The Instigator
daley
Pro (for)
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12 Points
The Contender
mcc1789
Con (against)
Losing
0 Points

Jesus Existed as a Historical Person who Started the Christian Movement

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 4/17/2011 Category: Religion
Updated: 6 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 1,407 times Debate No: 15927
Debate Rounds (5)
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daley

Pro

"But not all the relief that could come from man, not all the bounties that the prince could bestow, nor all the atonements which could be presented to the gods, availed to relieve Nero from the infamy of being believed to have ordered the conflagration, the fire of Rome. Hence to suppress the rumor, he falsely charged with the guilt, and punished Christians, who were hated for their enormities. Christus, the founder of the name, was put to death by Pontius Pilate, procurator of Judea in the reign of Tiberius: but the pernicious superstition, repressed for a time broke out again, not only through Judea, where the mischief originated, but through the city of Rome also, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their center and become popular. Accordingly, an arrest was first made of all who pleaded guilty; then, upon their information, an immense multitude was convicted, not so much of the crime of firing the city, as of hatred against mankind." Tacitus Annals 15:44 (writing soon after 100 C.E.)

First century Jewish historian Josephus also mentions James, the half brother of Jesus, who, the Bible tells us, did not initially follow Jesus but later became a prominent elder in Jerusalem. (John 7:3-5; Galatians 1:18,�19) He documents James' arrest in these words: "[The high priest Ananus] convened the judges of the Sanhedrin and brought before them a man named James, the brother of Jesus who was called the Christ, and certain others." ( Jewish Antiquities, Book�XX. 200, pp.�495, 497).In writing these words, Josephus additionally confirms that "Jesus, who was called the Christ" was a real, historical person.

Antiquities 18.3.3 "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 among 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 at this day."

The Gospels include eyewitness testimony, and contemporay testimony of those who knew the eyewitness. Luke 1:1-5; John 20:21; 1 John 1:1-5; 1 Corinthians 15:6.

In this connection, Professor F.�F.�Bruce makes a keen observation: "It can have been by no means so easy as some writers seem to think to invent words and deeds of Jesus in those early years, when so many of His disciples were about, who could remember what had and had not happened. .�.�. The disciples could not afford to risk inaccuracies (not to speak of willful manipulation of the facts), which would at once be exposed by those who would be only too glad to do so. On the contrary, one of the strong points in the original apostolic preaching is the confident appeal to the knowledge of the hearers; they not only said, ‘We are witnesses of these things,' but also, ‘As you yourselves also know' (Acts 2:22)." (Where Is History Going? by John Warwick Montgomery, 1969, p.�51.)

Why couldn't the disciples have made up the whole story?

(1) The historical fact that no one, weak or strong, saint or sinner, Christian or heretic, ever confessed, freely or under pressure, bribe or even torture, that the whole story of the resurrection was a fake a lie, a deliberate deception. Even when people broke under torture, denied Christ and worshiped Caesar, they never let that cat out of the bag, never revealed that the resurrection was their conspiracy. For that cat was never in that bag. No Christians believed the resurrection was a conspiracy; if they had, they wouldn't have become Christians.

(2) The disciples could not have gotten away with proclaiming the resurrection in Jerusalem -- same time, same place, full of eyewitnesses -- if it had been a lie. William Lane Craig says,

"The Gospels were written in such a temporal and geographical proximity to the events they record that it would have been almost impossible to fabricate events....The fact that the disciples were able to proclaim the resurrection in Jerusalem in the face of their enemies a few weeks after the crucifixion shows that what they proclaimed was true, for they could never have proclaimed the resurrection (and been believed) under such circumstances had it not occurred." (Knowing the Truth About the Resurrection, chapter 6)

(3) A little detail, seldom noticed, is significant in distinguishing the Gospels from myth: the first witnesses of the resurrection were women. In first-century Judaism, women had low social status and no legal right to serve as witnesses. If the empty tomb were an invented legend, its inventors surely would not have had it discovered by women, whose testimony was considered worthless. If, on the other hand, the writers were simply reporting what they saw, they would have to tell the truth, however socially and legally inconvenient.

(4) The New Testament could not be myth misinterpreted and confused with fact because it specifically distinguishes the two and repudiates the mythic interpretation (2 Peter 1:16).

Critics claim no one knows who wrote the Gospels, but, the extra-biblical testimony unanimously attributes the Gospels to their traditional authors: the Epistle of Barnabas, the Epistle of Clement, the Shepherd of Hermes, Theophilus, Hippolytus, Origen, Puadratus, Irenaeus, Melito, Polycarp, Justin Martyr, Dionysius, Tertullian, Cyprian, Tatian, Caius, Athanasius, Cyril, up to Eusebius in A.D. 315, even Christianity's opponents conceded this: Celsus, Porphyry, Emperor Julian.

Anonymous works often get caught up by competing authorship; one needs to explain how come there is such unanimous agreement in the first few centuries on who wrote the Gospels if the authors are unknown. Further, there are no manuscripts extant which omit the names of the authors of those Gospels which contain author names today. Were there to be found a copy of John's gospel with a full copy of the first page which omits the author's name, and this was dated earlier than those mss which contin the author's name, this would prove it was originally an anonymous work; but since no such Gospel has been found, we must attribute the works to their traditional authors.

There is lot's more evidence, and I have read the objections presented at jesusneverexisted.org as well as other jesusmyth sites, but there are good reasons why none of these objections work. I'll wait and see which ones you will choose.

One question I want to ask my opponent. What is the minimum proof you would require for the existence of a person? And does Jesus pass this test? If not, why not?
mcc1789

Con

Thank you daley for this challenge. It should be an interesting debate and I hope we are both enlightened by it.

The term "Christian" was not known in Tacitus' time (55-117 BC) when the religion was just new-born. They were a sect of Judaism at this point and so were swept up in the attacks on Jews which followed the Great Fire of Rome in 64 BC for which they were spuriously blamed. The passage was not quoted for centuries by Christian scribes before its appearance almost word-for word in the writings of Sulpicius Severus in the early 5th century, at which point the Emperor Constantine had decreed Christianity the state religion a century before. Severus was known for his antique manner of writing, using it to write fantastical stories involving miraculous events.

The Jamesian reference in Book 20, the Antiquities of the Jews is made in passing, during a discussion of machinations over the high priesthood. In some versions, the "so-called" Christ is used instead. It continues in the same paragraph: "... Albinus complied with what they said, and wrote in anger to Ananus, and threatened that he would bring him to punishment for what he had done; on which king Agrippa took the high priesthood from him, when he had ruled but three months, and made Jesus, the son of Damneus, high priest." Here we have Josephus describing Albinus, the Roman prefect, being angered by the Sandhedrin ordering James put to death without approval from him. He threatens Ananus with punishment, which he receives by being removed as high priest. Then "Jesus son of Damneus," a previous high priest, is appointed to the post. Given this context, it seems clear that James is brother of this Jesus, not the other and reference to Christ was likely put in later by a Christian editor.

