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Did contemporary historians mention Jesus?

The following debate appeared on the Forerunner discussion forum in early 2006 and continued for five months. The discussion deals with an academically discredited conspiracy hypothesis. "Jesus mythists" hold that even the historical Jesus never existed. One of the difficulties in debating these folk is that they insist that one must prove a double negative -- to disprove that Jesus never existed. There are currently no living scholars in the field of history who have published peer reviewed works claiming Jesus did not exist. Simply citing the universal agreement for a historical Jesus is not good enough for the Jesus mythists. They want us to refute that there is no evidence that Jesus existed. Of course, there is lots of evidence, but none of this is reliable according to the Jesus mythists.

The main participants in this debate are "jcr4runner" (yours truly) and an atheist named "AMbomb." Several others jumped into the lengthy conversation as well. I post the discussion to this blog to show the lengths that a depraved mind will go to in order to deny Christ. It is actually a popular point of view among Internet atheists. For a more thorough treatment of the fallacy of the "Jesus-as-Myth-Hypothesis," I recommend the useful website and book, Shattering the Christ Myth by J.P. Holding.

Even the most skeptical liberal historians admit that Jesus Existed

Postby jcr4runner » Thu Feb 16, 2006 8:27 am

The conjecture that Jesus did not exist was popular for about 40 years around the turn of the 20th century. Since that time, even the most skeptical liberal historians have admitted that Jesus was a real person. There is no current credible scholar who makes this claim.

The evidence that Jesus lived in Judea in the first century is overwhelming. Jesus was a historical person recorded by Christian, Jewish and pagan historians. In fact, there are many well-known non-Christian historians who mention Jesus:

• Tacitus in his Annals (c.115 A.D.) mentions that Christ was crucified under Pontius Pilate and gives detailed descriptions of Nero’s persecutions — which are also alluded to in several places in the New Testament.

• The correspondence between Pliny the younger and the Roman Emperor Trajan (98-117 A.D.) corroborates the New Testament history including the persecution of the Christians under the Emperor Nero.

• Flavius Josephus (37-100 A.D.), the first century Jewish historian, makes mention of Jesus, John the Baptist and the James, the brother of Jesus. Recent scholarship has indicated that most if not all of Josephus' mention of Jesus authentic. Other references to New Testament figures corroborate the Christian Gospel writers.

Scholars note that the New Testament corroborates Josephus in minute detail. Keep in mind that Josephus wrote his history after the time of the New Testament. In other words, both sources were written independently, but both agree with each other. So Josephus testifies to the historical reliability of many passages in the New Testament.

We know of many other early references to Christ by pagan writers, but there are also thousands of manuscripts from the first and second centuries written by Christians. The fact that early Christians recorded their own history does not discount their reliability. Christianity is not a religion that has its origin in shadowy legend, but has definite historical roots, strong personalities and a tremendous amount of source documents to prove it.

Re: Even the most skeptical liberal historians admit that Jesus Existed

Postby AMbomb » Thu Feb 16, 2006 7:22 pm

The story of Jesus is a pagan godman myth. Christianity was originally a pagan mystery religion. There were many pagan mystery religions. They date back millenia before the Jesus myth. Each had its own godman myth and the godman myths were all basically alike. So, what's a more reasonable explanation, that one of these myths came true millennia after it was created, or that the story of Jesus was taken from these earlier myths?

There is no evidence of the existence of Jesus. The Roman archives don't so much as mention him. And the Romans kept tons of records. If there had been someone named Jesus who was tried and executed in Judea, there would've been a record of it. Christians like to cite Flavius Josephus. The passage in one of his writings that mentions Jesus is a forgery. It was written in a different style than Josephus's writing and it interrupts what he was writing about. There are no credible extrabiblical sources corroborating the story of Jesus.

Pliny the Younger wrote a letter to the Roman emperor Trajan regarding the Christians, but never actually wrote there was such a person as Jesus.
AMbomb

Question of intergrity

Postby jcr4runner » Thu Feb 16, 2006 11:01 pm

Do you think it strange that every one of the many passages about Jesus' existence is questioned by the Jesus mythist skeptics? An objective investigator would conclude that if there were so many testimonies that corroborated each other in minute detail then the testimony must be accurate to a great degree.

If we compare Jesus to the fifth or sixth century legend of King Arthur, we find in Arthur a king who probably did exist. But there are so many variants in the legend it is impossible to pinpoint when and where the legend ends and the historical facts begin. There are no written accounts of Arthur within several centuries of his existence, yet many historians believe there was Briton war lord named Arthur son of Uther Pendragon who lived in the early sixth century.

The story of Jesus is completely different in that we have thousands of accounts giving exact details of His life within 30 years of His crucifixion. In the next 100 years after His death, there are thousands of references to Jesus and the writers of the New Testament.

We know of many other early references to Christ by pagan writers, but there are also thousands of manuscripts from the first and second centuries written by Christians. The fact that early Christians recorded their own history does not discount their reliability. Christianity is not a religion that has its origin in shadowy legend, but has definite historical roots, strong personalities and a tremendous amount of source documents to prove it.

Other first and second century writers who wrote about Jesus as the Son of God, the promised Messiah and Lord of Creation, are:

• Clement (A.D. c. 30-100) the Bishop of Rome

• The writer of the Epistle of Barnabas (A.D. c. 70-130)

• Polycarp (A.D. 70-155) the Bishop of Smyrna, a student of the Apostle John

• Ignatius (A.D. 35-110) the Bishop of Antioch

• Irenaeus (A.D. 130 -200) the second century Bishop of Lyons

• Tertullian (A.D. 160 -220) the second century apologist

• Clement (A.D. 150 -215) the second century Bishop of Alexandria
jcr4runner

Re: Question of intergrity

Postby AMbomb » Thu Feb 16, 2006 11:44 pm

Those people were all Christians. What they wrote can't be trusted. There are no credible non-Christian sources corroborating the Bible on the existence of Jesus.
AMbomb

Postby jcr4runner » Fri Feb 17, 2006 12:27 am

Then what you are saying can't be trusted because you are NOT a Christian. This is your logic turned in the other direction. You may doubt that Jesus was the Son of God. That question will be settled at the final judgment. But you cannot name one current credible historian who claims Christ did not exist at all. There is too much of Him in extant histories to make such a claim.

What you claim is patently wrong.

See:

http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/print/157

-- FLAVIUS JOSEPHUS

Josephus was a Jewish historian who was born around AD 38. He served Roman commander Vespasian in Jerusalem until the city's destruction in AD 70. Josephus personally believed Vespasian to be Israel's promised Messiah. When Vespasian later became emperor of Rome, Josephus served under him as court historian. In AD 93, Josephus finished his work Antiquities of the Jews in which at least three passages specifically confirm portions of Scripture:

"But to some of the Jews the destruction of Herod's army seemed to be divine vengeance, and certainly a just vengeance, for his treatment of John, surnamed the Baptist. For Herod had put him to death, though he was a good man and had exhorted the Jews to lead righteous lives, to practice justice towards their fellows and piety towards God, and so doing to join in baptism.

"... convened the judges of the Sanhedrin and brought before them a man named James, the brother of Jesus who was called the Christ, and certain others. He accused them of having transgressed the law and delivered them up to be stoned.

"At this time there was a wise man who was called Jesus. And his conduct was good, and [he] was known to be virtuous. And many people from among the Jews and the other nations became his disciples. Pilate condemned him to be crucified and to die. And 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;..."

-- PLINIUS SECUNDUS (Pliny the Younger)

Pliny was the governor of Bithynia in Asia Minor. Much of his correspondence has survived including a particular letter written circa AD 112 to the Roman emperor Trajan. This letter does not reference Christ directly, but it does establish several beliefs and practices of early Christians. This includes their loyalty to Christ even when it cost them their lives. Pliny's letter states:

"In the meantime, the method I have observed towards those who have been denounced to me as Christians is this: I interrogated them whether they were in fact Christians; if they confessed it, I repeated the question twice, adding the threat of capital punishment; if they still persevered, I ordered them to be executed.

"...They affirmed, however, that the whole of their guilt, or their error, was that they were in the habit of meeting on a certain fixed day before it was light, when they sang in alternate verses a hymn to Christ, as to a god, and bound themselves by a solemn oath, not to perform any wicked deed, never to commit any fraud, theft or adultery, never to falsify their word, nor deny a trust when they should be called upon to make it good; after which it was their custom to separate, and then reassemble to partake of food - but food of an ordinary and innocent kind."

-- CORNELIUS TACITUS

Tacitus was a senator under Emperor Vespasian and later became governor of Asia. Around AD 116 in his work entitled Annals, he wrote of Emperor Nero and a fire which had swept Rome in AD 64:

"Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilate, and a most mischievous superstition thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judea, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome..."

-- GAIUS SUETONIUS TRANQUILLAS

Suetonius was a chief secretary to Emperor Hadrian writing around AD 120 in his work Life of Claudius:

"Because the Jews at Rome caused continuous disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus, he expelled them from the city."

-- LUCIAN

Lucian, the Greek satirist, wrote this rather scathing attack in The Death of Peregrine circa AD 170:

"The Christians, you know, worship a man to this day - the distinguished personage who introduced their novel rites, and was crucified on that account... You see, these misguided creatures start with the general conviction that they are immortal for all time, which explains the contempt of death and voluntary self-devotion which are so common among them; and then it was impressed upon them by their original lawgiver that they are all brothers, from the moment that they are converted, and deny the gods of Greece, and worship the crucified sage, and live after his laws."

-- THE TALMUD

The Talmud is essentially the collection of Jewish oral traditions that were put into writing with additional commentary between the years of AD 70 and 200. From the Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin 43a includes:

"On the eve of Passover they hanged Yeshu. And an announcer went out, in front of him, for forty days (saying): 'He is going to be stoned because he practiced sorcery and enticed and led Israel astray. Anyone who knows anything in his favor, let him come and plead in his behalf.' But, not having found anything in his favor, they hanged him on the eve of the Passover.

"The facts in this passage are somewhat difficult to assimilate. Although Yeshu is referring to Jesus, the announcement that he was to be stoned (a lethal punishment) is followed by the statement that he was hanged (crucified). One possible explanation is that the Jewish leadership's call for his stoning preceded his eventual arrest by at least those forty days. This would be consistent with Scripture's accounts of his numerous near-stonings (John 10:31-33, 11:8 ).

"Jesus' death by crucifixion may have then just been a matter of Roman involvement in the affair. Perhaps it is more likely that his sudden crucifixion (which immediately followed his arrest and dubious midnight trial) was gladly allowed by the Jewish leaders to pre-empt the normal forty day holding period for a condemned man. The leaders may have feared that, during this time, Jesus' followers might have been able to organize his release or stir up an outcry against them."

-- SUMMARY

In summary, what can we conclude about the figure of Jesus Christ by only listening to non-Christians of the first centuries? That he was an invented myth? Absolutely not. Just by listening to Jesus' enemies and outsiders, we can put together the following profile on Christ and his influence; the sum of which positively affirms the believability of the Bible and deity of his person:

* Jesus was a wise man and was called the Christ or Messiah, (Josephus)
* Jesus gained many disciples from many nations, (Josephus)
* He healed blind and lame people in Bethsaida and Bethany, (Julian the Apostate)
* He was accused of practicing sorcery and leading Israel astray, (the Talmud)
* Under Herod, and during the reign of Tiberius, Pontius Pilate condemned Christ to die, (Tacitus)
* Christ was crucified on the eve of Passover, (the Talmud)
* His crucifixion was accompanied by three hours of unexplained darkness, (Thallus)
* Christ's disciples, "reported that he had appeared to them three days after his crucifixion and that he was alive;", (Josephus)
* His disciples took to the habit of meeting on a fixed day of the week and took their name "Christians" from him, (Pliny)
* They gave worship to Christ "as to a god", (Pliny)
* They bound themselves over to abstaining from wicked deeds, fraud, theft, adultery, and lying, (Pliny)
* Christians held a contempt for death and were known for a voluntary self-devotion, (Lucian)
* Christians believed themselves all brothers from the moment of their conversion, (Lucian)
* Christians lived after Christ's laws, (Lucian)
* Christians were willingly tortured and even executed for their refusal to deny their belief in the resurrection and deity of Jesus Christ. (Josephus, Tacitus, Pliny, Lucian)
jcr4runner

Postby AMbomb » Sat Feb 18, 2006 1:33 pm

Literalist (as opposed to gnostic) Christian writers can't be trusted because we already know they believed Jesus existed. Otherwise, they wouldn't be literalist Christians. The fact that someone who we already know believes Jesus existed wrote that he existed proves nothing.
 
Pliny, as you admit, makes no specific mention of Jesus. As for Seutonius, there's no indication he was referring to Jesus. Crestus was a common name. So, it's not logical to assume it was a corruption of Christ. Even if it was, Christ is a Greek translation of messiah. There were any number of would be messiahs inciting rebellion among the Jews. And even Christians don't believe Jesus ever visited Rome. It doesn't say he did in the Bible. Does it? As for the Talmud, Yeshu was an extremely common name and even if that passage does refer to Jesus, it can't be treated as evidence because it was written so late. The Talmud wasn't written until the year 200 and we don't know if that was an early passage. 27 pagan writers wrote within 100 years of the time Jesus supposedly lived. Their works could fill a library. Yet none of them mention Jesus.
AMbomb

Take this as you will.

Postby Tanja_von_Hannover » Sat Feb 18, 2006 2:25 pm

As the body of Jesus has not yet been found, it cannot be proven or disproven that he did in fact, exist.

Now either he died and was ressurected, or if his body was stolen and destroyed is a completely different subject.

But as there is no body of Jesus, it cannot be proven that he existed, or that he did not.

- Tanja von Hannover

Postby jcr4runner » Thu Feb 23, 2006 1:29 am

AMbomb wrote: 27 pagan writers wrote within 100 years of the time Jesus supposedly lived. Their works could fill a library. Yet none of them mention Jesus.
The problem with your conjecture is that no serious historian actually believes Jesus did not exist. The contemporary debate concerns not His existence, but His divinity. In light of the archaeological discoveries of the past century, the evidence that Jesus was a first century Jew who lived in Galilee is overwhelming.

There may be some webloggers such as yourself who publish their amateurish attempt at criticism, but you cannot name a single credible researcher or historian who currently holds to your view.

First of all, there are volumes of works from the first and second centuries mentioning Jesus and quoting the New Testament. Even if all of the copies of the Bible in the entire world were burned, we could still reproduce all of scripture from the writings of the Church Fathers of the first and second centuries alone.

To name just a few:

* The Didache, a late first century catechism, quotes extensively from the New Testament.

* Ignatius (A.D. 35-110), the Bishop of Antioch, quotes from 16 New Testament books.

* Irenaeus (A.D. 130 -200), the second century Bishop of Lyons, makes 1,819 references to New Testament scriptures.

* Tertullian (A.D. 160 -220) quotes from the New Testament 7,258 times.

You cannot account for the fact that the New Testament was written in the first century if Jesus did not exist.

There are no longer any Higher Critics who deny the existence of Christ. We now have only to contend with those critics searching for a "historical Jesus." The problem even with this version of liberalism is that we have volumes of work by the Church Fathers who were writing in the late first and second centuries. Since they quote from the New Testament books extensively, we can know that the church in many areas of the Roman Empire had access to all of the New Testament scriptures. So the Gospels must have been written sometime in the first century, during the time of the Apostles.
jcr4runner

Postby AMbomb » Thu Feb 23, 2006 3:56 am

You can cite Christian writers till the bombers come home. It doesn't mean a thing. I've already explained to you why their writings can't be trusted.

Critical estimates place the New Testament as being written between 150 and 225. But, let's assume earlier. So what? The Bible being written in the first century is not an indication that there was such a person as Jesus. Earlier pagan godman myths predate the Jesus myth by millennia.
AMbomb

Pagan vs. Christian writers

Postby jcr4runner » Thu Feb 23, 2006 11:51 am

All but the most skeptical historians admit Jesus was a real person. You cannot find one credible researcher who currently denies this as a historical fact. You cannot produce the name of one published historian.

There were certainly pagan writers who mention Jesus. Some deny this using the confabulated means to explain them away as you have done. Of course, there were not as many records of Jesus by pagan writers as Christian writers. This is due to the fact that up until the second century Christianity was a small sect except for a few dozen churches in large urban areas, such as Rome, Antioch and Jerusalem. It is not surprising that pagan historians took little notice until the sect grew. But there is mention of Jesus and Christians by a handful of late first century and second century pagans. Most non-religious historians accept these sources although some think the accounts may have been embellished.

It is certain that Nero persecuted the Christians within 35 years after Jesus' death and several of the Apostles were executed by the Emperor. There are ample recordings of this event.

Denial is evidence of an irrationally biased agenda.

You also write that:

"Critical estimates place the New Testament as being written between 150 and 225."

How is it then that we have writers from the late first century and early second century quoting the New Testament extensively? The scriptures must have been widely disseminated for at least a generation in order for this to been the case.

William Foxwell Albright, one of the world’s foremost archaeologists, said: “In my opinion, every book in the New Testament was written by a baptized Jew between the 40s and 80s of the first century A.D. (very probably sometime between about A.D. 50 to 75).”
jcr4runner

Postby jcr4runner » Thu Feb 23, 2006 11:58 am

AMbomb wrote:But, let's assume earlier. So what? The Bible being written in the first century is not an indication that there was such a person as Jesus. Earlier pagan godman myths predate the Jesus myth by millennia.
And the difference is that those myths have no historical corroboration, while the New Testament can be corroborated by independent historians and archaeological evidence in minute detail.

There were many stories about gods who died and were resurrected, but they were thought of as legends, or as myths symbolic of the renewal of spring after winter. Adonis, Hercules, the Norse god Balder and other heroic God-man figures died and rose from the dead "long ago and far away." Jesus, on the other hand, died at a particular time and place in history, under the jurisdiction of Pontius Pilate, Procurator of Judea from 26 to 36 A.D., during the last ten years of the reign of the Emperor Tiberius.
jcr4runner

Postby AMbomb » Thu Feb 23, 2006 11:51 pm

The New Testament is totally uncorroborated! That's what I've been trying to explain to you. The godman myths, including the Jesus myth, are all essentially identical. It's the same story told over and over again with different names. The Jesus story isn't 2,000 years old. It's at least 5,000 years old!
AMbomb

Your hyberbole is incredible

Postby jcr4runner » Mon Feb 27, 2006 6:57 pm

When you say that the New Testament is totally uncorroborated, you are saying that it contains no factual record of history recorded by independent historians?

The fact is that the Jews recorded exact historical references -- the best of all the ancient historians -- because they believed that God was trying to teach them something through history. In keeping with this tradition, the writers of the Gospels sought to record accurate historical events surrounding the life of Christ.

