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 The 'Jesus is a myth' myth

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nordmann
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PostSubject: Re: The 'Jesus is a myth' myth   Wed 23 Mar 2016, 12:02

Well, if it's the preservation of the KJV language you're after you'll even find Richard D. on your side, I'd say.

I don't get the "snobby elitism" thing. It's a derogatory way of referring to people who hold to the rather basic and self-evident concept that some people are simply just better, cleverer and more likely to contribute something worthwhile to the common good than others. When you think about it (and especially if such an accusation is made by a so-called Christian) without this being the case then they wouldn't have a religion at all.

Actually there's a bit of the narrative that is sorely lacking too and would have helped the story (and indeed the myth) along nicely; the bit where all the other local carpentry apprentices criticise Josh for going all snobby elitist on them on their tea breaks, when all they want is to discuss how Maccabee Haifa fared at the weekend and Mary M's knockers, while he is intent on presenting his latest ideas regarding the moral consequences of metaphysical belief.
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Triceratops
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PostSubject: Re: The 'Jesus is a myth' myth   Wed 23 Mar 2016, 14:48

An earlier Judas who was not keen on Romans;

Judas of Galilee

The Disciple Simon is described as a Zealot. Perhaps Galilee was a centre for anti-Roman feeling.
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Temperance
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PostSubject: Re: The 'Jesus is a myth' myth   Wed 23 Mar 2016, 15:14

Triceratops wrote:
An earlier Judas who was not keen on Romans;

Judas of Galilee

The Disciple Simon is described as a Zealot. Perhaps Galilee was a centre for anti-Roman feeling.

Galilee was an absolute hotbed of insurrection, Trike.

Josephus, who was of Galilean descent himself, wrote, “...the Galilaeans are fighters from the cradle and at all times numerous, and never has cowardice afflicted the men or a declining population the country” (Jos. War, Exc. II, G.A. Williamson tr.).

The Galileans were to the Roman Empire what the Irish were to the British Empire. I think the average Roman administrator lived in dread of being sent to Judea, the neighbouring province. Galilee remained a client state under Herod Antipas (he was the son of Herod the Great and became became Tetrarch of Galilee in 4BC) - that's why Pilate tried to get rid of the Jesus problem by handing the Nazarene over to Herod (who was in Jerusalem at the time). Ploy didn't work, as we all know, and Herod sent him back. I don't think any administrator - Roman or Jew - could cope. They all resorted to extreme brutality to keep things reasonably under control. It must have been a nightmare trying to govern out there.  

The war that broke out in 66C.E. ended in annihilation for the Jewish people. In 70C.E. the Romans lost all patience - not that they had had much anyway - and showed the world what happened when you took on Rome and lost. They destroyed the Temple, burnt Jerusalem and lay waste the entire land. Thousands of men, women and children died. It was after this terrible event that - although the exact dates are uncertain - the Gospels were written. The rest - myth or no myth - is history. It is a miracle that out of the ashes, the story of an obscure Galilean tekton (the Greek word means carpenter or builder or, as some have suggested recently, learned/wise one) survived; but survive it did. And that no one - however troubled - can deny.


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PostSubject: Re: The 'Jesus is a myth' myth   Wed 23 Mar 2016, 16:57

Temperance wrote:
..............There are some cracking characters - in both the New and Old Testaments - characters who live on in a remarkable way.

Pilate is a supreme example, as, of course, is Peter; not to mention Moses and Joseph and Job and Sarah and...and...and... Even that mysterious, fleeting, naked boy who ran away into the night from Gethsemane (Mark's Gospel). What a brilliant little touch that was.

...............



Yes there are indeed some cracking figures:

  Methusela died aged 969 years

 Noah, died 350 years after the flood aged 950 years
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Temperance
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PostSubject: Re: The 'Jesus is a myth' myth   Wed 23 Mar 2016, 17:08

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Temperance
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PostSubject: Re: The 'Jesus is a myth' myth   Thu 24 Mar 2016, 06:35

nordmann wrote:
Well, if it's the preservation of the KJV language you're after you'll even find Richard D. on your side, I'd say.


I want more than that, nordmann. But this is the last place to try to explain that. Please note that I said:


I wrote:
The language is so beautiful, and the meaning so profound and so important - but yes, some people do make complete and utter nonsense of it all; and of what he - and so many others - died for.

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PostSubject: Re: The 'Jesus is a myth' myth   Thu 24 Mar 2016, 11:37

Temperance wrote:
So should I quit - stop worrying and enjoy my life, as the Dawkins bus advert advised - or keep fighting (fight the Bell-End Brigade, I mean) for my version of truth? Does anyone care anyway?





Poor Tyndale. We let him - and the ploughboys - down if we do give up. The language is so beautiful, and the meaning so profound and so important - but yes, some people do make complete and utter nonsense of it all; and of what he - and so many others - died for. It sickens me.

But some would say that's just my elitist snobbery...

No, don't give up and what's more the notion that not believing in God means you can stop worrying is facile.

I may not share your belief but I think I share many of your values and what's wrong wrong with elitism anyway? I definitely agree about the KJV language; I quoted Leviticus at my husband's funeral and had the 23rd psalm. (although that's compulsory at a Scottish funeral)

Did you perchance see this the other night?  http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b075634m/the-battle-for-christianity

It's enough for me to think, More power to your traditional C of E elbow and that's from a presbyterian atheist.  These people scare and repulse me in equal measure: all that fervid intensity and those huge gatherings which seem to be a cross between a rave and a Nuremberg rally and the smug, unquestioning certainty. Even their 'good works' seem somehow tainted.  
I can cope with An Island Parish from Unst though,
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PostSubject: Re: The 'Jesus is a myth' myth   Thu 24 Mar 2016, 12:54

Yipee, I have a signal!

