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SNP1
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The Contender
That1User
Con (against)
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21 Points

There was a pre-Christian belief in a Jesus

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That1User
Voting Style: Open with Elo Restrictions Point System: Select Winner
Started: 12/16/2014 Category: Religion
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 5,721 times Debate No: 67150
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (93)
Votes (4)

 

SNP1

Pro

Was there a belief in a Jesus before the time that Christianity is thought to have started (early-mid first century)?

The BoP will be on me.

First round is acceptance.

Minimum ELO for voters is 2000.
That1User

Con

I accept this debate. I want to thank SNP1 for giving me the oppurtunity to not only debate this interesting topic, but also for giving me the oppurtunity to debate someone so high of caliber. I await my opponent's arguments.
Debate Round No. 1
SNP1

Pro

Jews were looking for a Messiah

Now, the religion of Judaism holds a belief that there would be a messiah coming. The question is if there were any Jewish sects that held a belief of a messiah that was similar to Jesus before Jesus’ ministry.

First, we will look at the Philo of Alexandria.
I will quote Richard Carrier on this subject from his book “Not the Impossible Faith” page 250-251.

“Nor was the idea of a preexistent spiritual son of God a novel idea among the Jews anyway. Paul’s contemporary, Philo, interprets the messianic prophecy of Zechariah 6:11-12 in just such a way. In the Septuagint this says to place the crown of kingship upon “Jesus,” for “So says Jehovah the Ruler of All, ‘Behold the man named ‘Rises’, and he shall rise up from his place below and he shall build the House of the Lord’.” This pretty much is the Christian Gospel. Philo was a Platonic thinker, so he could not imagine this as referring to “a man who is compounded of body and soul,” but thought it meant an “incorporeal being who in no respect differs from the divine image” whom “the Father of the Universe has caused to spring up as the eldest son.” Then Philo says, “In another passage, he calls this son the firstborn,” and says “he who is thus born” imitates “the ways of his father.””

So, we have 4 similarities of a pre-Christian view of a messiah and Jesus.

1) Firstborn son of god (coincides with Romans 8:29)
2) Celestial image of god (coincides with 2 Corinthians 4:4)
3) God’s agent of creation (coincides with 1 Corinthians 8:6)
4) God’s celestial high priest (coincides with Hebrews 2:17)

My next piece of evidence will be from the Talmud.

While it is agreed upon by scholars, like Bart Ehrman (Jesus: Apocalyptic Prophet of the New Millennium by Bart Ehrman) and Mark Powell (Jesus as a Figure in History: How Modern Historians View the Man from Galilee by Mark Allan Powell), that the Talmud is not reliable enough to establish evidence of a historical Jesus, some things written in there make more sense if there were some beliefs that coincided with what was written.

In the Talmud, there exists some writing of Jesus preaching in the early half of the 1st century BCE:
“The Rabbis have taught: The left should always be repelled, and the right, on the other hand, drawn nearer. But one should not do it . . .[2] as R. Joshua ben Perachiah, who thrust forth Jeschu with both hands. What was the matter with regard to E. Joshua ben Perachiah? When King Jannai directed the destruction of the Rabbis, R. Joshua ben Perachiah and Jeschu went to Alexandria. When security returned, Rabbi Simeon ben Shetach sent him a letter to this effect: 'From me, Jerusalem the holy city, to thee, Alexandria in Egypt, my sister. My spouse tarries in thee, and I dwell desolate.' Thereupon Joshua arose and came; and a certain inn was in the way, in which they treated him with great respect. Then spake Joshua : 'How fair is this inn (akhsanga)!' Jeschu saith to him: 'But, Rabbi, she (akhsanga = a hostess) has little narrow eyes." Joshua replied: 'Thou godless fellow, dost thou occupy thyself with such things?' directed that 400 horns should be brought, and put him under strict excommunication. Jeschu ofttimes came and said to him,' Take me back.' Joshua did not trouble himself about him. One day, just, as Joshua was reading [? reciting] the Shema,[3] Jeschu came to him, hoping that he would take him back. Joshua made a sign to him with his hand. Then Jeschu thought that he had altogether repulsed him, and went away, and set up a brickbat and worshipped it. Joshua said to him: 'Be converted!' Jeschu saith : 'Thus have I been taught by thee: From him that sinneth and maketh the people to sin, is taken away the possibility of repentance.' And the Teacher [i.e., he who is everywhere mentioned by this title in the Talmud] has said: 'Jeschu had practised sorcery and had corrupted and misled Israel.'”

http://gnosis.org...

