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Blog: Is Jesus a Myth?
Posted: 26 June 2011 04:43 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 106 ]  
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toombaru - 26 June 2011 02:26 AM
TGBaker - 25 June 2011 10:41 PM
toombaru - 25 June 2011 01:29 PM
Mephistophelean - 13 May 2011 01:33 PM

 

The attempt to analyze the intricacies of a belief system that is beyond false will lead only to more confusion.
Best to dismiss all fairy tales as delusional and get on with life.

Actually those of us from a historical critical background have much success in de-constructing Christian belief systems and freeing its believers from delusion.

I hope you believe in reincarnation.
There are 2200 million Christians in the world and 1650 million Moslems.
You have a daunting task.

That is why books are written, blogs are blogged and videos made. 

http://debunkingchristianity.blogspot.com/

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Posted: 06 July 2011 11:31 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 107 ]  
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Hi all, I’m a mod for DM Murdock’s forum and this thread was linked to as an example of some people discussing the Christ Myth theory and perhaps struggling along with it. Having read through I’d say that some here basically ‘get it’. Others not so much. The main thing is that whether or not someone has taken a believer or evemerist position towards the Gospel myths, that person immediately carries the burden of responsibility to provide contemporary source evidence, or something, anything at all, that verifies that such an historical person as spoken of in the Gospels ever existed historically to begin with. And I have never seen any apologist or otherwise meet that burden of proof. Some people don’t realize just how difficult a task it actually is.

A) A believer takes the Gospels at their word and accepts them as historical documentation, basically.

B) An evemerist takes the Gospels to have been based on an historical core with a mythological outer layer built up around it.

C) A mythicist takes the Gospels as mythology which can not be stripped down to any particular historical core.

The believer and evemerist rely on NON-CONTEMPORARY sources many of which have been labeled as interpolation, such as the TF and such. That’s the very best they can do to assert an historical Jesus at the core of the myth, which, in debate, is always an epic fail. Even so, apologists and evemeristic scholars continue to rely on this sort of scanty and problematic source material to support the position that the Jesus myth was based on one particular historical personage in the first place. It just doesn’t work out in any absolute sense.

So Murdock introduced the “Mythicist Position” in her book CiE to make an official third position to contrast the believer and evemerist positions of the past:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YKW9sbJ3v2w

Now as for the disciples like Paul and the rest, surprise!!! There’s no more evidence for any of their historical existence than there is for Jesus - and that much will become blatantly obvious when you go searching for such evidence from any contemporary sources from the supposed time periods. The Gospels are firmly placed as second century compositions in order of historical appearence, and any attempt to place them into the first century is really wishful thinking at best aimed at trying to lend credit to the mythology as having some historical core in the first century, when it really doesn’t seem to have one.

[ Edited: 06 July 2011 11:44 AM by tat tvam asi]
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Posted: 06 July 2011 12:17 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 108 ]  
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tat tvam asi - 06 July 2011 03:31 PM

Hi all, I’m a mod for DM Murdock’s forum and this thread was linked to as an example of some people discussing the Christ Myth theory and perhaps struggling along with it. Having read through I’d say that some here basically ‘get it’. Others not so much. The main thing is that whether or not someone has taken a believer or evemerist position towards the Gospel myths, that person immediately carries the burden of responsibility to provide contemporary source evidence, or something, anything at all, that verifies that such an historical person as spoken of in the Gospels ever existed historically to begin with. And I have never seen any apologist or otherwise meet that burden of proof. Some people don’t realize just how difficult a task it actually is.

A) A believer takes the Gospels at their word and accepts them as historical documentation, basically.

B) An evemerist takes the Gospels to have been based on an historical core with a mythological outer layer built up around it.

C) A mythicist takes the Gospels as mythology which can not be stripped down to any particular historical core.
You have misrepresented Erhrm. an completely.
The believer and evemerist rely on NON-CONTEMPORARY sources many of which have been labeled as interpolation, such as the TF and such. That’s the very best they can do to assert an historical Jesus at the core of the myth, which, in debate, is always an epic fail. Even so, apologists and evemeristic scholars continue to rely on this sort of scanty and problematic source material to support the position that the Jesus myth was based on one particular historical personage in the first place. It just doesn’t work out in any absolute sense.

So Murdock introduced the “Mythicist Position” in her book CiE to make an official third position to contrast the believer and You have misrepresented Erhrm. an completely.evemerist positions of the past:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YKW9sbJ3v2w

Now as for the disciples like Paul and the rest, surprise!!! There’s no more evidence for any of their historical existence than there is for Jesus - and that much will become blatantly obvious when you go searching for such evidence from any contemporary sources from the supposed time periods. The Gospels are firmly placed as second century compositions in order of historical appearance, and any attempt to place them into the first century is really wishful thinking at best aimed at trying to lend credit to the mythology as having some historical core in the first century, when it really doesn’t seem to have one.


You seem to have much theory with little historical research.  The dating of various writings of the New Testament have to do with dependency, language and vocabulary style and apparent location of their sources.  Matthew and Luke are dependent upon Mark which and Q which are obviously earlier therefore than Matthew and Luke.  We have other writings of the early second century that quote the New Testament Writings.  We can look at Textual criticism and see how the text change as well as see how the stories are changed by differing Christianities. We can date Papias who quotes certain New Testament documents. We also can project various movements of cultic development. I am afraid that the Mythicist approach to Christianity does more harm to atheism than demonstrating a scientific and historical approach. There are no serious historians that questions the early writings of Paul. And secondly we can easily tell the later forgeries like 1st and 2nd Timothy and Titus. I suggest you look at the historical avenues that taken to reconstruct the history. It is the same with the dead Sea Scrolls.  One does not need to posit a mythological origins to reject the mythological beliefs.

 

Here’s my reasoning. If we take two early movements the Ebionites and Paul you have on the one hand a presentation that Jesus was Jewish. He was a human being. He was not virgin born. He taught wisdom and lived a pure life.  He got killed but was believed to be appointed as God’s son ( Messiah) and so was raised by God. He would return with the general resurrection of the dead and establish the eternal kingdom since the end of the world is at hand.  Until then you keep the Jewish law.  This is apparently what a group in Jerusalem believed that Paul fought against and claimed was lead by James the brother of Jesus.


On the other hand you have Paul’s pre-existent divine Son of God who died as a propitiation for sin. He has many similar attributes to the other Hellentisic Mystery Cult gods and in fact seems to be a demigod.  He appears as a spirit.  One must remember that the writings of the New Testament are written by different people and more importantly different Christianites.  When looking at other writings that did not make it into the Bible, the Nag Hammadhi Library and the Dead Sea Scrolls there is a competition of beliefs.


Now given plausibility which is likely to have evolved from which?  Is it likely that a myth would have reduced a godlike figure to a Jewish teacher?  Or is it likely that there was a Jewish teacher who had followers still in Jerusalem that came to be known as the Ebionites and continued to be Jewish whose teachings became incorporated as they left the confines of Judaism into more exotic forms. And Paul having seen both and having a Greek Philosophical background merged the Mystery cult language onto the Jewish sect of Jesus’ followers creating a new Gentile religion.  When we do historical analysis we look at these factors as well as what words likely went back to such a situation.  We can construct a Jewish teacher to some detail.