Not one of the famous Christian writers before the 4th century, neither Justin, Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, Cyprian, Arnobius, ever quote the Josephus passage that confirmed the entire belief system. Origen for instance debated with the pagan Celsus for an incredible span, citing many proofs and witnesses in his case, including quoting Josephus at length. Yet no where does the golden proof from Josephus paragraph appear. The paragraph is not found in early editions of Josephus' Antiquities of the Jews, among them Origen's own 3rd Century edition which he quotes from. Moreover, for a writer who seemingly confirms the belief in Jesus as divine, not merely his existence, Josephus remained an Orthodox Jew, i.e. rejecting Jesus as the Messiah, let alone god, which he would have viewed as blasphemy. Furthermore, if for some reason this belief was truly held by Josephus, it seems odd he would confine it to just one paragraph in his writings, a reference in Pilate's story at that. Josephus actually wrote far more about John the Baptist than Jesus, along with other self-described messiahs and their doings. Around 53 BC Josephus investigated Jewish sects. Acts 9:31 claims this as a time of an explosion in Christian faith throughout Judea, and Acts 15:12 cites it as the period in which the famous Council of Jerusalem was held, where Paul supposedly recalled miracles in support of their belief. Josephus knew none of these events, despite being alive and writing about Jewish affairs then.

The Gospels are "claimed" to present eyewitness and contemporary testimony of those who knew the eyewitnesses. That claim is under debate.

If the claims were so convincing, indeed well-known, seen by hundreds of eyewitnesses, one would think far more of the Jews would be converted. Yet the Christian accounts say the opposite. The early Christians were persecuted by Jews as heretics for years, with the majority never accepting Christ, despite hundreds supposedly seeing the miracles.

1) The historical "fact" that no Christian broke and confessed it was a lie, while hard to show, is not a good argument. First of all, if they did not witness the events, there was no knowledge to confess. Second, if assumes conspiracy had to occur. I contend the Christians in those days did not believe the resurrection happened physically on earth, so again nothing to confess. In any case, believers of all faiths have died rather than "confess their lies." It's not a lie to you in such cases.

2) One would expect to find far more accounts, not only of Jesus resurrection but the rising of corpses (Gospel of Matthew) by both believers and skeptics. Josephus, who is cited as proof of the historical Jesus, makes no mention of them, nor do any other contemporary accounts. The difficulty in fabrication suggests they were not then fabricated at all. If they were true, it would be known by hundreds if not thousands at the time as I said. Yet this is not the case.

3) Which Gospel is cited here? Each of them offers different witnesses of the resurrection, along with other events. If this event were so known, including 500 witnesses supposedly witnessing Jesus resurrected in Jesus, it seems far more accounts would be available.

4) Using the New Testament to prove itself is not a good argument, especially when it disagrees with itself, as shown above in my examples. The question has to be asked of how the people cited (many living hundreds of years later) knew who wrote the Gospels either. The fact that the same names were placed on the Gospels consistently does not in any way prove their accounts by itself. Furthermore, we have the numerous apocryphal and Gnostic Gospels. Within themselves, the Gospels do not identify the authors by name. The names were possibly added on later, then copied as such. We do not know. In any case, they have been dated to generations after Jesus. The miraculous events claimed would seem likely to inspire far more eyewitness accounts at the time they occurred.

The minimum amount of proof is difficult. A person living two thousand years ago let alone in one small corner of the world is hard to prove, especially compared to say Roman Emperors. Even Pontius Pilate is well accounted for. In addition, we are not just seeking to prove that a man called Jesus existed, who founded Christianity but also many supernatural claims of him. I do not claim we can be certain no man named Jesus who started a sect that grew into Christianity never existed. Instead, the claim is that reasonable doubt exists, certainly of supernatural claims about him. For all the reasons cited, I claim there is such doubt.
Debate Round No. 1
daley

Pro

I'll reply to as many of these objections as I can before running out of space.

"The term "Christian" was not known in Tacitus' time (55-117 BC)"

It was known by 1st cent Romans historian Suetonius (The Lives of the Caesars, Nero, XVI, 2), Josephus, (Jewish Antiquities, XVIII, 64 [iii, 3]), Pliny the Younger, governor of Bithynia in 111 or 112 C.E., and Emperor Trajan. (The Letters of Pliny, X, XCVI, 3, 5; XCVII, 1) So we have testimony from Pliny, Trajan, Tacitus and Josephus that the term Christian was known in that time. Christians themselves accepted the name, see 1 Pet 4:16 (62-64 CE) and Acts 11:26 (61 CE).

"The passage was not quoted for centuries by Christian scribes before… the early 5th century,"

Due to the condescending nature of Tacitus' testimony, early Christian authors most likely would not have quoted such a source (assuming Tacitus' writings were even available to them). Nothing in Tacitus' statement mentions anything that was not already common knowledge among Christians. It simply provides evidence of Jesus' existence (a topic not debated at this point in history) and not his divinity.

"Then "Jesus son of Damneus," a previous high priest, is appointed to the post. Given this context, it seems clear that James is brother of this Jesus, not the other and reference to Christ was likely put in later by a Christian editor."

First, there is no textual evidence against this passage. It is found in every copy of the Antiquities we have. Some will assert as a counter that there was still sufficient time for an interpolation to occur and not enough textual evidence to prove that it didn't, but this amounts to an admission that the textual data, as it stands, favors authenticity. Anything beyond that in these terms is speculation and question-begging. Second, there is a specific use of non-Christian terminology: The designation of James as the "brother of Jesus" contrasts with Christian practice of referring to him as the "brother of the Lord" or "brother of the Savior." (as in Gal. 1:19 in the NT and Eusebius in later history). Third, the emphasis of the passage is not on Jesus or even James, but on Ananus the high priest and the turbulence he caused. There is no praise for James or Jesus. This is not what we would expect if this were an interpolation. Fourth, Josephus' account of James being stoned is different from the account given by the church historian Hegesippus, who has James being thrown from the roof of the Temple. This would be an unlikely move for an interpolator. Certainly the son of Damneus was not called Christ, therefore, it more likely refers to Jesus.

"Not one of the famous Christian writers before the 4th century… quote the Josephus passage that confirmed the entire belief system."

Roger Pearse has compiled all the references to Josephus made by the early church fathers (Pearse, Josephus and Anti-Nicene Fathers, 2001), and there are very few, only a dozen or so before Eusebius, showing that Josephus was not well known on or often used by the early church fathers. There was no need to look to this Jew to prove the existence of Jesus because his existence was not being challenged at the time [not until the 4th century], and Josephus was not adding anything new that was not already available in the Gospels. Josephus' unbelief in Christian doctrines like the trinity would label him as an unbeliever; his unbelief would not promote his work as being of great apologetic value to Christians living then.

