The Instigator
phantom
Pro (for)
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The Contender
DanT
Con (against)
Winning
15 Points

Spinkos tourney, 2nd round: The historical existence of Jesus

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 3 votes the winner is...
DanT
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 6/25/2012 Category: Society
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,115 times Debate No: 24442
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (2)
Votes (3)

 

phantom

Pro


Resolution: Jesus most likely existed as a historical person


Jesus: the one who was called "the Christ"; supposedly of Nazareth

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Burden of proof
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This debate is about the historical existence of a person. The BoP is therefore on me to affirm the resolution.

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Rules/set-up
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No semantics allowed.

One forfeit results in loss of the conduct point.

Two forfeits results in the loss of the debate.

1st round is for acceptance only.

Last round there will be no new arguments made.


DanT

Con

I accept.
Debate Round No. 1
phantom

Pro

I don't think there's any serious historian who doubts the existence of Jesus .... We have more evidence for Jesus than we have for almost anybody from his time period.

~Prof Bart Ehrman, University of North Carolina


I will start out by presenting a selection of extrabiblical and biblical sources.

Taictus


First we should note who Taictus was. He was an early Roman historian who hated Christians. His trustworthiness and accuracy is affirmed and agreed upon by many other historians. Syme, regarded as one of the foremost of Tacitean scholars, lauds praises on Tacitus saying, ""the prime quality of Cornelius Tacitus is distrust. It was needed if a man were to write about the Caesars." He adds [ibid., 281, 282] that Tacitus "was no stranger to industrious investigation" and his "diligence was exemplary." There were some minor inaccuracies in his Anals, but this could be due to the fact that he died before he could complete them and thus did not finish and proof read them.


In is Anals we find him reference Jesus. Unfortunately, one third of his known writings have been lost, including sections from 29-32 AD which could have referenced Jesus's trial.


"But not all the relief that could come from man, not all the bounties that the prince could bestow, nor all the atonements which could be presented to the gods, availed to relieve Nero from the infamy of being believed to have ordered the conflagration, the fire of Rome. Hence to suppress the rumor, he falsely charged with the guilt, and punished Christians, who were hated for their enormities. Christus, the founder of the name, was put to death by Pontius Pilate, procurator of Judea in the reign of Tiberius: but the pernicious superstition, repressed for a time broke out again, not only through Judea, where the mischief originated, but through the city of Rome also, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their center and become popular. Accordingly, an arrest was first made of all who pleaded guilty; then, upon their information, an immense multitude was convicted, not so much of the crime of firing the city, as of hatred against mankind."


We have no forseeable reason for Tacitus to be wrong in his writings. His historical reliability and great contempt for the Christians, alleviates any objections of untrustworthyness or biass.


Josephus

Josephus was a 1st century historical recorder of Jewish history, who provided crucial recordings about the First Jewish-Roman War. His credibility can be verified by his very accurate archaeological data and general accuracy in his works. He mentions Jesus many times, one example of which is below, from his Antiquities, Book XVIII.


"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"

The Talmud


"On the eve of the Passover Yeshu 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 practiced sorcery and enticed Israel to apostasy. Any one who can say anything in his favor, let him come forward and plead on his behalf." But since nothing was brought forward in his favor he was hanged on the eve of the Passover."

It's important to take note that when it says "hanged" we are not to take that in today's meaning of the word, as in, hanged by a rope. Back then it was very common for Romans to hang violators by the tree, or cross. We can further derive that the Talmud is talking about Jesus by the reference about the Eve before Passover, which is the supposed time of Jesus's crucifiction. These two similarities make it undoubtable that the Talmud is talking about Jesus.


Lucian


Lucian, a Roman politician, was a great opposer of Christianity but acknowledges that Jesus did exist and was crucified.
""The Christians, you know, worship a man to this day the distinguished personage who introduced their novel rites, and was crucified on that account. . . . You see, these misguided creatures start with the general conviction that they are immortal for all time, which explains the contempt of death and voluntary self-devotion which are so common among them; and then it was impressed on them by their original lawgiver that they are all brothers, from the moment that they are converted, and deny the gods of Greece, and worship the crucified sage, and live after his laws. All this they take quite on faith, with the result that they despise all worldly goods alike, regarding them merely as common property."

[previous source]



I will probably mention some more people in the next round, but as I am running out of time, I'll hand it over to the con.
DanT

Con

Taictus

Taictus was born in 56 AD, and Jesus died in 27 AD at the earliest and 36 AD at the latest. [1][2] Therefore Taictus was not a firsthand source. In addition the annals where not written until 109 AD, 73 to 82 years after Jesus’s supposed crucifixion. [3] By 109 AD Christianity was already well established, with the current pope at the time being St. Alexander I, who was the 6th pope of the Catholic Church. [4] This means that Taictus’s accounts could be influenced by Christian mythology. In fact Taictus uses the Latin title “Christus” in the annals rather than Jesus’s actual name, which means he is referring to a title not a person. If I wanted to prove Buddha was a historical figure, I would look for historical accounts of a “Prince Siddhartha Gautama”, I would not look for historical accounts of a “Buddha”, as “Buddha” is a religious title, not a name.

