The Historicality of Jesus Christ. Who cares?

There is some debate among scholars on the historicality of Jesus Christ. Was the story given in the New Testament about Jesus based on a real historical figure? There is a movement that now poses it as a serious question but they are mostly considered fringe radicals. Most Christian scholars scoff at the question which is no surprise due to their Christian beliefs. Honestly, I believe that the “radicals” offer much compelling evidence for the case of a fictional Jesus though I do 

not believe that it is enough to positively conclude that there is no possibility of a historical Jesus.

So where does that leave us and why am I bothering to write about it? The bottom line is, it just doesn’t matter. Two thousand years of history doesn’t care and it really wouldn’t affect 6.9 billion Christians in the world today if Jesus was found out to be fictional creation. People for 2000 years have lived, fought and died as Christians. If we were to positively find out that Jesus was not a real historical person it would not change 2000 years of Christian history. It would not change the minds of most Christians today even if they were given irrefutable proof.

There have been many studies on failed doomsday cults. The one common factor is that when the date given for end of the world comes and goes few actually leave the religion, but most actually become more devout. They simply come up with some new explanation as to why the world did not end such as we were given a second chance by the sky gods. Jesus as an apoplectic prophet was very clear in John that many of his disciples would not die before the kingdom of heaven was established on earth. They have all been dead for about two thousand years and there are more Christians than ever. Jesus’s failed prophecy had very little or almost no effect on the proliferation of the religion.

Isaiah 7 speaks of God delivering Judea from the Assyrians. It says that a child would be born of a young woman and that before the boy knew to reject wrong and choose right that the land of the two kings that the Judeans dreaded would be laid to waste. This was clearly speaking specifically only of the situation concerning Judea at that time, in the 8th century BCE. The Christians twisted this to be a prophecy that Jesus Christ would be the Messiah eight hundred years later. In the same section the Christians mistranslated the term young woman from Hebrew into Greek and changed the word to virgin. The Christians then not only took a prophecy completely out of context but changed the meaning and wording. If God had wanted to tell of a future messiah born of a virgin in 800 years he certainly would have clearly said so and in context.

 This passage is now one of the cornerstones of the religion, the virgin birth of Jesus Christ. It does not matter to Christians that it is completely based on misinformation.

Let’s say hypothetically that the real God Yahweh said in a

 great voice to everyone in the world, all at once, in their native tongue, “I am Yahweh the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob the God of Israel. Christianity is a false religion that was not my will, and was made up by man, follow the Jewish religion and follow my commands.” What would Christian’s response be?
Studies show that they would certainly become more devout and entrenched in their religion. As a former Christian I can say with confidence I would have probably believed (as indoctrinated that it was simply Satan trying to trick me into leaving the Christian religion and that it was a test allowed by God. I would have certainly become more religious and even less likely to leave it. Sociology and psychology certainly show that most Christians would respond similarly.

So what if Jesus Christ was proven beyond any doubt, never to have been a real historical person? Would it actually matter or have any effect on Christians?
If Jesus Christ was proven to be an actual historical person it would n

ot matter to atheist either. It would only prove that there was a Jewish rabbi that was eventually considered to be a god, not that he was divine or a supernatural being.

So who would really care one way or the other? It seems that it would only really matter to a few historians, but would have minimal consequence on Christian/non-Christian beliefs. The debate on the historicality of Jesus has and will remain a moot point, reserved for the intellectual pursuits of scholars and theologians that will never have any real effect theological conversations. As atheist in debates or conversations with others we must therefore focus on other subjects that Christians will be more amiable to consider. Science is a great thing to point out to the younger generations. My favorite for older generations who have been indoctrinated into Christianity is the bible itself. There was more than enough in the Bible itself for me to realize the bible was grossly flawed and written by man.

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Comment by Joan Denoo on September 5, 2016 at 9:29pm

A quick observation, there are, as of 2010, Christianity an estimated 2.2 billion adherents. The total world population as of today is 7,448,452,500+. 

Comment by Michael Penn on September 5, 2016 at 8:33pm

UPDATE:  I'm browsing and reading when I discover in "Answers in Genesis" that Caesar gave an edict about the time of Jesus' crucifixion (was it crucifiction?) that stated plainly that "people were going to have to stop stealing the bodies of those crucified." To the AIG crowd that settled it. Rome had just admitted that Jesus was resurrected.

It didn't mean that to me at all. Most of the crucified were buried in mass graves anyway. Man, these believers just keep on reaching and making bizarre claims. Anything to avoid death, but hey, that's what it's all about. Study the resurrected saviors. Jesus was not the only one.

Comment by James on September 3, 2016 at 10:07am

All we know is Jesus the myth, which is hardly historical. It was likely not even his real name. His birth name probably wasn't catchy enough to use anyways. 

