Jesus claimed to be a Jewish Messiah and was later misrepresented to create Christianity
Disclaimer: I kindly ask only a person well-versed in New Testament and history of the period just before and after Christ to accept this debate.
The subject of this debate will be one of the hypotheses who Jesus really was. It should be fairly obvious that I assume Jesus existed and that New Testament tells stories of real events that do have a grain of truth in them, or even a whole sack of grain. Nevertheless, I will argue from a position of ex-Christian non-believer / agnostic, that the stories have a certain spin that is the reason Christianity exists today in the first place.
Presented in a concise manner by Hyam Maccoby, the hypothesis reflects on contradictions in the New Testament that are otherwise hardly pronounced nowadays. Those consist of issues mostly known by Jews themselves and seldom by others, but also historical arguments rarely brought up even by most stalwart atheists, who seem to be as blind to them as ordinary believers.
The story of Jesus as hypothesized by Hyam can be summarized as: Jesus was a Jewish Messiah clairmant whose role was to overthrow Roman occupation by means of God's divine intervention rather than full-scale military revolt similar to, for example, Simon Bar-Kokhba's revolt. To achieve God's sympathy for the cause Jesus intended to renew people's vows to God, to "refine them like silver and test them like gold", quoting Zechariah 13:8-9, so that converted and repenting sinners and devout, orthodox Jews would appease God's eyes, show him that people of Israel are worthy of his guidance and help. Such an intervention would be very similar to any other miraculous military interventions of God - e.g. David vs Goliath, Joshua and Jericho, and so on.
In Hyam's opinion Jesus sympathized with Pharisees, who were discredited and misrepresented in the New Testament, reflecting post-temple destruction tensions between Pharisees and newly founded 'Christians sect'. The Christian sect is completely different than Jesus's followers, Hyam claims, and the true followers of Jesus are actually thought to be Pharisees by Hyam. (later dubbed 'the Ebionites', descending from "Judeochristians", the original followers of Jesus, as a Jewish Messiah)
Another important issue will be Saul from Tarsus / St. Paul's involvement in narrating Jesus's story, thought to be the leader of the "Christian camp" versus "Jews (Pharisees) camp". Hyam in particular claims Paul lied about much of his background and that he intentionally proselytized people to believe in Jesus as a different person than he was in real life, injecting his teachings with soteriology and some pagan themes from other religions.
I have no round plan for the debate, but I intend to: first, present loopholes in the story told by Christians themselves, then present and defend my own version of the story. I am aware I may lack enough evidence to prove my own, revised version of Hyam's hypothesis, but I at least want to find out in the debate whether the loopholes in the story narrated by New Testament and Christians are as strong as I think.
I'm aware my debater may not be familiar with works of Maccoby. I'd like them to revise at very least those:
In addition, please be very familiar with New Testament in general, and please revise Zechariah from Old Testament. (the hypothesis puts great emphasis on Jesus following Zechariah's writings, often literally)
One last disclaimer: I am willing to scrap and start up this debate again as long as no sensible debater appears.
I accept your challenge.
Just one thing, I find it ironic how Maccoby, whom you cited claims that "irreconcilable contradictions exist in the New Testament" when people could make the same claim about the Tanakh, yet he would find a way to reconcile them. But he wouldn't allow that for the New Testament. This already tells me that he is inconsistent and dishonest with himself.
But anyways, good luck to you.
First of all, I will begin with presentation of perceived problems with Christian narration.
The Birth of Jesus
Important to both 'Judeo-Christians' and Christians is the legacy of Jesus that both sides claimed for their Messiah - his direct descent from the David house. It can be however inferred that narration in the New Testament goes beyond that. Both parties claimed the Messiah would be "born under a star" (later Messiah claimant's title "Bar Kokhba" is a direct reference to this), and the birth was prophesied to take place in Bethlehem. However, Christian narrators probably got wrong the prophecy about the Messiah being a "naseroi", in the meaning "of Nazareth". As explains Eisenman, quoted by Baigent and Leigh in "The Dead Sea Scrolls Deception" (1), "Naseroi", 'Nozrei ha-Brit', the 'Nozrim', the 'Nasrani' and the 'Nazoreans' all designated individuals vowing to keep the Moses Law intact. It literally meant "The Keepers of The Covenant".
Wrongly believing that Mary's and Joseph's hometown (and consequently, Jesus's) was Nazareth, narrators of New Testament came up with a story which justified them moving as far as to Bethlehem (compare yourself the distance on the map: http://photos1.blogger.com... ), supposedly to avoid census and firstborn children massacre ordered by Herod, when in fact the story obviously tried to place Jesus's birth in the prophesied town, by all means necessary.
My argument is this: the crucial factor for the whole story to make sense, Herod's command to kill firstborn so that prophesied Messiah wouldn't dethrone him (as if Herod feared such silly notions!) hasn't been attested by any other sources than the New Testament itself. The other missing point in this problem is that supposed census (which Gospels attribute to a wrong date) would not affect Galilee in any way.
Considering that country-wide massacre of firstborn males up to two years old would never go unnoticed even by Roman scholars, not to mention the Jewish, this is an obvious lie to make sense out of this story. Judeo-Christians, however, never had this problem because they never claimed "naseroi" and various variants of this theme meant that his parents lived in Nazareth. Up to this date no conclusive research can tell us whether such a town or even a village existed in the first place, at the time.
Judeo-Christians simply knew what 'naseroi' meant, and in fact they were called by this name very often ("Nazoreans" was an official name for early "Christians"), until the movement was hijacked and renamed to "Christians" after the "Christos", possibly by Paul and his followers, who intentionally placed Jesus as a "Christ" figure in the center of the new religion. This was a total blasphemy to the Jews, who'd only consider "Nazorenes" a sect because they didn't share their belief in Jesus as a promised Messiah. Both Jews and Nasorenes, however, didn't believe in Jesus as a God, which will be discussed in the next phase of the debate.
Jesus the Pharisee?
Hyam Maccoby claims Jesus didn't teach anything Pharisees themselves wouldn't preach, and that New Testament intentionally demonizes their group. From early childhood, it seems, Jesus was observant of the Law, discussed it in the temple as would Pharisees do, subscribed to various beliefs of two Pharisaic schools. For example, Jesus mirrors Hillel the Elder's teachings:
In other passages, Jesus rather agrees with the other major Pharisaic school teachings, Shammai's:
But anyone, Pharisaic or not, could've believed in that. So what would be best indication that Jesus was a true Pharisee?
"Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.
Radically opposed to Christian narration that Jesus abolished or made the "Old" Covenant obsolete, and that he inaugurated the era of "New Covenant", Maccoby claims Jesus in all his actions shows he wanted to keep it intact, just as did Pharisees. Virtually nowhere (besides one curious mention of the "New Covenant" in the Last Supper, which Maccoby thinks is narrated and didn't really happen anyway) did Jesus speak of applying "New Covent", of making Moses Law obsolete so that non-Jews (or those non-observant of Jewish laws) can join into ranks of his followers. Most often it is Paul who claims it, in his Letters and in Acts, that The Law no longer needs to apply to believers.