If the passages are reactions to Christian proselytism, then we would not expect a story about Jesus that is this different than the common stories at the time.
That means that this passage means one of three things:
1) There existed Christians that started believing that Jesus lived during the early half of the 1st century BCE, and this was a recorded version of what those Christians believed.
2) The story of Jesus, or similar enough stories, were around since the early half of the first century BCE, and this is a story of Jesus during those times (not meant to be taken as literal history).
3) Jesus was a historical figure that preached during the early half of the 1st century BCE.

The third option is very unlikely as there is more evidence that exists for a Jesus during the early 1st century CE than BCE. That leaves us with options 1 and 2.

Now, if Jesus did exist, then we would expect for the stories of him to be decently consistent as they spread. We would not expect for people to hold the belief of a historical Jesus from earlier then when Jesus taught unless there existed a pre-Christian belief in a Jesus. This makes number 1 unlikely.

This means that the most likely of the three is 2, where there existed pre-Christian beliefs in a Jesus.

In conclusion:
1) The Jews were already looking for a messiah before the start and rise of Christianity
2) The Philo of Alexandria establishes the view of a pre-Christian Messiah that shares the same qualities that are attributed to Jesus, and possibly even named Jesus (as the Philo of Alexandria has many similarities with Zechariah, which talks about Joshua (which is what Jesus’ name actually would have been in Hebrew)
3) The Talmud helps establish that there was a pre-Christian belief in a Jesus from the early 1st century BCE

Reposting the sources:
1) Richard Carrier “Not the Impossible Faith” page 250-251
2) Bart Ehrman “Jesus: Apocalyptic Prophet of the New Millennium”
3) Mark Allan Powell “Jesus as a Figure in History: How Modern Historians View the Man from Galilee”
4) http://gnosis.org...
AKA: G. R. S. Mead “Did Jesus Live 100 B.C.?”
That1User

Con

Pro's resolution: There was a pre-Christian belief in a Jesus.
Con's resolution: There was not a pre-Christian belief in a Jesus.

In order to support his/her resolution that there was a pre-Christian belief in a Jesus, pro states that Jews were looking for a Messiah, and used Philo of Alexandria and the Talmud as evidence for the resolution that there was a pre-Christian belief in a Jesus. Pro then concluded that:

1) The Jews were already looking for a messiah before the start and rise of Christianity
2) The Philo of Alexandria establishes the view of a pre-Christian Messiah that shares the same qualities that are attributed to Jesus, and possibly even named Jesus (as the Philo of Alexandria has many similarities with Zechariah, which talks about Joshua (which is what Jesus" name actually would have been in Hebrew)
3) The Talmud helps establish that there was a pre-Christian belief in a Jesus from the early 1st century BCE

I shall now provide a rebuttal for each statement of the conclusion:
1) The Jews were already looking for a messiah before the start and rise of Christianity

The word Jesus comes from Joshua, which is Hebrew for "YAHWEH is salvation." In the context of the resolution, "a Jesus" means someone who is like Jesus Christ. The word Christ means "the anointed one" which is Greek for Messiah. In Hebrew, the word Messiah means, "mashiach" which literally means "the anointed one" '[1]

The Messiah is a key concept in Judaism, in fact, the Messiah is in Rabam's 13 Principles of faith for Judaism:
G-d exists
G-d is one and unique
G-d is incorporeal
G-d is eternal
Prayer is to be directed to G-d alone and to no other
The words of the prophets are true
Moses' prophecies are true, and Moses was the greatest of the prophets
The Written Torah (first 5 books of the Bible) and Oral Torah (teachings now contained in the Talmud and other writings) were given to Moses
There will be no other Torah
G-d knows the thoughts and deeds of men
G-d will reward the good and punish the wicked
The Messiah will come
The dead will be resurrected [2] [3]

In Judaism, it is believed that the Messiah will do several things. He will:
1)Be a descendant of King David.
2)Gain sovereignty over the land of Israel,
3)Gather the Jews there from the four corners of the earth,
4)Restore them to full observance of Torah law,
5) Bring peace to the whole world. [4] [5]

In Christianity, it is believed that Jesus is the Messiah. He fulfilled these prophecies:

44 Prophecies Jesus Christ Fulfilled
Prophecies About JesusOld Testament
ScriptureNew Testament
Fulfillment
1Messiah would be born of a woman.Genesis 3:15Matthew 1:20
Galatians 4:4
2Messiah would be born in Bethlehem.Micah 5:2Matthew 2:1
Luke 2:4-6
3Messiah would be born of a virgin.Isaiah 7:14Matthew 1:22-23
Luke 1:26-31
4Messiah would come from the line of Abraham.Genesis 12:3
Genesis 22:18Matthew 1:1
Romans 9:5
5Messiah would be a descendant of Isaac.Genesis 17:19
Genesis 21:12Luke 3:34
6Messiah would be a descendant of Jacob.Numbers 24:17Matthew 1:2
7Messiah would come from the tribe of Judah.Genesis 49:10Luke 3:33
Hebrews 7:14
8Messiah would be heir to King David's throne.2 Samuel 7:12-13
Isaiah 9:7Luke 1:32-33
Romans 1:3
9Messiah's throne will be anointed and eternal.Psalm 45:6-7
Daniel 2:44Luke 1:33
Hebrews 1:8-12
10Messiah would be called Immanuel.Isaiah 7:14Matthew 1:23
11Messiah would spend a season in Egypt.Hosea 11:1Matthew 2:14-15
12A massacre of children would happen at Messiah's birthplace.Jeremiah 31:15Matthew 2:16-18
13A messenger would prepare the way for MessiahIsaiah 40:3-5Luke 3:3-6
14Messiah would be rejected by his own people.Psalm 69:8
Isaiah 53:3John 1:11
John 7:5
15Messiah would be a prophet.Deuteronomy 18:15Acts 3:20-22
16Messiah would be preceded by Elijah.Malachi 4:5-6Matthew 11:13-14
17Messiah would be declared the Son of God.Psalm 2:7Matthew 3:16-17
18Messiah would be called a Nazarene.Isaiah 11:1Matthew 2:23
19Messiah would bring light to Galilee.Isaiah 9:1-2Matthew 4:13-16
20Messiah would speak in parables.Psalm 78:2-4
Isaiah 6:9-10Matthew 13:10-15, 34-35
21Messiah would be sent to heal the broken hearted.Isaiah 61:1-2Luke 4:18-19
22Messiah would be a priest after the order of Melchizedek.Psalm 110:4Hebrews 5:5-6
23Messiah would be called King.Psalm 2:6
Zechariah 9:9Matthew 27:37
Mark 11:7-11
24Messiah would be praised by little children.Psalm 8:2Matthew 21:16
25Messiah would be betrayed.Psalm 41:9
Zechariah 11:12-13Luke 22:47-48
Matthew 26:14-16
26Messiah's price money would be used to buy a potter's field.Zechariah 11:12-13Matthew 27:9-10
27Messiah would be falsely accused.Psalm 35:11Mark 14:57-58
28Messiah would be silent before his accusers.Isaiah 53:7Mark 15:4-5
29Messiah would be spat upon and struck.Isaiah 50:6Matthew 26:67
30Messiah would be hated without cause.Psalm 35:19
Psalm 69:4John 15:24-25
31Messiah would be crucified with criminals.Isaiah 53:12Matthew 27:38
Mark 15:27-28
32Messiah would be given vinegar to drink.Psalm 69:21Matthew 27:34
John 19:28-30
33Messiah's hands and feet would be pierced.Psalm 22:16
Zechariah 12:10John 20:25-27
34Messiah would be mocked and ridiculed.Psalm 22:7-8Luke 23:35
35Soldiers would gamble for Messiah's garments.Psalm 22:18Luke 23:34
Matthew 27:35-36
36Messiah's bones would not be broken.Exodus 12:46
Psalm 34:20John 19:33-36
37Messiah would be forsaken by God.Psalm 22:1Matthew 27:46
38Messiah would pray for his enemies.Psalm 109:4Luke 23:34
39Soldiers would pierce Messiah's side.Zechariah 12:10John 19:34
40Messiah would be buried with the rich.Isaiah 53:9Matthew 27:57-60
41Messiah would resurrect from the dead.Psalm 16:10
Psalm 49:15Matthew 28:2-7
Acts 2:22-32
42Messiah would ascend to heaven.Psalm 24:7-10Mark 16:19
Luke 24:51
43Messiah would be seated at God's right hand.Psalm 68:18
Psalm 110:1Mark 16:19
Matthew 22:44
44Messiah would be a sacrifice for sin.Isaiah 53:5-12Romans 5:6-8 [6]

While Jesus did fulfill many of the Old Testament prophecies, Jews rejected Jesus as the Messiah because he did not fulfill all of the Messianic prophecies. The main prophecy Jesus failed to fufill was bringing peace to the world. (Isaiah 2:4) The distinction between the Messiah and Jesus is important because it was important for Jesus to fulfill being the Messiah, not the Messiah fulfill being like Jesus. Before Jesus Christ, people did not have a notion of Jesus Christ, but they did have a notion of the Messiah. Thus there was a pre-Christian belief in a Messiah, but not a pre-Christian belief in a Jesus. [7][8]

2) The Philo of Alexandria establishes the view of a pre-Christian Messiah that shares the same qualities that are attributed to Jesus, and possibly even named Jesus (as the Philo of Alexandria has many similarities with Zechariah, which talks about Joshua (which is what Jesus" name actually would have been in Hebrew)

The Joshua that Zechariah was referring to was Joshua (Jeshua) the High Priest, who was the first person chosen to be the High Priest of the Second Temple. (Ezra 2:2, 3:2-9, 4:3, 5:2, Neh 7:7, Hag 1:1, 2:2, 4,12, Zech 3:1, 8, 6:11) While Joshua the High Priest had a similar name to Jesus and were both Jewish leaders, Joshua and Jesus did not have much else in common.

