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RE: [XTalk] historicity of Jesus

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  • Richard Anderson
    Leon: My mother in law was born on a farm and did not have a birth certificate. At age 55 at a pre-retirement planning session, she was told she would need a
    Message 1 of 13 , Sep 25, 2000
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      Leon:

      My mother in law was born on a farm and did not have a birth certificate.
      At age 55 at a pre-retirement planning session, she was told she would need
      a birth certificate to collect social security. So she asked me to obtain
      one for her. I mailed a copy of the records of the church baptism conducted
      within days of birth and asked the state to issue a birth certificate and
      they refused. I then wrote a letter to the state saying since they deny my
      mother in law's existence I have instructed her that she need not pay any
      state taxes. I received a birth certificate without explanation by return
      mail. My mother in law can now prove her existence and was able to collect
      social security.
      Richard H. Anderson
    • Jim West
      ... please give us 5 proofs of your existence, if you dont mind. thanks, jim ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ memento o homo! quod cinis es et in cinerem
      Message 2 of 13 , Oct 2, 2000
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        At 05:15 PM 10/2/00 +0000, you wrote:
        >Responding to Sam Gibson's contention that evidence for the HJ
        >"is there in spades" in contemporary writings (message 5107),
        >I requested, in effect, a prioritized listing of just five such
        >items of relatively solid evidence indicating that Jesus was
        >something more just a Markan midrashic creation (message 5108).

        please give us 5 proofs of your existence, if you dont mind.

        thanks,

        jim

        ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

        memento o homo! quod cinis es et in cinerem revertaris

        Jim West, ThD
        http://web.infoave.net/~jwest
      • Leon Albert
        Jim, Taking cognicence of the warning not to treat this forum as a chat room, I will presume that your request that I provide 5 proofs of my own existence
        Message 3 of 13 , Oct 2, 2000
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          Jim,

          Taking cognicence of the warning not to treat this forum as a chat
          room, I will presume that your request that I provide 5 proofs of
          my own existence constitutes an attempt to initiate a discussion on
          the nature of epistomology.

          I suppose the most obvious response would be to ask you a question in
          turn.
          If I do not exist, then to whom is your question directed? The very
          fact that you have asked "me" the question indicates that you already
          have accepted my existence.

          Moreover, I did not request "proofs" of the existence of the historical
          Jesus. The concept of "proof" is more at home in the nonempirical
          sciences of math and logic, which are basically self-contained mind
          games. As long as you follow the rules of the game, the conclusions
          come with absolute certainty and have been "proven."

          With empirical questions, dependent as they are on observations, such
          certainties and proofs are not possible. Even were I to present myself
          to you physically, you could still play philosophical games and contend
          I was nothing more than an illusion created by your imagination.

          What I asked for was 5 items of relatively solid evidence for the HJ
          as depicted in the gospels. This was not an invitation to "counter-
          attack" with silly mind games. If you have such evidence, please
          present it, and we'll consider it. As I understand it, that is what
          this forum is dedicated to.

          Leon
        • Jim West
          ... yup. you are correct. ... nope-- you have to answer the question posed you before you get to ask one. your not socrates and im not plato. ... no i havent.
          Message 4 of 13 , Oct 2, 2000
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            At 11:05 AM 10/2/00 -0700, you wrote:
            >Jim,
            >
            >Taking cognicence of the warning not to treat this forum as a chat
            >room, I will presume that your request that I provide 5 proofs of
            >my own existence constitutes an attempt to initiate a discussion on
            >the nature of epistomology.

            yup. you are correct.

            >
            >I suppose the most obvious response would be to ask you a question in
            >turn.

            nope-- you have to answer the question posed you before you get to ask one.
            your not socrates and im not plato.

            >If I do not exist, then to whom is your question directed? The very
            >fact that you have asked "me" the question indicates that you already
            >have accepted my existence.

            no i havent. and im still awaiting evidence that im talking to someone
            other than myself (which i do quite frequently).

            >
            >Moreover, I did not request "proofs" of the existence of the historical
            >Jesus. The concept of "proof" is more at home in the nonempirical
            >sciences of math and logic, which are basically self-contained mind
            >games. As long as you follow the rules of the game, the conclusions
            >come with absolute certainty and have been "proven."

            .... you are avoiding the question. nice dodge- but im still waiting.

            >
            >With empirical questions, dependent as they are on observations, such
            >certainties and proofs are not possible. Even were I to present myself
            >to you physically, you could still play philosophical games and contend
            >I was nothing more than an illusion created by your imagination.

            perhaps. but you are demanding that the historical jesus' existence be
            proven. i think it fair to make the same request of you- which, by the way,
            you are still dodging.

