Talk:Jesus and textual evidence

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Notice: This is a daughter article of Jesus Christ - It was taken from the mother page made to alleviate the size of the older article. WhisperToMe 07:18, 12 Nov 2003 (UTC)

I am removing the link to an article I have created about Quotations about Jesus in the Talmud. Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz says Christians would do best to avoid these texts because there is nothing politically or theologically significant to them in Jewish tradition. This has been the wrong way to go about getting the other side told and setting the record straight. The controversy is an article in the Jewish press (The Forward) telling Jews not to protest the Mel Gibson film because there are Jewish sources that were not Jesus-friendly, to "misquote" Danny. Dbabbitt


This article is biased. All of the sources mentioned are discounted by modern non-christian scholars, and by most honest Christian scholars (with the exception of the Bible itself for the Christian scholars). The fact that the gospels are not considered accurate historical accounts by most scholars is not mentioned, the contradictions in, for example, the resurrection accounts are not mentioned, nor are any of the objections by non-christians to the sources listed. (a major one with most of them, and to the gospels as well, is that they were not written at the same time as the events taking place; they are at best second or third hand accounts). This does not need to be presented as what everyone believes, but it should be represented as what people whose beliefs do not influence them think. Perhaps a 'Christians believe that Tacitus wrote about Jesus Christ' and 'Historians say the evidence points to Tacitus not being alive at the time of Christ and writing about the followers of a new religion' The Rev of Bru

I added a "signature" for you, so that we know who you are talking to. All the sources mention list the arguments leveled against them, as far as I can tell. Surely you're not saying that the Christian Point of View should not be stated at all? I also added a paragraph about the inconsistencies between the various Gospel narratives. It is highly unfair and biased to constantly try to set "Christians" and "Historians" as opposites. We also need to provide names of the persons making these arguments, rather than "some" and "others". (This is a major flaw in most of the articles on Jesus, because a lot of people do drive-by "point-of-viewing".) I moved your POV notice to the top of the article as well. (That's where they normally go...) Mpolo 12:47, Oct 29, 2004 (UTC)
Apologies for lack of sig; forgot. Not all of the sources list any of the arguments against them, let alone some of them. In no way am I saying the Christian POV should not be stated, I thought it was quite clear that I think BOTH (or more) sides should be stated, not JUST the Christian POV. It is not unfair to set those who would change and reinterpret the works of older authors (e.g. Eusebius, Constantine's biographer) distinct from serious, honest, historians. That does not encompass all christians, nor all historians. Some Christians cannot stand their beliefs to be challenged by the evidence, but by no means all and by no means a majority.
If names are to be provided for all the arguments, (which would be good) then all arguments should be supported with this, not just ones you disagree with.

The Rev of Bru 14:22, 29 Oct 2004 (UTC)

By all means, I agree. We've been working on trying to quantify and identify all the "some"s on both (or better, all) sides of the arguments. I wasn't trying to single you out as the only one who uses so-called "weasel words". I don't agree with the total ban on these terms suggested in Wikipedia:Avoid weasel words, but we use them way too much, especially in Jesus. Someone will have to sit down with the sources and document all this... Mpolo 15:28, Oct 29, 2004 (UTC)
Ok, I'm happy with the edits you (and some others) have done Mpolo; the page is no longer seriously biased in my opinion. Should I remove the tags? The Rev of Bru

I agree. This article is biased. I'm no great historian or Biblical scholar but I have looked around a bit at other sources. The whole article strikes me as being written by Christians who are trying to appear as if they have no agenda and are purely academics. They admit to disputes but always seem to think that the "Jesus existed" view wins out. It is a subtle form of disinformation. (talk) 08:17, 22 December 2009 (UTC)

Proposed change to section 1[edit]

I have a problem with the "The Gospels in the Bible" section, but I'm a little hesitant to dive right into such a controversial topic. I'm bringing it up here to get some feedback

First off, the section is titled "The Gospels in the Bible", but it discusses Paul's writings and non-canonical writings too. So I'd split it into two sections, moving the infancy gospels bit into the "Non-orthodox" section.

Second, I think the first sentence may be overstated. "The only sources for the life of Jesus which most historians accept as containing even some historically reliable information about the life of Jesus are the four canonical Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. . ." Possible exceptions:

  1. The book of First Peter, which is not even mentioned, which was most likely written by either the apostle Peter himself, or by a student of Peter's, and was probably written before the earliest Gospel. It doesn't give a lot of info on Jesus's life, but it says that he suffered and died on a "tree", it professes a belief that he was resurrected, it seemed to expect an immenent return, and he describes Jesus as sinless.
  2. The Gospel of Thomas is non-narrative, but it gives clues about what he may have done. Some scholars consider it as reliable as the cannonical gospels.
  3. There are 2 brief references by non-christian historians to Jesus between 50 and 200 AD. They are not detailed.

Given all that, I think that sentence should be toned down.

Third, some scholars date John as late as 170 AD.

Fourth, it's very unlikely that anyone old enough to have heard Jesus speak would have still been alive at 100 AD.

So I'd suggest the first section be split as follows:

The Gospels in the Bible
The most useful sources for the life of Jesus are the four canonical Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, which present a detailed narrative of Jesus' life and death. Very few other texts containing any historically reliable information about the life of Jesus, according to modern scholarship.
These documents were most likely written within a span of time from about 30 to 70 years after the crucifixion of Jesus (i.e., within 60-100), although the Gospel of John may have been written later. These early dates are important to historians, because the original documents may have been written within living memory of the events.
Other Biblical sources
A few of the details of Jesus' life and teachings are attested prior to the writing of the Gospels, in the letters of Paul, which were written in the 50s and 60s, about 20 to 30 years after the crucifixion. The First Epistle of Peter also contains a small amount of biographical material, which can be seen as reliable within the context of the period.

