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Historical Jesus

steve_bank

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Others are more well read than me on religious history and history in general.

What I believe is that basic huamn dynamics does not chmage. Look at the world today in this case the mid east and project back in time. Corruption, geopolitics, race, ethnicity, rligion, opportunists, power politicsm and nationalism.

You can look at the late Yassar Arafat. As corrupt as it gets, he siphoned aid money, put on a poor persona, and got rich.'
Yet he is a hero in Palestine to many.

Christian opportunists who get rich promoting an interpretation. In the time of Jesus there was undoubtedly financial collusion between the Jewish power elite and Rome. The Temple was a profitable corporation of the day.

The Iranian theocracy. Shia vs Suni Muslims.

Get rid of the supernatural and Jesus makes sense in the politics of the day.
 

T.G.G. Moogly

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One can wonder where the author of Mark got the idea of having Jesus executed as “King of the Jews,” and the answer isn’t really hard to find.

In the chaos surrounding the Jewish wars in the late 60s, there were apparently a number of warring factions supporting candidates for High Priest. When Titus entered Jerusalem in 70, he found one of last surviving pretenders, Simon bar Giora, dressed in purple robes and standing in the Temple. Titus laid waste to Jerusalem and the temple, and took Simon back to Rome to be displayed as "King of the Jews" in a triumphal march, and then executed.”

The author of Mark who, as tradition has it, lived and wrote in Rome, would have been very familiar with this episode.
That is pretty interesting. Thank-you. I think it supports the argument that the protagonist of the gospel tales is an amalgam.
 

steve_bank

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60 Minutes last night had a segment on Caligula and new archeology.

Something I did not know. Most of the popular image on Caligular are fiction which stems form a fictional book based on an ancient account of Caligula. An Italian archeologist commented politics in Rome was no different than today. Biased accounts and fake news with a political motivation.

It is as mythical as the Jesus accounts. Caligula did exist but many of the 'facts' probably did not. Like appointing a horse as a consul.
 

Lumpenproletariat

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Myths about the historical Jesus

Here is a strange sentence from Albert Schweitzer's Quest of the Historical Jesus:

Jesus, in order to help his miracle-loving age, reconciled himself to the necessity of performing miracles.


What "miracle-loving age"? Suppose the "age" of Jesus is understood as the period of about 100 BC to 100 AD. What was "miracle-loving" about this period?

(Or, make it 200 BC - 100 AD. Or 300 BC - 100 AD.)

The sentence seems like an attempt to explain why we have such a flood of miracle stories in the Gospel accounts of the 1st century. It seems to say there was an unusual demand for miracle stories at this time, and Jesus had to meet this demand in order to compete with all the other prophets or rabbis or revolutionaries or messiahs performing miracles in order to win disciples to their crusade.

Whatever sense can be made of this quote, it has to be saying there was an unusual emphasis on miracles or miracle-workers during this period. And yet exactly the opposite is the case. There are virtually no miracle claims or miracle-workers popping up during this period.

What miracles are there at this time? The Ovid-Virgil literature of the time recalls some ancient miracle myths from 1000+ years earlier, but no new miracle myths are created, no new miracle-workers performing anything. In Josephus there are a few charlatans mentioned who attracted some rebels to their military crusade, but no indication anyone took seriously their fraudulent claims of miracle power. Plutarch reports King Pyrrhus and his Magic Toe, but that was 400 years earlier, and Plutarch's writings about this are later than 100 AD. And there was one slave-revolt leader in Sicily who perhaps could blow fire from his mouth somehow.

Wouldn't a "miracle-loving age" offer something more than such pathetic examples as this?

Nothing from the period shows any interest in miracles or miracle-workers in either the Jewish or Greco-Roman cultures.



No Jewish miracles during this period

Jewish literature is devoid of miracles or miracle-workers during this period, with the possible exception of the Daniel stories. But even these are attributed to a Jewish hero from centuries earlier, from the 6th century BC. And the miracle-workers Elijah and Elisha are virtually forgotten during this period. The only mention of either of them in the Hebrew Bible is one prophecy in Malachi 3:23. And there's one other reference in the Apocryphal book Sirach (chapters 44-50) which lists all the Jewish heroes going back to Adam.

The 1st-century Jewish writer Philo the Alexandrian says nothing about miracles, almost totally ignoring Elijah and Elisha. He mentions Elijah briefly and also Moses, but says almost nothing of their miracles. Philo's interest is in philosophy and Torah Law, not miracles.

The Dead Sea Scrolls say virtually nothing about any miracles and report nothing of any miracle-workers.

There are no new miracles or miracle-workers reported in the Book of Enoch and other Apocalyptic literature.



No new Greco-Roman miracles or miracle heroes

You have to go back to the ancient heroes Hercules and Asclepius, at least 1000 or more years earlier, to find Greek or Roman miracle heroes and legends. By a stretch you might say Romulus and King Numa were miracle heroes, but nothing from about 400 or 300 and later. At best there were some new visions of the earlier heroes, such as in Ovid, but no new miracle heroes or stories of any recent miracle events.

The closest to miracle claims of this period are those of the Asclepius healing cult. But for these you have to go back to about 300 BC (or maybe 280 or so). From about 300 BC - 100 AD there are no new Asclepius miracle claims. They suddenly start up again after 100 AD. (A comprehensive listing of all the Asclepius miracle inscriptions is found in Edelstein & Edelstein, Collection and Interpretation of the Testimonies.) The vast majority of these stories are not miracle claims. The Asclepius accounts are about healing treatments, prescriptions, therapies, herbs, ointments, etc., not miracles. Out of the hundreds of quotations, there are about a dozen which are miracle claims, some of which are bizarre and certainly miraculous if they really happened. But all of them are dated 300 BC or earlier, or after 100 AD.

The Asclepius religious cures were the same as in all religions, holding prayer or ritual exercises, and when a patient does recover, credit is given to the deity.

There's some speculation about Pythagoras maybe having some psychic power. And some weird portents or visions are reported in Herodotus. But these go back earlier than the age of Jesus and can't give any explanation for the later sudden explosion of miracle stories in the Gospel accounts.

The singular example of the Emperor Vespasian doing a miraculous cure stands out, but the report of it is still later than 100 AD. This one is not part of a "miracle-loving age" into which the Jesus miracles fit, but belongs to the later new explosion of miracles near 100 AD. The miracle stories in the Book of Acts also fit this category.


So there are virtually no miracle stories or miracle-worker heroes in the period 300 BC to 100 AD which could constitute a "miracle-loving age" to explain the sudden Jesus miracle-worker. Sometime after 30 AD there appears this sudden avalanche of miracle stories, totally out of character for the period. A totally out-of-place miracle hero appears which no one can explain or put into any context for this period of history. And then, in the centuries following, we get a huge barrage of new miracle heroes, saints and others, all having a strange resemblance to the out-of-place miracle hero of the early 1st century.

So it was not the age of Jesus which was "miracle-loving," but the age following him. Prior to Jesus there was no "miracle-loving" element which can be identified, without going back several centuries to trace some ancient legends about Zeus and Apollo and others. But a few decades after Jesus we see a new "miracle-loving" age beginning which far surpasses anything previous. Obviously it's not the "miracle-loving age" which caused the Jesus miracle stories, but rather these sudden stories which must have caused the "miracle-loving age" which follows.

So there is nothing to explain the sudden rash of miracles appearing in the NT writings in the 1st century. It was the opposite of a "miracle-loving age" and having less interest in miracles than any other age before or after. The truth is that miracles were on the decline, and if the Jesus event had never happened, the trend was the slow disappearance of miracle claims and traditions and rituals.
 

Swammerdami

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It may not be what you're looking for, but Augustus Caesar was allegedly sired in 63 BC by the God Apollo.
 

Lumpenproletariat

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It may not be what you're looking for, but Augustus Caesar was allegedly sired in 63 BC by the God Apollo.
You make my point with this example. I.e., it shows you can't come up with a serious example of a reported miracle act during the period of 300 BC to 100 AD. Instant healings -- the lepers, the blind, the mentally ill -- these were reported observed acts done in public and seen by several witnesses.

A serious example of a non-Jesus reported miracle (maybe the best example to be found) is the raising of a dead child back to life, done by Apollonius of Tyana. If one could take it seriously, this would be a real reported miracle act. But miracle birth stories are not serious examples, like the Virgin Mary or the birth of Alexander the Great or Julius Caesar and others.

If you could find a prophet "Elijah" or "Elisha" during this period, that would be a serious example -- raising a dead child, bringing down fire from heaven, multiplying loaves, etc., or if you could come up with an Asclepius raising the dead, like legends reported in some of the poets. But all these are ancient legends from much earlier than the "age" of the 1st century.

You could come up with a prophecy that came true, or a vision or portent, where someone experienced something spiritual. But these obviously are not miracle acts comparable to the reported miracle acts of curing the blind, raising the dead etc. which we see in the Gospel accounts.

The Apollonius of Tyana miracle (raising the dead child) is a copycat story lifted from Luke 7:11-18. Although this Apollonius was a 1st-century figure, the only source for this dates from about 220 AD, and is another example of miracle stories inspired by the 1st-century Jesus miracles and is part of the explosion of new reported miracles after 100 AD.

So, that you cannot produce any serious reported miracle acts during this period illustrates the point that this period, the "age" of Jesus the miracle-worker of about 30 AD, is one otherwise devoid of reported miracle acts and is the opposite of a "miracle-loving age" which could offer a cultural background for the unusual barrage of miracle acts in the Gospel accounts.
 
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steve_bank

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Somebody may have revveided someone who was not really dead, or nused someone given up for dead back to health.

Anyone who had literacy, some education, and a knowledge of medicine of the day would appear miraculous .

Back in the 70s when I was into martial arts I did some research on the original Shaolin monks. They received what in the day was a university educationLiterature, sceince, amd medicine of the day. Temples served as university for the kids of parents who cold afford to pay.

Along with education monks also got hard physical traiing.

When they went out in the world and took up residence in a village they could appear miraculous and supernatural to ignorant peasants.
 

Lumpenproletariat

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Somebody may have revived someone who was not really dead, or nursed someone given up for dead back to health.

Anyone who had literacy, some education, and a knowledge of medicine of the day would appear miraculous.
There's some truth to that.

But there's only one reported "miraculous" case of someone who brought the "dead" back to health and is documented from the written record of the time, which is the Jesus miracle-worker of about 30 AD. And this was during an historical period when there was the LEAST interest in miracles, and LEAST belief in miracle claims, and LEAST demand for miracle-workers. So the explanation how he was credited with such miracle power cannot be that he lived in a "miracle-loving age" which craved after stories of miracle-workers.

A much better explanation is that he actually did perform these acts, and educated writers learned the facts about this and reported it.


Back in the 70s when I was into martial arts I did some research on the original Shaolin monks. They received what in the day was a university education Literature, science, and medicine of the day. Temples served as university for the kids of parents who could afford to pay.

Along with education monks also got hard physical training.

When they went out in the world and took up residence in a village they could appear miraculous and supernatural to ignorant peasants.
And still, the only one for whom we have historical evidence that he appeared "miraculous and supernatural" is this one case from 30 AD.

Though it's true that after about 100 (or 80 or 90) AD there's an explosion of reported new miracle stories, extending far into the future, almost all of which appear as copycat stories patterned after the 1st-century Jesus miracle-worker who was a singular isolated case for which no one has an explanation.

Of course there's always the catch-all explanation to debunk anything you want not to have happened:

"Aaaaaaaaaaa, people just made up shit!"

