Who Would Die for a Lie? (Another Weak Christian Argument)

Who Would Die for a Lie? (Another Weak Christian Argument) January 17, 2015

Almost all of the original apostles of Jesus died martyr’s deaths. If they knew that Jesus was just a regular guy and that the resurrection story was fiction, why would they go to their deaths supporting it? Lee Strobel said that though people may die defending their beliefs, “People will not die for their religious beliefs if they know that their religious beliefs are false.”

While people have died for lies—the 9/11 hijackers, for example, or the Heaven’s Gate cult—they didn’t know it was a lie. That the apostles were in a position to know and still died defending it is strong evidence that the Jesus story is accurate.

Or, at least this is the story Christians tell themselves.

How did the apostles die?

There are several issues here, but let’s focus first on the big one: how we know how the apostles died. Since their dying as martyrs is key to this apologetic, you’d think that this was well established in history. But sometimes Christian historical claims have a very weak pedigree.

Our one-stop shopping source for this question is historian Hippolytus of Rome (170–235) in his “On the Twelve Apostles.” At best, this is an early third century work written close to 150 years after the facts it claims to document. At worst, it was written even later by an unknown author (called “Pseudo-Hippolytus” by historians) and inadvertently or deliberately compiled with the writings of Hippolytus.

Here’s the summary:

  • 4 apostles were crucified: Andrew, Bartholomew, Peter, and Philip (the last three upside down).
  • 3 were killed in some other way: James the son of Alpheus was stoned, James the son of Zebedee was killed with a sword (presumably decapitated), and Thomas was killed by spear.
  • 5 died natural deaths: John, Matthew, Matthias (the new twelfth disciple added after Judas left the group), Simon the Zealot, and Judas the son of James (Thaddeus).

Another source disagrees.

Another popular source for this information is John Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, first published in 1563 and in many later editions. Its late age, 1500 years after the events, is enough to disqualify it since we have the earlier account, but its popularity makes it an important source. To a large extent Foxe was simply a mouthpiece for the anti-Catholic sentiment in England at the time, and many sources dismiss its accuracy (Wikipedia1911 BritannicaCatholic Encyclopedia).

Foxe largely agrees with Hippolytus on the deaths of the apostles except for the ones that Hippolytus says died natural deaths, giving that fate only to John. He says that Matthew was “slain with a halberd” in Ethiopia, Matthias was stoned in Jerusalem and beheaded, Simon the Zealot was crucified in Britain, and Judas the son of James was crucified in what is now eastern Turkey.

James the son of Zebedee seems to have the oldest martyrdom story. Hippolytus probably got his account from Acts 12:2, written in the latter half of the first century, which says that Herod Agrippa (grandson of Herod the Great) killed him “with the sword.”

For most of the other apostles, however, contradictory stories cloud the issue. For example, Bartholomew’s death is documented in a number of contradictory ways. One account says that he was beaten and then drowned. The Martyrdom of Bartholomew (c. 500) says that he was beaten and then beheaded. The most popular, perhaps because it’s the most gruesome, is that he was skinned alive and then crucified (or beheaded).

Various sources add to the story of Matthias. He was crucified in Ethiopia. Or he was blinded by cannibals but rescued by Andrew. Or he died a natural death in Georgia on the coast of the Black Sea.

Simon the Zealot might have been sawn in half in Persia. Or crucified in Samaria. Or martyred in Georgia.

Add to this:

  • the many additional contradictory stories about other apostles not included in this brief list,
  • the decades-long period of oral history from event to writing, and
  • the time span, usually centuries long, between the original manuscripts documenting the martyrdom stories and our oldest copies that make those copies suspect.

What can we conclude given this evidential house of cards? Only that “most apostles were martyred for their faith” is historically almost indefensible.

And it’s not just that the claim for any particular martyrdom story is flimsy; it’s that we can be certain that many of them are false because they contradict each other.

Let’s pause for a moment to savor the larger lesson. “Tradition holds that” or “The Church tells us that” is never enough—be sure to look behind the curtain to see what evidence actually supports a historic claim. Too often these claims crumble.

“Who would die for a lie?” you ask. I dunno—let’s first establish that someone died at all.

Concluded in part 2.

Martyrdom has always been a proof of the intensity,
never of the correctness, of a belief.
— Arthur Schnitzler (1862–1931)

(This is an update of a post that originally appeared 8/8/12.)

Photo credit: Wikimedia

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  • Alternatively, one could think Jesus’ disciples actually DID believe their leader had come back to life, so that this became a truth worth dying for.
    For example, Jesus’ body could have been taken away by Jewish religious leaders to prevent the tomb from becoming a meeting place for the disciples themselves, which accidentally led them to believe He was still alive (and to feel and behave accordingly).

    • Pofarmer

      So, of the Jewish leaders took the body away, and the disciples believed Jesus rose from the dead, why didn’t they venerate the site of so great a miracle?

      • MNb

        How are you so sure the disciples actually knew where the site was?
        What evidence do you have that ancient jews venerated sites?

        • Pofarmer

          If the disciples didn’t know where the body was, why would the Jewish leadership have stolen it?

          As far as tomb veneration, there is a series on Youtube called “excavating the empty tomb” that lists sources. I can look harder if you require.

        • MNb

          Who says the Jewish leadership has stolen it? You make so many assumptions about a historical Jesus (and don’t question your own assumptions) that it has become a strawman.
          The best we can say is that the tomb was empty after three days. and it’s even possible to cast doubt on that one, because basically there is only one source for it, the original Gospel of Marcus. You can speculate whatever you like about what happened with the body and you already have shown how much you like unsubstantiated speculations as long as they suit your pre-determined conclusion. Maybe it’s a remnant of your former belief system, maybe it’s the influence of your family in law, maybe it’s something else, I don’t know. But scientific it’s not. In any case the empty tomb is not a problem for a historical Jesus – that problem only exists in your prejudiced mind. And if the tomb weren’t empty and is just another legend attached to the character we don’t even have something to discuss.

          Pardon me my poor English, but what does “excavating” have to do with “venerating”?

        • hammerhead

          How are you so sure that they didn’t?

    • Which sounds likelier–that all the supernatural tales Man has spun are wrong except for the Christian one, or that the Jesus story is yet one more distant unverifiable story that is false like all the rest?

      • kraut2

        How many died for National Socialism, the lie of the superiority of the alien race, how many died for the lie of Bolshevism to create a workers paradise, how many died for the lies of Italian fascism?
        How many died in the American civil war, each side believing their side to be the true representation of America?
        You do not need the supernatural to die for a lie.
        The propensity of humans to die for an idea is never a measure of its truth value.

        • hammerhead

          but it could be a measure given what’s at stake

      • hammerhead

        well your basing your history of Peter in Rome off of one source so you tell us?

        • Philmonomer

          I guess I’m being thick at the moment. Can you explain how this is a meaningful reply?

        • hammerhead

          he is basing his history of Peter in Rome off of one source written hundreds and hundreds of years after the events and yet Christians are in the wrong for having the best ancient manuscript attestation on the planet. Manuscript evidence that historians drool over by the way.

        • Philmonomer

          he is basing his history of Peter in Rome off of one source written hundreds and hundreds of years after the events

          Sure, the history of Peter in Rome could be wrong. I don’t think the blog post depends on it. In fact, the point of the blog post is that we cannot be sure what happened to them.

          yet Christians are in the wrong for having the best ancient manuscript attestation on the planet. Manuscript evidence that historians drool over by the way.

          First, there are blog posts here about the manuscripts; you might find them interesting. Second, I am going to assume that you think other supernatural tales other than those about Jesus aren’t true. But there are even better attestations to many of them. For example, Mormonism (among many, many others).

        • Hippolytus of Rome, 150 years after the events, gives one account of Peter’s death. Is that what you’re talking about?

          As for this fabulous manuscript evidence: it is quite good … considering. It certainly can’t support the unbelievable claims Christians make.

        • Sorry–I’m missing your point. What did I say about Peter in Rome? And how is that relevant?

    • hammerhead

      that’s ludicrous. If Christs body was still in the tomb the Jews would have had the body paraded down the street for all to see.

      • MichaelNewsham

        Why? The Jewish leadership certainly didn’t believe in the Resurrection; if anything they perceived Jesus as some minor trouble-making heretic like a thousand others and thought his tiny group of followers would immediately disperse- and (depending on which Gospel you believe) the disciples indeed returned to Galilee to see the resurrected Christ there. .

        It wasn’t till decades later that the story of the Risen Jesus began to come to peple’s attention, and even then it was mostly outside Palestine- the Jews were rather preoccupied at the time.

        Richard carrier (in his pre-mythicist days) pointed out that Jewish law forbade the identification of a body after three days, on the ground that too much decay had set in.

        • hammerhead

          You need to read up on the historicity of 1 Corinthians 15:3-8

      • It’s just a story.

        We read a gospel story written 40+ years after the purported events. The Jews could’ve done anything the author wanted–they’re just characters in a story.

  • Pofarmer

    I cant remember of it was Victor Stengers book, or another, that statss that Peter can’t be confidently placed in Rome at all. If that’s the case, It would be rather hard for him to be crucified there. I guess I need to put Candida Moss on my reading list.

    • MNb

      There are two letters from the first century, but I suppose such evidence is not good enough for you.
      Plus two Roman sources mention Nero persecuting christians.
      If you mean with “confidently” that you need archeological evidence then I suggest you to doubt Socrates and Diogenes of Sinope as well.

      • katiehippie

        So what if Socrates didn’t exist. The ideas attributed to him still exist. People don’t worship Socrates as a god.

    • KarlUdy

      Pofarmer,
      I find it interesting that you so readily accept what is purported to happen by someone (you’re not even sure whose book it is) whose viewpoint matches what you currently believe, but that you are so vigilant to find possible weak points in accounts or arguments that contradict what you currently believe.

      • Pofarmer is imperfectly trying to relate some information. It’d be great if he had the source, but he doesn’t have it at the moment. The information might still be valuable, no?

        • hammerhead

          Either way it’s only one source. One source could
          be the truth but it is unlikely especially given all the scholarship against that position.

        • KarlUdy

          My point was simply that it was interesting to see incredulity and credulity present in the same person regarding a single topic, depending on where their allegiances lie.

      • Pofarmer

        Honestly, I’ve read such a volume of stuff lately that I’m having trouble keeping it all straight. I figure if I’m too much off base somebody will straighten me out.

  • Lightning Baltimore

    One of the big things that has always struck me about this claim is that most of them died horrible, agonizing, gruesome deaths. If they truly were disciples of the one, true god, why did he allow this to happen???

    • They’d probably say something about Jesus promising that life would be tough for them, that God doesn’t want to provide a cushy life, etc. Basically, any opportunity for God to show his existence is dismissed as somehow inappropriate.

      • hammerhead

        evidently your definition of God assumes that there is no possibility for evil?

        • RoverSerton

          my definition of God assumes no possibility (very very low probability) for a god (as commonly defined).

        • hammerhead

          that’s nice, I was talking to Bob

        • RoverSerton

          Sorry, didn’t realize this was a private discussion. (snark).

        • I sometimes answer questions not addressed to me, and I have no problem when others do so as well.

        • hammerhead

          that’s nice, I was talking to Bob

        • hammerhead

          “your” definition….which is….?

        • RoverSerton

          well, I shouldn’t reply since you were talking to Bob, but, since you ask. Any definition that includes Omni (anything), or supernatural (anything), or any definition I have ever heard for any god. You give me a definition of your God and I’ll see if I will tell you if I think him probable of existence.

        • hammerhead

          the God who designed nature

        • RoverSerton

          Citation needed.

          If that is how you think of your God, deism at best, I ‘ll give you that. Most don’t have such a simplistic basic god who’s only attribute is what we can see. I bet you have other attributes you won’t mention.

        • hammerhead

          what do you mean – you can’t see that your body operates as a machine. Try breathing once….there ya go see how that works – that’s called design!

        • RoverSerton

          Wow, Ken Hamm is Hammerhead. OK, I can’t argue with the logic of creationism. You win.

        • hammerhead

          so, you don’t agree that to take a breath is machine like?

        • Kodie

          So you don’t agree you’re a sock puppet? WHO PROMISED NOT TO LIE?

        • Kodie

          That’s called a sock puppet using the argument from incredulity. WERE YOU BANNED 3 TIMES YET?

        • hammerhead

          do you believe that the body acts as a machine with all its various cell functions and ligaments, etc.?

        • Kodie

          You’re a lie machine.

        • hammerhead

          what have I lied about?

        • Kodie

          You lied and pretended you’re not the same person as stnwljksn, for starters. Do you really think you’re smart enough to pull that off? Do you think we can’t tell immediately that it’s you??

        • Greg G.

          Is this the guy who got bounced after using different socks? I remember one as “Justass” but that is not the spelling that he used.

        • Kodie

          It was some letters (maybe 3, not a name or word) with 3 numbers following, next sock had the same pattern, and came back complaining about Bob doing something like banning him, he was going to report Bob to Disqus for looking at his account, then he changed it to stnwljksn and was exactly the same but logged in as guest, which everyone knows is must be more difficult to ban, then I don’t think he posted for a while, then he started up again last week. I can’t find any of his old posts in December, but in a thread I think he posted in, some comments are deleted and probably are his.

          Now you know Bob doesn’t ban people quickly, but this guy got banned twice in 2 days, and just loved us so much, he had to make a 3rd attempt. I don’t think Bob banned him again, but he changed his login to hammerhead, and kind of went all the way back to full douche, after pretending for about a day that he wasn’t going to be a dick anymore (admitting thusly that his intention was to be a dick all along).

        • Take a look at the sugar crystals that form after letting a supersaturated solution evaporate. There ya go–nothing but God placing every molecule would explain that. That’s design!

        • Max Doubt

          “There ya go–nothing but God placing every molecule would explain that. That’s design!”

          So there’s a god making a jar of rock candy on my windowsill, one crystal at a time, and that’s why it’s too busy to, oh I don’t know, maybe feed some starving children somewhere. I’m so special. God is so cool. Rock candy is such a miracle!

        • Otto

          Poor design.

        • hammerhead

          all powerful

        • RoverSerton

          All powerful, No, I don’t believe your god exists. Nothing is all powerful. It fails my Omni anything portion.

        • MNb

          But not powerful enough to send his son Jesus twice or to send collective nightmares as a warning for natural disasters like the Japanese earthquake of 2011.
          Nope, that god doesn’t exist, ie probability zero.

        • MNb

          Nature doesn’t require a designer (unless you stretch the meaning of the word so much that it only contains natural laws) hence the probability of the god you just tried to define is infintely close to zero.

        • No possibility of gratuitous or avoidable evil, yes.

    • Pofarmer

      Heads I win, tails you lose?

    • hammerhead

      because human beings have libertarian free will

      • kraut2

        another baseless claim. Just throw something out, it might stick.

      • MNb

        Except when they haven’t – like the prisoners of Auschwitz.

  • Mick

    It is possible that the apostles did know it was a bullshit story, but they stuck with it (as do the modern evangelists) because there was big money in it. [Several times Paul mentions that he was taking up a collection of money for the apostles in Jerusalem.]

    So the apostles had the incentive to keep on spreading the lie, and threats of arrest did not worry them because it only enhanced their reputation and attracted new followers (and more money) into the cult.

    Also, even when threatened with arrest, the apostles probably assumed that “it will never happen to me” – and then it happened to them! Suddenly it was too late. They had pushed their luck too far. The death penalty was passed and nothing they could say would change it.

    The myth says they died proclaiming their faith in Jesus whereas, in fact, they probably died saying, “Oh shit, I really messed up this time.”

    • hammerhead

      a. are you against non profits taking up collections to support their endeavors?

      b. Gnosticism would be an example of an early church cult. A cult is a deviation from the orthodox position and Pauls was the orthodox position of the early church all the way back to Peter and James the brother of Jesus.

      c. myth is not an option with how early the historical evidence dates.

      • Greg G.

        Hi stnwljksn.
        a. He is against fakes taking advantage of the generosity of people.
        b. Paul’s version is now orthodox but before the destruction of Jerusalem, the orthodoxy was more like the Epistle of James.
        c. That’s your fantasy.

      • Kodie

        a. I answered this question for you last night, remember?

        You lie when you think another person will take your “bait” and give you another answer you are trying to trap people into. Dumbass.

    • That sounds plausible, though I wouldn’t give the Christian apologists so much. To me, it’s easy to imagine very little of the original story surviving 40 years of oral history. But if you’re trying to meet the Christian antagonist more than halfway, this sounds like a plausible approach.

      • Kodie

        I have the idea that if anyone died, they were under the same delusion as modern people. They’d have the same information we have, and they’d be just as likely to jump to the same conclusions based on rumors and wishful thinking. Modern people are swept up by charismatic preachers all the time, this was a cult, of course they would stick up for their buddy. Court/crime shows always have that friend who would never believe their friend was a murderer, despite the mounting evidence. Apostles can die for the exact same amount of information we have. Maybe one of them died, and the rest of them were even more convinced because “why would he die for a lie? That’s all I need to know for sure, I’m in!”

  • hammerhead

    There’s a lot I agree with here.

    However, I think you’re constructing a straw man of sorts. Who is out there
    defending the deaths of Andrew, Bartholomew or Philip?

    We know from Scripture that there were three groups of disciples and
    Peter, James, Andrew and John were always in the first group and Peter was
    always listed first signifying that he was the leader of that group. Philip was
    the leader of group two and James Son of Alpheaus was the leader of group
    three. James is martyred in Acts, that’s correct and his death is mentioned because he was an extremely important disiciples and was in group one of the disciples. Aside from this event Stephen is also martyred in Acts although he was not one of the twelve. Stephen was the first non disciple martyr in Christian history. Those would be the only two that I would concretely defend – James (the brother of John) and Stephen. John the Baptist would also be considered a historical martyr. With this in mind, Stephen is probably only mentioned because of its relationship with Paul (formally Saul) and James the brother of John and John the Baptist were probably mentioned because of their high profiles. The other disciples are not mentioned (accept for Peter) because of there less significant status among the early church. So, no sane apologist would defend the historicity of the martyrdom of early Christian adherents aside from Peter, James the brother of John, John the Baptist, and Stephen. The Apostle Paul’s martyrdom is also well documented.

