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View Poll Results: Did Jesus Really Exist?
Yes he was a real person. 5 41.67%
No he is a work of fiction. 3 25.00%
I'm really not sure. 4 33.33%
Voters: 12. You may not vote on this poll

 
 
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Old 07-28-2011, 10:11 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Did Jesus really exist?

Recently I met a cool guy who likes a lively debate an as such the topic of religion came up. I am agnostic, was raised in a secular family and I have come to believe that Jesus was not an actual historical person and that the Bible in general is a work of fiction.He was raised in a fundamentalist christian family and firmly believes that Jesus was real and while he maintains that the bible should not be taken literally he credits this as his main source for his believe in the historical Jesus. My counter argument to this is that I have never seen any other historical source for the existence of Jesus (though he claims he is able to provide some)and that I only have other people's word to go on that the bible in fact describes a real person. I showed him the first part of Zeitgeist to help strengthen my argument. He countered with 'do you believe that Socrates existed?', to which I replied yes, 'based on what?', to which I replied 'based on Plato's account of him'. He replied 'so you only have a secondary account of the real man?', to which I replied touche.

So now I wonder did Jesus really exist and what evidence can you cite for either argument? A heavy topic I know, but it's really bugging me now.
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Old 07-30-2011, 07:06 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Mogwaithief, all any of us have to go on regarding this is several times removed. Listen to "Jesus Christ Superstar." There are accounts of Jesus that satisfy non-believers as to his existence. I won't quote or link you any. YOU can find them. Even with the parables, to me, Jesus showed very little godhood. The idea of miracles makes me throw up a little. Can you content your own mind with the thoughts you are thinking without letting them crucify you? Touche.
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Old 07-30-2011, 08:08 AM   #3 (permalink)
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I think the jury is still out as to the existence of Jesus the man, this from a historical or an archaeological perspective.

So, as with most things "Jesus," it's a matter of belief.

I'm willing to believe Jesus existed as a man. I tend to view him as a philosopher who didn't write anything down, and so we're limited to the "dialogues."

I respect what Jesus ostensibly taught. It was a part of a long tradition that predates him. What's unfortunate is the turbulence, fragmentation, disparities, corruptions, contradictions, etc., that arose out of the growth of Christianity.
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Old 07-30-2011, 09:29 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Personally, I think it is as realistic to make this argument as it is to dipsute if Augustus or Julius Ceaser really existed.

Whether or not you Jesus was in any sense divine, I think can and should be debated. My own view is that Jesus was probably not an incarnation of God in a literal sense, but probably was a real or true prophet. But that is a religious view more than a historical one.

But there are quite a few accounts of him from people who were contemporary to him or nearly so (ie - during a time when people alive would have remembered him or their immediate family would have).

In relation to the OP, the historical writings of Josephus refer to Jesus (and his brother James) and there are numerous "gospels" which are not included in the bible. I dont mean to have a go at you, but it is quite a lazy thing to say that there are no historical sources about Jesus which are not in the bible. This is not something which requires any more than looking on Google or wikipedia to disprove.
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Old 07-30-2011, 11:40 AM   #5 (permalink)
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I chose, "No he is a work of fiction.", but I do have to say I'm not 100% certain of this opinion. It's possible that such an individual existed, but I find it to be extremely unlikely given what I've been able to read up about the historical evidence. The fact that his story so closely resembles those of mythological figures from before his supposed time combined with the fact that there are no references to the individual until many decades after his supposed ascension make me think that the evidence for Jesus is about the same as the evidence for Horus or Apollo. Perhaps there was a historical Horus upon which the legend was based, but stating today that he existed either as fact or as a reasonable possibility seems unfounded.
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Old 07-30-2011, 12:22 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Willravel View Post
I chose, "No he is a work of fiction.", but I do have to say I'm not 100% certain of this opinion. It's possible that such an individual existed, but I find it to be extremely unlikely given what I've been able to read up about the historical evidence. The fact that his story so closely resembles those of mythological figures from before his supposed time combined with the fact that there are no references to the individual until many decades after his supposed ascension make me think that the evidence for Jesus is about the same as the evidence for Horus or Apollo. Perhaps there was a historical Horus upon which the legend was based, but stating today that he existed either as fact or as a reasonable possibility seems unfounded.
so you think it is likely that no individual named Yeshua ben Josef was born round about 5/4BC and became a religious leader in rural communities around his home town for a couple of years before he was executed?

Disputing the Bible is not the same as saying that the person had no historical validity at all.

_

Was Josephus just writing fiction?

