrman, is that the answer will be a probability statement, not black (0%) and white (100%) and that as historians, they have a professional obligation to make honest evaluations, which of necessity are probability statements. Something that supposedly happened 2,000 years ago can only be a probability statement. Carrier's book - Proving History: Bayes's Theorem and the Quest for the historical Jesus is for the specific purpose of getting people to think in probabilistic terms. In the book, he says that we can be fairly sure (high probability) that Ceasar crossed the Rubicon. ... For example, Julius Caesar's conclusive capture of Rome and his unchallenged firsthand account of crossing the Rubicon would both have been improbable unless Caesar actually crossed the Rubicon. Not impossible, but improbable—
Carrier, Richard C. [masked]). Proving History: Bayes's Theorem and the Quest for the Historical Jesus (p. 98). Prometheus Books. Kindle Edition. ... He then cites evidence for why this is so, not just one source, but a number of independent, contemporary sources. He then talks about Jesus. There seems to be no evidence, aside from the Christian Bible New Testament that any of this happened.
 
A small tidbit from a book I am currently reading about the Sea of Galilee:
...such nautical episodes seem very out of place if you try to graft them onto a rural Palestinian setting as Mark did. Where do you have maritime adventures in landlocked Galilee? Mark solved it by inventing a brand new body of water, the Sea of Galilee. MacDonald reveals a surprising fact: no one ever referred to this small river-fed lake, just 7 miles long and 4 miles wide, as a "sea" before Mark did. Even Luke consistently corrected Mark, calling it by its real name and proper term: Lake Chinnereth. This modest body of water seems like an unlikely stand-in for the ferocious sea where Jesus and the disciples have to battle life-threatening storms and powerful waves ...
Fitzgerald, David [masked]). Nailed: Ten Christian Myths That Show Jesus Never Existed At All (Kindle Locations[masked]). Lulu. Kindle Edition.
 
The suggestion is that Mark was trying to create a heroic epic along the lines of the Odyssy. Hard to do in a desert, so, he invented the Sea of Galilee. Mark is generally accepted as the first gospel, which was then copied to varying degrees by the other 3 authors.
In my words, this is like saying that everying in the Book of Mormon is true, which means that we should all be Mormons. If you don't agree with this, then my question is, why do you question the Book of Mormon, but not the Bible? The Book of Mormon is only about 180 years old, I have read it, and most historians agree that Joseph Smith really did exist and he probably was the author of the Book of Mormon as dictated to some followers, including where and when he was born, where he lived, where he died etc. Smith was illiterate, so, he probably didn't write it himself. There is disagreement on when Jesus was born, where he lived, and when he died. There is disagreement on how he was born (virgin birth etc) and how he died (cross, hanged etc). And the only references to Jesus are the New Testament and people who got their information from the New Testament. The NT was written by people who had not actually met Jesus. Does this sound like a real person? There are accounts of Joseph Smith outside of the Mormon religion and un-related to LDS. The probability is fairly high that he existed. My own current analysis is that the probability is fairly low - 10% that there really was a historical Jesus. Christianity disappears without a historical Jesus. I read somewhere, recently, that it is hard for a man to accept that he is wrong when his job depends on his not seeing it.
 
In line with the Carrier / Ehrman dispute, you could then say that I am not a New Testament scholar. True enough. But then, why should I spend my life studying or praising something that I doubt existed. Why should I spend my adult life studying something of questionable existence? Why not be a Santa Claus scholar; it makes only slightly less sense than being a Jesus scholar. I could be a scholar of Greek and Roman gods, but I wouldn't pretent that they really existed. According to the myths, they seem to have had a lot more fun than the Christian gods. Not even being a Mormon Scholar, I am convinced (90%) that Joseph Smith existed, but that he was mistaken. I am not Mormon either, or a scientologist. Scientology occured during my lifetime, and there is a great deal of evidence that L.Ron Hubbard actually existed; I even have some photographs of him at various ages. I would give the probability of L. Ron Hubbards existance at better than 95%, based on my readings. Here is a book I read, including his photo: http://www.xenu.net/archive/books/bfm/bfmconte.htm //I have read Dyanetics, which is the true and un-changed word of L. Ron Hubbard; well, OK, I tried to read it - I didn't get very far with it.
 
Having said all of that, I can't be 100% sure that I exist, I would give it 99.9% - I might be in a matrix or I might be in a psychotic delusion of some sort - paranoid schizophrenic with delusions of grandeur sounds like fun! How can I be sure that you exist?
DaveN

From: Marlys Kummer Doerflinger <[address removed]>
To: [address removed]
Sent: Wednesday, April 3,[masked]:59 PM
Subject: Re: Re: [skeptics-137] Did the historical Jesus exist
 
 
Richard Carrier mentioned this blog when he was on The Thinking Atheist on March 26. I thought some   may want to read through it.
 
