The youtuber who posted this video said:
“Watch this atheist get beat up by an agnostic on the historical Jesus. LOL it..”

The video is an interview with Bart Ehrman by the Infidel Guy. In general, I really like Bart Ehrman; but, he certainly flubbed this interview. I agree that the Infidel Guy did not know enough about the subject to call Ehrman on his flubs. I do not completely disagree with Ehrman about the historical Jesus. There could have been a real person called Jesus. But, Ehrman is wrong to deny that it is not also possible and actually quite likely that Jesus was completely mythical. Here are just three things that Ehrman said that made me roll my eyes.

Ehrman:  “I don’t think there are any serious historians who doubt that Jesus existed, there are a lot of people who want to write sensational books and make a lot of money.”

Few “serious” historians also doubt the existence of Zoroaster, Buddha, the Old Testament prophets, etc. Questioning the existence of these characters is a new trend in historical research because the modern history writing fashion began in the 19th century with “serious” historians who did not question the existence of Moses, Abraham, or God. The reason so few “serious” historians question the existence of ancient religious figures is because the modern history writing of the late 19th century and early 20th century was dominated by some very obtuse people. The more critical thinkers of the Age of Enlightenment were replaced in the 19th century by those inspired by the beginnings of archaeological research. The early forays of Europeans in West Asia, Egypt, and the Mediterranean turned up artifacts that were interpreted as evidence that Bible stories were true or at least symbolically true. Later 20th century historians were faced with a mountainous task of disproving the earlier history. “Facts” in history are established by consensus; so, eradicating a false “fact” means persuading the consensus to change its mind. But, just because a lot of people believe something doesn’t make it true, even if those people are “serious” historians.

Ehrman’s second point begs the question: Do sensational books about the non-existence of Jesus make a lot of money? No. Bart Ehrman is making much more money with his book about the historical Jesus than authors who claim Jesus was a mythical character. Ehrman will probably sell more copies of his book than all mythicist books put together. Which movie made more money: “The God Who Wasn’t There” or “The Passion of Christ” flick? From a marketing perspective, Bart Ehrman made a smart choice to write about the historical Jesus rather than the mythical Jesus, because most people believe Jesus existed. Just because a lot of people believe something doesn’t make it true; but, it is easier to sell them a book that appeals to their beliefs.

Ehrman:  “What hardcore evidence is there that Julius Caesar existed?”

Maybe Ehrman just had a brain fart and couldn’t think of a better example off the top of his head; but, the evidence that Julius Caesar existed is better than the evidence for Paul, who no one doubts existed because he wrote letters. Julius Caesar wrote two books that are still read to this day and some other books that were cited in ancient sources. Also, Julius Caesar was a political figure and Jesus was a religious figure, claimed to be a god. Mythical gods were the central objects of worship in all ancient cults; so, the likelihood of Jesus being a mythical character is much greater than a political figure, like Julius Caesar. Also, all the stories about Jesus life are mythical tales. Jesus never wrote anything. His words are in the form of speeches, presented within the mythical tales about him. Ancient authors regularly made up speeches for the characters in their stories; both for real people and for fictional characters. So, the existence of those speeches is not evidence that Jesus existed.

And, many of the “historical” figures who “serious” historians believe existed are probably also mythical characters. Many of the legends about ancient kings, queens, and royal children are mythical tales. Gilgamesh, Semiramis, and Attis, are three I can think of off the top of my head who are probably completely mythical royals. All of the characters in the Iliad, Odyssey, Aeneid, Argonautica, and the Torah are mythical figures. There is far more fiction than history in all ancient books, particularly religious books. The likelihood that the gospel stories about Jesus (a god) are 100% fiction is much higher than any possible kernels of historical fact. Just because a lot of people believe in Jesus does not make him real.

Ehrman claims that Paul knew Jesus’ relatives and said: “Why would he lie about it?”

