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The Gospels: biography, exaggerated stories or plagiarised myth?


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Initial post: 19 Mar 2011, 10:04:09 GMT
Last edited by the author on 19 Mar 2011, 10:10:03 GMT
Astonishing Credulity

Post from Notori.co.uk.

In the discussion group "The Bible is not the Word of God", a post was made with regard to the literature inside MML&J: which claimed: "It is historically factual. It is an eyewitness of Jesus' life and you cannot prove it isn't true".

I thought that this might be a good start point for a new discussion which questions the content of MML&J and the historicity of the Jesus character itself. I kick the discussion off with the response I gave to the claim that MML&J are eyewitness accounts:

I fervently disagree; we can prove it is categorically not true, and that the Jesus character is not even exaggerated legend, but that the character is complete fabrication. To begin with, conversely, we certainly cannot prove it is an eyewitness account of the life and death of a Jesus character; and, surviving ancient literature does exist which proves the MML&J stories to be reworked and enhanced versions of earlier ancient `Jesus' myth, not biographies. Please note I am claiming `Jesus' myth specifically not Osiris or Mithras, although these gods do form part of the same genre.

Before talking about the ancient literature, I will first point out a few items that should lead us to conclude we are indeed reading a story inside MML&J, not a historic biography.

Consider: Pilate's wife whispers a comment about Jesus into Pilate's ear while standing inside Pilate's palace; and we are told exactly what Pilate's wife said. How does the biographer now this?

Judas goes back to the temple and throws the 30 pieces of silver across the temple floor and has a discourse with the priests, he then leaves the temple and commits suicide. We are told the exact dialogue which took place. How can the biographer know this event even took place, let alone the dialogue?

The books of MML&J are riddled with such items, items a biographer cannot possibly know, and would not therefore be included in an "eyewitness" account of a person's life and death. An author writing a story however suffers no such restrictions and can create any scene, or as many concurrent scenes as they like, and give all of their characters what ever dialogue they choose to; which is indeed what we find within the pages of MML&J. The reverse construction of fulfilled Old Testament prophesies should also lead rational views toward the construct of a popular 'chosen one' story, as opposed to a biography.

Now for the ancient literature referred to earlier:

The First Epistle of Clement, which is currently incorrectly dated to 96 CE - and for good underhand reasons - when read critically reveals itself to be written some unknown timeframe before 70 CE at the very least. It talks in the present tense of worshiping and giving sacrifice in the temple of Jerusalem, and must therefore be pre 70 CE at the latest. Then it alludes to the fact that the Christian group writing the letter, and the Christian group receiving the letter have both been in existence for at least two generations. This places a Group known as Christians in both Rome and Corinth pre 30 CE, pre MML&J crucifixion scene!

The Epistle of Barnabas is dated, by the Church no less, to between 70 CE and 130 CE, but again, when read critically and properly, not devotionally, it clearly dates pre Roman Empire, circa 600 to 500 BCE, because it speaks of the temple in Jerusalem being reconstructed after a recent destruction. Other remarks in the text reveal a pre 70 CE authorship. The text cannot therefore be speaking of the 70 CE destruction, and must be speaking of the 586 BCE destruction and the circa 516 BCE reconstruction (this claim should cause some response in itself, and I stand ready for the flack).

Both the First Epistle of Clement and the Epistle of Barnabas, make absolute and positive references to, but in an allegorical sense only, the death and resurrection of a god called 'Jesus'; but they make no mention of any of the "biographical account" of a literal Jesus contained in the post 70 CE books of MML&J.

So, if the story of an allegorical dying and resurrecting god child called "Jesus" was circulating both decades and centuries before the alleged 30 CE crucifixion scene of the post 70 CE books of MML&J; then, MML&J cannot possibly be biographies! They can only be reworked plagiarisms of ancient myth.

Also, there is no pre 70CE literature which makes reference to the post 70 CE version of the MML&J literal Jesus story. All pre 70 CE literature speaks only of a spiritual death and resurrection. This includes all of Paul's circa 50 CE epistles.

