In Case You Noticed All the Recent Comments…

Over the last 18 hours or so, many of my older posts received comments from a blogger called humblesmith. He’s a Christian who believes that the Bible is reliable and was inspired by God. He and I have interacted a number of times over the years, and while we see things very differently, I think we’ve both become impressed with one another’s sincerity.

Several weeks ago, humblesmith emailed me and told me that some time ago I had challenged him to rethink his beliefs and critically examine the evidence against Christianity. So unbeknownst to me, he began researching many of the criticisms that I’ve laid out against it. In his email, he stated that he had come to the end of his study, and he wanted to offer his responses. He was giving me a heads up that he would soon be posting comments on a number of my articles. So that’s what he’s been doing since last night.

I only write this post to make it clear to my regular readers that all these comments are not some kind of spam attack. These are sincere responses from a Christian who had the integrity to consider criticisms I’ve made against his beliefs. I’m going to do my best to pay him the same compliment that he’s paid me by taking his arguments seriously. He and I don’t currently see Christianity the same way, but I do think he’s a good and sincere person. And since he believes that eternity weighs in the balance, I honestly appreciate the care and concern he’s shown for me by offering these arguments. Even if we never ultimately agree, he’s earned my respect.

Of course, I welcome the input of anyone who wants to weigh in on these subjects, but I do hope everyone will treat humblesmith courteously and focus on the arguments, not the individual. Who knows, he may offer some insights we haven’t considered before.

Here is a list of the articles he’s recently commented on:
https://findingtruth.info/2014/06/13/does-the-bible-contain-true-prophecies/#comment-30185
https://findingtruth.info/2011/02/15/prophecy-part-1-introductio/#comment-30186
https://findingtruth.info/2011/02/16/prophecy-part-2-throne-forever/#comment-30187
https://findingtruth.info/2011/02/21/prophecy-part-4-triumphal-entry/#comment-30188
https://findingtruth.info/2011/02/18/prophecy-part-3-egypt-rachel/#comment-30189
https://findingtruth.info/2011/02/24/prophecy-part-6-tyre/#comment-30190
https://findingtruth.info/2014/09/05/an-examination-of-ezekiels-prophecy-of-tyre-part-1/#comment-30191
https://findingtruth.info/2014/09/11/tyre-by-the-numbers/#comment-30193
https://findingtruth.info/2011/02/25/prophecy-part-7-isaiah-53-and-psalm-22/#comment-30196
https://findingtruth.info/2011/03/01/prophecy-part-8-conclusion/#comment-30197
https://findingtruth.info/2011/03/04/contradictions-part-2-two-examples/#comment-30198
https://findingtruth.info/2011/03/08/contradictions-part-3-brief-examples/#comment-30200
https://findingtruth.info/2011/03/09/contradictions-part-4-hares-chewing-the-cud/#comment-30201
https://findingtruth.info/2011/03/10/contradictions-part-5-out-of-egypt/#comment-30202
https://findingtruth.info/2011/04/18/the-problem-of-hell-part-2-logical-issues/#comment-30203
https://findingtruth.info/2011/05/30/a-review-of-lee-strobel-the-problem-of-evil/#comment-30204
https://findingtruth.info/2014/01/10/romans-9-a-divine-and-fickle-dictator/#comment-30205
https://findingtruth.info/2012/02/29/skeptical-bible-study-daniel-chapter-1/#comment-30206

It’s quite a lot, as you can see. This is part of a response I gave to him in one of those last threads:

Hey humblesmith,

Thanks again for taking the time to dig into all of these. It will probably take me a while to fully answer all the comments you’ve left on the various posts. This just happens to be a really busy time for me work-wise, and I want to make sure I consider your points before just spouting off my initial reactions. But I will eventually get around to all of them.

So it might take me a while to go through all of these. Most of them, I haven’t had a chance to read yet. It’s possible that humblesmith might sound condescending in some of these — I don’t know yet. But if he does, let’s give him the benefit of the doubt. It’s not easy to read a whole bunch of criticisms of your worldview and then offer rebuttals without sometimes sounding short or flippant. I do think he’s a sincere individual, and I think his points deserve sincere consideration.

Thanks in advance to any of you who decide to help me look into these.

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103 thoughts on “In Case You Noticed All the Recent Comments…”

  1. I think this is great. One thing I love about you Nate, and this guy already is the willingness to look at all viewpoints and keep an open mind. If only everyone could.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. For someone called ‘ Humble,’ he seemed rather full of himself. From what I’ve observed, he seems to take our comments and ask himself, “How can I spin this so it appears to be quite the contrary from what the commenter has espoused?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. You could be right, Arch. But I like to give him the benefit of the doubt and try to take his points at face value. I just don’t want to fall into the trap of dismissing someone’s points because of potential personality issues. I’ve found that for me, if I do that, I struggle to remain objective about the arguments.

    Pretty good, Carmen. 🙂 You?

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I read two of the Comments and decided not to go further .. and not because I think my ideas would be challenged, it was because I had read much of it before.

    So many Christians say “but that is not us, that is those fundamentalists over there” or some such and yet, if you ask simple questions, we find there is a commonality amongst all of them. For one, who invented Hell? There is no mention of Hell in he OT, so Jesus invented Hell (as he is the author of the NT). (Now we know how Jesus, the prince of peace, differs from the ogre Yahweh.) Why the change in policy, Jesus? Yahweh had a soft focus Sheol, a dull place our souls go when we die. Jesus apparently has been taking funds from the Petroleum Institute as the fires in His creation run continuously. What kind of God would create literally billions of sentient beings merely to consign the vast majority of them to unending torture (emphasis on the unending)?

    So, debate all of the fine points you want; a god who invents Hell and uses it as has been done is a sick fuck and I will have no part of him/her/it.

    Liked by 4 people

  5. I looked through a few of his posts and his ‘About’ page. He’s one of those ‘every word is true in the Bible’ fellows and he’s definitely comfortable in his apologist role; I can sense his devout ‘countenance’. I see he has very few female commenters.
    There would be no debate with him – he’s completely immersed in his comforting fantasy.

    All good here Nate!

    Like

  6. Oh, and we got snow yesterday (mixed with rain) – it’s still cold here and I have a furnace fire going. . surely it’ll be warmer soon!

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  7. I applaud your civility, Nate.

    While I believe humblesmith is sincere, I don’t think he’s really taken anything you’ve written to heart. He’s simply offering his counter-arguments and refuting your statements.

    Here’s something he wrote in a recent comment on his own response to one of your articles:

    “Just to be clear, the Bible is in fact error-free, both factually and spiritually.”
    ~ humblesmith in a comment on this article: https://humblesmith.wordpress.com/2014/04/30/did-ezekiel-prophesy-correctly-about-tyre-part-1/

    I think we all know what an absolute statement indicates… 😦

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  8. Ah, yes, dear old Humblesmith. Been round the block with him before. So, is he sincere?
    Yeah, probably, just like Adolf.
    Benefit of the doubt? er … no.

    With this fundamentalist Dickhead you are very much on your own, Nate.

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  9. That was worth a chuckle, Ark. . . I believe it’s referred to as ‘hitting the nail on the head’ 🙂

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  10. I’m sorry Nate, but I disagree with you strongly on this one.

    A sincere person seeking a discussion won’t write this:

    “I think you know you are wrong on this,Nate. Do the right thing and pull it.”

    Referring to the article https://findingtruth.info/2014/09/05/an-examination-of-ezekiels-prophecy-of-tyre-part-1/#comment-30191

    No benefit of doubt to be had at least where I’m concern. This is the showing of an extremely conceited person that reeks of pride.

    Certainly I will keep peace. But you are making rest of us look bad lol.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Hi Nate,

    My compliments to you on this. I appreciate your willingness to discuss.

    I have looked up a few of the comments, and find that his is a different view of christianity and the Bible to mine, so I guess I am somewhere in the middle of the two of you, though I guess closer to his end than yours (at least mostly).

    But I agree with you about not judging his attitude. Attitude looks different depending on where one sits. Just as many christians who hold to their beliefs are accused of many personal failings by atheists (as I am well aware! 🙂 ), they don’t seem to realise that they can come across exactly the same to believers. It’s often just tribalism, and we can easily be blind to the faults of our own tribe.

    Anyway, I’ll be interested to read some of your replies, though I don’t know if I’ll be following every thread! 😦

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  12. “For one, who invented Hell? There is no mention of Hell in he OT, so Jesus invented Hell (as he is the author of the NT). (Now we know how Jesus, the prince of peace, differs from the ogre Yahweh.) Why the change in policy, Jesus?”

    Hi Steve, I can understand your anger, or derision, or whatever emotion you are expressing. Although I am a christian, I agree with much of what you say here. But on this matter in the quote, I think history tells a different story.

    My reading suggests that the idea of hell was thought up by the Jews between the two Testaments. Some thought hell was a place of never-ending punishment, some thought it a place of destruction, and some a place of purging before entering the glorious new age. The word “gehenna” comes from the valley of Hinnom, which was the waste dump for Jerusalem, and used as a picture of some form of judgment in the afterlife.

    So Jesus didn’t invent it, but like many of his teachings, he took an existing teaching or dispute and gave his own twist on it. In this case, he made the point that God’s judgment might fall on those who were self-righteousless expecting it to fall on others. He didn’t support the idea of ongoing punishment.

    Coincidentally I have just written a blog post on this (a href=”https://theway21stcentury.wordpress.com/2016/05/11/three-views-on-hell-and-judgment/”>Three views on hell and judgment) which reflects what a growing number of christians are thinking these days. The view there is one I have held for maybe 30 years.

