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Old 10th August 2012, 03:21 AM   #321
IanS
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Originally Posted by Emperor_Gestahl View Post
IMO Jesus counts as a historical Jesus. If the guys who compiled/wrote The New Testament were half as wise and profound as Jesus was quoted to be, not only would they have taken credit for all those insights themselves the rest of the New Testament would have been much better written.

According to E P Sanders (1, ch 6) who is a well known Christian writer on the historicity of Jesus (and someone who believes Jesus was a real figure), the gospels were never written as a complete piece of work by anyone.

Instead, the way that gospels arose, was from the numerous small illustrative stories that were preached at various times (dates unknown) to various different congregations of faithful listeners.

These short stories, called "Pericopes", were aimed at persuading the faithful of their religious duties according to the version of beliefs held by each particular preacher.

At some later date, certain of these different pericopes were gathered together and written down to form what Sanders and others call “proto-gospels” .

At a later date still, some of the different proto-gospels were selected as the preferred teaching of one religious group or other, and were collected together as the first copies of various Christian gospels, inc. the canonical forms and the non-canonical forms.

If Sanders is correct about that description of how the gospels arose, then it means none of the gospels were ever single coherent accounts from any particular individual. Instead they are compilations of various short sermons and illustrative stories that were being preached by many different preachers over an unspecified length of time.



1. E P Sanders, The Historical Figure of Jesus, Allen Lane Penguin Press, 1993.
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Old 10th August 2012, 07:27 AM   #322
maximara
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Originally Posted by TimONeill2 View Post
Sure, you'd only need to present one of these baseless, unargued possibilities if all I and the scholars were presenting was another baseless, unargued possibility. Except we aren't. We are pointing to actual evidence and arguing a case for a historical Jesus based on it.
The reality is by standards of provenance there is NO "actual evidence". The Gospels in terms of provenance are datable to c180 CE--no earlier.

Nongbri, Brent (2005) "The Use and Abuse of P52: Papyrological Pitfalls in the Dating of the Fourth Gospel." Harvard Theological Review show that the c125 of P52 is wishful thinking and not science. The same is true of all texts date through paleography so this closes off claims of any fragments dating before c180 CE In fact, Nongbri notes that P52 could date as late as the early third century!

Josephus and Tacitus are so late as they could be just parroting beliefs rather than history and all the other pagan examples (Pliny the Younger, Mara Bar-Serapion, Suetonius, Thallus) come of a desperation at finding something...anything to support the claim that the Gospel Jesus existed. "Pick a Jesus, pick any Jesus".

As Schweitzer himself pointed out in his first edition of The Quest of the Historical Jesus

Quote:
"The Jesus of Nazareth who came forward publicly as the Messiah, who preached the ethic of the Kingdom of God, who founded the Kingdom of Heaven upon earth, and died to give His work its final consecration, never had any existence. He is a figure designed by rationalism, endowed with life by liberalism, and clothed by modern theology in an historical garb."
As he pointed out nearly all "Historical" Jesuses had been effective Tabula rasas--blank slates on to which the researcher puts their own views and ideas. As such they describe a Jesus who effectively never existed.


I again point to John Frum the best modern counter to the claims of the Gospel Jesus being historical.

Cult's teachings: White literate US serviceman appearing to Elders February 15, 1931.

History: illiterate native named Manehivi takes up the name John Frum 1940 and is arrested May 18, 1941 and later sentenced to three years in prison and five years exile.

References:
Worsley, Peter (1957), The Trumpet Shall Sound: A study of "cargo cults in Melanesia, London: MacGibbon & Kee. pp. 153–9.
Lal, Brij V.; Kate Fortune (2000) The Pacific Islands: an encyclopedia; University of Hawaii Press; ISBN: 978-0824822651; Pg 303


Other than name there is nothing to connect the Cult version of John Frum to what history recorded as little at 16 years later and yet efforts to show the cult version of John Frum didn't exist failed entirely. This was Remburg's contention--there is nothing other than name to connect Jesus of Bethlehem (Jesus of the Bible) to Jesus of Nazareth (the possible Jesus of history)

So far in all your tap dancing we have not seen anything to connect the Jesus of Bethlehem (Jesus of the Bible) to Jesus of Nazareth (the possible Jesus of history). Not a single thing.. Paul gives us so little as to be next to useless and the points when we can check the Gospels to known history or social-political reality fall apart like cheep suits.

Last edited by maximara; 10th August 2012 at 07:45 AM.
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Old 10th August 2012, 08:06 AM   #323
davefoc
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Originally Posted by IanS View Post
According to E P Sanders (1, ch 6) who is a well known Christian writer on the historicity of Jesus (and someone who believes Jesus was a real figure), the gospels were never written as a complete piece of work by anyone.

Instead, the way that gospels arose, was from the numerous small illustrative stories that were preached at various times (dates unknown) to various different congregations of faithful listeners.

These short stories, called "Pericopes", were aimed at persuading the faithful of their religious duties according to the version of beliefs held by each particular preacher.

At some later date, certain of these different pericopes were gathered together and written down to form what Sanders and others call “proto-gospels” .

At a later date still, some of the different proto-gospels were selected as the preferred teaching of one religious group or other, and were collected together as the first copies of various Christian gospels, inc. the canonical forms and the non-canonical forms.

If Sanders is correct about that description of how the gospels arose, then it means none of the gospels were ever single coherent accounts from any particular individual. Instead they are compilations of various short sermons and illustrative stories that were being preached by many different preachers over an unspecified length of time.



1. E P Sanders, The Historical Figure of Jesus, Allen Lane Penguin Press, 1993.
This all seems plausible to me and is the way I have come to believe the Gospels probably arose with the proviso that I also suspect that a form of Mark arose first and was copied by Matthew and Luke.

But that the Gospels are a highly unreliable source of information is accepted as a fact by Jesus minimalists that believe some form of HJ existed.

As I see it, within this thread these are the opposing views:
1. There is insufficient evidence available to make a reasoned judgment as to whether an HJ existed.
2. While the evidence for an HJ is weak and conflicting the evidence is still of sufficient reliability to support a claim that an HJ probably existed.

I think most of the people in this thread (probably all) who hold position two concede most of what has been put forth in the proceeding posts concerning the unreliability of the evidence for an HJ. Speaking for myself (supporter of position two), I also concede that it is possible that Christianity arose without an HJ and I don't dispute the various analogies that people have put forth to support the plausibility of the non-existence of an HJ.

And while I am in the process of conceding things: I (and I suspect most of the Jesus minimalists that participate in these threads) also agree that it is not a very important question as to whether a minimal HJ existed or not because:
1. The most important issue is whether he was a supernatural character or not (as always gets noted at least once in every HJ thread). Every other HJ issue is minor compared to this one and if we assume the HJ wasn't a supernatural being the remaining issues aren't all that important.
2. If an HJ existed he wasn't the creator of Christianity and as such he isn't even an important player in the history of the development of Christianity.
3. If an HJ existed we don't know anything about what he believed or said. We are only left with guesses about the possible nature of an HJ and as such it isn't possible to ascribe any great insights into philosophy or other fields to him even if one happened to find some in the NT.
4. If an HJ existed the most important characteristic that he had that got him linked into the formation of Christianity was that he was a small time religious leader that existed at the right time and place. This may have been the main reason he was sucked into Christianity as the star of a new religion that was morphing out of the God-fearer religion that preceded Christianity.
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Old 10th August 2012, 08:18 AM   #324
davefoc
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Originally Posted by maximara View Post
The reality is by standards of provenance there is NO "actual evidence". The Gospels in terms of provenance are datable to c180 CE--no earlier.

...
What is the significance of the claim that Marcion (who died about 160 CE) incorporated a version of Luke into his canon with regard to the 180 CE date? Is it disputed that Marcion incorporated a version of Luke into his canon or is the 180 date supposed to a time when the Gospels are known to exist close to the form that we know of them today?
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Old 10th August 2012, 12:32 PM   #325
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Well, as far as I know, we don't actually have Marcion's bible, so it's hard to tell exactly what was in it.

What we know is that basically they accused each other of altering the text. Marcion claimed that Irenaeus added stuff like the nativity to the gospel, while the claim in the other direction was that Marcion removed some stuff. It's a bit hard to say which is true, if any. It's not like either includes a word for word analysis in support of that claim.

If I'm to do my own plausibility considerations -- but the caveat is still that plausibility isn't really worth beans in logic, even when I do it -- it's harder to add whole chapters to a text, without tipping anyone doing textual analysis, than to remove them. The former involves imitating the lexicon and style of the original author, while the latter just involves not copying a page or two.

Now it's actually pretty easy to imitate someone's style well enough, if you know you have to do that. In a study, actually most people did pretty well, if told to write in the style of an author and given the book. But that kind of analysis is actually VERY new. They didn't do it at the time. So it would be very unlikely that someone would get the idea, since it just wasn't necessary.

And as a weak induction, we know that a bunch of people didn't bother. The berk who wrote 1 and 2 Timothy for example, didn't actually bother to imitate Paul's style. Nor did Eusebius bother imitating Josephus's style when he inserted the Testimonium Flavianum.

So if there actually were two gospels, identical except the absence of some chapters, I'd vote for "someone deleted them."

It's not impossible though that someone went the extra mile, if they expected to be challenged on it.

Unfortunately we don't really know exactly how indentical the two were, since we're missing one of them.

The second fly in the ointment, though, is that Luke's gospel is mostly not actually in Luke's style. Most of it is copied word for word from Mark and Q. So it's really hard to tell whether someone added the L parts later (M and L are the parts in Matthew and Luke that aren't in either Mark or Q), because, well, they don't match the rest of the text anyway. If the difference between Marcion's Luke and the version Irenaeus had IS the L parts, i.e., if our Luke took a Marcion gospel that already was a mix of Mark and Q, and added his own changes to that version, it would be pretty much impossible to tell.

That said, the way I understand it, the 180 CE date is pretty much the first date when we have a mention of all four, from Irenaeus.

Paleography -- and for that matter just about any other considerations short of actual carbon dating a manuscript -- unfortunately has a very wide margin of error, so it can only give you an interval, and a very wide one at that. For the gospels and generally bible stuff, as Richard Carrier points out, the intervals are given abnormally narrow, by the standards of any other dating in history. (And I'd add, abnormally close to one end or the other, depending if they want to take something as the real deal or some late gnostic nonsense. They don't narrow it to the centre) People make claims like "Mark was written in the 70's" or "John had to be before 125 CE, because P52 is from 125 CE", but the reality is that the actually supportable interval is MUCH wider. E.g., for P52, even the writing style matches writings from all the way to 184 CE. So really, the date for P52 is actually anywhere from the end of the 1st century CE, to well into the third century CE.

So the only solid thing that serves as an upper limit is really Irenaeus.

Or I suppose for Luke there'd be Marcion, with the caveat above. Still, that's a pretty wide interval. A lot wider than usually claimed.

Note that personally I don't claim that they're necessarily WRITTEN in the 2nd century. Mostly because not much hinges on that. But just explaining what it's about.

