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The conspiracy of the historical Jesus

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posted on May, 2 2010 @ 12:50 AM
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Originally posted by Cor Leonis
The Holy Bible declares that Jesus is the way the truth and the life. No man comes to the Father but by him.

How did anyone speak to god before Jesus walked the earth?


Originally posted by Cor Leonis
I think there are some who try to discount the validity of Jesus being the Messiah is because Jesus is truthfully The Way, The Truth and The Life. And the only way to stand righteous before The Almighty is being in a right relationship with Him through The Son of God.

Or could it be that people are looking for truth and are tired of believing things just because they were raised to believe them?

And, what exactly is a right relationship with him? Do you have a right relationship with him? What does that even mean? How can you have a relationship with someone whom you've never physically seen, never audibly heard, and never physically touched? You could have a better relationship with a tree.


Originally posted by Cor Leonis
Some want to live their lives their own way without having to answer to an Almighty One. They themselves want to be Almighty in their own eyes. If there were a judgment at the end of their lives then to some that in itself might hinder them from really accomplishing all of the selfishness that the flesh desires to accomplish.

Or again, some want truth because they aren't satisfied that the stories in this book put together by man are accurate if even true. Just like maybe the Koran isn't truth, or the Hindu writings, or the Sumerian writings, or the stories about Santa Claus, or Hercules, etc.

Do you not understand this? Do you believe in the Koran writings? Do you believe they are the word of god? If not, why not? Because it's not the truth? Hmmmm......


Originally posted by Cor Leonis
So the best way to accomplish all of the pleasure possible before the last breath is to discount the judgment and the one seated to judge, Jesus The Messiah.

So do what you want to do!

Yes, to be judged. This is the best part of the biblical story. It doesn't matter how good of a person you were. You could even live a better life than christians, yet if you can't muster the faith to believe in this god, you will be destroyed forever.

One of the greatest weapons these religions have is fear. They try to scare you into believing. They use Pascal's wager to try to lure you in. It's always about fear and consequences of our short life. And they try to justify their god punishing us forever for our crimes in our finite life.

I've said it before, I would love to have a true relationship with the sentient creator of the universe, if there is one, who loves me so much that there was NOTHING I could do that would cause him to want to hurt me forever. Just like I feel towards my own children. I would love to be able to talk to him/her/it, laugh with him/her/it, cry with him/her/it, etc. without fear of being punished forever, or my loved ones being punished forever.



[edit on 2-5-2010 by Hydroman]

[edit on 2-5-2010 by Hydroman]




posted on May, 2 2010 @ 08:22 AM
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WHICH historical assertions exactly?

A fact claim that could, in principle, be decided by natural means based on material or testimonial evidence.

Like many reports, the fact claims will typically arrive interspersed with interpretations made by the reporters, with appeal to figures of speech, with literary conventions, and so on. So,


Do you include Matthew historical claim that the saints all rose from the grave and walked the streets of Jerusalem?

Matthew never says whether he is making fact claims or simply retelling the stories current in the Christian community of his time and place. Contrast Luke, for example.

If it was intended as a fact claim, then Matthew has left out any avenue by which we might verify, even in principle, that these people, who are only encountered on the street, earlier emerged from graves, how they were then identified as "saints," etc.

However, since the "incident" is the usual thing in the literary genre of apotheosis (the death of the hero is accompanied by signs and wonders... the earth giving up its dead surely has a ring to it), and since it would likely be recognized as just that at the time it was written, I don't see any "fact claim" here, historical or otherwise, at least not by the original author.

It may be helpful for you to recall that I am not a Christian, and that few Christians are self-described "Biblical literalists" anyway. Not every sentence written in the indicative mood is a historical fact claim.


So you only accept a small list of what was claimed, THEN say that small list would not have been noticed.

If Christians claimed that Jesus was "King of the Jews" in the sense of a temporal ruler, then we would expect boatloads of "notice." But they don't. His "kingdom" was "not of this world." So, we know where not to look for "notice."


But the stories say that Jesus attracted HUGE crowds, and made a big disturbance in Jerusalem, and performed many incredible acts, and came to the attention of the authorities, Jewish and Roman.

They are BIG things, which WOULD have attracted attention.

But our problem is how much evidence would survive the "attention." I walk through a central city park from time to time. I see crowds gather and disperse all the time, listening to speakers, or watching street theater, or even attending professional open-air free shows.

No doubt, an interested party might describe some of the crowds as "huge." But most of the clusters leave few traces, and those few traces are almost always swept up by the city's park employees shortly afterwards.


But you seem to be trimming all those big actions out and leaving only the small ones you personally believe in ..

What I "believe" or don't "believe" isn't our topic. I was happy to disclose that I am an agnostic, since I have said so elsewhere, and saying so sometimes avoids wasted bandwidth about how annoying "Christians like me" are.

Yes, I trimmed out the claim that Jesus was present at the creation of the Universe. I also extracted from the inference "he rose from the dead" the natural event, the witnessable event, what was actually reported in the received record, "some of his followers experienced his presence after he died." Yes, I do believe that some of his followers did just that.


If he was a minor nobody who left NO mark on anybody at the time ...

