/ Historicity of Jesus (was Scouts and religion)

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Coel Hellier - on 24 Oct 2013
Excellent, we've hit the auto-archive! And thus a chance for a more appropriate thread title.

Continuing from: http://www.ukclimbing.com/forums/t.php?t=565468

In reply to Tim Chappel:

> but remember where we've got to in this argument. I don't need to show that it necessarily does. Rather,
> you need to show that it necessarily doesn't. I've just proved that that cannot be shown.

No I don't! Again, you make an amazing reversal of the burden of proof!

Your overall stance: Jesus was clearly a historical person c. AD30, and it's absurd to deny this.

My overall stance: The case for the "historical" Jesus being a mythical person made up in storified allegories post-AD71 is just as good as the case for him being an actual historical person. Neither case can be established beyond reasonable doubt, and one can argue about the balance of probability.

Given that, *you* are the one who needs to refute mythicism. Unless you're retreating to "historicism is just as plausible, you mythicists can't actually refute it".

Now *you* are the one trying to use that passage as showing Paul's awareness of a recently living Jesus, and thus refuting mythicism.

I need only show that the passage is capable of meaning "tale from Scripture" (cf. kata Mark, "tale from Mark"), and thus that it is compatible with mythicism.
Jimbo W on 24 Oct 2013
In reply to Coel Hellier:

> No, I'm merely saying that you cannot refute that hypothesis by using post-AD71 writings to demonstrate how people thought pre-AD71.

Why not? All history refers back, and very little history of this era is rich with definitively contemporaneous sources.. ..however, in terms of time of writing to time of events, the New Testament is better than the accounts of a great many undisputed historical individuals! Also, the obsession with AD71 is exactly that.. ..an obsession. Yes it should be born in mind, but no, it does not mean that all such post history should be thrown out. Neither should it be assumed to be the definitive 1st century period upon which so much supposedly polarised. There were numerous pre-AD71 events that are also relevant, and may well also have affected documentation, e.g. the Caligua crisis referred to by Josephus, which may well be contextually relevant to a much earlier date of Mark.
Al Evans on 24 Oct 2013
In reply to Coel Hellier: Every Sunday morning on local ex-pat radio there is a one hour religious programme. This Sundays theme was Dinosaurs lived at the same time as man (ergo, evolution is a fraud). They spent an hour proving this interspersed with some god songs. The only actually 'proof' was that some human footprints had been found in ,is it?, the ordovician layers that crossed a dinosaurs foorprint.
Now you don't need a lot of brainpower to see if this was even true how it could have happened. BUT supposedly an eminent archeologist had been along and destroyed them with a chisel before they could be investigated scientifically. They claimed to have a photograph of the footprints crossing the dinosaur track before the professor destroyed them.
It was laughable and at times the programme had me laughing out loud, sadly the guy who presents the prog seems like a nice guy, but this whole prog was ludicrous.
Tim Chappell - on 24 Oct 2013
In reply to Coel Hellier:


Very interesting. In the last thread you were all "kata means 'as was said', it can't mean 'in fulfilment of', and you can't show a single piece of Greek where it does mean that".

In response to which I pointed out (1) that if you wanted to say something like "in fulfilment of our contract' in classical Greek you would write kata ten diatheken hemeteran, (2) that Plato uses kata to mean fulfilment at the beginning of the Sophist, and (3) that Luke uses kata to mean fulfilment in the Nunc Dimittis.

Could we just get it on record that you've conceded that kata can have the sense of "in fulfilment of"?
Coel Hellier - on 24 Oct 2013
In reply to Tim Chappell:

> "prove H false" might mean (1) "show that H is not a reasonable or sensible hypothesis",

Yes, that is what we should discuss. We're discussing probabilities here, that's all we can do given the paucity of evidence.

> but might also mean (2) "show that H is not even a barely possible hypothesis".

> I've done (1).

No you have not. If you think you have then your glasses are tinted.

> The principle of historical induction is that, if you want to know what's going on at point A,
> and don't have direct evidence, and you have direct evidence about point B, and point B is close to A,

So you're admitting that you don't have direct evidence from pre-AD71 of what that phrase ("Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures") meant to those pre-AD71?

Anyhow, the point is that if the hypothesis is that there was a significant change in their religion over the AD67-72 Roman-Jewish War, then you cannot *assume* that there was not change as a way of refuting that idea. So you cannot *assume* that B is the same as A as a way of refuting the idea that B was not the same as A.

> Do you reject this principle?

As applied to the hypothesis we're discussing, yes. Afterall, you would not accept an absence of a historical Jesus in 10 BC as evidence for the absence of such in AD30.

That's because your whole hypothesis is a change, the birth and then ministry of Jesus, in c. AD30. That's your hypothesis for the divergence of Christianity from Judaism.

My hypothesis for that divergence is a change, not in c. AD30 but in c. AD80, of a storified allegory being written.

Both of our hypotheses rest on a change. Showing the absence on a historical Jesus in 10 BC doesn't refute your hypothesis -- it is entirely consistent with it. And showing the presence of *stories* about a historical Jesus in AD80 does not refute my hypothesis, it is entirely consistent with it.

> And of course it would be nice to know what answer, if any, you have to the ultra-early Mark hypothesis.
> If you have no answer then mythicism is dead in the water.

Your concept of the burden of proof is bizarre.
Coel Hellier - on 24 Oct 2013
In reply to Tim Chappell:

> Could we just get it on record that you've conceded that kata can have the sense of "in fulfilment of"?

OK, yes, given your evidence this morning, the word *could* have been used to mean that. As I've said, though, it could also have been used to mean simply "tale from Scripture".
Tim Chappell - on 24 Oct 2013
In reply to Coel Hellier:

Never mind words like "bizarre". Which are a bit rich coming from a mythicist, anyway!

Please present a case of your own, not one that relies on smokescreens about "mainline scholarship", why Mark could not have been written in AD 27.
Tim Chappell - on 24 Oct 2013
In reply to Coel Hellier:
> (In reply to Tim Chappell)
>
> [...]
>
> OK, yes, given your evidence this morning, the word *could* have been used to mean that. As I've said, though, it could also have been used to mean simply "tale from Scripture".


Not in the passage you're talking about. Paul is saying there that Jesus was historically and actually raised from the dead, and that this fulfilled scripture.
Coel Hellier - on 24 Oct 2013
In reply to Tim Chappell:

> Not in the passage you're talking about. Paul is saying there that Jesus was historically and actually
> raised from the dead, and that this fulfilled scripture.

Did Paul tell you what he meant in a vision? Or are you just going for the interpretation that suits you?
Coel Hellier - on 24 Oct 2013
In reply to Tim Chappell:

> Please present a case of your own, not one that relies on smokescreens about "mainline scholarship",
> why Mark could not have been written in AD 27.

Tim, Tim, Tim, I've replied four times: If **you** want to argue for this date, if *your* argument depends on it, then *you* present your evidence for it!

But, as I've also said several times, one big reason is that Paul shows no awareness of it. He explicitly tells us -- and this is what he tells us after 20-odd years as a leading figure among the Christians -- that: "I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel I preached is not of human origin. I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ".

That tells us ("I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it") that he did not get anything from or know about any "Mark" writing.

That is far stronger evidence against "Mark" existing then than you have given for Mark being written long before Paul wrote Galations.
Tim Chappell - on 24 Oct 2013
In reply to Coel Hellier:
> He explicitly tells us -- and this is what he tells us after 20-odd years as a leading figure among the Christians -- that: "I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel I preached is not of human origin. I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ".
>
> That tells us ("I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it") that he did not get anything from or know about any "Mark" writing.
>


No it doesn't tell us that. And you're backtracking here. You've already conceded, in the last thread, that when Paul says in Galatians that his gospel was something he received by revelation from Jesus Christ, what he means is that his credentials as an apostle are first-order: he is not coming to the Galatians as someone who only knows about Jesus indirectly and from other teachers, as his opponents in Galatia were saying.

Note too Paul's use of paredwka and parelabon, as already noted. He says "I received what I also passed on to you". This is standard language for saying "I'm part of the tradition" (paradosis is the Greek for tradition).

Note as well that he pretty well quotes Mt 26.26 in 1 Cor 11. A good explanation of this is that Paul knew the Gospel of Matthew, or some prototype of it.

Note also that in the ancient world people did not always reference their citations.

And note that unless Paul is talking about a historical Jesus then he cannot be talking about fulfilment of prophecies. For it takes an actual and real Jesus to fulfil prophecies; that's the whole point of the Gospel, that Jesus is such a real and actual fulfilment.

Note again that Paul stresses the historicity of the resurrection: "If Christ is not raised then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain", he says, in a passage concerned among other things with the question whether the Corinthian believers will be raised--not mythologically but actually.

Note that you are advancing a wild hypothesis, and so the question naturally arises why we should give it any more attention than any other wild hypothesis we might propound: that Jesus was actually a radish, say, or (less wild but still unorthodox) that Mark was complete by 27 AD. Why don't we talk about those ideas? Why the obsessing on one particular wild hypothesis, mythicism? Could it be because mythicism is what you want to believe?

Finally, you did eventually concede on the last thread that Paul gives us at least one narrative about Jesus' pre-crucifixion life among his disciples. I am not sure whether you've now withdrawn that concession. But in any case, the point remains true whatever you care to say against it.
Coel Hellier - on 24 Oct 2013
In reply to Tim Chappell:

> You've already conceded, in the last thread, that when Paul says in Galatians that his gospel
> was something he received by revelation from Jesus Christ, what he means is that his credentials
> as an apostle are first-order:

Sure, Paul is establishing his credentials. But I have not conceded that by "I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it" Paul meant "I got it from the disciples, and from their writings, such as the Mark's account".

> Note as well that he pretty well quotes Mt 26.26 in 1 Cor 11.

I just love the way you make these assertions! Paul (usually dated c. AD50) here "quotes" the gospel of Matthew (usually dated c. AD80)!

Perhaps Matthew was quoting Paul?

> that's the whole point of the Gospel, that Jesus is such a real and actual fulfilment.

The post-AD71 gospels, yes.

> Note again that Paul stresses the historicity of the resurrection: "If Christ is not raised then
> our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain",

Sure, but to him it happened in the past, in the Old Testament.

> Finally, you did eventually concede on the last thread that Paul gives us at least one narrative
> about Jesus' pre-crucifixion life among his disciples.

No I did not. If this is supposed to be 1 Cor 11 then there is no mention of any disciples! I just love the way you add these little details that are not there! And Paul tells us that this is *not* recounting a story from someone who was there! It's entirely compatible with being a story about the living, dying and rising Messiah as recounted in the OT.
Coel Hellier - on 24 Oct 2013
In reply to Tim Chappell:

> Note that you are advancing a wild hypothesis, ...

What is "wild" about the idea that religious believers make up storified allegories about their theology?

Is is the case that someone made up the story of Adam and Eve as a storified allegory?

Is is the case that someone made up the story of Noah as a storified allegory?

Is is the case that someone made up much of the stories of Abraham and Moses as storified allegories?

Is is the case that someone made up the story of Job as a storified allegory?

Is it the case that C.S. Lewis made up the Narnia books as a storified allegory of the theology he'd got from Scripture?

Which bit of these suggestions is "wild"?
Gordon Stainforth - on 24 Oct 2013
In reply to Coel Hellier:

(coffee break comment)
Sorry, Coel, what is a 'storified allegory' as opposed to an allegory?
Jimbo W on 24 Oct 2013
In reply to Coel Hellier:

> So you're admitting that you don't have direct evidence from pre-AD71 of what that phrase ("Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures") meant to those pre-AD71?

No. He is, I believe, saying that if contemporaneous accounts are not available then next most proximal accounts will have to be used... ...and such sources are not a priori not evidence that originates before those sources (apologies for the double negatives!) Later sources can be real and reliable evidence of older events. Neither, is I believe he saying that there is no pre-AD71 gospel sources. This is very much open debate, for example, a far earlier date for Mark is distinctly possible. See James Crossley's "The Date of Mark's Gospel".

> Anyhow, the point is that if the hypothesis is that there was a significant change in their religion over the AD67-72 Roman-Jewish War, then you cannot *assume* that there was not change as a way of refuting that idea. So you cannot *assume* that B is the same as A as a way of refuting the idea that B was not the same as A.

Neither can you *assume* that there was. Neither can you show that AD67-72 was critical.
Coel Hellier - on 24 Oct 2013
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:

> Sorry, Coel, what is a 'storified allegory' as opposed to an allegory?

Just that the word "allegory" is a bit broader. A poem or a painting could be an allegory. By "storified allegory" I mean an allegory in the form of a story about people.
Gordon Stainforth - on 24 Oct 2013
In reply to Coel Hellier:

OK, but it just seemed a bit of an unnecessary tautology to me - because a painting that is an allegory also tells a story. And a story can be about mythical creatures, Gods, robots, animals and things as well as about people. Most good stories though, I agree, are about people or things that behave very like people. Similarly the value of a myth is the way it expresses an important human theme.
Coel Hellier - on 24 Oct 2013
In reply to Jimbo W:

> Neither can you *assume* that there was. Neither can you show that AD67-72 was critical.

Yes, I accept that I can't just "assume" there was a big change, I have to argue for it.

Arguments for the AD67-72 war being critical include:

Fall of Jerusalem, destruction of Temple, death of 1,000,000 Jews (Josephus's figure), stories still resounding from that time (e.g. seige of Masada). One might expect this to have a significant effect on Jewish culture.

Second, the Jews even now regard it as highly significant. They all talk of this as ending the "Second Temple Period".

Third, leading up to that War we know of many Jewish sects -- the Zealots, the Essenes, the Sadduccees, the Pharisees (and the Christians). Three of these (Zealots, Essenes, Sadduccees) all disappear from history at this juncture. (The Zealots because the Romans killed them all, the last dying at Masada.) So if we have three major and long-standing sects ending then, it suggests a time of social and religious change and upheaval.

Jimbo W on 24 Oct 2013
In reply to Coel Hellier:
> (In reply to Jimbo W)
>
> [...]
>
> Yes, I accept that I can't just "assume" there was a big change, I have to argue for it.
>
> Arguments for the AD67-72 war being critical include:
>
> Fall of Jerusalem, destruction of Temple, death of 1,000,000 Jews (Josephus's figure), stories still resounding from that time (e.g. seige of Masada). One might expect this to have a significant effect on Jewish culture.
>
> Second, the Jews even now regard it as highly significant. They all talk of this as ending the "Second Temple Period".
>
> Third, leading up to that War we know of many Jewish sects -- the Zealots, the Essenes, the Sadduccees, the Pharisees (and the Christians). Three of these (Zealots, Essenes, Sadduccees) all disappear from history at this juncture. (The Zealots because the Romans killed them all, the last dying at Masada.) So if we have three major and long-standing sects ending then, it suggests a time of social and religious change and upheaval.

None of which I deny, but none of which of itself shows the significance of these events on new testament scripture. That is what you have to start arguing for.
Tim Chappell - on 24 Oct 2013
>. If this is supposed to be 1 Cor 11 then there is no mention of any disciples!

It was the night before Jesus died. He broke bread and said "Here is my body..."

Who do you think he was talking to? Himself? A radish?


