A Major Conflict in Jesus Historicity

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Jagella
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Re: A Major Conflict in Jesus Historicity

Post by Jagella »

Wootah wrote: [Replying to post 3 by Jagella]

No I think my answer makes sense of it. It's not uncommon to become famous in death rather than in life.
Can you post an example of a person who was virtually unknown while living only to become world famous many years after dying? I don't doubt that some obscure people may become famous after dying, but it's probably rare and hence improbable. So when historians argue that Jesus was obscure while living and only became famous many years after, they're arguing something that is not likely to be true.

It's also important to understand that when Jesus was finally considered notable enough to write about, he was not portrayed as a real man who walked the earth. About twenty years after he was believed to have died, Paul wrote of him as a divine being in heaven and says little if anything about an earthly Jesus. Paul even denies that he had any earthly evidence for Jesus. He writes in Galatians 1:11-13:
For I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel that was proclaimed by me is not of human origin; for I did not receive it from a human source, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.
So even after twenty years the "life" of Jesus remained unknown to one of the first men who "noticed" him.

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Post by Jagella »

[Replying to post 5 by Divine Insight]
Everyone has to assess this for themselves...
Very true. I've found that some historicists don't wish to allow for free and independent thought. It's their way or the highway. If you disagree with them, then you're a "troll" who stubbornly refuses to recognize their expertise and scholarly methodology. At least that's the way I was treated.
The Gospel authors claim that Jesus was well-known and that people from far off nations were coming to be healed by Jesus. That requires that Jesus was in fact quite popular and well-known even in "far-off" nations. Of course, back in those days, "far off" could pretty much mean the next nation over.
Here is Matthew 4:23-25 says about Jesus' notoriety:
Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the good news[d] of the kingdom and curing every disease and every sickness among the people. So his fame spread throughout all Syria, and they brought to him all the sick, those who were afflicted with various diseases and pains, demoniacs, epileptics, and paralytics, and he cured them. And great crowds followed him from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea, and from beyond the Jordan.
Needless to say, the silence of the historians of the early first century fails to corroborate this passage. Those who argue for a historical Jesus downplay passages like these claiming that Jesus was a "small-time preacher" who should not have been expected to attract the notice of people like Philo. However, Philo did write about some rather mundane events in first-century Judea, so he would be expected to write of Jesus.
There simply is no historical record outside of the Gospels.
All the evidence for Jesus outside the gospels is made up of the epistles and the writings of some non-Christians like Josephus and Tacitus. Upon closer inspection, this evidence proves to be very weak. Paul wrote of a celestial Jesus and never clearly places Jesus on earth. The passages in Josephus' writings are probably Christian interpolations. And Tacitus, like Josephus and Paul and the gospel writers, never divulges his sources about Jesus. We then have no data from the early first century for a historical Jesus.
So for me, absence of this independent historical evidence is a clear indication that at the very best the claims made about Jesus in the Gospels are highly exaggerated, if not totally false.
The argument for a historical Jesus goes something like the following: Sure, there's a lot of baloney in the gospels, but underneath all that bull we have evidence for a real Jesus! You can't dismiss all of what the gospels say about Jesus just because so much of it is made up of lies, now can you?
I just don't agree with the moral compass of this God if he were real. Yet he's supposed to be the epitome of morality. It simply doesn't add up.
At this point I've gone beyond arguing much about Christian theology. To me the issue is settled--there are no gods except in the minds of those who want to believe in them. Now I'm investigating naturalistic issues surrounding religious claims. Even these naturalistic claims are proving to be suspect if not outright false.

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Re: A Major Conflict in Jesus Historicity

Post by Goose »

Jagella wrote:Paul even denies that he had any earthly evidence for Jesus.
This is the same basic argument you made in this thread.

And you haven’t yet coherently responded to the counter arguments I made here.

Repeating an argument elsewhere without having adequately addressed rebuttals smacks of proselytizing.
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Re: A Major Conflict in Jesus Historicity

Post by Jagella »

[Replying to post 7 by Mithrae]
The population of Judea in Jesus' day was around 1 million, possibly even as much as twice that. The smaller but more fertile region of Galilee may have had similar numbers. It is estimated that as many as 1 million Jews died in the first revolt of 66-73CE (Josephus' figure is 1.1 million), and yet enough apparently remained to attempt a second revolt scarcely 60 years later.

The biggest crowd recorded in the gospels included 5,000 men. Even assuming that figure to be accurate and unembellished and that traveling around the region he'd managed to attract a dozen such crowds on different occasions, without overlap, it would still be probably less than 10% of Galilee's population even hearing Jesus preach, let alone witnessing and believing any alleged miracles - and much less in Judea, where he was less active.
I disagree with your logic here. The likelihood of a crowd being noticed is a function more of its absolute size than its size relative to the population of the surrounding community. A crowd of five thousand is a lot of people regardless of the size of the population in the area the crowd gathers in. For example, if some individual attracted a crowd that size in New York City, then the crowd would be only 0.06 percent of New York City's population. Nevertheless, the event would probably be noticed by local news agencies if not the major TV networks.

Besides, it's simply wrong to claim that the first-century chroniclers did not take notice of mundane events and people. Josephus, for example, wrote of some failed messiahs. A "successful" messiah like Jesus might very well have attracted his notice.
Quite possibly of course, the crowds were not even as large and fascinated by Jesus as the gospels imply, and the miracle stories are even more questionable.
If the gospel writers made up the miracle stories, then why trust them as a source for a real Jesus? It would be every bit as easy to make up Jesus as it would be to make up his walking on the water.

