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Re: [XTalk] Facts of the historical Jesus

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  • Patrick Narkinsky
    ... Stipulating (but not necessarily conceding) that the gospels are not basically historical, the crucifixion is unlikely to be fabricated. The problem is
    Message 1 of 18 , Mar 15, 2004
      On Mar 14, 2004, at 8:45 PM, Rbsads@... wrote:

      > But I must ask why an historian would be convinced of the historical
      > fact of
      > Jesus' crucifixion?

      Stipulating (but not necessarily conceding) that the gospels are not
      basically historical, the crucifixion is unlikely to be fabricated.
      The problem is this - Jesus is described as Christ from the beginning
      of the Christian movement. The Christ - or Messiah - was in Jewish
      expectation the king of Judah who would finally overcome foreign
      overlordship and restore the people of YHWH to their rightful place of
      glory.

      Crucifixion at the hands of the Romans would present a prima facie case
      that Jesus was *not* the Messiah. It seems grossly improbable to
      suppose that any Christian would have made it up.

      Patrick

      --
      Patrick Narkinsky - patrick@...
    • Ted Weeden
      ... the ... of ... Richard, when I say that as a historian I am convinced that the crucifixion of Jesus is a historical fact, I am making a judgment based upon
      Message 2 of 18 , Mar 15, 2004
        Richard Smith wrote on Sunday, March 14, 2004:

        > In a message dated 3/14/04 8:04:52 PM Eastern Standard Time,
        > weedent@... writes:
        >
        > > However, I am also convinced that of all the events associated
        > > with Jesus that Jesus' crucifixion itself, not the Gospels' accounts of
        the
        > > crucifixion, is bedrock history.
        >
        > Ted,
        >
        > Thanks for your response. I am especially grateful for it, as I am not a
        > scholar and not an historian. I appreciate your patience.
        >
        > But I must ask why an historian would be convinced of the historical fact
        of
        > Jesus' crucifixion?

        Richard, when I say that as a historian I am convinced that the crucifixion
        of Jesus is a historical fact, I am making a judgment based upon the best
        available evidence, weighing that evidence against various probabilities,
        and then deciding which of the various probabilities is most cogent and
        persuasive. In the case of the crucifixion it is, as has been pointed out
        by others on this list, multiply attested by both Christian sources (Paul,
        the Gospels) and non-Christian sources (the Jewish historian Josephus
        [unless Josephus' reference to Jesus' crucifixion is a total Christian
        corruption of the Josephus text] and the Roman historian Tacitus) of the
        first century. There is no evidence that any source of the first century
        states or infers that Jesus died a natural death or by some other tragedy,
        or that Jesus was mythologically viewed as having been apotheosized or
        translated to heaven, as some traditions hold to be the case for Elijah,
        Moses, etc. Using the criterion of embarrassment, employed by some Jesus
        scholars, such as Meyer, would suggest that Jesus' death by crucifixion
        could only have been an embarrassing, even scandalous, fact about him (see
        Paul) in the view of non-Jewish or Gentile persons, since his crucifixion
        would have been recognized as a clear indication that Jesus was guilty of
        some capital crime against the Roman Empire. If Jesus did not die from
        crucifixion, it is difficult to explain why Christians, interested in
        winning converts among Gentiles of the time, would have invented such a
        tradition, since such a tradition would in effect serve to undermine their
        evangelistic cause rather than support it.

        Ted Weeden
      • townsendgm
        ... wrote: snip ... facie case ... improbable to ... I know it is received wisdom that no Christian would have made up the crucifixion, but that
        Message 3 of 18 , Mar 15, 2004
          --- In crosstalk2@yahoogroups.com, Patrick Narkinsky
          <patrick@n...> wrote:

          snip

          >
          > Crucifixion at the hands of the Romans would present a prima
          facie case
          > that Jesus was *not* the Messiah. It seems grossly
          improbable to
          > suppose that any Christian would have made it up.
          >
          > Patrick
          >
          > --
          > Patrick Narkinsky - patrick@n...

          I know it is received wisdom that no Christian would have made
          up the crucifixion, but that files in the face of the fact that the
          cross is the most successful marketing symbol in the history of
          the human race. Just how far would Christianity have come if
          Jesus were said to have died as a result of an ox cart
          accident--or, for that matter, of old age?

          Far from being an embarrassment to Christianity, the crucifiction
          has been (dare I say it?) its salvation.


