The Instigator
Smithereens
Pro (for)
Winning
16 Points
The Contender
Stephen_Hawkins
Con (against)
Losing
6 Points

The historicity of Jesus Christ

Do you like this debate?NoYes+5
Add this debate to Google Add this debate to Delicious Add this debate to FaceBook Add this debate to Digg  
Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 5 votes the winner is...
Smithereens
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 11/1/2012 Category: Religion
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 4,127 times Debate No: 26785
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (28)
Votes (5)

 

Smithereens

Pro

Motion: Jesus Probably existed



The debate about the historicity of Jesus is not new to DDO, and so I will attempt to make this debate the most challenging one seen, with the help of my opponent, whoever he or she may be.
This debate will require pre-existing knowledge about the topic, but not the sort of knowledge that is absent from the general populace. If you want more information about what will be happening in this debate, I recommend this article: [1 http://en.wikipedia.org......]

Definitions:
Jesus: Famous person in question who allegedly lived ~2000 years ago.
Probably: insofar as seems reasonably true, factual, or to be expected[2]
existed: to have real being whether material or spiritual[3] For the purposes of this debate, we shall use the material definition.

Rules and structure:
1)
No semantics, trolling or swearing.
2) Forfeit in 1 round results in conduct loss, more than 1 round results in full 7 point penalty.
3) Definitions are not to be debated, If you have an issue, pm me.
4) Material posted in comments is to be ignored, sources are allowed to be posted in comments.

If you break a rule I will ask you to concede.

4 rounds
72 hours to post
8000 character limit

Structure:
Round 1: Acceptance only.
Round 2: Argument from Pro, Rebuttal (and arguments if applicable) from Con
Round 3: Arguments, Rebuttals and defense from both
Round 4: Rebuttal and defense from both
Round 5: Rebuttals and closing statements

Good luck.


______________________________________________________________________
[1]http://en.wikipedia.org......
[2]http://www.merriam-webster.com......
[3]http://mw2.merriam-webster.com......
Stephen_Hawkins

Con

This is always a good topic when one has the time.

For reference to those who do study history (and history of history more precisely) I am defining historicity as the actuality of the truth of an individual.

Jesus Christ shall be defined as a person with the characteristics of being a jewish man named Jesus, the son of God, who committed many great miracles, such as the feeding of the five hundred and curing of the blind and bringing back of the dead. A miracle that defines Jesus Christ was the resurrection. He also committed sermons, such as the sermon of the mount, and used rhetorical devices, specifically analogy and allegory, to bring across messages of how to lead one's life.
For reference, the debate is the historicity of Jesus. This means that we are debating whether Jesus Christ is a historical figure. As history tells us, we are to be told whether it is more likely or not it is true. Also, if anyone has any questions on terminology or diction, please state them in the comments.

Also, I am sure my opponent and I both know the scholars that will be referred to, but there is always a good chance that my opponent refers to evidence I do not see, or I refer to a rebuttal that my opponent does not know of. As such, if the evidence comes from a book from days past (e.g. Testimonium Flavium), a quotation referred from the book combined with a source to the book and page reference would be very useful for both parties.

With that, I thank my opponent for the debate, and shall await his first round.
Debate Round No. 1
Smithereens

Pro

The motion has already been stated and defined: Jesus probably existed. My opponents first post narrowly scrapes breaking rule 3, but since I wish to have a good debate, we will let it pass.

My arguments this round wil concern secular evidence concerning the validity of the claim that there was a person called Jesus on this earth. Miracles and Divinity are for another debate, here we will focus on whether or not he actually lived.

Scholars do not debate this issue, but it is still fun to do amoung the non-scholary 'uneducated,' people.

In a 2011 review of the state of modern scholarship, Bart Ehrman wrote: "He certainly existed, as virtually every competent scholar of antiquity, Christian or non-Christian, agrees" [1]
Van Voorst, Robert E (2000) states that modern scholarship views the theories of non-existence of Jesus as effectively refuted. [2]
Michael Grant states that "In recent years, 'no serious scholar has ventured to postulate the non-historicity of Jesus' or at any rate very few, and they have not succeeded in disposing of the much stronger, indeed very abundant, evidence to the contrary."[3]
James D. G. Dunn states that the theories of non-existence of Jesus are "a thoroughly dead thesis" [4]
Richard A. Burridge states: "There are those who argue that Jesus is a figment of the Church’s imagination, that there never was a Jesus at all. I have to say that I do not know any respectable critical scholar who says that anymore." [5]


My R1 arguments are:

1) Evidence for Jesus is presented by Roman Historians.
2) Evidence for Jesus is presented by Jewish Rabbi.
3) Evidence for Jesus is presented by Josephus.

1) Tacitus was a Roman Historian and Senator [6]. He is considered the father of written historical texts by modern day historians. After the fire of Rome, he documented the following record:
'Nero fabricated Scapegoats, and punished with every refinement, the notoriously depraved Christians (as they were popularly called). Their originator, Christ, had been executed in Tiberius' reign by the governor of Judea, Pontius Pilatus. But in spite of this setback, the deadly superstition had broken out afresh, not only in Judea (where the mischief had started) but also in Rome.' [7]
Looking at the text, it can be concluded that Tacitus shared a disdain for Eastern religions along with Nero. Nero especially disliked the new religion of Christianity which can -to an extent- be associated with Tacitus. Here Tacitus provides a factual report that: “…Christ, had been executed…” Also note how it was formalised and official. 'Christ, had been executed in Tiberius' reign by the governor of Judea, Pontius Pilatus.' Tacitus is reporting a factual event that is not questionable. It was an accepted fact that Jesus was a man who was executed. As far as the Romans were concerned, he was just a meddling upstart who got what he deserved.
This brief mention of Pontius Pilate by Tacitus is one of five historical references which historians count as valid. One of the other five is the canonical gospels. Scholars consider this source as authentic, and as having historical value as an independent Roman source. [8, 9, 10] Eddy and Boyd state that it is now "firmly established" that Tacitus provides a non-Christian confirmation of the crucifixion of Jesus.[11] Jesus had to exist in order to be crucified. The attack my opponent will make on Tacitus is that he was reporting hearsay, however, as Paul R. Eddy has stated that as Rome's preeminent historian, Tacitus was generally known for checking his sources and was not in the habit of reporting gossip.[12]

2) Writings from the Talmud dating from 70 AD to about 200 AD depict in accurate detail, occurrences regarding Christ.
'On the eve of the Passover, Yeshu(Jesus) 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 has enticed Israel to apostasy. Anyone who can say anything in his favour, let him come forward and plead on his behalf." But since nothing was brought forth in his favour, he was hanged on the eve of the Passover.'[13]
This passage can refer to 3 possible people who were hanged on Passover. A thief, another thief and Jesus. The thieves were not accused of sorcery or enticing an entire nation to apostasy, so it must have been Jesus. The other Obvious hint is that it says it was Jesus. Yeshu is the Hebrew spelling of Jesus. [14]
Also note the Authors of this text, the Jewish Rabbi. The Rabbi, Pharisees and Sadducee's of the Jewish nation were all enemies of Jesus. He had undermined their teachings multiple times and made direct accusations at their integrity. There is absolutely no chance what-so-ever that these religious leaders were in a plot with the Disciples of Christ to 'conjure' his existence. What they documented was this text about Jesus that painted him in a very bad light.

