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Jesus of Nazareth: Fact or Fiction?

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 8/16/2014 Category: Religion
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,310 times Debate No: 60534
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (14)
Votes (2)




I will be taking the Pro side that Jesus of Nazareth actually existed as a historical figure in antiquity. My opponent will take the opposition and claim he never did exist. I would also like to thank my opponent for accepting this debate.

*Note: This debate will not be about who was Jesus of Nazareth. It only seeks to argue whether or not he existed as a real figure in history.*

Round 1: Acceptance
Round 2: Opening Argument
Round 3: Rebuttal
Round 4: Conclusion
Debate Round No. 1


As a preface, I will not have enough time or room to list all the evidence for Jesus since there is so much. I will basically give just a brief overview of the main points that historians and scholars who have researched the historical Jesus believe. I will also shorten some of the quotations on Jesus to save room but cite my sources.


Historians of Classics(Ancient history from the 1st century and up) and New Testament scholars, have come to a unanimous consensus that there was a historical Jesus that lived during the early first century. Now before my opponent or the voter cry foul, I would like to note that I am in no way citing a consensus as proof for the existence of Jesus. But what a Consensus does show is that academics must have good reasons and evidence for believing what they are proposing. If virtually all biologists agree that evolution happened; that isn’t proof that they’re correct. But what that is proof is that there must be very good evidence and reasons for thinking evolution as a theory is true. The same can be said about the existence of a historical Jesus of Nazareth.

Biblical Sources:

The New Testament is composed of 27 books which contain a lot of information about the historical Jesus.

Paul: Paul the apostle wrote about the historical Jesus of Nazareth in his epistles. Historians and scholars agree that 8 out of 12 of Paul’s epistles are his and they are the earliest Christian documents we have for Jesus. They are believed to have been written around early AD 50. Below I will list lines of evidence to show that Paul was not only thinking of Jesus as divine but also as a real human being:

Jesus is both God and Man (Phillipians 2:5)

Jesus is the seed of King-David (Romans 1:3)

Paul meets with Jesus’ brother James and Jesus’ closest disciple Peter(Galatians 1:18-20)

Jesus was born under a Woman (Galatians 4:4)

Jesus was a servant to the circumcised (Romans 15:8)

Jesus was betrayed and had instituted a memorial of bread and wine (1 Corinthians 23-25)

Jesus was crucified (Galatians 1)

Jesus is Crucified, Buried, and Raised from the Dead. He appeared to Peter, James and Paul himself (1 Cor. 15)

The Gospels+Acts[3][4][5[6]:

There are many other accounts of Jesus’ life outside the NT that didn’t make it into the Cannon and for good reason. However, the 4 main ones we have (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) did make it into the cannon because they are the earliest and our primary sources for the life of Jesus of Nazareth. All 4 Gospels are written toward the middle-end of the first century. Mark being the earliest gospel, sets the stage for Jesus’ biography that the other 3 pick up on. As L. Michael White, a professor of Classics and a NT scholars says:
“Mark's is the first of the written gospels. It's really the one that establishes... the life of Jesus as a story form. It develops a narrative from his early career, through ...the main points of his life and culminat[es] in his death. And, as such, it sets the pattern for all the later gospel traditions.”

Matthew and Luke then take Mark as a source as well as both use independent sources(L-Source for Luke and M-Source for Mark) when writing their gospels about Jesus. Luke uses a Hellenistic style of Greek to write about Jesus. In other words, Luke is presenting his narrative as a historical narrative that is on par like that of secular Hellenistic literature. The same can be said about Acts. The same author of Luke is also the same author of Acts and was very well-versed with the culture and people and places/events in his day.

Crucified Messiah[7]?

Probably the best and strongest argument for Jesus of Nazareth’s existence would be his crucifixion. As you will see below, I demonstrate the historical evidence from secular sources about Jesus regarding his execution, but I will also demonstrate why this is a big problem for Jews as well as mythicists. The truth is that there was no such thing as a crucified Messiah. The Messiah, was going to be like King-David and overthrow Israel’s enemies (Rome). The Messiah was also going to establish God’s kingdom on earth. Jesus was not only executed by the Romans but did not bring the Kingdom of God in the way the Jewish people were expecting. So basically a crucified Messiah was a contradiction in terms. It only makes sense if there was a figure behind this who actually existed.

Greco-Roman and Jewish Sources[10]:

There are tons of extra-biblical sources for Jesus of Nazareth; whether Christian or Non-Christian. However, I will only go through a few to save space.

Tacitus: Tacitus was the Roman historian during the late first century and early second century. Tacitus has a great reputation of providing excellent and accurate history of Rome during the first century. He also provided a great deal of information on Germanic Tribes. In his Annals (Historical work written 109 AD), he describes Christianity as being a superstitious cult that spread through parts of Judea and Rome. It is here that Tacitus mentions the execution of Jesus under Pontius Pilate and him being the founder of Christianity. Here is the passage:

Christus, the founder of the name, had undergone the death penalty in the reign of Tiberius, by sentence of the procurator Pontius Pilatus,29 and the pernicious superstition was checked for a moment, only to break out once more, not merely in Judaea, the home of the disease, but in the capital itself, where all things horrible or shameful in the world collect and find a vogue.”

Josephus: Jewish historian, who lived during the middle and end of the first-century. Most famous for his Antiquities of the Jews, which was written in 93 A.D. Josephus mentions Jesus twice. The first passage is most likely an original that was later interpolated or glossed over that mentioned Jesus. The second passage however is wholly authentic. It is the second one I will use. Josephus mentions the execution of Jesus’ brother James(I shortened the quotation because it is so long):

“Festus was now dead, and Albinus was but upon the road; so he assembled the sanhedrim of judges, and brought before them the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James, and some others.”

