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Best evidence for a historical Joshua ben Joseph

lpetrich

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Of these hypotheses, I find the Doherty-Carrier one the most plausible. It does not require any coverup efforts, and it successfully explains the variety of early Xian sects.

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The Atwill hypothesis requires very little coverup, since there is very little outside record of Xianity before the time of this alleged invention of it. The main thing that would have to be covered up is the invention effort itself.

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But the mountainman hypothesis is MUCH worse. By 320 CE, there are numerous references to early Xianity, references that would have to be written into a lot of existing documents.

Pliny the Younger (61 CE - 113? CE), around 112 CE, wrote a letter asking what to do about some early Xians. His main concern was that they denied the official gods and refused to worship those entities. That was the main concern of the Roman authorities about the early Xians, especially since they didn't have a long tradition behind them as the Jews had.

Lucian of Samosata (125? CE - 180? CE) wrote "The Passing of Peregrinus" in 165 CE, where the worshippers of a "crucified sophist" come across as hopelessly gullible, and "Alexander the False Prophet" in 170 - 180 CE, about religious prophet and charlatan Alexander of Abonutichus. He would demand the departure of Epicureans and Xians from his ceremonies.

Galen (129 CE - 212? CE) wrote a lot of books about medicine and philosophy and the like over much of his life, and he praised some early Xians for being well-behaved despite believing in what he considered a false religion.

In Xianity itself, we have not only the New Testament, but a large number of other writings, both orthodox and heretical -- the Gnostic Gospels and similar works. On the orthodox side, we have such theologians as Justin Martyr, Tatian, Athenagoras, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, and Origen.

So Constantine would have to have hired a lot of forgers to write all those presumably fake texts.

Early Christian Writings: New Testament, Apocrypha, Gnostics, Church Fathers
 

Koyaanisqatsi

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There are indicators all over GMark that it is revisionist propaganda and that the real story being whitewashed is one of an insurrectionist movement and their popular leader. All of the nonsense about "brother against brother" and fleeing to the mountains and how they will be "hated" because of him, etc.

Why? If you take the gospels as, well, gospel, then all Jesus ever teaches is the golden rule and to love your enemies and pay your taxes (to Rome) and avoid litigation and do whatever any earthly authority tells you to do. In fact, go even further and if Romans beat you, insist that they beat you again and wear your clothes and give them your money, etc., etc., etc.

There is nothing that I can find in any of the gospels that even hints at any "governors and kings" being in any way upset about what he teaches--including any "orthodox" Jews considering there were already thousands of Essenes and Zealots and "Hellenized Jews" and Pagans, of course, and a whole slew of people believing all kinds of batshit crazy nonsense in Jerusalem long before Jesus ever comes onto the scene--let alone any Romans. Hell, he's teaching in the Temple, which had to have been approved by the chief priests and Pilate must have been absolutely thrilled with the Sermon on the Mount and the Beatitudes and literally everything Jesus ever reportedly said to any of the "masses" in Jerusalem.

The only overt civil unrest Jesus ever comes close to fomenting is when he gets inexplicably angry at the necessary money changers in the Temple and flips a few tables. It is as disruptive an event as a fucking food fight, not cause for the entire hierarchy of Roman and Jewish authority to begin plotting his death.

Only a cult member would place such importance on a minor, isolated disturbance that, at best would have been cause for a low level Roman "police officer" (equivalent) maybe sending someone to find out who this homeless carpenter Rabbi is and then the report back would be, "He's just another Jew preaching love and shit. Oh, and telling his followers to obey us and offer their other cheek when we beat them and that if they rejoice in their suffering and remain meek for their entire lives, their God will reward them. So that's refreshing."

End of report and end of concern about Jesus from a Roman perspective, certainly.

And, of course, from a Jewish orthodoxy perspective, the only apologetic is that the San Hedrin--again, numbering into the 70s--are so threatened by Jesus' supposed popularity that they want him killed (but really it's that they just know he's their messiah and that means they no longer have any power and so they want him killed, something every Jew would know is not possible if he actually were a supernatural entity sent by Jehovah as prophesied).

So where does fleeing to the hills and being hated because they know Jesus and brother turning against brother come into anything Jesus ever does, says, practices or preaches?

It is literally a message of do nothing, love those who beat you, obey authority and thank God you're oppressed! An insurrectionist leader actually talking about rising up against a military occupation and empire like the Romans, otoh? Yeah, then all of the brother against brother and his soldiers will be facing punishment and standing before governors and kings, damn straight, but a homeless Jewish carpenter talking to Jewish whores and Jewish fishermen about rendering unto Caesar that which is Caesar's? He would be celebrated and sponsored by Pilate, ffs, right from day one, if Pilate ever even were made aware such a low personage existed.

Then there is the entire arrest sequence starting in Mark 14 likewise evidencing the real story underneath the whitewash:

Mark 14: 10 Then Judas Iscariot, one of the Twelve, went to the chief priests to betray Jesus to them. 11 They were delighted to hear this and promised to give him money. So he watched for an opportunity to hand him over.

Why? For any of that? Why would they be "delighted to hear this" and promise him money? What for? And what "opportunity" does he need to watch for? Supposedly, Jesus was well known to the chief priests by this point. Again, they had to have approved of him teaching in the Temple and saw him overturn the necessary money changing tables and tried to trip him up with questions directly, etc., etc., etc. They knew exactly who Jesus was--by sight--and supposedly had already tried to stone him to death for blasphemy twice already, so why exactly would they need Judas for anything at all, let alone to pay him to "betray" him? What is he betraying? Did Jesus walk around all day openly and get periodically questioned by the chief priests and then at night went to a super secret hiding place? Why would he do that?

Homeless carpenter Rabbi preaching non-unique unorthodoxy? No. Unknown leader of an underground insurrectionist movement who actually did have super secret hiding places? Yes, only it wouldn't be the chief priests who enlisted Judas to betray him, of course. It would be the Romans.

So, do we see any evidence of this kind of super secret hiding places--and clandestine passwords--that only an underground insurrectionist movement would require? Mark 14:12:

The Last Supper

On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, when it was customary to sacrifice the Passover lamb, Jesus’ disciples asked him, “Where do you want us to go and make preparations for you to eat the Passover?”

13 So he sent two of his disciples, telling them, “Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him. 14 Say to the owner of the house he enters, ‘The Teacher asks: Where is my guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ 15 He will show you a large room upstairs, furnished and ready. Make preparations for us there.”

It's straight out of Casablanca! But, again, why? For ANY of it? Why in the world wouldn't a homeless carpenter Rabbi just say, "Let's have Passover at Jerry's house"? No, it's a pre-arrangend special meeting place in the city that can only be accessed by finding "a man carrying a jar of water" and knowing the right password phrase, etc.

And then there is the whole "One of you will betray me this night" and woe be unto him for such a monumental transgression and "this is my body, this is my blood," which is literally a blood pact between them and ALL HUMANITY.

Homeless carpenter Rabbi? NO. NONE of that. The stakes simply aren't that large. Again, no Roman Prefect would have ever even heard of any such low personage as a homeless carpenter Rabbi who hangs out with whores and fishermen and preaches love and obedience to Rome and not a single member of the San Hedrin would feel in any way threatened by anyone they had approved to teach in the Temple saying whatever the hell his version of Judaism was. ALL Jews constantly debate what Judaism is.

Their power was invulnerable. The scenario would be identical to a Cardinal or City Councilman sitting in their million dollar penthouse apartment on the Upper East Side of Manhattan giving two shits about a homeless guy down on the street twenty floors below shouting at passersby about how the people in that building are hypocrites. Even if it were true--and that guy managed to get thousands of New Yorkers to gather around him every night and listen to his harrangues against the elite (just like we see today with millions screaming about wealth inequality and yet NOTHING happens)--the San Hedrin simply would not give a shit about Jesus.

But, again, an underground insurrectionist movement with a charismatic, popular leader that no one but his loyal lieutenants know by sight? Then this shit makes sense:

Mark 14:26 When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.
...
43 Just as he was speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, appeared. With him was a crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priests, the teachers of the law, and the elders.

44 Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: “The one I kiss is the man; arrest him and lead him away under guard.” 45 Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, “Rabbi!” and kissed him. 46 The men seized Jesus and arrested him.

Again, why? For ANY of that? Judas leads a "crowd" of armed men--sent by the San Hedrin, so, iow, the very people that would have been at the Temple too and seen Jesus turn over the tables, etc--to arrest a homeless carpenter Rabbi that Judas nevertheless must kiss in order to mark him as the one to arrest. But they already knew who Jesus was!

And why did Judas need to arrange a signal with them? They're evidently a select, heavily armed "crowd" of Jewish policemen, essentially; first century Mossad. Even if they didn't already know who Jesus was by sight from any number of times Jesus taught in the Temple and spoke around town--with the San Hedrin asking him questions, no less, which they would have been present for as their henchmen--was there some secret as to who, among eleven fishermen, was the one they all revered?

And who did Jesus and the "disciples" think was the "crowd" of heavily armed men with Judas? Were they all going to pretend to be buddies of Judas' and mingle with the post passover disciples drinking wine and partying until such time as Judas could give them that pre-arranged signal?

Again, homeless carpenter Rabbi preaching the golden rule and a bunch of humble fishermen spiritualists having just eaten Passover? No. Unknown leader of an underground insurrectionist leader in a second secret meeting place in the outskirts of town--after having held some form of blood-covenant secret meeting in the city where he warned of upheaval and rebellion and being persecuted because they knew him (iow, the night before some sort of attack, perhaps?)--being betrayed by an undercover or turncoat Judas that fears for his life if it is revealed who he is? YES.

Roman soldiers--dressed in peasant, "undercover" clothing just like with the aqueduct--who don't know who the actual leader is needing a sign indicating who he is, from someone who is either their own agent who had joined the "movement" to spy on them (and thus knows that this was the night before whatever was really being planned in the secret meeting place in the city) or someone who had been caught at some point earlier and turned by the Romans into betraying his fellow soldiers/leader.

All of that tracks perfectly. 100%.

Further evidence:

Mark 14:47 Then one of those standing near drew his sword and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear.

48 “Am I leading a rebellion,” said Jesus, “that you have come out with swords and clubs to capture me?

Wait, WHAT!? One of the eleven fishermen is armed at the secret out of town after party for Passover? And he cuts off one of the soldier's ears and then NOTHING ELSE HAPPENS?

NO. No way in hell that just happens and a fishermen is armed on passover and he cuts a guy's fucking ear off, and nothing. Whether Roman soldiers or a San Hedrin "crowd" of heavily armed henchmen, if one of their ears gets suddenly sliced off, then it's ON and a bloodbath would ensue.

And note what Jesus says next:

49 Every day I was with you, teaching in the temple courts, and you did not arrest me.

So the "crowd" DID know who Jesus was by sight! So why the fuck does Judas need to pre-arrange a "signal" with the men so that they will know which one is Jesus?

And then we have the final bit of evidence of a whitewashing going on with:

Mark 14:50 Then everyone deserted him and fled.

Everyone "deserted" Jesus and fled. Why? Again, he's supposedly just their Rabbi. Imagine you're at a Church potluck dinner on, say, Easter. A group of heavily armed men show up claiming to be sent by, say, the Archdiocese or Bishop or whatever. And you, for some unknown reason, pull a gun and shoot one of their ears off and your minister or priest or pastor stops everything at that point and willingly surrenders himself to these men.

Why would you--or anyone in the church--then desert him (and what would that even entail), let alone flee? You haven't done anything wrong. You've just been listening to the guy's sermons about love and obedience to authority and rejoicing in being beaten, etc.

Again, those are words and actions that a group of insurrectionist soldiers would do during a raid, but certainly not what a group of spiritual fishermen would do if their pastor had just surrendered himself to a bunch of guys supposedly sent from the pastor's Bishop or the like.