No, I think Acts has the outline (if not the details) about right. Jesus had a band of followers, people who freely intermixed dream and waking experience, and he did have a distinctive take on religious questions. The small cadre kept the dream alive long enough for a master salesman, Saul, to have a waking psychotic crisis. Saul renames himself Paul, and annoints the socially marginal wandering holy man Jesus as the Christ.

The rest, as the expession goes, is history.

BTW, that sort of thing happens all the time. The operating principle of the device we are now writing to each other with was dsicovered in the 19th Century by a logician named George Boole. He wrote a book. A version of the computer could have been built based on what he wrote then and there, from existing and understood components, but nobody knew what in hell he was talking about. Crucially, he never suggested building anything.

In the 20th Century (so one version of the fable goes), a Polish logician named Jan Lukasiewicz was visiting Paris, and stopped at a bookstall by the Seine. There was a used copy of Boole's magnum opus, which caught the Pole's eye. Lukasiewicz picked it up, flipped through it, understood what he was reading, and wrote a paper about the book.

The paper was read by John von Neuman. One day, during WW II, von Neuman was waiting for a train, and ran into some colleagues. They all had security clearances, so they could talk about what they were working on. The colleagues were building a "computer" out of pieces of 19th Century technology. Hmm, von Neuman thought to himself...

It seems the computer has turned out to be reasonably successful despite the obscurity in life of the discoverer of its operating principle.

Religion or engineering, ideas catch on because they accomplish for people things that people want done. Paul's "Christianity" is a masterwork of applied psychology, just as von Neuman's "architecture" is a masterwork of engineering. In both cases, the pioneering ideas are attributed to an obscure predecessor. In both cases, the underlying ideas went nowhere until they were molded by masters of application.

I don't see the big mystery in either case.




[edit on 2-5-2010 by eight bits]



posted on May, 3 2010 @ 05:18 PM
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The idea that historians or believers need to give ironclad historical proof that Jesus existed is the wrong approach in my opinion. In fact, it is a standard that is set so high as to be unattainable with our current historical findings. By not meeting this standard, some then make the jump to a mythical creation story and vehemently state that believers in a historical Jesus are suffering some kind of mental delusion.

The question should be this: Does the evidence we currently have allow us to be sensibly sure that Jesus was a historical figure? The evidence is compelling that Jesus was a real person, which is why the majority of scholars accept it as true.

Consider Paul’s writings in Galatians, which specifically mention his travels with Peter and James, apostles of Jesus. Since Paul’s epistles are the most undisputed in terms of New Testament authorship, it’s very reasonable to say that he was in direct contact with two of Jesus’ inner circle.

Also, considering that early Christians were persecuted, the easiest way to stop the movement would have been to call out that Jesus wasn’t real. We don’t see that from either Jews or Pagans, and the most likely reason is because people of that time had no reason to dispute the issue.

Third, although parts of the Testimonium Flavianum may have been tampered with, it does not mean that the document holds no value. The part in which Josephus calls James “the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ” is considered by the majority of scholars to be authentic.

Lastly, the study of the gospels shows that they hold up well to textual criticism, and are generally historically accurate.

Now, I don’t have “proof” that the world won’t end tomorrow, but based on the evidence, it is reasonable for me to live my life believing that there will be a tomorrow. I don’t have proof that my girlfriend will not poison me tonight when I eat dinner, but past data allows me to eat with assurance that I’ll be safe. The support that Jesus was real is much stronger than the support for a mythical figure. While some may choose to live their life only according to what they can prove to be true, I’d say the evidence allows for belief in a real Jesus.


[edit on 3-5-2010 by Giovonni]

[edit on 3-5-2010 by Giovonni]



posted on May, 3 2010 @ 06:02 PM
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reply to post by Kapyong
 


For anyone interested in Kapyong's theory, you may want to take a look here:

jesuspuzzle.humanists.net...

or here for a review that is basically positive:
www.infidels.org...

or here for a critique:
tektonics.org...

or here for another critique:
www.preventingtruthdecay.org...

Eric



posted on May, 3 2010 @ 07:00 PM
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Here is one of the original thinkers, who claimed that Christ was a mythical figure, Gerald Massey an Egyptologist and poet.

www.africawithin.com...

en.wikipedia.org...



posted on May, 3 2010 @ 10:47 PM
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Interesting statements Giovonni, thank you for those. For many people, comes down to trusting or distrusting the data based on the available facts. This is as much true in science as it is in history. Even proof can be questioned and doubted, but it is proof nevertheless.



posted on May, 3 2010 @ 11:15 PM
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reply to post by Kapyong
 


no an AUDIBLE voice as if sitting beside me to the left that said He was Jesus along with-

Christ has indeed been raised from the dead-1Cor15.20 and John5.25 before I even knew them is

The LORD will cause men to hear his majestic voice-Is30.30


Father, glorify your Name!"

Then a voice came from heaven, "I have glorified it, and will glorify it again." 29The crowd that was there and heard it said it had thundered; others said an angel had spoken to him.

