The Instigator
Brock_Meyer
Pro (for)
Winning
34 Points
The Contender
mongeese
Con (against)
Losing
27 Points

Jesus of Nazareth never existed

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 10 votes the winner is...
Brock_Meyer
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 5/25/2009 Category: Religion
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 3,360 times Debate No: 8409
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (14)
Votes (10)

 

Brock_Meyer

Pro

Bertrand Russell said, "Historically, it is quite doubtful whether Christ ever existed at all, and if He did we do not know anything about Him." Roderic Dunkerley mirrored this sentiment: "In none of these various testimonies to the fact of Christ is there any slightest hint or idea that he was not a real historical person." In fact, the events of verifiable, documented history can be better accounted for without a real, breathing Jesus. Shocking? Indeed. We know that powerful beliefs can create self-fulfilling prophesies. People in history wanted a messiah, a savior from the tyrannical Romans, and managed to create one out of thin air.

The historical record is conspicuously lacking any real support for the notion of a historical Jesus: artifacts, dwellings, works of carpentry, self-written manuscripts, all missing. All claims about Jesus ultimately reduce to the writings of others, and there has never been any Roman record of Pontius Pilate executing the fringe radical Jew named Jesus. Devastating to historians, for whom the existence of Jesus Christ is curiously indisputable, there has never been a single piece of contemporary writing ever discovered that mentions Jesus or a related figure. All documents relating to the savior were written at least decades after the alleged life of Jesus. These writings invariably break down into three separate categories: unknown authors, people who had never met an earthly Jesus, or apocryphal, allegorical writings.

Fortunately, courts of law do not allow hearsay to serve as proof in a case. The same is true with honest scholarship. Hearsay cannot function as evidence because there is no way of verifying what the person has said is actually true, or is based on bias or misconception. Hearsay cannot, by definition, be evidence.

The most trusted accounts of Jesus as a human person emerge from the four canonical Gospels. The reason only these four Gospels in particular remain is that St. Irenaeus considered for mystical reasons only some of the many heretical gospels that existed at the time. Four Gospels became the pillars of orthodox faith. Not only do we not know who wrote them, consider that none of the Gospels existed during the alleged life of Jesus, nor do the unknown authors make the claim to have met a human Jesus. Additionally, none of the original gospel manuscripts exist.

Apologists will point to non-Christian authors that exist outside of Christianity as proof of an historical Jesus. However, none of these sources represents first-hand experiences of Jesus, for all of these accounts come from authors who lived after the alleged life of Jesus. Viewed this way, these accounts are hearsay accounts and therefore cannot serve as evidence. Apologists will continue to embarrass their disregard for the rules of historiography as they use after-the-event writings as evidence for the event itself. These authors omit sources for their commentaries on Jesus. This may be because not a single historian, philosopher, scribe or follower who lived before or during the alleged time of Jesus ever mentions him.

It indeed seems strange that if on one hand the Gospels portray Jesus as a famous healer and prophet, with a wide following and sense of notoriety (especially with the Jewish high priests and Roman authorities), would not have a single record of his existence during his lifetime. Since the poor, the rich, the rulers, the priests, and the scribes all knew about the human Jesus, why does he not exist in historical accounts from that time? Two questions immediately come to mind: (1) Why were there no writings by the 42 historians living around the region of Judea between the years 1 and 35 A.D.? Jesus was supposedly a miracle man and even if he disappeared until he was thirty there should have been much written, especially after his resurrection which was supposedly witnessed by hundreds or thousands. (2) Why did it take so long for someone to write something? A multitude has been written about the historical Jesus from 60 A.D. on, but absolutely nothing before that.

To use an analogy for this absence, imagine going through the vastness of eighteenth century literature and finding nothing about George Washington. George Washington, a prominent figure in the push for American independence, gained no mention in the annals of history. Then, in nineteenth century literature, one finds suddenly a wealth of information about George Washington, as if people had suddenly remembered the commander of the Continental Army. Yet Christians deal precisely with this absurdity. Despite a clear lack of evidence, apologists and historians push hearsay evidence as proof of an alleged life of Jesus Christ. Consequently, despite being omnipotent, the Creator of the Universe makes a rather embarrassing case for his existence.

Simply put, faith cannot yield historical fact. Claims coming from hearsay cannot equal an adequate attempt to find the truth. Unfortunately, belief frequently substitutes as infallible knowledge; thus, not even direct evidence can prove it wrong. There are indeed many myths, stories, and beliefs about Jesus. Nevertheless, if one wishes to arrive at the facts of history, one cannot even begin to construct a testable account in the absence of reliable eyewitnesses. In the absence of real evidence for Jesus Christ, there is no room for probabilities in the matter. Just as in a court of law, there is no "75% guilty." We are not obligated to entertain arbitrary claims, and so the burden of proof lies on those who believe Jesus existed as a real person.
mongeese

Con

My opponent claims that nothing was written about Jesus of Nazareth during the time in which he was alive. This is false.