Then I'd put the infancy gospels and historian references in other parts. What do you think? Quadell 02:04, 18 Apr 2004 (UTC)

I have two comments about the above, Quadell:
  • The Gospel of John canot be as late as AD 170: the earliest known fragment of any gospel is of John, & has been dated to AD 125. (Details at the Wikipedia article.) Scholars who date this gospel later than AD 150 are frankly wrong (& this is one point in the continuing discussion about the date fo the New Testament we can be confident about).
  • Few modern scholars would use the words "historically reliable information about the life of Jesus", & most of these are already decided whether he existed. Most tend to use language like "traditions of his life", which side-step the issue of his existence. This language is a result from the criticism of the 19th century German scholars who demonstrated that the gospels were not written from eye-witness testimony, but based on oral traditions from the generations following not only Jesus' death, but the deaths of the Apostles & those who were eye-witnesses. (One result of their criticism was to show that the Gospel of John, which was clearly written later than the Synoptic gospels, was of equal weight in reconstructing the earliest traditions, & perhaps is even more accurate about some details.) The accuracy of these traditions, however, is another issue.

Re: "Non-orthodox early Christian sources"[edit]

I've removed the mention of the Epistle to the Laodiceans from this list because it has no information about Jesus Christ; it is little more than a patchwork of passages from Paul, & some harsh critics would state it has no information about anything! Likewise, the Acts of Paul and Thecla probably lacks any information about Jesus, but since I haven't taken the time to read through it, I'm leaving it in.

I had to qualify this section to mention "the early tradition of his teachings" because a number of the works quoted here -- 1 Clement, Epistle of Barnabas, the writings of Ignatius & Polycarp -- are only of importance to trace the oral tradition of the sayings of Jesus. (There are several sayings of Christ in these works that either not in the gospels, or quoted in a different form.) I can attest that 1 Clement or Barnabas mention in memorable detail any events of the life of Jesus, & from the secondary literature I've read, I doubt the other two would either.

Now that I think about it, the works of Justin Martyr should be added to this list because Helmut Koester uses his works in discussing those traditions. Since I also remembered the Gospel of Peter, I'll edit this article another time in a row. -- llywrch 16:21, 24 Apr 2004 (UTC)

It might be worth mentioning that according to tradition, Ignatius was a young child and among the crowds who heard Jesus' preaching. This would make him quite old at the time of his execution, but it's not entirely unreasonable. I agree that neither Ignatius nor Polycarp add much in the way of biographical detail that is not already found in the Gospels. Wesley 03:01, 20 Jul 2004 (UTC)

Re: Josephus[edit]

Mention of Josephus being a Jewish Pharisee would be balanced. And that the passage is different in an 10th century Arabic version discovered by professor Shlomo Pines. - Sparky 21:14, 19 Jul 2004 (UTC)

Gospel of John[edit]

Jayjg changed the latest likely date for the authorship of John to 120, from 190. Why? I had understood John to be a later addition than 120, although I don't have a source off-hand. Do you have a source? Quadell (talk) (help)[[]] 03:45, Oct 30, 2004 (UTC)

Because fragments of it dating to 125 exist; see Gospel of John article. Also see anonymous comments above. Jayjg 18:56, 3 Nov 2004 (UTC)
By the way, the original page put the end date at 100, it was Rev of Bru's changes that bumped that to 190. I thought 120 was a conservative number, given the dating of the earliest fragments. Jayjg 19:14, 3 Nov 2004 (UTC)
The real reason is the latest possible plausible date for the Gospel to actually have been written by an eye-witness. P.s. THERE ARE NO "EARLIEST FRAGMENTS" known from before about 300AD, so if these were to affect the dating we should really state "320AD" as the authorship date. CheeseDreams 20:28, 22 Nov 2004 (UTC)

The Rev of Bru[edit]

This guy seems to be trying to bias any/all articles relating to christ. Please keep an eye on him. Sam [Spade] 21:55, 30 Oct 2004 (UTC)

Sam Spade[edit]

Please discount any personal attacks against others by Sam Spade. By his own words, he 'Reviles Atheists' and is intent on removing their contributions to articles.

==Minor addition == I added a sentence regarding the non-canonical Gospels; stating that similar objections are raised against them by skeptics as are against the Gospels. I now feel this document is fairly NPOV : should the neutrality is disputed tag be removed? Does anyone have any objections to me removing it? The Rev of Bru

It looks pretty good to me. I expanded the lead section, trying not to take any sides (only one sentence above the TOC looks ugly to me...), but please check it. No objection from me for removal of the NPOV flag. Mpolo 13:26, Nov 4, 2004 (UTC)

Your lead is good, but where are the few Roman sources? I know of one (disputed) source that mentions 'Christus' - Tacitus. And one that mentions a person named 'Chrestus' as a figure who incited disturbanced among the Jews in 55 CE: as in - was alive in 55 CE. As you probably know, 'Chrestus' was a popular name meaning 'The Good' in Greek, and was common at that time. Its not a reference to a Jesus Christ. I'd either change that to 'a disputed reference' or ditch it. Unless I'm missing another two or three Roman references to Jesus Christ? It is dealt with later in the article, isn't it? Anyway, it is a minor point, so I'm still willing to remove the NPOV. The Rev of Bru

Pliny mentions Christus. Suetonius names Chrestus in connection with the Christians. We could say "'Christus' or 'Chrestus'" in the lead, but since the information is given in greater detail below, I thought it was O.K. in the introduction to leave it at "Christus". Mpolo 15:10, Nov 4, 2004 (UTC)

This article is a fraud[edit]

"No contemporary sources write of the life of Jesus"?