3) The Talmud helps establish that there was a pre-Christian belief in a Jesus from the early 1st century BCE
Jews believe that Jesus is not the Messiah
Christians believe that Jesus is the Messiah
The key disagreement between religious Jews and Christians is whether Jesus is the Messiah, and more specifically, whether he fulfilled the requirements to become the Messiah.
Before Jesus, there was no belief in Jesus, but there was a belief in the Messiah.
Therefore there was not a pre-Christian belief in a Jesus, instead there was a pre-Christian belief in a Messiah.

Sources:
[1] http://www.jewfaq.org... (The Messianic Idea in Judaism)
[2] http://www.jewfaq.org...
[3] http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org...
[4]http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org...
[5]http://www.jewfaq.org... (Olam Ha-Ba: The Messianic Age)
[6]http://christianity.about.com...
[7]http://www.jewfaq.org... (What About Jesus?)
[8]http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org... (Paragraph 5)
Debate Round No. 2
SNP1

Pro


Jews looking for a Messiah



While Con is correct in saying that many Jews did not believe the Messiah would be anything like Jesus, it is not correct to say that no Jew did.



As Richard Carrier points out in his book “On the Historicity of Jesus”, the Jews were not unified in one belief of what the Messiah would do, what acts he would perform, etc. There were many sects. As long as there existed a single sect that had a belief of a Messiah like Jesus, then my opponents points are flawed.



The reasons to believe that there might be Jews that were looking for a Jesus like Messiah are the following:


1) The Philo of Alexandria


2) The Talmud


3) Christians



Points 1 and 2 are currently being debated as well, so I will expand on point 3 here.



Many early Christians were once Jews that converted to Christianity. If Jesus, or at least the stories about him, did not fit the belief of a Messiah to at least one sect of Jews, we would not expect so many Jews to have converted. Since a lot of Jews, not all, converted, we can safely assume that there were some sects of Judaism that Jesus would fit in as the Messiah.



The Philo of Alexandria



I am sorry if the points I originally made were not clear enough. The similarities with Zechariah help us see a possible hidden meaning that could be interpreted. I will, once again, be using Richard Carrier’s “Not the Impossible Faith” for this section.



I will quote the Philo passage here:


““Behold, a man whose name is the East!” A very novel appellation indeed, if you consider it as spoken of a man who is compounded of body and soul; but if you look upon it as applied to that incorporeal being who in no respect differs from the divine image, you will then agree that the name of the east has been given to him with great felicity. For the Father of the universe has caused him to spring up as the eldest son, whom, in another passage, he calls the firstborn; and he who is thus born, imitating the ways of his father, has formed such and such species, looking to his archetypal patterns.”



While it does not mention Jesus, we can look at Zechariah for similarities.



“The word of the Lord came to me: “Take an offering from the exiles, from Heldai, Tobijah, and Jedaiah, who have arrived from Babylon, and go that same day to the house of Josiah son of Zephaniah. Take silver and gold, make crowns and place them on the head of Joshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest. You are to tell him: This is what the Lord of Hosts says: Here is a man whose name is Branch; He will branch out from His place and build the Lord’s temple. Yes, He will build the Lord’s temple; He will be clothed in splendor and will sit on His throne and rule. There will also be a priest on His throne, and there will be peaceful counsel between the two of them. The crown will reside in the Lord’s temple as a memorial to Heldai, Tobijah, Jedaiah, and Hen son of Zephaniah. People who are far off will come and build the Lord’s temple, and you will know that the Lord of Hosts has sent Me to you. This will happen when you fully obey the Lord your God.””



While the similarities are not obvious to us (as these are both passages in English), the word used for “Branch” in Zechariah is the same word used for “East” in the Philo of Alexandria, and can also be translated to mean “Rises”.



While Zechariah was referring to a man (if he even existed) Jesus ben Jehozadak, high priest of the second temple, when translated it says “Jesus son of Jehovah the Righteous”.



This means that someone reading this like a pesher (which many Jews did with the scriptures) that they could easily take this as a passage with a hidden meaning, which Philo did in his writing (and possibly, even probably, others before him).