          Guy M. Townsend
        • Jim West
          ... It s quite a historical leap to say what would have happened if... In fact, it leaves history itself completely out of the equation and devolves to pure,
          Message 4 of 18 , Mar 15, 2004
            At 05:41 PM 3/15/04 +0000, you wrote:

            >I know it is received wisdom that no Christian would have made
            >up the crucifixion, but that files in the face of the fact that the
            >cross is the most successful marketing symbol in the history of
            >the human race. Just how far would Christianity have come if
            >Jesus were said to have died as a result of an ox cart
            >accident--or, for that matter, of old age?
            >
            >Far from being an embarrassment to Christianity, the crucifiction
            >has been (dare I say it?) its salvation.

            It's quite a historical leap to say what would have happened if... In fact,
            it leaves history itself completely out of the equation and devolves to
            pure, unmitigated speculation. What would Christianity have become without
            the crucifixion? No one knows. Thats the only honest answer. Whether or
            not the crucifixion saved christianity is a red herring non issue.

            Jim

            +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
            Dr Jim West
            Pastor, Petros Baptist Church
            http://biblical-studies.org -- Biblical Studies Resources
            http://biblical-studies.blogspot.com -- Biblical Studies Resources Weblog
          • Joseph Weaks
            ... The logic here is not quite right. Sociologically speaking, a martyr-like death does indeed elevate the memory of the individual to hyberbolic heights. So,
            Message 5 of 18 , Mar 15, 2004
              On Mar 15, 2004, at 11:41 AM, townsendgm wrote:
              > I know it is received wisdom that no Christian would have made
              > up the crucifixion, but that files in the face of the fact that the
              > cross is the most successful marketing symbol in the history of
              > the human race. Just how far would Christianity have come if
              > Jesus were said to have died as a result of an ox cart
              > accident--or, for that matter, of old age?
              >
              > Far from being an embarrassment to Christianity, the crucifiction
              > has been (dare I say it?) its salvation.
              >
              > Guy M. Townsend

              The logic here is not quite right. Sociologically speaking, a
              martyr-like death does indeed elevate the memory of the individual to
              hyberbolic heights. So, you would be correct to say, "Were not Jesus
              crucified, he would never have been considered a martyr much less God's
              self-sacrificing love incarnate." But, communities don't invent stories
              of martyrdom to lift up a diving man persona. They invent stories of
              stupendous deaths, mostly "being taken up." See for example, Lucian's
              Demonax, or Jewish traditions of Moses or Elijah.
              It seems extremely unlikely to posit why the early community would make
              up the fact that Jesus was crucified along with other criminals. What
              seems much more PLAUSIBLE is that Jesus of Nazareth was crucified, and
              then the early community would have reason to reinterpret said
              crucifixion with tales of martyrdom, compassion to criminals on the
              cross, a centurion seeing Christ for who he was at point of death, the
              curtain in the temple tearing and then adding on resurrection stories
              to overshadow the humiliation of death.
              Cheers,
              Joe Weaks


              **************************************************************
              Rev. Joseph A. Weaks
              Senior Minister, Bethany Christian Church, Dallas
              Leander Keck Fellow of NT Studies, Brite Divinity School, Ft. Worth
              Stay-at-home Dad, Balch Springs
              j.weaks@...
              **************************************************************
            • Jeffrey B. Gibson
              ... Funny how Suetonius and Celsus and Porphyry and Lucian and Minucius Felix and Fronto, among others, who were targets -- or at least aware -- of this
              Message 6 of 18 , Mar 15, 2004
                townsendgm wrote:

                > --- In crosstalk2@yahoogroups.com, Patrick Narkinsky
                > <patrick@n...> wrote:
                >
                > snip
                >
                > >
                > > Crucifixion at the hands of the Romans would present a prima
                > facie case
                > > that Jesus was *not* the Messiah. It seems grossly
                > improbable to
                > > suppose that any Christian would have made it up.
                > >
                > > Patrick
                > >
                > > --
                > > Patrick Narkinsky - patrick@n...
                >
                > I know it is received wisdom that no Christian would have made
                > up the crucifixion, but that files in the face of the fact that the
                > cross is the most successful marketing symbol in the history of
                > the human race. Just how far would Christianity have come if
                > Jesus were said to have died as a result of an ox cart
                > accident--or, for that matter, of old age?
                >
                > Far from being an embarrassment to Christianity, the crucifiction
                > has been (dare I say it?) its salvation.

                Funny how Suetonius and Celsus and Porphyry and Lucian and Minucius
                Felix and Fronto, among others, who were targets -- or at least aware --
                of this alleged marketing plan, didn't pick up on that, but instead see
                Jesus' crucifixion as a sign that Jesus was a failure and Christianity
                superstitious and pernicious nonsense.

                Funny how apologists like Justin Martyr and Origen and Octavius found
                themselves having to devote more attention to defending the claim that
                Jesus' crucifixion did not prove Jesus a charlatan and Christianity
                utter foolishness than with anything else they had to struggle with in
                their defense of Christianity.