I'll start listing sources. Sam [Spade] 13:37, 4 Nov 2004 (UTC)

I shall let Mpolo deal with this, as you will likely delete everything I say. Perhaps any sources that are not mentioned already in the article? The Rev of Bru 14:01, 4 Nov 2004 (UTC)

The Gospels are just after contemporary, and possibly (though not incontrovertably) written by eyewitnesses. But I don't know of any 100% contemporary writings about him (or a great number of other historical figures). Even Josephus is writing after the fact, which should invalidate his testimony, according to the standards that are applied to the Gospels. It's a favorite argument by atheists, and there are lots of them who use it as "evidence" that Jesus didn't exist. I suppose that if we applied the same standards to Socrates, we'd have to conclude that the only true representation of him is in Aristophanes' The Clouds, since that's the only truly contemporaneous work about him that we have. Plato has his tendency to "make up" dialogues, so he has to be rejected entirely (like Eusebius) as a source, and his depiction of the trial is considerably different than Xenophon's, so we'd better reject both of them...
I would say that most Biblical scholars would agree that there are no contemporaneous sources writing of the life of Jesus. The gospels are generally believed to be oral traditions only written down a couple of generations after the events. And, as you point out, Josephus is writing well after "the fact", 60-70 years after; Josephus hadn't even been born when the events in question were supposed to have occured. That said, almost all Biblical scholars believe Jesus to have been a real person, feeling that the preponderance of evidence is good enough to make that assumption, notwithstanding the lack of contemporaneous accounts. Jayjg 15:42, 4 Nov 2004 (UTC)
I think that the only way we are going to come to an agreement on this article is to list everyone's arguments and let the reader decide what the truth is. As such, we would admit that there are no contemporary sources, but provide the pros and cons for the historical value of the Gospels. I agree with you that the "Eusebius the Liar" article is pretty specious, but it has been made by atheists, so we should probably include it -- I did note in the HTML that I'd like a name to cite for the origin of this argument. Mpolo 15:07, Nov 4, 2004 (UTC)

The only fraud in this article is Sam Spades edit. Its a huge step backwards. Its getting reverted to the NPOV version. None of the 'new information' is not already in the article.The Rev of Bru 15:28, 4 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Recent reversion[edit]

The recent reversion by User:The Rev of Bru was counter-productive, in my view, and returned to a more POV and less complete version. It seems like a knee-jerk reaction, rather than an attempt to improve the article. Here are some reasons.

  • The disputed notice was removed. Why? You obviously dispute the previous version, because you reverted it.
  • "No contemporary sources write of the life of Jesus." was added in. This is poorly written (since if a source was contemporary, he can't still be writing in the present tense), and it's inaccurate. Paul was contemporary, and there's no way of knowing whether other contemporary sources wrote or not.
  • "There are few mentions" was changed to "There are a few incidental mentions". I don't see why this was necessary.
  • "The Biblical Gospels" was changed to "The Gospels in the Bible". Was this necessary? Why is this an improvement?
  • "Some of the best existing sources for the life of Jesus" was changed to "The only sources for the life of Jesus which most historians accept as containing even some historically reliable information about the life of Jesus. . ." The former was obviously less biased.
  • "the original documents may have been written within living memory of the events" was changed to "the original documents were written within living memory of the events". If you thought about it, I think you would prefer the former version, since the latter seems to contradict your earlier statement that "No contemporary sources write of the life of Jesus." This is a clear case of reverting just to do so, instead of thinking through each change.
  • You un-wikified 20th century and other tags, which obviously makes the article worse.
  • The reversion made dozens of similar counter-productive changes.

I'm un-reverting for all these reasons. Please feel free to change the specific parts of the article you disagree with, and be prepared to explain your reasoning for each change. But don't revert dozens of changes just because you don't like the person who made them. Quadell (talk) (help)[[]] 19:29, Nov 4, 2004 (UTC)

Please check the edit logs. The reason I reverted was not due to your work, it was due to the POV bias from Sam Spade. I apologise if I inadvertently got rid of your editing also, that was not my intention. Its going back, with your editing added. Please note that I did not edit, I reverted: Sam Spade changed all the NPOV to the version you worked on. It was, before he edited, fairly NPOV. The Rev of Bru

Sams 'sources'[edit]

Sam, if you are claiming to have sources that are not discussed in the article, please post them. All of the links you posted were simply assertions of absolute accuracy for the sources already listed in the article. They did not even discuss any of the problems others have raised with these sources. Please review scholarship, evidence and rationality.The Rev of Bru

Please don't remove external links. review Wikipedia:Revert instead. Sam [Spade] 14:27, 5 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Please discuss the issues instead of reverting to your own, biased version. What do these links say that is not already in the article? Anything at all? Do they go over any of the huge problems with any of the sources, at all? You are far too quick to revert work you don't like. I shall keep some of the links (the ones which arent exact duplicates of each other in content) and add some more, but the bias is going. your 'Sources'

