Accurate sources for the life of Jesus

AlexBP

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To me, the most telling part of the TF is its place within the context of the passages preceding it and after it. Perhaps I missed it, but your citation didn't touch on this point...except to say that they weren't convinced that the TF didn't flow within the context of its surrounding passages...that the very first sentence of the passage following the TF makes no sense unless the TF were completely interpolated. Let's take a look...

"About the same time also, another sad calamity put the Jews into disorder..."

Another sad calamity that put the Jews into disorder. The passage preceding the TF is about an instance where Pilate violently puts down a Jewish uprising, harming many of them. That would certainly be a sad calamity that put the Jews in disorder. It's possible that the sad calamity he is referring to is the crucifixion of Christ...but as a Jewish man who doesn't believe in Christ, why would he consider this a sad calamity? It doesn't really make any sense that he would. That first line clearly refers to the passage preceding the TF, in which Jews are treated very harshly under Pilate.
The article by Christopher Price certainly does address the exact point that you're making, at length. I'm baffled by why you think that it doesn't. Price quotes the well-known scholarly work A Marginal Jew by Dr. Paul Meier and a translation of Josephus with commentary by Dr. Henry Thackeray on the matter, but what they say on the matter is the same point I already made, so I'll just repeat myself:
You also mention the argument that the Testimonium Flavianum is unrelated to the preceding and following passages. Well, Jewish Antiquities contains many passages that are unrelated to the surrounding passages, does it not? And so do Josephus' other works, do they not? And so do all ancient historical works, do they not? Are you going to argue that all such passages are inauthentic?
I note without surprise that you didn't answer any of my questions. Furthermore, I also note without surprise that you didn't address the fact that archaeologists have found an ancient manuscript which contains the original text of Josephus without the Christian glosses, and it does have the authentic TF.

And you say that the first line following the TF clearly refers to the passage prior to the TF. I agree, but so what? That doesn't prove that the TF is completely interpolated, as you seem to think.
 
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Ana the Ist

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I am not joking.


You are evidently completely ignorant about this.

In the "Jesus's wife" hoax, somebody was trying to attack Christianity. According to the Gospels, Jesus was not married. Anti-Christian frauds throughout the ages have tried to undermine the historicity of the gospels by claiming that Jesus was married. (For instance this idea was the basis of Dan Brown's book The Da Vince Code.) Whoever created the fake document referring to "the wife of Jesus" was pushing this anti-Christian theory. So that is not an example of a Christian fraud. It's an example of someone like yourself, who hates Christianity, being a fraud.

As a reminder, here's what you said:
Christians throughout history have been aware of the scant evidence for Christ and have created documents trying to prove his existence.
I challenged you to provide us with evidence from a reliable source to back up this claim. Not surprisingly, you've utterly failed to provide any evidence from any source to back it up. I hereby renew my challenge to you: provide some evidence from a reliable source to back up what you said. Until you do so, I'll assume that you were lying.

That's your interpretation of it, it could just as easily have been a Christian who tried to lend some validity to the existence of Christ by making him appear as an actual person, instead of a mythological figure.

I didn't mean to seem condescending when I asked if you were joking. You've displayed, at times, a fair knowledge of history...so I figured you must've been well aware of the massive amount of forgeries perpetrated by early Christians in order to lend validity to the Christ myth. Literally, the number of these documents is staggering. To fulfill your request, you would only need to look up the Acts of Pilate. It's regarded as a fourth century fraud in which Pilate writes to the Roman emperor regarding the execution of Christ...no serious scholars, Christian or otherwise, regard this as anything but a "pious fraud". It's purpose was likely to convince pagans of the reality of Christ.

For some other examples, a great read for you would be Bart Ehrman's "Forgery and Counterforgery: The Use of Literary Deceit in Early Christian Polemics". From this...
" The Homilies and Recognitions of Clement; Paul's letters to and from Seneca; Gospels by Peter, Thomas, and Philip; Jesus' correspondence with Abgar, letters by Peter and Paul in the New Testament--all forgeries. To cite just a few examples."

Since you seem to be completely ignorant of this topic I suspect it will be an eye opener for you. I'm sure an American New Testament scholar, currently the James A. Gray Distinguished Professor of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill should be a credible enough witness for you.
 