With this outburst you can dismiss even the moon landing as fiction.
 

lostone

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It may not be what you're looking for, but Augustus Caesar was allegedly sired in 63 BC by the God Apollo.
You make my point with this example. I.e., it shows you can't come up with a serious example of a reported miracle act during the period of 300 BC to 100 AD. Instant healings -- the lepers, the blind, the mentally ill -- these were reported observed acts done in public and seen by several witnesses.

A serious example of a non-Jesus reported miracle (maybe the best example to be found) is the raising of a dead child back to life, done by Apollonius of Tyana. If one could take it seriously, this would be a real reported miracle act. But miracle birth stories are not serious examples, like the Virgin Mary or the birth of Alexander the Great or Julius Caesar and others.

If you could find a prophet "Elijah" or "Elisha" during this period, that would be a serious example -- raising a dead child, bringing down fire from heaven, multiplying loaves, etc., or if you could come up with an Asclepius raising the dead, like legends reported in some of the poets. But all these are ancient legends from much earlier than the "age" of the 1st century.

You could come up with a prophecy that came true, or a vision or portent, where someone experienced something spiritual. But these obviously are not miracle acts comparable to the reported miracle acts of curing the blind, raising the dead etc. which we see in the Gospel accounts.

The Apollonius of Tyana miracle (raising the dead child) is a copycat story lifted from Luke 7:11-18. Although this Apollonius was a 1st-century figure, the only source for this dates from about 220 AD, and is another example of miracle stories inspired by the 1st-century Jesus miracles and is part of the explosion of new reported miracles after 100 AD.

So, that you cannot produce any serious reported miracle acts during this period illustrates the point that this period, the "age" of Jesus the miracle-worker of about 30 AD, is one otherwise devoid of reported miracle acts and is the opposite of a "miracle-loving age" which could offer a cultural background for the unusual barrage of miracle acts in the Gospel accounts.
Where do you get that? If Julius was assassinated in 44 BC, he was only 19 at the time?

I thought ole Julius was born circa 100 BC, and died aged 55-56. Maybe Apollo could have sired him 100 BC, but not 63 BC.
 

thingsweneverdid

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Myths about the historical Jesus

Here is a strange sentence from Albert Schweitzer's Quest of the Historical Jesus:

Jesus, in order to help his miracle-loving age, reconciled himself to the necessity of performing miracles.


What "miracle-loving age"? Suppose the "age" of Jesus is understood as the period of about 100 BC to 100 AD. What was "miracle-loving" about this period?

I think when he says "miracle-loving age" he's referring to the Greco-Roman era which did have a lot of stories about miraculous things happening, whether they were in the past or current. There's the miracles that were performed by the emperor Vespasian. Scholars actually think some of the miracles Jesus performs in Mark were influenced by the miracles performed by Vespasian. Pretty much all the miracles Jesus performs in the New Testament texts were what was expected from a divine being or deity. The writers of the New Testament texts were just taking typical miracles that were performed by divine beings in Greco-Roman culture and applying them to Jesus. Of course, it's possible that Jesus was known as some kind of miracle worker, but I doubt anything in the gospels goes back to any actual event.

There's a whole book about this subject called "Miracles In Greco-Roman Antiquity: A Sourcebook" by Wendy Cotter.

"Spit in Your Eye: The Blind Man of Bethsaida and the Blind Man of Alexandria", Eric Eve, New Test. Stud. 54 (Cambridge University Press, 2008):
Two points stand out: whatever the precise sequence of events and whatever happened in the Serapeum, Tacitus and Suetonius are agreed that Vespasian’s healing miracles were closely associated with the god Sarapis and Vespasian’s visit to his principal temple, and that the vision granted Vespasian in that temple was a confirmation of his kingship... The healings carried out by Vespasian seem designed to demonstrate the close association between the new emperor and the god. Healing was one of the powers long attributed to Sarapis, and the first healing miracle to be attributed to him was restoring sight to a blind man, one Demetrius of Phaleron, an Athenian politician. Vespasian’s use of his foot to effect the other healing, whether by standing on the man’s hand (as in Tacitus) or touching the man’s leg with his heel (as in Suetonius) should be understood in light of the fact that a foot could be seen as a symbol of Sarapis. In some minds Vespasian’s two healings might be taken as a sign, not simply that Vespasian enjoyed Sarapis’s blessing, but that he was in some sense to be identified with the god. This is in part suggested by the ancient Egyptian myth that the kings of Egypt were sons of Re, the sun-god, and is further borne out by the fact that Vespasian was saluted as ‘son of Ammon’ as well as ‘Caesar, god’ when he visited the hippodrome only a short while later... That stories about healing blind men with spittle should independently arise around 70 CE in both Mark’s Gospel and Roman propaganda would be something of a coincidence. The coincidence becomes all the more striking given the parallel function of the stories: the Blind Man of Alexandria is a story that served to help legitimate Vespasian’s claim to the imperial throne, a claim also supported by various prophecies including Josephus’s reinterpretation of Jewish messianic expectations. The Blind Man of Bethsaida leads into Peter’s confession of Jesus as the messiah, but a messiah apparently misconceived in emperor-like terms. Even if this were mere coincidence it seems likely that Mark’s audience would hear one story in terms of the other, but it seems even more likely that there is no coincidence and that Mark deliberately shaped the Blind Man of Bethsaida with the Blind Man of Alexandria in mind.

I actually made a post on this subject here:

Although I posted on a mythicist subreddit, I'm actually not a mythicist.

 
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Lumpenproletariat

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Myths about the historical Jesus

Here is a strange sentence from Albert Schweitzer's Quest of the Historical Jesus:

Jesus, in order to help his miracle-loving age, reconciled himself to the necessity of performing miracles.


What "miracle-loving age"? Suppose the "age" of Jesus is understood as the period of about 100 BC to 100 AD. What was "miracle-loving" about this period?

I think when he says "miracle-loving age" he's referring to the Greco-Roman era which did have a lot of stories about miraculous things happening, whether they were in the past or current.
No. There are no Greco-Roman "miraculous things happening" reported during the "age" of Jesus the miracle-worker of 30 AD. I.e., from about 300 BC to 100 AD. Whatever pagan references to miracles to be found are only about ancient heroes and deities, from many centuries earlier. I.e., there were no new miracles or miracle-workers reported in the writings during this period.

(Though perhaps as early as 80 or 90 AD we begin seeing a revival of miracle stories. Not earlier. So the alleged "miracle-loving age" in question might be from 300 BC to 80 or 90 AD.)

But even if we go back farther into the Greco-Roman era, there are virtually no "miraculous things" reported by anyone near to the time of the reported events. All the miracle claims are throwbacks to many centuries earlier, like miracles of Hercules or Apollo and others 1000+ years earlier (if those characters were real people, or we can identify when they existed according to the believed tradition).

There is a huge difference between a reported "miracle" told to us by someone near to the time it happened (if it happened) and a "miracle" told to us by someone several centuries later. The Jesus miracles are in the former category, reported to us within a normal time span for credible historical events of ancient history, which mostly come from sources 50-100 years after the reported event(s). Whereas the Greco-Roman miracle heroes are only from sources many centuries later than when those heroes lived (if they lived, as some of them probably did, minus the mythologizing).


There's the miracles that were performed by the emperor Vespasian. Scholars actually think some of the miracles Jesus performs in Mark were influenced by the miracles performed by Vespasian.
Only the most ignorant scholars. The Mark account dates from about 70 AD, prior to the Vespasian events, and the Vespasian story is not reported until after 100 AD. And the common scholarly view of Mark is that his stories are taken from oral reports going back earlier than 70 AD.

Which scholars believe that writings from about 70 AD were inspired by events which happened several years later? Certainly not Bart Ehrman and most non-Christian scholars who think the stories in Mark are from earlier, especially the resurrection. But also the healing miracles. Though the Vespasian miracles (only 2) are not reported until much later, it's reasonable to believe that some such miracle claim existed earlier, just as it's reasonable to believe the Jesus miracle acts existed prior to when they were first reported in about 70 AD.

(In the case of the Jesus Resurrection miracle, the first report of it is in the 50s, from the Apostle Paul.)

And it's easy to explain the origin of the Vespasian miracle claim: He was the most powerful and most popular celebrity folk hero in the world at that time, and it was normal for such a famous military-political character to get publicized and mythologized in popular culture. The miracle stories about Jesus were already circulating, and so the idea of divine cures was taking hold, so that the Vespasian story caught on, as part of a new trend which did not exist before. No earlier Roman emperor was credited with performing any such miracle.

And unlike the Vespasian case, we cannot explain how the Jesus miracle stories got started, because Jesus had no wide popularity or influence at the time and so could not have been the object of wide popular mythologizing.


Pretty much all the miracles Jesus performs in the New Testament texts were what was expected from a divine being or deity.
Whether such miracles were "expected" or not, there are no other persons or deities or heroes presented to us in the written record as performing such acts.

It's true there are some miracle deeds in stories about Hercules and other heroes, but only in accounts written many centuries later, after many generations of mythologizing, not reported in any account having historical credibility for the time of the alleged events.

If the point is that Jesus is the only one who ever reportedly did what was expected from a divine being or deity, OK, that may be. But there were prayers and rituals performed to various ancient gods, and sometimes the worshipper received a beneficial outcome and so attributed this to the god.


The writers of the New Testament texts were just taking typical miracles that were performed by divine beings in Greco-Roman culture and applying them to Jesus.
No, not performed by anyone in history and reported in written accounts from the time. There are no other reported cases of humans being instantly healed (in written accounts near the time it allegedly happened), or of a hero rising back to life after being killed.

The phrase "typical miracles that were performed by divine beings" of Greece/Rome etc. is a common refrain repeated again and again by Jesus-debunkers, but no one can ever quote the written accounts which narrate any of these "typical miracles" performed by those divine beings. There are no healers reported in the ancient accounts who perform instant healing miracles such as we see Jesus reported in the Gospel accounts. If those written accounts did exist, someone would quote from them. But no one ever does.

If one goes back farther, prior to the "age" of Jesus, like 500 BC and earlier, it's possible to find a few miracles, though nothing reported in any source near to the time of the alleged miracle event. And no Jesus-like miracle-worker.

Of course, it's possible that Jesus was known as some kind of miracle worker, but I doubt anything in the gospels goes back to any actual event.
Of course out of prejudice you can dismiss any written account you want. But that's just a subjective impulse, not based on evidence. The only evidence we have for what happened is what is reported in the written accounts of the time. The best rule is to accept the written accounts, as far as they are not contradicted by other accounts, and to be more skeptical about anything highly unusual, like miracles. For anything unusual, we need more than only one account, and we need something dated reasonably close to when the events happened, unlike the popular pagan myths which were not recorded until many centuries later, even 1000+ years later in many cases. For normal events it's reasonable to believe a source 200 or 300 or 400 years later (if it's not contradicted). But not for miracle stories.

The Gospel accounts meet this requirement for credibility. But where they have discrepancies, or contradictions to each other, they are less credible. When the Synoptic Gospels agree with each other in contradiction to John, we should reject John in favor of the earlier Synoptic accounts, since they corroborate each other. Corroboration of separate accounts increases the credibility.

These writings are entitled to the same treatment as for other written accounts. We should accept ALL the written accounts as sources for what happened (i.e., what happened near the time in question) rather than single out certain ones out of prejudice and disqualify them from consideration. Rather, they should be compared to all the other accounts, and where they are not contradicted, they should be considered as credible. It's reasonable to believe them (though not with absolute certainty) even for miracle claims, if they are corroborated by other sources, while also not being contradicted.


