The Instigator
zak61099
Con (against)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
Contradiction
Pro (for)
Winning
71 Points

Did Jesus exist?

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 5/18/2011 Category: Religion
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 2,042 times Debate No: 16578
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (4)
Votes (11)

 

zak61099

Con

Did Jesus exist? First round will be acceptance and we will argue if Jesus ever did exist. Good luck!
Contradiction

Pro

I accept. Good luck. :)
Debate Round No. 1
zak61099

Con

Thank you for accepting.

I am actually going to post a video instead of typing my entire beliefs.






Contradiction

Pro

The main thesis of the Zeitgeist movie is that the Biblical conception of Jesus has been heavily influenced by pagan religions. As such, Jesus was likely a mythical character. However, Zeitgeist is based on shoddy historical work, and its arguments have been almost universally rejected by the historical community. [1] In responding, I will focus on two elements: (1) the claims of Zeitgeist, and (2) the historical evidence for Jesus of Nazareth.

Zeitgeist Examined

If we should be looking for parallels, it would be better off suggesting a reversed dependencyin which the pagan mystery religions borrowed from Christianity. With the exception of Osiris, almost all of our information concerning these pagan mystery religions postdates Christianity. Hence we have good reason to conclude that if any borrowing did occur, it was in the opposite direction. Greg Boyd and Paul Eddy note:

Trying to explain a first-century religious movement by appealing to evidence for a “parallel” phenomenon a century or more later is questionable, to say the least. True, it is not unreasonable to assume that there were first-century precursors to the mystery cults of the second century and beyond. But this is an argument from silence, and in any case we are left with nothing conclusive about these precursor movements. Hence any argument that Christianity was influenced by, let alone modeled after, these precursors must be judged as unwarranted speculation grounded in anachronism. [2]

Parallelomania

The term "Parallelomania" was first coined by scholar Samuel Sandmel to refer to the desires of some scholars to find parallels where none exist. This is perhaps most applicable to the charge that the New Testament portait of Jesus Christ has been significantly influenced -- perhaps even copied -- from pagan religions. Attempts are made to read Christian terminology into pagan doctrines in order to concoct a parallel when in fact none exists.

There are a plethora of reasons to think that Christianity did not borrow from pagan mystery religions. As scholars Greg Boyd and Paul Eddy point out:

1. "The very category of ancient 'dying and rising god's has been called into question by most contemporary scholars. In short, when each of these myths is analyzed in detail, it turns out that either there is no actual death, no actual resurrection, or no actual 'god' in the first place!" [3]

2. "There is simply no evidence for a line of influence from pagan stories to the early Christians. Indeed, with the exception of Osirus, all the written accounts of these myths date after the birth of Christianity." [4]

So what about Osirus? It's argued that he had twelve disciples, was killed via crucifixion, and rose three days later. Unfortunately, this is very exaggerated. In the actual literature, Osirus was killed by his brother and his body chopped up into fourteen pieces and scattered throughout Egypt. Later, Isis "resurrected" him by reassemling these pieces. As Boyd and Eddy note, "To claim that his account parallels the Jesus story is, in our opinion, quite a stretch." Quite a stretch indeed! It's an instance of reading in biblical themes which simply aren't present. There was simply was absolutely no influence at all. [5]

3. "Scholars agree that ancient myths surrounding the ostensive death and resusictation of a god were associated with seasonal vegetation cycles. The Jesus story, however, could hardly be more different from this." [6] N. T. Wright, a leading New Testament scholar, agrees:

"[W]hen the Christians spoke of the resurrection of Jesus, they did not suppose it was something that happened each year, with the sowing of seed and harvesting of crops. When Paul preached in Athens, nobody said, 'Ah, yes, a new version of Osiris and such like.'" [7]

Echoing these sentiments, scholars J. Ed Komoszewski, M. James Sawyer, and Daniel B. Wallace point out a flaw in pagan parallel arguments.

The Dependency Fallacy

As KSW point out, simply because there may have been pagan parallels at the time of Christianity (Assuming for the sake of argument that there were!) does not mean that Christianity was influenced by them. They cite scholar Bruce Metzger, who writes: "The uniformity of human nature sometimes produces strikingly similar results in similar situations where there can be no suspicion of any historical bridge by which the tradition could have been mediated from one culture the other." [8]

Adding to Metzger's comments, KSW writes: "We might add that all religions, if they are to gain any converts, must appeal to universal human needs and desires. Should we be surprised, then, to discover parallels between Christianity and any other religion... No, but in such case, it can hardly be maintained that parallels indicate dependence."

The Historicity of Jesus

Habermas and Licona list more than 40 sources, Christian and non-Christian, which mention Jesus within 150 years of his life. These include Josephus, Tacitus, and Suetonius. Beacuse of limited space, I will just mention Josephus' Testimonium Flavianum in this round.
"Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man, for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews, and many of the Gentiles. He was the Christ; and when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him, for he appeared to them alive again the third day, as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him; and the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct to this day." [9]
Having watched Zeitgeist before, the movie responds to the Testimonium by claiming that it was forged. This claim has a claim of truth, but it overstates the extent to which the work was interpolated. Indeed, scholars have come to somewhat of a consensus that while the passages mentioning the deity of Jesus were later interpolations, the text as a whole is largely genuine. Evidence for this can be found in the Shlomo Pines manuscript, in which an uninterpolated version of the Testmonium can be found. Moreover, Josephus mentions Jesus twice: once in the Testimonium, and another in the "James passage," which Zeitgeist completely neglects to respond to.