> And Paul tells us that this is *not* recounting a story from someone who was there!

No he doesn't. He says "I received from the Lord". As I keep pointing out, it's only you who thinks that that is incompatible with receiving it from other humans too.

He also says, I also keep pointing out, that the details he has about Jesus are details that he parelaben, and now paradidwsi-- details that he received within a tradition, and now hands on in continuation of that tradition.

>It's entirely compatible with being a story about the living, dying and rising Messiah as recounted in the OT.

As *predicted* in the OT. And as fulfilled in Jesus.

It is wild conjecture, on a par with Dan-Brown-type conspiracy-theory nonsense, to take Paul and the author of Hebrews and everyone else in the earliest bits of the NT, to be saying "We've had some visions of some mythological stuff that we like, so believe this stuff". Rather than what, on any unforced reading of the texts, they quite obviously are saying: "the Old Testament writings are now fulfilled in this man Jesus".

You have given us no reason at all to take your wild conjecture seriously; in fact, the more you squirm, the less plausible it seems.

Nor have you shown why we should take *your* wild conjecture any more seriously than various other wild conjectures, e.g. that Jesus was really a radish, or (but this is a lot less wild) that Mark was complete by 27 AD.
Tim Chappell - on 24 Oct 2013
In reply to Coel:

Arguments for the AD67-72 war being critical include:
>
> Fall of Jerusalem, destruction of Temple, death of 1,000,000 Jews (Josephus's figure), stories still resounding from that time (e.g. seige of Masada). One might expect this to have a significant effect on Jewish culture.
>
> Second, the Jews even now regard it as highly significant. They all talk of this as ending the "Second Temple Period".
>
> Third, leading up to that War we know of many Jewish sects -- the Zealots, the Essenes, the Sadduccees, the Pharisees (and the Christians). Three of these (Zealots, Essenes, Sadduccees) all disappear from history at this juncture. (The Zealots because the Romans killed them all, the last dying at Masada.) So if we have three major and long-standing sects ending then, it suggests a time of social and religious change and upheaval.


I see.

So your argument is:

Premiss: Lots of bad stuff happened around 71 AD
Conclusion: Therefore the Christians made up Jesus around 71 AD.

Oh yes. Devastating.
Tim Chappell - on 24 Oct 2013
In reply to Coel Hellier:

>storified allegory

First, you've got your own argument in a fankle. If Mark is supposed to be (as you said before) the first document in which the mythological Jesus becomes historical, then Mark should *precisely not* be a storified allegory.

Secondly, many scholars say Mark is not later than 67 AD. I don't know whether they're scholars who are in your pick-and-choose "mainstream category", but in any case, on their dating Mark is too early by at least four years.

Thirdly, Mark just isn't a storified allegory. Allegory of what? In an allegory there has to be a correlation between thing allegorising, and thing allegorised. No sign of any such correlation in the text. The idea that Mark is an allegory is pure invention. (Whose, I wonder? Did you make this up yourself, or copy it out from someone else?)

Mark really does look much more like a breathless diary, written on the hoof, of events that the author is sure are important, but which he doesn't yet fully understand.

There is an ancient tradition that the young man who runs away naked at Mk 13.52 *is Mark himself*. Certainly authors tended to introduce themselves into narratives in this coy and indirect way.

If it's not Mark himself, why is this detail there? I don't think your storified allegory schtick can do anything with it. On the ultra-early Mark thesis, it makes perfect sense. And it shows that the NT includes literally eye witness accounts of Jesus.

Hat Dude on 24 Oct 2013
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:

Sorry Gordon what is an "unnecessary tautology" as opposed to a tautology ;-)
Coel Hellier - on 24 Oct 2013
In reply to Tim Chappell:

> Who do you think he was talking to?

As I said last time you asked, in Paul's account Jesus seems to be talking to Christians as a whole. Paul told the story as an instruction to all Christians, and certainly subsequent Christians have taken it as an instruction to them all.

> He says "I received from the Lord". As I keep pointing out, it's only you who thinks that that is
> incompatible with receiving it from other humans too.

Though he never ever says he gets anything from any other human, indeed he explicitly says he hasn't done (Galations). He also shows a remarkable lack of interest in any such accounts from (supposed) disciples. So, he tells us, after the Road to Damascus conversion, he ignores the other Christians, and wanders off on a three-year sojourn around Arabia.

Is that what you would do if you as a Christian had just come to conclusion that Jesus Christ himself had recently been living, and that those people in that town a day's journey away had lived with him for years and could tell you all about him. And you say, "nah, no thanks, I'll stick with the OT and divine revelations" and wander off around Arabia for years. Is that what you would do if there were a second coming?

> It is wild conjecture, on a par with Dan-Brown-type conspiracy-theory nonsense, to take Paul and
> the author of Hebrews and everyone else in the earliest bits of the NT, to be saying "We've had some
> visions of some mythological stuff that we like, so believe this stuff".

Really? It is a "wild conjecture" to suppose that when Paul explicitly tells us that "I've had some visions and divine revelations and so I believe this stuff" he actually meant: "I've had some visions and divine revelations and so I believe this stuff"? That's "wild" is it?

Sheesh, Tim, the *whole* *point* about Paul is that he had a divine revelation (Road to Damascus experience) and as a result believed stuff!

And yet when I say that about Paul it's a "wild conjecture, on a par with Dan-Brown-type conspiracy-theory nonsense"!!

no_more_scotch_eggs - on 24 Oct 2013
In reply to Tim Chappell:

When you say "we", and "us", in your last 2 paragraphs of your 12.17 post, you'd be more correct if you said "I" and "me".

Tbh, of the two cases, I'm still more persuaded by coel's, that the evidence for there having been a historical Jesus is equivocal, and given the length of time this thread has run, the volume of evidence and the quality of debate, probably unprovable either way.

Cheers

Gregor
Coel Hellier - on 24 Oct 2013
In reply to Tim Chappell:

> So your argument is:
>
> Premiss: Lots of bad stuff happened around 71 AD
> Conclusion: Therefore the Christians made up Jesus around 71 AD.
>
> Oh yes. Devastating.

I like how you conveniently overlook a whole thread-full of other arguments!
Jimbo W on 24 Oct 2013
In reply to Hat Dude:
> (In reply to Gordon Stainforth)
>
> Sorry Gordon what is an "unnecessary tautology" as opposed to a tautology ;-)

I like
Jimbo W on 24 Oct 2013
In reply to Tim Chappell:

> Secondly, many scholars say Mark is not later than 67 AD. I don't know whether they're scholars who are in your pick-and-choose "mainstream category", but in any case, on their dating Mark is too early by at least four years.

I'm wondering if James Crossan is in his pick and choose "mainstream category" given his thoroughly argued suggestion of 40sAD for Mark.....!
Jimbo W on 24 Oct 2013
In reply to Coel Hellier:

> I like how you conveniently overlook a whole thread-full of other arguments!

What arguments? You don't seem to have any. It seems no more than that the Gospels *might* all have been written late (though I'd dispute that being the case relatively), and that *might* possibly have affected what they wrote given significant events like the Jewish-Roman war (though you haven't shown where and how this has affected New Testament documents) combined with the the largely mythical Jesus hypothesis (which I'd also dispute necessitates a non-historical Jesus) that has its home mostly in the more outward secular blogosphere.
Coel Hellier - on 24 Oct 2013
In reply to Tim Chappell:

> First, you've got your own argument in a fankle. If Mark is supposed to be (as you said before) the
> first document in which the mythological Jesus becomes historical, then Mark should *precisely not*
> be a storified allegory.

Nope, most likely Mark thought it was *real* in the OT and made up a storified allegory setting it in the recent past (to make it more real and immediate, humans often respond well to things in story form).

For comparison, C.S Lewis took something that he regarded as real from the Bible and made up a storified allegory setting it in Narnia (to make it more alive and accessible to children, children often respond well to things in story form).

So, Mark precisely *was* a storified allegory of OT Scripture.

> Secondly, many scholars say Mark is not later than 67 AD.

And their argument for "no later than AD 67" is ...?

> Thirdly, Mark just isn't a storified allegory. Allegory of what?

The OT story of a living, dying and rising Messiah. The one recounted in Hebrews that is clearly set *before* the writing of the OT Psalms, given how the story is told with quotes from Psalms.

> There is an ancient tradition that the young man who runs away naked at Mk 13.52 *is Mark himself*.

"Ancient tradition". Now that's convincing. So at some point some Sunday School teacher makes up the idea that the young man who runs away naked is Mark himself, and he does so to make the story seem more alive and real to the kids, and from then on it is an "ancient tradition".

Now present your *evidence* that the young man who runs away naked is Mark himself.

> If it's not Mark himself, why is this detail there?

Why is any detail in any novel there? To make it more real. Ask any novelist.

> And it shows that the NT includes literally eye witness accounts of Jesus.

Notice how in the space of two lines we've gone from an "ancient tradition" of unknown provenance to "it shows that", as though this is now secure!
Gordon Stainforth - on 24 Oct 2013
In reply to Hat Dude:
> (In reply to Gordon Stainforth)
>
> Sorry Gordon what is an "unnecessary tautology" as opposed to a tautology ;-)

Ouch! Nice one.

Tim Chappell - on 24 Oct 2013
In reply to Coel Hellier:

>
> Though he never ever says he gets anything from any other human, indeed he explicitly says he hasn't done (Galations).

Wrong. His use of parelabon is saying he stands in a tradition. He does get things from other Christians. He says so.

>He also shows a remarkable lack of interest in any such accounts from (supposed) disciples.

So, now it's this argument?

Premiss: Not much in Paul about the other disciples' accounts
Conclusion: Jesus was made up

You think that's a good argument? Wow...

>when Paul explicitly tells us that "I've had some visions and divine revelations and so I believe this stuff"

That isn't what he says.

> the *whole* *point* about Paul is that he had a divine revelation (Road to Damascus experience) and as a result believed stuff!

As you admitted on the other thread, he says he *saw* Jesus. Not in a vision, not in a dream; he *saw* him. You can doubt his word if you like, but that's what he says.

And he never says that the Damascus Rd experience is his only reason for being a Christian. It comes in a context, a context where he was persecuting the church. Like other pharisees, he would have had at least some idea what the Christians believed; you'd need to, to know which people to persecute.
What happened was, he saw Jesus--and that made his whole understanding of the Jewish scriptures and the sect he was persecuting stand on its head. That's what the NT says happened, quite unequivocally.

> And yet when I say that about Paul it's a "wild conjecture, on a par with Dan-Brown-type conspiracy-theory nonsense"!!

What you say about Paul is exactly that: wild conjecture.
Coel Hellier - on 24 Oct 2013
In reply to Jimbo W:

> I'm wondering if James Crossan is in his pick ...

Do you mean John Dominic Crossan? Who was a Catholic priest? I entirely accept that you can find any number of Christian apologetic scholars who argue for a position based on their wishful thinking.
Tim Chappell - on 24 Oct 2013
In reply to Coel Hellier:


Even after all this time, you still haven't answered my question when and where was the first enunciation of the mythicist hypothesis. I'm guessing in Germany, about 1790ish.

Even after all this time, you still owe us an explanation of why we should take more notice of mythicism than of the radish hypothesis.

And now I have work to do.
Tim Chappell - on 24 Oct 2013
In reply to Coel Hellier:
> (In reply to Jimbo W)
>
> [...]
>
> Do you mean John Dominic Crossan? Who was a Catholic priest? I entirely accept that you can find any number of Christian apologetic scholars who argue for a position based on their wishful thinking.

Come on, Coel, this is just a lazy slander. You should stop attacking the integrity of your opponents. Take the ball not the man. Address what Crossan says, not what you take to be his motives. If you have any arguments, argue. If you don't have any arguments, don't smear people with imputations of bad faith.
Jimbo W on 24 Oct 2013
In reply to Coel Hellier:

> Do you mean John Dominic Crossan? Who was a Catholic priest? I entirely accept that you can find any number of Christian apologetic scholars who argue for a position based on their wishful thinking.

Apologies... ...I misremembered his name: James Crossley
Coel Hellier - on 24 Oct 2013
In reply to Tim Chappell:

> He [Paul] does get things from other Christians. He says so.

".... I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ ..."

> So, now it's this argument?
>
> Premiss: Not much in Paul about the other disciples' accounts
> Conclusion: Jesus was made up
>
> You think that's a good argument? Wow...

Kind of you to make up my arguments for me, rather than you arguing against what I actually say! Two can play this game:

Premiss: If Jesus wasn't real then I'll die and won't get to heaven.
Conclusion: Jesus was real.

Wow, Tim, that one is really convincing!

> As you admitted on the other thread, he says he *saw* Jesus. Not in a vision, not in a dream; he *saw* him.

Sure, saw him in a post-death appearance in the manner of the Road to Damascus incident.
felt - on 24 Oct 2013
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:
> (In reply to Hat Dude)
> [...]
>
> Ouch! Nice one.

Not necessarily. The writings of the Romantics are full of tautologies. Whilst some would use these as a stick with which to beat them for their wordiness, others rather appreciate such tautologies as necessary to create the 'Romantic' effect.
Coel Hellier - on 24 Oct 2013
In reply to Tim Chappell:

> Even after all this time, you still haven't answered my question when and where was the first enunciation of
> the mythicist hypothesis. I'm guessing in Germany, about 1790ish.

I'd go for whoever it was who was being argued against, when, in AD100 or so, a Christian forged an eye-witness account in the voice of the Apostle Peter, saying:

"For we did not follow cleverly devised stories when we told you about the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in power, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. ..."

"... there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord ..."

(I suspect that Tim will now re-date this 2 Peter letter to AD30, and claim it was actually by Peter, and challenge me to disprove it.)
Gordon Stainforth - on 24 Oct 2013
In reply to felt:
> (In reply to Gordon Stainforth)
> [...]
>
> Not necessarily. The writings of the Romantics are full of tautologies. Whilst some would use these as a stick with which to beat them for their wordiness, others rather appreciate such tautologies as necessary to create the 'Romantic' effect.

Well, to some extent you have come to my rescue, because what I implied was that some tautologies are useful/'necessary', as you say -usually for emphasis (I think Shakespeare does it quite a lot, though I can't think of an example off the top of my head). But I couldn't see how 'storified' helped or added anything.

Anyway, I don't want to digress, and need to get back to work now.
malk - on 24 Oct 2013
In reply to Coel Hellier: who cares? why not address real problems?
Tim Chappell - on 24 Oct 2013
In reply to Coel Hellier:
> (In reply to Tim Chappell)
>
> [...]
>
> I'd go for whoever it was who was being argued against, when, in AD100 or so, a Christian forged an eye-witness account in the voice of the Apostle Peter, saying:
>
> "For we did not follow cleverly devised stories when we told you about the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in power, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. ..."
>
> "... there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord ..."


This is getting boring. I've already dealt with this. I've pointed out that 2 Peter is written against gnosticism and the denial of Jesus' bodily as opposed to spiritual reality. There isn't a shred of support for the idea that it's about mythicism in Coel's sense, the denial that there was a historical Jesus.

Looking through your last batch of posts, Coel, I'm afraid I can't see anything much in them except repeated denials of points I've already dealt with. No new arguments from you, and none that haven't been amply refuted already.

