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Historicity of Jesus

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Re: Historicity of Jesus

Postby Milo » Tue Jul 01, 2014 5:31 pm

What strikes me is how modern Christians seem to believe mainly in the spiritual Jesus. Nine times out of ten they quote the epistles, not the gospel. Jesus is a spiritual being that lives in heaven, sits at the right hand of God, has existed forever, and created the world. Their communion with Jesus consists of finding his words in scripture and a fuzzy feeling in the belly. His preaching on earth has minor significance compared to the ritual sacrifice that could have taken place anywhere or anytime. Our idea of heaven is completely different from the first century. Instead of the heavens being composed of layers which contained copies of things here on earth and a place where demons and spirits ruled and above that the abode of God, we have now banished heaven to another dimension. There is no reason Jesus could not have been crucified in a spiritual realm if you accept the cosmology of the time. It doesn't change the theology. 99.99% of Christians were converted by believing Jesus had been resurrected, not by evidence or seeing it happen. An actual human Jesus has so little to do with the salvation plan that the idea there was no real Jesus is not shocking to me.
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Re: Historicity of Jesus

Postby ThorGoLucky » Tue Jul 01, 2014 7:25 pm

Richard Carrier's book, On the Historicity of Jesus: Why We Might Have Reason for Doubt is now available in print.

http://freethoughtblogs.com/carrier/archives/5782
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Re: Historicity of Jesus

Postby BeamStalk » Tue Jul 01, 2014 11:10 pm

This is a topic I am interested in. I too have swung back and forth between myth and real. I used to site the convoluted story of the census as a quasi proof, why not have him just born in Bethlehem instead of making his family travel there if you are making him from whole cloth. Then I heard a historian, Reza Aslan, who just did a book on Jesus talking about how the early church would have known that the story of the Census was false but it was a way to say that Jesus was of the line of David.

So I guess I can definitely see that the idea of Jesus the myth is plausible but I still think that there was a real Jesus. Although I do not believe the Bible is even close to an accurate account of his life. I think the only possible thing that is true in it is Jesus and the money changers in the Temple.
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Re: Historicity of Jesus

Postby Chris » Wed Jul 02, 2014 8:29 am

Here's Bart Erhman addressing the question.
If perchance I have offended, think but this, and all is mended, that you have but slumbered here, while a vision did appear. A Midsummer Night's Dream
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Re: Historicity of Jesus

Postby Milo » Wed Jul 02, 2014 12:01 pm

BeamStalk wrote:This is a topic I am interested in. I too have swung back and forth between myth and real. I used to site the convoluted story of the census as a quasi proof, why not have him just born in Bethlehem instead of making his family travel there if you are making him from whole cloth. Then I heard a historian, Reza Aslan, who just did a book on Jesus talking about how the early church would have known that the story of the Census was false but it was a way to say that Jesus was of the line of David.

So I guess I can definitely see that the idea of Jesus the myth is plausible but I still think that there was a real Jesus. Although I do not believe the Bible is even close to an accurate account of his life. I think the only possible thing that is true in it is Jesus and the money changers in the Temple.


Of all things that happened in the gospels, I would peg the temple clearing to be false. The temple was huge with troops posted to prevent any such incidents. I don't see how Jesus could have made the ruckus claimed by the gospel without being immediately arrested. This goes against inerrancy, not historicity, but John moves the temple clearing to the beginning of Jesus's ministry. Some Christians believe Jesus did this twice in order to cling to the idea there are no contradictions.
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Re: Historicity of Jesus

Postby zilch » Wed Jul 02, 2014 12:39 pm

Milo wrote:Of all things that happened in the gospels, I would peg the temple clearing to be false.

I don't know, milo. I think Jesus withering the fig tree is perhaps even less likely than the temple clearing.
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Re: Historicity of Jesus

Postby Milo » Wed Jul 02, 2014 3:06 pm

zilch wrote:
Milo wrote:Of all things that happened in the gospels, I would peg the temple clearing to be false.

I don't know, milo. I think Jesus withering the fig tree is perhaps even less likely than the temple clearing.


The fig tree and the clearing of the temple were written as a parable. The fig tree episode bookends the clearing of temple with one story illuminating the other. It's purpose was to explain the end of the sacrificial system. Neither story actually happened. I guess I should have made clear I think most of the things written in the gospels are not based in fact. The clearing of the temple is often thought to have actually happened, while most people just scratch their heads over the story of the figs and ignore it.
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Re: Historicity of Jesus

Postby Chris » Wed Jul 02, 2014 3:12 pm

Many theologians argue that the story of Jesus is mythologized history. In other words people took the story of Jesus and added legendary embellishments to it. The withering of the fig tree may be an example of such embellishments. If such is the case it doesn't count against a historical Jesus, just as the legendary embellishments concerning George Washington don't count against his historicity.
Last edited by Chris on Wed Jul 02, 2014 3:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Historicity of Jesus

Postby Milo » Wed Jul 02, 2014 3:32 pm

Chris wrote:Many theologians argue that the story of Jesus is mythologized history. In other words people took the story of Jesus and added legendary embellishments to it. The withering of the fig tree may be an example of such embellishments. If such is the case it doesn't count against a historical Jesus, just as the legendary embellishments concerning George Washington count against his historicity.


Absolutely. The problem is then deciding which parts of the gospel are historically true.
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Re: Historicity of Jesus

Postby zilch » Wed Jul 02, 2014 4:05 pm

Chris and milo: yep, that sounds plausible. I think that's pretty much Ehrman's position too: a historical Jesus, but with supernatural embellishments.
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