Talk:Historicity of Jesus/Archive 27

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Journal for the Study of the Historical Jesus

It would seem to me that the above-named journal would be an excellent source for material regarding this subject. WorldCat here indicates that there seem to be quite a few copies available, if anyone is interested. John Carter (talk) 17:08, 25 August 2010 (UTC)

Sources for contemporaenous evidence sentence

Per SlimVirgin's [1] request: [2], [3] Flash 19:09, 25 August 2010 (UTC)

Those sources don't contract the material you're objecting to. Please provide a high-quality source here of someone saying there is contemporaneous evidence of Jesus's existence (writing by him or by someone who is known to have had personal knowledge). SlimVirgin talk|contribs 19:31, 25 August 2010 (UTC)


Five "contemporaneous sources" of potential information present themselves when we begin to investigate the Jewish myth of Jesus. Flash 19:45, 25 August 2010 (UTC)

Furthermore, can you provide the exact quote? Google books does not have a preview of the book so I cannot verify the source. Flash 19:38, 25 August 2010 (UTC)
Thanks for providing the quote; the source does say that Jesus did not write anything, but it did not say that anyone with any personal knowledge of him did not. The sentence "nor did anyone with personal knowledge of him" is never explicitly said the source. Flash 19:59, 25 August 2010 (UTC)
That's exactly what it says. SlimVirgin talk|contribs 20:06, 25 August 2010 (UTC)
You seem to be googling at random. Could you instead provide a high-quality source (e.g. historian) here, not just a link, but name, book name, page number, and a quote that contradicts what White says? SlimVirgin talk|contribs 20:08, 25 August 2010 (UTC)
Where in that quote does it say that nobody with a personal knowledge of Jesus wrote anything? Flash 20:10, 25 August 2010 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── I'm not aware of anyone disputing that, but if someone (historian or similar) does, could you please provide a quote here? If someone who knew him had left an account, we wouldn't be having these discussions. :) White writes that there is nothing from the days of Jesus himself:

This is one of the problems with the story. We have no writings from the days of Jesus himself. Jesus never wrote anything, nor do we have any contemporary accounts of his life or death. There are no court records, official diaries, or newspaper accounts that might provide firsthand information. Nor are there any eyewitnesses whose reports were preserved unvarnished. Even though they may contain earlier sources or oral traditions, all the Gospels come from later times. Discerning which material is early and which is late becomes an important task. In fact, the earliest writings that survive are the genuine letters of Paul. They were written some twenty to thirty years after the death of Jesus. Yet Paul was not a follower of Jesus during his lifetime; nor does he ever claim to have seen Jesus during his ministry" (White, L. Michael. From Jesus to Christianity. HarperCollins, 2004, pp. 3–4).

SlimVirgin talk|contribs 20:17, 25 August 2010 (UTC)

The burden of proof is on the editor to show that what is written in the article reflects the sources. That there are no sources contradicting it is not a reason for inclusion. Flash 20:30, 25 August 2010 (UTC)
I've given you a mainstream academic source who says there are no contemporaneous accounts: that means no accounts within his lifetime, no eyewitnesses, no one who knew him. It is not a contentious point, not something that other scholars contradict. If you're saying I'm wrong about that, you'll need to produce something. SlimVirgin talk|contribs 20:36, 25 August 2010 (UTC)
Your source is not making the same claim you are - note: "Nor are there any eyewitnesses whose reports were preserved unvarnished" it seems tat he is saying that there are eyewitness reports but they are "varnished". Hardyplants (talk) 20:41, 25 August 2010 (UTC)
If that's your understanding of "no writings from the days of Jesus himself," please provide a source that disputes what White is saying. I don't understand why people are doubting what he says without a source, without knowledge. His English is plain, his credentials excellent, and in all my reading about this I have never found anyone who disputes it. That is why there is a debate about Jesus's existence, because the reports are all hearsay (hearsay about hearsay). SlimVirgin talk|contribs 21:20, 25 August 2010 (UTC)
I have never seen anyone argue that there are "writings from the days of Jesus" - all positions are clear on this that there none. But what is disputed is that there were no eyewitnesses that were used as sources. Hardyplants (talk) 21:25, 25 August 2010 (UTC)
He says: "Jesus never wrote anything, nor do we have any contemporary accounts of his life or death." That is very clear. But these discussions have to be sourced-based, so could you provide a quote from an academic source that backs up your concerns? SlimVirgin talk|contribs 21:28, 25 August 2010 (UTC)
Then that's what the article should say instead of "he did not write anything, nor did anyone with personal knowledge of him". Flash 21:50, 25 August 2010 (UTC)
Here is one: Craig S. Keener in The Historical Jesus of the Gospels|url= (3rd par) My time in limited right now - so will add more later. Hardyplants (talk) 21:59, 25 August 2010 (UTC)
Exactly. Some scholars thinks that Luke thinks that Mark might have ... it is hearsay. A contemporaneous account is our possession of Plato telling us directly: "Socrates was my teacher. Here is what he taught me." It is not: "Someone believes someone else thinks that Plato may have said that ..." SlimVirgin talk|contribs 22:31, 25 August 2010 (UTC)
Please don't just google some key terms, and then dump a link here as a source. ReaverFlash also needs to stop that. Give the quote and context that you think should be an important influence on the article. Noloop (talk) 22:23, 25 August 2010 (UTC)
I second that. It's awkward trying to find the text the editor might be referring to. SlimVirgin talk|contribs 22:31, 25 August 2010 (UTC)

I'll be glad to crack open some of my books later tonight to see what they have to say (Ehrman, Meier, Theissen, JS, etc). I believe White is representing a pretty common, mainstream view. Basically all scholars accept that Jesus did not write anything, and most consider that the gospels and other similar early Christian writings (and other sources) were not written by eyewitnesses. But it won't be hard to find conservative Christian scholars defending church tradition, that the gospels were written by eyewitnesses, or those working with eyewitnesses (Matthew and John were apostles, Mark was Peter's secretary, Luke traveled with Paul, etc). BTW, these are probably the same people who doubt Q. And if you think it is important enough to mention that conservative Christians doubt Q, then we should probably add their views regarding apostolic authorship of NT books. But at some point, we leave the realm of history, and get into apologetics/theology. Do we need to balance every mainstream claim with what apologists say (while most critical scholars think X is a later Christian interpolation, apologist Y think it is the God's honest Truth). Anyway, Donald Guthrie and D. A. Carson are people who I can name off the top of my head who defend traditional authorship. One of them may be on record saying something related to eyewitnesses and the Jesus tradition.-Andrew c [talk] 22:25, 25 August 2010 (UTC)

But Paul wasn't an eyewitness either. I'd really appreciate a quote from a historian, rather than argument or links produced from google searches. SlimVirgin talk|contribs 22:36, 25 August 2010 (UTC)
For the record, I think the phrasing we have is fine, personally, and I don't think we need to always qualify the mainstream position, even if it is possible to do so.-Andrew c [talk] 23:15, 25 August 2010 (UTC)

SlimVirgin, you seemed to have overlooked my point from earlier. Why does the article say "Jesus did not write anything nor did anyone with personal knowledge of him" instead of the phrasing in the source: "no contemporary accounts"? Flash 22:39, 25 August 2010 (UTC)

Flash, the reason is that "no contemporary accounts" implies things the passage does not say and more importantly would be FALSE!. The oral theory for example says that the synoptic gospels came from oral traditions dating all the way back to the supposed events (ie contemporary) wo you have what may be a originally a contemporary account being written by someone who didn't have personal knowledge of Jesus.--BruceGrubb (talk) 06:06, 26 August 2010 (UTC)

I'm puzzled by this section. White's view is mainstream and uncontroversial, and the text in the article accurately summarizes what he says. The view that the gospels were written by apostles doesn't need to be in the lead, in my view, but could be mentioned in the section on the gospels. --Akhilleus (talk) 00:39, 26 August 2010 (UTC)

While The Anonymous Four Gospels is itself useless for this article it does provide references that all confirm the anonymous nature of the Gospels:
Keith F. Nickle. The Synoptic Gospels(2001). Kentucky: Westminster John Knox Press. p. 43 p 84
F.W. Beare. The Earliest Records of Jesus(1964). Oxford: Blackwell. p.13
Bart D. Ehrman. Lost Christianities(2005). New York: Oxford University Press. p. 3
R.T. France. The Evidence for Jesus(1986). London: Hodder and Stoughton. p. 122
G.A. Wells. Who Was Jesus? A Critique of the New Testament Record (1989). Illinois, La Salle: Open Court. p. 1
Raymond E. Brown. 101 Questions and Answers on the Bible Op. Cit. p. 60
Edwin D. Freed. The New Testament, A Critical Introduction (2001). Wadsworth. p. 123
As Freed states "Most NT scholars agree that the gospels are anonymous" which means the idea that they are written by the apostles is a minority view possibly even fringe.--BruceGrubb (talk) 03:31, 26 August 2010 (UTC)


There's a lot of discussion about specialist sources being needed for this article, yet sources that I would regard as specialist have been rejected, so I'm unclear what the criteria are, or who is doing the judging. Can I ask whether there are any specialist editors on the page? That is, is there anyone editing this article with a PhD in New Testament, or a PhD in ancient history or a related discipline who has specialized in the historicity of Jesus, or who has had books or papers on the historicity question independently published, even without the postgraduate work? I'm not asking people to out themselves, but a simple yes would be helpful if there is such an editor here. SlimVirgin talk|contribs 01:58, 14 August 2010 (UTC)

It's hard to see how you can get a useful answer to that question without people outing themselves. It might be more profitable to focus on which sources you think have been incorrectly rejected. --Akhilleus (talk) 02:44, 14 August 2010 (UTC)
I've wondered about Price and Wells not being used more, just as examples. But what I'm asking is whether any of us are in a position to judge who the key sources are. James Beilby and Paul Eddy (theologians) included Price in their The Historical Jesus: Five Views. The Jesus Seminar includes him. But we don't, except in an article devoted to the Christ-myth views. So it becomes relevant to ask what the background is of the editors who are making judgments here that the rest of the academic world appears not to be making. SlimVirgin talk|contribs 04:41, 14 August 2010 (UTC)
I was not aware that their was a requirment for demonstrable expertise in wikipeida. There has been a tad too much of this Neitchian Accademanism on these pages as of late. Also if we need to know this we need to k ow if any athiest or non-christiasn are trying to push any POV as well. Ohh and we need to know have any of thnose who are arguing for ex ever been preiest or abused by them, and we an reject people who...and so on (and why do you need to know what a persons veiws may be effected by if you don't intend to dismiss those views for that reason?).Slatersteven (talk) 12:53, 14 August 2010 (UTC)
I'm sorry, I didn't make myself clear, Steven. I was asking whether there are any editors here in a position to tell us who the specialists think the specialists are. SlimVirgin talk|contribs 13:07, 14 August 2010 (UTC)
I would say that that is irrelavant. What do RS say on the matter?Slatersteven (talk) 13:14, 14 August 2010 (UTC)
Well, going back to Robert Price, the reliable sources seem to refer to him, and he was asked to contribute to The Historical Jesus: Five Views, the Jesus Seminar, and the Jesus Project. But editors here appear to have rejected him as a source (whether he has simply not been used, or actively rejected, I don't know). So what the reliable sources do isn't what's being done here, as I said above. I was therefore wondering why there's a discrepancy. SlimVirgin talk|contribs 13:17, 14 August 2010 (UTC)
If you do not know if he has been rejected then you can't say there is a discrepancy. There are plenty of pages that don't use all sources (after all we can't own every book ever published on a subject). Also in what context do RS refer to him? if its hes a load of rubbish then yes broad scholatic base has rejected him.Slatersteven (talk) 13:28, 14 August 2010 (UTC)
────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────Then let me rephrase: if this article were being written by the world's top Jesus scholars, and they were told it should ideally be around 7,000 words long; that it had to represent all specialist points of view, and represent them in a disinterested, neutral tone; and that it should be accessible to intelligent readers with no specialist knowledge, which sources would they include? SlimVirgin talk|contribs 13:29, 14 August 2010 (UTC)
Firsrt off reading The Historical Jesus: Five Views (or to be more prescise the reponses to his articel) it seems that he is largley rejected by the other scholers there. Comments such as "qutstioanale premises" So i would have to see from this material that the widr scholerly community has rejected this ideas, they comment on them for sure, but that doies not imply they cosider them valid. Secondly Now there is place for the Jesus Myth idea here, and I beleive it is. But it is claer that it is very much on the fringe of the study into the relaity (or lack of) of Jesus. We do not give more credence to something then the wider accademic community does.Slatersteven (talk) 13:42, 14 August 2010 (UTC)
He's one of the scholars invited to write his own section and comment on the others; if he were rejected entirely as a source he wouldn't have been asked to do that. But my general question remains: if the world's top Jesus scholars were asked to write a neutral article on the historicity, who would they use as their sources? SlimVirgin talk|contribs 13:49, 14 August 2010 (UTC)
I don't think that is an aswerable question. We cannot say what someone might do, but we can say what they have done. Have the worlds most repected Jesus scholers used Price as a sources? Not have they commented ono his work, or even allowed him to express his opinions but have they actualy used him for thier own research?Slatersteven (talk) 13:55, 14 August 2010 (UTC)

Price's inclusion in one edited volume which attempts to represent different perspectives on the historicity of Jesus does not legitimize his perspective nor does it mean that this perspective. Why was Price included in that volume? Have you read the introduction? There may be clues to this there. These scholars may have decided to include a fringe view in their volume on purpose. How do we know? Also, how many such volumes include the CMT as a perspective? I would guess that this is the only edited volume on the historicity of Jesus that includes Price or any other Christ Myth Theorist. If that is the case I do not think we can say that Price's perspective is a "significant minority" perspective as opposed to a fringe perspective. It would get much more airtime than it does if it was. Also, please note that despite his other credentials all of his books on Jesus are published by Prometheus Books. Prometheus is not an academic publisher, it was founded by Paul Kurtz who also founded the Council for Secular Humanism and the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry. In the study of religion one would never publish with Prometheus unless real academic presses weren't interested. In any event it does not show mainstream acceptance, but quite the opposite.Griswaldo (talk) 15:05, 14 August 2010 (UTC)

(ec) I'm not talking about their research, Steven. As I said above, I'm talking about a WP article (this article), and I don't see why the question shouldn't be answerable. In an area I write about, animal rights, I could tell you who the world's top scholars are, and I could tell you with a fair degree of certainty who they would use as sources in a brief WP-type article about it if they were asked to be neutral. So who would the world's top Jesus scholars be most likely to use for a neutral, non-academic, WP-type article about the historicity of Jesus? SlimVirgin talk|contribs 15:10, 14 August 2010 (UTC)
Well we can say who they would use, unless you are susgesting they do not attmept to use the best and most neutral sources in their work. We can look a the sources they have used in the work they have published to date. By the way is Jesus scholership a recognise field?Also we would have to establish who these experts are we consider expert enough to have an opinion, how do we determine that?Slatersteven (talk) 15:20, 14 August 2010 (UTC)
Along the lines of what I think Slater is saying, it would indeed be informative to look at what scholars are cited by both mainstream tertiary and secondary sources on Jesus. I doubt you'll find Price or Wells in there, but I can't say for sure.Griswaldo (talk) 15:29, 14 August 2010 (UTC)

I'm no expert, but my understanding is that most of the leading scholars are mentioned in the article somewhere or another. I don't see why it's necessary for anyone involved to have a PhD in the subject; it's not too hard to figure out what the most respected works in a particular field are. Probably the best thing to do is to look at university syllabi. This course at the University of Oregon uses Borg & Wright and Stanton as textbooks; this one at Wright State uses Vermes, Sanders, and Crossan, among others; it recommends The Five Gospels by the Jesus Seminar as outside reading. Cornell College - Crossan and Luke Timothy Johnson. North Carolina State - Stanton, Crossan, Ehrman, Johnson, Meier, Sanders, Vermes, Wright, among others. University of Maryland - Ehrman, Fredriksen (although that class is more broad than just Jesus. Yale - another broader course, uses Ehrman. San Francisco State - Ehrman, Fredriksen, Meier, among others. UC Santa Barbara - Borg, Sanders, among others. Notice that these are all non-sectarian universities, mostly public. So far as I can tell, the principal academic debate about the "historical Jesus" is whether there's any point to trying to figure out about the historical Jesus, on the grounds that it's the Jesus of the gospels who is important to our understanding of the development of the Christian religion. The sources used in this article seem to reflect a pretty solid sampling of mainstream scholarship on the subject. I didn't see Price or Wells anywhere in those syllabi, but I was only scanning for names I recognized, so I might have missed them. john k (talk) 15:43, 14 August 2010 (UTC)

Thank you, John, that's helpful. What I'm really looking for is not who the experts are, but who the experts would use if specifically asked to write a neutral, non-academic summary (where they'd be allowed to use themselves too). I'm thinking it might be worth asking some of them. SlimVirgin talk|contribs 15:52, 14 August 201::0 (UTC)
We don't need to ask them we can look at thier work he see who they use. Are you seriously sugesting that they have not used what they consider quility sources in thier body of work? I suspect that is the answer they would give, look at who I have used that is who I would use.Slatersteven (talk) 15:56, 14 August 2010 (UTC)
Once again, I'm not talking about who they would use in their research. I wouldn't have to ask them that; I'd only have to read their work. I'm specifically wondering who they would use if they were to write an article about it for Wikipedia, where they were expected to be neutral, and where the readership was not a specialist one. It's quite likely this is the kind of thing they've not done before. It would be interesting to know how they'd approach it, and who they would rely on. SlimVirgin talk|contribs 16:00, 14 August 2010 (UTC)
So is they are not using them in their research what are they using them for? I really fail to see what value such a hyperthetical idea has. Especialy as it seems to be founded on some questionable assumption. The clear imnplication is that thier work to date is not neutral (otherwise they can use the sources they have already used, question answerd). Moreover how do you know they have not writen popular history before (that also seems to be an assumption)?Slatersteven (talk) 16:10, 14 August 2010 (UTC)
Slimvirgin, then why not look at what other works are cited by tertiary sources like textbooks, general encyclopedias and topic specific encyclopedias? Course syllabi are also a good place to start, which is why John k suggested it above. You're putting the goal posts in a very precarious position, and it isn't clear to the rest of us why their placement is necessary or even reasonable given what we do have access to right now (course syllabi and tertiary sources).Griswaldo (talk) 16:21, 14 August 2010 (UTC)
We could do that, but the problem with Wikipedians choosing the sources is we end up with disputes such as this one. Do we include sources such as the New Encyclopedia of Unbelief as a tertiary source for example? I see it's not included, but I would include it, and that would give us Wells et al. I would like to find out who the sources' sources would be for a non-specialist, neutral article. SlimVirgin talk|contribs 16:37, 14 August 2010 (UTC)
SlimVirgin, I'm a bit puzzled by what you're asking for. If you don't think looking at textbooks, encyclopedias, and course syllabi will help answer your question, it seems the only thing to do is to write to some experts and ask them. But above, you wrote that you could confidently identify which sources an expert would use to write a wikipedia article about animal rights—how can you determine these sources? Can't we follow the same procedure here? For my part, I think looking at tertiary sources, and at articles in magazines, etc., where scholars try to explain their work to a general audience, helps answer the question.
Also, it might be good for everyone to note that both Price and Wells are cited in this article, so it's not as if they've been excluded here. It's true that they are portrayed as advocates of a rejected thesis. But, in the book you mention above, The Historical Jesus: Five Views, James D. G. Dunn ends his response to Price by saying "In short, if Price’s essay is a true expression of the state of health of the Jesus-myth thesis, I can’t see much life in it. His essay would be better retitled “The Jesus Myth – a Thesis at Vanishing Point." In other words, I don't see Price's inclusion in this book as a sign that he's being accepted as an expert source or that his views are being accepted as mainstream—much the opposite. --Akhilleus (talk) 04:56, 15 August 2010 (UTC)
Price and Wells are barely mentioned here, and when they are it's to marginalize them. And why quote Dunn, who is very disrespectful; why not quote some of the others? Why is there always this ad hominem stuff from some (a small number) of scholars, quoted by some (also a small number) of Wikipedians? It would be wonderful if that could stop. SlimVirgin talk|contribs 15:27, 15 August 2010 (UTC)
Dunn doesn't make an ad hominem argument; I quoted the end of his response, which is a lengthy critique of Price's arguments, and he sums up by saying "if Price’s essay is a true expression of the state of health of the Jesus-myth thesis..." That's ad rem, not ad hominem. And it's pertinent to the discussion here: if the other contributors to The Historical Jesus: Five Views find Price's arguments weak and outlandish, that's a sign that Price's arguments are not accepted by the scholarly community. --Akhilleus (talk) 01:09, 16 August 2010 (UTC)
"Gosh! So there are still serious scholars who put forward the view that the whole account of Jesus' doings and teaching are a later myth foisted on an unknown, obscure historical figure. The Arthur Drews and G. A. Wells versions have been responded to sufficiently, one have thought. But no! Robert Price raise the banner once again." Dunn pg 94. I have to ask just where did this idea that "an unknown, obscure historical figure" was involved with Drews come from? Source after source has been presented that Drew held that Jesus was a pure myth so where is this coming from? Dunn on page 95 states "This is always the fatal flaw with the "Jesus myth" thesis: the improbability of the total invention of a figure who had purportedly lived within the generation of the inventors, or the imposition of such an elaborate myth on some minor figure from Galilee." The second part reads very much like the minimalist position and yet we have been told again and again that minimalist is not part of the Christ myth (aka Jesus myth) theory so just what is going on here?!--BruceGrubb (talk) 06:05, 21 August 2010 (UTC)

Price was mentioned, in the intro no less, but there was a condensing of the article done several months ago to keep to a minimum listing stuff like scholar x argues this but scholar y argues that and leave that to linked articles on the subtopic. Do you wish to go back to having running debates about each piece of evidence or have a general framework article. In the section on the myth hypothesis we could eliminate the "like debating whether the moon is made of cheese" stuff, but just pointing out the small number of mythists and that most scholars reject their claims has to be included for accuracy, wouldn't you say? Roy Brumback (talk) 20:19, 15 August 2010 (UTC)

I agree. When the article's unprotected, I would like to rewrite that section a little, summary-style, so that it's less dismissive. I won't try to trumpet it, but it needs to be minimally respectful. SlimVirgin talk|contribs 21:34, 15 August 2010 (UTC)
That's fine with me—the green cheese stuff doesn't need to be there, but as Roy says, the article needs to note that most scholars reject the CMT. --Akhilleus (talk) 01:09, 16 August 2010 (UTC)
Ditto. An experienced editor, with a fine record for quality writing on controversial articles, should be leeway to present others with a polished draft of her proposed changes, without having to battle it through line by line.Nishidani (talk) 10:48, 17 August 2010 (UTC)
Actually, it it should be pointing out that anything outside the Gospels are a useful guide to the life of Jesus has been rejected by most modern scholars--this would include the extreme historical who claim the Gospels are historical recording events exactly as they happened; the minimalist groups with their Jesus existed but the Gospel tells little to nothing about him idea, as well as the CMT. Especially as a handful in the extreme minimalist camp use the exact same arguments the CMT group uses.--BruceGrubb (talk) 14:00, 17 August 2010 (UTC)
I'm not quite sure what you mean by this, because of the syntax. But the terms you use minimalist groups' 'extreme minimalist camp' could be said to apply to important schools. Rudolf Bultmann comes to mind. There is very little to distinguish Bultmann's sceptical view of the Gospel as history (except he believed a Christ/Jesus existed) from those of Wells etc. Yet Bultmann is mainstream. How do you all explain the difference in treatment?Nishidani (talk) 17:23, 17 August 2010 (UTC)
What difference? The article doesn't claim the Gospels are history or that they are accepted as such by mainstream historians, just that almost all historians claim he existed, and thus claiming he didn't exist at all is not in the mainstream. How much of what the Gospels say is accepted by which historians is properly in the Historical Jesus article and not here. Roy Brumback (talk) 02:55, 18 August 2010 (UTC)
Actually just what the Christ Myth theory is varies depending on the author. Most but not all of the literature defines it as Jesus being a pure myth. The problem is when you get to the oddball or vague definitions that do not define it that way (C H Dodd, Walsh, Pike, Michael Grant, Holding, Doherty, etc) or lists that misclassify people (Schweitzer regarding James George Frazer in 1931 or possibly Price, Richard Carrier, and Boyd-Eddy on Wells Jesus Myth and later) you run into problems.--BruceGrubb (talk) 11:57, 19 August 2010 (UTC)
This course [5] mentioned by john k is interesting. The description begins: "The course will consider the early evidence for Jesus..." Do major universities have courses that consider the evidence for the Holocaust? Or the moon landings? By definition, fringe theories are exactly what are not "considered" in universities. Isn't that course evidence against the fringe theory designation? Noloop (talk) 00:32, 18 August 2010 (UTC)
No. Did you read past the course description? The syllabus is fairly detailed, with assignments for each session of class. Your apparent belief that this course considers the theory of Jesus' non-existence is baffling. Everyone who studies the historical Jesus "considers the early evidence for Jesus"; the alternative would be to make things up out of whole cloth. "considering the evidence" is what historians do. --Akhilleus (talk) 01:51, 18 August 2010 (UTC)
Rather similar to when Noloop pronounced a source to be ludicrous after only reading the subtitle. How long do we all have to waste our time responding to someone who behaves like this?Griswaldo (talk) 02:02, 18 August 2010 (UTC)
The syllabus is quite detailed but there is little to indicate that the full spectrum of the Historicity of Jesus ie the debate of how much of the Gospel is history is even touched on. There is a lot of fringe in that spectrum and not all of it is in the CMT camp.--BruceGrubb (talk) 03:51, 18 August 2010 (UTC)
Did anyone answer my question? Do major universities have courses that consider the evidence for the Holocaust? Noloop (talk) 14:53, 18 August 2010 (UTC)
There is holocaust denial on trial that goes over the denial insanity. The University of Wisconsin has to deal with "Jason Smathers defends Holocaust-denial ad in University of Wisconsin campus newspaper", Harvard Kennedy School had Student Research Finds Growth in Holocaust Denial, Reduction in Anti-Semitic Incidents. The closest I have found is from The International School for Holocaust Studies which in part address the problem of holocaust denial.
The problem is that the Historicity of Jesus and the Holocaust are on such opposite ends of the spectrum of evidence you can't even equate it to an apple and orange comparison--more like a ping pong ball and American football comparison. We are only 65 years away for the Holocaust and yet we have mountains of material with good provenance for it; compare that with Jesus and the logical fallacy of comparing the two becomes clear. In fact, the pro-Christ Myth work "Refuting Missionaries" by Hayyim ben Yehoshua flat out stated that this comparison was a red herring.--BruceGrubb (talk) 12:39, 19 August 2010 (UTC)
It's a red herring for a variety of reasons. Two obvious ones are 1) the global volume of knowing individuals at the time of the event (life of Jesus vs. Holocaust) and 2) the state and use of technology that helps us preserve our knowledge of history. More like apples and wingnuts.Griswaldo (talk) 13:21, 19 August 2010 (UTC)
But Noloop's question is incorrectly framed. The U. Oregon course he brought up ([6]) "considers the early evidence for Jesus", both canonical NT material and non-canonical material, to see what we can reconstruct of his life. A parallel course on the Holocaust would not deal with the problem of Holocaust denial, but would consider the evidence for the Holocaust to see what we can reconstruct of the events, the motives of the people responsible, the experiences of the victims, etc. etc. And there are plenty of courses like that. --Akhilleus (talk) 13:52, 19 August 2010 (UTC)
I think this is a very important point and it echoes one I tried to explain earlier. Most historians are not concerned with the question of "did soemthing happen or not" - this kind of question fascinates non-historians and among non-historians may spark huge debates. But it is not the kind of question central to modern history - historians generally take it for granted that the closer an event to the present, the more confident we can be that it occured, and the further in the past we go, the less confident we can be, and move on to what they consider more interesting questions and ones that really are worth debating: given some set of "evidence" - written texts, material remains - what do we know? When it comes to written texts, we know something about the author and something about the world s/he lived in, but what, precisely? Material remains have an objectivity that texts do not, but they seldom "speak for themselves."
Articles are about specific topics. NPOF insists we include all significant views. But we also must provide context for people to understand these views. In this case, I think one important bit of context is that the different views we might wish to include do not form one coherent group but may be better grouped into two or three distinct sets of debates or conversations. Then I think we need to give more context about each debate or conversation. I do not mean that we have to have several paragraphs explaining how historians work, but I do think we need tointroduce the views of different historians with a brief account of what kinds of questions historians concern themselves with and why, and how and why these may be different questions from those of non-historians. Slrubenstein | Talk 16:03, 19 August 2010 (UTC)
Let's get the article unprotected and get things moving.-Civilizededucationtalk 02:44, 20 August 2010 (UTC)
Griswaldo has a good point. Technology especially the printing press changed the very nature of history--one lone book that had to laboriously copied by hand was far easier to get lost to the ravages of time than 1000 easily reproduced copies. It also allowed people to rewrite history to their own ends as documented in Terry Jones' Medieval Lives; the Iron maiden (torture) in another such example. The Black Legend with its Enlightenment flourishes is another.-- (talk) 15:34, 20 August 2010 (UTC)
My question was dodged, as usual. The existence of Jesus is not comparable to the existence of the Holocaust. Reliable sources don't suggest the existence of the Holocaust lacks agnostic methodology. Classes are not offered that "considers the early evidence for the Holocaust". One is a fringe theory, the other is not. Noloop (talk) 06:34, 21 August 2010 (UTC)
Your question was not dodged. You have misunderstood the nature of the syllabus you commented upon, and what the phrase "considers the evidence" meant. It does not in any way suggest that the course dealt with a fringe theory. --Akhilleus (talk) 17:36, 21 August 2010 (UTC)

Understanding fringe

I think there is a fundamental misunderstanding just what WP:Fringe is. "We use the term fringe theory in a very broad sense to describe ideas that depart significantly from the prevailing or mainstream view in its particular field of study."

