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The Christ Myth Theory

Politesse

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This just in - Julius Caesar never existed.

(Only Romans wrote about him, and they're biased).

You were being facetious here, but I doubt that only Romans wrote about him. That would be suspicious. There were plenty of non-Romans who had a thing or two to say about him.
Such as whom, exactly?

If I knew that, I would have used a stronger word than "doubt", and this isn't the first time that you've played a little obtuse on an issue where you know perfectly well what the real problem is. You framed it as if mythicists were complaining about ONLY Christian cult followers writing about and preserving the legacy of Jesus. The real problem is that there is no contemporary historical record of any kind regarding the existence of Jesus. It wasn't just that only Christians wrote about Jesus. It was that NOBODY wrote anything about him--not followers, not enemies, not Romans, not other inhabitants of the region. Not until well after Jesus died.

As you know, the earliest reliable reference to a real Jesus is Paul, who may or may not have met someone said to be his brother. It's possible that Paul was being played by James and Peter or that he was just making the meeting up to pump up his bona fides. There are no bona fide relics, just evidence of a huge industry of fake relics that were created by people capitalizing on the lack of any real evidence. For Caesar, we have his own actual writings, contemporary references by many people, including relatives, territory conquered, busts, monuments, place names. For Jesus, we have people claiming he was illiterate, although his followers would surely have sought to preserve records and mementos of his ministry. Caesar himself employed scribes, so surely more than one of Jesus' supporters could have helped. So your attempt to mock the mythicists by comparing a small cult to a vast empire with written records by several authors plus relics was more than a little absurd.
You have VERY much so misrepresented the documentary evidence for Julius Caesar. We have an autobiographical work whose authenticity has been challenged, and a handful of works by contemporaries, ALL of whom are connected to the Roman government in some way. There's a lot more archeological evidence in Julius' case, but the documentary evidence is slim as hell and definitely biased. I wouldn't even call his biographers "secular" -- they freely included religious language and justifications into the history.

So if the question is "can we consider a source evidence of a person's existence even if there is bias", then there were no actual people in the ancient world if the answer is no. No serious person doubts that Julius Caesar existed, even though we really only know the details of his life from ancient propaganda, and beyond a handful of basic facts, most of those details have been challenged or reinterpreted over the centuries. Hell, even during his lifetime. He was a controversial man.
 

dbz

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Max 1:3 possible that Jesus b. Joseph/Pantera was a historical personage

So if the question is "can we consider a source evidence of a person's existence even if there is bias", then there were no actual people in the ancient world...

Jesus is in a different reference class then most actual people in the ancient world. As I understand the reference class for Jesus contains ~33% real historical people and ~66% non-historical people.
"Jesus and the Problem of the Fraudulent Reference Class". Richard Carrier Blogs. 20 August 2021.
if you want to get a different prior probability for Jesus than I did, you have to actually do the work of finding an actual reference class that produces a more applicable and usable base rate of historicity, which does not ignore the effect of other classes he belongs to. Making an excuse to ignore data is just that: an excuse to ignore data. And that’s epistemic fraud.
 

Copernicus

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This just in - Julius Caesar never existed.

(Only Romans wrote about him, and they're biased).

You were being facetious here, but I doubt that only Romans wrote about him. That would be suspicious. There were plenty of non-Romans who had a thing or two to say about him.
Such as whom, exactly?

If I knew that, I would have used a stronger word than "doubt", and this isn't the first time that you've played a little obtuse on an issue where you know perfectly well what the real problem is. You framed it as if mythicists were complaining about ONLY Christian cult followers writing about and preserving the legacy of Jesus. The real problem is that there is no contemporary historical record of any kind regarding the existence of Jesus. It wasn't just that only Christians wrote about Jesus. It was that NOBODY wrote anything about him--not followers, not enemies, not Romans, not other inhabitants of the region. Not until well after Jesus died.

As you know, the earliest reliable reference to a real Jesus is Paul, who may or may not have met someone said to be his brother. It's possible that Paul was being played by James and Peter or that he was just making the meeting up to pump up his bona fides. There are no bona fide relics, just evidence of a huge industry of fake relics that were created by people capitalizing on the lack of any real evidence. For Caesar, we have his own actual writings, contemporary references by many people, including relatives, territory conquered, busts, monuments, place names. For Jesus, we have people claiming he was illiterate, although his followers would surely have sought to preserve records and mementos of his ministry. Caesar himself employed scribes, so surely more than one of Jesus' supporters could have helped. So your attempt to mock the mythicists by comparing a small cult to a vast empire with written records by several authors plus relics was more than a little absurd.
You have VERY much so misrepresented the documentary evidence for Julius Caesar. We have an autobiographical work whose authenticity has been challenged, and a handful of works by contemporaries, ALL of whom are connected to the Roman government in some way. There's a lot more archeological evidence in Julius' case, but the documentary evidence is slim as hell and definitely biased. I wouldn't even call his biographers "secular" -- they freely included religious language and justifications into the history.

OK, stop. The greatest orator of the time, Cicero, made speeches about Julius Caesar. The fact that he was a Roman citizen is not the same as being the member of a cult. Cicero was both a friend and an enemy. Caesar's adopted son became the first Roman emperor. Don't give me such preposterous nonsense about there being slim documentary evidence. You need to pick someone with far less evidence of historicity to compare with Jesus.

So if the question is "can we consider a source evidence of a person's existence even if there is bias", then there were no actual people in the ancient world if the answer is no. No serious person doubts that Julius Caesar existed, even though we really only know the details of his life from ancient propaganda, and beyond a handful of basic facts, most of those details have been challenged or reinterpreted over the centuries. Hell, even during his lifetime. He was a controversial man.

You are making a molehill out of a mountain. You just picked the wrong person for your false analogy.
 

neilgodfrey

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This just in - Julius Caesar never existed.

(Only Romans wrote about him, and they're biased).

You were being facetious here, but I doubt that only Romans wrote about him. That would be suspicious. There were plenty of non-Romans who had a thing or two to say about him.
Such as whom, exactly?
"Romans" is not a single ideological group. There can be many independent ideological viewpoints among Romans. There can be many rival partisan groups within the collective "Romans" (whatever "Romans" means -- city of Rome inhabitants? Italians? citizens? slaves?) Caesar had supporters and critics and they both spoke about him. That's independent attestation among contemporaries. We also have something written by Julius Caesar himself along with independent attestation that he did write about his Gallic campaign.
 

neilgodfrey

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bilby

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This just in - Julius Caesar never existed.

(Only Romans wrote about him, and they're biased).

You were being facetious here, but I doubt that only Romans wrote about him. That would be suspicious. There were plenty of non-Romans who had a thing or two to say about him.
Such as whom, exactly?
"Romans" is not a single ideological group. There can be many independent ideological viewpoints among Romans. There can be many rival partisan groups within the collective "Romans" (whatever "Romans" means -- city of Rome inhabitants? Italians? citizens? slaves?) Caesar had supporters and critics and they both spoke about him. That's independent attestation among contemporaries. We also have something written by Julius Caesar himself along with independent attestation that he did write about his Gallic campaign.
Well, sure; But it doesn’t matter, because Politesse probably doesn’t exist.

I mean, we have testimony of his existence, but only from humans, and humans are obviously going to be biased on the question of whether a particular human exists.

Apparently. ;)
 

Swammerdami

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I'm glad we have many experts here, to help me with my own common-sense questions about historicity. Let me start with these comments:

Comparing the evidence for Julius Caesar with the evidence for Jesus of Nazareth seems very silly. (Is there more evidence for King Henry VIII than for the innkeeper's son who shined his shoes once?) We all concede that the stories of an historic Jesus, if any, were embellished for almost a century before the written form we have now. Does anybody think the turning of water into wine would certainly have become well-known EVEN IF Jesus were a talented mesmerizer who convinced the drunken guests their water was wine?
("Hey, how about the bride-groom John or James or Justin or whatever — some name with a J (or Y)? They say he magically turned water into wine." "Yeah sure. I think you drank a little too much of that wine.")

John the Baptist was obviously MUCH more famous in his lifetime than Jesus: Look at the prominence he's given in Acts and all four Gospels. And Pontius Pilate was the frigging Governor of Judaea. But outside of Josephus, how many 1st-century writers refer to John or Pilate? More than Jesus of course, but compared with John or Pilate, Jesus was an obscure carpenter from the Galilean backwater whose ministry lasted only three years. It's absurd to imagine the illiterate followers of a random preacher would produce as much written documentation as was generated for Pilate or the Baptist.

What about the famous fire during the reign of Nero? How many 1st-century texts mention that? Tacitus is usually cited but, though born during the reign of Nero, his earliest extant writings date from the 2nd century, no?


