The Instigator
ApostateAbe
Pro (for)
Losing
6 Points
The Contender
bluesteel
Con (against)
Winning
19 Points

The historical Jesus Christ was a doomsday cult leader

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 5 votes the winner is...
bluesteel
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 11/13/2011 Category: Religion
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 7,387 times Debate No: 19251
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (47)
Votes (5)

 

ApostateAbe

Pro

Resolution

The historical Jesus Christ was a doomsday cult leader who told his disciples that the doomsday would happen within the short time period of his own generation (within the 1st century CE).

Clarification

This resolution is NOT about faithfully interpreting the New Testament. The writings of the New Testament will be used for evidence, but the writings of the New Testament are not assumed to be any more or less trustworthy than other ancient texts.

Similar debates have been completed here:
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Definitions

You may disagree with these definitions and adopt your own, but the following definitions are offered to clarify the resolution as I have expressed it.
  • "Jesus Christ" or "Jesus" is a proposed historical human being whose character began the myth of the character of Jesus in the Christian gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. The historical "Jesus" has a biographical profile roughly corresponding to the profile of the character of Jesus in the gospels (i.e. home town of Nazareth, baptism by John the Baptist, traveling preacher, twelve disciples and crucifixion in Jerusalem).
  • “Doomsday” is a set of events that entail death and destruction all over the world and strongly affecting everyone living, through many such events as wars, political upheavals and natural disasters.
  • A “generation” is a group of people of roughly the same age and living at the same time, and it is used to signify a length of time bounded by the births and deaths of the group of people, as opposed to a longer length of time potentially covering centuries.
  • A “doomsday cult” is a small group of people who are strongly devoted to the perceived will of a human leader and believes that the world will soon face a destructive global calamity. The term is primarily intended to be descriptive, not pejorative. A “doomsday cult leader” is a leader of a doomsday cult, and such a model of Jesus is otherwise known among critical New Testament scholars as, “apocalyptic prophet.”
Positions of Opposing Contender

A contender may be anyone who does not believe that the historical Jesus predicted the first-century doomsday, including but not limited to someone who believes or suspects that Jesus was merely a myth, that Jesus was the divine Son of God or messiah, or that Jesus was a mere human but commendable moral teacher, rabbi, social activist or philosopher.

Rules
  • First round is for acceptance.
  • Do not introduce new arguments in the last round.
  • If you wish to forfeit, then post it. Don't let the time run out in any of the rounds.
bluesteel

Con

Thanks for the debate ApostateAbe. I look forward to it.

== Burdens of proof ==

To prove a historical Jesus, using Biblical passages, my opponent must win that:

1) The gospels are NOT works of fiction.

2) Jesus was ONE person, not an amalgamation of different stories.

To prove that this Jesus was a cult leader, my opponent must prove that:

3) The doomsday passages in the New Testament came from Jesus, as opposed to being falsely attributed to him.

4) The early Christians were a doomsday cult (as opposed to being just another Gnostic branch of one of the early "Mystery Religions").

I will question any (and potentially all) of these assumptions, as I see fit.

I await my opponent's case.
Debate Round No. 1
ApostateAbe

Pro

Thank you for accepting this debate.

I will be using mainly two criteria of reasoning to make my case, and they are "explanatory power" and "plausibility."

"Explanatory power" is the principle that the evidence should be strongly expected by the explanation. CB McCullagh expresses it like so:

The hypothesis must be of greater explanatory power than any other incompatible hypothesis about the same subject; that is, it must make the observation statements it implies more probable than any other. [1]

Plausibility is the principle that the explanation should be somewhat expected from what we generally know to be true. McCullagh expresses it:

The hypothesis must be more plausible than any other incompatible hypothesis about the same subject; that is, it must be implied to some degree by a greater variety of accepted truths than any other, and be implied more strongly than any other; and its probable negation must be implied by fewer beliefs, and implied less strongly than any other. [1]

These two criteria are closely related, and another way to express both of them is with the principle of "prima facie"--the explanation most probable on the face of the evidence is more likely to be true. I will use these two criteria to express my affirmation of Con's four listed requirements, and in the process I will present the arguments for the position that the historical Jesus was a single human doomsday cult leader.

"1) The gospels are NOT works of fiction."

It is sometimes claimed that the gospels are works of literary fiction, that they were written with the intention to entertain, not to evangelize for a religion. This explantion for the gospels seems to have a prima facie disadvantage. They contain much in the way of religious sermonizing and religious adulation, but little in the way of drama. There is no explicit romantic drama, which we would very much expect for a biographical narrative and not a work of fiction. There are long geneologies listed in both Matthew and Luke, seemingly intended to prove that Jesus was descended from David (a requirement of the Messiah), but it is not entertaining. It is sometimes asserted that the gospels are Greco-Roman tragedies like Oedipus Rex, but there are no failings of the hero, which, again, we expect for a religious biography but not a work of fiction. If the hero has no tragic flaw, then it is not a tragedy. So, what type of fiction is it? The entirety gospels make sense if we conclude that they were intended to evangelize a religion founded by a living human figure. In fact, the gospels of Luke and John are explicit in the intention that they wanted the reader to accept the accounts as true, which is exactly what we NOT expect for fiction [2]. The point that the gospels are not fiction is prima facie, and the burden of evidence is therefore on Con if he wishes to assert it as a serious possibility.

"2) Jesus was ONE person, not an amalgamation of different stories."

It is also sometimes presented as a possibility that Jesus of the gospels was inspired by not just one person or mythical character but by many (see debate comments).

The first problem is explanatory power. Which aspects of the evidence are better explained by Jesus being an amalgamation than by Jesus being a set of myths centralized on a single human being? Powerful evidence would be documents or reports of ancient myths preceding Jesus that contain strong similarities to Jesus. This historical claim has often been presented, and the evidence seems entirely lacking upon investigation, but I encourage Con to pursue such an investigation.

The second problem is plausility. Lacking the power of direct evidence, this proposition would still hold some weight if there were other mythical characters in antiquity who likewise were an amalgamation of many other different characters. This would provide for the possibility that a similar thing could have happened for Jesus. The evidence is again lacking, however, as ancient mythical characters tend to be borrowed from only one other character, if they are borrowed at all. This may be because ancient mythical claims of characters who are seemingly intended to be accepted as truth are not as persuasive if the ancient listeners have heard essentially the same claims about one or more other reputed characters, so there is no plausible reason we would expect Jesus to be an amalgamation and no reason to dismiss the prima facie point that the historical Jesus Christ was just one man.

"3) The doomsday passages in the New Testament came from Jesus, as opposed to being falsely attributed to him."

The scholars of the Jesus Seminar and others have claimed that Jesus was not a doomsday prophet, but they assert that the doomsday beliefs of Jesus were put in his mouth by his successors. The first problem with this position is explanatory power as it relates to multiple attestation, in that we do NOT expect all three of the earliest Christian sources to advocate doomsdayism if the founder of the cult (Jesus) was not responsible, but we do strongly expect such evidence given a historical doomsday Jesus. Those three sources are:

(1) The authentic epistles of Paul -- 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 and 1 Corinthians 15:50-52.
(2) The gospel of Q, via Matthew and Luke -- Luke 3:7, Luke 13:22, and Luke 13:40.
(3) The gospel of Mark -- Mark 8-9:1 and Mark 13.

The second problem is plausbility. There have been many doomsday cults in antiquity and the present time, they all attribute doomsday predictions to their founder and figurehead, and in fact the founder was seemingly responsible for those doomsday beliefs, because that is largely how he or she gains a following to begin with. Why is it a serious possibility that Christianity is a special exception? If Jesus was not a doomsday cult leader, then Christianity would be seemingly the only doomsday cult that ever existed whose reputed human doomsday founder did NOT actually predict the doomsday. I claim that Christianity was normal, not exceptional, in the context of observed cult dynamics. There is again no reason to dismiss the prima facie point and strong reason to accept it.

"4) The early Christians were a doomsday cult (as opposed to being just another Gnostic branch of one of the early 'Mystery Religions')."

For strong evidence that Christianity was a doomsday cult, see the passages listed above. Additionally, see the passages of John 21:20-23 and 2 Peter 3:3-8. These are passages from writings composed after the doomsday deadline of 80-90 CE (when all hearers of Jesus had certainly died), and they are excuses for the failed deadline. John 21:20-23 excuses it as just a myth based on a misunderstanding, and 2 Peter 3:3-8 excuses it with a liberal interpretation of the spoken deadline.

