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Robbie Parry
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Posted: 09 September 2017 at 8:55am | IP Logged | 1 post reply

This is an interesting, if brief, article:


I have read a lot about both Christianity and the 'historical Jesus'. I don't mean to sound cocky, but I feel I know more about Christianity than *some* Christians (one I chatted to years ago, at work, knew the basics such as Noah's Ark, but not as much as I seemed to know). I promise I don't mean to presume that I have superior knowledge.

For instance, I read about Marcionites once (early Christians who believed the OT and NT 'gods' were different beings). I have also read many details about myths that predate the Bible. I did come away thinking that there was little, if anything, original in Christianity. From flood myths and virgin births to resurrections, there were pre-Christian myths that had such figures.

I'm no expert on the historical Jesus. But I'm inclined to believe he's a mishmash, if that is the word, of other figures. Perhaps akin to Robin Hood and William Tell. Was there a single figure called Robin Hood? Or William Tell? Perhaps not. Maybe the same could be said for Jesus. 

The most bizarre analogy someone online ever gave me was that we know Jesus existed because the Bible said so. He stated that Benjamin Franklin didn't try and prove his own existence when he wrote an autobiography - so we could say the same about Jesus/the Bible. That's a bizarre leap, given there are MANY facts outside Franklin's autobiography that show us he was a real person.

I'm open to many things, but I'm not sure Jesus, the lone figure, existed. The name existed. And there may well have been spiritual teachers back then, but one person who rose from the dead? I doubt it.


Edited by Robbie Parry on 09 September 2017 at 8:56am
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John Byrne
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Posted: 09 September 2017 at 9:11am | IP Logged | 2 post reply

I'd say no. There are no contemporary references (even the Bible wasn't written until half a century after the "facts"), and the first non-Biblical references (two letters from the last decade of the First Century CE) refer to the new cult of Christianity as worshipping Jesus, but are not specific references to Jesus himself.

There is also the problem that the supposed life of Jesus is peppered with "historical events" that did not happen, such as the census at the time of his birth, and the "traditional" freeing of a prisoner at the time of his death.

Even if we strip away all the supernatural elements, we are still left with a story with very few, if any, reliable threads.

My best guess is that Jesus was like Robin Hood. His story is a confabulation of the "good parts" of the lives of several different men, over a long period of time.

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Robbie Parry
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Posted: 09 September 2017 at 9:17am | IP Logged | 3 post reply

True.

It does become tedious when some Christians forever answer with, "The Bible says so..." as 'evidence' of Jesus.

There's a BBC religious debate show called THE BIG QUESTIONS. A few years ago, a Christian was invited on. Presenter Nicky Campbell asked the guy if he believed Adam and Eve existed - and whether their exploits were true. The man replied, "Jesus believed it happened, so do I."

Imagine that logic elsewhere. 


Edited by Robbie Parry on 09 September 2017 at 9:18am
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John Byrne
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Posted: 09 September 2017 at 9:40am | IP Logged | 4 post reply

A year or so ago I resisted the urge to buy a window sticker for my car. It read "RELIGION -- Because Thinking is So Hard". I decided I didn't want my window smashed, and so settled for "THINK -- It's Not Illegal Yet".

The great crime of religions is that they relieve their adherents of the need to think. "Jesus said it, I believe it, that finishes it." Yet the great majority of people who would be inclined to say that do not realize Jesus neither wrote nor spoke any part of the Bible. The book was written -- and distilled -- decades later by men with their own agendas.

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Eric Sofer
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Posted: 09 September 2017 at 9:57am | IP Logged | 5 post reply

From a Jewish perspective, I am minded to believe that there certainly could have been a prophet named Jesus. I don't believe he was the son of God. (I'd have put "that goes without saying", but apparently, Jews for Jesus is still going strong out there.)

I'm not a scholar on what Jesus did to prove he was the son of God, but I know that events can be rigged by the team promoting their agenda. I know that a lot of men were very wise and very good without being divine. And as to one "miracle" - it's the punchline of a joke. "You just gotta know where the shallow spots are."

At this late date, I don't think there is any way to scientifically or historically establish occurrences of miracles, let alone who performed them. Written records are easy to forge; so I would want a multiplicity of sources verifying events. And in the case of Christianity, a movement that was so big and so puissant, a lot of Big Brotherism could occur.