For instance, in Luke 2:1, we see that Jesus was born in the days when Quirinius was governor of Syria; and when Caesar Augustus was Emperor. In Luke 3:1, we are given the exact year of the beginning of Jesus’ ministry: “in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar; Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea; Herod being tetrarch of Galilee; his brother Phillip the tetrarch of Iturea and the region of Trachonitis; and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene.”

These were the rulers of the surrounding countries of Judea in the first century. These are all true persons and places that may be corroborated in other recorded histories.

There are many examples of how recent archaeological finds have corroborated the people, places and events that are recorded in the Gospel stories.

The difference between the Gospels and the pagan god-man myths is that the Gospels record dates, actual historical events and people. There is real physical evidence for the reliability of the Gospel stories. Recently, there have been inscriptions found about Caiaphas the High Priest and Pontius Pilate that were previously unknown.

In addition to the New Testament, there are volumes of writings by Christians who were eyewitnesses of Jesus ministry or the ministry of the Apostles. They believed Jesus lived, performed miracles, died on a cross and was resurrected.

In contrast, the pagans viewed their stories as myths. The ancient Greeks did not actually believe that Hercules was a historical person. There is no date assigned to any ancient myth because there were no eyewitnesses who recorded the events. In fact, the recorders of ancient myths do not even pretend to be factual.

You may have read over the weekend that a statue of Ramses II was found in Egypt. These archaeologists accept the biblical account that this was the Pharoah whom Moses confronted in the story of the Exodus. These archaeologists assign a date to Ramses rule which is corroborated by the chronologies and genealogies given in the Bible.

Your claims that these people never existed are not held even by the most skeptical of historians. Many historians will doubt the accuracy of biblical stories (the accounts of miracles, the creation account, etc.) but they do not doubt that the people, places and events recorded in the Bible actually existed. In fact, archaeology has proven tthe Bible to be the most accurate historical document from ancient times.
jcr4runner

Justin Martyr on pagan myths

Postby jcr4runner » Mon Feb 27, 2006 7:17 pm

"When we say that the Word, who is the first-birth of God, was produced without sexual union, and that He, Jesus Christ, our Teacher, was crucified and died, and rose again, and ascended into heaven, we propound nothing different from what you believe regarding those whom you esteem sons of Jupiter" [Justin Martyr, First Apology, 21].
The quote is used at the web site you mention in an attempt to prove that Chrsitianity was "borrowed" from ancient myths. The idea is that somehow this is the record of two religious groups debating whose "myth" was superior.

On the contrary, no one in the ancient world (except for children and simple people) actually believed that Jupiter or Zeus had sons who were historical persons.

In the time of Justin Martyr, there were Christians still alive who had been taught by the Apostles who in turn claimed to be eyewitnesses of the ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus. In contrast to the pagan myths, the eyewitnesses of Jesus ministry and those Christians who came afterward were so convinced of the Lordship of Jesus that they were willing to die as martyrs. They were executed not because they claimed Jesus was a god, but because they claimed Jesus REALLY was God and that Caesar was not their Lord.

There are no such records concerning Hercules or the "sons of Apollo."

The arguments of the early Christian apologists were not made against a competing myth, but against the idea that a Caesar could actually have an authority greater than Christ. Even though several Emperors were deified, this was thought of mainly as a symbolic tribute. There were many such gods and sons of gods in the Greek and Roman world.

So why did the Romans view the early Christians as a threat? Only for the reason that they actually believed and were willing to die for their belief. If this Jesus really was the Son of God, then the entire Roman political system was threatened because there was a king with greater authority than Caesar.
jcr4runner

Re: Your hyberbole is incredible

Postby AMbomb » Sat Mar 04, 2006 5:00 pm

The New Testament is totally uncorroborated with respect to Jesus. Just because they record dates and real people doesn't mean that what the Gospels say is true. The Gospels, in fact, contradict eachother. And for the googeplexeth time, the writings of Christians cannot be trusted! I've already explained to you why. Stop bringing them up. You should ask yourself why there's no non-Christian corroboration of the Gospels. And by the way, the Jews were never in Egypt. So, the biblical account of Moses's confrontation with a Pharaoh is fiction.

Re: Justin Martyr on pagan myths

Postby AMbomb » Sat Mar 04, 2006 5:16 pm

The original Christians knew there was no Jesus, just like the followers of other pagan mystery religions knew their godmen didn't exist. It was only later that somebody got the idea that one of these guys actually existed. That was how literalist Christianity got started. For millenia prior to that, people had practiced mystery religions knowing full well that their godmen didn't really exist. The godman myths were allegories. They were supposed to reveal teachings of the mystery religions. They were never intended to be taken literally. If Jesus actually existed, that would mean that a godman myth propagated some 3,000 years earlier actually came true. Do you really think that's a more reasonable explanation than the one that says the Jesus myth was simply taken from earlier godman myths?
AMbomb

Corroboration includes archaelology as well as writings

Postby jcr4runner » Sat Mar 04, 2006 11:41 pm

You write that
The original Christians knew there was no Jesus, just like the followers of other pagan mystery religions knew their godmen didn't exist.
This is quite a ridiculous statement since the earliest non-biblical Chritian writings are clear on the divinity of Christ. There are no Christian writings that do not recognize Jesus as God.

Archaeologists have, in recent years, uncovered many manuscript fragments. Many of these fragments have been dated from the second and third centuries. The oldest known fragment is a tiny scrap of papyrus, 3-1/2" by 2-1/2" containing John 18:31-33. Scholars have assigned this fragment to the early part of the second century.

It should come as no surprise to the orthodox Christian, that the oldest surviving Gospel text matches what today's Bible says:
"Then Pilate said to them, "You take Him and judge Him according to your law." Therefore the Jews said to him, "It is not lawful for us to put anyone to death," that the saying of Jesus might be fulfilled which He spoke, signifying by what death He would die. Then Pilate entered the Praetorium again, called Jesus, and said to Him, "Are You the king of the Jews?
How ironic in view of your claim that a central passage concerning Christ's deity is in fact the oldest surviving record of the Gospel!

Corroboration for the New Testament also includes recently discovered archaeological inscriptions of people mentioned in scripture, such as the High Priest Caiaphas, but not recorded elsewhere. This tells us that the New Testament is a highly reliable document.

With your regard to the reliability of the Old Testament, your claim that the Jews were not in Egypt, there are Egyptian inscriptions that mention the Hebrews and Moses.

We also have several accounts by pagan writers of the Christians at the time of Nero who were put to death for their belief in the Lordship of Jesus Christ. It would be hard to imagine contemporaries of Jesus dying for a belief that they did not hold or knew to be fraudulent.

I don't discount the writings of early Christians as being "biased" or untrustworthy. Since Jesus was the Son of God and He had unlimited power to illuminate men's hearts, it isn't remarkable to see that most of the writings of people who knew Him were by his disciples. In fact, all who encountered Jesus became believers to some degree even if by thought only and not by true faith. For example, we see the mere mental assent in the account of the Roman centurion who witnessed Jesus' death and exclaimed, "Surely this was the Son of God."
jcr4runner

Other pagan historians who record Jesus

Postby jcr4runner » Sat Mar 04, 2006 11:43 pm

But besides first century Christians who were eyewitnesses there are other pagan historians I haven't mentioned yet who record the existence of the man Jesus.

THALLUS, the Samaritan-born historian

One of the first Gentile writers who mentions Christ is Thallus, who wrote in A.D. 52. However, his writings have disappeared and we only know of them from fragments cited by other writers. One such writer is Julius Africanus, a Christian writer about A.D. 221. One very interesting passage relates to a comment from Thallus. Julius Africanus writes:
Thallus, in the third book of his histories, explains away this darkness as an eclipse of the sun -unreasonably, as it seems to me" (unreasonably, of course, because a solar eclipse could not take place at the time of the full moon, and it was the season of the Paschal full moon that Christ died).
Thus, from this reference we see that the Gospel account of the darkness which fell upon the land during Christ's crucifixion was well known and required a naturalistic explanation from those non-believers who witnessed it.

PHLEGON, a first-century historian

His Chronicles have been lost, but a small fragment of that work, which confirms the darkness upon the earth at the crucifixion, is also mentioned by Julius Africanus. After his (Africanus') remarks about Thallus' unreasonable opinion of the darkness, he quotes Phlegon that
"during the time of Tiberius Caesar an eclipse of the sun occurred during the full moon."
Phlegon is also mentioned by Origen in Contra Celsum, Book 2, sections 14, 33, 59.

Philopon [De. opif mund. 11 211 says:
"And about this darkness ... Phlegon recalls it in the Olyinpiads [the title of his history]." He says that "Phlegon mentioned the eclipse which took place during the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus Christ, and no other [eclipse], it is clear that he did not know from his sources about any [similar] eclipse in previous times ... and this is shown by the historical account itself of Tiberius Caesar."
LETTER OF MARA BAR-SERAPION

F. F. Bruce records that there is in the British Museum an interesting manuscript preserving the text of a letter written some time later than A.D. 73. This letter was sent by a Syrian named Mara Bar-Serapion to his son Serapion. He compares the deaths of Socrates, Pythagoras and Christ.
What advantage did the Athenians gain from putting Socrates to death? Famine and plague came upon them as a judgment for their crime. What advantage did the men of Samos gain from burning Pythagoras? In a moment their land was covered with sand. What advantage did the Jews gain from executing their wise King? It was just after that that their kingdom was abolished. God justly avenged these three wise men: the Athenians died of hunger; the Samians were overwhelmed by the sea; the Jews, ruined and driven from their land, live in complete dispersion. But Socrates did not die for good; he lived on in the teaching of Plato. Pythagoras did not die for good; he lived on in the statue of Hera. Nor did the wise King die for good; He lived on in the teaching which He had given.
Of course, an atheist will doubt this as unreliable simply because the information was preserved by Christians without contrary proof that it is unreliable. That is the agenda of atheism, to suppress the truth in unrighteousness with no regard to the facts of history.
jcr4runner

Re: Corroboration includes archaelology as well as writings

Postby AMbomb » Sun Mar 05, 2006 2:19 am

The earliest known Christian writings were the letters of Paul, written around the year 50. Paul was, in fact, a gnostic. He knew there was no Jesus. Nero was emperor from 54-68. Christians believe Jesus died between the years 30 and 35. In any case, there were no literalist Christians at the time of Nero. Literalist Christianity didn't get started until sometime after the Maccabee rebellion in 70. Besides, even if they did believe that Jesus really did exist and really was the son of God, that doesn't mean they were right. I never said the New Testament was wrong about every single thing contained in its pages. I said that its uncorroborated with respect to Jesus. The fact that certain things it contains have been corroborated is irrelevent. In other words, just because parts of it are true doesn't mean all of it is. The Egyptians, like the Romans, kept tons of records. There is no record of the Jews ever being in Egypt. Your reasoning for refusing to discount the writings of Christians is circular. You know Jesus existed because of these writings. You know these writings are correct because Jesus is the son of God. Illogical. And you didn't answer my question.
AMbomb

Re: Other pagan historians who record Jesus

Postby AMbomb » Sun Mar 05, 2006 2:56 am

Let me get this straight. A Christian with reason to lie writes that these other two guys wrote about Jesus. The alleged writings of these other two guys are unavailable. Some time in the near future, there may be a court case to determine whether or not there was a Jesus. What do you think will happen if someone tries to submit the writings of Julius Africanus as evidence? Mara Bar Sarapion doesn't mention Jesus by name. Furthermore, even Christians don't claim Jesus was king of Israel despite the Christmas carol. Speaking of Christmas, December 25 is the birthday of the pagan godman Mithras, who was born to a virgin mother. What a coinkydink!
AMbomb

Circles

Postby jcr4runner » Sun Mar 05, 2006 11:09 am

We seem to be going around in circles on the topic of whether pagans mentioned Jesus in the first and second century and whether early Christians have any credibility at all.

But I consider your logic to be circular: "Christian historians are not a credible witness of Christian history." That would be like saying that there is no written evidence that Augustus Caesar existed or that he was proclaimed in some Roman inscriptions to be the son of a god. He was merely a legendary hero such as King Arthur and we cannot trust historians within one generation of his death because they were ROMANS holding to the Roman religion and therefore biased. The fact is that ALL Roman historians at the time of Caesar were Romans -- just as ALL Christian apologists for Jesus were Christians. It's so obvious. But there are records and inscriptions by both Christians and pagans from the first and early second centuries recording the Christian belief that Jesus was the Son of God. The most obvious one is by Pliny the Younger and there are at least a dozen other references and archaeological evidences in the form of inscriptions.

It wasn't that unusual in Roman times for a person to be proclaimed divine. The difference is that Jesus claimed to be the Son of the ONE Creator God and His followers REALLY believed it and were willing to be martyred for that belief.

In any case, we ought to move on to some of your other objections. I won't be touching on this again for a while.
jcr4runner

Some of your facts are wrong

Postby jcr4runner » Sun Mar 05, 2006 11:54 am

Some of your facts are wrong.
The earliest known Christian writings were the letters of Paul, written around the year 50.
But you are right here.

I think it is great that you admit that a man named Paul wrote the letters of Paul. For a long time, liberal critics would not admit this, but with so many of the early Church fathers quoting Paul, there would have to have been widely circulated letters at least 20 to 40 years prior to AD 90. So I agree. The letters of Paul were written from the early 50s to the mid 60s.

The Gospels existed in oral form until the same time period. The Bible was written by the eyewitnesses of Jesus' ministry His own disciples and by apostles that later arose in the first century church, Paul, Luke, Mark, James and Jude. Although 19th century scholars once tried to assign later dates to New Testament books, modern scholars regard the New Testament as a primary source document from the first century. There are many ways to validate the Bible's authenticity.

Eusebius, the 4th century historian, drawing information from Papias, who was the Apostle John's student, tells us that the Gospel of Mark was actually Peter's account of the life of Jesus as told to his student Mark:

"The Elder (John) used to say this also: 'Mark, having been the interpreter of Peter, wrote down everything that he mentioned, whether sayings or doings of Christ, not, however, in order. For he was neither a hearer nor a companion of the Lord; but afterwards, as I said, he accompanied Peter, who adapted his teachings as necessity required ... So then Mark made no mistake, writing down in this way some things as he (Peter) mentioned them; for he paid attention to this one thing, not to omit anything that he had heard, not to include any false statement among them."

Eusebius also tells us that Mark was Peter's interpreter and travelled with him to Rome in 60 A.D. During the reign of the Roman emperor Nero, the Roman authorities used a copy of Mark's Gospel as evidence to implicate the Christians as the cause of a large fire which had burned much of the city. On a papyrus scroll appeared the title: "The Gospel of Jesus Christ the Son of God." In the ensuing period, Christians were persecuted as scapegoats. Evidently the title of Mark's Gospel was misconstrued as treasonous.
Paul was, in fact, a gnostic. He knew there was no Jesus.
Gnostic views of the Godhead were opposed by Paul in his writings, by Peter in his second epistle, by the Apostle John in his writings, and by the Church Fathers and apologists.

The Apostle Paul wrote in his first epistle to Timothy:

"O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called" (1 Timothy 6:20).

It's worth noting here that the word translated as "science," or as "knowledge" in some translations, is the Greek word gnosis. Paul is warning his young disciple Timothy against the error of Gnosticism. Likewise, the letter to the Colossians also deals with Gnosticism.

"Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ "(Colossians 2:8 ) .

"Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind" (Colossians 2:18 ) .

Peter's second epistle also warns against heresies. Many scholars believe he is referring specifically to the teachings of Gnosticism.

"But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction" (2 Peter 2:1).

John's writings were written in part to counter the Gnostic error that supposed that Christ came in spirit form only, but not in human flesh.

"That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon and touched with our hands" (1 John 1:1).

"By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit which confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God" (1 John 4:2) .

John further condemns the "mystery religions" that had corrupted first century Jews represented by the harlot in the book of Revelation.

"And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication: And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS" (Revelation 17:3,4) .
Nero was emperor from 54-68. Christians believe Jesus died between the years 30 and 35. In any case, there were no literalist Christians at the time of Nero. Literalist Christianity didn't get started until sometime after the Maccabee rebellion in 70.
The Maccabean Rebellion occurred at the time of 165 BC not 70 AD.

You may be thinking of the seige of Jerusalem by Titus from 68 to 70 AD.
Besides, even if they did believe that Jesus really did exist and really was the son of God, that doesn't mean they were right. I never said the New Testament was wrong about every single thing contained in its pages. I said that it's uncorroborated with respect to Jesus. The fact that certain things it contains have been corroborated is irrelevant. In other words, just because parts of it are true doesn't mean all of it is.
You may not believe it, but this is what good historian does in order to evaluate whether a source is reliable. The historian looks for other independent sources that corroborate the history of the primary source. If there is a great deal of matching facts, then the source is considered highly reliable. For instance, Luke speaks in His Gospel many times of Jesus' interaction with historical persons who can be cound in other records and inscriptions. Therefore, Luke's record is considered to be accurate. It is also a fact that the greatest historians of ancient times were the Jews. That is why Josephus and Trypho are considered to be so valuable in corroborating the Gospel accounts and Acts.
The Egyptians, like the Romans, kept tons of records. There is no record of the Jews ever being in Egypt.
Archaeologists have discovered the Stele of Mernptah whic contains the following inscription:

Israel is wasted, bare of seed,
Khor is become a widow for Egypt.
All who roamed have been subdued.
By the King of Upper and Lower Egypt

http://www.touregypt.net/victorystele.htm

According an article at Wikipedia:

"Rameses II, is commonly considered to be a pharaoh with whom Moses squabbled - either as the 'Pharaoh of the Exodus' himself, or the preceding 'Pharaoh of the Oppression' who is said to have commissioned the Hebrews to "(build) for Pharaoh treasure cities, Pithom and Raamses." These cities are known to have been built under both Seti I and Rameses II, possibly making his successor Merneptah 'Pharaoh of the Exodus.' This is considered plausible by those who view the famed stele of Merneptah's 5th year (ca. 1208 BC), claiming that 'Israel is wasted, bare of seed,' as propaganda covering up his own loss of an army in the sea."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moses#Moses_in_history

Here is another interesting article giving some archaeological evidence that the Hebrews escaped from Egypt.

http://www.ensignmessage.com/archives/redsea.html
jcr4runner

Re: Circles

Postby AMbomb » Sun Mar 05, 2006 1:47 pm

My logic isn't circular at all. My logic is perfectly straight. Christians believe that Jesus existed. Therefore, it's no surprise that they wrote that he existed. It also means that what they wrote can't be trusted because we already know they believe Jesus existed. If you already know someone believes something, it really doesn't mean anything if he writes down what he believes. Let's say you knew someone who believed aliens have visited Earth. Let's say that person wrote a book in which he claimed aliens have visited Earth. Would you be more inclined to believe aliens have visited Earth just because that person wrote down what he believed in a book? No, you wouldn't. You already knew what that person believed. So, the fact that he wrote it down doesn't mean anything. What you need to establish whether or not what that person believes is true is verification from an objective source. The Jesus story doesn't have that.
AMbomb

Re: Some of your facts are wrong

Postby AMbomb » Sun Mar 05, 2006 3:05 pm

I'm sure Paul wasn't his real name. It's probably an anglicized version of his real name. Anyway, some of the letters attributed to him are forgeries. Read The Jesus Mysteries for more information on the letters of Paul. Lack of records isn't the only problem with the Moses story. According to the Bible, 600,000 men were held as slaves in Egypt. Assuming 600,000 women and 300,000 kids, that's 1,500,000 people. There's no evidence of anything more than a few scattered encampments out in the desert where the Jews were supposedly wandering around. Not only that, but how would all these people have survived in the desert for 40 years? And why would it have taken them so long to get where they were going? And evaluating parts of a book may be what historians do to assess reliability under ordinary circumstances. But, we're talking about a book that makes supernatural claims here. In that case, it's not logical to assume that just because one part of a book is true that all of it is true. If someone wrote a book in which he claimed ghosts or zombies or vampires or werewolves existed, would it be enough to simply verify that certain other parts of the book were true?
AMbomb

Historicity vs. Accountability of Reason

Postby revrosado » Wed Mar 08, 2006 2:43 pm

"AM"'s focus is on the verification of the Biblical record aka "Christian writers" by other sources, to wit, pagans. For any other non-christian source would be pagan as you have all held as established.

