Did Jesus Really Exist?

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

  1. tadj

    tadj Active Member

    I would only take issue with Casey's comment about Christian apologists. I think that it's an overly generalized statement. Christian apologetics is a very large community. You can find some very open-minded and educated people among them, people who will gladly interact with non-conservative views. But you can also find the sort of people that he describes. I also find it interesting that Jesus mythicism is promoted almost exclusively among former fundamentalist Christians in America, people who have taken the exit route and now treat all gospel claims as pure fabrication.
  2. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    Just that if a guy who did all of those things in public, was a very public figure in a very prominent city, and died by execution might have left some direct evidence of all of that. That's it. As for the other stories--the healing, raising the dead, feeding the wedding party, walking on water, resurrection--well, I'd really like to see the evidence for it, too. That would be awesome.
  3. Maniac Craniac

    Maniac Craniac Moderator Staff Member

    I see.

    What would work for "direct" evidence?

    Compare: the only evidence we have for the existence of Pontius Pilate are secondary sources originating from places other than where he lived, dated many years after he died. Principal among them being the new testament and the writings of the historian Josephus- two of the same sources that attest to Jesus.

    What I'm trying to make sense of is how the same type of sources- in multiple cases, the exact same sources- are good enough to make Pontius Pilate's existence a slam dunk, but aren't good enough to prove that Jesus existed.

    What's the difference?
  4. tadj

    tadj Active Member

    You guys might want to consider the following books. The first one is still academic, but more approachable for non-specialist readers. It also follows a more logical argument outline and deals with a vast number of objections. Levering's book requires a bit more background knowledge.

    - Investigating the Resurrection of Jesus Christ: A New Transdisciplinary Approach (Routledge New Critical Thinking in Religion, Theology and Biblical Studies)
    by Andrew Loke
    Published by Routledge in 2020

    - Did Jesus Rise from the Dead? Historical and Theological Reflections
    by Matthew Levering
    Published by Oxford University Press in 2019

    Last edited: Sep 25, 2020
  5. heirophant

    heirophant Well-Known Member

    That raises interesting questions in religious epistemology. How does one perceive.... divinity?

    I can imagine using a time-machine to visit ancient Galilee and (assuming he existed and we could recognize him) approaching Jesus face to face. That raises its own difficult problems concerning the reference of proper names. What if several people named 'Jesus' existed in Galilee but none of them precisely match the descriptions that we have from religious tradition? But I'll ignore those kind of problem for purposes of this post.

    Fine, if we find Jesus (and recognize him when we see him) then we would have verified his existence. But how would we verify that he was Christ? How would we verify that he was some kind of unique incarnation of God? How would we verify that he was indeed mankind's Savior? What kind of "direct evidence" would serve as evidence of that?

    That's true of all historical figures, even contemporary ones that we aren't personally familiar with, but especially ancient ones. I'm personally more interested in Hellenistic philosophers than I am in Jesus, but many of the same issues arise. The writings of many of the philosophers of this period have been almost entirely lost and the only reason that we have to believe that they existed at all is that they are mentioned by other ancient authors such as Diogenes Laertius, perhaps centuries later. And in some cases we know that these later authors sometimes got things wrong and aren't entirely reliable.

    I think that most scholars kind of assume that these earlier figures really did exist as a working hypothesis. They certainly don't just flatly deny their existence since they have no evidence that they didn't exist, apart from some skeptical historiographical doubts. But they can't say that they know with 100% certainty that these individuals existed either. We know next to nothing about the people that these philosophers were, and their names today largely serve as labels for the originators of the ideas that (truly or falsely) were later attributed to them. So the man starts to be replaced by a function.

    And in Jesus case the emphasis is once again on the function rather than the man. The question isn't so much whether some guy named 'Jesus' actually existed and walked around Galilee, it's whether Christ existed, whether God's human incarnation actually existed, whether mankind's Savior actually existed. So the question in the case of Jesus isn't the kind of question that history (or humanity?) is equipped to answer. It's a matter of religious faith, I guess.
  6. SteveFoerster

    SteveFoerster Resident Gadfly Staff Member

    I wanted to joke that there weren't any guys named "Jesus" wandering around Galilee at that time since the figure under discussion was actually named "Yeshua", but I realized that would be missing your point on purpose. :)
  7. Lerner

    Lerner Well-Known Member

    Cyrus is called Christ-Messiah anointed.

    So not only purpose but also the meaning of Christ.
    I the Hebrew bible its an anointed King flash and blood. And in prophecy, the Christ-Messiah that was expected by the Jews was to be a King that the G-d of Israel will be with him. IN way like with Moshe - Moses.
    In some prophecy, he is David (interpreted a descendant of King David, a man after YHWH heart). And the meaning is that Christ King will have EL YHWH dwell in Israel again and it will be said ImanuEL, which is G-d is with us.
    Not that the anointed king will be the G-d but that the G-d will be with Him. But YHWH TZIDKAINU - YHWH our righteousness, this will be a great prince, and YHWH will be with Him.
    In the name Yeshua - the Ye stands for YHWH.