The mainstream view regarding the Historicity of Jesus is that the Gospels are a mixture of myth and history that give us some reliable information regarding a first century teacher named Jesus. Everything that departs significantly from that position is fringe:

  • The Gospels being totally accurate records is fringe
  • The minimalist position that the Gospels tell us next to nothing about the "real historical Jesus" is fringe.
  • The idea that the Gospel Jesus is some sort of composite character made up of several teacher from different times is fringe.
  • The idea that Jesus is a pure myth formed either intentionally or through natural process is fringe.

All these ideas are fringe. The definition regarding the boundary between Christ Myth theory and minimalist may be a little wonky at times but they BOTH ARE STILL FRINGE. Is Wells current theory Christ Myth? By most of the definitions out there no. Is it fringe? YES.--BruceGrubb (talk) 11:55, 21 August 2010 (UTC)

Comment. Everything else is acceptable, but I can't see anything fringe about the minimalist position as defined (point 2). It was the position of Rudolf Bultmann, for example. Historians, like A. N. Sherwin-White and Michael Grant do take Bultmann's form criticism as intrinsically 'ahistorical' and too sceptical, Bruce, but they do so challenging the very arguments you listed for me on the other page (Gary R. Habermas, The historical Jesus: ancient evidence for the life of Christ, College Press, 1996 p.52). In other words, historically, even within conservative circles, the idea that we know 'next to nothing' about the historical Christ was and still is an eminently defensible position. Even his student and critic, Günther Bornkamm, gave a minimalist picture that can be summed up in a short paragraph. Born in Nazareth of Jewish parents, he preached in Galilee, won disciples, and, after going to Jerusalem was crucified there. That is a minimalist position. Nishidani (talk) 12:42, 21 August 2010 (UTC)

Comment I was thinking minimalist in the way Rembsurg defined it in 1909: "Many radical Freethinkers believe that Christ is a myth, of which Jesus of Nazareth is the basis, but that these narratives are so legendary and contradictory as to be almost if not wholly, unworthy of credit." In short all we know is there was a Jesus in the 1st century and nothing else.--BruceGrubb (talk) 13:46, 21 August 2010 (UTC)

Fair enough, but as it stands, the definition throws the baby awt wiff the barfwa'er, guv.Nishidani (talk) 14:21, 21 August 2010 (UTC)
The thing is that all these "categories" (which vary depending on the author) have a range and even the boarders between categories is very hazy; one author's Christ Myth theory is another author's minimalist theory.
For example, take Walsh's "The theory that Jesus was originally a myth is called the Christ-myth theory, and the theory that he was an historical individual is called the historical Jesus theory" (The role of religion in history pg 58) But then what about the theory Jesus existed c100 BCE using the Talmud or Dead Sea scrolls? You still have the "he was an historical individual" part and you are not saying "Jesus was originally a myth" so by Walsh you must be talking about a historical Jesus theory. Never mind the majority of Christ-myth theory definitions say that it is the idea Jesus is no more historical than Osiris or Zeus.
What about the theory that Jesus started out as a myth but a historical 1st century teacher was plugged into this myth? By Walsh's reasoning since "Jesus was originally a myth" this is still the Christ-myth theory and the comments of Price, Carrier, and Eddy-Boyd would seem to agree with this by putting Well's Jesus Legend (1996) and later possibly mythical Paul Jesus + historical Q Jesus = composite character Gospel Jesus. Wells challenged this classification saying that he is a minimalist but you have to wonder if everyone is using the same definition.
But then you have the definitions that say the Christ-myth theory "is the idea that Jesus of Nazareth was not an historical person" but a composite character by definition is not a historical person and many sources flat out say the Jesus of Nazareth is the Gospel Jesus so by that definition Wells Jesus Legend (1996) and later is presenting Christ-myth theory and that is supported by the statements of Price, Carrier, and Eddy-Boyd (and Doherty if you want to include him) despite Wells' challenge regarding the matter. Also Wells expressly states that the Q-Jesus was never crucified and since Jesus of Nazareth (ie Gospel Jesus) was Wells is still saying Jesus of Nazareth is not a historical person which again puts him in the Christ-myth theorist came by this definition.
Then you have the arch chair brigade like Doherty and Holding saying that Christ-myth theory is the idea the Gospel Jesus is a fiction putting people like Wells and Remsburg who present a historical 1st century teacher called Jesus which pulls in an insane part of the minimalist camp under Christ-myth theory.
As the above shows just what the Christ-myth theory even is defined as has a serious amount of hiccups with some definitions going far into what could be called minimalist territory. Christ-myth theory is still fringe but just what it is varies way too much.--BruceGrubb (talk) 06:29, 22 August 2010 (UTC)
Excerpting one sentence from the page on fringe theories is misleading. The guideline goes on to say that fringe theories are discredited, not merely in the minority:
"Usually, mainstream and minority views are treated in the main article, with the mainstream view typically getting a bit more ink, but the minority view presented in such a fashion that both sides could agree to it. Singular views can be moved to a separate page and identified (disclaimed) as such, or in some cases omitted altogether.
"However, a lack of consideration or acceptance does not necessarily imply rejection, either; ideas should not be portrayed as rejected or labeled with pejoratives such as pseudoscience unless such claims can be documented in reliable sources.
"Ideas that have been rejected, are widely considered to be absurd or pseudoscientific, only of historical interest, or primarily the realm of science fiction, should be documented as such, using reliable sources.
There is no mainstream view of the historicity of Jesus, if "mainstream" is defined to include secular academia as well as theologians. We know this because secular academic sources for these articles are rare.
Reliable sources don't suggest that historical research on the Holocaust has lacked agnostic methodology. There is no university course that "considers the early evidence for the Holocaust." Individuals like Bertrand Russell and Richard Dawkins do not say the Earth is flat. Scholars who are generally regarded as credible, like Hoffman, Elegard, Wells, and Price do not insist the Apollo missions never happened. The mainstream media doesn't run articles on whether Elvis really was abducted by aliens.[7] The rejection of such theories doesn't have to be sourced primarily to members of one religion. Noloop (talk) 18:50, 21 August 2010 (UTC)
Noloop, it's obvious you aren't paying attention to editors who disagree with you, otherwise you would not be repeating this canard that "There is no university course that "considers the early evidence for the Holocaust." But it seems that you are not even reading the material you're linking to. The article in the Star that you just linked says: "But over the past 150 years of efforts to find the historical Jesus, the vast majority of scholars have settled on the baseline belief that a Jewish teacher from Galilee named Yeshua did indeed live some 2,000 years ago, and spoke about the Kingdom of God." If the vast majority of scholars have settled on a baseline belief, that's the mainstream view. You'll note that the Star doesn't say this is only the view of "Christian scholars", either! --Akhilleus (talk) 19:16, 21 August 2010 (UTC)
You just completely ignored every point. Noloop (talk) 00:11, 22 August 2010 (UTC)
Really? That's funny, that's exactly what you're doing--you've totally ignored everything I said about you misreading the syllabus from the U of Oregon course. Mind explaining why you think that the Star article that you linked to says "But over the past 150 years of efforts to find the historical Jesus, the vast majority of scholars have settled on the baseline belief that a Jewish teacher from Galilee named Yeshua did indeed live some 2,000 years ago, and spoke about the Kingdom of God", if this isn't the mainstream position? Puts the assertion that prior research into the historical Jesus wasn't "methodologically agnostic" into context--obviously, this is not a common view. --Akhilleus (talk) 03:44, 22 August 2010 (UTC)
Actually you did ignore the point actually raised which is comparing Christ Myth theory to Holocaust denial, flat Earthers, getting excited about Atlantis, or aliens building the Moai on Easter Island are strawman arguments. The pro-Christ Myth work "Refuting Missionaries" by Hayyim ben Yehoshua pointed how much of a red herring the Holocaust denial comparison was due to the mammoth differences in technology and levels of documentation. The flat earth idea require much of what is known about natural sciences to be wrong and those sciences have a much higher bar of quality than the social sciences like history. The "getting excited about Atlantis" comment from Paul Veyne was just sloppy; scholars today do get excited about Atlantis as literature or mythologized history of the tsunami that wiped out the ancient Minoan civilization with 9000 years ago a mistranslation of what was actually 900 years ago. The whole Ancient Astronaut craze along with several other Cult Archaeology phenomena actually got a peer reviewed article regarding why it was flawed with calm reasoned arguments: J. R. Cole's 1980 "Cult Archaeology and Unscientific Method and Theory" in Advances in Archaeological Method and Theory. Vol. 3. Michael B. Schiffer, editor, New York: Academic Press, Inc. So far we haven't seen much of that regarding Christ Myth theory.--BruceGrubb (talk) 09:35, 22 August 2010 (UTC)
I don't see the point in going on about FRINGE. This idea is not fringe. It's a minority view that's held by a small number of respectable scholars, but not the majority. So we present it in that light, period. It isn't rational to compare it to Holocaust denial etc, and there's no benefit in doing so. Plus I think everyone is tired of it, and there was even an AN/I thread requesting that it stop. SlimVirgin talk|contribs 12:27, 22 August 2010 (UTC)
I think this is where you and I disagree but the problem is more with the misperception that WP:Fringe means crackpot, Pseudoscience, or cult science and nothing else. The first sentence clearly states "We use the term fringe theory in a very broad sense to describe ideas that depart significantly from the prevailing or mainstream view in its particular field of study." and then the article promptly falls apart explaining things.
Is the idea that the Great Sphinx of Giza thousands of years older fringe? Yes. Is is crackpot, Pseudoscience, or cult science? No. The same is true of the Pre-Clovis theory. As an anthropologist I would like to point out that the treatment of the Pre-Clovis theory is a good example not seeing the forest for the trees; we know that that some degree of sea crossings was needed for the settlement of Australia which of course requires boats and this is 42,000 to 48,000 BP and yet Clovis is only 13,500 to 13,000 BP. The implications of small short distance boat travel some 30,000 before Clovis seems to be missed by the archeological community at large but the Pre-Clovis theory is still fringe.--BruceGrubb (talk) 15:36, 22 August 2010 (UTC)
To repeat, your definition:'The minimalist position that the Gospels tell us next to nothing about the "real historical Jesus" is fringe,'
is demonstrably wrong, figures like David Strauss, Bruno Bauer, William Wrede, George Tyrrell, Martin Kähler and Albert Schweitzer came close to that position and because a very large number of Christian scholars, as well as the usual suspects, from the time of Rudolf Bultmann 's vastly influential 'History of the Synoptic Tradition' down to the 1950s, and beyond, entertained it also. When even a Catholic theologian like J. P. Meier can affirm that ‘the historical Jesus is not the real Jesus but only a fragmentary hypothetical reconstruction of him by modern means of research,’ and that the real Jesus is 'unknowable'(J.P.Meier, A Marginal Jew,1991 vol.1 p.31) this is the minimalist position as you describe it, but it is not a fringe view.
That G. A. Wells is dismissed as fringe for entertaining, on this, the same view, is quite odd, esp. since his work is recognized by a biblical scholar of standing like R. Joseph Hoffmann. He is merely a Germanist who has devoted much of his career and industry to surveying that literature, and coming up with a minimalist position that, as in the above, cannot be called fringe. Contextually it is a minority view, perhaps, but historically respectable and therefore not fringe.Nishidani (talk) 17:17, 22 August 2010 (UTC)
What? I don't think you misunderstand Meier. He was written 4 volumes and counting on the historical Jesus. Real "minimal"... ;) BTW, Meier does mention wells briefly on pg. 87 of vol. 1 (in a footnote) and it's a bit telling, I might say....-Andrew c [talk] 21:21, 22 August 2010 (UTC)
(a) What part of the sentence I quoted from him did I not understand? (Meier is critical of Wells. What's that got to do with the price of Teeshirts in China?) Nishidani (talk) 21:34, 22 August 2010 (UTC)
When you followed the Meier quote by saying this is the minimalist position. You then go on to say that Wells is historically respectable, and since you brought up Meier, I though his take on Wells in regards to what you were just discussing may be relevant. But maybe I'm the one who is confused and it is completely unrelated. Regardless, it is a good read.-Andrew c [talk] 02:10, 23 August 2010 (UTC)
I am pointing out a problem with one of the definitions by Bruce, showing that a major scholar like Meier, under that definition, is as minimalist as the excluded scholar Wells, deemed fringe,Nishidani (talk) 06:26, 23 August 2010 (UTC)
As a practical matter, fringe does mean crackpot. Fringe, when applied, means that a theory shouldn't be taken seriously: it can be excluded. It is different from being a minority theory that belongs in the discourse. Look at the examples used in the guideline: they are crackpot theories. The fringe policy, in a scientific context, is a policy on pseudoscience. The guideline says so. In this topic, the matter is further complicated because the dominant community that takes an interest in the historical Jesus is Christian. Naturally, the non-existence of Jesus is crackpot in the Christian community. Noloop (talk) 00:57, 23 August 2010 (UTC)
Actually I raised this issue on Wikipedia_talk:Fringe_theories and the consensus that while crackpot and the like are sub-sets of Fringe they are not the definition of fringe.--BruceGrubb (talk) 04:18, 23 August 2010 (UTC)

If you're referring to this [8], it's hardly a consensus in any significant sense. We've had more developed discussions here. Noloop (talk) 04:40, 23 August 2010 (UTC)

The Fringe guideline on WP has been taken over by people who want to define it so they can exclude certain topics and sources. There is a big push on WP to impose "scientific point of view," and the editing of the Fringe guideline is part of that. It's best to use common sense definitions instead, and stick to the content policies when editing. SlimVirgin talk|contribs 10:33, 23 August 2010 (UTC)
Looking at the explanation given by Nishidani, there dosen't appear to be much that could distinguish the so called fringe from the so called mainstream. Their views are overlapping for the most part.Civilizededucationtalk 12:02, 23 August 2010 (UTC)
Not quite, you're taking a giant leap in generalizing from Nishidani's argument in that way. Nishidani is arguing that the position taken by one scholar in particular (George Albert Wells) seems very close to that of another scholar. People have considered the views of the first scholar fringe and the second mainstream. You need to remember that Bruce is claiming that the minimalist position is a fringe position, but there is no widespread agreement on that at all as far as I can see. Neither he nor Nishidani has claimed that the CMT is mainstream or that any CMTist has views similar to mainstream scholars. Wells' position is no longer the CMT position but a minimalist position. The question is really whether or not the minimalist position is fringe. Bruce claims it is, Nishidani has made a case that it isn't, but notably I do not think that Bruce's view was the consensus view in the first place. It seems to me that Bruce is trying to equivocate between CMT and minimalism in order to make CMT look better and not the other way around.Griswaldo (talk) 12:40, 23 August 2010 (UTC)
So far as I can tell from the reading I've done so far, some form of so-called minimalism is the mainstream position. But I wonder why it matters, given how subjective these evaluations are. We should just explain who says what. SlimVirgin talk|contribs 12:43, 23 August 2010 (UTC)
You do not care for the guideline about how to treat fringe positions in our entries -- WP:FRINGE? It would seem so given what you're suggesting. If this is an important guideline then understanding what is fringe and what is mainstream is very important. Outside of the specific guideline mentioned above, WP:UNDUE also applies quite clearly, and that is part of the policy, WP:NPOV. We do need to identify fringe positions and we ought not equivocate between fringe positions and mainstream positions to make the fringe position look better.Griswaldo (talk) 12:51, 23 August 2010 (UTC)
You can't cite WP:Undue, to lower the exposition of a theory which occupies the whole article. Secondly, at least one criterion for rating this theory as fringe, fails completely. See above, where no one has challenged my brief list of a dozen major mainstream scholars who entertain essentially the same position as Wells. If Wells and others are arguing for a theory found in mainstream literature, and historically supported by mainstream scholars, he cannot be treated as fringe. This is elementary, and I fail to see what the problem is.Nishidani (talk) 13:12, 23 August 2010 (UTC)
It was my understanding that Wells was a minimalist at this point and not a CMTist. You've also shown, by way of comparison, that Wells is a minimalist, and you question whether or not his position should be considered fringe. Is that a correct assessment? My point is that just because Wells was a CMTist, or just because some people have identified him as one does not mean we can generalize about CMT as not fringe simply because of what you've exposed vis-a-vis Wells. That is what I was trying to say to Civilizededucation. Are you concerned with Wells or with CMT more generally? Do you think that because of what you've shown regarding Wells that, for instance, we should consider the work of Robert M. Price or Alvar Ellegård to be more mainstream than fringe? I simply think that such a conclusion does not follow and that we need to be weary of taking that leap. That's all.Griswaldo (talk) 13:21, 23 August 2010 (UTC)
I apologize. I confused this page with the Christ Theory page I'd just edited. Hence my misprision about your point. SV has blood pressure problems dealing with this. I don't, just Alzheimer's.Nishidani (talk) 13:28, 23 August 2010 (UTC)
Not a problem. I see two issues here. One relates to how we can use certain sources in this page, and that was the source of confusion given the mix up. The other issue, however, regards how we view CMT, and how what you've shown about Wells relates to how we should view CMT. I do not think that Wells is a good example here unless there is no way to differentiate between minimalism and CMT. The article on Wells specifically states that he abandoned CMT for a minimalist position. What you quoted above, that we cannot know the "real Jesus" is likewise a minimalist position (since it does not say there was no "real Jesus".) The minimalist position calls into question much of, if not all of the quest for the historical Jesus but it does not deny his existence. As far as I know this is the primary differentiation, and the boundary that when crossed takes a scholar from respectability to fringe territory. For the record I do not agree with Bruce. The minimalist position is not fringe.Griswaldo (talk) 13:39, 23 August 2010 (UTC)
When I lasted checked it had been taken over by POV pushers and was being written very poorly; things may have changed since then, but I value my low blood pressure too much to look. :) SlimVirgin talk|contribs 12:58, 23 August 2010 (UTC)

Jesus Legend (1996) and beyond Wells: minimalist or Christ Myth Theorist?

(remove indent) Griswaldo, it is not me that is equating minimalism with CMT but sources like Price, Carrier, Doherty, Holding, and Eddy-Boyd! With Jesus Legend (1996) Wells abandoned the pure myth theory and adopted the minimalist "possibly mythal Paul Jesus + Historical Q Jesus = Gospel Jesus" theory. Van Voorst didn't notice this change until Jesus Myth (1999) even though Price, Doherty, Holding were still putting Wells into the CMT category (Doherty via a very broad definition).

Wells challenged Holding's classification until Holding clarified what he meant by Christ Myth theorist (Holding calls minimalist Remsburg a Christ Myth theorist in his book and since Doherty was using a very broad definition in his reviews no small wonder Wells wanted to know if he was dealing the standard definition or something else) but in 2003 Price hinted Wells was still in the Christ myth camp on the very back of Can we Trust the New Testament? which in 2006 Richard Carrier cites as an example of "Books by Contemporary Scholars Defending Ahistoricity" along with works by Arthur Drews, Earl Doherty, Harold Liedner, Robert Price, Thomas Thompson as well as Wells works such as The Historical Evidence for Jesus, Who Was Jesus?, The Jesus Legend, and The Jesus Myth. In 2007 Boyd-Eddy also put The Jesus Legend, and The Jesus Myth in the Christ Myth category to which Wells responded to by saying everything from 1996 on would classified as minimalist using Boyd-Eddy's categories.


Boyd-Eddy (2007) The Jesus Legend: A Case for the Historical Reliability of the Synoptic Jesus Tradition Baker Academic pg 24-25

Carrier Richard (2006) Did Jesus Even Exist? Stanford University presentation May 30 2006

Doherty, Earl (1999) Book And Article Reviews: The Case For The Jesus Myth: "Jesus — One Hundred Years Before Christ by Alvar Ellegard)

"Resmberg himself seemed equivocal in his commitment to a Christ-myth thesis. He says in his chapter listing these names that it "may be true" that a teacher in Palestine did exist but it is clear that his sympathies did lie with mythicists." (Holding, James Patrick (2008) Shattering the Christ Myth pg 94)

Price, Robert M (1999) "Of Myth and Men A closer look at the originators of the major religions-what did they really say and do?" Free Inquiry magazine Winter, 1999/ 2000 Volume 20, Number 1)

"G.A Wells is the eminently worthy successor to radical 'Christ myth' theorists..." (Price (2003) back of Can we Trust the New Testament?)

"In every volume Wells reiterates his case for a mythic Jesus, but this is hardly "vain repetition." [...] No, the chastened Wells admitted, there had indeed been a historical wisdom teacher named Jesus, some of whose sayings survive in the Gospels via Q. But this historical Jesus had nothing to do with the legendary savior Jesus whom Paul preached about." (Price, Robert M (2005) "Review of Can We Trust the New Testament?")

Van Voorst, Robert E, (2003) 'NonExistence Hypothesis', in Houlden, James Leslie (editor), Jesus in History, Thought, and Culture: An Encyclopedia, page 660

Wells G.A. (2000) "A Reply to J. P. Holding's "Shattering" of My Views on Jesus and an Examination of the Early Pagan and Jewish References to Jesus (2000)"

"In fact, however, I have expressed stated in my books of 1996, 1999, and 2004 that I have repudiated this theory (Christ Myth theory), and now really belong in their category 2. If the reader wishes a brief statement concerning my change of position and the reasons for it—briefer than I give in those three books or in the present one—I can refer him or her to my article "Jesus, Historicity of" in The New Encyclopedia of Unbelief, edited by Tom Flynn." (Wells, G. A. (2009) Cutting Jesus Down to Size. Open Court, pp. 327–328.)

So it isn't me that is mixing the CMT and minimalist positions but both supporters and opponents, scholars and non scholars. Now you know why the Christ Myth theory article is a mess--even the experts can't even agree who is one or when they changed their mind.--BruceGrubb (talk) 07:23, 24 August 2010 (UTC)

It's a mess. The only thing that is clear is, per BruceGrubb and Nishidani--"We don't know who's what."-Civilizededucationtalk 12:21, 26 August 2010 (UTC)
The lists are even more of a mess as shown by Bennett's In Search of Jesus (pg 205) and James Brabazon's Albert Schweitzer: a biography (Pg 222) where Frazer of all people is put in the same boat as Robertson, Smith, and Drews. The actual quote is Schweitzer's 1931 Out of my life and thought: an autobiography Page 125: "I especially wanted to explain late Jewish eschatology more thoroughly and to discuss the works of John M. Robertson, William Benjamin Smith, James George Frazer, Arthur Drews, and others, who contested the historical existence of Jesus." The searchable reprint of the expanded 1913 The quest of the historical Jesus] only confuses matters as the chapter titled "The most recent disputing of the historicity of Jesus" is where Frazer appears (other than in a footnote that pairs him with Robertson and in the index of names) and it is hard as blazes to figure out from the context what Frazer himself actually held and when you go back to Frazer you wonder why was he even in this section.--BruceGrubb (talk) 09:43, 27 August 2010 (UTC)

Rename/spin out idea

I've discussed this years ago (i.e. [1]), and I know someone else has brought it up recently here (SLR, I believe). I'd propose renaming this article (or spinning out) the vast majority of this article into an article that discusses only the textual evidence or sources for the historical Jesus. This would be sections 1-7 (and probably 10-13 to an extent). This leaves section 8 and 9 to be the basis for an article that actually discusses the historicity debate, and the arguments for and against. Names that have been suggested in the past include: Historical sources relating to Jesus or Sources for Jesus' life or Jesus and textual evidence or Alleged textual evidence for Jesus (part of this article began there and was merged. The previous article was bogged down in JM stuff, probably before there was a separate JM article; compare [[9] with [10], and if we were to go on with my proposal, we'd need to watch for weight issues for sure). I'm not fond of any one of those. Sources for the historical Jesus is a phrase used in Theissen. I think it's important to have "historical" somewhere in the title, so it doesn't include every text that mentions Jesus, such as rather late texts that historians ignore as pius fiction, like infancy gospels, late gnostic texts, the Book of Mormon, etc. What do others feel about such a split, and any title suggestions? -Andrew c [talk] 14:04, 23 August 2010 (UTC)

I don't think we should have any more spin-offs, especially not anything that could look like a POV fork. There are already so many articles dealing with this. SlimVirgin talk|contribs 15:50, 23 August 2010 (UTC)
Do you think sections 1-7 are discussing the historicity of Jesus? What would the POV-fork be in my proposal? Thanks for your input! -Andrew c [talk] 16:06, 23 August 2010 (UTC)
I don't see the need for the proposed split. This article has an interesting scope as it is.--Civilizededucationtalk 16:57, 23 August 2010 (UTC)
Is a detailed discussion of the sources within the scope of historicity?-Andrew c [talk] 17:03, 23 August 2010 (UTC)
The POV fork would be to have one page devoted to the evidence, without mentioning the criticism of that evidence, and another page devoted to the "debate" i.e. both sides. The former would be a classic POV fork, unless I misunderstood your proposal. SlimVirgin talk|contribs 17:05, 23 August 2010 (UTC)
Of course it is. It is necessary to get a grasp of the topic.-Civilizededucationtalk 17:13, 23 August 2010 (UTC)
(again) What is the need for the split?-Civilizededucationtalk 17:14, 23 August 2010 (UTC)

I must have misunderstood something, because I thought this article was about "the textual evidence or sources for the historical Jesus." The hatnote begins "This article is about the evidence regarding Jesus' existence", implying that the article is about sources; the majority of the article's text deals with different documents that people have used to reconstruct Jesus' life.

On the other hand, the lead seems to imply that the article is about proving that Jesus existed; I think the lead is a mismatch with the body of the article, because most scholars who are studying the historical Jesus do not use this material with a focus on proving whether Jesus existed, but rather with the aim of trying to figure out who he was, what he did, etc. Individual sections of the article seem mostly to have been written with a view to giving an assessment of what information each source offers about Jesus, rather than saying that the source is evidence for his existence.

