Did Jesus Exit? – Part 14

Mitt Romney is a lying sack of human excrement. Which is one of the reasons why he lost the election.

Among MR’s many moral failings was his promotion of a racist religious tradition: Mormonism. MR grew up in a publically and openly racist Mormon church. As a young man he went to France to encourage French citizens to join his then openly and publically racist Mormon church.

But MR is not the only believer in the USA who comes from a racist church background. The largest Protestant denomination in this country is the Southern Baptist Convention:

The Southern Baptist Convention issued an apology for its earlier stance on slavery. The issue had split the Baptist church between north and south in 1845. But a century and a half later, in 1995, Southern Baptist officials formally renounced the church’s support of slavery and segregation.
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=112329862
viewed 8/17/13

To my knowledge, the Mormons have never issued an apology for the racism that was the accepted belief and practice in their church for most of the history of their existence:

Most Protestant denominations, however, gradually apologized for their past racism. In contrast, while Mormon leaders generically criticize past and present racism, they carefully avoid any specific criticism of past presidents and apostles, careful not to disrupt traditional reverence for the church’s prophets.
(Why Race Is Still a Problem for Mormons: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/19/opinion/sunday/racism-and-the-mormon-church.html?_r=1&)

I grew up regularly attending Methodist and Presbyterian churches. I don’t recall any open or public racism in the churches I attended, but there was at least one clear but subtle bit of racism that was passed on to children in Sunday school: pictures of Jesus as a tall, blond, white, European-looking male:

Most American Christians should be somewhat skeptical about what they learned in Sunday School, because most American Christians were indoctrinated in Sunday School with this subtle bit of racism: Jesus was a GOOD GUY, so he must have looked like a white European male NOT like a 1st century Palestinian Jew (as in the picture on the right).

But the canonical gospels indicate that Jesus was Jewish. Now there are a couple of different meanings of the word “Jewish”, and Jesus was portrayed as being Jewish in BOTH senses of the word. He was portrayed as being an adherent of the religion of Judaism, and he was portrayed as being a descendant of the Hebrew people.

The question at issue now, in this series on the oldest sources of the canonical Gospels, is whether Mark, Q, L, and M all represent Jesus as being (a) an adherent of the religion of Judaism, and (b) a male descendant of the Hebrew people.

I will start by examining the Gospel of Mark. It is very clear in Mark that Jesus was an adherent of the religion of Judaism. It is also fairly clear that he was represented as being a male descendant of the Hebrew people.

Jesus prayed to Jehovah, the God of the Jewish faith, and he encouraged others to do so. Jesus was familiar with the Jewish scriptures and quoted or referenced passages from the OT in support of various religious and moral beliefs that he held. Jesus often visited Synagogues, and he observed the Sabbath, even if somewhat less rigourously than some other Jews of his time. Jesus made a pilgrimage to the temple in Jerusalem, and he observed the Passover, which was a religious ritual in Judaism. All of this, and more, is how the Gospel of Mark represents Jesus.

Mark very clearly represents Jesus as an adherent of the religion of Judaism:

Jesus and Jewish scripture: Mark 1:40-44, 2:23-27, 4:10-12, 7:5-13, 10:2-9, 10:19, 11:15-19, 12:9-11, 12:25-27, 12:28-31, 12:35-37.

Jesus and Synagogues: Mark 1:21-22, 1:37-39, 3:1-5, 6:1-4.

Jesus and the Jewish Temple:Mark 11:11 & 11:15-19, 12:35-37, 13:1-2.

Jesus and Passover: Mark 14:12-26.

Jesus and the Sabbath: Mark 2:23-28, 3:1-5.

Jesus was Baptized by a Jewish apocalyptic preacher (John the Baptist): Mark 1:4-9.

Jesus and the Messiah: Mark 8:29-30, 12:35-37, 13:20-23.

Jesus and Prayer: Mark 1:34-36, 6:45-47, 11:24-26, 14:31-40.

Mark also gives a number of indications that Jesus was a male descendant of the Hebrew people:

Jesus spoke Aramaic (not Greek, not Latin): Mark 5:41, 7:34, 14:36, 15:34.