                In any case, you have a hidden supposition here that what the cross and
                Jesus' crucifixion has **come** to symbolize is what it **would** have
                symbolized to those who were the first recipients of the message of
                "Christ crucified".

                In the light what of what Jews had been schooled by Deut. 21:22-23 to
                believe regarding those hung on a tree, let alone what Circero and
                Plautus and Varo and other Greco-Roman authors say regarding the horror
                and the impropriety of even the mentioning of crucifixion, and what
                Zeno tells about the absolute irrationality of dying as Jesus was known
                to have died, this hardly seems likely -- and I really have to wonder
                where your claim is coming from. It certain is not well grounded in
                primary evidence.

                Jeffrey Gibson

                --

                Jeffrey B. Gibson, D.Phil. (Oxon.)

                1500 W. Pratt Blvd. #1
                Chicago, IL 60626

                jgibson000@...



                [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
              • Anthony Buglass
                Guy Townsend wrote: I know it is received wisdom that no Christian would have made up the crucifixion, but that files in the face of the fact that the cross
                Message 7 of 18 , Mar 15, 2004
                  Guy Townsend wrote:
                  I know it is received wisdom that no Christian would have made
                  up the crucifixion, but that files in the face of the fact that the
                  cross is the most successful marketing symbol in the history of
                  the human race.

                  Joe Weaks replied:
                  It seems extremely unlikely to posit why the early community would make
                  up the fact that Jesus was crucified along with other criminals. What
                  seems much more PLAUSIBLE is that Jesus of Nazareth was crucified, and
                  then the early community would have reason to reinterpret said
                  crucifixion with tales of martyrdom, (etc)

                  Tony:
                  Is it just too simplistic for me to say that Guy makes the mistake of reading the situation through modern "capitalist" eyes (eg marketing symbol) instead of 1st C "honour-shame" eyes? That the cross was so shameful that the earliest Christians used signs such as the fish rather than the cross?

                  Cheers,
                  Rev Tony Buglass
                  Pickering Methodist Circuit


                  [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                • townsendgm
                  ... made ... the ... of ... crucifiction ... In fact, ... devolves to ... become without ... Whether or ... Resources Weblog I am not arguing here that Jesus
                  Message 8 of 18 , Mar 15, 2004
                    --- In crosstalk2@yahoogroups.com, Jim West <jwest@h...>
                    wrote:
                    > At 05:41 PM 3/15/04 +0000, you wrote:
                    >
                    > >I know it is received wisdom that no Christian would have
                    made
                    > >up the crucifixion, but that files in the face of the fact that
                    the
                    > >cross is the most successful marketing symbol in the history
                    of
                    > >the human race. Just how far would Christianity have come if
                    > >Jesus were said to have died as a result of an ox cart
                    > >accident--or, for that matter, of old age?
                    > >
                    > >Far from being an embarrassment to Christianity, the
                    crucifiction
                    > >has been (dare I say it?) its salvation.
                    >
                    > It's quite a historical leap to say what would have happened if...
                    In fact,
                    > it leaves history itself completely out of the equation and
                    devolves to
                    > pure, unmitigated speculation. What would Christianity have
                    become without
                    > the crucifixion? No one knows. Thats the only honest answer.
                    Whether or
                    > not the crucifixion saved christianity is a red herring non issue.
                    >
                    > Jim
                    >
                    > +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
                    > Dr Jim West
                    > Pastor, Petros Baptist Church
                    > http://biblical-studies.org -- Biblical Studies Resources
                    > http://biblical-studies.blogspot.com -- Biblical Studies
                    Resources Weblog

                    I am not arguing here that Jesus was not crucified. I am simply
                    pointing out that since the "fact" of his crucifixion is central to
                    the
                    success of Christianity, the claim that no Christian would have
                    made up the crucifixion is lacking in logical vigor.

                    I am making no "historical leap," I am not "leav[ing] history itself
                    completely out of the question," and I am not indulging in "pure,
                    unmitigated speculation." (I did, however, misspell "flies," which
                    I am surprised you did not jump on, Jim.) I am simply observing
                    that the crucifixion has been essential to Christianity's success,
                    and that the cross has been the most successful marketing tool
                    known to man. It is not, therefore, logical to assert that the
                    criterion of embarrassment establishes the historicity of the very
                    event without which there would be no Christianity.

                    It *would* be making a "historical leap" and "leav[ing] history
                    itself completely out of the question" and indulging in "pure,
                    unmitigated speculation" if I were to assert that the exquisite
                    suitability of the crucifixion to furthering the fortunes of
                    Christianity was proof that it was invented for that purpose. But
                    that's not what I said, and there is nothing dishonest or
                    unhistorical about the observations I have made.