Comment by Michael Penn on September 3, 2016 at 9:41am

You find bits and pieces written all the time talking about "the historical Jesus." The problem here is that no historians of his times have said a word. That's how much his death and resurrection rated in those days. Is this Roman suppression? Is it another trick of the devil similar to the dinosaur bones that we are finding everywhere?

We are to believe by faith only when many of Jesus times saw him risen and walking around among the believers. That idiot Paul said that Jesus was seen by upwards of 500 people "most of which are still alive today." That settles it. You just have to believe what the book says.

Maybe 2 plus 2 equals 5.

Comment by Michael Penn on August 27, 2016 at 6:11am

The Jesus nonsense just keeps going on. Visiting nutjob sites on You Tube I'm finding the most outrageous claims and often I comment. One person on there was speaking of Jesus and he says "but death could not hold him." WTF? Something must have held him because I haven't seen him around. Jesus also claimed his followers would see him return in glory in their own lifetimes. A preacher even said years ago that some of the original 12 might be alive today. Is he kidding?

True believers often point out that Jesus is the only person to conquer death. Not only have they missed many other passages in their Buybull, they have also failed to read histories of other gods. Many others conquered death but I ask the same question - where are they today?

Here's a good sci fi movie. They all come back to earth and duel it out. Sounds like a children's Japanese epic.

Comment by Daniel W on August 26, 2016 at 9:19am
My thought has long been that, if there was - or were - flesh and blood people who, by their life (lives) and actions catalyzed the Jesus legend, there have been so many fictions added that the real person could be nothing more than the seed from which the legend grew. Assume - just assume - there was a homeless guy in ancient Israel who was kind of crazy, sonetimes ranted, told weird stories, and after being a thorn in the ass to local dictators and Roman occupiers wound up joining the legions of corpses on crosses lining the highway. There could have been more than one such person. The local Jewish population was persecuted, enslaved, their temple destroyed, their religious laws superseded, and their suppsed god who chose them as his special favorites, teacher's pets, absolutely, totally, abandoned them. The idea of messiah is compelling and uplifting. "Did you hear about" stories circulate. The bipolar Saul of Tarsus hears the stories too, has his visions and the snowball grows bigger. In the melting pot of Roman empire religions, stories mix, and the most successful religion contains the most compelling stories from various religions. Roman Catholicism is obviously a mix of monotheism and Roman gods - a visit to the vatican is like visiting a massive Roman temple. So in the end - even if there was a character whose story grew snd morphed into the start of a Jesus legend, the legend is so unlike the original reality, it doesnt matter how it started.


Which kind of puts me in compelled believer's camp.

And Michael's scholarship is way better than anything I can dream of coming up with.

And I agree completely with Loren. Very compelling.
Comment by Compelledunbeliever on August 26, 2016 at 8:52am

Loren, your optimism is refreshing! I did attempt to realistic perhaps I was mistakenly fatalistic. Thank you for the encouragement!

Comment by Loren Miller on August 26, 2016 at 8:38am

I think it matters because Jesus matters to believers ... and in at least some cases, the weight of evidence against his purported existence can have the power to sway those who may have doubts to our side.  I don't expect to move the true believers or those who have a profit motive, such as Hovind or Ham, but these approaches and others like them provide disruptions to the belief network that theists build up.

It's likely we'll never get everyone, but make no mistake that it makes a difference.  It may be the death of faith by a thousand cuts, but it still has the opportunity to work.

Comment by Compelledunbeliever on August 26, 2016 at 8:37am

Thank you Michael, eloquent and insightful as always.

Comment by Michael Penn on August 26, 2016 at 8:28am

Many point out today that Isaiah wrote of Jesus 800 years in advance and this is yet another proof of prophesy. Wrong. Isaiah was most likely referring to Cyrus the Great, whom he admired and many thought would be a deliverer for Israel.

Then we have Jesus and his birthplace jacked around and he rode into cities on a donkey or an ass, and once was said to ride an ass and a colt at the same time. This is not fulfilled prophesy. It is an "attempt" to fulfill prophesy. There were many contenders for title of Messiah (Mashiach) in those days. Possibly a real man named Yeshua existed that the bible writings are based on. It would make no difference really.

We live in a world where people believe what they want to regardless of evidence. Many are upset that people are named "Jesus" in Mexico. Some still believe the devil planted the dinosaur bones, and just as many deny any other "saviors" prior to Jesus who had 12 disciples. These same people think "the cross" is an original sign. Rather than an emblem of execution it becomes a symbol of power in a religious and supernatural way.

Yes, the bible is very much flawed and not much would change if Jesus was proven to be a real historical man. Strange that outside of the bible nothing much is said of him.

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