Talk:Historicity of Jesus/Archive 33

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Theologians vs. Historians

James Dunn, and various other people who are referenced on this page, is a theologian concerned with New Testament doctrine. So it is obvious that he would believe in the ideas purported by the bible as being historically accurate. However, he is not qualified to comment on the historicity of the events for our purposes since he is not a historian himself, and his own religious beliefs make him a biased source of information. He and other sources like him should be removed from this page and should be replaced with more qualified, neutral sources.Spirit469 (talk) 02:02, 18 December 2013 (UTC)

No, merely being a theologian does not commit somebody to a belief that the Bible is historically accurate. Dunn is a recognised authority on certain aspects of New Testament background, so there is nothing wrong in itself in quoting him in the article. (Indeed, there are some points in which it would be hard to find anyone more qualified.) Now, I assume you are taking issue with the sentence, "According to James Dunn, nearly all modern scholars consider the baptism of Jesus and his crucifixion to be historically certain." Obviously, the fact that Dunn says this is not in dispute - the question is, can we find a better authority about the assessment of scholarly opinion. I wouldn't have thought so. On the flip side, are you able to produce anyone who disputes the scholarly assessment? (Remember, this would be quite different to finding someone who disputes the historicity of Jesus' baptism and crucifixion!) StAnselm (talk) 03:37, 18 December 2013 (UTC)
I would say that he is an historian. His PhD thesis was partly historical (Baptism in the Holy Spirit, 1970). He also has many publications on historical topics which are published by very reputable presses or have good reviews in reputable journals: e.g., The Evidence for Jesus (1985); The Partings of the Ways between Christianity and Judaism and their Significance for the Character of Christianity (1991) and second edition (2006); The Historical Jesus in Recent Research (co-editor with McKnight and contributor) (2005); and Christianity in the Making vol. 1 (2005) and vol. 2 (2008). --Atethnekos (DiscussionContributions) 03:50, 18 December 2013 (UTC)
What I am saying is that being a theologian (particularly on New Testament doctrine), there is a clear bias on matters of historicity concerning the events that are talked about in scripture. In Dunn's particular case, his Wikipedia page also describes him as a minister. I fail to see what qualifies him as a historian in any way. And I fail to see how "Baptism in the Holy Spirit" can be considered training for a historian. What I would like to see are what ACTUAL and SECULAR historians from respected Universities, with background in strictly historical matters, have to say about it, rather than simply look at what theologians who publish books about about the subject have to say. Spirit469 (talk) 06:47, 18 December 2013 (UTC)
Your POV is concerning - I'm sorry if I'm misreading you, but you seem to imply that a religious person can't be a historian. Or that a theologians can't write history. Or that theology is necessarily anti-historical. Anyway, I trust we can all agree that Dunn is from a respected university. StAnselm (talk) 07:04, 18 December 2013 (UTC)
In any case, I would encourage you to do the research you propose above. StAnselm (talk) 07:06, 18 December 2013 (UTC)
It can be considered training for an historian because he would have to do historical research under his advisers in order to craft the thesis. Then he would to defend the claims at his thesis defense. The people questioning him would be professors at Cambridge University. Cambridge University is generally considered a respected university, but maybe there were some issues I don't know about around 1970? Are you aware of any issue at that time with their reputation?
Since we disagree as to whether there is anything that qualifies him as an historian in any way, maybe you can respond case by case? Let's start with Christianity in the Making vol. 1: Jesus Remembered. This was given a positive review by Markus Bockmuehl while he was at Cambridge University in The Journal of Theological Studies which is published by Oxford University (April 2005, 56 (1): 140-149 doi:10.1093/jts/fli014). It was also given a positive review by Samuel Byrskog of University of Gothenburg in Journal for the Study of the New Testament which is published by SAGE Publications (June 2004, 26 (4): 459-471 doi: 10.1177/0142064X0402600405). There is also a positive review by Robert L. Webb of McMaster University in Toronto Journal of Theology published the University of Toronto Press (March 2006, 22 (1): 71-123 doi: 10.3138/tjt.22.1.71). There is also a positive review by Robert Morgan also of Oxford University in the Expository Times which is also published by SAGE (October 2004, 116 (1): 1-6 doi: 10.1177/001452460411600102). There is also a positive review by Margaret MacDonald of St. Francis Xavier University in Studies in Religion which is also published by SAGE (March 2004, 33 (1): 126-128 doi: 10.1177/000842980403300111). So do you think that this publication is any credit to Dunn's reputation as an historian of early Christianity? --Atethnekos (DiscussionContributions) 09:23, 18 December 2013 (UTC)
Sorry, but theologians are not historians, and that they have undergone formal academic training does not make them anymore qualified to answer this question than say professors in rhetoric. However, since it is a Christian subject, it is informative to have their opinions on the matter in this article, although it would probably be best for matters of clarity to have their opinions in a separate section, and the opinions of formal historians in another. I am not going to enter the whole "we need secular sources"-dispute, because I am aware that plenty of historians (Christian or non-Christian) support the historicity of Jesus, so that is also something that needs to be included in this article, but the separation of opinions by scholars in theology and history, as being two separate fields of study, is highly necessary. And, Atetkhnekos, I am not quite sure what you are trying to prove with your long recital of reviews of theological books in theological journals. --Saddhiyama (talk) 10:01, 18 December 2013 (UTC)
I believe that Christianity in the Making vol. 1 is a work in history, not theology (I didn't cite a review of any other work). For example, as the Morgan review says: "It is intended as the first of three volumes on Christianity in the Making and as such it is primarily a historical project" (p. 1); or the Webb review: "Jesus Remembered is the first volume of what James D.G. Dunn intends to be a three volume history of the first 120 years of the early Christian movement—the magnum opus of this renowned NT scholar. Quite appropriately, given the nature of this project, Dunn's first volume is concerned with the historical Jesus" (p. 75). The point of citing the five reviews (I'm sorry if that's a long recital) is to give some evidence that Dunn is an historian. Do you have a source for the claim that the book is not a work of history? --Atethnekos (DiscussionContributions) 10:31, 18 December 2013 (UTC)
Yes, you provided one yourself. "...the magnum opus of this renowned NT scholar". --Saddhiyama (talk) 10:57, 18 December 2013 (UTC)
So the missing premiss there would be "If one is an NT scholar, then a book one writes is not a work of history". Obviously the sources I provided disagree with that premiss. Do you have a source for such a premiss? --Atethnekos (DiscussionContributions) 11:02, 18 December 2013 (UTC)
This discussion is going nowhere fast... StAnselm (talk) 11:04, 18 December 2013 (UTC)
Atetehnekos: No, that is not the premise. The premise is that if it is written by theologian, it is a work written by theologian. Surely that can't be difficult to understand? It seems a rather standard practice in Wikipedia articles, if there is an abundance of sources on a specific subject, to sort these sources into groups based on origin, see for example Resurrection of Jesus or Capitalism. The same should apply here, with a section headed "Perspectives" and subsections headed by something like "Theologians (or biblical scholars)", and another "Historians" or something similar. It seems to me that that sort of information would be of primary importance to a reader of this article. --Saddhiyama (talk) 11:15, 18 December 2013 (UTC)
You said that you have a source which says that the book is not a work of history, and you quoted just "...the magnum opus of this renowned NT scholar". I understood that to mean that you thought that quote (along with, I assume, some other set of premisses) implies that the book is not a work of history. If you combine just the premisses "This book is the magnum opus of a renowned NT scholar" and "If this book is written by a theologian, it is a work by a theologian" then you still do not get the conclusion that the book is not a work of history. You would have to add at least another premiss, e.g., "Any book by a theologian is not a work of history". Do you have a source for such a premiss? --Atethnekos (DiscussionContributions) 11:24, 18 December 2013 (UTC)
It is indeed a work of history written by a theologian. There are countless works of history out there written by non-professionals, many more than there works written by professionals, I do not question that. As I stated I am suggesting an editorial change of the article, not the exclusion of works written by theologians. If I let you to believe otherwise, I apologise. As I have stated my intention is to sort the views of the schools of thought of theologians and historians into separate subsections for

the benefit of the reader. --Saddhiyama (talk) 12:52, 18 December 2013 (UTC)

No, no need to apologize: I did not take your meaning otherwise. The process I was starting, because there was a disagreement above, was to go systematically through Dunn's publication record in history to see whether they are be enough to establish him as an historian, which I think they are. A clearer parallel case: Thomas R. Martin. Martin is not sufficiently established as an historian because he works in a history department, or because he has degrees from a history department (because, indeed, neither is true); rather, he is established as such due to the number and reception of his publications in history. --Atethnekos (DiscussionContributions) 19:14, 18 December 2013 (UTC)
We've had this discussion many times. The mere fact that someone is a theologian doesn't imply their academic work is biased, and even if it is, that doesn't mean their views are automatically no longer notable. The problem with bias is widely acknowledged though, both inside and outside the field of HJ studies. This is mentioned in the Historical Jesus article, which generally also mentions people's affiliations to help the reader identify potential bias. Something similar could be useful here, though I remain unconvinced that the present article needs to exist in parallel with the HJ and CMT articles at all. Martijn Meijering (talk) 13:05, 18 December 2013 (UTC)
I would support a merge of this article with Historical Jesus.Spirit469 (talk) 00:39, 20 December 2013 (UTC)
I don't think there is anything at all in this article that is not already covered more thoroughly in the HJ and CMT articles. A merger should not be at all difficult. Wdford (talk) 09:08, 20 December 2013 (UTC)
Sorry to be a bit dense, I understand what HJ is but what is CMT? John D. Croft (talk) 22:45, 21 December 2013 (UTC)
Christ Myth Theory. Martijn Meijering (talk) 22:47, 21 December 2013 (UTC)

For the sake of improving the article, the glaring question that arises upon reading all of them is not whether or not there is a scholarly consensus but why is there such a consensus? Is there material facts that the consensus is based on? If so what are they? These articles would be VASTLY improved if they said WHY there is a scholarly consensus instead of just stating there is one. Scholars have had wrong consensus's since the dawn of scholasticism, i.e. that the sun revolved around the earth. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 09:28, 29 December 2013 (UTC)

One of the main issues that I can see, is with the neutrality of the source citations. As I continue to read all of the above statements and counter-statements, one thing jumps out at me; the debate over sourcing people like Van Voorst and other Theologians, and whether a Theologian can be relied upon as an unbiased source for historical data. Personally, I'm not at all sure that that's possible. Perhaps we should be seeking a better balance of sources, and including more people *outside* of the church establishment. Edit Centric talk 03:07, 12 January 2014 (UTC)

That is precisely the issue I meant to bring attention to when starting this discussion.Spirit469 (talk) 19:35, 14 January 2014 (UTC)
The problem is that there are very few scholars other than biblical scholars who have published about the issue. Also note that some but not all of these are also theologians, the two terms aren't synonymous. Martijn Meijering (talk) 20:22, 14 January 2014 (UTC)
Agree with Martijn Meijering - "Theologian" doesn't equal biased hack who is unable to speak truthfully about history anymore than "environmental scientist" equals biased hack who is unable to speak truthfully about global warming. I mean if we were to throw out every scientific/historical document written by theologians, where would this end? I mean, Darwin's sole degree was a BA in Theology, so some of you need to be careful which stone you overturn... . Ckruschke (talk) 15:42, 15 January 2014 (UTC)Ckruschke
Hahaha, what a hilarious story about Darwin! Martijn Meijering (talk) 15:50, 15 January 2014 (UTC)
Martijn Meijering (talk) you mean it is funny because no reliable source can confirm it, it is a lie, and ironically the guy is trying to use that lie in order to justify the use of Christian theologians, preists and pastors to unbiasly affirm historicity? Darwin had a normal arts degree, not a degree in theology. And theologians are NOT historians with few exceptions, Bart Ehrman being one. An example if a real HISTORIAN would be Richard Carrier who has a PhD in ancient HISTORY. I Agree With The Other editors Who Question The Use Of Pastors And Priests As HISTORIANS. ‎Lyingforjebus (talk) 20:23, 29 January 2014 (UTC)
Lyingforjebus - correct - I mistyped - I meant to say "...Darwin's sole degree was a BA in preparation to pursuing a career in Theology..." After re-reading my post, I seemed to have missed those important words. That's what I get for typing too quick and not proof-reading...
However, my point remains the same. The whole discussion has been about people commenting on issues outside of their degree area and thus my "joke" was that Darwin was about to become a priest and didn't have a degree in anything even close to zoology/biology and yet he is held up as the father of Evolutionary thought while other, similarly self-taught/journeyman-level trained author's of history today are tarred as "uneducated twits" who do not deserve a voice. I think even you can see my point w/o stooping to character asssinations that and foolishly laughable accusations that I "lied"... Ckruschke (talk) 15:34, 3 February 2014 (UTC)Ckruschke
The reverse is also true, there is much denigration of CMT proponents on the basis that they aren't biblical scholars, which makes even less sense. If anything, the complaint should be that they aren't historians. Martijn Meijering (talk) 15:41, 3 February 2014 (UTC)

Simplification of the lead section

The wording of the third lead paragraph is a bit cluttered. I propose that we simplify it as follows:

Most modern scholars of antiquity agree that Jesus existed, but scholars differ on the historicity of specific episodes described in the Biblical accounts, and the only two events subject to "almost universal assent" are that Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist and was crucified by the order of the Roman Prefect Pontius Pilate. There is a significant debate about his nature, his actions and his sayings, but most scholars agree that Jesus was a Galilean Jew who was born between 7-4 BC and died 30–36 AD, that he lived in Galilee and Judea, did not preach or study elsewhere, and that he spoke Aramaic and perhaps also Hebrew and Greek.

Any objections? Wdford (talk) 10:06, 8 March 2014 (UTC)

I think that this is a faithful representation of the current text and also agree that it reads/flows better. Ckruschke (talk) 02:27, 11 March 2014 (UTC)Ckruschke

Yes, that is much better, because it removes "Biblical scholars and classical historians regard theories of his non-existence as effectively refuted" This ridiculous statement is cited to James Dunn, Bachelor of Divinity and Doctor of Theology degrees from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. In other words, it is cited to someone who is not qualified to talk about the historicity of anything. I'm glad krucke has finally come around. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Rogerbreal (talkcontribs) 05:00, 12 March 2014 (UTC)

Are you purposefully ignoring the PhD and Doctorate of Divinity from Cambridge or do you not know about them? ReformedArsenal (talk) 21:30, 12 March 2014 (UTC)

PhDs in magic and enlightenment need not apply. This is a Wiki about history. If you'd like to use a PdD in enlightenment to make a case, head on over to the virgin birth wiki — Preceding unsigned comment added by Rogerbreal (talkcontribs) 03:03, 13 March 2014 (UTC)

I wasn't aware that Cambridge offered a PhD in "enlightenment"... Where did you get your PhD from again? ReformedArsenal (talk) 14:05, 13 March 2014 (UTC)

Article reflects author's agenda

This article needs to be more balanced; the author makes numerous claims concerning the historicity of Jesus, but does not list any documents that support his view. He does refer to Josephus and his mention of Jesus, but most historians regard the Josephus cite as a 4th century forgery (earlier editions of Josephus do not contain any mention of Jesus).

EF — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:46, 8 February 2014 (UTC)

This article has no single author but is a collaboration that anyone, who follows Wikipedia rules, can take part in. Even you can sign up and provide your reliable sources for Josephus forgery for discussion. Alatari (talk) 05:26, 9 February 2014 (UTC)

Late comer here, was researching some stuff and came across this article. The part where I literally laughed out loud at the clear NPOV of this bollocks started primarily at:

Virtually all modern scholars of antiquity agree that Jesus existed, and most biblical scholars and classical historians see the theories of his non-existence as effectively refuted.[1][2][3][8][9][10] In antiquity, the existence of Jesus was never denied by those who opposed Christianity.[27][28]

That's bullshit. Ten citations or not, it's patently absurd and false. I can find a hundred thousand modern scholars of antiquity who feel there is not substantive evidence of the Christian religions Jesus existing in one google search; I am sure that the 10 authors cited made this claim, but when a claim is patently absurd and verifiably false all the citations in the world mean absolutely nothing.

In antiquity the existence of Jesus could NEVER be denied as it would lead to your immediate persecution, the rounding up of yourself and your family, the extremes of torture for heresy and the eventual murder of yourself, your associates, and your loved ones. This is a historically verifiable fact. Fuck, even saying the world wasn't the centre of the universe almost got Galileo offed.

I'm not even going to touch this article or try and make it read more neutral. There's just too much fucking crazy present, but I truly hope that those who participated in this propaganda hang their heads and weep for the defacement of the neutrality that makes this project, Wikipedia, a grand resource and I strongly, strongly support a re-write of this by people who aren't batshit mental! BaSH PR0MPT (talk) 09:35, 9 February 2014 (UTC)

BP, you weren't very clear about how you feel. Can you please elaborate? Bill the Cat 7 (talk) 13:21, 10 February 2014 (UTC)
BaSH PR0MPT - the statement that you found so laughable has been craft by literally dozens of editors as viewpoints of new editors come and go. You may find it false due to your obvious non-NPOV on the entire subject, but much of your argument is just vulgur WP:OR which you do not even attempt to backup. In addition parts of it aren't even germaine to the subject (as the Earth being the center of the universe is actually a creation of the Greeks - Plato to be specific). See Heliocentrism, Geocentric model, and History of the Center of the Universe. I'm also not sure where you found your idea that espousing claims that denied Jesus led to your punishment/death as it was largely the opposite - claiming to be a Christian usually caused persecution up until the Roman empire adopted Christianity as its main religeon. And even after that, the Romans held on to their dozens of pagan gods and thus "at the least" turned a blind eye on the continued practices of these religeons as a continued source of income via taxes.
Please provide sourcing of your claims because at this point your your post is just a angry rant with no substance. Ckruschke (talk) 16:42, 10 February 2014 (UTC)Ckruschke

Another falsification by Ckruschke (talk). The statement that we all find laughable except you has obviously been crafted by a single author, and spread across every page related to Jebus. Absolutely REDICULOUS that you would accuse other editors of NPOV. Absolutely absurd of you to do that, in fact a mockery of Wikipedia policies. What a hypocritical statement, all too common amongst your ilk.Lyingforjebus (talk) 22:42, 11 February 2014 (UTC)

So many personal attacks, so few reliable sources... Huon (talk) 22:58, 11 February 2014 (UTC)
Agree Huon. Guess that's what "my ilk" gets for trying to be nice for once... Ckruschke (talk) 15:43, 12 February 2014 (UTC)Ckruschke

Snivelling will get you no where. And please do review the burden of proof principle. Obviously, the authors of this Wiki found a list of Christians who think Jesus is real, and one Atheist (Ehrman). Now it's been compiled into a ridiculous paragraph, as BaSH PR0MPT mentioned, and spread to every Jesus article. Statements from historians like Richard Carrier, or as Ckruschke (talk) your ilk prefer to call him, "blogger" are routinely removed from this article as are statements from Ehrman which are critical of historical Jesus claims regarding what is and isn't accepted as historical. So, just because you've compiled a short paragraph, Huon (talk) with a few pastors and priests who think Jesus was real, doesn't mean I have to find a paragraph that states otherwise. The point is, this article is full of that type of BS, and we don't need to disprove your claims any more than we need to disprove claims of a magic spaghetti monster, so quit with your snivelling rhetoric about personal attacks and us finding reliable sources to disprove your positive claims. The fact is, those sources, as Bash Prompt and 3 or 4 others have already indicated DO NOT BELONG. Capice? Not sure if English is your first language, Wong, but I hope you catch my drift, and if you're all butt hurt about personal attacks take it up with the board instead of whining and bitching like a snivelling child who's just been told that the tooth fairy isn't real.Lyingforjebus (talk) 02:07, 15 February 2014 (UTC)

*sigh* there are hundreds of historical documents supporting the existence of Jesus, which is why Christ mythicism is a fringe theory, supported by a handful of scholars, and why virtually all scholars say Jesus existed. The OP is a moron who probably just watched Zeitgeist for the first time.Ordessa (talk) 03:38, 15 February 2014 (UTC)

No, there are hundreds of historical documents supporting the existence of _Christians_ who believed in Jesus, but no records of the actual existence of Jesus himself. ~ Röbin Liönheart (talk) 03:54, 16 February 2014 (UTC)
Wrong. You need to a little research before you throw out comments like this. The information on this page is correct - as you would see if you read any one of the referenced links. Ckruschke (talk) 16:16, 18 February 2014 (UTC)Ckruschke
Actually, he is right. There is no historical evidence for the existence of Jesus. And the people listed are known religious people with degrees in theology or whatnot, but not history [1] [2] , and therefore should not be regarded as aspects of knowledge outside their jurisdiction, including historical evidence for anything. All the referenced links regard information from people who not non-history degrees from known religious schools, and are themselves religious, meaning there is an obvious bias when it comes to the information. There is also a ton of talk of a non-existent consensus, or at least one in which no person on earth has yet been able to show via a poll of the beliefs of historians. Even if a consensus did exist, there should be more hard evidence here than simply an appeal to authority, the fact that this evidence is not addressed is very telling. Where are the articles showing the existence of Jesus? Where are the artifacts that Jesus would have held? How is the account of Josephus Flavius accurate when even a non-scholar can know it is false [3] ? How is Josephus' work accountable anyways, written over 55 years after the supposed death of Jesus [4] ? Why did so many historians exist at that time yet refuse to mention Jesus at all? [5]
For an article that strives on neutral points of view, this whole post seems vividly one-sided towards one belief, and also a huge bias using the Argument from Authority and very little actual historical evidence outside of hearsay. Please edit this to eliminate the bias and please add real evidence and unbiased sources to the article. Sparkveela (talk) 01:59, 20 February 2014 (UTC)
5. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Sparkveela (talkcontribs) 02:04, 20 February 2014 (UTC)
I agree with this. We have historical and scientific data for the Big Bang via the Cosmic Background Radiation. We have fossils and other evidence of a transition between species. We have evidence that life arose 3 billion years ago. We have physical evidence for the formation of the earth 4.5 billion years ago. We even have data showing not only the existence of Neanderthals, but also what they ate tens of thousands of years ago, yet we cannot find a single shred of physical evidence, especially nothing outside of hearsay the Fallacy from Authority and the Bible, to show the existence of the most popular man to even supposedly walk the earth? Which he did a mere 2000 years ago? Seems fishy to me. Lucyraccoon (talk) 08:11, 20 February 2014 (UTC)

Lyingforjebus, where do you shop for fedoras? I want one.Ordessa (talk) 03:49, 15 February 2014 (UTC)

I think we can close the thread now. He's gone well beyond personal decorum and professionalism. Ckruschke (talk) 04:03, 15 February 2014 (UTC)Ckruschke

I had a read of this article because some gullible christian sent me here and, just like BaSH PR0MPT, almost threw up when I read that incredibly vacuous statement. If the pope says that Jesus exists (as we could expect) it goes no way to prove his existence. Likewise, if the pope said that the tooth-fairy existed. We should not be obliged to believe that there is academic consensus that someone existed merely because so many of his (Jesus') supporters assert it.

If a dude called Jesus ever did exist AND he was the son of god (or god himself!) then evidence in contemporary writings should abound.

This article is an embarrassment to Wikipedia and is very clearly authored and defended by people who think they are going to burn in hellfire for eternity. If that threat hung above my head I might have acted the same. But my parents taught me not to be a gullible shill. Themoother (talk) 16:23, 1 March 2014 (UTC)

I agree this article is a joke. It's pathetic how Christians have taken it over. When the hear that people don't think pretend Jesus is real, they seem to get upset, as if you have just told a small child that Santa Claus is not real, and they are scared they won't get any presents in the afterlife. Then Christians like Ordessa start snivelling, ATHEISTS WEAR FEDORAS! Pretend Jesus IS real. I don't care if Carrier, Price and others say otherwise. They are fedora wearing ATHEISTS, their views can be discarded as fringe. Kind of like Galileo's idea that we aren't the center of the universe was discarded by Christians as fringe and even heresy. I wonder what they'd do to us, people who don't think pretend Jesus is real. That is, if they still had the power. Alas, they seem to have the power on Wikipedia, as this small gang of Christian bullies has shown. If anyone is "Fringe" when it comes to historicity, it's THEOLOGIANS who will go to hell if they find anything other than pretend Jesus is a real person. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Rogerbreal (talkcontribs) 01:37, 9 March 2014 (UTC)

Alexander Jacob== Proposed Edit on Majority versus Minority of Scholars ==

Skipping that partisan nonsense upstream in the Talk page, I propose an edit. The lines specifying a vast scholarly consensus for the existence of Christ should be revised on two grounds. One, the sources cited appear at first glance to consist entirely of scholars who accept the historicity of Christ. Scholars who dispute the existence of Christ but who agree they are a tiny minority are citations I would accept to preserve the claim. Second, whether a consensus vastly outnumbers the opposition is a subject that doesn't seem to be necessary for this article. It might even come across as needlessly partisan. I think it is enough to simply present the topic of the HJ without creating opportunities in the text for visitors to get side-tracked. If, for example, the opening paragraph would be revised to eliminate the line "Biblical scholars and classical historians regard theories of his non-existence as effectively refuted..." which to me is doubtful, but even if true, is not particularly helpful in teaching people about the subject.Woerkilt (talk) 02:19, 7 March 2014 (UTC)

Here's an example revision of an offending paragraph that I propose. Take the following:
Most modern scholars of antiquity agree that Jesus existed,[1][2][3] but scholars differ on the historicity of specific episodes described in the Biblical accounts of Jesus,[4] and the only two events subject to "almost universal assent" are that Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist and was crucified by the order of the Roman Prefect Pontius Pilate.[5][6][7] Biblical scholars and classical historians regard theories of his non-existence as effectively refuted,[8][9][10] although there is a significant debate about his nature, his actions and his sayings. Most scholars agree that Jesus was a Galilean Jew who was born between 7 and 4 BC, in the closing stages of the reign of King Herod and died 30–36 AD,[11][12][13] that he lived in Galilee and Judea, did not preach or study elsewhere,[14][15][16] and that he spoke Aramaic and perhaps also Hebrew and Greek.[17][18][19]
and change to:
Most modern scholars of antiquity differ on the historicity of specific episodes described in the Biblical accounts of Jesus,[4] and the only two events subject to consensus are that Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist and was crucified by the order of the Roman Prefect Pontius Pilate.[5][6][7] Biblical scholars and classical historians debate his nature, his actions and his sayings. Most scholars agree that Jesus was a Galilean Jew who was born between 7 and 4 BC, in the closing stages of the reign of King Herod and died 30–36 AD,[11][12][13] that he lived in Galilee and Judea, did not preach or study elsewhere,[14][15][16] and that he spoke Aramaic and perhaps also Hebrew and Greek.[17][18][19]
Obviously revising the sources as necessary. So far, this example is only a guideline to what I am talking about, and is not necessarily presented as a literal revision to the article.Woerkilt (talk) 02:50, 7 March 2014 (UTC)
Firstly, the sources for the scholarly consensus on Jesus' existence included, until at least October 2013, Robert M. Price who is (or was, when he wrote the source) less than convinced of Jesus' existence himself. See this version for the Price source. Secondly, given the near-unanimous consensus that Jesus existed, it can be expected to be hard to find many reliable sources who don't agree and still comment. Let me guess: All sources cited for the scholarly consensus that the Earth is round are people who accept the Earth's roundness. Should I demand a reliable flat-Earther source? Whether or not these people personally agree with the existence of Jesus, I have yet to see a reliable source that disagrees with their assertion on the consensus. I also strongly disagree with the assertion that the strength - again, near-unanimity - of the consensus is irrelevant. Multiple sources have explicitly and in no uncertain terms commented on the strength of that consensus. We also give the dwindling amounts of agreement on specific facts about the historical Jesus - you had no issues with highlighting the amount of disagreement, so why not treat the amount of agreement similarly? Huon (talk) 20:33, 7 March 2014 (UTC)
When I read this, I wasn't sure if you were joking or not, but unfortunately, I don't think you were. On one hand you're saying that Price, who argues that the Biblical Jesus is a myth can be used to give evidence for "near-unanimous consensus" of the existence of the Biblical Jesus. Then in the very next sentence, you say that it would be hard to find a reliable source who argues that the Biblical Jesus is a mythical figure. You can't have it both ways, Won. Which one is it? Is Price a reliable source or not? — Preceding unsigned comment added by Rogerbreal (talkcontribs) 01:49, 8 March 2014 (UTC)
Price is a reliable source, however Jesus Myth Theory is WP:Frince. So while Price himself is not excluded in all things, the Myth theory is only to have minimal coverage since it has little or no actual recognition among WP:RS. ReformedArsenal (talk) 02:07, 8 March 2014 (UTC)
Exactly. He's a reliable source until he says something that Christians disagree with. And who says that the idea that magic Jesus is entirely myth is WP:FRINCE as you put it? You? And the other small group of Christians who make a mockery of this page and Wikipedia? — Preceding unsigned comment added by Rogerbreal (talkcontribs) 01:30, 9 March 2014 (UTC)
Are you actually aware of what WP:Fringe is? If you can find a sizable representation of the Christ Myth theory, then come back. Until then, it is by definition what Wikipedia considers fringe. ReformedArsenal (talk) 18:43, 9 March 2014 (UTC)
You keep telling yourself that, bud. We have a "sizable" as you put it representation. Price, Carrier, Christopher Hitchens Tom Harpur, Thomas Brodie, Earl Doherty, René Salm, Thomas L. Thompson, Alexander Jacob Richard Dawkins to name a few. Unfortunately, as confirmed atheists, the Christian community of Wikipedia has deemed these scholars to be fringe, and instead have substituted seminary or "Christian university" educated priests and pastors who have no authority on history. Quite pathetic, and quite sad, really. That's why Wikipedia will always be just a wiki and not an encyclopedia. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Rogerbreal (talkcontribs) 04:30, 10 March 2014 (UTC)
Carrier, Hitchens, Brodie, Jacob, and Hawkins have ZERO training in Biblical studies. Hitchens, Brodie, Jacob, and Hawkins have no training in history at all. They are absolutely not WP:RS on this topic. Price is the closest thing you have to an actual WP:RS on the subject as he has training in both Biblical Studies and history, and even he says that this is a fringe theory. ReformedArsenal (talk) 13:31, 10 March 2014 (UTC)
And with hardly any exceptions (Akenson, Grant) HJ researchers have ZERO training in history. The article should simply describe the views of the various camps and say a little about the background of the people in those camps, the size of those camps, various criticisms back and forth etc, without taking sides. Martijn Meijering (talk) 14:03, 10 March 2014 (UTC)
Um... Akenson has a PhD from Harvard in History, is currently a professor of History at Queens University... and has a CV with 17+ pages of published peer reviewed articles in the subject of history. Grant was a Classicist (which directly involves historical studies as part of the training) and also has an extensive list of published works in the area of History. You don't have a clue what you're talking about. ReformedArsenal (talk) 14:21, 10 March 2014 (UTC)
Rudeness objection. I'm well aware that they are historians, which is precisely why I added these two as the only exceptions I knew about. The rest are not historians AFAIK. Martijn Meijering (talk) 14:43, 10 March 2014 (UTC)

