Tell me the pros and cons about these thoughts of mine. Let me know if They are wrong. Expound on it please! I don't want to tell anything if it is wrong.

The bible was composed for governments. It was never intended to be a people's book. The council of Niccea composed this book as more of a constitution. A book to put fear into any nation who opposed them (like the Hebrews). Now you could only pray to God using the Christian method and our savior from our country. Only in the name of Jesus would God hear you from now on.

Thanks for any input.

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This seems to be a good summary of modern scholarship relating to who wrote the Bible and why.

What do our resident experts think?


They think they're experts, and thank you for the catnip.

Ducking the subjective label of 'expert,' ... looks like an A paper to me and generally consistent with what I've studied thus far. Though I hadn't heard of Paul being so influenced by Gnosticism. I'd have thought more like he cherry picked a few bits, but not enough that I'd call it "Influence." Interesting theory. Eager to follow up with more.

Some important points the author drives home that I wish more Christians would wake up to:

- "Based on the Negative Evidence Principle, we have good reason to doubt the historicity of Jesus and that lack of reliable evidence suggests no good reason to accept it."

- That the earliest writings about Jesus were written well after Jesus' supposed lifetime, and these writings neglect some of the details that would later come up in the gospels: Further lending to the altered history/mythology theme.

- That even then, it was common practice of the time to attribute authorship to someone else. We know for certain at least some of Paul's letters were not written by him.

- That "Original" Christianity ("Real" if you will, before folks started co-opting it for new agendas) was a revival of sorts for Judaism. Sorry all you anti-Semitic Christians out there.

- That up until Constantine and Nicaea there were many competing doctrines and churches, none having any less claim to 'truth' than the other (since none of them have any solid foundation in factual events). Any one of them could have won the game of king of the Christian mountain. Alas, the collective prom queen at Nicaea with the backing of Rome, and its swords, emerges as the winner. Pure coincidence, I'm sure. (/Sarcasm)

In short, if this were any other religion, Christians would be quick (and correct) to point out that the entire thing smells of a conglomeration of myths and personal/social/political wishes of the various authors, none of which should be taken as having a scrap of historical accuracy.

Mythology aficionados would note that those myths/legends that stick are usually rooted in some real person, persons or events. But with so many writings, from so many sources, with so much agenda behind them and with so much corroborating/opposing evidence being lost to time, it would be impossible to say which scraps of the Jesus story if any had any grain of fact to inspire them.
I'm not one of the experts whom you called upon, but I do find the article interesting.

>
Indeed, when scholars apply the Negative Evidence Principle, it begins to look like the Jesus we know from the New Testament is the result of late first-century mythmaking.
>

This made me smile, because I recall when a former friend who was extremely xtian fundy said something about "the historical record of Jesus."

One of my atheist friends said that he considers Jesus "to be one of the greatest blokes of all time. It is just too bad that his followers don't try to be more like him."

When my son who is atheist, and I discuss religion and its role in history, I usually take the stance that Christianity can be credited for much of the more humane developments, despite notable exceptions such as the Spanish Inquisition. At this moment, however, the thought occurs to me that the credit should go, oddly enough, to human nature itself. Human nature deserves credit for a drive to cooperate and make things better for each other just as much as it gets credit for murder and destruction.
Additional note: the article notes a possibility that Paul may have been a gay man. I have often wondered about that. Paul wrote, regarding sexual desire, that he wished that all men could be as himself but since they weren't, it was "better to marry than to burn." Considering that Paul was also somewhat of a misogynist, then one might consider that in his mind, heterosexual desire was particularly bad.

Nonetheless, I have enjoyed reading those writings attributed to him. They are very stirring and I have even heard them referred by Christians as "Paul's love letters."
Given how often the most vehemently anti-gay holy rollers turn out to be gay themselves, I wouldn't rule out the possibility that Paul's writings are the original form of Christian Self Loathing.

Ahhh, to be able to jump in a time machine and be a fly on someone's wall!
This question is a bit misplaced. The "Bible" was not "composed" in the same way, say, a novel is "composed"--one author or a couple of authors sitting down for a period of time to write a continuous work. The Bible is a collection of individual books from two separate religions, spanning several thousands of years in date, with more interpolations and post-authorial stitching together than you care to think about.

So to ask about a specific "purpose" for the Bible is a little short-sighted if you think about the full history of the bloody thing. Interestingly, "The Bible" is a phenomenon from several centuries after Christ, when the Christian Fathers got together and decided what books were "in" and what books were "out." This is an old story, but it makes it clear that when you think about the purpose of the Bible, it is better to think about the purpose of the book itself and not the purpose of the compositions within it. This may seem like splitting hairs, but I think they are important ones to split. I mean, to think that the author of Ezekiel, for example, had a purpose in any way similar to Paul is too far fetched to be plausible (whatever the Christians will say about fulfilled prophecies and all that...).