Mara Bar Serapion: Stoic philosopher who lived in the end of the first century. He wrote a letter to his son from prison. He possibly writes about Jesus in this passage here. 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 and the Jews, desolate and driven from their own kingdom, live in complete dispersion. But Socrates is not dead, because of Plato; neither is Pythagoras, because of the statue of Juno; nor is the wise king, because of the "new law" he laid down.”

Historical-Critical Method[7][8][9] :

Below, I will describe the methods that historians and scholars use in studying the historical Jesus that not only confirm his existence, but also can provide a lot of details about his life.

Source Tradition: Seeks to determine the sources used to develop the final form of the biblical text. Asks: “Where did the text come from?” “Who wrote the Text?” How reliable is the text?” “ What are the source(s) used behind this text?” etc.

Form Criticism: A method that is used to determine a genre of text to better help understand the social/political and historical background of the text.

Oral Tradition: Process of passing down information via word of mouth in absence of writing from one generation to another. Was commonly used in the ancient world.



[2] Paul’s Epistles(Already cited within argument)




[6] [7]







I do apologize for this opening, I had this already prepared and it seems I've gone over the allotted character limit but I'm sure this will be a good debate. The task to disprove the existence of Jesus is a tough one, one that current biblical scholars like Bart Ehrman currently hold the position that there likely was a historical Jesus. The Talmud says Jesus was stoned to death, not crucified, and executed by the Jews and not the Romans, was in custody for 40 days not a single night, and was charged for practicing magic and enticing other people to following other gods and not for blasphemy. This isn"t what the gospels recorded what happened to this Jesus, yet those passages is the best that scholars have outside the NT. Granted there are other secular sources mentioning a Jesus but these were given by later followers of Jesus known as Christians, which were at best hearsay - not firsthand eye witness accounts. Also, some of these reports given by Christians were likely fabricated as well. As an example of fabricated reports we have the Jewish historian Josephus where he supposedly writes about a Jesus in such a way to support the account. Scholars like Bart Ehrman have commented on this stating "The problems with this passage should be obvious to anyone with even a casual knowledge of Josephus. He was thoroughly and ineluctably Jewish and certainly never converted to be a follower of Jesus. But this passage contains comments that only a Christian would make: that Jesus was more than a man, that he was the messiah, and that he arose from the dead in fulfillment of the scriptures. In the judgment of most scholars, there is simply no way Josephus the Jew would or could have written such things. So how did these comments get into his writings?" It"s quite suspicious that something like that would happen where something needs to be added to a historical document in order to look authentic, one would suspect that if someone did in fact exist, such a fabrication wouldn"t be necessary. Now this leaves us with only the NT to consider with regard to this person"s existence. The earliest writings that scholars do in fact have are some of the epistles. The letters of Paul are the earliest they have with regard to Jesus in which are shown to be suspicious seeing that he never mentions an earthly Jesus, never discusses his ministry, his miracles, his life, etc. nothing but "visions", so those accounts aren"t reliable sources for a historical "human" Jesus. This leaves us with looking at the gospel writings (written by anonymous writers) in where it describes this Jesus as being a god-man who teaches lessons, goes on adventures, suffers a terrible death, and then rises to become a god. What"s interesting is that this basic synopsis isn"t new, this has been told before by other cultures describing their version of a god-man or demi-god who becomes their savior. You have such saviors as Romulus, Hercules, and Osiris just to name a few. Granted these savior myths aren"t exactly identical to the story of Jesus but they all have the same generic theme of a dying and rising god/divine being, who goes through some sort of passion, and then is inserted into history by its followers as if being a real person. We could confidently say that these so-called saviors never existed, but were popular legends of old with a very small chance of being about some person(s) that does try to make a difference only for their story to be later dramatically exaggerated. Now looking at the story of Jesus, we have this savior who warns everyone of an impending doom that will soon fall onto them by an army of creatures from outer space and they are to believe in him in order to be spared of this doom. This following supposedly gets the attention of the Jewish priests who then get him to be tried in a Roman court by the Roman Police Chief Pontius Pilate in order to be executed for the crime of treason. He then gets executed only for his physical body to apparently disappear and for him to still give further instructions to his followers. This is obviously just a short hand version of the story of Jesus. This story is of course without its own suspicions. You have the little details like a floating star hovering over Bethlehem that no one seems to notice except some astrologers from Babylon or that King Herod is reported to give the order to execute every male baby in Bethlehem, to which logically would have been written, but no account outside the NT exists. Then you have the sun darkening at the death of Jesus that no one seemed to have taken notice, not even the Chinese recorded this incident on their printing press. Then we have, after Jesus dies, is the account of people coming out of their graves, walks in the streets, and then visits their relatives, again no mention of that either outside the NT. Last example (but not the least) we have are the accounts of the incident where the women arrive to the tomb of Jesus. There are conflicting accounts in where we have the stone already rolled over (no Roman soldiers present) in where they saw someone in the tomb (not Jesus) tell them that the Jesus had risen from the dead. Another gospel account says that there were Roman soldiers stationed there then came this great earthquake and the stone was rolled back. The Roman soldiers were then knocked out by this all dressed in white supernatural person who suddenly appeared before them, who also told the women that Jesus had risen etc. These accounts, yet aren"t the only ones, do put the accounts of the Gospels as being suspicious and contradictory. Lastly, the court trial hearings, which are written in the book of Acts, in where again in these accounts show that the apostles are accusing the Jewish authorities to have crucified Jesus and make the claim that Jesus had risen, basically making the claim that he is still alive! Whether the Jewish authorities saw this as a miracle or not doesn"t matter for they were told an executed criminal had essentially escaped! As an example we have Peter in the book of Acts proclaiming that Jesus had risen, that he is the rightful king of the throne of David, yet he isn"t tried for that! Doesn"t even phase the court, instead he"s being tried because he supposedly performed a miracle in the streets. Another example we have in the NT, the Apostle Paul had his final hearing before Festus. In Acts 25:12, Festus sought to induce Paul to go to Jerusalem for trial; Paul appealed to the Emperor. Festus grants this appeal to the emperor because he isn"t sure how to go about judging this case. The appeal resulted in Paul being deported to Rome. Acts 25-26. So Festus has nothing to charge against Paul? Not even the claim that a criminal charged for treason, who created a following; seriously nothing? No possibly stolen corpse, treason, calling someone else god and king? Festus had nothing to report to the emperor which makes sense if THERE wasn"t nothing to report with regard to a person who likely didn"t exist. These two examples should show that if in fact this Jesus character did exist, did what is written in the NT, there is no way the Roman authorities would have overlooked this detail or dealt with it lightly. Now here is what"s interesting regarding these accounts, here you have a supposed executed criminal who was executed for treason and creating a dangerous following that could be threatening to the Roman government. They are literally telling the authorities that this criminal is again at large, is still creating a following, had escaped his execution, or at the very least, his dead body was likely stolen to make it appear that he had risen since they make the claim that the tomb is empty. *Robbing tombs in ancient Rome was a crime punishable by death and so logically this would have warranted a further investigation* Even if the story of Jesus rising from the dead, going into heaven is true, Pontius Pilate would not have known of this so-called miracle or even viewed it as such, he would have simply seen this as him having escaped his execution and still making his followers declare him god and king. So one would suspect that if this whole thing happened, that there was in fact a living, breathing, Jewish professed Messiah, who created a following, was executed under the watch of Pontius Pilate, who then later seemingly somehow escaped his execution, the Roman authorities would have likely interrogated Paul or Peter or John until they gave up the whereabouts of this man, but no such records exists. This in itself makes Jesus being a real historical person suspicious. Again, not a single shred of evidence of any of these incidents (e.g. Jesus trial, his apparent crucifixion, supposed disappearance of his body, the walking dead, sun being darkened, earthquakes, etc.) are available outside the NT. In conclusion, to put this whole thing in perspective so that it"s clearly understood my position, the only so-called recorded accounts are in the New Testament, which are suspiciously not third person but rather first person (which begs the questions of who did Jesus confine his personal thoughts to or who read his mind?) are in fact contradictory, have no outside sources to confirm that such fantastical incidents ever happened which also includes his supposed illegal trial, being tried by the Roman Chief Police Pontius Pilate, his apparent execution, and resurrection.