Jesus was called ‘Son of David’ (meaning he was a descendant of King David): Mark 10:46-52.

Jesus expresses negative sentiments about ‘gentiles’(which suggests that he himself was a descendant of the Hebrew people): Mark 7:24-30, 10:41-44.

Jesus grew up in a small town with a synagogue in Galilee (which was presumably dominated by descendants of the Hebrew people): Mark 1:9, 1:24, 6:1-4, 10:47-48.

People supposedly argued during Jesus’ lifetime about whether Jesus was the expected Messiah of the Jews, but no one objected that Jesus was NOT a descendant of the Hebrew people. If Jesus had been Greek or Roman or African or Egyptian or Persian, that would have been one of the first and loudest objections made to the idea that Jesus was the Messiah. But there is no indication in Mark that such an objection was ever raised to this idea.

That Jesus is represented as a male is indicated first and foremost by the fact that his name was ‘Jesus’ or rather ‘Yeshua’, which is usually translated into English as: ‘Joshua’. Joshua was a famous male military leader of the nation of Israel. Just as ‘Joshua’ is a boy’s name in English, so ‘Yeshua’ was a boy’s name in Aramaic.

That Jesus is represented as a male in Mark is also indicated by his being called ‘the Son of Man’ (14:62) and ‘son of David’(10:47) and ‘the Son of God’(1:1), ‘my Son’ (by God himself, 1:11), and ‘son of Mary’(6:3) as well as ‘brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon’ (6:3).

Note that the Greek word for ‘son’ can also mean ‘child’. However, there is a different Greek word for ‘daughter’ which is only used of female offspring, and the Greek for ‘daughter’ appears in at least seven different verses in Mark, and is never used of Jesus. So, the fact that the Greek word for ‘son’ is consistently used of Jesus, and the Greek word for ‘daughter’ is never used of Jesus, indicates that the Greek word for ‘son’ in these cases probably means ‘male offsrpring’ not just ‘child’.

Also, the Greek word for ‘brother’ is a (slightly) different word than the Greek word for ‘sister’, so the fact that Jesus is called a ‘brother’ of James and Joses…etc (as opposed to being called their ‘sister’) is a clear indication that Jesus was a male.

Finally, the Messiah was expected to be a ‘son of David’ (Mark 12:35-37), that is, a MALE descendant of King David. So, if Jesus had been a woman, then in the sexist and patriarchal Jewish culture of that time, this would have been a loud and frequent objection to the idea that Jesus was the Messiah. The fact that there is no mention of such an objection in Mark is evidence that Mark and his fellow Christians believed Jesus was a male.

  • ImRike

    I find it interesting how it is often (correctly) mentioned that Jesus was not a white European male. Very few people ever point out that his mother Mary is also usually depicted as a white European woman. He must have inherited his looks from her (-:

    • Bradley Bowen

      Interesting. Thank you for pointing this out.

      I would like to see an image that attempts to show what a 1st century Palestinian Jewish woman looked like (in comparison with typical white-European looking images of Mary).

      • Eric Sotnak

        For that matter, what are the details of Jesus’ genetic story? Half his genes come from Mary. The other half are presumably divinely and specially created. So… what genetic characteristics did God poof into existence?
        This might seem to be completely uninteresting, but if you were an omnipotent and omniscient God and wanted people to believe that your son was not the illegitimate child of Joseph, you’d have quite a bit of genetic leeway, wouldn’t you? God could have given Jesus genetic characteristics that would lend some strong support to the thesis of extraordinary origins. Instead, he appears to have had ethnic features that would have been exactly what one would expect if he was, in fact, Joseph’s illegitimate offspring.

        • Bradley Bowen

          Of course we don’t have any photos, paintings, drawings, or scuptures of Jesus, so what he looked like is a matter of conjucture.

          Nevertheless, he apparently looked something like a 1st century Palestinian Jew so that nobody was inclined to object “Hey; you’re not a Jew! How can you be the Messiah of the Jews?”

          • Eric Sotnak

            Yes, but notice that mythic heroes often have extraordinary features. Notice the halo in Christian iconography. Maybe you saw that story recently about transgenic glow-in-the-dark rabbits. Jesus could have looked very Jewish in ordinary light, but a glow-in-the-dark Jesus would certainly have been a standout.