The Bible is a lot of things, used for a lot of purposes in a lot of different contexts, and it was so from the start. But it is a tradition in every religion to have a central text or collection of texts in which the core doctrines and sources of "faith" are located, whatever its later uses end up being. So nowadays the Bible can be the proof for why homosexuals should be killed, condoms should be outlawed, etc., etc. You find in it what you want to find, but always with an agenda.

The Bible is really the ultimate Judeo-Christian agenda, the glory of Paul and the Rabbis, some of the greatest myth makers in human history.
If we were to ask the Emperor Julian this question it is likely that he would respond thus:

"It is, I think, expedient to set forth to all mankind the reasons by which I was convinced that the fabrication of the Christians
is a fiction of men composed by wickedness.

Though it has in it nothing divine,
by making full use of that part of the soul
which loves fable and is childish and foolish,
it has induced men to believe
that the monstrous tale is truth.
the bible was composed, or rather compiled, to iron out and make seem legitimate the beliefs of the christians, and to expel certain beliefs from christian conventional doctrine.

on the matter of the historicity of yeshua, that will never be settled ... and on the possible other myths that the christ was derived from, after yeshua was deified ... i agree that the people who put together zeitgeist should have done their homework. osiris is a better model for the christ than his son, horus. so is dionysus, especially the dionysus of the orpheic mysteries, which included a communion identical to the christian one where people could become one with the body of Dionysus.

The Orpheic mysteries taught that in the end Dionysus was going to replace Zeus as the Cosmic Ruler just as Zeus replaced his father, and Chronos had replaced Saturn, etc. Dionysus would reign 'at the right hand of his father Zeus' ... and his mortal mother Semele was also deified and 'ascended to heaven' just like the doctrine of the Assumption of the Virgin did with Jesus' mother.

When Jesus said 'I am the vine' this does not make sense to us today but to an ancient Greek, they knew exactly who they were talking about: the god of the wine was Dionysus. To them, Jesus was stating his identity as one and the same with Dionysus. This was brilliant propaganda on the part of Christians, in a world dominated by these Greek ideas.

but on the fact that christianity was born as an egyptian sect, probably a proto-gnostic sect, of that there can be little doubt. in fact, there was a cup that was found under the waters in Alexandria recently which read 'jesus the mage'. the jesus the mage cup is remarkable, not so much because it says that jesus was wizard (and the cup is believed to have been used in oracles) but because it was dated to PRIOR to the Common Era, in other words Jesus was worshiped as a mage in Alexandria even BEFORE the Yeshua of history was even born.

And so it seems like, just as the deities 'El' and 'Jehovah' were commingled in the moses story in the old testament, so also the deities 'yeshua' and 'christ' were also combined in the new testament, and this was all cleverly done via scriptures whose authors we'll never know.
A small number of rational observations here, mixed with a large amount of misinformation. The amount of misinformation gets nauseating towards the end though...

"osiris is a better model for the christ than his son, horus. so is dionysus, especially the dionysus of the orpheic mysteries, which included a communion identical to the christian one where people could become one with the body of Dionysus."

Actually, neither of those comparisons works at all. Comparing Osiris to Jesus is bound to be a cluster of failures, and the same goes for Dionysus (unless we take the later Dionysus cults, but then, those are probably influenced by Christian and Jewish ideas themselves).

As for the "communion" being identical... ummmm, the ritual in the Dionysus cults consisted of getting shit-faced drunk and having sex orgies. I can't find many similarities there.

"The Orpheic mysteries taught that in the end Dionysus was going to replace Zeus as the Cosmic Ruler just as Zeus replaced his father, and Chronos had replaced Saturn, etc. Dionysus would reign 'at the right hand of his father Zeus' ..."

Ummmm, none of this is even vaguely similar to the Jesus story. The classic Greek theme of son-kills-father-to-take-over-the-world doesn't apply to the ideas of the Trinity, for obvious reasons. Not to mention that the ideas of the trinity are much later Christian developments.

"and his mortal mother Semele was also deified and 'ascended to heaven' just like the doctrine of the Assumption of the Virgin did with Jesus' mother."

? The legend of Dionysus goes that Semele was struck by Zeus' lightning during sex (don't ask me how that happened) and died on the spot. Dionysus was rescued by Zeus and implanted in his thigh.
In other words, your information is completely false.

"When Jesus said 'I am the vine' this does not make sense to us today but to an ancient Greek, they knew exactly who they were talking about: the god of the wine was Dionysus. To them, Jesus was stating his identity as one and the same with Dionysus. This was brilliant propaganda on the part of Christians, in a world dominated by these Greek ideas."

