"A growing number of scholars are openly questioning or actively arguing against Jesus’ historicity. Since many people, both Christian and not, find it surprising that this debate even exists—that credible scholars might think Jesus never existed—here are some of the key points that keep the doubts alive:
"1. No first century secular evidence whatsoever exists to support the actuality of Yeshua ben Yosef [one of the names by which Jesus was known] In the words of Bart Ehrman: “What sorts of things do pagan authors from the time of Jesus have to say about him? Nothing. As odd as it may seem, there is no mention of Jesus at all by any of his pagan contemporaries…
The rest is at:
The evidence is piling up, and from even those who have been religious, i.e. Charles Templeton, Marjoe Gortner, James Baldwin, Dan Barker, Hector Avalos, John Loftus, Robert M. Price, and Bart Ehrman, to name only a few. Their conversion to atheism seemed to occur when they read the bible and questioned its validity.
Hector Avalos presented me with a convincing bit of evidence when he showed a picture of the generally accepted bit of evidence as the earliest record of a canonical New Testament text. The estimated date of this parchment has been estimated to be around 100 CE, however, other dates range into the second half of the 2nd century, and even into the 3rd century. In any event, The earliest writings about the times of Jesus did not occur at the time of his life, but a century or more after his death, if he actually existed at all.
Avalos' "Earliest Actual Evidence" is at 32:27 in the video, Hector Avalos: How Archaeology Killed Biblical History - Part 1 of 2
The age of a parchment is something entirely different from the age of the actual text. Much like the age of my copy of Marcus' Aurelius Meditations, doesn't imply that the text didn't exist before the 21st century.
The earliest gospel after Jesus (Mark) is generally dated around 70-75 CE, which is a few decades after Jesus' life, not "a century or more".
OK, Matt. Let's assume that your dating of Mark is correct and this puts that book written about 40 years after the time of Jesus. That's a long time and things get confused. Let me give you a real life example.
Today I had lunch with a woman I knew 40 years ago. This is a true story and I hadn't seen her in all that time. If I used my imagination I could almost imagine her as the beauty she was back then. We went through common stories of things we knew and shared back then. I learned quiet a bit. I'm sure she did too. Some of the history that we each thought we knew and shared got altered today.
This is the problem when believers try to justify the bible and put the stories together. We do not often see the errors in out thinking.
I'm not arguing against any of that. In fact it supports my point: the process of writing the gospels and the Q material was very much like people writing down interactions of several decades ago - and usually second-hand ones. So it makes total sense that what is written down is far from 100% accurate and already contains a large amount of distortion.
But here is where Jesus Mythicists come in and say that because there is distortion and because the accounts contradict on points, the events and the people which they are about, did not exist at all.
The process of writing the gospels would be kind of similar to your children writing about one of your favourite childhood friends called Jesus, based on the stories they heard you tell about him. Is it gonna be accurate or dead on? Fuck no.
But it would be quite a stretch for anyone to claim that because your children's stories are inaccurate, your childhood friend did not exist at all. And that's what Jesus Mythicists are saying.
Matt, what do you think about the notion that the text was written 40 years or more after Jesus' death. Does that give you pause as to the validity of the texts that came after them?
It's hard for something to give me pause if I was the one bringing it up ;)
It's actually quite clear that the stories about Jesus very much grew in the telling. The miracles of Jesus become more impressive throughout the gospels, things get exaggerated, and overall Christianity starts taking on a distinct profile from its parent religion of Judaism.
This is also why the gospel of Mark is regarded as more reliable, as is the Q material in Matt and Luke. John is a step further removed and is already drifting quite far from its Jewish roots, and documents written after that (like the Gnostic gospels attributed to Judas and Mary) are almost completely devoid of any connection to the source.
None of this is an argument that Jesus never existed at all though, as the fact that stories get dramatised over time is common in almost any story -historical or otherwise.