The process and death of Jesus
The most crucial point of criticizing Christian narration is the reasons for which Jesus supposedly was tried and then sentenced to die on the cross.
First of all, Jews had the right to operate a judicial body - to judge, make trials and even put someone to death, e.g. by stoning. If their goal really was only to kill Jesus and if Romans had no intention of killing Jesus, they would carry out stoning of him on their own. They needn't to rely on the Romans. Curiously enough, New Testament writers absent Romans from any responsibility, and on the other hand, go as far as claiming Jews would free an obvious murderer, Barabas, on the basis of historically non-attested custom of freeing a convict; hell, even claiming "His blood shall be on us and on our children!" (Mt 27:25), only to get Jesus dead.
On Romans: Pilate has been represented as a very civil man who even (sic!) washes his hands before sentencing Jesus to death, so that it is clear he had nothing to do with killing him. He appeases the bloodthirsty mob, he is blackmailed by the Sanhedrin, to sentence someone as unimportant as Jesus or else... they would tell the emperor! Blackmail the prosecutor of the country which occupies you - that doesn't seem plausible at all.
What does history tell us about Pilate? Josephus, for example, claims it was he, not the Jews, who was bloodthirsty, who wouldn't hesitate to order Roman soldiers to strike rioting Jews. (2) What difference would it make for him to sentence one man such as Jesus to death? None. But it would actually make sense for him to defy the Sanhedrin and not to sentence Jesus. Josephus claims Pilate was not very fond of them.
But they also foreshadowed real conflict with the establishment. As Maccoby explains (3), Jesus must have possibly entered Jerusalem in early autumn, only to sack the temple, and to get caught during spring. The NT narration intentionally shortcuts from this triumphal entry to his trial and death on the cross, omitting other events, and presents sack of the temple as if Jesus only chased away some money lenders.
Was Jesus really crucified then? I can't possibly know. But one thing I know for sure is that if Romans really crucified Jesus, they had a really good reason. For starters, they didn't crucify just the common villains (murderers and thieves among Jesus on the crosses are a major historical implausibility by authors of New Testament), but people who openly defied Roman state. They were sentenced to maximum humiliation to deter any such acts.
If it really was the case that Jesus was crucified by Romans, then the conflict between corrupted Roman-applied Sadducee authorities and Jesus was intentionally misrepresented. Jesus must have openly defied Romans and Sadducees, and intended a miraculous revolution against the occupiers. There's plenty of quotations to support such a view, even if Jesus wasn't obviously the 'military partisan' type of Messiah, but a 'God will perform a miracle to help us if we make ourselves pure enough to him" one.
In the next argument I will respond to counterarguments and point to few quotations which make absolutely no sense to be mentioned by the Apostles, but rather make much more in Maccoby's hypothesis.
(1) - http://www.bibliotecapleyades.net...
Chapter 3.2 - interestingly this is a fragment just before famous "Testimonium Flavianum"
I am going to start by pointing to the fact that my respected opponent made appeal to the New Testament to prove some of his contentions, which I will deal with in the rebuttal.
With this in mind, my opponent has opened the door for me to use the New Testament, remember he appealed to it, by appealing to it he establishes its veracity to tell us about the Historical Jesus.
With that said I am going to start with the virgin birth of Jesus.
The New Testament says (I paraphrase):
Mary said to the Angel 'How can this be, seeing as I am a virgin?' The Angel answers: 'The Holy Spirit will come unto you and miraculously conceive the Holy Son who is the Son of God.' (Luke 1:34-35)
As far as the virgin birth is concerned, the answer given in the Gospels as to why it was necessary for Jesus to be born to a virgin was so that he wouldn't inhereit the sinful nature passed on through the father, rather the conception would be miraculous work done by the Holy Spirit to not taint the Son of God's body with the sinful nature, which would void his sacrifice on the cross if he wasn't sinful.
Very early church Fathers such as Ignatius of Antioch, who was a student of the apostles (mainly of Saint John), he writes:
"He (Jesus) was conceived in the womb of Mary, according to the appointment of God, of the seed of David, and by the Holy Ghost. For says [the Scripture], "Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and He shall be called Immanuel."" (Epistle of Ignatius to the Ephesians, chapter 18)
So right from the start, the belief of the virgin birth was present among the early Christians.
Secondly, I am going to show you the radical claims made by Jesus that no mere human being should be making:
But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins”—He said to the paralytic (Mark 2:10)
Similar stories are found in Matthew 9, Luke 7, and Acts 26. This supports the histoical reliability of these claims, because they are multiply attested in many New Testament Books, and in many different instances, so there is no good reason to deny Jesus ever made this claim.
For Jesus to claim that he can forgive sins shows that he thought of himself as more than a man, even the Jews of his time had a problem with this claim:
"Why does he speak like that? Who can forgive sins except God alone?" (Mark 2:7)
Jesus claims to be able to work on the Sabbath:
And this was why the Jews were persecuting Jesus, because he was doing these things on the Sabbath.But Jesus answered them, “My Father is working until now, and I am working.” This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God. (John 5:16-18)
Notice what Jesus just said, he said "My Father is working until now, therefore, I have that same authority". What Jesus is basically saying is that even though only God can work on the sabbath, Jesus to can work, because he is God's Son. The Jews understood his claim and were irritated because he was claiming equality with the Father. A similar story is found at the end of Mark 2, where Jesus claims to be Lord of the Sabbath, which is another claim to deity.
Jesus claims to share the same glory as the Father:
"And now Father, glorify me in your own prescence with the glory that I had with you before the world was." (John 17:5)
This is i'd say the clearest claim to deity that Jesus makes. If this doesn't sound like Jesus claiming to be God for you, I don't know what will.
To say that Jesus didn't think of himself as anything other than a man is only to deceive yourself, and to shoot yourself in the foot in light of all the overwhelming Gospel evidence, each of these divine claims are found all throughout the Gospels, not just John, so saying that only John presents a divine Jesus, but the other Gospels didn't is to be ignorant of what the Gospels actually say.
I will also show you that many disciples thought Jesus was God:
"Thomas answered and said to Jesus "My Lord and My God" (John 20:28)
In Greek: ho kurios mou kai ho theos mou, which literally means "The Lord of Me and the God of me"
Peter says: You disowned the Holy and Righteous One and asked that a murderer be released to you. You killed the Author of life, but God raised him from the dead. We are witnesses of this.” (Acts 3:15)
That Matthew thought Jesus was God is very clear from his Gospel. That Saint John thought Jesus was God is very clear from his prologue: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God" (John 1:1)
I will now show you how early church Father Ignatius of Antioch in one of his authentic letters, whom as I said earlier was a student of the apostles thought about Jesus:
Ignatius, who is also called Theophorus, to the church which is at Ephesus in Asia, and most deservedly happy, being blessed through the greatness and fullness of God the Father, and predestined before the world began to an enduring and unchangeable glory, united and chosen through his true passion, according to the will of the Father AND Jesus Christ our God. (Epistle of Ignatius to the Ephesians, chapter 1)
Notice how Ignatius distinguishes between the Father and Jesus, yet he calls Jesus God.