I mean, for all we know, the man known as Jesus might just have been a figurehead, a puppet leader of a group trying to enforce their revolution against Rome by way of inexplicable events - "It's a miracle! Jesus did it! Come and worship the TRUE son of the lord!"

Even to the point of the resurrection... this guy might have been incredibly lucky in that he died from being crucified (well, okay, THAT'S not so lucky...) and then being treated by a cleric who was able to keep him stable, and eventually restore him to consciousness and coherence after a couple of close days. I imagine that's a somewhat expected occurrence in a lot of hospitals these days.

My cynicism and skepticism forces me to say that no, there was no specific Jesus of Nazareth who performed real miracles and came back from the dead.
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Robbie Parry
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Posted: 09 September 2017 at 10:17am | IP Logged | 6 post reply

 "Jesus said it, I believe it, that finishes it." 

***

This is what that Christian said on THE BIG QUESTIONS. There was no desire from him to explore the evolutionary proof (none that any exists, I'm sure) of Adam/Eve. Or to ask who Cain's wife was? No, it was, "Jesus said it, I follow his teachings - so it's true."

It's all bizarre, anyway. On another edition of THE BIG QUESTIONS, someone was claiming Jesus is from Venus, based on some biblical passage. It really does sound like people interpret things to suit their own agenda.
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Paul Kimball
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Posted: 09 September 2017 at 10:22am | IP Logged | 7 post reply

I have told my friends who are believers that I'm open to believing but I need
some sort of evidence or reason. The most I've ever gotten is "look around
you, how else could the world have been created." My response has been that
even if I accepted that as proof, tell me why I would believe in Jesus over RA or
Zeus. We're still friends but I've never gotten a response other than a playful
"shut up!"
I suspect Jesus is a conglomeration of some real life good people along with
some fictions that got added, but who knows.
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Brian Miller
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Posted: 09 September 2017 at 10:36am | IP Logged | 8 post reply

The church at which my family attends had a sermon a couple months back on whether or not the Bible was true. The very first point of evidence the pastor provided was it's true because it says it's true. 

Really. 
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Robert Shepherd
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Posted: 09 September 2017 at 10:56am | IP Logged | 9 post reply

I don't study Christianity but the more I learn, the more it seems clear that Christianity is "just" a religion, like any other. Meaning it's a man-made set of beliefs and not some divine guidance. I firmly believe all religions were created to manipulate the masses. To my mind, it's mass brainwashing. History has proven time and again how easily the masses can be brainwashed.

"The Bible is proof" as a response has always set me off. How could people believe that? People CHOOSE what they want to believe.

I'm not saying religion is bad. Most religions mean well. most religions offer lessons of wisdom. Strength of community. Stuff like that. Ah....but for a tithing, eh?

I'm not against people believing. I have friends who are stronger because of their faith. I've tried to tell them they should give themselves credit for their strength and maybe it is not so divine after all. Or, maybe man is divine. Their typical response is "I'm not that strong". ok.

For me, I would gladly believe in the divine if there was real proof. Still waiting on that one.



Edited by Robert Shepherd on 09 September 2017 at 10:58am
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John Byrne
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Posted: 09 September 2017 at 11:13am | IP Logged | 10 post reply

One of the things that make me really sad in life is those occasions when I have been confronted by believers asking if I, as an atheist, am "calling Jesus Christ a liar." Normally I resist the urge to say "Yes," since Jesus, as portrayed in the Bible, was a false prophet. I settle instead for pointing out yet again that Jesus did not write the Bible, and none of the men who did ever met him.
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Petter Myhr Ness
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Posted: 09 September 2017 at 11:14am | IP Logged | 11 post reply

There might very well be a historical Jesus who served as some kind of prophet during that period, and whose quotes can be found in the gospels - official as well as unofficial. But the Jesus described in the Bible is surely as fictitious as Moses. 
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Robbie Parry
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Posted: 09 September 2017 at 11:16am | IP Logged | 12 post reply

Are you sure, Petter? I thought Moses wrote the first five books of the Bible (including, bizarrely, the one that commented on his death). 
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Adam Schulman
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Posted: 09 September 2017 at 11:46am | IP Logged | 13 post reply

For that matter is there even proof there was a historical Moses? Or Mohammed?
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John Byrne
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Posted: 09 September 2017 at 12:08pm | IP Logged | 14 post reply

It's difficult to make a case for Moses, since the entire Egyptian epoch in which he supposedly lived did not exist!
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Robbie Parry
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Posted: 09 September 2017 at 12:23pm | IP Logged | 15 post reply

Or Mohammed?