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  13. I like your approach Nate. You’ve got a lot more patience than I do. 🙂

    I was actually a little bit surprised at some of his comments. His comment about atheists still having a problem of evil showed a complete misunderstanding of the problem. I wouldn’t have expected that from someone who has been doing this so long.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Forgive how late I am to this.

    I am having trouble reconciling your comment that “we’ve both become impressed with one another’s sincerity” with his comments that “the real reason you walked away from the church was…that you personally don’t want to believe”, and that you are “picking passages to hide [your] true motivation”, which is that you “[do] not want to trust Jesus.”

    One of you does not understand what “sincere” means. 🙂

    This kind of accusation of unreasonable skepticism, presumed conclusions, “wanting” to reject God, or some other hidden motive is incredibly commonplace with apologists, and I can’t quite decide why they think it’s an effective way of communicating. How many Christians would listen if you routinely told them they were just pretending to believe in God, or they they were just Christians because they were too scared to cope with reality without a crutch. Not many. It’s an insult masquerading as psychoanalysis.

    But for some reason, apologists – evangelicals, Catholicans, Mormons, JW’s – seem to do this all the time.

    But hey, nothing makes apostates faster than this kind of apologetics, so I guess I shouldn’t complain.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Hi Jon,

    Thanks for the comment!

    I am having trouble reconciling your comment that “we’ve both become impressed with one another’s sincerity” with his comments that “the real reason you walked away from the church was…that you personally don’t want to believe”, and that you are “picking passages to hide [your] true motivation”, which is that you “[do] not want to trust Jesus.”

    Touché 🙂

    To tell you the truth, I wrote the post before I had read all his comments, so… maybe I spoke a little too soon?

    It rubs me the wrong way too when people try to assign motives. I’d prefer they just stick to the data, and then we can all learn to accept that sometimes people just see things differently.

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  16. The further I read, the stranger this gets. I initially thought Smith was responding to your work. That is how I interpreted “I had challenged him to rethink his beliefs and critically examine the evidence against Christianity” and “he began researching many of the criticisms….he had come to the end of his study, and he wanted to offer his responses.”

    It turns out, he was just linking to posts he wrote over the course of the last five years. Some of them clearly were not responses to your posts, because they were written before your posts. Others seemed to be generic apologetics responses to common criticisms. I did not see any of his posts that linked to anything you had written.

    So, one of two things is going on here.

    1. Smith may have (in some cases) actually been responding to you, but he never linked to you so that his readers could see the original arguments. This cowardly respond-but-don’t-link tactic is extremely common with apologetics websites. This is possible in a few cases, but other posts clearly are not responding to your criticisms at all. So if he wasn’t reponding you, then….

    2. Smith lied to you about you challenging him to rethink his beliefs, critically examine the evidence, research your criticisms and post his responses. The only “research” he did was to go looking for things he had already written and believed years ago, then posting them in your comments as if they were the product of your challenge and his sincere reevaluation.

    If there is another option, or if I have misread your description, please let me know. But from here, it sure seems like Smith is not conducting himself in good faith.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Ok, one more. I want to show an example of Smith’s apologetics. In this post about the accuracy of the book of Daniel…
    https://humblesmith.wordpress.com/2016/03/23/is-daniel-accurate-about-the-attack-of-nebuchadnezzar/

    …Smith cites a criticism that “The tone of Daniel 1 is that of a fictional story.” In response, Smith says…

    First, regarding the tone of the chapter, the literary scholars would disagree. (See here). We will accept the professional opinion of those qualified to make such judgements, namely those whose careers have been in evaluating fiction. According to Lewis and Ordway, the Bible accounts read like that of history, not fiction.

    I don’t really have an opinion on the literary genre of Daniel, and I was curious to know what scholars said about it, so I clicked through. To see what the literary scholars had said. About the literary genre of the Book of Daniel.

    https://humblesmith.wordpress.com/2015/03/30/literary-critics-examine-the-new-testament/

    But it turns out, the “Lewis and Ordway” he referred to were CS Lewis (a scholar of medieval literature) and Holly Ordway (whose PhD is in English). And the post he cited, claiming it showed literary scholars agreed that Daniel should be classified in the historical genre? It was a post quoting Lewis and Ordway’s views of the Gospels and New Testament literature. Not only were their areas of literary expertise well outside the area of ancient Hebrew and Aramaic literature, they were talking about entirely different books!

    Make of that what you will.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. “How many Christians would listen if you routinely told them they were just pretending to believe in God, or they they were just Christians because they were too scared to cope with reality without a crutch. Not many. It’s an insult masquerading as psychoanalysis.”

    Hi Jon, I’m not sure if we’ve “met” each other before, but hello to you.

    I’m interested you say this, because as a christian I get this quite commonly, and spoken with all the confidence that pop psychology can give. I agree with you that imputing motives is pretty much an evidence-free game, and I try to avoid it too. Of course sometimes these accusations may be true, on either side, but the point is that we can’t know, and it is more useful anyway to focus on facts and arguments. After all, a person can have “bad” psychological or spiritual motivations and still be right, and vice versa.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Hi Jon,

    It turns out, he was just linking to posts he wrote over the course of the last five years. Some of them clearly were not responses to your posts, because they were written before your posts. Others seemed to be generic apologetics responses to common criticisms.

    As I went through humblemith’s comments and corresponding posts, I was a little thrown off by this, too. Sometimes, I feel like some of my best points weren’t addressed at all.

    Your two possibilities are certainly valid. The only other one I can think of is this:

    3) humblesmith really did thoroughly investigate the points I raised in various posts, and he did it as objectively as he could. In the end, he just felt that the Bible’s case was stronger. And while his research may have uncovered some additional points that would have given additional credence to his position, he felt that his original posts on those issues were convincing enough as they were. Or even if he didn’t find additional evidence, maybe he still felt that his older articles really did answer the issues, even if they hadn’t originally been written as responses to me.

    I don’t know which of the 3 scenarios it really is. I prefer to think it’s the third, but who knows? He and I definitely view the Bible very differently. :/

    Thanks again for the comments, btw. I hope you’ll hang around — I’ve enjoyed reading what you have to say.

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  20. UnkleE

    I’m not sure if we’ve “met” each other before, but hello to you.

    I don’t think we have, but I’ve read many of your comments over the last couple years when I was reading through Nate’s archives!

    as a christian I get this quite commonly

    You get people telling you that you only pretend to believe in God? I’m sorry, that’s pretty inexcusable dick behavior. I basically agree with your points, though I do think it’s not unreasonable to infer things about a person sometimes. However, it is not a good way to argue with a person if your goal is to persuade them.

    Nate

    Sometimes, I feel like some of my best points weren’t addressed at all.

    You are not wrong. If he was even responding to anything you wrote at all, it seems like he mainly picked one or two points, re-wrote some standard apologetic response and declared victory. He did not seem to deal with the the tougher problems you raised, or examine whether the standard apologetic rebuttals were themselves well-supported.

    This happens all the time in apologetics. Mention the discrepancy between Jesus birth in Matthew (pre-4 BC) and Luke (6-7 AD), and you’ll get confident explanations that Quirinius served as governor twice (totally unsupported), conspiracy theories about secret hidden letters in Roman coins (the Strobel/Vardaman nonsense), greek word games, and the like. What you won’t get is an acknowledgment that none of these explanations holds any water at all among experts. But apologists love them, because apologetics is all about rationalization. Combine one part “it could have happened!” with one part “the so-called experts are just godless heathens”, and you have the recipe for apologetics!

    I also notice Smith has a propensity to wave away a difficult problem by saying something about how even if we can’t prove one thing true, the cumulative evidence from the rest of the Bible should show that it’s true. Which is a bit like saying, “sure, the suitcase you opened only had a few pennies in it, but I have 99 other suitcases and surely there must be millions of dollars in them! Therefore, you should conclude that I am wealthy because of the cumulative evidence of all these suitcases.” Of course, the cumulative weight of a lot of unverifiable claims is….nothing. And when somebody points out that his claims are not persuasive, he just accuses them of having a closed mind.

    Finally, his defenses tend to be extraordinarily one-sided. He presents the argument for his side, but does not appear to interact at all with the contradictory evidence, the difficulties with his own view, or the arguments against his defense. In fairness, I think it’s pretty likely that he does not know what those criticism are. He seems like the sort of fellow whose exposure to critical material comes mostly from reading his fellow apologists “debunk” them.

    hope you’ll hang around — I’ve enjoyed reading what you have to say.

    I’ve been reading your stuff for quite some time. I’ll try to participate again now and then!

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Hi Jon, thanks for your comments to me. I hope you don’t mind if I take up another comment you make here.

    “This happens all the time in apologetics.”

    I agree with you here. I think the starting point has to be the best information available. It will sometimes be wrong, but it’s the best we have. So I agree, for example, that the stories of Jesus’ birth are not considered very historical by most scholars (though obviously he had to be born in some way or other, so some details are probably right).

    I am not defending humblesmith because I haven’t followed through (so far) on anything he has written. But I think it is important to note that non-believers can behave in the same way you have described and therefore also deserve the apparently pejorative description of “apologist”.

    For example, the same historians who say most of the birth stories are legendary also say there is no doubt that Jesus lived a life more or less as described in the gospels as a travelling teacher, healer and prophet, and that he was executed in Jerusalem. (Of course they don’t all say the miracles actually occurred, some do, some don’t, but they do say he was known as a healer.) Yet so many atheists hold to the view that he didn’t exist, or maybe he didn’t, Nazareth wasn’t a village in his day, etc – all contrary to the historical evidence and the consensus of historians.

    It happens in other areas than history too. I have just been involved in a discussion on Nate’s blog where I raised evidence from neuroscientists and psychologists about how religion has beneficial effects on the brain and on the whole person. Again most of the atheists (not all) didn’t want to know about this evidence, laughed at it, denied it, even made libellous claims about the integrity of the scientists who had done the research, but no-one offered any contrary evidence. I guess that makes them all “apologists” too!?

