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Old 20th December 2012, 08:33 PM   #81
Blue Mountain
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Originally Posted by Delvo View Post
He's supposed to have been a rabbi, so the relevant question is not the literacy rate among Jews, but the literacy rate among rabbis. And that must have been 100% because it's a job requirement.
Interesting. I recall one place in the gospels where Jesus was called "Rabbi" by a follower, but by trade he was a carpenter, quite possibly carrying on his father's business. Since there is no mention of Joseph in the gospels once Jesus started his mission, it's assumed Joseph had died some time after Jesus turned twelve. Jesus, being the eldest son, would likely have learned the trade from his father and inherited the business.
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Old 21st December 2012, 12:17 AM   #82
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Originally Posted by Delvo View Post
He's supposed to have been a rabbi, so the relevant question is not the literacy rate among Jews, but the literacy rate among rabbis. And that must have been 100% because it's a job requirement.
I don't accept that. If Jesus was addressed as "Rabbi" by his followers, this was most probably as a courtesy due to a respected teacher rather than an acknowledgement that he was a qualified professional minister of religion. This usage of the term was common, then and later. Here is a reference to a tenth century example from the "Khazar correspondence".
http://www.reformation.org/13th-trib...spondence.html
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We have seen among some other manuscripts the copy of a letter which King Joseph, son of Aaron, the Khazar priest wrote to R. Hasdai bar Isaac.(... The R (for Rabbi) is a courtesy title.)
In fact, Hasdai was, according to wiki, a "scholar, physician, diplomat, and patron of science."

Jesus' being addressed as Rabbi by his followers is thus not conclusive proof of his literacy.

Last edited by Craig B; 21st December 2012 at 12:18 AM. Reason: Typo.
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Old 21st December 2012, 01:09 AM   #83
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Originally Posted by Doctor Plop View Post
...because he couldn't move his hands.
I think you've nailed it.
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Old 21st December 2012, 08:06 AM   #84
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Originally Posted by Darat View Post
I think you've nailed it.
Yes, He really hammered that point home.

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Old 21st December 2012, 01:49 PM   #85
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
It depends on what flavour of mythicism you're addressing, actually. Currently, yes, the most aggressive and vocal variant is that Jesus was for Paul an entirely celestial beings that never existed on Earth, etc. Now I cannot dismiss that, mind you, but I'm more in the camp of the original meaning of MJ, which probably nowadays would be more recognizably called the Legendary Jesus: <snip>
I think your post sets down the problem very well. There are a "mythical" and a "legendary" Jesus indeed. We are not far apart as regards the legendary Jesus. But I have a real difficulty with the "Jesus myth" as described in the passage cited below. I don't think there ever was such a belief regarding Jesus in the mind of Paul or any other early Christian. They believed rightly or wrongly in a real person. http://www.rationalresponders.com/fo..._campaign/2901
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As Doherty argues, "Jesus Christ" (which means "The Anointed Savior") was originally a heavenly being, whose atoning death took place at the hands of demonic beings in a supernatural realm halfway between heaven and earth, a sublunar sphere where he assumed a fleshly, quasi-human form. This and the rest of the "gospel" was revealed to the first Christians in visions and inspirations and through the discovery of hidden messages in the scriptures ... [Later] a new cult arose with the belief that Jesus actually came to earth and was crucified by Jews with the complicity of the Roman authorities.
As an analogy. There may or may not have been a person behind the King Arthur stories. But even if there was not, that doesn't imply that some proponents of the myth believed Arthur to have been a purely celestial or spiritual figure, who never visited earth physically, and that the Saxons he fought and defeated in battle were in fact malign spiritual powers dwelling in a non-physical domain. Nobody ever believed that of Arthur, so if that is "mythicism", let us abandon the term and use your "legendary" in its place.
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Old 21st December 2012, 04:55 PM   #86
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Well, as I was saying, I'm not a big fan myself of the Doherty/Carrier/etc kind of mythicism, so I'm probably not the person to defend it. I can see how it's at least possible, though, so I can't argue in good faith against it either.

The thing is, yes, some characters ARE euhemerized.

E.g., Odin or Thor have not much reason to be considered originally humans, nor did Saxo have any documents to point that way. Yet he writes whole tawdry stories about Odin and his unfaithful wife as humans. If you had only those stories, you'd probably go, 'oh, he wouldn't make that kind of stuff out of thin air' about that too. But the fact is that he did just that.

E.g., as probably the most ridiculous example of euhemerization, because (I'm told) in Romanian "Saint" and "Holy" are the same word, the Holy Wednesday and Holy Friday (you know, the days of the week that they were supposed to fast on) are euhemerized as what we'd more properly translate as Saint Wednesday and Saint Friday in a whole buttload of folk stories. That is, they appear as actual people that the hero of the story meets, talks to, receives assistance from, and so on. They literally euhemerized two days of the week as real people.