Then, of course, there's the whole tortured nonsense regarding Pilate, but this alone is strong evidence--imo--that in GMark we are seeing a Roman propagandist revising (whitewashing) an actual story that would have been recorded by Roman officials in Jerusalem--if not Pilate himself--and reported to Rome as a successful thwarting of an insurrectionist movement that had been planning some form of larger scale attack and that's when Pilate sprung the trap.

And then we get the publicly held trial and torture and mockery and crucifixion of a caught insurrectionist leader as a warning to ALL the Jews in Judea. And because those events actually happened--Jesus was in fact betrayed and arrested (by undercover Roman soldiers, not a San Hedrin "crowd") and then publicly tried by Pilate--the author was not just making anything he wanted up. It had to follow at least the known aspects of what actually happened. What needed to be changed was who was to blame for it all.

And why would that be necessary? Well, again, it was written right at the same time that the Jews are just starting to openly rebel. A nascient insurrectionist movement from thirty or forty years prior grew as a result of its adherents deserting and fleeing and telling and retelling and embellishing a marytyr mythology about how the Romans killed a warrior messiah sent from Jehovah to free us all from Roman oppression, such that it helped to form and spur on a much larger movement that ultimately becomes the first Jewish revolt.

But before that happens, efforts are undertaken to infiltrate this secondary movement (just like the first movement) with other agents, like Saul of Tsarsus, who is a Roman and (allegedly) a Jew and was a confirmed agent provocateur supposedly engaged by the San Hedrin (which faction not entirely established) to hunt down and persecute (whatever that actually meant) "Christians."

And what does he do? He tells of a "vision" he had that "converted" him and that's his entire entryway. That's it. A "vision." Why? Because the smarter ones knew how gullible cult members can be. But the other "disciples" do not trust Paul and relegate him to those on the fringe that are more adherents to the mythology than to the real cause (insurrection).

And Paul then immediately sets about to rise up within the organization to the best he can and all the while desperately tries to turn the story--the Jesus martyr story, that becomes the "passion narrative"--into something supernatural rather than natural (in perfect keeping with everything the Romans have put into practice in their propaganda "psy ops" agendas). Even to the point of writing letters to his burgeoning "flock" insisting that HIS version of the Jesus story MUST be the only true version or else they have nothing and it's all meaningless.

Jesus wasn't a martyrd insurrectionist leader--warrior messiah as the other "disciples" are saying--no, according to my vision sent from Jehovah, he was a man of peace and love who was ALL MANKIND's savior messiah! The Jews got it all wrong! Their fathers and grandfathers are the ones who killed God's son and our savior! The Jews are wrong! The Jews, the Jews, the Jews, not the Romans!

All of the components are literally right there, including in the written document of GMark.
 
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Tharmas

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[snip]...
It seems to me that at the time of writing the epistles, Paul had not yet become the main player. It seems very clear indeed he was not the main player in Judea. He may have been getting close to being the main player in the Roman provinces, but I'm not even sure about that, given that in a number of his letters he appears to be aghast that his small, new 'flock' are straying as a result of listening to other 'travelling shepherds'. Imo, it probably took quite a while for Pauline Christianity to fully displace and supersede the original Jewish one (and offshoots of it). That said, his version probably got at least the upper hand before the end of the 1st C or early in the 2nd. I think. I'm not sure. I dare say the devastation of the Jewish nation, and the destruction of Jerusalem in particular, played a very big part in weakening the progress of the original Jewish/Jerusalem version, at home and abroad, after 70 CE.

If I am not mistaken, I think you will find that the most popular form of Christianity in the second century was not the "proto-orthodox" Pauline version, but rather Marcion's version of Gnosticism, and that by a long shot. Incidentally Marcion took Paul's letters and put out the first "bible" consisting of Paul's letters and Luke, I think, all heavily edited by Marcion.
 

ruby sparks

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If I am not mistaken, I think you will find that the most popular form of Christianity in the second century was not the "proto-orthodox" Pauline version, but rather Marcion's version of Gnosticism, and that by a long shot. Incidentally Marcion took Paul's letters and put out the first "bible" consisting of Paul's letters and Luke, I think, all heavily edited by Marcion.

Ok. If that was the case, it would still be the pauline version having the upper hand, it would just be a different pauline version than the one that became orthodox later.

Given that Marcion was, I believe, excommunicated by the Rome church around 144 CE (having joined it in about 130 CE, or so I read), I myself am not sure which pauline version, if any, was ahead by a long shot at that time (mid 1st C). But from what I know, Marcion was popular and important among Christians in the early part of the 2nd C, yes. But it seems he was very pauline.
 
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Koyaanisqatsi

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If I am not mistaken, I think you will find that the most popular form of Christianity in the second century was not the "proto-orthodox" Pauline version, but rather Marcion's version of Gnosticism, and that by a long shot. Incidentally Marcion took Paul's letters and put out the first "bible" consisting of Paul's letters and Luke, I think, all heavily edited by Marcion.

Ok. If that was the case, it would still be the pauline version having the upper hand, it would just be a different pauline version than the one that became orthodox later.

Given that Marcion was, I believe, excommunicated by the Rome church around 144 CE (having joined it in about 130 CE, or so I read), I myself am not sure which pauline version, if any, was ahead by a long shot at that time (mid 1st C). But from what I know, Marcion was popular and important among Christians in the early part of the 2nd C, yes. But it seems he was very pauline.

Considering the fact that we see the GMark “passion narrative” being repeated at least two more times over the following few decades (with the exact same propaganda elements and tortured exoneration/blame shifting going on), it seems very clear to me that the propaganda efforts continue throughout the Roman/Jewish wars. And those “gospels” are all expanding the Pauline version, not correcting the mistakes of GMark.

Iow, we see the author of GMark taking Paul’s “theology” and putting it into a tortured, pro-Roman/anti-Jewish (not anti-Semitic) propaganda piece written and disseminated right at the time of open Jewish revolt against Rome. As those wars continue, so grows the propaganda, with the same tortured/exonerative/blame-shifting components.
 

T.G.G. Moogly

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If I am not mistaken, I think you will find that the most popular form of Christianity in the second century was not the "proto-orthodox" Pauline version, but rather Marcion's version of Gnosticism, and that by a long shot. Incidentally Marcion took Paul's letters and put out the first "bible" consisting of Paul's letters and Luke, I think, all heavily edited by Marcion.

Ok. If that was the case, it would still be the pauline version having the upper hand, it would just be a different pauline version than the one that became orthodox later.

Given that Marcion was, I believe, excommunicated by the Rome church around 144 CE (having joined it in about 130 CE, or so I read), I myself am not sure which pauline version, if any, was ahead by a long shot at that time (mid 1st C). But from what I know, Marcion was popular and important among Christians in the early part of the 2nd C, yes. But it seems he was very pauline.

Considering the fact that we see the GMark “passion narrative” being repeated at least two more times over the following few decades (with the exact same propaganda elements and tortured exoneration/blame shifting going on), it seems very clear to me that the propaganda efforts continue throughout the Roman/Jewish wars. And those “gospels” are all expanding the Pauline version, not correcting the mistakes of GMark.

Iow, we see the author of GMark taking Paul’s “theology” and putting it into a tortured, pro-Roman/anti-Jewish (not anti-Semitic) propaganda piece written and disseminated right at the time of open Jewish revolt against Rome. As those wars continue, so grows the propaganda, with the same tortured/exonerative/blame-shifting components.

I have never looked at GMark the way you explained it. To be honest I've never known anyone to point out all the internal inconsistencies, not necessarily as a propaganda piece but just as literature. Gotta admit it sure doesn't make a lot of logical sense. Has anyone else not seen this before and does anyone know where such a take is refuted?
 

ruby sparks

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If I am not mistaken, I think you will find that the most popular form of Christianity in the second century was not the "proto-orthodox" Pauline version, but rather Marcion's version of Gnosticism, and that by a long shot. Incidentally Marcion took Paul's letters and put out the first "bible" consisting of Paul's letters and Luke, I think, all heavily edited by Marcion.

Ok. If that was the case, it would still be the pauline version having the upper hand, it would just be a different pauline version than the one that became orthodox later.

Given that Marcion was, I believe, excommunicated by the Rome church around 144 CE (having joined it in about 130 CE, or so I read), I myself am not sure which pauline version, if any, was ahead by a long shot at that time (mid 1st C). But from what I know, Marcion was popular and important among Christians in the early part of the 2nd C, yes. But it seems he was very pauline.

Considering the fact that we see the GMark “passion narrative” being repeated at least two more times over the following few decades (with the exact same propaganda elements and tortured exoneration/blame shifting going on), it seems very clear to me that the propaganda efforts continue throughout the Roman/Jewish wars. And those “gospels” are all expanding the Pauline version, not correcting the mistakes of GMark.

Iow, we see the author of GMark taking Paul’s “theology” and putting it into a tortured, pro-Roman/anti-Jewish (not anti-Semitic) propaganda piece written and disseminated right at the time of open Jewish revolt against Rome. As those wars continue, so grows the propaganda, with the same tortured/exonerative/blame-shifting components.

Koy, I am not sufficiently convinced by your theory to have it as my own 1st preference.

I am wary of discussing it with you because I fear we would just come to pointless verbal blows. For example, I might start by saying there’s just a bit too much conspiracy theory in it for my liking. And I say that while not being averse to some of your ideas about Jesus’ possible militancy (and Paul’s possible insincerity).

I will say this, I think your theory is in some ways fairly plausible as an option, and imo more plausible than several published ones. As you know, we have discussed it at length previously.

By the way, have you ever read, ‘James the brother of Jesus’ by Robert Eisenman? If you haven’t, I think you would enjoy it. I’m not saying you would agree with it, but there is some overlap between some of its controversial ideas and yours, to some extent, as I recall (it’s been a while since I read it).

Then there’s, ‘zealot: the life and times of Jesus of nazareth’ by Reza Aslan. Not quite as thorough or as academic, but interesting.
 
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ruby sparks

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If I am not mistaken, I think you will find that the most popular form of Christianity in the second century was not the "proto-orthodox" Pauline version, but rather Marcion's version of Gnosticism, and that by a long shot. Incidentally Marcion took Paul's letters and put out the first "bible" consisting of Paul's letters and Luke, I think, all heavily edited by Marcion.

Ok. If that was the case, it would still be the pauline version having the upper hand, it would just be a different pauline version than the one that became orthodox later.

Given that Marcion was, I believe, excommunicated by the Rome church around 144 CE (having joined it in about 130 CE, or so I read), I myself am not sure which pauline version, if any, was ahead by a long shot at that time (mid 1st C). But from what I know, Marcion was popular and important among Christians in the early part of the 2nd C, yes. But it seems he was very pauline.
Whoops.

Mid 2nd C I should have said, not mid 1st.
 

Koyaanisqatsi

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Considering the fact that we see the GMark “passion narrative” being repeated at least two more times over the following few decades (with the exact same propaganda elements and tortured exoneration/blame shifting going on), it seems very clear to me that the propaganda efforts continue throughout the Roman/Jewish wars. And those “gospels” are all expanding the Pauline version, not correcting the mistakes of GMark.

Iow, we see the author of GMark taking Paul’s “theology” and putting it into a tortured, pro-Roman/anti-Jewish (not anti-Semitic) propaganda piece written and disseminated right at the time of open Jewish revolt against Rome. As those wars continue, so grows the propaganda, with the same tortured/exonerative/blame-shifting components.

I have never looked at GMark the way you explained it. To be honest I've never known anyone to point out all the internal inconsistencies, not necessarily as a propaganda piece but just as literature. Gotta admit it sure doesn't make a lot of logical sense.

None of it makes any sense absent my theory. Over a two day time period, the San Hedrin decide to collude with their conquerors (the Romans) to have them kill Jesus for them, because they fear “the festival crowd of Jews” will riot against them. Will kill them, iow, because Jesus is evidently that popular among all the Jews that are in Judea for Passover that colluding with the Romans is believed to be their only option.

