The Instigator
SNP1
Con (against)
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0 Points
The Contender
Xanxus
Pro (for)
Tied
0 Points

Jesus of Nazareth is a historical figure

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 5/12/2014 Category: Religion
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 832 times Debate No: 54561
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (13)
Votes (1)

 

SNP1

Con

This is a debate on whether Jesus actually existed as a historical figure, not if he was God or not. As con I will show that there does not exist the evidence for Jesus' existence. You, as pro, must show evidence for the existence of Jesus as a historical figure.

Before we begin we must remember one thing, it is impossible to know with absolute certainty what happened in the past, especially the distant or ill-preserved past. This includes whether or not Jesus even existed. We cannot prove with absolute certainty that he did not exist, just as you cannot prove with absolute certainty that he did. This means that we have to evaluate the evidence and make a conclusion.

If, while evaluating the evidence, we find that it is historically unreliable then we cannot use that piece of evidence.

This debate is debating a positive and a negative, but, as logic says, you cannot prove a negative. Luckily, proving is not what we are trying to do since we cannot know for sure what happened in the past. This means that what we must do is evaluate the evidence that Jesus existed and determine if the evidence is reliable or not. If we cannot find reliable evidence that Jesus existed then we can safely say that Jesus probably did not exist.

Remember, this is a debate about if Jesus was a real person or not. Neither you nor I cannot use any supernatural aspects of Jesus to prove that he existed or not.

So, how do we test if a document is historically reliable? I will be using the Historical-Critical Method, also called Higher Criticism. The Historical-Critical Method is a branch of literary analysis that investigates the origins of a text.

When using this analysis method we must ask 3 questions:
Were the authors there personally or have good access to people that were there?
If they did have access, did they offer reliable testimony?
If they did write reliable testimony, has their testimony survived to the present substantially unaltered and intact?

If the answer to any of these three questions is "No", then that document is not historically reliable and cannot be used as evidence.

As a note, the three questions do not refer just to the document as a whole. If a section of the document that would go through this process would have a "No" as an answer to any of the three questions then that section of the document is not historically reliable and cannot be used for evidence.

Another thing we must do when analyzing the documents is to see if we can determine what they are actually saying. We should take the following steps to determine the meaning of the document:
If words in the document have multiple meanings where a specific interpretation, we must determine what the different meanings could be.
We must determine if there is support in the document (that is relevant to the actual part that we are analyzing) for a specific interpretation of the words.
If there is a specific interpretation, and it passes the test from Higher Criticism, then we can use it as evidence.
If there is not a specific interpretation, even if it passes the test from Higher Criticism, then we cannot us it as evidence.

We must now look at what years Jesus is said to have lived, and afterwards determine the latest year that reliable information could possibly be provided.

It is speculated that Jesus would have been born ~4 B.C.E. and died ~33 C.E. This means that he died at ~37 years old.

Life expectancy in the Roman Empire during the time Jesus would have lived was 35 years of age. We can use as the life expectancy during the early 1st century through the 2nd century.

We can now attempt to find out at what point we can stop relying on documents for evidence for the existence of Jesus. This is possible because of the first question of Higher Criticism. There will be a time where we can expect that the authors could not have been there personally and did not have access to people that were there.

Since it is speculated that Jesus died in ~33 C.E. we can try and find out when the eye-witnesses could have been dead, and then when the last people who had access to eye-witnesses could have died.

Studies show that long term memory starts in a baby at 17-21 months of age. I have yet to meet someone that remembers anything from that young of an age, but let"s just say that people can. This means that anyone that could be considered an eye-witness would have to be at least 1.5 years old.

Jesus" death at ~33 C.E. would mean that people born in the latter half of ~31 C.E. would be able to be considered the youngest eye-witnesses. With a life expectancy at 35 years of age, the expected time that all eye-witnesses died at is 66-67 C.E., which means that all the best evidence that Jesus did exist must come from between ~4 B.C.E. and 67 C.E. We now need to look at the documents that could have been written by people that had access to eye-witnesses. Assuming that learning stories happens at the same time that long term memory develops, the latest someone born that could have been told by an eye-witness is the latter half of 65 C.E. With life expectancy at 35 years of age that means that the last of these people would be expected to have died at about 100 C.E.

100 C.E. is the latest reliable evidence that Jesus existed could have been written, but only if the eye-witnesses and those that had access to eye-witnesses could remember this stuff from when they were 17-21 months old and actually remember it accurately. This is not reasonable, especially since the American Psychological Association says that memories from earlier than about 3.5 years of age is, for most of people, a blank slate.