30Jesus said, "This voice was for your benefit, not mine.



posted on May, 3 2010 @ 11:41 PM
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Hi Giovanni--

You are incorrect about the Greek canonical gospels being 'factual' or 'historical' in their contents. Even a cursory read through them shows them to be what we to-day call PROPAGANDA along the lines of Rabinnic Haggadic Midrashic Expansions (legends) forged out of 'Messianic prophecies'

read e.g. what the 4th canonical Greek Gospel ('according to John' whoever he was) has to say on the subject:

THESE THINGS WERE WRITTEN SO THAT YOU MIGHT BELIEVE THAT IESOUS IS THE CHRISTOS, AND BY BELIEVING YOU MIGHT HAVE LIFE IN HIS NAME... ('John' 20:31 &tc.)

This is not the kind of language a modern historian uses when he speaks of his research. For example, in a high school text book, we do not usually find (e.g. on a section about the woman's sufferage movement in the Edwardian period)

THESE THINGS HAVE BEEN WRITTEN SO THAT STUDENTS MIGHT BELIEVE THAT ALL HUMAN FEMALES SHOULD ALWAYS HAVE THE SAME CIVIL RIGHTS AS ALL HUMAN MALES ON THIS PLANET AND BY BELIEVING THAT THEY ARE FULLY EQUAL IN ALL RESPECTS, THEY SHOULD BE TREATED WITH MORE RESPECT NOWADAYS...

In fact, scholars have been studying the gospels for more than 200 years in the mangled Greek texts of the so-called New Testament (5446 Greek MSS, no two alike) and have found interesting parallels with II Kings chapter 2 through chapter 6, in the so-called Elishaq' (Elisha) narratives (another Galilean northern Israelite prophet) which are arranged like the gospels into smallish miracle stories called PERICOPES each with a beginning, a middle and an end. Also there are similar pronouncement stories where some villain gets his comeuppance &tc.

We see the gospels trying to Out-Elisha Elisha in many cases.

Whereas Elisha feeds 100 students with a single bowl of porridge, the greek speaking Iesous in the gospels feeds 5,000 men (and more women & chldren besides !) with some loaves and fish using a Rabinnic Midrashic expansion Technique mainly from select Messianic Hebrew and Aramaic writings, in this case, Proverbs 10:21 &tc.)

Whereas Elisha causes the axe head to float, the Greek speaking Iesous walks on water...quite a clever trick even for a Rabbi....

Whereas Elisha raises the Shunamite widow's son from the dead by 'laying his lips on his lips, his hands on his hands, and his mouth on his mouth and his eyes on his eyes', the Greek speaking Iesous (in the 4th gospel) merely shouts a command, ELEAZAR (Lazarus) come forward !! without having to do the mouth to mouth thingy.

Etcetera...almost to point out the gospel propaganda message (which would NOT be lost on 1st century Messianic minded Jews, who were versed in the Hebrew Scriptures, even in Greek Translations so the ones spread abroad could read and understand them) 'Something Greater than Elishaq' is here...
'
Moreover, Midrash (not 'pure historical facts') lay at the bottom of the format and source material for the canonical Greek Gospel material, especially the socalled narrative portions - where a Hebrew or Aramaic text is 'enlarged' to form a story. Where the Greek prophecy is bent or mis translated (e.g. the 1st canonical Greek gospel's version of the Entrance into Jerusalem on TWO animals from an aramaic targum of Zechariah 9:9 which mis translated the poetical verses), the story is likewise bent way out of shape

Aramaic targum and LXX of Zech 9:9 Rejoice greatly O Daughter of Zion, Shout o Daughter of Jerusalem, for behold, your KING is coming to you, lowly and endowed with Salvation - upon a Donky, AND a foal of an ass

(the Hebrew is better understood as "thy king is coming to you lowly, sitting upon an ass, yea, even upon a donkey, the foal of an ass !" meaning ONE animal -- but tell that to the anonymous writer of the 1st Greek Canonical Gospel ('Matthew' whoever he was) !! He thinks the good Rebbe marched into town on TWO animals just because his mistranslated junky texts said so !!

This, again, is NOT the way history is generally written

In other words, we don't print acounts of the 14 April 1865 assassination of Lincoln by including an account of the Presidet jumping on to the stage from the Ford Theatre balcony because of some purported ancient prophecy that might have said, for example 'The Tall One shall Leap Like an Hart on that Day..."

But that is what we see in the Canonical Greek Council Approved Gospels vis a vis Iesous:

Here are some pips for those who might not be aware of what a Hagaddic Midrash even is:

In that Day, the Kings of Tarshish and of the isles shall briing presents
The Rulers of Sheba and Saba shall offer gifts
Yea the gold of Sheba shall be presented to him (Psalm 72:10, 15)

And in that day, the Gentiles will come to thy light
and Kings to the Brightness of thy rising (Isaiah 60:3)

sound familar?

And EL sent an Angel to Jerusalem to destroy it; and as he was about to genocide them call, YHWH looked and behold he saw, and lo, he repented of the evil: And YHWH commanded the Angel who was about to strike saying, IT IS ENOUGH STAY THY HAND ! And...David and all the elders of the house of Yisro'el fell upon their faces, and YHWH spake again to the Angel AND HE TOLD HIM TO PUT HIS SWORD BACK INTO ITS SHEATH.

remember the little Ear Slicing incident on the Hill at the Arrest?