            >
            >What I asked for was 5 items of relatively solid evidence for the HJ
            >as depicted in the gospels. This was not an invitation to "counter-
            >attack" with silly mind games. If you have such evidence, please
            >present it, and we'll consider it. As I understand it, that is what
            >this forum is dedicated to.

            ahhh... again, a nice dodge and a good attempt to make the question a red
            herring! bravo. but, im still awaiting your evidence that you exist.


            best,

            Jim

            ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

            memento o homo! quod cinis es et in cinerem revertaris

            Jim West, ThD
            http://web.infoave.net/~jwest
          • Leon Albert
            OK, Jim, let s play, A. I started off questioning the existence of any relatively solid evidence for the existence of the historical Jesus, and asked for a
            Message 5 of 13 , Oct 2, 2000
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              OK, Jim, let's play,

              A. I started off questioning the existence of any relatively solid
              evidence for the existence of the historical Jesus, and asked
              for a prioritized listing of 5 such items.
              B. You responded by asking that I provide 5 "proofs" of my own
              existence.
              C. I answered by suggesting that the most obvious response would be
              to ask a question in turn.
              D. You answered, "nope--you have to answer the question posed you
              before you get to ask one."
              (Jim, if this is some kind of universal law governing all discussion,
              why are you exempt from it? I was the one who raised the initial
              question regarding evidence for the HJ. It was YOU who responded
              that question with a question. Should I now accuse you, as you later
              do me, of "avoiding the question" and engaging in a "nice dodge?")
              E. I responded by pointing out that the mere fact of your asking
              the question indicated that you have already accepted my
              existence.
              D. You responded by claiming that you had not accepted my existence
              because you frequently talk to yourself, and you now need proof
              that that is not ocurring now.
              (Jim, I'm sorry, but I now have to raise the question of either
              your sanity or your honesty. If you sincerely believe that this
              communication might possibly be you talking to yourself, seek
              help immediately. If, on the other hand, you do not sincerely
              believe that this communication is a case of you talking to
              yourself, then you are being dishonest to pretend otherwise. I
              do not think you are insane. You are obviously feigning a pretense
              at uncertainty as to my exisistence in order to score some kind
              of debating tactic point. I also do not really believe that when
              you talk to yourself, you are actually confused as to whether or
              not someone else is responding...perhaps I'm wrong.)
              E. To get beyond your own dodging and back to the original question
              and your own "red herring,"I'm still awaiting YOUR prioritized list
              of evidences indicating the existence of the HJ.

              Thanks,

              Leon
            • Jim West
              ... what you demand of others is only rightly demanded of you. ... which you still havent provided. ... nope-- you cant ask until you answer. that answer
              Message 6 of 13 , Oct 2, 2000
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                At 05:42 PM 10/2/00 -0700, you wrote:
                >OK, Jim, let's play,
                >
                >A. I started off questioning the existence of any relatively solid
                > evidence for the existence of the historical Jesus, and asked
                > for a prioritized listing of 5 such items.

                what you demand of others is only rightly demanded of you.

                >B. You responded by asking that I provide 5 "proofs" of my own
                > existence.

                which you still havent provided.

                >C. I answered by suggesting that the most obvious response would be
                > to ask a question in turn.

                nope-- you cant ask until you answer. that answer still obtains.

                >D. You answered, "nope--you have to answer the question posed you
                > before you get to ask one."
                > (Jim, if this is some kind of universal law governing all discussion,
                > why are you exempt from it? I was the one who raised the initial
                > question regarding evidence for the HJ. It was YOU who responded
                > that question with a question. Should I now accuse you, as you later
                > do me, of "avoiding the question" and engaging in a "nice dodge?")

                because you didnt ask me the question directly- and i didnt care to answer
                as you obviously have already made up your mind- meaning any discussion is a
                priori fruitless.
                however i did ask you a direct question which you then (and since then)
                have utterly ignored.

                >E. I responded by pointing out that the mere fact of your asking
                >the question indicated that you have already accepted my
                >existence.

                no. but if you wish to maintain this line of reasoning then you yourself
                have already been caught in your own trap for you ask of the historical
                jesus. if there were no historical jesus how could you ask of his
                existence? you see, you forgot your own question.

