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  #41  
Old 22 August 2011, 05:39 AM
fitz1980 fitz1980 is offline
 
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Originally Posted by diddy View Post
My understanding of the Jewish religion back in the time of Christ was that there were a lot of radical people living in the region coming up with some revolutionary things (for the times).

While I don’t have any doubt that Christ the man walked the earth

I don’t think he was any more special than other prophets of the era - he was just more popular with the masses. I don’t attribute any divinity to him at all. I think that he got real popular after he died and people have been trying to piece together things about him that they may or may not really know.
Which leads to an interesting question. If at the time there were several Jewish prophets speaking revolutionary philosophy (for the times) than we'd really have no way of knowing which things that were attributed to Jesus were said by him or claimed of him by his followers. Much how any sarcastic internet commentaries on life are attributed to George Carlin you'd probably get all kinds of people repeating some new "love your neighbor as yourself" teachings or alleged miracles that some prophet performed or being about Jesus.

Last edited by fitz1980; 22 August 2011 at 05:59 AM.
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  #42  
Old 22 August 2011, 05:54 AM
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AnglRdr AnglRdr is offline
 
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And that is why The Life of Brian is the definitive documentary of the circa-1st century messianic movement.
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  #43  
Old 22 August 2011, 09:43 AM
Jaime Vargas Jaime Vargas is offline
 
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Originally Posted by Steve Eisenberg View Post
Jesus makes a number of quoted statements, in the Gospels, that probably do not correspond to words early Christians would have put in his mouth if they had the choice. For example, Matthew 5:17-18:
Ah, but remember that Matthew's Gospel was directed as Christians from a Jewish background. The Gospel writers had their own agendas; Luke wrote for Christians of Gentile background and he would have quoted Jesus implying the opposite.
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  #44  
Old 22 August 2011, 12:12 PM
Steve Eisenberg Steve Eisenberg is offline
 
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Ah, but remember that Matthew's Gospel was directed as Christians from a Jewish background. The Gospel writers had their own agendas; Luke wrote for Christians of Gentile background and he would have quoted Jesus implying the opposite.
Would have, perhaps, if Luke believed in making stuff up. Instead, Luke, also in the first century, quotes Jesus saying something quite similar.

See Luke 16:17:

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However, it is easier for heaven and earth to disappear than for one stroke of a letter in the Law to be dropped.
I know that Jesus seems to say differently elsewhere. Maybe Jesus's views evolved over time. If the gospel authors were making this all up, they could have smoothed that all out.

Last edited by Steve Eisenberg; 22 August 2011 at 12:20 PM.
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  #45  
Old 22 August 2011, 01:20 PM
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Smoothed it out? At one of their conventions or something?
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  #46  
Old 22 August 2011, 01:39 PM
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Originally Posted by Steve Eisenberg
I know that Jesus seems to say differently elsewhere. Maybe Jesus's views evolved over time. If the gospel authors were making this all up, they could have smoothed that all out.
I think you are judging it by today's standards. A modern novel has to have a consistent story and consistent characters who don't contradict themselves. The text has to have a beginning and an end. That wasn't necessarily the goal of someone compiling a collection of stories about a certain wise man in the 1st century, whether he was real or fictitious.

Last edited by almond; 22 August 2011 at 01:43 PM. Reason: to fix quote
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  #47  
Old 22 August 2011, 02:08 PM
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Originally Posted by AnglRdr View Post
And that is why The Life of Brian is the definitive documentary of the circa-1st century messianic movement.
I recall in an episode of P&T: Bullshit!, Penn said something similar, Life of Brian accurately depicted that there were lots of Messiah figures in the day - Jesus may have been one of them - or he might not have.

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Originally Posted by almond View Post
I think you are judging it by today's standards. A modern novel has to have a consistent story and consistent characters who don't contradict themselves. The text has to have a beginning and an end. That wasn't necessarily the goal of someone compiling a collection of stories about a certain wise man in the 1st century, whether he was real or fictitious.
Not to mention a collection of stories written after the guy had died and during a point in history where things were changing. Its easy to conflate events especially with what we know of the fallibility of the human brain.

