Oral Tradition and the Game of Telephone: A.N. Sherwin-White’s Famous Quote

Telephone and the gospelsThe time from the death of Jesus to the writing of the first gospel was about 40 years. An exciting story being passed along orally in a world full of supernatural characters seems bound to be “improved,” deliberately or inadvertently, as it moves from person to person.

While some epistles were written earlier, the details Paul gives about the life of Jesus can be summarized in one very short paragraph (more here). How can we dismiss the possibility that any actual history of Jesus is lost through a decades-long game of telephone?

Christian rebuttal

Apologist William Lane Craig says that 40 years is too short a period for legend to develop. He points to a claim made by A.N. Sherwin-White in Roman Society and Roman Law in the New Testament (1963).

According to Sherwin-White, the writings of Herodotus enable us to determine the rate at which legend accumulates, and the tests show that even two generations is too short a time span to allow legendary tendencies to wipe out the hard core of historical facts. When Professor Sherwin-White turns to the gospels, he states that for the gospels to be legends, the rate of legendary accumulation would have to be “unbelievable.” More generations would be needed. (Source)

Craig’s conclusion is quoted widely and was popularized in Lee Strobel’s The Case for Christ (2008), and it sounds like a thorough slap down of the legend claim. However, when we see what Sherwin-White actually said, we find that Craig’s confidence is unwarranted.

(From this point forward, I’ll use “SW” to refer to historian A.N. Sherwin-White.)

SW never said “unbelievable”

Incredibly, the word “unbelievable,” which Craig puts into the mouth of SW, is not used by him in the relevant chapter in this book. If the word comes from another source, Craig doesn’t cite it. Craig also quotes the word in his essay in Jesus Under Fire (1995).

We all make mistakes, but it’s been almost twenty years. Where is Craig’s correction?

What did SW actually say?

From his Roman Society and Roman Law in the New Testament:

Herodotus enables us to test the tempo of myth-making, and the tests suggest that even two generations are too short a span to allow the mythical tendency to prevail over the hard historic core of the oral tradition. (RSRL, 190)

SW proposes an interesting experiment. If we can find examples in history where legend has crept into oral history and we have more reliable sources that let us compare that with what actually happened, we can measure how fast legendary material accumulates.

Notice the limitations in what SW is saying.

  • He cites several examples where historians have (hopefully) successfully sifted truth from myth, but Herodotus is the only example used to put a rate on the loss of historic truth. This isn’t a survey of, say, a dozen random historic accounts that each validates a two-generation limit.
  • He isn’t saying that myth doesn’t accumulate, and he’s not proposing a rate at which it does. He’s writing instead about the loss of accurate history (“the mythical tendency to prevail over the hard historic core”).
  • He is careful to use the word “suggest” above. William Lane Craig imagines an immutable law that SW clearly isn’t proposing.

What is SW’s point?

Here is more of what SW is saying.

All this suggests that, however strong the myth-forming tendency, the falsification does not automatically and absolutely prevail. (RSRL, 191)

The point of my argument is not to suggest the literal accuracy of ancient sources, secular or ecclesiastical, but to offset the extreme skepticism with which the New Testament narratives are treated in some quarters. (RSRL, 193)

Craig imagines that myth never overtakes historic truth in two generations. By contrast, SW says that myth doesn’t always overtake historic truth.

Consider Craig’s difficulty. He proposes what may be the most incredible story possible: that a supernatural being created the universe and came to earth as a human and that this was recorded in history. We have a well-populated bin labeled “Mythology” for stories like this. If Craig is to argue that, no, this one is actually history, SW’s statement is useless. “Well, myth might not have overtaken historic truth” does very little to keep Craig’s religion from the Mythology bin.

Limitations in SW’s statement

  • Though SW is confident that history can be sifted out of the myth, he gives no procedure for reliably doing so.
  • It’s been 50 years since his book, which is plenty of time for scholars to weigh in. If they’ve said nothing, that gives us little confidence that SW is onto something useful. But if a consensus response has emerged, that is what we should be considering, not SW’s original proposal.
  • The examples that SW considers—Tiberius Caesar, Alexander the Great, and others—are all important public figures. Jesus was not. Legendary drift is slow when everyone experienced the impact of the figure directly and might correct a story themselves. By contrast, only a handful of people could rein in an errant Jesus story (more here).
  • SW’s examples are all secular leaders. Is Herodotus a relevant example when we’re concerned about the growth of a religious tale? Consider Sathya Sai Baba, an Indian guru who died in 2011 with millions of followers. Supernatural tales grew up around him in his own lifetime. (More on the growth of legends here and here.)

SW proves too much!

William Lane Craig must walk a fine line since he can’t completely reject mythological development. Myth is his enemy when it comes to the New Testament books written 40 to 70 years after the death of Jesus. He must downplay myth to label these as history. But myth is his friend when it comes to the noncanonical books of the second century—the Gospel of Thomas, the Shepherd of Hermas, and so on. Here he imagines the mists of time separating the authors of those books from the actual history.

And, bizarrely, Craig’s own quote gives support to the skeptics’ concern about legend creeping into the gospels! Apologists don’t read SW’s chapter directly; they prefer Craig’s quote. It’s a much better data point with which to argue that the gospels are accurate—if you can get past that small issue of it being completely inaccurate.

Sticky, not accurate, is what gets passed along. This is true for Craig as it is for the gospel story.

In the beginning, God created man in his own image.
Man, being a gentleman, returned the favor.
— Rousseau

References: These sources provided much valuable material for this post.

Photo credit: Bindaas Madhavi

About Bob Seidensticker
  • kraut2

    “Incredibly, the word “unbelievable,” which Craig puts into the mouth of
    SW, is not used by him in the relevant chapter in this book”

    Craig has been known to adjust facts to support his arguments.

    • RichardSRussell

      Given the long, long, long record of atrocities committed in the name of service to the One True God, mere misquotation and fibbing seem fairly mild by comparison. Still utterly dishonest, of course, but fortunately WLC doesn’t have the power to actually hurt anyone.

  • MNb

    “Apologist William Lane Craig says that 40 years is too short a period for legend to develop.”
    Nice, just after I wrote that it’s not too hard to show that WLC is antiscientific. This is one example. Just compare:

    http://urbanlegends.about.com/od/9-11-urban-legends/

    Google theory of urban legends and you’ll have enough to read for the rest of the day.

    “even two generations is too short a time span to allow legendary tendencies to wipe out the hard core of historical facts.”
    But this is not the same. What does WLC think historians of Antiquity are doing? Exactly, trying to separate fact from fiction. They are pretty good at it. Regarding Jesus of Nazareth precious few hard facts are established.
    As you convincingly show and as Chris Hallquist has done before, WLC is just a liar for Jesus. That’s one reason I don’t give an SRD for his moral objectivity.

  • Rick

    I thought the telephone game scenario required multiple retellings. But 40 years after the death of Christ is a short enough period for the original eyewitnesses to write their own stories, which is a totally different scenario than the multiple retelling leading to significant morphing of the story that you seem to prefer.

    What evidence do you have that multiple versions of the story existed and changed over time? Without that, the more plausible narrative is that eyewitnesses wrote down the details of the history as they themselves recalled it. I recall clearly events I saw concerning the Kennedy assassination and funeral, don’t you? Yet that was 50 years ago. (You’re a little younger than me, so you may not recall that specific event so clearly, but you get the point here.)

    What evidence can you offer for your telephone game truth bending of the Jesus story?

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      What evidence do you have that multiple versions of the story existed and changed over time?

      What evidence do you have that the gospels were each written by an aging eyewitness, pipe in hand, as he jotted his reminiscences by the fire in his retirement? No, I’m not trying to find the easy way out by demanding that you answer a question that I should really answer. My point is simply that it’s plausible that each gospel author was simply documenting the gospel as his own church community understood it, using a combination of oral history, invention, and (possibly) written documents.

      This is a plausible scenario. It would make the gospel story subject to the gauntlet of decades of oral history and mean that much change in the story is possible.

      To take just one possible example of change, consider that many early gentile Christians would’ve been converts from Dionysus worship. It’s easy to imagine the Dionysus return-from-death story getting amalgamated into the beliefs of these early Christians.

      Without that, the more plausible narrative is that eyewitnesses wrote down the details of the history as they themselves recalled it. I recall clearly events I saw concerning the Kennedy assassination and funeral, don’t you? Yet that was 50 years ago.

      I wrote recently about a dramatic example of our very fallible memories.

      Apologists like Frank Turek spin yarns like, “If you saw a man risen from the dead, wouldn’t you remember that?” Problem 1 is that we don’t have a reminiscence of Jesus risen from the dead but simply a document that claims that whose truth is the very thing we’re trying to figure out. Problem 2 is that there is a very big difference between a vivid memory and an accurate one.

      I remember nothing from the JFK incident. In your JFK example, you have had media stories to nudge your memory back on track where you’ve misremembered. Of course, there would be no equivalent in the case of Jesus.

      What evidence can you offer for your telephone game truth bending of the Jesus story?

      I need offer none. I need only show that the natural explanation is a plausible one.

      • MNb

        “each gospel author was simply documenting the gospel as his own church community understood it, using a combination of oral history, invention, and (possibly) written documents.”
        In addition: we should never forget that the Ancient authors always wrote with an agenda in mind and hardly ever with a secret one. The agenda of the authors of the Gospels is crystal clear and well known: the unification of the new religion called christianity (heck, the new religion might not even had had a name when the Gospels were written). So of course the authors changed the story in service of this goal. Moreover they would have been superhuman if they hadn’t grabbed the opportunity to insert their personal preferences.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          We might imagine gospel authorship to be “a lie that tells the truth,” but I’m sure there was no guilt associated with adjusting the gospels story as needed–mining for “prophecies” in Psalms and Isaiah and then inventing a fulfillment, for example.

        • MNb

          It’s not a matter of lie and truth. You’re still approaching the issue with a 21st Century mindset. So wondering about guilt is completely out of place here. The authors didn’t think like that.
          Compare kiddie stories about Santa Claus. Lie, truth and guilt do not apply either to the mind of the children listening to them.
          Best wishes for 2014 and keep up the good work.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Best wishes for 2014 and keep up the good work.

          :-)

    • UWIR

      But 40 years after the death of Christ is a short enough period for the original eyewitnesses to write their own stories, which is a totally different scenario than the multiple retelling leading to significant morphing of the story that you seem to prefer.

      Merely coming up with a scenario in which it is possible for there to be eyewitness accounts is hardly sufficient.

      What evidence do you have that multiple versions of the story existed and changed over time? Without that, the more plausible narrative is that eyewitnesses wrote down the details of the history as they themselves recalled it.

      That a guy came back from the dead is more plausible than that there was a distortion of the story? Are you on crack?

      The very fact that the story is impossible is rather strong evidence that it was made up. Christians act like the basic principles of logic are somehow suspended when dealing with the Bible. The stories of the Bible are treated as being just one hypothesis that is just as valid as any other.

      What evidence can you offer for your telephone game truth bending of the Jesus story?

      You just aren’t understanding the situation. It’s the Christians who are presenting the alleged impossibility of myth generation as evidence. To rebut this it is merely necessary to assert that myth generation is possible; there is no need to show “evidence” for it.

    • Greg G.

      What original eye witnesses? Mark used the Greek art of mimesis on Greek, Hebrew, and Christian literature to write the earliest gospel. The other gospels used his fictional accounts as material. So much of Jesus’ words in Mark can be identified as mimetic versions of older literature, that there’s not much left to be from oral tradition. Jesus scholars must invent criteria like an Aramaic sounding word must come from Jesus, as if he was the only person who used the language and there were no Aramaic midrash documents in circulation.

      What evidence do you have that multiple versions of the story existed and changed over time?

      We have Paul and Peter arguing theological implications in Galatians 2, Paul mentioning others reaching other Christs, James essentially refuting Galatians, Matthew using about half of Mark verbatim while the rest was changed or ommitted for theological purposes, Luke presenting a different Jesus, John presenting a radically different Jesus, many 2nd century Christian religions, early church fathers being called heretics the next century, and 42,000 different denominations today.

      What we don’t see is evidence for one single version ever.

  • Mudhammutt (DaveUcannotta)

    Wow, you sure have given a lot of thought to one (W.L.Craig) who never said anything particularly bright!

    Why would it matter one bit how much the gospel stories were embellished or distorted over time? A kids “telephone” game would do these, but I think it has also been asserted elsewhere, (if not by Craig) that this was not the case, that an oral tradition involving many witnesses, passing it on through poetic form would help preserve the original tale over time as they and those who they pass it on to correct each other. WTF ever – Jesus may or may not have been a David Copperfield in his time, but what we know for sure is that the witnesses DID NOT write the gospels, nor the book of Acts – therefore it doesn’t really matter what anyone said in between, it’s the literate liars who wrote the story.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      One rebuttal to the oral history problem that I’ve heard is that the chain of discussion wouldn’t go in a tree-like pattern, with the first person telling ten people, and then their each telling ten different people, and so on. Rather, they claim it would be a web, where someone in the web would hear the story another time and be able to correct it.

      But what’s the correction? All we know is that we have two stories. Which one is correct, when there is no authority, written or otherwise?

      When you mention a poetic form, are you thinking memorization? That’s got lots of problems. (1) Yes, Jewish students sometimes committed large parts of the Scripture to memory, but the gospel wasn’t scripture. (2) Stories like the Iliad weren’t meant to be told verbatim, as if read. They would be customized for each audience. (3) The importance of verbatim recollection of a story is (paradoxically) important only after a written record exists to be the standard.

      • Mudhammutt (DaveUcannotta)

        Yes, that web-pattern idea looks like the same argument I heard, and the poetic form would be for memory.

        That an exact retelling would apply strictly to the case of large groups of people memorizing what is already written down is an interesting point because Christians cannot claim this, and each individual views what he sees differently. But while I’m playing the devil’s advocated for Christians (and isn’t that ironic), one may still assert that people are capable of correcting each other’s content on fact, resulting in a consensus, regardless of perceptual differences. So it may have gone this way with the gospels, if there really were hundreds of eye witnesses to the alleged miracles, but then that point is also dubious.

        Then again, the words of the apostles did NOT go un-contradicted among the early Christian teachers, and those who brought on controversy were silenced through means which would make Vito Corleone look weak! There may be 500 or so original manuscripts which are remarkably similar, but none of them were written by eyewitnesses, and they are the ones which were not destroyed.

        You also make a very good point that all retold stories told by those on worldwide mission are customized for different groups, and such differences are evidenced throughout no less (and no more) a source as the New Testament. Such negating evidence is as good for dismissing Christianity for the myth it is as with any of the thousands of myths which people have believed.

        • Pofarmer

          “Then again, the words of the apostles did NOT go un-contradicted, and
          critics were silenced through means which would make John Gotti look
          weak! There may be 500 or so original manuscripts which are remarkably
          similar, but none of them were written by eyewitnesses, and they are the
          ones which were not destroyed.”

          This is something that gets overlooked way too often.

  • Greg G.

    40 years from when? The clock for the myth of a descendant of David restoring the throne would start from the Babylonian era. By the middle of the first century we have some people who had an idea that Messiah had been crucified in the deep past but was coming back real soon because they had started to read scripture out of context as a new way to get revelation.

    After the most important city in the scriptures had been destroyed, a myth that the crucifixion had happened there a few decades ago and the destruction of the city could be blamed on the crucifixion could arise rapidly.

    The epistles written less than two decades before the destruction don’t support the idea that the teacher/preacher walked the earth in the recent past, however.

    Edit: Also, that means there was no oral tradition to overcome.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      The clock for the myth of a descendant of David restoring the throne would start from the Babylonian era.

      I don’t understand this bit as I should. Are there OT verses that support this?

      By the middle of the first century we have some people who had an idea that Messiah had been crucified in the deep past but was coming back real soon because they had started to read scripture out of context as a new way to get revelation.

      Are you thinking of pesher? Bob Price talks about this a lot, though it seems to be attached to the Qumran community and I haven’t found much that says this was more widely applied.

      After the most important city in the scriptures had been destroyed, a myth that the crucifixion had happened there a few decades ago and the destruction of the city could be blamed on the crucifixion could arise rapidly.

      That does sound plausible, though you’d think that God would have a strong cause-and-effect link. 40 years is a pretty loose link.

      • Pofarmer

        “That does sound plausible, though you’d think that God would have a
        strong cause-and-effect link. 40 years is a pretty loose link.”

        Man, I have read too much stuff. First of all,there are some things going on that would be really convenient. We pretty much know the Gospels were written after the destruction of the temple. Therefore, a crucifixion story would be just another one among hundreds or thousands of others, therefore no way to prove or disprove. Lot’s of people were crucified, and, if you were writing in, say, 80A.D. you might not know that crucifixions weren’t all that common in 30. A.D. Also, I’ve read that the year of Jesus birth was kind of backdated to some significant Astrological signs. Early church fathers thought that the end of the world would initially be in 500 A.D. because of a conflation of similar signs, then around 2000 and etc. comes into play. So, all of that could be simple additions in the time of Eusebius or Origen or any time early on before we have good transcripts. I think that Bart Ehrman argues in “Forged” that the early church wasn’t above making stuff up to support it’s clams. It’s interesting to me that Jesus birth isn’t really a fixed time, the early church somehow immediately managed to lose the location of the tomb, you’d think someone would have written more closely about where it was, even Josephus doesn’t seem to know anything about it, and that there aren’t any writings at all in Jesus own words or by an early scribe.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          A friend of mine made a clever summary of end-of-the-world claims here.

          I believe they’re all authentic dates that were actually argued to be the end. By someone.

        • http://www.revelation4radicals.com/ radicalrevelation

          Thank you for the link!

        • http://batman-news.com Anton

          Bart Ehrman argues in “Forged” that the early church wasn’t above making stuff up to support it’s clams. It’s interesting to me that Jesus birth isn’t really a fixed time, the early church somehow immediately managed to lose the location of the tomb, you’d think someone would have written more closely about where it was, even Josephus doesn’t seem to know anything about it, and that there aren’t any writings at all in Jesus own words or by an early scribe.

          Even if you’re right (and I have no reason to disagree with anything here), what you appear to be saying is that the early church had some sort of limits as to how much they were willing and able to concoct for the new cult. Otherwise, why not claim that some random hole was The Tomb? Why not have all sorts of Jesus writings, forged by the same people who forged certain letters of Paul and the ones by Peter? Why have your most fanatical publicist write letters claiming he never met Christ while He lived, but only had a vision of Him and later met people who were His literal disciples?

          I’m not saying this proves the divinity of Christ or anything. But pointing out that the early church made stuff up doesn’t mean Jesus was a fictional character either.

        • Pofarmer

          Isn’t that what the Apocrypha is? I’m not sure how many, but there are quite a few of them we know about. I think that’s also where you get the Essenes, and the gnostics, and the aryans and all that. Many of there writings are not going to survive.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          The Apocrypha has noncanonical books that are approved by the church. There were other noncanonical books that were (by contrast) heresy, such as the Gnostic and Marcionite teachings.

          Different churches have different books in the canon. Here’s a good list in Wikipedia of some of the differences in canon.

        • Pofarmer

          There’s a pretty good list of a whole bunch of Early Christian literature here, if anybody doesn’t know about it. All listed and dated.

          http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          If you’re saying that this doesn’t prove the Christ Myth theory, I agree. There may well have been an actual guy whose life and teachings kicked the whole thing off.

          But are you saying that this doesn’t disprove the divine aspects of the Jesus story? That’s true but unimportant IMO. The burden of proof in this case is on the person who argues for such a Jesus.

        • http://batman-news.com Anton

          If you’re saying that this doesn’t prove the Christ Myth theory, I agree. There may well have been an actual guy whose life and teachings kicked the whole thing off.

          I think it shows that the myths, epistles, and gospels aren’t what we’d expect to see if Jesus never existed and there was a deliberate effort to establish a real Jesus.

          But are you saying that this doesn’t disprove the divine aspects of the Jesus story?

          That’s not what I was saying, but technically it doesn’t.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Have you read much on the Christ Myth theory (Bob Price, Richard Carrier)? It’s a tangent from my perspective, but I don’t think that it can be dismissed easily (though Bart Ehrman so argues).

        • http://batman-news.com Anton

          Have you read much on the Christ Myth theory (Bob Price, Richard Carrier)?

          I haven’t gone into it in depth, but what I’ve read doesn’t seem particularly convincing.

          It’s certainly true that there’s precious little material out there to establish that Jesus actually lived. However, the questions that I’ve been asking Greg are the ones I feel hurt the mythicists’ theory. It’s not the first time I’ve heard a conspiracy theorist make his case using the very evidence that would appear to suggest the exact opposite.

          Paul never claimed to have met the living Jesus, and mythicists use his lack of knowledge about Jesus to support their case. But if they’re saying that Paul and the early Xians were deliberately trying to establish the historicity of Jesus, why wouldn’t early Christianity’s most avid publicist have just said he met the man? At the very least (considering the church’s use of forgeries and editing elsewhere), we’d expect the letters of Paul to be full of dubious references to the time he spent with the living Jesus.

          It just doesn’t seem like what we’d expect to see if they were trying to make people believe Jesus existed.

        • Greg G.

          However, the questions that I’ve been asking Greg are the ones I feel
          hurt the mythicists’ theory. It’s not the first time I’ve heard a
          conspiracy theorist make his case using the very evidence that would
          appear to suggest the exact opposite.

          Conspiracy theorist? You don’t understand the Jesus Myth theory. There’s one guy who thinks it’s a conspiracy set up by the Romans but most people who believe Jesus is a myth do not believe anything like that.

          I’m not sure if Mark was a believer or not. He may have written the story knowing it was fiction but not intending for people to take it so seriously.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          An interesting argument, but you’re going down a different path from where I am. The idea of there being deliberate confusion–“I know that this is false, but I’m going to make up a story anyway”–isn’t what I’m arguing.

          More likely than some variation of the smoky back room where some deliberate deception is hatched is that we have a combination of innocent drift as the story passes from person to person and a deliberate literary embellishment (the “fulfilled” prophecies, for example) that supports what the author thinks is true.

        • http://batman-news.com Anton

          Okay. I just see enough deliberate tinkering in the canonical NT already to wonder what kept the tinkerers from doing so in a way that better helped their cause, i.e. establishing the historicity of Jesus.

          Every hotel room Bible has letters supposedly penned by Peter, wherein he describes being present at the Transfiguration. There are a few Pauline epistles that no serious Bible scholar believes Paul himself wrote. The church had no problem adding endings to the Gospel of Mark, which originally closed with the empty tomb. I’m just wondering why the same editors wouldn’t have tried to make a more emphatic case for Jesus having lived, if there were truly any question as to the historicity of Christ among the early Christians.

        • Pofarmer

          Could it simply be that the letters of Paul were widely enough distributed that it was hard to touch them up in such a manner? It’s hard to add new information to a story that’s pretty well set in stone. But, you can write a new tale and put in whatever you want. I mean, who’s to say the Jesus story didn’t start out like some American myths. Paul Bunyan, Casey at the Bat, crud, the black dude that drove railroad spikes. Why couldn’t it have started out as a story to explain the destruction of the temple that got out of hand?

        • Pofarmer

          Also, remember that Christianity was still a pretty small movement in 100 A.D. Maybe the later Authors were trying to sex it up a bit.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          (John Henry)

        • Pofarmer

          There ya go!!!!!

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          This will be an incomplete response. Remember my suggestion that Peter’s embarrassing denials of Jesus wouldn’t be embarrassing at all if the original author was a Paul supporter who wanted to take Peter down a notch to help out his side. Any subsequent authors who used Mark as a source couldn’t drop a popular story, whether or not they preferred Paul.

          You’re asking why, since historicity is vitally important, the early authors didn’t help bolster that claim. Not a problem if, from their perspective, historicity didn’t much matter.

        • Jim Jones

          >I’m just wondering why the same editors wouldn’t have tried to make a more emphatic case for Jesus having lived

          Why didn’t L Ron Hubbard make Scientology less batshit crazy? He wrote the whole thing, start to finish and could do as he wished. He also revised it several times. And then there’s Joseph Smith.

          Apparently crap sells OK.

        • Pofarmer

          It’s interesting that you mention Joseph Smith. We know that Joseph Smith lived and we know that he was the head of the Mormon Church while he was alive. We also know that it’s completely fabricated. But, we also have Joseph Smith’s own writings. We KNOW that he had the book of Mormon transcribed personally. There are contemporary accounts and records of him. It’s interesting to me that for Jesus, nothing of a similar nature was apparently saved. Now, perhaps, if it had been written before the Jewish rebellion, and all of the various Gospels and Epistles are written after, there was originally something and it was lost, but there’s no way to know. Why wouldn’t some of the local Church’s have had copies of the stuff Jesus wrote? After all the jews were literate and had scribes. Yes, I realize that the Christian movement would have been very, very small in the 1st century, but why wouldn’t it have grown from original documents that were saved, vs 2nd hand accounts 60 or more years later?

        • Jim Jones

          Wouldn’t someone have jotted down what day and year he was born? Or what year he died? The gospels have different days for death as well. So like comic books.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          (oops–that comment was meant for someone else.)

        • Jim Jones

          >However, the questions that I’ve been asking Greg are the ones I feel hurt the mythicists’ theory.

          You’re trying to apply rationality to the irrational.

        • Pofarmer

          I really think what disproves the divine aspects of Jesus is #1 commons sense. All the Roman Emperors were considered divine, for instance. #2 the fact that the whole apocalypse thingy within their lifetimes or the lifetimes of their followers, didn’t happen.

        • Greg G.

          I think it shows that the myths, epistles, and gospels aren’t what we’d
          expect to see if Jesus never existed and there was a deliberate effort
          to establish a real Jesus.

          Really? Paul laments in 1 Corinthians 1:22-23 that “Jews demand signs and Greeks desire wisdom” but he “preached Christ crucified” because he didn’t know anything about Jesus teachings and miracles. All he knows about Jesus is what he seems to have read in out-of-context scripture verses which he concludes Jesus had been betrayed, crucified, resurrected, and was coming back soon. None of the other early epistles talk about knowing Jesus as a living companion.

          The source from nearly every passage in Mark can be identified as coming from the Greek, Hebrew or Christian literature of the day. The other gospels use Mark’s material.

          The Bible scholars have conjured criteria to defend their assumption of a historical Jesus:
          Criterion of Dissimilarity: as if no other leader could think up something new.
          Criterion of Embarrassment: as it early ideas wouldn’t become embarrassing later.
          Criterion of Multiple Attestation: they assume the writings are independent.
          Criterion of “Aramaisms”: as if no early Christians knew Aramaic.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          “Criterion of Embarrassment”: my favorite example is that of Peter’s denials of Jesus. Pretty embarrassing to show Peter this way, right?

          But not so much if you don’t care for Peter!

        • http://batman-news.com Anton

          None of the other early epistles talk about knowing Jesus as a living companion.

          Right. And this persuades you that they were deliberately trying to convince people that not-real Jesus actually lived? Wouldn’t we expect that a lot of the NT canon would be made up of accounts of people who claim to have met Jesus, not second or third hand accounts?

          Do you get my point, Greg?

        • Greg G.

          No, the early epistles writers did not believe Jesus was a first century character. They were reading scripture out-of-context thinking they had discovered a new way to determine truth. They thought they were discovering long hidden mysteries and the fact that they were suddenly being revealed to them was an indication that the long-awaited Messiah was on his way.

          See Romans 16:25-27; 1 Corinthians 2:6-9; Ephesians 3:3-9.

          Nobody thought there was a first century Jesus until Mark’s gospel, perhaps shortly before, depending on whether Mark was a believer and not writing a story to be a performance.

        • http://batman-news.com Anton

          Greg, once again it doesn’t seem like you even understand the point I’m making.

          If Jesus never existed and there was subsequently a systematic, deliberate, corporate effort to establish his existence, wouldn’t we expect the church to have gone to more pains to present Paul as an eyewitness? They had some later writer pen a letter that was supposedly by illiterate fisherman Peter, “testifying” that the Transfiguration took place. In light of this, what kept them from amending Paul’s letters (or forging new ones) that talked about Paul actually meeting the man?

          What good would it have done this grand conspiracy to go with the story that the greatest shill who ever lived never met the person whose praises he sang throughout the Middle East?

        • Greg G.

          If Jesus never existed and there was subsequently a systematic,
          deliberate, corporate effort to establish his existence, wouldn’t we
          expect the church to have gone to more pains to present Paul as an
          eyewitness?

          What does that have to do with Christ Myth Theory? That’s more like Christ Myth Conspiracy Theory.

          The Jews in the early first century expected the Messiah to take back David’s throne. The early first century Christians thought that as well, but they also thought Jesus was crucified in the deep past and the story was hidden in the context of the scriptures. They read Psalm 41:9 and Isaiah 53 as history that Jesus was betrayed and crucified. Paul thought it meant that following the OT law was unnecessary while the Jerusalem based group were still pretty much Jewish.

          They never tried to convince anyone that they ran around with Jesus. A generation later and after Jerusalem was destroyed, Mark was written and that generation of Christians believed took it seriously. They had no way to know whether it was historical.

          By the time the church arose as an organization, their believers already accepted Jesus as a first century person. They were concentrating on other styles of Christian belief systems.

          Matthew took Mark seriously but he was pretty gullible, too. He seems to have taken Galatians 5:12, where Paul sarcastically wished the circumcisers would go the whole way and emasculate themselves, and had Jesus saying that people should become eunuchs.

          There was no need for a conspiracy. New religions pop up all the time. The same people who believed Moses and Abraham were real, also took Jesus as real.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          I’m sure you’ve read that half of the “Pauline” epistles were written by someone else. I think the pseudepigraphy within the Petrine epistles is even more dramatic. Someone added the last chapter to John (and more). And so on.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Christianity as a mystery religion? Sounds like Mithraism, which I’ve heard might’ve influenced early Christianity quite a bit.

        • Greg G.

          Mithrasism was so secret nobody wrote about it but we can make a circumstantial case that the Eucharist came from them via Paul, which Mark borrowed from 1 Corinthians.

          Justin Martyr claimed that the Mithras cult stole the Eucharist ritual from the Christians, in the 2nd century. In the late first century,

          Justin Martyr, First Apology, Chapter 66:
          For the apostles, in the memoirs composed by them, which are called Gospels, have thus delivered unto us what was enjoined upon them; that Jesus took bread, and when He had given thanks, said, “This do ye in remembrance of Me, this is My body; “and that, after the same manner, having taken the cup and given thanks, He said, “This is My blood; “and gave it to them alone. Which the wicked devils have imitated in the mysteries of Mithras, commanding the same thing to be done. For, that bread and a cup of water are placed with certain incantations in the mystic rites of one who is being initiated, you either know or can learn.

          Plutarch wrote a biography of Pompey who lived in the mid-first century. He mentioned that the pirates in Cilicia.

          Plutarch, The Life of Pompey, Chapter 24: (first sentence)
          The power of the pirates had its seat in Cilicia at first, and at the outset it was venturesome and elusive; but it took on confidence and boldness during the Mithridatic war, because it lent itself to the king’s service.

          (last sentence)
          They also offered strange sacrifices of their own at Olympus, and celebrated there certain secret rites, among which those of Mithras continue to the present time, having been first instituted by them.

          Cilicia was a major city in Tarsus, as in Paul/Saul of Tarsus.

          Galatians 1:21 Then I went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia,

          Paul could have added

          Psalm 41:9
          Even my bosom friend in whom I trusted,
          who ate of my bread, has lifted the heel against me.

          to end up with 1 Corinthians 11:23-26.

          Mark likely borrowed that passage to create Mark 14:22-25.

        • Pofarmer

          Good Lord Man, how have you gathered all this stuff?

          Also, FWIW, wasn’t Mithraism mainly a military religion/cult?

        • Greg G.

          Good Lord Man, how have you gathered all this stuff?

          I was on acid on a beach in Morocco… Wait, I was channeling Brother Jed on how he found God.

          I had read Friedman when his book first went to paperback years ago. About 5 or 6 years ago on talk.origins I said something about the book that wasn’t quite right and someone pointed out my error. So I read Friedman’s latest version again. Then I started reading lots of Ehrman books. Then it was Burton Mack and Randel Helms. I read some Robert Price and Richard Carrier from before they became Jesus Mythers. I’m not sure when I was first exposed to the Jesus Myth Theory but I didn’t buy it at first. Then I was open-minded.

          I started watching TruthSurge on YouTube and his Excavating the Empty Tomb series. I think it lasted a couple of years, about one 10 minute video per month. We debated some of his ideas.

          During that time, I was learning more about it from articles by Price and Carrier as they were apparently changing their position.

          When I read Ehrman’s Did Jesus Exist?, I was amazed how thin the evidence for Jesus actually was and began to doubt the experts who said there was a Minimal Jesus.

