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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That difference is irrelevant as to whether or not he actually existed: cult leaders are often remembered long after they are dead, and not just for their 'supernatural' properties. Someone like Jesus, who had a reasonably large number of followers and who created quite a stir at the Temple in Jerusalem, would have been mentioned in history. And he is.

The problem is that we do have evidence of a historical Jesus (not a lot, but the amount we would expect). Jesus Mythers have to make this evidence go away, and the scenarios they come up with are simply not good enough.
sure it is; the only reason his existence is of any importance is because he was supposedly the son of god and had these magical powers. we wouldnt be having this discussion if it werent for that. i can find a jesus in the kitchen of a mexican restaurant -- no one would be impressed.
Whether his existence is of any importance is irrelevant to an objective historical inquiry.

The question is: was there a Galilean preacher called Jesus Ben Joseph, who was a preacher and a faith healer, who lived under the reign of Tiberius and who was crucified by one of his pro-curators Pontius Pilate?
The answer is: yes, there was.

That's who Jesus was. Whether or not the faith healing stories about him were later exaggerated or whether others come to see him as the son of God is totally irrelevant as to whether such a character existed in history or not. All the evidence suggests that, yes, he did.
the answer is yes, according to some accounts -- not a categorical yes.
The problem is that we don't know which of the Biblical aspects of "Jesus of Nazareth" belonged to a real person, or to several real people.

Another problem is that there is so little historical corroboration of an actual figure who lived at the stated time. Apparently he didn't make much of a stir outside his immediate circle until decades after his reputed death (or their deaths, if plural). If Saul/Paul of Tarsus had not had subjectively compelling visions of this figure we would probably never had heard of him. The Jerusalem Church, those who were supposed to have first hand knowledge of the figure, had little impact on the world. This version died out.

In other words, the original (or originals) were not terribly impressive during their lifetime/s.
I can see why you'd think that but unfortunately even that is stretching creduilty. Plenty of people who "made a stir" outside of their immediate circle were not recorded in ancient history until decades later.
Take Hannibal. Here's one of the single greatest generals of all times, rampaging through Italy for more than a decade and destroying countless Roman legions in the process. You might say that he did indeed cause quite a stir. And yet what's the first mentions we get of him? Decades after his death. Does that mean Hannibal wasn't important? Of course not: it means that (i) "historians" of the time were rarely focused on events happening in their lifetime; usually they were writing about either the glorious beginnings of their cities or about figures that (in hindsight) turned out by important and (ii) we've probably lost a crapload of ancient documents.

So if someone who brings the Roman Republic to the brink of extinction doesn't get any mentions by "an actual figure who lived at the state time", why expect it for Jesus, who lived in an obscure province of the Empire and who (by any standard) caused much less of a stir than Hannibal.

It's quite simply unreasonable.
Interesting perspective.

To be Devil's Advocate: Are we sure Hannibal existed?
We're as certain as anyone would need to be: we have written records about him and his life (although, like Jesus, recorded quite a while after he died), and absolutely no reason to doubt that he existed. That's just what you get in ancient history.

However it might be the case that Hannibal never really existed at all and it might be that he's simply a corroboration of several generals rampaging Italy at various points during that time and this might have been concocted by the Romans as a tale to keep the population scared and timid and this might all have happened without leaving a trace (I think you can see the comparison I'm making). None of this is impossible; it's just not to be taken seriously.

No person in Ancient history (except the occasional Emperor and the like) can stand up to the kind of historical hyper-scepticism some want to apply to Jesus. If we were to use this exaggerated scepticism everywhere, we'd soon have to decide that the ancient world was completely depopulated. And then we'd all promptly disappear in a puff of smoke.
lol, youre so riled up youre imagining arguments and defending tidbits im not even questioning. no one is talking about what messiah has come to mean. you -- you, matt -- posted that the messiah was believed to be a "messenger of Jahweh," that is, of god, thus divine. and no, i never claimed "that if Jesus was divine, he would've been mentioned in history." youre confused, matt. articles of faith must be what youre basing your responses on; so far youve replied to about three points i didnt make, haha. seems the discussion is too emotionally charged for you, matt. take a breather.
Chill, I'm perfectly relaxed. I'm drinking a delicious Leffe as I'm typing this so any "emotional charge" you think you're perceiving is false.

It's also perfectly possible that I misconstrued what you're saying, because to be honest, I'm finding it very hard to figure what on Earth you are saying.
Take this post, for example. You said that I said that the Messiah was believed to be a messenger of Yahweh. Yes, that's exactly what I said. And you're now claiming that this equals divinity.
Well, sorry pal, but that's not what divinity is. If God comes down from the clouds right now and says "Hi Matt, I just thought I'd let you know that I existed; now go tell everyone else" then that will certainly make a messenger of God but it will not make me divine, since that word entails being part of God.

You also said in response to my statement that holding on to Jesus Mythicism was a position of faith, that it is "more like an article of skepticism. warlords, rulers, etc. these have precedent to make ones perspective amenable to credence, and they dont connote divinity like jesus does. "
Now if that's not saying that Jesus' claims entail divinity (which is, again, different from being told something by God; it entails actually being God) I don't know what it is.

Please, what the hell are you saying? Why would you expect Roman aristocrat historians to mention a messenger from God in Galilee?
chill, denial wont help you.

i know youre having a hard time figuring out what im saying, thats obvious -- thanks for your honesty anyway.

"sorry, pal," it is. the messenger of god is divine by definition; perhaps not the one you would prefer to use, but thats your problem. "entails being part of god," no... god tells you to announce his existence, thats a good analogy; you feel that would make you the messiah, im guessing.

actually, i wouldnt expect that. what im saying is, accounts of a figure like jesus are far more susceptible to falsehoods.
That's exactly what I'm saying ;)
Personally I think contrasting what the historical Jesus might have said to how he's been interpreted (i.e. Jewish Messiah to living God) gives us more than enough arguments Christianity as it is; no need to conjure imaginairy historical arguments for that. It lowers the overall standard of our arguments and diverts the attention from the real and valid criticism: that whatever Jesus said, his message has been altered by gospel writers and by Paul to suit Gentiles.

@Boris: Err, yup, that's nice. If ever you actually have some evidence to support that there are in fact irreversible falsehoods in the story of the historical Jesus, by all means present them. And send an e-mail to the scholars working in this field while you're at it.




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