                    Guy M. Townsend
                  • townsendgm
                    ... made ... of ... crucifiction ... Query: Is it true or is it not true that the cross is the most successful marketing symbol in the history of the human
                    Message 9 of 18 , Mar 15, 2004
                      --- In crosstalk2@yahoogroups.com, Joseph Weaks
                      <j.weaks@t...> wrote:
                      > On Mar 15, 2004, at 11:41 AM, townsendgm wrote:
                      > > I know it is received wisdom that no Christian would have
                      made
                      > > up the crucifixion, but that files in the face of the fact that the
                      > > cross is the most successful marketing symbol in the history
                      of
                      > > the human race. Just how far would Christianity have come if
                      > > Jesus were said to have died as a result of an ox cart
                      > > accident--or, for that matter, of old age?
                      > >
                      > > Far from being an embarrassment to Christianity, the
                      crucifiction
                      > > has been (dare I say it?) its salvation.
                      > >
                      > > Guy M. Townsend
                      >
                      > The logic here is not quite right.

                      Query: Is it true or is it not true that "the cross is the most
                      successful marketing symbol in the history of the human race"?

                      Query: Is it true or is it not true that the "fact" that Jesus was
                      crucified has been essential to the success of Christianity?

                      If those two things are true, then the "fact" that Jesus was
                      crucified is not an embarrasment to Christianity.

                      What's not quite right about that logic?

                      Guy M. Townsend
                    • townsendgm
                      ... prima ... made ... of ... crucifiction ... Guy Townsend responds: Funny how everybody fails (or refuses) to see the forest for the trees, and resorts so
                      Message 10 of 18 , Mar 15, 2004
                        --- In crosstalk2@yahoogroups.com, "Jeffrey B. Gibson"
                        <jgibson000@c...> wrote:
                        >
                        >
                        > townsendgm wrote:
                        >
                        > > --- In crosstalk2@yahoogroups.com, Patrick Narkinsky
                        > > <patrick@n...> wrote:
                        > >
                        > > snip
                        > >
                        > > >
                        > > > Crucifixion at the hands of the Romans would present a
                        prima
                        > > facie case
                        > > > that Jesus was *not* the Messiah. It seems grossly
                        > > improbable to
                        > > > suppose that any Christian would have made it up.
                        > > >
                        > > > Patrick
                        > > >
                        > > > --
                        > > > Patrick Narkinsky - patrick@n...
                        > >
                        > > I know it is received wisdom that no Christian would have
                        made
                        > > up the crucifixion, but that files in the face of the fact that the
                        > > cross is the most successful marketing symbol in the history
                        of
                        > > the human race. Just how far would Christianity have come if
                        > > Jesus were said to have died as a result of an ox cart
                        > > accident--or, for that matter, of old age?
                        > >
                        > > Far from being an embarrassment to Christianity, the
                        crucifiction
                        > > has been (dare I say it?) its salvation.
                        >

                        Jeffrey Gibson declaims:
                        > Funny how <snip>
                        >
                        > Funny how <snip>

                        Guy Townsend responds:

                        Funny how everybody fails (or refuses) to see the forest for the
                        trees, and resorts so easily to diversionary condescension.

                        Jeffrey Gibson further declaims:
                        >
                        > In any case, you have a hidden supposition here that what the
                        cross and
                        > Jesus' crucifixion has **come** to symbolize is what it
                        **would** have
                        > symbolized to those who were the first recipients of the
                        message of
                        > "Christ crucified".

                        Guy Townsend responds:
                        Well, here's my "supposition" of what the crucifiction "would have
                        symbolized to those who were the first recipients of the
                        message of 'Christ crucified'": Here's a guy who loved me so
                        much that he suffered the most ignominious death imaginable
                        to save my soul. He didn't simply ascend to heaven on fleecy
                        white clouds, he didn't pass quietly from this life in the peaceful
                        slumber of old age. He laid it all on the line for me. This is a
                        religion worth looking into.

                        Now that's a pretty powerful message, and all your snide
                        references to personages who have discussed the issue in the
                        past two thousand years doesn't even begin to touch that matter.


                        -- and I really have to wonder
                        > where your claim is coming from. It certain is not well
                        grounded in
                        > primary evidence.
                        >
                        > Jeffrey Gibson
                        >

                        Putting aside your straw man, my only "claim" is and has been
                        that, given that the crucifixion is an essential part of Christianity's
                        success and the cross the greatest marketing tool in history,
                        relying on the criterion of embarrassment to establish the
                        historicity of the crucifixion is a shaky proposition.

                        Am I to assume that since no one has answered my
                        "claim"--preferring instead to attack straw men of their own
                        creation--that my "claim" is unanswerable? I doubt that very
                        seriously, but I am genuinely puzzled by all this obfuscatory
                        smoke blowing. What is it about my simple and rather
                        observation that is so disturbing to you?

