Star Stuff's picture

Star Stuff

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Did Jesus exist?

Christians (and even some non christians for that matter) frequently posit  "Jesus said this"  or  "Jesus said that"  and read the bible (NT) as though it just fell from the sky or was written down as events happened. The fact is, during the time of the alleged Jesus character's life, the Romans were fastideous record keepers about all manner of things. Do you know what was recorded about the miracle-working Jesus character during the alleged time of his alleged life?  Nothing. Not one word. Everything attributed to him was cobbled together something like 60 - 120 years later - during a time when "saviour figures" with all of the same characteristics, were ubiquitous in that part of the world.

Christianity was given a massive push forward at the Council of Nicea 300 years later, and made the "State Religion" by Constantine. 

Many scholars have come to the conclusion that there is absolutley no evidence for Jesus as a person of history.  Even Tom Harpur (author of "The Pagan Christ") has come to that conclusion.

Anyway, below are some links to some very interesting information on the historicity of the Jesus character.

http://www.rationalrevolution.net/articles/jesus_myth_history.htm

http://www.rationalrevolution.net/articles/jesus_myth_followup.htm

http://www.atheists.org/Did_Jesus_Exist%3F

http://www.geocities.com/inquisitive79/jesus.html

http://www.jesusneverexisted.com/

http://www.pocm.info/

http://www.inu.net:80/skeptic/

http://www.bandoli.no/

http://www.amazon.ca/Messiah-Myth-Eastern-Roots-Jesus/dp/0712668438/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1233602135&sr=1-5

http://www.amazon.ca/Jesus-Puzzle-Earl-Doherty/dp/096892591X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1233606595&sr=1-1

Audio interview:  http://www.pointofinquiry.org/robert_m_price_jesus_the_failed_hypothesis/

Audio interview:  http://breakfornews.com/my/modules.php?op=modload&name=News&file=article&sid=190

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cjms's picture

cjms

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Nothing new here.  Most of us realize that many of the stories have large mythical components to them.  So does it matter if there was an actual person or is the message of love, compassion and justice still relevant?...cms

Star Stuff's picture

Star Stuff

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When you say "most of us", I take it that you mean those on this forum, and if so, that's great, but it is certainly not representative of most christians in my opinion.  If I tried suggesting the idea that Jesus never really existed to any christian that I know, and they'd think I was out of my mind for even suggesting such a thing.

If your main focus is on having your moral compass pointed in the right direction of love, compassion, empathy, etc then I am totally on board with you there.

Panentheism's picture

Panentheism

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Here again is a misuse of history - one can make a claim there was a Jesus of history - in theological terms - pre history - and be confident in the claim.  One then goes on to mine the myth created by the community - the post Easter Jesus.  One can hold both - for it does matter that there is a source to understand how that experience was transformational - for example to love ones enemies is so transformational it could not been invented.   Now of course our history is sketchy but like all transformational moments there is some historical activity going on - so it is metaphorical history.

 

Ideas do not come out of the sky.  They have trajectories.

Star Stuff's picture

Star Stuff

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Correct me if I'm misunderstanding you Panentheism, but you are suggesting that one of the main by-products of early christianity was the transformative idea of "loving one's enemies".  While that sounds nice, how does it map onto history:

http://www.truthbeknown.com/victims.htm
 

 

 

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killer_rabbit79's picture

killer_rabbit79

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I accept that Jesus existed but I don't accept that the gospels are an historical retelling of his life (or that they were meant to be for that matter). If he did exist, he was a mundane Jewish peasant who rebelled against his society and showed people how corrupt the Jewish religion has become. He caused a new sect to have formed and the first generation of students of the early Christian schools wrote the gospels as additions to the Torah. They were written in the same style as most of the bible's stories, mythical fiction that may have been loosely based on history, but was not meant to be an historical account.

cjms's picture

cjms

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By the way, his label is Panentheism - different from Pantheism (but I'm sure you know that).  Loving rather than hating - especially those not like us - is very difficult.  Just because a religion champions an idea does not mean that everyone will be able to achieve the idea.  We are human and unfortunately we don't behave well all the time.  But surely by the very fact that we have time to sit down and use a computer and debate goodness in life, hatred has not been all consuming for humanity.  Perhaps there is something to this love thing...cms

Mendalla's picture

Mendalla

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Did he exist? I suspect that there's a human being at the core of it all, but that's true of some other bodies of myth and legend as well.