"The most trusted accounts of Jesus as a human person emerge from the four canonical Gospels. The reason only these four Gospels in particular remain is that St. Irenaeus considered for mystical reasons only some of the many heretical gospels that existed at the time. Four Gospels became the pillars of orthodox faith. Not only do we not know who wrote them, consider that none of the Gospels existed during the alleged life of Jesus, nor do the unknown authors make the claim to have met a human Jesus. Additionally, none of the original gospel manuscripts exist."
Not so.

The Gospels are not completely unknown, as there are four men who are largely believed to have been the Gospels:
http://en.wikipedia.org...
http://en.wikipedia.org...
http://en.wikipedia.org...
http://en.wikipedia.org...

Matthew and John were two of Jesus' twelve Apostles.
Mark's role within the Bible is disputed, but his life is known.
Luke was the companion of Paul (http://en.wikipedia.org...).

In the writing of the Bible, the first-person is used often, implying that the writers were in fact disciples or such others. Notice how, on his Wiki page, it is mentioned countless times about the uncontestable accuracy of Luke's writings. His place in the Bible alone is enough to give it strong verification for its accuracy. Therefore, if Luke writes it down, it is almost most definitely true.

Many letters documented in the Bible were also written by people who had witnessed Jesus firsthand.

So, there was, in fact, much writing of Jesus of Nazareth by people who knew him, or people who worked with those who knew him.

Sure, perhaps the Gospels' texts were first published 30 years after crucifixion. However, this may have been because the Bible took so long to assemble. It involved the documentation of numerous letters, and in Luke's case, it must have taken decades of research.

"The historical record is conspicuously lacking any real support for the notion of a historical Jesus: artifacts, dwellings, works of carpentry, self-written manuscripts, all missing. All claims about Jesus ultimately reduce to the writings of others, and there has never been any Roman record of Pontius Pilate executing the fringe radical Jew named Jesus. Devastating to historians, for whom the existence of Jesus Christ is curiously indisputable, there has never been a single piece of contemporary writing ever discovered that mentions Jesus or a related figure. All documents relating to the savior were written at least decades after the alleged life of Jesus. These writings invariably break down into three separate categories: unknown authors, people who had never met an earthly Jesus, or apocryphal, allegorical writings."
Perhaps there was some radical Roman guy who wanted to remove all historical traces of Jesus' life in an attempt to squash Christianity. Actually, he could have been any anti-Jesus radical. He just needed to have access to a number of records. In fact, it could have been a radical group of people who decided to seek out and destroy all evidence of Jesus' life in an attempt to forget his existence. Because the Bible was so radically published, they couldn't destroy every copy, but they could have done a pretty good job with government records. To make it to today, a document would have to survive for two entire millennia. However, it only takes about five seconds for a document to burn up in flames.

Thus, the "unknown" Gospels are known, and one of them is an amazingly accurate historian, who has almost all of his other work verified. They witnessed Jesus either firsthand or secondhand, and they wrote down their experiences in a reasonable amount of time for all of the work they put into it. Therefore, it is easily within the realm of reason that Jesus of Nazareth did, in fact, historically exist, as long as one keeps a slightly open mind to the possible events of history.

Thank you for starting this debate.
Debate Round No. 1
Brock_Meyer

Pro

"The Gospels are not completely unknown, as there are four men who are largely believed to have been the Gospels."

Not only do we not know who wrote the Gospels (they are after all anonymous), none of the Gospels existed during the alleged life of Jesus, nor do these anonymous writers claim to have seen a historical Jesus. In other words, "common belief" does not make historical reality, and the use of the first-person does not prove something is not hearsay. A vast majority of the Gospels are in third-person, which is strange if the authors consider themselves eyewitnesses to Jesus. In any case, in the best-case scenario, the Gospels can only serve as hearsay. At worst, they are fictional or mythological stories.

Many biblical historians date the earliest of the Gospels (of Mark) at sometime after 70 A.D. The last Gospel (of John) after 90 A.D., which makes it approximately 40 years of silence after the crucifixion of a Jesus(1). The Church has pointed to the apostles Mark, Luke, Matthew, and John, but scholars know from critical textural research that there simply occurs no evidence that the gospel authors could have been the apostles in the Gospel stories. Granting the assumption that the texts support the notion that the apostles are the authors, note the average life span of humans at that time was approximately 30. Very few reached 70. If the apostles were the same age as the alleged Jesus, and wrote their gospels in old age, that would make St. Mark at least 70 years old and St. John well over 110. Truly a miracle!