Aye, ferv, that smug certainty gets to me too - so then does smug dismissal and denial and that's the reason why I get tangled here from time to time. (Temps, you say the Romans existed? you are sure? is it because you believe what they wrote of themselves? is that acceptable on this site? Christians don't seem to be able to use the same notion. But then I always did grasp the right end of the stick..... I think. Like the Cheshire cat, my signal fades again. Is this a savage internet ploy?
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PostSubject: Re: The 'Jesus is a myth' myth   Thu 24 Mar 2016, 13:57

I've only got one book on this subject, based on a Channel 4 documentary;




Scanning through it, Galilee was comparatively new to Judaism, only being converted (forcibly) a generation prior to the arrival of the Romans.

Luke 13:1
" Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices."
Clearly, some disturbance or other had occurred involving other Galileans.

They also had a distinctive accent, the Judean "Eleazar" becomes the Galilean "Lazur", Latinized as "Lazarus"


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PostSubject: Re: The 'Jesus is a myth' myth   Thu 24 Mar 2016, 14:15

Galilee added to Judea by Aristobulus I, 104/103BC


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nordmann
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PostSubject: Re: The 'Jesus is a myth' myth   Thu 24 Mar 2016, 15:58

Priscilla wrote:
Yipee, I have a signal!

Aye, ferv, that smug certainty gets to me too - so then does smug dismissal and denial and that's the reason why I get tangled here from time to time. (Temps, you say the Romans existed? you are sure? is it because you believe what they wrote of themselves? is that acceptable on this site? Christians don't seem to be able to use the same notion. But then I always did grasp the right end of the stick..... I think. Like the Cheshire cat, my signal fades again. Is this a savage internet ploy?

When we read what the Romans wrote about themselves we can be sure most of it is a relatively accurate and factual record of what they believed to be true, including for example that the foundation of Rome by wolf-reared twins Romulus and Remus was the opening stanza to a cherished myth explaining Roman provenance, and one moreover that probably contained elements based loosely on historical events mixed into the blend. So you see, Christians and Romans are in fact afforded the same capacity to embellish "notions" when creating myth. However when the same Romans, through their writings, demand we accept this myth to be a completely factual account we of course intelligently demur, as we should with any such demand.

I believe you may still be somewhat "tangled", alas.
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PostSubject: Re: The 'Jesus is a myth' myth   Fri 25 Mar 2016, 12:04

This was mentioned over on the BBC PoV Board;

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nordmann
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PostSubject: Re: The 'Jesus is a myth' myth   Fri 25 Mar 2016, 12:51

We linked to the original, Trike, on a more relevant thread back in April.

Marxism

Gaughan's song is a good riposte to all who rather naively claim in recent times that "Jesus was the original Marxist/Socialist/Communist/Hippy" (take your pick).

However discussing Jesus's (or Judas's) presumed political outlook gets us no nearer discerning actual history from mythological construct in the New Testament, at least not without way more supposition than the narrative strictly allows to be made safely. Discussing Galilee as a political region on the other hand does tend to support the view that the gospels are myth rather than serious history. The region's well attested long-standing exposure to Phoenician and Hellenic influences, which had seriously distinguished it culturally and indeed religiously from its southern neighbours by the time of the Roman occupation, is rather glossed over or ignored in the extant narrative. This crucial aspect to the education and forming of any significant person from the region is not explored in the narrative, even though several key personnel originate there.

A continuing Christian reluctance to acknowledge these non-Jewish influences which might have played such a crucial role in the Christian departure from what was then mainstream Mosaic monotheist theology is reflected in the (Franciscan funded) excavation and conservation of the ruins of the "White Synagogue" in Capernaum, a town that plays such a significant role in the narrative of the Christian myth. The synagogue's history is well presented by its Franciscan curators to visitors, from its original construction by a gentile to its ultimate destruction at the time of Islamic takeover of the region, though apparently not by Moslems but by Christians. Its fundamentally Greek architectural style and choice of materials in its construction is not however alluded to at all.

This determination to avoid acknowledgement of what are blatant and well attested influences, as evidenced by the archaeological and philological records to hand and in fact continually reinforced by further such research, is what has always most typified Christian accounts of their own early history. And while there may be many sound theological reasons supporting this omission, there are absolutely no good ones in terms of historical research that I can think of.
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Temperance
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PostSubject: Re: The 'Jesus is a myth' myth   Sun 27 Mar 2016, 15:56

ferval wrote:


No, don't give up and what's more the notion that not believing in God means you can stop worrying is facile.

I may not share your belief but I think I share many of your values and what's wrong wrong with elitism anyway? I definitely agree about the KJV language; I quoted Leviticus at my husband's funeral and had the 23rd psalm. (although that's compulsory at a Scottish funeral)

Did you perchance see this the other night?  http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b075634m/the-battle-for-christianity

It's enough for me to think, More power to your traditional C of E elbow and that's from a presbyterian atheist.  These people scare and repulse me in equal measure: all that fervid intensity and those huge gatherings which seem to be a cross between a rave and a Nuremberg rally and the smug, unquestioning certainty. Even their 'good works' seem somehow tainted.  
I can cope with An Island Parish from Unst though,


Than you for that message, ferval. It meant a lot to me when I read it earlier. I haven't watched that programme yet, but hope to tomorrow. Yes, I think we do all here share many values.