If you have anything *new* to say, let's hear it.
Tim Chappell - on 24 Oct 2013
In reply to Coel Hellier:
>
> (I suspect that Tim will now re-date this 2 Peter letter to AD30, and claim it was actually by Peter, and challenge me to disprove it.)


That wasn't my inclination. But since you mention it--why shouldn't I?
I dare say there's a much better chance that 2 Peter is from 30 than that Jesus was made up in 70. Remember, you've set your face against mainstream scholarship. You're out on your own; your choice. So what's *your* argument that it's not from AD 30?

Don't just say "Most of the scholars say it's much later". You simply can't say that, in the very same breath as saying slanderous things like you said above, such as "Most of the scholars are Christians and therefore intellectually dishonest".
Philip on 24 Oct 2013
You meet people with names like Peter, Mark, Luke, etc but you don't come across many people called Jesus.

Just saying. Looks a bit suspicious to me.

Also, in depth analysis of the bible has revealed very little women involved - compare that to real life.
Tim Chappell - on 24 Oct 2013
In reply to Philip:
> You meet people with names like Peter, Mark, Luke, etc but you don't come across many people called Jesus.

Bloody do! Take a trip to Mexico :-)
malk - on 24 Oct 2013
In reply to Philip: i think Coel and Tim aren't in real life as they spend so much time discussing the past..
Gordon Stainforth - on 24 Oct 2013
In reply to malk:

I think there are more important things/detective work going on the world today ...
drolex - on 24 Oct 2013
In reply to Philip: To be fair, he could have taken another first name, if he was called with a silly name like Brain or Bigus in the first place. But in this case, I don't understand why he didn't take a cool middle name as well, like Jesus Danger Christ.

I can't find any trace of a Christ family either. No Joseph Christ or Mary Christ on the records.
Tim Chappell - on 24 Oct 2013
In reply to drolex:

A lot of Australians seem to think his full name was Jesus F***ing Christ :-)

Or as the old American graffito has it--"So if Jesus was Jewish, how come he had a Mexican name?"
felt - on 24 Oct 2013
In reply to Gordon Stainforth: a

I thought you were supposed to be working? Either work, or stop saying that you have to rush off and work :)
Philip on 24 Oct 2013
In reply to drolex:
> (In reply to Philip) To be fair, he could have taken another first name, if he was called with a silly name like Brain or Bigus in the first place. But in this case, I don't understand why he didn't take a cool middle name as well, like Jesus Danger Christ.

I misread that at Brian not Brain and thought you were making silly references to the Monty Python documentary.
teflonpete - on 24 Oct 2013
In reply to Coel Hellier:

Jesus, Coel and Tim will be discussing this until the second coming...
Gordon Stainforth - on 24 Oct 2013
In reply to felt:

I am working actually ... that just took a couple of seconds to write. As did this.
drolex - on 24 Oct 2013
In reply to Philip: Typo, sorry. :
felt - on 24 Oct 2013
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:

Hmmmm. It's work, Jim, but not as we know it. Anyhow, got to rush, darlings, got some important stuff on Napoleon to do :)
Coel Hellier - on 24 Oct 2013
In reply to Tim Chappell:

> There isn't a shred of support for the idea that it's about mythicism in Coel's sense, the denial that there was a historical Jesus.

Really? So this:

"For we did not follow cleverly devised stories when we told you about the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ ..."

... is not indicating that some people were saying that the accounts of Jesus's coming were "cleverly devised stories"?

Tim, I'm afraid I can't see anything much in your posts except repeated denials of points I've already dealt with, plus a lot of wishful thinking.
Coel Hellier - on 24 Oct 2013
In reply to Tim Chappell:

> Remember, you've set your face against mainstream scholarship.

Not at all, I've carefully outlined the extent to which I do and do not trust mainstream scholarship and the reasons for that.
Hardonicus - on 24 Oct 2013
In reply to teflonpete: If Jesus did exist, he'd be weeping right now.

Hat Dude on 24 Oct 2013
In reply to Hardonicus:
> (In reply to teflonpete) If Jesus did exist, he'd be weeping right now.

The Apostles were fond of playing Chinese Whispers.

Jesus was in fact not a carpenter; he was a caretaker and wielded a mean broom.

MikeTS - on 24 Oct 2013
In reply to Coel Hellier:
> (In reply to Jimbo W)
>
>
> Third, leading up to that War we know of many Jewish sects -- the Zealots, the Essenes, the Sadduccees, the Pharisees (and the Christians). Three of these (Zealots, Essenes, Sadduccees) all disappear from history at this juncture. (The Zealots because the Romans killed them all, the last dying at Masada.)

They were all forms of Judaism whose role became impossible with the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem. So Judaism changed by relocating to Tiberias, decentraling worship, and replacing sacrifices by prayers.
ads.ukclimbing.com
Darren Jackson - on 24 Oct 2013
In reply to Hat Dude:
>
> The Apostles were fond of playing Chinese Whispers.

You're looking very beautiful man. Have you been away? St. Peter preached the epistles to the apostles looking like that... Have you got any food?
malk - on 24 Oct 2013
In reply to Coel Hellier:
>
>
> Not at all, I've carefully outlined the extent to which I do and do not trust mainstream scholarship and the reasons for that.

well good for you. if only everyone had so much time away from their important research to engage in such meaningless fluff..
Coel Hellier - on 24 Oct 2013
In reply to malk:

> ... to engage in such meaningless fluff..

So the origin of one of the most influential ideas in the world over the last 2000 years is "meaningless fluff"?
malk - on 24 Oct 2013
In reply to Coel Hellier: why not engage your brain in more difficult problems? or is supernova funding in the doldrums?
999thAndy on 24 Oct 2013
In reply to Coel Hellier:

You and Tim have wasted how many hours on this debate?
To what effect?

Meaningless fluff sums it up very nicely.
teflonpete - on 24 Oct 2013
In reply to Coel Hellier:
> (In reply to malk)
>
> [...]
>
> So the origin of one of the most influential ideas in the world over the last 2000 years is "meaningless fluff"?

Pretty much, no one in their right mind believes it anyway... ;0)
malk - on 24 Oct 2013
In reply to 999thAndy: and how many hours of taxpayers money?..
teflonpete - on 24 Oct 2013
In reply to malk:
> (In reply to 999thAndy) and how many hours of taxpayers money?..

Oh come on, that's not fair. In Tim's case it's Open University student fee payers...
malk - on 24 Oct 2013
In reply to Coel Hellier: an idea if your research is at a dead end- write another book..
malk - on 24 Oct 2013
In reply to teflonpete: am i paying your tax as well?
teflonpete - on 24 Oct 2013
In reply to malk:
> (In reply to teflonpete) am i paying your tax as well?

No pal, I work for a private company that exports, I pay 40% tax.
dissonance - on 24 Oct 2013
In reply to teflonpete:

> Oh come on, that's not fair. In Tim's case it's Open University student fee payers...

so thats why they put the beeping fees up.
Coel Hellier - on 24 Oct 2013
In reply to malk:

> and how many hours of taxpayers money?..

Well none in my case, since I don't have working hours and am not paid to work a set amount of hours, I'm paid to do particular jobs/tasks, none of which will not be done as a result of me posting on this thread.

So I don't feel at all guilty about taking an interest in questions beyond putting bread on the table for the next meal.
seankenny - on 24 Oct 2013
In reply to Coel Hellier:
> (In reply to malk)

>I don't have working hours and am not paid to work a set amount of hours, I'm paid to do particular jobs/tasks

If I were your manager I'd change this set up.


>
> So I don't feel at all guilty about taking an interest in questions beyond putting bread on the table for the next meal.

Oh come on Coel, do you really "take an interest in questions"?! I'd put it more at battering away at people who don't believe what you do. You are an evangelical, merely without the bothersome believing in God bit.

When you have an open mind, let us know.
Jimbo W on 24 Oct 2013
In reply to Coel Hellier:

> ".... I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ ..."

Is that it?! Your entire case?! One phrase in which you see an attractive alternative interpretation in the light of your prepossessed hypothesis! What about taking it in the context of the whole letter, such as the discussion in Chapter 2. Just as well Paul wasn't making a claim for the human origin of the gospel. For if the gospel was to have originated in men then it would be undermined as myth from the very outset. For the gospel can not come from men, it can only come by virtue of God's authority, because only God could do what the gospel claims: resurrect Jesus. This assertion also wrests the gospel from being a uniquely Jewish affair: it wasn't because of Jewish teaching, or existing Jewish sects, it was because of God. So follows the defence in Chapter 2 of the gospel being rightly for gentiles or uncircumcised.
Jimbo W on 24 Oct 2013
In reply to Coel Hellier:

> > Nor have you anything to say against the proposal that Mark was written in 27 AD, ...

> You haven't even begun to make a case for it. What is your evidence *for* this idea? Why should I rebut a case that you haven't yet made?

I'm not sure any case has been made, certainly not for a definitively post war Mark. If you don't like Tim's challenge, then here's one for you: take on the view of James Crossley on the time of authorship of Mark. He puts it in the 40s AD. Some of his work is available online, so you should be able to get a pretty good run at it.
Jimbo W on 24 Oct 2013
In reply to Coel Hellier:

> So the origin of one of the most influential ideas in the world over the last 2000 years is "meaningless fluff"?

I know don't even know the breast from which they suckled huh Coel?! ;)
malk - on 24 Oct 2013
In reply to Coel Hellier:
>
> Well none in my case, since I don't have working hours and am not paid to work a set amount of hours, I'm paid to do particular jobs/tasks, none of which will not be done as a result of me posting on this thread.
>
> So I don't feel at all guilty about taking an interest in questions beyond putting bread on the table for the next meal.

well what a lucky guy you are. or is this why britain is in decline?

Jimbo W on 24 Oct 2013
In reply to malk:

> well what a lucky guy you are. or is this why britain is in decline?

No, that's neoliberalism, and the realisation for the majority that it doesn't really feel good for most, or benefit a majority, and someday soon the majority will also become fully conscious of that fact. Anyway, who else would make our celestial screen savers ever more detailed if it wasn't people like Coel?! ;)
Rob Exile Ward on 24 Oct 2013
In reply to seankenny: I think it is utterly legitimate to batter away at people who believe in sky fairies and pixie dust, particularly when they are given extraordinary power by virtue of just having to 'try' and believe - Christians have a god-given right(!) to sit in the House of Lords (do you?), they can run frigging schools that teach that the world is 10,000 years old, they get 10 minutes every morning to spout their vacuous sh*te on Radio 4 every morning - arguably one of the most prime time radio slots on the sodding planet. (You may not listen to it, but Cameron, Milliband, Clegg and all their spawn do.)

Your batter away Coel.
malk - on 24 Oct 2013
malk - on 24 Oct 2013
In reply to Rob Exile Ward: yeah, keep battering away at a dead fish with your head in the sand..
Rob Exile Ward on 24 Oct 2013
In reply to malk: Excellent mixed metaphors, though they DO obscure your point a bit... Which is?
Coel Hellier - on 24 Oct 2013
In reply to seankenny:

> Oh come on Coel, do you really "take an interest in questions"?!

Yes.

> When you have an open mind, let us know.

When you have something intelligent and insightful to say, let us know.
avictimoftheDrpsycho - on 24 Oct 2013
In reply to malk:

Coel's a beast, leave him alone!
Coel Hellier - on 24 Oct 2013
In reply to Jimbo W:

> Is that it?! Your entire case?!

No, it's one small piece of it.

Minneconjou Sioux - on 24 Oct 2013
In reply to Tim Chappell:

I'm actually quite impressed by this thread. I fand it quite refresshing to know that there is at least some due diligence applied to the issue of Christian thinking.

BUT, I lack considerable knowledge in this area so please forgive this next question if it seems a little naive:

Why didn't Jesus write a gospel?
no_more_scotch_eggs - on 24 Oct 2013
In reply to all:

i can only your stamina in this, i thought Bruce and I could keep an argument going, but our threads were sprints compared to this marathon!

it does seem to be repeating points made (repeatedly) up thread now, so i wonder if we're in the last days

given that this has largely been played out for the audience (none of the main players were ever going to shift their ground by a nanometre...), it would be interesting to see whether anyone's had their mind changed by the arguments that've been rehearsed,

cheers
gregor
Choss on 24 Oct 2013
seankenny - on 24 Oct 2013
In reply to Rob Exile Ward:

Rob, of course I agree with you on bishops in the Lords, faith schools and TFTD. What kind of pinko liberal do you take me for?! But that isn't about what people believe, it's about what sort of power they want to wield in society.

My point was that I don't believe these sorts of discussions are ever approached with an open mind. Certain posters seem to me bright but with a certain dull inflexibility of mind. (I'll get off my high horse now, in case I do myself an injury. The air's awful thin up here.)
ads.ukclimbing.com
jonathan shepherd - on 24 Oct 2013
In reply to Minneconjou Sioux:
> (In reply to Tim Chappell)

> Why didn't Jesus write a gospel?
I'd like to know that too. Why is the bible written second hand, couldn't Jesus write?


Rob Exile Ward on 24 Oct 2013
In reply to Jimbo W: ' the realisation for the majority that it doesn't really feel good for most, or benefit a majority'

You know, despite coming from a seriously pink/fluffy/left wing I wonder about assertions like yours. We look at pictures like The Hay Wain or Cries of London and think ah, sweet ... but most of the subjects were living lives of such grinding deprivation and poverty they left no record of their misery.

Fact is, something has made the UK population larger, better fed, clothed, educated and entertained than they have ever been in history. You may not like it, and goodness knows there's infinite room for improvement, but that is the case.
Coel Hellier - on 24 Oct 2013
In reply to seankenny:

> Certain posters seem to me bright but with a certain dull inflexibility of mind.

Well if you're trying to sneer at me again then you should realise that on this topic I've completely changed my mind over the last few years. Maybe the dimwittedness and dull inflexibility that you perceive is in your own brain, not mine?
Jimbo W on 24 Oct 2013
In reply to Rob Exile Ward:

I wasn't talking about a Uk majority, but rather a global majority. However, more locally, while I do object to the London property owners, I rather think it is the relative differences that are becoming more, not less exaggerated.
Jimbo W on 24 Oct 2013
In reply to Rob Exile Ward:
> (In reply to Jimbo W) ' the realisation for the majority that it doesn't really feel good for most, or benefit a majority'
>
> You know, despite coming from a seriously pink/fluffy/left wing I wonder about assertions like yours.

Jeez and there I was with the impression that you were barking blue rinse. Reminds me of "to a louse":
O wad some Power the giftie gie us
To see oursels as ithers see us!

Minneconjou Sioux - on 24 Oct 2013
In reply to Minneconjou Sioux:
> (In reply to Tim Chappell)
>
>>
> Why didn't Jesus write a gospel?

So, no takers yet?
Coel Hellier - on 24 Oct 2013
In reply to Minneconjou Sioux:

> So, no takers yet?

Interesting question, isn't it?
tom_in_edinburgh - on 24 Oct 2013

I really don't understand why an atheist should care if Jesus was a historic figure, or the finer details of interpreting sentences in the bible.

If there wasn't a guy called Jesus then it would be another argument not to believe in the bible. But there are so many compelling reasons not to believe in the bible having another one doesn't really add anything.