ETA. Googling now I see that some mythicists think that John the Baptist was also fictional, with Josephus' mentions interpolated later as Jesus' mentions allegedly were.

How about the mythicist Infidels arguing here: Did J the B exist?
 

dbz

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How about the mythicist Infidels arguing here: Did J the B exist?

Mark's reliance on Jesus ben Ananias/Hananiah​

[The Markan] sequence of the Passover narrative appears to be based on the tale of another Jesus: Jesus ben Ananias, the ‘Jesus of Jerusalem’, an insane prophet active in the 60s CE who is then killed in the siege of Jerusalem (roughly in the year 70).
His story is told by Josephus in the Jewish War, and unless Josephus invented him, his narrative must have been famous, famous enough for Josephus to know of it, and thus famous enough for Mark to know of it, too, and make use of it to model the tale of his own Jesus.
Or if Josephus invented the tale then Mark evidently used Josephus as a source. Because the parallels are too numerous to be at all probable as a coincidence. [citation no. 86.]
[...]
86. Theodore Weeden, ‘Two Jesuses, Jesus of Jerusalem and Jesus of Nazareth: Provocative Parallels and Imaginative Imitation’, Forum N.S. 6.2 (Fall 2003), pp. 137- 341; Craig Evans, ‘Jesus in Non-Christian Sources’, in Studying the Historical Jesus (ed. Chilton and Evans), pp. 443-78 (475-77).
—Richard Carrier[154]

Carrier clarifies his citation of Weeden and Evans in OHJ,[155] writing:
Note the Evans piece was published a decade before Weeden’s.[156][157] . . . Of course Evans, a conservative Evangelical Christian, attempts an alternative explanation of the parallels, but even he cannot deny they are real. Evans’ argument is of course apologetic nonsense,[158] ably refuted by Weeden, and numerous other notable scholars...[159]

Weeden asserts that the Markan text is reliant on Josephus' report of Jesus ben Ananias
Wikipedia
in part due to many obvious parallels between them.[160] Weeden also holds that Jesus-Ananias was not a real historical person active in the 60s ce, but was an invention of Josephus. Thus the Markan text could not have been written before the early 80s CE.[161]


Mark's inadvertent reliance on Hyrcanus II​

In the same way [as demonstrated with other unrelated but likewise dislocated accounts], Josephus’s John the Baptist story reads as a doublet or different version of Hyrcanus II chronologically dislocated to the time of the wrong Herod. In this case Josephus did not place the two versions of the death of Hyrcanus II close together in the same time setting as in some of the other cases of doublets. If Josephus had done that, the doublet in this case would have been recognized before now. Instead, Josephus mistakenly attached one of the traditions of the death of Hyrcanus II to the wrong Herod, just as he separately mistakenly attached documents to the wrong Hyrcanus.
[...]
If this analysis is correct—that Josephus misplaced this story to the wrong Herod in Antiquities—then there is no attestation external to the New Testament of the Gospels’ figure of John the Baptist of the 30s CE. The implication would seem to be this:
either
  • the Gospels’ John the Baptist has been generated in the story world of the Gospels,
or
  • he derives from a different [unevidenced] figure than Josephus’s John the Baptist, [and then was] secondarily conflated with Josephus’s John the Baptist.
These issues are beyond the scope of this paper.
—Gregory Doudna[162]

It is commonly maintained that the composition of the John story found in Antiquities postdates and is derivative from the John the Baptist story found in the Gospel of Mark. However Gregory Doudna argues that this premise needs to be questioned, Doudna writes, "There needs to be consideration given to an inversion of that premise, in which literary influence operated in the reverse direction from what has been assumed",[163] Doudna furthur states:
In this light, references to what the Gospels say of their John figures are of no relevance to understanding the Antiquities John passage. There is no beheading of John in the story in Antiquities, and therefore beheading has nothing to do with understanding Josephus’s John passage.[163]

Per Doudna, "Where my proposal differs from prevailing conceptions is in understanding the Antiquities passage as coming from a Jewish source telling a story of an undated John killed by an undated Herod, a tradition of the death of Hyrcanus II at the hands of Herod the Great, mistakenly dated by Josephus to the wrong Herod–and the Antiquities story generates the stories of the Gospel of Mark re John the Baptist rather than vice versa."[163]

Brad McAdon notes the similarities between the Markan text and Antiquities of the Jews by Josephus:
The narrative similarities between Antiq 18 and Mark (especially) 6 seem striking:
  1. Flashbacks: Both accounts are widely recognized as literary ‘flashbacks’.
  2. “Herod” instead of “Herod Antipas”: “Antipas” does not occur in any of the passages under consideration in Josephus’s Antiq, but only “Herod”; “Antipas” does not occur in Mark’s account, only “Herod”.
  3. “John a good man”: Josephus expresses that John “was a good and righteous man” (18.117); “Herod in awe of John, knowing him to be a good and holy man” (Mk 6:20).
  4. Reference to John’s arrest: Because of Herod’s suspicions, John was brought in chains to Machaerus (18.119); “Herod himself had sent men who arrested John, bound him, and put him in prison” (6:17).
  5. A reason for John’s arrest: Herod’s fear of John’s persuasive effect may lead to a form of sedition (18.118); “On account of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, because Herod had married her” (6:17).
  6. Herodias’s previous marriage: Herodias was previously married (18.110); Herodias was previously married (6:17-18).
  7. Herodias’s previous husband identified: Correctly as Herod’s step-brother (Herod II, 18.106); incorrectly as Philip (Mark 6:17).
  8. Herodias has a daughter: Herod II and Herodias have a daughter named Salome (18.136); Herodias’s daughter is not named in Mark.
  9. A “Philip” in both narratives: Philip as Herodias’s daughter’s (Salome’s) husband (18.136); Philip as Herodias’s first husband (Mk 6:17).
  10. Criticism of Herod and Herodias’s marriage: Herod and Herodias’s marriage criticized for traditional / religious reasons (18.136); Herod and Herodias’s marriage criticized for traditional/religious reasons (Mk 6:17).
  11. Leviticus 18:16 and 21: Implicit reference to Leviticus (18.136); implicit reference to Leviticus 6:17-18).
  12. Reasons for John’s death: Because of Herod’s suspicion that John’s ability to persuade the people may lead them to revolt (18.118); not because of John’s persuasiveness and fear of sedition, but because of his denouncing of Herod for taking his brother’s wife (Mk 6:17).
  13. Herod executes John: Antiq 18.116-19 and Mk 6:16,27).
From a narrative perspective, it seems that the material in Antiq 18 could provide auMark [author of Mark] with much of the narrative material that would be needed to frame the ‘death of John’ narrative in Mark 6—very similar to, as just one example, how the narrative material in LXX Jonah 1:4-16 served as his framing material for the Jesus “calming the sea” narrative in Mk 4?[164][165]
 
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Politesse

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This just in - Julius Caesar never existed.

(Only Romans wrote about him, and they're biased).

You were being facetious here, but I doubt that only Romans wrote about him. That would be suspicious. There were plenty of non-Romans who had a thing or two to say about him.
Such as whom, exactly?
"Romans" is not a single ideological group. There can be many independent ideological viewpoints among Romans. There can be many rival partisan groups within the collective "Romans" (whatever "Romans" means -- city of Rome inhabitants? Italians? citizens? slaves?) Caesar had supporters and critics and they both spoke about him. That's independent attestation among contemporaries. We also have something written by Julius Caesar himself along with independent attestation that he did write about his Gallic campaign.
Well, sure; But it doesn’t matter, because Politesse probably doesn’t exist.

I mean, we have testimony of his existence, but only from humans, and humans are obviously going to be biased on the question of whether a particular human exists.

Apparently. ;)
It's not my dumb argument. I do not, in fact, hold that there must be an enormous volume of "unbiased" evidence to suppose that a historical figure probably exists. Mythicism is dumb as shit, and it appeals to a large volume of "Roman records" that do not, in fact, exist, at least not in the way they seem to mean.
 

dbz

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Mythicism is dumb as shit, and it appeals to a large volume of "Roman records" that do not, in fact, exist, at least not in the way they seem to mean.

Lataster (ISBN:9789004408784) "interprets" Richard Carrier’s exhaustive (ca. 600 pages) case for mythicism (On the Historicity of Jesus: Why We Might Have Reason for Doubt). Not distinguishing "all" mythicist arguments from "all" peer reviewed scholarly arguments is disingenuous. Per Meggitt 2019, p. 447. "It would be a rather thankless and dispiriting task to correct the egregious errors of . . . Kersey Graves or Acharya S, but it would be unfair for the contributions of Brodie, Price, Carrier and Wells to ‘be tarnished with the same brush or be condemned with guilt by association’; indeed such scholars are generally as critical of the failings of the excesses of fellow mythicists as any others."
 