It seems to me that this article would be clearer if it were a sub-article of historical Jesus, limiting itself to saying that these are sources that people use to reconstruct the history. This article could be renamed ancient sources for Jesus, or whatever. The historicity debate, such as it is, would then be in the main article, historical Jesus. --Akhilleus (talk) 19:15, 23 August 2010 (UTC)

This article is about Jesus, using historical methods to reconstruct a biography of his life and times. For disputes about the existence of Jesus and reliability of ancient texts relating to him, see Historicity of Jesus.
This is the relevant part of the hatnote from the historical Jesus article. From the first sentence, it is clear that the "Historical Jesus" article is about the effort to reconstruct Jesus. From the second sentence, it is clear that "Historicity of Jesus" will deal with both sides of the argument including a discussion on the reliability of the sources etc. I think the second sentence is correctly identifying this article and the topic of this article correctly reflects it. This is a major and interesting topic. I see no need to make this article uninteresting and unappealing to the reader by creating unnecessary forks. The reader cannot be expected to go through 4/5 article to get an idea on this topic. It will only serve to confuse an frustrate, rather than anything else. This is a good place to describe both sides of the argument on the topic. We can clarify the hatnote of this article if needed. There is no need for a new article.
Are we trying to avoid having an intelligent article which would discuss both sides of the argument on the "Historicity of Jesus"?
Do we have some reason to frustrate the reader who wants to find out both sides of the argument on the "Historicity of Jesus"?-Civilizededucationtalk 05:37, 24 August 2010 (UTC)
Especially when we have two reliable sources (Marshall, Ian Howard (2004), I Believe in the Historical Jesus (rev. ed.), Vancouver: Regent College Publishing, ISBN 978-1573830195 pg 24) (Eddy, Paul R.; Boyd, Gregory A. (2007), The Jesus Legend: a Case for the Historical Reliability of the Synoptic Jesus Tradition, Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, ISBN 978-0801031144 pg 24-25) and two notable ones (Resmburg and Barker) that all say the ideas regarding the Historical Jesus cover a spectrum.
I would like to ask how does this article differ from Quest for the historical Jesus (about the history of academic Jesus research)? I think the whole thing regarding historical Jesus is looking like a WP:CFORK farm with an article there, an article there, an article everywhere EIEI freakig oh. Seriously, we have this subject broken up into WAY too many articles.--BruceGrubb (talk) 07:39, 24 August 2010 (UTC)
There do seem to be a lot of POV forks, so we should be looking to reduce them, not increase them. And every page, no matter what it's called, has to include arguments for and against. SlimVirgin talk|contribs 13:00, 24 August 2010 (UTC)
Could someone explain the intended difference between Historicity of Jesus and Historical Jesus? SlimVirgin talk|contribs 13:25, 24 August 2010 (UTC)
Okay, Historicity of Jesus (this article) was started in November 2003 about the idea that Jesus didn't exist; see first version. Perhaps that was done to remove it from Jesus, or to give it a place to expand into. Then for some reason Historical Jesus was started in 2004, though the point of it was unclear; see first version. Then the Christ myth theory was started in 2005, again for reasons that are unclear; see first version.
I think we are looking at, at most, two articles here, but it should really be possible to summarize this on one page. In any event, we can't have a situation where yet another one is created. SlimVirgin talk|contribs 13:43, 24 August 2010 (UTC)
(ec)Another pace of the puzzle, the same user that created this article, same day in 2003, created Jesus and textual evidence, and a number of other articles, in an attempt to par down the main Jesus article. The textual evidence and historicity pages were eventually merged, and now most of the content from that article makes up this one. And I want to make it clear that I don't see my proposal as a POV fork at all, and I had no intention of not including the skeptical views. If a mythist has something new to add regarding the Tacitus debate (I know Richard Carrier has discussed Tacitus, or add Wells view on Josephus), that is perfectly in line with my proposal. My proposal only involved content forking, an article focused on the textual evidence weighed and considered in historical Jesus debates. I.e. an article covering chapters 2-5 of A Marginal Jew or chapters 2-4 in Theissen and Merz. I think these scholarly discussions concerning the ancient sources are much more complex than the simplistic "historicity" label. I'd hate to see any good and sourced discussions concerning the sources reduced on the basis that they don't directly relate to the topic of historicity. I only brought this up because I've thought of it now in again for years, and I saw SLR bring it up as well recently. And it seems some share my concerns as well (thanks Akhilleus), but I can also acknowledge concerns of making the web of spinout articles even more complex than it is, and I see little support for my proposal, so I'd be glad to drop it, and not take up any more talk page space (assuming others at least acknowledge my concerns for keeping good scholar discussions concerning the sources). I guess this also relates to SLR's view that the Talmud doesn't belong on this page (were a thorough discussion of sources would mention it)... -Andrew c [talk] 15:26, 24 August 2010 (UTC)

I have much sympathy for both sides here. There are clearly too many different Jesus articles, and many of them repeat content and overlap. I would propose a full clean-up, starting with a discussion on what content really needs to be in separate articles, and then merging those articles that don't need to exist separately. Wdford (talk) 16:03, 24 August 2010 (UTC)

First order of business would be to list all the related versions and see how much overlap there is. Jesus_and_history gives us, in addition to Jesus, Historical Jesus, Chronology of Jesus, Cultural and historical background of Jesus, Quest for the historical Jesus, Historicity of Jesus, Historicity of the Gospels and Christ myth theory. In addition to that mountain of insanity you have Religious perspectives on Jesus, Christian views of Jesus, Islamic view of Jesus and forgive the pun heaven knows what else. It is clear this subject is way out of control and needs to be trimmed way back.
As I see it Historical Jesus, Historicity of Jesus, Christ myth theory, Historicity of the Gospelsand perhaps Cultural and historical background of Jesus should be at best considered daughter articles of Quest for the historical Jesus if not merged into to it.
Jesus should address Chronology of Jesus, Cultural and historical background of Jesus with Religious perspectives on Jesus, Christian views of Jesus, Islamic view of Jesus and what else relates either daughter articles or merged.
This would leave use with Jesus and Quest for the historical Jesus (likely renamed as it is too easily confused with The Quest of the Historical Jesus by Albert Schweitzer) as the two parent article with any detailed information under daughter articles. What do you think?--BruceGrubb (talk) 06:08, 25 August 2010 (UTC)
I think I will limit myself to supporting a merger of "Historicity of Jesus" and "Historical Jesus" because these two articles appear to have the same/similar scope to me. I am not saying anything on the "big merger" because just a look at the array of articles is mind boggling. I don't know what to say. And, Bruce, the "big picture" that you provided is really enlightening.-Civilizededucationtalk 07:27, 25 August 2010 (UTC)
But that was Wdford's point--the number of Jesus related article is insane or as you say "mind boggling". It is time to get the Jesus subject trimmed back to something manageable and stop the spin off machine.--BruceGrubb (talk) 11:13, 25 August 2010 (UTC)
I support AndrewC's proposal, with rreasonable ammendments. The point is not to split articles any further, but to rationalize the bevy of articles we already have. Some were created independently of the Jesus article, a long time ao, and perhaps started as POV forks. Others were spun off of the Jesus article when it got too big. Surely we all agree we have too many article that overlap. AndrewC is suggesting one article on debates as to whether Jesus existed, and another article summarizing the sources used. We already hae this, so no one is proposing a new POV fork. The problem is that this material is distribued in multiple articles that also means we have articles that repeat a lot of the same material. This is no way to build an encyclopedia. Slrubenstein | Talk 20:20, 29 August 2010 (UTC)
I agree that this is no way to build an encyclopedia. So how about kicking the 'let's clean up this mess' ball down the field.
Parent article: Jesus; Merged or daughter articles: Chronology of Jesus, Cultural and historical background of Jesus with Religious perspectives on Jesus, Christian views of Jesus, Islamic view of Jesus and what else relates.
Parent article: Quest for the historical Jesus (Reworded to Historical Jesus Quest) Merged or daughter articles: Historical Jesus, Historicity of Jesus, Christ myth theory, Historicity of the Gospels and perhaps Cultural and historical background of Jesus
We need to clean this up.--BruceGrubb (talk) 21:48, 29 August 2010 (UTC)

Caesar's messiah stuff

What do others think of the new addition. It appears to have been cross posted to multiple articles. It should probably only be in one article (if any at all) and I don't feel it has much to with this article, and would argue for removing it. But I have no intention of simply reverting this new content without further discussion :) -Andrew c [talk] 20:36, 26 August 2010 (UTC)

His latest revision is self published.[11] Not even Robert M. Price can find any thing good to say about it. he calls the argument "Are we to dismiss the diverse, systematic, and subtle theological nuances disclosed by Redaction Criticism? Are all the patterns disclosed by Conzelmann, for instance, to be dismissed as optical illusions in order to justify Atwill?... No, it is Atwill himself whose creation demonstrates the limitless possibilities of perverse and gratuitous interpretations of the text." and "In Atwill’s hands, everything means everything else. And, in the end, you know what that means" .[12] Hardyplants (talk) 20:49, 26 August 2010 (UTC)
I agree. I see no sign that this book has attracted serious attention in the academic literature. It sounds far-fetched, it's self-published, and Price's review is pretty damning. It does not belong here. --Rbreen (talk) 21:57, 26 August 2010 (UTC)
Agree. It's gone. rossnixon 10:00, 27 August 2010 (UTC)
We don't exclude books because they get a bad review. That's absurd. Nobody has required a "sign that this book has attracted serious attention in a academic literature" for any other source. The original edition of the book is not self-published. Noloop (talk) 14:10, 27 August 2010 (UTC)
Was the version cited here self-published? If so, then find the original version, and cite it. Then we can determine if that was published by a respectable publisher or a "vanity" publisher (see WP:SPS). -- Jrtayloriv (talk) 15:51, 27 August 2010 (UTC)
There are also considerations regarding WP:FRINGE and other similar matters, which say, basically, that fringe theories, which would include those which have received little if any support in the academic world, should not be presented in such a way as to give them undue weight or prominence as per WP:UNDUE. John Carter (talk) 16:04, 27 August 2010 (UTC)
I agree. I was dealing with the WP:RS issue first, and then if it could even manage to pass that, we would begin dealing with WP:FRINGE and WP:UNDUE.-- Jrtayloriv (talk) 16:18, 27 August 2010 (UTC)
There is no fringe issue. This is not a scientific matter, it's an interpretation. The abuse of WP:FRINGE is turning into a excuse to censor anything that goes against an editor's religion. Noloop (talk) 17:58, 27 August 2010 (UTC)
Some interpretations are fringe—namely, those that receive little to no support in academia. It's unsurprising that you assume that this discussion is being driven by editors' religious beliefs, but that assumption is a violation of WP:AGF, to say the least. --Akhilleus (talk) 18:05, 27 August 2010 (UTC)
Agree with Akhilleus. There are any number of truly fringe "interpretations" of events in the Weekly World News and other publications of less then exceptional reputation, and that one clearly isn't in most cases self-published. We cannot and will not add information from all such interpretations to articles - only those which are sufficiently notable as per WP:N and receive at least the bare minimum requirements of other policies and guidelines have any chance of being included in the main articles on topics, and this is one such article. John Carter (talk) 18:09, 27 August 2010 (UTC)
────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────WP:N concerns the creation of articles, and has nothing to do with this. Virtually none of the theories in any of these articles have support from academia. The number of secular peer-reviewed articles cited in these articles is zero. The belief that this discussion is driven by editors' religious beliefs is not an assumption at all. It is based on two months of experience with those editors. Editors--admins, no less--destroy the assumption of good fiath when they resort to name-calling, dishonesty, and strawman distortions solely for the purpose of censoring any hint of skepticism. They want the sourcing of the articles to be 80% Christian while while telling the reader it is a "mainstream consensus." That position is so silly it is self-evidently religiously motivated, but we can also simply look at the contribs logs of editors such as RossNixon, ReaverFlash and Ari89 and see their contributions are dominated by Christianity-promoting edits. Noloop (talk) 21:03, 27 August 2010 (UTC)
I am not a Christian, nor do I believe most of the garbage much of what is in this article. But until people start finding reliable sources which contradict the assertions of fact (i.e. opinions should be attributed) made here, we have to treat them as facts, which per WP:ASF do not require attribution. Right now, there is a book from Oxford Univ. press claiming that "most scholars" believe that Jesus was a real historical figure. Do you know of some other scholarly work that contradicts this? -- Jrtayloriv (talk) 21:14, 27 August 2010 (UTC)
And Noloop does not help anyone to assume good faith of him by his own namecalling and assumptions regarding the motivations of others as per above, which has itself been going on, so far as I can tell, for at least several weeks. And, I acknowledge, the policy regarding notability was a false one on my part. WP:DUE is more clearly relevant. The effective meaning is the same however. Material has to be of sufficient importance to be included in content, either as a standalone article or within an article. The book in question does not seem to have received much critical attention or support, and, as such, may also qualify as a fringe theory as per WP:FRINGE. And I have to wonder what is meant by "secular peer-reviewed articles." How many articles about an inherently religious figure are going to appear in completely secular sources in the first place? The readers of truly secular journals which do not themselves have atheist/agnostic/whatever tendencies will have very little interest in so-called religious topics, and I doubt such articles would be included on the basis of that lack of interest in the topic in truly secular journals. Articles relating to most religious topics are, perhaps shockingly, in religious journals. Can Noloop perhaps name some journals which are completely free from any ties to religious organizations of any sort (including atheistic, agnostic, freethought, and the like) which do cover such subjects at the level of good academic journals? I am in the process of trying to put together lists of relevant journals and periodicals for various projects, and, honestly, I have seen very very few journals which deal with religion which are not, in some way, tied to either nominally religious educational institutions, societies, or the like. If he knows of any, I would love to be told them so I could add them to the lists I am making. John Carter (talk) 21:38, 27 August 2010 (UTC)
Well, John Carter, you don't know what you are talking about. Why don't you be on the receiving end of being called a vile ignorant bigot for several weeks, get a little fed up with it, and then have people tell you that you are name-calling because you use the phrase "religiously motivated". You have no idea what you're talking about, have no clue about the history of these discussions. When somebody calls you an ignorant bigot repeatedly, for weeks, and maintains a right to do so in the future, there is no "assumption" of good or bad faith to be made. You don't assume anything, because you have pretty damn good knowledge of the person's motivations.Noloop (talk) 05:37, 28 August 2010 (UTC)
So your response to people who find your comments to be prejudiced is to accuse them of being religiously motivated? You don't see a problem here? --Akhilleus (talk) 03:34, 29 August 2010 (UTC)
Actually, my response was to attempt a variety of kinds of dispute resolution, such as mediation, arbitration, and polite requests on Talk pages to stop. You are distorting the history. (Also, last time I checked, the view that religious background of a source should be mentioned in some cases had many votes in the RFC. It's hardly "mine.") Noloop (talk) 04:59, 29 August 2010 (UTC)
So we should precede every single statement in the article with a statement about the religion of the author? -- Jrtayloriv (talk) 05:26, 29 August 2010 (UTC)
I'm not talking about your attempts at arbitration or user RfCs (didn't see any attempts at mediation, but maybe I missed something). I'm talking about your words just above, where you say that "That position is so silly it is self-evidently religiously motivated," and "You don't assume anything, because you have pretty damn good knowledge of the person's motivations." --Akhilleus (talk) 14:23, 29 August 2010 (UTC)
You're talking about "my response," or would be if you weren't distorting it. Noloop (talk) 15:19, 29 August 2010 (UTC)
I'm talking about this response and this response. You know, the one where you say "The abuse of WP:FRINGE is turning into a excuse to censor anything that goes against an editor's religion" and the one where you say "Editors--admins, no less--destroy the assumption of good fiath when they resort to name-calling, dishonesty, and strawman distortions solely for the purpose of censoring any hint of skepticism. They want the sourcing of the articles to be 80% Christian while while telling the reader it is a 'mainstream consensus.' That position is so silly it is self-evidently religiously motivated..." --Akhilleus (talk) 17:24, 29 August 2010 (UTC)
The discussion belongs on a user talk page, or (best option) nowhere at all. Noloop (talk) 22:55, 29 August 2010 (UTC)
If you stop saying that other editors are motivated by religion on this talk page, this discussion won't happen here. --Akhilleus (talk) 00:01, 30 August 2010 (UTC)

Let's try a specific source

I largely agree with Griswaldo, but I really want to emphasize that Noloop's assertion that the sources in this article belong to the "Christian community" and not to the "secular, peer-reviewed community" is bunk. The very notion that there's some divide between the scholars that Noloop claims are Christians and the (so far unnamed) scholars who belong to the "secular" community is specious.
But maybe I'm wrong. Perhaps Noloop can produce some "secular, peer-reviewed" sources that tell us the work of Marcus Borg, N. T. Wright, Graham Stanton, E. P. Sanders, Geza Vermes, John P. Meier, David Flusser, James H. Charlesworth, Raymond E. Brown, Paula Fredriksen and John Dominic Crossan belongs solely to the "Christian community" and differs widely in method, results, and prestige from scholars from the "secular, peer-reviewed community." While Noloop's at it, perhaps he can illustrate that all of the scholars I just listed are Christians, and that none of them ever published in a peer-reviewed venue.
One potential starting point is Paula Fredriksen's article "Why was Jesus Crucified, but his Followers were not?” in Journal for the Study of the New Testament 29.4 (2007): 415-419. (The link is to a copy of the article on Fredriksen's page on the Boston University website.) Is Fredriksen part of the "Christian community"? If so, why? Is Journal for the Study of the New Testament an ordinary academic journal, utilizing the processes of peer review, etc., published by SAGE Publications, or is it some church newsletter? --Akhilleus (talk) 16:54, 11 August 2010 (UTC)
That article describes itself as an interpretation of a narrative, not historical research. Not surprising, given the name of the journal. The New Testament is a collection of stories. The Bible is a collection of stories. Much of what these articles describe as "scholarly reconstruction" of Jesus is interpretation of sacred texts. Noloop (talk) 00:34, 12 August 2010 (UTC)
This is a false characterization of Fredriksen's article, which tries to explaint why a set of historical events occurred—Jesus was crucified, but his followers weren't. (And of course, if you say that Jesus was crucified, that entails that he existed.) The article is accessible to anyone (and it's short), so everyone should read it for themselves. Here's the last bit:

Jesus preached his message of the coming Kingdom openly, where he could find the largest audience: in the Temple precincts (Jn2-12 passim; see too 18.20). Accordingly, both Pilate and the priests knew perfectly well that his teachings were in no practical way revolutionary. But on what turned out to be his final Passover there, Jesus evidently lost control of his audience. Their growing excitement about the imminent Kingdom as Passover approached, and their noisy conviction that Jesus himself was its special harbinger—perhaps even the messiah—led directly to his death. This is why Jesus was crucified, but his followers were not.

In any event, history is a collection of stories, too. Much historical research—including that into the historical Jesus—consists of interpreting narratives. --Akhilleus (talk) 00:57, 12 August 2010 (UTC)
Also, the Journal fot the Study of the New Testament says that it includes all types of approaches to the NT, including historical approaches: "All the many and diverse aspects of New Testament study are represented and promoted by the journal, including innovative work from historical perspectives, studies using social-scientific and literary theory or developing theological, cultural and contextual approaches." --Akhilleus (talk) 01:16, 12 August 2010 (UTC)
  • It is very plainly a critical analysis of a narrative. The article says that's its topic on the first page (and several subsequent ones). The evidence for the various claims are textual: scenes and episodes from the New Testament. I don't doubt the journal is interested in the history of the New Testament. So what?
  • What claim would you be making for this, anyway? It is not a source used in the article, so it is not anything I've objected to. Examples of what I have called one-sided sources are, in fact, Christian presses--they self-describe as such. The authors are, in fact, priests and theologians. They self-describe as such. You don't seem to understand my concern (although you're certain it is despicable). Noloop (talk) 01:24, 12 August 2010 (UTC)
Are you actually contending that Fredriksen's article is solely an analysis of narrative, with no relationship to history? Of course the evidence is textual, scenes and episodes from the New Testament: the point is that the NT narratives can be used to reconstruct history. This is hardly unique to Fredriksen; it's a basic operating principle of research into the historical Jesus that the gospels are narratives that provide historical evidence. It's hard for me to believe that you don't know this...
The reason I'm bringing up this article is because it's exactly the kind of source you seem to want: the author doesn't self-identify as a Christian, teaches at a non-sectarian university, and the journal comes from a publisher that doesn't identify itself as religious. Fredriksen's article treats Jesus' historicity as a given, and argues that we can make fairly specific claims about the motivation of the Roman authorities in crucifying him. And yet, you seem to be working pretty hard to dismiss Fredriksen's article in various ways—by making a nonsensical claim that the article isn't about history, and by implying below that she falls into your concerns about "religiously biased sourcing."
And you know, if I'm wrong in characterizing your basic argument here as "those scholars are Christians and those journals/books are published by Christians so they're biased" then you can clarify what your position actually is. --Akhilleus (talk) 01:41, 12 August 2010 (UTC)
It's a dispute over the best interpretation of an aspect of the New Testament. There's nothing historical about it. The part you quote is a description of the Jesus of the New Testament, as is easily seen by noting the references to chapter:verse. That would be a good source if it were actually historical, and it would be even better if it were published in, say, Classical Antiquity [13]. My concern is not with any single source. I think you can probably find sources like the one you mentioned, that are more historical. I've seen some interesting stuff by William Arnal, for example. My concern is with the pattern of sourcing. It is with descriptions of sourcing like "widespread" and "mainstream" when little of the actual sourcing used is secular. I think it is obvious that when a publisher self-describes as publishing "essential resources for ministry and the life of faith", the publisher aims to promote a particular view. Noloop (talk) 17:41, 12 August 2010 (UTC)
You are misreading the article. It uses the evidence of the NT (and Philo) to argue that the Romans executed Jesus as a means of crowd control. This is "actually historical". The fact that you don't understand this gives me very little confidence in your ability to judge sources—not that I had much to begin with. --Akhilleus (talk) 17:45, 12 August 2010 (UTC)
Thanks for the snide insult. You are wrong. There is not a single bit of historical research anywhere in the article. The article makes no claim of historicity anywhere. It is a critical analysis of a narrative. There is absolutely no suggestion anywhere in the article that the New Testament is an accurate historical account. That's not even a belief that is widespread among Biblical scholars. No historical "research" that consists entirely of quoting the Bible is valid. It would, in fact, be proof of a Christian POV to argue that the New Testament stories are actual historical Truth. Noloop (talk) 05:38, 13 August 2010 (UTC)
Many biblical scholars, especially those who investigate the historical Jesus, believe that the NT provides valuable historical information, when assessed critically. Again, this is a basic operating principle of research in the field (e.g., Graham Stanton says "Today nearly all historians, whether Christians or not, accept that Jesus existed and that the gospels contain plenty of valuable evidence which has to be weighed and assessed critically.") The fact that you don't understand this and that you're profoundly (and tendentiously) misreading Fredriksen's article means that you are not in a good position to constructively contribute here. --Akhilleus (talk) 13:21, 13 August 2010 (UTC)
I agree the NT "provides valuable historical information." So does Theogony. The article you cited is an interpretation of a text. Noloop (talk) 16:29, 15 August 2010 (UTC)
You're full of false dichotomies. The article interprets texts (more than one) to come to a conclusion about history. Which is something that historians often do... --Akhilleus (talk) 00:01, 16 August 2010 (UTC)
I tried to make similar arguments in the past with Noloop, but it didn't work. Hopefully you'll be more successful. I even mentioned the Journal for the Study of the New Testament, among others any the reply I got was "Those journals, at first glance, seem like a perfect example of journals that promote a particular view." [[[User_talk:Andrew_c#Personal_attacks]]. I really feel like we are going in circles, and at some point we need to give up.-Andrew c [talk] 20:53, 11 August 2010 (UTC)
I explained why I think the sourcing is religiously biased in the section called "Religiously biased sourcing." [14]. I didn't say their methods are invalid, I said the sources are biased. Likewise, if I objected to having only liberal sources for an article on public education, the objection wouldn't be that liberals are incapable of research, or that the liberal scholars are not notable. If I objected to having only liberal scholars for a factual claim about public education--while telling the reader there is widespread consensus for the claim--it would not be because I object to liberals per se. It's also a distortion to suggest I'm the only one who has raised this concern. Many have raised it, and when the discussion has been opened to a broader community (e.g., in the many ANIs), many more have supported it. Noloop (talk) 21:55, 11 August 2010 (UTC)
You are not responding to the comment. Andfrew c Akhilleus introduced new information and if you have any good faith you will respond to it. Instead you ignore it. You have no response to the Paula Fredrickson example. More proof that you are ignorant and bigoted. Slrubenstein | Talk 22:50, 11 August 2010 (UTC)
Sigh. We're going to have to do the whole stupid Wikipedia:Requests for comment/User conduct, aren't we? And since RfCs don't do any good, we'll have to keep going to arbitration after that.
Noloop's "response", as Slrubenstein observes, is not a response at all. I gave a specific example of a scholar who specializes in early Christianity, teaches at a non-sectarian university, has published articles in a peer-reviewed journal that is published by SAGE publications. Noloop's desire for sources from the "secular, peer-reviewed community" is ridiculous, but he's going to have to explain why this article doesn't qualify. So far, Noloop's argument is "those scholars are Christians and those journals/books are published by Christians so they're biased." This argument is specious, but in the case of this article by Fredriksen both premises are false. --Akhilleus (talk) 00:33, 12 August 2010 (UTC)
I agree with Noloop that it's unfortunate these articles rely so heavily on academics who are themselves religious. I don't see it as bigoted to point that out, and I apologize if it comes across that way. But I'm still unclear what the argument on this page is about. The page needs a well-written section on the Christ myth theory, summary style, at the very least, and without the ad hominem insults that are currently on the page. The theory should really be woven throughout this article, but it's been set up as a POV fork, and I'm not sure how we would undo that now.
So the question is: are there secular sources who Noloop feels have something to add and who are being excluded? Russell was mentioned above, but he barely says anything about this. Is there anyone else? SlimVirgin talk|contribs 05:41, 12 August 2010 (UTC)
The basic problem is Noloop's assertion that academics who are Christian are biased such that they are not reliable indications of mainstream scholarship. That's what Noloop is saying—that someone like John P. Meier represents only the views of the "Christian community", not scholarship in general. This is incorrect—Meier, Borg, etc. are mainstream scholarship in this area.
A second problem, however, is that Noloop seems to believe that anyone who studies early Christianity and who publishes in the normal scholarly venues in this field—Journal for the Study of the New Testament being only one example—is a Christian, and therefore biased. Other editors seem to be following Noloop in this assumption. But it should be fairly obvious that not everyone who studies early Christianity is a Christian. (It should also be fairly obvious that we shouldn't care what religion a scholar practices, or doesn't—what matters is how their work is received by their colleagues.) Asserting that everyone who studies the New Testament does so from a faith-based perspective is simply false. --Akhilleus (talk) 13:41, 12 August 2010 (UTC)
Systemic bias in the selection of sources exists all over wiki articles on religion, not only Christianity, so it is not as if there was something peculiar here. Noloop is making generic statements about systemic bias, and Akhilleus and several others have given numerous examples showing that non-Christian or secular scholars have discussed this. One that is missing is Robert Eisenman, a sophisticated biblical textual critic, who appears to believe that Jesus did not exist (i.e. the Jesus of the Gospels is not 'historical'), but that his 'brother' did, and that more or less the story of Jesus is essentially a Pauline, late Christian overwrite recodifying a narrative that is essentially the story of James ('one of the most successful rewrite enterprises ever accomplished' R.Eisenman, James the Brother of Jesus (1997) Watkins Publishing, London 2002 p.963). So you can get some very peculiar positions here. A secular scholar denying the existence of Christ, while saying that the documents refer to someone else, who did exist. Eisenman would however be considered fringe, even by secular peers.
The burden of proof however is on Noloop. He refuses to supply sources, as everyone requests, and talking generically gets us nowhere.Nishidani (talk) 09:52, 12 August 2010 (UTC)
ps. the 'textus receptus' should be changed to 'standard version' both for the general readers' readier comprehension, and to avoid some confusion. It is true that 'textus receptus' is now used more widely of many printed texts established from several manuscripts to have an agreed on standard version, but it still carries with it the idea of the New Testament textus receptus of Erasmus, and then Abraham and Elzevir's Greek text.
  • (RFC comment) I think the lead fo the article should have both positions articulated in as short a paragraph as possible. This isn't the Jesus article, this is the article about the efforts to establish a historical basis for whether Jesus existed. I suspect that there are some Christians who might feel threatened by an article about this topic. If that is the case, it doesn't make sense. As a matter of faith, both the historical existence of Jesus or his divinity are irrelevant. Faith doesn't require evidence. Elmmapleoakpine (talk) 23:50, 12 August 2010 (UTC)