          Then I read Doherty’s The Jesus Myth and saw that Ehrman’s arguments against him didn’t hold up and Doherty had better arguments.

          Then I got Price’s The Christ Myth Theory and Its Problems. Here’s the bulk of the book. The book includes the relevant Bible verses.

          I had read reviews of Dennis McDonald’s book on the Homeric origins of Mark (exact title slips my mind even though I read it recently).

          I been finding some interesting things here. It’s a collection of skeptical commentary on Mark, but not Myth Theory.

          Some things I’m finding on my own are that the biggest gaps at Price’s page are Gospel of Thomas sayings. There are several Markan passages that seem to come from Romans, 1 Corinthians, and Galatians but none that come from other epistles. Thomas has several sayings that come from the same three Pauline epistles plus a few from the Epistle of James. I think this is an indication that both were written when those three Pauline epistles were in circulation but before the others were being traded around. That would mean that the Gospel of Thomas was used by Matthew and Luke for certain and disrupts the simplicity of just Q and Mark as many things attributed to Q are found in Thomas.

          So if Mark and Thomas are from around the same time, which came first? I think Mark 12:1-12 can settle it. The passage is a combination of Isaiah 5:1-7 and Thomas 65 and an extra couple lines of the Psalm used in Thomas 66. Mark seems to be very good at combining various sources but it seems less likely that the author of Thomas could surgically remove only the Isaiah details and metaphor.

          Also, FWIW, wasn’t Mithraism mainly a military religion/cult?

          I think that is the general consensus. I think most of the best knowledge on it conjecture from images and text from their opponents.

        • http://batman-news.com Anton

          I’ve heard enough “alternative” theories about history and science that the Jesus Myth theory makes my skeptic alarms go off long and loud. The general idea of Jesus never having existed has been around for centuries, and scholars have never been keen on the idea. The way people tout the work of Carrier and Price over the consensus of historians reminds me of the cult of the amateur that pretends that anyone is qualified to make pronouncements about specialized disciplines. The fact that this debate is taking place mostly in the YouTube community and on message boards, rather than in academia, gives me the impression that the theorists know they need an audience without the education to give their claims the scrutiny it deserves.

        • Greg G.

          I know what you mean. Back when I was in the service, I was a creationist believer. I started reading some books on evolution expecting to see the funny statements evolutionists make. Instead I discovered their methods for coming to their conclusions. I even found some quotemines in context and saw the creationist authors were pulling my leg. If they couldn’t tell me the truth about things that could be found out, how could I trust them about things they couldn’t possibly know? I disposed of my faith soon after.

          When I went to college, I learned the methods used by scientists and mathematicians and could understand them. I have read enough history and have understood their methods. They are reasonable.

          Now I have had a look at the methods of Jesus scholars and they appear to be designed to support the assumption of the historical Jesus. Most have never seriously looked at the question and they accept because of the consensus of other scholars.

          Most of them accept the Minimal Jesus of the gospels while rejecting the miracle stories. But the epistles don’t support that. Jesus is supposed to be so dynamic that they imagined he had been resurrected. Why don’t we see anything about that in the epistles?

        • http://batman-news.com Anton

          I have had a look at the methods of Jesus scholars and they appear to be designed to support the assumption of the historical Jesus. Most have never seriously looked at the question and they accept because of the consensus of other scholars.

          You can’t deny that the Jesus Myth has been around in one form or another for centuries. Of course its current adherents accuse historians (believers and nonbelievers) of being biased against the no-Jesus hypothesis. Could it conceivably be that they’re just not persuaded by the evidence you’re willing to accept, like the YouTube videos and the work of internet celebrities like Carrier?

        • Pofarmer

          I dunno, it’s hard to deny that vast majority of new testament and jesus scholars have also been theists and rather invested in their particular theories.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          What’s particularly offensive is Creationists quoting Darwin out of context.

          For better or worse, Darwin’s style was to build up the problem (of the eye, of human morality, etc.) and then show how his theory resolved the riddle.

          It was child’s play for liars to quote just the first part and omit the punch line.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Let’s not paint this with the Intelligent Design brush.

          I’m sure that the scholars who advance the Christ Myth theory are quite happy to have their work evaluated by other qualified scholars. In fact, you may have seen a recent Richard Carrier post where he strongly advised amateurs (like me) to avoid the argument. I had anticipated his points, so this wasn’t new to me, but my point is that Carrier himself argues that this is not an effective counter-apologetic argument.

        • http://batman-news.com Anton

          Let’s not paint this with the Intelligent Design brush.

          Gotta admit, I see the same sort of beast.

          The way people tout Carrier and Price and dismiss the rest of the relevant experts on this issue is the same treatment Behe got when he first came out with his “paradigm-shattering” research. People here under the mythicists’ spell have accused mainstream historians of bias and ignorance, and that seems part and parcel of conspiracism and internet hoaxery. Just as it’s relevant to point out that the vast majority of biologists subscribe to the evolutionary theory, it’s relevant to point out that the Historical Jesus theory is accepted by scholars of various backgrounds and philosophical stripes, while the Jesus Myth theory seems to appeal almost entirely to agenda-driven amateurs.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          The way people tout Carrier and Price and dismiss the rest of the relevant experts on this issue

          You can rend your garments about others acting this way. I don’t.

          the Jesus Myth theory seems to appeal almost entirely to agenda-driven amateurs.

          And I’m happy to let the academy fight it out.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Thanks for the bibliography.

          Who is “Friedman”? I found Charles Freeman (A.D. 381: Heretics, Pagans, and the Dawn of the Monotheistic State). I’m guessing that’s not the one.

        • Greg G.

          That’s Richard Elliott Friedman who wrote Who Wrote the Bible? on the writing of the Old Testament.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Gotcha.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          I’ll add Mark 4:10-12:

          When he was alone, the Twelve and the others around him asked him about the parables. He told them, “The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you. But to those on the outside everything is said in parables so that, ‘they may be ever seeing but never perceiving, and ever hearing but never understanding; otherwise they might turn and be forgiven!’

        • Greg G.

          Yes! I think Mark borrowed the 1 Corinthians 2:6-8 passage to give to Jesus. The Gospel of Thomas borrowed the same from Paul to have Jesus say it Saying 62a.

        • JohnH2

          Greg G. Your assertion as to the nature of 1 Corinthians doesn’t seem to stand up to what Paul is saying in context.

        • Greg G.

          Paul was trying to put a positive spin on the problem. In light of what he wrote nine chapters later (1 Corinthians 9:19-23), I’m pretty sure he would have preached signs and wisdom if he had any.

        • Jim Jones

          >But pointing out that the early church made stuff up doesn’t mean Jesus was a fictional character either.

          The Superman stories are all made up (I assume). Do you doubt he is fictional? Batman? The Hulk?

        • http://batman-news.com Anton

          The Superman stories are all made up (I assume). Do you doubt he is fictional? Batman? The Hulk?

          I just meant that we make up stories about people who actually existed too. Do you really think George Washington chopped down that cherry tree?

        • Jim Jones

          How do you know which is which without external knowledge?

        • http://batman-news.com Anton

          How do you know which is which without external knowledge?

          You never explained any method for discerning whether myths are being told about a real person or whether the figure itself is wholly fictional. No one doubts that Superman is fictional, and no one doubts that George Washington lived. Since there is scant historical or archaeological evidence of Jesus’s existence, there’s no such simple way to distinguish between stories about a real person and stories about a fictional being.

        • Pofarmer

          Take it down to the core of the story. Look at the book of Mark, for instance. Jesus doesn’t become “Son of God” until is baptisms. All early Israelite kings were considered sons of God at their coronation. Then look at a book like Randal Helms “Gospel Mysteries”. As Greg G. has pointed out, nearly every miracle accredited to Jesus is a repeat of an earlier miracle in the old Testament. The two Birth stories diverge. The death and resurrection stories diverge. Even the Sermon on the mount has themes that are based in the Greek Septuagint but not the Hebrew Pentateuch. We have no writings, no records. So, where is the core charachter? All we have is someone who was written about? And before you say “Who would follow something like that. Look at cosplayers, trekkies, and similar groups. .

        • Greg G.

          There’s the complete lack of contemporary evidence. Then there is the evidence that the Jesus character was created from other literature.

          Nearly every passage in Mark can be traced to Greek literature, mostly The Odyssey and The Iliad, Hebrew literature, such as various OT books, and then-current Christian literature, specifically Romans, 1 Corinthians, Galatians, and the Gospel of Thomas.

          The first 10 chapters follow The Odyssey traveling around the Sea of Galilee while the last 6 chapters have the Passion story following The Iliad. There are three major characters besides Jesus – Peter, James, and John – the three “pillars” mentioned in Galatians.

          The dialogue is strategically transvalued from the sources so that Jesus speaks the ideas of the most powerful or wisest character or the speech of a fearful character is changed to a calm, brave speech.

          The early epistles don’t know anything about Jesus that doesn’t come from the OT scripture. Some verses that seem like they might be about a real person only work when the fiction-based gospels are read back into it.

          There may have been preachers named Jesus who got crucified but neither the epistles nor the gospels are about them. The epistles and gospels stories are based on literary stories.

          The history of Christianity from the second century is based on the writings. It wouldn’t matter whether there was any truth in them at that point.

        • http://batman-news.com Anton

          Nearly every passage in Mark can be traced to Greek literature, mostly The Odyssey and TheIliad, Hebrew literature, such as various OT books, and then-current
          Christian literature, specifically Romans, 1 Corinthians, Galatians, andthe Gospel of Thomas.

          The first 10 chapters follow The Odyssey traveling around the Sea of Galilee while the last 6 chapters have the Passion story following The Iliad. There are three major characters besides Jesus – Peter, James, and John – the three “pillars” mentioned in Galatians.

          That’s a nice story, Greg.

        • Greg G.

          I should add that Dennis R. McDonald makes the case for the Homeric origins of Mark. He does not subscibe to the Jesus Myth Theory and as far as I know is a Christian.

        • Greg G.

          Do you at least now understand that the Christ Myth Theory is not about a deliberate process?

        • MNb

          What I understand is that it’s all speculation without evidence. What I also understand is that once again Jesus mythologists lack skepticism – you don’t ask how exactly, if we assume it’s all correct (which is yet unproven), this proves a mythical Jesus instead of a historical one with a lot of myths attached. This is the consensus among scholars.
          In other words the methodology you use here is very similar to Ken Ham’s “biology”.
          It’s thoroughly antiscientific not to rigorously make clear which hard facts are explained better by a made up Jesus than by a historical Jesus and to neglect all the possible problems a mythical Jesus gives us.
          In fact I’d go as far that Jesus mythologists treat the Bible as much as a special case as the most bigot christian does. They never apply their “method” to Socrates and Diogenes of Sinope. It’s easy to understand why: then they would have to argue these characters are mythical as well.
          As long as Jesusmythologists are that fond of ad hoc arguments like these nobody who respects scientific skepticism should accept them.

        • Greg G.

          Well, there is textual evidence. It’s the same evidence that is used for the historical Jesus without first assuming the historical.

          Nearly every passage in Mark can be shown to be drawn on some of the most popular works of the day. It’s not based on historical data. The early epistles only talk about a crucified Jesus but seem to think it happened in the deep past and the only way they know about it is from out-of-context scripture. There’s no evidence for a real Jesus there. Everything else Christian seems to come from those and maybe the Gospel of Thomas which is deemed to be Gnostic.

          What’s the difference between a myth with lots of myths added on and a real person with lots of myths added on? You can look the evidence that the information was coming from centuries old documents rather than directly from first century sources. We see many disputes between the Jerusalem apostles and Paul but never a question of when Jesus was crucified nor anything he said or did. Neither do they quote him.

          The early 2nd century had lots of Jesus religions with many that didn’t believe in a flesh and blood Jesus and some that didn’t believe in a historical Jesus. Those that did believe in a historical Jesus were in no position to know whether he lived less than a hundred years ago or more than a thousand, or at all. From that point, Jesus as the epistle myth explains the diversity of Christianity better than Jesus as a historical person. After that period, one doesn’t explain the history of the religion better than the other because all they knew was what they read in the papers.

          The only way to get a historical Jesus out of the evidence is to read Markan fiction back into the epistles. That is Ken Ham methodology.

          Whether or not Socrates existed is barely relevant. The ideas attributed to him stand or fall on their own merits, not from the authority of Socrates. Whether Shakespeare wrote the plays with his name on them hardly matters as the impact they have made on our culture is still great. Their impact on the world is the same whether we can know whether they wrote what was attributed to them. Was Ned Ludd a historical person? If his historicity couldn’t be established when his named was used for a social movement based on an event that supposedly happened barely thirty years before, why think that late first century Christians could establish the existence of someone who supposedly lived more than forty years before in a city that had been destroyed?

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Have you read much on the Christ Myth theory? (I haven’t.)

        • Jim Jones

          My point exactly. Given that, mythic Jesus is the most economical choice.

        • MNb

          Which shows you understand about as much of history of Antiquity as Ken Ham of biology.

        • Jim Jones

          Why can’t you reason from facts?

        • MNb

          Which facts? Jesusmythologists tend to be rather selective about them, you see. It’s also remarkable how you a priori know which conclusion to arrive at by using reason – that alone is not reasonable but Ken Ham like.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          But you argue that Jesus was a historical figure?

          If the evidence supporting such a claim is “scant,” why not conclude that the Jesus hypothesis, regardless of whatever other pleasing attributes it might have, has insufficient evidence to accept?

        • MNb

          Because that runs into a few even more serious problems. Jesusmythologists have to answer the questions (but hardly ever do) what exactly triggered the origin of christianity and why Paulus and the authors of the Gospels decided to pull a fictional character out of their big fat thumbs. Instead picking one of the many messias claimants walking around in Palestina, first half of the First Century, would have been a lot easier. Then Jesusmythologists have to explain where the Q-document came from and why there aren’t many more differences between the Gospels. And why should Polycarpus of Smyrna claim that he was a pupil of one of the Gospels?
          Of course there are answers possible, but there is exactly zero evidence for them either. Moreover these answers tend to result in conspiracy theories. I don’t know about you, but I like anti-christian conspiracy theories as little as anti-atheist ones. Finally almost all answers Jesusmythologists actually do provide do apply to a historical Jesus as well. It was common for the Ancient writers to attach all kind of myths to historical figures. See for instance Julius Caesars and his Cilician pirates.
          Let’s not forget your favourite maxime either: there is consensus among scholars that Jesus was historical. The only dissidents who are also pro’s are Richard Carrier and Earl Doherty. Even with them it’s striking how skeptical they are towards consensus and how unskeptical towards their own theories. That alone should be a red flag.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          We’re talking about different things. Anton said, “Since there is scant historical or archaeological evidence of Jesus’s existence…” My response: if we have poor evidence of the supernatural claims of Jesus, why not reject them?

          Maybe that wasn’t clear.

          Let’s not forget your favourite maxime either: there is consensus among scholars that Jesus was historical.

          My “favorite maxim” applies only in the domains of science and history. I’m happy to accept the consensus of a group of religious scholars about what their particular beliefs are, but “religious scholars” must pull together disparate people who agree about very little. Yes, there might be a consensus of New Testament scholars about Jesus, but that’s like asking “Does Jesus exist?” to a group of Jesus believers.

          The only dissidents who are also pro’s are Richard Carrier and Earl Doherty.

          Robert Price has also written on the Christ Myth theory. He has two relevant doctorates, so I’d call him a pro as well.

        • http://batman-news.com Anton

          We’re talking about different things. Anton said, “Since there is scant historical or archaeological evidence of Jesus’s existence…” My response: if we have poor evidence of the supernatural claims of Jesus, why not reject them?

          So we’re talking about different things as well. You seem to have heard me say evidence of Jesus’s existence, then you turned around to the kid next to you and said evidence of the supernatural claims of Jesus. Big difference there.

          We have no archaeological evidence of Jesus’s existence, but there’s plenty of textual references to a flesh-and-blood Jesus. The Gospels are chock full of clues to a deliberate adaptation process by which the biography of some podunk rabbi acquired all sorts of references to Jewish kings as well as Mediterranean deities. I’m not persuaded by the elaborate, vague Christ Myth theory.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          I’m still trying to get more about this point:

          Since there is scant historical or archaeological evidence of Jesus’s existence, there’s no such simple way to distinguish between stories about a real person and stories about a fictional being.

          Is there then some other category of evidence that makes supernatural Jesus a plausible conclusion for you? Given this statement, I’d conclude that you must have insufficient evidence to conclude that Jesus was divine, but apparently that conclusion is wrong.

        • http://batman-news.com Anton

          Bob, I never said supernatural Jesus was plausible. What I said was I consider it plausible that Jesus the guy from Galilee existed, around whose biography many myths accrued.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Sounds right to me. So where do we differ?

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          So then we agree?

          What role does the supernatural have in your worldview?

        • http://batman-news.com Anton

          So then we agree?

          If you’re saying that there’s enough circumstantial evidence to establish that it’s not unreasonable to believe Jesus the flesh-and-blood rabbi existed, I agree. There should be some reasonable basis for such historical research. The myths that accrued around his biography aren’t what we expect historical research to validate.

          What role does the supernatural have in your worldview?

          None. I’ve never mentioned the supernatural, the resurrection, any miracles or omens whatsoever.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          How does your position differ from mine?

        • MNb

          Neither am I, far from it. One point I have forgotten is the Principle of Embarrassment. Atheists like me like to point out how Jesus’ prophecy that he would come back within a few decades hasn’t come true. The theology around it is a typical case of cognitive dissonance.
          The authors of the Gospels were aware of the problem. The first preserved fragments were not written before 100 CE. Now if the authors had entirely made up the character, why would they have noted down the prediction? It puts their hero and thus themselves in a bad light. Part of Jesusmythology is that christian copiists have fabricated the two (in)famous quotes of Flavius Josephus. Then why haven’t they done that with this prophecy in the Gospels?
          There is only one possible explanation. Jesus actually made that prophecy and hence is historical. The authors knew about it.
          Like I wrote elsewhere in this thread: it’s typical that Jesusmythologists prefer to ignore points like these. It means that they are pseudoscientists.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          The other explanation is that aspects of the gospel story that might seem embarrassing to us were too beloved to omit.

          And, just because they seem embarrassing to us doesn’t mean that they did back then. Heck, try to get a serious believer today to admit that it’s embarrassing. Many have clever (or ridiculous) rationalizations about why it all makes perfect sense.

      • Greg G.

        The verses that prophesy David’s seed on the throne are Psalm 89:3-4; Psalm 89:34-37; Psalm 110:1; Psalm 132:11; Isaiah 9:6-7; 2 Samuel 7:1-17; Ezekiel 21:26-27; and Jeremiah 33:14-17. The last one or two are prophecies made after the throne was taken away. You could probably throw in Daniel 7:13-14.

        Are you thinking of pesher?

        No, I’m thinking of 1 Thessalonians 4:17 “Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up in the clouds together with them to meet the Lord in the air; and so we will be with the Lord forever.” That verse seems to go back to Daniel 7:13.

        That does sound plausible, though you’d think that God would have a strong cause-and-effect link. 40 years is a pretty loose link.

        Yes, but the story was written shortly after the destruction of the city so it would be new and fresh to those who heard it. Remember the fig tree curse/Temple tantrum/tree withered/fill in the blank. That sequence may be a chiasmus pair with the healing of the withered hand in March 3:1-5, which was inspired by 1 Kings 13:4-6.

        The end of 1 Kings 12 through the early part of 1 Kings 13 seems to be the inspiration of the Call of Levi, but in reverse. In the Old Testament, the northern tribes are appointing priests who are not Levites while Mark 2 has Levi becoming a disciple.

  • Pofarmer

    Isn’t the other possibility that the whole story started out in pretty much final form? We can figure out that the Virgin birth was added later. We know that the crucifixion story is pretty much original, albeit different in all four gospels. Not sure now, exactly the differences in all four Gospels. So, basically, you have a story of a Jewish Rabbi teaching about love, and the end of the world as we know it, who managed to get himself executed. Some time later the Apostle Paul has a vision on the road to Damascus. Some time later than that, he goes to Jerusalem to see a couple of the original disciples. So, I think, that Paul thinks that Jesus is resurrected in “Heaven”. Because, remember, the Ancient jews believed that we all died, and went to Sheol or wherever, and we would be bodily resurrected some time in the future. The Gospel Authors then took this resurrection into heaven story, which is what Paul is saying, and made it into a physical resurrection back into living flesh for whatever reason. This is rather seen that even the Appearance and Ascension stories are different in the different Gospels. So, what if what you have is the Gospel writers trying to make up an inclusive religion of love but with enough supernatural stuff built in to compete with the existing deities and “House gods:”, loosely based on the teachings of Paul?

    • Pofarmer

      So, what if there wasn’t really a crucifixion? What if there was this Jewish Rabbi named Jesus that died(not a stretch) and Paul saw the whole risen from the dead thing and decided that he must have been crucified because he had a vision of the “Messiah”. Then at some point the crucifixion thing gets added in as additional filler. I think that you can’t just say “telephone” when there is the possibility that there was intentional tampering with the message/story to make it more “believable” in the times it was being told. I think it is hard to underestimate how superstitious folks were at the time, and if we look at it through a modern lens, what would be a reasonable story now, is not particularly what would have been a “Reasonable” god story then. Then this whole thing gets transmitted down through the ages as fact, reinforced by death of disassociation if you don’t believe it.

      • Greg G.

        Many Jewish sects expected a Messiah to come to fulfill the prophecies of David’s seed being on the throne. Paul talks about the crucifixion from the beginning and was expecting the Messiah to return in his lifetime. He seems to be in agreement with the Jerusalem early Christians on that point but they disagree on whether it was necessary to maintain OT law. There is nothing in the early Christian writings about a teacher or preacher or miracle worker. So first the resurrection idea was invented and the idea about an early first century Jesus was tacked on later.

        • Pofarmer

          So then in that scenario, the Messiah’s death could/would have been at any unspecified time in the past. So, if there was another group of Apocalyptists in Jerusalem preaching a similar message, that the Messiah was coming, then Pauls trip would have been simply to try to get everyone on the same page?

        • Greg G.

          No, Paul was on his own page. The Jerusalem guys insisted that Christians should follow the OT law. Paul disagreed.

        • Pofarmer

          So, I guess with the whole “tent floating down scene” that Peter came into concordance with Paul? Convenient that.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Yes, Paul’s story floats in time, like a myth. Then with Mark, you attach it to history with Pilate and Caiaphas. Then with Matthew, you add Herod (and Luke, Quirinius and others).

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

        You’re talking about deliberate vs. inadvertent modification of the story. I suppose we could debate for a long time how much of the modification was contributed by each.

        • Pofarmer

          Well, I think the problem here is, that all we have early on is Paul and the Gospels. Why would it be so unbelievable that the Gospels kind of came out in full form? Hell, maybe they were a product of the followers of Paul and the other Apostles in Jerusalem trying to gain a wider audience at a time in the empire of relative religious freedom. This would be during the Pax Romana, after all, and a time when there was a lot of literature being written. How much other religious literature was being written during that time?

        • Greg G.

          I think there were some of Paul’s writings (Romans, 1 Corinthians, and Galatians) were used by Mark. Mark also used the Gospel of Thomas, which has about ten sayings based on those same three epistles, plus four from the Epistles of James. So both were produced when those three Pauline epistles were already in circulation but none of the other epistles were. You see things said in those letters attributed to Jesus.

          For example, see the argument between Paul and Peter in Galatians 2. Compare that to Mark 7:1-19. Mark put Paul’s side of the argument into Jesus’ mouth. If true, why would Peter have disagreed with Paul?

          Mark seems to be very knowledgeable about Greek literature and Greek composition techniques but less so about Hebrew literature and customs. He may not have even been a believer. They say his Greek wasn’t good, but I suspect he may have been imitating the accent of a Barbarian.

          The other gospels came much later by other writers with more Pauline epistles to work with. I’m pretty sure they were written by believers. Some think John was written as a counterpoint to the Gospel of Thomas.

          Thomas is usually dated to the 2nd century and is thought have stolen material from the gospels, but that is based on the idea that there was a real Jesus and it would take a while to develop a Gnostic belief that there was no Jesus. But if there was no Jesus in the first century, it would be more likely that a Gnostic type religion would arise first and the abstract Jesus would become historical in the minds of the next generation.

        • Pofarmer

          “Thomas is usually dated to the 2nd century and is thought have stolen
          material from the gospels, but that is based on the idea that there was a
          real Jesus and it would take a while to develop a Gnostic belief that
          there was no Jesus. But if there was no Jesus in the first century, it
          would be more likely that a Gnostic type religion would arise first and
          the abstract Jesus would become historical in the minds of the next
          generation.”

          I guess I need to study up more on the Gospel of Thomas and the Gnostics.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          That’s compelling, but do we have evidence that the Gnostic elements were there first? The Gnostic gospels that we have seem to date later than the canonical ones.

  • nardo101

    I like the idea of expressing the rate at which myth interpolates with fact as a variable depending on many factors, including the “hardness” (banality) of the facts, how verifiable they would be at each transmission event, how widely the initial facts were known, as well as the time elapsed. Take the biography of a generic Emperor; he raised taxes by “X” amount so everyone knew about him, he fought a battle with “Y” neighboring empire and was assassinated by “Z” rival politician. One would expect facts X, Y and Z to have a relatively low “mythologization rate”

    In contrast, I suspect that Jesus’ true biographical facts were:
    (1) Known to a much smaller initial group than claimed
    (2) Promulgated by believers who were motivated to “elaborate” in order to convert the person they were talking to
    (3) Difficult to verify; the Roman subjects hearing the stories were already used to absorbing religious stories into their cultural consciousness without harsh scrutiny. The vast majority were poor and had absolutely zero means to verify the information even if they wanted to

    As usual, WLC takes note of an interesting line of investigation, leaps all the way over it to an unjustified conclusion, and declares it settled in support of his favorite belief.

    • Pofarmer

      I think that’s probably closest to the reality. I think you have to think about the possibility, at least, that the story was mythologized on purpose, rather than the stories rising accidentally. Also, if the Gospels were being written in say, 90 A.D., after many had been crucified for rebellion, I think the crucifixion story at that time would have had a lot of punch to the intended audience.

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

        That’s interesting and hard to rule out. However, we know how oral history can change stories. That is so obvious and powerful an explanation that I don’t know how much room you have left for deliberate modification. Your thoughts?

        • Pofarmer

          I think the problem is that the early written record is so thin on the ground that it will be hard to ever tell. I get hot and cold on the mythicist arguments. But certainly the idea that it is all factually accurate and truly told is hogwash, as well. Without finding a bunch of 1st century manuscripts in some buried church we will probably never really know.

        • http://www.revelation4radicals.com/ radicalrevelation

          Pofarmer – about your comment above, I am not aware of the Tenth Legion using crucifixion in 70 AD when the Temple was destroyed – I think the picture painted by Josephus is more one of immediate slaughter. Is there a reference?

        • Pofarmer

          This is from Wikipedia, but I’m not sure where I originally read it.

          “Notorious mass crucifixions followed the Third Servile War in 73–71 BC (the slave rebellion under Spartacus), other Roman civil wars in the 2nd and 1st centuries BC, and the Destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. To frighten other slaves from revolting, Crassus crucified 6,000 of Spartacus’ men along the Appian Way from Capua to Rome.[77] Josephus tells a story of the Romans crucifying people along the walls of Jerusalem. He also says that the Roman soldiers would amuse themselves by crucifying criminals in different positions. In Roman-style crucifixion, the condemned could take up to a few days to die. The dead body was left up for vultures and other birds to consume.”

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      Yes, that’s a good comparison of stories about a public vs. a private individual.

  • Rod Fleming

    It is absolutely demonstrable, at every point in the Biblical Jesus myth (including the many conflicting accounts of the same events) that every detail was assimilated from another, pre-existing mythology. This was so obvious that Craig’s forerunner, Justin Martyr, was forced to opine that these prior stories had been invented by devils who knew Jesus was coming, in order to deceive. Craig’s pontifications, all based on his absolute need to prove, by rhetoric and semantics, that for which there is ABSOLUTELY ZERO historical or archaeological evidence, are absolutely valueless in any real terms. Craig makes a lot of money out of pandering to ignorance, which also makes him a charlatan.

    The final nail in the coffin is that there are numerous other characters very similar to Jesus, for example Simon Magus, who also had highly evolved mythologies surrounding them, developed in their own lifetimes. No need to wait till after Jesus –if he ever lived–died, the propaganda machine was in operation long before, painting Jesus as answering the many Judaic Messianic prophecies (midrashes), in order to persuade the Jewish population, and adopting standard elements of Greek mythology to persuade the Hellenised populations in the area.

    The ‘Chinese Whispers’ argument is not widely considered simply because we know where the Jesus propaganda came from. It’s not a mystery. It’s not a question of the story being altered after Jesus (alleged) death, this propaganda was applied to him DURING HIS (alleged) LIFE and was, if he lived, probably a major reason for his execution by the Romans.

    Sunday-school rhetoricians like Craig absolutely depend on a lack of knowledge, on the part of their audience, of the socio-political conditions prevalent in Judah and Galilee at the time Jesus is alleged to have lived. As soon as one has a decent understanding of this, the propagandic nature of the Jesus story is obvious.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      The ‘Chinese Whispers’ argument is not widely considered simply because we know where the Jesus propaganda came from.

      Well, yes and no. I don’t understand the many other sources well enough to grasp this idea as you may well do, but it makes a lot of sense. One biggie, for example, is that Luke pulled many of his stories from Josephus.

      But there still is room for the telephone game. Say that there are 10,000 available stories or ideas floating around in the Ancient Near East. The gospel story doesn’t use every one. So by what process did a small subset of ideas get picked and rearranged to become the gospel story? (1) Through deliberate selection by the author of a gospel and (2) through oral history, where bits are added or dropped by someone repeating a story, either by forgetfulness or error, or because the new story is simply a better story.

      If the story didn’t have a rising-from-the-dead element, it might’ve picked that up when it went through a community of converts from Dionysus worship, for example.

      Another interesting question is what drives Wm. Craig, Lee Strobel, and the other guys. Do they have any pangs where they wonder if they their stories are evidence-based, for example?

      • Pofarmer

        “Another interesting question is what drives Wm. Craig, Lee Strobel, and
        the other guys. Do they have any pangs where they wonder if they their
        stories are evidence-based, for example?”

        I think that they probably have to have constant reinforcement to keep up the facade. I don’t know how else you could be as deep in the weeds as someone like Craig is and not know that there is a legitimate case to be made the other way.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          I’ve seen Ray Comfort get schooled frequently about the basics of biology (“No, because we don’t have croco-ducks isn’t a challenge to biology because it wouldn’t predict them”).

          That’s an instance where he must know the facts and is deliberately lying for Jesus. I’m guessing Craig isn’t lying but has used his powerful intellect to convince himself that his powerful intellect has come up with workarounds to atheists’ objections.

    • MattB

      Why do you keep claiming that Jesus “allegedly” lived when his existence is not disputed in mainstream scholarship?

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

        History isn’t science. Further, history within a religious context really isn’t science. I certainly argue that laymen like me have no grounds from which to argue that the scientific consensus is invalid. However, it don’t work that way with religious claims.

        • MattB

          Yes, history isn’t science, but what does that have to do with the Historical Jesus? A historian doesn’t really use the scientific method to recover an ancient figure or event. Is it your assertion that the overwhelming consensus of secular and religious historians on Jesus’ existence is wrong? If so, then why should we believe mythicism(psuedo-scholarship) over actual history?

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          I have no use for the Jesus Myth theory. My focus is on apologetics pro and con, and this doesn’t help.

          That said, questioning the historicity of Jesus is quite reasonable IMO.

        • MattB

          How is mythicism quite reasonable? It’s a dead theory like young-earth creationism. It was disproven by reputable scholars over a hundred years ago. There’s no good reason to doubt or deny that there was a historical Jesus of Nazareth that existed.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          You’ve read Carrier’s and Price’s work? That’s where I’d direct you if you want your question answered.

          But you already sound confident that you understand the issue well.

        • MattB

          Yes(I hope I’m not being rude here), but Carrier and Price are psuedo-scholars and I’ve seen their arguments and they aren’t nothing new.

          It’s extremeley problematic to claim that Jews would make a Messiah who would be crucified(contradiction) and pass him off as a real figure.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Pseudo-scholars? Wow–you’re either very capable to be able to evaluate their scholarship or laughably overconfident.

          They have three relevant doctorates between them. I think I’ll let them have their say.

          Sure, a crucified messiah is ridiculous. That’s one in a lo-o-ong list of ridiculous elements about Judaism/Christianity. And yet, like a drunken zombie, it still keeps coming. Or, find the same kind of perseverance in other religions. Bizarrely, logic isn’t relevant here.

