Talk:Historicity of Jesus/Archive 4

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Academic historians and religious texts

This whole section is dubious, and I've marked it as such. There are many acaedemic historians who believe in the historical signficance of Jesus but don't look towards naturalistic reasons for miraculous events like his life and death and resurrection. - Ta bu shi da yu 12:32, 14 Dec 2004 (UTC)

That sentence seems very POV cast, and quite subversively so. Are you sure you do not mean There are many academic historians who believe in the historical signficance of Jesus but do look towards naturalistic reasons for unusual events like certain elements of his life and resurrection, interpreted by others as miracles ? (P.s. I don't think there is an unnaturalistic explanation usually offered for Jesus' death)CheeseDreams 22:13, 16 Dec 2004 (UTC)
That's wrong. There are actually many historians who are Christians who believe in the supernatural evidence of Jesus' resurrection. One of them is Bloomberg, who is pretty well respected. I can find others if you want. - Ta bu shi da yu 23:24, 9 Jan 2005 (UTC)
I agree entirely that "There are many acaedemic historians who believe in the historical signficance of Jesus but don't look towards naturalistic reasons for miraculous events like his life and death and resurrection." Aside from this point (which refers to one clause in the paragraph) I don't see what is dubious about the section. I have read a good deal of work by academic historians and the rest of the section seems pretty valid. What else do you have a problem with? Slrubenstein 19:27, 14 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Major changes

CheeseDreams, if you want to do major changes on this page, you need to discuss them first. I'm asking you to discuss what you want to change here before you add your material and change many editors hard work. - Ta bu shi da yu 13:36, 14 Dec 2004 (UTC)

I was just going to ask the same thing. The text that has been added is highly POV, and has overly long "summary sections" in order to try to get every shot in for a marginal point of view. I don't think that the article as it stands serves any reader except for CheeseDreams herself. (Or perhaps a few convinced atheists/agnostics.) Mpolo 15:32, Dec 14, 2004 (UTC)
Take a look at the latest text. There's stuff in here that doesn't even relate to the article! The entire Pauline Epistles section deals with Paul, not on the Historicity of Jesus! Which I (obviously mistakenly) thought this article was about. - Ta bu shi da yu 05:40, 16 Dec 2004 (UTC)
Paul is fundamentally important. Paul is the earliest written witness in the bible. Paul's epistles are the earliest known Christian writings. If Paul himself did not think Jesus existed, but was in fact a gnostic allegory, then this means that 100% of the evidence points to the first Christians being gnostic, and not believing Jesus is real. If this is the case, then Jesus being real must be a later invention. Therefore, he cannot actually have been real.
Paul is fundamental to arguments of historicity. CheeseDreams 22:12, 16 Dec 2004 (UTC)
I would disagree that it's widely accepted that Paul did not believe Jesus existed! You're pushing a POV on this article, purely and simply. - Ta bu shi da yu 15:31, 17 Dec 2004 (UTC)
I didn't state that it is widely accepted that Paul did or did not) believe Jesus existed.
But, it is generally accepted amongst academics that either
  • Paul was gnostic to some degree; or
  • Paul was a fascist bigot who despised Jews.
81.156.92.220 23:48, 17 Dec 2004 (UTC)
Oh please! Maybe there are some, but not all so don't make out like there are! - Ta bu shi da yu 23:26, 9 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Yet another revert war

Pathetic, totally pathetic. CheeseDreams 14:27, 14 Dec 2004 (UTC)

If you don't like what is written, edit it.

DELETING WORK IS FUNDAMENTALLY AGAINST THE PRINCIPLES OF WIKI.

Grow up. CheeseDreams 14:27, 14 Dec 2004 (UTC)

I've asked for a temporary injunction against this editor for the way they've been editing this article and for making personal attacks. - Ta bu shi da yu 14:53, 14 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Persons making accusations such as that below by Slrubenstein should actually read the discussion on this talk page prior to 12th December 2004. All of it.

And, just for context, they should also see Wikipedia:Requests for arbitration/Slrubenstein CheeseDreams 22:14, 16 Dec 2004 (UTC)

This is another case of CheeseDreams' hijacking an article. All the material on syncretism belongs in the syncretism article. Not here. Slrubenstein

The observations of an innocent bystander

Sometime late yesterday, I stumbled into the article titled "Historicity of Jesus", and from a novice perspective, I appreciated the article, and was impressed with the fact that viewpoints that not often openly expressed, were right there in black and white. Then I clicked on the link about the article in dispute, and found all of this debate. I've spent some time reading all this, but I haven't taken the time to study the Wikipedia rules, so I can't speak to who is and who isn't following those rules. Nevertheless, I have a few thoughts that I'd like to share.

there is no way that between now and the end of the present millenium, that there will be a general concensus on these questions. It follows therefore that all that makes sense is to allow each side to make the very best case that they can make for their point of view, and to put the two up side by side, and let the readers decide which makes the best case. This leads me to a couple of other observations. If there are other articles that endeavor to establish the case for historical Jesus, then those articles should represent the one side fairly well, and leads me to ask: Why shouln't this article be turned over to CheeseDreams to present the other point of view? Okay, so he/she wasn't the original author. If the orginal author was a proponent of Jesus as a historical Jesus, then that article should be merged with all other articles that essentially argue that Jesus was a real person. On the other hand, if the orginal author is not an advocate of historical Jesus, then the original author and CheeseDreams should simply work together to integrate their insights and produce a single article arguing that position. Manifestly, the onus is on the orginal author to disambiguate the situation, and identify his/her self as either an advocate or opponent of historical Jesus. Once that is done, then the appropriate way to resolve this mess should be apparent. Verily, I say unto you, one article that sums up the arguments in favor of historical Jesus, and one article that sums up the arguments opposed to historical Jesus. If you accept the wisdom of this, then this pointless argument resolves itself quickly.

Now, a couple of gripes with Slrubenstein. Why do you insist that "All the material on syncretism belongs in the syncretism article", "The agument for syncretism is not an argument that Jesus never lived, it is an argument that the NT account of Jesus, his nature, life, teaching, etc, is heavily distorted." These positions are ludricous, and give overwhelming evidence that you are biased and are pushing an agenda that is agreement with personal prejudices. Let me explain to you why. The argument for synretism or whatever it is called, most definitely does argue that Jesus never lived, because it overtly weakens the argument that the scripture should be regarded as historically significant evidence for the existence of Jesus as an actual Human Being. It is LOGICALLY APPARENT that the argument for syncretism does this, and it is MANIFEST that this is the reason that CheeseDreams makes the point. Yet, you make the bold and logically absurd claim that this is not so, which is utterly bizarre. You say that the discussion of syncretism as it applies to the immediate point of debate, the historicity of Jesus, does not belong in an article of the historicity of Jesus. That is so assanine that I don't even know how to respond to it. If you feel that it does not have any bearing on the question of whether or not Jesus was historical, and you can present an open and shut case to that effect, then in that case you have a leg to stand on. But if you can't do that, then CheeseDream is fully correct in asserting that it is an essential and primary component of any usefully complete discussion of the historicity of Jesus. Unless one of you who have ganged up on CheeseDream can demonsrate conclusively that syncretism is not relevent to the question at hand, or can otherwise explain your rationale for excluding, a most essential element of the debate, from the relevant article, then you you should acknowledge your bias, along with your fundamental lack of honesty.

Now, if nothing else that I have said has meant anything to you, please hear this: YOU CANNOT HAVE A SINGLE ARTICLE THAT FAIRLY PRESENTS BOTH SIDES OF THE DEBATE ON HISTORICITY OF JESUS! What person in their correct mind and with a smidgen of sense would ever have thought for even a nanosecond that such a thing would be possible?!? In what world of fantasy and imagination does an educated person believe that this is a reasonble objective in the real world that we inhabit? Huh? Only someone not carrying a full deck would ever have thought that would work.

-Kaise Soze

"Kaise Soze", we don't do articles in that way. We don't "hand over" articles to any editor. We do consensus writing from a neutral point of view. On an article about the historicity of Jesus I think that it would be a bad idea to do what you've suggested (the point/counterpoint idea) because facts can be shown. We also don't make articles that present the for case and the against case, because this is not the way we achieve articles that are NPOV. We put them into the one article and try to characterise what others have said or just report what their opinions are. Or we write about known facts — and if those facts are disputed we say so, and not just say so, we says so by whom and why they say this.
We can and will have an article that fairly represents both sides of the debate on the historicity of Jesus. We won't be forking, because that's not the way we do things on Wikipedia. And it can be done. - Ta bu shi da yu 07:06, 15 Dec 2004 (UTC)
The 'right way' articles are edited is to start with a blank page, and write an article, then the article is edited by others, with additions and small changes. In the case of a controversial subject, this practice becomes even more important, in order to add more to the article rather than continually substitute: "Green is a color" with "Green is a state of mind" -- when articles are replaced in large sections, with entirely different text, they are typically reverted back to the original consensus version... then that version is edited, rather than substitute a large section of text which has not been discussed -- this allows articles to grow in a natural way from a beginning that was consensual. Using the above example, one might write on the Talk page: "I disagree with the statement 'Green is a color' and would like to change it to 'Green is a state of mind'"... to which another editor might say: "Benjamin Hickman's 1964 text states that Green is a color, I oppose removing that fact. Perhaps we could state 'Though green is a color, it has also been claimed that Green is a state of mind' would that fit with the new facts you are adding?" etc, in a polite negotiation of colleagues. If someone wants to fundamentally change an article and completely rewrite it, it is usually proper for them to discuss their intended changes on the Talk page. The issue with this article is that CheeseDreams consistently comes in in the middle, and completely rewrites articles without reaching consensus. CheeseDreams has done this with several articles related to Christianity, and without source information and an ability to fact-check her assertions, we have a fundamental problem. Wikipedia, by general consensus, is intended to state facts... and even opinions can be stated as fact: "User:Pedant believes that User:CheeseDreams intentionally abuses the Wikipedia processes to stir up trouble." is a verifiable fact, however "User:CheeseDreams is a troublemaker and an atheist proselyte bent on destroying Wikipedia's value as a reference source" may or may not be a fact, and the difficulty with the second statement is that there are no references, and no attribution of what source the assertion came from. While the second statement may be true, it would not be of any value to add it to wikipedia, because it is an unsourced assertion not attributed to the asserter. Removing the first statement and substituting the second statement would be against wikipedia policy, and would be decreasing the reference value of the material in which it was placed. I hope this helps your understanding of the issue here. This comment will most likely be rebutted by CheeseDreams, and a long chain of discussion will follow on whether this comment is factual and whether I am personally attacking CheeseDreams etc... this is not typical customary wikipedia behavior, however. Pedant 17:41, 2004 Dec 18 (UTC)
If there is no value to adding the second statement, why did you do so? CheeseDreams 05:52, 22 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Who is Keyser Soze?

Let's see, a fan of Kevin Spacey, multiple references to CheeseDreams - I give up, it's a total mystery. I don't think we shall ever find out, either. --Viriditas | Talk 06:53, 15 Dec 2004 (UTC)

I don't know why you think Kaise Soze is me, I don't get up at 5 o'clock in the morning to have a coherent smooth discussion on wikipedia. And I haven't the faintest idea why you think I like Kevin Spacey, I don't even know who he is. Read Historiography, and apply the principles to the above comments and compare them to mine. Most amusing that you are paranoid now though - are you just going to call anyone who supports me a sock puppet? CheeseDreams 01:56, 16 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Ok, I apologize. I just had a look at the history of your User page and it appears to be a strange coincidence that your User page mentions Kevin Spacey. On December 13, a user by the name of Wjw edited your user page and added the entry, Anti-Kevin Spacey Editors in the Public Service Announcement section. Are you aware of the content on your User page? In the movie, The Usual Suspects, "Kaise Soze" is revealed to be the character as played by Kevin Spacey. --Viriditas | Talk 03:34, 16 Dec 2004 (UTC)
I left the comment on my user page, as I found the juxtaposition amusing. CheeseDreams 22:18, 16 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Syncretism

I think this needs to be added, but in summary format and in a much modified manner than CheeseDreams has been doing it. I'm putting this on the talk page first because I'd like to know how we should do this. Firstly, we need to summarise Jesus, pre-4th century Christianity, and syncretism and then add it to the existing structure. I don't think it should go on the top. It should be integrated into the article. - Ta bu shi da yu 12:19, 15 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Sounds like the seeds of a way forward. Filiocht 13:20, Dec 15, 2004 (UTC)
OK, firstly, I'd start like this:
Some scholars, beginning in the nineteenth century with Alexander Hislop in The Two Babylons, think that either Jesus is the missing syncretism, or that at least some of the stories about Jesus arose as a result of the influence.
This clearly explains why we are adding information about syncretism to the article about the historicity of Jesus. Note that I don't believe this, but as we use NPOV as our gauge I'm willing to add it. Let people read it and let it fail or suceed on its own merits.
Some scholars note the weasel word, I'm not prepared to add this until the main article gets fixed. Sound fair? say the Pythagoreans, a cult which believed that a deep and holy meaning existed within geometry above all things, deeply influenced their surrounding religions, among them being Christianity. They point to the significance that both the Pythagoreans and scripture holds to the number 12, which was significant to Pythagoreans because 12 is the maximum number of spheres of a fixed size which can be placed simultaneously in contact with a sphere of equal size and this is the number of full-moon/new-moon cycles which appear in one year. The number 72 also bears some significance to both faiths: within Christianity the Gospel of Luke it mentions a second group of apostles who number 72 and it is the number of races that descend from Noah. For the Pythagoreans, the number 72 is significant because of various stories about the gods; the number appears in a story about the Egyptian god Thoth winning 1/72nd of moonlight so that Ra's wife can have children; in another the Egyptian god Set is said to have conspired with 72 others to have trapped Osiris. The Pythagoreans encoded these thing in a pentagram (which has edges that are 72 degrees).
There's more to go, but I'm getting tired so I'll let someone else have a go at adding it in summary form. As an aside, I think all this stuff is just coincidence, but I'll not let that effect the way I'll add it to the story. - Ta bu shi da yu 13:48, 15 Dec 2004 (UTC)
I have compressed it to:

The pre-Christian egyptian god Horus, itself a syncretism of many local deities, is thought to have many similarities with Jesus. Some of these similarities supposedly only reveal themselves when transliterating between Demotic and Hebrew. For example, Horus' resurrection of the god Osiris ("El-'Aser") has been linked with the resurrection of Lazarus.

[We should put the Isis/Horus/Mary/Jesus picture here.]

Depictions, such as the image of Mary and the baby Jesus, are also shared with the Horus/Isis cult. In addition, some allege that Set is the prototype for Satan, the story of the battle in the wilderness with temptation being shared between the stories. Connections have also been drawn between Jesus and Pythagoras, based on the significance of various occurrences in the Gospels with respect to Pythagorean numerology. Both the Pythagorean philosophy and the Horus myths are thought to be linked to astrology.

During the first and second centuries BC, Hellenic philosophy merged with various minor deities to produce Mystery Religions, in which a Life-death-rebirth deity was used as allegory to encode wisdom. Such religions quickly replaced many local religions as the dominant form throughout the Mediterranian, with the resulting variations of the central god-man figure becoming known as Osiris-Dionysus. Some scholars think that Jesus was one of the forms of Osiris-Dionysus.

The religions share with christianity many things, such as a form of baptism, religious meals of bread and wine (sharing the same meaning as Christianity, according to Tertullian), the birthday of the central figure, and the last judgement, although different religions differed as to which features were held in common with Christianity. Also, different branches of early Christianity differed as to how similar they were to the mystery religions. There is some debate as to which religion developed these features first.

One well known mystery religion focused on the god Mithras (later linked with the sun); it became the dominant form in the Roman army, spreading throughout the empire. Constantine I of the Roman Empire, who was the highest priest of this cult, is thought by some scholars to have tried to smooth out the differences between it and Christianity. For example, he supposedly arranged to move the sabbath to Sunday (the natural focus of worship for a sun god), and moved the date of Jesus' birth to december 25th (the same day as that of Mithras and Saturnalia, since it was the date of the winter solstice when the Julian calendar was introduced).

Christianity's dominance was finally enforced by a decreee in 394 (by Theodosius, completely banning non-Christian religion. After the ban, mithraeum (the Mithras temples) were converted into churches, and according to certain scholars specifically Mithraic beliefs transferred to the archangel Michael, since the previous adherents of Mithraism still continued to worship in the same location, just claiming to be Christian.

If it's still too long, we might ditch the last paragraph. Ben Standeven 23:45, 15 Dec 2004 (UTC)
There's no point. CheeseDreams just reverted again and so wiped out all our work. - Ta bu shi da yu 05:06, 16 Dec 2004 (UTC)
I take that back. I think we'll just proceed and add our changes anyway. If CheeseDreams would like to assist with the process, then good for her. Otherwise we'll add it anyway and if she has decent material then we'll try to keep it. She's going to have to learn that when we're discussing things on this page she needs to participate. She doesnt' control the page. - Ta bu shi da yu 05:18, 16 Dec 2004 (UTC)
I was reverting Slrubenstein's total unexplained (unmarked) revert of Ben Standeven. Slrubenstein does not control the page. CheeseDreams 22:40, 16 Dec 2004 (UTC)

P.s. Pythagoreans, the number 72 is significant because of various stories about the gods is totally wrong. The Pythagoreans were sort-of atheist. They are the proto-gnostics as it were. 72 is significant to Pythagoreans because of a feature of the orbit of the earth to the sun, in which the position of the stars at night slowly moves over a large period of time. I think, if I remember rightly, the process in particular is called the precession of the equinoxes. Specifically, it takes 72 years for such precession to occur (it is specifically an astronomical fact)

To the babylonians, this astronomical phenomona was also very significant, for 72 divides into 360 exactly 5 times, 360 being the number of days in their year. "1/72nd of the moon's light" is an explicit reference to this observation (there are 360 days in the babylonian year, in twelve 30 day months, plus a further 5 extra days), the total number of days in a 360 day year obtained by 1/72nd of the moons light is 5, i.e. the extra days on the end of the year. The myth provides an answer to the extra days created by the organisation of the calender into even months, as it were. P.s. the 5 days were a festival worshiping the son born due to this winning of 1/72 of the sun's light.

Note that both 72 and 12 have astronomical significance with regard to the sun and orbits. Horus was a sun god. Some ideas of syncretism (as discussed in the article) posit that Jesus was concieved of as another sun god (in the mould of Osiris-Dionysus, and principally copied from Horus).


Theodosius and the ban. The ban is called the Theodosian decree. As a direct result of the ban, the great Eleusian mysteries were shut down (a bit like shutting down the vatican), the temple at Eleusias was destroyed (i.e. like bulldozing the vatican city), and the priestesses murdered (i.e. like murdering all the cardinals, and the pope). The significance of such action and its brutality absolutely cannot be understated. It should be mentioned. As should the Albigensian crusade (read the article to see why). The brutality, and in the case of the Albigensians, pure evil, of the counteraction to gnosticism, demonstrating why gnosticism is not orthodoxy, whether or not it was believable or true.


You also seem to totally cut out the nativity scene from the section, when the nativity scene is one of the most obvious syncretisms of the lot. (next time you see a nativity play, think of the little baby horus)CheeseDreams 22:40, 16 Dec 2004 (UTC)

How can a gnostic be an atheist? Pedant 18:14, 2004 Dec 18 (UTC)

No, they are not atheists. But they are docetic. In particular, many, if not most, are docetic in an esoteric way - i.e. that Christ has no reality at all, but instead represents the concept of understanding, and that Christ's arrival w.r.t. a person means they have recieved enlightenment. The closest mainstream thing today would be Buddhists, although a bit more esoteric, and a bit less individual, and having a story representing the path to enlightenment, rather than just a few koans to nudge people on the way. Kind of an esoteric crash-course version of Buddhism. In particular, gnostics had very little concern for Jesus' actions and teachings, compared to those of Christ, which in the gnostic style has very little care over similarity (due to it being the teaching, not the story encoding it, which is important to them), producing a mass of gnostic Christ-related literature, such as the pistis-Sophia, Gospel-of-Phillip, and the Gospel-of-Truth, which tell quite different tales of Christ to the gospels. The gnostics infact collecting a library of massively mutually conflicting texts, because it was the teaching, not the story, which was the essence to them. CheeseDreams 05:52, 22 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Ta Bu Shi Da Yu; Entire Article

Just a quick comment thanking the above-mentioned for his unbiased and obviously belabored attempt to mediate this disaster. The article in current form looks ok, although I must agree with Ta bu shi da yu that many of the critical claims in the article (those leveling criticism at Jesus' existence) are decidedly POV and are unsubstantiated.

I have a question - does the fact that 2,000 years of human history have been sharply, distinctly, and without question marked and shaped by the concept of this person, Jesus (even our calendar is purpotedly based on his arrival) count as evidence that he lived? It does to me. Perhaps this should be mentioned. By and large, supposed "experts" may claim Jesus didn't exist, but really Wil Durant's point is the same as is made by the vast majority of people who have read the Gospel (especially nominal Christians, but even non-Christians like Ghandi pointed to the wisdom of the writings as laudable) that the story and principles presented in the Gospels are by far much too compelling and honest, even after first read, to be discarded out of hand as a forgery, mythology, con-job or fairytale. People died, even then in the first century, because of their belief in that person. Do con artists sacrifice themselves based on the "ideals" of their lies? Never. It's easy to tear down. Who is willing to build up? More importantly, who is willing to take up the responsibility of accepting that Jesus was a real person? I submit that the accounts presented in the gospels are honest and accurate. Why is this opinion not presented except in a very minimal way in this supposedly NPOV article?

Here's half the problem. Jesus's influence on history is evidence he existed? Would you apply that to Allah too? Amaterasu? Dr Zen 23:37, 15 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Cause and effect? By Allah I assume you mean Mohammed. Well, there's no denying Mohammed existed. A person like Buddha likely existed too. The effect proves the cause.

No, actually, I specifically meant Allah! It's a ridiculous argument. X has had an influence on history, so X must have existed. Allah has certainly had an effect on history. His followers conquered much of the Mediterranean world. So by your own argument, Allah exists, and the evidence is his influence on the world.Dr Zen 03:02, 7 Jan 2005 (UTC)
I'm not claiming Jesus did or did not exist as a person. But surely Paul Bunyan has ahd an effect on the culture, more profoundly influencing American culture than Johnny Appleseed... yet the former is mythological and the latter legendary. Johnny Appleseed really existed, amd Paul Bunyan did not, except as allegory for resource extraction industries. Thor has a day named after him is that evidence that he exists? The god Mercury has a planet named after him and many adjectival references (mercurial mood, etc) so obviously Mercury existed. "Nero fiddled while Rome burned" yet surely Nero predated fiddles... if you get my gist? Pedant 18:14, 2004 Dec 18 (UTC)
"Do con artists sacrifice themselves based on the "ideals" of their lies? Never." Jim Jones, David Koresh, Marshall Applewhite
"even our calendar is purpotedly based on his arrival" January -- Janus, February -- Februus, etc
Why would evidence supporting the existence of Jesus be a good thing. Isn't the test of avoiding hell supposed to be one of faith? Isn't evidence the enemy of faith, and the ally of science? It is God's work to cast doubt on Jesus, for then we believe through our faith rather than our reason -- which is nothing but a tool of Satan.