  • CNN - doesn't actually say anything about whether or not Jesus existed, simply assumes it as fact
  • Ancient evidence: doesn't say anything new or not discussed, but its sufficiently wordy to make some think it does.
  • WestArkchurch,: again, nothing new here, goes on about Joesephus et al ignoring the doubtful authenticity etc
  • Some fundamentalist site called forerunner: usual 'The bible is infallible' stuff; nonsense
  • Xenos: nothing new, verging on fundamentalist christian, again commits fallacy of claiming 'Christians existed in 2nd century = Jesus existed'
  • : goes on about how luke said there was a census therefore history is wrong in assuming there was not a census.... hardly unbiased. Nonsense, but I might as well leave it to show the POV
  • Christian Thinktank: nothing new here either
  • has obviously never heard of David Koresh, Richard Applegate or any other self-proclaimed messiahs,
  • The other Xenos article has absolutely nothing to do with whether or not a Jesus existed. Did you actually read it?
  • Verifiability of history: good on long winded claims, very short on scholarship or any evidence.

The Rev of Bru

As long as the links aren't self-promotion, if they're dealing with the topic, they can be included, even if they're not overly scholarly, I would say. The links provide "support" for various claims in the article, and we leave it to the reader to judge the strength of that support. We should pick the "best" links of each type, of course, since Wikipedia is not a web directory. (I haven't looked at any of Sam's links personally, so I couldn't say which are the "best".) Mpolo 20:24, Nov 5, 2004 (UTC)

Vatican and Josephus[edit]

Does anyone know who (in the Vatican) precisely stated that the entry on Josephus was spurious? "The Vatican" is pretty vague and also doesn't give the timeframe. I was looking for this information in the Catholic Encyclopedia, but it wasn't there, so it was presumably in the 20th century. Mpolo 20:41, Nov 5, 2004 (UTC)

I think it should be removed until we find a reference for it. Sam [Spade] 14:32, 6 Nov 2004 (UTC)
I think it should stay. CheeseDreams 11:31, 7 Nov 2004 (UTC)
It would have probably been the archivist at the vatican. I am sure you could e-mail the vatican and ask if you doubt it. CheeseDreams 11:31, 7 Nov 2004 (UTC)

External Links[edit]

I have noticed the following

  • 100% of the external links are Christian websites supporting the case for the evidence's validity. This is POV. If it is not changed, I shall replace 50% of the links myself.
  • I live in the UK. I have seen the documentary reviewed on the CNN website (in the link). It does not discuss the textual evidence much, in fact certainly does not conclude anything, it mainly discusses Cultural and historical background of Jesus. The "revelation" of the documentary is that they have reconstructed the average face of an average male of about Jesus' face, and (since the documentary was produced by the BBC's religion section) proclaimed "This is what Jesus really looked like", which is implausible POV nonsense. This particular link should be removed. It is (a) irrelevant and (b) only a review - it has NO content.

CheeseDreams 14:10, 7 Nov 2004 (UTC)

The "image" from that documentary is at Images of Jesus. TV documentaries can be so silly. As though a reconstruction of Bush's face could tell us what Kerry looked like (or vice versa). I think that rather than removing the (other) links, you could just add some skeptical ones. There are quite a lot of those available -- I hit one the other day via Google that has all the arguments Bru added to this page... A couple of the Christian links here look like they'd go better over at Cultural and historical background of Jesus... Links with no real content aren't needed either...
However, one of the sites gives an additional source that ought to be worked in. It's second century... Lucian wrote in The Death of Peregrine,
"The Christians . . . worship a man to this day--the distinguished personage who introduced their novel rites, and was crucified on that account. . . . [It] was impressed on them by their original lawgiver that they are all brothers, from the moment that they are converted, and deny the gods of Greece, and worship the crucified sage, and live after his laws."
That's a 1949 translation... If Perseus has the Greek text, I'll try to make a "free" translation. This is from a work of satire, but indicates that in the second century, the existence of the man Jesus (though not named) was accepted by anti-Christians. The crucifixion and the core of Christian belief is also mentioned. We'd have to see what skeptics say about the source, of course. It's just an ancient mention that we don't have. [1] Mpolo 15:26, Nov 7, 2004 (UTC)
Yes, I noticed that. Im wondering why it isn't in the Lucian article. I will try to read it when I get some time, and add it in.
To me, it doesn't show that the non-Christians supported the existance of Jesus, it could equally have been James or Paul or Simon or Peter that is "the original lawgiver". Also, note that Serapis was called "Christ" and his followers "Christians" (there is a quote by Hadrian of this), so we do not know which Christians are being referred to. (I will put in the reference to Hadrian's comment somewhere in the Historicity article, as it brings things into context)
Also, there are the (highly suspicious) "letters of herod and pilate" which are not on the historicity page yet. When I stop laughing, having read them, I will try to put them in too. CheeseDreams 15:34, 7 Nov 2004 (UTC)
I think that there's a note about those "Letters" here on this page. I don't think anybody today takes those seriously, but I'm probably wrong... Lucian does say that "The Christians worship a man", which wouldn't apply to Serapis, would it. And the "man" that's being mentioned can't be anyone other than Jesus, if he's the object of "worship". No luck finding a Greek text online. The actual title, however, I found: Περὶ τῆς Περεγρίνου τελευτῆς (transliterated "Peri tes Peregrinou teleutes"--"About the death (finishing, completion, accomplishment) of Peregrine"). The passage is mentioned in the Lucian article: "Lucian wrote a satire called The Passing of Peregrinus, in which the lead character, Peregrinus, takes advantage of the generosity and gullibility of Christians. This is one of the earliest surviving pagan perceptions of Christianity." Mpolo 16:03, Nov 7, 2004 (UTC)

Totally Disputed[edit]


  • Explain why you dispute the FACTUAL ACCURACY of a page about arguments for and against the validity of, and the content of, Sources of Jesus?
  • Explain why you dispute the NEUTRALITY of this page, given that it presents both sides of each argument?