As Philo was writing this in Alexandria, Egypt between 20-40 CE, it is highly unlikely that any word of a man named Jesus preaching in Palestine would have reached him, and we can then assume that what he was writing was based off of already established beliefs from some Jewish sects.



The Talmud



Con has not done much, if anything, to refute the points I made regarding the Talmud. Just plain assertions.



Sources:


1) Richard Carrier “On the Historicity”


2) Richard Carrier “Not the Impossible Faith”


That1User

Con

The Philo of Alexandria

In order to prove that there was a pre-Christian belief in a Jesus, my opponent gave a comparison between the texts of Philo of Alexandria and Zechariah.

Philo:
"Behold, a man whose name is the East!" A very novel appellation indeed, if you consider it as spoken of a man who is compounded of body and soul; but if you look upon it as applied to that incorporeal being who in no respect differs from the divine image, you will then agree that the name of the east has been given to him with great felicity. For the Father of the universe has caused him to spring up as the eldest son, whom, in another passage, he calls the firstborn; and he who is thus born, imitating the ways of his father, has formed such and such species, looking to his archetypal patterns."

Zechariah:
"The word of the Lord came to me: "Take an offering from the exiles, from Heldai, Tobijah, and Jedaiah, who have arrived from Babylon, and go that same day to the house of Josiah son of Zephaniah. Take silver and gold, make crowns and place them on the head of Joshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest. You are to tell him: This is what the Lord of Hosts says: Here is a man whose name is Branch; He will branch out from His place and build the Lord"s temple. Yes, He will build the Lord"s temple; He will be clothed in splendor and will sit on His throne and rule. There will also be a priest on His throne, and there will be peaceful counsel between the two of them. The crown will reside in the Lord"s temple as a memorial to Heldai, Tobijah, Jedaiah, and Hen son of Zephaniah. People who are far off will come and build the Lord"s temple, and you will know that the Lord of Hosts has sent Me to you. This will happen when you fully obey the Lord your God.""

Con has reasoned that because Zechariah was reffering to Jesus ben Jehozadak, high priest of the second temple name translated to "Jesus son of Jehovah the Rightheous, and Philo's text was similiar to Zechariah's text, it could be concluded that there a pre-Christian belief in a Jesus.

Rebuttal:
Jesus ben Jehozadak does not mean "Jesus son of Jehovah the Righteous", Jesus ben Jehozadak means "Jesus son of Jehozadak. Joshua: "YAHWEH is salvation" Jehozadak: "Yahweh is righteous" As you can see, these two names have roots in Yahweh, describing charectericstics of Yahweh. This does not mean that Jesus ben Jehozadak means "Jesus son of Jehovah the Righteous". Also, just because there were similiar in name, and Philo's texts and Zechariah's texts were similiar to the Gospel's does not mean that Joshuah the Second High Priest was a Jesus like in the New Testament.

Talmud:
In order to prove that there was a pre-Christian belief in a Jesus, pro states:

"The Rabbis have taught: The left should always be repelled, and the right, on the other hand, drawn nearer. But one should not do it . . .[2] as R. Joshua ben Perachiah, who thrust forth Jeschu with both hands. What was the matter with regard to E. Joshua ben Perachiah? When King Jannai directed the destruction of the Rabbis, R. Joshua ben Perachiah and Jeschu went to Alexandria. When security returned, Rabbi Simeon ben Shetach sent him a letter to this effect: 'From me, Jerusalem the holy city, to thee, Alexandria in Egypt, my sister. My spouse tarries in thee, and I dwell desolate.' Thereupon Joshua arose and came; and a certain inn was in the way, in which they treated him with great respect. Then spake Joshua : 'How fair is this inn (akhsanga)!' Jeschu saith to him: 'But, Rabbi, she (akhsanga = a hostess) has little narrow eyes." Joshua replied: 'Thou godless fellow, dost thou occupy thyself with such things?' directed that 400 horns should be brought, and put him under strict excommunication. Jeschu ofttimes came and said to him,' Take me back.' Joshua did not trouble himself about him. One day, just, as Joshua was reading [? reciting] the Shema,[3] Jeschu came to him, hoping that he would take him back. Joshua made a sign to him with his hand. Then Jeschu thought that he had altogether repulsed him, and went away, and set up a brickbat and worshipped it. Joshua said to him: 'Be converted!' Jeschu saith : 'Thus have I been taught by thee: From him that sinneth and maketh the people to sin, is taken away the possibility of repentance.' And the Teacher [i.e., he who is everywhere mentioned by this title in the Talmud] has said: 'Jeschu had practised sorcery and had corrupted and misled Israel.'"