Jrtayloriv's lead changes

Jrtayloriv changed the 2nd sentence of the lead from Material which may be cited as evidence to Material which is often presented as "evidence" with the edit summary More neutral -- The current version implies that citing the Bible might actually be some form of historical evidence, which it isn't. First of all, can we nix the scare quotes? Also, please note how the meaning of the sentence was changed, perhaps inadvertently. We are not claiming that something such as "early Christian Creeds" or "apocryphal documents" or the "Church Fathers" are often presented as evidence, where I would argue that these things are not "often" used as evidence. My intention for the sentence is to summarize all the general category of sources we later discuss. Some are used often, some are not. By saying "may", the purpose was to make it clear that not all scholars will use and support all the sources. It is an inclusive list spanning almost all known documentary sources, even if some are less valuable than others. Hence, scholars may use some sources. Perhaps we should split the sentence up into two concepts. One sentence simply listing the sources "There exists various documentry sources dating to ancient times which mention Jesus, such as the....." and then another sentence "Over the centuries, scholars have examined the sources to determine their historical credibility and..." you know, something like that? I think Jrtayloriv's version is problematic because of the use of "often" and the scare quotes. I'd be fine with a simple revert, or changes to address those concerns, but perhaps a different approach altogether may reach a common ground. -Andrew c [talk] 13:37, 27 August 2010 (UTC)

RfC on in-text attribution

When we use in-text attribution regarding a point about the historicity of Jesus, and the source is an ordained minister or similar, should we include that information in the attribution? For example, should we write: "New Testament scholar N.T. Wright, the Bishop of Durham, argues that ..."? SlimVirgin talk|contribs 16:54, 26 August 2010 (UTC)


(no threaded discussion here, please)

  • Support. When I use an academic source in an animal rights article, if I know the academic is also an animal rights activist, I signal that in some way to the reader. For example, I might write: "Philosopher John Smith, himself an animal rights advocate, argues that ..." Or "Philosopher John Smith, former spokesman for "Free the Animals!", believes that ..." That tells the reader that this is a good source, but that there may be a POV issue. If I'm using that source in a general philosophy article, there's no need to mention it, but where I'm adding his scholarly views to an article that touches directly on issues he has strong personal feelings about, it becomes relevant. The same principle applies here. SlimVirgin talk|contribs 16:54, 26 August 2010 (UTC)
  • I'm not going to say 100% of the time we should never do this, but from what I have experienced on this page, efforts to make these sorts of attribution have been a round about way of making accusations of Christian bias in sources that otherwise have no sourced reason to suspect bias. The way some users have been pushing these attributions is nothing short of well poisoning. Read Poisoning the well, it fits. IMO. If we are going to illustrate animal rights, the comparison I draw is with abortion. If a scholar publishes a paper in a peer reviewed journals, such as JAMA or Lancet, and no conflicts of interest are declared, it is not our jobs as editors to google the authors of the paper and attach the "pro-choice" or "pro-life" label to these studies. Or, do we say "The pro-choice WHO found incidents of unsafe abortion in developing countries to be..."? In my opinion, we should not be attempting to label every fact and figure in the abortion article as representative of some polar opposite in a political debate. Similarly here, I don't think we should be trying to make the distinction between Christian and non-Christian sources. Such a model too simplistic (Christians views are quite diverse, especially with the CMT proponent Robert Price being episcopal and a former baptist minister), it creates a sort of false dichotomy, and I believe is being pushed as an attempt to say "whatever follows should be taken with a grain of salt because it is representative of a Christian POV, because Christians cannot be unbiased in regards to anything related to their religion". I would say, if there is evidence that we are presenting a strictly Christian view, that should be labeled, but looking up whether an author is ordained or not is NOT valid criteria for determining bias. -Andrew c [talk] 17:11, 26 August 2010 (UTC)
  • Support Because, I see all sources on matters like religion, as having some bias or other due to their social and cultural influences. If we simply use terms like scholar, etc. the reader is likely to be misled into thinking that he is reading unbiased material. It is like deliberate misinformation. Why should we keep the info from the reader? Scholars have freely admitted the biased nature of their views and go on to say that the same applies to all others. We wield our criteria to get what we want. ….We all see what we expect to see….[15]Dale Allison (The Historical Christ and the Theological Jesus,pg 59). -Civilizededucationtalk 17:54, 26 August 2010 (UTC)
  • Oppose. I think Andrew says it quite well—the way attribution has been used recently on this article, and in some articles about Jesus, has been to accuse sources of bias, without any attempt to establish whether the scholarship cited actually is biased. In some cases it may be appropriate to mention a particular author's position as a bishop, pastor, whatever—N. T. Wright might be one case, except he's only going to be the bishop of Durham for a few more days. After that, he's going to a research position in New Testament at the University of St Andrews. Wright isn't cited in this article, so he's perhaps not the best example, but the point is that he's cited in articles like historical Jesus not because he's a bishop, but because he's considered a major scholar on the historical Jesus. If his work is biased, that can be described through responses to Wright in reliable sources—some of which, among other things, say that his work is motivated by a conservative agenda. Such characterizations are far more informative for the reader than simply labeling him as a clergyman. --Akhilleus (talk) 18:21, 26 August 2010 (UTC)
  • Comment – I think the best way of dealing with annotating attributions is look at what other sources say on a case-by-case basis. If a statement in our text is attributed, then I assume it's because it's a (normally primary) source representing a view that other sources disagree with – since otherwise the statement would be made as fact. If the balance of other reliable secondary sources discussing the author's work make the attribution, then we should too; if not, then we shouldn't. --RexxS (talk) 18:59, 26 August 2010 (UTC)
  • Oppose This is already covered clearly in WP:ASF. For uncontested statements of fact, we don't attribute. Attribution is supposed to be used for statements of opinion or of contested facts. As far as Christianity-based articles, if a notable scholar is asserting a fact in a reliable publication, we don't need to mention the scholar's religion, unless the fact is contested by another reliable source. If they are making a statement of opinion, or if the fact is contested, then according to WP:ASF we mention each of the significant views, with attribution, and giving them due weight. Again, there is really no reason to be having this conversation -- WP:ASF already tells us what to do. -- Jrtayloriv (talk) 19:14, 26 August 2010 (UTC)
  • Support Relevant information about the source of a scholarly opinion is always relevant and virtually never something that can be construed to be biased. Mentioning someone's position as a minister should hardly even be a matter of debate, former bishops included. Mentioning someone's religion seems less clear-cut, though. It would very much depend on how the belief has been expressed. If anything, compare it with politics: mentioning that a political writer is a (former) politician of a certain party is obvious, but not necessarily what party s/he voted for. Peter Isotalo 19:32, 26 August 2010 (UTC)
  • Not always - I think it's good writing practice to signal the cited authority's role in relation to a topic, but I don't think we need to legislate for it. Doing so simply because "there may be a POV issue" is not really an adequate starting-point. We should already be judging whether there is a POV issue (i.e., do different WP:RSs hold conflicting views). However, in the event that there is a POV issue, I would say it should be incumbent upon us to state the role as suggested. PL290 (talk) 19:34, 26 August 2010 (UTC)
  • Support. As long as such descriptors of sources are factually accurate, relevant, and not overtly unfavorable or pejorative, it seems to me that it will improve the article to include this information. SV provides an excellent example with regard to animal rights sources. I disagree with the notion that we should not tell the reader that a source is a Christian in an article about the central figure of Christianity. Andrew c's claim that this is "poisoning the well" is accurate only if you believe it is an insult to call someone a Christian. We should not leave out objective, factually correct, and relevant information about a source, just because some readers may be bigoted. PeaceLoveHarmony (talk) 20:20, 26 August 2010 (UTC)
  • Oppose Akhilleus makes the point well that sources are authoritative because of their standing as scholars, not their status as clergy (or holder of any other office, for that matter). Labeling sources as such calls attention to their affiliation in a way that invites us to presume about their biases without adding anything important to our understanding of what they have to say. --Nasty Housecat (talk) 20:47, 26 August 2010 (UTC)
  • Support If this were a controversial comment related to the biography of Barack Obama, as a reader I'd like to know who made the comment, and what his political background is, to understand the context. I see no difference here. History and its interpretation are highly politicized, esp. when they relate to modern issues. So when it comes to the history of religious figures revered by some modern day historians, our readers have the right to know where those historians are coming from, to get the full picture. Crum375 (talk) 21:30, 26 August 2010 (UTC)
  • Support in some instances. Some illumination on the background of the person giving the commentary, if it is relevant, is something that I would advertise. The occupation revealed should, in my opinion, be in a short, preface-like manner that isn't too long or distracting. If it breaks one of those principles or is unimportant, then it shouldn't be there for the particular cases. Backtable Speak to meconcerning my deeds. 23:43, 26 August 2010 (UTC)
  • Oppose per Akhilleus and others. Would those who support this RFC also support the same for Jewish scholars writing about Holocaust Denial, or Holocaust-related articles? And what about atheist/agnostics? Should their philosophical world views be mentioned when they deny the mere existence of Jesus as a historical figure, or even Jesus-related articles? Personally, I think this is not the appropriate place to be asking for an RFC. This is a straight-up Wikipedia policy matter, and thus should be handled on that level in order to be applied fairly across all articles rather than just Jesus-related articles. Bill the Cat 7 (talk) 00:33, 27 August 2010 (UTC)
  • Support If someone is an ordained minster, that is an important fact in the attribution. At the same time, the fact that they are ordained should be verifiable. Elmmapleoakpine (talk) 02:15, 27 August 2010 (UTC)
  • Support As mentioned before comparing Historicity of Jesus to Holocaust Denial is a red herring as there are contemporary records written by the Nazis themselves that support the Holocaust. Nothing even remotely like that exists for Jesus and as the Acts of Pilate shows there where Christian writers who weren't above forging supporting documentation. Unlike any other religion, Christianity as it is largely practiced is linked to the hip with its supposed founder; one pro Christ Myth theory site even claimed that one reason Darwin delayed publishing his book was that a man that claimed Jesus didn't exist had been thrown in jail for blasphemy some years before; the law in question wasn't appealed until 2008.--BruceGrubb (talk) 04:28, 27 August 2010 (UTC)
  • Support. I wouldn't phrase the question with the word "should," nonetheless, I support the basic idea. Attribution certainly can be a good idea in certain circumstances, such as when there is possibility of bias or conflict of interest. The circumstances that make it a good idea here are 1) Christians aren't neutral on the existence of Jesus. This is doubly true of entities in the business of promoting Christianity, such as priests, ministers, and Christian presses. 2) There is a heavy reliance in these articles on Christian sources, suggesting that the articles couldn't exist in their current form with strictly secular, academic sourcing. That's something a reader might want to know (I would want to know it).Noloop (talk) 04:47, 27 August 2010 (UTC)
Additional comment: Sometimes the source should be mentioned simply because it is of interest. For example, in working on Women's rights in Saudi Arabia, I often mentioned if a source was a Saudi woman. Not, obviously, to imply that Saudi women are unreliable or biased sources. It is simply something that a reader might want to know. Likewise, a reader might want to know the religious background of sources for statements about Jesus. It's interesting information, so give it, and let the reader decide whether it matters. Noloop (talk) 04:58, 27 August 2010 (UTC)
  • Oppose. When recognised experts are cited, you should assume they are being objective and give them the 'benefit of the doubt'. rossnixon 09:53, 27 August 2010 (UTC)
  • If the suggestion is that all statements whatsoever must attribute the religious affiliation of the person quoted, than I say oppose, on the grounds that it would be unwieldy. If the suggestion is that such a restriction apply only to Christian scholars, than I say oppose again, on the grounds of WP:NPOV -- there is no reason why Christian academics should be systematically treated differently from non-Christian academics. If the suggestion is that in some cases it is helpful to include an attribution which locates an author in the space of possible opinions, than I agree, but that's hardly revolutionary: we already do that. -- Radagast3 (talk) 10:06, 27 August 2010 (UTC)
We don't" already do that" in these articles--the attempt is stridently opposed and immediately reverted wherever it occurs. Also, there is a reason that people who worship X should be treated skeptically in the search for objective statements about X. Noloop (talk) 14:15, 27 August 2010 (UTC)
  • Oppose as a general principle, although in some cases it might be relevant to mention, particularly if, for instance, the comments are in a non-academic publication affiliated with the church itself, or the individual is speaking directly about the issue as it relates to his particular church. If an individual has been, as sometimes if rarely, happens been given an honorific title for his academic work late in life, then it would be to my eyes inappropriate to place this title on the writer regarding any work he may have received prior to getting the title. Also, for better or worse, there is a rather long book on Independent Bishops: An International Directory, which can be found at [16], which indicates, among other things, how I believe at least a few "bishops" of even neopagan type religions have been officially consecrated as bishops by members of some Old Catholic, Liberal Catholic, or other groups. In such cases, it would be misleading to say that a neopagan had been ordained as an Old Catholic bishop, if the individual in fact were leading neopagan rituals. Lastly, instituting this as a general rule would almost certainly lead to individuals seeking to brand Nicola Cabibbo, former head of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, as a "Catholic", given his role with the Academy. The fact that Cabibbo's specialty, weak interaction, is not one which really lends itself to religious opinions would make adding such qualifications irrational regarding any particular points on his specialty he might make, although I could see some individuals, perhaps based on their own motivations, seeking to in effect discredit his statements if they disagreed with them. John Carter (talk) 15:08, 27 August 2010 (UTC)
  • Support. in theory. When I hear "ordained minister" I would rather hear "scholar," "historian", "theologian", or someone educated at an accredited school, not someone self-ordained, for example. People not in this category or equivalent (there were early church fathers with no "degree" who are recognized authorities nonetheless) should not be quoted at all IMO. They would (theoretically, with the exceptions noted) not be WP:RELY. Who needs "commentators" or "tv announcers" or "fiction writers" or whatever? They have their own venues. This isn't it.
As far as "only the bible" theory goes, this is like collecting the works of "Millard Fillmore" (say) into one volume (possible probably) and claiming that "we only have that one book" and therefore Millard Fillmore might never have existed! Collecting documents should not be a process of personality destruction! People did argue about what went into that book. That is understandable. The New Testament is "sort of" self-proving inasmuch as the non-self-serving stuff was left in with the other stuff. Who would want to show that their religious leader was a weakling who was whipped and could "do nothing" to "save himself"? Not obvious to a person familiar with the times that that approach would gain a following! Student7 (talk) 19:36, 28 August 2010 (UTC)
  • Support, where the assertion is contested (the existence of Q, James' fraternity with Jesus, etc) or where the assertion is an opinion or estimate (e.g., the likelihood the gospels were all written in the 1st century, assertions regarding scholarly consensus based on the author's gut feel, rather than a thorough peer reviewed survey, etc.). Anthony (talk) 17:32, 30 August 2010 (UTC)
  • Support. When the source has a clear conflict of interest (namely studying something they believe to be their personal savior and gateway to eternal life) the reader should be informed. -- ۩ Mask 16:46, 2 September 2010 (UTC)
  • Support per Anthony, above. Not something that needs to be done slavishly, but wherever the source has a POV based on the religion or other conviction of the author which may reasonably be thought (whether rightly or wrongly) to have an effect on the way they express themselves, this ought to be disclosed to the reader. It is suggested above that this is "a roundabout way of making accusations of Christian bias". I would prefer not to use the word "accusation", but where there is a possibility of bias, be it Christian, Buddhist, atheist or Satanist, we should not hide this. --FormerIP (talk) 00:52, 4 September 2010 (UTC)

Threaded discussion

I generally see all persons as being highly biased in matters of religion. Scholars, non-scholars alike. They are biased because of their strong, early social and cultural influences. It is not like active hostility on something. It is something that they cannot see, they don’t even realize they have it, and cannot help even if they do realize. This is why I generally support attribution of religious POV on all religion matters. In the entire field of Historicity of Jesus, we now have direct proof. A self-indictment. We wield our criteria to get what we want. Please just read [17]. I generally support attribution of all religious/irreligious POV, wherever it appears relevant, but in the present field, the need is even greater because it is predominantly covered by scholars affiliated to one religion only. In the present case, the bias is even more well defined.

In the field of holocaust denial, I don’t see the need to attribute POV because of....whatever. I may want to see some proof of bias in this field. You may say I am biased in this matter. (I am not Jewish in any way, to be clear.)

I don’t know why some people keep saying that no material has been produced to show that bias exists in this field (HoJ). We have proof now. And it stands unchallenged.-Civilizededucationtalk 02:47, 27 August 2010 (UTC)

The idea that academics are in some way "objective," as someone mentioned above, is wrong-headed. Scholars are not expected to be neutral, they're expected to advance positions. It's what you do from PhD level on. Adding strong religious views to the mix takes you even further from the Wikipedia concept of neutrality. SlimVirgin talk|contribs 12:00, 27 August 2010 (UTC)
@Civilizededucation, everyone has a bias and no wise person would deny it. But that's not the question. The question is whether we can AGF on the part of scholars who represent a consensus view in their field of study or are such a large number of scholars incapable of putting aside their biases in order to conduct good, reliable research? That is, we are not talking about a single scholar here, but rather very large groups as a whole. I maintain that just as Jewish scholars can maintain objectivity in the pursuit of Holocaust history, or anti-Semitism history in general, so too can Christian scholars maintain objectivity in the pursuit of an historical Jesus. Thus when Holocaust-denying cranks and/or bigots want to use attribution for all (or most) reliable sources who happen to be Jewish, then I agree with you that there is no need to attribute POV. In fact, such people should be quickly dismissed.
@SV, no one said (as far as I know) that academics are supposed to be "neutral" (as in not having a personal opinion on the matter). What they are supposed to be is fair and even-handed in their methodology, applying it logically and consistently. And when those who are in pursuit of a PhD advance a position are not applying their methodology consistently and fairly, then they will not get their degree (at least not from an accredited college). Bill the Cat 7 (talk) 01:21, 28 August 2010 (UTC)
You've been asked a thousand times to stop the Holocaust denial comparisons, and being Jewish is not a set of beliefs like Christianity, so the analogy is a poor one. I wouldn't argue that African-American scholars shouldn't be used for African-American history, or Jewish scholars for Jewish history, or English scholars for English history. But practicing a religion is a matter of belief, and where that belief depends in whole or in part on the existence of Jesus, there is obviously a difficulty. SlimVirgin talk|contribs 01:45, 28 August 2010 (UTC)
You said, ...being Jewish is not a set of beliefs like Christianity. Ironically, you kind of made my case for me. Yes, being Jewish does not necessarily mean a person accepts Judaism (although that is sometimes the case). In the same way, accepting an historical Jesus does not mean a person accepts Christianity. Then you said, ...where that belief depends in whole or in part on the existence of Jesus, there is obviously a difficulty. I have no idea what sort of Christians you've known, but the ones that I know first accept the historicity of Jesus before accepting his claims. I mean, what kind of person accepts the historical claims of an un-historical personage? It sounds to me as you are saying that highly trained Christian scholars are inherently fools, and thus cannot be trusted to be fair with the evidence.
Furthermore, to say that a person can only be biased if "belief" (by which I assume you mean "theological belief") is involved ignores recorded human history. Many, many people have said or done things based on a bias of national and/or ethnic pride/motivation/bigotry. So whether any Holocaust scholar is a religious or non-religious Jew is irrelevant and my point still stands—that is, Jewish scholars can be falsely and irrationally accused by any person with bigoted motivations. What matters most is if his peers think his work is methodologically sound, logical, and consistent with the evidence. Bill the Cat 7 (talk) 03:48, 28 August 2010 (UTC)
Again, Holocaust denial is a totally different thing then the Christ Myth theory--the different in technology alone makes the comparison ridiculous never mind the provenance differences. Unlike Holocaust denial, Christ Myth theory is based on the fact that the evidence for the existence for Jesus is very poor--the so called eyewitness accounts are anonymous sources no one extensively refers to until the mid 2nd century and the only two sources that may provide support have been either tampered with (Josephus) or show indications of just repeating an urban myth like that of the Eagle the Seal of the United State looking to its left (the arrows) in times of declared war (Tacitus). The remaining third party sources either only refer to the movement existing (Pliny the Younger) or smack of a desperation to find any supporting evidence (Thallus, Suetonius, and sometimes the Talmud). Unlike the early supporters of the CMT we can point to the John Frum cult as an example of how a sizable religion can come into being with no real detectable founder.
"In 1957 the commander of the American warship Yankee was prevailed on to visit and attempt to explain that no such person as John Frum existed in the United States. The crowds listened and then dismissed him as false." (The Pacific Islands: an encyclopedia Lal, Brij V.; Kate Fortune (2000) University of Hawaii Press Pg 303)
"It (the John Frum Lotu) reads the Scriptures, but regards John Frum as the true Christ for the people of Tanna (Vanuatu)." (Zocca, Franco (2007) Melanesia and its Churches: past and present Melanesian Institute for Pastoral & Socio-Economic Service)
The Johnson "cargo cult" shows how a living person can be plugged into such movements in an effort to achieve social-political ends (Cargo Cult As Theater By Dorothy K. Billings)
Striped of flawed theories such as the sun deity origin the CMT has some merits especially given the hostile response Wise and Knohl for suggesting that Jesus was inspired by preceding messiahs. Comparing CMT to Holocaust denial IMHO only shows that the writer is desperate in the same way anyone presenting Pliny the Younge, Thallus, Suetonius, or even the Talmud as "proof" of Jesus existed is.--BruceGrubb (talk) 20:11, 28 August 2010 (UTC)

(redent) I really don't see the point of Bill the Cat's bringing up Jews who write about Holocaust Denial. That is not only a very poor analogy, it is really not relevant. How is it not helpful to the reader to let them know that a source is an adherent of a religion, when the article is about the central figure of that religion? I cannot fathom how anyone could consider it to be an insult or an ad hominem attack to simply provide an objective, factual descriptor of the source. It is not our responsibility to control what happens in the reader's mind when he/she sees a word like "Christian" or "Jewish". Censoring these words is the height of politically-correct absurdity. PeaceLoveHarmony (talk) 22:11, 28 August 2010 (UTC)

I think Jrtayloriv below states the problem quite well: "I know that nobody is suggesting that 'we would have to start every statement with an attribution'. They are suggesting that we start statements by Christians with an attribution, and that we don't do this for atheists or Jews or Buddhists. This is one of the primary reasons why WP:ASF is written as it is. It clearly lays out when we should attribute things, so we don't end up with one-sided articles where everything by a certain social group is attributed to reduce its credibility, while everything by other social groups is presented plainly as fact." This is why I've referred to this idea as ad hominem labeling—the idea is to "inform" the reader that certain scholars suffer from a bias, because they're Christian. Never mind that no one seems interested in actually examining the scholarship in question to see if it's actually biased or not, and if so how; a potential bias is enough. --Akhilleus (talk) 04:08, 29 August 2010 (UTC)

WP:ASF already tells us what to do here

There is no reason to be having the above discussion about whether to attribute certain historical assertions in this article. This is already covered very clearly in WP:ASF. If it's a fact that is not disputed by other reliable sources, it does not need to be attributed. If it's an opinion, or a statement of fact that is contradicted by other reliable sources, it needs to be attributed. There is no exception in WP:ASF for articles discussing religion, philosophy, etc. -- Jrtayloriv (talk) 04:01, 27 August 2010 (UTC)

The question is not whether or when to use in-text attribution. The question is: when we do use it, do we add that the source is an ordained minister or similar? SlimVirgin talk|contribs 12:00, 27 August 2010 (UTC)
As I said above, this is already covered in WP:ASF. If it's a statement of fact made in a reliable sources, then we can assert it without attribution unless it's contradicted by other reliable sources. If it's a statement of opinion, we attribute it to the author. If you think that a fact being asserted in a reliable is incorrect and is biased by someone's religious beliefs, then you should be able to find other reliable sources which contradict this fact. Then you should attribute the statement and mention the possible conflict of interest. If you can't find reliable sources which contradict a statement of fact, then it's not contested, and per WP:ASF, we don't attribute it.-- Jrtayloriv (talk) 15:47, 27 August 2010 (UTC)
I tend to agree that, particularly in scientific matters and their relation to religion, almost everyone alive today can be said to have a bias. If this proposal is to go forward, then I would assume, in the interests of fairly applying the principal across the board, we would be obliged to state the religious opinions, including atheism and agnosticism, of any individual who ever sought to address any matter which could be considered to fall in the general field of religion vs. science. I would have to think that doing so would be a detriment to the project. John Carter (talk) 15:26, 27 August 2010 (UTC)
Exactly. If we decide not to follow WP:ASF then we'll have to start every statement with "So-and-so, who is a(n) atheist-muslim-buddhist-etc....". We should just stick to policy, which is very clear on what to do. -- Jrtayloriv (talk) 15:47, 27 August 2010 (UTC)
Nobody is suggesting that we would have to start every statement with an attribution. The point is that sometimes it is a good idea. WP:ASF does not tell us what to do in every case. Editing isn't just following rules. It says: "There are bound to be borderline cases where careful editorial judgment needs to be exercised – either because a statement is part way between a fact and an opinion, or because it is not clear whether there is a serious dispute – editorial consideration of undue weight will determine whether a particular disagreement between sources is significant enough to be acknowledged." Noloop (talk) 20:50, 27 August 2010 (UTC)
Then why did this conversation start in the first place? Why didn't we just follow WP:ASF (as I suggested) and use our judgement for each assertion individually, rather than trying to come up with some specialized attribution rule for this article?
I know that nobody is suggesting that "we would have to start every statement with an attribution". They are suggesting that we start statements by Christians with an attribution, and that we don't do this for atheists or Jews or Buddhists. This is one of the primary reasons why WP:ASF is written as it is. It clearly lays out when we should attribute things, so we don't end up with one-sided articles where everything by a certain social group is attributed to reduce its credibility, while everything by other social groups is presented plainly as fact.
I never claimed that editing was "just following rules". But in this case, there is no reason not to follow the rules -- and the times when we apply WP:IAR are those times that we've got a good reason to do so. But WP:ASF clearly tells us what to do here, and there has been no valid reasoning provided to not do what WP:ASF suggests. We follow policies unless we've got good reason not to, and here there are no good reasons not to.
The "part way between fact and opinion" bit is mean to refer to things like "Hugo Chavez' price controls have led to nationwide food shortages.", which are asserting something as fact, but which are disputed by other reliable sources (e.g. some people say that food manufacturers and distributors hoarding food so they can make a bigger profit is what led to the shortages). The key point is that reliable sources dispute the factual accuracy of the first statement, so we need to attribute each of the viewpoints. For statements of fact like "Hugo Chavez is president of Venezuela", which no (or at least an insignificant number of) reliable sources dispute, we don't need attribution. The same applies to things regarding Christianity. If reliable sources claim that a fact isn't true here, then we'll include them, and attribute both sides. If we have high-quality reliable sources claiming that a certain fact is true, and don't have ANY reliable sources contradicting it, then we don't need attribution. -- Jrtayloriv (talk) 22:12, 27 August 2010 (UTC)
The history of the dispute is that every single attempt to identify the religious background of a source was reverted and pronounced bigoted. I think putting a stop to that is the purpose of the RFC. The idea, I think, is that it can be relevant and a good idea, particularly in an area ripe with potential bias, such as Christians making factual statements about the existence of Jesus. I doubt anybody is suggesting that every statement by a Christian be attributed. Noloop (talk) 05:12, 30 August 2010 (UTC)
If a Christian asserts a fact in a reliable source, and that assertion is not contradicted by other reliable sources, we don't need to attribute the assertion with their religious beliefs. If a Christian makes a claim that is contradicted by other reliable sources, I have no problem mentioning that they are Christians, to point out a potential conflict of interest since the facts don't agree. The key point, however, is that we should only do this where reliable sources contest their claims. -- Jrtayloriv (talk) 06:53, 30 August 2010 (UTC)
Naturally, if we're dealing with a fact, accepted as such by all editors, we don't need to attribute it. That's not the sort of situation under discussion. The statements in question have to do with the historicity of Jesus, and there is very little editorial agreement about what the facts are. We have reliable sources that are skeptical about historical Jesus. They are a minority of the total sources who published on the matter. But, the majority of those who publish on the matter are Christian theologians, priests, etc., and often the presses are Christian as well. So. Some editors insist the skepticism is so small it should be considered a fringe theory and Jesus' historicity should be considered a fact. Others editors disagree. Some editors think the need to rely on Christian sources is evidence that the mainstream scholarship is indifferent or uncommitted, others disagree. Some editors think Christians are intrinsically biased on the existence of Jesus, others disagree. The facts are not clear. So, a rubric about how to report facts doesn't provide much guidance, that I can see. Noloop (talk) 17:07, 30 August 2010 (UTC)
Part of the problem I see is the attempt to label them as "Christian" without providing clear and explicit evidence that their opinions are in any way directly related to their status as Christians. Bart Ehrman and Elaine Pagels, both of whom are self-declared Christians, somewhere (I wish I could remember) are attributed as saying that they have come to believe or accept that it may have been the intention of the Christian god in which they believe for there to be any clear and explicit evidence of the existence or divinity of Christ. Particularly in the context of Judeo-Christianity, which by and large believes in an "adversary" or devil, it makes a great deal of sense to believe that this adversary may have engaged in some disinformation campaigning as soon as he was aware of the situation. In any event, however, based on their statements to this effect, it would be rather difficult to defend branding either Ehrman or Pagels as a Christian in relation to some academic opinions they may have expressed, because by doing so that editor would be effectively, attributing their actions to their beliefs, without necessarily producing the required verification of that and with (somewhere) some evidence to the effect that they do not as Christians necessary believe that their personal religious beliefs and motivations are even remotely influenced by the little contemporary evidence that may be found. John Carter (talk) 17:35, 5 September 2010 (UTC)
Bart Ehrman is not a Christian. FYI. Bill the Cat 7 (talk) 18:19, 5 September 2010 (UTC)
Not any more, you're right. Sorry about that. John Carter (talk) 18:33, 5 September 2010 (UTC)

Question regarding the location of the "line" which we shouldn't cross regarding attribution

I recently found this quote from David Boulton's book Who on Earth was Jesus? regarding Robert M. Price's review of the book James the Brother of Jesus. On page 332 of his book, Boulton says,

"As Robert M. Price, a sympathetic critic and fellow-scholar, puts it, 'James the Brother of Jesus often seems too circuitous and redundant, but this is the result of [Eisenman's] having to keep a number of balls in the air at once. He has to begin explaining something here, put it on hold, go to something else that you'll need to plug into the first explanation, then return to it, go on to another, and another, then come back to the earlier items, remind you of them, and then finally assemble the whole complex device. Eisenman is like the Renaissance artists who had to hand-craft all the intricate parts of a planned invention.' This is a generous way of saying what other scholars have said more astringently: that the arguments are often convoluted, the judgement imaginative, and the conclusions unconvincing. But Price, a Fellow of the Westar Institute and Jesus Seminar, which as a group stands far removed from Eisenman's methodology, ends his review with a positive appraisal: 'The book is an ocean of instructive insight and theory, a massive and profound achievement that should open up new lines of New Testament research."