                >D. You responded by claiming that you had not accepted my existence
                > because you frequently talk to yourself, and you now need proof
                > that that is not ocurring now.
                > (Jim, I'm sorry, but I now have to raise the question of either
                > your sanity or your honesty. If you sincerely believe that this
                > communication might possibly be you talking to yourself, seek
                > help immediately. If, on the other hand, you do not sincerely
                > believe that this communication is a case of you talking to
                > yourself, then you are being dishonest to pretend otherwise. I
                > do not think you are insane. You are obviously feigning a pretense
                > at uncertainty as to my exisistence in order to score some kind
                > of debating tactic point. I also do not really believe that when
                > you talk to yourself, you are actually confused as to whether or
                > not someone else is responding...perhaps I'm wrong.)

                you assume correctly. you still are avoiding the question. again, good
                dodge but im not letting you off the hook!

                >E. To get beyond your own dodging and back to the original question
                > and your own "red herring,"I'm still awaiting YOUR prioritized list
                > of evidences indicating the existence of the HJ.

                :-)

                see- you cant answer so you dont. i dont wish to answer so i wont. notice
                the difference? i hope you will abandon your evasion and honestly and
                seriously do for yourself (offer proof of your existence); for you began the
                discussion by asking us to "prove" (yes, that is indeed what you asked) the
                historical jesus lived.

                if however you are merely going to dodge the question then i ask you to save
                the bandwidth and not bother with another series of finely tuned evasions.

                best,

                jim

                ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

                memento o homo! quod cinis es et in cinerem revertaris

                Jim West, ThD
                http://web.infoave.net/~jwest
              • Leon Albert
                Richard: Good point. I m reminded of that famous scene in A Miracle on 52th Street, where the existence of Santa was proved in court when the post office
                Message 7 of 13 , Oct 2, 2000
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                  Richard:

                  Good point. I'm reminded of that famous scene in "A Miracle on 52th
                  Street," where the existence of Santa was proved in court when the
                  post office delivered bags of mail addressed to him. But...I assume
                  Jim would would find a way around that were I to offer a similar
                  demonstration of my own existence. The mind of the philosopher/
                  theologian is often a wonder to behold.

                  Leon
                • Sam Gibson
                  This is so much fun. I was going to shave with a cheese grater but this is a little bit more entertaining. With respect to the group, I will attempt to tread
                  Message 8 of 13 , Oct 2, 2000
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                    This is so much fun. I was going to shave with a cheese grater but this is a little bit more entertaining.
                     
                    With respect to the group, I will attempt to tread lightly as I think that if we are going to discuss this at all that we need to define our parameters. So... I have a question.
                     
                    >A. I started off questioning the existence of any relatively
                    solid
                    >   evidence for the existence of the historical Jesus,
                    and asked
                    >   for a prioritized listing of 5 such
                    items.
                     
                    What would constitue as sufficient evidence? Short of a video tape, snapshots, etc, - what would you accept as "relatively solid evidence"?
                     
                    OK, OK... a couple more. If we take the answer to this first question and apply the same criteria to other figures from history that we accept existed a priori, how many of our historical figures will disappear? I think that we could pretty much say goodbye to Socrates, couldn't we? Anyone else?
                     
                    I will state that despite the (insert word here to keep Watts and Jerez out of my shirt - midrashing? mythologizing? embellishment? artistic license?) that occured within the gospels, we have at least one piece of evidence right there, if not two depending on the number of early sources you are willing to grant. We also have numerous historians (and I include Josephus, as the interpolation thing makes more sense to me rather than the whole thing being added to different manuscripts) who wrote about the Jesus movement (sometimes referred to as Christianity) and seemed to take the existence of an historical person as its founder for granted. That seems like evidence to me. Pushing the envelope on the whole argument from silence thing, how about the fact that there were Christians throughout the empire relatively early in the second half of the first century CE and no writings from anyone disputing the story that they spread? That's at least three and all that you will get from someone who only reads scholars and makes no claim to be one himself. I won't even claim that these are prioritized and leave that to someone else to do.
                     
                    I would ask that before the Jesus-Mythers tear my list apart (and does anyone really doubt that they will?), that they first deal with my questions at the top and apply them to some historical figures.
                     