If you do not, I will take it that the addition of the totally disputed tag was in error. CheeseDreams 07:44, 8 Nov 2004 (UTC)


Sam, I was in the process of merging this article with Sources of Jesus, until you started interfering with that article and reverting my changes.

Sam, the Cultural and historical background page, is NOT about evidence or historicity. That has already been agreed by the majority of people discussing it. CheeseDreams 07:48, 8 Nov 2004 (UTC)

WikiProject Jesus[edit]

In order to try to work out the relationship between all the various pages and hopefully get some consensus, I have opened a WikiProject to centralize discussion and debate. We've got several "conflicted" pages at the moment, and without centralizing discussion, it's going to get very confusing. Please join the project, if you're interested in the topic, and start discussions on the talk page. (We need to create a to-do list, but I think the current state is too conflicted to decide even that.) Mpolo 10:49, Nov 8, 2004 (UTC)

Its only really conflicted because of people like Slrubenstein and Sam (in fact pretty much just them). Everyone else just edits things to NPOV, or inserts counter arguments, resulting in NPOV. CheeseDreams 21:19, 8 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Page move[edit]

Who told Cheese he could move the page? Who did he mention it to? Looks like nobody. Sam [Spade] 20:55, 13 Nov 2004 (UTC)

He mentioned it to me "after the fact". I went through the new version in some detail, and it seems to be pretty good. Maybe we can discuss the title before deciding where it should "land"... The current title, "Sources about Jesus" has the advantage of being short and catchy, but I think it's a stretch to think anyone is going to find it except via the Template (which probably has a double redirect at the moment, since it used to point to "Sources of Jesus", which redirects to "Alleged textual evidence for Jesus", which redirects here...). Cheese's title expresses the doubt over the value of much of this evidence without closing the issue on one side or the other. I think that it is probably clearer as to what the content of the article is as well. (Your "Sources about Jesus" is certainly better than the original "Sources of Jesus", though.) Mpolo 08:18, Nov 14, 2004 (UTC)
I agree with Mpolo's reasoning for the title being "Alleged textual....." CheeseDreams 10:51, 14 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Totally disputed[edit]

Sam, what particular points are you disputing here? As I said, I went through (and edited a lot) to try to remove bias towards ahistoricity. The section on the letters of Herod and Pilate is probably overkill, since there are probably about three people on the planet that think that these are reliable, unbiased sources. (In fact, I got tired of editing it and left another two or three paragraphs in a comment...) The section on the rest of the sources indicates what is said and what arguments are leveled against them, linking to the more complete articles where they exist. In that, it seems to be pretty balanced and not to take a position for or against. Mpolo 08:24, Nov 14, 2004 (UTC)


  • Explain why you dispute the FACTUAL ACCURACY of a page about arguments for and against the validity of, and the content of, Sources of Jesus?
  • Explain why you dispute the NEUTRALITY of this page, given that it presents both sides of each argument?

If you do not, I will take it that the addition of the totally disputed tag was in error. CheeseDreams 10:58, 14 Nov 2004 (UTC)

I am beginning to be concerned that the addition of yourself is the largest error. As far as Mpolo's comments, more on that when I have the time. if your quite confident (speaking to Mpolo, and/or other non-partisan editors) that the article is satsifactory, feel free to remove the tag. I can always restore it if need be. Sam [Spade] 22:00, 14 Nov 2004 (UTC)
I am not sure I understand you. Either you are stating that my existance is a problem, or some particular passage. Would you please explain which passage it is that you have the problem with, if this is indeed the correct understanding? CheeseDreams 22:43, 14 Nov 2004 (UTC)

moved from intro[edit]

Those arguing against Jesus' historicity consider that since these are works written for religious reasons, they cannot be considered unbiased.

Who ever said they were unbiased? Who thinks they are unbiased? WTF? Of course their biased, their religious texts!
Believers in biblical inerrancy, Sam.CheeseDreams 22:50, 14 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Sometimes the Gnostic texts, which are amongst those not included by the Council of Laodicea, are presented as evidence, since they come from a group whom modern (and early) Christians did not consider to be amongst them. However, opponents of Jesus' historicity say that the Gnostics did not treat Jesus as a real figure, but as allegory, and that the descriptions given in Gnostic works do not match those in more Biblical texts. For this reason, the search for textual evidence predominantly centres around secular and Jewish writings (which are considered to be either disinterested, or biased against the case of historicity, so any evidence for historicity in these texts is considered more reliable).

