The Case of the Historical Jesus

I’ve appeared on the online show Talk Gnosis before, speaking about the Mandaeans. In this week’s episode, they talked with me about the historical figure of Jesus and mythicism. I hope you enjoy watching it as much as I enjoyed recording it!

"So Jesus's personal apocalyptism is debated, but I don't think it's debated that he was ..."

Gaps in Jesus’ Fossil Record?
"Yes, the apocalypticism is debated, and I did try to couch my descriptions with 'something ..."

Gaps in Jesus’ Fossil Record?
"I checked out the always useful Wikipedia page on the historical Jesus, and it said, ..."

Gaps in Jesus’ Fossil Record?
"What a fascinating and thought-provoking session!How does the Talmud illustrate distracted reading? I take it ..."

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  • Pseudonym

    I was reading this article on the O.J. Simpson series from The New Yorker, and I thought you’d find this quote amusing:

    One imagines the classicists of the future poring over ancient texts—the Iliad, the Tanakh, the Orenthal—and debating the existence of a historical O. J.

  • John MacDonald

    I think the miracle stories about Jesus were invented to lend authority to Jesus’ ethical teachings, in the same way the story about Moses receiving the ten commandments from God was invented by the Jews to lend authority to their laws.

    • Scott P.

      There’s no reason for them to have been invented. Lots of people performed miracles at the time, or so popular belief had it. Whether the details as preserved in the Gospel accounts correlate with actual people that Jesus met is another question, but miracle-working was a relatively common ‘ability’ among prophets and teachers of all stripes.

      • John MacDonald

        “The Miraculous Jesus” thing could have started off as a scam. I’m sure “conspiracies” happen all the time. It is a part of normal human interaction to sometimes want the real reasons as to why something happened to be withheld. This is probably sometimes true of religion too. Seneca famously said “Religion is true to the masses, false to the wise, and useful to the rulers.” For example, Serapis (Σέραπις, Attic/Ionian Greek) or Sarapis (Σάραπις, Doric Greek), was strategically instituted as a Graeco-Egyptian god. The Cult of Serapis was introduced during the 3rd century BC on the orders of Ptolemy I of Egypt as a means to unify the Greeks and Egyptians in his realm.