    So I am not disagreeing with you, just pointing out the problem is wider than just christians. I guess I am sensitive because I would see myself in some ways as an apologist, but I don’t see that as a bad thing, and I try to work within the evidence established by science and history.

    Thanks for the opportunity to have this little rant. 🙂

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  22. UnkleE, I agree with almost everything you said. I agree that the atheist embrace of mythicism is unfortunate and driven more by what they want to believe than by methods they use for reaching conclusions in other areas. I also agree that this is not simply a Christian problem. It is a human problem that affects all of us, especially when it comes to evaluating things we are deeply invested in. Religion, politics, culture, sports, friends, ourselves.

    When I said I noticed it a lot within apologetics, I didn’t mean to limit it to Christian apologetics. Apologetics just seems to be more common within Chrisfianity. But I wish apologists would read the apologists of other religions in order to understand how they come across to outsiders.

    My only disagreement is with your description of “apologist” as a pejorative. It’s a word they use to describe themselves. I think it can carry some negative connotations when used to accuse a scholar of behaving in a less-than-scholarly manner, but people in the field of apologetics will call themselves apologists.

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  23. Hi Jon, thanks for that. It is nice to find agreement with people who may differ on some things. I only reacted to “apologist” because many people seem to use it pejoratively to dismiss scholars they don’t like. Thanks again. I look forward to seeing you around.

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  24. Jon/unkleE

    I had thought that the mythicist position on Jesus was absurd. However after listening to, and considering, the arguments in some depth over a period of a year my view is changing.

    I now don’t hold to either the mythicist or historical position, I am leaving both possibilities open in my mind. I am not saying that the mythicist position is correct, rather just saying that their proponents raise some valid issues that should not be dismissed out of hand.

    Liked by 1 person

  25. @Peter

    Care to share what you think are the major issues? I have glossed over this jesus myth position in the past but didn’t think much of it because most people on both sides of the fence I know have dismissed it.

    The interesting thing about any left-field theory is that often the data/facts touted are flat out wrong but you won’t be able to know it unless doing tons of strong study in the field itself. Case in point studies on homeopathic stuff and autism vs vaccines. Both have strong psuedoscience that is hard to differentiate from real science if you didn’t already have good background in science.

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  26. Hi Peter, I was going to say something similar to Powell said.

    Critics of the mythicists say that they distort facts, even make things up, as well as lack a historical perspective on which to base assessments. I have read quite widely on Jesus and history, but I don’t think I know enough to always pick this out. One giveaway is when they give very few references (whereas most true scholars give many references), and when they do they are often way out of date (sometimes more than a century old). So I think it is safer to trust the consensus.

    Further, it is easy for sceptics to criticise christians for believing in (say) the stories of Jesus’ birth as being totally true and consistent, when scholars say they are not. Well if we trust the scholars for the one conclusions, surely we ought to trust them for the other also?

    Finally, I wonder what you would say if we were discussing abiogenesis (the first appearance of life) and I said: “I now don’t hold to either the evolutionary or the creationist position, I am leaving both possibilities open in my mind.” I think most non-christians would criticise me, perhaps even mock me. yet there are more genuine peer-reviewed scholars who question abiogenesis (they are still a minority) than question Jesus’ existence.

    So that’s how I see it.

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  27. Unk/Powell

    Please bear in mind that my comments here are made on the ‘fly’ so to speak. But I will make a few observations that are worthy of consideration:
    – no contemporary reports of Jesus from sources we might expect – Like Philo;
    – later non Biblical references to ‘Jesus’ tend to be references to followers of Jesus and what they believed, not direct references to Jesus;
    – no actual description of what Jesus looked like;
    – two birth narratives in the Gospels that are virtually irreconcilable (I acknowledge some learned folk do reconcile them, but in as strained way);
    – the earliest Christian writings (from Paul) make basically no reference to Jesus’ earthly ministry. There are three references that require explanation, Philippians 2:7, 1 Corinthians 11 and Galatians 1:19. These can be explained, but it would make this a very lengthy post;
    – the argument that Jesus was a celestial being who was crucified in the the space between earth and heaven;
    – the observation by John Dominic Crossan that the earliest Gospel, Mark, is essentially written as a parable;
    – the numerous geographical errors in Mark, showing a lack of first hand knowledge of Palestine;
    – the fact that the later Gospels copied and amended Mark’s Gospel’
    – the use of Old Testament figures, Moses, Elijah and Elisha as the basis for the Gospel stories of Jesus;
    – the contradictions between the Gospels, especially the trial and crucifixion narrative;
    – the reference in 1 John to the split in that church between those who thought Jesus came in the flesh and those who didn’t;
    – the similarity of the story of Jesus to earlier dying and rising Gods;
    – the fact that Jesus scores a 19 out of 22 on the scale used to determine if a ‘historical’ figure is real or mythical – apparently no figure known to be certainly historical has scored higher than a 10;
    – the clear track record we have of Christians in the early centuries making up stories about Jesus (consider the infancy Gospels of Jesus);
    – our earliest record that Mark’s Gospel was written by the assistant of the Apostle Peter, comes from Papias who reliability is suspect (if you doubt this read what Papias says about the fate of Judas).

    I am discounting the reference in Josephus to Jesus as there is overwhelming evidence that it has been tampered with. This preparedness of Christians to doctor the records means that we may never know the real story.

    These are just some thoughts off the top of my head.

    Liked by 3 people

  28. Hi Peter, that’s quite a list and I think it would be silly to try to address it all, but I will make a few comments.

    1. If this was really as impressive as people think, why would virtually all the historians still be confident that jesus was real and we know a lot about him? They aren’t all idiots, so the only explanation could be that there is a christian conspiracy or something. And that is actually what some people claim. But all the prestigious universities? Even scholars like Bart Ehrman, who is no friend of christianity, or the late Maurice Casey, and atheist who vehemently defended himself against such charges? It’s a very unrealistic proposition.

    2. Some of those objections are just plain wrong or not accepted by scholars. Just a few examples …

    *Which contemporary sources would you expect to mention Jesus? Which ones mention other figures like him?

    *Josephus is one of the few, and he does mention him. The fact that there are apparent interpolations doesn’t prevent the majority of scholars concluding that the basic reference is genuine, and there are copies of Josephus in other languages that support this.

    *No actual description? Do you know if many ancient biographies gave physical descriptions? I don’t, but this seems like a unimportant point.

    *There are many more than 3 references to Jesus’s earthly life in Paul.

    *
    The celestial being argument is strange. Scholars say if there was any progression, it was from physical person to legendary stories, not the other way around.

    *The idea that the Jesus story was similar to stories of dying and rising gods was popular more than a century ago, but has been abandoned by scholars long since. I have researched this, and most of the supposed parallels are spurious.

    So that is a few of the more obvious claims that have little substance. A few others are interesting, and it is worth mentioning them.

    *Very few scholars base much on Papias these days, but Richard Bauckham argues against this trend. It will be interesting to see how this plays out, but at present, that point of yours is largely irrelevant to the scholarly consensus.

    *Whose scale assesses the historicity of figures? Have you got a reference for that please?

    *I’m not sure why copying among the gospel writers is an issue. There are still multiple independent sources. Luke says that he got his material from several earlier sources, presumably both written and oral, and it turns out that he got about 40% from Mark, a quarter from Matthew and a third from other sources. If a historian today used earlier sources, would we criticise him? And the sceptics try to have it both ways. If the stories disagree, then they are wrong, but if they agree they are copied and not believable. But differences indicate independence, which reinforces the bits they agree on. I think these points strengthen the historical case, not weaken it.

    I think that’s enough. I think there are some interesting matters we could discuss, but i think the majority are not really very accurate or important.

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  29. I think the biggest hole in the Christian argument for Jesus being God the Creator is the lack of any mention in the historical record of any Christian venerating or even knowing about the location of the “Empty Tomb” until the fourth century.

    I challenge UnkleE or any other Christian to explain why the location of the alleged greatest event in the history of the world was so quickly forgotten.

    And the claim that since the tomb was empty it was not important is nonsense. The earliest Christians were Jews and it was Jewish custom to venerate holy sites. It is implausible that Christian Jews would not venerate this site.

    There is no mention of a known location for the Empty Tomb until Macarius, bishop of Jerusalem, mentioned it to Emperor Constantine at the Council of Nicea…after Constantine had proclaimed he wanted to build three great new churches in the Holy Land.

    Liked by 3 people

  30. @unkleE

    Well if we trust the scholars for the one conclusions, surely we ought to trust them for the other also?

    If we are going this route then it is only proper we apply the same criteria to the Old Testament and notably, the Pentateuch. I am sure you would agree unkleE,yes?

    So, may I ask how you respond to the consensus that the Captivity, Exodus and Conquest of Canaan as described in the bible and the characters involved is simply geo-political myth?

    And how would you explain why Paul genuinely considered Adam an historical figure and Jesus felt the same about Moses?

    Liked by 1 person

  31. I just don’t get the appeal to Josephus. He wasn’t a contemporary of Jesus, had never seen Jesus and was born after Jesus would have been executed, and even if that section in his writings wasn’t tampered with, and it was his own words, it’s still hearsay; and opinion not based on observation or first hand experience, but based on the views, feelings and words of others.

    Josephus believed that some people believed that Jesus was a healer/religious leader.

    It would be like saying bigfoot was real because I’ve heard it from someone who knew this other guy who said he saw bigfoot.

    It could be true, but it certainly looses some of its shine.