The HC lot scare and repulse me too. The C of E isn't what is used to be, but then perhaps it never was what it used to be. Perhaps I need to grow up - an embarrassing admission for a woman of my age. It's a painful process.



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PostSubject: Re: The 'Jesus is a myth' myth   Sun 27 Mar 2016, 16:15

nordmann wrote:

Gaughan's song is a good riposte to all who rather naively claim in recent times that "Jesus was the original Marxist/Socialist/Communist/Hippy" (take your pick).



I was the one who first suggested that over on the old Marx thread, Trike. I was referring at the time to a remark made by Professor Diarmaid MacCulloch who described Jesus of Nazareth as "a social radical". Here are some details about Professor MacCulloch from Wiki. Whatever else the man may be he is not "naïve". I may be, but he certainly ain't.

Diarmaid Ninian John MacCulloch, Kt, FSA, FRHistS, FBA (born 31 October 1951) is a British historian and academic, specialising in church history and the history of Christianity. Since 1995, he has been a fellow of St Cross College, Oxford; he was formerly the senior tutor. Since 1997, he has been Professor of the History of the Church at the University of Oxford.

Though ordained as a deacon in the Church of England, MacCulloch declined ordination to the priesthood because of the church's attitude to his homosexuality.[1] In 2009 he encapsulated the evolution of his religious beliefs: "I was brought up in the presence of the Bible, and I remember with affection what it was like to hold a dogmatic position on the statements of Christian belief. I would now describe myself as a candid friend of Christianity."[
2]

I like his description of himself as "a candid friend of Christianity". My position exactly.
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PostSubject: Re: The 'Jesus is a myth' myth   Mon 28 Mar 2016, 11:29

National Geographic's pdf on the Gospel of Judas:


Gospel of Judas pdf
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PostSubject: Re: The 'Jesus is a myth' myth   Tue 18 Apr 2017, 14:09

There was a interesting programme on Channel 5 on Friday evening which argued that Jesus of Nazareth was backed politically by both Herod Antipas and Pontius Pilate as an alternative to Caiaphas and the Sadducees. Herod wanting to be King of all Judea, while Pilate saw Orthodox Jews as troublemakers, hence the failure to take any action when Jesus attacked the Temple moneylenders.

Both Herod and Pilate were ultimately backed by Sejanus, at the time the Numero Uno in Rome, and it was only after the fall of Sejanus that Jesus became expendable.
The programme also argued that Jesus was in Jerusalem for far longer than the traditional week. The Palm branches waved on his entry, being indicative of the Feast of Tabernacle, which takes place in the Autumn, and that Jesus spent six months or so in prison, while the situation in Rome was settled.

http://www.channel5.com/show/last-days-of-jesus/
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PostSubject: Re: The 'Jesus is a myth' myth   Tue 18 Apr 2017, 14:47

Wasn't it an interesting programme, Trike? I was going to mention it, but I didn't like to. I'm glad you have. Barrie Wilson  - one of the academics featured in the programme - has written about the "Lost Gospel" - all Gnostic stuff. I'm very interested in the Gnostics and so is Wilson. His theory about Sejanus/Herod Antipas/Jesus of Nazareth is fascinating. No doubt Wilson will be dismissed here as a nutter, but his credentials are pretty impressive (see below). He is no Dan Brown. He wrote this in his prologue to his How Jesus Became Christian: The Early Christians and the Transformation of a Jewish Teacher into the Son of God (2008):

In particular, it is not written for those who are plagued by an absolutist spirituality, who claim that they and they alone possess the only one correct interpretation of their particular brand of religion. Such a stance represents the enemy of dialogue and discourse and it's a pathology that unfortunately runs through many contemporary religious faiths.

Definitely a man of my own kidney, if not spleen.

I also liked the woman from the University of Edinburgh too - Professor Helen Bond.

Wilson was born in Montreal in November 1940 and attended Bishop's University, Lennoxville, Quebec, majoring in Philosophy and Psychology, graduating with a B.A. magna cum laude. He completed an M.A. in Philosophy at Columbia University, New York City, and took courses at Union Theological Seminary and the Episcopal Church's General Theological Seminary, both in New York City. He earned a degree in Biblical Studies (S.T.B.) from the Anglican Church’s Trinity College, University of Toronto, studying with Dr. Frank Beare, a noted Biblical scholar and Dr. Eugene Fairweather, an Anglican historian of early Christianity and Dr. Norman Pittenger, a well-regarded Episcopalian process theologian.

Wilson completed his Ph.D. in Philosophy of Religion and Near Eastern Studies at the University of Toronto in 1975. His dissertation was on Biblical Hermeneutics, the logic of textual interpretation, and evidence for making sense of texts.

As a historian Wilson is interested in evidence-based reasoning about biblical texts. As he writes on his website, "My passion has been the new historical puzzles and 'disconnects' created by recent explorations into the foundations of early Christianity."
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PostSubject: Re: The 'Jesus is a myth' myth   Tue 18 Apr 2017, 16:10

Temp, the theory would also fix 33AD as Crucifixion year.