**Hope this is permitted as I have run out of space I will now immediately place my references in the comments section, also I will not entertain any comments until after the debate is over***
Debate Round No. 2



I would like to say to my opponent that it is okay if he has gone overboard. I think DDO should allow more characters. I will sum up most of his main arguments and then rebut them in the form of an outline.

Error 1: The Talmud Reference

My opponent argues that the Talmud refers to Jesus and his execution but that his execution was not that of crucifixion but of him being stoned to death. He claims that this contradicts what the gospels say about Jesus. First, let’s cite what the Talmud Says:

“On the eve of the Passover Yeshu34 was hanged. For forty days before the execution took place, a herald went forth and cried, 'He is going forth to be stoned because he has practised sorcery and enticed Israel to apostacy. Any one who can say anything in his favour, let him come forward and plead on his behalf.' But since nothing was brought forward in his favour he was hanged on the eve of the Passover!”

Now notice that the passage here doesn’t mention Jesus being stoned but hanged. The Sanhedrin was going to stone him but they instead hung him because he was under Roman law. Second, even if this were true, this would in no way disprove that Jesus existed. This would show that either a) the Gospels got his execution right or b) They got it wrong. The Gospels are the earliest and best attested sources and mention that he was crucified under Pontius Pilate. The Talmud is not as reliable for Jesus than the earlier sources that I mentioned in my opening argument.[1] [2]

Error 2: The Secular Sources and Contemporary Sources

My opponent claims that some of the secular sources that mention Jesus are Christian fabrications or are not written by first-hand eyewitnesses. Let me first say that he may be partly right about these two things but that his two arguments are irrelevant and don’t have any weight. His first contention is that Josephus is an entire forgery. Now if you remember in my opening statement, I showed that Josephus wrote about Jesus twice. The first passage is still disputed. The second passage however is not disputed and is wholly authentic.[4] My opponent ignores the second passage and instead chooses the first one, which most historians would say had an authentic core but was originally glossed over with Christian friendly stuff.[3] The second argument that my opponent makes is that none of these secular sources were written by eyewitnesses, and he’s correct. The problem with this argument is that much of what historians know about the first century and the ancient world in general, is that little to no contemporary records exist of almost anybody. There are tons of Emperors, Governors, Prefects, etc. who don’t have any mention of their existence except by later sources. One example would be Marcellus, who ironically, was the fourth prefect of Rome before Pilate. How many sources do we have for this Marcellus? None. In fact, all we have is Josephus who mentions him 60+ years later. We don’t have any coins minted from him. We don’t have any trials or affidavits from him about people he executed and yet he is supposed to be a Roman prefect or Governor during the beginning of the first century. If that’s the case, then what sort of evidence should we have for Jesus? What this proves is that Jesus was not considered an important figure in the Roman world. It does not prove that he didn’t exist. [5]

Error 3: Paul’s epistles

My opponent basically fails to realize the amount of historical material within Paul’s epistles. I’ve already cited in my opening argument where Paul mentions the historical Jesus; including things such as his death under Pontius Pilate, his resurrection, and that he had a brother named James. Romans 1 shows that Jesus is the seed of David and of flesh and blood. Even though Paul is interested in a theological Jesus, there is too much in there that we can’t simply ignore, which is something my opponent wants us to do.

