A Major Conflict in Jesus Historicity

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Tcg
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Re: A Major Conflict in Jesus Historicity

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Wootah wrote: [Replying to DanieltheDragon]

Name anyone famous from last century that was executed.
Karla Faye Tucker.
Now think of Osama bin Laden. A terrorist with a global name. Who will remember him in 2000 years?
Jim Smith.
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.
People build their life on their belief in him, not "on him".

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Re: A Major Conflict in Jesus Historicity

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Jagella wrote: [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.
You mean... about the size of an average megachurch meeting? I'm not sure that's a valid assumption. And in any case, a 24/7 news cycle with convenient electronic recording and thousands of dedicated employees did not exist anywhere in the 1st century CE, let alone the relative backwaters of the Roman Empire.
Jagella wrote:Besides, it's simply wrong to claim that the first-century chroniclers did not take notice of mundane events and people.
Fortunately, I never claimed that :roll: I said that there is no particular reason to suppose that they would. Do you understand the difference there? Even for every 'major' thing that a particular chronicler reports, in many cases there are likely to be other 'major' things they omit for one reason or another. As I've pointed out on other occasions, Hillel the Elder - an individual whose relative impact on the eventual direction of one 'branch' of Judaism is not far off Jesus' impact on the other branch, and who was much more prominent in his own day - is not mentioned at all by any extant 1st century source, Jewish or otherwise. You can pretend that this is not the case as much as you want to, but it does not change the actual facts: For a fellow who was much less important in his own time like Jesus, silence means virtually nothing. The assumption that just because some chronicler happens to mention Joe Nobody, he 'should' have mentioned Jesus Nobody too is utterly irrational.
Jagella wrote: Josephus, for example, wrote of some failed messiahs. A "successful" messiah like Jesus might very well have attracted his notice.
What? Are you going to pretend that Josephus didn't mention Jesus? Is that how low this has to go for 'scepticism' of Jesus' existence to be plausible? Even with the (dubious) assumption that the 'Testimonium Flavianum' was entirely interpolated, Josephus still obviously and almost as famously mentioned Jesus in describing the death of his brother James. (For which Josephus is either a first-hand source or the next best thing, having been a resident of Jerusalem at the time and part of the in-crowd of priestly circles.)
Jagella wrote:
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.
You keep using these terms like "lies" and "made up." Look, if I accused someone new to the forum of 'lying' because they say that there is "no evidence" for the existence of Jesus, it would be obviously inappropriate and potentially subject to a moderator warning - despite the fact that the claim is easily and demonstrably false in this day and age.

In the 1st century, they did not have an internet to easily check every scrap of information they encountered. If they heard from Bob that Cephas had said such-and-such about Jesus, and they trusted Bob and knew that Cephas was a disciple of Jesus, of course they'd consider it true. I consider it "questionable" and apparently your metaphysical assumptions compel you to consider them unquestionably untrue. But to therefore describe them as lies or made up is, again, rather irrational.

In a chain of Chinese whispers, embellishment and exaggeration may not be proven, but can be a reasonable suspicion because it's so common and easy to imagine. However such a chain has to start somewhere. Imagining that it started from a character fabricated out of whole cloth (complete with identified brother/s and disciple/s) is a vastly greater assumption than supposing that the chain started with an actual Jesus who taught some neat stuff and wound up crucified.

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Goose wrote:
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.
I stand corrected.
Goose wrote: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.
Pilate's ignorance of Jesus' ministry - the fact he did not know he was from Galilee - signals Jesus was not well known (as in not that famous). Which is a puzzle if people were crossing the empire to come see Jesus. Matthew 4:25 tells us large crowds came from Galilee, Jerusalem, Judea and the Decapolis (ten across cities Jordan and Syria). Mark 3:7-tells us a great number of people had heard of Jesus and came from Judea, Jerusalem, Jordan, Tyre and Sidon, Idumea. The gospels tell us Jesus' fame spread across a region that on a modern map extends from Northern Saudi Arabia to Syria, taking in Jordan, Israel, and Lebanon. This roughy corresponds to the region sometimes called the Levant. But Pilate's basic ignorance of the matter signals Jesus' fame had not broken through the threshold of being a regional concern for the Romans. This does not tally with multitudes travelling across Levant to see Jesus.

Not well known to a disinterested Pilate yet known to Herod signals Jesus' fame was more likely restricted to Galilee. Whilst the gospels tell us Herod was aware of Jesus' miracle working we do not know which miracles Herod is aware. On the other hand Pilate does not appear aware of miracles and his disinterested evidence he was not aware.

I think the basic conundrum is that the larger Jesus' ministry and miracles are painted the more pressure is placed on the question of why the historical silence in his own lifetime. The smaller and more local the ministry the more reasonable the silence.