    Liked by 3 people

  32. You are correct, William. Josephus was NOT a contemporary of Jesus. However, Philo of Alexandria was. Philo gives a number of details about Pontius Pilate and his dealings with the Jews of Palestine…but never once mentions Pilate and his dealings with Jesus of Nazareth. The infamous Jesus’ whose death was marked by multiple earthquakes, sightings of celestial beings, the tearing down the middle of the Temple veil, dead people roaming the streets of Jerusalem, and an unheard of before or since THREE HOUR eclipse of the sun.

    But nope, no mention of Jesus the great miracle worker, prophet, alleged Messiah and God.

    I think Jesus PROBABLY existed but was an insignificant flash in the pan, unnoticed by anyone until, the author of the Gospel of Mark made him into the sensation of the Roman Empire. The same author who most likely invented the Empty Tomb story.

    The reality probably is that the early Christian belief in the Resurrection was simply religious hysteria among a handful of uneducated, Galilean peasants whose apocalyptic rabbi and just been snuffed out, and in their emotional devastation and grief, experienced vivid dreams and trances in which he “appeared” to them…in the same manner that tens of thousands of other dead persons have “appeared” to their grieving loved ones.

    It
    is
    a
    tall
    tale.

    Liked by 2 people

  33. And think about this: Even though Josephus was not a contemporary of Jesus, he did write an extensive history of Judaism and the events in Palestine during the first century. How much did he Josephus about the man whose death was marked by the aforementioned spectacular natural and supernatural wonders: Answer: very, very little.

    Jesus was a worker of miracles.

    That’s about it.

    Get out your telephone book and look up the listings for Pentecostal churches in your area, call them, and every one of them will tell you that their pastor “heals” people of all kinds of illnesses and injuries in the name of God; no different than the claims of Jesus.

    Miracle worker = so what???

    Josephus’ near silence and Philo’s total silence regarding the events in the life of the man Christians claim to be the Creator God, Ruler of the Cosmos, is very telling: The supernatural tales related to Jesus are just as believable as the tales of your local Pentecostal preacher; healing the blind, the lame, and the nearly dead but never with enough convincing proof to convince the medical profession of his claims.

    It’s all superstitious, uneducated, ignorant baloney!

    Let’s not argue with Christians over whether or not a “Jesus the healer” existed. So what if he did! “Healers” come a dime a dozen in human history. Let’s see the evidence for the supernatural claims credited to this man. Guess what: they don’t exist. There is no evidence that anyone in the first three centuries knew of the location of Jesus’ “empty tomb”, the site of the greatest event to ever occur on planet earth. Zero. Let Christians answer that hole in their supernatural tall tale.

    Liked by 1 person

  34. And my response to Habermas’ claim that “seventy-five” percent of NT scholars believe in the historicity of the Empty Tomb is this: So what! I will bet that at least 75% of Koran scholars believe the supernatural claims of that ancient holy book.

    My point is this:

    The overwhelming majority of people who chose to dedicate their entire lives to NT scholarship are Christians—people who have already made the decision to base their lives and world view on this ancient tale. And just because Vermes and Lapide and maybe a couple of other Jewish scholars agree with Christians on this claim does not change the fact that there is a strong religious bias involved.

    What do HISTORIANS say about the historicity of the Empty Tomb??? How often is the Empty Tomb mentioned as an established historical fact in public university world history books? Never.

    NT scholarly (which is mostly Christian) opinion is WEAK evidence. It is BIASED evidence. Let’s stop giving any creedence to the value of NT scholarship on this historical issue.

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  35. And in case someone asks “Why would Jewish scholars such as Vermes and Lapide agree with the probable historicity of the Empty Tomb?”

    If you read the works of Jewish NT scholars, such as Dr. Magness (can’t remember her first name) you will detect a strong hesitancy to come across as critical of the Christian supernatural claims. I believe that Jewish NT scholars are wary of being labeled a “Jesus-hating Jew” and therefore tread very lightly regarding key Christian theological claims.

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  36. To my knowledge, no one has ever argued that an empty tomb/grave is evidence for Resurrection from the dead and flying into heaven except in the case of Jesus.

    In every other instance of an empty tomb or grave, the evidence is usually only submitted to support there being a missing body, and not to argue that said body must have come back to life and has flown away.

    Even if we all agreed that there was an empty tomb and that it was Jesus’ empty tomb, we’d still be lacking evidence of reanimated flesh and un-mechanically aided flight.

    Liked by 3 people

  37. Presuppositional arguments carry no real weight in any genuine discussion of history. People like unkleE should know this, yet still they attempt to present arguments fro likes of Habermas as if they have any genuine historical merit, which of course they do not.

    Liked by 1 person

  38. It kills me when Christians claim that the Resurrection has as much supporting evidence, if not more, than other events in Antiquity. Give me a break.

    –claims of seeing a ghost.
    –an alleged empty tomb.
    –and the conversions of mostly uneducated, lower class individuals joining the newest religious fad that promised social equality and eternal bliss in the after life.

    Pathetic.

    Liked by 1 person

  39. “Presuppositionalism is the idea that only the Christian worldview can account for logic, morality, science, induction, consciousness itself, and peanut brittle, and that all other worldviews are absurd.” —Rational Wiki

    🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  40. Peter

    A few quick (possibly redundant) responses to the list of issues you raise about the historicity of Jesus.

    1. We have no contemporary reports of almost anybody in that region in the 1st century. We barely have any written records of Pilate and he was a major political figure! So of course we have no contemporary (during his lifetime) records of a relatively minor apocalyptic preacher. He simply was not a very notable figure until after his death, and probably not until some decades after his death.

    Also, as far as Josephus, one of the references he made to Jesus was absolutely tampered with, but that only affects some of the characterizations, not the underlying reference itself.

    2. However, we do have written references to Jesus within a couple decades of his life. The letters of Paul were probably written about 15-30 years after Jesus was killed. The gospel of Mark, Matthew and Luke were probably written around 70-90 AD (give or take), and while Matthew and Luke obviously copied a great deal from Mark, they do each have some unique material. Regardless of what you think of the accuracy of the stories, they provide fairly early evidence about what people at the time believed and were saying.

    3. As you say, some of the relatively early references to Jesus were not actually references to Jesus but instead to his followers (or to “Christians”). I agree that these do not provide independent attestation of his life, but it does clearly establish the existence of his followers. That’s critical. The most parsimonious explanation for the existence of these “followers” is that there was a leader they were following. It’s far simpler to assume that there was a Jesus who gathered some followers before he was killed by the Romans, then his followers reinterpreted his life and death in order to continue their sociopolitical/religious movement, and the story gradually evolved as the movement grew. That also explains the typology you noted (Moses, Elijah, Elisha, etc). It is far more difficult to imagine a purely “celestial” beginning with no “Jesus” figure that almost immediately invented a fake human to represent him and yet somehow we have no real records of him being a purely mythical figure. We have the docetics, who believed he was purely spiritual and his body only appeared to take the form of flesh, but even they acknowledged that it appeared. In order to find hints of mythicism in early writings, advocates have to force very unusual interpretations onto the text.

    4. Paul’s lack of references to Jesus’ life and activities is interesting, but not necessarily surprising for a couple reasons. First, remember that Paul was not an eyewitness, so he did not necessarily know very much about the life and activities of Jesus. His “gospel” was the message that he got in a revelation, not the sordid physical details that the other apostles knew about Jesus and he reminded people of that all the time. Second, remember that Paul wrote his letters very early, possibly before many of the eventual legendary details about Jesus even arose. So he may not have ever heard much of what was in the gospel.

    5. It is also important to distinguish between the “historical Jesus” and the Jesus of the Gospels. Scholars do not have to account for all of the discrepancies and implausibilities (miracles, for example) in the Gospels, because they do not assume that the historical Jesus necessarily did those things. They are legends that grew about him in many different communities, so of course they differ and of course they seem implausible. The choice is not between “Jesus was exactly as described in the Gospels” and “Jesus was a myth.”

    6. The “dying and rising god” theme is pretty overstated. It’s not as bad as the claims about other “virgin births”, but it is fairly tenuous. That said, I do think there are elements of syncretism within Christianity that drew on greco-roman culture and beliefs and incorporated them into their own stories and theologies.

    7. That “scale used to determine if a ‘historical’ figure is real or mythical”” is the Rank-Raglan scale and it’s just a series of characteristics that the two people (Rank and Raglan, obviously!) proposed. It is an interesting approach, but it does not seem to be a a reliable or methodologically rigorous one.

    Wrapping up: mythicists sometimes make interesting points, but their conclusions are less plausible than the simple assumption that Jesus was real and legends about him grew after his death. His followers maintained the movement they were building by engaging in the kind of imaginative reinterpretation of scripture that was not uncommon in Judaism.

    Richard Carrier has certainly made a run at promoting mythicism, but he seems to have been more successful promoting himself. So far as I can tell, he has not persuaded any working scholars in the relevant fields. As far as other peer reviewed literature, his work (only very dubiously peer reviewed itself) has gone nowhere.

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  41. nonsupernaturalist

    I absolutely agree that “the lack of any mention in the historical record of any Christian venerating or even knowing about the location of the “Empty Tomb”” is a deeply curious problem for Christians, and particularly for the empty tomb/resurrection story. Frankly, I don’t know what to make of it, but it seems to me it is more of a challenge to the resurrection story than to the existence of Jesus.

    My guess would be that the resurrection story and the “empty tomb” were gradual developments, largely outside of Jerusalem, and that the earlier stories were probably much less specific. Remember, the gospels say that apostles fled and were not there to witness the crucifixion. This is almost certainly true. And since most (possibly all) victims of crucifixion were throw into a common grave where the dogs could scavenge them, then the “resurrection” story and appearances were probably more akin to visions that some of the followers eventually claimed to have had. The “empty tomb” would have been a narrative addition as the story moved far away from Jerusalem.