Posted on 19 Mar 2011, 13:01:21 GMT
Lugh says:
At last someone else who speaks sense. I have just had the pleasure to read The Greatest Lie Ever Told which quite clearly shows, though possibly in less detail than Astonishing Credulity how the misunderstanding occurred.

I would like to add that no-one can or has ever produced any evidence of Jesus being a living person. The amount of evidence that shows that he was a mythical character is overwhelming. Paul, the one time Gnostic heretic co-opted by the Church of Rome, does not talk anywhere of a historical Jesus, but he does talk of the Christ that was the Consciousness, the soul reunited with God, where man becomes God.

This was not the Christ of the literalist Christian Church. When one analyses what Paul wrote about, the main thing which strikes the discerning eye, is that he gives absolutely no indication that Jesus had been a living historical man. What is obvious is that all the references indicate that he is referring to a mystical personification, the godman of the Mysteries. Paul was quite explicit about the scripture being myths; in 1 Corinthians 10:6, he states that the events are `symbolic'; in Galatians 4:24, he describes the scripture stories as `allegories'. How much more proof does one need.

Not only is the New Testament telling a mythical story, it uses a fictitious Old Testament as its background. No wonder there is Astonishing Credulity when people are fooled by The Greatest Lie Ever Told

In reply to an earlier post on 19 Mar 2011, 13:15:43 GMT
D. Skuce says:
Althought MML&J are said to have been Eye witness accounts, I strongly believe that the Gospel writers had a theological ideology to "prove" as it where. As to your ideas that MML&J include text and speech that the writers could not possibly have know, I have this to say, especially in regards to Lukes Gospel:

Luke was a Physician, a man of reason and well educated, he set out to fully research the life and times of Jesus. He may not have been at all of the events he writes about, but research doesnt always involve you being at the place you are writing about. You could probably write a biography of any key leader in religion today without once having met them.

So really, it appears to me, that you are criticizing their method of research. It is important to remember that Jewish community have always had a strong Oral tradition, Stories would have been handed down generation to generation, an exact repeat of whatever had been said. Also, in the case of some biblical books, the writer is different to the Author. For example, the apostle Paul did not write his own letters, yet was the author. J is widely thought to be a post-AD70 document due to the temple replacement theology found in it that suggest that the document was written to partly address concerns amongst a Jewish community with regards to the temple in Jerusalem being sacked in AD70. I believe there was a Vocal source that was certainly used by Matthew and Mark, in their formation of their Gospels (known simply as Q), Luke is thought to have used a mixture of both the former Gospels and possibly Q as well at the time he was forming his Gospel.

I think it is all together more "accurate" to view MML&J as theological documents, each with their own target audience and context, addressing things in their own way, in their own time, as opposed to critical biographies of the Historical Jesus.

Interesting points about the Historical literature, i know very little about the content of the letters mentioned, but I intend to read up on the criticisms and merits of them in the near future.

In reply to an earlier post on 19 Mar 2011, 13:22:43 GMT
D. Skuce says:
1 Cor 10:6, doesnt appear to make any reference to 'symbolism', are you sure thats the verse you meant? Secondly, It Appears to me that in Gal 4:24, Paul is using the story of Sarah and Hagar as a demonstration. No the women probably don't represent literally what he is talking about. But as any study on Paul will show, he was a fan of metaphors.