Politesse

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This just in - Julius Caesar never existed.

(Only Romans wrote about him, and they're biased).

You were being facetious here, but I doubt that only Romans wrote about him. That would be suspicious. There were plenty of non-Romans who had a thing or two to say about him.
Such as whom, exactly?
"Romans" is not a single ideological group. There can be many independent ideological viewpoints among Romans. There can be many rival partisan groups within the collective "Romans" (whatever "Romans" means -- city of Rome inhabitants? Italians? citizens? slaves?) Caesar had supporters and critics and they both spoke about him. That's independent attestation among contemporaries. We also have something written by Julius Caesar himself along with independent attestation that he did write about his Gallic campaign.
Well, sure; But it doesn’t matter, because Politesse probably doesn’t exist.

I mean, we have testimony of his existence, but only from humans, and humans are obviously going to be biased on the question of whether a particular human exists.

Apparently. ;)
It's not my dumb argument. I do not, in fact, hold that there must be an enormous volume of "unbiased" evidence (whatever that means in the context of a politician) to suppose that a historical figure probably exists. Mythicism is dumb as shit, and it appeals to a large volume of "Roman records" that do not, in fact, exist, at least not in the way they seem to mean.
"Romans" is not a single ideological group. There can be many independent ideological viewpoints among Romans. There can be many rival partisan groups within the collective "Romans" (whatever "Romans" means -- city of Rome inhabitants? Italians? citizens? slaves?) Caesar had supporters and critics and they both spoke about him. That's independent attestation among contemporaries. We also have something written by Julius Caesar himself along with independent attestation that he did write about his Gallic campaign.
Ah, new goalposts, great! I'm sure we all got bored of the old ones once it was clear they couldn't be met.

So the new standard is:

If it can be proven that there were different ideological groups within Judea, and more than one of them wrote about Jesus, then he is independently attested by the historical record to a reasonable degree of assurance?

Correct?
 

dbz

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So the new standard is:

If it can be proven that there were different ideological groups within Judea, and more than one of them wrote about Jesus, then he is independently attested by the historical record to a reasonable degree of assurance?

Correct?

Rather, It has always been, there are major issues of reliability per standard historical methodologies.
 

Politesse

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So the new standard is:

If it can be proven that there were different ideological groups within Judea, and more than one of them wrote about Jesus, then he is independently attested by the historical record to a reasonable degree of assurance?

Correct?

Rather, It has always been, there are major issues of reliability per standard historical methodologies.
Yes, there are. This ought to be the first thing any student learns about history. But this doesn't apply to Jesus in some special way; anyone who wants to explore classical history seriously learns that primary sources are few in number and generally unreliable, no matter who you are talking about.
 

dbz

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...there are major issues of reliability per standard historical methodologies.
Yes, there are. This ought to be the first thing any student learns about history. ...anyone who wants to explore classical history seriously learns that primary sources are few in number and generally unreliable, no matter who you are talking about.
  • Yes, I concur
...this doesn't apply to Jesus in some special way....
Lataster, Raphael (2019). Questioning the Historicity of Jesus: Why a Philosophical Analysis Elucidates the Historical Discourse. BRILL. ISBN 9789004408784. “This volume explains the inadequacy of the sources and methods used to establish Jesus’ historicity, and how agnosticism can reasonably be upgraded to theorising about ahistoricity when reconsidering Christian Origins.”

N.B. "the inadequacy of the ... methods" used by historicists because they are not standard historical methodologies!
 
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Copernicus

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So the new standard is:

If it can be proven that there were different ideological groups within Judea, and more than one of them wrote about Jesus, then he is independently attested by the historical record to a reasonable degree of assurance?

Correct?

Rather, It has always been, there are major issues of reliability per standard historical methodologies.
Yes, there are. This ought to be the first thing any student learns about history. But this doesn't apply to Jesus in some special way; anyone who wants to explore classical history seriously learns that primary sources are few in number and generally unreliable, no matter who you are talking about.

Poli, you seem to be missing the point that the ONLY evidence for the existence of Jesus is textual. The evidence for the existence of Julius Caesar is both archaeological and textual. The map of the Roman Empire in that period would have been very different if, if Caesar had been an imaginary construct. So your attempt to mock mythicism with that false analogy becomes just a straw man. The historical existence of Jesus cannot be made more plausible just because you have stuffed him in the same box as Julius Caesar. As I said, you need to pick a better figure to make your claim--some other historical figure whose existence is based solely on textual attestations. And then the analogy makes more sense. John the Baptist or Robin Hood would make a more appropriate analogy.

Mythicism per se is not "dumb as shit", because it isn't totally clear what it means to be a mythicist. Is McGrath a mythicist? He denies it, claiming that he thinks Jesus was historical but mythologized. Basically, mythicists are just amateurs and scholars who think that Jesus was a fictional mythologized figure. And then the debate centers on what the heck a "fictional" character is, and that is exactly what has occurred in this thread. Taking the label "mythicist" too literally is what is dumb as shit.
 

Politesse

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Poli, you seem to be missing the point that the ONLY evidence for the existence of Jesus is textual. The evidence for the existence of Julius Caesar is both archaeological and textual.
I mentioned that myself, I am not in ignorance of it, nor - as I can scarce believe I need to reiterate - do I believe it would be reasonable to conclude that Julius Caesar does not exist. Rather, my point is that the supposed standard of evidence for concluding that someone exists is not reasonable. If Jesus and Julius Caesar have more or less the same number and quality of textual sources, there's not much of a point to made here from textual sources. Jesus is mentioned in all of the documents we now possess from his time and region. They're all biased, and may have been modified post facto by faithless scribes, but they're all we have. And that is quite normal for nearly all individuals who lived before the printing press, however notable or famous they might have been in their lifetimes. While I say - and mean - that it would be absurd to claim that Julius or Jesus did not exist, it would also be foolish to assumed that we reliably know very much about either figure, and it is certain beyond doubt that both were mythologized during and after their deaths for political reasons.

As for archaeology, is the claim that if Jesus were real there would be coinage minted with his image and public art depicting him?

The goalposts move every time you point out that one of them makes no sense, but we can do this all day. I refuse to believe you are so uneducated as to not know why graven images of Jesus would be a most implausible find - I know that you had schooling, and must know at least the basics of Jewish beliefs.

Mythicism per se is not "dumb as shit", because it isn't totally clear what it means to be a mythicist. Is McGrath a mythici\st? He denies it, claiming that he thinks Jesus was historical but mythologized. Basically, mythicists are just amateurs and scholars who think that Jesus was a fictional mythologized figure. And then the debate centers on what the heck a "fictional" character is, and that is exactly what has occurred in this thread. Taking the label "mythicist" too literally is what is dumb as shit.
I took it to mean people who believe they can prove that Jesus never existed. Like Kenneth Humphreys, who wrote a book titled "Jesus Never Existed".

If Jesus mythicism merely means believing that some elements of the Gospel narratives are mythical in nature, than very nearly all scholars, of any discipline, are Jesus mythicists.
 

dbz

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I took it to mean people who believe they can prove that Jesus never existed.

Leading mythicism scholars do not not assert that the historicity of Jesus is a black or white scenario, R. M. Price writes, “I don’t think you can ‘prove’ either that a historical Jesus existed or that he didn’t. What you can do . . . is to construe the same old evidence in a new way that makes more natural, less contrived, sense”;[23] and Carrier gives at best a 1 in 3 (~33%) chance that Jesus existed.[24]
 

steve_bank

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Paul who never met Jesus is a reliable source as to the existence of a flesh and blood Jesus?

In our age of global communications and large scale primary education and literacy routinely 'make things up', and spin events to promote themselves. Think back 2000 years when only a few had capacity to write something coherent.

That Paul or anyone else inflated themselves is a given. On close inspection Paul comes across as a wacky self absorbed zealot. The model for the modern Evangelical. Paul came after te fact and like midern Evangelicals invents whatever he needs.

For Romans self promotion was SOP, standard operating procedure.
 

dbz

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Paul who never met Jesus is a reliable source as to the existence of a flesh and blood Jesus?

