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The Christ Myth Theory

Copernicus

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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...

Actually, I'm not trying to satisfy your demand for names, but you can keep count. Or do your own research, if you are truly interested in naming contemporaries of Caesar who wrote about him. Since I reject the validity of your analogy, there wouldn't be much point for me to pursue it.

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.

It's your analogy so I don't see why you expect me to fix you up a better one. I've only pointed out that you need to find a historical figure whose existence is only known through a textual record. Caesar is incredibly well-attested, but there is too much evidence from other sources to support his historicity. There are other mythical characters from those times that may or may not have been real people. Analogies tend never to be valid methods of reasoning in support of a conclusion, but I'm not going to get all fussy about the logic of your argument here.

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.

There you go. You are well on your way to constructing a better analogy. You do realize that I am agnostic about the historicity of Jesus, don't you? There may or may not have been a real person, although I don't feel there is any convincing evidence to support belief in one. I'm not agnostic about the historicity of Caesar for the reasons I've already given.
 

No Robots

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To Jews the gospels would have been blasphemy. The idea of a human Jew being related to god.

Here's Waton on this subject:

Moses and the Prophets spoke in the name of Jehovah, while Jesus spoke in his own name. This was regarded by the Jews as blasphemy, but there was no blasphemy about it. The truth is this. When Moses and the Prophets spoke in the name of Jehovah, they in truth spoke in their own name, being fully conscious that Jehovah spoke through them. At this time of the development of the Jews it was yet impossible for Moses and the Prophets to speak in their own names to the Jews, for the Jews were not yet prepared to understand such language. But in the time of Jesus the Jews were already prepared to understand such language. Hence Jesus no longer found necessary to speak in the name of Jehovah, because he knew that Jehovah spoke through him. And, while there were many Jews who understood this language, the ruling classes could not bear it. They could not bear it for the same reason that centuries before they could not bear the language of Isaiah and Jeremiah, though they spoke in the name of Jehovah, because what they spoke was against the interests of the ruling classes. The same was the case with Jesus. They could not bear the language of Jesus, because he spoke against the ruling classes. And, just as today, when the communist speaks against the ruling classes, the latter declare the communist an enemy of society, of religion and morality; so the ruling classes declared that Jesus was an enemy of society, of religion and morality. In the days of Jesus, Moses and the Prophets would also speak in their own names, for the time passed to speak in the name of Jehovah, as if Jehovah was sitting in heaven and giving orders to men on earth. Thus, again, we see that the Christians are right when they say that Jesus was the highest development of Judaism. And, since the Christians identify Christianity with Jesus, they are right to say that Judaism was a preparation for Christianity, and that Christianity is superior to Judaism.
 

Politesse

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It's your analogy so I don't see why you expect me to fix you up a better one. I've only pointed out that you need to find a historical figure whose existence is only known through a textual record. Caesar is incredibly well-attested, but there is too much evidence from other sources to support his historicity. There are other mythical characters from those times that may or may not have been real people. Analogies tend never to be valid methods of reasoning in support of a conclusion, but I'm not going to get all fussy about the logic of your argument here.
It's not really my analogy. Bringing up Mr. Caesar is very nearly a cliche in this discussion, as he is customarily brought up (by Jesus mythers) as an example as a person who historians more or less agree exists, and who lived (somewhat) near Jesus' time. My point is that despite that, if you're only looking at textual sources, he still fails to meet many of the standards often set for estabishing Jesus' likely existence. It's just a handful of sources, nearly all of them openly propagandistic in character. The thing that offends me most about this conspiracy theory is that it hinges on common misconceptions about the Roman period and the study of history than it does on any sort of evidence or reasonable argument.

I'd say a better analogue for Jesus might be someone else who, like Jesus, we know only from Josephus and from early Christian documents. The high priest Caiaphas, for instance, who is mentioned in both of those sources.
 

T.G.G. Moogly

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If not an actual Jesus on which the myth was built there were similar people.
The writer wasn't writing a myth, unless you consider Superman a mythical character. The writer could have very well written about GJ from real life experiences with real people and real places. But that doesn't make GJ historical or mythical anymore than the authors of Superman.

I hope that makes sense.
 

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.
Tht would be lke saying modern Israell is cultrally influnced by Iran and Iran is culturally infkluenced by Saudi Arabia.
No, it's like saying Amish culture is influenced by American culture. They were part of the Roman empire and there were people from all over there in the region.

To make the proclamation that only a Roman and not a Jew in such a time as a hundred years after the events of Chrestus and 30+ years after Ananus (nope, still can't say it without snickering) could have the culture to write it is downright silly.

At any rate it's almost certainly a mashup of two Jewish legends of a Jesus told as you say, western mashup style.

The thing is, it's a completely fictional character, and once the story got out, it got legs because the fact is, it's not a bad story, especially for it's time.
 

Copernicus

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It's your analogy so I don't see why you expect me to fix you up a better one. I've only pointed out that you need to find a historical figure whose existence is only known through a textual record. Caesar is incredibly well-attested, but there is too much evidence from other sources to support his historicity. There are other mythical characters from those times that may or may not have been real people. Analogies tend never to be valid methods of reasoning in support of a conclusion, but I'm not going to get all fussy about the logic of your argument here.
It's not really my analogy. Bringing up Mr. Caesar is very nearly a cliche in this discussion, as he is customarily brought up (by Jesus mythers) as an example as a person who historians more or less agree exists, and who lived (somewhat) near Jesus' time. My point is that despite that, if you're only looking at textual sources, he still fails to meet many of the standards often set for estabishing Jesus' likely existence. It's just a handful of sources, nearly all of them openly propagandistic in character. The thing that offends me most about this conspiracy theory is that it hinges on common misconceptions about the Roman period and the study of history than it does on any sort of evidence or reasonable argument.

I'd say a better analogue for Jesus might be someone else who, like Jesus, we know only from Josephus and from early Christian documents. The high priest Caiaphas, for instance, who is mentioned in both of those sources.

It is your analogy, because you alone introduced it in this thread, not some alleged group of Jesus mythers. I don't think any of us feel obligated to defend bad arguments brought up by people who aren't part of the discussion and aren't here to argue with you. And you keep missing the real point here, which is that textual sources are the only sources we have to go on with Jesus. It is absurd to argue that the historicity of Julius Caesar was based on similar types of textual sources to those that people use to argue for the historicity of Jesus. I'm not going to argue with you over what constitutes a "handful of sources" for Caesar, because the Caesar comparison isn't relevant here. If it annoys you that some mythers use that analogy, then take it up with those mythers. It is also annoying that you inserted into the discussion an analogy that annoyed you so much elsewhere so that you could criticize mythicism in general.