Yet in the very same argument the alluded verification of "Jesus the Godman" is stated by "AM" himself.

For in all of man's history God has manifested the truth and veracity of Jesus by way of the created reality. The created stuff of the universe and the intellectual pursuit of knowledge (science). Therefore, the myths of yeateryear(secular, gentile, pagan) and the shadows of the old testament (Jew) were all brought to light in the person of Jesus Christ.

Reasoning properly applied to the sciences and to logic will bring forth the matter of the Christ as the illumination of man from his dark slumber of ignorance and basic information processing. History without reasoning is a waste of the human experience and mind. If we do not LEARN from history - we are doomed to repeat the errors of history as in the arguments of "AM" are the denial of the sum of all human thought.

If an ignorant mind views history, that history is devoid of any light. The illuminated mind sees light and sees history in the light thereof.

To wit, if Jesus was of no existential significance, then the whole of the universe was unable to squash a myth. Reality is a force of truth. Reality has permanence. All others are such - myths. Yet only one piece of history - changed all the world forever! A Myth?

Reason....Reason....

If the permanence of the Christian "myth" serve as no foundation for a man's reasoning, then in light of the sum of all the myths of humanity that speak to God as man, to virgin birth, to redemption from darkness, to restoration of life, to perpetuity of life, to duality of existance, et al - do they all not serve as a hint at least?

And what derive ye of that hint? If you take the sum of all the sciences and what acumen have you therein, can you not see a relationship in truths between them and the myths culminating and blossoming in Jesus the Christ? And if your brain now offers the question "how so?", then I say to you that you have a lot to learn before you can consider yourself intellectually qualified to discount Jesus the Christ as mere myth!

For I say this truly, that it is far easier to assimilate the Christ by faith than it is to deny him on the basis of facts and science - it is a hard thing to turn the sun off.
revrosado

Re: Historicity vs. Accountability of Reason

Postby AMbomb » Thu Mar 09, 2006 2:52 am

Your writing is hard to understand, revro. But, it seems to me you're wrapped up in assumptions. You assume the existence of God and Jesus. But, in reality, there's no evidence of the existence of either. Reason doesn't tell me that there was such a person as Jesus. It tells me that there wasn't.
AMbomb

Re: What bombers?

Postby AMbomb » Thu Mar 09, 2006 3:17 am

You've heard the expression till the cows come home, right? Well I substituted bombers for cows. And I'm not a pagan; I'm an atheist. The Jesus myth isn't a shadow of prior historical events. It's a godman myth taken from earlier godman myths. The New Testament is totally uncorroborated with respect to Jesus. It may be corroborated with respect to other things. It doesn't matter. As for my distrust of Christian writings. why don't you ask yourself the question I asked in message 23? By the way, Jackal, is that Obi Wan Kenobi in your little motion picture box? It should be Darth Vader. :D
AMbomb

Re: Historicity vs. Accountability of Reason

Postby jcr4runner » Thu Mar 09, 2006 10:29 pm

AMbomb wrote: Reason doesn't tell me that there was such a person as Jesus. It tells me that there wasn't.
I've asked this question before several times.

Can you list any contemporary historians who claim that Jesus of Nazareth did not exist in first century Galilee and Judea? I know that there are some people on the web who claim this. But I am talking about major historians who have been published by reputable publishing houses.

You can insist that "reason" tells you something, but until someone agrees with you, your reason is unreasonable.

Re: Historicity vs. Accountability of Reason

Postby AMbomb » Fri Mar 10, 2006 2:29 am

Whether or not my reason is reasonable has nothing to do with whether or not anyone agrees with me. I don't know the names of any contemporary historians, period. However, Timothy Freke and Peter Gandy, the authors of the Jesus Mysteries, make that claim and back it up with plenty of facts.
AMbomb

The Jesus Mysteries by Timothy Freke and Peer Gandy

Postby jcr4runner » Fri Mar 10, 2006 5:55 pm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Jesus_Mysteries
The Jesus Mysteries: Was the "Original Jesus" a Pagan God? is a 1999 book by Timothy Freke and Peter Gandy that attempts to reconstruct the true origins of Christianity. It relies heavily on the Gnostic gospels found at Nag Hammadi.

The cover of The Jesus Mysteries features a gem of Dionysus/Orpheus. This gem was pronounced a forgery by Otto Kern

The authors suggest that a number of pagan mystery religions, such as those of Osiris, Dionysus, Attis, and Mithras, were all manifestations of a single cult of a dying and rising "godman" myth, whom they call Osiris-Dionysus. The authors also assert that Jesus did not really exist, but was instead a syncretic re-interpretation of the fundamental pagan "godman" by the Gnostics, who were the original sect of Christianity as a consequence. Freke and Grandy, therefore, offer their own argument in support of the Jesus-Myth theory. Orthodox Christianity, according to them, was not the predecessor to Gnosticism, as conventional wisdom states, but a later outgrowth that rewrote history in order to make literal Christianity appear to predate the Gnostics.
Okay, now we are getting somewhere! Gnostic "Christianity" has recently reappeared in feminist theology and in liberal circles such as among the Jesus seminar and Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code.

If this is the "serious" scholarship that you cite, then we are going to have some fun here.

According to Wikipedia:
Critics have labeled the claims of The Jesus Mysteries far-fetched and based on insufficient research. For example, David Allan Dodson, a reviewer for CNN, found the book to be interesting, he stated that "while the authors discuss many examples of elements of Osiris/Dionysus in the Jesus story, they virtually ignore the more direct ties to Jewish tradition and prophecy. This oversight undermines the credibility of many of their arguments, and could have the tendency to mislead the novice reader in this subject". (CNN.com, "Review: Jesus -- man or myth?", September 21, 2000).

Among common complaints are that Freke and Gandy make selective use quotations (suppressing those that count against their thesis), that they use out of date scholarship and that they are driven by a new age and anti-Christian agenda. The most damaging allegation has been that the striking image on the cover of the book of a 4th century amulet showing Orpheus crucified has long been suspected of being a fake. Freke and Gandy knew this but gave no hint of it in their book.
jcr4runner

Did Gnostisicm predate Orthodox Christianity?

Postby jcr4runner » Fri Mar 10, 2006 6:02 pm

Did Gnostisicm predate Orthodox Christianity?

This is the main premise of Freke (great name!) and Gandy's book.

The Christian belief in the divinity of Jesus was recorded in many first and second century accounts, even some by pagan writers. For instance, Pliny the Younger wrote an account to the Emperor Trajan early in the second century about Christian practices. He wrote that:
“... they were accustomed to meet on a fixed day before dawn and sing responsively a hymn to Christ as to a god” (Pliny the Younger, Letters 10.96).
Perhaps the most outrageous historical gaffe committed by Dan Brown in The Da Vinci Code (and similar authors such as Freke) is the linking of the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Nag Hammadi library -- two separate archaeological finds compiled by two different religious sects in separate continents hundreds of years apart. Those who are well acquainted with biblical archaeology know this. But the casual reader is left with the impression that the Nag Hammadi writings are from the same time period.

The Dead Sea scrolls are thought to come from the second century B.C. Although some have tried to link the theology of the Jews who compiled the Dead Sea scrolls to early Christianity, most scholars do not believe that this find has anything to do with Jesus or the early Christians. And rest assured, these researchers are not part of a conspiracy to keep the truth from the public.

The fact that the Dead Sea scrolls survived since the mid-second century B.C. has actually confirmed the historical reliability of the received texts of the Old Testament. Contrary to the claims of the critics, the Old Testament scriptures preserved for thousands of years are virtually identical to the Dead Sea scrolls.

Likewise, if we compare the New Testament manuscripts from the earliest centuries together with passages quoted by the first and second century church fathers, we also see an amazing agreement with the New Testament of today.
jcr4runner

Why the "Gnostic Gospels" are known not to be authentic

Postby jcr4runner » Fri Mar 10, 2006 6:07 pm

There are a number of reasons why the so-called "Gnostic Gospels" did not win out in the contest of history. They were rejected shortly after their appearance as being not ancient enough to be the authentic writings of the Apostles. The Gnostic writings also lack a narrative structure. There is no history of the life of Jesus contained in them. They are collections of sayings, prayers, rituals and meditations written to support Gnostic beliefs and practices. Since the Gnostics had no use for the material world, they rejected history as important to communicating truth. This rejection of history is inconsistent with the structure of the books of the Bible, all of which record history or contain references which in turn help the reader determine the time, place and authorship of each book. Therefore, the church fathers rejected these writings as non-canonical.

Despite all the hype about the Nag Hammadi library, it turns out that the most reliable historical witnesses to the life of Jesus Christ are the writings of the Apostles found in the canon of the New Testament.

The Church Fathers and apologists quoted extensively from the New Testament in the late first and second centuries. Although Irenaeus and Tertullian quoted from some Gnostic writings in seeking to refute them, none of the second century apologists were aware of any “Gospels” written by the Gnostics. They argued instead against the way in which different Gnostic sects twisted the meanings of one of the four Gospels. This fact has led many historians to believe that Gnostic writings, such as the Gospel of Philip and Mary Magdalene, must have been written later in the third century. In fact, virtually all scholars agree that they do not come from a period any earlier than the mid-second century.

Irenaeus writing in the early second century made this interesting observation:
So firm is the ground upon which these Gospels rest, that the very heretics themselves bear witness to them, and, starting from these [documents], each one of them endeavours to establish his own peculiar doctrine (Irenaeus, Against Heresies, Book 5).
Irenaeus pointed out that each of the heretical Gnostic groups liked to center on the one Gospel they thought agreed the most with their teachings. The Ebionites used Matthew’s Gospel. The Docetics preferred the Gospel of Mark. The Marcionites claimed that Luke was the only true Gospel. The Valentinians used the Gospel according to John.

The apologists of the second century were actually the third generation of Christians. Some of them, such as Irenaeus, had actually been taught by men, such as Polycarp, who had known one or more of the Apostles who in turn had been taught by Jesus himself. Unlike the “secret Gospels” of the Gnostics, the “canon of truth,” as Irenaeus termed it, was entirely open to the public. The writings of the Apostles had been entrusted to their successors and these books in turn had been transmitted to the third generation.

Irenaeus claimed that the authenticity of the canon was guaranteed by two safeguards:

The first guarantee of authenticity is apostolic succession. There was an unbroken succession of bishops in cities such as Antioch, Ephesus, and Rome, which had churches founded by one or more of the Apostles. Irenaeus includes lists of these bishops in order of succession in his work Against Heresies. These bishops knew which were the authentic writings since the Apostles themselves passed down these books to them.

The second guarantee of authenticity is the visible canon. The canon was open and visible in the Church for all who cared to look at it. Not only did this include actual copies of the books of the New Testament, but also public preaching expounding on the texts. Irenaeus argued that the Holy Spirit had directed the bishops in the correct way to teach the Gospel message.

Less than a few decades after the last New Testament book was written, Church fathers such as Polycarp, Ignatius, Justin, Irenaeus, Tertullian and Clement quoted from almost every book in the New Testament in their defense of Christian orthodoxy. Tertullian, in writing against the Gnostic heretic Marcion, was aware of an “Old Testament” and a “New Testament.”
Now the Apostle John, in the Apocalypse, describes a sword which proceeded from the mouth of God as "a doubly sharp, two-edged one." This may be understood to be the Divine Word, who is doubly edged with the two testaments of the law and the gospel--sharpened with wisdom, hostile to the devil, arming us against the spiritual enemies of all wickedness and concupiscence, and cutting us off from the dearest objects for the sake of God's holy name (Against Marcion, Book 1).
It’s important to remember that at this time there was no such thing as “The Holy Bible” as we think of it today. It was not a nicely bound book with a table of contents and passages separated by chapter and verse. There was no “pocket New Testament” lying on Tertullian’s desk as he wrote his treatise against Gnosticism. The New Testament existed as 27 separate books that were copied by hand and circulated among the churches.

Even at this early date, Christians thought of the scriptures as the “Two Testaments of the Law and the Gospel” -- found in the Hebrew Bible and the writings of the Apostles. They were aware of the four Gospels and argued for the inclusion of all four against those Gnostics who would center on only one.
jcr4runner

Postby AMbomb » Sat Mar 11, 2006 12:07 am

Notice that David Dodson doesn't explicitly contradict the book's thesis: that Jesus didn't exist, but that the story of Jesus is a pagan godman myth taken from earlier ones. I can also tell you that Freke and Gandy don't ignore the ties to Judaism at all. What they basically say is that the Jesus myth is a fusion of Jewish and pagan mythology, a pagan godman myth with a Jewish twist if you will. Chapter 9 of the book is entitled The Jewish Mysteries. Apparently, Christianity was started by hellenized Jews. Furthermore, Dodgson's review is only one. How about these others: # "An erudite and well-researched book stuffed with controversial ideas" (Fiona Pitt-Kethley, Daily Telegraph).
# "Whether you conclude this book is the most alarming heresy of the millennium or the mother of all revelations, The Jesus Mysteries deserves to be read" (Fort Worth Star-Telegram).
# "This is not for readers with a delicate nervous system. The book is shock treatment in paperback" (Marie Mares, New Vision).
# "The theory is not new. For two centuries at least, scholars have been aware of the intriguing parallels between the accounts of Jesus' life and that of preceding and contemporaneous figures such as Osiris, Dionysus and Mithras. What is new is the powerful scholarship brought to the issue by authors Timothy Freke and Peter Gandy in The Jesus Mysteries, just published in Australia. The result, which draws strongly on the Gnostic gospels discovered at Nag Hammadi in 1945, is so persuasive that is doubtful whether theological scholarship will ever be the same" (Robert Macklin, The Canberra Times, "Panorama," 1 July 2000).
# "A provocative, exciting and challenging book" (Right Reverend John Shelby Spong, Bishop of Newark) ?
I have a good idea for you. Insted of relying on reviews of the book. Why don't you read it?
AMbomb

Shelby Spong?

Postby jcr4runner » Sat Mar 11, 2006 11:54 am

First, the positive reviews of the book are all by people with an agenda, not unbiased reviewers.

Second, anyone can publish an article on the Internet. Anyone can publish a book nowadays -- the only criteria for most publishing houses is if it will sell. The "positive" reviews that you see on sites advertising the books are the ones sought after. No one trying to sell a book will push the negative reviews equally.

There are a rash of books on the market in the last 10 to 20 years that promote the "Gnostic Christ" theory. I don't need to read every one of these. I know the basic argument. I am always doing reading on this lately. See my series on The Real Jesus:

http://forerunner.com/realjesus/open.html

The Gnostic Christ theory doesn't hold any water.

It is easily proven that while all of the New Testament was written in the first century, none of the Gnostic writings appeared until the late second century and later.

I was kind of amused by some of the articles I have been reading lately (by people who deny the existence of Jesus) who extol Schleiermacher and his ilk as though they are the final word and their higher critical theories haven't been thoroughly challenged by contemporary scholarship.

But still, you are missing my point. Liberal scholars do not discount the existence of Jesus Christ. They readily admit He existed. But they still rely on the sham scholarship of 19th century liberals which is outdated and unreliable.

You won't find a credible published scholar who holds your theory. No one with university credentials who is taken seriously.

But nevertheless, some people do swallow it and I'll be providing a point by point refutation of Freke's main premises.

It is almost a waste of time to argue against Freke since all but the most skeptical historians are convinced that Jesus of Nazareth most likely existed, but since he uses some of the same arguments we find in the Jesus Seminar's articles and books, it is worth going over.
jcr4runner

Re: Shelby Spong?

Postby AMbomb » Sat Mar 11, 2006 1:57 pm

How do you know the positive reviews came from people with an agenda? They came from the Wikipedia page you posted the link to, not a site advertising the book. You claim the gnostic Christ theory doesn't hold water. But, you haven't read what Freke and Gandy have to say on the subject. You claim the earliest gnostic writings don't appear until the second century. Freke and Gandy claim Paul was a gnostic and go into detail explaining why they make that claim. And through it all, noone has been able to provide an alternative explanation for how the Jesus story came to be so similar to pagan godman myths predating it by millenia.
AMbomb

The strategy of the skeptics -- Deny, deny, deny

Postby jcr4runner » Sat Mar 11, 2006 3:22 pm

The strategy of the skeptics -- Deny, deny, deny

The problem with writers such as Freke and Doherty is that they are authors with B.A.s who read some books written in the late 19th and early 20th century heyday of higher criticism. They are basically regurgitating the liberalism of 100 years ago.

Their degrees don’t qualify them to teach at the university level. Otherwise, they would have some credibility in academic circles. But they are not accomplished scholars. They are self-proclaimed “experts” who present a one-sided view. The basic tactic of Earl Doherty is to deny everything. It’s sort of like the tactic of AMBomb on this thread. There are evidences for the existence of Jesus that are accepted by most modern scholars, but Freke and Doherty simply deny the facts.

Here is an example from one such article:

http://jesuspuzzle.humanists.net/jhcjp.htm

In the article, Doherty makes some amazing denials, such as:
In the first half century of Christian correspondence, including letters attributed to Paul and other epistles under names like Peter, James and John, the Gospel story cannot be found.
Huh?

Here Doherty makes a huge assumption popular among the 19th century critics that the Gospels were not written in the first century. Most scholars now admit that they were.

He then goes on to state that none of the Gospel story appears in the Epistles.