It's never been explained by anyone why on Earth a Jewish sect like Christianity, who were incredibly hostile to pagan ideas, would suddenly turn around and start incorporating elements of these much despised pagan cults into them.
Jesus' statement of "I am the vine" is part of a larger analogy ("You are the branches, etcetera"). It's no more significant than any of the other dozens of comparisons and parables he makes: he compares himself to the sea, to the sky, to the light, to a vineyard, to seeds, to a pearl, to a shepherd... the list goes on. Wine and other agricultural items often return in Jesus' stories because he was talking to farmers and lower-class citizens.
Any connection with Dionysus is speculation, and wild and contrived speculation at that.

"but on the fact that christianity was born as an egyptian sect, probably a proto-gnostic sect, of that there can be little doubt. in fact, there was a cup that was found under the waters in Alexandria recently which read 'jesus the mage'. the jesus the mage cup is remarkable, not so much because it says that jesus was wizard (and the cup is believed to have been used in oracles) but because it was dated to PRIOR to the Common Era, in other words Jesus was worshiped as a mage in Alexandria even BEFORE the Yeshua of history was even born."

Total bullshit. There's not a single true statement in this entire paragraph.

Seriously mate, you need to check your sources more carefully. For a rationalist, that really shouldn't be too hard.
As I said here before, you can certainly find lots of claimed parallels between Jesus and other mythic figures, but when you start investigating and try to find where the correspondent texts, you quickly find that you can't find them. That's because those parallels are made up.
In other cases, they are simply exaggerated.
In either case, by the end of any search for these supposed parallels you wind up with a list like "Well ummmm, mythic figure X and Jesus both had kinda miraculous births and they had kinda miraculous lives... so there." Big deal. That's how humans tell story.
It was originally remarked that .....

in fact, there was a cup that was found under the waters in Alexandria recently which read 'jesus the mage'. the jesus the mage cup is remarkable, not so much because it says that jesus was wizard (and the cup is believed to have been used in oracles) but because it was dated to PRIOR to the Common Era, in other words Jesus was worshiped as a mage in Alexandria even BEFORE the Yeshua of history was even born."

to which the response was given:

@MATT wrote .... Total bullshit. There's not a single true statement in this entire paragraph. Seriously mate, you need to check your sources more carefully


@MATT - it is now up to you to provide a novel explanation of this archaeological find -- or to retract your statement. Here is a SOURCE about this "bowl" and its implications from the Discovery Channel



Earliest Reference Describes Christ as 'Magician' 'By Christ the Magician' | Video: Discovery Archaeology .Oct. 1, 2008 --
A team of scientists led by renowned French marine archaeologist Franck Goddio recently announced that they have found a bowl, dating to between the late 2nd century B.C. and the early 1st century A.D., that, according to an expert epigrapher, could be engraved with the world's first known reference to Christ.

If the word "Christ" refers to the Biblical Jesus Christ, as is speculated, then the discovery may provide evidence that Christianity and paganism at times intertwined in the ancient world.

The full engraving on the bowl reads, "DIA CHRSTOU O GOISTAIS," which has been interpreted by French epigrapher and professor emeritus Andre Bernand as meaning either, "by Christ the magician" or "the magician by Christ."
Come come, Melody, let's be good rationalists and check our facts before we start awarding points, shall we? Then we'll say just how "nicely researched" all this is.

Hiram claimed that this cup was dated PRIOR to Jesus' birth. That was wrong: the cup is dated to 200 BC - 50 AD. Even if I accepted the cup to be a reference to Jesus (which would be awesome, since it would give me a killer argument for Jesus' historicity), the carbon dating leaves plenty of room for it to be influenced by a historical Jesus.

He also claimed that the cup reads "Jesus the mage". That was wrong too: for one, and to be pedantic, even the believers only say it says "Christ the mage", which is a lot more vague since "Christ" is simply a nickname which means "the Anointed".
But the problems stretch far beyond that. First of all, the proposed translation "Christ the mage" can't work (apart from the fact that "mage" would hardly be the word to characterise Jesus with): goistais (coming from goes: magician) is not genitive singular (which it would have to be if it referred to "Crestou", since that would be genitive singular), it is in fact dative plural, which means it translates as "to the magicians". That alone kicks that contrived translation down the drain.
But, as coup de grace, it's very likely that the word inscribed isn't actually "Christus" at all. That's because even a cursory glance at the cup shows you that there's a H (the Greek capital èta) between the P and the C. That means the word inscribed (in lexical Greek) is not "Chr[i]stus" but "Chrèstou" coming from the word "Chrestos" which means kindness. Chrestou then means, in conjunction with the first word "dia": "through the kindness of" and was often used when giving presents (as in: "[Given] through the kindness of Matt", or something like that.
The cup would then read: "[Given] Through kindness to the magicians" indicating that it's a gift to some set of magicians. That's a much less contrived and fanciful translation, and is ultimately much more reasonable given the alternative.