When we calculate for 3.5 years of age, which is the more reasonable age to use, we get the expected time that people with reliable information died in 96 C.E. This means that any document written after 96 C.E. cannot be reliable for evidence of Jesus" existence. This means that the documents written from ~4 B.C.E. to 96 C.E. would be the absolute most reliable. Documents written from 97 C.E. to, let"s say (since I cannot find what old age was), 120 C.E. have a possibility at being outlier documents, but they still would not be considered that reliable unless you can provide evidence that the author was alive before the latter half of 63 C.E.

Not all evidence is equal. Contemporary evidence, written during the time of the events, is the most reliable. Next, do we have many sources saying the same thing, and are they independent? This is called corroboration without collaboration. Are the sources internally consistent? Are the sources externally consistent? Finally, are the sources unbiased?

Now that I have listed how to find out if the documents are historically reliable or not, we need to list the documents that need to be addressed.
From the reliable years (~4 B.C.E.-96 C.E.):
1. The New Testament (The Gospels, Pauline Epistles, and the other Epistles)
2. Josephus
3. Tacitus
4. Pliny the Younger
5. Thallus (only for an event mentioned in the Bible)
6. Mara Bar Serapion

From the questionably reliable years (97-120 C.E.):
1. Suetonius

From a mix of both:
1. Babylonian Talmud

From after the questionably reliable years (121 C.E-present):
1. Lucian
2. Celsus
3. Mishnah
4. Phlegon of Tralles

Now, we need to see if these accounts are historically reliable or not. We shall start with the New Testament.
Were the authors there personally or have good access to people that were there?
If they did have access, did they offer reliable testimony?
If they did write reliable testimony, has their testimony survived to the present substantially unaltered and intact?

Round 1: Acceptence
Rounds 2-4: New arguments
Rounds 3-5: Rebuttals
Round 5: Conclusion

Sources:
http://sandwichesforsale.blogspot.com......
http://www.apa.org......
http://news.harvard.edu......
Xanxus

Pro

I accept:

I'm not sure if we're going to be able to cover everything in the next 5 rounds so I'm just going to prologue just a little bit here. Let me be clear in saying that we arguing whether or not Jesus was a real historical figure and not whether or not He is God. (I gotchu you con)

"Before we begin we must remember one thing, it is impossible to know with absolute certainty what happened in the past, especially the distant or ill-preserved past. " This is like saying we can't know what exactly happened because we weren't there. Even though this is true we can still form a general concise on what actually happened even many small details may be changed or even corrupted the main ideas generally remain the same. We must also keep in mind that historical figures and events tend to be written by a multitude of perspectives.

I would like to first like to point out that con is a supporter (at least for this debate) of the Christ Myth Theory.

For those unaware of this theory the Christ Myth Theory is defined as:
"The Christ myth theory (also known as the Jesus myth theory, Jesus mythicism or simply mythicism) is the proposition that Jesus of Nazareth never existed, or if he did, he had virtually nothing to do with the founding of Christianity and the accounts in the gospels. Many proponents use a three-fold argument first developed in the 19th century that the New Testament has no historical value, there are no non-Christian references to Jesus Christ from the first century, and that Christianity had pagan and mythical roots."

The Christ Myth Theory has little to no support from Modern Scholars of today:
"Nevertheless, Christ Myth theories find very little support from scholars. According to Bart D. Ehrman (a former Evangelical Christian turned agnostic who has written extensively about the questionable accuracy and authorship of the gospels), most people who study the historical period of Jesus believe that he did exist, and do not write in support of the Christ myth theory."

Most modern scholars of this day and age do believe that Jesus of Nazareth was a person, that his crucifixion and baptism by John are both widely accepted historical facts followed by Jesus' accident at the temple.

Jesus is actually speculated to have lived from 7-2 B.C. to 30-33. AD/C.E. So I would have to ask that the "reliable years just be slightly extended to cover 7 B.C to 33 A.D just so we can cover as much as we can in these five rounds.

I say that we skip over the gospels because we already know that they may not stack up to the three questions presented. Personally, I kind of prefer that way I mean you can't really have faith in something that you know for sure it's true. That kind of ruins the fun of having faith in the first place.

The authors may have had access to the disciples and nephews/nieces of Christ. Yes, Mary had children after she gave birth to Christ. One of them being the apostle James. This alone could have skewed the perspective of Jesus on whether or not the testimony was reliable as to making Him appear more than what He truly was and the opposite could even be true. Let's continue however let's say that the testimony was reliable. I believe through many of the translations that there is a possibility that the gospels could have been tampered (though not intentionally) with during this period though mistranslations and what not. However, these should only cause minor tweaks in the details and let's even go to say that major events were tampered with Jesus is still current in all gospels.