3) Josephus was a Romano-Jewish historian,[15,16] who wrote valid passages confirming Jesus’ existence.[17,18] He also fought in the war against the Romans, a war which he recorded in several Volumes after his capture. The Roman who captured him later became the emperor, and exulted him to a position of elevated status among the Roman historians. Josephus is worth noting because in his book, the antiquities of the Jews, he makes the following statement: 'Ananus brought before the Sanhedrin "a man named James, the brother of Jesus who was called the Christ, and certain others. he accused them of having transgressed the law, and condemned them to be stoned to death."' [19]
Note, Josephus was not a Christian. He was not interested in Christianity, and he showed complete impartiality to the new religion. In fact, Josephus talks very little about Christianity and instead focuses on Judeo-Roman history. But the references to this 'Jesus' who was called Christ are very present and do not fit the descriptions of any of the other 60 self-proclaiming Messiahs who were alive in the same century as Christ. James, who is the highlight of Josephus's writings here is recorded as being the brother of Jesus in Mark 6:3.
Another famous passage about Jesus is found in source 20. [20]

Based on this evidence, it is reasonable to conclude that Jesus probably existed. The rest of my case will be in the next round.




Souces:
______________________________________________________________
[1]B. Ehrman, 2011 Forged : writing in the name of God ISBN 978-0-06-207863-6. page 285
[2]Van Voorst, Robert E (2000). Jesus Outside the New Testament: An Introduction to the Ancient Evidence. Eerdmans Publishing. ISBN 0-8028-4368-9 page 16
[3]in Jesus: An Historian's Review of the Gospels by Micjhael Grant 2004 ISBN 1898799881 page 200
[4]James D. G. Dunn "Paul's understanding of the death of Jesus" in Sacrifice and Redemption edited by S. W. Sykes (2007) Cambridge University Press ISBN 052104460X pages 35-36
[5]in Jesus Now and Then by Richard A. Burridge and Graham Gould
[6]http://en.wikipedia.org......
[7]Annals 15:44
[8]Jesus and His Contemporaries: Comparative Studies by Craig A. Evans 2001 ISBN 0-391-04118-5 page 42
[9] Mercer dictionary of the Bible by Watson E. Mills, Roger Aubrey Bullard 2001 ISBN 0-86554-373-9 page 343
[10]Pontius Pilate in History and Interpretation by Helen K. Bond 2004 ISBN 0-521-61620-4 page xi
[11]Eddy, Paul; Boyd, Gregory (2007). The Jesus Legend: A Case for the Historical Reliability of the Synoptic Jesus Tradition Baker Academic, ISBN 0-8010-3114-1 page 127
[12] The Jesus legend: a case for the historical reliability of the synoptic gospels by Paul R. Eddy, et al 2007 ISBN 0-8010-3114-1 pages 181-183
[13]The Babylonian Talmud. Volume 4 Seherdrin, 43a pg 281.
[14]http://en.wikipedia.org...
[15]http://en.wikipedia.org...
[16]http://www.josephus.org...
[17]http://www.biblestudytools.com...
[18]http://www.earlyjewishwritings.com...
[19]Antiquities of the Jews 20:9:1
[20]Antiquities of the Jews 18:3:3.



Stephen_Hawkins

Con

I thank my opponent for his compelling opening round. Firstly, I wish to note this is a contentious issue, and there is no end to scholars on either side of the board claiming "every competent scholar...agrees" with them. Indeed, Carrier notably assaults Ehrman's 2011 book on Jesus Christ for dozens of historical innaccuracies or falsehoods. As such, I won't insult my opponent or readers by mentioning them. Instead, I shall focus on debating the facts of the matter.

The topic itself that we are debating is a history one. History debates, or arguments on history, follow a simple formula. We take some source from the past, dispassionately analyse it, and come to a conclusion. However, this seems to skip over what history actually is. I propose what is called scientific history. Scientific history comes from the tradition of Von Ranke. He is well known as one of the greatest historians, for 3 major reasons. He practically invented source criticism for one and attacked historical presentism[1], he made history a subject, independent from philosphy or theology or literature. He is well known for saying that history of the past "has been assigned the office of judging the past, of instructing the present for the benefit of future ages. To such high offices [history] does not aspie: it wants only to show what actually happened"[2].

Von Ranke's study of history and source-criticism shall be the basis of my work here. I shall firstly refute what my opponent has said as reasonable evidence for the existence of Christ. Then I shall affirm a scientific history model. Finally, I'll see where this approach to history brings us. My opponent clearly uses secondary sources. Thus, my opponent has to affirm a form of history which values historical sources (for example, the historical system should tell us how valuable a secondary source is) followed by his proof (which he has already done). This is because I affirm the view that biblical historians lack the rigour of other historians, ignoring the modern revelations of the study of history. Indeed, from personal experience the local scholar in my local university knew little of Von Ranke or any of the postmodern movement and its effect on history (which Spiegel claims is leading to "the dissolution of history" and "necessarily jeopardizes historical study as it is normally understood"[3]).

Firstly, let us consider Tacitus. I am glad we have started strongly, as I believe he is the closest we have got to evidence for Christ. To make the Tacitus quotation explicit (to use the favoured translation):

"Therefore to squelch the rumour that Nero had started the Great Fire of Rome, Nero created scapegoats and subjected to the most refined tortures those whom the common people called "Christians," (a group) hated for their abominable crimes. Their name comes from Christ[os], who, during the reign of Tiberius, had been executed by the procurator Pontius Pilate. Suppressed for the moment, the deadly superstition broke out again, not only in Judea, the land which originated this evil, but also in the city of Rome, where all sorts of horrendous and shameful practices from every part of the world converge and are fervently cultivated."[4] (emphasis added)
Criticisms calling this an interpolation has some support, though it is a minority. However, I think there's no real reason to call it such. Compared to Josephus' works or The Hitler Diaries, there is no clear-cut evidence of forgery. My criticism instead comes from Ranke's criticism of secondary sources. That is, this is unreliable secondary sourcing: an incredibly unreliable piece of evidence. To put it simply, if this evidence comes from an unreliable source, then the evidence itself is even more unreliable. Simply, history before von Ranke was an art, with opinions of the author impressed into the writing - evident in this passage with the terms "squelch the rumour" obviously implying Nero was faultless, and a hatred for the Christians "for their abominable crimes". (The fact that this was an attack on Christianity is entirely accepted by scholars, and I defy my opponent to find one who claims this is a neutral account). So taking history from a secondary source would be Tacitus taking bias evidence, then correcting it for a new bias. Any truth becomes incredibly quickly lost.

Is Tacitus likely to have taken this from a bias source? There are two possibilities: he took them from the common opinion eighty years after Christ, or from Imperial Records. Only the latter is good evidence. We have three reasons to believe it is the former.

First, we are told that the knowledge of the Christians are from "the common people". To me, this is enough, for obvious reasons. Secondly, Tacitus tells us the execution was of Christ. If it were Imperial Records, the man's name would have been written, not a title which grants divine legitimacy to this man who Tacitus was so vitriolically against. Thirdly, Tacitus is well known for falling trap to rumours. Tacitus was only skeptical "on occasion" Grant concedes, and he "persisently and lamentably" accepted rumours as fact and "conducted extremely little independent research". Tacitean scholar Goodyear notes "[Tacitus] implants grave suspicions which he neither substantiates nor refutes. Their cumulative effect [is] damning and distorting."[6] These three things together negates Tacitus as reliable for the historicity of Christ. I agree with France (scholar not country) on this: "I find Wells' argument entirely convincing. Tacitus' reference to 'Christus' is evidence only for what was believed about Christian origins at the time he wrote, and there is plenty of other evidence for that![7]".