To refer to Penn & Teller, Penn pointed out in the same episode as I refer to above, that we still debate about the finer points of lives of very famous people - like Elvis. We have conflating information about lots of things coming from different people claiming to having various degrees of knowledge about him. Now we know that Elvis actually lived, but we still have questions that remain unanswered or are up for debate. And that was a guy who lived about 50 years ago!
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  #48  
Old 22 August 2011, 10:34 PM
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The other problem, and I know this one's been talked to death, is just how much of the story just doesn't match other records from the time period. Rome didn't impose any new taxes then, there wasn't any large scale forcing of people to move to cities they didn't currently live in, nobody recorded seeing any new stars, there were no records of anyone conducting a mass infanticide, ect. So with all the things said about Jesus's life and lifetime that aren't true, it calls into question a lot of the other events and details.

Then, of course, there was the 4th century meeting in which the Cardinals (were they called Cardinals then? Can't remember what the title was for that time period) decided which Gospels were true and which ones weren't by means of popular vote and discarded the ones that they decided weren't true.
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  #49  
Old 22 August 2011, 10:55 PM
Jaime Vargas Jaime Vargas is offline
 
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Originally Posted by crocoduck_hunter View Post
The other problem, and I know this one's been talked to death, is just how much of the story just doesn't match other records from the time period. Rome didn't impose any new taxes then, there wasn't any large scale forcing of people to move to cities they didn't currently live in, nobody recorded seeing any new stars, there were no records of anyone conducting a mass infanticide, ect. So with all the things said about Jesus's life and lifetime that aren't true, it calls into question a lot of the other events and details.
Notice that all your examples are from the infancy of Jesus.

The teachings and preaching of Jesus is consistent thoughout all gospels, but the stories about his birth and childhood (which appear only in Matthew and Luke) are very divergent. Matthew makes Joseph and Mary residents of Bethlehem who have to flee to Nazareth; Luke tells the story of the census as a device to explain why a Nazarene family was in Bethlehem when Jesus was born. Matthew has the star, the Magi, the massacre of the innocents and the escape to Egypt; Luke has the census, the manger and the shepherds.

To say nothing about the myriad of stories about child Jesus in the apocryphal gospel of Thomas, which even if it was not canon were still popular even in the Middle Ages. It seems that after Jesus' death, the stories and legends about his early years - something which, frankly, probably not much people knew about - started to spread.
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  #50  
Old 23 August 2011, 12:22 AM
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That's because the most obvious examples of things that other people should have sat up and taken note of happened when Jesus was born. There's also no record of anyone witnessing the Sermon on the Mount, either, but that's something that wouldn't have rated anything more than an "I was passing through Jerusalem today, saw a big group of Jews having a religious ceremony" note in someone's journal. The point is that given the obvious liberties that were taken as some parts of the Jesus narrative, how can we be sure of the truth of any of the rest of it given the lack of any sort of independent confirmation?
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  #51  
Old 23 August 2011, 12:27 AM
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Originally Posted by crocoduck_hunter View Post
The point is that given the obvious liberties that were taken as some parts of the Jesus narrative, how can we be sure of the truth of any of the rest of it given the lack of any sort of independent confirmation?
Back then they didn't record or write everything down like we do today. History and stories were mainly passed orally. Of course nothing can be confirmed without independent confirmation, but lack of written evidence doesn't disprove it either.
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  #52  
Old 23 August 2011, 03:50 AM
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I was under the impression from Acts that the early preaching about Christ was from the Old Testament. For example, the eunuch reading Isaiah. The fact that 'nothing was written down' wouldn't have made any sense then and would've been seen as redundant, since it was already written down. I believe that changed when the early church was trying to put some distance between themselves and the Old Testament. Rather than wading through the Old Testament, it was easier to come up with a 'Sermon on the Mount' that listed everything outright.
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  #53  
Old 23 August 2011, 04:39 AM
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Back then they didn't record or write everything down like we do today. History and stories were mainly passed orally. Of course nothing can be confirmed without independent confirmation, but lack of written evidence doesn't disprove it either.
Saying that it needs to be disproved puts the burden of proof on the wrong party. The problem is that there simply isn't enough actual evidence to prove anything about Jesus.
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  #54  
Old 23 August 2011, 09:49 AM
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Originally Posted by diddy View Post
. While I donít have any doubt that Christ the man walked the earth (I have no reason to doubt that), I donít think he was any more special than other prophets of the era