The main issue is that of all the "evidence" for a historical Jesus only the writings of Paul (Romans, 1st Corinthians, 2nd Corinthians, Galatians, Philippians, 1st Thessalonians and Philemon) can be said to be of a true possible contemporary to a Jesus who supposedly lived c 6 BCE to 36 CE. Paul seems only ever to know of Jesus communicating with his apostles by revelation (and hidden messages in scripture). Paul never once shows any awareness of any other way anyone knew or met Jesus, or any other way in which Jesus communicated with his apostles and is emphatic that all his knowledge of Jesus is coming from visions and revelation not from human sources.[277][278] However it is possible that Paul is making a false claim, which then makes any evidence sussed from Paul to be unreliable. Carrier writes,
All [the evidence historicists cite] from the Epistles [is] hopelessly vague and theological, not plain references to an earthly life of Jesus at all. Which is already by itself extremely strange. Why is this all we have, and not numerous debates and discussions and questions about Jesus’ ministry and trial and death or his miracles or parables or how he chose or affected or instructed the people who knew him? How has Paul never heard of the word “disciple” or that anyone was Jesus’ hand-picked representative in life? Why is he always weirdly vague; for instance, ascribing the death of Jesus to “archons of this eon” (1 Corinthians 2:6–10), which he characterizes as spiritual rather than terrestrial forces (as he there says they would understand esoteric details of God’s planned magical formulae), rather than to “Pontius Pilate” or “the Romans” or “the Jews”? Why does he never say Jesus’ death occurred “in Jerusalem”? How can Paul avoid in some 20,000 words ever making any clear reference to Jesus being on Earth? How can every question, argument, or opposition he ever faced have avoided referencing things Jesus said or did in life? He never referenced them. He never had them cited against him. He is never asked about them. That’s weird. And weird is just another word for improbable. Unless the only Jesus any Christians yet knew, was a revealed being, not an earthly minister.[279]

Some versions of the Christ myth theory (such as Kenneth Humphreys'[280]) suggest that Paul was a fictional person.

[A]ll the Pauline letters are in fact skillful falsifications from the second century.
Hermann Detering
Wikipedia
[7]

Some scholars such as Hermann Detering and Robert M. Price
Wikipedia
following the previous scholarship of the Dutch Radical School
Wikipedia
have argued that the Pauline epistles are from a later date than usually assumed.[8] Willem Christiaan van Manen
Wikipedia
of the Dutch Radical School saw various issues in the Pauline epistles. Van Manen claimed that they could not have been written earlier than the 2nd century. He argued that the canonical Pauline works de-emphasized the Gnostic aspects of early Christianity.[9]
 

steve_bank

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Herodotus is known as an ancient Greek historian. He is alsolknown for taking hear say or second hand accounts of events and spinning them as first hand accounts.

Paul and the gospels may not have been a malicious fabrication as we would would view today, it may hve justt been the way things worked given the lack of communications and journalistic reporting as we have today as well as the lack of literacy. News spread by word of mouth.

Given the geopolitcs and the turmoil in Isreal under Roman ossupation Jsus wod have been one of a num,ber wandering Jewish rabbis prophesier about doom and gloom for Israel. In teh day it wulyd have been obioys wherer Isreal was heading. It would not have taken a psychic to see Israel (Judea) was headed for devastation.

To me given pur overall knowledge of history the Jesus myth or cult is not mysterious. Look at the creation of Mormonism in the 19th century and contemporary Scientology. Hubbard went from writing bad scifi to crating Dianetics to Scientology and the E-Meter.

In the early 20th centurythe Brit Aleter Crowely intervened an occult system and had a following. Some are said to have bielived he atualy was a supernatural magician.

Or the LSD crowd who followed Leary in the 60s. Modern cults and myths abound.
 

Copernicus

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Poli, you seem to be missing the point that the ONLY evidence for the existence of Jesus is textual. The evidence for the existence of Julius Caesar is both archaeological and textual.
I mentioned that myself, I am not in ignorance of it, nor - as I can scarce believe I need to reiterate - do I believe it would be reasonable to conclude that Julius Caesar does not exist. Rather, my point is that the supposed standard of evidence for concluding that someone exists is not reasonable. If Jesus and Julius Caesar have more or less the same number and quality of textual sources, there's not much of a point to made here from textual sources. Jesus is mentioned in all of the documents we now possess from his time and region. They're all biased, and may have been modified post facto by faithless scribes, but they're all we have. And that is quite normal for nearly all individuals who lived before the printing press, however notable or famous they might have been in their lifetimes. While I say - and mean - that it would be absurd to claim that Julius or Jesus did not exist, it would also be foolish to assumed that we reliably know very much about either figure, and it is certain beyond doubt that both were mythologized during and after their deaths for political reasons.

Look, this is getting very silly. The case for a claim that Julius Caesar did not exist would run into a host of problems, not the least of which would be the question of how Gaul got added to the Roman Empire. It's not really about textual references. That case for a claim that Jesus did not exist is a helluva lot easier. That really is about just textual references. You are truly creating a false analogy and making straw man by trying to discredit mythicism with it. I'm not saying that you can't make some kind of analogy along those lines to question the mythicist position. I'm saying that you should use an analogy that is less simplistic and more appropriate.

As for archaeology, is the claim that if Jesus were real there would be coinage minted with his image and public art depicting him?

Archaeological evidence is more than just the discovery of a minted coin. There are a lot of different kinds of archaeological relics that corroborate the claim that Julius Caesar existed. There are none pointing to the existence of Jesus. Lack of evidence does not prove that Jesus never existed. Nor does the lack of evidence for a china teapot orbiting the sun prove that there isn't one. However, it is consistent with the claim that there isn't one. The burden of proof is on the historicist position, and it has to be better than "Jesus must have existed because mythicism is equivalent to denying that Julius Caesar existed." It isn't.

The goalposts move every time you point out that one of them makes no sense, but we can do this all day. I refuse to believe you are so uneducated as to not know why graven images of Jesus would be a most implausible find - I know that you had schooling, and must know at least the basics of Jewish beliefs.

I never made such a claim, and I'm happy to see that you are defending me against people who would attribute such a claim to me. It's probably best that you not go on all day defending me against such baseless claims. You'll tire yourself out. ;)

Mythicism per se is not "dumb as shit", because it isn't totally clear what it means to be a mythicist. Is McGrath a mythici\st? He denies it, claiming that he thinks Jesus was historical but mythologized. Basically, mythicists are just amateurs and scholars who think that Jesus was a fictional mythologized figure. And then the debate centers on what the heck a "fictional" character is, and that is exactly what has occurred in this thread. Taking the label "mythicist" too literally is what is dumb as shit.
I took it to mean people who believe they can prove that Jesus never existed. Like Kenneth Humphreys, who wrote a book titled "Jesus Never Existed".

If Jesus mythicism merely means believing that some elements of the Gospel narratives are mythical in nature, than very nearly all scholars, of any discipline, are Jesus mythicists.

Just like all Christians are atheists when it comes to all the gods they don't believe in. Mythicism is defined more by what it denies than what it claims. The existence of bad arguments in support of a claim do not make the claim incorrect. Questions of existence are always empirical in nature, so it is easy to meet the standard of proof for historical existence when it comes to Julius Caesar. Given all of the evidence above and beyond textual analysis, it is absurd to believe that he did not exist. For Jesus, it's a much harder sell. I know that McGrath knows a lot more about the textual analysis than I do, but I'm not willing to bet that I would come to the same conclusion that he has if I knew what he knows. So I can't rule out mythicism with the confidence that he does.
 

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I took it to mean people who believe they can prove that Jesus never existed.

Leading mythicism scholars do not not assert that the historicity of Jesus is a black or white scenario, R. M. Price writes, “I don’t think you can ‘prove’ either that a historical Jesus existed or that he didn’t. What you can do . . . is to construe the same old evidence in a new way that makes more natural, less contrived, sense”;[23] and Carrier gives at best a 1 in 3 (~33%) chance that Jesus existed.[24]
Invented probabilities not based on empirical data mean nothing to me. But if you're saying that the constant barrage of threads on Jesus' existence are not, in fact, indicative of a general obsession with undermining Christianity by using shoddy historical methods and arbitrarily invented standards of evidence to "prove" that Jesus didn't exist, I disagree on the basis of my own experience of this phenomenon over the years.
 
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Politesse

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Look, this is getting very silly. The case for a claim that Julius Caesar did not exist would run into a host of problems, not the least of which would be the question of how Gaul got added to the Roman Empire. It's not really about textual references. That case for a claim that Jesus did not exist is a helluva lot easier. That really is about just textual references. You are truly creating a false analogy and making straw man by trying to discredit mythicism with it. I'm not saying that you can't make some kind of analogy along those lines to question the mythicist position. I'm saying that you should use an analogy that is less simplistic and more appropriate.
Oh, it started silly, and still is. My point is that the textual evidence is more or less equivalent for these two individuals. That is, for the emperor of the known world, and for an obscure Palestinian miracle worker.