Why would gnostics not being Christians (according to some christians, mind you) lend any extra credibility to them? Who says gnostics thought Christ was an allegory? Do you have a cite? Who are these "opponents of Jesus"? Anton LaVey? Do we have some Verifiability on them??? Where are the citations for all this hogwash? Sam [Spade] 22:09, 14 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Non-Christian sources are less likely to be pro-Jesus being real or being as described in the bible. Therefore, where (or rather, if) they do agree, it is more likely to be reliable for historiographic reasons. CheeseDreams 22:50, 14 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Hogwash? Please read Wikipedia:Assume good faithCheeseDreams 22:50, 14 Nov 2004 (UTC)
The principles of Gnosticism include the basic principle of allegory as a teaching device. Jesus' gift, in the eyes of the Gnostics, was that of Gnosis. Gnostics collected a wide variety of Jesus-related texts, giving little care to the content or whether they conflicted wildly. The basic principle is thus: if they did not consider Jesus as allegory, how could they resolve the problems between the texts? Gnosticism is a type of mystery religion, specifically one which includes platonic concepts, using the central god-man figure of Jesus. CheeseDreams 22:50, 14 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Opponents of Jesus' historicity are those people who oppose Jesus' historicity. I should have thought that was clear? CheeseDreams 22:50, 14 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Those responses fail to amuse me. Cite this B.S. or it stays out. Sam [Spade] 01:30, 15 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Maybe since Cheese has several of these sources accessible (based on his citing them in other fora), he could identify the groups of "anti-Jesus" scholars in each case with an example. That is, "some critics, including XXX, deny this argument because..." That will help us with maintaining an image of neutrality. Where the "pro-Jesus" article is more than the existence of the text, of course, this should also be cited. My reference material doesn't go much in this direction -- I've read a book or two, but don't have them here. Mpolo 08:04, Nov 15, 2004 (UTC)
I simply havn't heard of these people beforeand am concerned that some of this may be original research. Sam [Spade] 13:56, 15 Nov 2004 (UTC)
I am concerned that this may be failing to consider However, don't be too keen to remove unverified information at the cost of completeness. (the 2nd paragraph on the Wikipedia:Veracity policy)CheeseDreams 20:44, 15 Nov 2004 (UTC)
No, these people exist. You can find the same arguments almost verbatim on practically any pagan/atheist/skeptic site. I found one in about 10 seconds with Google containing every argument Cheese and Bru have made (obviously they presented them in their own words). The article would be better, of course, if we could cite specific people, and people with qualifications, but Cheese is going to have to provide that information, I suppose.
Really? Ive never found any site with every argument of ours on it. Wow. Could you give me the references, I may have missed something? What did you type in? CheeseDreams 20:44, 15 Nov 2004 (UTC)
I think you're right, by the way, that the list of "all Roman historians" was unnecessary to the article -- especially once it was turned into a bulleted list that you'd have to scroll through... Mpolo 17:01, Nov 15, 2004 (UTC)
Thats why I turned it back into the non-bulleted list. Its not a list of all-roman-historians, by the way, its a list of commentators, geographers, satirists, and historians. Quite a large proportion of whom had been to or mentioned (roman Palestine) in their works. CheeseDreams 20:44, 15 Nov 2004 (UTC)


Sam, what exactly is your objection to the NPOV title "alleged textual evidence for Jesus". If you don't want NPOV, I will quite willingly change it to "Lack of textual evidence for Jesus" or "Absolutely no genuine textual evidence for Jesus whatsoever". CheeseDreams 20:39, 15 Nov 2004 (UTC)

If you do that, I'll be whacking on the NPOV header very fast. Do NOT make a move like that. "Alleged" implies that the data is in fact incorrect. It's a value judgement. - Ta bu shi da yu 07:21, 20 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Could we decide where the page is going to be rather than just moving it around constantly?
Points in favor of "Textual Evidence of Jesus": The page discusses all known texts that mention Jesus. Thus it is a list of "textual evidence", even though the meaning of that evidence is disputed. (No one denies that the passages in Tacitus, Suetonius, and the like exist. Problems: May imply to some that the evidence is accepted by all.
Points in favor of "Alleged textual evidence for Jesus": Indicates that there is a dispute from the beginning. Problems: It is the evidentiary nature of the texts that is alleged, not their existence, as the title might lead one to believe.
Neither title is perfect, and I think that both are reasonably neutral. Something like "Alleged references to Jesus in textual sources" is way too awkward. Personally, I don't have a whole lot of opinion about where the page should land, but the "two moves a day" for the page is kind of silly. Could we please discuss the matter? Mpolo 20:47, Nov 15, 2004 (UTC)
"Texts which allegedly evidence Jesus"? CheeseDreams 20:50, 15 Nov 2004 (UTC)
I'm happy to discuss, but not w cheese. Perhaps we ought to have a poll? [[User:Sam Spade|Vote Sam Spade for Arbiter!]] 23:34, 17 Nov 2004 (UTC)
"happy to discuss, but not w cheese" and you are standing for arbitration committee? Pathetic. CheeseDreams 01:34, 18 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Using alleged isn't really standard practice. We don't have articles on the "Alleged theory of evolution" or the "Alleged theory of divine creation" for example. I'm not sure it's a precident we want to create. I also think it's unnecessary. Of course it's alleged, someone has to be alleging it otherwise we wouldn't know about it. It's perfectly normal to have an article stating what the topic is about, but then in the body text have substantial criticism of the topic. Alleged really serves no purpose. Shane King 23:43, Nov 17, 2004 (UTC)
Alleged theory of evolution? Either something is or is not the "theory of evolution", you are meaning "Alleged truth of the theory of evolution" and "Alleged truth of the theory of creation", which exist under the combined title of Creation vs. evolution debate. There already exists Alleged biblical inconsistencies, if you want to see Alleged in use elsewhere. I am quite happy to make the title of this article "Lack of textual evidence for Jesus" if you want the Allegedness removed. CheeseDreams 01:31, 18 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Thats pretty much my point. However, if you take a look at whats going on at User talk:CheeseDreams, I think you'll see that this isn't an isolated incident. Cheese is methodically working a warpath thru articles related to Christianity. I think its important for everybody to understand that regardless of POV, your interests are best served by an honest, balanced article. Disputing anything remotely related to Christianity is not honest or balanced. [[User:Sam Spade|Sam Spade Arb Com election]] 01:01, 18 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Sam, if you ACTUALLY looked at what was going on, rather than just looked at the superficial appearance you can only get from glancing at my talk page and jumping to the POV conclusion that anyone who attacks me must be in the right, you will see that I was simply adding 54 articles to a catagory, and noticing some pages were stubs, or had empty sections, or were not wikified, or entirely from a biblical-inerrancy point of view, or missed out a vast chunk of the article (like one which had a section "Islamic Views of X" which consisted of the sentence "Islam calls X as Y") . CheeseDreams 01:31, 18 Nov 2004 (UTC)
I think that the "alleged" in Alleged inconsistencies in the Bible is subtly different from the "alleged" in Alleged textual evidence for Jesus. "Inconsistencies in the Bible" is inherently POV, or at least is perceived that way by a good-sized group of readers, so that the "alleged" enables all to approach the article with an open mind. It might be perceived to skew slightly in favor of the dismissal of the "inconsistencies", but the article makes an effort to avoid that bias in the course of the article. In this case, no one is denying the existence of the textual evidence, so that the title with "alleged" seems to skew the direction a bit more strongly towards dismissal of the "textual evidence", even implying that the documents may not exist at all, which is not what you want to say. After considering the issue more, I would vote for the title Textual evidence for Jesus, with a review of the lead to reflect the new title, and to make sure the article remains neutral.


