Apostate Abe wrote:
Yeah, OK. What do you think may happen to Bart Ehrman's career if he says that maybe Jesus never existed?
I wasn't shooting for the being afraid he'd be fired angle. But then again look at what just happened to Mike Licona for a far less assertion. What I was getting at is that Ehrman is an historian. He would like to make his job look very relevant and possibly much more concrete and certainty based than otherwise. I was listening to his interview with the Infidel Guy paying attention to how much he continued to present a concrete case where no such case exists. That's all I really meant by it. The appeal to authority went on and on...
For example, on the Infidel Guy radio show, he was asked for an argument for the historical Jesus, and he gave Galatians 1:19, where Paul writes in passing about meeting "James, the Lord's brother." James was reputed by both the gospel authors and Josephus to be a Christian leader and a brother of Jesus. This means there seems to be first-hand written attestation to a brother of Jesus. Now, maybe you know better, and maybe you think there are more probable ways to explain that evidence, but it seems to be a strong argument on the face, and you can understand why a historian would accept that. Conflicts of interest don't need to have anything to do with it.
I caught that too. And in Galatians it seems clear that this person James is a Christian brother, of the Christian brotherhood, not necessarily the blood brother of a literal Jesus Christ. And with Josephus we're discussing a "rank forgery". A "rank forgery" committed well after Galatians had been written and possibly forged to include this bit from Galatians - that I believe is also in Acts which was written later to try and fill in the dots - and seemed to get more confused over time until people took this to be in reference to James a literal brother of Jesus. Eusebius could have easily used this in what appears to be his own "rank forgery" of Josephus' work. But that's just one angle that comes to mind without thinking too deeply into it.
OK, cool. I would say Christianity is like Buddhism, and not like Hinduism. I divide religions into two genetic categories, as follows:
1) Religions that started from tribal/nationalistic mythology and evolved after that, such as Judaism and Hinduism.
2) Religions that started from personality cults and evolved after that, such as Zoroastrianism, Buddhism, Christianity, Islam and Mormonism.
I only meant something very simple. There's no good reason to believe that either the Buddha(s) or Krishna were any more historical than Jesus. But aside from that, yes, these all fit into categories. Hinduism was an ethnic religion that spun off into Buddhism which became a proselytizing world religion. What had been exclusive could become inclusive. The same evolution happened with Judaism as an ethnic religion that spun off into a proselytizing world religion in likewise fashion, well after the eastern religious evolution had already occurred and was well known. This type of possible religious evolution exclusive to inclusive was known in Alexandria Egypt BTW. So little wonder efforts were made (consciously I presume) to give Judaism the same evolutionary kick towards an all inclusive world religion status as happened centuries earlier in the east with the exclusive ethnic religion of Hinduism. But that gets pretty deep down the rabbit hole, so to speak, and you'd have to understand at least something of Murdocks books - especially CiE - to follow along with the overall hypothesis...
Whenever you have a religion that started as a personality cult, the figure of that personality cult was always a human being. That is the pattern in the modern world and all historical cults that we know about. If there are exceptions, if the personality behind a personality cult never existed, then we simply don't know about them.
Always? I don't know if I'd get too firm with Zarathustra as a literal historical character any more than Abraham or Moses as founding fathers of what would become Judaism. But in the modern cases yes, it would seem that those people founding their "personality cults". I wouldn't be so sure about the ancient cases though...
I suggest sticking with the positive evidences. We have the Christian writings, and they date to just a few decades after Jesus reputedly existed. It is not about believing the early Christian writings--we just need to explain them with plausibility and explanatory power. So, how do we best explain those writings? Are they best explained as myth that follows from a Jesus who never existed to begin with? Or, are they best explained as the myth that follows from a Jesus who founded and led a doomsday cult? Which theory has plausibility and explanatory power?
You have quite the task in first proving that anything in NT was written before the 2nd century - if by "Christian writings" you are referring to what is now the NT. That's quite a topic in and of itself around here and that goes for the Pauline Epistles and all. If Jesus were to have lived in the early first century, then it was about 100 years before anyone wrote anything about it in such a way as to appear into the literary and historical record. If you could prove that something was in fact written shortly after Jesus should have existed then you would be world famous for it:The Gospel Dates: A 2nd Century Composition?
The Gospel Dates | When Were the Gospels Written?