***

Haven't studied/researched that enough to warrant having a view. I don't know. It'd be interesting to find out. I do wonder if we'd get a variation on the "He exists because my God said he exists" sort of response.


Edited by Robbie Parry on 09 September 2017 at 12:23pm
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David Miller
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Posted: 09 September 2017 at 12:51pm | IP Logged | 16 post reply

I come to it through Apostle Paul. Many credible secular scholars and historians have concluded Paul existed, that he wrote some of the letters attributed to him (Romans, 1-2 Corinthians, Galatians, Philippians, 1 Thessalonians, Philemon), and accept at least some of his words as credible but in places unreliable historical testimony.

Paul discusses his relationship with Peter, and takes as fact Peter's relationship with the historical Jesus. If Paul existed, knew Peter, and believed Peter's accounts of this Yeshua Ben-Yusef, that leads me to lean towards there was indeed a Jewish preacher whose cult however improbably ultimately conquered Europe.

I also find the argument Jesus didn't exist convincing, not to mention  Paul or Peter. Or that Paul was crazy, or running a con L Ron Hubbard style. They're each as likely as the next.
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John Byrne
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Posted: 09 September 2017 at 1:08pm | IP Logged | 17 post reply

I also find the argument Jesus didn't exist convincing, not to mention Paul or Peter. Or that Paul was crazy, or running a con L Ron Hubbard style. They're each as likely as the next.

Can't agree with that. The con job seems far more likely, given the time and place.

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marios ksidonas
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Posted: 09 September 2017 at 1:45pm | IP Logged | 18 post reply

"One of the things that make me really sad in life is those occasions when I have been confronted by believers"---
Last time i confronted a believer....i made him sad.....
the only thing i had to do was to ask him a few questions upon real facts where he first agreed there were facts!And then i begun....
You know somewhere in the depths of amazon there is a tribe that has never seen the "light"of civilisation (there are those tribes , right?-sure he said!"
So in this tribe a man is born and he lives a life as the other men in his village.The tribe worships a tree in the centre of the village.So  in his whole life he believes in this tree.He grows up he makes a family and he dies according all the beliefs of his tribe without ever knowing the existance of the rest of humanity and whatever comes with them.So what happens next?How he will be judged by your god????Why this man had to live a life without knowing the "true" god and having the CHOICE to believe in him?So when the time of judgment comes for his soul suddently god will appear to him saying what ? Anything that you believend in your life was a lie?I am the truth?Do not tell me that anything that happened in hiis life was a plan from god???? If so i want to know why......

You dont want to know his answer cause there wasnt any....(at least to be written here as an answer!)
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Petter Myhr Ness
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Posted: 09 September 2017 at 3:17pm | IP Logged | 19 post reply

Are you sure, Petter? I thought Moses wrote the first five books of the Bible (including, bizarrely, the one that commented on his death).
--

I take it you're being ironic, Robbie! :-)
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Robbie Parry
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Posted: 09 September 2017 at 3:23pm | IP Logged | 20 post reply

Of course. I mean, the "plot hole" is how one of the books comments on his death. Takes a special sort of talent to write a book and comment on your own death. ;-)
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Bill Collins
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Posted: 10 September 2017 at 12:51am | IP Logged | 21 post reply

With it`s satellites in orbit,In-Vitro
fertilisation,flying people with halos(Angels with
illuminated helmets)replicator technology(feeding the
5,000) resurrection,advanced medicine etc it strikes me
as Christianity is just an very early Sci-Fi story that
started a religion...then we have Scientology!
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Michael Penn
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Posted: 10 September 2017 at 5:53am | IP Logged | 22 post reply

The particular problem about the historical Jesus is that the Gospels are the exclusive source, and how they present "facts" about Jesus are so intrinsically interwoven with innumerable allusions, from direct to distant, to Jewish scripture, and all with the purpose of proving that what had been written has now come to pass, that the reader is left with only two choices: the early Christians knew virtually nothing about Jesus and created his life story based on Jewish scripture -- or -- Jesus was in fact exactly who Christians believe him to be.