I feel the same way, While I believe he existed I think the stories of his "miracles" are just stores that were embellished as time when on. Similar to the game of telephone many of us played when we were younger, the longer a story gets passed around the room the whole story can be completely different by the time it gets back around to the beginning, and some of them may have been staged.
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  #55  
Old 23 August 2011, 10:41 AM
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... I think the stories of his "miracles" are just stores that were embellished as time when on. (...) and some of them may have been staged.
I think telling tales about the miracles your choosen prophet can do / has done was part of the public culture at that time. There's a whole class of Jewish jokes about "my rabbi does greater miracles than your rabbi", and while these are told with Chasidim rabbis nowadays, they can stay for a much older tradition. I don't think that was only the Jewish culture, mind - I guess Romans tried to upstage their Jupiter-following neighbour with tales about what Mithras can do, too.

So somebody telling tales about that Prophet he saw in Jerusalem would have included tales about "how he made the lame walk again", and somebody writing down the story of the founder of a new religion a hundred years later would have included these tales (or made some up himself) because without miracles, the guy wouldn't have been a proper prophet.
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  #56  
Old 23 August 2011, 01:36 PM
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Originally Posted by crocoduck_hunter View Post
Saying that it needs to be disproved puts the burden of proof on the wrong party. The problem is that there simply isn't enough actual evidence to prove anything about Jesus.
This a thousand times. It's not the burden of the skeptic to prove that he existed or possessed any of the features the Bible speaks of. We have evidence that things don't add up. Since the believers are the ones asserting everything, they need to back up their assertions beyond the "it's in the Bible and that's that" type of claims.

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Originally Posted by Don Enrico View Post
I think telling tales about the miracles your choosen prophet can do / has done was part of the public culture at that time. There's a whole class of Jewish jokes about "my rabbi does greater miracles than your rabbi", and while these are told with Chasidim rabbis nowadays, they can stay for a much older tradition. I don't think that was only the Jewish culture, mind - I guess Romans tried to upstage their Jupiter-following neighbour with tales about what Mithras can do, too.

So somebody telling tales about that Prophet he saw in Jerusalem would have included tales about "how he made the lame walk again", and somebody writing down the story of the founder of a new religion a hundred years later would have included these tales (or made some up himself) because without miracles, the guy wouldn't have been a proper prophet.
It's quite possible that is indeed the case - I would venture that a lot of the tales probably started out as a form of one-upmanship from various factions supporting different people, but I also think that the dependency of oral tellings introduces such differennces due to the extreme fallibility of people's memories - especially if the memories are supposed to involve spectacular miracles.

Frankly though, the usage of miracles could be like any magicians rivalry - coming up with a way to draw crowds.
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  #57  
Old 23 August 2011, 01:40 PM
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Originally Posted by Buckle Up View Post
I was told that there is more evidence for the existence of Jesus Christ than there is evidence for the existence of George Washington. The second time I heard someone say that, I believed it.
Do you mean you still do? It seems extremely unlikely to me.
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  #58  
Old 23 August 2011, 03:19 PM
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It depends on how you define the parameters. Various sites put the number of bibles sold between 6 and 7 billion. If Jesus is mentioned 1,000 times in one bible, then there is up to 7 trillion pieces of evidence for Jesus' existance. I doubt George Washington is mentioned quite so many times.
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  #59  
Old 23 August 2011, 04:21 PM
fitz1980 fitz1980 is offline
 
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Originally Posted by diddy View Post
I recall in an episode of P&T: Bullshit!, Penn said something similar, Life of Brian accurately depicted that there were lots of Messiah figures in the day - Jesus may have been one of them - or he might not have.
Penn's actual quote was "So Monty Python's: Life of Brian was actually more accurate than Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ."

His point about Elvis was that "Elvis Aaron Presley was born at a time when most people in his land were literate; we have photographic, video and audio records of his life and yet there are still people today arguing about the details of his life."

Both were from Penn & Teller's ep called "The Bible" and yes, it's my favorite of their eps.
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  #60  
Old 23 August 2011, 04:30 PM
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Originally Posted by GenYus234 View Post
It depends on how you define the parameters. Various sites put the number of bibles sold between 6 and 7 billion. If Jesus is mentioned 1,000 times in one bible, then there is up to 7 trillion pieces of evidence for Jesus' existance. I doubt George Washington is mentioned quite so many times.
When you put it that way, I'm convinced! Hallelujah!
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