Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Did a historical Jesus exist? by Jim Walker

SHOOT: An excellent, incisive article.

What appears most revealing of all, comes not from what people later wrote about Jesus but what people did not write about him. Consider that not a single historian, philosopher, scribe or follower who lived before or during the alleged time of Jesus ever mentions him!
If, indeed, the Gospels portray a historical look at the life of Jesus, then the one feature that stands out prominently within the stories shows that people claimed to know Jesus far and wide, not only by a great multitude of followers but by the great priests, the Roman governor Pilate, and Herod who claims that he had heard "of the fame of Jesus" (Matt 14:1)". One need only read Matt: 4:25 where it claims that "there followed him [Jesus] great multitudes of people from Galilee, and from Decapolis, and from Jerusalem, and from Judea, and from beyond Jordan." The gospels mention, countless times, the great multitude that followed Jesus and crowds of people who congregated to hear him. So crowded had some of these gatherings grown, that Luke 12:1 alleges that an "innumerable multitude of people... trode one upon another." Luke 5:15 says that there grew "a fame abroad of him: and great multitudes came together to hear..." The persecution of Jesus in Jerusalem drew so much attention that all the chief priests and scribes, including the high priest Caiaphas, not only knew about him but helped in his alleged crucifixion. (see Matt 21:15-23, 26:3, Luke 19:47, 23:13). The multitude of people thought of Jesus, not only as a teacher and a miracle healer, but a prophet (see Matt:14:5).

So here we have the gospels portraying Jesus as famous far and wide, a prophet and healer, with great multitudes of people who knew about him, including the greatest Jewish high priests and the Roman authorities of the area, and not one person records his existence during his lifetime? If the poor, the rich, the rulers, the highest priests, and the scribes knew about Jesus, who would not have heard of him?
Then we have a particular astronomical event that would have attracted the attention of anyone interested in the "heavens." According to Luke 23:44-45, there occurred "about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour, and the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was rent in the midst." Yet not a single mention of such a three hour ecliptic event got recorded by anyone, including the astronomers and astrologers, anywhere in the world, including Pliny the Elder and Seneca who both recorded eclipses from other dates. Note also that, for obvious reasons, solar eclipses can't occur during a full moon (passovers always occur during full moons), Nor does a single contemporary person write about the earthquake described in Matthew 27:51-54 where the earth shook, rocks ripped apart (rent), and graves opened.

Matthew 2 describes Herod and all of Jerusalem as troubled by the worship of the infant Jesus. Herod then had all of the children of Bethlehem slain. If such extraordinary infanticides of this magnitude had occurred, why didn't anyone write about it?
Some apologists attempt to dig themselves out of this problem by claiming that there lived no capable historians during that period, or due to the lack of education of the people with a writing capacity, or even sillier, the scarcity of paper gave reason why no one recorded their "savior." But the area in and surrounding Jerusalem served, in fact, as the center of education and record keeping for the Jewish people. The Romans, of course, also kept many records. Moreover, the gospels mention scribes many times, not only as followers of Jesus but the scribes connected with the high priests. And as for historians, there lived plenty at the time who had the capacity and capability to record, not only insignificant gossip, but significant events, especially from a religious sect who drew so much popular attention through an allegedly famous and infamous Jesus.

Take, for example, the works of Philo Judaeus whose birth occurred in 20 B.C.E. and died 50 C.E. He lived as the greatest Jewish-Hellenistic philosopher and historian of the time and lived in the area of Jerusalem during the alleged life of Jesus. He wrote detailed accounts of the Jewish events that occurred in the surrounding area. Yet not once, in all of his volumes of writings, do we read a single account of a Jesus "the Christ." Nor do we find any mention of Jesus in Seneca's (4? B.C.E. - 65 C.E.) writings, nor from the historian Pliny the Elder (23? - 79 C.E.).

If, indeed, such a well known Jesus existed, as the gospels allege, does any reader here think it reasonable that, at the very least, the fame of Jesus would not have reached the ears of one of these men?