 

The historical Jesus was a teacher from Nazareth who had a small following after his death who believed he would return as Messiah. He was a human being born naturally and died. Therefore he was adopted by god and was killed because of his teachings. They believed as did many of those period ( Qumran) that the end was near and Jesus would return with those of the general resurrection as Messiah.  This is a completely Jewish and human idea. Certainly it was wrong But from it we see how it moved over to Asia minor and became a more divine story until Paul got a hold of it. Just because we see history does not mean those of us who take a historical critical rather than a mythic approach have any “hope and faith in the Bible and its Jesus.”


I would suggest the differences in Greek of the Gospels and their motivations point to Q1 being from Galilee. Q2 and Q3 originating in Northern Palestine with Matthew acquiring it and Mark in Northern Palestine. The Didache seems to have been effected by Matthew as it made its way to Galilee around 100CE.  Mark appears about the same time as q3 but in Southern Syria.  John is written in Northern Syria . With the readings of Luke toward John and against the other synoptics in places the idea is that John was written in Northern Syria at the end of the first century Luke in Asia Minor.  Paul’s stuff was coming from Asia Minor as was the epistles of John, Revelation, and Luke. Polycarp and then the Pastoral epistles followed there.  I Clement and I Peter were written in Rome around the same time (turn of the century) while Barnabas, Shepard of Hermas and finally 2 Peter , Justin Martyr and 2 Clement 110-140 CE.  Somewhere around Northern Palestine or Galilee at that time (110 -120 CE) Hebrews, James, Jude and Diognetus was written. This is just a suggestion but seems to help on particular issues in the text.  Of these there are smatterings of Aramaic throughout the earlier works which indicate a period of 30 or 40 CE or so.  There is simply too much known about the writings to buy your dates or theory.  It certainly does not mean that the jesus of the various Christianites is not a myth and they certainly present him as a god rather than a human teacher.

Tat Tvam Asi. Om Tat Sat and gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhi svaha to your name. I like it.

[ Edited: 06 July 2011 12:20 PM by TGBaker]
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Posted: 06 July 2011 02:23 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 109 ]  
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Thanks for the response. By “we” I assume I’m speaking with a NT scholar. I’ll go ahead and contrast that with what the MP is focusing in on:

Prior to the end of the second century, there is no clear evidence of the existence of the canonical gospels as we have them.

The Canon: A Second-Century Composition

“...With such remarkable declarations of the Church fathers, et al., as well as other cogent arguments, we possess some salient evidence that the gospels of Luke and John represent late second-century works. In fact, all of the canonical gospels seem to emerge at the same time—first receiving their names and number by Irenaeus around 180 AD/CE, and possibly based on one or more of the same texts as Luke, especially an “Ur-Markus” that may have been related to Marcion’s Gospel of the Lord. In addition to an “Ur-Markus” upon which the canonical gospels may have been based has also been posited an “Ur-Lukas,” which may likewise have “Ur-Markus” at its basis.

“The following may summarize the order of the gospels as they appear in the historical and literary record, beginning in the middle of the second century:

1. Ur-Markus (150)
2. Ur-Lukas (150+)
3. Luke (170)
4. Mark (175)
5. John (178)
6. Matthew (180)

“To reiterate, these late dates represent the time when these specific texts undoubtedly emerge onto the scene. If the canonical gospels as we have them existed anywhere previously, they were unknown, which makes it likely that they were not composed until that time or shortly before, based on earlier texts….”

- Who Was Jesus?, pages 82-83

“The only definite account of his life and teachings is contained in the four Gospels of the New Testament, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. All other historical records of the time are silent about him. The brief mentions of Jesus in the writings of Josephus, Tacitus and Suetonius have been generally regarded as not genuine and as Christian interpolations; in Jewish writings there is no report about Jesus that has historical value. Some scholars have even gone so far as to hold that the entire Jesus story is a myth…”

- The Universal Jewish Encyclopedia (v.6,83)
- “Who Was Jesus? Fingerprints of The Christ” (WWJ) 84

“The gospels are in fact anonymous”

- Dr. Craig L. Blomberg
- WWJ (60)

“The Gospels are neither histories nor biographies, even within the ancient tolerances for those genres.”

- Dr. John Dominic Crossan, The Historical Jesus
- WWJ (24)

* Dr. Crossan, a professed Christian, is a major figure in the fields of biblical archaeology, anthropology and New Testament textual and higher criticism. He is especially vocal in the field of Historical Jesus studies

Jesus famed far and wide:

“These “great crowds” and “multitudes,” along with Jesus’s fame, are repeatedly referred to in the gospels, including at the

Matthew 4:23-25, 5:1, 8:1, 8:18, 9:8, 9:31, 9:33, 9:36, 11:7, 12:15, 13:2, 14:1, 14:13, 14:22, 15:30, 19:2, 21:9, 26:55;

Mark 1:28, 10:1;

Luke: 4:14, 4:37, 5:15, 14:25, etc.”

- Who Was Jesus?, page 85

“Additionally, even though many times in the gospels Jesus was claimed to have been famed far and wide, not one historian of the era was aware of his existence, not even individuals who lived in, traveled around, or wrote about the relevant areas. The brief mentions of Christ, Christians or Christianity we possess from non-Christian sources are late and dubious as to their authenticity and/or value. Nor is there any valid scientific archaeological evidence demonstrating the gospel story to be true or even to support the existence of Jesus Christ. Despite this utter lack of evidence, Christian apologists and authorities make erroneous and misleading claims that there are “considerable reports” and “a surprisingly large amount of detail” regarding the life of Jesus and early Christianity.”

- WWJ page 257

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Posted: 06 July 2011 03:21 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 110 ]  
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tat tvam asi - 06 July 2011 06:23 PM

Thanks for the response. By “we” I assume I’m speaking with a NT scholar. I’ll go ahead and contrast that with what the MP is focusing in on:

Prior to the end of the second century, there is no clear evidence of the existence of the canonical gospels as we have them.

The Canon: A Second-Century Composition

“...With such remarkable declarations of the Church fathers, et al., as well as other cogent arguments, we possess some salient evidence that the gospels of Luke and John represent late second-century works. In fact, all of the canonical gospels seem to emerge at the same time—first receiving their names and number by Irenaeus around 180 AD/CE, and possibly based on one or more of the same texts as Luke, especially an “Ur-Markus” that may have been related to Marcion’s Gospel of the Lord. In addition to an “Ur-Markus” upon which the canonical gospels may have been based has also been posited an “Ur-Lukas,” which may likewise have “Ur-Markus” at its basis.

“The following may summarize the order of the gospels as they appear in the historical and literary record, beginning in the middle of the second century:

1. Ur-Markus (150)
2. Ur-Lukas (150+)
3. Luke (170)
4. Mark (175)
5. John (178)
6. Matthew (180)

“To reiterate, these late dates represent the time when these specific texts undoubtedly emerge onto the scene. If the canonical gospels as we have them existed anywhere previously, they were unknown, which makes it likely thatt they were not composed until that time or shortly before, based on earlier texts….”

- Who Was Jesus?, pages 82-83

“The only definite account of his life and teachings is contained in the four Gospels of the New Testament, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. All other historical records of the time are silent about him. The brief mentions of Jesus in the writings of Josephus, Tacitus and Suetonius have been generally regarded as not genuine and as Christian interpolations; in Jewish writings there is no report about Jesus that has historical value. Some scholars have even gone so far as to hold that the entire Jesus story is a myth…”

- The Universal Jewish Encyclopedia (v.6,83)
- “Who Was Jesus? Fingerprints of The Christ” (WWJ) 84

“The gospels are in fact anonymous”

- Dr. Craig L. Blomberg
- WWJ (60)

“The Gospels are neither histories nor biographies, even within the ancient tolerances for those genres.”