And then Hiram also made grand claims like that "it is pretty much certain that Christianity was born out of an Egyptian sect etcetera", and that was again, pure bullshit and wishful thinking on his part.

So no, not point and match. What we have here is wild speculation and guesswork. As usual. We have a bunch of archaelogists forcing a fanciful and contrived translation (probably in order to get media attention) and sensationalist news sources (Discovery Channel, msnbc) running with the story, creating even with more speculation and conjecture in the process. And fooling a lot of people.

So, do I get a "point and match" too, Melody? I know I'm a party pooper because I do my research and check my facts and all that hard stuff, but hey, history isn't usually as simple as certain sources would like you to believe. It often requires doing a bit of work, looking through sensationalist garbage and not simply believing whatever you want because it appeals to your biases.

I expect nothing less of a rationalist.
"You made it sound like he made the whole thing up and you didn't even bother to present any of your "research" on this cup then, did you?"

I never said that it was made up, I said that it was bullshit. Which it is. His information is totally wrong. It doesn't matter where he got it from: it was bullshit.
- He said that the cup said "Jesus the mage". Which it doesn't say.
- He also says that it was dated to before Jesus was born. That was false too.
- He also said that this was evidence that Jesus was worshipped as a mage in Alexandria prior to 0 AD, which by extension is false too.

So in other words, all he got right was "There was a cup that was found in Alexandria". Well, congratulations.
Oh, he also got right that there's a city in Egypt called Alexandria. Maybe I should give him credit there too?

"There was a cup. That was true."

Wow. Yes, indeed, there was. Next time I see such profound wisdom I will surely praise the bringer of it.

"When do you suppose that the Christ Jesus icon was supposed to have been born? Surely not before 200 B.C.E.?"

I can't make sense out of that sentence. The cup was made anywhere from 200 B.C.E. to 50 AD. So the statement that the cup was dated to before Jesus' birth is false whichever way you look at it.

"The thing that I was referring to that I thought was amusing, that you found so offensive was that you seemed to dismiss even the existence of such a cup altogether so easily."

Oh for fuck's sake: that's because it doesn't in fact exist. Did you even read my post?
THERE'S NO CUP THAT SAYS "JESUS THE MAGE". NONE. IT DOESN'T EXIST. THERE'S ONLY A CUP THAT SAYS "THROUGH KINDNESS TO THE MAGICIANS". THAT'S ALL.

What happened was:

- Himar said that there was a cup that said "Jesus the Mage"
- I said that that was bullshit and that there was nothing of the sort
- Jack shows me a (non-peerreviewed sensationalist) article that makes roughly the same statement as Himar
- I debunk that and show that it's bullshit

So my statement stands: there's no such cup. And the idea that it does or that it implies anything is bullshit.

What you did, on the other hand, was simply assume that the cup Jack showed served as sufficient justification for Himar's "Jesus the Mage" cup and that the information contained therein was correct. And now you're getting mad when I point out that you jumped to a conclusion.

"I thought you were wrong to dismiss it bullshit without addressing his point first and I thought Jack was on point for showing the actual article with the cup and the information that Hiram was talking about, so that we could all get some back ground information, instead of just, "this is all just bullshit". (The cornerstone of any "rationalist" argument.)"

It was bullshit. I'm very sorry if I don't take the time to neatly debunk every tiny aspect of false information that someone got from a documentary. I focused on the big picture: showing that his pagan analogies were false. His "Jesus the mage" cup was a side-step and so I dismissed it. Justly.

"Sorry, no points for either jumping to conclusions if you didn't know about the cup, or not bothering to explain and give him credit if you did."

I explained it in detail the moment somebody challenged me on it. Again, if you expect me to debunk in detail why the "Christ the mage" translation doesn't work (which anybody with 5 minutes time can find on the internet anyway) every time somebody even vaguely mentions that idea, then you might want to alter those expectations: I simply don't have the time for that, but I'm more than happy to spend some time debunking it when it becomes important.

That fair enough for you?
I'm with you Melody, MattVDB is simply swearing, stomping his feet, and yelling. If his arguments have any credibility with readers (IMO), he quickly flushes that down the toilet with sweeping statements and temper tantrums.

Saying something is "wrong" or "bullshit" is pointless. An intelligent response never begins with "bullshit", it begins with a well cited counterpoint, or better yet, questions asking for further explanation.

So, from reading Matt's various rants here, it appears he is strongly biased towards the existence of christ, the accuracy and validity of the gospels (IE he appears certain Christ was literally born at 0 CE.) and would vigorously defend that faith and confidence in the holy scriptures starting with some evidence and when that ceases to work, resort to name calling and swearing.

I am highly suspicious that Matt is a sock puppet for Peter Hitchens or school of, but who knows.

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