In addition, your quote makes no distinction between actual historical records, and oral traditions of the Christians. The fact that he refers to him as Christus, implies he was referring to the Christians’ oral traditions. The quote itself is less about Jesus’s crucifixion and more to do with the fire of Rome, and Emperor Nero blaming the Christians.

You yourself admitted that the annals are inaccurate, therefore citing the annals as proof is a weak argument.

Josephus

Flavius Josephus was born in 37 AD, after the crucifixion of Jesus. [5] It is very odd that not a single historian from the time of Jesus’s crucifixion, or during the time he was raising people from the dead, could account for Jesus’s existence. It’s kind of hard to imagine that nobody wanted to record these events, as they happened.

In addition, the quote is unreliable, as it refers to Jesus as “Jesus”. If Jesus was a historical figure, he would not be named Jesus. Jesus’s name was actually “Yeshu‘a”, or “Joshua” in English, which later became the Greek “Iēsous”. “Iēsous” became “Iesus” when translated to Latin, and eventually it turned into the English “Jesus” after first passing through German translations. [6]

Hebrew Scriptures use the name “Yeshu’a” 27 times, and as many as 5 different men held the name “yeshu’a” in the Old Testament. Furthermore after the Babylonian exile the Jewish high priests were often called “Yeshu’a”, and less frequently were called by the elongated name “yehōshu‘a”. [6]

Furthermore that quote is from chapter 9 of book XX, not book XVIII. [7]

Josephus’s Book XVIII was about “the banishment of Archelus to the departure from Babylon”, and Book XX was about “the interval of 20 years. From Fadus the Procurator, to Florus”. Cuspius Fadus was procurator from 44 AD to 46 AD, and Gessius Florus was procurator from 64 to 66 AD, and both were procurators after the departure from Babylon. [7]

It’s more likely that Josephus mentioned the high priests as “yeshu’a”, and Christians altered the text in latter translations. If you read the rest of the paragraph it goes on to say, “Whereupon Albinus complied with what they said, and wrote in anger to Ananus, and threatened that he would bring him to punishment for what he had done; on which king Agrippa took the high priesthood from him, when he had ruled but three months, and made Jesus, the son of Damneus, high priest.” [7]

3 paragraphs later it reads, “And now Jesus, the son of Gamaliel, became the successor of Jesus, the son of Damneus, in the high priesthood, which the king had taken from the other; on which account a sedition arose between the high priests, with regard to one another; for they got together bodies of the boldest sort of the people, and frequently came, from reproaches, to throwing of stones at each other” [7]

To me it sounds like “Jesus” is reference to the Jewish high priests.

The Talmud

The quote is actually,

“It is taught: On the eve of Passover they hung Yeshu and the crier went forth for forty days beforehand declaring that ‘[Yeshu] is going to be stoned for practicing witchcraft, for enticing and leading Israel astray. Anyone who knows something to clear him should come forth and exonerate him.’ But no one had anything exonerating for him and they hung him on the eve of Passover.

Ulla said: Would one think that we should look for exonerating evidence for him? He was an enticer and G-d said (Deuteronomy 13:9) ‘Show him no pity or compassion, and do not shield him.’

Yeshu was different because he was close to the government." [8]

The Talmud states the Yeshu in this quote died during the reign of Alexander Jannaeus. [8] Alexander Jannaeus reigned from 103 to 75 BC. [9]

Unlike Jesus of Nazareth, Yeshu had friends in the Government, Yeshu was trialed in Jewish courts rather than Roman courts, and a crier went around for 40 days trying to find someone to speak on Yeshu’s behalf, rather than Pontius Pilate during the trial. [8]

The Talmud also mentions a different case of someone being hung on the eve of Passover.

“One says to him ‘Tell me again what you said to me in private’ and he tells him. He says ‘How can we forsake our G-d in heaven and worship idolatry?’ If he repents, good. If he says ‘This is our obligation and what we must do’ the witnesses who hear him from outside bring him to the court and stone him. And so they did to Ben Stada in Lud and hung him on the eve of Passover.” [8]

Ben Stada was an idol worshiper who practiced witchcraft, and was crucified in a similar manner. Both Ben Stada and Yeshu were “hung” during the reign of Alexander Jannaeus; these passages have nothing to do with Jesus, but rather individuals living a century before Jesus. [8]

Lucian

Lucian of Samosata was born around 120 AD, and therefore could not have been at the crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth. [10] Furthermore, the quote you provided does not indicate that Lucian believed Jesus existed and was crucified, but rather that he believes Christians believe Jesus existed and was crucified. The quote you provided was Lucian describing what the Christians believed, and why they are not afraid of death. Again, you provide a quote out of context, in order to claim a historical figure believed in Jesus.