In reply to an earlier post on 19 Mar 2011, 13:51:01 GMT
Last edited by the author on 19 Mar 2011, 14:16:02 GMT
Lugh says:
D Skuce: "MML&J are said to have been Eye witness accounts"
Dating these old documents is not accurate, but researchers suggest that Mark's gospel, copied from earlier fragments, could not have been written until at least 70 CE, but it could also be as late as the first quarter of the second century. The other three gospels were written up to seventy years later. The authors were of course, not disciples who, even if they did exist, from their descriptions in the New Testament were illiterate. See The Canon of the New Testament: Its Origin, Development, and Significance

If they had been contemporary historical reports, then one would assume that they would provide some consistent record. One can say that the disparity between Luke and Matthew concerns their lineage from King David to Jesus. The only point of agreement in the patrilineage is Joseph, every other name listed is different. In addition, Luke lists 26 generations between Jesus and David, whilst Matthew has 41 and fails to acknowledge Solomon. Of course such discrepancy hardly matters, which raises an interesting question in itself - why did anyone bother to put it in?

However an event like Jesus' first meeting Peter should show some agreement between the witnesses. In fact in John's gospel, Jesus does not meet Simon Peter and his brother Andrew as they fished at Galilee, as he does in the other three accounts, but instead Andrew met Jesus at the River Jordan with John the Baptist, and then went to find Simon Peter and introduced him to Jesus. From there, they went to Galilee and found Philip.

The conflicting historical accounts blunder on, seemingly unnoticed, but you can't go wrong at the major dénoument surely? But they do.

Matthew and Mark say that Mary Magdalene, with Mary mother of James and other women viewed from afar. Luke gives no prominence to anyone, merely mentioning that followers viewed from a distance. John states that Mary, the mother of Jesus, Mary's sister who is also called Mary and Mary Magdalene are at the foot of the cross. This seemingly strange coincidence of three Marys is another example of the Gnostic writing in John's gospel.

The author was making use of the triad mother-goddess, which was commonly employed in the Mysteries. If the mother of Jesus had been present and the other three gospel writers were there, it is bizarre that they had not spotted her. All three clearly differ in where everyone was standing too, but then none of the disciple authors mentioned that they were there either, just the beloved John, who was obviously written into the event in a late gospel version that was given his name.

As might now be expected, the description of what took place at the climax of the crucifixion differs and on some points, markedly so. Only Matthew mentions an earthquake as Jesus dies: how could the others not notice the tumultuous disturbance. They even fail to report the final words of Jesus with any consensus; this is surely one thing that they should have got right! Mark and Matthew tell us that Jesus said, "My God. My God, why hath thou forsaken me." Luke hears Jesus uttering, `Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit," before he dies. John has Jesus slipping away with the words "It is finished."

After Jesus' death, Joseph of Arimathea claims the body for internment; in Mark's account, he asks Pilate's permission and the governor is very surprised that Jesus has died so quickly upon the cross. John contradicts this; he claims that Pilate had given permission to hurry along the death by breaking the legs and then finally using the spear to check that death had occurred.

The gospels tell us that the resurrection would take place after three days, but as the death fell on Friday afternoon and the tomb was opened on Sunday morning, the resurrection took place just one and a half days after his death. The events at the tomb are also not recorded with any historical accuracy.

Matthew tells us that amidst another earthquake, Mary Magdalene goes to the tomb alone, finds the stone rolled back with an angel sitting on top of it; the angel tells her that Jesus has arisen and everyone should go to Galilee to meet him.

Mark dispenses with the earthquake and reports Mary Magdalene and Mary mother of James, and Salome, arriving at the tomb to find a young man sitting inside the tomb and he tells them to tell the other disciples to meet Jesus at Galilee.

Luke initially seems more vague about who exactly was at the tomb. He says there were women from Galilee, later mentioning that the women were Mary Magdalene and Mary mother of James, and Joanna. The women find two men sitting inside, who say that Jesus has arisen but offer no directions about meeting in Galilee. When Jesus does meet his disciples, it is not in Galilee, but in a village on the edge of Jerusalem.

John has a completely different story: Mary Magdalene goes to the tomb alone and finds it completely empty, so she runs off and when she finds Simon Peter and John, they run back with her and confirm what she has said. After they leave, Mary lingers behind weeping, she turns and sees what she initially thinks to be a gardener but then recognises Jesus and he tells her to inform the disciples that he has arisen. Later that day, Jesus meets them in Jerusalem and then Jesus meets them again when they at fishing at the Sea of Tiberius.