Earlier pro had stated: While it is agreed upon by scholars, like Bart Ehrman (Jesus: Apocalyptic Prophet of the New Millennium by Bart Ehrman) and Mark Powell (Jesus as a Figure in History: How Modern Historians View the Man from Galilee by Mark Allan Powell), that the Talmud is not reliable enough to establish evidence of a historical Jesus, some things written in there make more sense if there were some beliefs that coincided with what was written.

Using this reasoning, the Talmud can be dismissed as not realible enough to establish evidence of a historical Jesus. Thus this fails to prove that there was a pre-Christian belief in a Jesus.

Pro also concludes:

If the passages are reactions to Christian proselytism, then we would not expect a story about Jesus that is this different than the common stories at the time.
That means that this passage means one of three things:
1) There existed Christians that started believing that Jesus lived during the early half of the 1st century BCE, and this was a recorded version of what those Christians believed.
2) The story of Jesus, or similar enough stories, were around since the early half of the first century BCE, and this is a story of Jesus during those times (not meant to be taken as literal history).
3) Jesus was a historical figure that preached during the early half of the 1st century BCE.

Pro ended up concluding that 2) was the most plausible. Even if two was correct, then this would fail to prove that there was a pre-Christian belief in a Jesus because stories of something similiar to Jesus does not mean that there was a pre-Christian belief in a Jesus.
Debate Round No. 3
SNP1

Pro

The Philo of Alexandria

My opponent rebuts by saying that Joshua ben Jehozadak means Joshua son of Jehozadak. This is not wrong. Professor Richard Carrier says that there are two main ways “Joshua ben Jehozadak” can be translated.
1) Joshua son of Jehozadak
2) Joshua son of Jehovah the Righteous
Different people could interpret it differently. Some might think that it is just Joshua who happens to be the son of someone named Jehozadak. Others could interpret it as Joshua who is son of the god Jehovah. A pesher, who is trying to find hidden prophecies and meanings in the books now known as the Old Testament, could easily interpret the second meaning.

His second point of rebuttal is that just because the Philo is similar to Zechariah, and that the Jesus that it portrayed is similar to the Jesus in the New Testament, that it does not mean the Joshua, high priest of the second temple is Jesus.
I agree, but that was not the point I was making. A pesher would look for hidden meanings, and someone with that name could easily interpret it in a way that the Messiah would be named Jesus.

The Philo of Alexandria does this. It helps us see that there was a pesher that interpreted Zechariah as some form of prophecy of the Messiah. Philo never says that Jesus, the Messiah, was a physical being, only that he was celestial. This means that the sect of Jews that held the belief that Philo wrote about did not think that Joshua, high priest of the second temple, was Jesus, the Messiah, only that the writings prophesized the Messiah.

The Talmud

My opponent states, “Using this reasoning the Talmud can be dismissed as not realible enough to establish evidence of a historical Jesus. Thus this fails to prove that there was a pre-Christian belief in a Jesus.”
This is false.
For an analogy, let’s say that I knew I would have a daughter named Racheal, but she is not born yet, and I write about her a bit. The writing cannot be said to be reliable enough to establish Racheal as a historical figure, but can establish a belief in Racheal (as I would believe she would be coming into my life).

While not a perfect analogy, it does help show us that just because something is not reliable enough to give evidence of a historical figure, it can still give evidence in a belief.

The writing in the Talmud makes the most sense if there was a belief in Jesus (even if there was not a historical Jesus) in the early half of the first century BCE.

The conclusion that was reached was, “The story of Jesus, or similar enough stories, were around since the early half of the first century BCE, and this is a story of Jesus during those times (not meant to be taken as literal history).”

My opponent says that it fails as it similar stories are not good enough as evidence.

If the Talmud was the only piece of evidence for a pre-Christian belief in a Jesus, then this would be a stronger argument, but the Philo helps back this point up.

Not only that, but if we take into account that many figures, that we know exist, have different (but similar) stories about their own life, we can see that variation in story is not uncommon.

I also may not have been clear enough on that point. When I was talking about “similar enough stories” I meant stories about Jesus that are similar to stories developed later (When Christianity started). Over time (and this would put it at least over 100 years), stories can change, especially if they are passed orally. This means we could expect story variation.

Conclusion

Pro dropped the argument that Jews were looking for a Messiah.

The Philo of Alexandria helps establish a pre-Christian belief in a Messiah figure named Jesus that shares qualities with the Christian Jesus.

The Talmud helps establish a pre-Christian belief in a figure named Jesus from the early half of the 1st century BCE.

This supports the Resolution that there was a pre-Christian belief in a Jesus.

I thank That1User for a good debate and a fun time. He did a good job with his rebuttals, though I think I have supported my position. I hope that we can have another debate together in the near future.

