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View Diary: CNN: Pope Francis has changed NOTHING. That's why he's so important (248 comments)

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  •  Jesus was obscure. (0+ / 0-)

    He was a fairly minor preacher who was executed as soon as he presented even a slight problem to the Roman administration.  He was one of thousands of seditious criminals of all sorts who were crucified.  There would have been no reason at the time to pay any more attention to him than to the obscure "bandits" or "thieves" who, according to the Gospels, were crucified alongside Jesus.  And there would have been no more need to make a written record of Jesus' trial than those of the bandits.  Nothing in early Christian or non-Christian writings contradicts this.

    The Gospel narratives are not reliable in their details at all.  They were all compiled by Greek Christians decades after Jesus' death.  All scholars of the historical Jesus know this.  As I said earlier,

    The miracles and the resurrection are not historically supportable at all, but a matter of religious belief.
    This is obvious.
    However, the Gospel accounts are also the earliest documents we have about this person called Jesus, and historical research and analysis shows that some of the assertions in them are historically reliable.  To deny this is to deny historical research and analysis itself.

    Your other comment,

    Why would people make this stuff up? Why would people make up any religious story?
    is merely a dodge.  The question at hand is not "why would one make up any religious stories at all," but rather, "why would one make up important aspects of Jesus' life that blatantly contradict core beliefs about the Messiah?"  You have not addressed that question.

    To put this another way -- if you deny the existence of Jesus, then do you deny the existence of the Buddha?  Of Confucius?

    •  There is no hard evidence for Buddha (0+ / 0-)

      but I'd have to look up Confucius.

      The "biography" of Jesus was a total fabrication based upon some OT writings and biographies of numerous pagan savior figures.  Most of the very early Xtian sects did not believe in a Christ that walked this earth in human form. It was the early RCC that decided to claim that Jesus was real in order to distinguish him from the pagan gods like Mithra.  

      OF course some of the historical descriptions in the gospels were accurate, but the overlay of the Jesus stories were not. Why do you think all four gospels have differing reports of the passion story and the events that took place after Jesus was dead? Your are hanging your evidence hat on the wrong things.

      •  Denying history (0+ / 0-)
        There is no hard evidence for Buddha.
        Therefore, by your own reasoning, Buddha must not have existed.  Your logical argument thus far is:
        This person is only attested in religious sources, which are not reliable. --> This person is non-existent.
        Likewise, by your reasoning, we would have to conclude that the overwhelming majority of people who ever lived in the Roman empire -- Jews, Berbers, Celts, etc., etc., overwhelmingly obscure, illiterate peasants -- all did not exist.  There is no record of them.  They are attested in no documents, religious or otherwise.  So therefore they didn't exist.  They are all fictitious figments of our imagination.
        Most of the very early Xtian sects did not believe in a Christ that walked this earth in human form.
        Which "very early Xtian sects" are you talking about?  Do you mean ones that existed before the Gospel of Mark was compiled?  If so please DO TELL what you know about them, since historians and archeologists know nothing at all of them.  Whoever those early Christians were, they were clearly obscure and largely illiterate.  They left behind no trace except the epistles of Paul and James, which say almost nothing one way or another about Jesus.

        If, on the other hand, you are talking about the Gnostics, whose writings were discovered at Nag Hammadi--
        a.  They were a significant part of the Christian movement, but certainly not "most."
        b.  Their ideas did not take shape till the second century CE, at least a generation after the Gospel of Mark.

        Why do you think all four gospels have differing reports of the passion story and the events that took place after Jesus was dead?
        Here, you are continuing to ignore the basic point I have explained more than once before, namely:  some assertions in a document may be true and others false.  Historical and textual analysis can help to discern which is which.  You, on the other hand, seem to continue to insist that the truth of a document must all stand or fall as a single unit (ironically, the exact same attitude as a religious fundamentalist).  If this were the case, ALL historical research would be impossible, since one can find reason to doubt some of the assertions in any historical document. For example:  If one wanted to know about Sacco and Vanzetti, the records of their trials would be a good source.  The trial records are sure to contain a good deal of bias and falsehoods, but by looking for consistency, plausibility, and the various sources of attestations, one can judge what is most likely to be true.

        To put this another way, suppose we went up to a child on the street today and asked her, "what do you know about the life of George Washington?" two things you might very likely hear are:
        1.  "He chopped down a cherry tree."
        2.  "He had a wife named Martha."
        These propositions, as I'm sure you know, are:
        1.  False
        2.  True
        If you knew nothing about George Washington, it would take some work to discern which of these propositions was true and which false--and one reason to question the veracity of assertion #1 is that it teaches a neat little moral lesson, which makes it likely to be a fable or parable rather than literal fact.  The same cannot be said of proposition #2, which gives it, at least for the moment, a slightly better claim to veracity.  We are now doing historical analysis.