'In that Day the dead shall rise again, and the corpses shall live !
Awake therefore and shout, all ye who dwell in the dust
for the Earth shall cast forth its dead
even at the time of the dew of the morn !" (Proto Isaiah 26:19-20)

we read e.g. in the 1st Gospel 'and there was an earthquake and many of the those who slept in their graves were seen walking around...'
('Matthew' 27:52-53)

This is hardly historical facts we are dealing with, but midrashic legends which were designed to show the 1st century Jewish Messianic followers that they were living 'in the last days...'

We also see scenes of pathetic fallacy (weather mirroring tragedy) in the Passion narratives:

see Amos 8:9

And it shall come about in that Day says the clan-god YHWH:
That I shall make the Sun to go down at Noon
Yea, I shall make the land dark, even in broad daylight !

[cf: the 2nd canonical Greek Gospel 'according to Mark' - whoever he was) 'and lo, it was about the 6th hour (=noon) and behold, darkness was upon the land, and Jesous cried with a loud voice...'

The gospels also use material NOT found in what later became the Old Testament (i.e. after 138 CE) - e.g. the pericope about 'Judas' (R. Yehuda bar Shimeon, Ish Keyriah = Judas Iscariot) being conspicuously missing after the 'last supper's roll-call of the 12'

'Sorrowful unto Death is that Man to whom his Best Friend has Betrayed...'
(Wisdom of Solomon, Chapter 1 verse 13)

sound familiar?

Or read about the so-called Transfiguration pericope in the canonical Gospels, and try to remember the verses that lay behind the text in midrashic fashion (certainly we are NOT dealing with pure history here, but Legendary haggaddic Midrashic Expansion of verses that had a message to them...here are only SOME of the Hebrew verses that the Transfiguration Legend was built upon:

'On that Day, YHWH shall create upon ALL THE TABERNACLES of Zion,
a CLOUD of SMOKE by day and a FLAME OF FIRE by night, that there might be a PLACE OF PROTECTION FOR the GLORY, and a TABERNACLE FOR THE SHADE and a COVERT against STORM AND RAIN:

Send forth THY LIGHT and thy Truth, and LEAD ME TO THY MOUNTAIN to a place FAR HIGHER THAN I AM - I shall ABIDE IN THY TABERNACLE FOREVER - for THOU ART MY SHELTER !

Even in a Vision that a man who falls down PROSTRATE, WHO DREAMS WITH HIS EYES OPEN - I SEE HIM, BUT NOT NOW - I BEHOLD HIM, BUT HE IS FLEEING AWAY - HOW GLORIOUS ARE THY TABERNACLES O JACOB, HOW BEAUTIFUL THY TENTS !

But WHO SHALL ABIDE THE DAY OF HIS COMING? HE IS LIKE A REFINER'S FIRE, HIS GLORY AS WHITE AS ANY FULLER'S SOAP !

Just always remember: 'Midrash, NOT history' with the Gospels !!



posted on May, 4 2010 @ 03:33 AM
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I have found a blog written by Joel Stephen Williamswhich i think has alot of merit...

"Since many have undertaken to set down an orderly account of the events that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed on to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word, I too decided, after investigating everything carefully from the very first, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the truth concerning the things about which you have been instructed (Lk. 1: 14; NRSV).

Was the real Jesus of history one and the same as the Christ of faith whom we read about in the New Testament and worship in the church? Was Jesus really raised from the dead? Is he really the divine Lord of lords? Or is it possible that the portrait of the divine Son of God is an exaggeration, at best, or a complete fabrication, at worst, of the original Jesus? Could the one whom Christians worship be merely a mythological creation or is he real?

These questions have exercised many great minds and have been the dominant issue in New Testament studies during this century. Between 1910 and 1950 approximately 350 lives of Jesus were published in the English language alone. Since then the numbers have increased significantly. 1 Not only are Christians writing about Jesus, but also Communists, Jews, atheists and agnostics are taking up their pens to paint a portrait of Jesus. Not only is this being done by the professional scholars, but also by playwrights, journalists and many others not academically qualified to pursue such a study within the canons and controls of proper historical enquiry.

This has led Luke Timothy Johnson of Emory University to refer to some studies of Jesus as "Amateur Night."2 With a literature this immense it is obvious that we can only note a few high points in the lesson today, but a bibliography at the end of the booklet provides sufficient resources for a more thorough investigation by those who are interested.
In the past decade these questions have escaped the confines of scholarly journals and scholarly discussions and exploded on the scene as a question of newsworthy interest equal to wars, politics and sports. We are used to seeing world leaders on the cover of national news magazines, but Jesus has been making the cover of Time, Newsweek, and U. S. News & World Report with increasing regularity. Jesus has become the central character of musical and theatrical productions. We are used to seeing television documentaries on Hitler, Roosevelt or Einstein, but Jesus is the subject of numerous similar productions in the past decade.