            Of course, I don’t really expect to be able to mount much of an argument here, but Jesus is already supposed to have had extraordinary powers, so why not an extra-ordinary appearance?

          • Bradley Bowen

            Christians see the image of Jesus in burritos, toast, ink blots, clouds, and in wood grain. Muslims see the name of God written in the markings on animals.

            Perhaps the name YAHWEH could have been written in Hebrew letters as birth marks all over the body of Jesus. That would have been a good clue (and perhaps the ten commandments, or the first lines of the book of Genesis).

          • Greg G.

            Hi Bradley

            I was reading some ancient decriptions of Cleopatra by various ancient authors. I noticed that Plutarch gave physical descriptions of Antony and Spartacus. Does the lack of physical descriptions for Jesus count as evidence that the sources of the gospels didn’t think of Jesus as a real person?

          • Bradley Bowen

            Sure, but there is also evidence that the sources of the gospels view Jesus as a physical person, and Mark was not an eyewitness, and Q, M, and L are more focused on the sayings of Jesus, so I would not put much weight on the absence of physical descriptions of Jesus.

          • Greg G.

            Hi Bradley.

            Thanks for the reply. I did think of a gospels verse that describes Jesus’ appearance.

            Mark 9:3 and his garments became glistening, intensely white, as no fuller on earth could bleach them.

            Mark seems to be alluding to

            Malachi 3:2 But who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears? For he will be like a refiner’s fire or a launderer’s soap.

            and

            Exodus 34:29 When Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the covenant law in his hands, he was not aware that his face was radiant because he had spoken with the Lord.

            Malachi is a prophecy of the return of Elijah. Mark 9:2 mentions a six day wait as in Exodus 24:16 with Moses and both Elijah and Moses show up in Mark 9:4-5.

    • Bradley Bowen

      Here is an image of a very pale-white Mary with a pale-white baby Jesus (courtesy of the Mormon church website):

      http://edge.mormoncdn.org/bc/content/assets/img/full/lessons/faith/jesus_christ/inter-jc/01-birth.jpg

      • ImRike

        Ah, but at least all the adoring visitors look jewish-y!

  • Brian

    Bradley Bowen is a lying sack of human excrement ;-)

    • Bradley Bowen

      Why Race Is Still a Problem for Mormons

      It was Smith’s successor, Brigham Young, who adopted the policies that now haunt the church. He described black people as cursed with dark skin as punishment for Cain’s murder of his brother. “Any man having one drop of the seed of Cane in him cannot hold the priesthood,” he declared in 1852. Young deemed black-white intermarriage so sinful that he suggested that a man could atone for it only by having “his head cut off” and spilling “his blood upon the ground.” Other Mormon leaders convinced themselves that the pre-existent spirits of black people had sinned in heaven by supporting Lucifer in his rebellion against God.

      http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/19/opinion/sunday/racism-and-the-mormon-church.html?_r=0

      If Jesus had moved next door to Brigham Young, Brigham would have probably put on a white sheet and burned a cross on Jesus’ front lawn.

      • Brian

        ha ha. Nice try.
        A NYT article doesn’t make one informed about Mormonism, especially one as politically motivated and inaccurate as this. It’s interesting to note that the ONLY quote by a black Mormon (or any living person, for that matter) in the whole article was that she “never felt unwelcome in the church,” which sort of contradicts what the author is trying to say.

        • Bradley Bowen

          Brian-

          You indicate that the article is “inaccurate” but I notice that you DO NOT specifically say that the claims made about Brigham Young are inaccurate.

          If THOSE claims are accurate, then your objection seems beside the point.

          Are you suggesting that Brigham Young did NOT describe “black people as cursed with dark skin as punishment for Cain’s murder of his brother” ?

          Are you suggesting that Brigham Young did NOT declare that “Any man having one drop of the seed of Cane in him cannot hold the priesthood.”?

          Are you suggesting that Brigham Young did NOT strongly object to black-white intermarriage?

          OR

          Are you suggesting that these are true facts about Brigham Young but that saying and believing such things does NOT show that Brigham Young was a racist?

          Please clarify your views on Brigham Young and what appear to be racist statements made by him.

