‘You can grow ideas in the garden of your mind’

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(Fred Rogers mashup by John D. Boswell, aka melodysheep. Via Gryphen)

“Every one of us is either a Chaos Muppet or an Order Muppet.”

“Remember, on a daily basis, that everyone else has a story.”

“We’ve finally cut through the crap to identify what this debate is really about: power.”

“Friday’s rally was primarily about people who want to defeat President Obama’s health care policies and defeat Obama in the fall. A non-existent attack on religion was the bloody shirt.”

This is NOT a scene from the next Left Behind movie.

10 Reasons Why I Don’t Know What Century I’m In

“Here’s a run-down of the War on Women, in convenient digestible bits.”

“But none of that will ever, ever change my conviction that when one massively strong and rich entity faces a weaker, fragmented entity, the weaker will lose, again and again.”

“In the never-ending tug-of-war between ‘labor’ and ‘capital,’ there has rarely — if ever — been a time when ‘capital’ was so clearly winning.”

[Obama] says we need more fireman, more policeman, more teachers. Did he not get the message of Wisconsin?”

The plutocrats have another tool they know how to use — religion.”

“The historical Jesus theory seems to me to be a very parsimonious way of explaining the existence of the Jesus tradition.”

“The buck stops with the voters and at some point you just have to accept that more of them would rather cut their own throats then live in a state of peace and prosperity with people they despise.”

The wind industry supports more than 75,000 American-made jobs around the country, and is helping to lead the way toward America’s clean energy future.”

“I could see the barbed wire and the sentry tower from my school house window as I recited ‘with liberty and justice for all.’”

“When it comes to human rights abroad, the American government continues to make terrible, terrible decisions — regardless, it seems, of who happens to occupy the White House.”

“The War on Terror is basically complete. We should begin to treat it that way.”

Why is the Syrian Baath Party committing crimes against humanity? Because it has not succeeded in putting down the 14-month-old rebellion against one-party dictatorship by other means.”

When Romney says things like this, he’s obviously lying. There’s no gray area; it’s not a claim that’s partially true; it’s simply 100-percent false.”

Chronicling Mitt’s Mendacity, Vol. XXI

Church Sign Epic Fails, Vol. XVII

  • JonathanPelikan

    Lliira, here’s a shiny internet for being Awesome generally. You can redeem this internet at your nearest Pan-Con Club or GC branch office.

  • Tonio

    And once you get past that hurdle, the step to “no historical Jesus” is a fairly shallow one.

    Not necessarily. Historians generally agree that underneath the King Arthur legends was a real ruler, likely a Brit0n chieftain leading resistance against Anglo-Saxon domination. It’s not unreasonable to suspect something similar with Jesus.

  • hapax

    But, you also have to note that the canonical gospels were collected by a council that had explitily stated, a-priori, what the correct Theology would be, and, therefore, edited out the gospels that didn’t fit.

    Assuming that you are referring to the Council of Nicea (CE 325), wrong.  The NT canon was pretty much set by the early third century;  the four canonical gospels were widely accepted as the only authoritative ones by the second century.

    great similarities to older stories, such as that of Horus

    You know, you said that before, and it was a boggler the first time.  Of all the dying-and-resurrected  mythological figures popular in the classical world, Horus is about the LEAST similar to the Jesus story.  Heckopete, *Osiris* is a better parallel than Horus.

    That’s what the Dead Sea Scrolls were, gospels that were preserved from being burned and nearly edited out of existence.

    WhatwhatWHAT?  There is a lot of disagreement about who produced the Dead Sea Scrolls and why, but only complete historical ignorance could claim that they had anyting to do with Christianity.  They are exlusively *Jewish* texts, mostly versions of the Hebrew Scriptures, some specifically sectarian Jewish (probably not the Essenes, but likely a similar group).  At any rate, almost all of the extent fragments pre-date the origins of the Jesus movement.

