Re: [XTalk] historicity of Jesus
- At 05:42 PM 10/2/00 -0700, you wrote:
>OK, Jim, let's play,what you demand of others is only rightly demanded of you.
>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 ownwhich you still havent provided.
>C. I answered by suggesting that the most obvious response would benope-- you cant ask until you answer. that answer still obtains.
> to ask a question in turn.
>D. You answered, "nope--you have to answer the question posed youbecause you didnt ask me the question directly- and i didnt care to answer
> 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?")
as you obviously have already made up your mind- meaning any discussion is a
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 askingno. but if you wish to maintain this line of reasoning then you yourself
>the question indicated that you have already accepted my
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 existenceyou assume correctly. you still are avoiding the question. again, good
> 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.)
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.
memento o homo! quod cinis es et in cinerem revertaris
Jim West, ThD
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.
- 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.
solid>A. I started off questioning the existence of any relatively
> evidence for the existence of the historical Jesus,and asked
> for a prioritized listing of 5 suchitems.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
- Leon Albert wrote:
> Jerez's (9/30) contention that the alleged christian interpolatorLeon,
> 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!
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
- 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
- >>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 biographieYes, 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
- 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 amyth (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 anappeal from the beginning since we know that some Jews and Pagans became Christian. And itstill has appeal since people still become Christians. The promise of a saviour from heaven andeternal 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 appealingmyth if they hadn't been constrained by some historical facts. Jesus crucifixion being the mainone. What Paul, Mark, Matthew and the others had to do was to wrap the disgraceful executionin a package that would give it a positive meaning. They did this through creative reading ofthe 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" interpretationduring his missionary journeys (see Acts 28:23). The gospels are an exampel of the processtaken a step further - here we find the proof texts turned into a continous story that makesJesus into the Suffering servant, Son of God and Son of Man (among other things).Best wishesAntonio JerezGöteborg, Sweden
- Cory Liknes wrote:
>I foundthis >mythologizing if there was no singular personage around >whose
>There just doesn't seem to be a good reason for people to go through all
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 someJews 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 moreeasily >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 hismissionary 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
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