Did Jesus Really Exist?

Discussion in 'Off-Topic Discussions' started by paynedaniel, Mar 15, 2005.

  1. Guest

    Guest Guest

    Re: 10 Questions Reply

    Really??? Not from what I understand. He may have been into some mysticism (some evidence of that) but not in God as we understand it. In fact, although he did eventually accept the idea that the Protestant and Catholic Church were there to stay, he tried for quite a while to replace Christianity with a religion that worshipped the German Nation and culture. For many, he became a god like replacement for traditonal religion like Papa Joe did.

    Stalin and Hitler were more on the other end of things (atheism/agnosticism) as opposed to belief in God. Please understand, I am in no way implying that to be atheist or agnostic is synonymous with Hitler or Stalin.

    As to the questions of whether Jesus ever existed..........puhlease. To paraphrase Josh McDowell, no one with any intellectual honesty questions that. What is up for debate for many is exactly who he was. Itinerant rabbi, son of God, completely human philosopher, religious nut, etc. Also, up for debate for many is what exactly scripture means in terms of its accuracy, how much is written (New Testament) with the hyperbole present in much of Jewish writing (see books by Bishop Spong for a liberal perspective).

    Without looking, I think someone said Christian scripture was myth. Again, this is an anti intellectual statement. Even a very liberal critic has to admit the number of times historians debated the historicity of the accounts in the bible only to have cultures and civilizations embarrassingly turn up. These folks would run down the biblical account only to have it turn out to be true. This is not to say that there are not still historical accounts in the bible that are debated for accuracy (existence of Joseph, etc).

    Don't let anti Christian bigotry obscure objectivity.

  2. Mr. Engineer

    Mr. Engineer member

    Good argument North

    However, other than a rough history book, can you prove that anything in the least is the word of god (other than your faith - which is not proof, merely an opinion)? While I don't dispute that a man named Jesus Christ existed, I personally think he is no more the son of god than Jimmy.

    Christianity itself is a bigoted religion. From their shills about gay marriage, to their views on birth control/death penalty etc. If god did in fact create us, then it (I don't think god is a he or she - or anything like that at all) created all of us no matter what form we take.

    Pay: I believe religion gives strength. However, in MY opinion, the belief in a book that was NOT even written at the time when Jesus lived and base an entire religion around it is much like basing an entire religion on an episode of Gilligan's Island.

    This is why I am a Deist - I am a thinking individual not easily sucked into what I believe to be artificial religious ceremonies and "ancient texts" (I don't believe in tea leaves either). I know the theologues on the board don't agree with that stance - but is that really my problem?
  3. paynedaniel

    paynedaniel New Member

    Re: Re: 10 Questions Reply


    Though I am not trying to call into question McDowell's intelligence, I think Christians can do a bit better when using a scholar to represent their beliefs. McDowell does as many atheist apologists do - use the information which is useful for their argument, and ignore the rest.

    Someone did imply that scripture was myth, and I agree, that is an anti-intellectual statement if by myth they mean completely false. If by myth, they mean (as C.S. Lewis often did) stories based on some semblance of historical happening, then the use of the word "myth" is appropriate in reference to scripture.
    I don't think any rational person believes scripture is completely false and made up. But many Christians believe as I do, that scripture is a series of stories and records of how an ancient people viewed God and their supposed relationship to him.

    As to the support of archaeology for scripture - it's true that science has supported many things in scripture. That's to be expected if scripture is based somewhat on history. But it's also honest to say that science has discounted quite a bit of scripture as well.

    But the thread is about the existence of Jesus, not the reliability of scripture. We digress:)

  4. Guest

    Guest Guest

    Re: Re: Re: 10 Questions Reply

    Hey Daniel,

    I will continue to digress somewhat.

    Frankly, I am fascinated by new perspectives (whether I agree with them or not). This is why I was disgusted (as were other evangelicals) by the behavior of ETS in censoring the Open Theism debate. Boyd, Pinnock and others have taken a pounding on this and been called heretics, and probably worse. God gave us minds to use and I am not impressed by the attempt to stop this legitmate debate when OT is routing their arguments in scripture.