          Are you denying the factual claims presented in the article OR do you accept the factual claims but think you can provide a plausible alternative interpretation of these facts?

          If you think you do have a plausible alternative interpretation, I’d love to hear it.

          • Brian

            The whole article, as well as your tacit acceptance of it, stinks of presentism, ie using present-day perspectives to interpret the past. This is a logical fallacy.

            Never mind that Brigham Young belonged to a church that opposed slavery yet lived in a time and region where slavery was accepted by other religions (and people of no religion). By this measure, Mormons were less racist than their contemporaries.

            Never mind that interracial marriage was illegal in the time of Brigham Young, so his condemnations of “mixing of seed” were not necessarily against interracial marriage (which was already against the law), but of adultery.

            Never mind that there are mountains of books and journals written by or about Brigham Young. By selecting a few cherry-picked quotes, it’s not difficult to portray him as a racist, or a hero, or a Communist, or a woman, or any other desired narrative, whether true or not.

            You try to make the claim that Mormons today have a problem with racism, yet the only modern piece of evidence quoted in the article said the exact opposite.

          • Bradley Bowen

            Brian -

            I notice that you did not directly answer my questions.

            From your failure to directly answer my questions I infer that you do NOT deny the factual claims about Brigham Young in the NYT article.

            So, when you say that the article was “inaccurate” it is NOT the factual claims about Brigham Young in the article that you dispute, but the interpretation of those facts.

            Do I understand your objection correctly?

            ===============================

            Just to be clear, here are three key claims about Brigham Young from the NYT article:

            1. He described black people as cursed with dark skin as punishment for Cain’s murder of his brother.

            2. “Any man having one drop of the seed of Cane in him cannot hold the priesthood,” he declared in 1852.

            3. Young deemed black-white intermarriage so sinful that he suggested that a man could atone for it only by having “his head cut off” and spilling “his blood upon the ground.”

          • Bradley Bowen

            Brian said…
            Never mind that Brigham Young belonged to a church that opposed slavery yet lived in a time and region where slavery was accepted by other religions (and people of no religion). By this measure, Mormons were less racist than their contemporaries.
            ======================
            Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery both published racist defenses of slavery in 1836.

            Joseph Smith did change his mind and took an anti-slavery position from 1842-1844. Although Smith maintained his racist opposition to interracial marriage.

            But Brigham Young apparently did not get the memo, and he took a racist pro-slavery position, and he pushed for legal authorization of slavery in Utah in 1852.

          • Bradley Bowen

            Brian said…

            Never mind that interracial marriage was illegal in the time of Brigham Young, so his condemnations of “mixing of seed” were not necessarily against interracial marriage (which was already against the law), but of adultery.
            ===========================
            Response:
            Massachusetts rescinded its law prohibiting interracial marriage in 1843. Three years later a black Mormon man married a white Mormon woman in Masachussetts. The racist Mormon missionary William Appleby was shocked and disgusted when he met this couple and saw their mixed-race child.

            Appleby pushed the issue with Brigham Young, and as a result Young took the racist position advocated by Appleby that blacks should not be allowed to enter into the priesthood, and that whites should not be allowed to have sex with blacks.

            Young proposed and defended a law in Utah to prohibit sex between blacks and whites, regardless of the marital status of the persons involved. Young was acting as a reactionary racist against the progressive change in Massachusetts, pushing Mormonism into over a century of racist beliefs and practices.

            So your theory runs contrary to at least a couple of facts:
            (1) the black-white relationship that appears to have triggered Brigham Young’s establishment of racist rules in the Mormon church was a fully legal marriage between a black Mormon man and a white Mormon woman. Appleby was “disgusted” by this relationship even though it had NOTHING to do with adultery, and
            (2) the law that Brigham Young advocated and that the Mormon legislature passed in Utah prohibited sex between whites and blacks REGARDLESS of their marital status. The law makes NO EXCEPTION for cases in which the black-white couple who engage in sex are married to each other.