        • MattB

          This is not based on my opinion. This is based on the opinion of the near unaninmous agreement of NT scholars and historians of ancient history. Just because they have a PhD doesn’t make them right. In every field of work, there’s always quacks.

          You’re missing the point here. The Messiah was supposed to be like King David and overthrow Israel’s enemies and establish God’s kingdom on earth. Jesus’ crucifixion made him look like a criminal in the eyes of Jews and Gentiles. This is a major problem for mythicists who want to say that Monotheistic Jews made a figure completely from scratch and was later historicisized.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          This is based on the opinion of the near unaninmous agreement of NT scholars and historians of ancient history.

          Yes, I’m aware of the opinion of New Testament scholars. That’s one reason I have no use for the Jesus Myth theory. On the other hand, let’s keep in mind that we’re not talking about science here. “Consensus” is a word that doesn’t serve the same purpose within religion as it does in science.

          The Messiah was supposed to be like King David

          And Jesus wasn’t, and the early Christians made the best of a bad situation. Not surprising. Happens all the time.

          The world didn’t end in 1844 (the Great Disappointment), and yet many of the disappointed soldiered on, convinced that they’d been right (in some sense) all along. Heck, Harold Camping put a positive spin on his laughable failure on May 21, 2011 and continued to say that the end was still going to be in October.

          This is a major problem for mythicists who want to say that Monotheistic Jews made a figure completely from scratch

          Made?” Who says that anyone invented Jesus? You imagine that this was a deliberate invention?

        • MattB

          Are you saying that History is a worthless field where a “Consensus” doesn’t matter?
          Ok, so you do agree that Jesus existed. Never mind then. I’m sorry for misrepresenting you.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          No, I’m not saying history is worthless.

          I don’t argue that Jesus never existed. (Sorry for the repeat, but this hasn’t seemed to have sunk in.)

        • MNb

          “This is based on the opinion of the near unaninmous agreement of NT scholars and historians of ancient history.”
          This is correct, but you forget to mention that those same historians of antiquity also see Jesus as a human being, not as the son of god. They see the Resurrection etc. as a myth indeed.
          I have not use for NT scholars – that’s giving too much credit to the book as a source of historical information.

        • wtfwjtd

          ” The Messiah was supposed to be like King David and overthrow Israel’s enemies and establish God’s kingdom on earth.”

          According to you, he didn’t, did he? Or, maybe the Messiah really IS supposed to be like this, and you just judged wrong, and are following the wrong guy.

          “This is a major problem for mythicists who want to say that Monotheistic Jews made a figure completely from scratch and was later historicisized.”

          Please, let’s be serious here. The major problem is for Christians like you, who have the monumental task of showing that not only is your “suffering servant” interpretation of the narrative correct, but that also there is any kind of truth to the resurrection story. Let’s not get side-tracked here–it’s not the life of Jesus that’s the Big Deal to Christians–it’s whether or not the resurrection narrative was an actual historical event as claimed. And demonstrating the veracity of that momentous event is squarely on your shoulders–and is a tall order indeed. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, and in the case of the resurrection we don’t have anything even approaching ordinary evidence.

        • Greg G.

          This is based on the opinion of the near unaninmous agreement of NT scholars and historians of ancient history.

          Of course you have to base it on opinion because they don’t have good evidence. the historians of ancient history rely on the NT scholars because there is no evidence outside of the New Testament. The NT scholars seem to assume the issue was settled but they can’t present a good argument for it. It’s so circular.

          Ehrman tried but his argument relies on assuming the Q source, the M source, and the L source are real, that each of them was about Jesus, and that Matthew didn’t write stuff that Luke copied, and Luke didn’t write stuff.

        • Lbj

          excellent points.

        • Greg G.

          Many Jewish sects expected the Messiah and looked for reasons to think it would occur in their own lifetimes. One sect began to read Isaiah’s Suffering Servant as history as if it was a “long hidden mystery”. The fact that this hidden history was being revealed to them was a sign that they were living at the end of the age and would see the Messiah return in power. None of the early Christians claim to have met him but they talk about him incessantly in the epistles.

          After that generation died off and Jerusalem was destroyed, the next generation of Christians began to believe that the Suffering Servant had lived in the early first century.

        • MattB

          you are correct in saying that many Jewish sects expected the Messiah, but what Pre-Christian Jewish sect expected a crucified messiah? None of them did because the Messiah was supposed to be like King David and overthrow Israel’s enemies. Jesus being crucified would have made him a criminal in the eyes of Jews and Gentiles. This is a problem for mythicists because they want us to believe that Jews would make a crucified figure from scratch, which is a logical contradiction.

        • Greg G.

          Each sect had their own beliefs that distinguished it from other sects. The sect that was to be called Christians didn’t just make up a crucified saviour, they read it in the Old Testament, such as Isaiah 53 which is often quoted. They took Isaiah 64:4, quoted in 1 Corinthians 2:9, to mean that there were hidden messages in the scriptures:

          “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard,
            nor the human heart conceived,
          what God has prepared for those who love him”

          and verse 7 shows they thought it was secret hidden wisdom.

          Here is everything Paul tells us about Jesus and where he got that information:

          Paul swears up and down that this is not the case. In Galatians 1:11-12 and Galatians 1:15-16, Paul says that he did not receive his knowledge about Jesus from any human sources (specifically stating that he did not get it from the apostles) but it came from God through revelation. In Romans 16:25-26, he says the revelation of the mystery comes from the prophetic writings, and in 1 Corinthians 2:9, he quotes Isaiah 64:4, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the human heart conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him.”

          Paul speaks of Jesus hundreds of times but seldom tells us anything about him. Below is everything he tells us.

          Past

          Descended from David > Romans 1:3, Romans 15:12 > 2 Samuel 7:12, Isaiah 11:10

          Made of woman, > Galatians 4:4 > Isaiah 7:14, Isaiah 49:5

          Made under the law > Galatians 4:4, Galatians 3:10-12* > Deuteronomy 27:26, Habakkuk 2:4, Leviticus 18:5

          Did not please himself > Romans 15:3* > Psalm 69:9

          Became a servant of the circumcised > Romans 15:8 > Isaiah 53:11

          For the Gentiles > Romans 15:9-12* > Psalm 18:49, 2 Samuel 22:50, Deuteronomy 32:43, Psalm 117:1, Isaiah 11:10

          Was betrayed > 1 Corinthians 11:23-26 > Psalm 41:9

          Took loaf of bread and wine > 1 Corinthians 11:23-26 > Psalm 41:9, Exodus 24:8, Leviticus 17:11, Isaiah 53:12 (“wine” = “blood of grapes” allusions in Genesis 49:11, Deuteronomy 32:14, Isaiah 49:26, Zechariah 9:15)

          Was crucified for sins > 1 Corinthians 2:2, 1 Corinthians 15:3, Galatians 2:20, Galatians 3:13* > Isaiah 53:12, Deuteronomy 21:23

          Was buried > 1 Corinthians 15:4 > Isaiah 53:9

          Was raised > Romans 1:4, Romans 8:34, 1 Corinthians 15:4 > Hosea 6:2, Psalm 16:10, Psalm 41:10

          Present

          Sits next to God > Romans 8:34 > Psalm 110:1, Psalm 110:5

          Intercedes > Romans 8:34 > Isaiah 53:12

          Future

          Will return > 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17, 1 Corinthians 15:51-54*, Philippians 3:20-21 > Isaiah 26:19-21, Daniel 7:11, Daniel 7:13; Daniel 12:2, Isaiah 25:8

          (* indicates that passage contains a direct quote from the Old Testament)

          So, Paul tells us he got his knowledge about Jesus from the scripture and every “fact” he tells us about Jesus can be found in scripture, sometimes in context but usually out of context as if it was a long, hidden mystery. Even a justification for looking for the mysteries can be found in Isaiah 48:3.

          3 The former things I declared long ago,
              they went out from my mouth and I made them known;
              then suddenly I did them and they came to pass.

          In 2 Corinthians 11:5-6, Paul says he is not inferior to the super-apostles in knowledge. If anyone thought other apostles had known Jesus, that statement would be absurd.

          In Galatians 1:18, Paul says he visited Cephas in Jerusalem for fifteen days, again, fourteen years later in Jerusalem, in Galatians 2:9, and met up with him in Antioch another time, in Galatians 2:11. He would certainly have known what Cephas and the others knew about Jesus.

          In 1 Corinthians 15:3-8, Paul uses the same word for his “appeared to” (optanomai) that he did for every other “appeared to” as if their revelations were no different than his own.

          Paul spent much time with Cephas and seems to think Cephas was the first person to have Jesus revealed to him in a way similar to his own revelation – through the scriptures. Apparently Cephas was not an illiterate fisherman and Jesus was constructed from the literature.

          As far as the gospels go, the others are dependent on Mark and Robert M. Price has collected the works of several scholars that have traced the sources Mark used. Individually, they make very reasonable cases but combined, they eliminate every deed as something a real person did as everything was previously done by somebody else in fiction. See New Testament Narrative as Old Testament Midrash.

          Jesus’ resurrection can easily be explained by legendary embellishment, religious experience, and writers who wanted to tell a beautiful story or to use Jesus to make their point.

          It could be that a sect of early first century Jews found a way to justify why the Messiah had taken so long – because he had already saved everybody by being crucified a long time ago – and that he was coming during their generation – because the mysteries were being revealed to them. Then after Jerusalem was destroyed, Mark wrote an allegory explaining the destruction in terms of a failed religion that only stirred it up again.

          Here are some possible sources Paul used for the Philippians Hymn:

          5 Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus,

          1 Corinthians 11:1
          Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.

          6 who, though he was in the form of God,

          Isaiah 52:14
          Just as there were many who were astonished at him
              —so marred was his appearance, beyond human semblance,
              and his form beyond that of mortals—

              did not regard equality with God

          Isaiah 9:6
          For a child has been born for us,
              a son given to us;
          authority rests upon his shoulders;
              and he is named
          Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
              Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

              as something to be exploited,

          Isaiah 53:7
          He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
              yet he did not open his mouth;
          like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
              and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
              so he did not open his mouth.

          7 but emptied himself,

          Isaiah 53:12b
          because he poured out himself to death,

              taking the form of a slave,

          Isaiah 52:13a
          “See, my servant shall prosper”

              being born in human likeness.

          Isaiah 49:5
          and now the Lord says,
              who formed me in the womb to be his servant,

          And being found in human form,

          Isaiah 53:2
          For he grew up before him like a young plant,
              and like a root out of dry ground;
          he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
              nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.

          8 he humbled himself

          Isaiah 53:3
          He was despised and rejected by others;
              a man of suffering and acquainted with infirmity;
          and as one from whom others hide their faces
              he was despised, and we held him of no account.

              and became obedient to the point of death—

          Isaiah 53:10
          Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him with pain.
          When you make his life an offering for sin,
              he shall see his offspring, and shall prolong his days;
          through him the will of the Lord shall prosper.

              even death on a cross.

          Deuteronomy 21:23 (per Galatians 3:13)
          23 his corpse must not remain all night upon the tree;
          you shall bury him that same day, for anyone hung on a
          tree is under God’s curse. You must not defile the land
          that the Lord your God is giving you for possession.

          9 Therefore God also highly exalted him

          Isaiah 53:12a
          Therefore I will allot him a portion with the great,
              and he shall divide the spoil with the strong;

              and gave him the name

          Isaiah 54:5a
          For your Maker is your husband,
              the Lord of hosts is his name;

              that is above every name,

          Isaiah 54:5b
          the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer,
              the God of the whole earth he is called.

          10 so that at the name of Jesus

          Isaiah 49:22
          Thus says the Lord God:
          I will soon lift up my hand to the nations,
              and raise my signal to the peoples;
          and they shall bring your sons in their bosom,
              and your daughters shall be carried on their shoulders.

              every knee should bend,

          Isaiah 49:23
          Kings shall be your foster fathers,
              and their queens your nursing mothers.
          With their faces to the ground they shall bow down to you,
              and lick the dust of your feet.
          Then you will know that I am the Lord;
              those who wait for me shall not be put to shame.

              in heaven and on earth and under the earth,

          Isaiah 24:21-22
          21 On that day the Lord will punish
              the host of heaven in heaven,
              and on earth the kings of the earth.
          22 They will be gathered together
              like prisoners in a pit;
          they will be shut up in a prison,
              and after many days they will be punished.

          11 and every tongue should confess

          Isaiah 49:26b
          Then all flesh shall know

              that Jesus Christ is Lord,

          Isaiah 49:26c
              that I am the Lord your Savior,

              to the glory of God the Father.

          Isaiah 49:26d
              and your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob.

        • MattB

          But you still didn’t answer my question. What Jewish sect that existed before Christ thought of a crucified Messiah, and what evidence do you have to support this? A crucified messiah was a contradiction in terms. We’re not talking about sects that existed after Christ.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          A
          crucified messiah was a contradiction in terms.

          And yet the early Christians soldiered on with that very contradiction. I guess religion is pretty flexible.

        • Greg G.

          I didn’t answer because it’s irrelevant. Paul said they were seeing “long hidden mysteries” which means he thought they were the originals. Whether he was right or wrong about that doesn’t matter. It was lost to history then and now.

          He believes Jesus came in the mythical past as a Suffering Servant because he is reading it as “long hidden mysteries”. The only way that affects his belief that Jesus will come as the Messiah is that it makes him believe it will happen in his lifetime because it was revealed during his generation. He considered it a sign.

          Maybe they preferred to think Jesus had suffered for their iniquities was better than thinking the Messiah was just sitting on his hands while generations had suffered.

          It doesn’t matter whether none or one or a dozen thought of a crucified Messiah, one of them would have to be first. There is no reason that first century sect couldn’t have been first.
          Don’t forget that these were Hellenized Jews. The noble death was an ideal for the Greeks.

        • Pofarmer

          “Don’t forget that these were Hellenized Jews. The noble death was an ideal for the Greeks.”

          I don’t think the Ancients looked at death the way we do today, either. Was it Tacitus? Who reported so many Christians wanting to be martyred that be told them to go home?

        • MattB

          It’s not irrelevant because as I said before, a crucified Messiah was a contradiction in terms(Something mythicists want us to believe). This is extremely problematic and doesn’t fit the evidence of what we know about Jewish expections regarding the Messiah. In order for a crucified Messiah to make sense, then you need to show a Jwish sect that thought of a non-Daviadic Messiah who would be crucified.

          Also,
          I’m going to respond to you about 1 Cor. 9. This passage is not being sarcastic
          at all. It is talking about rights that Christians have. Paul is asking about
          certain rights that God gives. And he uses the term “Brothers” to mean Jesus
          had siblings and nothing to do with spiritual figures.

          My question is what
          evidence is necessary in order to proves Jesus existed? You’re trying to claim
          that historians and scholars –both secular and religious haven’t produced evidence,
          yet you subscribe to a fringe viewpoint that isn’t testable by the historical
          method and disproven 100 years ago by reputable scholars. The evidence for
          Jesus is very-well document for his time

        • Greg G.

          Those who were waiting for the Messiah had been waiting for centuries. That was embarrassing, too. IIRC, there were sects that were rejecting the coming Messiah. By believing that he had already done something for them by dying for their sins, it took the sting off the embarrassment of him not showing up. But they used the revelation of the death in the ancient past as a sign that the Messiah was coming. You are trying to use an argument for why the sect arose after their leader was crucified. My argument is that Jesus never actually existed and certainly not crucified.

          1 Corinthians 9:3, 6
          3 This is my defense to those who would examine me.

          6 Or is it only Barnabas and I who have no right to refrain from working for a living?

          Paul is defending his own rights as shown in verse 3. The people he mentions apparently are being fully supported while Paul and Barnabas have to work on the side, as seen in verse 6. It is understandable that he doesn’t like that situation. He shows how sarcastic he can be in Galatians. Why wouldn’t he be sarcastic if his support was being questioned or denied?

          I was satisfied that Jesus was most likely historical until I read Did Jesus Exist? by Bart Ehrman. I expected the best case with really good arguments for the historical Jesus. I was disapointed. Then I checked a few books from the mythicist side and those arguments made sense. The biblical evidence is all too late and only tel us there were people who believed Jesus was a first century person but they were in no position to know this because they were decades too late, hundreds of miles from the supposed scene, and the supposed scene had been destroyed by war. The early epistles do not talk about the teacher or the preacher. Each of the gospels rely on stories from Mark but scholars have found the sources Mark used to create the stories. Those scholars are mostly Jesus historicists but their works, when combined, account for nearly every passage. So Mark cannot be said to be based on oral traditions because we can see how he used literary sources, which still exist. Not only does the evidence for Jesus seem to be not historical, it appears to be made up. The epistles don’t support the historical Jesus, the basis of the gospels are not historical, and there is no extra-biblical evidence.

        • David

          You might be interested in the posts over at Strange Notions this week. I’d really like to see you engage the author, an atheist who seems to hate the mythicist position with extreme prejudice.

          http://www.strangenotions.com/an-atheist-historian-examines-the-evidence-for-jesus-part-1-of-2/

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Greg has done a lot of reading on this subject–much more than me. I’ll be interested to hear any critique he has.

        • wtfwjtd

          That guy’s anti-mythic Jesus arguments seem to be pretty weak tea. I’d be a lot more interested in part 2–where he says he presents his best case for the historical Jesus.

        • Greg G.
        • Greg G.

          Thanks, David. I had a look at the page and have been thinking of replying but I’ve done things like that before and it can end up consuming lots of time. I may do it anyway when I look at Part 2.

          It seems he attacks one weak point of a book and dismisses the whole book. I don’t even think he hit the mark on Doherty either and I don’t think I agree with Doherty on that point. Doherty seems to try to reconcile several books of the NT as if they were coming from the same place. I think Hebrews might be working from a Platonic world view but I am not convinced that Paul had more than a “third heaven”.

          Some of O’Neill’s evidence for Jesus is given.

          He says Jesus was born as a human, of a human mother, and born a Jew (Galatians 4:4). [“born of a mother” can be found in Isaiah 7:14, Isaiah 49:1, Isaiah 49:5. Galatians 4:4 actually says he was born under the law which Paul explains from near the end of Galatians 2 to Galatians 4, and he cites many OT verses doing it.] He repeats that he had a “human nature” [See Isaiah 52:14] and that he was a human descendant of King David (Romans 1:3). [See 2 Samuel 7:12 and Isaiah 11:10] He refers to teachings Jesus made during his earthly ministry on divorce (1 Cor. 7:10) [“lord” here refers to God. Paul is explaining Deuteronomy 24:4 to non-Jews, so he is trying to say that God never sanctioned women divorcing. When Mark copies that into Jesus’ mouth to the disciples, that part would make no sense to them. Matthew and Luke dropped it.], on preachers (1 Cor. 9:14) [Here again, “Lord” means God and he just quoted Deuteronomy 25:4 in verse 9] and on the coming apocalypse (1 Thess. 4:15). [Nearly every thought in 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17, 1 Corinthians 15:51-54, and Philippians 3:20-21 can be found in Isaiah 26:19-21, Daniel 7:11, Daniel 7:13, Daniel 12:2, and Isaiah 25:8.] He mentions how he was executed by earthly rulers (1 Cor. 2:8) [There are a lot of centuries in an age and Paul doesn’t specify which one.] and that he died and was buried (1 Cor 15:3-4). [See Isaiah 53:5, Isaiah 53:9 and Hosea 6:2] And he says he had an earthly, physical brother called James who Paul himself had met (Galatians 1:19). [Paul is really only talking about James sarcastically. Paul opens the letter say he is not sent by humans, says James send people places, is a pillar but he expresses disdain at that, calls them part of the circumcision faction, wishes they would go all the way and emasculate themselves, is very egalitarian about slaves and masters, men and women, so he thinks James is too big for his britches and he (James) thinks of himself as a brother of the Lord. (all of that is in Galatians)]

        • MattB

          “Those who were waiting for the Messiah had been waiting for centuries. That was embarrassing, too. IIRC, there were sects that were rejecting the coming Messiah. By believing that he had already done something for them by dying for their sins, it took the sting off the embarrassment of him not showing up. But they used the revelation of the death in the ancient past as a sign that the Messiah was coming. You are trying to use an argument for why the sect arose after their leader was crucified. My argument is that Jesus never actually existed and certainly not crucified.”

          Again, What Jewish sect thought of a crucified Messiah? You keep saying there were all these sects but you don’t seem to give names or evidence tha they existed.

          “Paul is defending his own rights as shown in verse 3. The people he mentions apparently are being fully supported while Paul and Barnabas have to work on the side, as seen in verse 6. It is understandable that he doesn’t like that situation. He shows how sarcastic he can be in Galatians. Why wouldn’t he be sarcastic if his support was being questioned or denied?”

          He wasn’t being sarcastic, he was stating a point about where he gets his authority from. However, I don’t know how this is in anyway has anything to do with the Christ myth Theory. You try to claim that Jesus’ brothers aren’t really his biological brothers but that argument is extremely bad and is something you pulled out of mid-air.

          “I was satisfied that Jesus was most likely historical until I read Did Jesus Exist? by Bart Ehrman. I expected the best case with really good arguments for the historical Jesus. I was disapointed. Then I checked a few books from the mythicist side and those arguments made sense. The biblical evidence is all too late and only tel us there were people who believed Jesus was a first century person but they were in no position to know this because they were decades too late, hundreds of miles from the supposed scene, and the supposed scene had been destroyed by war. The early epistles do not talk about the teacher or the preacher. Each of the gospels rely on stories from Mark but scholars have found the sources Mark used to create the stories. Those scholars are mostly Jesus historicists but their works, when combined, account for nearly every passage. So Mark cannot be said to be based on oral traditions because we can see how he used literary sources, which still exist. Not only does the evidence for Jesus seem to be not historical, it appears to be made up. The epistles don’t support the historical Jesus, the basis of the gospels are not historical, and there is no extra-biblical evidence.”

          Now you’re just being delusional. The Gospels are the earliest documents that we have in existence. They’re closest to the events that happened. And No. Mark’s Gospel is not a some extended parables that Richard Carrier for example thinks. The first Christians believed Jesus was a real figure and Marks Gospel and Paul’s epistles show this. You’re claims are just wild and off the rails. Apparently, you believe everything that laypeople publish on the internet or in books who are not trained biblical scholars. That’s why it sounds so convincing. Mythicism is to History as YEC is to Science. We have tons of extra-biblical sources for Jesus. Your claims are getting far off what we know to be true

        • wtfwjtd

          “The Gospels are the earliest documents that we have in existence.”

          Uh-oh, you better do some research on this subject, making statements like this makes you look foolish. Near-universal agreement among scholars is that Paul’s are the earliest known writings of Christianity; the gospels were written at least 2 or more decades after Paul’s earliest stuff. FYI.

        • Greg G.

          Again, What Jewish sect thought of a crucified Messiah? You keep saying there were all these sects but you don’t seem to give names or evidence tha they existed.

          The early Christians were a Jewish sect that thought of a crucified Messiah. I do not say there were other sects who thought it but I don’t know that there weren’t any and neither do you. It is irrelevant whether anyone thought it before the first century. It only matters that they thought it in the first century. Are you trying to argue that they only thought it because their leader had been crucifed and they were trying to justify it without giving up their religion? I say they thought it because Isaiah says the Suffering Servant died for sins (1 Corinthians 15:3b, Isaiah 53:5), he was buried (1 Corinthians 15:4a, Isaiah 53:9), and other sources say he rose on the third day (1 Corinthians 15:4b, Hosea 6:2, Psalm 16:10, Psalm 41:10).

          He wasn’t being sarcastic, he was stating a point about where he gets his authority from. However, I don’t know how this is in anyway has anything to do with the Christ myth Theory. You try to claim that Jesus’ brothers aren’t really his biological brothers but that argument is extremely bad and is something you pulled out of mid-air.

          In verse 5, Paul is saying that the apostles, the brothers, and Cephas travel with their wives. He thinks he has the right but doesn’t choose to do so. His question in verse 6 shows that he must work on the side and implies that they others do not yet they travel with wives. In verse 7, he makes an analogy that he is like a soldier and that soldiers get paid. He makes the analogy that the churches he planted should feed him like a vineyard. Then he goes on to justify it with scripture.

          I think you are reading the text from a naive perspective.

          Now you’re just being delusional. The Gospels are the earliest documents that we have in existence. They’re closest to the events that happened.

          Most of the epistles were written before the gospels. All we have are copies of copies of copies but no originals of any word. Paul’s letters tell of some events that actually happened, at least from his perspective.

          And No. Mark’s Gospel is not a some extended parables that Richard Carrier for example thinks. The first Christians believed Jesus was a real figure and Marks Gospel and Paul’s epistles show this.

          The first Christians never read Mark and probably would have laughed at it. What you say may have been true of the next generation of Christians who were too young and too far away to have known what went on before Jerusalem was destroyed.

          You’re claims are just wild and off the rails. Apparently, you believe everything that laypeople publish on the internet or in books who are not trained biblical scholars. That’s why it sounds so convincing.

          My sources are the Bible itself, other literature of the day, and arguments based on those. Perhaps it sounds convincing because it has the ring of truth.

          Mythicism is to History as YEC is to Science. We have tons of extra-biblical sources for Jesus. Your claims are getting far off what we know to be true

          I keep hearing that there are tons of extra-biblical sources for Jesus but nobody produces an ounce of it. All the extra-biblical evidence anybody shows is just documentation of what the religious nuts of the day believed.

        • MattB

          “The early Christians were a Jewish sect that thought of a crucified Messiah. I do not say there were other sects who thought it but I don’t know that there weren’t any and neither do you. It is irrelevant whether anyone thought it before the first century. It only matters that they thought it in the first century. Are you trying to argue that they only thought it because their leader had been crucifed and they were trying to justify it without giving up their religion? I say they thought it because Isaiah says the Suffering Servant died for sins (1 Corinthians 15:3b, Isaiah 53:5), he was buried (1 Corinthians 15:4a, Isaiah 53:9), and other sources say he rose on the third day (1 Corinthians 15:4b, Hosea 6:2, Psalm 16:10, Psalm 41:10).”

          The early Jews thought of a crucified Messiah? Now you’re just lying and you know it. Jews didn’t think of a crucified Messiah. What evidence do you have to support this?

          “The first Christians never read Mark and probably would have laughed at it. What you say may have been true of the next generation of Christians who were too young and too far away to have known what went on before Jerusalem was destroyed.”

          I never said they did. I said that Mark’s Gospel is the earliest and therefore closer to the events of Jesus’ life and teachings.

          “In verse 5, Paul is saying that the apostles, the brothers, and Cephas travel with their wives. He thinks he has the right but doesn’t choose to do so. His question in verse 6 shows that he must work on the side and implies that they others do not yet they travel with wives. In verse 7, he makes an analogy that he is like a soldier and that soldiers get paid. He makes the analogy that the churches he planted should feed him like a vineyard. Then he goes on to justify it with scripture.”

          And how is this at all an argument for the non-existence of Jesus? It says nothing about Jesus being a myth.

          “My sources are the Bible itself, other literature of the day, and arguments based on those. Perhaps it sounds convincing because it has the ring of truth.”

          Of course it sounds convincing because that’s the goal of those who impose a fringe idea on others. Conspiracy theories sound really convincing to those who aren’t familar with methods and data that academics use to come to conclusions opposite of what Conspiracy theorists think. I used to buy into young-earth creationism. I argued for YEC, like you did for Jesus being a myth. I read literature from those who tried to use the Bible to justify the age of the earth. I read articles from Scientists who thought the earth was young. It wasn’t until I realized that I was being mislead by my Christian brothers and sisters. I realized that the Bible doesn’t say the age of the earth. I also realized that Scientists who say this are usually those who don’t have teaching jobs at any universities for the same reasons as Price and Carrier: Because they’re ideas aren’t verifiable by the evidence.

          “I keep hearing that there are tons of extra-biblical sources for Jesus but nobody produces an ounce of it. All the extra-biblical evidence anybody shows is just documentation of what the religious nuts of the day believed.”

          Tacitus, Josephus, Suetonius, Pliny the Younger, Celsus, Early Church Fathers, Thallus,etc. Need more?

          “I think you are reading the text from a naive perspective.”

          I’m reading the text from a historical perspective like scholars and historians do, not from my own pre-conceived notions about what I think it says and doesn’t say.

          “Most of the epistles were written before the gospels. All we have are copies of copies of copies but no originals of any word. Paul’s letters tell of some events that actually happened, at least from his perspective.”

          That’s true of almost any ancient document from that time. We don’t have the orignals of Caesar, Josephus, Tacitus or anybody else. All we have are copies, but we can compare the copies and look at the sources and when they were written and find out which ones are the earliest.

        • Greg G.

          The early Jews thought of a crucified Messiah? Now you’re just lying and you know it. Jews didn’t think of a crucified Messiah. What evidence do you have to support this?

          The early Christians were Jews. This is so simple I can’t believe you are questioning this. Here is the proof within five verses of the same letter:

          Galatians 2:15
          We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners;

          Galatians 2:19
          For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ;

          I never said they did. I said that Mark’s Gospel is the earliest and therefore closer to the events of Jesus’ life and teachings.

          What you said was “The Gospels are the earliest documents that we have in existence. They’re closest to the events that happened.” I said that most of the epistles are earlier. I have provided a link to a collection of scholars who have shown that pretty much everything Mark says about Jesus is taken from literature that is not about Jesus so it is completely unreliable about Jesus. See New Testament Narrative as Old Testament Midrash by Robert M. Price.

          And how is this at all an argument for the non-existence of Jesus? It says nothing about Jesus being a myth

          Nice change of subject. I accept your concession.

          As to your paragraph about fringe and conspiracy theories: Tommy Thompson proposed in his thesis that Abraham and Moses were not historical either. That was considered fringe then because the scholarly consensus was that they actually existed. He could not find a job in any American university so he went to Europe. Now that archaeology has confirmed that those stories of the Hebrew forefathers weren’t true, the general consensus among scholars is that they are myths.

          Your story of conversion from YEC is similar to my conversion from Jesus historist to Jesus mythicist. I tried but the evidence is so weak I had to abandone it.

          Tacitus, Josephus, Suetonius, Pliny the Younger, Celsus, Early Church Fathers, Thallus,etc. Need more?

          Tacitus, born 56 AD
          Josephus, born 37 AD
          Suetonius, born 70 AD
          Pliny the Younger, born 61 AD
          Celsus, born 2nd century
          Early Church Fathers (any born in Judea in the early first century?)

          None of them are old enough to have first hand knowledge of what went on in the first third of the first century. What were their sources? They would have had to get it directly or indirectly from believers. That’s what I meant by “All the extra-biblical evidence anybody shows is just documentation of what the religious nuts of the day believed.” Do you think Tacitus would have gone through 80 year old scrolls to find that Pilate crucified someone named Jesus, the sixth most common name in first century Judea?

          Thallus, born circa 50 AD

          Really? A 9th century writer quotes a 3rd century writer quoting Thallus about an eclipse that happened before he was born? That’s what you call tons of evidence?

          That’s true of almost any ancient document from that time. We don’t have the orignals of Caesar, Josephus, Tacitus or anybody else. All we have are copies, but we can compare the copies and look at the sources and when they were written and find out which ones are the earliest.

          I wasn’t saying that there is anything wrong with there being copies of copies. I just wasn’t exactly sure what you meant when you said “The Gospels are the earliest documents that we have in existence.”

        • MattB

          “The early Christians were Jews. This is so simple I can’t believe you are questioning this. Here is the proof within five verses of the same letter”

          So then why didn’t they make Jesus like King David? Why do they make Jesus from a small obscure poor village, and say that he was crucified by the Romans(whom he was supposed to overthrow like prophecy says)? This is a logical contradiction.

          “What you said was “The Gospels are the earliest documents that we have in existence. They’re closest to the events that happened.” I said that most of the epistles are earlier. I have provided a link to a collection of scholars who have shown that pretty much everything Mark says about Jesus is taken from literature that is not about Jesus so it is completely unreliable about Jesus. See New Testament Narrative as Old Testament Midrash by Robert M. Price.”

          The Gospels are the second closest sources we have to Jesus, next to Paul. You cited me one scholar who is a psuedo-scholar and Historians and scholars don’t think Mark’s gospel is a complete fabrication as you’re suggesting.

          “Your story of conversion from YEC is similar to my conversion from Jesus historist to Jesus mythicist. I tried but the evidence is so weak I had to abandone it.”:

          So you decided to purse a fringe theory that isn’t based on any evidence, unlike historisiticism which is based on a lot of evidence.