Why the San Hedrin want to kill Jesus is never really explained. It’s always some vague notion of losing their authority, which would not ever be the case even if Jesus were one of the prophesied messiahs (there wasn’t just one after all; that would likewise be a Roman misinterpretation of messianic prophecy, but that’s whole ‘nother part I won’t get into). And then when that apologetic doesn’t hold, it becomes a variation on “they knew he was God/Son of God and was there to punish them, so they had to kill him no matter the risk.”

I’m pretty sure that if you asked any Jew then or today, “If Jehovah (or his son) were standing here on earth before us, would it be possible to kill him?” The answer would be, “No.”

So they “arrest” Jesus and take him before Pilate who asks him a couple of stupid questions, finds no crime that he’s committed, figures out, of course, what the San Hedrin are doing but doesn’t tell them he’s going to betray them publicly in front of the exact same “festival crowd” that they all feared two days prior would riot against them if they even tried to kill Jesus.

What happens? A Roman Prefect holds a “tradition” of committing treason against Rome by allowing conquered subjects to determine which convicted criminal he will set free in order to please them. They choose Barabbas, who supposedly actually is an insurrectionist leader and murderer of Roman soldiers/citizens. Convicted, no less (and of course the name gives it all away, because that’s how arrogant Romans were, even in their propaganda they sign their crime).

So now Pilate says, but don’t you want me to free Jesus (in spite of the fact that Pilate has found him completely innocent and therefore Jesus should already be free)? And now that their collusion has been revealed (and they stand betrayed), the San Hedrin no longer fear the crowd and somehow horse whisper the entire crowd into demanding Pilate KILL Jesus. KILL a man you just found innocent and let the convicted insurrectionist leader and murderer of Roman soldiers/citizens to go free so that he can once again plot sedition against Rome and murder more of your soldiers and citizens!

And Pilate—so desperately wanting to please Jews, because that’s his m.o.—right in front of his own soldiers lets the man who actively committed sedition against Rome and killed their friends go free while at the same time ordering a completely innocent man the Jews now suddenly and for no reason whatsoever (other than the power of San Hedrin whispers) be killed because Jews.

And what do the solders do? They torture and mock Jesus with a crown of thorns and purple royal gowns while they take turns beating the “King of the Jews”! Why? Set aside all the other stuff, why would Roman soldiers mock and beat Jesus like this? They JUST witnessed their own treasonous leader Pilate publicly declare his innocence and that Pilate has inexplicably ordered his death to please the Jews that most Roman soldiers hate and subjugate. It is the crowd of Jews that want an innocent man they supposedly loved two days ago murdered for no reason. So why would any Roman soldier do anything at all to Jesus other than pity him?

Now, boot up my theory. NOW it makes perfect sense that the Roman solders would take Jesus aside for their own special torture and mockery party. Because, as a seditionist leader the phrase “King of the Jews” makes ironic sense. As a seditionist leader, Jesus would have ordered or caused Roman soldiers to be killed.

Iow, they would treat him the way they likely treated Barabbas, who their superior just released back into freedom to murder again.

Has anyone else not seen this before and does anyone know where such a take is refuted?

Some have tried (Poli, ruby, for example), but to date, no one has presented anything to counter it that I haven’t been able to address, given the limitations of documentation and historically accuracy, of course.
 

Lumpenproletariat

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What do forum-dwellers view as the best evidence for a historical (as opposed to mythical) Jesus?
I don't see it as a binary choice. It is quite possible that there was an actual character that was a religious preacher and then all sorts of mythical stories were attached to him.

Gautama Buddha comes to mind as an example of that.

No miracle stories were attached to him until after several centuries later. Or at least nothing written and recorded. If no one near his time thought it worthwhile to record it, it means they didn't take any such claims seriously.


And then there are actual known historical figures that had myths of 'magical powers' attributed to them... Like the leaders of the Kim family in North Korea.

Those holding widespread life-and-death power over millions of subjects whom they dispose of at will are able to establish and instill myths into their subject populations, and enforce obedience and submission to the myths, especially with modern communication and brainwashing technology. But Jesus in the 1st century had no power to brainwash the population and impose myths onto them. So this analogy is illegitimate.
 

Lumpenproletariat

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It may have been Robert Price who thought that JtB was included in the gospels in order to persuade his followers that they should be Xtians.

That's a reasonable theory. There may be a fictional element to the JtB role in the gospels, as something included to win over some of the JtB disciples.

But that's no evidence against a factual historical Jesus person. It only means that the Jesus disciples were over-enthusiastic to win converts. It means that the Gospels do contain some fiction element along with the factual part. It would be amazing if these accounts did not contain some fiction, even if all their beliefs about Jesus are correct. It was normal for ALL the ancient writers to include some fiction elements. Even the most reliable historians we use for our facts included some fiction elements in their accounts.

So the JtB part in the Gospels may contain some fiction, while the overall presentation of Jesus the miracle-worker who resurrected is factually true.
 

Lumpenproletariat

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For years now I've maintained that we can be certain that the Jesus who walked on water, fed thousands with mere morsels, healed blindness, paralysis, even death and levitated off into the sky never to be seen again did not exist. Such a person would have left a much more indelible mark in the historical record than any Caesar, . . .

No, Caesar had vast power over millions of subjects. Having both military and political power made someone widely famous and celebrated in his time and a subject for the mainline historians.

. . . more indelible mark in the historical record than any Caesar, certainly more than Pilate or . . .

Jesus did leave a "much more indelible mark in the historical record" than Pilate. There's hardly any reference to Pilate outside brief mention in Philo and Josephus. Nothing in the Roman Latin historians other than the one in Tacitus. We have much more in the written record about Jesus than we have about Pilate, even though Pilate did exercise political power.

. . . or JtB.

We have much more in the written record about Jesus than about JtB, who is mentioned only in the NT and once in Josephus.


The fact that not one single morsel of evidence of all these incredible goings-on are preserved in historical records from the time in question speaks volumes. These things simply did not happen.

But it all happened in the small space of only 1-3 years. Probably even less than one year, according to Albert Schweitzer, who is a credible scholar. So in such a short time space it's easily explained how he was ignored by the mainline historians who were far distant from these events, and also who concentrated on reporting only the deeds of the rich and powerful.


Philo of Alexandria was a Jewish philosopher who wrote a great deal about things going on in and around Jerusalem right in the wheelhouse of the time Jesus would have been doing his thing.

No, Philo mostly ignores the events in Jerusalem. And he reports very little of the contemporary events. His writings are 90% about ancient events, centuries earlier.

The only contemporary events he reports are those involving himself personally, mainly in Alexandria. He says a tiny bit about Pilate and Herod Agrippa (only because of events directly involving himself), and nothing about Herod Antipas or other personalities in Judea-Galilee.


He wrote about the Essenes and other Jewish sects that . . .

No, only about the Essenes. Nothing about the Pharisees and Sadducees and Zealots. You're confusing Philo with Josephus. Philo shows little knowledge of the Jewish sects. And no knowledge of the Sanhedrin, no knowledge of the popular rabbis Hillel and Shammai. This illustrates a lack of knowledge of the events of Jerusalem during this time.

But also, Philo (20 BC - 50 AD) mentions no contemporary figures other than high-profile political figures he was directly involved with. Otherwise no famous contemporary persons. His focus is on the famous past Jewish heroes, especially Moses.


. . . and other Jewish sects that had somewhat similar beliefs as what would eventually become Christianity.

No, he says nothing of anything similar to Christian beliefs other than the gnostic ideas, such as in Alexandria. His mention of the Essenes is probably not related to the Qumran community and Dead Sea Scrolls, which he shows no familiarity with. He's unaware of the zealots and militancy of the Qumran sect. He knows only of the pacifism and mysticism and isolationism of the Essenes, not of the anti-Roman sentiment and conflict with the mainline Jewish establishment in Jerusalem. No sign of his being in that area or any involvement in those affairs.


It is very possible that he lived in Jerusalem at the time Jesus was allegedly performing all these miracles.

No, he lived in Alexandria. He visited the temple in Jerusalem only once in his life, which was an unusual experience for him.


The fact that none of his writings ever mention Jesus, any of the miracles, the dead people who came back to life when Jesus was crucified, etc., strains credulity far past the breaking point.

He never mentions John the Baptist and many others. And the odd story in Matthew 27:51-53 of the rising bodies at the crucifixion is not to be taken seriously. Obviously Philo never read Matthew, which was written 30 years after he died.


None of these things happened.

You're right that the opening of the graves and zombie invasion of Jerusalem did not happen. Reported only in Matthew. But the miracle acts of Jesus probably did happen, for which we have 4 sources (5 for the Resurrection).


Having said that we're left with a possible historical nugget, a street preacher who possibly pissed off the wrong people and got himself Jimmy Hoffa'd. A guy who will never be able to speak for himself because the only thing we have is what people claim he said.

Your "nugget" has to contain an explanation why we have these 4 accounts of him, describing his miracle acts and Resurrection, and yet we have no similar accounts of anyone else doing such things.


And none of those people are people who actually met him (none of the books of the NT were written by anyone who actually knew Jesus).

Like MOST of our sources for ancient historical persons were written by authors who didn't actually know those persons they wrote about. That doesn't undermine the credibility of the accounts. The accounts tell us accurately about those persons, generally, and of course contain dubious elements too, so we don't have totally accurate accounts about ANY ancient historical characters. So yes, Jesus is the same as other historical figures, for whom we have some information, but no infallible perfect written biographical account. But those historical figures did exist and were like what the accounts describe, generally.


Add to that decades of legendary development before the first of the 4 gospels appears . . .

A shorter time gap than for most accounts we have of ancient historical figures. Usually the period of "legendary development" is more like 50-100 years and longer.

But the Paul epistles, reporting the death and resurrection, are separated by only 20-25 years from the events.

. . . the first of the 4 gospels appears (written by people in Rome, by the way, 1500 miles away and no less than 40 years removed from the events in question).

Even if the final version was written in Rome, parts of it are taken from sources closer. And the other Gospels were closer, and Paul was closer and a contemporary of the events.

That the story traveled that far so soon indicates the importance of it, especially among some educated persons who could read and write, and who traveled.


The story of Jesus the Magic Jew was certainly a popular one. But popular doesn't have anything to do with true.

Attested to in extra sources has much to do with true. Also sources near to the time, as these sources are closer than average to the time of the reported events. And if "popular" means widely believed, this is one indicator that the story was true, because most stories of "Magic" this or that were dismissed as fiction and did not become popular, other than a few ancient legends from centuries earlier. So that this one became popular so soon, unlike any other "Magic" stories, is further indication that it was taken more seriously because of extra evidence, extra witnesses, extra reports, unlike miracle stories generally which are dismissed for lack of serious evidence.


Never has, never will.

You missed your calling: all you need is a banjo and you could have been a song-writer. Or a poet.


Ask Paul Bunyan.

To make a serious point, you have to give the source for this legend, like we have 4 (5) sources for the Jesus miracle acts. If there are multiple sources for it, near the time he lived, then maybe there's some truth to it.
 
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aupmanyav

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Your "nugget" has to contain an explanation why we have these 4 accounts of him, describing his miracle acts and Resurrection, and yet we have no similar accounts of anyone else doing such things.
A story depends on one who writes it. Jesus had good story writers. Paul, for example.
In India, Vishnu had better story writers than Shiva, that is why the popularity of Bhagawat Purana.
Kings in India respected Charans and Bhats (castes which recited the the stories in villages) and paid them handsomely, because they could make or mar a story for all history.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charan, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bhat.
 

Koyaanisqatsi

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It means that the Gospels do contain some fiction element along with the factual part.

Great! Tell us exactly which parts are fictional and how you know this in precise detail.

Oh, just kidding, Lump. We all know you never can nor will. You'll just keep posting walls of text or other diversionary tactics and make ridiculous claims that don't actually provide any details or show exactly which parts are fictional thinking, I guess, that we won't notice.
 

Keith&Co.

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It means that the Gospels do contain some fiction element along with the factual part.

Great! Tell us exactly which parts are fictional and how you know this in precise detail.