                        Guy M. Townsend
                      • Jeffrey B. Gibson
                        ... It s not true. ... Assuming by success you mean growth and then acceptance in the west and then state sponsorship, no it is not true. In fact, the fact
                        Message 11 of 18 , Mar 15, 2004
                          townsendgm wrote:

                          > --- In crosstalk2@yahoogroups.com, Joseph Weaks
                          > <j.weaks@t...> wrote:
                          > > On Mar 15, 2004, at 11:41 AM, townsendgm wrote:
                          > > > I know it is received wisdom that no Christian would have
                          > made
                          > > > up the crucifixion, but that files in the face of the fact that
                          > the
                          > > > cross is the most successful marketing symbol in the history
                          > of
                          > > > the human race. Just how far would Christianity have come if
                          > > > Jesus were said to have died as a result of an ox cart
                          > > > accident--or, for that matter, of old age?
                          > > >
                          > > > Far from being an embarrassment to Christianity, the
                          > crucifiction
                          > > > has been (dare I say it?) its salvation.
                          > > >
                          > > > Guy M. Townsend
                          > >
                          > > The logic here is not quite right.
                          >
                          > Query: Is it true or is it not true that "the cross is the most
                          > successful marketing symbol in the history of the human race"?
                          >

                          It's not true.

                          >
                          > Query: Is it true or is it not true that the "fact" that Jesus was
                          > crucified has been essential to the success of Christianity?
                          >

                          Assuming by success you mean growth and then acceptance in the west and
                          then state sponsorship, no it is not true. In fact, the fact that Jesus
                          was crucified and that Christians proclaimed a Christ crucified was
                          often used as a justification for persecutions against Christians. It
                          was certainly a -- if not the -- main factor in Greco Roman
                          intellectuals line Fronto, Celsus, Porphyry, etc., rejecting
                          Christianity as folly and as scandalous.. See Martin Hengle's

                          What made Christianity a success and led to its growth was, to some
                          degree, its egalitarianism, and its treatment of the sick and its
                          refusal to abandon those struck down by plague.


                          > If those two things are true, then the "fact" that Jesus was
                          > crucified is not an embarrasment to Christianity.
                          >

                          > What's not quite right about that logic?
                          >

                          It's premises are unsound.

                          Jeffrey
                          --

                          Jeffrey B. Gibson, D.Phil. (Oxon.)

                          1500 W. Pratt Blvd. #1
                          Chicago, IL 60626

                          jgibson000@...



                          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                        • Jeffrey B. Gibson
                          ... It s called irony. Perhaps I should have worded it, if what you say is true, then you ll have to explain X and why so and so took this stand on the
                          Message 12 of 18 , Mar 15, 2004
                            townsendgm wrote:

                            > --- In crosstalk2@yahoogroups.com, "Jeffrey B. Gibson"
                            > <jgibson000@c...> wrote:
                            > >
                            > >
                            > > townsendgm wrote:
                            > >
                            > > > --- In crosstalk2@yahoogroups.com, Patrick Narkinsky
                            > > > <patrick@n...> wrote:
                            > > >
                            > > > snip
                            > > >
                            > > > >
                            > > > > Crucifixion at the hands of the Romans would present a
                            > prima
                            > > > facie case
                            > > > > that Jesus was *not* the Messiah. It seems grossly
                            > > > improbable to
                            > > > > suppose that any Christian would have made it up.
                            > > > >
                            > > > > Patrick
                            > > > >
                            > > > > --
                            > > > > Patrick Narkinsky - patrick@n...
                            > > >
                            > > > I know it is received wisdom that no Christian would have
                            > made
                            > > > up the crucifixion, but that files in the face of the fact that
                            > the
                            > > > cross is the most successful marketing symbol in the history
                            > of
                            > > > the human race. Just how far would Christianity have come if
                            > > > Jesus were said to have died as a result of an ox cart
                            > > > accident--or, for that matter, of old age?
                            > > >
                            > > > Far from being an embarrassment to Christianity, the
                            > crucifiction
                            > > > has been (dare I say it?) its salvation.
                            > >
                            >
                            > Jeffrey Gibson declaims:
                            > > Funny how <snip>
                            > >
                            > > Funny how <snip>
                            >
                            > Guy Townsend responds:
                            >
                            > Funny how everybody fails (or refuses) to see the forest for the
                            > trees, and resorts so easily to diversionary condescension.
                            >

                            It's called irony. Perhaps I should have worded it, "if what you say is
                            true, then you'll have to explain X and why so and so took this stand on
                            the message of Christ crucified". Would that have been more acceptable?