          “None of them are old enough to have first hand knowledge of what went on in the first third of the first century. What were their sources? They would have had to get it directly or indirectly from believers. That’s what I meant by “All the extra-biblical evidence anybody shows is just documentation of what the religious nuts of the day believed.” Do you think Tacitus would have gone through 80 year old scrolls to find that Pilate crucified someone named Jesus, the sixth most common name in first century Judea?”

          Now you’re showing your ignornace like most mythicists do when they assume that Secular sources got their info from believers, when in fact that is very misleading and false. Tacitus was a member of an inner circle within Rome. Historians know where Tacitus got his source for the Annals and all his other documents. He got his sources for the Annals from Acta Senatus- The Roman Senate’s records. The same is with all the other roman and greek historians who wrote about Jesus. They got their work from secular sources becuase of their tone and the way they distrust Christians.

        • Greg G.

          So then why didn’t they make Jesus like King David? Why do they make Jesus from a small obscure poor village, and say that he was crucified by the Romans(whom he was supposed to overthrow like prophecy says)? This is a logical contradiction.

          This is not a conspiracy theory. They thought they were reading long hidden mysteries in the scripture. They thought the Messiah was first the Suffering Servant as described by Isaiah. But they stilled believed he would return as the Messiah just like all the other sects who believed in the coming Messiah. See 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17, 1 Corinthians 15:51-54, and Philippians 3:20-21 where Paul got that information from Isaiah 26:19-21, Daniel 7:11, 13; 12:2, and Isaiah 25:8.

          I gave a link that compiles the arguments of several scholars, almost all of whom are historists. Instead, you just go to the ad hominem. Are you afraid of the argument?

          So you decided to purse a fringe theory that isn’t based on any evidence, unlike historisiticism which is based on a lot of evidence.

          No, I realized the “tons of evidence” was an illusion. The evidence shows that Mark is based on the literature of the day and not on oral tradition. Then I noticed that everything, and I do mean everything, that Paul says about Jesus can be found in the Old Testament, so he never relates anything from oral tradition.

          It was a fringe theory that Moses did not write the Pentateuch for 23 centuries but in the early 1800s, most scholars flipped that idea to mainstream. Scholars believed that Abraham and Moses were historical figures for 25 centuries until one man created the fringe theory that they were myths by pointing out the problems in the 1970’s. Now that is the consensus.

          Now you’re showing your ignornace like most mythicists do when they assume that Secular sources got their info from believers, when in fact that is very misleading and false. Tacitus was a member of an inner circle within Rome. Historians know where Tacitus got his source for the Annals and all his other documents. He got his sources for the Annals from Acta Senatus- The Roman Senate’s records. The same is with all the other roman and greek historians who wrote about Jesus. They got their work from secular sources becuase of their tone and the way they distrust Christians.

          I said they got them directly or indirectly from the believers. Tacitus usually cites his sources but he gave no source when he wrote about “Chrestus”. Where did the Roman Senate get the information? Hint: They didn’t get it from the internet. How could they possibly have known what the believers believed if they didn’t get it from them? If so, then the word “indirectly” becomes operative. The believers were too young and too far away to have any direct knowledge about what went on a faraway city.

          Pliny the Younger mentions in a letter that “Christians were singing a hymn to Christ as to a god”. Did he get that from Senate records? You have to assume it is about Jesus and not one of the other Christs.

          Suetonius mentions “Chrestus” in one place and Christians in another. Nothing about Jesus, though.

          Celsus thought Jesus’ father was a Roman named Pantera. Do you think his sources were reliable.

          Tons of evidence, I tell you, tons of it!

        • MattB

          “This is not a conspiracy theory. They thought they were reading long hidden mysteries in the scripture. They thought the Messiah was first the Suffering Servant as described by Isaiah. But they stilled believed he would return as the Messiah just like all the other sects who believed in the coming Messiah. See 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17, 1 Corinthians 15:51-54, and Philippians 3:20-21 where Paul got that information from Isaiah 26:19-21, Daniel 7:11, 13; 12:2, and Isaiah 25:8.”

          Who thought of a Crucified Messiah? And what evidence do you have to support this? Remember A crucified Messiah=Contradiction. So now you have to show which Early Jews thought of this and you haven’t cited me a name of a Jewish sect that thought of this befor Jesus existed. Either you admit you don’t know or show me please.

          “I gave a link that compiles the arguments of several scholars, almost all of whom are historists. Instead, you just go to the ad hominem. Are you afraid of the argument?”

          I didn’t ad-hominem anybody, and you’re mis-representing the facts of scholars. Scholars agree that the Gospels are biographies, and yet at the same time are theological. However, they don’t conform to your idea that the gospels are myth and fantasy. They are based on oral tradition, which is what scholars agree.

          “I said they got them directly or indirectly from the believers. Tacitus usually cites his sources but he gave no source when he wrote about “Chrestus”. Where did the Roman Senate get the information? Hint: They didn’t get it from the internet. How could they possibly have known what the believers believed if they didn’t get it from them? If so, then the word “indirectly” becomes operative. The believers were too young and too far away to have any direct knowledge about what went on a faraway city.”

          What are you talking about? They must have got it from Pontius Pilate and the Romans from his day. Pontius Pilate was the Governor of Judea. What makes you think that Roman Senators and historians would trust the testimony of Christians when they harshly criticized their beliefs? As I’ve pointed out before, we know where Tacitus got his info and that was from the Roman Senate. The Roman Senate had archives of records. Why are you question begging? Are you saying that Roman Historians aren’t poised to write about things that happened in the past? When that was in fact common for them to do?

          “Pliny the Younger mentions in a letter that “Christians were singing a hymn to Christ as to a god”. Did he get that from Senate records? You have to assume it is about Jesus and not one of the other Christs.”

          What other Christs? There weren’t any other Christs that were worshiped Jesus as God.

          Chrestus Means “Christ”. Christ was the title for Jesus Christ.

          “Celsus thought Jesus’ father was a Roman named Pantera. Do you think his sources were reliable.”

          Well we know Celsus was wrong about Jesus’ father, but that doesn’t mean he’s wrong about Jesus existence.

          “Tons of evidence, I tell you, tons of it!”

          Yes, unlike Mythicism which is a conspiracy theory and not based on facts or evidences.

          “No, I realized the “tons of evidence” was an illusion. The evidence shows that Mark is based on the literature of the day and not on oral tradition. Then I noticed that everything, and I do mean everything, that Paul says about Jesus can be found in the Old Testament, so he never relates anything from oral tradition.”

          Paul got his information from the OT??? Mark isnt based on Oral Tradition??? I’m puzzled by your brain.

          “It was a fringe theory that Moses did not write the Pentateuch for 23 centuries but in the early 1800s, most scholars flipped that idea to mainstream. Scholars believed that Abraham and Moses were historical figures for 25 centuries until one man created the fringe theory that they were myths by pointing out the problems in the 1970’s. Now that is the consensus.”

          Why do you keep citing a supposed consensus from the past? When historical methods and technology was developing, to somehow trump the consensus in the present?

          Second, Moses and Abraham are still disputed figures in history.

        • Greg G.

          Who thought of a Crucified Messiah? And what evidence do you have to support this?

          Within the last 17 hours, I cited two verses from Galatians in one post that showed He was a Jew and that he believed the Christ had been crucified. In the next post, I provided three Pauline passages that showed he thought the Messiah was returning.

          Remember A crucified Messiah=Contradiction.

          First century Jews were not fifth century BC Jews. They had been exposed to Greek philosophy for a couple of centuries. The noble death had entered into their literature: See where Hebrews 11:35 refers to 2 Maccabees 7:1-42. (If you right-click the link, you might be able to open the link in a separate window, depending on the browser.) A Messiah who got crucified later might be embarrassing but a Messiah who died a noble death for everyone then conquered death itself and comes back raising the dead and changing living bodies in the twinkle of an eye is quite kick-ass.

          So now you have to show which Early Jews thought of this and you haven’t cited me a name of a Jewish sect that thought of this befor Jesus existed. Either you admit you don’t know or show me please.

          I keep telling you that the sect is what we call the early Christians. They considered themselves Jews. Every sect considers itself to be the one true sect. If they have distinct beliefs and rituals, they may take a name. The early Christians believed what was common to most Jews but added the Suffering Servant scenario and they wanted to spread it to other Jews (read Galatians) so they would have preferred to be generic instead of pigeon-holed as just another sect.Even Paul preached to Jews (1 Corinthians 1). Bart Ehrman said they may have called themselves “The Poor”, as in Galatians 2:10.

          I didn’t ad-hominem anybody,

          You called Price a “psuedo-scholar” and you didn’t address a single point of his argument. That is the definition of ad hominem.

          and you’re mis-representing the facts of scholars. Scholars agree that the Gospels are biographies, and yet at the same time are theological. However, they don’t conform to your idea that the gospels are myth and fantasy. They are based on oral tradition, which is what scholars agree.

          I dispute the conclusions of scholars but I do not mis-represent the facts. When you look at everything that is supposed to have come from oral tradition, it can be shown that all of Paul’s claims about Jesus comes from the OT, and most of Mark can be found in other literature of the day. I have provided you a link that combines the work of several scholars that eliminate the claim that Mark comes from oral tradition. Because you have not shown that you can follow the links I provide, I will append everything Paul says about Jesus with the OT references that match it.

          What are you talking about? They must have got it from Pontius Pilate and the Romans from his day. Pontius Pilate was the Governor of Judea. What makes you think that Roman Senators and historians would trust the testimony of Christians when they harshly criticized their beliefs? As I’ve pointed out before, we know where Tacitus got his info and that was from the Roman Senate. The Roman Senate had archives of records. Why are you question begging? Are you saying that Roman Historians aren’t poised to write about things that happened in the past? When that was in fact common for them to do?

          The position Pilate held was prefect, a military governor. The position was changed to a procurator, a civilian governor, in 44 AD. Tacitus calls Pilate a procurator. For centuries, scholars trusted Tacitus on this matter because they figured he had used those Roman reccords but in 1961, a stone was found that confirms Pilate was a prefect in Iudica. Greek didn’t have a word that distinguished between the two positions so they usually used the Greek word for governor which tended to be translated according to Tacitus. Since Tacitus wrote his Annals in Latin there is no excuse for him using the wrong title for Pilate unless he got the information from a Greek source or some other language. Since he doesn’t specify his source on this, it is very unlikely he got it from Roman records.

          What other Christs? There weren’t any other Christs that were worshiped Jesus as God.

          List of messiah claimants. Do the right-click thing if you can.

          Chrestus Means “Christ”. Christ was the title for Jesus Christ.

          “Chrestus” means “good”. “Christ” is the Greek word for the Hebrew “Messiah”.

          Well we know Celsus was wrong about Jesus’ father, but that doesn’t mean he’s wrong about Jesus existence.

          You keep talking about the facts and tons of evidence. You call “doesn’t mean he’s wrong about Jesus existence” evidence?

          Yes, unlike Mythicism which is a conspiracy theory and not based on facts or evidences.

          It’s not a conspiracy theory. It was a comedy of errors where one group imagined a mythic character and another generation historisized him. You are repeating “conspiracy” like you are really trying to find excuses to understand it and believe it.

          Paul got his information from the OT??? Mark isnt based on Oral Tradition??? I’m puzzled by your brain.

          The problem must be at your end. I have provided links but you won’t look at them.

          Why do you keep citing a supposed consensus from the past? When historical methods and technology was developing, to somehow trump the consensus in the present?

          Second, Moses and Abraham are still disputed figures in history.

          I am pointing out that the consensus can change rapidly when the experts start seeing the evidence in a new way.

          From Wiki on Abraham #Historicity:

          By the beginning of the 21st century, and despite sporadic attempts by more conservative scholars such as Kenneth Kitchen to save the patriarchal narratives as history, archaeologists had “given up hope of recovering any context that would make Abraham, Isaac or Jacob credible ‘historical figures'”.
          –William Dever 2002

          Paul swears up and down that this is not the case. In Galatians 1:11-12 and Galatians 1:15-16, Paul says that he did not receive his knowledge about Jesus from any human sources (specifically stating that he did not get it from the apostles) but it came from God through revelation. In Romans 16:25-26, he says the revelation of the mystery comes from the prophetic writings, and in 1 Corinthians 2:9, he quotes Isaiah 64:4, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the human heart conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him.”

          Paul speaks of Jesus hundreds of times but seldom tells us anything about him. Below is everything he tells us.

          Past
          Descended from David > Romans 1:3, Romans 15:12 > 2 Samuel 7:12, Isaiah 11:10

          Made of woman, > Galatians 4:4 > Isaiah 7:14, Isaiah 49:1, Isaiah 49:5

          Made under the law > Galatians 4:4, Galatians 3:10-12* > Deuteronomy 27:26, Habakkuk 2:4, Leviticus 18:5

          Did not please himself > Romans 15:3* > Psalm 69:9

          Became a servant of the circumcised > Romans 15:8 > Isaiah 53:11

          For the Gentiles > Romans 15:9-12* > Psalm 18:49, 2 Samuel 22:50, Deuteronomy 32:43, Psalm 117:1, Isaiah 11:10

          Was betrayed > 1 Corinthians 11:23-26 > Psalm 41:9

          Took loaf of bread and wine > 1 Corinthians 11:23-26 > Psalm 41:9, Exodus 24:8, Leviticus 17:11, Isaiah 53:12 (“wine” = “blood of grapes” allusions in Genesis 49:11, Deuteronomy 32:14, Isaiah 49:26, Zechariah 9:15)

          Was crucified for sins > 1 Corinthians 2:2, 1 Corinthians 15:3, Galatians 2:20, Galatians 3:13* > Isaiah 53:12, Deuteronomy 21:23

          Was buried > 1 Corinthians 15:4 > Isaiah 53:9

          Was raised > Romans 1:4, Romans 8:34, 1 Corinthians 15:4 > Hosea 6:2, Psalm 16:10, Psalm 41:10

          Present
          Sits next to God > Romans 8:34 > Psalm 110:1, Psalm 110:5

          Intercedes > Romans 8:34 > Isaiah 53:12

          Future
          Will come > 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17, 1 Corinthians 15:51-54*, Philippians 3:20-21 > Isaiah 26:19-21, Daniel 7:11, Daniel 7:13; Daniel 12:2, Isaiah 25:8
          (* indicates that passage contains a direct quote from the Old Testament)

          So, Paul tells us he got his knowledge about Jesus from the scripture and every “fact” he tells us about Jesus can be found in scripture, sometimes in context but usually out of context as if it was a long, hidden mystery. Even a justification for looking for the mysteries can be found in Isaiah 48:3.

          3 The former things I declared long ago,
              they went out from my mouth and I made them known;
              then suddenly I did them and they came to pass.

          In 2 Corinthians 11:5-6, Paul says he is not inferior to the super-apostles in knowledge. If anyone thought other apostles had known Jesus, that statement would be absurd.
          In Galatians 1:18, Paul says he visited Cephas in Jerusalem for fifteen days, again, fourteen years later in Jerusalem, in Galatians 2:9, and met up with him in Antioch another time, in Galatians 2:11. He would certainly have known what Cephas and the others knew about Jesus.
          In 1 Corinthians 15:3-8, Paul uses the same word for his “appeared to” (optanomai) that he did for every other “appeared to” as if their revelations were no different than his own.
          Paul spent much time with Cephas and seems to think Cephas was the first person to have Jesus revealed to him in a way similar to his own revelation – through the scriptures. Apparently Cephas was not an illiterate fisherman and Jesus was constructed from the literature.
          As far as the gospels go, the others are dependent on Mark and Robert M. Price has collected the works of several scholars that have traced the sources Mark used. Individually, they make very reasonable cases but combined, they eliminate every deed as something a real person did as everything was previously done by somebody else in fiction. See New Testament Narrative as Old Testament Midrash.

          Jesus’ resurrection can easily be explained by legendary embellishment, religious experience, and writers who wanted to tell a beautiful story or to use Jesus to make their point.

          It could be that a sect of early first century Jews found a way to justify why the Messiah had taken so long – because he had already saved everybody by being crucified a long time ago – and that he was coming during their generation – because the mysteries were being revealed to them. Then after Jerusalem was destroyed, Mark wrote an allegory explaining the destruction in terms of a failed religion that only stirred it up again.
          Here are some possible sources Paul used for the Philippians Hymn:

          5 Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus,
          1 Corinthians 11:1
          Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.

          6 who, though he was in the form of God,
          Isaiah 52:14
          Just as there were many who were astonished at him
              —so marred was his appearance, beyond human semblance,
              and his form beyond that of mortals—

              did not regard equality with God
          Isaiah 9:6
          For a child has been born for us,
              a son given to us;
          authority rests upon his shoulders;
              and he is named
          Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
              Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

              as something to be exploited,
          Isaiah 53:7
          He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
              yet he did not open his mouth;
          like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
              and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
              so he did not open his mouth.

          7 but emptied himself,
          Isaiah 53:12b
          because he poured out himself to death,

              taking the form of a slave,
          Isaiah 52:13a
          “See, my servant shall prosper”

              being born in human likeness.
          Isaiah 49:5
          and now the Lord says,
              who formed me in the womb to be his servant,

          And being found in human form,
          Isaiah 53:2
          For he grew up before him like a young plant,
              and like a root out of dry ground;
          he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
              nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.

          8 he humbled himself
          Isaiah 53:3
          He was despised and rejected by others;
              a man of suffering and acquainted with infirmity;
          and as one from whom others hide their faces
              he was despised, and we held him of no account.

              and became obedient to the point of death—
          Isaiah 53:10
          Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him with pain.
          When you make his life an offering for sin,
              he shall see his offspring, and shall prolong his days;
          through him the will of the Lord shall prosper.

              even death on a cross.
          Deuteronomy 21:23 (per Galatians 3:13)
          23 his corpse must not remain all night upon the tree;
          you shall bury him that same day, for anyone hung on a
          tree is under God’s curse. You must not defile the land
          that the Lord your God is giving you for possession.

          9 Therefore God also highly exalted him
          Isaiah 53:12a
          Therefore I will allot him a portion with the great,
              and he shall divide the spoil with the strong;

              and gave him the name
          Isaiah 54:5a
          For your Maker is your husband,
              the Lord of hosts is his name;

              that is above every name,
          Isaiah 54:5b
          the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer,
              the God of the whole earth he is called.

          10 so that at the name of Jesus
          Isaiah 49:22
          Thus says the Lord God:
          I will soon lift up my hand to the nations,
              and raise my signal to the peoples;
          and they shall bring your sons in their bosom,
              and your daughters shall be carried on their shoulders.

              every knee should bend,
          Isaiah 49:23
          Kings shall be your foster fathers,
              and their queens your nursing mothers.
          With their faces to the ground they shall bow down to you,
              and lick the dust of your feet.
          Then you will know that I am the Lord;
              those who wait for me shall not be put to shame.
              in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
          Isaiah 24:21-22
          21 On that day the Lord will punish
              the host of heaven in heaven,
              and on earth the kings of the earth.
          22 They will be gathered together
              like prisoners in a pit;
          they will be shut up in a prison,
              and after many days they will be punished.

          11 and every tongue should confess
          Isaiah 49:26b
          Then all flesh shall know

              that Jesus Christ is Lord,
          Isaiah 49:26c
              that I am the Lord your Savior,

              to the glory of God the Father.
          Isaiah 49:26d
              and your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob.

        • Pofarmer

          First off, Mark is generally agreed to have been written in Rome. Maybe you should look at a map, and think in terms of travel that involved walking or embarking on a sailing ship to cross the Mediterranean. Second off, the Extra biblical sources for Jesus amount to, “There were Christians who said this.” It’s all second hand or further. Thirdly, Mark’s Gospel doesn’t really bear the marks of being “eye witness testimony.” Rather, it bears the mark of being literature of the day, starting off with the fact that it is written in third person Omniscient Narrative. Matthew and Luke then copy large parts of it, and each other.

          This is on the Didache http://earlychristianwritings.com/didache.html

          .

          ‘On the second, Mack continues (op. cit., pp. 240-241):

          The prayer of thanksgiving (eucharist) for the community meal in
          chapters 9 and 10 are also significant. That is because they do not
          contain any reference to the death of Jesus. Accustomed as we are to
          the memorial supper of the Christ cult and the stories of the last
          supper in the synoptic gospels, it has been very difficult to imagine
          early Christians taking meals together for any reason other than to
          celebrate the death of Jesus according to the Christ myth. But here in
          the Didache a very formalistic set of prayers is assigned to the cup and
          the breaking of bread without the slightest association with the death
          and resurrection of Jesus. The prayers of thanksgiving are for the food
          and drink God created for all people and the special, “spiritual” food
          and drink that Christians have because of Jesus. Drinking the cup
          symbolizes the knowledge these people have that they and Jesus are the
          “Holy Vine of David,” which means that they “belong to Israel.” Eating
          the bread symbolizes the knowledge these people have of the life and
          immortality they enjoy by belonging to the kingdom of God made known to
          them by Jesus, God’s child. And it is serious business. No one is
          allowed to “eat or drink of your Eucharist except those who have been
          baptised in the Lord’s name” (Did. 9:5). We thus have to imagine a
          highly self-conscious network of congregations that thought of
          themselves as Christians, had developed a full complement of rituals,
          had much in common with other Christian groups of centrist persuasions,
          but continued to cultivate their roots in a Jesus movement where
          enlightenment ethics made much more sense than the worship of Jesus as
          the crucified Christ and risen son of God.”

          From the Didache itself

          http://web.archive.org/web/20101009033540/http://ivanlewis.com/Didache/didache.html
          “CHAPTER 9

          THE THANKSGIVING SACRAMENT

          1) Now concerning the Thanksgiving meal, give thanks in this manner.

          2) First, concerning the cup:

          We thank You, our Father,

          For the Holy Vine of David Your servant,

          Whom You made known to us through Your Servant;

          May the glory be Yours forever.

          3) Concerning the broken bread:

          We thank You, our Father,

          For the life and knowledge

          Which You made known to us through Your Servant;

          May the glory be Yours forever.

          As this broken bread was scattered over the mountains,

          And was gathered together to become one,

          So let Your Body of Faithful be gathered together

          From the ends of the earth into Your kingdom;

          for the glory and power are Yours forever.

          5) But let no one eat or drink of your Thanksgiving, unless they
          have been baptized; for concerning this is taught, “Do not give what is
          holy to dogs.”

          CHAPTER 10

          PRAYER AFTER COMMUNION

          1) After the meal, give thanks in this manner:

          2) We offer thanks, Holy Father,

          For Your Holy Name which fills our hearts,

          And for the knowledge, faith and eternal life,

          You made known to us through Your Servant;

          Yours is the glory forever.

          3) Almighty Master, You created all things for Your own purpose;

          You gave men food and drink to enjoy,

          That they might give You thanks;

          But to us You freely give spiritual food and drink,

          And eternal life through Your Servant.

          4) Foremost, we thank You because You are mighty;

          Yours is the glory forever.

          5) Remember Your Body of Servants,

          To deliver it from everything evil

          And perfect it according to Your love,

          And gather it from the four winds,

          Sanctified for Your kingdom which You have prepared for it;

          For the power and glory are Yours forever.

          6) Let Your grace come,

          And let this world pass away.

          Hosanna to the God of David!

          May all who are holy, come;

          Let those who are not, repent.

          Maranatha. Amen.

          7)But permit the prophets to make Thanksgiving as they wish.”

          Now, why did I put this in there? Because this is some of the earliest Christian writing we have, possibly contemporaneous with Paul. There are all kinds of possiblilities, and all kinds of evidence, and yet you accuse us here of being poorly read. Where did these early church fathers mention anything about Jesus as a real person? Why is it inconceivable that Hellenized Greeks did what Hellenized Greeks were known for and quite good at, euhumerizing an existing diety or concept of a diety? I think there is one, very good question that really got me to questioning the historicity of Jesus, and that is, “Why don’t we have anything written in his hand, or taken down by some scribe directly.” Nothing, nada, not a thing. The other thing that makes me question, is the absolute absence of tomb veneration until the time of Constantine. How do you lose something that would have been as sacred as that? Even through a war?

        • MattB

          “First off, Mark is generally agreed to have been written in Rome. Maybe you should look at a map, and think in terms of travel that involved walking or embarking on a sailing ship to cross the Mediterranean.”

          Yes, but what does this have to do with Jesus’ existence?

          “Second off, the Extra biblical sources for Jesus amount to, “There were Christians who said this.” It’s all second hand or further. Thirdly, Mark’s Gospel doesn’t really bear the marks of being “eye witness testimony.” Rather, it bears the mark of being literature of the day, starting off with the fact that it is written in third person Omniscient Narrative. Matthew and Luke then copy large parts of it, and each other.”

          That’s not correct. The extra-biblical sources got their info from secular sources. I never claimed that Mark’s Gospel was written by the “Eyewitnesses” of Jesus. I said that Mark’s Gospel is the earliest and therefore the most reliable since it’s closer to the events of Jesus’ life.

          “Now, why did I put this in there? Because this is some of the earliest Christian writing we have, possibly contemporaneous with Paul. There are all kinds of possiblilities, and all kinds of evidence, and yet you accuse us here of being poorly read.”

          I didn’t say you were poorly read. I said that you’re citing junk information on here.

          “Where did these early church fathers mention anything about Jesus as a real person? Why is it inconceivable that Hellenized Greeks did what Hellenized Greeks were known for and quite good at, euhumerizing an existing diety or concept of a diety?”

          Justin Maytry for example talks about Jesus’ location of his hometown(Nazareth). Because that’s not what the Gospels show. Jews did not believe in a Messiah who was crucified.A crucified Messiah was a contradiction in terms. They thought the Messiah would be like King David, a king-like figure, who would overthrow Israel’s enemies and establish God’s kingdom on earth. Jesus was crucifed by Israel’s enemies(Rome) and his followers thought that he had at first failed to establish God’s kingdom on earth because of this(Until his resurrection). This is an embarrasment for the early church. It’s extremely problematic to say that they just made this up, unless it were true because it was an embarassment.

          “I think there is one, very good question that really got me to questioning the historicity of Jesus, and that is, “Why don’t we have anything written in his hand, or taken down by some scribe directly.”

          Why does it matter? What makes you think Jesus would write or read his message to an area of Israel that was illiterate? He instead spoke his message via word of mouth, so that they could remember it. Oral communication was a common practice at that time. Neither Socrates and Pontius Pilate wrote anything, and yet we know they existed, so why do you cry foul about Jesus?

          Jesus’ tomb wasn’t venerated because his body was missing. He was raised from the dead by God.

        • MNb

          “The extra-biblical sources got their info from secular sources.”
          Prove it. Tacitus, Plinius and Suetonius all three obviously got their information regarding Jesus from Roman christians. I do think a strong case for a historical (ie non-divine) Jesus can be made, but you’re not doing a good job. There are three independent sources: the NT, Flavius Josephus and Polycarpus. Perhaps Acts counts too, but I’d like to scrutinize this claim first.
          Though your claim regarding the oral tradition is way too strong (and contradicted by psychological research) you are right that it’s not an argument for a mythical Jesus. It does mean though that we cannot accept any detail about Jesus’ life as historical without outside confirmation – and that’s what BobS’ article about the Game of Telephone makes clear.
          Minimalism is the right method for the NT.

        • Pofarmer

          “Yes, but what does this have to do with Jesus’ existence? ”

          Nothing, it has to do with your claiming that the Author of Mark was “close to events.”

          “Because that’s not what the Gospels show. Jews did not believe in a
          Messiah who was crucified.A crucified Messiah was a contradiction in
          terms. They thought the Messiah would be like King David, a king-like
          figure, who would overthrow Israel’s enemies and establish God’s kingdom
          on earth. Jesus was crucifed by Israel’s enemies(Rome) and his
          followers thought that he had at first failed to establish God’s kingdom
          on earth because of this(Until his resurrection). This is an
          embarrasment for the early church. It’s extremely problematic to say
          that they just made this up, unless it were true because it was an
          embarassment.”

          You are really stuck on this, aren’t you. The Jews had been waiting for the messiah for a long time, and he hadn’t appeared and they were getting their asses kicked. The Messiah coming back from heaven to kick the Romans asses angle was an innovation. Christianity was an innovation of Judaism. We know that at least one sect believed this, because they became Christians. That’s all it took.

        • MattB

          “Nothing, it has to do with your claiming that the Author of Mark was “close to events.”

          No. That’s not what I said. I said Mark’s Gospel was written the earliest, so it’s information is closer to Jesus than the other 3.

          “You are really stuck on this, aren’t you. The Jews had been waiting for the messiah for a long time, and he hadn’t appeared and they were getting their asses kicked. The Messiah coming back from heaven to kick the Romans asses angle was an innovation. Christianity was an innovation of Judaism. We know that at least one sect believed this, because they became Christians. That’s all it took.”

          Perphaps you’re misunderstanding something here. If Jesus was a myth, then why didn’t Jews make him like King David? Why did they instead say that he was crucified by the Romans? This is extremely problematic for mythicists who want to say that Jesus was made from scratch.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Made from scratch like a deliberate hoax? Who says this?

        • MattB

          Mythicists. They want to say that the early church made up a figure name Jesus

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Really? Is that everyone else’s understanding?

          I thought the assumption was that the myth gradually developed with every person in the chain innocent of any deliberate deception (but I haven’t read the literature on this).

        • MattB

          Yes.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Thanks, but I was literally asking everyone else, not you. I’d like a second opinion.

          And have you made clear how much of the Jesus Myth literature you’ve read?

        • MattB

          Yes

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          … and how much is that?

        • MattB

          I haven’t read their books, but I’ve seen and heard their arguments.

        • MNb

          I have read Earl Doherty and he is arguing for a pre-determined conclusion indeed. He takes the route of Stephen Meyer and co: argue against Evolution Theory eeehhh a historical Jesus extensively and conclude without any positive evidence that he was a myth. So he says nothing about who is supposed to develop the myth.
          This guy is worse:

          http://www.jesusneverexisted.com/

          Full of conspiracy thinking.
          The several weeks I read Richard Carrier’s website (but not his book) he didn’t provide any positive evidence either – only negative arguments against a historical Jesus. I am not familiar with Price.
          It was this negative approach (attack the consensus and jump to the conclusion that your alternate theory must be right without any further do; don’t worry about coherence and consistency) that made me, after initial enthousiasm, suspicious and then reject mythicism.
          Sorry to say, but the fans of Price on this site haven’t provided any positive evidence either, perhaps because Price doesn’t have it? At the other hand he is a scholar, so I keep that option open.
          Overall it looks to me like Jesusmythicists are extremely skeptical towards the theory they want to refute and then abandon all skepticism when they embrace mythicism. That’s pseudoscientific indeed. The honest approach is to systematically investigate the weaknesses of the theory you favour (think of the famous Richard Feynmann quote). I yet have to meet any mythicist who does.
          But like I said, I haven’t read the books of Carrier and Price, so I postpone judgment on them.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          I’m pretty sure I’ve heard both Price and Carrier state that they were initially fine with the idea of a historical Jesus but one or both were intrigued by Doherty’s new ideas.

          I don’t see pseudoscience.

          That said, I have little use for mythicism and see it as a tangent, though perhaps an interesting one.

        • MNb

          There still has to be a first one. Who? Why? How did his “invention” gain popularity? A detailed biography is not required, but plausible answers must be provided to get a coherent theory.

        • 90Lew90

          I don’t dispute the historical Jesus. But practically everything said about him and attributed to him? Particularly the stuff claimed in the gospels? “Parp!”

        • Pofarmer

          .” If Jesus was a myth, then why didn’t Jews make him like King David?.”

          Because it was rather obvious the king david dude wasn’t happenin?

        • MattB

          What?

        • Pofarmer

          Chiost in his human form couldn’t do it, but Christ in his heavenly form was gonna pull it off. All those passages about Jesus returning in his Glory within the disciples, and Pauls, and then his church leaders, and, then, well, somebodies lifetime returning? What to hell do you think that was all about? Why did the authors of Matthew and Luke try so hard to give him a lineage back to David?

        • MattB

          You’re not really making any sense to support your case. What Jewish sect thought of a crucified Messiah?

        • Pofarmer

          He answer to that seems fairly obvious.

        • MattB

          And what is it?

        • Pofarmer

          “And he uses the term “Brothers” to mean Jesus
          had siblings and nothing to do with spiritual figures.”

          You do realize the Catholic Church disagrees with you?

        • MattB

          And? What does that have to do with what the evidence says? Jesus’ siblings were half-brothers and sisters.

        • Pofarmer

          The Catholic church says they were cousins. Some Apologists say they were brothers and sisters. Others say they were half brothers and sisters. Based on the Evidence we have, I would personally go with the brothers and sisters angle. I’m just pointing put that there are various interpretations.