I think you can't top that, really. Whenever you meet some character that you think, 'nah, they wouldn't euhemerize that one', well, remember those two. Whatever character you're thinking of, chances are it ain't worse than those two.

And more to the point, I really don't see why that couldn't happen the same for Arthur. Well, we don't know of any figure in the sky to support that, but, really, as a hypothetical exercise, there is nothing to say that people couldn't euhemerize some mythical hero as a heroic king. After all, again, Saxo did literally that with Odin.

And of course, not everything in a story has to be mythical just because one hero is. E.g., King John isn't mythical too, although the modern version of Robin Hood is having a fictive character as a hero. The same could theoretically apply to Arthur too, IF he is made up. Clearly the Romans and Celts were overrun by very real Saxons, and stories set into that period would of course be about the real Celts and Saxons. But you can still make up a character to play the lead role in that story.
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Old 22nd December 2012, 12:44 AM   #87
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
Well, as I was saying, I'm not a big fan myself of the Doherty/Carrier/etc kind of mythicism, so I'm probably not the person to defend it. I can see how it's at least possible, though, so I can't argue in good faith against it either.
I think you can. The burden of proof lies with believers in a historical Jesus, to produce evidence of his reality. The burden of proof equally falls on the Doherty etc mythicists to provide evidence for their suppositions. It may be that both fail this test. Thus, neither a real Jesus nor a mythical Jesus (in the positive and elaborate Doherty sense) can be established. We are left, as you say, with legend; that is, with stories which can be shown to have circulated at various places and times.

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Old 22nd December 2012, 01:30 AM   #88
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Well, pretty much that summarizes my position. Both the historical Jesus of Ehrman and others, and the celestial being of Doherty and others, are both very much possible and very much failing to have enough evidence.
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Old 22nd December 2012, 06:29 PM   #89
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Originally Posted by sleepy_lioness View Post
There are references to the Name traditions in the New Testament. Perhaps the most famous is Philippians 2: 9:

'Therefore God also highly exalted him [Jesus] and gave him the name that is above every name ...' To a Jew such as Paul, this was clearly Yahweh. There is a strong argument that this passage of Philippians is a pre-existing hymn or song of praise which Paul is quoting, but in any case, it shows that both Paul and early Christians knew of the Jewish traditions of the Name and also, more shockingly for Jews, applied it to Jesus.

There are some very long and boring arguments in the scholarship about the titles applied to Jesus in the New Testament. He is frequently called 'Kurios', which translates the Hebrew 'Adonai'. Kurios is the word generally used to render the Tetragrammaton in the Septuagint, and Adonai is how it was pronouced in Hebrew when the Bible was read out (most people think) and I think most people consider that the early Christians knew what they were doing when they applied it to Jesus: they were assigning him a divine title. Some argue that, as with the English words 'Lord' or 'Sir', their use is simply a mark of respect. But I think that this is a weak argument, since many of the references are steeped in an Old Testament background, notably from the Psalms. Psalm 110:1 ('The Lord [Yahweh, translated as kurios] said to my Lord [Adonai, translated as kurios], sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool') is, I think I'm right in saying, the most frequently quoted OT passage in the New Testament. Cf Matthew 22: 43-45 for one instance. In all of these, it's clear that Jesus is being referred to with one of the names of God. And these are names that were at least sometimes euphemisms for the Tetragrammaton. I don't think any Biblical scholar would agree that the New Testament writers didn't know the traditions about the Tetragrammaton; I've certainly never heard that argument.

I also don't think it's really possible to argue that the New Testament isn't deeply Jewish. See the recent Jewish Annotated New Testament for details of just how Jewish beliefs and culture run through the whole thing. I think I've already mentioned just how 'Semitic' a lot of the Greek is (particularly Mark); it's less fashionable these days than it used to be to posit an Aramaic original underlying the Gospels, but it certainly seems that their writers were used to Hebrew and Aramaic texts (such as the Septuagint) and used those languages themselves. Paul says he is a Jew, a Pharisee, and he really must have been to know all the stuff he knows and think the way he thinks (for instance, on purity and pollution, a deeply Jewish way of thinking). As I also said upthread, that the New Testament is deeply Jewish doesn't mean it isn't also Greek, since Hellenism was so pervasive, even in Palestine, at this period. There's no neat boundary between the two.
I wanted to address this too, because I feel that the "Jewishness" of the NT Greek is usually grossly overstated. Words are taken to mean some Hebrew or Aramaic connection often for no reason than that you could translate them to Hebrew or Aramaic too, or that you'd use them to translate some Aramaic word. Which is is bogus enough to kinda start to irk me.

Point in case: Kurios.