Oh, just kidding, Lump. We all know you never can nor will. You'll just keep posting walls of text or other diversionary tactics and make ridiculous claims that don't actually provide any details or show exactly which parts are fictional thinking, I guess, that we won't notice.

Well, he has suggested all the parts that direct Xians to lead better lives are later interpolations. And the silly miracles, just fluff added to bump His rep. Lumpy only needs a few things to be true. Healing miracles, to include resurrection, showing Jesus had access to divine power, and Jesus promising Eternal Life. If he's divine, or a friend to divine, then the least effort Lumpy has to do for Paradise is believe in some miracles.
You can disprove the zombies, the meek heritance, the moneylenders, and getting the whore off with a warning, all that can be falsified, his faith is untouched.
 

Koyaanisqatsi

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Lumpy only needs a few things to be true.

Oh, I'm well aware. What he can't ever--won't ever--do, of course, is show any of us HOW he knows what parts are fictional and what parts are not. And, of course, he'll completely sidestep (usually with walls of text to try to desperately hide the fact that he's sidestepping) the fact that if he conceded ANYTHING is fictional, then it throws into question the entirety of it and necessarily means that no one can extract fact from fiction.

It's almost fun if it weren't the standard apologetic deluge of bullshit, fallacies and shameless, nonsensical torturing of logic.
 

Lumpenproletariat

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No, there are no others who performed "magic tricks" like those of Jesus in the Gospel accounts.

Regarding magic tricks, here is a pic of Sai Baba of Shirdi, India (1834-1918). Magic tricks, healings, . . .

There are no serious accounts of any healings by Sai Baba of Shirdi.

It is popular to make such claims, as comparison arguments to debunk the Jesus miracles. But there is no written record from the time of this guru, from anyone claiming miracle healings, other than the normal praying claims of all religious people, who pray for healing and other favors, and when something good happens they say it was an answer to their prayers.

Not only are all the claims from devotees only, who had been under the influence of the guru's charisma for many years, but these are the only ones ever healed, who already believed in their guru and prayed constantly to him, and when they sometimes got a favorable result, they then attributed it to their guru as a miracle answer to their prayer.

Likewise all the ones healed at the Asclepius temples were disciples who had worshiped this ancient healing god all their lives and prayed to him constantly and performed his prescribed rituals or had them performed on them by the local Asclepius priests.

But by contrast, most/all those reportedly healed by Jesus were non-disciples seeing him for the first time, not disciples who already worshiped him regularly.

And, no claims of healing miracles are legitimate if you cannot present the published account of them, where the events are described, by the earliest known sources for the claims. We do not have written accounts of miracles by these various gurus, such as we have written accounts of the Jesus miracles. If no one ever quotes from the original sources for these miracle claims, then it's not credible. It's easy to just repeat Jesus-debunkers making these claims without the original sources for them. The sources have to be something other than just another Jesus-debunker crusader throwing out names of alleged miracle-workers they claim did the same thing Jesus did, without any original source for the claimed event.

So to give a serious argument, present your Sai Baba Shirdi miracle example from some source other than a contemporary Jesus-debunker whose only source for it is his insistence that there have to be other miracle-workers than Jesus who also did the same thing because it's just not fair that only Jesus could have done such things. Because this kind of crybaby argument is all we ever get as examples of Jesus parallel miracle-workers.

. . . preaching, small band of followers (to whom he appeared after his death) etc etc.

Of course among the millions of devotees having gathered around him over his long career and expecting him to re-appear we can expect some to claim having visions of him, over many years, so they can equate him to Jesus, after whom his resurrection is modeled. But there are no accounts of Sai Baba Shirdi and others appearing physically to a group of witnesses together, or of his dead body returning to life. People individually have visions of earlier hero figures, as mystical experiences or spiritual encounters, in one believer's dream or trance or altered state. That's not what we see in the Gospel accounts, or in Paul's description of witnesses seeing him alive, even a group of 500 witnesses who saw him together.

Again, we need the original quoted source saying it happened, not just a claim that there are such miracles reported somewhere which are the same as in the Gospel accounts. Why can't the original source for it be presented, so we can read the account of what happened or what was seen? Why do we never get the reported event from the time? Why is it we always have only today's Jesus-debunker crusader assuring us that the other miracle claims exist? Why do they never quote from the original source for it?


Again, only an illustration of plausibility.

There's nothing plausible about it if we can't have quotes from the original source reporting it. A tirade from a 21st-century Jesus-debunker crusader is not a sufficient source for a Jesus-parallel miracle-worker claim. We need the written account about it, like we have reports of the Jesus miracle acts in written accounts from the time.


There were, apparently (according to Josephus) a number of 'messianic claimants' going about Judea around the supposed time of (or before and after) Jesus, some of them with much larger numbers of followers than Jesus was said to have had (thirty thousand men in the case of the unnamed Egyptian Prophet, 52 CE).

These were anti-Roman political dissidents fomenting a revolution to seize power. Of course this anti-Roman militancy was widespread throughout Judea-Galilee-Samaria and nearby areas, and it drew large numbers in some cases. But it was about a war against the Romans, not about someone performing miracle acts.


I believe one of them (Theudas) tried to part the waters of the river Jordan in 45 CE and persuaded 'a great many people' to attend the event.

No miracle acts are reported in any source. There were probably many charlatans making promises to do miracles, but no reports of any miracles having happened, such as are reported in the Gospel accounts. The mere promise to perform a miracle act is not what drew any large crowd. It was the call to arms to fight against the Romans, from a charismatic demagogue, which drew the crowds.


The Romans sent armed horsemen who killed many of the people there, took Theudas alive, and then executed him, according to Josephus. Then there was Judas, son of Hezekiah (4 BCE), Simon of Peraea (also 4 BCE), Athronges the shepherd (also 4 BCE), and The Samaritan Prophet (36 CE). And others in Judea during the later years of the 1st Century CE.

If Jesus did exist, it's possible he was not even as well-known as any of these, either to Josephus or the Romans.

Because he was not a political dissident insurrectionist militant leading an armed rebellion to overthrow the established government.


The Romans apparently executed a large number of mostly unnamed Jews in those times, but that he was said to have been crucified suggests that if he existed he would have been a bit more of a naughty boy, from the Roman pov, than he is portrayed in the Christian texts.

As for Philo, I am not an expert on his writings, but I understood it that he did not mention any of these sorts of people, so I don't tend to see the omission of one of them as telling us much, other than that perhaps none of them, or their exploits, were actually famous (or relevant) enough for him to mention. But then I am not even sure how many if any religious figures he mentions at all (he wasn't, as I understand it, writing history, and was more into ideas and philosophy).

He wrote mainly of the ancient events and ideas and philosophy, i.e., Moses, Torah, the Patriarchs, the Flood, Creation, etc. A few pages of controversy with the recent emperors Tiberius and Caligula. Nothing about contemporary philosophers or revolutionaries or rabbis or prophets or "messiahs" etc. If he heard anything of Jesus and his miracles, he would have dismissed it as fiction, as all such claims were dismissed, by him and others who were educated, who never took such claims seriously, as 90% of even the uneducated did not.

It was a period when miracle claims were rejected by virtually everyone. There is nothing in any literature of the time showing any acceptance of miracle claims about Messiahs or other heroes here or there, including in any Greek-Roman literature.

The appearance of Paul's epistles and then the Gospel accounts is a sudden disruption of the pattern of the 1st century and earlier, where reported miracles by resurrected messiahs and saviors etc. are totally absent from any literature. It would be astonishing if we saw anything of this nature in the writings of Philo or any earlier writer, later than the book of II Kings (600-500 BC) where there is a slight hint of such things, and yet even this was about ANCIENT miracle-worker legends from centuries earlier (Elijah and Elisha).

I.e., all the interest in any "miracles" was only about ANCIENT prophets or heroes or gods, never about a recent "messiah" showing up, like Jesus shows up suddenly around 30 AD unlike anything similar to be found in that culture. Then, after 100 AD, we see some Jesus copycat stories popping up here and there, and new miracle legends and revival of some pagan miracle cults experiencing new life.
 

Tharmas

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For Ruby Sparks

Here’s a book you may be interested in, Ruby, Who Wrote the New Testament? by Burton Mack (1995). I am re-reading it after about 10-15 years, and I’m still finding it fresh and relevant.

Mack is a biblical scholar and Professor emeritus in early Christianity at the Claremont School of Theology. From  Burton_L._Mack: ”He is a noted scholar of the hypothetical Q Document, and is confident that it can be sifted into three layers: one containing primarily wisdom sayings, another giving details on how the community ought to behave, and another containing apocalyptic pronouncements.”

Mack’s thesis is that early communities of Christians collected orally transmitted stories and sayings and that these collections grew over time in response to outward social conditions, political and otherwise. As noted above, he analyzes the Q Document as well as the Gospels, including Thomas, and the Epistles. His conclusion is that the historical Jesus is the source of the earliest layers of wisdom sayings, and that much of the other characterizations of him in the Gospels and Epistles are later additions in response to outside events as well as other groups of early Christians.

In addition, by analyzing the layers you can see the early communities splitting and heading off in different directions, the Thomas community for example heading in a Gnostic direction.

I find it a fascinating study of the growth of myth through time.
 

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Back when I wanted to be a Christian (circa 1972), I'd read the NT and mentally mark those passages where Jesus' speech was quirky and sharp-witted (i.e., he'll cut off his challengers and say, "That is what you say.") I was convinced I was reading an actual quotation from a First Century encounter; that no myth-maker would have created such a piquant speech style for an invented hero. The parables sent the same message; they derived from a common source, an individual who could construct dramatic, blocked-out metaphors to make a point. I still feel that way -- that there was a Jesus, but that there is far too much jerry-built superstructure added on to make any persuasive case for the Christians' theology. Because those passages -- the brusque, muscular speech patterns, the parables -- are scattered through the Synoptic gospels. When I got to John's gospel, it all fell apart for me. Here was Poet Jesus, delivering soliloquies and defining himself with metaphoric titles, and, more crucially, omitting all teaching by parable. John's Jesus is a different fellow. I couldn't understand how the Christians I knew could read the four gospels and not see that John must be writing all that speechifying material to make Jesus say what he, John, wanted to promote. Later, more problems became clear to me: for instance, that the distance between Jews and Christians advances to anti-Jewish feeling in John; problems with the chronologies and genealogies in the NT; mind-blowing miracles that no secular accounts back up; the god of mercy who created a hell; the statements attributed to Jesus that contradict the doctrine of his divinity; the four versions of the empty tomb story that demonstrate the process of legend creation. Et alia. I have long since left off longing for a faith experience, because it seems to me that faith is a terrible way to claim knowledge. I find an unbridgeable gap between believers and me. The folklore is incredibly potent, to create new converts some twenty centuries on -- but I cannot shut off my need for clarity and empiricism.
 

ruby sparks

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Here’s a book you may be interested in, Ruby, Who Wrote the New Testament? by Burton Mack (1995). I am re-reading it after about 10-15 years, and I’m still finding it fresh and relevant.

Mack is a biblical scholar and Professor emeritus in early Christianity at the Claremont School of Theology. From  Burton_L._Mack: ”He is a noted scholar of the hypothetical Q Document, and is confident that it can be sifted into three layers: one containing primarily wisdom sayings, another giving details on how the community ought to behave, and another containing apocalyptic pronouncements.”

Mack’s thesis is that early communities of Christians collected orally transmitted stories and sayings and that these collections grew over time in response to outward social conditions, political and otherwise. As noted above, he analyzes the Q Document as well as the Gospels, including Thomas, and the Epistles. His conclusion is that the historical Jesus is the source of the earliest layers of wisdom sayings, and that much of the other characterizations of him in the Gospels and Epistles are later additions in response to outside events as well as other groups of early Christians.

In addition, by analyzing the layers you can see the early communities splitting and heading off in different directions, the Thomas community for example heading in a Gnostic direction.

I find it a fascinating study of the growth of myth through time.