 
 
This is a summary of the current state of the debate after the mini blog war between myself and Bart Ehrman over his latest book, Did Jesus Exist?, which attempted to argue against various scholars (both legitimate and crank) who have concluded, or at least suspect, that Jesus never really existed, but was an invention in myth, like Moses or King Arthur or Ned Ludd. Some of this exchange involved other people, or were tangential to Ehrman’s book. But I will give a state-of-play for everything.
http://freethoughtblogs.com/carrier/archives/1794/comment-page-1

From: David <[address removed]>
To: [address removed]
Sent: Wednesday, April 3,[masked]:58 PM
Subject: RE: Re: [skeptics-137] Did the historical Jesus exist
Don, what are the odds that a person who has spent his/her life studying someone (you, Bart etc.) will come to the conclusion that the source of their studies didn't really exist after all? And how many of your teachers didn't think Jesus existed? I admire the fact that you realized the non-existence of a god, but, you could have gone one step further and given up on Jesus.
DaveN 




Sent from Samsung tablet

Don & Jackie <[address removed]> wrote:
Yes Larry, I have read his book. In fact, I have now read most of his books. I have a lot of education in this field though it was mostly out of the German quest of the historical jesus and redaction criticism. My NT professor studied under E. Schweitzer with a years  special study .under Kasemanso I looked at it from a different perspective. What I finally came to conclude was that a search for the historical jesus tells you much more about the person and the society from which that person lives than it does about the original jesus. This is a problem we all have.What we say says more about us than it does about historical reality. An jesus wrote nothing. My second point is that there are many different NT pictures of jesus: He is a speaker of special ethical statements, a cynic, a parable person, a magic ( first century magician) worker, a healer, a séance person, one possessed by god, and other options. This is one multi personality individual if the gospels and paul are correct.
And if you are going to proclaim a human being is actually god you better have some extraordinary evidence. The evidence is not there. It is mostly hope, faith, dreams and visions - reality is missing. And even if a billion people believe it - the vote totals do not make it true.   DonB
From: Larry <[address removed]>
To: [address removed]
 Sent: Wednesday, April 3,[masked]:09 PM
Subject: Re: [skeptics-137] Did the historical Jesus exist
Eric, Don, et al,
 
If it hasn't been mentioned, check out Bart Ehrman's book, Did Jesus Exist?  It came out last year, I think, with the paperback being issued last month. 
 
Larry --- On Wed, 4/3/13, eric <[address removed]> wrote:

From: eric <[address removed]>
Subject: Re: [skeptics-137] Did the historical Jesus exist
To: [address removed]
Date: Wednesday, April 3, 2013, 12:53 PM

Don Bell and I discussed this issue this morning at the Heathen Breakfast meetup at IHOP.  We agreed that there was probably an historical Jesus, but it is impossible to construct an accurate or coherent picture of this person because there is simply too little reliable historical evidence.  Many of the stories in the Gospels appear to be either parables or simply myths made up to affirm, as Dave points out below, OT prophecies.  (Which Gospel stories are historical is, of course, hotly debated.) Jesus, if he existed, was most likely born in Nazareth, not Bethlehem (and definitely not of a virgin).  He probably had a very small following and he was probably crucified.  Why he was crucified remains murky; the Gospel accounts are not consistent.  The strongest evidence for an historical Jesus comes from the letters of Paul, who personally knew some of the followers of Jesus.  It seems unlikely that the followers of Jesus could have cooked up an entirely mythical Jesus for Paul, who believed Jesus to have been an actual historical person.  One strange aspect of this, however, is that Paul says almost nothing about the life of Jesus.    Eric On 4/3/[masked]:58 AM, David wrote:
The answer is probably not I.e. It is low probability. I finished Proving History: Bayes's Theorem and the Quest for the historical Jesus by Richard Carrier. I am still reading Nailed: Ten Christian Myths That Show Jesus Never Existed At All by David Fitzgerald.
I hadn't given it much thought in the past, now I don't think that the Jesus of the Bible existed; maybe 10% for. Note that the English name Jesus is a cognate of the Hebrew name Joshua, of which there are and were  many. So, I am sure that there were many Joshuas, and some of them probably tried to start a cult. But, most of the Biblical Joshua things, such as born of a virgin are simply myth, made up after the fact to conform with prophecy and to keep up with other myths of the time. Born of a human virgin was very popular for gods of that time.
DaveN 
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