    I have really enjoyed reading liberal Christians such as Shelby Spong and his exposition of midrashic elements in the New Testament. As you mention, what has been added onto the historical fact of Jesus is an interesting question. I do not agree with all he says and he makes some arguments in his book against fundamentalism thathave holes big enough to drive a truck through. Another interesting book is Moses by Jonathon Kirsch (attorney). He makes a fascinating case for looking at the life of Moses with new eyes and logical reasons for questioning the historicity of the OT account. In fact his delving into midrashic literature in the book is fascinating. I also enjoy Rabbi Kushner's books and his liberal perspective on theology and purpose ebhind the coming out in the garden of eden. Again, I may not agree but I enjoy the intellectual debate.

  5. Morten

    Morten New Member

    Re: Re: 10 Questions Reply

    I think it could be interesting to take a look at what Hitler wrote in his book "Mein Kampf":

    "Hence today I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator: by defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord."

    "I had so often sung 'Deutschland u:ber Alles' and shouted 'Heil' at the top of my lungs, that it seemed to me almost a belated act of grace to be allowed to stand as a witness in the divine court of the eternal judge and proclaim the sincerity of this conviction."

    "The greatness of Christianity did not lie in attempted negotiations for compromise with any similar philosophical opinions in the ancient world, but in its inexorable fanaticism in preaching and fighting for its own doctrine."

    "A man who knows a thing, who is aware of a given danger, and sees the possibility of a remedy with his own eyes, has the duty and obligation, by God, not to work 'silently,' but to stand up before the whole public against the evil and for its cure."

    And of course there is also the "Got mit uns" (God is with us) inscription on the belt buckles of the German uniforms. His views on Christianity may have been different from yours but it seems that he percieved himself as a Christian.
  6. Re: Re: So what are we supposed to believe?

    I assume you are referring to the planet, not the Roman god-version of Hades?

    Note that I said "or otherwise observed", which "otherwise" would include the observations of telescopes and astronomers who most certainly have seen the planet Pluto. So, yes, I believe it exists since there is scientific evidence to that effect.

    Hope that clarifies things?
    - Carl
  7. Bill Grover

    Bill Grover New Member

  8. BrianH

    BrianH Member

    I might, when I have time, post a thread on the dating of the four gospels. Having said that, is there a reason why you say 50 years?

    I will also add my view that is stated earlier. The gospels could (could)reflect the prevailing Pauline view of Christianity. In other words, if the influences of the earliest "Jewish Christians" had already waned because of the fall of Jerusalem....could we not have history written by the prevailing side(Pauline/gentile Christianity) as opposed to the message delivered by Jesus, faithfully continued by James, Peter, and John until the more successful missionary, Paul, prevailed.....
    I think I need to post my views at length...I will try to do this soon..
    thank you
  9. marilynd

    marilynd New Member

    Re: re:

    I'm not sure that I understand what you have written here. It certainly does not conform to the nature of Christian / non-Christian debates in the early church. "Mythology" and "reconstruction of a messiah-like personality" are modern concepts. I'm not sure how they are germaine here.

    If you're interested. Morton Smith published a book 20 or so years ago entitled Jesus the Magician, which studies how Jesus was discribed by non-Christians and anti-Christians in the ancient world.

  10. marilynd

    marilynd New Member

    Actually, I was trying to make a point about the inanity of the "Hitler believed in God" comment.

    But I must admit that I did think that Stalin did not believe in God, at least in practice, since I knew that he had attended seminary. My knowledge of Stalin, however, is pretty much limited to Alan Bullock and other westerners (with Nikita's memoirs thrown in). I am happy to learn of Rayfield's book, which I will certainly put on my reading list.

    Goody, goody! Another book to read.

    Thanks, Uncle.


  11. uncle janko

    uncle janko member

    Sure. The book's a peach. It really is. Taubman's new biography of Hrushchiw is also a winner.

    Morten is also correct; his quotations could be multiplied. That Austrian appears to have been a deist on Darwinist and late-Romantic steroids. His supposedly atheist comments to Martin Bormann are either a late shift in views or playing to a private audience.

