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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
    • 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 2 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 3 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 4 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 5 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 6 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 7 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 8 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 9 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 10 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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