Both "Gnostic" and "Mystery Religion" are titles of historically-ambiguous beliefs, and it is possible that the cult of Jesus was a "Gnostic mystery religion," depending largely on how one chooses to the define those terms. But, that would not remove probability from the point that early Christianity was additionally a doomsday cult. One way or the other, the evidence for Christianity beginning as a doomsday cult is conclusive.

I close my part in this round, and I await Con's opening arguments.

References:

[1] CB McCullagh, Justifying Historical Descriptions via http://en.wikipedia.org...
[2] Luke 1:1-4 and John 21:24.
bluesteel

Con

Thanks for the quick response, ApostateAbe.

== The Gospels are Works of Fiction ==

My opponent begins by misinterpreting my definition of "fiction." His response seems to be that the gospels contain "religious sermonizing" and little in the way of "drama." When I said fiction, I merely meant they were made up. Not all works of fiction are "entertaining."

If the gospels are not fictional but were instead meant to be "historical accounts" of the life of Jesus of Nazareth, then how does my opponent reconcile this with the Virgin Birth and the Resurrection? Does he claim these are historically accurate events or does he concede that at least some large portions of the gospels are complete works of fiction?

Most scholars who believe in a historical Jesus do not believe that this historical Jesus was born of a virgin or that he was resurrected from his grave.

Of course Luke and John want you to believe that their accounts of Jesus are FACTUAL. The miracles Jesus performed are far less impressive if the reader is led to believe they are works of fiction… But just because this is meant as a religious text does not make it any less fictional. Is the work of L Ron Hubbard, regarding aliens landing on Earth, any less fictional because it was meant as a religious text for the Church of Scientology?

Many of the same problems of the historical Jesus also plague the search for the historical King Arthur, even though he was much more recent than Jesus. Many accounts of Arthur claim to be factual, but for all we know, he is an amalgamation of different kings. [1] Like Jesus, no firsthand accounts exist (written by someone alive during Arthur's life). The only accounts that exist are people writing about the legend stories that became oral tradition after this historical person's supposed death. The same is true of Jesus.

My opponent even cites the genealogies tracing Jesus' relation to King David (to prove to the Jews that he was the foretold Messiah) as being "boring facts." These genealogies are clearly fiction, as many scholars, like Richard Dawkins, have pointed out. Luke's genealogy has 41 generations between David and Jesus, whereas Matthew has only 26. [2] The accounts do not even agree on who Mary's father was, or on her great-grandfather. There is little overlap on the names. This is precisely what you'd expect if the genealogies were MADE UP. When two historical documents completely contradict, one or both are deemed to be works of fiction.

Why SHOULD we believe the gospels are accurate? What is their primary source material? What firsthand account do they come from? They never say.

The following site documents the NUMEROUS inconsistences between the various gospels, such as the Three Wise Men story and whether Jesus' birth was "secret" or announced far and wide. [3] Had King Herod truly ordered all babies in a given region killed, this major event would undoubtedly have been recorded by other sources, but it was not. Ultimately, this source concludes, "The gospels have been shown to be fiction pure and simple while many of the so-called epistles of Paul are obvious counterfeits as are those of Peter and John. (See Who Wrote the New Testament? by Burton L. Mack.)"

== Jesus as an amalgamation ==

Lol. My opponent literally says, "this proposition would still hold some weight if there were other mythical characters in antiquity who likewise were an amalgamation of many other different characters." There is: King Arthur. Most scholars believe he was an amalgamation of many different kings and warlords who were all named Arthur. This is quite common: myths become oral tradition, amalgamate different stories and people into one, and then someone writes these stories down, many years later.

In the same way, Jesus is most likely an amalgamation of various Pagan gods, people named "Jesus" (Yeshuh in Hebrew), and various false Messiahs who were put to death by the Jews. Most Christian holidays chose their dates and motifs based on Pagan holidays. This Biblical scholar elaborates: "Many of these beliefs are based on the pagan legends about the gods Tammuz, Osiris, Attis, Dionysus and the sun god Mithras. Other myths about Jesus appear to be based on various different historical people such as the convicted criminals Yeishu ben Pandeira and ben Stada, and the crucified false Messiahs Yehuda, Theudas and Benjamin, but none of these people can be regarded as an historical Jesus." [4]

== Doomsday Passages As False Attribution ==

Of those who believe the gospels to have some historical merit, most believe that Jesus was NOT an apocalyptic prophet, but merely a deeply religious man. Instead, they demonstrate that John the Baptist was an ascetic who believed that his followers must deny themselves pleasure to atone before the coming apocalypse. JOHN was the apocalyptic prophet and John's quotes are falsely attributed to Jesus.

Much scholarship points to the fact that John believed in asceticism (fasting/denying pleasure) and doomsday prophecies, whereas Jesus did not believe in asceticism or doomsday prophecies.

In fact, there is much scholarship to prove this point. Biblical scholar J.D. Crossan points out many passages (see source) that show a fasting John and a feasting Jesus. [5] In fact, the John of the New Testament seems to share many traits with the Jewish sect of Essenes revealed in the Dead Sea Scrolls, who believed in removing sin with water, asceticism (fasting), and apocalyptic predictions. Crossan concludes that "John ‘lived in apocalyptic asceticism,' which Jesus at some point rejected. Jesus became ‘almost the exact oppose of John the Baptist." [5] Although Jesus initially was baptized by John and accepted the first of John's followers, they clearly diverged in belief systems.

My opponent cites the account of Paul, but these were the last gospels to be written (later means less likely to be historically accurate) and have the most easily falsifiable information contained therein, as my other source has pointed out. [3]

As my opponent points out, the gospels of Matthew and Luke are believed to pull their quotes from some unknown "quotation book" that Biblical scholars call "Q." Many of the quotes were likely without a clear author or Matthew and Luke purposely obscured the author for religious purposes. Thus, we cannot trust their accounts.

The gospel of Mark, the earliest gospel, is thus the most trustworthy regarding quotes from Jesus vs. John. [5] The gospel of Mark clearly shows John's followers fasting and Jesus' refusing to do so: "Now John's disciples and the Pharisees were fasting. Some people came and asked Jesus, ‘How is it that John's disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees are fasting, but yours are not?'" [6]

My opponent cites some "apocalyptic" quotes from Mark. Let's examine them.

The quote from Mark 8 concludes with: "Those who are ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels." The "Son of Man" was a term for Jesus. This quote is referring to Jesus in the THIRD PERSON, so it is clearly a quote from John, not Jesus.

Many other "apocalyptic" Jesus quotes refer to the "Kingdom of God" coming, but most Biblical scholars, such as Robert W. Funk, believe this was a metaphor the historical Jesus used for the perfect world we could achieve here on Earth through spiritual enlightenment. [7]

This is the widely held belief. According to two polls of Jesus scholars in North America, between three-fifths and three-fourths of Jesus scholars REJECT the historical Jesus as a doomsday prophet. [8]

It's nice to have that many scholars agree with you.

My opponent keeps asking voters to accept the account of Jesus that is more compelling. This account is obviously more compelling since it explains why SOME quotes from Jesus are filled with love and hopefulness and some quotes are filled with loathing and doomsday prophesies. The optimistic quotes are from the TRUE historical Jesus, whereas the doomsday prophecies are all from John, who clearly believed them. Since Jesus' earliest followers were also John's, it was easy for John and others to corrupt the accounts of the early Jesus with their own beliefs.

My opponent claims here that all religions predicted a doomsday. This is just patently false. He provides no evidence of this. Christianity has predicted many doomsdays, but these are merely perversions of the historical Jesus' true words (done for political purposes).

== Early Christians were Gnostics ==

My opponent provides a number of quotes that SOME early Christians believed in the doomsday. I don't dispute this, but these were not the true followers of Christ.

Gnosticism was a religion that centered around achieving gnosis (the salvation of the soul from the material world). Gnosticism predated Christianity, but early Christian teachings line up well with Gnostic beliefs. [9] This matches well with what Biblical scholars currently believe Jesus meant by the "Kingdom of God." The Gnostics clashed with the Orthodox Church. "Gnostics saw Jesus as a spirit that never actually existed. The orthodox rejected the Gnostic view that Jesus was only apparently physical but in reality a spiritual being, insisting that he, like the rest of humanity, was born, lived in a family, became hungry and tired, suffered and died." [10]

In a political move, the Orthodoxy ratified certain gospels as the "New Testament" in the 4th Century CE, but refused to include any of the 54 "Gnostic gospels." [11]

There is no reason to believe that the Orthodoxy was correct about Jesus and the Gnostics incorrect. The accounts of Jesus we "accept" today are all the result of a VERY political decision made in Rome in the 4th Century.