Origen and Celsus never debated the existence of Jesus, so the text was unnecessary. Con sees Origen's lack of quoting this Josephus passage about Jesus as evidence that he didn't exist, yet he doesn't see all of Origen's references to Jesus as proof of his existence. (Double standard?) If lack of mention means non-existence, then Jesus' mention from that same source would imply his existence. In fact, even the same Celsus didn't doubt Jesus was a real person, he admitted Jesus' miraculous powers, that he claimed to be a God, and even tried to explain away the virgin birth. (Origen, Contra Celsus, XXVIII)

Origen doesn't quote Josephus extensively; actually, he only quotes him 4 times! (Pearse) I challenge Con to reference me more than 4 quotes! It is also not true that the paragraph is not found in early editions of Josephus' Antiquities including Origen's own 3rd Century edition. This passage isn't missing from ANY copy of Josephus; just another one of Humphrey's unsupported claims. I challenge Con to name and quote for us one copy of Josephus that doesn't contain these words.

"Josephus remained an Orthodox Jew, i.e. rejecting Jesus as the Messiah, let alone god, which he would have viewed as blasphemy."

I was a Jehovah's Witness for many years and I can tell you from experience that many members of the Catholic, Anglican, SDA, and other churches entertain JW beliefs contrary to what their church teaches and yet are still members of their church. I'm no longer a JW; my point is that we cannot assume Josephus could not have his own concept of Jesus as Messiah. Doesn't have to agree with the Christian concept in all respects. Is there a passage where he says Jesus was NOT the Christ? If not, we cannot assume what the man believed. People believe all kinds of things, even contradictory things. Messianic Jews believe in Jesus as Messiah, so did Paul. This isn't irregular.

"Josephus, it seems odd he would confine it to just one paragraph"

Millions of people living today believe Jesus is the Christ and they do very little by way of preaching it, or writing about it. We live in a world of hypocrisy where many don't practice what they preach or are unwilling to stand up for what they believe. Con presumes motives for Josephus that he should have knowledge of BEFORE tendering this as an objection. What it is specifically about Josephus that would make him want to write more about Jesus?

For the entire period of 10 years around which Jesus died, Josephus devotes only one small page in his War, and six pages in the Antiquities. Therefore, it is actually quite significant that Josephus devotes any attention to Jesus at all, cramming 10 years in 7 pages. There is a sound contextual reason for this brief mention of Jesus, adduced by Byrskog in Story as History [62]. He writes: "For Josephus, as for Thucydides and Polybius, contemporary history has a methodological basis in the possibility of personal experience. He wishes for that reason to write in detail only about contemporaneous matters. (Bell. 1:18)" For many historians of the ancient world, the ability to write authoritatively was directly related to how close you were to matters at hand. Since Josephus was not a contemporary of Jesus or his ministry, his methods were such that he naturally would write less about people like Jesus or John the Baptist, and only what could be corroborated by inquiry in his own day, writing in the 90s AD.

"Josephus actually wrote far more about John the Baptist than Jesus."

Josephus devotes 228 words to Judas and only 222 to John; so what? Does this mean he favors Judas more than John? I think not! Similar for Jesus.

"If the claims were so convincing"

They weren't, not to most people. If atheists claims are so factual then why do most people believe in God when Science presents so much evidence against religion? Just because something might be true doesn't mean it will get majority vote. The teachings of Jesus weren't easy to follow either. (John 6:53-66)

"1) I contend the Christians in those days did not believe the resurrection happened physically on earth, so again nothing to confess."

Con provides no evidence for this claim like most of his other claims. His claim is contradicted by John 2:19-22; 20:24-29; Luke 24:36-43; 1 Cor 15:3-7 and Tim 2:5. Physical resurrection of Jesus was held by Ignatius (50−115),] Polycarp (69−155), and Justin Martyr (100−165) I'm out of space; more later.
mcc1789

Con

daley, thank you for your quick response.

The term "Christian" was not known in Tacitus' time

A mistake on my part: it should have been that the term was not well known in Nero's reign (54-68 AD). It was only in the last third of the 1st century Christianity became a religion known separate from Judaism. As Tacitus lived to 117 AD, he may known of the term in his lifetime. This does not change the fact of course that his passage does not appear until much later in the form of mentioning "Christian." St. Paul himself does not make use of "Christian" in any of his writings. It is doubtful that when the Great of Rome occurred (64 AD) it would have been known outside Christian circles. In any case, the Gospel of Peter has been dated to the mid-2nd century. The Acts of the Apostles has been dated to 62-64 AD and mentions neither Paul's death nor the destruction of Jerusalem, making it more likely to have been written then. The passage quoted is: So it was that for an entire year they met with and taught a great many people, and it was called in Antioch that the disciples were first called "Christians." (Acts 11:26, NRSV)

Suetonius does not mention a "Jesus of Nazareth" in any of his writings, and his "Chrestus" reference dates to 112 AD. Moreover, "Chrestus" is not Christ, as English suggests, but "The Good" in Greek. The full reference in Twelve Caesars is, (referring to Emperor Claudius who preceded Nero): "As the Jews were making constant disturbances at the instigation of one Chrestus, he expelled them from Rome." This was said to occur in 54 AD, a full decade before the Fire. Chrestus was a common name used by both freemen and slaves, attested to more than 80 times in Latin inscriptions. In any case the passage makes clear that this "Chrestus" was a living man, instead of someone who departed. This report is questionable itself, as Cassius Dio gives a better account without a confusing "Chrestus" reference: "As for the Jews, who had again increased so greatly that by reason of their multitude it would have been hard without raising a tumult to bar them from the city, he did not drive them out, but ordered them, while continuing their traditional mode of life, not to hold meetings." – Roman History, 60.6.

I have already discussed Josephus' reference at length and so will not go over it again.

Pliny the Younger made his first alleged reference to Christians in 112 AD, long after the date in contention, and even this letter is suspect, as it appeared with Book Ten, released anonymously after his death unlike the others. Pliny had an uncle who served high in the Roman military under Nero, and would have been aware of any Christian persecutions but they go unmentioned. Later Pliny served on the Imperial staff in Syria, a hotbed of Christian activities we are told, yet they also remain absent from his recollections.

Tacitus' reference is not supportive of Christians, no, but it does match their belief. It would seem more credible that opponents be quoted, showing that even "they" agreed it happened, making lack of this reference for many centuries suspicious (and you have certainly mentioned pagans who did so). Yet, it was common belief among Christians, but they were seeking to convince others too, and this would have been helpful. In order that Jesus be both man and divine, certainly he had to exist on earth in the first place. The reference was of use to showing that.

1) Let me reprint the Jamesian reference to clarify: "... when, therefore, Ananus was of this disposition, he thought he had now a proper opportunity. Festus was dead, and Albinus was but upon the road; so he assembled the Sanhedrin of judges and brought before them the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James, and some others; and when he had formed an accusation against them as breakers of the law, he delivered them to be stoned."
Speculation is unavoidable here.
2) Now, this "non-Christian terminology" would be easy to understand if the words "who was called Christ" had been inserted after the word "Jesus." I agree the emphasis is not on either Jesus or James, but on Ananus, which makes a passing reference strange at best.