If there was a guy called Jesus then it doesn't make the claims in the bible any more credible. There's millions of guys called Jesus in Mexico today but that doesn't mean they are the son of god and have magic powers.

Jimbo W on 24 Oct 2013
In reply to malk:

Thanks. Pretty much my sentiments and it looked like Paxo was more than sympathetic too.
Jimbo W on 24 Oct 2013
In reply to Rob Exile Ward:
> (In reply to Jimbo W) ' the realisation for the majority that it doesn't really feel good for most, or benefit a majority'
>
> You know, despite coming from a seriously pink/fluffy/left wing I wonder about assertions like yours. We look at pictures like The Hay Wain or Cries of London and think ah, sweet ... but most of the subjects were living lives of such grinding deprivation and poverty they left no record of their misery.
>
> Fact is, something has made the UK population larger, better fed, clothed, educated and entertained than they have ever been in history. You may not like it, and goodness knows there's infinite room for improvement, but that is the case.

Oh, and if you weren't really sure what I was saying, which you weren't, see Malk's link above to the Paxo Brand interview.
Jimbo W on 24 Oct 2013
In reply to seankenny:

> Well if you're trying to sneer at me again then you should realise that on this topic I've completely changed my mind over the last few years.

What Coel means is that he has moved from a position of ignorant opposition to all thing religious, and the use of any vaguely defensible hypothesis of polemic value to using anything at all that is anti religious and pragmatically defendable, even if only defendable because they are so vacuous as to lack any foundation whatever that might otherwise be tested. Or another way of saying this might be he has moved from being a scientist to being a postmodern rhetorician who couldn't give a rats arse about truth while playing to the crowd.
Sir Chasm - on 24 Oct 2013
In reply to Minneconjou Sioux: "Why didn't Jesus write a gospel?"

Don't be silly, he knew someone would do it for him - it was foretold.
no_more_scotch_eggs - on 25 Oct 2013
In reply to Jimbo W:

Jimbo, do you really believe that?

Matthew 7:3 comes to mind...

as does your Burns quote upthread!

i certainly dont see Coel as grandstanding or making untestable claims any more than either yourself or Tim. and he seems overall to be less ready to drift towards ad homs (though overall, it been remarkably good natured given the intensity of the debate)

cheers
gregor
dissonance - on 25 Oct 2013
In reply to no_more_scotch_eggs:

> it would be interesting to see whether anyone's had their mind changed by the arguments that've been rehearsed,

In the pre easter version of the thread a couple of people said they had started to shift away from Jesus definitely existing.
Jimbo W on 25 Oct 2013
In reply to dissonance:

Even S Palin is siding with the Coel on this one, given that she thinks Jesus celebrated Easter:
http://dailycurrant.com/2013/10/23/sarah-palin-claims-jesus-celebrated-easter/
Tim Chappell - on 25 Oct 2013
In reply to Minneconjou Sioux: "Why didn't Jesus write a gospel?"


Because he was the Gospel.


Tim Chappell - on 25 Oct 2013
In reply to Minne:

And is...

"And the word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth." Jn 1.14.

"God who in previous times spoke to us in various ways through the prophets has in these final days spoken to us in a son." Heb.1.1.
Up High on 25 Oct 2013
In reply to Coel Hellier: This debate will go on for ever, as you both have your own beliefs.
Unfortunately this typifies religious views; I think its worth considering this.

Would the world be a happier safer place with out religion?

Throughout history people have suffered fear and lost their lives from the wars of religion.
With out Gods, who now are fictious whether they used to exist or not, this world would be a BETTER Place.
ericinbristol - on 25 Oct 2013
In reply to Tim Chappell:

Oh well, that's me persuaded. Really.
Al Evans on 25 Oct 2013
In reply to Minneconjou Sioux:
> (In reply to Tim Chappell)
>
> I'm actually quite impressed by this thread. I fand it quite refresshing to know that there is at least some due diligence applied to the issue of Christian thinking.
>
> BUT, I lack considerable knowledge in this area so please forgive this next question if it seems a little naive:
>
> Why didn't Jesus write a gospel?
Good question?
Al Evans on 25 Oct 2013
In reply to Al Evans: Or maybe he did , under a pseudonym.
cb294 - on 25 Oct 2013
In reply to everyone:

Interesting thread, unfortunately I was too busy to join in the fun.

IMO the historicity of Jesus cannot be reliably answered. Clearly there are some stories about his life that are made up, including miracles and at least one version of events in cases where the gospels give different accounts.
In any case, it is not so important. Refuting the idiotic notion that the bible is literal truth, gods word, and not influenced by the political agendas and social circumstances of the authors who wrote and later canonized the individual bits does not rest on this question being answered one way or the other.

My personal take would be to extrapolate from other texts that have been transduced for comparable times. In teh German national epos, the Nibelungenlied, several characters can clearly be attributed to historical figures (Attila, king of huns, the Merowingian rulers of Burgundy, Theoderic the Great, king of the Goths). However, this does not mean that the acts they are supposed to have performed are historical truth, for example they lived several centuries apart.

I don´t have proof, but hold it very likely, that the figure of Jesus in the bible was modeled on one or several itinerant preachers that contributed to the formation of several Jewish sects or factions around the time of the Roman occupation. Clearly, the Christian gospels were largely codified at the time of the wars of the 70´s, where the pressure on the Jews reached a new high, and stories providing a meaning to the suffering were highly appreciated.

CB
felt - on 25 Oct 2013
In reply to Tim Chappell:
> (In reply to Minneconjou Sioux) "Why didn't Jesus write a gospel?"
>
> Because he was the Gospel.

Just like Dalí: "I do not take drugs. I am drugs."
Tim Chappell - on 25 Oct 2013
In reply to All:


Someone asked whether this thread has changed anyone's minds. Yes, it's changed mine, in a number of ways.

1. It's made it much clearer to me how much you'd have to go out on a limb to defend mythicism-- what a hopeless hypothesis that is, to anyone with a modicum of historical judgement. This has been the closest consideration I've ever given mythicism. It's been amazing how quickly it falls to bits, as soon as it stops being a vague worry about the standard positive account, and begins to attempt to be a positive account in its own right. At that point, mythicism really does start looking like a Da Vinci Code type crackpot theory.
2. It's reminded me that there is a plausible and interesting scepticism about the New Testament, but it's not mythicism. The serious scepticism is the classic enlightenment approach of Hume, Gibbon, and Voltaire. It says "People experience things, and then people fabulate. How much fabulation is going on in the gospels?" I think that's a serious and interesting question.
3. The thread has also shown me how appeals to "mainstream scholarship" are a worthless smokescreen. To appeal to that authority is just lazy; it's a short cut round actually doing any arguing oneself. And it's saying "Let's just believe whatever's currently in academic fashion". It's much better--who'd have thought it?--to do the work oneself.
(That's not a dig at anyone; I've been appealing to mainstream scholarship too, until I began to ask myself why I was doing it, and what it committed me to.)
4. Above all, I come away from the thread (and yes, I really am coming away from it, for now--I have an ill relative to tend to, and have had throughout these discussions-- my presence in these discussions has depended on the situation with her) I come away with a much stronger sense of how real a possibility it is that the NT documents are actually, not *less close* to the events they relate than is usually thought, but *closer*. I don't know if I'd seriously want to defend the ultra-early Mark idea. But it's certainly a wheeze that deserves a spin.
Tim Chappell - on 25 Oct 2013
In reply to felt:


> (In reply to Minneconjou Sioux) "Why didn't Jesus write a gospel?"
>
> Because he was the Gospel.

Just like Dalí: "I do not take drugs. I am drugs."


Hmm. Well, like and unlike, perhaps.
Coel Hellier - on 25 Oct 2013
In reply to Jimbo W:

> Or another way of saying this might be he has moved from being a scientist to being a
> postmodern rhetorician who couldn't give a rats arse about truth while playing to the crowd.

Don't give up your day job, your psychic powers are not up to much. It's precisely because I am trying to get at the truth that I'm interested in this topic.
Tim Chappell - on 25 Oct 2013
In reply to Coel Hellier:
> (In reply to Jimbo W)
>
> [...]
>
> Don't give up your day job,


Sneering is boring. Argument is interesting.

So let's have argument not sneers.
Jimbo W on 25 Oct 2013
In reply to Coel Hellier:

> Don't give up your day job, your psychic powers are not up to much. It's precisely because I am trying to get at the truth that I'm interested in this topic.

Answer some of my points then.
Jimbo W on 25 Oct 2013
In reply to Tim Chappell:
> (In reply to Coel Hellier)
> [...]
>
>
> Sneering is boring. Argument is interesting.
>
> So let's have argument not sneers.

Apologies to all, I was in a particularly foul mood last night. Sorry.
Coel Hellier - on 25 Oct 2013
In reply to Tim Chappell:

> It's made it much clearer to me how much you'd have to go out on a limb to defend mythicism-- what
> a hopeless hypothesis that is, to anyone with a modicum of historical judgement. This has been
> the closest consideration I've ever given mythicism. It's been amazing how quickly it falls to bits,

What is clear from this thread is how weak the historicist case is, and how much Tim operates on pure apologetics -- judging something as true because he wants it to be true.

Tim started off all confidently claiming that there were "lots" of places where Paul talks of Jesus living as a human among disciples. After all his bluster he's been reduced to two feeble attempts at such:

-- one in which the text is clearly about post-death "appearances", and nothing about living as a human among disciples, and nothing about disciples for that matter.

-- and another in which Paul tells us he got the information "from the Lord" (divine revelation), not from any disciple, and there is again no mention of any disciples, and in which -- in the words Paul puts into Jesus's mouth for theological reasons -- Jesus seems to be addressing all Christians.

So, Tim's overall claim and stance on this whole thread has been roundly refuted. Of course he won't admit it, so he'll continue with apologetic bluster and mere sneers aimed at the mythicists.

The simple fact is that Paul never shows any conception that any of his fellow Christians had met Jesus in his (supposed) human life. He never names anyone as having done so. He never alludes to anyone having done so. He simply shows no awareness of this possibility.

And that is major evidence for mythicism, given that Paul was a central figure of the church at the time, and given that Paul's writings are the only ones we have commonly accepted as dating from the AD30s to 60s period.

> I come away with a much stronger sense of how real a possibility it is that the NT documents are actually,
> not *less close* to the events they relate than is usually thought, but *closer*.

In other words, when under test, Tim retreats into apologetic "certainties". This "ultra-early Mark" idea is the sort of thing that American bible colleges, stuffed with evangelical literalists, argue for.
ads.ukclimbing.com
Coel Hellier - on 25 Oct 2013
In reply to Tim Chappell:

> Sneering is boring. Argument is interesting. So let's have argument not sneers.

OK, but a little earlier you'd said:

"mythicism really does start looking like a Da Vinci Code type crackpot theory."

Isn't that "sneering"?
Coel Hellier - on 25 Oct 2013
In reply to Jimbo W:

> Answer some of my points then.

Which points do you want answering?
Tim Chappell - on 25 Oct 2013
In reply to Tim Chappell:
>
>
> So let's have argument not sneers.


I am not interested in whether ultra-early Mark is or isn't a hypothesis that's popular in American bible colleges. I am interested in whether it's true/ plausible.

In the way of trying out arguments for the case for ultra-early Mark, I've just been right through the Greek text looking at the narrative markers, the introductory phrases that introduce the sections or instalments of Mark's story, to see whether the narrative marking fits with a written-on-the-hoof-in-real-time reading.

Again and again sections of Mark begin with phrases that indicate immediacy. E.g.

kai exelthen ho Iesous...
"And Jesus went out"

or
kai euthus
"And at once"

or
kai erkhonto eis Kaphournaoum
"and they come to Capernaum"

or just
kai
"and [then]".

I can only see one introductory phrase that looks like the author is talking about non-immediate events, en ekeinais tais hemerais, "in those days", at Mk 8.1. And this isn't decisive on its own, especially given all the other immediate narrative markers.

And also, given another thing that is very striking when you look at Mark, which is its frequent use of the vivid present. Erkhontai "they come", legei "he says", paraginetai "he appears", and the rest of it. Translations that smooth this feature of the Greek away are, I suspect, importantly mistranslating.
Tim Chappell - on 25 Oct 2013
In reply to Coel Hellier:

> "mythicism really does start looking like a Da Vinci Code type crackpot theory."
>
> Isn't that "sneering"?



There's a difference between being dismissive about an argument, and being dismissive about an interlocutor. By sneering I meant going for the man, not the ball.

Your argument is that there's a difference in emphasis between Paul and the Gospel writers; therefore, Jesus was made up. That's a rubbish argument. No one denies the premiss. The conclusion simply doesn't follow; there are indefinitely many other possible explanations of the difference in emphasis.

Worse: to keep afloat this rubbish main argument, you have to deploy lots of auxiliary rubbish arguments. Desperate stuff like ignoring "James the brother of the Lord", inventing the claim that when Paul talks about the Last Supper he's talking about a vision, ignoring or twisting Hebrews 5.7's clear reference to Jesus' life in the flesh, ignoring all possible early datings of the gospels, ignoring the familiar principle of historical induction, and the rest of it.


To point out that this is rubbish argument is not sneering; it's rational evaluation of a very, very tenuous case.
moac - on 25 Oct 2013
In reply to Tim Chappell:


"There's a difference between being dismissive about an argument, and being dismissive about an interlocutor. By sneering I meant going for the man, not the ball."

Totally agree with your quote here Tim and admire your restraint in the face of some very patronising insults you've suffered in explaining your position in this debate.
Coel Hellier - on 25 Oct 2013
In reply to Tim Chappell:

> I've just been right through the Greek text looking at the narrative markers, ...

By the "Greek Text" I presume you mean the text of the Codex Vaticanus or the Codex Sinaiticus from about c 350 AD? And you're presuming that the text in AD 350 is faithful to a text that you are hypothesizing to be written in AD 30-ish, over 300 years earlier? (As far as I'm aware we don't have any earlier texts of Mark than AD 300-ish.)

You are also, in analysing the Greek wording, assuming that -- on your hypothesis of it being written AD30-ish -- that it was written in Greek. Is that plausible? Most scholars arguing for early "proto-gospels" suggest that they'd be written in Aramaic, with the Greek versions being later translations.

I personally know little about education in AD 30s Judea and don't know what languages people would have been able to write in, but would have thought that Aramaic and Hebrew would be more likely than Greek.

(By the way, many novelists today write in the present tense, for "immediacy", it can be a stylistic device rather than an indication of a diary format.)
Coel Hellier - on 25 Oct 2013
In reply to Tim Chappell:

> Your argument is that there's a difference in emphasis between Paul and the Gospel writers; therefore,
> Jesus was made up. That's a rubbish argument.

"Difference in emphasis"? That's a fine understatement! Anyhow, kind of you to paraphrase my argument for you, but I prefer my own wording of it.

So, you're claiming that "Mark" was ultra-early and thus present in the Church in Paul's time. And you've claimed that Paul's epistles are about hammering out what, theologically, "Mark" meant.

And yet Paul never ever quotes Mark. He shows no awareness of any of the stories in Mark. How can he "hammer out what, theologically, it meant" by never ever quoting it? Yet he does quote Old Testament Scripture over a hundred times. Every time he makes a theological point he quotes the OT. He never quotes Mark.

