In academia, as with science, corroborating proof matters. I know that here at Daily Kos, extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof. Scholars are feeling the pressure on this point regarding the historical Jesus. More and more antiquities scholars are facing the extremely uncomfortable conclusion that basic academic standards necessitate acknowledgement that the story of Jesus was likely “mythologized history.”
There is no new evidence to cite here, just a link to a Raw Story article on the topic of scholars feeling academic pressure, as other academics point out their biases and traditions having influenced their work. In other words, academics' reputations being on the line is now trumping societal pressures to perpetuate the myth.
UNC's Bart Ehrman sums up the issue:
“What sorts of things do pagan authors from the time of Jesus have to say about him? Nothing. As odd as it may seem, there is no mention of Jesus at all by any of his pagan contemporaries. There are no birth records, no trial transcripts, no death certificates; there are no expressions of interest, no heated slanders, no passing references – nothing. In fact, if we broaden our field of concern to the years after his death – even if we include the entire first century of the Common Era – there is not so much as a solitary reference to Jesus in any non-Christian, non-Jewish source of any kind. I should stress that we do have a large number of documents from the time – the writings of poets, philosophers, historians, scientists, and government officials, for example, not to mention the large collection of surviving inscriptions on stone and private letters and legal documents on papyrus. In none of this vast array of surviving writings is Jesus’ name ever so much as mentioned.” (pp. 56-57)Raw Story's five points below. Click link to Raw Story article to read their supporting evidence and links.
My point here is that scholars are feeling the pressure and my goal is to find the truth. If others want to worship a man who never existed, that is their prerogative. I do admit that what they've done with this likely mythical account, centuries of bullying tyranny and fascism, pushed me to look into this topic.
I hope Jesus existed because he sounded like a great guy who advocated for poor people.... and nobody discredits Jesus' uber-conservative followers more than Jesus.
1. No first century secular evidence whatsoever exists to support the actuality of Yeshua ben Yosef.
2. The earliest New Testament writers seem ignorant of the details of Jesus’ life, which become more crystalized in later texts.
3. Even the New Testament stories don’t claim to be first-hand accounts.
4. The gospels, our only accounts of a historical Jesus, contradict each other.
5. Modern scholars who claim to have uncovered the real historical Jesus depict wildly different persons.http://www.rawstory.com/...
Update: I am trying to find if Ehrman was taken out of context by Raw Story to infer he doesn't believe Jesus existed.
From reading his blog, it seems Ehrman is unsure on this point, for example....
prestonp August 31, 2014http://ehrmanblog.org/...
Did jesus say anything?
Bart Ehrman August 31, 2014
Well, if he was a human being, I think there’s a good chance he said a lot of things!
However reading other parts of his blog, it does sound like he believes Jesus existed based on how he discusses oral traditions preceding the earliest work of Mark, which is a future work for him.
I still haven't found the context of the quote cited by Raw Story but his quote cited by Raw Story has gone viral, with facebook graphics etc.
My takeaway from reading Ehrman's blog is that he is also consumed with this issue of historicity of Jesus, especially with other scholars like Richard Carrier publishing his work on Jesus not existing.
Ehrman is feeling pressure on this topic like all the scholars, that we are dealing with "“mythologized history”....
Maybe Ehrman's new book on oral traditions will provide more proof.