    Regarding “my response to Habermas’ claim that “seventy-five” percent of NT scholars believe in the historicity of the Empty Tomb is this: So what!”

    Your response should actually be “show me the data”, because the answer will be “no.” It exists on a document on his computer and nobody else appears to have ever reviewed it. Not even his co-author, Mike Licona.

    To his credit, Habermas has not included the empty tomb in his list of “minimal facts.” He just calls it “widely accepted.” William Lane Craig and others do include it, but Craig’s defense of that inclusion is a weak reference to some decades-old paper that simply claims most scholars accept the empty tomb.

    The thing is, I think it’s probably likely that most scholars who have written about his minimal facts do accept the historicity of many or most of the minimal facts identified by Habermas, but that does not tell us much. I could agree with most of them except for the part about being “willing to die” for their beliefs, which…

    Well, I could write for a long time about the methodological and interpretive problems with the minimal facts argument, but life is short, you know?

    Liked by 1 person

  42. Jon

    You make very good points, which I pretty much agree with. As I said earlier I am trying to keep an open mind on things.

    I am well aware of how much psychological factors such as, the anchor effect, presuppositions and confirmation bias affect our ability to reason. I know I am not immune to such effects.

    In regards to Dr Richard Carrier, he does not lack self confidence and can seem arrogant and overbearing in his approach to others. That being said, he is no crackpot, and has thought his position through. There has been a detailed review of his work recently published by another academic Raphael Lataser, who considered the debate on the historicity of Jesus:

    This is a blurb from his 2015 book on the subject:

    For a lay audience, and with help from historian Richard Carrier, religious studies scholar Raphael Lataster considers the best arguments for and against the existence of the so-called Historical Jesus; the Jesus of atheists. Parts 1 & 2 analyse the cases made by Bart Ehrman and Maurice Casey, who assert that Jesus definitely existed. Their arguments are found to be riddled with errors, and dependent on unreliable, and even non-existing, sources. Parts 3 & 4 discuss the more sceptical work of Lataster and Carrier, who conclude that Christianity probably began not with a humble carpenter, but with ‘visions’ of a heavenly Messiah. This exciting collaboration makes it very clear why the Historical Jesus might not have existed after all, and, to those willing to adopt a commonsensical probabilistic approach, Jesus Did Not Exist.

    Though I suspect that many would question Lataser’s objectivity as he seems to be a Carrier “captive” with whom he cooperated on the 2015 work.

    The point I really want to make in these discussions is not that the Mythicist position is correct, but rather that it has more merit than say an anti vaccine campaign.

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  43. Hi Jon,

    I like the way you think! Yes, you are right: Let’s see Habermas’ data!

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  44. Peter,

    I believe that mythicists have a valid argument in questioning the historicity of Jesus of Nazareth but it is a non-starter in discussions with Christians. The minute they hear that you are a mythicist, they consider you an irrational, God-hating atheist and tune you out.

    I think we skeptics have much more fertile ground in our discussions with Christians going after the supernatural claims of Christianity.

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  45. I think we skeptics have much more fertile ground in our discussions with Christians going after the supernatural claims of Christianity.

    I have never come across a Christian in cyberspace willing to have a genuine open discussion of this aspect of their make believe god-man as it ties in with the archaeological evidence as they all know they are on a hiding to nothing.

    For example, unkleE won’t touch Moses and the Exodus with a barge pole as he knows that the expert opinion simply consider the entire episode geo-political myth and he is perfectly aware this rubbishes the prophetic nature of the NT and his god man.

    This is why fundamentalists – and anyone who believes in miracles, the Virgin Birth and the Resurrection is a fundamentalist – will always come at this by trying to establish their religions’ bona fides from the ”expert” angle and leave the supernaturalism of the Lake Tiberius Pedestrian on the Freudian couch.
    If they cannot establish as fact the basic tenets of their religion what value have any of their arguments?

    In fact, I would truly love Nate to do a post on the Exodus and see if unkleE is man enough to step up and accept the ‘experts’ findings and the dire ramifications it has on the make believe god- man Jesus of Nazareth.

    Ark.

    Liked by 1 person

  46. @ nonsupernaturalist

    The minute they hear that you are a mythicist, they consider you an irrational, God-hating atheist and tune you out.

    Interestingly I have a similar sort of response to any Christian who claims to be a Young Earth Creationist.

    I immediately conclude that they are folk who interpret evidence based on their preconceived conclusion, rather than determining a conclusion based on evidence. Thus I see little point in having discussions with such folk.

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  47. When I suggest going after the supernatural claims of Christianity I don’t mean trying to prove them impossible, just very improbable. The average Christian has been taught that there is excellent evidence for the Resurrection. They have been told by their pastors that a resurrection is the only plausible explanation for the Empty Tomb and the post-resurrection appearances of Jesus.

    However, even if a tomb existed, there are several much more probable explanations for it being empty than a supernatural disappearance of a dead body, even if Matthew’s guard story is true. And tens of thousands of grieving family members and friends have reported “seeing” their recently dead loved one appear to them. The supernatural claims about Jesus are simply legends. Probability tells us that they didn’t really happen. Who cares if he existed and was believed to be a miracle worker. History is full of “miracle-workers”.

    Liked by 1 person

  48. With due respect, this is Old Hat, as far as an indoctrinated Christian such as Unklee is concerned and he has posted on his blog showing how the Resurrection of a dead make-believe god-man is the most likely explanation of the make believe Empty Tomb- even though there is always a caveat included pertaining to faith and skeptics not getting on board. He even has atheist Jeffery Lowder batting for his team concerning this very topic and he loves to drag old Jeff out of his closet and parade him a ”See, even an arch atheist like Lowder think it’s reasonable…. so there.”

    The claims of an historical character should be taken down as well.
    While fundamentalists are able to cite a ”real live person” (sic) they will always find an angle to push the superstitious.

    Once the biblical character, Jesus of Nazareth can be shown to be a complete fabrication – and it really is not that difficult once people are truly prepared to be completely honest about what evidence there is – then what’s left will fade away.

    And an effective way to do this is ”force” Christians to face the truth concerning the Pentateuch.

    No Pentateuch, no Jesus of Nazareth.

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  49. Unfortunately Christians like UnkleE will always find a way to wiggle out of the evidence. For example: “It may be true that no one has found any evidence for the Exodus, Forty Years in the Sinai, the Conquest of Canaan, King David, nor Solomon and his great temple and empire…yet. But it’s there. The Bible says so.”

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  50. But I agree with you, Ark. Jesus believed that Moses, Adam, the Flood, etc. to be real people and events. If the evidence proves that they were not, Jesus made a mistake, and if Jesus made a mistake, he was just a man, not a god.

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  51. I don’t have the history with UnkleE that you guys obviously have, but it seems like people here are being a bit unnecessarily caustic to the fellow and to Christians, generally. Frankly, I think Jesus mythicism is an absurd position held mostly by a few fringe pseudo-scholars, activists and people who don’t understand historical methodology. Should I begin ridiculing the people who hold that position?

    Sometimes you just have to accept that people come to different conclusions. Perhaps they reach those conclusions because of the evidence, perhaps they reach them for emotional and cultural reasons, perhaps they reach them because it is difficult to break out of the mindset they were raised in. Hell, who knows, maybe they are right about stuff. I have certainly believed things with all my heart that I later concluded were foolish and unjustified. I probably believe things now that are foolish and unjustified and I don’t know it yet.

    For the record, I think very highly of Lowder. He’s an intelligent, thoughtful and intellectually honest fellow, and I’ve learned a great deal by reading him.

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  52. We are not being “caustic” with UnkleE for his views, but how he presents and defends those views. Stick around for a while and you will see what we mean.

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  53. @Jon
    you are correct, you do not have the history.
    UnkleE has a reputation for condescension and gross bias. Ask anyone on this blog alone.

    That you do not hold with the belief that the character Jesus of Nazareth was not historical does not mean there is not validity in the claim.
    The paucity of so-called evidence makes any claim of historicity shakey at best.

    In fact the evidence against historicity should oblige everyone to question motives for claiming for Yeshua Ben Joseph.

    And for the record not a single scholar has ever produced enough evidence to make an outright claim.
    But feel free to demonstrate I am off my rocker. Surprise me with evidence for Jesus of Nazareth.

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  54. @nonsupernaturalist

    “It may be true that no one has found any evidence for the Exodus, Forty Years in the Sinai, the Conquest of Canaan, King David, nor Solomon and his great temple and empire…yet. The Bible says so.”

    But there IS evidence that the settlement of Canaan was by and large internal. The Israelites were there all along.

    And this is the view held by the consensus of scholars, rabbis, scientists and archaeologists and it is this what unkleE refuses to address honestly.
    He has stated that, ( paraphrase) it has little or no bearing on his belief and the way he follows the biblical character Jesus of Nazareth.
    And just how much effort did he/does he put in engaging on the prophetic nature of the Old Testament, here on Nate’s blog.

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  55. Nonsupernaturalist

    We are not being “caustic” with UnkleE for his views, but how he presents and defends those views. Stick around for a while and you will see what we mean.

    I understand that you have a history that I do not. Still, I will try to follow the lead of Nate, whose graciousness and patience I have appreciated. If a discussion becomes too frustrating to remain pleasant, than I should probably not participate.

    Arkenaten

    That you do not hold with the belief that the character Jesus of Nazareth was not historical does not mean there is not validity in the claim.

    Yes, I understand that I only have an opinion about the facts, not authority over them.

    The paucity of so-called evidence makes any claim of historicity shakey at best. … And for the record not a single scholar has ever produced enough evidence to make an outright claim.

