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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Some of the best kept records of that era were the Roman records. If there were a Jesus who barged into the temple and flipped over shops and tables, he would have been arrested. If he'd done any of those feats he was claimed to do, some would have been noted. And most certainly, had he died on the cross, there would be SOME record of him being crucified, which was a very serious punishment, if I remember correctly.
The fact that there is no credible evidence of Jesus' existence, coupled with the fact that we have names and dates and records of "messiahs" who were purported to perform the same "miracles," well, that just bows to the ignorance of anyone who would take the Bible as a historical document.
Gregory - Exactly.

I would argue that trials and executions for heresy were common enough that it's hardly noteworthy in and of itself. But if Jesus was a real person, one thing can be concluded for certain: He did not make anywhere close to the splash in real life that the bible claims he did.

Like you say, he'd have gotten a mention somewhere. A court record, "Not just your run of the mill heretic, but this guy has zillions of followers!" A soldier's letter home, "Man, this Jesus guy is getting really hard to reign in." A mention by other historians, "And the rabble-rouser of the year award goes to..."
Exactly. Some kind of cameo. We're probably not looking in the right you think Jesus did one of those awful '80's singles with Paul Schaffer? Who co-wrote "It's Raining Men" again?
According to Gerald Massey's "Historical Jesus and mythical Christ", the "Jesus" myth character is a composite of many other myths, including but not limited to Mythras and Horas. As a rare book collector its pretty clear that any extant remnants of accounts of Jesus that are anywhere near the time of his proported existence are fragmentary at best. The earliest existing fragment of the gospel of John for example is 40 years post the dates, and is only a few sentences. There is no complete new testament prior to 400 AD, and before that all we have are very scattered fragments of hand written accounts of the gospels, and really its not until the 16th century that we have what we, in English culture would regard as a "new testament" translated poorly from what current scholars regard as inaccurate texts. Its also worth noting that the concept of a 6000 year old earth did not appear until well into the 18th century and modern "evangelicalism" did not appear until the 19th century.

So, what current "American evangelicals" regard as their version of Christianity did not even exist until the 1850's, so any hope of having anything past a mythical interpretation of the "christ figure" is murky at best. Imagine basing a court case on 1400 year old hand written accounts, written 400 years after the proported event and you get the idea of how preposterous it is to claim "historical authority" of the new testament (much less the bible as a whole).
Ditto everything you just said Ryan.

But try telling that to an American evangelical!
The funny part is that everyone is trying to add an E. I purposely kept the original four because I wanted to see where does the harder stance come from.

If I put an E Don't care/undecided, then why have the original four? I just don't understand why people put "undecided" on polls.... why vote on a poll if you are undecided?
The funny part is that everyone is trying to add an E.

Yet another hint that most people post before reading previous replies.

I added an F instead of an E, btw :P
The funny part is that everyone is trying to add an E. I purposely kept the original four because I wanted to see where does the harder stance come from.

If I put an E Don't care/undecided, then why have the original four? I just don't understand why people put "undecided" on polls.... why vote on a poll if you are undecided?

Most atheists tend to seek accuracy over compliance, so it's going to be difficult to dictate to them how to answer a question on a public forum. Being undecided on a given matter is a firmer position than it would appear to be. It's a clear vote against pointless dogmatism.
So, are you undecided on what you believe, or what you know? The question was about belief, not knowledge.
More importantly, putting an E shows a fundamental misunderstanding of the concept of belief. You can't not know what you believe. You either believe, or you don't. You can be undecided on whether Jesus existed, but until you've decided you obviously don't believe that he existed.

Therefore, seems most of the people putting "E" probably mean C but just didn't read the question carefully enough.
Because if you didn't put "don't care/undecided/can't be fucking bothered/I dunno" the agnostics would feel discriminated against.

Incidentally the "iDunno" is going to be the next Apple breakthrough.

The real problem is that people's positions are usually conditional enough that it's hard to fit them into the polling framework, and why people like Frank Luntz have so much success "push polling". You change the subjunctives just a little bit and you can push people into a new category.