The following is from Luke Timothy Johnson:

Here is just a brief summary of the “non-narrative” evidence from the Epistles that also appear the Gospel stories. Those points also attested to by non-Christian writers are marked with an asterisk.

1. Jesus was a human person (Paul, Hebrews)*
2. Jesus was a Jew (Paul, Hebrws)*
3. Jesus was of the tribe of Judah (Hebrews)
4. Jesus was a descendant of David (Paul)
5. Jesus mission was to the Jews (Paul)*
6. Jesus was a teacher (Paul, James)*
7. Jesus was tested (Hebrews)
8. Jesus prayed using the word ABBA (Paul)
9. Jesus prayed for deliverance from death (Hebrews)
10. Jesus Suffered (Paul, Hebrews, Peter)
11. Jesus interpreted his last meal with reference to his death (Paul -- mentioned also in the writings of Tacitus and Josephus)*
12. Jesus underwent a trial (Paul)*
13. Jesus appeared before Pontius Pilate (Paul)*
14. Jesus death involved the Jews (Paul)*
15. Jesus was crucified (Paul, Hebrews, 1 Peter)*
16. Jesus was buried (Paul)
17. Jesus appeared to witnesses after death (Paul)

So it is clear to see that the most vital elements of the Gospel story appear in the Epistles and some of these points are attested to by pagans who were biased against the Christians.

In “The Jesus Puzzle,” Doherty then goes on to say that:
The Gospel Jesus and his story is equally missing from the non-Christian record of the time.
Ironically, what follows is the list of pagan historians who do mention Jesus. Doherty counters this by denying the fact that they all mention Jesus and then in the same paragraph contradicting himself by admitting that the they do mention Jesus. He brushes this off by claiming that they must be forgeries.

The problem is that historians do not universally consider these passages to be forgeries. In addition, Josephus, Suetonius, Tacitus, Pliny, Lucian and Celsus refer to Christ and Christians sometimes in negative terms. This is hardly the strategy for a Christian forger who is trying to gain credibility for his movement.

When we look at Freke, we see much of the same posturing by a man holding a B.A. in a field unrelated to biblical scholarship and who professes to be a modern day Gnostic. The agenda here is not scholarship, it is to promote Gnosticism.

To say that Paul was a Gnostic is to deny many the points made by Paul (listed above) that are incompatible with the religion of Gnosticism. Since the Gnostics believed that all matter is evil, they taught that Christ was a spirit being and had only an illusive body. The Gnostics taught that Christ was a spirit temporarily inhabiting the body of the man Jesus who died.

Freke describes his beliefs as – “the timeless wisdom of awakening” – and we find this gem:
“that the Earth could be conceived as a Global Brain which was in the process of awakening to itself, with the explosion of connections being made across it right now comparable to neural networks.”
Yes, I am supposed to take seriously the rantings of a man who claims that the earth is a giant brain and the historical Jesus did not exist. Am I supposed to take this seriously? In fact, it strengthens my faith as a Christian to see that the alternatives are nut jobs.
jcr4runner

Re: The strategy of the skeptics -- Deny, deny, deny

Postby AMbomb » Sun Mar 12, 2006 1:35 am

Attacking people's credibility by attacking their credentials and calling them nut jobs, oldest tricks in the book. They never worked and they never will. FYI, Peter Gandy has a master's degree. You're critiquing a book you haven't even read. How can you expect anyone to give you any credibility when you do that? All the sources you cite in your list are either biblical, misinterpretations, forgeries or, in the case of Tacitus, taken from an unreliable source or unreliable sources. Hence, none of them are credible. In the case of 13 and 15, if Jesus appeared before Pontius Pilate and was crucified, why is there no record of it in the Roman archives? The Romans kept detailed records of their legal proceedings. Had that happened, there would've been a record of it. There isn't. 

AMbomb

Postby revrosado » Sun Mar 12, 2006 2:53 am

AM said: "And through it all, no one has been able to provide an alternative explanation for how the Jesus story came to be so similar to pagan godman myths predating it by millenia."

I did. I answered that in my last post which you say you did not comprehend. But I appreciate your candor.

Secondly, no one as far as I have perused is denying the pre-existence of "Godman" myths nor can it honestly be. Let us agree that the pre-existing myths encompass the whole of the Jesus story (although individually they may not all be comprehensive of it). Let us also admit that while Judah was held in captivity in Babylon, they were exposed if not indoctrinated in the mystical practices and beliefs of their pagan captors - whom also had some elements of the "Godman" myth. Knowing as you should that the progression and transfer of the mythical repertoire came through the Babylonians from Egypt and other conquered kingdoms, and passed on to the Persians before Judah was released and returned to Palestine, whilst the Greeks strengthened their pantheon of gods and godmen to a fortress. Being that the Jews were throughout this period of time intermittently but albeit, dominated and overrun by pagan kingdoms ending with that of Rome - all of whom had Godmen religions dominating their cultures. Why did the Jesus "Godman" "myth" take hold in a time when the Jews were not under any direct pagan influence, in the midst of a period of high religious zeal for Judaism even amongst Gentiles?

If you are going to debate evidence that Jesus existed - then the sociological and psychological question is posed. There can be no reasoning that supports Jew's acceptance of a "Godman" myth when there existed no social and / or political pressures to do so, compared to when they were under ages and ages of captivity - cultural and political pressure and even Royal mandates and the like, yet no "Godman myth" rose up among them (Daniel).

But it is like you said your own self..."a myth is a myth". The Jews did not follow a myth - Jesus is the 2nd Adam.

And remember - these were Jews first...they were not Christians believing in Jesus, they were Jews whom after considering what they saw and heard for themselves, then followed a man named Jesus - for Jews do not entertain myths and it is quite against their religion to worship anyone as God than God Himself.
revrosado

Postby AMbomb » Sun Mar 12, 2006 3:59 am

No, you didn't provide an alternative explanation. The only alternative explanation is that this pagan godman myth which dates back to 3000 BC came true. The Jesus story is a pagan godman myth. It's the same story told over and over again with different names. Jesus=Mithras=Osiris=Dionysus=lots of others. So, either it came true 3,000 years after it was first propogated or it's fiction. There are no other explanations. So, you tell me, which one makes more sense?
AMbomb

Detailed recordings

Postby jcr4runner » Sun Mar 12, 2006 11:21 am

If the Romans kept detailed legal proceedings, then could you please point me to all the official records of the legal proceedings and records of crucifixions in Judea in the years 26 through 30 A.D?

No, you can't because they do not exist.

You are relying on faulty and uncredited information from authors who make claims that almost everyone else in the academic world knows are untrue.

The fact that pagan myths are symbolically similar to the so-called "Christ myth" does not discount the reality of the person of Jesus who existed in the first century in Palestine. There are a lot of good writings on this over the years. C.S. Lewis, for instance, proposed that since the world was fallen, we are incurable myth makers. We re trying to get back what we once hhad. In this sense, the Gospel, Lewis wrote, the Gospel is no less a "myth" than the pagan stories. The difference is that the story of Jesus is true.
jcr4runner

Re: Detailed recordings

Postby AMbomb » Sun Mar 12, 2006 1:23 pm

Let me put it to you another way. If you say the Jesus story is true, then you're saying all the pagan godman myths came true centuries or millenia after they were propogated. Is that what you believe?
AMbomb
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Top

Roman records

Postby jcr4runner » Sun Mar 12, 2006 3:34 pm

I see you are punting on the "highly detailed legal records of the Romans" claim. That is good, because according to the histories I have read, the Romans would not have cared too much about the people they executed mercilessly. Some historians claim that in Jerusalem alone, the Romans executed thousands of Jews -- no specific court records exist today.

AMbomb's argument is based on the idea that Christian testimony about Jesus is biased and therefore invalid. But until Christianity had spread, few people except Christians (and Jews opposed to the new sect) would have been interested in Jesus.

But later records by pagans are discounted by AMBomb because they may have been tainted by association with Christian scribes who maintained the records after 325 A.D.

This is an interesting conspiracy theory. But good historians do not set up conspiracy theories that are impossible to prove or disprove. It is a valid argument in that it is at least possible, but highly unlikely to be true -- and here is why:

We have the writings of Church fathers and pagan historians who give detailed accounts which corroborate the New Testament history in great detail. Historians almost always disagree with each other and human histories contain many mistakes. The extra-biblical accounts of Jesus and the early Christians are no exception. One would imagine that if they were tainted by the biased redaction of Christian scribes, that some of the most glaring errors would be corrected. For instance, we have the usually acccurate Irenaeus, stating in one place tthat Jesus lived to be 50 years old, while the Gospels count his age to be no more than 33 at the time of his death.

(I can hear the conpiracy theorists saying: "Aha! But that's just exactly what they wanted you to think")

What AMBomb is proposing is that there was a conspiracy to change all early Christian and pagan writings to reflect a "historical Jesus" who never actually existed in first century Palestine -- and to excise the Gnosticism of New Testament writers such as Paul replacing it with the orthodox version.

Well, it is at least possible that such a massive conspiracy could have existed. But let's look at what would have to happen in order for a such a massive reordering of history to have taken place.

If this alteration took place after the third century, say at about the time of the Council of Nicea, copies of the manuscripts in question -- by that time spread across much of Europe, northern Africa, Asia Minor, and the Middle East -- would have to be located, destroyed and replaced by the Church conspirators.

A systematic redaction of early Christian and pagan writings would have to be undertaken. By the end of the second century, the writings of church fathers and apologists contained literally tens of thousands of references to the New Testament.

Yet we have evidence in the thousands of New Testament manuscripts and fragments that have been unearthed by modern archaeology that no such conspiracy existed.

Modern archaeology has also discovered many New Testament commentaries and Christian writings from the early centuries that were previously unknown to Christian historians. Just to give one example, the Didache, a Christian teaching manual for new converts, was discovered in the late 1800s. Most scholars agree that this book was probably written in the late first century no more than 60 to 70 years after the crucifixion of Christ.

For this conspiracy theory to be true, these artifacts from the early centuries would have to bear witness to the teachings of the early Gnostics -- rather than the supposedly "later" orthodox Christians. But in fact, they do not. The earliest Christian writings, even those unearthed recently, corroborate the New Testament passages passed down to us in the received text of the Bible.

Question about mythology

Postby jcr4runner » Sun Mar 12, 2006 4:16 pm

I don't follow the logic of your question about mythology.
all the pagan godman myths came true centuries or millenia after they were propogated.

No, I don't think that follows from what I wrote. What I am saying depends on how you define "mythology." The colloquial meaning of "myth" is just something that is not true. But "mythology" has another meaning.

Probably the best explanation I have seen comes from the authorized biography of J.R.R. Tolkien:
"When Lewis and Tolkien had first met, Lewis was beginning to perceive the inadequacy of the agnosticism into which he had lapsed, having previously discarded any remnants of childhood Christianity. By the summer of 1929 he had renounced agnosticism and professed himself a theist, believing in the existence of God but denying the claims of Christianity. Essentially this was his position when, in September 1931, he had the discussion with Tolkien and their mutual friend, Hugo Dyson, which was destined to have a revolutionary impact on his life. After dinner the three men went for a walk and discussed the nature and purpose of myth. Lewis explained that he felt the power of myths but that they were ultimately untrue. As he expressed it to Tolkien, myths were 'lies and therefore worthless, even though breathed through silver.'

"No," Tolkien replied, "They are not lies."

"Tolkien argued that, far from being lies, myths were the best way of conveying truths which would otherwise be inexpressible. We have come from God and inevitably the myths woven by us, though they contain error, reflect a splintered fragment of the true light, the eternal truth that is with God. Myths may be misguided, but they steer however shakily toward the true harbor, whereas materialistic 'progress' leads only to the abyss and to the power of evil.

"Building on this philosophy of myth, Tolkien and Dyson went on to express their belief that the story of Christ was simply a true myth: a myth that works in the same way as the others, but a myth that really happened. Whereas pagan myths revealed fragments of eternal truth through the words of poets, the True Myth of Christianity revealed the whole truth through the Word himself. The poets of pagan antiquity told their story with words, but God, the omnipotent Poet, told the True Story with facts -- weaving his tale with the actions of real men in actual history.

"Tolkien's arguments had an indelible effect on Lewis. The edifice of his unbelief crumbled and the foundations of his Christianity were laid. Twelve days later Lewis wrote to a friend that he had 'just passed on from believing in God to definitely believing in Christ -- in Christianity. ... My long night talk with Dyson and Tolkien had a good deal to do with it.' "
So Lewis, an agnostic, came to be one of the greatest and most read Christian theologians of the 20th century.
jcr4runner

Re: Roman records

Postby AMbomb » Sun Mar 12, 2006 6:32 pm

The Romans kept lots of records of their legal proceedings. A record would've been made if Jesus had been tried and executed in Judea (or anywhere else in the empire). Not only that, but there is no mention of Jesus in any of the Roman archives. You claim there are no records of crucifixions between the years 26 and 30. It was my understanding that Jesus was believed to have been crucified between 30 and 35.
AMbomb

Re: Question about mythology

Postby AMbomb » Sun Mar 12, 2006 6:40 pm

The story of Jesus is the story of all the other pagan godmen. It's the same story. So, saying that story is true is saying that all those others came true. Is that what you believe, yes or no?
AMbomb

Answers

Postby jcr4runner » Sun Mar 12, 2006 8:16 pm

My answers are in the posts above. Here are the main ideas.

1. You cannot produce any legal records of crucifixions from Palestine in the time of Jesus. So your point is meaningless.

2. No. The Gospel isn't the same story. Pagan stories never truly happened.
jcr4runner

Re: Answers

Postby AMbomb » Sun Mar 12, 2006 9:04 pm

jcr4runner wrote:1. You cannot produce one legal record from Palestine in the time of Jesus.
I find that hard to believe.
jcr4runner wrote:2. No. It isn't the same story. Pagan stories never truly happened.
Circular argument! :lol: You know Jesus existed because the Jesus story is different from the pagan godman myths. You know the Jesus story is different from the pagan godman myths because Jesus existed. :lol: Besides, whether or not the pagan stories happened is irrelevent. The story itself is the same. Come on Jay, admit it. He didn't exist. The story was never meant to be taken literally. Somewhere along the line, somebody, for some reason, got the idea that it actually happened. It didn't. Remember the old Nike commercials? Just do it. Admit it.
AMbomb

Circular argument?

Postby jcr4runner » Sun Mar 12, 2006 10:03 pm

No, I am not making this argument.

I know Jesus existed because the Gospels are told in the context of a definite historical time period. The birth, ministry and death of Jesus Christ can be pinpointed to the exact year of the events. I know Jesus was a historical person, just as I know that Daniel, Isaiah, David, Joshua, Moses and Abraham existed. As long as there are records of these people and archaeological artifacts that confirm the details of their stories, I have no reason to doubt the record of scripture.

http://www.askelm.com/books/book003.htm

On the other hand, pagan myths do not record historical details to the same level of accuracy that the Jews and early Christians took great care to record. The stories of Hercules, Beowulf and King Arthur may have been based on real heroic figures, but there is no time and place of their lives recorded with contemporary historical events and people that can be found in independent sources.

Further you are making claims and demanding evidences that are either unprovable or nonexistent. For instance:
A record would've been made if Jesus had been tried and executed in Judea (or anywhere else in the empire). Not only that, but there is no mention of Jesus in any of the Roman archives.
You ask for a specific record of Jesus death from Roman sources. You are setting up criteria that is impossible to examine because these records do not exist. And ttehrre is no reason to think that they ever existed.

You deny as evidence the numerous records that DO exist on the life of Jesus. But if a record of Jesus' death were to be found, you would pronounce it as a forgery in any case.

But that is par for the course.

For instance, Timothy Freke (the name fits) presents the unprovable claim that Paul was a Gnostic and that Jesus never existed. But then he also claims:
“that the Earth could be conceived as a Global Brain which was in the process of awakening to itself, with the explosion of connections being made across it right now comparable to neural networks.”
What is nuttier? To believe that the Gospel records are accurate in smallest detail or that the earth is a giant brain?
jcr4runner

Just admit it!

Postby jcr4runner » Sun Mar 12, 2006 10:48 pm

I am highly amused at the constant: JUST ADMIT IT! and STOP SAYING THAT! harangue by AMbomb.

I have been looking for any evidence whatsover that records of Roman crucifixions were kept. I found the following debate. It pretty much sums up every argument AMbomb has made. It's deja vu all over again!

See the entire exchange at:

http://www.tektonics.org/qt/schneiderd01.html
Response: How about a specific claim in response ... and a look at what documentation they offer? The Duke offers none, other than the even more idiotic retort: Plus, there are detailed Roman records of crucifixions and executions in all their provinces. No, there are NOT such detailed records, nowhere, not for ANY provinicial governor of the Roman Empire; they certainly did exist at one time, but NONE at all remain to this day (as Bede says in the very next section, and to which the DoH said nothing). If the Duke of Hazards has some of these records, he needs to inform competent historians of them; as it is, he only here verifies our assessment of his as a deservedly-marginalized incompetent. "Gibsonians" indeed! Who will the Duke turn to for arguments next, the Scooby Doo Fan Club? The allusion to "Gibsonians" is, as Monty Python would say, red and smells moreover of fish. The Duke has no such specific arguments from anyone.

Bede: Occasionally people ask why there is no record of Jesus in Roman records. The answer is that there are no surviving Roman records but only highly parochial Roman historians who had little interest in the comings and goings of minor cults and were far more concerned about Emperors and Kings. Jesus made a very small splash while he was alive and there was no reason for Roman historians to notice him.

The Duke of Hazards: Yet, we have seen how Christians have declaimed Christ’s fame far & wide. Why would Roman historians never notice him if the politicians of the day were in a panic? This is subjective editing of facts that contradict the writer’s POV- & facts presented by those on the writer’s side! This lack of consistency is typical of Christian & other apologists.

Response: What the DoH is trying to prove here is hard to say. The whole issue is that the records we have left are from people who would not give a flying bowl of hummus what Christians declaimed. DoH offers no specifics as to how "politicians of the day were in a panic" (what politicians, where? how much "panic" and on what basis?) and why this should have made a difference, or what historians he thinks ought to have made an issue of this and in what work. There is no "subjective editing" or "lack of consistency" -- the DoH is just, well, stupid and that's a nice way to put it.

Response: Nothing new here; the DoH merely claims I have "no answer" and whines about a typo, oblivious to how his own commentary is shown incorrect, a mere caricature he derives from something he pulled out of his rear end and imaginary "Gibsonians" whose authority is presumed over credentialed historians and scholars such as John Meier (A Marginal Jew) and Bede himself.