    I am uncertain what your second sentence means. It is the near-universal consensus of (relevant) scholars that Jesus was a historical figure. Can you name any biblical scholars who are actively working and have published peer reviewed articles supporting mythicism? Can you point to any peer reviewed articles in major journals? Carrier’s book is the closest thing, and it was published by a legitimate academic publisher, but it was not independently peer reviewed.

    Of course, you are more than welcome to reject the consensus position of scholarship, but your first sentence about “so-called evidence” makes me wonder whether you are using the methodology of historical study or some other standard that is not applicable to the study of history. The simplest evidence for the historicity of Jesus is the existence of multiple writings within a few decades of his death that attest to his existence, the existence of followers who believed that he existed, that he was the messiah and that he was made the son of god. It’s really hard to explain the existence of Paul and the believers in Jerusalem and the letters of Paul without SOME original figure who lived and died and became the basis for the legends.

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  56. What methodology do you believe is used to assert historicity?

    The multiple writings? Are you referring to the gospels? If so these have no real bearing on establishing the historicity of the character,and I am surprised you would even mention them.

    Could you please list the contemporary evidence you have for the character Saul of Tarsus/Paul?

    It’s really hard to explain the existence of Paul and the believers in Jerusalem and the letters of Paul without SOME original figure who lived and died and became the basis for the legends.

    Is it, why?
    I imagine there are numerous religions where the central figure is mythological. This never stopped people claiming they were real of form them garnering substantial followers.

    Also, may I ask if you have any leanings towards Christianity? Just for the record.

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  57. The study of history, historical figures and texts generally involves the historical method and textual criticism.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Historical_method
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Textual_criticism

    Of course, different scholars may focus on different elements, but those are big picture methodologies.

    The multiple writings? Are you referring to the gospels? If so these have no real bearing on establishing the historicity of the character,and I am surprised you would even mention them.

    I was referring to the letters of Paul, the Gospels, other books of the NT, Clement, Josephus. Plus, there is Q (or whatever you want to call the source for the shared material of Matthew and Luke), and possibly the Gospel of Thomas.

    Mark was the only fully independent book of the synoptic gospels, but Matthew and Luke do contain additional material that is unique from Mark and from each other. Scholars are perfectly capable of working with books that are partially interdependent and contain much that is clearly legendary.

    Could you please list the contemporary evidence you have for the character Saul of Tarsus/Paul?

    Seriously? We have 7 letters he wrote. We have fairly early church writings, like 1 Clement (c. 95), that talk about him.

    I imagine there are numerous religions where the central figure is mythological.

    Don’t imagine. Share. Give a few examples of religions whose believers believed in a *recent* mythological figure, somebody who supposedly existed within their lifetime and who they believed was a real human person. I would imagine at least some examples exist, but there are far more examples of people ascribing miraculous stories to human figures. It was positively commonplace in the ANE.

    Also, may I ask if you have any leanings towards Christianity? Just for the record.

    I am an atheist. I do not think there are any compelling arguments for Christianity, although that does not mean that every criticism of Christianity is correct. The only even quasi-interesting argument for theism is the difficulty of the question of why there is something rather than nothing. Of course, that is not actually an argument for theism. It is simply an unanswered (and perhaps unanswerable) question. Theism could conceivably be an answer to it, but I see no reason to believe that it is. Besides, “theism” does not answer the question. It just kicks the question back a step.

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  58. I was referring to the letters of Paul, the Gospels, other books of the NT, Clement, Josephus. Plus, there is Q (or whatever you want to call the source for the shared material of Matthew and Luke), and possibly the Gospel of Thomas.

    ”Paul’s” letters do not attest to a real historical figure.
    Acts is these generally considered largely spurious.
    The gospels cannot be used as historical evidence. I am very surprised you included them.
    Q is hypothetical, there is no evidence whatsoever for this supposed document.
    The passage in Josephus is an interpolation and the earliest copies do not have the TF.

    Yes, I am perfectly serious. There are seven authentic letters that claim to be written by someone called Paul. I asked for contemporary evidence but I realise now I should have been more specific.So I will add, outside of the bible.

    In my research I have never found a single contemporary reference to him anywhere.

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  59. ”Paul’s” letters do not attest to a real historical figure.”

    He says Jesus was “born of a woman”, that Jesus “died”, that Jesus was “killed”, that Jesus had a “brother”, that Jesus was a descendant of David, that he came to earth in the “likeness” or appearance of man.

    Acts is these generally considered largely spurious.

    So? The choice is not between inerrancy and total falsehood. I cited written records that refer to Jesus from in or around the first century.

    The gospels cannot be used as historical evidence. I am very surprised you included them.

    What in the world are you talking about?

    Q is hypothetical, there is no evidence whatsoever for this supposed document.

    “Q” is short for “quelle”, which is German for “source.” Either Luke copied Matthew, Matthew copied Luke or Matthew and Luke had a common source for the non-Markan material the two of them share in common. If they had a common source for the shared material, that is “Q”.

    The passage in Josephus is an interpolation and the earliest copies do not have the TF.

    Part of the passage is interpolated. The vast majority of scholars believe the rest of that passage and all of the other passage are authentic.

    I asked for contemporary evidence but I realise now I should have been more specific.So I will add, outside of the bible.

    Ah, so if we discount all of the evidence we have, then we have no evidence.

    You are moving the goalposts. You asked for evidence of the existence of a historical Jesus. I presented quite a few written references to him within a few decades of his life. You said those do not count.

    You questioned whether Paul existed, despite having actual written records not only during his life but BY him. But you say that does not count.

    Why don’t you define what counts as reasonable historical evidence for the historicity of a person? And as a follow up, tell me whether that is a scholarly standard or your own personal standard.

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  60. Just by reading your last comment, it would appear you believe in the authenticity of the bible as you tend to reference it as “historical evidence.” I think this is where you and Ark differ. JMO.

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  61. Although I believe there probably is sufficient evidence to believe in an historical Jesus, I seriously doubt whether Paul knew much at all about this historical Jesus.

    I accept the Christian argument that the purpose of Paul’s epistles were to address specific issues in specific churches but his almost complete silence regarding the historical Jesus is still very odd. Paul says plenty about himself and his life in his epistles. Why so little about the historical Jesus? Why not tie in some of Jesus’ parables or sermons to the issues affecting the churches to whom Paul was writing? When discussing how Christians should deal with persecution, hy not bring in the Sermon on the Mount? When discussing the doctrine of redemption and forgiveness of sins, why not mention examples of Jesus’ acts of forgiveness such as when Jesus forgave the woman caught in adultery or the conversation with the repentant thief on the cross? Why never mention that Jesus was born of a virgin? Why never mention the details of the Trial before Pilate, the words spoken on the cross, the last instructions to the disciples before the Ascension?

    Did Paul really know about an historical Jesus or did he only know the “Jesus the Christ” whom he had invented in his head (private revelation)??

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  62. You questioned whether Paul existed, despite having actual written records not only during his life but BY him. But you say that does not count.

    No, it doesn’t count as there is no mention of the character outside the bible.
    Anyone could have written the letters, thus there is no way to verify whether there is an authentic ”Paul” behind them.

    And bearing in mind his supposed stature in the church and his standing among the Jewish hierarchy prior to his Damascus experience, and what happened after, one would expect there to be some mention of him somewhere other than from the hand of christians.

    I am not purposely ”moving the goal posts”, merely clarifying the criteria. Sorry if it stretches your patience. Regarding Paul, we are talking about the most famous character in the development of christianity, are we not? Why is it unreasonable to expect to find extra biblical evidence of a non christian nature?

    Re: Gospels.
    Exactly what verifiable evidence re: establishing the historicity of the character Jesus of Nazareth can be found in the gospels?

    Re: Q.
    Yes I know what it stands for, thanks, and I know the hypothesis. But that is all it is. There is no evidence for the document in question. None whatsoever.

    Ah, so if we discount all of the evidence we have, then we have no evidence.

    Absolutely correct! The evidence we have where it pertains to the veracity of these characters is, from a true historical perspective, pretty much worthless.

    As an aside, do you know who was supposed to have been the discoverer of Paul’s ‘letters’?

    I apologize re: Historical attestation in the letters. I actually meant to write there is no way to verify the claims made.

    Re: the T.F.: I reiterate, the earliest copies did not contain this passage. Perhaps it would be better if you read someone like Carrier as his take is much more qualified than I could ever offer.
    But the passage was never quoted or referenced before Eusebius.
    A similar case with Tacitus, only the time gap was much much longer.

    Reasonable evidence should be contemporaneous and able to be corroborated.
    I’ll refer you back to the Wiki link you offered.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Historical_method#Core_principles_for_determining_reliability

    There is nothing pertaining to the character Jesus of Nazareth that matches these criteria.

    So, do we have any corroborating contemporaneous evidence for the two main characters of Christianity: Jesus of Nazareth and Saul/Paul of Tarsus?

    Answer: Not a stitch.

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  63. Did Clement of Rome not mention Paul?

    Would that count as an external source?

    Personally, I agree with Jon, but I do not pretend to be very well educated on the matter. I can get that there’d likely be a real person (both Jesus and Paul) to base their embellishments and legends off of. And to me, I think it makes more sense to base these legends off of a real person, rather than “hey, remember Jesus that never existed, yeah, he’s god now.”

    I mean, does anyone question Anne Frank’s diary as being written by Anne Frank? I don’t think a back up source is always necessary.

    But I don’t care enough any more to argue over it.

    Real or made up, the religion has serious holes that can’t be ignored once you see them.

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  64. Although, I guess Clement is only referencing Paul’s letters, and not really Paul himself, but I’d think that since Clement actually lived at the time Paul was alive would add some degree of authenticity or reliability, maybe.

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  65. @William
    Yes, he mentions Paul in 1 Clement.

    Why, in your opinion, do you believe there is no mention of Saul/Paul the notorious Christian hunter among Jewish literature?
    Just curious.