As for Caiaphas, I would agree that he would be a better analogy, but all analogies break down at some point. He may have been popular or not in his time, but he did not generate a widespread cult of followers trying to exalt and preserve his legacy. Hence, we get a much more distorted picture of Jesus merely from the fact that he got so much attention. Ditto for Pontius Pilate, whose existence was known from literary sources but confirmed archaeologically in recent times. Ironically, all of the controversy surrounding the question of Jesus seems to have cast more doubt on him than Caiaphas and Pilate simply because there weren't so many people interested in finding out about them. Jesus is held to a more rigorous standard of proof precisely because of the effect his legend had on later generations. In that sense Jesus is more similar to Julius Caesar than Caiaphas or Pilate are. It's just that the lack of corroborating evidence for Jesus outside of the literature is so scant that there is more reason to doubt his existence.
 

Politesse

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It is your analogy, because you alone introduced it in this thread, not some alleged group of Jesus mythers.
As an offhand joke that you've been banging on about for two pages now....

It's just that the lack of corroborating evidence for Jesus outside of the literature is so scant that there is more reason to doubt his existence.
Unless you're rational, and understand that demanding extraordinary evidence to prove the existence of historical figures - as you more or less admit, more out of objection to their legacy than any of the facts at hand - is folly, an activity undeserving of the respect of any serious student of history. Why would we wxpect a back country preacher to generate more of a material record than the leader of a nation?
 

Swammerdami

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Like Richard Carrier, I "believe" in Bayes' Theorem; I have frequently invoked it myself, explicitly or implicitly, in discussions of historicity or possible hoaxes.

HOWEVER it is almost ridiculous to think Bayesian analysis can come up with a useful final number! For example, consider my "common-sense" arguments in support of historicity. We can disagree on whether these arguments are weak or strong (and thus use different weights in our Bayesian arithmetic) but unless you claim there is ZERO correlation between historicity and "being without honor in one's own country" they cannot be omitted from the calculation. A complete Bayesian analysis would consider this and many thousands of other facts or arguments, all with controversial prior probabilities, and with complex inter-fact correlations.

I do not accuse Carrier of deliberately cherry-picking the parameters for his Bayesian analysis. I am saying that it is futile to imagine a little arithmetic will produce a useful probability estimate for such a complicated problem.

I am reminded of another thread, in which I claim that what was clearly a disguised name — "Will Monox with his great dagger" — increases the chance that "Great Ox" used "Will" as a pseudonym. But does this small fact increase the net chance of a hoax from 91% to 92%? Or from 0.00001% to 0.00004%? It would be futile to bundle together thousands of correlated probabilities — whose values we could never agree on anyway — to attempt to derive a single number. But it is wrong to dismiss such pieces of evidence with "Too confusing to plug into my Bayes software. Sorry."
 

steve_bank

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If not an actual Jesus on which the myth was built there were similar people.
The writer wasn't writing a myth, unless you consider Superman a mythical character. The writer could have very well written about GJ from real life experiences with real people and real places. But that doesn't make GJ historical or mythical anymore than the authors of Superman.

I hope that makes sense.
I read something about the original idea for Superman was from a Jewish marginalized immigrant who felt he was as American as anyone else, and just as strong.

Robert Howard was sickly. Conan was an expression of his alter ego.

All things literary are an extension of ourselves. If not nobody would read anything. IMO.
 

dbz

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Is it?
...wrong to dismiss such pieces of evidence with "Too confusing to plug into my Bayes software. Sorry."
You can analyze your own evidence for or against a historical Jesus claim using our Bayesian Calculator. All you have to know is how much more likely a piece of evidence is to support your claim, whichever position you choose.
This calculator can be used for other historical clams as well! You can use this tool to test the historicity of Julius Caesar or Abraham.
This is a valuable tool for anyone interested in historical research or general historical claims.

Comments per: Godfrey, Neil (12 May 2019). "The Questions We Permit Ourselves to Ask". Vridar.

Christoph Heilig says: 2019-05-14 21:28:08 GMT+0000 at 21:28
If Carrier actually wanted to use actual numbers, fine. Just go through the early Christian literature and see how often the phrase is used for physical relatives on the one hand and believers on the other – and how often other formulations are used for both concepts!

Richard Carrier says: November 11, 2019, 4:11 pm
If Carrier actually wanted to use actual numbers, fine. Just go through the early Christian literature and see how often the phrase is used for physical relatives on the one hand and believers on the other…
That’s not correct procedure. Context changes meaning. All language is contextual. How one author uses words differs from another, and how words get used in different periods of church history will differ, and the contexts words are used likewise confers different meanings.

So the base rate has to be discerned from like contexts: which I demonstrate are (a) a writer (Paul) who only ever mentions being brothers of Jesus in a spiritual sense (the baptized are the “adopted” sons of God and thus “the firstborn of many brethren”) and never shows any need to distinguish this from being biological brothers of Jesus (a linguistically unlikely behavior, unless there was no distinction needing to be made–and thus only the spiritual kind of brother ever meant) and (b) contexts where Paul is distinguishing apostles from lower ranking Christians (the only contexts in which he ever uses his complete phrase “brother of the Lord”). Otherwise, Paul almost always uses “brother” fictively, and always because the referenced persons are the adopted sons of God (which entails they are brothers of the Lord, who, as Paul says, was likewise adopted as the son of God). And Paul only ever uses “Brother of the Lord” twice, without making any distinction from his usual practice.

This actually makes a biological meaning statistically unlikely. But at best can make it no more likely. So even at best it’s a wash. We cannot tell what kind of brother he means here. We therefore cannot use it to argue anything.

It would be wholly invalid to use other contexts for one’s base rate here (e.g. writers a hundred years after Paul, i.e. “the early Christian literature”). Whereas it is valid to use all the above contextual information in Paul.
…the brother of the apostle John (who, of course, had been executed in 44 CE)
This is based on relying on the chronology of Acts which is wildly inaccurate in light of the letters of Paul. It’s therefore a useless datum. And one need not interpret the pillar as the same James as the brother of John. Since the grammar of Paul in Galatians 1:19 entails the James there referenced is not an apostle, it cannot be the same James as in Galatians 2, who is a “pillar” and thus definitely an apostle (he is one of the apostles Paul is saying he never met until the second Jerusalem visit; as until then, he says, he only met one, Peter). So it doesn’t matter who that second James is. It’s not the first James regardless.

Neil Godfrey says: 2019-11-12 22:56:17 GMT+0000 at 22:56
If Carrier actually wanted to use actual numbers, fine. Just go through the early Christian literature and see how often the phrase is used for physical relatives on the one hand and believers on the other – and how often other formulations are used for both concepts!
Tim addressed this method in three posts — see especially the video on Part 1:
What’s the Difference Between Frequentism and Bayesianism? (Part 1)
What’s the Difference Between Frequentism and Bayesianism? (Part 2)
What’s the Difference Between Frequentism and Bayesianism? (Part 3)
— Frequentist and Bayesian analysis examine different things.
 
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Copernicus

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It is your analogy, because you alone introduced it in this thread, not some alleged group of Jesus mythers.
As an offhand joke that you've been banging on about for two pages now....