    More importantly, if Jesus was who he said he was don’t the deaths of John the
    Baptist, James the brother of John and Stephen indicate that what hey died for
    was far different than the heavens gate cult or the 9/11 hijackers. They
    weren’t dying to “make it into heaven” like the Islamic extremists
    and hoping for a bunch of virgins when they died. They weren’t dying to board
    an alien space craft that followed comet hale bop either. What they died for
    was far different than either of those things – if Jesus was who he said he was
    than they died simply for the truth and nothing else.

    So, if Jesus was who he said he was then that would be worth dying for – would
    you not agree?

    • RoverSerton

      No, What is the need or advantage to die for any belief if it doesn’t help propel the advancement of the belief? As Patton put it, “let the other bastard die for his country”.

      • hammerhead

        Which is exactly what did not happen to the disciples in question.

        Stephen was killed by the governing authorities for being a Christ follower

        James the brother of John was killed by Herod Agrippa I for being a Christ follower

        John the Baptist was killed for being a Christ follower

        Peter was killed in Rome for being a Christ follower

        Paul was killed in Rome for being a Christ follower

        the 9/11 hijackers died on purpose, i.e. they committed suicide. The heavens gate cult died on purpose, i.e. they committed suicide. These are hardly the same as the five men I mentioned.

        • RoverSerton

          Jesus committed suicide. Or, his dad had him killed. Jesus couldn’t die of old age.

        • hammerhead

          Jesus was killed by the governing authorities he did not commit suicide

        • RoverSerton

          So, he was not a sacrificial lamb of Gods for man’s salvation. He was just a person put to death. Then the only thing God did was allow his son to die, he didn’t offer anything. I”m out. Have a good night.

        • hammerhead

          No, he died because God allowed him to and Jesus gave his life willingly for the sin of the world while we hated him and spit in his face which many are still doing even today.

        • RoverSerton

          The article was about people dying for a lie. Jesus IMO did just that. He either lied, was delusional, misunderstood his purpose, or was misunderstood by his biographers. His death was no more meaningful than the old man that shouts at clouds, but he had a much better publicist. His dad, if he even could do something to help, didn’t. Great guy that one. Spitting on Jesus’s face? I wouldn’t if I could. He seemed by most accounts to be a decent chap. I just don’t believe he was special. Born of a man and woman, died a painful death, went back to the soil like you and I will do.

        • MNb

          “He either lied, was delusional, misunderstood his purpose, or was misunderstood by his biographers.”
          I’d say some combination of all, plus those biographers using him for their own agenda.

        • kraut2

          How much of a sacrifice if you know that daddy has given you the power to raise yourself up after a few days of sleep? Worthless and no sacrifice at all, a sham and a show for the deluded if it ever was true.

        • MNb

          Perhaps you are spitting Jesus in his face, but not me. I find him largely irrelevant.

        • Greg G.

          When they spit in his face, they were only trying to heal him. That’s how Jesus healed people.

        • hammerhead

          and the Roman guards wanted to heal him after they scourged his body?

        • Greg G.

          Sometimes people say things that do not really mean what the words say at the surface level. There are many people who are aware that someone may be using words like that but are incapable of comprehending the underlying meaning. Then there are people who are oblivious that there could be an underlying meaning. You seem to be in that group. Sometimes the underlying meaning is profound and sometimes it is trivial. Would you like us to spell out the less obvious meanings for you?

        • hammerhead

          please do oh masterful atheist who comprehends the deep truths of the universe

        • Greg G.

          Fine, since you still do not see. My comment was a facetious allusion to Jesus’ healing miracles where he used spit to heal the blind and the deaf.

        • Kodie

          You could, Greg G, but tomorrow he’ll be back and use the same arguments with a new name and pretend we can’t tell it’s really him.

        • Greg G.

          He’s like a rawhide chew toy. He begs to be banned. What compulsion drives that behavior?

        • adam

          WHO allowed him?

        • Greg G.

          “Suicide by cop” is sometimes given as a cause of death. Jesus committed “suicide by governing authorities”.

        • hammerhead

          that’s interesting I vaguely remember the Bible saying that Jesus hadn’t done anything wrong

        • Greg G.

          “Suicide by cop” is not about doing anything that is wrong. It is forcing a cop to shoot you by making yourself seem like a threat to the public or to the cop.

          Jesus’ Temple tantrum would qualify as making himself seem like a threat to the public. He was asking for it.

        • MNb

          The Bible was not Roman law back then and the “cops” obeyed the latter.

        • hammerhead

          no but the people demanded that Jesus be killed even though he was found innocent

          also, your insinuating that nothing is worth dying for even if you know you’ll be killed for it.

        • You don’t use the story in question to support the story in question. “the people demanded that Jesus be killed even though he was found innocent”–that’s all part of the story.

        • TheNuszAbides

          but the echo chamber feels so good, why should it matter what any particular [non-]support lacks in persuasive power or relevance?

        • Kodie

          How is that any different than today? What sort of convictions are you willing to die for?

        • I haven’t thoroughly researched the charges that these 5 men were found guilty of. You’re saying that “follower of Jesus” was a capital offense? Rabble rousing or inciting to riot, I could believe. But that seems an odd charge to make a capital offense. What’s your evidence?

    • kraut2

      “We know from Scripture that there were three groups of disciples and
      Peter, James, Andrew and John were always in the first group and Peter was always listed first signifying that he was the leader of that group. Philip was the leader of group two and James Son of Alpheaus was the leader of group three.

      As to the historicty of the disciples:

      http://www.hts.org.za/index.php/HTS/article/viewFile/1634/2926

      http://www.rejectionofpascalswager.net/apostles.html

      http://vridar.org/2009/05/25/manufacturing-evidence-for-the-historicity-of-12-apostles/

      Conclusion – we have no first or often even second hand evidence and records of much that pertains to the supposed founder of Christianity. I have come to my own personal conclusion that there is little if any at all evidence for a historical person named Jesus and none for a historical jesus that did anything that is described in the gospels.

      The christian Jesus is in essence a creation of the ideologue Paul.

      • hammerhead

        wow – Bart Ehrman (the agnostic skeptic) wrote a book for guys called “Did Jesus Exist?” The answer is an absolute “yes” by the way. You’re in the same camp as Bill Maher.

        • Kodie

          You’re a sock puppet.

        • Rudy R

          Be careful using Bart Ehrman as a source to prove your point.. It will eventually bite you in the ass. BTW, it’s not an “absolute” yes that Jesus existed.

        • kraut2

          And there are other scholars who have severe doubts about the historicity of Jesus. Just because Ehrman is agnostic does not give him any special insights or a special authority.
          There is no “absolute” yes, this is utterly unscientific and nothing more than propaganda. Science works with probabilities and margins of probabilities, never ever in absolutes . Any such claim as to an absolute truth is only to be found in the realm of the believer.
          And – which Jesus existed? The godman claimed in the bible, or just a prophet of some minor renown – not even worth a first hand mention in some historical Roman or Jewish documents or literature?

          http://www.bibleinterp.com/articles/2014/08/car388028.shtml

          http://www.jesusneverexisted.com/scholars.html

          Demolishing the historicity of Jesus – A History

          For more than 200 years a minority of courageous scholars have dared to question the story of Jesus. Despite the risks of physical assault, professional ruin and social opprobrium, they have seriously doubted the veracity of the gospel saga, have peeled away the layers of fraud and deceit and eventually have challenged the very existence of the godman.

          Hermann Samuel Reimarus (1694-1768).1778, On the Intention of Jesus and His Teaching. [link] Enlightenment thinker and professor of Oriental languages at the Hamburg Gymnasium, his extensive writings – published after his death – rejected ‘revealed religion’ and argued for a naturalistic deism. Reimarus charged the gospel writers with conscious fraud and innumerable contradictions.

          Francois Marie Arouet (Voltaire) (1694-1778). [link] The most influential figure of the Enlightenment was educated at a Jesuit college yet concluded, “Christianity is the most ridiculous, the most absurd, and bloody religion that has ever infected the world … The true God cannot have been born of a girl, nor died on a gibbet, nor be eaten in a piece of dough.” Imprisoned, exiled, his works banned and burned, Voltaire’s great popularity in revolutionary France assured him a final resting place in the Pantheon in Paris. One story is that religious extremists stole his remains and dumped them in a garbage heap.

          Baron d’Holbach (‘Boulanger’) (1723-1789) Philosopher of the Enlightenment. 1766, Christianity Unveiled, being an examination of the principles and effects of the Chrisian Religion. 1769, Histoire critique de Jésus-Christ (Ecce Homo). Classics from the Age of Reason. Holbach concluded that:

          “Religion is the art of inspiring mankind with an enthusiam which is designed to divert their attention from the evils with which they are overwhelmed by those who govern them.” – Christianity Unveiled, 16.5

          Count Constantine Volney, 1787, Les Ruines; ou, Méditation sur les révolutions des empires (Ruins of Empires). Napoleonic investigator saw for himself evidence of Egyptian precursors of Christianity.

          Edward Evanson, 1792, The Dissonance of the Four Generally Received Evangelists and the Evidence of their Respective Authenticity. English rationalist challenged apostolic authorship of the 4th Gospel and denounced several Pauline epistles as spurious.

          Charles François Dupuis, 1794, Origine de tous les Cultes ou La Religion universelle (The Origin of All Religious Worship) Astral-mythical interpretation of Christianity (and all religion). “A great error is more easily propagated, than a great truth, because it is easier to believe, than to reason, and because people prefer the marvels of romances to the simplicity of history.” Dupuis destroyed most of his own work because of the violent reaction it provoked.

          Thomas Paine, 1795, The Age of Reason. Pamphleteer who made the first call for American independence (Common Sense, 1776; Rights of Man, 1791) Paine poured savage ridicule on the contradictions and atrocities of the Bible. Like many American revolutionaries Paine was a deist:

          “I do not believe in the creed professed by the Jewish church, by the Roman church, by the Greek church, by the Turkish church, by the Protestant church, nor by any church that I know of … Each of those churches accuse the other of unbelief; and for my own part, I disbelieve them all.” – The Age of Reason.

          Robert Taylor, 1828, Syntagma Of The Evidences Of The Christian Religion; 1829, Diegesis. Taylor was imprisoned for declaring mythical origins for Christianity. “The earliest Christians meant the words to be nothing more than a personification of the principle of reason, of goodness, or that principle, be it what it may, which may most benefit mankind in the passage through life.”

          Godfrey Higgins (1771-1834). 1836, Anacalypsis – An Attempt to Draw Aside the Veil of the Saitic Isis; or an Inquiry into the Origin of Languages, Nations and Religions. English pioneer of archaeology and freemason.

          David Friedrich Strauss, 1835, The Life of Jesus Critically Examined. Lutheran vicar-turned-scholar skilfully exposed gospel miracles as myth and in the process reduced Jesus to a man. It cost him his career.

          Bruno Bauer, 1841, Criticism of the Gospel History of the Synoptics. 1877, Christus und die Caesaren. Der Hervorgang des Christentums aus dem romischen Griechentum. (in English translation). The original iconoclast. Bauer contested the authenticity of all the Pauline epistles (in which he saw the influence of Stoic thinkers like Seneca) and identified Philo’s role in emergent Christianity. Bauer rejected the historicity of Jesus himself. “Everything that is known of Jesus belongs to the world of imagination.” As a result in 1842 Bauer was ridiculed and removed from his professorship of New Testament theology at Tübingen.

          Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1841, Essays. One time Trinitarian Christian and former Unitarian minister held Jesus to be a “true prophet” but that organised Christianity was an “eastern monarchy”.”Our Sunday-schools, and churches, and pauper-societies are yokes to the neck.”

          Logan Mitchell, 1842, Christian Mythology Unveiled. 1881, Religion in the Heavens or Mythology Unveiled. “Reigning opinion, however ill-founded and absurd, is always queen of the nations.”

          Ferdinand Christian Baur, 1845, Paulus, der Apostel Jesu Christi. German scholar who identified as “inauthentic” not only the pastoral epistles, but also Colossians, Ephesians, Philemon and Philippians (leaving only the four main Pauline epistles regarded as genuine). Baur was the founder of the so-called “Tübingen School.”

          Charles Bradlaugh, 1860, Who Was Jesus Christ? What Did Jesus Teach? Most famous English atheist of the 19th century, founded the National Secular Society and became an MP, winning the right to affirm. Condemned the teachings of Jesus as dehumanizing passivity and disastrous as practical advice. Bradlaugh denounced the gospel Jesus as a myth.

          Ernest Renan, 1863, Vie de Jésus (Das Leben Jesu / Life of Jesus). Although trained as a Catholic priest Renan was inspired by German biblical criticism and wrote a popular biography of Jesus which cost him his job (which he later regained). Renan concluded that the hero of the Christians was a gifted but merely human preacher, persuaded by his followers into thinking he was the messiah. Renan subsequently wrote a History of the Origins of Christianity in seven volumes.

          Sytze Hoekstra, 1871, Principles and Doctrine of the Early Anabaptists. Scholar of the Radical Dutch school, Hoekstra concluded Mark’s gospel had no value as a biography of Jesus. [link]

          Robert Ingersoll, 1872, The Gods. 1879, Some Mistakes of Moses. Illinois orator extraordinaire, his speeches savaged the Christian religion. “It has always seemed to me that a being coming from another world, with a message of infinite importance to mankind, should at least have verified that message by his own signature. Is it not wonderful that not one word was written by Christ?”

          Walter Cassels, 1874, Supernatural Religion – An Inquiry Concerning the Reality of Divine Revelation

          Kersey Graves, 1875, The World’s Sixteen Crucified Saviours. Pennsylvanian Quaker who saw through to the pagan heart of Christian fabrications, though rarely cited sources for his far-reaching conclusions.

          Allard Pierson, 1879, De Bergrede en andere synoptische Fragmenten. [link] Theologian, art and literature historian who identified The Sermon on the Mount as a collection of aphorisms from Jewish Wisdom literature.The publication of Pierson’s Bergrede was the beginning of Dutch Radical Criticism. Not just the authenticity of all the Pauline epistles but the historical existence of Jesus himself was called into question.

          Bronson C. Keeler, 1881, A Short History of the Bible. A classic exposé of Christian fraud.

          Abraham Dirk Loman, 1882, “Quaestiones Paulinae,” in Theologisch Tijdschrift. Professor of theology at Amsterdam who said all the epistles date from the 2nd century. Loman explained Christianity as a fusion of Jewish and Roman-Hellenic thinking. When he went blind Loman said his blindness gave him insight into the dark history of the church! [link]

          Thomas William Doane, 1882, Bible Myths and their Parallels in Other Religions. Outdated but a classic revelation of pagan antecedents of biblical myths and miracles.

          Samuel Adrianus Naber, 1886, Verisimilia. Laceram conditionem Novi Testamenti exemplis illustrarunt et ab origine repetierunt. Classicist who saw Greek myths hidden within Christian scripture. [link]

          Gerald Massey, 1886, The Historical Jesus and Mythical Christ. 1907, Ancient Egypt-The Light of the World. Another classic from an early nemesis of the priesthood. British Egyptologist wrote six volumes on the religion of ancient Egypt.

          Edwin Johnson, 1887, Antiqua Mater. A Study of Christian Origins. 1894, The Pauline Epistles: Re-studied and Explained. English radical theologian identified the early Christians as the Chrestiani, followers of a good (Chrestus) God who had expropriating the myth of Dionysos Eleutherios (“Dionysos the Emancipator”), to produce a self-sacrificing Godman. Denounced the twelve apostles as complete fabrication.

          Rudolf Steck, 1888, Der Galaterbrief nach seiner Echtheit untersucht nebst kritischen Bemerkungen zu den Paulinischen Hauptbriefen. Radical Swiss scholar branded all the Pauline epistles as fakes.

          Franz Hartman, 1889, The Life of Johoshua: The Prophet of Nazareth.

          Willem Christiaan van Manen, 1896, Paulus. Professor at Leiden and most famous of the Dutch Radicals, a churchman who did not believe in the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ. After resisting the argument for many years van Manen concluded none of the Pauline epistles were genuine and that Acts was dependent on the works of Josephus. [link]

          Joseph McCabe, 1897, Why I Left the Church. 1907, The Bible in Europe: an Inquiry into the Contribution of the Christian Religion to Civilization. 1914, The Sources of the Morality of the Gospels. 1926, The Human Origin of Morals. Franciscan monk-turned-evangelical atheist. McCabe, a prolific writer, shredded many parts of the Christ legend – “There is no ‘figure of Jesus’ in the Gospels. There are a dozen figures” – but he continued to allow the possibility for an historical founder..

          Albert Schweitzer,1901, The Mystery of the Kingdom of God. 1906, The Quest of the Historical Jesus. The famous German theologian and missionary (35 years in the Cameroons) ridiculed the humanitarian Jesus of the liberals and at the same time had the courage to recognize the work of the Dutch Radicals. His own pessimistic conclusion was that the superhero had been an apocalyptic fanatic and that Jesus died a disappointed man. Famously said those looking for an historical Jesus merely “found a reflection of themselves.”

          “The Dutch Radicals did not forget to question, when questioning had gone out of fashion for the rest of theology.” – Geschichte der paulinischen Forschung, 108.

          Wilhelm Wrede, 1901, The Messianic Secret (Das Messiasgeheimnis in den Evangelien). Wrede demonstrated how, in Mark’s gospel, a false history was shaped by early Christian belief.