Well, Kurios in Greek meant "lord", although probably more exactly, "master" or "owner". As in master vs slave. Someone who either literally owns you, or has enough rights over you that he might as well own you. A subcase being "guardian" (which at the time was much more of a master than you're nowadays to your kids.)

It comes from "kuros", meaning pretty much "supremacy." So "kurios" is one who has such supremacy over another or over some inanimate thing.

The word can be applied to a noble or king (e.g., the Roman Emperor would be called "kurios" by the Greeks, as Josephus tells us) but it could mean as little as one's father or legal guardian. or to the guy who owns something. E.g., for an unmarried woman, her father or if orphan her brother would be her "kurios". E.g., for some plot of land, the owner was a "kurios".

It's not just some wild guess by those pesky mythicists, it's what the word actually MEANT.

Even in the NT, it's used often enough for someone who is not God. Again, it's not some rationalization by those denying some imaginary Jewishness of the text, it's what the text actually says. E.g.,Matthew 25:18-21:
"But the man who had received the one talent went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master's money. After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. The man who had received the five talents brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five talents. See, I have gained five more.’ His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’ "
All those highlighted words are "kurios". I could quote the rest of the parable, which has half a dozen more "kurios", but you can check it out for yourself if you want to.

Or John 13:15:
I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.
Again, we have a use of "kurios" for something very different than God.

Or to illustrate how it worked for inanimate things too, and simple ownership, here's what Matthew 20:8 says:
"When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, 'Call the workers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last ones hired and going on to the first.'
It may not be obvious in English, but that's the "kurios" of the vineyard in the Greek text. Go figure. (Incidentally Mark too uses the same "kurios" of the vineyard construct in his own story.)

Paul himself, although he does use "Lord" predominantly for Jesus, in Galatians 4:1 pulls a:
What I am saying is that as long as the heir is a child, he is no different from a slave, although he's the owner of the whole estate.
Yep, that "owner" is a "kurios".

And so on and so forth. It's probably too long a message already, but basically "kurios" was not "adonai", and it's not inherently some divine title. There is no inherent divinity or even royalty in owning a vineyard or inheriting an estate.

In fact, actually I'd say that, on the contrary, not only that doesn't necessarily indicate a connection to Adonai, but actually most of the NT writers don't seem to stick to the same convention at all. They have no problem naming their Lord (Jesus), or using constructs like Lord Jesus which have no parallels to the use of Adonai. They also have no problem saying "God" all over the place.

I'd say that far from being the same use as Adonai, which was used as a substitution, as a way to avoid using God's name, in the NT it's mostly just a title.

Now don't get me wrong, I would assume they were familiar with the OT, or at least with the Septuagint translation, the way they quote mine it and reproduce even the translation errors from that one, but basically that's where the supportable connection ends. Just because they toss "kurios" left and right, it doesn't mean they're using it exactly as in the Jewish use of "adonai".
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Old 22nd December 2012, 06:43 PM   #90
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I just watched a movie called Stigmata on amazon that suggests that there is such a gospel of Christ was found in 1945 that was declared heresy by the Catholic church. Now if the movie didn't make the son of man out to be such an ass it would have been better. On the other hand I found the movie in the horror section so take it for what it's worth.
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Old 22nd December 2012, 06:50 PM   #91
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Originally Posted by gabeygoat View Post
Assuming he even existed, why wouldn't he write some stuff down?
I'm reading a great book on the Apocropha, "Lost Christianities: The Battles for Scripture and the Faiths We Never Knew" by Bart D. Ehrman. In it, he mentions the obvious fact that all the gospels, canonical or not, were written long after Jesus, and that there are no writings done by Jesus himself. I suppose most people were illiterate at the time, but, I mean, He's supposed to be God. Surely he could jot down a nice Cliff Notes version of what He intended to say?
As with the Dead Sea Scrolls case, his writings are yet to be discovered. That option goes right by some atheists as unacceptable, because arguably the majority of atheists profoundly believe in non-existence of Jesus. Hence no scribbly-scribbly.
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Old 22nd December 2012, 07:00 PM   #92
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the movie referred to the gospel of thomas as being the gospel of christ in that it purports to contain the direct words of christ as he spoke them. It is not a gnostic work apparently even though it was found with gnostic works. Here's the wiki in case anybody cares.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gospel_of_Thomas
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Old 22nd December 2012, 08:59 PM   #93
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If you put nothing down on paper, they can't subpoena it to use against you.
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Old 22nd December 2012, 09:10 PM   #94
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Originally Posted by epix View Post
As with the Dead Sea Scrolls case, his writings are yet to be discovered. That option goes right by some atheists as unacceptable, because arguably the majority of atheists profoundly believe in non-existence of Jesus. Hence no scribbly-scribbly.
An interesting possibility, but like so many it suffers by the fact that it uses things that have been discovered as if they were evidence for the things that have not.
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Old 23rd December 2012, 07:18 AM   #95
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Originally Posted by epix View Post
As with the Dead Sea Scrolls case, his writings are yet to be discovered. That option goes right by some atheists as unacceptable, because arguably the majority of atheists profoundly believe in non-existence of Jesus. Hence no scribbly-scribbly.
There is a fine difference between being a sceptic and being a contrarian. For some of us what is unacceptable -- and not just about Jesus -- is just postulating to somehow "know" something without evidence.