        Your conclusion, on the other hand, would be: "Cherry tree story is wrong.  Therefore THERE IS NO GEORGE WASHINGTON."

        We are in this type of situation with regard to Jesus.  All of the earliest information we have about him comes from his followers, who had a great deal of bias and motivation to tell tall tales.  Nonetheless, this does not mean that there was no Jesus.  Rather, there is a great deal of information in the Gospels that the early Christians would have had no conceivable reason to invent and then consistently repeat.  The simplest, most reasonable explanation, in historians' view, is that some of that information did come from a real person's life.

        Since you disagree, please tell me:  why, in your view, would the early Christians consistently make up a Messiah who:

        1.  Was an ordinary, obscure Jew
        2.  Came from Nazareth, an ordinary, unremarkable town
        3.  Was baptized by John the Baptist
        4.  Achieved NO significant political or military victories
        5.  Was betrayed by his own followers
        6.  Died by crucifixion

        Please, please PLEASE, present to me your plausible scenario for how Christians would cook up a Messiah that fits these parameters (the ones I've listed), and then go and repeat these same claims about him consistently enough that they would be multiply attested.  I want to know how and why you think that could have happened, and how and why you consider that scenario more plausible than the notion that a prototype Jesus did exist.

        •  I would advise you at this point (0+ / 0-)

          to copy and paste these questions and remarks and submit them to to Richard Carrier on his blogsite. As for "Buddha", here is but a small exerpt from just one source ....enjoy.....

          "The Buddhists of different parts of the East differ widely in their chronology. The Northern Division of the faith place the birth of Buddha in 1030 B.C., the Southern fix his death in 543 B.C., a discrepancy of five centuries. Other accounts reveal disagreements of still further magnitude. Upon this absence of even an approach to chronological accuracy, Professor Wilson has broached the idea that probably the existence of Buddha is a myth. 'There are various considerations which throw suspicion upon the narrative and render it very problematical whether any such person as Sakiya Sinha, or Sakiya Muni, or Sramana Gautama ever actually existed.'"

          Rev. Simpson, Moor's Hindu Pantheon

        •  One more point.... (0+ / 0-)

          I was not talking about the gnostics. I was talking about the Christ cults that formed out of both Jewish and pagan religions. The idea of a crucified and resurrected savior was a large part of cultural philosophies way before the alleged lifetime of "Jesus".  These ideas were infused into the allegorical writings of the gospel authors.  A good reading on this is The Jesus Puzzle by Earl Dogerty.   Again... enjoy!

          •  show me the crucifix (0+ / 0-)
            Christ cults that formed out of both Jewish and pagan religions.
            Again, I am aware of no such cults, and neither, I think, are any historians.  There were cults, all over the eastern Roman world, to dying-and-resurrecting gods, but none to a crucified person named Jesus who then rose from the dead--except for early Christianity, which we only know of from Paul's epistle and from the Gospels.  My understanding, from Richard Carrier's review of Doherty's book, is that these cults that worshiped a non-human Jesus who was crucified and resurrected, are purely hypothetical, posited by Doherty in order to fit with his preferred inrepretation of Paul's epistles.  Again, if you know more, please do share, scholars would love to hear!
            •  The basic question we were debating (0+ / 0-)

              was whether there was an actual person (maybe named Jesus or not) who was actually crucified in an specific event which sparked the formation of a new religious society.  Again, there is no credible evidence of this specific person in history that can be attached to the sects and cults that came out of the salvation narratives.    I have read so many articles and books on this, it would be hard for me to go through and find the specific answers you want to have.  I do have a manuscript of something I found online that shows some of the pagan gods being crucified on a cross shaped tree or symbol. So even that mode of torture is not original to the Christian ideas.  Tammuz is mentioned in the old testament and he was one of those dying/resurrecting gods, but I can't offhand remember the names of the ones put with the cross symbol.  The cross symbol actually represented the sun.

              Doherty's book is fascinating and he comes to the conclusion that Paul Christianity was from one of those cults who believed that the Christ crucifixion/resurrection  happened on a different plane of existence and not on earth.  This explains why Paul never refers to Jesus's early biography or to any of his reported sayings.

              Anyway, I am looking forward to Carrier's book.  He wrote a lengthy rebuttal to Bart Ehrman's latest book that claimed Jesus was historical.  And Carrier was a fan of Ehrmans before that.

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