Bede: Once Christianity was established as a major cult in the Empire then Jesus became rather more interesting and he is mentioned by Tacitus in the early second century. However, Jesus Mythologists counter this by claiming that he could have got his information from Christians which means his evidence is not independent. So, we have a very convenient situation for the Jesus Mythologists. Until Christianity had spread no one except Christians would be interested in Jesus but all later records are ruled out of court as they are tainted by association with Christianity. This sort of special pleading is one of the reasons that modern historians have no time for these theories as they are set up to be impossible to disprove.
jcr4runner

Volumes of Roman records and writings?

Postby jcr4runner » Sun Mar 12, 2006 11:29 pm

AMBomb tells us that there are VOLUMES UPON VOLUMES of writings by the Romans in the first century that surely would have mentioned Jesus had he really existed.

True or false?

FALSE.

We have little information at all from first-century Roman sources. However, we find an explosion of extant works beginning in the second century. One reason for this was the improvement of parchment used in codices. There are other reasons for the scarcity of first century Roman writings which I won't go into here.

In fact, it is amazing that Jesus is mentioned so prominenttly in the little information we have from the first century Romans. Check this out for the full article:

http://www.tektonics.org/jesusexist/jesusexisthub.html
Blaiklock has cataloged the non-Christian writings of the Roman Empire which have survived from the first century and do not mention Jesus. These items are:

* An amateurish history of Rome by Vellius Paterculus, a retired army officer of Tiberius. It was published in 30 A.D., just when Jesus was getting started in His ministry.
* An inscription that mentions Pilate.
* Fables written by Phaedrus, a Macedonian freedman, in the 40s A.D.
* From the 50s and 60s A.D., Blaiklock tells us: "Bookends set a foot apart on this desk where I write would enclose the works from these significant years." Included are philosophical works and letters by Seneca; a poem by his nephew Lucan; a book on agriculture by Columella, a retired soldier; fragments of the novel Satyricon by Gaius Petronius; a few lines from a Roman satirist, Persius; Pliny the Elder's Historia Naturalis; fragments of a commentary on Cicero by Asconius Pedianus, and finally, a history of Alexander the Great by Quinus Curtius.

Of all these writers, only Seneca may have conceivably had reason to refer to Jesus. But considering his personal troubles with Nero, it is doubtful that he would have had the interest or the time to do any work on the subject.

* From the 70s and 80s A.D., we have some poems and epigrams by Martial, and works by Tacitus (a minor work on oratory) and Josephus (Against Apion, Wars of the Jews). None of these would have offered occasion to mention Jesus.
* From the 90s, we have a poetic work by Statius; twelve books by Quintillian on oratory; Tacitus' biography of his father-in-law Agricola, and his work on Germany. [Blaik.MM, 13-16]
jcr4runner

Re: Circular argument?

Postby AMbomb » Mon Mar 13, 2006 3:40 am

And you continue to ignore the 800 lb gorilla in the room, the fact that the Jesus story and the pagan godman myths are the same story. The problem is that you're letting emotion overpower logic. You'd have no trouble believing that the Dionysus myth came from an earlier godman myth even if everything you claim is true about the Jesus myth was true about it (story told in the context of a definite historical time period, birth, ministry and death pinpointable to an exact year etc.). The problem here is the fact that we're talking about Jesus, who you consider to be your god. It's so important for you to believe that Jesus really existed that the emotional center of your brain simply won't allow you to see the gorilla. It's time for you to be a Vulcan, Jay. It's time for you to get that emotional center under control. It's time for a little intellectual honesty.
AMbomb

Intellectual honesty

Postby jcr4runner » Mon Mar 13, 2006 10:44 am

You don't know the process I have been through to come to these conclusions. I actually began as a believer in early life. Then I became a skeptic in that I wanted to research every religion and philosophy to see which ones had merit. Who is to say that the god-king Dali Lama does not have the same merit as Jesus? For a four to five year period, I went through a stage of inquiry. I read the transcendentalist philosophers. I saw the Dali Lama speak at my university. I listened to hours of lectures by psychologists, philosophers, and Native American mystics.

I came to the conclusion that Christianity was by far the superior philosophy and worldview. There is no real contest. Ironically, my true conversion to Christianity did not come until several years after I came to this intellectual conclusion.

I have also met many others who have come to the same conclusion when they have opened themselves to honest inquiry. Your problem is that you don't really know as much as you think you do.

Assuming that I am ruled by emotions and not logic means that you must know everything about me. It also assumes a kind of dualism that I don't accept. All people are influenced by rational thought and emotion. You cannot separate the two as the Gnostics tried to do.

Using your level of skepticism, I would have to doubt the existence of almost every historical figure.

When you say that Jesus did not exist, you are relying on a popular notion that was in vogue about 100 years ago for a short time. But the problem was that many of the skeptics went searching for answers and found nothing to prove their conjecture, but everything to prove the traditional Christian view.

Some of the greatest Christian theologians of this time period began as skeptics. Skepticism can strengthen the rigor of intellectual inquiry, but it cannot be simply blind dismissal of all evidence. If I were not willing to be skeptical, I would not even be participating in this discussion. I will consider each idea that casts doubt on my faith, however, you haven't presented me with anything that I have not encoutntered before.

I just got done with a research project called The Real Jesus in which I debunk most of what you are throwing at me.

http://www.forerunner.com/realjesus/part1.html

Most of what you are telling me is found in the literature of the neo-Gnostic movement which has gained some ground in the past 20 years. The difference is that most of these people don't doubt Jesus existed. That is the wrong tack to take.

The idea that Jesus did not exist is non-existent in history up until the age of rationalism -- and it has largely disappeared because most have found it rational to suppose Christ existed. The few crackpots like Timothy Freke who still spout this view rely on poor scholarship, faulty logic and mountains of unsubstantiated conjecture.

I am surprised you haven't commented on Freke's "Global Brain" conjecture. Is that a rational belief or an emotional one?
jcr4runner

A New Tack

Postby jcr4runner » Mon Mar 13, 2006 11:24 am

While this is an enlightening and enjoyable discussion, I don't want to run over old ground continually. The "Roman Records" debate doesn't need to be revisited, nor does the merit of Christian eyewitnesses debate. Unless AMBomb can provide me with something genuinely new, I don't see the purpose of constant repetition.

Here is a new tack: The idea that Jesus was not a real historical person didn't occur to anyone until the 1700s and 1800s. Why? Simply because people closest to the original source eyewitnesses knew that they could not discount His existence.

In the first and second centuries, early Christians had to deal with ridicule and abuse from Jewish rabbis and intellectual skepticism from Greek scholars and philosophers.

However, none of these skeptics attacked Christianity on the basis of the so-called "Christ-myth" or on the claims that supernatural miracles were impossible. The Jews and pagans of the day readily accepted that Christ lived and performed miracles. The pagans, such as Celsus, argued that His miracles were too commonplace (healing the sick, casting out of demons, providing food and wine) and did not rise to the level of what God could actually accomplish through His omnipotence.

The Jews tried to cast doubt that Jesus was the Christ by claiming that He was illegitimate and not born of the prophesied virgin. They claimed that his power came from the devil and not from God. They also started a rumor that the disciples stole His body. This indicates that they knew He was crucified and had to account for the claims by the disciples that He rose from the dead.

Note that the skeptics of Jesus' day could have easily harangued Christians into providing proof that Jesus actually existed. But NONE OF THEM did this. Why? Because being so close to the source eyewitnesses, they knew that their testimony was valid.

In addition, rationalists cannot make the claim that Christians invented the arguments of the primitive skeptics. The Jewish writings have been preserved independently by Jewish scribes. Regarding pagan writings preserved by Christian scribes, it would have been counter-productive for the early Christian apologists to argue against a skepticism that did not exist. Unless the skeptics of their day readily accepted that Jesus Christ had a historical ministry, they would not have made such arguments.

Modernists display the most shameless form of egotism when they assume that almost 2000 years from the events, that they are better judges of what transpired in the first century, than those closest to the source.
jcr4runner

"Contemporary" historians are retreads

Postby jcr4runner » Tue Mar 14, 2006 8:20 pm

These "contemporary" historians are repeating the long ago disproven fallacies of the liberal critics. In fact, this discussion really is getting to be deja vu all over again. What you claim is the premise at the entrance of this discussion board:
Amazingly, some people still cling to the claims of the 19th century liberal critics. The Jesus of history is the same person as the Jesus of the Bible.
In the 1800s, rationalists such as Hermann Samuel Reimarus and David Strauss published sensational works denying the supernatural miracles of the Bible. The philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche, who coined the phrase, "God is dead," is said to have lost his faith around the time he was reading Strauss's Life of Jesus Critically Examined.

But the idea that Jesus never existed has been mostly discarded in light of 20th century evidences that refute virtually every claim of the Higher Critics.

The Jesus Seminar: Liberal Theology Repackaged

Most recently there was the Jesus Seminar, a council of liberal theologians who meet twice a year in an attempt to debunk the accuracy of the Gospels. Many of their "discoveries" are simply repeats of what the liberal theologians of the 19th century said. Strangely, these opinions are rigidly held even though 20th century archaeology and textual criticism has refuted many of their claims.

The Jesus Seminar's attempt to debunk the Gospels as invented history is not based on a thorough examination of the Bible's manuscripts. Unbiased examinations reveal ample evidence that the Gospel accounts are, in fact, historically accurate. But these "experts" are undaunted by facts. Even today, the skeptics continue to spread the error of a "historical Jesus."

Liberal scholars up until the time of the discovery of the Dead Sea scrolls in 1947 assigned a later date to many books of the Old Testament. They rejected the early date of books that accurately predicted the coming of the Messiah, because so many of the prophecies were fulfilled to the letter.

Since liberals rejected the supernatural in scripture, they presumed there must have been a later date to the writings that accurately described the life of Jesus.

For instance, the second half of Isaiah was deemed to contain forgeries by second century Christians because it contains so many prophecies accurately fulfilled by Jesus' life and mission.

Then one of the main pillars of liberal theology fell in 1947 with the discovery of the Dead Sea scrolls including a complete Isaiah scroll.

With the discovery of the Dead Sea scrolls, we now have an Old Testament in complete form that existed at least 150 years before Christ. All of the books of the Hebrew Bible except Esther are represented in the Dead Sea Scroll collection. Jennings fails to mention this in his documentary.

The Dead Sea scrolls give us evidence that the Hebrew Bible has been virtually unchanged over thousands of years, including the famous Isaiah scroll that contains many remarkable prophecies about Jesus the Messiah.

For many years, the Higher Critics held that the Bible both the Old Testament and the New Testament had been altered and changed over the years. Therefore, the critics tried to eliminate the myths and discover the historical Jesus.

Some of the theologians of the Jesus Seminar have suggested that writers pretending to be Matthew, Mark, Luke and John took a historical person, Jesus of Nazareth, and invented a genealogy and added historical references as time went by thus "improving" the authenticity of their story.

There is no evidence that the earliest manuscripts of the Bible were altered to be more "historic." In fact, there is proof that little of the New Testament has been altered. If we look at early copies of the New Testament books, we find that there are some differences between variant manuscripts. But these are mainly misspellings and scribal errors in copying small words, prepositions and numbers.

In addition, most modern translations make note of these differences in the form of footnotes. In fact, you could take all the variant readings of the most reliable New Testament manuscripts and fit them all on one page. There is no major Christian doctrine that would be affected or changed by these small differences. Therefore, even with minor textual variations in the older manuscripts, Christians can still view scripture as inerrant and inspired of God.
jcr4runner

Re: "Contemporary" historians are retreads

Postby AMbomb » Tue Mar 14, 2006 11:35 pm

You claim they're disproven, Jay, but haven't cited anything that disproves it. You claim the idea that Jesus never existed has been mostly discarded in light of 20th century evidences. You have yet to present any evidence of the existence of Jesus. The truth is the claim that there was no Jesus has never been refuted and never will be because it's true.

Hamlet

Postby jcr4runner » Wed Mar 15, 2006 1:44 am

Here is my favorite quote from:

http://www.jesusneverexisted.com/scholars.html
Christian apologists are ever-ready to denounce a "Christ-myther" as an isolated crank on the fringes of sanity, unworthy of serious consideration. But their strident hostility hides the fear that the downfall of their superhero may not be far off. And what they can no longer deny or suppress is the fact that the exposure of "Jesus Christ" for the fabrication that it is, far from being the manic pursuit of odd-balls, has been embraced and endorsed by a continuous stream of talented scholars in all countries.
I especially like this: "far from being the manic pursuit of odd-balls ..."

Really?

I've rarely heard such strong disclaimers against being insane! This seems to be one of the common strategies of the "Jesus never existed" conspiracy theorists.

I can only say that the author of this web page needs to read Hamlet --

"Methinks the lady doth protest too much!"

Although this is great fun, I am going to take a break from this thread for a week or so. I am not giving up on the discussion. I am just growing tired of the same claims being made over and over again by AMBomb, with no serious reply offered to my own arguments. I am starting to get swept up into the "manic oddball" spirit of this discussion.

A new approach

Postby AMbomb » Wed Mar 15, 2006 4:19 am

Christians, let's say you were studying a religion of another planet. Now let's say that there was a story about a character in this religion. Let's say that the story takes place within the context of an actual period of this planet's history. It contains actual figures from the planet's history and events in the story can be pinpointed to specific dates in the planet's history. But, let's say it turns out that this story was actually first propogated thousands of years before it supposedly took place according to the belief of the religion you're studying. This means, of course, that if the story was true, it would've had to have come true thousands of years after it was first propogated. Would you believe that story was true or simply that it was a retelling of the original story from thousands of years earlier?
AMbomb

The Repeating Story

Postby revrosado » Tue Mar 21, 2006 2:18 am

AM - your premise seems to be that everything is a myth. Is that right? That since the development of man into a sentient being, he created myths or myths were imposed upon him in order to control him and provide power for those smarter than the rest - right?

But in all of your accounts - the god man myth was preexistent. Why Jesus? Why didn't the Osiris Myth or the others dominate the world, impact humanity, develop civilizations and shape the human race intellectually and culturally for ever?

Maybe its all in a name!
revrosado

One Needs Light To See Evidence

Postby revrosado » Tue Mar 21, 2006 2:28 am

JCR - Great job on your posts.

Anyone with good reasoning skills on a sincere quest for knowledge and the truth can glean a lot from your arduous apologetics.
revrosado

Re: The Repeating Story

Postby AMbomb » Wed Mar 22, 2006 1:58 am

I don't have a premise. This is a hypothetical situation. And you didn't answer the question.
AMbomb

Everyone has a premise

Postby jcr4runner » Wed Mar 22, 2006 12:45 pm

AMBomb,

Everyone has a premise when making an argument whether they are aware of it or not.

Revrosado did answer your question by saying that he doesn't agree with your implied premise that the "Christ myth" is simply a repeat of the pagan myths thousands of years before. Of course, he doesn't agree with that.

Your argument tactics are to repeat the same conjecture as a premise over and over. You don't answer objections or challenges to your arguments and then you falsely claim that your arguments and questions go unanswered. Then you will demand that we stop making claims that you haven't even remotely refuted.

How many times can you write: "Just admit it!"? and "You haven't answered me!" and then not answer aguments and questions posed to you?

If you will go back and reread the posts to this thread, you will see that the same ground has been gone over many times. That is why I am taking a break from it. Here is my summary of what I have written several times before.

1. Your argument is not logical: There are similarities to the story of Christ in the Bible and pagan myths. The pagan stories have no historical proof. The pagan stories were recorded prior to Christ. Therefore the Christ story was copied from pagan myths and has no historical proof.

The conclusion does not follow. Just because a fictional story existed prior to a similar historical event does not prove that the record of the historical event was copied from the fictional story.

What is more likely is that the theme of sacrifice and atonement for sin is a universal truth. We see in the Old Testament many types of sacrifice that foreshadowed the death and resurrection of Christ. The New Testament writers made use of these "types" as proof that Jesus was the promised messiah. The very proofs that the Apostles used to prove that He was God, you claim are evidence that He did not exist even as a man.

2. You need to produce records from history that state Jesus did not exist.
It would be more convincing, for instance, if there were first or second century critics who wrote that Christ and the Apostles (who all were martyred as eyewitnesses to His death) were not true persons, but the product of the superstitious imaginings of Gnostics.

The charge against the Apostles was not that they had invented a myth (there were hundreds of such myths) but that they were claiming that the man Jesus who rose from the dead was God and had higher authority than Caesar.

The entire New Testament was written in the first century by contemporaries who knew Jesus. We have extant second century copies to prove that they were in circulation long before a "myth" such as you claim would have had time to arise. We also have thousands of references to the New Testament that appeared from 90 A.D. to 200 A.D.

You cannot convincingly prove the non-existence of Jesus by calling into question the reliability of the New Testament manuscripts, the thousands of references to Christ within two generations of his time, and the dozen or more pagan references.

I do not deny that false writings and legends arose after the first century. In fact, some of the "Christian" writings and some pagan writings were suspected by early Christian apologists to be forgeries or corruptions -- which shows that they did not accept documents that did not stand the test of rigorous proofs.

IN SUMMARY: Your whole argument is that there is no historical Jesus because the story is based on pagan myths. You offer no proof for that except to claim that the thousands of Christian references to Jesus in the New Testament in the first and second centuries are unreliable and the dozen or more pagan references are Christian forgeries.

If that were true, then there would have been some challenge to the historical Jesus prior to the 18th century. But until modern times, even the strongest enemies of Christianity believed that the man Jesus existed. All the early critics of Christianity assumed Jesus did in fact exist. If not, it would have been easy for one critic to simply deny that the crucifixion of Jesus occurred. But historians of all time have understood the weight of eyewitness testimony. For them and for most thinking people today, that is proof.

How arrogant you are to assume that 2000 years after the fact you have a better view of first century history than those within one or two generations of the events!

Your litmus test is for Christians to produce some type of record written during the 3-1/2 years that Jesus was a public figure. You claim that volumes of such Roman records of crucifixions existed, but you cannot produce a single example of even one that exists today.

You cannot set up a test that is impossible to prove or disprove, demand proof, and then claim victory.

Unless you can come up with something new, then this is not worth my time.
jcr4runner

Re: Everyone has a premise

Postby AMbomb » Wed Mar 22, 2006 4:02 pm

In my hypothetical, I'm not talking about a different story with the same general themes propogated thousands of years earlier on this other planet. I'm talking about the same story. He didn't answer my question (and neither did you). The question is simple. Would you believe the story I described is true or simply that it's a retelling of the original story from thousands of years earlier?
AMbomb

Either or fallacy

Postby jcr4runner » Thu Mar 23, 2006 10:22 am

You are presenting an either or fallacy. As I wrote before in answer to your question:
Just because a fictional story existed prior to a similar historical event does not prove that the record of the historical event was "copied" from the fictional story.