Thirdly, Jesus makes plain what the purpose of his mission is:
"The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." (Mark 10:45)
"This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins." (Matthew 26:28)
"For He was teaching His disciples and telling them, "The Son of Man is to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill Him; and when He has been killed, He will rise three days later." (Mark 9:31)
Jesus was well aware about what was going to happent to him. Jesus makes the same exact claims in Mark 8, Matthew 16, Luke 9, John 2. This claim is not only found in one Gospel, but in all four Gospels, and multiple times in the same Gospel, sometimes even repeatedly. This saying of Jesus is very well attested amongst all Gospel writers, which is why most Jesus Historians, whether Christian or not agree that Jesus made this claim.
Michael Licona's evidence for this claim is the following: it is multiply attested in all Gospels, it is found in Jesus' rebuke of Peter, it is found in Jesus' parables in Mark 12, the disciples don't understand his claims, Jesus himself asks the Father is he can be excused from what is about to happen to him. 
Not only is this evidence overwhelming, but it passes the criteria of embarrasment, meaning that if the Gospel writers were just inventing sayings of Jesus to prove their case, they wouldn't have included embarassing remarks from JEsus, and his disciples, this would work against their case. So all this said, there is no reason to deny that Jesus predicted his violent death and subsequent resurrection.
To say that Jesus never said he came to die for sins and rise from the dead is to ignore what JESUS (not Paul) said in the Gospels.
Let me just review what I have established, using Jesus words only, not Paul, not a commentary within the Gospels, but Jesus himself:
Jesus on many occasions and many instances claimed to be God, Jesus in many instances preached that he came to die for sins, Jesus on many occasions predicted his death and resurrection.
I also proved that Jesus disciples and Ignatius, a student of Saint John himself thought Jesus was God, and that he came to die for sins.
I'd like to end with words from my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ after his resurrection:
"Go therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name (singular) of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit." (Matthew 28:19)
All of these teachings I demonstrated can be traced right back to the historical Jesus himself, as he in the Gospels make the claims, his disciples also make the claim, and a student of Saint John, Ignatius makes these claims, a good historical chain that shows that the historical Jesus is not some mysterious figure cloaked in legend, but a figure who claimed and taught everything that we Christians believe today.
I am going to start by making an important issue clear: I DO appeal to New Testament to find truth about Jesus, but I DON'T consider the entirety of the New Testament to be true. In particular, my claim is that New Testament was possibly tampered with or produced to show misrepresented story of Jesus in the first place. I argue with the presupposition that it is possible to infer the true historical Jesus from a story that intentionally misrepresents him.
I did not establish its veracity in one hundred percent, to find out who historical Jesus was only on the basis of New Testament or the Fathers of the Church (who simply repeat established oral tradition). In fact my opening arguments (both in the Round One and Two) were that of historical evidence versus what the NT claims. Con only made appeals to authority of New Testament to determine who historical Jesus was and did not address my objections to the narration on the grounds of historical plausibility, e.g. that of the reason why Jesus was crucified.
Although I don't think this particular dogma is of relevance to the subject stated (few Judeo-Christian groups possibly believed in virgin birth of Messiah as well), I will respond nevertheless.
The problem with arguing about virgin birth that was supposedly prophesized by Isaiah is that a Hebrew word meaning "young girl of marriageable age" was directly translated into Greek Septuagint as "virgin". (1) Whether this translation was permissible or not remains arguable.
As to the argument the Con makes in this case, it rests entirely on acceptation of the doctrine of the original sin, which Jews did not believe at the time. Neither I think there is any evidence that Ignatius' epistle gives credence to the argument that "it was necessary for Jesus to be born to a virgin so that he wouldn't inherit the sinful nature passed on through the father". In fact the doctrine of the original sin appeared much later, and Ignatius doesn't attribute the neccesity of virgin birth to sinless nature of Jesus. There can be serious doubt about the origins of this dogma. Arguing that it was thanks to Holy Spirit's guidance that only later Church was able to "determine" the reason for which Jesus must have been born of a virgin misses entirely the point of providing direct source of this claim, which may as well have been pagan. (the issue of Paul's Hellenic influence and alleged "Pharisaic background" will be mentioned in the next phase)
Moreover, curious silence about Jesus' supposed virgin birth in the earliest Christian writings (preceding Ignatius) casts another doubt on the validity of the dogma. (2)
"But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins”—He said to the paralytic (Mark 2:10)"
First at all, I am going to look at Greek translation:
It looks therefore Jesus had "authority" to forgive sins, not literally, "power". Let us look at the lines before:
"When Jesus saw their faith, he said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, thy sins be forgiven thee." (Mark 2:5)
"Whether is it easier to say to the sick of the palsy, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and take up thy bed, and walk?" (Mark 2:8)
This is consistent with the Greek translations.
Why would Jesus use third participle, instead of directly forgiving sins?
There's one quite good answer: Jesus spoke those words just as if a priest would.
I contend that it is not very logical to argue for the "authority" of priests to forgive sins (by God's grace of course, priests being a proxy) and claim at the same time Jesus' authority to do so implies his godly nature. It is not a direct proof of his godhood.
As to why Jews marvelled about Jesus "forgiving sins" - whether this really was the case or not is debatable. New Testament often makes extraordinary claims about Jews having adverse reactions to Jesus practices or teachings which were supposedly wrong to Jews. On several occasions - purification of hands, healing on Sabbath (also mentioned my Maccoby), picking up grains on Sabbath to eat them - New Testament claims Jews (in particular Pharisees) were mad at Jesus for such things, when in fact evidence about Pharisees themselves being fairly liberal and loose on the Law (supplying it with Oral Tradition) stands in great contrast with those claims. For instance, Con quoted Jesus "working", when in fact he was healing people - Maccoby contends no such practice was banned on Sabbath.
Would Jews consider "forgiving sins by proxy" a blasphemy? Perhaps, but this depends what kind of sin the man committed - against God or against human. (3) Jews of the time knew many methods which would supposedly help people free themselves of sins. Also remember, that even not being literally a God, but his chosen prophet / messenger could bestow special privileges, i.e. mediating between God and the man who sinned, telling them that God forgave them their sins against him.
Claim of Godhood
"This is I'd say the clearest claim to deity that Jesus makes. If this doesn't sound like Jesus claiming to be God for you, I don't know what will."
Jesus even makes extraordinary claim of 'having been before Abraham was'. The important problem considered here is that God did take his prophets to heavens (Genesis 5:24, Second Kings 2:11) to stay in there, and sometimes to descend back to earthly world.
Jesus' claim was after resurrection and may as well have been interpolated. Judeochristians did also believe in his resurrection and ascension, but not in his godhood.