- Dr. John Dominic Crossan, The Historical Jesus
- WWJ (24)

* Dr. Crossan, a professed Christian, is a major figure in the fields of biblical archaeology, anthropology and New Testament textual and higher criticism. He is especially vocal in the field of Historical Jesus studies

Jesus famed far and wide:

“These “great crowds” and “multitudes,” along with Jesus’s fame, are repeatedly referred to in the gospels, including at the

Matthew 4:23-25, 5:1, 8:1, 8:18, 9:8, 9:31, 9:33, 9:36, 11:7, 12:15, 13:2, 14:1, 14:13, 14:22, 15:30, 19:2, 21:9, 26:55;

Mark 1:28, 10:1;

Luke: 4:14, 4:37, 5:15, 14:25, etc.”

- Who Was Jesus?, page 85

“Additionally, even though many times in the gospels Jesus was claimed to have been famed far and wide, not one historian of the era was aware of his existence, not even individuals who lived in, traveled around, or wrote about the relevant areas. The brief mentions of Christ, Christians or Christianity we possess from non-Christian sources are late and dubious as to their authenticity and/or value. Nor is there any valid scientific archaeological evidence demonstrating the gospel story to be true or even to support the existence of Jesus Christ. Despite this utter lack of evidence, Christian apologists and authorities make erroneous and misleading claims that there are “considerable reports” and “a surprisingly large amount of detail” regarding the life of Jesus and early Christianity.”

- WWJ page 257

Marcian supposedly used a redacted version of Luke dropping the Virgin Birth chapters and anything Jewish. I would place mark 70 or so CE. There is also the question of multiple variations of Mark whether one assumes an UR- Mark or not ( so Morton Smith’s find or forgery?)  Your mention of Ireneaus I assume is of his earlier mention of Papius at the turn of the first to the first third of the first century.


You simply quote for the most part otherwise of what we both agree. No one is claiming that the gospels were written by those to whom they were attributed.  As to Crossan I am very familiar with and he would not date mark anywhere like your timing.
Have you read any Crossan?  His conclusion is that Jesus was a historical Galilean peasant of the first century and similar to the Cynic wanderer.  His theology falls into the fad called Sophisticated Theology wherein one holds the negative historical conclusions and affirms a mythical import. I also am familiar with Robert Funk and studied under Hendrikus Boers. 


The problem again is as I addressed it which you have not responded. We have very good timing of the Enochic split from Qumran. We also know that theology which is consistent not with the mythological culmination in Paul’s work but with that of the Ebionites in mid first to early second century.  You would have to posit a devolution rather than an evolution of the story to legend to myth. In other words the Mythic proposal simply ignores historical findings and assumes that they relate to a positive claim of Christianity when they do not. 


The development of Christianity is quite explicated by sources and the variations in the earliest Christianities ( so Bart Ehrman, Lost Christianites).We have plenty of evidence of 1st century writings which are the second century copies of late first century works. Luke and John are written around the end or beginning of the second century in their current form. But we see a three stage writing of John that took a generation.  It is the deconstruction of the documents just as with Qumran that we establish dating through language, idiom and ideology.  The myth that you assume is one that manifests somewhat in the docetic branches of Christian Gentile influence., Gnosticism and Paul.  It became proto-orthodoxy. However it destroyed the Jewish Jesus Movement and its documents.  The Gospels Hebrews ( Aramaic 1st Century) and scores of others including Q.

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Posted: 06 July 2011 09:48 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 111 ]  
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TGBaker - 06 July 2011 07:21 PM
tat tvam asi - 06 July 2011 06:23 PM

Thanks for the response. By “we” I assume I’m speaking with a NT scholar. I’ll go ahead and contrast that with what the MP is focusing in on:

Prior to the end of the second century, there is no clear evidence of the existence of the canonical gospels as we have them.

The Canon: A Second-Century Composition

“...With such remarkable declarations of the Church fathers, et al., as well as other cogent arguments, we possess some salient evidence that the gospels of Luke and John represent late second-century works. In fact, all of the canonical gospels seem to emerge at the same time—first receiving their names and number by Irenaeus around 180 AD/CE, and possibly based on one or more of the same texts as Luke, especially an “Ur-Markus” that may have been related to Marcion’s Gospel of the Lord. In addition to an “Ur-Markus” upon which the canonical gospels may have been based has also been posited an “Ur-Lukas,” which may likewise have “Ur-Markus” at its basis.

“The following may summarize the order of the gospels as they appear in the historical and literary record, beginning in the middle of the second century:

1. Ur-Markus (150)
2. Ur-Lukas (150+)
3. Luke (170)
4. Mark (175)
5. John (178)
6. Matthew (180)

“To reiterate, these late dates represent the time when these specific texts undoubtedly emerge onto the scene. If the canonical gospels as we have them existed anywhere previously, they were unknown, which makes it likely thatt they were not composed until that time or shortly before, based on earlier texts….”

- Who Was Jesus?, pages 82-83

“The only definite account of his life and teachings is contained in the four Gospels of the New Testament, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. All other historical records of the time are silent about him. The brief mentions of Jesus in the writings of Josephus, Tacitus and Suetonius have been generally regarded as not genuine and as Christian interpolations; in Jewish writings there is no report about Jesus that has historical value. Some scholars have even gone so far as to hold that the entire Jesus story is a myth…”

- The Universal Jewish Encyclopedia (v.6,83)
- “Who Was Jesus? Fingerprints of The Christ” (WWJ) 84

“The gospels are in fact anonymous”

- Dr. Craig L. Blomberg
- WWJ (60)

“The Gospels are neither histories nor biographies, even within the ancient tolerances for those genres.”

- Dr. John Dominic Crossan, The Historical Jesus
- WWJ (24)

* Dr. Crossan, a professed Christian, is a major figure in the fields of biblical archaeology, anthropology and New Testament textual and higher criticism. He is especially vocal in the field of Historical Jesus studies

Jesus famed far and wide:

“These “great crowds” and “multitudes,” along with Jesus’s fame, are repeatedly referred to in the gospels, including at the

Matthew 4:23-25, 5:1, 8:1, 8:18, 9:8, 9:31, 9:33, 9:36, 11:7, 12:15, 13:2, 14:1, 14:13, 14:22, 15:30, 19:2, 21:9, 26:55;

Mark 1:28, 10:1;

Luke: 4:14, 4:37, 5:15, 14:25, etc.”

- Who Was Jesus?, page 85

“Additionally, even though many times in the gospels Jesus was claimed to have been famed far and wide, not one historian of the era was aware of his existence, not even individuals who lived in, traveled around, or wrote about the relevant areas. The brief mentions of Christ, Christians or Christianity we possess from non-Christian sources are late and dubious as to their authenticity and/or value. Nor is there any valid scientific archaeological evidence demonstrating the gospel story to be true or even to support the existence of Jesus Christ. Despite this utter lack of evidence, Christian apologists and authorities make erroneous and misleading claims that there are “considerable reports” and “a surprisingly large amount of detail” regarding the life of Jesus and early Christianity.”

- WWJ page 257

Marcian supposedly used a redacted version of Luke dropping the Virgin Birth chapters and anything Jewish. I would place mark 70 or so CE. There is also the question of multiple variations of Mark whether one assumes an UR- Mark or not ( so Morton Smith’s find or forgery?)  Your mention of Ireneaus I assume is of his earlier mention of Papius at the turn of the first to the first third of the first century.