3) "There is no praise for James or Jesus. This is not what we would expect if this were an interpolation." Tacitus does not praise Jesus, yet that is not an interpolation?

4) Perhaps it was written before Hegesippus did? I do not know when his reference to James' death was written. "This is not what we would expose if this were an interpolation." Yet the earlier Josephus reference "does" give praise to Jesus, yet this is "not" an interpolation? We seem to be on "head's I win, tails you lose" here.

The Josephus reference only says Jesus' existed but performed miracles, and this would be useful for all of the Church Fathers to reference, yet they do not. Upon further research, I have found the Church Fathers were not familiar with Antiquities in the main (this debate is certainly helping me to learn more about this period of history, so kudos). I thus concede their lack of reference is not proof. I still contend the passages on Christ is an interpolation though.

Yes, Origen and Celsus did not debate his existence (Celsus acceptance of Christ claims at face-value was very foolish and put him in a weak position) but as I said above, it would still be useful. Would would think a passage dated near to the era in which Jesus supposedly lived would be referenced more. For double standards, see interpolations. Sadly, we only have Medieval copies from Josephus' Antiquities, as is common in ancient texts. By then, any interpolation long since would have been faithfully copied down.

Origen, in his Commentary on Matthew, himself says "Josephus did not accept Jesus as the Christ" yet Josephus is supposed to have written "he was the Christ." One or the other must be wrong. True, if Origen had not read the Antiquities he might not be aware of the reference, but had this been written before, it would have at least made some think Josephus was Christian. Yet Josephus was thought to disbelieve that Jesus was Christ. Yes, Josephus could have kept the belief to himself-but not, however, by writing it in a published work. This indicates he did not, in fact, write any such thing. There is no passage besides this or the Jamesian reference that he mentions them at all.

"What it is specifically about Josephus that would make him want to write more about Jesus?"
It was out of character for Josephus not to write more, believing or not. Your mention of John the Baptist is a case in point, as in fact Josephus wrote much more extensively on him along with other figures that would seem to be minor in comparison with Jesus.

"If atheists claims are so factual then why do most people believe in God when Science presents so much evidence against religion?"
Now that could be a whole debate itself :)

"Just because something might be true doesn't mean it will get majority vote."
Certainly popularity is no evidence by the fact alone.

1) I contend the Christians in those days did not believe the resurrection happened physically on earth, so again nothing to confess."

"Con provides no evidence for this claim like most of his other claims."

My apologies for not providing evidence before, in contrast with the other claims-where I have. Like you, I was out of space. I will not have enough room here to fully get into early Christian belief. Would you like to use the next round in finishing up your replies and I could expand on early Christian belief there? (You were right to make this five rounds).
Debate Round No. 2
daley

Pro

Response to Con's rebuttal from round 1 con't:

"believers of all faiths have died rather than "confess their lies."

Not for an event they made up. If the apostles had invented Jesus they wouldn't be willing to die and be persecuted for this lie. Early Christians most assuredly would have been in a position to know whether Jesus actually existed or not. Just as much as we living in modern times, ancient people kept records, wrote things down, and tracked information faithfully. In Nero's time eyewitness of Christ would still be alive. Not even their enemies claimed Jesus was a myth.

"Josephus... makes no mention of them [Jerusalem Council in Acts and explosion of Christianity], nor do any other contemporary accounts."

McDowell observes how some scholars assumed that Luke's use of the word 'politarchs' (17:6), as a title for civil authorities in Thessalonica was thought to be an inaccurate description since the word was not known to exist in classical literature. However, more recent discoveries have shown Luke to be perfectly accurate in his use of this word, since some nineteen inscriptions were discovered that make use of the title, five of which are used in specific reference to Thessalonica. (J. McDowell, Christianity: A Ready Defence (San Bernardino: Here's Life Publishers Inc., 1991), 111; Ibid) It may just be a matter of time before other things like the Jerusalem council find more historical verification.

Wikipedia says:

"Passages corroborated by historical evidence in Acts is considered consistently accurate with regard to specific details of its 1st century environment, specifically with regard to titles of officials, administrative divisions, town assemblies, administrative affairs associated with the Jewish temple in Jerusalem, and synchronization of historical details,[24] including:...

Felix and Festus are correctly called procurators of Judea. Acts correctly refers to Cornelius as centurion and to Claudius Lysias as a tribune (Acts 21:31, 23:36) The title proconsul (anthypathos) is correctly used for the governors of the two senatorial provinces named in Acts (Acts 13:7-8, Acts 18:12) Inscriptions speak about the prohibition against the Gentiles in the inner areas of the Temple, as Acts 21:27-36 presupposes;...The function of town assemblies in the operation of a city's business is described accurately in Acts 19: 29-41; Roman soldiers were permanently stationed in the tower of Antionia with the responsibility of watching for and suppressing any disturbances at the festivals of the Jew; to reach the affected area they would have to come down a flight of steps into temple precincts, as noted by Acts 21:31-37"

So Acts is quite reliable historically. Con seems to be saying that if Josephus' doesn't mention an event, it therefore didn't happen. Says who that the man didn't have his reasons for not including it? No historical work can be exhaustive anyway.

"If this event were so known, including 500 witnesses supposedly witnessing Jesus resurrected in Jesus, it seems far more accounts would be available."

Virtually everything we know about the Peloponnesian war comes from his Thucydides' history. We have more accounts of Jesus existence in the Gospels, church fathers, and non-Christian historians than we do for the Peloponnesian War. Take away Thucydides and we have very little information on the war, take away Matthew and we still have the whole Gospel from other sources.

"Using the New Testament to prove itself is not a good argument, especially when it disagrees with itself, as shown above in my examples."

Con provided no examples. No NT quotes showing contradiction. I look forward to seeing them. Also, contradictions occur in all works of antiquity, this isn't unusual. There are many contradictions between survivors' accounts of the titanic sinking, and President Kennedy's assasinaiton, doesn't mean kennedy and the Titanic didn't exist or that the events didn't happen.

The "anonymity" of the Gospels authors is something that many skeptics claim but they never explain to us how their arguments would work if applied equally to secular ancient documents whose authenticity and authorship is never (or is no longer) questioned, but are every bit as "anonymous" in the same sense that the Gospels are. The Gospel authors nowhere name themselves in their texts, but this applies equally to numerous other ancient documents, such as Tacitus' Annals. Authorial attributions are found not in the text proper, but in titles, just like the Gospels.
Critics may claim that these were added later to the Gospels, but they need to provide textual evidence of this (i.e., an obvious copy of Matthew with no title attribution to Matthew, and dated earlier or early enough to suggest that it was not simply a late, or an accidental ommission), and at any rate, why is it not supposed that the titles were added later to the secular works as well?

"they have been dated to generations after Jesus"

Not true; 1 Tim 5:17-18 quotes Luke 10:7. Since Paul wrote to Timothy around 61-64 CE, Luke must be written before. Paul calls it Scripture and assumes the congregation is familiar with it. Luke must have been written early enough to gain wide acceptance. 1 Cor 15:3-7 say that the Scriptures discuss Jesus' third day resurrection and appearance. This is nowhere in the OT, so Paul must have meant some of the Gospels. 1 Cor is dated 55 CE, pushing Luke and other Gospels back to at least the 40s CE. Jesus died in the 30s, this puts the Gospels in the same generation of witnesses to Jesus' life.