                    Sincerely,
                    Sam Gibson
                     
                     
                     
                  • Antonio Jerez
                    ... Leon, what exactly are you trying to claim. That there were two different interpolators - one who wasn t as skillfull in soaking up Josephus style and
                    Message 9 of 13 , Oct 4, 2000
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                      Leon Albert wrote:

                      > Jerez's (9/30) contention that the alleged christian interpolator
                      > would have to have been a "master forger" who "soaked up"
                      > josephus' literary style perfectly fails at several points. If
                      > the interpolator was a professional scribe producing a copy of
                      > josephus' work, he would have naturally been "soaked" in his
                      > style. The greco-roman school system required students to
                      > replicate/imitate the styles of the models they studied.
                      > Originality was not, then as now, all that desired by the
                      > acadamies. Moreover, as Doherty points out very relevently, the
                      > christian interpolator obviously did not "soak up" Josephus's
                      > avowed aversion to rebellious Jews (which a "crucified" Jesus
                      > would just as obviously have been). The interpolator also
                      > apparently did not "soak up" Josephus' expressed opinion that
                      > a Roman emperor was the messiah!

                      Leon,
                      what exactly are you trying to claim. That there were two different
                      interpolators - one who wasn't as skillfull in soaking up Josephus style
                      and wrote the Testimonium Flavianum and another one who was very
                      skillfull and wrote the passage about James? What evidence do you have
                      for this? I do get the impression that you are arguing just for arguments
                      sake.

                      Best wishes

                      Antonio Jerez
                      Göteborg, Sweden
                    • maertens
                      Dear listers, I hope I don t join the discussion too late... In logic, the material truth and the formal truth of a statement are independent. Their validity
                      Message 10 of 13 , Oct 5, 2000
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                        Dear listers,
                         
                        I hope I don't join the discussion too late...
                         
                        In logic, the material truth and the formal truth of a statement are independent. Their validity is situated on different levels. The material truth can only be stated by extrinsic elements. When one state "it rains", the material truth can only be established by checking out empirically. When there are no extrinsic elements, nothing can said about the material truth. Take the statement "x=y". If we don't know the value of one of the variables, we can't know if "x=y" is materially truth. But we can say that according to the statement "x=y".
                        Applying this to the Gospels, this implies that they can't prove the historicity of Jesus. We only can say that according to Mark or Matthew or Luke or John, Jesus was so and so. The same counts for Josephus. It cannot be said that Josephus (if his reference is genuine) proves the historicity of Jesus. It can only be said that according to the text of Josephus, Jesus existed. So, no statement "en soi" can prove the existence of Jesus. But the concordance of different statements independent one from the other can be an indication that Jesus existed. So I guess that the question to provide 5 proofs of the existence of the HJ cannot be answered positively. One can only give convergent statements (which, taken independently, can of course be questioned on their historical value...). And having plausible reasons to estimate the HJ as  a reality (and not as a fabrication) does not imply the knowledge of his biographie.
                         
                         
                        Best regards,
                         
                        Philip
                      • Corey W. Liknes
                        ... Yes, Philip, well said. Besides, in any undergraduate historiography class one learns that historians don t deal in facts but rather in inferences. If
                        Message 11 of 13 , Oct 5, 2000
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                          >>So I guess that the question to provide 5 proofs of the existence of the HJ cannot be answered positively. One can only give convergent statements (which, taken independently, can of course be questioned on their historical value...). And having plausible reasons to estimate the HJ as  a reality (and not as a fabrication) does not imply the knowledge of his biographie
                           
                          Yes, Philip, well said. Besides, in any undergraduate historiography class one learns that historians don't deal in "facts" but rather in inferences. If one wanted 5 proofs (facts) of Jesus existence I suppose we could simply trot out each of the gospel accounts, letters of Paul, letters of other leaders in the earliest church, even Josephus orPilate (if my last posting was accurate -- no-one has mentioned it). Individually each of these testimonies can be questioned -- but together they do infer the existence of Jesus, at least they do to this historian's mind; especially when that information is coupled with the growth of the Christian community in the 1st century.
                           
                          There just doesn't seem to be a good reason for people to go through all this mythologizing if there was no singular personage around whose teachings this edifice could be built. If we were going to build a myth (or a mystery religion lets say) don't you think we would construct it to be more appealing than what we have in the gospels? I recall doing some work on the beginnings of the Masonic movement in the early 1800's. The rituals and ideas were designed specifically to appeal to urban, middle-class men who felt left out of what had become a "feminized" Christianity -- the myth served a purpose and appealed to a certain group. The Jesus myth appeals to no-one!
                           
                          I wonder if there are 5 definitive proofs that Jesus did not exist?
                           
