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The 'Jesus' in the "Did Jesus Exist" Question

Envisage
Posts: 3,646
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11/23/2014 1:32:10 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
In any debate, or any discussion, we need to recognise that words are simply labels that refer to a specific concept underneath. Relevant to this forum are for example the words "moral", "immoral", "God", "faith", etc.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with using your own definitions for what any of these labels mean, but what DOES matter in debate is that the concepts that these labels refer to are exactly the same on both sides.

For example, a Deist may define God as only a being that was the initial cause of the universe, and plays no further role. A theist may define God as a being that does everything a deist God does, except that it intervenes within reality.

Neither definition of 'God' is right or wrong, because 'God' is simply just a label that refers to a specific concept for each person. In this case, the theist and deist would be referring to two separate concepts when they talk of 'God'. Therefore any discussion that uses the label 'God' will result in both talking past each other. Since claims about what God is not agreeable.

Similarly, the word 'Historical Jesus' is just a label, and they will mean very different things to different people.

A conservative Christian for example might accept the label of 'Historical Jesus' to mean 'The literal Jesus of the Bible'. A historian would perhaps only refer to 'A figure that was crucified in 33AD, and directly lead to the synoptic Gospel accounts & Pauline Epistles that we have'.

To make the argument that Jesus 'existed' or 'never exist' necessarily needs to have an agreed upon concept of what 'Jesus' means in the debate, otherwise both people will just end up talking past each other, and goalposts will continue to be shifted since they were never planted in the first place.

So, there are 2 solutions I propose to the 'language barrier' that 'Jesus' causes in abundance on this forum.

1. Drop the use of 'Jesus' altogether, and agree upon a concept (e.g. "A man named Jesus that was crucified that lead to the synoptic gospels") or (The literal Jesus of the NT)
2. Agree upon a definition of 'Jesus' before arguing

From this, it becomes quickly apparent that attacks on miracles for example would be irrelevant to someone who adopts a historian's definition of Jesus. Similarly a conservative would be making a meaningless statement if he said 'But Jesus existed!' to a historian, when the Historian agrees that 'his' definition of Jesus existed, but not all the added baggage that a conservative may have.
Wylted
Posts: 21,167
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11/23/2014 1:53:51 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
I know when I use it I just am saying it like "technically he existed". Him bearing any resemblance to how he was portrayed in the NT is something I think can't really be known. I think the majority of the stories in the NT with the exception of his baptism and crucifixion are probably BS.
Envisage
Posts: 3,646
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11/23/2014 1:58:03 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 11/23/2014 1:53:51 PM, Wylted wrote:
I know when I use it I just am saying it like "technically he existed". Him bearing any resemblance to how he was portrayed in the NT is something I think can't really be known. I think the majority of the stories in the NT with the exception of his baptism and crucifixion are probably BS.

That really doesn't help, lol.

I mean in a debate regarding Jesus' existence, you could keep shifting the goalposts since we do not have a definition of Jesus agreed upon.

If we defined Jesus to include the person that was crucified and baptised. Then disproving either the crucificion or baptism would indeed refute that definition of Jesus.

If one refuses to be pinned down to a definition of Jesus, then his concept of Jesus is meaningless, and we might as well talk about Shakesphere.
Wylted
Posts: 21,167
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11/23/2014 2:03:25 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 11/23/2014 1:58:03 PM, Envisage wrote:
At 11/23/2014 1:53:51 PM, Wylted wrote:
I know when I use it I just am saying it like "technically he existed". Him bearing any resemblance to how he was portrayed in the NT is something I think can't really be known. I think the majority of the stories in the NT with the exception of his baptism and crucifixion are probably BS.

That really doesn't help, lol.

I mean in a debate regarding Jesus' existence, you could keep shifting the goalposts since we do not have a definition of Jesus agreed upon.

If we defined Jesus to include the person that was crucified and baptised. Then disproving either the crucificion or baptism would indeed refute that definition of Jesus.

If one refuses to be pinned down to a definition of Jesus, then his concept of Jesus is meaningless, and we might as well talk about Shakesphere.

It would be fair to include the baptism and crucifixion in the definition.