        • MattB

          But the Catholic Church isn’t the authority on evidence. Yes, there are different interpretations, but that doesn’t mean that one isn’t right. The point is that all agree that Jesus had siblings of some kind and they weren’t meant to be interpreted as some figures in some obsucre “celestial” realm like mythicists suggest. They were real and this proves that Jesus was real.

        • Pofarmer

          You have a throwaway line from Paul about “James, the brother of the Lord”. Pretty sure that there is a James, brother of Jesus Ben Damnius, in Josephus. Givren how much in acts seems cribbed from Josephus, and that scribes were copying both, and that we know passages were added to Josephus and Mark amd John, certainly, I would give even money it’s an addition to bolster a weak case.

        • MattB

          Now you’re just citing information that isn’t correct. Josephus wasn’t referring to Jesus Ben Damnius. He was referring to James the brother of Jesus who was executed by the Jewish Sanhedrin at the time. Nothing in Acts was scribed from Josephus and nothing was interpolated for the readers to think that the siblings were fake.

        • Pofarmer

          Really? Really? I swear, you have to start over with these lunk heads every time.

        • MattB

          ???

        • Pofarmer

          you’ve really never read or heard anything about the fictional elements in acts and how some of them relate to the writings of Josephus? Like the mention of the sicarii, which was something that Josephus coined. Like Pauls shipwrecks which are nearly identical to Josephus. Or maybe Pauls ridiculus trial before Herod Agrippa which doesn’t appear in his official court records, which exist.

        • MattB

          What does this have to do with the reference to Jesus in Josephus’ work? when one has a historical core, while the other is wholly authentic.

        • Pofarmer

          It’s about your statement that nothing in Acts was cribbed from Josephus, when some of it most nearly certainly was.

        • MattB

          That is pure speculation.

        • Pofarmer
        • Pofarmer

          Richard Pervo, among others, has done scholarly work on it.

          http://infidels.org/library/modern/richard_carrier/lukeandjosephus.html

        • MattB

          Richard Carrier is wrong.

        • Pofarmer

          Of course he is. It couldn’t just be literature. If you’ll notice, there’s a pretty good bibliography at the end of the linked article, and there is actually a decent amount of work on the subject if you look around a tad.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          a crucified Messiah was a contradiction in terms

          And yet Christianity has one. Where’s the problem?

          Is your point that this is a crazy turn of events, so it must be historical?

        • Pofarmer

          The Gospels were written after the destruction of the temple, almost certainly, by your historical consensus. They had to play the hand they were dealt. The kind David overthrower dude obviously wasn’t happenin.

        • MattB

          But what Jewish sect thought of a non-Daviadic Messiah who would be crucified?

        • Pofarmer

          The one that became Cristianity?

        • Greg G.

          Yes(I hope I’m not being rude here), but Carrier and Price are psuedo-scholars and I’ve seen their arguments and they aren’t nothing new.

          You are backing up the “scholarly consensus” appeal to authority with a couple of ad hominem attacks.

          I’m not sure whether “aren’t nothing new” means “are something new” or “are nothing new” but New Testament Narrative as Old Testament Midrash by Robert M. Price combines the work of several NT scholars, most of whom are Jesus historists, to show the sources of the gospel writers. It shows that just about everything Jesus did comes from old Hebrew literature, new Hebrew literature, old Greek literature, and from some Christian literature. It shows that NT scholars have already proven that Mark, the “keystone gospel”, is not about a historical Jesus. It’s just that they haven’t put it together yet.

        • MattB

          That’s not correct. Some NT historians might think some stories about Jesus may have been echoes of the Old Testament, but parallels in a story aren’t proof that the figure behind the story didn’t exist. It at best proves that the author was thinking of the story when writing about the figure(even though I disagree that the NT authors were thinking of this about Jesus).

        • wtfwjtd

          After historicity–then what? Christianity has yet to provide any credible evidence whatsoever to back up the remarkable claim of Jesus’ resurrection. The gospel stories are all they’ve got–not even a passing reference by a single contemporary historian, and yes, there were several of them writing at that precise time and place.
          Without the resurrection, Christianity is just another historically interesting mystery religion, and nothing more.

        • Lbj

          The resurrection of Christ is one of the best attested facts of ancient history. If you are going to deny the resurrection of Christ then you will need to deny all of ancient history since the evidence is not as good as it is for Christ.

        • Greg G.

          No, if you are going to accept the Resurrection as history, you have to accept all supernatural claims as historical. Rejecting supernatural claims, such as the Resurrection, is just routine procedure for historians, simply because superstitions were commonly written in as history.

        • Lbj

          I will accept other “supernatural claims as historical” when I get to examine for them. Each case must stand on its own. If there is good evidence then i will believe it. If not, i dismiss it.

          How can the resurrection of Christ be a superstition when the evidence for it is so good? Refute my 10 points above and I will call the resurrection a superstition. If you can’t, then you should believe it.

        • Greg G.

          OK, I jumped through your hoop and refuted every thing in your post. Now will you hold up your end of the bargain?

        • wtfwjtd

          “Best attested facts?” Please, let’s be serious here. The only evidence we have of this remarkable claim is four anonymously-authored stories, written decades after the supposed event, that all borrow heavily from the literature of the day, that all conflict and contradict each other, and no other coo berating evidence of any kind. You really want to call that a “best attested fact?” Against what are you comparing this ?

        • Lbj

          The facts for the resurrection of Christ are:

          1- the primary sources i.e. the gospels. They are not “anonymously-authored stories”. The names associated with each gospel have always been associated with them. The early church knew who wrote these gospels and accepted them as such.

          Also, there is no reason to think His disciples did not memorize His teachings or that they took notes. Matthew certainly could have taken notes.

          2- the letters of the apostles

          3- the apostles teaching the resurrection in the very city where Jesus rose

          4- the empty tomb

          5- the body of Jesus was never shown by His enemies

          6- the conversion of Paul who was an enemy

          7- the conversion of James who did not believe in Jesus until after the resurrection.

          8- Over eyewitnesses that Paul mentions

          9- the birth of the church

          10- the martyrdom of the apostles

          You claim “that all borrow heavily from the literature of the day”. Do you have the source material where this seen? Many make this claim but never show the evidence for it. Without evidence i can’t take it seriously.

          How many eyewitness accounts are there to Alexander the Great or Julius Cesar? If there are eyewitnesses when they did they write and who were they?

        • Pofarmer

          1. The Gospels had no names until Iraneus in the 2nd century, and there were originally many more than 4. 4 Was important to Iraneus for theological reasons.

          2- Proves what? These letters, the ones deemed Authentic anyway, don’t mention specific teachings of or facts about Jesus.

          3-Paul talks of Cephas and James as apostles in Jerusalem. There would have been all kinds of folks teaching all kinds of religions in Ancient Palestine. There is also the problem that the religion appears to have grown faster in GENTILE areas away from Jerusalem. And if it was so slam dunk, why are their still Jews? Why didn’t the Pharisees and Saducees immediately convert? They were right there to see it all happen!

          4- Why was there no veneration of a tomb site until Constantine declared one in the 4th Century?

          5-Works just as well for a mythicist argument.

          6- Well, we primarily have Pauls arguments for this, and, notwithstanding that, people change teams all the time. And if you are very zealous in one belief, you are likely to be just as zealous in the new one. See, “The True Believer” by Eric Hoffer.

          7- James came lately to a movement? And?

          8-Where are the accounts of these eyewitnesses?

          9- So? Was Zenu real? Did Joseph smith really get the Golden plates from the Angel Moroni?

          10- contested. Candida Moss contends that the fates of many of the Apostels was not known and stories were later made up about them by the Church. We know when the stories were added, mainly in the time of Eusebius, who was certainly not immune to lying for Jesus. And, at any rate, it really doesn’t matter. People die because of/for false beliefs all the time.

        • wtfwjtd

          “The facts for the resurrection of Christ are:

          1- the primary sources i.e. the gospels. They are not “anonymously-authored stories”. The names associated with each gospel have always been associated with them. The early church knew who wrote these gospels and accepted them as such.”

          Dude, take a look at the scholarship of this, it’s not even close. Even the early church fathers didn’t know who wrote the gospels, and admitted as much. If you are interested in links, I can provide plenty, but I’d rather let you do your own research. This is Theological seminary 101 stuff, and isn’t even in dispute by anyone who’s taken even a cursory glance at the subject.

          4) Ah yes, the empty tomb. My immediate response: What empty tomb? Cultures everywhere have customs of tomb veneration going back literally tens of thousands of years, and yet for supposedly the most momentous event in human history, we don’t have a clue where it happened. The absence of an actual tomb for the resurrection is actually the most damning evidence of all–or lack of evidence, I guess you could say. Of all the physical pieces of evidence we would expect for such an extraordinary claim, we would expect, no demand, this one. And yet, it’s MIA.

          5) The body of Jesus–Ah yes, we don’t have a body–therefore a supernatural resurrection is the most likely reason!” Again, can we please be serious? Why not apply Occam’s Razor, and go with the simple, most likely explanation? That is, Jesus, if he was a historical figure who was crucified, had his body thrown in a mass grave, like nearly every other criminal who was crucified during this era. Simple, elegant, effective.

          I could go through some of the other points, if you wish, but this is enough to get us started.

          “How many eyewitness accounts are there to Alexander the Great or Julius Cesar? If there are eyewitnesses when they did they write and who were they?”

          Why would we need eyewitness accounts for these? Caesar conquered Rome, his image in on coins, and Alexander conquered Persia. If you are saying we should discard the supernatural elements attributed to these guys, I totally agree, and by the same logic we should also discard the supernatural elements when discussing the Jesus story too. Simple, no?

        • Greg G.

          1. The gospels are anonymous. They guessed at the names. They thought Matthew was written first and Mark copied Matthew. Matthew and Luke copeid from Mark. Everything Mark wrote was taken from the literature of the day. There is nothing reliable. Luke says he got his info from other sources and it shows, not from Paul who didn’t know anything about Jesus. John says it is from the testimony of John, but we don’t know who wrote it and if it really was from John. Much of it seems to be taken from fictional stories in Mark.

          2. Paul letters only say that Jesus was resurrected but gives no details escept what can be found in centuries old, out-of-context quotes from scripture. The Pastorals are second-century pseudapigraphy. James doesn’t mention the resurrection. 1 Peter mentions it once but only says Jesus is in heaven so it is compatible with Paul. 2 Peter is so late it quotes from Matthew. 1, 2, and 3 John don’t mention the resurrection. Neither does Jude.
          3. But did they actually teach that he rose there and recently? You are reading the gospels back into the epistles. We can only go on what the early epistles say about what was being taught and they give no details and really seem to take it that Jesus had come and gone in their distant past.
          4. A made up story. When Paul is testifying in Agrippa’s court, he appeals to the Jews as character witnesses then tells his wacky story of Jesus’ appearance to him, that contradicts the other two versions in Acts, when he could have just had the Jews testify about the empty tomb. Nobody thought it was a good argument then and only desperate Christians think it is now.
          5. Jesus’ body never existed in the first place. If he did exist and his enemies did show it, his followers never would have written that down.
          6. People fall for religions all the time.
          7. The Gospels and Acts are fictional stories. In Galatians 1:19, Paul is being sarcastic when he calls James, the Lord’s brother.
          8. I think you mean 500 witnesses. Paul only understood Jesus through centuries old scripture. He uses the same word for Peter, the Twelve, the 500 and James that he uses for his own, so he doesn’t think theirs is any different than his own. Paul is saying they didn’t actually see Jesus, either.
          9. It was just another sect of Judaism that happened to begin to allow Gentiles to join freely. Religions splinter continuously. There are now about 43,000 denominations of Christianity. If the sect began from reading the scripture and not from a Jesus leader, the rise of the church is easier to explain because it could have started earlier.
          10. The noble death idea became popular in the second century church. They made up stories af martyrdom. One church father has two different deaths attributed to him.

          You claim “that all borrow heavily from the literature of the day”. Do you have the source material where this seen? Many make this claim but never show the evidence for it. Without evidence i can’t take it seriously.

          Here is a link to where I provide the sources for Paul’s claims about Jesus. here is a link to where it is shown that Mark is based on the literature of the day: New Testament Narrative as Old Testament Midrash by Robert M. Price

          How many eyewitness accounts are there to Alexander the Great or Julius Cesar? If there are eyewitnesses when they did they write and who were they?

          We have hard evidence for Julius Caesar and Alexander. The geography of the world was shaped by them. Nothing significant happened during the time Jesus was supposed to have lived. Mithras was a dominant religion then, too. A dominant religion does not mean it is true nor that it’s object of worship ever existed.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          How many eyewitness accounts are there to Alexander the Great or Julius Cesar?

          Seriously? You’re comparing Jesus to Alexander and Julius Caesar? Alexander had twenty cities named after him. Julius Caesar had coins with his likeness. Statues. Histories by both friends and enemies.

          And for Jesus?

          [crickets]

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Submitting the gospel story for historical analysis isn’t really where you want to go. It scrubs the supernatural out of all claims. Supernatural claims were made of Julius Caesar, Alexander the Great, and perhaps every great leader of the time, but history rejects every one of those claims.

          You want the same process done to the Gospels?

        • Greg G.

          But when every single deed has a parallel in the literature, there is nothing left to say is an historical event. That goes for the early epistles, too.

        • Lbj

          Amen.

        • Pofarmer

          I can sort of see Price, but what makes Carrier a pseudo scholar? He even admits to being a historicist before he took a good look at the evidence.

          It’s extremeley problematic to claim that Jews would make a Messiah who would be crucified(contradiction) and pass him off as a real figure.

          0
          ReplyIt’s extremeley problematic to claim that Jews would make a Messiah who would be crucified(contradiction) and pass him off as a real figure.

          0″It’s extremeley problematic to claim that Jews would make a Messiah who would be crucified(contradiction) and pass him off as a real figure.

          Why? Especially considering the gospels were written after the destruction of the Temple and far away from it, being meant to convert Gentiles.
          0
          Reply

        • Greg G.

          It was disproven by reputable scholars over a hundred years ago.

          I have heard that before. I keep asking for their argument but nobody can provide it. I think that is apocryphal. If they had proof, I would expedt it to be everywhere. Ehrman’s Did Jesus Exist? exposed how weak those arguments actually are.

          How do they account for every deed attributed to Jesus in Mark can be found being done previously by someone else in the literature of the day? None of that can be traced to oral traditions. How do they account for none of the early epistles mentioning anything about Jesus being a teacher, a preacher, or anyone actually hanging out with him? How do they account for Paul loving to talk about Jesus so much he mentions him hundreds of times but only tells us about two dozen things about him, and all of that information is found in centuries old scripture?

          Have you ever noticed that all New Testament scholars entered the field indoctrinated that Jesus existed? It is hard for them to question it because “scholarly consensus”. Of course, scholarly consensus was that Abraham and Moses were historical for over 2500 years, but that has changed in the last 40 years.

        • MattB

          “I have heard that before. I keep asking for their argument but nobody can provide it. I think that is apocryphal. If they had proof, I would expedt it to be everywhere. Ehrman’s Did Jesus Exist? exposed how weak those arguments actually are.”
          And what arguments are you specifically looking for that haven’t been provided to you? There is proof, tons of it. If Mythicism was a mainstream view, then we would expect to see a multitude of scholars and historians supporting it, but we don’t. There are only 3 scholars that actually think Jesus was a myth. The fact is, the Christ Myth Theory was laid to rest in academia over 100 years ago. It is dead today. And what makes you think the arguments are “weak”? Opposed to a pseudo-theory that isn’t true.

          “”How do they account for every deed attributed to Jesus in Mark can be found being done previously by someone else in the literature of the day? None of that can be traced to oral traditions. How do they account for none of the early epistles mentioning anything about Jesus being a teacher, a preacher, or anyone actually hanging out with him? How do they account for Paul loving to talk about Jesus so much he mentions him hundreds of times but only tells us about two dozen things about him, and all of that information is found in centuries old scripture”
          They use the historical method to get back to oral tradition and can find what Jesus said and did. It seems like you haven’t studied the historical method. And Paul’s epistles give us several bits and pieces of data for proving that Jesus existed.

          “Have you ever noticed that all New Testament scholars entered the field indoctrinated that Jesus existed? It is hard for them to question it because “scholarly consensus”. Of course, scholarly consensus was that Abraham and Moses were historical for over 2500 years, but that has changed in the last 40 years.”
          Oh please, stop with this foolish nonsense. It’s got nothing to do with some sort of religious agenda. You can look at what both secular and religious historians and scholars say.
          Also, you can’t use a supposed consensus from the past to trump a consensus in the future when there’s hardcore evidence to prove it.

        • Greg G.

          And what arguments are you specifically looking for that haven’t been provided to you? There is proof, tons of it.

          And what makes you think the arguments are “weak”?

          They use the historical method to get back to oral tradition and can find what Jesus said and did. It seems like you haven’t studied the historical method.

          The historical method they use have criteria like “The Criterion of Aramaicisms” which says that if a saying has some bit of Aramaic in it, it is more likely to be authentic. Why, was Jesus the only person who spoke Aramaic? There methods assume that Jesus existed and their criteria are designed to support it not to test it. That’s why I call it weak and I have seen tons of it.

          And Paul’s epistles give us several bits and pieces of data for proving that Jesus existed.

          Have you read Galatians to see what is going on there? Paul’s message has been contradicted and he is defending it. He defends his credentials and spends a chapter and a half discrediting James and Peter as if he thinks they are the guilty party. See the first verse where Paul has an unusual opening about not being sent by humans. In chapter 2, he mentions that James sent two men to Antioch, not the Lord who sends Paul everywhere. Paul says Peter, James, and John are regarded as pillars, but Paul expresses disdain for that. So when Paul calls James “the brother of the Lord”, he is being sarcastic by saying James has put himself at the Lord’s level so he must consider himself a brother to him. In 1 Corinthians 9, Paul is defending his missionary support from the Corinthians and is sarcastic when he mentions “the brothers of the Lord”.

          Oh please, stop with this foolish nonsense. It’s got nothing to do with some sort of religious agenda. You can look at what both secular and religious historians and scholars say.

          I’m not talking about “religious agenda”. Tommy Thompson wrote his thesis on the non-existance of Abraham and Moses. It was rejected by Joseph Ratzinger, himself. But the archaelogical evidence supported Thompson and most scholars now accept that, except those with a religious agenda.
          Even secular NT scholars entered the field with a religious agenda, indoctrinated with the idea that Jesus existed. They lost their agenda but they seldom question that Jesus existed because of the scholarly consensus.

          Also, you can’t use a supposed consensus from the past to trump a consensus in the future when there’s hardcore evidence to prove it.

          I keep asking for “hardcore evidence” but I keep getting weak sauce.

        • MattB

          “The historical method they use have criteria like “The Criterion of Aramaicisms” which says that if a saying has some bit of Aramaic in it, it is more likely to be authentic. Why, was Jesus the only person who spoke Aramaic? There methods assume that Jesus existed and their criteria are designed to support it not to test it. That’s why I call it weak and I have seen tons of it.”

          Because Jesus lived in a multilingual community whose main language was Aramaic. These methods are methods used by historians for almost anybody else in acnient history. If you’re going to deny Jesus then you must deny everybody else from ancient history as well.

          “Have you read Galatians to see what is going on there? Paul’s message has been contradicted and he is defending it. He defends his credentials and spends a chapter and a half discrediting James and Peter as if he thinks they are the guilty party. See the first verse where Paul has an unusual opening about not being sent by humans. In chapter 2, he mentions that James sent two men to Antioch, not the Lord who sends Paul everywhere. Paul says Peter, James, and John are regarded as pillars, but Paul expresses disdain for that. So when Paul calls James “the brother of the Lord”, he is being sarcastic by saying James has put himself at the Lord’s level so he must consider himself a brother to him. In 1 Corinthians 9, Paul is defending his missionary support from the Corinthians and is sarcastic when he mentions “the brothers of the Lord”.

          This is extremely problematic and a comment that just goes off the rails. Where are you getting this idea the Paul’s statment “the brothers of the Lord” is sarcastic? We know that Jesus had biological siblings and one of them being James, was an early church leader. His death is mentioned by Josephus.

          I’m not talking about “religious agenda”.

          But then you say “Even secular NT scholars entered the field with a religious agenda” Now you’ve confused me.

          “Tommy Thompson wrote his thesis on the non-existance of Abraham and Moses. It was rejected by Joseph Ratzinger, himself. But the archaelogical evidence supported Thompson and most scholars now accept that, except those with a religious agenda.”

          That’s not entirely correct. Moses and Abraham are still disputed in ancient history.

          “Even secular NT scholars entered the field with a religious agenda, indoctrinated with the idea that Jesus existed. They lost their agenda but they seldom question that Jesus existed because of the scholarly consensus.”

          Huh? So you’re assuming that non-religious scholars who don’t believe in God or question God’s existence go into the field and just believe whatever they want? Where do you get this completely insane idea like that?

          “I keep asking for “hardcore evidence” but I keep getting weak sauce.”

          But everytime I do, you keep trying to dismiss it and deny it because of your anti-religious agenda.Your instead choosing to deny the reality of ancient history as a way to avoid dealing with an uncomfortable truth.

        • Greg G.

          Because Jesus lived in a multilingual community whose main language was Aramaic. These methods are methods used by historians for almost anybody else in acnient history. If you’re going to deny Jesus then you must deny everybody else from ancient history as well.

          Yes, everybody in the region spoke Aramaic. It doesn’t mean that any specific Aramaic word or saying came from Jesus. At best it makes it plausible but it is still not probable. Some of it might be for verisimilitude. Mark explains Bartimaeus’ name to inform his readers that “bar” means “son of” in Aramaic. He then has Jesus pray “Abba, Father” to teach his readers that “Abba” means “father” in Aramaic. That’s so his readers know that the name Barabbas means “son of the father”, and there is a scapegoat scenario as in Leviticus 16. That is just story telling, it doesn’t indicate that it came from Jesus. Mark probably got the “Abba, Father from either Glatians 4:6 or Romans 8:15 and Paul didn’t attribute it to Jesus.

          This is extremely problematic and a comment that just goes off the rails. Where are you getting this idea the Paul’s statment “the brothers of the Lord” is sarcastic? We know that Jesus had biological siblings and one of them being James, was an early church leader. His death is mentioned by Josephus.

          Have you read 1 Corinthians 9 recently? That phrase is used in the midst of several sarcastic rhetorical questions.

          I’m not talking about “religious agenda”.
          But then you say “Even secular NT scholars entered the field with a religious agenda” Now you’ve confused me.

          You brought up “religious agenda” so I pointed out that few, if any, NT scholars entered the field as a non-religious person. That’s how Ehrman describe his path. Most likely, they were on fire for the Lord. Do you dispute that?

          Huh? So you’re assuming that non-religious scholars who don’t believe in God or question God’s existence go into the field and just believe whatever they want? Where do you get this completely insane idea like that?

          I don’t think the insane part is coming from me as that is not what I said. I am saying that pretty much everybody who goes into the field of NT scholarship started out religious. Some lose their faith as the learn more about the Bible and religion.

          But everytime I do, you keep trying to dismiss it and deny it because of your anti-religious agenda.Your instead choosing to deny the reality of ancient history as a way to avoid dealing with an uncomfortable truth.

          I do have an anti-faith agenda. Beliefs inform actions and false beliefs inform incorrect actions. I do not have an anti-religion agenda regarding the existence of Jesus. It’s simply an academic question to me. I favored that position until I read Ehrman’s book and saw how little evidence the Historical Jesus Theory is based on. I would be willing to change my position if presented with good evidence. I only dismiss weak reasons and evidence.

          Galatians 5:11-12
          11 But my friends, why am I still being persecuted if I am still preaching circumcision? In that case the offense of the cross has been removed. 12 I wish those who unsettle you would castrate themselves!

          Who does Paul wish would castrate themselves?
          Galatians 2:11-12
          11 But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood self-condemned; 12 for until certain people came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But after they came, he drew back and kept himself separate for fear of the circumcision faction.

          Did Paul respect them?
          Galatians 2:6
          And from those who were supposed to be acknowledged leaders (what they actually were makes no difference to me; God shows no partiality)—those leaders contributed nothing to me.

          What were the names of the leaders that Paul didn’t respect?
          Galatians 2:9
          and when James and Cephas and John, who were acknowledged pillars, recognized the grace that had been given to me, they gave to Barnabas and me the right hand of fellowship, agreeing that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised.

          The unusual opening of the letter:
          Galatians 1:1
          Paul an apostle—sent neither by human commission nor from human authorities, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead—

          So Paul does not respect the circumscision faction that includes James, who sends “certain people” on missions. He has so much disdain for them he expresses that he wishes they would castrate themselves.

          When Paul says
          Galatians 1:19
          but I did not see any other apostle except James the Lord’s brother.

          he is being sarcastic because James has assumed a position above other people and commands them as the Lord does. Paul gives no indication that he likes James at all. That would not be consistent if he thought James was really a brother to the Lord.

          Paul is proud that he knows as much as the other apostles. How could he really say that if he knew they had known a real Jesus?

        • Pofarmer

          Where is this hardcore evidence? I posted a short conversation that I had with Ehrman on determining what was or wasn’t probably oral tradition, and the answer amounted to “it’s very tricky.” It’s posted in the previous thread. The fact is that most of the evidence you have is circumstantial and weak and wouldn’t be used in the case of just about any other ancient figure. Using the “methods” applied to Jesus you could prove any number of fictional charachters historical.

        • Pofarmer

          “It’s got nothing to do with some sort of religious agenda”

          So it’s just some happy coincidence that nearly all NT scholars are Christians?

        • MattB

          Everyone has bias. Almost all biologists are atheists and agnostics. Does that mean that evolution is false or that the earth isn’t 4.5 billion years old? No. Especially when you have both sides (secular and religious) agreeing to the same thing

        • Pofarmer

          ” Almost all biologists are atheists or agnostics”

          Any proof for that claim?

          But that notwithstanding, biology is not religion. It doesn’t accept the same kinds of claims or the same kind of evidence. I think the truth of the matter, is that very few secular historians have really looked at and investigated the Jesus claims. They just figure the guys who do examine them know what they are doing.

        • MNb

          “A historian doesn’t really use the scientific method”
          He/she totally does, just like the theoretical physicist he/she uses deduction. The results are testable hypotheses, which can be confirmed or contradicted by archeological findings and to a lesser degree by finding new sources.

        • MattB

          But that’s the deductive method, not through direct observation which is what Bob was suggesting.

        • MNb

          That’s why I added archeological findings and to a lesser degree new sources – they are the inductive component. Saying that history doesn’t really use the scientific method is as silly as saying that the theoretical physicist doesn’t. Archeological findings play the same role as the observations of for instance CERN. Or are you going to dismiss observation of the higgs-boson as well? Be assured it was far from direct.
          BobS corrected his statement above.

        • MattB

          But relics and antiques are not the only way by which we prove someone existed. We also have to use historiography

        • MNb

          “History isn’t science.”
          I strongly disagree. History and archeology relate to each other as Theoretical Physics and Experimental Physics. History formulates testable hypotheses which sometimes are confirmed and sometimes are falsified. One rather recent successful prediction is finding the remnants of Caesar’s camps in Germany.

          http://www.n24.de/n24/Wissen/History/d/2778178/roemische-legionaere-kamen-bis-limburg.html
          https://www.hessen.de/presse/pressemitteilung/caesars-schuhen-durch-hessen-0
          http://www.rhein-zeitung.de/region/lokales/diez_artikel,-Rostige-Schuhnaegel-zeigen-Caesar-war-in-Hessen-_arid,591097.html
          http://www.kreisblatt.de/rhein-main/Caesar-war-in-Hessen-unterwegs;art801,498442
          http://www.welt.de/geschichte/article115814699/Zwei-Roemerlager-in-Hessen-entdeckt.html

          Not finding them (compare Moses in the Sinai) would have had the same effect on history of Western Europe as not finding the higgs-boson on modern physics.
          At the other hand, if history is not a science then the biological tree of life and cosmology (as a branch of physics) aren’t either. In the core their methods are the same.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          OK. I should’ve said that history with a religious agenda isn’t science.

        • MNb

          It’s a shame (but not for us) we have to kick in that open door again and again. History with a religious agenda is as silly as, let’s say. biology with a religious agenda.

        • MattB

          What religious agenda are you referring to? Don’t take my word for it, look at what secular historians of the New Testament or Classics(Ancient History) say about Jesus of Nazareth. They for sure don’t say he was a myth.

        • MattB

          Historians dont’ have a “religious” agenda. Jesus’ existence has nothing to do with Historians trying to keep their Jobs in exchange for lying to people (which they’re not).

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Historians dont’ have a “religious” agenda

          No, they don’t. That’s why historians are no friend of the Christian and would make mincemeat of the gospel story.

        • MattB

          Which gospel story and by whom?

        • wtfwjtd

          Any gospel story with supernatural elements, for starters.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          gospel story = the Good News = the story of Jesus.

        • MattB

          Yes, but I still don’t understand what you’re asking me. Are you claiming that the gospels are mythical stories and that Jesus never existed?

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          No.

          I’m not sure what’s confusing. I’ll repeat my point:

          historians are no friend of the Christian and would make mincemeat of the gospel story.

        • MattB

          But they haven’t made mincemeat of the gospels.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          I’ll type slower so you can understand.

          Historians reject the supernatural. If you evaluate the gospels as other elements of history are evaluated (the biographies of famous people, for example), you would be left with the insignificant story of an insignificant Jewish rabble rouser in an insignificant corner of the Roman empire.

          Christian “historians” don’t shred the gospel story because they’re not acting like historians.

          Do you see my point now?

        • InDogITrust

          “I’ll type slower so you can understand.”
          I literally laughed out loud.

        • MattB

          But that’s not what Bob was referring to in his argument and history and science are both different fields, however, they have some similarities.

          The problem is that we have to use the deductive method and deduce the evidence to come to the most reasonable conclusion. It seems like Bob is suggesting that we must use direct observation as a way of testing whether Jesus existed or not, and that my friend is very fallacious because it does not apply here, nor there in history

  • http://youcallthisculture.blogspot.com/ VinnyJH

    Thanks for the plug. Nice to know that people still find that post helpful after six years.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      It’s a bit of an obscure topic, and your posts were quite helpful. Thanks.

      • MattB

        But Craig isn’t misrepresenting what AN Sherwin White thinks.

        A.N. Sherwin isn’t saying that myth and legend can’t creep in within two generations. He’s saying that even if myth and legend do creep in, it takes at least two generations for myth and legend to remove the core historical facts. The gospels were written within less than two generations.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          When Craig puts “unbelievable” into AN S-W’s mouth, but he didn’t say that, that’s misrepresentation.

          Further, ANSW doesn’t propose to present an immutable law. Further, ANSW gives no reliable algorithm for separating that “core of historical facts” from the accretion.

        • MattB

          The point that ANSW is making is that the gospels were written too short of a time span for legendary material to remove the central facts from them.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          I can’t add anything to the original post. ANSW is a very weak weapon in the apologist’s arsenal.

        • MattB

          I’m not sure how ANSW would be a weak weapon for Christains.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          OK. If the post doesn’t help, then that’s the best I can offer.

          Specific rebuttals to errors I’ve made above would be helpful.

        • MattB

          I wouldn’t say you’re wrong about Craig misquoting AN Sherwin white on one word. But Craig was overall accurately citing what AN Sherwin meant

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          And, I think that my post was overall accurate in saying that Craig/ANSW make quite a small point here.

        • MattB

          OK. But Oral tradition is a very skilled process and it’s not like the game of telephone.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Even if I grant that, who says that “oral tradition” is what carried the story across 40+ years in this case rather than swapping tales at the gossip fence?

        • Pofarmer

          Who’s to say someone didn’t make the whole thing up?

        • MattB

          The evidence

        • wtfwjtd

          What “evidence” are you referring to? All we’ve got are the gospel stories, period. You don’t even have any evidence for this grand oral tradition you speak of, just supposition and wishful thinking, mostly.

        • MattB

          No. That’s where you’re wrong. We have non-Christian sources and Paul’s epsitles as well.

          Here’s more info on Oral Tradition and the Gospels http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/religion/story/oral.html

        • wtfwjtd

          We have 0, that’s zero, contemporary historical references to Jesus. What biographical details of Jesus’ life does Paul provide? He seems to know nothing of Jesus, except what he’s learned from reading the Hebrew scriptures.

        • MattB

          And just like we have “zero” “0” pieces of contemporary writings from billions of people in the ancient world. Paul is a contemporary of Jesus because he met Jesus’ brother “James” as well as Jesus’ disciple “Peter”.

        • wtfwjtd

          So you are using a character (Paul) from the New Testament, to vouch for the veracity of the New Testament? I don’t think I need to tell you, that’s circular reasoning. We have zero non-biblical contemporary references for Jesus. Are you still disputing this?