A detailed look of the Gospels Matthew, Mark, and Luke should reveal Mark as the common element between Matthew and Luke: the main source for both of them. The author of Luke's Gospel admits to being an interpreter and not an eyewitness (Luke 1:1-4). Many scholars think Matthew and Luke were derived from Mark and another hypothetical document(2). Yet again, one encounters questionable methodology and apocryphal sources.

John, the last Gospel, consists of lengthy theologies from Jesus, not literal words from a historical Jesus. The Gospel of John disagrees with events described in Mark, Matthew, and Luke. In addition, the anonymous pen of this Gospel wrote it in Greek near the end of the first century. This is according to the Bishop Shelby Spong(3).

"Perhaps there was some radical Roman guy who wanted to remove all historical traces of Jesus' life in an attempt to squash Christianity. Actually, he could have been any anti-Jesus radical."

This response simply does not hold water, given the enormous response to Jesus described in the Bible. The Gospels mention, numerous times, the vast numbers following Jesus, congregating to hear him. These gatherings grew so large that Luke 12:1 claims an "innumerable multitude of people... trode one upon another." Luke 5:15 claims there grew "a fame abroad of him: and great multitudes came together to hear..." Jesus' persecution drew so much attention that all the chief priests and scribes not only knew about him but helped in his execution (Luke 19:47, 23:13, Matt 21:15-23, 26:3).

Thus, either the Bible is exaggerating the situation (and thus wrong, and thus fallible, and thus... you get the point), or this Roman or otherwise anti-Jesus radical must have been an atomic bomb of censorship to destroy all records and all memory of the man. Something must have survived, even if there was an extensive effort to destroy the eyewitness accounts of Jesus' existence. This is despite the fact that this response is relatively weak, insofar as it offers a possible account of what happened.

------------------
(1) = Elaine Pagels, "The Origin of Satan"
(2) = Randel McCraw Helms, "Who Wrote the Gospels?"
(3) = Bishop Shelby Spong, "Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism"
mongeese

Con

"Not only do we not know who wrote the Gospels (they are after all anonymous), none of the Gospels existed during the alleged life of Jesus, nor do these anonymous writers claim to have seen a historical Jesus."
No, they were not anonymous. They signed their names as Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. These names have been traced back to four people who very conveniently fit the evidence given as people who could have written the Gospels.

"A vast majority of the Gospels are in third-person, which is strange if the authors consider themselves eyewitnesses to Jesus."
Any point at which the narrator did something was in first-person. The authors obviously did not write from the viewpoint of Jesus, so they were not part of most of the story. It's kind of like Lemony Snicket's role in A Series of Unfortunate Events. [1] Snicket narrates the story in first person all the way, but the action of the main characters are in third person. It makes perfect sense.

"The Church has pointed to the apostles Mark, Luke, Matthew, and John, but scholars know from critical textural research that there simply occurs no evidence that the gospel authors could have been the apostles in the Gospel stories. Granting the assumption that the texts support the notion that the apostles are the authors, note the average life span of humans at that time was approximately 30. Very few reached 70. If the apostles were the same age as the alleged Jesus, and wrote their gospels in old age, that would make St. Mark at least 70 years old and St. John well over 110. Truly a miracle!"
For one thing, you claim that there is critical textural research, but you do not give it. You only give sources as books, and even then, you give no page numbers. I would like to see some online evidence that could back up your statements, as well as more detailed evidence that can actually be countered.
Furthermore, it really does you no good to claim that it must have been a miracle for men to survive to old ages, as we are talking about a supposed miracle-worker, and the datings could very easily be wrong. A bit more evidence would be needed.

"A detailed look of the Gospels Matthew, Mark, and Luke should reveal Mark as the common element between Matthew and Luke: the main source for both of them. The author of Luke's Gospel admits to being an interpreter and not an eyewitness (Luke 1:1-4). Many scholars think Matthew and Luke were derived from Mark and another hypothetical document. Yet again, one encounters questionable methodology and apocryphal sources."
Well, by all means, give us this detailed look. I already acknowledged that Luke was a second-hand source; however, he was also an incredibly accurate historian, who wrote down the events he researched. You give no sources for these "many scholars." Yet again, I encounter source-less claims about general scholars.

"John, the last Gospel, consists of lengthy theologies from Jesus, not literal words from a historical Jesus. The Gospel of John disagrees with events described in Mark, Matthew, and Luke. In addition, the anonymous pen of this Gospel wrote it in Greek near the end of the first century. This is according to the Bishop Shelby Spong."
Ah, but how do they disagree? And could you give an online source to back the Greek argument?

