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Response From an Apologist
Posted: 27 November 2006 03:22 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 31 ]  
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[quote author=“hampsteadpete”]I really hate wasting time on these trivial points that have been settled for years, but here’s a place for you to start:

 

Yes, it’s an atheist web site, but that doesn’t diminish the truth of the message. . . .

Truth is an abhorance to the religionist.

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Posted: 28 November 2006 02:23 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 32 ]  
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[quote author=“hampsteadpete”]

I suppose you could explain to me why anyone in antiquity would find the need to write about a village of about 35 families that was not located on any major trade routes, and lived in the shadow of one of the largest and most prominent settlements in the country. You have an arguement from silence. That is it. You find me one archealogist that disputes that Nazereth existed and I will find 2 that believe it did.

I really hate wasting time on these trivial points that have been settled for years, but here’s a place for you to start:

 

Very interesting read.  I had no idea.  Here is one of the climaxes in that link you provided that stands out as poignant to me:

Although for speakers of Hebrew and its close cousin Aramaic the meaning and prophetic significance of the title The Savior, The Branch would have been clear, after it had been wrestled into greek as Iosous Nazoraios or Iesous Nazarenos, its titular significance must soon have been forgotten. The Iosous part came to be a simple name (Iesus in Latin) of the Tom, Dick, or Harry sort. The Nazoraios part, however, was misperceived as being derived from the name of a place—the imaginary village of Nazareth—much as the word Parisian can be derived from Paris. 

And so, Yeshua Netser came to be Jesus of Nazareth—a name thought to contain information about a person’s place of origin. 

As we have already seen, at the turn of the era, there was no place called Nazareth, and we do not know when the place now called by that name became so identified.

I keep getting hung up, though, and Rami has beaten me over the head with a 2x4 a few times for this..  If the man, Jesus, never existed, what the hell?  Why the huge followings of people beginning from the 1st century ce?  Why the splinter groups?  Marcionites, Ebionites, Gnostic splinter groups all over the place, Christians who worshipped 2 gods, others who worshipped 12 and still others who worshipped 365 and then the Christian group who practiced sex orgies, then enter the “heretics” that Origen et al tried to quash, every man with a seemingly different opinion of this Jesus character.  If he was bunk, invented, just let the character die and move on.  But looking at written history, that did not happen.

??

Noggin

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Posted: 28 November 2006 02:35 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 33 ]  
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If he was bunk, invented, just let the character die and move on. But looking at written history, that did not happen.

Suggest you keep the open mind I believe you have.  About a year ago I began a detailed search for information on the first century, just to see what the conditions were, what was really known about the middle east of the time, and if there was a chance that “some” Jesus did exist.  I went into the thing with the opinion that Christ was manufactured out of whole cloth.  I no longer believe that to be true. 

No, I don’t think that a “son of god” walked the hills of Galilee, but I think someone did.  I am working on something that kind of lays out my thoughts in a longer form, and will make it available soon.

The key for me was found partially in the writings of Josephus, partially in Philo, and partially in the “Q” document that can be derived from a study of Matt. and Luke.

More later.

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Posted: 28 November 2006 04:24 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 34 ]  
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Pete

I am in the middle of Bart Ehrman’s “Lost Christianities”, a really great read that, IMO, is giving me a flavor of what it was like to live in the 1st and 2nd century.  Note, I said flavor.

I finished Ehrman’s “Misquoting Jesus” which was an eye opener for sure and have now got an eye out for the christian apologetics that paint Ehrman as playing fast and loose with history and “fact”. 

Right now, I am pretty much of the opinion that a man named Jesus or Yeshua existed, but that he was not a divine being.  I think that this person was charismatic, taught departure from core doctrine, and was executed for it… I mean, that makes a good rabble rousing story enough to get his friends/followers involved in a “noble cause”.  It’s enough to start a movement, Pete.  Have you read Eric Hoffer’s “The True Believer”??  That is a doozy eye opener book, short but sweet. 

I recall, I think, that several people of the Jesus time period plus or minus a century were also claiming to be the son of god.  It is very hazy for me still, but what is formulating in my head is that the figure we now call Jesus Christ, was the one that the people forced to take root after “The Cause” for the movement was established.  Then Constantine helped that along as well, of course.  Prior to Constantine, there were so many variant opinion as to who the jesus figure was or was not, so many did not even believe the jesus figure to be god!  Constantine forced jesus into that role.

What do you think?

Noggin

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Posted: 28 November 2006 05:23 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 35 ]  
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What do you think?