ReformedArse, what in the world do biblical studies have to do with the history of Jesus? And what makes you think Carrier, Hitchens, Brodie, Jacob, and Hawkins have ZERO training in Biblical studies? Particularly Carrier, has a PhD in ancient history. That's right when pretend Jesus was around. So, I'd imagine his work is relevant. At least more relevant than some theologian with ZERO training in HISTORY. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Rogerbreal (talkcontribs) 04:50, 12 March 2014 (UTC)

Comment from above - "We have a "sizable" as you put it representation. Price, Carrier, Christopher Hitchens Tom Harpur, Thomas Brodie, Earl Doherty, René Salm, Thomas L. Thompson, Alexander Jacob Richard Dawkins to name a few." Price says Jesus may have existed [1], Thomas L Thompson specifically denies believing or stating that there was never such a person as Jesus - "This does not mean that I say that Jesus never existed" [2], Dawkins says that Jesus probably existed [3],so those names do not belong on a list of scholars or authorities who say "Jesus never lived". Earl Doherty is just a blogger and self published author of no significance. Although Biblical studies professors and theologians will often be dismissed as necessarily biased by pro-mythicists, Price,Brodie, Thomson and Harpur are all theologians, Biblical scholars or professors of New Testament studies, there are not any historians on that list. Carrier has a PhD in ancient history but does not really work as a historian, he is a blogger and author pushing the "Jesus never lived" idea. An article on history should focus mostly on historians, you will find very very few who doubt the bare fact of Jesus' existence, actually zero as far as I know although I have asked many times for the names of historians who dispute eminent classical historian Michael Grant's assessment that there is "very abundant evidence" for Jesus' existence.Smeat75 (talk) 12:40, 16 March 2014 (UTC)
I think Price should be counted firmly in the mythicist camp. It is true that the doesn't completely rule the existence of a historical Jesus, but he believes the evidence does favour nonexistence and that it is arbitrary to believe in a historical Jesus. I agree we should give more weight to the beliefs of historians if this article needs to exist at all, but unfortunately very few historians (Akenson, Grant, Carrier) have studied the matter. I don't think there's a professional consensus opinion among historians that is based on actual research. Individual historians will no doubt have personal opinions, but that doesn't count. I think the idea of historians or "scholars of antiquity" supporting historicity is a piece of propaganda being pushed by HJ researchers. For whatever reason historians are not particularly interested in this question. If this article is to exist at all, it should not give the impression that historians have studied the matter and concluded in favour of historicity. For me, this is another reason not to have the present article at all. It merely takes sides while pretending to be the objective judgement of historians. Better to have to separate pages on the HJ and CMT, clearly indicating both are just points of view, not known facts or scientific consensus, with one point of view having some academic support, though mostly among theologians and biblical scholars, while the other has hardly any academic support at all, with a few prominent exceptions. Martijn Meijering (talk) 13:34, 16 March 2014 (UTC)
Richard Carrier trained as a historian, but he doesn't really work as a historian, he doesn't hold an academic position as a historian or really publish on history, he is more of a polemicist and online blogger than a historian. I find your statement
"unfortunately very few historians .... have studied the matter" rather odd Martijn, you don't think historians study Jesus? I would have thought quite a few historians study Jesus, isn't he quite an important historical figure? You and I are aware of the "did Jesus exist" debate, don't you think professional historians are too? If they do not address that question, what reason can there be, except that they do not think it is worth addressing because the fact that Jesus existed is established and they have let the matter rest with Michael Grant's 1977 authoritative conclusions on the subject?Smeat75 (talk) 03:35, 17 March 2014 (UTC)
That's speculation and not for us to decide. A single book written for a popular audience is not enough to establish an authoritative conclusion. It's possible that there are scholarly articles on the subject by historians, indeed it's hard to imagine there aren't any at all, but they do appear to be extremely rare. Even the historians I mentioned have as far as I'm aware only published popular books on the subject, not scholarly publications. And I haven't seen anyone offer a citation from a scholarly historical publication on this subject in all the debates we've been having here and on related pages. Martijn Meijering (talk) 09:47, 17 March 2014 (UTC)
Yes, that is quite like what McGrath says: "The figure of Jesus has probably been subjected to more skeptical analysis than any other figure in history. Even after such scrutiny, most historians agree on the authenticity of at least some pieces of evidence for him having said and done particular things and having died in a particular way. To suggest that all of the sifting through evidence that has taken place reflects an avoidance of the question of Jesus’ historicity is baffling. There is no evidence for the existence of any human being from the past apart from the evidence that she or he said, built, conquered, or otherwise did this or that." (Review of Biblical Literature 08/2013 Review of 'Is This Not the Carpenter?': The Question of the Historicity of the Figure of Jesus, Thompson & Verenna (eds.). A speculation from me: It seems that a lot of people think that because someone is in religious studies, that therefore that person cannot possibly be an historian. What seems to underlie this is the belief that only people in history departments do history. This is of course, quite wrong. E.g., the majority of history of classical Rome is done in classics departments, not history departments; the majority of history of opera is done in music departments, not history departments; etc. Similarly, the majority of history of early Christianity is done in religious studies departments. It should be obvious that the work of bona fide historians in such departments should not be squelched. --Atethnekos (DiscussionContributions) 04:37, 17 March 2014 (UTC)
Evidence please. So far, I've only seen bald assertion of this alleged fact by theologians, apologists and biblical scholars, with zero evidence to back it up. All we have so far is two books written for a popular audience and precisely zero scholarly publications by bona fide historians to back this up. It's not credible that there's a scholarly consensus among historians without such publications, which makes this look suspiciously like a piece of propaganda. Martijn Meijering (talk) 09:46, 17 March 2014 (UTC)
Wouldn't that be an issue to take up with these authors? You're saying that McGrath's (and, I presume, Ehrman's etc.) statement is not credible because you've surveyed the literature and determined that McGrath cannot rightly make that judgement. Yeah, maybe that's right. But until some significant number of reliable sources come around and disagrees with the significant number of reliable sources that say this, then we are left with their majority point of view that most historians agree that some minimalist figure of Jesus existed. Anyway, if you are looking for the scholarly literature, maybe start with the four-volume overview of the field by Brill Publishers: Holmén and Porter (eds.), Handbook for the Study of the Historical Jesus (Brill, 2011). --Atethnekos (DiscussionContributions) 21:30, 17 March 2014 (UTC)
Comment from above " It seems that a lot of people think that because someone is in religious studies, that therefore that person cannot possibly be an historian" - indeed,that is what WP editors on these pages say all the time. Looking at the table of contents of Handbook for the Study of the Historical Jesus I see familiar names of van Voorst (a pastor!, obviously biased, that's what they'll say if you try to use him as a source on one of these pages),James Dunn (a Church of Scotland minister!), so on and so on, as you can see above, even Biblical scholars are not considered bona fide historians. I had one editor on another page (not Mmeijeri) insist I tell him whether Michael Grant was a Christian or not. How do I know? They won't accept that someone can impartially examine historical evidence, but seem to believe that everyone is driven by blind prejudice at all times.Smeat75 (talk) 22:41, 17 March 2014 (UTC)
I've said repeatedly, and on several pages, that I don't think biblical scholars are automatically disqualified as historians, just that they do not automatically qualify as historians. For a consensus about the opinion of historians I'd like to see an explicit statement by a historian. The closest we've come to that is a newspaper interview with a historian who makes a much weaker statement, namely that he doesn't know any historian who thinks Jesus was not a historical figure. For the record, I think that most historians, like most people in society in general, believe there was a historical Jesus. I'm not saying they're wrong either, and I'm undecided myself. All I want to do is to avoid the impression that many historians have studied the matter and have concluded in favour of historicity, as per Ehrman's statement. Because in actual fact, very few of them have studied the matter. I think we should be able to find a form of words that accurately reflects this situation. Martijn Meijering (talk) 23:38, 17 March 2014 (UTC)

Comment from above: "Carrier has a PhD in ancient history but does not really work as a historian, he is a blogger and author pushing the "Jesus never lived" idea."... I'm sorry how does that make him not a historian? And yet your guys who's only qualification is a degree in Theology (qualified to comment on virgin births and other magic, that's about it) are considered historians?

You have invented a Christ

The quoted phrase does not say that Christians have invented Jesus, it says that they have invented a Messiah. Not the same thing. Does Van Voorst actually say that it amounts to a denial of the historicity of Jesus? Tgeorgescu (talk) 22:59, 19 March 2014 (UTC)

I found it at [4]. Indeed Van Voorst says it is a possible (i.e. not certainly found to be so) argument for the nonexistence of Jesus, but the dialogue does not develop the idea. Even in Van Voorst, it is a footnote, so its relevance is minimal to the question of the real existence of Jesus. Tgeorgescu (talk) 15:59, 20 March 2014 (UTC)
Price also says it's only a possibility, though obviously one he finds intriguing. Martijn Meijering (talk) 16:02, 20 March 2014 (UTC)

Actual content rather than repeating the same sentences over again in different ways

Is it possible to get at least the main pieces of evidence for the historicity of Jesus into this page? The Historicity of Mohammed article would be a good example to follow. As the article currently stands, there is no wonder it is so controversial - it's currently could be replaced with a single sentence containing the same amount of content. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 04:53, 11 March 2014 (UTC)

If you mean evidence for existence of Jesus, that is on the page - " Bart D. Ehrman states that the existence of Jesus and his crucifixion by the Romans is attested to by a wide range of sources, including Josephus and Tacitus." The execution of Jesus by the Roman authorities is attested to by the gospels, Josephus and Tacitus, therefore it is an historical fact. People who have never studied any figure from ancient history other than Jesus may not realise how precious and rare it is to have multiple attestation like this of an event from antiquity. Disputing that Jesus was executed on the orders of Pontius Pilate, a fact attested by Christian, Jewish, and Roman sources, really is on the level of "space aliens built the pyramids".Smeat75 (talk) 04:04, 17 March 2014 (UTC)

Tacitus is simply recounting the Christian origin story, its no more historically accurate than Herodotus claiming that Croesus of Lydia was rescued by magical dolphins. The Josephus passage has been subject to interpolation, earlier manuscripts make no mention of Christ. The bible as a historical source on the life of Jesus is not reliable, because unlike Herodotus' account of the Persian Wars, for instance, there is not ONE single external reference to Jesus anywhere. All the Josephus and Tacitus passage do is establish the presence of Christians, not Christ. There is not one official Roman document, Pharisee document, contemporary statue or dedicatory plaque etc. There is exactly the same amount of historical evidence for Jesus as there is for Herodotus' gold mining ants. (talk) 06:37, 17 March 2014 (UTC)

Tacitus is simply recounting the Christian origin story - that is just your opinion, the speculation of 'mythicists' and it is not the opinion of people who study ancient history,who will know that ancient historians did not provide sources for their information. Please give me the names of historians who respond to that passage in Tacitus with "I don't believe there was ever any such person as the "Christos" he says was executed under the orders of Pontius Pilate in the province of Judea during the reign of Tiberius." Historians do not necessarily believe every single word in Tacitus is the absolute truth, but if you are not going to believe that the people he says did such and such a thing even existed, you have just thrown the whole of ancient history out the window as the surviving history books from antiquity are extremely few and all we have to go on for many crucial events from antiquity. It is not the same as Herodotus' collection of myths and stories from various peoples, Herodotus says several times in his book "the so and so people say this and that, but I don't believe them", he makes it clear he is recording myths and legends because they are interesting, not because he expects them to be believed. Anyway on WP it is not our opinion that matters, once again, please give me the names of historians who say Tacitus "Annals" is no more historically accurate than Herodotus' collection of myths.The Josephus passage has been subject to interpolation, earlier manuscripts make no mention of Christ - that's an outdated idea, historians don't think that anymore, give me the names of the contemporary historians who reject both Josephus passages that mention Christ as worthless.there is not ONE single external reference to Jesus anywhere yes there is, Bart Ehrman gives them, Josephus and Tacitus. All the Josephus and Tacitus passage do is establish the presence of Christians, not Christ - wrong. Please list the contemporary historians who say that. There is not one official Roman document no indeed there is not, not only not about Jesus but not about one single person, any event whatsoever, absolutely nothing, from Judea at that time, every single Roman document is lost, official Roman documents don't even survive from Rome at that time, never mind from Jerusalem. Pharisee document - please tell me about the Pharisee documents that survive from Jesus' time, this is something I do not know as much about as I do Roman documents, can you give me links to where I can read and perhaps see pictures of the Pharisee documents from Jesus' time? " not one ... contemporary statue or dedicatory plaque" this sort of comment is where we see clearly that people interested in the Christ myth theory do not study any other ancient history, the idea that there would be statues or dedicatory plaques put up in a province of the Roman empire to a criminal who had been executed as a trouble maker by the Roman authorities, is simply ludicrous.Smeat75 (talk) 13:23, 17 March 2014 (UTC)
I don't have any issues with the existence of jesus as a person (I think). My problem is simply that the article blathers on at length and doesn't really say anything. To turn this into a useful article, sentences such as "Robert E. Van Voorst states that the idea of the non-historicity of the existence of Jesus has always been controversial, and has consistently failed to convince virtually all scholars of many disciplines." could be removed - it doesn't add any extra information. Instead, more weight should be given to talk on the actual reasoning of the names. It currently feels like a constant appeal to authority. I'll see if I can work out a better set of contents for the existence section. (talk) 01:58, 26 March 2014 (UTC)
"Appeals to authority" are what WP is based on, reliable scholarly sources. Those names are of generally recognised authorities, yes, on the subject. Is this the same user as 123 above?Smeat75 (talk) 03:08, 26 March 2014 (UTC)

Note I've removed the links and references to make it easier to see what I am getting at. They should be readded later. A lot of the things could be added into a section called "Scholarly views", which would also include most of the content of the accepted historical facts section.


The question of the existence of Jesus as a historical figure is distinct from the study of the historical Jesus, which goes beyond the analysis of his historicity and attempts to reconstruct portraits of his life and teachings, based on methods such as biblical criticism of gospel texts and the history of first century Judea. Nor does it concern supernatural or miraculous claims about Jesus, which historians tend to look on as questions of faith, rather than historical fact.

Virtually all modern scholars of antiquity agree that Jesus existed, and most biblical scholars and classical historians see the theories of his non-existence as effectively refuted. There is, however, widespread disagreement among scholars on the details of the life of Jesus mentioned in the gospel narratives, and on the meaning of his teachings. Geoffrey Blainey writes that Jesus' life was "astonishingly documented" by the standards of the time – more so than any of his contemporaries – with numerous books, stories and memoirs written about him. The problem for the historian, wrote Blainey, is not therefore, determining whether Jesus actually existed, but rather in considering the "sheer multitude of detail and its inconsistencies and contradictions".

Although the sources for the historicity of Jesus are mainly Christian sources, there are also mentions in a few non-Christian Jewish and Greco-Roman sources, which have been used in historical analyses of the existence of Jesus.

Roman sources include the works of 1st-century Roman historians Josephus and Tacitus. There is some dispute over whether the mention by Josephus is a Christian forgery of the text. The general scholarly view is that while the Testimonium Flavianum is most likely not authentic in its entirety, it is broadly agreed upon that it originally consisted of an authentic nucleus, which was then subject to Christian interpolation or forgery. The two previous sentances need a citation. Josephus scholar Louis H. Feldman has stated that "few have doubted the genuineness" of Josephus' reference to Jesus in Antiquities 20, 9, 1 and it is only disputed by a small number of scholars.

The Mishnah (circa 200) may refer to Jesus and reflect the early Jewish traditions of portraying Jesus as a sorcerer or magician. Other possible references to Jesus and his execution may exist in the Talmud. The Talmud mentions support the existence of Jesus as they aim to discredit his actions, not deny his existence. (talk) 02:18, 26 March 2014 (UTC)

I don't really understand what this is meant to be, could you explain?Smeat75 (talk) 03:08, 26 March 2014 (UTC)
It's meant to be an example of a simplified and actually useful Existence section of the historicity of Jesus article. I don't know enough to fill out the Roman paragraph, the Jewish paragraph etc. It's only an example, but I hope it demonstrates that a lot of the existing text is redundant. I am not the same as 123, and I don't think I agree with what they are saying. Trying once again: What I'd like to do is to modify the existence section to talk about evidence for the existence of Jesus. I think that a new section should be made to put the most of the quotes and thoughts of individual scholars in. The current evidence section is very hard to parse. (talk) 06:06, 26 March 2014 (UTC)
Further to this, I don't have an issue with appeals to authority in Wikipedia, as long as the reasoning they use to come to their conclusions is stated. (talk) 06:10, 26 March 2014 (UTC)
An "appeal to authority" is a form of fallacy. For example, "Aristotle says that the retina must be colourless. Therefore, the retina is colourless." Wikipedia follows WP:V, WP:OR and WP:NPOV, which are neutral as to the occurrence of any fallacies in articles. Appeals to authority are therefore neither condoned nor prohibited. I don't think an appeal to authority would ever pass WP:NPOV, however. But that's not because it is a fallacy, but just because reliable sources generally would not affirm such a fallacy. So even if one reliable source did affirm an appeal to authority, there would likely be many others which would contradict it; so then at best the appeal to authority could be ascribed, but not stated in the voice of the encyclopedia. --Atethnekos (DiscussionContributions) 06:21, 26 March 2014 (UTC)
In that case, I stand by my original statement. The Existence section (and in fact the whole article) is almost entirely an appeal to authority. It's possible that the sources have actual reasoning in them, but the article mainly follows the form "Scholars say that Jesus was a real person, therefore Jesus was a real person". If the sources have logical reasoning in them, then that is what should be quoted in the article - simply talking about the conclusions doesn't add any additional information beyond the "Virtually all modern scholars....." sentence. (talk) 22:31, 26 March 2014 (UTC)

Sources for the fringe nature of the CMT

To see the list of quotations and citations, click on the [show] link to the right.

Interesting list of quotations. I think the WP:cherrypicking is pretty obvious, though. For example, the second Wells quote:

It is customary today to dismiss with amused contempt the suggestion that Jesus never existed… Because a defective case was argued seventy years ago, most scholars today think it is certain that Jesus did exist.

User:Bill the Cat copied this list from his user page at CMT FAQ & Miscellaneous Quotes. While he can pretty much put whatever he wants there, this list seem inappropriate here, as this talk page is WP:notaforum for personal beliefs, apologetics, or polemics.

If there's something in this list that could actually be used to improve the article (e.g., some evidence regarding the historicity of jesus, or an analysis thereof), please point it out. All I see are a whole bunch of conclusory statements. Fearofreprisal (talk) 23:21, 14 April 2014 (UTC)

The way you cite policies makes me think of Wikipedia:Wikilawyering. Inside Wikipedia, sources prove something, the more reliable sources the better. And, another thought: the way you argue for presenting the evidence reminds me of how anti-evolution folks argue about Wikipedia articles about evolution. They ask to see proof, not scientific consensus. Tgeorgescu (talk) 00:17, 15 April 2014 (UTC)
Simply giving those wikilinks won't do. You have cited established Wikipedia policies and guidelines in order to fight against the scholarly consensus. That is in itself wikilawyering. I have no objection to present e.g. Ehrman's statements about what constitutes historical proof of the real existence of Jesus, however anything smacking of WP:OR or WP:SYNTH should be avoided. We are the scribes of mainstream scholars, we do not do original research here. We simply take for granted what they say and put it in the articles. When there is a scholarly consensus, that's the viewpoint of Wikipedia, if there is no consensus all notable views should be rendered. Notable fringe views should be clearly branded as fringe ideas. If you have a problem with that, you should not try to edit this article. By the way, I am not a Christian and I have no problem with challenging its theological views, but my utmost commitment is to verifiable information based upon mainstream scholarly sources. I am prepared to follow reliable sources even when they conflict with my theological views. Tgeorgescu (talk) 12:33, 15 April 2014 (UTC)
Certainly, giving those wikileaks will do. It's a very reasonable answer to your incivility. Please focus on the article. Fearofreprisal (talk) 21:42, 15 April 2014 (UTC)
I wonder if Fearofrepsrisal read those wikilinks or knows what they say. WP:BITE says "don't bite the newcomers". Fearofreprisal's first edit was made in June 2008. It is indeed absurd the way anyone who insists on these pages that the mainstream view is that Jesus certainly existed is thought to be a Christian, as far as I am concerned that is a fact of Roman history as attested by the greatest Roman historian Tacitus and endorsed by the greatest classical historians of the twentieth century Michael Grant and Robin Lane Fox.Smeat75 (talk) 13:13, 15 April 2014 (UTC)
WP:BITE also refers to attacking people who are newcomers to editing an article. Please drop the incivility, and focus on the article.
Regards Tacitus: Among other problems, he never actually mentioned Jesus. And not all scholars consider the relevant passage to be authentic (Given the dearth of early references to the passage in other Christian sources, and the late date of the extant Tacitus manuscripts.) But you know all that, since you follow the Tacitus on Jesus article. Bottom line, though, is that it is evidence, and is certainly worthwhile including detailed analysis of it in the article. Do you have specific citations to Grant's and Lane's analysis of the passage? Fearofreprisal (talk) 21:42, 15 April 2014 (UTC)
Regards Tacitus: Among other problems, he never actually mentioned Jesus- there aren't any historians as far as I know who regard the fact that Tacitus does not use the name "Jesus" in that passage as a "problem"And not all scholars consider the relevant passage to be authentic - very old-fashioned idea that it might be inauthentic, no historians think that any more as far as I know Given the dearth of early references to the passage in other Christian sources they would be unlikely to quote a source that called them evil and said everyone hated them for their abominations Do you have specific citations to Grant's and Lane's analysis of the passage? they do not analyse it, historians do not feel, as far as I know, that there is anything to analyse, they sometimes quote it as independent confirmation of the crucifixion.Smeat75 (talk) 21:58, 15 April 2014 (UTC)
Just today, I read a thoughtful analysis of Tacitus by Van Voorst, where he raised a number of problems -- including the use of Christus instead of Jesus, and the lack of explicit reference to crucifixion. So, let's not pretend that "historians do not feel...that there is anything to analyse." Fearofreprisal (talk) 23:53, 15 April 2014 (UTC)

Assume claim.

Re [5]. A sincere challenge to an uncited claim has always been considered sufficient grounds for removing a claim. I do not see where this claim is cited in the Historical Jesus article. I've removed the claim again following WP:BRD and WP:V.--Atethnekos (DiscussionContributions) 04:06, 15 April 2014 (UTC)

  • See the first paragraph in Historical Jesus: "These reconstructions accept that Jesus existed,[7][8][9][10]..."
  • I know that there is a difference between "assume" and "accept." Possibly it's more accurate to say "do not question."
  • These exact same citations are included in the Historicity of Jesus article as well, in the third paragraph. We can move them up, if you like.
  • Note that neither of the first two paragraphs of Historicity of Jesus include any citations at all.
  • You wrote in your first reversion "Mcgrath says the opposite," but provided no citation of who McGrath is, or where he/she says this. Care to clue me in?
  • If you'd like to make the case that the historicity of Jesus should be classified as an element in the study of the historical Jesus (rather than being distinct), I'm all ears. My sense is that most historical Jesus scholars never even reach the point of questioning his historical existence, but limit their concerns of historicity to the major events in his life. ("Seldom have recent scholars questioned or denied the historical existence of Jesus." Gary R. Habermas, Christian Research Journal / vol. 22, no. 3, 2000.) Fearofreprisal (talk) 08:15, 15 April 2014 (UTC)
I would also doubt that "do not question" would be more accurate than "accept". "McGrath" is the only McGrath cited above. McGrath also contradicts the view that there is no questioning; and a fortiori he's reviewing a book which is accurately sub-titled The Question of the Historicity of the Figure of Jesus. Ehrman also contradicts this view in Did Jesus Exist?: "Possibly many readers will wonder why a book is even necessary explaining that Jesus must have existed. To them I would say that every historical person, event, or phenomenon needs to be established. The historian can take nothing for granted." (p. 8, Harper ebook) If you want to include that Habermas claim, I would not object to that (maybe someone else would, I don't know). I don't think Habermas is a very good source for it, especially not when he is writing in an Evangelical apologetics magazine like that, but I wouldn't challenge the claim itself. --Atethnekos (DiscussionContributions) 09:47, 15 April 2014 (UTC)
McGrath isn't cited in the article, which is where it matters.
I never suggested that there was "no questioning." Historicity of Jesus is about questioning. But, when it comes to Historical Jesus, scholars must start with the presupposition that he did exist -- or their scholarly reconstructions of his life are nonsensical.
So, do you have a suggested edit for the article? Fearofreprisal (talk) 21:09, 15 April 2014 (UTC)
I'm not depending on McGrath for anything in the article. I can't rightly remove material and include McGrath in the article as a source for the now empty space in the article. So I do not see how including McGrath in the article matters. I don't see any source for your statement that they must start with that presupposition or their reconstructions are nonsensical. Ehrman's is again a counter-example: His reconstruction is sensible, but he doesn't presuppose that Jesus existed—he concludes that Jesus existed. A suggested edit from the status quo ante? No. From any state? Yes, my suggested edit is the negative one I performed: Remove any inadequately sourced claim that the study of the historical Jesus assumes that he existed simpliciter. --Atethnekos (DiscussionContributions) 21:29, 15 April 2014 (UTC)
To keep things simple, I'm going to copy the relevant text intact from the Historical Jesus article, including citations. Then, if you want to dispute the citations... knock yourself out. Fearofreprisal (talk) 00:04, 16 April 2014 (UTC)


"More scholars think he performed some healings (given that Rabbinic sources criticize him for that etc., among other reasons) than those who say he never did, but less agreement on than the debates with authorities, etc." Isn't this effectively saying the majority of scholars believe in miracles? Surely this isn't correct - at least not in this vague wording. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 09:17, 22 April 2014 (UTC)

Historicity versus opinions about historicity

The article lede is quite clear and understandable:

The historicity of Jesus concerns the analysis of historical evidence to determine whether Jesus existed as a historical figure, and whether any of the major milestones in his life as portrayed in the gospels can be confirmed as historical events.

Yet, instead of focusing on the analysis of historical evidence, this article focuses on opinions of about Jesus' historicity.

Do you get that distinction? The difference between analysis and conclusory statements?