We should keep in mind that many Hebrews people during Jesus' time were illiterate in that many couldn't read AND write. Plus most of the people who could read and belonged to groups like the Pharisees and the Sadducee who were not too fond of Jesus. So without further adieu please continue with your point.

Sources
Allen, Steve. 1990. Steve Allen on the Bible, Religion & Morality. Buffalo, NY: Prometheus.
Barker, Dan. 1992. Losing Faith In Faith. Minneapolis, MN: Freedom From Religion Foundation.
Bettenson, Henry. 1956. The Early Christian Fathers. London, England: Oxford University Press.
Bettenson, Henry. 1961. Documents of the Christian Church. London, England: Oxford University Press.
Blaiklock, E. M. 1970. The Archaeology of the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
Boyd, Robert. 1969. A Pictorial Guide to Biblical Archaeology. New York, NY: Bonanza Books.
Harrison, E. F. 1968. A Short Life of Christ. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans.
Hurst, John F. 1897. History of the Christian Church. Vol. 1. New York, NY: Eaton & Mains.
Jackson, Wayne. 1991. Josephus and the Bible [Part II]. Reason & Revelation, 11:29-32.
Klausner, Joseph. 1989. Jesus of Nazareth. New York, NY: Bloch.
Metzger, Bruce M. 1965. The New Testament"Its Background, Growth, and Content. Nashville, TN: Abingdon.
Metzger, Bruce M. 1968. The Text of the New Testament. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.
Debate Round No. 1
SNP1

Con

First, I would like to say that I do not accept the classic Christ Myth Theories, I simply acknowledge the Null Hypothesis and see the lack of evidence for Jesus of Nazareth. I also would like to point out that the Burden of Proof lies on Pro in this debate.

___________________________________

I do not have enough characters to fully address all the documents listed in this round, but I will address them in the next one. I hope you find the analysis of the documents to be accurate. We have to not only address if the documents are historically accurate, but also if they refer to Jesus or not. To simplify that I have combined the three questions of higher criticism with if it refers to Jesus in certain documents.

First, let"s look at what is in the New Testament. The New Testament is made up of 27 different books:
Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Acts of the Apostles, James, 1 Peter, 2 Peter, 1 John, 2 John, 3 John, Jude, and Revelation are the books that have various authors.
We also have 14 Pauline Epistles, but they are not all written by Paul:
Romans*, 1 Corinthians*, 2 Corinthians*, Galatians*, Philippians*, 1 Thessalonians*, Philemon*; 1 Timothy**, 2 Timothy**, Titus** (pastoral/pseudopigraphic); Ephesians***, Colossians***, 2 Thessalonians***, Hebrews (internally anonymous)

Pauline Epistles Key:
*=Undisputed, written by Paul
**=Modern Scholars agree are Forged
***=Scholars about evenly divided on if they are forged or not
Hebrews is thought by an overwhelming majority to be a forgery
We see 27 books in the New Testament, four are to be forged, and three are disputed on whether they are forged or not. Because of that, these books cannot be used as evidence. That leaves 20 books left in the New Testament to address.

Now, scholars agree that Romans, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Philippians, 1 Thessalonians, and Philemon are written by Paul. That is seven books from the New Testament. These cannot be used as evidence either. The reason is that Paul never met Jesus while Jesus supposedly lived, instead he met Jesus" spirit. If Paul is to be considered a witness of the life of Jesus then Jesus must have been the son of God in order to appear to Paul as a spirit.

This leaves us with 13 books out of 27 to address.

Now, not only did Paul never meet Jesus, but Luke even says so as well. If Luke did not meet Jesus, then that takes another book out as eye-witness testimony. Only 12 books left.

Now, we must address another part of the Gospels. How did they get their names? Pastors and Bishops will say that they are named after the authors, yet that is not accurate. The authors of the Gospels were anonymous, and the names attached were voted on centuries later. We do not know who wrote them, but we can find out things about them.

The apostles were Arabic speaking, not Greek like the books were written in. They were uneducated peasants and fisherman. They could not even write, and very few people knew how to write. The ones that knew how to read and write were all sons of the rich, rabbis would teach people how to read, but they would not teach people how to write. Peter and John are even said to be illiterate in Acts.

The authors of the Gospels were educated and Greek speakers, and they knew how to read and write.

The alleged authors of the Gospels and the real authors are different people. Not a single author of any book of the New Testament was an eyewitness to Jesus' birth, life, ministry, trial, or death. None of the New Testament authors claim to be a witness, and the books were written in 3rd person view not 1st.

This means we have taken out 3 more (since we already eliminated Luke) books. Only 9 of 27 are left. Acts of the Apostles, James, 1 Peter, 2 Peter, 1 John, 2 John, 3 John, Jude, and Revelation are all that are left.