Amazingly, we have not one Jewish, Greek, or Roman writer, even those who lived in the Middle East, much less anywhere else on the earth, who ever mention him during his supposed life time. This appears quite extraordinary, and you will find few Christian apologists who dare mention this embarrassing fact.

To illustrate this extraordinary absence of Jesus Christ literature, just imagine going through nineteenth century literature looking for an Abraham Lincoln but unable to find a single mention of him in any writing on earth until the 20th century. Yet straight-faced Christian apologists and historians want you to buy a factual Jesus out of a dearth void of evidence, and rely on nothing but hearsay written well after his purported life. Considering that most Christians believe that Jesus lived as God on earth, the Almighty gives an embarrassing example for explaining his existence. You'd think a Creator might at least have the ability to bark up some good solid evidence.

Read the rest of this excellent article here.


Anonymous said...

your article is built upon a fallcey therefore logically cannot be true. Your words :What appears most revealing of all, comes not from what people later wrote about Jesus but what people did not write about him.

– to argue about who doesn't mention a thing is to fallaciously to argue from silence. And you can make up anything in your own self-made vaccuum of silence. very point you made I can argue against. if you want me to I would like to show how poor reasoned this is and the facts dont line up with what you say. I will wait to here back before proceeding.

Nick van der Leek said...

I'm afraid you can use fancy words like "fallaciously" but it remains very simple - no one, not Jewish scribes, nor historians, no one wrote about a man called Jesus while he was alive. Many wrote about other men, and we know their lives in detail, one being Herod the great, and philosophers like Josephus. What we do 'allegedly know about Jesus - was written decades after he supposedly lived. Hence, we're not even sure what jesus's real name was, or when exactly (what month, what year) he was born. That sounds like someone who is made up, like Robin Hood. The authors of the Bible, not a single one identify themselves beyond avatars. Matthew who? Luke who? Nobody knows. Would you believe a story written by a journalist who simple calls himself Rick, making extraiordinary claims of immaculate conceptions, miracles and other events that have never been seen, verified or witnessed elsewhere? Not sure about your standards, but I wouldn't. The Bible was written to give a landless nation a mobile coda, a deed to a land they weren't able to fight for and win. Thus they claimed themselves God's only chosen people, and that God had given them the land. The crazy irony is that this composite of myths led to Christianity, and Christians later gave that land back to them, hence the conflict that continues today. Israel never won the land based on might, but based on writing a title deed. Most Jews are atheists, and a very very small amount are Christian. More Arabs are Christians than Jews. Which means, if you are a Christian, Jews consider you a special type of schmuck. Thanks for your support, idiot. In other words.

Anonymous said...

it sucks when your argument is based on fallcey for it has no grounds. Virtually all modern scholars of antiquity agree that Jesus existed, and biblical scholars and classical historians regard theories of his non-existence as effectively refuted. Scholars generally agree that Jesus was a Galilean Jew who was born between 7 and 2 BC and died 30–36 AD.[ Most scholars hold that Jesus lived in Galilee and Judea and that he spoke Aramaic and may have also spoken Hebrew and GreekAlthough scholars differ on the reconstruction of the specific episodes of the life of Jesus, the two events whose historicity is subject to "almost universal assent" are that he was baptized by John the Baptist and was crucified by the order of the Roman Prefect Pontius Pilate.

By your logic Socrates does not exist because everything we know of Socrates comes from Plato, after Socrates death, Plato writes about him. We have no other information about Socrates accept through Plato and Plato wrights about Socrates and speak how many came out to listen to him and everyone in Athens new about him. Yet all we have on Socrates is after his death. Does it follow that Socrates does not exist? Here you have all the scholars, rules, normal people knew about him yet they never record anything during his life.” How odd isn’t it” I guess Socrates does not exist because everything is written about him is afterwards. Since the only reasonable conclusion we can come to according to you is that Socrates never existed. No one accepts the conclusion that Socrates never existed. Yet historians accept plato’s account that he existed but this is second hand account after his death. It is merely arbitrary to demand a different stander when it comes to the history of Jesus

You seem to be using stander that historians don’t uses themselves. The idea is that any second hand account is faulty , of course sometimes it is and sometimes it is not . Many famous historians of the people we consider to be historical is based on information from someone after they existed. To say that the only reason to believe that someone existed we must have evidence while they exist would force us into denial of many individuals such as Socrates, and others. Even Plato writes about Socrates well after his death near the end of Plato life and he live 80 some years that is decades after Socrates death.