A view also espoused by this earthquake theory:

Friday, 3 April 33.
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PostSubject: Re: The 'Jesus is a myth' myth   Thu 20 Apr 2017, 13:41

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Temperance
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PostSubject: Re: The 'Jesus is a myth' myth   Thu 20 Apr 2017, 14:36

Well, perhaps we need a Symbolum Nordorium here. Come on, Paul, I'm sure you can come up with something for us ... Smile

Credo in Deum Nordum omnipotentum, creatorem Rei Historicae etc. etc. (not sure about that last word - haven't a clue what the genitive singular of historicus modifying a feminine noun is. Has anyone these days???).

But it's hopeless trying to argue/discuss these things with either the fundamental Christians or the rabid atheists - whole futile thing reminds me of that ancient song:

"...clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right - here I am stuck in the middle etc. etc...."






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PostSubject: Re: The 'Jesus is a myth' myth   Thu 20 Apr 2017, 15:08

Tempus Fidgit wrote:
creatorem Rei Historicae

The site's name should always have been Historicæ and not Historica anyway - though "Historica" is actually ok in the ablative sense (motion away), so is fine if it means "things away from history", such as the cat thread.


Your Latin is therefore spot on, though strictly speaking "Res" in the title implies "things" rather than "thing" so Creatorem Rerum Historicæ is probably what you should be writing out a few hundred times.
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Temperance
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PostSubject: Re: The 'Jesus is a myth' myth   Thu 20 Apr 2017, 15:48

nordmann wrote:
Tempus Fidgit


I do hope that witty little "fidgit" is not a nasty portmanteau word, nordmann.



The "cat thread" - as you so coldly and uncharitably call our popular and often very political moggy topic - does no harm and has brought much joy to several of us. So hands off - sir. Please.


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PostSubject: Re: The 'Jesus is a myth' myth   Thu 20 Apr 2017, 16:22

The Daily Wail tell us that the hunt is on for the DNA of Jesus. Next we'll have crack pots claiming to be descendants

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-4419810/Scientists-religious-scholars-hunt-DNA-JESUS.html
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PostSubject: Re: The 'Jesus is a myth' myth   Fri 21 Apr 2017, 06:34

Re moggy thread fans and other idiots and crackpots. May I just point out that the programme which Trike brought to our attention a couple of days ago was not about religion as such: it was about the historical events in the Roman Empire a couple of thousand of years ago. The possible Sejanus/Pilate/ Herod Antipas connection - an interesting theory about the Herod Antipas/Rome pact to replace the Sadducean aristocratic elite who ran the Temple with an apparently harmless puppet High Priest and his followers - was delivered and examined by serious academics from several universities. The theory that the events of Holy Week actually took place over several months made a lot of sense.

After Sejanus' fall, his name was erased from all records (why he is not mentioned in the New Testament?) and Tiberius changed his tune towards the Jewish people. I knew nothing about this until I watched the documentary.

The academics who presented the programme  may have had it all wrong - historians often do - but idiots they most certainly were not. I offer this for consideration before returning to looking at cat pictures (which is all I do all day of course).


Sejanus' and Pilate's Anti-semitic Policies

Josephus details Pilate's hatred and baiting of the Jewish people, which will be elaborated upon below. Philo claims that Sejanus was anti-semitic and planned to destroy the Jewish race completely.55 Though Tiberius was probably also anti-semitic, he realized after Sejanus was exposed that many of the charges brought against the Jews were fabricated by Sejanus, so in 32 CE he issued a decree throughout the Empire not to mistreat the Jews.

It is likely that Pilate was simply carrying out Sejanus' anti-semitic policy. Philo does not actually say this; rather, this is inferred from what Philo says in the following passage.


"Therefore everyone everywhere, even if he was not naturally well disposed toward the Jews, was afraid to engage in destroying any of our institutions, and indeed it was the same under Tiberius though matters in Italy became troublesome when Sejanus was organizing his onslaughts. For Tiberius knew the truth, he knew at once after Sejanus' death that the accusations made against the Jewish inhabitants of Rome were false slanders, invented by him because he wished to make away with the nation, knowing that it would take the sole or the principal part in opposing his unholy plots and actions, and would defend the emperor when in danger of becoming the victim of treachery. And he charged his procurators in every place to which they were appointed to speak comfortably to the members of our nation in the different cities, assuring them that the penal measures did not extend to all but only to the guilty, who were few, and to disturb none of the established customs but even to regard them as a trust committed to their care, the people as naturally peaceable, and the institutions as an influence promoting orderly conduct."

It is clear from this passage that Sejanus was propagating anti-semitic policies while he was in power. It is also clear that procurators with jurisdiction over Jewish communities practiced those policies under Sejanus' authority. Finally, it is clear that Tiberius told those procurators that such policy was no longer permissible.




PS Paul - I meant no disrespect or unkindness to you yesterday: I wanted to discuss this as a serious topic and was stung by the posting of a mocking video in response to my post. No doubt me having a John Burgon moment again, but there you go.
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PostSubject: Re: The 'Jesus is a myth' myth   Fri 21 Apr 2017, 09:17

Oh, come on! You have to admit the NT9O'CN sketch is great! You do take things ridiculously personal, ma'am.

I'm all for establishing the correct historical context for any events in 1st century Judea, even mythical ones, so I have no problem at all with taking the Sejanus theme forward here. However it is better to do so without overly complicating analysis of the events by relating them to quasi-historical assertions related to individuals who may or may not have existed. The location of the discussion in this thread with its rather self-evidently declared theme accentuating the quasi-historical is therefore hardly conducive to impassionate debate, I reckon.