1. http://www.unrv.com...
2. http://www.thenazareneway.com...
3. http://classics.mit.edu...
4. http://www.stuardtclarkesrome.com...
5. http://www.livius.org...
6. http://askdrbrown.org...
7. http://www.ccel.org...
8. http://www.angelfire.com...
9. http://www.wildwinds.com...
10. http://www.sacred-texts.com...

Debate Round No. 2
phantom

Pro

phantom forfeited this round.
DanT

Con


Pro has forfeited the 3rd round, dropping my entire argument. This puts me in the unique position of establishing new arguments, when the BOP rests on my opponent. In regards to historical evidence the only arguments I can make is arguments from ignorance, which is why the BOP rests on my opponent to begin with.



In our modern legal system, hearsay is inadmissible in court; the reason being is that hearsay is unreliable. If a witness says “I was not there but a close friend said this is how it went down”, the testimony would not hold up; one needs an actual eye witness account. My opponent’s so called “proof” consists of nothing but hearsay, with no eye witness accounts to speak of.


Despite the fact that the bible says Jesus supposedly resurrected the dead, healed the sick, and fed 5,000 people with 2 fish and 5 loaves of bread, not a single eye witness account can be provided; other than the authors of the bible whose accounts of the events differ from each other, leading some of the accounts to be excluded from the canon. Once again, such witnesses would be unreliable in any modern court, as their stories do not match. In addition to this the authors of the Gospel had a vested interest in establishing the Christian religion, which makes them unreliable sources. [1]



Matt 14:1 -- At that time Herod the tetrarch heard of the fame of Jesus


Apparently Jesus was a famous figure, in his own time; yet for some reason there is an astonishing lack of eyewitness accounts, beyond the founders of the Christian religion. If Jesus was famous as the bible implied, than there would be Roman and Jewish accounts from before or during his crucifixion. The sheer lack of historical record has left historians little to go by, other than the post-crucifixion writings of early Christians. [2]



If Jesus was a historical figure, rather than a mythical origin of the Christian religion, than there would be accounts of his life and death from Roman and Jewish eyewitnesses. Since no such eyewitnesses can be accounted for, it can be justly assumed that Jesus was nothing more than a campfire story, to explain where Christianity originated.


Christianity is more likely than not a product of the Roman Empire. Judaism and Jewish converts were widespread in the Roman Empire, not only in Jerusalem but also in other places such as Rome, and Egypt. Judaism at the time was vastly diverse, with multiple sects, many of which were not only radical, but revolutionary. [3]Christianity combines aspects of various religions within the Empire. Many Greco-Roman rulers and heroes were said to, or claimed to be fathered by Gods, in order to claim a sense of divine right for the rule, actions, or superiority of a person or group. At the time of Jesus’s mythical birth, the Emperor of Rome was Augustus, who claimed to be the son of god. Augustus’s full name is in actually “Imperator Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus Divi Filius”, which means “Emperor Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus Son of God”. [4] According to the Greco-Roman legends, the hero Orion was granted the power to walk on water by his father Poseidon. Poseidon was the God of the sea, and was known as the Earth Shaker, because he was responsible for earthquakes and other natural disasters. [5] The Myth of Osiris is also similar to the resurrection of Jesus, in that after Osiris’s Death he was resurrected for a single day for a single day, before descending back into the underworld to act as the judge of the souls of the dead, and determine who shall make it to paradise. [6] Christianity also appealed to Judaism, as the story of the infant Moses is similar to the infant Jesus, in that both their mothers hid them from the persecution of the King/pharaoh. Also, there was no historical account of the slaughter of innocents.



Due to the lack of reliable historical evidence, we can only conclude that Jesus was a mythical figure.



1.) http://www.atheistapologist.com...


2.) The First Christians: lack of historical records (Video)


3.) The First Christians: diversity of Judaism (Video)


4.) The First Christians: Imperial Son of God (Video)


5.) http://www.theoi.com...


6.) http://www.nemo.nu...







Debate Round No. 3
phantom

Pro

I appologize for the wasted debate but I will have to forfeit. Last round there was no way I could get to a computer in time since I was camping for two days and the power was out when I came back. Currently much more important matters in life cause me to not have any time to write an argument so I will have to ff.

Again, sorry for the waste of time.
DanT

Con

Maybe we can carry on where we left off another time, when you are under better circumstances.
Debate Round No. 4
2 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Posted by phantom 5 years ago
phantom
Very sorry for the forfeit. I was gone for two days and then my power was off so I didn't have time to even read your whole case before I was able to log in again. I tried to get on the library pc yesterday but it was about to close when I got there since it was sunday.
Posted by phantom 5 years ago
phantom
Very sorry for the forfeit. I was gone for two days and then my power was off so I didn't have time to even read your whole case before I was able to log in again. I tried to get on the library pc yesterday but it was about to close when I got there since it was sunday.
3 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Vote Placed by Wallstreetatheist 5 years ago
Wallstreetatheist
phantomDanTTied
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Vote Placed by Microsuck 5 years ago
Microsuck
phantomDanTTied
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Reasons for voting decision: All 7 points to con via the forfeit.
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CiRrK
phantomDanTTied
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Reasons for voting decision: FFs