Ummm... Ta bu shi da yu didn't write the above... this was unsigned... 203.35.154.254 01:56, 16 Dec 2004 (UTC)

I most definitely agree with most of the anons points... though it doesn't really help directly with our "historicity of Jesus" article! Those people lived by faith, not by the proof of Jesus' identity. "Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed." (John 20:29) - Ta bu shi da yu 23:42, 15 Dec 2004 (UTC)

To the anon who puts Koresh et al at par with first century Christians killed by the state for their faith: this is ludicrous. Koresh tried to foment an armed uprising against the state. His situation can in no way be likened to that of the first century Christians, who were peaceful and died rather than stop talking to people about their faith in Jesus Christ. Jones and his followers, I believe, killed themselves. Read accounts of survivor interviews from the Wacco compound - they weren't there based on firmly held convictions. It wasn't principle that led any of these individuals to perish, but rather the consequences of their destructive and disruptive activities. None of them can be said to have sacrificed themselves - they sought to live. In the final analysis, (or final moments) they may have killed themselves out of desperation, but their courses of action were clearly self-serving. Koresh cohabited with multiple female disciples and encouraged his followers to hole themselves up and try to hold out against the government. There is no indication anywhere in the scriptures or from early historical records about early Christians that anything like this went on; on the contrary, early Christians sought out other individuals and mixed in with their communities in order to preach about the Christ, and they maintained very high moral standards. As well, this wasn't some small group thoroughly dominated by the personality of one man - this was an organization that spread to a membership of perhaps hundreds of thousands in the space of a very few decades. If the people who began this work had based their teachings on something that could be easily disproved, then their movement never would have gone anywhere. But it did, and the evidence of that can be clearly seen even today around the earth.

And as to "calendar" I obviously was referring to the yearly date system, (A.D. anno domini) not the months which as we all know, like the days of the year, are based on the names of ancient pagan gods... (And Roman rulers.) Critics accuse the faithful of zealotry and then go on to be just as dogmatic in their assertions to the contrary of faith, that such accusations come to be seen as clearly hypocritical.


R.e. the "anon" (who is probably someone who produced that claim before) points. Look at the influence Harry Potter had. That does not prove he exists as a real historical or current person, one bit. But it is undeniable that Harry Potter had a significant effect. Since when did bookshops have rush panicking crowds of children outside them, on the day of release of a novel, before him? Especially in the UK. Since when did bookshops open at midnight to sell a childrens' novel? CheeseDreams 22:44, 16 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Cheesedreams, you've done your best to highjack what was previously not that bad of an article on the debates about Jesus Christ's historicity and input all kinds of off-base and off-topic syncretism and gnosticism foolishness, at the same time wrongly deleting what was fairly balanced material. Equating Harry Potter with JC is as well, ludicrous. Do you believe future generations will be greatly impacted by a few foolish kids' interest in those books? Will world governments, naming systems in multiple languages, date systems, belief systems, great debates, world religions and revolutionary ways of living human life be based on Harry Potter? Give your prejudiced, ignorant head a shake. - Anon, who is not the user "Cheesdreams" thinks.

"Anon", "is Jesus made up from bits of other religions" is a fundamental question in the issue of historicity, as is "were the original christians gnostics" (gnostics viewed Jesus as allegory rather than real). To remove them is to present a totally biased article. I.e. "oh, there aren't any real issues, or arguments, its just that some mad academics don't believe in it".
Equating Harry Potter with Jesus was absolutely deliberate. Harry Potter has been equated to Jesus quite a lot, actually (usually by some mad priest or other). I put it to you, that if you cannot see why cutting the syncretism argument is POV, then you are the one who is ignorant. CheeseDreams 23:48, 17 Dec 2004 (UTC)
You know, the more I read, the more I feel that the opposition to CD is driven by wishing to exclude this view. How can an article on the historicity of Jesus even begin to be complete without discussion of whether the concept of Jesus might have been made up from bits and pieces of other religions of the area? This is like writing about Christmas without mentioning that midwinter had been a time of celebration in pagan cultures. I find the notion that a historical "rabbi" called Jesus may have been overlaid with a whole bundle of traditions and superstitions absolutely fascinating. It sounds rather plausible. Religions have often adapted other traditions: Allah is clearly Jehovah, the Roman gods were precisely the Greek gods with new names, Buddha adapted Hinduism. I can understand why the believers in Christ would find that kind of discussion disturbing but it has its place in this article.Dr Zen 03:02, 7 Jan 2005 (UTC)
Go ahead. I don't mind this viewpoint being placed forward. However, the viewpoint is not undisputed and in fact there is considerable evidence to the contrary of that opinion. NPOV policy does not state that we must give the viewpoint equal billing. It states we should mention it and characterise it and describe it. However, in the manner that this information was written it appears to a user who knows nothing of the topic that this is a majority viewpoint that is not disputed by anyone. There is considerable evidence that Jesus was not a myth. Also, I'd like to point out that this viewpoint that he didn't exist comes from particular authors. Which authors? We need to say who states the position that Jesus never exists.
I also want to state for the record that I'm not terribly disturbed by people saying this, as I can see they are wrong. I do have a problem with it being stated as undisputed fact, which it is not. - Ta bu shi da yu 03:42, 7 Jan 2005 (UTC)
P.s. further, I put it to you, the world governments, date and belief systems, revolutionary ways, and great debates derive from the person of Karl Marx.
However, the Karl Marx of these systems is not the real Karl Marx.
Karl Marx was a victorian gentleman who frequented dodgy pubs in Soho (london), an area that is the "gay quarter" of london, but at that time was also the Red light district. In fact "the communist manifesto" was written down in a pub in Soho, frequented by Prostitutes (of both genders). He was also a capitalist, investing in national newspapers, for example (the records of his purchase of the shares still exist). And he was buried in a large elaborate (not austere) imperial style tomb amongst other normal Victorian notables at Highgate Cemetery in the really expensive part of london. He also lived in this particularly expensive upper class area. Karl Marx isn't exactly the stereotypical communist.
Just because of the ideology of communism, it doesn't mean that the Karl Marx that communists (and capitalists) imagine existed did. The real Karl Marx was not the Karl Marx known to the masses, but another person by the same name. CheeseDreams 23:48, 17 Dec 2004 (UTC)

that's a good point. The existence or non-existence of Jesus as a person is irrelevant to the significance of the Jesus story. And the Jesus story is fairly unrelated to many different religions that have spun off from the story. And religions that have been influenced by the Jesus story and also influenced by other stories and traditionally held beliiefs and legends are not evidence for or against Jesus or anyone else's existence. If Jesus did exist, that doesn't make any of the religious beliefs based on Jesus any more or less valid. However, it is of interest to many whether he did or didn't exist... regardless of religious belief. Pedant 18:14, 2004 Dec 18 (UTC)

People who lived at the time the Gospels state Jesus lived were willing to give their lives because of their faith and belief in that person - a Gnostical "allegorical" belief would not generate such firm, some would say extreme, behavior. Your theory defies logic. TTWSYF

No. Those people died for the idea, not the person, just as Marxists in the Russian Revolution died for the idea not for Marx. It's important to distinguish the two: that's what this article could and should be about. There is no way it should take the stance Jesus existed as the Gospels say because of his influence on history and here are a few nutters who say otherwise.
And didn't Gnostics also die for their beliefs?Dr Zen 03:02, 7 Jan 2005 (UTC)
I agree with this. We should present the facts fairly and in a balanced manner. This means adding critiques of the sources given. - Ta bu shi da yu 23:57, 9 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Bennett Standeven's Comments

From the article:

  • The increased importance of the Christological argument for the existence of God in modern evangelical teachings has formed questions of the historicity of Jesus of Nazareth with an enhanced urgency. The usual historian's criteria of authenticity, documentation, and the like, tend to be removed from ordinary historical discourse, to take up newly important places in Christological theology.

This could stand expansion.

  • Taking a starting point loosely connected with Higher criticism, which was a rigorous historical analysis of Biblical texts in the 19th century, also known as the "Tübingen School" because it was connected to the Eberhard Karls university in Tübingen, Baden-Württemberg, Germany, a number of critics have proposed that there was no historical Jesus. They argue from the internal features of, and inconsistencies between, the Gospels and other canonical and non-canonical Christian and Gnostic writings to argue that Jesus was a mythical (or mythologized) figure. The paucity of non-Christian historical sources that corroborate Christian writings is adduced as support for this position.

We spend half the paragraph on Higher Criticism, which has only tangential relation to the topic. (I won't get into the "a number of critics" bit, and similar problems.)

  • Rudolf Bultmann was convinced the life of Jesus was theology in story form. He spoke of "demythologizing" Jesus' teachings by making them a modern day reality, not something that stays and belongs to an ancient primitive world. Essentially, he considered the question of the historicity of Jesus to be unimportant compared with the meaning of the teachings that arose (in whatever way) around him.

If so, why are we mentioning him here?

  • Proponents of this view generally assign much later dates to the gospels than is normally done, and assert textual corruption or interpolation in the passages supporting the existence of Jesus in Paul and Josephus. Flavius Josephus was trained as a Pharisee and the passages attributed to him do not read true to this; moreover it contains vocabulary not used by Josephus per the Complete Concordance to Flavius Josephus, ed. K. H. Rengstorf, 2002. Professor Shlomo Pines found a different version of Josephus testimony in an Arabic version of the tenth century. It does not show the same signs of interpolation as the Christian version circulating in the West. Cornelius Tacitus echoed popular opinion about Jesus and had no independent source of information. The passage in the Annals as written in 115 CE has no value as a historical evidence for Jesus.

The middle part is OK; we could give some examples for the first part; BUT the Tacitus stuff seems a bit off.

  • The Gospel of Mark is considered by historians to be the earliest of the four. These scholars date it between 55 and 65, although the most common dating of Mark is 65-80 CE,

So which is it?

  • The figures that Jesus repeatedly attacked were leaders of two Jewish sects noted for their strict enforcement of Scripture; people who had a good knowledge of the Tanakh were able to supplement it, and take advantage of the fact that there was a spiritual or mythical void in that part of the world when competing, older religions were being spread and discussed thereto from other parts.

Huh?

We could stand to switch "Scholarly Defense" and "Skepticism", since the latter seems to be a response to the former.

  • Unlike religious fundamentalists, who assume that such texts as the Gospels are entirely and literally true, and unlike some critics of Christianity, who assume that such texts are entirely false, most academic historians believe that such texts are legitimate historical sources. However, like other historical sources (for example, the works of Josephus), they were written by human beings. Some argue that a text with a clearly identified author (for example, the Gospel of Luke) was nevertheless written by someone else, or by several authors, or by an author drawing on several sources. Furthermore, historians assume that a text that is based on real events may nevertheless reflect the biased view of the author or authors, or a bias that is meant to appeal to an intended audience. They also don't generally believe in supernatural phenomena, and tend to look for naturalistic explanations of any supernatural phenomena that were recorded. Consequently, they believe such texts contain information not only about a described event, but also about the authors and audience. Historians then use information about the cultural, political, and economic context (from sources outside the text in question) as a basis for reconstructing the intended or understood meaning of the text. Although historians use established methods, there are often vigorous debates over the validity or strength of a given interpretation. Moreover, historians strive to revise their interpretations when new linguistic, literary, or archaeological evidence becomes available.

Why is this disputed? The only questionable part is the comment about Luke.

The bit about the Gospel of Luke is why it's disputed. Can this be cleared up? - 203.35.154.254 01:53, 16 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Proponents of this view generally assign much later dates to the gospels than is normally done - since when? The gospels are generally assumed to be at least after 50AD, Matthew and Luke after 60AD, and John after 90AD. The majority view of the Gospel of John is that it is at least 120AD. To state "proponents of this view.....assign much later...than is normal..." is

  • wrong
  • a weasel attempt to denigrate their position

The Gospel of Mark. see also Markan Priority. The majority of scholars date it 55AD-75AD. The only dating arguments are comparative, so it does vary quite a lot, and relies heavily on the dates attached to other writings. If Markan Priority is correct, it has the result of shifting the dates assigned to the writings (i.e. Mark vs. Luke/Matthew) apart, wheras if it is wrong, it has the result of shifting the dates together. There is not much support for either view outside of the issue of that theory, though that which their is supports neither more so than the other, when considered in total.

Josephus - this is a duplication of the Textual-evidence/sources section, and should be moved there.

Texts as legitimate sources - most historians view them as sources about the writers not about the content. This should be made clear. The whole paragraph seems to be designed to obfuscate this fact, and imply that most historians view them as valid sources for content, which is wrong.

CheeseDreams 23:00, 16 Dec 2004 (UTC)

What?

I came here expecting an article about the historicity of Jesus. Why is it about the supposed Gnostic beliefs of St. Paul? DJ Clayworth 05:26, 16 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Welcome to the brave new world of CheeseDreams edits. She's reverted back all her edits into the article and caused us considerable trouble. We're trying to fix it all up now, but it's bloody hard to do. Especially as I've reached the end of my limit of reverts. - Ta bu shi da yu 05:51, 16 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Next problem: no lead section!

Thanks to CheeseDreams unilateral edits, we no longer have a lead section. Great. Do I have to go through an edit war to get this into the article, or will CheeseDreams play ball and assist with an NPOV (yeah, that's right. NPOV) lead section. - Ta bu shi da yu 05:49, 16 Dec 2004 (UTC)

The lead section is Perspectives on historicity. That should be there, unless someone actually deleted it. It's just a collecting together of most of the original article in one section, and trimming off bits which detail issues such as textual sources (as these are expressed in those sections), or of syncretism (for the same reason). CheeseDreams 23:07, 16 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Disputed

Skepticism

Recourse is not necessary to later pseudepigraphical writings, such as the much later alleged letter from Herod Antipas purporting to be directed to the Roman Senate defending his (Herod's) actions concerning both John the Baptist and Jesus, and said to be found among the records of the Roman Senate. Whatever their internal details, the very existence of such pseudepigraphical writings and of interpolations into authentic documents, which accumulate from the 2nd century onwards, to judge from internal evidence, has genuine historical value, in that they document a perceived need to supplement the documentation on the part of Christians who apparently felt the need to support the historical existence of Jesus of Nazareth, by providing the kind of documents they felt ought to have existed. A simpler explanation could be: a street-wise forger knew how to sell his work (it still happens today).

Source? How do I know this isn't original research? - Ta bu shi da yu 12:16, 14 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Wikipedia:Assume good faith CheeseDreams 05:52, 22 Dec 2004 (UTC)
Wikipedia:Cite sources. - Ta bu shi da yu 00:49, 10 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Many other scholars, who do not doubt the historical Jesus, would agree that these Pauline interpretations of his sayings at secondhand and literary extrapolations from his actions and mythologized invented detail have been applied to an historical figure. They demonstrate that the Pauline Christians were unfamiliar with Jewish culture and that the term "Nazarene" was unfamiliar to those transcribing Aramaic oral tradition into Greek: a more appropriate translation, this school suggests, of the historical rabbi Jesus, who came to be so thoroughly mythologized, was "Jesus the Nazirite." (see also Nazareth link below) [dubious ]

Which scholars? If there are many, then it shouldn't be hard to give some examples. Also, where is the source? How do I know this isn't original research? - Ta bu shi da yu 12:20, 14 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Wikipedia:Assume good faith CheeseDreams 05:52, 22 Dec 2004 (UTC)
Wikipedia:Cite sources. - Ta bu shi da yu 00:49, 10 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Others contend that aspects of Jesus' life as related in the New Testament were entirely derived from popular mystery religions in the Roman Empire at that time period. These religions worshipped saviour figures such as Isis, Horus, Osiris, Dionysus and Mithras, and Christian Gnosticism which flourished in the 2nd and 3rd centuries openly combined Christian imagery and stories with the beliefs and practices of Mediterranean mystery religions. This is not supported by the earliest surviving Christian art from the late 3rd and 4th centuries. In the catacombs of Rome it would seem that only Orpheus was adapted. The Christian's "Good Shepherd" carries a lamb and a flute.

Source for these statements please. Which others contend this? How do I know this isn't original research? - Ta bu shi da yu 12:20, 14 Dec 2004 (UTC)

The bibliography.
P.s. this is a widely held view that has circulated for over a century. CheeseDreams 23:09, 16 Dec 2004 (UTC)
What - you want me to read every single page of all 44 books to find where you got this from? I don't think so. Please tell me where you found this information, as per cite your sources. - Ta bu shi da yu 01:47, 17 Dec 2004 (UTC)
I don't expect you to read all 44. Just read one or two. You might learn something. Freke and Gandy is a populist introduction in the style of a tabloid newspaper article, so you might find that the easiest to read (although it is actually quite scholarly, despite its style, pay attention to the footnotes). I believe the Doherty one is meant to present a similar case as well, though I am not sure as to its strength or accuracy. CheeseDreams 23:48, 17 Dec 2004 (UTC)
Again you miss the point. To track down the veracity of your information I will have to read through all 44 of your books until I find this information. Even then it may not be clear where you are getting your information from. - Ta bu shi da yu 00:50, 10 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Non-skepticism

Most scholars do not dispute that a person named Jesus, connected in some way to the events described in the Bible, once lived; they feel that evidence for Jesus' existence two thousand years ago is by historical standards fairly strong. The primary source of historical knowledge about Jesus is contained within the Christian Gospels, as many historians believe them to have originated from sources written within living memory of Jesus (but later lost, and remaining lost). Evidence for a historical Jesus is also provided by the Epistles, especially those by Paul. Other sources regarded as of less significance from the perspective of modern historians are other early Christian material, other religious traditions, and certain historians of the period. Many historians accept the New Testament as evidence for the historical existence of Jesus; but there is much less acceptance of the narrative of his life and death, and far less for any miraculous claims, among professional historians and liberal biblical scholars.

What other sources? Which historians accept the NT as evidence for the historical existence of Jesus? Which professional historians and liberal biblical scholars see less acceptance of the narrative of his life and death + miracles? - Ta bu shi da yu 12:24, 14 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Other sources (which are not regarded as less significant, in fact quite the opposite) include the Nag Hammadi cache of gnostic texts, and sources such as 3 Corinthians, Shepherd of Hermas, Gospel of the Hebrews, Gospel of Thomas, Q Document, etc. See New Testament apocrypha for a fuller list of some.
Most scholarship is based on the principle of naturalism, due to ockham's razor - if it can be explained naturally, there is no need to invoke God. Thus little acceptance of resurrection + miracles.CheeseDreams 23:25, 16 Dec 2004 (UTC)
So what you are doing is imposing your POV that all things can be explained naturally. You discount miracles and don't allow for them. This is not writing from a NPOV. - Ta bu shi da yu 00:52, 10 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Moreover, the same historians generally agree that at least some of the sources on which Gospels are based were written within living memory of Jesus's lifetime. These historians therefore accept that the accounts of the life of Jesus in the Gospels provide a reasonable basis of evidence, by the standards of ancient history, for the historical existence of Jesus and the basic account of his life and death. The Gospel of Mark is considered by historians to be the earliest of the four. These scholars date it between 55 and 65, although the most common dating of Mark is 65-80 CE,

which makes it possible that it was circulating while some of the apostles and their immediate disciples, as well as numerous other eye witnesses, were still alive; so they can conclude that it was fairly close to the early oral preaching about Jesus' life.

"Moreover, the same historians generally agree..." no mention has been made who those historians are!!! How on earth am I meant to verify this information? How do I know its not original research? - Ta bu shi da yu 12:28, 14 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Living memory = within the lifetime of someone who knew Jesus. In principle this would be plausible up until about 80AD, after which time it starts becoming a flight of fantasy - people hardly lived to 40, let alone 80+. The gospels are thought by most scholars to be based on Mark, and other sources (or possibly just the Q document in addition to Mark). Since Mark has a date generally thought to be before 80AD, and Q is thought to be very early indeed, possibly even 40AD or less, the sources are within living memory, in the opinions of most scholars.
I find it interesting that you refer to the Q document as if its proven fact. It is not. It is a hypothesis and not proven by any stretch. There is argument whether the Q document was written late, or whether it was written earlier. In fact there is some controversy over whether that document even exists! It's only a hypothesis formed because of similarities between the several of the Gospels. You speak of it like it proven that it every existed! That's misleading. - Ta bu shi da yu 01:28, 10 Jan 2005 (UTC)
BUT, it is not true to say that they then imply (or that scholars thus assume) historicity of Jesus. Because, for example, ancient political satires and novels set contemporarily with their writers does not imply truth of their content. The early sources could equally be an indicator of an early novel.
And the fact that it was possibly circulating amongst eyewitnesses does not state it is genuine. I could write a satire about Gordon Brown and circulate it amongst his friends. That does in no way indicate its accuracy or truth.
That whole paragraph is blatant POV spin. CheeseDreams 23:25, 16 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Durant's unfounded opinion here is, however, not a considerable defence for one's historicity. The time between the first Gospel and Jesus's influence was closer to two generations, the number of men and their background are uncertain, and the time it took to devise the story of Jesus was definitely not limited by the date it was thought to take place; therefore, any number of men, being familiar with the stories and characterisation of the Old Testament and alternate and secular texts in any amount of time, from less than a year to over a lifetime, could invent them. The figures that Jesus repeatedly attacked were leaders of two Jewish sects for their inlenient enforcement of Scripture; such people who had a good knowledge of the text were able to supplement it, and take advantage of the fact that there was a spiritual or mythical void in that part of the world when competing, older religions were being spread and discussed thereto from other parts.

Source for this statement? - Ta bu shi da yu 12:28, 14 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Which statement? half of it seems just like blatently obviousness - "or they could just have made it up and stated Jesus lived 3 years ago, even if it took them 12 to invent the story, as they could adjust the date as necessary, or just miss the statement of date out until they had finished the rest of it". Are you denying this is possible? The paragraph merely is stating the non-zero (and entirely plausible) factual possibility. CheeseDreams 23:25, 16 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Ta bu shi da yu - slapping "prove this isn't original research" onto statements broadly accepted by a wide range of academics and scholars of the subject (not perhaps including conservative US biblical scholars/theologians) suggests either disengenuousness or ignorance. (Sorry, but that's how it looks to me.) Rd232 12:26, 16 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Nope. Read weasel words. It's up to the author to prove the source of their ideas. We must not just assume that people will have this level of knowledge, we must say where we are getting our information from. Besides which, if this is from academics and scholars of the subject it should be hard to fix the phrase. I'm not being "disingeneous". I've commented on many articles asking for them to be tightened up in a similar way. See Internet Explorer and Arab Israeli conflict. Constructive criticism and noting that I want the author to say where they got their information from is not a crime, and it's not being horrible. In fact, it should be encouraged. - Ta bu shi da yu 01:51, 17 Dec 2004 (UTC)
You are the one disputing it. Go on, provide evidence that it is not the case. The onus is on you. Innocent till proven guilty. CheeseDreams 23:48, 17 Dec 2004 (UTC)
Wrong. The onus is on the one who adds the material to back up what they have to say from sources. I could write: "The Gospel of Thomas is totally unproven and unreliable". You would then have to prove that statement is false. In this case, the onus should be on myself to back up my statements with fact. In a similar manner, you should be able to backup what you have to say. You can do that, can't you? - Ta bu shi da yu 01:32, 10 Jan 2005 (UTC)

CheeseDreams additions

I have a number of concerns about these additions:

The Pauline Epistles

OK, I wouldn't mind if this was in here and the material was directly related to the historicity of Jesus. However, it's entirely POV because many scholars and historians believe in the veracity of the Epistles, but this only talks about them in a negative way. However, I have more concerns.

