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Jesus Mythicism

popculturepooka
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3/21/2012 7:40:18 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
Bart Ehrman has a new book out about mythicism here:

http://www.amazon.com...

And he has written an article here about the same topic:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com...

At 3/20/2012 Barth Ehrman wrote:

In a society in which people still claim the Holocaust did not happen, and in which there are resounding claims that the American president is, in fact, a Muslim born on foreign soil, is it any surprise to learn that the greatest figure in the history of Western civilization, the man on whom the most powerful and influential social, political, economic, cultural and religious institution in the world -- the Christian church -- was built, the man worshipped, literally, by billions of people today -- is it any surprise to hear that Jesus never even existed?

That is the claim made by a small but growing cadre of (published ) writers, bloggers and Internet junkies who call themselves mythicists. This unusually vociferous group of nay-sayers maintains that Jesus is a myth invented for nefarious (or altruistic) purposes by the early Christians who modeled their savior along the lines of pagan divine men who, it is alleged, were also born of a virgin on Dec. 25, who also did miracles, who also died as an atonement for sin and were then raised from the dead.

Few of these mythicists are actually scholars trained in ancient history, religion, biblical studies or any cognate field, let alone in the ancient languages generally thought to matter for those who want to say something with any degree of authority about a Jewish teacher who (allegedly) lived in first-century Palestine. There are a couple of exceptions: of the hundreds -- thousands? -- of mythicists, two (to my knowledge) actually have Ph.D. credentials in relevant fields of study. But even taking these into account, there is not a single mythicist who teaches New Testament or Early Christianity or even Classics at any accredited institution of higher learning in the Western world. And it is no wonder why. These views are so extreme and so unconvincing to 99.99 percent of the real experts that anyone holding them is as likely to get a teaching job in an established department of religion as a six-day creationist is likely to land on in a bona fide department of biology.

Why then is the mythicist movement growing, with advocates so confident of their views and vocal -- even articulate -- in their denunciation of the radical idea that Jesus actually existed? It is, in no small part, because these deniers of Jesus are at the same time denouncers of religion -- a breed of human now very much in vogue. And what better way to malign the religious views of the vast majority of religious persons in the western world, which remains, despite everything, overwhelmingly Christian, than to claim that the historical founder of their religion was in fact the figment of his followers' imagination?

The view, however, founders on its own premises. The reality -- sad or salutary -- is that Jesus was real. And that is the subject of my new book, "Did Jesus Exist?"

It is true that Jesus is not mentioned in any Roman sources of his day. That should hardly count against his existence, however, since these same sources mention scarcely anyone from his time and place. Not even the famous Jewish historian, Josephus, or even more notably, the most powerful and important figure of his day, Pontius Pilate.

It is also true that our best sources about Jesus, the early Gospels, are riddled with problems. These were written decades after Jesus' life by biased authors who are at odds with one another on details up and down the line. But historians can never dismiss sources simply because they are biased. You may not trust Rush Limbaugh's views of Sandra Fluke, but he certainly provides evidence that she exists.

The question is not whether sources are biased but whether biased sources can be used to yield historically reliable information, once their biased chaff is separated from the historical kernel. And historians have devised ways of doing just that.

With respect to Jesus, we have numerous, independent accounts of his life in the sources lying behind the Gospels (and the writings of Paul) -- sources that originated in Jesus' native tongue Aramaic and that can be dated to within just a year or two of his life (before the religion moved to convert pagans in droves). Historical sources like that are is pretty astounding for an ancient figure of any kind. Moreover, we have relatively extensive writings from one first-century author, Paul, who acquired his information within a couple of years of Jesus' life and who actually knew, first hand, Jesus' closest disciple Peter and his own brother James. If Jesus did not exist, you would think his brother would know it.

Moreover, the claim that Jesus was simply made up falters on every ground. The alleged parallels between Jesus and the "pagan" savior-gods in most instances reside in the modern imagination: We do not have accounts of others who were born to virgin mothers and who died as an atonement for sin and then were raised from the dead (despite what the sensationalists claim ad nauseum in their propagandized versions).