I am slowly coming to much the same point, although by a slightly different route.  I have read the books you mentioned, and in addition to those I would recommend “Who wrote the New Testament” by Mack.

I also recommend either of the two books on the subject by Acharya S, as she is so meticulous in her sourcing, she generates a lot of good leads.  Another helpful volume, believe it or not, is “Asimov’s Guide to the Bible.”  I use it a lot to point me in the proper direction.

If you continue upon this path, you will eventually have to spring for a good translation of Josephus and Philo.  I’m from the old school, and am happiest when I have four or five books open in front of me, rather than four or five tabs on Firefox. 

The Christian myth is really an easy target, taken as a whole, and many authors have advanced theories of what sprang from what, and who shot Sam, etc.  What it boils down to, for me, is that it doesn’t matter from a religious standpoint, ‘cause its all demonstrably man-made, I want to know just to know.  I don’t think there is any way to ever be sure, though, one way or the other barring a new discovery or something like that.

I keep coming back to two things:

1.  absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

2.  “Q” was circulating perhaps as early as 45-50, and so far as we know, nobody from the Jewish side protested or put anything in writing denying that some “person” existed.

For me it boils down to a question of what is the most likely scenario, and a close reading of Josephus and Philo makes it easy to see that there could very well have been a “holy man” who had a following and was executed for some offense by the Romans.  Whoever he might have been, he didn’t make to much of a splash during his lifetime, or he would have shown up in the writings.

Pete

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Posted: 01 December 2006 07:29 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 36 ]  
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Pete:

I have a question for you on this point. I agree that there may have been a physical person (maybe named Jesus, maybe not) who preached and was executed in Rome. The following of Christianity may have sprung up around his death. There is evidence for and against him having lived, fine.

The part that troubles me in believing that Jesus was a real person is the numerous ways in which he shared traits with previous gods/deities from different cultures.

What help was it to the followers of Jesus to portray him in similar fashion to other gods, who never had any physical existance?

Adam

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Posted: 01 December 2006 08:39 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 37 ]  
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Afternoon, guys,
I agree with the agnostic attitudes toward a charismatic Jew.
At some point I think we need to give credit to the message as well. He wasn’t talking about some distant power or playful Greek god. The meme of a very personal father figure god who loves you is almost too much to resist….believe in him and he’ll forgive you for just about anything and bring you to an everlasting eternity. Now turn that down you ignorant farmer, you! This had to be more satisfying than a god who just needed animal sacrifices to make the rains come or make the sun come up. Heck, the distillation of that message is why we STILL have people who believe it. They want to. Jim Jones got 900 people to commit suicide for it. It is more powerful than some ancestor’s grave to talk to or seeking some perfect consciousness. It is however testament to our abilities to fool ourselves when we want to “feel good”.

Rod

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Posted: 01 December 2006 08:59 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 38 ]  
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The part that troubles me in believing that Jesus was a real person is the numerous ways in which he shared traits with previous gods/deities from different cultures.

I was stuck on this point for a long time, in fact until just recently.  I think to get past this, one must separate what was most probable from the mythology that was developed in Paul’s letters and from Mark forward.

I don’t think, based upon reading “Q” and other sources, that any contemporary of Jesus or whomever believed him to be in any way divine, the son of god, or anything other than a prophet. At least there seems to be no evidence that supports that position.

I also agree with many others that if someone ran around Galilee doing the things Jesus supposedly did, they would not, could not have escaped the notice of Josephus and others.  His “mighty deeds” would have been recorded.

That’s where my head is currently, I am admittedly still reading.  The bottom line is, everyone has to make their own decision based upon available evidence, and each individuals interpretation of it.  There is damn little empirical evidence to go on, and that’s the problem.

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Posted: 01 December 2006 10:35 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 39 ]  
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[quote author=“hampsteadpete”]The bottom line is, everyone has to make their own decision based upon available evidence, and each individuals interpretation of it.  There is damn little empirical evidence to go on, and that’s the problem.

The greater problem is that, whether he “existed” or not, 99.99 percent of people who believe he “existed” also believe he was a manifestation of the “divine”. This is far more important than whether or not he merely “existed”. Even making a case that he did not “exist” will not be much help in convincing people who believe he was “divinity” that he was not also “divine”.

Except as an academic history exercise, it seems unimportant. The thing has run totally out of control in so many other ways. I do not think historical evidence has any bearing on the case.