Where all of the gospels (even those written between 0-50 years after his death) just reworking of Greek mystery stories?

I think we should be clear whether we are arguing as to whether Jesus was the son or incarnation of God, or whether a person known as Jesus really walked the earth.
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hidden will not become manifest, and nothing covered will remain
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Old 07-30-2011, 12:32 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Then why do historians & all societies list dates as A.D. or B.C. ?

I feel 100% certain that Jesus lived. There are too many historical accounts that have existed and still exist to make me believe otherwise.

We're not debating his divinity, BTW.
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Old 07-30-2011, 12:49 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by hunnychile View Post
Then why do historians & all societies list dates as A.D. or B.C. ?

I feel 100% certain that Jesus lived. There are too many historical accounts that have existed and still exist to make me believe otherwise.

We're not debating his divinity, BTW.
Well, most modern historians don't use AD. They use CE, which stands for Current Era. BCE is now the standard and is BCE. They kept the same date. You're guilty of making a pretty Western-centric set of assumptions there.

And not all societies used BC/AD. The Chinese, for instance, along with Muslims did and do not. You're only speaking of Western societies that had the Julian calendar imposed upon them by the Romans. It wasn't until the 750's that they all adopted a common year based upon the birth of Christ. Prior to that, it was a nightmare to calculate years since each little nation-state would have their own start point.

He probably lived.
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Old 07-30-2011, 01:06 PM   #9 (permalink)
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I, too, feel certain he existed. If his philosophy, if delivered accurately, was his, it is that which changed the world. 1,978(?) years is too far behind us to know for certain-sure, & you can trace the stories through the time-line if you read through any condensed <Mythologies of the World>-type story book. It's the feelings the name engenders that cause controversy, isn't it?
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Old 07-30-2011, 01:13 PM   #10 (permalink)
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For those who haven't stumbled across it yet, there is an entire Wikipedia article on the idea of a historical Jesus, as opposed to Jesus as myth:

Historical Jesus - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

This stands outside of another starting point that looks at the historicity of Jesus, including both the idea of history and mythology:

Historicity of Jesus - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The first link is more closely related to the topic of the thread.
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Old 07-30-2011, 01:33 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Strange Famous View Post
so you think it is likely that no individual named Yeshua ben Josef was born round about 5/4BC and became a religious leader in rural communities around his home town for a couple of years before he was executed?
It's my contention that the character/individual we now know as Jesus Christ likely never existed at all. I base that purely on both a lack of historical evidence and the fact that the character in the Bible and spoken of by theologians has many, many glaring similarities with mythological figures that predate Christianity and the supposed time Jesus was alive.
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Disputing the Bible is not the same as saying that the person had no historical validity at all.
I am doing both.
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Originally Posted by Strange Famous View Post
Was Josephus just writing fiction?
The problem is that Josephus likely didn't write the Testimonium Flavianum. It appears to have been an addition some three centuries later by an apologist. And the James reference is clearly a reference to a different James.
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Originally Posted by Strange Famous View Post
Where all of the gospels (even those written between 0-50 years after his death) just reworking of Greek mystery stories?
It's more like 40-80 years after his supposed death. There are no eyewitness accounts of Jesus in the Bible. Paul wrote a proto-gospel that was radically different than the story of Jesus we're familiar with very early on (possibly before the supposed lifetime of Jesus), then Mark wrote a gospel based on that in the 70s AD. Matthew and Luke each copied Mark's gospel and had their own takes on it in 80 and around 90 AD, respectively. John came late to the party and probably copied Luke, probably in the late 90s AD. The entire thing falls on Paul, and Paul speaks of Jesus as a sort of abstraction.

The thing you have to realize about most religions and myths is that they evolve over time, especially in their infancy. There was a massive change between Paul and Mark, I'd say they're entirely different religions the way that Islam is different from Christianity.
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Originally Posted by Strange Famous View Post
I think we should be clear whether we are arguing as to whether Jesus was the son or incarnation of God, or whether a person known as Jesus really walked the earth.
I tried to be clear. I am highly skeptical of the existence of Jesus Christ, be he natural or supernatural.