(this Wall of Text to be continued)



 

Lumpenproletariat

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It is necessary to acknowledge the one Jesus miracle that is borrowed from the earlier culture:

The fish-and-loaves story appears to be a copycat story borrowed from a similar story of the Jewish prophet Elisha (II Kings 4:42-44).

Except for this one case, there is no reported Jesus miracle act which can be traced back to something in the earlier culture, Jewish or pagan.

No one can show an earlier miracle-worker performing the miracles we see in the Gospel accounts. There are earlier miracle claims which have no particular connection to Jesus in the Gospels. It's true that you can draw parallels between Christianity and earlier traditions, or the current culture of the 1st century. There are some similarities in the ritual observances and symbolism and teachings -- even the virgin birth. But no parallel of the Christ miracle acts to those of earlier Jewish or pagan heroes/gods/deities.

Obviously all "miracle" acts are some kind of act of power. All cultures of all historic periods have their folklore and tales of wondrous events or divine intervention into human affairs. But there is nothing special in the Jesus miracle acts connecting them to any previous particular miracle heroes doing something similar, to show any dependency of the Jesus miracles on those earlier cases.

(with the sole exception of the fish-and-loaves story being connected to II Kings 4:42-44)
 

Lumpenproletariat

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(from 2 posts back): Which scholars believe that writings from about 70 AD were inspired by events which happened several years later? Certainly not Bart Ehrman and . . .
(i.e., the Mark miracle "spit" stories inspired by the Vespasian "spit" miracle possibly happening at about the same time)

Maybe it was not "several years later" -- possibly the 2 are at about the same time.

I'm trying to determine when the reported Vespasian miracle event happened (if it happened). It's possible that it was about 70 rather than later. So if Mark was influenced by this event, it means he wrote his account under this influence at about the same time that the Vespasian miracle event reportedly happened.

It's not an impossibility.

But highly unlikely. If Mark would be influenced by this event, it would be by his acquiring it from a published account, which did not exist that early. Unless he was very directly involved in the political events at a high level, in Rome, and had some connection to the influence on Vespasian, persuading him to use the ancient Serapis healing god as a tool to promote him to power, or to solidify his power.

More likely is that there was a "spit" idea circulating around, probably originating from some dissident Jewish factions, like the Qumran cult, which had some ideas about "spit" having some kind of healing power, or creative power.

Nevertheless, it may be that the Vespasian event happened in about 70 AD, near the time when the Gospel of Mark was produced or put together in its final form. Even if these (the Mark account and the Vespasian event) were at about the same time, the actual sources Mark used were likely from many years earlier, not something he was only just taking from someone near to Vespasian.

The very worst possibility is that Mark had these stories in his sources and then, influenced by the Vespasian "spit" story, made a sudden decision to add the "spit" idea into these two healing miracles in his account, undermining his credibility as to the details of these healing events.

I.e., Mark 8:22-26 and 7:31-37 (the 2 Mark "spit" miracles).

All this indicates is that the "spit" idea might be fictional, not in Mark's original sources of the story, but not that the original healing story is fictional. It's clear that some details of the miracle act could get distorted and might be fictional. But the general consistency of these accounts, in general, corroborating that Jesus performed such acts, is good evidence that he did these healing acts, regardless of the details in each case.

It's clear that discrepancies in the details are a possibility. Where Mark is quoted by Mt and Lk, the details might get changed slightly, from the earlier account to the later. Such minor discrepancies don't undermine the general credibility of these accounts as evidence that Jesus performed such acts.

Note that both Matthew and Luke omit the Mark "spit" miracles, even though they both rely heavily on the Mark miracles.
 
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steve_bank

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Whenever I see 'historical Jesus'Ii wnat to thnk hysterical Jesus as in rollingon the ground laughing.

Silly me.
 

Lumpenproletariat

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---- "Just the facts, ma'am, just the facts."
(continued from previous Wall of Text)


Thingsweneverdid: The healings carried out by Vespasian seem designed to demonstrate the close association between the new emperor and the god. Healing was one of the powers long attributed to Sarapis, and the first healing miracle to be attributed to him was restoring sight to a blind man, one Demetrius of Phaleron, an Athenian politician. ("Spit in Your Eye: The Blind Man of Bethsaida and the Blind Man of Alexandria", Eric Eve, New Test. Stud. 54 (Cambridge University Press, 2008)
Note that the only evidence offered for the Vespasian miracle(s) is a quote from a modern scholar. The real sources for this are the Tacitus and Suetonius accounts. But these are not quoted because they are not very convincing. Nevertheless this is evidence and should be used if we're going to take seriously a claim that Vespasian performed any such miracle. And these sources cannot be discounted. The Tacitus account is adequate enough, but the Suetonius version is not very convincing.

Here's the Suetonius account of the miracle:
A poor man who was blind, and another who was lame, came both together before him, when he was seated on the tribunal, imploring him to heal them,3 and saying that they were admonished in a dream by the god Serapis to seek his aid, who assured them that he would restore sight to the one by anointing his eyes with his spittle, and give strength to the leg of the other, if he vouchsafed but to touch it with his heel. At first he could scarcely believe that the thing would any how succeed, and therefore hesitated to venture on making the experiment. At length, however, by the advice of his friends, he made the attempt publicly, in the presence of the assembled multitudes, and it was crowned with success in both cases.
So the only statement here that Vespasian was successful in doing this cure of 2 victims is: "he made the attempt publicly, in the presence of the assembled multitudes, and it was crowned with success in both cases."

So this is one source, for what it's worth.

Here's the other source (Tacitus) for the same miracle event:
One of the common people of Alexandria, well known for his loss of sight, threw himself before Vespasian's knees, praying him with groans to cure his blindness, being so directed by the god Serapis, whom this most superstitious of nations worships before all others; and he besought the emperor to deign to moisten his cheeks and eyes with his spittle. Another, whose hand was useless, prompted by the same god, begged Caesar to step and trample on it. Vespasian at first ridiculed these appeals and treated them with scorn; then, when the men persisted, he began at one moment to fear the discredit of failure, at another to be inspired with hopes of success by the appeals of the suppliants and the flattery of his courtiers: finally, he directed the physicians to give their opinion as to whether such blindness and infirmity could be overcome by human aid. Their reply treated the two cases differently: they said that in the first the power of sight had not been completely eaten away and it would return if the obstacles were removed; in the other, the joints had slipped and become displaced, but they could be restored if a healing pressure were applied to them. Such perhaps was the wish of the gods, and it might be that the emperor had been chosen for this divine service; in any case, if a cure were obtained, the glory would be Caesar's, but in the event of failure, ridicule would fall only on the poor suppliants. So Vespasian, believing that his good fortune was capable of anything and that nothing was any longer incredible, with a smiling countenance, and amid intense excitement on the part of the bystanders, did as he was asked to do. The hand was instantly restored to use, and the day again shone for the blind man. Both facts are told by eye-witnesses even now when falsehood brings no reward.

This has to be acknowledged as legitimate evidence. But note that Vespasian himself is very doubtful of the request and consults his medical experts. The miracle-worker himself, the Emperor, doesn't have any knowledge of the curing power, but he is instructed by the worshipers and the Serapis experts who know the proper ritual to be performed.

Tacitus seems to say that even by the time he writes of this, about 105 AD, the eye-witnesses still say it happened. This lends some credibility to the claim. Perhaps they really believed that the 2 victims recovered.

On the other hand, the Suetonius account only says the miracle attempt was successful, with no reference to the victims recovering, and with little mention of witnesses.

So we have 2 sources saying this miracle happened. This is evidence that something happened, one time only, with Vespasian somehow being an agent through which some kind of superhuman healing power happened to these 2 victims. How good is this evidence?

There are only 2 sources, for one event, and except for these 2 we have no evidence that Vespasian ever performed any miracles. 2 sources are better than only one. But we have only this one claimed miracle event (or one event with 2 victims healed), and only the 2 sources. Except for this there is no evidence that Vespasian ever did miracle acts.

Possibly you could argue that at least there's reason to believe Vespasian on this one occasion did a miracle. Or, some great divine intervention happened this one time in the career of Vespasian.

But there's a major factor which casts serious doubt on the whole thing: it's so easy to explain how Vespasian got credited with doing such a miracle, even if it did not happen at all. If the miracle event is easily explained, by ordinary natural means, then this natural explanation is more plausible than a miracle explanation.


the natural explanation for the Vespasian "miracle"

Emperor Vespasian was a famous popular hero celebrity, having millions of admirers across the Roman Empire, and such a popular hero can easily receive attention, in the pop media and in gossip, to bestow honors upon him, crediting him with miracles he never really performed. This had obviously happened, in some similar ways, to earlier heroes like Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, Caesar Augustus, and others.

And throughout history there are so many examples of a widely popular hero being credited with miracles or amazing achievements not normally possible. And this is especially so over time, after generations of further story-telling in which the original character gets expanded into a superman figure.

So this mythologizing element can much more easily explain how this miracle came to be credited to Vespasian, even if an actual healing never really happened. If there's another explanation why the worshipers believed it, then it doesn't matter that no healing really happened. Their belief can be explained even if a real healing did not happen here, and so it's more likely to be a psychological and religious interpretation and wish, rather than actual miracle event of someone healed.

(And yet, if the evidence in a particular case is especially strong, the miracle claim might still be the best explanation. But this evidence from Suetonius and Tacitus, in the Vespasian case, is dubious. The two writers seem to be harboring much doubt about it, and are just going along with it because of Vespasian's wide popularity.)

This is a normal pattern when religious people pray and do religious rituals, without any real healing of the victim(s) prayed for, because the worshipers are addicted to their popular hero or religious celebrity who inspires them to set aside their critical judgment and believe the narrative being presented to them. It's not unusual for worshipers to believe a miracle happened, such as miracle recovery from an illness, when these 2 factors are at work: 1) they pray to their ancient god which they already believe in as worshiping members of his cult, convinced that the Divine Power will intervene on their behalf, and 2) they focus on a popular hero figure, or religious charismatic, who has widespread recognition and status. So because of these 2 factors being present, a psychological explanation is more realistic, considering the vast popularity of Vespasian which easily explains why the miracle was believed even if a real miracle event did not happen.

contrast to the reported Jesus miracle acts: But this cannot explain the Jesus miracle healing stories, because he was not a famous or popular or powerful celebrity during his lifetime, or even for several decades afterward. Also, Jesus did not have status in any priesthood practicing an ancient religious cult ritual, nor did he invoke the ancient healing god or cult to give authority to him, as the Serapis worshipers recognized the authority granted to Vespasian.


Vespasian’s use of his foot to effect the other healing, whether by standing on the man’s hand (as in Tacitus) or touching the man’s leg with his heel (as in Suetonius) should be understood in light of the fact that a foot could be seen as a symbol of Sarapis. In some minds Vespasian’s two healings might be taken as a sign, not simply that Vespasian enjoyed Sarapis’s blessing, but that he was in some sense to be identified with the god. This is in part suggested by the ancient Egyptian myth that the kings of Egypt were sons of Re, the sun-god, and is further borne out by the fact that Vespasian was saluted as ‘son of Ammon’ as well as ‘Caesar, god’ when he visited the hippodrome only a short while later.
Note that there is no evidence here that a miracle healing took place. Virtually all the "evidence" for the Vespasian miracle is a focus on the symbolism and the ritual performance of the healing act, without reference to any actual healing which took place. The pagan miracle healings, such as they are, say little or nothing about a victim actually recovering, but only like to focus on the symbolism and interpretation and ancient teachings and rituals. With virtually nothing to tell us that a victim actually recovered.