There is little agreement about what happened at this climax to the gospel story, which clearly indicates that the authors were not present at the events but were merely writing their own versions of a traditional myth. The events did not matter, only the allegorical meaning was important.

In reply to an earlier post on 19 Mar 2011, 14:12:41 GMT
Lugh says:
haec autem in figura facta sunt nostri I know it's not greek but the vulgate Latin is translated in many versions and says that "these events were a figure of speech" Paul had been talking about the spiritual food, spiritual wine and drinking from a spiritual rock that was Christ. What else could it be than symbolic?

Galatians 4:24 "quae sunt per allegoriam dicta" in every translation uses the word allegory or allegorical.

Paul was of course a fan of metaphor. Plato, Socrates, all philosophers before him used metaphor and allegory, so they were an obvious Gnostic teaching tool.

Posted on 19 Mar 2011, 17:09:40 GMT
Last edited by the author on 19 Mar 2011, 22:16:59 GMT
Post from Notori.co.uk

Hi D. Skuce, I would like to pick up on two of the items in your post.

The concept of Q is a theory put forward to explain the similarities in large parts of the three synoptic gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke. Despite these many similarities, there are also, as Lugh points out, huge discrepancies also, and discrepancies where there should not be discrepancies if we are to consider the works to be biographies.

The theory goes: Mark is written first, but there already exists a theoretical Q document which no longer exists. Matthew and Luke are then written using both Mark and Q, plus some of there own invention. Therefore Q comes to represent the common material found in Matthew and Luke, but not in Mark.

The existence of a lost manuscript given the name Q (Quelle or source) is a guess, and a fair guess, based purely on the plagiarism rife in the three synoptic gospels.

But in my assertions Q looses its necessity as an explanation to the commonalities; Q in fact becomes the story of one, or many, allegorical Christ figures which existed centuries before MML&J were written.

If this is so, we have to ask: where are these allegorical Christ documents which precede the MML&J stories? If we were to take a guess at the fate of such a manuscript falling into the hands of the powerful, and unimaginably wealthy, Catholic Church, post 325 CE, whose position relies solely on the Jesus story being historical, what would we surmise it to be? Parchment is extremely burnable.

It is interesting that you put a character behind the title `Luke', and then describe that character as a studious historian. `Matthew', `Mark', `Luke' and `John' are purely titles given to the four books. The authorship of MML&J is actually unknown.

Regards

Mike Lawrence

Posted on 26 Mar 2011, 11:54:53 GMT
Post from Notori.co.uk.

Protecting the goose which lays the golden egg:

Pope Leo X 1475 to 1521: "It is well known how profitable this fable of Christ has been to us".

In 1447 the Bishop of London passed comment on the new invention of the printing press. He said: "If we do not destroy this dangerous invention, it will one day destroy us!"

Shortly after the appearance of the printing press English Common Law received a new edict. It prohibited freedom of speech and press if it caused "reproach" to the Church or "derided" the Bible.

In 1536 William Tyndale was burnt at the stake for having his translation of the Bible into English printed and distributed.

In reply to an earlier post on 26 Mar 2011, 12:20:38 GMT
Last edited by the author on 26 Mar 2011, 12:22:06 GMT
Lugh says:
add to that the late Roman Church's attempts to quell the long efforts of the Irish Catholic Church to end control by Rome.
In 1172 the Council of Cashel brought the Celtic Church of Ireland under the Roman Catholic control of Henry II of England: Ireland was a gift from the Vatican! The Bull from Pope Adrian IV, giving Ireland to the King starts
"Adrian, bishop, servant of the servants of God, to our well beloved son in Christ, the illustrious King of the English, greeting and Apostolic Benediction. Laudably and profitably does your Majesty contemplate spreading the glory of your name on earth and laying up for yourself the reward of eternal happiness in heaven, in that as becomes a Catholic Prince, you propose to enlarge the boundaries of the Church, to proclaim the truths of the Christian religion to a rude and ignorant people, [the Irish] to root out the growth of vice from the field of the Lord; and the better to accomplish this purpose, you seek the counsel and goodwill of the Apostolic See. ..."