The test is whether Jesus Mythicism can provide a better explanation for the origin of the beliefs around Jesus, than a historical Jesus can. Spoiler: it cannot. And this is why the idea of a historical Jesus remains the better explanation.
'It's actually quite clear that the stories about Jesus very much grew in the telling."
I think you meant to say that the fantasies about a Jesus grew with the making of the Christian religion. The church went through "trial and error" in choosing four gospels out of hundreds, until it found the most credible bullshit to get in power and became a totalitarian religion, pleasing the "holy roman" emperors with the diabolic "one god, one emperor" motto.
Outside of the church and Christian religionists, who gives a flying duck if a Jesus was a historic character or just a figment of one's sick imagination?
"I think you meant to say that the fantasies about a Jesus grew with the making of the Christian religion. The church went through "trial and error" in choosing four gospels out of hundreds, until it found the most credible bullshit to get in power and became a totalitarian religion, pleasing the "holy roman" emperors with the diabolic "one god, one emperor" motto."
No, actually I meant precisely what I said. Impressive how you manage to write at a rate of two/three errors per sentence though. Bravo.
Let's see some evidence of this "trial and error" that "the Church" went through. Two hints: one, Niceae is the wrong answer, and two, there was no "the Church" back then.
Or some evidence on the "hundreds of gospels" that had to be sifted through (where?).
And also please explain why, if the purpose of the Biblical canon was to establish a totalitarian religion and a God-king, why did they pick the earliest and relatively most sober gospels? Rather than for instance the Gnostic gospels which were written later and ascribed far greater power to Jesus and those who followed him?
Or you can just quit blustering "Da Vinci Code" bullshit on a topic you don't have a clue on. Your call.
"Outside of the church and Christian religionists, who gives a flying duck if a Jesus was a historic character or just a figment of one's sick imagination?"
I can only speak for myself, but my interest is largely historical. The question of whether Jesus existed, how Christianity was started and how it wound up to be a world religion, is an interesting historical question.
Also, one reason I'm active in these kinds of threads is that -while people claim not to care about the topic- they still care enough to write a series of bullshit claims about it (see above).
False claims deserve scrutiny regardless of the topic ;)
How about the "fact" that the "Jesus" of the gospels does not at all resemble the "Jesus" of Paul's epistles, which were written much earlier...before the Roman destruction of Jerusalem in 70 CE? Huh?
Saul of Tarsus/Paul had a brainstorm, or a stroke, or an epileptic seizure, heard voices (which sometimes happens during a seizure), and decided god, or someone, was telling him to start a religion. Just like Joseph Smith, only Smith was a deliberate con man...not an extremist fool.. At first.
Too bad old Elron didn't keep his mouth shut before he sprung "Scientology" on the world, but his concentration camp "church" is still cleaning out the marks' pockets like an industrial-strength vacuum cleaner. And the marks totally believe the SF-ish "history" of his service during WW2...(He got a medical discharge for a duodenal ulcer, NOT combat wounds, but he fooled a lot of people with that one. Including Robert A. Heinlein.
How about the "fact" that the "Jesus" of the gospels does not at all resemble the "Jesus" of Paul's epistles, which were written much earlier...before the Roman destruction of Jerusalem in 70 CE?
That sounds like a big problem to people who pretend that Paul invented Jesus and hen all the gospels followed him in his footsteps.
For the idea of historical Jesus whose teachings over time diverge depending on the beliefs of various followers... it actually makes perfect sense.
Also the Jesus of Paul does resemble the Jesus of the gospels. Jew born in Palestine? Check. Wandering preacher? Check. Condemned to death by the Romans? Check. Preached about the apocalyps? Check.
Precise teachings notwithstanding, they are clearly talking about the same person.
Saul of Tarsus/Paul had a brainstorm, or a stroke, or an epileptic seizure, heard voices (which sometimes happens during a seizure), and decided god, or someone, was telling him to start a religion.
Pretty much. Just that he didn't invent a religion but flipped allegiances, from an extremist Pharisee to an extremist follower of Jesus. You know, like he says.