These other gospels are equally valid and point to Jesus not actually existing but merely being a spiritual being who only appeared to be present.

[1] http://www.grahamphillips.net...
[2] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[3] http://www.skeptically.org...
[4] http://www.vexen.co.uk...
[5] http://tinyurl.com...
[6] Mark 2:18
[7] http://tinyurl.com...
[8] http://tinyurl.com...
[9] http://www.vexen.co.uk...
[10] http://www.theosophy-nw.org...
[11] http://tinyurl.com...
Debate Round No. 2
ApostateAbe

Pro

Fiction, myth and trust

I am in agreement with Con that many of the claims of the gospels (such as the genealogies) are "made up," though I would not use the word, "fiction." When lay critics of Christianity (I am one of them) use the word, "fiction," they may mean "falsehood" in general, even falsehoods intended to be believed, but textual scholars understand the word to specifically refer to literature intended as entertainment. I suggest that Con should use the phrase, "unreliable myth," not fiction, since he does not believe that the gospels were written with the explicit intention to entertain. When Con demands, "Why SHOULD we believe the gospels are accurate?", I must make it clear that my case is neither about trusting nor about distrusting the gospels. Instead, it is about the most probable explanations to the evidence, evidence including the ancient Christian myths reflected in the gospels, and I assert that the best explanations entail a historical human Jesus of Nazareth who founded Christianity as a doomsday cult.

Spurious sourcing

Con has many claims, and the most important claims depend on the 11 listed sources. I have found that these sources tend to either be unauthoritative or do not reinforce the corresponding claim of Con. I explain in more detail below.

King Arthur

If King Arthur was an amalgamation of many different kings, then this would lend plausibility to the idea that Jesus was a mythical amalgamation. So, Con claimed, "Many accounts of Arthur claim to be factual, but for all we know, he is an amalgamation of different kings." Though he uses the phrase, "for all we know," connoting neutrality, he shifts the same claim to a position of certainty a few paragraphs later: "Most scholars believe he was an amalgamation of many different kings and warlords who were all named Arthur." I am parsing words, because Con's source #1 (http://www.grahamphillips.net...) that accompanied the former statement seems to supply no such claim. On the contrary, that source concludes that the myth of King Arthur was inspired (singularly) by the historical figure of Owain Ddantgwyn. To be fair, the source also claims that the name of "Arthur" may be a derivative of the title given to many kings in a succession, though this speculation falls short of both the claim that Arthur is an amalgamation of many Arthurs and the claim that "most scholars" accept it. I reviewed the Wikipedia page titled "Historical basis for King Arthur" [1], and no such point is presented.

Louis W. Cable

I cited the epistles of 1 Corinthians and 1 Thessalonians as among the three early Christian sources that believed in an imminent doomsday. Con countered, "My opponent cites the account of Paul, but these were the last gospels to be written (later means less likely to be historically accurate) and have the most easily falsifiable information contained therein." For this claim, Con cited source #3, an article titled, "SOME FAMOUS NEW TESTAMENT FORGERIES," by Louis W. Cable. This source claims that the epistle to the Galatians is "considered by most Bible scholars to be one of the few Pauline epistle judged to be authentic."

All of us agree that the authentic Pauline epistles (whatever they may be) are the earliest Christian sources, but we disagree on the identities of those authentic epistles. Louis W. Cable was a geological field worker, not a reputed historian or a scholar [2]. In fact, the epistle to the Galatians is generally recognized by secular critical scholars to be among the seven (not among the few) of the canonical Pauline epistles that are authentic, out of fourteen epistles total [3]. The epistles I cited for my claims, 1 Thessalonians and 1 Corinthians, are likewise considered among the authentic [3], in large part for their imminent eschatology, though that opinion may not be shared by a geological field worker. I don't care if arguments originate from poor authorities, but, if Con doubts my claims of Pauline authenticity, then he should appeal directly to the primary sources and argue in detail, not rest on poor authorities in his passing citations.

"Biblical scholar" Hayyim ben Yehoshua

Con makes the following questionable claim, quoting from an article of unknown publication purportedly written by the "Biblical scholar" named "Hayyim ben Yehoshua" of source #4.

"Other myths about Jesus appear to be based on various different historical people such as the convicted criminals Yeishu ben Pandeira and ben Stada, and the crucified false Messiahs Yehuda, Theudas and Benjamin, but none of these people can be regarded as an historical Jesus."

There are many problems with this line of argument, and at the core of the problem is that "Hayyim ben Yehoshua" is otherwise unknown to the literate world. The only place this name appears in web searches is in connection with this article. The first "convicted criminal" listed in this quote appears likewise ephemeral--a search on Google Scholar for "Yeishu ben Pandeira" returns no results, though a potentially alternate spelling, "Yeshu ben Pandera," is the identity of "Jacob the heretic," but he was a figure of the 2nd Century CE (after the composition of the canonical gospels), and there is no account that he was a convicted criminal.

I strongly suggest that Con uses either primary sources or secondary sources to make his case. I don't wish to continue to dredge through infinitely-iterated unprovenanced Internet myths. I am sure you agree it is difficult enough dealing with unprovenanced ancient myths.

Appealing to authority

Con claimed that most scholars disagree with the hypothesis that Jesus was apocalyptic, and he used a source that conducted two non-scientific polls of a few arbitrarily-selected members of the Jesus Seminar and Society of Biblical Literature. It is appropriate to appeal to the consensus of qualified authorities as a shortcut for a premise (we both have no choice in a debate as complex as this), but it is inappropriate to appeal to authorities as an argument for one's final conclusion. Authorities in the field of Biblical scholarship are especially problematic, as most participants in the field get into it only because they have a strong ideological bias affecting their opinions--almost all are Christians, whether liberal or conservative, even those who agree with me that Jesus was an "apocalyptic prophet." I do not rest on authorities for my central position in this debate, and I ask that Con likewise dismiss such appeals as irrelevant. We all have access to the primary sources, and that should be the primary basis of our debate.

"Son of Man" and Jesus

Con was well to rely on a primary source for this argument, and he argued that the quote about the "Son of Man" in Mark 8 was actually a quote from John (the Baptist?), not from Jesus, because otherwise Jesus seems to be referring to himself in both the first-person and third-person. The primary source attributes this quote to Jesus, so there is a prima facie problem with that hypothesis, and I propose a third option, proposed by Bart D. Ehrman: Jesus was referring to the "Son of Man" as someone else, not himself. It makes plausible sense because the "Son of Man" was understood among apocalypticists in the time of Jesus to be the title of the messiah [4], and Jesus had no appearance of political power that would be necessary to easily convince anyone that he was the messiah, only a prophet.

Too many arguments

Unfortunately, I am out of characters, or I would love to analyze the remainder of Con's claims. I request that Con please focus his arguments. It takes many times more characters to rebut a faulty claim than to present one. Thank you.

References

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[2] http://ffrf.org...
[3] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[4] http://en.wikipedia.org...
bluesteel

Con

Thanks for the quick reply ApostateAbe.

== "Specious" sources ==

All of my opponents arguments seem to be ad hominems – he attacks my authors rather than what they had to say. The guy who keeps an in-depth, sourced, list of New Testament contradictions is a Geologist? This is like saying that Dawkins critique of the two genealogies is wrong because Dawkins is a Biologist. All of the "Jesus" scholars I cite are Christians. You usually have to reach outside the field of Bible studies to get an atheist's viewpoint.

My opponent "strongly suggests" I use primary sources, with legitimate authors, to make my case. Ironically, his only evidence is from the New Testament, which is anything but a primary source and the authors are unknown.

== Dropped arguments ==

First, it bears looking at which arguments my opponent drops (and in debate, if you don't answer an argument, you concede to it). He drops my J.D. Crossan evidence that John the Baptist was marked by an "apocalyptic asceticism" whereas Jesus was "almost the exact opposite of John the Baptist." Crossan refers us to Mark 2:18-20, Matt 11:18-19, Luke: 7:33-34, contrast in Matt 11:11/Luke 7:28. My opponent doesn't respond to the passage in Mark 2:18, showing John's followers fasting and Jesus' followers not fasting. He doesn't respond to the analysis from the book I posted that John the Baptist may have been from the Essenes cult found in the Dead Sea Scrolls. Even if he isn't, he shares their beliefs (water wipes away sin, fasting to wipe away sin, doomsday predictions).