When you consider any claim that a miracle took place, especially an instant healing, like we see in the Gospel accounts, you must look at the claim that the victim actually did recover, and require the description of this recovery. Is the recovery of the victim highlighted in the story? Or is it all about the fancy ritual, the fancy chanting and praying, the application of religious objects, the charisma of the charismatic healer, the appeal to the ancient gods, and other symbolism apart from the actual recovery of the victim?

Virtually all the ancient miracles in the written record are focused on the symbolism and religious pomp and intensity of the worshipers and priests and pundits, with little to say about benefits experienced by the devotees as a result of a miracle being performed. Does the written account tell us of the benefits to the victims? Far more likely than this are to be found praises to the god and his priests, and presentation of symbols and religious ceremony and commands to obey, and even threats of punishment and destruction of the enemies of the god, or enemies of the established priesthood and its laws and symbols.

And this miracle of Vespasian fits this pattern, with little said about the benefits or recovery of the victims or worshipers seeking the miracle power from him, while instead emphasizing the symbols and rituals, and glorifying the deity seeking to impose the rituals and symbolism onto the worshipers.

We have to ask: Where is the actual description of a recovering victim who is healed? In the Gospel accounts of Jesus healing victims, we see such description. But there is little or no such description in the Vespasian healings and other pagan examples.


That stories about healing blind men with spittle should independently arise around 70 CE in both Mark’s Gospel and Roman propaganda would be something of a coincidence.
Possibly there's a connection. But nothing to suggest that the Mark miracle stories are fictional. The "spit" connection could be a fictional element added later, maybe inspired by whatever also inspired this in the Vespasian story. It's likely Mark added some elements from the popular culture which were not in the original events from 30 AD, or in his earlier sources.


The coincidence becomes all the more striking given the parallel function of the stories: the Blind Man of Alexandria is a story that served to help legitimate Vespasian’s claim to the imperial throne, a claim also supported by various prophecies including Josephus’s reinterpretation of Jewish messianic expectations. The Blind Man of Bethsaida leads into Peter’s confession of Jesus as the messiah, but a messiah apparently misconceived in emperor-like terms.
Let's assume Mark's placement of this story is to introduce the Peter confession. This has nothing to do with whether the healing event actually happened. Mark's "Messiah" pronouncement might be a fact -- Peter actually said it -- or only Mark's theory which he put into Peter's mouth. Either way, it doesn't answer whether the miracle claim is credible. Did this healing act really happen or did it not? This is not answered by speculating what purpose the story is being used for by the author, in placing it into the account.

It's fine to ask the question why Mark includes this story, and why he puts it in this spot prior to the Peter confession. And it's reasonable to question the "spit" element in the story, because of the similarity to the Vespasian story -- coincidence -- which also includes the "spit" theme. But none of that leads to the conclusion that this healing of a blind man did not really happen.

If you're judging that Mark must have concocted a healing story here, in order to provide an occasion for his "Jesus as the messiah" thesis, there's a further question that also must be asked: Why did Mark believe Jesus was this messiah? or why did he promote this Jesus Messiah idea? and in particular: Why Jesus and not someone else? like John the Baptist or James the Just? Why did Mark choose this Jesus character to be his messiah figure and not someone else? Were there not many other candidates for this role who would have been just as logical as Jesus? There were many other popular rabbis who had just as many disciples as Jesus -- many other revered prophets and rebels and martyrs who were just as entitled to the "Messiah" label as Jesus was. What did Jesus do that made him the proper choice to be placed into this role rather than the many others who could have been selected?

And likewise, why did several others, especially writers like Paul, designate this Jesus person rather than someone else for the Messiah role? This is a fundamental question which gets neglected. But you must try to answer this before you conjecture that the writer fabricates miracle stories in order to promote this Jesus Messiah theory as some kind of crusade. You have to explain how several different writers all converged onto this one Jesus figure for their crusade, making this one person their Messiah instead of many others who were equally qualified to fill this role. What brought all these divergent writers into this single project to promote only this one minor dissident character who got crucified as a rebel of some kind? Why this person in particular and no one else?

We have five of them who proclaim that this one was killed and buried and then resurrected back to life, bodily, being seen by many witnesses together -- and the four gospel writers all saying that he performed miracle healing acts, unlike anything found previously in the written record. How do you know they aren't reporting this for the simple reason that they believe it based on the evidence they've acquired? These reports reflect problems of discrepancies and doubt as to some details and yet agreement and corroboration on the main points, all serving to verify the overall picture of a person who did these acts in the time and places identified in the accounts.

If this picture of a miracle-worker is basically true, regardless of all the fine details, then we have the complete picture, with all the questions answered. And this agrees with the conjecture that a miracle story, such as the blind man at Bethsaida, is presented in a way to promote the Jesus Messiah theory, which the writer finds necessary to explain these unusual facts in his sources. That the miracle story is used to promote the theory doesn't in any way undermine the miracle story, because it's precisely this and other such evidence which has led the writer to adopt this theory.


Even if this were mere coincidence it seems likely that Mark’s audience would hear one story in terms of the other, but it seems even more likely that there is no coincidence and that Mark deliberately shaped the Blind Man of Bethsaida with the Blind Man of Alexandria in mind.
If "deliberately shaped" means only that the "spit" element was added by Mark, that does not undermine the credibility of this blind man story in general, as another case of a Jesus miracle healing act. And so maybe it's not a coincidence, but there is such a connection of the Vespasian story to Mark's use of this "spit" theme which he adds to his account. So it's not Mark's blind man story per se that is inspired by the Vespasian story, but rather the "spitting" idea he adds to the story.

And again, this idea might have been floating around generally, so that the Mark story and the Vespasian story are still not directly connected, but rather, the two are connected to this "spit" idea which was used by both. Either is possible, indirect or direct connection of the two miracle stories, with the INdirect connection seeming more plausible.


(this Wall of Text to be continued)
 

Cheerful Charlie

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Lucian's Alexander of Abonoteucius, or Alexander The Miracle Monger. A faker who founded a false religion. His most notable fraud, a tame python with a fake humanhead. Glycon. The "fatheads" of Abonoteuchius wanted miracles and Alexander gave themwhat he wanted. Google, Glycon, images for statues of Glycon.
 

steve_bank

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One time the cable company got the feeds mixed up and I got Egyptian and Indian TV.

An Indian media channel was showing the image of a statue being fed by a spoon and the food appearing to go into th mouth.The commentator was not speaking English but was excited and it was not hard to see what he was probably saying. Somebody on the forum from India said it was common to fake miracles.

From a history of Islam I read it was not ubkown for someone to send agents into an area and spread a prophesy. Then someobe woud appear to fulfill the prophesy.
 

Jarhyn

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How about this for the history of Jesus: qhttps://en.m.wikisource.org/wiki/Translation:Story_of_Jesus

The Toledot has had it's history in being independently documented by Jews for just as long as the gospels have been known.

It seems to indicate that Jesus is a name used for people whose name has been stricken.
 

thingsweneverdid

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I didn't realize you were a Christian. Had I known I wouldn't have replied to your post. I don't get into discussions about whether miraculous things happened 2000 years ago. It's completely absurd. There's just no way to have a logical discussion about that topic. It's like interacting with conspiracy theorists, they can just come up with any excuse to believe whatever they want. It's a complete waste of time.
 

lostone

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We could be arguing with a heretic or some other sort of stand-alone, which might make it worthwhile. Heresies and independents always make for good discussions.
 

steve_bank

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What does Nostradamus have to say about it?
 

Lumpenproletariat

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---- "Just the facts, ma'am, just the facts."
response to thingsweneverdid, Aug 2, #812

(continued from previous Wall of Text)

The nonexistent "miracle-loving age" of Jesus

As already mentioned, Asclepius was also known for miraculous healings.

I.e., the priests at the temples were reported to do divine healings in the name of the ancient healing deity, as is common with religious cults in all periods of history.

Of all the ancient legends and miracle myths, those of Asclepius are suggested as the ones most resembling the healings of Jesus. If Asclepius really lived, it was probably around 1500 BC, perhaps getting a reputation as a healer, and legends evolved over the centuries.

But there's no documentation of Asclepius the actual ancient person who might have had some healing skill, such as we have documentation of the Jesus healings, in writings of the time. No written record of the historical Asclepius, such as we have a written record of the historical Jesus.

All legends about him, the actual historical Asclepius, are found in much later writings which passed on the myths which evolved. But the reported miracles for which there is some evidence are those which happened at the later shrines or temples or statues of Asclepius, which were performed by the Asclepius priests, at the temples, the main one being at Epidaurus in Greece. These are mostly from 400-300 BC. There are no miracle healings of Asclepius reported, among the inscriptions, from about 300 BC (or 250 BC) to about 100 AD, at which time there was a revival of the ancient cult and miracle claims.

The following "miracle" (maybe it qualifies to be called that) is probably from the very early period, 4th or 3rd century BC, or if not that, then probably it's among the ones appearing after 100 AD. There is no way to determine where this is to be found, as the author, Delbert Burkett, does not give proper documentation to locate it. The proper reference for all the Asclepius inscriptions is in Emma J. Edelstein and Ludwig Edelstein, Collection and Interpretation of the Testimonies.

Maybe the quote is accurate, though there's no way to check it without a reference other than Burkett's "W3" which doesn't locate it in the Edelstein collection.

An introduction to the New Testament and the origins of Christianity (Cambridge University Press, 2002), Delbert Burkett:

Here's the "miracle" supposed as comparable to the Jesus healing miracles:

W3: "A man with all the fingers of his hand crippled except one came to the god as a supplicant. When he saw the tablets in the temple, he doubted the healings and sneered at the inscriptions. While he slept, he dreamed that he was divining with bones under the temple. As he was about to cast the bones, the god appeared, seized his hand, and stretched out the fingers. He seemed to bend the hand to stretch out the fingers one by one. When he had straightened all of them, the god asked him if he still doubted the inscriptions on the tablets in the temple. “No,” he said. Asclepius replied, “Since before you did not believe things that are not incredible, from now on your name will be ‘Skeptic.’ ” When it was day, he came out healed."

One possibility is that some kind of therapy was performed on him as he slept. The Asclepius cult did practice actual cures which were partly legitimate or effective. Some of these were done when the patient slept. Depending on what the affliction was, maybe it was curable, or at least could be helped by some form of therapy, which the Asclepius priest performed.

Also it's questionable if this patient was really crippled -- what does it mean that the fingers were "crippled"? It's not so unusual for some fingers to have difficulty moving, bending, or unbending, at some periods, and then to function correctly at other times. So it's not a clear case of someone with a physical affliction, comparable to the paralytic or the lepers or blind men healed by Jesus.

Nevertheless, the report intends to say he was truly afflicted physically. Maybe it's to be accepted as a "miracle" if it did happen, a non-medical healing. But there's much extra doubt here, as all these inscriptions were from patients who worshiped Asclepius, and from the cult priests.

All the "miracle" cures are found in the inscriptions at the temples, mostly the Epidaurus temple, and yet the vast majority of these inscriptions are not "miracle" cures at all, but normal recoveries, due in most cases to just natural recovery which would have happened anyway, but also due to some therapy or treatments which were successful in some cases. So only a small minority are in the "miracle" category, and a few are bizarre.

The question when the inscription is dated is important. If it's before 300 BC, then it's outside the period of the "Age" in which Jesus appears in history. The absence of miracles in the culture refers to the absence during the "Age" of Jesus which is referred to as the "his miracle-loving age" -- which has to be the 1st century AD, when he lived, and the centuries leading up to it. So this "age" is 100 BC to 100 AD, or maybe 200 BC to 100 AD, or maybe even 300 BC to 100 AD.