          • Bradley Bowen

            Brian said…
            Never mind that there are mountains of books and journals written by or about Brigham Young. By selecting a few cherry-picked quotes, it’s not difficult to portray him as a racist, or a hero, or a Communist, or a woman, or any other desired narrative, whether true or not.
            ===================
            Response:
            Brigham Young made several racist statements about Jews, Blacks, and native Americans. He re-affirmed his belief that blacks were cursed by God on many occasions over several years. It is very clear that Young was a racist who supported slavery, and who opposed marriage and sex between blacks and whites, and who believed that blacks were cursed by God to be ‘servants’, and that their dark skin color was a sign or ‘mark’ that God had created to show that blacks were cursed by God.

            See my series of posts for several racist quotes from Brigham Young: “Brigham Young: Racist Prophet of the Mormons”.

  • L.Long

    BUT! But! but you are forgetting that his REAL father is gawd!!!!
    So he must look like gawd and he is a tall white European with blue eyes and flowing blond hair. Oh Wait! I just remembered, the buyBull ITSELF describes gawd as a short overweight guy with thick red curly hair all over his body.

  • http://lotharlorraine.wordpress.com/ Lothar Lorraine

    Hello Bradley, this is clearly interesting.

    It is obvious that only a few American Conservatives can come to terms with the fact that Jesus looked like a modern Arab.

    Concerning the Mormon Church, I must say I’m impressed by the strong evolution of their beliefs in the last years.

    I’ve realized quite a few Mormons nowadays believe in Evolution, are quite open for trans-humanism and science-fiction and accept to question their belief.

    Greetings from continental Europe.

    Lothars Sohn – Lothar’s son

    http://lotharlorraine.wordpress.com

  • Greg G.

    RM Price cites John Bowman with pointing out that Mark 1:40-45 draws on Exodus 4:6-7. Jesus must remain pure so he can only cure someone else.

    Mark 2:23-27 is corrected by Matthew and Luke as Abiathar was not the high priest at the time. The both failed to notice that David was lying when he said the food was for him AND his men. He was fleeing alone.

    Mark 4:10-12 appears to draw from the Gospel of Thomas Saying 62.

    Mark 7:1-19 apparently comes from Galatians 2 with Paul’s argument put into Jesus’ mouth. If this incident actually happened, Peter would have agreed with Paul. Jesus isn’t adhering to Judaism.

    Mark 10:2-12 has Mark quoting Jesus giving Roman law as Moses law. Matthew and Luke correct him.

    Where does the “Do not defraud” come from in Mark 10:19?

    Mark 11:15-19 seems to be drawing on Malachi 3:1-3, Zechariah 14:21, and Isaiah 56:7. It is in the midst of the fig tree incident, so the whole passage could be drawing on the metaphor of Isaiah 5:1-7.

    Jesus gets mad at a fig tree : Jesus gets mad at the Jerusalem Temple
    The fig tree withers away : ____________________

    In the aftermath of the destruction of Jerusalem, the listener would have no problem filling in the syllogism. The Roman propaganda machine would have spread that news across the Empire to discourage other rebels.

    Mark 12:1-12 also uses details of Isaiah 5:1-7 for the vineyard plus the metaphor and combines it with Gospel of Thomas Saying 65, which may have been drawn on The Odyssey. Verse 12:10 appears to come from Gospel of Thomas Saying 65 which comes from Psalm 118:22 and Mark adds the next psalm.

    Mark 12:25-27 refers to Exodus 3:6. Jesus doesn’t seem to understand the question put to him in this passage. If the people are living after they died, who will be their spouses? The “God of the living” makes no sense as an answer to the question.

    Mark 12:29-31 was probably another suggestion from Galatians where Paul was using some Rabbi Hillel philosophy with the Leviticus 19:18 verse.

    In Mark 12:35-37, Jesus asks an interesting question, but we never get an answer there, in Luke, or in Matthew. Matthew tells us nobody answered the question but everyone stopped asking him questions from that day on. I suppose it’s something like how Levi met Melchizedek in Hebrews.

    EDIT: I just noticed that Matthew moved some of Mark 12:34 down to the end of the next passage.

    Many of these verses can be used as evidence that Mark was trying to present Jesus as a Hebrew but had no knowledge of a real Jesus and had to draw on other sources to create the character.