Which, incidentally, also applies to what you wrote above. As you say, any such writings have not been discovered as of yet. I.e., the evidence for either the existence of them or for how we'd react is non-existent. You don't really know how we'd react to something that hasn't actually happened. Even if you took a poll, people often answer something else than when they'd actually do.

Plus, it doesn't add up in any form or shape to, "Hence no scribbly-scribbly." The only reason there is no scribbly-scribbly, is that no scribbly-scribbly has been ever found. It's not like any kind of faith or attitude towards truth on our part would actually cause such a document to materialize out of thin air. Reality doesn't change in response to your or our beliefs or wishes.

Well, unless one of us is Q (from Star Trek, not the hypothetical NT doument)
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Old 23rd December 2012, 07:35 AM   #96
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Originally Posted by epix View Post
As with the Dead Sea Scrolls case, his writings are yet to be discovered.
You mean, no such writings have ever been discovered.
Quote:
That option goes right by some atheists as unacceptable, because arguably the majority of atheists profoundly believe in non-existence of Jesus. Hence no scribbly-scribbly.
Not at all. The majority of atheists do not positively believe in the non-existence of Jesus. Dawkins tends to believe in such existence, and so did Christopher Hitchens. I incline, without much tenacity I admit, to the view that he existed. As a human being. So if the scribbly turns up, I will be fascinated. (If it also proves him to be God, I will be even more fascinated.)

ETA. Suppose a writing from Paul is discovered (and we know he did write things) revealing, it's all nonsense, I just made the revelation story up to get cash from credulous idiots. What would you say about that? (That Paul liked getting cash from his followers is revealed in 1 Corinthians.)

ETA2. It's in chapter 9.

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Old 23rd December 2012, 09:38 AM   #97
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That Paul REALLY liked collecting money is all over the place. In 2 Corinthians he spends most of the latter arguing how they should trust him with donations to some unspecified churches because he's suffered so much for Jesus, because SOME kind of incident on his previous visit apparently made them think twice. (Also, strangely, he doesn't offer to settle it by bringing a receipt or something.) In Phillippians, he had just got their generous donation through an evoy named Epaphroditus.

(Incidentally, Epaphroditus is called an "apostolos" in that role, showing that, as I was saying elsewhere, for Paul an "apostolos" was just an "envoy.")

Conversely, in 2 Thessalonians, he mentions that he paid in full himself for all his expenses... and you kinda have to wonder with what money, if he doesn't really have a trade other than preaching around any more. Paul obviously has the money for those trips and staying there, so, you know, it must be from some other churches' contributions.

On the other hand, such insistence that he doesn't expect anyone to pay for him, is found in 2 Corinthians too, where, hey, he's not asking for your money... except that he does, and that's what the whole argument is about. So I wouldn't necessarily take it as being any different in Thessalonika. It may well be just part of his con act.

It's also quite symptomatic that while we find references to Paul getting donation money, there are none to his giving it to anyone. There is no epistle that says, "I'm bringing you donation money, 'cause you guys are poor." Or what to do with the money he brought. No, really, it's weird.

Furthermore, for someone who is supposedly all for collecting money for the needy, we have an instance where Paul's attitude to those who are needy is... shocking, to say, the least. In 2 Thessalonians 3:10 (and arguably the whole point of the whole chapter) we see him go: "For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: “If a man will not work, he shall not eat."" And in 3:6 and 14 he tells them to stay away from the unemployed, basically. In 12 he says they `(the unemployed) should just earn the bread they eat.

Which is an odd example of Christian charity, but more importantly it brings the question of where the hell do the money go that Paul collects for charity. If his attitude towards the poor is that they should just earn their bread, and even tells his congregation to stay away from those and avoid those... you know, I have trouble imagining him actually giving to any poor, if the one city in his epistles with such a problem just gets told to get to work. If the poor should just get to work, then who IS getting the donation money and for what?
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Old 23rd December 2012, 10:52 AM   #98
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Hans

What about Galatians 2:9-10 as an example of Paul's charitable generosity?
Quote:
9 James, Cephas and John, those esteemed as pillars, gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship when they recognized the grace given to me. They agreed that we should go to the Gentiles, and they to the circumcised. 10 All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I had been eager to do all along.
So he's even "eager" to give it all away, or to remember to do so at least.