Actually, most scholars (about 2/3, even more (a vast majority) disputing 1&2 Timothy, Titus, and Hebrews) only believe in the veracity of about half the epistles (more precisely, 7 - 1&2 corinthians, philemon, romans, galatians, phillipians, and 1 thessalonians (but not 2 thessalonians)). See Historiography of the Pauline Epistles.
CheeseDreams 23:38, 16 Dec 2004 (UTC)
So please note exactly how it's related to this article. This is not a broad "Historical accuracy of the Bible" or something like that. It's about the historicity of Jesus. If you could say why the section is relevant, that'd be great. If you can't then I don't see why this is here. - Ta bu shi da yu 01:57, 17 Dec 2004 (UTC)
So please note that there is very little in the historiography section in question. CheeseDreams 23:48, 17 Dec 2004 (UTC)
Paul and hellenic influence

This seems to be arguing for whether Paul was influenced by Hellenic sources. Yet our article is about historicity of Jesus. Unless someone can tell me how it directly relates to the article, it should go. - Ta bu shi da yu 05:38, 16 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Because if Paul was a member of the mystery religions, Paul believed in Jesus as allegory encoding mystical teachings, not fact. If Paul did not believe Jesus was real, then it is a virtual guarantee that he was not - the evidence would firmly point to original christians not believing Jesus as real, and later ones making the idea up.
There must be counter arguments. What are they? Are you writing from a neutral point of view? - Ta bu shi da yu 01:57, 17 Dec 2004 (UTC)
No, when I had finished, I would have asked Mpolo to provide the balance. Just like the other articles. You interrupted that process by your blanket reversion. CheeseDreams 23:48, 17 Dec 2004 (UTC)
Note that when this was written, the article was in a state of disrepair. It had CheeseDream's article on the top and the original article down the bottom! CD wonders why people were reverting? - Ta bu shi da yu 01:34, 10 Jan 2005 (UTC)
Terminology by Paul having a Gnostic significance

This whole section is (obviously) about whether Paul was influenced by Gnosticism. Again, our article is about the historicity of Jesus. Interesting material, but this is the wrong article! I don't see Jesus mentioned even once in the material. How is this directly related to the historicity of Jesus again? - Ta bu shi da yu 05:38, 16 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Because if Paul was a gnostic, Paul believed in Jesus as allegory encoding mystical teachings, not fact. If Paul did not believe Jesus was real, then it is a virtual guarantee that he was not - the evidence would firmly point to original christians not believing Jesus as real, and later ones making the idea up.
Actually, I did a whole course of church history, and I would disagree. - Ta bu shi da yu 01:57, 17 Dec 2004 (UTC)
Church history was written by the Church.
Their conflict of interest in the matter cannot be understated. CheeseDreams 23:48, 17 Dec 2004 (UTC)
Atheists' version of history was written by atheists.
Their conflict of interest in the matter cannot be understated. - Ta bu shi da yu 01:48, 10 Jan 2005 (UTC)
Gnostic interpretations of Paul's teachings

This is about the Gnostic interpretations of Paul's teachings. It's not about the historicity of Jesus! Again, this is not directly related to this article. Unless someone can tell me how it directly relates to the article, it should go. - Ta bu shi da yu 05:38, 16 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Because if Paul was a gnostic, Paul believed in Jesus as allegory encoding mystical teachings, not fact. If Paul did not believe Jesus was real, then it is a virtual guarantee that he was not - the evidence would firmly point to original christians not believing Jesus as real, and later ones making the idea up.
There is ample evidence that he didn't even like Gnosticism. So that's in dispute. Yet no mention of the other side of the argument is in the article. Also, you haven't noted the reasons why you've included this section. - Ta bu shi da yu 01:57, 17 Dec 2004 (UTC)
Evidence that he didn't like Gnosticism such as what? If you mean the pastorals (Titus and 1&2 Timothy), about 90% of scholars think they are forgeries. CheeseDreams 23:48, 17 Dec 2004 (UTC)
Or do you mean 2 Thessalonians, which is also has an at least 2/3 majority of scholars thinking it is a forgery.
The same goes for Colossians, and more so Ephesians.
So what is this evidence exactly? CheeseDreams 23:48, 17 Dec 2004 (UTC)
Back to your unsubstantiated figures again. As you've already admitted, that 2/3 figure is said by one scholar. Where do you get the 90% figure from? Seems pretty precise to me. Back up your sources!!! - Ta bu shi da yu 01:51, 10 Jan 2005 (UTC)
Paul and the early church

Yep. That's right. This is about Paul and the early church. It really has nothing to do with the historicity of Jesus. Why is it in here? Unless someone can tell me how it directly relates to the article, it should go. - Ta bu shi da yu 05:38, 16 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Because if Paul was a gnostic, Paul believed in Jesus as allegory encoding mystical teachings, not fact. If Paul did not believe Jesus was real, then it is a virtual guarantee that he was not - the evidence would firmly point to original christians not believing Jesus as real, and later ones making the idea up.
The early church's treatment of paul implies Paul was a hate figure, up until the appearance of the dodgier epistles claiming to be Paul, at which time Paul suddenly becomes the saint of the church (the teachings in the dodgy epistles having nothing to do with this of course).
Some think Simon Magus is actually a satire on Paul. There certainly seems to be antagonism toward Paul in Acts, which doesn't exactly correspond to Paul's account in Galatians terribly well at all.
If the original Christian officials hated Paul, this means that his teachings on Christ were heresy.
This means that at least one of the following was the case
  • the literalist christians hated paul because paul was a gnostic
  • the early christians were predominantly gnostic and hated paul the literalist
(the second of these does not tally with the later form of the church, or the epistles)
Either way you run into the issue of official church suppression of the reality of the state of gnosticism in the early church
  • more importantly, of the implications of that for the historicity of Jesus
This is fundamental to whether Jesus existed or not. CheeseDreams 23:38, 16 Dec 2004 (UTC)
You have a very one-eyed view of early Church history. Certainly as Christianity was very new there were Gnostics who tried to hijack the religion for their own purposes (as they had for other religions), but based on my knowledge of what is written in the Bible I think that Paul refutes these arguments. Your statement "the official church suppression of the reality of the state of gnosticism in the early church" doesn't make sense to me. Paul wrote against the Gnostics. So did Tertullian. So did Irenaeus. They were well aware of the threat (or "reality") that Gnosticism posed to the church and so they wrote about it. If they hadn't acknowledged the reality of Gnosticism in the church then they would have ignored it, don't you think? Yor judgements on this fact are POV and not needed in this article. State facts and leave it at that. - Ta bu shi da yu 02:15, 10 Jan 2005 (UTC)
As was stated earlier, Paul was seen as a hate figure in the early church, even dating back to the Pillars of the Jerusalem Church. To claim that Paul's view on Jesus' historicity has supreme validity is completely unsubstantiated. In fact, his opinion probably has very little bearing. He was seen as a co-opter of early Christianity, and used the wholly Jewish religion and disregarded many of the more rigorous rules to pander to gentiles. Obviously this set him at odds with the Jerusalem Church, who claimed to have known and been close with Jesus during his life. So if Paul were to make or allude to a claim that Jesus never existed, it's very possible it was for the sole purpose of undermining the authority of the Jerusulam church. In fact, most of the epistles contain subtled digs at the "righteous" Jerusalem Church. If Jesus had never existed (if only just in the minds of Christians) then the Pillars had no more say in the rituals and practices of Christians than Paul would have. I fail to see how this would have *virtually* proven Jesus' historicity, or lack thereof, and am amazed that something so vital is being overlooked. Suicide Handbook 20:52, 27 Jan 2005 (UTC)

POV paragraph 1

Although there is much evidence of Jesus attested by the Bible and the New Testament apocrypha (those works which the Council of Laodicea did not consider valid), those arguing against Jesus' historicity argue that since these are works written for religious reasons, their validity on this point is suspect. Of the secular commentators in existence within memory of Jesus, from the evidence of their surviving works (which still survive in significantly high number to fill hundreds of volumes of text) only 6 are claimed to have written anything relating to Jesus - Pliny the Younger, Josephus, Suetonius, Philo, Lucian, and Tacitus. Lucian wrote a satire demonstrating the existence of Christians but condemning them as easily lead fools, wheras Pliny the Younger wrote the same opinion in prose.
  • "Although there is much evidence of Jesus attested by the Bible and the New Testament apocrypha (those works which the Council of Laodicea did not consider valid), those arguing against Jesus' historicity argue that since these are works written for religious reasons, their validity on this point is suspect." Wow. A blanket statement of someone's POV in a Wikipedia article! I've never seen such a misuse of POV terminology. Unbelievable. And we're meant to put up with such edits?
    I don't understand why you are objecting to that. Are you claiming that people who dispute Jesus is real think that the Bible is still reliable and NPOV (even though they do not think Jesus is real, and the Bible appears to claim otherwise)? CheeseDreams 00:36, 17 Dec 2004 (UTC)
    No. You made a judgement on there argument. You say it's suspect. This is your POV, and it's sticking through very clearly. - Ta bu shi da yu 02:03, 17 Dec 2004 (UTC)
    No, its a judgment by them on the religious people. Are you trying to say that a text written by someone for a non NPOV reason (e.g. religious reasons) is not suspect ? CheeseDreams 23:48, 17 Dec 2004 (UTC)
    Evidently you don't understand NPOV or the aims of Wikipedia. We do not impose our own judgements such as that a source is "suspect". In fact, we don't impose our own views at all! If a source is suspect, then we must state who says that otherwise it is imposing your own personal POV. - Ta bu shi da yu 02:18, 10 Jan 2005 (UTC)
    • Also, many reputable scholars reject the Council of Laodicea, as the canon listing the canon of the New Testament appears to be added lated. Denzinger's work cites the Synod of Rome as the first evidence of the complete NT canon. Mpolo 18:40, Dec 16, 2004 (UTC)
Including Revelations AND James AND NOT Shepherd of Hermas? CheeseDreams 00:36, 17 Dec 2004 (UTC)
Yes.
"Item ordo scripturarum Novi et aeterni Testamenti quem sancta et catholica suscipit Ecclesia. Evangeliorum secundum Mattheum l. 1, secundum Marcum, l. 1, secundum Lucam l. 1, secundum Iohannem l. 1.
"Epistolae Pauli [apostoli] numero quatuordecim. Ad Romanos una, ad Corinthios duas, ad Ephesios 1, ad Thessalonicenses 2, ad Galatas 1, ad Philippenses 1, ad Colossenses 1, ad Timotheum 2, ad Titum 1, ad Filemonem 1, ad Hebreos 1.
"Item Apocalypsis Iohannis liber 1. Et Actus Apostolorum l. 1.
"Item epistolae canonicae numero septem. Petri Apostoli epistolae duae, Iacobi Apostoli ep. una, Iohannis Apostoli ep. una, alterius Iohannis presbyteri ep. duae, Iudae Zelotis apostoli ep. 1.
"Explicit canon Novi Testamenti." Mpolo 14:41, Dec 17, 2004 (UTC)
  • "Of the secular commentators in existence within memory of Jesus, from the evidence of their surviving works (which still survive in significantly high number to fill hundreds of volumes of text) only 6 are claimed to have written anything relating to Jesus - Pliny the Younger, Josephus, Suetonius, Philo, Lucian, and Tacitus." Source for this assertion?
    • This is better than what was there before -- a list of every single author who lived in the first two centuries (whether they wrote about the Holy Land or not)... CheeseDreams rejects all authors cited in Eusebius of Caesarea out of hand, because she says that Eusebius is a liar. This removes a large number of other authors "de facto" from the table, as many are preserved only in Eusebius. Mpolo 18:40, Dec 16, 2004 (UTC)
Eh? For 1 - there aren't any authors of the Jesus-evidence kind mentioned in that article.
But 2. Eusebius himself implicitely states he is a liar. He states that it is justifiable to lie - 12th Book of Evangelical Preparation, Eusebius has a section on the use of falsehood as a "medicine", which may be "lawful and fitting" to use. CheeseDreams 00:36, 17 Dec 2004 (UTC)
"False in one, false in all" is your motto, I see. Thus the family that hid Anne Frank from the Nazis were obviously incorrigible liars who couldn't be trusted for anything, and probably cheated on their taxes. Bill Clinton (or indeed any politician) never made a true statement in his life. Herodotus, who presented foreign names as semi-Greek names to make his histories more readable, is worthless as a historical source. Isaac Asimov wrote fiction, so any of his non-fiction must be rejected as lies. Is that how you read history? Mpolo 14:41, Dec 17, 2004 (UTC)
It would be interesting to see if they could be trusted. They clearly cared less about human life than kow-towing to evil. CheeseDreams 23:48, 17 Dec 2004 (UTC)
  • "Lucian wrote a satire demonstrating the existence of Christians but condemning them as easily lead fools, wheras Pliny the Younger wrote the same opinion in prose." And this has exactly what to do with the historicity of Jesus? Sounds like its trying to make a point that early commentators though Christians were fools. Again, more POV showing through.
    • Actually, if it were presented neutrally, it is evidence that early Christians believed that Jesus existed as a person (very clearly stated in Lucian) and that they worshipped "Christus" as a god (again clearly stated in Pliny). However, this damages Cheese's case, so she doesn't mention it. That both pagans were personally against the Christians shows that these sources have no pro-Christian bias. Mpolo 18:40, Dec 16, 2004 (UTC)
Some claim that these evidence the existance of Jesus - since although it is satire and condemning, it nethertheless states Christians exist.
Who would that be again? - Ta bu shi da yu 02:03, 17 Dec 2004 (UTC)
They don't evidence Jesus. They evidence Christians, and what they believed.
Wow! You defeat your own argument over Paul. You are saying now that what Christians believed has no bearing on the evidence for Jesus, yet you still source was some say that Paul believed and use it as evidence against the historicity of Jesus. - Ta bu shi da yu 02:35, 10 Jan 2005 (UTC)
They also evidence common belief that the Christians were misinterpreting something, and were too stupid to notice. E.g. getting gnosticism wrong and interpreting it literally, for example.
Stating that there are "Christians", and that these "Christians" worship "Christus" as a god, only demonstrates that Christians exist, and worship "Christ". It is absolutely zero evidence for Jesus himself existing. It is only evidence for people who think he did.
It is no more evidence of Jesus' existance than is the fact that Cliff Richard believes in it.
Which is what the paragraph states - it is evidence that Christians existed. To go on to state that these early Christians believed that Jesus existed is as stupidly pointless as stating that early Muslims existed and believed in the importance of the Koran.
Remember, the texts are mocking them. I.e. the texts state that most people at the time DID NOT agree with the Christians' belief, and further thought it utterly stupid. How this can be evidence that Jesus existed, particularly in the sense that Christians view him in, is beyond me.CheeseDreams 00:36, 17 Dec 2004 (UTC)
Yet you bring up the Pauline Epistles as evidence of Jesus's historicity, yet they were written after Jesus death and resurrection. Interesting how the same argument can be applied to that. Paul never met Jesus before then. It was only after he persecuted Christians that he had a vision on the way to road to Damascus. - Ta bu shi da yu 02:03, 17 Dec 2004 (UTC)
The vision isn't so much a vision in Galatians as it is in Acts.
That statement makes no sense. I have no idea what point you are trying to make here. - Ta bu shi da yu 02:47, 10 Jan 2005 (UTC)
But this is irrelevant. Paul never says he met Jesus at all.
And I never stated that he met him in the flesh! I said that he had a vision of Jesus on the road to Damascus. I didn't say this implicitly, but I'm referring to Acts. - Ta bu shi da yu 02:47, 10 Jan 2005 (UTC)
The pauline epistles were written after Jesus' death. But everything else was written after them. Which is the point. To an historian, this points to them being more likely accurate than the gospels, since the gospels come afterward in history, not before.
Yes. I know that they were written after Jesus death. However, that doesn't point to the fact that they were more accurate than the Gospels! Paul didn't write a history of Jesus's death and resurrection. He wrote letters to various churches: hence the reason they are called the Pauline Epistles. So when you say they are more "accurate" what accuracy are you referring to? What specific things are more accurate in Paul's letters than they are in the Gospels? They are different genres and I would have thought you'd treat them as such! - Ta bu shi da yu 02:47, 10 Jan 2005 (UTC)
The whole point is that, if the earliest witness, by a clear margin (first epistle was years before first something else Christian), did not think that Jesus existed as real, then this is more likely to be true, since it points to the first Christians not thinking Jesus real. Later Christians wrote everything else. But they were later.
The first witnesses? Which witnesses are you referring to again? If the apostles, from their writing it is clear they believed in Jesus. If you are referring to some other people, please state who you are referring to. - Ta bu shi da yu 02:47, 10 Jan 2005 (UTC)
The issue is "did the FIRST christians think Jesus was real, or did LATER christians make the idea up?". The closest thing to a FIRST Christian is the group that Paul represents. Everyone else who wrote the New Testament is a LATER group. The Pauline Epistles thus point to what the FIRST Christians were, and what they believed. In comparison to them, the witness of everything else is secondary not primary.
CheeseDreams 23:48, 17 Dec 2004 (UTC)
That's wrong. Paul may have written before the Gospels, but you are saying that makes the Gospels less reliable. It does not imply this. The fact that the Gospels were written after Paul's letters does not make a historical account any less accurate. Allow me to give you an example: let's say that both you and I see a horrific car accident. I then write a letter to my mother detailing the horrific injuries and what I'm feeling about the accident. Then later on a police officer takes your statement of what happened (your history of the event) for a court case. Does this mean that your account is less accurate than my own letter to my mother? No, it does not. Let's apply your logic to what you are saying. You are saying that because Paul wrote letters to the various churches at an earlier date than the original witnesses that this makes the historical accounts of the witnesses less reliable. - Ta bu shi da yu 02:47, 10 Jan 2005 (UTC)

POV paragraph 2

Many Christians use a passage from Josephus (found only in quotations apparantly from it by Eusebius) as evidence that the Bible is not the only contemporary document proclaiming the truth of their faith (such as the Resurrection of Jesus as Christ, part-God, who was executed at the suggestion of Jewish leaders, and won many converts). However, critical scholars note that the passage uses terms Josephus nowhere else uses, the passage is a rather odd thing for a non-Christian Jew to write, the other text reads more continuously without the passage in question, and that the first person known to have claimed that Josephus did not mention Jesus was Origen (who lived centuries before Eusebius who is the first person known to have claimed (or quoted) that he did). The discovery of a more neutral 10th century version, bolstered Christian hopes of the validity of the passage, however, it fails to explain why the earlier 9th century manuscripts should have the flaws, and may itself be a forgery.
  • "Many Christians use a passage from Josephus", source?
For example, the fact that so much discussion evolves around Josephus' evidence rather than anyone else's. See google, type in "textual evidence of Jesus" without the quotes, there are masses of christian websites going "ah, but Jesus is mentioned in Josephus, look at all this detail....", never pointing out that that mention is the only one even coming remotely close to actual evidence.
  • "(found only in quotations apparantly from it by Eusebius)", source?
    • The earliest copy of this dates from Eusebius of Caesarea's time and is cited by him. Origen does not mention it. Thus, CheeseDreams assumes that Eusebius wrote it. Mpolo 18:52, Dec 16, 2004 (UTC)
Thus many many scholars assume that Eusebius (arch heresy-hunter of the Church) forged it to act as something to hit the "but there is no evidence from respected historians" groups of his critics with. CheeseDreams 00:16, 17 Dec 2004 (UTC)
  • "as evidence that the Bible is not the only contemporary document proclaiming the truth of their faith (such as the Resurrection of Jesus as Christ, part-God, who was executed at the suggestion of Jewish leaders, and won many converts)." Can we back this up with a source? I object to the way this is worded. It's worded to make it sound like this is a rightly dubious proposition.
    • Wording is offensive here, agreed. Mpolo 18:52, Dec 16, 2004 (UTC)
  • "However, critical scholars note" - which scholars, what exactly do they note?
  • "that the passage uses terms Josephus nowhere else uses" - what terms might these be? Source?
    • I've read elsewhere that the passage includes hapax legomena. It should probably be cited, though. Mpolo 18:52, Dec 16, 2004 (UTC)
A link to hapax legomena under the words "terms Josephus nowhere else uses" would be appropriate. CheeseDreams 23:48, 17 Dec 2004 (UTC)
  • "the passage is a rather odd thing for a non-Christian Jew to write" - is it? He turned tail and was counted a traitor as he was fairly pro-Roman. Anyway, who says this? How do I know this isn't original research, or at least the POV of the author sticking through?
    • I think this is discussed in more detail in Jesus and textual evidence. The point is the Josephus quote says that "Jesus was a man (if we can even call him a man)...He was the Messiah..." Even Karl Adam, a Christian author, considers this to be of unlikely value. Unless Cheese has reverted it, I put Karl Adam's arguments in the textual evidence article a while back. Mpolo 18:52, Dec 16, 2004 (UTC)
Josephus of course being a Jew who didn't approve of Christianity. So obviously the sort of person who would go "if we can..call him a man", and "he was the messiah" (Jews do not believe the messiah has arrived yet, thats why they are Jews not some wierd sect of Christians, excepting of course the Messianic Jews). CheeseDreams 00:16, 17 Dec 2004 (UTC)
  • "the other text reads more continuously without the passage in question" - other text? what other text?
    • Poorly worded section. The point is that the section seems to break in on Josephus' line of thought, so that the preceding paragraph can be read connected to the following paragraph without problem. However, there are many other places where Josephus does the same. Adam argues that the place the section was put is actually logically. (He argues that the section was just slightly modified, made more "Christian" by a later copyist.) Mpolo 18:52, Dec 16, 2004 (UTC)
Basically, the quote Eusebius makes is AAAAABBBBBBCCCCCC, the Jesus bit being BBBBBB (and the only bit discussed above), the other bits are AAAAA and CCCCCC. Essentially AAAAACCCCCC reads more continuously (i.e. looks more like one piece of text than a haphazard series of random sentences) than AAAAABBBBBBCCCCCC. CheeseDreams 00:16, 17 Dec 2004 (UTC)
  • "and that the first person known to have claimed that Josephus did not mention Jesus was Origen (who lived centuries before Eusebius who is the first person known to have claimed (or quoted) that he did)." - I notice the stuff in brackets it stuff that is trying to prove a point
The stuff in brackets explains the significance of mentioning Origen. Basically, Origen states quite clearly that Josephus does not mention Jesus. Eusebius two centuries later then claims to have quoted Josephus. Which is thus quite suspicious (particularly as Origen would have wanted Josephus to have mentioned Jesus). Not having the bracketed bit there renders it rather inexplicable as to why Origen is mentioned at all. The bracketed part puts the explicit denial of the claim by Origen into the context of Eusebius' violation of that denial. CheeseDreams 00:16, 17 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Proposal to fixup

My proposal is this: get rid of all the stuff about Paul and Gnosticism. It's peripherally relevant at best, and really should be in its own article. Let's make a temporary sub-article out of it and have the original author decide where it belongs. DJ Clayworth 05:59, 16 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Hey, I'd love to. Only I'll get accused of reverting her work. Basically, CheeseDreams has held this article to hostage over her unilateral edits. - Ta bu shi da yu 06:02, 16 Dec 2004 (UTC)
I agree entirely that it needs to be moved. There seems to be a new article on the Gnosticism and the New Testament so we should just be able to move it there. --G Rutter 11:49, 16 Dec 2004 (UTC)
Actually, Paul is fundamental to the argument. If Paul didn't think Jesus existed, then it is a virtual guarantee that he did not. CheeseDreams 00:02, 17 Dec 2004 (UTC)

The problem with this article is that it is basically a criticism for a POV for which there is little concrete evidence outside of documents written by those propounding it. (Little, but not none.) Any NPOV article on the matter will risk offending those who hold this POV. On a structural level, it also leads to taking the POV as the starting-point, and then saying "but is it true?". It would be more constructive to (pun) deconstruct the question of Jesus' historicity into the parts of "Jesus the Man" and "Jesus the Son of God and worker of miracles". This would also clarify what the point of the discussion of Paul's possible Gnosticism is, which relates to the latter issue. (NB if there's already a page on Jesus' divinity then Historicity should link to it and focus on the Man). Rd232 12:39, 16 Dec 2004 (UTC)

I disagree. For most Christians, Jesus divinity and humanity is intertwined in such a way that you cannot address one without addressing the other. Witness the great debates on the Trinity down the years. So I would disagree with having this structure. - Ta bu shi da yu 05:13, 17 Dec 2004 (UTC)
Jesus the Man is addressed by the statement of one scholar I have read
If a man called Jesus lived at that time in that place, it isn't the Jesus we know of, but another man with the same name

CheeseDreams 00:02, 17 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Well of course they're entwined if you believe in both. But I think it would be helpful to treat them separately here, because a debate about the evidence of Jesus' existence as a person is relatively small and manageable. (And can perfectly well include arguments that his existence is later interpolation.) A debate about Jesus' divinity and narrative about his life is a much larger and more multi-faceted thing, but would be aided by not being mixed up with the question of his existence, IMO. Rd232 10:31, 17 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Unfortunately, the issue of Jesus-as-Man and Jesus-as-some-supernatural-thing are fundamentally entwined. If the Jesus-doing-some-supernatural-thing idea results from gnosticism, then the idea of Jesus-doing-normal-things was a later invention.