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Post by Jagella »

[Replying to post 8 by Furrowed Brow]
If we allow for embellishment it is easy to see how Jesus and the early the disciples went more or less unnoticed.
If we allow for "embellishment" (lies), then why believe any of the story of Jesus? It would be every bit as easy to make up Jesus himself as any of the miracle stories.
At the trial Pontius Pilate seems to have no idea who Jesus is or seems that concerned. He is administering a local dispute he'd like off his plate. It is doubtful he realised he was dealing with a man who could walk on water and raise people from the dead. And if he did know those claims his disinterest would point to him clearly not believing them.
In my view the entire trial of Jesus is very improbable and therefore not historical. Pilate was a brutal man who was nothing like the nice guy the gospels make him out to be. He would not have tried Jesus overnight. In addition, he would never have put up with the mob of Jews screaming for Jesus' crucifixion outside his headquarters.
Barely registering with the Romans we do know Jesus did enough to tick off the Jewish leaders, priest and council.
How do you know that?
If for example there was stories of people walking on water and raising of the dead I'd expect those stories to spread rapidly and afar raising the chances of Pontius Pilate being far more well informed at the trial and the chances of records and writings about Jesus in his own lifetime.
If Pilate was not well informed at the trial, then maybe the whole story is a fabrication. How likely is it that Pilate became acquainted with Jesus upon meeting him face to face for the first time? Is it not more likely that Pilate would have been briefed prior to the trial?

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Post by Furrowed Brow »

Jagella wrote:If we allow for "embellishment" (lies), then why believe any of the story of Jesus? It would be every bit as easy to make up Jesus himself as any of the miracle stories.
I don't rule that out, but tend to go with a real figure far more mundane than the legend.
In my view the entire trial of Jesus is very improbable and therefore not historical. Pilate was a brutal man who was nothing like the nice guy the gospels make him out to be. He would not have tried Jesus overnight. In addition, he would never have put up with the mob of Jews screaming for Jesus' crucifixion outside his headquarters.
We know very little about Pilate other then what we can glean from the gospels. I'd expect any Roman governor to be pragmatic and vicious when need be.
Barely registering with the Romans we do know Jesus did enough to tick off the Jewish leaders, priest and council.
How do you know that?
We don't. I put the original "know" in italics. It is moot. But if there is an historic Jesus then I suspect it is more likely he was eventually executed for stepping on the toes of the Jewish council than for walking on water
s not well informed at the trial, then maybe the whole story is a fabrication. How likely is it that Pilate became acquainted with Jesus upon meeting him face to face for the first time? Is it not more likely that Pilate would have been briefed prior to the trial?
If Pilate had many trials to conduct and this was a chore it is likely he was told the nature of the accusations only. If it was well known Jesus was a miracle worker then it is was also likely he did not need to be briefed on that point. In the Christian account Pilate does not seem to know about Jesus other than what he is told. Jesus's fame had not reached Pilate. Meaning that the trial is evidence that Jesus was not well known.

Of course you do not have to accept the trial is real. But if we do I do not think that supports a famous Jesus.

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Post by Goose »

Furrowed Brow wrote:We know very little about Pilate other then what we can glean from the gospels.
Actually Philo (Embassy to Gaius 38) and Josephus (Antiquities 18, Wars of the Jews 2) give us just as much, possibly more, info about the actions and character of Pilate as the Gospels do.
Jesus's fame had not reached Pilate. Meaning that the trial is evidence that Jesus was not well known.
Uh, I think you mean not well known to Pilate, for some reason. But not evidence Jesus wasn’t well known outside of Pilate. Apparently, Herod had heard of Jesus.

�When Pilate heard this, he asked whether [Jesus] was a Galilean. And when he learned that he was under Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent him off to Herod, who was himself in Jerusalem at that time. When Herod saw Jesus, he was very glad, for he had been wanting to see him for a long time, because he had heard about him and was hoping to see him perform some sign.� – Luke 23:6-8
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Re: A Major Conflict in Jesus Historicity

Post by liamconnor »

[Replying to post 1 by Jagella]
To counter this argument, historicists have come up with an ad hoc explanation: Jesus was a small-time preacher who would not have been noticed by historians like Philo. Although this argument might seem superficially convincing, it argues against another historicist claim: Jesus inspired the New Testament writers to make a god out of him decades after he died.

So will the real Jesus please stand up? Was Jesus so small-time that nobody bothered to write about him while he yet lived, or was he such a powerful, big-time figure that many years after his death he was deified?
You have used 'small-time' in two different senses. Jesus' movement was quantitatively very small at first and several decades after his death: so quantity wise (the immediate impact he made) was very small and there is no reason to expect someone like Philo to have heard of him, or be interested in him if he had.

There is the 'quality' dimension of 'small time': obviously Jesus was not 'small time' to his disciples: so there is no discrepancy between the beliefs of the earliest Christians and the absence of Jesus' name from certain sources.

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Re: A Major Conflict in Jesus Historicity

Post by Wootah »

[Replying to DanieltheDragon]

Name anyone famous from last century that was executed.

Now think of Osama bin Laden. A terrorist with a global name. Who will remember him in 2000 years?

There is nothing hard to believe. But there must be something to this man, that when people build their life on him, we find ourselves in this present age debating his status.
Proverbs 18:17 The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him.

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Post by liamconnor »

[Replying to post 12 by Jagella]
However, Philo did write about some rather mundane events in first-century Judea, so he would be expected to write of Jesus.
Did Philo write about every single event that happened in the time span covering Jesus' supposed life? In other words, do we have an entire library devoted only to his works? Or is it reasonable to suppose that there are more events that we do not know about than do, and that, therefore, the probability of Jesus making Philo's documents are slim.

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