Last edited by HansMustermann; 10th August 2012 at 12:35 PM.
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Old 10th August 2012, 05:39 PM   #326
TimONeill2
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Originally Posted by davefoc View Post
Evidence has been put forth for and against the existence of Nazareth. Maybe the two sides could be left to resolve that issue to the degree possible before we start rehashing every HJ thread that has come before this one?
Okay, then let's actually look at the evidence of archaeologists, then consider the armchair objections of the piano teacher from Oregon named Rene Salm and let objective sceptics decide who is more likely to be correct.

Firstly, I should note that I was mistaken in a previous post in a couple of my characterisations of the current position of the piano teacher, Salm. Since I was travelling at the time and it's been some time since I checked Salm's website, I recalled that he had actually accepted the dating of some of the agricultural terraces at Nazareth and of the recently excavated house there. I was wrong - Salm is much more intransigent than that. And without good reason, as we'll see.

Reading Salm on this subject reminds me of the days, many years ago, when I actually used to bother reading Creationist material so I could debate Creationists. Salm's book, The Myth of Nazareth: The Invented Town of Jesus, bears many similarities to Creationist classics like Duane Gish's Evolution? The Fossils Say No!. You have an amateur with no training in the relevant field. You have them desperately trying to critique published work by actual specialists and experts and nitpick at it to find reasons for doubt. You have triumphant leaping on the smallest error (eg a mislabelled diagram) as evidence of incompetence if not outright fraud. You have an assumption that the experts secretly know they are wrong and are trying to deceive laypeople for nefarious reasons. And you have a driving ideological bias motivating all of the above, but masquerading as objective critical analysis for the public good. The resemblance is uncanny.

But since Hans seems (what a surprise!) as wholly convinced by the piano teacher as he is by any amateur hobbyist who confirms his prejudices, let's look at some things he's had to say to support the idea Nazareth didn't exist in the early First Century. In response to the idea that some of the agricultural terraces found at Nazareth date to the early First Century and before, Hans declares, with a high degree of bombastic faux-authority:

Quote:
the terraces are presented as proof that the village was there at the time, but they're essentially impossible to date. The stones wouldn't look any different if they had been from before the Assyrian invasion or from the Byzantine era, or anything in between. There's a certainty claimed about exactly when it's from, when actually there isn't ANY base for that dating whatsoever.
My, that does sound very impressive. They are "impossible to date" apparently. And apparently there "isn't ANY base (sic) for that dating whatsoever". Which kind of makes you wonder where those silly old archaeologists got the idea they could be dated to before the early First Century. Are these archaeologists incompetents, as Hans suggests, or do they know a thing or two that our Hans doesn't?

Not surprisingly, they do.

The claim that structures like these are "impossible to date" is nonsense. Archaeologists date structures with no clearly determinant architectural or construction features all the time using find stratigraphy. Even Hans' favourite piano teacher knows this, which is why he leapt on the initial report of a surface survey of the site by the Israeli Archaeological Authority's (IAA) Dr Mordechai Haiman in April 1997, noting that it made no direct mention of finds indicating early First Century habitation (finds from the "Early Roman Period" and "Hellenistic Period"). Actually, Haiman's surface survey did turn up some finds from those periods, which is why the brief initial report on his findings used the word "mostly" when noting that it had been mainly Late Roman Period" sherds found in his work. Unfortunately for Salm, that preliminary survey and GPS mapping was not not a full excavation. The excavations and more extensive analysis that followed turned up much more of the material he insists can't be there. More importantly, the excavated material was able to demonstrate that several of the terrace sites excavated clearly dated to the Early Roman and Hellenistic Periods by means of find stratigraphy.

S. Pfann, R. Voss, Y. Rapuano, “Surveys and Excavations at the Nazareth Village Farm (1997–2002): Final Report”, Bulletin of the Anglo-Israel Archaeological Society vol. 25 (2007) pp. 19-79 details these finds in the extensive "Appendix 2" by Jewish archaeologist Yehuda Rapuano. Ten pages of the 61 page archaeological report detail the finds from a number of sites, giving diagrammatic drawings of many and assessments of the nature of the item the (usually) fragmentary items and estimates of their date provenance. This is all standard stuff as any archaeologist would expect to find in any peer-reviewed journal report of this kind.

Rapuano notes that the finds ranged from a single potsherd from an Early Bronze Age III Period platter (an incidental find, since there is no other indication of settlement on the site in that period) up to an enitely intact "Black Gaza Ware" bowl from the Ottoman Period. Rapuano summarised the finds saying:

The earliest occupation seems to have occurred in the late Hellenistic period of the first and second centuries BC. Examples dating to this period were primarily the jar and jug sherds discovered in Area B-1. A single jug base of this period was also found in Area A-2 (Fig. 38.5). The horizontal handle of the krater (Fig. 38:6) may derive from this period as well. A small amount of material dated to the Early Roman period of the first century BC to first century AD was found in Areas A-1, A-2 and C-1. The best represented pottery at the site was dated from the Late Roman to the early Byzantine period of the third to fourth or fifth centuries AD. The only area in which pottery from this period was not found was Area B-1.
(Rapuano, p. 69)

Again, this is all standard stuff with appropriately cautious language in places ("may derive from this period as well") and a clear indication of the relative volumes and general distributions of the finds. The problem for Salm is the stuff about the Hellenistic and Early Roman period finds in areas B-1, A-1, A-2 and C-1 of the dig, which according to his armchair theory should not be there. The fact that they were found in situ and, as Rapuano notes elsewhere in reply to Salm "in definable archaeological contexts" also sinks Hans' hopeful claim that these terraces are "impossible to date". This is nonsense. The cluster of Hellenistic finds in Area B-1 while there are no Late Roman to the early Byzantine finds in the same area gives a clear indication of the date of that part of the site. So does the grouping of Early Roman finds in the three distinct areas Rapuano indicates.

Rapuano then goes on over the following pages to detail the finds from each location on the site. For example:

Fig. 38:3 is the folded, everted rim and short, cylindrical neck of a storage jar that may date to the Herodian period, and Fig. 38:4 is the rim of a storage jar of the Late Hellenistic period. The base of a jug, Fig. 38:5, could date either to the late Hellenistic or Early Roman period.

(Rapuano, p. 71)

Again, Rapuano expresses himself with the usual caution required of a professional archaeologist, while at the same time giving his trained assessment of their dating provenance. Even excluding finds where Rapuano's date range estimates cover the early first century AD but extend into later periods, I counted no less than 20 finds in his report that he judged to be from the period in which the piano teacher Salm claims there was no settlement there.

So how does Salm deal with all this? Badly. Given that he has no training in the discipline and so has never analysed an artefact in his life, he can hardly dispute Rapuano's assessment. And he's never even seen the finds in question and only seems to have visited Nazareth once as a tourist (as far as I can tell). So he's reduced to nitpicking. He leaps on what he claims is evidence of incompetence, saying the reports authors give two different dates for the same artefact. Actually, as Pfann and Rapuano were later able to confirm, the mistake was made by the article's editors - they simply mislabelled a diagram drawing of the find.

Apart from this Salm has pretty much got nothing. Faced with multiple finds at several locations on the site, all from the very periods he claims Nazareth was uninhabited, he simply declares the archaeologists wrong on the weird grounds that only 15 of the finds in the report are noted with a typological parallel. Rapuano refers to examples in Adan-Bayewitz's Common Pottery in Roman Galilee (1993) in several places, but Salm decalres that because he doesn't do this for all the finds (which is in no way standard in any archaeological report), his estimates can be rejected:

"Put bluntly, the NVF evidence for Nazareth in the time of Jesus rests on no more than Y. Rapuano’s opinion."

Put bluntly, this is ludicrous. The report is by three qualified archaeologists and has been published in a peer-reviewed journal of archaeology which is used by other qualified experts. It is absolutely standard in the way it reports the finds and that supposedly mere "opinion" is exactly the opinion that counts - one by several qualified experts who have excavated many sites and reported many, many other such finds in precisely this way. To dismiss the "opinion" of a qualified expert is breath-taking. Whose opinions are we meant to rely on then? Bee-keepers? Accountants? Apparently only the opinion of all-knowing piano teachers count when it comes to this matter.

Back to Hans' claims:

Quote:
E.g., the pottery from that farm is mis-represented as "early to late Roman" or "helenistic", but actually the Israel Antiquities Authority dated those strictly to late Roman, i.e., 2nd to 4th century. Widening it as "early to late" is as misleading as saying that cars existed in the 2nd millennium CE. I mean, sure, the real dating does fall into the enlarged interval, but there is nothing that requires such a misleading widening the claimed interval backwards.
This is a pack of nonsense. The wording of the initial survey by Mordechai Haiman did not date the finds of the surface survey "strictly to late Roman" at all - the word Haiman's brief initial report used was "mostly". Which was true. As Pfann and Rapuano responded to Salm on this point:

Haiman was correct to note the predominance of ‘Late Roman’ second- to fourth century pottery scattered on the surface. He was careful to use the word ‘mostly’ and did not say that the surface finds were limited to that period. To mention this in his report was peripheral to the GPS survey itself. To have provided any more detail than that would have been out of keeping with the parameters of a GPS survey report.
S. Pfann, Y. Rapuano, “ON the Nazareth Village Farm Report: A Reply to Salm”, Bulletin of the Anglo-Israel Archaeological Society vol. 26 (2008) pp. 105-108, p. 105)

Hans continues:

Quote:
coins are often cited as evidence, but the IAA seems to know nothing and never claimed anything about coins there earlier than Byzantine coins.
The coins in question included Hellenistic, Hasmonean and early Roman coins found by Yardenna Alexandre in 1997 and 1998. Pfann and Rapuano note that the following sentence in their report was provided to them by Dr. Alexandre herself:

Quote:
In addition,165 coins were uncovered by Yardenna Alexandre in the 1997–1998 excavations at Mary’s Well, Nazareth. The coins were overwhelmingly Mamluk, but also included a few Hellenistic, Hasmonaean, Early Roman, Byzantine, Umayyad and Crusader coins.
(Pfann and Rapuano, p. 106)

They go on to note that Dr. Alexandre will be publishing more on her dig and these finds, with analysis of the coins by Ariel Berman. The piano teacher Salm has made a big song and dance about the fact that this report has yet to appear and (bizarrely) had strongly implied that Pfann and Rapuano are stupid enough to simply lie about these coins in print and in a peer reviewed journal. But archaeologists are notoriously slow to publish and it will be interesting how Salm will spin this again when the report appears and wipes egg on his face. Given his past form when new evidence has turned up, I'm sure he'll find a way.

Quote:
about the tombs, the claim isn't that they suddenly appear in the second half of the second century, but that the TYPE of tomb didn't appear anywhere in the area until circa 50 CE and was used until the 5th century CE. So while maybe 24 tombs wouldn't appear over night, but they also didn't accumulate before that type of tomb was in use.
The point is that kokhim are a type of tomb used by upper socio-economic groups, not peasant farmers who are first settling a new area. If these kokhim appeared in the mid First Century, this means there must have been settlement there before this period, which must have then grown to the point where it could support people rich enough to afford to have kokhim constructed. Therefore these tombs imply settlement earlier than the mid-First Century. Which pushes settlement back into the period the piano teacher is so desperate to avoid.