Does one hammer out what Shakespeare's plays mean by never ever quoting Shakespeare, but instead quoting Chaucher over a hundred times?
Coel Hellier - on 25 Oct 2013
In reply to Tim Chappell:

> Desperate stuff like ignoring "James the brother of the Lord", ...

Tim, you claim you want to discuss rather than sneer, and yet you continually misrepresent in a manner that gives an appearance of dishonesty (that's worded carefully to avoid an actual accusation). I have not "ignored" that issue, I have given a clear and straightforward response to it.

> ... inventing the claim that when Paul talks about the Last Supper he's talking about a vision, ....

Me "inventing" that claim? Yet Paul says: "I received from the Lord ..." this account, and we all agree that Paul did not meet Jesus in his (supposed) human life, so it could only have been some sort of divine revelation.

Again, I'm not "inventing" anything here, I'm just reporting what Paul himself says. Do you want to discuss this sensibly and straightforwardly or not?
Tim Chappell - on 25 Oct 2013
In reply to Coel Hellier:
> (In reply to Tim Chappell)
>
> [...]
>
> By the "Greek Text" I presume you mean the text of the Codex Vaticanus or the Codex Sinaiticus from about c 350 AD?

Actually, not. The Vaticanus is in the Vatican, the Sinaiticus is in London. And I'm in Dundee. And funnily enough I doubt either the Vatican Library or the British Library would be very keen on giving me a shot at their palaeographic collections :-)

I did say before what text I'm using. It's the BFBS Westcott/Hort text of the Greek NT. A standard edition.

> And you're presuming that the text in AD 350 is faithful to a text that you are hypothesizing to be written in AD 30-ish, over 300 years earlier? (As far as I'm aware we don't have any earlier texts of Mark than AD 300-ish.)

I am indeed. Just like, when I read Aeschylus, I assume that the text I've got is faithful to what Aeschylus wrote, even though the text of Aeschylus is in an absolutely terrible condition compared with the text of the NT. (The oldest more or less complete text we have of Aeschylus' most famous play, the Agamemnon, is *one single manuscript*, the Venetus, from about 1270 AD. (For comparison: the number of NT texts we have from 1270 AD is, well, pretty much innumerable. Thousands. At least thousands.)

Before that in the Aeschylean textual tradition, we have nothing. *Nothing.* ZERO. Except for some fragments from Oxyrhyncus with 20 lines or so on them, and roughly half the text, in one single codex in a rotten state (the Laurentianus), from about 950 AD.

And I've just translated the Agamemnon into English! So I have an obvious reason for wishful thinking about the textual tradition!

... Oh wait, you're not making that response. Why not?


> You are also, in analysing the Greek wording, assuming that -- on your hypothesis of it being written AD30-ish -- that it was written in Greek. Is that plausible? Most scholars arguing for early "proto-gospels" suggest that they'd be written in Aramaic, with the Greek versions being later translations.

Very interesting other debate. And very interesting that you choose to initiate it now. But never mind that; by all means let's have the debate.
Coel Hellier - on 25 Oct 2013
In reply to Tim Chappell:

> I did say before what text I'm using. It's the BFBS Westcott/Hort text of the Greek NT. A standard edition.

Which derives from the Codex Vaticanus or the Codex Sinaiticus, or from something else that itself derives from those Codexes, or from something even later.

So it is fair to point out that you're using an AD350 text to hypothesize about a possible AD30s text which might or might not be in the same language.
Tim Chappell - on 25 Oct 2013
In reply to Coel Hellier:
>
> And yet Paul never ever quotes Mark.


Though maybe he quotes Matthew. You can't prove that he doesn't.

In the writings by Paul that we have, Paul focuses on the question what Jesus' life and death meant by locating it with the framework of OT prophecy. That's a perfectly reasonable thing to do. Doing it doesn't at all show that Paul doesn't believe that Jesus actually existed. Given the nature of Jewish beliefs about prophecy, it in fact shows the opposite: for the Jewish belief is absolutely unequivocally that prophecies can't be fulfilled except by real events in real history.

If you want an argument from silence--"In the writings we have Paul never talks about Jesus' life before his crucifixion; therefore Paul does not believe in any such life"-- then I am going to point out, like I keep doing,

(a) that your premiss is false-- Paul does talk about Jesus' life before his crucifixion,
(b) that your inference simply doesn't follow even if your premiss is true,
and
(c) that if you're entitled to this argument from silence then I am equally entitled to argue that Paul quite possibly did talk about Jesus' pre-crucifixion life at greater length in other documents that we have now lost.
You're the one who wants to emphasise how easily significant parts of the record could have been lost. Suppose I agree with that. Well, then I can use this to point out how feeble your argument from silence is.
Tim Chappell - on 25 Oct 2013
In reply to Coel Hellier:
>
>
> So it is fair to point out that you're using an AD350 text to hypothesize about a possible AD30s text which might or might not be in the same language.


Yes, it is. Though as I say (a) this is a whole other debate from mythicism (which may be something of a relief to our faithful readers) and (b) the state of play with the text of the NT is several orders of magnitude less problematic than the state of play with almost any other ancient text. Even the really famous ones, like Aeschylus' Agamemnon, which I translate here:

http://www.open.ac.uk/Arts/philosophy/docs/aeschylus_agamemnon.pdf

Shameless plugger? Moi?

:-)
Coel Hellier - on 25 Oct 2013
In reply to Tim Chappell:

> Though maybe he quotes Matthew. You can't prove that he doesn't.

Again I note how you are placing the burden of proof.

Second, you have only produced one possible "quote from Matthew", and for that one Paul explicitly says he got it "from the Lord", not from a proto-gospel.

Third, I note your tacit admission that he doesn't quote Mark. Not once. Which is quite remarkable if Paul knew about it but never quoted it, but does quote the OT over a hundred times.

Afterall, this Mark is about *Jesus* *Christ*, the Messiah, God himself! It's not some minor figure who it would be quite understandable for Paul not to bother quoting! Who did Paul regard as more worthy of quoting? JC himself, or the author of Psalms?

> If you want an argument from silence--"In the writings we have Paul never talks about Jesus'
> life before his crucifixion; therefore Paul does not believe in any such life"-- then I am going
> to point out, like I keep doing,

Again, I note that you paraphrase my argument to make it easier for you. In my argument Paul *does* regard there to have been a "human" life of Jesus, he was made a human to then die, conquer death and be resurrected to heaven in the *OT* *scriptures*, in events talked about in the past in the OT scriptures such as Psalms.

What Paul does not show any awareness of is a *recent* life by Jesus among the *disciples*. This distinction really is crucial. Pointing to aspects of Paul that can readily be taken as referring to OT events is not an argument against my case.

> You're the one who wants to emphasise how easily significant parts of the record could have been lost.
> Suppose I agree with that. Well, then I can use this to point out how feeble your argument from silence is.

I'm quite happy if this ends up with "we can't tell either way", it is you who really needs to make the secure case.
Tim Chappell - on 25 Oct 2013
In reply to Coel Hellier:

> In my argument Paul *does* regard there to have been a "human" life of Jesus, he was made a human to then die, conquer death and be resurrected to heaven in the *OT* *scriptures*, in events talked about in the past in the OT scriptures such as Psalms.


Whoa, that's new. So now you say Jesus *did* exist? Except he existed in the OT, not the New?

I am biting my lip here to avoid just being dismissive... but surely, Coel, you can see for yourself what an outlandish claim *that* is. What possible reason could there be to take *this* view?? Which AFAIK is *not* what you were saying before!
Tim Chappell - on 25 Oct 2013
In reply to Coel Hellier:

> I'm quite happy if this ends up with "we can't tell either way", it is you who really needs to make the secure case.


You touch here on a point that I've been wanting to make anyway.

Suppose I succeed in showing beyond all reasonable doubt that there was a historical Jesus just like the gospels say. What then?

It seems to me that a lot of non-Christians think that the answer to this is, or ought to be: "Then Tim can put others in an intellectual arm-lock and force them to become Christians".

That isn't the answer at all. And this connects with a point I made on another thread, about Christianity not being a system of beliefs. Not a system, because you could be completely unsystematic and still be a Christian. And not of beliefs, because although Christianity obviously *presupposes* some beliefs, it's not fundamentally about what you believe at all; it's about how you live.

What the Gospels do is raise the question: "Could this man be the Messiah, the presence of God's love among us in history?" The Christian response to this is not just "Yes, it could". It's "Yes, and so I'm going to follow Him."

Christian faith is an invitation, not a syllogism. It's not something I or anyone else can or should want to intellectual-armlock other people into; not because there are no rational arguments available, but because how we answer the gospels' question above is not basically a matter of what beliefs we give our rational assent to, but of how we live.
Tim Chappell - on 25 Oct 2013
In reply to Tim Chappell:


PS Maybe my remarks in that last post also shed some light on another familiar UKC chestnut: by showing why, and how, Christianity is simply not in the same business as science. Science is about systems of beliefs; and it's not about personal commitment.
cb294 - on 25 Oct 2013
In reply to Tim Chappell:
> (In reply to Coel Hellier)

> What the Gospels do is raise the question: "Could this man be the Messiah, the presence of God's love among us in history?" The Christian response to this is not just "Yes, it could". It's "Yes, and so I'm going to follow Him."

...and is it " Yes, because I have evidence for it" or "Yes, because I say so" or "Yes, because my belief makes it so", and because of this this decision I choose to live my life in a certain way?

CB





teflonpete - on 25 Oct 2013
In reply to Tim Chappell:
> (In reply to All)

> 4. Above all, I come away from the thread (and yes, I really am coming away from it, for now--I have an ill relative to tend to, and have had throughout these discussions-- my presence in these discussions has depended on the situation with her)

How is she doing? Don't let 'someone being wrong' on the internet take you away from providing support to an ill relative.
Tim Chappell - on 25 Oct 2013
In reply to cb294:

It's closest to the first of those. The evidence is necessary, but not sufficient.
Tim Chappell - on 25 Oct 2013
In reply to teflonpete:
> (In reply to Tim Chappell)
> [...]
>
> [...]
>
> How is she doing? Don't let 'someone being wrong' on the internet take you away from providing support to an ill relative.


That's kind. Thank you. She's had a really shit fortnight, but I think she'll be OK soon.
Coel Hellier - on 25 Oct 2013
In reply to Tim Chappell:

> Whoa, that's new. So now you say Jesus *did* exist? Except he existed in the OT, not the New?

Why sure, that's what I've been saying all along. Jesus (as seen from Paul's time) was a deity in the Old Testament, who lived, died and was resurrected in the Old Testament.

> but surely, Coel, you can see for yourself what an outlandish claim *that* is. What possible reason
> could there be to take *this* view??

Because it is what the writings of that time say! The only writings from the Christian sect that seem to be securely pre-AD71 are Paul's letters and Hebrews.

So let's take Hebrews:

5. “You are my Son;today I have become your Father”

-- Here Hebrews is quoting Psalm 2.7

6. And again, when God brings his firstborn into the world, he says, “Let all God’s angels worship him."

-- Here Hebrews quotes Samuel and Chronicles. So, according to Hebrews, "God bringing his firstborn into the world" is an OT event.

Then we gets lots more quotes from Psalms lauding Jesus.

Then in Hebrews 5 we get:

"During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him and was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek."

This is all past tense, and after his life and his death and after he have become "the source of eternal salvation" he returns to heaven and he becomes "high priest in the order of Melchizedek".

Now, that phrase is, as Hebrews explicitly says, is quoted from Psalms: "You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek".

All of this action (Jesus living, dying, rising) is taking place in the Old Testament, it is complete before Psalms was written.

Hebrews -- just like Paul -- quotes the OT Scriptures again and again, every time it talks about Jesus's life, dying and rising. Yet it never once quotes anything from "Mark" or any proto-gospel.

This is just like Paul! Neither Hebrews or Paul show any conception of a Jesus recently living among disciples as a human, or of any stories deriving from that. The only things these authors know about is the OT (and claimed divine revelations).

> Which AFAIK is *not* what you were saying before!

It's what I've been saying all along! The "Mark" allegory was not invented out of nothing, it was invented out of the ideas of a Jesus living, dying and rising in OT times -- just as Hebrews and Paul tell us.

The only difference is that "Mark" then set the allegory in the recent past when he retold it.

People are invited to read Hebrews for themselves. The NIV version here helpfully gives footnotes telling you all the OT quotes.

http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Hebrews%201&version=NIV

Is this all about the OT or is it about the gospels Mark/Matthew/Luke? Which of them is referred to again and again?
Coel Hellier - on 25 Oct 2013
In reply to Tim Chappell:

> Suppose I succeed in showing beyond all reasonable doubt that there was a historical Jesus just like the gospels say. What then?

Then you've shown that there was a historical Jesus.

> It seems to me that a lot of non-Christians think that the answer to this is, or ought to be: "Then Tim
> can put others in an intellectual arm-lock and force them to become Christians".

Not at all!

The interest in this issue is about understanding how religions arise. I'm approaching this essentially as an anthropologist of religion. Religion is influential in the world, surely we should try to understand it?
Coel Hellier - on 25 Oct 2013
In reply to Tim Chappell:

> So now you say Jesus *did* exist? Except he existed in the OT, not the New?

To clarify, in answering "yes" to that I'm saying he "existed in the OT" in the same sense that Adam and Eve and Noah and Abraham and Job and Moses and many others "existed in the OT". I'm not suggesting that there was an actual historical figure in OT times, I am saying that he was a mythological character in OT Scripture.
Tim Chappell - on 25 Oct 2013
In reply to Coel:

> Jesus (as seen from Paul's time) was a deity in the Old Testament, who lived, died and was resurrected in the Old Testament.


This is quite impossible. There is no question of any deities in OT theology except Yahweh. The very phrase "a deity" would strike OT writers as blasphemous.


>> "During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him and was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek."
>
> This is all past tense, and after his life and his death and after he have become "the source of eternal salvation" he returns to heaven and he becomes "high priest in the order of Melchizedek".

So when did your OT Jesus live? And what evidence is there of his existence? I hazard a guess that there's none at all. So it is wanton to take this passage to refer to some OT character, and not to refer to Jesus of Nazareth. Saying that Jesus of Nazareth is "a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek" is perfectly possible. It's saying that Jesus fulfils the stuff about Melchizedek in Genesis. This doesn't even begin to look lie evidence for your theory!

>
> All of this action (Jesus living, dying, rising) is taking place in the Old Testament, it is complete before Psalms was written.

(a) No reason to think that; (b) so when did Jesus live, if he lived in the OT?

>
> Hebrews -- just like Paul -- quotes the OT Scriptures again and again, every time it talks about Jesus's life, dying and rising. Yet it never once quotes anything from "Mark" or any proto-gospel.

Like I keep saying, there are plenty of ways of explaining that besides the utterly gratuitous hypothesis that Hebrews isn't talking about Jesus of Nazareth.

>
> This is just like Paul! Neither Hebrews or Paul show any conception of a Jesus recently living among disciples as a human,

This is just wrong. I'm going to keep pointing to 1 Cor 11.

> The "Mark" allegory

Mark isn't an allegory. And you haven't said anything at all plausible about what it could possibly be an allegory of, if it was. Mark is more like a diary, as I've argued.