For instance, I'm not so much an "I don't care" on the historicity of Jesus as I am a "It doesn't matter". Not that it doesn't matter to me, but that it doesn't matter to even believers in the Gospel Jesus. Whether or not there was some kernel of a person who you can hang the Gospels on is largely irrelevant. Like King Arthur and Robin Hood, whoever he was he probably born either little resemblance to the mythos. People adhere to Arthurian Legend for Excalibur and Merlin, not because there was a 5th century Romanized warlord who might have sort of been the basis for Arthur. If there was a historical Jesus he probably had brown eyes and short hair and for that reason alone he's not going to resonate with people raised in the mythology of Jesus where Jesus is painted as the kind blue-eyed, non-threatening long-haired hippie out in the clover wearing immaculate and historically suspect robes tending sheep, beating Satan with his staff and whistling through the holes in his hand.

The only reason I think the historicity of Jesus matters to some apologists is so they can pull a "bait and switch" and act as if you establish any historicity, then all the reason of the myth -- virgin birth, miracles, resurrection follows.

The actual historicity of Jesus can be summed up in a handful of words: There's no extra-Gospel sources to establish that there was a historical Jesus, much less the one depicted in the Gospels. Of four extra-gospel sources, one is a suspect forgery (Josephus) one just tells us there were Christians in Rome circa 115 AD (Tacitus), which we already knew, thanks, and the other two are certainly not the historical Jesus, just a similar name (Suetonius) or another description of contemporary Christians (Pliny the Younger). That's it. That's all there is. Although there might have been debunking of the Christians claims from that period, all were certainly destroyed by the Church, as Origen did with the writings of Celsus. As far as the Gospels go, the idea that, say, dead saints rose from their tombs without some 50 or so contemporary Jewish and Roman historians operating in that time noting this just strains credulity.

What's more interesting to me, and you can see it on this thread, is the extent to which the historicity of Jesus gets a pass, even from people who are ostensibly atheists, because it's the Jesus myth we are talking about. You wouldn't see them hemming and hawing with the same sort of evidence over the historicity of some similar Hindu avatar.

So maybe we need Jaume's F (for Fail, of course).
Although archeologist haven’t found any artifacts from the first century that bear Jesus of Nazareth’s name either in Bethsaida – where Peter the first Pope was born – nor in Nazareth, biblical archeology has largely proved that evidence of the life of a man named Jesus from Galilee existed in history in the same way that events of the Roman period existed for most of the other major people, places, and events of the New Testament.

Archeologist Richard A. Freund is frequently asked by his students why archaeology cannot easily find Jesus of Nazareth. But he is not surprised that they haven’t found an inscription from Jesus of Nazareth in Nazareth either. First, he tells people that Jesus may not have been as important in the first century as he became in later centuries. Second, we don’t have a last (family) name or specific qualifier; therefore, the very common names of the period make it more difficult to know who they have found.

The name “Jesus” (assumed to be a transliteration of the Hebrew name, Joshua) may or may not have been the Hebrew name of Jesus of Nazareth. He may have had a Hebrew name that was similar to but not exactly the same as the Greek name, Jesus. Paul, for example, from the same period as Jesus has a Hebrew name, Saul and a Greek name, Paul. Peter has a Greek name, Peter and also has a Hebrew name, Simon. This was a common practice of the period. The Greek names are not always transliterations of the Hebrew name.

Freund, who is professor of Jewish History and director of the Maurice Greenberg Center for Judaic Studies at the University of Hartford, says that the name “Jesus” alone is so common in the ancient world that even “if we found an artifact in Jerusalem, Nazareth, or Bethsaida, for example, dated to the first century CE, some would find this enough of a coincidence to relate the artifact directly to the famous Jesus of Nazareth, while others would say that we know this is not necessarily “the” Jesus of Nazareth, but it could be “a” Jesus of Nazareth.


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