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  66. Ark, you make many good and valid points. I can’t deny it, which is why I do not plan to argue over it.

    You have a good question, and I cannot answer it.

    I could make guesses, but that’s all they are.

    Good question… I just don’t know.

    Liked by 1 person

  67. Nan

    Just by reading your last comment, it would appear you believe in the authenticity of the bible as you tend to reference it as “historical evidence.”

    The books of the New Testament are authentic written texts dating from the mid first century until the late 1st or early 2nd century. Whether they are accurate is a completely different question and irrelevant to whether the texts themselves are historical evidence. Even inaccurate texts count as evidence.

    Nonsupernaturalist:

    I seriously doubt whether Paul knew much at all about this historical Jesus.

    Yes, Paul does not seem to have known a great deal of detail about the life, activities and sayings of Jesus. As I said before, many/most of those details you mention him overlooking (sayings, parables, sermons, etc) were almost certainly developed over time. The adultery story was not even original to gJohn, but was added by a scribe centuries later. Paul almost certainly knew some basic details about Jesus — I have trouble imagining her was persecuting Christians without having some basic familiarity with their movement — but his “gospel” was about the meaning of the death and resurrection, not the details about Jesus life. Those details were probably invented/developed over the decades by different communities.

    Arkenaten:

    No, it doesn’t count as there is no mention of the character outside the bible. Anyone could have written the letters, thus there is no way to verify whether there is an authentic ”Paul” behind them.”

    97 minutes after posting that “there is no mention of [Paul] outside of the bible”, you wrote that Clement “mentions Paul in 1 Clement.” Paul was also mentioned by Ignatius and Polycarp. In addition to his own authentic writings — some of which indicated he signed them (the autographs, obviously) with his own hand — we have other people later on forging letters in his name.

    So we have his own writings, and numerous written records by other people that talk about him. If this does not constitute adequate evidence of the historicity of Paul, I’m not sure what would.

    one would expect there to be some mention of him somewhere other than from the hand of christians.

    No, one really would not. You seem to think we have extensive records of a lot of people from that time. We do not. We have very, very few records of individuals from that area in the first century, and those we do have are rarely multiply attested. Why in the world should we expect to have written records of a partially disabled traveling evangelist for some minor sect of Judaism? Why would we expect that some degree of harassing/persecuting the relatively small following Jesus had accrued (probably in the low hundreds) would justify people writing about Paul? Even if somebody did, why would we expect the record to have survived?

    Paul became (eventually) an important figure within Christianity, but Christianity itself was not very important for a long time. We see Paul as important today, because the path of history made Christianity, and therefore Paul, important. At the time he was alive, Christianity was just a trivially small movement, one of many sects within Judaism. And there weren’t exactly scribes documenting trivial things like that. Hell, there weren’t many scribes documenting much bigger things. We barely have any historical records of the existence of Pilate — just the references in the Bible, a 1st century reference from Philo, a 2nd century reference by Tacitus, and an inscription that was not discovered until the 1960’s! — and Pilate was the Roman Governor of the entire region! If there are barely any surviving references to the Roman Governor, why would we expect to have many references to a couple of unimportant (until long after) traveling preachers?

    As far as the rest of your questions about evidence, I don’t think you have a good grasp of what “evidence” means. The texts themselves are evidence. They are not proof of the claims made within the texts, but the texts are evidence.

    Ultimately, there is no amount of historical evidence that can *prove* the existence of an ancient figure. Even Alexander the Great. Nobody can *prove* that he said, authored or accomplished the things attributed to him, that the people who wrote about him did not make him up, or that the visual representations of him were not actually based on somebody else. But that is not how the field of history works. Historians can only determine what is most likely. If you want to set a higher bar, you’re certainly welcome to do it, but don’t confuse that with the field of history.

    Liked by 1 person

  68. Jon

    You make very good points in regard to Paul. Unlike Jesus, we do have historical references to the physical description of Paul.

    I was interested in your observation:

    Historians can only determine what is most likely.

    The irony is that this is the approach championed by Dr Richard Carrier in regard to whether or not Jesus existed. He claims to use probability techniques to determine the likelihood of Jesus being a real or imaginary figure. He argues on this basis the odds are very much weighted toward Jesus being mythical.

    Of course whilst Dr Carrier’s approach does sound objective, it is formidably difficult for any person to be truly objective in assigning probabilities in such an exercise.

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  69. @Jon
    The more you comment the more you come across as a dogmatic apologist.

    The references to ”Paul/Saul// are all in reference to the epistles or Acts.
    There is no contemporaneous evidence for the character, something any reasonable person would expect considering his influence on Christianity.

    There is no correspondence with the Churches he supposedly wrote to.
    No one made any enquiries after the character Jesus of Nazareth. Not a sniff. Why not? Were they not in the least bit curious? I would be, wouldn’t you?
    Alas not even a copy from a single presbyter asking what he looked like, what was Jesus’ favorite food, could they meet his mum or his brothers, or even an inquirt after what shampoo he used or his inside leg measurement.

    For all intent and purpose ”Paul” was writing in a vacuum.

    As a (claimed) student of Gamaleil one would also expect the Sanhedrin – who supposedly sanctioned his initial ”bounty hunting ” expedition – would have some record of him. But oops, no. Not a peep.

    I have a perfectly understanding of what evidence means, thanks all the same, and your continual hand-waving is not going to alter the fact that we do not have a single secular reference for the character.

    It’s also worth noting that he was supposedly in Jerusalem around the same time Jesus was. Odd that he provides no witness to the god man either. Odd that he made no move on the Christian ringleaders in his midst.

    Didn’t he also supposedly make a trip to Epheus? And wasn’t Jesus mum living only a couple óf hours up the road?
    Yet he made no effort to go see the mother of the creator of the universe. Not even to pop by for a cup of tea? You’d think if he had of he would have mentioned it.

    ”Ooh, he was a very naughty boy. I don’t know about messiah, but his room was always a mess.”

    So with all this spurious nonsense surrounding the character you want to hang your hat on the a few supposed autographed ”letters” and claim historicity of someone for whom there is not one secular reference?

    You should become a Christian apologist, you’d be a shoe-in.

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  70. @Jon
    I would like to hand out the olive branch for a moment and back this up a bit and try something.

    See if you can dig up a single mention of Saul/Paul among any Jewish rabbinic writing or secular sources of the 1st and 2nd century.
    Let me know if you come up with anything?

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  71. Peter:

    The irony is that this is the approach championed by Dr Richard Carrier in regard to whether or not Jesus existed.

    Indeed. I actually think the idea of applying Bayesian reasoning to history is quite interesting. But, as you point out, the mere act of determining categories and assigning probabilities can be problematic, especially in a field like history. Unfortunately, Carrier jumped straight to a particularly difficult case instead of proving the methodology in peer reviewed literature first.

    Arkenaten:

    The more you comment the more you come across as a dogmatic apologist.

    What I am describing is the near-universal consensus of scholars, including atheist scholars. If you think “Yes, there was probably a real apocalyptic preacher who was killed by the Romans and his followers became the earliest Christians and made up stories about him” sounds like dogmatic apologetics, then I can only accept that you disagree and politely suggest that if you (a layman, I presume) reject the consensus of an entire field, perhaps you might be the dogmatic one.

    No one made any enquiries after the character Jesus of Nazareth. Not a sniff.

    This is a bit like saying we have no birth records for anybody in 2500 BC, therefore we must conclude that nobody was born in 2500 BC. We have very, very few records of any kind from that era. It’s hardly surprising that we have no records of the vast, vast majority of correspondence, much less records of conversations Paul may have hard. I think you are seriously overestimating what kinds of records we should expect to have.

    As a (claimed) student of Gamaleil one would also expect the Sanhedrin – who supposedly sanctioned his initial ”bounty hunting ” expedition – would have some record of him. But oops, no. Not a peep.

    What contemporary records of Gamaleil’s students do we have? What contemporary records do we have by the Sanhedrin? According to Jewish Virtual Library, “The earliest record of a Sanhedrin is by Josephus who wrote of a political Sanhedrin convened by the Romans in 57 B.C.E.”

    Didn’t he also supposedly make a trip to Epheus? And wasn’t Jesus mum living only a couple óf hours up the road?Yet he made no effort to go see the mother of the creator of the universe.

    Paul’s trip to Ephesus is dated to around 52-55 AD. If Jesus was born around 4 BC, then his mother probably would have been long dead by then.

    It’s also worth noting that he was supposedly in Jerusalem around the same time Jesus was.

    I’m not sure anything in the textual record suggests this. Remember, Jesus was only (according to the gospels) in Jerusalem for a very few days. Even if Paul (who was not from Jerusalem) was in Jerusalem at the time, the odds of him meeting Jesus seem about as low as the odds of you meeting a person who visited your city. Regardless, Paul is pretty clear that he only “saw” Jesus in a vision, not in the flesh.

    See if you can dig up a single mention of Saul/Paul among any Jewish rabbinic writing or secular sources of the 1st and 2nd century.

    I’m not aware of any. Can you tell me why we should expect to have such a written record? Can you tell me how many minor sectarian preachers were written about in the extant Jewish rabbinic texts? How many contemporaneous texts do we have that discuss the students of Gamaliel by name? What percentage of 1st century preachers were discussed in 1st and 2nd century Jewish texts?

    If you can answer those questions, I can accept that you have a substantial basis for your question. If you can’t, then I would again politely suggest that you are mistaken about what we should “expect.”