My opponent's ONLY answer to this is that it is an appeal to authority. However, the above explains the argument. I was merely showing that two-thirds of people who study Jesus as a living agree with me, based on the above evidence.

My opponent also basically concedes that early Christians were Gnostics and the decision of which gospels should be included in the New Testament was entirely political because the Orthodoxy ruled in Rome.

== King Arthur and the Jesus Amalgamation ==

The source I cited does mention Arthur as an amalgamation, but I got this claim from Bernard Cormwell's Historical Note is the book The Winter King. [4] Cornwell is a former history professor at London University. He says that the name Arthur became very common during the time period in question, so it would be very easy to confuse different warlords and kings with each other. [4] He also says that ALL of the accounts of Arthur borrow heavily from oral traditions and myth. [4] Lastly, Cornwell mentions that the Christianization of Arthur has completely altered and falsified the stories. [4]

This is actually pretty basic information though. If Arthur never existed, then the oral traditions and myths of him were obviously an amalgamation of lore from various different sources, whether mythical or real people named Arthur. "Some scholars argue that Arthur was originally a fictional hero of folklore—or even a half-forgotten Celtic deity—who became credited with real deeds in the distant past. They cite parallels with figures such as the Kentish totemic horse-gods Hengest and Horsa." [1] This should sound familiar; it's the same as the claim that the Jesus myth is just an amalgamation of stories taken from the pagan gods: Tammuz, Osiris, Attis, Dionysus and the sun god Mithras. The first Youtube video shows similarities between Jesus and many other Gods:

Horus performed miracles, was known as the "lamb of God," and after being betrayed, was crucified, lay dead for 3 days, then was resurrected. If you watch Religulous (second video), it also explains that Horus walked on water and raised "Asar" from the dead ("Asar" translates to "Lazarus").

Dionysus was born of a virgin on Dec 25, was a traveling teacher who turned water into wine, he was referred to as the "King of Kings" (God's only son), and upon his death, he was resurrected.

Mithra was born of a virgin on Dec 25, had 12 disciples and performed miracles and upon his death, was buried for 3 days and then resurrected. The sacred day of worship for Mithra was "Sunday."

Why did the 3 Kings visit Jesus upon his birth? The three stars of Orion's belt were known in ancient times as the "3 kings" and they oversee the rising of the Sun on December 25.

Bethlehem translated to "House of Bread," another name for the constellation Virgo (The Virgin), from whence the Sun rises (is born) on Dec 25th.

The 3 day death is the Winter Solstice of the Sun and the resurrection in the Spring Equinox (or Easter).

Obviously, the Jesus myth borrows HEAVILY from other Sun-god religions.

== Is anything in the New Testament true ==

If the authors are willing to borrow so heavily from pagan mythology, why should we believe ANYTHING they write about Jesus?

The third Youtube video shows 23 major historians who were alive during Jesus' time who fail to record anything about Jesus, or any other MAJOR events of the New Testament, such as King Herod ordering all babies in Bethlehem killed.

I also already explained that the only reason these gospels were accepted and the others were excluded was because the Vatican wanted to stamp out Gnosticism in the 4th Century.

So if Mark, John, Luke, etc were willing to borrow pagan myth stories and falsify Jesus' family tree, how are we expected to trust the veracity of anything else they say? Once you find out that a "historian" is willing to lie, you can't really trust anything else that person wrote.

== Jesus Amalgamation – Part 2 ==

What about the non-fictional characters who make up the Jesus stores? Hayyim ben Yehoshua, a Talmudic scholar, explains that Yeishu ben Pandeira, also known as Yeishu ha-Notzri, had five disciples, two of which were Matthew and Thaddeus. I'm sorry my opponent failed to find any sources on him. As Hayyim explains, the original sources are in Hebrew and are very old (likely on micro-film in some library in Israel). Yeishu translated to Jesus, not Jacob, as my opponent suggests. The record shows that Yeishu was branded a sorcerer and thrown out of his temple.

There were three other false messiahs around this time period that were crucified: Yehuda, Theudas and Benjamin. The Jesus myth could be based on any, or all, of them.

== The Pauline Epistles ==

My opponent doesn't bother pasting the full Bible quotes in this debate, so I tried to save time in my refutations, but I have no problem examining these.

He first cites 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18. If you read this passage, it is written in the third person: Paul is talking ABOUT Jesus and is describing the Rapture. [2] Nowhere does it say that Jesus held these beliefs during his lifetime or that he preached them.

Next is 1 Corinthians 15:50-52. "Now I say this, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God." This fits with the theories I have already cited from Robert W. Funk, that the historical Jesus was referring to a metaphorical Kingdom of God, which would be achieved through salvation of the soul while here on Earth. This also fits with the Gnostic belief system.

== Mark and the Son of Man ==

I just want to start by repeating that I don't believe the gospels are true. But assuming parts of them are, most Jesus scholars don't even believe that the historical Jesus was a doomsday prophet.

My opponent claims that Jesus never claimed to be the Son of God (or even the messiah). However, if this is true, it proves that the gospels are false, since Mark then contradicts all the other gospels:

John 10:24-30 "I and the Father are one"

Matthew 26:63-64 "Tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God." "Yes, it is as you say," Jesus replied.

Luke 22:70 "Are you then the Son of God?" He replied, "You are right in saying I am."

John 10:36-38 I said, 'I am God's Son'

So to win this argument, my opponent must essentially concede that the New Testament is utter fabrication. Or I suppose he could try to rely solely on Mark, but Mark creates the stark contrast between the followers of John the Baptist (fasting doomsday followers) and the followers of Jesus. Mark also contradicts itself then, when Jesus does claim to be the Messiah.

Let's look at more passages from Mark.

27 "On the way he asked them, "Who do people say I am?"
28 They replied, "Some say John the Baptist."

This is yet MORE proof that people were confusing Jesus with John the Baptist.

This passage continues:

"29 "But what about you?" he asked. "Who do you say I am?"

Peter answered, "You are the Messiah."

30 Jesus warned them not to tell anyone about him."

Why is it that in the doomsday passage, Jesus is referring to the Messiah as someone else, but in THIS passage in Mark, he refers to himself as the Messiah and tells people to keep quiet about it? Note: this passage comes RIGHT before the doomsday passage.

With this knowledge in mind, let's re-examine the "doomsday prophecy" in Mark 8:

"34 Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: "Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves . . . If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his Father's glory with the holy angels."

First, notice that the speaker asks his followers to "deny themselves," which is asceticism. We've seen in OTHER passages from Mark that John the Baptist was the ascetic, NOT Jesus.

Second, the speaker refers to himself ("me") as a different person than the Son of Man. We know that the gospels are just an amalgamation of different myths and quotes. This could easily be a misattributed quote from John the Baptist. It's obviously not from Jesus, who referred to himself 4 stanzas earlier as "the Messiah."

Sidenote: honestly, this just makes zero sense assuming Mark is a "historical book." First Jesus says "I'm the Messiah, shhhhhh." Then 10 seconds later, he says "don't be mad at ME, when the Messiah comes (future tense) he'll be mad at you." The only possible explanation for this discrepancy is either that Mark is total fabrication or the stanzas are random quotes and pieces sewn together from various sources, and the two speakers are different people.

My opponent never DOES reconcile why SOME passages are so filled with love and hope and others are filled with despair, asceticism, and doomsday. It is because the quotes are coming from two different speakers: a historical Jesus and a historical John the Baptist.

== Too many arguments ==

I'm sorry my opponent is having trouble, but if he didn't spend 2500 characters (ad hominem) attacking just ONE of my sources, he'd have plenty of space. I don't really want to keep answering new responses each round, so I'd appreciate it if my opponent made all his arguments at once.

== Sources ==

[1] Green 1998; Padel 1994; Green 2007b, chapters five and seven.
[2] http://www.biblegateway.com...
[3] http://www.biblegateway.com...
[4] http://www.ibooksonline.com...
Debate Round No. 3
ApostateAbe

Pro

Too many arguments again

I don't hold it against Con for introducing too many arguments into the debate, but I feel sore that I am accused of dropping arguments. I defended myself under the heading in Round 2, "Too many arguments." To explain further, such a debating approach is known in evolution debate circles as the "Gish Gallop," which RationalWiki.org defines as "a debating technique that involves drowning the opponent in such a torrent of [...] arguments that the opponent cannot possibly answer every falsehood that has been raised."