Thanks Tharmas. I haven’t read that particular one. E P Sanders wrote one that I enjoyed, some years ago, though I think it has been revised since then, and the title may even have changed. It was basically, ‘Jesus, the historical figure’.

I confess I am a bit sceptical about the sort of textcavations which are involved in such things, especially when they analyse possible texts of which there is no record (and indeed the texts that do exist as the extant copies). And I think we are talking about hypothetical/perceived/extrapolated layers, not ‘actual’ layers.

As far as I am aware, textual analysis as it pertains to Jesus strays into levels of detail that are unusual by historiographical standards. There seems to be an element of fetish, and a potential risk that one is unwittingly polishing a turd.

That said, it is fascinating nonetheless. I just don’t think it produces reliable answers. Fine for exploring interesting possibilities though.

This is why I shy away from saying much more with any sort of conviction than what I have offered as my very minimal Jesus, temporarily assuming he even existed. I like, if possible, to feel I’m on at least half firm ground before I even commit to probabilities, and even then it’s speculative, and as I have said, relative (to the strength of the alternatives, as I see it).

I enjoy (and respect) Bart Ehrman quite a lot. He knows his onions, I think.

All of these guys are, I think, in the category ‘popular writers’. Someone like Politesse probably knows of other less well known and perhaps more academic scholars. Whether such people come up with any more reliable conclusions I do not know, but my guess would be that they don’t.
 

T.G.G. Moogly

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It's as if nothing has changed since those first gospels started to appear. Today's gospel writers are still using information from those earlier gospel writers, writing about their own, true, historical Jesus. Is it so very different than quests for the holy grail?
 

Tharmas

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Thanks Tharmas. I haven’t read that particular one. E P Sanders wrote one that I enjoyed, some years ago, though I think it has been revised since then, and the title may even have changed. It was basically, ‘Jesus, the historical figure’.

I confess I am a bit sceptical about the sort of textcavations which are involved in such things, especially when they analyse possible texts of which there is no record (and indeed the texts that do exist as the extant copies). And I think we are talking about hypothetical/perceived/extrapolated layers, not ‘actual’ layers.

As far as I am aware, textual analysis as it pertains to Jesus strays into levels of detail that are unusual by historiographical standards. There seems to be an element of fetish, and a potential risk that one is unwittingly polishing a turd.

That said, it is fascinating nonetheless. I just don’t think it produces reliable answers. Fine for exploring interesting possibilities though.

This is why I shy away from saying much more with any sort of conviction than what I have offered as my very minimal Jesus, temporarily assuming he even existed. I like, if possible, to feel I’m on at least half firm ground before I even commit to probabilities, and even then it’s speculative, and as I have said, relative (to the strength of the alternatives, as I see it).

I enjoy (and respect) Bart Ehrman quite a lot. He knows his onions, I think.

All of these guys are, I think, in the category ‘popular writers’. Someone like Politesse probably knows of other less well known and perhaps more academic scholars. Whether such people come up with any more reliable conclusions I do not know, but my guess would be that they don’t.

Thanks for your thoughtful reply. I guess I’m a little more gullible than you, or at least more liberal in my judgements. For example I do accept the arguments for the theoretical Q document. That it should have existed makes sense, and in addition the discovery of The Gospel of Thomas proves that so-called “sayings” gospels were indeed a thing. The large percentage of sayings from Thomas that closely match sayings from Q adds further support. So that gives us a core of ur-texts that might be called an ‘actual’ layer.

Indeed, the concept of layers of text in the Gospels, including Thomas and Q, seems intuitively obvious to me, and not a gratuitous or ad hoc speculation. I note the post from ideologyhunter directly above yours (#171) describing how as a young reader he encountered different characterizations of the Jesus figure in the four canonical gospels (don’t want to put words in his mouth).

Also, I think you do a disservice to Sanders, Mack, and Ehrman by placing them in the category of merely “popular” writers. I see them more as “popularizers,” if you get my meaning. I believe they are all serious scholars in their own right, and speak with a certain authority.

As for Politesse, I’m currently reading one of the scholars he recommended – Allen Brent – although again, a popular work of his. I’ll get back to you both with my thoughts when I’m further into it.

And I agree with you, the “answers” we get aren’t necessarily all that reliable, but there is still much that can be learned. As I indicated I am mostly fascinated by the growth and development of myth through time, because it is my belief that we all rely on a weltanschauung of mythic fragments to place ourselves in history and contemporary society. And I note that one of Mack’s more recent works is The Rise and Fall of the Christian Myth, so that one’s already in my Kindle queue.
 

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Thanks for your thoughtful reply. I guess I’m a little more gullible than you, or at least more liberal in my judgements. For example I do accept the arguments for the theoretical Q document. That it should have existed makes sense, and in addition the discovery of The Gospel of Thomas proves that so-called “sayings” gospels were indeed a thing. The large percentage of sayings from Thomas that closely match sayings from Q adds further support. So that gives us a core of ur-texts that might be called an ‘actual’ layer.

Indeed, the concept of layers of text in the Gospels, including Thomas and Q, seems intuitively obvious to me, and not a gratuitous or ad hoc speculation. I note the post from ideologyhunter directly above yours (#171) describing how as a young reader he encountered different characterizations of the Jesus figure in the four canonical gospels (don’t want to put words in his mouth).

Also, I think you do a disservice to Sanders, Mack, and Ehrman by placing them in the category of merely “popular” writers. I see them more as “popularizers,” if you get my meaning. I believe they are all serious scholars in their own right, and speak with a certain authority.

As for Politesse, I’m currently reading one of the scholars he recommended – Allen Brent – although again, a popular work of his. I’ll get back to you both with my thoughts when I’m further into it.

And I agree with you, the “answers” we get aren’t necessarily all that reliable, but there is still much that can be learned. As I indicated I am mostly fascinated by the growth and development of myth through time, because it is my belief that we all rely on a weltanschauung of mythic fragments to place ourselves in history and contemporary society. And I note that one of Mack’s more recent works is The Rise and Fall of the Christian Myth, so that one’s already in my Kindle queue.

Hi Tharmas, it's always a pleasure to exchange with you.

I hear what you say, and it's all reasonable and what you say is plausible, imo. In fact I might even say what you have there is one of the more plausible options. Personally, I'd still stick with what I said earlier, as my own preferred approach, which is to be more reticent, or if you like, slightly less speculative about the detail. Part of my reasons may even be that I have, in years gone by, 'done my time' with this issue and have slightly lost interest for now. Well, I haven't lost interest as such, I've only lost interest in getting back into the sorts of textual analyses we are talking about here. I obviously haven't lost interest in the topic itself, or the basic question (existence or not) or I wouldn't have been posting here. :)
 

Lumpenproletariat

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It took time -- several centuries -- for (fiction) miracle legends to evolve.

What do forum-dwellers view as the best evidence for a historical (as opposed to mythical) Jesus?

I don't see it as a binary choice. It is quite possible that there was an actual character that was a religious preacher and then all sorts of mythical stories were attached to him.

There were plenty of religious preachers, and yet none had miracle myths attached to them within only 1 or 2 generations. What is it about this one that so many different factions wanted to attach their teachings and mythical stories to him?

The best explanation, in accord with the facts, is that he actually did perform the reported miracle acts, including the Resurrection, which attracted special attention to distinguish him from all other "religious preachers" for whom we don't have similar miracle claims, or evidence in written accounts. This drew special attention to him and attracted many religionists who put their words into his mouth, along with whatever he really said. And further mythologizing could easily happen after he first became recognized as a miracle-worker, to which further legends could be added.

This then can explain how this one miracle "legend" popped up so suddenly, contrary to the norm, and also how additional elements, possibly fictional, could have been added so easily to the original facts, including extra teachings and claims about him.

But you have to identify what he was to start from, at the beginning, to separate him from other religious teachers who did not become credited with miracle acts, other than the normal mythologizing over many centuries in which such legends could evolve.


Gautama Buddha comes to mind as an example of that.

But his case is one of mythologizing which required centuries, at least 400 years.


And then there are actual known historical figures that had myths of 'magical powers' attributed to them... Like the leaders of the Kim family in North Korea.

But that's due to political power which they imposed onto a suppressed population which was forced to accept the prescribed mythology imposed by state power and police enforcement. It's easy for someone with vast political power over millions of subjects to impose their myths onto the subservient population which must pay recognition or be killed.

It's ludicrous to suggest that Jesus in the 1st century, or his apostles, had any such power over people to impose state-mandated myths onto them.


Indeed, I conclude that Jesus existed and that all his amazing powers of calming storms à la Elijah / Elisha were grafted on later.

"à la Elijah / Elisha"? In other words, 300 years later those amazing powers were grafted on? meaning the Gospels must have been written about 350 AD? 300 years later than the reported events, like the Elijah / Elisha stories were written 300 years later than the reported events? And yet the scholars all say they are 1st-century writings. And, how could the Council of Nicea have convened in 325 AD to resolve the "Trinity" problems before Christ and his miracles had even happened yet?

Or -- "à la Elijah / Elisha" meaning the real crucifixion etc. must have happened about 300 BC instead of the 1st century AD, to allow the necessary time gap for the "amazing powers" mythologizing to take place? But then that puts it much earlier than Caesar Augustus and other historical figures named in the accounts.

How about "amazing powers" à la King Pyrrhus and his Magic Toe instead of à la Elijah / Elisha?

Whoops! No, that won't work either. It required 400 years for the storytellers to graft that Magic Toe onto the King Pyrrhus story. So then how do you get these "amazing powers" grafted on in only 20-70 years?


I sometimes wonder why he didn't turn the water into wine before walking on it...

No way -- you have to walk on it FIRST, and only then can it be turned into wine. Silly!

Correction: there is one way to turn it into wine first and then walk on it, which is to first turn it into a fig tree and curse it, with the help of King Pyrrhus and his Magic Toe.
 

skepticalbip

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There were plenty of religious preachers, and yet none had miracle myths attached to them within only 1 or 2 generations. What is it about this one that so many different factions wanted to attach their teachings and mythical stories to him?
There are plenty of lumber jacks, and yet only Paul Bunyan had stories of miraculous deeds made about him. What is it about this one that so many wnated to attach their stories to?
 

T.G.G. Moogly

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There were plenty of religious preachers, and yet none had miracle myths attached to them within only 1 or 2 generations. What is it about this one that so many different factions wanted to attach their teachings and mythical stories to him?
There are plenty of lumber jacks, and yet only Paul Bunyan had stories of miraculous deeds made about him. What is it about this one that so many wnated to attach their stories to?

Paul Bunyan is not Jesus so obviously Paul Bunyan's feats are merely products of folklore and legend.

/special pleading
 

Koyaanisqatsi

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This shit again. It takes ZERO time to write fiction. I am the Lord PHenaolCQE#@@, the one true God above ALL OTHER GODS.


There. I just did it, you fucking moron. "You" in the general "fucking moron" sense.
 

Lion IRC

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This shit again. It takes ZERO time to write fiction. I am the Lord PHenaolCQE#@@, the one true God above ALL OTHER GODS.


It takes the passage of time to enable someone to belatedly make unfalsifiable fact claims.
Legendary accretion cant happen in the historical blink of an eye.


There. I just did it, you fucking moron. "You" in the general "fucking moron" sense.

I see you're still bringing your intellectual "A" game.
 

Lumpenproletariat

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3 Debunkers UP -- 3 Debunkers DOWN. No runs, no hits, no errors.

Zip! Nada! Goose-eggs. 000



There were plenty of religious preachers, and yet none had miracle myths attached to them within only 1 or 2 generations. What is it about this one that so many different factions wanted to attach their teachings and mythical stories to him?

There are plenty of lumber jacks, and yet only Paul Bunyan had stories of miraculous deeds made about him. What is it about this one that so many wanted to attach their stories to?


You're proving my point, giving

no examples from the ancient world, and

no information about this modern example, showing any evidence or reports about his miracle acts.


There are no examples from ancient literature, 1000+ years ago, which is what I was referring to.