But its actually much worse for Salm than that. Because some of the lamp and other pottery finds in the tombs and burial caves on the site found by Bagatti (1969) and Feig (2000) also date to the Hellenistic and Early Roman periods. Salm makes a great deal of the fact that the "Herodian" or "Bow Spout" lamps found in several of these burials have had their probable dates revised in recent decades. Back in the 1960s archaeologists considered this distinctively Jewish style of artefact to begin appearing as early as 75 BC. More recent work has brought that forward and Salm quotes Varda Sussman dating their first appearance to "the reign of King Herod" (ie 37-4 BC) and then in a later article as saying "‘Recent archaeological evidence suggests that their first appearance was somewhat later, after the reign of Herod" (Sussman, Varda. “Lighting the Way Through History.” Biblical Archaeology Review, Mar/Apr 1985).

The only problem here is that this estimate of this kind of lamp's inception, which is the latest Salm can find in the literature, still doesn't help him, because it actually places this kind of lamp smack bang in the middle of the period he desperately needs to avoid - the early First Century AD. But Salm is nothing if not resourceful:

Quote:
Thus, we can now date the first appearance of the bow-spouted lamp in Jerusalem to c. 1-25 CE. Because a few years must be allowed for the spread of the type to rural villages of the north, c. 15-c. 40 CE is the earliest probable time for the appearance of this type in Southern Galilee. Accordingly, we shall adopt 25 CE as the terminus post quem for the bow-spouted oil lamp at Nazareth.
(Salm, 2008, pp 168-69)

By this bit of fancy-footwork, Salm manages to take Sussman's "somewhat later, after the reign of Herod", tack on a whole quarter of a century to get these lamps a mere 150 kilometres north to southern Galilee and thus at least edge the terminus post quem for these artefacts a bit further away from the time of Jesus. Exactly how he came up with the figure of 25 years or why it would take 25 years for a lamp which became common precisely because it was so easy to make he never bothers to explain.

Is anyone else reminded of Creationist tactics at this point?

At this point Hans departs from the tendentious and contrived fiddling of the facts of his only prop, the piano-teaching armchair contrarian, and bravely strikes out on his own, in his inimitably bold and hilarious style:

Quote:
Also, I would add myself, I don't really see how, if those were luxury tombs for the RICH, they require a tiny village of up to 50 POOR families cramped in a small place with barely enough water (i.e., the last place that someone wealthy would want to live in), to explain. Because the latter is the only thing that has actually been supported in Nazareth. That's like trying to explain the pyramids at Giza by arguing it was the poor from a nearby village buried there. Not literally as preposterous as the pyramids, mind you, but you can't really have it both ways that it was both something for the rich AND actually belonging to some poor peasants in a tiny village that barely got enough water to even survive the summer.
As I note above, settlements established enough to sustain families who can have rock-cut kokhim built for them don't pop up out of nothing. They grow from smaller, poorer, earlier settlements. So the kokhim on their own imply a smaller, poorer, earlier settlement on the site. And that's precisely what the other archaeological evidence from the Hellenistic and Early Roman periods indicate, both by their nature (low status items, roughly made), their distribution and their number. We know there was a larger, richer town there later, the evidence indicates that clearly too.

As for your confused comments about about lack of water, this too is contradicted by all the evidence. Zvi Gal's Lower Galilee in the Iron Age (Eisenbrauns, 1992) notes that the site would have been attractive precisely because of its abundance of springs:

The area around the city (of Nazareth) consists of limestone formation. There are several springs within this small Nazareth valley. The topography of the area and the fact it has many surrounding springs, proves that it was occupied during ancient periods.

(Z. Gal, p. 15)

Dr Ken Dark also notes the hydrological evidence that this would have been a site well watered both from these springs and from seasonal rain collection in the (now filled in) wadi that existed at the time. Exactly how your "barely got enough water to even survive the summer" nonsense squares with the fact of a much larger town there in the Middle Roman period and beyond (which even your piano man admits) I have no idea. Perhaps they didn't use water Hans.

Quote:
since earlier you were citing the Israeli archaeologists as evidence, if there was earlier evidence of a settlement in that time in Nazareth, someone forgot to tell for example Dr Alexandre, who is responsible for most of the digging there. Because, again, the statement from the IAA about that house says it's the first such evidence.
More utter nonsense. What Dr Alexandre said was while tombs had been found in the valley area (and tombs always imply a settlement) this house represented the first settlement remains that confirmed this. She is not saying that there are no other remains in the area that also imply a settlement (eg the farm terraces etc) and given that she has consulted with and corresponded with Pfann and Rapuano about their digs, to pretend otherwise is simply ludicrous fantasy.

It's amazing the level of crap people will resort to when their emotionally and ideologically founded positions are countered by experts with evidence. The piano teacher is now pooh-poohing Alexandre (despite citing her before - he changes his allegiances to suit his agenda) and claiming there is no evidence the house in question comes from his early First Century danger zone. Once again, the experts disagree.

So I'll ask objective readers (if they have made it this far) - who should be believer here? The amateur armchair contrarian with an axe to grind or a string of mainly Jewish archaeologists publishing in peer reviewed journals?

The answer is clear to any rationalist.

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Old 11th August 2012, 02:17 AM   #327
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Actually, that's still somewhat inexact. Salm's argument about the lamps is more along the lines of noting the problem with the following trio of propositions

- the koch tombs only appear in the region (not just that village) after 50 CE
- a bunch of those lamps are in koch tombs
- so let's use them as confirmation for something before 50 CE

Regardless of when that type of lamp was first produced, it can't have been put in a tomb before that tomb was actually dug.

It's like basically like if today someone were buried with their trusty old M1911 pistol he used in WW2. In fact, let's even say that a future archaeologist can accurately identify the rusty lump as the M1911A1 model. The fact that that pistol was produced since 1924, and was a standard military side-arm until 1985, doesn't mean all that much if the tomb is from 1998

For the other stuff...

Stratigraphy is real, but it can't tell you anything with year accuracy, mate. Not for some rocks in a field. The amount of dust accumulated even in a century isn't really all that much. And it pretty much relies on there having been some kind of a difference in the dust accumulated there there (e.g., climate changes), for there to be strata at all. Usually when you apply it to archaeology instead of dating fossils from the Cretaceous, you can have help from man-made strata. (E.g., in areas where they just tore down old houses and built on top of the rubble hill, if you find a stratum of baked brick on top of non-baked brick sediment, and you know when that architecture change happened, you can put a date on that transition in layers.) No such man made strata exist at that farm, so we're left with just soil sedimentation, and not a lot of significant discontinuities in that one.

Now presumably you're better informed than Salm, and certainly than me, so perhaps you could point out exactly WHAT stratigraphy data was used to date those farm terraces? I think it would be most interesting to know.

ETA: Also about tombs indicating a settlement... yes and no. People were not always buried where they lived. Especially for upper class tombs. I already gave the example of Giza where ok, they had a worker town to build those pyramids, but it's not them that is buried there. Assuming there must have been a town there a century before they started building the first pyramid, you know, for people to start getting wealthy enough to afford one, would be flat out false. It's not the local elites that were buried in those pyramids, and, no, that worker town didn't exist before they actually started building one. And also for most of those workers it wasn't even a permanent residence. But Giza isn't the only one. A burial place could be based on completely different reasons than where would people want to live. In Egypt's case, they tend to be further into the desert, while where people lived was closer to the Nile. Or in the case of a koch tomb cut into a rocky hill side, it can be based on considerations like "so where's the nearest hill suitable for that?" I don't see how it follows that -- since, again, Dr Alexandre says it was a tiny village of poor people -- it would necessarily be one of the locals who paid for such a tomb.

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Old 11th August 2012, 02:36 AM   #328
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My apologies if this is a stupid question but wouldn't it make more sense to address the origin of the Nazareth link, I've read numerous threads questioning the validity of this nazarios? word as being a sect, a title, Nazareth the town? it would seem to a layperson until thats nailed down the possible occupation date for the town would be somewhat moot. How was it determined what this word meant when nobody seems to know?
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Old 11th August 2012, 02:41 AM   #329
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Indeed, I would concur that that's the more relevant question.
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Old 11th August 2012, 03:25 AM   #330
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
Actually, that's still somewhat inexact. Salm's argument about the lamps is more along the lines of noting the problem with the following trio of propositions

- the koch tombs only appear in the region (not just that village) after 50 CE
- a bunch of those lamps are in koch tombs
- so let's use them as confirmation for something before 50 CE

Regardless of when that type of lamp was first produced, it can't have been put in a tomb before that tomb was actually dug.
What Salm does is dispute when it is likely that the kokhim (please try to get the spelling right) can be said to have spread to Galilee. Because Rachel Hachlili's typology of these tombs shows they were being used in Judea - two days walk south - far earlier than 50 AD. And the Nazareth kokhim that contained the lamps in question are of Hachlili's "Type I" style - the earliest kind. This is why it's so important for the piano teacher to find a way to bring the terminus post quem for these lamps as far forward as he can, otherwise they are evidence of kokhim in this part of southern Galilee before 50 AD, which trashes his tendentious pseudo thesis. Yet, even using Sussman's very latest estimate and even when he tacks his baseless but convenient 25 years on top of that, these lamps still sink his nonsense.

This is why no actual archaeologist takes this idiot seriously. Please try to grasp this.

Quote:
For the other stuff...
Yes, the 3000+ words of carefully researched and meticulously sourced "other stuff" with references to real archaeological literature and to multiple Jewish archaeological experts who all consider your idiot piano man to be a total barking loon. That "other stuff".

Quote:
Stratigraphy is real, but it can't tell you anything with year accuracy, mate.
We don't need frigging year accuracy, "mate". If we have substantial stratigraphic evidence of Early Roman and Hellenic find distribution, your Oregon moron's armchair thesis goes swirling down the toilet. And we do.

Quote:
Now presumably you're better informed than Salm, and certainly than me, so perhaps you could point out exactly WHAT stratigraphy data was used to date those farm terraces? I think it would be most interesting to know.
What?! I told you. I gave you details from a 61 page peer-reviewed archaeological report, 10 pages of which list the finds and their locations and specify precisely what elements from locations B-1, A-1, A-2 and C-1 of that dig make it clear that these terraces were farmed in the Early Roman and Hellenic periods. This is why no-one with any grasp of the relevant archaeology agrees with the moustachioed kook from Eugene, Oregon, whose crappy little amateur-hour website you're clinging to. Again, this takes me back to debating bumbling Creationists.

Quote:
ETA: Also about tombs indicating a settlement... yes and no. People were not always buried where they lived.
Yes, because Jewish archaeologists specialising in ancient Jewish burial customs based on excavating thousands of sites wouldn't have a clue about that and Hans Whoever on JREF would be much better informed on the matter. Give us a break.

Quote:
Or in the case of a koch tomb cut into a rocky hill side, it can be based on considerations like "so where's the nearest hill suitable for that?" I don't see how it follows that -- since, again, Dr Alexandre says it was a tiny village of poor people -- it would necessarily be one of the locals who paid for such a tomb.
The evidence of thousands of sites and the evidence of ancient Jewish burial laws clearly shows that people did bury their dead within walking distance of their homes. If you had any grasp of the evidence at all, you'd know that. The fact you don't speaks volumes. Like a Creationist who has just been taken to the woodshed over the realities of fossil evidence, you are now just trying to desperately hold together the ragged remains of a position you adopted out of an irrational emotionalism, backed by garbage pseudo scholarship from an amateur loon. The longer you try to do this the more your ignorance of the relevant scholarship will be exposed.