You simply quote for the most part otherwise of what we both agree. No one is claiming that the gospels were written by those to whom they were attributed.  As to Crossan I am very familiar with and he would not date mark anywhere like your timing.
Have you read any Crossan?  His conclusion is that Jesus was a historical Galilean peasant of the first century and similar to the Cynic wanderer.  His theology falls into the fad called Sophisticated Theology wherein one holds the negative historical conclusions and affirms a mythical import. I also am familiar with Robert Funk and studied under Hendrikus Boers. 


The problem again is as I addressed it which you have not responded. We have very good timing of the Enochic split from Qumran. We also know that theology which is consistent not with the mythological culmination in Paul’s work but with that of the Ebionites in mid first to early second century.  You would have to posit a devolution rather than an evolution of the story to legend to myth. In other words the Mythic proposal simply ignores historical findings and assumes that they relate to a positive claim of Christianity when they do not. 


The development of Christianity is quite explicated by sources and the variations in the earliest Christianities ( so Bart Ehrman, Lost Christianites).We have plenty of evidence of 1st century writings which are the second century copies of late first century works. Luke and John are written around the end or beginning of the second century in their current form. But we see a three stage writing of John that took a generation.  It is the deconstruction of the documents just as with Qumran that we establish dating through language, idiom and ideology.  The myth that you assume is one that manifests somewhat in the docetic branches of Christian Gentile influence., Gnosticism and Paul.  It became proto-orthodoxy. However it destroyed the Jewish Jesus Movement and its documents.  The Gospels Hebrews ( Aramaic 1st Century) and scores of others including Q.

 

 

There are people who spend an inordinate amount of time comparing their accumulated knowledge on Cinderella’s shoes.
They bring together their understanding and ponder such things as size (personally I lean to somewhere between 4.5 to 5) color, (I believe the color was a pale blue), and what material they actually were (I tend to think that they were acrylic instead of glass).....I mean….come on…....glass high heals would simply not hold up.

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Posted: 07 July 2011 06:34 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 112 ]  
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^ Good point. lol

But the thread is about the Christ Myth theory and I do think that there is some what of a misunderstanding. One point here is that by comparing the evemerist position to the believer position I did not mean to say that the evemerist is helping the believer position out in any way, because it doesn’t. What it does is strip the mythology down to a basic human being with a small following who was later mythologized. It’ the belief that the ancient God’s like Horus, or Zeus, were Kings or rulers who were later mythologized. The same general evemerist idea is being applied to Jesus as a human later deified. That hurts the believer position of course, as already stated.

What I meant to compare is that in both cases we’re dealing with a certain burden proof for either the believer or the evemerist. For the believer they need to prove that this mythological supernatural storyline was in fact historical. That has never been proven. And the same applies to the evemerist. They have to prove that this supernatural storyline had a basis in history, which, is unprovable really. You can speculate about when you assume that these writings from the second century were first written before being copied, but then again we’re dealing with assumption and nothing concrete, absolute, or certain. The MP is merely a type of agnostic position when you really get into it. We don’t have enough valid information to know conclusively. No one can prove that the myth was absolutely based on a seed of history nor can anyone prove absolutely that it wasn’t. And so I take it as mythical until proven otherwise. And if science can conclusively prove the historical existence of the Gospel Jesus, well then I’d have to go back to an evemerist position again. I went from the believer, to evemerist, to mythicist over time as I got deeper into this controversy…

[ Edited: 08 July 2011 08:13 AM by tat tvam asi]
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Posted: 07 July 2011 03:03 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 113 ]  
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TGBaker - 06 July 2011 04:17 PM

You seem to have much theory with little historical research.  The dating of various writings of the New Testament have to do with dependency, language and vocabulary style and apparent location of their sources.  Matthew and Luke are dependent upon Mark which and Q which are obviously earlier therefore than Matthew and Luke.

Is the Q hypothesis a majority position? I’m just curious, not being sarcastic or anything. Seems like I recall reading of other views, including Luke using both Mark & Matthew and the “Q” material in Luke possibly being original to Matthew and not necessarily from an earlier text, or at the very least, not necessarily from a pre-markan text even if from a third party source.

TGBaker - 06 July 2011 04:17 PM

We have other writings of the early second century that quote the New Testament Writings.  We can look at Textual criticism and see how the text change as well as see how the stories are changed by differing Christianities. We can date Papias who quotes certain New Testament documents.

Interesting that you mention Papias right after mentioning being able to track how the text changed. Papias typically being dated to around 110-140 CE or so from what I’ve read, and yet his description of Mark, Matthew, and John don’t quite mesh with what we have today, and sound more like proto-texts. He doesn’t even refer to them as gospels, if I recall correctly. Mark is just scribbled down crib notes based from Peter’s memory, not composed in chronological order, and not written with intent to compose an authoritative narrative. Matthew is a Hebrew translation of “oracles”/logia, which sounds more like a collection of sayings rather than the biographical narrative we know it as today. And that’s right in line with other gospels floating around in the 2nd century, such as Thomas. He describes recording John’s “traditions”, which again, sounds similar to what he wrote of Mark & Peter. More like a proto-text rather than the relatively complete story we know as John today. And so this is interesting considering Papias is writing so late, and yet his description of these texts sounds like they are still in their primitive form even at this late date. Plus there’s the unique version of the death of Judas he describes, which is not reconcilable with the New Testament version. Now if you isolate just the Acts version, it sounds possibly somewhat reconcilable with that alone, but it is NOT reconcilable with either Matthew’s version alone, or the harmonized version of Matthew & Acts often offered by xianity as a reconciliation of any apparent discrepency between THOSE two.
And Papias fails to make any mention of either the Acts version or Matthean version. He just states his version as though it’s THE version or something to that effect. So at this point I am reminded of Ehrman saying (paraphrasing)“why didn’t they just refer to the New Testament to see how they were wrong? It is because there was no New Testament”. I have to wonder whether Papias even knew of the Matthean version at all, and if he did, why he omitted it and used an entirely non-scriptural version instead. Did it not yet exist in Matthew yet, since at this point it sounds like it is still just a collection of sayings? Or had it been added, but Papias did not consider it genuine and/or authoritative? Perhaps he suspected it was an interpolation, and that his own version was more reliable? I don’t know, but these are the doubts that spring to mind when I read Papias.
Plus his complete lack of any mention of Luke, while nothing conclusive, only helps the view that Luke was a 2nd century production, and possibly even originated in Marcionite circles. After all, no one refers to Luke prior to Irenaeus. Hell, Marcion himself is mentioned earlier than Luke, Marcion being mentioned by Justin Martyr, while Martyr, as I recall, makes no explicit mention of Luke, not the gospel nor the character. So we have no verification for certain that Luke existed prior to Marcion. That’s not necessarily to say that he wrote it or at least had the original or a closer-to-the-original version, but that does, at least for me, leave open those possibilities. Plus there is also the troubling fact of Tertullian’s slip ups. Five times, at least by my count, he accused Marcion of having removed passages from Luke that, as far as we can tell, were never in Luke, but were only in Matthew. Which makes me wonder if Tertullian can really be considered reliable on this matter, and objective, rather than letting his bias get the better of him and thus causing him to engage in kettle logic, just seizing on anything that popped into his head, so long as it sounded like it would incriminate Marcion, without bothering to go back and fact check it to make sure it’s right. I mean Tertullian shows us elsewhere that he knows the Bible and can quote it with accuracy, so such mistakes are unbecoming of him. I mean, if he accuses Marcion of removing things from Luke that were never even in Luke to begin with, can we trust him to tell us that Marcion removed anything at all?
I mean, for instance, Irenaeus bitches about Marcion allegedly removing the geneologies and birth narrative. We know from what we can reconstruct that Marcion’s gospel does indeed lack this portion, and instead begins with what we know as material from chapter 3 of Luke, completely missing anything from chapters 1 & 2. Well, what a coincidence that our arguably earliest manuscript of Luke, P75, is likewise entirely missing chapters 1 & 2, beginning instead with material from chapter three, and containing material from EVERY other chapter right on down to the end. How conspicuous that 1 & 2 are the ONLY ones that are missing entirely. Just as they are from Marcion’s version. So even if Marcion’s version is not the original, one has to at least wonder if his version wasn’t at least more true to the original than our version we have. It’s starting to sound like a case can be made for chapters 1 & 2 being a later interpolation. P75 post dates Marcion but predates, or is contemporary with, the writings of Irenaeus, who is our earliest external witness to not only chapters 1 & 2, but to Luke in general. Plus, if Luke really is a later text, then we can see how the idea persisted, even unto Irenaeus’s day, that Jesus lived to be an old man in his fifties when he died, since Luke is the only NT text that offers us any indication that Jesus was in his 30s when he died, and even it sounds doubtful of itself, saying “as some supposed”. You have to wonder if Luke was around early, and was recording even earlier information, how the 50 year old Jesus idea could have ever even got off the ground, let alone last until Irenaeus, who claims that this idea came directly from the apostle John.
It’s all just really fishy, leaves a lot doubts in my mind.