If need be, I would be willing to compromise on "Textual evidence of Jesus" which would be equally accurate but perhaps slightly less POV. Thoughts? [[User:Sam Spade|Sam Spade Arb Com election]] 14:17, 18 Nov 2004 (UTC)

That would be O.K. by me. Then you're not saying that it is "for" Jesus.... Mpolo 14:34, Nov 18, 2004 (UTC)
Right. I'm not trying to ram thru some pro-jesus propoganda here, just trying to keep things within reason! I fully understand and respect the intent of NPOV, making an article everyone can at least tolerate, from all extremes of POV. [[User:Sam Spade|Sam Spade Arb Com election]] 14:54, 18 Nov 2004 (UTC)

I think Textual evidence of/for Jesus is POV. Particularly if you read the article. In the main, of those that are undisputed, there is NONE. Of those bits of evidence which are disputed, all are most likely forged, or irrelevant, some are completely obvious (e.g. Herod + Pilate). Critical study of the alleged evidence generally reveals it to be nothing of the kind, thus calling the title "Textual evidence of/for Jesus" is inherently POV as it implies quite the opposite to the article, i.e. that there is some.

Compromise would be more along the lines of Jesus and Textual Evidence CheeseDreams 21:38, 18 Nov 2004 (UTC)

In addition, the article Alleged relics of Jesus Christ has "Alleged" in the title, and its been like that for ages. CheeseDreams 00:04, 19 Nov 2004 (UTC)

I think that CheeseDreams has the best compromise here. I say we go with Jesus and Textual Evidence, and in fact I'm going to be be bold and do this :) - Ta bu shi da yu 07:24, 20 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Suggestion to Combine[edit]

This article and the Historicity of Jesus Christ article should be combined. There is so much overlap here that I feel there would be an abundance of both redundant material and discussion. Please discuss. DavidR 18:24, 21 Jul 2004 (UTC)

Definitely. The section on Sources in that article is just a pale imitation of this one... Ben Standeven 07:58, 21 Nov 2004 (UTC)

The historicity article is currently in a state of crisis from an edit war. When it is finally in good shape, it will have a "summary section" pointing to this article as the Main article: . Or at least, that is the plan. Mpolo 10:41, Nov 21, 2004 (UTC)
The Historicity of Jesus/New Version seems in good shape to me; I've already introduced a summary section there. Ben Standeven 08:17, 24 Nov 2004 (UTC)

This article was spun off by me (and then tidied and NPOVed and bits by others, predominantly Mpolo) from my own contributions to Historicity of Jesus which themselves predominantly spun from merging the previous version of this article in and rendering it NPOV. UNFORTUNATELY, that article (historicity) was then locked. After it was unlocked, I summarised the sources section. However, my changes were then blanket reverted by two extremists, resulting in a revert war, and the re-protection of that page. The summary exists, and is viewable in the page history of Historicity of Jesus (my recent pre-2nd-protection reverts). CheeseDreams 20:38, 22 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Who, pray tell, are you presenting this curious chain of events to, Cheese? [[User:Sam Spade|Sam Spade Arb Com election]] 01:47, 24 Nov 2004 (UTC)

David R. and Ben Standeven. CheeseDreams 01:59, 24 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Have we come to a conclusion about whether or not we are going to merge this page with the "Historicity of Jesus" page or not? Rclose 13:57, 27 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Head of an ass[edit]