                          Corey Liknes
                           
                        • Antonio Jerez
                          Cory Liknes wrote: I foundf ... I do find the last comment strange: the Jesus myth appeals to no-one . Well it must have had an appeal from the beginning
                          Message 12 of 13 , Oct 5, 2000
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                            Cory Liknes wrote:
                            I foundf
                            >There just doesn't seem to be a good reason for people to go through all this mythologizing if there was no singular personage around
                            >whose teachings this edifice could be built. If we were going to build a
                            myth (or a mystery religion lets say) don't you think we would >construct it to be more appealing than what we have in the gospels? I recall doing some work on the beginnings of the Masonic >movement in the early 1800's. The rituals and ideas were designed specifically to appeal to urban, middle-class men who felt left out of >what had become a "feminized" Christianity -- the myth served a purpose and appealed to a certain group. The Jesus myth appeals to no->one!
                            I do find the last comment strange: "the Jesus myth appeals to no-one". Well it must have had an
                            appeal from the beginning since we know that some Jews and Pagans became Christian. And it
                            still has appeal since people still become Christians. The promise of a saviour from heaven and
                            eternal life to the faithful will always have an appeal to some people.
                            But I do agree that the early Christians could have invented an even more easily appealing
                            myth if they hadn't been constrained by some historical facts. Jesus crucifixion being the main
                            one. What Paul, Mark, Matthew and the others had to do was to wrap the disgraceful execution
                            in a package that would give it a positive meaning. They did this through creative reading of
                            the OT and by finding proof texts that showed that it was all part of God's plan from the beginning.
                            Paul walked around with a collection of these proof texts and their "correct" interpretation
                            during his missionary journeys (see Acts 28:23). The gospels are an exampel of the process
                            taken a step further - here we find the proof texts turned into a continous story that makes
                            Jesus into the Suffering servant, Son of God and Son of Man (among other things).
                             
                             
                            Best wishes
                             
                            Antonio Jerez
                            Göteborg, Sweden
                          • Tony Buglass
                            ... this mythologizing if there was no singular personage around whose teachings this edifice could be built. If we were going to build a myth (or a mystery
                            Message 13 of 13 , Oct 6, 2000
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                              Cory Liknes wrote:
                              >I found
                              >There just doesn't seem to be a good reason for people to go through all
                              this >mythologizing if there was no singular personage around >whose
                              teachings this edifice >could be built. If we were going to build a myth
                              (or a mystery religion lets say) don't you >think we would >construct it to
                              be more appealing than what we have in the gospels?

                              Antonio Jerez replied:
                              > it must have had an appeal from the beginning since we know that some
                              Jews and >Pagans became Christian. And it still has appeal since people
                              still become Christians. >The promise of a saviour from heaven and eternal
                              life to the faithful will always have an >appeal to some people.

                              > But I do agree that the early Christians could have invented an even more
                              easily >appealing myth if they hadn't been constrained by some historical
                              facts. Jesus >crucifixion being the main one. What Paul, Mark, Matthew and
                              the others had to do was >to wrap the disgraceful execution in a package
                              that would give it a positive meaning. >They did this through creative
                              reading of the OT and by finding proof texts that showed >that it was all
                              part of God's plan from the beginning. Paul walked around with a collection
                              >of these proof texts and their "correct" interpretation during his
                              missionary journeys (see >Acts 28:23). The gospels are an example of the
                              process taken a step further - here we >find the proof texts turned into a
                              continous story that makes Jesus into the Suffering >servant, Son of God
                              and Son of Man (among other things).

                              Yes, possibly - but why? Doesn't this just beg the question - there must
                              have been something about Jesus of Nazareth which was powerful enough to
                              drive this process. There were lots of other "failed Messiahs" who didn't
                              have an atoning death/vindicating resurrection mythology constructed around
                              them - what was it about Jesus that meant his followers couldn't let go?

                              Corey's question reminds me of the old story about the tourists in Ireland
                              asking how for directions, and getting the answer "Sure now, and if I was
                              going there, I wouldn't be starting from here." If the aim was to provide
                              another religion or mythology, there were lots of building blocks in
                              existing redeemer myths and cults - there was no need to include something
                              which was a scandal and a stumbling block. Unless it happened something
                              like that.

                              They were obviously "constrained by historical facts" (Antonio's phrase),
                              whether or not all those facts are accessible to us. The question is what
                              drove the Jesus movement in spite of unpalatable facts. Cognitive
                              dissonance isn't enough - Jesus' original followers might have had powerful
                              motivations for not wanting to go back to the old humdrum ways, but that
                              doesn't account for Paul. There has to be something in the resurrection
                              experiences which drove the movement to become what it did, otherwise there
                              would have been no need for Paul and co to apply the OT traditions as they
                              did.

                              Cheers,
                              Tony Buglass
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