The syncretisms argument is a bit of a "where they got the ideas from" argument. Which both explains the origin of the detail of the Jesus-doing-some-supernatural-thing, and how (should it actually be that Jesus-doing-normal-things really existed) distortion could have transformed an ordinary human into the idea of some wierd supernatural deity-like-thing.

But the main argument against Jesus actually starts out from quite the opposite end to the one you would expect. It starts from the idea that Jesus-doing-normal-things was a later invention.

CheeseDreams 00:02, 17 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Alexander Hislop and the "Two Babylons"

If anyone wants to read it, it can be found here. Someone want to read it to verify what was said about syncretism and Jesus? - Ta bu shi da yu 07:02, 16 Dec 2004 (UTC)

NPOV?

32 out of 44 books referenced are anti-Christian or insist that some aspect of Christianity is false. At least two that I can see give both the pro and cons of Christianity. So much for a balanced article! - Ta bu shi da yu 08:44, 16 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Anti-christian? Where do they go "Christianity is evil," or "Christianity is wrong".
If you mean "Anti-historicity", then that is probably to do with the fact that no-one has added appropriate counters to them. Though the makeup of the bibliography does reflect the majority position of scholars, rather than a 50-50 view, which would actually be more POV, if you think about it, as it would imply that actually there was a fairly even split, which there isn't.CheeseDreams 23:53, 16 Dec 2004 (UTC)
Ah no. Let's look at the titles:
  1. The Jesus Hoax
    About historicity of Jesus not evils of Christianity.
  2. The Jesus Puzzle. Did Christianity Begin with a Mythical Christ?: Challenging the Existence of an Historical Jesus
    About historicity of Jesus not evils of Christianity.
  3. Losing Faith in Faith: From Preacher to Atheist
    About historicity not evils
  4. The Case Against Christianity
    About historicity not evils
  5. The Myth of the Resurrection and Other Essays
    About historicity not evils of Christianity
  6. Why I Am An Atheist
    About historicity not evils of Christianity
  7. Putting Away Childish Things: the Virgin Birth, the Empty Tomb, and Other Fairy Tales You Don't Need to Believe to Have a Living Faith.
  8. Russell, Bertrand. Why I Am Not a Christian
  9. Spong, John Shelby. Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism: A Bishop Rethinks the Meaning of Scripture
    Spong is a Christian Bishop. How can he be called Anti-Christian?
    Spong has been largely condemned by many for throwing out the Bible. Large parts of the church do not recognise him. - Ta bu shi da yu 03:26, 10 Jan 2005 (UTC)
  10. An Anthology of Atheism and Rationalism
    About historicity not evils of Christianity
  11. The Encyclopedia of Unbelief
    About historicity not evils of Christianity
  12. God Pro and Con: A Bibliography of Atheism
    About historicity not evils of Christianity
  13. Did They Tarry in the City? from The Skeptical Review
    About historicity of Jesus not evils of Christianity.
  14. The Claims of Christianity Examined from a Rationalist Standpoint
    About historicity of Jesus not evils of Christianity.
  15. Forgery in Christianity: A Documented Record of the Foundations of the Christian Religion
    About historicity of Jesus not evils of Christianity.
  16. Biography. - Leaving the Fold: Testimonies of Former Fundamentalists
    About historicity not evils of Christianity (although the title unfortunately has the misleading impression that it is about evils) - Its about why fundamentalists changed their minds on the issue of literalism.
  17. Dial an Atheist: Greatest Hits from Ohio American Atheist Press
Still reckon your sources aren't slanted? - Ta bu shi da yu 04:10, 17 Dec 2004 (UTC)
How are any of these anti-Christian? None are going "christianity is so evil, there were the crusades, and they brainwashed by daughter, etc.". They are about historicity, which is what the article is about. Faith doesn't always rely on historicity you know. It is a very weak faith that rests on such a mere straw, easy to knock over. There are people such as the Christian non-realists, for example, and the High Church, who really don't care about whether Jesus actually technically existed. Not all Christians are literalists. The gnostics werent, for a start. CheeseDreams 23:48, 17 Dec 2004 (UTC)
I've deleted a few of the "why I became an atheist" type references, as they're not strictly relevant to the "Historicity of Jesus". I've kept all the books which challenged the historicity of Jesus, etc, although I think they could probably pruned somewhat. --G Rutter 11:20, 17 Dec 2004 (UTC)
The "why I became an atheist" ones ARE about historicity - they are about "why it was that I was convinced that the Church's idea of a literal Jesus as god was wrong". Bertrand Russel's in particular is the philosophical argument against historicity, which is also lacking in the article.CheeseDreams
Well, it's your own fault if those got removed. You never cited where you used the sources! You just added them and expected us to read all of them to verify the facts? Get out of here! I'm not doing that! - Ta bu shi da yu 03:26, 10 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Gnosticism and the Gospels

I've edited this section as it was claiming that the Gospel of Mark is seen as Gnostic and that the Gospel of John is not. This is incorrect. As far as I'm aware John is the only one of the four Gospels that can be (and has been) seen as influnced by gnosticism. Reference: Prof James Dunn of the University of Durham Unity and Diversity in the New Testament. It still needs a lot more editing though (and references for the "scholars"). --G Rutter 11:56, 16 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Many contest that John was a forgery written directly to attack gnosticism (thus having a similar style). But the most supported stance of the 3 (gnostic/anti-gnostic/stance 3) is that the original more gnostic version was doctored (actually quite a lot of people support this idea - Cerinthus was held by some to have been the author, despite the fact that Irenaeus, who makes the first known quotes from John, uses his "copy" of the gospel to attack Cerinthus.
Mark can be seen as gnostic - see the pythagoreanism part for example, re. 153. But in particular, the mysterious naked youth, and thomas didymous which can both easily be seen as gnostic teachings,(n.b. thomas didymous translates into english as twin twin), though I am not going to elaborate on that here, as I will add it to the article at some point. Also, the very existance of Secret Gospel of Mark is gnostic, as well as the reasoning that Clement gives for it's creation, and his statement that the Carpocrations favoured it heavily.
P.s. I think it would only be fair of me to inform you that I have actually met Jimmy Dunn, in a professional capacity, for quite some time, so there is little point in trying to quote his work at me. CheeseDreams 23:51, 16 Dec 2004 (UTC)
And? We can certainly quote the work if we see fit. Don't take such an arrogant stance. - Ta bu shi da yu 02:04, 17 Dec 2004 (UTC)
Read what I wrote. I said there is no point to quoting the work at me . CheeseDreams 23:48, 17 Dec 2004 (UTC)
If you can provide references for those different points then they should obviously be included in the section. However, this doesn't remove the fact that John was the Gospel most used by the Gnostics themselves. I included the reference in order to support my point. Another possible interpretation of the style of the Gospel of John is that:
"John was deliberately attempting to portray Jesus in a manner as attractive as possible to would-be (Christian) Gnostics, while at the same time marking out the limits he himself imposed on such a presentation." (Dunn Unity and Diversity p302)
Which can't really be characterised as either wholly pro or wholly anti. Can you please clarify why "there is little point in trying to quote his work"? I thought the point was we wrote these articles summarising what scholars have discovered/theorised about. As Prof Dunn is widely regarded as a leading New Testament scholar I would have thought his opinion would be worth including. I've also met him, but even if I hadn't I'm afraid I don't understand what your point was. --G Rutter 11:11, 17 Dec 2004 (UTC)

I moved your first reply so the order is easier to understand. --G Rutter 17:41, 18 Dec 2004 (UTC)

A gospel of John was used by the gnostics. We have no way of knowing if it is the same one we have now, that Ireneaus uses, or whether the current version is in fact a heavily doctored distortion of the gnostic one.CheeseDreams 23:48, 17 Dec 2004 (UTC)
Again, if you have references to back up your claim that the Gospel of John has been substantially altered, then please include them. However, this seems to be moving away from the original point which was John (in whatever form) wasn't used and Mark was by the Gnostics. I take it you accept that this alteration was valid? --G Rutter 17:41, 18 Dec 2004 (UTC)
Read what I wrote. I said there is no point to quoting the work at me .CheeseDreams 23:48, 17 Dec 2004 (UTC)
Nope, still don't understand. Why not? He has relevant opinions on this topic which hadn't been considered. --G Rutter 17:41, 18 Dec 2004 (UTC)
Because I know the opinions already. CheeseDreams 05:52, 22 Dec 2004 (UTC)
I find it remarkably odd, that having met him, you still refer to him as Prof Dunn. Everyone who actually knows him refers to him as Jimmy Dunn. This includes fellow theologians in the department, and all the students there. 81.156.92.220 23:48, 17 Dec 2004 (UTC)
I'm fully aware of that. However, on this site I'd call my own doctoral supervisors Dr Philip and Dr Pearson, so again I don't quite understand your point. I take it you accept that Prof Dunn is a suitable source for this article? Moreover, if you could provide sources for your points then this article could probably move forward. --G Rutter 17:41, 18 Dec 2004 (UTC)
I'm really not convinced by that argument at all. Particularly as virtually no-one would call him Prof Dunn (Prof is never used as an abbreviation of reference in speech, and is hardly used in text (and always contains a full stop if it is)). If you know Jimmy Dunn, what is so unusual about the Bob Hayward's shopping list? CheeseDreams 05:52, 22 Dec 2004 (UTC)
Well, if this is not the most stupid argument I've ever heard. Stick to the topic. - Ta bu shi da yu 03:29, 10 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Wow

Haven't looked at this article in a while -- looks like we need to get some work done here. CheeseDreams, are you willing to trim back the list of references a bit? I think the article isn't anywhere near long enough to warrant such a huge list of books -- can you find the books that were actually used in the writing of the passages you wrote? I understand that a point may be corroborated by several books, but the list is overwhelming, especially since, as Ta bu points out, the books are overwhelmingly anti-Christian. It makes sense to me that we'll use a number of those books here (just as we might use skeptical books in an article on ESP or iridology), but I think we need to display more balance, and I don't think the answer is adding 30 or so pro-Jesus' existence books. Also, CD, will you explain (and if you have already, will you point me to the section? I'm lost) how Paul's possible gnosticism impacts Jesus' historicity? If there is a good explanation, I think part of that material can stay, but I hope you'll agree to trimming much of it back so that the article can remain more focused on the question of Jesus' existence. If Paul was a Gnostic, then I guess I can see that any reference he made to Jesus' existence could be taken more metaphorically, but as it's only one perspective on Paul, and as Paul's references to Jesus are only part of the evidence, I don't think the material on Paul should overwhelm the article as much as it does. Are you willing to consider some cuts? Jwrosenzweig 22:59, 16 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Basically, if some of the people here ACTUALLY READ THE DISCUSSION MPOLO, WESLEY, AND I HAD BEFORE 14th December ON THIS TALK PAGE, you will see that that is a section which in all likelyhood will be seperated into a daughter, with a summary, though not until it becomes clear as to how it needs to be organised or split.
Anyway, Paul is important, because, if Paul does not provide evidence for Jesus' existance
AND if Paul does provide evidence that Jesus was seen allegorically in the gnostic sense
THEN this implies that the original Christians were the gnostics, not the literalists, and that the gnostic argument "the literalists just misinterpret the teachings because they are stupid" is actually a statement of fact.
Which implies that since in this case the idea of Jesus as flesh and blood would have been made up later, once the literalists appeared.
It also implies that it didn't exist to start with (gnostics are predominantly some form of doceticism or similar, with respect to Jesus' nature)
Thus, Jesus is not real.
Showing that the original Christians are gnostic, is the same as showing that Jesus did not exist.
So, really, it is the most important part of the argument all together. CheeseDreams 00:58, 17 Dec 2004 (UTC)


Exactly - does "historicity" mean "existence as a person" (a simple yay/nay) or "existence as the Son of God according to the principles and books of the Christian churches" (a potentially much more complex answer)? Rd232 23:32, 16 Dec 2004 (UTC)
Hmmm, Rd, I guess I don't know why you said "exactly" since I didn't think I was raising the issue you raise at all. But I'm under the influence of cold medicine and may be foggy about things in general right now. I'll be back tomorrow and perhaps I'll understand then, although if you left a clarifying note I'd very much appreciate it. Jwrosenzweig 00:02, 17 Dec 2004 (UTC)
I was picking up on your comment above "I hope you'll agree to trimming much of it back so that the article can remain more focused on the question of Jesus' existence." And I agree with the next sentences you wrote there as well. Rd232 16:24, 17 Dec 2004 (UTC)
A question of "the historicity of X" is one of "is X real". That includes questions about the fetters of X (i.e. peripheral bits, like tha nativity, parentage, etc.), and more pertinant reality questions (such as "did he exist at all").
Doesn't that depend on what the definition of X is? :) Seriously, I think it helps structure and clarify the debate to separate the Man from the God. There is debatable external evidence for existence which should be debated, including the Gnostic argument of later interpolation - but without all the details about Paul's possible Gnosticism (which should have its own page). Separating that from the debate about the other aspects would I think be helpful. At least worth a try? I think it might also result in an article that would make people like Ta bu shi da yu happier, especially if the existence debate is first on the page. Rd232 16:24, 17 Dec 2004 (UTC)
Yet if the Pauline Epistles were written by Paul, who only knew Jesus after having a vision on the road to Damascus, why would people point to his writings as they were written after Jesus died? How exactly would they point to the existence/non-existence of Jesus? - Ta bu shi da yu 02:09, 17 Dec 2004 (UTC)
Because there is nothing written from before the Pauline Epistles. They are the first witness. And contemporary with the first groups of Christianity (according to standard Chronology where the idea/person of Jesus actually arose about 30ish AD). Everything else in the New Testament, and elsewhere, dates from After this period.
The point is, if no-one from the first period thought Jesus was real, and the main founder of Christianity (Paul) thought he was not, then that means that it is most likely the case. This is because the appearance of the idea of Jesus as real would be much later than Jesus is supposed to have existed, with the intervening gap between Jesus actually being there, and people thinking he was, occupied almost (or even totally) exclusively by people thinking Jesus did not exist.
This is demonstrably odd - if he did exist one would expect the first group of people to think he did (e.g. those that had met him/knew someone who had met him). If no such group exists, then it is probably made up. 81.156.92.220 23:48, 17 Dec 2004 (UTC)
With all due respect, eh?? Rd232 16:24, 17 Dec 2004 (UTC)
Not sure what part you don't understand... - Ta bu shi da yu 16:41, 17 Dec 2004 (UTC)

The Pauline Epistles

The problem I have with this whole section is that it's not clear why it should be in the article. According to Acts, Paul arrived on the scene after Jesus death and resurrection. So he can't be a direct witness here. If the article is to do with a viewpoint that he was influenced by Gnosticism, this has been disagreed by many people. Heck, there are even parts of the Bible where he states how much he hates secret knowledge movements. This, however, is not even mentioned in this section. It's not clear also how this section is directly related to the article. It seems from talk that CheeseDreams wants it added because of a belief amongst some scholars that he used Jesus merely as an allegory to certain things. But this would be hotly disputed, and I don't see the comments by those opposing the view. That's not NPOV writing. - Ta bu shi da yu 04:41, 17 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Although Ta bu shi da yu may be bowing out, I suggest that the question he poses above is highly relevant. At the very least, the section on Paul needs to be introduced with an explanation of why it's relevant to this article. If it doesn't have relevance, then it should be removed entirely. Wesley 06:06, 17 Dec 2004 (UTC)
Shouldn't this NPOV article let the reader conclude their own conclusion? Why such a lenghty discussion on Paul being influenced by Gnosticism? This is about the historical accuracy of Jesus is it not? Why can't you just briefly mention that some scholars, whoever they are, are in opinion that Paul used Jesus merely as an allegory to certain things. If some scholars are in opinion that Paul don't believe in Jesus existence, name them too. The whole article discussion about Paul being influenced by Gnosticism is irrelevant to this article and should be moved. If you can't named the scholars then don't insert such argument anyway. Beside even if things are obvious it should be concluded by the readers and not the writers. - A reader from Malaysia
This was my first reaction to article. All the detail on Paul's possible Gnosticism needs a separate article (Paul and Gnosticism? A more general Religion of Paul?). A summary of what is relevant to the discussion of Jesus' historicity belongs here. Rd232 16:41, 17 Dec 2004 (UTC)

I'm bowing out of this article

It's pretty obvious to me that this is an article I feel strongly about, and will never be able to edit because some parties have been drowning out all other parties with their POV writing, leaving the article in a POV state (which they admitted in the edit history no less!) and leaving it in a structural mess. Any objective and neutral viewer will clearly see the bias. Any non-objective viewer will probably have their viewpoints more entrenched. It doesn't look good for Wikipedia and our policy of writing from a neutral point of view though. To those authors still engaged in trying to fixup the story: I might come back sometime later and see if you're doing OK. But it appears that my help isn't wanted or needed here and that my questions are seen as attacks on CheeseDreams. That's a pity because that isn't the case, but as CheeseDreams doesn't seem to want to compromise or fix up objections to her edits I don't see the point in battling it out on this article. Especially as any Christians editing this article have been told by various parties that they are censoring the article with their edits and placing their own POV into it. I have no intention of getting directly or indirectly attacked because of my faith, or because of my edits on this article.

I hope the article becomes accurate, fair and NPOV, but with the way things are going I don't see this happening until some of the editors on this site work out how to write to achieve consensus. Properly sourcing would be a start, but here also I've been told by at least one editor that my comments appear to be biased and begging the point. So good luck! You'll all need it. - Ta bu shi da yu 05:21, 17 Dec 2004 (UTC)

OK, I can't help myself. I must like pain. I'm back. - Ta bu shi da yu 04:34, 18 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Shifted from WP:AN

Can I please get advise on how to deal with the extensive changes that CheeseDreams is making on this article? She's running roughshod over everyone on an extremely controversial article. It's already been stuffed up due to this user's edits and had to be protected by RickK (in it's highly POV and badly structured form: at one point there were essentially TWO articles on the one page). Now CheeseDreams is making a massive change without using the talk page, and it adding sections that don't even have any content in it! I've reverted back and have requested that she bring her changes to the talk page. I would appreciate advise on how to procede with this, I don't particularly want to engage in an edit war with her. - Ta bu shi da yu 13:41, 14 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Perhaps an RFC on the article? That doesn't solve the immediate problem, though. If she refuses to take it to the talk and keeps reverting, I suggest you request another admin protect the page. Johnleemk | Talk 14:05, 14 Dec 2004 (UTC) P.S. She's also involved in an arbitration case right now, so you may want to add evidence there if she doesn't sufficiently discuss major rewrites.
And yet, you know, much of what she is adding really needs to be there. The identity or near identity of Jesus with other Mediterranean life-death-rebirth deities is a key counter-argument in this historicy debate. I note that after the latest revert, Horus and the other Egyptians get only a passing mention and Adonis/Tammuz ("Adonai", if you prefer) gets no mention at all. These comparisons have been around since at least the end of the 19th century and have a perfectly respectable literature behind them (see James Frazer's The Golden Bough, for instance). All this just to suggest that you need to be careful that your own Christian POV is not colouring your judgement here. CheeseDreams may be going about it the wrong way, but she does have a valid arguement to add to the article and could say that she is just being bold. I would suggest the RFC route, but be prepared to compromise to allow perectly valid content in the article. Filiocht 15:04, Dec 14, 2004 (UTC)
Aloha, Filiocht. While I do agree with many of your points (and in fact agree with CheeseDreams) James Frazer is no longer considered to be as respectable as he once was, due to recent progress made in Anthropology. As far as myths are concerned, it might be better to cite the primary sources that Frazer used, although in most cases, I'm sure that citing Frazer is just fine. I did not revert CheeseDreams because of content alone. I reverted her because she is unable to work well and collaborate with others. She needs to work towards a compromise on the discussion page and she needs to stop making wholesale replacements of articles without discussion. --Viriditas | Talk 23:01, 14 Dec 2004 (UTC)
I cited Frazer specifically to show that these are not new ideas, but there is, of course, a lot of work that is more recent and better Anthropology that could be cited. Reverting people because they are 'unable to work well and collaborate with others' seems to me a bit of a slippery slope, after all, who defines 'working well'? Surely it would be better to edit relevant material than to revert it? Filiocht 08:56, Dec 15, 2004 (UTC)
I apologize for not being clear. What I was trying to say (and failed) was that even though I agreed with the content CheeseDreams had added, I reverted her changes since her edits amounted to a wholesale replacement of the entire article with her own version, in effect, negating the collaborative efforts of all the editors that were working on the article. Have a look for yourself:[1]. Also, have a look at the talk page. The consensus on the talk page is that CheeseDreams has replaced the original article with a duplicate of a different article she personally authored (Jesus, pre-4th century Christianity, and syncretism). Does that make more sense? I absolutely agree that it would be better to edit relevant material, however, since CheeseDreams has replaced the entire article with her version (essentially a duplicate of a different article), the only recourse is reversion. Let me know if I have cleared this point up or not. FWIW, I am a complete outsider on this debate and I have no interest in the outcome of either side. --Viriditas | Talk 12:14, 15 Dec 2004 (UTC)
I agree that these things should be added. However, my complaint is not the content, it is the way the content is being added. What I've maintained all along is that she needs to discuss major edits and structural changes before doing them. Some of the changes have been quite major structural changes. See [2]. There are whole sections with no content. Is this acceptable? I do understand that my Christianity may colour my worldview (in fact, it does), but in this case c'mon... check out what happened to the page before I unprotected it! [3] Does this look like a well written, reasonable article? I mean, it has (count 'em) six cleanup, attention, etc tags. Two of them are invalid merge tags. Then there is a heading that says "Original article before edit started" - wtf? In the first section there are 13 stub-sections/empty sections. Not only this, but she just slapped her brand new article on top of the old article! Does that seem fair or even reasonable?! And yet: little or no discussion on the talk page about the tags or the changes that are being made. - Ta bu shi da yu 23:03, 14 Dec 2004 (UTC)
Also, Slrubenstein makes a good argument for moving most of the proposed changes by CheeseDreams to Jesus, pre-4th century Christianity, and syncretism. I don't particularly like that title, but I have to agree with Slrubenstein: CheeseDreams is editing the wrong article. --Viriditas | Talk 23:23, 14 Dec 2004 (UTC)
Clearly you haven't been paying attention - I wrote almost 100% of Jesus, pre-4th century Christianity, and syncretism as well. The content on Historicity of Jesus in the syncretism section is just a summary of it (that I wrote by contracting a duplicate of the article). There is no meaning to merging the content. Its the same. One is a summary of the other. CheeseDreams 01:01, 15 Dec 2004 (UTC)
Oh, I'm quite willing to admit that I'm wrong. Are you? Your summary is 11 paragraphs long. I'm sure if you tightened it up to 5 paragraphs or so, the editors would greatly appreciate your efforts. Slrubenstein has a valid point about your alleged "hijacking" of the article. Perhaps if you treated other editors with respect and civility, and showed a willingness to compromise, you wouldn't find yourself in so much trouble. Plus, you are evading your current block by posting under another name/IP (see history "Cheese dreams"). --Viriditas | Talk 01:34, 15 Dec 2004 (UTC)
I totally agree here. If she'd done things in small changes so we could discuss things we would have been OK. As it is we now have an article that is hotly in dispute by many people with one person holding it hostage. I've just tried to fixup another revert by CheeseDreams to her version. Talk about pushing her POV! In fact, there's even a whole section on the Pauline Epistles that shouldn't even be there. - Ta bu shi da yu 06:58, 16 Dec 2004 (UTC)