Even in the Gospel of Mark itself it is inadvertly implied Jesus was a very important figure to the God, but not God himself, which would be a blasphemy to the Jews:
"So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God." (Mark 16:19)
The most obvious quote used by Jesus to deny his godhood is in the story of rich man:
"And Jesus said to him, "Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone." (Mk 10:18, Mt 19:17)
Another, which I was going to quote in the 'weird stuff Apostles had no reason to include in the NT' section is this one:
"My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" (Matthew 27:46, Mark 15:34)
"I will also show you that many disciples thought Jesus was God:"
The story of Thomas in particular may have been interpolated. It is the only one in which someone so openly calls Jesus the God; one which justifies redemption through faith alone (which was a serious heresy both to Judeochristians and Jews). I won't deal with Acts in this context, because it was my very aim from the beginning to claim non-Gospel NT in particular pushes point of Paul who deified Jesus.
Jesus, his purpose, and prediction of death
Here I reject authority of the Gospels on the issue of Jesus "predicting his death" and purporting to die on the cross.
Maccoby claims: (4)
"We come to the incident known as the Last Supper. It follows from the argument of the last chapter that this took place not at Passover time but during the Feast of Tabernacles. In the Gospels the Last Supper has been overlaid with myth serving three purposes: to show that Jesus foresaw and intended his own death on the cross; to show how Judas Iscariot became ... determined to betray Jesus; and to show that Jesus instituted the rite of Communion, with its pagan symbolism of eating the flesh and drinking the blood of the god. (...)
Jesus had no foreknowledge of his failure and crucifixion. The Last Supper was a celebration with his closest disciples of his appearance as King and the imminent overthrow of the Roman power. After preparing himself by several nights of prayer on the Mount of Olives, Jesus was convinced that "the day of the Lord" was close at hand, and he called together his disciples for a final strengthening of the bond between them before their crucial testing time. The atmosphere must have been extremely tense. They were about to embark on a great venture on which the fate of their country and the whole world would depend. But the special poignancy and drama of the Gospel accounts are the product of hindsight and of the myths that grew up later to explain Jesus's failure."
Is there any proof for his version of the events? Maccoby points to one of those curiosities which Apostles had no reason to mention, but which was most likely retained in the Gospels because it was part of the original story: (4)
"Only Luke ... has retained the incident of the swords. He could have no possible motive in inventing it, for it goes against the whole grain of his narrative. The only possible explanation of its inclusion is that it is a survival from the original story which only Luke was not ruthless enough to excise. The Gospel writers were following the outline of an older Gospel. To twist this Gospel to a new meaning required courage of a kind; sometimes their nerve may have failed them. This would explain why bones of the old narrative can sometimes be seen jutting out uncomfortably from the body of the new. "
The Gospel itself:
"Then said he unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one. (...) And they said, Lord, behold, here are two swords. And he said unto them, It is enough." (Luke 22:36; 38)
Why would Jesus buy swords? The standard counterargument is that just two are not enough to fight Romans. But with Maccoby's explanation that the revolution would have happened by supernatural means it does make sense.
In the next phase I would like to present Maccoby's narration and outline arguments against Paul.
Pro said: I DO appeal to New Testament to find truth about Jesus, but I DON'T consider the entirety of the New Testament to be true. In particular, my claim is that New Testament was possibly tampered with or produced to show misrepresented story of Jesus in the first place. I argue with the presupposition that it is possible to infer the true historical Jesus from a story that intentionally misrepresents him.
My response: I really don't know what your criteria is for what is and what is not reliable in the New Testament...it seems to me that you are just cherry picking the New Testament. Everything that supposedly supports your position is fine, everything else has to go, you cannot have your cake and eat it too, if anyone had the authority to cherry pick like you, we could arrive at thousands of different conslusions that the New Testament never meant to communicate.
Pro said: I did not establish its veracity in one hundred percent, to find out who historical Jesus was only on the basis of New Testament or the Fathers of the Church (who simply repeat established oral tradition). In fact my opening arguments (both in the Round One and Two) were that of historical evidence versus what the NT claims.
My response: If you really did "establish your case from the New Testament" then you wouldn't come to the conclusion that Jesus didn't claim to be God, or that Paul corrupted the message of Jesus, again this goes back to eenie meenie miney mo, i'll use this part of the New Testament, but the rest gotta go. It doesn't work like that. And also, if you really based your contentions on the Church Fathers, then do you believe Ignatius of Antioch who called Jesus Christ God? If not, then you just lied to me.
Pro said: Con only made appeals to authority of New Testament to determine who historical Jesus was and did not address my objections to the narration on the grounds of historical plausibility, e.g. that of the reason why Jesus was crucified.
My response: Why Jesus was crucified is not the topic of this debate, the only thing that needs to be proved is that Jesus was in fact crucified, which EVERY non-mythicist scholar considers to be the case, let me quote to you New Testament scholar Gerd Lüdemann, an Atheist: "Jesus' death as a consequence of crucifixion is indisputable."  You really expect me to doubt the crucifixion of Jesus based on the (ignorant) testimony of a disbeliving Jew like Maccoby over a New Testament specialist on the Crucifixion?
Pro said: The problem with arguing about virgin birth that was supposedly prophesized by Isaiah is that a Hebrew word meaning "young girl of marriageable age" was directly translated into Greek Septuagint as "virgin". (1) Whether this translation was permissible or not remains arguable.
My response: I am not here to debate whether or not Almah should be translated as "young maiden" or "virgin", that wasn't my point, my point was the early Christians belived it, and that the New Testament Gospels contain the story.
Pro said: As to the argument the Con makes in this case, it rests entirely on acceptation of the doctrine of the original sin, which Jews did not believe at the time. Neither I think there is any evidence that Ignatius' epistle gives credence to the argument that "it was necessary for Jesus to be born to a virgin so that he wouldn't inherit the sinful nature passed on through the father". In fact the doctrine of the original sin appeared much later, and Ignatius doesn't attribute the neccesity of virgin birth to sinless nature of Jesus. There can be serious doubt about the origins of this dogma.
My response: How exactly is pointing out the fact that Jews didn't believe in original sin relevant to this debate? We aren't debating the theology of Jews and Christians, this debate is on the Historical Jesus and whether or not Jesus actually taught what Christians believe today, so this comment is irrelevant. Secondly, Ignatius most certainly believe in the Virgin Birth, for what reason, again is irrelevant. Again, whether or not the Bible teaches original sin isn't going to work for or against me, so i'll just leave it at that.
Pro said: Moreover, curious silence about Jesus' supposed virgin birth in the earliest Christian writings (preceding Ignatius) casts another doubt on the validity of the dogma.
My response: Not sure what you mean by silence in Christian writings before Ignatius...Matthew and Luke were written decades before Ignatius even wrote his letter.
Pro said: Why would Jesus use third participle, instead of directly forgiving sins? There's one quite good answer: Jesus spoke those words just as if a priest would. I contend that it is not very logical to argue for the "authority" of priests to forgive sins (by God's grace of course, priests being a proxy) and claim at the same time Jesus' authority to do so implies his godly nature. It is not a direct proof of his godhood.