I couldn't have done it without you being there alongside me every step of the way. You seem passionate about defending your offhand jokes. ;)

It's just that the lack of corroborating evidence for Jesus outside of the literature is so scant that there is more reason to doubt his existence.
Unless you're rational, and understand that demanding extraordinary evidence to prove the existence of historical figures - as you more or less admit, more out of objection to their legacy than any of the facts at hand - is folly, an activity undeserving of the respect of any serious student of history. Why would we wxpect a back country preacher to generate more of a material record than the leader of a nation?

That's who you imagine he was? I thought he was just some drunk who desecrated the Temple by smashing up the local loan shark business they had going. If you start with the assumption that some real Jesus figure existed, you can come up with all sorts of explanations as to why we have no records of the man that the gospels all portrayed as a well-known miracle worker whom Pontius Pilate had crucified. The back country preacher somehow managed to spawn stories about himself far and wide, most of which seem to have been suppressed quite vigorously by the cult that decades later made him out to be a real guy. Then he became the central figure in the Roman Empire's state religion. Makes sense, doesn't it?

Or maybe there were just a lot of messianic cults giving Roman authorities grief, including the so-called Dying Messiah versions. And maybe there were a lot of preachers out there making a living off of spreading religious memes that would attract a following. Paul was clearly one of those, and he was engaged in a rivalry with erstwhile mentors for the business of selling a more gentile-friendly Jewish messiah doctrine to his congregations. He had never met Jesus nor had much to say about details of the life of Jesus, and he may have embellished some of what Cephas and others were preaching. Who knows whether there was ever a real Jesus? When we start speculating, we can come up with all sorts of scenarios that make the mythicist one plausible and consistent with what little evidence we have today of the origins of Christian mythology. You believe that there had to be an actual historical Jesus. I don't see the necessity, but I admit to not being an expert in early Christianity. It's just fun to speculate sometimes. When I taught linguistics at Barnard, I used to have loads of fun discussing the Gnostic gospels with Elaine Pagels at afternoon teas. She impressed me with how much I didn't know about early Christianity and how much of that history was suppressed by the orthodox juggernaut that came afterwards.
 

Copernicus

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Is it?
...wrong to dismiss such pieces of evidence with "Too confusing to plug into my Bayes software. Sorry."
You can analyze your own evidence for or against a historical Jesus claim using our Bayesian Calculator. All you have to know is how much more likely a piece of evidence is to support your claim, whichever position you choose.
This calculator can be used for other historical clams as well! You can use this tool to test the historicity of Julius Caesar or Abraham.
This is a valuable tool for anyone interested in historical research or general historical claims.

Comments per: Godfrey, Neil (12 May 2019). "The Questions We Permit Ourselves to Ask". Vridar.

Christoph Heilig says: 2019-05-14 21:28:08 GMT+0000 at 21:28
If Carrier actually wanted to use actual numbers, fine. Just go through the early Christian literature and see how often the phrase is used for physical relatives on the one hand and believers on the other – and how often other formulations are used for both concepts!

Richard Carrier says: November 11, 2019, 4:11 pm
If Carrier actually wanted to use actual numbers, fine. Just go through the early Christian literature and see how often the phrase is used for physical relatives on the one hand and believers on the other…
That’s not correct procedure. Context changes meaning. All language is contextual. How one author uses words differs from another, and how words get used in different periods of church history will differ, and the contexts words are used likewise confers different meanings.

So the base rate has to be discerned from like contexts: which I demonstrate are (a) a writer (Paul) who only ever mentions being brothers of Jesus in a spiritual sense (the baptized are the “adopted” sons of God and thus “the firstborn of many brethren”) and never shows any need to distinguish this from being biological brothers of Jesus (a linguistically unlikely behavior, unless there was no distinction needing to be made–and thus only the spiritual kind of brother ever meant) and (b) contexts where Paul is distinguishing apostles from lower ranking Christians (the only contexts in which he ever uses his complete phrase “brother of the Lord”). Otherwise, Paul almost always uses “brother” fictively, and always because the referenced persons are the adopted sons of God (which entails they are brothers of the Lord, who, as Paul says, was likewise adopted as the son of God). And Paul only ever uses “Brother of the Lord” twice, without making any distinction from his usual practice.

This actually makes a biological meaning statistically unlikely. But at best can make it no more likely. So even at best it’s a wash. We cannot tell what kind of brother he means here. We therefore cannot use it to argue anything.

It would be wholly invalid to use other contexts for one’s base rate here (e.g. writers a hundred years after Paul, i.e. “the early Christian literature”). Whereas it is valid to use all the above contextual information in Paul.
…the brother of the apostle John (who, of course, had been executed in 44 CE)
This is based on relying on the chronology of Acts which is wildly inaccurate in light of the letters of Paul. It’s therefore a useless datum. And one need not interpret the pillar as the same James as the brother of John. Since the grammar of Paul in Galatians 1:19 entails the James there referenced is not an apostle, it cannot be the same James as in Galatians 2, who is a “pillar” and thus definitely an apostle (he is one of the apostles Paul is saying he never met until the second Jerusalem visit; as until then, he says, he only met one, Peter). So it doesn’t matter who that second James is. It’s not the first James regardless.

Neil Godfrey says: 2019-11-12 22:56:17 GMT+0000 at 22:56
If Carrier actually wanted to use actual numbers, fine. Just go through the early Christian literature and see how often the phrase is used for physical relatives on the one hand and believers on the other – and how often other formulations are used for both concepts!
Tim addressed this method in three posts — see especially the video on Part 1:
What’s the Difference Between Frequentism and Bayesianism? (Part 1)
What’s the Difference Between Frequentism and Bayesianism? (Part 2)
What’s the Difference Between Frequentism and Bayesianism? (Part 3)
— Frequentist and Bayesian analysis examine different things.

One thing that bothers me about all of this discussion over frequencies of occurrence is that highly skewed historical record of the expressions that Paul and others actually used. We are looking at modern records of their writings, so we really don't know the frequency with which Paul talked about the "brother" of James. We only know the frequency off occurrence in surviving texts. I really wish that Carrier had steered clear of Bayesian analysis. I think that it was largely a distraction in the debate over historicity, and I much prefer what he wrote as a classicist and historian of the early Roman Empire.
 