TGBaker - 06 July 2011 04:17 PM

We also can project various movements of cultic development. I am afraid that the Mythicist approach to Christianity does more harm to atheism than demonstrating a scientific and historical approach. There are no serious historians that questions the early writings of Paul.

Robert Price has said he believes many of the Pauline epistles, including the “genuine” ones, originated in Marcionite circles. Clement attests to Romans, if I recall, and then genuine Ignatius and Polycarp attest to a few others, but those two were contemporaries with Marcion.
I hope that if Price is not considered among the “serious historians” in your eyes, that good reason can be offered, and not excuses I hear to the effect of ‘he can’t be a serious one for the very fact that he does question the early writings of Paul’, which is being inductive.
But yes, this is the only one I can think of atm, as I know from experience that will follow as well. “Is he the ONLY one?” etc. So I definitely concede that this is minority stuff.

TGBaker - 06 July 2011 04:17 PM

Here’s my reasoning. If we take two early movements the Ebionites and Paul you have on the one hand a presentation that Jesus was Jewish. He was a human being. He was not virgin born. He taught wisdom and lived a pure life.  He got killed but was believed to be appointed as God’s son ( Messiah) and so was raised by God. He would return with the general resurrection of the dead and establish the eternal kingdom since the end of the world is at hand.  Until then you keep the Jewish law.  This is apparently what a group in Jerusalem believed that Paul fought against and claimed was lead by James the brother of Jesus.

On the other hand you have Paul’s pre-existent divine Son of God who died as a propitiation for sin. He has many similar attributes to the other Hellentisic Mystery Cult gods and in fact seems to be a demigod.  He appears as a spirit.  One must remember that the writings of the New Testament are written by different people and more importantly different Christianites.  When looking at other writings that did not make it into the Bible, the Nag Hammadhi Library and the Dead Sea Scrolls there is a competition of beliefs.

Now given plausibility which is likely to have evolved from which?  Is it likely that a myth would have reduced a godlike figure to a Jewish teacher?  Or is it likely that there was a Jewish teacher who had followers still in Jerusalem that came to be known as the Ebionites and continued to be Jewish whose teachings became incorporated as they left the confines of Judaism into more exotic forms.

To be honest, neither sounds more plausible than the other, since we have similar cases for both types there- cases of men most likely or definitely historical who get deified, and on the other end we have what are almost universally considered to be purely mythological characters who get humanized and historicized. As Tat mentioned, this is the Evemerist view. I don’t know of anyone personally who thinks Hercules or Dionysus literally historically existed. Yet, Tacitus, one of our major sources touted around for the historical Jesus, writes of both of these gods as though they were both once humans who literally historically existed. He says Hercules was the king of Lydia and that he even had descendents who were still alive even in Tacitus’s own time. He even put these two gods, along with Quirinus, on the same level of historicity as Augustus Caesar. So there in one pen stroke we have both examples I mentioned, gods getting historicized, and a historical man who we know had been deified.
And even in Christian writings, such as Saint Augustine, he wrote of Isis, Osiris, and Hermes Trismegistus as though they all historically existed. He goes on a lengthy discourse to try and argue that Hebrews were more ancient than Egyptians(which is of course ludicrous) because the Egyptians didn’t have a writing system until Isis invented it in around 1600 BC, give or take, which is also ludicrous. Yet, so far as the evidence(and lack thereof) shows us, none of these characters historically existed. They were mythological gods who over time were reduced to historical humans who were kings, priestesses, or philosophers.
Or for a relatively more modern example, I’ve heard people try to argue that there was a historical King Arthur.

So I honestly don’t see either scenario being more likely than the other in the case of Jesus.

[ Edited: 08 July 2011 02:23 PM by Vishnu]
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Posted: 08 July 2011 08:29 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 114 ]  
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Thanks for contributing to the thread Vishnu. Very good points.

And to whomever else, all of this outlines the uncertainty that we’re actually dealing with when approaching the NT and the search for who, if anyone in particular, the Gospel Jesus could have been. Murdock contends that a composite of 20 different people and / or myths is no one in particular. I think Massey first raised that point. Nothing offered so far takes this mythology and turns into a concrete or absolute historical seed by stripping away the mythological attributes. And this is essentially why I hold ground at the level of the MP for the time being. To claim certainty where non exists in reality is to live deluded to some degree. And it doesn’t really matter whether or not any new evidence changes this problem. If it becomes absolute, so what? Then we’ll know the truth for certain and can adjust according to the established fact. But these appeals to fragments, Ebionite Christianity, Papius, or whatever else has been thrown around over the years is obviously known by the mythicist camp and understood for what it is, uncertainty. What we have is a supernatural storyline with absolutely no historical verification contemporary to the supposed mythical heros life to place the supernatural individual into the physical world of history. And the non-contemporary sources offered do nothing to firm up a concrete conclusion…

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Posted: 10 July 2011 05:48 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 115 ]  
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This thread is fun.  I love it how apologists resort to argumentum ad Hitlerum, attacks on evolution and comparison of the Christ Myth Theory to creationism once they get desperate.

Jesus Christ did not exist.  If he did, then Philo and Josephus would have mentioned him.  They did not.  They did not mention Jesus at all, even though they wrote books in which it would have been absurd to leave Jesus out, had he been real.

Voltaire said if God did not exist it would be necessary to invent him.  The same applies to Jesus.  A savior was needed to mobilize belief in the common era, especially after the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple by Rome in 70 AD showed the futility of military resistance.  The Gospels were written ‘in order that you may believe’, not to provide an accurate record of historical facts.  They are fiction, with maybe a bit of hearsay thrown in.  Brilliant fiction, confected with the objective of plausibility, and possibly of also providing an exoteric story that would draw people into an esoteric Gnostic cosmic faith community.  But like the Sorceror’s Apprentice, the tail wagged the dog and the literal history overpowered and nearly obliterated the true allegorical mystery.

Theologians are prejudiced,  Their whole careers are built on emotional faith in Jesus held since childhood.  They are abusive towards people who apply scientific standards to their fantasies.  It is a scandal. 

