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  •  One record of Jesus saying anything. (10+ / 0-)

    No one contemporary to when Jesus was supposed to have lived wrote down a word he said. What writing occurred was that of people creating a religion based on their personal beliefs which they attributed to the Jesus character in their religious novel.

    Sifting through that for allegorical lessons seems like a huge waste of time especially since contemporary religious people simply decide it means whatever they want it to mean ("women are slaves", "black people are evil", "kill anybody you want").

    Applying religious allergories to 21st century robber barons...Yikes!  According to GOP religious doctrine, rich people are the blessed of the earth, how they get wealth is not an issue but it is the job of everyone else to protect and preserve the chosen wealthy from adversity.

    Founders had a great idea. Leave the religious hooha at home and base government policy on enlightenment stuff like science, common good, logic.

    •  Amen to that ;) N/T (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Calamity Jean

      When I see an adult on a bicycle, I do not despair for the future of the human race. ~H.G. Wells

      by Adzam13 on Sun Sep 06, 2009 at 08:45:29 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Not much evidence for Alexander, either (8+ / 0-)

      Most of our literary evidence for Alexander the Great is based on translations of recensions of redactions of editions prepared by Romans based on older Greek materials, some of which were written as propaganda by the early Macedonian monarchs to justify their rule, some of which is pure fantasy and which spawned a huge library of adventure-stories about the Exploits of Alexander in the Mysterious East.

      Nonetheless, historians are fairly confident that Alexander the Great actually existed and really did conquer the Persian Empire.

      Attacking the chain of sources only gets you so far when you have one big fact to deal with.  In Alexander's case, it's the fact that after the late 4th century, most of the Near East and Iran was controlled by Macedonian generals.  In the case of Jesus, it's the existence of a Christian church with branches all over the Mediterranean world, for which we have evidence created within decades of when Jesus was supposed to have lived.

      As evidence for events in the ancient world, it's not too bad, and probably better than we have for some of the minor Roman Emperors.  Jesus wasn't a king, and so didn't leave coins, or inscriptions recounting his battles, but he did leave an organization with some interest in perpetuating stories about its origins.  Those stories may be flawed, hagiographic, semi-mythical in places, and doubtless leave a huge amount that we'd like to know out -- but to dismiss them as a "religious novel" about a "Jesus character" written by people intent on "creating a religion" is to seriously misread the evidence.  Lacking a Jesus, there was scant motive to invent a Jesus.  If the Church were created by James, then why not center the stories on James?  If by Peter, then why not center it on Peter?  If by Paul, then why not make it all about Paul?  Why, forty years after the fact, when a lot of the leading figures of the early church were still alive (and an even greater number who had known them and talked to them) would you invent, out of whole cloth, a figure whom these other people were supposed to have known and talked to, but who never really existed?  Would that have gone over well?

      Imagine, if you will, that you were to invent, today, a major figure of the late 1960s who never existed, but who counted as his friends and followers Martin Luther King, Robert Kennedy, Jack Kerouac, John Lennon, Janis Joplin, and other people from the period, some of whom are still alive.  Add to the story that he was convicted of treason and executed by the orders of Lyndon Johnson.  Do you really think you'd be able to get a whole network of people to believe in this fictional character's actual existence?

      It's possible that you might be able to take a minor figure from this period and exaggerate his importance, so that he seemed to be a much bigger deal than he was at the time.  You might even be able to pass off stories about him meeting and being involved with contemporary people whom he never actually knew or had small influence on.  But making up a non-existent character out of whole cloth is really too much to expect people to swallow.

      •  Oral histories can be surprisingly accurate. (7+ / 0-)

        How could the musings of an blind, illiterate poet, be anything but pure fiction?

        And yet archeologists are finding evidence that Homer's Troy not only existed, but was destroyed in a manner similar to that described in the Illiad.

        Even now, we interview people such as Holocaust survivors to glean information about relatively recent historical events.

        To describe Jesus as some kind of made up myth is illogical. There are almost certainly some distortions in the story, but its likely that most of the basic information is true, since much of it was gleaned from eyewitnessess. Any problem tends to come in the form of how those who saw or lived these events interpreted them...and how their religious beliefs affected their ideas of what happened.

        I realize we're living in the age of Youtube, but that doesn't mean that if you don't have video of an event, it didn't happen.  

      •  Nice explanation... (0+ / 0-)

        I had heard that Jesus was more credibly documented than Alexander the Great, but did not know the details.

        As far as no contemporaries writing a word down of what Jesus said, is that assuming that men like Luke were not really disciples of Jesus?

      •  So then... (0+ / 0-)

        This makes the Christian church and bible kind of a fossil record of Jesus' existence?  We're just seeing the spot where such a thing must have been, on account of the shape it left in the matrix that surrounded it?  Huh, bet most fundies would really hate that analogy...

        "Nothing's wrong, son, look at the news!" -- Firesign Theater

        by SmartAleq on Sun Sep 06, 2009 at 02:23:46 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Actually 1 million bodies evidence of Alexander (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Fixed Point Theorem

        Interesting comparison as likely Jesus and Mohammed and old Yahweh all have much bigger body counts.

        Of course, no one is citing Alexander the Great as reason to invade Iraq, enslave women, lynch black people, murder doctors, etc.

      •  So there must have been Jesus just because... (0+ / 0-)

        Lacking a Jesus, there was scant motive to invent a Jesus."

        His inventors obviously disagreed with your logic. They thought there was money and power in it so they went with it.

        •  Marvellous (0+ / 0-)

          You're using your assumption of the truth of your position as evidence for the truth of your position.

          You just failed basic logic.  Congratulations!

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