Just once I'd like to see people enthusiastically engage in a discussion based on Philo and Josephus et al (ie. Jewish history in the post Roman conquest era) without feeling the need to relate it to the badly written history which is the Christian gospel and the central character of those narratives. Historically, it's akin to discussing the emergence of the Plantagenet dynasty while feeling obliged to mention Robin Hood in every second sentence.

If we can do that, then please by all means start a thread about this fascinating topic. And thanks to you and Trike for bringing it up!
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Temperance
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PostSubject: Re: The 'Jesus is a myth' myth   Fri 21 Apr 2017, 09:38





Felix blinks in amused disbelief. Badly written? Oh come on, sir! That is utterly-utter nonsense: it's amazingly clever stuff - look how it's fooled everybody for two thousand years.

However, that's another story...

Such a thread would be interesting, but you should start it.
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PostSubject: Re: The 'Jesus is a myth' myth   Fri 21 Apr 2017, 10:05

It's badly written history, as I said.

Cracking yarns though, I agree with you there. (The Sheriff of Nottingham is one of the best pantomime villains ever devised).

If I start such a thread it would be about identifying redaction as a political and religious device in the philological record. It would be called "Who Tried To Take The Philo Out Of Philology?". Poor sod - if he could come back and see what the Christian "religious scholars" are doing to him I wouldn't put it past him to hunt them all down and brand ἱερὸς λόγος, θεῖος λόγος, ὀρθὸς λόγος on their foreheads (as he allegedly once threatened to do to a precursor of theirs in Alexandria back in the day).

I'd even do the bellows for him - every little helps.
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PostSubject: Re: The 'Jesus is a myth' myth   Fri 21 Apr 2017, 12:03

nordmann wrote:
It's badly written history, as I said.


But they weren't writing history! That is the huge mistake that all maddeningly stubborn fundamentalists - be they Christian or atheist - insist on making. I have never come across such obtuse people in my life. You all infuriate me - talk about closed minds and closed hearts.These writers, especially those whom we know as "Luke" or "John", were writing in the best Jewish literary tradition - and yes, it is cracking stuff. Read Spong and Borg on this. And New Testament scholars who are in agreement about this (my) approach are not necessarily "Christians", you know. Why can't you concede this?

You don't scare me with your Philo Greek. Now Philo pastry - that's a different matter...
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PostSubject: Re: The 'Jesus is a myth' myth   Fri 21 Apr 2017, 12:20

You're telling me !!!!?! It's bloody awful history, you're right !!!!!!

This is the problem with fundamentally confused amateur philologists. They infuriate me! Talk about not knowing what a "history" meant, historiographically speaking, at the time these fables were committed to parchment. These writers, all of them actually, were writing in a not quite perfect but fairly passable Jewish literary tradition - but yes, in the form of historical narratives, to them a very important aspect to the fable as narrated according to that tradition's standards and rules, in which any truth could be asserted to make the rest of it sound true too. We call it fiction, or sometimes even Trump-speak. But they didn't. They called it "history". Why can't you concede this?

I know this because I've read Spongebob and Bjørn, among others, and they all agree so it must be correct.

I will find scarier Greek for you - you're obviously getting inured to the normal stuff.
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PostSubject: Re: The 'Jesus is a myth' myth   Fri 21 Apr 2017, 12:47

I know I am a "confused amateur philologist" - what a horrid thing to say - but have I ever pretended to be anything else? But taking the p*ss out of people's genuine interest and their attempts to learn more about something - which you do - is never a good idea - not in my book (not the Bible) anyway. The message of the New Testament is what is important: you know all that stupid crap about being compassionate and kind and trying not to be a self-righteous, judgemental prat? Anything further from the nightmare of Trump-speak I cannot imagine.

Saint John - whoever he was - was influenced by Philo. Possibly Jesus of Nazareth himself was too. It's all good ole Plato mixed with good ole Moses stuff. Best of all worlds, I think. But then what do I know?

I am retreating to fume in the depths of my compost heap now. Have a good weekend.
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PostSubject: Re: The 'Jesus is a myth' myth   Fri 21 Apr 2017, 13:02

I'm not a "turn the other cheek" kind of bod, as you can see. You call me a fundamentalist, and I call you confused - sounds about fair to me.

Have a great weekend too! Compost is good.
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PostSubject: Re: The 'Jesus is a myth' myth   Thu 04 May 2017, 11:49

I came across this book review and recommendation by Peter Thonemann in the LRB and thought it might be of interest since it appears to address some of the subject matter of the TV programme discussed earlier. One for ordering up from the library though.
A History of the Jewish War AD66-74

Almost two millennia on, the catastrophic Jewish revolt against Rome (AD 66–74) remains a source of pride and trauma for Jews everywhere. Trauma, for the sack of Jerusalem by Roman soldiers and the destruction of the Second Temple in AD 70; pride, above all for the heroic defence of the rock of Masada in AD 73. Yet the causes of the war remain deeply unclear. Was the Roman administration of Judaea uncharacteristically ham-fisted and insensitive? Was the revolt sparked by factional struggles within the native ruling class? Or – most controversial of all – might there have been some fundamental incompatibility between Roman and Jewish culture and religion? Steve Mason is the foremost modern interpreter of the historian Josephus, whose The Jewish War (c.75) is our main narrative source for the great revolt. Mason’s A History of the Jewish War, A.D. 66–74 (Cambridge) will surely be the definitive account for our times.
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PostSubject: Re: The 'Jesus is a myth' myth   Tue 16 May 2017, 18:26

ferval wrote:
I came across this book review and recommendation by Peter Thonemann in the LRB and thought it might be of interest since it appears to address some of the subject matter of the TV programme discussed earlier. One for ordering up from the library though.
A History of the Jewish War AD66-74