The Talmud is always one of the stranger pieces of evidence. The sanhedrin (not sehredin) is widely agreed as unreliable as proof of Jesus' existence. Why? The Talmud directly contradicts with majy parts of Christianity to such an extent that this 'Yeshu' (a common name of the time[8]) "had five disciples, Matthai, Nakai, Nezer, Buni and Todah", as well as turning to paganism and being a terrible preacher. It evidently is work of a jewish writer trying to discredit Jesus rather than give independent historical evidence. Combine this now with the time it was written. Though my opponent claims "70 AD to about 200 AD", many sources including Christian ones claim much later, as late as the 5th century AD[9]. Seeing as it holds no reference to any sources used, it is more likely that this is a point of hasty polemic to criticise Christianity, not holding any true historical value in itself.


Finally, my opponent cites Josephus. I'll skip the second passage due to it being famous for being an interpolation, and focus on the former. The former passage from Josephus can be shrunk to "the brother of Jesus who was called the Christ". What does this tell us about Jesus? There was a man called Jesus and people referred to him as Christ. This alone, even if conceded, is nowhere near the Jesus of which the rest of the debate has tried to affirm. Secondly, there are numerous objections to this evidence. For example, one of the strengths of Josephus here is that he is a non-Christian. However, there are two faults. Firstly, the interpolation of the second article tells us that Flavium Testimonium is untrustworthy on the front of Jesus Christ. Secondly, as G.A.Wells notes, "the Greek does not have 'so-called' but 'him called Christ,' and this, so far from being non-Christian, is the exact wording of Mt. 1:16."[10]. With these two things in account, we have good reason to doubt the authenticity of this passage and thus the evidence.


Now, what I'd have liked to do is go on to explore the power and importance of secondary evidence, and how secondary evidence alone is nothing near what we need to prove the existence of Jesus Christ. I would have liked to also discuss scientific history. However, I am out of characters, so I shall expand on this in my rebuttal.

Sources in comment section.
Debate Round No. 2
Smithereens

Pro


This round I will refute my opponent’s attacks on the 3 arguments currently in play in this debate, and introduce another one.


Tacitus
my opponents employs the following arguments against Tacitus:

His aim was literary insult, not historical truth.
His source is wildly inaccurate and inconsistent.
He doesn't check his sources.
He says his source is the common people.

1. If Con thinks he can divine the thoughts and intents of Tacitus as he wrote his Annals, then I have nothing to say. But let's entertain the notion that his records were indeed just insults, and not the truth. Is that possible? No. Tacitus was a renowned historian for a reason. He didn't record history to insult people, nor did he allow his opinions to interfere with facts. As seen in his Annals, any opinion he had co-existed harmonically with the facts. So what was Con claiming? According to him, this account cannot be reliable due to:
a) Tacitus' use of the phrase 'squelch the rumor.'
My opponent says that this phrase implies that Nero was faultless. However, depending on what translation you use, this phrase does not appear. In my opponent’s source 4, which can be found in the comments, the Annals state: ‘consequently, to get rid of the report...' So my opponent has interpreted one of the many translations as an implication of x seems true, therefore y is true. Non-sequitur fallacy.
b) Tacitus' use of the phrase '...for their abominable crimes.'
Again, let us refer to our opponent’s source for clarity. Annals 15.44 on this matter states: 'Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace.' Tacitus is merely stating that Christians were hated for their abominations. This is a report, not an opinion.

2. My opponents claim that Tacitus' source is 'wildly inaccurate and inconsistent' holds little substance as an attack on Tacitus. Tacitus does not reveal the source of his information. [1] I feel Con may be making things up for material. Scholars still agree that Tacitus is completely authentic when examined, yet one cannot simply attack a source that is unknown to us. Nor can we deduce it, due to the nature of my opponent’s arguments attempting to be 'scientific.' Like point 1, this argument by Con does not constitute as evidence against the resolution.

3. The claim that Tacitus did not verify his sources is unfounded and wrong, as demonstrated in his Annals Fifty-Five: C. Plinii Secundi, Naturalis Histori. Nearly 70 times we see Tacitus distinguish between hearsay and confirmed accounts. We also see that he was in the habit of putting a disclaimer on any of his documents that were unverified, saying that it was unverified. No such disclaimer is on his report that Jesus was crucified.

4. Con's 4th contention directly contradicts his source. By using his preferred translation of Annals book 15:44; we see that Con's entire claim is wrong. Con argues that Tacitus used Christians as his source, in his words: 'we are told that the knowledge of the Christians is from "the common people."' Wrong, observe please, what Tacitus said: '...called Christians by the populace.' [2] Tacitus did not get his knowledge of Christianity from the populace; he only mentioned that the populace called the followers of Jesus Christians. To assert any more than that would be an unfounded claim.


The Talmud
Con's case against the Talmud relies heavily on his assumption that:
1. Contradictions are unexplainable.
Con did not source these 'contradictions with Christianity.' So how does he expect me to address them? Assuming that the Talmud does not agree with what Christianity agrees, that does not discredit either; we just look for facts, not controversial numbers.
2. There were many Yeshu's.
There was only one Yeshu from Nazareth, and only one Yeshu who was hanged:
Firenze II.1.8–9: on Sabbath even and the eve of Passover they hanged Jesus (Yeshu) the Nazarene.
Karlsruhe 2: on the eve of Passover they hanged Jesus (Yeshu) the Nazarene.
Herzog 1: on the eve of Passover they hanged Jesus (Yeshu) the Nazarene.


Josephus
the overwhelming majority of modern scholars consider the reference in Book 20 Chapter 9.1 of the Antiquities to "the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James" to be authentic and to have the highest level of authenticity among the references of Josephus to Christianity. [3,4,5,6,7,8]
Let 2 things be known here:
1. The first document appears to have Christian interpolation in it. However, my opponent faces a dilemma if he thinks this is the case:
a) these 'interpolations' are found in every surviving manuscript. There is no textual evidence to claim otherwise. [9]
b) Josephus mentions several other biblical characters, which are not disputed, so there is no reason to dispute Jesus.
c) Assume for a moment that Christians had got their hands on his work and had made Jesus look good. Take out all the bits that seem Christian interpolated. We get this:
And there arose about this time Jesus, a wise man, if indeed we should call him a man; for he was a doer of marvellous deeds, a teacher of men who received the truth with pleasure. He led away many Jews, and also Greeks. He was the Christ. and when Pilate had condemned him to the cross by his impeachment by the chief men among us, those who had loved him at first did not cease, for he appeared to them alive on the first day again, the divine prophets having spoken these and thousands of other wonderful things about him: and even then, the tribe of Christians, so named after him, has not yet died out.
It is established that this text, when all the 'interpolation' is removed, does not look favourably at Jesus, yet still confirms his existence.
2. The author of the book which Con relies on for his case against Josephus has abandoned his claims that Jesus did not exist. [10] I am led to believe that in spite of all G. A. Wells' arguments being shattered by J. P. Holding, Con remains uninformed.

Contrary to what Con would have us believe, there is no good argument against these 3 sources.
My next argument:


Lucian
Lucian was a fanatical enemy of Christianity; he used whatever opportunities available to criticise and degrades the religion. In his book, the Passing of Peregrinus he writes:

'The Christians, as 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 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 they are converted, and deny the gods of Greece, and worship the crucified sage, and live after his laws.' [11]

So now that we have established that Lucian provides textual information about Jesus, can we count it as historically valid? By examining his other writings, yes, we can refute the standard case against him, that his account is based on hearsay.
Lucian was very concerned about historical accuracy and reliability when documenting. From Fowl.LucSam, 126, 128:

History...abhors the intrusion of any least scruple of falsehood; it is like the windpipe, which the doctors tell us will not tolerate a morsel of stray food.

The historian's one task is to tell the thing as it happened.

(The historian) must sacrifice to no God but Truth; he must neglect all else; his sole rule and unerring guide is this - to think not of those who are listening to him now, but of the yet unborn who shall seek his converse.