Christianity was founded on the destruction of its sources, such as in Egypt.  The early church made massive systematic effort to hide the tracks of invention.  The best scholarship now on Christian origins is from mythicists such as Murdock, Doherty, Harpur, Freke and Gandy.  But the emotional hold of faith remains so intense that Christians ignore standards of scholarship that apply to all real disciplines. Free your mind.

Murdock points out that Christianity is the biggest conspiracy in history.  Saying that some conspiracy theories (eg the moon landing) are ridiculous does not address the evidence about the Christian conspiracy.  The Alexandrian Therapeuts in the Second Century wanted a story that would support their politico-religious agenda, and so conspired to write the Gospels.  The conspiracy proved very convenient, and overpowered the truth.

Astrotheology provides an elegant and parsimonious scientific explanation for the origins of Christianity as a myth grounded in observation of precession of the equinox.  The New Testament brings together material from older religions such as Egypt to cobble together a belief system suitable for a new era.  Suggesting that Christianity is superior to myth is an unethical and obsolete position.  Belief in Jesus flies in the face of the complete absence of evidence for a real Jesus, and the real evidence of opportunity, means and motive of the early theologians to fabricate the whole story.

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Posted: 10 July 2011 05:51 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 116 ]  
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Then after three years, I went up to Jerusalem to get acquainted with Cephas and stayed with him fifteen days. I saw none of the other apostles—only James, the Lord’s brother. I assure you before God that what I am writing you is no lie. (Galatians 1:18-20)


What writings of the New Testament are actually from Paul?  I know of no serious scholars that deny that Paul wrote Galatians.  In fact you will read in any search or book that is of any reputable scholar that Galatians is authentic. Paul claims in these verses to have met James, the brother of the Lord.

The mythicist position is one in which there is a claim that no historical person exists behind the myth of the Christian Christ.  A mythicist must therefore go against all of scholarship and state that Galatians is a forgery.  Or she must make another statement that is even harder to demonstrate. Paul is lying!!!

Now certainly we can show how wrong Paul is about claims such as a resurrection or the idea that there is a god that requires a human sacrifice.  But these are his real beliefs.  They are not intentional deception.  If he is deluded about such things could he be deluded about something like visiting actual flesh and blood people?  Kidding aside these are different categories of knowledge.  We are left with whether Paul is telling the truth or he is lying.

If he is lying we are required to prove that Paul is taking a mythological pattern found in the Mystery Cults and attempting to create a historical Jewish figure.  He would also have to be lying about persecuting previous followers of the Jesus movement.  But if he was making up this account then many could have challenged him.  Much of his work presupposes that the recipients know some of what he claims and what has transpired.

Let us assume that this passage is an interpolation as a few scholars have hypothesised. Then we are still confronted with Paul’s claim in another passage to have spoken to James, the Brother of Jesus, Peter and John who were disciples and knew Jesus:

  Galatians 2…. Then after fourteen years, I went up again to Jerusalem, this time with Barnabas. I took Titus along also. 2 I went in response to a revelation and, meeting privately with those esteemed as leaders, I presented to them the gospel that I preach among the Gentiles. I wanted to be sure I was not running and had not been running my race in vain. 3 Yet not even Titus, who was with me, was compelled to be circumcised, even though he was a Greek. 4 This matter arose because some false believers had infiltrated our ranks to spy on the freedom we have in Christ Jesus and to make us slaves. 5 We did not give in to them for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you.  6 As for those who were held in high esteem—whatever they were makes no difference to me; God does not show favouritism—they added nothing to my message. 7 On the contrary, they recognised that I had been entrusted with the task of preaching the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been to the circumcised.[ 8 For God, who was at work in Peter as an apostle to the circumcised, was also at work in me as an apostle to the Gentiles. 9 James, Cephas[ and John, those esteemed as pillars, gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship when they recognised the grace given to me. They agreed that we should go to the Gentiles, and they to the circumcised. 10 All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I had been eager to do all along.

We can see that he speaks again of a historical encounter with people who supposedly knew Jesus or were in fact related to him.  Finally we have Paul stating that he opposed Peter in Antioch, an event that was apparently known or at least verifiable to the recipients of Paul’s letter:

  11 When Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. 12 For before certain men came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But when they arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group. 13 The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray.
    14 When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in front of them all, “You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs?”

We are left with one more possibility that Paul did meet with James who claimed to be the brother of Jesus but James made it up and the fact that he had a brother.  Peter and John went along with it and perhaps much of Jerusalem.

These arguments of Paul are to a historical situation. The followers of Jesus were Jewish and had no teachings from Jesus that they were to stop following the Jewish Law. Why because Jesus was Jewish. He was a human brother of James. They thought that he was a great teacher ( as refelcted in Q)  and a blameless man that would return soon at the end of the ages as Messiah and in the general resurrection.

How do we know this? Because there are two major movements from the first century that cause many more by the second century.  There is the movement in Jerusalem as pointed to by Paul and headed by the original followers of Jesus.  And there is Paul who opposes their understanding of the very person they followed.

The beliefs that we find Paul complaining about that James, John and Peter hold are the same claims that the Ebionites held until the early second century.  This view was followed by Theodotus and much of the Roman Church authority until suppressed by the mythically oriented movements that viewed Jesus as God.  We find this movement in Paul and the Gospel of John.

In Paul Jesus is not yet God he is the son of God. In the Gospel of John Jesus is viewed as a god or divine in the sense of pre-existence.  These late first century beliefs became even more diverse by the second century when docetism ( Christ is God but not human ) became popular and a competition in Rome against the views as expressed by Theodotus.  Gnosticism also was on the rise where Jesus only appeared to be a human but wa a Spirit. Another form of Gnosticsm saw Jesus as a human in which the God or Spirit of Christ came down into until the crucifixion. At that time Jesus was abandoned. Finally the Trinitarians showed up to try and account for both a human and God in one person. This occurred late second or early third century.

As we can see the easiest and most logical explanation for the information that we have is the typical and traditional critical historical view. There was a historical person that shows up in the source called Q in sayings. He is made Gentile by Mark.  Some of the competing movements have a resolution.  The Gospel of Matthew is written for the Jewish Churches while the Gospel of Luke and Acts are written for the Gentile Churches ( for example James M. Robinson, The Gospel of Jesus ).  Both allow for the acceptance of Gentiles into the Church. But Matthew requires all of the Law to be followed. Jesus states that he has not come to do away with the law but to fulfil it.  Not one iota of it will ever change. For Luke and Paul, Jesus complete s and replaces the law.

The Jerusalem Church produced nothing in writing because they were expecting an immediate return of Jesus. And supposedly James, John and Peter were illiterate peasants.  It is after the fall of Jerusalem that any thing other than the Saying of Jesus as in Q are written about him.  Mark reflects a time right after the fall of the Temple. Matthew and Luke are decades later reflecting apologetics as to why Jesus had not returned though the Temple had fallen.

As the return of Jesus was delayed and delayed he became portrayed as more and more divine with salvation occurring in believing in “Him” rather than his message.  His resurrection was into a Trinitarian dogma instead of a historical event.  A failed Jewish teacher who had some good ideas became a mythological God whose following has caused 2000 years of superstition and bloodshed in the name of the Prince of Peace and Christian love.

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Posted: 10 July 2011 06:03 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 117 ]  
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Robert Tulip - 10 July 2011 09:48 AM

This thread is fun.  I love it how apologists resort to argumentum ad Hitlerum, attacks on evolution and comparison of the Christ Myth Theory to creationism once they get desperate.