Almost two millennia on, the catastrophic Jewish revolt against Rome (AD 66–74) remains a source of pride and trauma for Jews everywhere. Trauma, for the sack of Jerusalem by Roman soldiers and the destruction of the Second Temple in AD 70; pride, above all for the heroic defence of the rock of Masada in AD 73. Yet the causes of the war remain deeply unclear. Was the Roman administration of Judaea uncharacteristically ham-fisted and insensitive? Was the revolt sparked by factional struggles within the native ruling class? Or – most controversial of all – might there have been some fundamental incompatibility between Roman and Jewish culture and religion? Steve Mason is the foremost modern interpreter of the historian Josephus, whose The Jewish War (c.75) is our main narrative source for the great revolt. Mason’s A History of the Jewish War, A.D. 66–74 (Cambridge) will surely be the definitive account for our times.


Thanks for that, ferval. Can't get the book, though, not even at Exeter. £86 is a lot of money...

I wonder what was the "Parthian dimension" and how it affected the history of that troubled region? Parthia and Judaea seem to have been major headaches for the Romans - bit like the Irish to the British.

I'm seeing Jesus of Nazareth - the man, not the Divine Being that is - more and more as a political figure these days.
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PostSubject: Re: The 'Jesus is a myth' myth   Wed 17 May 2017, 17:31

ferval wrote:
I came across this book review and recommendation by Peter Thonemann in the LRB and thought it might be of interest since it appears to address some of the subject matter of the TV programme discussed earlier. One for ordering up from the library though.
A History of the Jewish War AD66-74

Almost two millennia on, the catastrophic Jewish revolt against Rome (AD 66–74) remains a source of pride and trauma for Jews everywhere. Trauma, for the sack of Jerusalem by Roman soldiers and the destruction of the Second Temple in AD 70; pride, above all for the heroic defence of the rock of Masada in AD 73. Yet the causes of the war remain deeply unclear. Was the Roman administration of Judaea uncharacteristically ham-fisted and insensitive? Was the revolt sparked by factional struggles within the native ruling class? Or – most controversial of all – might there have been some fundamental incompatibility between Roman and Jewish culture and religion? Steve Mason is the foremost modern interpreter of the historian Josephus, whose The Jewish War (c.75) is our main narrative source for the great revolt. Mason’s A History of the Jewish War, A.D. 66–74 (Cambridge) will surely be the definitive account for our times.


Thanks for that, ferval. Can't get the book, though, not even at Exeter main library. £86 is a lot of money...

I wonder what was the "Parthian dimension" and how it affected the history of that troubled region? Parthia and Judaea seem to have been major headaches for the Romans - bit like the Irish to the British.

And I'm seeing Jesus of Nazareth - the man, not the Divine Being that is - more and more as a political figure these days - rather like a 1st century Jewish Mahatma ("HIgh-Souled", "Venerable One") Gandhi:


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PostSubject: Re: The 'Jesus is a myth' myth   Wed 17 May 2017, 17:33

Don't know what I did there - was editing my post and I've sent it again.

Not "bumping" - honest!
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PostSubject: Re: The 'Jesus is a myth' myth   Thu 18 May 2017, 15:00

Temperance wrote:
ferval wrote:
I came across this book review and recommendation by Peter Thonemann in the LRB and thought it might be of interest since it appears to address some of the subject matter of the TV programme discussed earlier. One for ordering up from the library though.
A History of the Jewish War AD66-74
Thanks for that, ferval. Can't get the book, though, not even at Exeter main library. £86 is a lot of money...


It is a bit pricey. Another of Mason's books, which is now in paperback. No doubt the Jewish War book will appear in paperback at some point.

Josephus and the New Testament
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PostSubject: Re: The 'Jesus is a myth' myth   Sun 21 May 2017, 08:45

Thank you for that link, Trike. I haven't bought any of Mason's books, but I did splash out on Graham Stanton's The Gospels and Jesus. I'm really glad I did. Stanton was Lady Margaret Professor of Divinity at Cambridge from 1998 to 2007 and his book is beautifully written. A couple of things are perhaps worth quoting here.

Stanton does not seem to be simply a "theologian": he is all for sound scholarship, the honest weighing of evidence. He says this:

Until recently archaeologists and specialists working with literary evidence managed to live largely separate lives. Now they both realise that they need one another's expertise. No longer will scholars writing major books on Jesus of Nazareth ignore the site reports of archaeologists working in Galilee. No longer will archaeologists attempt to interpret their finds without considering the relevant literary evidence most carefully. In exploring the social and religious world of Jesus one needs a spade in one hand and relevant texts in the other.

So spade and texts? Both are important if one is to be balanced and fair in one's approach?