Now, the main points I find important here are the fact that a source itself uses the identifying word, and that the word used is not "Christian" or anything like that, but "sympathetic." A review of the literature available would indicate that Price and the author of the book in question are among the few academics today who question the historicity of Jesus as much as they do, and that this is directly relevant to the academic views they have expressed as individuals, rather than a statement based on their religion, which, like I indicated above, might not always be directly relevant. Also, in this particular case, such attribution serves as an indication, if only based on theory, as to why the opinions of one person might differ dramatically from those of his colleagues.
I can and do see that it might make sense to use "sympathetic" or something similar when it is clear from the weight of evidence that the individual in question has specific beliefs or opinions of fairly direct and obvious relevance to the opinions being expressed, and if there is clear sourcing, somewhat like the above, to that effect. But, in general, I do think that we might be crossing WP:OR territory if we were to assign it on our own without extremely overwhelming evidence. In this particular case, I myself might drop the "sympathetic". But in other cases, like maybe if Halton Arp endorsed a book which agreed with his quasar theory, or similar cases, such might reasonably be included. John Carter (talk) 17:53, 5 September 2010 (UTC)

Exist or not

Article already includes Talmud reference to Yoshua. Agree that it could be derivative from NT gospels. There is that problem. It gets to a point though... Student7 (talk) 14:05, 29 August 2010 (UTC)

The whose section on the Talmud should go, it is marginal to any discussion of the historicity of Jesus and mainstream historians do not use it as a source on the historical Jesus. Slrubenstein | Talk 14:10, 29 August 2010 (UTC)
As Robert E. Van Voorst's (2000) Jesus outside the New Testament: an introduction to the ancient evidence shows there are mainstreamers who consider the Talmud evidence for Jesus: "Jesus' trial and death are treated in a passage form the Talmud that J. Louis Martyn has justly called the "most famous 'Jesus references' in all of rabbinic literature" (pg 114). Like it or not that is the way it is.--BruceGrubb (talk) 12:18, 30 August 2010 (UTC)

contents vs. title

I see a real disconect between the title and the contents of this article. The contents is a review of sources that historians discuss in relation to Jesus. So why don't we change the name of the article to "Sources Concerning Jesus" or something like that?

If this article is about the "historicity" of Jesus, I would expect to read an article about debates as to whether Jesus existed and whether we can know anyting about him if he did. For a month or more this talk page has been bogged down in a silly debate over attribution of views. Views should be attributed; we should attribute views based on how the author identifies him/her views, or based on secondary sourced (if there is a conflict obviously we report that). We also need to contextualize views - we shouldn't just mix up views from the 18th century with views from the 20th century, or debates over Christian theology versus debates over Jewish history. This point does not require us to exclude any view; simply to present them in intelligible ways.

Finally, there are historians whose views are taken very seriously by mainstream academia but these views are barely represented in the article. Ehrmann is one. Meier is another, although considered a little conservative. Crossan is far more radical but still refered to widely in academia. But what about Sanders, Fredricksen, and Vermes? Thereviews aren't even here and they are leading scholars.

But this would take the article in a very diferent direction - it would actully return us to something closer to how this article was originally envisioned when it was first given the present tittle.

Does anyone remember the history of this article? it first started as a stub on debates about whether Jesus existed, running the gamut from Higher Criticism to Jesus Myth. Then, now-banned user Cheese Dreams hijacked the article to push for the view that Jesus was really a hoax based on Mithraismd. The now-retired user Ta bu shi da yu added a lot of material on what Christian theologians think. This then led to editors introducing the accounts of sources, in an attempt to bolster the views they were pushing. Yes, the exact opposite of how to write a good WP article. The only views represented were the most extreme; "balanced" in the Crossfire idea of balance = presenting two antagonistic views. But then, when Cheesedreams was banned and the war between her at TBSDY settled down, someone got the idea that the way to make this article neutral was to delete all views, just leaving accounts of the sourcs. A correction when a correction was needed — but the wrong correction.

All that work people put into detailing sources shouldn't be wasted but really, such an article should have a different title. A really good article would include an account of debates historians have over how to use and interpret texts from the Hellenic period (or older). Comparisons between Jesus and the Holocaust, or Jesus and Abraham Lincoln, are just silly and make this whole encyclopedia look silly. Heroditus says a lot of things we today consider either stupid, ignorant, or superstitious yet we use Heroditus as a historical source - but not blindly. There is no reliable proof Socrates existed, and one thing all historians agree is that at least some Socratic Dialogues were entirely written by Plato, calling into question all Socratic Dialogues - th evidence for Pythagorus is even sketchier. I am NOT takins sides here, I am pointing out what no one seems to wish to admit and that is that all historians working with sources from two thousand years ago face similar challenges and talk among themselves about how to use the sources appropriately. Obviously a lot of people are clueless about these discussions among historians - so obviously there is a need for an article to spell it out. I think any article on primary historical sources has to provide an account of discussions among historians about how to use such sources. It is out there - it just forces editors to go to a library and read actual books rather than quote snippets from Google Scholar in order to bicker on the talk page.

As for an article on the Historicity of Jesus, I wish we could go back to how the article was in 2004. It was crude and vague and short, but at least pointed in the right direction. Coverage of the rise of critical approacjes in the 18th and 19th centuries. Divisions among Christian theologicans, between those who advocated a "life of Jesus" approach versus those who favored "Christ crucified" approach, and how this was a reaction to historical research that prompted more historical research. Then an account of debates today - some of which are debates between antagonists and defendefrs of Christianity, and others of which are more limited to historians. It seems to me that everyone bickering on this talk page could constructively join in this project. And the result would be an articl readers would actually learn from. Slrubenstein | Talk 14:44, 29 August 2010 (UTC)

There's no doubt that Socrates existed. There's evidence from his lifetime!
I'm not quite sure I understand your proposal. Wouldn't an article that's about "debates as to whether Jesus existed and whether we can know anyting about him if he did" have significant overlap with historical Jesus, Quest of the historical Jesus and Christ myth theory? As currently written, this article does something that those articles don't—systematically lists ancient sources that people use to reconstruct the life of Jesus. It does a lousy job of explaining what historians think about the historical value of these documents—something which scholars will have widely divergent views about, of course, but still something that can be covered here. It seems to me that general methodological issues about studying the historical Jesus should be at historical Jesus, and the history of scholarship in this area should be at Quest of the historical Jesus. --Akhilleus (talk) 17:51, 29 August 2010 (UTC)
That just maintains the number of articles bloat. It is way past time to get this trimmed back down to sanity.--BruceGrubb (talk) 22:07, 29 August 2010 (UTC)

Then just change the title of this article so it conirms to the contents. I agree with you there are too many article; there is no reason for a "historicity of Jesus" article and a "quest for the historical Jesus" - can you ofer one? Slrubenstein | Talk 18:24, 29 August 2010 (UTC)

You miss my point about Socrates. Have you read any good scholarly biographies of Socrates? How reliable is the evidence we have? My point is that historians always have to use sources citically and there is usually quite a bit of room for play in how we interpret those sources. How sure are we that Akiba lived? Slrubenstein | Talk 18:27, 29 August 2010 (UTC)

Just wondering if you saw Talk:Historicity_of_Jesus#Rename.2Fspin_out_idea... -Andrew c [talk] 19:11, 29 August 2010 (UTC)
Slr, I've read plenty about Socrates, and I certainly agree with your point that "historians always have to use sources critically". My point is, though, that this doesn't mean it's uncertain that Socrates lived. Rather, it's unclear what Socrates was like (this is often called the Socratic problem). This is often posed as a question about Plato—is the Socrates we see in Plato's early dialogues (e.g. Meno) representative of what Socrates actually thought? There's some similarity to historical Jesus studies...
I think the best option right now is just to change the title of this article. I think some reframing/consolidation of Jesus articles is necessary, but I doubt that it's possible to get a critical mass of editors behind any particular plan. I could be wrong, though! --Akhilleus (talk) 19:26, 29 August 2010 (UTC)
I think the best option is to start working on consolidating the Jesus articles.--BruceGrubb (talk) 04:01, 30 August 2010 (UTC)
I agree that consolidation is necessary. I propose that we start by agreeing on what content needs to be recorded in the encyclopedia, and what parts of that content require separate articles. Once we have agreed on what articles should exist and what should be included in each, we merely need to apprortion the existing content accordingly. After that, each article can be further developed as normal. Wdford (talk) 09:18, 30 August 2010 (UTC)
I support consolidation. As for content, here's a source which says that it is necessary to discuss the sources on the historicity of Jesus, and the authors of these sources to get an understanding of the historicity of Jesus [18]-Civilizededucationtalk 08:33, 31 August 2010 (UTC)


Why are threads being archived so fast? I agree that the talk page is becoming long, but I still think that the threads should be allowed a decent chance to reach a fruitful conclusion.

The thread connected with the RFC should be allowed to remain on the talk page so that other users can get an understanding of the RFC.-Civilizededucationtalk 08:12, 31 August 2010 (UTC)

That was because MiszaBot was set to 4 days. I have changed it to 14 days as there are some people don't live on Wikipedia and may check in infrequently.--BruceGrubb (talk) 09:24, 31 August 2010 (UTC)
I had rolled back the recent archiving and also inadvertently removed some important comments by Slrubenstein, Bruce Grubb and John Carter. Slr has brought the mistake to my notice and fixed it. I am grateful to him for doing so. I will try to be more careful next time.-Civilizededucationtalk 10:56, 31 August 2010 (UTC)
I did also roll back the archives. Decrease the archive time, once the issues are resolved. With 14 days and current discussion rate, will talk page size become huge. --Kslotte (talk) 21:15, 31 August 2010 (UTC)
I've changed it to 60 days. In the past have split up a talk page as active as this as in that case in MS or LA or wherever where there was the high school racial riot. Doesn't really work well because people just ignore the categorization and continue bloviating the same stuff over and over. I've suggested that historical Jesus be merged and redirected here, sidestepping the matter of fact, and that the Christians give way here to an academic, scholarly, and therefore necessarily secular treatment such as (at a minimum) the tone I noticed in the trailer for PBS' upcoming Frontline series "God in America". As they are spread out over the rest of the topic space, perhaps they can apply their principles and let the mentioned perspective dominate here. There doesn't seem to be at present anything like Secular views on Jesus (which is quite distinct from the notion that Christianity is based on a hoax), but that can be a fall back, ceding "historicity" to the Christians and in which they can't really push their beliefs. It would be a blow to the quality of the project but may be the most expeditious resolution. (talk) 01:17, 1 September 2010 (UTC)
Major correction here. As I explained over in Talk:Christ_myth_theory#Christ_myth_Theory_is_fringe_but_just_WHAT_is_it.3F there Christ myth theory is NOT that "Christianity is based on a hoax" but rather a series of seemingly unconnected ideas. As I said in Talk:Historicity_of_Jesus#Understanding_fringe Wells is a prime example of what is wrong regarding just figuring out what Christ myth Theory even is.--BruceGrubb (talk) 06:46, 1 September 2010 (UTC)
And, want to break the record in talk page length with 60 days archive time (390K and counting)? ;) Some threads from this page should be (auto-)archived ASAP, once the issues are resolved. --Kslotte (talk) 01:26, 5 September 2010 (UTC)
Sure, no reason not to manually archive a particular settled thread. Two months isn't that long though for the default on something this contentious. (talk) 01:18, 7 September 2010 (UTC)

Article Unreadable

Let me give you an example about what I mean. Most reliable sources agree that Paul, Tacitus and Josephus were Roman citizens and lived in the Roman Empire. Therefore the writings of these men could be called Roman sources. It is also true that Paul was a Christian, Tacitus was a Pagan and Josephus was a Jew. Therefore their writing could also be said to be Christian, Pagan and Jewish. Now look at the article. - Ret.Prof (talk) 21:40, 3 September 2010 (UTC)

With all due respect that is an easy problem to fix--you use the Emic and etic paradigm. Emic is the Christian community while etic is everything outside that. Since Paul wrote about Jesus after his conversion he is Emic while Tacitus and Josephus are etic. As I said very easy problem to fix.--BruceGrubb (talk) 04:33, 4 September 2010 (UTC)
@Ret.Prof.Your post in the above thread is related to the subject of this thread, as such, I request that you relocate it to this thread. Secondly, I do not agree that the articles are unreadable. They represent a fine flow of prose as far as I can see. I don't see the problem you are trying to make out. Moreover, I do not even want to find out. It is not the obligation of any particular editor to fix things in the article. In your post in the above thread, you appear to think that the article is the responsibility of one particular editor. It is totally unreasonable, to say the least.-Civilizededucationtalk 08:07, 4 September 2010 (UTC)
Civilizededucation, you said, "Moreover, I do not even want to find out." I am not sure how to take that? - Ret.Prof (talk) 17:29, 5 September 2010 (UTC)
You may take it as a sign of irritation.-Civilizededucationtalk 11:06, 6 September 2010 (UTC)

A question

I am a newcomer to this page with a question: couldn't the article maybe do a better job of showing that beliefs in Jesus as history and as myth are not necessarily incompatible? For example the view held by Thomas L. Thompson and by Robert Price (possible others that I am not familiar with) do not rule out the existence of a historical Jesus of Nazareth - they just maintain that it is the mythological figure as described in the Bible that is important for Christian religion, and that we have next to no non-mythological sources (mythological in the sense of deliberately working to establish a religious narrative) about Jesus' historical life. And couldn't this fact (that historicity and myth are not mutually exclusive) be an argument for including a mention of the view as Biblical Jesus as a kind of myth that is less of a blunt rejection in this article. I also think that we could in fact do a better job of showing that historicity of Jesus is not just about whether a person named jesus lived in palestine around 30 AD, but also about which sources about his life describe actual events and which are better understood as religious narratives. I think my point is that I think both the articles on Christ Myth, Historicity of Jesus and Jesus Christ are set up in a somewhat "black or white" fashion which doesn't do justice to the complexities of the matter. For example the way this article and the Christ Myth article is titled seems to indicate that there is a unified "Christ Myth Theory" that has been nearly universally rejected, which I think is nonsense and obfuscation because in fact there is just a continuum of degrees of beliefs in the Bible's account of Jesus as literal historical truth, and there is no single united community of scholars that can accept or reject the differing views. Also the question of whether religious people are valid as sources is a wild goose chase as for example in Denmark it is not an uncommon thing even among priests to have beliefs similar to Price's and Thompsons. Sorry to butt in - feel free to ignore my newbie ramblings. ·Maunus·ƛ· 22:03, 5 September 2010 (UTC)

Actually your concerns mirror that of some of the authors over on the Talk:Jesus_myth_theory page. As I said before we have two reliable sources (Ian Howard Marshall and Boyd-Eddy) and two notable ones (Remsburg and Barker) that say the ideas regarding Historicity of Jesus are a spectrum. Just as 484 THz 620 nm is BOTH Red and Orange in the viable spectrum this analogy implies there are places where categories overlap.
I agree that there is NOT any unified "Christ Myth Theory" but I will say that the majority of ideas labeled as such are at best fringe.--BruceGrubb (talk) 05:10, 6 September 2010 (UTC)
Fringe in relation to what? For example according to these polls[19]31 percent of the danish population does not believe in the historicity of jesus , 51 percent believes he lived but was an ordinary non-miraculous person and not the son of god, and 64 percent does not believe he rose from the dead. This is a poll made by a conservative christianb newspaper and they frame the result as it being a surprise that so many people believe in the historicity of Jesus - suggesting that one might have expected fewer people to believe in the historicity of Jesus. More than 80% of the Danish population are members of the national christian church.·Maunus·ƛ· 11:31, 6 September 2010 (UTC)
"Fringe" on wikipedia means "this is not what most experts say on this topic". It doesn't mean its wrong, just that its not currently fashionable among the "relevant experts". I also find your Danish statistics very interesting. Since Christianity is based entirely on the belief that Jesus was God and that Jesus was resurrected from death, I am a bit amazed that 80% of Danes are Christians although only 36% believe in the resurrection of Christ. How do you suppose this is possible? I think such a phenomenon would be very interesting to add to some of these articles, if you have reliable sources for these statistics. Wdford (talk) 12:58, 6 September 2010 (UTC)
For me fringe doesn't simply mean minority - but more like a very tiny radical minority. I am not convinced that in this case the distinction is quite that clear. I think the source is probably reliable - it is a major danish newspaper who made the poll. I will look around a bit for peerreviewed research that treats the subject. ·Maunus·ƛ· 19:08, 6 September 2010 (UTC)
The view that you present in your original question - am I interpreting you to be describing a position that there was a real person who in some way inspired the Gospels, but who has a human being about whose life the Gospels provide limited information, and there is also a being, simultaneously human and divine, who is the center of mainstream Christian worship, and that accounts of this being found in the NT are refracted through the beliefs of a few generations of Christians at a certain period in history that we can locate some time after the death of the human being Jesus? If this is what you are suggesting, I would say that this is the mainstream view of historians. I am of course talking about historians who either teach courses on first century Jewish history or historians of early Christianity whose training is critical (e.g. the higher and the lower criticism, basically who see "historical documents" as having been written by humans for human audiences, and thus always bearing the impring, to greater or leser degrees, of the times in which they were composed and first circulated. In other words, we cannot take Livy's account of Roman history at face value, we have to know to what extent his view of history in general and Rome in particular reflected his relations with the Julians and more generally reflected Roman politics of the day; differences between Heroditus and Thucidides reflect not just the actual facts of the Greek-persan or Peleponisian wars (insofar as we think we know them); they also reflect the difference between a Thracian who identified with the polis, versus an Asiatic Greek who identified with a more abstract idea of Hellenic civilization ... thus reading the works of these men teach us something about the times in which they were written, and not just about the events they describe). You mention Price, who is well-known, but among academic historians I think the most respected are EP Saunders, Geza Vermes, and Paula Fredricksen. Bart Ehrman seems to be joining their ranks (in terms of prestige as historians). They they use the syncretic Gospels as principal sources, but interpret them critically and all reconstruct a "historical Jesus" that is explicitly in contrast to the Christian Jesus. Slrubenstein | Talk 19:58, 6 September 2010 (UTC)
That is more or less the position I describe yes - except I would substitute the second "being" with a "character" so that there was a historical human being about whose life the gospels provide limited or possibly no information and a mythological character about whom they provide ample information (as well as valid historical information about the period in which they were written). ·Maunus·ƛ· 20:06, 6 September 2010 (UTC)
Yeah i should have said "There is also a being others claim exists" or something like that; I did not mean to suggest "truth." Well, I would say even reformulated you are still describing the majority, if not mainstream, view of historians, the most signivianct once since 1990 being the people I named. Some would add John Meier as the conservative margin of this approach (he is Catholic and insists that the question of whether Jesus was divine, did miracles etc. are simply not questions a historian can answer; they are "theological" questions and his books claim to be history, not theology, so he does not address them ... which of course is a far cry from flat-out rejecting such claims; his reconstruction leaves out anything supernatural but otherwise follows the Gospels pretty closely) and John Crossan at the radical margin of this approach (given the serious limitations of the historical sources, there is not a whole lot one can say, but Crossan claims that by drawing on anthropologicaland sociological research he can make grander inferences about Jesus, whom he portrays as a social reformer appealing to the oppressed peasantry, if I remember correctly).
Sanders, Ehrman, Vermes and Fredricksen represent the majority or mainstream view of the past fifteen or twenty years, but the view you describe has been promoted by many for quite some time. The article Quest for the historical Jesus is a highly abbreviated account of these views with links to other articles. What is missing from that article is the mainstream scholarship from the last 20 years i.e. the people I name. Also, while Sanders Fredricksen and Vermes may seem prety close from the point of view of those who believe Jesus never existed, or those believe he is God, if you are just a historian there are some important differences among them and a realy good article would explain where they diverge and debate and not synthesize from them a composite. Slrubenstein | Talk 23:10, 6 September 2010 (UTC)
I agree that this article needs to be expanded - I thought that the process might be partially achieved by merging it with overlapping articles. Can anybody remember who placed the neutrality tag in the first place, and what their concerns were? Wdford (talk) 12:19, 7 September 2010 (UTC)
I think I was the last person to place the neutrality tag. You can see some of the issues related to neutrality in the thread "Full protection". Others threads are too numerous to name. Those issues are far from resolved and the present RFC is also just a part of those issues. Noloop is more involved with the issues. You have to look into the archives to get an understanding of the neutrality issues. I had dropped in when the debate was raging and don't know how it began. Perhaps others can better answer how it began. There was another RFC here recently. Perhaps a look at it would answer your question. It should be in the archives. I gather that Noloop is unwell now and it might be better to allow a few days before we ask.-Civilizededucationtalk 14:46, 7 September 2010 (UTC)

Weigh and consider

Andrew, I tightened the writing again ("Material evidence for the historical Jesus, which scholars may weigh and consider, includes ..." but it's redundant to say people weigh and consider it), and I also made very clear again that Q might not exist, as that's a point several people raised here on talk. Also I don't know why you removed the sources; leads require sources for anything contentious. SlimVirgin talk|contribs 15:24, 24 August 2010 (UTC)

How was that not a revert? I've been proposing my changes for weeks now. I can't but not feel personally hurt by your revert, and all this talk of 0RR and mess was for naught. Singling out Q is ridiculous. First of all, you removed one of my major concerns, that we mention other sources behind the sources in the lead besides Q (and other reconstructed sources). Now there is no reference to any of that. As for singling out Q, why not single out Josephus' TF as having a questioned existence? or mention all the controversies that are later discussed. Why can't we have a single sentence describing the types (general categories) of sources to be latter discussed? I didn't include sources because I've said it 3 times already on this talk page (on 22:59, 23 August 2010 (UTC), 22:55, 9 August 2010 (UTC), and 00:50, 1 August 2010 (UTC)). I'll say it now, all the sources are in the subsections. But if you want, I'd gladly import the already existing sources into a new version of my (apparently failed) proposal. I'm sorry if I'm frustrated and upset, but what is the point of discussing things and making proposals on the talk page, and promising not to revert, when all that is going to go out the window... -Andrew c [talk] 15:43, 24 August 2010 (UTC)
Q is not being singled out. Unlike the others in the list of evidence, Q is just a hypothesis. Many editors have objected to presenting something that may not exist as evidence for the existence of something else. Why don't we just say God is evidence for the existence of Jesus. There would be no logical difference.
"Material cited as evidence for the historical Jesus includes the books of the New Testament, statements from the early Church Fathers, brief references in histories produced decades or centuries later by pagan and Jewish sources, gnostic and other apocryphal documents, and early Christian creeds.[1]" Again, we have a secular, factual claim sourced to:
Dr Robert E. Van Voorst is a Professor of New Testament Studies at Western Theological Seminary....received his B.A. in Religion from Hope College... his M.Div. from Western Theological Seminary....Ph.D. in New Testament from Union Theological Seminary... "
Eerdmans is a Christian press.
Ho-hum. Noloop (talk) 17:09, 24 August 2010 (UTC)
And that sentence about some scholars not accepting Q is sourced to the guy who wrote Is Jesus the Only Savior? and published by your favorite, Eerdmans.... Keep in mind, I didn't add the Van Voorst reference, and stand by my claim that we don't need to source a sentence which is summarizing the table of contents. But I'd gladly pull individual references for each phrase between commons from the existing article content, if you think it is absolutely necessary. Furthermore, the way SV changed my phrasing, presents an inaccurate picture. I don't think it should be phrased in terms of "these are the sources which scholars say prove Jesus existed". It should be "These are all the sources that mention Jesus, which scholars discuss to decide their authenticity and importance". There is a big difference between SV and my phrasing of the sentence. We need to make it clear that not all of those sources are used by every scholar. And we need to make it clear that they are studied critically/examined, not accepted at face value as "evidence for Jesus"....-Andrew c [talk] 17:41, 24 August 2010 (UTC)
If you don't want to single out Q, then by all means remove it. But if you do single it out for a mention, you have to make clear that it might not exist, otherwise the lead will be very misleading, to the point of almost being farcical. SlimVirgin talk|contribs 17:55, 24 August 2010 (UTC)
Goodness, we covered this already, which is why I am frustrated currently. But I'll take a deep breath and continue :) I suggested above, initially, having the phrase theoretical source documents, which is related to the longstanding prior sentence theoretical source documents that may lie behind the New Testament. One editor thought our readers may be confused by the idea of source documents behind the NT, so they felt we should give an example, so thus the sentence changed to Q and other theoretical sources'. Another user thought "theoretical" was a bad phrase, and suggested it be changed to "reconstructed". So then again the sentence changed again. The sentence I inserted (and was quickly reverted) was crafted from the input of multiple editors, and is the way it was based on our discussion above. It's a real shame that after we reach a seemingly stable phrasing, it is just poo-pooed. But what can I do about that? Personally, I am fine going back to one of the original versions that doesn't mention Q, but then we'd be ignoring the concern of an editor. And maybe that's OK. -Andrew c [talk] 18:08, 24 August 2010 (UTC)
Okay, but the point is that it might not exist; no one has seen it. Using words like hypothetical, reconstructed, theoretical, and conjectured obscure that basic point, and it's important to write it in very clear language. SlimVirgin talk|contribs 18:19, 24 August 2010 (UTC)
"hypothetical," "theoretical," and "conjectured" imply that the source might not exist. "Reconstructed" doesn't convey that as clearly. I understand your concern, SlimVirgin, but it's also the case that the two-source hypothesis is widely accepted, and to me the added bit "though whether Q existed is questioned" implies that there is more doubt about Q than actually exists. I think the solution may be to go back to a version of the lead that doesn't mention Q, actually. --Akhilleus (talk) 18:41, 24 August 2010 (UTC)
As how to describe it is a sticking point, I've removed it. [20] SlimVirgin talk|contribs 19:03, 24 August 2010 (UTC)
I have found the religious tolerance site to be a good staring point. Internet archive is a great help at finding now broken links which in turn leads you to better quality documents.--BruceGrubb (talk) 16:05, 25 August 2010 (UTC)