What is more likely is that the theme of sacrifice and atonement for sin is a universal truth. We see in the Old Testament many types of sacrifice that foreshadowed the death and resurrection of Christ. The New Testament writers made use of these "types" as proof that Jesus was the promised messiah. The very proofs that the Apostles used to prove that He was God, you claim are evidence that He did not exist even as a man.
Again, this is another example of a false protest of: "You didn't answer my question!"
jcr4runner

Re: Either or fallacy

Postby AMbomb » Thu Mar 23, 2006 1:48 pm

I don't know what an either or fallacy is. Forget that this question was posed on the Did Jesus Exist? forum. Suppose somebody came up to you on the street, gave you the hypothetical and asked you the question. What would your answer be?
AMbomb

Re: A new approach

Postby jcr4runner » Fri Mar 24, 2006 8:59 pm

A syllogism is a choice between only two options: If not 1, then 2. Sometimes syllogisms are valid. For instance, either you are male (XY) or female (XX). No other options exist.

An either/or fallacy is a choice between only two options when other options exist. "What is 1+2? Choose either 1 or 2 as your answer." The fallacy here is that the one correct answer, 3, is not given as an option. You are either a Republican or a Democrat. if one is a Libertarian, however, the either/or fallacy is exposed.

You also present a cause/effect fallacy. One example would be saying that the rooster crowing every morning is the cause of the sun rising, when in actuality, the prescience of the later event causes the rooster to crow.
AMbomb wrote:Christians, let's say you were studying a religion of another planet. Now let's say that there was a story about a character in this religion. Let's say that the story takes place within the context of an actual period of this planet's history. It contains actual figures from the planet's history and events in the story can be pinpointed to specific dates in the planet's history. But, let's say it turns out that this story was actually first propogated thousands of years before it supposedly took place according to the belief of the religion you're studying. This means, of course, that if the story was true, it would've had to have come true thousands of years after it was first propogated. Would you believe that story was true or simply that it was a retelling of the original story from thousands of years earlier?
Your either or fallacy is as follows: The Gospel story is either true or it is a [fictional] retelling of the original story from thousands of years earlier.

Your syllogism is an either/or fallacy for many reasons. Here are just two.

First, the fact that two stories are similar does not make them the "same story." If the historical event had the unique aspect of eyewitness testimony, then not only does that make it a different story, but I would be bound to believe it too. In a court of law, eyewitness testimony is enough to convict someone of a crime. Historians use the same criteria to judge the factual nature of a person or event.

Second, the story that was propagated thousands of years before does not have the same weight and cannot really be the same story, no matter the similarities, because it lacks reliable witnesses and the ring of authenticity.

A wider variety of options must logically exhaust all the possibilites that exist.

There is an ancient myth that predates Christianity and tells the story of a pagan deity who died and was resurrected. What does this mean?

1. This myth was an influence on the story of Jesus which is therefore also a myth despite the claims of first century eyewitnesses. Both stories are false.

2. Both stories are true. History repeats itself.

3. The myth was false, but the Gospel story is true.

4. The myth is true and the Gospel story is a counterfeit of the original.

5. Both stories arose independently and were influenced by the preexistent truth of the idea of a resurrection or simply by man's desire to know whether there is life after death.

6. While the ancient myth contains some aspects of truth, the Gospel story is the Truth (with a capital "T" ) and is the record of actual historical events.

Most thinking people would dismiss "1" through "4" as too generalized or simplistic, but would readily accept "5" and might be open to "6" if there were evidence to back it up.

But here is the correct answer:

7. The eternal truth of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus is prefigured in the ancient myths in question and was actually the cause of all similar myths on the planet.

Jesus is the sun to your rooster myths.
jcr4runner

Re: A new approach

Postby AMbomb » Sat Mar 25, 2006 2:37 pm

jcr4runner wrote:
7. The eternal truth of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus is prefigured in the ancient myths in question and was actually the cause of all similar myths on the planet.

Jesus is the sun to your rooster myths.
I see where I went wrong now! I idiotically assumed the earlier events caused the later one instead of the other way around! How could I have been so stupid?! It was like the series finale of Star Trek The Next Generation with the spacetime rift that expanded backward through time. Hey, I know what must've happened. Marty McFly and Doc Brown traveled back in time to 3000 BC and told the story to some people in Persia. ....
AMbomb

Intelligent conversation

Postby jcr4runner » Wed Mar 29, 2006 11:51 am

I had hoped that you would have dealt with my propositions more seriously. If you do not accept the idea of an all-knowing, all-powerful being, then it is impossible to assume that God could know what would happen in the future. But if God is omniscient, then what I have written is completely logical.

The crucifixion is the central event of history. The life of Jesus divides B.C. from A.D.

The eternal truth of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus is prefigured in the ancient myths in question and was actually the cause of all similar myths on the planet.

When we speak of cause and effect, usually we speak of past events causing effects in the future. But because Jesus was the "Lamb slain from the foundation of the world" we see that the crucifixion was a predetermined event that would drive the history of the world -- which is the history of redemption.

There are more believers in the One God today than ever before in history. That number has been growing from the beginning. In the Bible, we see many prefigures of the crucifixion of Jesus. One of my first Christian articles was called: The Cross of Jesus Christ and dealt with the many types of atonement in the Old Testament that prefigured the crucifixion.

Some of these types for the atonement included the sacrifice of blood for Adam and Eve's "covering" and the commandment to Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac.

From there, it is not a stretch to see that in addition to the revelation given to Israel, other nations of the world had a foreshadowing of the coming of Christ in some of their myths.
jcr4runner

Types of sacrifice in the Old Testament

Postby jcr4runner » Wed Mar 29, 2006 11:53 am

Abel's sacrifice was "more excellent" than Cain's because the blood was shed from the best of his flocks. God's warning to Cain, "sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you but you must master it," speaks of man's problem of sin and God's solution of atonement.

Noah became an heir because he alone of all the men of the earth had faith in God and knew of His atoning sacrifice. Noah built an ark which speaks to us of God's atonement. The ark was the only vessel able to save him from God's judgment on the world.

Noah covered the ark - inside and out - with pitch. It is interesting to note that the word translated "pitch" in Hebrew is phonetically identical to the word for atonement. The words used are kophar and kaphar. The pitch, the atonement, was designed to keep out the waters of judgment and to make Noah safe within. That is what the blood did also - it restrained the judgment of God from reaching the occupants of the ark, and made them safe in spite of the fact that God was destroying the world outside.

The same pattern is repeated over and over. Abraham met King Melchizedek and offered sacrifice. Later, he was even willing to sacrifice Isaac, his only son, but God spared him and in his place provided a male lamb with a crown of thorns.

Moses was given the design for the Tabernacle, an open tent where the priests of Israel were able to atone for the sins of the children of Israel day after day. These sacrifices were necessary but they were only a shadow of something greater to come. The blood of animals was an imperfect sacrifice (hardly a fitting substitute for a human being!) These were only types pointing to a perfect sacrifice made "once for all," the blood of Jesus Christ the Great High Priest.
jcr4runner

Re: Intelligent conversation

Postby AMbomb » Wed Mar 29, 2006 12:43 pm

OK, Jay, I have one for you. Let's assume for a moment that there was such a thing as God. Why would he cause the propogation of the story thousands of years before it occured? All that would do is make people think that the story was just a retelling of the earlier story and that it didn't really happen. According to Christian belief, Jesus wants people to believe in him so badly that he sends them to Hell if they don't. Causing the propogation of this story thousands of years before it occured would be counterproductive to what he wants. So, even assuming the existence of an omniscient god, you're assertion is illogical.
AMbomb

The Gospel is in creation

Postby jcr4runner » Thu Mar 30, 2006 12:16 am

I'll answer the question, but I must preface it with this.

We have a radical difference in our presuppositions. You keep saying that the Gospel is the "SAME STORY" as some of the pagan myths. I maintain that it is a "SIMILAR STORY" but with a radical difference. No pagan myth tells the story of the One Creator God who became man and died as a sacrifice for sin once and for all. All the pagan myths in question are polytheistic and tell the story of death and resurrection of a god, but there is no effective salvation of man that is a result of this. No pagan myth teaches redemption from sin through the sacrifice of the One Creator God on a cross.

Your question can easily be answered by asking the question in different terms.

Why did God choose the Jews and lead them through thousands of years of discipline and ritual? He did it so that those Jews whom He had chosen before the foundation of the world would know Him when He appeared as Jesus the Messiah.

Why would God put in ancient man a sense of eternity in their hearts so that even many of the pagan myths that occurred thosuands of years before Christ resemble the Gospel story? He did it so that those Gentiles whom He had chosen before the foundation of the world would know Him when He appeared as Jesus the Messiah.

Also, Jesus isn't a weak God who "wants people to believe in Him."

He is an all-powerful God who chooses those who will know Him.

Maybe your problem is just that God hasn't chosen you to know Him?

So here is a question for you:

As an atheist, what do you do with your guilt?

Re: The Gospel is in creation

Postby AMbomb » Thu Mar 30, 2006 1:54 am

jcr4runner wrote:
As an atheist, what do you do with your guilt?
I don't do anything with it. As an atheist, I don't believe in a deity who will forgive my sins. When I do something wrong, I have to live with it. In a way, it's harder for us. But, then again, maybe it encourages us to be better people. Christianity is a quick fix religion. Place your problems in God's hands. That's partly why it's the dark side of the Force.
AMbomb

Re: The Gospel is in creation

Postby AMbomb » Thu Mar 30, 2006 1:55 am

You're wrong, Jay. Every single concept of Christianity except the concept of a messiah is pagan in origin. That includes monotheism.

Even if it wasn't, the stories would still be far too similar to have arisen simply out of a "sense of eternity", whatever that is, which leaves us with the following explanations:

1. Jesus, for no apparent reason, decides to cause his story to be propogated thousands of years before it occurs.
2. The story came true by pure coincidence thousands of years after it was first propogated.
3. This situation involves time travel (and possibly a flying DeLorean).
4. The Jesus story is simply a retelling of the earlier godman myths.
Now you tell me, which one of these explanations makes the most sense?
AMbomb

Re: The Gospel is in creation

Postby jcr4runner » Thu Mar 30, 2006 10:29 pm

AMbomb wrote:
jcr4runner wrote:
As an atheist, what do you do with your guilt?
I don't do anything with it. As an atheist, I don't believe in a deity who will forgive my sins. When I do something wrong, I have to live with it. In a way, it's harder for us.
That's an amazing and honest answer. I'll give you credit for being truthful on that one. I thought you would say: "I am not guilty of anything."

But you admit that you are guilty.

So here's the next question:

Where does your sense of guilt come from?
jcr4runner

Re: The Gospel is in creation

Postby jcr4runner » Thu Mar 30, 2006 10:47 pm

AMbomb wrote:You're wrong, Jay.
You know, I am enjoying this exchange in part because you provide the exact antithesis to my beliefs and it forces me to "show myself approved" as the scripture says.

The one thing though that I find objectionable is that you think you can argue by writing: "You're wrong ... Click on this link."

You use again the either/or fallacy: "This leaves us (only?) with the following explanations. No, it doesn't leave us with only these explanations. And especially not number 4. Since you are a champion of links, there are thorough refutation of the POCM's contention that the there was a "simple retelling of pagan myths" in the Gospel stories.

If you haven't found it yet, http://www.tektonics.org/copycat/copycathub.html is my friend J.P. Holding's series on "pagan godmen."
jcr4runner

Some notes on alleged parallels between Christianity and paganism

Postby jcr4runner » Thu Mar 30, 2006 10:52 pm

Some notes on alleged parallels between Christianity and pagan religions

http://www.tektonics.org/copycat/pagint.html

(The author is a historian based at one the world's leading universities. He specialises in and is currently developing a publication record on ancient and modern myth. Note that the author is not a professing Christian.)

An argument frequently advanced against Christianity runs roughly like this: there are many features of Christianity that resemble features of other religious, particularly ancient pagan religious; therefore, Christianity has copied those features; therefore, Christianity is not true. It is the purposes of these notes to establish that this argument rests upon unwarranted premises and that its logic is fallacious.

1. Do many features of Christianity resemble features of other religions?

Obviously, on one level the answer has to be 'yes'. Christanity posits the existence of a personal god who takes an interest in humanity. It teaches that the individual does not cease to exist after biological death. It has a series of sacred texts which are used as a guide to doctrine and ethics and play an important role in public worship. The pre-Reformation branches of Christanity, moreover, have priesthoods, a developed theology of sacrifice and strong sacramental and ritualistic traditions.

Recognising this, however, doesn't get us very far: very many religions across human time and space exhibit and have exhibited the same characteristics. What we need are specific parallels in matters of detail. To meet this challenge, non-Christians generally advance two sets of parallels, which are not necessarily mutually incompatible but do not go particularly naturally together.

The first involves the construct of the dying-rising god. A full scholarly study of the history of this concept has yet to be written, but suffice it to say here that it was popularised by the Scottish anthropologist Sir James Frazer in the late Nineteenth and early Twentieth Centuries. Frazer believed that primitive peoples linked the annual cycles of agriculture with 'corn spirits' (a concept which he borrowed from the German scholar Mannhardt). In its developed form, the theology of these primitive agriculturalists posited that the corn spirit died and was reborn annually, typically in the form of the divine king in whom it was incarnated. Frazer believed that the religions of the ancient Near East provided several examples of dying-rising gods who had emerged from primitive belief-systems similar to these, most notably Attis, Adonis and Osiris.

Frazer's theory is loaded with problems. Whole papers, even books, criticising his theory have been written, and nowadays it is extremely difficult to find any recognised, reputable anthropologists who will accept it even in a modified form. Here are some of the major difficulties with it:

1. Frazer's sources were frequently inaccurate or irrelevant, or else he interpreted them in tendentious ways.
2. Frazer himself subscribed to discredited nineteenth-century ideas such as the evolutionist model of human societal development (which has nothing to do with the theory of biological evolution and is today firmly rejected by experts) and the notion that present-day primitive tribesmen can be studied as a means of finding out what things were like at the dawn of civilisation.
3. Evidence which has emerged since Frazer wrote has not merely failed to back up his hypotheses: it has fatally undermined them. For interesting critiques of Frazer's work, see e.g. Sir Edmund Leach's articles in Daedalus 90 (1961) and Current Anthropology 7 (1966); also (in much greater detail) J.Z.Smith, 'The Glory, Jest and Riddle', Diss. Yale 1969 (by one of the greatest living historians of religion).

The greatest problem with Frazer, however, is that construct of the dying-rising god is simply a fantasy. The distinguished scholar J.Z.Smith, a man who most certainly cannot be regarded as a defender of Christianity, wrote an important article for Mircea Eliade's 'Encyclopedia of Religion' (New York 1987) in which he took every alleged example of a dying-rising god and showed that none of them actually fit the category. (My own researches lead me to believe that the Phoenician god Melqart, whom Smith does not discuss, is the one exception - but he *is* very much the exception.) Certainly, Frazer's star witnesses of Attis, Adonis and Osiris suffer from the fatal flaw in each case of dying and then failing to be resurrected.

Even if Frazer and his followers were right about the dying-rising god, the relevance to Christianity would be doubtful. The Christian story makes no connection whatever between Christ and the agricultural year or the rhythms of the natural world. Moreover, Frazer's followers who elaborated his work with particular reference to the ancient Near East made it clear that their dying-rising gods and kings were tightly enmeshed in a series of bizarre annual rites with no conceivable parallels in Christianity.

The second 'copycat' model advanced by sceptics involves the prototypical schemas of the life of the hero sometimes drawn up by scholars.

The sceptic will typically appeal to the work of Lord Raglan, even though it's now 70 years out of date and a number of different schemas have since been proposed. There are serious problems with Raglan: in order to get mythical figures to fit his schema, you often have to cheat quite blatantly; and, in any case, real-life historical figures such as Hitler and Napoleon fit the pattern just as well as the ancient heroes whom he adduced.

In general, the 'monomyth' schemas are of limited usefulness. They prove a certain amount about the patterns followed by the lives of heroes in different cultures, but they don't prove very much, and what they do prove isn't always very comforting to the sceptic.

To begin with, if one puts all the schemas that have been proposed together and looks for common elements, the results that emerge are often vague or unhelpful. For instance, the hero will typically have a miraculous conception or birth - but it's hardly legitimate to compare the story of the virgin birth recounted in the Gospels with (say) Zeus' rape of Leda in the form of a swan simply because both involve some sort of supernatural element. What such 'similarities' boil down to seems to be the earth-shattering revelation that supernatural things happen to supernatural figures, which is essentially a tautology.

Secondly, where hero-stories do concur, they often concur in ways which question the utility of applying them to the story of Jesus. Incest and parricide are recurrent themes of the schemas, for example, as is the link between the hero and kingship (you can get out of this by suggesting that Jesus was the heir of King David, or that he heralded the Kingdom of God, but this is just the sort of cheating that drains the schemas of their credibility). Even Raglan's schema falls down on this point, most obviously because Jesus didn't marry a princess (a motif which appears in other schemas too).

2. Even if they exist, what do the parallels prove?

Many non-Christians seem to believe that, in order to be true, Christianity must be unique. This is utterly fallacious - if anything, the precise opposite is the case. If Christian doctrine were strange and deviant and had no similarities at all to that of other religious systems, it would be *more* likely to be a weird, aberrant construct, not *less*. To take one obvious example, a simple and economical explanation for the widespread human tendency to posit supernatural figures who, like Christ, mediate between man and God, is that humans correctly realise that we *do* need such a mediator. (Hence, ironically, some of the scholars most eager to prove the existence of dying-rising gods in the ancient Near East and elsewhere were *Christians*. One thinks here especially of the scholars behind the three volumes of essays 'Myth and Ritual' (Oxford 1930), 'The Labyrinth' (Oxford 1935) and 'Myth, Ritual and Kingship' (Oxford 1958).)

Points of contact between Christianity and other religions are damaging to Christianity's truth claims only if actual borrowings can be proven - not if the parallel features have simply sprung from the same psychological source common to all humans - that is, from the innate religious instinct which Christians regard as a gift of God.

I cannot think of a single case in which Christianity can be shown to have borrowed a core doctrine from another religion. This does not include minor borrowings which everyone admits, such as the dating of Christmas to 25th December (an old Roman sun-festival), or the use of holy water and incense in worship, or the wearing of wedding rings, or dedicating churches to named saints (just as pagan temples were dedicated to different deities). In such cases, the borrowings were not clumsy or furtive: rather, they were deliberate and unashamed. A good example is the Pope's use of the old Roman chief priest's title 'Pontifex Maximus', a title which the Christians deliberately appropriated to emphasise that their religion had defeated and replaced Roman paganism.

Conclusion

None of the attempts made by sceptics to demonstrate that Christianity is false because it contains alleged pagan elements is credible or convincing. There are admittedly many good arguments against Christianity, but this simply isn't one.
jcr4runner

Why foretell via myth?