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Post by Goose »

Furrowed Brow wrote:Pilate's ignorance of Jesus' ministry - the fact he did not know he was from Galilee - signals Jesus was not well known (as in not that famous).
This seems to be a non-sequitur. It does not follow that Pilate was ignorant of Jesus’ ministry, at least entirely ignorant if it, simply because he did not know Jesus was from the region of Galilee. I can think of numerous instances where I’ve heard of a person and his exploits but not known where he was from or where those exploits had occurred. I haven’t got a clue where Houdini performed his magic or where he was from but I’ve definitely heard of him and his exploits. I’ve just never had a strong enough personal reason to pay attention to the details of his life.

Further, we have good reasons why Pilate would not know the details of Jesus’ life such as his provenance even though he may have vaguely heard of Jesus.
  • 1) A cultural disconnect. Pilate disliked the Jews and had little respect for their culture or traditions. It follows that he would have little reason to be interested in the details of a famous Jewish rabbi wondering the countryside attracting crowds of Jews with his preaching.

    2) There was no perceived threat to Roman rule. Until, of course, the Jewish leadership paints Jesus as a threat (Luke 23:2). Then we see Pilate taking an interest in the details about Jesus.
Whilst the gospels tell us Herod was aware of Jesus' miracle working we do not know which miracles Herod is aware. On the other hand Pilate does not appear aware of miracles and his disinterested evidence he was not aware.
Herod would have been much more in tune with the minutia of the things going on among the Jews in his region as well as the potential fulfillment of Jewish prophecies and the like. Which isn’t surprising since Herod, himself, was from a Jewish lineage. In other words, there’s a cultural connection between Herod and Jesus which is lacking between Pilate and Jesus. That cultural connection is just as good, if not better, an explanation of Herod’s knowledge and interest in Jesus’ exploits than the arguement Herod’s knowledge and Pilate’s lack of it is due to Jesus being only known in Galilee.

Further, Herod likely had a personal interest in Jesus, not shared by Pilate. This is evidenced by Herod’s knowledge of what John the Baptist had been going around saying about his marriage. Eventually leading to Herod having John beheaded. When we consider Jesus may have been related to John the Baptist (Luke 1:36) we have further reason to see why Herod would have a personal interest in Jesus.
I think the basic conundrum is that the larger Jesus' ministry and miracles are painted the more pressure is placed on the question of why the historical silence in his own lifetime. The smaller and more local the ministry the more reasonable the silence.
But this type of historical reasoning just doesn’t hold up. We have numerous notable people who were famous in their own day for which there is a virtual historical silence during the lifetime of that person as well. Take even Herod for example. Where are the narratives dedicated to the telling his life story written during his life time?
"And it is the case that torturing and killing babies for entertainment is immoral." - Goose, Christian

"Is it the case with child torture? Prove it." - Bust Nak, atheist.

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Post by Furrowed Brow »

