Greetings Flange Gasket,
Jason, we meet again...
My name is Iasion, I A S I O N
it's amazing how often people get it wrong.
Having so eloquently made your claim however, you fail to provide any evidence from the period of the Roman occupation of Canaan of a
conspiracy to create a fictitious "Jesus" existed.
I never claimed there was "a conspiracy to create a fictitious" Jesus.
The Jesus Myth theory is NOT about a conspiracy.
(ah, perhaps JJ meant the Calpurnius Piso conspiracy theory?)
This is a common misunderstanding about the Jesus Myth theory,
and I pointed this out in my post :
However, the main argument is not about a conspiracy to unify the Roman state (although there may be such fringe theories.) The argument is
that Jesus was originally a spiritual being, only later believed to be historical.
If you wish to actually understand what the Jesus Myth theory argues, I suggest you start with the 12 Easy Pieces of the Jesus Puzzle :
G.Mark religious LITERATURE
The original, anonymous, gospel was a piece of spiritual literature.
It is based largely on the Jewish scriptures - the episodes in the Gospels were created from passages in the Tanakh.
You can see a detailed explanation of this here:
G.Mark was such a success that was copied by many later authors.
Then, long after the alleged events, after TWO wars had devastated the region -
after the Temple had been razed to the ground,
after Jerusalem had been destroyed,
after most of the Jews had been killed or dispersed,
after Judea had been erased from the map,
after several generations had passed,
THEN people started saying Jesus was a historical figure.
It was not a "conspiracy" at all.
It was a great spiritual story, a great work of religious literature, set just before the wars - back in the "good ol' days" before the Romans
It was merely people with religious fervour convincing themselves, and others, that this great spiritual hero was a real person.
Is there one authentic text you can quote from this period that states that Jesus didn't exist and the gospells were a construct.
Did any refute the Heaven's Gate cult?
Does that make their wacky views true?
Did any refute the Jim Jones cult?
Does that make their crazy views true?
Did any refute the Golden Ass of Apuleis?
Does that make it true?
Of course not - fringe cults may be ignored or they may be ridiculed or they may be refuted in detail, or they may not - the lack of a detailed
rebuttal does not in anyway make cult views true.
But when a cult grows and comes into prominance, THEN it may be criticised - which is EXACTLY what we see in the case of the Gospels.
Early refutations of Christianity
The words and phrases used by early writers to dismiss Christians and Christianity include :
"fables" "lie" "myths" "superstition" "empty rumour"
"alter the originals over and over" "invented"
"base and ignorant creed making fishermen"
"blasphemy" "spurious" "counterfeit" "contradicts"
"refuted because they disagree"
Just what would be expected of a new cult growing in prominance.
Jewish responses to Christianity
The Jewish response is just what we would expect of a wacky new cult - initially they ignore it. But late in the 1st century, as more Jews leave for
Christianity, the Jews formally BAN the Christians from their synagogues and curse them as "minim". And lets not forget the Gospels arose sometime
after the war, the Jews had a LOT more to worry about than refuting some a new cult.
Later, of course, when Christianity is rising to power, and the Jews have recovered from the Roman destructions, they DO try to discredit Jesus with
all sorts of horrible stories being told -
* Jesus is a bastard (a mamzer) born from Mary's adultery with a Roman soldier,
* Jesus is a child conceived in the "time of separation" (during menstruation),
* Jesus was a evil magician who tried to lead people astray,
This is not the sign of the Jews unable to refute Christianity - on the contrary - it's the sign of a new cult which is at first ignored, then
ridiculed and attacked when it starts to become a threat.
Variant Christian views
In the formative period of Christianity, the 2nd century, we see all sorts of disagreement about specific Christian claims :
The epistles of John mention other Christians who do not believe in a son of God, and attack Christians who do not believe Jesus came in the flesh.
The epistle of Polycarp also describes those who do not accept that Jesus came in the flesh.
Consider the astonishing case of Minucius Felix - he explicitly rejected the worship of a man on a cross as a Christian belief, he explicitly
denied that God could become man. That's a 2nd century church father who explicitly rejected the incarnation and the crucifixion - 2 central beliefs
Many other disagreements are expressed in the 2nd century :
* Timothy warning against the fables of genealogies,
* Marcion denied Jesus was born of Mary,
* gnostics such as Basilides and Bardesanes claimed Jesus was a phantom or spiritual being,
* the docetae argue Jesus was an illusion,
* Barnabas denies Christ was "son of David",
* forged letters warning about forgeries and "other christs"
In short - the 2nd century is full of refutations and rebuttals as the varying Christian sub-sects argued about what was "really true" about
This is not the sign of a historical event which was not refuted - its a clear sign of the exact opposite - religious mythology being argued over.
Pagan responses to Christianity
Initially, the new cult is largely ignored, but ridiculed by a few writers -
* Tacitus - "a class hated for their abominations", "a most mischievous superstition"
* Pliny - "this mad sect"
* Lucian - "misguided creatures"
This is not the sign of a grand new truth being accepted - it is the sign of a wacky new cult which barely rated a dismissive mention at first.
Later on, when Christianity and the Gospels first rose to prominence, they DID receive detailed rebuttals.
Celsus specifically attacked the Gospels as "fiction" based on myths, and he claimed the Gospels were changed over and over to deflect criticism.
Hoffman's reconstruction has quotes such as these :
"Clearly the Christians have used...myths... in fabricating the story of Jesus' birth...It is clear to me that the writings of the Christians are
a lie and that your fables are not well-enough constructed to conceal this monstrous fiction"
Celsus' attack was so damaging to the church, that they attempted to erase it from history, we only have quotes of it because of angry Christians who
answered his critique.