Tacitus also mentions Jesus. In his Annals, he writes:

"Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus..." [10]

I'll elaborate on the authenticity of this passage in the next round. I now turn it over to my oppnent for his counterarguments.
__________

Footnotes

1. See Gregory Boyd and Paul Rhodes Eddy, The Jesus Legend (Baker Academic: 2007); Ben Witherington, What Have They Done With Jesus? (HarperCollins: 2006); Darrell L. Bock and Daniel B. Wallace, Dethroning Jesus (Thomas Nelson: 2007); J. Ed Komoszewski, M. James Sawyer, and Daniel B. Wallace, Reinventing Jesus (Kregel: 2006); Gary Habermas and Michael R. Licona, The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus (Kregel: 2004); Gary Habermas, The Historical Jesus (College Press); N. T. Wright, The Resurrection of the Son of God (Fortress: 2003)
2. Boyd and Eddy, The Jesus Legend, 140
3. Gregory Body and Paul Rhodes Eddy, Lord or Legend? (Baker 2007) 53
4. Ibid, 54
5. Ibid
6. N.T. Wright, The Resurrection of the Son of God (Fortress: 2003) 81
7. Bruce Metzger, "Methodology in the Study of the Mysterty Religions and Early Christianity" as cited in KSW,Reinventing Jesus (Kregel 2006)
8. KSW, Reinventing Jesus, 228
9. Josephus, Antiquities 18.3.3
10. Tacitus, Annals 15.44


Debate Round No. 2
zak61099

Con

Im am terribly sorry, but I must forfit this debate as I am getting way too busy. Again, I am VERY sorry!!!
Contradiction

Pro

My opponent has forfeited. Vote Pro.

Arguments extended.
Debate Round No. 3
zak61099

Con

zak61099 forfeited this round.
Contradiction

Pro

Arguments extended.
Debate Round No. 4
zak61099

Con

zak61099 forfeited this round.
Contradiction

Pro

Arguments extended.
Debate Round No. 5
4 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Posted by Man-is-good 5 years ago
Man-is-good
Wow, CON. You did an ever worse job than me. Note that the image of Jesus Christ was not influenced by pagan beliefs, rather the practices and symbols of the church are to some degree are. The existence of Jesus Christ has already been attested in the Gospels.
Nor is it the fact that Christianity is completely different, based in historical matters and theology, from paganism. Please, CON try to learn from my mistakes. I myself believe that Jesus Christ was not influenced by paganism...
Posted by lucyalice1989 5 years ago
lucyalice1989
Existed! but exaggerated, don't think he had powers just think he was a everyday joe bloggs who had lots of people who loved him followed him. Probably a generous guy!.. (I have been christened) and bought up catholic, but this is my own belief!.. It makes sense right? :)
Posted by Contradiction 5 years ago
Contradiction
Looks like I'm just going to recycle some arguments.
Posted by quarterexchange 5 years ago
quarterexchange
Pro automatically won.

Refering entirely to videos rather than making a case yourself is ridiculous.

Otherwise one would simply have to post videos of intellectuals such as Noam Chomsky, Milton Friedman, Bertrand Russel, etc, and have those various figures argue for you.
11 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Vote Placed by lannan13 2 years ago
lannan13
zak61099ContradictionTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Forfeiture
Vote Placed by Zarroette 2 years ago
Zarroette
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Reasons for voting decision: Con forfeits.
Vote Placed by 16kadams 5 years ago
16kadams
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Reasons for voting decision: does he exist yes? Is he the son of god...that is what the question is. Also FF.
Vote Placed by vmpire321 5 years ago
vmpire321
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Reasons for voting decision: FF
Vote Placed by Maikuru 5 years ago
Maikuru
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Reasons for voting decision: Forfeits
Vote Placed by Mr.Infidel 5 years ago
Mr.Infidel
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Reasons for voting decision: Forfeit. Unfortunately for pro, the Josephus antiquities is forged. Great debate for contradiction!
Vote Placed by jewgirl 5 years ago
jewgirl
zak61099ContradictionTied
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Reasons for voting decision: F. BTW This only proves he existed but not that he is god son of god or source of salvation or worthy of praying to. But that wasent the subject of the debate.
Vote Placed by Dimmitri.C 5 years ago
Dimmitri.C
zak61099ContradictionTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Pro won as a result of his argumentation. Con lost as a result of his forfeiture.
Vote Placed by SkepticsAskHere 5 years ago
SkepticsAskHere
zak61099ContradictionTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Evidence of existence plus forfeit = win for Pro
Vote Placed by quarterexchange 5 years ago
quarterexchange
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Reasons for voting decision: This was pretty close