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  72. One more thing. I would highly recommend this Quora answer by Tim O’Neill explaining why historians “generally agree that it is most likely that a historical preacher, on whom the Christian figure “Jesus Christ” is based, did exist.”

    https://www.quora.com/Do-credible-historians-agree-that-the-man-named-Jesus-who-the-Christian-Bible-speaks-of-walked-the-earth-and-was-put-to-death-on-a-cross-by-Pilate-Roman-governor-of-Judea/answer/Tim-ONeill-1

    He answers a lot of the questions that keep coming up here.

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  73. I’m not aware of any. Can you tell me why we should expect to have such a written record? Can you tell me how many minor sectarian preachers were written about in the extant Jewish rabbinic texts? How many contemporaneous texts do we have that discuss the students of Gamaliel by name? What percentage of 1st century preachers were discussed in 1st and 2nd century Jewish texts?

    Because He was supposedly sanctioned by the Sanhedrin to specifically seek out Christians.
    He would thus have been regarded as somewhat of a rebel or renegade and one would expect, because of his supposed impact, at fame ( notoriety?) been mentioned at least somewhere.

    To phrase it in another fashion: What percentage of 1st century preachers were claimed to be responsible for the establishment and indirect spread of christianity in direct challenge to the Judaism of the day, including challenging such practices as circumcision, who was supposedly a Roman Citizen, travelled all over the place, was imprisoned several times and escaped/freed, met with numerous dignitaries and those in high office, was sent to Rome for trial and was eventually jailed and (presumably) martyred … and went completely unnoticed by every single Jewish and secular witness, and were also students of Gamaliel,

    Neither is he mentioned (as far as I am aware) by any of the more well know historians,Tacitus Pliny, Philo.

    It is the very absence of evidence for what we would expect for such a character, coupled with the apparent erroneous nonsense in Acts that one would think should give pause for thought.

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  74. @Jon

    We have very, very few records of any kind from that era.

    That’s not exactly true.

    A written tradition was very much alive and well across 1st Century Palestine, and although papyrus imported from Egypt might indeed have been considered expensive (monopolised products typically are) a quick search through the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Papyrus Collection, reveals numerous contemporary examples of the medium in wide use across the eastern Mediterranean for such mundane purposes as receipts, lists, lease agreements, marriage and divorce documents, and even run-of-the-mill business letters. The cost however of papyrus is entirely irrelevant. Far cheaper and more readily available parchment fashioned from lime treated animal hides (vellum) was the medium of choice and although subject to rot when exposed to humidity documents considered important enough were repeatedly reproduced, as exampled in the library of Qumran.

    Now, according to Christians, Jesus was the greatest person ever; a god born of a virgin who as a two year-old toddler slaughtered an entire gaggle of hideous fire-breathing DRAGONS, performed mass exorcisms, breathed life into clay statues, brought eight very dead people (two of whom he murdered) back to life, blew snakes apart with a word, transformed into a ball of light and met with spirits, controlled the weather with a wave, walked on water, fed 5,000 awestruck people with next to nothing (not once but twice), healed the blind, reanimated limbs, defied chemistry by turning water into wine, and performed so many other miracles that John (21:25) said “If every one of them were written down the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.” All this and more was done, we’re told, and yet no one in all of Palestine was apparently moved enough by any of it to scribble down a single word. Not even a single piece of graffiti.

    It’s rather awkward.

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  75. I agree with Ark that IF Jesus was the great phenomenon that the Gospels make him out to be, we should at least read something about him in Philo. Philo said quite a bit about Pilate, after all.

    But if Jesus was NOT a great phenomenon during his lifetime, but only an insignificant flash in the pan, one in a long line of messiah pretenders who was unceremoniously snuffed out as a minor nuisance, then it is not surprising that Philo nor anyone else mentions him.

    But the fact that multiple first centuries authors wrote about this character as if he were a real historical person IS evidence. Whether the claim is true or not we will never know.

    Liked by 1 person

  76. Is it possible for everyone to be correct?

    I see the good points of Ark and the others, but I think Jon has his point – I’m pretty well uneducated on this, so take it for what it’s worth.

    But could it be that both Jesus and Paul were smaller characters than the gospels make out, while still being real people? Like where the gospels and letters were embellishments, based off of these people?

    I think everyone in this discussion agrees the bible is full of errors, fallacies and non-truths, but then we also recognize that there are some real parts to it, like certain people and locations, etc.

    Again, for me, it does seem to make more sense that Jesus was a real guy, although initially pretty low on the radar, and same with Paul, albeit their claimed exploits have been wildly embellished overtime.

    There is mention of both these men in the first century. And besides that, there were clearly those who followed or believed in these men during that time, so I can see where that’s viewed as evidence that a guy names Jesus and a guy names Paul likely existed, that these latter legends were attached to.

    to me, the real question is, who actually nailed Jesus to the cross, because he/they is a god killer, and is likely a god himself.

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  77. Because He was supposedly sanctioned by the Sanhedrin to specifically seek out Christians. He would thus have been regarded as somewhat of a rebel or renegade and one would expect, because of his supposed impact, at fame ( notoriety?) been mentioned at least somewhere.

    Ok, how many records do we have from that time period of other rebels, renegades and sectarian preachers sanctioned by the Sanhedrin?

    What percentage of 1st century preachers were claimed to be responsible for the establishment and indirect spread of christianity in direct challenge to the Judaism of the day … and went completely unnoticed by every single Jewish and secular witness, and were also students of Gamaliel…

    I don’t know. Can you tell me about the contemporaneous records we have of other 1st century preachers and students of Gamaliel?

    You keep saying that we should “expect” such records to exist, but you have not shown that such records should be “expected”. Please show me why we should expect that.

    You also keep talking about the importance of Christianity, as if that was a reality in the 1st century. You are imposing later facts on an earlier context.

    That’s not exactly true. A written tradition was very much alive and well across 1st Century Palestine…

    Of course there were written records. We just don’t have very many of them, particularly in the region around where Jesus lived and died. Heck, Josephus is our only source for a *lot* of the things he wrote about. Think about that for a moment. We have major historic events for which Josephus (writing decades later) is our ONLY textual source.

    Now, according to Christians, Jesus was the greatest person ever; a god born of a virgin who … All this and more was done, we’re told, and yet no one in all of Palestine was apparently moved enough by any of it to scribble down a single word. Not even a single piece of graffiti.

    Yes, it’s almost as if those claims were legendary embellishments, the kind of miracles and “wonders” that were common in greco-roman biographies. Which is exactly what scholars say, and what I said earlier in this discussion.

    Fundamentalists believe the Bible must either be completely true or completely false. Historians do not have the luxury of dealing with sources they can simply classify as 100% accurate or inaccurate.

    Liked by 1 person

  78. could it be that both Jesus and Paul were smaller characters than the gospels make out, while still being real people?

    That is exactly what scholars of the historical Jesus argue. Jesus and Paul are only major figures now because Christianity did grow far, far larger. But that was a much later development. At the time, it was just one of many Jewish sects and Jesus was just one of the many minor leaders. He was, at the time, no more important than some pastor who starts a few churches today, but he lived and died in a time when there were no newspapers to document every little thing.

    Read the O’Niell post I linked earlier. That explains it far better than I can.

    Liked by 1 person

  79. there are more genuine peer-reviewed scholars who question abiogenesis (they are still a minority) than question Jesus’ existence.

    There’s another of your broad, sweeping generalities without a shred of evidence to back it up! Love how often you like to use the word, “consensus” –!

    Liked by 1 person

  80. UnkiE is notorious well-known for his frequent references to, “the general consensus of most biblical scholars,” the majority of which he never names, and of those he does, many, if not most are not acknowledged in the field/fields referenced by the topic, so when I ran across this one, I was excit4ed to be able to offer it to unkiE for his collection.

    You will note that the author of this quotation was considered by many, if not most, of his time to be an authority on most matters biblical:

    “It has served us well, this myth of Christ.”
    — Pope Loe X
    16th century CE —

    Liked by 2 people

  81. Alas, it appears apocryphal.
    https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Pope_Leo_X

    “Widely attributed to Leo X, the earliest known source of this statement is actually a polemical work by the Protestant John Bale, the anti-Catholic Acta Romanorum Pontificum, which was first translated from Latin into English as The Pageant of the Popes in 1574…”

    The link also notes that somebody named Tony Bushby, writing in a paranormal/conspiracy theory magazine, claimed it was also reported by one or two other people, but I can’t find much clear support for that online.

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  82. Yes, I meant to say “Leo” but clearly hit the keys in a different order – I also threw a “4” in there at no extra charge.

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  83. Ha! I didn’t even notice that.

    I guess I withdraw the response. I mean, it seems unlikely that Pope Leo said it, but I can’t say what Pope Loe might have said.

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  84. The choice is not between ‘Jesus was exactly as described in the Gospels’ and ‘Jesus was a myth.’

    Please note, Jon, that in my quotation regarding Pope Leo, Leo didn’t imply that Yeshua was a myth, only that Christ was. One can have it both ways if one declines to believe that Yeshua was the Messiah.

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  85. even if Matthew’s guard story is true

    The guards weren’t posted until the next morning, that’s a lot of time to a grave robber —

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  86. But feel free to demonstrate I am off my rocker. Surprise me with evidence for Jesus of Nazareth.

    Are those two inseparably connected –?

    Liked by 1 person

  87. Paul died before the3 gospels were written, and knew only that which he had heard, word of mouth – the story of Jesus and the woman taken in adultery wasn’t even added to the NT until the 4th century, and then it was added to Luke before it was moved to John.

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  88. for me, it does seem to make more sense that Jesus was a real guy, although initially pretty low on the radar, and same with Paul, albeit their claimed exploits have been wildly embellished overtime.

    I agree, William.

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  89. An interesting new book of fiction that I’ve recently read was “The Last Templar,” which uses that quotation, written in the genre of “The DaVinchi Code,” it had an ending that surprised even me.

    Like

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