Response to Con's counter rebuttal in round 2:

The term "Christian" may or may not have been well known in Nero's reign, but to show that he means not all the Jews, but specifically the disciples of Jesus, Tacitus calls them Christians. Tacitus doesn't claim that this is what they were called back in Nero's time. When a book on black history says that "the first Africans migrated from the Nile Vally in X BC," it isn't saying they were known as Africans during their first migration to populate the world. It is simply using a modern word to identify an ancient people. Further, even if the term were unknown to most people, it doesn't prove Nero couldn't have knowledge of it. Con is assuming that what is unknown to the maority is unknown to all! When most thought the earth was the centre of the cosmos Galileo knew it revolved around the sun. Acts 11:26 shows the term was indeed used in Nero's time.

"In any case, the Gospel of Peter has been dated to the mid-2nd century."

The letter of Polycarp written about A.D.110 shows complete familiarity with 1 Peter. (Epistle of Polycarp to the Philippians, chap 1-2; Ecclesiastical History 3:39.17; 4.14.19) His contemporary Papias quotes from and alludes to it in his Letter to the Philippians (see, for example: 1.3 = 1 Pet 1:8, 12; and 2.1 = 1 Pet 1:13, 21) The Epistle of Barnabas, probably as old as A.D.98 or older, quotes 1 Pet. 2:5. Again, it seems certain that the Epistle is quoted, though not by name, in the Epistle of Clement (1 Clement vol.1, p.13; 1 Pet 5:5) of Rome, A.D.95. So it had to exist before the mid-2nd century. The letter's authority in the early church implies that it was written by an authoritative figure, such as Peter. The persecution in 1 Peter fits Nero's time.

"Pliny the Younger made his first alleged reference to Christians in 112 AD, long after the date in contention."

I used Pliny, not as proof Jesus existed, but to back up that the word "Christian" was used in Tacitus' time, which you admitted and corrected your argument. Ancient people kept records, wrote things down, and tracked information faithfully . They had libraries, government records and records from religious authorities. Pliny could have known from such such sources. If modern historians can find out what happened 1000 years ago, Pliny can know what occured just 58 yeaars before him.
mcc1789

Con

1) I contend the Christians in those days did not believe the resurrection happened physically on earth, so again nothing to confess.

This was an error on my part. It should have read "many" before "the Christians". Some Gnostics and in particular the Docetists believed Jesus was only spiritual, thus his body, crucifixion and resurrection were illusory. True, Ignatius wrote against this. Additionally, given the fact that some books in what is now called the New Testament condemned it (for instance 1 John 4:1-3)we can safely say this was a common belief, enough to require such a denunciation from opponents. In any case, the "orthodox" differed from the Synoptic Gospels themselves. Irenaeus stated that Jesus was "more than fifty years old when he died" (Against Heresies, II, 22) and that "he remained among them up to the times of Trajan" (the reign of Emperor Trajan began in 98 AD). Church Father Epiphanius of Salamis, in contrast, placed Jesus around a century before the Synoptic Gospels claim, between 103-76 BC, in the reign of Alexander Jannaeus (Panarion, 29:3).

"believers of all faiths have died rather than "confess their lies."

"Not for an event they made up. If the apostles had invented Jesus they wouldn't be willing to die and be persecuted for this lie. Early Christians most assuredly would have been in a position to know whether Jesus actually existed or not. Just as much as we living in modern times, ancient people kept records, wrote things down, and tracked information faithfully. In Nero's time eyewitness of Christ would still be alive. Not even their enemies claimed Jesus was a myth."

We do not for sure who the Apostles were, if they were, or how they died. Regardless, it assumes they would not be willing to die, unlike presumably the adherents of the many "fake" religions around the world. Joseph Smith is a good example, as he "died for a lie" according to you. There have been many others in his mode. I think you are deeply underestimating the power a belief can have, ironically enough. It's not a lie to the true believer, especially if there were no miraculous event fabricated to begin with. The early Christians would not be in a position to know if Jesus existed or the resurrection happened assuming the witnesses and miracle themselves had been non-existent, as my argument has been here. Their enemies were prone to similar fantastic belief, so the lack of disputation by them is unfortunate but unsurprising.

Wikipedia says:

"Passages corroborated by historical evidence in Acts is considered consistently accurate with regard to specific details of its 1st century environment, specifically with regard to titles of officials, administrative divisions, town assemblies, administrative affairs associated with the Jewish temple in Jerusalem, and synchronization of historical details,[24] including:...
Felix and Festus are correctly called procurators of Judea. Acts correctly refers to Cornelius as centurion and to Claudius Lysias as a tribune (Acts 21:31, 23:36) The title proconsul (anthypathos) is correctly used for the governors of the two senatorial provinces named in Acts (Acts 13:7-8, Acts 18:12) Inscriptions speak about the prohibition against the Gentiles in the inner areas of the Temple, as Acts 21:27-36 presupposes;...The function of town assemblies in the operation of a city's business is described accurately in Acts 19: 29-41; Roman soldiers were permanently stationed in the tower of Antionia with the responsibility of watching for and suppressing any disturbances at the festivals of the Jew; to reach the affected area they would have to come down a flight of steps into temple precincts, as noted by Acts 21:31-37"

Yes, and right under that Wikipedia lists "passages of disputed historical accuracy" including regarding the Council of Jerusalem: http://en.wikipedia.org...

"So Acts is quite reliable historically. Con seems to be saying that if Josephus' doesn't mention an event, it therefore didn't happen. Says who that the man didn't have his reasons for not including it? No historical work can be exhaustive anyway."

No, I am not saying that. It was your citation of Josephus in the first place (the paragraph devoted to Jesus that I have challenged as interpolation). However, when Josephus, well-known for relating and commenting on even minor events, is silent on such a singular occurrence as the Council of Jerusalem, apparently it means nothing, in contrast to your quotations of him. Indeed, not only Josephus but all contemporary historians were silent, that was my point.

"Virtually everything we know about the Peloponnesian war comes from his Thucydides' history. We have more accounts of Jesus existence in the Gospels, church fathers, and non-Christian historians than we do for the Peloponnesian War. Take away Thucydides and we have very little information on the war, take away Matthew and we still have the whole Gospel from other sources."

The Peloponnesian war was far earlier, as you know. I am not at all sure we have less on the war than Jesus. Your own claim is that eyewitnesses to Jesus' resurrection would be still alive in the AD 60s, yet so few were moved to write down such a miracle. Or, as most were illiterate, at least tell others by word and follow the religion. The majority of converts were gentiles, rather than Jews, exactly opposed to what we would expect if hundreds, even thousands, had witnessed him and these miracles. The whole land would have been abuzz with stories, rumors, and writings, not just decades after-during the events themselves. Yet this is not how it was.