 

How much of what's written about him is literally, historically true? Some of it, but not a lot. He was from Galilee, his parents were (maybe) named Joseph and Mary (or the Aramaic or Hebrew counterparts thereof), and he became notorious as a rabble-rousing preacher which may have led to his execution. His followers then spun an elaborate body of religious literature around him and his teachings.

 

Are the teachings and mythology that have sprung up around Jesus more important than the historical figure? Absolutely. And there begins a very long discussion that we are carrying on right now in many different threads on WC.

 

Atheisto's picture

Atheisto

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For someone so incredibly important there's remarkeably scant evidence for Jesus. About the same as there is for Robin Hood....oh wait...they are similar right? How bizarre.

cjms's picture

cjms

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Why is the historical existance of Jesus important?  For me the message far outweighs the actual human.  And if the message that comes to us through the Christian tradition can't keep step with the values that I find important now, I'll happily jestison them.  Any thought process that cannot be examined is weak.  That is what I get out of much of the bible, no matter how it is used by others...cms

Atheisto's picture

Atheisto

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cjms wrote:

Why is the historical existance of Jesus important?  For me the message far outweighs the actual human.  And if the message that comes to us through the Christian tradition can't keep step with the values that I find important now, I'll happily jestison them.  Any thought process that cannot be examined is weak.  That is what I get out of much of the bible, no matter how it is used by others...cms

The whole Jesus thing though is very important for some people.  You agree with that?

cjms's picture

cjms

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I absolutely do.  I would like to think that Christianity could spend more time talking about things that matter rather than whether or not Jesus (rather than the Christ) existed...cms

waterfall's picture

waterfall

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Forty some years later, I'm still waiting to find out who really assassinated Kennedy. Do you think it's possible someone still knows the truth?

Atheisto's picture

Atheisto

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waterfall wrote:

Forty some years later, I'm still waiting to find out who really assassinated Kennedy. Do you think it's possible someone still knows the truth?

I'm absolutely positive that the assassin did/does.

waterfall's picture

waterfall

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Star Stuff."Do you know what was recorded about the miracle-working Jesus character during the alleged time of his alleged life?  Nothing"

And you discount the Bible as the written word about Jesus? Why? Just because of a short span of time?

The interesting thing I find about the New Testament having been written years after the fact is that the authors could have "cleaned up" the areas of the Bible that were not flattering to Christianity, but instead the controversy was left in. Why do you think that was?

 

Star Stuff's picture

Star Stuff

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waterfall wrote:
The interesting thing I find about the New Testament having been written years after the fact is that the authors could have "cleaned up" the areas of the Bible that were not flattering to Christianity, but instead the controversy was left in. Why do you think that was?

If you'd like to learn more about how the NT came to be, I'd recommend "Misquoting Jesus" by Bart Ehrman.  He is a biblical scholar and ex-christian since examining the evidence.

http://www.amazon.ca/Misquoting-Jesus-Bart-D-Ehrman/dp/0060859512/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1233632005&sr=1-1

*See the "Multi-Media" link on his site for video interviews:

http://bartdehrman.com/
 

 

 

pleroma's picture

pleroma

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Of course there is scant evidence on the Roman side for Jesus (except for the account of Joesphus which is controversal) but how could be otherwise?? To the Romans of the time Jesus is just some crazy Jewish peasant who caused a minor disturbance in an outlying province of the empire. 

Why should we expect detailed accounts of such a disturbance to survive?  There were hundreds of them happening every year in every corner of the Empire.  The Roman way was to dispose of the problem and maintain order.

Only Jesus' followers kept his memory alive and did this through oral tradition which was written and codified much later.

Whats remarkable is that Jesus by all worldly measure was a "nobody" who was executed for disturbing the peace.  This nobody changed the course of human history.

 

waterfall's picture

waterfall

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You didn't answer my question. Why write a book (meaning the bible) that is full of controversey? Why not fix all of  the loopholes? All of those areas that atheists like to point out as flawed?

 

cjms's picture

cjms

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waterfall wrote:

You didn't answer my question. Why write a book (meaning the bible) that is full of controversey? Why not fix all of  the loopholes? All of those areas that atheists like to point out as flawed?

 

Umm, wf, the bible wasn't written by one person.  It's a collection of writings written over hundreds of years, witnessing to an experience of life using poetry, myth, gospel, etc (depending on the book).  Naturally there are differences...cms

waterfall's picture

waterfall

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Exactly, why not "edit" the authors and leave out the flaws? Make no room for obvious criticism? Why perpetuate a book that has obvious contradictions? It could have easily been fixed. Why wasn't it?