Now would be a good time to start backing down.

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Old 11th August 2012, 03:35 AM   #331
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Originally Posted by Bad vibe View Post
My apologies if this is a stupid question but wouldn't it make more sense to address the origin of the Nazareth link, I've read numerous threads questioning the validity of this nazarios? word as being a sect, a title, Nazareth the town? it would seem to a layperson until thats nailed down the possible occupation date for the town would be somewhat moot. How was it determined what this word meant when nobody seems to know?
I'm not sure exactly what you're asking here. The linguistic evidence is clear that the name of the sect and the name of the town are not related, despite their seeming similarities in their transliteration from Hebrew into Greek and the consequent similarities in the Greek's English versions. One is from the Hebre נזיר, nazir (separated) and the other from נֵ֫צֶר, ne.ṣer (branch) or נָצַר na.ṣar (watch tower). Vast amounts of New Age crap have been written about Jesus actually being a "Nazarite", but one of it fits with any of the evidence.
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Old 11th August 2012, 03:59 AM   #332
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Originally Posted by TimONeill2 View Post
I'm not sure exactly what you're asking here. The linguistic evidence is clear that the name of the sect and the name of the town are not related, despite their seeming similarities in their transliteration from Hebrew into Greek and the consequent similarities in the Greek's English versions. One is from the Hebre נזיר, nazir (separated) and the other from נֵ֫צֶר, ne.ṣer (branch) or נָצַר na.ṣar (watch tower). Vast amounts of New Age crap have been written about Jesus actually being a "Nazarite", but one of it fits with any of the evidence.
However, as you well know, the Gospels were written in Greek, while Hebrew was at best a dead liturgical language even in Palestine. Hence it's somewhat irrelevant what differences would be obvious in Hebrew. If there is potential for confusion in Greek, for a Greek author, working by a Greek translation, then that's the more relevant part.

Now if anyone were to say that a modern scholar working on some Hebrew texts confuses nazir with nasar, that would indeed be a grave accusation. But there is no indication whatsoever that gMark had that kind of expertise, or did that kind of research.
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Old 11th August 2012, 07:58 AM   #333
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Originally Posted by davefoc View Post
What is the significance of the claim that Marcion (who died about 160 CE) incorporated a version of Luke into his canon with regard to the 180 CE date? Is it disputed that Marcion incorporated a version of Luke into his canon or is the 180 date supposed to a time when the Gospels are known to exist close to the form that we know of them today?
We know Marcion used something his opponents said was a altered version of Luke in his Bible. Marcion himself never claimed Gospel of the Lord was by Luke.


Moreover, Charles B. Waite in 1881 and Joseph B Tyson in 2006 both made a case that what we call Luke was in response to Marcion's Luke ie our Luke is after c160 CE! Tyson went further than Waite and says Acts as well is a reaction to Marcion's Luke making our Luke and Acts no older then c160 CE!

Waite, Charles B. (1881) History of the Christian Religion to the Year Two-Hundred

Tyson, Joseph B (2006) Marcion and Luke-Acts: A Defining Struggle
University of South Carolina Press; annotated edition.
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Old 11th August 2012, 08:40 AM   #334
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Originally Posted by TimONeill2 View Post
Okay, then let's actually look at the evidence of archaeologists, then consider the armchair objections of the piano teacher from Oregon named Rene Salm and let objective sceptics decide who is more likely to be correct.
Considering that I am an archaeologist I find your knowledge of my profession slowly rising to zero. As Bruce Trigger points out in his A History of Archaeological Thought Archaeologyl and anthropology are not practiced the same way everywhere in the world. Some countries are effectively using Imperial Synthesis, Cultural-historical, or Functionalism archaeologist rather then the more current Neo-evolutionism Archaeology with its system theory approach.

For example, Reuben Thorpe's "Which way is up? Context formation and transformation: The life and deaths of a hot bath in Beirut" (Assemblage 1998) points out there are serious issues with how stratigraphy is used as a dating tool in the Middle East. Thorpe concluded that archaeological methodology as it is practiced in the Middle East "fails to address deposit, site and stratigraphic complexity adequately."

Åsa Berggren's "The relevance of stratigraphy" American Antiquity, Vol. 68, No. 3 (Jul., 2003), pp. 421-434 went further showing a major problem with how field world was being done across the world.


That means any stratigraphy evidence for the existence of Nazareth is tainted due to poor archaeological methodology and problematic field work issues.

Besides there are HJ that say that Nazareth is reference to a sect not a town--this is supported by the fact that in Acts 24:5 Paul is said to be the ringleader of this sect.

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Old 11th August 2012, 09:44 AM   #335
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Originally Posted by TimONeill2 View Post
What Salm does is dispute when it is likely that the kokhim (please try to get the spelling right) can be said to have spread to Galilee. Because Rachel Hachlili's typology of these tombs shows they were being used in Judea - two days walk south - far earlier than 50 AD. And the Nazareth kokhim that contained the lamps in question are of Hachlili's "Type I" style - the earliest kind. This is why it's so important for the piano teacher to find a way to bring the terminus post quem for these lamps as far forward as he can, otherwise they are evidence of kokhim in this part of southern Galilee before 50 AD, which trashes his tendentious pseudo thesis. Yet, even using Sussman's very latest estimate and even when he tacks his baseless but convenient 25 years on top of that, these lamps still sink his nonsense.

This is why no actual archaeologist takes this idiot seriously. Please try to grasp this.



Yes, the 3000+ words of carefully researched and meticulously sourced "other stuff" with references to real archaeological literature and to multiple Jewish archaeological experts who all consider your idiot piano man to be a total barking loon. That "other stuff".



We don't need frigging year accuracy, "mate". If we have substantial stratigraphic evidence of Early Roman and Hellenic find distribution, your Oregon moron's armchair thesis goes swirling down the toilet. And we do.



What?! I told you. I gave you details from a 61 page peer-reviewed archaeological report, 10 pages of which list the finds and their locations and specify precisely what elements from locations B-1, A-1, A-2 and C-1 of that dig make it clear that these terraces were farmed in the Early Roman and Hellenic periods. This is why no-one with any grasp of the relevant archaeology agrees with the moustachioed kook from Eugene, Oregon, whose crappy little amateur-hour website you're clinging to. Again, this takes me back to debating bumbling Creationists.



Yes, because Jewish archaeologists specialising in ancient Jewish burial customs based on excavating thousands of sites wouldn't have a clue about that and Hans Whoever on JREF would be much better informed on the matter. Give us a break.



The evidence of thousands of sites and the evidence of ancient Jewish burial laws clearly shows that people did bury their dead within walking distance of their homes. If you had any grasp of the evidence at all, you'd know that. The fact you don't speaks volumes. Like a Creationist who has just been taken to the woodshed over the realities of fossil evidence, you are now just trying to desperately hold together the ragged remains of a position you adopted out of an irrational emotionalism, backed by garbage pseudo scholarship from an amateur loon. The longer you try to do this the more your ignorance of the relevant scholarship will be exposed.

Now would be a good time to start backing down.
Looks like you're trying to desperately hold together the ragged remains of a position you adopted out of an irrational emotionalism.
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Old 11th August 2012, 01:58 PM   #336
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Originally Posted by tsig View Post
Looks like you're trying to desperately hold together the ragged remains of a position you adopted out of an irrational emotionalism.
I agree in that TimONeill2 keeps diverting us to the issue of Nazareth exists--a non issue for those HJ supporters that believe Nazareth originally refereed to a sect and was misunderstood when written down or through the act of copying.

The Christ Myth theory included the idea that an already existing Christ myth was attracted to "reports of an obscure Jewish Holy man bearing this name" (Dodd, C.H. (1938) History and the Gospel under the page heading 'Christ Myth Theory' Manchester University Press pg 17)


"This view (Christ Myth theory) states that the story of Jesus is a piece of mythology, possessing no more substantial claims to historical fact than the old Greek or Norse stories of gods and heroes..." (International Standard Bible Encyclopedia: E-J 1982 by Geoffrey W. Bromiley) I again point to Davy Crockett and the Frozen Dawn as a story of Davy Crockett that "is a piece of mythology, possessing no more substantial claims to historical fact than the old Greek or Norse stories of gods and heroes..." How do we go from "the story of" to "man doesn't exist"?

Robert Price made this very interesting comment regarding the ways Jesus could be a fiction in his Jesus: Fact or Fiction?: "the central figure of the gospels is not based on any historical individual", i.e. the Gospel Jesus is little more than "a synthetic construct of theologians, a symbolic 'Uncle Sam' figure."

I say this is interesting because Uncle Sam is supposedly based on a real flesh and blood person: Samuel Wilson (September 13, 1766–July 31, 1854). The flaw in this story is that the name "Uncle Sam" can be found as far back as 1775 in the original lyrics of Yankee Doodle.

Remsburg may have held there was a historical Jesus but he also held that "the Jesus of Bethlehem, the Christ of Christianity, is an impossible character and does not exist."

The point TimONeill2 and other apologists like him keep avoiding like the plague is there isnothing no one single piece of evidence other than name to connect the Jesus of Bethlehem (the Jesus of the Bible and Christianity) to a historical Jesus of Nazareth.

The birth stories of Matthew and Luke require wild gyrations with unproven supposed events at odds with known social-political reality to mesh. An interesting aspect of Marcion's Gospel of the Lord (claimed to be an altered version of Luke by his detractors) is that lacked the first two chapters ie it contained no birth story.

The non supernatural events around the crucifixion are social-political nonsense. Philo and Josephus both noted Pilate's insensitivity to Jewish customs to the point that in one incident he threatened demonstrators with death (and it took him five days to come up with that brilliant idea) and only relented when it was clear the demonstrators were willing to all die.

The idea that this man would so easily give to a mob stirred up by the Priests as he does in the canonal Gospels is not only insane but non-historical. Neither Philo and Josephus mention anything even remotely like this in their writings on Pilate regarding his governorship of his Jewish subjects.

More over the idea that Jesus was considered so dangerous that the Priests met on the eve of their holiest day to have a kangaroo court is more social-political nonsense.

The events that would have attracted historical interest have no confirmation by any contemporary source. Philo who noted some naked crazy man being mocked as a king makes no mention of Jesus or of Pilate behaving in the manner outlined in the Gospels.

Either Philo had some really weird ideas about what was important or more likely the Gospels account of Jesus death is essentially fiction--made up to fit the beliefs of those who wrote it.
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Old 11th August 2012, 02:34 PM   #337
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Originally Posted by maximara View Post
I agree in that TimONeill2 keeps diverting us to the issue of Nazareth exists--a non issue for those HJ supporters that believe Nazareth originally refereed to a sect and was misunderstood when written down or through the act of copying.

...
I disagree a bit with the above. TimONeill2 is focusing on the issue of Nazareth because that is the most active sub topic going. It doesn't mean that he is ignoring other topics because he doesn't have evidence to support other aspects of his claim.

