Apparently you can't do polls on here.... but

Do any of you think that Jesus actually existed? What do category do you fall into?

A. Believed he existed, claims are false

B. Believed he existed, claims are exaggerated

C. Don't believe he existed

D. Believe he existed, claims are true (sorry had to leave the idiot category open)

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@ Fred. This seems to be posted on the wrong page. Sorry for the double post.

I simply meant "we" as in Matt and myself. If you feel Christ was not based on a real man, make specific points. We can debate those points. How am I spouting rhetoric simply by stating there is evidence in the face of someone claiming there is no evidence? Frankly I think this comes down to someone taking the word "ignorant" as some kind of insult. Ignorant was used in the literal sense. If you don't think there is evidence, frankly you must be ignorant or dishonest. The evidence that exists you are free to say is not compelling enough, but to state there is a void of evidence is simply untrue. How can you possibly disagree?

I originally entered this very thread of the opinion that Jesus was not real (around page 60), and Christianity probably was created later in time and their history was a a fabrication. Matt demonstrated to me a way of looking at things that seemed to make more sense logically. I changed my mind, and I thank him for challenging me.
You dare accuse me of rhetoric? It's not my fault that people lack the ability to make a logical argument. If they continue to make the same mistakes, all I can do is repeatedly point out those mistakes. If that seems rhetorical, it's a view without a solid premises.
Further more, if I was arguing out of rhetoric, I would be claiming my view was the correct view with certainty. Never have I done this. The evidence for Christ is one of deduction, a case of looking at a void and making judgments based on the void. I could very well be wrong, but I feel the people who are contending with my viewpoint are ignoring why Matt and I seem to be advocating the view that we are. So far, the arguments offered in reply ignore the point we are making directly. I think this is due to an emotional response (and what is actually a response out of rhetoric, if you'll excuse the "I know you are but what am I" defense).

The rhetoric among many atheists is that because Christianity isn't real, automatically this must mean Jesus was not real as well. When these atheists hear another atheist challenge that contention, it seems to confuse them. Time and again, the essence of our argument is ignored in favor of red herrings. Again and again points are introduced rather than addressing the argument we've made directly.

My view is actually fairly simple. If Christ did not exist in the first place, why are his earliest know detractors never known for attacking the Christians on that point? Instead, the people of his time attack his divinity. This suggests to me he was a real human being. He was not the Christ of the Bible, and he was not the son of god.
I don't like to use the word "believe". There is probably enough historical data that can give someone an educated viewpoint. Personally, I don't care very much. If he did exist, he was a great man in many respects, but history is filled with great men/women.
I've been a lifelong atheist so I don't need any such information to help me convert from any particular religion to atheism.
I believe a physical human being named Jesus existed, sure. I'll even get on board with the idea that he was a great philosopher. Clearly, I don't believe in his divinity, otherwise I wouldn't be on this board. The immaculate conception, miracles and whatnot are all bullpuckey.
I think he existed... as a crazy nut who though God spoke to him. I see him no different than any other cult leader that most of society has recognized as insane. Unfortunately, he may have been extremely convincing :X
New to this site, first post and I'm starting here though admittedly I only read the first and last few pages. So I'm sure the gamut of opinion has been covered.

Speaking of gamut I guess that over my life I've gone through the gamut of opinions on who or what Jesus was. From a child who thought Jesus was god and whispered "happy birthday baby jesus," into his pillow on Xmas eve, to a teen altar boy who started to see too many parallels with the comic book heroes he was reading, to a young adult who was exploring philosophy and comparative religion and thusly seeing Jesus as a clear archetypal myth but one based on a real guy who was a pretty cool hipster dude who the big bad church abused post-mortem, to completely refusing to acknowledge his existence at all, and now settling into an occam's razor/real politik belief that's sort of a combo of most of the rest.

THis mainly consists of the following: he existed, he had a god complex and or penchant for chicanery that competed along side many other desert claimants who had little more to channel their creative juices and need for attention into and whom had a correspondingly credulous audience to perform for. He tried to fit the O.Testament's prophecies because that was the formulaic Hollywood template of the period, and where he failed his biographers would succeed much later because of a perfect storm of opportunity, personality, social currents, political favor etc.

I understand the perception of him as less than divine but a neat philosopher who loved people. But I no longer think there is enough evidence for that. We certainly can't be sure what he actually said and what he didn't say, but I agree with some of the Christian apologists, particualarly i believe it was CS Lewis of all people (though I'm not sure-it may have been via one of the mid ages guys like Tertullian or Aquinas) who said when you look at the things attributed, what he actually seems to have done and said, you either have to believe he was exactly what is purported, the son of god, or a completely debauched fraud (I'm paraphrasing quite liberally I admit).

Well I side with the latter opinion whereas they went in a more creative direction.

As for him not existing at all, I think there is enough anecdotal stuff combined with little things like the N Testament writers clearly lying or manipulating his history to fulfill prophecy as with the whole census count facade to get him to Bethlehem for his birth. Why not just have him live there? But maybe enough rumor stemming from enough actual people was around to suggest to these people that not only did he exist but he lived in Nazareth. And everybody kind of knew it. Now how do we fix that.

Anyway, good to be aboard. Not many places I can say these things. Go easy on me.
Welcome to the board and the discussion. I don't think you have much to worry about. You seem open to discussion and you're not presenting your opinions as personal revelations. Good to have you.
I believe there was a man named jesus 2000 years ago. I believe lots of guys probably had the name jesus. I think that can be proven as fact. That's about it.....
Occam's razor: The simplest explanation is that there was a person upon whom all the myths have been piled.