Star Stuff's picture

Star Stuff

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So, you are saying it is man-made?

cjms's picture

cjms

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waterfall wrote:

Exactly, why not "edit" the authors and leave out the flaws? Make no room for obvious criticism? Why perpetuate a book that has obvious contradictions? It could have easily been fixed. Why wasn't it?

 

You would only do so if you were reading it as a continuous novel.  So there are contradictions.  Different people at different times with different understandings were sharing their thoughts.  They were not writing in an effort to be canonized.  Who would fix it?  Why would it be?  It's like taking a compilation of poetry by different poetics and trying to make them all the same.  It's unfortunate that we often see the bible as one book...cms

waterfall's picture

waterfall

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I realize the book has many authors etc...but I am also aware that many believe that it has been tampered with throughout the ages, so why leave the controversy if that is the case?  At least make it read as if the apostles don't contradict each other.

 

 

cjms's picture

cjms

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Again you are trying to make the experience universal and I don't know that that is the point.  And there have been lots of changes made but all you need is to find an earlier manuscript and those changes can become moot.  I guess I'm not understanding your point.  If we simply look at the synoptics, each subsequent author took the the earlier manuscript (Mark, Q) and adapted as necessary when speaking to the community he (unlikely to be she) was addressing...cms

Star Stuff's picture

Star Stuff

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......and I don't suggest that it is not the word of any deity simply because of the trainwreck that it is, but because of how barbaric it is.

http://www.evilbible.com/

Think about it for a minute, the creator of the universe wants to clearly and unambiguously communicate its desired instructions and relationship manual to humankind, and the best possible way to do this is by a "book" of dubious origins in primitive Palestine 2000-3000 years ago.  The original, by the way, will not be known, but rather copies of copies of copies of copies.  This brilliant "message to the world" would (because of time and geography) never reach the vast majority of said humans.  All of the billions of people who lived & died outside of this miniscule pocket of desert, get the silent treatment, and if you adhere to what the bible says....they are on a greased pole to hell because they haven't accepted Jesus Christ as their personal saviour.

Does that make any sense to you?

Christopher Hitchens touches on this in this illustrated video:

Part 1: 

Part 2: 

cjms's picture

cjms

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*bangs head on desk*  - Ok stick with the literalist approach.  I had hopes for a few minutes...cms

waterfall's picture

waterfall

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Star Stuff"......and I don't suggest that it is not the word of any deity simply because of the trainwreck that it is, but because of how barbaric it is."
 

It's interesting how one person can read the Bible and get nothing but barbarism from it and another will receive a message of love.

Star Stuff's picture

Star Stuff

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waterfall wrote:
It's interesting how one person can read the Bible and get nothing but barbarism from it and another will receive a message of love.

Yes, that is interesting.  It is a veritable supermarket for whatever one wants to find.  But if it was the inspired word of a god, one wouldn't expect to find all of the nonsense that is found in volumes within the pages - unless that particular god was a monster.

cjms's picture

cjms

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Star Stuff wrote:

But if it was the inspired word of a god, one wouldn't expect to find all of the nonsense that is found in volumes within the pages

 

Hey - so you have been listening.  What if...it's a collection of stories not meant to be taken literally but rather metaphorically.  What if they were written in a genre common at the time of writing meant to convey a meaning but not history.  What if...

 

time for bed.  thanks for the discussion...cms

waterfall's picture

waterfall

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Star Stuff"Yes, that is interesting.  It is a veritable supermarket for whatever one wants to find.  But if it was the inspired word of a god, one wouldn't expect to find all of the nonsense that is found in volumes within the pages - unless that particular god was a monster."

 

What if God thought we could handle the truth? Rather than deliver a sterile message for a messed up world? The truth is he is speaking to us who live in this world.

Star Stuff's picture

Star Stuff

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waterfall wrote:
What if God thought we could handle the truth? Rather than deliver a sterile message for a messed up world?

 
Huh?  I don't get that.

Quote:
The truth is he is speaking to us who live in this world.

The truth is, that is a baseless assertion.  How do you square the different messages he gives to competing religions?  The radical muslims are as convinced as you that their god is speaking to them when they strap a bomb on to kill the infidels.  There are myriad christians who can't agree on what god is saying, thus the numerous denominations.

George Bush says he speaks to god every day, and christians love him for it. If George Bush said he spoke to god through his hair dryer, they would think he was mad. I fail to see how the addition of a hair dryer makes it any more absurd.

waterfall's picture

waterfall

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If you read what Jesus said and what he did you will soon see who is really a follower of Jesus. The examples you quoted cannot be justified as someone being Christian. Do your homework.