"Con provided no examples. No NT quotes showing contradiction. I look forward to seeing them. Also, contradictions occur in all works of antiquity, this isn't unusual. There are many contradictions between survivors' accounts of the titanic sinking, and President Kennedy's assasinaiton, doesn't mean kennedy and the Titanic didn't exist or that the events didn't happen."

The examples that contradicted were those of the female witnesses you cited being something the Gospel writers would not include if they were fabrications, as women were considered less believable. You yourself did not cite the exact Scriptures, but no matter, here they are: Luke 24:10 (4 women), Mark 16:1 (3 women), Matthew 28:1 (2), John 20:1 (1), 1 Corinthians 15:4-8 (none). 1 Corinthians, incidentally, is where "five hundred" witnesses at once are told of, about whom no record is extant.

"Most scholars date the Gospel of Luke to c 80-90,[63][64] although some argue for a date c. 60-65.[65." The quote of Luke in 1 Timothy you seem to have in mind was "the laborer deserves to be paid." Assuming the later date of Luke is true, this may in fact be quoting Timothy rather. Or perhaps mundanely, "the laborer deserves to be paid" could be a common saying. Regardless, both Timothy's authorship and dating are disputed, with the latest possible date as 130-155 AD-plenty of time to quote Luke. http://en.wikipedia.org.... It seems that Wikipedia disagrees with your dates of these. Again, this assumes there were such witnesses to begin with.

I said Gospel of Peter, not 1 Peter (or First Epistle of Peter). The Gospel of Peter is among those "non-Canonical Gospels which were rejected [1] by the Church Fathers as apocryphal." The scholars "generally agree on a date in the second half of the 2nd century." http://en.wikipedia.org...

I think we're substantially in agreement on the term "Christian" issue now. I know that you used Pliny to prove this, as seems clear from my quote. Our view on Tacitus appears to be the same, at least enough for me. I'm almost out of space anyway. I suggest we drop this as a side issue and move on, unless you feel it needs more extrapolation.

I will end it here and wait for your arguments in round 4 (phew)
Debate Round No. 3
daley

Pro

Reply to Con's rebuttal in round 2 con't:

"It would seem more credible that opponents be quoted, showing that even "they" agreed it happened,"

That they agreed "what" happened? That he existed? I've already pointed out that Jesus' existence was not challenged at the time, making it unnecessary to cite Tacitus in support of his existence. Nor would it be useful to prove Christ divinity cause it doesn't mention such. This is a very negative reference to Christianity. It speaks of Christians as being "hated for their enormities," a "pernicious superstition," "mischief," "hideous," "shameful," and "hating humanity." To quote this as authoritative, might also imply that these negative things were true about Christians. Why cite a source to prove one point only to end up in conflict with the same source on so many others? Very few believers would be attracted to it; and since Jesus' existence wasn't in question they simply didn't needed it.

"1) Let me reprint the Jamesian reference...Speculation is unavoidable here."

Speculation is not proof. (1) The passage appears in all the most ancient copies of Antiquities, (2) All ancient writers who quote this passage do so without showing that they had any doubts as to its authenticity, (3) We have no record of any ancient writer challenging this as a forgery, (4) The passage is written in the style typical of Josephus. The facts lean more heavily in the direction that Josephus did write it.

"2) Now, this "non-Christian terminology" would be easy to understand if the words "who was called Christ" had been inserted after the word "Jesus."

A Christian insertion would more likely read "who was the Christ," rather than "who was called Christ." It is backward reasoning to claim that non-Christian language is evidence of Christian tampering. The phrase occurs in all the oldest copies of Josephus suggesting it was also in the original. Just because an interpolation would make this passage easy for Con to understand doesn't prove it was a forgery; historical truth is not determined by what makes more sense to Con. Even in our time people believe and do some very strange things, and just because we don't understand it doesn't make it any less real. So while this Jamesian passage would make more sense to Con if it were a forgery, this is no proper methodology for reconstructing history. Christian tampering is a "possibility," so is the existence of "unicorns," but the available data just doesn't support either!

"I agree the emphasis is not on either Jesus or James, but on Ananus, which makes a passing reference strange at best."

Very strange. A Christian would more likely place the emphasis on Jesus, which just goes against this being a Christian insertion.

"3)…Tacitus does not praise Jesus, yet that is not an interpolation?"

No, it isn't, and Con has not provided any solid proof that it is. Again, the Tacitus reference to Christ appears in all the oldest copies of Tacitus, and there is no record that any ancient writer was suspicious of this being a forgery. It is significant that people living back then didn't catch wind of any conspiracy to invent Jesus, but Con, who is much farther removed from the original events did! One would think that people living in the first three centuries would be in a better position than Con to know if Jesus existed, as they were closer to the time of the original events; yet not even the enemies of Christianity ever charged that Jesus was a myth!

"the earlier Josephus reference "does" give praise to Jesus, yet this is "not" an interpolation?"

If Con can produce a genuine statement from Josephus where he denies that Jesus is the Christ, was resurrected, etc, then he would have reason to doubt that Josephus could have said such things about him. But we cannot assume what the man believed. If he says these things happened, he must have reason to believe they did. Giving praise to Jesus would only imply Christian tampering if we know for sure that Josephus did not believe these things. Con hasn't proved that he didn't. This passage is found in all oldest manuscripts of Josephus and is in his style of writing, so evidence is good that it isn't a forgery.

"Upon further research, I have found the Church Fathers were not familiar with Antiquities in the main)... I thus concede their lack of reference is not proof."

Con has agreed the Church Fathers' lack of reference to this passage is no proof that it was a forgery on the basis that they were not familiar with Antiquities. If the early Fathers were not familiar with Tacitus' Annals, this would be yet an additional reason why they didn't quote this insulting reference to Jesus and Christianity.

"Origen and Celsus did not debate his existence"

Considering how Celsus was attacking Christianity, the Tacitus quote could have done more harm than good. Why bring in all those negative comments about the faith just to prove something that both parties in the debate already agree on?

"Sadly, we only have Medieval copies from Josephus' Antiquities, as is common in ancient texts. By then, any interpolation long since would have been faithfully copied down."

The earliest copy of Thucydides' History of the Peloponnesian War dates around 900 AD, a full 1,300 years after the original! Surely by then any interpolation would long since been faithfully copied down. We only have 8 copies of Herodotus' History, the oldest dated AD 900, a full 1, 300 years after the original, more than enough time for interpolations. The same can be said about the 5 copies of Aristotle (1, 400 years), and the 10 copies of Caesar (1, 000 years), and so on. If Con is going to question the authenticity of Josephus because there was enough time for interpolations, he needs to be consistent in applying this standard to all these other works of antiquity as well. We would have to throw out most of what we know about the ancient world if we apply Con's stringent standard of suspicion to other historical works. This is an unreasonable standard historians don't normally take with historical literature. Just because there's enough time for tampering doesn't mean that there was!