There is a very good reason to believe Paul lied about knowing Jesus’ brother, James: Paul was crazy. Paul also believed he met Jesus on the road to Damascus.  Paul believed that he could talk with the supernatural, which qualifies him as "crazy" in my mind.  There is no reason why James could not have been as mythical as Jesus and the rest of Jesus’ family, like his mother (a character obviously based on a goddess) and his father, a god. Early Christianity was polytheistic. As I demonstrate in my book, all of the characters in the gospel of Mark were based on mythical characters. Perhaps some of the characters were also real people; but, the story about them is pure myth.

I didn’t listen to the rest of the interview. I was too disappointed to hear Ehrman, who is probably the best in his field, make such silly statements to listen any further. If this is the best a “serious” historian can do, then our “serious” historians are pretty sad characters.

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Well, Diana, I have some of the same questions that you do. Ehrman is respected in his field but I cannot see eye to eye with him. People would (and have) told me that my study for the ministry was in mail order courses and Bible thumping preachers, and not form the "serious" colleges that would give a doctorate. Then I have to ask anyone if the "serious" institution possibly started with a belief and simply wanted to add a little believability to it. Until the late 1960's a Biblical archaeologist had a spade in one hand and the Bible in the other. After that time the Bible was not included and we found that the Bible does not support real history. It is a book of myth and fable that was resolved upon it the fourth century.

A claim that Paul knew the relatives of Jesus is hard to swallow. Paul never met Jesus as he claimed and Peter and James did not trust the man. This is plain in all of Paul's writings, some of which are also of dubious authorship. I'm inclined to believe today that the book of Revelation actually refers to Paul as an antichrist with Roman entanglement. The book therefore is not about an end time apocalypse with a god that is coming back, it was about being fooled in that day and time.

If I move on to what Paul knew and preached, you could sum it up in a small paragraph. He preached that Jesus was a sacrifice for our sins, that he came from the line of David, and that he was crucified, died, and rose again. Paul gives us no other details. All the story details of the gospels with all the miraculous stories about Jesus and what he did are missing. I have to conclude that Paul had heard stories but he had no access to the 4 gospels (or other gospels) in his lifetime.

This puts the whole Bible system down as a myth that was fully created around 325 AD when the legend that we know today was born. Believers have rebelled and pulled away, starting many new churches ever since, and that pattern continues.

Constantine saw the sign of the cross and heard the words "in this sign you will conquer." Some people cannot see the Roman origin of their religion. Maybe they just never thought about it.

What Constantine claimed to have seen was a superimposed CHI AND RHO  .... the first two letters of the word christ.  Didn't have Jack Schidt to do with any clown "named" Jesus/Yeshua.

The only "historical Jesus" I ever heard of was/is Jesus Alou.  He's still alive at 72.

My indifference to the jesus story might result from my 12 years in Catholic schools, where bible reading was all but forbidden and accepting what a priest said was required.

Seeing the sometimes long debates on atheist sites about the existence of a jesus character leaves me asking if doubting / disbelieving / denying (choose one) makes leaving or staying away from xianity easier.

One thing you are forgetting, and mythicists often forget, is that the Jesus-myth theory also has to fit evidence.  It also makes predictions, which don't fit the evidence. 

For example, we have no record of any early sources claiming that Jesus never existed.  With all the enmity against the early Christians, if he were made up you'd think someone would have gone to Nazareth and asked about his supposed origin there (yes Nazareth was inhabited at the time of Jesus).  The Gospels include a lot of place-names and other details in addition, that a skeptical Jew might have debunked at the time, if they were false. 

The evidence that Jesus did exist is from a lot of different lines of evidence.  It isn't JUST Paul saying he met Jesus' brother.   It isn't JUST the Nativity story of Jesus - a verifiably untrue story that looks like Jesus was actually born in Nazareth, and the storyteller had to rework it to get him born in Bethlehem.  It isn't JUST the Aramaic features in the earlier Gospels (Mark, Matthew and Luke) which make it obvious the Gospels were translated from Aramaic written or oral sources. 