dbz

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Bruce Grubb says: 2019-05-19 14:19:46 GMT+0000 at 14:19
One of my major beefs is the inconstancy with which the historical method is used. The best example of this is Sun Tzu. You can hold a translation of his work in your hands, he was written about by a professional historian who noted in his work “I have set down only what is certain, and in doubtful cases left a blank.”, and yet we are not even sure if Sun Tzu even existed.
More over c 180 Irenaeus’s Against Heresies gives conflicting information on when Jesus lived. In Book III, Chapter 21 Paragraph 3 he states “for our Lord was born about the forty-first year of the reign of Augustus” which would work out to 14 CE and yet earlier in that work (Book II, Chapter 22) when showing how Jesus had to be between the age of 46 and 50 when he was crucified cites Luke (which set Jesus between 26-34 c 28 CE) and John as proof and back this up in Demonstrations (74) which states “For Herod the king of the Jews and Pontius Pilate, the governor of Claudius Caesar, came together and condemned Him to be crucified.” With the exception of Pontius Pilate this would put the crucifixion 42-44 CE – well after Paul’s conversion (no later then 37 CE)
Yet despite all this Jesus gets effectively a free ride in the ‘he’s historical’ train.
A little further on we find how important it is for the historian to record no more than he knows to be absolutely true. Under Duke Huan, fifth year, we find two days recorded for the death date of Marquis Pao of Ch’en. “Why two death dates?” the Kung-yang asks itself and replies: “The Scholar [i.e., Confucius] was in doubt and so he recorded both days.” Tung Chung-shu, the most important exponent of the Kung-yang school in the early Han, remarks on this: “He copied down what he saw but did not speak about what was unclear.” In this connection we may notice a saying of Confucius recorded in the Analects (XV, 25): “The Master said, ‘Even in my early days a historiographer would leave a blank in his text.’ ” The passage, obscure as it is, has been interpreted to mean that the ancient historians were in the habit of leaving unrecorded anything they were in doubt about, but that this commendable practice was being violated in Confucius′ later years. —(p. 80)
 

dbz

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I just think the conspiracy theory is dumb as hell.

I assume the "Historical Jesus agnostic viewpoint " is not so characterized?

Per Raphael Lataster:
Carrier published his academic book in 2014[353] and I have published mine in 2019.[15] We are still waiting for a proper refutation of my case for agnosticism and his more ambitious case for outright mythicism. I suspect that this will never occur, because ‘at least agnosticism’ is very sensible.[354]
  • Question: When will an academic book—published by a respected biblical studies press—present a proper refutation of Carrier's On the Historicity of Jesus: Why We Might Have Reason for Doubt and also make a peer reviewed case for historicity?
  • Question: Do you concur that 'at least agnosticism' is very sensible?
For all the evidence anyone has ever adduced from the Epistles (once we exclude those known to be forged): it is ambiguous as to whether an earthly or celestial Jesus is being referred to. The Gospels I found wholly symbolically fictional and not even interested in actual history. And the Jesus in them I found to be so very like other mythical persons of the period. And then I found that no other evidence can be shown to be independent of the Gospels. At the very least, putting all of that together should make agnosticism about the historicity of Jesus a credible conclusion.
Richard Carrier[26]

The Historical Jesus agnostic viewpoint is given by Raphael Lataster, who writes:
I do not assert that Jesus did not exist. I am a Historical Jesus agnostic. That is, I am unconvinced by the case for the Historical Jesus, and find several reasons to be doubtful. To compare these terms to those often used when discussing the issue of God’s existence, the ‘historicist’ is the equivalent of the ‘theist’, and the ‘mythicist’ is the equivalent of the ‘strong atheist’ or ‘hard naturalist’. The oft-forgotten ‘Historical Jesus agnostic’ is the equivalent of, well, the ‘God agnostic’.
I'd like to throw one more term into the mix. Not all ‘atheists’ are ‘strong atheists. Some are simply ‘agnostics’. I would like to propose, then, that we use the term ‘ahistoricists’ to encompass both the ardent ‘mythicists’ and the less certain ‘agnostics’. This avoids the false dichotomy, which I think historicists (much like theists) have been taking advantage of. They often frame the debate as only being between the right and the wrong, the reasonable and righteous historicists versus the silly mythicists, ironically appearing as unnuanced and dogmatic fundamentalists in the process. (As with the common false dilemma, presented by apologists, of ‘the truth’ being found in ‘Christianity’ or in ‘strong atheism’.)[14]
 

Politesse

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Question: Do you concur that 'at least agnosticism' is very sensible?
It's silly to present Jesus as some sort of special case demanding a statement of faith or anti-faith on the basis of nearly absent evidence. We don't really know whether any historical figures existed, but I wouldn't normally call it "agnosticism" to acknowledge that, and definitely think it is silly to throw out one wild historical conspiracy theory after another to explain away the origins of Christianity - let alone making a career out of publishing books about them - while pretending to be "just asking questions" without being ideologically invested in the answer. We (and every other atheist forum back when there were many of them) don't have thread after thread questioning the existence of every historical figure. Just the one.
 

Swammerdami

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Is it?
...wrong to dismiss such pieces of evidence with "Too confusing to plug into my Bayes software. Sorry."
You can analyze your own evidence for or against a historical Jesus claim using our Bayesian Calculator. All you have to know is how much more likely a piece of evidence is to support your claim, whichever position you choose.
This calculator can be used for other historical clams as well! You can use this tool to test the historicity of Julius Caesar or Abraham.
This is a valuable tool for anyone interested in historical research or general historical claims.

I can't tell whether you're posting in support of my argument or against it. I will say that the existence of an App to estimate the chance of Jesus' historicity rather SUPPORTS my thesis.

I am not wholly unfamiliar with statistical treatments. Some of my patents are in the field of probability estimation.
 

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You believe that there had to be an actual historical Jesus.
Not true. I just think the conspiracy theory is dumb as hell.

You have imagined some kind of conspiracy theory and imputed it to mythicists. Mythicists are just those who believe that historicism is unproven and somewhat implausible. They don't even have to believe they can prove that Jesus did not exist historically, although that caricature makes it easier for folks who don't like mythicism and like to call it a dumb as hell conspiracy theory. Personally, I don't think either mythicism or historicism are dumb as hell.

As for religious conspiracies, there are plenty of examples that they do happen. Mormonism, which was founded by a convicted con artist, comes to mind. It's not as if religious charlatans are hard to find even in modern times. Of course, I'm not talking about Scientology. That's the only true religious movement that I know of. :rolleyes:
 

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Mythicists take no consideration of what kind of literature was possible within the Judaism of the time. They never attempt to correlate New Testament literature with any comparable Jewish literature, such as the Talmud. Mythicism is at root a continuation of the Christian practice of ignoring the Jewish nature of the New Testament.
 

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

I am not wholly unfamiliar with statistical treatments. Some of my patents are in the field of probability estimation.

Do you have any opinion on:
"Kamil Gregor on the Historicity of Jesus". Richard Carrier Blogs. 31 October 2019.
Gregor understands the math. So what he gets wrong about it, and about the facts and arguments in OHJ, might be informative to people who don’t understand the math.

Comment by dbz November 1, 2019, 12:07 am
OP: “Dependent evidence has zero value in Bayesian estimates of likelihood (OHJ, Ch. 7.1).”

Kamil Gregor if you intend to further argue that Josephus’ testimony and other non-Christian sources are independent of the Gospels (and Gospel-dependent Christian legends and informants). Please do that first and separately.
 

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I am not wholly unfamiliar with statistical treatments. Some of my patents are in the field of probability estimation.

Do you have any opinion on:

My opinion is that these three YouTubes have a total duration of more than Five Hours. I did watch the first half-minute of the first one: it reminded me more of talk-show radio than scholarly presentation.

Five Hours. With an F and an H. What's your opinion on that?
 