Not...

for the third time, since you seem to be having inexplicable trouble understanding this point....

that I think Julius Caesar didn't exist.

Julius Caesar existed.

He just didn't actually leave a long papyrus trail while he was alive. And if one man whose life utterly and permanently changed the face of European history for two millennia didn't leave much of a papyrus trail, we shouldn't be surprised that the same can be said of most individuals in antiquity, Jesus included.

Is Julius Caesar a funny example?

Show me the strong textual evidence that any particular 1st century Judean existed. Find me a single one for whom the textual evidence is stronger than that which is presented for Jesus, or that meets any of the supposed criteria of historicity that have been advanced in this thread. If you do not like my analogy, I happily invite you to find another that is more appropriate.

I'll wait.

Archaeological evidence is more than just the discovery of a minted coin. There are a lot of different kinds of archaeological relics that corroborate the claim that Julius Caesar existed. There are none pointing to the existence of Jesus. Lack of evidence does not prove that Jesus never existed. Nor does the lack of evidence for a china teapot orbiting the sun prove that there isn't one. However, it is consistent with the claim that there isn't one. The burden of proof is on the historicist position, and it has to be better than "Jesus must have existed because mythicism is equivalent to denying that Julius Caesar existed." It isn't.
Aha, I'm starting to see a trend here. You claimed that there were all kinds of non-Roman texts supporting the existence of Julius Caesar, to the point of asserting with seeming confidence that the lack of such evidence would be "suspicious". When asked to name a single one, you changed the subject, perhaps having since realized that no such documents existed. And the same thing is about to happen to the archaeological evidence. I will ask you to name a single artifact that supports Caesar's existence, but that isn't explicitly tied to his status as a political leader: a status that Jesus never had, nor is claimed to have had, and thus would not be expected to produce. And you will once again, perhaps after a bit of frantic googling, change the subject and introduce a new goalpost to reach, having no doubt realized with some embarassment that it is vanishingly rare to find an artifact associated with certainty to any named individual.


Just like all Christians are atheists when it comes to all the gods they don't believe in. Mythicism is defined more by what it denies than what it claims.
Well, that's a shoddy-ass way to approach historical interpretation. Show me the concrete evidence, or go back to philosophy class.
 

dbz

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Just like all Christians are atheists when it comes to all the gods they don't believe in. Mythicism is defined more by what it denies than what it claims.... I know that McGrath knows a lot more about the textual analysis than I do, but I'm not willing to bet that I would come to the same conclusion that he has if I knew what he knows.

Rather than IF "I knew what he knows."; you already know what he knows not!
Per David Madison:
{BEGINQUOTE}
In one of the essays, “Chapter 15: A Rejoinder to James McGrath’s Case for Jesus,” Neil Godfrey analyzes the efforts of McGrath to defend the historicity of Jesus. Most laypeople, we can be sure, are puzzled that the topic is up for debate: “Just open the gospels, the history of Jesus is right there!” They are not aware that Jesus studies have been in turmoil for decades, precisely because the gospels, having been written decades after the death of Jesus, cannot be trusted. At the end of John’s gospel we find the claim that “…this is the disciple who is testifying to these things and has written them, and we know that his testimony is true” (21:24), and the author of Luke’s gospel tells his readers that the reported events “…were handed on to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses…” (1:2) Full stop: any novelist can make such claims, and authors of religious propaganda specialize in such bragging. Historians have noted for a long time that there is no contemporaneous documentation of any kind to validate any of the word or deeds of Jesus. No letters, diaries, transcripts, Roman government records.

So what are the defenders of Jesus to do? McGrath finds it hard to believe that the early Christians would have invented the story of a messiah descended from David who ended up getting crucified. How would anyone be won over to the new faith with such a story? The messiah was supposed to be triumphant. Wouldn’t his ignominious death have been a turnoff? Hence the story—so much cognitive dissonance—would not have been invented. But this ignores the apostle Paul’s interpretation of events. Godfrey points out that Paul, quoting Psalm 110 and 8 in 1 Corinthians 15, embraces the messianic role of Jesus: “Paul makes it clear that Jesus has fulfilled that Davidic hope by orders of magnitude.” (Kindle, page 355)

But then the death was followed by resurrection, which reversed the bad part of the story, as Godfrey notes: “What was being preached was that Jesus, through death and resurrection, had become the ultimate fulfilment of the all-powerful and cosmos-ruling Davidic Messiah. Admittedly it might have been difficult to persuade many people that the crucified Jesus was the messiah, but Paul was never a witness to Jesus and was able to persuade others of his belief in Jesus’ victory over death nonetheless.” (Kindle, pp. 355-356)

Moreover, “…the Davidic Messiah is ruling from heaven with everything, even the future and death itself, under control. What is appealing and persuasive is the story as we read it: apostles witnessing the risen Jesus and accounts of preaching backed up by miracles. But whether the story is grounded in ‘history’ is another question.” (Kindle, p. 357)

Once the Christian propagandists came up with “death itself being under control,” who would have cared that the messiah had been crucified? Nor would there have been much worry if any real history was at the core of the story. Neither was that Paul’s concern, as Godfrey notes: “The first believer we have on record boasts that his belief came about entirely through visions and revelation in Scripture and from that foundation he made converts. Only decades later does a ‘fleshed out’ story in our gospels, set in a time and place no longer accessible to most readers, emerge.” (Kindle, p. 358)

Yes, that’s the problem with the gospels: set in a time and place no longer assessable—to people who want to find out that actually happened.

McGrath hopes to find an ally in Paul, i.e., the famous text in Galatians 1:18-19, in which he writes, “Then after three years I did go up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas and stayed with him fifteen days, but I did not see any other apostle except James the Lord’s brother.” Doesn’t that settle it? If Paul met Jesus’ brother, then clearly Jesus really did exist. There has been substantial scholarly discussion of this text, for several reasons. Cephas here means Peter, and it has been so tempting to think of the Peter as described in the gospels—but the stories of that Peter hadn’t been invented yet. If Paul had spent fifteen days with that Peter, why don’t we find many references to the gospel stories in Paul’s letters? How come Paul never mentions the Empty Tomb on Easter morning—wouldn’t Peter have been eager to share that story? Something is seriously off here.

There has been much discussion as well of the meaning of “the Lord’s brother.” Is this a reference to a biological brother, or does this mean a brother in the inner circle of the early followers of Jesus? Godfrey quotes scholar R. Joseph Hoffmann who is not a mythicist, but is not much swayed by this text as evidence for Jesus: “In the light of Paul’s complete disregard of the ‘historical’ Jesus, moreover, it is unimaginable that he would assert a biological relationship between James and ‘the Lord.’” (Kindle, p. 361)

It’s probably not smart to rely heavily on Galatians 1:19 as evidence for a real Jesus, because it’s hard to establish that this verse was actually what Paul wrote. That is, there could very well have been tampering with the text by copyists. Godfrey quotes A.D. Howell Smith (from his 1942 book, Jesus Not a Myth): “There is a critical case of some slight cogency against the authenticity of Galatians 1:18-19, which was absent from Marcion’s Apostolicon…” (Kindle, p. 363) For an another in-depth discussion of this text, by the way, see Chapter 9 of Richard Carrier’s Jesus from Outer Space: What the Earliest Christians Really Believed about Christ.

New Testament scholars—McGrath included—who are impressed with the extensive mass of details about Jesus in the gospels, are confident that a real person must be there somewhere. And there has been so much speculation about what bits, what fragments of Jesus-script, can be considered authentic. There must be some, right? Godfrey quotes historian Donald Akenson:

“It is appropriate to discuss the questions of when specific [New Testament] texts were written, how the early versions were stacked together, and what their dates of origin may be, and how these matters of dating relate to early Christianity and to the questions of the ‘historical Jesus’…from the viewpoint of a professional historian, there is a good deal in the methods and assumptions of most present-day biblical scholars that makes one not just a touch uneasy, but downright queasy.” (Kindle, p. 369)

Godfrey also notes the problems of verifying any ancient histories, e.g., those of Rome. He quotes Moses I. Finley:

“Where did the [ancient historians] find their information? No matter how many older statements we can either document or posit—irrespective of possible reliability—we eventually reach a void. But ancient writers, like historians ever since, could not tolerate a void, and they filled it in one way or another, ultimately by pure invention. The ability of the ancients to invent and their capacity to believe are persistently underestimated.” (Kindle, p. 370)

“…ultimately by pure invention…” Which is what so much in the gospels looks like. “With Jesus,” Godfrey says, “there are no sources independent of Christianity itself.” Which is a gentler way of saying: no sources independent of the propaganda pieces written to promote the early Jesus cult.