Why the upsurge of interest? Why is a 2,000 year old story suddenly newsworthy? Unfortunately the media has been used, even manipulated, by a group of liberal, skeptical scholars to attempt a major act of historical revision. Too many of these media studies of Jesus imply that New Testament scholarship as a whole has come to certain conclusions about Jesus. These conclusions are that Jesus was not divine, that he performed no miracles, that he was not raised from the dead, and that the Christ of faith is a mythological creation of the early church.
We are told that Jesus never did most of what the New Testament says he did and that he never said most of what the New Testament says he said. We are told that the Jesus who is worshipped in the churches is a figment of the naive, albeit pious, imagination of unsophisticated people. As Robert Funk, the founder of the Jesus Seminar, claims: "The only Jesus most people want is the mythic one. They don't want the real Jesus. They want the one they can worship."3
Religious news is not usually very good for selling papers. It is boring unless there is a scandal to report. " Continued - -



posted on May, 4 2010 @ 03:35 AM
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continued - -

The members of the Jesus Seminar have been quite newsworthy, though. Where else will you get one who is supposed to be a university scholar of the Christian religion saying something like this: "[Jesus was very likely] a party animal, somewhat shiftless, and disrespectful of the fifth commandment: Honor your father and mother." 4 The impression has been given that university scholars are exposing the gullibility of churches and ministers. The Jesus Seminar members have portrayed themselves as martyrs for truth against an evil empire—the church. That makes good press. But the tragic part of it all is that many casual observers are fooled by the rhetoric, and they reject Jesus as a result.
A balanced view of what can be known and what can be believed about Jesus is not being heard in much of the media. Because of "the sometimes grandiose claims made" by and for the skeptical, radical historical reconstructionists "as representing critical New Testament scholarship," other New Testament scholars have gone on the attack and responded that the Jesus Seminar, and others like them, do not represent New Testament scholarship as a whole. That remark was made by a professor from Emory.5 Another recognized New Testament scholar called them "an academic disgrace."6 A professor from Duke University said the case argued by the Jesus Seminar would not stand up in any court. He said that "many of its novel claims are at best dubious."7 Many similar sentiments could be produced.
The public on the whole is confused. Believers tend to dismiss these historical revisions of Jesus but without much real understanding of what is being said or how these scholars reach such skeptical
conclusions. Unbelievers often accept these denials of the divinity of our Lord, assuming that they are valid, reasoned, sound historical conclusions of scholars and that anyone who believes in Jesus is simply naive. Because of this situation in our society at present, it is hoped that this pamphlet will bring some clarity to the issues and encourage faith in Christ for the reader.
The Two Extremes
One extreme in this debate is a radical skepticism. Ever since the publication of the writings of H. S. Reimarus in 1778, the belief of the church that Jesus was and is the Christ, the divine Son of God, born of a virgin, pre-existent deity incarnate in human flesh, worker of miracles, crucified for our sins, and resurrected to glory, has been under constant attack. The story of Jesus is undergoing a constant, radical reconstruction at the hands of skeptical critics. This revision of the portrait of Jesus claims to get behind the later embellishments of the original story to present the real Jesus of history. It is claimed that the Christ of faith, the Christ preached and worshipped in the churches, bears little resemblance to the real Jesus of history. The simple story of a Galilean peasant was supposedly enlarged and transformed into the story of a divine being.
The skeptical critics believe we can know almost nothing about the real Jesus of history. Dr. W. R. Inge, the former Dean of St. Paul's Cathedral, was supposedly asked by a publisher to write a life of Jesus. He responded: "As there are no materials for a life of Christ, I regret that I cannot comply with your request."8 Similarly, Rudolf Bultmann, the leading scholar of this century in demythologizing the story of Jesus, declared: "I do indeed think that we can now know almost nothing concerning the life and personality of Jesus."9
What needs to be understood very clearly is that this radical, skeptical way of thinking about Jesus did not come about due to some archeological discovery. It did not result from some historical document, like the Dead Sea Scrolls, which called into question the picture of Jesus in the four Gospels. Continued - -



posted on May, 4 2010 @ 03:37 AM
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continued - -
. It did not come into existence because something was discovered in the biblical text which disproved what the church had always thought about Jesus. The skeptical view of Jesus is a historical reconstruction which is theory, and a tenuous one at that, which is based on certain presuppositions. The skeptics begin by affirming that there are no miracles, nothing supernatural in this world. Therefore, the story of Jesus cannot be true. They approach the text under the guise of doing dispassionate, unbiased historical research, when from the beginning the game has been fixed.
Critical study forms theories and then tests those theories against the evidence to see which theory best explains the evidence. The theory that Jesus actually was the divine Son of God is never given a chance to explain the evidence, because a presupposition eliminates it from consideration before the test even begins. Thus the skeptical critics offer a variety of alternative explanations, most of which can be summarized under one, single concept, their belief that the early church embellished the story of the real Jesus of history with later additions. They believe it is the critic's job to peal away those later additions and expose the small kernel of truth that remains.
Since an anti-supernatural presupposition has skewed the skeptic's research from the beginning, it is not surprising that different scholars find a different Jesus at the conclusion of their study. They are like people who look into a pool of water and observe a reflection of their own image. The Jesus they rediscover is different from the Jesus of the four Gospels. He is also different from the reconstruction of other critics, but he is very much like the Jesus each of the critics wants to find. Claude Montefiore, a liberal Jew, discovers that the real Jesus was a liberal Jew. Another writer finds a Jesus who advocates "living at ease" and "floating in the womb of the universe," the perfect Jesus for a new age world.10 Others find a politically correct Jesus who crusades for women's rights and the poor in a countercultural egalitarianism. And, of course, we must admit that many Christians begin with traditional presuppositions. Not surprisingly they find the traditional Christ after a simple study which has not really confronted the problems and issues at hand.
The Jesus Seminar has warned others against finding a comfortable Jesus. That is good advice which the members of the Jesus Seminar should have heeded themselves. When E. V. Rieu began a translation of the Gospels, his son is reported to have said: "It will be very interesting to see what Father makes of the Gospel,"11 It is very interesting to see what many have made of the Gospels. Most find the Jesus that they want to find. Their reconstructions often tell us more about the historian than they do about Jesus. One of the most damaging criticisms of these liberal reconstructions of the real Jesus of history is from the pen of William Temple, Archbishop of Canterbury, who said: "Why anyone should have troubled to crucify the Christ of Liberal Protestantism has always been a mystery."'12 Similarly, one of the greatest Jesus scholars of our generation, the Roman Catholic John Meier, said that "a bland Jesus who simply told people to look at the lilies of the field—such a Jesus would threaten no one, just as the university professors who create him threaten no one."13 continued - -