There's also something else awfully queer about the early Christians. The Gospels (and the entire New Testament) rely on the Greek translation of Jewish scripture instead of the original Hebrew. Not only is the translation at times wrong or changed, but Jesus would not have been preaching from it, interpreting from it. When you consider that contemporary Jews were assiduous about preserving to this day by name what the rabbis who lived in that era said about Jewish law and history and tradition, and preserved it in the very Aramaic that Jesus would have used about the Hebrew scripture Jesus would have used, it seems tantamount to insane that his exact original preaching and interpretation -- if he indeed was not only the Messiah but also the Son of God, and even more, GOD Himself[!] -- would not have been preserved and cherished to the last jot and tittle!

Who in their right mind would hear GOD Himself speak American English and then think, well, forget that... and forget it forever, let God's EXACT words be lost forever... and let's translate what He had to say into Mexican Spanish and save that instead...?!

(Yes, I know that American English is a global tongue and Aramaic 2000 years ago was not exactly comparable. But Aramaic was not the exclusive language of Jews. It was the major tongue in that region, the lingua franca of the Middle East for a thousand years before being replaced by Arabic.)



Edited by Michael Penn on 10 September 2017 at 6:13am
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John Byrne
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Posted: 10 September 2017 at 6:01am | IP Logged | 23 post reply

Who in their right mind would hear GOD Himself speak American English and then think, well, forget that... and forget it forever, let God's EXACT words be lost forever... and let's translate what He had to say into Mexican Spanish and save that instead...?!

One of my greatest complaints about religions in general and Christianity in specific, is that they all have incomprehensible "manuals". Take the Bible on its own. If it is telling a true story, it is, obviously, the Most Important Book Ever Written. Yet it does not present that o-so-important story in anything like a clear and concise form.

People will argue that the Book has been messed with many times over the centuries, with different translations and the various agendas of the men assembling the "final" version all playing a part in obfuscating the "message". Yet, if our Eternal Souls actually depend on our embracing the teachings of this Book, shouldn't God have given it to us in a form that was impossible to corrupt? Must he ALWAYS fuck with us??*

_____________________

* If we are talking about the OT God, then the answer is, of course, YES. But the NT God is supposed to be kinder and gentler (despite sending his only son to be horribly tortured and killed delivering a "message" so convoluted and contradictory that most of the people of the world do not accept it to this day).

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Robbie Parry
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Posted: 10 September 2017 at 6:21am | IP Logged | 24 post reply

But the NT God is supposed to be kinder and gentler (despite sending his only son to be horribly tortured and killed delivering a "message" so convoluted and contradictory that most of the people of the world do not accept it to this day).

***

A Christian I spoke to told me that there had to be a sacrifice in the same way that the US legal system (or any legal system) demands that judges impose mandatory sentences for certain crimes - or in the way the UK system has mandatory jail sentences for certain crimes.

I didn't accept the analogy.

A judge is bound by the law. There is a separation of powers, but a judge has to act a certain way. He/she is bound by rules. I think here in Britain, a crook who carries a knife can have a mandatory jail sentence imposed. Judges have to work within the law, despite their flexibility on certain issues.

My argument is that 'god' is a being not bound by legal rules, etc. WHY DIDN'T HE JUST FORGIVE US? Why didn't he just say, "Adam and Eve fucked up, humanity fell, you screwed up - but I forgive you."

On the subject of the OT 'god', I don't accept a lot in that collection of books. Why the charade with Abraham/Isaac? Shouldn't he, as an omnipotent being, have KNOWN what was in Abraham's heart? 
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Michael Penn
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Posted: 10 September 2017 at 6:30am | IP Logged | 25 post reply


 QUOTE:
Must he ALWAYS fuck with us?? If we are talking about the OT God, then the answer is, of course, YES.

This is, indeed, the expectation, the burden, of being Jewish. Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him; But I will argue my ways before Him. He effs with us, with us Jews, and we have to deal with that. The "Bible" is the most important book ever... for Jews alone. It was never a Jewish idea that any non-Jew would have to follow His laws and deal with His chastisements, fair or unfair. The Bible is the Jewish story, not the Jesus story. This doesn't make Judaism any less full of crapola than any other religion. But at least it seeks only to keep the bull all to itself!




Edited by Michael Penn on 10 September 2017 at 6:30am
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