Atheist scholars believe in a historical Jesus???

I've been debating on and off with Christians in the blog of Rev. Brian Zahnd. Most recently I've been arguing with the Reverend himself in his post titled Knowing and Believing. In the comments following his post I mentioned that I didn't believe that a historical Jesus ever existed. Rev. Zahnd was shocked by my statement and claimed that he had never heard a single scholar make that assertion, even an atheist scholar. I have never heard of an atheist scholar who did believe a historical Jesus existed. At most, every atheist I know might CONSIDER the POSSIBILITY of the existence of a historical Jesus, but they just don't believe the man was the divine son of God. But that doesn't mean that they believe Jesus existed, they just simply accept that it's possible. There's a difference between accepting the possibility of something and believing in it's reality.

I feel like sheep among a pack of hungry wolves in that blog. Perhaps someone else here might be able to argue my points better than I did. I got into debates in another post titled Letter to an Atheist. As you read thru it you'll notice I got into a heated debate awhile back that I let get a little out of hand.

If anyone reads through those posts I'd be curious to know what you think.

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Comment by DeafAtheist on July 14, 2009 at 11:49am
I didn't see anything in there about atheist scholars that believe in an historical Jesus.
Comment by Matthew Dolezal on July 14, 2009 at 1:44am
Here are some scholars.
Comment by Robert Conner on March 31, 2009 at 11:20pm
There was probably a real guy named Jesus who preached the end of the world and did magic: You'll be surprised how much damage the New Testament can do to Christianity. Pleasantly surprised.
Comment by Michael on March 13, 2009 at 5:01pm
Some may argue that a man named Jesus did exist about 2000 years ago and that there is a kernel of truth contained in the New Testament stories about him. But where is the truth in those tales of the virgin birth, raising Lazarus from the dead, walking on water, resurrection from death and ascension into heaven? Take away those obvious fables and what are we left with? Not much. Certainly nothing of importance.
Comment by Ajita Kamal on February 21, 2009 at 4:23pm
Thanks for your recommendation of The Reason Driven Life. It sounds like something I could give my mom. I have heard Bob Price on at least 15 separate instances and the breadth of his knowledge is amazing. He also comes across as legitimate because of his theological background and his extensive knowledge about the original manuscripts in Greek and Hebrew.

I think Acharya S has a bad rap because she was attacked more than Price was. Bob Price is a hard target for the Christians to go after because of his background. But from what I've heard, Acharya S is actually more well researched in some areas, like for example about the history about the historicity of Jesus movement in the US. Her perspective comes from studying all mythology, as opposed to Bob Price's Christian centric perspective. Acharya S lived in Greece and is fluent in the language. Even Bob Price has commended her on the quality of her work. There are some youtube clips of her going at it. Check her out.

Finally Rook Hawkins. I dont subscribe to the idea that one has to be formally qualified to be an expert (Rook is 24 and was home-schooled) but there is something to be said about the process of peer review. He has never been published in peer reviewed journals and therefore has never been subjected to academic scrutiny. His popularity is more of the viral kind, propelled by the internet. I listened to one talk by him last year and left more confused than ever. I personally don't think that there was one historical Jesus whom the stories have mythologized, but it doesn't help our cause when our most famous Jesus denier is a self-taught pretentious kid. Our society needs to start recognizing that knowledge comes with years of hard work, not with being popular by generating controversy.
Comment by DeafAtheist on February 21, 2009 at 3:56pm
I've read Robert Price's The Reason Driven Life. It's one of my all-time favorite books on the subject of skepticism which I've recommended to a lot of other people. I'd like to read more of his stuff if I get a chance. I've heard of Achrya S too, but heard her claims were more about propaganda than fact although she has good ideas. I wouldn't know for sure tho because my knowledge of her stuff is limited.
Comment by DeafAtheist on February 21, 2009 at 3:49pm
Ajita: I've read one of Bob Price's books... The Reason Driven Life and it's one of my all-time favorite books which I recommend to everyone whether they are a believer or not. Handing a believer a copy of The God Delusion by Dawkins or God is not Great by Hitchens is likely to be met with contempt, but giving them a copy of The Reason Driven Life might make a difference. I'd really like to read more of Bob Price's stuff. I have heard of Achrya S too, but heard she more about propaganda than fact despite having good ideas.
Comment by Ajita Kamal on February 21, 2009 at 3:43pm
By the conventional definition, Rook Hawkins is no scholar. There was a fallout last year over someone else claiming that he is. He definitely is well read about the issue.
There are "real" scholars who seriously doubt that Jesus Christ ever existed. Dr. Robert Price and Achrya S. Check out Bob Price, he has appeared in numerous segments over the years and has written several influential books. Acharya S has also done some nice research.
Comment by DeafAtheist on February 21, 2009 at 1:45pm
Jennifer: That much I knew. I just didn't get how Rev. Zahnd got the idea that atheist scholars believe a historic Jesus lived.

Phoenix: I read The God Delusion but couldn't recall that from memory. I'll have to look it up in my copy of the book. In an internet search I've found several websites devoted to debunking the idea or belief of a historical Jesus, but hadn't found any specific scholars. I imagine a credible scholar would be one with a degree in history.
Comment by PhoenixFlash on February 21, 2009 at 9:54am
There are more than a few atheist scholars (not sure who constitutes a "scholar" though) who doubt Jesus was real, although some, even Dawkins, posits he may be historical (pg 122, God Delusion). Take a look at this, it is a good summary of the arguments against a historical Jesus. It particulary addresses suppposed historical references to Jesus not found in Christian writings.

I'm sure you can find other sources with a quick internet search.



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