Can someone can provide a justification for focusing on conclusions while skipping analysis? Fearofreprisal (talk) 09:10, 9 April 2014 (UTC)

See WP:VER and WP:NOR. Tgeorgescu (talk) 14:17, 9 April 2014 (UTC)
I'm not talking about WP:or or WP:syn. I'm talking about analyses of historical evidence from reliable sources, including majority and minority viewpoints. Probably using many of the same sources that are cited for their opinions now. (I'm assuming most of them actually have done some sort of analysis of historical evidence.) Fearofreprisal (talk) 21:04, 9 April 2014 (UTC)
Fearofreprisal put a lot of WP:or and personal opinion into the article and I removed it all. You need to get consensus for changes like that first, you cannot just insert your personal POV all over the place. I only noticed because I was trying to answer your question about analysis. There are only two things that are "universally agreed" - one, that Jesus was crucified, the article explains why there is agreement about this over and over, it is attested to by multiple sources including the gospels, Josephus and Tacitus, in terms of an event from antiquity that is confirmation coming out of our ears. I put in a passage explaining why there is agreement about the baptism - "why would they make that up?" basically.Smeat75 (talk) 00:38, 10 April 2014 (UTC)
Also, Fearofreprisal, you cannot just delete sourced content because you don't like it.Smeat75 (talk) 00:48, 10 April 2014 (UTC)
Smeat75: You are completely incorrect in your claim that I "need to get consensus for changes..." See WP:BOLD. Further, I didn't "just delete sourced content because [I] didn't like it." See WP:GOODFAITH.
Regards the WP:OR you said I put in the article, and which you removed: Please identify it with specificity, so it can be discussed here.
Regards the "universally agreed" episodes: The article merely states the opinions of the cited sources that there is agreement. It doesn't provide any of their analyses of historical evidence.
Your inclusion of the criterion of embarrassment paragraph, copied from Baptism_of_Jesus#Historicity could be a start to a section detailing the analysis of historical evidence regarding the baptism, but it has problems:
  • The text says "One of the arguments in favour." So, it has a WP:NPOV problem right from the start.
  • Looking at the way the text is written, It appears to be WP:SYN
  • The criterion of embarrassent is rarely used by itself (see Criterion of embarrassment), so its inclusion in a standalone fashion hints of WP:Cherrypicking.)
If you want to fix your addition, that'd be fine with me. But I don't think it should be left as it is.
The "Accepted Historic Facts" section is tragically mis-named... I'm open to other names for it, but this name is hardly accurate.
There is a lot of historical Jesus content that has no place in this article. For example:
The reconstruction of portraits of the historical Jesus along with his life story has been the subject of wide ranging debate among scholars, with no scholarly consensus.[21] In a review of the state of research Amy-Jill Levine stated that "no single picture of Jesus has convinced all, or even most scholars" and that all portraits of Jesus are subject to criticism by some group of scholars.[21]
I'm going to remove this, as it is inapposite in this article.
I'm going to revert your reversion of the christ myth theory mention in the lede. This article is about the historicity of Jesus -- not about the christ myth theory. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Fearofreprisal (talkcontribs) 19:42, 10 April 2014 (UTC)
"The article merely states the opinions of the cited sources that there is agreement. It doesn't provide any of their analyses of historical evidence." - that's what you said already, and I already told you that it is quite simple, the Gospels, Tacitus and Josephus all agree that the crucifixion happened. That's the analysis. The article says that over and over and it seems that I have to repeat it over and over on the talk page. With the baptism, it is "why would they make that up?" which I also already said, and there are a lot of sources where you can see that. The rest of it is educated guess work. I put in that paragraph from Baptism of Jesus - is that against some rule I don't know about? - to try to answer your question about analysis of the other "universally accepted" event but it really doesn't need a lot of fancy concepts to explain it, it is accepted as historic because there is no reason for the early Christians to make that up.Smeat75 (talk) 23:12, 10 April 2014 (UTC)
Feel free to repeat your analysis over and over here on the talk page... but you're not a reliable source, so inclusion of your analysis on the article page is WP:OR or WP:SYN. The article needs to include the analysis (and not just the conclusions) of reliable sources, including both majority and minority viewpoints.
FWIW, a person who is a reliable source on biblical history may be WP:BIASED when it comes to claming that their particular viewpoint is "universally accepted."
So far as I know, there is no problem with using text from other WP articles. But, if you pull the text out of context, it may be WP:POV, WP:SYN, and/or WP:Cherrypicking (as I mentioned before.) Fearofreprisal (talk) 04:54, 11 April 2014 (UTC)
I actually don't know what you are talking about any more. You keep saying you want "analysis". I keep telling you what the "analysis" is of the two "universally accepted" events, the crucifixion and the baptism, and put that analysis in the article with sources. Crucifixion- attested by the Gospels, Josephus and Tacitus. Baptism- they would not have made that up as it implies Jesus was lesser than John and needed to have his sins forgiven. That's all there is to it, that is the analysis, and it isn't my analysis, but that of everybody who is an authority on the subject as the sources say. Then you just repeat that you want analysis. I don't understand you, sorry.Smeat75 (talk) 12:51, 11 April 2014 (UTC)
Also since it is a frequent objection that the sources used are theologians, or professors of Biblical studies, or Christians, as if that disqualifies them as being trustworthy somehow, I have put in quotes from the two eminent classical historians, Robin Lane Fox and Michael Grant, secular historians. If by "minority view" Fearofreprisal means "mythicists" that is referred to in a brief section on the Christ myth theory, I updated the definition to the one recently achieved by long and painful process of consensus at that article. WP:FRINGE states "To maintain a neutral point of view, an idea that is not broadly supported by scholarship in its field must not be given undue weight in an article about a mainstream idea. More extensive treatment should be reserved for an article about the idea" and "mythicism" is fully discussed there, anything more in this article would be WP:UNDUE "If a viewpoint is held by an extremely small (or vastly limited) minority, it does not belong in Wikipedia regardless of whether it is true or not and regardless of whether you can prove it or not, except perhaps in some ancillary article." "There was never such a person as Jesus" is not a minority view, it is an extreme fringe idea, see [6] blog of Emeritus Professor at Edinburgh University Larry Hurtado "I was emailed last week by someone asking why scholars don’t engage the “mythicists”...I’m not alone in feeling that to show the ill-informed and illogical nature of the current wave of “mythicist” proponents is a bit like having to demonstrate that the earth isn’t flat, or that the sun doesn’t revolve around the earth, or that the moon-landings weren’t done on a movie lot."Smeat75 (talk) 18:55, 11 April 2014 (UTC)
I make no objection to the use of Christians et. al. as sources. I just believe it's important to be transparent, as it's hard to dismiss the likelihood of WP:BIAS with sources whose belief system is built on the premise that Jesus was a historical figure. As Upton Sinclair said, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.” Fearofreprisal (talk) 19:48, 11 April 2014 (UTC)

I agree that surely it is not rational to use sources to confirm a fact that, were the fact not true, would render the sources useless. Clearly there is an issue of bias here, I'm not sure how anyone could disagree. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 09:51, 22 April 2014 (UTC)

The Inquisition would have burnt as heretics today's Christian scholars who do historical criticism. You would be amazed about what theology books preach nowadays, many of today's fundamentalist Christians would readily burn them as blasphemy. You could learn this by reading just a few liberal theology books. Tgeorgescu (talk) 23:49, 14 April 2014 (UTC)

"Baptism- they would not have made that up as it implies Jesus was lesser than John and needed to have his sins forgiven". How on earth is that what it implies? Do you infer that Jesus was lesser than John because of that story? Could it not equally be said that the story shows how humble Jesus is? The idea that this is credible evidence is ludicrous. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 08:55, 22 April 2014 (UTC)

Criterion of embarrassment

"One of the arguments in favour of the historicity of the baptism of Jesus by John is that it is a story which the early Christian Church would have never wanted to invent, typically referred to as the criterion of embarrassment in historical analysis.[58][59][60] Based on this criterion, given that John baptised for the remission of sins, and Jesus was viewed as without sin, the invention of this story would have served no purpose, and would have been an embarrassment given that it positioned John above Jesus."

"John P. Meier views the crucifixion of Jesus as historical fact and states that based on the criterion of embarrassment Christians would not have invented the painful death of their leader" Why not? It shows how heroic Jesus is and how he sacrificed himself in a painful way for mankind. I can't see how that would be 'embarrassing' to anyone.

This seems to be an extremely flawed argument, logically speaking. It is so subjective as to be fairly useless and unreliable isn't it? What one man sees as embarrassing another sees as humble. what one man sees as strong another sees as aggressive (therefore embarrassing to the church) The criterion of embarrassment really seems to solve nothing and using it in the historicity of Jesus argument lends no credence to the article. Can it please be removed? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 10:03, 22 April 2014 (UTC)

We as WP editors do not decide that the arguments used by leading authorities are flawed, or that they are correct either, we just quote what they say.Smeat75 (talk) 18:23, 22 April 2014 (UTC)
Quote their conclusions, or their arguments? Fearofreprisal (talk) 20:46, 22 April 2014 (UTC)
Is Mark Goodacre, New Testament scholar and Professor at Duke University's Department of Religion, a leading authority? If so, perhaps we could have a bit of balance and show opinions from contradicting leading authorities? - Point number 2 is particularly relevant. Perhaps just have a sentence, after referencing the Criterion of embarrassment as evidence for the baptism and crucifixion of Jesus, saying that the logic has been disputed, citing Mark Goodacre (assuming you consider him a leading authority). — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:37, 22 April 2014 (UTC)

Jesus existed as a hallucinogenic mushroom

There should be a serious topic added to this page about Dead Sea scholar John M. Allegro’s theory that Jesus, as a human being, was a misinterpretation of early gnostic Christian cults. He proposed that Jesus was actually the hallucinogenic mushroom, Aminita muscaria. Many unexplainable facts about early Christianity flow naturally from this possibility; including the ingestion of flesh as a sacrament, visionary prophets, miracles, etc. This theory should also be considered in light of more recent discoveries that psilocybin containing mushrooms are ubiquitous worldwide and may be another candidate for Allegro’s proposal of a sacred mushroom, rather than A. muscaria.

Why would you add such topic considering that after the publication of the theory, 14 brittish scholars denounced it (including his own mentor at Oxford) and that he would never be taken seriously as a scholar again? There are tons of trippy theories about Jesus if you want to bring up every single one. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:03, 12 May 2014 (UTC)

Jesus Embarrassed by John being above him?

It is stated in this article that early Christians wouldn't want to belittle Jesus by having him put himself below others, which makes no sense, as their is an entire story about Jesus washing his disciples feet. This is Classic Christian self Contradiction. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:02, 13 May 2014 (UTC)

There's a difference between a student (Jesus's relationship to John) and a servant (Jesus's role in the foot-washing). Also, read WP:NOTFORUM and WP:NOTSOAPBOX. Ian.thomson (talk) 23:12, 13 May 2014 (UTC)

Proposal: delete all religous-inspired sources

I think all sources of biblical scholars (Bible studies belong to religious studies - not to the historical branch of science) should be deleted. The article is far from Encyclopedic standards and should either be a) cleaned up and made unbiased b) according to scientific method (ie. a statement like "all scholars agree that Jesus existed" .. and then giving only Bible scholasts as sources is just ridiculous - mainly because it is widely accepted that there are no secular texts referring to a Jesus of Nazareth).

If we can't do this, I propose deleting the entire article to restart with a clean slate. The current article is just a mess. Maybe splitting the article into a Pro/Contra would help82.171.192.178 (talk) 15:08, 18 May 2014 (UTC)

It doesn't look like you even read the article to me. Michael Grant and Robin Lane Fox are not "Bible scholasts".Smeat75 (talk) 15:17, 18 May 2014 (UTC)
Actually, I did and I prefer you wouldn't make such strange assumptions. Even though reading the article is pretty cumbersome. This has to be the most painful to read article on wikipedia at this moment, and I would seriously consider a rewrite just to improve the readability of the article. Also, I did not state the article consists only of Bible scholars. So I'm not sure why you are mentioning 2 random classicists. (talk) 21:02, 19 May 2014 (UTC)
They are not "random", they are two of the most eminent classical historians of modern times and they both state unequivocally that Jesus existed. Find some un-random classicists who say something different and then they can be quoted in the article. I am getting deja vu here, this strongly reminds me of another, now blocked user, who no matter how many times you told her Michael Grant was not a pastor or a priest or a theologian, would simply repeat that all the sources for Jesus' existence were "bible scholars". If you accept Lane Fox and Grant are not "bible scholars" why do you keep saying,as twice below, that the sources for this article are "bible scholars"? Here is a question for you. Forget about "bible scholars", please give me the names of historians, classical historians, historians of ancient Rome, or just historians, who do not think that the passage in Tacitus is confirmation of Jesus' existence and crucifixion by Pilate. I have asked this question on these threads for years now and no one has ever given me a single name or source. Maybe one day I will be surprised. When I say "historian" I mean with academic credentials and published in reliable sources, not bloggers or self-published authors.Smeat75 (talk) 00:12, 20 May 2014 (UTC)
Also I mean historians from the last fifty years or so, not a hundred years or more ago. The question of Jesus' existence is simply not taken seriously any more by any scholar of competence.Smeat75 (talk) 00:19, 20 May 2014 (UTC)
I am getting a Deja Vu too. You remind me of a typical ignorant evangelist that i knew on a crusade in wikipedia and trying to push his religious views into science and history as fact. I have even seen some ignorants deny the clear link between Christianity and the absorption of Pagan rites. See, I can use an ad hominem too, but it is not very neat is it? So let's just try to keep it civil.
Some statements you made make me doubt how much you really know about History as a field of study - perhaps you should refrain from this wiki subject all together. 1) Tacitus as a source is for Jesus' existence is unreliable. This is a logically deducible fact. Tacitus was not even born when Jesus was crucified. He simply stated what Christians were saying at those times and thus it must be dismissed as hearsay. Now on the other hand, he is a good source when it comes to what Christians believed. Can you see the difference? 2) Saying that no modern historical scholar doubts the existence of a-person-whose-existence-is-not-proven is ridiculous. No unbiased, financially independent, modern historian would make such a statement (unless he wanted to sell some books to a religious crowd in the States). 3) Proof that something did not happen/exist is always more difficult than stating that something did exist, both in the courtroom and in science. Thus, unless we see some good primary sources about this guy's existence we should simply dismiss all theorycrafting evangelical (=/= in the personally religious sense) scholars. That is what I meant to say. The page is inflated with dubious source-references at this moment. That is why i felt that your comment ("but WAAIT THERE IS A CLASSICAL HISTORIAN IN THE LIST" - paraphrased^^) was pretty much out of the blue. How good these 2 classicist were (they are far from the 'best known') is a topic of discussion (espescially when it comes to their Bible histories), but beside the point.

summary: Please no ad hominems + with regard to the burden of proof certain sources on the page should be re-evaluated.-- (talk) 14:23, 23 May 2014 (UTC)

The above is all original research and would not be allowed in the article under WP policy. I did not ask for your opinion on these matters but for modern historians who question Jesus' existence and dismiss the Tacitus passage as worthless.Smeat75 (talk) 14:49, 23 May 2014 (UTC)
Read question 5 in the FAQ. Actually, read the entire FAQ. Bill the Cat 7 (talk) 17:07, 18 May 2014 (UTC)
I read it. But the FAQ is honestly scholastic gibberish at this point and as far as I know article-related FAQ's are not golden-standards to which editors must adhere. (talk) 21:02, 19 May 2014 (UTC)
POV forks are discouraged, maybe even forbidden on Wikipedia. Since the subject is mostly studied by biblical scholars, there's no way we can remove them and still have a serious article. Besides, all notable views have to be included and represented from a neutral point of view. Furthermore, biblical scholarship isn't even the same thing as theology, though it is true that most biblical scholars have or once had religious affiliations, which may bias their opinions. Because of this the article often mentions a person's religious/philosophical affiliations. Similarly, because the scholarly credentials of mythicists are sometimes challenged, credentials are often also mentioned. We should take care neither of these qualifications is used to promote or disparage, and only to enable the reader to make up their own mind. Martijn Meijering (talk) 17:13, 18 May 2014 (UTC)
You make an excellent point regarding credentials. On my history-faculty the researches regard Bible-studies as pseudo-science since their scientific method seems to regard the Bible as dogma. In a way, there is a certain theological core around which Bible scholarship is built (I have yet to see a Bible scholar who works according to science and says: "Jesus doesn't exist since there is no evidence of him existing").
In its current state the article simply says "Jesus exists, because Bible scholars say so. Period." This is wrong on so many levels. (talk) 21:02, 19 May 2014 (UTC)
If you can find a reliable source saying that historians doubt the historical qualifications of biblical scholars, then that can (and should) be mentioned. I'm not aware of any such source, but I'd love to hear about it if one existed. Nevertheless the views of biblical scholars would remain notable and would still have to be given due weight and be represented from a neutral point of view. It is a long-standing and fundamental Wikipedia policy that we judge views by whether they are notable and verifiable, not by whether we think they are true. Martijn Meijering (talk) 21:08, 19 May 2014 (UTC)
Come to think of it, I am actually aware of one such source, Akenson, but he does not claim to speak for the majority of historians. Martijn Meijering (talk) 21:10, 19 May 2014 (UTC)
I think trying to find a general 'opininio scholaris' is not always the best thing when it comes to subjects in which a reasonable group is a clear minority. I mean this without bias, but if let's say... 70% is Christian and 30% secular, absolute consensus about certain qualifications become hard if not impossible to attain. Rather, we should look at the quality of the source and the position they are trying to defend - and determine the value of the source from there. I will help you with finding more sources next week, sadly I have finals coming up and they are my priority right now :) (talk) 14:23, 23 May 2014 (UTC)
"I think trying to find a general 'opininio scholaris' is not always the best thing when it comes to subjects in which a reasonable group is a clear minority." ... Where have I heard that argument before? There's a reason we stick to mainstream academia.
Also, reverse your position here and the inherent bigotry of it will become apparent. Imagine if someone said we should remove all sources by atheists from the abiogenesis article since they have a(n ir)religious stake in the subject. Nevermind that there are Christians and atheists on either side of the fence on both subject (look up some of the folks for Panspermia if you doubt me regarding the atheists who doubt abiogenesis) and that it's completely ignorant to assume that only Christians (or some sort of secret Christians) affirm the plausibility of a Roman-Palestinian Jewish messiah-claimant with a dead-common name, related to people with more dead common names. Ian.thomson (talk) 14:55, 23 May 2014 (UTC)

Neutrality tag on this article

A tag which says "The neutrality of this article is disputed. Relevant discussion may be found on the talk page" has been sitting on this article since October 2013. According to Template:POV "This template should not be used as a badge of shame. Do not use this template to "warn" readers about the article" but that appears to me to be how it is being used here. I don't like these tags, they seem to more or less say "this article is crap". Template:POV also says "The editor who adds the tag should discuss concerns on the talk page, pointing to specific issues that are actionable within the content policies. In the absence of such a discussion, or where it remains unclear what the NPOV violation is, the tag may be removed by any editor." It shouldn't just sit there without any discussion of what action can be taken to remove it.Template:POV says : "An unbalanced or non-neutral article is one that does not fairly represent the balance of perspectives of high-quality, reliable secondary sources. A balanced article presents mainstream views as being mainstream, and minority views as being minority views. The personal views of Wikipedia editors or the public are irrelevant." There is absolutely no question that the mainstream view is that the bare existence of Jesus as someone who was crucified by the orders of Pontius Pilate, as stated in the Gospels, the Jewish historian Josephus and the Roman historian Tacitus, is a fact of history. The contrary position, there was never such a person, is an extreme minority view. The personal views of Wikipedia editors or the public are irrelevant. So what is the problem here, and how can we resolve it and take that tag off this article?Smeat75 (talk) 04:06, 5 April 2014 (UTC)

This is the original comment which was removed and archived, along with the entire discussion to Talk:Historicity_of_Jesus/Archive_32, by Lowercase sigmabot III on December 10, 2013 at 03:46:
Both in this article and in the Christ Myth Theory, multiple authors are quoted to give the opinion that virtually all scholars believe that the Jesus of the New Testament did in fact exist, at least as a man. The quotes normally give not reasons, just that everyone agrees that he did. However, in this article, George Blainey is semi-quoted with regard to the notion that a few people support the Christ Myth Theory. He is shown to have said that his life is "astonishingly documented" with with numerous books, stories and memoirs written about him. However, per the information in this very article, there are no secular books, stories or memoirs written about Jesus. Only secular sentences and paragraphs are listed here. So Blainey has to be referring only to Christian stories. He is using an "astonishing" amount of Christian documents, to show what he feels is the unquestioned historicity of someone the Christians believe to be a God whom they worship. When I noted that he could only be referring to Christian documents, it was reverted. Wickorama (talk) 02:45, 11 June 2014 (UTC)
Some searching through the page history suggests the tag was last inserted by user Wickorama on October 21 2013. He quite properly added a Talk section with this diff, but that has since disappeared. I have some concerns of my own, but let's deal with this issue first. I'll leave a message on Wickorama's talk page too. Martijn Meijering (talk) 10:03, 5 April 2014 (UTC)

The 'dispute' tag still tainting this article is disappointing in view of the lack of scientific content in all the counter-arguments posted here to date while the article is brimming with scientific facts. This has been going on for a year without a shred of real evidence posted to refute the facts in this article. It seems Wikipedia is keeping the tag to humor the emotional non-scholarly outbursts of lay readers, which is sad. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 06:24, 8 June 2014 (UTC)

There are certainly neutrality issues when it comes to the use of the Criterion of Embarrassment argument. It is a deeply flawed argument - particularly how it is used in this article. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:51, 22 April 2014 (UTC)

There are also cases where some of the things being presented in the article as evidence are proven interpolations or frauds, but are being backed up with citations from apologists. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:36, 5 May 2014 (UTC)

Which "proven interpolations or frauds" and which "apologists" do you mean IP 173, and IP 86, if this is a different person, WP editors are not supposed to decide that arguments used by scholars are flawed, or not, but just summarise what reliable sources say.Smeat75 (talk) 12:33, 8 June 2014 (UTC)
All in favor? (talk) 06:11, 10 June 2014 (UTC)
Nope. I think the article is still far too deferential to biblical scholars, and misrepresents the scale of scholarly support for their theories and discipline ("most scholars of antiquity" for instance). Martijn Meijering (talk) 09:53, 10 June 2014 (UTC)
Do you want the tag just to sit on the article like that forever Mmeijeri? The "most scholars of antiquity" is sourced to a quote from a 2011 book,"Forged", by Bart Ehrman "He certainly existed, as virtually every competent scholar of antiquity, Christian or non-Christian, agrees". Ehrman is the leading expert in the field today and not a Christian, the book the quote is from says more than half the New Testament is forged.Smeat75 (talk) 11:37, 10 June 2014 (UTC)
I say it should be removed. Bill the Cat 7 (talk) 12:03, 10 June 2014 (UTC)
No, I don't want it to sit there forever, which is why you see some recent comments from me up-thread. I want to see the underlying problem be resolved so the tag can be removed. Ehrman is certainly one of the leading experts in the field of Historical Jesus research, but that doesn't mean we should follow his lead in misrepresenting the level of scholarly support for his views and those of his colleagues. Saying "most scholars of antiquity" is highly misleading, because most of the scholars who have published on the matter are in fact biblical scholars, with only a handful of (ancient) historians (Grant, Akenson). I'm not aware of large numbers of scholars from any other disciplines that might fall into the category of "scholars of antiquity" that have weighed in on the matter.
The partiality I note is not about whether Jesus existed or not, and I'm not a CMT proponent. Rather, it is about the scholarly credibility of HJ research, which is not above doubt, neither inside the field, nor outside it. Akenson for instance, is scathing about the scholarly qualities and lack of impartiality of HJ research, though he allows for rare and commendable exceptions. We also have quotes from various other prominent HJ researchers that the field is really historically informed theology, not real history. Using the term "scholars of antiquity" has the effect of hiding the well-justified suspicion of bias. I think the article should say "biblical scholars", or maybe just "scholars", because the reader will readily assume it means those scholars who have written about the matter without implying there are lots of others besides biblical scholars. Or we could have an attributed quote from Ehrman instead. Martijn Meijering (talk) 13:56, 10 June 2014 (UTC)
I've left another quick message of Wickorama's Talk page to notify him of the discussion. Let's at least deal with his objection before we dismiss it. I didn't see enough details, but it sounds as if he unintentionally violated WP:SYNTH, and was annoyed his edit was reverted. Martijn Meijering (talk) 14:13, 10 June 2014 (UTC)
I agree that saying "most scholars" is misleading. It should be something to the effect of "virtually all" to the point of anyone who seriously disagrees is firmly in the realm of fringe. Anything short of that is simply WP:OR. Bill the Cat 7 (talk) 15:34, 10 June 2014 (UTC)
I'm not sure who you're agreeing with, since I'm not saying "most scholars" is misleading. If you said "virtually all biblical scholars", that would be fine. But your reply basically says "let's side with the biblical scholars and pretend they represent scholarship in general". In my view that exactly demonstrates the completely biased nature of this article. There is a debate between biblical scholars on the one hand (puffing themselves up as most "scholars of antiquity") and CMT proponents (mostly popular authors) on the other hand. The biblical scholarship side accuses the other of being insufficiently aware of the scholarly literature and generally lacking scholarly credentials, while the CMT proponents accuse the biblical scholars of being beholden to religious interests or biased by faith commitments. And even among those who believe in historicity there are plenty of sources that cast doubt on the impartiality and historiographical qualifications of biblical scholars. To present one side as the voice of scholarship (let alone "most scholars of antiquity") is blatantly biased. Martijn Meijering (talk) 15:52, 10 June 2014 (UTC)
We have discussed this many times now Martijn and it is not only biblical scholars who agree that Jesus existed but historians also, I have asked many times for historians who doubt it and no one ever gives me a name. The answer is usually "historians don't discuss it at all" (except for when they do, such as Michael Grant and Robin Lane Fox) but Egyptologists do not bother to refute "space aliens built the pyramids" either and "Jesus did not exist" is on that same level of extreme fringe theory. I would not have a problem with using Ehrman's exact words ("every competent scholar of antiquity") and attributing it to him.Smeat75 (talk) 16:26, 10 June 2014 (UTC)
There's a big difference between not discussing it at all and supporting it. I agree it's quite possible that historians take it as seriously as space aliens (i.e. not at all) and therefore don't publish about it. In fact, it wouldn't surprise me if that were the case, but without a quote to that effect we're guessing. BTW, is Fox the historian who was cited in a newspaper interview as not knowing any historian who disputed historicity? If so, he is the closest we have to a reliable source for historians, which still does not amount to "most scholars of antiquity". Besides, is there any doubt that Ehrman is trying to exaggerate support for historicity? Why choose the term scholars of antiquity if >99% of the people he has in mind are in fact biblical scholars? Why not use the more precise term? Surely it's not on account of the handful of other scholars who support historicity? Also note that among our sources Ehrman is the one who makes the most sweeping claim. An attributed quote is fine with me and to be impartial we should probably also add a note that virtually all biblical scholars dismiss the CMT with contempt. If we don't, it makes Ehrman's statement look like an isolated opinion, when in fact he represents a popular view among HJ scholars. I think this would be a major step in the right direction. In addition we should probably include neutral summaries of the various criticisms between the parties in the debate. If we add balancing material, properly attributed where necessary, we may not have to delete anything. Martijn Meijering (talk) 19:59, 10 June 2014 (UTC)
No that was not Robin Lane Fox, I have been looking for that, it is something Akhilleus found at some point, I will keep trying. Lane Fox is a very eminent classical historian who does not address the "existence" question explicitly but is quoted in the article as saying "Jesus was born in Galilee" which of course is not the standard Christian teaching at all.
By the way, NPR, which I would call a reliable source, calls Ehrman a historian - "Bart Ehrman, historian and professor of religious studies" [7]. I think it is very wrong to somehow think that because someone is a religious studies professor they cannot be a historian also. Not saying you say that Martijn.There was also a newspaper story about a radio presenter who made a comment in Australia that it was questionable that Jesus ever existed and two professors of Roman history wrote a letter and said no, it is not dubious at all.[8] - "two of Australia's best known Roman historians, Professors Alanna Nobbs and Edwin Judge. "In our judgment," they wrote, "the second part of your statement is quite far from reality." They explained, "While historical and theological debates remain about the actions and significance of this figure, his fame as a teacher, and his crucifixion under the Roman prefect Pontius Pilate, may be described as historically certain."Smeat75 (talk) 02:00, 11 June 2014 (UTC)
OK, those sound like very interesting sources, I'll have a look at them. Thanks! Martijn Meijering (talk) 10:21, 11 June 2014 (UTC)
I found what you were asking about and put it into the article, it is a quote from Graeme Clarke, professor of classical history at Australian National University - [9] - "Frankly, I know of no ancient historian or biblical historian who would have a twinge of doubt about the existence of a Jesus Christ - the documentary evidence is simply overwhelming." Smeat75 (talk) 15:27, 11 June 2014 (UTC)
Thank you, Smeat75. Even if we could know definitively that Clark's beliefs are true, and that all or virtually all ancient and biblical historians didn't have "a twinge of doubt about the existence of a Jesus Christ", that would only serve to make an Ad Populum argument toward the existence of a Jesus Christ. I think that a significant contributor to the on-going dispute is that certain information seems to be presented as if it is scientific knowledge without the proper backing. In order to say that a conclusion is scientific fact, in this case the conclusion that there existed a Jesus Christ, it would have to be demonstrated that that conclusion was the product of scientific methodology. If the title of the article was "Opinions of biblical and ancient scholars on the existence of Jesus Christ", then the requirements would be less stringent and concluding Clark's belief's to be scientific fact would only require a scientific process to ascertain the beliefs of biblical and ancient scholars. In the case of an article titled "Historicity of Jesus", which addresses the conclusion that Jesus Christ actually existed, it is not simply necessary to demonstrate that biblical and ancient scholars believed it to be so, but to explain how it was demonstrated that Jesus Christ existed such that it is scientific fact for everyone. That is, it must be demonstrated that the conclusion came from a scientific process, and it would be appropriate to reference sources that make such a claim.
I believe that the dispute could be resolved if it was clearly explained in the article which conclusions about the existence of Jesus Christ are scientific fact and which aren't intended to be. The claim that "there existed a Jesus Christ" would need to be supported by scientific evidence to be purported as scientific fact: As such, the burden of proof would be on the claimant, not the counter claimant. It is not required to prove that Jesus Christ did not exist, only to show that no one has proven with scientific certainty that Jesus Christ did exist. Since it would likely be impossible to present evidence that there existed a Jesus Christ that was definitively testable (given the material available), it isn't really a question that can be answered with much scientific certainty in the first place. A discussion of the level of scientific certainty that is even possible at all might be a great way to open the article.Blackthorne2k (talk) 07:42, 16 June 2014 (UTC)
I am not sure that "scientific certainty" can ever be applied to history and especially to ancient history. The article (and this talk page) says over and over why historians of ancient / classical history have no doubt about the fact of the execution of Jesus at the orders of the Roman authorities and that is because it is multiply attested by the Gospels, Tacitus and Josephus. Anyone who knows a little about classical/ancient history will know that there is nothing unusual at all about knowing about all sorts of major things - wars, Kings, empires, entire civilisations - from one reference in a work from antiquity, a note scribbled in the margins of a manuscript by a medieval scribe, a shard of pottery. To have as many references to the crucifixion as we do (and of course if Jesus was put to death he had to exist first) is very unusual and makes it as close to hard fact as anything from ancient history can be.Smeat75 (talk) 02:31, 17 June 2014 (UTC)
Smeat75, I agree that it is probably not possible to reach total scientific certainty about matters that took place in ancient history. However, I think you would agree that different conclusions about ancient people, empires, kings, civilizations etc... carry with them different levels of certainty based on the scientific methods that could possibly be applied. For example, the claim "there existed an ancient civilization to the north of the African continent 5000 years ago" carries with it the potential to apply a myriad of scientific methods to test such a claim; given the immense amount of relevant material. Likewise the claims "There existed a king Tutankhamun", "There existed a Socrates" and "There existed a Pope Eutychianus" all carry with them different potentials for scientific certainty, by which I mean certainty based on scientific methods, given what is available to test. I do not want to make any assertions about the material available to the question of the existence of a Jesus Christ, but the article has been described in the talk page as "brimming with scientific facts". My point is that I believe the source of the dispute, at least in part, is due to a perception that the tone of certainty conveyed by the article is out of step with the sources provided. Furthermore, that the dispute could be resolved, at least in part, by looking at the type of claims that are being made in the text relative to the level of certainty the quoted experts intended to convey.Blackthorne2k (talk) 07:25, 17 June 2014 (UTC)
It's not our job to evaluate the evidence, since we're not supposed to be doing WP:OR. Our job is to summarise reliable sources and notable opinions and to do so from a neutral point of view. Martijn Meijering (talk) 06:46, 17 June 2014 (UTC)
Obviously. However in order to be neutral we need to properly present the “facts” in context. It’s impossible for any sensible person to take a source seriously when they say things like “the documentary evidence is simply overwhelming”. The so-called evidence here consists of a) the gospels, which are not independent, not original and which blatantly contradict each other; b) two mentions in Josephus whose own authenticity is seriously questioned; c) a passing mention in Tacitus which is reporting hearsay, which doesn’t actually mention Jesus and which may well be talking about a completely different individual, and d) the “criterion of embarrassment”. Not only is this not overwhelming, it’s not even strictly speaking "evidence" per se. Instead of merely reporting a poll of non-neutral opinions, perhaps we can better comply with wikipolicy by describing in the lead the actual “evidence” on which the historicity is being judged by said scholars, so that readers can be properly informed? If anybody wants to argue that the lead is already too long, then we can certainly delete or slim down some of the other paragraphs currently in the lead – this issue is surely the most central to the article topic? Wdford (talk) 08:23, 17 June 2014 (UTC)
When views on the facts diverge, we give a neutral summary of the various notable views. In other words, instead of saying X is the case, we say S1 says X, S2 says X' and S3 says Y. I think we now have fairly strong evidence that the CMT is not taken seriously by historians, and the article should mention this. If people like Price disagree strongly on the reliability of the Testimonium Flavianum, then we can mention this, but we cannot fail to mention the opinion of historians, now that we have strong evidence of that opinion. What we can, and in my opinion should, do however is to make sure that the article reflects the difference in scholarly effort from the sides of biblical scholarship and historians. With a few notable exceptions historians have not closely studied the matter or the arguments of mythicists, presumably because they don't think it's worth their time. The article should not lead the reader to believe historians have studied the arguments between mythicists and HJ scholars closely and based their conclusions on that. We have not seen scholarly publications by historians on the subject, just strongly expressed views in popular media. The reader can interpret this however he wants, perhaps the CMT is just so ridiculous that it isn't even worth thinking about (though we should probably mention that Grant does think the question of historicity is a nontrivial one), perhaps historians are being rash. Either way it is not our job to make the decision for the reader. Martijn Meijering (talk) 13:37, 17 June 2014 (UTC)
Agreed. What wording would you propose should be added to the lead to achieve this? Wdford (talk) 14:10, 17 June 2014 (UTC)

Preconceptions on Historicity

The one and only characteristic that literally all Christian denominations share is a belief that Jesus of Nazareth was a real person.