I agree that the issue of whether or not Nazareth was a habitable town in first century Palestine is a bit of a side issue and whichever way the weight of evidence leans on that issue there isn't much probative value in that issue as to the issue of whether an HJ existed or not. I haven't seen that TimONeill2 disagrees with that view either. I think he is just, reasonably in my view, presenting evidence that supports his view that Nazareth was a habitable location in first century Palestine. Related topics are the issue of whether the NT authors made a mistake about Nazareth being a town or a sect and what impact if any these possibilities have on the likelihood of the existence of an HJ. Those are issues I don't have much of an opinion about and I hope to learn a little more about them in this thread.

I also agreed with poster above that suggested TimONeill2's rhetoric was over the top and that it wasn't contributing to the discussion or his credibility. ETA: It looks like there were two posters that made this point, Moss and tsig. I just wanted to acknowledge them and to note the fact that I didn't precisely relate what either individual said.
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Old 11th August 2012, 02:57 PM   #338
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Originally Posted by maximara View Post
I agree in that TimONeill2 keeps diverting us to the issue of Nazareth exists--a non issue for those HJ supporters that believe Nazareth originally refereed to a sect and was misunderstood when written down or through the act of copying.

The Christ Myth theory included the idea that an already existing Christ myth was attracted to "reports of an obscure Jewish Holy man bearing this name" (Dodd, C.H. (1938) History and the Gospel under the page heading 'Christ Myth Theory' Manchester University Press pg 17)


"This view (Christ Myth theory) states that the story of Jesus is a piece of mythology, possessing no more substantial claims to historical fact than the old Greek or Norse stories of gods and heroes..." (International Standard Bible Encyclopedia: E-J 1982 by Geoffrey W. Bromiley) I again point to Davy Crockett and the Frozen Dawn as a story of Davy Crockett that "is a piece of mythology, possessing no more substantial claims to historical fact than the old Greek or Norse stories of gods and heroes..." How do we go from "the story of" to "man doesn't exist"?

Robert Price made this very interesting comment regarding the ways Jesus could be a fiction in his Jesus: Fact or Fiction?: "the central figure of the gospels is not based on any historical individual", i.e. the Gospel Jesus is little more than "a synthetic construct of theologians, a symbolic 'Uncle Sam' figure."

I say this is interesting because Uncle Sam is supposedly based on a real flesh and blood person: Samuel Wilson (September 13, 1766–July 31, 1854). The flaw in this story is that the name "Uncle Sam" can be found as far back as 1775 in the original lyrics of Yankee Doodle.

Remsburg may have held there was a historical Jesus but he also held that "the Jesus of Bethlehem, the Christ of Christianity, is an impossible character and does not exist."

The point TimONeill2 and other apologists like him keep avoiding like the plague is there isnothing no one single piece of evidence other than name to connect the Jesus of Bethlehem (the Jesus of the Bible and Christianity) to a historical Jesus of Nazareth.

The birth stories of Matthew and Luke require wild gyrations with unproven supposed events at odds with known social-political reality to mesh. An interesting aspect of Marcion's Gospel of the Lord (claimed to be an altered version of Luke by his detractors) is that lacked the first two chapters ie it contained no birth story.

The non supernatural events around the crucifixion are social-political nonsense. Philo and Josephus both noted Pilate's insensitivity to Jewish customs to the point that in one incident he threatened demonstrators with death (and it took him five days to come up with that brilliant idea) and only relented when it was clear the demonstrators were willing to all die.

The idea that this man would so easily give to a mob stirred up by the Priests as he does in the canonal Gospels is not only insane but non-historical. Neither Philo and Josephus mention anything even remotely like this in their writings on Pilate regarding his governorship of his Jewish subjects.

More over the idea that Jesus was considered so dangerous that the Priests met on the eve of their holiest day to have a kangaroo court is more social-political nonsense.

The events that would have attracted historical interest have no confirmation by any contemporary source. Philo who noted some naked crazy man being mocked as a king makes no mention of Jesus or of Pilate behaving in the manner outlined in the Gospels.

Either Philo had some really weird ideas about what was important or more likely the Gospels account of Jesus death is essentially fiction--made up to fit the beliefs of those who wrote it.
I think most people that suspect an HJ existed that have looked into the issue don't disagree with much, if any of the evidence and arguments that you made above. What would be most useful, I think in these HJ threads is that the evidence that is agreed to by both sides of the issue could be established at the beginning of the thread so that the thread could focus on issues genuinely in dispute.

For me the most important element to be true of the Jesus story if an HJ is judged to have existed is that there was a group of people that after the death of Jesus continued on and propagated a Jesus related sect and that either Hellenistic Jews or God-fearer groups became aware of and morphed their own religion into something that incorporated the religion of the Palestinian Jesus group. For the reasons you put forth above and for other reasons I think we have no reliable information about the nature of Jesus. We just don't know anything about him including whether he existed. My guess, is that he did exist and that the probably James led sect that I talked about above did exist. But that doesn't mean that in anyway I disagree with the bulk of the information and arguments (like the ones you put forward above) about the unreliability of the NT as an historical source. I think others participating in this thread have a similar view of all this.
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Old 11th August 2012, 04:42 PM   #339
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Originally Posted by maximara View Post
Considering that I am an archaeologist I find your knowledge of my profession slowly rising to zero.
Sorry, but given that everyone on the internet is an astronaut, a brain surgeon and a Nobel Prize-winning rocket scientist, I'm afraid "I am an archaeologist" will need some substantiation. Who are you, what are your qualifications, what period do you specialise in and where have you published? Sorry to be so sceptical, but unsubstantiated claims by anonymous internet posters don't count for much.

Quote:
For example, Reuben Thorpe's "Which way is up? Context formation and transformation: The life and deaths of a hot bath in Beirut" (Assemblage 1998) points out there are serious issues with how stratigraphy is used as a dating tool in the Middle East. Thorpe concluded that archaeological methodology as it is practiced in the Middle East "fails to address deposit, site and stratigraphic complexity adequately."
"In the Middle East"? That's extremely broad. So this somehow means that every archaeologist's work on stratigraphy "in the Middle East" is instantly invalided because you say so?

Quote:
Åsa Berggren's "The relevance of stratigraphy" American Antiquity, Vol. 68, No. 3 (Jul., 2003), pp. 421-434 went further showing a major problem with how field world was being done across the world.


That means any stratigraphy evidence for the existence of Nazareth is tainted due to poor archaeological methodology and problematic field work issues.
Pardon? So suddenly the standard practice of making assessments as to the dates of site occupation from the estimated dating distribution of finds is out the window? Why? This is just bizarre.

Quote:
Besides there are HJ that say that Nazareth is reference to a sect not a town--this is supported by the fact that in Acts 24:5 Paul is said to be the ringleader of this sect.
Yes, a sect named after the home town of its founder. And?
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Old 11th August 2012, 05:00 PM   #340
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Originally Posted by davefoc View Post
I think most people that suspect an HJ existed that have looked into the issue don't disagree with much, if any of the evidence and arguments that you made above. What would be most useful, I think in these HJ threads is that the evidence that is agreed to by both sides of the issue could be established at the beginning of the thread so that the thread could focus on issues genuinely in dispute.

For me the most important element to be true of the Jesus story if an HJ is judged to have existed is that there was a group of people that after the death of Jesus continued on and propagated a Jesus related sect and that either Hellenistic Jews or God-fearer groups became aware of and morphed their own religion into something that incorporated the religion of the Palestinian Jesus group. For the reasons you put forth above and for other reasons I think we have no reliable information about the nature of Jesus. We just don't know anything about him including whether he existed. My guess, is that he did exist and that the probably James led sect that I talked about above did exist. But that doesn't mean that in anyway I disagree with the bulk of the information and arguments (like the ones you put forward above) about the unreliability of the NT as an historical source. I think others participating in this thread have a similar view of all this.
In fact, most professional scholars in the strongest academic research departments do not make any large claims for each and every detail of the crucifixion, any more than they accept the magic/supernatural episodes. So anyone getting excited about any implausibilities in the crucifixion narrative isn't offering anything new that would surprise most modern scholars, who still view Jesus the human teacher as historic, in the least. Plenty of up-to-date peer-reviewed scholarship investigating the most plausible elements of the human Jesus biography reflects awareness not only of a sliding scale when it comes to the varying plausibility of a whole range of details in the narrative, but of a markedly varied assortment of different Greek styles often within one and the same Gospel.

These different styles range from highly literary to extremely colloquial. Moreover, the more colloquial the passage, the more often such passages involve what Jesus is saying more than what he is doing, the more often there are apparent Aramaicisms in the text, the more often the text depicts normal entirely human details, and the more the text comes off as something originally oral rather than written. This consilience of qualities points to the distinct possibility that the earliest textual strata reflect oral transmission of things Jesus actually said when his doings were largely transacted in Aramaic, when there was nothing the least bit supernatural about anything he did, and when he seems to have concentrated on teaching rather than stunts. The most literary quality is reserved for the most outlandish passages describing magic and the supernatural.

The takeaway from this is that Mark is probably the earliest Gospel as a whole, even though it already has some magic but not as much as in the later ones, and that the parallel sayings in Matt./Luke that are exclusively philosophical may be the earliest stratum of all, even as Matt./Luke are later Gospels as a whole with -- sure enough -- the introduction of extravagant elements like the Virgin Birth and post-Resurrection appearances at the end. John is most elaborate of all in literary style and -- no surprise -- the supernatural overwhelms practically everything else there.

The onus is on anyone who is ready to explain away the obvious coincidence that the more literary the style the more extravagant the details, and the more colloquial the style the more mundane the details. Anyone who ignores this aspect is not honestly addressing the textual evidence. Can anyone here account for this one-to-one correspondence other than by perceiving distinct chronological strata moving further and further from a normal human biography at the core?

Stone
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Old 11th August 2012, 05:15 PM   #341
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Originally Posted by TimONeill2 View Post
Why? If someone claims to have a qualification and uses that as a debate point, they need to back that up with some evidence. Anyone can claim anything on the internet, so that kind of talk is cheap. I'm sure he hasn't made that claim without basis, but it makes sense to ask him to substantiate it.

And I've been reading and studying this stuff for 25+ years and am pretty comfortable with my level of knowledge as an interested amateur thanks. I didn't claim to have a degree in the archaeology of the Middle East and biblical history, so I can't see what the fact I have a degree in English has to do with anything.

Do you have something of substance to say about any of the detailed arguments I've advanced so far or will you just be limiting yourself to petty one-line sniping?
Well, for one thing the lack of formal education in the sector seems to be the one thing you repeatedly held against Salm. Why this would not apply in the same way against you is beyond me, especially since you claim for yourself that a certain kind of amateur interest and knowledge of the relevant literature is sufficient to criticize him. The constant repetition of his amateur status does not add anything and detracts from the arguments you want to present.
No, I do not have anything significant to contribute to the discussion as I am just an interested amateur who wants to read actual arguments, not repeated emotive narratives that claim to have demolished the opposition. If your arguments are as good as you claim they are they should stand on their own, without all the narrative framing.
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Old 11th August 2012, 05:21 PM   #342
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Originally Posted by Moss View Post
Well, for one thing the lack of formal education in the sector seems to be the one thing you repeatedly held against Salm. Why this would not apply in the same way against you is beyond me, especially since you claim for yourself that a certain kind of amateur interest and knowledge of the relevant literature is sufficient to criticize him. The constant repetition of his amateur status does not add anything and detracts from the arguments you want to present.
I just explained to davefoc why I was contrasting his amateur status with the expert status of those he is trying to critique. As I said to him, if all I did was say he was wrong because he was an amateur than that would be a fallacious argument from authority. But I did much more than that. I only noted that this was yet another case of an amateur with an axe to grind trying to second guess experts because, as sceptics, that should always ring an alarm bell for us.