"Origen, in his Commentary on Matthew, himself says "Josephus did not accept Jesus as the Christ" yet Josephus is supposed to have written "he was the Christ."

Just because Origen claims Josephus didn't believe Jesus was the Christ, Con accept that it is so, but Origen also said that Jesus existed, and Con doesn't believe him! How's that for double standards? Con provides no quote from Josephus to back up Origen's claim that Josephus didn't believe Jesus was the Christ.

"if Origen had not read the Antiquities he might not be aware of the reference, "

Con has given us no examples of Origen quoting Josephus to prove that he was familiar with Antiquities, so we don't know that he was.

"but had this been written before, it would have at least made some think Josephus was Christian."

Only if Josephus believed in their other doctrines. Jehovah's Witnesses believe Jesus is the Christ, yet most Christians don't consider them Christians. Simply calling Jesus the Christ doesn't prove you are Christian. I know Hindus who believe he was the Christ and in his resurrection, but no one I know considers them Christian.

Reply to Con's round 3:

Irenaeus has John, not Jesus, living to the time of Trajan, and careful exegesis of his work shows he didn't believe Jesus was over 50 when he died. (see How Old is Jesus According to St. Iranaeus? by Mark J Bonocore) Irenaeus siad "those who were conversant in Asia with John, the disciple of the Lord, [affirming] that John conveyed to them that information. And he remained among them up to the times of Trajan. Some of them, moreover, saw not only John, but the other apostles also," the "he" who remained among them up to the time of Trajan is clearly John. I'll respond to the remaining objections in round 4.
mcc1789

Con

Regarding Tacitus, we seem to be simply rehashing the same arguments. I have already said my piece on that.

I am not offering speculation as proof in terms of the Jamesian reference. (1) Unavoidably, in all such writings there are copies of copies of copies. This is not only true for Josephus but also the Gospels. As to (2), and (3), this would follow given the fact that all these manuscripts necessarily copied by hand, making it difficult to challenge or defend (as we have seen with this debate itself). As to (4): "It may be admitted that the style of Josephus has been cleverly imitated, a not very difficult matter ...", Jesus by C. Guignebert, University Books, New York, 1956, p. 17.

2) Except perhaps "who was the Christ" would seem over the top, especially if the writer is supposed to be non-Christian. You see how speculation becomes unavoidable? "Just because an interpolation would make this passage easy for Con to understand doesn't prove it was a forgery; historical truth is not determined by what makes more sense to Con." I am well aware of that. However, the opposite applies to your viewpoint as well. This is a matter of differing interpretations, obviously, and my argument on context applies here.

Since there is no evidence Josephus was Christian, as I have argued myself, a more central focus on Jesus might lend suspicion of forgery. A well-regarded source that is not known to have any stake in the claim is perfect to use. If the interpolation were too blatant, this could be ruined.

3) I am hardly the only person to have suspicions of Tacitus or Josephus' references. Hindsight can indeed lend us more insight than people living then often have, since we have the benefit of time and perspective they may lack. Regardless, we have too much evidence for the pious fraud of early Christians to have it dismissed as impossible. As to enemies of Christianity, they also believed strange things, at times even stranger than Christian beliefs. So they were used to such ideas. People of these ages did not have a clear divide between "supernatural" and "natural." It was, in fact, "nothing new" as the Church Father Justin Martyr himself said: "We say the Word, the first birth of God, was produced without sexual union. We say that He, Jesus Christ, our teacher, was crucified, died, rose again and ascended into heaven. We are propounding nothing different from what you believe regarding those that you esteem to be sons of Jupiter."–First Apology, circa 150 AD.

I have already gone into the Josephus reference at length. I would only be repeating myself. We both know these references are the only ones claimed from Josephus.

"If the early Fathers were not familiar with Tacitus' Annals, this would be yet an additional reason why they didn't quote this insulting reference to Jesus and Christianity."

Yes, agreed.

"Considering how Celsus was attacking Christianity, the Tacitus quote could have done more harm than good. Why bring in all those negative comments about the faith just to prove something that both parties in the debate already agree on?"

That was exactly my point.

Yes, there was time for interpolations. However, it is not simply a matter of opportunity, but motive. I see no motive to tamper with these ancient works, and yes, there must be more than merely suspicion of it. However I should also note that as these were major historical events and personages, there is archaeological evidence of them along with those. We are left with far less for Jesus.

"Just because Origen claims Josephus didn't believe Jesus was the Christ, Con accept that it is so, but Origen also said that Jesus existed, and Con doesn't believe him! How's that for double standards? Con provides no quote from Josephus to back up Origen's claim that Josephus didn't believe Jesus was the Christ."

It should be obvious that someone can be wrong in one instance, but right in another. I do not accept that Origen knew for either of these cases. However, you have cited Origen, and this was to show he disagreed with you in the matter of Josephus' faith. Going by your own standard, there is no evidence for Josephus being Christian.

"Con has given us no examples of Origen quoting Josephus to prove that he was familiar with Antiquities, so we don't know that he was."

Again, that was in fact my point.

"Only if Josephus believed in their other doctrines. Jehovah's Witnesses believe Jesus is the Christ, yet most Christians don't consider them Christians. Simply calling Jesus the Christ doesn't prove you are Christian. I know Hindus who believe he was the Christ and in his resurrection, but no one I know considers them Christian."

This would lend weight to my claims that early Christians had no set canon, doctrine, etc. Which makes pinning all this down even more difficult. For instance, the Gnostic Gospels I have mentioned were not accepted. However, even the renowned Book of Revelation was initially considered spurious and only accepted into the canon in 397.
http://en.wikipedia.org...

"I'll respond to the remaining objections in round 4."

You mean round 5, and I look forward to our conclusion of the debate.
Debate Round No. 4
daley

Pro

Docetists believed that since matter was evil, Jesus could not have a physical body; therefore, what the apostles interacted with, saw die on the cross and appear to them from the dead was in fact an illusion. There would be no need to resort to this illusion hypothesis if there were no witnesses claiming to have seen him. The fact that they resorted to this argument proves that even at that early time [70 CE] there was abundant eyewitness testimony of Jesus' existence to which they were responding.

"Joseph Smith…he "died for a lie."

Smith didn't die for something he believed was a lie, nor for his belief in Mormonism. He was arrested and killed for the destruction of the paper's printing press as detailed in the Nauvoo Expositor.

"The early Christians would not be in a position to know if Jesus existed or the resurrection happened assuming the witnesses and miracle themselves had been non-existent,"

It is clear from 1 Cor 15:1, 6 that the Corinthians in 55 CE (less than 25 years after Jesus' death) already believed he existed, and believed that many eyewitnesses were still alive. Just imagine someone trying to convince you and people in your community that Elvis Presley came back to life 25 years ago and appeared to 500 people, most of whom are still alive today for investigation! Were these witnesses non-existent, how would this guy convince you and those in your community? Why would Paul appeal to witnesses he didn't have, so confidently? This would put him in a bad fix. His appeal to their knowledge of these witnesses makes it unlikely the witnesses didn't exist.