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Old 23rd December 2012, 11:42 AM   #99
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Well, he says all over the place that he's not taking the money for himself, and he's eager to help the poor (e.g., those vague and unspecified churches in the east). But then again, do you think he'd get anything if he said otherwise? I don't think we can distinguish between an honest charity and a con that way. I mean, the con will also not say up front "gimme money 'cause I want to stay at the Ritz"

What we do see though is that in Thessalonika obviously they had some jobless people who were living off the charity of Paul's church. I.e., it's about time to remember what he was eager to do. But Paul not only doesn't offer to help, but tells them to get a job and tells the congregation to just avoid those poor. In terms as brutal as that that otherwise those poor just shouldn't eat.

It's like Paul The Charitable, who's all for collecting money for the poor, eager even, as long as at the intention level or it's in some unspecified other place and otherwise completely unverifiable... turns into Paul The Hardline Teabagger, when a city actually has a problem that would need some of that money. Then suddenly those beggars shouldn't even eat, if they can't earn their own bread.

I dunno, man... there seems to be... shall we say... a profound disconnect between those stated intentions, and what his attitude turns into when one of his churches actually sounds like it has a poverty problem. Then not only he doesn't offer to give anything, but he instructs his flock to not just refrain from giving, but avoid those unemployed guys altogether.

Surely if some preacher these days pulled that kind of "have nothing to do with the unemployed" speech to his congregation, you'd very much doubt that he's all that nice and charitable.

I mean, Jesus Haploid Christ, even if he doesn't want to give anything himself, he could at least keep his mouth shut and let those who want to help continue to help. Telling them more than once in that letter to basically stop it, is... pretty heartless, I'd say.
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Which part of "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn" don't you understand?

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Old 24th December 2012, 05:26 AM   #100
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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scribe

Scribes were available, so the illiterate thing doesn't work. If Jesus, the Son of GOD!, had impressed even one scribe he'd probably have been busy getting all this down, taking dictation in the evenings, etc.

Of course, Jesus would have had to exist for that to happen.

But even more telling is that God didn't care enough about what Jesus said to save it. If I sent my son on a suicide mission I'd want to make it pay off.
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Old 24th December 2012, 08:22 AM   #101
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Well, according to the Bible, Jesus the Son Of Man impressed a whole load of scribes and Pharisees (who were literate too), even if not necessarily in a good way. If you listen to those gospels, some of those literate guys seem to have literally nothing better to do than try to throw catch-22 question after catch-22 question at the wandering hobo and his merry band. Plus he debates priests in the temple, causes a ruckus among the Pharisees with the healing of the blind guy in John, etc.

You'd think one of those would write a letter about him, or something, even if (as the early Xian conspiracy theory went) just to warn some other scribes to not talk about Fight Club... err... about Jesus
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Which part of "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn" don't you understand?
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Old 24th December 2012, 08:52 AM   #102
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
Well, according to the Bible, Jesus the Son Of Man impressed a whole load of scribes and Pharisees (who were literate too), even if not necessarily in a good way. If you listen to those gospels, some of those literate guys seem to have literally nothing better to do than try to throw catch-22 question after catch-22 question at the wandering hobo and his merry band. Plus he debates priests in the temple, causes a ruckus among the Pharisees with the healing of the blind guy in John, etc.

You'd think one of those would write a letter about him, or something, even if (as the early Xian conspiracy theory went) just to warn some other scribes to not talk about Fight Club... err... about Jesus
"The winners write the history." So Jesus would have been noted as a loser somewhere along the way, if he'd been crucified.
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Old 24th December 2012, 10:13 AM   #103
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Originally Posted by gabeygoat View Post
Assuming he even existed, why wouldn't he write some stuff down?
I'm reading a great book on the Apocropha, "Lost Christianities: The Battles for Scripture and the Faiths We Never Knew" by Bart D. Ehrman. In it, he mentions the obvious fact that all the gospels, canonical or not, were written long after Jesus, and that there are no writings done by Jesus himself. I suppose most people were illiterate at the time, but, I mean, He's supposed to be God. Surely he could jot down a nice Cliff Notes version of what He intended to say?
Well, Socrates never wrote anything either. Well, I am sure he wrote something (grocery lists, Tetris high scores, etc.), but he did not write any of his teachings. There was more of an oral tradition back in the day. Could have been the same with Jesus.
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Old 24th December 2012, 11:28 AM   #104
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Maybe, but we have three contemporary witnesses who did write about Socrates, including two direct students of his, and one of those is a fairly hostile account. That's a notch above "oral tradition".

Plus the problem I have with it isn't by itself, but that then when it comes to arguing the reliability of the accounts, the argument comes up, 'no, no, see, they had plenty of witnesses. Mark couldn't just make everything up, because there were people who knew about this and that. Why, there were even people from Nazareth right there, that's why the Prophet Without Honor incident is there. It's to placate those.'