Moreover, aspects of the Jesus story simply would not have been invented by anyone wanting to make up a new Savior. The earliest followers of Jesus declared that he was a crucified messiah. But prior to Christianity, there were no Jews at all, of any kind whatsoever, who thought that there would be a future crucified messiah. The messiah was to be a figure of grandeur and power who overthrew the enemy. Anyone who wanted to make up a messiah would make him like that. Why did the Christians not do so? Because they believed specifically that Jesus was the Messiah. And they knew full well that he was crucified. The Christians did not invent Jesus. They invented the idea that the messiah had to be crucified.

One may well choose to resonate with the concerns of our modern and post-modern cultural despisers of established religion (or not). But surely the best way to promote any such agenda is not to deny what virtually every sane historian on the planet -- Christian, Jewish, Muslim, pagan, agnostic, atheist, what have you -- has come to conclude based on a range of compelling historical evidence.

Whether we like it or not, Jesus certainly existed.

Thoughts?
At 10/3/2016 11:49:13 PM, thett3 wrote:
BLACK LIVES MATTER!
Wnope
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3/21/2012 7:43:57 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
It's one thing to say "there is no historical basis for Jesus Christ, founder of Christianity."

It's another to say "there is a historical basis, but through manipulation of mythicism, that basis became a religion that grossly misrepresents the historical basis (ex. miracles)."

For instance, integration of concepts from other religions (resurrection, messianic, etc).
The_Fool_on_the_hill
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3/21/2012 7:45:23 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
There are Christains that still don't believe Hitler was Christian. Thats just as bad.
"The bud disappears when the blossom breaks through, and we might say that the former is refuted by the latter; in the same way when the fruit comes, the blossom may be explained to be a false form of the plant's existence, for the fruit appears as its true nature in place of the blossom. These stages are not merely differentiated; they supplant one another as being incompatible with one another." G. W. F. HEGEL
Paradox_7
Posts: 1,870
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3/21/2012 7:58:47 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 3/21/2012 7:45:23 PM, The_Fool_on_the_hill wrote:
There are Christains that still don't believe Hitler was Christian. Thats just as bad.


Didn't i provide you with several writings from hitler himself condemning christianity?

Also, did you not know, Mein Kampf, was written when he was in prison, and trying to win over the Chrisitian nations to his cause? it was a lie, and it was propaganda.

It succeeded, and he dropped the vail quickly.

Hitler's Secret Conversations(1941-1944)
published by Farrar, Straus and Young, Inc.

All of these are quotes from Adolf Hitler:

Night of 11th-12th July, 1941:

National Socialism and religion cannot exist together.... The heaviest blow that ever struck humanity was the coming of Christianity. Bolshevism is Christianity's illegitimate child. Both are inventions of the Jew. The deliberate lie in the matter of religion was introduced into the world by Christianity.... Let it not be said that Christianity brought man the life of the soul, for that evolution was in the natural order of things. (p 6 & 7)

10th October, 1941, midday:

Christianity is a rebellion against natural law, a protest against nature. Taken to its logical extreme, Christianity would mean the systematic cultivation of the human failure. (p 43)

14th October, 1941, midday:

The best thing is to let Christianity die a natural death.... When understanding of the universe has become widespread... Christian doctrine will be convicted of absurdity.... Christianity has reached the peak of absurdity.... And that's why someday its structure will collapse.... ...the only way to get rid of Christianity is to allow it to die little by little.... Christianity the liar.... We'll see to it that the Churches cannot spread abroad teachings in conflict with the interests of the State. (p 49-52)

19th October, 1941, night:

The reason why the ancient world was so pure, light and serene was that it knew nothing of the two great scourges: the pox and Christianity.

21st October, 1941, midday:

Originally, Christianity was merely an incarnation of Bolshevism, the destroyer.... The decisive falsification of Jesus' doctrine was the work of St.Paul. He gave himself to this work... for the purposes of personal exploitation.... Didn't the world see, carried on right into the Middle Ages, the same old system of martyrs, tortures, fagg*ts? Of old, it was in the name of Christianity. Today, it's in the name of Bolshevism. Yesterday the instigator was Saul: the instigator today, Mardochai. Saul was changed into St.Paul, and Mardochai into Karl Marx. By exterminating this pest, we shall do humanity a service of which our soldiers can have no idea. (p 63-65)

13th December, 1941, midnight:

Christianity is an invention of sick brains: one could imagine nothing more senseless, nor any more indecent way of turning the idea of the Godhead into a mockery.... .... When all is said, we have no reason to wish that the Italians and Spaniards should free themselves from the drug of Christianity. Let's be the only people who are immunised against the disease. (p 118 & 119)

14th December, 1941, midday:

Kerrl, with noblest of intentions, wanted to attempt a synthesis between National Socialism and Christianity. I don't believe the thing's possible, and I see the obstacle in Christianity itself.... Pure Christianity-- the Christianity of the catacombs-- is concerned with translating Christian doctrine into facts. It leads quite simply to the annihilation of mankind. It is merely whole-hearted Bolshevism, under a tinsel of metaphysics. (p 119 & 120)

9th April, 1942, dinner:

There is something very unhealthy about Christianity (p 339)

27th February, 1942, midday:

It would always be disagreeable for me to go down to posterity as a man who made concessions in this field. I realize that man, in his imperfection, can commit innumerable errors-- but to devote myself deliberately to errors, that is something I cannot do. I shall never come personally to terms with the Christian lie. Our epoch Uin the next 200 yearse will certainly see the end of the disease of Christianity.... My regret will have been that I couldn't... behold ." (p 278)
: At 10/23/2012 8:06:03 PM, tvellalott wrote:
: Don't be. The Catholic Church is ran by Darth Sidius for fvck sake. As far as I'm concerned, you're a bona fide member of the Sith.
popculturepooka
Posts: 7,924
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3/21/2012 7:59:40 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 3/21/2012 7:45:23 PM, The_Fool_on_the_hill wrote:
There are Christains that still don't believe Hitler was Christian. Thats just as bad.

What does that have to do with the topic?
At 10/3/2016 11:49:13 PM, thett3 wrote:
BLACK LIVES MATTER!
johnnyboy54
Posts: 6,362
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3/21/2012 8:23:31 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 3/21/2012 7:59:40 PM, popculturepooka wrote:
At 3/21/2012 7:45:23 PM, The_Fool_on_the_hill wrote:
There are Christains that still don't believe Hitler was Christian. Thats just as bad.

What does that have to do with the topic?

Nothing at all
I didn't order assholes with my whiskey.
unitedandy
Posts: 1,173
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3/21/2012 10:45:44 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
I've actually just ordered the book :)

As far as I know, mythicism is taken about as academically seriously as creationism, or holocaust denial. The only people I know in the field of history who deny the historical jesus are Robert Price and Richard Carrier (who studied ancient history). Everyone else, including even the jesus seminar, I think, believe jesus existed.

I've always just followed what seems like the scholarly consensus, but hopefully I'll get to read price and carrier when i've read ehrman and swinburne.
Lickdafoot
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3/21/2012 11:38:19 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
It's kind of childish to assert that jesus never existed. he was referenced in more than an average amount of religious & secularist records for a historical figure of his time.
WAKE UP AND READ THIS: http://www.debate.org...
Wnope
Posts: 6,924
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3/22/2012 2:05:03 AM
Posted: 4 years ago
I'd be interested to hear any historical evidence (not in the bible) that Jesus was anything more than someone who started a religion (i.e. not son of god, miracle-maker).

And before you say it, Tacitus, Pliny, and Josephus have nothing in the way of evidence that Jesus performed miracles. They only reference the existence of Christians who claimed jesus performed miracles or the existence of a man named jesus who Pontius Pilate had killed.

Would it be "mythicism" to say someone named Jesus existed but he was nothing more than a human with some good palor tricks, and the miracles bits were added ad hoc mostly by drawing from various surrounding religions.
KeytarHero
Posts: 612
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3/22/2012 10:41:21 AM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 3/21/2012 7:58:47 PM, Paradox_7 wrote:
At 3/21/2012 7:45:23 PM, The_Fool_on_the_hill wrote:
There are Christains that still don't believe Hitler was Christian. Thats just as bad.


Didn't i provide you with several writings from hitler himself condemning christianity?

Also, did you not know, Mein Kampf, was written when he was in prison, and trying to win over the Chrisitian nations to his cause? it was a lie, and it was propaganda.

It succeeded, and he dropped the vail quickly.


Hitler's Secret Conversations(1941-1944)
published by Farrar, Straus and Young, Inc.