          Albert Kalthoff, 1902, Das Christus-Problem. 1907, The Rise of Christianity. Another radical German scholar who identified Christianity as a psychosis. Christ was essentially the transcendental principle of the Christian community which aimed at apocalyptic social reform.

          George Robert Stowe Mead, 1901, Apollonius of Tyana, the Philosopher-Reformer of the First Century A.D. 1903, Did Jesus Live 100 BC? 1907, The Gnostic Crucifixion. A discussion of the Jewish Jeschu stories which moves Jesus back to an earlier time.

          Thomas Whittaker, 1904, The Origins of Christianity. Declared that Jesus was a myth, that the Christian movement began only after the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 and that the whole body of New Testament writings date to the second century. How right he was!

          Emilio Bossi/Milesbo 1904, Gesù Cristo non è mai esistito (Jesus Christ Never Existed). Bossi was a radical lawyer/journalist (“Milesbo” being his pen-name). Jesus is a concoction from Tanakh and the mystery cults, and Jesus’s ethics are a patchwork from Philo and Seneca.

          William Benjamin Smith, 1906, Der vorchristliche Jesus. 1911, Die urchristliche Lehre des reingöttlichen Jesus. Argues for origins in a pre-Christian Jesus cult on the island of Cyprus. [link]

          Gerardus Bolland, 1907, De Evangelische Jozua. Philosopher at Leiden identified the origin of Christianity in an earlier Jewish Gnosticism. The New Testament superstar is the Old Testament ‘son of Nun’, the follower renamed Jesus by Moses. The virgin is nothing but a symbol for the people of Israel. From Alexandria the “Netzerim” took their gospel to Palestine.

          In 1907 Pope Pius X condemned the Modernists who were “working within the framework of the Church”. Among those denounced and excommunicated was Alfred Loisy (The Gospel and the Church, 1902), Catholic priest and theologian who made the pithy observation “Jesus announced the Kingdom, and it’s the Church that came.” An anti-Modernist oath was introduced in 1910, as well as the Confession for children – opening the door for rampant abuse.

          Prosper Alfaric (1886-1955) French Professor of Theology, shaken by the stance of Pius X, renounced his faith and left the church in 1909 to work for the cause of rationalism. 1929, Pour Comprendre La Vie De Jésus. 1932, The problem of Jesus and Christian Origins. 2005, Jésus-Christ a-t-il existé? [Jesus: Did he exist?] Alfaric drew attention to Essene antecedents of Christian dogma.

          Peter Jensen, 1909, Moses, Jesus, Paul: Three Variations on the Babylonian Godman Gilgamesh. Orientalist argued that Jesus was reworked Babylonian mythology. [link]

          Mangasar Magurditch Mangasarian, 1909, The Truth About Jesus. Is He a Myth? Erstwhile Presbyterian Minister who saw through the fabrication. “Even in the first centuries the Christians were compelled to resort to forgery to prove the historicity of Jesus.”

          Karl Kautsky, 1909, The Foundations of Christianity. Early socialist interpreted Christianity in terms of class struggle. [link]

          John E. Remsburg, 1909, The Christ: A critical review and analysis of the evidences of His existence. Gospels rife with contradictions. Doubtful that Jesus existed and a supernatural Christ is certainly Christian dogma.

          Arthur Drews, 1910, Die Christusmythe (The Christ Myth). 1910, Die Petruslegende (The Legend of St Peter). 1912, The Witnesses to the Historicity of Jesus. 1924, Die Entstehung des Christentums aus dem Gnostizismus (The Emergence of Christianity from Gnosticism). 1926, The Denial of the Historicity of Jesus. Eminent philosopher was Germany’s greatest exponent of the contention that Christ is a myth. The gospels historized a pre-existing mystical Jesus whose character was drawn from the prophets and Jewish wisdom literature. The Passion was to be found in the speculations of Plato.

          John Robertson, 1910, Christianity and Mythology. 1911, Pagan Christs. Studies in Comparative Hierology. 1917, The Jesus Problem. Robertson drew attention to the universality of many elements of the Jesus storyline and to pre-Christian crucifixion rituals in the ancient world. Identified the original Jesus/Joshua with an ancient Ephraimite deity in the form of a lamb.

          Edouard Dujardin, 1910, The Source of the Christian tradition : a critical history of ancient Judaism. 1938, Ancient History of the God Jesus.

          Gustaaf Adolf van den Bergh van Eysinga, 1908, Examining the Authenticity of the First Epistle of Clement. 1912, Radical Views about the New Testament. 1918, Voorchristelijk Christendom. De vorbereiding van het Evangelie in de Hellenistische wereld. 1930, Does Jesus Live, or Has He Only Lived? 1951, Early Christianity`s Letters. Theologian and last of the Dutch radicals to hold a university professorship.

          Alexander Hislop, 1916, The Two Babylons. Exhaustive exposure of the pagan rituals and paraphernalia of Roman Catholicism.

          Edward Carpenter, 1920, Pagan and Christian Creeds. Elaborated the pagan origins of Christianity.

          Rudolf Bultmann, 1921, The History of the Synoptic Tradition. 1941, Neues Testament und Mythologie. Lutheran theologian and professor at Marburg University Bultman was the exponent of ‘form criticism’ and did much to demythologise the gospels. He identified the narratives of Jesus as theology served up in the language of myth. Bultmann observed that the New Testament was not the story of Jesus but a record of early Christian belief. He argued that the search for an historical Jesus was fruitless: “We can know almost nothing concerning the life and personality of Jesus.” (Jesus and the Word, 8)

          James Frazer, 1922, The Golden Bough. Anthropological interpretation of man’s progress from magic, through religion to science. Christianity a cultural phenomenon.

          Marshall J. Gauvin, 1922, Did Jesus Christ Really Live? Notable speaker in the Freethought movement questioned the very existence of a Jesus figure.

          Paul-Louis Couchoud, 1924, Le mystère de Jesus. 1926, La Première Edition de St. Paul. 1930, Jesus Barabbas. 1939, The Creation of Christ. Couchoud, a polymath, espoused an historical Peter rather than an historical Jesus and argued that the Passion was modelled on the death of Stephen.

          Georg Brandes, 1925, Die Jesus-Sage. 1926, Jesus – A Myth. Danish scholar identified the Revelation of St John as the earliest part of the New Testament.

          Joseph Wheless, 1926, Is It God’s Word? An Exposition of the Fables and Mythology of the Bible and the Fallacies of Theology. 1930, Forgery in Christianity. American attorney, raised in the Bible Belt, shredded the biblical fantasy.

          Henri Delafosse, 1926, L’épître aux Romains.1927, Les Lettres d’Ignace d’Antioche. 1928, “Les e’crits de Saint Paul,” in Christianisme. Epistles of Ignatius denounced as late forgeries.

          L. Gordon Rylands, 1927, The Evolution of Christianity.1935, Did Jesus Ever Live? [link]

          John G. Jackson, 1933, Was Jesus Christ a Negro? 1937, Introduction To African Civilizations. 1941, Pagan Origins of the Christ Myth. 1970 Man, God, and Civilization. 1985, Christianity Before Christ. Most influential Black Atheist drew attention to the Ethiopian and Egyptian precedents of Christian belief. [link]

          Alvin Boyd Kuhn, 1944, Who is this King of Glory? 1949, Shadow of the Third Century. 1970, Rebirth for Christianity. Jesus was never a person, but a symbol of the divine soul in every human being. “We are forced to the conclusion that the Christian religion was born out of a misreading of the cryptic ancient Scriptures, by sincere but unschooled minds.” (Rebirth, 87).

          Herbert Cutner, 1950, Jesus: God, Man, or Myth? Mythical nature of Jesus and a summary of the ongoing debate between mythicists and historicizers. Mythic-only position is continuous tradition, not novel. Pagan origins of Christ.

          Georges Las Vergnas, 1956, Pourquoi j’ai quitté l’Eglise romaine Besançon. 1958, Jésus-Christ a-t-il existé? [link] Vicar general of the diocese of Limoges who lost his faith. Argues that the central figure of Christianity had no historical existence.

          Georges Ory, 1961, An Analysis of Christian Origins. French scholar concluded “Jesus-Christ was not a human Messiah.” [link].

          Guy Fau, 1967, Le Fable de Jesus Christ. [link]

          John Allegro, 1970, The Sacred Mushroom and the Cross. 1979, The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Christian Myth. Jesus was nothing other than a magic mushroom and his life an allegorical interpretation of a drug-induced state. Not jail for Allegro – but professional ruin.

          George Albert Wells, 1971, The Jesus of the Early Christians. 1975, Did Jesus Exist? 1988, The Historical Evidence for Jesus. 1996, The Jesus Legend. 1998, Jesus Myth. 1999, Earliest Christianity. 2004, Can We Trust the New Testament? Thoughts on the Reliability of Early Christian Testimony. 2009, Cutting Jesus Down to Size: What Higher Criticism Has Achieved and Where It Leaves Christianity. Christianity a growth from Jewish Wisdom literature. Wells remains one of the best known advocates of Jesus mythicism though his later books concede the possible influence of a real preacher via the postulated Q document. [link]

          Phyllis Graham, 1974, The Jesus Hoax. The nonexistent godman denounced, this time by one of his former brides – an erstwhile Carmelite nun. [link]

          Jean Magne, 1975, Christian Origins, I-II. 1989, III, IV. Logique des Dogmes, Logic of the Sacraments. 1993, From Christianity to Gnosis and From Gnosis to Christianity: An Itinerary through the Texts to and from the Tree of Paradise.

          Samuel Max Rieser, 1979, The True Founder of Christianity and the Hellenistic Philosophy. Christianity started by Jews of the Diaspora and then retroactively set in pre-70 Palestine. Christianity arrived last, not first, in Palestine – that’s why Christian archeological finds appear in Rome but not in Judea until the 4th century. [link]

          Abelard Reuchlin, 1979, The True Authorship of the New Testament. Conspiracy theory par excellence: Roman aristocrat Arius Calpurnius Piso (aka “Flavius Josephus”, aka “Plutarch”, aka “Manetho”!) conspired to gain control of the Roman Empire by forging an entirely new religion. OMG, really? [link]

          Nikos Vergidis, 1985, Νέρων και Χριστός [Nero and Christ] Greek scholar argues for Christian origins in Rome.

          Karlheinz Deschner, 1986-2004, The Criminal History of Christianity, Volumes 1-8. A leading German critic of religion and the Church. In 1971 Deschner was called before a court in Nuremberg, charged with “insulting the Church.” [link]

          Hermann Detering, 1992, Paulusbriefe ohne Paulus?: Die Paulusbriefe in der Holländischen Radikalkritik (The Pauline Epistles Without Paul). 2012, Der gefälschte Paulus – Das Urchristentum im Zwielicht (The Falsified Paul. Early Christianity in the twilight). German minister in the Dutch radical tradition. No Jesus and no Paul. The latter Detering identifies with the Samaritan sorcerer Simon Magus.

          Gary Courtney, 1992, 2004 Et tu, Judas? Then Fall Jesus! The Passion is essentially Caesar’s fate in Judaic disguise, grafted onto the dying/resurrcting cult of Attis. Jewish fans of Caesar assimilated the sacrificed ‘saviour of mankind’ into the ‘Suffering Servant’ of Isaiah. [link]

          Michael Kalopoulos, 1995, The Great Lie. Greek historian finds strikingly similar parallels between biblical texts and Greek mythology. He exposes the cunning, deceitful and authoritarian nature of religion.

          Gerd Lüdemann, 1998, The Great Deception: And What Jesus Really Said and Did. 2002, Paul: The Founder of Christianity. 2004, The Resurrection Of Christ: A Historical Inquiry. After 25 years of study German professor concluded Paul, not Jesus, started Christianity. Lüdemann was expelled from the theology faculty at the University of Göttingen for daring to say that the Resurrection was “a pious self-deception.” So much for academic freedom. [link]

          Alvar Ellegard, 1999, Jesus One Hundred Years Before Christ. Christianity seen as emerging from the Essene Church of God with the Jesus prototype the Teacher of Righteousness. [link]

          D. Murdock (aka ‘Acharya S’) 1999, The Christ Conspiracy: The Greatest Story Ever Sold. 2004, Suns of God: Krishna, Buddha and Christ Unveiled. 2009, Christ in Egypt. Adds a astro-theological dimension to christ-myth demolition. Murdock identifies JC as a composite deity used to unify the Roman Empire.[link]

          Earl Doherty, 1999, The Jesus Puzzle. Did Christianity Begin with a Mythical Christ? 2009, Jesus: Neither God Nor Man. Powerful statement of how Christianity started as a mystical-revelatory Jewish sect – no Jesus required!. [link]

          Timothy Freke, Peter Gandy, 1999, The Jesus Mysteries. 2001, Jesus and the Lost Goddess : The Secret Teachings of the Original Christians. Examines the close relationship between the Jesus Story and that of Osiris-Dionysus. Jesus and Mary Magdalene mythic figures based on the Pagan Godman and Goddess.

          Harold Liedner, 2000, The Fabrication of the Christ Myth. Anachronisms and geographic errors of the gospels denounced. Jesus a fictional Joshua for a 1st century Judaic cult and Christianity one of history’s most effective frauds. [link]

          Robert Price, 2000, Deconstructing Jesus. 2003 Incredible Shrinking Son of Man: How Reliable Is the Gospel Tradition? 2011, The Christ Myth Theory and its Problems. Ex-minister and accredited scholar shows Jesus to be a fictional amalgam of several 1st century prophets, mystery cult redeemers and gnostic ‘aions’. [link]

          Hal Childs, 2000, The Myth of the Historical Jesus and the Evolution of Consciousness. A psychotherapist take on the godman.[link]

          Michael Hoffman, 2000, Philosopher and theorist of “ego death” who jettisoned an historical Jesus. [link]

          Dennis MacDonald, 2000, The Homeric Epics and the Gospel of Mark. Professor of New Testament studies and Christian origins maps extensive borrowings from the Homeric epics the Iliad and the Odyssey by the authors of the gospel of Mark and Acts of the Apostles. [link]

          Burton Mack, 2001, The Christian Myth: Origins, Logic, and Legacy. Social formation of myth making. [link]

          Luigi Cascioli, 2001, The Fable of Christ. Indicted the Papacy for profiteering from a fraud! [link]

          Israel Finkelstein, Neil Silbermann, 2002, The Bible Unearthed: Archaeology’s New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of Its Sacred Texts. Courageous archaeologists who skillfully proved the sacred foundational stories of Judaism and Christianity are bogus. [link]

          Frank R. Zindler, 2003, The Jesus the Jews Never Knew: Sepher Toldoth Yeshu and the Quest of the Historical Jesus in Jewish Sources. No evidence in Jewish sources for the phantom messiah. [link]

          Daniel Unterbrink, 2004, Judas the Galilean. The Flesh and Blood Jesus. Parallels between the tax rebel of 6 AD and the phantom of the Gospels explored in detail. ‘Judas is Jesus’. Well, part of Jesus, no doubt. [link]

          Tom Harpur, 2005, The Pagan Christ: Recovering the Lost Light. Canadian New Testament scholar and ex-Anglican priest re-states the ideas of Kuhn, Higgins and Massey. Jesus is a myth and all of the essential ideas of Christianity originated in Egypt. [link]

          Francesco Carotta, 2005, Jesus Was Caesar: On the Julian Origin of Christianity. Exhaustive inventory of parallels. Alarmingly, asserts Caesar was Jesus. [link]

          Joseph Atwill, 2005, Caesar’s Messiah: The Roman Conspiracy to Invent Jesus. Another take on the Josephus-Gospel similarities. Atwill argues that the 1st century conquerors of Judaea, Vespasian, Titus and Domitian, used Hellenized Jews to manufacture the “Christian” texts in order to establish a peaceful alternative to militant Judaism. Jesus was Titus Flavius? I don’t think so. [link]

          Michel Onfray, 2005, Traité d’athéologie (2007 In Defence of Atheism) French philosopher argues for a positive atheism, debunking an historical Jesus along the way. [link]

          Kenneth Humphreys, 2005, Jesus Never Existed. Book of this website. Draws together the most convincing expositions for the supposed messianic superhero. The author sets this exegesis within the socio-historical context of an evolving, malevolent religion. [link]

          Jay Raskin, 2006, The Evolution of Christs and Christianities. Academic and erstwhile filmaker Raskin looks beyond the official smokescreen of Eusebius and finds a fragmented Christ movement and a composite Christ figure, crafted from several literary and historical characters. Speculates that the earliest layer of myth-making was a play written by a woman called Mary. Maybe. [link]

          Thomas L. Thompson, 2006, The Messiah Myth. 2012, Is this not the Carpenter? (Ed.). Theologian, university don and historian of the Copenhagen school who concludes Jesus and David are both amalgams of Near Eastern mythological themes originating in the Bronze Age. [link]

          Jan Irvin, Andrew Rutajit, 2006, Astrotheology and Shamanism: Unveiling the Law of Duality in Christianity and other Religions. Explores astrotheology and shamanism and vindicates John Allegro’s work with psychoactive substances. [link]

          Lena Einhorn, What Happened on the Road to Damascus? (2006). Swedish historian and proponent of the theory that Paul was the founder of Christianity and that “Jesus” was actually Paul. [link]

          Roger Viklund, 2008. Den Jesus som aldrig funnits (The Jesus who never existed). A Swedish scholar reaches the same inescapable conclusion: Jesus never existed. [link]

          René Salm, The Myth of Nazareth (2008). Scholar who primarilly focuses on deconstructing the claims for a historical Nazareth – and does so very effectively. [link]

          Thomas Brodie, 2012. Beyond the Quest for the Historical Jesus: A Memoir of a Discovery.. Priest and former director of the Dominican Biblical Centre, Ireland concludes “Jesus did not exist as a historical individual” and is a literary reworking of the account of Elijah and Elisha. [link]

          Richard Carrier, 2012. Proving History: Bayes’s Theorem and the Quest for the Historical Jesus. 2014, On the Historicity of Jesus: Why We Might Have Reason To Doubt. Erstwhile editor of Internet Infidels and activist for atheism argues for the use of Bayes’ Theorem as a way out of the befuddled mess that besets Jesus studies. Carrier establishes that probability favours the non-existence of Jesus. The alternative? A figure first conceive as a celestial being revealed through private revelation and scripture, written into allegory and subsequently misunderstood as a literal truth. In fact, just what mythicists have been saying for years but elegantly and comprehensively presented.[link]

          Raphael Lataster, 2013.There Was No Jesus, There Is No God. Religious studies scholar at the University of Sydney puts his head above the parapet. This former fundamentalist Christian concludes from the spurious evidence, Bayesian reasoning, and rigorous logic that the historical Jesus never existed. [link]

          Sid Martin, 2014, Secret of the Savior. Jesus as a cypher for Israel? Not a new idea but skilfully presented here by Sid Martin, who analyses the gospel of Mark with the thesis that not a man but Jewish history was his source

          Just look at the list of scholars from 1694 to 2014 who have voiced severe doubts as to the historicity of jesus.