Stanton also looks at the claims made since the eighteenth century that all the Gospels were written c. 100 CE, or later, and that only then did early Christians "invent" Jesus as a historical figure. He considers that the "most thoroughgoing and sophisticated statement of this theory" has been set out in five books by G.A. Wells, the most recent being The Jesus Legend (1996). However, he concludes:

Today nearly all historians, whether Christians or not, accept that Jesus existed and that the Gospels contain plenty of valuable evidence which has to be weighed and assessed critically (my emphasis). There is general agreement that, with the possible exception of Paul, we know far more about Jesus of Nazareth than about any first- or second-century Jewish or pagan religious teacher.

Is this Cambridge professor quite wrong to say this?

Looking at the "literary evidence" from outside the gospels - which of course must be done - Stanton considers the usual sources that both nordmann and Tim and others have examined elsewhere: Tacitus, Pliny, Suetonius, Lucian of Samosata, but includes also what he calls an "often overlooked piece of evidence". This is a letter written in Syriac by one Mara bar Serapion. This man, writing from prison to his son, points out that those who persecuted wise men were overtaken by misfortune. He gives as examples the deaths of Socrates, Pythagoras and "the wise King of the Jews".

I also found interesting Stanton's comments about Josephus. He notes that in the past many scholars have written off what Josephus wrote as "a later interpolation by a pious Christian scribe", but that that opinion has changed recently. Have no more time now, but will add later what is Stanton's version of the famous Josephus paragraph. Once what Stanton calls the "obvious interpolations" are removed, the disputed paragraph gives an ambivalent - even mildly hostile - assessment of Jesus of Nazareth - "one which can be attributed to Josephus with confidence".
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PostSubject: Re: The 'Jesus is a myth' myth   Mon 22 May 2017, 12:53

PS Won't type out the Josephus stuff because, as MM has so aptly put it elsewhere: "Who cares anyway?"

But I do want to add one last thing - that, as Tim's title of this thread suggests, the idea that Jesus of Nazareth was an entirely fictional character - pure myth - is now discredited by all reputable scholars, Christian, Jewish or atheist. Even Professor A.G. Wells, mentioned above:

..."later allowed for the possibility that the central figure of the gospel stories may be based on a historical character from first-century Galilee: "The Galilean and the Cynic elements ... may contain a core of reminiscences of an itinerant Cynic-type Galilean preacher (who, however, is certainly not to be identified with the Jesus of the earliest Christian documents)." Sayings and memories of this preacher may have been preserved in the "Q" document that is hypothesized as the source of many "sayings" of Jesus found in both gospels of Matthew and Luke. However, Wells concluded that the reconstruction of this historical figure from the extant literature would be a hopeless task.


What we have in the gospels is surely a fusion of two originally quite independent streams of tradition, ...the Galilean preacher of the early first century who had met with rejection, and the supernatural personage of the early epistles, [the Jesus of Paul] who sojourned briefly on Earth and then, rejected, returned to heaven — have been condensed into one. The [human] preacher has been given a [mythical] salvific death and resurrection, and these have been set not in an unspecified past (as in the early epistles) but in a historical context consonant with the Galilean preaching. The fusion of the two figures will have been facilitated by the fact that both owe quite a lot of their substance in the documents—to ideas very important in the Jewish Wisdom literature. (Cutting Jesus Down to Size, 2009, p. 16)

The updated position taken by Wells was interpreted by other scholars as an "about-face", abandoning his initial thesis in favor of accepting the existence of a historical Jesus. However, Wells insisted that this figure of late first-century gospel stories is distinct from the sacrificial Christ myth of Paul's epistles and other early Christian documents, and that these two figures have different sources before being fused in Mark, writing, "if I am right, against Doherty and Price - it is not all mythical." Wells notes that he belongs in the category of those who argue that Jesus did exist, but that reports about Jesus are so unreliable that we can know little or nothing about him...


That seems about right to me. And the central and most important question we must now ask ourselves is surely not simply "Is this all myth?" - but rather what is the ongoing significance , if any, to our lives today - of the history of the man Jesus and of the myth of the Christ figure?


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PostSubject: Re: The 'Jesus is a myth' myth   Mon 22 May 2017, 13:22

Temp wrote:
But I do want to add one last thing - that, as Tim's title of this thread suggests, the idea that Jesus of Nazareth was an entirely fictional character - pure myth - is now discredited by all reputable scholars, Christian, Jewish or atheist.

That infers then that Robert M. Price, George Albert Wells, Earl Doherty, Thomas L. Thompson, Thomas L. Brodie, and in fact any others who apply Bayesian historiographical criteria to the so-called "evidence" (ie. reputable historians) are all disreputable. I strongly disagree with such a sweeping Tim-like "infinite number of scholars" logic. And I also dispute Wells' stated stance as quoted and alleged above. How important such a little word as "did" can be when it is thrown into a sentence instead of "could". Wells has always maintained that the name relates to a lost account of a forgotten preacher which has filtered from the "Q" document into the biblical lore with which we are familiar. Biblical Jesus however most categorically never existed, that is Wells' point. Misquoting Wells' own words so it sounds like he's "admitted Jesus did exist all along" is so creepily dishonest on the part of "Christian" theologians that it makes one wonder what the Christian stance on honesty is at all.

You see? Someone does care!
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PostSubject: Re: The 'Jesus is a myth' myth   Mon 22 May 2017, 13:32

And, as ever, you ignore the important question:

I wrote:

And the central and most important question we must now ask ourselves is surely not simply "Is this all myth?" - but rather what is the ongoing significance, if any, to our lives today - of the history of the man Jesus and of the myth of the Christ figure?