---------- Post added at 02:33 PM ---------- Previous post was at 02:31 PM ----------

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Well, most modern historians don't use AD. They use CE, which stands for Current Era. BCE is now the standard and is BCE. They kept the same date. You're guilty of making a pretty Western-centric set of assumptions there.
I really need to stop using AD and BC. It's a habit left over from school.
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Old 07-30-2011, 01:36 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Quote:
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I really need to stop using AD and BC. It's a habit left over from school.
I was pretty excited when I first stumbled across BCE and CE in scholarly references. I was like, "Finally! A reference to dates that reflects my own beliefs!"
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—From "Burnt Norton," Four Quartets (1936), T. S. Eliot
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Old 07-30-2011, 01:40 PM   #13 (permalink)
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So how many contemporary sources can you quote for the existence of Emporer Galba?
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Old 07-30-2011, 01:47 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Plutarch was a contemporary of Galba and wrote about his life.

Plutarch - Life of Galba

Modern scholars aren't concerned about whether Galba existed; they're unsatisfied with the accounts: there is more about Galba the man rather than Galba the leader.

Quote:
The evidence for the principate of Galba is unsatisfactory. The sources either concentrate on the personality of the man, thereby failing to offer a balanced account of his policies and a firm chronological base for his actions; or, they focus on the final two weeks of his life at the expense of the earlier part of his reign.[...]
Roman Emperors - DIR Galba
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Knowing that death is certain and that the time of death is uncertain, what's the most important thing?
—Bhikkhuni Pema Chödrön

Humankind cannot bear very much reality.
—From "Burnt Norton," Four Quartets (1936), T. S. Eliot
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Old 07-30-2011, 01:50 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Less contemporay sources than one could quote for the existence of Jesus I guess?
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Old 07-30-2011, 01:52 PM   #16 (permalink)
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Well, if you prefer unfair comparisions, then sure: there are fewer contemporary sources about one of the lesser known Roman emperors than there are about Jesus of fucking Nazareth.
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Old 07-30-2011, 01:54 PM   #17 (permalink)
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because they both were real people?
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Old 07-30-2011, 02:07 PM   #18 (permalink)
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No, because one was a footnote and the other was a demigod.
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Old 07-30-2011, 02:19 PM   #19 (permalink)
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You will find more contemporary sources on Jesus of Nazareth than you will on Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama.

I know people who have seen the latter in person. I've seen him on TV.
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Knowing that death is certain and that the time of death is uncertain, what's the most important thing?
—Bhikkhuni Pema Chödrön

Humankind cannot bear very much reality.
—From "Burnt Norton," Four Quartets (1936), T. S. Eliot
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Old 07-30-2011, 10:55 PM   #20 (permalink)
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There was quite possibly a prophet who had the name Jesus. BUT. According to Deuteronomy, he should have been stoned to death. God did warn of the coming of false prophets like him and instructed stoning them to death. So, that means your good christian is just a bad jew who didnt follow the rules and instructions of the old testament.

---------- Post added at 10:55 PM ---------- Previous post was at 10:47 PM ----------

More probable?
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Old 07-31-2011, 06:54 AM   #21 (permalink)
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I was pretty excited when I first stumbled across BCE and CE in scholarly references. I was like, "Finally! A reference to dates that reflects my own beliefs!"


An obvious flaw in my thinking: I believe Jesus existed in large parts because we wouldn't be talking about him, otherwise. Ruh-roh! I dunno...
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Old 07-31-2011, 07:06 AM   #22 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by chinese crested View Post
There was quite possibly a prophet who had the name Jesus. BUT. According to Deuteronomy, he should have been stoned to death. God did warn of the coming of false prophets like him and instructed stoning them to death. So, that means your good christian is just a bad jew who didnt follow the rules and instructions of the old testament.
He should have produced his long-form virgin birth certificate.
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Humankind cannot bear very much reality.
—From "Burnt Norton," Four Quartets (1936), T. S. Eliot
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Old 07-31-2011, 09:10 AM   #23 (permalink)
 
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it's likely that someone named jesus of nazareth existed. there's no way to know the relation between his material and metaphorical lives. the sources are a hall of mirrors. but somewhere in there, it seems reasonable to assume that there was a someone who triggered the reflections. just as there is a source for ronald mcdonald, really.
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Old 07-31-2011, 09:53 AM   #24 (permalink)
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Except that Ronald McDonald probably won't be remembered two millennia hence?
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Old 07-31-2011, 12:26 PM   #25 (permalink)
 
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i like to imagine ronald mcdonald being excavated by archeologists a very long time from now and that they construct a theory about him that makes macdo into a temple, burgers into sacraments, high school kids in uniforms into a priesthood and ronald into a god.
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Old 07-31-2011, 05:12 PM   #26 (permalink)
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He should have produced his long-form virgin birth certificate.

Most people don't believe Jesus made it to Arizona. Though the Mormons believe he did show up in "America" and spent some time with several native tribes shortly after the "resurrection."
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