Goose wrote:It does not follow that Pilate was ignorant of Jesus’ ministry, at least entirely ignorant if it, simply because he did not know Jesus was from the region of Galilee.
If Jesus was attracting large multitudes across the region this is always going to be of interest if not a concern of the regional governor of any empire. Pilate's general disinterest signals he had no strong opinions about Jesus because he had not bothered to find out. It looks more like Pilate is not worried about those multitudes (which is hard to figure) or he does not know of them (and is incompetent) or the crowds were not so big to have registered on the consciousness of the governor of Judea.
Goose wrote:I can think of numerous instances where I’ve heard of a person and his exploits but not known where he was from or where those exploits had occurred.
Pilate's job was to know what was going on in Judea and if he was competent to also have an understanding of the region. If you were chief of police there is an expectation you would have a good knowledge of what was going in your county and would be abreast of events in neighbouring counties. Of course that does not mean Pilate was on top of the job but there is a conundrum here.
Goose wrote: I haven’t got a clue where Houdini performed his magic or where he was from but I’ve definitely heard of him and his exploits. I’ve just never had a strong enough personal reason to pay attention to the details of his life.
Houdini is before your time (I trust 8-) ). Bet you could name where Ziegfried and Roy mostly performed and could take a stab at their nationalities. Bet you could also take at stab at David Blaine. But the point here is not whether you can pick out historical or popular figures about which you are vague, but whether it makes sense for Pilate to be so vague. There were probably plenty of people from Galilee well known locally to other Gallieans of which Pilate had never heard. The question is he ought to have heard of a preacher drawing large crowds. Especially when a proportion of those multitudes were making there away across Judea
Goose wrote:Further, we have good reasons why Pilate would not know the details of Jesus’ life such as his provenance even though he may have vaguely heard of Jesus.
Well that is the point. Given his position and given the claims about the multitudes it is strange Pilate only vaguely heard of Jesus. That is the curious point.
Goose wrote:1) A cultural disconnect. Pilate disliked the Jews and had little respect for their culture or traditions. It follows that he would have little reason to be interested in the details of a famous Jewish rabbi wondering the countryside attracting crowds of Jews with his preaching.
Yes there probably was a disconnect with Pilate disrespecting the Jews. But Jewish or not it is surprising a Roman governor was not interested in large crowds. Luke 13:1-2 tells use Pilate killed some Galileans. Jesus talks of this. Any decent governor would be alert to clamping down on even the hint of dissension. Whilst Jesus may not have concerned himself with Roman affairs Pilate had a responsibility to make sure any preacher drawing large crowds was not going to arouse the multitude against Roman rule. It was his job to know.
Goose wrote:2) There was no perceived threat to Roman rule.
Mark 15:7 tells us Barabbas was in prison with insurrectionists. So there you have it. There was insurrection afoot.
Herod would have been much more in tune with the minutia of the things going on among the Jews in his region as well as the potential fulfillment of Jewish prophecies and the like.
Whilst more attuned Herod does not seem too concerned with the multitudes accumulating on his patch. Flavius Josephus reported that Herod killed John because of his fear of the hold John held over the people. This sounds realistic and would also be the basic motivation of any governor to keep an eye on preachers drawing large crowds. Who knows what they may preach against you?
That cultural connection is just as good, if not better, an explanation of Herod’s knowledge and interest in Jesus’ exploits than the arguement Herod’s knowledge and Pilate’s lack of it is due to Jesus being only known in Galilee.
Yes it would and that is an argument why Herod may have been aware of a much smaller ministry and a redundant argument for why he should have been aware of a multitudinousness one. If the crowds were massive then we should expect Herod to be aware whatever his cultural connection. If the crowds were mediocre then those should appear on the radar of a ruler of the local province but more so if there is the cultural connection. There is less reason for pilate to be aware of a preacher drawing mediocre crowds in Galilee. I think the line you are following here does not support the idea Jesus' fame was more than just a local affair. It also appears Jesus was a curiosity to Herod not an acute problem. He does not seem worried about what the people may think like he was with John. Indicating the support Jesus could draw to him was smallest threat than the numbers who had followed and listened to John. Herod was happy to make a joke out of Jesus and send him back to Pilate.
Further, Herod likely had a personal interest in Jesus, not shared by Pilate. This is evidenced by Herod’s knowledge of what John the Baptist had been going around saying about his marriage. Eventually leading to Herod having John beheaded. When we consider Jesus may have been related to John the Baptist (Luke 1:36) we have further reason to see why Herod would have a personal interest in Jesus.
Well yes all good reasons for Herod to have heard of Jesus when many other governors would not have done. So if Jesus' ministry was a local affair that showed no sizeable threat to public order and there was no fear of a problem spilling over into Judea then that would be a good reason Pilate was vague.
Goose wrote:
FB wrote:I think the basic conundrum is that the larger Jesus' ministry and miracles are painted the more pressure is placed on the question of why the historical silence in his own lifetime. The smaller and more local the ministry the more reasonable the silence.
But this type of historical reasoning just doesn’t hold up. We have numerous notable people who were famous in their own day for which there is a virtual historical silence during the lifetime of that person as well. Take even Herod for example. Where are the narratives dedicated to the telling his life story written during his life time?
Well yes exactly. Herod did not walk on water nor raise people from the dead and he did not draw large crowds from all over the Levant. However one thing of note that may have attracted a special note in history is an infanticide spree which fails to get a mention anywhere else. So Herod is perhaps not the best counter example. There is Pilate's stone that gives physical evidence to the existence of Pilate so maybe Pilate is a better example. The gospels do not attempt such wild stories about Pilate. His role looks realistic. Just one more arrogant vicious Roman governor amongst dozens if not hundreds. No special reason to single him out. Maybe not surprising accounts are light on the ground. We could say the same of Jesus if there was no special reason to make Jesus stand out in his own lifetime.

I don't think of any this is airtight, more a balance of probabilities.

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Re: A Major Conflict in Jesus Historicity

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Jagella wrote: Some of you may be familiar with the argument from silence advanced by many mythicists in which it is claimed that the historians of the early first century never mentioned Jesus. If he really lived, then how could they have missed him? One person in particular who might be expected to have mentioned Jesus is Philo of Alexandria. Richard Carrier writes:
Philo made pilgrimages to Jerusalem and knew about Palestinian affairs and wrote about the Herods and Pontius Pilate. And Christians must have begun evangelizing the Jewish community in Alexandria almost immediately: it was the single largest population center, with a large and diverse Jewish Community, almost directly adjacent to Judea, along a well-established trade route well traveled by Jewish pilgrims. So it's not as if Philo would not have heard of their claims even if he had never left Egypt; and yet we know he did, having traveled to Judea and Rome. Moreover, Philo just happens to be one Jew of the period whose work Christians bothered to preserve. He would not have been alone. (1)
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?