The same goes for Islam and other religions. You have to know what is being taught to determine if someone is a true follower or just a terrorist bastardizing the teachings of certain belief systems.

Star Stuff's picture

Star Stuff

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cjms wrote:
What if...it's a collection of stories not meant to be taken literally but rather metaphorically.

Please tell me how this story is helpful to anyone:

 

2 Kings 2:23-24  From there Elisha went up to Bethel. As he was walking along the road, some youths came out of the town and jeered at him. "Go on up, you baldhead!" they said. "Go on up, you baldhead!" He turned around, looked at them and called down a curse on them in the name of the Lord. Then two bears came out of the woods and mauled forty-two of the youths.

Star Stuff's picture

Star Stuff

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waterfall wrote:
If you read what Jesus said and what he did you will soon see who is really a follower of Jesus.

If you had checked out some of the links I initially offered, you'd realize that there is no way that anyone can know what this Jesus character said, let alone if he existed at all.

Quote:
The same goes for Islam and other religions. You have to know what is being taught to determine if someone is a true follower or just a terrorist bastardizing the teachings of certain belief systems.

No, the Islamists who are compelled to kill the infidels are simply being more honest and true to the texts than the moderates.

Part 1: 

Part 2: 

Part 3: 

Part 4: 


 

 

 

Arminius's picture

Arminius

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To me, Jesus the Christ is an archetype. I also assume that Jesus the man was a real historical person. But whether or not, or how, he may have existed does not matter to me.

 

 

 

Witch's picture

Witch

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waterfall wrote:

Exactly, why not "edit" the authors and leave out the flaws? Make no room for obvious criticism? Why perpetuate a book that has obvious contradictions? It could have easily been fixed. Why wasn't it?

 

Are you seriously suggesting that the flaws and contradictions prove the Bible is true?

pleroma's picture

pleroma

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Wow some atheists as the same as fundementalists for whating to read the Bible literally and absolutely.  Funny how people emulate what they hate.

The Bible must be interpreted.  It is couched in symbolism and metaphor.  Not all of it can be accepted and some it contradicts itself. 

A simple and well known example from Exodus 21:

23If any harm follows, then you shall give life for life, 24eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, 25burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.

Contradicted by:

You have heard that it was said, An Eye for an Eye, and a tooth for a tooth.' But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.

Matthew 5:38-42, NIV

The above is revolutionary stuff, by the context of today and the context of 2000 years ago.

 

Saul_now_Paul's picture

Saul_now_Paul

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Star Stuff wrote:

Please tell me how this story is helpful to anyone:

 

 

2 Kings 2:23-24  From there Elisha went up to Bethel. As he was walking along the road, some youths came out of the town and jeered at him. "Go on up, you baldhead!" they said. "Go on up, you baldhead!" He turned around, looked at them and called down a curse on them in the name of the Lord. Then two bears came out of the woods and mauled forty-two of the youths.

One of the overarching themes of the Old Testament is that if you mock God, or his people – it will not go well with you.  
 
The New Testament offers a way for the mocker to repent and save himself from getting mauled.  But sadly, many mockers don’t repent.
 
That is why the story is not helpful to you.
Saul_now_Paul's picture

Saul_now_Paul

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Hi plemora,
 
It is not contradiction, but comparison.
 
We can live and die by the law (Golden Rule) and be judged by it.  Count on ending up a blind, toothless amputee, burnt, scarred and whipped and finally dead.
 
Or we can choose to live by Christ’s grace, thereby avoiding the pummeling we deserve.
 
Failing to choose Christ’s grace, by default, we are under the law.
Tyson's picture

Tyson

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So star stuff. You said that you were a Christian for 25 years. What made you change your mind and swing so rdically in the opposite direction?

Tyson's picture

Tyson

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My thoughts? Jesus exists, was crucified for my sins, was resurrected 3 days later and now sits at the right hand of the Father.

 

I will never change my mind
Try to torch me and you'll find
You can't turn me or deter me
No matter how you try
You can't burn me
 

 

I will, never, never, never, never, never, never, never, never sell Jesus out. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.

Atheisto's picture

Atheisto

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My thoughts are that throughout history there have been many "Jesuses", men who wanted to have a following. I think a myth was based upon one of these characters or maybe a few in the same way that the Robin Hood myth started.