                            And what I pointed out is hardly diversionary since Justin and the
                            apologists and the anti Christian writers and propagandists such as
                            Celsus and the Greco-Roman authors who write about what crucifixion
                            entailed and what it represented and how it was thought of are primary
                            witnesses to what, historically, was heard in the "word of the cross". I
                            fail to see how testing a hypothesis about how something supposedly
                            would have been heard against evidence of how it was heard is
                            diversionary.

                            >
                            > Jeffrey Gibson further declaims:
                            > >
                            > > In any case, you have a hidden supposition here that what the
                            > cross and
                            > > Jesus' crucifixion has **come** to symbolize is what it
                            > **would** have
                            > > symbolized to those who were the first recipients of the
                            > message of
                            > > "Christ crucified".
                            >
                            > Guy Townsend responds:
                            > Well, here's my "supposition" of what the crucifiction "would have
                            > symbolized to those who were the first recipients of the
                            > message of 'Christ crucified'": Here's a guy who loved me so
                            > much that he suffered the most ignominious death imaginable
                            > to save my soul. He didn't simply ascend to heaven on fleecy
                            > white clouds, he didn't pass quietly from this life in the peaceful
                            > slumber of old age. He laid it all on the line for me. This is a
                            > religion worth looking into.
                            >

                            Problem is that this doesn't seem to be what the early Christian message
                            of the cross was or what those who heard it took it to be. But if you
                            have evidence rather than supposition that it was, please provide it.

                            >
                            > Now that's a pretty powerful message, and all your snide
                            > references to personages who have discussed the issue in the
                            > past two thousand years doesn't even begin to touch that matter.
                            >

                            I'm sorry you see them as snide. They were certainly not intended to be
                            so.

                            But in any case, they not only begin to touch on the matter of what the
                            message of Christ crucified conveyed or was intended to convey, they are
                            our barometer for determining what that message was -- and for
                            determining whether what you say it was is correct.

                            Now what is a fact is that no one who discusses or tries to defend or
                            argues against the proclamation of Christ crucified ever seems to see it
                            or hear it conveying the message you say is conveyed by it. Is this not
                            strange if that's what it was conveying?


                            > Putting aside your straw man, my only "claim" is and has been

                            > that, given that the crucifixion is an essential part of
                            > Christianity's
                            > success and the cross the greatest marketing tool in history,
                            > relying on the criterion of embarrassment to establish the
                            > historicity of the crucifixion is a shaky proposition.
                            >
                            > Am I to assume that since no one has answered my
                            > "claim"--preferring instead to attack straw men of their own
                            > creation--that my "claim" is unanswerable? I doubt that very
                            > seriously, but I am genuinely puzzled by all this obfuscatory
                            > smoke blowing. What is it about my simple and rather
                            > observation that is so disturbing to you?
                            >

                            It isn't disturbing. It's just not historically well founded.

                            Yours,

                            Jeffrey Gibson

                            --

                            Jeffrey B. Gibson, D.Phil. (Oxon.)

                            1500 W. Pratt Blvd. #1
                            Chicago, IL 60626

                            jgibson000@...



                            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                          • Rbsads@aol.com
                            In a message dated 3/15/2004 2:52:09 PM Eastern Standard Time, jgibson000@comcast.net writes: apologists like Justin Martyr and Origen and Octavius found
                            Message 13 of 18 , Mar 15, 2004
                              In a message dated 3/15/2004 2:52:09 PM Eastern Standard Time,
                              jgibson000@... writes:
                              apologists like Justin Martyr and Origen and Octavius found
                              themselves having to devote more attention to defending the claim that
                              Jesus' crucifixion did not prove Jesus a charlatan and Christianity
                              utter foolishness than with anything else they had to struggle with in
                              their defense of Christianity.
                              Thanks for all for the answers.

                              So we can reason that Jesus was crucified, therefore he existed?

                              (Sorry for the little humor directed at the Descartes/Enlightenment issue.<g>)

                              The proof of his existence is then primarily in the fact of the accounts that
                              try to apologize for his crucifixion?

                              The gospels in themselves are not sufficiently reliable to document the
                              historicity of Jesus?

                              What allowances can be made that the gospel writers wrote from received
                              tradition that is historical at some level? Is this a generally accepted premise
                              that is handicapped by the lack of methodology adequate to the task of
                              separating historical events from the redaction or from the writer's own creation? At
                              least the lack of an adequate methodology that is not based on assumptions that
                              predetermine the results?

                              For instance, the accounts of the feeding(s) seem to me to hint of a
                              significance in the historical ministry of Jesus, even beyond their mythological and
                              theological significance as related in the gospels.