But it's not a matter of belief; it's something deeper that Christians rarely think about consciously, but accept as self-evident. It is no less than a first principle -- a foundation upon which the cornerstones of belief are placed. No matter how a Christian's beliefs may shift and change over time, that foundation remains unchanged.

It's hard -- possibly impossible -- to find a Christian who doesn't accept the existence of Jesus as being beyond question. It's even be hard to find an ex-Christian who doesn't. Or for that matter, a New Testament scholar.

That's a problem here. Most of the people cited as sources in this article are not only scholars, they are Christians or ex-Christians. There's no evidence that any of them have found a solution to the conflict of writing about a subject on which they have incurable preconceptions.

I don't see any easy fix for this. But I think it needs to be addressed. Fearofreprisal (talk) 09:19, 24 July 2014 (UTC)

WP:GREATWRONGS. Tgeorgescu (talk) 10:49, 24 July 2014 (UTC)
Sure... for my next trick, after I fix Christian preconceptions, I'm going to bring peace to the Ukraine and Gaza. Well... maybe not. I'm not trying to fix anything but some problems in the article.Fearofreprisal (talk) 17:12, 24 July 2014 (UTC)
The preconceptions here are those of the editor, who insultingly assumes that scholars cannot do their jobs of objectively assessing historical evidence but are driven by personal prejudice (and that "It's even be hard to find an ex-Christian who doesn't [accept the existence of Jesus as being beyond question.])" How do you know that? And for the nth time, there are quite a few classical historians referenced in the article, they are not' all "Bible scholars" or "New Testament scholars" etc.WP editors are not supposed to address things or fix things, only to summarise what reliable sources say.Smeat75 (talk) 15:06, 24 July 2014 (UTC)
Tg/S75, Well said!! Bill the Cat 7 (talk) 16:47, 24 July 2014 (UTC)
Smeat75: Your post is incivil. Please consider going back to reword it.Fearofreprisal (talk) 17:07, 24 July 2014 (UTC)
I didn't detect any incivility in Smeat75's part. I see frustrated disagreement with your tendentious editing, and a faux-civil accusation of incivility by you for disagreeing calling out your honestly bigoted assumption that Christians and former Christians are inherently too brain damaged to engage in "real" historical research ("real" being whatever you personally believe). But I'm just a dumbass Christian, so what do I know? Ian.thomson (talk) 17:26, 24 July 2014 (UTC)
What do you know? Apparently, how to make posts that add nothing of value to the conversation.Fearofreprisal (talk) 18:13, 24 July 2014 (UTC)
A lateral move at worst for this discussion. Ian.thomson (talk) 18:18, 24 July 2014 (UTC)

Fearofreprisal, Smeat75 was being frank, not uncivil. Wikipedia - fortunately - does not work the way you want it to. It summarises the scholarly consensus. You can't simply sweep that aside by blithely assuming that everyone who agrees has 'incurable preconceptions'. You appear to have some obvious preconceptions of your own.--Rbreen (talk) 22:17, 24 July 2014 (UTC)

We'll be going around in circles until we properly address the issue of bias. That does not mean disqualifying all Christian or formerly Christian scholars, but we do need to acknowledge there is an issue. Our sources even say that. Martijn Meijering (talk) 22:21, 24 July 2014 (UTC)
True. There are reasonable questions about the true independence of the thought of what might be called cultural Christians of a sort as well as, I suppose perhaps the underlying principles or beliefs of those who somewhat iconoclastically reject or on rather weak evidence call into question a belief the accuracy of which has seemingly very rarely if ever seriously questioned, even in time periods that maybe or probably had access to information not available to us 2000 later. John Carter (talk) 22:55, 24 July 2014 (UTC)
I am so tired of editors saying "Call this guy a reliable source on this subject? He says himself that he's a Christian! a "Bible scholar", this one's a pastor for goodness' sake, that one's actually a member of the Church of England synod, well they are all obviously biased" that I would almost suggest taking every statement sourced to any but scholars who are officially labelled "historians" out of the article, but I don't think that would be fair to the reader. The assumption that Christians cannot be objective historians just seems like prejudice to me. John Dominic Crossan, for instance, who is quoted in the article as saying the crucifixion is as certain as anything in history "maintains the Gospels were never intended by their authors to be taken literally . He argues that the meaning of the story is the real issue, not whether a particular story about Jesus is history or parable. He proposes that it is historically probable that, like all but one known victim of crucifixion, Jesus' body was scavenged by animals rather than being placed in a tomb. Crossan believes in vision hypothesis "resurrection" by faith but holds that bodily resuscitation was never contemplated by early Christians." He is quite notorious among biblical scholars for suggesting these things, why do editors assume he is blinded by bias when it comes to the fact of the crucifixion?Smeat75 (talk) 13:19, 25 July 2014 (UTC)

Smead75: There is no reason why Christians cannot be objective historians, except on the sole question of the existence of Jesus. That is because the definition of Christianity is built upon the existence of Jesus. Christian scholars may disagree about the historicity of gospel events, but they don't disagree about the existence of Jesus. Fearofreprisal (talk) 18:11, 25 July 2014 (UTC)

I don't know about others, but I for one am certainly not saying that. In fact I explicitly disagreed with it in my post above. Martijn Meijering (talk) 13:54, 25 July 2014 (UTC)
Do you have any suggestions as to how to address the issue of bias that you identify Martijn?Smeat75 (talk) 14:28, 25 July 2014 (UTC)
I don't have a full answer to that, but see my June 19 post above. Also, I think we need to have something similar to the criticism section in the Historical Jesus section. Copy paste doesn't seem like a good idea, but a short sentence and a hyperlink could do. The article should make clear that HJ research isn't just another branch of science, but that there are major doubts about methodology and the potential for bias. It should also clearly spell out the difference between HJ scholars and historians in general. It should mention that very few historians have published about the matter or have even studied it, including some of the recently added historians that emphatically reject the CMT. This doesn't mean we don't have evidence that historians (with very few exceptions) dismiss the CMT, but we should clearly differentiate between HJ researchers and historians. Martijn Meijering (talk) 12:35, 27 July 2014 (UTC)

In the first post here, I suggested that, for Christians, acceptance of the existence of Jesus is beyond question - a first principle. While I did get called prejudiced and bigoted, no one actually disagreed with me.

Apparently though, my implicit point was too subtle: If Christian scholars accept the existence of Jesus as a first principle, they may not qualify as reliable third party sources regarding that subject.

But, it doesn't really matter, because what what reliable sources say about material that is out of scope is irrelevant to the article and can be removed. Statements regarding whether Jesus existed are out of scope for this article.

I created a section on scope on this talk page the other day at Talk:Historicity_of_Jesus#Scope_of_this_article. It's a better place to continue discussion of what's in or out of scope. Fearofreprisal (talk) 03:53, 25 July 2014 (UTC)

For Christ-mythicists, denial of the existence of Jesus is beyond question - a first principle. It would be equally dogmatic if third parties and neutral scholarship did not have their own views on the issue, but it is more blindingly dogmatic (to the point of bigotry) to insist that third-parties and neutral scholars are really just touting a Christian POV when they disagree with Christ-mythicism.
If an editor cannot accept that the reliability of a source is a matter of scholarship rather than sectarian complaints, the editor may not qualify as competent or neutral enough to edit articles pertaining to that subject.
But, it does matter, because this article is about the academic (not religious or religiously antireligious) consensus regarding whether Jesus existed. Ian.thomson (talk) 18:27, 26 July 2014 (UTC)

Robert M. Price is maybe one of the few or perhaps sole academics who seems to have maybe starteed from a really unbiased position, effectively saying that Jesus deserves as close scrutiny as Joseph Smith. Unfortunately, he seems to gloss over the vast discrepancy in the amount and quality of currently availableand surviving documentation between the two eras in doing so. If we have an article and I'm fairly sure we could/should on the current broad lack of documentation from that era, that could be mentioned with Price. John Allegro might be mentioned as an example of the prejudiced deniers.John Carter (talk) 18:33, 27 July 2014 (UTC)

Ian.Thompson: You said "For Christ-mythicists, denial of the existence of Jesus is beyond question - a first principle." If this has any factual basis, please provide a citation. (For citations supporting my statement regarding Christian acceptance of Jesus Christ existence, you can start with Christian and Christianity, and follow-up with most of the citations in Historicity of Jesus.) Regarding "touting a Christian POV": I've never seen a citation where a source claimed his or her belief in Jesus existence was based on scholarship, and not Christian POV. Further, I've never seen a citation where such a source claimed to be neutral. If you can provide any such citations, please do. I suspect they will be hard to find.
Consider the example of Bart D. Ehrman, who is oft cited here and in the article. He has, to my knowledge, never suggested that his acceptance of the existence of Jesus Christ is in any way dependent on or derived from the analysis of historical evidence, or derives from anything other than his background as a fundamentalist Christian and theologian. To the contrary, in the forward to Did Jesus Exist?: The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth, Ehrman is quite clear that he's always accepted the existence of Jesus as being a given. "Of course Jesus existed," Ehrman writes, "Everyone knows he existed. Don't they?" The book is a spirited apologetic in defense of Jesus' existence, but it does not conclude that Jesus existed; it starts with his existence as its very premise. While Ehrman is a scholar of note, and his analysis of the historical evidence is valuable and worth citing the article, he doesn't try to hide the fact that his opinion of Jesus' existence is not based on scholarship. Fearofreprisal (talk) 03:44, 28 July 2014 (UTC)
Your last conclusion is fringe, weird, extreme and wrong. Tgeorgescu (talk) 20:40, 28 July 2014 (UTC)
We very rarely label mainstream academic consensus. That leads to similarly ridiculous arguments which question whether the earth is round, whether Alexander the Great ever existed, and whether Battlefield Earth (film) is the greatest film ever made. The simple fact that few if any rational people doubt something is true does not give us cause to label it a preconception. John Carter (talk) 20:58, 28 July 2014 (UTC)
Provide citations. Fearofreprisal (talk) 20:50, 28 July 2014 (UTC)
What an odd statement for you to make, conesidering I don't know that to date you have provided a single sourcewhich explicitly supports your apparently OR conclusion of academic bias yourself. John Carter (talk) 21:48, 28 July 2014 (UTC)
Bart D. Ehrman states that the existence of Jesus and his crucifixion by the Romans is attested to by a wide range of sources including Josephus and Tacitus. - a sentence from the article. You are attacking a leading scholar's integrity.Smeat75 (talk) 21:13, 28 July 2014 (UTC)
Brainwashing: educational practice disapproved by the speaker. Tgeorgescu (talk) 00:08, 29 July 2014 (UTC)
Tgeorgescu - You said my conclusion was "fringe, weird, extreme and wrong." Then you made an arcane comment about Brainwashing. You know how things work around here -- don't say things like that without providing some evidence.
John Carter - "ridiculous arguments which question whether the earth is round?" Reliable sources, expressing scholarly opinions, do not think that an argument about whether the Earth is round is ridiculous. (Especially since the Earth is, contrary to the majority view, not round.)
I actually said nothing about academic bias. I tried to make the point that for Christians, the existence of Jesus is a first principle -- the foundation for their belief. Nothing radical there -- it's the definition of "Christian." For a Christian scholar, it's possible to undertake academic research regarding the historical evidence related to Jesus, without any need to reach the question of his existence. That is, you can look at historicity, without considering non-historicity. And there's good reason to do this: Michael Grant's statement (cited in the article) that "no serious scholar has ventured to postulate the non-historicity of Jesus" hints at how radioactive this subject is: Scholars are afraid of even postulating non-historicity, much less concluding non-historicity. Ehrman points out anyone on the wrong side of the subject is unlikely to be able to get a teaching job in an established department of religion. In his books, he stays on the traditional side ("Of course Jesus exists!), dismissing the possibility that a competent scholar might find the other side worthy of consideration.[10] (Though this is getting harder for him to do with a straight face.[11])
Regarding citations: I already provided them. I quote: "For citations supporting my statement regarding Christian acceptance of Jesus Christ existence, you can start with Christian and Christianity, and follow-up with most of the citations in Historicity of Jesus." I also cited Ehrman's Did Jesus Exist?: The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth.
If you'd like more sources supporting what I've been writing about, here you go: Ehrman actually provides a deep well of material disputing his own points (though it might not have been his intent), including Huff Post article, How Jesus Became God: The Exaltation of a Jewish Preacher from Galilee, Forged: writing in the name of God, [12], and more. Michael Grant, Jesus: An Historian's Review of the Gospels, and Richard A. Burridge, Jesus Now and Then are already cited in the article. Many of Robert M. Price's writings are on point, including The Christ-Myth Theory and Its Problems, Incredible Shrinking Son of Man: How Reliable Is the Gospel Tradition?, [13], [14], [15], and [16]. Richard Carrier's books Proving History: Bayes's Theorem and the Quest for the Historical Jesus, On the Historicity of Jesus: Why We Might Have Reason for Doubt, and his blog at [17] cite this. And there is Richard Davies at [18], Thomas Brodie, Beyond the Quest for the Historical Jesus: A Memoir of a Discovery, and Is This Not the Carpenter? The Question of the Historicity of the Figure of Jesus, edited by Thomas Thompson and Thomas Verenna. (Regarding questions of WP:RS WP:UNDUE WP:FRINGE WP:NPOV on any of these sources: They're not cited in the article yet, but if someone wants to raise an issue ahead of time, we can run them, one by one, through dispute resolution.)
Smeat75 - Regarding your quote from the article: "Bart D. Ehrman states that the existence of Jesus and his crucifixion by the Romans is attested to by a wide range of sources including Josephus and Tacitus."
Personally, I think that whoever pulled that quote out of it's proper context made Ehrman look lame. But that doesn't mean it's out of scope for the article. I can't figure out on what basis you thought I'd want to remove it. Fearofreprisal (talk) 08:56, 29 July 2014 (UTC)
I wasn't suggesting that you want to remove that sentence from the article, I don't know what you want to do. I was responding to your attack on Ehrman's integrity : Consider the example of Bart D. Ehrman... He has, to my knowledge, never suggested that his acceptance of the existence of Jesus Christ is in any way dependent on or derived from the analysis of historical evidence, or derives from anything other than his background as a fundamentalist Christian and theologian....his opinion of Jesus' existence is not based on scholarship. There is the analysis you keep asking for in that sentence, it is really quite simple. Multiple independent attestation of an event from antiquity is "very abundant evidence" (Michael Grant), "overwhelming" documentary evidence (Graeme Clarke), makes Jesus' crucifixion and existence "historically certain" (Alana Nobbs) and "as sure as anything historical can ever be"(J D Crossan). Regarding "mythicists", there is a link in the article to Christ myth theory where those ideas are discussed and, following WP:UNDUE the views of tiny minorities should not be included at all, except perhaps in a "see also" to an article about those specific views. For example, the article on the Earth does not directly mention modern support for the Flat Earth concept, the view of a distinct minority; to do so would give undue weight to it, the link to Christ myth theory is enough, actually according to that guideline it is more than enough. "There was not really such a person as Jesus" has the same academic credibility as "the earth is flat" or "space aliens built the pyramids" (not discussed or mentioned in the article on Pyramids of Giza.Smeat75 (talk) 11:39, 29 July 2014 (UTC)
Smeat75 - First, you're saying that I'm attacking Ehrman's integrity. I don't know where you get that. Is it because I provided citations that show his opinion on the existence of Jesus is not based on scholarship, but instead is a starting premise for his writing? That's no attack on his integrity: That's just quoting what he says. In any event, I've got no need to attack Ehrman's integrity when so many reliable sources are already doing it. I can provide you a nice selection of critical citations, including some that impugn his fact checking and accuracy. Here's one that puts him in his place nicely.[19] If you want more, no problem. It's not like they're hard to find.
Next, you start referring to historical analysis methods and other general claims of scholars regarding the significance of evidence. Then you go on to Mythicists, then quickly shift to comparing existence of Jesus (a matter of religious and historical debate) with the shape of the earth (a matter of science.) FWIW, the Earth is neither flat nor round. It is a Geoid.
So far as I can tell, you're trying to advocate a one-sided POV, without it sounding like you're engaging in apologetics, while I'm trying to avoid the issue of POV for the moment, and focus instead on the basic issue of scope -- that, to fit in this article, material must be explicitly based on the analysis of historical evidence by reliable third party sources. Fearofreprisal (talk) 15:07, 29 July 2014 (UTC)
Did you read the page you linked to? [20] Do you realise it is a fundamentalist Christian site (there is a hint in the fact that it is called "apolgeticspress") which is criticising Ehrman for daring to suggest that about a third of the New Testament is forged? Did you just look around for anything that attacks him? You say I am "engaging in apologetics" (ridiculous) and then you post a link to an actual apologist site???? Smeat75 (talk) 16:25, 29 July 2014 (UTC)
Basically, he affirms a conspiracy theory that learning Christian theology is a form of brainwashing so powerful that it compels even ex-Christians to hotly believe they have to affirm the historicity of Jesus. Tgeorgescu (talk) 18:31, 29 July 2014 (UTC)
Smeat75 - Of course I read the page I linked to. I was merely providing an example link to show that Ehrman is often criticized. I can provide more, but there's no reason to.
Tgeorgescu - what are you talking about? Sounds like WP:OR to me. Fearofreprisal (talk) 19:57, 29 July 2014 (UTC)

Scope of this article

The WP:SCOPE of the Historicity of Jesus article is spelled out in its first sentence. Here it is, formatted for clarity:

The historicity of Jesus concerns the analysis of historical evidence to determine
  • whether Jesus of Nazareth existed as a historical figure, and,
  • whether any of the major milestones in his life as portrayed in the gospels can be confirmed as historical events.

I don't see any significant ambiguity is this. Material is within the scope of the article if it concerns these things. Material is outside the scope of the article if it doesn't concern these things. Fearofreprisal (talk) 02:06, 24 July 2014 (UTC)

Statements regarding whether Jesus existed are out of scope for this article. The above statement of scope says that the article concerns "the analysis of historical evidence to determine whether Jesus of Nazareth existed..." It does not say it concerns "whether Jesus of Nazareth existed."

Large swaths of the article are statements of opinion on whether Jesus existed. They should either be removed, or moved to the Existence of Jesus article (if someone wants to create that.) Fearofreprisal (talk) 04:13, 25 July 2014 (UTC)

No way you can turn this article into a platform for WP:OR. Tgeorgescu (talk) 14:26, 25 July 2014 (UTC)
By "historicity of Jesus" we simply mean "a presentation of the scholarly consensus in respect to the real existence of Jesus". Tgeorgescu (talk) 15:00, 25 July 2014 (UTC)
Tgeorgescu, WP:SCOPE and WP:OR are entirely separate things. I'm a little mystified about how you got the impression I was suggesting turning the article into a platform for WP:OR
I've already, at the top of this section, included a word-for-word recitation of the existing scope of the article. If you want to change this scope, it will require WP:CONSENSUS.
In your purported scope, "a presentation on the scholarly consensus" is your interpretation of WP:POLICY. It appears that what you are suggesting for the scope is "the real existence of Jesus." Is this right? Fearofreprisal (talk) 17:38, 25 July 2014 (UTC) Tgeorgescu (talk) 18:42, 25 July 2014 (UTC)

Tgeorgescu, I'm trying to understand what you're getting at.

  • Do you disagree with what I've presented as the scope, or do you just not like it?
  • Are you suggesting that that I'm misconstruing the scope as including material on "the analysis of historical evidence to determine whether Jesus of Nazareth existed..." but not the more general "whether Jesus of Nazareth existed."? If so, can you suggest the proper construction?
  • Are you suggesting that "the real existence of Jesus" is actually the current consensus scope, or are you suggesting it to replace the current consensus scope? In any event, can you suggest any reliable third-party sources who claim to have any knowledge of the real existence of Jesus? (I don't know of any.)
  • Do you disagree with my statement that "Statements regarding whether Jesus existed are out of scope for this article?" If so, let me suggest this: Statements regarding whether Jesus existed that are explicitly and exclusively based on the analysis of historical evidence are in scope. Is this acceptable? If not, can you suggest a better construction? Fearofreprisal (talk) 22:14, 25 July 2014 (UTC)
I don't see the problem. I do not see that we could not speak of the real existence (historical actuality, actuality meaning it really happened) of Jesus without implying that one cannot speak of the real existence of Julius Caesar. When Bart Ehrman says that the existence of Jesus is one of the most certain facts of ancient history, he means that Jesus really existed. Of course, he also says that historians do not have absolute certainty about past events, but set forth explanations of what probably happened based upon historical evidence. So, if you want, he means that it is almost certain that Jesus really existed. All the points made inside the article have to be based upon reliable sources and we apply WP:UNDUE and WP:FRINGE. As I told before, Ehrman needed a whole book for introducing to the public the historical evidence for the existence of Jesus and the ways scholars see this evidence. We cannot outsmart Ehrman on just three or four pages, that's why a deep analysis of the evidence, bordering upon original research, probably doesn't belong in our article. Tgeorgescu (talk) 00:12, 26 July 2014 (UTC)
Or, to put it bluntly, scholars analyze the historical evidence for Jesus, we simply report what they published. We don't analyze ourselves this evidence, since that it forbidden. Tgeorgescu (talk) 00:19, 26 July 2014 (UTC)

None of which has anything to do with WP:SCOPE. Fearofreprisal (talk) 07:07, 26 July 2014 (UTC)

There seems to be some misunderstanding here. You have latched onto the word "analysis" and apparently want to discard anything from the article that does not fit your understanding of that word, but you would have to get consensus to do that, which I feel you are unlikely to achieve.Smeat75 (talk) 13:52, 26 July 2014 (UTC)
"Article scope, in terms of what exactly the subject and its scope is, is an editorial choice determined by consensus." WP:SCOPE Smeat75 (talk) 14:34, 26 July 2014 (UTC)

Smeat75, my understanding of the word "analysis" is its common meaning. What is your understanding of the word? Fearofreprisal (talk) 17:36, 26 July 2014 (UTC)

You keep repeating that what you call "opinions" (and are actually evaluations and assessments by the relevant authorities, experts and scholars of the subject) as to whether Jesus existed or not are out of the scope of this article but I do not go along with that. The second part of the sentence you have quoted says "whether Jesus of Nazareth existed as a historical figure and whether any of the major milestones in his life as portrayed in the gospels can be confirmed as historical events" so they are directly relevant.Smeat75 (talk) 19:27, 26 July 2014 (UTC)

Smeat75: Keep repeating? No, I just asked you what your understanding of the word "analysis" is. You didn't answer.

The second part of the sentence you mention is a dependent clause. The first part of the sentence is the independent clause. My guess is that you already knew this.

The independent clause includes the phrase "analysis of historical evidence":

  • What does "analysis" comprise? Google said "Detailed examination of the elements or structure of something, typically as a basis for discussion or interpretation." Any common dictionary definition is fine with me.
  • What "historical evidence"? The dependent clause tells us it is any that is relevant to determining whether Jesus of Nazareth existed as a historical figure, and whether any of the major milestones in his life as portrayed in the gospels can be confirmed as historical events. Fearofreprisal (talk) 22:07, 26 July 2014 (UTC)

After not seeing any comments on this for a few days, I want to follow up, to be certain that there is no significant dispute on the current scope (as stated in the article), or how I am construing it. If you disagree with my construction, don't just tell me I'm wrong -- propose your own construction. Preferably something more specific than a mere restatement of the article topic. If necessary, we can move up through the dispute resolution process.