        • MattB

          That’s not circular reasoning. Circular reasoning is where you put your premise as your conclusion and I haven’t done that.

          Paul is an independent source apart from the Gospels, who actually wrote before the Gospels.

        • wtfwjtd

          I still don’t get your point here. So maybe Paul heard some of the Jesus stories, and had a conversion, big deal. How does this vouch for the veracity of the resurrection account, or any other gospel story?

        • MattB

          My point is that your argument that we have no contemporary evidence for Jesus is wrong and misleading.

        • wtfwjtd

          Please note, I said we have no contemporary evidence *outside of the New Testament*, a totally and completely accurate statement. And once again, I have to ask, how does Paul’s writings vouch for the veracity of the resurrection account, or any other gospel story?

        • MattB

          Why are you trying to change the subject? And we don’t need contemporary evidence outside of the NT to confirm a historical Jesus. We have independent accounts that are verifiable by the historical method. And we do have non-biblical accounts to confirm the existence of Jesus.

        • wtfwjtd

          I’m not arguing whether Jesus was a historical figure or not. I’m arguing that the accounts for this historical Jesus as contained in the gospels are largely made-up fiction. The stories may have been based on an actual character but they are largely made up and not historical, and we have no extrabiblical references to verify any of these stories. See the difference?

        • MattB

          But that’s not entirely correct.

        • wtfwjtd

          Make your case then, I’m all ears (eyes).

        • MattB

          Why should I if you’re just going to deny it?

        • wtfwjtd

          So you are saying you can’t make a convincing case for the historicity of the gospels? Well, we appear to be in agreement on this issue, at least.

        • MattB

          No, now you’re just straw-manning me. I’m simply saying that no amount of information that mainstream scholars have put forth is going to convince someone who holds to a fringe idea(mythicism).

        • wtfwjtd

          You seem to still be laboring under the premise that I’m arguing against the historicity of Jesus. As I told you, I am doing no such thing. I asked you to make a case for the historicity of the gospel stories, not whether or not the character they are based on is an actual historical figure. This is what you seem unable, or unwilling, to do, for whatever reason.
          The gospel stories are largely embellished fiction, even though they may be based on a historical figure. How’s that for clarity?

        • Lbj

          Help me out. How could “The gospel stories are largely embellished fiction, even though they may be based on a historical figure”? Who is this historical and what is the evidence for him?

        • wtfwjtd

          This historical figure the gospels are based on is Jesus, and there’s zero evidence for him outside of the gospel stories.

        • Lbj

          That is not true. Non-Christian Sources 17 ancient non-Christian sources including:
          Historians:Josephus, Tacitus, Suetonius, Thallus, Phlegon Government Officials: Pliny the Younger, Emperor Trajan, Emperor Hadrian
          Other sources including The Jewish Talmud and Greek writer Lucian

        • wtfwjtd

          All those guys wrote decades after the life of Jesus, and based their accounts on second-hand information. Besides, at best, they only confirmed his existence, not the veracity of any of the gospel stories. I’m not contesting his existence, I’m asking for confirming evidence for the veracity of the gospel stories outside of the New Testament. For this, there is nothing.

        • Lbj

          Ok. What confirming evidence do we have for the veracity of anyone in the Roman empire? Show me someone who has 4 independent eyewitness accounts of the their lives like we have for Christ?

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Huh? The gospels aren’t independent, and we have no good reason to imagine they’re from eyewitness sources.

        • Lbj

          Of course they are independent because they were written by different authors at different times and in different places. Luke interviews the eyewitnesses (Luke 1:1-4). Matthew and John (John 19:35) were disciples of Jesus and Mark wrote down what Peter told him to.

          These accounts also read like eyewitness accounts. Many of the historical details have been proven to be correct.

          Let me ask you as I asked wfftd–“What confirming evidence do we have for the veracity of anyone in the Roman empire? Show me someone who has 4 independent eyewitness accounts of the their lives like we have for Christ?”

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Of course they are independent because they were written by different authors at different times and in different places.

          Of course they aren’t independent because Matthew and Luke copy from Mark! What eyewitness author would do that?

          Matthew and John (John 19:35) were disciples of Jesus and Mark wrote down what Peter told him to.

          Have you researched this at all? Are you just in high school or something? You really need to do a lot of reading of what atheists propose so we don’t have to go from square 1.

          Just because the Gospel of Matthew has the name Matthew in it doesn’t mean that it was written by a guy named Matthew. First, just because it has the name doesn’t mean that that’s actually the author. Second, the history of how the gospels were given their names gives very little confidence that these names are the actual authors. (Have you researched this question? I’m guessing not: search “Papias” here for more)

          These accounts also read like eyewitness accounts.

          So does Lord of the Rings.

          Many of the historical details have been proven to be correct.

          Like that there really was a town call Jerusalem? Wow. Stop the presses.

          Show me someone who has 4 independent eyewitness accounts of the their lives like we have for Christ

          Show me 4 independent eyewitness accounts of Christ.

        • Lbj

          If someone writes about 911 today and uses some of the previous reports on it does that mean its not an independent account?

          Its not uncommon for authors to use other sources that are available and use some of their material. We would still consider it to be an independent account even when this is done.

          The 4 gospels have always had those 4 names always associated with them since the beginning. We have the witness of Papias also which confirms them.

          So you agree that the gospel accounts read like eyewitness accounts?
          We know the gospel account a lot of the historical details correct with people and events in this period.

          The 4 independent accounts are Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

          You failed to answer my last question. I think its because we both know there is none.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          If someone writes about 911 today and uses some of the previous reports on it does that mean its not an independent account?

          Yes.

          The 4 gospels have always had those 4 names always as sociated with them since the beginning.

          Wrong. Unless you want to say that they were written in the early second century.

          We have the witness of Papias also which confirms them.

          You do realize how sucky this evidence is, right? Dude is 70-80 years from the events and 40 years from Mark, and we’re to trust his attributions?

          So you agree that the gospel accounts read like eyewitness accounts?

          Not at all. They’re a collection of anecdotes with little to fix them in time. There’s no “And then two months later …” to introduce a new story.

          We know the gospel account a lot of the historical details correct with people and events in this period.

          Again: wow. Just wow.

          And Wizard of Oz mentions Kansas, which is a real place. Indeed, I’ve been there! Bingo—what more evidence do you need?

          The 4 independent accounts are Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

          You just keep saying it and it becomes true, like magic?

          You failed to an swer my last question. I think its because we both know there is none.

          I ran over your last question, then backed up to run over it again and left it to die by the side of the highway.

          Or are you asking about the Roman empire question (which was the penultimate question, based on question marks, at least)? My answer (if it sounds familiar, that’s because I’ve already given it): historians purge the stories of Julius Caesar, etc. of supernatural elements and call them history. They know what to do with stories like the gospel: there’s a bin labeled Mythology for them. There are plenty of similar stories, and they can keep each other company.

          Imagine the story of Julius Caesar stripped of all the supernatural elements: he conquered Gaul and became the ruler of the Roman Empire. Pretty impressive. Now strip the Jesus story of all supernatural elements. You have an unknown and unimportant rabble rouser in a teeny, forgettable province. The Jesus story is nothing but its supernatural elements.

        • Lbj

          What are the characteristics of an independent account?

          It is not wrong to claim that the 4 gospels have always had those four names associated. To prove it wrong you need to show other names associated with them in the first few centuries.

          So my last question shows there are no other independent accounts of anyone else in the 1st century as we see with the gospels.

          Just because there are supernatural elements in the gospels does not mean they are not true. To disprove the supernatural you need to demonstrate that there cannot be a god or that the universe we see is all there is. Without doing that all you are doing is asserting something without any facts.

          It is true it is impossible to separate Jesus from His miracles. His miracles prove there is a God and its the God of Scripture.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          What are the characteristics of an independent account?

          Huh? It’s an account that doesn’t use another source. Example: four eyewitnesses to a crime would give independent accounts only if they were kept separate and didn’t compare stories. The synoptics are not independent.

          To prove it wrong you need to show other names associated with them in the first few centuries.

          To prove it wrong you need to show that the names weren’t associated with them on day 1.

          Wow …

          Just because there are supernatural elements in the gospels does not mean they are not true. To disprove the supernatural …

          I can’t and won’t disprove the supernatural. That’s not my burden.

          Yes, supernatural in the gospels doesn’t prove them false. However, “Yeah, but you can’t prove my position false!” is a weak statement. My recommendation: never, ever use it again. Makes you look foolish and gets you laughed at. You need to bring your A game here, OK?

          you need to demonstrate that there cannot be a god or that the universe we see is all there is

          Wrong. Atheism is the default.

          His miracles prove there is a God and its the God of Scripture.

          We don’t have “his miracles.” We have stories of his miracles. See the difference?

        • Pofarmer

          The Gospels are most emphatically NOT written like eyewitness testimony. In the first place, they are written in third person omniscient narrative.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          And there is no timeline. There’s never any “And then two months later …” to introduce a change in scene.

        • MNb

          So you reject the hypothesis of the Q-document? It’s based on the conclusion that the Gospels are not independent. Well, since a while I think all apologists must reject science sooner or later. You reject stemmatics.

        • Lbj

          I know scholars mention it but there is no evidence for it.

        • MNb

          I know physicists mention that things fall down on far away planets but there is no evidence for it.
          Thanks for confirming that you reject the scientific method. See, there is fine evidence that stemmatics is reliable. But I suppose you are not interested.

        • Lbj

          The scientific method is helpful but it has its limitations. The physicist assumes that things fall down on far away planets because he assumes by faith that gravity is the same throughout the cosmos.

        • wtfwjtd

          “The physicist assumes that things fall down on far away planets because he assumes by faith that gravity is the same throughout the cosmos.”

          Please, please tell me–you’re joking, right?

        • Lbj

          No joke. It is impossible to test every square of the universe. Science must assume by faith that the laws of nature are the same in every place in the universe because there is no way to go out there and test every square inch of the universe.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          I think the word you’re looking for is “trust.”

          Science has proved itself trustworthy.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Wow–sounds like you know your Bible scholarship.

          What explains the synoptic problem then?

        • Lbj

          4 different people writing about the same person at different times and places will share some similarities and yet have differences.

          We know this is true even today. Have 4 different people write about 911 over the next 10 years and you will find similarities and differences. They will all share the same core events but differ on the details.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          That’s not an explanation of the synoptic problem, but never mind. Let’s just pretend that it is and move on.

        • wtfwjtd

          … and what are the odds that they will explain the exact same events with the exact same words? Pretty low, wouldn’t you say? In fact, so low we would know beyond reasonable doubt that they were copying from each other. *That’s* your synoptic problem.

        • MNb

          Two suffices.
          John the Baptist.
          Julius Caesar.

        • Lbj

          Where can I see these 4 independent accounts of John the Baptist or Julius Caesar?

        • MNb

          I said two, not four. Moreover the authors of the Gospels are not independent.
          For John the Baptist we have the Gospels and Flavius Josephus:

          http://www.livius.org/men-mh/messiah/messianic_claimants19.html

          For Julius Caesar we have Plutarchus, JC himself, Cassius Dio, Appianus and Suetonius. That makes five:

          http://www.livius.org/caa-can/caesar/caesar00.html

          There might be even more than five. You’re welcome.

        • Lbj

          Are these eyewitness accounts? Did Flavius Josephus meet John the Baptist?

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Why ask? You have no eyewitness accounts.

          (And “Yes I do!!” isn’t convincing evidence.)

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          You’ve read all these sources? I’m guessing not and that you just got this list from an apologetics source, since they add very little to your position.

        • Lbj

          They may add a little and they don’t take anything away.

        • Greg G.

          But all those sources attest is that there were people who believed there was an early first century Jesus about two generations too late to actually know that.

          I answered your challenge and you said you would call the resurrection a superstition. You aren’t going to reneg on that promise, are you?

        • Lbj

          Those sources attest to the some of the facts of the gospels.

          You have not refuted the evidence for the resurrection. Show me with some facts that the gospels are fakes. If you can’t then you should believe in the resurrection.

        • Greg G.

          Those sources attest to the some of the facts of the gospels.

          What are the sources of those sources? If they are getting the information from the gospels, then they are only evidence of what the gospels say. None of them were born when Jesus was supposed to have lived so they had to have had other sources.

          You have not refuted the evidence for the resurrection.

          What you call evidence is misread text. I have shown that everything Paul says about Jesus comes from information that was hundreds of years old. He doesn’t know about a recent Jesus. I have shown that he thinks he knows as much as the other apostles. Paul claims he got his information from reading scripture. He describes the others “appeared to” using the same verbiage that he describes his own (I’m talking 1 Corinthians 15 here). That is evidence that he doesn’t think their knowledge came in a manner different than his own.

          Show me with some facts that the gospels are fakes.

          Fakes? They can be fictional stories without being fakes. I have provided you with a link to a collection of studies by NT scholars that each show some part of Mark is from another older literary source. Combined, they account for every major deed done by Jesus, plus many of the other characters. The other gospels rely heavily on Mark. Matthew and Luke copy Mark verbatim while John uses some of Mark’s fictional stories and some of his story-telling techniques.

          If you can’t then you should believe in the resurrection.

          No, your acceptance of a proposition should be no stronger than the evidence for the proposition. I cannot prove that you are not an alien from another planet but that is insufficient to think that it is true. I can imagine many things but I shouldn’t believe my imaginations simply because they include contrivances that prevent them from being false.

          Your evidence for the resurrection is as strong as the evidence for most superstitions. You should relegate that belief to a superstition, just as you promised.

        • Pofarmer

          I take it you’ve never read “Age of Reason”? Still relevant.

          As far as fakes, once again, Randal Helms details how many miracles attributed to Jesus are recycled from e OT. Macdonald relates how many episodes relate to episodes used by Homer. For instance,mthe Legion of Demons and the wild man. The birth account was tacked on after Mark, and the two
          Gospels that have ot, disagree on it, the killing if the infants is certainly not historical, nor os the star of Bethlehem. If there is a historical kernal in their, it is small indeed.

        • MNb

          The quickest way to piss Jona Lendering off is to do a calculation of Jesus’ birth year using the Star of Bethlehem. It is another myth and hence says nothing about his birth year. I would have to look up the meaning of this myth though.

        • Lbj

          Do you have the original source by Homer that shows him or someone doing miracles in the same way and fashion that Jesus did?

          It is true that some of the miracles Jesus did were like the ones God did in the OT. We should expect this given that Jesus was God-incarnate and was the representative of God.

          More assertions to claim -“the killing if the infants is certainly not historical, nor is the star of Bethlehem”. No counter facts to support this so there is no reason to take it seriously.

        • Pofarmer

          The technique to use the narrative of one story to help form another story is called mimesis, and it was a common literary technique.

          The thing about Jesus miracles is that many of them are almost identical to miraclez of elijah and elisha. Once again, read Randal Helms.

          HEROD had several biographers, some friendly, some unfriendly, including Josephus, none of them record the killing of the innocents. Pretty much the same for the star of bethlehem. Many cultures were looking at the night sky and none of then noticed anything with the right desription. An astrophysicist released an entire book on it last winter. There’s lots more, but you have a long reading list if you want to get your game out of the minor leaguez.

        • MNb

          Of course they attest to some of the “facts” of the Gospels. Because they knew, even indirectly, those Gospels and took those “facts” over.

        • enigel

          What you are asking is stupid. If you cannot refute the existence of leprechauns, we have a lot of historical people who witnessed leprechauns, then you should believe in leprechauns.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          That’s rhetorical, I assume. There’s no way that J would go back on his public promise.

        • Pofarmer

          The only one of those close enough in time and location to be useful is Joseph, and the passages mentioning Christ Jesus in his works are disputed or known forgeries. If there were this compelling evidence for Josephus, why did he remain a jew?

        • MNb

          Nobody from Tacitus on is independent. Tacitus for instance got his information from the christian community in Rome. We may assume those Roman christians used some protoversion of the NT. Hence Greg’s conclusion underneath is correct.

        • enigel

          Again and again, non-Christian sources DO NOT say there was a Jesus. Those non-Christian sources admit there was a Christian sect. Period.
          Then you come with your delusion that whatever the Christian sect fabricated as base of their religion “must” be true because there was indeed a guy who was crucified.

        • Jay

          How could there be a Christian sect without a historical Jesus? Do these non-Christian sources say there was no Jesus and that it was all made up?

        • enigel

          OK, so you have a Christian sect that started fabricating a “saviour” story by seeing *real* guy who was crucified and put this guy in the context of *real* Roman history. Then after 40-50 years, some historians describe the sect of Christians. Of course the crucified guy is real, but the fabrication made on this guy are not.

        • enigel

          You mean a historically fabrication, the bible, about a guy who existed? I am with you here.

        • MattB

          So you do agree Jesus existed? Okay at first it sounded like you didn’t.

        • enigel

          You are totally annoying.
          I am telling you that a historical Jesus just does NOT confirm that there was a virgin birth, resurrection, etc. Those are Christian LIES, not even myths.

        • MattB

          The Resurrection is based on historical fact

        • enigel

          You just defined your delusion.
          Finally you understand!

        • Greg G.

          No, they read that in the OT and figured it was about their Jesus:

          Hosea 6:2 (NRSV)
          After two days he will revive us;
          on the third day he will raise us up,
          that we may live before him.

          Have you got the nerve to look at the Pauline quotes and the OT predecessors? Have you found a quote from Paul about Jesus that doesn’t have an OT predecessor?

        • MattB

          Again, this is still problematic and it’s not quite sure what scriptures the early church were thinking of when they came to the surprising realization of Jesus’ resurrection. A more likely candidtate would be with Jonah and the whale:

          Jesus himself said in Matthew’s Gospel 12:40″ For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.”

        • Greg G.

          It could be but I think it is less likely. Matthew is the only New Testament book that quotes Jonah and I can’t think of any other allusions to it in the New Testament.

          OTOH, Paul quotes Hosea 2:23 in Romans 9:25, Hosea 1:10 in Romans 9:26 and quotes Hosea 13:14 in 1 Corinthians 15:55. In Romans, Paul even states he is quoting from Romans.

          Paul says that Christ was raised on the third day in 1 Corinthians 15:4 “according to the scriptures”. Then he directly quotes from Hosea later in the same chapter where he discusses the Messiah returning and swallowing up death (Isaiah 25:8) followed by Hosea 13:14 (“Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”).

          So we know Paul read Hosea and used it but we have no confirmation that he got anything from Jonah.

          Beside the “three nights” is problematic for Matthew.

        • Pofarmer

          As Bart Ehrman said to WLC, the resurection may be theologically true, but it is not historically true.”

        • MattB

          Well Bart is wrong here.

        • Pofarmer

          Well, obviously he is. The guy who rights seminary textbooks on the NT is obviously completely uninformed on the subject.

        • CodyGirl824

          Matt, I highly recommend Micheal Bird, Craig Evans, Simon Gathercole, Charles Hill and Chris Tilling’s book (2014) title “How God became Jesus: The real origins of belief in Jesus’ divine nature.” These scholars do a thorough and thoughtful critique of Bart Ehrman’s theories about the NT in response to his book “How Jesus became God.” These authors consider Ehrman to be a popular but controversial scholar who is “the resident religious skeptic on the Colbert Report” who is “almost always wrong” (Michael Bird, p. 8). Don’t let our atheist friends on this blog overstate Ehrman’s credentials or credibility among NT scholars.

          Thanks for your valuable contributions to the discussion.

        • MattB

          Thank for the suggestion Cody! While I do find Bart to be an intellectual and bright scholar, he is nevertheless wrong on some things about Jesus.

        • Pofarmer

          Whenever you guys say scholar, I am going to insert apologist.

        • Greg G.

          Maybe you can pin Cody down on what she means by gods and souls. She seems to speak Christianese but she has her own private definitions for the words. I argued with her for a couple of days on souls only to realize that her meaning was simply “mental processes of the brain”. Her definition may have changed in the last two weeks though.

        • MattB

          That isn’t true. Tacitus and Josephus for example mention Jesus being crucified under Pilate; something the Gospels mention. This means they are an independent, non-Christian Source(s) for Jesus of Nazareth.

        • enigel

          Tacitus and Josephus mention what Christian sects mentioned, that Christians are deluded into thinking that some guy resurrected, thus the incipience of their religious sect.
          If I’d be an historian and mention that the Greeks believed in Zeus, does that mean that Greeks, who are historically attested, did see Zeus?
          You just continue playing on this thin stupid line:A Jesus is historic thus all that lies made up by Christians, like virgin birth, resurrection etc are also attested historically.
          You can fool only your brethren with that lies.

        • MattB

          I never said because Jesus existed, therefore the resurrction, the virgin birth, and other events happened. You’re straw-manning my argument.

          Your still maintaining something that isn’t correct. Tacitus and Josephus mention the crucifixion of Jesus as something that actually happened.

        • enigel

          Tacitus born in the year 56 CE, Josephus born in the year 37 CE. Aren’t those clues for you that they just wrote how Christians were lying about virgin birth, resurrection and other “miracles”? Lies Christians put on a real, historical village idiot crucified by Romans?

          Not even the next generation, after Jesus, had proof of Jesus resurrection, just lies told by a sect of Christians.

        • MattB

          The Resurrection isn’t a lie told by Christian sect. The Burial. The Empty Tomb and the apperances of Jesus show that he was the Son of God

        • enigel

          Yes, the resurrection is a Christian lie, a lie on which they base their religion.
          People who were village idiots, or people who where crucified are attested historically, Jesus for example.

        • MattB

          So you’re claiming that Jesus burial and his apperances are lies, when they are accepted as historical facts?

        • Greg G.

          The Resurrection is not accepted as fact outside of religion.

        • MattB

          I said that there are facts to back it up that criticial scholars agree on.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          I bitchslap Habermas’s resurrection argument here.

        • Greg G.

          Perhaps I misunderstood “So you’re claiming that Jesus burial and his apperances are lies, when they are accepted as historical facts?”

        • MattB

          No, I said that scholars agree with events that lead up to the resurrection. However, they don’t know how to explain these facts(The Burial, The empy tomb the apperances). I didn’t however say that they believe in the resurrection of Jesus

        • Pofarmer

          Why was there no tomb veneration early on? What evidence do we have for any appearances out side the Gospels? Why weren’t the Jewish leaders immediately swayed?

        • MattB

          There’s no tomb veneration early on because Jesus’ body had been reported Missing. The Gospels draw on independent early sources to confirm the empty tomb. The Jewish leaders accuzed the disciples of stealing the body from the tomb.

          http://www.bethinking.org/did-jesus-rise-from-the-dead/the-historicity-of-the-empty-tomb-of-jesus

        • Pofarmer

          If that is your idea of scholarship, there really is no reason for further discussion. It is outright apologetics.

        • MattB

          It’s not outright “apologetics”. This research is based on Gary Habermas’ survey of Secular, Liberl, and conservative/evangelical scholars from 1975-today

          http://www.garyhabermas.com/articles/southeastern_theological_review/minimal-facts-methodology_08-02-2012.htm

        • enigel

          Sorry, but you are dumber than I thought.

          What historians attest is that a guy named Jesus, or Jeshua, or Yeshua existed as a village idiot and was crucified and thrown somewhere. Nobody can find any grave not even of this fictitious ” Joseph of Arimathea” who borrowed the grave to Jesus.That’s it.

          Of course the Christian lies, like virgin birth (how the hell can you attest that shit “historically”?), or resurrection (how the hell can you look at an empty grave and “historically” attest that whatever was in it “resurrected”?)

          Of course Christians use this stupid trick, that if there were Romans then whatever you say that happened in the Roman times, is true. The trick is stupid, but those who fall to it are stupider.

        • MattB

          So now you resort to name-calling? Very mature.

          Well he’s not an idiot like you claim he was. And about 75% of secular and religious scholars who have published on the topic agree with Jesus’ burial by JoA and his tomb being found empty by women. The Church of the Holy Sepulchre is thought to be the place of Jesus’ burial

          Over 95% of historians who have published on the topic agree with the apperances of Jesus to his disciples

        • enigel

          If you are not dumb then you are intentionally deceiving people. You try to brainwash me to have faith that if 75% of scholars agree, I have to be as idiot as them.

          Who gives a shit about what scholars say? They have an interest to make money using religion, not to show the truth. Boy, you have a lot to learn!

        • MattB

          So now scholars and historians are dumb? Do you have a Phd in ancient history, archaeology, or biblical studies Enigel? Please, tell me what university you teach at?

          http://www.troll.me/images/creepy-willy-wonka/please-tell-me-more-thumb.jpg

          And, no, scholars aren’t looking to make money. Look at what secular scholars say on these issues.

        • enigel

          Please tell me more about how secular scholars, when it comes to “study” religious history, don’t look for money.

          If they can make money on the stupidity of people, they are not dumb.

        • MattB

          Are you this ignorant? Do you call everyone stupid or dumb whenever they disagree with you?

          And no. Secular scholars aren’t looking for a quick paycheck like mythicists(Earl Doherty, Richard Carrier, DM Murdock). They’re doing their job in teaching the facts.

        • enigel

          No, I am not an ignorant. I know the religion is a big business based on taking money from stupid people.
          You are caught in the stupid game between “mythicists” and “historical Jesus” . Have fun!

        • Greg G.

          Over 95% of historians who have published on the topic agree with the apperances of Jesus to his disciples

          Sure, that’s plausible but meaningless. How many serious historians would comment on that subject?

        • MattB

          3-4 thousand have.

        • enigel

          Read my answer above. Still 3-4 thousands historians can make money using religion. Go and buy their books, otherwise they will be begging at the corner of the street.
          Christianity is a big industry since Constantine.

        • Greg G.

          How many of those were religiously biased? We don’t know because the guy who is making the claim won’t share his data.

        • MattB

          We do know. The statistics show that 75% agree with the empty tomb and that 95% agree with the apperances. Secular, liberal and conservative. The fact is they all agree.

        • Greg G.

          What is your source for this claim? Can you provide a link, please?

        • MattB
        • Greg G.

          Thank you. I thought you were referring to Habermas. That link doesn’t mention 75% or 95%.

          Bob discussed that a few months ago.
          http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/2014/02/scholarly-consensus-for-the-jesus-resurrection/

        • MattB

          On one of his articles, he mentions the percentages. I don’t know if that was the right link but you can see elsewhere on his website.

        • enigel

          If you are not dumb then you are intentionally deceiving people. Why should I believe in what historians “agree”?
          Historians, especially those who “study” religious “facts”, are in for the money, not for the truth.

        • Pofarmer

          Lol. The Church of the Holy Sepulcher was pretty much picked out of a hat.

        • MattB

          Lol. No it wasn’t. The Church of the Holy Sepulcher has archaeological evidence to support it’s location

        • wtfwjtd

          Sure it does, just like all the other tombs of Jesus that have been “discovered” over the years:

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tomb_of_Jesus

          One even claims to contain his bones, and that of his family’s.

        • MattB

          The Talpiot Tomb isn’t the real tomb of Jesus for many reasons. It’s not supported by archaeologists. There are very good reasons for accepting the CHS tomb over the talpiot tomb.

        • wtfwjtd

          There’s very good reasons for rejecting all of them as phony tourist traps. None of them have any credibility.

        • Pofarmer

          It is pretty remarkable though, that the Church of the Holy Sepulcher contains not only the tomb, but the post hole where the cross was erected, and the blood ran through the cracked rock through to the skull of Adam who was also buried there and thereby atoned for the worlds sins. It truly is remarkable.

        • wtfwjtd

          Yes, that’s quite a bizarre narrative. I guess when Constantine wanted to “discover” the tomb of Jesus, he pulled out all the stops! Go big or go home, I guess.

          Doesn’t it also happen to be a Muslim Holy site for one reason or another? Religious folks just can’t keep away from that spot, it seems.

        • wtfwjtd

          What empty tomb? Where is it located? I’d like to visit this place.

        • Greg G.

          Tacitus born in the year 56 CE, Josephus born in the year 37 CE.

          I remember things that happened 25 years before I was born like it was yesterday. Hmmm… what did I do yesterday?

        • enigel

          It’s a stupid thing to say: “Tacitus and Josephus mention the crucifixion of Jesus as something that actually happened.”, when Tacitus and Josephus did not witness any Jesus that Christian sects were talking about.

          Moreover, if you read about Josephus writings, you’ll find out that Paul epistles plagiarizes Josephus style, and that Christians, who had monopoly on Josephus manuscripts, falsified and embellished the Josephus manuscripts.

        • Greg G.

          He has been on that with me, insisting that Tacitus got his information from Roman records. I pointed out that Tacitus usually cites his source but he doesn’t in the one that mentions Pilate. He calls him a procurator (civilian governor) but we know that he was a prefect (military governor). If he was getting it from a Latin source, especially if it was from Pilate’s time, it should have been correct. Greek doesn’t distinguish between the Roman words for governor so it looks like Tacitus got it either directly or indirectly from a Greek speaker.

        • Greg G.

          I have been studying Paul. He says he didn’t get his knowledge about Jesus from any human source. He tells us that he gets it from secret long hidden mysteries in the scriptures, which means they not explicitly about the Messiah. Is Paul telling the truth? He talks about Jesus a lot, mentioning him about every three verses, though seldom giving information. I have collected every fact Paul relates about Jesus and have found that there is an Old Testament antecedent for everything Paul says, much of in Isaiah about the Suffering Servant. So, yes, Paul is telling the truth when he says he didn’t learn anything from a human source. Furthermore, he doesn’t think he is lacking knowledge compared to the other apostles. He seems to think the others got their information the same way he did. So if Paul didn’t think they got their information from a human source and he knew them personally, why should we think the other apostles knew this Jesus?

        • wtfwjtd

          “Furthermore, he doesn’t think he is lacking knowledge compared to the other apostles. He seems to think the others got their information the same way he did. ”

          I keep highlighting this, Paul tells us in 2 Cor 11:5 that he is not the least inferior to the super-apostles, and he claims to have as much knowledge about Jesus as they do. Either he’s a liar, a blowhard, or he’s genuinely unaware that Peter is portrayed as Jesus’ right-hand man in the gospel stories. I happen to think it’s the last one on that list. And, since he says he knows as much about Jesus as any other apostle, and he knows what he knows via revelation only, then obviously that’s how he believes they learned about Jesus as well.

        • Pofarmer

          And he also never calls them disciples, only apostles. Where is their any indication in Paul thay Cephas and James knew Jesus?

        • wtfwjtd

          “Where is their any indication in Paul thay Cephas and James knew Jesus?”

          Not that I’m aware of. In fact, Greg has cited places where Paul and Peter have a disagreement, and Paul takes Jesus’s side of the argument, and it’s as though Peter never heard Jesus talk about the subject (of food) at all! I’ve been getting a sneaking suspicion that the 12 disciples are a fictional creation, although a few of them probably are based on actual characters from the early days of Christianity.

        • Greg G.

          Yes, Galatians 2 shows up in Mark 7.

          These articles might shed some light on the names of the disciples:
          The Twelve Disciples: their names, name-meanings, associations, etc
          More Puns in the Gospel of Mark: People and Places

          I think one of them talks about Bartholomew is an Aramaic form of “son of Ptolemy”. It’s like Mark is trying to have disciples from all over the planet.

          I posted something a few months ago that the Twelve in 1 Corinthians 15 might have been Temple officials. Two were at the top, three had other functions, and seven were each in charge of one of the seven gates. Too much yard work today to try to find it right now.

        • wtfwjtd

          Yes, I found that link you gave me to that vridar site about the disciples here awhile back very useful. There was a guy there arguing they were not made up, but I didn’t find it very convincing. IIRC, the lists of the 12 are actually different in a couple of the gospels, which could be an indicator that they are more symbolic than actual.

        • Pofarmer

          The 12 is obviously highly symbolic. I still think James and John represent “the twins” from Greek mythology. Does Paul anywhere else talk about the 12 or mention anything about them?

        • Greg G.

          The Twelve are only mentioned once in the epistles and the 500 are only mentioned once in the Bible.

          Paul calls Peter, James, and John the pillars, and expresses disdain that anyone thinks of themselves as more important that anyone else. He also describes Peter as changing his behavior because of fear of the circumcision faction. We see those same three characters being the Three Stooges to Jesus’ Ted Healy in Mark, where Judas plays a small but important roll and Andrew gets mentioned one other time while we never hear about the rest of them again. But Mark had John and James asking to sit on either hand when Jesus comes into glory so Mark portrays them like Castor and Pollux.

          Mark has Peter being consistent with his fear of authority. The story recalls Elisha promising to stay with Elijah three times but fails once when a chariot comes down and takes Elijah away. Peter promises once to stand with Jesus when others don’t. So while Jesus confesses who he is to Pilate and is told to Prophesy, Peter is afraid three times to admit it to a couple of servant girls and a bystander, thus simultaneously fulfilling Jesus’ prophesy when he was ordered to prophesy.