Error 4: Crucified Messiah and Pagan Myths?

My opponent wants to argue that Jesus’ execution and life parallels that with Pagan myths like Romulus, Hercules, and Osiris. This argument is false for several reasons. First, the idea that Jesus is an amalgam of Pagan mythology is not a new idea and it was refuted 100 years ago by scholars who looked at several Pagan myths and they realized that the supposed parallels were spurious or fake. T. N. D. Mettinger reports: "From the 1930s. . . a consensus has developed to the effect that the 'dying and rising gods' died but did not return or rise to live again. . . Those who still think differently are looked upon as residual members of an almost extinct species".[7]

The myths of Pagans were not at all connected to Jewish understanding about God.[6] Second, if you remember in my opening argument, I showed that the idea of a dying and rising Messiah was a contradiction in terms. Messianic expectations showed that Jews were thinking of a kingly-figure (Like King David). Messiah is the Greek equivalent of “ Anointed one”, which goes back to the practice of anointing kings in ancient Israel. It had nothing to do with the idea of a dying and rising God (not saying that Jesus isn’t God), but what I am saying is that we’re talking about the idea of a dying and rising Messiah. Jesus was supposed to conquer the Romans and establish God’s kingdom for the Jewish people. Jesus was not only executed by the Romans, but also didn’t bring the Kingdom of God in a way Jews were expecting.[7]

Error 5: The Resurrection, Miracles, and Jesus’ Execution:

I’m actually not going to go into detail about my opponent’s argument against the Resurrection because it is irrelevant to the debate topic. The debate topic is about whether Jesus existed as a historical figure. It is not about whether he is God or whether or not the NT contains miracles that surround Jesus’ life. My opponent seemed to go off topic here, however, he does come back a little bit on topic when talking about Jesus’ execution. My opponent argues that Jesus execution under Pontius Pilate was “illegal”, however, he doesn’t really argue why. He basically shows the cause of Jesus’ arrest. However, Jesus’ execution under Pilate was not “illegal”. AN Sherwin-White, a classical historian says “that trials were generally based on the location of the alleged crimes, but that there was a possibility of referral to a province of origin in special cases.”[8] Jesus’ trial in no way validates this. Jesus’ actions took place not only in Galilee but also in the other provinces including Judea. Pilate was in no way obligated to hand Jesus over to Herod Antipas. Pilate sent Jesus to Herod because Pilate learned of where Jesus was from and he didn’t really want any involvement with Jesus at all. However, because Jesus had also done other stuff in Judea, then Pilate had the legal authority to execute him under treason.[8]








[7] Psalms of Solomon, Chapter 5, pg.160-161. Bart Ehrman “Did Jesus Exist?”