No one defined "his miracle-loving age," but it cannot simply be all of ancient history. Even if it meant all history prior to 100 AD, the fact is that the age AFTER that (Dark Ages and later) is far more miracle-loving than the age of Jesus before, even more miracle-loving than all of ancient history. The truth is that miracle fascination is far greater AFTER 100 AD than before. So how can the time of Jesus be called "his miracle-loving age"? compared to what?

There have been vastly more numerous miracle legends AFTER the 1st century than before. And also much more in the time before 300 BC and on earlier.

And it's clear that the miracle fascination was far greater in that earlier period than it was in the 1st century when Jesus lived. As you go farther back you find far more miracle legends than in the 1st century, and period leading to it. There's a virtual total absence of miracle stories in the 1st century, BC or AD. So 100 BC to 100 AD has virtually no miracle stories in the literature, other than mention of the ancient deities and heroes, in the epic poems.

The above Asclepius inscription almost certainly dates from either the earlier period, before 200-300 BC, or after the later period beginning 100 AD, when the Asclepius cult revived.

When you try to prove that Jesus was part of an already-existing "miracle age," and cite miracles appearing during the "age" of Jesus, so that they lead up to him, showing that he is part of a "miracle-loving" culture of the time, you need to give us the evidence, the date, the citation, the ancient quote.

It's not good enough to cite a modern author only, like Burkett, giving his own theories. For the facts, you have to cite the ancient sources, the ancient text, including the date. Even though it's OK to rely on a modern author, you also have to give the ancient quote, including the date. This Asclepius healing story, even if we include it as a "miracle" claim, requires the date, in order to determine if it's part of a "miracle-loving" culture in which Jesus appears.

It's true that as you go back to 500 BC and earlier there are more miracle legends appearing. But these are not part of any "miracle-loving age" of the time of Jesus. The fact is that the time of Jesus was NOT a "miracle-loving age," as all the evidence is that the culture of miracle legends came much earlier, long before the "age" of Jesus, and that it was dying down, and there was virtually no miracle culture to be found near the time of Jesus, from about 200 BC to 100 AD, or even 300 BC to 100 AD.

And the reported Asclepius miracles, in the inscriptions, date from BEFORE 300 BC. All the later inscriptions are not "miracle" stories. In fact, the vast majority of the Asclepius inscriptions are not about miracles at all. They are normal healing stories, of people recovering from an illness, and the god Asclepius is given credit for bringing the recovery.

Also there are normal treatments described, therapies, and also psychological treatment of the patients, according to some legitimate therapy practice. There were some good dieting and exercise prescriptions, along with several prescriptions for odd herbal remedies, ointments, etc., and many superstitious rituals, and maybe also some treatments which were more harm than good, although the practitioners at the Asclepius temples were pretty smart about judging between what was healthy and what was not.

The ancient Asclepius cult even to this day is given credit as an ancient medical institution or establishment which did some good in its prescriptions, mixed in with the superstitions or primitive practices.

For the above Burkett quote to be legitimate, we must have the date of the quote. The miracle claims had died down by the time of Jesus, and this one probably falls outside the "age" of Jesus in one of the 2 periods (the early or the late) when the Asclepius inscriptions reported miracle cures. They did not report miracle cures in the period of 300 BC to 100 AD.

Those who pretend that there were many other reported miracle-workers during the period of Jesus tend to be very sloppy in their facts and quotes and documentation, as we see in this example. When the facts are looked at, in detail, there is no other evidence of miracle claims or miracle-workers throughout this period. No real evidence is provided, showing such reports in any of the literature of the period leading to the time of Jesus and the NT writings.

A few 1st-century charlatans are mentioned in Josephus, but all discredited -- no indication anyone took them seriously, no report that they actually performed the miracles they promised.

What we need are the quotes making the miracle claims crediting miracle acts to this or that prophet or teacher etc., from the ancient sources, with the dating of them included. I.e., proper documentation in the written record of the time, such as we have for the Jesus miracle acts.
 
Last edited:

Lumpenproletariat

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---- "Just the facts, ma'am, just the facts."
ongoing response to thingsweneverdid, Aug 2 2022, #812

(continued from previous Wall of Text)

Vespasian's healing powers were said to come from the god Serapis who was already known for miraculous healings.
. . . .
As already mentioned, Asclepius was also known for miraculous healings.
. . . .
Isis (who was often worshiped alongside Sarapis/Osiris) and Horus were also know for miraculous healings.

Though it's popular to mention the above and other gods or hero miracle-workers, the evidence for them, from the ancient literature, is virtually never presented, but only quotes from modern sources. When all the evidence is considered, especially the written record from the time of the reputed miracle-worker or miracle claims, we can give each claim a rating, or score, on how credible the claim is. Thus . . .



"Batting averages" of various and sundry reputed Miracle-Workers and Miracle Cults, ancient, medieval, and modern

It is a mistake, for both believers and non-believers, to consider a one-only alleged true divine religion to the exclusion of all others as false or imposters or satanic or superstitious only. Rather, the rational and scientific approach is to consider the claims for all/each of them, their evidence, their testimonies, their "theology" or "apologetic" arguments, etc., whatever claims they make for their particular god or "divine man" or hero inspired by god or the gods. And, having done this assessment, rather than simply brand them as fake and superstition only, give them a rating, based on a serious critical evaluation of their claims.

In many cases there could be some legitimacy, even truth, to their claims, at least in part, even for a non-believer of that particular cult or miracle belief. Where something unexplainable is reported to have happened, and there were witnesses, or extra sources which report it, the rational conclusion to draw is that there is some credibility, and maybe the claim is partly true, even if there's also error or some superstition mixed in with it.

Just for starters, to illustrate by comparison how the many miracle cults or miracle-workers could be judged, as to credibility, here is a suggested "Batting Average" listing of the major ones, down through history up to the present. Obviously this does not reflect precise scientific data for each of these. This is just something to offer for starters, and of course it needs revisions as additional facts might be presented to bear on these comparisons and ratings.

.000 - 1.000 "batting average" ranking and name of miracle cult/miracle worker

.950 -------------------- Jesus Christ 30-33 AD
.300 -------------------- Asclepius Cult 400-300 BC (or -100 AD)
.300 -------------------- Delphic Oracle
.280 -------------------- Edgar Cayce 20th century
.250 -------------------- St. Francis of Assisi
.240 -------------------- Nostradamus
.220 -------------------- Sai Baba 20th century
.210 -------------------- Rasputin, Russian Revolution "Mad Monk"
.190 -------------------- St. Genevieve 5th century
.160 -------------------- Apollonius of Tyana 1st century
.150 -------------------- Joseph Smith 19th century
.130 -------------------- Serapis, Egyptian god
.120 -------------------- Isis, Egyptian goddess
.100 -------------------- Horus, Egyptian hero
.100 -------------------- Emperor Vespasian 70-80 AD
.100 -------------------- St. Patrick
.020 -------------------- Jim Jones 20th century
.020 -------------------- David Koresh 20th century



Of course there are many others not included here, which will have to be added. Also, the dates of each will need to be filled in to make the listing more complete.

This preliminary listing is just to first present the idea of such a ranking, and the improvements/corrections can be added later. (And maybe some of the above should be deleted from the list.)

If your reaction is only to snicker/sneer at this, it exposes your contempt for the facts and preference for your dogmatism. The truth lies more with the scientific consideration of the facts, rather than on your prejudice or dogmatic instincts.

My intention is to pursue this further, in later posts, and add more facts to support the general hypothesis that we can rank all the miracle claims in such a listing as this, based on reason and facts about each of the examples offered. And my contention is that we can show with facts that the historical Jesus is far up at the top of this list, with a wide separation from those farther down. Anyone serious (not prejudiced but open to looking at the facts) will hopefully add further facts to help modify the rankings, plus also offer any arguments about the usefulness or reasonableness of such a ranking.

Of course you can rearrange the rankings, putting your favorite miracle-worker up high, above Jesus, as you figure it. You should of course give some facts, especially presenting quotes from the sources close to the events in question, showing evidence about the case you want to include or shift higher or lower in the rankings. To just quote modern authorities claiming that Osiris or Apollo etc. were worshiped for having miracle power is not good evidence, by itself. You have to also quote from the ancient sources telling us of their miracle deeds, such as we have the written record about the Jesus miracle acts in the 1st century. This is where the Jesus-debunker crusaders always fall short.

But obviously you're free also to just snicker and snaffle and further expose your prejudice, with your outbursts such as
"Aaaaaaa, people just made up shit!"

And you can scoff and post your roars of laughter with your :rotfl:and :hysterical:and rofl's lol's, etc., because you have nothing thoughtful to offer.

And any believer, including a Christ-believer, should be willing to admit that there is some evidence in the other cases also, and the non-Christ examples cannot be summarily dismissed without critically considering the evidence. And also, believers and non-believers alike, and honest skeptics and truth-seekers, must admit the reality of what we don't know, so that there is no 100% Absolute Truth to be found here, but only probabilities. And even the probabilities are difficult to calculate. Nevertheless, probabilities are legitimate, even if they are only estimates.

"History is mostly guessing. The rest is prejudice." --- Will Durant


Excerpt from Albert Schweitzer, The Quest of the Historical Jesus on the author Hermann Samuel Reimarus:
The following are the titles of fragments which he published:
The Toleration of the Deists.
The Decrying of Reason in the Pulpit.
The Impossibility of a Revelation which all men should have good grounds for believing.
The Passing of the Israelites through the Red Sea.
Showing that the books of the Old Testament were not written to reveal a Religion.
Concerning the story of the Resurrection.
The Aims of Jesus and His Disciples.

What would a "Revelation" have to be in order that "all men should have good grounds for believing" it? Why should this be ruled out as a dogmatic premise, rather than looking at the evidence in each case?

Grounds for believing does not mean 100% certainty. Most of what we believe, even history and science, is not based on absolute 100% probability/certainty. Much is only 90% probable, even 80% or 70%. The lower-down is the less certain, or more dubious, including knowledge of history and science. But just because it's not 99% or 100% certain, doesn't mean it's untrue and that we should not believe it. Much of what we know, or claim to know (and even teach), from history, is not certain, and some of it is probably even false. And yet it's reasonable for us to believe it based on the evidence we have so far.

Based on this, the fact that the historical Jesus had "supernatural" (or superhuman) power can be believed reasonably, based on the extra evidence in this case, compared to other cases, or examples of reputed miracle power, which all can be ranked in a listing such as the above.

Just as we believe commonly-accepted facts of science and history based on such comparison and critical judgment of the evidence.


(this Wall of Text to be continued)
 
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lostone

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Most pagan and earlier literature was destroyed by early Christian zealots from the 4th - 6th centuries. We will never know how much was lost.
 

Lumpenproletariat

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Most pagan and earlier literature was destroyed by early Christian zealots from the 4th - 6th centuries. We will never know how much was lost.
There's virtually no evidence of such destruction of earlier literature by Christians. Nothing from written sources of that time. This claim is based on popular prejudice, not facts.

(There is one case of a band of Paul followers who burned books on divination, which literature sometimes was also destroyed by the authorities in those days, because some of that literature was dangerous, causing accidents in which people were killed.)

There is one quote in a 5th-century source saying some books were "consigned to the flames" during the early 4th century (about 150 years earlier than the source). But these could only have been Aryan documents, as it was only that kind of literature or belief which was condemned at that time. No other literature was condemned by the Council of Nicaea, and no other heresies persecuted.