"This response simply does not hold water, given the enormous response to Jesus described in the Bible...
Thus, either the Bible is exaggerating the situation (and thus wrong, and thus fallible, and thus... you get the point), or this Roman or otherwise anti-Jesus radical must have been an atomic bomb of censorship to destroy all records and all memory of the man. Something must have survived, even if there was an extensive effort to destroy the eyewitness accounts of Jesus' existence. This is despite the fact that this response is relatively weak, insofar as it offers a possible account of what happened."
Perhaps the idea of "an innumerable multitude of people" and "great multitudes" did not exactly describe thousands upon thousands, or even hundreds upon hundreds. It could have been about fifty people per sermon, and it would be a great multitude under the eyes of some.
Furthermore, the Bible is that something that survived. If all of the Romans in the government who executed Jesus decided that they would not record it, and would destroy all of his documentation, so as to remove all possibility of his existence, they could have immediately done a very good job. Many of the people who met Jesus were probably illiterate, so only a few people could write decent accounts of Jesus: the four Gospels.

So, in conclusion, it is easily possible for the Bible to have been written by two eyewitnesses of Jesus, and two secondary-source historians, as well as early radicals destroying all evidence of Jesus with the exception of the Bible. Vote CON.

Again, I ask for an online source. Thank you.

1. http://en.wikipedia.org...
Debate Round No. 2
Brock_Meyer

Pro

"No, they were not anonymous… written the Gospels."

Wikipedia on the Gospel of Matthew states, "Irenaeus had reasons to convince his readers of the apostolic origin of the books: Irenaeus and many other Church leaders were involved in heated debate over correct doctrine... Each group adhering to a certain doctrine had books in proof of their view. In order to support the authenticity of previously anonymous gospels, names were attached to them."(1)

"For one thing, you claim that… can actually be countered."

It's rather absurd to think that "critical textural research" can occur on a specific page number in a book, or that credible critical textural research is found from an online source. The evidence is in these books, in tens or hundreds of pages, with the testimonies of knowledgeable authors. It's simply regrettable that they are not more easily accessible, but that is a problem inherent to high-level debates like this one.

"Furthermore, it really does you… would be needed."

A bit more evidence for what? That Jesus isn't the son of God? At what point does evidence become irrelevant and faith become sufficient? I ask only because there will reach a certain point in this discussion where my claims are rejected on the basis that "Jesus is a miracle-worker" or that "John was blessed by Jesus with the good fortune to live 4x the average life expectancy of a man at that time." Dating could be wrong, or it could be right. I am not infallible, nor are the archeologists and historians investigating this time period. Nevertheless, "the burden of proof lies on those who believe Jesus existed as a real person". A 50% chance of these dates being correct does not mean anything, just as a 50% chance of Jesus being a real person does not mean anything.

"Well, by all means, give us this detailed look... Yet again, I encounter source-less claims about general scholars."

For those unfamiliar, it is commonly referred to as the Synoptic Problem, which remains completely unsolved. In the three Synoptic Gospels, there are numerous lines that are almost copy and pasted into one another, which is a problem if the Gospels were constructed in very different places at very different times, as is likely the case. It seems that Mark is the source for the other two Gospels. I refer you to source (2) for a detailed analysis of the textural similarities between these documents and the hypotheses regarding the "Priority of Mark": the thought that Mark is the source of the other two Gospels.

"Ah, but how do they disagree?"

For one, they disagree about the length of Jesus' ministry, which is a rather important point and something the apostles should have known equally well. The Synoptic Gospels estimate the length to be 1 year and the alleged Gospel of John estimates 3 years(3).

"And could you give an online source to back the Greek argument?"

(4).

"Perhaps the idea of ‘an… about fifty people per sermon, and it would be a great multitude under the eyes of some."

That is beside the point. Apparently, all of the scribes knew of Jesus, so it is disingenuous to think that despite there being no evidence, that there could be evidence or was evidence that was unfortunately destroyed. All I have to say is try working that defense in a court of law.

"Furthermore, the Bible is that something that survived."

The Bible is hearsay evidence. The apostles did not write the Gospels. Their names were attached to the Gospels, which were until that point anonymous.

"If all of the Romans… done a very good job."

Well, that's a possibility. Unfortunately, that's all it is. Aside from that, there is little evidence to support that the Romans hated Jesus that much, or feared Jesus that much so as to erase him from history. There is no evidence that the Romans hated Jesus. Mark's Gospel says that Pontius Pilate tried to release Jesus on the pretext that he should release a prisoner during the Passover, but the people demanded that he crucify him, while Pilate asked, "Why? What evil has he done?" (15:6-14).

"Many of the people who met Jesus were probably illiterate, so only a few people could write decent accounts of Jesus: the four Gospels."