Rebuttal: (Consensus) "The difference between evolutionary biology and the historicity of Jesus is that biologists have numerous amount of evidence that can be tested, observed, and falsified. With the historicity of Jesus we don't have that amount evidence to conclusively say that such a figure did in fact exist. Rebut-rebuttal: I inserted in my opening remarks regarding Josephus to show as an example that for Josephus to refer to the Jesus as being wise, the messiah, etc. isn't consistent with how Josephus wrote and the simple fact that he was Jewish and wouldn't have viewed Jesus as being the Messiah let alone wise, makes the insertions (both) highly suspicious. The other historian/philosopher writers weren't even alive when Jesus supposedly existed and the accounts they wrote weren't firsthand accounts which then logically follows that they were at best hearsay accounts. (Biblical Sources) " As I showed in round 2, using the NT as legitimate proof that this Jesus character did exist is by far good evidence. As I pointed out in round 2, there are too many variables that are in the Gospel writings themselves that places doubt on the validity of the claims given for this savior god-man. All the fantastical elements described in those writings biblical scholars do also recognize as not being true but feel that there might be some kernel of truth regarding the Jesus person. As mentioned in round 2 of my debate we have other dying/rising saviors that pre-date Christianity/Judaism who we can confidently say today didn't exist but were inserted into history as being real historical figures. (Apostle Paul) " Pro cited 1 Cor. 15 as proof that Paul believed in a historical Jesus but what"s easily overlooked is in chapter 15 of 1 Cor. Verse 4 is that Paul plainly admits where he is getting his information and that is within "scripture". But what scripture? According to biblical scholars Paul's" writings are the earliest and were first written before the Gospels were ever written, so what "scriptures" is he referring to? (Gospel written dates: The only "scriptures" he would have had in his possession would have been some of the Septuagint writings and with regard to Jesus he would have received oral testimonies which is not dependable seeing that misinformation can easily creep within an oral testimony that is passed on from person to person. (See Chinese Whispers for dependability on Oral Traditions: For the rest please see ( Under "Paul"s Vision: Causes and Motives" which makes a good case against Paul as being a reliable source with regard to a historical "human" Jesus when Galatians 1:11 " in where Paul already provided omission that he received "visions" or "revelations" about the Christ, not eye witness accounts etc. - which would be in support of a historical figure not a spiritual divine being that Paul is describing. For historicity we can't depend on someone's personal "dream" or "revelation" or "vision", those don"t count for proving a real human person(s). With regard to the supposed eye witness accounts of the NT, we have the problem of age, the average age of persons of that time were between 15 " 46 and that was normal. 1 in 20 would live to be 70 and less than 1 in 200 would live to 85. (For more see: & ) So how is it that the famed gospel writers were the very ones who wrote the NT when scholarly consensus agree that books of the NT were written 20 to 100 years later way beyond the time of when people of that time were expected to live? (The Gospels + Acts) " As mentioned in my opening arguments in round 2, the Gospel accounts are not reliable seeing that they for the most part are contradictory, make fantastical claims that when investigated fails, and the gospel accounts are suspiciously written in first person as if the gospel writers were able to tune into what Jesus was thinking. (See NT Contradictions: ) With regard to Acts, it too is of suspect seeing that we have contradictory accounts like the example of Paul"s cosmic encounter with Jesus where it makes mention in chapter 9 his companions heard Jesus" voice but didn't see him but in chapter 22 says that his companions saw the light but didn't hear any voice, so which is it? It does have some kernel of truth by describing the said authorities and giving them their correct position/rank, like in the case of Festus. (Historical reliability of the Acts of the Apostles: ) What really places the book of Acts as unreliable is the very details of the story itself in where in every trial that Paul and Peter underwent, they both made their cases, both made deliberate accusations toward the authorities for crucifying Jesus, and making the claim that he had risen! In all of the book of Acts this doesn't even slightly phase the court but if the account is true, then that would mean that Jesus didn't die not too long ago (according to the gospels) so his crucifixion (not to mention the walking dead, earthquakes, unreliable soldiers guarding the tomb, etc.) would have been still fresh in the minds of these authorities, especially with Festus who took over after Pilate, but as you can see the silence on these matters are deafening. (Greco-Roman & Jewish Sources) " For this rebuttal, as mentioned in round 2, using these said sources isn't reliable evidence for a real human named Jesus. Tacitus: There is no clear textual evidence for any fabrication by any Christians but what makes this suspect is that in Tacitus" Annals (who is famous for having access to the Roman imperial records) refers to Pilate by the wrong title! Pilate was a prefect, not a procurator, and lastly he makes reference to Jesus as "Christos" but Roman records would not have used such a title but rather his presumed given name. So there is good reason to suppose that Tacitus is merely repeating what then Christians told him, simply hearsay ( (Pilate:
Josephus: Please see for information regarding the Christian interpolation. Mara Bar-Serapion: To sum up this resource of Bar-Serapion isn't a good eye witness to the historicity of Jesus. A clue of this is when he makes mention of the "wise king" he accuses the Jews of executing this "wise king" but as the gospels mention, he was in fact executed by the Romans. This report is likely the result of Christians providing him this information seeing that Christians viewed the Jews responsible and not the Romans for the death of Jesus. (6. Mara Bar-Serapion: (Historical-Critical Method) " The sources mentioned are good except for Oral traditions seeing that misinformation can easily creep within the telling of a story orally. For oral tradition that is finally written down you would predict that there would be contradictory details among the writings, which is what we see with regard to the Gospel accounts. (Error 2): I did not make the claim that the entire writings of Josephus are forgery but what I pointed out was the insertions, which I already addressed, are highly suspect. With regard to other figures compared to Jesus is the simple fact that what we have are what's allowed in the biblical canon of the NT. If we are to say that there are some kernel of truth, despite all the supernatural claims inserted, I would have to say that there is a slight possibility of a person existing whose story was dramatically exaggerated. But why I find the claims of the Jesus person existing at all is the court trials mentioned in Acts. Per my opening remarks regarding the trials, one would suspect we would find writings in/out the NT of where Christians are literally being interrogated for the whereabouts of this person who the Roman authorities wouldn't have seen as a god but rather an escaped criminal. (Error3): I'm not encouraging anyone to simply ignore the epistles but what I am addressing are the notions portrayed in them. As mentioned he declared that this Jesus died and rose from the dead but even when Festus took over after Pilate such notions didn't raise a brow which brings into question whether this incident happened at all. (Error4): Despite the Jews, who are still seeking this promised Messiah even today, is irrelevant to what I presented. I understand what the Jews were looking for but this isn't how the Christians portray their Savior and how they wrote down the story of their savior in the NT. When you compare the trends of that time with regard to dying/rising gods, there is too many coincidences to ignore and try to reason away that this Jesus person is somehow unique. Secondly, per my opening remarks I did make mention that the theme of these dying/rising saviors were similar not identical. It wasn't knew of that time for religions to borrow other myths from other religions and fuse their own. This is why you have some similarities and some that aren't in these stories and yes 100 years ago scholars had abandoned those notions but that was because it was inserted that they were 100% identical to which is false. Rebut (Error 5): Rather his court hearing was illegal or not is irrelevant because if we are to assume that the NT writings are the best we have to confirming a historical figure then there are too many questions that aren't answered. As an example, which I covered toward the end of my opening remarks, are the court trials in Acts. **need space lol** Ref. in comments
Debate Round No. 3



As you can see, my opponent resorts to un-historical methodology and reasoning when it comes to the historical Jesus. He affirms psuedo-history as a better alternative like young-earth creationists pursue psuedo-science. He tries to deny or show problems in the evidence but pointing to holes isn't proof that the historicist position is incorrect. If that were the case, then any single theory in any academic field would be false. We're human, and our knowledge is limited in certain areas. It isn't enough to point out minor problems with the evidence. You have to give positive reasons and evidence that follow the proper critera in order for your theory to be correct. Unfortunately, we have not seen that in this debate. I would like to thank my opponent for accepting this challenge and wish him the best. Remember to vote fairly.


Would like to thank my opponent for his participation in this debate and I would like to also thank him for his patience seeing that DDO has a very limited amount of space allotted in order for me to defend my position.

My opponent made the same points that are currently being argued in the field as we speak in which is also being seriously considered with peer review, especially of that of Richard Carrier.