And even if some "heretical" literature was destroyed later, it was all Christian literature, like the Aryan literature was all Christian. If any Gnostic or other writings were destroyed (for which there is no evidence), it was all Christian literature which acknowledged the Jesus miracles/Resurrection as factual. None of the Gnostic writings contradict the Gospel reports of the Jesus miracles/Resurrection.

There is no evidence of any persecution of heresies other than Christian heresies, all of which believed in the Christ miracles/Resurrection.

Again, if you look at the facts, rather than popular prejudice, the evidence is that the Jesus miracles/Resurrection did happen, and there is no evidence of any other miracle cults or miracle-workers, and no indication of any such literature which could have been destroyed.

Virtually all the book-burning events were many centuries later, but all of them were burnings of Christian literature which contradicted the Council of Nicaea theology, and not any which contradicted the Jesus miracles/Resurrection or proposed other alternative miracle-worker beliefs or competing beliefs about alternative miracle-workers.
 
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TomC

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There's virtually no evidence of such destruction of earlier literature by Christians. Nothing from written sources of that time.
How much evidence for the destruction of evidence many centuries ago would you expect to find? With several centuries of scrubbing the evidence that might have existed, 1800 years ago?
This claim is based on popular prejudice, not facts.
Just like claims for Jesus's miracles. No facts, just stories from many years later. Popular prejudice after centuries of Christian cultural dominance.

Whatever happened in first century Judea, you have no way of knowing about it that hasn't been edited and redacted by the RCC.
Tom
Dammit
I got the quote tags messed up.
 

atrib

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With this outburst you can dismiss even the moon landing as fiction.
Your argument is absurd as the scenarios are not even remotely similar.
1. We have a ton of high quality evidence that the moon landing happened.
2. There is nothing about the claim that humans performed a moon landing that requires us to believe that the natural laws of the universe were broken.

These writings are entitled to the same treatment as for other written accounts. We should accept ALL the written accounts as sources for what happened (i.e., what happened near the time in question) rather than single out certain ones out of prejudice and disqualify them from consideration.
Except for writings that claim that the laws of the universe were broken by the human clone of a supernatural entity from outside the universe. It is reasonable to treat claims like that with extreme prejudice, until evidence sufficient to overcome our skepticism has been presented. Unfortunately for you, this evidence does not exist.
It is also ridiculous to assert that anything that is written down should be treated as factual by default. That is not the standard by which truth claims are evaluated. and using this absurd standard would require us to accept that pretty much every single claim concerning the existence of supernatural events and gods are necessarily true. Yeah, it really is that stupid when you shine a light on it.


Based on this, the fact that the historical Jesus had "supernatural" (or superhuman) power can be believed reasonably, based on the extra evidence in this case, compared to other cases, or examples of reputed miracle power, which all can be ranked in a listing such as the above.

Just as we believe commonly-accepted facts of science and history based on such comparison and critical judgment of the evidence.
Point us to an example of a supernatural claim in the historical or scientific realm that is commonly accepted as fact by scientists and historians. Just one. You can't, because none exist. You keep repeating this falsehood even though it has been debunked over half a dozen times in various threads where you have made this claim previously.

I think the more interesting question to ask is why Christians like you continue to repeat their debunked claims over and over with full knowledge that their claims are false. Do you want to talk about that for a bit? Or maybe just take a few minutes to think about it?
 

blastula

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We have five of them who proclaim that this one was killed and buried and then resurrected back to life, bodily

That you find this more believable than that Trump got mad in a car says it all about your arguments.
 

Lumpenproletariat

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Response to TomC, Aug 16 2022, #829

lostone: Most pagan and earlier literature was destroyed by early Christian zealots from the 4th - 6th centuries. We will never know how much was lost.

There's virtually no evidence of such destruction of earlier literature by Christians. Nothing from written sources of that time.

TomC: How much evidence for the destruction of evidence many centuries ago would you expect to find?
If such destruction had happened we'd have plenty of evidence by now, even if not 100-200 years ago (though even back then there should have been evidence of it if it had happened).

The evidence by now would be abundant, because we've had major discoveries of non-Christian and non-Orthodox literature, thousands, even tens of thousands of documents not known for centuries. The two largest finds have been that of the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Gnostic Gospels. You could even go off the charts and claim a massive Conspiracy at the top levels to cover up these documents, for centuries. But now that they've been discovered, we can examine to see what was being written back then, and we can examine to see what might have been covered up, if that's the conspiracy you're alleging.

And there is nothing in these documents putting forth any alternative miracle-working Messiahs or Saviors or Sons of God, which the Church could have suppressed. It's true that the Church suppressed some theological heresies, maybe even destroying some of that literature in the later centuries. But there's no indication of literature about any miracle-working messiah cults. There were none.

And none of these newly-discovered documents contradict the reported Jesus miracles/Resurrection. Even though many later "Gospels" from the 2nd and 3rd centuries were discovered, and they contain alternative biographies of Jesus and other New Testament characters, they all take for granted that Jesus did the miracle acts and that he resurrected after being killed. So the evidence is that this part of the original Jesus events was accepted by all those (e.g. Gnostics, Apocryphal Gospels) who wrote anything relating to the historical Jesus.


With several centuries of scrubbing the evidence that might have existed, 1800 years ago?
"evidence" of what? the existence of other Messiahs or miracle-worker cults which were suppressed? or whose writings were destroyed?

You're really proving that there were no other Messiah cults. Even if it were true that there was such "scrubbing the evidence" back then, your conspiracy theory has to assume that the "scrubbing" is still going on even today, for almost 100 years, since the recent discoveries.

Your conspiracy theory has to be that the modern scholars, Jewish and Christian and atheist, are covering up documents/evidence of other Messiah cults, revealed in these suppressed documents -- cults who worshiped other miracle-working messiahs and saviors etc., in competition with the Christ cults beginning in the 30s AD after Jesus was gone. Or even later and earlier such cults, from centuries earlier and up to 100 AD or after, in the Jewish and pagan cultures of those centuries. And yet no such documents have been found, or other evidence of such alternative miracle-worker cults.

Despite the many new discoveries, nothing has been found showing any such other messiah cults which the Church could have suppressed even if it had wanted to. There's much new evidence, many documents, but nothing indicating any other Messiah cults or miracle-workers whose literature must have been destroyed. No, the only evidence is of earlier NON-miracle cults, like Qumran's Dead Sea Scrolls (which contain no new miracle stories), and evidence of later Christian writings which still presumed the same Jesus miracle-worker. Nothing to indicate anything different that has been covered up by the RCC or Evil Empire or Jewish-Christian Establishment or Sons of Darkness or Freemasons or other Secret Cabal conspiring to keep us in the Dark.

What this indicates is simply: The reason we have the Jesus reported miracle acts in written accounts is that these events must have really happened. (Or there were significant believers in this one miracle-worker only and not in any others.) If there were any others, we'd see some indication of it in some other writings. If there were other such writings, we should see some cases of it, just as we have found the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Gnostic Gospels and can see what other non-Christian or non-Orthodox cults were teaching or promoting. So, probably there were no other reported Jesus-like miracle-workers. Only this one. Unless -- well, you could suppose that the early Christ cults were busy running around to dig out alternative Messiah cultists and killing them and destroying any trace of them. Even searching out the Messiah-Prophets they worshiped and killing them. Seeing them as rivals which must be stamped out.


This claim is based on popular prejudice, not facts.
Just like claims for Jesus's miracles. No facts, just stories from many years later.
But that's what almost all ancient history is -- stories from the writers reporting to us what happened generations earlier. How much ancient history is not stories from writers "many years later" reporting what happened? i.e., reporting what they heard from someone else? Only a small fraction of the ancient history was written by someone contemporary who witnessed it directly. At least 90% of it was written by writers 50-100 years later who heard it from others. The (ancient) history written 200 years later than the reported events is a greater amount of the recorded history than that written by contemporaries.


Popular prejudice after centuries of Christian cultural dominance.
No, not "centuries" after, but about 20 to 70 years after the reported events, long before any such Christian "dominance."

specifically: The earliest report we have as a source is the Apostle Paul, writing 20-30 years after Jesus and reporting the Resurrection event; then the 4 Gospels, 40-70 years later, reporting the miracle healing acts and also the Resurrection. That makes 5 major sources for the Resurrection, 4 of which also report the healing miracles. So we have these extra sources, i.e., not just one, but 4 (5) sources, whereas for many/most of our ancient history facts we have only 1 or 2 sources, and that usually 50-100 years later.

So our sources are not from after "centuries of Christian cultural dominance." There was NO such dominance when these sources were written. The Christian dominance does not begin until the 4th century, long after our NT documents were written.


Whatever happened in first century Judea, you have no way of knowing about it that hasn't been edited and redacted by the RCC.
We can know about it just as we can know about the other historical events, in the written record, which means ALL the ancient documents, not arbitrarily excluding any.

Despite some editing and redacting, there is plenty of evidence that there was no significant change in the substance, in the 1st-century text, as to the basic facts reported, after about 100 AD (or maybe 150 at the latest). Some major facts are established, using the Gospels and other NT writings as evidence, for the events of the time, just as for all other historical events through those centuries. There are editing and redacting issues and discrepancies with ANY ancient source of history, especially if there are multiple accounts reporting the same event(s). Where the differing sources agree, it's reasonable to believe them, but to be doubtful of them on the points where they contradict each other. (And it's reasonable to require extra sources for miracle claims, which we have in the case of the reported Jesus miracle acts.)

The only unique point about the NT writings as a source is that we have so many mss/copies of these, compared to other writings. This causes extra work for scholars today trying to establish the original exact text, because of the many variants which are mostly insignificant as to the content and reporting of what happened. The many discrepancies are of minor details only.

There is no inconsistency as to the main facts, that Jesus resided first near the town of Capernaum, or northern Sea of Galilee, attracted followers, later traveled to Jerusalem and was crucified there. Along with this, all the accounts agree that he performed the miracle acts and that he resurrected after being killed. There are discrepancies only in the details, but not in these main points of what happened. And none of this was scripted by the later "Church" after it came to be dominant, and none is a product of any editing or redacting by someone later.

The basic Jesus narrative in the Gospels, regardless of minor discrepancies, was not a product of any later Church which had dominance -- but rather, it's the later Church which was produced by those 1st-century events, told in the narrative of those earlier documents, which the Church after 300 had to rely on to explain its origin or its identity in trying to establish its influence and dominance. So its dominance was derived originally from the 1st-century facts, while those facts happened independent of any later Church power.

Nothing the Church imposed in the 4th century was a source for the familiar Jesus narrative we have in the 1st-century Gospel accounts -- all the later Church added were some theological interpretations of those earlier writings. The whole Jesus narrative we're familiar with, containing minor discrepancies, is established very early in these writings, long before there was any "dominant" Church having any power to control those who wrote these texts. Interpretations are widely divergent, but the basic facts are consistent throughout these main sources.

Our NT text today, with the many small variants of minor significance, is substantially the same text as in the 1st century when the original documents were written. And the original documents (especially the 4 Gospels) are understood to have been produced mostly from earlier sources which are unknown, or at least there is no consensus on who the original authors (or editors or redactors) were and their exact sources. There was no Christian dominance of any kind during that period, dictating the content of the writings to someone, and it's not the case that the later Church after 300 did any significant change to the documents after the Church came to be dominant. Our text today is substantially that of the original 1st-century documents, not something spun out later by a "dominant" Church establishment (or Cabal or Conspiracy).