          I think Mark was a fantastic story teller and a master at weaving two and three different pieces of literature into one narrative.

          Paul only mentions one James and I think that was the only James. Mark has another disciple by that name and uses Paul’s “brother of the Lord” snark to create a third James.

        • Greg G.

          Either he’s a liar, a blowhard, or he’s genuinely unaware that Peter is portrayed as Jesus’ right-hand man in the gospel stories. I happen to think it’s the last one on that list. And, since he says he knows as much about Jesus as any other apostle, and he knows what he knows via revelation only, then obviously that’s how he believes they learned about Jesus as well.

          I was expressing something that occured to me today that Paul said (1) he didn’t receive any oral traditions and he says (2) he got his revelations from scripture and we can check whether he is telling the truth about those two claims by examining every claim he makes about Jesus. I’ve found about 30 factual claims (that is, not fawning over him) that Paul makes and each one of them contains information from the OT. So that confirms his two claims about how he got his information.

          In Galatians 1, Paul tells us he spent 15 days with Peter in Jerusalem. If Peter had known Jesus, Paul would certainly have learned this the first day. Since Claim 1 and Claim 2 check out over several letters, Paul should be considered rather reliable on other claims that he has personal knowledge of. So, I would lean toward the fourth option – Paul was genuinely aware that Peter did not know Jesus.

        • wtfwjtd

          Well, options 3 and 4 aren’t mutually exclusive, and I certainly can’t argue with your conclusion. As we’ve discussed, disputes between Paul and Peter were never settled with a “Jesus said”, which seems almost unbelievable, especially given the size of Paul’s ego. You can bet if Peter could have done this, he certainly would have.
          That’s another good point, if Peter really was Jesus’s right-hand man, it seems likely at some point he would have given Paul an earful of it, just to put him in his place.

        • Greg G.

          There are four passages in Paul’s letters that people take as being quotes from the Lord but he apparently means they come from the Lord through the scriptures:

          1 Corinthians 7:10-11 > Deuteronomy 24:1-4
          1 Corinthians 9:13-14 > Deuteronomy 18:3-8
          1 Corinthians 11:23-26 > Psalm 41:9, Exodus 24:8, Leviticus 17:11, Jeremiah 31:31-34
          1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 Isaiah 26:19-21a, Daniel 7:11a, Daniel 13a, Daniel 12:2, Isaiah 25:8a

          Paul quotes scripture a lot but he never quotes Jesus, even when it would effectively settle his point. But it is the same with all the other early epistles, too. There would have to be a conspiracy among all the apostles to not write down anything Jesus said.

        • wtfwjtd

          Also, keep in mind, Jesus didn’t leave behind a single scrap of writing for anyone to parse or haggle over. So, who would be the final arbiter of any dispute in early Christianity? Peter, of course. Paul would be, what about 15th fiddle, or something even lower in the pecking order? There are no sayings to haggle over in the early days; just stuff supposedly floating around in Peter’s and the other disciples heads, as to what “Jesus” said. So how does Paul figure he can muscle in on this racket? He brings nothing to the conversation; all of what he has learned of his Jesus is via revelation. How would he even know what Christianity is about if it took him something like 3 years to even visit Jerusalem? This all makes no sense.

        • Pofarmer

          How in the world is something written 70 years after supposed events happened supposed to be an independent verification?

        • MattB

          Because of where Tacitus and Josephus got their sources from.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Tacitus and Josephus had good sources? Then quote those sources, not the late ones.

        • MNb

          This is an argument suspiciously like the “missing link” argument of creationists. Just like we know why so many fossils never will be found (according to Jerry Coyne more than 97%) we know why we can’t quote the sources Tacitus and Josephus used: they are lost forever.
          If you take this seriously you can’t say anything about Alexander the Great. The oldest sources about him we have are written 200, 300 years after his death. Are you going to demand that a historian who writes about Alexander should not use these late sources, but should use the lost earlier ones? No? Then you shouldn’t use this argument against Tacitus and FJ either.
          The correct question is “who are the sources” Tacitus, FJ and the earliest saved biographers of Alexander the Great used and how to judge them. In the case of Tacitus it becomes clear he is not independent; FJ is a hard nut and the sources used by the earliest saved biographers of Alexander the Great go back directly to the conquerer himself.

        • MNb

          The first got his sources from the christian community in Rome. We may safely assume they used some version of the NT and hence Tacitus is not independent. No historian of antiquity uses him to show the historicity of Jesus.

        • MattB

          No that is not correct. Historians agree that Tacitus got his information for the Annals from the Acta Senatus- The Roman Senate. Tacitus was a member of an inner circle within Rome and hence he had access to archives and documents through the Roman Senate. There’s no reason for him to use Christians as his sources when he despises and distrusts them.

        • Pofarmer

          It has been pointed out to you repeatedly that the most likely source is Christians. Josephus really isn’t a source at all.

        • MattB

          But that’s not correct becuase these two are not Christians and we know where they got their info from. It was from non-Christian sources. Tacitus from Acta Senatus(Roman Senate) and Josephus’s are from Jewish or other secular sources.

        • Pofarmer

          Greg G has responded to you already that tacitus doesn’t attribute his sources on christians. Josephis likewise never says, and the testimonium flavinium is nearly universally believed to be an interpolation which leaves you with another passage that is disputed because the early church fathers don’t mention it either.

        • MattB

          There are two Josephus passages. One of them is regarded as having an authentic nucleus or core that mentioned Jesus’ execution by Pilate and him being the founder of the movement. But then it is believed to have been later interpolated.

          The second passage by Josephus is highly authentic and shows no signs of forgery. And early church fathers did mention Josephus’ writings(Origen and Eusbeius).

        • Greg G.

          Pontius Pilate. We have a plaque that was chiseled with his name and position and was probably commissioned by him so we have hard contemporary evidence that he was governor of the region. Most everything else in Mark is embellished stories originally written about characters in other literature.

        • Lbj

          Huh??? Your statement about Pilate supports the reliability of the gospels.

          You wrote–“Most everything else in Mark is embellished stories originally written about characters in other literature.” I need some specific examples that prove what you are claiming here.

        • Pofarmer

          Obviously, there would never be any real charachters or places mixed into a fictional account. Jack Ryan is obviously real. Randal Helms “the gospel fictions” is a decent start.

        • Greg G.

          Huh??? Your statement about Pilate supports the reliability of the gospels.

          Is Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Slayer reliable support for vampires?

          I need some specific examples that prove what you are claiming here.

          New Testament Narrative as Old Testament Midrash by Robert M. Price

        • MattB

          Well that’s not what you were suggesting earlier in your previous comments. Here is a link to help answer your question:http://www.reasonablefaith.org/establishing-the-gospels-reliability

          Also, you have prejudice about historical sources. You don’t need outside sources to corroborate inside sources. The Gospel accounts are independent sources(although at times they borrow alot of the same information this is known as the “synoptic” problem).

        • wtfwjtd

          That’s all I’ve ever suggested here. As for “prejudice about historical sources?” I’m perfectly willing to do what modern historians do with all ancient accounts–scrub out the supernatural, and see what’s left. Let’s do that with the gospels, and then talk about their historicity.

          You aren’t seriously suggesting that the gospels are “independent accounts”, are you? Matthew copied 90 per cent of Mark,and Luke copied 50 per cent. Matthew and Luke share an additional 20 per cent. All of the gospels were written anonymously, and decades after the events the supposedly report, to boot. I’m afraid we have more than just a “synoptic” problem going on here.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Perhaps you already know this, but just to be clear: the Synoptic Problem isn’t “Dang! That these 3 gospels seem to be copying from one another doesn’t do much for our case. That’s a problem!”

          Rather, it’s given that there was copying going on, who copied from whom?

        • MattB

          Yes, but this is something scholars have known about for a while; certian source material might have been borrowed from one another, while yet other material is independent and comes from other sources.

        • MNb

          Now that’s a nice contradiction! “Borrowing the same information from each other” is exactly the definition of “not independent”.

          You want an example of independent sources? Plato and Xenophon. The mind boggling point here is that they totally contradict each other. Hence we can be sure Socrates is historical and know exactly zilch about the man and his life. When people discuss the philosophy of Socrates they are just lazy and actually mean “the philosophy of Socrates as presented by Plato”.

        • Lbj

          The burden is on you to demonstrate that the gospel accounts and I Cor 15 is “largely made-up fiction”. Its already been demonstrate the gospel accounts are historically reliable and not fictions.

        • wtfwjtd

          What evidence demonstrates the gospel accounts are historically reliable?

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Its already been demonstrate the gospel accounts are historically reliable and not fictions.

          Attempts have been made, but they fail. Don’t delude yourself that just because other Christians have convinced themselves that you’ve got this figured out.

          If you want to make an argument that the gospels are historical, go ahead. If you want to see refutations of many of these arguments, scan through the posts here using the All Posts tab above.

        • MNb

          I’m not an expert, but I know of two Gospel accounts which are conclusively shown to be mythical and not historical.
          The first one is the infanticide as described by Matthew. It plays the same role as Oedipus brought to the mountains, Paris of Troje brought to the woods and Moses left behind in a basket on the Nile. In all cases the point is to draw the attention of the reader: here we have someone who is miraculously saved because he is to play an important role as an adult. It’s an excellent literary effect. Because it’s fiction.
          The second one is Jesus exorcising demons, making them possess pigs and killing these pigs off by drowning them in a lake. These pigs symbolize the Roman occupiers; the story thus reflects the disgust the Hebrews felt for them, a disgust that also can be found in Judas. Hence fiction.

        • enigel

          What can be historically proven is that there was indeed a guy on which the church fabricated the gospels.
          I can demonstrate that the gospels are fictions because there were hundreds of gospels from which only four were chosen, not because they depicted real event, but because they fit the theological views of the primitive Christianity.

        • enigel

          Sorry Matt, you’re are either deluded or or just trying to delude other people. You say: “And we do have non-biblical accounts to confirm the existence of Jesus”

          Wrong! We have non-biblical accounts to confirm the existence of a Christian sect that fabricated a Jesus as a base of their religion. Yes, a Jesus can be fabricated based on a guy who happened to crucified, but that’s it, the rest about this guy is pure religious fabrication. As if religion could be anything but fabrications.

        • MattB

          I’m deluded for agreeing with the historical evidence that proves a historical Jesus, when all the secular sources confirm his existence and crucifixion, as well as him being the founder of the Christian movement?

        • enigel

          No. You are deluded into thinking that if a historical Jesus existed, then the whole fabrications about him are true.

        • MattB

          What? Now you’ve confused me. First you say I’m deluded for thinking a historical Jesus existed. Then you say I’m deluded for thinking the events surrounding his life are true?

        • enigel

          Where did I say that you are deluded for thinking that a historical Jesus existed?
          I said that you are deluded to think that if a historical Jesus existed, then all the fabrications made by Christianity, about a historical Jesus, are true.
          You must have a reading comprehension problem.

        • MattB

          “Sorry Matt, you’re are either deluded or or just trying to delude other people. You say: “And we do have non-biblical accounts to confirm the existence of Jesus”

          “Wrong! We have non-biblical accounts to confirm the existence of a Christian sect that fabricated a Jesus as a base of their religion. Yes, a Jesus can be fabricated based on a guy who happened to crucified, but that’s it, the rest about this guy is pure religious fabrication. As if religion could be anything but fabrications.”

        • enigel

          Yes, we do have non-biblical accounts to confirm the existence of a Jesus, BUT this is not the delusion, the delusion is, and continue to read, that you believe a historical Jesus support the lies Christians fabricate about a historical Jesus.
          Now is clear where your delusion stands?

        • MNb

          It’s a common but intellectually dishonest trick. Argue for a historical Jesus and then conclude the Resurrection is a historical event without further do.

        • enigel

          That’s what I am trying to tell Matt and he feigns that he doesn’t understand.

        • Jay

          Where is the evidence that Jesus was fabricated?

        • Greg G.

          Matt is the wrong person to ask that question. enigel asked where he had called Matt deluded so he quoted him.

          But since you asked. Paul says he didn’t get any knowledge of the gospel from oral tradition. He says he got it from revelation of secret wisdom and long hidden mysteries in the scripture. If those revelations were explicit, they wouldn’t be hidden, so he means he is taking scripture out-of-context and applying it to Jesus. Paul loves to talk about Jesus, nearly once every five verse but he gives us about 30 facts about Jesus, and every one of those facts can be found in the OT. So Paul was telling the truth. He knows nothing about a first century Jesus, he only knows things he took out of context from centuries old scriptures. He was reading the Suffering Servant in Isaiah and thought it was about Jesus being crucified in the distant past from his time. He even thinks the other apostles got their information about Jesus the same way.

          The Gospel of Mark is based on the literature of the day. The miracles of Jesus are updated versions of the miracles of Moses, Elijah, and Elisha. His travels around Galilee are a mimesis of Odysseus’ travels around the Mediterranean. The Passion narrative seems to be a mimesis of the death of Hector in Homer’s Iliad. Mark 7 on the food laws comes from the argument in Galatians 2. If the Mark story was true, there wouldn’t have been an argument because Paul agreed with Jesus and Peter was on the other side in the letter. Nearly every passage in Mark comes from the literature that was available then and we still have it today. Mark is the keystone of the gospels as Matthew and Luke copy from him verbatim while John uses Mark’s fabricated stories and some of his storytelling techniques.

          I have posted the details, including every verse where Paul gives a claim about Jesus and the OT verses the factiod was based on, but Matt ignores them. I’ll do it for you if you promise to read them. It takes a couple of hours to read Mark which you should do while comparing the verses, so just that part will take quite a while. The Paul stuff won’t take that long.

        • MattB

          There isn’t any.

        • Lbj

          Paul mentions details of the resurrection in I Cor 15:1-9 which was probably written in the mid 50’s

        • wtfwjtd

          Yes, and I Cor 15 is part of the New Testament. I’m asking for references *other* than the New Testament to provide evidence for the resurrection. There is none.

        • Lbj

          The church. The founding of the church and the spread of the gospel is evidence of the resurrection. The persecution of the martyrs is another. Some secular writers refer to Christians not worshiping the gods.

        • wtfwjtd

          The founding of the church? So you are a Mormon then?

          People are persecuted for all kinds of reasons, it doesn’t automatically make what they believe to be true.

          You’ve lost me on the secular writings, I’m not sure what you are referring to there.

        • MNb

          Which he got from Petrus and Jesus’ brother, who likely also (indirectly) informed the authors of the Gospels. Hence he is not independent on the issue of The Resurrection; perhaps on the historicity of a human Jesus. That’s far from enough to historically back christianism.

        • MattB

          The evidence and how oral tradition was practiced in a time and place like that. That’s not to say that historians don’t question certain stories about Jesus, but what I am saying is that to completely rule out the Gospel accounts and the NT as “myth” is a far cry from mythicists.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Your (very large) goal is to show that the Jesus story was not passed along as ordinary stories (then and now) are passed along, from person to person. Rather, only trained story tellers could’ve told this story, and the recipients would’ve been obliged to keep silent about the tale.

          Where’s the evidence for this bizarre idea?

        • MattB

          Please see comment below.

        • MNb

          In addition to BobS underneath: how do you know the story tellers between say 33 CE and 73 CE were skilled in the Oral Tradition? I don’t mean to dismiss the Oral Tradition (and am pretty sure neither does BobS) but I highly recommend healthy, let’s say scientific scepsis.
          Like this:

          http://www.livius.org/theory/maximalists-and-minimalists/

        • Pofarmer

          Christianity was a new sect vying for popularity. Why wouldn’t the tellers amp it up a bit?

        • MattB

          Your link has nothing to do with NT studies or oral tradition. Your link is talking about two sides in OT studies; mainly “Maxilists” and “Minimalists”.

          We know their skilled in Oral tradition because of the way it was used in that time period. That’s mainly how the uneducated Jews from Jesus’ time would have kept record. They would have been read the Torah(Hebrew Bible aka the OT) and memorized it. Oral tradition was a highly posssesed skill in ancient times. Here is a link by Scholars and Historians on Oral Tradition.http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/religion/story/oral.html

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          What are you saying? That the gospel story might have been memorized before being passed along? That sounds very far fetched, but let’s put that aside and say that that’s possible. That’s not enough. You must show that this incredible route of transmission (people never passing along the story that they hadn’t fully memorized) was at least the likely explanation for why the gospels are the way we have them.

          Why wouldn’t the story be passed along as a remarkable story is today?

        • MattB

          Yes, that’s what I am saying because that’s how Oral Tradition works. That’s not to say that historians don’t have difficulty with certain stories/events in Jesus’ life.

          I already did show you by explaining to you the method by which people in that time period communicated things. And historians can then use the criticial historical method to verify these oral traditions that circulated after Jesus’ life and find out which ones are more probable than not based on a number of Criteria.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          So your story is that the story might have been passed along exclusively by trained bards?

          1. Where’s the evidence that any story was ever passed along this way exclusively?

          2. Why is this transmission route likely? That is, why should we accept it as the best explanation for the Jesus story (I mean, besides because it would please you)?

        • MNb

          Yup. One of those criteria is that supernatural explanations are rejected. Because of the scientific method.
          Exit divine Jesus, exit The Resurrection.

        • Jay

          How can the “scientific method” prove or disprove a historical claim?

        • wtfwjtd

          Evidence, plain and simple. Supernatural explanations are scrubbed from historical accounts, for example, because there is no credible evidence to support any of them, ever. Simple, no?

        • Jay

          So you agree that you cannot apply the scientific method to historical claims?

          If we have good eyewitness accounts for a supernatural-miraculous event then we do have credible evidence.
          The only way for you to deny this with sound reason is to prove there is no God and that the universe is only composed of the natural laws we observe. To know that, you would have to have exhaustive knowledge of the entire universe.

        • wtfwjtd

          So you accept Sathya Sai Baba as a god then?

        • Pofarmer

          “So you agree that you cannot apply the scientific method to historical claims?”

          Not at all. That’s exactly what we do.. That’s why supernatural references are discounted.

          “If we have good eyewitness accounts for a supernatural-miraculous event then we do have credible evidence.”

          Except you don’t. You have people claiming they saw something they can’t explain. UFO’s, Bigfoot, etc, etc.

          “The only way for you to deny this with sound reason is to prove there is no God and that the universe is only composed of the natural laws we observe. To know that, you would have to have exhaustive knowledge of the entire universe.”

          What we observe is that the Universe conforms to known natural laws that we have discovered. They all work without positing “Goddidit.” That is an unnecessary addition and subject to Occams razor. If you want to prove the existence of God, then it is up to you to prove that the existence of said God provides a better explanations than the naturalistic ones that we do have.

          “I simply go with what works. And what works is the healthy skepticism
          embodied in the scientific method. Believe me, if the Bible had ever
          been shown to be a rich source of scientific answers and enlightenment,
          we would be mining it daily for cosmic discovery.”

          Neil Degrasse Tyson.

        • Jay

          How are you going to apply the scientific method to a one historical event or person?

          We only observe a very small portion of the universe. You don’t know if gravity is the same in every square inch in the universe. We can only assume by faith that it is.

          We both have to explain why the universe is and why is it the way it is. You have the problem of assuming the complexity and design is due to the mindless force of nature. You also have to explain why the forces of nature are the way they are. You have to do this by the scientific method which cannot be done.

        • Pofarmer

          Don’t be a doofus. We observe billions of light years of the universe with the Hubble telescope, among others. Of gravity “didn’t work” in parts of the universe then you can pretty much throw physics and astronomy out the window. By going to the quantum level scientists can, in fact explain why the forces of nature are the way they are, to a pretty good degree of precision. Just because you or I can’t do it doesn’t mean that theoretical physicists can’t, or aren’r working on if. You are simply making a God of the gaps argument. “God is an ever receding pool of scientific ignorance.” Neil Degrasse Tyson. Search “historical Method, to see bow historians attempt to learn about past people and events.

        • Jay

          I agree that “Of gravity “didn’t work” in parts of the universe then you can pretty much throw physics and astronomy out the window.” We have to assume by faith that the laws of nature are the same throughout the universe.

          If i’m making a “God of the gaps argument” then you are making a ignorance of the gap argument.

          I know how Historians do history and its not the same as the scientific method.

        • Pofarmer

          The whole point of the Historical Method is to produce reliable, repeatable results. Someone else should be able to look at the same evidence and draw similar conclusions. Historical Method also entails that history should dovetail with Archaeology, and other methods that are certainly scientific. The study of history has methods and rules like any other science.

          And trying to equate the function of a universal constant like the law of gravity with faith? Abject stupidity.

        • Rudy R

          You’re using an Argument from Ignorance when you claim “To know that, you would have to have exhaustive knowledge of the entire universe.”

        • Pofarmer

          Ya know, even if oral tradition was a highly polished skill. Somebody made up the narratives.

        • MattB

          Based on what evidence?

        • Pofarmer

          You think religious narratives just appear out of a void in finished form?

        • MattB

          No. Your claim is that people just made up a historical Jesus and passed him off as a real figure, when in fact that’s not what the evidence suggests. You can’t dismiss the narratives when they contain historical information.

        • Pofarmer

          I don’t think we’re having the same conversation. Even if fhe stories carry skads of historical information, someone collected the anecdotes, looked at the history, and created the narrative. That would be irrespective of if it was accurately transmitted after that point or not.

        • MattB

          Feel free to come up with conspiracy theories, but that’s not what the evidence suggests.

        • Pofarmer

          What conspiracy theories? Paul said he was persecuting Christians at an undetermined time, but his first writings are around 50 A.D. or 20 or so years after the supposed resurrection. We know that Paul had disagreements with the Apostles in Jerusalem(note that he doesn’t say disciples), and this is confirmed by the Gospel of James, which seems to be disagreeing with Galatians. Paul never reports visiting the tomb, or appears to know anything about Jesus birth, or life, or parentage, or much else. At least he never really talks about them except to say that Jesus was “born of a woman, born under the law.” So that’s Paul, and it’s a fact that he had disagreements with the apostles in Jerusalem, because they all talk about it. It’s also a fact that there were many different Christian sects with varying views in the early years, because we have evidence for those, as well. So, if there is oral history, it has to be varied, how else do you account for the conflicting doctrines very early on? So, then you have Mark, who comes along with a story(for lack of a better word) which includes many details about Jesus which apparently Paul didn’t know. After mark you have Matthew and Luke, which borrow heavily from Mark and each other. And, lastly, John, which has a whole different theology rooted in the Greek Philosophy. “In the beginning was the word, etc, etc.” All 4 canonical Gospels have different theologies, so, were apparently based on variations in oral traditions, or, variations going on in their authors churches, plus, there was much writing considered apocryphal early on, some of which is surely lost to us. There is no conspiracy, there is simply no evidence to support a single, cohesive, oral tradition.

          http://earlychristianwritings.com/

        • MattB

          But that’s not proof that there wasn’t a historical Jesus. And Paul does mention Jesus’ burial. What he’s citing is something he has received from the first eyewitnesses.

          Historians look at which claims and text are more probable than not. Contradictions are proof that a figure is more likely to be real than a myth. If Jesus was a myth, then we should expect all the Gospels to be in exact agreement on everything, but they aren’t which makes Jesus more historical as a figure than what you’re suggesting.

          It’s apparent that you don’t look at what scholars say but instead websites and blogs where just anyone can post whatever they think of the evidence. Historians know a lot about Oral Tradition and how it was passed along and functioned. Yes there were different communities in each of the gospels but Historians can recover the differences and construct what most likely happened from these sources. If you approach the text like you’re doing, then historians would get no where in research on the Historical Jesus.

        • Pofarmer

          “What he’s citing is something he has received from the first eyewitnesses.”

          That’s not what Paul claims.

          “It’s apparent that you don’t look at what scholars say but instead
          websites and blogs where just anyone can post whatever they think of the
          evidence.”

          Oh fuck you. I’m a member of Bart Ehrman’s website, I’ve spent hours and hours reading scholarly work, just not apologetics.

          “If you approach the text like you’re doing, then historians would get no where in research on the Historical Jesus.”

          No shit Sherlock. You mean by approaching it like most every other ancient religious tome?

        • MattB

          “That’s not what Paul claims.”

          Yes he does claim that.

          That’s not what Paul claims.

          “Oh fuck you. I’m a member of Bart Ehrman’s website, I’ve spent hours and hours reading scholarly work, just not apologetics.”

          Well I apologise, but if you have been reading serious scholarly work, then you shouldn’t be posting these kind of arguments.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          What’s your algorithm for distinguishing “serious scholarly work” from amateur crap? Price and Carrier seem pretty serious to me.

        • MattB

          The algorithim is looking at what Mainstream scholarship says today about the topic and finding out if there is a consensus on the issue. There is a consensus on the isue: 99%+ of historians and scholars agree that there was a historical Jesus. Now a consensus isn’t proof that Jesus existed, but it should tell you something about the evidence shouldn’t it?

          Price and Carrier aren’t brining anything new to the table. They’re re-hashing stuff from 100 years ago. Outdated scholarly views that were refuted by reputable scholars. I’m not saying that Price and Carrier aren’t credible historians and scholars-they are. But what I am saying is that when a scholar or historian follows a fringe idea despite evidence to the contrary and or bad methodology, then they are known as a psuedo-scholar. They typically bamboozle unsuspecting layreaders on the internet, like yourself, and try to pass of mythicism and make it look like it’s scholarly, but in reality it’s not.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          The algorithim is looking at what Mainstream scholarship says today about the topic and finding out if there is a consensus on the issue.

          Is that where religious dogma and creeds comes from? The consensus of New Testament historians? One wonders then why there are so many sects.

          There is a consensus on the isue: 99%+ of historians and scholars agree that there was a historical Jesus.

          Historians reject the supernatural. You gonna believe what those knuckleheads think? I’m amazed that you’d cite those idiots as authorities.

          Now a consensus isn’t proof that Jesus existed, but it should tell you something about the evidence shouldn’t it?

          Consensus within religion? Changes by the minute. As others have said, sacred cows are an endangered species, and beloved tenets can be overturned.

          That said, I have little use for the Christ Myth theory.

          Price and Carrier aren’t brining anything new to the table.

          You’ve read their stuff?

          what I am saying is that when a scholar or historian follows a fringe idea despite evidence to the contrary and or bad methodology, then they are known as a psuedo-scholar.

          Price and Carrier are bamboozling people with flawed scholarship? Now I’m really interested to know: you’ve read their stuff?

        • MattB

          “Is that where religious dogma and creeds comes from? The consensus of New Testament historians? One wonders then why there are so many sects.”

          What do Historians have to do with Chruch creeds?

          “Historians reject the supernatural. You gonna believe what those knuckleheads think? I’m amazed that you’d cite those idiots as authorities.”

          These ‘idiots’ have PhDs in biblical studies, ancient history, and or archaeology. So they’re fare more qualified to speak on this issue as compared to an atheist apologist as yourself, who writes spurious blogs on the internet.

          “Consensus within religion? Changes by the minute. As others have said, sacred cows are an endangered species, and beloved tenets can be overturned.”

          Consensus within historians and scholars, not apologists and priests.

          Yes, I have read reviews and have seen arguments from both Carrier and Price. Their work is outdated and unconvincing.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          What do Historians have to do with Chruch creeds?

          Not much. That’s obviously my point. You cited the historical consensus as how the lay Christian will understand what’s fantasy in the Bible and what’s truth.

          These ‘idiots’ have PhDs in biblical studies, ancient history, and or archaeology.

          Yes, they do. And they reject your mythology (just like me).

        • MattB

          No. I cited the Consensus regarding whether there was a figure named ‘Jesus’ who was behind Christianity, which Historians almost unanimously agree on.

          What mythology? What I was citing was simply their view.

        • Pofarmer

          Where dies Paul claim he got his information from eyewitnesses?

          I think you are confusing serious scholarly work with Apologetics.

        • MattB

          This isn’t apologetics, this is what scholars of the NT and historians agree. Paul cites several lines of evidence that shows that what he’s stating is not from him.

          1Cor. 15 3″For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. 8 Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. 9 For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. 11 Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.”

          Paul also talks about his meeting with James: whom he acknowledges as Jesus’ brother and Peter: Jesus’ chief disciple.

          “After three years I went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas and remained with him fifteen days. But I saw none of the other apostles except James the Lord’s brother” (vv. 18–19).

          – Galatians 1:18–20

        • Pofarmer

          In accordance with the scriptures, in accordance with the scriptures, in accordance with the scriptures, appeared to. He didn’t go see the apostles in Jerusalem for a number of years, and only then because they were having a disagreement. You are undercutting your own argument, as it were.

        • MattB

          How am I denying my own argument? It seems you’re the only one denying what historians and scholars agree on regarding Paul’s epistles. It’s not a lie that Paul met with James and Peter for two weeks in Jerusalem. The entire disagreement had nothing to do with Jesus’ existence. Paul tells us about certain eyewitnesses to Jesus’: mainly James and Peter. He also tells us alot of things that the Gospels tell us about Jesus. The teaching on divorce. The Last Supper. The fact that Jesus was born by a woman. There is too much information that Paul presents that is disinteresting to his mission.

        • Pofarmer

          Paul says Jesus appeared to James and Peter the same way Jesus appeared to him, which is reinforced because he then calls then apostles, not disciples. I don’t know why you keep conflating everything with Jesus existance. But, if you want to go there, when Paul was in Jerusalem, why doesn’t he talk about visiting the upper room, or the tomb, or the site of the ressurection?

        • MNb

          All historians are familiar with the principle Testis Unus Testis Nullus, so what Paulus writes only says something about Paulus himself and nothing more as long as it is not confirmed by some independent source. You only think this quote is convincing because you accept the autority of the NT a priori.

        • wtfwjtd

          “And Paul does mention Jesus’ burial. What he’s citing is something he has received from the first eyewitnesses.”

          Let’s take a look at exactly what Paul has to say, and let him speak for himself. 1 Cor 15:3-5:”3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.”

          Now, Paul in Galatians 1:12: “11 For I would have you know, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not man’s[a] gospel. 12 For I did not receive it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through a revelation of Jesus Christ.”

          What you are claiming flatly contradicts what Paul himself says about where he learned of Jesus–he did NOT receive it from any man, but by *revelation* from Jesus Christ.

          Sorry, you can’t use Paul as a witness for your claim. You’ll have to come up with someone else.

          “If Jesus was a myth, then we should expect all the Gospels to be in exact agreement on everything”

          Would you? I certainly wouldn’t. Whether Jesus was a historical figure or not, it wouldn’t matter. When it comes to religion, when do we ever get universal agreement about anything? Once again, you’ll have to do better than that.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          But that’s not proof that there wasn’t a historical Jesus.

          Don’t use the word “proof.” No one on either side pretends to have proof.

          Contradictions are proof that a figure is more likely to be real than a myth. If Jesus was a myth, then we should expect all the Gospels to be in exact agreement on everything, but they aren’t which makes Jesus more historical as a figure than what you’re suggesting.

          Huh?? Look at other myths and legends—Zeus, Paul Bunyan, Merlin—the stories are all over the map. Where’d you get inconsistency = historical?

          Historians know a lot about Oral Tradition and how it was passed along and functioned.

          Show how Oral Tradition is relevant to your case.

        • Greg G.

          But that’s not proof that there wasn’t a historical Jesus. And Paul does
          mention Jesus’ burial. What he’s citing is something he has received
          from the first eyewitnesses.

          Paul got that from Isaiah, not from hearsay.

          Isaiah 53:9 (NRSV)
          They made his grave with the wicked
            and his tomb with the rich,
          although he had done no violence,
            and there was no
          deceit in his mouth.

        • MattB

          Where does Paul claim in his epistles that he’s getting his information from the OT prophet Isaiah?

        • Greg G.

          Romans 16:25-26
          25 Now to God who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages 26 but is now disclosed, and through the prophetic writings is made known to all the Gentiles, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith—

        • MattB

          He’s talking about Jesus’ Lordship/Divinity.

        • Greg G.

          Well, that, and everything else about Jesus.

        • MattB

          No. Paul is simply realized that Jesus is now the promised messiah. However, the other information he gets is from Jesus’ companions

        • wtfwjtd

          Galatians 1:11-12:”I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel I preached is not of human origin. 12 I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ”
          –Paul

        • MattB

          He’s talking about the gospel. The Good news of Salvation: That Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior of the earth.

        • Greg G.

          You are just taking spurious parallels and attributing them to Jesus. Oh, it’s OK for you to do it but you complain when I do it?

        • Pofarmer

          Our friend here seems to have a one way lack of imagination.

        • Greg G.

          Right. It OK to say Paul used Isaiah 53:12 for “For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors” but not to use the same verse to say that Paul read “he poured out his life unto death” as an inspiration for the wine part of the Eucharist ritual.