Though it is likely Con has honesty intended, his latest entry seems likewise a Gish Gallop (i.e. three YouTube videos). I cannot possibly rebut the points with the same efficiency as Con presents them. Since Con complained against my "drop" of one of the arguments of Round 2, that is where I will focus my attention in this round, and as before I will procee in the order that Con presented his points.

Round 2's "apocalyptic asceticism"

Con (and JD Crossan) believe that Jesus of the gospels strongly contrast with the ascetism of John the Baptist. If Jesus did not share in John's asceticism, then perhaps neither did Jesus share in John's apocalypticism (or so the argument goes). However, the evidence for the ascetism of the gospel's portrait of Jesus is diverse. Jesus of the gospels promoted the poor and demoted the rich, which is expected of an ascetic. Most importantly, Jesus was not reputedly married in any of the early sources, which would be expected of nobody but an ascetic in that social environment. On the other hand, there are other passages such as Luke 5:33 where Luke rhetorically defends the disciples of Jesus (not Jesus himself) from the accusation of diverging from the ascetic custom of John.

As a solution to this problem, Con proposes that the gospel authors changed the character of Jesus to be like John the Baptist, including the apocalyptic beliefs of John.

This solution is more problematic than the problem for the following reasons.

(1) This solution presumes that asceticism and apocalypticism are intimately bound, and you may not have one without the other. There is little reason to expect that apocalypticists are strongly expected to be ascetists, so one could compromise the asceticism without losing the apocalypticism.
(2) This solution presumes it is improbable that Jesus lived a life that was not as ascetic as John. In fact, the social phenomenon of ascetism is far from dichotomous--ascetism instead exists on a spectrum. There is no reason we would not expect Jesus to have adopted some but not all of the ascetic lifestyle of John the Baptist. As a modern example, the Trappist monks of Belgium live sexless lives, but they brew (and drink) the best beers in the world.
(3) This solution is probable only by supposing that two sharp revolutions in religious tradition are more probable than a continuous evolution in religious tradition. Crossan proposes that John the Baptist was apocalyptic asceticist, his disciple Jesus did a 180 and was not apocalyptic asceticist, and the disciples of Jesus did another 180 and became apocalyptic asceticist again. Why not instead propose that Jesus and his disciples were apocalyptic asceticics though not as ascetic as John?

Bart Ehrman makes the point that, if it is agreed that both the predecessor and successors of Jesus were apocalypticists, then it is highly likely that Jesus himself was apocalypticist, joining two links on either side of one uniform chain. We don't even need to read between the lines to reach this conclusion--it is the explicit belief multiply attested by all of the earliest texts, and we have no early textual evidence to the contrary. Jesus was apocalypticist.

King Arthur and Cornwell

Con disputed my claim that his source lacks evidence for the point that King Arthur was a mythical amalgamation of many characters (a point that would lend plausibility to a similar claim about Jesus). Con now claims that he gained the knowledge from Bernard Cornwell. I don't know why Con did not cite Bernard Cornwell when he made the claim in Round 2, but once again I ask for Con's assistance in specifically locating the claim in this new source (http://www.ibooksonline.com...). I have read the entire page, and I can not find the claim that Arthur "was an amalgamation of many different kings and warlords," nor any similar claim. The closest to this claim by the source I can find is:

"Nen­nius was sure­ly draw­ing on an­cient folk­tales, which were a fer­tile source feed­ing the in­creas­ing­ly fre­quent retellings of the Arthur sto­ry that reached their zenith in the twelfth cen­tu­ry when two writ­ers in sep­arate coun­tries made Arthur in­to a hero for all times."

Presumably, though, the "ancient folktales" would be yet more tales about the evolving character of Arthur, not about entirely-different characters. I ask that Con please provide the specific quote. It is not that I challenge Con's citation, but it is difficult to analyze an argument when the evidence is hidden within long documents.

Copycat Pagan gods

Con claims that the Jesus myth was an amalgamation of similar Pagan gods, including Tammuz, Osiris, Attis, Dionysus, Mithra and Horus. Con claims that these gods share with Jesus traits such as "lamb of God," crucifixion, 3-day death, walking on water, etc. These claims are found everywhere on the web where debates about the historical Jesus take place. All three of the embedded YouTube videos repeat the claims. And, NEVER are specific ancient documents cited to substantiate the claims about the ancient myths. That is because the myths are purely modern, not ancient.

On the Internet, the myths are typically sourced from the author Acharya S, who in turn cites authors of the 17th-20th centuries, including Kersey Graves of 1875, who wrote a book titled, The World's Sixteen Crucified Saviors found online. Unfortunately, the trails stop at authors such as Graves, because they do not cite specific ancient documents, nor are the claims seemingly substantiated in the small handful of ancient documents pertaining to such myths.

If Con does not believe me, then I challenge Con, and I also challenge readers sympathetic to Con's position, to find quotes and specific citations to the ancient documents that substantiate the claims (which Con should hae done already), such as the claim that any ancient god such as Horus was crucified, or the claim that any other ancient character was known as "Lamb of God." Such evidence would strongly favor Con's position, because it is otherwise strongly expected that the crucifixion of a reputed god and the title of "Lamb of God" are unique to the character of Jesus.

Three Kings

This is one of many reasons the quality of sources are important--it strongly correlates with the quality of the claims. If Con had relied on high-quality sources instead of a lay YouTube video, he wouldn't have presented the claim that the three kings of the gospel birth narratives correspond to the three stars of Orion's belt that were supposedly known as three kings by the ancients.

There are no three kings in the gospel birth narratives. There are an unspecified number of "magi" (Zoroastrian priests) who had three gifts (Matthew 2:7-12). "Three Kings" are found only in modern Christmas carols and those YouTube videos. And, there are no ancient documents that call those three stars "Three Kings." Everything about the myth is modern.

Conclusion

There are, of course, problems with relying on ancient unprovenanced sources littered with falsehoods in order to make conclusion about history. But, some explanations for the sources are far more probable than all competing explanations. I repeat: it is not about trusting the evidence, but it is about explaining the evidence best. I suggest that the take-away point of this debate should be that the analysis of dubious ancient myths need not be complicated with the integration of dubious modern myths.
bluesteel

Con

Thanks again, ApostateAbe.

== Too many arguments ==

My opponent only seems to respond to the arguments that I draw his attention to. As such, I'm not going to extend my best arguments until the last round, since it's not my job to tell my opponent which of my arguments he needs to respond to.

== Apocalyptic Asceticism ==

Pro keeps saying I need to source everything (to the Nth degree), yet he doesn't source any of his claims about Jesus here for me to review (to see if more confusion is occurring with John the Baptist).

As requested, I cited Biblical passages to prove my point. In Mark 2:18, someone asks Jesus why John the Baptist's followers are fasting but Jesus' followers are not. Clear contrast.

Crossan also cited Matthew 11:18-19 and Luke 7:33-34. In this passage, Jesus is speaking to John's followers: "For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine . . . The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.'" This passage comes right after
Jesus has performed a number of miracles and convinced John's followers that he is the Son of Man (the Messiah). Jesus' point is this (paraphrased): "you rejected me because I did not share your asceticism, yet I have proven to you, through miracles, that I am in fact the Messiah."

Lastly, Crossan cites Luke 7:27, where Jesus says, "John is the one about whom Scripture says, 'I am sending my messenger ahead of you to prepare the way.'" [1] Jesus isn't saying that he believes John is the Messiah, rather he is reminding John's followers in this passage about what JOHN has claimed: that he is the Messiah sent to teach and
"prepare the way" for the apocalypse. In Luke 7:28, immediately thereafter, Jesus rejects John and says that although John is revered now as a great prophet, when we achieve the Kingdom of Heaven here on Earth, every single person will be better than John.

This is why Crossan concludes that John the Baptist is marked by an "apocalyptic asceticism," whereas Jesus comes to reject everything that John stands for.

My opponent cites Luke 5:33, but this is exactly the same as Mark 2:18, where someone is asking Jesus why his followers don't fast but John's do.