And then we have a contradiction there. Either

A) Jesus was SO insignificant that nobody took notice that he even existed. Even people who would have had a reason to mention him, never heard of him. (E.g., I'm sure Philo who wrote about other sects, and who is the guy who invented the Word Of God as a separate anthropomorphic deity, would have had reason to be interest in the cult of the incarnated and killed of exactly that Word Of God. Even if only to say, 'I didn't mean THAT, you berks.')

OR

B) He was SO frikken famous, that everywhere you'd go, you'd find LOTS of witnesses, because there'd be lots of points from his birth to his ministry that would need such validation. Why, from Rome (where Mark was written) to Galilee (where presumably Q originated) to at least 3 other places, why, you couldn't pick a period in Jesus's life without someone BEING RIGHT THERE to contradict you if you got anything wrong.

The two are mutually incompatible. Jesus can't be both (A) insignificant and unnoticed AND (B) memorable and remembered to thousands of people all over the damned place. One can pick one or the other but not both.
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Old 24th December 2012, 01:35 PM   #105
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Originally Posted by Gawdzilla View Post
The most important event in human history, if true, and no first-hand accounts, nothing from the principle. Impressive. (That anyone believes any of this.)
Yeah, you'd think that a bunch of dead people rising up from their graves and walking around Jerusalem would merit even a passing mention from, well, anybody outside the Bible. In the grand scheme of things, local news about the execution of a seditionist from a radical religious sect by the Roman authority probably came after the fluff piece about the kitten stuck up the olive tree.
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Old 24th December 2012, 01:40 PM   #106
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Originally Posted by epix View Post
As with the Dead Sea Scrolls case, his writings are yet to be discovered.
That's profoundly poor reasoning.

Quote:
That option goes right by some atheists as unacceptable, because arguably the majority of atheists profoundly believe in non-existence of Jesus. Hence no scribbly-scribbly.
Actually, many atheists think that there likely was a real Jesus, son of Joseph. Just like there was a real Nicolas of Myra.
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Old 24th December 2012, 02:06 PM   #107
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Originally Posted by gabeygoat View Post
Assuming he even existed, why wouldn't he write some stuff down?
I'm reading a great book on the Apocropha, "Lost Christianities: The Battles for Scripture and the Faiths We Never Knew" by Bart D. Ehrman. In it, he mentions the obvious fact that all the gospels, canonical or not, were written long after Jesus, and that there are no writings done by Jesus himself. I suppose most people were illiterate at the time, but, I mean, He's supposed to be God. Surely he could jot down a nice Cliff Notes version of what He intended to say?
In his Forgery In Christianity (1930) Joseph Wheless rambles on about all the Gospels floating around: "This authority also lists the famous Protevangetium Jacobi, or Infancy Gospel of James, the Arabic Gospel of the Infancy, that of Gamaliel, the Gospel according to the Hebrews, also According to the Egyptians; of the Nazarenes; Gospels of St. Peter, of St. Philip, of St. Thomas, of St. Bartholomew, of St. Andrew, of Barnabas, of Thaddeus, even notable forged Gospels of Judas Iscariot, and of Mother Eve; also the Gospel by Jesus Christ."

That last one is interesting because other all other Gospels are Gospel of Jesus Christ but here in his list Wheless presents a Gospel that by name was supposedly written by Jesus himself. Sadly that is the only comment Wheless makes on the matter and what the contents of that Gospel or even when it was supposedly written are unknown.
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Old 24th December 2012, 02:42 PM   #108
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Originally Posted by Foster Zygote View Post


Actually, many atheists think that there likely was a real Jesus, son of Joseph. Just like there was a real Nicolas of Myra.
In contrast to the vocal minority in this thread, I think you are correct. Yes, there have been books like Nailed by David Fitzgerald (http://www.amazon.com/Nailed-Christi.../dp/0557709911)
which do an excellent job at arguing against the assertion that Jesus was a god, but that is really beside the point. Very few scholars except those of the fundamentalist variety take that idea seriously. And are the fundies the ones you really want to argue against?

As an example, one possible argument to be made would be one against the apocolytic prophet hypothesis which is based on a line of evidence arguing "Yeshua" thought the world was about to end. (The apocolytic hypothesis would also answer the question why he didn't write anything; why would one need to write things down, if the world was about to end?)




That said, if one really wants to hear a real scholar of the ancient world argue in favor of mythicism, I would recommend Richard Carrier in this podcast:

http://www.premierradio.org.uk/listen/ondemand.aspx?mediaid={4D88EAB4-474E-4338-B8B4-7B7AD0410B24}

But even he, as a scholar, is very careful to qualify his remarks:

Early on (12:37), he says,
Quote:
"....First of all, I don't think we can be certain, one way or another. I do think that the preponderance of evidence supports mythicism, but I think the evidence for the origins of Christianity is so scarce and so problematic, we can never have that kind of certainty I think some people want; both mythicists and historicists want this certainty I don't think we can have."
(Sounds like maybe he might be talking about some of the mythicists here.)