Dawkins has a nice account in “The God Delusion” where he discusses “cargo cults” and notes just how quickly the historical presence of purported figures in such a movement becomes utterly irrelevant.

Obsession with the historical veracity of “the life of Jesus” is arguably to cling to a shred of hope that there is a reason for faith. A movement gathering around a wise (at least, worldly so) and charismatic man has already happened several times in your lifetime. Sometimes with the result of world wide horror. Charisma is a sucker punch for most people.

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Posted: 01 December 2006 11:02 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 40 ]  
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Except as an academic history exercise, it seems unimportant. The thing has run totally out of control in so many other ways. I do not think historical evidence has any bearing on the case.

You won’t get any argument from me on this, I agree with you.  Whether the myth is based upon a real person or not is immaterial, it is what we are dealing with now, as you say, that is important.  Even if it could be categorically proven, beyond a shadow of a doubt the Jesus of he gospels did not exist, it would not make an iota of difference to the faith of the current believers.

Why am I wasting time? ‘cause I want to, no other reason.  Yes, it is an exercise, but to me, it is an interesting one.  I’m not a scientist or an engineer, I can’t argue evolution too well, nor can I compete with some of the truly wonderful debaters we have here.  I can, however, mine the available sources for whatever may be there, ‘cause it ain’t brain surgery.

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Posted: 01 December 2006 02:28 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 41 ]  
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Mr. Holding,

I regret you having spent (and will continue to spend) countless hours attempting to refute - item by item, apparently, Mr. Harris’ “Letter to a Christian Nation.”  The more you write, the sadder you appear.

Simply put, had you been born in Israel, you’d be Jewish (and likely writing to Mr. Harris to defend your positions on Judaism).  Had you been born in Saudi Arabia, you’d be a Muslim.  Had you been born in India, you’d like be a Hindu.  You are a product, not of your scholarship, but of your birth.

B. Scottow

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Posted: 02 December 2006 03:51 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 42 ]  
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God can neither be proven, nor dis-proven, and I am, therefore an agnostic. That being said, even if there is a creator, I am convinced he is not the god of the bible. People like Holding use a ruse that god must exist because of x,y or z, and, therefore, the bible is the word of god. As if the two go hand in hand, and bible bangers like him get away with this fallacy. When challenged as to where the evidence or proof is that god inspired the bible, they will say it’s right there…in the bible itself! OKEEYYYYY!!!@! I was raised catholic, an altar boy, went to catholic school, so people like Holding the bible scholar are familiar to me. they use every contortion imaginable to defend their BELIEFS. One merely has to ask himself why christians are so incensed with challenges and non-believers, the same way muslims become incensed over cartoons. It’s not because religion is sacred, because one could assert the same thing about any belief. It’s because they have doubts, and know their beliefs will stand up to scrutiny. As an agnostic, I am upset because religion is at the root of many evils, and in the 21st century, we still have to contend with religious zealots bent on converting the rest, by killing them all, if necessary. I was asked in a christian chat room if I wanted to go to hell. (this is their main recruiting tool). My response was that I most assuredly wanted to be there for an eternity with the non believers than spend even one day in heaven with the sanctimonious christians. I think god would like me for this belief.!!!

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Posted: 02 December 2006 03:57 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 43 ]  
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I read the post, which should have said “Their beliefs will NOT stand up to scrutiny.” I left out the NOT. I can just hear the defenders rounding up now saying it was a Fruedian slip and/or writing a treatise as long as Holdings to support their idiotic beliefs. Is agnosticism or athiesm better for the world than religion? I say yes. At least we won’t be blown up by muslims trying to have their way with 72 virgins, or have christians blow up the rest of us to bring about “rapture”.

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Posted: 02 December 2006 07:36 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 44 ]  
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I agree with you paradoxical, that is why I consider myself an anti-theist

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Posted: 02 December 2006 08:53 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 45 ]  
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[quote author=“paradoxical”]I read the post, which should have said “Their beliefs will NOT stand up to scrutiny.” I left out the NOT. I can just hear the defenders rounding up now saying it was a Fruedian slip and/or writing a treatise as long as Holdings to support their idiotic beliefs. Is agnosticism or athiesm better for the world than religion? I say yes. At least we won’t be blown up by muslims trying to have their way with 72 virgins, or have christians blow up the rest of us to bring about “rapture”.

I caught that but corrected it immediately as your drift was clear.

You are allowed to edit your own posts btw. Look up by the quote button on any post you have created you will see an edit button.

The sw is kinda amazing for example if I type shit, it comes out shit no matter how I spell it. LOL

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