Why suggest this?  It's human nature to want to feel special.  People do this in different ways.  Even today there are many "messiahs" around the world some of them are harmless, some of them are just snake oil salesmen trying to make a fast buck from the gullible (ie take your pick of any charismatic TV evangelists...Benny Hinn..please stand up).  Apparently people arrive in Israel every year claiming to be Jesus.

This is just my opinion though.

Atheisto's picture

Atheisto

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Oh...and Consuming...don't forget..if Jesus did exist and did die...he died for his own sins. 

Tyson's picture

Tyson

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Atheisto wrote:

Oh...and Consuming...don't forget..if Jesus did exist and did die...he died for his own sins. 

 

As I believe that Jesus is God the Son, I believe that Jesus was without sin. Notice in my post I said the Jesus died for my sins. If you believe that you are without sin, that's your concern. As for me, I'm a wretched sinner and have realized my need for a Saviour. That Saviour is Jesus Christ.

Atheisto's picture

Atheisto

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Hmm no...I'm human...with faults like the rest of us.  If Jesus existed I'm pretty sure he was human and thus had faults too.  Perhaps he parked his smart car in disabled parking spots at Loblaws when he went in to buy his hummous and tofu...who knows.

Tyson's picture

Tyson

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Atheisto wrote:

Hmm no...I'm human...with faults like the rest of us.  If Jesus existed I'm pretty sure he was human and thus had faults too.  Perhaps he parked his smart car in disabled parking spots at Loblaws when he went in to buy his hummous and tofu...who knows.

 

Well as I said, I believe that Jesus is God the Son, which would make Him both human AND divine, and as such, was tempted like us yet was without sin.

Atheisto's picture

Atheisto

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consumingfire wrote:

Atheisto wrote:

Hmm no...I'm human...with faults like the rest of us.  If Jesus existed I'm pretty sure he was human and thus had faults too.  Perhaps he parked his smart car in disabled parking spots at Loblaws when he went in to buy his hummous and tofu...who knows.

 Well as I said, I believe that Jesus is God the Son, which would make Him both human AND divine, and as such, was tempted like us yet was without sin.

Tempted you say?  You mean he went for the Twinkies and cigarettes when he was in Loblaws for health food?

SG's picture

SG

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Even in this day and age of information superhighways, there may be no evidence recorded that many of the world's people ever existed.  We do not even have to go back into antiquity.

Let's also not pretend that history and archeaology are something they are not and were never intended to be.

Let's not pretend that if one cannot find information about someone, something or someplace that it then never existed.

Some have applied criteria to Jesus of Nazareth they would not apply to any another human being because of stories told about him.

A great-great-great grandparent that there is no historical record of may have and very often did, in fact, exist. The stories about them may be mostly family folklore.

One cannot claim they did not exist solely on finding no recorded proof written during their lifetime of their existence.

The fact that people say they existed, yet the person they speak of was deceased before their testimony was recorded, means what exactly?

If one cannot find an eyewitness who wrote about you in your own lifetime, does it mean you did not exist?

Let's not hold sloppy science up as great science.

So, that people recorded information after the life of Jesus, it means what exactly?

Nothing, one way or the other.

It is a bad leap to say that because something is hearsay it is not true.

That people had vested interest, bad incidents in their life, expanded other stories... what does that mean?

It is a bad leap to say that everything they say is a lie, even if they are a known liar.

If one questions the testimony of people that Jesus existed because they are anonymous writers and/or had a stake in the existence. If one was being impartial, would that not equally apply to anonymous records of all manners of things even lists of ship's passengers or census records whom we have no idea the recorder?

There are many documents that no longer exist in autograph copy. That too does not mean much.

If one has not discovered an archealogical site, it does not mean it does not exist.

There is as much "evidence" that Jesus existed as didn't.

It depends upon which side of the hypothesis one is working....

Peace,

SG

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SG

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double posted

Tyson's picture

Tyson

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Atheisto wrote:

consumingfire wrote:

Atheisto wrote:

Hmm no...I'm human...with faults like the rest of us.  If Jesus existed I'm pretty sure he was human and thus had faults too.  Perhaps he parked his smart car in disabled parking spots at Loblaws when he went in to buy his hummous and tofu...who knows.

 Well as I said, I believe that Jesus is God the Son, which would make Him both human AND divine, and as such, was tempted like us yet was without sin.

Tempted you say?  You mean he went for the Twinkies and cigarettes when he was in Loblaws for health food?

 

Sure. Jesus was tempted in the desert by Satan. Jesus rebuked Satan every time with the word of God. Tempted, yet was without sin.

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