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

I am not wholly unfamiliar with statistical treatments. Some of my patents are in the field of probability estimation.

  1. Do you concur that dependent evidence has zero value in Bayesian estimates of likelihood (OHJ, Ch. 7.1).
  2. Do you concur that Josephus’ testimony and other non-Christian sources are NOT (demonstrably) independent of the Gospels (and Gospel-dependent Christian legends and informants).
 

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You believe that there had to be an actual historical Jesus.
Not true. I just think the conspiracy theory is dumb as hell.

You have imagined some kind of conspiracy theory and imputed it to mythicists. Mythicists are just those who believe that historicism is unproven and somewhat implausible. They don't even have to believe they can prove that Jesus did not exist historically...

A common objection is that “ahistoricists” or “mythicists” do not have an alternative explanation for Christian origins. However given Paul’s testimony that he hallucinated a Jesus constructed from the Jewish Scriptures, it only need be shown—as Narve Strand asserts—"that the historicist doesn’t have real evidence that would make his purely human Jesus existing more probable than not."[182][183]

Lataster writes:
This is similar to the agnosticism over God’s existence. Those agnostics do not need to have evidence that God does not exist. They just need to be unconvinced by the lack of good evidence for God’s existence. In other words, my case for Historical Jesus agnosticism does not need to rely on good alternative hypotheses, though it certainly can be strengthened by them.[184]
 

T.G.G. Moogly

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A common objection is that “ahistoricists” or “mythicists” do not have an alternative explanation for Christian origins.
What about Pegasus, Hercules, Little Green Men, Isis, Horus, etc.?
 

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A common objection is that “ahistoricists” or “mythicists” do not have an alternative explanation for Christian origins.
What about Pegasus, Hercules, Little Green Men, Isis, Horus, etc.?
Or The Three Amigos, or The Tortuga Twins, or The Count of Monte Cristo...
 

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  1. Do you concur that dependent evidence has zero value in Bayesian estimates of likelihood (OHJ, Ch. 7.1).
  2. Do you concur that Josephus’ testimony and other non-Christian sources are NOT (demonstrably) independent of the Gospels (and Gospel-dependent Christian legends and informants).
When it comes to the Josephus testimony about the historical Jesus , I find it a very convincing argument that both references to Jesus are either totally inserted as in Antiquities 18, and partially modified to point to a different Jesus as in the case of Antiquities 20.
 

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The agnostic position of "I don't have to present an alternative, I just have to demand proof" is reminiscent of the Sandy Hook truthers demanding that the coffins of the murdered children be opened. It is a know-nothing position that makes no demands of itself. Those who affirm the historicity of Jesus don't need to prove anything. Allow the agnostics to wallow in their unknowing. There are many advantages to be gained from simply going forth with one's conviction in the historicity of Jesus. As my mythicist father once said to me, "You have one big advantage over me: you believe that Jesus was a real person." It's time to dust off our sandals and leave the mythicists, agnostics and fence-sitters behind. Let us be know by our fruits.
 

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The agnostic position of "I don't have to present an alternative, I just have to demand proof" is reminiscent of the Sandy Hook truthers demanding that the coffins of the murdered children be opened. It is a know-nothing position that makes no demands of itself. Those who affirm the historicity of Jesus don't need to prove anything. Allow the agnostics to wallow in their unknowing. There are many advantages to be gained from simply going forth with one's conviction in the historicity of Jesus. As my mythicist father once said to me, "You have one big advantage over me: you believe that Jesus was a real person." It's time to dust off our sandals and leave the mythicists, agnostics and fence-sitters behind. Let us be know by our fruits.
Personally, I find it far more likely that in 100-120ce writer of Jewish origin who grew up with heroes like Jesus Chrestus and observing people whom they respected in youth despite their craziness such as Jesus Ananus sought to change the image of "crazy Jewish Jesus" stereotype with a portmanteau of two histories as best as they could construct along with a fair bit of refinement on the philosophy of such. Possibly, they cast Chrestus entirely as the portmanteau.

I expect they did not ever write his last name because, well, his followers did cause some riots that were rather ill looked upon, and a fire or two.

Jesus was a common enough name though, and there has been a couple of those crazies, so the story they were going to right could be ambiguous. Nobody's going to execute you for lyonizing a rebellious traitor if its about some fictional Jesus bin Yousef.

So they write about Jesus bin Yousef.

Everyone knows that it's about Jesus Crestus.

Paul knows it's about Jesus Chrestus.

The Sadducees know it's about Jesus Crestus.

But the followers don't say it, the same way some idiots on drug forums think saying "someone who is not me broke the law" means LEO won't get up in their shit.

People elevate Crestus.

Then it hits the Greek culture or a Greek adjacent region of the cult's following at that point and suddenly, they're calling him Christos instead. It's still close to Chrestus without saying it, and it adds another level of "oh, it's a messiah, not that Chrestus guy".

Their name was probably "Mark", they wrote themselves into the story like a lot of authors do, and then claimed they were the "Mark" of the story because maybe as regards Ananus, he was in some way associated with the person.

In fact... Hey @pood thoughts as a plot? A historical fictionalization of a historical fictionalization!
 

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This is a topic on which I'm completely ignorant — for example I was quite unaware of the Chrest/Christ controversy — so I am reading the thread with interest. I had read two 20th-century "biographies" of Jesus Christ, but they gave little or no attention to a mythicist perspective.

I do not know how many of you even understood the general argument I tried to make about Bayesian analysis applied to complicated controversies. Among those, if any, who understood my point, I don't know how many believed it. But I am not so masochistic to argue the general point further.

Let me ask some specific questions. These are yes/no questions and I'm hoping for yes/no answers rather than links to 2-hour YouTubes.

(1) Christians believe a prominent Christian named Simon Peter was crucified in 1st-century Rome. Do mythicists believe Peter was fictional?
(2) Christians believe a prominent Christian named Paul was executed about the time of Nero. Do mythicists believe Paul was fictional?
(3) After the deaths of Peter and Paul; Linus, Anacletus, Clement I and Evaristus all allegedly served as 1st-century Bishops of Rome. Do mythicists believe these four Bishops were fictional? John the Baptist: Was he also fictional?

(4) Google informs me that 'Jesus Chrest' means 'Jesus the Good' while 'Jesus Christ' means 'Jesus the Anointed.' Either name might be applied to a revered figure, and the same figure might be known by BOTH names. Indeed that the two words had identical(?) pronunciation would make the conflation of these two honorifics likely. What am I missing?

I admit to not understanding the mythicist position but it seems to involve the on-going doctoring of texts by Suetonius AND Josephus AND others. Does it also involve the invention of several fictional characters — Paul, Peter, Luke, Linus, etc. — and careful weaving of a story to make it conflatable with some other Jesus and/or some other Chrestus? If all these inventions and rewritings were going on, someone MIGHT have become aware that Jesus Christ and other parts of the myth were fictional; they MIGHT have written about that; and their writings MIGHT have been preserved. Even if their writings were not preserved they might have been disputed and records of those disputes MIGHT be detectable in early writings.