Jerusalem was a center for education and Jewish record keeping, and the Romans were quite diligent in their reports. Consider Philo Judaeus, a noted philosopher and historian of the era who lived in the region of Jerusalem, and wrote detailed accounts of events in his neighborhood during the time of Jesus. And yet not one word of Jesus. Was Philo was literate?

"… it is easily possible… the exception of the Bible."

I will grant your conclusion, namely that it is possible. Unfortunately, I conclude possibility is not good enough. The Bible is hearsay and clearly contradicted by the facts that we have independent of that one source. The Gospels are not the product of the apostles. The Synoptic problem poses a specific problem for anyone who wants to believe that the Gospels are really accurate at all. The Gospels disagree with one another in very significant ways.

These holes are simply too big for apologists to fill. Even if we decide to grant all the leniency we can, it remains a huge mystery why the only knowledge we have of Jesus comes from these hearsay documents.

"Vote CON."

Vote CON if you believe that "easy possibility" and hearsay double as evidence. But before you vote CON, think of the precedent doing will set and how low you will set the bar for the absurd and the arbitrary. Even if you do not want to agree with me, look at the lack of evidence and the shoddy excuses that have been offered to refute credible objections to the reliability of a long tradition of untruth and bad scholarship. Vote PRO.

------
(1) = http://en.wikipedia.org...
(2) = http://www.crivoice.org...
(3) = http://paganizingfaithofyeshua.netfirms.com...
(4) = http://www.newadvent.or...
mongeese

Con

Wikipedia on the Gospel of Matthew states..."
That's one man's opinions. Specifically, it was Erhman's opinions. Many more agree with Matthew's authorship.

From the same article:
"The first evidence for Mattean authorship was believed to be Papias, a second century Bishop of Hierapolis. His findings are stated in Eusebius H.E. 3.39, that says, ‘Matthew made and ordered arrangement of the oracles in the Hebrew (or: Aramaic) language, and each one translated (or: interpreted) it as he was able' (Allison and Davies 2004, xi)...
Many scholars have asked 'Why would an eyewitness rely so heavily on the work of someone who was not an eyewitness' (DeSilva 2004, 234)? However, it is seen that Matthew only used the 90 percent of Mark's Gospel as a foundation and he 'would try not to reinvent that part of the wheel that worked for him, giving his attention rather to combining Mark's building blocks with his own enormous collection of Jesus' teachings' (DeSilva 2004, 235)."
So, your claim is not set in stone.

"At what point does evidence become irrelevant and faith become sufficient?"
I don't know, but it is a case in favor of Jesus of Nazareth. Furthermore, what evidence is used to back the datings that are supposedly correct?

"In the three Synoptic Gospels, there are numerous lines that are almost copy and pasted into one another, which is a problem if the Gospels were constructed in very different places at very different times, as is likely the case."
And why is it likely the case? It could be very well possible that Luke and Matthew both read Mark's writings before they wrote the information that they knew. Hey, Mark's writings could have even inspired the two of them to research the life of Jesus of Narazeth.

"The Synoptic Gospels estimate the length to be 1 year and the alleged Gospel of John estimates 3 years."
John could have been bad at math. If the ministry started in March of one year and ended in October two years later, one who isn't adept in math would see one full year (the middle year), while a wiser man would count a full year, and great chunks of two additional years, to make three years. It is only an estimate, after all. They could also be thinking of different points at which to consider the ministry to be started or ended.

Your source for the Greek argument fails. The link is broken.

"All I have to say is try working that defense in a court of law."
This is not a court of law. This is a debate.

"The Bible is hearsay evidence. The apostles did not write the Gospels. Their names were attached to the Gospels, which were until that point anonymous."
For one thing, the Gospels haven't been proven to not be apostles, and there is still much evidence for the authenticity of the Gospels, such as the accuracy of the Gospel of Luke. Furthermore, you asked for that something that survived, and that was the Bible. Of course, it was hearsay, but it still survived, and it's all we've got. The radicals could have done a pretty good job with the rest of the stuff.

"Aside from that, there is little evidence to support that the Romans hated Jesus that much, or feared Jesus that much so as to erase him from history."
For one thing, it didn't have to be Romans. It could have easily been a group of anti-Jesus radicals. They obviously wouldn't record their actions, as that would defeat the point of their actions. Documents would have to survive for two thousand years. All it takes is one man's decisions to remove it.

"Jerusalem was a center for education and Jewish record keeping, and the Romans were quite diligent in their reports. Consider Philo Judaeus, a noted philosopher and historian of the era who lived in the region of Jerusalem, and wrote detailed accounts of events in his neighborhood during the time of Jesus. And yet not one word of Jesus. Was Philo was literate?
http://www.newadvent.org...
"But it is hardly probable that Philo had heard enough of Christ and His followers to give an historical foundation to the foregoing legends."