posted on May, 4 2010 @ 03:38 AM
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The other extreme which we need to avoid is a naive, untested, unexamined faith. When confronted with difficulties in the biblical text or with the limitations of historical knowledge, this type of faith responds: "Well the Bible says it and I believe it and that settles it!" This type of faith is often a faith inherited from one's parents. It is sufficient for some people for a whole lifetime, but for others it will not last. Some Christians with such a naive faith are unable to handle a setting such as what many of you face on a daily basis on a state university campus. You and I both have seen too many people with a naive faith simply walk away from the church at some point in their adult life. The cause for a sudden change to disbelief is often nothing more than a brief encounter with an aggressive, skeptical person who throws one or two challenges their way which they cannot handle.
Maybe many of these are what Ravi Zacharias calls the "silent doubters in our midst." Zacharias says we need to answer their questions first before we attempt to evangelize the world. And we will not answer the ones among us who are questioning if we simply say: "Just believe." If historical arguments are being used to deny Christianity, historical arguments must be used to defend the faith. Naively protesting "that historical study is irrelevant" will not do.14 As the great scholar, J. B. Lightfoot, declared: "The abnegation of reason is not the evidence of faith, but the confession of despair. "15
One minister's discussion of the origin of the four Gospels is an example of a tendency in this direction. He explains that most New Testament scholars postulate that Mark was written first and that it was used as a source for Matthew and Luke. Matthew and Luke are much longer than Mark, however, so they must have obtained other information from other sources. The extra material which they have in common is called "Q" ("Q" being the first letter of the German word for "source"). This material is primarily the sayings of Jesus. Whether the source for these sayings was a written document or oral tradition is very much a matter of debate among scholars. The other material in Matthew is identified as "M" for Matthew's private source, and "L" likewise for Luke.
This minister then ridicules this whole scenario: "Some who claim to believe that the Bible is inspired of God have accepted these ideas to explain how God (?) got His word to man." How does he respond to these theories? Does he note that Luke tells us in his prologue that others had written before him? Does this preacher note that Luke tells us that he researched these earlier sources and investigated the information in order to write the Gospel of Luke (Lk. 1 :1-4)? No. He quotes a passage from Jeremiah and another from the New Testament which are irrelevant. He simply says that the Bible is inspired. His message seems to be: "Just believe the Bible because the Bible tells you it is God's word."
Continued - -



posted on May, 4 2010 @ 03:39 AM
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conitnued -
This approach to faith is similar to the proverbial preacher who was told that Moses and the children of Israel did not cross through the Red Sea, but the "sea of reeds."16 Upon hearing this the preacher supposedly proclaimed: "Praise God! It is an even greater miracle. God drowned the Egyptian army in two inches of water." It is a sad fact that radical, skeptical historical revisionists like the Jesus Seminar gain credibility because they contrast themselves with this sort of naive faith in fundamentalism. As Luke Timothy Johnson says in regard to many in fundamentalism: "The Bible is less a text to be read than a talisman to be invoked. The fundamentalists' claim to take the literal meaning of the New Testament seriously is controverted by their neglect of any careful or sustained reading."17
So a more acceptable approach, which avoids both the extremes of radical skepticism and a naive faith, is to approach the New Testament documents with an open mind, ready and willing to ask any question in our search for truth. We must be willing to ask if there are legitimate reasons for believing what the Bible has to say about Jesus. Is blind faith the only option? Are the skeptics right in saying that the only person who can believe is either a naive person or one who is closed minded and unwilling to examine the facts? I submit to you that reasonable faith is a viable option for the truth seeker today.
What Can Be Known About Jesus From History?
We cannot prove everything in the Bible. The New Testament is almost 2,000 years old. The real Jesus lived 2,000 years ago. There are limitations to what one can know through historical inquiry. People are still in sharp disagreement over events which happened within the lifetime of many of us such as the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. How much more so is it going to be difficult to speak conclusively concerning a person who lived 2,000 years ago. But while the limitations of history do not allow us to speak absolutely, they do not prevent our speaking of possibilities and probabilities.
The remarkable thing about this whole controversy is that the skeptical revisionists reject almost in totality what the four Gospels say about Jesus, but they then write a new history of Jesus which is based upon surmise, speculation and theory. Their Jesus is supposedly based on the very same Gospels they have rejected. They are "insisting on discovering history where it cannot be found."18 If, for example, I cannot prove the virgin birth of Jesus through historical analysis, is it not also true that someone else cannot disprove the virgin birth of Jesus by the same method? Both of us can only speak of possibilities and probabilities. What is even more ridiculous about the Jesus Seminar and several other radical revisionists is that they accept the Gospel of Thomas as an equal or better source for information about Jesus than Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. The Gospel of Thomas is from the mid-second century or later and is possibly Gnostic. It is noncanonical, probably heretical in origin and dated fifty to one hundred years later than the four Gospels. How in the name of common sense can anyone equate it as a historical source to the four Gospels?
Continued - -