Actually, to be fair, I doubt that anybody actually "cites" the Q Source. The "Q" material only exists in the gospels, (that we know of), so although Q probably did exist in the past, anybody citing Q material today is actually citing the gospels. Wdford (talk) 16:47, 25 August 2010 (UTC)

Keeping in view the concerns against singling out the Q sources, I think we can settle on something like this--"Although all sources are tinged with some controversy or other, the material which is commonly cited......includes..... Some scholars also cite the hypothetical Q sources in this regard."
I have tried to summarize the sources and controversies in a non-shocking way and also kept in mind the concern to mention that the Q sources are put forward by some, not all. I have used the word "hypothetical" because it is a more accurate description. The word "reconstructed" leaves out the info that we are unsure about their existence prior to the Gospels. The word "theoretical" is likely to confuse the reader like this. "Are they talking about some Christian theory, or are they saying the materials' existance is theoretical?" I think the use of the word "theoretical" is likely to lead the reader into assuming the former. The word "hypothetical" does not suffer from these shortcomings.-Civilizededucationtalk 04:54, 26 August 2010 (UTC)
Why doesn’t the lead contain a summary of the controversies surrounding the sources on the existence of Jesus? The lead summarizes the sources, but has not a word on the controversies. It is totally Christian POV to avoid mention of the controversies. I can’t see any other reason for not mentioning them in the lead. Since the sources are listed out there, the controversies should also be listed out there. All the sources on the existence of Jesus have some controversy or other. For example, the evidence from Pliny the younger comes with the comment

"Only the most robust credulity could reckon this assertion as admissible evidence for the historicity of Jesus"

As such, I will add a bit about the controversies to the lead. The present lead is totally unacceptable.
Now, why aren’t the non-existent, imaginary sources (which are used for establishing the existence of Jesus) being mentioned in the lead? They are also a part of the evidence used and should be mentioned.
I do not think that Q sources are very highly regarded in scholastic circles. Bart Ehrman says that they are as unreliable as the Gospels themselves. He also goes on to assert, in the same breath, that at least some stories in the Gospels are absolutely fictitious and were invented by the Christians. The fact that they contain fictitious stories highlights the fact that they do not add to the credibility of the Gospel stories in any way.
The sentence about consensus in scholastic circles should not have a place in the lead because the lead is a summary of the article as a whole. The article, as a whole, is not meant to establish the existence of Jesus. It mentions the evidence, and the controversies related to them. As such, it is inappropriate to assert the existence of Jesus, and that too based on a consensus from a biased group of scholars, which is dominated by Christians, and in which biased Christian views are paramount. The consensus from such a group of scholars is not credible and cannot be taken at face value. I think it is too unworthy of mention in the lead of the article. It is particularly unworthy because, although the scholars have a strong consensus, and each one of them insists on it strongly, none of them says much about the reasons for the consensus. I would have valued this consensus more if the scholars had defended the consensus in detail and refuted the objections being raised to their assertion regarding the existence of Jesus by providing some irrefutable and solid reasoning. Without going on to defend their views strongly (in detail), it becomes an “appeal to authority”, which is a logical fallacy and should not be given much value. It should also be kept in mind that any scholar who opts to go against the church views is at risk of persecution, ridicule, marginalization and penury. Example-Gerd Lüdemann. At present, the scholars appear to defend this consensus only with brute majority in the field, and not with any logical reasoning. They also appear to be maintaining the majority by holding out the threat of marginalization and penury against anyone who goes radically against the majority view. At present, the lead uses this consensus without informing the reader that the scholars have done little to explain the reasons behind this consensus and it does not inform the reader about the dubious characteristics of this consensus.-Civilizededucationtalk 07:23, 9 September 2010 (UTC)
No other scholastic field has such dubious characteristics.-Civilizededucationtalk 11:01, 9 September 2010 (UTC)

Trimming the article count bloat

Per Wdford, Civilizededucation, and SlimVirgin here are my suggestions for trimming this topic down:

Main articles: Historicity of Jesus and Jesus

Historicity of Jesus would include Historical Jesus, Historicity of the Gospels, Cultural and historical background of Jesus, Christ myth theory and Quest for the historical Jesus either as merged information or daughter articles.

Jesus would include Chronology of Jesus, Cultural and historical background of Jesus Religious perspectives on Jesus, Christian views of Jesus, Islamic view of Jesus and what else relates either merged. or daughter articles.

This is off the cuff but it seems to be the most logical way to group this stuff.--BruceGrubb (talk) 12:30, 30 August 2010 (UTC)

Isn't the whole reason all these articles exist because they were spun off Jesus as that article got too long? While the current number and content of articles is arguably problematic with a lot of overlap, I don't think such a massive culling is a good idea at all. john k (talk) 18:00, 30 August 2010 (UTC)

They were spun off, and recombining them would create a monster.
But they wasn't much discussion when they were spun off, it was done very quickly with multiplication ofmaterial and I think very sloppily. Let us have a discussion to rationalize the articles, finally!
I think the Jesus article has to be the main article and include at least summaries of all points of view, including those that Jesus did not exist, and that he did not exist but was in no way divine.
I do not really have much use for a separate article on "Religious perspectives on Jesus." We have Christology which accommodates dominant Christian views - I could see perhaps another article for Christian views that are agnostic on or reject Jesus' divinity e.g. unitarianism and those theologians who argued for a "life of Christ" theology in opposition to "Christ Crucified" theologies. And I can see another article for Muslim views of Jesus. I do not think other religion's views of Jesus are notable enough to merit an article, and they can be accommodated by the article on that religion (e.g. Ba'hai)
Cultural and historical background of Jesus is really more than anything else, about a Jewish Jesus reconstructed by a variety of historians. It used to have a good deal more stuff on Jewish history in it - the point was to explain what Jews at the time of Jesus believed about the Temple, the Law, the Davidic monarchy, what "messiah" meant at that time, who the Pharisees and Saducees were, not based on the Gospels but on the principle Jewish sources. Much of this was cut a year ago but I personally think it is as important as the account of historical documents in this article. The other part of this article is an account of the historical Jesus according to most historians (who believe Jesus existed). This began as part of the section on "the historical Jesus" in the Jesus article and was made its own article by Mpolo in 2004. Mpolo devised the name for the article with no discussion; frankly I never liked the title of this article. If we are considering a wholesale reorganization of article, I would propose a few things: first, go back a year or so ago to when this article was chock full of stuff on Jewish history and culture, and either incorporate it into the Jewish history article (which by the way has its own NPOV issues as it is mostly written by Orthodox Jews and not based on work by non-Orthodox historians) or retitle the article "Jewish culture at the time of Jesus" or something like that (the introduction could begin with something on how some historians accept as reliable only those parts of the Gospels that are consistent with what Jewish sources say, which is in fact one method used by historians); second, take the reconstruction out of that article, and let there be one article on "the historical Jesus"
I think it makes sense to have one article on historical documents used by historians, but I think the same article should include debates among historians on their historicity e.g. who wrote them and when. The difference between this article and the one on "Jewish culture at the time of Jesus" is based on the method used by historians, which is to take the documents that refer to a particular person or event, and th documents that refer to anything salient to the person or event that do not refer directly to the person or event, and use the latter to help interpret the former. We could include all of this in one article but I suspect that might get to be too long. Either way, historians rely on two kinds of data and we should not only provide both kinds of data but also somewhere explain the methods by which historians use such data.
I still think that there are some debates over the historicity of Jesus that are among historians, and others that are between Christians and atheists and I suspect these would be best served by two articles. From the Enlightenment until the emergence of modern adacemic history in the late 19th century, I think there is a strand that falls between these two groups and this might best have its own article. I think that virtually everything in CMT could be merged into one of these articles. I know editors there have sometimes struggled to define CMT when sources have differeing definitions - I think contextualizing different forms of "CMT" in terms of distinct "debates" in separate articles will be easier than keeping them all in one article. In my view, the crucial thing is to get away from articles that are on one POV and have wthin them an "opposing view" section. An article should provide an account of a debate and include all sides that are actually debating one another, without privileging any one side (Thus, the historicity of Jesus article would not "assume" or take as normative the view that Jesus did exist - if as I believe the mainstream view of historians is that he probably existed, it can say so without making two thirds of the article about all the reasons for why he existed and then a coda on why he didn't exist - I just do not think this is the right way to structure an article.
All material in "quest for the historical Jesus" would go into one of the preceeding articles. I do not see a justification for keeping it as its own article. Slrubenstein | Talk 18:07, 30 August 2010 (UTC)
Sounds like a good proposal. The one caveat I might add is that the idea of Jesus being maybe a prophet but not divine relates to the monarchianism article (and maybe in some cases adoptionism, I don't know), and a lot of the relevant content from non-Christian religions about Jesus as a prophet might be easily consolidated there. I know of some recent scholars who say that Islam's view of Jesus is derived from the Christian monarchian philosophy, for instance, and that a lot of other, subsequent, theories of the same basic type are as well. John Carter (talk) 18:47, 30 August 2010 (UTC)
Well, any proposal can be improved upon! My only question is - how important is David Strauss and other Christian theologians who as theologians (i.e. explicitly not as historians) argued that the Christian is not one who is saved from sin thanks to the crucifixion, but rather one who strives to emmulate the life of Jesus? Is this a fringe view among Christians or a major stream of theology? The reason I ask is that I am concerned about lumping all forms of "monarchism" in one article, if - a big if - we are talking about distinct theological arguments that arose in distinct contexts and appealed to distinct groups of people. But I raise this as a concern, not as an argument against your proposal. My main concern is to keep theologian's arguments spearate from historian's arguments. The boundary is blurry for most of the 19th century but it is not in the 20th century and we need a sensible way to keep important distinctions from being lost. My secondary concern is how important is the difference between pre-Enlightenment Christian theology and post-Englightenment Christian theology. Slrubenstein | Talk 19:35, 30 August 2010 (UTC)
It is a very good and fair question, actually. That discussion really relates to Christian soteriology. That article could stand quite a bit of improvement itself, in lots of ways, and, God help me, I'm not familiar enough with that aspect of Christian theology to really answer your question, but I think the various relevant pages there should be able to have space for all the variations and articles about that individual and others could and should all link to the appropriate variation on Christian salvation, once someone makes that unimpressive content a bit better to. When my third and fourth hands actually grows in, I'm hoping to develop that stuff too, although the people where I buy shirts will probably freak out. :) Our content on Christian theology in general is rather unimpressive, unfortunately, but if we can get any focused attention there we should be able to insert all appropriate links on that topic. John Carter (talk) 19:47, 30 August 2010 (UTC)

(remove indent)SlimVirgin showed that some of these articles were NOT created because Jesus article got too big. Historicity of Jesus was created in November 2003 as essentially a Christ Myth theory article, then Historical Jesus came to being in 2004 and when Historicity of Jesus became something else Christ myth theory was started in 2005. That would suggest WP:CFORK reasons for these articles original birth rather than any one article becoming too large. As it stands there is WAY too much redundancy across these articles and a lot can (and needs to be) trimmed. Also I am not saying trim everything down to two articles but rather put the stuff that has grown beyond the parent article as daughter articles and merge the rest.--BruceGrubb (talk) 03:36, 31 August 2010 (UTC)

I didn't say that all of the articles were created by the Jesus split. That is why I am fully in favor of some consolidation; I am sorry if this was not clear in my post. I simply do not think that everything can or should be consolidated into two articles. Bruce, i do not think anyone in this thread is disagreeing with anything you say here. Just we disagree with your specific proposal does not mean that we disagree with you about the problem, or the general proposal that some consolidation is needed. I interpreted your original proposal not as definitive, but as suggestive of one way forward. I was trying to improve upon your suggestion. I am sorry that did not come across. Slrubenstein | Talk 10:23, 31 August 2010 (UTC)
My proposal is not different from yours in the sense of rejecting the need for consolidation. It is different only in the specifics of how many and what kinds of articles we ought to have. John carter responded to my comments by pointing to other articles that cover some of this content, which is valuable information as we consider redundancies in existing information. This kind of new information moves the conversation forward. I am sorry you did not respond to the specifics. I don't see how your comments move the discussion forward. Slrubenstein | Talk 10:23, 31 August 2010 (UTC)
In an effort to move this forward just what do you think what the main article break down should be with everything else either merged or daughter articles of these proposed main articles?--BruceGrubb (talk) 11:45, 31 August 2010 (UTC)
I explained all this above, 18:07, 30 August 2010. One main article, and I laid out the basic daughter articles, pointing out that a few could be arranged differently. Slrubenstein | Talk 13:05, 31 August 2010 (UTC)
Not that it matters at all to this discussion, but I do want to clear something up. I don't agree that: SlimVirgin showed that some of these articles were NOT created because Jesus article got too big. Historicity of Jesus was created in November 2003 as essentially a Christ Myth theory article, If you look at the edits that WhisperToMe made on Nov 12 2003, you can see the creation of a good number of the spinout articles, taking content directly from Jesus. These include the Historicity of Jesus, Sources about Jesus Christ (which was later merged with the former), Alleged relics of Jesus Christ, Jesus Christ as the Messiah, Other prespectives on Jesus, Fictional portrayals of Jesus Christ... and the edit summaries were "This article is TOO LARGE! Slicing off sections" "Putting info in separate articles", "All info going to main article", "Splitting into another article", etc. I would say that these articles WERE created because Jesus got too big. That's all :) -Andrew c [talk] 12:50, 31 August 2010 (UTC)
I agree that we can't pack all the content back into a single article. My concern is that a lot of material is repeated across many articles, and that some articles could usefully be merged without the encyclopedia losing any content at all. I also feel that all the "main" issues should be mentioned in the Jesus article, with daughter articles to address only those issues that really require extra depth. How to decide on how much depth is the problem. I suggest we start by merging Jesus, Historical Jesus and Historicity of Jesus, and only then picking out which paragraphs of the new huge article should be spun off. Wdford (talk) 15:18, 31 August 2010 (UTC)
That merged article might weigh in, all the material gathered together, at around 300 kB. That is a bit long, but, if there really is a lot of material duplicated, it might be possible to merge most of the material, and then perhaps, if it can be worked out that way, maybe have a single direct spin-off for whatever remains. I have my doubts about the length issue, but I think it might be possible to give it a try. A List of Jesus myth books, going into the specific details of the variant theories, or something roughly along those lines might be able to bring it down to 200 kB or so. John Carter (talk) 15:28, 31 August 2010 (UTC)

Definitely no merging with the Jesus article. We need to rationalize articles with some consolidation and then make sure the Jesus article has adequate summaries of all major linked articles.

In addition to the main article, Jesus, I propose:

  • Three articles to cover theological views:

Anything from the Religious perspectives article that doesn't fit in these three should just go into articles on the particular religion in question.

  • one article to cover debates between Christians and atheists or humanists concerning Jesus. I do not know what to call this article. It would include much of the material from the CMT article.
  • Three articles on research concerning Jesus by historians and scholars in adjunct fields, with expertise on 1st century life in Judea and Galilee (including knowledge of Hebrew, Aramaic, and koine Greek)
  • Historical sources on Jesus Discussing all sources that (1) mention Jesus by nanme and (2) are used by academic historians - used, not discussed only to be discounted - in debating the historicity of Jesus. I would merge the article on the historicity of the Gospels and the Q document, i.e. have concise accounts of the documents used by some significant historian as "evidence," as well as an account of discussions of authorship and time of composition or redaction, as well as information about the oldest known codexes or scrolls. If this article gets to be too big we can discuss dividing it up, but for starts, lets pile everything on one place and get rid of redundancies and sort out the best way to organize this material before considering the best way to divide it up again
  • Jewish institutions and cultures at the time of Jesus. All books on the "historical Jesus" provide this kind of information either to interpret the documents that mention Jesus or to reject them as nonsense. I would start with this version of the Cultural and Historial background to Jesus article. My personal test for quality is: after reading it, do people know what - according to the leading historians - Jews thoguht "messiah" meant at the time of Jesus' birth? Who - according to historians, not the Gospels - where the Pharisees and what were they like?
  • The Historical Jesus. This will include from the CMT article those historians with expertise and training in 1st century Jewish history. It will also take from the Cultural and historical background of Jesus article that portion which "reconstructs" the historical Jesus. And the Historical Jesus. And Quest for ... This will need to be rewritten to specify where it is that scholars like Meier, Ehrman, Sanders, Vermes, Fredrickson and Crossan agree and where they disagree.

If these three articles cannot reasonably encompas all the material I suggest, I would consider one or two more articles: one called Historiography of Jesus to cover purely methodological debates concerning the use of sources (taken from the article on sources and from the historical Jesus article, and leaving in those articles debates over conclusions or findings), and if necessary one specifically on debates as to whether jesus existed. Personally, I think that the debates over whether or not Jesus existed ought to be able to be divided into the article on debates between Christians and atheists/secularists, and the article on history.

I think this would cover everything. I acknowledge that as we work on some of these articles, some will grow really big and may have to be split up but I think the above provides the logical starting point. I think once the rework is (provisionally) done, but only then, the Jesus article will have to be updated, at least parts. Slrubenstein | Talk 16:54, 31 August 2010 (UTC)

The only question which to my mind still exists, which is admittedly kind of irrelevant, is whether the individual books discussing specific proposals should be given separate articles if they already have one, and, if they do, how much material in the main articles should relate to them. Otherwise, that looks like a possibly better proposal. John Carter (talk) 17:06, 31 August 2010 (UTC)

Articles on books are covered by the same notability criteria as any other article. One thing this means is that a book that may be fringe among historians but wildly popular can get covered through an article on the book. When it comes to books whose contents also belongs in these articles I think the principle should probably be: as much detail as possible in the article for the book, with the major views of the book summarized in the topical article. Slrubenstein | Talk 17:10, 31 August 2010 (UTC)

I agree, and my apologies for being less than clear. What I was thinking, but not expressing clearly, is whether we should make a real effort to determine which of the relevant books do qualify as sufficiently notable to have stand-alone articles before perhaps determining how much content to have directly related to them in the main article. One reason this comes to mind is that, in at least some other cases, like The DaVinci Code, some books that are written are written in direct response to other preceding books, and might best fit on a page on the "controversy" about that book or something like that. That might make the content structure even more confusing, but it might also help make it easier what content has to be put on the main page for the theories. John Carter (talk) 17:51, 31 August 2010 (UTC)
There is no need for separate articles on "historical jesus" and another one on sources. Here is a source to show that the "historical jesus" ie, an article on the historicity of jesus, requires a discussion of sources and the authors of these sources.[21] Why should we have a separate article on the sources. It would be a POV fork and this point has already been clarified on this talk page.#Rename/spin out idea The article on the "historicity of Jesus" would be seriously incomplete and meaningless without a good discussion of the sources. The topic of Historicity of Jesus is a major topic of interest with innumerable sources on this specific topic. As such, we need a good article on it with a discussion of sources and its authors.-Civilizededucationtalk 17:36, 31 August 2010 (UTC)

It is not a POV fork, it is a content fork, and we need to do it because if we put all this material in one article it would be too long. The historical Jesus article would be "incomplete" without a full account of Jewish life in the 1st century, too - but we cannot fit all of that into one article. Unless you want just ONE article on Jesus, we are going to have to have MORE THAN ONE article, and that means content forks; it is unavoidable. The question is, how to arrange all the material we now have distributed over many different articles. Slrubenstein | Talk 17:58, 31 August 2010 (UTC)

It is a POV fork, and I find the idea distasteful. The present article can easily accomodate a few more sections without becoming too big. In any case, we don't need a book length discussion of Jewish life in the first century.-Civilizededucationtalk 18:09, 31 August 2010 (UTC)
I have to agree with Slurbinstein that it isn't a POV fork, because I cannot see what POV is being forked. I as an individual might question under ordinary circumstances the need for an article on Everyday life in Israel at the time of Jesus, but I think I've seen enough books on that topic, under one title or another, to make it notable enough for an article on its own. And there is a lot of material, including some somewhat controversial material that the amount of space the material would take up, if discussed sufficiently for clarity, would merit itself a separate article. And, remember, this is probably the single most written about person in the freaking English language. I as an individual, happily or not, accept that there are going to be a lot more articles about him than other people. I may not like it, and I don't, but to cover all the material I can see how we might be basically bound to do it. John Carter (talk) 18:18, 31 August 2010 (UTC)
Do we even have an article on everyday jewish life in the first century. If it is big enough to require an article of its own, then the natural thing to do is to not add it into this article in the first place. Why should we insert Everyday Jewish Life in First Century and take out the sources? The POV forking that I see is that the sources would be a list of sources on the existance of Jesus and there would be little or no discussion of the various views and comments regarding their reliability. Moreover, it would make the present article drab. And the worst thing is that, readers who are looking for an intelligent discussion on the historicity of Jesus i.e his existance, would be frustrated to not to be able to find the material of their interest in one place. The article on historicity of Jesus is interesting because it is providing a good discussion on the topic at one place. The discussion of everyday Jewish life in first century is not necessary to get a grasp of this issue.-Civilizededucationtalk 18:46, 31 August 2010 (UTC)
Having read your comment, I still don't see how it is a POV fork. An article of the type we both red-linked to above would not be a list of sources on the existence of Jesus, because it would be discussing his era, meaning the rest of the culture and society of his time not the alleged man himself, and it would be to my eyes very much stretching the point to say that an article about the era Jesus is alleged to have lived in is pushing the POV that he lived. Also, the fact that one article doesn't yet exist is not cause to say that one cannot be created. Please see WP:OTHERSTUFF#General avoidance principle which more or less refutes that argument as a stand-alone. Again, pretty much by definition, we are based on sources, and the number of RS on this topic is really amazing. Unless a very popular and controversial US president had every second of his life videotaped from the womb on, in my opinion, it is unlikely that any other subject would ever have more. John Carter (talk) 18:59, 31 August 2010 (UTC)

Civilied writes, "the sources would be a list of sources on the existance of Jesus and there would be little or no discussion of the various views and comments regarding their reliability." I assume Civilized is refering to secondary sources when he writes, All sources used for any article must be reliable soureces. Since when do we have articles discussing the reliability of sources used for an article? Discussion of their reliability belongs on the talk page. If we have an aticle on the historical Jesus, we should discuss which secondary sources are reliable on the talk page, and then use them in the article. Where have I suggested otherwise? Slrubenstein | Talk 21:48, 31 August 2010 (UTC)

To suggest that one does not need to know about 1st century Jewish life and institutions to understand the historical Jesus is simply an ignorant statement and it is wholely unconstructive here. First, it reflects general ignorance of how professional historians work. Second, it should particular ignirance of book written by historians about Jesus. CivilizedEducation, the only purpose your point can serve is to push the Christian POV. We will not allow that at any article on historical research on Jesus. Slrubenstein | Talk 21:48, 31 August 2010 (UTC)

@John Carter. Looks like we have a misunderstanding here. I am trying to say that an article on Historical sources on Jesus would be a POV fork because it would have little or no discussion on the controversies related with the reliability of these sources. It would be like a simple list of primary sources on the “Historicity of Jesus”. It would be immensely “Christian POV” because it would be forwarding those sources without mentioning the controversies related to their reliability. All the primary sources on the “Historicity of Jesus” appear to have some controversy or other which are getting a discussion in the present article.
I am not trying to say that an article of the type that we both red linked would be POV. This should have been clear because I had said in my last post The POV forking that I see is that the sources would be a list of sources on the existance of Jesus and there would be little or no discussion of the various views and comments regarding their reliability. I see the article on Historical sources on Jesus as being POV. Perhaps I should have made it more clear beforehand. Anyway, I have clarified the point. Have I been able to get myself across now?
If the proposal is to create a new article on the type of topic that we both red linked, I have no objection.
The thing is, I had arrived at this article as a reader because I wanted to see a discussion on the “Existence of Jesus”. This article is on that topic. That is why I liked it, and decided to stay.
The hatnote on the Historical Jesus article accurately identifies this article. This is the relevant part of the hatnote.
This article is about Jesus, using historical methods to reconstruct a biography of his life and times. For disputes about the existence of Jesus and reliability of ancient texts relating to him, see Historicity of Jesus.
Of course “Jesus” is the most talked about subject on the planet today. Every aspect of his persona, sayings, activities, impact on civilization, and even things just connected with him, have received beyond saturation coverage. I believe, people have not even shied from turning his intestines, or the umbilical cord with which he was attached to his mother, into objects of discussion. So, it should be no surprise that many people find it interesting to see a discussion on "Existence of Jesus". OK ?-Civilizededucationtalk 08:38, 1 September 2010 (UTC)

Civilized education writes, "I am trying to say that an article on Historical sources on Jesus would be a POV fork because it would have little or no discussion on the controversies related with the reliability of these sources. It would be like a simple list of primary sources on the “Historicity of Jesus”." This is an unacceptable misrepresentation of my proposal. This is not at all what I proposed. If we want to move this discussion forward, object to or criticize the proposals that have been made, please. Slrubenstein | Talk 09:57, 1 September 2010 (UTC)

@SlRubenstien.I have not said that an understanding of 1st century Jewish life and institutions is not necessary to get an understanding of the historical Jesus. When I said "historical Jesus", I had meant "existance of Jesus". It is explained clearly in my post. Why don't you see that?
Why do I need to know how professional historians work? I know that even they themselves cannot agree which method is best. Each one of them appears to have a different method. And keep inventing new ones all the time. How is it necessary for everyone to know about these things?
If you are not clear about what I am saying, you can easily ask for a clarification without making wild allegations like “ignorant”, “unconstructive” and “Christian POV”, etc.
We were discussing an article on primary sources on the “Historicity of Jesus”. How can you assume that I am talking about some secondary source? And how are your wild allegations constructive or helpful?
I have said something about your proposal because, as a fellow wikieditor, I am entitled to have an opinion on it. I can’t see where you have indicated that you intend to discuss the controversies regarding the reliability of the primary sources on the “Historicity of Jesus”. You may note that Andrew c had also proposed to create a separate article on “Sources for the Historicity of Jesus”. It was also retracted after it was seen as a POV article #Rename/spin out idea. Since you appear to have refloated the same proposal, among several other things, it is relevant to show the previous objection on this part of your current proposal. How is your proposal of the article on primary sources on the historicity of Jesus different from Andrew c's proposal? You may note that I have not said anything on the rest of the merger plans.-Civilizededucationtalk 16:43, 1 September 2010 (UTC)

You have a right to comment on my proposal - I do not question that. But then comment on my proposal. What you do not have a right to do is criticize me for something I did not do. You say that "I can’t see where you have indicated that you intend to discuss the controversies regarding the reliability of the primary sources" and I am just flabbergasted. It's all there, right where I propose a separate article on "the historical sources for Jesus." If you didn't bother to read it just say so. But please do not tell me that you cannot find it when it is right there. it is not buried in the middle of any paragraph, it comes right where I propose a separate article on the sources, where you criticize me for not doing exactly what I do propose. How is my proposal different from AndrewC's? Just read it. it is right here, on this page, before your comments in which you dissedd it apparently without having bothered to read it.