Apparently, there are a few scattered sources of Jesus, including:
"The earliest non-Christian writer who refers Christ is the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus; born A.D. 37, he was a contemporary of the Apostles, and died in Rome A.D. 94. Two passages in his 'Antiquities' which confirm two facts of the inspired Christian records are not disputed. In the one he reports the murder of 'John called Baptist' by Herod, describing also John's character and work; in the other he disapproves of the sentence pronounced by the high priest Ananus against 'James, brother of Jesus Who was called Christ.'"
From Josephus' writings: "About this time appeared Jesus, a wise man (if indeed it is right to call Him man; for He was a worker of astonishing deeds, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with joy), and He drew to Himself many Jews (many also of Greeks. This was the Christ.) And when Pilate, at the denunciation of those that are foremost among us, had condemned Him to the cross, those who had first loved Him did not abandon Him (for He appeared to them alive again on the third day, the holy prophets having foretold this and countless other marvels about Him.) The tribe of Christians named after Him did not cease to this day."
"The historical character of Jesus Christ is also attested by the hostile Jewish literature of the subsequent centuries..."

"These holes are simply too big for apologists to fill. Even if we decide to grant all the leniency we can, it remains a huge mystery why the only knowledge we have of Jesus comes from these hearsay documents."
I have a solution to the mystery, and with "all the leniency we can [grant]," it is the solution.

Vote PRO if you believe that one error in a book makes the entire document a falsehood. But before you vote PRO, think about how evidence is lost over the years, and how a lack of documentation does not prove the documents were never written. Vote CON.
Debate Round No. 3
Brock_Meyer

Pro

"That's one man's opinions. Specifically, it was Erhman's opinions. Many more agree with Matthew's authorship."

Is history then a matter of democracy? History is filled with stories of one opinion, standing in opposition to the majorities, which is ultimately deemed correct. Perhaps Erhman's thorough scholarship is correct, but many refuse it on the basis that his conclusion is undesirable. The majority explanation for this authorship is based on "belief", as the Wikipedia article phrases it, when Erhman's is not.

"Furthermore, what evidence is used to back the datings that are supposedly correct?"

Mark is dated around 70CE because of his mention of the destruction of the Temple. Mark makes a prophecy of the Temple's destruction. It doesn't really matter if he wrote the document before or after that event; regardless, it was around 70CE.

John was written definitively anywhere in between 90CE and 140CE. That upper limited was settled by the discovery of a 6 cm by 9 cm papyrus fragment in Egypt. The fragment contains two verses of the gospel on one side (John 18:37-38) and three verses on the other side (John 18:31-33). The handwriting style on the fragment point to a date of around 110-140 CE(1). The lower limit is set at 90CE because of John 9:19-22 in which he talks about the banishment of Christians from synagogue worship, which points to a time around 90CE(1).

"And why is it likely the case?"

I refer you back to (2) which says, "How can we explain these very close parallels between the synoptic Gospels, especially considering that the Gospels were likely written in different places at different times?" I cannot possibly go over the minute differences between the documents in their language that suggest a difference in setting, but the source does.

"John could have been bad at math…"

I will entertain excuses for this inconsistency, but as I said, this is only an example. A list of twelve inconsistencies, including that one, between John and the Synoptic Gospels is available at (3) for your enjoyment.

"Your source for the Greek argument fails. The link is broken."

I apologize, it was cut off. No worries, I found a better source. "John was written for the Greek Christians of the beginning of the second century. These recent converts were more educated, wealthy, and despised the Diaspora Jews who resided in their cities and who enjoyed the respect of Rome. John removes the offensive references to Jesus as a Jewish Messiah that are particular to the earlier gospels, in order to present the Logos in more palatable form. In so doing, John creates a simulacrum that is barely human. The earlier Synoptic traditions are emphatic in presenting Jesus as the Jewish Messiah, descendent of David, and eschatological messenger of the end of the world where God collects his Chosen People. John removes the unpleasantness of Jewish geneaology as well as all references to Palestinian and Davidic descent".(4)

"This is not a court of law. This is a debate."

We are trying to reach a level of certainty that is akin to the raising or erasure of doubt from consideration. The same fallacies that we recognize in a court of law ought to rightfully be disallowed in such a debate as this.

"For one thing, it didn't have to be Romans… All it takes is one man's decisions to remove it."

Firstly, what would be the motivation of these alleged "anti-Jesus radicals"? Protecting the institutions of the Jewish leaders? Wouldn't they in that sense be reactionary conservatives to destroy a radical Jesus?