        • Greg G.

          Cool list.

        • hammerhead

          I noticed your list only goes back to the 17th century. Yeah – you’re right we should trust those books over 2nd century manuscripts and now a 1st century manuscript of Mark (sarcasm).

        • Greg G.

          Christians were known to kill people for pointing out things like that about the Bible as late as the 16th century.

          EDIT: and burn their writings.

        • kraut2

          At least we know who the author actually was. Not so much with your supposed authors who are not even well documented as having ever existed or the authentic author if they had existed.

        • Greg G.

          Two of the authors were born in the 17th century but they didn’t write until the 18th century.
          Where do we have a first century manuscript of Mark? How do you know the author was Mark? It doesn’t claim to be an eye witness account. We can see that nearly every passage came from the literature of the day. It doesn’t support your claims.

        • hammerhead

          but guess what there is a little field known as archaeology that finds stuff and dates it and guess what we found a fragment of Mark dating to 80 A.D. which the findings are being published sometime this year. Also in this same find was a writing of Aristotle that was yet to be discovered as well.

        • So the results haven’t even been made public for critical analysis, but you’re already confident what the consensus view of historians will be? Gosh, you’re smart. Or maybe you should not jump the gun.

        • hammerhead

          it’s called professionalism Bob it takes time. I’m confident that the Christian professionals who back this fragment up are telling the truth especially in light of the world greatest atheist professional doing the dating!

        • Remember the Gospel of the Wife of Jesus? The consensus turned out not to be what the original scholars thought.

          The question isn’t telling the truth. Wow–you don’t get much, do you?

        • Kodie

          Here’s the catch – you would believe archaeology, a science, if it supported your beliefs, but you think evolution is made up out of thin air and not supported by any evidence. The second catch is that Christians are not known for their respect of science, and have no aversion to distorting scientific findings to support whatever wishful thinking they have to whoever buys what bullshit they’re selling. There are going to be a lot of people using whatever bullshit these “archaeologists” find as “proof” by leaping to conclusions, and a lot of other people have to correct you morons.

        • Greg G.

          This was posted in response to the above but apparently never activated by Disqus:

          hammerhead >kraut2 • 15 hours ago

          it’s really not impressive when you look at the scholars on the other side who far outweigh this list.

          But most these are scholars who began to doubt Jesus’ existence after becoming scholars. Your list is mainly people who were brainwashed about Jesus as children.

        • hammerhead

          again, your making broad claims and shooting in the dark.

          Besides people doubt without having worked to become scholarly. It’s not like scholars own the rites to “doubt” – this is a common theme among humanity.

        • Greg G.

          I sat on the fence for Jesus’ existence for a while because of the poor evidence for his existence. Then I looked deeper at the best evidence for Jesus and realized it was actually evidence that it is all made up by people who thought they had the truth.

          Most people in our culture accept that Jesus was historical based on the opinions of scholars but the scholars have not been able to present a good argument. Usually it’s based on the fact that went to college to learn ancient languages. Most of the scholars who believe in the historical Jesus also believe in the miracles.

        • hammerhead

          so essentially you agree with Bob Price who is an island in his “field” – oh and Bob Ciderdrinker

        • What are we talking about? The Christ Myth theory? We’re not talking about the Christ Myth Theory.

        • hammerhead

          do you believe Christ existed? Why did you have Bob Price write an endorsement for your book?

        • I’m happy to start with the hypothesis that Jesus existed. I am no expert in the Christ myth theory.

        • hammerhead

          yet you find Bob Price’s endorsement a good one?

        • I’ll type slower so you can understand better: I’m not talking about the Christ Myth theory. I’m happy to assume that Jeebus existed.

          Your meaningless and hurtful comments about the kiss marks on my photo of Bob Price are irrelevant.

        • Greg G.

          I agree with Price about some things and I disagree with him on other things. I don’t just click “I agree” like you do.

          New Testament Narrative as Old Testament Midrash by Robert M. Price collects information from many scholars, Jesus mythicists and historicists alike, that shows Mark is not based on actual events about Jesus. Read it, if you can, and show us which of the scholars are wrong. Don’t just click “I disagree”.

        • TheNuszAbides

          whew! definitely borrowing that one.

        • The Bart Ehrman? You mean Pope Bart I?

          Well, of course, if he says it, it must be so.

          k2 can defend his position ably, I’m sure. In my case, the Christ Myth theory is an unhelpful tangent. I simply argue that the stories of Jesus are legend.

        • Pofarmer

          Yeah, unfortunately it wasn’t that convincing.

        • Greg G.

          You’re in the same camp as Bill Maher.

          Who but you and stnwljksn think of Bill Maher as a boy scout?

          stnwljksn adam • a day ago

          so, you ARE in the Bill Maher camp. That’s not a good place to be adam – in fact no respectable scholar event atheists, agnostics and skeptics (professionals mind you) would argue that Jesus Christ is not a historical figure.

          stnwljksn Kodie • a day ago

          are in in the Bill Maher camp or not?

    • Greg G.

      John the Baptist died because the ruler’s wife didn’t like him saying there was something wrong with their marriage. It had nothing to do with Jesus, if you believe the Bible.

      • hammerhead

        your wrong. If you understand history you’ll know that the Herodians were a political regime and saw John the Baptist and eventually Jesus Christ’s growing support as a threat. John the Baptist was killed for threatening the Herodian dynasty and his death took place because of his loyalty to Christ.

        • Greg G.

          Mark 6:17-29
          17 For Herod himself had sent men who arrested John, bound him, and put him in prison on account of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, because Herod had married her. 18 For John had been telling Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” 19 And Herodias had a grudge against him, and wanted to kill him. But she could not, 20 for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and he protected him. When he heard him, he was greatly perplexed; and yet he liked to listen to him. 21 But an opportunity came when Herod on his birthday gave a banquet for his courtiers and officers and for the leaders of Galilee. 22 When his daughter Herodias came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his guests; and the king said to the girl, “Ask me for whatever you wish, and I will give it.” 23 And he solemnly swore to her, “Whatever you ask me, I will give you, even half of my kingdom.” 24 She went out and said to her mother, “What should I ask for?” She replied, “The head of John the baptizer.” 25 Immediately she rushed back to the king and requested, “I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter.” 26 The king was deeply grieved; yet out of regard for his oaths and for the guests, he did not want to refuse her. 27 Immediately the king sent a soldier of the guard with orders to bring John’s head. He went and beheaded him in the prison, 28 brought his head on a platter, and gave it to the girl. Then the girl gave it to her mother. 29 When his disciples heard about it, they came and took his body, and laid it in a tomb.

          There is nothing about Jesus having anything to do with it.

          The next time you change your Disqus name, you should use “NeverBenWright”

        • adam

          So it was just pure POLITICS…

        • Greg G.

          There was a response from you but Disqus said it was not active and would not allow me to reply. When I refreshed the page, the post was no there. I will post here anyway.

          Of course, I did. Luke 1:41 has John the Baptist recognizing Jesus (they were supposed to be cousins) when they were both in the womb but Luke 7:18-20 sends messengers from prison to ask if Jesus os the One.

          Mark and Matthew have John the Baptist baptizing Jesus but Luke has John arrested before Jesus gets baptized. He must have done it himself.

          How can you believe this stuff? Haven’t you read it for comprehension?

        • Pofarmer

          “Haven’t you read it for comprehension?”

          Rhetorical question?

        • Greg G.

          I used a four syllable word when addressing him. What was I thinking?

        • Greg G.

          This was posted in response to the above but apparently never activated by Disqus:

          hammerhead >• 15 hours ago

          ancient writers were not as concerned about chronology as modern historians are.

          But when it says JtB was arrested is the sentence before it says Jesus was baptized, it is meant to emphasize the point.

          Luke 3:19-20
          19 But Herod the ruler, who had been rebuked by him because of Herodias, his brother’s wife, and because of all the evil things that Herod had done, 20 added to them all by shutting up John in prison.

          Luke 3:21
          21 Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heaven was opened,

          Luke was making a theological point.

        • hammerhead

          I’m amazed at how you can’t read.

          It says “Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus ALSO HAD BEEN BAPTIZED and was praying, the heaven was opened,”

          In other words PAST TENSE! He never says John didn’t baptize him

          Notice how in verse 18 he begins with “So…” as in “I just finished telling you what happened now let me break by saying this, this and this”. It’s simply a break in the chronology but it doesn’t negate the events themselves.

        • Greg G.

          I’m amazed at how you can’t read.

          It says “Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus ALSO HAD BEEN BAPTIZED and was praying, the heaven was opened,”

          In other words PAST TENSE! He never says John didn’t baptize him

          Of course, it is in the past tense. Most, and I would expect all, of the narrative is. Do you understand why it is in the past tense?

          Luke doesn’t say that John baptized Jesus but he is going out of his way to imply that John didn’t without directly contradicting Mark. It appears to have been a contentious issue at the time.

          Mark, Matthew, and Luke say that John’s baptism was “for the forgiveness of sins”. Why would Jesus need forgiveness of sins?

          Notice how in verse 18 he begins with “So…” as in “I just finished telling you what happened now let me break by saying this, this and this”. It’s simply a break in the chronology but it doesn’t negate the events themselves.

          Luke 3:2-6 follows Mark 1:2-6. Luke 3:7-9 follows Matthew 3:7-10. Luke 3:10-14 goes off on a tangent. Luke 3:15-18 follows Mark 1:7-8. Luke 3:19-20 jumps to Mark 6:17-18 with additions. Luke 3:21 sort of follows Mark 1:9 except he explicitly leaves out JtB doing the baptism. Luke 3:22 then follows Mark 1:10-11.

          So, Luke adds material to Mark’s story but follows it closely except for pulling in some from Mark 6. The one thing that Luke changes from Mark 1 in the sequence is he leaves out John baptizing and strategically inserts the arrest just before it.

        • TheNuszAbides

          i never heard of an ordinary layman reading any of it for ‘comprehension’ – just good vibes and/or reinforcement.

        • Greg G.

          I was taught to read it and listen for “God speaking to my heart” while using the KJV. That pretty much prevented comprehension until I got to Isaiah 45:7 where God creates evil.

      • What of part of the John the B death story is from the gospels and what from Josephus? I thought that part was from Josephus.

        • Greg G.

          It was Mark 6:17-29.

          EDITED

    • You act as if the Heaven’s Gate people and 9/11 hijackers were selfish, while the followers of Jesus were not. Seems to me that the followers of Jesus were promised a jackpot as well.

      Jesus being who he said he was vs. dying for the truth are two very different things. I don’t see much connection.

      • hammerhead

        the followers of Christ were promised everything BEFORE they gave their lives. This is a crucial difference between the 9/11 hijackers, the heavens gate cult and the 5 individuals I gave as authentic historical martyrs. In other words, the first group (9/11 hijackers, etc.) had to die to GET what they were promised. The second group already POSSESSED what was promised to them before they died for their proclamation of Christ as Lord.

        • I’m pretty sure that heaven is something you only get after you die. Just like the Muslims’ 72 virgins.

        • hammerhead

          in one sense yes in another sense that’s incorrect.

          the reason for the Christian desiring Heaven is God himself and nothing else

          the reason for the Muslim desiring Heaven is to get 72 virgins

          and the 5 men I gave as examples were actually witnesses to Jesus Christ being God

        • you gotta die to get the jackpot. That’s just how these unsubstantiated claims work. If you’re talking about a good feeling in the here and now, yes that exists, but the other guys have it just like you do.

          Again: your last sentence needs beaucoup substantiation.

        • hammerhead

          so does abiogenesis and macro evolution Bob what don’t you get about that? You have faith that that is the correct position do you not?

        • RichardSRussell

          Nope. What he has is not faith but confidence. I explain the distinction here and here.

        • hammerhead

          man you are brilliant Richard.

          This is simply a word game and you know it

        • RichardSRussell

          Nope. It’s a meaning game. Words are simply the labels for the underlying ideas.

          As an aficionado of science, I’m all into using precise terminology to convey precise meanings. As a religionist, you’re all into making them as muddled and mooshed together as possible, the better to conflate the miserable excuse for decision-making known as “faith” with some superior method of arriving at conclusions (IE, pretty much anything else).

        • Kodie

          For a dummy like you who can’t understand the difference, you are an easy mark for the bullshit of Christianity. How much money have you given them so far?

        • hammerhead

          man you are brilliant Richard.

          This is simply a word game and you know it

        • Wrong again. I have no faith.

          Instead, I trust in science. It has an excellent track record. Doesn’t mean that it never has to backtrack, of course, but it delivers a lot more than religion. (But I think I’m repeating myself, aren’t I?)

        • Is evolution wrong? Could be. But you know how we’re going to know? Science will tell us.

        • hammerhead

          how can you be so sure – what if it doesn’t?

          besides, scientists already admit there was an absolute beginning to the universe this is why Stephen Hawking invented his theory of imaginary time to get around the necessity for a creator (even though this very theory is laughed at by his colleagues).

          So, now that we’re absolutely sure there was a beginning (just as Genesis states) your logic is that science will eventually confirm that no outside agent caused it to come into being?

          wow that takes a ton of faith – way more than Christianity

        • What if it doesn’t what?

          You really need to read more broadly than AiG and the Disco Institute.

          What’s troubling about a beginning to the universe?

          your logic is that science will eventually confirm that no outside agent caused it to come into being?

          God damn–can’t you ever propose something the way I’d actually phrase it? Science may show that … or it may not. That’s how science works. Neither one supports your position. Christianity has taught us bupkis about reality.

        • hammerhead

          are a fool – what is western civilization based on Bob?

        • TheNuszAbides

          no doubt your pitiful imagination pictures the definitions of ‘western’ and ‘civilization’ and the answer to your bad-faith question as sublimely simple and straightforward things.

        • RichardSRussell

          My favorite story about that particular promise was that, one day in Paradise, another fervent suicide bomber showed up, somewhat the worse for wear, and Mohammed greeted him especially effusively. Leading him to the door of a huge room with 71 other guys of about the same age and type milling around in it, he announced in a loud voice “OK, guys, I promised you all 72 virgins, and here’s the last one. Go to it!”

    • RichardSRussell

      We know from Scripture …

      Interesting perversion of the word “know”.

      • hammerhead

        so the oldest most accurate ancient manuscripts on the planet mean nothing to you?

        Do you think we know a lot of accurate information about Alexander the Great? How about Aristotle?

        • Greg G.

          A “manuscript” is an actual piece of paper. We have none that are less than a few hundred years after the alleged events. We don’t know who the author is. Many of the assumptions made by the early church fathers were wrong.

          We know that some of the information about those people is not accurate for the same reasons we know the Bible is not accurate. The supernatural claims are exaggerations and allegory.

        • What I find intriguing is the idea that there are scraps of paper that no one can match to existing NT documents that actually are first or early second century copies but simply represent a NT gospel or epistle tradition that has died out.

        • Greg G.

          It’s the old “early diversification, later standardization” trick. The early Christians seem to have been more diverse than the 40K denominations we have now.

        • If it turns out that the miracles attributed to Alexander didn’t really happen, no one cares. Indeed, historians have already rejected them, and no one cares.

          Alexander is exactly the Alexander of history without the miracle claims. Jesus is nothing without his.

          See the difference?

        • hammerhead

          unless miracles really do happen. Again, are you smarter than the ancients?

  • MichaelNewsham

    Matthew Ferguson has a good summary of the various claims to martyrdom of the disciples:
    March to Martyrdom

    https://adversusapologetica.wordpress.com/2012/12/18/48/

  • Greg G.

    Bartholomew was first beaten, then skinned alive, then crucified under water, and then beheaded.

    Simon the Zealot had one half crucified in Samaria and one half martyred in Georgia after being sawn asunder in Persia.

    Apologetics is so easy a child could do it.

    • hammerhead

      again, no credible Christian apologist would defend the historicity of those accounts that’s why I gave you the five others.

      nice try though

      • Kodie

        What is a “credible Christian apologist”? I’m unfamiliar.

        • hammerhead

          are you being sarcastic or sincere?

        • Greg G.

          No, really. Adding “credible” to “Christian apologist” turns a moron into an oxymoron.

        • hammerhead

          you mean like homosexual marriage?

        • Kodie

          Apologetics is the creative art of taking something that doesn’t make sense and making up a story so it can fool gullible people into still thinking it’s true.

        • hammerhead

          like atheism or macro evolution?

        • Kodie

          Yes Christian apologists make up a lot of lies about atheism and “macro” evolution, so your myths will still seem credible to dummies like you.

        • Greg G.

          No, more like political spin. Atheism and science come from critical thinking. Apologetics is the opposite of critical thinking.

        • MNb

          I am sincere. I have read several christian apologists, including doctoral theses, and no single one is credible.

