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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I don't know if an itinerant Jewish preacher named Jesus actually walked the Levant in the first century C.E (we do have evidence for itinerant preachers in the area).

Now, do I believe that an itinerant Jewish preacher named Jesus was nailed to a cross, died, and three days later reanimated alive again?

Absolutely not. That would be ridiculous. It would be contrary to everything that has ever been demonstrated and therefore would require an extraordinary degree of evidence that to date, has never been produced.

So, do I think Jesus actually existed? I have to ask, "Which one?" The itinerant preacher, I give that 60%. The incarnation of omnigod? I give that significantly less 0.01%.
This makes the best sense to me. Though I am still pretty much entrenched in the idea that the story has changed many times throughout history. Look at the Texas school board, trying to take T. Jefferson out of the history books, it has been done in the past and it seems as if we are experiencing this first hand today.
There is no original scriptures, just copies. They have been edited and words changed so many times that even the apologist have a hard time explaining it. Add that the different translations and it is a good fictional novel.
Add to that the fact that most of the story of Jesus was fabricated from the beginning.
Jesus existed: As a small shit smear on John the Baptist's Underoos™

It's revealed truth. Don't argue with me, Heathens
I am undecided on his existence. I do think it's perfectly plausible to doubt it.
The only historical evidence are claims from the three apostles. They bring these claims to Rome, and they arise as a group among the slaves, the poor, the destitute, every point of their dogma meant to give meaning and purpose precisely aimed at this social group. Word of mouth is all they had here. There is not a shred of historical evidence for the killing of the first born by Harod, this was probably more hear say that the slaves of Rome had no reason to refute. So here is this religion that gives a meaning to the most ignorant and miserable of society, providing hope that in the end they will ascend to the life of a king in eternity. Of course this is appealing, a perfect recipe for a successful cult among the perfect flock.

This gains momentum in the coming decades, eventually so many have lived by it and passed it on, it has become ingrained as religious fact among it's followers. Now comes the Roman emperor who finds a truth to it perhaps, or he saw a wondrous tool for social control. One of the other, Constantine gave this movement legitimacy. This movement had the perfect design to appeal to the lowest and most abundant group of people in the world, and it's easy to see how it has flourished without any foundation in fact at all.
And where is the evidence that these three apostles existed?

The reason so many doubt is that almost everything written about Jesus during what would have been in or close to his lifetime are religious documents with no verification by secular sources. I.e.; tall tales, with the conspicuous absence of anyone outside the faith verifying these deeds and events that surely would have attracted a crowd.

That said, I still maintain that there very likely was a person or several people upon whom the Jesus myth got attached. Yeshua was a common name, street preachers were a dime a dozen. Laws of probability, one or more of them were named Yeshua. And one or more of them may have been just charismatic enough and popular enough with the underground to have his/their name attached to an already circulating legend.

- It's very common in mythology/legends to attach a name to it to give it more credence. Consider urban legends today circulated via email: There's often a "Professor so-and-so" supposedly signing it at the bottom.

- Once a name is chosen, any related deeds that have been accomplished must have been by that one person.

- It's also very common in mythology when several people of the same or similar names are involved to meld them into one, particularly in oral tradition. Yeshua Ben Nazarath, Yeshua Ben Bethlehem, Yeshua Ben Galilee, ... pretty soon all those get shortened to "Yeshua," who now sounds like all one in the same person and is an awfully busy boy who sure gets around.

But whomever that original Yeshua(s) was, he/they bear no real resemblance to the Jesus of the bible, which is a conglomerate of several god-man myths well over 2,000 years old.
Sorry, but that theory is not taken seriously by any reputable historian or scholar since at least the 1890's.
The fact of the matter is that when we compare the evidence we have for Jesus to the evidence we can reasonably expect for an ancient figure

Try this: find me a contemporary source for Hannibal. Or Arminius. Or Boudicca.
These are three of the most formidable enemies Rome ever faced (with two of actually being accountable for the destruction of several Roman legions), and yet we don't have any contemporary evidence for them whatsoever.
So how could we possibly reasonably expect to find contemporary evidence from secular sources for a Jewish preacher?

The answer is: we can't.

And as for what we can know about Yeshua Ben Yosef (Jesus' real name) we can pretty conclusive say the following things:
- he was born in Nazareth or at least in Galilee
- he was a preacher and had the reputation to be a faith healer
- he was crucified by Pontius Pilate (most likely for causing a disturbance in the Temple at Passover)
- ...
These are things actual scholars (Bart Ehrman, Geza Vermes,...) acknowledge and work with. Don't try to adopt an anti-Christian position just because you'd like it to be true

I want to know what the evidence is for these points. I have heard only the constant reinforcement of so called historical evidence that is supposed to be there to support this, but I never am told what this evidence is. As far as I know, only one historian alive in the period made any mention of these events, which was decades after they took place and is questionable in authenticity. I am not arguing against the fact Jesus existed, as I have yet to see the evidence cited to know what to argue against, I would be open to the idea of a person or persons who existed to give rise to the movement, but I have yet to learn specifics and can easily see how it all could have come about with no need for a foundation in reality at all.