And as I said, the scriptural evidence for Jesus' wide fame make it extremely doubtful (in the absence of some exaggeration in the Bible) that any one man or group could single-handedly succeed in erasing first-hand accounts of Jesus Christ. This effort would have to censor both Jewish and Roman texts.

Instead of apologizing for this extreme lack of evidence by making up excuses, conspiracy theories, and uncorroborated claims about secret societies that destroy documents and records, isn't it just more rational to say these documents never existed in the first place because there was no Jesus?

"But it is hardly probable that Philo had heard enough of Christ and His followers to give an historical foundation to the foregoing legends."

Probably because there was no Christ and there were no followers to give an account for.

"The earliest non-Christian writer who refers Christ is the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus…'"

Virtually all claims about Jesus from outside Christian writings come from authors who born after the alleged life of Jesus, which dogs them with original problem that I raised: they cannot serve as eyewitness accounts of a living Jesus. In other words, they are hearsay.

Josephus gave the earliest non-Christian account of Jesus. While many think that his short stories of Jesus (in his Antiquities) emerged as interpolation from a later Church father (http://www.mtio.com...), his birth in 37 CE, years after the execution, puts him outside of a first-hand account. In addition, Antiquities was written in 93 CE, which was after the Synoptic gospels were most certainly already written. Consequently, even if these accounts of Jesus emerged from his pen, these accounts could only serve as hearsay.

"Vote PRO if you…"

We should not have to apologize and make excuses for a lack of evidence. Instead, we should immediately dismiss any claim supposedly supported by the evidence which is clearly absent, as is the case here. For any belief, we reserve the right to ask "why" a person believes this. In this case, there is no reason, especially considering the documents with unknown authors and complete lack of eyewitness accounts.

---

(1) = http://www.geocities.com...
(2) = http://www.crivoice.org...
(3) = http://www.bible.org...
(4) = http://www.infidels.org...
mongeese

Con

"Is history then a matter of democracy?"
No. However, claiming that something is fact when it is really a justifiable opinion is wrong.

"Mark is dated around 70CE because of his mention of the destruction of the Temple..."
Why around 70CE? Maybe he predicted the destruction 30 years prior, and didn't really know the year it would be destroyed. And then, of course, there's the fact that it's a prophecy. All in all, it could just have easily been 40CE.

"John was written definitively anywhere in between 90CE and 140CE..."
From (http://ecole.evansville.edu...):
"John died c. 99 or 100. He was the last of the apostles to die and the only one to have died a natural death. Some legends say he did not die but ascended like Elijah. St. Augustine notes a tradition that when John was buried, the ground heaved as if the apostle were still breathing."

"I cannot possibly go over the minute differences between the documents in their language that suggest a difference in setting, but the source does."
Then I cannot possibly counter them.

"A list of twelve inconsistencies, including that one, between John and the Synoptic Gospels is available at (3) for your enjoyment."
Well, if you didn't have the time or characters to list them, then obviously, I have neither the time nor the characters to counter them.

"I apologize, it was cut off. No worries, I found a better source."
HTTP 404 Not Found. This webpage cannot be found. Brilliant. Your source doesn't exist.

"We are trying to reach a level of certainty that is akin to the raising or erasure of doubt from consideration..."
Courts of law are much stricter than debates should rightfully be.

"Firstly, what would be the motivation of these alleged 'anti-Jesus radicals'? Protecting the institutions of the Jewish leaders?"
In removing most traces of Jesus' existence, it would cause less people to convert from Judaism to Christianity.
"Wouldn't they in that sense be reactionary conservatives to destroy a radical Jesus?"
True, although their conservative actions would be radical.

"And as I said, the scriptural evidence for Jesus' wide fame make it extremely doubtful... that any one man or group could single-handedly succeed in erasing first-hand accounts of Jesus Christ. This effort would have to censor both Jewish and Roman texts."
And, of course, they almost succeeded. Apart from the Bible, you have Tacitus, Suetonius, Pliny the Younger, Philo, Josephus, and others, that this group obviously did not find. Scriptural evidence did not say that all of these people immediately wrote what they saw down, and even if they did, how many people would keep this document safe from harm? Only the above listed. (http://www.newadvent.org...)

"Instead of apologizing for this extreme lack of evidence by making up excuses, conspiracy theories, and uncorroborated claims about secret societies that destroy documents and records, isn't it just more rational to say these documents never existed in the first place because there was no Jesus?"
Only if you are too lazy to look at things from every angle.

"Probably because there was no Christ and there were no followers to give an account for."
Probably because Christ never came to his neighborhood while he was there.

"Virtually all claims about Jesus from outside Christian writings come from authors who born after the alleged life of Jesus..."
And yet, we have Christian writings.