Lucian was also known to mock those who did not practice complete honesty. [12] So he is a very valuable historian that confirms that resolution: Jesus Probably Existed.


Sources in comments.

Stephen_Hawkins

Con

I'll dive straight in with the criticisms and then hopefully move onto my arguments for scientific history in a moment.

Tacitus

1) Insult

Did Tacitus aim to insult? I believe this comes down to simply reading the section. It is obvious through use of language that Tacitus was trying to attack Christians. Look at the language: "the deadly superstition", "this evil", "horrendous and shameful practices", "hated for their abominable crimes". Is my opponent really going to contend this is the language of a neutral source? For many sources looking to try and see this as authentic end up conceding this. "Due to the common acceptance of Tacitus as the greatest of the Roman historians, there isa tendency to explicitly believe everything that he writes as factual. In actuality much of it ...is merely invective and rhetoric. This was prevalent in Roman history"[1]. Others point out "Tacitus obviously had a partisan, senatorial bias...so strong that he deliberately misinterpreted the facts"[2]. The truth of the matter is Tacitus was clearly not nonpartisan: he was not interested in claiming facts, but rather criticising Caesars.

2) Reliability of scholar

A historian becomes less reliable each time they get evidence wrong. Tacitus unfortunately got basic facts wrong repeatedly which we'd expect him to know, due to his bias against the emporers. "Indeed, he distrusted emperors so much that he may have been too credulous of negative sources about them."[3] For example, Tacitus cared not for producing speeches accurately. "Tacitus exercised the privelege claimed by Greek and Roman writers to rewrite speeches rather than reproduce the original." This is nicely illustrated by Claudius' speech on the introduction of the Gauls into the Roman Senate, where we can compare Tacitus' version[4] with the record of the actual speech which Tacitus would certainly have access. It's hard to conclude he did not read the original speech, since every point is in common. "That said, his version is barely even a loose paraphrase of the original. Clearly, the historian saw as his role to capture the spirit of the occasion rather than to present a documentary record of it".[5] His reliability of getting his sources right is compromised, and this in turn creates good reason to reject Tacitus as a good source when his findings cannot be cross-verified.

3) Reliability of Tacitus' sources

Further, scholars agree that Tacitus used secondary sources to justify his history. My opponent criticises my translation,
saying it is "populace" instead of "the common people". The solution, of course, is to look at the translation. In Annals,
the term is vulgus. Vulgus translates best as "common people/general public/multitiude/common herd/rabble/crowd/ mob"Populus or poplus means populace, yet this is not the term that appears in the Latin[7]. This mistranslation is common, but not negligible. My opponent states that Tacitus only referred to the naming as Christians by the people, not the rest of the information. However, Tacitus is well documented as justifying swathes of evidence on rumour and second sources: "Tacitus rarely mentioned his sources by name. He will more often refer vaguely to writers...or even more vaguely to..."certain people"" Moreover, he participated "in a one-upmanship of his predecessor" because "when he does on the rare occasion mention a source by name it is often on issues that are, surprisingly, not of great importance"[5]. This section is a great moment to name a scholar to justify his claim, yet instead refers to "common people". This highlights further that he could not find a scholar to promote his findings.

With all these things in account, the culmination is that it is the ineducated masses who evidently heard their information from another ineducated mass. Tacitus then unreliably presented the information. The reliability, then, is next to nothing.

The Talmud

1) Contradictions

My opponent seems to agree that there are contradictions, but did not pick them up. To restate it: It claims Yeshu "had five disciples, Matthai, Nakai, Nezer, Buni and Todah", as well as turning to paganism and being a terrible preacher. Evidently this is just an attempt to criticise Christianity.

2) Many Yeshu

My opponent cites Firezne, Karlsruhe and Herzog as evidence. These are just different editions of the Talmud from the 13th century, edited by Roman Catholics. This is not evidence. Also, I want to reiterate that the Talmud was written later, in the 5th century AD.

Josephus

The first section is justargumentum ad verecundiam from wikipedia, so I'll ignore it and get to the heart of the matter. The reason why the interpolations are found in every surviving manuscript is because the oldest is of the 13th to 14th century - it is not an argument in favour of its authenticity. Moreover, the mention of other Christians does not confirm the existence of Christ. Finally, the claim that "Wells' arguments [were] shattered by J.P.Holding" is a case of ad hominem, arguing at Wells instead of the argument. Finally, the first quotation gives us no knowledge of Jesus: the quotation simply implies the knowledge of Jesus having the title Christ. This is like knowing Arthur had the title King. It's nothing impressive or proof of existence.

Lucian

This comes nowhere near to affirming the existence of Jesus Christ, but simply describes Christian belief. Moreover, Lucian telling us how we should commit history impartially is comical and satirical, seeing as he is a satirist. He tells us, for example, Jesus is "that crucified sophist" (of the relativist school of thought known for denying the existence of Gods). However, the long and short of it is that Lucian is just telling us what Christians believe. Finally, the Passing of Peregrinus is a satirical piece, not a scholarly piece of history. Reading the article yourself makes it obvious[8].

Now, I finally have enough characters to make my case, so let's get started.

Scientific History

Historians through the ages have held widely differing views on the purpose of history. In the medieval ages, historians saw their purpose as chronicling God"s plan in action; the rationalist historians of the Enlightenment said instead history is the registration of human forces, and history was "philosophy by example". However, these views are all full of bias interpretation to create personal truths and models to promote ideology. The example of medieval and enlightenment history may seem outdated, but even as recent as the 1930s regarding World War One is evident. Evans comments "Many historians who had studied in Germany now rushed to denounce German scholarship as pedantic and anti-democratic". The importance of this is that German school was that of scientific history. Scientific history was abandoned, and it led "events such as the Russian Revolution, the Treaty of Versailles, and the triumph of modernism in art, music and literature [to] increase the sense of disorientation among historians".[9] This was because historians let their bias lead themselves to terrible interpretations of the past. A call to a return to scientific history is needed.
Scientific History is a dismissal of secondary sources of being good sources of information. Looking at the mistakes of historians in the past, we abandon them as founts of knowledge and instead go to where they took their knowledge from. That is not to say secondary sources are wrong, but instead to say they are of little importance. They point us to primary sources, and confirm our findings, but secondary sources independent of corroborating evidence is not a good source. Thus, either a primary source needs to be given, or reason why secondary sources are as valuable.

Moreover, If an incredibly large event without primary source, the chance of it occurring is even less. There is unlikely to be a record of what Jesus ate 2 Thursdays before his death, but events like Herod"s infanticide would have been very well recorded. Yet they are not. Essential parts of Jesus' life are missing to such an extent that the individual is no longer the 'Jesus' of the Bible anymore. With that in mind, I turn the debate over to my opponent.
Debate Round No. 3
Smithereens

Pro

Next round I will address my opponent’s proposition of a 'scientific history.' But this round let us examine the ocean of mistakes given by Con.


1. Tacitus.

1.1 Invective and rhetoric methods of documentation do not discredit facts.
My opponent brought up again his already debunked argument: it is obvious Tacitus just wanted to insult Christians instead of report facts. But this time he was being sneaky. Instead of proving that the Annals 15:44 was actually all just insults at Christians, he asserted that Tacitus usually did that in his writings, and thus did it here. Here we go again with Con's logic: If y seems true, then x is true. Please note that there is no bias in Annals 15:44 that could possibly distort or alter what facts there are.

"...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 Judaea, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome," [1]

Contrary to what Con says, no rhetoric is evident there with the exception of that which I have already addressed in my previous post. I would also note that like many critics of Tacitus, Kraus and Woodman for example, Con attacks Tacitus and says that discredits him, yet fails to address the passage pertaining to Jesus. There is no indication that Tacitus' bias had any effect on the Jesus passage.