        • Greg G.

          wtfwjtd beat me to the Galatians passage but that is confirmed by everything Paul says coming from the OT.

        • Greg G.

          Sorry, the other post was in response to the email notification. I didn’t notice that you had edited it to specifically “Isaiah”.

          Paul directly quotes Isaiah in many places so we know he used that book. The NIV has footnotes that identify where New Testament verses are quoting from Old Testment verses.

          Here are some:
          Romans 2:24; Isaiah 52:5
          Romans 9:33; Isaiah 8:14; 28:16
          Romans 10:15; Isaiah 52:7
          Romans 11:8; Isaiah 29:10
          Romans 11:27; Isaiah 59:20-21; 27:9;
          Romans 15:21; Isaiah 52:15
          Romans 14:11; Isaiah 45:23
          Romans 10:11; Isaiah 28:16
          Romans 10:16; Isaiah 53:1
          1 Corinthians 2:9; Isaiah 64:4

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Just like we often find the need to reference Godwin’s Law and Poe’s Law, we need a law that says “In a Bible discussion between an atheist and a Christian, the atheist probably knows the Bible better.”

          Matt Brown might want to keep that law in mind. I think it applies.

        • Greg G.

          Yes, but we’re not being guided by the Holy Ghost so we don’t know what the hell we’re reading.

        • MattB

          Perhaps I should re-word my question because it seems to have lead to an apt misunderstanding. My question is meant to ask: Where does Paul claim that he got his infromation about Jesus of Nazareth from the Old Testament? Where did Paul intercept the idea of the Last Supper? The teaching on divorce? The “Born under a woman”?

          We know that Paul met with two of Jesus’ relatives and disciples: James and Peter.

          Also, first century Messianic expectations of the Messiah are very well recorded and not one of those expectations was a Messiah who would be crucified. Here’s a link by a liberal scholar who is also here on Patheos:

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OVAhw3S2r7g

        • Pofarmer

          Show me where Paul calls Cephas or James disciples. Show where Paul mentions Jesus being from Nazareth

          From the Didache.

          Now concerning the Eucharist, give thanks this way. First, concerning the cup:

          We thank thee, our Father, for the holy vine of David Thy servant, which You madest known to us through Jesus Thy Servant; to Thee be the glory for ever..

          And concerning the broken bread:

          ” We thank Thee, our Father, for the life and knowledge which You madest known to us through Jesus Thy Servant; to Thee be the glory for ever. Even as this broken bread was scattered over the hills, and was gathered together and became one, so let Thy Church be gathered together from the ends of the earth into Thy kingdom; for Thine is the glory and the power through Jesus Christ for ever… ”

          Note that in the OT, that wine is referred to as “The blood of Grapes.” So what you have, is almost a repurposed passover meal, with some OT allusions from blood of grapes and manna from heaven.

        • MattB

          “After three years I went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas and remained with him fifteen days. But I saw none of the other apostles except James the Lord’s brother” (vv. 18–19).

        • Greg G.

          He means that Paul never used the word “disciple”.

        • MattB

          I already did. The word aposlte means “messenger” and in the Bible it is taken to mean a follower. And I already cited you where Paul calls James “the brother of the Lord”.

        • Greg G.

          “Apostle” and “disciple” are used differently in the gospels. Only the twelve are called disciples. Paul never uses the word. He only calls them apostles or super-apostles.

        • MattB

          But Peter is one of Jesus’ closest followers in the Gospels, and he is therefore an eyewitness to Jesus’ life. Also, Paul never called any of Jesus’ aposltes “super-apostles”. He was referring to the false teachers and preachers who invaded the Church.

        • wtfwjtd

          Peter is shown as Jesus’ right-hand man in the gospel stories. Outside the gospels or Acts, he is *never* called a disciple of Jesus, or an eyewitness, and never, ever quotes Jesus anywhere. In fact, no one ever quotes Jesus, period.

        • MattB

          Now you’re just being insane. The gospels portray conversations between Jesus and Peter. Peter was the chief apostle or follower of Jesus in the Gospels. He knew Jesus and Peter knew him. And the Gospels contain tons of Jesus’ sayings, period.

        • Greg G.

          Read the first 20 verses of Mark 7 then read about the argument between Peter and Paul in Galatians 2. Paul is saying the same things Jesus said in Mark. If that really happened in Mark, why doesn’t Peter remember?

          Mark borrowed the story from Galatians, and just like he does with his other sources, he shifts the strongest words to Jesus.

        • wtfwjtd

          Read what I posted again. I said that outside the gospels, no one quotes Jesus, ever. Can you find one instance in a non-gospel or Acts book that has someone quoting Jesus? I’d sure like to see it if you can come up with one.

        • Greg G.

          The gospels are fictional. The “pseudo-scholar” Robert M. Price “mis-represented” the work of various scholars who show that certain aspects of Mark are taken from other literature (most of them would say the rest of Mark probably came from oral tradition) but Price showed that when viewed together, they support each other’s separate contention by showing that nearly every passage of Mark is taken from other literature. Matthew and Luke use Mark verbatim or paraphrased while John uses several of the same stories and story-telling techniques.

          Some of the passages not covered by Price appear to come from Paul’s letters (Romans, 1 Corinthians and Galatians) and from the Gospel of Thomas.

          The gospels are not reliable as historical biography.

        • Greg G.

          Paul doesn’t think so. He thinks he is not lacking in knowledge to the super-apostles. He spent two weeks with Peter and still thinks he knows as much.

        • Pofarmer

          You are reading the Gospels back into the Epistles again. They are separate stories which should stand on their own.

        • Greg G.

          Paul knows nothing about Nazareth. He thinks Jesus is a hidden mystery in the scripture as in the Romans 16:25-26 passage I quoted.

          You are reading the Gospels back into Paul with the Last Supper when Mark probably borrowed this from 1 Corinthians. I think when we see “Lord” and “Lord Jesus” in the sentence instead of a pronoun is an indication that the first “Lord” refers to God. Paul seems to have combined Psalm 41:9 with Isaiah 53:12.

          Psalm 41:9
          Even my bosom friend in whom I trusted,
            who ate of my bread, has lifted the heel against me.

          Isaiah 53:12
          Therefore I will allot him a portion with the great,
            and he shall divide the spoil with the strong;
          because he poured out himself to death,
            and was numbered with the transgressors;
          yet he bore the sin of many,
            and made intercession for the transgressors.

          The bread and “he shall divide the spoil with the strong” becomes “this is my body”. The wine represents “he poured out himself to death”. The covenant language may have come from Jeremiah 31:31-34.

          Justin Martyr claimed that the Mithras cult stole the ritual from the Christians so we know they had a similar ritual in the second century. Plutarch who wrote in the late first century, in his biography of Pompey who lived in the first century BC, that the pirates around Cilicia were in the Mithras cult and that the rituals they first instituted were still used in Plutarch’s time, though he doesn’t identify any specific rituals.

          In Galatians, Paul (of Tarsus) tells us he visited Cilicia (a major city in Tarsus) after visiting Peter in Jerusalem. it’s circumstantial but plausible that he got the basic idea from the Mithras cult and justified it with scripture.

          Plutarch may have been wrong about the Mithras cult originating the ritual. Jeremiah 7:18 and Jeremiah 44:15-18 refer to the people kneading dough, making cakes, and pouring wine for Asherah, the Queen of Heaven.

          The “born of a woman” is from Galatians 4:4. Isaiah 49:1 and 49:5 are at the beginning of Isaiah’s Suffering Servant chapters and refer to the servant being in his mother’s womb. That is immediately followed by “born under the law”. Paul spent the previous chapter and a half discussing what that meant and has copious OT references.

          Paul tells us that he met with Peter and James in Galatians. Paul was very sarcastic toward the “circumcision faction” throughout that letter so I don’t take that “Lord’s brother” as a fact.

        • MattB

          Again, you keep bringing up spurious parallels and then you pounce on them and say “Aha! That proves that Jesus wasn’t a real figure”. Parallels in a story aren’t proof that the person behind the story is a myth. Yes, these were prophecies, but you want to keep claiming that Paul, before his conversion, thought of these as prophecies and intentionally dubbed made them up and put together. And,as I said before, Paul isn’t being sarcastic, he simply presents too much information about the Historical Jesus from James and Peter that are just off the cuff and distracting to his mission.

        • Greg G.

          They’re not spurious. The Psalm verse is obvious and Isaiah 53:12 comes from the most quoted book – I counted 27 times – and over a quarter of them come from chapters 49, 52, 53, and 54, a total of 70 verses. Ten percent of those are quoted, so you should pay attention to them.

          Paul presents nothing about a historical Jesus. Everything he says comes from the centuries old literature.

        • Greg G.

          Isaiah 53:12
          Therefore I will allot him a portion with the great,
              and he shall divide the spoil with the strong;
          because he poured out himself to death,
              and was numbered with the transgressors;
          yet he bore the sin of many,
              and made intercession for the transgressors
          .

          Romans 8:34
          34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.

          Do you think Paul got that intercession bit from Isaiah but the poured out is spurious? Are you a salad bar Christian who just picks and chooses which parts you want to believe?

        • MattB

          No. I am simply reading what the text says. Paul was a Jewish pharisee and like any Pharisee from his time, Paul would not have looked at these prophecies and interpret them as pointing to a crucified Messiah. In fact, Paul himself says in 1Cor. 1:23 says that Jesus crucifixion was a “stumbling block to the Jews and a folly to the Gentiles”. I’m not saying that you’re wrong about Paul mentioning OT verses in his epistles. I’m saying you’re wrong for thinking that Paul would intentionally realize what they were before his conversion, and then twist them and combine them to form a historical Jesus.

          Paul really met with relatives of Jesus and gathered very important information. Some of this information is echoed all throughout his epistles and they seem to go against what Paul’s agenda. He makes claims that these are not from himself. The text is clear that Paul was thinking of a historical earthly Jesus that actually existed, and not some Cosmo-mythical Christ that wasn’t real. This makes much better and simpler sense than the alternative you’re proposing.

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BgmHqjblsPw

        • Greg G.

          You quoted form 1 Corinthians 1:23 but when you look at verse 22, Paul is saying the Jews demand signs and the Greeks demand wisdom but he doesn’t have any of them. If the Gospels had any truth to them, he should have signs and wisdom in spades to regale both groups. Then go back to verse 18″ For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” So Paul is saying that it is foolishness to the other Pharisees who won’t see what he thinks he sees in the scripture while he sees the power of God.

          What is an intentional realization? He may have picked up something from the early Christians he was persecuting and when he tried to disprove it by reading Isaiah, he found the Suffering Servant made sense for why the Messiah had taken so long to show up. It’s like a creationist who reads what scientists actually say compared to what creationist authors say that scientists say and realizing creationism is wrong. I’m not talking about you, but myself. Something like that could have happened to Paul.

          My version involves the kind of things people do all the time, like misreading scripture and getting a different interpretation than anyone else. Your version involves magic and impossible beings. My version is far better, much simpler, and more probable.

        • Pofarmer

          “he simply presents too much information about the Historical Jesus from James and Peter that are just off the cuff and distracting to his mission”

          Like what?

        • MattB

          The Teaching on Divorce. The Last Supper. Jesus having a brother named James. The Crucifixion,etc.

        • Pofarmer

          How do you know that any of that comes from Cephas and James?

        • MattB

          Becaues James and Peter were both eyewitnesses to Jesus’ life and they knew of these teachings.

        • Pofarmer

          That’s more circular reasoning. Paul never says this, and emphatically states the exact opposite. He calls them apostles, not disciples, which is a distinction. He says that he came about his knowledge of Jesus the same way they did. He says his knowledge is as great as theirs. He never reveals any teachings as given to him by Cephas or James, or any other person, he also emphatically states this.

        • Greg G.

          Galatians 2:6
          And from those who were supposed to be acknowledged leaders (what they actually were makes no difference to me; God shows no partiality)—those leaders contributed nothing to me.

          Paul emphatically says he got nothing from Peter and James.

        • Pofarmer

          Gt seems to me that what Matt Brown and his “scholars”, Habermas, Craig, and whoever have done/are doing is harmonizing the NT by reading into it what they think it should say, not what it says. They make the same old mistake of reading it as if the Epistles were based on the Gospels and not the other way arround. They then use these mainly un supported and incorrect assumptions as evidence. Reading everything in order, with a clear head changes things. I know the first time that I read Mark, Matthew, Luke, John, I was like, ah ha. You can then clearly see where later authors were adding to or dealing with problems of the earlier authors. Then, when you realize that Paul was writing first, and that he doesn’t “know” the information the Gospel authors “know” it’s another ah-ha moment. As a trained pharisee and persecutor of the church, why shouldn’t he know all the information about Jesus the Gospel authors posses. When you then count in the complete lack of writings by Jesus himself, the complete lack of tomb veneration, the obvious changing of a story from the rather crude teachings of Paul to the polished theology of John, you get a picture that is so much different than the one proposed by Matt Brown and his scholars.I

        • Greg G.

          Exactly. And when you compare the literature the authors certainly had available to them, you can see how they polished their ideas. Matthew borrowed some Deuterocanonical works, Luke brought in Josephus, John was influenced by Philo to name a few.

          We’re to believe that a Pharisee who knew the Old Testament scriptures very well couldn’t read the Suffering Servant in Isaiah and think of a crucified Messiah in centuries old writings but that any barely educated schmo today can read the centuries old New Testament and come to that conclusion once it is spelled out. They believe he could have done it with the crucifixion justification, though, but draw the line at using the same passages as a basis for the whole Jesus character.

        • wtfwjtd

          Maybe that’s why the author of Matthew is so abusive with scripture quotes and “prophecies”? He got the idea to do this from Paul, and decided “find” his own mysteries long hidden in the scriptures. An extension of Paul’s findings in the scriptures, blended into his own Jesus narrative.

        • Greg G.

          Mark does that, too, and I think Matthew picked up where Mark left off. Matthew recognized the Zechariah 9:9 line “riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey” in Mark 11:7-11, but Matthew seems to have thought it was supposed to have referred to two beasts. That is like taking from Isaiah 53:9 “They made his grave with the wicked and his tomb with the rich” as meaning the Suffering Servant was cut in two and buried twice.

          I always picture Matthew 21:1-9 with Jesus riding two different sized donkeys standing astraddle in the Captain Morgan pose.

        • wtfwjtd

          Yes the “two donkeys” gaff is pretty funny. Truthsurge explains that Matthew was using the Septuagint mistranslation to produce that gem.
          Have you noticed that duality of the NT especially on several things? You just noted the wicked/rich nonsense, and Jesus says things like “he who is not for me is against me” and then we also have him saying “he who is not against me for me”. In John, Jesus says he bears witness of himself, and turns right around and says that he cannot bear witness of himself. I guess this is what happens when you are pandering to different splinter groups, you mix contradictory stuff together to try and please everyone.

        • Greg G.

          That’s Zen Xtianity where there are exercises to believe contradictory statements simultaneously to innoculate oneself from the woes of critical thinking and reason.

        • MattB

          Here is what the consensus of scholars think since you don’t believe me:

          we can no more reject Jesus’ existence than we can reject the existence of a mass of pagan personages whose reality as historical figures is never questioned. ….. 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.”

          The late Michael Grant, eminent historian of the Roman Empire

          This view [that Jesus didn’t exist] is demonstrably false. It is fuelled by a regrettable form of atheist prejudice, which holds all the main primary sources, and Christian people, in contempt. This is not merely worse than the American Jesus Seminar, it is no better than Christian fundamentalism. It simply has different prejudices. Most of its proponents are also extraordinarily incompetent.

          Maurice Casey, Nottingham University

          I don’t think there’s any serious historian who doubts the existence of Jesus …. We have more evidence for Jesus than we have for almost anybody from his time period.

          Prof Bart Ehrman, University of North Carolina

          The historical evidence for Jesus himself is extraordinarily good. …. From time to time people try to suggest that Jesus of Nazareth never existed, but virtually all historians of whatever background now agree that he did”

          NT Wright, Oxford & St Andrews Universities

          some judgments are so probable as to be certain; for example, Jesus really existed, and he really was crucified, just as Julius Caesar really existed and was assassinated. …. We can in fact know as much about Jesus as we can about any figure in the ancient world.

          Marcus Borg, Professor of Religion and Culture at Oregon State University

          [In answer to the question, did Jesus exist?] I would say it is much more likely that he did than he didn’t. To believe that he had been imagined or invented is a much harder task than to rely on the available evidence, which is obviously not as clear-cut as one would like, but is sufficiently good to say that somebody by the name of Jesus existed around the time when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea in the first century AD.

          Geza Vermes, Oxford University

          Jesus did exist; and we know more about him than about almost any Palestinian Jew before 70 C.E.”

          Prof James Charlesworth, Princeton Theological Seminary

          Biblical scholars and classical historians now regard it [the theory that Jesus didn’t exist] as effectively refuted.”

          Robert Van Voorst, Western Theological Seminary

          Jesus did more than just exist. He said and did a great many things that most historians are reasonably certain we can know about today. …. A hundred and fifty years ago a fairly well respected scholar named Bruno Bauer maintained that the historical Jesus never existed. Anyone who says that today – in the academic world at least – gets grouped with the skinheads who say there was no Holocaust and the scientific holdouts who want to believe the world is flat.

          M A Powell, Trinity Lutheran Seminary

          I think that the New Testament does provide prima facie evidence for the historicity of Jesus. It is clear, then, that if we are going to apply to the New Testament the same sort of criteria as we should apply to other ancient writings containing historical material, we should not require independent confirmation of the New Testament’s claim that Jesus existed.

          Jeffery Jay Lowder, writing on the Secular Web

          So in one sense I think I’m not alone in feeling that to show the ill-informed and illogical nature of the current wave of “mythicist” proponents is a bit like having to demonstrate that the earth isn’t flat, or that the sun doesn’t revolve around the earth, or that the moon-landings weren’t done on a movie lot.

          Larry Hurtado, Emeritus Professor, Edinburgh University

          Research in the historical Jesus has taken several positive steps in recent years. Archaeology, remarkable literary discoveries, such as the Dead Sea Scrolls, and progress in reassessing the social, economic, and political setting of first-century Palestine have been major factors. …. the persistent trend in recent years is to see the Gospels as essentially reliable, especially when properly understood, and to view the historical Jesus in terms much closer to Christianity’s traditional understanding

          Prof Craig Evans, Arcadia Divinity College, Arcadia University

          …. a growing conviction among many scholars that the Gospels tell us more about Jesus and his aims than we had previously thought ….. subsequent Christianity may be in greater continuity with Jesus than was previously thought.

          J Paget, Cambridge University

          An ancient historian has no problem seeing the phenomonon of Jesus as an historical one. His many surprising aspects only help anchor him in history. Myth and legend would have created a more predictable figure. The writings that sprang up about Jesus also reveal to us a movement of thought and an experience of life so unusual that something much more substantial than the imagination is needed to explain it.

          Emeritus Professor Edwin Judge, Ancient History Research Centre, Macquarie University, Sydney

          [The following is beyond reasonable doubt from everyone’s point of view:] “that Jesus was known in both Galilee and Jerusalem, that he was a teacher, that he carried out cures of various illnesses, particularly demon-possession and that these were widely regarded as miraculous; that he was involved in controversy with fellow Jews over questions of the law of Moses; and that he was crucified in the governorship of Pontius Pilate.

          A.E. Harvey, formerly at Oxford University

          Historical reconstruction is never absolutely certain, and in the case of Jesus it is sometimes highly uncertain. Despite this, we have a good idea of the main lines of his ministry and his message. We know who he was, what he did, what he taught, and why he died. ….. the dominant view [among scholars] today seems to be that we can know pretty well what Jesus was out to accomplish, that we can know a lot about what he said, and that those two things make sense within the world of first-century Judaism.

          EP Sanders, Oxford & Duke Universities

          I shall first offer a list of statements about Jesus that meet two standards: they are almost beyond dispute; and they belong to the framework of his life, and especially of his public career. (A list of everything that we know about Jesus would be appreciably longer.)
          Jesus was born c 4 BCE near the time of the death of Herod the Great;
          he spent his childhood and early adult years in Nazareth, a Galilean village;
          he was baptised by John the Baptist;
          he called disciples;
          he taught in the towns, villages and countryside of Galilee (apparently not the cities);
          he preached ‘the kingdom of God’;
          about the year 30 he went to Jerusalem for Passover;
          he created a disturbance in the Temple area;
          he had a final meal with the disciples;
          he was arrested and interrogated by Jewish authorities, specifically the high priest;
          he was executed on the orders of the Roman prefect, Pontius Pilate.

        • Pofarmer

          Matt. Deal with what I wrote.

        • MattB

          I did. Your previous claim was that only “my” scholars, as if only a few Christian scholars supported the theory that Jesus was real and that’s not the case. I cited you multiple scholars who agreed that there was a consensus that Jesus was real; by both secular and religious scholars alike.

        • MattB

          That’s not circular reasoning. Why do mythicists make the evidence more complicated than it really is? Paul doesn’t make a distinction between “apostles” and “disciples”. He was talking about “super-apostles” which were false Christians coming in and preaching in the church(Judiazers). He claims to have met with James and Peter for two weeks to gather information or get to know them. That means that he had to have learned things about Jesus that he himself had not received through revelation but through the eyewitnesses. Also, he identifieds James a being the brother of Jesus. As well as Josephus and the Gospels. This proves that the text is indicating that Jesus was an earthly real figure and not some mythical creature in a mythical realm as mythicists suggest.

        • Pofarmer

          Look, if you are not going to read what the texts say, and add in whatever you would like to infer might have happened from what they clearly don’t say or claim, then this is pointless. We keep pointing out what is said, and you keep pointing out what your scholars would like to believe they say.

        • MattB

          I’m reading the text for what it says. I’m not adding anything to it: you are. You take the text and twist it to fit your pre-conceived notions because you have an anti-religious agenda. Suggesting that Jesus never existed when he’s very well-documented for his time period is extremely problematic. Mythicism isn’t a viable theory in academic studies today. This isn’t the opinion of some scholars:This is the opinion of virtually all scholars around the world today. I trust the experts vs. internet bloggers who appear to not have been trained in greek, hebrew, ancient hisotry, archaelogy etc. Showing that something could have happened is not proof that it did happen. Paul could have made up his source material. God could have created a young earth and made it look old. Could have isn’t enough in history or science. What experts in these fields do is look at what’s most likely probable. Suggesting that early Jews took a figure and made him from scratch and passed him off as real is extremely problematic and doesn’t fit what we know about Jewish expectations and it doesn’t fit the documentation.

        • Pofarmer

          Look Matt, several times we have pointed out where you are assuming information from the Gospels back into the Epistles. Look at the order they were written and what authors of the different books knew compared to when they were written. Fwiw, it goes Paul, Mark, Matthew, Luke, John, according to consensus. No one is attempting to “twist” anything. If you read Paul the only real passages that are problematic for the mythicist argument are the ones where he talks about “born of a woman” and “James, the brother of the Lord”. If you read revelations, it becomes apparent early on that what the author is talking about is astrological signs(yes, I know your scholars probably disagree with this). What you have with christianity is a synthesis of hebrew religion and Greek thought. After all, mark was written in Rome. In Greek. If there is anything factually incorrect in what I’ve written here, feel free to point it out.

        • Greg G.

          1 Corinthians 7:10-12
          10 To the married I give charge, not I but the Lord, that the wife should not separate from her husband 11 (but if she does, let her remain single or else be reconciled to her husband) –and that the husband should not divorce his wife. 12 To the rest I say, not the Lord, that if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he should not divorce her.

          Mark 10:11-12
          11 And he said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another, commits adultery against her; 12 and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.”

          When we compare these two passages, they are saying the same things. Mark 10:11 has Jesus saying what Paul claims, in 1 Corinthians 7:12, is coming from himself, not from an oral tradition passed down to him. Paul is trying to explain Jewish law to Gentiles, specifically:

          Deuteronomy 24:1-4
          1 If a man marries a woman who becomes displeasing to him because he finds something indecent about her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce, gives it to her and sends her from his house, 2 and if after she leaves his house she becomes the wife of another man, 3 and her second husband dislikes her and writes her a certificate of divorce, gives it to her and sends her from his house, or if he dies, 4 then her first husband, who divorced her, is not allowed to marry her again after she has been defiled. That would be detestable in the eyes of the Lord. Do not bring sin upon the land the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance.

          Did you notice where Deuteronomy makes an allowance for women to divorce their husbands? That’s what Paul meant by “not I but the Lord, that the wife should not separate from her husband“. In Mark, Jesus is talking to his Jewish disciples who wouldn’t even think about woemn divorcing their husbands. That issue was apparent to Matthew (5:31-32) and Luke (16:18), as they both dropped that line from their parallel passages.

          So one part of the teaching comes from Paul, not from Jesus, and the other part makes no sense coming from Jesus. That is another case of Mark borrowing from Paul.

          I’ve already explained that 1 Corinthians 11:23-26 is based on Psalm 41:9 and Isaiah 53:12 and Mark borrowed that, too. I’ve explained Paul’s sarcasm in calling people “brothers of the Lord”.

          Paul also gets the crucifixion from the OT. In Galatians 4:4, he mentions “born under the law” after spending about a chapter and a half explaing what he meant by that. He takes:

          Isaiah 53:4-5
          4 Surely he took up our pain
              and bore our suffering,
          yet we considered him punished by God,
              stricken by him, and afflicted.
          5 But he was pierced for our transgressions,
              he was crushed for our iniquities;
          the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
              and by his wounds we are healed.

          He explains being cursed by the law in:

          Galatians 3:10-12
          10 For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse, as it is written: “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.”[Deuteronomy 27:26] 11 Clearly no one who relies on the law is justified before God, because “the righteous will live by faith.”[Habakkuk 2:4] 12 The law is not based on faith; on the contrary, it says, “The person who does these things will live by them.”[Leviticus 18:5]

          Then he brings in the crucifixion in the next verse by quoting Deuteronomy 21:23:

          Galatians 3:13
          Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a pole.”

          The word “pole” corresponds to the word for “tree” in the Hebrew text but Paul quotes from the Septuagint. The Greek word (xylon) translated here as “pole” is translated in other versions and verses as tree, wood, pole, or cross.

          1 Peter 2:24
          He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that, free from sins, we might live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.

          Incidentally, I just happened to notice that 1 Peter 2 quotes heavily from Isaiah, too, mostly Isaiah 53.

          1 Peter 2:7 Psalm 118:22
          1 Peter 2:8 Isaiah 8:14
          1 Peter 2:22 Isaiah 53:9
          1 Peter 2:25 Isaiah 53:4,5,6

          One might expect Peter to be recollecting some anecdotes instead of quoting centuries old information about Jesus if he had known the guy personally. 1 Peter is doing the same thing Paul does in relying on Isaiah instead of oral tradition.

        • Greg G.

          Furthermore, of the seven Pauline letters considered most likely to be authentic, five of them quote the OT. The book most often quoted in those epistles is Isaiah with 18 quotes, followed by Genesis and Deuteronomy with 13 apiece, and Psalm with 11.

          Oops. These counts are not correct. I thought my footnote list for Romans was complete but it is not. I noticed that the count for Hosea was off so when I checked Romans 9, there were four Isaiah quotes that were not counted.

        • Pofarmer

          Isn’t it rather controversial to think that a fist century Pharisee would have been knowledgeable of the old Testament?

        • Greg G.

          Paul does say:

          Galatians 1:14
          I advanced in Judaism beyond many among my people of the same age, for I was far more zealous for the traditions of my ancestors.

          That seems to be true. Maybe he learned it later.

          Why would it be controversial?

        • Pofarmer

          Sorry, the sarcasm didn’t come through. Matt Brown here seems to think that there isn’t any way that Paul could have been reading the OT, because, ya know, JESUS!

        • Greg G.

          Doh! My sarcasm detector is on the fritz.

        • MattB

          That’s not my argument. My argument is that it’s highly problematic to claim that Paul got his information about Jesus of Nazareth from the OT, when he claims that he met with Jesus’ relatives and followers for two weeks and gathered all that they had told him. The Last Supper. The Crucifixion. The fact that Jesus was born under a woman. None of this suggests that Jesus was some mythicial figure living in a celestial world( like Mormons believe). This suggests that Jesus in fact lived as an earthly figure, which is what mythicists want to deny happened.

          Also, it wasn’t till after Paul’s conversion on the road to Damascus did he understand the prophecy that Jesus had fulfilled. Before his conversion, Paul was a pharisee that persecuted Christians. This would mean that Paul, like any other Jew at the time, was not thinking of a crucified Messiah and instead king-like figure who would come from the lineage of David. In fact, he would have found Christian claims about Jesus blasphemous like any Pharisee at that time, and so that was one of the reasons why he was persecuting and killing Christians.

        • Greg G.

          James was being mocked when Paul called him the Lord’s brother.

          So you believe the Acts accounts of Paul’s conversion? All at the same time or do you take turns, believing one version on Mondays and Thursdays, another on Tuesdays and Fridays, and the third on Wednesdays and Saturdays?

          The last one in Acts 26:14 uses the “kick against the goads” idiom from Euripides Bacchae much like Shakespearean idioms in use today in English. Paul in Greek quotes Jesus in Arabic quoting the Greek god Dionysus.

        • Pofarmer

          Paul met with the other Apostles in Jerusalem after he had already been preaching for, what, 3 years? What information does he gain from the exchange?

          “Also, it wasn’t till after Paul’s conversion on the road to Damascus did
          he understand the prophecy that Jesus had fulfilled. Before his
          conversion, Paul was a pharisee that persecuted Christians. This would
          mean that Paul, like any other Jew at the time, was not thinking of a
          crucified Messiah and instead king-like figure who would come from the
          lineage of David. In fact, he would have found Christian claims about
          Jesus blasphemous like any Pharisee at that time, and so that was one of
          the reasons why he was persecuting and killing Christians.”

          This could point as easily to a mythical figure as a historical one. I’d like to see some evidence for all the persecuting and killing from outside of the Epistles, as well.

        • Pofarmer

          ‘The hunt for red october” contains historical information. Does that mean it actually happened?

        • MattB

          The hunt for “Red October” was based on actual events. Why are you avoiding the truth?

        • enigel

          What’s the truth? That there was an actual (historical) village idiot on which the church made up a story, mixed with OT elements so it can create a new religion?
          Now, you should not try to avoid this truth.

        • MNb

          Something like that. There wasn’t exactly a shortage of messias claimants in that area in the first half of the First Century. In their own eyes they had a good reason. Judaea and Galilea had been occupied by Romans for a while. Even Herodes the Great was just an Idumean vassal king, hence quite impopular.

        • Jay

          You have no facts to support your assertions. You need facts if we are to believe its true.

        • wtfwjtd

          The facts that we have supports enigel’s version of events nicely. What’s your version?

        • Jay

          There are no facts for the assertion that “There was a real guy who was a village idiot, said something that sounded like a rebel against Romans, so the guy was crucified. Thousands were crucified.”

        • wtfwjtd

          So you think Jesus was a myth then, and that the tales of the gospels aren’t based on a historical person?

        • Jay

          The gospels are based on a historical person i.e. Jesus.

        • MattB

          The truth is that there was a real historical Jesus that existed and not some mythical figure that was up there like mythicists want to believe happened. I’m not a conspiracy theorist.

        • enigel

          There was a real guy who was a village idiot, said something that sounded like a rebel against Romans, so the guy was crucified. Thousands were crucified.

          Later on a Christian sect came up with a fabricated story about this village idiot who was crucified, yes, a real guy. The fabrications about this guy are myths plagiarized from the OT to look like a “prophecy fulfillment”.

          That a Christian sect existed, even non-Christian historians mention, but it doesn’t make the Christian fabrications about a real guy, and Christian fantasies that are piggybacking on Roman history, true.

          What exactly you don’t understand?

        • MNb

          BWAHAHAHAHA!
          Please reread the first few sentences. It uses the word “Bible”, not OT.

        • MattB

          But your link has nothing to do with the conversation that we’re engaging, which is the New Testament. Your link was talking about the Old Testament(OT)

        • Ann Kah

          I’m more in agreement with Mark Twain. “A lie can get halfway around the world before the truth gets its boots on”. Perhaps tales are more slow to transform in WRITTEN form, but repetition around the campfire should make changes a bit more rapidly. And if you’ve ever listened to a couple of elderly relatives discussing a long-ago event which YOU witnessed, you would likely find out that your three memories are completely different, and that includes the “core historical facts”.

          Addition: my parents witnessed one of the mega church televangelists (sorry, I can’t remember which one) stumble over a rock about ten or fifteen feet from the shore of the Sea of Galilee. An assistant caught his elbow and steadied him. By the time he reported on air a couple of weeks later, he had “almost drowned”, and it was “the hand of The Lord” that saved him.


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