        • hammerhead

          who did you read?

        • MNb

          Craig, Plantinga, Haught, Feser, Rutten, Riemersma and Erik Buis (not sure about the spelling). Also I’m familiar with the IDiots from Seattle plus the creacrappers Ol’ Hambo, the Ayatollah of the Appalachian and my all time favourite, the Good Rev David Rives from ao WorldNetDaily. Finally I know some arguments of that dombo Sewell and of course have seen the famous banana video of Ray Comfort.

        • hammerhead

          you didn’t find Plantinga to be any good?

        • RichardSRussell

          I know where you’re coming from. For the last quarter-century or so, I’ve undertaken as a personal project to see every science-fiction and fantasy movie that hits town, usually on opening day, so I can quickly review them on a couple of local SF mailing lists. Since I see all of them, I have a pretty good sense of the range of quality. When someone says that a so-so flik was “bad”, I usually reply, “Man, you have no idea!”

          So I see the truly awful shit partly in order to warn my friends away from it. I see it so they don’t have to.

          And I thank you for your much greater sacrifice.

        • hammerhead

          again, you are brilliant Richard. Do you teach calculus?

        • RichardSRussell

          Not any more. Retired.

        • hammerhead

          again, you are brilliant Richard. Do you teach calculus?

      • Greg G.

        Did you give a reason to think those are any better? Of course, you can’t.

        • hammerhead

          It’s obvious Greg – the manuscript attestation is solid. No other ancient writing compares. There isn’t even a close second.

        • Sure, let’s say that it’s the best. That’s hardly a reason to accept its incredible claims.

        • hammerhead

          Most of the world has reported miraculous events for millennia. Do you have an evolutionist mindset about the human mind, i.e. your more evolved than our predecessors?

        • MNb

          Typically ignorant creacrap. “More evolved” is a meaningless expression, only used by prejudiced folks like you. Evolution Theory does not contain a standard the measure “the amount of evolution”, so is not interested in “more evolved” and “less evolved”.
          You just have shown you don’t know what you’re talking about and that you reject science.

        • hammerhead

          right because I’m so ignorant I forgot I’m not able to ascend to your level of understanding in the world around me

        • MNb

          Finally you write something sensible, though it’s by far not a compliment for me. If you tried even a bit to use your brain cells you would have reached my level of understanding in the world around us in very short time.

        • hammerhead

          is it difficult for you to recognize something so obvious as the human brain not being the product of random mutations or natural selection?

        • MNb

          Is it difficult for you to recognize something so obvious as the human brain being the product of random mutations and natural selection?
          Typical that you’re not even capable of getting that one right.

        • hammerhead

          here we have an open denial of the completely obvious what a shame

        • MNb

          Indeed – you openly deny the completely obvious and hence are a shame.

        • hammerhead

          what a shame you cannot connect thoughts and sentences

        • MNb

          What a shame – you project your own failures on others and aren’t capable of recognizing sarcasm.

        • hammerhead

          so if i said a computer is designed and a brain is also designed that is a projection of my failures?

        • Kodie

          It is a projection of your mom’s failures.

        • I know you are, but what am I?

          Oh–what a minute. That was your line. Sorry.

          When you’re on probation, you should work to keep the quality of your comments high. Wasting time on schoolyard taunts doesn’t improve your batting average.

        • It’s completely obvious that evolution is bullshit? Must be cool to be as smart as you to figure out the correct science from the crap. I certainly can’t.

        • RichardSRussell

          There’s an abundance of visual evidence and plenty of common sense to support the “obvious” fact that the world is flat and the sun goes around it. In fact, the Christian church used to burn people alive for daring to suggest otherwise.

          That’s why I’m happier with science than so-called “common sense” about the “obvious”. I can’t remember ever hearing about biologists (or even cartoonists) wanting to burn evolution deniers at the stake.

        • hammerhead

          that’s interesting because the Bible claims the earth is a sphere long before any “scientist” discovered it

        • Isaiah claims that the earth is a disk. Big difference.

        • hammerhead

          try circle

        • Yes, that’s another translation. Either way, you lose.

          Later in Isaiah, the word “ball” is used. A circle/disk and a sphere are two very different words. They had words for both. They did not say that the earth is a sphere.

        • My bad–it was earlier in Isaiah when the word “ball” was used: Is. 22:18 (“He will wind you up tightly into a
          ball and throw you into a wide, open land”).

        • Kodie

          “Completely obvious” is a marketing term used by apologists so they don’t have to explain things to you that they don’t even understand. They are the ones in denial and evolutionists are the ones with evidence.

        • Kodie

          Where is your persuasive evidence that you even have a human brain?

        • You’re an evolution denier. Connect the dots yourself.

        • RichardSRussell

          Ignorance is curable.
          Stupidity is forever.

        • hammerhead

          than I guess your stuck aren’t you?

        • nell2

          Then not than
          You’re not your

        • hammerhead

          not really worried about punctuation since I’m not being graded on it

        • nell2

          Punctuation? Misplaced commas, periods and semi-colons are errors of punctuation.

          Your inability to express your ideas, as simplistic and unsophisticated as they are, in accordance with the basic rules of English grammar and syntax are what allow me to dismiss them out of hand.

        • Kodie

          You don’t know the difference between evolution and education, probably a common mistake among the uneducated, but the good news is there’s a cure for that.

        • My brain isn’t more evolved; Western society has the benefit of modern science. Science actually does explain reality. Not so religion.

        • hammerhead

          Science explains some things but quite a lot of it is conjecture. Macro evolution is pure conjecture which there is no absolute evidence for. No creature has ever macro evolved in history. However, it’s convenient for the naturalistic mindset because it cannot be observed.

        • Seriously, bro: riding the evolution-denialist hobby horse makes you look like a fucking idiot. But, whatever–it’s your life.

          To your first point, yes, science doesn’t explain everything. Contrast that with religion, which doesn’t explain anything. I think I’ll stick with science.

        • RichardSRussell

          Begging to differ here, Bob. Religion explains everything. Here, for example:

          Q: What’s 2+3?
          A: God did it.

          See how well they’ve got everything covered?

        • hammerhead

          what a moron. Absolutely nobody is saying this

        • Kodie

          You’re as much of a moron for denying evolution because your cult lies to you as you would be for not saying the answer is ‘5’. You literally are saying this every time you post.

        • That sound of silence is my lack of a rebuttal.

        • hammerhead

          assuming you had one that is

        • hammerhead

          Now you sound like one your inconsistent kin Richard Dawkins

          (english accent)
          “Religion flies planes into buildings but science flies rockets to the moon”

          (loud applause from the audience for Dawkins)

          accept here is the problem Bob

          (in a whisper)

          if you’re just dancing to you’re DNA your view isn’t any more rational than the Christians

        • Because everyone comes to the same conclusion? I’m not getting it.

        • Kodie

          Are you still trying to convince people you’re not stnwljksn? Because you’re actually not a terrible liar, you’re an egregiously obvious liar.

          How do you even try to draw a line between DNA and reading?

        • TheNuszAbides

          you use the phrase ‘absolute evidence’ as though it (even if we skip the part where it’s an incomplete idea) is something that has ever actually existed for anything…

        • hammerhead

          actually on a related matter would you consider the fictional writing of the present day to be of a higher caliber than say in Shakespears day?

        • Kodie

          It’s not related at all, and no. You know your writing makes literate people’s eyes bleed, right? So no.

        • Greg G.

          Each of the ancient sects would claim an apostolic succession to show that their group was legitimate. When one sect adopted the Greek ideal of the noble death that their favorite apostle experienced, the next sect would try to top it.

          That is the sort of thing that puts everything else in ancient literature a distant second in the category of unreliability. You are just clicking “I agree” on those records, too.

        • MNb

          Manuscript attestation of miraculous events is not solid at all.

      • So which apostles died defending the truth of the Jesus story?

        • hammerhead

          the five that I gave are credible to history.

          John the Baptist
          James the brother of John
          Stephen
          the Apostle Paul
          the Apostle Peter (his was prophesied about in the Gospels)

        • Pick one. Show how historians (not theologians) generally accept their martyrdom as history–not just one or two.

        • hammerhead

          okay

          Tertullian writing around 200 AD reports the martyrdoms of Peter and Paul

          Josephus attest to the martyrdom of James the brother of John (also Hegesippus and Clement)

        • So then that’s what you’ve got. That’s your best shot; that’s your final answer?

          Tertullian says that 150 years earlier, he’s, like totally sure that Peter and Paul were martyred? Color me unconvinced. And tell me what the charge was that Peter and Paul were found guilty of.

        • hammerhead

          these are just examples Bob.

          By the way how much evidence is needed to prove something? I’m just curious from your vantage point?

        • Kodie

          Of course someone like you also doesn’t know the difference between quantity and quality.

  • Yonah

    Bonhoeffer.

    • Greg G.

      Bonhoeffer wasn’t even born in the first century.

      • MNb

        Man, have you lowered your level. You are so obsessed by your favourite pseudoscience that you’re not even capable anymore of recognizing Yonah’s point. When Bonhöffer was born is irrelevant. His point is that he died a cruel dead for his belief system. It’s a questionable point, but you haven’t even begun to address it.

      • Yonah

        And, now. Christians in Nigeria, Iraq, Syria.

        Empirical observation. Methods which White Supremacists use to deny the Holocaust employed in another context.

        Recently, a notable rabbi asked “Are Christians the new Jews?”…referring to the current Christian genocides in Africa and the Middle East.

        • smrnda

          Though any people being killed for their religious beliefs or ethnic/cultural membership bothers me, it doesn’t necessarily mean that their beliefs are correct. The reason is that, at any point in time on planet earth, people with conflicting beliefs will end up being persecuted in different places. Buddhists have been rather nasty to Muslims in Myanmar recently. I definitely find this persecution alarming, but I still have no reason to believe Islam is true.

        • Yonah

          But, Bob is not alarmed at the persecution. He denies the persecution in order to deny the persecuted. It’s a form of persecution.

        • smrnda

          So far, I haven’t seen Bob write anything specifically about current religious persecution going on – his blog doesn’t focus on current events quite as much as others on patheos. His argument seems to be that early stories of Christian persecution, including the deaths of the apostles, are unreliable and possibly exaggerated. This means that ‘we have proof of the resurrection because people died who were in a position to know whether or not it really happened’ is called into question.

          It would be really shitty to say ‘no, nobody in the Middle East has died for being a Christian.’ Not just shitty, but false. But ‘we do not have reliable evidence that the original 12 apostles were really martyred’ is a much different thing.

          For me, I try to separate people being persecuted for their religious beliefs from the issue of whether or not those beliefs are true, since I don’t want to suggest that my support for anyone is contingent on me being persuaded they were right.

        • Yonah

          I prefer your ethic to one which seeks to combat a group’s aspiration to ascendency/recovery/resurrection by denying that the group ever had a reason for such an aspiration. Such is the business of holocaust denial…claim that the holocaust was exaggerated.

          A new Holocaust movie “Night Will Fall” is coming out. It is made of documentary footage never seen before. Alfred Hitchcock had a hand in the original filming. His direction was that the photography be clear and very detailed…very long and wide shots in order to document the expanse of the genocide. Hitchcock foresaw the holocaust denial business. Unfortunately, Hitchcock did not have his camera and his eye in the first century, and now in the 21st century, not even very clear footage of Eric Garner being killed by police is good enough “evidence.”

          Bob always goes cheap. So what. He indicted a genre of literature termed hagiography. Robert Eisenman does better. He, a Jew, does not buy the NT, but his assertion is that the early Christian movement was a Jewish national movement, hence, up to its eyeballs in martyrdom…chief among which was the martyrdom of James. Scholars like Eisenman don’t go cheap like Bob, but look to Jewish, Roman, and non mainstream early Christian texts; linguistics, and archaeology as sources of “evidence”. No, doubt, Bob denys the crucifixion of Jesus and the martyrdoms of Peter and Paul…if there were film, Jesus, Peter and Paul would get the Fox News Eric Garner video analysis.

          I don’t agree with the extent that Eisenman takes his methodology…he gets very very speculative from his evidence. But, his method can be of use generally in considering the weight of non-hagiograhpic texts, for examples epistles (1st century emails) where the persecutions in question are mentioned in passing. We see this in Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians. The purpose of the letter is to correct the Corinthian congregation on their infighting and fractionalism…much of it born of people trying to one-up each other intellectually (like on Patheos) and Paul gives them the anti-wisdom sermon in chapter 2 where Paul gets mega blunt and blurts that he don’t know nuthin but “Jesus Christ and him crucified.” In the same way the first epistle of Clement to the Corinthians writes about the same issue…nothing has gotten better with the church, in fact worse, and so Clement warns them about the results of envy and jealousy…Clement alludes to the recent martyrdom of Peter and Paul in Rome as a primary example. While we can all understand that this will not pass the Fox News test for Bob, still, I think most reasonable people will conclude there is sufficient historical reason for people to assume that Clement wasn’t making up a fact he alluded to in passing in the task of trying to stop infighting within a congregation.

          It occurs to me what wisdom exists in the Orthodox Christian liturgical calendar. Every service is dedicated to the memory of specific and various martyrs. Like Hitchcock, the Orthodox Church foresaw the holocaust denial business.

        • MNb

          “His argument seems to be that early stories of Christian persecution, including the deaths of the apostles, are unreliable and possibly exaggerated.”
          Yeah, but it doesn’t follow that it didn’t happen. As long as there is no evidence for other deaths the apostles died and BobS claims to follow the evidence he has to accept that they were executed indeed. The probability might not be high, but is still higher than for any other way they died.

          “This means that ‘we have proof of the resurrection because people died who were in a position to know whether or not it really happened’ is called into question.”
          That’s a non-sequitur. If they were crucified it’s not evidence by any means for the Resurrection. Then if they weren’t crucified it’s not evidence for the opposite either.

          ‘we do not have reliable evidence that the original 12 apostles were really martyred’ is a much different thing.’
          Not that different. Fact remains that christians died for their belief, so there is little reason to dispute that the apostles did. The alternative is maintaining that the apostles were frauds. That means descending into conspiracy theories. The reasonable position is that the apostles believed in the Resurrection. And that’s quite different from saying that it actually happened, like you write yourself in your last paragraph.

        • Greg G.

          Yeah, but it doesn’t follow that it didn’t happen. As long as there is no evidence for other deaths the apostles died and BobS claims to follow the evidence he has to accept that they were executed indeed. The probability might not be high, but is still higher than for any other way they died.

          If we had one account each for the martyrdom of a few of the apostles, I would agree. Instead we have accounts for all but one of the original apostles and several secondary apostles. We have multiple accounts of martyrdom for some. We have some bizarre, ridiculous stories such as milk coming out of Paul’s neck when he was beheaded. The evidence points in the direction that martyrdom accounts are a genre of fiction. Even otherwise plausible accounts are dragged into the mix. Some may well be true. Taken individually, a singular account raises the likelihood for that being the cause of death for that person but, collectively, it reduces the likelihood for that cause of death for each case.

        • MNb

          “He denies the persecution in order to deny the persecuted.”
          Either you’re a liar or you lack reading comprehension skills. BobS denies nothing regarding christians being persecuted in the 21st Century, because he writes exactly zilch about the subject. If you want to read about it you should find yourself another blog.

        • Yonah

          All my comment stands erect.

          Perhaps someone should ban me in the Holy Name of Charlie Hebdo.

        • Dys

          Your comments are a strawman of your own invention. They only stand erect until you blow them over. So climb down off your cross, and concentrate a bit more on reading comprehension. The entire point of the post is that dying for one’s beliefs doesn’t make those beliefs true. It doesn’t deny that people are sometimes persecuted for those beliefs regardless.

          I don’t see anyone denying that Christians are being persecuted in the world today (and this post doesn’t address them). Generally speaking, when the claim that Christians aren’t being persecuted is being made in modern times, it’s in reference to the US, where Christians have mistaken having the special privileges their religion has enjoyed rescinded as persecution.

          Perhaps you should concentrate less on being banned, and more on making an argument that holds water.

        • Greg G.

          There are billions of things Bob has never discussed on this blog. It’s about whether Christianity was ever true. There are several Pathos atheist blogs that talk about current events. This happens to be one that focuses on other topics.

          There are food blogs where you can talk food. There are gardening blogs. There are sports blogs where they don’t often talk about food or gardening.

          If we want to talk about current events, we go to The Friendly Atheist or WWJTD. If you want to talk about things the followers of this blog want to talk about here, fine. If nobody wants to discuss it, go to a blog where your topic is relevant.

          Suggesting a moderator bans you is not a brilliant move.

        • Kodie

          Another common mistake Christians often make is that they think they’re being provocative and controversial, but they’re really just off-topic. And Christians love to think if we don’t talk about what they want to talk about, that we’re avoiding something that makes us uncomfortable, when all we’re doing is just sticking to the topic. Whether or not there are martyrs or persecuted people anywhere today, regardless of what they believe (including Christianity) does not even bear a little on whether these supposed eye-witnesses martyred themselves over a fact they witnessed, or a fiction/legend/rumor as those today do, or if the whole thing was largely fictionalized and built up over retelling it, so the story we have now is bunk.

          The question “who would die for a lie?” only supposes one thing, and that is the apostles were there and had a specific vantage point to know that it was all true. It assumes they martyred themselves, and it assumes they wouldn’t have done so since they were there and if it wasn’t true, they’d easily deny it. We’re concentrating on that – whether they were there, and whether they were martyred over it or potentially, like you, were just making some sort of ordinary trouble that they deludedly perceived as persecution for their beliefs.

        • MNb

          “All my comment stands erect.”
          You’re carefully missing the point, apparently because not only your comment stands erect, given your desire to get banned and feel persecuted yourself.

        • Yonah

          Did MLK die for a lie?

        • Kodie

          You’re asking to get banned for a lie!