Things were still not going well for the Church of Rome 350 years on:
The Bishop of Mentz sent this letter from Rome to the Irish rebel leader Shane O'Neill on April 28, 1528:
"My dear son O'Neill, thou and thy fathers are all along faithful to the Mother Church of Rome. His Holiness Paul III, now Pope, and the Council of the Holy Fathers there, have lately found a prophecy of one Saint Lazerianus Bishop of Cashel, wherein he saith that the Mother Church of Rome falleth, when in Ireland the Catholic Faith is overcome. Therefore for the glory of the Mother Church, the honour of St. Peter, and your own secureness suppress heresy and His Holiness' enemies, ..."

Even 19th century Roman Catholic historians admitted the truth:
O'Driscoll wrote in Volume II of Views on Ireland that the Council of Cashel left Irish religious belief and practice in a sorry state:
"... This council put an end to the ancient Church of Ireland, and submitted it to the yoke of Rome. From the days of St. Patrick, to the council of Cashel, was a bright and glorious career for Ireland. From the sitting of this council to our time, the lot of Ireland has been universal evil, and all her history a tale of woe. ..."

In reply to an earlier post on 26 Mar 2011, 15:29:26 GMT
Neutral says:
ML wrote,

"Pope Leo X 1475 to 1521: "It is well known how profitable this fable of Christ has been to us"." However, " the earliest known source of this statement is actually a polemical work by the Protestant John Bale, the anti-Catholic Acta Romanorum Pontificum, which was first translated from Latin into English as The Pageant of the Popes in 1574:" Insufficient proof to be quoted with confidence.

"In 1536 William Tyndale was burnt at the stake for having his translation of the Bible into English printed and distributed." This is too simplistic a view. Tyndale wrote a variety of books attacking corruption in the Roman Catholic Church and setting out the principles of the Authority of Scripture and the authority of the King in State.

When he was tried he was tried for heresy - not for the printing of the Bible but for the doctrinal statements he had made over a period of time. A small point, Tyndale was strangled to death. He was dead before the body was burned at the stake.

"Shortly after the appearance of the printing press English Common Law received a new edict. It prohibited freedom of speech and press if it caused "reproach" to the Church or "derided" the Bible." This is untrue. Edicts were no part of Common Law which is essentially precedent based judicial decisions. More specifically they are known as ratio decidendi, setting out the reasoning behind a decision but are not always clear. On the other hand an obiter dictum is not binding on courts.

"In 1447 the Bishop of London passed comment on the new invention of the printing press. He said: "If we do not destroy this dangerous invention, it will one day destroy us!" Quite possibly he did but it would be more compelling if a reference had been provided.

In reply to an earlier post on 26 Mar 2011, 16:12:45 GMT
Neutral says:
L

This has been dealt with elsewhere.

1) There is no evidence that the Papal Bull was ever issued.

2) The Council of Cashel subjected the Irish Church to the Anglican Church. The RCC dominated the peasantry.

3) "The Bishop of Mentz sent this letter from Rome to the Irish rebel leader Shane O'Neill on April 28, 1528." Brilliant seeing as O'Neill was not born until 1530!!!!!

4) O'Driscoll (which one?) managed to skim over eight hundred years of Irish history in less than a sentence. Thus omitting the role of the Church of Ireland, the conflict between landowners and tenants, the influx of the Scots into Ulster, Henry V111's decision to take power from the Anglo-Norman kings and, of course, Cromwell. What is known is that Roman Catholicism was fully established by 1558 and remained the religion of the Irish speaking majority. This development made sectarian conflict almost inevitable.

Perhaps L can come back with original material in order to avoid an accusation of providing continuous lies.