    • Bradley Bowen

      The more of Mark that can be shown to be based on OT and Paul and other sources that have little or no relationship with an historical Jesus, the more plausible will be the theory that Mark is a purely fictional account of a non-existent person.

      However, I believe that you will find that there is only a modest number of passages in Mark that scholars will generally agree to be unhistorical and derived from a particular non-historical source. It will be difficult to win the argument for the non-existence of Jesus on the basis of a passage-by-passage analysis of possible non-historical sources behind Mark, Q, M, and L.

      • Greg G.

        Hello Bradly,
        I assembled this response in separate sittings. I hope it ties together.

        The more of Mark that can be shown to be based on OT and Paul and other sources that have little or no relationship with an historical Jesus, the more plausible will be the theory that Mark is a purely fictional account of a non-existent person.

        It may be a matter of putting the pieces together. Many scholars have independently shown certain passages of Mark have come from other sources. Each of the individual studies seem plausible. Taken together, there isn’t much room for a real story.
        Robert M. Price got the ball rolling by collecting the work of several scholars who were focused on certain topics and some of them are Christians. See


        New Testament Narrative as Old Testament Midrash
        which makes up the bulk of his The Christ Myth Theory and Its Problems where he includes many of the Bible references.
        There are some who think the Gospel of Thomas was used as a source by the Gospel authors. Here’s a couple of links on that. I just came across the second one while looking for the first.
        Mark’s Use of the Gospel of Thomas
        Mark’s Use of the Gospel of Thomas Part Two

        The following link shows that much of the resurrection story was very common in Greek literature.

        Mark’s empty tomb and other translation fables in classical antiquity.
        So that leaves the following verses in Mark unaccounted for:
        Mark 1:4-8; Mark 1:32-39; Mark 2:13-15; Mark 2:23-25; Mark 3:7-12; Mark 5:25-34; Mark 8:13-21; Mark 8:34-38; Mark 9:30-32; Mark 10:10-12; Mark 10:17-31; Mark 11:25-33; Mark 14:1; Mark 14:10; Mark 15:16-20 (New International Version)

        Mark 1:4-8 is about John the Baptist. It sounds like some descriptions of Elijah found in 2 Kings 1:8 and Zechariah13:4.
        Mark 1:32-39 is about casting out demons and praying alone.
        Mark 2:13-15 Jesus calls Levi. Mark never mentions him again but Luke tells us he threw a big party.
        Mark 2:23-25 comes from 1 Kings, IIRC. I discussed it in the previous post.
        Mark 3:7-12 is about Jesus traveling around and impure spirits recognizing who he is.
        Mark 5:25-34 is about a miracle healing that doesn’t involve spit.
        Mark 8:13-21 is Jesus talking about one of the feeding the multitudes incidents that MacDonald shows coming from one of Telemauchus’ feasts in The Odyssey.
        Mark 8:34-38 begins with the taking up the cross language found in Thomas and goes into Pascal’s Wager.
        Mark 9:30-32 is Jesus predicting his death. This seems to me to be the sort of things the author would insert to tie the story together.
        Mark 10:10-12 is about divorce and was discussed in the previous post.
        Mark 10:17-31 is about how hard it is to get into Heaven. The Ten Commandments at the beginning come from Deuteronomy and Exodus. It ends with a quote from Thomas 4.
        Mark 11:25-33 has Jesus defending his authority and using John the Baptist. His argument may come from a John the Baptist sect’s explanation. I don’t know that but it is easy to see how it could be turned around.
        Mark 14:1 is about the chief priests and teachers plotting to kill Jesus. How would Mark know this?
        Mark 14:10 is about Judas Iscariot going to the chief priests. This character was created out of such verses as Psalm 41:9 and Psalm 55:12-13.
        Mark 15:16-20 is about the soldiers mocking Jesus. It sounds like Micah 5:1, Isaiah 50:6, and Psalm 22:7-8.

        It appears that Mark was using the ancient Greek writing method of mimesis. It’s amazing that so many of his sources can be pointed out. We can’t expect that every source still exists but there aren’t that many verses that can’t accounted for with what we have.