    I suppose I could give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that you are talking about the Nag Hammadi texts, which does contain some apocryphal Gospels.  However, with the possible exception of Thomas, these don’t contain anything that even pretends to be historical or biographical (as opposed to philosophical and mystical)

    As for who would record Jesus, in front of everybody there, running into a pagan temple and upsetting the shrines?  Law enforcement would

    Er, the Jerusalem Temple was very much not “pagan”.  And really… “law enforcement”?  I suppose that you are talking about the complete stash of well-preserved police blotters we have from every first century Roman outpost?

    Now you’re just being silly.

  • eyelessgame

    I confess complete disinterest in whether there was a historical Jesus, but of course that is because I have no theological interest in the question. From my perspective, the following are obvious:

    - There were many radicals and rabble-rousers in the 1st century CE Middle East. Some claimed to be redeemers, rabbis, messiahs. Whether one of them was named “Jesus” seems less than crucial – and the political issues of the time seem to need enough translation to be relevant today that it’s a matter of quite limited and abstruse interest whether the political events in the Bible happened in those details to a single person.

    - The quotes and lessons and parables on philosophy in the Bible exist. Someone had to originate them. Whether that person was named “Jesus”, or whether they were originated by one teacher or several, is again not that interesting to me – the philosophy is.

    - The stories of walking on water, raising the dead, multiplying loaves and fishes, and so forth appear to me to be epistemologically unlikely in the extreme (I understand and respect those who disagree), and thus stories about a character doing these things appear likely to be fictional, so it’s very unlikely there was a historical person (whether or not they were named Jesus) who walked on water, raised the dead, and so on.

    So it is, I suppose, interesting whether one person came up with all the parables, or only some of them. And it might interest a historian somewhere whether it was that same philosopher who also spawned the political movement we associate with very early Christianity. But the question is, to me, not something to take a strong position on, because it doesn’t seem to matter that much.

  • hapax

    Oh, I agree that there are valid and interesting arguments to be made to back up the “Christ-myth” theory.  It’s certainly a foolish historian who takes the accounts of the canonical Gospels as primary historical documents.

    I also agree that they are pretty much of academic interest anyhow;  few Christians are likely to be convinced by them, and to non-Christians, the existence of a “historical Jesus” is pretty much irrelevant.

    My point to WingedBeast was, that if one is going to make those arguments, one ought to at least get the basic facts right.  A garbled Bill Maher-type screed that can easily be punctured by five minutes in Wikipedia will completely strip the theory of any credibility, which isn’t fair to either side.

  • Tonio

     The question of whether Jesus as a person existed interests me only because I’m a history buff, and it’s likely that such a person existed. The miracles attributed to him are another matter, and I would think that any evidence that they happened should required a higher standard than those normally involved in historical research. The philosophies attributed to the person would have value whether or not he existed. We don’t know if Aesop existed but that doesn’t stop people from learning from the fables.

  • LouisDoench

     Oh it’s certainly not unreasonable or somehow beyond the realm of possibility.  It’s just that once you pare away the things that I feel can be safely discarded (miracles, contradictions, obvious allegory to previous legends etc.) then there’s simply not a great deal of Jesus  left to look for.  Sure, there might me a particular member of the wandering Jewish preacher class at the turn of the millennium that the author of say… Mark was  basing his work on. But in order to find that guy you have to peel away so much stuff that you end up with a fairly unremarkable guy.  And why base your religion on him? 

  • WingedBeast

    And my point was not to argue that Jesus never existed, but merely to argue that the idea that such a theory would require a conspiracy specifically to create a faith from whole cloth would be fallacious in the first place.

    It doesn’t take as much denial of fact to believe that there’s a good chance that Jesus never really existed as it does to believe that there’s a good chance that global warming isn’t happening/manmade.

  • Isabel C.

    In re: BDSM:  I blame Gor. As I do for so many things.

    I admit to raising an eyebrow or two at people who do whatever their SO says outside the bedroom, but at the end of the day, it’s their business–until they start saying that it’s the way for all people to be, and particularly that all women really really want to be submissive, really, even if they don’t know it yet.

    John Norman: Why We Can’t Have Nice Things.

    In re: cars: This is why many driving schools have signs on the top of their cars. Not that this helps where I learned to drive, but…Boston. I believe Dave Barry mentioned that the state DMV manual shows you how to give people the finger, and that’s not actually too far off. Does not help that our streets suck.