Posted on 26 Mar 2011, 16:13:26 GMT
Neutral says:
L

This has been dealt with elsewhere.

1) There is no evidence that the Papal Bull was ever issued.

2) The Council of Cashel subjected the Irish Church to the Anglican Church. The RCC dominated the peasantry.

3) "The Bishop of Mentz sent this letter from Rome to the Irish rebel leader Shane O'Neill on April 28, 1528." Brilliant seeing as O'Neill was not born until 1530!!!!!

4) O'Driscoll (which one?) managed to skim over eight hundred years of Irish history in less than a sentence. Thus omitting the role of the Church of Ireland, the conflict between landowners and tenants, the influx of the Scots into Ulster, Henry V111's decision to take power from the Anglo-Norman kings and, of course, Cromwell. What is known is that Roman Catholicism was fully established by 1558 and remained the religion of the Irish speaking majority. This development made sectarian conflict almost inevitable.

Perhaps L can come back with original material in order to avoid an accusation of providing continuous lies.

In reply to an earlier post on 26 Mar 2011, 17:12:17 GMT
Lugh says:
Well who'd have thought it Richard Mant got his dates wrong. Should have realised Clement VI was Pope sorry! History of the Church of Ireland, from the Reformation to the Revolution: With a Preliminary Survey, from the Papal Usurpation, in the Twelfth Century

O'Driscoll which one? Obviously not yours. According to House of Commons records, O'Driscoll had a whole eight sentences at the very least.

In reply to an earlier post on 26 Mar 2011, 17:17:19 GMT
Post from Notori.co.uk

Neutral,

For once I whole heartedly agree with you. There is most definitely need for evidence to be present, before claiming any kind of work to be factual.

So, we will now wait, only a short while, while the flood of evidence for the Gospels to be biography and not fiction arrives.

Perhaps you have some ready?

Posted on 26 Mar 2011, 18:00:42 GMT
Spin says:
Like all aspects of our society, writing had to evolve. The gospels are an early form of writings and should not be expected to illustrate or adhere to the forms of writing in today's society. The Gospels are true in their expression of human weaknesses, hopes and questions. But they are not literally true. The writers of the gospels had no conception of literary theory and practice and simply wrote their thoughts down in the newest form of communication available at the time. So to ask if the gospels are "true" depends on what the question about them actually is. Are they literally true? I doubt it. Are they true to human aspirations and fears? Yes. Are they true in the sense of reflecting the common mans thoughts at that time? Yes. Are they true in the sense that they are a record of the development of communication, politics, religion etc? Yes. Someone (I forget who) once said that there is a difference between taking the Bible seriously and taking it literally.

In reply to an earlier post on 26 Mar 2011, 18:02:56 GMT
Neutral says:
ML

What a silly post. There is a wealth of evidence available and people can decide for themselves which evidence they regard as conclusive and which they do not.

In ML's case he's not looking for evidence to make a determination, he's looking for support for his openly-stated position that he does not believe Jesus ever existed.

There's no reason to suppose any evidence would lead him to another conclusion particularly as he claims religious teaching is indoctrination.

ML thinks he is asking a rhetorical question when he is, in fact, asking a ridiculous one.

In reply to an earlier post on 26 Mar 2011, 18:19:40 GMT
Last edited by the author on 26 Mar 2011, 18:27:01 GMT
Lugh says:
Evidence, where, where? Pass the magnifying glass please someone.

I just checked out O'Driscoll by the way, he wrote five pages on the ruination of Ireland by the Church of Rome. He then went on to talk about the "degrading metamorphosis" forced on pagans by the Christian Church, continuing for a further eight pages explaining how if Christianity cannot sustain itself without an establishment, then it is not the truth and deserves to perish.
Views of Ireland, Moral, Political, and Religious (V. 2)

In reply to an earlier post on 26 Mar 2011, 19:59:38 GMT
Post from Notori.co.uk.

Hi Neutral,

So, there is "a wealth of evidence" then, as you say.