In this debate what I simply demonstrated was not just that there are "holes" in the theory of the historicity of Jesus but that there are many variables that are highly overlooked. Unlike creationist argumentation versus what I attempted to present is that I am actually attempting to show that this Jesus character is not only unlikely to exist but just like creationists, the information presented as being proof for his existence is littered with myth, allegorical, and simply fantastical claims. Much like how creationists claims are also rooted mainly in mythical views and assertions.

To answer my opponents assertion which he says: "He tries to deny or show problems in the evidence but pointing to holes isn't proof that the historicist position is incorrect. If that were the case, then any single theory in any academic field would be false. We're human, and our knowledge is limited in certain areas. It isn't enough to point out minor problems with the evidence."

- Unlike other historical figures versus Jesus, the historical figures that we do see as having existed aren't rooted first in mythology and then inserted into history, much like how, as I pointed out, you have Paul's writings then decades later the gospels are then written. Highly suspect don't you think? We don't run into this when investigating whether Tiberius existed or King Tut etc. granted they too have myth stories attached to them but those stories have been dated to appear way after they are actually recorded to have lived.

The points that I presented were few but certainly not the only ones and unfortunately this debate wouldn't have allowed me to present those.

My points can be summed up in the example that Richard Carrier uses and that is - Everyone is familiar of the incident that happened in Roswell NM back in 1947. That there was an alleged alien space craft that crashed landed and was taken to area 51 etc. That's what most who follow that theory believe but what's really documented to have happened is that a local farmer stumbled across a field of debris filled with sticks and tinfoil. Afterwards in just 30 years after that time happened we have stories of an alien space craft, dead alien bodies, that were allegedly taken to area 51 to be autopsied. Now these stories have been developed in an age of photography and video recording and these stories have created a large following.

Is it any surprise then that such a story like that of Jesus mentioned in the bible is that hard to create in a world where it was already the trend to create such fantastical savior myths?

"It's easier to invent a man than the dissolving of the sun"

Thank you
Debate Round No. 4
14 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Sagey 3 years ago
I disregard the Bible as a Historical Source.
Due to the lengthy period between Jesus and the first writings.
Also the Gospels are inconsistent as Con pointed out, if they were writing from the same reality of the events surrounding Jesus Christ, they would be more consistent.
Also using the Bible as a historical source has problems as it is like citing "The Hobbit" as proof that Bilbo was real. The book is a collaboration of Conspirators. A book written by Christians for Christians is a Collaboration of Conspirators, in that they are Collaborating their Conspiracy to promote Jesus Christ.
This is why real Historians disregard a lot of the Bible as evidence.
Only Biblical Historians cite the Bible as evidence as they are not really Historians but Apologists.

Even though personally I believe Jesus Christ did exist as a person, but not as a Son Of God, but possibly a prophet, who really never performed any miracles but may have had some followers and made the Jews angry, probably with Eastern/Buddhist philosophies and teachings, similar to what was reported in the Gospels, but not exactly the same, since the Gospels were written nearly 40 years after the death of Jesus.
Nobody remembered nor recorded his exact words so the Sermon on the mount was mostly fabricated by the Gospel author. Essence may be the same, but never the exact wording. Rote cannot record accurately one off events. That is impossible to use Rote for event accuracy, it is only good for passing on tradition, not accurate details. Tradition is taught repetitively, one off events get distorted as they are once only, no repetition for accurate rote recall.
Posted by TheMatt 3 years ago
The Mythicist approach says to deny everything or admit ignorance. That isn't how history or historical methodology works. Every Jew knew that the messiah was going to be of flesh and blood because of the messianic expectations. King David was a flesh and blood figure. The Messiah was not expected to be some celestial being but a king like figure like all the others in Israel, who would overthrow Rome and establish God's kingdom on earth. There are no Jewish texts that show a messianic celestial being who would be crucified in the celestial world or not exist on earth. I suggest you read scholarly articles or works . The way Paul uses "sperma" is in no way figurative and refers to a collective singular form about the Messiah coming as the offspring of David(See link here from NT scholar EP Sanders on the meaning:

The fact that Paul says nothing about Jesus' miraculous birth isn't evidence Jesus wasn't born. It is evidence that Paul probably didn't have much interest in talking about Jesus' birth.

Your argument was that Paul calls James a "brother" in the figurative sense, and the point I was making is that Paul no where in the greek or context suggests this. Paul distinguishes James from the other apostles as though he were different. If James was like the rest, then why make this distinction? Why not claim that He saw none of the other apostles except James. Why emphasize that he's the brother of the Lord?

But you're referring to one passage of Josephus which is hotly debate, while the other one is not. The second passage talks about James death, and mentions that he is the brother of Jesus.

That's not my point about RC. My point was that RC tries to apply a non-related field toward biblical studies. In other words BT has nothing to do with historical studies. The fact that pagan myths were trendy isn't in anyway related to Jesus
Posted by SimpleObserverofThings 3 years ago
The mythocist approach makes a lot more sense when you realize the history of when these accounts appeared. He never makes mention of a blood line heritage for David he uses the Greek word for "sperma" but again Mary was supposedly born by some miraculous (laws of physics momentarily suspended) phenomenon. Paul didn't read such an account, and even if the followers at the time believed the Mary was given such a birth, Paul seemed to not think it important to mention in any of the epistles that biblical scholars agree he wrote.

It's not "odd" to see this "only" direct reference, I mean is it really that odd to think that when the canon was being developed that they made sure such things were present to make it appear to validate this Jesus' Messianic prophecy? I mean just as a side note you have scriptures like 1 John 5:7 which is admittedly added way later in order to promote the Triune god doctrine, so it's not "odd" that such scriptures are made out to be singling out someone. Like I said using the NT as evidence is really shaky seeing that it's completely littered with myths.