Postby revrosado » Sat Apr 08, 2006 7:38 am

AM said, "OK, Jay, I have one for you. Let's assume for a moment that there was such a thing as God. Why would he cause the propogation of the story thousands of years before it occured? All that would do is make people think that the story was just a retelling of the earlier story and that it didn't really happen. According to Christian belief, Jesus wants people to believe in him so badly that he sends them to Hell if they don't. Causing the propogation of this story thousands of years before it occured would be counterproductive to what he wants. So, even assuming the existence of an omniscient god, you're assertion is illogical."

The answer simply is so man can learn. Which obviously does not occur with everyone in class...

If man is learning it follows then that he learns empirically within a chronological context (he learns over time). It IS logical that God would start the teaching process from man's earliest days and SLOWLY progress man through the ages of man's own blindness and ignorance until the race was ready for college and the full manifestation of God's salvation of man in the form of Jesus the Christ. Science Domain: Education

But just like in school, some do not keep up with the lessons nor do the homework and still most do not glean the higher cognitive constructs that basic information (myths) point toward. Science Domain: Education / Cognitive Thinking

In all of the arguments I have read from atheists, they abandon reason and logic espoused by the sciences and the universe in one way or another. I have never heard a scientifically sound argument by an atheist. Their arguments sound true to the unlearned mind, but in fact they rip up the fabric of scientific empiricism and reasoning when making them. Its not enough to know science - you must understand science. That's where the difference is had. We may know science but we do not think the science. So in essence we become jugglers of scientific thoughts and concepts, but we do not possess inherently the constructs of the sciences cognitively. This is the crux of man's problem and an atheist's shining glory. They juggle arguments to our amusement: yet to many and themselves - amazment. The court jester juggled oft. (I do not infer that anyone is, rather to the way reasoning is manifested).

So though I partake also with others in throwing out views about this matter, some may catch them only to keep up their momentum and rythym. ...............Can anyone sing and dance? I fear I shall grow weary of that too!
revrosado

Re: The Gospel is in creation

Postby AMbomb » Sun May 07, 2006 1:41 am

Instead of relying on what your friend says about The Jesus Mysteries, why don't you read it yourself? By the way, your second link is a joke. The author of that site claims to refute Pagan Origins of the Christ Myth but produces not one shred of evidence supporting his arguments.
AMbomb

Re: Why foretell via myth?

Postby AMbomb » Sun May 07, 2006 1:52 am

So man can learn what? The followers of the pagan mystery religions knew their godmen didn't really exist. These people didn't take the story literally. It was just an allegory that was supposed to reveal mystical teachings of the mystery religions. Are you saying God wanted people to learn the mystical teachings of pagan mystery religions?
Atheists abandon reason and logic? Yeah right. It's totally logical to believe in an omnipotent being who created the entire Universe who hasn't furnished one shred of evidence of his existence. There are no Christians on Vulcan.
AMbomb

Mystical Teachings

Postby revrosado » Mon May 08, 2006 9:28 pm

There is only Truth and Error. These two comprise the whole of the universe. What you are not realizing along with your mystical religions is that of your own faith! There have always been unbelievers since before creation. Your religion is as old as the old serpent himself who denied God and indeed desired to enthrone himself in His stead. Nothing new then nor now. In fact - your religion is older than all the rest! So since your religion (ATHEISM) is the oldest of all the pagan (non-Christian) myths - why then do you defend a myth?

Science has not discovered how the stuff of the universe became. But science itself alludes to the reality than things are "constructed" from smaller and lesser elements and energies. There must have been an origin to the structure of the universe. Some say that we see structure only because we ourselves are part of that structure and classify or identify with it. Yet is a square not a square? Do we ride in squares, live in squares, learn in squares, etc? Are not ourselves circles, and move in circles, relate in circles, live on a circle, rotate in circles, procreate to circles, etc? Definite building structures to some may be proof.

But science agrees that the original energy of the universe is eternal. There is an eternal force that is the engine of the universe. Can you see it? Does it make itself known dramatically? Not to you but it cannot be denied.

There is only one proof required for Atheism - that Atheist prove that the universe started from and by absolutely nothing. Science has disproven Atheistic theory and belief - Eternity is real and the spark of the universe is eternal - that is not religion or opinion, it is science!

But the battle is not against religious though, but between light and darkness.

I am not criticizing your belief system. Just pointing out that Truth is truth and Error is Error as Light is light and darkness is darkness.

The simple reality is that darkness is not a thing - but is only lack of light. Science therefore shows that TRUTH exists and is Eternal - error is the denial of truth.
revrosado

Re: Mystical Teachings

Postby AMbomb » Mon May 08, 2006 10:50 pm

revrosado wrote:There is only Truth and Error. These two comprise the whole of the universe. What you are not realizing along with your mystical religions is that of your own faith! There have always been unbelievers since before creation. Your religion is as old as the old serpent himself who denied God and indeed desired to enthrone himself in His stead. Nothing new then nor now. In fact - your religion is older than all the rest! So since your religion (ATHEISM) is the oldest of all the pagan (non-Christian) myths - why then do you defend a myth?

Science has not discovered how the stuff of the universe became. But science itself alludes to the reality than things are "constructed" from smaller and lesser elements and energies. There must have been an origin to the structure of the universe. Some say that we see structure only because we ourselves are part of that structure and classify or identify with it. Yet is a square not a square? Do we ride in squares, live in squares, learn in squares, etc? Are not ourselves circles, and move in circles, relate in circles, live on a circle, rotate in circles, procreate to circles, etc? Definite building structures to some may be proof.

But science agrees that the original energy of the universe is eternal. There is an eternal force that is the engine of the universe. Can you see it? Does it make itself known dramatically? Not to you but it cannot be denied.

There is only one proof required for Atheism - that Atheist prove that the universe started from and by absolutely nothing. Science has disproven Atheistic theory and belief - Eternity is real and the spark of the universe is eternal - that is not religion or opinion, it is science!

But the battle is not against religious though, but between light and darkness.

I am not criticizing your belief system. Just pointing out that Truth is truth and Error is Error as Light is light and darkness is darkness.

The simple reality is that darkness is not a thing - but is only lack of light. Science therefore shows that TRUTH exists and is Eternal - error is the denial of truth.
This message has nothing to do with whether or not Jesus existed. It looks like it's more appropriate for my "Question" thread on the Christian Reconstructionism board.
AMbomb

Re: Why foretell via myth?

Postby FaithnJC » Mon May 15, 2006 4:31 am

So man can learn what? The followers of the pagan mystery religions knew their godmen didn't really exist. These people didn't take the story literally. It was just an allegory that was supposed to reveal mystical teachings of the mystery religions. Are you saying God wanted people to learn the mystical teachings of pagan mystery religions?

Atheists abandon reason and logic? Yeah right. It's totally logical to believe in an omnipotent being who created the entire Universe who hasn't furnished one shred of evidence of his existence. There are no Christians on Vulcan.
All throughout this thread you keep repeating the same mantra, there were earlier pagan accounts of Godmen.

Christians borrowing from these mystery religions was a very popular argument at the beginning of the last century, but it generally died off because it was so discredited. jc has done an excellent job at dealing with these false assertions but allow me to elaborate some more.

Lets use the story that is most similiar to Jesus shall we? It has been said that Christians stole the story of the god apollonius of Tyana. Of course there is no merit in comparing Jesus to these false pagan gods. You know the story as well as I do. Here is someone from the 1st century who was said to have healed people and to have exorcised demons; who may have raised a young girl from the dead; and who appeared to some of his followers after he died. Now, if you do the historical work calmly and objectively, you find the alleged parallels just don't stand up. First, his biographer, Philostratus, was writing a century and a half after apollonius lived, whereas the gospels were written within a generation of Jesus. The closer the proximity to the event, the less chance there is for legendary development, for error, or for memories to get confused.

Another thing is we have four gospels, corroborated with Paul, that can be crossed-checked to some degree with nonbiblical authors like Josephus and others. With apollonius and these others, we're dealing with one source. Plus the gospels pass the standards tests used to assess historical reliability, but we can't say the same for these other stories.

On top of that, Philostratus was commissioned by an empress to write a biography in order to dedicate a temple to apollonius. She was a follower of apollonius, so Philostratus would have had a financial motive to embellish the story and give the empress what she wanted. On the other hand, the writers of the gospels had nothing to gain--and much to lose--by writing Jesus' story, and they didn't have ulterior motives such as financial gain.

Also, the way Philostratus and these other false god stories writes is very different than the gospels. The gospels have a very confident eyewitness perspective, as if they had a camera there. But Philostratus and these others include a lot of tentative statements, like "It is reported that..." or "Some say this young girl had died; others say she was just ill." To their credit, they back off and treat stories like stories.

Also, the mystery religions were do-your-own-thing religions that freely borrowed ideas from various places. However, the Jews carefully guarded their beliefs from outside influences. They saw themselves as a separate people and strongly resisted pagan ideas and rituals.

While it is true that some mystery religions had stories of gods dying and rising, these stories always revolved around the natural life cycle of death and rebirth. Crops die in the fall and come to life in the spring. People express the wonder of this ongoing phenomenon through mythological stories about gods dying and rising. These stories were always cast in a legendary form. They depicted events that happened "once upon a time."

Contrast that with depiction of Jesus Christ in the gospels. They talk about someone who actually lived a few decades earlier, and they name names--crucified under Pontius Pilate, when Caiaphas was high priest, and the father of Alexander and Rufus carried his cross, etc., for example. That's concrete historical stuff. It has nothing in common with stories about what supposedly happened "once upon a time."

And Christianity has nothing to do with the life cycles or the harvest. It has to do with a very Jewish belief--which is absent from the mystery religions--about the resurrection of the dead and about life eternal and reconciliation with God.
FaithnJC

Re: Why foretell via myth?

Postby AMbomb » Mon May 15, 2006 12:08 pm

The story of Jesus is the pagan godman myth, as is the story of Mithras, Osiris, Dionysus and many others. It's the same myth told over and over again with different names. Mind you, the myths I'm talking about aren't the myths of the state religions. They're the myths of the mystery religions, which is what Christianity started out as. If you think the story of Jesus doesn't revolve around the seasons, would you care to explain to me why Easter's in early spring? As for the argument that the story of Jesus takes place in an actual period of history with actual historical figures, see the third message from the top of page 5.
AMbomb

Re: Why foretell via myth?

Postby FaithnJC » Mon May 15, 2006 7:11 pm

First things first. Were you plugging your ears while reading my posts? It is apparent that you are encountering cognitive dissonance. I've noticed this about you while reading through this entire thread. You don't address the central issues one brings up and keep repeating the same thing, "The story of Jesus is the pagan godman myth." Perhaps this is why JC has stopped corresponding with you on this?

Now then, Jesus was not just a "god man." He was much more than that.

Some of my information is from Kyle Butt, M.A. and Bert Thompson, Ph.D. just as yours is from The Jesus Mysteries by Timothy Freke and Peter Gandy.

History is filled with examples of those whose lives—real or imagined—share certain traits with the well-documented life of Jesus of Nazareth. Lets go with one you mentioned, Dionysus.

The usual story of Dionysus' birth relates that he was the offspring of Zeus, the immortal leader of the Greek gods who impregnated a human female by the name of Semele, the daughter of Cadmus, King of Thebes. Dionysus is said to have descended to the underworld and conquered death, ultimately bringing his dead mother back to the land of the living. He also is said to have died and been raised again. His followers called him Lysios or Redeemer, and grape juice commonly was used to symbolize his blood.

Of course, contemporary skeptics like Freke and who use the argument that it's the same myth told over and over again with different names in attempts to debunk the uniqueness and deity of Christ cannot take credit as its originators. History records that almost two thousand years ago the early Christian apologists were busily engaged in responding to the exact same argument. For example, Augustine of Hippo (A.D. 354-426) stated in his Christian Doctrine:

"The readers and admirers of Plato dared calumniously to assert that our Lord Jesus Christ learnt all those sayings of His, which they are compelled to admire and praise, from the books of Plato—because (they urged) it cannot be denied that Plato lived long before the coming of our Lord."

Augustine refuted the argument by suggesting that Plato had read the prophet Jeremiah and then conveniently incorporated Jeremiah’s teachings into his own. The point, however, is clear: as early as A.D. 400, skeptics and enemies of the Cross were launching fiery darts of alleged plagiarism at both Christ and His followers.

Further investigation into the history of Christian apologetics manifests something even more startling. The earliest apologists not only recognized that the story and teachings of Jesus bore striking similarities to ancient mythological accounts, but even emphasized these similarities in an attempt to get pagans to understand more about Jesus and His mission. Justin Martyr (A.D. 100-165) set forth an argument in his First Apology that was intended to put Christ at least on an equal playing field with earlier mythological gods.

"And if we assert that the Word of God was born of God in a peculiar manner, different from ordinary generation, let this, as said above, be no extraordinary thing to you, who say that Mercury is the angelic word of God. But if any one objects that He was crucified, in this also He is on a par with those reputed sons of Jupiter of yours.... And if we even affirm that He was born of a virgin, accept this in common with what you accept of Ferseus. And in that we say that He made whole the lame, the paralytic, and those born blind, we seem to say what is very similar to the deeds said to have been done by Æsculapius" (Chapter 22).

Tertullian (c. A.D. 160-220) observed that the story of Romulus, another character from ancient Greek mythology who was seen after his death, was quite similar to the story of Christ being seen after His death. However, Tertullian went on to note that the stories of Christ were much more certain because they were documented by historical evidence (Apology, 21).

While ancient pagans saw, and modern skeptics still see, such similarities as militating against the originality and uniqueness of Christ, the writings of such men as Augustine, Justin Martyr, Tertullian, and others document the fact that early Christians could see obvious—yes, even welcome—similarities between the story of Jesus and the accounts of mythological, pagan gods. Furthermore, some of those early Christians even seized upon those very similarities to defend Jesus’ position as the unique Son of God. The apologists’ point, of course, was two-fold: (1) men of the past had searched for a unique savior-god and, finding none, resorted to inventing him and bestowing upon him certain distinct characteristics; and (2) that Savior—who, although in the past had been endowed with unique traits of their own feeble creation—actually had come!

So you see AM, early apologists acknowledged these facts because they were, and are, quite indisputable. And that leads us back to the issue of this thread, how, in light of such facts, can we affirm that Jesus Christ is the unique, authentic Son of God—when stories similar to His circulated decades or millennia before He ever came to Earth?

The truth of the matter is that many stories over the course of history resemble that of Jesus of Nazareth in one way or another. And why should this surprise us? After Adam and Eve ate from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, man became keenly aware of both the presence and the consequences of sin. From the time of Cain and Abel, God had established sacrifices and decreed specific rules regarding those sacrifices. Since that time, all humans have had at least some perception—however slight or flawed—that they needed to “do something” to stand justified once again before their Creator. One way to do that was to invent a “stand-in”—someone who could take their place—as the epitome of sinless perfection to plead their case before the Righteous Judge of all the Earth.

Additionally, however, it can be argued that the similarities are only similarities, not exact parallels. It further can be argued that Jesus’ story, even though it seems similar to some others, is not exactly the same and, in fact, differs substantially in the minute details. For example, Krishna allegedly was crucified via an arrow through his arms, while Jesus was nailed to the cross. Confucius offered the negative form of the so-called “golden rule” (“Do not do to others”), while Jesus stated the positive (“Do unto others”). Dionysus’ mother, Persophone, reportedly had intercourse with Zeus, while Mary was a virgin. This line of reasoning possesses some merit, because it certainly is true that none of the ancient stories sounds exactly like Christ’s.

A closer look at the Egyptian legend of Osiris provides a good example of the many important differences between the account of Jesus and other stories. Legend says that Osiris was killed by his evil brother Seth, who tore Osiris’ body into fourteen pieces and scattered them throughout Egypt. Isis, the goddess-consort of Osiris, collected the pieces and buried them, thus giving life to Osiris in the underworld. Afterward, she used magical arts to revive Osiris and to conceive a child (Horus) by him. After fathering Horus, Osiris remained in the underworld, not really ever rising from the dead (Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1997, 8:1026-1027). This legend, taken as a whole, provides few (if any) real parallels to the story of Jesus. Furthermore, when all the stories about characters who supposedly were similar to Christ are told in their entirety, it is obvious that each of them contains only a few characteristics that come anywhere close to resembling those contained in the life story of Jesus. Additionally, some of the alleged parallels rest upon tenuous documentation and may even be fabricated.

In the early part of the twentieth century, Joseph McCabe, one of the most outspoken atheists of his day, published several works, including The Myth of the Resurrection (1925), Did Jesus Ever Live? (1926), and How Christianity “Triumphed” (1926). McCabe painstakingly documented the similarities between the story of Jesus and pagan stories such as those of Osiris, Adonis, Tammuz, and Attis, yet specifically noted: “It is a most important feature of our story that this legend of a slain and resurrected god arose in quite different parts of the old civilized world. Tammuz, Attis, and Osiris are three separate and independent creations of the myth-making imagination”

Hmm...here is where it gets interesting AM, are you paying attention? JC already pointed where we are going with this out to you and it seemed to go right over your head. Now then, McCabe thus acknowledged that these pagan stories with similar themes did not copy either one another or some earlier, predominant story. Rather, they arose separately—and even independently—of each other. McCabe admitted: “For some reason...the mind of man came in most parts of the world to conceive a legend of death and resurrection.... In fact, in one form or other there was almost a worldwide belief that the god, or a representative [king, prisoner, effigy, etc.] of the god, died, or had to die every year” (pp. 52,53, emp. added; bracketed material in orig.). In his conclusion, McCabe wrote: “In sum, I should say that the universal belief in a slain and resurrected god throws light upon the Christian belief by showing us a universal frame of mind which quite easily, in many places, made a resurrection myth” (p. 63, emp. added). McCabe—even as an infidel—willingly acknowledged that numerous (but different) resurrection myths arose from various regions around the globe, each similar in its facts yet original in its derivation. These stories apparently arose because of what he referred to as a “universal frame of mind.”

This is very interesting and we are getting warmer...People around the world—due to a “universal frame of mind”—independently concocted stories that revolved around a god dying and then rising again. These stories span both time barriers and geographical limits; they are—in a very literal sense—“worldwide” and “universal.” In truth, man does have a religious instinct—one that is keener than even many theologians would like to admit. In speaking of God, the writer of Ecclesiastes remarked: “He hath made everything beautiful in its time: he hath set eternity in their heart” (3:11). Paul said that mankind always has been able to understand God’s “everlasting power and divinity” (Romans 1:20). God did not place man on Earth to abandon him. Instead:

He made of one every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed seasons and bounds of their habitation; that they should seek God, if haply they might feel after him and find him though he is not far from each one of us; for in him we live, and move and have our being; as certain of your own poets have said, for we are his offspring (Acts 17:26-28).