I want to make a note here that much of what CheeseDreams has added has nothing to do with the Historicity of Jesus! For instance, look at Historicity of Jesus#The Pauline Epistles. I don't want to discuss it too much here and instead leave it to the talk page of that article. In fact, check out Talk:Historicity of Jesus#Disputed for the amount of things that now need improving to a highly controversial topic!!!! - Ta bu shi da yu 06:56, 16 Dec 2004 (UTC)

That is not true. Paul is considered by most Christians as the founder (or one of the founders) of Christianity, and is the first known written witness to Christianity. As such, whether Paul actually wrote that Jesus existed, or in fact Paul considered Jesus as allegory, is fundamentally important to the page. If Paul did not think "Jesus Christ" was real, then that means that 100% of the known evidence points to the original Christians not believing "Jesus Christ" was real (preferring instead gnostic allegory), and thus, the idea of "Jesus Christ" having historicity is indicated by 100% of known evidence as being a later invention.
That is why Paul is in the article. Paul is fundamentally important to the question of historicity. Paul is one of the most prolific, and also the earliest, witness. CheeseDreams 21:12, 16 Dec 2004 (UTC)
Uh-huh. However, Paul came onto the scene after the death of Jesus. There is plenty of evidence that Jesus existed, and not everyone agrees with the whole allegory argument. I notice this is not int the article however. So much for NPOV. - Ta bu shi da yu 03:46, 17 Dec 2004 (UTC)
Please see Wikipedia:No original research. If a viewpoint is held by an extremely small (or vastly limited) minority, it doesn't belong in Wikipedia (except perhaps in some ancilliary article), regardless if it's true or not, whether you can prove it or not [ed. A polite rational discussion in the Talk page or "votes for deletion" is probably the way to settle this]. --Viriditas | Talk 00:03, 17 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Bland and confusing article

I just had a read of this article, and I must admit I am perplexed. The first half of the article seems to be just a list of points discrediting the existence of Jesus, while the second half inexplicably talks about something called "gnosticism" and some guy Paul, without explaining how it's at all relevant to Jesus (unless my increasingly frustrated skim-reading failed me). This article needs to be better written, preferably with an actual leading paragraph or introduction which explains how it is all relevant to the historicity of Jesus. - Mark 15:15, 17 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Someone deleted the space I was going to write the introduction in.
There is nothing written from before Pauline Epistles. They are the first witness. And contemporary with the first groups of Christianity (according to standard Chronology where the idea/person of Jesus actually arose about 30ish AD). Everything else in the New Testament, and elsewhere, dates from After this period.
The point is, if no-one from the first period thought Jesus was real, and the main founder of Christianity (Paul) thought he was not, then that means that it is most likely the case. This is because the appearance of the idea of Jesus as real would be much later than Jesus is supposed to have existed, with the intervening gap between Jesus actually being there, and people thinking he was, occupied almost (or even totally) exclusively by people thinking Jesus did not exist.
This is demonstrably odd - if he did exist one would expect the first group of people to think he did (e.g. those that had met him/knew someone who had met him). If no such group exists, then it is probably made up. 81.156.92.220 23:48, 17 Dec 2004 (UTC)
I've created Historicity of Jesus/Temp as an attempt at a basis for a better article going forward - improving structure and removing duplication. I've also left out the Pauline Epistles section which should go to its own page and be summarised appropriately here. The Temp page is still very much draft - anybody think it's a useful starting point or have I wasted my time? Rd232 18:41, 17 Dec 2004 (UTC)
Just based on a quick glance, it looks like at least a half way reasonable starting point. I only hope my approval of it doesn't earn your draft a condemnation from others. Wesley 20:23, 17 Dec 2004 (UTC)
I agree with Wesley. That article is looking to be starting on the way to NPOV. - Ta bu shi da yu 04:35, 18 Dec 2004 (UTC)

The Pro-Jesus Viewpoints

The late Frederick F. Bruce, professor of Biblical criticism and exegesis at the University of Manchester, England, stated: "It is not usually possible to demonstrate by historical arguments the truth of every detail in an ancient writing, whether inside or outside the Bible. It is sufficient to have reasonable confidence in a writer’s general trustworthiness; if that is established, there is an a priori likelihood that his details are true. . . . The New Testament is not less likely to be historically reliable because Christians receive it as ‘sacred’ literature."

There isn't a University of Manchester. (Well, there has been for about 2 weeks, but thats not really very likely to be the reference here).
Do you mean UMIST (University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology) or Manchester Metropolitan University (an ex Polytechnic). Note that UMIST doesn't do non-Science subjects, and that MMU is an ex-Poly (Polytechnics were skills-based training centres, e.g. skilled carpentry, media, etc. (they were all renamed into universities)). ex-Polytechnics are not regarded highly in traditional academic disciplines.
And Bruce's argument is "It is sufficient to have reasonable confidence in a writer’s general trustworthiness", which most scholars do not about the new testament. Especially about 1/2 the pauline epistles. See Historiography of the Pauline Epistles. And Authorship of John. And Markan Priority. 81.156.92.220 23:48, 17 Dec 2004 (UTC)
So will you let us add it, CheeseDreams? - Ta bu shi da yu 03:34, 18 Dec 2004 (UTC)
I fail to see how it is sufficient to have confidence in yyyy, which most scholars do not, to assume xxxx supports your argument? If you are just going to go "those who refute the majority of scholars think that their refutation is sufficient to conclude that xxxx", it is no better argument than going "xxxx is true", i.e. "Jesus existed", which is not a very good argument at all. CheeseDreams 05:52, 22 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Give me examples of scholars who don't have reasonable confidence in the trustworthiness of the NT writers, and sources as to the reasons they manifest for this distrust. Not just blather based on assumptions made by supposed experts with regard to ancient religions.

Authorship of the Pauline epistles, Authorship of John, etc. There are masses of dispute - ask a (non-religious) theologian. Virtually all that is left is the Gospel of Mark and the 7 epistles, and about 3 at most of the general epistles. And then the syncretism arguments (which have been around for over a century now) counter much of Mark, leaving really quite a skeletal NT. CheeseDreams 05:52, 22 Dec 2004 (UTC)

After examining doubts about Jesus as portrayed in the Gospels, James R. Edwards, professor of religion at Jamestown College, North Dakota, U.S.A., wrote: "We may affirm with confidence that the Gospels preserve a diverse and significant body of evidence of the actual truth about Jesus. . . . The most reasonable answer to the question why the Gospels present Jesus as they do is because that is essentially who Jesus was. The Gospels faithfully preserve the memory that he left on his followers, that he was divinely legitimated and empowered to be God’s Son and Servant."

Some parts present Jesus as gnostic myth because he was, despite elsewhere being flesh and blood which he was too? That's an oxymoron.

Gnostic what? I fail to see where the quote I presented indicates anything about Gnosticism. It says they believed he was God's son.

Your quote - we can affirm that ... a diverse body of evidence....because that is essentially who Jesus was i.e. some parts more gnostic and esoteric, and others flesh and blood.CheeseDreams 05:52, 22 Dec 2004 (UTC)
And "The Gospels faithfully preserve...that he was divinely legitimated and empowered to be God’s Son and Servant." is not NPOV. That's blatently a statement of faith not an academic argument. It isn't an appropriate counter argument.

What solid references (eg. extant ancient manuscripts, detailed historical accounts) can you present with regard to the specific beliefs of ancient pagan religions?

E.g. heiroglyphs dated to 1000BC carved into a temple at luxor. Pretty solid that. Its writ in stone. CheeseDreams 05:52, 22 Dec 2004 (UTC)

You manifest faith in the intepretations of a few authors who were interested in making a name for themselves by stringing together a bunch of unconnected coincidences into a syncretism theory.

No, they weren't interested in making a name for themselves. The ideas have been circulating for decades. Some of them just wanted to make income from publishing a book, like most academics. For example, Boas, a standard UK maths undergraduate degree level textbook isn't published to reveal new theories, just to teach the current theories, and so that Boas can get some income for it. CheeseDreams 05:52, 22 Dec 2004 (UTC)
And they are connected. The connection is Osiris-Dionysus, a pan-hellenic-world religion of esoteric mysticism that was all the rage in the 2nd century BC to 3rd century AD. It covered the entire world (in the sense of standard Mappa-Mundi). The only place it is curiously and rather suspiciously absent from is Palestine, but that issue is smoothly resolved if there was one, e.g. Jesus. CheeseDreams 05:52, 22 Dec 2004 (UTC)

How is that less POV than the statement I placed above? Here's a POV - the Bible says ancient, evil spirit creatures are in charge of the earth and all it's religions. Hence all of earth's pagan religions hold various elements in common (immortality of the soul, etc.) and are designed to be a mockery of true faith (hence they present elements imitating the true faith and purpose, eg. virgin births and messiah prophecies) but can clearly be seen to be false because of their outcomes (how many worshippers of Osiris are there today?)

If you note the syncretism article it does actually express that POV. These were the best arguments that the early church could come up with against their opponents who pointed to syncretism. Specifically, they said it was because the devil had the ability to prophecy. Which is a totally convincing argument for someone who is initially sceptical of the argument, obviously. Its odd that they didn't think they could present a better counter argument, don't you think? CheeseDreams 05:52, 22 Dec 2004 (UTC)
In response to "X is not the case because Y", to go "X is the case" is not a reasonable argument, and rather childish.
A counter argument takes the form "X is the case because Z". It is the "because Z" bit which is the important part.

I fail to understand your algebraic mumbling here. What are you trying to say?

P.s. although "because god divinely made the bible accurate" is a counter argument, it is rather repetetive, and not very likely to convince. CheeseDreams 23:48, 17 Dec 2004 (UTC)

It depends on your POV. Some feel that everything somehow fell into place in our galaxy and planet, and the fabulous life we see here all somehow happened by accident, that it is all a cosmic coincidence. Others feel this viewpoint is ludicrous, as the coincidences are simply far too numerous to reasonably conclude that they came about without creation. Modern advances in microbiology have disproved the evolution theory based on the principles of irreducible complexity. So, I belive that there is a creator. And I believe that he wanted to communicate with mankind. If he was able to create the galaxy, he could inspire and see propagated a simple collection of words and reason, wisdom for human life.

There is absolutely no point in arguing "it is true" by the argument "it is true", it will not convince anyone except those who already think "it is true". Preaching to the converted is totally pointless. It isn't a proper counterargument. CheeseDreams 05:52, 22 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Have you ever even read the Bible?

Have you? Have you read it properly? Tell me about the creature full of eyes. Tell me about Satan's power over god. Tell me about Lilith. Explain who the Nephalim are. Read Mark, and tell me where a piece of text could easily have been deleted. Read John 20, at the very end - nice ending isn't it, shame about John 21:1, which is totally abrupt. Tell me about Leviticus and its formal ruling on homosexuality - I bet you think it condemns homosexuals, you should read the hebrew. How many distinct commandments are there in the 10 commandments - I will give you a clue - the answer is one of 10,11,19, and it isn't the first. .... CheeseDreams 05:52, 22 Dec 2004 (UTC)
Sorry... why are we arguing about this? We don't argue points, we add them and don't comment on them one way or the other. I think you might be on the wrong site here. Try Kuro5hin. - Ta bu shi da yu 03:36, 18 Dec 2004 (UTC)
TBSDY, it is (IMEO) an anon you are responding to. CheeseDreams 05:52, 22 Dec 2004 (UTC)

The works of Tacitus, Suetonius, Josephus, Pliny the Younger, and a few other classical writers include numerous references to Jesus. Of them, The New Encyclopædia Britannica (1995) says: "These independent accounts prove that in ancient times even the opponents of Christianity never doubted the historicity of Jesus, which was disputed for the first time and on inadequate grounds at the end of the 18th, during the 19th, and at the beginning of the 20th centuries."

That is discussed in Jesus and textual evidence, which is a daughter of this article. Essentially, the accounts either (a) only actually mention Christians and what they believe, not Jesus, or (b) appear to be blatent forgeries. The case of Josephus is the only plausible evidence, and that appears to be a blatent forgery, though a slightly more plausible version was unearthed recently, although it is itself a 10th century work (if genuine, it would be a 10th copy of the original, if fake, a 10th century forgery (for which there would be ample reason to produce)). CheeseDreams 23:48, 17 Dec 2004 (UTC)

The existence of Christians is good evidence of the Christ -

No, it is existance of people who believe in one.
By that argument, the existance of Hindus prove that Ganesh, Shiva, Krishna, Kali, .... exist. And the existence of worshippers of Mithras prove he existed, and the existence of worhippers on Zeus prove he existed. So what your argument in fact states is that although there would be good evidence of Christ, there would also equally be good evidence of many many Gods and Goddesses, which totally disputes Christianity's claim of Trinity/one-god. So, it isn't really a good argument at all is it? CheeseDreams 05:52, 22 Dec 2004 (UTC)

where there's smoke there's fire, as they say.

Yes, they do say that, unfortunately simple school chemistry demonstrations prove them totally wrong - e.g. grind together iodine and mercury (this is quite dangerous by the way, you will, after a while of absolutely nothing at all, get a large sound, large plume of smoke, total damage to the grinding implement (and possible vaporisation of parts of it), but absolutely no fire whatsoever). CheeseDreams 05:52, 22 Dec 2004 (UTC)

The secondary reference Josephus made, to "James the brother of Jesus, called the Christ" is not disputed by any but extremist higher criticism zealots, like yourself.

Odd how that passage doesn't appear in any of Josephus' surviving works, but only in quotations from them by others. And, sorry, but even if it was accurate, and fully researched and witnessed by Josephus, all it states is that someone called Jesus was thought of as an anointed figure, e.g. like King David was. CheeseDreams 05:52, 22 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Sadly, modern scholars, in their quest for the "real" or "historical" Jesus, seem to have hidden his true identity behind layers of baseless speculation, pointless doubts, and unfounded theorizing. In a sense, they are guilty of the mythmaking of which they falsely accuse the Gospel writers. Some are so eager to feed their own reputation and to link their name to a startling new theory that they fail to examine honestly the evidence about Jesus. In the process, they create a "Jesus" that amounts to a figment of scholarly imagination.

The statement that modern scholars have layers of baseless speculation, pointless doubts, and unfoundered thinking, is extremely POV, and will cast the counter-arguers in a particularly bad light making them look like childish idiots whose only argument for Jesus' historicity is to call their opponents names. CheeseDreams

Name calling? Good Lord, what a twisted viewpoint. Have you been reading anything as to modern secular works and debates on these subjects? They are full of nothing but continuous speculation, theorization, and conjecture, each more fabulous and incredible than the former!

Fabulous? Their accusation is precisely that. That the New Testament is a fable. CheeseDreams 05:52, 22 Dec 2004 (UTC)

The above statement is absolutely accurate - that the motivation of many of these writers is not to present accurate information, but rather to promote their own controversial views and sell books with "big splash", National Enquirer style hooks.

I have absolutely no idea what a National Enquirer is, but they do seek to present accurate information. This all happened originally in the 1920s, recent books are just people reiterating what was said then, and tidying them up a bit after more recent discoveries such as Nag Hammadi.

Any unbiased observer would agree with my POV on this matter. It's clear from your own edits of this article and the contents of this discussion page, as well!!

I would say, that the view that the bible was literal is motivated not by the desire to present accurate information, but rather to promote their own controversial views and sell religion with big splash tabloid style hooks. CheeseDreams 05:52, 22 Dec 2004 (UTC)
Indeed, SOME are eager etc. BUT, the theory of Jesus-as-syncretism, Paul-as-gnostic have been circulating for centuries, and are really not remotely new at all. Paul-as-gnostic is an idea known about since the 2nd century, for example (at the time it was denounced as "heresy"). So to try to denounce the theories as "trying to get a reputation for yourself" is really rather a weak argument, and will look like one too.

Eager? As blindly zealous to prove Christ didn't exist as they claim Christians are in their faith. Give me a solid ancient reference indicating 2nd century belief on the part of a majority of Christians that Paul was a gnostic.

The whole point is that the church deliberately burnt books and evidence against them, the only evidence of Marcion, for example, surviving in the comments about him in Irenaeus. When Arianism was declared heresy, the church had all its books burnt, very little, if anything, of them survives. With such total supression of evidence, it is terribly easy to forge history.
No-one knows what the majority of 2nd century belief is. We only really know that there are a group X (all of whom wrote or were quoted) who were probably the ringleaders of all the different viewpoints, and formed a variety of sub groups Za (gnosticism - marcionism), Zb (ebionites), Y (literalism).
As to what the majority was, no-one knows whether they believed X or not-X. Where X is any number of things, including Paul being Gnostic.
Besides, it is irrelevant. If they believed X, doesn't mean it is true. Many people believe things of different weight fall at different speeds, which is totally wrong.
However, I will point out that, for example, the church father Tertullian condemned Paul as the heretic's apostle. Others think that Simon Magus is actually a very thinly disguised Paul, and Simon Magus was totally condemned by the literalists. CheeseDreams 05:52, 22 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Your sources contradict themselves - on the one hand they claim that the writings of Paul are suspect and were written in the 2nd and 3rd centuries, and then you go on to say that in the 2nd century the NT canon was selected. Well, which is it? And so you claim that at the exact same time Paul was supposedly being condemned as a gnostic heretic, his heretical writings were selected to form the Bible canon for the NT. That makes about as much sense as the rest of your syncretism nonsense.

You seem to have confused the early 2nd century with the late 3rd. The canon was selected starting at the end of the 2nd century, but more significantly toward the end of the 3rd and start of the 3th. The time at which Paul would have been condemned as gnostic heretic is early 2nd, late 1st. And note that during this time his heretical writings were supplemented with forgeries, which, if you look at the content of those that are not undisputed are actually the ones which re-interpret the undisputed, and assert that gnosticism is against the church. Which is probably the reason the writings change from being heresy to not being so. Careful forgery. CheeseDreams 05:52, 22 Dec 2004 (UTC)
Arguments of the Ad hominem variety just make those who produce them look like childish idiots who have no proper argument. I don't think you really want to put this sort of thing into the article, it doesn't help the case for Jesus one bit. 81.156.92.220 23:48, 17 Dec 2004 (UTC)

For those who want to find him, the real Jesus can be found in the Bible.

POV. That isn't a convincing argument, its one from faith. CheeseDreams 23:48, 17 Dec 2004 (UTC)

You should read the Gospels without prejudice. Maybe you'd see the simple truth in that statement.

It implies that the real Jesus can be found. And that it is possible to do so via the bible. There are plenty of non-Canonical texts which may be the more true history. And there are plenty of arguments that Jesus did not exist. So to state that the real Jesus can be found in the bible is an argument from faith. CheeseDreams 05:52, 22 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Luke Johnson, professor of New Testament and Christian origins at the Candler School of Theology at Emory University, argues that most research on the historical Jesus misses the Biblical objective. He says that it may be interesting to examine the social, political, anthropological, and cultural contexts of Jesus’ life and era. Yet, he adds that discovering what scholars call the historical Jesus "is hardly the point of Scripture," which is "more concerned with describing the character of Jesus," his message, and his role as Redeemer.

So? This isn't about what the point of scripture is, its about whether Jesus existed or not. It is irrelevant whether scripture is to make every one really nice people etc. CheeseDreams 23:48, 17 Dec 2004 (UTC)

It is relevant because it presents both the view of an accepted Bible scholar as an authority, and the view of the mass majority of Gospel readers. (those whose waters have not been muddied with your contradictory, inflammatory, and baseless syncretism foolishness.)

But it doesn't address the question of the article. It addresses an entirely different issue. The question of the article is "did Jesus exist". The question addressed by the quote is "what is the message of Jesus". This is totally irrelevant to addressing the article, or the counterarguments to Jesus' existance, regardless of whoever it is that presents it, even if it were to be presented by God. CheeseDreams 05:52, 22 Dec 2004 (UTC)

"I have regarded Jesus of Nazareth as one amongst the mighty teachers that the world has had. . . . I shall say to the Hindus that your lives will be incomplete unless you reverently study the teachings of Jesus."—Mohandas K. Gandhi, The Message of Jesus Christ.

Teachings of, not teachings about. And saying "Jesus' sayings are quite good teachings" is not an argument that Jesus existed. CheeseDreams 23:48, 17 Dec 2004 (UTC)

It establishes that a great thinker and leader of our times believed that the writings had great merit. Great merit cannot come from outright forgery.

Why not? If someone wrote a text on the real life of the Buddha, for example, and wrote of late night orgies and drunkardly behaviour and riots, and someone else forged a mystical esoteric character who found wisdom, it is clear that the forged version had far greater merit than the original. CheeseDreams 05:52, 22 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Fiction, like Harry Potter, may be entertaining, but is not urged as necessary life reading by major religious and social leaders.

No, but All quiet on the western front was. And it was fiction. CheeseDreams 05:52, 22 Dec 2004 (UTC)

"A character so original, so complete, so uniformly consistent, so perfect, so human and yet so high above all human greatness, can be neither a fraud nor a fiction. . . . It would take more than a Jesus to invent a Jesus." —Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church.

The syncretism argument is one which shows similarities between Jesus and other religious figures. I.e. Jesus isn't original at all.

I defy you to provide any indication from a comparison of Gospel writings about the personality of the person, Jesus, presented therein, and anything from ancient pagan religions about the personalities of their deities.

I find it amusing you think there is no indication whatsoever of personality of pagan deities. Have you read the play The Bacchae?
Have you ever seen anything about the ancient greek tales of Heroes such as Herakles (Hercules once latinised) or of Jason-of-the-Argonauts ?

Jesus' message presents a lofty ethic. The gods of ancient pagan religions are uniformly presented as wicked and animalistic, prone to slaughtering their family members, usurping power, raping and pillaging, and all manner of despotic and tyrannical acts.

TOTALLY AND UTTERLY POV and Blood libel. See Unknown God, for example. And Brahman. And Ptah. And Isis. And Demeter. And Persephone. And Ahura Mazda. And many, many others. CheeseDreams 05:52, 22 Dec 2004 (UTC)
There are many many arguments about the LACK of constistency (e.g. Historiography of the Pauline Epistles, Authorship of John).

Surface impressions about lack of consistency can usually be overcome upon closer study of circumstance, culture and perspective on the part of the writers. The fact that perfect consistency is not found rules out accusations of collusion.

Except that it can't. For example, in the case of the pastorals, there is more difference than there is between the writings of the Marquis de Sade and those of E. M. Forster. Proving that the differnces can be overcome and that Paul consequently did write the pastorals is also proof that the Marquis de Sade wrote Brideshead Revisited. Which is totally implausible.
It is all too easy to dismiss textual criticism when you know nothing of it. CheeseDreams 05:52, 22 Dec 2004 (UTC)
Above human greatness? Why? To a non-Christian, why would Jesus be above human greatness? This argument vanishes totally if you are not a Christian. It is an argument that only works if you already believe it.

Again, READ the Gospels without prejudice. The ethic they present, the personality they present, is truly dynamic, positive, and inspiring. Ghandi wasn't a Christian, yet he stated that if the simple principles found in Matthew 5 & 6 could be followed by the people of the world, then we would have world peace.

Scholars have shown that the sermon on the mount can be decomposed into various parts of the mishnah and tanakh, and in fact really could easily have been composed by the author of the text quite easily from standard Jewish sources, and not requiring a new creator of the speeches, such as Jesus, at all. CheeseDreams 05:52, 22 Dec 2004 (UTC)
So, to a non-Christian scholar supporting the majority stance on historiography of the texts (i.e. that some particular new testament texts are extremely likely to have been forged), and the classicists argument on syncretism, this argument is terribly unconvincing. To go "so original, so consistent, so perfect...thus it would take more than Jesus to make Jesus", is in their eyes "as original as having a cold, as consistent as a schizophrenic, as perfect as my brother's wifes mother's uncle's dog...thus it would be terribly easy to make a Jesus".

"Majority" stance? On the part of whom? Those who defend their "higher" criticism just as dogmatically as some who defend the Bible? I submit that such persons are hardly credible sources.

Give me some quotes of your own, if you will.

