Jesus of Nazareth Did Not Exist
I will be arguing that that statement "Jesus of Nazareth did not exist" is false, and that Jesus of Nazareth did exist. My opponent will be arguing that Jesus of Nazareth did not exist.
I would also like to thank Pro for accepting this debate.
Round 1: Acceptance
Round 2: Opening Arguments
Round 3: Rebuttals
Round 4: Conclusion
Even though I am a Christian, I think for the sole purpose of this debate, I will sort-of argue from a neutral position, so my opponent and I can have a little bit of flexibility and analysis from each other.
A Brief Summary of the Datum:
Secular and Extra-Biblical Sources for Jesus of Nazareth outside the New Testament[1]:
Ancient Historians and Scholars have corroborated at most 17 sources for Jesus outside the NT. 9 of them are within 150 years of Jesus existence. I will go ahead and list just some of them here below in order to save room.
“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 tribes of Christians so named from him are not extinct at this day." Antiquities XVIII, 3:2
Here is the other Reference to Jesus of Nazareth, as well has his brother James, who was Bishop of Jerusalem, during the 1st century.
So [Ananus] assembled a council of judges, and brought before it the brother of Jesus, the so-called Christ, whose name was James, together
with some others, and having accused them as lawbreakers, he delivered them over to be stoned." Antiquities XX 9:1
"Christus, the founder of the [Christian] 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, by through the city of
Rome also." Annals XV, 44
"What advantage did the Athenians gain from putting Socrates to death? Famine and plague came upon them as a judgment for their crime. What advantage did the men of Samos gain from burning Pythagoras? In a moment their land was covered with sand. What advantage did the Jews gain from executing their wise King? It was just after that their kingdom was abolished. God justly avenged these three wise men: The Athenians died of hunger. The Samians were overwhelmed by the sea. The Jews, ruined and driven from their land, live in complete dispersion. But Socrates did not die for good. He lived on in the teachings of Plato. Pythagoras did not die for good. He lived on in the statue of Hera. Nor did the wise King die for good. He lived on in the teaching which He had given.
“The Christians, you know, worship a man to this day- the distinguished personage who introduced their novel rites, and was crucified on that account... It was impressed on them by their original lawgiver that they are all brothers from the moment they are converted and deny the gods of Greece, and worship the crucified sage, and live after his laws..." The Death of Peregrinus 11-13
Early Church Fathers:
There couldn’t have been early Church Fathers if Jesus of Nazareth did not exist. Their accounts also verify the Bible in the New Testament and Old Testament, as they refer to him as a real historical figure. I will just list one since I don’t have enough room.
What do Historians and or New Testament Scholars Say about Jesus of Nazareth? :
Justin Martyr (100-165 A.D.) - possibly the most well-known early Christian apologist, was an educated pagan philosopher who converted to Christianity around 130 A.D. Though he risked losing his wealth, status, and life, Justin fearlessly spread Christianity throughout Asia Minor and Rome.
"There is a village in Judea, thirty-five stadia from Jerusalem, where Jesus Christ was born, as you can see from the tax registers under Cyrenius, your first procurator in Judea..”
Jesus of Nazareth is not disputed amongst virtually any historian and New Testament Scholar. The only exception would be Robert M. Price and Richard Carrier. I will give a list of what Historians and New Testament Scholars say about Jesus of Nazareth.
Bart Ehrman (a secular agnostic) wrote: "He certainly existed, as virtually every competent scholar of antiquity, Christian or non-Christian, agrees" B. Ehrman, 2011 Forged : writing in the name of God.
Michael Grant (a classicist) states that "In recent years, 'no serious scholar has ventured to postulate the non- historicity of Jesus' or at any rate very few, and they have not succeeded in disposing of the much stronger, indeed very abundant, evidence to the contrary." in Jesus by Michael Grant 2004.
Richard A. Burridge states: "There are those who argue that Jesus is a figment of the Church’s imagination, that there never was a Jesus at all. I have to say that I do not know any respectable critical scholar who says that any more." in Jesus Now and Then by Richard A. Burridge and Graham Gould (Apr 1, 2004)
James D. G. Dunn, Jesus Remembered, 2003 page 339. states of baptism and crucifixion that these "two facts in the life of Jesus command almost universal assent".
John Dominic Crossan ( A former Catholic priest, and NT Scholar) states: "That he was crucified is as sure as anything historical can ever be, since both Josephus and Tacitus...agree with the Christian accounts on at least that basic fact." Jesus: A Revolutionary Biography. HarperOne. p. 145.