With outside sources, like Josephus, again we can't accept that a Jewish man would ever refer to someone as being the Messiah, as Bart Ehrman pointed out and other scholars agree, because it doesn't fit with the type of way Josephus wrote, which suggest that they were forged.

The reason why current scholars are being a little skeptical with Carrier because I mentioned, which you have also, mythocists in the past try to correlate ancient savior myths and say that Jesus was stolen from one of the stories, like being born on Dec. 25 etc. which is wrong. Carrier doesn't even present his case with using those, he does make mention, to which I pointed out, that forming such myths was trending in the Hellenistic period, so it wouldn't of any surprise that the Jewish cults would formulate their own.
Posted by TheMatt 3 years ago
Hello , Simple,

The fact that Paul doesn't Jesus' miracles or say much about his ministry isn't evidence that Jesus didn't exist because Paul does tell us a lot more about Jesus in snippets throughout his epistles, which as I said before, require us to interpret them one of two ways. We can take the mythicist approach and just flat out ignore it or say "I don't know". Or we can take the historical approach and use historical reasoning and methodology to see what the evidence says. If Paul is claiming that Jesus is born under the Law and under a woman, that ultimately means that Jesus came from a flesh and blood family. Why would Paul say that Jesus was from the line of Joseph? Joseph wasn't King David. The Jews were expecting the Messiah to come from the line of King David. It makes perfect sense. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15 that Jesus was dead and raised to life, and that he appeared to many witnesses. He talks about the resurrection happening on earth, not in some celestial world out there.

Who do you think Paul is referring to when he says the "Lord"? Christians referred to Jesus as the"Lord". Paul refers to Jesus as "the Lord" all throughout his epistles and letters. How odd that Paul would single out somebody if he's just another one of the "brothers". Don't you find that to be ad-hoc? Josephus, the NT and Paul all talk about James being a brother of Jesus in the literal sense.

Historians don't use BT. Historians instead use terminology to show the probability of an event or figure. They also use things like explanatory scope, degree of ad-hocness, inference to the best explanation,etc. Carrier is attempting to apply an unrelated method to biblical studies and call it "history". If that's the case, then it's really psuedohistory.
Posted by SimpleObserverofThings 3 years ago
It is debatable but the evidence is there, these stories pre-date Judaism and coincidentally Judea have similar stories about the creation of man and the flood. History shows that the Sumerians was one of the earliest civilizations way before Israel was even thought of, so it places into question where did the Jews get the creation myth ideas from?

The actual letters that scholars do recognize as being written by Paul don't make mention of his earthly ministry, his miracles, etc. only him being born of a Woman (no mention of a virgin birth nor Mary), seed of David, (but gospel writers show that he wasn't the seed of Joseph so that lineage doesn't make sense) I should have highlighted this earlier, but actually Paul refers James the brother of the "Lord" not the name Jesus which falls in line with assigning such titles that Christians use to refer each other as brother and sisters, and he only states that he was executed (no actual mention from the letters of Paul that he was executed here on earth let alone by Pilate). 1 Timothy has been shown to have been developed around 100 years later, so evidently Paul wasn't the writer someone else wrote that. The book of Acts is of high suspect, written much later, and suspiciously nothing is mentioned about Pilate or even Festus giving the order to investigate the claims that Peter or Paul was making regarding an executed criminal.

The method that I was referring to that Carrier is having scholars consider, and they actually are, is Bayes" Theorem.
Posted by TheMatt 3 years ago
Hello SOT,

It's highly speculative and debatable that Jews borrowed the Creation account found in Genesis as well as the flood account. However, this isn't very relevant to the argument that I was making regarding Jesus and his life. The fact is, there are no stories that mimic Jesus of Nazareth found in Pagan literature, and even if there were that still wouldn't be proof that Jesus never existed. Parallels in a story don't disprove the person or figure behind the story. Parallels show that the author was thinking of somebody else and applying that person's similarities to the person they're writing about.

What you're stating isn't true. I mean Paul gives us brief details about Jesus' life that only make sense if he were real. You run in to so many problems with trying to come up with different suggestions that don't follow the historical method. If James is just a brother like all the others, then why the need for Paul to single him out and call him a brother of the Lord? Why not call Peter, the brother of the Lord? We know from the synoptics that Jesus had a real flesh and blood family. Paul mentions that Jesus was born from a woman and born under the law. Paul mentions Jesus' execution under Pilate and his burial and resurrection. He includes the teachings on divorce, the Last Supper, and Jesus' betrayal. You're correct in stating that Paul didn't have access to the synoptics, which leaves us with two options A) He just made it up or B) He received this via oral tradition. Option B makes much more sense of the evidence. We can't deny the fact that Paul recieved information that was passed on from Jesus' followers.

I am familiar with Richard Carrier's arguments. I must say that much of what he proposes is very dubious and speculative at best. He doesn't follow the historical method used for Jesus but uses BT. This is basically psuedo-history.
Posted by SimpleObserverofThings 3 years ago
Correct, with regard to notions of these saviors being born on Dec. 25 etc. which has been proven to be not identical to Christian mythology seeing that Christianity didn't adopted the idea of Dec. 25 until much later, to essentially help convert pagans. It was more of a marketing scheme, but what I'm referring to can be found here:

For the Jewish cult to not borrow from other cults is not an unusual thing to consider. I mean just look at the Sumerian creation myth of man, and you can see similarities not to mention the flood story.