This is not the sign of external agreement on Christian claims - it is demonstrably the exact opposite - a specific attack that the Gospels were
FICTION, an attack so damaging the church tried to burn every copy of it.
A few generations later, as the church is consolidating its power, a pagan historian Porphyry wrote another critique of Christian beliefs "Against
the Christians", including such criticism such as :
"The evangelists were fiction writers-- not observers or eyewitnesses to the life of Jesus. Each of the four contradicts the other in writing his
account of the events of his suffering and crucifixion"
"Anyone will recognize that the [gospels] are really fairy tales if he takes the time to read further into this nonsense of a story..."
"Another section in the gospel deserves comment, for it is likewise devoid Of sense and full of implausibility; I mean that absurd story about
Jesus sending his apostles across the sea ahead of him after a banquet, then walking across to them 'at the fourth watch of the night'...Those who
know the region well tell us that, in fact, there is no 'sea' in the locality but only a tiny lake which springs from a river that flows through the
hills of Galilee near Tiberias... Mark seems to be stretching a point to extremities when he writes that Jesus-- after nine hours had passed-- decided
in the tenth to walk across to his disciples who had been floating about on the pond for the duration... It is fables like this one that we judge the
gospel to be a cleverly woven curtain, each thread of which requires careful scrutiny"
Then, just as Christianity had come to be the state religion, the Roman emperor Julian rejected the faith and wrote his own refutation of
Christianity, "Against the Galileans", including comments such as :
".. why do you worship this spurious son of his whom has never been recognised as his own", and "You however, I know not why, foist on him a
Note this telling criticism of Julian, the educated Roman emperor :
"But if you can show me that one of these men is mentioned by the well-known writers of that time - the events happened in the reign of Tiberius
or Claudius - then you may consider that I speak falsely on all matters"
Here we see Julian explicitly state that Jesus is UNKNOWN TO HISTORY.
There is no doubt from this that early Christianity was dismissed as a cult based on lies and myths. Yet somehow apologists like Pastor pretend that
these writers are supporting the veracity of the resurrection!
There we see several examples of the Gospels being specifically attacked as MYTHs.
We see Christaisn who specifically did NOT believe in a physical Jesus.
We see one Christian father explicitly deny the incarnation and crucifixion.
We see an educated Roman emporer explicitly claim Jesus is UNKNOWN to history.
Along with many other signs that the stories grew in the telling -
We see that NO 1st century Christian writings have a clear mention of a historical Jesus.
We see no contemporary evidence for Jesus and the Gospel events.
It is interesting that you mention Julius Africanus as he made his fame translating the works of the 1st century disciple Adbias, the Nazarene
Bishop of Babylon. The Books of Abdias amounted to ten volumes of firsthand Apostolic History, which like so many other important accounts of this era
were deemed unsuited to the Roman friendly accounts contained within the eventual gospels.
Who is this "Adbias"?
I can find no record of him in any reference work or web site.
He is not mentioned in any Christian work.
He is not mentioned in any reference on Julius Africanus.
There were no 1st century disciples who were "bishops" - bishops came much later.
His account of the Exodus of Jews during this period is illuminating as he describes at the outset of the revolt the Romans had all public
records burned so as to prevent future details of Royal Judean geneaology. During the revolt itself all records, including those privately held
documents were ordered to be seized and destoyed.
Which account? Where can we read this "account"?
Even if the Romans did destroy genealogies, that does not explain -
* the silence of Paul about a historical Jesus,
* the silence of the epistles of James, Peter, John about a historical Jesus,
* the silence of Philo of anything about Jesus or the Christians - and it was Philo who first used the concept of the "Logos" and the "holy
* the silence of Justus of Tiberias about Jesus or the Gospel events.
* the silence of many 1st century authors : Seneca, Musonius Rufus, Plutarch, Dio Chrysostom, Theon of Smyrna, Lucius Apuleuis.
* the silence of early Christians about the Gospels themselves,
* why G.Mark shows signs of spiritual LITERATURE, not history,
* why the late and anonymous Gospels all copy from G.Mark, itself originally anonymous,
* why some CHRISTIANS call the genealogies of Jesus "fables" (in the Pastorals, 2nd forgeries in Paul's name)
* why so many Christian sects denied Jesus "came in the flesh"
* why several 2nd century apologist described Christianity WITHOUT Jesus,
* why Minucius Felix explicitly denies the incarnation and crucifixion,
* why all the early mentions of Christianity dismiss it as a "superstition"
* why Celsus criticised the Gospels as "fiction... based on MYTH" just when they came to prominance,
* why Porphyry called the Evangelists "inventors, not historians",
* why Julian said Jesus was UNKNOWN IN HISTORY.
So your proof of a lack of evidence is entirely consistant with what we should expect from this region in this period.
Yes, it is entirely consistent with a new hero of spiritual myth, later mis-understood as history, after 2 wars and several generations had destroyed
the evidence and the people.
What is missing however is any evidence from this period of a Roman or Jewish conspiracy to fabricate a story of a mythical Jesus...
I never said there WAS a "conspiracy",
nor does Earl Doherty, nor any Jesus Myther.
Of course, JJ's post was originally about a conspiracy, so perhaps I am taking the post off topic, sorry :-)
(I have checked and found there IS a "conspiracy theory" about someone called Piso. It' a fringe theory of the wildest kind, no-one I know of gives
it any support.)
But, the Jesus Myth theory is often confused with a "conspiracy theory", so I thought I'd answer on behalf of the JM theory - the Jesus Myth theory
is hotly debated in many fora lately.
such as e.g. Earl's :www.jesuspuzzle.org...
is that Jesus was originally a MYTH, a spiritual hero of a magnificent piece of religious literature,
later mis understood as history...