But none that you can bring to mind at the moment and post to a conversation which questions the authenticity of a myth which is delivered to children as factual!

Please do feel free to give us just one little snippet from this "wealth of evidence".

In reply to an earlier post on 26 Mar 2011, 21:10:34 GMT
Neutral says:
L

According to one reviewer O'Driscol, "injects his own opinions freely", an observation which appears to be borne out by your comments although Neutral would need to read the book first to make an accurate judgement.

"Evidence, where, where? Pass the magnifying glass please someone." The subject has been discussed and debated for the past 300 years, perhaps he should look at it instead of contemplating his navel.

In reply to an earlier post on 26 Mar 2011, 21:12:42 GMT
Neutral says:
ML

The subject has been discussed and debated for the past 300 years, make your own mind up (sorry, you already have, haven't you?)

In reply to an earlier post on 26 Mar 2011, 21:35:11 GMT
Post from Notori.co.uk.

Neutral,

I have done, very much so; and you will find a small sample of my reasons in the opening post. I am happy to supply more if you wish.

However, please do come and join the discussion properly by making your position clear rather than just sniping from the perimeter, hopefully with some reasons why; possibly some of the "wealth of evidence" you tease us with.

Although, I do note from your input to other discussions, this is not something you are comfortable about doing, and seem to avoid at all costs.

I predict now that your next post will not address my invitation to you to contribute your thoughts regards the discussion title.

Eagerly awaiting that reply

Mike Lawrence

In reply to an earlier post on 26 Mar 2011, 22:17:32 GMT
Lugh says:
You forgot to mention that the same reviewer said O'Driscol "endeavored to create a history of Ireland that was impartial"

Odd that the topic has been discussed and debated for 300 years, yet no-one has found any evidence.

In reply to an earlier post on 26 Mar 2011, 23:33:14 GMT
Neutral says:
L

Neutral did not forget to mention it otherwise he would have used it, noting that O'Driscol ""endeavored to create a history of Ireland that was impartial while chronicling the centuries old struggles between the Irish and the English.....He injects his own opinions freely". Without reading the book Neutral is unable to determine whether the impartiality and O'Driscol's own opinions supported each other or created a clash.

L claims "Odd that the topic has been discussed and debated for 300 years, yet no-one has found any evidence." All the available evidence concerning the existence or otherwise of Jesus has been discussed and debated. There are over a dozen pages alone (with different headings) on Wikipedia on the subject, one of which provides reference to over 100 books for further reading. In addition, there are many websites (Neutral identified over 30) proclaiming their interpretation of the evidence, for or against.

The problem for L is that the evidence which exists covers all sides of the debate whereas he only interested in buttressing his own view. By contrast, Neutral considers all the claims and counter-claims. Perhaps L should do the same, although as it would involve critical thinking and intellectual judgement, it's probably beyond him.

In reply to an earlier post on 30 Mar 2011, 08:27:58 BST
Pendragon says:
Mike

Interesting OP and subsequent discussion, thanks.

You say "we can prove ... that the Jesus character is not even exaggerated legend, but that the character is complete fabrication", although I have not seen you explaining how this is to be proved (apologies if I have missed it).

I have not (yet) read either Astonishing Credulity or The Greatest Lie Ever Told, and I was just wondering what your take is on the various early non-biblical references to Jesus? I have in mind in particular:

1. Tacitus ('The Annals' in about 109 AD, the passages about Nero blaming the Christians for the fire in Rome)

2. Pliny the Younger's 'Letters' to the emperor Trajan which refer to Christians

3. The two passages in Josephus, dating to about 93/94 AD. The first passage, the so-called "Testimonium Flavianum", and the second which simply says that Ananus had put to death a man named James, "the brother of Jesus who was called Christ".

I notice that there is a very good post today by Rachel Rebecca Riordan (posted 30 Mar 2011 05:31 BST on page 80 of the "God Does Not Exist Because (2)" thread) addressing these and other references, but I just wondered what your view was on these passages.