To state that Paul was referring to a literal brother of Jesus who was Mary's brother, again is unclear, but make much more sense to understand that he is referring to the brother Jesus much like all the other followers are also referred to brothers. No clear distinction, to put it plainly if Paul were to write something like "James the son of Mary and the brother of Jesus" that would be spot on indication of what he's referring to, but nothing of the sort exists. Paul never met Mary, never mentions a virgin birth, which is strange seeing that this would have been important to validate Jesus messianic prophecy. When describing Jesus he doesn't make mention of his ministry, who executed him, the empty tomb (which Mark refers to in the earliest copy of Mark but no resurrection) nor his miracles, nothing. Paul never had access to the gospels, there were no gospels written, so to claim he had access to gospels is incorrect. To finish my position on this to it's clearer, cause reading his books so that you can cite his sources may not be immediately available to you, but he discusses them in his lectures.

I would suggest watching this one and after watching it, discuss it with me, I would honestly enjoy your opinions on them, I am enjoying this discussion.

Posted by TheMatt 3 years ago
It isn't a stretch. Scholars 100 years ago scurried through tons of pagan texts and found that the supposed parallels of the dying and rising Savior Gods were spurious and or fake. They in fact had nothing to do with dying and rising Gods but usually with the crop cycles and vegetation, when they would die and return the next season or the other hellenisitic style of writings show that these dying and rising Gods, never rose but in the underworld. I honestly don't see any connection between Jesus and Romulus. The fact that Pagans told stories of the same nature is really irrelevant to the existence of a historical figure. Especially when they have nothing to do with that historical figure. Jews would never adopt such silly stories and then make a figure from scratch based on these stories.

Paul met Jesus' closest relatives and followers. It's very clear to the reader and Paul that the Messiah was of flesh and blood. That's why he says that Jesus is from King David. Paul's view is that Jesus fulfilled the Davidic line or dynasty, which only makes sense in term of a real flesh and blood figure and not a mythological one. Paul never claims to receive information from revelation. He is talking about the gospel, but not historical information. That, he gets from Jesus' followers.

Just because the word "brother" is used figuratively in other places doesn't mean it is figurative everywhere. Paul isn't even talking about himself here. He's talking about Jesus' biography. Being born of a woman is a common type of language used by people in that day. He didn't have to meet Mary's mother. He met Mary's son James, who was Jesus' brother.
Posted by SimpleObserverofThings 3 years ago
No similarities? That's a far stretch assertion to make when in fact we have as an example Romulus but as I mentioned before they are not identical but some of the elements are similar. This isn't showing that a Christian took one of the stories and formulated their own, but what I am stating, which is arguably true, in Hellenistic times it was a trend that cults would borrow some elements from other cults. What makes Christianity unique in something that has been shown to happen historically among other cults?

Yes Paul wrote Romans 1 but it's not clear as to what he was referring as mentioned he never met Jesus, nor his mother and adopted father (according to the gospels that haven't been written yet). Secondly, according to the usage of the "line of David" he uses the Greek word for seed "sperma" in which this literally mean decedent of which would include a mother and father. Paul again never knew anything about a virgin birth or anything about Mary his mother. Again, Paul omitted how he received his information and that's by revelation (visions) and scripture (not the gospels).

With regard to Paul calling James the brother of Jesus wasn't unusual seeing that Christians viewed one being a brother of Christ after being baptized in the Lord. Being born of a Woman again it's unclear seeing again he never met Mary, never knew of the virgin birth, so these things don't help the case for a historical Jesus but it does fit inline with a cosmic deity, which is for another debate.

Side note: I wanted to discuss that in this debate but the limited characters wouldn't allow me, so my bad, I'm sure it would have been a fun discussion if I brought it up.
Posted by TheMatt 3 years ago
There aren't any similarities between Jesus and Pagan myths. No scholar thinks there are. We're talking about the idea of a dying and rising Messiah, not a dying and rising God. Jesus is God, but Jews didn't expect a dying and rising God. The whole idea of Messiah goes back to the Kings of Ancient Israel, who would practice anointing each other with oil, as a way of showing that they were the chosen leader by God to rule the Dynasty. This means they were expecting a real flesh and blood figure, who would be the offspring of King-David, in the sense that they would inherit King David's throne via dynasty and succession. Jews never associated themselves with Pagan myths.

But Paul does mention a historical Jesus. He mentions in Romans 1 that Jesus is the Son of David and had an earthly life. Yes, Paul is interested in spreading the Gospel, but he has too many off-the-cuff comments that we can not simply ignore. Paul doesn't claim to receive the historical information from Jesus. He was talking about the Gospel. However, the historical information he claims to have gotten from those whom he met with(Peter and James, Jesus' brother).
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by Sagey 3 years ago
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Total points awarded:13 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro made some pretty good arguments and formatting was good, but some of Con's points denied Pro's claim of Jesus actually lived. Pro Asserted Historians agree with Jesus having been real, yet this is called "Poisoning The Well" in debating, in that Pro must demonstrate these himself without making Assertion from Authority statements. Con cited a Qualified Historian in Richard Carrier who also has good arguments why Jesus may not have existed. Between Pro and Con, neither demonstrated the Existence of Jesus Christ, yet I believe Jesus Christ existed, but that is only my belief, for which I have never been able to back up by Evidence and neither could Pro. Con's argument was hard to read, so loses Grammar points, but arguments denied Pro's evidence for Jesus. Biblical passages are not evidence, as it is a collusion of conspirators. Only outside evidence is Historical, there was not enough to assert Pro's BOP.
Vote Placed by BennyW 3 years ago
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Total points awarded:30 
Reasons for voting decision: This was a pretty good debate on both sides. Ultimately though CON's arguments fail because the method he uses is not reliable historians would use on other documents and evidence for other historic figures.