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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C. There is zero evidence that the Jesus religious people refer to ever existed. His name only showed up in religious documents hundreds of years later. Whether various persons bore the name Jesus is irrelevant.
I love how people come in threads like this without having done the faintest bit of research, and then consider their knowledge secure enough to make statements like this.

Tacitus writes about Jesus: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tacitus_on_Christ
That's a non-religious document about 70-80 years after Jesus' death.

Josephus writes about Jesus twice: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Josephus_on_Jesus
That's two references in a non-religious document about 60 years after Jesus' death.

As far as the religious documents themselves go (which can't simply be dismissed; they can still be valuable sources if used carefully), the canonical gospels are generally dated respectively 30-60 years after Jesus' death, and the authentic letters of Paul are something like 20 years.

"Hundreds of years later" and only "religious documents"? I don't think so.

You seem to have missed some pretty important aspects of those pages...

 

but that those words and phrases that correspond with standard Christian formulae are additions from a Christian copyist

 

the earliest surviving manuscript containing the passage is an 11th century Christian scribal copy

 

Confirming my point exactly... I was speaking of original documents, I give absolutely no weight to xtian copied documents.

"You seem to have missed some pretty important aspects of those pages..."

 

Oh the irony.

I've done my homework on this subject, pal. I suggest you do the same before you stumble into a discussion with no knowledge of the subject.

 

"but that those words and phrases that correspond with standard Christian formulae are additions from a Christian copyist"

 

And had you gone on to read the page in full, you would find out that most scholars agree that the Testimonium Flavianum has been altered to (that's what the word "additions" means), but that there was an authentic reference there to be altered in the first place.

But that's just talking about the TF. The other reference in Josephus is virtually uncontested, and the same goes for the reference in Tacitus.

 

Which means we have at worst two and most likely three references to Jesus in non-religious documents which were written within several decades of his death. 

 

Which means your statements were garbage.

 

"Confirming my point exactly... I was speaking of original documents, I give absolutely no weight to xtian copied documents."

 

You never actually said that you were talking about original documents, actually.

But that's not even the point: the standard you've set is completely ridiculous. We don't have any original documents of anything that anyone has ever written in the ancient world. Not from Caesar, not from Cicero, not from anyone. All documents we have are copied at least several times (usually by Christians, though not always). So if you're going to dismiss the references to Jesus on the basis of the relevant documents not being original, you might as well dismiss the existence of anything and everyone in the ancient world.

 

Well done.

Please do your homework and then try to make your case.

You mention other literary works, I am not concerned with the 'veracity' of other literary works. The point is on an issue as controversial as 'Jesus' to take the word of xtian historians written 100s of years later is not a far cry from taking the bible as fact. On this matter, I clearly side with the detractors and you side with the promoters. That is an irreconcilable difference of interpretation of history, and history has been notorious at bad reporting.
"You mention other literary works, I am not concerned with the 'veracity' of other literary works."

I understand that, but surely you must understand that you've set yourself up for a position that is completely unfalsifiable.
As I said, every work we have from the ancient world was passsed down to us by Christian transscribers and copyists. So obviously every work of an ancient historian that has been passed on to us will have gone through this process as well.

That means that you have adopted a position where no matter how many references in no matter how many different historians in no matter how shortly after his death, will be dismissed by a simple "The work was passed on to us by Christian copyists".
That's unfalsifiable and completely unreasonable.

And it's also not how proper historical analysis works. You can't simply say that you're going to dismiss all works which were passed down to us by Christians because you have a hunch or a funny feeling that they might have been tampered with.
Yes, it's possible that every work that has ever been passed on to us has suffered from interpolations and additions. No, simply stating that possibility is not enough to dismiss whatever source we want. You actually need some EVIDENCE (there's that magic word that rationalists like myself are so fond of).

As it happens, we have plenty of ways to figure out whether a work has been interpolated or not. We can compare different versions of the same document that have been passed on to us by different sources, we can check the syntax of suspicious sentences to the syntax in the general work, we can check the grammar and whether it corresponds to the writer's style, and much more.
So we're actually pretty good at finding interpolations; the ones in the Testimonium Flavianum, for instance, stand out like a sore thumb: the majority of the passage fits perfectly with Josephus' style, and then we have these awkward additions in broken Latin of "He was the Christ" and "He was raised after three days". Clearly those are interpolations, but there's no reason to dismiss the entire passage on that basis - in fact it would be unreasonable to do so.
Furthermore, we have versions of Josephus' work in Arabic and Syriac (NOT passed on to us by Christians), and guess what? They do have most of the passage, just not the awkward interpolations I've stated above. That makes for a strong case that there was an original passage there.