>
> People are invited to read Hebrews for themselves.

By all means!
Tim Chappell - on 25 Oct 2013
In reply to Coel Hellier:
> I'm not suggesting that there was an actual historical figure in OT times, I am saying that he was a mythological character in OT Scripture.


This suggestion is quite hopeless. Whatever else OT scripture is, it isn't mythological. Once more, for the record: for the Jews, fulfilment of scripture means that something real has to happen. Something like someone who claims to be Messiah getting crucified and rising again. Not mythologically but really, in a particular place (a not very green hill outside Jerusalem), at a particular time (March 23 27 AD), to a particular person (Jesus of Nazareth).
Tim Chappell - on 25 Oct 2013
in reply to Coel:

Let's think, too, about the pragmatics involved in our two explanations of the evidence.

On the standard explanation, which I mostly accept, Paul writes to e.g. the Corinthians, and [whoever; maybe Paul] writes to the Hebrews, in about 50/55 AD. And the message is: "Remember Jesus of Nazareth? The preacher and miracle-worker who got in trouble and was lynched? He's the Messiah. Here's why. Here's how that same Jesus fulfils the Hebrew Scriptures."

Whereas on the mythicist non-explanation, what happens is this: Paul writes to e.g. the Corinthians, and [whoever; maybe Paul] writes to the Hebrews, in about 50/55 AD. And the message is: "Here's a pretty neat mythology that we can make up! Er, none of it is actually real or anything, but never mind about that. And, er, being Jews, you aren't going to think much of it when I talk about fulfilled prophecies and instantly add, well, um, not actually *fulfilled* as such. But never mind! Why don't you just buy into my stuff without any further evidence or historical reference?"

The former seems psychologically quite probable. The latter, to put it mildly, a tad unlikely.
Tim Chappell - on 25 Oct 2013
In reply to Coel Hellier:
> (
> I'm saying he "existed in the OT" in the same sense that Adam and Eve and Noah and Abraham and Job and Moses and many others "existed in the OT". I'm not suggesting that there was an actual historical figure in OT times, I am saying that he was a mythological character in OT Scripture.


But for mythicism, you have to say more than this. You have to say not only that Adam and Abraham were mythological characters, but also *that Paul believed* that Adam and Abraham were mythological characters. And like everyone else at the time, he quite plainly didn't. Read Romans 1-6.

The Jews of Jesus' day were literalists about the OT, in the sense that they believed the OT was all historical. Therefore they *precisely did not* believe that Adam, Eve, Abraham, Noah etc were mythological. Nor come to that did Jesus believe that these characters were mythological!
Coel Hellier - on 25 Oct 2013
In reply to Tim Chappell:

> Whatever else OT scripture is, it isn't mythological.

Not even Adam and Eve? Not even the story of Noah? Of Job? Really?

> Once more, for the record: for the Jews, fulfilment of scripture means that something real has to happen.

And once more, for the record, Hebrews and Paul are *not* talking about "fulfilment of scripture", they are talking about what Scripture says has already happened. Why do insist on repeated repetition of this stuff?


Coel Hellier - on 25 Oct 2013
In reply to Tim Chappell:

> You have to say not only that Adam and Abraham were mythological characters, but also
> *that Paul believed* that Adam and Abraham were mythological characters.

No! Paul *believed *it*. Jesus and Adam and Abraham were mythological characters in the OT that Paul believed were real!

You still haven't got straight the mythicist case, which is that:

In Paul's time they considered that Jesus was a real figure who had been immortal in heaven, had then been made human, in order to die, and then be raised back to heaven to conquer death. This was all considered to have happened in the OT as stated in the OT.

This Jesus in the OT was mythical but Paul etal considered that he was *real* (as with many other characters in the OT).

Then, Mark, also thinking that the OT-Jesus was real, made up a storified allegory about the OT Jesus but set it in the recent past.

Coel Hellier - on 25 Oct 2013
In reply to Tim Chappell:

> but really, ... at a particular time (March 23 27 AD),

I'm still intrigued by your confidence in the dating, but that's a bit of a diversion.
ads.ukclimbing.com
Tim Chappell - on 25 Oct 2013
In reply to Coel Hellier:
> Why do insist on repeated repetition of this stuff?


Why do you, indeed? There are no new points in your last three posts. I'm sorry, but I'm not repeating myself again. I've already shown what's wrong with all these claims.

With impressive tenacity you are defending a completely implausible conspiracy theory. I keep pointing out just how hopelessly implausible it is. If you can't or won't see the point, then no offence, but I don't see much profit in carrying this on any longer.

Coel Hellier - on 25 Oct 2013
In reply to Tim Chappell:

> Whereas on the mythicist non-explanation, ... Paul writes to e.g. the Corinthians, ...
> ... "Here's a pretty neat mythology that we can make up!

Tim, Tim, Tim, if you're going to argue against mythicism, actually argue against mythicism, not a "paraphrase" of it that you have constructed to make your job easier.

Mythicism says that Paul and the church at the time believed in and considered the Old Testament dying-and-rising Jesus to be the *real* son of God who had *actually* *done* those things in OT times *as* *told* in the OT!

Coel Hellier - on 25 Oct 2013
In reply to Tim Chappell:

> I've already shown what's wrong with all these claims.

And I have repeatedly shown why your supposed rebuttals are feeble. And you have also shown that you don't even understand what the mythicist case even is, despite me stating it about twenty times in the previous thread!

Tim Chappell - on 25 Oct 2013
In reply to Coel Hellier:
>
> Mythicism says that Paul and the church at the time believed in and considered the Old Testament dying-and-rising Jesus to be the *real* son of God who had *actually* *done* those things in OT times *as* *told* in the OT!



This is a wild and hopelessly implausible hypothesis, compared with the obvious and natural interpretation of the New Testament: that they were talking about Jesus of Nazareth.

You're not making any new points. We're going round in circles. It's getting boring.
Minneconjou Sioux - on 25 Oct 2013
In reply to Tim Chappell:
> (In reply to Coel Hellier)
> [...]
>
>
> Nor come to that did Jesus believe that these characters were mythological!

Says who? Because clearly Jesus doesnt say this, someone else says it for him.
Coel Hellier - on 25 Oct 2013
In reply to Tim Chappell:

> This is a wild and hopelessly implausible hypothesis

Simply calling it a "wild and hopelessly implausible hypothesis" does not make it so.

> compared with the obvious and natural interpretation of the New Testament: that they were talking about Jesus of Nazareth.

So, if the pre-AD71 writings (Hebrews and Paul) quote OT Scripture oodles and oodles of times, every time they talk about Jesus, every time they talk about theology -- and yet never once quote Mark/Matthew/Luke, then it is of course an "obvious and natural interpretation" to suppose that they are actually talking about the Jesus of the later works Mark/Matthew/Luke, and not the OT-Jesus that they keep citing?

No, sorry, Tim, that is not obvious and not natural.

> You're not making any new points. We're going round in circles.

That's because you keep making bizarre assertions and ignoring counters. I keep asking you, do you "hammer out, what, theologically, the proto-gospels meant" by never ever talking about or quoting the proto-gospels, but only ever quoting the OT?

Tim Chappell - on 25 Oct 2013
In reply to Coel Hellier:

> Simply calling it a "wild and hopelessly implausible hypothesis" does not make it so.

Indeed. Which is why I've argued the point, at inordinate length.


> So, if the pre-AD71 writings (Hebrews and Paul) quote OT Scripture oodles and oodles of times, every time they talk about Jesus, every time they talk about theology -- and yet never once quote Mark/Matthew/Luke, then it is of course an "obvious and natural interpretation" to suppose that they are actually talking about the Jesus of the later works Mark/Matthew/Luke, and not the OT-Jesus that they keep citing?


There *is no* OT Jesus, except in the mythological fantasy that you're so keen on. It's not a matter of choosing, as the referent of Paul's discussion, between Jesus of Nazareth and some other possible Jesus. There *is no* other possible Jesus he could be talking about.
Tim Chappell - on 25 Oct 2013
In reply to Coel Hellier:


> do you "hammer out, what, theologically, the proto-gospels meant" by never ever talking about or quoting the proto-gospels, but only ever quoting the OT?


If you're a pharisee, steeped in the Old Testament's teaching, then yes, you do. Or at any rate, you hammer out "what Jesus of Nazareth meant" mainly by reference to the OT, and only with occasional references to the details of Jesus of Nazareth's biography. You *presuppose* a knowledge of Jesus of Nazareth, the historical person, in your audience. And you build on that presupposition. You might be particularly keen not to go on about the biography, if there were others in a much better position to do it than yourself; quite possibly Paul feels at a disadvantage here relative to Peter, Jesus' leading disciple, to James, brother of the Lord, and to John, "the disciple whom Jesus loved".

You're *still* arguing "Paul doesn't talk about the gospels much, therefore Jesus was made up".

And it's *still* a terrible argument.
Coel Hellier - on 25 Oct 2013
In reply to Tim Chappell:

Anyway, Re your ultra-early Mark hypothesis. The usual date is post-AD71. This is based on Jesus's "prophecy" of the destruction of the Temple and the War that led to it:

Mark 13:

"As Jesus was leaving the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher! What massive stones! What magnificent buildings!”
“Do you see all these great buildings?” replied Jesus. “Not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.”

"[...] Peter, James, John and Andrew asked him privately, “Tell us, when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that they are all about to be fulfilled?”

"[Jesus:] " ... When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. ..." [and lots of other bad stuff]"

This theme of the destruction of the Temple recurs at the end, with people taunting Jesus about the above prediction, and the Temple symbolically being destroyed with Jesus's death:

Mark 15:

"They crucified two rebels with him, one on his right and one on his left. Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, “So! You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, come down from the cross and save yourself!” [...]

"With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last. The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom."

Note how the theme of the destruction and rebuilding of the Temple is metaphorically linked with the death and resurrection ("... and build it in three days") of Jesus.

[This makes sense in terms of "Mark" being an extended theological allegory.]

Given that Mark makes such an issue of the destruction of the Temple (the central place of the Jewish religion, such that the only remains, the "Western Wall" of the Temple, is still the holiest place in Judaism), there are two possibilities.

1) The writer "Mark" was writing after the destruction of the Temple and worked it into his story, having Jesus prophesy it, and mixing this Temple destruction with his theology of Jesus.

2) Jesus was divine and actually did prophesy it, and people knew about this prophecy sufficiently to taunt him about it. And the symbolic destruction of the Temple at Jesus's death is Mark's premonition of it actually happening 40-odd years later.

Most scholars go for (1) and thus date "Mark" after AD71 (it's hard to go for 2 unless you really think Jesus was divine and could prophesy things, and that so could Mark). For widely accepted reasons that also puts "Matthew", "Luke", "Acts" and "John" after AD71.
Coel Hellier - on 25 Oct 2013
In reply to Tim Chappell:

> There *is no* OT Jesus, ...

Go and argue with the author of Hebrews. Go and argue with people like Philo of Alexandria who thought that there was one, and was writing a couple of decades earlier. They clearly thought there was an OT Jesus.
Coel Hellier - on 25 Oct 2013
In reply to Tim Chappell:

> You *presuppose* a knowledge of Jesus of Nazareth, the historical person, in your audience.

So with the OT being what all of them were schooled in at Synagogue, and the "proto-gospels" being the new thing that people would not have been taught at school, which of them would one presuppose?

Anyhow, in Romans Paul writes:

“Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in?
And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard?
And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?
And how can anyone preach unless they are sent?"

This is an instruction to people to go out and preach about Jesus. Does it sound to you as though he is presupposing that they already know about Jesus?
Tim Chappell - on 25 Oct 2013
In reply to Coel Hellier:

No, the author of Hebrews begins the whole book by saying that he's talking about a recent Jesus: "God who in diverse times and places spoke to our fathers by the prophets has in these last days spoken to us in a son."

There is simply no way of making sense of this, or indeed the rest of Hebrews, or indeed the rest of the New Testament, on your wild hypothesis.

I've said this and said this and said this and still you don't get it. Enough!
Tim Chappell - on 25 Oct 2013
In reply to Coel Hellier:


You're *still* arguing "Paul doesn't talk about the gospels much, therefore Jesus was made up".

And it's *still* a terrible argument.
Tim Chappell - on 25 Oct 2013
In reply to Coel Hellier:


I haven't read Philo. But this is not what the author of Hebrews thinks. And you could not possibly think that he did if you had anything like a proper understanding of what the Jews mean by prophecy and the fulfilment of prophecy.

You keep repeating yourself, over and over again, and you keep ignoring all the most serious objections to what you're saying, or claiming, falsely, to have already dealt with them. (Example: "James the brother of the Lord.") This carry-on doesn't make your case any less implausible, but it does make engaging with you a whole lot less interesting and worthwhile, I'm afraid.

Enough. I have Stuff to do.
Coel Hellier - on 25 Oct 2013
In reply to Tim Chappell:

> There is simply no way of making sense of this, ...

Yes there is. The mythicist case all along is that the church at that time thought that they were receiving divine revelations or appearances (or whatever you want to call them) of a divine Jesus.

This is clear from 1 Cor 15: "... and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me [Paul] ...".

On the presumption that Hebrews was written around this time, it could well be that the Hebrews: "God ... has in these last days spoken to us in a son" is a reference to such appearances.

As I've said all along the mythicist case is that the church in Paul's time built their theology, their "gospel", out of the OT and divine visions, not out of a Jesus who had recently lived as a human among disciples.

Hebrews does not show any conception of a Jesus who had recently lived as a human among disciples. The one phrase: "... has in these last days spoken to us in a son" is all there is. All the rest of Hebrews is about the Old Testament.

Notice that that very sentence continues: "... by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe ..."

So this is a long pre-existing Son, who existed before the universe. And it then goes on to talk about this Son doing a lot of things in terms of Old Testament quotes. In the entire rest of Hebrews there is no mention of anything like Mark/Matthew/Luke. You are picking out odd phrases while ignoring the overall picture.
Coel Hellier - on 25 Oct 2013
In reply to Tim Chappell:

> You keep repeating yourself, over and over again, and you keep ignoring all the most serious objections
> to what you're saying, or claiming, falsely, to have already dealt with them.

Tim, you keep repeating yourself, over and over again, and you keep ignoring all the most serious objections to what you're saying, or claiming, falsely, to have already dealt with them.
Tim Chappell - on 28 Oct 2013
In reply to Coel Hellier:



There are plenty of decisive objections to your thesis. Just very quickly, here are two of the most obvious. One has already come up, but (to my mind) hasn't been properly dealt with. The other is a new point in this discussion.

One is Paul's reference in Romans to "James the brother of the Lord": a unique form of reference, quite different from talking about "brothers". As anyone can see by (for a start) looking at Wiki, there are various theories around in the ancient world about what Paul means by "brother" here; maybe, some say, he means "half-brother", or maybe he means "cousin". *No one* in the ancient commentary on this remarkable phrase suggests that it's an ordinary way of addressing just any member of the church. Because it quite obviously just isn't. It means what it says, that the James whom Paul visited in Jerusalem was taken by him to be a physical same-generation relative of Jesus. And this point alone is sufficient to destroy mythicism.