Let's examine more of my opponent's claims:

1. My opponent claims that Jesus didn't marry and was thus not an ascetic.

The Da Vinci Code explains why the 4th Century Vatican would want to purge any mention of Jesus' marriage or sexual relations from the gospels, since it did not square with their image of Jesus. At least this part of the Da Vinci Code is backed by textual evidence. The "rejected" Gnostic gospel, the Gospel of Philip, says that Jesus was
Mary Magdalene's lover. [2] The early Church had obvious reasons to not want people to believe that Jesus may have had children, since there were political forces at the time within Christendom that were asserting that Jesus was ONLY a man, not a God. Kids would have reinforced this belief.

Even if Jesus didn't marry, this doesn't mean he was an ascetic. All of the Biblical passages I cite above prove that he did NOT deny himself the other pleasures of the flesh, such as wine and food. The Essenes from the Dead Sea Scrolls mimicked John's beliefs: baptism, asceticism, and immanent doomsday. However, they managed to survive for quite awhile, so clearly they allowed procreation in their asceticism. There is no reason to believe that the asceticism of the time involved "no sex." In fact, most historians attribute the idea of celibacy to the later Christian Church.

2. My opponent claims that asceticism is a spectrum.

All the passages I cite show that John and his followers were strictly ascetic, and Jesus and his followers were not. This spectrum argument is irrelevant, as are examples of modern monks. John would NOT have let his followers indulge in alcohol, as is clear from the passages above.

3. My opponent claims that Jesus did a 180 and then his followers did a 180 again back to asceticism.

However, we saw in Mark 2:18 and Luke 5:33 that Jesus' followers were eating and drinking, but John's were not. Luke 7:27-28 shows that Jesus DID come to reject John's beliefs, although he was initially baptized by John. It is not that far-fetched to believe that Jesus became enthralled by John initially, but quickly came to reject him.

4. Bart Ehrman

So far, there is no textual evidence that the followers of Jesus, after his death, were apocalyptic ascetics. Even if they were, it's not Jesus' fault they didn't listen to his preaching. The History Channel explains, in a special on the historical Jesus, that whoever he was (if he existed), he was probably only recognized as a minor preacher at the time. He may have wielded little to no influence. The romanticization of Jesus took quite awhile, which is why none of the gospels are primary sources and are all written well after his death.

== King Arthur ==

Honestly, this is just a Red Herring, since it has nothing directly to do with the historical Jesus. I only brought it up as an interesting tidbit. Besides, MANY historians have argued that the Arthur we know today is merely an amalgamation of different stories from different cultures, combining oral tales of both real and mythical people from various different peoples across England. Although Arthur was undoubtedly Welsh, the Scotts have their own oral traditions claiming that Arthur was Scottish.

The one thing Cornwell says VERY explicitly is that the MOST historically inaccurate portrayals of Arthur only arose once he was co-opted by Christian authors. The grail stories, for example, are bastardizations of the Celtic cauldron stories. If anything, this proves to us that early Christian "historians" had no love of the truth.

== Jesus is a copycat of pagan Sun gods ==

Once again, my opponent cherry picks the one argument he thinks he CAN answer, and leaves untouched all the other similarities, such as each God dying for three days (which represents the Winter Solstice), Bethlehem referring to the constellation Virgo (The Virgin) from whence the Sun is born on Dec 25, Horus resurrecting Lazarus, etc.

My opponent only takes issue with the crucifixion of Horus. There are plenty of primary source to prove this. For example, the book "The Christ Conspiracy" asserts Horus was crucified and says, "The list of sources cited in the chapter "Was Horus 'Crucified?'" includes: ancient Egyptian primary sources such as the Pyramid Texts, Coffin
Texts, Book of the Dead and other artifacts; the writings of the ancient historians Herodotus and Plutarch," etc. [3] Another book, "Christ in Egypt," contains 120 footnotes to prove this claim about Horus. [3]

All of the claims about the ancient gods are based on textual evidence. They aren't "made up by Youtube," as my opponent suggests. Historians obviously have the means to know the basic beliefs regarding ancient deities.

The implication of this argument, once again, is that the unknown authors of the "true" gospels copied heavily from pagan religions and are thus not to be trusted. Obviously, the "historical" Jesus did not come back to life, so this is a blatant lie. The two genealogies are utter fabrication. If Mark, Luke, Paul, and John are liars, why should we trust anything they say? How do we know Jesus isn't a complete fabrication?

== 3 Kings ==

If arguments A, B, and C each prove Y separately, it doesn't matter if you refute C. There are so many similarities between Jesus and the other Sun gods that this one piece of evidence is unnecessary.

But the Christian artwork depicting the 3 Kings and Jesus with a halo (i.e. the sun), were obvious attempts to woo the pagans into Christianity. If the early Church was concerned with wooing pagans, why not fabricate the entire Jesus story to read like a pagan Sun god myth?

[1] http://www.biblestudytools.com...
[2] http://tinyurl.com...
[3] http://stellarhousepublishing.com...
Debate Round No. 4
ApostateAbe

Pro

Crossan's series of 180s to model Christian origins

Con disagrees with me that the celibacy is an indication of asceticism, claiming that "most historians attribute the idea of celibacy to the later Christian Church."

Con also disagrees with my claim that the theory of his championed author (JD Crossan) would require that the religious tradition of Jesus requires two 180 degree turns, with both the predecessor and successors of Jesus being apocalyptic asceticist but not Jesus himself, because, Con claims, the follower of Jesus were not ascetics.

Con's preferred historian, JD Crossan, would disagree with Con on both points. Crossan believes that the primary follower and successor of Jesus, Paul, was both ascetic and apocalypticist.

On page 48 of the book by MJ Borg and JD Crossan, The First Paul: Reclaiming the Radical Visionary Behind the Church's Conservative Icon, the authors arrirm that Paul was ascetic, stating:

"Paul himself was an ascetic celibate and may indeed have already been one in his pre-Christian practice of Judaism--at least he never mentions Jesus as a model for abnegation of that portion of the world's normal social relations."

On page 176 of the book by JD Crossan and JL Reed, In Search of Paul: How Jesus's Apostle Opposed Rome's Empire with God's Kingdom, the authors affirm that Paul was apocalypticist, stating:

"Paul was wrong, just as every other hope, expectation, proclamation, or prophecy of imminent apocalyptic consummation has been consistently wrong throughout all of human history--at least so far."

And Crossan is right on both points. The asceticism of Paul is seen in 1 Corinthians 7:7, which is the only passage within Paul's authentic letters that would indicate the continuation of Paul's tradition of celibacy and asceticism, but Crossan takes this passage as evidence enough that Paul was ascetic. The apocalypticism of Paul is seen in 1 Corinthians 7:26-31.

Unfortunately for Crossan, these affirmations underlie the implausibility of his own theory. Crossan believes that John the Baptist and Paul were both apocalyptic ascetics, but he also believes that Jesus, the only link between John and Paul, was entirely different.

King Arthur the red herring?

If the point about King Arthur is a red herring, then Con is the one who put the red herring in the pond. But, such self-deprecation is not deserved. King Arthur is relevant to this debate.

In Round 1, Con suggested that Jesus was an amalgamation of different stories. In Round 2, I rebutted that this would be implausible given that seemingly no other mythical characters in antiquity were an amalgamation of many other different characters. Con rebutted with the claim that King Arthur was such an amalgamation, and he cited sources. In Rounds 3 and 4, I questioned these sources. In Round 4, Con now calls the point about King Arthur a red herring, and he now shifts his argument and claims that King Arthur, like Jesus, has diversified.

On this last point, I agree. But, remember, Con was the one who suggested that Jesus was an amalgamation of mythical characters, and he claimed King Arthur as evidence. If he were right, then it would provide plausibility to the proposition that Jesus was an amalgamation. Since Con has failed to substantiate his claims, the proposition is shown to be implausible.

More copycat-Jesus claims

Con is a talented debater, which explains his explempary record, but I have a special advantage--I have debated this topic many times in the past. I happen to have a copy of her book, The Christ Conspiracy, and the author simply does not specify the ancient sources for her controversial claims. Instead, she cites other fringe authors. Fringe authors constitute the entirety of her bibliography and the majority of her chapter endnotes.