1.2 Tacitus is a reliable scholar.
Benario about Tacitus states: "The information that Tacitus presents is almost invariably accurate, having been confirmed by archaeology, epigraphical evidence, and other authors."[2]
To see whether or not Con is correct I usually like to look at what his sources have to say against him. In this case, Con's source 3 states: "...a closer study of the factual evidence given by Tacitus illustrates a totally different emperor.“Source 3 concedes that Tacitus' presentation of the facts contradicts his opinions, yet Tacitus states them anyways, being an honest historian. We see this elsewhere too. Grant states: "the actual facts which he records are generally accurate - so accurate that they involuntarily contradict his sinister innuendoes." [3]

Con goes on to quote: "Tacitus exercised the [privilege] claimed by Greek and Roman writers to rewrite speeches rather than reproduce the original." I do not know where he is quoting from, so this makes refuting hard. Con says that this quote, (wherever it came from) is "illustrated by Claudius' speech on the introduction of the Gaul’s into the Roman Senate, where we can compare Tacitus' version[4] with the record of the actual speech which Tacitus would certainly have access." Con provides the annals, but not the speech. I would ask Con to source his work as rebuttals is made hard without information.

Furthermore, we have gone off topic as to Con attempting to discredit Tacitus as a person rather than the evidence which I had provided. Any evidence that does not discredit Annals 15:44 is irrelevant to this debate.

1.3 Validity of sources.
Talking about reliable sources, notice in C1 the subtle attempt by Con to assert that Tacitus had a bias so strong he deliberately misinterpreted the facts. Right before he says that, he says: "Others point out" This shifts the BoP off him, and although no one realises it, it doesn't constitute as valid material. Why? Because Con's source 2 is actually the opinion of some random guy off the internet who didn't source his work. Nice try Con.

Moving on, we see more of Con's non-sequitur fallacies where he uses x seems true hence y is true. This time he states "Tacitus only referred to the naming as Christians by the people, not the rest of the information. However, Tacitus is well documented as justifying swathes of evidence on rumour and second sources." The day Con learns to attack the stuff that matters is probably the day pigs will fly.

I would also ask Con to address my point that looks in favour of Tacitus' sources, since Con seems to want to attack that. In his book, shattering the Christ myth, James Patrick Holding says: "In the Histories there are sixty-eight instances in which Tacitus indicates either a recorded statement or a belief on someone's part with regard to something which he himself is unwilling to assert as a fact; in other words, he cites divergent authority for some fact or motive" [Mende.Tac, 208]. These instances "would seem to indicate a writer who had not only read what was written by historians...but had also talked with eye witnesses and considered with some care the probable truth where doubt or uncertainty existed." [4]

I had brought up this argument before with different wording and sources if Con wants to try his luck. As it stands, all 3 sub contentions of Con's case against Tacitus are effectively refuted.


2. The Talmud

2.1 Conflicting beliefs do not discredit facts.
The authors of the Talmud believe Jesus had 5 apostles, however, Con correctly notes that they were very biased against Christ and Christianity. Which begs the question, since the Talmud was written a time after the life of Jesus, why didn't its prejudiced authors instead claim that Jesus never lived? It’s because, despite their wishes, they must not lie.


3. Josephus

3.1 Cons case against the passages by Josephus has been reduced to him hiding behind Well's claim that due to the similarity of a single phrase in Josephus' writing, the entre document must have been forged, or influenced by Christians.
Numerous scholars responded to this claim however, so much so to the point that G.Well himself admitted he was wrong. [5]
France EvJ states: "...Josephus' usage should be determined from Josephus, not from Matthew. The complete Concordance to Flavius Josephus translates legomenos as 'so-called' or 'alleged', and refers as an example to Josephus, Contra Apionen II 34, where he speaks of Alexandria as Apion's 'not birthplace, but alleged (birthplace)'. Even if legomenos does not necessarily carry this dismissive tone in our passage, it is hardly conceivable that a Christian interpolator could have been content with so non-committal a phrase."
Furthermore, it is actually my opponent who is guilty of ad hominem fallacies, constantly attacking the historian’s persons and not what they said.
3.2 The other passage I proposed has not been touched by Con.


4. Lucian


4.1 Frankly I was disappointed with my opponents attempt at a rebuttal against Lucian. He completely ignored my pre-emptive rebuttal. But never-the-less I will address what he had to say.
Since I do not have enough characters, pretend I have restated my previous post that was not addressed by Con.
Now add what J.P Holding has to say:
There is good reason to believe that he would not acknowledge the existence of Jesus if there were any doubt in his mind that Jesus actually existed. He would certainly have satirized Christian belief in a fictional or historically doubtful personage mercilessly, if any such arguments existed at the time.

He goes on to say: he was in a good position to have known of such issues, being that he moved in the most educated of circles and very likely corresponded and consulted with leading figures of his day.

In short, Lucian was a person who was "in a position to know" whether or not Jesus had genuine historical roots, and was exactly the sort who would raise any relevant doubts in order to enhance the impact of his satire.

The fact that he was writing satire didn't change his facts. To prove that, I will conclude my post with this quote by Lucian: “The historian’s first task is to tell the thing as it happened, he may nurse some private dislikes, but he will attach more importance to the public good, and will set the truth high above his hate..." [6]

Sources in Comments.



Stephen_Hawkins

Con

Tacitus

Again, my opponent has picked his own most beneficial translation to make his argument. So instead of just repeating what I have said, I'll quote from the following verses:

"Hence, even for criminals who deservedextreme and exemplary punishment, there arose a feeling of compassion; for it was not, as it seemed, for the public good, but to glut one man'scruelty, that they were being destroyed."

"Nero tried to disparage the fame of his poems and, with the foolish vanity of a rival"

Tacitus eventually asks "who would pity Nero as the victim of a crime"? Clearly, this man allows bias against Emporers to cloud his judgement. This follows with my next point. The bias which he presents could his judgement on many issues. Now, my opponent can cite scholars which agrees with him, and I can cite scholars which agree with me - this is the pitfall of the secondary source argument, and the reason why I back scientific history. Inundating us with people who agree with my opponent is not an argument, but an argument ad verecundiam.

Also, I apologise with the lack of reference source on the point of Tacitus on the speeches. However, this can be found by googling the statement to find my source[1]. Further, the speech[2] contrasts with Tacitus' Annals 11.23-24. Though presented as a direct quotation, in actual fact it is an offhand recount, of which Tacitus must have spent more time writing than he needed to, because his aim, again, was not to truly document the past, but to criticise the Emporers. As such, again, if the aim was to criticise and not be historically accurate, we cannot treat this as much more historically accurate than The Republic or Aenid. It certainly cannot pertain to be a powerful piece of evidence in itself. My opponent then criticises my scholars as weak. Of course, I could simply quote how scholars agree "unofficial stories [like this one] were full of bias and...were blatantly spun", or how "older scholarship battles over...the degree of bias or sense of personal injurity that colors his historiography"[3], but, again, such secondary source quote mining is meaningless. As I have done, one can find a quote from a secondary scholar to back up any argument. It seems my opponent is reduced to such mining and insults to derive his results.

Moreover, I want to bring up the (dropped) point that Tacitus most likely got his evidence from unreliable sources. His source was most likely Christians in the area believing on faith rather than evidence, or people hearing that such an event occurred. As such, this evidence itself has no solid basing in reliability. The "sixty-eight instances" of his quoting[4] is more reasonably explained by the fact that quoting others on minor points of fact was a way of one-upmanship. This makes more sense and corroborates with the historical nature of the time, as previously stated. Moreover, my opponent does not touch upon the point that such an aside comment like the one on Christ is usually paired with a source to gain such one-upmanship. The lack of such a source implies that Tacitus could not find one of reliability, and instead devolved to common rumour, which agrees with the other independent arguments I posed. As such, the evidence by Tacitus is inconclusive at best, dismissable in its entirety at worst.