                              Can we infer that the feeding(s) took place, as it seems to me at least that
                              the feedings might have been the single important event of the ministry in
                              Jesus' life, as far as the 1st century followers would have been concerned, to
                              establish Jesus in the minds and hearts of the common populace? Even more so
                              than any possible reputation he might have had as a healer or sage?

                              This inference is taken solely from the sense I receive from reading the
                              gospels. And as far as historical research principles, it is acceptable of course
                              to remove the supernatural coloring from gospel accounts.

                              Are the feedings (or is the feeding) likely to be a record of (an) historical
                              event(s)?

                              And I promise not to ask about the opinions of the list historians on the
                              historicity of any other event.

                              Thanks,

                              Richard Smith
                              Chattanooga, TN


                              [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                            • Horace Jeffery Hodges
                              ... has been that, given that the crucifixion is an essential part of Christianity s success and the cross the greatest marketing tool in history, relying on
                              Message 14 of 18 , Mar 15, 2004
                                Guy M. Townsend wrote:

                                >Putting aside your straw man, my only "claim" is and
                                has been that, given that the crucifixion is an
                                essential part of Christianity's success and the cross
                                the greatest marketing tool in history, relying on the
                                criterion of embarrassment to establish the
                                historicity of the crucifixion is a shaky
                                proposition.<

                                The criterion of embarassment has to be put into a
                                context. You wrote as if later Christian views on the
                                crucifixion also characterized early views, both
                                Christian and non-Christian. Your point has been shown
                                wrong.

                                Moreover, I doubt that most of the non-Christian world
                                today would find the crucifixion appealing. Muslims
                                certainly don't. They find the story shameful, and
                                they constitute at least 20 percent of the world's
                                population.

                                And that's the point. Crucifixion was shameful, and
                                was intended to be so. Read "The Dream of the Rood" to
                                see what the Anglo-Saxons had to do to make the cross
                                palatable to their culture.

                                Jeffery Hodges

                                P.S. That's the Early Medieval Anglo-Saxons, by the
                                way, not the contemporary ones that the French like to dislike.

                                =====
                                Office:

                                Assistant Professor Horace Jeffery Hodges [Ph.D., History, U.C. Berkeley]
                                Department of English Language and Literature
                                Korea University
                                136-701 Anam-dong, Seongbuk-gu
                                Seoul
                                South Korea

                                Home:

                                Sun-Ae Hwang and Horace Jeffery Hodges
                                Seo-Dong 125-2
                                Shin-Dong-A, Apt. 102-709
                                447-710 Kyunggido, Osan-City
                                South Korea

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                              • Gordon Raynal
                                ... Hi Jim, Just out of interest as a thought experiment, certainly not for getting into belabored speculation on this historical list, but I think it is worth
                                Message 15 of 18 , Mar 15, 2004
                                  >>Far from being an embarrassment to Christianity, the crucifiction
                                  >>has been (dare I say it?) its salvation.
                                  >
                                  >It's quite a historical leap to say what would have happened if... In fact,
                                  >it leaves history itself completely out of the equation and devolves to
                                  >pure, unmitigated speculation. What would Christianity have become without
                                  >the crucifixion? No one knows. Thats the only honest answer. Whether or
                                  >not the crucifixion saved christianity is a red herring non issue.

                                  Hi Jim,

                                  Just out of interest as a thought experiment, certainly not for getting into
                                  belabored speculation on this historical list, but I think it is worth
                                  thinking about whether the social community that is related to the mission
                                  praxis of Jesus and his friends could have endured without Jesus' death.
                                  Such a focus pushes one to think about the materials we have as related to
                                  ideology, social praxis, social location and appeal. As "a survival
                                  question" it is simply the stuff of guess work, but such a reflection is
                                  related to the other issues is highly worthwhile.

                                  Gordon Raynal
                                  Inman, SC
                                • Frank Jacks
                                  I still cannot answer your questions as I am still trying to understand your claim, which has little to do with the historical Jesus in the first place,
                                  Message 16 of 18 , Mar 15, 2004
                                    I still cannot answer your questions as I am still trying to understand your "claim," which has little to do with the "historical Jesus" in the first place, which is supposed to be the topic of this board. And I may well have missed something since I have been out of town the past week and am "playing catch up" here, which perhaps explains why I am not clear as to your thesis/hypothesis. So please bear with me and help me out, for I would appreciate your clarifying for me what you are saying/getting at:

                                    1. In what sense is the Cross the "greatest marketing tool ever"? Who devised this strategy? What was being marketed? What period of Christian history do you have in mind? Are you attempting to account for the apparent fact that Christianity grew so widely throughout the Roman Empire that by the third centuries the emperor had to either destroy the movement (as with Decius
                                    and Diocletian) or join it (as with Constantine)?