My wording, "none had miracle myths attached to them . . ." and "different factions wanted to attach . . ." and "so many wanted . . ." are past tense, meaning a time reference is contained there, and that time was 2000 years ago. You can enlarge that several centuries and stay within the context, but to be saying anything legitimate you must address a time period when there was not a massive publishing industry such as we've had for the last 200 or 300 or 400 years. Obviously there are a few more published stories in recent times than there were 1000 or 2000 years ago. If you cannot figure that out and take it into account, you show that you're not seriously addressing the topic.

If you want to get serious and stop supporting my point (while pretending to refute it), then you'll offer an example from the ANCIENT literature and culture, rather than having to use only modern examples. That you can only offer a modern example proves my point that there are no other examples from the ancient historical period.

So I welcome your confirmation of my point, or verification, by showing your inability to offer any parallel example from the time in question, such as before modern publishing.


Also, you're not being serious if you can't do your homework and provide any information with your example:

You must identify WHEN the HISTORICAL Paul Bunyan lived, at least approximately, and then also identify the date of our earliest sources about him, in the literature (not oral), claiming that he performed whatever miracles he did. And you need more than only one source dating near to the time when he lived (less than 50 (100) years), such as we have 4 (5) sources for the Jesus miracle acts 20-80 years from when the events happened.

And of course you must identify what miracles he did, quoting the source claiming he really did those things and claiming there were witnesses present who saw it.

Also, you must show that there are no other sources of the time claiming that it's only fiction, or at least that the sources saying he really lived and performed those miracles are more numerous than the sources saying it's only fiction. If the sources saying it's fiction are more numerous, then the evidence for the miracle claims is not serious evidence. There are no early sources saying that the Jesus miracle acts are fictional, fraudulent, etc. (probably nothing before 200 AD, definitely nothing before 100 AD).



Paul Bunyan is not Jesus so obviously Paul Bunyan's feats are merely products of folklore and legend.

/special pleading

Further verification that there are no other examples. If there were, a debunker could offer one from the ancient historical period, or from earlier than modern publishing.


This shit again. It takes ZERO time to write fiction. I am the Lord PHenaolCQE#@@, the one true God above ALL OTHER GODS.

There. I just did it, you fucking moron. "You" in the general "fucking moron" sense.

Another fucking moron confirmation, from another would-be debunker unable to give an example from the period of history referred to. This is further confirmation that there are no examples.


So the score now is 3-0. Three confirmationes that Jesus in about 30 AD is the only reputed miracle-worker from ancient times for whom there is any evidence, and zero refutationes.



modern times vs. ancient

This isn't to say that modern examples are excluded from consideration. But if you insist on introducing them and making the issue much more complicated, then the rules of logic have to be applied in such a way as to take account of the differences between the vastly different historical periods.

One adjustment is to take into account the number of sources which say the stories are fiction, and compare the percent of these to those claiming the stories are factual reports of what happened, as the Gospel accounts present the Jesus events as factual.

And there are other adjustments, to take account of the vastly greater volume of published matter in modern times.

If you're unable to find any ancient examples, then you have to explain why. I.e., why this one case only stands apart among all the ancient literature as one for which we have evidence, or multiple written accounts from the time of the reported miracle-worker events, such as we have written accounts from the time for other historical events.
 

Lumpenproletariat

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The evidence for the Jesus miracle acts is not "standard stuff."

I think it is reasonable to agree that someone who now goes by the name of Paul was probably writing about someone (from Judea) and was doing it in the 1st Century CE (as it is now known). One question, regardless of the relative lack of biographical information, is, 'who was he referring to?'

It could have been someone from the dim and distant past, but that doesn't exactly tally with the urgency about this person's death being a signal for supposed end times and the reason for joining a new cult to be a follower. It could have been someone yet to come, but that doesn't tally with him being described as having already been (apparently recently) killed. It could have been someone who was killed in an 'upper realm' but quite honestly that's such an awkward and tenuous reading of the texts that it is arguably just plain daft and imo it is astounding that so many otherwise rational skeptics would even give it the time of day after studying what is written in them. Erich Von Daniken was more plausible, imo.

Also, almost all cults, even if not all, who claim to have had a founder, usually seem to have had one, and especially those who claim to have had a recent founder. By the standards of ancient history generally, Paul is as close to a contemporaneous source as it tends to get when the figure is minor and/or has not written about or for themselves.

It isn't really a question of historicity as much as one of inspiration. We have an anonymous author writing about a person with superhuman powers, pretty standard stuff.

Aside from the fact that Paul is NOT anonymous, how is this "standard stuff"?

If it's "standard," then there must be other writings about such persons with superhuman powers. What are those writings?

If you mean Zeus or Apollo or Jupiter or Hercules, etc., all those writings date from 1000 years or more after those persons lived, if they lived at all.

Who are the "persons with superhuman powers" about whom we have written accounts some time near to when they lived? like less than 100 years? or even 200 years? There seem to be no examples, prior to 100 AD. After that point we start to get something like it, although we have to go 1000 years into the future to find anything for which there's more than one source.

It's not "standard stuff" if the only other such writings are limited to legends which emerged over many centuries of time during which myths could emerge.


2 simple rules:

We need more than only one source.

We need sources near the time the reported events happened (less than 100 (200) years).

And it seems like all anyone can come up with is Joseph Smith and other examples from modern times when every imaginable nutcase is published in multiple outlets/editions/copies.

Of course there's always "standard stuff" like King Pyrrhus and his Magic Toe, and . . .

Whoops! No, that's 400 years later than the reported events. Sorry about that.
 

Koyaanisqatsi

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This shit again. It takes ZERO time to write fiction. I am the Lord PHenaolCQE#@@, the one true God above ALL OTHER GODS.

It takes the passage of time to enable someone to belatedly make unfalsifiable fact claims.

Always wrong. As you already know, I am the Lord PHenaolCQE#@@, the one true God above ALL OTHER GODS a fact that cannot be disproved. What you have not yet heard is that, a mere ten days ago I gave sight to a hundred blind men as witnessed by a thousand others honest and true. This post is the historical proof that what happened on that day truly happened, praise me.

Just yesterday, I discombotulated and passed through your shotrah to cleanse it and prepare its way for FELDSQNDEI3334! The holiest of all transfarbulations.

Done.

There. I just did it, you fucking moron. "You" in the general "fucking moron" sense.

I see you're still bringing your intellectual "A" game.

To a checkers match.
 

Koyaanisqatsi

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Zip! Nada! Goose-eggs.

Do you have no object permanence? When you cover your eyes with your hands, do you think the rest of us disappear? Is that it? We can see you. Nothing you have written means jackshit as has been painfully and exhaustively explained to you numerous times in numerous threads, all of which have you arguing the exact same nonsense over and over and over and over again and always blindly proclaiming victory.

What is the fucking point? Fiction takes zero time to write (other than the physical time it takes it to write, of course). The Bible itself is evidence that there were numerous miracle claims and fantastical divine beings with mystical powers hundreds of years before Jesus ever supposedly walked around.

No one could fact check back then and even if they did, so what? YOU DON'T LISTEN TO FACTS TODAY, so you defeat your own argument! You are living proof that no matter what idiotic claim is made, so long as it was made according to your personal beliefs, you will go to extreme measures to defend it at all costs, no matter how much you have to torture logic and language to do so.

In short, YOUR RESPONSE PROVES YOUR OWN ARGUMENT TO BE FALSE.
 
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skepticalbip

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For something a bit more interesting... What is the best evidence for a historical Achilles? Or if you prefer, what is the best evidence for a historical Horus? Or What is the best evidence for a historical Mithra?

The Jesus stories were stolen a bit from these. We could throw in several other Greek, Egyptian, and Persian gods and demigods too.
 

T.G.G. Moogly

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For something a bit more interesting... What is the best evidence for a historical Achilles? Or if you prefer, what is the best evidence for a historical Horus? Or What is the best evidence for a historical Mithra?

The Jesus stories were stolen a bit from these. We could throw in several other Greek, Egyptian, and Persian gods and demigods too.

Or we could ask what is the best historical evidence for gods and heroes that possess and wield superman-like abilities and powers.
 

Lumpenproletariat

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Whatever the question, the same answer always fits -- Jesus did actually perform the miracle acts.

Bingo! Mystery solved.


What motivated the Christ believers?

What do forum-dwellers view as the best evidence for a historical (as opposed to mythical) Jesus?

William Harwood (Mythology's Last Gods: Yahweh and Jesus) argues that the recording of Josh being baptized by John the Baptist in the Gospels casts such doubt on Jesus' claim to being the Messiah (why would the real Messiah need baptism by another, imposter Messiah?) that it was only included in the Gospel because the fact of his baptism by JtB was so well-known as to be irrefutable. He concludes that Josh must have been a real dude, and separate from the Righteous Rabbi, also named Joshua, who flourished ~ 100 BCE.

What's your take?

Ah yes, the embarrassment argument: they wouldn’t have written this and embarrassed their hero if it weren’t true [i.e., if it were not true that he was baptized by JtB]. That can be a persuasive argument for those who:

1. Haven’t read much fiction.

2. Have never known a good liar.

3. Have never been to an AA meeting to hear drunks try to outdo each other with their stories of how dissolute they had been.

4. Have never been to a (Christian) religious service where the preacher claimed to be a great sinner.

But if JtB was a real character (and I don’t know any major arguments against that) and had a real following, what better way to establish your hero’s credentials than to have him encounter JtB and then, lo and behold, JtB endorses your hero as the real deal, greater than himself? Then a miracle happens and seals the deal. Must be true.

So my conclusion is, the argument fails because it is no more plausible than its counter argument. It doesn’t prove anything one way or the other.

good argument

The Jesus baptism story is not good evidence for or against anything, and it can easily be explained as either true or as fiction added to the account for the reason above, i.e., to win favor from the Baptizer's disciples in the 1st century (not just around 30-40 AD but also later when the Gospels were written). That some Christ believers could invent the story, or promote it without knowing if it was true, is easily explainable without undermining the general presentation of Jesus in the accounts, other than recognizing that there can be some fiction elements.

What needs explaining is why there is only one Messiah figure for whom we have miracle stories in multiple accounts, and written so near to the reported events. And why the gospel writers, or other Christ-believers, had a motive to promote him as this miracle-worker Messiah if he did not do anything special. Or, if he did do something special, then WHAT WAS IT that he did to cause this special attention they gave to no one else?

Some scholars, like Robert Eisenman, think that James (the "brother of Jesus") was actually held in higher esteem among Jews than Jesus was. So then why didn't anyone invent miracle stories for this James? or invent a story that he was baptized by John, if this would gain favor for a popular hero martyr? The probable answer (are you ready for this? it's not rocket science):


James did not do any miracles!
Whereas Jesus did. It's as simple as that.

When someone really performs miracle acts, you say so, and when they don't, you don't.

Question answered -- problem solved. Call on me anytime you need help solving such a problem.



How was Paul able to "sell" his crucified Messiah?

As for the embarrassment criterion in general, Paul (I preach Christ crucified) made it the central pillar of his theology. If it didn't sell tickets Christianity would have closed on opening night.

Also a good argument. Makes sense. It did "sell tickets" right away. And why? because Paul's readers already knew about the crucifixion AND resurrection (and other miracles) of Jesus, and even though they may have been shocked at a crucified Messiah, they knew of the power he showed and that this must have come from a Power SOURCE of some kind, and so somehow he must be this "Messiah" even though they never expected a crucified Messiah. So the following has an answer:

Thanks for your comments. I especially appreciate you giving voice that Yeshua crucified doesn't exactly fit the Jewish concept of a Messiah. I'm interested in what brought Paul success in "sell[ing] tickets" to his interpretation, if you have relevant material to which you could point me, I'd be very grateful.

And the answer, why they were willing to accept a CRUCIFIED Messiah, instead of a Triumphant Conqueror over the Romans, is that he had performed those miracle acts, which Power had to be explained somehow. So this crucified messiah preached by Paul did "sell" because of the miracle acts he had performed. Except for that, there is no explanation how they would come to accept that kind of "messiah" instead of the Triumphant Warrior-Conqueror they had expected.
 