The Talmud

The Talmud's inability to get facts right tells us it is unreliable. Moreover, the claim that "they must not lie" is comical: the Talmud says that Jesus did not resurrect, did not do any of his miracles, and was a pagan believing in many gods and was a bad preacher[5]. The Jesus referred to clearly is not the Biblical one, but an attempt to insult Christianity, which would make more sense when considering the source.

Moreover, my opponent has dropped the point this source was written around the 5th century AD, making it way too late to be classified even slightly as good evidence.

Josephus

My opponent cites France EvJ (no idea what kind of last name that is) and then a terrible translation of λεγόμενος or legómenos, the greek word for "to be called". The translation of alleged is ισχυρίστηκε or ischyrísti̱ke. Clearly, this scholar doesn't know his Greek. With this in mind, there is no problem. Moreover, my opponent claims I committed an ad hominem in my last round. I'd reply to this, but I have no idea what my opponent refers to. I attack historians making the claim, because, as world-renown historian E.H.Carr states: "study the historian before the history". The goals of the historian is incredibly important - for example, a major criticism Carr had of religious historical study was that the majority of those who study them go into their own religion and look for proof of their religion rather than make history around the proof.

The second passage, at risk of repeating myself, is that it proves nothing. All it shows is that the idea of Jesus was with a (either literal or metaphorical) brother. The passage holds no proof the existence of Christ. This is also true when the interpolations are removed from the section on the larger paragraph by Josephus.

Lucian

My opponent's argument is pretty much a satire is better if it is true. This obviously is correct when true means true-to-life, but being factual would make it dull. If spitting image was the real people speaking in Parliament, it wouldn't be funny. Similarly, satirists make up people, and continue myths, in order to make things funny. My opponent's misunderstanding is this: he has taken a book by Lucian, and said it is an attempt to be factual. The Passing of Peregrinus is not a historical study. It is a satire. One wouldn't cite Romeo and Juliet to prove that the events in the story happened (I hope) because it is fiction. The same goes for this. If my opponent wishes to cite a quotation in Lucian's The Way to Write History, or an actual historical treatise by Lucian instead of a bias, I would take it more seriously.

Scientific History

I'll simply build on what I said before. In the last round, I concluded history from secondary sources is able to be quickly dismissed. Primary sources are most important in a debate. This is not unreasonable: massive swathes of our knowledge come from primary sources. The definition of a primary source is debated hotly among scholars: some take it to include eye witness testimony being recalled years (or less) later, while some don't. As such, I always hold primary evidence as the standard to be met.


However, in the case of Jesus Christ, we have none of these. In fact, in the events around Jesus Christ, we have practically nothing.

The major events of the life of Christ starts with the infanticide by Herod. This was a major event in the Christian story, and is an incredibly important part of the theology. Indeed, if the story of Christ is not true, then the Jesus we are debating simply does not exist. Yet there is no evidence of this event - not primary, not secondary - of any scholarly worth. Such an act would have been recorded by the vast swathes of scholars like Josephus in the area, yet somehow it went onnoted. Between the explanation of such an event not happening and all scholars becoming oblivious to the event, it seems self-evident the former is most likely. As this is so, this makes the Jesus that we know inexistent.

The argument works similarly for other events. The Sermon on the Mount, or any of the other miracles would attract attention to be noted, yet they barely have been at all. Stripping away all the miracles, we still have an undocumented preacher with national (even international) appeal, yet still so lightly documented by comparison to his peers that it is dubious whether he even existed, on these grounds. Certainly, the Jesus which is the subject of this debate, in light of this evidence, does not exist.

Thank you for reading, and I look forward to the final round.
Debate Round No. 4
Smithereens

Pro

Con seems to have lost much of his resolve to continue this debate. Probably due to time issues, as his pm would suggest. But he has clearly not put as much effort into his last post as he did his first.


Tacitus
Con begins his attempt to refute my last post by saying that I picked my own translation to use to my advantage. I wouldn't call that a fair assessment given that I've been deliberately using my opponents own source. [1] He goes on to introduce his own source that he doesn't cite from anywhere. Poor sport.

Con summarises his entire case against Tacitus into a single sentence: The bias which he presents could his judgement on many issues. Adding correct grammar, we get this: The bias which he presents could impair his judgement on many issues. For this claim to even put a scratch on my case would mean using Cons famous x hence y non sequitur fallacies, which he has been using everywhere in this debate. I have addressed this faulty reasoning twice already. We have already concluded that
a) Any bias that Tacitus had was overruled by his presentations of facts that contradicted his views.
b) No bias was present in the passage that we are concerned about.
I would also request that Con cease putting all his effort into trying to establish that Tacitus had a bias and instead try to prove that the Annals 15:44 passage does not prove Jesus lived. So far he has failed to do thus, and since it’s the last round, I guess it’s too late.

My opponent brings up again his previously destroyed argument that Tacitus' sources were unreliable. I guess Con has forgotten why he dropped it in the first place. To begin with, I would like to point out my opponent’s faulty reasoning. Again. His source was most likely Christians... compare this premise with his conclusion: this evidence itself has no solid basing. One cannot assert that if x might be true, then y must be true. This entire argument is invalid. Moreover, assuming Con presented this argument properly, then it would still be false due to:
a) The blatantly negative tone he uses to insult Christians means he wasn't being informed by them.
b) It is more likely that he got his information from Piny the Younger, another source of evidence for Christ; however, in Annals 15.53, we again see evidence of his integrity when he heavily disputed it and considered it absurd.
c) If he got it from Christians, then due to his dislike of them, he should have put his usual disclaimer on it. None is present.

So from all that we have argued over in this entire debate, we can now establish that Tacitus:
1) Was among the most honest historians ever to live.
2) Was one of the most reliable historians ever to live.
3) Presented evidence for Jesus that was not refuted by Con.
It’s sad to see that points 1 and 2 were heavily yet unsuccessfully attacked by Con, and point 3, the most important one, was ignored. Tacitus alone affirms the resolution completely.


The Talmud
Con's case against the Talmud is self-defeating. He asserts that since it gets facts wrong, its unreliable. Yet the only reason we know some things are wrong in it is because we compare it with other sources, when the sources agree, we know it is reliable, when they disagree, one of them is wrong. However, when it comes to Jesus, the Talmud says the same thing as everything else: He existed. The Talmud presents the Jewish leader's interpretation of events, in this case they deny Jesus performed miracles and was resurrected. However, one blatantly obvious fact that I asked Con still remains unanswered: Why didn't these people just claim that Jesus never existed in the first place? Instead of going through all the effort to concede his existence but make him look very bad in history.


Josephus
Con's attack on Josephus' passage is that neither passage proves Jesus. Very interesting rebuttal. Let’s have a look at Josephus' antiquities:
Antiquities 20:9:1 "...brought before them the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James." [2,3,4,5]
My opponent claims Josephus made a grammatical error in which he states that Jesus was so-called Christ, instead of this so-called Jesus. If Josephus wasn't certain of Jesus' historicity, he would have not used the phrases: αδελφός του Ιησού, που ονομάστηκε Χριστός,του οποίου το όνομα... but instead phrased it as either:

ο αδελφός του λεγόμενου Ιησού
ο αδελφός του λεγόμενου Χριστού

Antiquities 18:3:3: "Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man." [6,7,8,9]
This passage clearly states Jesus' existence. Since my opponent has not come up with an effective rebuttal yet, this entire passage remain unrefuted. And since this is the last round, the resolution is yet again affirmed.