That is why I carefully worded my demand for sources: "...find quotes and specific citations to the ancient documents..." I already know that the author Acharya S CLAIMS that her information is rooted in the ancient sources, such as Pyramid Texts, Coffin Texts, Book of the Dead, etc. Each of these sets of texts are translated and published online, with the links listed as follows:

http://www.sacred-texts.com... (Pyramid Texts)
http://en.wikipedia.org... (Coffin Texts, Parts I, II and III)
http://www.sacred-texts.com... (Book of the Dead)

So, my challenge remains essentially the same as before, but I will provide more specifics: hunt down the evidence for her essential claims about these texts, and prove it with a quote and a link containing the translations of the ancient texts. Since Con stands behind his position that the character of Horus was crucified, then I suggest Con focus on the crucified Horus to fulfill the challenge. If Con succeeds in this, it means that I can copy the words of Con's quote, I can go to a page of ancient translated text from a link that Con provides, I can type CTRL-F and CTRL-V to find the words of the quote, and those words are sufficient to suspect that Horus was crucified according to ancient myth.

I won't even limit the challenge to those three ancient sources listed above. Go to any ancient source, such as Herodotus or Plutarch. Win this challenge, and win the debate.

Historical silence about Jesus

Since Con has thankfully not Gish Galloped again, I will go back to a point he made in Round 3, directly relevant to the debate. He claimed:

"The third Youtube video shows 23 major historians who were alive during Jesus' time who fail to record anything about Jesus, or any other MAJOR events of the New Testament, such as King Herod ordering all babies in Bethlehem killed."

So, this point often comes up in debates about the existence of Jesus, and it is most relevant when the opponent is a Christian who believes that Jesus entered and exited the world with nuclear explosians of implausible events per the New Testament canon. The point is NOT so relevant against opponents who believe Jesus was, in his own time, only one of many regular human lowerclass religious leaders. The point that there are existing copies of only about 23 writers in that wide time period and heavily populated region underscores the counterpoint that almost all writings were lost to the sands of time.

But, when Christianity grew, so did the reputation of Jesus, and that is when Jesus starts showing up in extant writings. At 3:33 in the third video, the narrator seems to disagree with the claim that "Christ" refers to Jesus in three passing historical mentions by ancient writers. One of them is the writing of Tacitus, as follows:

Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judæa, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their centre 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. Mockery of every sort was added to their deaths. Covered with the skins of beasts, they were torn by dogs and perished, or were nailed to crosses, or were doomed to the flames and burnt, to serve as a nightly illumination, when daylight had expired.

Source: http://www.perseus.tufts.edu...

I leave it to Con and the readers to decide whether this passage really refers to Jesus Christ or if it refers to some other Christ as the narrator claims.

I feel lucky to have been a part of this debate. Thank you.
bluesteel

Con

Thanks for the debate, ApostateAbe.

== Crossan believes that Paul was apocalyptic ==

First, let's examine my opponent's textual evidence from 1 Corinthians:

1 Corinthians 7:7

What does this passage actually say, in modern English?

"But I wish everyone were single, just as I am. Yet each person has a special gift from God, of one kind or another." [2]

According to multiple modern translations, Paul is lamenting the fact that people get married (because he saw the demands of marriage as a distraction from the Lord's work (1 Corinthians 7:35). However, he is clearly NOT against sexual relations. We only have to look two passages earlier to find this out:

"Do not deprive each other of sexual relations, unless you both agree to refrain from sexual intimacy for a limited time so you can give yourselves more completely to prayer. Afterward, you should come together again." [1]

This hardly looks like the STRICT asceticism of John the Baptist. It doesn't mention food or drink, and it doesn't even advocate celibacy. He is, in fact, advocating AGAINST celibacy.

1 Corinthians 7:26-31

In this passage, Paul does say things like "our time is short" and warns people to become too attached to the material world. However, in a paper on "Paul's Apocalyptic Theology," Dr. Harry A. Hahne of Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary points out that in this way, Paul did not differ from other "apocalyptic" Jewish authors of his time. "In fact there are several streams of thought within Jewish apocalyptic literature, which vary in their view of the extent and cause of the corruption of the material creation in this age and the hope for its future redemption. Contrary to popular thought, most Second Temple Jewish apocalyptic writings are not world denying, but they view the material world as damaged by human and angelic sin. Many look forward not to the destruction of the world, but to its eschatological deliverance from the damage caused by sin." Hahne is saying that Paul believed, much like Jesus, that people would achieve salvation while here on Earth and that the destruction of sin would transform the material world in some way. He was NOT predicting an actual destruction of the world, as John the Baptist did. Paul was predicting a metaphorical, Gnostic transformation of the material world.

Regardless, even if Paul was apocalyptic, my opponent concedes the analysis from the History Channel special: if a historical Jesus existed, he was most definitely only a minor preacher during his time. Even if he preached non-apocalyptic philosophies, it is unlikely he gained many followers. Why would the historical Jesus be an unknown preacher? Because if the gospel writers picked someone who WAS famous, early historians might mention this person, and these historical accounts would obviously contradict many of the "miracles" from the New Testament. So it did not even matter what Paul believed, since this doesn't reflect on the actual historical Jesus.

So my opponent's concession of that analysis makes this whole point moot.

Lastly, Paul did not even know Jesus and was not familiar with his life or teachings. "Paul does not mention any events in the life of Jesus, except the Lord's supper and resurrection. He only met Peter and James, a brother of Jesus. He made no attempt to meet any other apostles during his 15-day visit to Jerusalem in AD 39." [3] "Graham Stanton (Professor of New Testament Studies in the University of London), in his book 'Gospel Truth', says that Paul's failure to refer more frequently to the actions and teaching of Jesus is 'baffling.'" [3]

So Paul's beliefs do not REFLECT AT ALL on Jesus. He didn't even know the guy.

== John the Baptist was the ascetic apocalyptic, not Jesus ==

I said I would remind my opponent of all the arguments he dropped in the last round. Here we go.

Dropped:

1) John's beliefs are the EXACT same as a real tribe, the Essenes, whose beliefs are found in the Dead Sea Scrolls. The Essenes believed in BAPTISM to wipe away sin, asceticism (fasting), AND that the world would soon come to an end. If John the Baptist and Jesus are based on real people, it seems obvious that John must have gotten his beliefs about baptism and fasting from somewhere. Obviously, the Essenes are the perfect candidates. So if John completely mimicked their first two beliefs, why wouldn't he mimic their apocalyptic beliefs as well. Thus, why should we not believe that John was the apocalyptic and not Jesus? It fits with his other beliefs.

2) Jesus' followers completely differed from those of John. In Mark 2:18, John's followers are fasting and Jesus' are not. We can clearly see whose followers were following in the footsteps of the Essenes.

3) According to one of the Gnostic gospels, the Gospel of Philip, Jesus and Mary Magdalene were lovers. Since Jesus did not deny himself the pleasures of the flesh, he clearly differed in beliefs from John and his ascetic apocalyptic followers.

4) People often confused Jesus with John according to Mark 8:27-28. "On the way he asked them, "Who do people say I am?" They replied, "Some say John the Baptist."" When the gospel authors took random quotes from quote books (like "Q"), they obviously made the same mistake. Or else the gospel authors borrowed from oral tradition, which would also be corrupted by people confusing Jesus with John. The concession of this point is HUGE. The gospels themselves prove that people confused Jesus with John.

5) Robert W. Funk and most Biblical scholars (two thirds of them) believe that Jesus was not predicting apocalypse when he predicted the coming of the "Kingdom of God." Instead, they believe he meant this in the Gnostic sense: that people would achieve paradise here on Earth through salvation of the soul by righteous practices. Two thirds of Jesus scholars believe that: the historical Jesus was merely a holy man and John the Baptist was the apocalyptic.

This takes out all but one of my opponent's quotes.

6) The concession of #5 only leaves my opponent one apocalyptic passage in Mark 8:34. I showed that in this passage, Jesus refers to himself and the Messiah as different people (so the true speaker probably wasn't Jesus, but John). My opponent answers this with a "Jesus scholar" who claims that Jesus did not consider himself the Messiah. We only have to go back 4 lines to see this isn't true: "Peter answered, "You are the Messiah."Jesus warned them not to tell anyone about him."" Lastly, Mark 8:34 begins with an exhortation to the audience to "deny themselves." This is yet more evidence that the doomsday predictions in the New Testament are false attributions of quotes from John the Baptist (or another ascetic apocalyptic preacher), since we saw that Jesus did not ask his followers to fast or deny themselves (Mark 2:18).

ALL of the above arguments were dropped.