Quote:
No, I do not have anything significant to contribute to the discussion as I am just an interested amateur who wants to read actual arguments, not repeated emotive narratives that claim to have demolished the opposition. If your arguments are as good as you claim they are they should stand on their own, without all the narrative framing.
Feel free to post your way and I'll continue to feel free to post mine. If you stick around you'll find I give plenty in the way of "actual arguments" and do so in some detail.
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Old 11th August 2012, 05:55 PM   #343
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Originally Posted by Stone View Post
In fact, most professional scholars in the strongest academic research departments do not make any large claims for each and every detail of the crucifixion, any more than they accept the magic/supernatural episodes. So anyone getting excited about any implausibilities in the crucifixion narrative isn't offering anything new that would surprise most modern scholars, who still view Jesus the human teacher as historic, in the least. Plenty of up-to-date peer-reviewed scholarship investigating the most plausible elements of the human Jesus biography reflects awareness not only of a sliding scale when it comes to the varying plausibility of a whole range of details in the narrative, but of a markedly varied assortment of different Greek styles often within one and the same Gospel.

These different styles range from highly literary to extremely colloquial. Moreover, the more colloquial the passage, the more often such passages involve what Jesus is saying more than what he is doing, the more often there are apparent Aramaicisms in the text, the more often the text depicts normal entirely human details, and the more the text comes off as something originally oral rather than written. This consilience of qualities points to the distinct possibility that the earliest textual strata reflect oral transmission of things Jesus actually said when his doings were largely transacted in Aramaic, when there was nothing the least bit supernatural about anything he did, and when he seems to have concentrated on teaching rather than stunts. The most literary quality is reserved for the most outlandish passages describing magic and the supernatural.

The takeaway from this is that Mark is probably the earliest Gospel as a whole, even though it already has some magic but not as much as in the later ones, and that the parallel sayings in Matt./Luke that are exclusively philosophical may be the earliest stratum of all, even as Matt./Luke are later Gospels as a whole with -- sure enough -- the introduction of extravagant elements like the Virgin Birth and post-Resurrection appearances at the end. John is most elaborate of all in literary style and -- no surprise -- the supernatural overwhelms practically everything else there.

The onus is on anyone who is ready to explain away the obvious coincidence that the more literary the style the more extravagant the details, and the more colloquial the style the more mundane the details. Anyone who ignores this aspect is not honestly addressing the textual evidence. Can anyone here account for this one-to-one correspondence other than by perceiving distinct chronological strata moving further and further from a normal human biography at the core?

Stone
You've touched on two topics, that I wanted to comment on.

Aramaic in the NT
This is an interesting area that I don't know much about. I hope there will be further discussion on this topic.

The implausible nature of the trial/crucifixion scenarios
I've thought a bit about this. Over the years I have created a rough outline in my mind of what I think is the most likely scenario for very early Christian history. One of the elements I have the most trouble dealing with in my outline is the trial and crucifixion. Every element of the trial seems implausible. It is certainly plausible that the Romans crucified the HJ, but if they did, why did they do it? If it was because Jesus was a rebel, then the whole issue of what would constitute an HJ comes into play. If Jesus was a rebel leader, a la Eisenman perhaps, then is it a reasonable claim that this rebel leader is the HJ? That seems like such a divergence from the Christian story that it is reasonable to ask whether the existence of such an individual could reasonably qualify as the HJ. And if the Romans didn't kill him because he was a rebel then why did they kill him? Maybe some kind of intrigue by the Jewish leaders? Maybe but I had relegated that to antisemitism that got inserted into the NT to satisfy the requirements of a Roman audience, but maybe it was real? Anyway I don't have much to say about this, but I am not sure what if anything can be reasonably guessed at about the trial and crucifixion beyond that the NT story seems wildly unlikely in the details.
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Old 11th August 2012, 06:36 PM   #344
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Originally Posted by davefoc View Post
The implausible nature of the trial/crucifixion scenarios
I've thought a bit about this. Over the years I have created a rough outline in my mind of what I think is the most likely scenario for very early Christian history. One of the elements I have the most trouble dealing with in my outline is the trial and crucifixion. Every element of the trial seems implausible. It is certainly plausible that the Romans crucified the HJ, but if they did, why did they do it? If it was because Jesus was a rebel, then the whole issue of what would constitute an HJ comes into play. If Jesus was a rebel leader, a la Eisenman perhaps, then is it a reasonable claim that this rebel leader is the HJ? That seems like such a divergence from the Christian story that it is reasonable to ask whether the existence of such an individual could reasonably qualify as the HJ. And if the Romans didn't kill him because he was a rebel then why did they kill him? Maybe some kind of intrigue by the Jewish leaders? Maybe but I had relegated that to antisemitism that got inserted into the NT to satisfy the requirements of a Roman audience, but maybe it was real? Anyway I don't have much to say about this, but I am not sure what if anything can be reasonably guessed at about the trial and crucifixion beyond that the NT story seems wildly unlikely in the details.
The trial scenes in the gospels are certainly implausible in many details and this can be traced to gMark's likely context of composition. There are strong indications that gMark was written after 70 AD, and written directly after the First Jewish War (I can go into detail on that if you like). That would have been a very difficult environment in which to be trying to sell a belief in a saviour figure who was a crucified Jew to a Roman audience. So what we can see in gMark and then in the later gospels is a clear attempt to "explain" how Jesus came to be crucified while distancing him as far as possible from Jewish rebels or sedition against Rome.

This is why we have the fiction that Jesus was being accused of blasphemy but handed over to Pilate to get him to do the dirty work of execution. This is nonsense - the Sanhedrin had the power to execute people for blasphemy, so if that was the charge he would have been stoned to death, not crucified. This is also why we get the highly unlikely depiction of Pilate as a reluctant participant who gets bullied into executing Jesus - contrary to everything we know from other sources about this particularly ruthless Roman administrator. And it's why we get the final scene where the first person to acknowledge the crucified Jesus as Yahweh's anointed is not a Jew but the Roman centurion supervisinig the execution (Mark 15:39).

The elements in the trial and execution narratives which are clearly ahistorical all serve the same purpose - to distance Jesus from Jewish sedition, put the blame for his execution on the Jewish leaders and make the story as palatable as possible to a Roman audience.

Which brings us to your question about why he was executed. Despite what gMark and the other gospels claim, it was not "blasphemy" to claim to be the Messiah. gMark does seem to be preserving a historical element when it depicts the trail before the Sanhedrin centring on alleged predictions Jesus made about the fall of the Temple and, given the earlier (rather sanitised) account of Jesus attacking the money-changers, there is solid ground for assuming this was the real beef the Sadducees had with him.

So the idea that they would want to dispose of this Galilean rabble-rouser is at least plausible. As is the idea that they would want to hand him over to Pilate. The Prefect rarely came to Jerusalem, but he did so at Passover because it was a time when the Jews tended to get very worked up about freedom from foreign domination, given that was what the whole festival was about. So Pilate was in town with several cohorts of auxilia and in residence in the Fortress Antonia - right next to the Temple compound. We know from other sources that Pilate took a dim view of any whiff of rebellion and was happy to unleash his troops on civilians to nip any sign of sedition in the bud. So there was a strong incentive for the Sadducees to nab Jesus and hand him over to Pilate before Pilate started killing civilians first and asking questions later. Or never.

As for why Pilate had a problem with Jesus, he was a Roman aristocrat and administrator with no interest in Jewish theology. Jesus' pronouncements about the coming apocalyptic "kingship of God" many have been Jewish gobbledegook to Pilate, but the bit about God sweeping away the oppressors of Israel to establish this imminent eschatological kingdom would not have been. The later Christian traditions played up the "my kingdom is not of this world" stuff, but the fact was that the apocalypse Jesus and preachers like him proclaimed was of this world and did involve Israel's enemies being swept away by the hand of God. And the Romans had no time for people who preached stuff like that.

This is why he was crucified. gMark is clear that the charge written on the cross was "King of the Jews" - the Romans were ruthless about crucifying pretenders, even if they didn't understand the intricacies of Jewish apocalyptic theology.
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Old 11th August 2012, 08:09 PM   #345
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Originally Posted by TimONeill2 View Post
The trial scenes in the gospels are certainly implausible in many details and this can be traced to gMark's likely context of composition. There are strong indications that gMark was written after 70 AD, and written directly after the First Jewish War (I can go into detail on that if you like). That would have been a very difficult environment in which to be trying to sell a belief in a saviour figure who was a crucified Jew to a Roman audience. So what we can see in gMark and then in the later gospels is a clear attempt to "explain" how Jesus came to be crucified while distancing him as far as possible from Jewish rebels or sedition against Rome.

This is why we have the fiction that Jesus was being accused of blasphemy but handed over to Pilate to get him to do the dirty work of execution. This is nonsense - the Sanhedrin had the power to execute people for blasphemy, so if that was the charge he would have been stoned to death, not crucified. This is also why we get the highly unlikely depiction of Pilate as a reluctant participant who gets bullied into executing Jesus - contrary to everything we know from other sources about this particularly ruthless Roman administrator. And it's why we get the final scene where the first person to acknowledge the crucified Jesus as Yahweh's anointed is not a Jew but the Roman centurion supervisinig the execution (Mark 15:39).

The elements in the trial and execution narratives which are clearly ahistorical all serve the same purpose - to distance Jesus from Jewish sedition, put the blame for his execution on the Jewish leaders and make the story as palatable as possible to a Roman audience.

Which brings us to your question about why he was executed. Despite what gMark and the other gospels claim, it was not "blasphemy" to claim to be the Messiah. gMark does seem to be preserving a historical element when it depicts the trail before the Sanhedrin centring on alleged predictions Jesus made about the fall of the Temple and, given the earlier (rather sanitised) account of Jesus attacking the money-changers, there is solid ground for assuming this was the real beef the Sadducees had with him.

So the idea that they would want to dispose of this Galilean rabble-rouser is at least plausible. As is the idea that they would want to hand him over to Pilate. The Prefect rarely came to Jerusalem, but he did so at Passover because it was a time when the Jews tended to get very worked up about freedom from foreign domination, given that was what the whole festival was about. So Pilate was in town with several cohorts of auxilia and in residence in the Fortress Antonia - right next to the Temple compound. We know from other sources that Pilate took a dim view of any whiff of rebellion and was happy to unleash his troops on civilians to nip any sign of sedition in the bud. So there was a strong incentive for the Sadducees to nab Jesus and hand him over to Pilate before Pilate started killing civilians first and asking questions later. Or never.