Eventually, quite a lot of irrelevant material may need to be removed from the article. Better to speak up here than start an edit war later. Fearofreprisal (talk) 05:08, 31 July 2014 (UTC)

OK, Fearofreprisal, I'm an outsider who stumbled on this by chance but I'll quickly summarise the problem for you. You are interpreting the first scope to mean direct interpretation of the original sources, which is why you are being accused of turning it into an Original Research problem. Whereas what the others want to do is summarise what scholars have said about those sources, which is what Wikipedia requires them (us) to do. You seem to consider secondary sources are, and I quote, 'statements of opinion on whether Jesus existed' and 'irrelevant material [that] may need to be removed from the article'. When somebody pointed out that what you wanted to do is not permitted, you started talking about scope rather than engaging with Wikipedia policy. I am afraid, and as I keep saying elsewhere to people who object to articles that fly in the face of their sincerely held religious or political views because they rely on such works, that Wikipedia can only summarise secondary sources. I don't know enough about the ancient world to comment definitively on this particular issue, but I'm happy to accept the views put forward here that there is sufficient evidence that (1) a person called Jesus existed and (2) there are certain events in his life that can be traced with reasonable accuracy. If you know of reliable (please note that word) sources to the contrary, please bring them forward.
If you cannot, perhaps (looking at some of your other comments here) you should ask yourself why you are more interested in the views of men like, say, Earl Doherty (who is generally believed to be completely unqualified despite his unsupported claims of a BA awarded fifty years ago) or Richard Carrier (chiefly famous for accusing his critics of suffering from various mental illnesses, and who despite being in his mid-forties has never held an academic position nor had a book survive blind peer review, and whose only peer-reviewed article cites David Irving as a reliable source, dismissing without explanation the views of a High Court Judge that Irving is a Holocaust Denier as 'popular belief') rather than the views of Ehrmann (who speaks the relevant languages and the majority of whose work is assessed by both employers and publishers as being of high quality, although his overall oeuvre is variable) or Grant (who had a highly successful career as first an intelligence officer, then a lecturer, then a university administrator, and finally a writer). Appeals to authority are always a little dangerous, but when all authorities agree on one thing, they are usually doing it for a reason, and that reason is that it's the best explanation of the available evidence that they have, and new evidence would be needed to change their views. Again, the article needs to reflect that. Mining in the original sources for 'new' evidence for this article with a clear agenda and a lack of expertise would be the best possible recipe for disaster.
And with respect, perhaps you should remember that bias, including an inability to see bias, is not a fault confined to Christians. (talk) 09:53, 31 July 2014 (UTC)
Well said IP 86, and I would add that we are under no obligation to come to this page every day or so and repeat what we have already said in answer to Fearofreprisal. WP operates by consensus and I do not see anyone on this talk page agreeing with that editor's interpretation of "scope of this article" or anything else.Smeat75 (talk) 12:43, 31 July 2014 (UTC)
IP86 - You misrepresented what I said regarding scope, didn't offer any alternative construction, and spent a lot of time writing about things that have nothing to do with scope.
Smead75 - You're under no obligation to do anything. But if you don't participate in the discussion, you can't complain that I failed to seek consensus when this ends up on the administrator noticeboard (Which is almost certain to happen.) Fearofreprisal (talk) 09:04, 1 August 2014 (UTC)
@Fearofreprisal: The SCOPE of this article is fine as it stands. Perhaps you might focus your efforts on improving the CONTENT instead. Otherwise, maybe consider starting a new article called Inherent religious bias in historical Jesus scholarship, and see how much support you manage to attract. Remember to comply with WP:RS and WP:V. Wdford (talk) 09:48, 1 August 2014 (UTC)
Actually, it turns out that RS have already provided us with plenty of evidence for that, see the HJ page. If Fearofreprisal focused on adding counterbalancing sources and mentioning the evidence of bias instead of trying to remove reliable sources, then we might actually make progress. Martijn Meijering (talk) 11:37, 1 August 2014 (UTC)
if you don't participate in the discussion, you can't complain that I failed to seek consensus when this ends up on the administrator noticeboard (Which is almost certain to happen.) Please do not interpret a day going by without other editors countering your posts here as a sign that everyone now agrees with you. Constant repetition of the same points just clutters up a talk page, which is not intended as a debating forum but a place to make suggestions for improving the article. I don't know what you think taking this to the administrator's noticeboard would achieve.Smeat75 (talk) 14:41, 1 August 2014 (UTC)

Wdford - I've been writing about scope, not specific content. But that's next. Historical Jesus is different from historicity of Jesus, as described by the third paragraph of the article. As for WP:RS and WP:V - I've been contributing to WP for a dozen or so years. I'm not going to forget its basic policies.

Mmeijeri - I have no intention whatsoever of removing reliable sources. But, as explained in WP:SCOPE: "What reliable sources say about material that is out of scope for the decided-upon subject is largely irrelevant to that article and can be removed or moved to another article."

Smeat75 - Actually, time going by without other editors presenting alternative viewpoints does tend to validate my viewpoint. The fact that you've responded to my posts without actually dealing with the issue of scope pretty much shows that you agree with me on that subject. I suspect that at some point, when I remove some out of scope material that another editor particularly cherishes, and it turns into an edit war, it's going to end up on the administrator's noticeboard. Fearofreprisal (talk) 19:28, 1 August 2014 (UTC)

time going by without other editors presenting alternative viewpoints does tend to validate my viewpoint. No it doesn't. The fact that you've responded to my posts without actually dealing with the issue of scope pretty much shows that you agree with me on that subject No I don't. Several editors have made it clear that they do not agree with your attempt to impose your own definition of "scope of this article", in fact everyone but you as far as I can see. You just declare yourself to be unsatisfied with what we have said. WP does not work that way.Smeat75 (talk) 19:47, 1 August 2014 (UTC)
'IP86 - (1)You misrepresented what I said regarding scope, (2) didn't offer any alternative construction, (3) and spent a lot of time writing about things that have nothing to do with scope.'
(1) is false. Your exact words were: 'Statements regarding whether Jesus existed are out of scope for this article. The above statement of scope says that the article concerns "the analysis of historical evidence to determine whether Jesus of Nazareth existed..." It does not say it concerns "whether Jesus of Nazareth existed." Large swaths [sic] of the article are statements of opinion on whether Jesus existed. They should either be removed, or moved to the Existence of Jesus article (if someone wants to create that.)' What you propose in saying that is essentially a list of original sources used by historians working on the existence of Jesus, with the very clear subtext that you would add your own commentary on them and remove that of the experts who have some dim idea of what they are talking about. If I have misunderstood what you intended, then you need to express yourself more clearly.
(2) I know, it's terribly mean of me to not bother to propose anything more constructive than to follow Wikipedia policies. I would come up with proposals to change said policies so they could accommodate your worldview, but I'm too busy with paperwork ahead of the new academic year which starts next month (where does the time go?) and in any case in light of your behaviour, which I took the trouble to check out, I suspect it be a task somewhat beyond my powers.
(3) I was trying to show you why everyone who reads your contributions is bewildered by your attitude. Maybe I should have expressed myself more clearly and said, straightforwardly, that you are blatantly pushing a POV that is not only clearly indefensible but scarcely credible even if WP policies were not as they are.
I do hope that helps clear matters up for you. (talk) 14:53, 2 August 2014 (UTC)

Source and Context

Lets be clear about this. Just about every single source cited in this article comes from a theologically educated biblical scholar. A biblical scholar is not a trained literary critic, nor an archaeologist, nor an epistemologist. Almost every source cited derives theoretically from antiquarianism, theological studies and old school biblical studies, wrapped in a layer of US mainstream Protestantism seeking validation through conservative archaeological and literary studies of the period, people and texts. It is myopic, and has been repeatedly analysed, shown wanting and abandoned by many other scholars. This article needs diverse, verifiable, and reliable sources from outside of this tiny but very vocal thread of historical-criticism. Additional information has been added to the section Myth Theory. Additional material from a broad array of current scholarship will be added across this article. Claims that "most scholars" agree have no validity in any social science. That is not how it works. Academia is not a democracy. Get used to it. --IseeEwe (talk) 01:55, 3 August 2014 (UTC)

Next: WP:UNDUE:"Wikipedia should not present a dispute as if a view held by a small minority deserves as much attention overall as the majority view. Views that are held by a tiny minority should not be represented except in articles devoted to those views (such as Flat Earth). To give undue weight to the view of a significant minority, or to include that of a tiny minority, might be misleading as to the shape of the dispute. Wikipedia aims to present competing views in proportion to their representation in reliable sources on the subject." WP:UNDUE concerns the entire range of scholarly study of a subject. It DOES NOT say you can pick one thread out of the cloth of historic and archaeological studies, grounded in one singular theory, and call that the scholarly community. The scholarly community in this case includes all disciplines with a connection to the study of Syro-Palestinian history and pre-history, including anthropological archaeology, linguistics, literary theory, critical theory, and the philosophy of science. It DOES NOT reside solely within the purview of US biblical historians, and 15 people voting on Wikipedia. --IseeEwe (talk) 02:30, 3 August 2014 (UTC)

Just about every single source cited in this article comes from a theologically educated biblical scholar. No it doesn't and that section you put in, saying why "bible scholars" are no good was irrelevant and reached a ludicrous conclusion "There exists no widely or generally accepted proofs (outside of biblical scholarship) of the existence of Jesus as a historical figure." That is just wrong, the classical historians quoted in the article say the crucifixion is "historically certain" because of "overwhelming" documentary evidence.Smeat75 (talk) 05:17, 3 August 2014 (UTC)
You are throwing out red herrings, and making up things that I did not say. If there is a problem with the references talk about it. Just FYI -I hardly think biblical scholars are "no good". In fact I think their work is an absolutely critical component of approaching the real historic Jesus. But they are not the only approach. To deny the opinions and input of others is to close our minds to perspectives that improve our own work. We must be open to, and discuss the perceptions we do not like. They strengthen our academic discipline, help us to find new ways to explore our interests, and improve our research. --IseeEwe (talk) 19:29, 3 August 2014 (UTC)
Removal of my edit was done without consultation or discussion. I see academic bias, fiat decision making, and a POV problem here Smeat75. I have already requested external review. Do not remove the new material until this is resolved above you. --IseeEwe (talk) 19:37, 3 August 2014 (UTC)
Undue means that you do not take a source that the majority of the scholarly community rejects and present it on equal ground. WP:NPOV and WP:NOR means that you do not get to say "well any scholar I personally disagree with must be be a religiously biased pseudo-scholar and not a real historian," which is the entire basis for your edits here. Ian.thomson (talk) 19:55, 3 August 2014 (UTC)
"Disingenuous" means you narrowly define the scope of scholarship and exclude every scholar that disputes your premisses. Its also called gerrymandering. This crowd is very good at it. If you choose to only discuss this matter within a single narrow slice of academia devoted to this very position, then you will find consensus. More broadly, there is no consensus on this matter, and there are entire disciplines that reject the methodology used. The entire field of historic archaeology, for example, is premised on the inability of texts to discern reality. This is not a trivial set of scholars whom you can marginalise by fiat. The POV problem is inherent in the context of the position taken by this article. It is exclusive, biased and non-representative. --IseeEwe (talk) 20:09, 3 August 2014 (UTC)

Do we have a new sockpuppet?

If so, I suggest he / she put a sock in it because it will only result in a ban after taking up a lot of our time. Martijn Meijering (talk) 15:22, 28 July 2014 (UTC)

Sure looks that way. Bill the Cat 7 (talk) 15:48, 28 July 2014 (UTC)
Maybe you should gather up your diffs, and go over to WP:SPI, and see what the admins think. Fearofreprisal (talk) 19:35, 28 July 2014 (UTC)
I doubtt it's a sock, but there are other noticeboards for tendentious disruptive POV pushers. John Carter (talk) 00:26, 29 July 2014 (UTC)
I'm not a sock. I guess. Actually, I am not sure what that even really means. The only POV problem I see in this article is that it is almost entirely derived from historical-critical biblical studies and excludes everyone else. I find that odd, and frankly a bit insulting, as a former academic from outside of biblical studies, but inside first century Roman archaeology.--IseeEwe (talk) 19:22, 3 August 2014 (UTC)
Feel free to post an incident on WP:ANI, or any other noticeboard you like. Fearofreprisal (talk) 03:19, 29 July 2014 (UTC)

Let me get this straight, a two week old account pops up out of nowhere displaying similar views to those of Fearofreprisal + a massive bunch of edits adding a tag about Canadian English and goes on to launch an RfC? Nothing suspicious there, right? Martijn Meijering (talk) 13:23, 3 August 2014 (UTC)

Don't talk about me in the third person. I'm standing in the room. I started by just doing little edits, out of interest, and to learn how things work. Then, I bumped into this crazy little article, which just happens to fall within the focus of my own previous academic career, so I could read between all the lines and found nothing but academic arrogance, exclusivity and bias. Its not on. --IseeEwe (talk) 19:22, 3 August 2014 (UTC)

Be polite, and welcoming to new users/ Assume good faith / Avoid personal attacks / For disputes, seek dispute resolution /This is not a forum for general discussion of the article's subject. References are provided. Your narrow snap shot of the ongoing academic debate about this question excludes the research, opinions and findings of entire fields of study -which you openly disparage. I am including those opinions. More will follow. This article needs a complete rewrite. The current position taken is but one slice of the research being undertaken, and represents one school of thought, and frankly one country and language. It is not sufficiently reliable, rigourous, neutral or inclusive. I expected this response from the watchers of this article and have requested direct first level external oversight through [Wikipedia:Requests for comment] from editors in various fields. I will escalated this as required. --IseeEwe (talk) 19:13, 3 August 2014 (UTC)

Now, who was it that first outright said that Fearofreprisal and IseeEwe were socks? Fearofreprisal interpreted this section as a personal attack before he was ever mentioned, and then IseeEwe felt the need to defend himself despite not being named either. They doth protest too much, methinks. And even if they are not socks, that they have reason to believe their the ones being talked about is rather indicative of a guilty conscience, an unconscious recognition that they are two POV-pushers going against consensus. Ian.thomson (talk) 19:50, 3 August 2014 (UTC)
Consensus is not required. The edit is referenced and reflects valid studies by legitimate scholars. You resort solely to accusations, and reverts, but you do not discuss the edits. --IseeEwe (talk) 20:01, 3 August 2014 (UTC)
Ian.Thompson, Mmeijeri- if you suspect my account is a sock, then request a WP:SPI. I consider your comments to be harassment. Fearofreprisal (talk) 22:54, 3 August 2014 (UTC)
Hey Fearofreprisal, I've asked the dispute coordinator to invite you into the discussion and to comment. Please respond. This is turning into a great debate. I have no fear of the haters and the shouters. There have been so many commentators over the last few months trying to bring objectivity to this article and the same 6 haters shouting everyone down. I will continue to escalate this until it is resolved. This article is the kernel of a wildly non neutral POV which has been spread to numerous other Jesus articles. Its like the Congressional IP situation in Washington. Slight tweaks to articles, leading to slow encroachment, and utter distortion. Time for everyone to push in the same direction, at the same time. --IseeEwe (talk) 02:57, 4 August 2014 (UTC)

The Nitty Gritty

Line One "The historicity of Jesus concerns the analysis of historical evidence to determine whether Jesus of Nazareth existed as a historical figure, and whether any of the major milestones in his life as portrayed in the gospels can be confirmed as historical events." There is no citation. It is biased solely towards Christian biblical texts and research goals, and ignores the questions and contributions of other disciplines, other period texts and non-historical evidence. Shall we fix it? --IseeEwe (talk) 02:41, 3 August 2014 (UTC)

What do you propose as an alternative Line One? Wdford (talk) 13:11, 3 August 2014 (UTC)
I would take a broadly inclusive and neutral tone along the lines of: '"The "historicity of Jesus" concerns research and discussion about the actual existence of Jesus and the many events ascribed to his life, within a number of academic fields including, theology, religious studies, history, Biblical studies, comparative literature, archaeology, philosophy, anthropology and sociology."--IseeEwe (talk) 18:59, 3 August 2014 (UTC)
The first sentence defines the scope of the article. It's based on consensus, not on citation. In any event, one can't actually research the actual existence of Jesus, because there are no primary sources extant. One can only research and analyze the historical evidence -- which is what the scope currently says. Fearofreprisal (talk) 22:48, 3 August 2014 (UTC)
I'm half with you. The definition is inaccurate, as is the framework of "historical evidence". Academic historians don't read the work of other historians to understand the past. They look to primary sources. Here, the article implies that the study of the writings of ancient "historians"(writers of the past) is a legitimate route to understanding the real past. That is a truly questionable claim, but also not necessarily untrue. What is being called "history" by legitimate historical-critical biblical scholars is that which they "discover" through their investigations in conjunction with many disciplines: literary studies, theology, sociology, linguistics, etc... The history being discussed did not exist on its own, it was created by these disciplines. One very legitimate route to finding Jesus is to spend ages sorting through the language of the extent texts. Another is to search for other period texts. Another is to examine non-textual physical evidence as with archaeology. Another is to examine ones spirit for guidance -as with belief. Etc.. Many editors of this page claim that only one stream of one academic tradition, from one culture (and mostly from one language group) is a viable route to knowledge about this issue. The entire point of my effort is to broaden the discussion to include the weighted opinions of others with equal claim to valid scholarship on this matter. The issue seems to be that the judges of inclusion, dismiss anything outside of historical-critical biblical studies. This is unacceptable. --IseeEwe (talk) 23:46, 3 August 2014 (UTC)
Perhaps you could propose a specific addition, with references, that could be considered as an individual edit? I.e. you could then proceed one edit at a time, and if there are no substantive justifications to exclude it then each edit could be added in one by one? (talk) 10:37, 4 August 2014 (UTC)
Perhaps you should create a separate section in the article for your "other disciplines", so as to clearly distinguish them from the historical critical methods that seem to be the basis here, and so that there is less confrontation between the conclusions of the adherents of the different disciplines? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 10:43, 4 August 2014 (UTC)
The opening lines give the impression that this will be an article that focuses on the existence of Jesus as a fact. This gives the article a seeming tone of scientific validity. Statements of fact must withstand tests of verifiability that are the same for everyone; in other words a method. While there is a lot of discussion in the article about the ultimate conclusions that scholars have drawn about the factual existence of Jesus, there is little to no discussion of the methods used to come to those conclusions and the degrees of factual certainty that they offer. The article steers clear of any measurement of certainty that is valid in a scientific sense. Furthermore, the article focuses heavily on assertions made by scholars about the number of other scholars who agree with them. Again, there is no mention of the methodology that they used to arrive at such conclusions about the consensus of scholars. A survey would at least have a clear definition of "scholar" and a margin of error. If no survey exists, and the author is speaking anecdotally, the wording should make that clear.
The beginning of the article presents itself as if it will be scientific in nature or that it will at least addresses the science related to the issue. As it stands, the opening lines are misleading. I can't say exactly what the opening lines should be, but they clearly should be in step with what the article actually offers.Blackthorne2k (talk) 12:19, 4 August 2014 (UTC)

The dispute tag seems to be retained merely to humour certain lay readers.

The fact that the 'dispute' tag is still tainting this article is disappointing in view of the lack of scientific content in all the counter-arguments posted here to date while the article is brimming with scientific facts. This has been going on for a year without a shred of real evidence posted to refute the facts in this article. It seems Wikipedia is keeping the tag to humor the emotional non-scholarly outbursts of lay readers, which is sad — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 06:28, 8 June 2014 (UTC)