Jesus Christ did not exist.  If he did, then Philo and Josephus would have mentioned him.  They did not.  They did not mention Jesus at all, even though they wrote books in which it would have been absurd to leave Jesus out, had he been real.

Voltaire said if God did not exist it would be necessary to invent him.  The same applies to Jesus.  A savior was needed to mobilize belief in the common era, especially after the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple by Rome in 70 AD showed the futility of military resistance.  The Gospels were written ‘in order that you may believe’, not to provide an accurate record of historical facts.  They are fiction, with maybe a bit of hearsay thrown in.  Brilliant fiction, confected with the objective of plausibility, and possibly of also providing an exoteric story that would draw people into an esoteric Gnostic cosmic faith community.  But like the Sorceror’s Apprentice, the tail wagged the dog and the literal history overpowered and nearly obliterated the true allegorical mystery.

Theologians are prejudiced,  Their whole careers are built on emotional faith in Jesus held since childhood.  They are abusive towards people who apply scientific standards to their fantasies.  It is a scandal. 

Christianity was founded on the destruction of its sources, such as in Egypt.  The early church made massive systematic effort to hide the tracks of invention.  The best scholarship now on Christian origins is from mythicists such as Murdock, Doherty, Harpur, Freke and Gandy.  But the emotional hold of faith remains so intense that Christians ignore standards of scholarship that apply to all real disciplines. Free your mind.

Murdock points out that Christianity is the biggest conspiracy in history.  Saying that some conspiracy theories (eg the moon landing) are ridiculous does not address the evidence about the Christian conspiracy.  The Alexandrian Therapeuts in the Second Century wanted a story that would support their politico-religious agenda, and so conspired to write the Gospels.  The conspiracy proved very convenient, and overpowered the truth.

Astrotheology provides an elegant and parsimonious scientific explanation for the origins of Christianity as a myth grounded in observation of precession of the equinox.  The New Testament brings together material from older religions such as Egypt to cobble together a belief system suitable for a new era.  Suggesting that Christianity is superior to myth is an unethical and obsolete position.  Belief in Jesus flies in the face of the complete absence of evidence for a real Jesus, and the real evidence of opportunity, means and motive of the early theologians to fabricate the whole story.

I am hardly an apologist. I am an atheist simply from 35 years of academic and personal research of historical focus on the historical Jesus, the Second Temple Judaism, Enochic Judaism, the Dead Sea Scrolls and the period. There is every bit and more evidence for a historical Jesus than Socrates.  It is amazing that the mythicist can not explain the move from a personified mythology to a mythologised person.  But the years and years of most major historians can explain the movement from a human being that had popularity to the creation of a divine myth. 

Your position lacks any historical credibility and does as much service to deconstructing Christianity as the Da Vinci Code.

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Posted: 10 July 2011 06:08 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 118 ]  
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toombaru - 07 July 2011 01:48 AM
TGBaker - 06 July 2011 07:21 PM
tat tvam asi - 06 July 2011 06:23 PM

Thanks for the response. By “we” I assume I’m speaking with a NT scholar. I’ll go ahead and contrast that with what the MP is focusing in on:

Prior to the end of the second century, there is no clear evidence of the existence of the canonical gospels as we have them.

The Canon: A Second-Century Composition

“...With such remarkable declarations of the Church fathers, et al., as well as other cogent arguments, we possess some salient evidence that the gospels of Luke and John represent late second-century works. In fact, all of the canonical gospels seem to emerge at the same time—first receiving their names and number by Irenaeus around 180 AD/CE, and possibly based on one or more of the same texts as Luke, especially an “Ur-Markus” that may have been related to Marcion’s Gospel of the Lord. In addition to an “Ur-Markus” upon which the canonical gospels may have been based has also been posited an “Ur-Lukas,” which may likewise have “Ur-Markus” at its basis.

“The following may summarize the order of the gospels as they appear in the historical and literary record, beginning in the middle of the second century:

1. Ur-Markus (150)
2. Ur-Lukas (150+)
3. Luke (170)
4. Mark (175)
5. John (178)
6. Matthew (180)

“To reiterate, these late dates represent the time when these specific texts undoubtedly emerge onto the scene. If the canonical gospels as we have them existed anywhere previously, they were unknown, which makes it likely thatt they were not composed until that time or shortly before, based on earlier texts….”

- Who Was Jesus?, pages 82-83

“The only definite account of his life and teachings is contained in the four Gospels of the New Testament, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. All other historical records of the time are silent about him. The brief mentions of Jesus in the writings of Josephus, Tacitus and Suetonius have been generally regarded as not genuine and as Christian interpolations; in Jewish writings there is no report about Jesus that has historical value. Some scholars have even gone so far as to hold that the entire Jesus story is a myth…”

- The Universal Jewish Encyclopedia (v.6,83)
- “Who Was Jesus? Fingerprints of The Christ” (WWJ) 84

“The gospels are in fact anonymous”

- Dr. Craig L. Blomberg
- WWJ (60)

“The Gospels are neither histories nor biographies, even within the ancient tolerances for those genres.”

- Dr. John Dominic Crossan, The Historical Jesus
- WWJ (24)

* Dr. Crossan, a professed Christian, is a major figure in the fields of biblical archaeology, anthropology and New Testament textual and higher criticism. He is especially vocal in the field of Historical Jesus studies

Jesus famed far and wide:

“These “great crowds” and “multitudes,” along with Jesus’s fame, are repeatedly referred to in the gospels, including at the

Matthew 4:23-25, 5:1, 8:1, 8:18, 9:8, 9:31, 9:33, 9:36, 11:7, 12:15, 13:2, 14:1, 14:13, 14:22, 15:30, 19:2, 21:9, 26:55;

Mark 1:28, 10:1;

Luke: 4:14, 4:37, 5:15, 14:25, etc.”

- Who Was Jesus?, page 85

“Additionally, even though many times in the gospels Jesus was claimed to have been famed far and wide, not one historian of the era was aware of his existence, not even individuals who lived in, traveled around, or wrote about the relevant areas. The brief mentions of Christ, Christians or Christianity we possess from non-Christian sources are late and dubious as to their authenticity and/or value. Nor is there any valid scientific archaeological evidence demonstrating the gospel story to be true or even to support the existence of Jesus Christ. Despite this utter lack of evidence, Christian apologists and authorities make erroneous and misleading claims that there are “considerable reports” and “a surprisingly large amount of detail” regarding the life of Jesus and early Christianity.”

- WWJ page 257

Marcian supposedly used a redacted version of Luke dropping the Virgin Birth chapters and anything Jewish. I would place mark 70 or so CE. There is also the question of multiple variations of Mark whether one assumes an UR- Mark or not ( so Morton Smith’s find or forgery?)  Your mention of Ireneaus I assume is of his earlier mention of Papius at the turn of the first to the first third of the first century.


You simply quote for the most part otherwise of what we both agree. No one is claiming that the gospels were written by those to whom they were attributed.  As to Crossan I am very familiar with and he would not date mark anywhere like your timing.
Have you read any Crossan?  His conclusion is that Jesus was a historical Galilean peasant of the first century and similar to the Cynic wanderer.  His theology falls into the fad called Sophisticated Theology wherein one holds the negative historical conclusions and affirms a mythical import. I also am familiar with Robert Funk and studied under Hendrikus Boers. 