I made a proposal for an article on the historical Jesus - so did Bruce Grubb, kicking off this whole discussion - and it is quite clear that neither of us are talking about an article simply on whether or not Jesus existed, which is of course not what "the historical Jesus" means. Now, if you want to discuss an article on "the existence of Jesus" propose an article on that and discuss it (I actually discuss this in my proposal but say I am not sure what to call it. I wouldn't blame you if you missed this so to help you, just look at asterisk #4. In any event, when I say "the historical Jesus" I actually mean "the historical Jesus," and I explained this in my post as well. That was before you made your comment. You wrote, "I have not said that an understanding of 1st century Jewish life and institutions is not necessary to get an understanding of the historical Jesus." And I am glad. Because then perhaps we agree that such an understaning is necessary to get an understanding of the historical Jesus. Slrubenstein | Talk 17:34, 1 September 2010 (UTC)

Andrew c had proposed to take out the sources and their authors from the current article and take them to some new article like Sources for the Historicety of Jesus. Your proposal is not different. What you are proposing has the same effect. Bruce Grubb's proposal did not have this part, although he appears to have changed his mind now. And I am only making a comment on your proposal, not on you.-Civilizededucationtalk 07:46, 3 September 2010 (UTC)

I doubt that a reorg of this magnitude is called for or that it is a good use of our time. That said, if it were actually possible to treat Jesus more like the historical figure that he was rather than a magical being, that would be a step in the right direction. But overall I think we have better ways to spend our time. Leadwind (talk) 18:34, 8 September 2010 (UTC)

Full Protection

This is the second time I've had to fully protect this page from editing per the edit warring and content dispute. As the protecting administrator, if it's not too much trouble, I'd like a statement below from each of the involved parties explaining their side of the story. This dispute needs to be resolved - I can't just go on and keep reprotecting the page each time the previous protection period ends. -FASTILY (TALK) 22:41, 9 August 2010 (UTC)

When I express my concerns, I am called an ignorant bigot. My position is mischaracterized for the purpose of dismissing a strawman argument. See [22] and [23]. See also the recent ANI regarding the conduct of Andrew-c and Slrubenstein [24]. Noloop (talk) 23:09, 9 August 2010 (UTC)
Thanks for the prompt reply. Although, I would like to hear from several other parties first before taking any further action. -FASTILY (TALK) 23:33, 9 August 2010 (UTC)
I'm not sure what Noloop's comments have to do with page protection, but I have been very careful to be civil and not advance anything that anyone could construe as a personal attack for over a week (since the ANI thread that Noloop brought regarding me, where I acknowledged what I had said, and apologized, and which resulted in no sanctions on my part). I'll explain what happened since the page was unprotected.

I added a sentence which I had proposed a few sections up. Noloop and Civilizededucation then made these edits, (and with a small exception) completely unrelated to my first edit. I reverted those string of edits, because I thought they were POV, and went against what a lot of us had been discussing here. In brief: 1) There is no consensus to qualify certain sources as only representing "Christian theologians". 2) Ehrman does not say "probably". 3) Who is arguing that Jesus isn't mentioned twice in Josephus? 4) Brackets were changed to parentheses in a quote, against MOS:QUOTE. 5) Few vs. some WEIGHT issue. 6) Identifies vs. perceive WP:SAY issue.

After my revert, I then went through and made a few neutral edits, and another edit related to prior talk page discussion regarding McKnight. While I was going through the article, Noloop not only restored the material which I removed, but also reverted my new and neutral edits, which IMO have nothing to do with this dispute. Restoring previously reverted material is against BRD, and IMO how edit wars start. I had no intention of editing the page further, and told Noloop I though the revert was a sign of bad faith, and that the edit summary was a personal attack. Noloop replied by bringing up something that I apologized for over a week ago (showing to me that we haven't moved forward at all, despite my efforts and good faith). Griswaldo and Civilizededucation continued the edit war, each reverting once, before the page was protected, on Noloop's request. So the question now, how to move forward? Maybe we could all do self imposed 1RR? What changes do we feel need to be made, and what require further discussion?-Andrew c [talk] 01:21, 10 August 2010 (UTC)

Andrew's synopsis, including the analysis of Noloop's edits, is correct. Since I promised that I would not comment on Noloop's behavior anymore (after twice suggesting failed topic bans at AN/I) I really have nothing else constructive to add here. Cheers.Griswaldo (talk) 02:47, 10 August 2010 (UTC)

I haven't been involved on this page very much, but I've noticed Noloop over at Christ myth theory. In my opinion, he's been trying to impose a ridiculous standard of sourcing upon this article and other articles about early Christianity—basically, if there is any possibility that a source used on this article was written by a Christian, he believes that the source is biased, and declares that it needs to be balanced by sources from "secular, peer-reviewed presses." The sources that Noloop objects to, however, are academics who specialize in the field, and who are considered leading authorities on the historical Jesus—John P. Meier is one example. Sources like this are the expert sources that this article should use; they are scholars, who publish through normal academic channels like peer-reviewed journals, academic presses, etc. They sometimes publish books for a wider, non-scholarly audience, and these are also good sources for a Wikipedia article, since they are written by people whose expertise in the field has already been demonstrated.

Some of Noloop's statements seem to contain a certain bias that is guiding his evaluation of the sources. For instance, above, he says "Atheism, the belief system, is not biased. Atheism doesn't assume as a matter of faith--regardless of fact and logic--anything about the existence of historical anything. Christianity does. Thus, Christians can be assumed to lack neutrality on the existence of Jesus. Atheists cannot be assumed to do so." I guess I'm not supposed to call this bigoted, so I'll just point out that this statement claims that atheists are able to think rationally about Jesus' existence, but Christians' position on Jesus' historicity comes from faith, not reason. This opinion apparently allows Noloop to reject the scholarly consensus that there was a historical Jesus, because only "theologians" say that, and make edits such as this, this, and this. The edit summary on the last is inexcusable. I think a good solution to this issue would be to topic-ban Noloop from all Christianity-related articles, for at least a short period. --Akhilleus (talk) 00:18, 10 August 2010 (UTC)

There's a disagreement on sourcing. Some want more non-Christians or non-Theologians or whatever as sources, and some feel the article accurately weights the various experts as it stands. People feel strongly both ways, and I'm not sure there is a good way forward. Most of the headway I've seen made in either direction is through blocking, which isn't ideal. - Peregrine Fisher (talk) 00:22, 10 August 2010 (UTC)
Hm, Akhilleus's summary of what I think is pretty typical of what a certain group of editors here think. It is not, however, how I describe my own position. There is also a request for arbitration that is about to be declined (mostly by way of asking me to file an RFCU first). [25]. Note also that it is wrong to represent the concern about Christian sourcing as mine alone, and that two attempts to topic-ban me have already been shot down in ANIs. Noloop (talk) 00:31, 10 August 2010 (UTC)
"People feel strongly both ways"? Huh? This has never been an issue between two polarized crowds of people who feel strongly about their positions. Painting that particular picture is akin to teaching the controversy. There is no legitimate controversy here. This is simply quackery vs. scholarship. Since religious affiliation is apparently the end all be all determinant of bias I have a solution. Why don't we ask anyone who is either a Christian theist or an atheist to take a week long break from the article while all the agnostics and Buddhists sort it out? Sound fair?Griswaldo (talk) 02:58, 10 August 2010 (UTC)
I became involved in the Historical Jesus quite recently, where I guess my concern was the reliance on one type of source, and the exclusion of any other. Obviously the bulk of sources will be Christian academics, because most people who have no belief will not waste their time working on something that is of little interest to them, and ultimately limited in terms of verification or falsification. So, if non-believers who are notable academics have spoken about this issue (from outside a discipline which has a certain faith as the baseline), then we need to include something about that. This straw-man about certain editors trying to exclude relevant scholars has to stop - that is not the argument, but a recognition of where they are coming from, and this misrepresentation has simply inflamed the situation. The opposite is the case, it is those who are accusing others of seeking to exclude sources who are the ones actually being excluding. - MishMich - Talk - 08:08, 10 August 2010 (UTC)
And my own position? Anglican who refuses to attend church because of the bigotry of some parts of the communion towards other parts. My faith is based on Jesus, but understood through Eckhart's mystical theology and Mahayana Buddhism, rather than dogmatic Christianity. - MishMich - Talk - 08:27, 10 August 2010 (UTC)
There is a consensus among scholars that Jesus existed. That consensus exists, though both whether he existed or didn't exist is beyond the normal modern legal criteria of proof. The case for the former consists of a reasonable inference, which in turn is based on a methodological argument. The methods and evidence to argue for Jesus as an historical figure must not be more severe than they are for any other historical figure in antiquity, most of whom are known through late reports postdating their assumed existence. The case for the sceptical position is, in itself, 'religious' in the sense that there can be no proof Jesus did not exist, only inferences based on criteria for the acceptability of evidence that are far more stringent than those applied to other figures for the period. Some theological positions within Christianity dispense with the concept of an historical Jesus, which, it is argued, is not necessary in order to be a Christian, any more than being a devout Jew means necessarily that one must believe in the historicity of Abraham or Moses.
Given this, all Noloop can do is, in support of his thesis, add to the page a scholarly source or two by reputable and reliable scholars that remark on what supporters of the non-historicity of Jesus regard as the 'systemic bias' of mainstream scholarship, which has been indeed dominated by learned Christians. Other than doing this, he cannot hold the page hostage to a personal belief that scepticism on the issue is a qualification to be added to WP:RS, in order to winnow out 'partisan historiography'. Wikipedia editors are not competent to rule on what sources are or are not germane to an article based on their personal sectarian, faith- or disbelief-based presuppositions. If a source fits the most stringent qualifications for WP:RS, i.e., it is written by an academic specialist and published by a quality publisher, with peer-review, it is usable, whether written by a Christian, an atheist, or Balaam's ass. I say this from the personal position that Jesus as the Gospels recount his life almost certainly did not exist, and that it is not an unreasonable position to argue that he did not exist. It is simply a minority view, one that makes as many assumptions as the mainstream scholarship affirming his historicity. That personal conviction cannot sway my interpretation of WP:RS, however.Nishidani (talk) 09:43, 10 August 2010 (UTC)
Iagree with the sentiment that if those who are claiming biased sources would provide some claims from reputable peer reviewed journal written by respected experts in the field that there are in fact neutrality issues with identifying the historical Jesus then OK, that Christian scholars (I see we are still ignoring Muslims) are unreliable fine but lets actually see the evidence. So far they have not provide such sources they have effectively just told us they believe this to be the case (because the sources are christens (they must be the believe in Jesus) so they must be bias). I would also point out that the bad attitude has not all been one way. Also the claim that atheism is not a belief system but one founded on science is false. Most Atheists admit you can neither prove nor disprove the existence of god (and much of the CMT seems to use much the same argument, there is no real evidence either way, so we assume he was not real). As such if an atheist says Christ doe not exists he is not basing that on empirical data but on assumptions and his own disbelieve in divinity. Slatersteven (talk) 13:52, 10 August 2010 (UTC)

I have been asking Noloop to propose a new source for some time and she cannot - clearly, she is entirely ignorant about the scholarship on the subject. In the meantime, I would like to clear up another misconception - it really seems like a number of people who are ignorant of the scholarship think their views here will be helpful, which is hardly the case (can you imagine someone who has never read any physics trying to address content issues at the physics article? Now, I agree that for obvious reasons many Christians will study the Bible. Many of them may start out with the belief that each of the Gospels had one author; that there are no inconsistencies among the four Gospels, and that they are reliable historical accounts. This is a very particular point of view and while I think we should include it in the article, it should be clearly identified. But there are other views, and many peopl here seem utterly oblivious to them.

let's look at MishMich's comment, "Obviously the bulk of sources will be Christian academics, because most people who have no belief will not waste their time working on something that is of little interest to them, and ultimately limited in terms of verification or falsification." I am sorry, but this is a ridiculous comment. Obviously people who are not interested in something will not likely work on it. But the idea that only people who "believe" in the text will be interested in the text is just ... bizarre. I know scholars who spend years writing articles or a book on Mme Bovary. Do you think such people "believe" in Mme Bovary? Ther are scholars who spend month after month translating and writing commentary on Homeric myths. Do you think they "believe" in Aphrodite, for example? What about the scholars who figured out the meaning of Mayan glyphs. Do you think they "believe" in Hunahpu and Xbalanque? Historians work on all sorts of things they find interesting without "believing" in them. This whole point about believing/no-believing strikes me as a simple but obvious mistake, to think that people with PhDs who teach in universities are necessarily interested in the same things that non-scholars are interested. Sometimes they are, but often they are not. As long as you have Christian missionaries and parroquial schools, you will have adult men and women who still argue over whether God exists or whether Jesus was God. That does not mean that these arguments are what drive professors of religion, or professors of the Bible.

Here is how historians think: a text exists. Someone wrote it, and someone read it. The further back we go in time, the less certain we can be about who the author or audience was. Alas, the further back in time one goes, the more ambiguous the archeological record and the fewer texts one usually has. And yet these artifacts say something about the times in which they were made and used. How one figures this out - well, this is one question academics find interesting and important and debate. Let's say you find a settlement in which there are several small separate structures, each of which have evidence of a hearth (preserved charchoal) and a small number of jars and drinking vessels, and there is one much bigger structure with many jars and drinking vessels. Was the big structure the ome of a wealthy man? Or a communal space?

Historians take the same approach to documents. We actually have very few texts from first century Roman occupied and controlled Palestine. The Mishnah is a Jewish text that was edited at the end of the second century. It was edited with a fairly strong hand, and most of it consists of laws and statements attributed to men who were supposed to have lived in the second century. But it also refers to the "houses" of scholars from the first century CE and the from earlier centuries. Do they literally mean houses, or do they mean "house" in the sense of school? This is realy important, because a law attributed to the House of hillel could come from the first century BCE if we mean house literally, and from the first century CE if we mean house metaphorically. This is a book of laws, but these laws were formulated by the Pharisees, and we know that the Pharisees did not always have political power in the Hasmonean Kingdom, and were one of several well-known sects after the Hasmoneans - so, did anyone actually obey these laws? Whether they were obeyed or not, what can we infer from them about life in the 1st century? Do you really think you need to "believe" that God revelaed all these laws at Mt. Sinai, to want to try to use them to reconstruct the world of 1st century Jews in Palestine?

And we have Josephus, who wrote very detailed work but who sided with the Romans after a bitter war - was he trying to make the Jews look more understandable and civilized to Romans, or trying to ingratiate himself personally with the Romans by telling them what they wanted to hear?

So we have all of these sources that claim to be talking about 1st century Roman-occupied or controlled Palestine. Given the problems with the mishnah and Josephus, you better believe historians are very interested in Matthew and Luke and Mark. We have the synoptic Gospels. There are other Gospels, but most of them are believed to have been written later. There are papyri with fragments of the Gospels that date to the second century. Does this mean that Matthew was written in the second century? That there is a book called "Matthew" means that at some point in time someone produced a book called Matthew. Maybe this happened later than the second century. But was the Book of Matthew actually written by one person, or did one person edit together things written by different people? If parts were written by different people, might they have been written at different times? Based on what we do know of the very radical changes in the organization of political and religious life in Palestine from Pompey's occupation until the destruction of the Temple, from then until the Bar Kozeba rebellion, the disappearance of the Essenes and the Saducees and the rise of the Pharisees and Christians to form new religions, can we take different elemnts of the Gospels and attribute them to authors living at different times? Can we look at a verse or passage and tell from either style or content that it was more likely composed in the second century, or in the first? If we can rearrange passages basedon when we think they were written, do they provide us with a different view of Christianity? A different view of Jesus? These are the kinds of questions historians ask and they way they go about looking for answers.

You do not have to "believe" anything. All you have to do is be interested in the history of 1st century Palestine. if you are you have a very limited number of texts that claim to be from or about that period and place. Then you examine the documents clearly and try to sort out as best possible which segments were likely to have been composed at a particular time. And then, what doe they tell us about the time when they were composed? Slrubenstein | Talk 15:09, 10 August 2010 (UTC)

""Obviously the bulk of sources will be Christian academics, because most people who have no belief will not waste their time working on something that is of little interest to them, and ultimately limited in terms of verification or falsification." I am sorry, but this is a ridiculous comment. Obviously people who are not interested in something will not likely work on it. But the idea that only people who "believe" in the text will be interested in the text is just ... bizarre. I know scholars who spend years writing articles or a book on Mme Bovary. Do you think such people "believe" in Mme Bovary?"
Great - so where is your evidence? Wheel out all these scholars of the historical Jesus who do not believe in him, if that is the case. Rather than spouting tedious paragraphs and rhetorical and offensive commentary on what other people say, you could avoid all this discussion by simply putting your money where your mouth is. But you won't, because you can't, and as usual avoid the issue and deflect discussion to something else. Sure people do not have to believe in Jesus to be scholars about the history - but it appears that the vast majority do. Or have I misunderstood something? - MishMich - Talk - 15:58, 10 August 2010 (UTC)
Boy do you miss my point. My point is that real historians are not interested in "verification or falisfication." And my point is that people have plenty of other reasons for studying these texts than the fact that they are Christian. But okay, you are not capable of understanding how people in universities work. Okay, I will answer your question.
Believe that Jesus in the Christian sense? Okay. Shaye JD Cohen. Geza Vermes. Paula Fredrickson. The problem is, most good historians will say that it is likely Jesus existed. The big problem here is that most non-historians understand historians as well as most non-scientists understand science. Most scientists will never say something is "proven." in the sense that most people mean by proof - and creationists jump all over this to say that this means Darwin was wrong. Most historians will say that the further you go back in time the harder it is to say with absolute certainty that anyone existed. But virtually all historians who focus on 1st century Jewish history think it is likely that Jesus existed. Now, do you think Pilate existed? Do you think Gamaliel existed? Caiphus? Slrubenstein | Talk 17:10, 10 August 2010 (UTC)
What comes forst the beleife or the research? you have to demonstrate that such a confliuct exsists, not mearly assert it. you might be right, or it might be that the evidance just works to re-enforce a scholers beleife. We do not know.Slatersteven (talk) 16:08, 10 August 2010 (UTC)
Just curious, Mish. When you say "believe in Jesus", do you mean "are of the Christian faith" or are you referring to the possibility of say the JM crowd's argument? "believe in Jesus as savior deity" or "believe in a historical figure named Jesus"... -Andrew c [talk] 16:12, 10 August 2010 (UTC)
If something is a fact, it is widely believe by non-Christians. It is trivial to find matter-of-fact references to the existence of Julius Caesar in peer-reviewed, secular academia. Why isn't it the same for the existence of Jesus? And why do we try to conceal that difference from the reader? Noloop (talk) 16:28, 10 August 2010 (UTC)
Bull. I read peer-reviewed, secular academic journals every day and have yet to find a reference to Julius Caeser. Slrubenstein | Talk 17:15, 10 August 2010 (UTC)
Noloop can you name a single reference work published by a reliable press and dealing with the history of Christianity that does not include "matter-of-fact references to the existence of Jesus"? That would include anything from an encyclopedia to an introductory religion or history text. Also, can you name a single non-religious historian who has published anything in a peer reviewed journal that includes a "matter-of-fact reference to the existence of Julius Caesar?" I think you have absolutely no clue about what your asking. When you produce some of this evidence we can discuss your nonsensical demands.Griswaldo (talk) 17:19, 10 August 2010 (UTC)
Noloop, what you appear to be asking us to do is to review the historical Jesus literature, and instead of checking to see if the scholars are notable, if the presses are scholarly, if the work has been accepted into the academic debate, you are asking me to do a statistical analysis of their personal religious backgrounds. How is that not a religious litmus test? I'm tired of these games. Weeks ago, people held up Ehrman (the agnostic), Grant (the atheist), Vermes (the Jew), among others, as examples of top scholars in their field who are not Christian, and who accept a historical Jesus, yet you continue, on and on, not moving one step forward, not acknowledging any of this (except to say that Ehrman is not a good enough agnostic for you). Yet, you don't provide any counter examples of non-Christians believing anything else. If something is a fact, it is widely believe by non-Christians.' What then? In light of ALL our sources coming from many different types of scholars (including non-Christians, not that I acknowledge that that should even matter) who ALL claim the majority of biblical scholars and historians accept the existence of Jesus, please tell us what then is the widely held belief? -Andrew c [talk] 20:00, 10 August 2010 (UTC)
Muslims bleive in Jesus, they are non-christian so its a fact.Slatersteven (talk) 16:31, 10 August 2010 (UTC)

Given that we are going nowhere thru the same spot in time and space repeatedly perhaps the only way to have (what seems a needed) a calling of period is an enforced break on all edds on this page. Perhaps extending the protection th the talk page.Slatersteven (talk) 17:59, 10 August 2010 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── I'm not involved in this article, though I've been involved in a similar dispute at Christ myth theory about the quality of sourcing. In order to resolve the issue of which sources to use, I'd like to suggest that editors who want to see more non-religious sources (whether Christian or otherwise) produce those sources; and that the other editors not try to exclude them if they're compliant with this section of the sourcing policy, Wikipedia:Verifiability. Sources do not have to be academic specialists to be deemed reliable within the terms of the sourcing policy, so if that's one of the issues that's causing the problem, it's easily resolved by sticking to the policy. SlimVirgin talk|contribs 04:07, 11 August 2010 (UTC)

"Sources do not have to be academic specialists to be deemed reliable within the terms of the sourcing policy" -- would you care to expound upon what you mean by this? Perhaps an example or two would also help narrow down the variety of ways I can imagine reading that statement.Griswaldo (talk) 05:31, 11 August 2010 (UTC)
I mean that the policy allows a wide range of sources, and if one of the issues here is that the range is too narrow, it might be resolved by adhering to the policy and opening things up a little, within reason. SlimVirgin talk|contribs 06:48, 11 August 2010 (UTC)
For me, Bertrand Russell is the litmus test. This is where I got involved on the Historical Jesus article. He would be a relevant and notable non-specialist, in my book. The haughty appeals to superiority in this discussion go against the grain of the encyclopedia. I am an expert in LGBT studies - but we do not prevent people who are completely ignorant on these issues commenting on that project articles; we have lots of Christians, for example, quite eager to insert their lack of understanding of human sexuality and gender into articles covered by that project. This is the way of this encyclopedia, we do not restrict contributions to experts only; although we value the access to experts for comment and contributions. So, dismissing what people say in an off-hand way, as un-knowledgeable, and so on - this is all very poor behaviour. If we were all such experts, most would not be wasting time here, but getting papers published. - MishMich - Talk - 07:31, 11 August 2010 (UTC)
For me, Bertrand Russell fails the litmus test. As far as I know he did not speak Aramaic and had no expertise in 1st century Jewish history. He was a philosopher, not a historian. I think we need to distinguish between two issues here. There is a theological question about the status of Christianity and claims about miracles and claims about the dividnity of Jesus. As a philosophe, I have no problem using Russell as an important source. But there is another issue, the historical question of the value of the New testament as a historical source, which is tied to debates about the authorship and time of composition of the New testament and segments of the NT. I think we need to treat these theological and historical issues separately. Someone can be significant regarding one issue, but not another. Slrubenstein | Talk 12:05, 11 August 2010 (UTC)
@Slimvirgin. Slrubenstein is correct to frame this in terms of "significance". WP:RS is simply a minimum standard for the types of sources that may be used across the encyclopedia and all of its contexts, and as such it does not actually guide what sources or what content are appropriate for specific entries. This is why I asked for (but did not receive) more specificity from you. We have other policies, like this section of our policy on WP:NPOV, for instance, to help us figure out what content to include and what sources to use. I fail to see how your statement, as it stands, is helpful to the discussion. There are many opinions given by a large number of notable people, but we do not include them in our entries unless they are significant and relevant views.Griswaldo (talk) 12:23, 11 August 2010 (UTC)
@MishMich. You have invoked two types of expertise here -- the expertise of sources and the expertise of editors. It is not always clear in your comment which you are referring to at what times. You write that we have lots of Christians, for example, quite eager to insert their lack of understanding of human sexuality and gender into articles covered by that project. There are POV pushers out there pushing a POV without expertise, and so what? Glancing quickly at Homosexuality, for instance, makes it is clear that such non-expert POVs are not accepted in that area of the encyclopedia either. I don't see the opinions of notable non-experts who are critical of homosexuality because of their religious POV, for instance, used as sources in the entry. That fact is of course something positive. Yet this is what including Bertrand Russel in the current entry would be, almost to a T. A notable philosopher, who was an atheist, and who expressed opinions about the historicity of Jesus specifically without the expertise to do so. What policy suggests that this content should be included, or that this source should be included? None. Non-expert editors are not being bullied here. Non-expert sources simply do not belong unless they are relevant, and no such relevance has ever been shown to exist.Griswaldo (talk) 12:23, 11 August 2010 (UTC)
I think the articles' main problem is with NPOV. Will be posting a fuller response covering Fastily's concerns later.(please excuse for the delay.)--Civilizededucationtalk 13:19, 11 August 2010 (UTC)
The articel refelcts the sources.Slatersteven (talk) 14:49, 11 August 2010 (UTC)
@SlimVirgin. The article implies that secular academic support for the historicity of Jesus is widespread. The problem is that such claims are sourced primarily to the Christian community (including scholars) and authors of popular books. So, the article either needs to present a different picture, or editors need to find secular, peer-reviewed and widespread support. I've looked for evidence that the secular, peer-reviewed community believes that Jesus existed, to the same degree it believes the Holocaust and moon-landings existed, and not found it. I don't think such sourcing exists. So, the designation of skeptics as fringe theorists strikes me as absurd. Richard Dawkins and Bertrand Russell don't advocate fringe theories. Noloop (talk) 16:06, 11 August 2010 (UTC)
Bertrand Russell doesn't advocate anything. He died in 1970. If Richard Dawkins advocates the Christ Myth Theory then by definition he advocates a fringe theory. When we judge the reliability of sources, and when we determine what weight something should be given we do not take into account religious affiliation. We take into account the reliability of publishers and journals. If there are popular works of non-fiction in the entry then they should be replaced with scholarship, but when you refer to the "secular, peer-reviewed community" you are referring to a phantom of your own creation, because you are unwilling to accept the lack of religious affiliation of a publisher, which is what actually makes a source secular, as opposed to the religious affiliation of the scholar. FYI, 99% of Christ myth theorizing does not come from "peer-reviewed" journals of any kind ... secular or otherwise ... so I have a very hard time understanding what you are getting at there. The secular academic community treats Jesus as historical, and this is clearly reflected in tertiary sources. You have conveniently ignored all of my comments about this and have yet to produce a single tertiary reference source that does not treat Jesus as historical. This is why people want you topic banned ... because you never produce any sources of your own when you are asked for them, instead spinning your broken record over and over again in whatever venue you can.Griswaldo (talk) 16:22, 11 August 2010 (UTC)
Slrubenstein has talked on this page and elsewhere about people not understanding how universities work, and I'd argue further that to exclude Russell as a source is to fail to understand how a British man of his time and class was educated. It is certainly significant, in terms of social history, that he felt it probable Jesus didn't exist and was willing to come right out and say it, though to the best of my knowledge that was all he said about it, so it doesn't make much sense to try to exclude such a brief reference. SlimVirgin talk|contribs 05:28, 12 August 2010 (UTC)
This is a fair point. My basic issue all along has been how we should not judge someone's POV simply based on their degree or position. I often find that more context can solve problems, and in this and related articles I thin this will often be the case. I am willing to grant that in some cases it may be appropriate to identify someone as a Christian - but in every case i have seen, it is clear to me that just to say this is misleading, because many people think that all Christians are fundamentalists, and this is not true. In some cases we need to add more context and explain what kind of Christian a person is. In some cases, we need to explain why a Doctorate in Theology does not mean that the person is a theologian (just as a Doctorate in Philosophy does not make one a philosopher - you can sum up all of my arguments about bigotry with this analogy: you cannot identify someone as a philosopher just because they have a PhD) ... in these cases, more context helps.
My objection to using Russell is really to lumping him together with historians, as if he were a historian engaged in a debate about history. This is not the correct context for Russell, and it degrades the quality of the encyclopedia.
But if there is another context in which Russell's views belong and matter, well, fine.
Slim Virgin has argued that the pressing issue is, who are the reliable sources? My point is that terms that WP policies routinely use - reliable, significant - are in practice often relative to a particular context, and this means that in order to identify the reliable sources one has to identify the different contexts. Sometimes there is just one context - one big world in which many voices are engaged in one big ranging conversation. But sometimes if you look at the sources it is evident that they divide into different groups of people talking among themselves but not really to people in the other groups. The groups may differ based on the questions or concerns driving them, or their social position, or something else. I do not think one can say who is a reliable ssource or what is a significant view without knowing these different contexts. And I think explicating these different contexts in the article helps make it much clearer and more informative.
Anyway, if we have a section identifying the context in which Russell's voice was significant, and bring into that section the other voices that belong there, well, then I am all for including Russell. I spoke too broadly earlier. Russell certainly does not pass the litmus test for historian (and gentlemen scholars of Russell's agem, or earlier ages, for the most part still do not belong in the same circle as professional academic historians today. It is called "progress.") but if we put him in his proper place, well, that is another matter. Slrubenstein | Talk 13:44, 12 August 2010 (UTC)
(deindenting)Please excuse for the delay in posting a response to the protection of this article after my edits. I was preoccupied with some real life situation which prevented me from focusing on this issue properly. Anyway, my view on the article is that its main problem is with NPOV. NPOV uncompromisingly demands that all articles be written from a neutral point of view. This article is sourced predominantly from Christian sources which make it biased. It has further been edited with a pro Christian bias so much so that it has become a highly biased article on “AFFIRMING JESUS HISTORICITY”. Even the material from the sources is selectively used in a way which helps in “AFFIRMING JESUS HISTORICITY”, and material (even from these sources) which goes against “AFFIRMING JESUS HISTORICITY” is glossed over or misrepresented. This will become clear further down this post. Moreover, the language of this article conveys that it is presenting an all round view, when in fact, it doesn’t. This makes the article deceptive, dishonest and misleading. My objective is to help correct this bias, sophistry and make this article neutral per NPOV. My edits were a step in this direction.
I had made four major edits [26], [27], [28], [29] + the bracket thing [30], and some commas, etc.
Andrew c has reverted all my, Noloop’s and also Cyclopia’s edit [31]. He has mischaracterized my and Noloop’s edits as “disruptive”, “POV pushing” and “favorable to myth camp”. It is uncivil to misrepresent good faith edits in this way. Andrew c should apologize for mischaracterizing good faith edits as “disruptive”, etc. otherwise I may take to characterizing his edits as “Jesus True” camp (whenever such a description is actually justified). A proper description for my edits would be “NPOV camp” because my concern is with NPOV.
I had reverted because, except for mischaracterizing them, he and Griswaldo did not show any meaningful or specific objection with my edits. Only now, in his 2) to 5),[32] Andrew c has shown some meaningful, substantial objections to my edits. I think he should have done it on the talk page at the time of his revert. That way, I would have had a chance to evaluate my edits, and his objections before I decided on a revert. Anyway, it is a good thing that I now have some specific, meaningful objections so that we can discuss them and try to continue to improve the article
  • about the brackets issue, I can now see their meaning and agree that square brackets are needed, but I still think that there is too much space there. Anyway, I think it is rather too childish to require the efforts of an admin to mediate over this.
  • regarding Andrew c’s 2) if you read Ehrman from the last line of page 82, it reads

    It is generally assumed that the Gospel writers didn’t make up these stories whole-cloth (they certainly may have; but given the use of other sources for their accounts, it seems somewhat unlikely.) If not, then they must have gotten them from someplace—either written documents that no longer survive or oral traditions that they had heard.