    In general, while I agree with the “learn to drive where you don’t endanger others” principle, there’s endangering others and then there’s…driving the speed limit, or five miles under, or failing to move at the exact section the light changes. Shut up, guy behind me: you’re in Somerville on a Saturday morning, and an extra ten seconds will not make that much difference.

    The 30-before-30 stuff: Lord. I’m torn, in that I agree with a lot of the commentary (…the kissing thing? What the fuck?), but I also think there are some nuggets of truth in there.

    Like:  if your first romantic relationship is at thirty, odds are decent, just going from what I’ve seen, that you’re going to annoy the fuck out of your friends.  (You may be one of the people who can deal with first-time love without the drama and the woe and the living in each others’ back pocket for six months, in which case go you. If not…well, most of us associate that shit with high school, and most of us don’t have a lot of patience with it ten years later.) Like: yeah, know how to solve your problems. Not all by yourself, but know how to get the help you need without collapsing all over the place.  I’m glad to be there for my friends and loved ones when there’s trouble, but I don’t want it to be a full-time job. And I don’t want them to have a full-time job being there for me.

    Like: Jesus Christ, do not trust other people with your email.  Learned that the hard way.

    Things like that. And yeah, it’s not always possible for everyone to have these, but some of them are pretty good goals. 

  • Tonio

    I had understood that no supernatural or miraculous events have been attributed to Buddha, but I may be mistaken. In any case, the quality of the moral and philosophical ideas that the figure espouses is what should matter in any religion. Jefferson was making a similar point when he drafted an edition of the Bible that didn’t include any miracles.

  • Tricksterson

    IIRC Kim’s universe has a version of SHIELD, complete with an eyepatch wearing female version of Nick Fury that tried to recruit her.

  • Tricksterson

    I’ve gone back and forth on Fred Rogers my entire life.  Loved him as a kid, decided he was lame in my teens and 20s then rrealized just how cool and wonderful a person he was as i got older.

    And definitely a Chaos Muppet here.

  • Tricksterson

    Believing that there was a historical jesus does not automatically believing that the Gospels were literal truth.  Myself I believe the was a man named Joshua/Yeshua, probably from Nazareth (Though probably not born in Bethlehem) that he bacame what would nowadays be called a street preacher and that he caused enough of a ruckus for the Temple authorities and the Romans to want him dead.  All else is conjecture.

  • Tricksterson

    I remember reading that he was supposedly concieved/born under a sacred tree  (and that one of the Hindu gods, variously Brahma, Vishnu or Indra might be the father) and that he had a non-battle with Mara the demon of Illusion which consisted of Mara presenting various temptations and the Buddha ignoring them but nothing on the scale of walking on water or the loaves and fishes.  Anyone of more knowledge please feel free to enlighten me.

  • aunursa

    Your arguments have been addressed by atheists many times.  Here you can find several in-depth essays from an atheist perspective on the question of whether Jesus existed.

    (I am neither Christian nor atheist, and it doesn’t matter to me either way whether or not Jesus existed.)

  • http://jamoche.dreamwidth.org/ Jamoche

    Something that frequently comes up on the LJ fanficrants comm is finding something labelled BDSM that’s not consensual at all, and when the author has that pointed out to them they refuse to change the label.

    This being a rant comm these aren’t representative samples, but any number of them are too many.

  • Joshua


    But, you also have to note that the canonical gospels were collected by a council that had explitily stated, a-priori, what the correct Theology would be, and, therefore, edited out the gospels that didn’t fit.  Gnostic gospels, for instance, have Jesus joyful at the crucifixian.  And, they were, in fact, written on a similar timeframe to the ones that did not get edited out. 

    Wrong and wrong. Go read wikipedia, you don’t need a degree to be able to get this straight. The four gospels were widely read in the early church well before the final list was made official in the 300′s. There are various earlier lists of canonical documents from earlier, and while they have variety, the four gospels are consistently at the head.

    The non-canonical gospels, Gnostic or otherwise, were not written in the 1st century, apart from a minority view among scholars of the dating of the gospel of Thomas. Most don’t make the slightest attempt to appear like historical documents, the authors had other priorities.