Anonymous said...

The antiquites,one of Josephus major works, provides some valuable but disputed evidence concerning Jesus. Written around 90-95 ad it is earlier than the testimonies of the Roman historians. Josephus speaks about many persons and events of first century palestine and makes two references to Jesus. The first is very brief and it is in the context of a reference to James, the brother of Jesus, who was called the Christ. Here we find a close connection between Jesus and James and the belief on the part of some that Jesus was the Messiah. The second reference is easily the most important and the most debated, since some of the words appear to be due to Christian interpolation. since Josephus was jew, it is unlikely that he would have written about Jesus in this way. There are good indications that the majority of the text is genuine. There is no textual evidence against it, and, conversely, there is very good manuscript evidence for this statement about Jesus, thus making it difficult to ignore. Additionally, leading scholars on the works of Josephus have testified that this portion is written in the style of this Jewish historian. Thus we conclude that there are good reasons for accepting this version of Josephus statement about Jesus with modification of the questionable words. In fact, it is possible that these modifications can even be accurately ascertained. In 1972 professor Schlomo pines of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem released the results of a study on an Arabic manuscript containing Josephus statement about Jesus. It includes a different and briefer rendering of the entire passage, including changes in the key words

at this time there was wise man who was called Jesus. his conduct was good and (he)was known to be virtuous. Many people from among the Jews and the other nations became his disciples. Pilate condemned him to be crucified and to die. But those who had become his disciples did not abandon his discipleship. They reported that he had appeared to them three days after his crucifixion, and that he was alive. Accordingly he was perhaps the Messiah, concerning whom the prophets have recounted wonders.

Anonymous said...

of the three disputed portions, none remains unchanged. The initial problematic statement. " if it be lawful to call him a man" has been dropped completely, recounting only that Jesus was a wise man. The words " he was (the) Christ we find he was perhaps the Messiah. the phrase " He appeared to them the third day now read they reported that he had appeared to them which is entirely true statement which was voiced by the first century eyewitnesses. lastly, the statement that the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him" has been drastically reduced to concerning who the prophets have recounted wonders, which concerns the Messiah and possibly not even Jesus , according to Josephus. Therefore, while some words are completely deleted, other are qualified by perhaps and reported. There are some good reason why the Arabic version may indeed b the original words of Josephus before any Christian interpolations. As Schlomo Pines and David Flusser, of Hebrew university, have stated, it is quite plausible that none of the arguments agaist Josephus writing the original words even applies to the Arabic text, especially since the latter world have had less chance of being censored by the church. in addition, flusser notes that an earmark of authenticity comes from the fact that the Arabic version omits the accusation that the Jews were to blame for Jesus Death, which is included in the original reading. after an investigation of the question, Charlesworth explains his view that Josephus original version is both an interpolation and a redaction. But provides three reasons why Josephus till wrote most of the passage: some of the words are very difficult to assign to a Christian writer, the passage fits both grammatically and historically, and the brief reference to Jesus in Atiquitieas 20 seems to presuppose an earlier mention. Charlesworth concludes that the Arabic rescension is basically accurate, even if there are still few subtle Christian alterations. He concludes about the passage with some strong words: We can now be as certain as historical research will presently allow that Josephus did refer to Jesus, providing corroboration of the gospel account.

Josephus was a Jew,

Anonymous said...