Acts was anonymous, but thought to have been written by the author of Luke, which means that is not written by an eye-witness of Jesus either.

Revelation is written by a man named John, but we do not know if it is the apostle John or not, but scholars do not think it was.

John did not write 1, 2, or 3 John. These books were written by John"s followers, meaning they aren"t eye witnesses.

James is just referred to as James, which was a common name during the time. James, being as common of a name as it was, cannot be used as evidence as no one knows who wrote it.

Although the text identifies Peter as its author the language, dating, style, and structure of this letter has led many scholars to conclude that this letter is pseudonymous. Many scholars are convinced that Peter was not the author of this letter because the author had to have a formal education in rhetoric/philosophy and an advanced knowledge of the Greek language.

Jude is also currently in dispute on who the author was. Some say it was the apostle Jude, others say that it isn"t because the author of that letter does not identified himself as an apostle and refers to the apostles as a third party.

So, who wrote the NT?
Except for 7 of the 13 Pauline epistles, we really do not know. Saul/Paul wrote the [undisputed] epistles - earliest NT author, though he and "Luke" (in Acts) both say they never met Jesus. None of the canonical gospels were actually written by their "traditional" authors. Whoever was the author of Luke may have also written Acts. The author of Revelation was named John, but scholars agree that it is not the author of the Gospel of John.

Did the NT authors offer historically accurate testimony?
No, they contradict each other and extrabiblical history on some major points.

There are ~400,000 variations of the New Testament. The New Testament only has ~181,400 words. Even when looking at the oldest versions of the New Testament we can find it is obvious that it has been changed over time.

The oldest fragment of the New Testament is from the Gospel of John. It includes John 18:31-33 and 37-39 (about 3.5"x2.5"). It was dated to be 117-138 CE, 100 years after Jesus's death. It is a copy. The oldest complete New Testament is from the 4th century, ~300 years after Jesus' death. We do not have the original documents.

When was the New Testament written?
Paul wrote in the 50s C.E. (close to 51), but we only have copies of them. The earliest complete copy of any New Testament book comes from the 3rd century. The earliest complete New Testament dates to the 4th century. It is believed that the canonical gospels written between 70-95 CE (After the reliable years). Most scholars agree that all autographs of the canonical NT were written by ~110 CE.

But, what about the three questions?
Were the New Testament authors in a position to offer reliable, primary-source testimony?
No
Did they, in fact, offer a historically-reliable account?
No
Did their testimonies survive to the present substantially unaltered and intact?
No

It only needs to fail one of the questions to be considered historically unreliable. The New Testament fails all three.

The New Testament is not historically reliable. The New Testament cannot be used to prove that Jesus existed.

Now, onto Josephus.

Josephus' writings about Jesus have been admitted, even by Christian Scholars, to have been tampered with. We also see that the one that most likely tampered with them, Eusebius, also forged letters of Jesus. Josephus was not born until after Jesus had supposedly died. He was upper class while Christians are usually portrayed as being the lower class. In this time the upper class did not usually communicate with the lower class.

We cannot take Josephus' writings about Jesus as reliable because they conflict with his personal beliefs and have been tampered with, if not entirely added. In the court of law tampered evidence cannot be used, so why should we be able to use Josephus' "accounts" of Jesus?

The three questions regarding the mentioning of Jesus by Josephus:
Was Josephus in a position to offer reliable, primary-source testimony?
Most likely not.
Did he, in fact, offer a historically-reliable account?
With the knowledge of the tampering, this question cannot be answered.
Did their testimonies survive to the present substantially unaltered and intact?
No.

Josephus is not historically reliable. Josephus cannot be used as evidence for Jesus" existence.

Tacitus is next.

Tacitus was born 25 years after Jesus' death, meaning he could not have been an eye-witness. It"s also important to note that the original Tacitus Annals Books 11 " 16 are lost. We only have copies, written centuries later. It is doubtful that he was quoting an official Roman document from the period. Scholars are quick to point out that he mistakenly calls Pilate a procurator when he was actually a prefect. Tacitus used his friend Pliny for information before, and he most likely got information from him about Christians. What we can tell is that Tacitus is simply repeating what Christians of this period of time were saying about their origins.

Tacitus most likely did not have access to official documents to get information, if official documents even existed, but we do have confirmation that the Christian religion was growing at this point in time. There is not much basis for concluding that he was presenting independent testimony about the historical figure of Jesus.