    The quantitatively greatest mass-murderer of all, Mao Zedong (for him I'll use pinyin), seems to have been totally without any belief in God or in Tian, period.

    No wonder that his reputation remains highest (of the three) in the American academy, while it's a bit more difficult to find folks to stick up for Joseph Vissarionovich, and that Austrian is at the moment without many open defenders at all.

    A few more centuries, and it will become debatable, and then a truism, that none of them killed anybody.

    Look at the horrific glamourisation of guzastag Alexander the "Great".

    Exterminate enough people and no one will question your existence.

    Oh, good.


    Now this thread needs to turn back to Jesus!

  12. marilynd

    marilynd New Member

    Re: Re: Re: Re: 10 Questions Reply

    Perhaps, but I don't think that's what drives the passion. What drives the passion is zealotry, which is common to converts. In my experience, it's a quite common phenomenon indeed, regardless of what one has been converted to.

    Actually, Islam's climb to dominance was often quite bloody. They conquered the Middle East, North Africa, Spain, and would have taken the rest of Europe if they had not been stopped in France. They did all of this in less than a century largely, though not entirely, by means of WAR.


  13. marilynd

    marilynd New Member

    Re: Re: Re: So what are we supposed to believe?

    Actually, I have empirical evidence that Pluto exists . . . . . . . . a picture of him standing next to me at Disneyland.


  14. Ian Anderson

    Ian Anderson Active Member

    I agree. It's hay fever time in my area which causes me to sneeze a lot. I get a lot of "bless you" from strangers.
  15. BillDayson

    BillDayson New Member

    Re: Re: 10 Questions Reply

    You've called me intellectually dishonest in the past, so I guess that I have nothing to lose now.

    As I said in my first post to this thread, I don't really actively deny that somebody named Jesus once existed. But I don't consider it absolutely certain either.

    Obviously the same thing could be said for many ancient figures. The fact is that our knowledge of the distant past is sketchy to say the least. Many of the Hellenistic philosophers are only known today through fragments recorded in secondary sources. It's conceivable that any one of these people never existed.

    Actually, raising these skeptical questions occasionally is probably valuable. It reminds us that our knowledge of Jesus is a historical question as well as an article of religious faith. And it reminds us that we need to remain cognizant of the provenence of all of our beliefs.

    I think that question is probably more interesting.

    Even if we accept for the sake of argument that a man named Jesus once existed, Christ might not have existed, God's human incarnation might not have existed and man's Savior might not have existed.

    These questions are where it becomes more relevant to us that all of our accounts of Jesus come from sources within the early Christian movement, and that they all seem expressly intended to present an interpretation of Jesus' significance as that movement understood it. (Or at least as the Pauline party within that movement wanted it understood.)

    And these questions are where history is least equipped to help us. History can't provide us with any criteria to judge whether something or somebody is divine or not.

    I said that in so many words when I pointed out that the gospel stories (like the stories of other religions' founders) weren't just an objective and dispassionate chronology of stuff that simply happened.

    These writings are collections of illustrations that were intended to communicate religious meaning. Jesus is portrayed as delivering a teaching, fulfilling a prophecy, or acting out his death drama. Everything that Jesus is portrayed as doing is significant.

    The same thing is true in the Tripitaka. Events in the Buddha's life aren't just recounted because they happened, they are there because they illustrate his teaching.

    Though countless books have been written about myth, I think that a concise definition might be: "A narrative through which religious affirmations and beliefs are expressed." (I borrowed that from the first line of the article on 'myth' in the 'Oxford Concise Dictionary of World Religions'.) The gospels certainly seem to satisy that little definition.

    It isn't necessary that myth be historically false. True events can be interpreted as having religious meaning, after all. Nor is it impossible for people to write edifying stories by adapting historical figures and locales. Historical figures can be made to say and do what faith says that they said and did. And obviously many myths seem to have little or no historical truth content at all. It's a spectrum, from 100% to zero, with all points in between.

    The dictionary article makes the interesting point that for some religions, the historical truth of the narrative is of little account so long that the moral of the story expresses a religious truth. So for example, some religions have several inconsistent creation accounts and the inconsistency doesn't really bother anyone at all, because they are all true.