        M, L and Q are alleged documents. They could all be the same documents or they could each be separate. Thomas would fall into each category. Matthew and Luke used some of the same parts of Mark and each used parts the other did not. Similarly, some of M and some of L could be the parts of Q the other did not use. Some of Mark could have come from Q but wouldn’t be classified as such by the definition of Q.

        The Book of Acts consists of 30% speeches. There is no way for an ancient author to reproduce a speech so they would have to provide what the author thought the speaker would have said. Some of the Acts speeches don’t relate to the events that lead to the speech. It’s like the narrative is just to set up the opportunity to present a view assigned to the speaker. The L source could be more of the same, coming from Luke’s mind rather than a separate source. Luke seems to have used Josephus as a source.

        The Reliance of Luke-Acts on the Writings of Flavius Josephus
        Luke and Josephus (2000)
        Luke seems to have made up stories about Jesus drawn on other sources. That wouldn’t be necessary if there was a robust set of documents about Jesus that was believable.

        The nativity story in Matthew shows that he can make stuff up, too.

        That means the Gospel of Thomas could be the best evidence for Jesus. But it’s a gnostic document which may have come from a sect that didn’t believe in a real Jesus.

      • Greg G.

        And another thing. We see “Abba, Father” in different contexts in both Galatians 4:6 and in Mark 14:36. We have “Love your neighbor as yourself”, from Leviticus 19:18 in both Galatians 5:14 and Mark 12:31. In Galatians 2, Paul recounts an argument he had with Peter about being kosher. Mark 7:1-19 has Jesus making Paul’s side of the argument. If Mark was describing an actual event, Peter would have agreed with Paul but it seems that Barnabas was persuaded by Peter’s side. So it seems that Mark was using Galatians as a source.

        Jesus’ three sidekicks are Peter, James, and John. These are the three disciples Paul says were held in held in high esteem but he didn’t think much of that in Galatians 2:6-9. Mark gives them similar treatment in Mark 10:35-45 where they wish to sit on either hand of Jesus in glory. In Galatians 2:11-12, Peter eats with Gentiles until someone who might report to an authority arrives so he changes his behavior. In Mark 14:27-31, Jesus quotes Zechariah 13:7 about the shepherd being struck and the sheep scattering but Peter says he won’t fall away, even though everyone else might and that he would never disown Jesus. Mark 14:66-72 has Peter disowning Jesus three times.

        So we have two small quotes and a major discussion from Paul put into Jesus’ mouth, plus an overall theme of the Book coming from the epistle.
        These are correspondences I have noticed between Galatians and Mark. I don’t have any scholars that would support my idea though Price gives a nod to the possibility of Mark 7 coming from Galatians 2 in the link I provided.

  • Phillip Moon

    Hey Bradley, I was wondering if #14 is the end of this run, or if there will be a #15 and beyond. I find that I get more out of this if I read it all in one go. Truth be told, I put it into an ebook format, put it on my Nook, and read it like a book. I also go through the questions and comments (and answers) because there is a great deal of wonderful information there. I enjoy seeing challenges to your work, and answers to those who challenge. Well done.