Robert Price has written several books explaining the case for believing that he didn't exist. There is no real evidence. Chiefly, it came down to the fact that so many of the myths about him were obviously borrowed.

But, I prefer James Carroll's version in "Constantine's Sword", that Jesus' followers were simply trying to make sense of his senseless death when they started the whole "it was a sacrifice for us" idea.

Besides, if there weren't a real person, then why bother to go to all that trouble to "explain" how the facts about his life "fit" the prophecies that they so obviously don't fit?
Hi Scott,

That's a rather balanced treatment of the issue. One of the chief reasons the Jesus Myth hypothesis is not the best explanation of the available evidence is simply that it requires far more supposition to imagine a grand conspiracy (which nobody at the time noticed) than to imagine a group of disappointed and confused disciples trying to make sense of their leader's violent death; the latter happens all the time (and we can see the process evolve through the various gospels), while the former is an argument from conspiracy and has little precedent.

The fact that many of the elements in the Jesus story are so awkward (so much so that they get downplayed or even omitted in later gospels) like the Baptism of Jesus by John, Jesus' hometown being Nazareth, the humiliating nature of his crucifixion, the various prophecies he has to be shoe-horned into... that it makes much more sense to see this as a self-proclaimed prophet gone wrong. And we can the traces of all these things in the texts themselves.
This, along with the mentions by reliable historians and people mentioning having met Jesus' family, make for a strong case that there was indeed a person on who the legends were based. Price's case does not answer these objections, or at least not in a way that actually satisfies Occam's Razor.

The author of the blog (you?) you quote makes a pretty similar case, though he does get a few things wrong.
First of all, he says that the only passage briefly talking about Jesus is Flavius Josephus. There's actually more than that: in fact, there are two passages in Josephus' works that mention Jesus; one in Antiquities 18.63-64 (which is probably the one he's talking about) and one in Antiquities 20 Chapter 9 which talks about a man called James who is identified as the brother of Jesus. Additionally, Tacitus mentions Jesus in Annales 15.44.
Second of all, it's not correct to say about that passage in Josephus that "scholars believe that this was inserted centuries later by a Christian scribe". That simply is not the case. A study conducted by Louis Feldman found that of 52 scholars questioned on this issue, only 13 of them concluded that the passage was a forgery, with the rest largely arguing for partial authenticity. The consensus (not an absolute one, but still, quite broad) is that this passage was added by a Christian interpolator, but that there was an original passage by Josephus to be added to in the first place. Either way, the author's statement is false. And the other two references to Jesus are believed to be authentic by the vast majority of scholars.
(Which actually enables us to make three cases for the authenticity of Jesus: one from the awkwardness of the story and the way it is constructed, another one from these three references by historians, and a third one whereby we prove that there was a man called James who was identified as the brother of Jesus. Together they make for a pretty solid case, in my opinion.)

And the third mistake he makes is to mention the myths of Horus, Krishna, Dionysus etcetera, as templates (or similar stories, or whatever) for the Jesus story. That argument actually fails almost completely, and it's not taken seriously by any academic scholar I can think of (and no, Price's non-peerreviewed books don't fall into that realm either). There are certainly a lot of sites that claim that virgin births are common and that everybody had them, and that will be happy to tell you that all these gods had twelve disciples and died in a sacrificial manner, but if you actually look at the relevant texts and try to find out where they are getting these ideas from, you will return very disappointed. These parallels are either exaggerated, misrepresenting an original text, or just plain made up.

All of which I think are reasons why the Jesus Myth is not a skeptical position: it's a position fueled mainly by bias and the wish for an easy argument to disprove Christianity, rather than any sober historical analysis on a quest to find the most reasonably explanation of the evidence.

Kind regards,


I think you misunderstood my point.  I am not saying that the "Jesus myth" is in any way real under any argument. 


I am saying that the idea that there was some guy similar to David Koresh upon whose memory all the myths were piled is simpler than believing that there was no actual person and that some people simply decided to make him up.  Obviously, almost all the stuff they said about him was made up. 


Just about the only parts that are true are probably the parts they try to so hard to fit into the Messiah prophecies.  He was actually born in Nazareth, but because the Messiah was supposed to be born in Bethlehem his followers in later years had to make up a cockamamie story about a census, accidentally getting the dates wrong and overlooking the fact that such a huge undertaking would probably have been noted in Roman records, etc., etc. 

Hi Scott,


I understood what you were saying just fine. It's a good argument and one that I've made in just about every post I've made in this topic (and that's quite a lot). The parts where we can see the gosel writers struggling to explaining something awkward (and usually failing rather miserably) are precisely the things we have good reason to believe have a historical basis.


Now that said, I think you are engaging in a little bit of rhetorical exagerration saying that almost all the stuff they said about him was made up. There are lots of little things that they have no reason to make up but are still well attested, meaning we can be pretty certain they did occur. The father of Joseph being a carpenter, for instance, or Jesus having siblings, or him being betrayed, or him being an apocalyptic preacher etcetera...


But as I said, I agreed with most of your post. I only took issue with the parts in the blog post you linked to that I think were false. The alleged (but overblown) simillarities with Krishna etcetera being one, and the inaccuracy concerning the references to Jesus in ancient historians being another.


Take care,






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