How do we know:

- he was born in Nazareth or at least in Galilee
- he was a preacher and had the reputation to be a faith healer
- he was crucified by Pontius Pilate (most likely for causing a disturbance in the Temple at Passover)

How do we know these things, I am not challenging them, I only desire to know what these sources are that are constantly referenced to say these things.
Sure (this'll be a pretty long post).
As it happens, we have more than one historical source regarding Jesus. Not that this is to be expected in the first place, considering Roman and Greek historians really didn't give a crap about what happened in an obscure province like Galilee. Still, we get enough references to be quite convinced about his existence:

First of all, there was one historian in the Ancient world who did care a bit about what happened in Galilee and Jewish affairs, and that was Flavius Josephus. If someone would mention Jesus, it would be him. Unsurprisingly, he does mention Jesus. Twice (one time he refers to the brother of "Jesus the so-called Christ", and another time he tells us precisely this: that he was a preacher and a faith healer, that he was crucified by Pilate, and that he was called the Messiah).
Now before someone starts complaining, one of these passages is indeed in doubt: however the consensus among historians is that while there originally was a passage referencing Jesus, this passage was altered by a Christian transcriber somewhere in the Fourth Century. If you look at the text you can see clearly what was altered: it clumsily says, in the middle of things you'd expect Josephus to say, that "he was the Messiah". This very obvious interpolation does not bring the entire passage into question, however.

Second of all, we get a bonus: Tacitus, arguably Rome's most important historian of all time, also mentions Jesus in his Annales. He mentions, again, that there was someone running around in Palestine who was a preacher, a faith healer, who was crucified by Pontius Pilate, and who was called the Messiah.

Third of all, and perhaps surprising to some of you, we have the gospels. Though they may be biased (let's be honest, we know they are biased), historians are actually quite used to working with biased sources in the Ancient world: objective historical analysis simply did not exist; whether it be political reports, biographies, campaign reports, and even historical works, all of them were done with a certain agenda in mind. However by contrasting various sources and not taking them at face value, even a very biased source (like a Pauline epistle) teaches us a great deal about history.

Take the crucifixion. One argument for its authenticity is that it's mentioned by both Josephus and Tacitus. But another very powerful argument for its authenticity is that early Christians were actually embarrassed about this humiliating event: it was even "a stumbling block for converts", as Paul says. On top of that, this was totally unexpected in Jewish eschatology: according to Jewish beliefs of the time, the Messiah was supposed to come to Earth and start the Kingdom of Yahweh, not get arrested by the Romans and fucking nailed to a cross.
Early Christians had to go through a great deal of trouble in order to pretend that this was really all part of God's plan all along.
The embarrasment and awkwardness alone tells us something: these are not the traces of a made-up person (otherwise the story would be smooth and make sense, instead of being contrived, embarrassing awkward). Combine that with the mentions of Josephus and Tacitus, and we have as clear a historical case for the crucifixion as you can possibly want.

The same goes for the fact that he was probably born in Nazareth (or at least Galilee): Nazareth was a teenie tiny little town in the middle of nowhere, so why would the Messiah come from there?
This again was a real problem for early Christians: not only did Jesus get mocked for coming from such a small and irrelevant town (see the Gospel of John) but there actually was a prophecy that told Jews where the Messiah was going to come from: the City of David, namely Bethlehem. Note how hard the gospels authors try to get Jesus born in Bethlehem: the scenarios are so strange, ahistorical, and mutually exclusive that it's hilarious.
Again, this is not an indication of a character that's simply made up (otherwise he would be from Bethlehem), it is a very clear indication that Jesus was a historical figure who was born in Galilee: the futile attempts of the Gospel writers to make it look otherwise are testimony to this.

And as for the preacher and faith healer status of Jesus, that again gets mentioned in every single source (Christian or otherwise) we have about Jesus. It also explains how the miracles attributed to Jesus arose: the exorcism of demons is a beloved trick by any faith healer (go to the average Episcopelian Church and you'll see that every Sunday) and healing the blind with sand and spittle (Gospel of John) was an ancient remedy against cataract.

All of this might sound like a stretch to you, but the fact of the matter is that in ancient history we have to work with the sources we have, not the sources we would like to have. The thesis that Jesus did not exist has to make all these pieces of evidence go away (the references in Tacitus, Josephus, events related to Jesus in the 40's that are documented by Josehpus, the awkward clues of shoe-horning a historical figure into a Messianic role, etcetera). And it simply cannot do that without making giant leaps of faith based on an anti-Christian bias.
I cannot understand why roman historians might not have mentioned or been interested in things like someone rising from the dead and virgin birth and being lifted up to heaven. Was not Jesus crucified by the Romans. I think a roman historian might have made a note of that. Have you read the Jesus Puzzle. I have just started reading.It appears it is going to be a good piece of non fiction. Why are you here at this site ? The fact that you are here tells me you are not really secure in your leap of faith. If our anti christian bias bothers you go talk to people that don not have that bias.


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