The three questions regarding the mentioning of Jesus by Tacitus:
Was he in a position to offer reliable, primary-source testimony?
No
Did he, in fact, offer a historically-reliable account?
No
Did their testimonies survive to the present substantially unaltered and intact?
We do not know

Conclusion is that two of the three questions have failed, Tacitus does not offer historically reliable evidence for the existence of Jesus, just the uprising of the Christian religion.

Next round, since I am low on characters, I will address Pliny, Thallus, Serapion, and the Talmud.

Sources:
https://www.youtube.com......
http://ourrabbijesus.com......
http://jeromekahn123.tripod.com......
Xanxus

Pro

First off, while Paul was not an eye witness to the life of Jesus. Paul did however have access to the to members of the 12 disciples who were eye witnesses to the life of Jesus. In other words, he did have primary and secondary sources to base his books off of.

The apostles did not speak Arabic but Aramaic and it was not uncommon to know some Greek as well under Roman rule. Thank you however for restating my point that many Hebrews were illiterate with most educated people in the community being noblemen, royalty and clergy (Pharisees,Sadducees,etc.)

Another thing as we know, the New Testament was written by a vast array of authours. To put them all together as if they were the same person and subjugate them to the three question analysis method is not the correct way of doing this.

Josephus
You say that
"We cannot take Josephus' writings about Jesus as reliable because they conflict with his personal beliefs and have been tampered with, if not entirely added. In the court of law tampered evidence cannot be used, so why should we be able to use Josephus' "accounts" of Jesus?"

You say that Josephus' writings about Jesus are not reliable because they conflict with his personal beliefs. I find that incredibly unlikely because compliance with personal beliefs do not count as an requirement to provide an account for anything. Josephus was a historian not a poet.

For example:
Josephus' works on John is proven to be authentic
"Craig Evans states that almost all modern scholars consider the Josephus passage on John to be authentic in its entirety, and that what Josephus states about John fits well both with the general depiction of John in the New Testament and within the historical context of the activities of other men, their preachings and their promises during that period"

Louis Feldman, who believes the Josephus passage on John is authentic, states that Christian interpolators would have been very unlikely to have devoted almost twice as much space to John (163 words) as to Jesus (89 words). Feldman also states that a Christian interpolator would have likely altered Josephus' passage about John the Baptist to make the circumstances of the death of John become similar to the New Testament, and to indicate that John was a forerunner of Jesus.

James Dunn states that the accounts of Josephus and the New Testament regarding John the Baptist are closer than they may appear at a first reading. Dunn states that Josephus positions John as a righteous preacher who encourages his followers to practice "righteousness towards one another, and piety towards God" and that Mark 6:20 similarly calls John "a righteous (dikaios) and holy man".Dunn states that Antipas likely saw John as a figure whose ascetic lifestyle and calls for moral reform could provoke a popular uprising on moral grounds, as both Josephus and the New Testament suggest.

Justin Meggitt states that there are fundamental similarities between the Josephus' portrayal of John the Baptist and the New Testament narrative in that in both accounts John is positioned as a preacher of morality, not as someone who had challenged the political authority of Herod Antipas. W. E. Nunnally states that the John passage is considered authentic and that Josephus' emphasis on the egalitarian nature of John's teachings fit well into the biblical and historical traditions

Setzer has even commented on the possibility of a forgery to the Testimonium:
laudia Setzer, who believes in the authenticity of a kernel in the Testimonium, states that while "tribe is an odd way to describe Christians" it does not necessarily have negative connotations. Setzer argues for the existence of an authentic kernel because "the style and vocabulary are Josephan" and specific parts (e.g. the use of "wise man") are not what one would expect from a Christian forger.Setzer argues that the Testimonium indicates that Josephus had heard of Jesus and the basic elements surrounding his death, and that he saw Jesus as primarily a miracle worker. Van Voorst also states that calling Christians a "tribe" would have been very out of character for a Christian scribe, while Josephus has used it to refer both to Jewish and Christian groups.
_________________________________

Paul's Letters
For one thing, Paul"s letters are the earliest writings on Christianity, predating the Gospels by some fifty years. Also, we know he existed. Textual analysis of the epistles proves at least seven of them were written by one guy; and Paul"s historic efforts to open the new church to gentiles are the main reason you"re not reading this in, say, Hebrew. But the biggest thing Paul has going in his favor is his ego. Rather than detail the life story of Jesus, Paul prefers talking about himself"including descriptions of his conversion and travels. Travels which, by the way, include two brief meetings with Jesus" brother James. Since James" existence would have been objectively verifiable to Paul"s readers, the likelihood he made him up is somewhere around "zero""especially since both meetings seem to go quite badly.