As for why Pilate had a problem with Jesus, he was a Roman aristocrat and administrator with no interest in Jewish theology. Jesus' pronouncements about the coming apocalyptic "kingship of God" many have been Jewish gobbledegook to Pilate, but the bit about God sweeping away the oppressors of Israel to establish this imminent eschatological kingdom would not have been. The later Christian traditions played up the "my kingdom is not of this world" stuff, but the fact was that the apocalypse Jesus and preachers like him proclaimed was of this world and did involve Israel's enemies being swept away by the hand of God. And the Romans had no time for people who preached stuff like that.

This is why he was crucified. gMark is clear that the charge written on the cross was "King of the Jews" - the Romans were ruthless about crucifying pretenders, even if they didn't understand the intricacies of Jewish apocalyptic theology.
So Jesus got executed because he violated Roman laws?
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Old 11th August 2012, 08:24 PM   #346
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Originally Posted by tsig View Post
So Jesus got executed because he violated Roman laws?
That's what crucifixion was all about. It was considered the worst possible form of execution and was reserved for pirates, escaped slaves and for rebels against the Empire.
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Old 11th August 2012, 08:40 PM   #347
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Originally Posted by TimONeill2 View Post
I'm "diverting" you? Sorry, but the whole Nazareth thing was first raised by Hans - I simply challenged him to back it up with evidence (partly because it made a nice change from his usual dodging and weaving).
No, Hans brought up many points and you latched on this one because you really don't have arguments regarding the other stuff.

We know from John Frum that an inspired person can try to take on the role of a mythical person in a relatively short time. Again, on every point where we can actually check them the Gospels give us social-political nonsense.

The birth stories are garbage (Luke is better then Matthew but still has huge social-political problems) and the trial-crucifixion is similar social-political impossibility. Everything points to the Gospels being a 2nd century equivalent of dime novesl that used historical person as their main character. Just because Jesse James, Wild Bill Hickok, and Calamity Jane existed doesn't mean any of the dime novels about them are worth beans as history. The same is true of the Gospels Jesus.
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Old 11th August 2012, 08:55 PM   #348
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Originally Posted by maximara View Post
No, Hans brought up many points and you latched on this one because you really don't have arguments regarding the other stuff.
I tackled that one in detail because I was asked to. And stick around - I have plenty of arguments regarding "the other stuff".
Quote:
We know from John Frum that an inspired person can try to take on the role of a mythical person in a relatively short time.
Yes we do. And we also know that historical people can also have supernatural claims about them in a relatively short time as well.
Quote:
Again, on every point where we can actually check them the Gospels give us social-political nonsense.
Not true. There's actually quite a bit in there which makes sense as being historical in origin.

Quote:
The birth stories are garbage (Luke is better then Matthew but still has huge social-political problems)
I'm not sure what "social-political problems" means here, but they certainly have historical problems. The key point here is why they are telling these stories about him. The only point on which they overlap is that they have a guy who grew up in Nazareth being born in Bethlehem, except they tell contradictory and mutually exclusive stories to achieve this. This makes the most sense if they had to do this because Jesus was from Nazareth and they were countering the argument that he couldn't be the Messiah because he was from the wrong town in the wrong part of Jewish territory. Do you have an alternative explanation?

Quote:
and the trial-crucifixion is similar social-political impossibility.
Though as I argued for davefoc above, it contains elements under the implausible elements that make sense (and were awkward for the gospel writers).

Quote:
Everything points to the Gospels being a 2nd century equivalent of dime novesl that used historical person as their main character. Just because Jesse James, Wild Bill Hickok, and Calamity Jane existed doesn't mean any of the dime novels about them are worth beans as history. The same is true of the Gospels Jesus.
A bold assertion. "Everything" doesn't actually point that way at all.
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Old 11th August 2012, 09:17 PM   #349
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Originally Posted by TimONeill2 View Post
That's what crucifixion was all about. It was considered the worst possible form of execution and was reserved for pirates, escaped slaves and for rebels against the Empire.
Right, but the question is did it really happen or was it created so the Jesus portrayed matched Paul's earlier accounts?

As I stated before

"The (Christ) myth theory is not concerned to deny such a possibility (of there being a flesh and blood Jesus being behind the Gospels story). What the (Christ) myth theory denies is that Christianity can be traced to a personal founder who taught as reported in the Gospels and was put to death in the circumstances there recorded."

As I said before you could have a Jesus who was born c 12 BCE in the small town of Cana, who preached a few words of wisdom to small crowds of no more than 10 people at a time, and died due to being run over by a chariot at the age of 50 but it would still make the Gospel Jesus mythical and nonhistorical because this historical Jesus did not teach as reported in the Gospels nor was put to death in the circumstances there recorded.

Again we go back to Biblical scholar I. Howard Marshall's two ways Jesus could be historical which TimONeill2 and those like him avoid like the plague:

1. Jesus existed, rather than being a totally fictional creation like King Lear or Dr. Who,

or

2. The Gospels accounts give a reasonable account of historical events, rather than being unverifiable legends such as those surrounding King Arthur.


Note Marshall is saying totally fictional creation not fictionalized. The idea that the Gospels are a fictionalized account of Jesus makes Jesus non-historical under Marshall's second definition much the same way as Shakespeare's Richard III is non-historical.

No sane person argues that Richard III himself didn't exist but similarly no sane person argues that Shakespeare's version is historical.

Another even more extreme example is Vlad III of Wallachia who is better know today by his last name: Dracula. Stoker's version and the real Dracula are two totally different people connected largely by description and name.

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Old 11th August 2012, 09:31 PM   #350
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Originally Posted by maximara View Post
Right, but the question is did it really happen or was it created so the Jesus portrayed matched Paul's earlier accounts?
And Paul's earlier accounts are based on ... ?


Quote:
As I said before you could have a Jesus who was born c 12 BCE in the small town of Cana, who preached a few words of wisdom to small crowds of no more than 10 people at a time, and died due to being run over by a chariot at the age of 50 but it would still make the Gospel Jesus mythical and nonhistorical because this historical Jesus did not teach as reported in the Gospels nor was put to death in the circumstances there recorded.
If the historical Jesus was born in Cana etc, why didn't the later stories describe all that or something close to it rather than the stories we have?

Quote:
Again we go back to Biblical scholar I. Howard Marshall's two ways Jesus could be historical which TimONeill2 and those like him avoid like the plague:
Who are you talking to? You can address me directly - I'm right here.

Quote:
1. Jesus existed, rather than being a totally fictional creation like King Lear or Dr. Who,

or

2. The Gospels accounts give a reasonable account of historical events, rather than being unverifiable legends such as those surrounding King Arthur.
What exactly am I supposedly "avoiding" here?
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Old 11th August 2012, 10:35 PM   #351
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Originally Posted by TimONeill2 View Post
[general discussion about the implausibility of the gospel trial descriptions]

Which brings us to your question about why he was executed. Despite what gMark and the other gospels claim, it was not "blasphemy" to claim to be the Messiah. gMark does seem to be preserving a historical element when it depicts the trail before the Sanhedrin centring on alleged predictions Jesus made about the fall of the Temple and, given the earlier (rather sanitised) account of Jesus attacking the money-changers, there is solid ground for assuming this was the real beef the Sadducees had with him.

So the idea that they would want to dispose of this Galilean rabble-rouser is at least plausible. As is the idea that they would want to hand him over to Pilate. The Prefect rarely came to Jerusalem, but he did so at Passover because it was a time when the Jews tended to get very worked up about freedom from foreign domination, given that was what the whole festival was about. So Pilate was in town with several cohorts of auxilia and in residence in the Fortress Antonia - right next to the Temple compound. We know from other sources that Pilate took a dim view of any whiff of rebellion and was happy to unleash his troops on civilians to nip any sign of sedition in the bud. So there was a strong incentive for the Sadducees to nab Jesus and hand him over to Pilate before Pilate started killing civilians first and asking questions later. Or never.

As for why Pilate had a problem with Jesus, he was a Roman aristocrat and administrator with no interest in Jewish theology. Jesus' pronouncements about the coming apocalyptic "kingship of God" many have been Jewish gobbledegook to Pilate, but the bit about God sweeping away the oppressors of Israel to establish this imminent eschatological kingdom would not have been. The later Christian traditions played up the "my kingdom is not of this world" stuff, but the fact was that the apocalypse Jesus and preachers like him proclaimed was of this world and did involve Israel's enemies being swept away by the hand of God. And the Romans had no time for people who preached stuff like that.

This is why he was crucified. gMark is clear that the charge written on the cross was "King of the Jews" - the Romans were ruthless about crucifying pretenders, even if they didn't understand the intricacies of Jewish apocalyptic theology.
This sounds like a Jesus was a rebel theory. And you make it sound plausible, but there are difficulties. Jesus has to be famous enough that Pilate would give a crap about him but not so famous that anybody wrote about him in his own time. Alternatively, if I understand Eisenman's theory, he believes that the rebel sect that Jesus was a part of (perhaps the leader?) was mentioned in Jesus' own time, it is just that they didn't call themselves something that is easily identified as the Jesus group we identify with the gospels.

Either way, your post suggests a level of confidence in your own views that doesn't seem justifiable to me by the available evidence. Yes, something like that might have happened but you have inferred it from a text for which you are disregarding most of the content. I am skeptical that anything is knowable about first century Christianity with that degree of confidence.
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Old 11th August 2012, 10:51 PM   #352
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Originally Posted by maximara View Post
...

"The (Christ) myth theory is not concerned to deny such a possibility (of there being a flesh and blood Jesus being behind the Gospels story). What the (Christ) myth theory denies is that Christianity can be traced to a personal founder who taught as reported in the Gospels and was put to death in the circumstances there recorded."
I know you said something like this earlier. The problem with it with regards to this thread is that most of the people participating in this thread, including perhaps even TimONeill2, would be in the Christ myth camp if the Christ myth theory is defined as you do. I suspect nobody participating in this thread believes that Christianity was founded by a charismatic influential Jesus character whose message was so powerful that it led to a new religion.

FWIW, that's what I assumed when I first began to look into early Christian history seven or so years ago. The questions I was trying to get an answer to were how was this guy so charismatic that he could inspire people not local to him to join a new religion and why if he was that powerfully influential didn't he inspire the people living near him to be part of that religion. I quickly came to understand that my question contained a faulty assumption. i.e. Jesus didn't create Christianity which is what I think anybody that has studied this a bit and that has a non-religious world view comes to understand almost immediately when they look into it.
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Old 11th August 2012, 10:56 PM   #353
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Originally Posted by davefoc View Post
This sounds like a Jesus was a rebel theory.
Well, not exactly. There was almost certainly a socio-political element to his eschatological ideas about the coming kingship/"kingdom" of Yahweh (there usually is in millenarian movements), but I can't see much to indicate that Jesus was preaching a Bar Kokhba-style uprising against the Romans. He is depicted as preaching that Yahweh was going to intervene in history and very soon. This involved, amongst other things, the enemies of Israel being swept away by Yahweh and his angels. As far as the Romans were concerned, this was sedition even if he wasn't preaching an armed uprising.