"Consequently, even if these accounts of Jesus emerged from his pen, these accounts could only serve as hearsay."
Or, of course, they were research-say.

So, you don't like the primary sources you are given, and you dismiss all secondary sources as unreliable. Does anything please you?

"We should not have to apologize and make excuses for a lack of evidence."
You don't. Nor do I. Of course, I have to come up with a reason why there isn't as much evidence as my opponent would like.

"Instead, we should immediately dismiss any claim supposedly supported by the evidence which is clearly absent, as is the case here."
It's not that I'm supporting my claim with the destroyed evidence. It's that you're claiming that the evidence could never have existed. It's your claims, and my counters.

"For any belief, we reserve the right to ask 'why' a person believes this."
Then why didn't you? We also reserve the right to not answer.

"In this case, there is no reason, especially considering the documents with unknown authors and complete lack of eyewitness accounts."
The authors are not unknown. They are Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. You have made little argument against Luke, and he happens to be an incredibly accurate historian, so I don't see why you can dismiss him. Furthermore, there is a plethora of eyewitness accounts.
http://www.biblegateway.com...
"Then John gave this testimony: 'I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him...'"
http://www.biblegateway.com...
"The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, who testifies to everything he saw—that is, the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near."
There are many, many more.
http://www.biblegateway.com...

Thank you for this great debate. I truly enjoyed it.

Vote CON. We have eyewitness accounts, and additional Jewish and other documents in favor of existence of Jesus of Nazareth. My opponent claims to have "critical textural research," but never truly reveals it. Again, vote CON. Good night. Thank you for reading.
Debate Round No. 4
14 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by HistoryasIS 7 years ago
HistoryasIS
brock josephus lived 37-100 ad.

Which He was born about 4 years after The fact jesus was put to death.

Do you Deny that when he was growing up he had heard stories from the first century Jesus?

His child years are still in The time line of First hand witness to Jesus and teen years, some adult years.

While people fight over the text that says Jesus being a wise man The Christ etc.... what about the other place where josephus says and james being stone being the brother of the so called Christ?

Antiquities 20.9.1 But the younger Ananus who, as we said, received the high priesthood, was of a bold disposition and exceptionally daring; he followed the party of the Sadducees, who are severe in judgment above all the Jews, as we have already shown. As therefore Ananus was of such a disposition, he thought he had now a good opportunity, as Festus was now dead, and Albinus was still on the road; so he assembled a council of judges, and brought before it the brother of Jesus the so-called Christ, whose name was James, together with some others, and having accused them as law-breakers, he delivered them over to be stoned.

I would remind people them this passage is found in every copy of the Antiquities we have
Posted by HistoryasIS 7 years ago
HistoryasIS
Reading this debate reminds of these articles

http://www.christian-thinktank.com...
Posted by GeoLaureate8 7 years ago
GeoLaureate8
"Josephus / Roman Record FTW" - Halak

No. Jesus Christ is not a name. It's a title. Christ or Christos meaning the annointed one. Josephus mention about 13 Christs. So no, Josephus if anything, proves the contrary that a miracle man named Jesus did not exist.
Posted by Brock_Meyer 7 years ago
Brock_Meyer
Using Josephus to argue for the existence of Jesus is like asking Franklin Roosevelt about Abraham Lincoln: it makes absolutely no sense to ask someone who did not live during the time of that person, unless you are working on miraculously low standards of proof.

As for the "Roman Record", I'm sure you'll have to point me to whatever that is with respect to the alleged person of Jesus.
Posted by HalakMushareff 7 years ago
HalakMushareff
Josephus / Roman Record FTW
Posted by mongeese 7 years ago
mongeese
This was his first debate?

*checks*

Wow.
Posted by Maikuru 7 years ago
Maikuru
Interesting topic and a great first debate by Brock.

C: Pro - I found Con's dismissal of Pro's source in the last round distasteful and a fairly transparent attempt to avoid constructing a counter-argument. Given that Pro explained what aspects of his source he wished addressed, Con's rebuttal concerning character limits was a weak one.
S & G: Tie
A: Pro - Pro's arguments were countered with poorly defended and often far-fetched rebuttals.
S: Tie
Posted by Brock_Meyer 7 years ago
Brock_Meyer
The character limit has screwed me over twice.

""I apologize, it was cut off. No worries, I found a better source."

http://www.mystae.com...
Posted by bored 7 years ago
bored
nice debate, guys. i tried something similar a while ago and completely butchered it. i've found i can't debate well about religion. i couldn't even bring myself to read all of your debate, well-written as i'm sure it was. my debate was five rounds of hell:P
Posted by mongeese 8 years ago
mongeese
He's still called Jesus of Narareth, so it wouldn't really matter.
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