At another point he even says this about mythicism:
Quote:
…it's something that needs more attention in the scholarly community, even if ultimately it gets refuted......"

Doesn't quite have the same force of those saying if Jesus had superpowers, then why didn't he find a scribe to dictate his teachings.. therefore, he didn't exist….




(Interestingly, his mythicist hypothesis is actually a little different and more nuanced (and more consistent with the data) than what you might think. But you'll have to listen to the podcasts and read his writings to really do it justice. I personally am not persuaded, but then again, I still have an immense respect for Carrier as an intellectual in the field for coming up with some innovative ways to analyze the evidence.)
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Old 24th December 2012, 05:46 PM   #109
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Originally Posted by Foster Zygote View Post
Yeah, you'd think that a bunch of dead people rising up from their graves and walking around Jerusalem would merit even a passing mention from, well, anybody outside the Bible. In the grand scheme of things, local news about the execution of a seditionist from a radical religious sect by the Roman authority probably came after the fluff piece about the kitten stuck up the olive tree.
Our guy rose from the dead, but we're not going to write that down for a few decades, just because we're... Well, because.
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Old 24th December 2012, 06:50 PM   #110
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Originally Posted by Gawdzilla View Post
Our guy rose from the dead, but we're not going to write that down for a few decades, just because we're... Well, because.
So, there was a lot of wine left over, and they were really busy and you know....things got away from them.
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Old 24th December 2012, 07:26 PM   #111
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Originally Posted by Foster Zygote View Post
Actually, many atheists think that there likely was a real Jesus, son of Joseph. Just like there was a real Nicolas of Myra.
I have to ask why an atheist would think this, other than force of habit.

You are speaking of probabilities. No one can prove anything, so is it probable he actually existed when no historically valid record of him exists?
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Old 24th December 2012, 07:37 PM   #112
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If only Jesus had been blessed with an iPad.
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Old 24th December 2012, 07:42 PM   #113
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Originally Posted by bruto View Post
So, there was a lot of wine left over, and they were really busy and you know....things got away from them.
Yeah, thirteen guys, one hooker, lots of wine. Love thy fellow man.
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Old 24th December 2012, 07:43 PM   #114
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Originally Posted by dafydd View Post
If only Jesus had been blessed with an iPad.
You think the Second Coming will be on Youtube? Or Youporn?
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Old 24th December 2012, 07:54 PM   #115
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Originally Posted by Frank Merton View Post
I have to ask why an atheist would think this, other than force of habit.

You are speaking of probabilities. No one can prove anything, so is it probable he actually existed when no historically valid record of him exists?
I agree very strongly with this. When we create a "life of Jesus" all we are really doing is assigning probabilities to the various biographical details related in the gospels. Is it probable that he was an apocalyptic preacher, and was executed following some incident of unruliness in the Temple? Yes. But we have no independent evidence: it's merely the sort of thing that is known to have happened in those days. Was he born of a virgin mother? No. Not only is there no evidence, it's not the sort of thing that happened, and the story appears to have been inspired by a mistranslation of a passage in an old book. Thus we "construct" a probable Jesus, as if we were ordering a meal à la carte in a restaurant.

However, the "positive" mythicists, as I point out in #85, also make various unfounded suppositions. The existence of a myth, like the existence of a person, requires to be sustained by evidence. Thus one arrives at the hypothesis of a historical Jesus by default. The early Christians believed in one. What is the most plausible reason for such a belief? That in fact there was one. Not a very satisfactory proof, but it's the best we have.
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Old 24th December 2012, 08:15 PM   #116
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Originally Posted by Craig B View Post
Thus one arrives at the hypothesis of a historical Jesus by default. The early Christians believed in one. What is the most plausible reason for such a belief? That in fact there was one. Not a very satisfactory proof, but it's the best we have.
The odds seem against it. There were lots of groups with lots of beliefs.

The earliest Christian writings we have are those of what are called the genuine Pauline epistles. In them the author knows of no earthly Jesus, of no biography as we find in the much-later-written Gospels.
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Old 24th December 2012, 08:50 PM   #117
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Originally Posted by Frank Merton View Post
The odds seem against it. There were lots of groups with lots of beliefs.