Robert E. Van Voorst, Jesus Outside the New Testament: An Introduction to the Ancient Evidence Eerdmans Publishing, 2000. ISBN 0-8028-4368-9 page 16 states: "biblical scholars and classical historians regard theories of non-existence of Jesus as effectively refuted"
Graham Stanton, The Gospels and Jesus by, 1989 ISBN 0192132415 Oxford University Press, page 145 states : "Today nearly all historians, whether Christians or not, accept that Jesus existed".
“Many scholars agree that Jesus debated with fellow Jews on how best to live according to God's will, engaged in healings and exorcisms, taught in parables, gathered male and female followers in Galilee, went to Jerusalem, and was crucified by Roman soldiers during the governorship ofPontius Pilate" The Historical Jesus in Context edited by Amy-Jill Levine et al. Princeton Univ Press ( Princeton University is a liberal College, which means that Historians and scholars are very critical of the Bible).
Although there isn’t a whole lot of archaeological evidence for Jesus of Nazareth, we do have enough to get by.
Shroud of Turin- Burial Cloth that dates from 300 B.C. to 400 A.D. Has the appearance of a man crucified the exact same way Jesus was. Confirmed by Scientific Testing.
Thanks to my opponent for initiating the debate. Nobody can prove or disprove the existence of Jesus or any other historical figure in the ancient world. There 2.1 billion believers of not only Jesus of Nazareth’s existence but of his divinity, additionally another 1.5 billion Muslim view Jesus as a prophet. The majority of historians view Jesus as a figure who had a great impact in the world without having to verify the miracles. I'll have uphill battle justify that there's not enough evidence to prove Jesus of Nazareth existed. Let’s begin.
1. There was insufficient time for legendary influences to expunge the historical facts. The Gospels(Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) were written by the 1st and 2nd hand sources of Jesus, and they were written within the 1st century from 20-70 years after they lived with him.
The Gospels were not written by the apostles, they had unknown authors written after some of the apostles would have died. The earliest surviving complete copies of the gospels date to the 4th century and because only fragments and quotations exist before that, scholars use higher criticism to propose likely ranges of dates for the original gospel autographs.
Matthew: Composed between 70 and 110, with most scholars preferring the period 80–90. “The Gospel of Matthew is anonymous: the author is not named within the text, nowhere does he claim to have been an eyewitness to events, and the superscription "according to Matthew" was not part of the first editions.”
Mark: The Gospel According to Mark does not name its author. According to the majority view, the author is an otherwise unknown figure, who's use of varied sources telling against the traditional account. The gospel was written in Greek, probably around AD 60–70, possibly in Syria.
Luke: The author is traditionally identified as Luke the Evangelist. Modern scholarship generally rejects the view that Luke was the original author, with the most that could be said being that Lukan authorship is "not impossible" Traditional Christian scholarship has dated the composition of the gospel to the early 60s, while other critics date it to the later decades of the 1st century.
John: The gospel identifies its author as "the disciple whom Jesus loved." Although the text does not name this disciple, by the beginning of the 2nd century a tradition had begun to form which identified him with John the Apostle. Although some notable New Testament scholars affirm traditional Johannine scholarship,the majority do not believe that John or one of the Apostles wrote it, and trace it instead to a "Johannine community" which traced its traditions to John; the gospel itself shows signs of having been composed in three "layers", reaching its final form about 90–100 AD.
2. The gospels are not analogous to folk tales or contemporary "urban legends.
plural noun: folktales
We can agree that before the Gospels were written they passed around communities by word of mouth. Biblical scholarsgenerally agree that early oral traditions about Jesus, along with collections of accounts, preceded the canonical gospels. Even you admit that they were written at least 20-70 years after Jesus death which would be even longer for accounts of Jesus’ birth which the Apostle’s were not around to view firsthand.
3. The Jewish transmission of sacred traditions was highly developed and reliable.
This is highly subjective. This is the same community that largely denied the divinity of Jesus. Christianity grew in largely non Jewish countries. I assume you are unaware that the ancient Hebrew scripts were edited and rewritten many times.
4. There were significant restraints on the embellishment of traditions about Jesus, such as the presence of eyewitnesses and the apostles’ supervision
Do you know that there are gospels that never made the cut to cannon? What we have now are Gospels deemed to be inspired by God opposed to the others that aren’t. http://en.wikipedia.org...
5. The Gospel writers have a proven track record of historical reliability.
Like what? Only Christians believe the miracles.