Lucian
What Con was trying to say is that Lucian didn't write facts into his writings because: "being factual would make it dull." He didn't provide any sources to back his claim. This attempt by Con was quite honestly rubbish. As I stated before, despite what Con thinks would make a good writer, Lucian still made sure his facts were correct. His satire was still there, but all the events he talked about where correct. We can see what a fanatic he was about accuracy in a letter-formatted treatise entitled "The Way to Write History," addressed to Lucian's friend, Philo. I quote from his work:

History...abhors the intrusion of any least scruple of falsehood; it is like the windpipe, which the doctors tell us will not tolerate a morsel of stray food.

The historian's one task is to tell the thing as it happened.

(The historian) must sacrifice to no God but Truth; he must neglect all else; his sole rule and unerring guide is this - to think not of those who are listening to him now, but of the yet unborn who shall seek his converse. [10]

No other historian has ever personified the truth as divine. And no other historian has been so vehement about accuracy. Since this point is unrefuted by Con in the last round, it too affirms the resolution.
I had prepared some stronger defences for Lucian in case my opponent was using a valid rebuttal, but I'll have to see them go to waste due to Con's apparent lack of effort. >:(


Scientific history:
Con's case against Jesus' historicity is rather peculiar, let it be noted that he doesn't introduce any historical argument against him because every historical record we have claims him to have existed. So instead he argues that we cannot trust our sources. If that’s the case, written history began only a few hundred years ago.

I would like to point out that by attacking events that supposedly happened during Christ's time attacks his divinity and the gospel accounts, but not his existence.

In fact, Con's case in its entirety it’s an attack on the events that happened during Christ's time but not his existence. His attack on sources for Christ has already come to a withering death with his failure to refute my 4 secular sources of evidence for Jesus.

Con's case is largely irrelevant to this debate.


My case:

Tacitus provides a report that Jesus existed. My opponent failed to assert why it isn't the case; prefering to attack his person rather than what he said.
The Talmud contains errors, but Con failed to demonstrate that the references to Jesus where errors. He merely attacked the Talmud as a whole
Josephus provided two passages to this debate which were simply dismissed by con as not constituting as evidence, a claim which was thoroughly dismembered.
Lucian remains the least touched by Con; he not only failed to assert that his passage was not evidence for Jesus, but also failed to attack him as a valid historical source.

Concluding
Thanks Con for the debate, it was a good challenge in the first few Rounds.
The motion: Jesus probably existed has been easily affirmed due to my superior arguments and Con's failure to refute them.



I have posted my sources in the comments as per rule 4, there are 51 sources in all.

Stephen_Hawkins

Con

Tacitus

This sums up my opponent's case: "The bias which he presents could his judgement on many issues.Adding correct grammar, we get this:The bias which he presents could impair his judgement on many issues." Taking into consideration context - where I used the same sentence previously - it better makes sense, and means, "the bias which Tacitus presents clouds his judgement". My opponent takes extremely minor points and extrapolates them to absurd conclusions.

If Tacitus is an unreliable historian, his history is unreliable. This is not a non-sequitur, but common practice in history: we do not trust unreliable history. If a historian makes things up on the spot, or misrepresents evidence (as my opponent kindly points out Tacitus does: "his presentations of facts ... contradicted his views"), then we do not trust them on their own as a scholar: we cross-reference it with their contemporaries, like Pliny or Seutonius or similar.

Moreover, my opponent again claims that my point on Christians is a non-sequitur. To make it clear:

P1 - The source of Tacitus is more likely than not ineducated Christians.
P2 - If the source wasineducated Christians, who heard the stories from others, they are near-certainly unreliable.
C1 - The source of Tacitus is more likely than not unreliable (and thus weak evidence, if not inconclusive and trivial at that)

Also, my opponent brings up the new argument for Pliny the Younger: I won't address this for two reasons: one, it is a new argument in the conclusion, which is terrible conduct, and two is unsubstantiated: historians don't believe this, only Sam Harris, who is ineducated on the field. Moreover, this would be evidence that the evidence is unreliable: it pushes the goalposts back, and makes it more susceptible to my criticism of endless secondary sources leading to unreliability. The "usual disclaimer" is similarly a new argument and unsubstantiated.

Moreover, the claim that Tacitus was "one of the most reliable historians ever to live" is laughable: his lack of sourcing, except to general populace (which my opponent dropped the evidence, such as how Tacitus sources material), or how he sources tangental points like this to historians for one-upmanship (which my opponent dropped) is clear evidence against this.

So, the evidence says Tacitus is unreliable on his own as a source, moreover his source is very flimsy. Tacitus, then, is a poor source.

The Talmud

This is just a case of assuming the conclusion: "when it comes to Jesus, the Talmud says the same thing as everything else: He existed". If we're assuming that Jesus existed, then the debate is inexistent! Clearly, I deny other reliable sources claim Jesus existed. So this "evidence" is non-existent. Moreover, my opponent ignored my response to why the Talmud said Jesus existed: because it is easier to mock a man than not. If I were to write a book mocking Islam, one mocks Mohammad. So mohammad needs to show up in the book otherwise it would be silly. Or one could, as has been done, do it in a video. The video itself does not prove anything, as it's aim is to mock. Similarly, the Talmud's aim is but to mock Christ in this section. Moreover, my opponent completely neglects my major criticism: the Tamlud says Jesus:

1) Did not remotely worship anything to do with Abrahamic Gods, but instead Pagan Gods and animals.
2) Had five, not twelve, followers.
3) Was a terrible preacher
4) Committed no miracles

This is not Jesus at all. No Christian would say this is the same person. Even if the Talmud accurately says that a guy namd Jesus (again, a popular name) existed, this is not the same person.

Also, my opponent ignores my other criticism, which clearly disestablishes this argument, he has done this repeatedly: The Talmud was written in around the 5th century AD, and the other books cited around the 13th. This is such late evidence that it is no evidence at all.

Josephus

My opponent should be lauded for his knowledge of Greek! However, his Greek needs some polishing.

λεγόμενου is the correct Greek for "so-called", while the underlined means "named Christ", or "called Christ". Poor Greem does not make the argument sound.

Moreover, my opponent seems to completely ignore my major response and claim I did not make it: that Josephus in actual fact just said what Christians thought, and did not affirm any existence of Jesus as real or similar. What my opponent has done is throw out bits of the quotation after agreeing it is an interpolation, but won't concede the point, even after admitting it is an interpolation, to save just enough of it to make it an argument. There is no justification for the smaller quote. Moreover, the quotation itself does not affirm Christ's existence, only the ideas of peple at the time.

Lucian

Was Passing of Perigruis satirical was the entire debate here. I didn't think one needed to provide source, since among ancient history it is so well known it is like debating whether The Republiccontains philosophy, or if Aenid was fictional. However, to indulge my opponent, I shall take some quotes from a series of non-partisan sources onPassing:

"The Passing of Peregrinusis a satire by Greek writer Lucian"[1]
"In hissatire,The Death of Peregrinus, Lucian portrays..."[2]
"Lucian, a Greeksatirist, wrote a fiction,The Death of Peregrinus"[3]
"The Passing of Peregrinus. Asatire"[4]
"The Passing of PeregrinusAsatire"[5]
"Lucian also wrote a satire called The Passing of Peregrinus"[6]

My opponents argument rests on Lucian's document not being a fictional satire. There is no claims in any of the articles that Lucian was factual (the pro-Christian article number 3 says explicitly that it was fictional), and assuming factuality of a satire is like assuming magic is real from reading Harry Potter, or that there is a wild Onix outside my house after watching pok"mon. There is nothing to say he thinks highly of writing history correctly: however, he was not writing history. He was writing parody: fiction.