posted on May, 4 2010 @ 03:41 AM
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continued - -
Much of the gospel story lies beyond the reach of historical inquiry. For example, it can be established quite firmly as a historical fact that a man named Jesus was crucified in the early first century. What cannot be established as historical fact, because it lies outside the bounds of such analysis, is that Jesus died for our sins and thereby made atonement for mankind to God. While it is important that the Christ of Christian faith be the same as and consistent with the real Jesus of history, the Christ of faith is the living Lord of whom we must say much more than we can say in a strict, limited historical sense about Jesus.
But what arguments from history can be made about Jesus? Only the barest of sketches can be allowed here. I do not have sufficient time to go into the details of literary criticism, form criticism, redaction criticism, and historical methodology. Neither is there time to survey the literature on crucial questions such as the dating of New Testament documents, the authorship of the four Gospels, the canon of the New Testament, the evidence for Jesus outside the New Testament,19 and other equally important and related issues. But here hopefully one can be pointed in the right direction for further study.
The four Gospels are a combination of history and commentary. They are history written from the post-resurrection perspective of faith which adds interpretation to the events in light of a fuller understanding of them from a later period of time. The Gospels are religious propaganda designed to convert the reader. Let us be honest and admit that the Gospels are biased in favor of Jesus. But the Gospels are not useless in searching for the real Jesus of history just because they are written by insiders. Their favorable attitude toward Jesus and Christianity does require that they be studied carefully in light of what they are and cross-examined for their integrity, but they need not be rejected without a hearing. A good historian knows how to cross examine evidence, separating what is reliable from what is unreliable.One key point in cross-examining the story of the four Gospels is their date. Skeptics tend to date the Gospels as late as possible, because this allows more time for their theory that most of the story of Jesus was invented by the early church. Conservatives tend to date the Gospels as early as possible, because this places them within the lifetime of eyewitnesses who would be on hand to verify their contents. Actually we are not able to date any of the four Gospels precisely. It is possible that one of them was written as early as the late 50s and that one of them was written as late as the 90s. Within that range no one can speak with any certainty, even though many scholars pontificate and pretend to be certain.
Continued - -



posted on May, 4 2010 @ 03:42 AM
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Continued - -
In my opinion it is likely that the first Gospel, Mark, was written in the 60s. Matthew and Luke were probably written sometime within the next twenty years. John was likely last. Even though honesty does not permit us to assign a specific date, the news is good for those who want to believe in the traditional Christ of faith. All of the Gospels are from the first century, as is the rest of the New Testament. All of it is very close in time to the events which they narrate and interpret. And even though the skeptics attempt to dismiss the presence of any eyewitnesses among the writers of the New Testament, that is not so easily done.20
There is more good news, though, which shrinks this time frame considerably. The Gospels are based, in part, on earlier information, either oral or written. Luke tells us at the beginning of his Gospel that others had "undertaken to set down an orderly account of the events that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed on to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word" (Lk. 1:1-2). So while the skeptical critics carry on long and loud about sources they think they have detected within the Gospels or other New Testament documents, that is not bad news for the historical Jesus. Most source criticism is theory. It is speculation built on top of speculation. Much of it might be right, or almost all of it might be wrong. But if we are concerned about the accuracy of the information regarding Jesus in the Gospels, the presence of sources behind the Gospels is good news. If Mark wrote his Gospel in the 60s and Matthew and Luke sometime in the next decade or two after that, they are removed by a mere thirty-five or so years from the death and resurrection of Jesus. If they used sources of information which go back another ten, twenty or more years, that is even closer to the time of the event. There is less time available for any potential corruption and distortion of the message to occur, and certainly not enough time for a complete myth to evolve.
Continued - -