But that's OK - we all have to make our own minds up about such things. Arguing about them is of absolutely no use to anyone.

You see? I don't care any more (about having arguments, that is).
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PostSubject: Re: The 'Jesus is a myth' myth   Mon 22 May 2017, 14:02

That is certainly the central and most important question to Christians who, by definition, have invested faith in the existence historically of such an unlikely character (as presented). The so-called "man Jesus" and the so-called "Christ figure", as well as all the other permutations now extant for that alleged character.

For historians the central and most important question is why the normally quite exact criteria used to ascertain veracity all get relaxed in the case of this alleged character. The answer - that Christians wouldn't have much point to their faith otherwise - then raises another question about innate human disingenuity and what chance the historical record has against such sustained onslaught.
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PostSubject: Re: The 'Jesus is a myth' myth   Mon 22 May 2017, 14:58

You just don't get it, do you, nordmann, for all your great intelligence and undoubted learning? That, for struggling humans, the "truth" of myth is sometimes - perhaps always - far more important than the "truth" of "history"?

Which goes back to the question posed in John 18:38. And remember Bacon's comment about that "jesting Pilate" who chose not to "stay for an answer"?


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PostSubject: Re: The 'Jesus is a myth' myth   Mon 22 May 2017, 15:41

I'm probably going to regret entering into this discussion but ...

It seems to me that the 'Jesus is a myth, myth' ... is a bit like the question of whether William Shakespeare wrote his plays. In the end, whether it was a person called Shakespeare, possibly using a nom de plume, who was the author ... or whether it was Marlow, Bacon, Johnson, de Vere ... or any of the others, either alone, or in collaboration, or parts done separately ... is largely irrelevant. Whoever actually wrote the corpus of work, today it is all generally recognised as being by a certain 'William Shakespeare' even though no such man may ever have existed.

The same can surely be said about the person generally known as Jesus of Nazareth. As a person he may well never have ever existed but most people today still recognise the 'character' of the person, even though he may well be completely mythological or a composite of several people.

Unlike Jesus however, Will' Shakespeare, whoever he was, was only writing for popular entertainment, and his plays are not generally proclaimed as revealing of some great divine universal truth, nor taken as the basis for a powerful religion. But the claim (essentially that the New Testament is the word of God uniquely revealed by his 'son' living as a mortal on Earth) is surely only what humans have chosen to make of words supposedly originally spoken by the character/person known as Jesus, over the intervening two millenia. There's really no historical evidence to say otherwise is there.


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PostSubject: Re: The 'Jesus is a myth' myth   Mon 22 May 2017, 15:54

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PostSubject: Re: The 'Jesus is a myth' myth   Mon 22 May 2017, 15:59

I'll probably regret this as well:

Jesus' dad;
 a Roman archer named Pantera is mentioned in the Talmud as being father of Yeshu. The reality of Jesus is not questioned in the Talmud, his parentage is.

Grave marker of a Roman soldier, named Tiberius Pantera found in Germany. Dates from the correct period

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PostSubject: Re: The 'Jesus is a myth' myth   Mon 22 May 2017, 16:03

Other Talmudic references:

Jesus in the Talmud


Sanhedrin 43a relates the trial and execution of a sorcerer named Jesus (Yeshu in Hebrew) and his five disciples. The sorcerer is stoned and hanged on the Eve of Passover.
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PostSubject: Re: The 'Jesus is a myth' myth   Mon 22 May 2017, 16:04

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PostSubject: Re: The 'Jesus is a myth' myth   Mon 22 May 2017, 16:16

Temperance wrote:
What is the truth about us wretched humans? Answers, not in a horrid tweet, but on a postcard (with a second-class stamp), please.

... maybe that we humans, which ironically label ourselves, Homo sapiens, ie "wise or knowing" ... are probably unique in Earth's history, and possibly unique in the cosmos as a whole (though I personally doubt that), as being the first to be able to question the reason for our existence and actions, other than the requisites of simple, instinctive, immediate survival ... and, for all our undeniable cleverness, we're perhaps undertandably not (yet) very good at it, being biologically still basically 'just' apes.

If we accepted those facts about our place in the whole universe, and so learned a bit of humility and tolerance, (while at the same time cutting ourselves a bit of slack for our species' imperfect, still evolving state), we might still do alright. If not, and we really do screw things up as we rather now seem to be doing, the Earth and many other of our current fellow Earth inhabitants, or at least their descendants, will still be carrying on long after we've gone. And we'll be gone anyway fairly soon in geological terms ... almost no species exists unchanged/unevolved for more than just a few million years.

You'll probably counter that simple ideas like that are just all part of JC's divine message, "Consider the lillies ... etc ", but personally I don't think you really need to invoke God's son in getting that message across (and let's not forget that the Old Testament clearly puts humans firmly at the centre of things, in god's image, with all the Earth, and all its plants and animals, divinely "given" for mankind's sole benefit). But hey, I'm an atheist so obviously there aren't any gods in my universe - or at least not in the universe as I observe, experience and understand it.


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PostSubject: Re: The 'Jesus is a myth' myth   Mon 22 May 2017, 16:48

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PostSubject: Re: The 'Jesus is a myth' myth   Mon 22 May 2017, 16:55

Lillies are good ... lily-beetles not so much (I'm suffering an infestation of them at the moment), but even they and their plant-munching, disgusting shit-covered lavae, do have their role in the grand scheme of things ... I suppose.
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