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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You are wise, Thomas :-)

I better bow out before acrimony sets in. If we beat this dead horse any longer, he might resurrect.
wow, 99 pages of Jesus rant. Didn't think it make it this far.
See what you went and started Jennifer?

;-)
@Matt,

We know certain stars have planets orbiting them despite not being able to see them. The gravitational effect of the planet causes a slight wobble of the star. We know that Hannibal had contemporaneous records of his exploits, despite those records being lost, because those records were referenced by other commentators, both Roman and Carthaginian.

My distinction between Hannibal and Jesus, which I've admitted is a minor one, is that there are no references to contemporaneous records of Jesus. Yes, neither Hannibal or Jesus have any surviving contemporaneous records but, unlike Hannibal, Jesus doesn't have references to contemporaneous records either. There is only a void where evidence of Jesus should be . . . not even a wobble. That's not sophistry . . . that's a real (albeit minor) distinction.
Paul mentions having met the brother of Jesus: James. That's a reference to a "contemporary record".
Tacitus likely got his information from a Roman record. That's contemporary too.
All the gospel writers claim to transmit the word of mouth accounts of eye-witnesses (contemporary).
And later Jewish polemics referred to a long history of previous records too (contemporary).

I'm glad you admit that this is a minor (and practically non-existent) distinction though. Now compare the stature of Hannibal and Jesus and think about the implications of the fact that these small distinctions are the only differences between the source material for them.

What does that tell you about this void you're trying to claim?
--- Matt VDB says --- Paul mentions having met the brother of Jesus: James. That's a reference to a "contemporary record".
Tacitus likely got his information from a Roman record. That's contemporary too.
All the gospel writers claim to transmit the word of mouth accounts of eye-witnesses (contemporary).


Paul also believes in divine miracles performed by Jesus and via his writings, appears to have a hard agenda of 'selling' religion. I don't trust a snake oil salesman to be telling me the truth.

Tacitus "likely" getting his information from contemporary sources is not a reference. It's an opinion/inference of later historians.

The gospel writers ... Damn, this is an Atheist website. Do I really need to explain as I would to a Theist why the gospel writers might not have been totally accurate or altruistic?

The bible is not true just because the bible says its true.
And the ridiculous double standards continue...

"Paul also believes in divine miracles performed by Jesus and via his writings, appears to have a hard agenda of 'selling' religion. I don't trust a snake oil salesman to be telling me the truth."

And Tacitus believed that Caesar ascended to heaven and described various other supernatural events. Thus - according to the syllogism you just made - he's a snake oil salesman and he's obviously not to be trusted. There goes our best source from the ancient world. Well done.

"Tacitus "likely" getting his information from contemporary sources is not a reference. It's an opinion/inference of later historians."

How the fuck would getting your information from a senatorial record made by Pilate or one of his assistants be an "opinion" of later historians? Seriously Jo, now you're just nitpicking and being deliberately obtuse.

"The gospel writers ... Damn, this is an Atheist website. Do I really need to explain as I would to a Theist why the gospel writers might not have been totally accurate or altruistic?"

That's why I said they "claim" to do so - that implies that I don't necessarily believe that myself (yes, I know, those little words are so annoying). But Polybius telling us that he used Roman records (who always happen to make Hannibal look pretty cruel) isn't much better than the gospel writers telling us that they rely on oral tradition from eye-witnesses.
Just a head's up for Matt and other people interested in discussing this topic, there's an interesting thread on the histrorical Jesus here at the JREF forums, James Randi's forum dedicated to skeptical inquiry ( a forum I am enjoying quite a bit)

http://forums.randi.org/showthread.php?t=177059
--- Matt VDB says --- And the ridiculous double standards continue...

And the ad hominems continue. What double standard?

--- And Tacitus believed that Caesar ascended to heaven and described various other supernatural events. Thus - according to the syllogism you just made - he's a snake oil salesman and he's obviously not to be trusted. There goes our best source from the ancient world. Well done.

Thank you, and you're welcome.

--- How the fuck would getting your information from a senatorial record made by Pilate or one of his assistants be an "opinion" of later historians? Seriously Jo, now you're just nitpicking and being deliberately obtuse.

No, I'm going based on your own words that Tacitus "likely" got his information from other secular sources. As you pointed out in this same ad hominem post, qualifiers like "claim to" and "likely" imply "not absolutely certain," or that you don't necessarily believe it yourself. Elsewhere sometime back I addressed the lack of a 1st century equivalent of an MLA citation so we really don't know where Tacitus got his information. You beat me over the head with it agreeing that "Ancient historians hardly, if ever, cite their sources."