You know, Tertullian refuted those claims most vigorously in the Apologeticum. I might have to track this down further. - Ta bu shi da yu 06:58, 6 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Ah, found it. See [2]:
For, like some others, you are under the delusion that our god is an ass's head.20 Cornelius Tacitus first put this notion into people's minds. In the fifth book of his histories, beginning the (narrative of the) Jewish war with an account of the origin of the nation; and theorizing at his pleasure about the origin, as well as the name and the religion of the Jews, he states that having been delivered, or rather, in his opinion, expelled from Egypt, in crossing the vast plains of Arabia, where water is so scanty, they were in extremity from thirst; but taking the guidance of the wild asses, which it was thought might be seeking water after feeding, they discovered a fountain, and thereupon in their gratitude they consecrated a head of this species of animal. And as Christianity is nearly allied to Judaism, from this, I suppose, it was taken for granted that we too are devoted to the worship of the same image. But the said Cornelius Tacitus (the very opposite of tacit in telling lies) informs us in the work already mentioned, that when Cneius Pompeius captured Jerusalem, he entered the temple to see the arcana of the Jewish religion, but found no image there.
Ta bu shi da yu 07:03, 6 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Weasel words[edit]

My goodness, how many can we include in one body of literature?

  1. The Gospel of John is seen by some as being written by an apostle, however, many others dispute the authorship for a series of reasons.
  2. The Gospel of John is seen by some as being written by an apostle, however, many others dispute the authorship for a series of reasons.
  3. Some Christians proclaim that the lack of references to Yeshu, and the difficulty in associating the name with Jesus, is due to the fact that Christianity was a negligable group when the Talmud was predominantly created
  4. Some scholars suggest that the second paragraph is merely describing Christian beliefs that were uncontroversial (i.e. that a cult leader was put to death), so had no reason not to be assumed as fact.
  5. Some scholars consider this text to also be a forgery or to be in error, since the author, Agapius of Hierapolis seems to be quoting from memory.
  6. Many scholars consider it odd that a man of such significance as Jesus should be missing from historic texts and records, since lesser figures are, unless, that is, Jesus didn't exist, or was insignificant.
  7. This has led to the conclusion by many critics that some Christian, possibly Eusebius himself, falsified the text
  8. However, those who oppose this claim argue that many of the commentators commented on other Middle Eastern events, and many, especially the geographers, travelled to the region and that reports of miracles might have been expected to arouse more interest.
  9. Many scholars consider it odd that a man of such significance as Jesus should be missing from historic texts and records, since lesser figures are, unless, that is, Jesus didn't exist, or was insignificant.
  10. Christians proclaim (source?) that this evidence is precisely what became the New Testament, wheras others dispute this, stating that one would expect at least a handful of non-Christian witnesses.

My oh my, but aren't there many unattributed assertions. - Ta bu shi da yu 07:50, 6 Jan 2005 (UTC)


The presentation of Tertullian's view as a counterpoint is a bit misleading, because he's arguing against something that Tacitus did not say—in that part of his work, anyway. The brief passages on Christianity in the Annals nowhere mention the donkey's head. That claim, which is the target of Tertullian's argument, comes from a section of the Histories dealing with the ancient Jews and is just a repetition of an old anti-Semitic legend dating back at least to the 2nd century BC. (I suppose it's possible that the Annals originally did claim Christians worshipped a donkey's head, that Tertullian saw an edition that made this claim, and that the story was later expurgated—but that's just a guess, and it's not likely, either. If a Christian scribe had removed such a claim, he probably would not have left the unflattering remainder of the description in place, and he certainly would not have overwritten one unfavorable description with another.) I removed the quotation (see #Head of an ass for its substance); the following is the the text used to introduce it:

One of the early church fathers, Tertullian, in his tract the Apologeticum, stated that Tacitus was wrong (in fact he wryly states that Tacitus was not being tacit in his account):

Charles P. (Mirv) 17:17, 9 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Isn't Tacitus saying that there were Christians in Rome under Nero, not just when he was writing? john k 03:18, 18 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Historicity Merge[edit]

This page should really be merged with the Historicity of Jesus page because External Textual Evidence is a sub catagorey of Historicity. Besides much of what is presented here is also covered on the Historicity page. As to where it should be inserted, the Historicity page could use some more structure. There are three tests of Historicity. Besides, simply discusing the debates of the Historicity of Jesus, it would be more beneficial to go through these three tests to demonstrate the reason some have found Jesus a reliable historical figure or not. The first part of the Jesus page is also a historicity section and should cover the subject in brief as should the Historicity of the New Testament section, both articles refering readers to the combined Historicity of Jesus page through links. Rclose 14:40, 27 Apr 2005 (UTC)

A bold +1 to this suggestion. As there are no reactions seen, I'll interpret this as no opposition. But I'll wait some days before starting to merge. --Pjacobi 19:58, August 28, 2005 (UTC)
I agree. Jayjg (talk) 15:51, 29 August 2005 (UTC)
Support. I don't care whether this article is merged into that one or that one is drained into this one, but the severe redundancy is getting on my nerves. I'd be glad to help properly merge the two. However, if you're going to merge two such major articles, shouldn't you put a {{merge}} tag at the top of each page, so more people will see it? Here, I'll do it. -Silence 10:31, 15 September 2005 (UTC)

announcing a new policy proposal[edit]

This is just to inform people that I want Wikipedia to accept a general policy that BC and AD represent a Christian Point of View and should be used only when they are appropriate, that is, in the context of expressing or providing an account of a Christian point of view. In other contexts, I argue that they violate our NPOV policy and we should use BCE and CE instead. See Wikipedia:Neutral point of view/BCE-CE Debate for the detailed proposal. Slrubenstein | Talk 14:30, 16 May 2005 (UTC)

The result of this proposal was that it failed to be approved. ~~~~ 9 July 2005 10:29 (UTC)