Doesn’t this add to the incoherence of Christian theology? There is so little in the New Testament that we can trust—the gospels are bad enough, leaving aside the egregiously bad theology of the apostle Paul. If the Christian god wanted a story of Jesus that would stand the test of time, couldn’t he have foreseen the time—since he’s all-knowing—when serious historians would come along and be justifiably suspicious that the Jesus stories look far too much like fairy tales?
{ENDQUOTE}
 
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dbz

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...if you're saying that the constant barrage of threads on Jesus' existence are not, in fact, indicative of a general obsession with undermining Christianity by using shoddy historical methods and arbitrarily invented standards of evidence to "prove" that Jesus didn't exist, I disagree on the basis of my own experience of this phenomenon over the years.

Many critics of leading mythicist scholarship assume that the motivation behind the arguments is a hostility towards religion in general and Christianity in particular. However that canard
Wiktionary
will not fly (so to speak), since the worst way for anyone to attempt to undermine a person’s faith is to deny the very existence of the figure at the center of their faith. Carrier opines that one should "Dump the strategy of arguing that Christianity (or the New Testament, or this or that teaching, or anything whatever) is false 'because Jesus didn’t exist.'"[232] Lataster writes, "Christian believers should generally not become involved in this debate, nor should non-believers thrust it upon them. . . . I have no desire to upset Christians."[233] James Crossley writes:
...instead of more polemical reactions on all sides of these debates about the historicity of Jesus, perhaps it would be more worthwhile to see what can be learned. In the case of Lataster’s book and the position it represents, scepticism about historicity is worth thinking about seriously—and, in light of demographic changes, it might even feed into a dominant position in the near future.[234]
 

Copernicus

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...Doesn’t this add to the incoherence of Christian theology? There is so little in the New Testament that we can trust—the gospels are bad enough, leaving aside the egregiously bad theology of the apostle Paul. If the Christian god wanted a story of Jesus that would stand the test of time, couldn’t he have foreseen the time—since he’s all-knowing—when serious historians would come along and be justifiably suspicious that the Jesus stories look far too much like fairy tales?

I'm familiar with many of the points you have made regarding Godfrey's critique of McGrath, and that's why I take the position of an agnostic that leans towards mythicism. That is, there seems to be a kind of "Jesus of the gaps" going on in scholarly debate over how to frame historicism--eliminate all of the miracles and inconsistencies, and what is left over is a central core of what must have been the truth. Add to that the fact that I don't really know much about the kinds of gentiles and Hellenized Jews who accepted belief in all these tales. How well educated were they? How gullible? Yet we read all sorts of assessments about what people considered plausible in those times. I know that specialists in the history of those times have a much better idea of such things than I do, but I am still skeptical that those kinds of arguments.
 

steve_bank

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Keep in mid mythology is a way to make a living for both the believers and narrators of mythology, and those who are scholarly purveyors of mythology. One can academically feel superior to others by virtuee of knowing a lot about silly beliefs.

Egyptology has been a fascination in the west for centuries.

It is a win-win scenario. Everybody gets a pay check.

It does get into the silly debate region. One creates centuries of dialogue on a perosn of unkown and existence, based on writings by unknown people. The perfect perpetual source of intellectual academic debate.
 

dbz

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Invented probabilities not based on empirical data mean nothing to me.... undermining Christianity by using shoddy historical methods and arbitrarily invented standards of evidence to "prove" that Jesus didn't exist...

Godfrey, Neil (22 December 2017). "Is there anything good to be said about Richard Carrier?". Vridar.
Can you really know that a person who is arguing something you find detestable is also insincere, a hypocrite, driven by some pernicious secret motivation?

Per "Invented probabilities not based on empirical data" see: Carrier, Richard (2012). Proving History: Bayes's Theorem and the Quest for the Historical Jesus. Prometheus Books. ISBN 978-1-61614-560-6.
 

Politesse

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. One can academically feel superior to others by virtuee of knowing a lot about silly beliefs.

Invented probabilities not based on empirical data mean nothing to me.... undermining Christianity by using shoddy historical methods and arbitrarily invented standards of evidence to "prove" that Jesus didn't exist...

Godfrey, Neil (22 December 2017). "Is there anything good to be said about Richard Carrier?". Vridar.
Can you really know that a person who is arguing something you find detestable is also insincere, a hypocrite, driven by some pernicious secret motivation?

Per "Invented probabilities not based on empirical data" see: Carrier, Richard (2012). Proving History: Bayes's Theorem and the Quest for the Historical Jesus. Prometheus Books. ISBN 978-1-61614-560-6.
I didn't describe anyone as pernicious or insincere. But Carrier is most certainly driven by ideology, not fact.

I'm quite familiar with Reverend Bayes, and the preactical and fanciful applications of Bayesian reasoning.
 

Copernicus

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Look, this is getting very silly. The case for a claim that Julius Caesar did not exist would run into a host of problems, not the least of which would be the question of how Gaul got added to the Roman Empire. It's not really about textual references. That case for a claim that Jesus did not exist is a helluva lot easier. That really is about just textual references. You are truly creating a false analogy and making straw man by trying to discredit mythicism with it. I'm not saying that you can't make some kind of analogy along those lines to question the mythicist position. I'm saying that you should use an analogy that is less simplistic and more appropriate.
Oh, it started silly, and still is. My point is that the textual evidence is more or less equivalent for these two individuals. That is, for the emperor of the known world, and for an obscure Palestinian miracle worker.

Not...

for the third time, since you seem to be having inexplicable trouble understanding this point....

that I think Julius Caesar didn't exist.

Julius Caesar existed.

You keep saying this, but I have never claimed you thought Julius Caesar didn't exist. I don't know how I could make it any clearer, but I'll try again. My point is that you are making a false equivalence between Caesar and Jesus by trying to make it seem like the textual evidence for both is roughly the same. It is not, and the problem is that the ONLY evidence for Jesus is textual. Others have also tried to make the same point, but you seem intent on defending your equivalence no matter how many times it is addressed and refuted.

He just didn't actually leave a long papyrus trail while he was alive. And if one man whose life utterly and permanently changed the face of European history for two millennia didn't leave much of a papyrus trail, we shouldn't be surprised that the same can be said of most individuals in antiquity, Jesus included.

What are you talking about? A lot was written about and by Julius Caesar while he was alive. Have you never even heard of De Bello Gallico? I even read the original in Latin. You do know that Cicero, the greatest Roman orator of his time, had things to say about him, don't you? Again, you seem to be making a false equivalence here between Julius Caesar and Jesus. Are you just going into argumentum ad nauseam mode?


Is Julius Caesar a funny example?

Show me the strong textual evidence that any particular 1st century Judean existed. Find me a single one for whom the textual evidence is stronger than that which is presented for Jesus, or that meets any of the supposed criteria of historicity that have been advanced in this thread. If you do not like my analogy, I happily invite you to find another that is more appropriate.

I'll wait.

There seems to be some kind of communication malfunction here, because you seem to be making truly absurd claims. You need to explain how it is that the posthumous references to Jesus are equivalent to the contemporary records of Caesar, not to mention the existence of works that he authored.


Archaeological evidence is more than just the discovery of a minted coin. There are a lot of different kinds of archaeological relics that corroborate the claim that Julius Caesar existed. There are none pointing to the existence of Jesus. Lack of evidence does not prove that Jesus never existed. Nor does the lack of evidence for a china teapot orbiting the sun prove that there isn't one. However, it is consistent with the claim that there isn't one. The burden of proof is on the historicist position, and it has to be better than "Jesus must have existed because mythicism is equivalent to denying that Julius Caesar existed." It isn't.
Aha, I'm starting to see a trend here. You claimed that there were all kinds of non-Roman texts supporting the existence of Julius Caesar, to the point of asserting with seeming confidence that the lack of such evidence would be "suspicious". When asked to name a single one, you changed the subject, perhaps having since realized that no such documents existed. And the same thing is about to happen to the archaeological evidence. I will ask you to name a single artifact that supports Caesar's existence, but that isn't explicitly tied to his status as a political leader: a status that Jesus never had, nor is claimed to have had, and thus would not be expected to produce. And you will once again, perhaps after a bit of frantic googling, change the subject and introduce a new goalpost to reach, having no doubt realized with some embarassment that it is vanishingly rare to find an artifact associated with certainty to any named individual.