Biblical Contradictions
I"ve mentioned before how the Gospels to some degree don"t agree on anything. Some see this as the final nail in historical-Jesus"s coffin; but for others, these screw-ups point in exactly the opposite direction. Take the Gospel of Mark"several times, Mark quite clearly states that Jesus came from Nazareth. A few decades later, Luke and Matthew decide, nu-uh, Bethlehem is where it started. Trouble is, there"s no historical record of anything they say happened there"the census, the slaughter of the innocents"ever, well, happening. On the other hand, there does exist an ancient prophecy saying the messiah would be born in Bethlehem. Not exactly subtle, is it? However, these shenanigans actually give more credence to Mark"s account. It"s called the criterion of embarrassment"basically, the idea that you"d be unlikely to make up something that makes you look bad. Since Nazareth is the "wrong" town for Jesus to come from, Mark would"ve claimed a fictional Jesus came from Bethlehem. That he didn"t suggests his writing was at least grounded in reality.

Baptism
Like a birthplace in the sticks, the Baptism is another feature of Jesus" story that doesn"t tally with Biblical prophecy. At the time, the idea of a spiritually inferior person baptizing a superior one was completely unheard of. Having the messiah baptized by anyone would be seen more as humiliation than humility. Nowadays, we see it as an early sign that Jesus was the humble guy he later turned out to be"but in ancient Judea, that would"ve been a hard sell. A
writer looking to recruit people to his newly made-up church would have probably had Jesus flying over the river, shooting fire and doing backflips while giving John the finger. The fact it"s such a step down for the "son of God" suggests it"s probably based in fact"even if it"s been distorted in the centuries since.

The Crucifixion
For all his reported ability to kill things with the power of words, Gospels" Jesus is basically the Aquaman of Biblical figures. Compared to, say, King David, his awesomeness-to-piousness ratio is sadly lacking. And that"s important, because the Messiah was prophesied to be a warrior king who would flush the scum out of Jerusalem and bring about God"s kingdom on Earth. By contrast, Jesus rides around on a donkey and is executed before he can get anything done. Remember the criterion of embarrassment? In the first century, crucifixion was a humiliating way to die. Anyone writing Jesus from the ground up would have had him go out in a one-on-one fistfight with Julius Caesar or something. As scholar Bart Ehrman puts it: "The Christians did not invent Jesus. They invented the idea that the messiah had to be crucified." Basically, early Christians were so embarrassed by the crucifixion they did everything they could to turn it into a victory. Hell, they probably wished they had just made him up"it would"ve saved them all a lot of trouble.

Let"s look at some of the more famous and universally accepted historical documents and see how they match up with the Bible:
Plato " Plato wrote his works from 427-347 BC. The earliest manuscript copy of Plato"s writing in existence today was written in 900 AD. That is 1,200 years after Plato"s death! And there are only 2 copies of these manuscripts in existence. (

Julius Caesar " One of the most celebrated and trusted historical figures. Caesar lived from 100-44 BC and the earliest manuscript copy of his writings dates back to 900 AD, putting our best evidence of Caesar ever existing 1,000 years after his death. And there are 10 copies of ancient manuscripts of Caesar"s Gallic Wars. So if you question the Bible based on when it was written, being "translated so many times" (it was not " we still have the same Greek manuscripts today) and still question whether Jesus existed, then you must also be really sure that Julius Caesar and Plato were completely fictional characters and never really existed.

Homer " Homer, who historians are not even sure ever really existed even today, is credited with writing the Iliad in ca 900 BC. The earliest manuscript copy of the Iliad dates to 400 BC. Meaning the only proof of Homer or the Iliad being accurate is from 500 years after the death of Homer. Additionally there are 643 copies of ancient manuscripts of the Iliad written over the centuries that when compared against each other by experts have a 95.3 consistency and accuracy, making it one of the most reliable and proven documents of antiquity.

W. E. Nunnally "Deeds of Kindness" in The Wiley-Blackwell Companion to Religion and Social Justice by Michael D. Palmer and Stanley M. Burgess 2012

http://carm.org...
Jesus and His Contemporaries: Comparative Studies by Craig A. Evans 2001 ISBN 0-391-04118-5 page 43
Van Voorst 2000, pp. 89-90.
Jesus and the oral Gospel tradition by Henry Wansbrough
The Cradle, the Cross, and the Crown: An Introdu
Debate Round No. 2
SNP1

Con

"First off, while Paul was not an eye witness to the life of Jesus. Paul did however have access to the to members of the 12 disciples..."

I would like to see evidence that he had access to disciples, if any existed. The Gospels were written after the Pauline Epistles by non-eye-witnesses, so there is no evidence that there really were any disciples.

"The apostles did not speak Arabic but Aramaic and it was not uncommon to know some Greek as well under Roman rule"

Thank you for correcting Arabic to Aramaic, but that does not change the point that they were illiterate and not Greek speaking. I see no source provided to show that they would have also spoken Greek.