What modern critical theory has established is doubt about many reported details in the accounts, including some traditional beliefs, and undermining of the scriptural "infallibility" framework requiring to try to harmonize all the accounts, to eliminate all the contradictions, which is an impossible task. But it has not undermined the general picture of Jesus the miracle-worker presented to us in the accounts. Since on this there is no contradiction between the 4 (5) sources, this general presentation of Jesus is credible, because it's reasonable to believe the written accounts where they are all in agreement.
 

bilby

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We have five of them who proclaim that this one was killed and buried and then resurrected back to life, bodily

That you find this more believable than that Trump got mad in a car says it all about your arguments.
It's very easy to assess the value of his arguments; The more words he uses in defence of a claim, the more utterly absurd the claim is.

Once he goes over about thirty words, you can be completely confident that he's totally wrong in every way, and save yourself the effort of reading the drivel.

I strongly suspect that his 'write only documents' are a desperate (but doomed) effort to persuade himself of things he knows to be nonsensical, but would really like to believe.
 

atrib

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Once he goes over about thirty words, you can be completely confident that he's totally wrong in every way,
It can be fascinating to discover just how many ways an argument can be wrong (if you are a social anthropologist, that is) - like peeling back the outer layers of an onion, only to find new layers of fallacious reasoning and rotting misinformation nestled beneath the outer layers of fallacious reasoning and rotting misinformation. He once argued that the US constitution allowed police to shoot looters and thieves without due process, and even attempted to defend himself when it was demonstrated that he was wrong. Fascinating, utterly fascinating.

I stopped reading his posts years ago because all he is doing at this point is repeating the same crap on an endless loop. I would rather be watching videos of Mr Max the cockatoo on Youtube.
 

James Brown

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“Anything based on faith, no matter how ludicrous, can be made to be consistent with the available evidence, given a little patience and ingenuity.”
--Stephen Law, (Believing Bullshit: How Not to Get Sucked into an Intellectual Black Hole (Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 2011), p. 75.

“Virtually anything and everything, no matter how absurd, inane, or ridiculous, has been believed or claimed to be true at one time or another by somebody, somewhere in the name of faith."
--James T. Houk (The Illusion of Certainty. Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 2017), p. 31.
 

Swammerdami

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Some of this discussion reminded me of an entry from Bierce's famous dictionary. (I'll leave it up to individual Infidels to determine what the relevance, if any, is.)
Ambrose Bierce said:
INADMISSIBLE, adj.
Not competent to be considered. Said of certain kinds of testimony which juries are supposed to be unfit to be entrusted with, and which judges, therefore, rule out, even of proceedings before themselves alone. Hearsay evidence is inadmissible because the person quoted was unsworn and is not before the court for examination; yet most momentous actions, military, political, commercial and of every other kind, are daily undertaken on hearsay evidence. There is no religion in the world that has any other basis than hearsay evidence. Revelation is hearsay evidence; that the Scriptures are the word of God we have only the testimony of men long dead whose identity is not clearly established and who are not known to have been sworn in any sense. Under the rules of evidence as they now exist in this country, no single assertion in the Bible has in its support any evidence admissible in a court of law. It cannot be proved that the battle of Blenheim ever was fought, that there was such as person as Julius Caesar, such an empire as Assyria.

But as records of courts of justice are admissible, it can easily be proved that powerful and malevolent magicians once existed and were a scourge to mankind. The evidence (including confession) upon which certain women were convicted of witchcraft and executed was without a flaw; it is still unimpeachable. The judges' decisions based on it were sound in logic and in law. Nothing in any existing court was ever more thoroughly proved than the charges of witchcraft and sorcery for which so many suffered death. If there were no witches, human testimony and human reason are alike destitute of value.
 

T.G.G. Moogly

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Have we invented a new word, Hearsayism?

If my operating system is emotionally based I'm a sucker for things I hear that sound and feel good. If my operating system is forensically and observationally based I'm not going to fall prey to religious tall tales. Not everyone has an operating bullshit detector.
 

TomC

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Get rid of the supernatural and Jesus makes sense in the politics of the day.
This is really the point.

A guy named Jesus grew up in Nazareth, joined the anti-Roman underground, was executed for treason. All that is utterly plausible. I believe that there was a historical Jesus.

But the elephant in the room is the term "Jesus the Messiah". Everyone then, including the Romans, knew what a messiah is. That's a human warrior king, anointed by God, to save The Chosen People from foreign oppressors. That would be the Romans. Messiahhood was a capital crime. Even being closely associated with a messiah could get you killed. So, of course, none of His closer followers, or their followers, would say anything about that. They certainly wouldn't write anything about it.

So in a process similar to evolution, the original disciples died out. Leaving the Pauline Jesus for history and Gospel writers and such. Because the Romans didn't care about squabbles between Jews and heretical offshoots.

Can't you just picture a real Jew turning to some Christian, as the temple is being destroyed, saying, "Where's that messiah of yours now? Hunh!?"
Tom
 

James Brown

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I'm reminded of the joke about the Christian proselytizer who meets his match in a very knowledgeable Jew. The Jew says, "There were great rabbis who were contemporaries of Jesus, yet none of them were convinced, so why should I believe?"

The proselytizing Christian says, "Even your great rabbis weren't so smart about Moshiach. Consider Rabbi Akiva—he thought Bar Kochba was Moshiach!"

The Jew says, "Well, maybe Rabbi Akiva was right—perhaps Bar Kochba was indeed Moshiach."

The Christian is flabbergasted at this claim. "Don't be ridiculous, Bar Kochba could NOT be Moshiach. He didn't fulfill the prophesies regarding Moshiach. He didn’t restore David’s throne, he didn’t overthrow the Jewish oppressors, he didn’t usher in an era of peace and prosperity. And he was killed by the Romans. So of course couldn't be Moshiach!"

And the Jew just says, "Aha!"
 

Jarhyn

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Get rid of the supernatural and Jesus makes sense in the politics of the day.
This is really the point.

A guy named Jesus grew up in Nazareth, joined the anti-Roman underground, was executed for treason. All that is utterly plausible. I believe that there was a historical Jesus.

But the elephant in the room is the term "Jesus the Messiah". Everyone then, including the Romans, knew what a messiah is. That's a human warrior king, anointed by God, to save The Chosen People from foreign oppressors. That would be the Romans. Messiahhood was a capital crime. Even being closely associated with a messiah could get you killed. So, of course, none of His closer followers, or their followers, would say anything about that. They certainly wouldn't write anything about it.

So in a process similar to evolution, the original disciples died out. Leaving the Pauline Jesus for history and Gospel writers and such. Because the Romans didn't care about squabbles between Jews and heretical offshoots.

Can't you just picture a real Jew turning to some Christian, as the temple is being destroyed, saying, "Where's that messiah of yours now? Hunh!?"
Tom
And then what more is it to recognize that there were many such groups, many such persons attached to the anti-woman underground, and many such original disciples not writing or saying anything about it in public?

Eventually across 200 years of that shit, all those messiah's will melt together in the chaotic heat of oral transfer, much like a bag of gummi bears, until there is just one gummi-mass with no telling who they actually worship or care about, made all the worse by the tendency to leave their hero unnamed except for an abbreviation.

Thus, all these historical personages would melt together into the completely ahistorical fictions of the polemics we all know.
 

T.G.G. Moogly

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Get rid of the supernatural and Jesus makes sense in the politics of the day.
This is really the point.

A guy named Jesus grew up in Nazareth, joined the anti-Roman underground, was executed for treason. All that is utterly plausible. I believe that there was a historical Jesus.

But the elephant in the room is the term "Jesus the Messiah". Everyone then, including the Romans, knew what a messiah is. That's a human warrior king, anointed by God, to save The Chosen People from foreign oppressors. That would be the Romans. Messiahhood was a capital crime. Even being closely associated with a messiah could get you killed. So, of course, none of His closer followers, or their followers, would say anything about that. They certainly wouldn't write anything about it.

So in a process similar to evolution, the original disciples died out. Leaving the Pauline Jesus for history and Gospel writers and such. Because the Romans didn't care about squabbles between Jews and heretical offshoots.

Can't you just picture a real Jew turning to some Christian, as the temple is being destroyed, saying, "Where's that messiah of yours now? Hunh!?"
Tom
And then what more is it to recognize that there were many such groups, many such persons attached to the anti-woman underground, and many such original disciples not writing or saying anything about it in public?

Eventually across 200 years of that shit, all those messiah's will melt together in the chaotic heat of oral transfer, much like a bag of gummi bears, until there is just one gummi-mass with no telling who they actually worship or care about, made all the worse by the tendency to leave their hero unnamed except for an abbreviation.

Thus, all these historical personages would melt together into the completely ahistorical fictions of the polemics we all know.
It is abundantly evident that the Jesus character is an inspired fictional construct. This fits the genre. And I think we've discovered this inspired Jesus countless times in discussions. The historical Jesus however remains a phantasm. We could conclude that the historical Jesus is in fact an inspired fictional construct, but I don't think that will wash with persons unfamiliar with how fiction is composed.
 

Jarhyn

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Get rid of the supernatural and Jesus makes sense in the politics of the day.
This is really the point.

A guy named Jesus grew up in Nazareth, joined the anti-Roman underground, was executed for treason. All that is utterly plausible. I believe that there was a historical Jesus.

But the elephant in the room is the term "Jesus the Messiah". Everyone then, including the Romans, knew what a messiah is. That's a human warrior king, anointed by God, to save The Chosen People from foreign oppressors. That would be the Romans. Messiahhood was a capital crime. Even being closely associated with a messiah could get you killed. So, of course, none of His closer followers, or their followers, would say anything about that. They certainly wouldn't write anything about it.

So in a process similar to evolution, the original disciples died out. Leaving the Pauline Jesus for history and Gospel writers and such. Because the Romans didn't care about squabbles between Jews and heretical offshoots.

Can't you just picture a real Jew turning to some Christian, as the temple is being destroyed, saying, "Where's that messiah of yours now? Hunh!?"
Tom
And then what more is it to recognize that there were many such groups, many such persons attached to the anti-woman underground, and many such original disciples not writing or saying anything about it in public?

Eventually across 200 years of that shit, all those messiah's will melt together in the chaotic heat of oral transfer, much like a bag of gummi bears, until there is just one gummi-mass with no telling who they actually worship or care about, made all the worse by the tendency to leave their hero unnamed except for an abbreviation.

Thus, all these historical personages would melt together into the completely ahistorical fictions of the polemics we all know.
It is abundantly evident that the Jesus character is an inspired fictional construct. This fits the genre. And I think we've discovered this inspired Jesus countless times in discussions. The historical Jesus however remains a phantasm. We could conclude that the historical Jesus is in fact an inspired fictional construct, but I don't think that will wash with persons unfamiliar with how fiction is composed.
I would say there is an inspiration, a particularly successful early example that spawned much of this behavioral wave through Jewish culture.

I'm pretty sure historical Tyler Durden as it were got fused with historical Robert Paulson to become the fiction, to use a metaphor.
 

Swammerdami

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I've "said my piece" on this matter. But I will say it again!

Consider three books: The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway, John Brown: Abolitionist by David Reynolds, and the Gospel allegedly written by "Mark." All three contain parables; all three describe heroic men who perform almost supernatural deeds. (How long did Santiago keep his arm-wrestler in stalemate?)

Two of these books were written in the 20th century, and one was written about 1900 years earlier: Obviously that will have a huge effect on what we can deduce about these books. The little meme that Old Man and the Sea is fiction so Mark's Gospel is also is just silly. (And wasn't even supported by comparison of content or style.) Should we conclude that John Brown: Abolitionist is just fiction also? Yet we have people arguing that because Jesus didn't walk on water he didn't exist at all. Davy Crockett didn't kill a b'ar when he was only three: Does that mean he didn't exist either?