A quote from me - Sam Spade is terribly bad at hiding his identity.
Another - Sam Spade is currently blocked from editing and should not do so under an anonymous IP, without declaring his identity
CheeseDreams 05:52, 22 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Upon what basis are the scriptures assumed to be forgeries?

Textual/higher criticism. The evidence is really quite extensive. But you would need to learn about textual/higher criticism properly to comprehend it. CheeseDreams 05:52, 22 Dec 2004 (UTC)

There are literally huge amounts of extant ancient manuscripts of the Bible, some dated as early as 41 CE.

No, there are not.
There are some ancient manuscripts of some parts of the bible.
The earliest version of the old testament exists in two forms - Septuagint and Masoritic text, they are in different languages, but they do not agree, and some have whole passages missing. Jesus quotes passages from the Septuagint which do not exist in the Masoritic (which is quite odd, since, as an aramaic native speaker he should use the Masoritic in preference to the greek Septuagint)
The earliest alleged piece of New Testament is a fragement alleged to be part of the gospel of John, called P51. It isn't very convincing evidence - it consists of only about 40 non-concurrant words. And it certainly doesn't evidence any lack of forgery. Its only 40 words. The rest could easily be completely different. The closest thing even resembling a whole text of the New Testament dates to the 3rd century. So there isn't really any evidence it existed at all in the 1st century, except of course that the 40 words from P51 existed, but that isn't much of a testament at all.CheeseDreams 05:52, 22 Dec 2004 (UTC)

On what basis do you claim that the NT is a forgery?

Textual criticism. And I do not claim that 100% of it is. That would be silly - there would have to be something genuine to compare the forgery to. Some of it must be genuinely written by someone, even if the remainder isn't. As to who that someone is is a matter of choice (of which bit you choose as the genuine bit, after all, the Pastorals could be genuine and the entire remainder of Paul's epistles fakes, though this is totally unlikely, for various complex reasons, including there being no point to the church faking the other ones if the Pastorals exist)
Arguments from faith are not good counter arguments. They only work for those that already believe them. They have zero effect on anyone else once the syncretism and historiography arguments are presented. You have to argue against syncretism and historiography to actually counter them. CheeseDreams 23:48, 17 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Belief in the historicity of Jesus is based on faith in what is read in the Gospel and NT accounts.

Faith isn't a reasonable argument. To go "Jesus existed" to the argument "Jesus did not exist because A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O, P, Q, R, S, T, U, V, W, X, Y, A, AA, AB, AC, ...." is really quite pathetically childish, and totally unpersuasive. CheeseDreams 05:52, 22 Dec 2004 (UTC)

It is also based on the massive amount of empirical evidence of his existence (eg. millions of believers, well-founded records of Christians and their beliefs, the writings of ancient historians, and so forth.) An article on the historicity of Jesus cannot be complete or accurate being founded solely on syncretism theories and speculation which is just as sketchy as you claim my faith to be.

There are millions of believers and records of their beliefs for hinduism. That doesn't mean Ganesh exists or existed. If it did, it would refute Christianity's claim of a non-Pantheon of gods. CheeseDreams 05:52, 22 Dec 2004 (UTC)
What writings of ancient historians? The incredibly dubious quotes from the two or three of them? Or the non-existent masses of them referring to Jesus? CheeseDreams 05:52, 22 Dec 2004 (UTC)
The syncretism theory isn't the whole article.CheeseDreams 05:52, 22 Dec 2004 (UTC)

"That a few simple men should in one generation have invented so powerful and appealing a personality, so lofty an ethic and so inspiring a vision of human brotherhood, would be a miracle far more incredible than any recorded in the Gospels." —Will Durant, Caesar and Christ.

Not really, someone invented Harry Potter on a train, and look at how inspiring many people think he is (n.b. equally many do not, just like christianity). This is an argument from faith not a reasoned counter argument. CheeseDreams 23:48, 17 Dec 2004 (UTC)

To equate Potter books with the Gospel displays a sickenly low standard of discernment. What kind of a barbarian are you?

What kind of barbarian are you, that you cannot understand that any two things are comparable. That you find the equation sickening, merely shows your lack of objective thinking, and your rather extremist POV with respect to Harry Potter. AND your total inability to comprehend the point of the argument. CheeseDreams 05:52, 22 Dec 2004 (UTC)

"It may seem incomprehensible that a globe-spanning religious movement could have been triggered by a nonexistent person dreamed up as the ancient equivalent of a marketing device, given the ranks of incontestably real people who have tried and failed to found faiths." —Gregg Easterbrook, Beside Still Waters.

Not really, Osiris-Dionysus was a massive religious movement, spanning the entire hellenic world (right to the edges, including Britain). And that was explicitely deliberately acknowledgingly made up as a marketing device for esoteric wisdom. And it is contemporary with Jesus. And the idea of Jesus is accused of being part of it. CheeseDreams 05:52, 22 Dec 2004 (UTC) 23:48, 17 Dec 2004 (UTC)

The beliefs you claim to be based on Jesus were not held by first century Christians, but were adopted later by the Roman Church as they were more and more effected by Greek philosophy. Take a big hint: Paul was a JEW.

Paul CLAIMED to be a Jew. Yet he grew up in Tarsus, the epicentre of the Osiris-Dionysus faith. The very centre of it. The most significant place in all of it. The centre of Hellenic teaching surpassing even athens according to Hellenic commentators. Paul cut his hair when making a voyage because he had made a vow - something that happened to be a practice by sailors due to a temple to a goddess at which they vowed their hair for a safe voyage. Doesn't sound terribly Jewish to me. Those 7 locations he sent his epistles to - all centres of Osiris-Dionysus versions - sounds more like a fellow Osiris-Dionysus co-religionist than a Jew. CheeseDreams 05:52, 22 Dec 2004 (UTC)

They believed in resurrection, not the immortality of the soul

They believed in sheol, an underworld. Now what is the point in that if the soul was mortal? CheeseDreams 05:52, 22 Dec 2004 (UTC)

and they believed in a Messiah, not a Sun-God.

A human Messiah, not a mystical godly one.CheeseDreams 05:52, 22 Dec 2004 (UTC)

They practiced MONO theism, not polytheism.

So why El AND Yahweh? And why are there two canaanite gods (amongst the pantheon) attested by ancient pre-1000BC sources called El (the high god) and Yaw (the god of the untamed seas, which fought Leviathon, and was later assigned by El to a certain tribe) whose arch-enemy is the canaanite god Baal?

And their Law (on which Paul was a zealous expert after the manner of the Pharisees, a student of Gamaliel) was completely unique in the ancient world in many respects. I deny your trumped up claims of common sourcing for Jewish beliefs as unsubstantiated and inaccurate.

It isn't a claim about Jewish beliefs. It is a claim about Christian ones. CheeseDreams 05:52, 22 Dec 2004 (UTC)

"As a literary historian I am perfectly convinced that whatever the Gospels are, they are not legends. They are not artistic enough to be legends. Most of the life of Jesus is unknown to us, and no people building up a legend would allow that to be so." —C. S. Lewis, God in the Dock.

C.S. Lewis was an evangelical Christian. So much so that he encoded Jesus into the chronicals of Narnia as the character of Aslan. He is not an unbiased witness at all, quite the opposite in fact. And that is the statement "they are not legends", it does NOT explain what the argument is that supports the claim. Its as rubbish a counter argument as quoting someone saying "Jesus did exist". CheeseDreams 23:48, 17 Dec 2004 (UTC)

He was a Christian, yes. But his point still stands. Read over ancient Egyptian and Babylonian myth, as expressed in extant ancient texts. Then read the Gospel accounts. How anyone could equate the two is beyond reason.

You clearly know very little of the myths. The thing you need to understand, that a lot of people get wrong, is that the various myths derive from different time periods and different parts of Egypt. What happened over time is that earlier myths got absorbed and distorted by bigger ones, eventually ending up as just 3 gods - Osiris, Horsus, Isis, and Set, the adversary. For example, Set started out as a good god, defender of Ptah (who merged into Osiris), but eventually absorbed all the evil gods he originally protected against. Horus, in particular, in this final form, has masses of similarities to Jesus. But, if you chose only one form, of course you will find little similarity, but this is because you have chosen a form dating 100s of years from before Jesus. Syncretism couldn't have happened then, it can only happen with the state Horus was in by the time of Jesus, i.e. when the massive similarities existed. Taking har-khuti (a form of Horus) for example, in isolation, pre-merge, is a fallacy, as it didn't exist seperately when syncretism would have occurred. CheeseDreams 05:52, 22 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Jesus’ character comes through in the Gospel accounts with a decided ring of truth. It would not be easy for four different individuals to concoct an out-of-the-ordinary character and then present a consistent portrait of him throughout four distinct narratives. It would be nearly impossible for four different writers to describe the same person and consistently paint the same picture of him if that character never really existed.

Completely missing the argument. The scholarly argument is that they all based their narratives on the gospel of Mark. I.e. there is only 1 independant witness - Mark (see Markan priority. Plus total invention and propaganda in the case of John (see Authorship of John). Plus a collection of sayings (the Q document), which are no more convincingly attributable to Jesus than to anyone else (apart from the claim that Jesus said them). Many parts of Q, in fact, appear to be copies of other people's wisdom, such as Aesop. So, in fact, all you have is Mark's testimony, and a collection of sayings (which may not actually originate with Jesus, though he may have quoted them).
So, unless you produce a counter argument against Markan priority, the claimed forgery of John, then this argument falls apart.
Besides, it falls apart anyway. How many writers have you seen who have written about the myth of Santa Claus? Just because people write about it independantly, doesnt mean it exists. Santa Claus does not go down chimneys. Yet people still write that he does. Many many more than 4 people, yet it still is no evidence whatsoever for the accuracy of the fact. CheeseDreams 05:52, 22 Dec 2004 (UTC) 23:48, 17 Dec 2004 (UTC)

There is no massive body of literature supporting Santa Claus. He is known to be a myth.

Yes there is. Have you seen all those texts, magazine articles, childrens stories, films, etc? CheeseDreams 05:52, 22 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Jesus Christ, on the contrary, is not generally held to have been a myth even among the majority of secular authorities.

Yes he is. Jesus is not, but Jesus Christ is. CheeseDreams 05:52, 22 Dec 2004 (UTC)

The general consensus is that a man named Jesus did exist. Your arguments are as unfounded as you claim mine to be. The difference is, I placed my comments here, I didn't shred the main article.

With regard to Markan priority, it should be brought out that the hypothesis was only generated in the 19th century and was based on a series of supposed inconsistencies which when closely examined can be shown not to be inconsistencies at all, or to be based on translation/scribal errors. The higher critics assumed the Gospel records to be false, and proceeded accordingly. That assumption is the clear indicator of their bias, and the downfall of all their arguments.

No, thats completely and totally wrong. The theory is based on consistencies, in fact indentities, NOT inconsistencies. Quite the opposite. It is because they are similar, and NOT that inconsistent in certain areas, that they are considered to have a single source. It would make no sense whatsoever to go "they are inconsistent, so must have the same origin". CheeseDreams 05:52, 22 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Historian Michael Grant asks a thought-provoking question: "How comes it that, through all the Gospel traditions without exception, there comes a remarkably firmly-drawn portrait of an attractive young man moving freely about among women of all sorts, including the decidedly disreputable, without a trace of sentimentality, unnaturalness, or prudery, and yet, at every point, maintaining a simple integrity of character?" The reasonable answer is that such a man really existed and acted in the way the Bible says. (In part copied from various sources) TTWSYF

Or that the man was an allegory. Or that the new testament actually avoids mentioning anything remotely sexual at all, connected to anyone, suggesting the authors had prudish tendencies, rather than that they were reflecting historical people. Or just simply that the writers were inventing a story about someone who had integrity?
This really isn't a good argument at all, not even remotely. CheeseDreams 23:48, 17 Dec 2004 (UTC)

I'd like to see you write a story with anything even nearly approaching the integrity of the main character of the Gospels.

There was a nice cat which had a lot of integrity. The end.
Easy. CheeseDreams 05:52, 22 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Let's see a paragraph even one iota as moving as the simple words of Matthew or John.

(This is genuinely true) In 1984 the third world war was prevented by a russian commander who three times chose to ignore his computer's insistence of a pre-emptive strike by america. He was not meant to be on duty

It is terribly easy to criticize and tear down, hypothesize wild theories and spout them (or as in your cae, regurgitate them.) Is it far more difficult than you assume to create such a lofty vision of humanity as found in the Gospels.

It is far easier to assume that the Gospels provide a lofty vision of humanity, than that they do not. CheeseDreams 05:52, 22 Dec 2004 (UTC)

It is far easier to believe that they were in fact based on a spectacular human being.

Indeed. Far far easier. Lazyness does not begat truth. CheeseDreams 05:52, 22 Dec 2004 (UTC)

While I'm ranting on and whacking the critics, here is one more:

Union Bible Companion, published in 1871, by S. Austin Allibone: "Ask any one who professes to doubt the truth of the Gospel history what reason he has for believing that Cæsar died in the Capitol, or that the Emperor Charlemagne was crowned Emperor of the West by Pope Leo III in 800? . . . We believe all the assertions . . . made respecting these men; and that because we have historical evidence of their truth. . . . If, on the production of such proof as this, any still refuse to believe, we abandon them as stupidly perverse or hopelessly ignorant. What shall we say, then, of those who, notwithstanding the abundant evidence now produced of the authenticity of the Holy Scriptures, profess themselves unconvinced? . . . They do not wish to believe that which humbles their pride, and will force them to lead different lives."

Thanks to all, and to all a good night. TTWSYF


I was hoping for something a bit more substantive than this whole section. Thats a straw man argument. Easy to destroy. What is the real counter argument? There must be one surely? And if there isnt, that should tell you something. 81.156.92.220 23:48, 17 Dec 2004 (UTC)

This is so pathetic. That is such a rubbish counter argument.

Let me give a helpful hint at a slightly better one that someone in the 19th century created.

Since europe is almost exactly the same as it was before, monarchs in their usual places, etc., prove Napolean ever existed, and wasn't a conspiracy by the leaders of the powers.

CheeseDreams 23:48, 17 Dec 2004 (UTC)

You have failed to prove Jesus never existed, let alone Napoleon. Napoleon himself believed that Jesus was the greatest leader of men that ever lived.

Im telling you that an argument that Jesus did exist would only really be of reasonable standard if it was based on the same principles or standards as one that Napolean did. CheeseDreams 05:52, 22 Dec 2004 (UTC)
Two things... one: "A character so original, so complete, so uniformly consistent, so perfect, so human and yet so high above all human greatness, can be neither a fraud nor a fiction. . . . It would take more than a Jesus to invent a Jesus." —Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church. - and this is supposed to help your case that the article isn't balanced??

The words of experts in support of a historical Jesus have as much paucity in your version of the article as you claim with regard to secular records of such. How can you claim your article on gnosticism and syncretism is at all balanced? Pshaw, here's a quarter.

Rd232 didn't write the article.
two: in ref to Allibone - we're prepared to believe the relatively believable claim (it doesn't require supernatural phenomena!) that Charlemagne was crowned in 800, on the basis of a range of sources, including many not written by his followers. If we had some documents claiming that Charlemagne was the Son of God, written by some followers of his and with minimal support from anyone else, historians would be equally sceptical about those claims as they are about those concerning Jesus. Rd232 20:48, 17 Dec 2004 (UTC)

81.156.92.220 is my IP address for today, by the way -- CheeseDreams (it logged me out)

Missing the point completely. THere is far more evidence of Jesus than there is of Charlemagne.

No, actually there isn't. At least Charlemagne left demonstrable results, such as hemming the border with spain, and founding the borders of france, and eastern border of germany. Someone created an empire that streched across europe, resulting in the frankish integration of Latin called French, as well as stable external borders, and internal borders of many nations, which in some cases remained unchanged until after Napolean. This someone may as well be called Charlemagne.
Jesus on the other hand didn't do anything permanent. All we have are some texts by some authors (none of whome were Jesus). If anything resulted from Jesus, it is due to them reporting it, not Jesus. If they hadn't existed, Jesus wouldn't have been reported, and Christianity would not exist. But this is evidence for them, not for the subject of their tales. CheeseDreams 05:52, 22 Dec 2004 (UTC)

"Syncretism this..." "Gnosticism that..." Blah blah blah. Your rhetoric is boring. And your arrogance is astounding. I presented the words and views of real experts and persons who have been viewed as leaders and great thinkers. You present your own theories, a blending of criticisms and circumstance, prejudice and parlance. Who do you think you are? Give us your credentials. You remind me of those coders who claim that by playing with numerics and sentences in the ancient texts they can predict modern events, such blather.

You remind me of someone with a closed mind who asserts that blind faith is a reasonable counter to scholarly argument, and refuses to listen to reason, pure or otherwise.
If those are your experts, and that is all they say, then your case is very weak indeed. Ask an independant non Christian, if you won't believe me. CheeseDreams 05:52, 22 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Show me any scholarly sources or well-known historians (like Will Durant) who actually lend any creedence to all this syncretism stuff. It's like saying because there are similarities between man and apes, man must have descended from them. Such statements blissfully overlook the fact that DNA coding remains static

No, it totally doesn't. How do you think Genetically Modified crops work? - What is it that you think the Genetic modification is, if it isn't genetic modification? CheeseDreams 05:52, 22 Dec 2004 (UTC)

despite all our best attempts to mutate them, and the gap between the consciousness capability in our brains and that of any animal is as vast as the crossing of the galaxy. Apes are animals, and behave in a beastly manner, lacking true reason; they are motivated by immediate need and instinct rather than by any higher principle or order;

Absolutely no evidence of this at all. Particularly with respect to the counter evidence from Dolphins. CheeseDreams 05:52, 22 Dec 2004 (UTC)

they will never accomplish anything like art, beauty, love, or the excellent and compelling writings

They will if they don't need to rely on things like hands to do it. CheeseDreams 05:52, 22 Dec 2004 (UTC)

of the Gospels. Humans should be expected to behave better than Apes,

But humans do not. Apes are gentle respectful creatures. CheeseDreams 05:52, 22 Dec 2004 (UTC)

and reason better than Apes. But today we see such a strong movement for humans to work towards imitating the Apes in all their barbaric need for immediate satisfaction in everything. This includes the manifestation of wanton disrespect and lack of understanding for the greatest works of art and literature, the Bible among those works.

To consider the bible a great work of literature is terribly POV, and counter to all the evidence. Some of it is quite good, but other parts are really badly written, difficult to read, dull, and inelegant. The whole point about being a great work of literature is that none of these things should be true. CheeseDreams 05:52, 22 Dec 2004 (UTC)

"Cheesedreams" is about it. Cheesy and dreamy.

I was rather under the impression that CheeseDreams were a form of nightmare. CheeseDreams 05:52, 22 Dec 2004 (UTC)
At which point we come to the nub of the matter. A rejection of the theory of evolution is a triumph of irrational belief over science (I won't even dignify your nonsense about it with a response, as it's not appropriate here.), not unlike someone who religiously lives their life by the horoscopes. Take a breath and imagine a reversal of this discussion, where we're on the page Historicity of Aphrodite, and I'm arguing that you're dismissing the evidence of Homer for no good reason, especially as it's one of "the greatest works of art and literature"... Seriously, you cannot be neutral about this, and you should be aware of that. If you don't get that, you don't get the nature of faith, which is the basis for your belief in Jesus, not all this evidential stuff, which is post-facto justification. But as an encyclopaedia we take non-faith as a starting point because that is the neutral position. There are entire institutions devoted to promoting Christianity - and they don't take a neutral approach, for obvious reasons. If you want your faith reaffirmed, go there. If you want the matter examined from a neutral POV - an idea you either pay lip service to and don't really believe in (for this page) or don't fully understand - stay here. But stop bringing up non-evidential pro-Jesus things as some kind of "balance"; this isn't journalism, where different POVs are balanced. The entire thing should be NPOV linguistically and structurally - a scientific approach which (see above on evolution) clearly bothers you. I can understand that applying it to your faith bothers you - but deal with it. Rd232 11:31, 18 Dec 2004 (UTC)
Homer is at least a proper narrative, written in a consistent style. That comparison is unfair. To Homer. CheeseDreams 05:52, 22 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Which clearly manifests your POV! "Triumph of irrational belief over science" what a load... Your superior attitude is grinding. There is about as much evidence for the theory of evolution as there is for this gnosticism/syncretism foolishness. Do your homework before blasting anyone for not believing in evolution - more and more authorities on the subject are denying the theory all the time as new findings as to the extreme complexity of life on this planet come to light. Evolutionists are just as "faithful" (Have just as much "triumph of irrational belief over science"?) as they claim believers in creation are. Do you claim the article with all this Paul and etc. stuff was NPOV? I didn't submit my material into the main article BECAUSE I knew it presents POV, unlike Cheesdreams. My allegory with regard to apes and man was meant to indicate the foolishness of her Osiris/Jesus theory. Evolutionists are like the tailors in the "Emperor's New Clothes" - they build castles in the air, and claim that anyone that can't see them must be "ignorant"... I have "dealt with it." And I dealt with Cheesedreams, too.

That is so not true. Masses of people believe in evolution, and there are not masses of people deserting it. In fact, MORE PEOPLE BELIEVE IN EVOLUTION THAN IN JESUS. CheeseDreams 05:52, 22 Dec 2004 (UTC)
Point to make: Regardless how foolish someones viewpoint of that subject, as long as its well documented by anyone. It should be shown in an encylopedia. By the way, IMOH, you are trolling.

I'm defending myself, not trolling. I'm not here to drum up controversy - but everything in this article, heck most of what we read in the entire work, presents someone's point of view. This whole "Pov/NPOV" debate is therefore moot. If the POV of an accredited authority claiming Jesus was not a real person can be presented, then why can't the POV of an accredited authority who claims Jesus was a real person be presented?

It isn't about presenting a POV. Its about presenting what the argument is. The POV is irrelevant. It is the argument that matters. You are not presenting an argument, you are presenting opinions of faith, irrelevant to the argument. CheeseDreams 05:52, 22 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Can anyone claim all the re-writes (none of which were my doing, by the way, I added information to the TALK page, which I feel was the proper course of action) with regard to this mass of gnosticism/syncretism theory didn't present a POV? Come on... It seems that any POV can be presented, as long as it assumes Jesus was either a myth or didn't exist; as long as information is presented comforting the crowd as they follow the currently "comfortable" general secular viewpoint. Every account of history, every evolutionary concept, every account of an archaeological discovery, and yes every reference work is written from someone's point of view.

Only if it is written by a someone who doesn't try to supress it. And only if written by one of them. CheeseDreams 05:52, 22 Dec 2004 (UTC)
Oh, Why the bickering then? I thought this part of the section was to organized the best way to present and summarize pro-Jesus viewpoints? Regardless how anyone feel about anything. The writer of the article should not be bias but viewpoints of the sources can be. Why don't you present all the facts and let the readers draw a conclusion if Jesus exist or not? IMHO, Cheesedreams is pointing out that some of your citation maybe inadequate to counter her arguement. Why? Because it comes writer who are already bias in nature. She probably wants one citation that comes from a non-christian source perhaps.

I presented Ghandi. Can anyone provide a source supporting syncretism/gnosticism that doesn't come from one of the schools of "higher' criticism? i also presented the Encyclopaedia Brittanica. If you read my rebuttal or her arguments, you'll see that her claims are as shaky as she claims mine are... What supports can she put forward for them? The contents of the letters of Paul, when taken as a whole, cannot be reasonably purported to support gnosticism.

But that is failing to take into account, perhaps deliberately, that 2/3 of modern scholars think that about half the letters of Paul are forgeries. The whole point is that when you take this into account, the remaining letters, taken as their whole, can easily be purported to support gnosticism. CheeseDreams 05:52, 22 Dec 2004 (UTC)

But that's not even on-topic in a discussion about the historicity of Jesus! There are claims about the supposed paucity of secular records as to Christ. So show me 1st, 2nd or 3rd century Roman records disputing whether the man really lived - ? So we see, then, that there is some secular evidence that he did live, and none indicating any early claim that he did not. Scientifically, the end result is a clear indication that he probably did live. All that other stuff is non sequitur.