As for Hebrews, it certainly talks about a Jesus who pre-existed his earthly life. But that's part of the author's claim that Jesus is in fact an aspect or person of the one God. It doesn't at all suggest that the author is talking about an Old Testament Jesus. What it suggests is that the author is concerned to prove Jesus of Nazareth to be the Messiah. This proof he presents to Jewish believers, Hebrews. So he presents it using Old Testament evidence.

Moreover, the author of Hebrews is clear, and so is Paul, that Jesus was *crucified*. But crucifixion is a Roman form of execution, not a Jewish one. This is strong evidence that Hebrews is not talking about a Jesus who is a figure of Jewish esoteric mythology, but a recent figure who lived in first century Palestine, under the Roman rule that administered crucifixions.

So mythicism is exploded. Multiply exploded, as I've shown at length, but if by nothing else, still indisputably exploded by these two forms of evidence alone.
Coel Hellier - on 28 Oct 2013
In reply to Tim Chappell:

Oh look, this thread gets resurrected from the dead after three days! How fitting. ;-)

> One is Paul's reference in Romans to "James the brother of the Lord":

Some mythicists, such as Robert Price, do indeed regard this point as the strongest single point against mythicism. It is indeed a point in favour of the historicists. The question is how strong a point.

> it's an ordinary way of addressing just any member of the church. Because it quite obviously just isn't.

I agree, it isn't just the normal "brothers and sisters" (meaning fellow Christians) that Paul uses twice in the letter before that. It could, though be a formal and respectful way of addressing an elder, or it could denote a particular rank in the church (cf "Holy Father"), or it could be used for a particular group of people (cf. "Christian Brothers" for a particular religious order). The usage "Brother of the Lord" rather than "Brother of Jesus" perhaps indicates the religious aspect more than the familial one. Origen claimed that it did not denote a familial relationship, and that had to at least make sense to his Christian readers.

> And this point alone is sufficient to destroy mythicism.

I'd go for a point in favour of historicism, but not conclusive.

> Hebrews ... it suggests is that the author is concerned to prove Jesus of Nazareth to be the Messiah.

The author of Hebrews never uses the phrase "... of Nazareth". In order to do as you say, to try to convince people that the recently lived "Jesus of Nazareth" was the Messiah talked about in the OT, you would compare the two, mentioning the similarities. You'd quote a lot of "proto-gospels" and compare to the OT. The author of Hebrews doesn't do this, and talks only about the OT, and doesn't mention any "Jesus of Nazareth", nor give any stories from his life or names of anyone who had met him or any quotes of what he had said.

> Moreover, the author of Hebrews is clear, and so is Paul, that Jesus was *crucified*.

I agree, yes. Thus, on the mythicist case, the Church then, living in a Roman world, would have had to absorb and use crucifixion as a motif and method for an execution death.

> So mythicism is exploded. Multiply exploded, ...

You do indeed put, here, some of the main bits of evidence for historicism (the "brother of the Lord" point and the use of "crucifixion" especially). Whether these are sufficient to "explode" mythicism people can judge for themselves. To my mind they are weighing against a lot of pieces of evidence that are better explained by mythicism, and thus that the matter is not decided conclusively either way.
Philip on 28 Oct 2013
In reply to Coel Hellier:

Isn't it rather a mute point. There is no "new" information, and there is unlikely to ever be. Most scholars (according to wikipedia) accept Jesus as a historical figure.

In arguing over the wording, what source are you using? It can be difficult enough to understand written context in English, let alone something translated to 2000 year old Greek.
Coel Hellier - on 28 Oct 2013
In reply to Philip:

> Isn't it rather a mute point. There is no "new" information, and there is unlikely to ever be.

I agree that one might never be able to say securely whether Jesus was a real person or not, barring the discovery of significant new contemporaneous documents (which is possible, cf Dead Sea Scrolls, but unlikely).

> Most scholars (according to wikipedia) accept Jesus as a historical figure.

True, but by far the majority of scholars on this issue are Christians (who have the most motive to be interested), and they would accept that, wouldn't they?

> In arguing over the wording, what source are you using?

Mostly the "New Testament" derives from the Codex Vaticanus from c 330 AD. There were clearly versions of the writings before then, and we have some fragmentary manuscripts, but have (I think) no complete texts from before c 330 AD.
Philip on 28 Oct 2013
In reply to Coel Hellier:

> Mostly the "New Testament" derives from the Codex Vaticanus from c 330 AD. There were clearly versions of the writings before then, and we have some fragmentary manuscripts, but have (I think) no complete texts from before c 330 AD.

So when wikipedia gives dates for the writing of various books they are calculated not true dates from existing script.

What about the language they were written in? Are their any in the original language, possibly only copied not transalted, or are they all translated. Are there any documents with multiple translations form the same original - possibly a clue to the linguistics.

Isn't 330AD after they all got together and agreed on the story?
Coel Hellier - on 28 Oct 2013
In reply to Philip:

> So when wikipedia gives dates for the writing of various books they are calculated not true dates
> from existing script.

Yes. If you look at this page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dating_the_Bible#The_New_Testament it tells you the estimated age when the work was first written -- and these can be very much insecure estimates -- and the date of the earliest known fragment or manuscript of the work, usually a lot later.

> What about the language they were written in? Are their any in the original language, possibly
> only copied not transalted, or are they all translated. Are there any documents with multiple
> translations form the same original - possibly a clue to the linguistics.

This is a big question. For the New Testament lots of the works were reckoned to be first written in Greek, and the first complete versions of them (e.g. the Codex Vaticanus) are in Greek. Scholars argue about whether some of the works were originally written in Aramaic, and later translated to Greek.

> Isn't 330AD after they all got together and agreed on the story?

You're likely thinking of the Nicea Council in about AD 325 at which they voted on which writings they considered to be deserving of being in the New Testament. There were lots of writings that were rejected, some of which we have to day, but many of which we don't.
Coel Hellier - on 28 Oct 2013
In reply to Coel Hellier:

Thought I'd add something new to the resurrected thread -- yes, this is a topic not already mentioned, it is about "1 Clement".

First, a reminder that the mythicist case is that the early church believed in a Jesus Christ who had lived, died and been resurrected in the Old Testament, and was known about only from the OT and divine revelations (Road to Damascus), not from any recent earthy life among disciples. The latter idea came from the later gospels "Mark/Matthew/Luke" which started as storified allegories about the OT Jesus.

So who wrote "1 Clement"? Well, Clement of Rome was the first Pope, being Pope for the period AD 92 to 99. And he wrote the letter "1 Clement" to the Corinthian church.

This letter is not in the New Testament, so is not that well known, but it is important because we know who wrote it and when (at least, this is widely accepted). And that is unusual for the New Testament writings. Of the 27 books of the NT, only for 7 of Paul's letters is it generally agreed that we know who wrote them and when. (11 of the 27 are widely thought by mainstream scholars to be "forged", not written by who them claim to be written by; the remaining 10 are anonymous.)

So, 1 Clement, with a known author and date is significant. One can read it at: http://st-takla.org/books/en/ecf/001/0010005.html

The question is whether Clement, first Pope in the AD90s, regarded Jesus as an OT figure, or whether he regarded Jesus as a recently living person described in Mark/Matthew/Luke.

As is seen with Paul and Hebrews, he quotes the OT a lot.

Chapter 3 he quotes Deuteronomy, Chapter 4 is all about Genesis and Moses.

In Chapter 5 he talks about "more recent heros" and their martyrdom, by which he means Paul and Peter. (Hmm, which "recent hero" was supposed to have lived just before the martyrdom of Peter and Paul, but is not mentioned?)

Chapter 7 he talks about Jesus, but along with Noah and Jonah, again OT figures.

Chapter 8 is full of quotes from Ezekiel, Isaiah -- again, OT.

Chapter 9 he talks about Noah and Enoch -- OT again.

Chapter 10 is all about Abraham -- OT again.

Chapter 11 is all about Lot -- OT again.

Chapter 12 is about Rahab the harlot, Joshua and Jericho etc. -- OT again.

Chapter 13 is where we get to Jesus. Clement says that "the Lord Jesus" said: "Be merciful, that you may obtain mercy; forgive, that it may be forgiven to you; as you do, so shall it be done to you; as you judge, so shall you be judged; as you are kind, so shall kindness be shown to you; with what measure you measure, with the same it shall be measured to you."

This is obviously close to some of the gospels, particularly the Sermon on the Mount, but is sufficiently different that it is not a direct quote. And he ends that section by quoting Isaiah.

Chapter 14 we're back to quoting the OT, this time Proverbs and Psalms.

Chapter 15 has a quote from Isaiah that is *also* quoted by Matthew and Mark.

Chapter 16 has a long story about Jesus and his suffering. " Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Sceptre of the majesty of God, did not come in the pomp of pride or arrogance, although He might have done so, but in a lowly condition ... and the Lord has delivered Him up for our sins while He in the midst of His sufferings openeth not His mouth ... and He bare the sins of many, and for their sins was He delivered".

Now all of this is a quote from the OT Isaiah. All the stories about Jesus, are -- continuing a theme from Paul and Hebrews -- from the OT.

Ch 17: Job, Moses.

Ch 18: OT David

Ch 19: OT Job

Ch 20: Hebrews

Ch 21: OT Job

Ch 22: Talks about Jesus, quotes Proverbs, Hebrews and a couple of Paul's letters.

Ch 23: Talks about Jesus, quotes Psalms

Ch 24: Talks about Jesus, quotes Habakkuk (OT), Hebrews and Malachi (OT).

Ch 26: Talks about the phoenix as a symbol of resurrection.

Ch 27: Psalms, Job.

At this point I got a bit bored, but the rest is much the same, up to Chapter 53, oodles of quotes of OT and a few of Paul's letters.

Ch 46 does have some sayings that ended up in the gospels: "Yea, it were better for him that a millstone should be hung about [his neck], and he should be sunk in the depths of the sea, than that he should cast a stumbling-block before one of my little ones"

Right, so where are we: A heck of a lot of OT Scripture, clear knowledge of Paul and his letters. A few *sayings* attributed to Jesus, similar to (but worded a bit differently) to some sayings in Mark, Matthew and Luke.

However, there are no stories of Jesus's life or mention of anything he did or anyone he met. Nothing that gives a time or a place to this Jesus. There is no "... of Nazereth", nothing about his birth or parents or childhood or miracles or disciples.

So did Clement know about Mark, Matthew and Luke, or did he just know some sayings/teachings that were then attributed to the divine Jesus, or the sort that later appeared in the synoptic gospels? If that is so, might those gospels not have been written yet, and were later constructed out of the OT and Paul's letters and the "sayings" then attributed to the divine Jesus?

Not talking about Jesus's life and disciples and doings might be understandable if the focus was on other things, but here Clement has written 53 chapters stuffed with discussion and quotes of the Old Testament. The lack of interest in the supposed recent earthly life of Jesus among the disciples is very striking -- as it is in Paul and Hebrews.

So maybe the storified allegory created by "Mark" was after Clement was Pope, and thus after AD 100?





cb294 - on 28 Oct 2013
In reply to Coel Hellier:

I guess you must have been asked this before, but where does your interest in and knowledge about the origins in the Christian faith come from?

I certainly don't have the time and energy to have more than a interested layman's level of knowledge in areas beyond my professional fields of cell biology/biophysics and developmental biology. Outside that my level of competence rapidly tails off, although am am widely interested and read in topics ranging from ornithology and ecology to maths and physics, sports and politics.

Cheers,

Christian
Tim Chappell - on 28 Oct 2013
In reply to Coel Hellier:

> It could, though be a formal and respectful way of addressing an elder,

No it couldn't

>or it could denote a particular rank in the church (cf "Holy Father"),

No it couldn't

>or it could be used for a particular group of people (cf. "Christian Brothers" for a particular religious order).

No it couldn't

It's not a 50: 50 judgement call, Coel, it's a knock-down against mythicism. Because it's obvious that it means a literal family relationship. You can speculate about what it "could" mean, but it would be a hapax legomenon (google it), and why would you bother to speculate and ignore the obvious literal meaning unless either (a) you were desperate to maintain the perpetual virginity of Mary or (b) you were desperate to maintain some other strange thesis, e.g. mythicism?

Arguing against a resourceful and determined presentation of mythicism is useful and interesting, but not because mythicism is true or plausible; rather because it forces you to develop your awareness of what's actually there in the texts, and what you can do with them and not. It's the New Testament studies equivalent, I suppose, of arguing against mad sceptical hypotheses in epistemology.

One thing that came across to me very clearly when I read right through Hebrews this morning was that he really is talking about how this Jesus right here, the one from Nazareth (whether or not he *says* Nazareth), is the one who the author of Hebrews thinks does the fulfilling of all the OT prophecies.

Another thing that stuck out to me was Hebrews 6.1-3: "Let us then stop discussing over again the rudiments of Christianity. We ought not to be laying over again the foundations of faith in God..." (NEB). That's explicitly saying that what Hebrews is about is something *different* from the basics of the Gospel. Which really suits my sane and sensible reading of the NT, Coel; and really doesn't suit your swivel-eyed, loonish reading.

Mythicism is a radish hypothesis. (How much harder would it be for a determined and resourceful arguer to present a defence of the radish hypothesis? Not much.)
Coel Hellier - on 28 Oct 2013
In reply to Tim Chappell:

> No it couldn't No it couldn't No it couldn't

Well that's convincing Tim!

> Because it's obvious that it means a literal family relationship.

Is it?

> You can speculate about what it "could" mean, but it would be a hapax legomenon (google it)

Well it is a hapax legomenon whatever the *intepretation* of it. But even if it is a hapax legomenon, so what? The counts for such things in Paul's letters are: 113 in Romans, 110 in 1 Cor and 99 in 2 Cor, etc. So given that there are hundreds of hapax legomenons in those letters what is the problem with it being one?

> ... Hebrews this morning was that he really is talking about how this Jesus right here, the one
> from Nazareth (whether or not he *says* Nazareth), is the one who the author of Hebrews thinks does the ...

While you might read into it "this Jesus right here, the one from Nazareth", despite it not being in the text, it ... err ... isn't in the text. I'm well aware that Christians can read all sorts of things into these writings.

> ... it's a knock-down against mythicism ... desperate to maintain some other strange thesis, ...
> mad sceptical hypotheses ... your swivel-eyed, loonish reading. ... Mythicism is a radish hypothesis.

Anyone suspect that Tim is rattled?
Tim Chappell - on 28 Oct 2013
In reply to Coel Hellier:

Rattled? It's a pity you can't see me. Me and my beer are virtually horizontal.

Nope (as you would say), you're the one with reason to be rattled.

Though it is also true that, if this is the level of debate we're reduced to, we might as well drink our beer and shut up :-)
Coel Hellier - on 28 Oct 2013
In reply to cb294:

> ... but where does your interest in and knowledge about the origins in the Christian faith come from?

I didn't used to have much interest in this. But I've been reading atheist-related websites for 25 years or so, and occasionally this topic would come up. At first I'd think: "Why on earth would anyone argue against Jesus's mere existence, surely the evidence is ample to establish that, the dispute is only about whether he was divine?"

But then out of curiosity I read some stuff by those arguing for mythicism and started realising: "Hmm, you know, those guys are making a fair old case, and the rebuttals against them are only sneering dismissals rather than good arguments".