  • mark

    jesus doesnt exist get over it

  • Doug H

    First, I realize that this is quite old, so if no one is following this thread any longer, that’s OK.
    Second, I am not only a Christian, I am a trained theologian. Am I still allowed to be in the discussion?
    The two issues that struck me the most is this thread were first that there are still people who believe that there is no historical person named Jesus of Nazareth. This is easy enough to verify from non-Christian sources. He and a truncated list of his disciples (which includes Nicodemus by the way) appears in the Jewish Talmud. Records of his crucifixion appear in Pliny and Eusebius (Roman historians). He is also mentioned by Josephus, who had absolutely nothing to gain and some to lose by including Him in his histories (if only briefly). He is never depicted as very important, but He does make it as at least as a blip in the history of the period.
    Second, the idea that very few Christian churches acknowledge that Jesus was not Caucasian is false and insulting. In my church, I have showed the parts of two different history channel programs, both of which are quite interesting and pretty well done. One uses the shroud of Turin (?) as its source, so probably wouldn’t be very interesting to you, accept that the figure that emerges is surprisingly semitic (?) in appearance. The fact that Jesus of Nazareth looked like an average person from the Holy Land is actually prophesied in the OT (and I know where). Happy hunting. I would say that the main reason that our Jesus often appears Italian in Christian artwork is that a fairly large percentage of Christian artwork was commissioned by Italian popes, painted in Italian studios by Italian artists using Italian models. A good place to go to find more accurate depictions (or at least some different ones) would be Eastern Orthodox iconography, more recent grad school level text books, or just about anywhere not in the U.S. or Europe. (Maybe a less Americo-centric focus would help keep the discussions from drifting into senseless arguments about Mormonism. They are theologically divorced enough from “orthodox” Christology that their opinions about Jesus almost always fall into the category “fringe beliefs” anyway). At the end of the day, the whole “white Jesus” thing is not taught or thought in Christianity now (if it ever was at all). Please be more accurate.
    And finally a question. Why is it surprising that the gospel of Mark would have the OT as a source? If it says anything about the life of Jesus of Nazareth, it would seem strange to me if OT themes, prophecies, and theological ideas would not appear prominently in it. As far as Q,M, and L, are concerned, one responder correctly observed that they are only theoretical documents. If such sources exist, there is still a lot of question among scholars about what came first between them and Mark. Many scholars have Mark as the first gospel (at least in its appearance and use by early Christian communities). Q (M and L almost surely do not exist as documents anywhere in my opinion) may have used Mark as a source or the other way around. But the important thing to say here is that that if Q exists as a source for Mark, that idea does not support the argument that either of these documents are fiction. It is most probably a sayings list similar to the gospel of Thomas (which doesn’t appear until later, and not in the Holy Land or western Roman empire, EXTREMELY unlikely as a source for Mark’s gospel, which probably does come from west and circulates back toward the Holy Land). At the end of the day, all Q as a source does is shift the argument from the veracity of Mark to the veracity of Q. So what?

    • Greg G.

      Hi Doug,

      I just happened to notice a list of the most popular articles for this blog and this post was at the top of the list so I decided to revisit it.

      The two issues that struck me the most is this thread were first that there are still people who believe that there is no historical person named Jesus of Nazareth. This is easy enough to verify from non-Christian sources. He and a truncated list of his disciples (which includes Nicodemus by the way) appears in the Jewish Talmud. Records of his crucifixion appear in Pliny and Eusebius (Roman historians). He is also mentioned by Josephus, who had absolutely nothing to gain and some to lose by including Him in his histories (if only briefly). He is never depicted as very important, but He does make it as at least as a blip in the history of the period.

      At best, the extra-biblical mentions of Jesus can only attest that there were people who believed there had been a Jesus, but they are all too late for any of those people to have known for certain. They may all have been exposed to the Gospel of Mark where nearly every passage can be traced to the most popular Greek, Hebrew, and Christian literature of the day. I gave some sources and listed some unaccounted for verses in the comments of this article.

      The Epistles are the earliest mention of Jesus but they don’t support gospel Jesus as they never mention a teacher, his teachings or so much as an anecdote. Paul only “preaches Christ crucified”. Everything Paul knows about Jesus seems to come from revelation through reading Hebrew scripture. He disagrees with other Christian leaders but he doesn’t think their knowledge of Jesus was acquired any differently than his own as he uses the same Greek word optanomai for his vision as for the others in 1 Corinthians 15. The epistle writers think Jesus was crucified and resurrected but they are reading as hidden mystery history many of the same OT verses modern Christians read as prophecies of Jesus in the Gospels.

      If one only looks at the paucity of evidence for Jesus, one would have to conclude that it is impossible to prove either way. But the biblical evidence that Jesus was a made up character is stronger than any evidence that he actually existed.

      Dennis R. McDonald’s The Homeric Epics and the Gospel of Mark shows how Mark used mimesis in writing the gospel. The first ten chapters have Jesus traveling around the Sea of Galilee like Odysseus and his travels while the Passion is much like the death of Hector in the Iliad.
      Then read Randel Helms Gospel Fictions who shows that the miracles in Mark come from the stories of Moses, Elijah, and Elisha, but you see that Mark is also using mimesis there, as well, and when Helms cites oral traditions as the basis, you realize it’s mostly the Homeric basis.
      The link to Robert M. Price’s list of sources gathered from various sources account for most of Mark.


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