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And you make it sound plausible, but there are difficulties. Jesus has to be famous enough that Pilate would give a crap about him but not so famous that anybody wrote about him in his own time.
In other words, exactly like the other such preacher-prophets we know about from the same period. Several of them seem to have been much more significant than Jesus. In 36 AD a Samaritan prophet claimed he was going to perform a miracle on Mount Gerizim and "a great multitude" (Josephus, Antiquities, XVIII: 85-87) assembled to rally to him. Pilate certainly "gave a crap" about this guy and attacked him and his followers with both cavalry and heavy infantry. He was significant enough for the Romans to need to mobilise troops, yet no-one wrote about him in his own time either.

Ditto for the Egyptian prophet (Josephus, XX: 169-171) and for Theudas (Josephus XX: 97-98). Both were a far bigger deal than Jesus and both had to have troops mobilised against them yet neither of them were written about in their own time. Therefore we should have no expectation that Jesus, who was much less of a big deal it seems, should be mentioned by contemporary sources if these three were not.

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Alternatively, if I understand Eisenman's theory, he believes that the rebel sect that Jesus was a part of (perhaps the leader?) was mentioned in Jesus' own time, it is just that they didn't call themselves something that is easily identified as the Jesus group we identify with the gospels.
Yes, well let's just say that Eisenman's stuff isn't exactly well regarded.

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Either way, your post suggests a level of confidence in your own views that doesn't seem justifiable to me by the available evidence. Yes, something like that might have happened but you have inferred it from a text for which you are disregarding most of the content. I am skeptical that anything is knowable about first century Christianity with that degree of confidence.
I put a lot of the appropriate and usual "perhapses" etc in there. But I was giving a bald summary. I can elaborate on how and why these things are likely. Tell me which parts in particular you found unjustifiable and I'll go into detail on those points.

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Old 11th August 2012, 11:14 PM   #354
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Originally Posted by TimONeill2 View Post
...


I put a lot of the appropriate and usual "perhapses" etc in there. But I was giving a bald summary. I can elaborate on how and why these things are likely. Tell me which parts in particular you found unjustifiable and I'll go into detail on those points.
I just reread your post and I only noticed one "perhapses" equivocation. I would have been more comfortable with your post if you had at least two "perhapses". Still, I like the the theory. Jesus is rabble rouser sort of fellow. Some Jewish religious leaders don't like him, they trump up some anti empire crimes by Jesus and they turn him over to Pilate as a kill two birds with one stone strategy. They get rid of Jesus and they mollify Pilate.

It seems like the most likely possibility given what we know, but my guess is that it didn't happen that way. I don't think we know enough to make reliable guesses about this and there are a lot of possibilities, many of which we don't know enough about to know that they are even a possibility.
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Old 11th August 2012, 11:21 PM   #355
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Originally Posted by davefoc View Post
It seems like the most likely possibility given what we know, but my guess is that it didn't happen that way. I don't think we know enough to make reliable guesses about this and there are a lot of possibilities, many of which we don't know enough about to know that they are even a possibility.
We can only use the material available to us. But I'm not sure I understand how you juggle "it seems most likely" and "but my guess is it didn't happen that way". What exactly is that guess based on?
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Old 12th August 2012, 12:34 AM   #356
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Originally Posted by TimONeill2 View Post
We can only use the material available to us. But I'm not sure I understand how you juggle "it seems most likely" and "but my guess is it didn't happen that way". What exactly is that guess based on?
I meant that of the possibilities I am aware of it seems like the most likely, but my guess is that the sum of all the other possibilities (known and not known by me) is greater than this particular one. I really don't know though, perhaps people more informed about this than myself really have sussed out a reasonable approximation of the truth and I just don't recognize it.

I would like to restate your scenario to make sure I understand it:

Jesus is a minor rabble rouser that is involved to a degree in pushing for Jewish independence from the Romans. The Jewish religious leaders decide to turn him over to Pilate because they are looking to curry favor with Pilate by turning over malcontents and possibly because Jesus is pissing them off by promoting religious ideas that conflict with their livelihood.

I guess my main objection to this idea is that it involves speculation not directly backed by evidence. It is just a read between the lines attempt to try to figure out what really happened idea and even if that is the best fit scenario for the information that we have, we don't have the luxury of finding out whether we're close or not because the available reliable evidence is so limited about all this.

The fact that the gospels are largely fiction and are written by people displaced in time, location and language by the events in question makes me skeptical about any inferences drawn about the true nature of Jesus and the events of his life from the NT.
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Old 12th August 2012, 12:57 AM   #357
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Originally Posted by TimONeill2 View Post
If the historical Jesus was born in Cana etc, why didn't the later stories describe all that or something close to it rather than the stories we have?
But that's exactly a begging the question fallacy. To get that the Gospels would describe exactly where Jesus is from, you need to assume that the Gospels were reliable and accurate in the first place. But that is exactly the question. You can't support gospel accuracy by implicitly assuming accuracy in the first place.

That, in a nutshell, is also why historians like to have corroborating evidence. You can support the idea that source X is accurate at all about event Y, by the fact that an independent and at least somewhat reliable source Z describes the same event Y. You can't support the accuracy of source X by ASSUMING just that as a premise.
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Old 12th August 2012, 01:12 AM   #358
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Originally Posted by davefoc View Post
I would like to restate your scenario to make sure I understand it:

Jesus is a minor rabble rouser that is involved to a degree in pushing for Jewish independence from the Romans.
Ummm, no. He's a minor rabble rouser who preaches that the end of the world is coming any day now. Or rather the end of this world. There was a belief at the time that the Jews had been allowed to be oppressed by a succession of conquerors because of their unfaithfulness to Yahweh. But it was believed that some time soon Yahweh would raise up an "anointed one" (which is what "Messiah" means) who would usher in the day when Yahweh reasserts his power in the world, destroy the oppressors of Isreal, raise the dead for a final judgement, cast those regarded as unrighteous into Hell and then rule a renewed creation through his Messiah. All of Jesus' teachings are about this coming "kingship of Yahweh, which is rendered "kingdom of God" or "kingdom of Heaven" in the gospels.

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The Jewish religious leaders decide to turn him over to Pilate because they are looking to curry favor with Pilate by turning over malcontents
They turn him over because Pilate was known for group reprisals in response to any kind of unrest, even simple protests.

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and possibly because Jesus is pissing them off by promoting religious ideas that conflict with their livelihood.
More like their religio-political authority, actually.

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I guess my main objection to this idea is that it involves speculation not directly backed by evidence.
Er, no it doesn't. It's right there in the accounts we have.
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It is just a read between the lines attempt to try to figure out what really happened idea and even if that is the best fit scenario for the information that we have, we don't have the luxury of finding out whether we're close or not because the available reliable evidence is so limited about all this.
Yes, that's the study of ancient history.

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The fact that the gospels are largely fiction and are written by people displaced in time, location and language by the events in question makes me skeptical about any inferences drawn about the true nature of Jesus and the events of his life from the NT.
"Largely fiction" is an assumption. And as ancient source material goes, a mere handful of decades after the fact is actually better than we usually have.
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Old 12th August 2012, 01:32 AM   #359
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Originally Posted by davefoc View Post
You've touched on two topics, that I wanted to comment on.

Aramaic in the NT
This is an interesting area that I don't know much about. I hope there will be further discussion on this topic.
There are a couple of instances where it makes sense that it comes from Aramaic or Hebrew. Bearing in mind that the two languages were so similar that most of the time if someone tries to nail it as exactly Aramaic or exactly Hebrew, they're overstating it.

Edit: in modern terms, imagine I had a halluci... err... vision, and wrote about an Italian messiah, based on some phrases out of context... err... "prophecies" in the Vulgate. For some things you might be able to tell whether my English phrase can't come from modern Italian, or can't come from classical Latin, but for a whole lot of stuff you wouldn't be able to really tell which. That's pretty much the problem with Hebrew vs Aramaic.

But it's kinda important to remember that, because a lot of claims boil down to, "it comes from Aramaic, therefore Jesus said it", which, in a addition to the obvious problem, is begging the question in identifying the language as Aramaic. The reasoning assumes that it was said in Palestine, where Aramaic was the language and Hebrew was just a dead liturgical language, as opposed to coming from some non-canon "prophecy" in Hebrew that can't originate with Jesus.

Anyway, probably the most obvious is the "son of man" phrase which later the church took as a title for the Messiah. (And we even saw someone on this forum claiming that Jesus was claiming a greater title with that than even son of god) But actually in BOTH Aramaic and Hebrew, "son of man" was just a sort of kenning for "man". They used it for more than "man" though. E.g., "the son of a donkey" construct worked the same.

So for example when Mark makes Jesus say, in Mark 2:27-28:
27. Then he said to them, "The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.

28. So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath."
It really makes no logical sense. But in Aramaic or Hebrew it would just mean "The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So man is Lord even of the Sabbath." The "son of man" was just a literary device to avoid repeating "man" ad nauseam. Ah-ha. Now it makes sense. But it suddenly stopped being some claim about Jesus's authority over Sabbath, and it's just a generic way of saying, "screw this, it's ok to break the Sabbath."

That said, the criterion is often abused for Jesus alone to mean something it really doesn't: support a character as true.

Actually the criterion is a solid and rational one to EXCLUDE stuff that couldn't have been said in a particular language. E.g., John's "born again" conversation is based on a pun that only worked that way in Greek, and would definitely not worked that way in Aramaic. So we can be pretty sure that it wouldn't have been said in a conversation in Aramaic.

The criterion is used to flag something as probably FALSE, not to support it as probably TRUE.

The reason is pretty obvious. Using an expression that came from another language, doesn't actually mean that one can narrow who said it, or even that it was actually said by anyone else than the author writing that stuff. E.g., just because Pitr from the User Friendly web-comic uses the occasional Russian words or stereotypical Russian constructs, doesn't mean that there was a historical Pitr actually saying that.

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Old 12th August 2012, 02:01 AM   #360
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Mostly I'm prepared to agree to disagree with the faith that you have that it is possible to derive reliable information out of the NT gospels, but a few responses:

The study of very early Christian history is like other ancient history study
There is a huge difference. People that are studied from ancient history were usually famous in their own time. Usually there is no doubt that they existed and they did things that had to be done by somebody so that even if they didn't exist somebody did the acts attributed to them. It is likely that Jesus did nothing that made him particularly famous in his own time and we have no corroboration outside the NT that most of the things reported in the NT happened. Stuff written well after his death by people separated by language, distance and time from a hypothetical Jesus character are particularly unreliable sources when there is no way to corroborate their claims and their claims are made as part of an effort to promote a new religion.

The NT is largely fictional
You seem to be raising some kind of semantic point that I don't get on this. The birth narrative is generally believed to be complete fiction. All the supernatural events didn't happen. At the least the long passages that purportedly contain Jesus speeches are likely to be fictional given the inability of people to record speeches. Where the gospels conflict with each other at most only one is accurate. Some of the passages contain conversations that the author couldn't possibly have overheard. Every aspect of the trial narrative is suspect. There are conflicts with geography. The genealogy stuff is almost certainly made up. The stuff about the twelve apostles is probably fictional. There is not much left of the gospels after all the probably false material is removed and given that, it seems like characterizing them as largely fictional would be correct by any normal meaning of that expression.
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