Get rid of the supernatural and Jesus makes sense in the politics of the day.
This is really the point.

A guy named Jesus grew up in Nazareth, joined the anti-Roman underground, was executed for treason. All that is utterly plausible. I believe that there was a historical Jesus.

But the elephant in the room is the term "Jesus the Messiah". Everyone then, including the Romans, knew what a messiah is. That's a human warrior king, anointed by God, to save The Chosen People from foreign oppressors. That would be the Romans. Messiahhood was a capital crime. Even being closely associated with a messiah could get you killed. So, of course, none of His closer followers, or their followers, would say anything about that. They certainly wouldn't write anything about it.
And then what more is it to recognize that there were many such groups, many such persons attached to the anti-woman underground, and many such original disciples not writing or saying anything about it in public?

Eventually across 200 years of that shit, all those messiah's will melt together in the chaotic heat of oral transfer, much like a bag of gummi bears, until there is just one gummi-mass with no telling who they actually worship or care about, made all the worse by the tendency to leave their hero unnamed except for an abbreviation.

Thus, all these historical personages would melt together into the completely ahistorical fictions of the polemics we all know.

Which 200 years are we talking about? James the Just was stoned to death in 62 AD; there were Christians in Rome by that time; we know that early Gospels existed circa 90 AD. So the "200 years" apparently does not include any of the 2nd century; most of Tolebot Yeshu was even later than that.

Yes, yes, we know that one writer spoke of "Chrestians" in Rome instead of "Christians" and — even though Paul and Josephus NEVER mention ANY other "brothers of Jesus" — apologists for mythicism claim that "brother" didn't mean "brother." (Do you mythicists even listen to yourselves? :cool: You accuse historicists of grasping at straws? )
 

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I've "said my piece" on this matter. But I will say it again!

Consider three books: The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway, John Brown: Abolitionist by David Reynolds, and the Gospel allegedly written by "Mark." All three contain parables; all three describe heroic men who perform almost supernatural deeds. (How long did Santiago keep his arm-wrestler in stalemate?)

Two of these books were written in the 20th century, and one was written about 1900 years earlier: Obviously that will have a huge effect on what we can deduce about these books. The little meme that Old Man and the Sea is fiction so Mark's Gospel is also is just silly. (And wasn't even supported by comparison of content or style.) Should we conclude that John Brown: Abolitionist is just fiction also? Yet we have people arguing that because Jesus didn't walk on water he didn't exist at all. Davy Crockett didn't kill a b'ar when he was only three: Does that mean he didn't exist either?


Get rid of the supernatural and Jesus makes sense in the politics of the day.
This is really the point.

A guy named Jesus grew up in Nazareth, joined the anti-Roman underground, was executed for treason. All that is utterly plausible. I believe that there was a historical Jesus.

But the elephant in the room is the term "Jesus the Messiah". Everyone then, including the Romans, knew what a messiah is. That's a human warrior king, anointed by God, to save The Chosen People from foreign oppressors. That would be the Romans. Messiahhood was a capital crime. Even being closely associated with a messiah could get you killed. So, of course, none of His closer followers, or their followers, would say anything about that. They certainly wouldn't write anything about it.
And then what more is it to recognize that there were many such groups, many such persons attached to the anti-woman underground, and many such original disciples not writing or saying anything about it in public?

Eventually across 200 years of that shit, all those messiah's will melt together in the chaotic heat of oral transfer, much like a bag of gummi bears, until there is just one gummi-mass with no telling who they actually worship or care about, made all the worse by the tendency to leave their hero unnamed except for an abbreviation.

Thus, all these historical personages would melt together into the completely ahistorical fictions of the polemics we all know.

Which 200 years are we talking about? James the Just was stoned to death in 62 AD; there were Christians in Rome by that time; we know that early Gospels existed circa 90 AD. So the "200 years" apparently does not include any of the 2nd century; most of Tolebot Yeshu was even later than that.

Yes, yes, we know that one writer spoke of "Chrestians" in Rome instead of "Christians" and — even though Paul and Josephus NEVER mention ANY other "brothers of Jesus" — apologists for mythicism claim that "brother" didn't mean "brother." (Do you mythicists even listen to yourselves? :cool: You accuse historicists of grasping at straws? )
That there are some people whose histories are more visible in the melted mass of it all, and indeed given the fact that "brother" in this context is very much vulnerable to metaphorical brotherhood impinging on actual brotherhood, as a term of position within an organization rather than strict familial relationship, does not change the fact that the events being examined range from ~70bc to ~130ce, when the polemics we're actually put to paper.

Any Messiah figure, from JtB to Chrestus, to even folks whose name didn't even start with a J, would have gotten rolled into that mess of post-Jewish cult-expansion.

It is even more apparent insofar as it is likely that Jesus was used as a name specifically for folks who got executed bucking against the orthodoxy, in addition to bucking against Rome, much like "Karen" is used today: yes it's ostensibly a name, but do you think any of these Karens are actually named Karen? In a thousand years time when they are piecing together history, will they believe there is a historical Karen?
 

Swammerdami

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That there are some people whose histories are more visible in the melted mass of it all, and indeed given the fact that "brother" in this context is very much vulnerable to metaphorical brotherhood impinging on actual brotherhood, as a term of position within an organization rather than strict familial relationship, does not change the fact that the events being examined range from ~70bc to ~130ce, when the polemics we're actually put to paper.

Phrases like "Lord's brother" or "brother of Jesus" occur exactly once (1 time) in the entire New Testament. That single instance, far from exalting the Lord's brother, is almost dismissive.
Galatians:1:19 said:
But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord's brother.
Josephus mentions the same brother relationship. Was he playing along with the metaphor? (Yes, yes we know that mythicists are eager to dismiss Josephus. Carrier treats the legitimacy as Zero (0) when he does his famous "Bayesian calculations" — Would you care to comment on this approach to statistics, Jarhyn?)

Even if the entire "brother of Jesus" clause was interpolated in the 2nd century, the implication is still that the "brotherness" was thought to be genetic, not metaphorical.

Dismiss Josephus, but take Toledot Yeshu to the bank! !! When I started reading these threads a few months ago I was open-minded and wanted to learn what the mythicist case was. By now, I'm convinced it's utter crackpottery.

It is even more apparent insofar as it is likely that Jesus was used as a name specifically for folks who got executed bucking against the orthodoxy, in addition to bucking against Rome, much like "Karen" is used today:...

Is there evidence that Jesus was used similarly to how Karen is today? Or is this just an "inference" from a story in Toledot?
 

Swammerdami

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That there are some people whose histories are more visible in the melted mass of it all, and indeed given the fact that "brother" in this context is very much vulnerable to metaphorical brotherhood impinging on actual brotherhood, as a term of position within an organization rather than strict familial relationship, does not change the fact that the events being examined range from ~70bc to ~130ce, when the polemics we're actually put to paper.

Phrases like "Lord's brother" or "brother of Jesus" occur exactly once (1 time) in the entire New Testament. That single instance, far from exalting the Lord's brother, is almost dismissive.
Galatians:1:19 said:
But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord's brother.
Josephus mentions the same brother relationship. Was he playing along with the metaphor? (Yes, yes we know that mythicists are eager to dismiss Josephus. Carrier treats the legitimacy as Zero (0) when he does his famous "Bayesian calculations" — Would you care to comment on this approach to statistics, Jarhyn?)

Even if the entire "brother of Jesus" clause was interpolated in the 2nd century, the implication is still that the "brotherness" was thought to be genetic, not metaphorical.

Dismiss Josephus, but take Toledot Yeshu to the bank! !! When I started reading these threads a few months ago I was open-minded and wanted to learn what the mythicist case was. By now, I'm convinced it's utter crackpottery.

It is even more apparent insofar as it is likely that Jesus was used as a name specifically for folks who got executed bucking against the orthodoxy, in addition to bucking against Rome, much like "Karen" is used today:...

Is there evidence that Jesus was used similarly to how Karen is today? Or is this just an "inference" from a story in Toledot?

Let's dwell on the matter of James' brother a bit. Did Josephus even mention this? I'll discuss this below, but for this brief paragraph let's stipulate that a Judge has ruled Josephus' writings to be a possible forgery and hence inadmissable. The jury will not be allowed to see what Josephus wrote. Does that mean its evidentiary value is Zero? Richard Carrier seems to think so. Raise your hand if you think that the courtroom concept of inadmissability is compatible with Bayesian analysis.

Flavius Josephus said:
When therefore Ananus was of this disposition, he thought he had now a proper opportunity [to exercise his authority]. Festus was now dead; and Albinus was but upon the road. So he assembled the sanhedrim of judges, and brought before them the brother of Jesus who was called Christ, whose name was James: and some others; [or, some of his companions.] And when he had formed an accusation against them as breakers of the law, he delivered them to be stoned. But as for those who seemed the most equitable of the citizens, and such as were the most uneasy at the breach of the laws, they disliked what was done. They also sent to the King [Agrippa,] desiring him to send to Ananus that he should act so no more: for that what he had already done was not to be justified. Nay some of them went also to meet Albinus, as he was upon his journey from Alexandria; and informed him, that it was not lawful for Ananus to assemble a sanhedrim without his consent. Whereupon Albinus complyed with what they said; and wrote in anger to Ananus; and threatened that he would bring him to punishment for what he had done. On which account King Agrippa took the High Priesthood from him, when he had ruled but three months; and made Jesus, the son of Damneus High Priest.

Does anyone think this ENTIRE passage was a 2nd- (or 3rd-) century addition? To the contrary this appears to be an important event; is it not well attested elsewhere? Some go so far as to guess that it was the stoning of James that led to the Jewish Revolt.

"and brought before them the brother of Jesus who was called Christ, whose name was James"

If you were a 2nd- or 3rd- (or 4th-?, or 5th-??) century Christian trying to doctor Josephus' text to promulgate your Jesus lie, is this how you would doctor it? Does it sound like "brother" is a metaphor here? Do you infer anything from "who was called"? What is the probability that this text is, more or less, just as Josephus wrote it in the 1st century?

(BTW, Wikipedia shows "called Christ" in its translation from Book XX but "was the Messiah" in Book XVIII. I suppose the text uses the same Greek word in each case; I dunno.)
 

TomC

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Dismiss Josephus, but take Toledot Yeshu to the bank! !! When I started reading these threads a few months ago I was open-minded and wanted to learn what the mythicist case was. By now, I'm convinced it's utter crackpottery.
I've not found this conversation interesting for decades. For exactly this reason.

Hard core mysticism has come to resemble the inverse of hard core literalism. Either it's all " completely ahistorical fiction" or it's all "the Word of God".

The lack of nuance and plausibility, supported by really selective prioritizing of "evidence", makes "mythic Jesus" look as unreasonable as "Jesus son of God". The arguments all look like flailing.
Tom
 

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Thus, all these historical personages would melt together into the completely ahistorical fictions of the polemics we all know.

Let me ask this.

Suppose there was an early first century Jew named Jesus. A real live person, who was charismatic. Also shadowy, and dangerous to know. After He died, or otherwise disappeared, a cult following developed a largely fictional legend. The legends included sayings and parables, miracles and Godhood.

Would you consider that "completely ahistorical fiction"?

I don't. Mostly fictitious, sure, but not the kernel of truth at the heart of the Legend of the Christ.

To me, the historical Jesus seems an ideal starting point for a legend.
Tom
 
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