posted on May, 4 2010 @ 03:43 AM
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Continued - -
It is almost unanimously believed among New Testament scholars today that Mark's Gospel was written first and that the Gospel of Matthew and the Gospel of Luke used Mark as a source. There is a significant portion of material which Matthew and Luke share in common which is not found in Mark. This material is labeled "Q" from the German word for "source." No one knows whether this information was written down or whether is was merely passed along by word of mouth in oral tradition. The similar wording suggests to some that it was in written form, or possibly in several written forms. Let us for the sake of argument date Matthew and Luke in the 70s. They both may have been written a decade before or after, but let us put them in the 70s which is not an extreme date in either direction. When did the so-called "Q" traditions originate? In the 60s? In the 50s? In the 40s? Or possibly as early as the 30s? Once again this puts us extremely close to the time of the actual events. It is also a matter of scholarly discussion as to whether or not Matthew and Luke had other sources. Most conclude that they did. Once again this pushes the origin of these traditions back closer to the time of their occurrence.
The writings of Paul, which are almost all dated in the 50s and 60s, show evidence of earlier sources. While Paul's apostleship and his encounter with the living Christ were the result of a direct revelation from God, Paul conferred with eyewitnesses and received information about Jesus from them. In about 55 A.D. in 1 Corinthians Paul writes about the last supper, quoting the very words of Jesus (1 Cor. 11:23-26). This was done possibly ten years or more before any of the Gospels were written and a mere twenty-five years after the event. Furthermore, Paul reminded the Corinthian church: "For I handed on to you as of first importance what I in turn had received" (1 Cor. 15:3). This takes us back to the 30s to the time of Paul's conversion, only a few years after the resurrection of Jesus. Paul was in contact with eyewitnesses and first generation Christians everywhere he went. Thus it is apparent, except to the person who begins with a skeptical attitude, that the stories and traditions about Jesus were known and recorded a very short time after they occurred.
Let us draw an analogy. The distance of time from today in the year 2,000 to World War II is as great or greater than the distance in time from the ministry of Jesus to the writing of most of the books of the New Testament. And we have already noted, many of them are much earlier and they are built on information which predates them, sometimes by decades. But working with a fifty-five to sixty year time span, how many of you were involved in the war effort, either as a soldier or a civilian? How many of you were old enough to listen to the radio during the war or read the newspaper? How many of you have a parent who fits into one of these first two categories? How many of you have a grandparent who fits into one of the first two categories? Imagine how difficult it would be to fictionalize a whole life story, a series of events and a body of teaching, as if it all happened in the heart of Europe in the 1940s. If I attempted to do that and pass it off as fact, people all around could expose my deceit.
Continued - -



posted on May, 4 2010 @ 03:44 AM
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continued - -
What Can Be Known About Jesus From History?
We cannot prove everything in the Bible. The New Testament is almost 2,000 years old. The real Jesus lived 2,000 years ago. There are limitations to what one can know through historical inquiry. People are still in sharp disagreement over events which happened within the lifetime of many of us such as the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. How much more so is it going to be difficult to speak conclusively concerning a person who lived 2,000 years ago. But while the limitations of history do not allow us to speak absolutely, they do not prevent our speaking of possibilities and probabilities.
The remarkable thing about this whole controversy is that the skeptical revisionists reject almost in totality what the four Gospels say about Jesus, but they then write a new history of Jesus which is based upon surmise, speculation and theory. Their Jesus is supposedly based on the very same Gospels they have rejected. They are "insisting on discovering history where it cannot be found."18 If, for example, I cannot prove the virgin birth of Jesus through historical analysis, is it not also true that someone else cannot disprove the virgin birth of Jesus by the same method? Both of us can only speak of possibilities and probabilities. What is even more ridiculous about the Jesus Seminar and several other radical revisionists is that they accept the Gospel of Thomas as an equal or better source for information about Jesus than Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. The Gospel of Thomas is from the mid-second century or later and is possibly Gnostic. It is noncanonical, probably heretical in origin and dated fifty to one hundred years later than the four Gospels. How in the name of common sense can anyone equate it as a historical source to the four Gospels?
Much of the gospel story lies beyond the reach of historical inquiry. For example, it can be established quite firmly as a historical fact that a man named Jesus was crucified in the early first century. What cannot be established as historical fact, because it lies outside the bounds of such analysis, is that Jesus died for our sins and thereby made atonement for mankind to God. While it is important that the Christ of Christian faith be the same as and consistent with the real Jesus of history, the Christ of faith is the living Lord of whom we must say much more than we can say in a strict, limited historical sense about Jesus.
But what arguments from history can be made about Jesus? Only the barest of sketches can be allowed here. I do not have sufficient time to go into the details of literary criticism, form criticism, redaction criticism, and historical methodology. Neither is there time to survey the literature on crucial questions such as the dating of New Testament documents, the authorship of the four Gospels, the canon of the New Testament, the evidence for Jesus outside the New Testament,19 and other equally important and related issues. But here hopefully one can be pointed in the right direction for further study.



posted on May, 4 2010 @ 03:46 AM
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I can continue with his post should you want... But id like your opinion so far in regards to the OP original sentiment... U2U me if you want the complete post..



posted on May, 4 2010 @ 06:50 AM
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Originally posted by Gabriel_
I can continue with his post should you want... But id like your opinion so far in regards to the OP original sentiment...


My opinion is character limits were instituted for a reason, so that posters would perhaps be steered into a dialogue instead of a monologue. The only way to respond is by at least an equally long post if not longer. I've done this before, even on this thread and so far it has gone unaddressed (so perhaps you can understand my reluctance to do so again). If it's a copy of someone's blog, post a link. Sure, I can monologue a bunch of statements, but to be progressive, it's helpful to discuss one point at a time. Continue on with the street preaching if you like, I'm seeking a more interactive experience.


Originally posted by Gabriel_U2U me if you want the complete post..


Already ready for copy-paste eh? Nice.

[edit on 4-5-2010 by saint4God]



posted on May, 4 2010 @ 07:06 AM
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reply to post by saint4God
 


Sure This was long winded I agree as I am not yet sure how to post links and all, but your response with all due respect brings no contribution either except a feeble attempt to bypass the points raised in conjunction to the OP.



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