It is true that tags are not supposed to be used that way, just sit on an article for months or years, but serve as an indication to editors that there is an active dispute in progress which they are invited to participate in and resolve and then remove the tag. [tag]"This template is not meant to be a permanent resident on any article. You may remove this template whenever any one of the following is true:
There is consensus on the talkpage or the NPOV Noticeboard that the issue has been resolved.
It is not clear what the neutrality issue is, and no satisfactory explanation has been given.
In the absence of any discussion, or if the discussion has become dormant. So you or anybody else would be quite justified in removing the tag as there is no discussion going on about it. I am not going to as I am quite sure someone else would simply slap it right back on and I don't feel about arguing about it at the moment. There are editors who would not be satisfied unless the article were re-written from what would really be a non-neutral point of view, which would be that there is no reason to think there was ever such a person as Jesus.Smeat75 (talk) 12:01, 8 June 2014 (UTC)
I think that some of the dissatisfaction with the neutrality of the article has to do with the anecdotal nature of some of the quotes that are used as sources. Most do not appear to mention any scientific research to support the claims made in the quotes. Many are quotes of an expert saying how most people in their field feel about a given issue. This is not the same as an expert citing a scientifically sound poll or survey of a given field of experts. While the claims made in the article may very well be factual and true, it seems like they should be backed up by something more quantifiable than quotes from people, even experts, who are speaking anecdotally about their experiences. Just my humble opinion; I don't want to upset anyone or disrespect anyone's feelings on the subject. My goal is to resolve the dissatisfaction behind the above mentioned dispute. Thank you for listening.Blackthorne2k (talk) 00:58, 15 June 2014 (UTC)
Yeah, there has not been any scientific poll done of the experts, or any survey, nor as far as we know is there likely to be in the near future. This is true, of course, of most issues in Wikipedia and if we were to wait for such a poll to be conducted we would be waiting for ever. Then we would have to wait until the various parties argue about the validity of the poll and its methods, who counts as an expert, etc. What we have, however, are the clear opinions of a number of experts in the field who say that the view expressed is widespread and nearly universal, and no experts who suggest that this is not the case. These opinions are not "anecdotal" - they are professional scholarly opinions. There really is no serious dispute here, and the dispute tag does not contribute anything. --Rbreen (talk) 10:48, 15 June 2014 (UTC)
Rbreen, thank you for responding. My issue isn't with the veracity of the views expressed, but rather with the presentation of the sources and the quality of the article. The most qualified expert can make the truest statement, but if it is not based on sound methodology, it is still anecdotal and unsound as an argument. In the US, expert's conclusions that are not based on scientifically-sound methodology are not admissible in court; regardless of their veracity. When Ehrman says "...virtually every competent scholar of antiquity, Christian or non-Christian, agrees", just as when you say "This is true, of course, of most issues in Wikipedia...", we don't get any indication of the methodology used to come to those conclusions whatsoever. I'm not saying that those conclusions are wrong, just that the article is flawed and that this could provide some insight into the source of the dispute and its potential resolutions.Blackthorne2k (talk) 03:22, 16 June 2014 (UTC)
"...we don't get any indication of the methodology used to come to those conclusions whatsoever." Just out of curiosity, what does any of that have to do with a neutrality tag? Bill the Cat 7 (talk) 12:53, 16 June 2014 (UTC)
Thank you for responding, Bill the Cat 7. I was addressing's concern that the dispute tag was not present for valid reasons. Our goal, as I understand it, is to resolve the dispute so that the tag can be removed. If we don't put some effort towards a shared understanding of the issues and concerns that led to the placement of the tag in the first place, we don't have much hope of reaching a resolution and it will stay put forever. As I said above: "I think that some of the dissatisfaction with the neutrality of the article has to do with the anecdotal nature of some of the quotes that are used as sources. Most do not appear to mention any scientific research to support the claims made in the quotes." My statement about the indication of methodology, or lack thereof, was in response Rbreen's concerns about the issues raised in my initial post. I'm happy to discuss any concerns you may have as well.Blackthorne2k (talk) 21:27, 16 June 2014 (UTC)
As posted above as well - the threads seem to overlap: In order to be neutral we need to properly present the “facts” in context. It’s impossible for any sensible person to take a source seriously when they say things like “the documentary evidence is simply overwhelming”. The so-called evidence here consists of a) the gospels, which are not independent, not original and which blatantly contradict each other; b) two mentions in Josephus whose own authenticity is seriously questioned; c) a passing mention in Tacitus which is reporting hearsay, which doesn’t actually mention Jesus and which may well be talking about a completely different individual, and d) the “criterion of embarrassment”. Not only is this not overwhelming, it’s not even strictly speaking “evidence” per se. Instead of merely reporting a poll of non-neutral opinions, perhaps we can better comply with wikipolicy by describing in the lead the actual “evidence” on which the historicity is being judged by said scholars, so that readers can be properly informed? If anybody wants to argue that the lead is already too long, then we can certainly delete or slim down some of the other paragraphs currently in the lead – this issue is surely the most central to the article topic? Wdford (talk) 08:25, 17 June 2014 (UTC)
It’s impossible for any sensible person to take a source seriously when they say things like “the documentary evidence is simply overwhelming”.It is a frequent complaint on these articles that all the sources are "bible scholars" or priests or pastors or ministers of religion etc. This is a classical historian saying he has no knowledge of any classical historian who has any doubt about the existence of Jesus because of overwhelming documentary evidence and your contention is that he doesn't know what he is talking about. WP editors' opinions do not matter, the opinion of an emeritus professor of ancient history and archaeology does. The Josephus passages are not thought to be inauthentic any more, but to have had a couple of phrases added by scribes to an authentic passage. You dismiss the Tacitus passage as "hearsay" but modern historians do not, it is not known where Tacitus got that very specific information, ancient historians do not give their sources but Tacitus was a Senator and is known to have consulted the Senate archives for his writings and was also one of the Quindecimviri sacris faciundis, a board whose job it was to supervise foreign religions in Rome. I have no idea why "mythicists" say "Tacitus doesn't mention Jesus and might be talking about someone else" , historians do not say that, there was not some other person executed by Pontius Pilate in Judea during the reign of Tiberius who inspired a cult of ("evil, abominable, detested" according to Tacitus) followers in Rome called "Christians".Smeat75 (talk) 12:24, 17 June 2014 (UTC)
It’s impossible for any sensible person to take a source seriously when they say things like “the documentary evidence is simply overwhelming.” What we think about the level of "documentary evidence" is irrelevant. And whether we want to take scholars seriously or not is also irrelevant. What scholars say about the overwhelming evidence is verifiable and anyone who disagrees is considered a quack at worst and fringe at best. Therefore, using a neutrality tag for the purpose of one's personal rejection of what the experts say is a misuse of the tag. Bill the Cat 7 (talk) 13:46, 17 June 2014 (UTC)
Ah yes, more of the usual. Tacitus was undoubtedly well informed for his day, but Tacitus was not in Judea during the period in question, and cannot claim to know exactly who or what Jesus of Nazareth was or claimed to be. No original manuscripts of his works exist and we are relying on copies – the accuracy of which is unproven. Per those copies Tacitus writes what he has heard/read – that somebody named "Chrestus" was crucified and that a cult has been named after him. Tacitus makes zero mention of Jesus of Nazareth. Also, there were in fact many cults in Judea in those days, and many rabble-rousers were crucified. It’s thus quite possible that the Chrestus of Tacitus was not in fact Jesus of Nazareth – only Christian writings say he was the same person, and those writings are known to have been extensively reworked over time to support specific POV’s. Re Josephus – to say that "a couple of phrases were added by scribes to an authentic passage" is the same as saying "the passages are unreliable as evidence", unless and until you can demonstrate which phrases were added. I seem to recall that the contentious additions were those referring to Jesus? You can certainly quote this particular classical historian as having made this ridiculous statement, but to ensure neutrality we should also describe the "overwhelming evidence" to which this chap refers, so that readers can judge for themselves his level of neutrality and reliability. Otherwise, it seems to me that the lead is not really neutral. Wdford (talk) 13:36, 17 June 2014 (UTC)
Ah yes, more of the usual radical atheist temper tantrums. Please keep your original research to yourself. Wikipedia isn't interested. Bill the Cat 7 (talk) 13:46, 17 June 2014 (UTC)
Jesus was a nobody as far as most of his contemporaries were concerned; almost no one cared if he lived or died, except a handful of lower class adepts. Like millions of real people who did exist, he left no trace in the Roman records (birth, trial, death). As Bart Ehrman says, even Pontius Pilate, who was the most important person in the area left no documentary evidence, except one inscription. So, if Pilate is so shallowly attested, why believe that Pilate really existed and Jesus didn't? As far as we know, all ancient historians who testified that Pilate did exist could have relied on hearsay. Tgeorgescu (talk) 17:00, 17 June 2014 (UTC)
(reply to Wdford above) -:The article does say what the overwhelming evidence for the execution of Jesus and therefore his existence is, over and over. The Gospels, Josephus and Tacitus. I refer you to the greatest contemporary scholar on Josephus, Feldman, who is Jewish, and supports the authenticity of most of the Josephus passage. It is not for you or me to analyse on WP what authorities say but to summarise neutrally what they say. That is the meaning of neutrality and reliability in WP terms, not whether we think an emeritus professor of classical history and archaeology makes ridiculous statements in his own field or not.Smeat75 (talk) 13:49, 17 June 2014 (UTC)
Exactly, Feldman "supports the authenticity of most of the Josephus passage". Just not the parts of the passage that biased Bible scholars cling to. Epic. So seeing as how the lead is supposed to summarise the key elements of the article, we should certainly summarise in the lead that the historicity of Jesus is based only on some non-neutral Gospels, a disputed Josephus passage and a Tacitus passage that doesn't even mention Jesus, but that most Bible scholars and one classical historian feel this constitutes "overwhelming evidence" of historicity. That would be accurate, neutral and in line with wikipolicy. I trust that there are no objections? Wdford (talk) 14:20, 17 June 2014 (UTC)
Your trust is misplaced.Smeat75 (talk) 14:29, 17 June 2014 (UTC)
How come? Do you have a cogent reason for refusing to be accurate, neutral and in line with wikipolicy? Wdford (talk) 15:59, 17 June 2014 (UTC)
Your suggestion is not accurate or neutral, and WP:OR is not in line with Wikipedia. Bill the Cat 7 (talk) 16:55, 17 June 2014 (UTC)
You are wrong on all counts - it seems your POV is creeping through here. Wikipolicy says that the lead must summarise all the main issues in the article. In an article about the historicity of something, the basis on which that historicity is evaluated is surely a main issue, if not THE main issue. The fact that the lead of the article has until now merely quoted a biased informal opinion-poll and has neglected to summarise the actual info is a serious weakness. I am merely suggesting that the lead should also include a summary of this key info, which is already in the article. Do you have an actual cogent reason to continue to ignore wikipolicy? Wdford (talk) 17:03, 17 June 2014 (UTC)
I don't object to summarizing the evidence, but Bart Ehrman needed a whole book for presenting the evidence and the ways scholars look at it to the general public, and I doubt that we can do better on three or four pages. Tgeorgescu (talk) 17:26, 17 June 2014 (UTC)
There are some absurd requirements being put forward here. Where an expert in a particular subject expresses a view on that subject - including describing the consensus of opinion in the field - that is normally adequate for Wikipedia purposes. If that opinion is challenged by other experts, we should quote that counterbalancing view. That is not the case here. We have several scholarly experts who say that the belief that Jesus existed is almost universal in scholarship, and no scholarly expert who says that it is not true. Any reasonable person must conclude that that is an accurate description of the consensus. Of course there is no scientific opinion poll. That is simply not how things work in the world of academic scholarship. To insist that, until such evidence is presented, the consensus view cannot be presented, is not just unreasonable, it is palpably obstructive. It is a requirement far beyond what is reasonable in the circumstances.
Perhaps those who insist on such an impossible standard would like to consider the following. The Gospel of Luke says Jesus was born during the census of 6 CE, whereas the Matthew account places it before the death of Herod ten years earlier. As anyone familiar with the subject knows, modern scholars accept that Luke got the facts wrong. Unfortunately, fundamentalists who refuse to admit a Gospel writer could make stuff up keep trying to insist their pet theories be given equal weight. Several committed editors insisted on defending the scholarly view, and it is supported by a couple of expert quotes which, as in this article, state that this is the consensus. There was no opinion poll done. If you want to insist on such evidence, we must go back and let the fundamentalists have equal time for their wacky theories. Is that what you actually want?--Rbreen (talk) 21:20, 17 June 2014 (UTC)
I agree, if Wikipedia would cease to reflect the scholarly consensus and would second guess mainstream scholars, this would open a can of worms which would me impossible to close. Tgeorgescu (talk) 22:03, 17 June 2014 (UTC)
All I am saying is that the lead should accurately summarise the facts contained in the article. Instead of merely parroting the Bible scholars - who may or may not themselves be "wacky" - we should also add a summary of the facts. I don't think it will require 4 pages - I'm sure it can be done in a paragraph. The only reason for resisting this would be an attempt to conceal from the readers the paucity of the factual basis on which the Bible scholars base their expert opinions. As most readers will skim the lead to get the answer they seek and not bother to wade through all the opinions in search of the actual facts, leaving this info out of the lead amounts to NPOV and is thus not neutral. So, let's add a summary of the facts in ADDITION to the opinions of the Bible scholars, and then we will have a balance - the actual "evidence" as well as the opinions of the scholars. Wdford (talk) 08:23, 18 June 2014 (UTC)
Since when did fringe ideas on a article that is itself not fringe have to be summarized in the lead? Bill the Cat 7 (talk) 11:22, 18 June 2014 (UTC)
Wdford, you really are being disingenuous. The Wikipedia approach is based on the idea of citations from reputable scholars - which you describe as 'parroting their opinions'. Because, presumably, you think their opinions are wrong - based on 'a paucity of facts'. Evidently this paucity is clear to you but not, apparently, the numerous experts. Sadly, Wikipedia rules say that articles must be based on parroting the opinions of academic scholars, and not on those of ordinary editors who know better.--Rbreen (talk) 20:46, 18 June 2014 (UTC)
Wdford wants to tell the readers "the facts" about "the paucity of the factual basis on which the Bible scholars base their expert opinions." The article now has quotes from classical historians (not "Bible scholars") Michael Grant, Robin Lane Fox, Graeme Clarke and Alanna Nobbs who say there is "very abundant evidence" for Jesus' existence, "the documentary evidence is simply overwhelming" and " his crucifixion under the Roman prefect Pontius Pilate may be described as historically certain." And the reason why they say this is also repeatedly stated, as for instance by historian, as NPR describes him, Bart Ehrman "the existence of Jesus and his crucifixion by the Romans is attested to by a wide range of sources including Josephus and Tacitus." It is not the place of WP editors to acquaint readers with "the facts" of why these world authorities in their field are basing their conclusions on a "paucity" of evidence and making "ridiculous" statements that no "sensible person" could possibly take seriously.Smeat75 (talk) 11:52, 18 June 2014 (UTC)
Agreed, and I cannot see how any selection of appropriate "facts" could be anything other than original research.--Rbreen (talk) 21:51, 18 June 2014 (UTC)
Smeat75 and Rbreen, would you think that it would be inappropriate to address in the article the amount of material that is available regarding the factual existence of Jesus Christ relative to the amount of material available regarding the factual existence of other ancient historical figures such as Tutankamen, Claudius or Aristotle? I don't mean any judgment of the amount of evidence/material by us the editors, but well sourced statements about what evidence/material is available so that the reader can get an understanding of the amount of material that experts have to work with in this case; relative to what experts have to work with in other cases.Blackthorne2k (talk) 02:42, 19 June 2014 (UTC)
WP works on the basis of reliable sources Blackthorne, you would have to find RS that compare the available evidence for the existence of Jesus relative to those others, not compare them yourself, that would be original research.Smeat75 (talk) 12:44, 19 June 2014 (UTC)
Agreed, if there are reliable sources that compare the evidence, there is no reason why they should not go in the article.--Rbreen (talk) 19:04, 19 June 2014 (UTC)
Smeat75 and Rbreen, I do not mean that we as editors would would make comparative judgements about the amount of evidence available for the existence of Jesus Christ vs the existence of other ancient figures. As I said above "I don't mean any judgment of the amount of evidence/material by us the editors, but well sourced statements about what evidence/material is available so that the reader can get an understanding of the amount of material that experts have to work with in this case; relative to what experts have to work with in other cases."
By this I mean that we would not make any statements about there being better or worse evidence for any one historical figure vs another. Rather, we would say something to the tune of:
"Historical experts make their determinations as to the actual existence of historical figures based on the material and evidence available; with different amounts of material and evidence being available in different cases(citation possibly needed, possibly not). In the case of historical figures where contemporary material is available for testing, techniques such as radiocarbon dating and fiber analysis can be used (citation). For example, in the cases of Tutankhamen and St Luke the Evangelist, physical remains such as bones and teeth are available for a wide variety of testing methods including radiocarbon dating and DNA analysis(citation)(citation). In the case of Jesus Christ, historical experts make their determinations through analysis of ancient writings such as those of Josephus and Tacitus(citation)."
Such a passage would not violate Wikipedia's policies on Original Research. Would you agree, Smeat75 and Rbreen? — Preceding unsigned comment added by Blackthorne2k (talkcontribs) 19:32, 19 June 2014 (UTC)
We really don't need that amount of detail, but I see nothing wrong with explaining that the process may involve assessing different sources (What's that about Luke the Evangelist, by the way? Has a body been found? Given that little is known about the identity of the author of the Luke Gospel - not even his or her name - I fail to see the relevance). But there is no reason not to point out that given the absence of physical evidence, the question of the existence of Jesus (not "Jesus Christ", please - that's a religious term) is assessed mainly by literary evidence (including the Gospels and especially the writings of Paul, which is surely a much more valuable source than Tacitus or Josephus). It should be made clear that those kinds of sources are the only ones for most people in the ancient world. Tutankhamun is a very rare exception. --Rbreen (talk) 00:08, 21 June 2014 (UTC)
I wouldn't say that Tut was a rare exception. We have ample "overwhelming" evidence for the existence in that time period of Herod, Tiberius, Vespasian, Titus and Josephus himself. Also Herodotus, Cleopatra, Alexander the Great etc etc etc, and even older people like the Ramesses dynasty and the Shang emperors of China. Their existence really is "as certain as anything historic can ever be." On the other hand, large characters for whom there are many stories but no "evidence" are regarded as legendary, such as King Arthur and Beowulf and Hercules. Jesus has left nothing behind, and is believed to have existed based on some self-contradicting cultic texts written by others, then much amended over time by persons with a massive POV and no hard evidence, plus a few passing mentions in three disputed third-party texts. That is what we need to clarify - the belief in a historical Jesus is based on fraud and rumour alone, with zero evidence, and those scholars who claim his historicity in "certain" are not being neutral. It's fine to say "most Bible scholars BELIEVE the texts are reasonably authentic", but in order to be neutral ourselves we should also mention on what these BELIEFS are based. Wdford (talk) 09:16, 21 June 2014 (UTC)
Rbreen, I'm happy to talk about the Luke issues with you, but Luke is not important to the point I'm making and I don't want the discussion to get off topic. We can use any of dozens of historical figures to achieve the same purpose. My point is that the article is misleading as it is. It gives the impression that the same degree of certainty is possible in the case of the actual existence of Jesus as with all historical figures. In order to be less misleading, I am proposing that we are clear about the amount of evidence that is available to be used by historical experts to make conclusions in this case; relative to other widely discussed historical figures. I'm not sure how you came to the conclusion that the amount of detail I'm suggesting is excessive. The article discusses the opinions of scholars ad nauseam. It would only take a modicum of text to make clear the relative amount of material those scholars used to make their determinations. To the question of Tut, I would agree that the case is exceptional in the sheer amount of material available, but there are plenty of cases of historical figures where contemporary material can be used to support conclusions of historicity. Again, I plan to make no qualitative statements about the amount of material used to make conclusions about the historicity of Jesus. My issue is with the quality of the article.Blackthorne2k (talk) 03:57, 22 June 2014 (UTC)
Luke is absolutely central to the point I am making because the point is that if we do not base the article of the consensus of opinions among scholars - whether or not we like or agree with the consensus - then we open the door to everyone rehashing every argument with their personal theories by saying, "Okay, whatever, the experts say this, but here's the evidence that shows they're wrong". That's a recipe for chaos and nonsense.--Rbreen (talk) 09:26, 22 June 2014 (UTC)
Having said that, if you can find a reliable source which outlines, in a neutral way, the degree to which the argument for the existence of Jesus is in line with that for other historical figures, I see no reason why it should not be cited. I'm not sure if such a source exists, but it would be useful.--Rbreen (talk) 09:53, 22 June 2014 (UTC)
Rbreen, firstly, please read this article about the different methods, including DNA analysis, that have been used by experts as the basis of conclusions about Luke. This will show you what I was talking about. I am not making the case that Luke's historicity has been determined with 100% certainty, but only that there were contemporary materials, or at least claimed contemporary materials, that could be tested by experts as part of the evidence on which they would base their conclusions. Please keep in mind that Luke was not important to the point that I was making. Any historical figure with contemporary physical material could be used in place. As of yet, you haven't responded to the point that I am making. No one suggested anything about saying anything remotely like "Okay, whatever, the experts say this, but here's the evidence that shows they're wrong". I made it very clear that I have no intention of making qualitative statements about the conclusions of experts or the amount of evidence used to make those conclusions. My intention is to make clear to the reader the type and amount of evidence available in this case, relative to cases of other widely discussed historical figures. In other words, we should be honest and clear about the amount of material and evidence available for experts to use in making conclusions about the actual existence of Jesus; relative to the amount of material and evidence available for experts to use in making conclusions about the actual existence of other widely discussed historical figures. All statements about the amount of evidence available for one historical figure or another can be easily sourced properly.
We can easily say, while staying well within Wikipedia policy, something like I said before:
"Historical experts make their determinations as to the actual existence of historical figures based on the material and evidence available; with different amounts of material and evidence being available in different cases(citation not needed). In the case of historical figures where contemporary material is available for testing, techniques such as radiocarbon dating and fiber analysis and even DNA analysis can be used (citation). For example, in the cases of Tutankhamen and St Luke the Evangelist, evidence such as personal possessions and even physical remains are available for a wide variety of testing methods including radiocarbon dating and DNA analysis; on which experts can base or contribute to their conclusions(citation)(citation). In the case of Jesus, historical experts make their determinations as to his actual existence through analysis of ancient writings(citation)."
That is nothing at all like "Okay, whatever, the experts say this, but here's the evidence that shows they're wrong". And before you bring up Luke as a reason to object to the whole paragraph, please keep in mind that we could replace Luke with any ancient historicity case where possessions, remains or other physical contemporary material is available. Also please be aware that we are making no judgements about what material is available, nor about the conclusions that may be drawn. We are only being clear about the amount of material available for experts to judge in this case relative to others. We don't need one singular source expressing that whole idea to make a proper contribution to the article. We only need to ensure that each statement made is properly sourced where needed.Blackthorne2k (talk) 01:20, 23 June 2014 (UTC)
The article you link to about the relic of "St Luke" quotes the scientist in charge as saying "there is no way to tell if it was the Evangelist Luke." All it shows it that is not impossible. Whereas the experts on ancient history say things like J D Crossan's "That (Jesus) was crucified is as sure as anything historical can ever be, since both Josephus and Tacitus... agree with the Christian accounts on at least that basic fact." It is really quite simple, the crucifixion of Jesus is as much a historical fact as any other, due to attestation in multiple documentary evidence.Smeat75 (talk) 01:51, 23 June 2014 (UTC)
Smeat, I'm not sure that you read my entire post. Please look at the line where I said "And before you bring up Luke as a reason to object to the whole paragraph, please keep in mind that we could replace Luke with any ancient historicity case where possessions, remains or other physical contemporary material is available." As to Crossan's statements, I am going to be starting a new thread addressing his statements in the near future. In the interest of avoiding clutter, I would like to discuss that matter there. I would still like to hear your input on the proposed language, assuming that we could replace Luke with another ancient figure (with testable contemporary material).Blackthorne2k (talk) 03:17, 23 June 2014 (UTC)
Okay, I have read the article about "St Luke" and I have finally stopped laughing out loud. Are you sure you're not a Christian apologist trolling us all? You quote a credulous article which proves that a body claimed to be that of the (probably legendary) "Saint Luke" is of someone who lived in the Middle East in the later Roman Empire. That narrows it down to about 20 million people. I can see what your problem is here. You think that physical evidence like bones and teeth are better evidence than literary sources like Josephus and the Gospels because these things are real, unlike the other stuff which is made up. I am an archivist so I am naturally more favourable to written sources but surely everyone knows that documentary records, no matter how compromised - and they all are, to some extent, but then that's the historian's skill, to get behind that - are better evidence precisely because they are constructed human sources, and unintentionally betray all sorts of useful information. That is how all the scholars whose conclusions you deride work. Now, if you want to talk about physical contemporary material for Jesus, I have a shroud I can sell you. I'll even throw in John the Baptist's head for free ...
--Rbreen (talk) 21:32, 23 June 2014 (UTC)
Rbreen, I'm going to have to ask you to stay professional here. Our tone should reflect the respect we have for Wikipedia. I'm sure you read when I said: "And before you bring up Luke as a reason to object to the whole paragraph, please keep in mind that we could replace Luke with any ancient historicity case where possessions, remains or other physical contemporary material is available." I'm perfectly willing to defer to your expertise on Luke. Besides, we are probably a lot closer in our views on the Luke article than you think. The only importance of the reference was that there were claimed pieces of physical, testable evidence that, even while unable to be disproved by modern scientific testing, didn't provide much certainty. I meant it to be in contrast to the (admittedly unusual) certainty in the case of Tut. I think it is fair to say that I have attempted in earnest to respond constructively to every concern you have raised, and it is only appropriate for everyone, including yourself, to respond in kind. I think we are coming toward a collaborative spirit below and we should all seek to maintain that. My religion is NOT relevant to the discussion and inappropriate to bring up, even tongue-in-cheek. Since you did bring it up, I'm happy to admit that I personally think there was very likely a Jesus of Nazareth and it would be positively unsurprising if he were also a spiritual leader and even crucified as the story goes. Perhaps even more, but that would be the jurisdiction of a different article.
I don't doubt your expertise as an archivist. I also don't want to undervalue historical documents nor the skill of the historian in drawing out the meaning and significance. That very skill, even art, is of tremendous value to our understanding of our own place in history. Furthermore, when someone of your expertise and experience reads this article, they will understand the methods that are used and what degree of certainty is even possible in this or any other case of historical actuality.
Wikipedia, however, is not a publication exclusively for expert archivists, scholars or historians. The vast majority of people who visit this article are going to be normal people and not experts. As such, they will not necessarily understand the context of the statements that are given, nor the actual message that the experts intend to express. As the article stands it gives the impression, perhaps more than the impression, that the same methods and level of certainty are possible in all questions of historical actuality. The reader needs well-known examples like Tut's exceptionally high levels of material and certainty, and Luke's low certainty in spite of tested material in order to understand a case like this; with material that is very plentiful in some senses and non-existent in others.Blackthorne2k (talk) 07:19, 24 June 2014 (UTC)

I am generally in support of Blackthorne2k’s proposed wording, and certainly of his/her objectives, and I propose that the final paragraph of the lead be reworded as follows:

Since the 18th century a number of quests for the historical Jesus have taken place, and historical critical methods for studying the historicity of Jesus have been developed. Unlike in cases such as Tutankhamun, where the actual body was found along with many artefacts, and the case of Octavian, where the ashes were lost but his existence is attested beyond doubt by a vast portfolio of works and records, the existence of Jesus can be assessed only by the study of literary works. In addition to various Biblical sources such as the Pauline Letters and the Synoptic Gospels, only three passages in non-Christian sources are available to scholars as support for the historicity of Jesus. These are two passages in the writings of the Jewish historian Josephus, and one passage in the writings of the Roman historian Tacitus. The authenticity of all three passages is disputed, but currently a majority of scholars believe that all three passages are at least partially authentic.

Comments please? Wdford (talk) 16:03, 23 June 2014 (UTC)

So, let me see: the existence of Octavius is beyond doubt, because even though there's no body, there's a "vast portfolio of works and records". Whereas with Jesus, there's no body, but there is a vast portfolio of works and records, which clearly puts his existence in serious doubt. I'm having difficulty following the logic there.
You are struggling to follow the logic because you are not being as neutral as you should be. There is no "vast portfolio of works and records" for Jesus. There are no works at all. There are four main Christian cultic texts, which happily contradict each other on virtually every important point. There are some cherry-picked letters ascribed to some "apostles", some of which even Bible scholars agree are forgeries, while other such "letters" were discarded because they didn't meet the POV. Then there are a mere three non-Christian texts, whose "evidence" is again disputed. There is a lot more "literary evidence" supporting the existence of Hercules or Krishna, but they are not considered to have been "real" by scholars (although they do of course have many believers.) Wdford (talk) 17:07, 24 June 2014 (UTC)
No, you're the one not being neutral here. Personally, I don't think there is a vast portfolio of works and records for either figure. There exist a variety of documentary sources for both, each of which yields useful information once the bias of the authors and the context of their creation can be taken into account. Your terminology shows your problems with neutrality: it is full of subjective value judgements marked out with scare quotes. You deny that the sources for Jesus are 'works'. Instead they're 'cultic texts' and 'cherry-picked letters'. These are your judgements. Who is to say what is a "work" and what is "cherry-picked"? Do you think Suetonius and Tacitus subjected their work to peer review? These sorts of appraisals are best left to the experts. Which is why we cite experts in the text and not the evidence - or "evidence". That's where it becomes original research. Which is what I have been saying all the time. --Rbreen (talk) 21:28, 24 June 2014 (UTC)
You completely misunderstand what I mean by "works". When I used the word above I was referring to stuff they actually built that we can still see today, not to books. Herod the Great built many structures that survive today (see Herodian architecture), Octavian built an entire empire whose structures are still evident, Jesus built nothing. Herod the Great’s family tree is widely documented and understood, Octavian’s family tree is widely documented and understood, Jesus’ family tree is unknown except for the two genealogies in the gospels, and these genealogies contradict each other to a large degree. Herod the Great’s life and deeds are thoroughly documented in 3rd-party texts, Octavian’s life and deeds are thoroughly documented in 3rd-party texts, Jesus’ life and deeds are sketchily documented in the gospels – which contradict each other on major points – as well as three disputed passing mentions in 3rd-party texts.
Herod the Great’s existence is certain beyond doubt, based on overwhelming evidence. Octavian’s existence is certain beyond doubt, based on overwhelming evidence. Jesus’ existence is no better documented than Hercules, and less well documented than that of Krishna and Harry Potter. The current canon of the Bible is known to have been selected from a larger collection of possible content, and other letters and manuscripts that gave contradicting messages were left out, declared heretical and burned – this cherry-picking is not disputed. Suetonius and Tacitus may or may not have subjected their work to peer review – they very possibly did.
I understand that some scholars believe Jesus’ existence is "as certain as anything could be", but this is patently wrong. This is not my WP:OR, since a range of scholars have made that same comment – and Carrier etc continue in that belief as we speak. Now we can repeat the endless debate over whose scholarly credentials entitle them to speak on the matter, or we can just clarify on what evidence these scholars base their conclusions, and let the readers understand it properly. I agree with your suggested paragraph below – let’s focus on that. Wdford (talk) 17:52, 25 June 2014 (UTC)
I understand that some scholars believe Jesus’ existence is "as certain as anything could be", but this is patently wrong.Wdford you keep repeating on this talk page that emeritus professors of classics and leading ancient historians are "patently wrong", issue "ridiculous" statements, base their conclusions on "fraud and rumour" and so on. Please see WP:NOTFORUM, that is not what talk pages are for, and I am going to ask at WP:BLPN if it is a violation of policy on WP:BLP.Smeat75 (talk) 19:55, 25 June 2014 (UTC)
I have raised the question here [21].Smeat75 (talk) 19:58, 25 June 2014 (UTC)
Since the 18th century a number of quests for the historical Jesus have taken place, and historical critical methods for studying the historicity of Jesus have been developed. Unlike some figures in ancient history, the available sources are all documentary. In addition to various Biblical sources such as the Pauline Letters and the Synoptic Gospels, three passages in non-Christian works have been used to support the historicity of Jesus. These are two passages in the writings of the Jewish historian Josephus, and one from the Roman historian Tacitus. Although these have been disputed, most scholars believe that all are at least partially authentic.[Citation]
Works for me. --Rbreen (talk) 21:32, 23 June 2014 (UTC)
Response to WDford above- the authenticity of the Tacitus passage is not disputed. A very few scholars questioned its authenticity a hundred years ago or so, but not any more. Its value is sometimes questioned because since ancient historians did not discuss their sources, it might merely be hearsay. Then again, it might not. And WP could not say "the existence of Jesus can be assessed only by the study of literary works" as though there is something unusual about that, not at all, what is unusual about the case of Jesus is that there is so much documentary evidence, in the word of the Emeritus professor of classics quoted in the article, it is "overwhelming".Smeat75 (talk) 04:19, 24 June 2014 (UTC)
WDford, I think that your proposed passage is a step in the right direction, but I would prefer you nixed the "beyond a doubt" language. Rbreen, I addressed the Tut reference in my reply to your remarks above, but I do think that we are moving toward a workable collaboration.Blackthorne2k (talk) 09:41, 24 June 2014 (UTC)

A few points One I remember reading some years ago (I can try to find the source if required) that our first documentary evidence of Alexander the Great is 400 years after the fact but no one seems to disbute his existence. And there are more than a few times the internal list of leaders of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church disagrees dramatically with independent historical accounts for unknown reasons. It is I think not unreasonable to say in these cases the comparative lack of contemporary historical documentation isn't what Western scholars are used to but is on a par with several similar cases like Pontius Pilate for the academics in that particular field to find as "compelling evidence" or some similar phrase. John Carter (talk) 21:11, 25 June 2014 (UTC)

John Carter, My goal is to make it clear to the average reader what methods of testing and verification are possible in this case relative to other well known cases. As it stands, I believe that the article lacks the language to give the average reader the context necessary to understand the intent of the individuals who are quoted. So far, I haven't heard anything substantive in terms of why that would be inappropriate.
I'm not sure if I understand entirely what you are proposing, but I think that explaining what academics in various fields say is "compelling evidence" would be a good strategy only if there was some explanation as to that field's criteria for "compelling evidence". Otherwise, the ordinary reader would not have the context to understand the spirit of the quote.Blackthorne2k (talk) 01:44, 27 June 2014 (UTC)
Historical methodology is not within the scope of this article. In my opinion, providing a link to the historical method would be appropriate. Bill the Cat 7 (talk) 13:59, 27 June 2014 (UTC)
Agree with Bill. The historical methodology used in this instance is SFAIK not unique to this instance and probably doesn't bear much coverage as per WP:WEIGHT unless specific evidence to the contrary is presented. Having said that one or more of the sometimes huge reference books on this broad topic might have content and references to support a stand-alone article on the topic of the historical methodology of Jesus and/or the NT era and it might be worthwhile to check them.John Carter (talk) 15:08, 27 June 2014 (UTC)
The comparison with Alexander the Great is quite instructive. Even for a military leader who conquered the entire known world, there are only a few inscriptions, a couple of references in royal archives and fragments of eyewitness reports from his own lifetime. Almost everything known about him comes from books written hundreds of years later. An itinerant prophet in an obscure province who had been put to death as a trouble maker by the Roman authorities would not have had monuments or inscriptions put up to him, and Roman historians would have had no interest in such a person. Historical methodology says " If a number of independent sources contain the same message, the credibility of the message is strongly increased" and that is even more true for ancient history than modern as such multiple independent attestation as the crucifixion as exists from the Gospels, Tacitus and Josephus is exceedingly rare for an event from antiquity, which is why anyone who knows anything about it says things like "overwhelming" documentary evidence.Smeat75 (talk) 17:21, 27 June 2014 (UTC)
I am not making reference to a minority viewpoint so I think we are clear in terms of "coverage as per WP:WEIGHT". My intention is, in the interest of making steps toward resolving the dispute that is the subject of this thread, to provide a small amount of information about the types of methodology used so that the average reader can properly understand the context and intention of the quotes. There are plenty of articles with a small section that may overlap another article and is not necessarily unique to a given instance.Blackthorne2k (talk) 09:42, 9 July 2014 (UTC)
All of the above is perfectly true. However in order to be neutral, we should also mention that the authenticity of all this "overwhelming evidence" has been challenged. That's all we are trying to achieve here. I am not aware that the authenticity of the writings or monuments of Herod or Octavian has been challenged? Wdford (talk) 11:20, 28 June 2014 (UTC)

Smeat75, Re-reading your post above from June 27th, I think that you touched on a couple of important points: Firstly, that the number of sources and their independence can contribute to, or presumably withdraw from, the credibility of a message. I think that this is very much in line with my suggestions about degrees of certainty. You mentioned Alexander the Great as a well known example by which people could have a reference point to understand the degree credibility or certainty in this case. Are you opposed to using a similar technique in this article to give the average reader a reference point for the level of credibility or certainty present or possible in this case? Secondly, you mentioned language like "overwhelming" coming from experts who are describing the documentary evidence. My concern is that the article is not clear that those experts are making those judgements relative to other cases that are determined solely through documentary evidence. When the average person reads a quote like "That (Jesus) was crucified is as sure as anything historical can ever be", they do not have enough information to understand that Crossan is not talking about surety in the same sense as a case of historicity where there are additional types of evidence available. He clearly is not intending to say that the historicity of the crucifixion of Jesus is as sure as the Battle of Gettysburg. We all know that those are very different questions, but the wording of the article would suggest otherwise. Whether or not you agree, can you understand what I am getting at, and do you have any ideas that could add to the clarity with which I am concerned? Thank you.Blackthorne2k (talk) 01:30, 25 July 2014 (UTC)

I am not entirely sure that I do understand what you are getting at, but all I can say is that you need reliable sources to add material to the article. I can compare the evidence for Jesus' existence to Alexander the Great's here on this talk page but I couldn't do it in the article space because I am not a reliable source. If you can find a reliable source that clarifies the material in the way you would like it can be summarised in the article.Smeat75 (talk) 12:50, 25 July 2014 (UTC)
  • Re: "You may remove the template if...There is consensus on the talkpage or the NPOV Noticeboard that the issue has been resolved." Obviously it would have to be the NPOV noticeboard, since there'll never be consensus on anything on this talk page. As WP:ANRFC for a formal closure, if necessary.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  12:39, 4 August 2014 (UTC)

Author doesn't understand what he posted is not Historicity, But is the history of Jesus according to folklore. The article is incorrect. I'll explain.

Historicity is a noun (Person, place or thing) Websters dictionary describes it as "historical actuality". Oxford dictionary describes it as "the historicity of bible narrative".

The author is confusing fact and fiction and is grouping reading material that is clearly fiction as fact. It goes wrong from the very first sentence where it says "The historicity of Jesus concerns the analysis of historical evidence..." Then cites sources from scholars and bible reference to validate the statements made. Biblical sources of evidence does not mean it is historically accurate as Websters dictionary defines it. Using biblical sources of information for the Historicity of Jesus in this method is as Oxford defines is "the historicity of bible narrative".

Therefore the article in itself is misleading from the first sentence, Either the author is a christian and assumes the bible is correct for this article or the author misunderstands the meaning the word evidence versus the word faith.

I recommend

A) Change name of topic to "Historicity of Jesus according to bible narrative" B) Delete this article and add any needed changes to the history of Jesus wikipage C) Just delete the article. D) Delete and use sources of information that can be deemed historically accurate outside the bible and rewrite it. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:24, 4 August 2014 (UTC)

Oh boy, I don't know how I missed that. I'll go ahead and delete this article right away. While I'm at it, would you like me to delete any other articles? OK - maybe not.
If you'd like to help improve this article, you're going to need to do some more homework, and try to build consensus for change. It ain't easy. But your help would be welcomed. Fearofreprisal (talk) 02:06, 5 August 2014 (UTC)
As it stands this article is about "Historicity of Jesus according to Historical-Critical Biblical Exegesis". I believe that past editors seeking to make changes perceived the scope as far greater then the content would suggest. To be inclusive of the diverse views that readers themselves hold on this matter from faith-based to space alien fringe crazy is a reflection of the real world of belief and the social sciences. All these views have meaning -even those that most would find ridiculous. It's also a matter of perspective. Many different types of scholars of history, philosophy etc.. would think this article is already fringe. As it stands the current material offends everyone, except for a single narrowly defined scholarly community. However, the material is also perfectly respectable as far as it pertains to biblical exegesis. That's a valued perspective, and it should not be removed. But the exclusion of other authorities and knowledge claims is unacceptable. --IseeEwe (talk) 02:13, 5 August 2014 (UTC)
Theology should be rendered when notable, but it does not aim to establish objective facts, but just subjective beliefs to be affirmed by a certain church. Judging by the amount of study devoted by those who aren't Bible scholars to writing about the historicity of Jesus, we may say that as a rule of thumb they don't give a rat's ass for doing scholarship on this issue. So this leaves us with the problem that the only scholarly community who cares about the historicity of Jesus are the Bible scholars. You ask why other scholars aren't included. It is because they do not give a rat's ass about the problem. Besides, Wikipedia does not state the views those who believe to be contacted by space aliens as fact or having equal validity with scholarship, when it writes about them it obeys WP:FRIND and states in big shinny letters that they are fringe views. Tgeorgescu (talk) 00:16, 6 August 2014 (UTC)

Misused reliable sources and completely irrelevant polemics in the removed edits

In these removed edits, there are a number of good sources cited for claims they do not make.