"Their enemies were prone to similar fantastic belief, so the lack of disputation by them is unfortunate but unsurprising"

Celsus wrote vigorously to discredit Christianity, He disputes the Gospel record of Jesus' ancestry, conception, birth, childhood, ministry, death, and resurrection, but never his existence; surely he would have attacked his existence as well had there been any proof the disciples had fabricated it. Celsus was a Greek philosopher who was not "prone to similar fantastic belief" and thus, by your standards, would have denied Jesus' existence had such been the case!

"right under that Wikipedia lists "passages of disputed historical accuracy" including regarding the Council of Jerusalem"

Previous examples from Acts that were once challenged as unhistorical are now proven history, it may only be a matter of time before the Jerusalem council follows suit.

"Indeed, not only Josephus but all contemporary historians were silent"

Thucydides' contemporaries were silent on the Peloponnesian war; doesn't mean it didn't happen. The gospel authors' contemporaries were silent too, big deal.

Luke was a contemporary historian and was not silent. (Luke 1:1-4; Acts 1:1-4) He was a companion of Paul, placing the book before 70 AD. (Acts 16:10-17; 20:5-15; 21:1-18; 27:1-28:16) Acts doesn't mention Jerusalem's fall (AD 70), or Nero's persecution (AD 64). Luke recorded Christian Martyrs: Stephen in Acts 7:55-60 and James in Acts 12:2. Why not write about the martyrs of the Nero's persecution as well -- if it happened before Acts was written? Why no mention of Paul's death? (AD 62-68) This gives an early date for Acts. Luke was written before Acts.

"I am not at all sure we have less on the war than Jesus."

We have only Thucydides' testimony on how the war happened, without it, we have no details of it; but we have 4 separate accounts of Jesus' life, plus non-Christian testimony and early fathers who confirm most of the Gospel story.

"Your own claim is that eyewitnesses to Jesus' resurrection would be still alive in the AD 60s, yet so few were moved to write down such a miracle."

Many eyewitnesses survived the Peloponnesian war, yet we only have one historical account of it, Thucydides. The fact that there were many witnesses to an event is no guarantee many of them will write about it or that their writings will survive.

Luke 24:10 doesn't say there were "only" 4 women, Matthew 28:1 doesn't say there were "only" 2 women, its possible more were there. I am debating you right now on DDO; this doesn't prove that others are not also debating you on DDO just because I didn't mention them.

"If four different persons had sat down to make up a story in collusion of a resurrection that never occurred, they would have made their four accounts appear to agree, at least on the surface. Whatever contradictions there might be in the four accounts would only come out after minute and careful study. But just the opposite is the case here. It is all on the surface that the apparent contradictions occur. It is only by careful and protracted study that the real agreement shines forth. It is just such a harmony as would not exist between four accounts fabricated in collusion. It is just such an agreement as would exist in four independent accounts of substantially the same circumstances, each narrator telling the same story from his own standpoint, relating such details as impressed him, omitting other details which did not impress him but which did impress another narrator and which the other narrator related…. They could not have been fabricated in collusion with one another—the very discrepancies urged prove this. Much less could they have been fabricated independently of one another. Four men sitting down independently of one another to fabricate an account of something that never occurred would have agreed with one another nowhere, but in point of fact the more we study these four accounts the more clearly we discover how marvelously they fit in with one another." (R. A. Torrey. Difficulties and Alleged Errors and Contradictions in the Bible, Fleming H. Revell Company, 1907, pp. 87-88)

1 Cor 15:5-8 doesn't contradict the appearances to the women because it wasn't meant to be a comprehensive list of all the witnesses. First century Jewish writers tended to focus more on the males anyway. (Luke 3:23-38)

Second-century testimony is unanimous in attributing the four Gospels to the persons that now carry their name. This suggests that they received their titles early; for if they had not, there would have been a great deal of speculation as to who had written them - "a variation of titles would have inevitably risen," as had happened with the apocryphal gospels. [R. T. The Evidence for Jesus. Downers Grove: IVP, 1986]

Why were such unlikely characters chosen as authors? Luke is an obscure personage. Mark abandoned Paul. Matthew was also a tax collector (Jews hated tax collectors). Would you pick the IRS man, and an obscure apostle, to author your Gospel? Were obscure persons deliberately chosen as authors to fool us into thinking they were authentic? Nonsense!

The Gospels must have received their titles immediately - not in the second century. For an anonymous author to have penned a Gospel, and have it accepted as from the hand of any authoritative person, would have required them to first produce the Gospel, then present it as the work of another; they would have to concoct some story as to how it came peculiarly to be in their possession; get around the problem of why a work by such a person disappeared or was previously unknown; then get the church at large, first in his area and then throughout the Roman Empire (and would not the claimed discovery of such a document cause a sensation, and controversy?), to accept this work as genuine.
Can Con explain how these logistic difficulties were overcome? Can he give us the specifics of how X could have managed to pull off such a hoax on the church as a whole? Is there any parallel to this in secular history, where an enormous group at large was bamboozled by (and continued to be bamboozled by) not just one forgery, but four, attributed in a couple of cases to members of an inner circle, in widely separated places and times?

I thank Con for participating in this informative debate.
mcc1789

Con

Since this is the last round, I will not post replies since my opponent cannot respond. My likely rebuttals can be guessed from previous replies, and in some cases I have gone over this material already.

In the first round, I claimed there is reasonable doubt on Jesus' historical existence. If you agree with this after our debate is concluded, vote Con. Otherwise, vote for my worthy opponent.

"I thank Con for participating in this informative debate."

Thank you as well. It has been not only informative but quite enjoyable.
Debate Round No. 5
5 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 5 records.
Posted by daley 6 years ago
daley
what do you say we do a debate on who wrote the gospels?
Posted by mcc1789 6 years ago
mcc1789
Yeah, I know, too little space...It's been fun man, thanks for this. Definitely good we did 5 :)
Posted by daley 6 years ago
daley
its to bad there isn't enough space to get into the nitty gritty of this topic, but i've had fun...good thing we did 5 rounds instead of 3
Posted by mcc1789 6 years ago
mcc1789
That's fine, plenty of time left.
Posted by daley 6 years ago
daley
my apologies for not answering all objections raised in the first round but i can't answer any let alone all of the objections in-depth in such limited space. if possible, i'll try to respond to the rest of the arguments presend in the first round in my third post depending on how much space i have left from answering your counter-rebuttal.
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by Dimmitri.C 6 years ago
Dimmitri.C
daleymcc1789Tied
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Total points awarded:70 
Reasons for voting decision: Mcc1789, the word Christian was known at Tacitus' time. The word Christian was first mentioned in the Book of Acts. For example, Acts 11:26, states ". . . in Antioch the disciples were first called Christians."
Vote Placed by Aaronroy 6 years ago
Aaronroy
daleymcc1789Tied
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Total points awarded:50 
Reasons for voting decision: I'm voting Pro since Con seemed to skimp out on his last speech