So, a few years ago, I made a point about reading more about this, and came to the idea that the mythicist case really is as good as the historicist case. There seems to be a whole slew of entirely proper questions about this that the "mainstream" has been overlooking because they are dominated by Christians, Christians motivated to "get at the real Jesus behind the NT writings", but not motivated to ask whether there was a Jesus at all. It really is the elephant in the room of New Testament studies, and the tide is now beginning to turn, enough people are taking it seriously that before long the "mainstream" are going to have to take it seriously.

Anyhow, it's not that hard to learn enough about this stuff to argue the case. In contrast to the oodles and oodles of factual information about developmental biology, the actual number of relevant texts dating to before AD 125 is not that large, you can familiarise yourself with all of them in a few days.

So, curiosity has got the better of me on this issue!
Tim Chappell - on 28 Oct 2013
In reply to Coel Hellier:

> So, crude ultra-loopy-atheist-zealot propaganda has got the better of me on this issue!


Fixed that for you :-)
Coel Hellier - on 28 Oct 2013
In reply to Tim Chappell:

> Another thing that stuck out to me was Hebrews 6.1-3: [...] That's explicitly saying that what
> Hebrews is about is something *different* from the basics of the Gospel.

Let's quote a bit more:

"We have much to say about this, but it is hard to make it clear to you because you no longer try to understand. In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil. Therefore let us move beyond the elementary teachings about Christ and be taken forward to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, instruction about cleansing rites, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. And God permitting, we will do so."

Hmm, seems pretty mundane stuff to me. Standard revivalist-meeting fare, chivvying up the faith of the believers. Doesn't seem to indicate that something real big has happened real recently.
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Tim Chappell - on 28 Oct 2013
In reply to Coel Hellier:

What I said it indicated was that the author of Hebrews is emphasising that he's not just repeating what has been said elsewhere. And that's what he is doing.

If you want a fanfare about how something big has happened very recently, look at the beginning of Hebrews: "God... has in these last days spoken to us in a son."

Oh sorry, you think that's just an isolated incident? Come off it.
Coel Hellier - on 28 Oct 2013
In reply to Tim Chappell:

> Because it's obvious that it means a literal family relationship.

The phrasing here is: "James, Brother of the Lord"

In another of Paul's letters, Philippians, we have (Young's literal translation):

"and the greater part of the brethren in the Lord, having confidence by my bonds, are more abundantly bold -- fearlessly to speak the word."

Now that "brethren in the Lord" is taken by everyone to mean "fellow Christians". Now, yes, it is "... *in* the Lord", not "... *of* the Lord", but it is still pretty close.

And in 1 Cor 9 we have (again, Young's literal translation):

"... have we not authority a sister -- a wife -- to lead about, as also the other apostles, and the brethren of the Lord, and Cephas?"

There we have "the brethren *of* the Lord". Well, it seems to me that he is talking about a particular group of Christians, a rank or class of monks or similar. How do you interpret that one?

Then we have the two openings to the epistles of James and Jude. Now, one issue is that these are likely not *by* those people, but written as though by them. But it is generally taken that the James is the James "brother of the Lord".

The openings are: "James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ ..." and "Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ, and a brother of James ...".

Now, if Jude thinks that being brother to James is worth mentioning, and if he is and James are then both brothers to Jesus, then how come neither thinks this worth mentioning? (Or, how come the people writing on their behalf didn't claim this extra authority?)

Anyhow, I think that your "brother of the Lord" is a lot less of a knock-down than you suppose.
Tim Chappell - on 28 Oct 2013
In reply to Coel Hellier:


> Now that "brethren in the Lord" is taken by everyone to mean "fellow Christians". Now, yes, it is "... *in* the Lord", not "... *of* the Lord", but it is still pretty close.

No, it's not close at all, and that's precisely what I'm getting at. "Brother(s) in the Lord" or "in Christ Jesus" (adelphos/ adelphoi en khristwi) is a regular phrase used to denote anyone who's a Christian. "Brother of the Lord" is a quite different phrase. It only occurs once. And it obviously means something quite different: it means a literal, physical brotherhood. So everyone took it in the ancient Greek-speaking world. And so everyone every since has taken it; until mythicism was invented, in--I expect--about 1800, in Romanticist Germany.
>
> And in 1 Cor 9 we have (again, Young's literal translation):
>
> "... have we not authority a sister -- a wife -- to lead about, as also the other apostles, and the brethren of the Lord, and Cephas?"

"The brethren of the Lord" means James and Jude. It means that Paul is saying that Jesus had *two* genetic brothers, James and Jude, who alongside Peter (=Cephas) were recognised as the three main leaders of the Jerusalem church.

So at any rate everyone has understood this passage, give or take qualms about the Virgin Mary which made them understand adelphoi as "half-brothers" (clearly permissible in the Greek) or as "cousins" (much less obviously permissible). Until of course mythicism was invented in about 1800.

> There we have "the brethren *of* the Lord". Well, it seems to me that he is talking about a particular group of Christians, a rank or class of monks or similar.

No, not at all. See last comments.


> Then we have the two openings to the epistles of James and Jude. Now, one issue is that these are likely not *by* those people, but written as though by them. But it is generally taken that the James is the James "brother of the Lord".
>
> The openings are: "James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ ..." and "Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ, and a brother of James ...".
>
> Now, if Jude thinks that being brother to James is worth mentioning, and if he is and James are then both brothers to Jesus, then how come neither thinks this worth mentioning? (Or, how come the people writing on their behalf didn't claim this extra authority?)

Hardly difficult: saying that you're Jesus' *servant* when everyone knows that you're Jesus' *brother* is a pretty striking thing to say!

But you shouldn't be arguing the main case from these letters, given that you think they are what you call forgeries. The main case depends on the Romans text. And it is a complete, 100%, 24-carat, drag-out-and-bury knock-down, and to be totally honest, I think you ought to face up to that and fess up that your little game is over.
Tim Chappell - on 28 Oct 2013
In reply to Tim Chappell:

The main case depends on the Romans text

--Or rather texts: thank you for reminding our avid readership that alongside Galatians 1.19 there is also Romans 9.5 :-)
Coel Hellier - on 28 Oct 2013
In reply to Tim Chappell:

> "Brother of the Lord" is a quite different phrase.

So now your case rests on the difference between "in" the Lord and "of" the Lord. Hmmm. And we're also assuming that the letter was written in Greek, not Aramaic (or that this distinction held in the original), and that it has been accurately transcribed from the original to the 300-years-later versions that we have. Hmmm. And we also note that when Marcion of Sinope quoted this letter (around AD100) it didn't have this phrase in. Hmmm.

> So everyone took it in the ancient Greek-speaking world. And so everyone every since has taken it;
> until mythicism was invented, in--I expect--about 1800, in Romanticist Germany.

Simply not true. For example Origen said explicitly that it was not a sibling relationship. Now, you may suspect that his reasons for doing so are Mary's virginity, but your statement isn't true. Another document, the gnostic "Apocalypse of James" also has Jesus saying that James was not his brother. Again, this may be for other reasons, to support docetism, but it still shows that your statement isn't true.

> ... saying that you're Jesus' *servant* when everyone knows that you're Jesus' *brother* is a pretty striking thing to say!

Another "it isn't said because everyone already knows it" argument. Hmmm.

Coel Hellier - on 28 Oct 2013
In reply to Tim Chappell:

> ... saying that you're Jesus' *servant* when everyone knows that you're Jesus' *brother* is a pretty striking thing to say!

And if everyone knew he (Jude) was Jesus's brother then they'd know that he was James's brother also, yet that is stated.

And, while Acts features James, it never says that he is Jesus's brother. I presume that this also is because everyone already knew it?
Coel Hellier - on 28 Oct 2013
In reply to Tim Chappell:

And also, in Galations a little after he's called James "brother of the Lord" he says (about James and Peter):

"As for those who were held in high esteem—whatever they were makes no difference to me; God does not show favoritism—they added nothing to my message."

Does that sound like what you'd say about the sibling of Jesus? Really? James who had grown up with Jesus could add "nothing to [Paul's] message"?

Then a little after Paul has a row with Peter about whether salvation is by works or by faith. James's opinion is not mentioned, as though Paul didn't think James's opinion amounted to much. Hmmm. There really is a lot being placed on that "in" versus "of"!

> And it is a complete, 100%, 24-carat, drag-out-and-bury knock-down ...

Such confidence!
Tim Chappell - on 28 Oct 2013
In reply to Coel Hellier:

> Hmmm. There really is a lot being placed on that "in" versus "of"!


Remember, we're talking about the Greek text. Which includes neither of these words. And believe me, there is a lot of difference between "brothers in Christ" and "brother of the Lord".

>> And it is a complete, 100%, 24-carat, drag-out-and-bury knock-down ...

>Such confidence!

Well, yes. Because it is. As the entire tradition agrees, up until the time mythicism was invented in about 1800.

To be honest, Coel, throughout this debate the main difficulty for me has not been to refute your arguments, but to get you to see that they've been refuted.
no_more_scotch_eggs - on 29 Oct 2013
In reply to Tim Chappell:

...and to get many, if not most of the others reading this to see they've been refuted too.

sorry Tim- if coel's argument simply that there is doubt over whether a historical figure called jesus, who has the characteristics and lived the life ascribed to him in the new testament, actually existed, then i'm more persuaded by the evidence and arguments he has made than that which you have set out.

you may be certain that you've refuted his case, but that's not the same as actually doing so.

cheers
gregor
Minneconjou Sioux - on 29 Oct 2013
In reply to Tim Chappell:

We do not want churches because they will teach us to quarrel about God.................... We do not want to learn that.

We may quarrel with men sometimes about things on earth. But we never quarrel about God. We do want to learn that.

Chief Joseph - Nez Perce
felt - on 29 Oct 2013
In reply to Minneconjou Sioux:

Surely a missing "not" there at the end?
cb294 - on 29 Oct 2013
In reply to Coel Hellier:

Thanks!

CB
Coel Hellier - on 29 Oct 2013
In reply to Tim Chappell:

> To be honest, Coel, throughout this debate the main difficulty for me has not been to refute your arguments,
> but to get you to see that they've been refuted.

That's also the problem Mormons have with me. They can easily "refute" my suggestion that the Book of Mormon was simply made up by Joseph Smith (as oppose to being transcribed by gold plates given to him by the Angel Moroni), it's them getting me to see that it's been refuted.

And Scientologists also have the same problem. They can easily "refute" my idea that it was just made up by L. Ron Hubbard, it's getting me to see that it's been refuted.
ericinbristol - on 29 Oct 2013
In reply to Coel Hellier:

I made the same points to Tim re Mormonism and Scientology. I didn't get a response.
Coel Hellier - on 29 Oct 2013
In reply to ericinbristol:

Yeah, but Christianity is the One True Religion, it *obviously* can't be compared with frauds like Mormonism and Scientology, they are not the same *at* *all*.
ericinbristol - on 29 Oct 2013
In reply to Coel and Tim:

FWIW I started out assuming Jesus was a historical person. By about half way through the thread changed my mind to thinking it was 50:50 between him being a historical or mythical person. I've mentioned this before.

Where I am now is that I think it is 2:1 in my mind that he was a historical person due to Coel accepting various specifics points made by Tim along the way. What Tim has completely failed to establish in my mind is that it is virtually certain that Jesus was a historical person.

I have also found Tim to be frequently rude and sneering and found his debating tactics to be at times pretty crude: these criticisms could be made of Coel far less.

dissonance - on 29 Oct 2013
In reply to ericinbristol:

> Where I am now is that I think it is 2:1 in my mind that he was a historical person due to Coel accepting various specifics points made by Tim along the way. What Tim has completely failed to establish in my mind is that it is virtually certain that Jesus was a historical person.

Coel has taken the most extreme position as well. Personally I doubt he was completely made up since looking at myths in general many do have an historical starting point it is just that they quickly become exaggerated and built upon until very little fact is left.

ericinbristol - on 29 Oct 2013
In reply to dissonance:

I am pretty sure that Coel has consistently stated the overall probabitilty of historicity v mythicism as 50:50. He has also focused on setting out mythicist positions necessarily as a contrast to historicity positions which I think could create a misleading impression of his overall assessment of the probability.

I agree about the historical starting point becoming quickly mythologised.

Coel Hellier - on 29 Oct 2013
In reply to the thread:

Of course we could open a whole new front, about whether "Nazareth" even existed at the supposed time of Jesus (as opposed to existing much later when the gospels may well have been written).
Minneconjou Sioux - on 29 Oct 2013
In reply to felt:

Yes
Minneconjou Sioux - on 29 Oct 2013
In reply to Minneconjou Sioux:
> (In reply to Tim Chappell)
>
> We do not want churches because they will teach us to quarrel about God.................... We do not want to learn that.
>
> We may quarrel with men sometimes about things on earth. But we never quarrel about God. We do not want to learn that.
>
> Chief Joseph - Nez Perce

Fixed it.
dissonance - on 29 Oct 2013
In reply to Coel Hellier:

I would start with the census. Curious method chosen.
Coel Hellier - on 29 Oct 2013
In reply to dissonance:

> I would start with the census. Curious method chosen.

If you mean Luke's census then the whole story was obviously invented as a device to re-locate Jesus to the Royal City of David. Afterall, censuses were for tax purposes, and you tax people where they live and work, not in the "city of their ancestors".

The need to relocate Jesus could well have come about as a misunderstanding of the term "Nazerene", the name of a religious cult, for a person coming from the small hamlet of "Nazareth" -- which, if you believe Rene Salm, didn't exist in Jesus's time.
marsbar - on 29 Oct 2013
In reply to ericinbristol: Wow, so someone is actually reading this...
tony on 29 Oct 2013
In reply to Coel Hellier:
> (In reply to dissonance)
>
> [...]
>
> If you mean Luke's census then the whole story was obviously invented as a device to re-locate Jesus to the Royal City of David. Afterall, censuses were for tax purposes, and you tax people where they live and work, not in the "city of their ancestors".

Unless you're HMRC, in which case you do deals to minimise tax liabilities for big multinationals. Maybe Joseph was fronting for Starbucks?
cb294 - on 29 Oct 2013
In reply to marsbar:

I read it, too, out of personal interest. I was brought up by (overly) tolerant parents who allowed me to be influenced by the evangelical fundamentalists that had taken over our church parish when I was a teenager.

My interest in this is to see how people can believe things that are quite obviously made up, as are many of the allegorical stories in the bible.

I grew out of it, after a while, and am now an atheistic "cultural Christian", but know many people who still think the Bible is to be taken as literal truth and God´s word.

CB
Minneconjou Sioux - on 30 Oct 2013
In reply to Coel Hellier:

The answer is ephemeral.

Seeking the answer should be eternal.
Philip on 30 Oct 2013
In reply to tony:
> (In reply to Coel Hellier)
> [...]
>
> Unless you're HMRC, in which case you do deals to minimise tax liabilities for big multinationals. Maybe Joseph was fronting for Starbucks?

You could be onto something. There is a curious link between Starbucks ability to turn some dried beans and water into an expensive drink, and Jesus's party trick with the water into wine. Perhaps the latter in an allegory to him being a barrista.

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