        • Yonah

          Here, kitty, kitty, kitty

          Here, kitty, kitty, kitty

        • Kodie

          You’re really making it worth your while, aren’t you.

        • MNb

          Did SSers die for a lie at the Eastern Front?
          And above all – if no, how does that show that christianity/nazism is true?

        • Kodie

          Where are you coming up with this stuff?

        • MNb

          So what? Because christians now are persecuted Jesus was the Son of God 2000 years ago?
          If that’s not what you (meant to) write your empirical observations (btw – what does non-empirical observation mean?) are totally irrelevant for the point that BobS makes: “Who Would Die for a Lie?” is a failing argument.

  • Trent Horn

    Bob – Why didn’t you mention Clement and Polycarp’s testimonies about Peter and Paul being martyred? They are late first and early second century works. What about Josephus’ testimony of James “The brother of Jesus called Christ” being stoned to death which is also late first century? What about the testimony from Acts that describes the Church’s persecution and Paul’s admission of such a persecution in his own letters? What about Pliny’s letter to Trajan that described how Christians were tortured and executed by the state, which is also early second century. Your post has glossed over very important historical sources that justify the non-extraordinary claim that at least some of the apostle’s were persecuted and martyred because of their proclamation of the Christian faith.

    • Some of those are already there. As for Pliny the Younger, I’m not talking about general persecution but the specific deaths of the disciples.

      The nice thing about Hippolytus is that his is the first source that covers them all, and he seems to have been cited by many Christian apologists.

      How do Clement or Polycarp help? Sure, they’ll bring the time gap down, but you’re still looking at a century. Are you saying that a century of oral history is reliable?

      I see very little on which to base the claim that even a single disciple was martyred. Yes, there is evidence that makes that claim, but it’s quite weak.

      • RichardSRussell

        As Jim Hightower, the Texas Twain, has noted, “I’ll believe that corporations are people when Texas executes one.”

      • hammerhead

        there was a WWII vet who wrote his memories in the 90’s almost 50 years after the events – does that make his testimony less credible?

        • (1) Yeah, obviously. Read some of the posts here about fallible human memory.

          (2) We’re not talking about that. We’re talking about decades of oral history and then a non-eyewitness writing down the gospel story.

        • hammerhead

          so it PROVES his memory is bad?

          secondly, do you not understand the credibility of oral tradition?

        • No one gets an erection about proof around here except you. No, it doesn’t prove him wrong.

          You want to show us that the gospels are accurate? You have the burden of proof.

          secondly, no, I don’t understand the credibility of oral tradition. Yes, I’ve certainly read breathless claims about how the folks back then could memorize stuff. Which is off topic. The gossip fence is the obvious way the gospel story was passed. It was a cool story; it got passed from person to person, picking up lint as it traveled. You say that this obvious naturalistic explanation of the miraculous story isn’t correct? The burden of proof is on your broad shoulders.

        • hammerhead

          the gossip fence – please, Bob you can do better than that

          so, the 1st century Christians essentially propagated the National Enquirer

          you really do love Bob Price!

        • Kodie

          Do you have anything intelligent to say yet?

        • smrnda

          Actually, plenty of people’s recollections of events even that recent end up being full of errors and inconsistencies. The difference with WWII is that we’d be able to go back and possibly verify certain factual claims with records.

        • davewarnock

          no one is claiming that anyone’s eternal destiny depends upon the veracity of his testimony or the clarity of his memory. BIG difference

      • Trent Horn

        My point about Pliny, Paul, and Acts (and also Josephus and Tacitus) is that they make the prior probability of an apostle being martyred very high. That means you don’t need very much evidence to justify the claim they were martyred since the event is so common.

        Polycarp has a connection to John and may have written between 50-80 years after the deaths of Peter and Paul. Clement is even better and could be written between 5-30 years after these events. By ancient standards this is very good.

        If you say it isn’t, then what is your standard for a source in ancient history being reliable? At what point does the source become unreliable when it describes a past event? 30 years? 50? 100?

        • MNb

          It’s not a good point.

          http://www.livius.org/theory/everest-fallacy/

          It works the other way as well. If crucifixions were so common there would be no need to write about them. This is the argument used to explain why nobody cared to write about the first 30 years of Jesus’ life. You can’t have it two ways.
          You need a different angle: positivism. BobS repeatedly has claimed that he follows the evidence. If we assume that the apostles actually lived they obviously had to die somewhere at some place too. What evidence do we have where and when they died? Exactly. It may be weak, but there is no alternative. There isn’t any evidence that points in any other direction.
          The other route possible is extreme skepticism – doubt everything that can be doubted. For instance we could only accept anything if there is archeological evidence. In that case christianity originates from the early 3rd Century, as the oldest known church dates from that period. Everything before is “conspiracy”.
          Obviously that doesn’t work.
          Equally obviously that doesn’t validate in any way “Who Would Die for a Lie?”

        • By ancient standards this is very good.

          Precisely. But given what you need to have to support supernatural claims, this is very poor.

          If you say it isn’t, then what is your standard for a source in ancient history being reliable? At what point does the source become unreliable when it describes a past event? 30 years? 50? 100?

          You can’t be serious. You can find articles in the newspaper that are wrong about something that happened yesterday, and that’s with modern standards of journalism. Why imagine that the gospel authors were bound by modern standards of journalism? They have bigger fish to fry than fact checking—they’re trying to express a powerful religious truth.

          I wouldn’t trust someone who made a claim of personal eyewitness of the supernatural today; if the tale wasn’t something that fit your worldview, neither would you. But you’re hunky-dory with a tale from 2000 years ago that was passed along orally for decades? Let’s be consistent.

        • Trent Horn

          Bob, I’m not talking about the supernatural in this instance. We were debating whether there was good evidence that the apostle’s were martyred, something that even an atheist could affirm. My point is that if we believe in other ancient events that have worse evidence than the apostle’s martyrdom, then we should believe that at least the apostle’s were martyred if the evidence is better.

          I asked you about your standard for evaluating the historicity of the past and you just threw up the skeptic card and basically said, “Newspapers even get stuff wrong today, we can’t know ANYTHING about history!”

          Are you really that skeptical about the past, or is it only with past events that relate in any way to Christianity? Once again, what is your standard or are just completely skeptical about the past? When someone says Rome burned in A.D. 64 or that Hannibal crossed the Alps in B.C. 218 do you say “There’s only weak evidence for that so we can’t be sure” or do you accept these common facts about the ancient world whose evidence is weaker than the evidence for many of the events related to Christianity?

        • Greg G.

          I would expect that some were martyred but I doubt that all but John were. The multiple accounts of martyrdom for some apostles shows that the second century Christians were made a genre out of it. So each and every account is suspect even if it is fair to assume that a few might be basically true.

          But what beliefs were they dying for? Gospel Jesus wasn’t written yet and Epistle Jesus doesn’t support Gospel Jesus.

        • We were debating whether there was good evidence that the apostle’s were martyred, something that even an atheist could affirm.

          Yes, an atheist could affirm this nonsupernatural thing. But the evidence is poor, as I’ve mentioned.

          And let’s not imagine that the supernatural isn’t hiding behind the corner. You’re using this natural story to bolster a supernatural claim. You’ve set yourself a very difficult task—I can’t imagine any natural evidence that will force a supernatural conclusion. Supernatural evidence, maybe, but not natural.

          My point is that if we believe in other ancient events that have worse evidence than the apostle’s martyrdom, then we should believe that at least the apostle’s were martyred if the evidence is better.

          The martyrdom argument is poor. But sure, let’s have equal standards regardless of the natural claim.

          basically said, “Newspapers even get stuff wrong today, we can’ t know ANYTHING about history!”

          Then you misunderstood my point. I’m saying that, given that records are suspect (and 2000-year-old records about the supernatural are insanely suspect), the natural claims of the gospels are inherently very weak.

          Are you really that skeptical about the past, or is it only with past events that relate in any way to Christianity?

          I’m consistent. I follow historians’ lead. They scrub the supernatural out of every account from history.

        • Kodie

          We’re given two choices: apostles witness to a miraculous Jesus resurrection, or apostles witness to the lack of the same event, a lie. We are not given other choices. “Why would the apostles martyr themselves if they knew the resurrection wasn’t true, therefore the resurrection is true” is the full argument.

          We don’t have to imagine whether they would martyr themselves for sincere beliefs of an event they were not witness to, we’re not given that alternate choice in this argument. Plenty of people can be considered martyrs for their true beliefs, regardless of firsthand confirmation of the event in question, maybe even the apostles. We’re not arguing whether they or anyone else was a martyr for their true beliefs, this argument stands on eye-witnessing the event they voluntarily martyred themselves for, because who would martyr themselves for an event they clearly did not witness! This is to say, if they did not witness it themselves, then they would tend to doubt it? What Christian today doubts it? They are relying on the true beliefs of some people who lived a long time ago with no more information than they have today, and taking that as if they would have denied it – we know NOW that people do not deny and do sincerely believe things that never happened. We can’t take this martyrdom as anything more sincere than the martyrdom today, i.e. based off this initial but mistaken martyrdom.

          You have to be pretty stupid to jump off that bridge just because all your friends are.

      • primenumbers

        “Are you saying that a century of oral history is reliable?’ – calling it “oral history” gives it vastly more credit that it’s due. Oral storytelling, invention, myth-creation and accretion is probably nearer the mark!

    • Greg G.

      I thought Bob should have included the story about Peter being crucified upside-down and the story of him being beheaded. I would like to have seen the story of milk coming out of Paul’s neck when he was beheaded.

      When there are multiple accounts of the death of individual martyrs, it shows that there was a fetish about noble deaths for the disciples in the second century and calls into question every one of them.

  • Marvin Edwards

    And then there was also Perpetua. Or perhaps there wasn’t. But, perhaps there was. Everything for which we have no written record is left to the imagination. But if there are some oral histories that have been recorded, then that is evidence. It may be very poor evidence, and it may have been corrupted by the wishful thinking of subsequent editors, but it cannot be dismissed out of hand so long as it presents the possibility of a reasonable account.

    One of the oddest claims I’ve heard is that Jesus was not a real person. We can easily dismiss the miracles (miracle workers were a “dime-a-dozen” back then) and the legends.

    But what are the odds that, of all of the traveling preachers of the day, none of them carried the name “Jesus”, which was a very popular name at the time.

    To believe that there was never a person named Jesus who preached for a living would be an irrational belief, sustainable only by faith.

    So, if atheism wishes to claim a worldview based on reason rather than faith, it should make sure that it’s own claims are reasonable.

    • Sure, there were lots of guys back then named Jesus/Yeshua. But if the whole story is a myth (the Christ Myth theory), then there are other origins than a dude named Jesus. It doesn’t have to have come from him.

      The Christ Myth theory is fascinating IMO but a tangent. I’m happy to assume that Christianity came from a 1st century preacher named Jesus; I’m simply saying that the miracles are legend.

      • adam

        This is probably the best basis for those at the time who created the resurrection story.

        “Jesus was crucified and died” said one

        “But I just saw him and so did 500 others” says another, who know another Jesus.

        With no pictures or flyers at the time, easy mistake to make.

        And a VERY easy excuse to create the myth.

        Many people shared the name. Christ’s given name, commonly Romanized as Yeshua, was quite common in first-century Galilee. (Jesus comes from the transliteration of Yeshua into Greek and then English.) Archaeologists have unearthed the tombs of 71 Yeshuas from the period of Jesus’ death.
        The name also appears 30 times in the Old Testament in reference to four separate characters—including a descendent of Aaron who helped to distribute offerings of grain (2 Chronicles 31:15) and a man who accompanied former captives of Nebuchadnezzar back to Jerusalem (Ezra
        2:2).

        http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/explainer/2008/12/happy_birthday_dear_yeshua_happy_birthday_to_you.html

      • Marvin Edwards

        And even some of the “miracles” could be historical. Some were probably people seeking attention who fake an illness. Others may have had “functional” blindness or lameness that can be cured by suggestion/hypnosis. Others may have been “cured” simply by the placebo effect.

        Mark 9:38-40 has an interesting story to tell: “And John answered him, saying, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name, and he followeth not us: and we forbad him, because he followeth not us. But Jesus said, Forbid him not: for there is no man which shall do a miracle in my name, that can lightly speak evil of me. For he that is not against us is on our part.”

        So, like the PBS Frontline special, “From Jesus to Christ” suggested, “miracle” workers at that time were a dime a dozen.

        • hammerhead

          do you base all of your “knowledge” off of PBS Frontline specials?

        • Marvin Edwards

          Some. But when I was younger I had an interest in hypnosis and read several books. There was one that was especially interesting at the time called, “The Search for Bridey Murphy”. It was about a woman who was “age regressed” under hypnosis, supposedly to a previous life. You may have heard of these things.

          But, anyway, there was another book, called “A Scientific Report on the Search for Bridey Murphy” which explained how a subject under hypnosis will follow the clinicians suggestions even so far as inventing a reasonable story based upon knowledge gleaned elsewhere, even that she was unaware that she knew.

          The same problem of suggestibility is why testimony under hypnosis is rejected by courts.

    • Greg G.

      One of the oddest claims I’ve heard is that Jesus was not a real person. We can easily dismiss the miracles (miracle workers were a “dime-a-dozen” back then) and the legends.

      But what are the odds that, of all of the traveling preachers of the day, none of them carried the name “Jesus”, which was a very popular name at the time.

      To believe that there was never a person named Jesus who preached for a living would be an irrational belief, sustainable only by faith.

      So, if atheism wishes to claim a worldview based on reason rather than faith, it should make sure that it’s own claims are reasonable.

      While we are dismissing the miracles and legends, we should notice that those were part of the literature of the day and were not about somebody named Jesus. But we can also see that practically everything about Jesus in the early epistles and in the gospels can be found in the literature of the day having been attributed to other people and fictional characters first. The best you can do is look at the use of the Gospel of Thomas but many of the sayings seem to come from the early epistles, too, and there are no Jesus quotes in them.

      New Testament Narrative as Old Testament Midrash by Robert M. Price is a collection of studies of various scholars who account for the sources of Mark, none that were about Jesus. How a Fictional Jesus Gave Rise to Christianity, by R. G. Price (a different Price) shows how Mark was written as allegory, not history. Mark’s Use of the Gospel of Thomas (Part 1) by Stevan Davies argues that Mark used Thomas.

      You can find a list I made of everything Paul says about things Jesus did along with a possible OT source for his knowledge. He didn’t seem to know about any first century Jesus. The epistles don’t support a Jesus who was a teacher or a preacher nor do they present any teachings.

      • MNb

        “were not about somebody named Jesus”
        No, the miracles and legends in the Gospels were about somebody named Greg G.
        Do you read back what you write yourself, I wonder?

    • MNb

      This has nothing to do with atheism and everything with science. Yes, it’s silly beyond compare that folks who claim to commit themselves to the scientific method throw it out of the window as soon as the results don’t suit them.

  • Greg G.

    As I often point out, the early epistles only refer to Jesus in terms of Old Testament scripture and not as a first century person. Paul never claims to have met Jesus but he claims that his knowledge of the gospel is not inferior to the other apostles’.

    Many scholars think the gospels are not historical.

    The apostles may have died believing in Epistle Jesus who they thought existed hundreds of years before and not Gospel Jesus that modern Christians claim they died for

    • MNb

      “As I often point out, the early epistles only refer to Jesus in terms of Old Testament scripture and not as a first century person.”
      That’s a nice non-sequitur. First century jews were totally capable of talking in terms of OT scripture.

      “Many scholars think the gospels are not historical.”
      That’s as meaningless as “many scholars don’t believe in evolution”. See, with precious few exceptions all historians of Antiquity think not single document of that period was historical. It’s lesson 1 – the authors back then didn’t write for Greg G in the 21st Century, but for their contemporaries and hence had very different ideas about what to put in a story and what not.
      Major methodological failure, Greg G – typical for pseudoscience.

      • Greg G.

        That’s a nice non-sequitur. First century jews were totally capable of talking in terms of OT scripture.

        The early epistles show the authors were capable of referring to recent history with resorting to the OT. The point is that they never do in when discussing Jesus in the past tense.

  • Margaret Whitestone

    Stupid and ignorant people die for lies all the time.

    • hammerhead

      which is exactly what John the Baptist, Stephen, James the brother of John, the Apostle Peter and the Apostle Paul did not do

      • adam

        Lies/delusions, just depends on what side of the story you are on.

      • Margaret Whitestone

        But, sadly, many real people have done so based on those and other religious fables.

        • hammerhead

          we know they aren’t fables Margaret. People don’t die for fables. People don’t die for “snow white and the seven dwarves”

          stop drinking the kool-aid and you’ll feel better

        • RichardSRussell

          People don’t die for fables.

          Yeah, you’ve basically repeated Bob’s first paragraph there. Did you bother to go on after that?

        • hammerhead

          I did in my large post. I’ve already demonstrated that at least 5 of the core followers of Christ died for different reasons than the 9/11 hijackers or the heavens gate cult. the former died because they were put to death for their faith in Christ as Lord and the latter committed suicide. Vastly different

        • RichardSRussell

          No, I meant “Did you bother to read the rest of Bob’s essay, in which he goes on to explain …”

          … shit, why am I even trying?

        • hammerhead

          yeah I did notice how I address that material in my larger post

        • Kodie

          Let’s ask if you would die for Jesus. Would you die for Jesus?

        • davewarnock

          people don’t die for fables? So the guys who flew planes into the buildings on 9/11 really believed in a credible story. They are actually enjoying the company of several dozen virgins in heaven right now? Do you even hear what you are saying??

        • Margaret Whitestone

          Funny you should mention kool-aid. The Jonestown cult members died over fables.

        • hammerhead

          that’s absolutely correct and I would agree with you but consistent Biblical Christianity is not fableistic it lacks those fundamental traits

        • Greg G.

          consistent Biblical Christianity

          You’re an oxymoron machine. There are approximately 43,000 different Christian denominations.