Although points for making it sound like agreeing with a point I'd already made was actually you schooling me on that point.

What gets me is all these not-absolutely-certain qualifiers you toss out ("likely" used secular sources, "claim to" have met Jesus or his relatives), but then you get all itchy when someone interprets those not-absolutely-certain qualifiers as therefore-not-absolutely-certain-biblical-Jesus-has-a-recognizable-historical-counterpart.

Where I do hear that argument all the time is from Christians. Christians desperate to validate their faith as absolutely true, desperate to not have to say, "Oops, I spent the last few decades and wrote three books based on a possible lie." The ones who will concede to all the evidence, or lack thereof, and in the end tell me I therefore must believe and I'm an uneducated idiot if I don't.

That sounds good to an eager audience, but it's not a critical, logical reason for me to believe in Jesus.
--- John D ---

Show me a single post where I've said it's impossible or even improbable that there was a human Jesus who became the template for bible-Jesus AND bears significant resemblance to bible-Jesus.

But Matt is doing a great job of making it look like that's my claim.

My claim is and always has been that based on evidence, lack of evidence, and how legends/myths form, there was most likely a human Jesus who was the template for bible-Jesus. But A) Most-likely is not absolutely-certain and B) for all the evidence for a historical template, we have virtually no evidence what that person's ideology/deeds/sayings were versus those injected by the scriptural authors.

If Matt is also saying the existence of historical-Jesus is likely but not certain, why are you not asking him to "let it go?" Because if you're right, then Matt and I are saying the same thing. Except I'm underlining the "probably" in "probably existed."

Examples:

Someone says that bible-Jesus is a myth and historical-Jesus, if he existed, was not someone who performed miracles.

Matt says this is wrong; that "every reputable scholar" says otherwise.

Later on, even uses the gospels to tell us how we can know historical-Jesus the person. I.e.; the bible is true because the bible says its true. The same way a Christian tells me he can know "real" Jesus based on what parts of the bible he likes/doesn't like.
John D:

No, this element of it is not fun. It is irritating to be scolded like a child, "Matt wins .. let it go" based on your assumption that my position is near-opposite of what it actually is (your assumption that I'm saying it is "impossible" for Jesus to have ever existed).

And in that same scolding-me-like-a-child post you said that Matt "has never said there is absolute evidence Jesus existed."

I've given you several posts where he appears to be saying just that.

"Absolutely no reason to doubt."

"No real evidence to doubt."

"Yes there was (a Galilean preacher named Jesus crucified by Pilate)."


Now, in return, I would like to see where I have stated that it's "impossible" for Jesus to have existed. Hint: I've made several posts illustrating how it can be possible, even plausible that he didn't. I believe I've said along the way my personal opinion that there may have been more than one Jesus and/or preacher whose teachings became the basis of the story. Certainly when we're talking sayings/deeds/ideology, we're talking about the contributions of several authors and people; not just one man. I've asserted that we have no basis for knowing what bits of the bible came from this hypothetical man and what bits didn't.

Some of those posts were made out of now regrettable anger and frustration.

But show me where I say it is "impossible" that a historical Jesus for whom bible Jesus is based could have existed.
@ John D continued...

Or how about "There's no real evidence to doubt that Jesus existed."

Wait, make that "absolutely no reason to doubt that he existed."

How about "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."
Not "It's possible" or even "It's probable," but "Yes there was."


This is just a few minutes of going through a few random pages in the middle of this thread. I'm willing to bet I can find more. This, plus Matt's continued harping on anyone who claims reasonable doubt exists (not necessarily the most likely explanation, but exists), sounds a lot closer to certain belief in Jesus than "possible" to me. I'll give Matt the benefit of the doubt and say on a scale of 1-10 he sounds at least 9.9% certain that Jesus exists and is at least partially preserved in the canon bible, where we can open it up and read all about His Glory.

I give it more like a 8 out of 10 probability of a recognizable human Jesus, and a hearty "inconclusive" on whether or if any of that person's ideology/deeds/sayings are preserved in canon (or any) scripture. Because we have nothing to reference it against.

Meanwhile John D, I ask again; Please show me the posts (plural, since you say I "keep arguing" it) where I state that it is "impossible" that Jesus existed.

Because so far, the only contest here that Matt is "winning" is in making himself look like the grand guru while putting words in other people's mouths. Especially if he's got you convinced that I'm making an argument that I'm not. A faceless voice on the internet slandering me shouldn't bother me this much and I should be able to just "let it go," but ... well ... call me an errant human.

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