Actually, all I said was others besides Romans wrote about him without having any specifics to back that up. I'm not exactly sure what you meant by "Romans", so I'm not exactly sure what I would need to do to name specific people in a way that would satisfy your demand. Obviously, most of the literary references were by people living in the Roman Empire, but not all of them were Roman citizens. And it has been pointed out to you that it is wrong to equate the Roman Empire with a group devoted to a singular religious ideology. So here again you are into equating very different communities of people. You can't seem to get it through your head that you picked the wrong kind of historical person to equate with Jesus. Julius Caesar actually did leave an extensive papyrus trail, but the papyrus trail isn't the only thing that informs us of his existence. It is the only thing that informs us of Jesus' existence, and his trail contains nothing authored by anyone while he was alive.
 

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What are you talking about? A lot was written about and by Julius Caesar while he was alive. Have you never even heard of De Bello Gallico? I even read the original in Latin. You do know that Cicero, the greatest Roman orator of his time, had things to say about him, don't you? Again, you seem to be making a false equivalence here between Julius Caesar and Jesus. Are you just going into argumentum ad nauseam mode?
So you're up to two...
 

Politesse

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There seems to be some kind of communication malfunction here, because you seem to be making truly absurd claims. You need to explain how it is that the posthumous references to Jesus are equivalent to the contemporary records of Caesar, not to mention the existence of works that he authored
Predictable change of subject. You complain that my analogy is bad, but offer no better analogue.
 

Politesse

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Actually, perhaps it would be helpful to list five 1st century Judeans you are certain exist, so we could go through the documentary evidence and look for common trends. Maybe get something like average number of contemporary written sources that exist pertaining to any particular individual.
 

steve_bank

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Well, we had to read Caesar's The Gallic Wars in Latin in high school. Catholic school. It certainly was intened to enhance Caesar's political image. I don't recall his having walked on water.
 

Politesse

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Well, we had to read Caesar's The Gallic Wars in Latin in high school. Catholic school. It certainly was intened to enhance Caesar's political image. I don't recall his having walked on water.
No, just single-handedly led his people to victory over the forces of darkness, against overwhelming odds, culminating in a venture to a faraway island swathed in myth and mystery.
 

ramoss

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Well, we had to read Caesar's The Gallic Wars in Latin in high school. Catholic school. It certainly was intened to enhance Caesar's political image. I don't recall his having walked on water.
No, just single-handedly led his people to victory over the forces of darkness, against overwhelming odds, culminating in a venture to a faraway island swathed in myth and mystery.
While it was probably idealized , we do have archeological evidence of the Gallic wars. THere are some descrepnecies to be sure, but if you remember the writing was a political piece as much as it an attempt to write history favorably
 

Jarhyn

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I just find it exceedingly likely that it was a "historical dramatization" of Crestus mashed up with the more recent crazy Jesus Ananus (lol, an anus) some 100 years after the first partially cribbed from Josephus and mutated by memories or observations of... Ananus (lol, an anus).*

The whole timeline fits very well for this, and it explains the commonness of such interest in any specific guys named Jesus.

It's more a story of the history of the stereotype of "crazy Jesus" but written where the stereotype target isn't crazy.

It generates a myth from the portmanteau of two different Jesus figures mixed with liberal amounts of fiction, and a bit of historic research.

*I am totally a mature adult, definitely not 3 8 year olds in a trenchcoat.
 

Politesse

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Well, we had to read Caesar's The Gallic Wars in Latin in high school. Catholic school. It certainly was intened to enhance Caesar's political image. I don't recall his having walked on water.
No, just single-handedly led his people to victory over the forces of darkness, against overwhelming odds, culminating in a venture to a faraway island swathed in myth and mystery.
While it was probably idealized , we do have archeological evidence of the Gallic wars. THere are some descrepnecies to be sure, but if you remember the writing was a political piece as much as it an attempt to write history favorably
Yes, it is best explained as a genuine (in the sense of being written by the person it is credited to) artifact of wartime propaganda.
 

No Robots

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How lovely to see this forum revived. Mythicists have been forced to beg admittance to Peter Kirby’s forum for too long. Nice to see some familiar handles (Hello, Politesse. I see you are still taking your moniker to heart.)

The discussion about Jesus has come a long way from those heady early days of New Atheism, Earl Doherty and Richard Carrier. Or is it rather the case that there has been no progress in this discussion for a decade? And why would that be? Could it be that for all the Jesus boffins, whether Christian or atheist, there is general demoralization resulting from all this talk about Jesus being just another Jew?

In any case, I come here to promote my own hobby horses. As some of you recall, I am big on Constantin Brunner, the first to demand recognition of Jesus as Jew, and who wrote an extended critique of the myth theory. Rather than bore you all with more quotations from Brunner, I am going to promote the work of one of his contemporaries, Harry Waton, a Jew and Spinozist who wrote on the historic significance of Jesus.

The fundamental question is this: Why try to understand Jesus at all? After all, if one is Christian, one can simply believe without understanding; and if one is atheist, one can simply disbelieve without understanding. For some of us, however, understanding is something worth pursuing, especially where so many people are willing to forgo understanding in favour of belief or disbelief. And so we seek to understand. There are many attempts at explaining the phenomenon of Jesus. The faithful say he is the road to salvation, and those without faith say that he is a psychologic projection. Neither of these account for the historic impact of this person. Why have billions and billions of people, including many of today’s most militant atheists, devoted so much effort to understanding him? The more thoughtful atheists will say that it is necessary to understand the core of religious belief in order to combat it. And that is fine. But what to make of the ceaseless efforts to deny the obvious and easy answer that we have to do with a man of typical Jewish prophetic zeal, and find instead a basis in all manner of fantastic non-Jewish beliefs? Can it be that atheists, in seeking to combat religion, wish to create a fantasy of their own? And if so, why would that be?

There is in fact a very good reason why the myth theory has attained a prominent place in atheist thought today. It is for the simple reason that accepting the basic premise of the Jesus story as a Jewish sage necessarily involves serious consideration of the precepts of his thinking, and this may very well lead away from the kind of atheism that most atheists find comfortable. In stark terms, coming to terms with Jesus as a Jew means coming to terms with Judaism. And what does coming to terms with Judaism mean? If we say that Judaism is no more than an ancient religion with a few million adherents many of whom are assimilating into the general culture, then we can safely dismiss it. But if we say that Judaism is rapidly globalizing by virtue of its outreach faiths ie. Christianity and Islam, then we have a more serious issue to deal with. Here is Harry Waton:

With Jesus, who only symbolizes the Jews, the Jews say: Our kingdom is not of this world. The Jews will become the masters over the whole earth and they will subordinate to themselves all nations, not by material power, not by brute force, but by light, knowledge, understanding, humanity, peace, justice and progress. Judaism is communism, internationalism, the universal brotherhood of man, the emancipation of the working class and the human society. It is with these spiritual weapons that the Jews will conquer the world and the human race. The races and the nations will cheerfully submit to the spiritual power of Judaism, and all will become Jews.

Many people would reject this. But what if it is true? Where does that leave the faith tradition? Where does that leave atheism? There are answers to these questions, but this post is long enough.
 

T.G.G. Moogly

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I am truly enjoying the discussion.

As someone who has enjoyed the freedoms that literary license bestows I've trotted out my rather tired and common-sense hobby horse a few times which still rocks to the tune that GJ is just another fictional character in another series of fictional works. This take on GJ probably proceeds from having done fictional writing in the past and majoring in literature at college.

But we should all wish to know the reasons that jesus is taken as historical and we should all wish to know why Jesus is not historical, rather just another bit of historical fiction. It the scientific and historical curiosity in a person that drives the search for the truth, the accuracy of claims.

So, respectfully, we should want to understand the creation of this character in history. I don't think it's about anti-Jewish paranoia, it certainly isn't for me, it's just basic curiosity.
 

Jarhyn

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How lovely to see this forum revived. Mythicists have been forced to beg admittance to Peter Kirby’s forum for too long. Nice to see some familiar handles (Hello, Politesse. I see you are still taking your moniker to heart.)

The discussion about Jesus has come a long way from those heady early days of New Atheism, Earl Doherty and Richard Carrier. Or is it rather the case that there has been no progress in this discussion for a decade? And why would that be? Could it be that for all the Jesus boffins, whether Christian or atheist, there is general demoralization resulting from all this talk about Jesus being just another Jew?

In any case, I come here to promote my own hobby horses. As some of you recall, I am big on Constantin Brunner, the first to demand recognition of Jesus as Jew, and who wrote an extended critique of the myth theory. Rather than bore you all with more quotations from Brunner, I am going to promote the work of one of his contemporaries, Harry Waton, a Jew and Spinozist who wrote on the historic significance of Jesus.