Notice I wrote MIGHT rather than WOULD for events whose probability is less than 100%. But these probabilities are greater than Zero. In fact, the "dog did NOT bark in the night" (to quote Sherlock Holmes) — (afaik) there is no evidence that anyone in the early centuries suspected Jesus to be fictional. Do you understand that this "non-barking dog" must be included in any Bayesian analysis?

[*]Do you concur that Josephus’ testimony and other non-Christian sources are NOT (demonstrably) independent of the Gospels (and Gospel-dependent Christian legends and informants).

I don't know if you meant "demonstrably not" rather than "not demonstrably." In either event, Bayesian analysis is about probabilities not about all-or-nothing criteria.
 

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Mythicism is nothing but the denial that Jesus was a historical figure, not that all of those other characters were fictional. Any, or all, of them could be. The credibility of their existence should depend on the type and amount of actual evidence we have for their existence. How do we justify belief in historicity of anyone? Poli had been arguing that one could argue a kind of equivalence between Julius Caesar and Jesus, if we just looked at textual evidence alone. I thought that that equivalence did not hold, but it's possible that we have no better evidence for some other figures than for Jesus--i.e. purely based on scripture and no other corroborating evidence. One thing I think that most or all of us agree on is that the figure we know of as Jesus Christ is heavily mythologized, whether or not there ever was an actual historical figure behind the mythology.
 

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Mythicism is nothing but the denial that Jesus was a historical figure, not that all of those other characters were fictional. Any, or all, of them could be. The credibility of their existence should depend on the type and amount of actual evidence we have for their existence.

I'm just trying to get a feel for the hoax hypothesis. For me to think O.J. Simpson was innocent I'd have wanted to hear an alternate-killer hypothesis. If Jesus of Nazareth was a hoax, how did the hoax construction play out?

From the perspective of mythicists was Simon Peter probably part of a fiction-writing cabal?
 

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This is a topic on which I'm completely ignorant — for example I was quite unaware of the Chrest/Christ controversy — so I am reading the thread with interest. I had read two 20th-century "biographies" of Jesus Christ, but they gave little or no attention to a mythicist perspective.

I do not know how many of you even understood the general argument I tried to make about Bayesian analysis applied to complicated controversies. Among those, if any, who understood my point, I don't know how many believed it. But I am not so masochistic to argue the general point further.

Let me ask some specific questions. These are yes/no questions and I'm hoping for yes/no answers rather than links to 2-hour YouTubes.

(1) Christians believe a prominent Christian named Simon Peter was crucified in 1st-century Rome. Do mythicists believe Peter was fictional?
(2) Christians believe a prominent Christian named Paul was executed about the time of Nero. Do mythicists believe Paul was fictional?
(3) After the deaths of Peter and Paul; Linus, Anacletus, Clement I and Evaristus all allegedly served as 1st-century Bishops of Rome. Do mythicists believe these four Bishops were fictional? John the Baptist: Was he also fictional?

(4) Google informs me that 'Jesus Chrest' means 'Jesus the Good' while 'Jesus Christ' means 'Jesus the Anointed.' Either name might be applied to a revered figure, and the same figure might be known by BOTH names. Indeed that the two words had identical(?) pronunciation would make the conflation of these two honorifics likely. What am I missing?

I admit to not understanding the mythicist position but it seems to involve the on-going doctoring of texts by Suetonius AND Josephus AND others. Does it also involve the invention of several fictional characters — Paul, Peter, Luke, Linus, etc. — and careful weaving of a story to make it conflatable with some other Jesus and/or some other Chrestus? If all these inventions and rewritings were going on, someone MIGHT have become aware that Jesus Christ and other parts of the myth were fictional; they MIGHT have written about that; and their writings MIGHT have been preserved. Even if their writings were not preserved they might have been disputed and records of those disputes MIGHT be detectable in early writings.

Notice I wrote MIGHT rather than WOULD for events whose probability is less than 100%. But these probabilities are greater than Zero. In fact, the "dog did NOT bark in the night" (to quote Sherlock Holmes) — (afaik) there is no evidence that anyone in the early centuries suspected Jesus to be fictional. Do you understand that this "non-barking dog" must be included in any Bayesian analysis?

[*]Do you concur that Josephus’ testimony and other non-Christian sources are NOT (demonstrably) independent of the Gospels (and Gospel-dependent Christian legends and informants).

I don't know if you meant "demonstrably not" rather than "not demonstrably." In either event, Bayesian analysis is about probabilities not about all-or-nothing criteria.
There might or might not have. However, it doesn't look like any of those other people have supernatural events linked with them, and no one ever told me that I must accept Paul as my lord and savior or burn in hell forever.

As for the 'rewriting'... there is fairly good evidence of writing of Josephus. For . Suetonius , things are taken out of context, and he certainly wasn't contemporary. Suetonius was born in 69 AD, with the bulk of his writing after about 100 ad. THe line that is waved as 'proof' of Jesus is 'Since the Jews constantly made disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus, he expelled them from Rome'. Now, that sounds like he is referring to someone named Chrestus that was in Rome at the time.
 

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I just skimmed through the first several pages of a 37 year-old book by Ian Wilson. (I'm not a fan of Mr. Wilson either, but let's not shoot the messenger and ignore his message.) I try to paraphrase his relevant claims fairly; blame him for any errors of fact.

Dating the Gospels. While these books were revised in the 2nd century or even later, they were based on earlier accounts. According to a Dr. John Robinson, The narrative would have been different at several points had the accounts been written AFTER the destruction of Jerusalem in the year 70.

Old manuscripts. Complaints that 1st-century documents have not turned up are not convincing. Papyrus documents decompose readily in all but very arid climates like Egypt's. Even parchment documents were often mistreated by the early Church. Sinaiticus, written on expensive vellum which required the skins of 360 young sheep and goats, was eventually sold to the British Museum for the record-setting price of £100,000 but was first found dumped at a monastery in a heap used for kindling. The mid-4th century Sinaiticus (which, for example, omits the final 11 verses of the Mark gospel) and its "sister" document Vaticanus "remain the oldest near complete texts of Old and New Testaments in existence." That these expensive vellums existed at all is attributed to rich patronage after the conversion of Constantine the Great.

Old Jewish writings refer to "Yeshu the Nazarene."

Josephus. In the mentions of Jesus, phrases like "wise man" and "paradoxical deeds" are phrases Josephus uses elsewhere. The 3rd-century Origen comments on the "James brother of Jesus" passage, so that alleged interpolation predates the date Wilson thinks mythicists rely on.

Another oddity, explicable most readily by being true, is the relationship between Jesus and prostitutes. Some claim his mother was a prostitute; the four women mentioned in Jesus' genealogy were all harlots.

Do any of these arguments PROVE Jesus was historical? Of course not! Can they be dismissed by someone pretending to estimate historicity by Bayesian analysis? Absolutely not.
 