Posted on 30 Mar 2011, 15:54:41 BST
Lugh says:
If you are still waiting for a reply, may I offer you my view, as I happen to have referred to Tacitus and Josephus recently on another forum.

1) Tacitus wrote, "... ergo abolendo rumori Nero subdidit reos et quaesitissimis poenis adfecit, quos per flagitia invisos vulgus Chrestianos appellabat. auctor nominis eius Christus Tibero imperitante per procuratorem Pontium Pilatum supplicio adfectus erat;..." He tells us that Nero, who had been accused of starting the fire himself, puts the blame onto those "infamous common people called Christians." Tacitus then mentioned that the person to whom they are responsible, Christ, was humbled by Pontius Pilate, the procurator of the Emperor Tiberius.

Tacitus was eight when these events supposedly took place. He wrote about them forty years later and managed to get Pontius Pilate's title wrong. Pontius Pilate however was legally bound to keep records and forgot to record a major incident that happened in his time. Tacitus does not actually mention Jesus at all, or the crucifixion he says, "supplicio adfectus erat" Christ, the person to whom they were responsible, was "humbled" by Pontius Pilate - bit of an understatement for a historian.

There is also the small matter of the fact that no Christians were in Rome until after 70 CE. Arriving a little too late for Nero who had already been dead two years. The Annals of Imperial Rome

2) Pliny indicated in his correspondence when Governor of Bithynia-Pontus with the Emperor Trajan. During the very early years of Christianity, around 100 CE, the Jewish followers were causing a great deal of trouble with their violent riots. As a result, Trajan had outlawed the perverse and troublesome cult. Any Christian guilty of a seditious or violent offence was brought to trial, any peaceful Christian was left alone and the Emperor specifically instructs that this should be so. Pliny writes,
"... I have never participated in trials of Christians. I therefore do not know what offences it is the practice to punish or investigate, and to what extent...."
to which Trajan replies,
"... They are not to be sought out; if they are denounced and proved guilty, they are to be punished, with this reservation, that whoever denies that he is a Christian and really proves it - that is, by worshiping our gods- even though he was under suspicion in the past, shall obtain pardon through repentance. But anonymously posted accusations ought to have no place in any prosecution. For this is both a dangerous kind of precedent and out of keeping with the spirit of our age."
As well as telling Pliny that Christians were not to be sought out and that he must reject anonymous accusations, Trajan later wrote to Pliny to instruct him that anyone making an accusation against a Christian must pay the prosecution costs and the accused Christian must be afforded a proper trial. Pagans and Christians: In the Mediterranean World from the Second Century AD to the Conversion of Constantine Again it is the lawless behaviour of 'Christians' that is mentioned, he does not mention Jesus Christ.

3) In Josephus' work there is a mention of Jesus Christ. So theologians and historians have scrutinised this with great care. What makes them curious is that no other writer before the fourth century has ever mentioned Jesus and in such detail is remarkable. It may dismay but not surprise you that the text is considered to be an insertion by Constantine's historian Bishop Eusebius. In AD 325 they couldn't scrutinise texts by computer to identify altered writing styles. The references to the Messiah which Josephus did make, stress that his countrymen are misguided and their Messiah would not come from within, but would be the Roman Emperor Vespasian.

Elsewhere Josephus mentions Galilee - an area of 900 square miles - quite a lot. Josephus mentions 45 cities and villages of Galilee, but no Nazareth. He does talk of a village he lived in quite a lot. As he mentioned Jesus in such detail in the forgery, it seems odd that he didn't mention him when he lived there in AD 60. His village was one mile southwest of where Nazareth now is.

No ancient historian or geographer mentions Nazareth. Nazareth only appears in any document at the beginning of the 4th century AD.
Antiquities Jesus and Archaeology Did Jesus Christ really live? Gauvin, M J.Forgery in Christianity or of course The Greatest Lie Ever Told which refers to all the others.
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