Lumpenproletariat

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Same question. Same only one answer makes any sense.

If one does not accept that Jesus was the Messiah, I think it's absolutely possible also to criticize the efforts of gMatthew and gLuke trying to shoehorn Jesus into it.

Yes, but also one needs to explain WHY they tried to "shoehorn" him into it, and why this shoehorning worked for so many who were persuaded.

And the best answer (no one's offering any other answer) is that Jesus did those miracle acts, including his Resurrection, and everyone was shocked by it and needed an explanation of some kind. For Jews, this explanation had to be that he was the promised "Messiah" who would establish the Kingdom. Even though he was not exactly what they expected in a "Messiah" figure, he was too conspicuous to ignore. They had to incorporate him into their traditional beliefs somehow.

What other explanation is there, except that he did the miracle acts, which made it necessary for them to do something with him? They could not simply ignore it, if he really did those acts. But except for that, they could have ignored him. If he was just another rabbi or prophet, etc., they could have treated him like the dozens/hundreds of earlier prophets and rabbis who were mostly forgotten.


The differing ancestral lines, Matthew's annoying habit of seizing any lines in the OT that might possible show Jesus fulfilling prophecy (I doubt that a Yahweh-worshipper such as Jesus would ever have been called "Emmanuel" ("Allah is on our side")).

OK, that's reasonable. But then, why? Why was this one person seized upon by Mt and Lk, and others, and made into the "Messiah"? Why did they choose only this person, instead of several others who also had a following? Why didn't they make up stories about JtB fulfilling prophecy? or James the Just? etc.? There were plenty of other candidates for this role -- so why did everyone grab onto this one only?

Why does no one answer this question?
 

Lumpenproletariat

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It's one thing if you're telling your own story, it's another when you're trying to say that Jesus was the awesomest Messiah and so much better than all the others, and you have these things he did that are so well-known that they cannot be denied, are easy to criticize and thereby tend to call his Messiahship into question.

Yea, sounds like the same question again: He obviously was NOT the "Messiah" because he didn't meet someone's criteria, etc., so how could anyone buy this claim that he was this "Messiah" which he obviously was not, based on those criteria?

I.e., it's so "easy to criticize" the Messiah idea in his case, so how can we explain that anyone took him to fit this role?

The best answer is that he did the miracle acts, which threw off everyone's criteria and theories about the "Messiah" role and caused an upheaval, such that some changed their previous belief, or modified their expectations about this and placed him into this "Messiah" role, even if it was artificial. Yet they had to, because they could not ignore the unusual power he demonstrated.
 

Koyaanisqatsi

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It's one thing if you're telling your own story, it's another when you're trying to say that Jesus was the awesomest Messiah and so much better than all the others, and you have these things he did that are so well-known that they cannot be denied, are easy to criticize and thereby tend to call his Messiahship into question.

Yea, sounds like the same question again: He obviously was NOT the "Messiah" because he didn't meet someone's criteria

It's not just "someone's criteria," it's the Jewish prophets' criteria.

The best answer is that he did the miracle acts

That's nowhere near an answer, let alone a "best" answer.

which threw off everyone's criteria and theories about the "Messiah" role

Then he could not have been a "messiah," but more importantly, you're simply throwing away every part of the NT that specifically refers back to the prophecies and how Jesus supposedly fulfilled them as proof that he was the one prophesied. That includes Jesus' own (alleged) words, btw.

So, which is it? He was prophesied and therefore a messiah or he wasn't and therefore something else, which instantly renders all previous prophecy completely irrelevant at best?

Prophecy is supposed to be a revelation from God, remember? Not some cheap parlor trick. So you'd be arguing that God revealed a bit of this and a bit of that as signs for the "chosen people" that their salvation was at hand, but then when it came to the actual reveal, nothing of God's previous revelation was materially applicable to Jesus. If God tells me, the Prophet Koyaanisqatsi, that we shall all know the messiah has come because of (1) he will ride a donkey, (2) he will feed people and heal the sick and (3) he will kill all of our enemies with a flood and desolations in preparation for God's appearance on an Earthly throne and all some guy does is ride a donkey and give out some fish and bandaids, then no, he's not the person God told me about.

You don't get to have it both ways in spite of the fact that ALL you keep doing is contradicting yourself in regard to key components--just like the synoptics--in a desperate attempt to have it both ways.

Iow, yet more "evidence" that you simply want to believe whatever the hell you personally want to believe, so just do that and stop with all of this other drivel. It only fools fellow cult members.
 

funinspace

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It's not just "someone's criteria," it's the Jewish prophets' criteria.

The best answer is that he did the miracle acts

That's nowhere near an answer, let alone a "best" answer.

which threw off everyone's criteria and theories about the "Messiah" role

Then he could not have been a "messiah," but more importantly, you're simply throwing away every part of the NT that specifically refers back to the prophecies and how Jesus supposedly fulfilled them as proof that he was the one prophesied. That includes Jesus' own (alleged) words, btw.

So, which is it? He was prophesied and therefore a messiah or he wasn't and therefore something else, which instantly renders all previous prophecy completely irrelevant at best?
Lumpy is really a rather eccentric version of a Christian...He has in the past pretty much thrown out much/most of the OT, along with other parts of the NT. Back in 2018, he even suggested that his Miracle Max healer could have been the son of Quetzalcoatl, if the timing was right or sum such noise... A minor reminder of Lumpy and his mysterious/hidden MHORC (his MHORC is much like the paisley sofa in the Hitchhikers Guide, where one can't see it if one tries to look straight at it):

Yeah, Lumpy also requires his idea of a viable god to be some sort of miracle max healer. And it has to be possible that the people being healed and the witnesses were not followers of said cult at the time, notwithstanding that Joseph Smith still fits this narrative no matter how much Lumpy disassembled. Of course, from the NT no one can really know about the people who purportedly witnessed these events as any outside details are lost in the dust bin of time; but Lumpy insists it is so. But Lumpy never explained why a god needs to be a miracle max. It's all in his Mythical Hero Official Requirements Checklist (MHORC)...


Other opinions on sources:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Two-source_hypothesis

Says the religion famous for burning books.
Though Lumpy really isn't so much a Christian, as he is sort of a deist who is enthralled by Jesus as the mono miracle max god. Lumpy even said that he could have been the son of Quetzalcoatl...
 

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It's not just "someone's criteria," it's the Jewish prophets' criteria.



That's nowhere near an answer, let alone a "best" answer.



Then he could not have been a "messiah," but more importantly, you're simply throwing away every part of the NT that specifically refers back to the prophecies and how Jesus supposedly fulfilled them as proof that he was the one prophesied. That includes Jesus' own (alleged) words, btw.

So, which is it? He was prophesied and therefore a messiah or he wasn't and therefore something else, which instantly renders all previous prophecy completely irrelevant at best?
Lumpy is really a rather eccentric version of a Christian...He has in the past pretty much thrown out much/most of the OT, along with other parts of the NT. Back in 2018, he even suggested that his Miracle Max healer could have been the son of Quetzalcoatl, if the timing was right or sum such noise... A minor reminder of Lumpy and his mysterious/hidden MHORC (his MHORC is much like the paisley sofa in the Hitchhikers Guide, where one can't see it if one tries to look straight at it):

Yeah, Lumpy also requires his idea of a viable god to be some sort of miracle max healer. And it has to be possible that the people being healed and the witnesses were not followers of said cult at the time, notwithstanding that Joseph Smith still fits this narrative no matter how much Lumpy disassembled. Of course, from the NT no one can really know about the people who purportedly witnessed these events as any outside details are lost in the dust bin of time; but Lumpy insists it is so. But Lumpy never explained why a god needs to be a miracle max. It's all in his Mythical Hero Official Requirements Checklist (MHORC)...


Other opinions on sources:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Two-source_hypothesis

Says the religion famous for burning books.
Though Lumpy really isn't so much a Christian, as he is sort of a deist who is enthralled by Jesus as the mono miracle max god. Lumpy even said that he could have been the son of Quetzalcoatl...

Oh boy, atheists pulling reverse No-True-Scotsman arguments on Christians who shy from their personal imagination of what orthodoxy looks like, haven't seen that one in a while. :rolleyes:
 

Keith&Co.

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Oh boy, atheists pulling reverse No-True-Scotsman arguments on Christians who shy from their personal imagination of what orthodoxy looks like, haven't seen that one in a while. :rolleyes:
I do not believe your assessment is accurate.
No one gives a rat's if Lumpy does or does not salt his wafer.
But he has made it clear that he only needs a few, very specific partsvof the gospel to be true in order for him to achieve eternal life. Lumpy accepts the healing miracles, believing them to be evidence that the healer has a line to the divine. If he's got connections there, then his promise of salvation is true, too. And all Lumpy must do is accept the healing as historical, to gain Heaven.
Lumpy has no logical basis for his beliefs, thus his attempts to logically support them fall flat. Time after time after reiteration after repeat.

His arguments thus boil down to 'These miracles are true cuz they just gotta be! They gotta!'

We're nott questioning his authenticity with respect to our estimate of orthodoxy, we're highlighting his efforts to prop up ONLY those parts of the gospel needed for his own, personal ascending, and his willingness to go to fucking ridiculous lengths in that propping.
 

steve_bank

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Look at the religious and political turmoil in the region today. Same turmoil 2000 years ago, different actors. Factions, lrsfers, followers.

It is known there were a number of people claiming to be the messiah, some bandits. There may have been a single person on which the tales were spun, or it may be a composite of a movement.

A wandering rabbi walking around preaching doom and gloom for Israel was probably not unusual. Insurrection was in the air. It was what Jewish prophets always did.

If there was an HJ the Romans had no recode. If he did exist he did not rise to the level of a threat. Others are known. The leader of the Jewish rebellion and Masada.
 

funinspace

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Oh boy, atheists pulling reverse No-True-Scotsman arguments on Christians who shy from their personal imagination of what orthodoxy looks like, haven't seen that one in a while. :rolleyes:
I do not believe your assessment is accurate.
No one gives a rat's if Lumpy does or does not salt his wafer.
But he has made it clear that he only needs a few, very specific partsvof the gospel to be true in order for him to achieve eternal life. Lumpy accepts the healing miracles, believing them to be evidence that the healer has a line to the divine. If he's got connections there, then his promise of salvation is true, too. And all Lumpy must do is accept the healing as historical, to gain Heaven.
Lumpy has no logical basis for his beliefs, thus his attempts to logically support them fall flat. Time after time after reiteration after repeat.

His arguments thus boil down to 'These miracles are true cuz they just gotta be! They gotta!'

We're nott questioning his authenticity with respect to our estimate of orthodoxy, we're highlighting his efforts to prop up ONLY those parts of the gospel needed for his own, personal ascending, and his willingness to go to fucking ridiculous lengths in that propping.
^This! As well as Lumpy makes twisted arguments to suggest his Miracle Max historicity is not like any others, such as the birth of LDS via Smith. He also makes vacuous claims about his Miracle Max Jesus via the Gospels to argue the Jesus miracle healing's are a critical and a evidenced fixture of history, and then ignores what the Gospels have in them at dozens of other points.
 

steve_bank

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p1 Jerusalem is in the gospels
p2 we know Jerusalem existed
p3 gospels say Jesus was in Jerusalem
c1 Jesus must have existed
 

Lumpenproletariat

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Christ-belief is based on the evidence in the historical record --

while DISbelief is based on instinct that the evidence must be wrong.

fact vs. feeling



To say that it is intellectually lazy to give consideration to the possibility that the Jesus character is a complete fabrication is just plain wrong.

It's never intellectually lazy to consider any possibility (even whether the earth is flat, e.g.), as long as it's done seriously, looking at all the evidence and reasoning about the probabilities, etc. Many/most accepted historical facts can be questioned, despite the abundant evidence establishing them. Such questioning and reconsidering might lead to some new understanding of the facts, even though most of the facts would likely end up being reconfirmed.