That1User

Con

In order to support the resolution that there was a pre-Christian belief in a Jesus, pro states:
The Philo of Alexandria helps establish a pre-Christian belief in a Messiah figure named Jesus that shares qualities with the Christian Jesus.

The Talmud helps establish a pre-Christian belief in a figure named Jesus from the early half of the 1st century BCE.

Rebuttals:

The Philo of Alexandria
"The Philo of Alexandria helps establish a pre-Christian belief in a Messiah figure named Jesus that shares qualities with the Christian Jesus."

To support this claim, my opponent has stated that Philo of Alexandria was a pesher, or someone who looked for hidden meanings. Because of this, pro concluded that Philo interpreted Zechariah in a way that the Messiah would be named Jesus.
While this seems like sufficient evidence for a pre-Christian belief in a Jesus, Philo being a pesher does not neccessarily mean that Philo interpreted Zechariah in a way that the Messiah would be named Jesus.

The Talmud
"The Talmud helps establish a pre-Christian belief in a figure named Jesus from the early half of the 1st century BCE."
While the Talmud does help establish this belief, it does not neccessarily prove that there was a pre-Christian belief in a Jesus, and is therefore not sufficient evidence that There was a pre-Christian belief in a Jesus.

Conclusion
In conclusion, the resolution that there was a pre-Christian belief in a Jesus is largerly dependent on Philo of Alexandria and the Talmud. Since both of them fail to prove that there was a pre-Christian belief in a Jesus, pro failed to uphold the burden of proof that there was a pre-Christian belief in a Jesus.