The second passage in Josephus is even better attested, because it is referenced multiple times by the Christian writer Origen in the early Second Century - at a time when Christianity was far too weak and persecuted to do any kind of interpolating (let alone copying). Thus, the reference to Jesus' brother James was clearly there already in the early Second Century. That's a strong case that that passage is genuine.

And then there's the passage in Tacitus. That passage is perfect Tacitean prose (despite being one of the hardest styles to master, especially for copyists and interpolators centuries later), and the passage also says some particularly nasty things about Christianity: that they are a "vile, mischieveous superstition" and other things.
In other words, for us to believe that this passage is a forgery requires us to believes in a Christian interpolator who was not only able to master perfect Silver-Age grammer and Tacitean prose (in an age known for its rough Latin) but was also so fiendishly clever as to resist the temptation of having Tacitus say nice things about Jesus, and instead say negative things about him to make the passage look more genuine.
Needless to say, that's absolutely absurd too.

See how real history works? We don't just guess blindly at the correct results; we work from evidence, from literary analysis and from contemporary evidence and clues. That's how we know that the evidence stacks up against these passages being interpolations.

Which means that even if we leave the tainted Testimonium Flavianum out of the picture (which most historians do not), then we still have two well-attested references to Jesus in two non-Christian historians, only several decades after his death: exactly the kind of evidence we could reasonably expect.

Which means your hypersceptical Jesus Mythicism fails.

"The point is on an issue as controversial as 'Jesus' to take the word of xtian historians written 100s of years later is not a far cry from taking the bible as fact."

Josephus and Tacitus are NOT Christians, and they were NOT written hundreds of years after the fact. Why can't you even get these basic facts right?
Tacitus even explicitly tells us in his report that he hates Christianity and that it is a vile cult, for cyring out loud.

Please at least read the wikipedia page on these issues, so you have the faintest clue what you're talking about.

"On this matter, I clearly side with the detractors and you side with the promoters."

Well yeah, but the arguments you're using right now would make the few academic proponents of Jesus Mythicism squirm. And that's saying a lot, since Jesus Mythicism is a fringe position in modern scholarship - and yes, even among non-Christian scholars.

I have, it explicitely says year 1100...

 

We have original documents... we have the scrolls, many dating to the first century, THOSE do not speak of Jesus.

TNT666,

 

"We have original documents... we have the scrolls, many dating to the first century, THOSE do not speak of Jesus."

 

Reaaaaaaaaally. 

 

Alright Mr. I am incapable of doing my homework, please tell me (and the entire historical community who will be equally surprised) where exactly I can find the original documents of the Tacitus' Annales or Josephus' Antiquities

 

Or are you talking out of your ass once again?

I am truly starting to wonder about your reading abilities...

Truthfully, think of it for a just a second... if I was talking about your references, we wouldn't be arguing about this right???????????

 

Of course I'm talking of the Dead Sea Scrolls and other original biblical manuscripts, originals.

 

But it's become sadly obvious that discussing this with you is completely futile.... adios.

 

And if you paid any attention at all to your correspondants, you would know I was not a Mr...

"Truthfully, think of it for a just a second... if I was talking about your references, we wouldn't be arguing about this right???????????"

It indeed seemed absurd, but sadly no less absurd than what you're trying to tell me now. Which is that, because we have some very specific documents which we can date to the First Century (actually, the Dead Sea scrolls don't even count because the majority of the material dates to before 0 CE), we should automatically expect these to mention Jesus? How exactly is that not absurd?
(Also, the Dead Sea Scrolls are not Biblical manuscripts since they are largely Essene - and we don't have 'other' Biblical manuscripts either.)

Nobody has ever maintained that Jesus needs to be mentioned in all the manuscripts of the First Century; that would be silly. Of course he's only going to get mentioned by a couple of historians at the most. We might expect him to get mentioned in the few parchments of the DSS which date to the First Century, but since those documents also don't mention any of the other preachers running around in Palestine at the time (the Samaritan Prophet, Rabbi Hillel, the Egyptian Prophet, John the Baptist, Honi M'baGel etcetera) it's unreasonable to expect that the scrolls would make an exception just for Jesus; he's not that special.

Try this for a reasonable and accurate comparison: try and find me a manuscript which mentions other Jewish preachers, like Hillel and Honi and John, but DOES NOT mention a preacher named Jesus. Then you will have yourself an honest comparison.
But you won't be able to, because the only historian who actually mentions all those preachers is Flavius Josephus and unsurprisingly, we find that he mentions Jesus. Twice. And the same goes for Tacitus. And you still have not refuted the position that the references in Josephus and Tacitus.

And I do apologise for thinking you were male; the name TNT just did not seem particularly female ;)
That affront was not that you thought I was male, it's that you did not check before making the assumption.
Oh noes, how very affronting indeed.

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