"What are the most accurate dates for the canonical gospels in the New Testament as we have them? Are these texts really the faithful accounts of eyewitnesses written shortly after Jesus's advent? Or does the evidence point to the gospels as anonymous compositions dating to the late second century?...."http://stellarhousepublishing.com/gospel-dates.html
The Canon: A Second-Century Composition
"...With such remarkable declarations of the Church fathers, et al., as well as other cogent arguments, we possess some salient evidence that the gospels of Luke and John represent late second-century works. In fact, all of the canonical gospels seem to emerge at the same time—first receiving their names and number by Irenaeus around 180 AD/CE, and possibly based on one or more of the same texts as Luke, especially an "Ur-Markus" that may have been related to Marcion's Gospel of the Lord. In addition to an "Ur-Markus" upon which the canonical gospels may have been based has also been posited an "Ur-Lukas," which may likewise have "Ur-Markus" at its basis.
"The following may summarize the order of the gospels as they appear in the historical and literary record, beginning in the middle of the second century:
1. Ur-Markus (150)
2. Ur-Lukas (150+)
3. Luke (170)
4. Mark (175)
5. John (178)
6. Matthew (180)
"To reiterate, these late dates represent the time when these specific texts undoubtedly emerge onto the scene. If the canonical gospels as we have them existed anywhere previously, they were unknown, which makes it likely that they were not composed until that time or shortly before, based on earlier texts...."
- Who Was Jesus?
, pages 82-83
"The only definite account of his life and teachings is contained in the four Gospels of the New Testament, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. All other historical records of the time are silent about him. The brief mentions of Jesus in the writings of Josephus, Tacitus and Suetonius have been generally regarded as not genuine and as Christian interpolations; in Jewish writings there is no report about Jesus that has historical value. Some scholars have even gone so far as to hold that the entire Jesus story is a myth…"
- The Universal Jewish Encyclopedia (v.6,83)
- "Who Was Jesus? Fingerprints of The Christ" (WWJ) 84
"The gospels are in fact anonymous"
- Dr. Craig L. Blomberg
- WWJ (60)
"The Gospels are neither histories nor biographies, even within the ancient tolerances for those genres."
- Dr. John Dominic Crossan, The Historical Jesus
- WWJ (24)
* Dr. Crossan, a professed Christian, is a major figure in the fields of biblical archaeology, anthropology and New Testament textual and higher criticism. He is especially vocal in the field of Historical Jesus studies
Now of course the Christian theologians above still hold to the idea of an historical Jesus, despite these problems which they readily admit. But that goes back to what Robert was saying earlier about this "leftist" or liberal theologians and what they are striving to preserve from the mythology...
And what are we doing here with Mark? Is the assertion that Mark is the eldest Gospel and that we ought to strip down to a doomsday prophet at the core? If so, if we are to take the doomsday material as real history why then brush aside the claims of popularity and fame far and wide in the region in question?
Jesus famed far and wide:
"These "great crowds" and "multitudes," along with Jesus's fame, are repeatedly referred to in the gospels, including at the following:
Matthew 4:23-25, 5:1, 8:1, 8:18, 9:8, 9:31, 9:33, 9:36, 11:7, 12:15, 13:2, 14:1, 14:13, 14:22, 15:30, 19:2, 21:9, 26:55;
Mark 1:28, 10:1;
Luke: 4:14, 4:37, 5:15, 14:25, etc."
- Who Was Jesus?
, page 85
"Additionally, even though many times in the gospels Jesus was claimed to have been famed far and wide, not one historian of the era was aware of his existence, not even individuals who lived in, traveled around, or wrote about the relevant areas. The brief mentions of Christ, Christians or Christianity we possess from non-Christian sources are late and dubious as to their authenticity and/or value. Nor is there any valid scientific archaeological evidence demonstrating the gospel story to be true or even to support the existence of Jesus Christ. Despite this utter lack of evidence, Christian apologists and authorities make erroneous and misleading claims that there are "considerable reports" and "a surprisingly large amount of detail" regarding the life of Jesus and early Christianity."
- WWJ page 257
Why should we expect to read something from contemporary sources, and why should Philo have at least known something about this? Well because we're talking about someone who is supposed to be famed far and wide, whether a God-Man or just a man with a doomsday cult following. And if they're all lying about his fame far and wide in that region, and the multitudes of people involved, why then trust the authors about anything at all? Are the Mormons lying about Joseph Smith's fame? What about the SDA's and Ellen White's or William Miller's fame? Were these people known far and wide? Should we use them as an example to look back on the fame that Jesus should have had too, as the leader of a doomsday "personality cult"? What about Herald Camping? Doomsday nonsense brings fame along with it regardless how ridiculous and played out the concept of crying doomsday is.