The problem again is as I addressed it which you have not responded. We have very good timing of the Enochic split from Qumran. We also know that theology which is consistent not with the mythological culmination in Paul’s work but with that of the Ebionites in mid first to early second century.  You would have to posit a devolution rather than an evolution of the story to legend to myth. In other words the Mythic proposal simply ignores historical findings and assumes that they relate to a positive claim of Christianity when they do not. 


The development of Christianity is quite explicated by sources and the variations in the earliest Christianities ( so Bart Ehrman, Lost Christianites).We have plenty of evidence of 1st century writings which are the second century copies of late first century works. Luke and John are written around the end or beginning of the second century in their current form. But we see a three stage writing of John that took a generation.  It is the deconstruction of the documents just as with Qumran that we establish dating through language, idiom and ideology.  The myth that you assume is one that manifests somewhat in the docetic branches of Christian Gentile influence., Gnosticism and Paul.  It became proto-orthodoxy. However it destroyed the Jewish Jesus Movement and its documents.  The Gospels Hebrews ( Aramaic 1st Century) and scores of others including Q.

 

 

There are people who spend an inordinate amount of time comparing their accumulated knowledge on Cinderella’s shoes.
They bring together their understanding and ponder such things as size (personally I lean to somewhere between 4.5 to 5) color, (I believe the color was a pale blue), and what material they actually were (I tend to think that they were acrylic instead of glass).....I mean….come on…....glass high heals would simply not hold up.

I think it has to do with research on folk like Socrates and Buddha and to whether there is a historical causality or simply an evolution of myth.  YOur lack of understanding of history, Greek language or methodology shows a dogmatism as blatant as a fundamentalist.

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Posted: 10 July 2011 06:49 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 119 ]  
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TGBaker - 10 July 2011 10:03 AM

I am hardly an apologist. I am an atheist simply from 35 years of academic and personal research of historical focus on the historical Jesus, the Second Temple Judaism, Enochic Judaism, the Dead Sea Scrolls and the period. There is every bit and more evidence for a historical Jesus than Socrates.  It is amazing that the mythicist can not explain the move from a personified mythology to a mythologised person.  But the years and years of most major historians can explain the movement from a human being that had popularity to the creation of a divine myth. 

Your position lacks any historical credibility and does as much service to deconstructing Christianity as the Da Vinci Code.

Hi TG.  Remind me, which of the apologist arguments that I mentioned did you support?  Was it the one about Hitler, or the one attacking evolution, or the comparison of mythicism to creationism?  In what way are those attacks not baseless apologetics?

Socrates is attested by his role in the play of Aristophanes, as well as by his direct students Plato and Xenophon.  That is much more than can be said for Jesus, who was just made up several generations after his supposed life.

Didn’t the Egyptians move from a mythical Osiris to historical claims, and the Greeks with Hercules?  And hasn’t that furphy been addressed already in this thread?

Oh, and thanks for the warm welcome.  I like the Da Vinci Code, but it is pure fantasy, as reliable as the Gospels.  The Christ Myth Theory is science.  That is why apologists resort so readily to vitriol, because Christianity is utterly unscientific.

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Posted: 10 July 2011 10:11 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 120 ]  
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TGBaker - 10 July 2011 09:51 AM

I know of no serious scholars that deny that Paul wrote Galatians.

Me neither, but I know of at least one that seriously doubts its authenticity, and that is of course, as I mentioned earlier, Robert Price. He has written several times that Galatians is another one he wonders about whether or not it originated in Marcionite circles. I’ll have to go back and read what all his reasons are, but I remember one that stood out in my mind was Tertullian’s curious statement that Marcion was the one who “discovered” Galatians. What exactly that means is up for grabs atm, but it is right in line with the fact that no one prior to Marcion ever cites or mentions Galatians. Galatians doesn’t seem to be made good use of until Irenaeus. As I said, the only explicit Pauline citation from Clement of Rome was from Romans. And if I recall correctly, the Pauline citations in the genuine Ignatian letters and Polycarp likewise do not come from Galatians, but again, even if they had cited Galatians, these two guys were contemporaries with Marcion. Although, even if Marcion did “discover” Galatians, it could be that he discovered a genuine work. But still, why did this “genuine” Pauline work apparently go unnoticed until Marcion came along?

TGBaker - 10 July 2011 09:51 AM

Paul claims in these verses to have met James, the brother of the Lord.

The mythicist position is one in which there is a claim that no historical person exists behind the myth of the Christian Christ.  A mythicist must therefore go against all of scholarship and state that Galatians is a forgery.  Or she must make another statement that is even harder to demonstrate.

 

“She”? Well, I can only deduce you are referring to Murdock. She makes for an easy ‘tomato can’, I suppose.

 

TGBaker - 10 July 2011 09:51 AM

Paul is lying!!!

Now certainly we can show how wrong Paul is about claims such as a resurrection or the idea that there is a god that requires a human sacrifice.  But these are his real beliefs.  They are not intentional deception.  If he is deluded about such things could he be deluded about something like visiting actual flesh and blood people?  Kidding aside these are different categories of knowledge.  We are left with whether Paul is telling the truth or he is lying.

No. It could also be that James was the liar(and/or simply as deluded as Paul). After all, you admit to being a fellow atheist. And you admit to believing there was a real Jesus. Do you believe that this Jesus’s claims to being Jehovah’s son is a good reason to believe Jehovah was real, or at least based on a historical person? I for one do not. Yet you would have us believe that James’ claims to being Christ’s brother is a good reason to believe that Christ was real or at least based on a historical person.
Whether it’s a claim to be the son of a god or the brother of a demi-god, both seem to me to be equally believable, or rather, equally unbelievable.
Alexander the Great claimed to be the son of Jupiter Ammon, and thus, also the brother of Dionysus and Hercules(both of whom are even mentioned to him by Olympias as recorded in the Alexander Romance). Would Alexander’s claims to being their brother make them any more historical? If we doubt that Hercules or Dionysus existed, does this mean we think that the author of this work was “lying” or making all that up? Of course not. The author may have genuinely believed that. Alexander may have even genuinely believed that. Olympias, assuming she even said such a thing, might have even genuinely believed what she said, perhaps she had a very convincing hallucination of some sort, or a dream or something, but the strength of her conviction wouldn’t make Hercules or Dionysus any more historical nor add to the evidence in favor that they were. And even on that point, of hallucinations, this is where Paul admitted to getting his info on Jesus. He said no man showed it to him, it came to him by revelation. So, much like Olympias or Paul, perhaps this is also where James got his idea that he was the brother of some demi-god messiah. Even if not James himself, his mother, much like Olympias did to Alexander, could have just as easily told him he was. Of course, at this point, I am straying way off into speculation, but that’s what often happens in an area where the claims are great, but the evidence is little.
And the reason Jesus gets lumped in here with characters like Hercules or Dionysus or Jupiter Ammon, instead of guys like Julius Caesar or whoever, is because the claims surrounding him are more like those also alleged of Hercules and other such gods & demi-gods, that being, of a fabulous supernatural nature. Of course, Julius Caesar was later deified too, and had a couple of outlandish claims attached to his profile as well. But when we strip away all the supernatural claims and the details that are clearly ripped off and retold from previous mythologies, both pagan and jewish, we are left with a body of evidence far inferior to that which would still be left for Julius. Even if there were a historical Jesus, which there could possibly have been, we essentially know nothing about him. When we cut away the dross, we end up knowing about as much about the historical Jesus as we do a historical Hercules.

[ Edited: 10 July 2011 03:52 PM by Vishnu]
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