Scientific Historical Argument

My opponent managed to completely miss the point of the argument. My point was made very clear:"either a primary source needs to be given, or reason why secondary sources are as valuable", otherwise my opponent does not affirm his burden of proof. He manages not to do so. Moreover, "secondary sources...are of little importance" was stated explicitly. All of my opponent's arguments are secondary sources, and thus are of little importance. As the burden of proof is on my opponent, the complete lack of refutation of this point must mean it is considered fact. As such, all of the secondary sources of my opponent must be considered of little gravity. Thus, my opponent's evidence is simply not. As I stated clearly, secondary sources are not good sources of evidence. As this is what my opponent relies on, his argument cannot be considered convincing.

Moreover, the claim that I am saying "history began only a few hundred years ago" is blatantly false. Primary sources exist for any historically reliable event: all of Caesar's life can be reduced to primary sources from his works, people who met and talked and saw the events, the busts, the pictures, the sculptures, thre are masses of sources we can use. Secondary sources, though, are weak. Either they take the primary source and mix it with their interpretation and bias, making it less reliable, or they use a sceondary source, making it less reliable still. Primary sources are best.

Further, the rebuttal to lack of evidence for the many miracles and events of Jesus' life is telling. If I said Hitler existed, but he was a French aristocrat living in the 17th century colony of St. Kitts in the Americas, you'd say "that's not Hitler". The same stands here. If I said Jesus existed, but he was an ordinary bloke who couldn't preach to save his life and was brought up by his two parents, you'd say rightly so that this is not Jesus. So why make a U-turn on this issue?

To conclude, there is no real evidence for Christ, every reason to believe in his inexistence, and as such I urge a vote CON.
Debate Round No. 5
28 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Smithereens 3 years ago
Smithereens
very nice S_H, I assume size relates to frequency, and the fact that Tacitus may be bigger than even Jesus is certainly something >.<
Posted by Smithereens 4 years ago
Smithereens
@magic
Your RDF wasn't very good. Mind elaborating?
Posted by Magic8000 4 years ago
Magic8000
Sure Smithereens. Sometime in the future, as I will be busy in the upcoming weeks.
Posted by Stephen_Hawkins 4 years ago
Stephen_Hawkins
Well, I think I have to take Carrier's position on this topic:

My aim is not to win. That's impossible, as I just noted above the dissenting position can never win a debate. My aim is only to communicate to the public why I don't find his arguments persuasive and why they shouldn't either. If the effect is to sow seeds of doubt among fence-sitters and believers, arm nonbelievers with better information, and dispel myths clung to by both sides, it will be worth my time regardless of any technical score.

I think if I can manage to sow seeds of doubt with people as strong as RoyLatham at debating and argumentation, I think I've done a relatively good job. At the least, this has got me slightly more awake again in this field of discussion. Though I dispute the idea that refutations take twice as long as arguments the majority of the time, there's a lot of truth in what Carrier says on debating, especially this issue.

Also, Jacob, I think that debate is appauling simply because evidence for Jesus Christ was supposed to include "Homer - The Iliad" which is just so laughable that if someone said that in any debate with myself as judging I'd just have shut down.
Posted by Jacob_Apologist 4 years ago
Jacob_Apologist
http://www.debate.org...
read this one, especially atheist kids
Posted by Smithereens 4 years ago
Smithereens
@magic, you wanna have a debate on this topic?
Posted by Magic8000 4 years ago
Magic8000
None of Smithereens' evidence is contemporary. So how can it be said that Jesus did exist according to these sources?
Posted by Smithereens 4 years ago
Smithereens
I wrote heaps about Tacitus cuz thats what Con attacked the most. Otherwise I would have put Lucian forward as my main card.
Posted by Stephen_Hawkins 4 years ago
Stephen_Hawkins
Tacitus used "some people" to make things as true*
5 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 5 records.
Vote Placed by Magic8000 4 years ago
Magic8000
SmithereensStephen_HawkinsTied
Agreed with before the debate:-Vote Checkmark-0 points
Agreed with after the debate:-Vote Checkmark-0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:-Vote Checkmark-3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: None pro's evidence was contemporary. Con could of responded to the Tacitus evidence a little better. Con cites the talmud as evidence, yet this is hardly evidence. The name Yeshu can be interpreted any way you want and , the Palestinian Talmud was written between the 3rd and 5th century. Not convincing evidence at all.
Vote Placed by RoyLatham 4 years ago
RoyLatham
SmithereensStephen_HawkinsTied
Agreed with before the debate:Vote Checkmark--0 points
Agreed with after the debate:Vote Checkmark--0 points
Who had better conduct:Vote Checkmark--1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:40 
Reasons for voting decision: Con made a good enough case to raise doubts of the existence of the historical Jesus, more doubt than I had previously entertained. Nonetheless, Pro made the case that existence was more probable. This is a technical debate, so citing expert opinion counts, and Con dismissed the experts Pro resented in R1 rather than countering with the conclusions of opposing experts. Pro's most compelling specific argument was that anti-Christians certified existence rather than attacking it. I think what would ake Con's case would be an explanation of the origins a Jesus myth, but there is none. If Jesus was defined not just as a person, but as a person who could perform miracles, then simply arguing the impossibility of miracles who be compelling to me. Con attempted to add a definition in R1, a clear violation of rule 3. It was pointless, because the issue of divinity was never raised in the debate. Both sides violated the site rules by extending the character limits with sources in comments.
Vote Placed by annanicole 4 years ago
annanicole
SmithereensStephen_HawkinsTied
Agreed with before the debate:Vote Checkmark--0 points
Agreed with after the debate:Vote Checkmark--0 points
Who had better conduct:-Vote Checkmark-1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:-Vote Checkmark-1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:32 
Reasons for voting decision: Conduct and grammar to Con since Pro decided to type in a microscopic font necessitating a magnifying glass. I can understand it for one round since mistakes happen, but dang, to continually utilize a font that one must strain to read. However, I Con's attacks upon the four or five major sources fell short of negating Pro's arguments. Very good debate, even if it strained my eyes.
Vote Placed by Muted 4 years ago
Muted
SmithereensStephen_HawkinsTied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:Vote Checkmark--1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:Vote Checkmark--1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:50 
Reasons for voting decision: This is one of the best debates I have ever come across in DDO. Well debated with good arguments from both sides. In Round 1, rule 3 and the round structure was broken. Pro overlooked it in order to have a good debate. That is why he gets the conduct. There is a plethora of spelling and grammatical mistakes on Con's sides which makes it slightly difficult to read. I will tie the sources, both seem to use approximately an equal number of them, and of the same quality. The arguments made by Pro were overall better than that made by Con. Con used the approach of discrediting the historian, which did not work in this case.
Vote Placed by philochristos 4 years ago
philochristos
SmithereensStephen_HawkinsTied
Agreed with before the debate:Vote Checkmark--0 points
Agreed with after the debate:Vote Checkmark--0 points
Who had better conduct:-Vote Checkmark-1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:Vote Checkmark--1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:41 
Reasons for voting decision: I'm blown away that this debate was held between two teenagers. I was nowhere near as smart or knowledgable as either one of them when I was a teenager, and it's questionable whether I'm as smart as either one of them now. Conduct to Con because Pro was occasionally snarky. S/G to Pro because of Con's numerous typos. Arguments to Pro because Con failed to completely discredit the sources Pro used. At best Con's case would leave us in a state of neutrality about the existence of Jesus when taking each source individually, but since there were multiple sources that all agreed, and Con admitted that secondary sources are valuable when multiply attested, Pro was successful in showing that Jesus' existence is more likely than not, i.e. Jesus probably existed.