The Talmud
The Jews handed down a large amount of oral tradition from generation to generation. This material was organized, to subject matter by Rabbi Akiba before his death in 135. his work was then revised by his student, Rabbi Meir. The project was completed about ad 200 by Rabbi Judah and is know as the Mishnah. Ancient commentary on the Mishnah was called the Gemaras. The combination of the mishna and the Gemaras form the Talmud. it would be expected that the most reliable information about Jesus from the talmud would come from the earliest period of compilation-AD 70 to 200, know as the Tannaitic period. A very significant quotation is found in Sanhedrin 43a, dating from just this early period: on the eve of the passover Yeshu was hanged. For forty days before the execution took place, a herald went forth and cried, He is going forth to be stoned because he has practiced sorcery and enticed Israel to apostasy. Any one who can say anything in his favour, let him come forward and plead on his behalf. But since nothing was brought forward in his favour he was hanged on the eve of the Passover.

Here we have another brief account of the death of Jesus. These two reference to Jesus being "hanged" certainly provid an interesting term to describe his death. But it should be noted that the New Testament speaks of Crucifixion in the same way. Jesus is said to have been hanged, (Gal 3:13) as were the two males killed at the same time Luke 23:39 while the term "crucified is a much more common reference to this event hanged is a variant expression of the same fate.
Why would the Jews make up something that never happened?

Further most historens believe that Jesus was really look it up.

Anonymous said...

even the the Jesus seminar who does not believe in Jesus as the son of God and says he was just a man does not say he dint exist in fact they claim he did. Further the Jesus seminar dines the non sense claim that Jesus was borrowed from other myths. Otto Pfleidere advocate for the mythical thesis he points out that myths cannot provide the direct cause for the resurrection apperances to the disciples, for these occurrence were real experience linked to historical facts and not legendary parallels. Even more persuasively, there is no known case of a mythical deity in the mystery religions where we have both clear and early evidence that a resurrection was taught prior to the late second century ad, obviously much later than then Christian message. lastly scholars now realize that there was very little influence from the mystery religions in first century Palestine. Micheal Gran notes Judaism was a Milieu to which doctrines of the deaths and rebirths of mythical gods seems so entirely foreign that the emergence of such a fabrication from its midst is very hard to credit.

Nick van der Leek said...

Virtually all modern scholars of antiquity agree that Jesus existed, and biblical scholars and classical historians regard theories of his non-existence as effectively refuted>>>do you realise how stupid you are? obviously a scholar isn't going to disbelieve himself out of a job. it would be like a comedian trying not to be funny, or to convince you that he isn't funny. obviously someone whose job it is to study Jesus is going to say he existed. which shows an uimmediate and blind bias. as I say - do you realise how stupid you are. did you get the memo that the earth is round, and not the centre of the universe, or do we still believe that because so does everyone else and reality is 'effectively refuted'. please.

Anonymous said...

looks like you got nothing "ouch" that must suck a lot. Further historens of the time and age don't just study Jesus they study roman and Palestine and seclur historians back this up look it up . Further you respond nothing to what I had said. just used fallacies know as ad hominem and Straw man fallacies as reposes. Ad Hominem is attacking the person and not the argument. Ad Hominem occurs when a person is attacked on personal quality that is irrelevant to the argument. poor logic is used. Straw man fallacies is a clever and subtle, but quite common, way of distortion and then attacking an opponent's argument. Someone using straw man will take his or her opponent's claim and exaggerate or distort them. In your own words: >do you realise how stupid you are? this is know as ad hominem it says nothing about the argument that was made, in fact you avoid the argument altogether

in your own words :obviously a scholar isn't going to disbelieve himself out of a job- this is straw man fallacy where you try to exaggerate or distort the argument. without deal with the argument or giving rational reposes. twist it. Fallices is poor way to respond because they are logical inconsistent and incoherent.

I would say at this point you cant defined what you are claiming and that's got to hurt a lot "och" you dint reposed to anything I had said in intellectual manor.

Nick van der Leek said...

thanks for your explanation on ad hominem. wow, I didn't know what that meant. duh! how old are you btw?