My response: Show me anywhere in the Bible except for in the case of Jesus that anyone OTHER than Yahweh forgives sins, its one thing to forgive someone for something they did against you, it's another thing to say that you can forgive sins committed against God, according to Micah 7:18-19, only God has that authority.
Pro said: Jesus even makes extraordinary claim of 'having been before Abraham was'. The important problem considered here is that God did take his prophets to heavens (Genesis 5:24, Second Kings 2:11) to stay in there, and sometimes to descend back to earthly world.
My response: This response is just pure desperation...Jesus didn't merely say that he used to be Jesus at some point in the past, went to heaven, then came back, he himself said that he existed eternally, that is what "I AM" means, which is where the tetragrammaton YHWH (the divine name) comes from, it means self existent, which in turn proves that Jesus claims to be uncreated.
Pro said: Jesus' claim was after resurrection and may as well have been interpolated. Judeochristians did also believe in his resurrection and ascension, but not in his godhood.
My response: Merely making the accusation that it was interpolated is not an argument against my position, provide me with your evidence if you are truthful, show me that earlier version don't contain the sayings and that later versions do, if you can't, then you have no evidence for your claim, and any claim without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.
Pro said: Even in the Gospel of Mark itself it is inadvertly implied Jesus was a very important figure to the God, but not God himself, which would be a blasphemy to the Jews
My response: Mark didn't think Jesus was God, are you serious? The author of Mark based his Gospel on the memoirs of the Apostle of Peter, Mark also knew Paul and was a cousin of Barnabas, an early Apostle. Peter taught the deity of Christ, Paul taught the deity of Christ, are you saying that Mark came up to them and said "wait a minute guys, Jesus is not God". This is simply absurd.
Mark presents a divine Jesus in the very first chapter:
"As it is written in the Prophets:
“Behold, I send My messenger before Your face,
Who will prepare Your way before You.”
“The voice of one crying in the wilderness:
'Prepare the way of the Lord;
'Make His paths straight.’”" (Mark 1:2-3)
Here the author of Mark takes Malachi 3:1 and Isaiah 40:3 that talks about a prophet preparing the way of The LORD (the divine name) and applies this passage to John the Baptist as the prophet preparing the way for Jesus. So right from the start, Jesus is identified as YHWH, the tetragrammton by Mark's Gospel.
Pro said: The most obvious quote used by Jesus to deny his godhood is in the story of rich man:
"And Jesus said to him, "Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone."
My response: Again read the passage carefully, Jesus never denied that he was good, he was simply asking the man a question, "why do you call me good?" No denial of being good by Jesus, he simply asked the question to make a point to someone who didn't believe he was God, continue reading and Jesus says if you want eternal life, be ready to die and follow me, showing you that Jesus thought he was the standard of good.
Pro said: The story of Thomas in particular may have been interpolated.
My response: I'm beginning to notice a pattern with Pro, anytime a Gospel passage presents Jesus as divine he simply says "well it may have been a later addition". Classical case of cherry picking. I will ask you again, show me the evidence that it is a later interpolation.
Pro said: Here I reject authority of the Gospels on the issue of Jesus "predicting his death" and purporting to die on the cross.
My response: Did you even bother reading the evidences that I provided as well as Michael Licona's evidence? This isn't something only believing scholars believe, unbelieving scholars believe it as well, simply basing your entire case on the works of an unbelieving Jew who isn't even a New Testmament scholar in the first place is irrational.
Pro said: Why would Jesus buy swords? The standard counterargument is that just two are not enough to fight Romans.
My response: Jesus makes it clear why he ordered his disciples to buy swords, not so that they would actually fight, but Jesus says "For that which is written must be accomplished by me..." and quotes Isaiah 53:12.
As far as Jesus saying "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me" he didn't say it because God has forsaken him, he simply said it to point his audeince to the 22nd Psalm. This is an example of a typological fulfillment, meaning that the Psalm may be referring to the one writing it, in this case David, in poetic terms, but ultimately find its literal fulfillment in the Messiah.
I'll respond to whatever I didn't get to in this rebuttal in my next rebuttal, as I am running out of room.
 Gerd Lüdemann. The Resurrection of Christ (Amherst, NY: Prometheus, 2004), p. 50
Con said: "I really don't know what your criteria is for what is and what is not reliable in the New Testament..."
Pro said: "My criteria for establishing what is reliable in the New Testament is primarily congruity with other sources, especially those historical i.e. Josephus."
My response: Really? Name one extra-biblical source that you used to prove that Jesus never claimed to be God nor did he predict his crucifixion...you didn't do it, all you did was appeal to Maccoby who isn't a New Testament scholar in the first place. He may have studied these issues a little bit, but he is not a scholar on this in any sense of term, only a student.
Pro said: "I presented historical evidence contrary to historical narration"
My response: No you didn't all I got from you was "well Maccoby theorizes this or Maccoby theorizes that". How is that Historical evidence? It isn't, it's merely conjecture of a Jew who doesn't believe Jesus is the Messiah in the first to try and cast doubt on Christianity without giving his evidence, just his opinions and theories that have no evidence.
Pro said: "Maccoby tried establishing different version of the story by the process of elimination of quotes that seemed biased / manipulated to him"
My response: Thank you for proving my point, you base your wild conclusions on the works of a man who only theorizes and puts forth conjecture that has no evidence, and in fact more evidence to refute him. If you can actually provide scholarly research that proves Maccoby's (false) claims, bring it here, i'll take a look at it.
Pro said: "I started this debate with the assumption that New Testament has been intentionally manipulated with (which is by no means a revolutionary or aggressive thesis to contemporary biblical scholars)"
My response: Yeah, seems like you forgot to say which "contemporary scholars" you are referring to, the scholars you are referring to are scholars who don't believe in the existence or God nor do they believe in the supernatural, so it is not surprising that they take a skeptical approach to the New Testament. But what you fail to say is that Believing scholars have long refuted all these worn out arguments against the New Testament, the unbeliving scholars just don't want to listen to what they have to say, so your view is very one-sided. Again, I just ask you, if you are going to throw out accusations like "the Bible has been tampered with" prove it, I don't have to prove that it hasn't been corrupted, you are the one making the claim. Just to cite to you a famous New Testament skeptic, Bart Ehrman, and what he says concerning the New Testament:
"The position I argue for in ‘Misquoting Jesus’ does not actually stand at odds with Prof. Metzger’s position that the essential Christian beliefs are not affected by textual variants in the manuscript tradition of the New Testament." 
So you can argue or try to prove all you want the the New Testament has been tampered with, but that will not prove that major Christian beliefs have been changed because of it.
Pro said: "it is Con's burden to prove it is wholly congruous, both with itself and external historical evidence."