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silverrune

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I am not sure of the veracity of the many authors Isatis listed however, Flavius Josephus and his Testimonium Flavianum is debatable due to the charge of interpolationT in it's references to Jesus.

There are many sources wherein this is discussed on line. Seeking out, "interpolation Flavius Josephus Jesus", results in a great many results.

This is but one of them: "Early Christian Writings Testimonium Flavianum: Josephus' Reference to Jesus"

Researching when the Gospels, particularly the Synoptic Gospels, and the dates they were written may also help you if you compare their date to that of Jesus.
 
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AlexBP

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That's your interpretation of it, it could just as easily have been a Christian who tried to lend some validity to the existence of Christ by making him appear as an actual person, instead of a mythological figure.
No, I'm right and you're wrong. The forged fragment, which supposedly mentioned the wife of Jesus, was introduced to the world by Dr. Karen King of Harvard, who's also been involved in a number of other academic frauds aiming to discredit Christianity. We don't no for certain whether the forgery was made by Dr. King herself or by someone else, but obviously something that attacks Christian doctrine was not made by believers that some doctrine. Here's an article which explains it. I recommend that you read the article and learn the facts, so that you don't continue to embarrass yourself by saying things about this forgery that are the exact opposite of the truth.

Jesus | The Weekly Standard

You want us to believe that this forgery may have been made by Christians aiming to "lend validity to the existence of Christ". Tell us what reliable sources you have to defend that theory, please.
 
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bhsmte

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It depends upon how sophisticated they are. If they're knowledgable, the usual apologetics won't work. One interesting possibility is Bart Ehrman's book "Did Jesus Exist?" It's a pretty good review of the evidence from a critical point of view. It *is* from a critical point of view, so in addition to that it will have lots of material that conservatives won't agree with. But if you're dealing with someone used to critical methods, it is likely to be convincing where more conservative sources won't be.

Ehrman does have one view that I think is dubious. He thinks Jesus' concept of the Kingdom was entirely something that was coming in the near future. That would mean Jesus is wrong. That view was common in the middle of the 20th Cent, but is less common now. Scholars have a better understanding of how apocalyptic language works now. It's now pretty clear that Jesus saw the Kingdom both as a present and a future reality. I think it's also pretty clear that many of his references were to events that happened in 70 AD.

I would agree that Ehrman's book is something someone should use if they are interested in determining whether Jesus existed or not.

Ehrman is not well liked by christians, simply because he was once a Baptist minister, who came to understand that his faith was mis-guided. Christians try real hard to discredit folks like this, but his credentials are pretty stellar and his knowledge is highly respected in his field. He graduated from Moody Bible, Wheaton College and received his PHD from Princeton, where he studied under Metzger, the leading biblical scholar of his time.
 
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AlexBP

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Since you seem to be completely ignorant of this topic I suspect it will be an eye opener for you. I'm sure an American New Testament scholar, currently the James A. Gray Distinguished Professor of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill should be a credible enough witness for you.
You seem to think that listing Dr. Ehrman's credentials will make a very impressive point. I'm sure there's no need to remind you that Ehrman has written a book explaining why academics universally agree that Jesus Christ existed. The book is called Did Jesus Exist: The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth, and it's been mentioned in this thread already. It specifically discredits, at length, every single argument that you've put forward in this thread. Since you're arguing that Jesus did not exist, you obviously don't believe that Ehrman is a reliable source, so how on Earth can you at the same time throw his credentials around as if he were on your side? Don't you realize how silly this makes you look?

Regarding the particular issue of whether early Christians forged documents to serve as evidence for his existence, Ehrman's book Forgery and Counterforgery flatly contradicts what you claim and proves you wrong at great length. I'd thought that after your first couple failed attempts to justify the statement, you'd admit you were wrong, but it seems that you enjoy being proven wrong in detail, again and again and again. So here goes. You originally said:
Christians throughout history have been aware of the scant evidence for Christ and have created documents trying to prove his existence.
Now in order to justify your claim, it's obviously not sufficient to prove only that forgeries exist. If you want to justify this claim, you obviously have to prove that Christians throughout history have forged documents for the specific purpose that of proving that Jesus existed. Of the documents that you have listed, none were written for that purpose.

