It feels like here lately a growing number of fellow freethinkers are jumping on the bandwagon of an intellectual position that hasn’t yet earned credibility. Rather than concluding that the New Testament simply exaggerated the size and scope of the Christian church during its earliest years, people are jumping all the way to the opposite ditch and concluding that every single thing contained therein must have been made up entirely. But the many contradictions and variations we encounter within the gospels (and noncanonical books) point to the unreliability of the sources, but not necessarily to the complete nonexistence of their central figure. And while the oldest extant copies of Paul’s letters date back to nearly a century after the time that he wrote them, we posess no variants of those letters which leave out the credal statements referenced above, leaving us with the reality of an early attestation (mid-first-century) of the existence of Jesus. There’s a method to determining these things, and a pretty thoroughly developed academic discipline underneath it all. It doesn’t speak well of us to dismiss whole disciplines with the wave of a hand on account of two or three of its members finally suggesting something we wanted to believe all along.
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