The earliest Christian writings we have are those of what are called the genuine Pauline epistles. In them the author knows of no earthly Jesus, of no biography as we find in the much-later-written Gospels.
Indeed so. Exactly my point. But by the same token, neither does he know of Doherty's
Quote:
The Anointed Savior was originally a heavenly being, whose atoning death took place at the hands of demonic beings in a supernatural realm halfway between heaven and earth, a sublunar sphere where he assumed a fleshly, quasi-human form ...
(See #85) And while Paul tells us nothing significant, he does seem to have believed in a Jesus physically descended in the flesh from the line of David. His having purely revelatory experiences of a dead and risen Jesus now dwelling in the sky does not preclude his belief in a previously existing real Jesus. And the evidence (eg of Jesus' existence in the flesh, or of his having a "brother") suggests that Paul did have such a belief. Of course the evidence is very weak, and can be "explained away", but I contend that we do not even have sufficient knowledge to justify explaining it away. We simply have Paul telling us the guy had flesh, and a brother, and that's that.
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Old 24th December 2012, 11:56 PM   #118
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Originally Posted by Craig B View Post
I think you can. The burden of proof lies with believers in a historical Jesus, to produce evidence of his reality. The burden of proof equally falls on the Doherty etc mythicists to provide evidence for their suppositions. It may be that both fail this test. Thus, neither a real Jesus nor a mythical Jesus (in the positive and elaborate Doherty sense) can be established. We are left, as you say, with legend; that is, with stories which can be shown to have circulated at various places and times.
But that is what myth actually means--any traditional story (Bulfinch's Mythology (1855-1863); Remsburg, John (1003) The Christ; Kirk, G.S. Myth: Its Meaning and Functions in Ancient and Other Cultures. Berkeley: Cambridge University Press, 1973.; Kirk, G.S. "On Defining Myths". Sacred Narrative: Readings in the Theory of Myth. Ed. Alan Dundes. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1984. 53-61.)

The story that Christopher Columbus sailed west to prove the Earth was round is as much a myth as the stories of Heracles 12 labors is. IMHO Remsburg explained is best:

"But what do we understand by the term myth? Falsehood, fable, and myth, are usually considered synonymous terms. But a falsehood, a fable, and a myth, while they may all be fictions and equally untrue, are not the same. A falsehood is the expression of an untruth intended to deceive. A fable is an avowed or implied fiction usually intended to instruct or entertain. A myth is a falsehood, a fable, or an erroneous opinion, which eventually becomes an established belief. While a falsehood and a fable are intentional and immediate expressions of fiction, a myth is, in most cases, an unconscious and gradual development of one.

Myths are of three kinds: Historical, Philosophical, and Poetical.

A Historical myth according to Strauss, and to some extent I follow his language, is a real event colored by the light of antiquity, which confounded the human and divine, the natural and the supernatural. The event may be but slightly colored and the narrative essentially true, or it may be distorted and numberless legends attached until but a small residuum of truth remains and the narrative is essentially false. A large portion of ancient history, including the Biblical narratives, is historical myth. The earliest records of all nations and of all religions are more or less mythical. "Nothing great has been established," says Renan, "which does not rest on a legend. The only culprit in such cases is the humanity which is willing to be deceived."

A Philosophical myth is an idea clothed in the caress of historical narrative. When a mere idea is personified and presented in the form of a man or a god it is called a pure myth. Many of the gods and heroes of antiquity are pure myths. John Fiske refers to a myth as "a piece of unscientific philosophizing," and this is a fairly good definition of the philosophical myth.

A Poetical myth is a blending of the historical and philosophical, embellished by the creations of the imagination. The poems of Homer and Hesiod, which were the religious text books of the ancient Greeks, and the poetical writings of the Bible, which helped to form and foster the Semitic faiths of Judaism, Christianity, and Mohammedanism, belong to this class."


Even if we limit ourselves to Remsburg's historical myth above we still have problems with Jesus. In fact while Remsburg felt the evidence showed the Gospels account fell in the "narrative is essentially false" end of the spectrum he also felt there was just enough to show there was flesh and blood Jesus in the 1st century.

The problem is if the Gospels are an essentially false narrative they tell us NOTHING about the flesh and blood Jesus in the 1st century--in other words the Jesus they describe is effectively non historical just as King Arthur and Robin Hood are.

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Old 25th December 2012, 12:03 AM   #119
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Historians have a number of ways in which they assess the value of their sources, and first on this list is that the source does not narrate supernatural stuff.

The only exception made to this rule is the Bible. Here the traditional historians bend over backward to allow this source in, in spite of all the miracles and so on.

If we are to take Matthew has history, why shouldn't we similarly take Homer?
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Old 25th December 2012, 01:15 AM   #120
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Originally Posted by Frank Merton View Post
Historians have a number of ways in which they assess the value of their sources, and first on this list is that the source does not narrate supernatural stuff.

The only exception made to this rule is the Bible. Here the traditional historians bend over backward to allow this source in, in spite of all the miracles and so on.

If we are to take Matthew has history, why shouldn't we similarly take Homer?
Homer relates myths, and at one time scholars believed that Troy was fictional. But its ruins were discovered in the nineteenth century, along with those of the mythical palace of Minos on Crete. So Matthew, like Homer, isn't history, but it may be myth inspired by real events.
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