    The only non-canonical gospels that are based on an underlying layer of history are the ones based on the canonical ones.

    Look, it’s not like translations and dating are not available in a bunch of places on the internet.

    That’s what the Dead Sea Scrolls were, gospels that were preserved from being burned and nearly edited out of existence.

     The Dead Sea Scrolls are available to read online, including scans of the originals. They’re not secret. Go look them up. They contain no gospels, nor anything equivalent. Some were written before Jesus, none contain a mention of Jesus, and I very much doubt any of the people at Qumran at that time had ever heard of Jesus. For most of them, he hadn’t even been born yet.

    As for who would record Jesus, in front of everybody there, running into a pagan temple and upsetting the shrines?  Law enforcement would.

     

    So, in your dream pixie world, law enforcement were literate people in the habit of writing reports about everyday civic disturbances they investigated. That’s just as whackadoo as claiming that the Jewish temple was pagan.

    There were undoubtably literate priests in the temple, but even if they heard the ruckus outside, why would they write it down? It would be forgotten by the next day, except by people who believed they were seeing the actions of the Messiah.

    Anyway, as I said, the temple was destroyed along with the rest of the city a few years later.

  • Joshua


    And my point was not to argue that Jesus never existed, but merely to argue that the idea that such a theory would require a conspiracy specifically to create a faith from whole cloth would be fallacious in the first place. 

    Whatever your point is, you are arguing it incredibly badly. Go read some of the relevant documents before you spout off about them. The Dead Sea Scrolls, for instance, have some wonderfully interesting and well-preserved records of a religious community that we get nowhere else. They also give us some fantastic insight into the text of the Hebrew Bible from BCE times.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_2CUJHSQSQYTYT4DPZSKTVESYNQ B

    With due respect, this is why I asked what the general
    belief about the existence of a historical Jesus among EXPERTS who have studied
    the topic was – not whether there were intelligent people, theologians, or even
    historians whose area of expertise wasn’t Judiasm in that time and place or the
    early Christian movement who believed there was no historical Jesus.  (As an academic myself, I’m very much aware that it academics tend to be very specialized — certainly I am — and you don’t need to get very far from your primary study before you don’t know any more than any other intellegent person who’s considered the issue.)
    Certainly there are plenty of people arguing that Jesus didn’t exist and who have whole websites devoted to their arguments, and the arguments are often intellegent ones.  But you can say that about a lot of things, including (say) global warming.  That’s why I was curious about the scholarly concensus among people who study the topic – just as I like to know what climate scientists studying the topic think about global warming, as opposed to people more generally.

    Once upon a time, I was skeptical about whether there was a
    historical Jesus myself, but the more I learn about the topic, the more
    convinced I am that there *was* such a man. 
    Whether he did miracles or was the Son of God is a different question.  But that there was such a man that shortly
    after his death was BELIEVED to have performed miracles and been the Son of God?  That I think is almost certainly the case. 

    But as I said, I’m not an expert.  I was under the impression that this was the
    general consensus among people who WERE experts as well, but I could be
    wrong.  That’s why I asked – I was curious
    if anyone knew.

    As far as records of his life – I gather that the vast
    majority of people living in that area and time left no records of their life
    at all, Roman or non-Roman.  So the fact
    that Jesus has at least three records of his life widely believed to be
    independent of each other – Paul’s letters, the Synoptic gospels, and the
    gospel of John – puts him far ahead of most of his contemporaries in that
    regard.   Also note that few people in that time and
    place could read, fewer could write, and only a very few could write well.  

    As far as conflicting stories about Jesus – that certainly
    makes things interesting, but it’s also what lets scholars trace how various
    writings are related to each other, what the theological intention of the
    various authors was, etc.  And sometimes
    the conflicts themselves are informative. 
     

    For example, Matthew and Luke tell completely different
    stories about how Jesus was born in Bethlehem even though he was from Nazareth.  This suggests that:

    1)     
    It was very important to the authors of these
    gospels that Jesus be from Bethlehem (to bolster their argument that Jesus was
    the Messiah)

     

    2)     
    That Jesus probably WASN’T born in Bethlehem (if
    he had been, there would have been a true story to tell, and they would have
    been more likely to tell the same or similar story instead of totally different
    ones).