My response: To do this would require more space than provided on this debate, but i'll just give you the short answer: if you just read the New Testament and allow the texts to speak for themselves and not try to force so called "inconsistencies" on the text where it doesn't exist, you will find that the New Testament is very consistent about who Jesus is, the purpose of his mission, his teachings, and his ministry on Earth. I recommend you reading the works/books of very smart believing scholars like Craig Evans, Craig Blomberg, Daniel Wallace, Darrell Bock, Michael Licona, and William Lane Craig (just to name a few). Again, I am not trying to evade this objection, it's just I can't fully respond to this with the limited space I have here. But the scholars I just listed do go into this objection in depth.
Pro said: "if I pose a serious argument as to the credulity of NT narration about the reason Jesus was crucified, then the rest of narration breaks like a chain as well. Therefore alternative hypotheses as to why such a narration would've been invented are permissible as long as my argument remains valid."
My response: What serious argument exaclty are you talking about, oh yeah let me guess, Maccoby says it right, therefore it must be true? Please, you're really starting to bore me, when will you base your conclusions on a serious scholars besides Maccoby who has ABSOLUTELY NO authority to talk about these matters, cite me Maccoby again and I will just ignore him, he is a charlatan of the first order. I don't say that to disrespect him, but he thinks that he could just come along with no credentials and attempt to discredit a faith he doesn't understand in the first place, i'm sorry, but this is just ludicrous. Maccoby just like you cherry picks what suits his interests from the New Testament, but anything in the New Testament that goes against his agenda to discredit my faith must not be reliable or just an invention by Paul, this is a tall tell sign that he is being very deceptive and not being fair with the New Testament. For more information exposing this charlatan refer to...
Pro said: "And again, NO, I do not rely on Ignatius' testimony claiming Jesus was God, just as I do not rely on Paul's - that much should be obvious since the last phase."
My response: LOL, I wonder why that is, is it because Maccoby told you so, or is it because you don't want Jesus to be God, take your pick, I know it is one of the two. It seems like nothing will convince you, you just want to force your liberal views on me.
Pro said: "HardRockHallelujah, you miss that completely. Hyam's hypothesis does contend that Jesus was crucified, but it questions the reasons for which he was crucified."
My response: They wanted him dead because they found his message a threat to their authority. Not only this, but many times he claims to be the Son of God, which the Jews wanted to kill him, because of blasphemy, what settled it for the High Priest was when he asked Jesus at his trial "Are you the Christ, the Son of the Living God" Jesus said "I am. And you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of power and coming with the clouds of heaven" (Mark 14:61-62) As for how the Jews understood his claim, there was no question, to them he committed blasphemy and they condemned him to death because of it. Any attempt to cast doubt on this event in Mark 14 is going to require hard evidence.
Pro said: "First of all, that's appeal to authority, which unfortunately for Con should backfire, for Gerd Lüdemann did claim much of sayings attributed to Jesus were falsifications."
My response: Oh, so you can appeal to Maccoby throughout the course of this debate, but the minute I cite a quote from someone, "hey don't do that". I am just really astonished at your hypocrisy and inconsistency. Well how about take your own advice and stop appealing to authority, namely Maccoby, who isn't even an authority to begin with.
I didn't appeal to him to prove the crucifixion, I merely cited him because he is a skeptic, yet he agrees with Christians on the crucifixion, which means he believes there is good evidence to support it.
Pro said: "(mind you that Hyam was a scholar studying Christian religious tradition as well)"
My response: Maccoby is no scholar, he is just a charlatan, he is not a scholar of Christianity in ANY SENSE of the term, just an ignorant bloke who is very confused, as I have already provided documentation that exposes his lies and deception. Typical case of a blind man (Maccoby) leading another blind man (yourself) astray. I wonder when you will cite anyone besides Maccoby that agrees with your unqualified assertions.
Pro said: "But Acts and Mark certainly were before Matthew and Luke."
My response: To say that Acts and Mark were "definitely" written before Matthew and Luke is to over-state your case. While it is true that scholars today consider that the Gospels were written in the order of Mark-Matthew-Luke-Acts-John, most scholars agree that aside from placing these documents in the 1st century, there is really no way to know exactly when they were written.
Pro said: "The prophecy was about Elijah being sent (Mal 4:5); John the Baptist flatly denied he's Elijah in John 1:21."
My response: Did Elijah prepare the way of YHWH in Isaiah 40:3 or the Lord God in Malachi 3:1, like the passages says? No, it was John the Baptist who prepared the way for YHWH, who appeared in the person of Christ. Malachi 4:5 is not the same context of Malachi 3:1, so you're just stretching things.
Pro said: "Thomas immediately claims Jesus to be God when seeing his stigma. Where's Thomas' own proof?"
My response: Very simple, he saw Jesus in his resurrected body and called him his God, Jesus never said "hey I am just a mere man" he actually praises Thomas for his confession.
Pro said: "I already responded to this when claiming none of the Gospels are trustworthy on the issue."
My response: Yeah, even if unbelieving Jesus scholars believe he predicted his death, it doesn't matter I don't think he did so that settles it for me. This is flat out nonsense.
Pro said: "I also urge Con not to use ad verecundiam."
My response: Take your own advice and stop appealing to Maccoby who is NOT a New Testament scholar.
Pro said: "That's the very issue I'm arguing about here - Jewish Messiah wasn't supposed to die but to free Israeli people from their physical oppression."
My response: The Jews were right, but they just got their timing wrong, the Tanakh has two pictures of the Messiah, as a Suffering Servant, and a conquering King. They are right, the Messiah is suppose to free Israeli people from oppression, that will happen at his second coming. His first coming was to fulfill the suffering servant predictions.
Con said: "Really? Name one extra-biblical source that you used to prove that Jesus never claimed to be God nor did he predict his crucifixion..."
I listed Josephus Flavius as one of sources which disprove biblical narration as to why Jesus was crucified, the rest simply follows. It all was listed in my "The process and death of Jesus" argument from Phase Two, to which you still haven't responded. I know Maccoby is not a scholar specializing in textual analysis nor that he's knowledgable about crucifixion - I use his arguments pertaining to other issue, namely comparison of Jesus' and Jews' beliefs.
From his argument it follows Jesus was essentially not in conflict with Pharisaic teachings - but Paul was. Again, my Phase Two argument - "Jesus the Pharisee?", and Mt 5:17-20 from Sermon of the Mount stand in sharp contrast with what Paul claimed about the Law - it was all outlined there.
Con said: "No you didn't all I got from you was (...)"
My argument obviously didn't only mention Maccoby; his works are auxiliary to my argument. Neither do I claim Maccoby's arguments are purely "historical evidence" - they involve a lot textual deliberation. One of such arguments was that the Pharisees are misrepresented in the Gospels, voiced by E.P. Sanders or Roger Amos.
Con said: "Thank you for proving my point, you base your wild conclusions on the works of a man who only theorizes and puts forth conjecture that has no evidence (...)"
The evidence rests on his knowledge and arguments about historical Jews. I could argue the same things even without Maccoby, only relying on Josephus' testimonies and other accounts of historical Pharisees. The conjecture works this way: if Pharisees are really misrepresented in the Gospels (and if they had no reason to ask Romans to help to kill Jesus), then someone had intentionally misrepresented Jesus' story.