Ian.thomson (talk) 17:37, 4 August 2014 (UTC)

Whatever. I accept that you are unable to understand 21st century approaches to critical theory -as dumbed down as I wrote them. My complaint and request for dispute resolution is not about your references. I can pull yours to pieces as epistemologically flawed from their fundamentals. My dispute is about the systematic and purposeful exclusion of the views of multiple WP editors over many months, and the rejection of the views of scholars outside of theologically based biblical exegesis. The article is labelled as having a non neutral point of view, as noted at the top of the Talk page. It has been repeatedly challenged as far back as you check the archived talk pages. This is pure academic deceit of the worst sort. AFTER this is moderated and resolved, then we can layer into the article the relevant perspectives, and debate the references in each for their value and weighting. --IseeEwe (talk) 01:52, 5 August 2014 (UTC)
"I accept that you are unable to understand" -- After all your complaining about personal attacks, you come out with that? Hypocrite.
Read WP:No original research. If you're not directly paraphrasing or summarizing a cited work, don't add it.
Your addition unacceptably misrepresented sources to give undue importance to what you believe.
The dispute was instigated by your POV-pushing. Yes, the article wasn't perfect before, but your misuse of sources was not an improvement. Ian.thomson (talk) 11:58, 5 August 2014 (UTC)
Do you think that I will stand here and allow you to do to me what you did earlier, and have done to others in the current discussions, and that the other editors in this cabal have done in the past to perfectly acceptable recommendations from others. You are all over the map. You lunge from ignoring comments, to personal attack, to lies, to snap reversions, to misrepresentation, to refusing to engage, toWP:lawyering, to semantics and back again. Do you really think I will let you attack on your own terms without responding? Get real. You and your cohort have dominated and bullied editors here for months. This is going to Mediation for content, and I am dragging everyone of you to ANI, as recommended by the DRN coordinator. This article is not owned by you and needs to be freed from your arrogance and disdain for the views of others. --IseeEwe (talk) 23:58, 5 August 2014 (UTC)
The problem is rather simple: your edits are either verifiable or unverifiable, those sources either explicitly discuss the historicity of Jesus or they don't. These matters can be quickly evaluated by anyone who has access to an university library. If it turns out that you have indulged in original research and created this huge fuss around it I will propose a topic ban for all history, theology and religion articles. Again, it is not me who says that you did that, but in the case you did it, you have completely misbehaved. In the case that these allegations turn out to be false, it is Ian.thomson who completely misbehaved. But you both cannot be right at the same time. Tgeorgescu (talk) 00:42, 6 August 2014 (UTC)
There's a reason I tried to include links to the texts where legally available. If I'm mistaken, quotes would dig someone's hole deeper. Ian.thomson (talk) 02:28, 6 August 2014 (UTC)


Jimmy Wales stated, "We need to maintain and improve our quality standards, while at the same time remaining open, friendly, and welcoming as a community. This is a challenge."[22] Wikipedia's co-founder Larry Sanger characterizes the Wikipedia community as ineffective and abusive, stating that "The community does not enforce its own rules effectively or consistently. Consequently, administrators and ordinary participants alike are able essentially to act abusively with impunity, which begets a never-ending cycle of abuse." [23] Oliver Kamm, of The Times expressed skepticism toward Wikipedia's reliance on consensus in forming its content: "Wikipedia seeks not truth but consensus, and like an interminable political meeting the end result will be dominated by the loudest and most persistent voices."[ Wisdom? More like dumbness of the crowds] )Author’s own copy) The complaints related to the community include the effects of users' anonymity, the attitudes towards newcomers, the abuse of privileges by administrators, biases in the social structure of the community, in particular, gender bias and lack of female contributors [24] Sounds like they are talking about this article. Good thing some of us are loud and persistent in our calls for neutrality and balance. --IseeEwe (talk) 04:25, 6 August 2014 (UTC)

Self-satisfaction is not a particularly charming trait. None of this has anything whatever to do with this article (what on earth has gender bias got to do with the historicity of Jesus?). In the potentially relevant passages, your opponents could have trotted out exactly the same quotations, so it's utterly pointless. Please don't add ref tags to the talk page, it messes up the legibility. Use bracketed links. Paul B (talk) 10:57, 6 August 2014 (UTC)

Analysis of historical evidence

The lead says this article concerns "the analysis of historical evidence to determine whether Jesus of Nazareth existed as a historical figure, and whether any of the major milestones in his life as portrayed in the gospels can be confirmed as historical events."

And, that brings me to this paragraph in the lead:

Most modern scholars of antiquity agree that Jesus existed,[5][7][8] but scholars differ on the historicity of specific episodes described in the Biblical accounts,[12] and the only two events subject to "almost universal assent" are that Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist and was crucified by the order of the Roman Prefect Pontius Pilate.[9][10][11] There is a significant debate about his nature, his actions and his sayings, but most scholars agree that Jesus was a Galilean Jew who was born between 7-4BC and died 30–36 AD,[13][14][15] that he lived in Galilee and Judea and did not preach or study elsewhere,[16][17][18] and that he spoke Aramaic and perhaps also Hebrew and Greek, although this has been disputed.[19][20][21][22]

Nothing in this paragraph has anything to do with the analysis of historical evidence. It's merely meta-statements. It says that "most" scholars (whoever they may be) agree about some things. Not very helpful.

The paragraph seems to exist in the lead merely to establish a POV that mitigates any individual analyses of historical evidence. It's largely copied (both text and citations) from other somewhat related articles, and is out of place here. So I'm removing it. Fearofreprisal (talk) 10:22, 16 July 2014 (UTC)

That paragraph summarizes the scholarly consensus and its strength on various historicity issues, in line with WP:RSAC. In short, it summarizes the results of that "analysis of historical evidence", as performed by the experts. And yes, it presents a point of view, the point of view taken by the vast majority of scholars, fully in line with WP:NPOV. For comparison, the lead of the global warming article similarly summarizies the academic consensus. "Not very helpful" amouts to WP:IDONTLIKEIT and is not a valid reason for the removal of relevant, well-sourced content. I'll restore it. Huon (talk) 20:58, 16 July 2014 (UTC)
Mmeijeri did before I could. Huon (talk) 20:59, 16 July 2014 (UTC)

This article is not concerned with the consensus of whether Jesus actually existed, or whether the events portrayed in the gospels actually occurred. It is concerned only with "the analysis of historical evidence to determine whether Jesus of Nazareth existed as a historical figure, and whether any of the major milestones in his life as portrayed in the gospels can be confirmed as historical events."

The truth is, hundreds of millions of people believe Jesus existed, and the episodes in the gospels occurred, irrespective of historical evidence. So, a statement that "most scholars agree" that Jesus existed is not surprising, but it has no real relevance here.

So, let's look at that paragraph again:

Most modern scholars of antiquity agree that Jesus existed...

No analysis here -- just opinion. And there's no indication that the these scholars came to their belief based on analysis of historical evidence, or based on faith. (A hint might be found in the opinions by the cited sources that scholars who disagree with them are not "competent", "serious", or "respectable." Disparagement of differing opinions raises a big red flag regarding reliability.)

...but scholars differ on the historicity of specific episodes described in the Biblical accounts...

Not a very enlightening statement.

...and the only two events subject to "almost universal assent" are that Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist and was crucified by the order of the Roman Prefect Pontius Pilate.

There is discussion of this subject matter in the body of the article, but this sentence does not present an NPOV summary. Should be fixed or removed from the lead.

...There is a significant debate about his nature, his actions and his sayings...

That's not relevant to this article. It goes in the Historical Jesus article.

...but most scholars agree that Jesus was a Galilean Jew who was born between 7-4BC and died 30–36 AD, that he lived in Galilee and Judea and did not preach or study elsewhere, and that he spoke Aramaic and perhaps also Hebrew and Greek, although this has been disputed.

Again, this is a summary of majority opinion, providing no analysis. This sentence provides no historical evidence to confirm these claims as historical events. There is limited further discussion of this subject matter in the body (for example, no discussion of Aramaic.) This should be either removed from the lead, or moved to the body, and expanded with actual analysis and evidence.

I'm going to let this comment sit for a day, to see if there's further discussion. The paragraph can be rewritten, though there's not much that's salvageable. Fearofreprisal (talk) 11:27, 17 July 2014 (UTC)

WP is a collaborative effort and it is not up to one editor to decide what is relevant, "salvageable" or "enlightening". The lead summarizes the rest of the article. You say:"(A hint might be found in the opinions by the cited sources that scholars who disagree with them are not "competent", "serious", or "respectable." Disparagement of differing opinions raises a big red flag regarding reliability.)" That is completely wrong, we do not as WP editors decide whether something is from a reliable source on the basis of whether we like it or not or think it is rude or something. Reliable sources = for instance, a holder of an academic position writing on his field, a book published by Oxford University Press or other academic press, an academic journal, the New York Times or The Guardian. Unreliable source = for instance, a self-published book, an entry on a personal blog, an article in a tabloid newspaper.Smeat75 (talk) 12:13, 17 July 2014 (UTC)
Smeat75: No, I'm not wrong. But, here's a thought: Why not focus on improving the article? Fearofreprisal (talk) 19:14, 18 July 2014 (UTC)

I agree that the paragraph in question needs a rewrite. The first nine-word statement of fact, "Most modern scholars of antiquity agree that Jesus existed", is not appropriately supported by the three sources given. The authors quoted are clearly intending to make a statement of personal opinion based on their experiences and recollection; rather than a statement of fact based on empirical research. This is not to say that their opinion is not valid or valuable, but that the wording should be clear that the quotes are anecdotal statements of opinion; not conclusions based on quantifiable or repeatable methodology. Furthermore, the three quotes are from popular titles. They would likely sit in the Religion/Spirituality section of book stores and are more infotainment than academic works. This doesn't mean that the author isn't qualified or information within isn't valid. Lots of very qualified scholars write infotainment at some point in their careers. However, the quotes should not be presented as if they are from academic works that had to withstand peer review prior to publishing.Blackthorne2k (talk) 05:30, 18 July 2014 (UTC)

Please see WP:RS:Reliable sources may be published materials with a reliable publication process, authors who are regarded as authoritative in relation to the subject, or both There is no one more authoritative in the field of the New Testament and its relation to history than Bart Ehrman or classical studies (ie ancient Greece and Rome including the Roman empire which included Jerusalem in Jesus' lifetime) than Michael Grant. It doesn't matter where those authorities made those statements (and both of those books, which I have actually read more than once, are far from "infotainment", that is insulting). I would not object to the statement being attributed to Ehrman, the foremost authority of today: "According to historian Bart Ehrman, virtually every modern scholar of antiquity agrees that Jesus existed". The other editor says above "there's no indication that the these scholars came to their belief based on analysis of historical evidence, or based on faith." That is not true, Ehrman and Grant did not/ do not have any "faith" and based everything they wrote on historical evidence, that is also insulting.Smeat75 (talk) 18:12, 18 July 2014 (UTC)
Smeat75: I won't dispute the reliability of Ehrman or Grant within their fields of study, but I've seen no evidence that any person cited in this article is a reliable source for determining whether other sources are "competent", "serious", or "respectable." As for your proposed statement: From what I can tell, this article isn't about opinions on whether Jesus existed. If you think I'm wrong, I'm sure you'll tell me. Fearofreprisal (talk) 19:14, 18 July 2014 (UTC)
We seem to be going round and round on this one, with Blackthorne2k and Fearofreprisal seeking to shift the goalposts until they can manage to exclude the simple, plain fact that - as far as anyone can reasonably ascertain - the clear consensus among scholars of the ancient era is that Jesus was an actual person. When clear evidence is presented of this, we are told that the actual sources contradict the expert view, that they are not appropriate scholars, that their views are 'infotainment', it's just personal opinion, that no scientific study has been done, etc., etc. We have good - certainly not perfect, but in Wikipedia we do not let the perfect be the enemy of the good - evidence that the overwhelming scholarly view is that Jesus existed. We have not the slightest piece of evidence that there exists a substantial body of scholarship that disputes this view - not even personal opinion or infotainment in support. The desperate need some editors have to get around the inconvenient evidence - which happens to contradict their personal opinions - is tiresome, and there seems no good reason why Wikipedia should indulge them. But, of course, that's just my personal opinion. --Rbreen (talk) 22:31, 18 July 2014 (UTC)
Rbreen: Are you suggesting that this article is about opinions on whether Jesus existed? If so, then it should probably be renamed. Fearofreprisal (talk) 19:24, 19 July 2014 (UTC)
What we have are the points of view of our reliable sources, then we summarize those. That's actually all that we are allowed to do, per WP:V. That's true for any article. Every article is supposed to cover just the points of view that experts for the topic affirm (one might say "opinion" in place of "point of view", but "opinion" has a specific meaning in WP:NPOV). So that "Most modern scholars of antiquity agree that Jesus existed" is one point of view which a significant set of reliable sources affirm in their discussions of the historicity of Jesus. And because no significant set of reliable sources contradict this point of view, that means we assert directly per WP:ASSERT. --Atethnekos (DiscussionContributions) 20:33, 19 July 2014 (UTC)
Atethnekos, This issue is about WP:SCOPE, not WP:NPOV. Conclusory statements regarding Jesus' existence are out of scope. Fearofreprisal (talk) 19:59, 20 July 2014 (UTC)
That's simply false. The concept of a conclusory statement is not part of any policy or guideline. Any statements, including conclusory statements, may potentially be supported by reliable sources and therefore included in the encyclopedia according to NPOV. --Atethnekos (DiscussionContributions) 20:08, 20 July 2014 (UTC)
Possibly you could explain your understanding of the scope of this article? Fearofreprisal (talk) 07:05, 22 July 2014 (UTC)
The topic is the historicity of Jesus. So the scope would be: claims made according to WP:NPOV of the sort which are included in the reliable sources for that topic. The one issue is technical space, where if the article is too long for technical reasons, sub-topics can be kept in sub-articles, in which case the main article would merely link to it and summarize it if desirable. For example we do that with Sources for the historicity of Jesus. --Atethnekos (DiscussionContributions) 08:07, 22 July 2014 (UTC)
Rbreen, It's good to have you back. I'm still waiting on your response to my last post on June 24th addressing your concerns about the relative amounts of material (Tut, Luke, historian's skill, etc.). I actually thought we were working our way towards some common ground and mutual understanding. Furthermore, I'm going to have to ask you again to maintain a constructive tone. There is no desperation here and no one is "moving goalposts". My concern is with the clarity and quality of the article as well as the propriety of the sources relative to the statements made. It would not surprise me if there were sources that justified the claim I mentioned above. The problem is that the sources provided do not. I think you could take a cue from Smeat75. While Smeat may disagree with me, he is maintaining a mature and constructive tone. In spite of the difference of opinion, Smeat understood what I was getting at and offered a constructive solution. That is how we work at Wikipedia.
Back to the sources. "Infotainment" is not a pejorative. There can be a fantastic amount of good information in popular titles that people read for entertainment, like the three books mentioned above. The point is that they are not academic titles and are not subject to peer review or editorial oversight the sense that a textbook or journal would be. I don't doubt the qualification of the authors, nor the truth of the claim, but those specific works would not be reliable enough to support such a direct statement. The "(Author) says..." format that Smeat75 suggested would be more appropriate for such a title. Beyond that, the quotes don't intend to convey that those conclusions are the result of empirical methods. I would like to suggest something like: "The eminent scholars Ehrman, Grant and Burridge have said that the majority of scholars in their field agree that Jesus existed." Is that so terrible, folks?Blackthorne2k (talk) 04:48, 20 July 2014 (UTC)
So can I assume that no one is opposed to the wording change I suggested immediately above?Blackthorne2k (talk) 11:33, 4 August 2014 (UTC)
Eminent is a WP:PEACOCK term. Martijn Meijering (talk) 11:50, 4 August 2014 (UTC)
Blackthorne2k - your proposed wording change doesn't accurately represent the citations, or their context. Fearofreprisal (talk) 12:31, 4 August 2014 (UTC)
My goal is to move from the statement of fact that "Most modern scholars of antiquity agree that Jesus existed" to an "(Author) says...." format. The three quotes used as sources are not appropriate to support a plain statement of fact. If we can't agree on the "(Author) says...." wording, then we should just delete the line until we come up with something better.Blackthorne2k (talk) 19:03, 6 August 2014 (UTC)


Edits Suggested, References, Dispute Resolution

I have made an edit, fully referenced, inclusive of opinions from outside of biblical studies from valid and well-respected academics who are experts in their fields. I have not attempted to change one single word of the current article. I have provided value add to the reader about the diversity of scholarly opinions in this area. These scholarly opinions also represent a value add to biblical scholarship in that they assist it to understand its failings, gaps, errors and methodological problems. The edits provided do not disparage the biblical study approach to the topic, nor do they attack it. They critique it, and provide additional reference points from a broader set of interested scholars. The comments above and around this matter, and the revert comments, do not address any of the pertinent matters raised, and there has been no discussion here in the Talk page of the material. I have experienced only snide comments, accusations, disengagement and refusal. Vocal members of this editorial group assumes bad faith and use only one POV. I have requested external review Wikipedia:Requests for comment from third party uninvolved editors. I have asked that the suggested edit be left until their review and comments are considered. This has been subverted. I have now requested moderated dispute resolution Wikipedia:Dispute resolution noticeboard. --IseeEwe (talk) 20:44, 3 August 2014 (UTC)

Requesting Dispute resolution only hours after a proposed Bold edit was reverted seems unreasonable to me. Martijn Meijering (talk) 23:15, 3 August 2014 (UTC)
Refusing to discuss, casting aspersions, mean spirited commentary, rudeness and fiat decisions is what is unreasonable. --IseeEwe (talk) 23:59, 3 August 2014 (UTC)
Your suggestion that I'm one of several "haters" who oppose any efforts to address the issue of bias is utterly preposterous. If you check my posting history you'll see that I've long been very critical of religious bias in several articles relating to Christianity. Martijn Meijering (talk) 03:16, 4 August 2014 (UTC)
You immediately called me a sock puppet and did not communicate with me at all. Content matters aside, this editorial group, and I include you, is extremely introverted, rude and self-important, and has a long history of killing off new ideas and the opinions of others. --IseeEwe (talk) 03:50, 4 August 2014 (UTC)
Making a bold edit that everyone made clear is against consensus also seems unreasonable. As does placing the responsibility of establishing consensus to remove the material on the editors who already established said consensus. Ian.thomson (talk) 23:18, 3 August 2014 (UTC)
Bold edits have been made many times here, and then deleted by fiat. Who is everyone? You and 4 others? I have seen months of discussion about this. People with different data try to make a change and the same people keep deleting it, and then come together to hold off the "interloper". This is a cabal, which seems to be largely composed of very passionate loyal followers of a single school of Protestant theology-informed biblical exegesis. To claim that that is the full extent of the academic debate is ludicrous. I reviewed many of the citations in this article (they exist for a reason you know, they are not decorative). Every single one I examined is a Protestant, American theologian trained in biblical exegesis. This article and this discussion needs external, unbiased, moderation and possibly even some level of direct intervention. Discussion within the framework of those who have created this monstrously biased page is apparently useless. --IseeEwe (talk) 23:56, 3 August 2014 (UTC)
Not everyone is completely against the new version. I support it also. The article is tagged NPOV since October and this new version addresses that issue. Ignoring historian, archaeology and anthropology academics from outside the biblical historian field is a flaw in the article leading to the NPOV tagging. Alatari (talk) 01:03, 4 August 2014 (UTC)
I'll amend that. I support investigating the 14 new sources and reevaluating if they go towards resolving the long standing NPOV tag. The final section would need massive rehashing. Alatari (talk) 01:25, 4 August 2014 (UTC)
I just checked Trigger's A History of Archaeological Thought, and p. 72 is misrepresented to an absurd degree. It does not deal with "biblical scholars trained in a combination of biblical exegesis, theology, art history, ancient languages, and or history", as claimed in the first paragraph of IseeEwe's "Diverse Opinions of the Investigation of Jesus as a Historical Figure" section; rather, it deals with "European antiquarians" of the 15th-18th century. Not really a comment on anything resembling modern scholarship. I haven't checked the other references, but this does not bode well. Huon (talk) 02:33, 4 August 2014 (UTC)
Nice try. The comment pertains specifically to classical archaeology and antiquarianism, and as you would see from reading the book is applied to much of the current approach of NT scholarship and other so-called "historical" approaches, which scholars like Trigger and others profoundly critique. Personally, I find it fascinating that 18th century classicism and antiquarianism still resonate within NT scholarship. Why so vague you ask?: that would be because the citation is to a concept. Unlike NT scholars, many other disciplines, like archaeology and the philosophy of science, don't run around quoting each other's sentences, and arguing over whether or not it is an "i" or an "e". Citations are used to reference the ideas of others, and to give them credit. This is precisely why this article is a problem -it considers only text-based approaches valid. --IseeEwe (talk) 02:49, 4 August 2014 (UTC)
Let me see if I understand you correctly: You're saying it's entirely appropriate to take a page talking about the opinion of antiquarians and archaeologists of the 15th-18th century and cite it for the current opinion of biblical scholars? I'd call that a WP:SYN violation at best. If Trigger explicitly says that current biblical scholars still adhere to the same basic tenets, why didn't you cite that page? Where does Trigger say so? Huon (talk) 03:11, 4 August 2014 (UTC)
I agree here. This will be simpler if we list all 14 sources, link them for viewing and add a sentence to why the source is relevant. WP:SYN is clear that if the source doesn't reach a conclusion about the topic at hand then we can't use it. It becomes WP:OR for us to apply work that doesn't at least cursorily discuss biblical archaeology. If the source is criticizing paradigm and research methods then it needs to refer to archaeology and historical work related to the bible ^Alatari (talk) 03:42, 4 August 2014 (UTC)

Let me see if I understand you Huon? Protestant scholars trained in theology in the US have exclusive expert authority about every single discipline (linguistics, archaeology, history, critical theory, ancient languages, exegesis, etc.) where they touch upon the historicity of Jesus. Do I understand you correctly? This is madness. I will not debate academia, scholarship or sources with you. My resort to dispute resolution is about this little cabal taking the piss out of every editor over the last 6 months trying to add value to this article. Once this little nightmare is sorted out, then we can have a proper discussion without abusing, pushing away or attacking the goodwill and integrity of every single interested editor Alatari, Fearofreprisal, Wdford, Tgeorgescu, Blackthorne2k, Wickorama, Woerkilt, Themoother, Sparkveela, Lyingforjebus, BaSH PR0MPT, Edit Centric, Spirit469, Saddhiyamawho who has shown up at this page over the last several months and suffered at the hands of your abusive gang of ill-tempered dilettantes. --IseeEwe (talk) 03:46, 4 August 2014 (UTC)

So your reply to asking you for a specific source for the claims you added to the article is personal attacks? No, you didn't understand me correctly, and I somehow doubt you can supply a diff where I suggest that only scholars with a specific national or religious background should be considered. You may want to take a look at WP:BOOMERANG. Huon (talk) 09:40, 4 August 2014 (UTC)
Literally dozen of respected scholars have been cited by me and others in their contributions. No matter the source, no matter the field, they are rejected out of hand. This is bias of the worst sort -cynical, blind and angry. The "field" of study and the conditions of engagement will not be set on your terms. This article should include all perspectives: from faith-based to scientific. You can not make a claim to final authority. --IseeEwe (talk) 16:22, 4 August 2014 (UTC)
Well, I cannot say that I suffered abuse here. About Bible scholars and archeology not being upon the same page I know a source: Israel Finkelstein's bestsellers. But even he admits that they should join forces and relies himself upon Bible scholarship. Otherwise, WP:VER is not negotiable, either your sources say what you claim they say, or they don't. Tgeorgescu (talk) 11:59, 4 August 2014 (UTC)
In my field, archaeology, most people don't even talk about it because it is considered so fundamentally fringe. No trained archaeologist would sign off on the comments in this article, ever. They are not evidence based -they are considered thought games. The point of my request is to expand the very narrow framework in which this discussion is being placed. Authority over the discussion and contents of this article can not reside within on academic paradigm. To this group of editors the citations do not matter -they are systematically dismissed for any number of made up reasons. --IseeEwe (talk) 16:22, 4 August 2014 (UTC)
So, what kind of archaeological evidence there could possibly by about the existence of Jesus? To this date there isn't any and likely there will never be such evidence. So all archaeologists could say as archaeologists would be "we can neither affirm nor deny the existence of Jesus". This matter simply isn't amenable to archaeological investigation. By joining forces Finkelstein meant the study of David's kingdom (or lack of it) and establishing who David and Solomon really were. The only archaeological evidence for David is "bytdwd", therefore the historical David can only be recovered from analyzing the Bible, so wily-nilly Finkelstein got on the turf of historical criticism (aka Bible scholarship). Archeology can in this case only provide a falsification of certain claims about David having an empire and render plausible some ways of critically analyzing the Bible. That's in fact what Finkelstein did in his bestsellers. Tgeorgescu (talk) 22:17, 4 August 2014 (UTC)
Archeology could reveal anachronisms in the gospels and other sources. For instance, some claim that archeological evidence shows that Nazareth was uninhabited in the early first century, though others dispute that. Even if it were proven, that doesn't settle the issue but it could help elucidate relationships between sources and help identify interpolations. Martijn Meijering (talk) 22:43, 4 August 2014 (UTC)
My god. Now you claim to be able to discuss archaeology as well, and put it in its place. Does your intellectual arrogance know no bounds? It does NOT matter what you think. It only matters that respected archaeologists and sociologists and experts from a dozen disciplines do have a valid perspective and must be included in this discussion. That others can not support that Jesus existed, despite the best efforts of biblical scholars to do so, is not a reason to exclude them, it is a critically important part of the discussion. Your route, is not the only route to understanding this question. That you claim to have sole authority to this topic is insulting and unsupportable. --IseeEwe (talk) 02:54, 5 August 2014 (UTC)
You seem to have a reading comprehension problem as well as an attitude problem. I did not attempt to put archaeology in its place, I opposed Tgeorgescu's remarks that archeology wasn't relevant, in other words I actually supported your position. I never claimed to have sole (or even any) authority, don't put words into my mouth. Your behaviour here is uncivil and highly disruptive and it is high time someone intervened. Martijn Meijering (talk) 03:00, 5 August 2014 (UTC)
Profound apologies Martijn Meijering !! My comment was to the dismissive comments of guy above you pretending to know what archaeologists think and how they develop knowledge. I'm still working out the use of the writing tools, and unsure of the protocol with placement. It really was not directed at you. Sorry about my incompetence with the use of the ":::" and all that. I fully agree with your comment, in fact I believe that it goes farther, and that archaeology and other tools can help mitigate against the inherent biases of sole reliance on the historic record. --IseeEwe (talk) 23:08, 5 August 2014 (UTC)
Ok, then you tell me how archeology or sociology could prove or disprove the existence of Jesus. That is of a man who would have been completely forgotten and would have left no visible trace in history as millions of other real men of his time, if he were not a doomsday cult leader, cult which later became a religion. Tgeorgescu (talk) 00:29, 6 August 2014 (UTC)
Archeological evidence, or lack thereof, can have a huge impact on the level of certainty you can place on their historical actuality. In theory, a level of historical certainty can be applied to anyone. All of those millions of real people you mentioned from that time period, who did not leave a trace, are going to have a lower level of historical certainty possible for the case of their existence. I think the goal in this article should be to give as clear and honest presentation of the historical certainty that can be placed on the actual existence of Jesus. If everyone from his era is impossible to prove one way or the other, that should be in the text such that it will be clear to the average reader.Blackthorne2k (talk) 05:31, 7 August 2014 (UTC)

Richard Carrier

I've just come across this article by Richard Carrier about the historicity of Jesus that may be of interest for us for this page. It names a few scholars who believe the subject is worthy of renewed attention. BTW his new book on the historicity of Jesus is apparently available for pre-order now, and will be generally available by the end of the month. Martijn Meijering (talk) 22:05, 18 June 2014 (UTC)