     

    3)     
    That Jesus probably WAS from Nazareth and there
    were enough people in the early Christian community who knew it that someone would
    call shenanigans if Matthew and Luke claimed otherwise (as it was clearly very inconvenient
    for them that Jesus was from Nazareth and not Bethlehem).

     

    I think that’s usually used as an argument
    that the historical Jesus did come from Nazareth, but it works just as well for
    his existence at all – if there was no Jesus and Luke and Mathew were operating
    under no constraints, why didn’t they just say he was from Bethlehem and call
    it done instead of making up the fact he was from Nazareth and then making up
    (different) elaborate stories to explain away the made-up fact he was from
    Nazareth?

      

    That’s just one argument – I’m not trying to
    rest the entire claim that there was a historical Jesus on this (or indeed make
    the argument here at all, I didn’t ask the original question to start a debate.
    :-) ) but this is the sort of thing I mean when I say that I think denying the
    historical existence of Jesus seems to leave a lot of complicated explanations
    in its wake.

  • Joshua


    I had understood that no supernatural or miraculous events have been attributed to Buddha, but I may be mistaken. 

    I think you may be. All the early documents concerning the Buddha’s life I’ve read, or read about, do describe events that are hard to believe happened naturally. At minimum, the length of time he spent underneath the Bodhi tree without eating or drinking is miraculous, leaving aside interactions with various demons and spiritual creatures.

    And all written biographies were from at least three centuries after his life.

    Nevertheless, I don’t doubt that such a guy as Siddharta Gautama lived, and did and said most of the things Buddhism describes him as doing and saying. Contemporary documents about anyone who isn’t a king are just a very rare luxury in the ancient world, but that doesn’t mean that ancient history as a field is bunk.

  • Joshua


    With due respect, this is why I asked what the general belief about the existence of a historical Jesus among EXPERTS who have studied the topic was 

    With regard to the idea that there was no historical Jesus at all, I studied at a seminary that certainly would have given that point of view airtime, if there was a reputable school of thought behind it. I mean, other points of view that were given airtime included the idea that David and Solomon did not exist, that Jesus was not resurrected, that Paul was gay, that Jesus’ virgin conception did not happen and would have been rape if it did, that in fact Jesus’ infancy narratives in Matthew and Luke were made up pretty much out of whole cloth, and that the God described in the First Testament was originally a combination of several Hebrew or Canaanite deities smooched together as various people got conquered. Not all of these were held by the lecturers speaking about them, although some were. Good luck figuring out which is which.

    The idea that Jesus has no historical basis was not given airtime there.

    I’ve only ever seen the argument seriously advanced on the internet. Outside of Wikipedia, the people advancing the argument struck me as being very biased, but not very knowledgeable. Even including Wikipedia, I don’t think there is a strong argument at all.

    As for the rest of your post, yes, I agree.

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    I heard an interesting point a while ago saying the notion of truth back then was different than now. They didn’t have the modern justice system and so forth.  Perhaps exagerating was part of the truth in a way. Jesus or someone was standing in contrast to the larger society which was wrapped up in stuff like torah interpretation, the Roman occupation, and when the end times were going to come.  Somehow the concept of looking beyond the dead end of the then current  discourse was devised by someone and it caught on of it’s own volition. The original Christians didn’t have it forced down their throats, quite the contrary.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_2CUJHSQSQYTYT4DPZSKTVESYNQ B

    I have read that generally oral traditions change quite a bit more as they pass from person to person than written ones do, and that people in oral cultures consider this a feature, not a bug: you change the story to emphasize the point you want to make at the time of telling.  I gather it’s generally thought that the gospels were based on oral tradition (or in the case of Matthew and Luke, based on other gospels based on oral traditions).  

    Now, I’m not an expert, merely repeating what I’ve read.

    There’s no eyewitness accounts of Christ’s ministry, which is unfortunate but not surprising: probably nobody involved could write.  (Luke claims Christ could read, but if true that would have been very unusual — and didn’t mean he could write.)  Paul does claim to know and speak with people who were witnesses, but he says very little about the life of Christ (but seems very convinced that Jesus existed, and had a brother who also existed and who Paul argued with, and had disciples some of whom Paul *also* argued with).