"Another thing as we know, the New Testament was written by a vast array of authours""

I broke down all the authors separately in order to preserve character space, but the end conclusion is still reached accurately after the breakdown.

"Josephus
You say that""

Not exactly, and I am even agreeing with Scholars on this point. Josephus" writing about Jesus is as if Jesus is the messiah, a great figure, however Josephus was not a believer in Jesus as the messiah. It isn"t what he wrote that brings it to question, it is how he wrote it that does.

"For example:
Josephus' works on John is proven to be authentic"

This is not a debate about John or the authenticity of all of Josephus" works, it is about the existence of Jesus of Nazareth.

"James Dunn states that the accounts of Josephus and the New Testament regarding John the Baptist are closer than they may appea""

Just because the New Testament is not historically reliable does not mean that it cannot have some historical information in it. Harry Potter includes cities that are real, does not make the story or everything in it true. This is not a debate about John, it is about Jesus of Nazareth.

"Setzer has even commented on the possibility of a forgery to the Testimonium:"

To say that it has a kernel of authenticity is the have misplaced faith. There is no evidence to support what it might have said beforehand. I would also like sources with links so that I can at least see what evidence you are using to support your claims.

_____

"Paul's Letters"

I would like to see sources for this claim. I also would like to point out that the life expectancy of the time makes it unlikely for Paul to have met James.

"Biblical Contradictions""

Already pointed out that the Gospels are not historically accurate documents, so this is useless information to bring up.

"Baptism"

This is making assumptions on the origin of Jesus. If Jesus did not exist there are many sources that could have started this story, and that also means that this point is limited to a smaller group of possible origins of the story. It is in no way evidence for the existence of Jesus.

"The Crucifixion"

Again, this is making a lot of assumptions.

"Let"s look at some of the more famous and universally accepted historical documents and see how they match up with the Bible:"

This is complete Red Herring. This is a debate about Jesus, not Caesar, Homer, etc.

____

I left off with Tacitus, so Pliny the Younger is up now.

He wrote a letter to Emperor Trajan asking for advice on how to deal with the rapid growth of the Christian community in his area. Among other things, he describes the Christian custom of holding weekly meetings to sing praises "to Christ as to a god." Pliny was only describing an element of Christian worship. His comments say nothing about the historicity of Jesus. It is just confirming that the religion exists.

The three questions regarding the mentioning of Jesus by Pliny:
Was he in a position to offer reliable, primary-source testimony?
We do not know
Did he, in fact, offer a historically-reliable account of Jesus?
No, he did not give any testimony to the existence of Jesus, only to the worship of Christians.
Did their testimonies survive to the present substantially unaltered and intact?
We do not know

Pliny never accounted for the existence of Jesus, he simply confirmed that Christianity was growing. Pliny cannot be used as evidence of Jesus" existence.

Thallus" mention of a biblical event is now ready for a simple debunk.

Historian Richard Carrier states the following "It is commonly claimed that a chronologer named Thallus, writing shortly after 52CE, mentioned the crucifixion of Jesus and the noontime darkness surrounding it (which reportedly eclipsed the whole world for three hours), and attempted to explain it as an ordinary solar eclipse. But this is not a credible interpretation of the evidence. A stronger case can be made that we actually have a direct quotation of what Thallus said, and it does not mention Jesus"

We do not need to put it through the 3 question system as Richard Carrier already stated it is not a credible source by stating that Thallus never mentions Jesus. If it does not mention Jesus then it does not give evidence of Jesus" existence. Thallus cannot be used for evidence.

Mara Bar Serapion now has to be addressed.

"... What advantage did the Jews gain from executing their wise King?"

All this document talks about that is supposedly a reference of Jesus is the mention of the Wise King of the Jews. It does not refer to Jesus directly, it doesn"t even mention Christ. How is this a mention of Jesus? It is not.

During the time that Jesus supposedly lived there were many people pretending to be the Messiah of the Jews. There is also no way of knowing where the information from this letter was obtained. When we put it through the 3 questions, this is what we get.

Was he in a position to offer reliable, primary-source testimony?
We do not know
Did he, in fact, offer a historically-reliable account of Jesus?
No, he did not give any testimony to the existence of Jesus, only to the "Wise King," which does not necessarily mean Jesus.
Did their testimonies survive to the present substantially unaltered and intact?
We do not know

It fails the second question, so it cannot be used for evidence that Jesus existed either.

Finally, we must address the Babylonian Talmud.