For example, you listed the Acts of Pilate, and made several mistakes in the process. First of all, there were at least three different documents produced in the ancient world under that name. One was produced by the pagan Roman Emperor Maximin II as an attack against Christians. Another was produced by an unknown sources during the 4th century. It's true that all these documents were forgeries, but none served the purpose that you claim they served. Likewise for the list of documents that you give from Dr. Ehrman's book. Can you quote any passage from Dr. Ehrman's book which actually says that all these documents were produced for the purpose of proving that Jesus existed? I doubt that you can. You have to remember that in ancient times everybody believed that Jesus existed, both Christians and Jews and Pagans. Obviously only Christians believed his divine claims, but even non-Christian authors who wrote to attack Christians never question that Jesus existed. Hence no one would ever have had any reason to produce a document to prove that Jesus existed. Your claim is absurd.
 
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bhsmte

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You seem to think that listing Dr. Ehrman's credentials will make a very impressive point. I'm sure there's no need to remind you that Ehrman has written a book explaining why academics universally agree that Jesus Christ existed. The book is called Did Jesus Exist: The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth, and it's been mentioned in this thread already. It specifically discredits, at length, every single argument that you've put forward in this thread. Since you're arguing that Jesus did not exist, you obviously don't believe that Ehrman is a reliable source, so how on Earth can you at the same time throw his credentials around as if he were on your side? Don't you realize how silly this makes you look?

Regarding the particular issue of whether early Christians forged documents to serve as evidence for his existence, Ehrman's book Forgery and Counterforgery flatly contradicts what you claim and proves you wrong at great length. I'd thought that after your first couple failed attempts to justify the statement, you'd admit you were wrong, but it seems that you enjoy being proven wrong in detail, again and again and again. So here goes. You originally said:
Christians throughout history have been aware of the scant evidence for Christ and have created documents trying to prove his existence.
Now in order to justify your claim, it's obviously not sufficient to prove only that forgeries exist. If you want to justify this claim, you obviously have to prove that Christians throughout history have forged documents for the specific purpose that of proving that Jesus existed. Of the documents that you have listed, none were written for that purpose.

For example, you listed the Acts of Pilate, and made several mistakes in the process. First of all, there were at least three different documents produced in the ancient world under that name. One was produced by the pagan Roman Emperor Maximin II as an attack against Christians. Another was produced by an unknown sources during the 4th century. It's true that all these documents were forgeries, but none served the purpose that you claim they served. Likewise for the list of documents that you give from Dr. Ehrman's book. Can you quote any passage from Dr. Ehrman's book which actually says that all these documents were produced for the purpose of proving that Jesus existed? I doubt that you can. You have to remember that in ancient times everybody believed that Jesus existed, both Christians and Jews and Pagans. Obviously only Christians believed his divine claims, but even non-Christian authors who wrote to attack Christians never question that Jesus existed. Hence no one would ever have had any reason to produce a document to prove that Jesus existed. Your claim is absurd.

The fact that Jesus was a real person, is not much of a question with established historians and biblical scholars. I don't know what the percentages are, but it is heavily weighted towards the fact Jesus did indeed exist.

Were it goes from that point though, is a different story, because the evidence simply does not exist to back up the miracle claims, rising from the dead etc.. Ehrman has done more work on the validity of the new testament than anyone I am aware of and he does so with a critical eye (as any book claimed by many to be historically accurate) should be. The bible should be treated as any other ancient book that states extraordinary claims, with the proper level of objective scrutiny.

When that is done (as Ehrman has), christians go on the attack to try and discredit him and IMO, they have failed in their attempt.
 
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pjnlsn

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I'd just like to say that I've been reading about the Gospel of Thomas, which was in effect censored by the early church, and it shows Jesus as basically a moralizer, a bit of a philosopher, but not someone who endlessly talks about the supernatural, or that he's God. (Well, maybe a little). But you can see in the historical record, or at least the surviving documents, how the supernatural parts were layered on over the centuries. For example, in the council of Trent.

So it appears that Jesus was a great man, relatively educated, perhaps even enlightened, but not really a person who thought of himself as a God or the son of God (at least not very much).
 
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Blackguard_

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I'd just like to say that I've been reading about the Gospel of Thomas, which was in effect censored by the early church, and it shows Jesus as basically a moralizer, a bit of a philosopher, but not someone who endlessly talks about the supernatural, or that he's God.

The Gospel of Thomas was a 2nd century Gnostic text.

It wasn't censored, it was just never considered canon by orthodox Christianity.
 