Secular and Extra-Biblical Sources for Jesus of Nazareth outside the New Testament
1. Josephus- (37-100A.D.) He was a historian that was born in Jerusalem and apparently was unaware of who Jesus was until later in life. His work Antiquities of the Jews (c. 94) is the oldest mention about Jesus outside the Christian community. Please note that he is not an eyewitness and never adopted Christianity. This lends credibility to Christianity because it isn’t a biased Christian. He wrote about Christians 9+ decades after Jesus’ supposed birth and 6+ decades from his alleged death. He was a good historian about things he viewed firsthand but otherwise wasn’t a very skeptical one. He outlines Jewish history beginning with the creation, as passed down through Jewish historical tradition. Abraham taught science to the Egyptians, who, in turn, taught the Greeks and so one. None of which is considered history.
Josephus did write about Jesus and Christianity but not much. Antiquities of the Jews includes two references to Jesus in Books 18 and 20 and a reference to John the Baptist in Book 18. The general scholarly view is that while theTestimonium Flavianum is most likely not authentic in its entirety, it is broadly agreed upon that it originally consisted of an authentic nucleus with a reference to the execution of Jesus by Pilate which was then subject to Christian interpolation. There is reason to believe that Christians took his writings and rewrote them to fit a more positive narrative about Jesus and Christianity. The references found in Antiquities have no parallel texts in the other work by Josephus such as theJewish War, written 20 years earlier.
The works of Josephus refer to at least twenty different people with the name Jesus, and in chapter 9 of Book 20, there is also a reference to Jesus son of Damneus who was a High Priest of Israel but is distinct from the reference to "Jesus called Christ." They also refer to a crucifixion in three passages found in Josephus' Antiquities, this passage, if authentic, would offer the most direct support for the crucifixion of Jesus. The general scholarly view is that while the Testimonium Flavianum is most likely not authentic in its entirety, it originally consisted of an authentic nucleus with a reference to the execution of Jesus by Pilate which was then subject to interpolation.
So what we have is that Josephus is a non-Christian historian that is not subjective regarding the validity of historical claims from his faith. He mentions 20 guys named Jesus in his works. He mentions Christians and Jesus whom they called Christ. Might I mention he never believed the religious claims and he never saw anything firsthand. He would have been an adult by the time 20 years passed any of this happening. He is the closest thing Christian’s have to an objective eyewitness account to Jesus and the Guy would only be able to talk about what people said Jesus did. Also it is widely believed his work was compromised and many passages are not clear whether to which Jesus they refer to.
Shroud of Turin- In 1978, a detailed examination carried out by a team of American scientists, called the Shroud of Turin Research Project (STURP), found no reliable evidence of how the image was produced. In 1988 a radiocarbon dating testwas performed on small samples of the shroud. The laboratories at the University of Oxford, the University of Arizona, and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology concurred that the samples they tested dated from the Middle Ages, between 1260 and 1390. There are no definite historical records concerning the shroud prior to the 14th century. Although there are numerous reports of Jesus' burial shroud, or an image of his head, of unknown origin, being venerated in various locations before the 14th century, there is no historical evidence that these refer to the shroud currently at Turin Cathedral.
I do not have enough Characters to refute all your claims properly. If I was in the Pro position I should be the one making them and you negating them. Otherwise the debate could have been worded “Jesus of Nazareth Esixted” and you could have placed the same arguments. Regardless now it’s time for my claims.
There are 3 possibilities:
A. Jesus existed
A1. Jesus was divine.
A2. Jesus was an ordinary man.
B. Jesus did not exist
B1. He is mythological.
B2. He existed but not as described. (eg. there might be a Jesus like figure in the past)
I’m here to argue for possibility B. If we find a “body of Christ” from around 30 ad then this is evidence for Possibility A2 but not A1. No body is a possibility for all of them but evidence for him existing can only prove A. Lack of evidence is not proof against necessarily. All Con has to do is prove that Jesus was alive the same way we would accept say Julius Caesar and my arguments are defeated.
There is not 1 date about Jesus that is not debatable.
1. Nobody has a reliable date for Jesus’ birth, (Dec. 25th year 1 wasn’t it BTW)
2. His date of death is also unknown.
3. The Gospels have ranges not dates.
We have nothing dating to during Jesus’ life as a written source.
1. All the gospels written decades after death (none credited as written by eyewitnesses)
2. Paul never met Jesus.(Some claim his conversion story is propaganda)
3. Josephus never met Jesus. (His works appears tampered with as well)
4. The Gospels are of unknown origin and all written decades after his death.
5. No historian that was an eyewitness has ever surfaced. Every source is 2nd hand post death info.
So we should not expect any contemporary records for a historical figure with a high profile for the following reason.
1. All records are lost.
2. He existed and was not well known until after his death.
3. He did not exist.
janetsanders733 forfeited this round.
abelsmack forfeited this round.
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