Con thus doesn't defend his original apocalyptic claims from the New Testament. As such, CON HAS NO BIBLICAL EVIDENCE LEFT AT THE END OF THE ROUND PROVING A DIRECT QUOTE FROM JESUS THAT WAS APOCALYTPIC. He thus clearly fails to meet the burden of proof, especially with all his complaining that everything has to be proven by primary sources.

== Jesus as another Sun God ==

Ultimately, my opponent seems to be defending here the historical accuracy of the virgin birth and the resurrection, which is indefensible. He never answers the analysis that if the gospel authors are willing to lie (about the genealogies) and borrow heavily from pagan mythology, how are we to trust ANYTHING they say?

Okay, back into the Horus claim. Honestly, my opponent should lose the conduct vote for this. It's ridiculous that he DEMAND that I read three ancient books, in full, to prove my claims. He's clearly just trying to waste my time. This site sources all of the claims I have made, using the ancient texts. [4] The crucifixion of Horis is depicted in a drawing in the Pyramid Texts, provided here. [4] Horus had 12 apostles (The Book of Gates: Chapter 3); Horus began to teach (preach) at age 12, same as Jesus (The Second Story of Khamuas); Horus' death and resurrection after 3 days is found in Pyramid Texts Utterance 667. [4]

In fairness, my opponent said "Win this challenge, and win the debate." I guess he wants you all to vote for me right now.

Again, my opponent just nitpicks one of my claims, but doesn't answer all the similarities to other pagan Sun god religions. I proved that Bethlehem is not a real place, but is an ancient reference to the constellation Virgo (The Virgin), from whence the Sun is "born" on Dec 25th. This makes sense, since no scholar has been able to locate Bethlehem (or even find mention of it anywhere else). Horus also raised Lazarus from the dead and walked on water (referred to in the Pyramid Texts as "Lake Strider"). [4]

Lastly, here's the most important (dropped) argument: major events of the New Testament, such as King Herod killing all the babies in Bethlehem to try to find Jesus, are not recorded in any early historical texts, even though they would have been MAJOR events. My opponent agreed in round 1 that if I prove that the New Testament is a fabrication, then I win. Guess I win, since my opponent doesn't really contest anything except the claim that Horus was crucified.

== Jesus as an amalgamation ==

This argument has been dropped the entire round. Many Talmudic scholars, like Hayyim ben Yehoshua, believe Jesus was based on a number of false messiahs who were all crucified, such as Yehuda, Theudas and Benjamin. Christians have many responses to this argument (and deny that any of these people were Jesus), but my opponent never ventures any. Yeishu ben Pandeira, who was branded a sorcerer by the Jews, according to Talmudic writings, had two of Jesus's disciples: Matthew and Thaddeus. If you add in enough other false messiahs, you can get all 12 disciples' names.

== Historical silence ==

The first problem with the Tacitus passage is that he specifically calls the Christian belief that the Romans killed their Messiah "a most mischievous superstition." The syntax of the sentence is strange – because it's a translation – but Tacitus has clear contempt for the Christians, based on the passage. He is merely mentioning what the Christians believe and then says he believes it to be a "superstition." The second problem is that "Christus" just means "the anointed one" or "messiah," but as I mentioned above, the Romans crucified MANY false messiahs (who are mentioned in ancient Jewish texts). [This raises another question: if the Jews hated Jesus so much that (according to the New Testament), a crowd of them forced Pontius to crucify him, why don't they joyfully record this "false" messiah's death, along with the many others that *are* recorded?] Regardless, if Tacitus wanted Jesus' identity recorded for antiquity, he would have referred to him as "Jesus of Nazareth" not "the Christian messiah" (Christus). The fact he didn't use Jesus' proper name is further proof that Tacitus didn't believe the claim to be true. You know, besides him calling it a "mischievous superstition."

== Gnostics ==

My opponent never contests that the true followers of Jesus were Gnostics, not doomsdayers. The most prolific writings about Jesus appear in the NUMEROUS Gnostic gospels.

== Conclusion ==

I have proven in this debate that the gospel authors were willing to lie, borrow, and cheat to gain followers for Christianity. My opponent never disproves the Jewish claims about Jesus being a combination of false messiahs. Even if you believe the gospels, I have provided copious textual evidence that John the Baptist, not Jesus, was the apocalyptic ascetic (and two-thirds of Jesus scholars agree with my interpretation). And during this time period, asceticism and apocalypticism were completely intertwined (as seen by the Essenes). If Jesus was not an ascetic, he was not apocalyptic, and I've clearly won that he was not ascetic. For all these reasons, I urge a Con vote.

[1] http://bible.cc...
[2] http://bible.cc...
[3] http://www.sonofman.org...
[4] http://forum.davidicke.com...
Debate Round No. 5
47 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Raisor 5 years ago
Raisor
The only argument from Con I come even close to buying is the John the Baptist amalgamation and metaphorical kingdom of God.

King Arthur is largely irrelevant to the debate and supported by poor source and possible not even by those.

The Horus stuff is another poorly supported argument, both in terms of sources and in terms of in round development. Maybe some of these claims are true, but Im sure as heck not going to dig through a bunch of garbage like forum posts and youtube videos to figure that out. Pro is right in calling you out for the primary source documents.

So really the only argument I considered contentious was the John the Baptist one. Con does a pretty solid job of elaborating the textual evidence in the NT that connects John's particular brand of asceticism with the doomsday material attributed to Jesus and showing the Jesus and John were often mixed up.

Pro's objection (1) in R4 misses the point that in this instance there is evidence that ties asceticism and apocalyptics. (2) is just sort of weak and Con provides textual evidence to combat it. (3) provides serious difficulty for Con and is the point where my decision was made. It is definitely problematic for Con that his main scholar believes Paul to have been ascetic- this suggests the series of 180s model, which I agree is very unlikely. But Con points out that it isnt really a series of 180s if Paul is an ascetic, since Paul's asceticism differs from John's (suggesting a lack of continuity) and that Paul was historically separated from the actual preaching of Jesus.

On a close call I vote Con.
Posted by Raisor 5 years ago
Raisor
LOL at calling Dawkins a "scholar" in the context of Biblical history.
Posted by ApostateAbe 5 years ago
ApostateAbe
"...credible sources"!
Posted by ApostateAbe 5 years ago
ApostateAbe
Maybe he isn't lightening up. One way or the other, I think we had better leave him along for a while. He is on a bridge-burning spree.
Posted by Man-is-good 5 years ago
Man-is-good
You mean as becoming better or being a portent for the worse??
Posted by ApostateAbe 5 years ago
ApostateAbe
Man-is-good, I think bluesteel is only lightening up a little, so no worries.
Posted by Man-is-good 5 years ago
Man-is-good
Oops, that should be "your mafia game"....
Posted by Man-is-good 5 years ago
Man-is-good
No, that wasn't the reason....I'm sure many would agree judging from the response to your thread, but hey I'm just "the guy who ruined my Dexter mafia game because according to him, he 'prefers having fun (and trolling)' "!
Posted by bluesteel 5 years ago
bluesteel
lol, ok, says the guy who ruined my Dexter mafia game because according to him, he "prefers having fun (and trolling)"
Posted by Man-is-good 5 years ago
Man-is-good
"I was actually making a point about your own recent perspective, because it seems analogous. Hopefully, it is temporary."

I have to sugercoat this, but ApostateAbe is right!
5 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 5 records.
Vote Placed by Raisor 5 years ago
Raisor
ApostateAbebluesteelTied
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Total points awarded:23 
Reasons for voting decision: Sources for what I believe are obvious reasons. Citing the Da Vinci Code and random youtube videos? Zeitgeist? Really? RFD in comments.
Vote Placed by Greyparrot 5 years ago
Greyparrot
ApostateAbebluesteelTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Bluesteel, you are an awesome and fearless debater. Your arguments were very sound and supported credible sources. Very impressive young Jedi.
Vote Placed by Renascor 5 years ago
Renascor
ApostateAbebluesteelTied
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Reasons for voting decision: This was a very good debate on both sided. I was very impressed. Arguments goes to Con only because they were more convincing (No kidding, yes?). I will continue reviewing this debate as I want my decision to be completely accurate.
Vote Placed by Mr.Infidel 5 years ago
Mr.Infidel
ApostateAbebluesteelTied
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Reasons for voting decision: See comments
Vote Placed by Rasheed 5 years ago
Rasheed
ApostateAbebluesteelTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Bluesteel, you are an awesome and fearsome debater. Your arguments were very sound and supported by the leading scholars on the subject. Very impressive.