All of these are quotes from Adolf Hitler:

Night of 11th-12th July, 1941:

National Socialism and religion cannot exist together.... The heaviest blow that ever struck humanity was the coming of Christianity. Bolshevism is Christianity's illegitimate child. Both are inventions of the Jew. The deliberate lie in the matter of religion was introduced into the world by Christianity.... Let it not be said that Christianity brought man the life of the soul, for that evolution was in the natural order of things. (p 6 & 7)

10th October, 1941, midday:

Christianity is a rebellion against natural law, a protest against nature. Taken to its logical extreme, Christianity would mean the systematic cultivation of the human failure. (p 43)

14th October, 1941, midday:

The best thing is to let Christianity die a natural death.... When understanding of the universe has become widespread... Christian doctrine will be convicted of absurdity.... Christianity has reached the peak of absurdity.... And that's why someday its structure will collapse.... ...the only way to get rid of Christianity is to allow it to die little by little.... Christianity the liar.... We'll see to it that the Churches cannot spread abroad teachings in conflict with the interests of the State. (p 49-52)

19th October, 1941, night:

The reason why the ancient world was so pure, light and serene was that it knew nothing of the two great scourges: the pox and Christianity.

21st October, 1941, midday:

Originally, Christianity was merely an incarnation of Bolshevism, the destroyer.... The decisive falsification of Jesus' doctrine was the work of St.Paul. He gave himself to this work... for the purposes of personal exploitation.... Didn't the world see, carried on right into the Middle Ages, the same old system of martyrs, tortures, fagg*ts? Of old, it was in the name of Christianity. Today, it's in the name of Bolshevism. Yesterday the instigator was Saul: the instigator today, Mardochai. Saul was changed into St.Paul, and Mardochai into Karl Marx. By exterminating this pest, we shall do humanity a service of which our soldiers can have no idea. (p 63-65)

13th December, 1941, midnight:

Christianity is an invention of sick brains: one could imagine nothing more senseless, nor any more indecent way of turning the idea of the Godhead into a mockery.... .... When all is said, we have no reason to wish that the Italians and Spaniards should free themselves from the drug of Christianity. Let's be the only people who are immunised against the disease. (p 118 & 119)

14th December, 1941, midday:

Kerrl, with noblest of intentions, wanted to attempt a synthesis between National Socialism and Christianity. I don't believe the thing's possible, and I see the obstacle in Christianity itself.... Pure Christianity-- the Christianity of the catacombs-- is concerned with translating Christian doctrine into facts. It leads quite simply to the annihilation of mankind. It is merely whole-hearted Bolshevism, under a tinsel of metaphysics. (p 119 & 120)

9th April, 1942, dinner:

There is something very unhealthy about Christianity (p 339)

27th February, 1942, midday:

It would always be disagreeable for me to go down to posterity as a man who made concessions in this field. I realize that man, in his imperfection, can commit innumerable errors-- but to devote myself deliberately to errors, that is something I cannot do. I shall never come personally to terms with the Christian lie. Our epoch Uin the next 200 yearse will certainly see the end of the disease of Christianity.... My regret will have been that I couldn't... behold ." (p 278)

Some Atheists will continue to lie about Christianity no matter how much evidence you show them to the contrary. Some Atheists will continue claiming Hitler was Christian, or that Jesus didn't exist, or that there are contradictions in the Bible despite how ridiculous the claims are just because it's easier to believe a lie than to adequately refute truth.
unitedandy
Posts: 1,173
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3/22/2012 1:23:40 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 3/22/2012 10:41:21 AM, KeytarHero wrote:
At 3/21/2012 7:58:47 PM, Paradox_7 wrote:
At 3/21/2012 7:45:23 PM, The_Fool_on_the_hill wrote:
There are Christains that still don't believe Hitler was Christian. Thats just as bad.


Didn't i provide you with several writings from hitler himself condemning christianity?

Also, did you not know, Mein Kampf, was written when he was in prison, and trying to win over the Chrisitian nations to his cause? it was a lie, and it was propaganda.

It succeeded, and he dropped the vail quickly.


Hitler's Secret Conversations(1941-1944)
published by Farrar, Straus and Young, Inc.