Starting in the 13th century, manuscripts of the Talmud were sometimes altered in response to the criticisms made during the disputations. Johann Maier, a talmudic scholar, discounts accounts with no mention of the name Jesus, and further discounts those that do mention Jesus by name, such as Sanh. 43a and 107b, as later medieval changes. As well as that, most mentions of "Jesus" are vague and/or mention Jesus as a different person (for example, Jesus son of Pantera).

Let"s put this through the three questions now.

Was he in a position to offer reliable, primary-source testimony?
We do not know
Did he, in fact, offer a historically-reliable account of Jesus?
No
Did their testimonies survive to the present substantially unaltered and intact?
No

It fails the test, it is not historically reliable. This means it cannot be used as evidence for the existence of Jesus.

Now, we need to look for other evidence that could confirm the existence of Jesus and put it through Higher Criticism after evaluating the evidence itself. We can also look at documents that should include Jesus, but do not. The best thing we can bring up for that is that there exist no official Roman documents about Jesus and there exists no contemporary evidence about Jesus. One other thing we can do is point out that there existed people whose job was to record cult movements around the area but never mentioned Jesus.

We can also look at where Jesus is supposedly from, Nazareth. When we look at records, even from Josephus, we see no mention of Nazareth anywhere but in the New Testament. Josephus even recorded a military campaign where the Romans moved into the very vicinity of Nazareth, but he makes no mention of it. Other evidence people bring up is the caves, yet that goes completely against Jewish traditions and customs. They buried people in caves and did not live near cemeteries or graves, and they would not live near dead bodies. It is always pointed out that a popular website of an excavation of Nazareth calls it a "single family farm." A single family farm is not a city or a town. It seems that there is no evidence that Nazareth even existed, and by the Null Hypothesis it is most logical to think that Nazareth did not actually exist.

We are lacking historically reliable evidence and we have no contemporary evidence of the existence of Jesus, we don't even have evidence that Nazareth existed. It appears that there is nothing to show Jesus actually lived. Furthermore, the earlier copies of many documents that we have say Chrestos, Christos, Christians, etc., but the problem is that that does not automatically make it Jesus. Chrestos could be a person"s name, worshipers of the Pagan God Serapis (sometimes called Chrestos) were called Christians. Further, the word Christ does not even mean Jesus. The word Christ was a title that was given to any "anointed one of God." This included pretty much every priest and king, and occasionally prophets.

Sources:
http://www.doxa.ws......
http://www.jgrchj.net......
http://www.mountainman.com.au......
http://ourrabbijesus.com......
Xanxus

Pro

Xanxus forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
SNP1

Con

My opponent and I have agreed on a postponement of this debate.
Xanxus

Pro

Xanxus forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
SNP1

Con

Reminder that we agreed on a postponement. Do not vote on this debate.
Xanxus

Pro

Thank you for understanding
Debate Round No. 5
13 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by derplington 2 years ago
derplington
IF I could vote, yes.
Posted by SNP1 2 years ago
SNP1
It is alright, hope we have better luck next time
Posted by Xanxus 2 years ago
Xanxus
That would actually be great. Thanks you. Sorry this was unexpected.
Posted by SNP1 2 years ago
SNP1
Actually, I copied and pasted it from my original debate. There was a team debate, 3v3, 3 1v1s. My side won with 2 wins and 1 tie.
Posted by cMitchell13 2 years ago
cMitchell13
ah, you copy and pasted the arguments from me & your debate...no wonder you can write so fast.
Posted by SNP1 2 years ago
SNP1
I do understand. If you want we can postpone this debate until a time that you have more time.
Posted by Xanxus 2 years ago
Xanxus
I'll try to use only website from now your right. I should let you know got new job and it's been eating up most of my day. (8 hours shifts) So by off- chance I can't finish my next argument in time that's probably the reason. I would finish it now but I'm too tuckered out. I hope you understand.
Posted by SNP1 2 years ago
SNP1
If possible can you provide sources that I can actually check out personally? I could link source after source if I wanted to, but it wouldn't mean too much if you cannot check out the source personally.
Posted by Xanxus 2 years ago
Xanxus
Ran out of characters T_T
So I couldn't include all my sources. I'll have them for you in the next argument though.
Sorry about that.
Posted by SNP1 2 years ago
SNP1
Yes, but the reason I reject that is because I have actually talked to scholars and historians, asking them why they say Jesus was a real figure. The one I remember the most used Josephus as evidence, then later, when I asked, said Josephus' account of Jesus was most likely a forgery. I reject the claim because of the lack of logic that any scholar or historian I have talked to for reaching the conclusion of Jesus being a historical figure.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by FuzzyCatPotato 2 years ago
FuzzyCatPotato
SNP1XanxusTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Epic debate, would love to see more.