No, a sample of 5/6/7 is not scientific evidence at all. A sample of 5/6/7 in this case doesn't even meet basic statistical criteria for sample size. Have you any idea how non-significant 5/6/7 it is in this instance - see Normal Distribution. CheeseDreams 05:52, 22 Dec 2004 (UTC)
I'm not sure Ghandi is a good source. Did he specifically say he believe Jesus exist? Or He just mention his teaching would benefit all and bring world peace. Still, Ghandi did not document his "process of reaching" the conclusion that Jesus exist. (I don't know how to put in the right words) He didn't right? Although his statement may imply Jesus exist since it could be an oxymoron if someone say Jesus teaching could bring world peace but Jesus may not exist. IMHO, I think Ghandi is a weak source at best. But it could lend credentials that Jesus's teaching is valuable but not the accuracy of Jesus's history. - Chris
Not really, someone could write that Harry Potter's teaching would benefit all and bring world peace. But that does not count as evidence that Harry Potter exists. CheeseDreams 05:52, 22 Dec 2004 (UTC)
That was exactly my point - --C2Sane 12:54, Dec 22, 2004 (UTC)
By the way, I do agree the lengthy discussion about Paul and gnosticism should be moved and be replace by a summary of the scholar who thinks that Paul thinks that Jesus does not exist. I think thats what the article Paul+Gnosticism is trying to imply. IMHO, I think all statements of such claims should be accompany by a scholars name (they must claim such statements) to avoid being an 'orginal work'. That way there is no confusion at all. May I remind that the accuracy of Jesus's history is still unresolved so the readers should draw their on conclusion.- Chris
One of the main scholars in the Paul & Gnosticism field is Elaine Pagels. She is a bit old now. CheeseDreams 05:52, 22 Dec 2004 (UTC)
Did Elaine Pagels herfself claim that Christianity was originally Gnosticism or she just pointed out that Gnostics writers uses Pauls letter as their evidence of such claim? I admit I have never read any of her book but I was looking at their back covers through amazon.com - --C2Sane 12:56, Dec 22, 2004 (UTC)

"Debates about words" are a waste of time. Your scholarly arguments are no more substantial than mine, and my quotes are from accredited and well-respected sources. None of it is new research; the quotes may represent POV but that of scholars and respected authorities. All notwithstanding. I am not this "Sam Spade" or whoever you think I am. I'm a Bible scholar and history buff with the Wiki name of TTWSYF - which I've used to sign my additions here and there all over. I think that the fact that your powers of perception are seriously limited is borne out by your insistence that I must be this person, who apparently you have been at odds with in the past. (More Draconian article edits?) Anyways, I am distancing myself from this debate. It is meaningless, and without real worth. The article, in it's present form, is acceptable. TTWSYF

New Temp page to work on new draft

Rd232 has kindly created a temp page for us to work on, at Historicity of Jesus/Temp. Can I request everyone look at this page? It looks pretty NPOV, but could use some cleanup. - Ta bu shi da yu 04:37, 18 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Ta bu shi da yu has moved the Temp page to the main page. I wouldn't have done this yet (still a bit early draft) but let's see what people say and where it goes. Rd232 11:38, 18 Dec 2004 (UTC)
Yeah, sorry about that. I should have mentioned it. Forgot to. - Ta bu shi da yu 13:34, 18 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Peer review comment

Haven't seen this article before; came over from the peer review list. Just one comment for now -- the opening sentence says that Jews accept the existence of Jesus based on writings in the Torah. First of all, the Torah formally only refers to the first five books (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy). These books predate the time of Jesus by several hundred to several thousand years, and do not mention anything about Jesus. The correct reference would be the Talmud. On that point, though, the Jewish Records section (1.4) says that the Talmudic references to Jesus are not specific, unclear, and very limited (not to mention that they don't match anyone else's understanding of Jesus the historical person). From what was written here (and I have no external knowledge on this point) it seems highly questionable that the Talmud was referring to Jesus the historical person at all. It seems like the article is contradicting itself on this point.

Thanks for listening; just trying to help out so I'm trying to stay out of the evident fray. Bantman 18:22, Dec 18, 2004 (UTC)

Um, you're probably right, and it should be removed. But is there not any Jewish/Talmud position on who was the rightful king of the Jews at the time? The Bible has two (albeit contradictory) genealogies to prove this. Rd232 19:10, 18 Dec 2004 (UTC)
I have absolutely no idea why that statement is in there in the first place. I didn't put it in. Someone must have added it. It seems highly POV.
W.r.t. righful heir, the more generations there are between the last king, and the current time, the more claimants there are. So after such a large gap, in the first century AD there would have been really rather a lot of claimants, and determining who was the rightful heir as the firstborn of the firstborn of the firstborn, etc. would be terribly difficult, if not impossible. CheeseDreams 05:52, 22 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Cheesedreams, the Jews kept detailed genealogical records in the temple in Jerusalem. These clearly bore out who was the firstborn son of whom and so forth. TTWSYF

My understanding is that the Talmud does not attempt to keep track of who is "king of the Jews" at any particular time, except as it affects laws or traditions (the primary concerns of the Talmudic writings). As for other Jewish sources, they may or may not exist (Josephus, I believe, was a Jewish historian of the time who may have said something about this)... the point I'm trying to make is that it appears erroneous to say that Jesus' existence is affirmed in Jewish scripture. He is not mentioned in the Torah, and any Talmudic reference seems questionable at best; I do not know of anything else in the Tanach, Mishnah, or Midrash either. I am sure there are later writings by Jewish scholars on the subject, although I am not specifically aware of any, and in any case they would not be contemporary sources. Bantman 05:27, Dec 19, 2004 (UTC) (forgot to sign)
On the basis of Bantman's comment I'll remove the Judaism part of the first sentence (I only added it based on what was written elsewhere in an earlier version). Rd232 11:23, 19 Dec 2004 (UTC)
In which case I probably removed it in the first place, due to its extreme POV pushing.

One of the genealogies traces the heritage of Joseph, the other that of Mary.

No. Not true. They both claim to be genealogies of Joseph in the text.
P.s. the genealogies are irrelevant if Joseph isn't Jesus' blood father, as his genealogy wouldn't count in that case, Jesus not actually being related to Joseph. So in fact, only one of them can be Jesus' genealogy, unless he had a human biological father. If they are both Jesus' genealogy, then one is wrong. If one is not, then it is irrelevant, and has no point existing in the text. CheeseDreams 05:52, 22 Dec 2004 (UTC)
Yes - I don't know how I could forget that. It's one of the best pieces of evidence that the virgin birth is a later Gnostic idea, probably due to Paul. Rd232 09:09, 22 Dec 2004 (UTC)
No, the Luke genealogy is generally thought to be Mary's. It begins with the words (in Luke 3), "23Now Jesus Himself began His ministry at about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph, the son of Heli, ..." Luke acknowledges the general opinion that Jesus was Joseph's son, but does not endorse it, having already related the story of Jesus' virgin birth. The reason Joseph's genealogy was given in Matthew and that he is mentioned again in Luke, is that the Jews traditionally traced such things through the male ancestors, and Matthew in particular was concerned with showing how Jesus fulfilled the Jewish prophets. And of course, both these gospel writers affirm the virgin birth, as well as a physical resurrection. The gnostics would have seen no benefit at all for a physical resurrection, thinking that man's body is a prison for the soul. Wesley 12:48, 22 Dec 2004 (UTC)
Sorry, I used Gnostic as careless shorthand for "wider influences like mystery religions, including Gnosticism." Rd232 14:06, 22 Dec 2004 (UTC)
"The Jews generally traced such things through male ancestors"? AFAIK this isn't true today and wasn't then. As for the Gospels, it would be amazing if the versions we have today did include outright statements contradicting a major Church doctrine. That they describe separate genealogies - most obviously one for Mary and one for Joseph - was apparently too fundamental to Jesus' claim to be Messiah/King of the Jews to be edited out. (BTW, what does Mary's genealogy - if that's what it is in Matthew/Luke - have to do with fulfilling Jewish prophecies? And how does it square with the "just a simple carpenter's son" idea?) Rd232 14:06, 22 Dec 2004 (UTC)

There are *many* things in the Gospels that out and out completely contradict Church doctrine, Rd232. This fact flies in the face of the higher critics presumption that the written word "must" have been modified over time. They didn't modify the text - they just prevented it from being translated into the common languages. They knew that if the common people could read the scriptures, they could clearly discern the difference between Church doctrine and the written word. To me, this makes clear that these ideas of textual modification over time (already completely unsubstantiated) are false. They are convenient for those who wish to discredit the Bible record - but they are false, and cannot be supported under scrutiny. TTWSYF

Some comments

At present the article says: "Judaism sees him as a false teacher and false Messiah." This statement makes it sound as though there is a "central authority" for Judaism, or the functional equivalent of a "pope" for Judaism, and that some position on the status of Jesus has been taken by this competent authority. Who claims to speak for all of Judaism? Nobody would claim to be the 'speaker for all of Islam', but there is a position on the matter in the Koran that surely is regarded as authoritative by believers in Islam. Maybe the author was trying to suggest that "the consensus of opinion among recognizes scholars/teachers in Judaism is that..."? Some citations should be given to establish the truth in this matter. P0M 09:05, 26 Dec 2004 (UTC)

I'm not quite sure how to characterize the writing in the first paragraph. I've tried to make it clearer and cleaner without losing its NPOV status. I hope that if each part is made as clear as possible there will be less cause for misunderstanding and dispute. P0M 00:07, 31 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Relevance of paragraph

"Christianity's dominance was finally enforced by a decree in 394 (by Theodosius), completely banning non-Christian religion. After the ban, mithraeum (the Mithras temples) were converted into churches, and according to certain scholars specifically Mithraic beliefs transferred to the archangel Michael, since the previous adherents of Mithraism still continued to worship in the same location, just claiming to be Christian." Given that this is about the historicity of Jesus (and not about early 4th century Church history), what has this got to do with the article? - Ta bu shi da yu 04:50, 6 Jan 2005 (UTC)

It should probably be moved to one of the syncretism and Christianity type articles. It might even be duplicated in one of them. Wesley 05:40, 6 Jan 2005 (UTC)

RE: Nazarene vs. Nazirite

I added the sentence "In addition, early Jewish records (c. 1st to 2nd century C.E.) show that Jewish spiritual teachers were assigned to a small town in the region of Galilee identified as Nazareth, confirming the existence of the village as early as the latter part of the 1st century." to the end of this section; Jayjig promptly removed my addition. To follow is a synopsis of information (well known to those up-to-date on this issue) with regard to the early Nazareth's proven existence. The sentence claiming Naz. didn't exist until the 4th century should be removed - Naz.'s 1st century, and earlier, existence has been conclusively proved. I move that my sentence be replaced (with modifications; I recognize now that the source may not be a Jewish record as I had supposed but is an archaeological finding), or that the section be stricken in it's entirety.

NAZARETH RESEARCH "Despite the Hellenization of the general region and the probability that Greek was known to many people it seems likely that Nazareth remained a conservative Jewish village. After the Jewish war with the Romans from AD 66-70 it was necessary to re-settle Jewish priests and their families. Such groups would only settle in unmixed towns, that is towns without Gentile inhabitants. According to an inscription discovered in 1962 in Caesarea Maritima the priests of the order of Elkalir made their home in Nazareth. This, by the way, is the sole known reference to Nazareth in antiquity, apart from written Christian sources... (next paragraph) Some scholars had even believed that Nazareth was a fictitious invention of the early Christians; the inscription from Caesarea Maritima proves otherwise." Paul Barnett[BSNT], Behind the Scenes of the New Testament, IVP:1990, p.42.

"Despite Nazareth's obscurity (which had led some critics to suggest that it was a relatively recent foundation), archeology indicates that the village has been occupied since the 7th century B.C., although it may have experienced a 'refounding' in the 2d century b.c. " ([MJ]A Marginal Jew--Rethinking the Historical Jesus, (vol 1), p.300-301)...cites Meyers and Strange, Archeology, the Rabbis, and Early Christianity, Abingdon:1981. pp.56-57

Galyaah Cornfeld, Archaeology of The Bible Book by Book .(NY: Harper and Row 1976) p. 284 "What concretely about first century Nazereth? In the first two centuries AD it was a modest village built on Rocky soil in a valley far from the main trade routes [this was before Sarapis was discovered]...Two excavations, one led by Fther P. Viaud the other by Bagatti led to the discovery of the traditional site of the annunciation to Mary and the place which Jesus frequented as a growing lad...excavations of inscriptions there bear witness to a Jewish Christian cult of Mary from the very earliest times..." Some of those inscriptions also go back to the middle of the first century and identify the place as that of Jesus' boyhood home!

Excavations of Naz

Nazaraeth The Village of Jessu, Mary and Joseph

Franciscan cyerspot

http://christusrex.org/www1/ofm/san/TSnzarc2.html

The church of the Annunciation stands over the extreme southern end of the ancient village. Having examined the site occupied by the church of 1730, the outline of the Crusader church became clearer. In the northern nave the Crusaders had left the rocky elevation of the grotto and between two pilasters had made a stairway to the shrine. The excavations of 1955 unveiled the plan of the Byzantine church. Orientated as that of the Crusaders, it had 3 naves, with a convent to the S and an atrium to the W. It was 40 m. in length. Delving under the Byzantine construction the franciscan archaeologists found plastered stones with signs and inscriptions, which certainly formed part of a preexisting building on the site.

THE CHURCH-SYNAGOGUE

The remains found under the byzantine construction led the Franciscn Archaeologists to conclude that prior to this period the Christians had already constructed a place of worship at this site. Excavations revealed also a primitive baptisimal font a mosaiced floor, and a flight of seven steps that led down towards the grotto. Next to the shrine, to the West of it, another cave transformed into a devotional site came to light.

This grotto, known as that of deacon Conon (from the name inscribed in a mosaic found here), yielded not only some graffiti on the walls but also decorated plaster. Four or six layers of plaster covered these walls. Fortunately in the third layer of plaster the archaeologists found a coin of the mid-IV century. The underlaying plaster then goes back to the primitive buildings on the site, always prior to the mid-IV century. The decorated plastered walls depicted flowers and plants which Frs Bagatti and Testa identified with an allegoralical representation of paradise, in this case of an anonymous martyr venerated at the site. A big lettered inscription on the wall, painted in red, reads: "Lord, Christ, help your servant Valeria...and give the palm to pain...Amen". Other graffiti bear witness to the christian devotion pre-dating the crusaders. One of them reads "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, help Geno and Elpisius, Achille, Elpidius, Paul, Antonis..servants of Jesus".

Furthermore, architectural elements and decorations suppose the construction of a "public" building, which the archaeologists identify with a church-synagogue. Among these architectural remains the archaeologists found various graffiti and among them one of special interest. Scratched on the base of a column appeared the greek characters XE MAPIA (read: Ch(air)e Maria). Translated as: "Hail Mary". Recalling the angel's greeting to the Virgin, this inscription is the oldest of its kind known to us. It was written before the Council of Ephesus (431) where devotion to Mary received its first universal impulse. Other graffiti, all jelously conserved at the adjacent museum, confirm the Marian nature of the shrine. One in armenian reads "beautiful girl" (referred to Mary) and another one in greek reads "on the holy site of M(ary) I have written".

The Latest Excavation 1996

SUMMARY OF EXCAVATIONS OF THE NAZARETH VILLAGE University of the Holy Land http://www.csec.ac.uk/dig.html

In November 1996 Stephen Pfann of the Center for the Study of Early Chistianity identified an ancient wine press associated with agricultural terraces on the grounds of Nazareth Hospital and the land adjacent to it. Potsherds were found on the surface of the terraces dating from various periods beginning with the early to late Roman period. An archaeological survey of the surface of the land adjacent to Nazareth Hospital was conducted in February by Ross Voss, R. Michael Rapuano, Stephen Pfann, and Jan Karnis, all from the Center for the Study of Early Christianity. Two distinct areas were identified which are defined by the type of terracing found there.

The first season of Excavation took place April 22nd until May 6th 1997 under the auspices of the Center for the Study of Early Christianity and under the joint directorship of Ross Voss and Stephen Pfann. Subsequent seasons of excavation have been conducted each spring since, with an additional short period of excavation in October 1998.

Location: the southern and eastern slope of the hill below the hospital. The terracing was built upon a rock slope. This was cut previously by surface quarrying which seems, at first, to have been planned to prepare level platforms for the terraces and to provide stone for building structures or terrace walls. The terrace walls were built of oval limestone fragments the size of an American football and smaller. The rough surface of each stone would suggest that these were not carried in from surrounding wadis (rocks from which would have a smooth surface). This suggests that the stones were likely quarried and shaped from the local limestone with impact devices (perhaps hammers and hatchets).

The terraces here are in a poor state of preservation due, in part, to the type of terrace wall that was constructed. However, this does not mean that the terraces were poorly or carelessly constructed, as the following factors indicate: (1) Great effort was exerted to level the stone surface for the building of each terrace. (2) Care was taken to produce a uniform oval shape and size of the stones. This insures a certain uniformity to the contruction of the terrace wall as well as uniform spacing between the stones in order to allow proper aeration and drainage of the soil of the terrace itself.

Terrace walls which are made of stones which fit together in this way tend to need more maintenance than those made of cut and fitted stones (as in a "wet farm"). This would indicate that the type of farm which existed here was an unirrigated "dry farm". This type of farm relies upon watering by rain and dewfall which is supplemented by hand watering from run-off rainwater. The rainwater has been channeled into the small pools (and perhaps cisterns?) which have been identified among the terraces.

The soil of the terraces (only fragments of which have been preserved) seems, at this preliminary stage of our study, to have been layered with soils of at least two consistencies (as has been noted in other terraces found in the farms around Jerusalem - per G. Edelstein). The overall depth of the soil over much of this area is relatively shallow. This would suggest that vines were the primary crop intended for cultivation on such terraces. However certain terraces were deep enough to raise olive trees and many still survive on these terraced slopes today.

Typical crops of the dry farm would have been olives, grapes, figs, almonds, wheat and barley. Observable structures on the site: wine-press, base of watchtower, pools with channels, agricultural terraces and stone quarry. 1 column drum type crushing stone.

Location: To the southwest contiguous to the first area but divided by a small water-worn valley and continuing across the full length of the slope facing the the first area (interrupted in part by recently constructed homes). It is a homogeneous area built with terraces of sturdy construction. The terrace walls are formed from semi-dressed stones carfully fitted together and strengthened with chink stones. The walls are revetted, leaning slightly backwards into the soil of the terrace.

This type of construction normally supports what would typically be a "wet farm", irrigated directly from springs or pools. This allows the terrace to bear the heavier burden of water laden soil for crops which require irrigation. Typical crops would include legumes and leafy vegetables.

Most of these beautifully preserved terraces are also deep enough to allow the cultivation of larger trees. (cf. the carob trees which exist there which are likely a more recent crop on these slopes).

The ruins of three watchtowers surmount the walls of three separate terraces. Structures: Three watchtowers, agricultural terraces. Possibly farmhouse, aqueducts, a threshing floor and a tomb (all need to be investigated). 1 column drum type crushing stone.

Area C: Another part of the dry farm.

Above and to the west of Area B lay a series of dry-farm terraces which originally ascended to the crest of the hill. Earlier construction of private homes, the recent construction of a road and the current construction of apartments has either covered or obliterated most of the terraces associated with this area. Three of the remaining terraces were investigated. We learned from these terraces the long history of the terrace farm at Nazareth Village. Pottery was found from the 1st to the 3rd cent. as well as the 11th to the 12 cent. AD. Local residents remember beans, lentils and carobs being harvested only decades ago.

Areas A, B and C in summary

The valley along with its slopes likely comprises the property of a single family's farm which produced a variety of crops. This includes both areas A, B and C. The center of the farm should be identified with the watchtowers, the terraces and the water dispersement system. Most of the extent of the original farm is therefore almost entirely preserved. This farm remains the most important, and perhaps the only, witness to the life and livelihoods of the ancient Nazarenes. It remains today as the last vestiges of virgin farmland directly connected with the ancient village of Nazareth.

The watchtowers which housed staff, animals and equipment served to protect the nearby crops. It would be from here that the growing crops would be carefully monitored by a family member, a servant, or a hireling. At the time of harvest the various families would shelter here from the heat of midday, and during the evening, the sounds of story-telling, music and singing could no doubt be heard.

On these terraces was the sound of the singing of families in the vineyard at the time of harvest. The sound of the flute echoed as the workers stomped the grapes at the winepress. It was here that inquisitive children would play and watch life on the terraces. It was here that a certain boy Jesus of the village of Nazareth formed many images. It was these images which he would later bring to mind as spoken in parables concerning God's relationship with man and of the great hope of His Kingdom.

Further archaeological and preservation work will be needed to add to the story and to better understand the rural life of the original Nazareth Village. If preserved this farm will freeze history in time and provide for both resident and visitor a important link for the city of Nazareth and its rich Biblical heritage.

Nazareth: Doorstep to Metropolis

From Jesus to Christ: Frontline, PBS http://www.pbs.org/wghb/pages/frontline/shows/religion/maps/arch/

Tradition pictures the world of Jesus as a peaceful and pastoral place, governed by the ancient rhythms of field and farm. But recent archaeological evidence has revealed a different environment, one influenced by city life and marked by political unrest and protest. These discoveries began to emerge twenty-five years ago, when a team of archaeologists, including Eric and Carol Meyers, began to excavate a city located less than four miles from Nazareth, easily accessible in an hours walk. The city is Sepphoris. It was destroyed in a political feud in about 4 BCE -- the approximate date of the birth of Jesus -- and it was rebuilt during the time that Jesus was growing up nearby. Known as the "ornament of the Galilee", Sepphoris was wealthy, sophisticated and predominately Jewish. An elaborate system of water works kept residents supplied with fresh water; satellite villages such as Nazareth may have kept it supplied with food.

Among the most striking finds was a large Roman villa with an impressive main room probably used for dining and entertaining. The floor is covered with an elaborate mosaic, or "colored carpet", that features scenes from the life of Dionysus, the Greek god of the vine and of the theater. But the most striking image is that of a young woman known as the "Mona Lisa" because of her elusive beauty and enigmatic smile.

What impact did proximity to Sepphoris have on the life of Jesus? Scholars disagree. Tradition describes him as a carpenter or tekton. If so, then Jesus might have been employed in rebuilding the city. Meyers speculates such employment would have required Jesus to speak Greek, in addition to Hebrew and Aramaic. "Jesus was tri-lingual," he says. "You couldn't deal and wheel, either in the workplace or in the market without knowing a good deal of Greek. And I can hardly imagine anybody worth their salt who wouldn't know some Greek."

L. Michael White: Professor of Classics and Director of the Religious Studies Program University of Texas at Austin

Where did Jesus grow up and how would that have affected his world outlook?

Jesus grew up in Nazareth, a village in the Galilee. Now the Galilee, by most of the traditional accounts, is always portrayed as a kind of bucolic backwater ... cherubic peasants on the hillsides. And yet, our recent archaeological discoveries have shown this not to be the case. Nazareth, itself, is a village ... a small village at that. But, it stands less than four miles from a major urban center, Sepphoris. Now, we see Jesus growing up, not in the bucolic backwater, not... in the rural outback, but rather, on the fringes of a vibrant urban life.

And what kind of a city or town was Sepphoris?

Sepphoris was founded as the capitol of the Galilee. And so, it was really invested, much like Caesarea Maritima, with all the trappings of Greek or Roman city life as a major center of political activity for that region of the country. As a result, the excavations at Sepphoris have found extensive building programs, theaters, amphitheaters, and that sort of thing, just like Caesarea. What this tells us about the story of Jesus, though, is that Jesus himself would not have been far removed from that vibrant intersection of Greek culture, on the one hand, and traditional Jewish homeland culture on the other.