The most intellectually lazy thing to do would be the opposite: Simply believe without investigation the stuff that has been passed around for centuries.

Yes, like most Christ-DISbelief is based on disregarding the ancient written accounts and instead just believing modern professional Jesus-debunker crusaders who are paid to concoct reasons why you shouldn't believe the evidence and are cited as absolute infallible authorities we must believe without fact-checking them from the ancient written sources. Yes, just believing those debunker pundits, like Richard Carrier and Matthew Ferguson, etc., and citing them as authorities without investigating the stuff they claim is intellectually lazy.


I personally do not think Jesus was completely fictional. But I know many of the extraordinary events described in the canonical gospels (healing of paralysis/blindness/death, transforming water to wine, walking on water, feasts conjured up from mere morsels of food, levitating off into the sky never to be seen again) did not occur.

But you understand that some will be skeptical of your claim to have a time machine to take you back to the past to view the ancient events being replayed and witness what did and did not happen. Why haven't you shared this invention with others and patented it, to make a profit while allowing others to have this ability to witness the events and "know" what did or didn't happen?


I know these things with the same degree (and for the same reasons) that I know there is no man living at the North Pole who gets in a sleigh . . .

What same reasons? The only "reasons" you can offer is your dogma that miracle events can't ever happen despite any evidence that they did happen in some cases though not in others. In the case of the North Pole character there is no evidence, or there is contrary evidence, i.e., there is reason other than just the dogma that it can't be, because there is no written record of his acts saying what particular events were witnessed, such as we have a written record of the miracle acts of Jesus, dating from the time those events happened.

. . . no man living at the North Pole who gets in a sleigh pulled through the air by eight magical reindeer who can fly. These are all equally ridiculous claims and . . .

No, one is about a particular event or set of events in history, at a particular time and place, reported in documents from that time, just as mainline historical events are reported in documents from the time -- which is how we know historical events -- telling us what happened, written by educated people reporting the events they heard of or read about from oral or written accounts of their time. You have no evidence that these accounts are false other than your dogma that no miracle events can ever happen. But you "know" the North Pole character is ridiculous because there is no written account from anyone telling about the witnessed events at a particular time and place. If there were any such serious record saying what was witnessed, you'd cite that record, or those written accounts, and quote to us the reported events.


These are all equally ridiculous claims and there is absolutely no evidence to support them.

Just because you wish the evidence didn't exist does not mean it isn't there. By "absolutely no evidence" you only mean your pontification that no such events can ever happen and so therefore no such evidence can ever exist. But the written record cannot be erased by your proclamation that it can't exist, or that it's "ridiculous" and that "no evidence" is possible, according to your dogma, regardless of any facts showing otherwise.


What's more, with the claims about Jesus, many of these things were allegedly done in front of large crowds often populated with hostile witnesses. Yet not one of these skeptical people ever managed to record anything about these incredible events.

Who says no one did? It's likely someone did write something and it perished, like 99% of all writings perished because they weren't copied. At first little or nothing may have been written because most of those in the crowd couldn't even read, let alone write, so any writing was only by a tiny minority who had that ability, and whatever was written by them simply perished.

There almost certainly was something written during the years before Mark in about 70. The Gospels and Paul's epistles were more ambitious and treated as especially important and were copied, whereas most writings were not copied and perished.


Instead these stories just appear out of whole cloth decades later (and . . .

They're mostly based on earlier reports, some oral and some written. They are just as connected to the original events as most of the accepted accounts we rely on for ancient history. Virtually all our ancient history comes from writings separated by many decades from the events reported in them.

. . . later (and geographically 1500 miles removed).

All the writings except Mark were written either from within Judea/Galilee, or from very near there, also Asia Minor, while Mark might have been written from Rome, but much of the content must have been taken from earlier accounts which were from the location of the events, or very near. And since the events were of special importance, it's appropriate that the "good news" traveled far during the 30s and 40s and got written about in places hundreds of miles away.


I know that the people who invented these stories about Jesus the Magic Jew also invented "historical details" to their stories that . . .

What you know is that we have miracle stories about one person only, and about no one else, so that ALL miracle stories being "invented" and published are being connected to this one historical figure only, and you have no explanation for this. I.e., you cannot explain why no one was inventing miracle stories about John the Baptist the Magic Jew, or about James the Just the Magic Jew, or about the many other prophets and rabbis and "messiah" heroes of one kind or another. You know we have more than 30 miracle stories, including the Resurrection, about only this one "Magic Jew" and about no others even though there were plenty of others who were at least as noteworthy as this one, and you are baffled to come up with any explanation why no one wanted to invent miracle stories about anyone else, which they should have done if your theory is correct.

You can give no reason why all these diverse writers would attribute their miracle stories to only this one historical figure, even though these writers did not agree on their religious and political beliefs and had no common mission or crusade forcing them to focus in on this one only and to make this one their Son of God or their Messiah, when there were so many others to choose from who could just as easily serve as the object for their invented miracle stories.

. . . who invented these stories about Jesus the Magic Jew also invented "historical details" to their stories that never happened, such as the slaughter of the innocents and . . .

Yes, you deduce that some later stories, perhaps invented, were added to the earlier true stories, about real events or miracle acts, that must have happened as the starting point, which explains why this Jesus in Galilee-Judea is the only one to whom any miracles are attributed in the literature, since everyone claiming any miracles thought they were done by this one only and by no one else, because there were so many reports of him doing these acts -- apparently because he actually was doing it -- which explains why everyone believed it but did not believe there were any others doing it.

And you can congratulate yourself for figuring out that some additional "miracles" or "magic" legends of one kind or another might have been added to this miracle-worker, who is the only one to whom any invented miracles could be added, because he was known to be doing such acts, as real events, and there were no others reportedly doing such things. That is the only explanation why no one was inventing miracles for anyone else, even though there were many other "messiah" types available to invent miracles for.

. . . such as the slaughter of the innocents and the insane census that required people to travel to the land of their ancestors to be counted.

Which can easily be explained, once you recognize that this one person only was recognized as a miracle-worker to whom stories needed to be added to explain where his miracle power came from. And they assumed it came from the same God who chose David to be King, and who promised a "Messiah" who would descend from David and be born in David's town of Bethlehem and therefore had to get placed there as his birthplace.

It all adds up when you put the pieces together, but only if it begins with the fact that Jesus did actually perform the miracle acts. Because if he did not, then there's no explanation why they thought he was special and had to be this "Messiah" promised to them, and why they would invent any "magic" legends or miracles for him, in addition to the real ones he actually did. The invented stories make no sense unless there was something there originally for them to be added to, and if there was no one else but this one person only to whom such stories could be added.

There had to be something special or unique about this Jesus person that they would "invent" any stories for him but for no one else, even though there was every reason to also invent miracle stories for many other similar prophets and heroes who, if you're right, stood out as much as Jesus did. If you don't identify what this uniqueness was, then you have not accounted for the "invented" stories, which should have been assigned also to others than only this one, and even more so to others who were even more noteworthy than he was, from all the evidence we have other than the reports of his miracle acts. (E.g., among other scholar-pundits, Dr. Robert Eisenman is one who insists that James the Just was much more popular and more recognized as a Teacher-Authority than was Jesus.)


The birth narratives and genealogies are also suspect at best.

As "invented" stories they are easily explained as needed to put Jesus into Bethlehem as his birthplace, and into David's lineage, in order to make him be the promised "Messiah" and thus explain the miracle acts he was doing. It's those miracle acts which are the starting point for all of it, explaining these written accounts and the "good news" being reported. Without those miracle acts as real events happening in history, and especially his Resurrection, none of this makes any sense. He must have done those acts, and then all of this falls into place and nothing is left unaccounted for (such as why James the Just or John the Baptizer are not also credited with miracle acts). He's the only one who did those acts, and so he's the only one reported as a miracle-worker and to whom some additional miracle stories could be added, including the "messiah" birth stories and prophecy-fulfillment, etc.

Without the miracle acts as real events which started it off, the whole picture of him is incomprehensible and unexplained and impossible.


The zombies walking around Jerusalem on the day Jesus was supposedly crucified is another obvious fabrication.

But why did no one fabricate zombie stories about any of the other Messiah-prophet-rabbi martyr heroes who also had disciples who mourned them and commemorated the moment of their being murdered and assassinated and executed? Why did educated writers invent such stories only about this Jesus victim and no other innocent hero martyrs?


Leaving us with a series of incredible tales every bit as extraordinary as a magical sleigh pulled by flying reindeer, unsupported by even the barest of witness, archaeological evidence, artifacts, etc.

You mean like 99% of our ancient historical events are unsupported by evidence? other than the written accounts which say the events happened? If archaeological findings and artifacts (other than the written accounts) are what is necessary as evidence for the events, then you can kiss 99% of your ancient history good-bye.


These extraordinary events simply did not happen.

Maybe not the zombies and the Star over Bethlehem, inconsistent with the other accounts and reported in one source only. But if we believe the evidence, the miracle acts of Jesus did happen. These are reported in 4 (5) sources, not only one. But you can reject the evidence, if it makes you feel better. You're entitled to base your beliefs on your intuition that miracle events can't ever happen, rather than on the evidence from the written accounts of the time reporting that such events did happen in this case.


Which means what remains (the historical Jesus, assuming one actually existed) bore little, if any resemblance to the legend fabricated through decades of story-telling.

Like 99% of our ancient history, which is dependent on decades of story-telling between the reported events and when the first written accounts appear -- even 100-200 years of story-telling in many cases. So most of our real ancient history remaining after the story-telling is discounted bears "little, if any resemblance to" the history you know of the Romans and Greeks etc. which is all "fabricated through decades of story-telling" by Herodotus and Josephus and Tacitus and Plutarch and other story-tellers? Interesting that, in order to get rid of this historical Jesus miracle-worker, it's necessary to do a hatchet job on at least 90% of our ancient history along with it. Well, whatever it takes to get rid of this pesky Jesus miracle-worker reported in the evidence but which we have to expunge from the record one way or another. If it means tossing out 90% of all the ancient history record, then so be it.


Perhaps one day authentic evidence will surface that does, in fact, corroborate the actual existence of this human being whose influence inspired the eventual legend that developed.

The evidence we already have corroborates his existence better than the evidence for many/most other ancient historical figures. But it's true that much of the detail is not corroborated, or some even discredited. So the accounts corroborate his existence, including the miracle acts which made him noteworthy and explain why we know anything about him at all, while leaving much in doubt about the details. As with all reported historical figures, there is a difference between the part which is corroborated by evidence and the part which is dubious.


But it is not beyond the realm of possibility that he never existed.

You could say that about many/most of the ancient historical figures we assume existed. Again, toss out 90% of our ancient history record.


The only thing beyond the realm of possibility is that the stories about him performing all those miracles are true.

Based only on your dogma that such events are impossible and could not have happened. Not based on any evidence. You have to assume that anything unusual can never happen, so there can be no singular events in history which stand out from others.


The world is filled with tall tales and fantastic mythology.

It's not filled with written accounts of such events reporting what was seen by witnesses and dating from the time of the reported fantastic events, and not contradicted by other evidence or written accounts from the time. When we have written reports of events from extra sources near the time the events happened, not contradicted by other evidence, it's referred to as "history" or "the facts" about what happened. And when the events are highly unusual, we need more than only one source.


That is not extraordinary at all.

It's extra evidence that such events happened in this one case only (whether you call them "extraordinary" or not), and there are no other cases for which there is such evidence.


Flying reindeer and people who can defy the laws of physics by walking on water are the things of myth, not reality.

Yes, when there's no evidence it's myth, or fiction, like the flying reindeer. Whether it's fiction or reality depends on whether there's evidence, and in the case of reported superhuman acts we need extra sources dated near the time of the reported events, corroborating the reports and not contradicting them, such as we have extra sources for the Jesus miracle acts but not for the flying reindeer and other miracle myths which evolved over many generations or centuries.
 
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