    So, yes, all of the gospels are based on oral traditions.  When looking for historical facts it would be silly to treat them as… well, gospel.

    But that doesn’t imply that Jesus the person never existed.  These aren’t oral traditions that began hundreds of years later, being told about a time in the distant past — the early Church was already well in gear when Paul was writing his letters, when most of the people who were involved in Christ’s ministry (real or hypothetical) were still alive.  Given that the church started among people who would have been Christ’s contemporaries, you’d think that if there were no person and no ministry behind the traditions, someone would have noticed?

  • P J Evans

    Shut up, guy behind me: you’re in Somerville on a Saturday morning, and an extra ten seconds will not make that much difference.

    Some people really hate the idea of being five seconds late at the next red light.

  • Joshua

    I have read that generally oral traditions change quite a bit more as they pass from person to person than written ones do, and that people in oral cultures consider this a feature, not a bug: you change the story to emphasize the point you want to make at the time of telling.  I gather it’s generally thought that the gospels were based on oral tradition (or in the case of Matthew and Luke, based on other gospels based on oral traditions).
    Now, I’m not an expert, merely repeating what I’ve read.

    Yes indeedy. I’m no expert in the anthropology of oral cultures either, but 1st C Judaea was one, so it comes up when studying the gospels. Irrelevant details drop out, only the key points that fit the story’s form are preserved.

    In fact, I’ve often thought the only thing in our culture really like it is joke-telling. A good joke doesn’t get sidetracked or carry any extra weight: the only details that might be added are for atmosphere or timing, and are less consistent, depending on the joke teller. But any point that contributes to the punchline is preserved in retelling perfectly – if you muck it up, and the punchline makes no sense, then you’ve failed to tell the joke and later retellers don’t follow you.

    All the canonical gospels have these clear signs of an oral tradition. The format the stories fit to are not jokes, of course, but they have other equally constraining formats. For instance, a narrative preamble building to a moral pronouncement. Luke 6:1-5 has a story about Jesus’ disciples plucking and eating grain on the sabbath and getting dissed for it. Jesus defends them, and it builds to the pronouncement  that “The Son of Man [Jesus] is lord of the sabbath.”

    Other things being equal, I’d take passages that include extraneous details as being more original, written down more directly from a witnesses memory. There are some in the gospels, but not too often.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    With regard to the idea that there was no historical Jesus at all, I studied at a seminary that certainly would have given that point of view airtime, if there was a reputable school of thought behind it. I mean, other points of view that were given airtime included the idea that David and Solomon did not exist, that Jesus was not resurrected, that Paul was gay, that Jesus’ virgin conception did not happen and would have been rape if it did, that in fact Jesus’ infancy narratives in Matthew and Luke were made up pretty much out of whole cloth, and that the God described in the First Testament was originally a combination of several Hebrew or Canaanite deities smooched together as various people got conquered. Not all of these were held by the lecturers speaking about them, although some were. Good luck figuring out which is which

    It’s a pretty standard view among biblical scholars that Moses wasn’t a real guy, right? Not among Bible believing Christians, obviously, but we heretical Catholics and our ilk.

  • Isabel C.

     Yeah, but they make pills for that these days.

  • alfgifu

    Historians generally agree that underneath the King Arthur legends was a real ruler, likely a Brit0n chieftain leading resistance against Anglo-Saxon domination.

    Popular culture is generally of the opinion that the King Arthur legends were built around a real figure, usually identified with the Ambrosius mentioned by Gildas in connection with a battle at Mons Badonicus.  Other early sources link Ambrosius to Merlin, so you sometimes see a composite Merlinus Ambrosius instead.  But really there is nothing to go on there: Gildas was writing a jeremiad against contemporary rulers, not a historical text.  He doesn’t spend much time on the battle at all, and it’s not mentioned anywhere else.  It seems to have been a decisive victory on the part of some Romano-Britons against some Anglo-Saxons – or possibly on the part of some Anglo-Saxon mercenaries allied with the Romano-Britons against other Anglo-Saxon mercenaries – anyway, there’s not much there, and it’s not definitely linked to Arthur.