How cosmopolitan was Sepphoris? Was it multi-lingual?

Sepphoris seems to have been a very cosmopolitan city. We know that it was at least trilingual and maybe tetralingual. That is to say we know that they spoke Aramaic, the vernacular language of most people of the Jewish homeland, but Greek was also quite prominent as well. Some people probably used Latin, although not very many, one would guess. And maybe there are some other languages floating around in the immediate vicinity, as well, because of the various kinds of people that would have gone through Sepphoris. Sepphoris stood right on the major overland route between Caesarea, on the coast, and the Sea of Galilee.

Now, you may have mentioned this, but did they discover weights in different languages in Sepphoris?

The impact of this cosmopolitan trade center, Sepphoris, can be seen from the fact that weights were found, presumably from the marketplace. On one side of the weight, it's registered in Aramaic, on the other side, in Greek. Showing that people could be reading it from whichever tradition they might have come.

(The importance for the argument here on histoiricity of Jesus is that even if Jesus was brought up in a single family farm he still lived four miles from a city. So that is no kind of proof that he never existed. As though people from the country can't exist.)

Letter from Mayor of Nazareth

http://www.answering-islam.org/Bible/nazareth.html 

Sometimes some Muslims pick up on a very outdated atheist critique that Nazareth didn't even exist in Jesus time. Here is a response from a resident of Nazareth, February 1998. Perhaps the Muslim "scholar" referred to the fact that there was no Christian Church in Nazareth until Queen Helena, Constantine's mother came through Nazareth on her famous Holy Land trip in the fourth century and had the little basilica built over Mary's Well to mark the spot of the annunciation by the angel Gabriel. They were recently repairing the road in front of the Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation at Mary's Well in Nazareth. They discovered earlier ruins in the process, so now the whole plaza in front of the church is now an archeological site and you cannot drive a car through!

Down the road in the center of town the huge Basilica to the Annunciation built by the Roman Catholics preserves as its altar the first Century cave home of the Virgin Mary and its foundations are built over numerous cave dwellings. They have a little archeological museum with artifacts found during this period. Up the hill is the Church of Joseph built over caves which they claim were used as carpenter shops. Across the street the Sister's of Nazareth Hospice is built over an ancient first century or earlier grave with the huge rolling stone door still in place. A block away (modern term!) the Greek Catholic Church in the market is built next to the ancient synagogue that Jesus read the Torah in and the people took him out to throw him off the hill the city was built on.

So, anyone with eyes to see needs no proof of the existence of Nazareth in the first century and many centuries earlier! Nazareth was know as a city of refuge, tucked away in a mountain valley above the Valley of Meggido, or Esdraelon. It was a sleeply little hollow less than 2-3 miles from the metropolis Zippori where Mary's mother was from. Zippori has recently been excavated by Duke University and is now one of the largest archeological sites in the country which shows first century and earlier synagogues and homes with beautiful mosaics still intact. There is debate about the location of Cana of Galilee, about five miles down the road from Nazareth toward Tiberias. The present Cana may not have been the site in the first Century. The site was moved in the early Christian centuries because the original site (Tel Kana) was unreacheable in the winter when the Natofa Valley flooded from the winter rains. The modern site does contain artifacts from the early Roman period. But the original site, which a local Muslim friend of mine took me too, is about three miles across the Natofa Valley in Tel Kana, which by the way, is also a network of cave homes.

I can assure you the local Muslim villagers who live at these sites and use many of the caves for their stables do not doubt their authenticity! Dr. Ray Register (who lived in Nazareth for 25 years)

(Just some various soruces I pulled together, previously compiled on several sites.) I have additional references, as well. I find it interesting that atheists often try to claim that Nazareth did not exist as part of their attack upon the existence of Jesus - even recent claims have included this argument, when in fact it has been conclusively disproved. These persons, in their fervent desire to support their own lack of belief, use strong language and sardonic words in support of their arguments, but their evidence is often unsupported, as in this case. Seeing this, a feeling of skepticism towards the remainder of their arguments is easily engendered. TTWSYF

Which of these sources quote recognized archeological sources specifically stating that the city of Nazareth existed in the year 1BCE, or a time near that date? Jayjg | (Talk) 00:42, 7 Jan 2005 (UTC)
These sources are well resepcted. Did you read them? If you want a further one, here you go:

Consult the article "The Sources of the Old Testament Quotation in Matthew 2:23" by Maarten J. J. Menken, published in the Journal of Biblical Literature, VOLUME 120, No. 3 Fall 2001, pp. 451–468 and available online.

Please review the following quotation from Lee Strobel's interview with leading NT archaeologst John McRay:

Strobel brought up the claim of skeptics regarding the alleged non-existence of Nazareth during Jesus' day: This absence of evidence paints a suspicious picture. So I put the issue directly to McRay: "Is there any archaeological confirmation that Nazareth was in existence during the first century?"

This issue wasn't new to McRay: "Dr. James Strange of the University of South Florida is an expert on this area, and he describes Nazareth as being a very small place, about sixty acres, with a maximum population of about four hundred and eighty at the beginning of the first century," McRay replied.

However, that was a conclusion: I wanted the evidence. "How does he know that?" I asked. "Well, Strange notes that when Jerusalem fell in A.D. 70, priests were no longer needed in the temple because it had been destroyed, so they were sent out to various other locations, even up into Galilee. Archaelogists have found a list in Aramaic describing the twenty-four 'courses,' or families, of priests who were relocated, and one of them was registered as having been moved to Nazareth. That shows that this tiny village must have been there at the time."

In addition, he said there have been archaeological digs that have uncovered first-century tombs in the vicinity of Nazareth, which would establish the village's limits because by Jewish law burials had to take place outside the town proper. Two tombs contained objects such as pottery lamps, glass vessels, and vases from the first, third, or fourth centuries.

McRay picked up a copy of a book by renowned archaeologist Jack Finegan, published by Princeton University Press. He leafed through it, then read Finegan's analysis: "From the tombs ... it can be concluded that Nazareth was a strongly Jewish settlement in the Roman period." McRay looked up at me. "There has been discussion about the location of some sites from the first century, such as exactly where Jesus' tomb is situated, but among archaeologists there has never really been a big doubt about the location of Nazareth. The burden of proof ought to be on those who dispute its existence."

That seemed reasonable. Even the usually skeptical Ian Wilson, citing pre-Christian remains found in 1955 under the Church of the Annunciation in present-day Nazareth, has managed to concede, "Such findings suggest that Nazareth may have existed in Jesus' time, but there is no doubt that it must have been a very small and insignificant place." (Strobel, The Case for Christ - A Journalist's Personal Investigation of the Evidence for Jesus [Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, MI, 1998; ISBN: 0-310-20930-7], p. 103)

The name of Jack Finegan's book which McRay cited from is The Archaeology of the New Testament (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1992), p. 46. Ian Wilson's book is titled Jesus: The Evidence (1984; reprint, San Francisco: Harper-SanFrancisco, 1988), p. 67.

Is your POV clouding your decision to remove my very well founded attempt to clear away these POV attitudes towards the existence of early Nazareth, Jayjig?? It is a well-established fact among educated archaeological circles that the atheistic claims that Nazareth didn't exist in the first century are false. It is not "nonsense" - the fact has been clearly shown. TTWSYF

Let's see, you quote Strobel who quotes McCray who quotes Finegan; fourth hand evidence via Strobel is hardly credible. As for the other evidence, you quote Strobel quoting Wilson, who says "Nazareth may have existed in Jesus' time." Hardly the ringing endorsement for its existence that you claimed all archeologists agreed to, when you originally stated "archaological findings have proven the existence of Nazareth as an agricultural village from the 7th century B.C.E. onward, and that the village did indeed exist and was inhabited in the first century of our common era.", much less your current claim that its existence has been "conclusively proved." Please briefly respond with direct evidence which conclusively proves the existence of Nazareth below in the new section I've created for this. Jayjg | (Talk) 19:30, 7 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Are you stoned? Did you READ any of the references I put above? Ok, just read the FIRST paragraph after the words "NAZARETH RESEARCH" - a direct quote from a respected archaeological/historical source (Paul Barnett[BSNT], Behind the Scenes of the New Testament, IVP:1990, p.42.)

Ok, here's another book readily available at any city library: Jack Finegan (well-resepcted archaeologist) The Archaeology of the New Testament (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1992), p. 46.

Or another: Ian Wilson - Jesus: The Evidence (1984; reprint, San Francisco: Harper-SanFrancisco, 1988), p. 67.

Do I have to spell it out any further for you? What more do you need? These are secular references, but a certain scripture comes to mind. 2 Co. 4:3,4. Check it out. TTWSYF

First of all, you keep claiming that there archeologists agree that Nazareth existed at the time, so "a certain scripture" is not relevant to your claim. Second, please quote, I repeat, quote the archeologists in this book who say that Nazareth has been conclusively proved by archeologists to have existed around the year 1 BCE. I'm not looking for names of books, I'm looking for a direct quote from a book which backs up your claim. Jayjg | (Talk) 00:00, 9 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Sources that should be included

If we want a balanced article, I think we should at least be looking at what William Lane Craig has to say about the historical Jesus. See [4] and The Evidence For Jesus. - Ta bu shi da yu 04:05, 7 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Lane craig

I have had a look at lane craig's articles. Most were bizarre and irrelevant to the topic.

As is your syncretism article, but I'm not removing it. - Ta bu shi da yu 02:50, 9 Jan 2005 (UTC)

On the topic in question, his arguments are

  • The myths to which Jesus is compared are derived from ideas about crops and astronomy
Yes? And? The implication of the comparison is that elements of ideas of Jesus are ultimately derived from ideas about crops and astronomy.
  • The parallels are wrong
Stating "you are wrong" without explaining why is not a counter argument and quite childish.
  • There wasn't enough time between the events and the recording of them for legend to get mixed into them
Mark is usually estimated as being written in 70-100 AD. Which is 40 years after the events. There is ample time for legend to get mixed in, especially as there are no videos of the events, especially if they were mixed in deliberately. The other 2 synoptics are thought (Markan Priority) to be re-writings of the Gospel of Mark and not independant. John is thought to be a dubious forgery, based on a general oral memory of the gospel of Mark, Luke, and Matthew, dated to about 120AD.
There are no videos? Bwahahaha!!! I'm shocked! That thing about John is disputed, incidently. Bruce Metzger, author of the "Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament" writes that the passage is "obviously a piece of oral tradition" and that it "has all the earmarks of historical veracity." John Gilchrist of Answering Islam (OK, not the most unbiased source in the world, but nonetheless a source) also denies this, see [5]. And yet, I never see you adding this information.
As for saying that 40 years is enough time for legend to be added, well, I see that differently. Incidently, you are getting that 40 year stuff from Karen Armstrong in A History of God, and again her views are not undisputed (though you make out it is). Bloomberg stated that within 40 years many of the original witnesses were still alive and would have been able to refute any legend that had cropped up. And besides, in Ancient History most of our knowledge is from sources written many hundreds of years after the events, yet the sources are still counted as reasonably reliable! - Ta bu shi da yu 03:30, 9 Jan 2005 (UTC)
"...within 40 years many of the original witnesses were still alive..." - dubious, given first century life expectancy and repeated violent events in Palestine. Even if they were around, they may have been scattered all over the place. And in the absence of the internet, their actual views wouldn't necessarily have been widely-known; there's plenty of room for 10th-hand retellings becoming a kind of Chinese Whispers. Rd232 17:09, 9 Jan 2005 (UTC)
"in Ancient History most of our knowledge is from sources written many hundreds of years after the events..." - I don't think this is true. Most of our information comes from contemporary sources (and archaeology). Contemporary sources being copied multiple times is not the same as being written from scratch, especially for sources not subject to significant editing because of contradiction with prevailing ideology. Rd232 17:14, 9 Jan 2005 (UTC)
True, but I was under the impression that we gathered much of our information from documentary sources. For instance, and correct me if I'm wrong, don't we know most of what we know about Alexander the Great from Arrian (c92-c175), Plutarch (c.45-c.120), Quintus Curtius Rufus (in the first or second century AD), Diodorus Siculus (in about the 1C BC) and Callisthenes (c. 360-328 BC), Ptolemy (c. 85 – c. 165) and Cleitarchus (who wrote History of Alexander between 310 and 301BC). Alexander the Great lived between 356 BC till June 10, 323 BC. None of these accounts are infallible and most of them were written many years after his death, yet most historians have been able to piece together his life pretty well. Those sources were also copied many times, yet as far as I'm aware there is not a great deal of controversy over this work.
I was also under the impression that historian have pieced together thousands of copies of letters, etc. from the Bible and made judgements as to the veracity of that information based on a variety of criteria. Again I might be wrong, but I've heard this before. I notice that none of this information is in this article. - Ta bu shi da yu 23:19, 9 Jan 2005 (UTC)
  • The Jews had an ample oral tradition to accurately preserve information
The accuracy of such information is highly disputed by most scholars, for example, the documentary hypothesis implicates one group of Jews (P) as forging an alternative account of history than the earlier version (JE). The secondary hypothesis following the documentary hypothesis is that Chronicles is a forged account to re-write Joshua-Kings in a light to suit the Aaronid priesthood. This isn't an implication that has been easy to shift, and most scholars consider it true. Further, this implies that the recording of events was highly liable to POV forgery even when a written text, stating a different opinion, existed.
So what are you saying? We should not be adding what Lane Craig has to say?
  • The disciples continued to exist so would have restricted any lies against history.
Unless Jesus is not historical and the disciples followed a gnostic Osiris-Dionysus religion, in which case they would have created the parallels and falsifications for the very purpose of their religion. Which is the point of the argument. If an argument is "X wasn't real, Y invented X getting the ideas from Z", then the argument "X is real, because Y existed it prevented anyone making things up from Z" isn't a good counter argument, in fact it totally misses the point alltogether.
That is highly dubious, and as I can see this is how you have been rewriting the article. You basically tried to restructure the article with this as your central hypothesis and push this POV on us all. Which is why I presented evidence against you at ArbCom and is why you have been given a temporary injunction on editing Christian articles. - Ta bu shi da yu 02:50, 9 Jan 2005 (UTC)
The above should be explained more clearly as it is obviously not understood by certain groups reading this article.
  • The Gospel has a track record of historical accuracy
On what? The gospel of John gets certain elements of Judaism it describes totally wrong. There was no slaughter of the innocents by Herod according to most historians, there is no evidence for it except the bible, unusual given the significance it would have had. Pilate was one of the most evil people in history, not a nice puppy that was twisted by an evil crowd. How is that historically accurate?
How is it not? I love the way that you say "most historians" but then never quote any. And you never try to find the opposing view. - Ta bu shi da yu 02:50, 9 Jan 2005 (UTC)
  • Most scholars have stopped contesting the idea that Jesus used miracles.
That is a complete lie. Most secular scholars do not accept that Jesus was supernatural.
Can't speak one way or another about that one. - Ta bu shi da yu 02:50, 9 Jan 2005 (UTC)
  • Rejecting the assumption of non-supernaturality proves jesus existed.
No. Total non-sequitur. For example, assuming that it is possible for supernaturality does not prove that Harry Potter is a real person.
  • The Gospel of Thomas is inaccurate gnostic nonsense made up in the 2nd century.
The Gospel of Thomas is a collection of sayings. A significant proportion of the sayings appear in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, to the extent that it gives credence to the idea of Q, which scholars think may have been its source. If the gospel of thomas is total made up nonsense then that implies that the presence of the sayings in the gospels is as well, since there is little more to the gospel of Thomas than sayings.
Wow. So what your saying is that the authors of the Gospel of Thomas didn't read the Gospels of Matthew and Luke and then add the sayings into the Gospel of Thomas and distort them for their own purposes. Hmm. - Ta bu shi da yu 02:50, 9 Jan 2005 (UTC)
  • Politically correct assumptions are inappropriate.
Although partly true, starting off without normal biases is a more reasoned neutral approach
  • The Jesus Seminar (a group of clergy) claim to have greater validity than the clergy
They claim validity because they do not start from arguments from faith, but approach the topic rationally from the position lets assume that the world is normal not supernatural and see where that leads. They base the validity of this perfectly reasonable scientific assumption as that should it be wrong, their studying should produce a counter example, a failure of their hypothesis. It did not.
Perfectly reasonable?
No. Not perfectly reasonable. They approached the text with their own assumptions and biases. Their first assumption (as is your own) is that the Biblical accounts are not accurate. So much for no biases! Then, they take things like miracles and discount them as they don't believe they could happen. So they get rid of that text. Then, they make the assumption that the early church made up the words of Jesus and added them to the texts. Suffice it to say that what the Jesus Seminar brought forth is disputed.

So what are the counter arguments that actually address the syncretisms and gnosticism rather than just going don't be silly? CheeseDreams 19:18, 7 Jan 2005 (UTC)

So, you are saying that we shouldn't be adding his viewpoints to this article, when your own evidence is tenuous at best? I mean, look at your own "evidence". One of the statements in Jesus, pre-4th century Christianity, and syncretism is that there are 12 tribes of Israel, and the Pythagoreans found 12 to be a significant number because "12 is the maximum number of spheres of a fixed size which can be placed simultaneously in contact with a sphere of equal size", etc. Based on this and other material Jesus is the new syncretism! Wow! Compelling.
I'mm going to add the Lane Craig stuff in once I research it a little better. I'll be writing it neutrally and won't try to push the point. - Ta bu shi da yu 02:26, 9 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Irenaeus wrote against the "Gnostics" of his day and described them as a 2nd century apostasy from true Christianity. This is very early reporting on the subject, and to my mind, should be viewed as very accurate. Irenaeus also wrote about a secular book called "The Acts of Pilate" in which he encourages any to examine a secular record of Jesus and his works. This book doesn't survive to our day - but that an apologist should confidently encourage nay-sayers to examine that work as a support for Christ (Irenaeus was encouraging people who claimed Jesus *miracles* were false to examine what the book said on this subject, there is no indication people claimed *Jesus* didn't exist) speaks strongly for a general feeling in the 2nd century that, not only did the man exist, but his miracles were viewed as fact as well. Atheists hate it when I point that out. TTWSYF

"conclusively prove Nazareth existed"?

Please briefly quote a direct source which states that archeology has conclusively proved that Nazareth existed at the end of the 1st century BCE. So far you've given 3rd and 4th hand sources which at best say it may have existed then, or a century later. Jayjg | (Talk) 19:26, 7 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Hmmm. I didn't read everything, but if he quoted Barnett then that is a reasonably well respected source. Can't say much one way or another apart from that. - Ta bu shi da yu 03:09, 9 Jan 2005 (UTC)
I've added some info about the findings of the current excavations- they're not conclusive, but it's the best there is. One other point is that the Gospels were written in the first or early second centuries, so arguing that they managed to accurately predict the location of a settlement only founded two centuries later is pretty impressive. I haven't added this as I'm struggling to NPOV it- do people think it's relevant, and if so, can someone suggest a sensible wording please? --G Rutter 09:51, 10 Jan 2005 (UTC)
This assumes the Gospels make unambiguous reference to Nazareth (not Nazarene), and that such ref was there originally, not added by later interpolation. I'm not at all convinced about that. Rd232 16:23, 10 Jan 2005 (UTC)
Luke 2:39 reads, "So when they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own city, Nazareth." This clearly indicates that Nazareth was thought by the author to be a city. Matthew 2:23 reads, "And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, "He shall be called a Nazarene." which also clearly indicates that Nazareth was a location, as do other passages. This part is easy to verify. As for all these place references being later interpolations, is there any scholar, group or other person who suggests this? I haven't heard of any, but I certainly haven't heard everything. Wesley 06:34, 11 Jan 2005 (UTC)
Matthew 2:23 doesn't sound a priori dodgy to you? It sounds to me like one of the things prophesied is that the Messiah will be a Nazarene, and Matthew (or a later editor) doesn't know what that actually is, and comes up with the "city of Nazareth" assumption. As for Luke 2:39 - are we even sure that's the right translation? Rd232 09:44, 11 Jan 2005 (UTC)
All four verses cited in the text of the article use the term "Nazareth" or "Nazaret" in the Greek, not an adjectival form that we might assume to have been a corruption of Nazirite. For instance, Luke 2:39: "Kai hws etelesan panta ta kata ton nomon kuriou, epestrepsan eis ten Galilaian eis polin heautwn Nazareth." (Completely literally, "And, when they had completed all the [things] according to the Lord's law, they turned back into Galilee into their city Nazareth.").
The Barnett cite, which is in there now, indicates that the village existed towards the end of the 1st century, which is a far cry from the original claims being made. GRutter, I don't understand the point you are trying to make, could you explain it again? Jayjg | (Talk) 16:11, 10 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Here's a second hand quote (slightly better?) from the above massive amount of quotes: "Despite Nazareth's obscurity (which had led some critics to suggest that it was a relatively recent foundation), archeology indicates that the village has been occupied since the 7th century B.C., although it may have experienced a 'refounding' in the 2d century b.c. " ([MJ]A Marginal Jew--Rethinking the Historical Jesus, (vol 1), p.300-301)...cites Meyers and Strange, Archeology, the Rabbis, and Early Christianity, Abingdon:1981. pp.56-57 A direct quote from Meyers and Strange would be better, if anyone has a copy handy. Wesley 06:46, 11 Jan 2005 (UTC)

I reccomend that when dealing with Christianity, don't use the words conclusively proved anywhere, there are a variety of problems with any position taken. --metta, The Sunborn 15:35, 11 Jan 2005 (UTC)
I think direct quotes are better, and in any event what Meyers and Strange might have believed 25 years ago is not indicative of archeological thought today. Apparently some of their claims about Nazareth were already being downgraded a decade after their work was published: "Earlier estimates suggested that it contained as many as sixteen hundred to two thousand inhabitants (Meyers and Strange 1981:27, 56), but more recent estimates have suggested five hundred (Stanton 1993:112)." [6] Regardless, it is better to quote Meyers and Strange than "archeologists". Jayjg | (Talk) 18:27, 11 Jan 2005 (UTC)
In that case I think we should quote the other authors. - Ta bu shi da yu 10:33, 12 Jan 2005 (UTC)
Which other authors do you mean? Jayjg | (Talk) 16:46, 12 Jan 2005 (UTC)

With regard to prophecies that the Messiah would be a Nazarene (or from the region of Galilee) likely the first century writers were thinking of the prophecy in Isaiah 9:1 and 2 (quoted here from NWT version) 9 - "However, the obscureness will not be as when the land had stress, as at the former time when one treated with contempt the land of Zeb´u·lun and the land of Naph´ta·li and when at the later time one caused [it] to be honored-the way by the sea, in the region of the Jordan, Gal´i·lee of the nations. 2 The people that were walking in the darkness have seen a great light. As for those dwelling in the land of deep shadow, light itself has shone upon them." This is a Messianic Prophecy - the indication was that the Christ was to be from that region. As well, the word here for "Nazarene", Hebrew "Nots·ri´" and Gr., "Na·zo·rai´os"; is probably from Heb. "ne´tser", meaning "sprout," hence, figuratively "offspring." All this in reference to a series of verses in the Hebrew Scriptures referring to the Messiah as a "sprout" or "offspring" -

(Isaiah 11:1) And there must go forth a twig out of the stump of Jes´se; and out of his roots a sprout will be fruitful.

(Isaiah 53:2) And he will come up like a twig before one, and like a root out of waterless land. No stately form does he have, nor any splendor; and when we shall see him, there is not the appearance so that we should desire him.

(Jeremiah 23:5) "Look! There are days coming," is the utterance of Jehovah, "and I will raise up to David a righteous sprout. And a king will certainly reign and act with discretion and execute justice and righteousness in the land.

(Zechariah 3:8) "'Hear, please, O Joshua the high priest, you and your companions who are sitting before you, for they are men [serving] as portents; for here I am bringing in my servant Sprout!

TTWSYF