(1) Carrier, Richard, On the Historicity of Jesus: Why We Might Have Reason for Doubt, Sheffield, Sheffield Phoenix Press, 2014, Page 294
Matthew 14:13-21.

14:14 And Jesus went forth, and saw a great multitude, and was moved with compassion toward them, and he healed their sick.
14:15 And when it was evening, his disciples came to him, saying, This is a desert place, and the time is now past; send the multitude away, that they may go into the villages, and buy themselves victuals.
14:16 But Jesus said unto them, They need not depart; give ye them to eat.
14:17 And they say unto him, We have here but five loaves, and two fishes.
14:18 He said, Bring them hither to me.
14:19 And he commanded the multitude to sit down on the grass, and took the five loaves, and the two fishes, and looking up to heaven, he blessed, and brake, and gave the loaves to his disciples, and the disciples to the multitude.
14:20 And they did all eat, and were filled: and they took up of the fragments that remained twelve baskets full.
14:21 And they that had eaten were about five thousand men, beside women and children.

Matthew 15:30

15:30 And great multitudes came unto him, having with them those that were lame, blind, dumb, maimed, and many others, and cast them down at Jesus' feet; and he healed them:

Yeah, this sure sounds like a small time preacher to me...

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Re: A Major Conflict in Jesus Historicity

Post by Willum »

[Replying to post 26 by Tiberius47]

Thousands of people come to me.

At least it says so in the line above.

Is it true, yes or no?
This is a test: Had this been an actual revolution, the virus would have been much stronger.

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Re: A Major Conflict in Jesus Historicity

Post by Jagella »

[Replying to post 26 by Tiberius47]
Yeah, this sure sounds like a small time preacher to me...
LOL Yes, like I said there's no reason to conclude Jesus was portrayed as small time unless you wish to save his historicity. One guy I was debating in another forum tried to say Jesus wasn't famous when he lived because nobody in Rome noticed him at that time. I asked which dictionary defines famous as "known in Rome."

Isn't it amazing what nonsense people will come up with to save their cherished beliefs?

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Re: A Major Conflict in Jesus Historicity

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[Replying to post 26 by Tiberius47]
Matthew 14:13-21.

14:14 And Jesus went forth, and saw a great multitude, and was moved with compassion toward them, and he healed their sick.
14:15 And when it was evening, his disciples came to him, saying, This is a desert place, and the time is now past; send the multitude away, that they may go into the villages, and buy themselves victuals.
14:16 But Jesus said unto them, They need not depart; give ye them to eat.
14:17 And they say unto him, We have here but five loaves, and two fishes.
14:18 He said, Bring them hither to me.
14:19 And he commanded the multitude to sit down on the grass, and took the five loaves, and the two fishes, and looking up to heaven, he blessed, and brake, and gave the loaves to his disciples, and the disciples to the multitude.
14:20 And they did all eat, and were filled: and they took up of the fragments that remained twelve baskets full.
14:21 And they that had eaten were about five thousand men, beside women and children.

Matthew 15:30

15:30 And great multitudes came unto him, having with them those that were lame, blind, dumb, maimed, and many others, and cast them down at Jesus' feet; and he healed them:

Yeah, this sure sounds like a small time preacher to me...

Anyone who thinks 5,000 men gathered in a Palestinian wilderness in the 1st c. is impressive lacks historical perspective. He is seeing the ancient world through the lens of the modern, with all its immediate information. If there were five thousand men gathered in some remote place only 70 miles from me, and only word of mouth could relay this news to me, it is by no means implausible I should never hear about it; the surprise would be if I did hear about it.

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Re: A Major Conflict in Jesus Historicity

Post by liamconnor »

[Replying to post 26 by Tiberius47]

To help put things in perspective, Here is a quote from Josephus
There was an Egyptian false prophet that did the Jews more mischief than the former; for he was a cheat, and pretended to be a prophet also, and got together thirty thousand men that were deluded by him; these he led round about from the wilderness to the mount which was called the Mount of Olives. He was ready to break into Jerusalem by force from that place; and if he could but once conquer the Roman garrison and the people, he intended to rule them by the assistance of those guards of his that were to break into the city with him.note
That is thirty thousand men gathered. Is this event mentioned anywhere else (apart from Acts)?

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