        • hammerhead

          again, that’s not a good argument Greg.

          there are 30 MLB teams and all of them are run differently and have had scandals, etc. The fan base fluctuates depending on how well the team does. Yet the all operate according to the same rules of Baseball and there are still disagreements.

          hmmmm….good try though

        • Where are the Christians who say, “Good point; I was wrong” or even “OK, fine–I’ll drop that argument in the future”?

          Our late buddy the Ham Man clearly isn’t one of them. The value in his example is how Christianity is so much not like MLB.

        • Kodie

          All baseball teams operate under the same rules. The differences between Christian denominations is that they are not in agreement about rules and split off. Baseball is a game and the rules have to be consistent. It is irrelevant whether some people cheat or break the rules. There is pretty much no difference in fans of one team vs. fans of another but which team they are loyal to – none of them are radically different than another, not even Boston and NY.

          But I know your head is filled with rocks and you can’t make distinctions. “Someone” named stnwljksn TRIED TO USE THIS ARGUMENT AND IT WAS DESTROYED. Are you still the liar trying to pretend you’re not him, homeschool?

        • Kodie

          Maybe someone with low critical thinking skills like you is convinced just because someone says so, but we’re not. So you’re talking to someone, you ask them a question about how Christianity seems like a lot of other religions of the world, and they say “biblical Christianity lacks the fundamental traits of fables” and you just say “oh, makes sense.”

          YOU ARE G-U-L-L-I-B-L-E.

        • davewarnock

          sorry- there is no consistent Biblical Christianity. It’s ALL inconsistent.

        • If your point is simply that she should’ve used “legend” instead of “myth,” then say so.

        • hammerhead

          again, are you a Bob Price lover? You do know that someone here at Patheos did an article on how Bob Price is essentially an admitted liar on his account of Bart Ehrman…
          http://www.patheos.com/blogs/hallq/2012/04/bizarre-flap-between-bart-ehrman-and-robert-m-price/

        • Whaaa … ? You change subjects so often I can’t keep track.

          You can’t respond to anything interesting so you try to find something else nasty to say about me? Will it be my clothes sense next? My unshined shoes? My dirty car?

          I’m pretty sure Robert Price isn’t the subject.

        • hammerhead

          oh yes he is – he’s on your blog page as an endorser of your book

          are you going to send Bob Price a Valentine on February 13th?

        • hammerhead

          woops…14th?

        • hammerhead

          furthermore are you not an adherent to the mythology theory?

          If that’s the case than you love Bob Price

        • Schoolyard taunts bad; thoughtful argument good–remember? You’re on probation.

        • hammerhead

          you claim that I don’t have thoughtful arguments so why are you tolerating me at all?

        • hammerhead

          you claim that I don’t have thoughtful arguments so why are you tolerating me at all?

        • Kodie

          How come you made a 3rd account after getting banned the first two times in 2 days? Bob sometimes takes months or a year to ban someone so tiresome. Why do you persist in thinking you have anything to say, especially when you start arguments, get answers that should teach you something new, and then come back the next day with a NEW NAME and pretend you’re not the same guy, and the use all the same “arguments” you used yesterday? Where is the progress, honesty, or intelligence? What the fuck, troll.

        • hammerhead

          you claim that I don’t have thoughtful arguments so why are you tolerating me at all?

        • OK–you’re done.

          Why do assholes do that? If they want to not be here, they can just leave. If they want to stay–either for ego or to defend their Lord and Master–why demand to be banned?

          Weird.

        • adam

          In THEIR eyes?

          mar·tyr·dom

          a display of feigned or exaggerated suffering to obtain sympathy or admiration.

          About the only thing that makes sense.

          If they actually TRY and have an INTELLIGENT debate, then their ignorance and bigotry are exposed.

          It is just Propaganda.
          Playing to the EMOTIONS.

        • Dys

          It’s an ego boost. One of the things I’ve noticed is that they really love the passage about being persecuted for their beliefs. So the flakier apologists tend to be obnoxious assholes in order to get banned, which gives them the warm fuzzies because they mistakenly think they’ve been persecuted for their beliefs, and not their infantile behaviour.

          It’s just a self-fulfilling prophecy in service of faux martyrdom.

        • Annerdr

          So, you believe in Islam? Hinduism? and Buddhism? People have died for each of these.

        • Max Doubt

          “So, you believe in Islam? Hinduism? and Buddhism? People have died for each of these.”

          No, no, no. Please keep up. When you have an argument as poor as his, you’re allowed to say it only works to defend Christianity.

        • adam

          People die for propaganda all the time.
          They will even kill for it.

        • Kodie

          We know they aren’t fables simply because someone died for them? Or is that just a logical leap you were invited to take?

        • MNb

          So according to you Hitler’s racism was true, given all the SSers that died for it at the Eastern Front.

        • Otto

          stop drinking the kool-aid and you’ll feel better

          The irony is thick.

      • That’s real nice of you. You’re sticking up for Jesus because he’s not able to, what with him not existing and all.

        But you really need to provide the evidence. Your simple assertion that the Hammerhead Five were actual martyrs needs evidence.

      • RichardSRussell

        “The only thing that casts doubt on the miracles of Jesus is that they were all witnessed by fishermen.”
        —anonymous

        • Greg G.

          Careful, the floor here is not carpeted and I almost fell out of my chair. You should hear about the miracles that got away!

        • hammerhead

          that’s absurd. In a court of law testimony is not cast out because of someones occupation.

        • davewarnock

          I see you have a wicked sense of humor- must be a riot at parties

        • hammerhead

          Why did the atheist throw his watch out the window?

          He wanted to see if his watch would evolve into a bird and fly away

        • Wait … I don’t get it.

        • hammerhead

          okay here’s another one

          What is so ironic about atheists?

          …..they’re always talking about God!

        • Kodie

          Another mistake idiots like you like to make – we’re actually talking about the terrible arguments idiots like you use to support your assertion that there is a god.

        • davewarnock

          no- usually on forums like these we are talking about people who talk to and about God. And wonder how we could have ever done so.

        • Kodie

          Christians are not known for having a good sense of humor.

        • Greg G.

          No, but fishermen are known to exaggerate the size of their catch and other fish stories. The joke means they lack credibility.
          Do you ever wonder what that whooshing noise is? It’s is the point going over your head.

        • hammerhead

          You’re right I didn’t make that connection but that’s beside the point.

          If you’re correct then we have to apply that to every other occupation as well.

        • hammerhead

          pretty funny actually but this argument is so stupid I don’t even know what to say

        • hammerhead

          I also hit myself in the head with hammers

        • explains a lot

        • RichardSRussell

          I’m guessing he actually hits himself in the head with dead fish and only claims they’re hammers in public because it makes him sound more heroic.

          Dang, where have I heard something else like that recently?

        • Greg G.

          That’s gotta be the most truthful thing you’ve said yet.

        • It’s a joke, not an argument.

          Your confusion explains a lot. You’ve been offering jokes as arguments ever since you got here.

        • hammerhead

          your a joke and not an argument

        • RichardSRussell

          Oh, you thot he was talking about the fish!

        • Greg G.

          I caught a Messiah with a head so big, it took a whole alabaster jar of expensive perfumed nard to anoint it.

        • Greg G.

          I was just looking at a Bible fish story that Christians read as a miracle of Jesus.

          Matthew 17:24-27 (NRSV)
          24 When they reached Capernaum, the collectors of the temple tax came to Peter and said, “Does your teacher not pay the temple tax?” 25 He said, “Yes, he does.” And when he came home, Jesus spoke of it first, asking, “What do you think, Simon? From whom do kings of the earth take toll or tribute? From their children or from others?” 26 When Peter said, “From others,” Jesus said to him, “Then the children are free. 27 However, so that we do not give offense to them, go to the sea and cast a hook; take the first fish that comes up; and when you open its mouth, you will find a coin; take that and give it to them for you and me.”

          The passage does not say that Peter caught a fish nor that he paid the temple tax. It seems to me that Jesus is saying that the children of God should not pay. If he was to mean that seriously, the instructions would be to catch enough fish to pay for the other disciples for every time they charge the census tax.

          Exodus 30:11-16 institutes the census tax. Exodus 30:12 says the payment is a ransom on the person’s life so they don’t die of a plague. That is equivalent to extortion of people’s superstitions.

          I think the fish story is anticipating the “Cleansing of the Temple” pericope (Mark 11:15-19; Matthew 21:12-17) about the temple being a “den of thieves”. Matthew has Jesus cleverly and facetiously telling Peter to not be ridiculous about paying that tax.

        • wtfwjtd

          Good point Greg, otherwise that temple episode with Jesus just looks like someone throwing a temper (temple?) tantrum, just running around whipping people for the heckuvit. And we totally know that’s not what happened, we know that Jesus and his daddy owned the place and he was just layin’ down the rules.

  • adam

    Perhaps a better approach would be who would LIE for a DIE.

    THIS would give better insight to the to creation of ‘Bible’, and explains its stories better.

  • katta

    Before you think of the death of this people – is it historical proofed, that they have lived?

  • RichardSRussell

    Years ago (many, many years ago), when I was in college, I got a knock on the door from 2 Mormon missionaries about my own age. I was then in full-blown info-sponge mode, so I agreed to their 6 hour-long flannel-board presentations, and I’m pretty sure they thot they had a live one on the hook.

    We reached the end of Session #6 and they asked me whether I was willing, then and there, to commit my life and soul to Mormonism. They seemed taken aback when I said I really didn’t believe any of it but was really glad that I’d had a chance to learn more about their religion and get to know them as individuals.*

    The older of the elders (maybe 22, and a direct descendant of the prophet) got all teary-eyed and pointed out that Joseph Smith had been assassinated by Mormon-haters, and how could I renounce him “after he’d given his heart’s blood” (his phrase) for what he believed in? None too articulate at the time myself, I didn’t have a ready answer** and just mumbled something placatory as we wrapped it up for the day.

    Main lesson: Lots of people died for what they believed in. It’s a mark of sincerity (or perhaps just bad luck), not of veracity.

    ––––––
    *They really were great guys, and I kept up the relationship for a couple of years thereafter, going thru a transition every 2½ months as an old one was reposted elsewhere and a new one came in (overlapping with the by-now-veteran holdover) to learn the ropes and the city. I turned out to be their major source of age-appropriate socialization, since I was in a fraternity and had a ready source of basketball, football, and frisbee players available, and they got to mark it on their timesheets as “time spent with non-Mormons”. It finally wound down when I had to be out of town for a summer and didn’t know the new guys once I got back.

    **The one answer I did immediately think of, but decided not to mention, was that Adolf Hitler also died for his beliefs.

  • RichardSRussell

    Let’s assume for the moment that all of those disciples really were martyred, despite the lack of any evidence for it other than the pious writings of their fellow believers. Is there any record at all of what they had to say on their way to the gallows (or guillotine, or whatever)? Maybe it was all an unending stream of “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean it. I recant. I see the error of my ways now. I renounce Yahweh and all his works. I never really believed it anyway; I was just going along to get laid. Jupiter is my hero. The emperor is my role model. I’m a loyal citizen of the empire. You’d like the new me, really you would.”

    Heck, that’s what I’d be doing (WTF, what’s to lose?), who’s to say they didn’t do it as well?

    Of course, the answer would still be the same: “Buck you, fuddy, you committed crimes against the state, and now yer gonna pay for it. Suck it up and die like a man.” But history sadly seems not to have recorded any of it.

    • hammerhead

      yeah you get em’ Richard because nothing is worth dying for!

      • Yeah, that’s what I do as well when I’m losing the argument–change the subject and hope no one notices.

        The interesting point here is that recanting belief in Jesus does nothing to get you released from a charge of sedition (or some other capital offense).

        • hammerhead

          what’s your point system to determine who’s ahead

      • RichardSRussell

        The point (“WHOOOOSSHH” again) was that we have no idea that that’s what they were dying for — or even what they thot they were dying for. The Romans were more into law and order than justice.

        And the larger point (to return to Bob’s essay) is that we have no particular good reason to believe any of them died at all! If you read all the way to my last line, you will notice the observation “history sadly seems not to have recorded any of it.” Still true, lo, these 33 minutes later.

        • hammerhead@lycos.com

          how do we know that you’re not Bob?

        • RichardSRussell

          You don’t. Does it matter? My comments should be taken on their own merits, not because of their source.

        • hammerhead

          How do you know that what Bob writes is true?

        • Do you ever stay on topic? Pro tip: makes you look sleazy when you try to wriggle away from the subject at hand.

        • RichardSRussell

          Hey, you know, you seem to share a lot of the same thot patterns as an earlier poster, some guy named “hammerhead@lycos.com”. Maybe the 2 of you should get together and compare notes.

        • Kodie

          Holy shit, there’s still lycos?

        • Greg G.

          I think we have good reason to think they died.

        • davewarnock

          yeah but they rose again…and floated up into heaven like their leader. Or maybe they wandered around like zombies in Jerusalem or some random place- as mentioned in Matthew. Or maybe they are waiting for the rapture. Nah. They just died.

        • RichardSRussell

          As they said in fencing class, “touchy touchy” (or something like that). 8^D

      • Kodie

        This is actually quite hypocritical in an interesting way. People like you say things like “there are no atheists in foxholes” and that when death was coming for you, you’d beg and plead god to save you. By the way, this is false, not that everyone accepts death calmly, but the don’t bargain or plead with a non-existent being either. Are you saying that when it’s Christianity, these people just welcome death and say no problem? You think they don’t piss their pants and beg the executioner to spare them?

    • Greg G.

      What Ignatius wrote:

      I am God’s wheat and shall be ground by the teeth of wild animals. I am writing to all the churches to let it be known that I don’t want to die for God if only you will stand in my way. I plead with you: show me untimely kindness. Do not let me be food for the wild beasts, for they are my way to God. I am God’s wheat and shall be ground by their teeth so that I may become Christ’s pure bread. Pray to Christ for me that the animals will not be the means of making me a sacrificial victim for God. No earthly pleasures, no kingdoms of this world can benefit me in any way. I prefer death in Christ Jesus to power I visit the farthest limits of the earth. He who died in place of us is the one object of my quest. He who rose for our sakes is my one desire.

      What his followers rewrote it as to make him seem heroic:

      I am God’s wheat and shall be ground by the teeth of wild animals. I am writing to all the churches to let it be known that I will gladly die for God if only you do not stand in my way. I plead with you: show me no untimely kindness. Let me be food for the wild beasts, for they are my way to God. I am God’s wheat and shall be ground by their teeth so that I may become Christ’s pure bread. Pray to Christ for me that the animals will be the means of making me a sacrificial victim for God. No earthly pleasures, no kingdoms of this world can benefit me in any way. I prefer death in Christ Jesus to power over the farthest limits of the earth. He who died in place of us is the one object of my quest. He who rose for our sakes is my one desire.

      Also, from As Sam Kinison said:

      I don’t know what age it was at when he started to go, “hey, wait a minute.
      A lot of this is bullshit, and I have most of it ” >> the last supper, I know they doctored that up.
      Come on.
      You know, he was under the pressure.
      THESE GUYS ARE [bleep] CONFUSED.
      They’re going, “is it i?
      Am I the one who’s going to be a traitor?
      ..” and he’s going, “oh, will you guys do me a favor–eat me!
      Here’s your last supper!
      Suck on this!
      ” so they’re writing the bible.
      And they’re going, “oh.
      We can’t write this.
      We can’t say jesus lost it at the last supper and told his disciples to eat him.
      “He said, ‘eat me,’ grabbed his dick and said, ‘this is your last supper.
      ‘ we can’t write that.
      Here, oh, wait, wait.
      I know what we’ll do.
      I know what we’ll do.
      I know what we’ll do.
      Here we go.
      ‘May you eat of my flesh, drink of my blood, ‘ does that work with you guys?
      Yeah, yeah?

      • What are these two documents about Ignatius? Is this an early copy of his writings and a later one?

        • Greg G.

          The second is what one translation actually says. The first is a spoof of what the original may have been.

        • Without Malice

          If by original you mean coming from the pen of Ignatius there may be no there there. Half of his letters are believed by almost every expert to be forgeries and I wouldn’t doubt if they all are.

        • Pofarmer

          Sigh, it seems there was no honor among early Christians.

        • Greg G.

          I agree. It may be a case of golf where they were improving their lie.

        • Oh, just give ‘im the mulligan. Historical accuracy is overrated.

        • Greg G.

          It wood suit me to a tee if we could putt things in order, though.

    • Roger

      If we assume that they were martyred and that they did know that they were publicly believing a lie, your scenario makes little sense. These disciples were not all supposedly martyred around the same time and all of them knew that Jesus was killed for preaching what they preached so it would make very little sense to wait until you are on the way to your death before recanting. Surely they would have recanted at some point in the several decades (for some) between Jesus´ death and their own especially considering they knew that their fellow believers were being killed and yet supposedly, not a single one did.

      • This post (and the one following it) argue that “if we assume that they were martyred” is a poor assumption.

      • Pofarmer

        Candida Moss argues that the early martyrdom stories were greatly overblown. But even if they weren’t, so what? Joseph Smith had an entire army ready to die for him in short order.

    • lorasinger

      Paul’s Christianity is another of the pagan man god stories of that time.
      .
      “When we say that the Word, who is the first-birth of God, was produced without sexual union, and that He, Jesus Christ, our Teacher, was crucified and died, and rose again, and ascended into heaven, we propound nothing different from what you believe regarding those whom you esteem sons of Jupiter.” [Justin Martyr, First Apology, 21]

  • Ann Kah

    Many have died for a lie. Millions have died for the lies told by/about these apostles.