Exactly. The Josephus "evidence" is not really worth much, unless you are biased in favor of a certain POV. Considering Tacitus, I have noted frequently that Tacitus never mentions Jesus of Nazareth, he only mentions in passing somebody named "Chrestus". I am not fussed by the spelling, but I note at Suetonius on Christians that Suetonius also mentions that Christians were followers of "Chrestus", who was apparently a rabble-rouser of some note in about AD49. As usual a variety of Experts fell over each other finding explanations for this, but as its the same spelling as used by Tacitus, it lends credence to the theory that the passing mention in Tacitus was not referring to Jesus of Nazareth. Since we do not have the works of Tacitus anymore, merely a copy that was made by a Catholic scribe in a Catholic monastery a millennium later, the opportunities for the monks to have "clarified" the statement are obvious, and the authenticity of the passage is rendered that much more questionable. Was Tacitus referring to the "AD 49 Chrestus" of Suetonius instead? Smeat will no doubt refer us again to a range of Experts who affirm the Tacitus reference is authentic and refers to Jesus, but neutral scholars are inclined to be more open-minded about this. Wdford (talk) 12:12, 19 June 2014 (UTC)
More fringe speculations. Thanks, but no thanks.
Richard Carrier's ideas are discussed in the article on the Christ myth theory and that is the place for them.Smeat75 (talk) 12:36, 19 June 2014 (UTC)
It is not neutral to avoid mentioning these ideas here. Martijn Meijering (talk) 12:55, 19 June 2014 (UTC)
WP:UNDUE:"Wikipedia should not present a dispute as if a view held by a small minority deserves as much attention overall as the majority view. Views that are held by a tiny minority should not be represented except in articles devoted to those views (such as Flat Earth). To give undue weight to the view of a significant minority, or to include that of a tiny minority, might be misleading as to the shape of the dispute. Wikipedia aims to present competing views in proportion to their representation in reliable sources on the subject." The Christ myth theory, a fringe theory held by a tiny minority of reliable sources, is mentioned in this article and with a link to the article devoted to those views in line with WP guidelines.Smeat75 (talk) 13:09, 19 June 2014 (UTC)
An article about a debate cannot present only one side of that debate. Obviously more space should be devoted to views that have more support than to those that have less, but we do need to give an overview of the whole range of views, together with indications of who holds those views. I don't think we need to go into the specifics of Carrier's ideas here, but I find it interesting that he mentions a number of reputable scholars who hold various views on the CMT, ranging from agnosticism is warranted, through CMT is probably false but deserves more scrutiny, to CMT is probably true. These views need to be briefly mentioned. In addition we naturally also need to mention the majority view among critical biblical scholars, the majority view among historians, the traditional religious view and perhaps others. There are a couple of notable individual views we need to mention separately. Several prominent HJ scholars have said (current) HJ research is mostly historically informed theology. The historian Akenson believes current HJ research is generally marred by bias and unsound scholarly methodology, though in his view that is not inherent in the subject itself which could be practiced properly. He also reaches similar conclusions as most biblical scholars. Grant believes the question of historicity is nontrivial and deserves careful attention, but also feels it has been answered conclusively. There's an interesting collection of papers reacting to Ellegard's CMT book. It is interesting because it directly addresses the relationship between historians and theologians in the context of the historicity of Jesus. Martijn Meijering (talk) 13:43, 19 June 2014 (UTC)
And that article does not say anything about Tacitus Wdford, your original research has no place in the article according to WP policy.Smeat75 (talk) 12:40, 19 June 2014 (UTC)
Not really original - see e.g. the following from Gordon Stein PhD: [39] Wdford (talk) 16:35, 19 June 2014 (UTC)
Did you see the editor's note at the top of that article Wdford? An editor from "The Secular Web" has the honesty to inform their readers that "Even if those views were true in 1982 they are not true today". Doubting the authenticity of the whole of the Josephus passages and the value of the Tacitus one is very old-fashioned now, at least among the experts. One of the best things about WP is that it is easy to keep it up to date, we don't need to go back into the past and dig up discredited ideas that no longer represent the mainstream when we can quote the leading authority in the field right now, Bart Ehrman,(not a Christian), who says : "Tacitus's report confirms what we know from other sources, that Jesus was executed by order of the Roman governor of Judea, Pontius Pilate, sometime during Tiberius's reign."Smeat75 (talk) 17:56, 19 June 2014 (UTC)

It's not an article. It's a blogpost. It therefore fails WP RS. It might be included if Carrier were a recognised expert, but he isn't (his training is in the history of scientific thought in the Roman Empire, not in biblical studies or philosophy, and he only speaks Latin, possibly a little Greek, and English - not Aramaic). It might even be worth including if he got his facts right, but he doesn't (for example, Thompson is not a theologian, and Carrier does not have 'several' peer reviewed articles in Biblical studies - he has I believe 3 PRAs in total and only one of them, on Origen and the literary metaphor of the solar eclipse, is in biblical studies). In any case, that particular post seems to have been up for a while and doesn't appear to have made any difference to the historicist research position. (talk) 17:01, 19 June 2014 (UTC)

No Smeat75, that phrase is not saying the idea itself is discredited, it is merely saying that some (not all) scholars think there may have been an original Josephus paragraph which Christians later frauded-up, and thus calling all believers "ignorant" is unfair. Not at all what you claim, is it? So no I am not committing WP:OR, I am referring to ideas that have been posed by scholars. And since the Tacitus work was found in a Latin translation not an Aramaic translation, and since Josephus never wrote in Aramaic, how does this disqualify Carrier? Wdford (talk) 22:39, 19 June 2014 (UTC)
I wasn't talking about Carrier, I was talking about the article you provided a link to which has a disclaimer from the editor that says "Nobody thinks this any more". Anybody can look and see what it says. Those ideas about the inauthenticity of the Josephus passages and the valuelessness of the Tacitus one are indeed discredited, read Bart Ehrman, Louis Feldman and others, they are the current experts.Smeat75 (talk) 01:55, 20 June 2014 (UTC)
I don't think anyone disputes that the main Josephus passage has been interfered with - that's been accepted scholarship for well over a century. But even since the work of Shlomo Pines in (I think) the 1970s, the broad consensus among scholars is that the original passage mentioned Jesus. There's another Josephus passage of course which has generally had readier acceptance.--Rbreen (talk) 00:17, 21 June 2014 (UTC)
Yes, that is correct, here is the paper published by Pines in 1971.[40] He discovered Arabic manuscripts of Josephus without the passages that had long been identified as the most suspicious "he was the Messiah" "if indeed it be proper to call him a man", instead of saying Jesus was crucified "at the suggestion of the principal men among us" it says ""Pilate condemned him to be crucified". Since then more or less all experts agree that the main Josephus passage is authentic with a few phrases altered by Christian scribes, the article Wdford cites uses as its main source a book written in 1838.Smeat75 (talk) 02:16, 21 June 2014 (UTC)
My intention was to firmly establish that my comments are not WR:OR - I presume that this has been thoroughly established? Now the issue is to clarify that the "overwhelming evidence" is not overwhelming at all, and that only scholars who support that POV claim that their POV is overwhelmingly supported. There is no scientific evidence here, just personal opinions about how much of a frauded-up passage is fraud. Neutrality requires that this be made clear in the lead as well. Wdford (talk) 08:50, 21 June 2014 (UTC)
Wdford, you are confusing the issue. You are saying that the Josephus reference is not worth much, which was a common enough view fifty years ago, whereas the broad modern view is that, while we accept that it has been sexed up, we can be reasonably sure of the original form. Your interpretation is outdated. Personally, although I agree the reconstructed passage is probably authentic, I still find Josephus very weak evidence, because we don't know his sources. But I can't put that in the article because it's just my view. Modern scholars consider it valuable evidence, and that's the view the article naturally reflects. You seem to have difficulty with the concept of original research - you say 'the issue is to clarify that the evidence is not overwhelming'. But it is not. That's your view. It's original research. You want the article to reflect your views of what is important despite the fact that you cannot produce any evidence that there is a substantial body of scholarly support for your view.--Rbreen (talk) 11:11, 21 June 2014 (UTC)
Rubbish, its not WP:OR because I am citing scholars, so please put that accusation back in your bag for next time. This is not a dead opinion, people today still contest this. WP:NPOV says that where an issue is contested we must state as such. All we need to do is add to the lead that other scholars have contested the so-called evidence, and why. Smeat75 will now obviously parade a list of non-neutral Bible scholars etc saying that everyone shares their POV despite evidence to the contrary, and Bill will use the word "fringe" for the umpteenth time, but the facts are clear that this issue is contested, and the rules are clear that to cover up this fact would not be neutral. Wdford (talk) 16:21, 21 June 2014 (UTC)
Wdford I think you should read WP:OR. "Original research" in WP terms does not mean "saying something that no one in the world ever did before" that would be almost impossible in the case of "Did Jesus really exist?" anyway. When you say, as in the post in the previous section above at 09:16, 21 June 2014 , we need to clarify - the belief in a historical Jesus is based on fraud and rumour alone, with zero evidence, and those scholars who claim his historicity in "certain" are not being neutral" you show that you do not understand what WP original research is, such a "clarification", WP editors pointing out that the most eminent classical historians in the world base their writings and statements on fraud and rumour and that emeritus professors and distinguished scholars are "not being neutral", would be OR in its purest form. I think you should also have a look at WP:IDIDNTHEARTHAT as you continue to insist that the sources are all "Biblical scholars" who base their "non-neutral" statements on personal "BELIEFS" when it has been pointed out numerous times now that Michael Grant, Robin Lane Fox, Graeme Clarke and Alanna Nobbs are not "Bible scholars" but classical historians (and very respected and eminent ones).Smeat75 (talk) 17:32, 21 June 2014 (UTC)
I didn't say we should cite the blogpost itself, but do I think it is very interesting for the range of views it mentions. It shouldn't be too difficult to find appropriate citations for the scholars mentioned. Martijn Meijering (talk) 17:16, 19 June 2014 (UTC)

Smeat75: have you posted your concerns about Carrier and his theories at WP:FTN and WP:RSN? If not, I see no reasonable basis to exclude him as a reliable source for this article. On another note, your comments here, though impeccably researched and thoughtfully written, are pretty clearly apologetic and polemic. Fearofreprisal (talk) 08:51, 16 July 2014 (UTC)

From what I can tell, Richard Carrier has a Ph.D. in ancient history from Columbia and has been published in at least one peer-reviewed journal [41]. I don't see how anyone could exclude him as a legitimate historian and scholar.Blackthorne2k (talk) 07:25, 8 August 2014 (UTC)

Next Steps

I will say that the discussion of this article is a dreadful mess. I am not saying that the article is a mess, although it appears that some of the contending editors think so. The last week or two weeks of discussion of this article, both here and at WP:ANI, are too long, difficult to read and mostly communicate heat rather than light. Due to the complexity of the issues, the dispute resolution noticeboard, which is evidently for straightforward content issues, said to take it to formal Mediation for content and to WP:ANI for conduct. While that was reasonable advice, experience has shown that, if an article has content issues whose resolution is complicated by conduct issues (and there are conduct issues), it has one final destination: ArbCom. Unless the editors of this article can agree as to the content and can agree to stop the personal attacks and the whining, this article will go to ArbCom. Some editors may be topic-banned. There may even be site-bans. What will happen is that a draconian set of restrictions, Discretionary sanctions, will be imposed. Robert McClenon (talk) 15:29, 7 August 2014 (UTC)

The steps that will be needed if this article goes to ArbCom are the same as the steps that will reduce the certainty that this article will have to go to ArbCom, so I suggest that all of the participants follow these steps. In particular, summarize your own position, complete with a statement of what you think the content should be (what should the article say) and what conduct issues should be reviewed (whether by ANI or by ArbCom), in 500 words or less. I really don’t know who favors what in the article, or who thinks who has committed what Great Wrong. I know that one editor, currently blocked, thinks that a group of editors is acting as a cabal to assume ownership of the article and has bitten newcomers. That is about all that I really know at this point. So: What do you want the article to focus on, who disagrees with that emphasis as to content, and what content issues have there been?

Content Summary

The ArbCom will not decide content issues, so we should try to discuss them reasonably, without tendentious complaints. The main issue seems to be the issue of what should be summarized as the mainstream opinion of scholars (and who are the mainstream scholars). The article currently says that it is accepted by mainstream scholars that there was a Jewish teacher called Jesus (or some Hebrew or Aramaic version of that Greek name) who taught about 30 CE after being baptized by John in the Jordan River, and that he was then crucified by Pontius Pilate, and that scholars disagree as to how many of the teachings attributed to him are authentic. If some editors disagree with that position, or disagree that that is the mainstream view, how do they disagree? Do they think that there wasn’t really a single human Jesus, a form of Christ myth theory, or do they think that two or more teachers have been conflated, or what? I think that there is agreement that the truth of the four Gospels, except as to them being accounts of that Jewish teacher, are questions of faith rather than history. So: Who thinks that the content summary should reflect what assessment of mainstream scholarship, and what should be considered mainstream scholarship?

Conduct Issues

The discussion has been long on statements of conduct issues and short on diffs. Neither WP:ANI nor the ArbCom is likely to pay much attention to undocumented lists of complaints of conduct issues. One editor who was persistent in providing a long complaint about conduct, without documentation, has been blocked. I requested a shortening of the block, but will advise everyone to keep the claims of conduct issues short, to the point, and well-documented.


The steps for the contending editors that are needed to resolve this dispute without going to the ArbCom are the same as the steps that will be needed for an ArbCom hearing. Keep your cases short to medium, make it clear what the summary of the article should say about mainstream scholarship, and make any allegations of conduct issues short and well-documented. Robert McClenon (talk) 15:29, 7 August 2014 (UTC)

The main contention is about whether Bible scholars can establish historical facts, since most of them are Christians and the few who aren't Christians are as a rule of thumb ex-Christians, so there is an accusation of religious bias. However, historians who aren't Bible scholars do not generally write about the historicity of Jesus, they generally don't publish peer-reviewed articles about it and don't publish books about it. So, in a way, appealing to the judgment of historians who are not Christian is doomed to fail, since there are not many of them willing to publish something about the discussed item. It will inevitably be relegated to fringe, since the historians who aren't Bible scholars and still publish something about the historicity of Jesus have sometimes an ax to grind against Christianity. E.g. the theory that Jesus did not exist is very popular amongst militant atheists and has been used polemically against Christianity. So, my view is that the only scholarly community who shows that it cares about the historicity of Jesus are the Bible scholars and we are stuck with their views, whether we like them or not, for lacking better alternatives. The reason why most historians do not write about it is because they need to learn Christian theology, at least to a MDiv level and if they do no have a special interest for (or against) theology, they do not get their MDiv. I do know that academics see historical criticism as having no exclusive claim to truth, but that is in respect to this article a moot theoretical point, which as a rule of thumb has not been elaborated in its implications for the historicity of Jesus. So, applying this theoretical point to the historicity of Jesus is WP:OR or WP:SYNTH.
I have to defend the integrity of Bible scholars, citing the following:

RK: Many of the conclusions in your book were controversial in relation to a large part of contemporary Christian thought. How have your friends, and peers reacted to your book? Have you had much negative feedback?

MC: (laughs) My friends all like it.

I have had some critical reviews. I had an opinion piece done by CNN, and at, and there were a lot of negative reactions. I’ve had emails saying that I’m from Satan, and that I’m doomed to hell, but that goes with the territory.
So it's not like because they happen to be Christians they have to rubber stamp essential theological views. Most of them clearly distinguish between theological truths and historical truths, without conflating the two categories. I also consider that allowing non-scholarly views to enter the article opens a can of worms precisely for the theological claims of fundamentalist Christians, which till now have been contained by WP:RNPOV. I say this because Bart Ehrman (who is atheist and agnostic) analyzed the Christ myth theorists and concluded that very few of them really have scholarly credentials and relevant expertise. So, the atheistic POV-pushers threaten to upset the policy equilibrium between theology and historical research in all Wikipedia articles about religion, as an unintended consequence of seeking to represent all non-scholarly views.
About behavioral issues: I do not like that WP:RNPOV gets attacked ad nauseam in article talk pages, trying to undo it article by article and editors who think the same as me see these continued attacks as fringe-pushing. Tgeorgescu (talk) 17:37, 7 August 2014 (UTC)
I have to add that there are Christian theologians who consider that the historical Jesus is irretrievably lost, that no meaningful historical research can be done about him, and all we have left is the Christ of faith. So it's not like every Christian believer has to rubber stamp the historicity of Jesus. Tgeorgescu (talk) 18:03, 7 August 2014 (UTC)
That seems a very wise perspective to me. I can accept that many have different beliefs from mine. The unfortunate impression given by some who want to use this article to prove that Jesus existed is that they then want to convince the world about the truth of the religious claims about Jesus. To a person of real faith, proving the physical existence of Jesus on Wikipedia should be unnecessary. HiLo48 (talk) 00:28, 8 August 2014 (UTC)

Opinion of Fearofreprisal

I think the problem with this article is much simpler than has been described to this point. This article's WP:TOPIC is Historicity of Jesus. While, in the past, I proposed the first sentence of the article ("...analysis of historical evidence...") as the WP:SCOPE, I didn't get anything but negative feedback from that. So, let's say the scope is the same as the topic. I doubt that anyone would argue against the scope of the article being the historicity of Jesus. The article Historicity says Historicity is study of the historical actuality of persons and events... This definition corresponds to the Merriam-Webster dictionary definition: "historical actuality." A better definition, from Blackwell, is that historicity denotes "the feature of our human situation by which we are located in specific concrete temporal and historical circumstances."[42]

Now, consider these statements, in the context of historicity:

  • "King Arthur was a myth."
  • "He [Jesus] certainly existed, as virtually every competent scholar of antiquity, Christian or non-Christian, agrees, based on clear and certain evidence."
  • "John Lennon died in 1980"
  • "We know Jesus existed, based on Tacitus, who wrote that he was crucified during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of Pontius Pilatus."

The first two statements relate only to existence, or actuality. They don't include "specific concrete temporal and historical circumstances." So, they're not statements regarding historicity.

The last two statements do include "specific concrete temporal and historical circumstances." So, they are about historicity.

If you review the article, much (but not all) of Historicity_of_Jesus#Existence and Historicity_of_Jesus#Myth_theory have nothing to do with historicity. That material should be removed, as irrelevant to the scope of the article.

I expect some users will scream at the thought of removing large chunks of material that says Jesus existed, just because it doesn't explicitly refer to historical events. My answer is that they should look for better citations. The article's title is "Historicity of Jesus," not "Existence of Jesus." Fearofreprisal (talk) 16:23, 8 August 2014 (UTC)

Ehrman citation

I would like to see this citation in context:

In a 2011 review of the state of modern scholarship, Bart Ehrman (a Historical Jesus scholar and former fundamentalist apologist turned secular agnostic) wrote: "He certainly existed, as virtually every competent scholar of antiquity, Christian or non-Christian, agrees" B. Ehrman, 2011 Forged : writing in the name of God ISBN 978-0-06-207863-6. page 285

Does anyone have a copy of the book, where they can copy the text surrounding the cite? Fearofreprisal (talk) 03:44, 5 August 2014 (UTC)

I would like to know a few things about this quote: 1) Does Ehrman express his definition of a "competent scholar of antiquity"? Does this mean all professional scholars? 2) Is Ehrman intending to make a statement of fact or opinion? That is, did he come to this conclusion about the beleifs of "virtually every competent scholar" based an empirical method or is he intending to speak anecdotally about his experience and recollection? 3) As a popular and not academic title, does this book have substantive oversight, fact-checking and peer or at least editorial review? Publisher's weekly described this title as having a pervasive tone of sensationalism. How much caution should be exercised when using this book as a source?Blackthorne2k (talk) 21:11, 5 August 2014 (UTC)

Ehrman can be heard on YouTube saying that he knows thousands of Antiquity scholars and none of them hold the view that Jesus did not exist. E.g. search for Barth Ehrman Infidel Guy. Tgeorgescu (talk) 23:57, 5 August 2014 (UTC)
I recall we had a consensus that if we are going to use the phrase "most scholars of antiquity" it should be presented as an opinion by Ehrman. The page doesn't reflect this, maybe we reached this consensus on a related page like Historical Jesus or Christ Myth Theory. Martijn Meijering (talk) 00:03, 6 August 2014 (UTC)
Tgeorgescu - That's not a direct answer to my request (to see the citation in context.) But, I think it's valuable.
Can you provide a link to the YouTube video, and the time where he says this? I don't have time right now to go through the 428 results that your search criteria return. Fearofreprisal (talk) 00:39, 6 August 2014 (UTC)
It's at , its length is less than 11 minutes. Times are 00:25-00:45 and 06:25-06:40. Tgeorgescu (talk) 00:53, 6 August 2014 (UTC)


One of the striking and, to many people, surprising facts about the first century is that we don’t have any Roman records, of any kind, that attest to the existence of Jesus. We have no birth certificate, no references to his words or deeds, no accounts of his trial, no descriptions of his death—no reference to him whatsoever in any way, shape, or form. Jesus’s name is not even mentioned in any Roman source of the first century.4 This does not mean, as is now being claimed with alarming regularity, that Jesus never existed. He certainly existed, as virtually every competent scholar of antiquity, Christian or non-Christian, agrees, based on clear and certain evidence. But as with the vast majority of all persons who lived and died in the first century, he does not appear in the records of the Roman people.

That is why the alleged discovery of an official copy of Pilate’s Death Sentence made such an enormous impact in Europe and the United States when it was announced in the mid-nineteenth century.5 The discovery was first mentioned in the French paper Le Droit in the spring of 1839. It was soon exposed as a fraud, but it resurfaced again in Germany ten years later and repeatedly elsewhere, including the United States, for many decades afterward.
— Bart Ehrman, Forged, ch. 8
Quoted by Tgeorgescu (talk) 01:02, 6 August 2014 (UTC)

Blackthorne2k: You're quote you wished referenced. I found it online but I have to type it. (Chapter) THE DEATH SENTENCE OF JESUS CHRIST (Paragraph one) One of the striking and, to many people, surprising facts about the first century is that we don't have and Roman records, of and kind, that attest to the existence of Jesus. We have no birth certificate, no references to his words or deeds, no accounts of his trial, no descriptions of his death-no reference to him whatsoever in any way, shape, or form. Jesus's name is not even mentioned in any Roman source of the first century. This does not mean, as is now being claimed with alarming regularity, that Jesus never existed. He certainly existed, as virtually every competent scholar of antiquity, Christian or non-Christian, agrees, based on clear and certain evidence. But as with the vast majority of all persons who lived and died in the first century, he does not appear in the records of the Roman people. (Paragraph two) That is why the alleged discovery of and official copy of Pilate's Death Sentence made such and enormous impact in Europe and the United States when it was announced in the mid-nineteenth century..... and it continues one in a new directions. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:11, 6 August 2014 (UTC)

Tgeorgescu - here are the quotes:
  • "I don't think there's any serious historian who doubts the existence of Jesus." (@ 00:25)
  • "I don't know any serious scholar who doubts the existence of Jesus." (@ 00:36)
  • "I know thousands of scholars of the ancient world, and I don't know any one of these scholars who doubts that Paul wrote Galatians. (@ 06:25)
Fearofreprisal (talk) 01:20, 6 August 2014 (UTC)

Thanks, Tgeorgescu. The context of the quotation clearly shows shows that Ehrman was not reviewing "the state of modern scholarship," as the article states, but was discussing the lack of Roman records.

To be true to the source, the citation could be changed to this:

While discussing the "surprising" fact "that we don't have any Roman records, of any kind, that attest to the existence of Jesus," Ehrman dismisses claims that this means Jesus never existed, saying, "He certainly existed, as virtually every competent scholar of antiquity, Christian or non-Christian, agrees, based on clear and certain evidence." B. Ehrman, 2011 Forged : writing in the name of God ISBN 978-0-06-207863-6. page 285

Other suggestions of how to reword the citation are certainly welcome, but I don't think it's reasonable to strip it of its context, as was the case with the original wording.

No matter how the citation is worded, there are still a few issues that seem hard to reconcile:

  • Ehrman doesn't define what a competent "scholar of antiquity" is, but seems to use the term interchangeably with "historian" and "scholar."
  • Ehrman has made other statements on the subject, to the effect that he knows thousand of scholars of the ancient world, but doesn't know of any serious historian or scholar who doubts the existence of Jesus (see above for citations.)
  • Ehrman, in his blog, mentions the names of at least a couple of competent scholars who do not agree that it is certain that Jesus existed. With a little searching, you can find more, including some with relevant degrees and academic appointments, who would be hard to dismiss as incompetent.
  • By saying "he does not appear in the records of the Roman people," Ehrman threw out Josephus and Tacitus as Roman records attesting to the existence of Jesus. (You might argue that he only meant first century, and Tacitus is second century -- but still, Josephus is definitely first century.)

So, how should these issues be reconciled? Fearofreprisal (talk) 02:30, 6 August 2014 (UTC)

In my opinion we should at least make it clear that biblical scholars and historians are two distinct groups. We should point out that most biblical scholars do not have professional historical training and mention the scathing criticism made of HJ researchers by serious historians like Akenson as well as prominent HJ researchers and other biblical scholars. We should point out that while we have strong evidence historians do not take the CMT seriously, they - unlike biblical scholars - have very rarely studied the issue closely or published about it. With that out of the way, the"scholars of antiquity" phrase can then be used as an attributed quote by Ehrman, reflecting a wide consensus among biblical scholars. Martijn Meijering (talk) 05:46, 6 August 2014 (UTC)
One problem I see is getting high-quality citations to support all of that, without engaging in WP:OR — Preceding unsigned comment added by Fearofreprisal (talkcontribs) 08:58, 6 August 2014 (UTC)
Not convinced by this bit of your edit, Fearofreprisal: 'While discussing the "surprising" fact "that we don't have any Roman records, of any kind,' because that's not what he's actually saying. He's saying many people find it surprising there are no records of Jesus, because they don't realise that's true of practically every Roman subject or indeed citizen with a handful of exceptions based on fortuitous survivals of material. What your edit seems to be saying, by contrast, is that he agrees it's surprising, which is not in my view an accurate representation of the source material. I would recommend removing the quoted word 'surprising' to make it a more neutral statement, thus: 'While discussing the fact "that we don't have any Roman records, of any kind, that attest to the existence of Jesus," Ehrman dismisses claims that this means Jesus never existed, saying, "He certainly existed, as virtually every competent scholar of antiquity, Christian or non-Christian, agrees, based on clear and certain evidence." Possibly 'official' or 'Imperial' between 'any' and 'Romans' would be advisable as well, as there are some Roman sources (whether they are 'records' in the strict term or not is another question) that do mention Jesus. The rest looks great to me, which is why I haven't reverted it. (talk) 10:03, 6 August 2014 (UTC)

There's no what ? That cite needs to be discarded as false. It looks like Erhman hasn't read the works of Josephus (which is a Roman work , which DOES attest that Jesus existed.  :) ) Kosh Vorlon    16:56, 6 August 2014 (UTC)
I'd say it's pretty obvious Ehrman is speaking about contemporary bureaucratic records such as a birth certificate or legal documents, not after-the-fact histories. Huon (talk) 17:47, 6 August 2014 (UTC)

IP86 - Yes, you're right -- it's "many people" that find it surprising, not Ehrman. Substitute "striking" and it's an accurate representation of Ehrman's own characterization. He himself uses the term "any," so changing it to "official" or "Imperial" would be WP:OR.

Huon - No, it's obvious that Ehrman is speaking about references to him "in any way, shape, or form," including after-the-fact histories, or anything else you can think of. Fearofreprisal (talk) 20:13, 6 August 2014 (UTC)

So what's your point here? That Ehrman didn't think of Josephus as Roman? That he was not aware of Josephus? That he thinks the references to Jesus in Josephus are misinterpreted and/or later fabrications? The latter two options are contradicted by our reference 45 which has Ehrman arguing that Josephus is an independent source for Jesus' existence. And how would any of that be relevant to Ehrman's main point, that despite the lack of Roman references to Jesus the evidence for his existence is overwhelming? Huon (talk) 11:44, 8 August 2014 (UTC)
I'm inclined to agree with Huon on this with regard to what records Ehrman was referring to. I would say, although I confess I am speaking as a modern historian, that a record is an official document e.g. a birth certificate, formal inscription on a public monument or discharge paper, while a mention in passing, in say the literature of the time or a tombstone inscription would be a reference. Ehrman uses the word 'record' and I would say that's an indication of the former. (edit - all the more so as we do of course have at least two such references to Jesus, mentioned by others.)
More to the point I'm still not happy about 'striking' for two reasons - (1) it implies Ehrmann finds it striking - which he doesn't - and (2) if it's not what he actually says in his book, it shouldn't be in quotation marks. I accept your points about not adding words in, but I would still prefer 'while discussing the fact' as a neutral sentence - that's one plain straightforward statement of fact even the most biased Christian surely wouldn't try to dispute! (talk) 16:27, 8 August 2014 (UTC)
Tgeorgescu - No, none of the things you suggest are my point. They are nice strawman arguments, though.
IP31 - If a "record" is an official document, what is an "official record?" An "official official document?"
Regards "striking" - here is the passage, quoted verbatim from Ehrman: "One of the striking and, to many people, surprising facts about the first century is that we don’t have any Roman records, of any kind, that attest to the existence of Jesus." Fearofreprisal (talk) 22:37, 8 August 2014 (UTC)

The Ehrman citation includes this exact statement: "One of the striking and, to many people, surprising facts about the first century is that we don’t have any Roman records, of any kind, that attest to the existence of Jesus." (talk) 08:36, 9 August 2014 (UTC)

FoR, with regard to striking, fair enough. With regard to 'records', there are also private records from non-official sources - e.g. diaries and household ledgers, or monastery accounts (middle ages). However, they do not apply in this particular case as so far as I know there are no private records from first century Palestine (I could be wrong) although there are a handful from the Roman period more generally - Vindolanda, for example, and I believe there are also some in Egypt - so Ehrman was clearly stating the position of 'records' and added to 'Roman' meant them to be 'official' documents. I was therefore clearly guilty of over-simplifying. Tacitus and Josephus, which were intended to be read by a wider audience, were not 'records' in that sense, they were references, along with Pliny's public letters referring to 'Christians', and Ehrman clearly does consider that they are authentic (a quick look at his reply to Richard Carrier confirms that). Hope that helps. PS I am the same IP editor, but I turned my router off while I was away for the night the other day, so have a new address. (talk) 08:36, 9 August 2014 (UTC)
In the link you cite, Ehrman writes "We do indeed have lots of records from someplace else that doesn’t matter for the question I’m interested in (Egypt; even though even there most of the records are not Roman or from Roman officials)." So, he's using the term "record" generically, and is distinguishing between records that are "Roman or from Roman officials."
But here's what I think: Ehrman just wasn't very clear in his writing. That happens sometimes. It doesn't make Ehrman an unreliable source, but it does bring to mind the WP policy that WP:exceptional claims require exceptional sources. Fearofreprisal (talk) 20:57, 9 August 2014 (UTC)
Ehrman in his popular books usually divides sources into three categories: Christian, Jewish (non-Christian) and Greco-Roman (i.e. pagan sources from the Roman Empire). He says in a course of his that there are no 1st century Greco-Roman, i.e. pagan, sources about Jesus. There are the Gospels but they aren't pagan and there might be Josephus, but he's a Jew. Tgeorgescu (talk) 00:02, 10 August 2014 (UTC)