All of these are quotes from Adolf Hitler:

Night of 11th-12th July, 1941:

National Socialism and religion cannot exist together.... The heaviest blow that ever struck humanity was the coming of Christianity. Bolshevism is Christianity's illegitimate child. Both are inventions of the Jew. The deliberate lie in the matter of religion was introduced into the world by Christianity.... Let it not be said that Christianity brought man the life of the soul, for that evolution was in the natural order of things. (p 6 & 7)

10th October, 1941, midday:

Christianity is a rebellion against natural law, a protest against nature. Taken to its logical extreme, Christianity would mean the systematic cultivation of the human failure. (p 43)

14th October, 1941, midday:

The best thing is to let Christianity die a natural death.... When understanding of the universe has become widespread... Christian doctrine will be convicted of absurdity.... Christianity has reached the peak of absurdity.... And that's why someday its structure will collapse.... ...the only way to get rid of Christianity is to allow it to die little by little.... Christianity the liar.... We'll see to it that the Churches cannot spread abroad teachings in conflict with the interests of the State. (p 49-52)

19th October, 1941, night:

The reason why the ancient world was so pure, light and serene was that it knew nothing of the two great scourges: the pox and Christianity.

21st October, 1941, midday:

Originally, Christianity was merely an incarnation of Bolshevism, the destroyer.... The decisive falsification of Jesus' doctrine was the work of St.Paul. He gave himself to this work... for the purposes of personal exploitation.... Didn't the world see, carried on right into the Middle Ages, the same old system of martyrs, tortures, fagg*ts? Of old, it was in the name of Christianity. Today, it's in the name of Bolshevism. Yesterday the instigator was Saul: the instigator today, Mardochai. Saul was changed into St.Paul, and Mardochai into Karl Marx. By exterminating this pest, we shall do humanity a service of which our soldiers can have no idea. (p 63-65)

13th December, 1941, midnight:

Christianity is an invention of sick brains: one could imagine nothing more senseless, nor any more indecent way of turning the idea of the Godhead into a mockery.... .... When all is said, we have no reason to wish that the Italians and Spaniards should free themselves from the drug of Christianity. Let's be the only people who are immunised against the disease. (p 118 & 119)

14th December, 1941, midday:

Kerrl, with noblest of intentions, wanted to attempt a synthesis between National Socialism and Christianity. I don't believe the thing's possible, and I see the obstacle in Christianity itself.... Pure Christianity-- the Christianity of the catacombs-- is concerned with translating Christian doctrine into facts. It leads quite simply to the annihilation of mankind. It is merely whole-hearted Bolshevism, under a tinsel of metaphysics. (p 119 & 120)

9th April, 1942, dinner:

There is something very unhealthy about Christianity (p 339)

27th February, 1942, midday:

It would always be disagreeable for me to go down to posterity as a man who made concessions in this field. I realize that man, in his imperfection, can commit innumerable errors-- but to devote myself deliberately to errors, that is something I cannot do. I shall never come personally to terms with the Christian lie. Our epoch Uin the next 200 yearse will certainly see the end of the disease of Christianity.... My regret will have been that I couldn't... behold ." (p 278)

Some Atheists will continue to lie about Christianity no matter how much evidence you show them to the contrary. Some Atheists will continue claiming Hitler was Christian, or that Jesus didn't exist, or that there are contradictions in the Bible despite how ridiculous the claims are just because it's easier to believe a lie than to adequately refute truth.

To be fair, the religiosity, or lack thereof, of Hitler is pretty contentious. There seems to be evidence both that he did adhere to some weird form of Christianity, and that he completely disavowed it. For every quote which seems certain to class Hitler as Christian, there's one where he criticises the church. Whether Hitler was a Christian, or whether he merely used Christianity doesn't really reflect well, although pretty much every religion (and atheism) has similarly shameful aspects to it, with respect to some past adherents.

As to bible contradictions, this one is far more clear cut. There are loads of contradictions in the bible. Some, maybe even most of these can be squared, but even PCP (the OP), a Christian himself, accepts some of these contradictions, if I remember rightly, such as the slaughter of the Caanaites and a supremely benevolent God. Not that this falsifies Christianity, but the contradictions are there, and there are loads of them.
popculturepooka
Posts: 7,924
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3/22/2012 5:04:54 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
Not to mention c.s. lewis accepted the existence of some contradictions, too, and I know keytar likes him....
At 10/3/2016 11:49:13 PM, thett3 wrote:
BLACK LIVES MATTER!