Con said: "But what you fail to say is that Believing scholars have long refuted all these worn out arguments against the New Testament (...)"
I actually failed to find any good argument against thesis that Pharisees have been misrepresented. Even Christian scholars often agree on that. I also never witnessed a Christian who would explain why is it that Bible whitewashes Romans, overshadows their conflict with the Jews, why Jesus was crucified by the Romans in the first place (giving me the usual "because bloodthirsty Jews wanted to and the Romans had to comply because they would blackmail the poor prosecutor" won't work for me). I seldom even have a chance to get to the fun part, namely what crucifixion was all about: reserved only for the worst criminals - enemies of the state and rebels, executed to deteriorate such acts and publicly shame the convicts. I never get to ask why people think crucifixion convicts would be given such a luxury like grave, since the Romans had to put them to shame - their bodies would be cast for forces of nature to cause it to decay.
Con said: "(...) the unbeliving scholars just don't want to listen to what they have to say, so your view is very one-sided."
Don't consider them or yourself unbiased or "non-one-sided". I cannot agree that you're doing a better job by believing the Word as it is, and instead demanding of unbelievers to prove Gospels wrong, onus probandi is yours. I never had any proof that a "custom" to free prisoners on special occasions ever existed in Israel / Jerusalem, as claim authors of all four Gospels, for example. To the contrary, Josephus claims Pilate was ignorant of Jewish customs and practices - and even then, he, a scholar and historian didn't attest it!
Why do I bring in this issue? Because it is cheap propaganda used to demonize the "bloodthirsty Jewish crowd" wanting a murderer parolled more than Jesus. It intentionally presents the situation as if they (the unnamed they) loathed him so much that a criminal or Roman state to begin with. The authors even have courage to put ""His blood shall be on us and on our children!" in their mouths. And it is my problem to get historical evidence against THAT?
As you can see in Phase Two, I already listed this argument. You ignored this only to argue about virgin birth and other less important matters. (also ignoring my reminder that this discussion is about the reasons why Jesus was crucified since that has a lot to do with internal consistency of Gospels' narration)
Con said: "I don't have to prove that it hasn't been corrupted, you are the one making the claim."
I already made my claims and presented arguments. As to whether someone can truly prove whether Gospels were corrupted only basing on Gospels themselves - I highly doubt that. But one can prove their narration is inconsistent with history, our knowledge about groups which supposedly opposed Jesus and so on. One can unmask internal inconsistency of story made too complicated with inventions and "bones of old narrative jutting out of new" as Hyam puts it, to supply alternative theories.
Con said: "Not only this, but many times he claims to be the Son of God (...) As for how the Jews understood his claim, there was no question (...) Any attempt to cast doubt on this event in Mark 14 is going to require hard evidence."
Here it goes, my favourite argument. But this time, we change rules. You prove me that Jews would take offence at that statement. You do research and find what "Son of God" possibly meant to Jews. Take a role of Christian apologist and defend the view that narrative of Jews persecuting Jesus for that statement was plausible.
Con said: "Oh, so you can appeal to Maccoby throughout the course of this debate, but the minute I cite a quote from someone, "hey don't do that". I am just really astonished at your hypocrisy and inconsistency."
I don't point to some general quote-mined statement by someone and rely on their authority. I linked you two whole texts of claims and arguments Maccoby makes. I don't quote-mine some Christian authors' opinions, who have different views than you, to embarass you.
You're becoming passive-aggressive since the last phase Pro, stop snapping at me unless you want to get worse scores for tone of dicussion.
Con said: "Take your own advice and stop appealing to Maccoby who is NOT a New Testament scholar."
Again, I did not claim he was. But he was a scholar - of Jewish history, of both Jewish and Christian religious customs.
Con said: "For more information exposing this charlatan refer to..."
Is that meant to say you consider that article by tektonics unbiased? So then they too, "pick and choose", ignoring bulk of information Hyam introduced.
(I ignored some of your text and won't respond to it because it was mostly just snapping at me with "did Hyam made you think that"? or calling Hyam a charlatan - no, an article from tektonics that doesn't exhaustingly debate him and one which dismisses most of his other claims as "irrelevant footnotes" is not enough for me. On few things which I did not respond to you were either right or there's no sense in discussing them further.)
This phase was for me to provide both mine and Hyam's objections to Paul, so here it goes.
"And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law; 21 To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law." (1st letter to Corinthians, 9:21-22)
Here we have Paul admitting he's been intentionally acting as an orthodox Jew to some, and a Gentile to others. Note that he implies the "old law", Law of Moses, not longer needs to abide under supposed "law to Christ".
Then, we have this curious fragment from Acts, 5:33-37, where Gamaliel rises to defend Christians. Why then Paul, a student of Gamaliel, would rise to persecute Christian, in an alleged Pharisaic zeal, back when he was supposed to be a Pharisee? More curiously, why Paul claims he was a Pharisee and temple enforcer / guard, when these were primarily occupied with Saducees favorable to Romans, who had the power to appoint them?
Hyam outright states:
"1 Paul was never a Pharisee rabbi, but was an adventurer of undistinguished background. He was attached to the Sadducees, as a police officer under the authority of the High Priest, before his conversion to belief in Jesus. His mastery of the kind of learning associated with the Pharisees was not great. He deliberately misrepresented his own biography in order to increase the effectiveness of missionary activities."
What proof do we have? First of all, that temple enforcers were unlikely to be Pharisees. Second - that Pharisees were not as likely to kill Christians in fact - or not all of them. But then, Luke's account of Paul having been a student of Gamaliel would be an obvious lie.
Then, my final points from Maccoby, the "alternate hypothesis" which I challege Con to contest on any grounds, not only biblical which cannot be a proof for themselves; the six points Maccoby makes. Out of those, answers to 1-4 interest me the most. (1)
I find it that there's not enough space here to exhaust the subject so I'll end here. I will review article from tektonics in detail, but not here.
Moreover, I want to address just one more issue. Con, I ask you to seriously read into (1) and (2) and answer those arguments. I was asking only for that ever since this debate was created by me, and all I've got from you was either snapping at me or Maccoby and an article from tektonics that doesn't explain a lot issues Maccoby pointed out.. I find this debate unsatisfactory since it was mostly exegesis and not addressing of most important issues of historical validity of reasons for which Jesus was supposedly crucified.
Pro asserted that Josephus "refutes" the Christian narrative about why Jesus was crucified
My response: Well, that shows me that you haven't even bothered to read what Josephus said:
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" 
Josephus, being a hostile witness says that Jesus performed deeds that people took as miraculous, he was a teacher, and was condemned to death for his teachings, all of which the Gospels say, so I don't know what you are trying to prove from Josephus.
Pro assserted that Paul had a negative view of the law.