    • Speedwell

      That’s what I wanted to say. Sure, people die for lies all the time–lies they don’t know are lies, and lies that they do know are lies. The assertion that people don’t often quite willingly die to keep someone from finding out the truth (about something they’ve done, for example, or to protect someone, or in espionage) is simply nonsense. Or maybe the speaker is unaware that there is more than one side in a war, and soldiers die who don’t at all believe in ‘the Cause’.

  • nazani

    Snuffing anyone who muttered under their breath about the ruling regime was common for centuries. Perhaps Christian writers just selected particularly gruesome executions and wrote religious backstories for the victims.

    • Greg G.

      Ecclesiastes has a line about being careful about what you say because a little bird might hear.

      Hebrews refers to a story in the Apocrypha where seven brothers were tortured because they wouldn’t eat bacon or pork.

  • Rudy R

    Do we know for a fact that the Apostles were willing to die for their beliefs? Were they in constant fear of death by proselytizing Christianity? Were they given the opportunity to save their lives by renouncing Christianity? Evidence of the Apostles dyng in the hands of Pagans and Jews notwithstanding, we have to know these questions before they can be truly credited for being martyrs.

    • lorasinger

      Neither Jesus nor his apostles were Christians and Christianity wasn’t even invented by Paul until 20 years after Jesus death. They were all a practicing sect of Judaism. The apostles had been directed by Jesus to avoid gentile towns and Jesus himself said that he had been sent to only the Jews. None of them preached to gentiles. Paul was the first apostle to the gentiles.

  • James

    Excellent points. Another point to consider: martyrs rarely, if ever, have the opportunity to save themselves merely by recanting. It’s not like the early followers of Christianity could have saved themselves merely by saying “you know what, this is all bullcrap;” whatever crimes these individuals may have committed in the eyes of the Roman state had already been committed before these individuals were actually brought to trial. Likewise, Joseph Smith died for his beliefs and Siyyid `Alí Muḥammad Shírází (aka “The Bab”) died for his, to name but two recent founders of major monotheistic religions; neither recanted and both “died for lies,” at least as far as nonbelievers are concerned. But Christian apologists hardly accept either example as proof that Mormonism or Bahaism (or its forerunner Babbism) are true. Both examples are founders, not mere disciples (much less disciples of disciples) – precisely the right people to know if their religious claims were true or not.

    Another good example is Ali ibn Abi Talib, the son-in-law of the prophet Muhammad and the founder of the Shiite sect. To Shiite believers, he died a martyr’s death, even pardoning his murderers. But to anyone else, his death was political. And one more – Guru Arjan Sahib, the 6th guru of the Sikh religion (the first 10 gurus are considered to be coequal founders of the Sikh religion). He wrote much of the Sikh holy book, which is called the 11th guru, the Adi Granth. He was Jesus, Paul, Matthew, Mark and Luke all rolled into one… And he too “died for a lie.”

    • Greg G.

      I confess. I will probably plagiarize this.

    • MNb

      “whatever crimes these individuals may have committed in the eyes of the Roman state had already been committed before these individuals were actually brought to trial.”
      Alas I can’t refind it, but I’ve read somewhere that persecuted christians could save their lives indeed by recognizing other gods. They were tested with the order to sacrifice for other gods. But they had taken over the stubbornness of the jews and refused to do so (well, perhaps not all of them). That refusal was the crime – and could be rectified until before the execution.
      The Roman authorities for a long time didn’t have a clue why jews and christians were so stubborn.
      Alas for you it’s in Dutch, but there is good evidence that some jews were polytheists indeed:

      http://mainzerbeobachter.com/2013/11/23/hoezo-monotheisme-1/

      Theodotos son of Dorion and Ptolemaios son of Dionysios recognized the Greek god Pan. They didn’t sacrifice to that god.

  • Esquilax

    While people have died for lies—the 9/11 hijackers, for example, or the Heaven’s Gate cult—they didn’t know it
    was a lie. That the apostles were in a position to know and still died
    defending it is strong evidence that the Jesus story is accurate.

    The idea that the apostles “were in a position to know” if Jesus’ story was true is another unjustified assertion that the theist making this argument is trying to hide: how do we know they were in a position to know that? How do we know they weren’t just sincerely duped by a wandering trickster with some cool sleight of hand? Or that the story, even if true, wasn’t exaggerated over the years so that what actually convinced the apostles, and what we’re presented with, are radically different?

    Frankly, this whole argument of theirs is built up around protecting a false dichotomy, which is that the apostle’s beliefs were either necessarily true, or a knowing falsehood. The actual discussion, whether the apostles died for something they sincerely held as true or not, doesn’t even address the question of whether those beliefs were actually true, but the apologists try to pretend that it does, somehow. But we know people die for beliefs they think are true, but are not; aside from the unjustified, hidden assumption they they must either be true beliefs, or cons… how do theists come to the conclusion that those beliefs they died for were true, and not merely sincerely held?

  • Joe

    “Its late age, 1500 years after the events, is enough to disqualify it since we have the earlier account, but its popularity makes it an important source.”

    Important how?

    “To a large extent Foxe was simply a mouthpiece for the anti-Catholic sentiment in England at the time, and many sources dismiss its accuracy (Wikipedia, 1911 Britannica, Catholic Encyclopedia).”

    Indeed so why bother with it? It seems the main reason you use it is because it is inconsistent with earlier sources and therefore you think helps your point. AKA grasping at straws.

    What is undeniable is that followers of Christ would have expected to be persecuted. After all they were worshiping someone who they claimed was killed by the state. Regardless of the details of particular martyrs (and you only address the disciples) early Christians would have been taking a large risk. Not a risk they would have taken lightly.

    • Indeed so why bother with it?

      ?? Because it’s so widely used. Or is this a trick question?

      You don’t get the popular “all the disciples except for John died a martyr’s death” claim without Foxe.

    • MichaelBrew

      It seems more important as examples of people just making things up – very obviously – and yet the majority of people still accepting that as the authoritative version. That doesn’t really bode well for the credibility even of the earlier versions as they were still written a fairly long time afterward with no apparent reliable source.

  • Without Malice

    Millions upon millions of Jews have died for believing Jesus to be a false messiah. Thousands of so-called heretiI mucal Christians died believing they were actually “true” Christians. Since none of the apostles ever wrote a single word about what it was they believed about Jesus it doesn’t matter if they died for their beliefs or not, since we don’t know what those beliefs were. From the bible itself we do know that the apostles in Jerusalem were at odds with Paul and wouldn’t even come to his aid when he was arrested for starting a riot. The most probably reason they didn’t come to his aid is that they were the ones that were rioting, for word had gotten around that Paul, contrary to the agreement he had made, was teaching Jews they no longer had to keep the law, which all the Jewish Christians did.
    I must take issue with you though on Acts being written in the latter half of the first century. No one ever heard of the book until well into the second century.

    • MNb

      “Millions upon millions of Jews have died for believing Jesus to be a false messiah.”
      Why oh why am I so dumb that I do not think of this myself? And now I’ve read it it’s so obvious …… This is a better counter than “all those SSers died for racial superiority at the Eastern Front”.
      Thanks.

    • Interesting claim about Acts being late. Can you point me to a source?

      • Greg G.

        Wikipedia has a discussion of the date. It says that if Acts is based on Josephus, it would be after 93 ad.

        But Luke and Acts have parallels to Josephus’ biography which would push both of them toward or into the second century.

      • Without Malice

        Hi Bob. In addition to the use of the writings of Josephus that Greg G. mentions, there are several other reasons for believing that Acts is a second century document, along with the gospel of Luke which preceded it. If the gospel is a second century work then Acts is as well.
        1. They are both addressed to a noble or excellent Theophilus. The only Theophilus of any importance in the early church was Bishop of Antioch in the last half of the second century. Attempt by apologist to claim that Theophilus is actually a group of people, and not one individual, fall far short of making any sense.
        2. The style of writing is very much like that of second century Roman novels. Especially in Acts with its ship-wrecks and narrow escapes of the hero.
        3. In the opening we are told that “many” have already written narratives of the life of Jesus (actually no one ever wrote a narrative of the life of Jesus, unless you count one year at the end of his life as a narrative of his life. News Flash! God walks among men for over 30 years. Does nothing noteworthy.) Since there could only have been two canonical gospels in existence at the time the many could only be referring to the non-canonical gospels such as Judas, Thomas, Peter, etc., which were written well into the second century.
        4. Papias, between 120 and 130, mentions only Mark and Mathew. He says that Mark had many things in his gospel that were in the wrong order – or something to that effect. There is nothing in the Mark known to us that would suggest this is the case. So he must have been talking about an earlier form of Mark. He says that Matthew was written in Hebrew, which modern scholars say was never the case. So he obviously didn’t know the gospel of Matthew that we have now. He never mentions Luke or Acts at all. But Papias does mention a legend of the death of Judas which is quite similar to the account found in Luke. This I believe shows that Luke probably got his account – and cleaned it up for public consumption – from the writings of Papias. So Luke and Acts must be of a later date than the writings of Papias.
        5. The gospel of Luke bears all the markings of being a redacted document and is probably a rewriting of the shorter ur-Lukas that Marcion the heretic had in his possession. If this is true it would mean that Luke/Acts was written after Marcion was sent packing by the church; around 140 if I recall.

        • Thanks

        • Greg G.

          2. The style of writing is very much like that of second century Roman novels. Especially in Acts with its ship-wrecks and narrow escapes of the hero.

          Much of Paul’s shipwreck in Acts parallels Josephus’ shipwreck in his autobiography. The part where Paul starts bossing everybody around during the sinking sounds like it came from a novel, though.

          3. [snip] Since there could only have been two canonical gospels in existence at the time the many could only be referring to the non-canonical gospels such as Judas, Thomas, Peter, etc., which were written well into the second century.

          I think a version of Thomas was a source for Mark, Matthew, and Luke. Elaine Pagels, et al, say the Gospel of John was a response to Thomas. I think Luke used Mark, Matthew, John, and Thomas.

          5. The gospel of Luke bears all the markings of being a redacted document and is probably a rewriting of the shorter ur-Lukas that Marcion the heretic had in his possession. If this is true it would mean that Luke/Acts was written after Marcion was sent packing by the church; around 140 if I recall.

          I haven’t focused on this theory very much but my preliminary investigation points toward Marcion’s gospel being a redaction of Luke. Where Marcion’s gospel looks like Mark, Luke looks more like Mark. The motive for the changes look Marcionic, that is, they make more sense if Luke was changed to Marcion’s gospel than if Marcion’s gospel was used to create Luke. I don’t sense a concerted effort to make our Luke to be more Markan.

          4. [snip] But Papias does mention a legend of the death of Judas which is quite similar to the account found in Luke. This I believe shows that Luke probably got his account – and cleaned it up for public consumption – from the writings of Papias. So Luke and Acts must be of a later date than the writings of Papias.

          That might work for Acts. I think I recall the Papias’ account of Judas, so I can see where you are going with that. Interesting! Food for thought! I’m going to look at that some more.

          So, I think Luke was probably pre-Marcion and Acts may have been post-Papias, AFIACT.

        • The gospel of John is a response to Thomas? But Thomas was quite small, right? With Thomas being noncanonical today, it’s easy to dismiss it, but perhaps its popularity made its size irrelevant.

        • Pofarmer

          Thomas is considered small and generally late, which means Mark might also be later than generally thought.

        • Greg G.

          Thomas is considered late because many scholars are committed to the primacy of the gospels. Thomas is considered to be Gnostic and they cannot conceive that early Christianity was rather Gnostic.

          Some argue that Thomas was early and a source for the gospels. In my quest to find the sources for passages in the gospels, some verses look very much like Sayings from Thomas and most have no other parallel in the literature. It seems unlikely that if Thomas was derived from the gospels that the compiler would be able to anticipate the ones where the source would not exist 2000 years later. It is more reasonable that the gospel authors took the passages from the version of Thomas that existed at the time.

  • lorasinger

    Moss, Candida (2013-03-05). The Myth of Persecution: How Early Christians Invented a Story of Martyrdom
    …………………….
    The problem with forged martyr stories was so widespread that in the seventeenth century a Dutch Jesuit priest named Héribert Rosweyde began to sort through the European manuscripts that preserved the earliest stories of the martyrs. From the fourth century on,there was a veritable explosion in the production of stories about martyrs. Bolland. The Society of Bollandists, as they came to be known, spent the next three centuries culling the corpus of hagiographical literature. In the end, they decided that only a handful of stories were historically reliable. The rest—the vast majority— had been thoroughly edited or had simply been made up.. In fact,there is no evidence outside of legend that any of the apostles died as martyrs. Even the apostle Paul, Clement writes at the turn of the second century, went to the far reaches of the west (Sprain) and died there.

    • MNb

      As a Dutchman I wondered why I never have heard of Rosweyde and Bolland, but the explanation is easy. Rosweyde was born in Utrecht, The Netherlands indeed, but moved at a young age to Flanders (the city of Douai now is French). Bolland was Flemish.

      • lorasinger

        I’d never heard of them either and your information is a plus. What is the difference in origin between the Dutch and Flemish. I ask because a friend of our many years ago was a half and half and I’m curious.

        • MNb

          Flemish are Belgian and hence belong to another country. Belgium is just south of the Netherlands. Though we share a lot of history Belgium and the Netherlands have only been united for 2 x 15 years in two different centuries.
          Given his year of birth I speculate that Rosweyde during the Dutch rebellion, which officially started in 1568 (unofficially in 1566 …. in a city that is now French), as a catholic chose the side of Spain, out of dislike for calvinism.

    • Greg G.

      The rain in Sprain
      falls mainly on the pain.

    • Without Malice

      Good point about Paul. The story in Acts about Paul’s arrest has always seemed spurious to me. Here we have a Roman citizen – Paul – about to be lynched by a Jewish mob, and the Roman citizen is the one who gets arrested? And what’s with Paul and all the people he seems to know in positions of power? And why the hell didn’t the “many thousands” of Jewish Christians pointed to in the story come to Paul’s aid? The whole damn thing sounds fishy as hell.

      • lorasinger

        You’re right. There is a whole lot more to the story. Paul would have had some sort of Libelius to identify him as a Roman citizen. What makes this interesting is that the Libelius was given to the more privileged Romans outside of Rome, so there is no question that he was a Roman citizen. However, Jews were not allowed full citizenship in Rome before 212 AD so there are a lot of questions there.
        .
        There is a very good book called “Christ’s Ventriloquists” (E.Zuesse) that works off Paul’s writings especially Acts and Galatians, specifically covering the events leading up to and surrounding the Antioch incident where Paul is accused of teaching his followers to turn their backs on Moses law – something that entails a great deal more than just what the words alone convey. It’s slow reading but very fascinating.

      • Greg G.

        It should sound fishy. Paul was arrested because the arresting officer thought he was Egyptian, as in Acts 21:38 which combines three passages in close proximity from Josephus about three different people.

        Acts 21:38 Aren’t you then the Egyptian[1], who before these days stirred up to sedition and led out into the wilderness[2] the four thousand men of the Assassins[3]?”

        [1] Antiquities of the Jews 20.8.6
        [2] Antiquities of the Jews 20.8.6
        [3] Antiquities of the Jews 20.8.5, 10

        Then compare these coincidences with Vita (Life of Josephus) 3

        Procurator of Judea was Felix (Acts 24:2)
        Jewish religious leaders (Paul in Acts vs. priests in the Josephus account)
        Felix imprisons Jewish religious leaders (Acts 24:27)
        Prisoners are sent to Rome (Acts 25:10-12)
        The Jewish religious leaders are unjustly accused (Acts 24-26)
        Both sail to Rome (Acts 27:1)
        The trip is to undo the injustice done (Acts 25:11)
        The ship sinks (Acts 27:41-44)
        In the Adriatic Sea (Acts 27:27)
        Josephus and Paul become leaders (Acts 27:31-38)
        Everybody lives (Acts 27:44)
        They go through Puteoli (Acts 28:13-14)

    • Pofarmer

      Is my understanding correct that there isn’t even any evidence Peter was ever in Rome?

      • lorasinger

        None that I know of, outside of Church tradition and even in Paul’s writings, he mentions those he meets in Rome but Peter is never mentioned. Peter remained a Jew and his arena would be much different than Paul’s after the Antioch incident where the apostles were preaching Judaism to Jews and Paul was preaching his Christianity to gentiles.

  • DanD

    Even if they were executed, who’s to say that they were executed for preaching Christianity?

    Take, for instance, one of the ones that the early source has as dying of old age. Simon Zealotes. Zealot. A Jewish sect dedicated to the overthrow and expulsion of Rome from Judea. I don’t think it’s much of a stretch to assume that he might have ended up crucified after the first Jewish Roman war, if he made it that long.

    You’ve got a recently unsettled region (Herod’s destruction of the prior power structure, followed by Rome’s assumption of direct rule). You’ve got a Roman government that is getting less and less happy with the more extreme elements of any monotheistic religion, including Judaism, and vice versa. It’s hardly stretching to assume that some people who spent part of their lives following around a messianic street preacher would fall afoul of Roman authorities based on their beliefs in Yaweh, no belief in the divinity of Jesus required.

  • TCG

    Okay thanks for the answer to my last question but my beliefs still stand… Sorry I edited this

  • Zachariah ​†

    The 9/11 hijackers are not the same as the original apostles of Yeshua. For they have no clue of anything, but the originals lived to see his death and resurrection. But I know what your response to this will be. “It’s all fake.” Which is a hilariously funny argument not worth a rebuttal. It makes you adopt too far of an extreme form of skepticism. Which I mean go ahead and preach that unregulated skepticism if you want. But it doesn’t work to compel the Christian argument.

    • What original apostles of Yeshua? Were the authors of the gospels original apostles? Maybe, maybe not.

      The NT may be more like the 9/11 hijackers than you think.

      “It’s all fake.” Which is a hilariously funny argument not worth a rebuttal.

      I don’t get it. What’s all fake? I say that the gospel story is legend. Is there a better response that I should be using?