    It is clear that he accepts the possibility that gospel writers may have made up stories themselves and goes on to explain that the premise that the gospels are based on earlier sources (Q), is based on the assumption that the gospel writers did not cook up stories themselves, which is also certainly possible, but unlikely.
This is why I inserted "probably" and made the sentence read

The four canonical gospels were probably based on earlier, no longer extant sources. .

Thinking over it again, I too now think that Ehrman does not say “probably”. I think we should write the sentence something like this

Based on the assumption that the gospel writers did not invent stories, (which is certainly possible, but somewhat unlikely), the four canonical Gospels are based on earlier, no longer extant sources. .

Please see for yourself what Ehrman says, (last line of page 82, and the next line.) [33]
  • Regarding 3) on Josephus references, the article itself says, Concerns have been raised about the authenticity of the passage, and it is widely held by scholars that at least part of the passage has been altered by a later scribe. The Testimonium's authenticity has attracted much scholarly discussion and controversy of interpolation. Louis H. Feldman counts 87 articles published during the period of 1937–1980, "the overwhelming majority of which question its authenticity in whole or in part.
  • Regarding 5) “few” appears to trivialize the scholars who doubt Jesus historicity. This is why I replaced it with “some”. “Few” was being used in a weasel worded way. It appears to insinuate that the persons and their views which doubt Jesus historicity are unimportant and best neglected.
Regarding Andrew c's "no consensus" and "BRD", I don't believe I must stop editing because on "no consensus". Looks like it is going to take forever to achieve. BRD is a suggestion, not something that could apply and I don't think I have done anything wrong, even if it could.--Civilizededucationtalk 05:31, 15 August 2010 (UTC)
4) regarding brackets, glad we can agree on something! 2) Based on the assumption that the gospel writers did not invent stories, (which is certainly possible, but somewhat unlikely), may only work for the M and L material (which is what Ehrman was discussing) the evidence for Q is the verbatim word concurance between Mt. and Lk. Evidence for a Signs Gospel include the odd numbering (and skipping numbers) in Jn. of the miracle stories, among other evidence. Saying the only evidence for these sources is an assumption is very, very wrong. Again, the quote you take from Ehrman only relates to the special M and L material, not Q, not any of the John sources, etc. 3) I'm not disputing that people question the authenticity of the TF, and that most scholars agree that there has been some Christian meddling. My point is, our manuscripts of Josephus have two separate possible references to Jesus that scholars analyze. Adding a parenthetical comment (argueably) sic is problematic, not only because of the spelling, but because parenthetical comments aren't really encyclopedic in tone or format, +WP:OPED, and simply because Jesus is mentioned twice (even if the material isn't arguably original). 5) Goes down to the crux of the main debate taking up the majority of this talk page. It was why I said the edits were "favorable to myth camp". I could be wrong, but you could be wrong. I restored the article to what it said. I'd be glad to NOT edit anything related to the JM stuff, if you and Noloop agree likewise, so we can continue working on other, less controversial aspects of the article, and agree not to edit the JM stuff until we reach a talk page consensus regarding how to phrase the material. Some people, citing tons of sources, believe the JM view is either a very small minority, or even a "fringe" position, and that we must present that weight, following our sources. Others argue our sources are poor, or that the JM is more prevalent, without really citing anything (and of course I am giving a biased summary of the debate, which I've been trying to lay low on anyway due to becoming jaded on the matter). While there is talk page discussion concerning this stuff, I dont' think there was consensus to change "few" to "some", I feel it skews the weight in favor of the JM, and that I don't find any of the connotations you see in "few". I don't think it says it is unimportant and best neglected, even if Wells himself has basically said those words, "dismiss with amused contempt the suggestion that Jesus never existed" and "the view that there was no historical Jesus... is today almost totally rejected." (among many other cited sources all saying similar conclusions....) But again, I understand that this has been under dispute, and I would urge you guys to stop trying to "fix" the POV before there is talk page agreement, and then perhaps other users would stop reverting, and you guys wouldn't have to revert back, and then get the page protected over and over. Or at least, let's discuss specifically what in this article is POV, and see if we can't reach a neutral phrasing compromise to start from. Again, I vow to not edit in any way regarding the JM stuff in this article, if it is unprotected, unless I have prior talk page consensus. If we can get all parties to likewise at least agree to that, then we can move forward with page unprotection, and continue discussing our issues (and I'd prefer if they started to focus on our actual content and phrasings, not generalities about what scholars are Christian, and what journals they publish in, and so on). PS I just realizes, because your spacing is weird, I missed the first half of your comment, but because I've already typed so much already, I hope you can excuse my silence on those aspects for now.-Andrew c [talk] 15:07, 15 August 2010 (UTC)
I said I'd not type more, but I apologize for this. Reading This article is sourced predominantly from Christian sources which make it biased. struck a chord with me. I mean, we've been over this before. First, there is no agreement or proof that if a scholar happens to be Christian, that we must characterize their works as "Christian". Do Christian surgeons perform Christian surgery, where an atheist has different techniques? A Christian engineer? This is discussed recently below in regards to whether another encyclopedia is a secular or Christian source. We need to get past the idea that Christians are unable to be professional and scholarly on the sole basis of their religious backgrounds. A Ken Ham saying the Genesis creation story is entirely historical in a very literal interpretation is a different bird from a Marcus Borg saying Jesus wasn't really born of a virgin and didn't really re-animate after his resurrection, etc. We can't lump them all in together. I simply don't get Christian=Biased. I understand some editors are concerned with this, and for statements regarding specifically how dominant the JM view is, I've conceded we should seek a wide array of sources (which we already found to support our text weeks ago... i.e. Grant/Wells). But I don't believe that every single bit of information we cite must also be sourced to an atheist, as that is detrimental to NPOV. Meier is a top scholar in his field. Why should we not be able to cite Meier in regards to what are the mainstream positions on the TF, or what scholars think of the Talmud? There is no evidence of bias on that material, and he isn't publishing from a Christian POV when making comments on those topics. Because of the diversity of Christian views, and because Christian can be top scholars in secular fields, I don't think it is fair, or appropriate (or dare I say ethical) to look briefly at our cited sources, then google their religious backgrounds, and conclude they are Christian ergo they are biased. It is unfair, and off base. But I guess we've been arguing about this for weeks now, with little progress. How does this affect article protection? What edits would the other side propose be made to correct this? Or could we agree to forgo any editing in this regard until there is consensus, as I have suggested above for the JM stuff. -Andrew c [talk] 15:27, 15 August 2010 (UTC)
In view of your criticism of my spacing, I have tried rearranging it. Do you think it looks better now? Actually I like to chunk my writing because I think it is somewhat more digestible and looks less unattractive than a big block of prose. Just my preference though, and need not apply to anyone else's preference or style. Will be posting a meaningful reply to your response later. I am mulling over it for now.--Civilizededucationtalk 16:16, 15 August 2010 (UTC)
Take your time in replying. And I didn't mean to harshly criticize your spacing or anything. It looks OK now. Just saying, I personally missed the top part because there was a couple line breaks between a paragraph in one area, but not others. This could be more my fault than yours, and I meant no offense, but thanks for reformatting anyway! -Andrew c [talk] 16:38, 15 August 2010 (UTC)
Hi Andrew c. Regarding 2) (The Ehrman stuff) I have read it again and still think that he is basically speaking about the whole of the Gospels. But he is also talking about M, L etc. nearby and it is a bit confusing, so, I will not press on it for now. I am trying to find some other RS which would say the same thing clearly. But if we look a little below on page 83 of Ehrman, the section titled “Sources within the Canon”, you find that he says[34].

At the same time, I should stress that the sources of the Gospels are riddled with just the same problems that we found in the Gospels themselves: they, too, represent traditions that were passed down by word of mouth, year after year, among Christians who sometimes changed the stories—indeed, sometimes invented the stories—as they retold them.

If we look at the words “At the same time, I should stress…..” We find he stresses this point, at the same time as saying.

These Gospels were based on earlier sources—such as Q…..

And he says it should be done. If we ignore the material in the top quotation, it becomes a misrepresentation of what Ehrman wants to say. At present, we have a total distortion of what Ehrman says. Ehrman does not want to say “The Gospels were based on ….” without saying the things in the top quotation. So, we must include the things in the top quotation too. As such, I think we should write something like this.

The Gospels are based on earlier sources like Q, but they too are mired with the same problems as the Gospels. Christians sometimes changed some of the stories as they retold them year after year, and some of the stories are certainly cooked up stories.

Since he says this rather clearly, there should be no confusion here. Because of Ehrman’s words At the same time, I should stress,.... which leave us no chance to evade, we must do it. How can we not do it when he wants to say this at the same time? I have used “certainly” instead of “indeed”. Actually I wanted to use something that would be as definitive as “indeed”, but could not find any such word, and ended up using the somewhat less/equally definitive “certainly”. I think we actually need a word that would be more definitive than “indeed” because Ehrman uses it with great flourish. I mean, did you notice the extra space that he has introduced by using the hyphens there. Take a look please to get an idea how it looks.[35]
Regarding 3) ‘’Who is arguing that Jesus isn't mentioned twice in Josephus?’’ It is already clear that there are 87+ sources who do argue. So, there is no chance to justify a definitive statement that we presently have. We must qualify it, with some word. OK putting (arguably), with the brackets to top it off, wasn’t the right way to do it. It does stand out like a sore thumb and all, in an otherwise fine flow of prose. (I have come around to thinking that my writing suffers from an overuse of brackets. I am trying to get over it. But old habits die hard.) And the spelling too was wrong OK. But these things can be fixed. Let’s say, we put it something like this

His works contain two highly disputed references to Jesus.

Since it is highly disputed (87+), I think the present sentence is totally untenable. There is a really huge dispute about it containing them. Your argument that it contains two of them, is part of the great debate. In my view, if some document is thought be having two forgeries, it would be much less trustworthy than a document which is thought to be having one forgery. Anyway, since our opinions on the matter do not count for much, I think there is no point discussing them. Speaking about the great debate, I think we could elucidate in the article about some points on both sides of the argument. But let us save this for later.
Regarding 5) the “some” vs “few” thing, I really don’t understand why you would say that it is the crux of the issue. The whole of the article looks equally controversial to me and I have no particular love/hate relationship with this section. Maybe you guys had a good round on it sometime before I entered the scene, and I missed the drama. The whole article looks equally littered with problematic, controversial things to me. I think we should take it as usual and go about it without getting hyper. Since SV is expected to take a stab at this section, I think it we may drop this issue and have her do her thing first as a welcome gesture.
Since you have asked what I think is POV in this article, I think I have already explained it that it is a Christian POV article because it is sourced primarily from Christian sources. NPOV demands that it be neutral POV. At present, it is speaking from Christian POV, not neutral POV. Moreover, it makes it appear that it is speaking from a neutral POV, thus deceiving, and misleading the reader into believing that he is reading a neutral POV article while he is not. This is what I want to correct by attribution. I am something of a fan of NPOV. Since I can see only (IMO) no-good arguments trying to stop me from doing it, it is inspiration enough for me to get going at it with all enthusiasm. I will keep arguing for attribution for as long as it takes. I love attribution.
I would also like to clear your Christian=biased misconception. I am saying any Christian / Atheist / Muslim / X$ speaking on Christianity/Atheism/Islam/ X$=biased. Attribute it. It is going to to take much more discussion. Let’s leave it at this now.
In the meantime, while I am arguing for attribution, I will pursue other ways of making this article NPOV by finding some new materials, and correcting misrepresentation, or cherry picking of old materials. It will be more time consuming, but it will be educative for me, and I have a growing interest in this subject. I intend to check out the whole of the article. Maybe with growing knowledge in this area, I would also be able to contribute to other articles with similar subject matter. Correcting misrepresentation, half representation, cherry picking, etc. of present sources is also an effective way of achieving NPOV. When I first took a look at this article, I was a bit slow to see my role in it. But now, I see my role, and am playing it.
About no consensus, I think the argument is equally forceful both ways. There is no consensus for new edits, but there is no consensus for the old version too. So, it is worthless to discuss "no consensus".
I also notice that, so far, you have not made any comments about one of my edits which you reverted. So, I take it that you have nothing to say on it and I can go ahead with reinstating it without much fanfare. If you have any comments/ objections / criticisms / suggestions about it, please provide it so that I can elucidate / retract/ expand / modify my views on it.
Bye for now.Face-smile.svg--Civilizededucationtalk 15:13, 21 August 2010 (UTC)
Sorry, I don't have much time for the computer today. Just to be clear, what is the one edit that I have not commented on, which you intend to reinstate without fanfare?-Andrew c [talk] 15:28, 21 August 2010 (UTC)
[36] This one.-Civilizededucationtalk 16:16, 21 August 2010 (UTC)
The idea that the special M and L material are physical documents instead of just oral traditions or personal knowledge or what have you is a hypothesis. Scholars also have hypothetical reconstructions of Q, but the idea that the gospels were based on earlier sources, isn't hypothetical. It is their reconstruction, and apparent use to scholars today. The author of Luke, in the introduction, says as much. I don't believe the addition of "hypothetical" in the sentence is needed, and in fact may cause confusion. As for Ehrman, I don't think we need to qualify that the gospels were based on earlier sources, some written. But I do think some of the material you quote would work well in a second paragraph in that sources behind the sources section. I think we need a paragraph explaining how scholars use the material, how reliable it is, etc. First paragraph just describes it, but we need analysis. As for Josephus, perhaps we can work out a compromise. "two highly disputed references" isn't correct, because "Only the second of these passages comes from him with any certainty" (Theissan p.64). My sources describe it as "he does mention him twice in the Jewish Antiquities", "he does make two tantalizingly brief appearances in the Antiquities, "the two references to Jesus in The Jewish Antiquities. etc. I think we should make it clear that a) there are two references/mentions of Jesus in Josephus. Scholars discuss them. One is basically accepted, the other is disputed, and clearly contains Christian interpolation. But we can't get anywhere without first saying there are two passages which scholars discuss consider. This isn't a "maybe" this is a "yes, they are there... now how did they get there". Perhaps the sentence needs another qualifying clause following it, but I don't believe your edit was a move in the right direction for these reasons. I disagree with your conclusions concerning bias, and the state of this article. I'd be curious to find other specific things you have problems with, instead of discussing our general differences concerning bias. -Andrew c [talk] 20:28, 21 August 2010 (UTC)
The idea that the special M and L material are physical documents instead of just oral traditions or personal knowledge or what have you is a hypothesis. Please explain what it means. I am not clear about its meaning.-Civilizededucationtalk 08:37, 24 August 2010 (UTC)
I think it means that -- the special M and L material are not hypothetical sources.-Civilizededucationtalk 18:22, 24 August 2010 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────Hi, its great to see that you sorted out the Ehrman issue. So, that leaves us with just the hypothetical thing and the TF issue. On the TF issue, I would like to see what clause you want to add, which could solve the issue.

On the "hypothetical" thing, you appear to be saying that they are not hypothetical, I do not agree. Let's leave it. Actually, if you look at the sentence in the article, you might reflect that it is a long sentence, and the reader is likely to get confused as to what "source documents" are being referred to. This is why I had added the word "hypothetical" there. I think, the reader is likely to assume that the "source documents" are something which he does not know about, and will not correlate it with the Q stuff. In such a situation, just because of the long list of heavyweight names in the sentence, the reader is likely to think that the "source documents" are some important documents on which the Gospels are based. We have already seen that Ehrman warns us against giving much value to the Q sources. Perhaps we should add another short sentence after this sentence to make the correlation clear. If you think that there is a better way to avoid this confusion, I would like to get a suggestion from you here too. The material is referenced, and even has the gbooks link, but does not give any page no. I tried finding it, but could not do it without the page no. Although I don't have anything against the material here, except for the confusion which I mentioned, I would still have liked to see what the book says. Anyway. Cheers.-Civilizededucationtalk 17:52, 27 August 2010 (UTC)

First, sorry it took a while for me to reply. Didn't realize discussion way up here was still active. Next, I'm a bit confused about what book is missing a page number in the citation. That said, the sentence is a bit long and confusing, so I tried to simplify it. What do you think?-Andrew c [talk] 21:41, 27 August 2010 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────Hi. Of course it is better now. But there is more confusion!!!! It is clear now that the citation does have a page no. Let me explain from the beginning. This is the citation I am talking about.

“Crossan, John Dominic (1999). The birth of Christianity: discovering what happened in the years immediately after the execution of Jesus. Continuum International Publishing Group. p. 10. ISBN 9780567086686” You see, when I clicked at the link, it led to page X [37]of the book, which is part of the preface of the book. I could not relate the material there with the stuff we had. Here’s what we had.

”Consequently, scholars like Sanders, Geza Vermes, John P. Meier, David Flusser, James H. Charlesworth, Raymond E. Brown, Paula Fredriksen and John Dominic Crossan argue that, although many readers are accustomed to thinking of Jesus solely as a theological figure whose existence is a matter only of religious debate, the four canonical Gospel accounts are based on source documents written within decades after Jesus' lifetime, and therefore provide a basis for the study of the "historical" Jesus. These historians also draw on other historical sources and archaeological evidence to reconstruct the life of Jesus in his historical and cultural context.”

Then I went to page 10 of the book, and still could not make any connection with the stuff we had in the article. Then I thought that the “p10” in the citation is “something else” and that the citation does not have a page no. This is why I said that the material is referenced, but does not have a page no. But after you asked what citation is missing a page no., it became clear that “p10” is the page no. and the “page X” of the preface is intended.

After that, I tried to check what the book says on page X. But still couldn’t relate the contents of page X with the stuff we had. You know what I find. No list of heavyweight names, no--“although many readers are accustomed to thinking of Jesus solely as a theological figure whose existence is a matter only of religious debate, the four canonical Gospel accounts are based on source documents written within decades after Jesus' lifetime, and therefore provide a basis for the study of the historical Jesus.”

But I did find something similar to the last line of our stuff. The last line of our material is--"These historians also draw on other historical sources and archaeological evidence to reconstruct the life of Jesus in his historical and cultural context.”

Then only I realized that the citation was for the last line only, not for the whole paragraph. You see, except for the last line, the rest of our material appears to be all OR. And the last line of our stuff is also somewhat different from the material in the book. So, we have to take it down. It’s all OR. It is a totally twisted misrepresentation of what the book says. At most the last line of the para can be recovered. But I don’t think it would be meaningful to do so. Sad to say, the effort at simplifying it have been wasted. Not my fault, the one who put in this OR is to be blamed. But we can take heart; at least we located the OR through our efforts.

Just think, our readers were leaving the article with the impression that the Gospels are based on some “source documents” which these big names use and know about. And we had even made it appear that it was all sourced.

Do you think my impression of the issue is correct?

Now, coming on to the TF issue, you had said that we could work out a compromise on this. I had asked you to spell out what was on your mind, but you have ignored it.

Let’s look back, I make the edit, then you revert it, and say; “3) Who is arguing that Jesus isn't mentioned twice in Josephus?” Then, I was able to counter your objection by presenting material from within the article itself. And you then offer to make a compromise.

You know what; it shows that the article is inconsistent with itself. You made a claim based on one part of the article, and I could counter it with another part of the article. The same thing could happen to a reader if he got into a debate with someone. If this happens, the reader is likely to blame us for writing a misleading and inconsistent article. To make the article consistent, we must somehow qualify the factual-type statement that we have now. The factual type statement is inconsistent with other parts of the article. We must make it clear that it is a disputed thing. One way is to insert “highly disputed” in it. What do you say?

I had recounted our conflict only to highlight that the article is inconsistent with itself. I fully realize that I too could be in the same place as you if I had relied on the sentence in question. The fault is in the wording of the sentence.

If you do not want to discuss this issue, I will not press you again; I will have no choice but to move ahead unilaterally.

p.s. I am in no hurry to get this thread archived. The issues connected with it are very much alive.-Civilizededucationtalk 07:38, 31 August 2010 (UTC)

I have removed the para ”Consequently, scholars like Sanders, Geza Vermes, John P. Meier, David Flusser, James H. Charlesworth, Raymond E. Brown, Paula Fredriksen and John Dominic..." because of reasons described above.
There is no consensus for this change. You have to read the entire books; theis description is the description of entire books and it is the books as wholes that makes these points. It does not have to be a single quotation. Slrubenstein | Talk 10:10, 7 September 2010 (UTC)
We are left with 3) Who is arguing that Jesus isn't mentioned twice in Josephus?TF issue. I want to think out some more before deciding what to do. After that, maybe I would spell out other specific things that I have problem with. I can't ignore Andrew c's curiosity about them.-Civilizededucationtalk 02:24, 7 September 2010 (UTC)
Hi Slrubenstein. Do you think it is OK to just gather something from a book as a whole and present it in a few lines? We have an encyclopedia to write. This sort of thing is going to lead to huge problems. Anyone can interpret a book to say whatever he wants. It dosen't mean we start keeping material like that. The citation even gives a page no. The material is simply not there. It's a clear case of OR. No consensus is not a reason for keeping OR. WP:NOR clearly say that the source must directly support the material as it is presented. Our source is far from being "spot on" with the material we have. If you think that our source supports the material we have, please show me the material in the source which supports our material. It is not enough to say that the book supports it as a whole.-Civilizededucationtalk 14:28, 7 September 2010 (UTC)
"Information in an article must be verifiable in the references cited. Article statements generally should not rely on unclear or inconsistent passages nor on passing comments. Passages open to multiple interpretations should be precisely cited or avoided." (WP:OR) In many cases the material is so badly worded that we need another source to tell us just what the first source actually says. For example, Take this quote from Michael Grant (Attitudes to the Evidence cross referenced to (Grant, Michael. Jesus: An Historian's Review of the Gospels. Scribner, 1995; first published 1977, p. 199)):
"This skeptical way of thinking reached its culmination in the argument that Jesus as a human being never existed at all and is a myth. In ancient times, this extreme view was named the heresy of docetism (seeming) because it maintained that Jesus never came into the world "in the flesh", but only seemed to; (I John 4:2) and it was given some encouragement by Paul's lack of interest in his fleshly existence. Subsequently, from the eighteenth century onwards, there have been attempts to insist that Jesus did not even "seem" to exist, and that all tales of his appearance upon the earth were pure fiction. In particular, his story was compared to the pagan mythologies inventing fictitious dying and rising gods. (paragraph break) Some of the lines of thinking employed to disprove the Christ-myth theory have been somewhat injudicious."
As was talked about in Talk:Jesus_myth_theory/Archive_39#Grant even when put back into a larger context it is unclear just what point Michael Grant is making here. It looks like he is saying the Christ Myth theory is a modern form of docetism but the passage is so awkwardly worded that unless we find another source telling us that claiming that the passage does this is WP:OR.--BruceGrubb (talk) 04:28, 11 September 2010 (UTC)
This isn't awkwardly worded at all. It may help to re-read the sentence beginning "Subsequently, from the eighteenth century onwards, there have been attempts to insist that Jesus did not even "seem" to exist,..." Docetism is the idea that Jesus only seemed to exist in the flesh (but was actually pure spirit), which comes from the 1st-2nd centuries CE; Grant differentiates this from 18th century and later theories that Jesus didn't even seem to exist—he was completely fictional. There's no claim that the CMT is a modern form of docetism at all. --Akhilleus (talk) 04:48, 11 September 2010 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────The material I am talking about is light years away from being unclear. It's very clear that it isn't there. Should I wait more?-Civilizededucationtalk 08:24, 11 September 2010 (UTC)

I agree that this paragraph is poorly worded. Certainly the authors quoted have made statements in the general direction indicated in the paragraph, but the way it is summarised here is selective to the point of misleading laypersons. To start off, I am very concerned about the sentence that reads "the four canonical Gospel, 'when examined critically' ...". This is factually correct in technical language, but I think it would help the layperson a lot if this sentence was reworded to read: "Authors X, Y and Z have all stated that the gospels cannot be taken literally, but that some reliable information on some issues can be extracted from the gospels if they are analysed with appropriate caution." The blue-links can then help the reader who wants specific information, and we can add individual references where we have them, to expand on this point. Wdford (talk) 09:04, 11 September 2010 (UTC)
That would be eight sources for eight names. We would have to see what all of them say about the reliability of the Gospels. Generally they attest to the reliability of the Gospels with some caveats (even for some issues). It would still be a synthesis. I don't see why this OR/synthesis is needed at all.-Civilizededucationtalk 10:09, 11 September 2010 (UTC)
Its actually a summary of what those authors have stated. It is valid material, in that the "history" (if any) of Jesus is heavily dependent on the content of the gospels, and the content of the gospels is only partially reliable, and we don't really know which "facts" are reliable and which not, therefore we can know very little about Jesus with any certainty. If you are not happy with this paragraph, then what do you propose to replace this with? Wdford (talk) 13:11, 11 September 2010 (UTC)
I don't see the need for a long list of names to say this. Let's see how you want to rephrase the paragraph. Maybe we could do it without citing it. But we do need proper sourcing if we need names. AFAIKS, the section reads fine even without this material, and I am not really keen on keeping it. I agree that it may be relevant to say that we have to depend on the Gospels if we are to say anything on the Historicity of Jesus. Let's see how you want to do it.-Civilizededucationtalk 02:41, 12 September 2010 (UTC)
How about that? Its a summary, without quotes. I have no objection to using a phrase like "several leading scholars" in place of specific names, as long as its clear that these are not fringe people. I also would like to use plain English instead of technical phrases such as "when viewed critically" and so forth. Wdford (talk) 14:16, 12 September 2010 (UTC)
Sonofagun! It's great as it is.-Civilizededucationtalk 14:52, 12 September 2010 (UTC)
    • ^ Van Voorst, Robert E. Jesus outside the New Testament. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2000, p. 5.