My response: It seems to me that Pro hasn't even bothered to read any of Paul's letters, Paul never said the law was bad, what he did say was that the law exposed our inability to do the law perfectly, which is why we needed Christ to redeem us, here is the proof:
"Therefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good. Has then what is good become death to me? Certainly not! But sin, that it might appear sin, was producing death in me through what is good, so that sin through the commandment might become exceedingly sinful." (Romans 7:12-13)
So to say that Paul had a radically different view from Jesus on the Law is to ignore the context of Paul's letters and/or to ignore what he actually says.
Pro asserted that if pharisees are misrepresented in the Gospels, then someone deliberately distorted the Jesus story.
My response: Again, where is the evidence for this assertion? Simply saying that the pharisees were misrepresented in the Gospels isn't good enough, give me your evidence.
Pro asserted that the Bible whitewashes the Romans, overshadows their conflict with the Jews, and why Jesus was crucified.
My response: I'm not following what your point is...what do you mean by whitewashing? You haven't given me an example of this. Also, making bogus claims like "the Bible overshadows the Romans conflicts with the Jews" is an unqualified assertion, again if you're going to make an assertion, you better present your evidence, which I got non from you. As far as why the Romans crucified Jesus, I already explained that, but for some reason, you don't like what I have to say, or you just simply ignored me.
Pro asserted that "I cannot agree that you're doing a better job by believing the Word as it is, and instead demanding of unbelievers to prove Gospels wrong, onus probandi is yours."
My response: How do you expect me to prove the Gospels for you when there are no other 1st century documents that tell us about what Jesus said? I go by what the earliest Historical evidence says about Jesus, namely the Gospels, you on the other hand accuse the Gospels of distorting the message of Jesus, while at the same time pick and choose what appeals to your interests, very inconsistent. You operate under the assumption of "guilty until proven innocent". It's actually the other way around..."innocent until proven guilty" which you haven't gave a shred of evidence of the Gospel writers lying about Jesus, just "well I don't like that".
Pro asserted that "As you can see in Phase Two, I already listed this argument. You ignored this only to argue about virgin birth and other less important matters. (also ignoring my reminder that this discussion is about the reasons why Jesus was crucified since that has a lot to do with internal consistency of Gospels' narration)
My response: The reason I mentioned the virgin birth because it was relevant to this topic, namely does the earliest evidence we have about the Historical Jesus teach everything that Christians believe today, and I brought that up to prove the virgin birth wasn't a later invention. Again, I already answered why Jesus was crucified, you still haven't answered that.
Pro said "One can unmask internal inconsistency of story made too complicated with inventions and "bones of old narrative jutting out of new" as Hyam puts it, to supply alternative theories."
My response: You can come up with 1 alternate theory, you can come up with 10 alternate theories, you can come up with 100s of alternate theories; I couldn't careless, simply saying "well other alternatives are possible" is just a theory, that has no basis in reality unless you can prove it with sources that talk about the life of Jesus from the 1st century, which you have failed to do so.
Pro said "well, prove it to me that the Jews in the 1st century found it blasphemy to claim to be the Son of God"
My response: I think I know what you're getting at...Son of God doesn't necessarily mean you're God, since others were called the Son of God. The difference with Jesus is that when he claimed to be the Son, he did so in a more exalted sense, for example:
So the Jewish leaders began persecuting Jesus, because he kept doing such things on the Sabbath. But Jesus answered them, “My Father has been working until now, and I, too, am working.” So the Jewish leaderswere trying all the harder to kill him, because he was not only breaking the Sabbath but was also calling God his own Father, thereby making himself equal to God.
There is your answer...notice the way Jesus talks, he is accused of working on the sabbath, and his response to their charge is "well, my Father is working, therefore, I have that same authority to do so". The Jews understood that by calling God his own Father and claiming to do things that the Father does, Jesus was making himself equal to God. Which is why the text says the Jews wanted to kill him for claiming to be the Son of God, in the sense that he is equal to God.
Pro said "You're becoming passive-aggressive since the last phase Pro, stop snapping at me unless you want to get worse scores for tone of dicussion."
My response: You think that I am somehow mad because I am answering you? So I can't emphatically respond to you, without giving you the impression that I am mad because I am defending what I believe? This is a debate for crying out loud...not a campfire where we are all friends and sing "we are a happy family". This is a debate, if you can't handle your views being challenged or can't handle the pressure, then maybe debating is not for you. Accusing me of being mad proves what exactly?
Pro said "Is that meant to say you consider that article by tektonics unbiased? So then they too, "pick and choose", ignoring bulk of information Hyam introduced."
My response: Is that meant to say you consider that Maccoby to be unbiased? So then, he too picks and choses what suits himself from the New Testament, and ignores what doesn't suit his agenda. Ignoring Maccoby's claims? No serious scholar considers Maccoby to be an authority on what he is attacking, only people who want a reason to not believe in Jesus appeal to him, like yourself. And quite the contrary, Maccoby is ignoring a majority of the New Testament, and takes Paul's statements out of context to give us the impression that we can't trust Paul.
Pro appealed to 1 Corinthians 9:21-22 as his "proof" that Paul abolished the law.
My response: Again, Pro has completely manhandled the words of Paul, Paul did not say "no more law", the point he was trying to get at is that even though that we are saved, it is expected to live lives of righteousness, doing good works, even though this doesn't save you, but it is expected that you live lives of righteousness and doing good works, which included the law and the commandments, even though some of the restrictions of the law were removed, the law altogether wasn't, here is proof from Paul:
"Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law." (Romans 3:28)
"Do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law." (Romans 3:31)
Paul is very clear, the law doesn't save you, but he never abolished it, so stop trying to accuse Paul of doing something he never inteded to do.
Pro asserted that Paul lied about who he really was, because if he was a pharisee, then why was he persecuting Christians. He also said that "Paul being a student of Gamaliel is an obvious lie".
My response: Whether Paul was who he claimed to be or not, is not relevant to this debate, we aren't debating the credentials of Paul, we are debating whether or not what Christians believe was taught by Jesus, and on whether or not the early Christians misunderstood what Jesus said, so this point isn't really relevant to this discussion.
Pro finally said "answer the questions that the articles I have you raise".
My response: Why is it that I have to do so, when you didn't do the exact same thing to the articles I provided you, all you did was dismiss them, so I will be like you and do the same, I dismiss every rubbish article that you give me, this debate is not about appealing to authority, it's about establishing your case from historical evidence which you haven't done so.
Conclusion: To wrap things up, I thank pro for this debate, but I got to be up front, I was very disappointed with the way he handled this debate. I clearly demonstrated that everything Christians believe is taught by Jesus in the earliest sources we have on his life: his deity, his death on the cross for our sins, and his resurrection from the dead. All of these teachings, I demonstrated were taught by Jesus, he taught his deity, he taught that he came to die for sins, and he taught his resurrection, this was also the teachings of his earliest followers. All pro could do in response was say "those were later inserted" or "they were invented by Paul". If he wants to believe that, that's fine, but he can't do so on the basis of evidence. All of our earliest historical evidence proves that Jesus claimed to be God, claimed to die for our sins, and claimed he would rise again.