The fundamental question is this: Why try to understand Jesus at all? After all, if one is Christian, one can simply believe without understanding; and if one is atheist, one can simply disbelieve without understanding. For some of us, however, understanding is something worth pursuing, especially where so many people are willing to forgo understanding in favour of belief or disbelief. And so we seek to understand. There are many attempts at explaining the phenomenon of Jesus. The faithful say he is the road to salvation, and those without faith say that he is a psychologic projection. Neither of these account for the historic impact of this person. Why have billions and billions of people, including many of today’s most militant atheists, devoted so much effort to understanding him? The more thoughtful atheists will say that it is necessary to understand the core of religious belief in order to combat it. And that is fine. But what to make of the ceaseless efforts to deny the obvious and easy answer that we have to do with a man of typical Jewish prophetic zeal, and find instead a basis in all manner of fantastic non-Jewish beliefs? Can it be that atheists, in seeking to combat religion, wish to create a fantasy of their own? And if so, why would that be?

There is in fact a very good reason why the myth theory has attained a prominent place in atheist thought today. It is for the simple reason that accepting the basic premise of the Jesus story as a Jewish sage necessarily involves serious consideration of the precepts of his thinking, and this may very well lead away from the kind of atheism that most atheists find comfortable. In stark terms, coming to terms with Jesus as a Jew means coming to terms with Judaism. And what does coming to terms with Judaism mean? If we say that Judaism is no more than an ancient religion with a few million adherents many of whom are assimilating into the general culture, then we can safely dismiss it. But if we say that Judaism is rapidly globalizing by virtue of its outreach faiths ie. Christianity and Islam, then we have a more serious issue to deal with. Here is Harry Waton:

With Jesus, who only symbolizes the Jews, the Jews say: Our kingdom is not of this world. The Jews will become the masters over the whole earth and they will subordinate to themselves all nations, not by material power, not by brute force, but by light, knowledge, understanding, humanity, peace, justice and progress. Judaism is communism, internationalism, the universal brotherhood of man, the emancipation of the working class and the human society. It is with these spiritual weapons that the Jews will conquer the world and the human race. The races and the nations will cheerfully submit to the spiritual power of Judaism, and all will become Jews.

Many people would reject this. But what if it is true? Where does that leave the faith tradition? Where does that leave atheism? There are answers to these questions, but this post is long enough.
Rather, I regard the author of the fiction to be in some ways the sage and perhaps a child of thought of the crazed(?) philosophical ramblings of Jesus Ananus.

I am truly enjoying the discussion.

As someone who has enjoyed the freedoms that literary license bestows I've trotted out my rather tired and common-sense hobby horse a few times which still rocks to the tune that GJ is just another fictional character in another series of fictional works. This take on GJ probably proceeds from having done fictional writing in the past and majoring in literature at college.

But we should all wish to know the reasons that jesus is taken as historical and we should all wish to know why Jesus is not historical, rather just another bit of historical fiction. It the scientific and historical curiosity in a person that drives the search for the truth, the accuracy of claims.

So, respectfully, we should want to understand the creation of this character in history. I don't think it's about anti-Jewish paranoia, it certainly isn't for me, it's just basic curiosity.
Exactly. I enjoy it as much as anyone else, and I really do think it all exists at a Nexus of mixing the two Jesus stories (Ananus + Chrestus) to fictionalize around the stereotype.

I think it's in fact rendering more respect to see it as the piece of creative historical fiction that it is rather than ascribing holy qualities to humans.
 

steve_bank

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Well, we had to read Caesar's The Gallic Wars in Latin in high school. Catholic school. It certainly was intened to enhance Caesar's political image. I don't recall his having walked on water.
No, just single-handedly led his people to victory over the forces of darkness, against overwhelming odds, culminating in a venture to a faraway island swathed in myth and mystery.
No, just single-handedly led his people to victory over the forces of darkness, against overwhelming odds,

So did Rambo and John Wayne's cowboy characters.

In reality Caesar made blunders and the Roman army was never invincible. Caesar's tactics worked well out in the open. In modern terms he developed battlefield command and control.

My point is Paul was a Roman citizen. He would certainly invent and exaggerate to establish his position.

To Jews the gospels would have been blasphemy. The idea of a human Jew being related to god. The Romans on the other hand elevated emperors to god like status as a matter of course.

Egyptian pharaohs and Chinese empowers.

I'd say the embellished gospels could not have orginated in Jewish culture. If you want to bring authority to a narrative, bring in a god-man. Routine in the ancient world.
 

Jarhyn

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Well, we had to read Caesar's The Gallic Wars in Latin in high school. Catholic school. It certainly was intened to enhance Caesar's political image. I don't recall his having walked on water.
No, just single-handedly led his people to victory over the forces of darkness, against overwhelming odds, culminating in a venture to a faraway island swathed in myth and mystery.
No, just single-handedly led his people to victory over the forces of darkness, against overwhelming odds,

So did Rambo and John Wayne's cowboy characters.

In reality Caesar made blunders and the Roman army was never invincible. Caesar's tactics worked well out in the open. In modern terms he developed battlefield command and control.

My point is Paul was a Roman citizen. He would certainly invent and exaggerate to establish his position.

To Jews the gospels would have been blasphemy. The idea of a human Jew being related to god. The Romans on the other hand elevated emperors to god like status as a matter of course.

Egyptian pharaohs and Chinese empowers.

I'd say the embellished gospels could not have orginated in Jewish culture. If you want to bring authority to a narrative, bring in a god-man. Routine in the ancient world.
You speak as if the Jews of the day were not also largely, if not mostly, influenced by Roman culture. Of course they could have originated in Jewish culture, and moreso on the borders of the two.
 

T.G.G. Moogly

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If Jesus mythicism merely means believing that some elements of the Gospel narratives are mythical in nature, than very nearly all scholars, of any discipline, are Jesus mythicists.
Do you understand the difference between mythical and fictional?
 

Politesse

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If Jesus mythicism merely means believing that some elements of the Gospel narratives are mythical in nature, than very nearly all scholars, of any discipline, are Jesus mythicists.
Do you understand the difference between mythical and fictional?
Yes. Hence why I have stated so confidently that nearly all scholars would agree that Jesus is, very obviously, a mythical figure. It is not a controversial claim in the same way as claiming, as per Carrier and the other conspiracy wonks, that Jesus was a wholly invented person concocted for some nefarious purpose.
 

T.G.G. Moogly

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If Jesus mythicism merely means believing that some elements of the Gospel narratives are mythical in nature, than very nearly all scholars, of any discipline, are Jesus mythicists.
Do you understand the difference between mythical and fictional?
Yes. Hence why I have stated so confidently that nearly all scholars would agree that Jesus is, very obviously, a mythical figure. It is not a controversial claim in the same way as claiming, as per Carrier and the other conspiracy wonks, that Jesus was a wholly invented person concocted for some nefarious purpose.
Isn't doesn't have to be nefarious in the sense that the effects are preplanned.
 

steve_bank

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Well, we had to read Caesar's The Gallic Wars in Latin in high school. Catholic school. It certainly was intened to enhance Caesar's political image. I don't recall his having walked on water.
No, just single-handedly led his people to victory over the forces of darkness, against overwhelming odds, culminating in a venture to a faraway island swathed in myth and mystery.
No, just single-handedly led his people to victory over the forces of darkness, against overwhelming odds,

So did Rambo and John Wayne's cowboy characters.

In reality Caesar made blunders and the Roman army was never invincible. Caesar's tactics worked well out in the open. In modern terms he developed battlefield command and control.

My point is Paul was a Roman citizen. He would certainly invent and exaggerate to establish his position.

To Jews the gospels would have been blasphemy. The idea of a human Jew being related to god. The Romans on the other hand elevated emperors to god like status as a matter of course.

Egyptian pharaohs and Chinese empowers.

I'd say the embellished gospels could not have orginated in Jewish culture. If you want to bring authority to a narrative, bring in a god-man. Routine in the ancient world.
You speak as if the Jews of the day were not also largely, if not mostly, influenced by Roman culture. Of course they could have originated in Jewish culture, and moreso on the borders of the two.
Tht would be lke saying modern Israell is cultrally influnced by Iran and Iran is culturally infkluenced by Saudi Arabia.
 

steve_bank

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Fiction can be based on real people. Captain Kirk is fiction, no such a charter exists. A fictional 19th century resewn novel woud gave characters based on composites and sterotypes of reral cowboys.

Historical drama is based on historical characters with liberal literary licrnse with fActs for dramatic effect. A number of moviess based on Billy The Kid and Wyatt Earp.

Myth can be fiction or based on a real person and real facts.

If not an actual Jesus on which the myth was built there were similar people.
 
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