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Mythicism is nothing but the denial that Jesus was a historical figure, not that all of those other characters were fictional. Any, or all, of them could be. The credibility of their existence should depend on the type and amount of actual evidence we have for their existence.

I'm just trying to get a feel for the hoax hypothesis. For me to think O.J. Simpson was innoceA nt I'd have wanted to hear an alternate-killer hypothesis. If Jesus of Nazareth was a hoax, how did the hoax construction play out?

From the perspective of mythicists was Simon Peter probably part of a fiction-writing cabal?

Why did there have to be a deliberate hoax? A process of  Chinese whispers can produce all sorts of distortions of a true story. So there can be many processes, including deliberate hoaxes, that can create a mythologized person. Joseph Smith created a deliberate hoax when he founded Mormonism, but I wonder if there ever was a real John Frum, who became a central founding figure of the Cargo Cult religion. Religious charlatans have been known to create hoaxes, so that seems a plausible scenario. In the end, it isn't really important whether there was some historical Jesus figure, but it is natural to be curious, given the impact of Christianity on human history.
 

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Mythicism stems from the complete opposite of curiosity. It is a refusal to engage with the text. What I long for is an atheism that is self-confident enough that it can engage freely with the text and extract from it all the benefits it has to offer. The current populism provides some hope in this regard. Disdain for authority and entrenched power finds its root in the rebel who called the leading lights of his day, “whited sepulchres, which outwardly appear to men beautiful, but within are full of dead men's bones, and of all filthiness.” In this light, mythicism is a tool of the entrenched powers to keep this incendiary text out of the hands of today’s rebels.
 

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Mythicism stems from the complete opposite of curiosity. It is a refusal to engage with the text. What I long for is an atheism that is self-confident enough that it can engage freely with the text and extract from it all the benefits it has to offer. The current populism provides some hope in this regard. Disdain for authority and entrenched power finds its root in the rebel who called the leading lights of his day, “whited sepulchres, which outwardly appear to men beautiful, but within are full of dead men's bones, and of all filthiness.” In this light, mythicism is a tool of the entrenched powers to keep this incendiary text out of the hands of today’s rebels.
Oh, always! There is no generation in which such statements are not suppressed. They are an implicit threat to the very instruments of suppression.
 

Copernicus

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Mythicism stems from the complete opposite of curiosity. It is a refusal to engage with the text. What I long for is an atheism that is self-confident enough that it can engage freely with the text and extract from it all the benefits it has to offer. The current populism provides some hope in this regard. Disdain for authority and entrenched power finds its root in the rebel who called the leading lights of his day, “whited sepulchres, which outwardly appear to men beautiful, but within are full of dead men's bones, and of all filthiness.” In this light, mythicism is a tool of the entrenched powers to keep this incendiary text out of the hands of today’s rebels.

The entire mythicist community does nothing other than engage with the text. You may disagree with their analyses, but that has nothing to do with entrenched powers, attempts at censorship, and the noble efforts of heroic defenders of the existence of Jesus being hounded and pursued for their efforts to resurrect the truth.
 

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The true believer dwells in a perpetual state of well being and bliss. That is what religious myths can do.

For the religious belver it is not about academic debate or facts, it is about feelings. Logical arguments are irrelevant.
 

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The entire mythicist community does nothing other than engage with the text.

The whole mythicist project is to disengage from the text by discounting it as derivative of [put your favourite alternative theory here]. Never does a mythicist consider the import of the text itself. Witness your own silence with regard to the whited sepulchres. The reason for this silence is that most mythicists in fact identify with the very powers that are under attack in the text: the scribes, priests and scholars. The scholastic class has been fighting an end-game battle against the text for millennia. At first, they co-opted it, making it a weapon they could use against the hoi-polloi. With mass literacy that little game came to an end. Now, all that is left is to chuck dust into everybody's eyes in the hope that somehow that will save the professors, priests, politicians and pundits from their day of reckoning.
 

Copernicus

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The entire mythicist community does nothing other than engage with the text.

The whole mythicist project is to disengage from the text by discounting it as derivative of [put your favourite alternative theory here]. Never does a mythicist consider the import of the text itself. Witness your own silence with regard to the whited sepulchres. The reason for this silence is that most mythicists in fact identify with the very powers that are under attack in the text: the scribes, priests and scholars. The scholastic class has been fighting an end-game battle against the text for millennia. At first, they co-opted it, making it a weapon they could use against the hoi-polloi. With mass literacy that little game came to an end. Now, all that is left is to chuck dust into everybody's eyes in the hope that somehow that will save the professors, priests, politicians and pundits from their day of reckoning.

I stayed silent about the "whited sepulchres" because I couldn't be less interested in them, nor did I feel any sense of identity with the scribes, priests and scholars that you referred to. I'll take my chances on my "day of reckoning". Thanks for the warning, but be assured I'll remember that you tried to save me from my self-delusion and rue my decision not to listen.

As I went on to say in the part that you snipped away:

"...You may disagree with their analyses, but that has nothing to with entrenched powers, attempts at censorship, and the noble efforts of heroic defenders of the existence of Jesus being hounded and pursued for their efforts to resurrect the truth."
 

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I stayed silent about the "whited sepulchres" because I couldn't be less interested in them

Q.E.D.

nor did I feel any sense of identity with the scribes, priests and scholars that you referred to.

And yet you seem to delight in regaling us with stories of teaching at Barnard and having tea with Elaine Pagels.🧐

I'll take my chances on my "day of reckoning". Thanks for the warning, but be assured I'll remember that you tried to save me from my self-delusion and rue my decision not to listen.

The idea is not to save you, but to ensure that those who are capable of salvation are not deprived of it by ill-intentioned blather. "All men take not this word, but they to whom it is given."

As I went on to say in the part that you snipped away:

"...You may disagree with their analyses, but that has nothing to with entrenched powers, attempts at censorship, and the noble efforts of heroic defenders of the existence of Jesus being hounded and pursued for their efforts to resurrect the truth."

That you repeat it makes no less disingenuous.
 

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It's interesting being accused by a kabbalist of 'not engaging the text'.

It's just not necessary for any of the text to be anything but a myth for it to contain valuable starting points for the understanding of the human condition, or a to develop a comprehensive understanding of the concept of 'god' as used in the text so as to enable various aspects of empathy and community support.

Even so, the phenomena that are discussed in various aspects of Kabbalah are at best approaching an ancient folk psychology, a map to the self that does not really touch on "beyond" so much as exploring some of the more enigmatic elements of "within" our own psychology, and the various subtle ways we communicate without knowing it.

And if you want to talk salvation, I've got some really bad news for you if you think being religious is a good idea...
 

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It's interesting being accused by a kabbalist of 'not engaging the text'.

Heh. That's actually a sick burn. Well done.

In my defence, I will just say that Kabbalah attempts to deal with the whole text. A Kabbalist cannot refuse to deal with a passsage simply by saying he isn't interested in it.