                                    2. Or are you trying to say that the whole "crucifixion thing" was dreamed up by someone (Paul? ... Peter? ... James?) as a way to "sell" ... what? I must confess that I am unclear as to what you mean by Christianity's "success" - measured how? By number of congregants?

                                    3. Or are you simply trying to suggest a different "take" on the value seen in Jesus' "death by crucifixion," which in the Roman Empire was a form of execution reserved for run-away slaves or rebels/revolutionaries against Rome or its appointed rulers. Are you trying to suggest/say that this could have been invented because of a positive "take" on Jesus' dying in this fashion? I surely do hope not, for I can not grasp the intelligibility of such a claim.

                                    Again, I am simply trying to understand and would appreciate clarification.

                                    Thanks,

                                    Clive F. Jacks, Th.D.
                                    Professor of Religion, Emeritus
                                    PIkeville College,
                                    Pikeville, KY

                                    (but now happily retired back home in the metro Atlanta area!)


                                    ----- Original Message -----
                                    From: townsendgm
                                    To: crosstalk2@yahoogroups.com
                                    Sent: Monday, March 15, 2004 4:54 PM
                                    Subject: Re: [XTalk] Facts of the historical Jesus




                                    Guy Townsend responds:



                                    Putting aside your straw man, my only "claim" is and has been
                                    that, given that the crucifixion is an essential part of Christianity's
                                    success and the cross the greatest marketing tool in history,
                                    relying on the criterion of embarrassment to establish the
                                    historicity of the crucifixion is a shaky proposition.

                                    Am I to assume that since no one has answered my
                                    "claim"--preferring instead to attack straw men of their own
                                    creation--that my "claim" is unanswerable? I doubt that very
                                    seriously, but I am genuinely puzzled by all this obfuscatory
                                    smoke blowing. What is it about my simple and rather
                                    observation that is so disturbing to you?

                                    Guy M. Townsend





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                                    [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                                  • Joseph Weaks
                                    ... Part of the reaction against what your saying is just the bullish way your modernistic and anachronistic reasoning ignores a large amount of current
                                    Message 17 of 18 , Mar 15, 2004
                                      > Query: Is it true or is it not true that "the cross is the most
                                      > successful marketing symbol in the history of the human race"?
                                      >
                                      > Query: Is it true or is it not true that the "fact" that Jesus was
                                      > crucified has been essential to the success of Christianity?
                                      >
                                      > If those two things are true, then the "fact" that Jesus was
                                      > crucified is not an embarrasment to Christianity.
                                      >
                                      > What's not quite right about that logic?
                                      >
                                      > Guy M. Townsend

                                      Part of the reaction against what your saying is just the bullish way
                                      your modernistic and anachronistic reasoning ignores a large amount of
                                      current Historical Jesus studies. Your response to the shame question
                                      shows a total lack of knowledge of scholarly study of honor and shame
                                      in the 1-2 c. world.

                                      Your original premise

                                      1. Early Christians invented the fact of Jesus' crucifixion in order to
                                      achieve wide-spread empathy among potential new members.

                                      is certainly a welcome hypothesis. In the same way as good historians
                                      we suggest other possibilities such as:

                                      2. Jesus did the wild thing with Mary Magdelene but it was
                                      intentionally not reported (much like MLK, Jr. or JFK, perhaps).

                                      3. The story of Mary, Jesus' mother, being a virgin was invented by the
                                      early church to attest to his divine persona (much like was done in
                                      other Greco-Roman Divine man stories.).

                                      Well, once you make a premise, you then test its plausibility based
                                      upon historical criterion in the context of what we think we know about
                                      the historical context. All the responses to your premise agree that
                                      virtually everything we know about 1 c. Palestine suggests that
                                      inventing a story of crucifixion would NOT have been seen as a
                                      beneficial thing to do for lots of reasons. (The fact that it appears
                                      beneficial to you, 2k years later is immaterial.)
                                      a. We have many examples of stories praising an individual where their
                                      deaths are embellished... and crucifixion is not how they made the guy
                                      look good.
                                      b. What we know about shame sociologically negates it as a desire of
                                      the community.
                                      c. Early Christian kerygma is an apology and rhetorical repositioning
                                      regarding crucifixion, doing their best to cast a positive light on an
                                      embarassing aspect of their messiah. That's why they said, "Well, yeah,
                                      but he rose from the dead, so na na na na." or "He's coming back!" or
                                      "He died not cause he had to but cause he wanted to, in your place."
                                      d. etc.

                                      There are very few things regarding HJ studies that virtually all
                                      serious HJ scholars agree on, but the fact of Jesus' crucifixion is at
                                      the top of the list.
                                      Cheers,
                                      Joe Weaks
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