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bhsmte

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The Gospel of Thomas was a 2nd century Gnostic text.

It wasn't censored, it was just never considered canon by orthodox Christianity.

The 27 gospels of the new testament are open to serious debate and scholars have identified numerous issues; deleting text, adding text, adding stories and numerous contradictions amongst matthew, mark, luke and john, non of whom actually wrote the gospels with their name.

The apostle Paul, is supposed to be responsible for 13 of the 27 gospels, but only 7 are considered as legitimate to scholars.

You could go on and on about this stuff and Bart Ehrman has investigated and studied this stuff more than anyone.
 
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AlexBP

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The fact that Jesus was a real person, is not much of a question with established historians and biblical scholars. I don't know what the percentages are, but it is heavily weighted towards the fact Jesus did indeed exist.
100% in favor of existence, 0% opposed, as far as I know. The anti-existence movement relies on uncredentialed writers such as Earl Doherty because they can't get anyone else these days.

Were it goes from that point though, is a different story, because the evidence simply does not exist to back up the miracle claims, rising from the dead etc.. Ehrman has done more work on the validity of the new testament than anyone I am aware of and he does so with a critical eye (as any book claimed by many to be historically accurate) should be. The bible should be treated as any other ancient book that states extraordinary claims, with the proper level of objective scrutiny.

When that is done (as Ehrman has), christians go on the attack to try and discredit him and IMO, they have failed in their attempt.
I have no problem with Dr. Ehrman. (I'm a little bit peeved by the sensationalistic way that his publisher packages the books with titles like Forged and Misquoting Jesus, which misrepresent what's actually in the books.) However, Ehrman is best known for writing books for a mainstream audience which collect the scholarship of others. Nothing wrong with that, of course, but it's incorrect to say that he's done the most work in New Testament studies. Scholars such as Bruce Metzger, N. T. Wright, E. P. Sanders, Marcus Borg, Craig Blomberg, F. F. Bruce, Steven Davis, and Edwin Yamauchi have made larger contributions to the academic literature on the subject.
 
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bhsmte

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100% in favor of existence, 0% opposed, as far as I know. The anti-existence movement relies on uncredentialed writers such as Earl Doherty because they can't get anyone else these days.


I have no problem with Dr. Ehrman. (I'm a little bit peeved by the sensationalistic way that his publisher packages the books with titles like Forged and Misquoting Jesus, which misrepresent what's actually in the books.) However, Ehrman is best known for writing books for a mainstream audience which collect the scholarship of others. Nothing wrong with that, of course, but it's incorrect to say that he's done the most work in New Testament studies. Scholars such as Bruce Metzger, N. T. Wright, E. P. Sanders, Marcus Borg, Craig Blomberg, F. F. Bruce, Steven Davis, and Edwin Yamauchi have made larger contributions to the academic literature on the subject.

Ehrman studied under Metzger (PHD from Princeton) and worked with him for years.

The difference with Ehrman, is he has taken a critical view (based on fact) that others have tended to skim around the edges of (because most scholars are christians and work at religious institutions). Ehrman has had the courage to do so and he backs up his findings/opinions in a very reasonable objective manner.

The fact that he had a journey from being a born again christian minister, to being agnostic, has created criticism of his work that is over the top, because he has gone against the establishment.
 
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HitchSlap

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If I encountered a non-Christian who was interested in Christianity, but from a historical perspective thought the story of Jesus to be only a story, not fact, which sources could I bring up to show that person that Jesus did actually exist?

Thanks.

From an historical critical approach, there is zero contemporary evidence to support a man named Jesus lived in Palestine at that time. In fact, the earliest archaeological evidence to support the existence of Christianity dates to the early third century. There is a move within modern scholarship that is beginning to talk about the elephant in the room, that is the possibility that Jesus may in fact be myth.

Why I Think Jesus Didn't Exist: A Historian Explains the Evidence That Changed His Mind - YouTube
 
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AlexBP

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In fact, the earliest archaeological evidence to support the existence of Christianity dates to the early third century.
This is very, very, very untrue. To give just one of many facts that proves you wrong, the earliest portion of a biblical manuscript, known as the "St. John fragment", dates from just after 100 A.D. Why on earth you thought you could get away with saying that the earliest archaeological evidence to support the existence of Christianity dates to the third century is beyond me.
 
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