It's just not necessary for any of the text to be anything but a myth for it to contain valuable starting points for the understanding of the human condition, or a to develop a comprehensive understanding of the concept of 'god' as used in the text so as to enable various aspects of empathy and community support.

Fair enough. And perhaps there can be common ground with mythicists on the content of the text itself. Whited sepulchres, anyone?

Even so, the phenomena that are discussed in various aspects of Kabbalah are at best approaching an ancient folk psychology, a map to the self that does not really touch on "beyond" so much as exploring some of the more enigmatic elements of "within" our own psychology, and the various subtle ways we communicate without knowing it.

However, as that great Kabbalist Goethe notes:

Müsset im Naturbetrachten
Immer eins wie alles achten:
Nichts ist drinnen, nichts ist draußen;
Denn was innen, das ist außen.
So ergreifet ohne Säumnis
Heilig öffentlich Geheimnis.
You must, when contemplating nature,
Attend to this, in each and every feature:
There’s nought outside and nought within,
For she is inside out and outside in.
Thus will you grasp, with no delay,
The holy secret, clear as day.

And if you want to talk salvation, I've got some really bad news for you if you think being religious is a good idea...

I think I've made clear that salvation comes from rejecting the religious, the pedantic, the lordly, the scholastic.
 

Copernicus

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In my defence, I will just say that Kabbalah attempts to deal with the whole text. A Kabbalist cannot refuse to deal with a passsage simply by saying he isn't interested in it.

They must waste a lot of time. Anyway, what I said was that I had no interest in your "whited sepulchres", nor did I claim to even feel a sense of identity with Elaine Pagels. I just felt I learned a lot more about the early history of Christianity and it helped to drive my curiosity about the historicity issue, even though I don't think it is a question that will ever be resolved.
 

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They must waste a lot of time.

Actually, no. Kabbalah is an analytic method that allows rapid assessment of all components of the text. The underlying idea is that ethically one must be prepared to provide commentary on all components of the text.

Anyway, what I said was that I had no interest in your "whited sepulchres", nor did I claim to even feel a sense of identity with Elaine Pagels. I just felt I learned a lot more about the early history of Christianity and it helped to drive my curiosity about the historicity issue, even though I don't think it is a question that will ever be resolved.

The fact remains that, whether or not consciously held as such, mythicism is a reactionary doctrine. Fundamental social progress can only be accomplished on the basis of the New Testament.
 

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That's actually a sick burn.
I'm actually a wizard. I've read a bit on Kaballah.

It's interesting because to me, it represents the seeds of thought that for most will lead them down pointless rabbit holes of linguistic masturbation over a piece of near-worthless text and for very rare folks, the ideas in that text will plant a seed that leads to math, and game theory, and certain aspects of philosophy.

Oftentimes the linguistic wankery happens over the published works of those in whom there is such an awakening of sorts.

At any rate I focus on the real, material aspects of the art, in using what I recognize are neural/psychological tricks and processes to alter my behavior and perception strategically.

I can recognize well enough the constructs I learned about in my ML/AI/ANN courses back in college with different names and operated intuitively, and everything else from there is targeted at convincing someone that their neural landscape is external to themselves.

The fact is I've sat in the chair of something with exactly the relationship to something they created as those who lean on Kalam and belief do, the same one Pascal made wagers over the demands of the person sitting there.

My perspective? Yes you should respect the understanding, accomplishments, and good faith observations of your peers as being made in good faith, because we earned every bit of knowledge and understanding of the world that we got and it's an insult to each other and an abdication of responsibility to say it has been given.

Ask yourself what are the ethical requirements you would ask of something that wanted out of a simulation to live in "reality".
I expect that in the answers to that question are where you will find the expectations that are reasonable to live with as relates afterlife.

Mostly, they are the same requirements for "not being an asshole", plus "forgive rather than seek to annihilate ones creator for having created, should you find out they exist" and "be interested in there being more, even if it's just same shit (or possibly worse) in a different model of time and space."
 

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...The fact remains that, whether or not consciously held as such, mythicism is a reactionary doctrine. Fundamental social progress can only be accomplished on the basis of the New Testament.

I have no problem with your first statement, and I disagree quite strongly with your second, as the New Testament can be, and has been, used to support reactionary doctrines. Fundamental social progress is not guaranteed by religious texts, which ultimately depend on some form of divine command theory, itself a reactionary doctrine.
 

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I have no problem with your first statement, and I disagree quite strongly with your second, as the New Testament can be, and has been, used to support reactionary doctrines. Fundamental social progress is not guaranteed by religious texts, which ultimately depend on some form of divine command theory, itself a reactionary doctrine.

Priests, pedants and secular powers have devoted themselves to suppressing and distorting the revolutionary content of Bible literature. The demand for justice and freedom is grounded in this literature, and cannot be adequately pursued without it.
 

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I have no problem with your first statement, and I disagree quite strongly with your second, as the New Testament can be, and has been, used to support reactionary doctrines. Fundamental social progress is not guaranteed by religious texts, which ultimately depend on some form of divine command theory, itself a reactionary doctrine.

Priests, pedants and secular powers have devoted themselves to suppressing and distorting the revolutionary content of Bible literature. The demand for justice and freedom is grounded in this literature, and cannot be adequately pursued without it.
It's not suppression, or distortion, to demand folks support their claims with evidence, reason, and shared principles, even those claims that are written in fiction they like.

The demand for justice and freedom is stated in the literature but not grounded in it. The demand for such is grounded, if anything, in the mechanics of what we are and the game theory that best informs such, which can be, and should be, and is in the process of being derived from first principles and a fuckton of shown work, and at some point accepting shown work to the extent it has been defended and may be with logic.
 

Copernicus

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I have no problem with your first statement, and I disagree quite strongly with your second, as the New Testament can be, and has been, used to support reactionary doctrines. Fundamental social progress is not guaranteed by religious texts, which ultimately depend on some form of divine command theory, itself a reactionary doctrine.

Priests, pedants and secular powers have devoted themselves to suppressing and distorting the revolutionary content of Bible literature. The demand for justice and freedom is grounded in this literature, and cannot be adequately pursued without it.
It's not suppression, or distortion, to demand folks support their claims with evidence, reason, and shared principles, even those claims that are written in fiction they like.

The demand for justice and freedom is stated in the literature but not grounded in it. The demand for such is grounded, if anything, in the mechanics of what we are and the game theory that best informs such, which can be, and should be, and is in the process of being derived from first principles and a fuckton of shown work, and at some point accepting shown work to the extent it has been defended and may be with logic.

Although these are interesting issues, they take us far afield from the thread topic of Christ Myth theory. Nothing in the gospels really tells us whether there ever was a historical figure, although they have a bearing on the question of mythologization of that figure. The primary purpose of the gospels seems to have been more an exercise in shaping the myth than informing believers about the history behind it. They don't even agree on all the details of the Jesus story, and Paul's offhand remark about having met the "brother of Jesus" on his trips to Jerusalem seems to be the only concrete reference to a real historical person. Even that passage in Galatians is the subject of controversy.
 
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