    Even more difficult for those who want to see Arthur as a historical king in that time period is that there are place names referring to him that probably pre-date Roman Britain.  The Welsh legends of King Arthur represent what is likely to be the oldest tradition.  The written records are late, even for the Anglo-Saxon period, but are sourced from an oral tradition that could well reflect a folk hero predating the arrival of the Anglo-Saxons entirely.  They certainly contain a lot of clearly ahistorical material (e.g. Arthur striding from Ireland back to Wales in one step).

    Geoffrey of Monmouth, the man responsible for assembling the legends into the backbone of the story we all recognise, states that he drew information from Nennius and from another mysterious book.  Nobody has been able to work out whether the other book existed (he doesn’t specify author or origins), but it is odd that no trace of it remains anywhere else.  Nennius is, well, not the most reliable of sources either.

    A lot of historians would love to find a real King Arthur, but for the past forty years or so the consensus has been that we don’t have any solid evidence that he did exist.  Every reference or story gets less convincing the longer you look at it.

    Sorry for the wall of text!  But I think the King Arthur situation is more analogous to the Christ-Myth theory than to the historical Jesus supposition.

  • Tricksterson

    IIRC in the story of the adulterous woman (and why wasn’t anyone eager to stone the guy she was adulterating with anywho?  But I digress) IIRC Jesus started wrinting in the dirt so if one believes the Gosels then yes he could write.

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    well lets say we had no art history written in the 20th century. That it all got destroyed somehow. We would have a difficult time saying jackson Pollock existed because none of us knew him personally (probably) and ones who did likely didn’t see him paiting his masterworks. Okay there is a famous photo series of him doing that but let’s say that didn’t exist).

    The point is: it would be logical to doubt the existence of jackson Pollock, but it would be impossible to deny the existence of abstract expressionism because it happened, the paintings are the evidence. So wether Jesus existed or not, what he is said to have brought did exist as is evidenced in the difference between Christianity and Judaism and the change in philosophy in general between BC and AD.

  • Joshua


    It’s a pretty standard view among biblical scholars that Moses wasn’t a real guy, right?
     Not among Bible believing Christians, obviously, but we heretical Catholics and our ilk. 

    I have not seen anything I’d call a consensus. (Consensus among biblical scholars is frankly rare in my experience and tends to come with disclaimers just like yours.) I’d say there is definite consensus that (i) the Exodus narrative is at least heavily mythologised, and that (ii) the Torah is a combination of various written sources all of which were composed well after the fact, and that (iii) any historical Moses wrote none of them. That’s about as far as I’d say consensus goes.

    I remember in my studies being presented with a range of theories about the formation of Israel, but there really isn’t a lot of independent evidence to distinguish between them. My impression was that the lecturer felt that an escaped band of ethnically Semitic slaves from Egypt, perhaps led by someone called Moses, catalysed a revolution in Canaan where the hill folk came down and took the cities. So the Exodus story would be based in some kind of history, but the bulk of the population of the new Israel were not from Egypt.

    Ancient peoples almost always had glorious foundation myths. The king were descended from gods, and the city was founded by at least a demigod. I find the idea that the foundation myth of slavery and escape hiding in the wilderness for years to be singularly rare and unlikely. For that reason, I personally think that there’s a basis of historical truth in it.

  • BaseDeltaZero

    As for who would record Jesus, in front of everybody there, running into a pagan temple and upsetting the shrines?  Law enforcement would.

    Okay.  Sure.  Too bad we don’t have all of Jerusalem’s law enforcement records.

    I had understood that no supernatural or miraculous events have been attributed to Buddha, but I may be mistaken.

    You are.  Massively.  In many cases, Bhudda and other Bhoddavistas (sp?) were pretty much ascribed with all the powers of dieties.  Basically, incorporating Chinese, Hindu, Shinto, etc. mythology, much as Christianity incorporated myths of local foreign gods into the deeds of its saints.  

    Though no supernatural or miraculous events are critical to Bhuddism.


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