I thank SNP1 for a good debate and a fun time as well. He did a good job with his arguments of Philo and the Talmud, though I think I have successfully rebutted these arguments. I hope we can have another debate together in the near future too.
Debate Round No. 4
93 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by SNP1 2 years ago
SNP1
Well, congratulations That1User for being the first person that won their debate against me. It was a good debate.
Posted by That1User 2 years ago
That1User
Wow, I can't believe I won this debate, most of my rebuttals went down to the final few seconds before I posted them. Thank you for the great debate SNP1! I look foward to debating you again in the future.
Posted by SNP1 2 years ago
SNP1
So far, 3 good RFDs, one crap.
Posted by That1User 2 years ago
That1User
Thank you for the vote BOT, and the extremely detailed RFD.
Posted by SNP1 2 years ago
SNP1
I thank you for the vote BOT, and a very informative RFD
Posted by Blade-of-Truth 2 years ago
Blade-of-Truth
RFD - Since this is a select-winner voting option, I'll focus solely on arguments. Instead of weighing sources separately, I'll weigh them in accord to the arguments they are supporting.
R2-
Pro starts off by building a compelling case that arrives at 3 conclusions:
1) The Jews were already looking for a messiah before the start and rise of Christianity
2) The Philo of Alexandria establishes the view of a pre-Christian Messiah that shares the same qualities that are attributed to Jesus, and possibly even named Jesus.
3) The Talmud helps establish that there was a pre-Christian belief in a Jesus from the early 1st century BCE
Posted by Blade-of-Truth 2 years ago
Blade-of-Truth
Con returns with rebuttals for each argument raised by Pro:
1) Con shows that "before Jesus Christ, people did not have a notion of Jesus Christ, but they did have a notion of the Messiah. Thus there was a pre-Christian belief in a Messiah, but not a pre-Christian belief in a Jesus." This was backed by a very informative list of prophecies filled and those that weren't, which showed the importance of recognizing the conclusion given by Con. So far, this line of argumentation is in Con's favor due to him showing the difference between beliefs.
2) Con rebutted by showing that Joshua was not the same person as Jesus, which effectively summed up Pro's argument as a misunderstanding on his part.
3) Con relied on the same point made in his first rebuttal - "Before Jesus, there was no belief in Jesus, but there was a belief in the Messiah. Therefore there was not a pre-Christian belief in a Jesus; instead there was a pre-Christian belief in a Messiah." Uniquely though, it does counter Pro's 3rd conclusion just as well as it did his 1st conclusion.
Posted by Blade-of-Truth 2 years ago
Blade-of-Truth
R3 -
1) Pro returns with a claim that if even one tribe of Jews accepted Jesus as the messiah, then his case remains affirmed and I"m inclined to agree. However, Pro didn't present any evidence of any tribe doing so. If Con calls him on that, Pro will need to present evidence or else this line of argumentation rests in Con"s favor due to a lack of proof.
2) Pro acknowledged his confusion earlier, and then rebuilt his case around the claim that "we can then assume that what he was writing was based off of already established beliefs from some Jewish sects." The problem is found within Pro"s own words "we can assume" meaning that although he presents this argument to strengthen his position, it"s one based off of assumptions. If Con catches this, it might not be strong enough for Pro to stand on.
3) In the last argument, Pro states that Con"s recycled rebuttal is not enough to challenge his previous claims. Unfortunately, this doesn"t touch on what Con claimed, which was that there was only a pre-Christian belief in a messiah rather than Jesus. Pro needed to tackle that, which I suppose he did with his first rebuttal, but he never applied that first rebuttal, and instead just said Con hasn"t done enough.
Posted by Blade-of-Truth 2 years ago
Blade-of-Truth
Con returns with strong rebuttals once more:
1) Con was able to show that Pro incorrectly translated the names, which gave further weight to Con"s claim that similarities do not necessarily mean that they were talking about Jesus specifically. Pro needs to jump the gap from similarities to hard textual proof, if he can"t, this line of argumentation goes to Con due to a lack of proof from Pro showing a reasonable connection.
2) Con used Pro"s own argument against him, specifically, when Con utilized Pro"s point which said, "the Talmud is not reliable enough to establish evidence of a historical Jesus." While Pro did claim that some beliefs would need to be added to further validate the Talmud I"ve yet to see any beliefs given aside from Pro"s first line of argumentation in which he attempts to draw similarities as proofs (although even those are under fire at the moment and thus shaky).
3) Con closed his final argument by showing that even if Pro"s second conclusion was correct, it"s not enough to show that it was in regards to "a Jesus" as that differs from "similar to Jesus".
Posted by Blade-of-Truth 2 years ago
Blade-of-Truth
R4 "
1) Pro concedes that both translations are acceptable and used. I find this troubling as they clearly mean two different things. Relying on interpretations that have such a big range in meaning is very harmful for Pro as it shows that such things are not concrete in objective understanding and terminology. Pro also concedes that the similarities in text are not enough, but rather argues that the interpretation means it"s a possibility. I found this to be very weak proof on Pro"s part. Interpretation is subjective at best, and in a debate where someone if making a positive claim, hard proof is needed. Oddly, Pro somewhat defeats himself in the last sentence by claiming that the sect of Jews who valued that text only believed in a messiah, which goes completely against the position he"s trying to affirm which would require proof of that sect believing in a "Jesus" not a "messiah".
2) Pro claims that although the Talmud can"t be relied on for historical figures, it can be relied on for showing the belief in a Jesus in the first century. I am inclined to agree with him due to his reasoning, but the problem is that Con showed how the similarities aren"t enough to view the people as Jesus per say. This is the key problem. We have no evidence that those stories were about Jesus or someone similar or like Jesus. Pro needed to show the former, and instead was only able to show the latter. Pro finished by saying that variations in the stories are to be expected after a hundred years of oral tradition, but this is what harms him the most, the fact that those variations don"t speak on the Christian "Jesus" per say, but only someone similar in name and features.
4 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Vote Placed by Blade-of-Truth 2 years ago
Blade-of-Truth
SNP1That1User
Who won the debate:-Vote Checkmark
Reasons for voting decision: RFD in comments :)
Vote Placed by Envisage 2 years ago
Envisage
SNP1That1User
Who won the debate:--
Reasons for voting decision: I have read this debate and I am leaving it as a tie. Why? Because how I vote depends entirely on how I interpret the resolution. IF the resolution was interpreted that there was (generally) a pre-existing belief in Jesus, then Con wins from Round 2 from his Messianic arguments. IF the resolution was interpreted as there was 'a belief, any belief' in a Jesus, then Pro wins, for virtually the same reasons. Also 'Jesus' was left undefined in this debate, so I am left deciding what standard by which I should agree 'yes, there was a belief in Jesus'. Jesus can be defined as the triumphant Jesus, or a Celestial Jesus, or some mad preacher. I can see that both Pro and Con have different ideas about what Jesus is and no clash was made here on this "definition gap". Thus much of this debate was like two ships passing as night, and mostly the illusion of debate. Both sides did enough to win by their own standards as a result. Thus null vote.
Vote Placed by Sidewalker 2 years ago
Sidewalker
SNP1That1User
Who won the debate:-Vote Checkmark
Reasons for voting decision: Pro argued in a pre-Christian belief in a Messiah, not Jesus as Messiah, as Jesus did not have the qualities of the Messiah that was expected by pre-Christian Jews.
Vote Placed by Wylted 2 years ago
Wylted
SNP1That1User
Who won the debate:-Vote Checkmark
Reasons for voting decision: Con didn't need to do much this debate. Pro needed to show a pre-christian belief in Jesus which believe it or not is easy because Jesus existed before Christianity did. However pro relied on using coincidences to prove his case and those coincidences weren't even very strong. There was a prechristian belief in a messiah and there wasn't much to show that messiah was extremely similar to Jesus. In my opinion con hands down