    The fact that Talmud supports the existence of Yeshua (without going to details of negative tec) adds to it. And all the early papyruses fragments that bare witness.
    As to the people with this name they indeed existed.
    As the Simcha Yakobovich
    Unearthed in 1980, what is now known as the Talpiot Tomb, opened a Pandora's box 27 years after its discovery. The film “The Lost Tomb of Jesus” released by James Cameron and Simcha Jacobovici caused an uproar throughout the world claiming this tomb could be the tomb of Jesus of Nazareth and his family. “Unearthed” takes an objective look at the issue.
    He points this Yeshua was married to Mary (Magdalen?).
    We know contradicts as its not mentioned in any of the gospels of the NT.
    Maniac Craniac likes this.
  8. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    I'm going to pass. Not out of any disrespect to you. Not at all. But we're now getting into the subject beyond my depth. I'll have to leave it to others. Thanks. Oh, except to say if the existence of Pontius Pilate is disproved, it doesn't PROVE the existence of anyone else, regardless of source. (I believe there is physical evidence of Pilate and his governorship.)
    Maniac Craniac likes this.
  9. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    Found on a bathroom wall in La Bella Pizza restaurant in Chula Vista, California, each line written in a different hand:

    Jesus is the answer.
    What's the question?
    Who was the third Alou brother?
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  10. Maniac Craniac

    Maniac Craniac Moderator Staff Member

    Just to be clear, my posts we're about the historical flesh and blood Jesus, not Jesus as the Christ, Son of God, prophet or miracle worker.

    Separate from any particular faith, I agree that the question is interesting, even confounding. If extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, do miraculous claims require miraculous evidence? If so, then we find ourselves in infinite regress, trying to prove miracles by other miracles by other miracles, etc.

    We could use the thought experiment where we start off assuming that a miraculous claim is true, then try to figure out just how the heck to prove it. Where could we even start???

    The most tried and true method mankind has ever invented for discovering objective knowledge is the scientific method, which requires two of the very things that, by definition, miracles lack- measurement and repetition. It also assumes that the underlying rules that govern existence either don't change at all, or only change according to higher sets of rules that never change.

    Miracles flout all those rules. They also require a certain lack of explanation- as soon as you can explain it, it's no longer a miracle.
  11. Lerner

    Lerner Well-Known Member

    Will fragments of papyrus from the 1st century be admitted as evidence? How about the Tlpiyot tomb?

    Extra biblical controversial and debated "Testimonium Flavianum":

    In Rome, in the year 93 AD, the Roman historian Flavius Josephus published his extensive history of the Jews.

  12. Johann

    Johann Well-Known Member

    Lerner, I don't doubt the existence of Jesus at all. I will admit there are a LOT of gaps in the story, though. For example, His entire life between ages 12-30. And things written in the Bible attributed to Jesus that He could absolutely NOT have done or said in the time and place where He lived. E.g. the story of the woman taken in adultery. It's 500 years out of the timeline. Many reasons, including the fact that in Jesus' day BOTH of the adulterous couple would have been punished together. Always. That was the law.

    It has been confirmed that the particular story was started by marginal entries of scribes copying the books that comprise the Bible. One scribe told a fanciful story as an example of what he thought Jesus might do in that situation - other scribes later inserted the story whole-hog into the text. Presto. Fable becomes fact, even though it is historically impossible.

    The Bible appears to be full of contradictions like that. It's a valuable book, even so - but I prefer scholarship to slavish, blind worship of a faulty text. Scholars can get at the many worthwhile things in the Bible better than the literalists - those who believe every word - even though their understanding of it might be a bit rickety.

    Although I'm not a Christian, (or member of any religion) I have long been interested in the historical Jesus. And I believe He existed, but many mistakes were made in accounts of His life, long after His death.. The naysayers would (rightly) refute your remarks about Flavius Josephus, the Roman-Jewish historian. It's hearsay evidence. Flavius Josephus wasn't there. He was writing about something he was told, or had read. Not that he isn't still an interesting writer and was a learned man. I believe much of what he said happened. But what he said doesn't cut it, if you're looking for proof.

    It's sort of like the reverse of atheism. The nonexistence of G*d cannot be proven. You have to take it on faith. :)
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2020
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  13. Lerner

    Lerner Well-Known Member

    Talpiot. Interesting documentary.
  14. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    Roll away the stone
    Don't leave me here alone
    Resurrect me and protect me
    Don't leave me laying here
    What will they do in two thousand years?
    -- Leon Russell
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  15. TeacherBelgium

    TeacherBelgium Active Member

    I hope he does exist :-(
    My former neighbor got hit by a truck on the parking lot of the supermarket yesterday. She didn't make it. I hope she didn't suffer and that Jesus will welcome her in his arms. She was such a good woman and I will dearly miss her ❤️

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