    But the Hebrews are particularly notable for tying their myths closely to historical events, essentially collapsing their myth and their history together. The early Christians, being Jews after all, obviously followed them in that.

    That leaves scholars today with the task of dissecting the historical facts out from among all the edifying story. You see all kinds of attempts, not least the two hundred years or more of searches for the "historical Jesus".

    But my feeling is that most of these historical Jesuses (Jesi?) are highly imaginative re-creations that exist to illustrate some scholar's own ideas of what Jesus was (or should have been). So we have things like the social-revolutionary Jesus.

    Personally, I question how successful these attempts can be. I suspect that literal objective truth is so inextricably intertwined with expressions of religious purposes that the two can never be cleanly separated.

    I admit that there's more than enough anti-Christian passion to go around in this thread. (See my post on atheists.) But all that noise shouldn't obscure the fact that the questions here are of real interest.
  16. CB3

    CB3 New Member

    Hi there :) I think this is a great thread to discuss the existence of Jesus Christ.
    I would like to suggest the following non-christian historians and writers:

    Thallus (circa A.D. 52); Josephus (circa A.D. 64-93)(I know you contest this one); Cornelius Tacitus (A.D. 64-116); Pliny the Younger (circa A.D. 112); Hadrian (circa A.D. 117-138); Suetonius (circa A.D. 120); Phlegon (circa A.D. 140); Lucian of Samosata (circa A.D. 170); and Mara Bar-Serapion (circa A.D. 70)

    I believe if you study and research these writers they may be able to provide truths and answer some questions you may have that need to be answered. I also encourage you to read an once-athiest and is well-known. Ralph O. Muncaster found through many years of research that hundreds of prophecies in the Old Testament that came true in every single detail in the person, life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ was undeniable and compelling (proof-positive) evidence that Jesus Christ was truly who He claimed to be. Mr. Muncaster’s book, A Skeptic’s Search for God. I hope I have been helpful in your quest to find the truth.
  17. BrianH

    BrianH Member

    Re: Re: Did Jesus Really Exist?

    A link that discusses Thallus

    A quote from that article:
    "We know next to nothing about Thallus or his works. We don't even know if he wrote only one book or several. The only information we have about him, even his name, comes entirely from Christian apologetic sources beginning in the late 2nd century"

    I happen to think Josephus does mention Jesus, with a pretty major interpolation though

    I can post at length on the prophecies and what they prove or disprove. I will just say this:
    The writers of the gospels were well versed, well an argument can be made that the author of Matthew was well versed in misrepresentation, and as part of their midrashic tradition would apply deeds and words to Jesus that they had gleaned from the OT.
    Short version of that argument.
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 16, 2005
  18. CB3

    CB3 New Member


    I truly love the subject of prophecy. There are over forty-seven prophecies in the Old Testament concerning the death of Christ on the cross, all of which were literally fulfilled. For example, the prophecy: Sold with 30 pieces of silver, Zack. 11:12, the fullfilment: Matt. 26: 15. Once again, prophecy: Given vinegar in His thirst, Psa. 59: 21, the fulfillment: Matt. 27: 34. Prophecy: Not one of His bones was broken, Ex. 12: 46-Psa. 34: 20, fulfillment: John 19: 33-36.

    I can go on and on with these prophecies and they are 100% accurate. I would think if one would research the OT seriously he or she will find these prophecies very interesting. All these prophecies and more were written about the life, sacrifice and death of Jesus Christ, hundreds of years before any of these events happened.
  19. BrianH

    BrianH Member

    A link for anyone interested


    Your post does not really address what I said, not that it had to of course....
    The writers of those books knew the OT.
    Could they have applied these passages to the life of Jesus?

    In other words this sentence:

    "All these prophecies and more were written about the life, sacrifice and death of Jesus Christ, hundreds of years before any of these events happened."

    All these prophecies and more were well known to the writers of the four gospels and were applied to the life, sacrifice and death of Jesus Christ more than four decades after he lived.


    Just a thought
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 16, 2005
  20. Bill Grover

    Bill Grover New Member

    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 16, 2005

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