It's many different things, and Bart Ehrman can't mention them all in a short radio interview. 

To familiarize yourself with the evidence about Jesus' historicity, see Did Jesus Exist?, by Bart Ehrman.

Also see Jesus: Evidence and Argument or Mythicist Myths? by Maurice Casey, another leading (deceased) historian and Bible scholar, also a nonbeliever.  I haven't read that book, but I've heard it's good, maybe better than Bart Ehrman's book.  I got the impression Bart Ehrman didn't enjoy writing about Jesus mythicism. 

I've read that Bible scholars think it's a funny idea, that they're all so brainwashed by Christian conditioning that they can't contemplate the idea that Jesus didn't exist.  That's because Bible scholars have come up with so many theories about Jesus that would be very displeasing to Christians - that Jesus was gay; that Jesus was married and had children.  New Testament scholarship is analytical study of the New Testament and that time of history, and the bread and butter of scholarship is arguing and challenging other scholars' beliefs.

All the same, I like to read what nonbeliever Bible scholars say on the subject.  With what Christians say, not being a Bible scholar myself, I always have a question in my mind about whether the person is letting their faith get in the way of their thinking. 

However, there are nonbeliever and Jewish Bible scholars as well - there's even a Jewish annotated New Testament.  They all agree that Jesus existed. 

I have kind of familiarized myself with the arguments, and they seem convincing to me.  What's personally most convincing is the "embarrassing" features of the Gospels, the aspects of the stories that don't look invented.  The crucifixion of Jesus LOOKS like the Romans swatted this troublesome preacher like a fly, by crucifying him - hoping to humiliate him completely and debunk his claims to be "king of the Jews".  Later, the Christians rationalized this by coming up with the idea that Jesus got crucified in order to atone for everyone's sins. 

The evidence fits Jesus' historicity very well, and it does not fit Jesus mythicism well.  In order to argue for mythicism, you have to dismiss lots and lots of evidence; say Paul was making it up about meeting the brother of Jesus, etc. etc. etc. 

And as one Bible scholar said - look, mythicism is a theory about Jesus, but it needs to pass peer review, from Bible scholars who really know the evidence.  Mythicism isn't true or even likely just because some atheists like the idea.

Jesus mythicist atheists should be asking themselves why mythicism is attractive to them.  Atheists (at least on A/N) are refreshingly unlikely to push other fringe theories.  I haven't seen much global warming denial, advocacy of homeopathy, anti-vaccination talk, 9/11 "truth", etc. etc. on A/N. So why Jesus mythicism?  And, less commonly, Big Bang denial?

Perhaps it results from having been exposed to the glorified, magical image of Jesus that's presented in the Gospels.  That Jesus really is a myth.  But the historical Jesus is very different from the "Jesus of Christian confession".  Bart Ehrman wrote a good book about the historical Jesus, Jesus: Apocalyptic Prophet of the New Millenium; I liked it better than Did Jesus Exist?  Maurice Casey wrote a long book on the historical Jesus, Jesus of Nazareth, which I've read part of (it's rather technical).  

To me, the historical Jesus is interesting.  I'm not sure whether Jesus was really special among the many apocalyptic Jewish prophets of that time, other than being a gifted person.  I suspect that it was possible to idealize him so much because he was crucified while he was still young and idealistic, and if he'd lived longer he'd have become corrupt and abusive, just as Jim Jones did.

Sometimes we are looking at only one person. It is important to see and remember that Jesus was a contender. People were trying to fulfill prophesy in those days. It was a matter of who was the Christ, the Messiah. This is why Jesus was said to have rode both an ass and a colt in Matthew 21:1-7 to fulfill a prophesy from Zechariah 9:9 about his entry into Jerusalem.

Today it would be more like "Bob is the Messiah, and you thought it was Charlie or Ronald. Everyone knows it is Bob who fulfills the prophesies." When examined we see that the Jews did not like Roman rule and they had stories of a Messiah rising up. Lots of preachers of the time were trying to be that man.




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