God has indeed “set eternity” in the hearts of men and given them a universal instinct that is intended to cause them to seek Him. How, then, did the instinct to worship God lead to the concoction of numerous stories about a virgin-born savior-god who dies as a sacrifice for mankind’s wrongdoings? First, it started with the idea of sacrifice. From the moment Adam and Eve were driven from the Garden of Eden, man was acutely aware that he was a sinful being in need of redemption. Humans also understood that some type of atoning sacrifice was required to absolve them of sin. Oddly, skeptics seem to understand this point quite well. In the late eighteenth century, T.W. Doane caustically attacked the doctrines of Christ and the Bible. His work, Bible Myths and Their Parallels in Other Religions (1882), gnawed at every mooring of Christian doctrine. Yet even he understood that mankind always has realized its own sinfulness and its need for an atoning sacrifice. He wrote: “The doctrine of atonement for sin had been preached long before the doctrine was deduced from the Christian Scriptures, long before these Scriptures are pretended to have been written” (p. 181).

Those who might wish to challenge this assessment can examine any book on world history or world religions and see that it is correct. Abel offered the first of his flock, and from that day forward, humanity began offering live sacrifices to a deity in the hope of absolving anger and forgiving sin. In fact, mankind has sacrificed living things to a deity from the beginning of time. But which particular sacrifices did humanity think had the power to forgive sins? The general rule for the atonement value of a sacrifice was: the more costly and perfect the sacrifice, the more sins it would absolve.

When God initiated the ritual sacrifice of animals for the religious ceremonies of His chosen people, He laid down strict rules. In Leviticus 22:19-20, God told the Jews: “You shall offer of your own free will a male without blemish from the cattle, from the sheep, or from the goats. But whatever has a defect, you shall not offer, for it shall not be acceptable on your behalf ” (NKJV). The Lord always has demanded that blood be shed for the remission of sins. Hebrews 9:22 reiterates that point: “And according to the law...all things are cleansed with blood, and apart from shedding of blood there is no remission.” This should not be at all surprising, since “the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh atonement by reason of the life” (Leviticus 17:11).

Men and women of ages past knew all too well God’s commandments regarding atonement by blood. It began with Cain and Abel, was reaffirmed by Noah (Genesis 9:1-6), was regulated by Old Testament law, and was carried through to fulfillment by Jesus. When God instituted the Law of Moses, He did not introduce animal sacrifices as an innovation never before seen by the Israelites. Rather, He showed the Israelites the proper manner in which to sacrifice such animals, until the time that the fulfilling sacrifice of His Son would bring to a halt the need for any further blood atonement via animal sacrifices. In showing them the proper way, God made strict provisions to keep the children of Israel from turning from God-approved sacrifices to sacrificing their own innocent children like the pagans around them. In Leviticus 18:21, God told the children of Israel: “And thou shalt not give any of thy seed to make them pass through the fire to Molech; neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God: I am Jehovah.” God went to great lengths to warn the Israelites against offering their children as sacrifices because it was well known that the nations around them took part in such infanticide. The question arises, “What in this world could convince a mother or father to offer their children to a god?” Let us investigate this matter further.

Wendy Davis writes for Widdershins, a self-proclaimed journal of unadulterated paganism. In an article on the World Wide Web, As Old as the Moon: Sacrifice in History, she stated: “The act of ritual murder is probably as old as we [humans—KB/BT] are. Throughout the ages, people sacrificed when they needed something. Our ancestors often gave the best they had, their first-born, to save themselves” (1995, emp. added). The most precious possession of a mother or father would be their first-born child. That child, however, would be not only precious, but also sinless. Sacrifice of anything less than that which is spotless and pure diminishes the inherent value of the sacrifice. Thus, it was believed that a sinless and pure sacrifice of such magnitude could wash away the sins of the parents (or, for that matter, the sins of an entire village!). Therefore, corrupt, perverse religions sprang up around the sacrifice of children, one of the most famous of which was that of Molech (see 2 Kings 23:10).

Yet even though the sacrifice of infants fulfilled the sinless aspect of a perfect sacrifice, it was lacking in other areas. For example, an “ordinary” infant born of peasant parents was not the most costly sacrifice available; a royal child of a king would be even better. Thus, as Davis went on to observe, kings ultimately sacrificed their own children to appease “the gods.”

But the sacrifice of a king’s child still did not represent the perfect sacrifice, because the child did not go of his (or her) own free will. A free-will sacrifice of royal blood would come closest to the perfect offering. In an article titled No Greater Sacrifice, which appeared in Widdershins, one writer suggested: “Willing sacrifice is more interesting. Why does someone want to sacrifice himself or herself for what they believe in? Historically speaking, we must consider the sacred kings who sacrificed themselves for the Land” (see Andy, 1998). Yes, a king who offered himself of his own free will would be almost the perfect sacrifice. The only problem with such a concept was the fact that no king ever had lived a perfect life. As the Widdershins writer correctly observed, in an attempt to solve this, “Finally someone came up with the idea of one final sacrifice. One sacrifice to count for all the rest for all time. But who could be offered? It had to be someone very important; even kings were not good enough. Clearly, only a god was important enough to count as the last one” (Andy, 1998). Thus, it becomes clear why even the pagan world demanded a sacrifice that was sinless, royal, and higher in stature than other humans. Doane stated: “The belief of redemption from sin by the sufferings of a Divine Incarnation, whether by death on the cross or otherwise, was general and popular among the heathen, centuries before the time of Jesus of Nazareth” (1882, pp. 183-185).

Once we comprehend the need for the death of the savior-god, it is not difficult to see why humanity would want (and need) to see him defeat death. The writer of the book of Hebrews addressed this very point when he wrote that Christ allowed Himself to be sacrificed so that He “might deliver all them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage” (2:15). Death holds more terror for man than perhaps anything else on Earth. It was for this reason that the Greeks invented Hercules—half man and half god—to conquer the Underworld, and the Egyptians formulated Osiris. Surely a savior-god who offered himself voluntarily as the sacrifice for all humanity could defeat mankind’s dreaded enemy—Death. So, the idea of a sacrificial savior-god who victoriously defeats death through his resurrection came easily to the minds of people who knew that they needed forgiveness, and who desperately wanted to live past the grave.

And so, from a “universal frame of mind” different tribes and religions—spanning thousands of years—formulated their personal versions of what they thought a resurrected savior-god should be and do. Some said he was torn into fourteen pieces and scattered throughout the land of Egypt (e.g., Osiris). Others said he would look like a man but would possess superhuman physical strength and descend to the underworld to conquer Hades (e.g., Hercules). Yet one thing is certain: tales about a hero who saved mankind were on the lips of almost every storyteller. Trench stated correctly:

No thoughtful student of the past records of mankind can refuse to acknowledge that through all its history there has run the hope of a redemption from the evil which oppresses it; and as little can deny that this hope has continually attached itself to some single man (n.d., p. 149).

But how can it be maintained, then, that the one savior for whom all humanity waited was, and is, Jesus?

One important fact that cannot be ignored is that Jesus is the only historical figure Who fulfills the criteria necessary to justify, sanctify, and redeem mankind. No human’s creative mind concocted the narrative of Jesus of Nazareth. Human eyes saw Him, and human ears heard Him. He walked and talked—lived and loved—on the streets of real cities and in the houses of real people. His life is the only life of any “savior-god” that can be (and has been) thoroughly documented. As Stephen Franklin remarked: “[T]he specific character of Biblical religion and, thus, of Christianity stems from the priority given to the historical-factual dimension of the Bible’s basic teachings and doctrines”

Therefore, the story of Jesus Christ does not occupy a place amidst the pages of Greek mythology or ancient religious legend. Indeed, skeptics would delight in being able to place the story of Jesus on the same playing field as the stories of other legendary savior-gods, because then the parallel stories easily could be relegated to myth, due to the fact that the stories cannot be verified historically. Trench wrote of such skeptics:

"Proving, as it is not hard to prove, those parallels to be groundless and mythical, to rest on no true historic basis, they hope that the great facts of the Christian’s belief will be concluded to be as weak, will be involved in a common discredit."

If infidels were able to create a straw man that could not stand up to the test of historical verifiability (like, for example, pagan legends and myths), and if they could place the story of Jesus in the same category as their tenuous straw man, then both supposedly would fall together. However, the story of Jesus of Nazareth refuses to fall. The stories of other savior-gods are admitted to be—even by those who invented them—nothing but fables (e.g., the Greeks realized that their fictitious stories were merely untrue legends that were totally unverifiable; see McCabe, 1993, p. 59 and you AM have also admitted as such). But the story of Jesus demands its rightful place in the annals of human history. Osiris, Krishna, Hercules, Dionysus, and the other mythological savior-gods stumble back into the shadows of fiction when compared to the documented life of Jesus of Nazareth. If the skeptic wishes to challenge the uniqueness of Jesus by comparing Him with other alleged savior-gods, he first must produce evidence that one of these savior-gods truly walked on the Earth, commingled with humanity, and impacted people’s lives via both a sinless existence and incomparable teachings. Humanity always has desired a real-life savior-god; but can any of the alleged savior-gods that have been invented boast of a historical existence any more thoroughly documented than that of Christ?

In addition, Jesus has a monopoly on being perfectly flawless. He lived life by the same moral rules that govern all humans, yet He never once made a mistake. The writer of Hebrews recorded: “For we have not a high priest that cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but one that hath been in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin” (4:15; cf. also 1 Peter 2:21-22). Renowned religious historian Philip Schaff wrote:

In vain do we look through the entire biography of Jesus for a single stain or the slightest shadow of his moral character. There never lived a more harmless being on earth. He injured nobody, he took advantage of nobody. He never wrote an improper word. He never committed a wrong action (1913, pp. 32-33).
Bernard Ramm commented in a similar vein when he stated of Christ:

There He stands, sinless. Whatever men may claim for being great, this is one thing they cannot. They may be brilliant or strong, fast or clever, creative or inspired, but not sinless. Sinless perfection and perfect sinlessness is what we would expect of God incarnate. The hypothesis and the facts concur (1953, p. 169, emp. in orig.).
Examine the stories of other savior-gods. See if they subjected themselves to the same rules as humans. See if they learned human nature and suffered unjustly, all the while never sinning with either their lips or their hearts. Try to find a savior like Christ who lived 30+ years on the Earth and yet never committed one shameful act. Norman Geisler summarized the situation as follows: “All men are sinners; God knows it and so do we. If a man lives an impeccable life and offers as the truth about himself that he is God incarnate we must take his claim seriously” (1976, p. 344). Jesus did “offer as the truth about himself that he is God incarnate.” As John Stott noted:

The most striking feature of the teaching of Jesus is that He was constantly talking about Himself.... This self-centeredness of the teaching of Jesus immediately sets Him apart from the other great religious teachers of the world. They were self-effacing. He was self-advancing. They pointed men away from themselves, saying, “That is the truth, so far as I perceive it; follow that.” Jesus said, “I am the truth; follow me.” The founders of the ethnic religions never dared say such a thing (1971, p. 23).

More can be said of this but it really has already been said. I quote JC:

" Just because a fictional story existed prior to a similar historical event does not prove that the record of the historical event was copied from the fictional story.

What is more likely is that the theme of sacrifice and atonement for sin is a universal truth."
FaithnJC

Re: Why foretell via myth?

Postby AMbomb » Tue May 16, 2006 2:40 am

I don't address the central issue?! You gotta be kidding me! The central issue is the similarity of the Jesus story to earlier pagan godman myths. That's the reason for my conclusion that there was no Jesus. Getting other people to address it has been like pulling teeth! That's why I've had to repeat myself so damn many times! And if you think the life of Jesus is well documented, go look through the Roman archives and see if you can find any mention of him. And when you're finished, you can go through the writings of the 27 pagan writers who lived within a century of when Jesus is said to have lived and see if any of them mention him. That'll take you a while, though. Their writings could fill a library. I know you're a Christian. What you need to do is divorce yourself as much as possible from that and think about what I wrote in the third message from the top of page 5 if you actually read it. And if you didn't, read it.
AMbomb

Re: Why foretell via myth?

Postby FaithnJC » Tue May 16, 2006 7:17 pm

Ah yes, the similarity of the Jesus story. I am acutely aware of your mantra. As I am acutely aware of your cognitive dissonance. While I understand that you cannot seperate yourself from your presuppositions and therefore will wrongly conclude that Jesus is a myth, I still enjoy this debate.

Let me shed some additional light on this subject. If you care to open up your mind to the possibility that the Biblical gospels are the truth, then read through this link:
Some highlights from:

RECONSTRUCTING THE MYSTERIES_*

It is not until we come to the third century A.D. that we find
sufficient source material (i.e., information about the mystery
religions from the writings of the time) to permit a relatively
complete reconstruction of their content. Far too many writers use
this late source material (after A.D. 200) to form reconstructions
of the third-century mystery experience and then uncritically
reason back to what they think must have been the earlier nature of
the cults. This practice is exceptionally bad scholarship and
should not be allowed to stand without challenge. Information about
a cult that comes several hundred years after the close of the New
Testament canon must not be read back into what is presumed to be
the status of the cult during the first century A.D. The crucial
question is not what possible influence the mysteries may have had
on segments of Christendom after A.D. 400, but what effect the
emerging mysteries may have had on the New Testament in the first
century.

Mithraism_*

Attempts to reconstruct the beliefs and practices of Mithraism
face enormous challenges because of the scanty information that has
survived. Proponents of the cult explained the world in terms of
two ultimate and opposing principles, one good (depicted as light)
and the other evil (darkness). Human beings must choose which side
they will fight for; they are trapped in the conflict between light
and darkness. Mithra came to be regarded as the most powerful
mediator who could help humans ward off attacks from demonic
forces.[8]

The major reason why no Mithraic influence on first-century
Christianity is possible is the timing: it's all wrong! The
flowering of Mithraism occurred after the close of the New
Testament canon, much too late for it to have influenced anything
that appears in the New Testament.[9] Moreover, no monuments for
the cult can be dated earlier than A.D. 90-100, and even this
dating requires us to make some exceedingly generous assumptions.
Chronological difficulties, then, make the possibility of a
Mithraic influence on early Christianity extremely improbable.
Certainly, there remains no credible evidence for such an
influence.

STRIKING PARALLELS?_*

Enough has been said thus far to permit comment on one of the
major faults of the above-mentioned liberal scholars. I refer to
the frequency with which their writings evidence a careless, even
sloppy use of language. One frequently encounters scholars who
first use Christian terminology to describe pagan beliefs and
practices, and then marvel at the striking parallels they think
they have discovered. One can go a long way toward "proving" early
Christian dependence on the mysteries by describing some mystery
belief or practice in Christian terminology. J. Godwin does this in
his book, _Mystery Religions in the Ancient World,_ which describes
the criobolium (_see_ footnote 6) as a "blood baptism" in which the
initiate is "washed in the blood of the lamb."[10] While uninformed
readers might be stunned by this remarkable similarity to
Christianity (_see_ Rev. 7:14), knowledgeable readers will see such
a claim as the reflection of a strong, negative bias against
Christianity.

Exaggerations and oversimplifications abound in this kind of
literature. One encounters overblown claims about alleged
likenesses between baptism and the Lord's Supper and similar
"sacraments" in certain mystery cults. Attempts to find analogies
between the resurrection of Christ and the alleged "resurrections"
of the mystery deities involve massive amounts of
oversimplification and inattention to detail.

The Risen Christ and the "Rising Savior-Gods"_*

Which mystery gods actually experienced a resurrection from the
dead? Certainly no early texts refer to any resurrection of Attis.
Nor is the case for a resurrection of Osiris any stronger. One can
speak of a "resurrection" in the stories of Osiris, Attis, and
Adonis only in the most extended of senses.[17] For example, after
Isis gathered together the pieces of Osiris's dismembered body,
Osiris became "Lord of the Underworld." This is a poor substitute
for a resurrection like that of Jesus Christ. And, no claim can be
made that Mithras was a dying and rising god. The tide of scholarly
opinion has turned dramatically against attempts to make early
Christianity dependent on the so-called dying and rising gods of
Hellenistic paganism.[18] Any unbiased examination of the evidence
shows that such claims must be rejected.

Christian Rebirth and Cultic Initiation Rites_*

Liberal writings on the subject are full of sweeping
generalizations to the effect that early Christianity borrowed its
notion of rebirth from the pagan mysteries.[19] But the evidence
makes it clear that there was no pre-Christian doctrine of rebirth
for the Christians to borrow. There are actually very few
references to the notion of rebirth in the evidence that has
survived, and even these are either very late or very ambiguous.
They provide no help in settling the question of the source of the
New Testament use of the concept. The claim that pre-Christian
mysteries regarded their initiation rites as a kind of rebirth is
unsupported by any evidence contemporary with such alleged
practices. Instead, a view found in much later texts is read back
into earlier rites, which are then interpreted quite speculatively
as dramatic portrayals of the initiate's "new birth." The belief
that pre-Christian mysteries used "rebirth" as a technical term
lacks support from even one single text.

Most contemporary scholars maintain that the mystery use of the
concept of rebirth (testified to only in evidence dated after A.D.
300) differs so significantly from its New Testament usage that any
possibility of a close link is ruled out. The most that such
scholars are willing to concede is the _possibility_ that some
Christians borrowed the metaphor or imagery from the common speech
of the time and recast it to fit their distinctive theological
beliefs. So even if the metaphor of rebirth was Hellenistic, its
content within Christianity was unique.

SEVEN ARGUMENTS AGAINST CHRISTIAN DEPENDENCE ON THE MYSTERIES_*

I conclude by noting seven points that undermine liberal
efforts to show that first-century Christianity borrowed essential
beliefs and practices from the pagan mystery religions.

(1) Arguments offered to "prove" a Christian dependence on the
mysteries illustrate the logical fallacy of false cause. This
fallacy is committed whenever someone reasons that just because two
things exist side by side, one of them must have caused the other.
As we all should know, mere coincidence does not prove causal
connection. Nor does similarity prove dependence.

(2) Many alleged similarities between Christianity and the
mysteries are either greatly exaggerated or fabricated. Scholars
often describe pagan rituals in language they borrow from
Christianity. The careless use of language could lead one to speak
of a "Last Supper" in Mithraism or a "baptism" in the cult of Isis.
It is inexcusable nonsense to take the word "savior" with all of
its New Testament connotations and apply it to Osiris or Attis as
though they were savior-gods in any similar sense.

(3) The chronology is all wrong. Almost all of our sources of
information about the pagan religions alleged to have influenced
early Christianity are dated very late. We frequently find writers
quoting from documents written 300 years later than Paul in efforts
to produce ideas that allegedly influenced Paul. We must reject the
assumption that just because a cult had a certain belief or
practice in the third or fourth century after Christ, it therefore
had the same belief or practice in the first century.

(4) Paul would never have consciously borrowed from the pagan
religions. All of our information about him makes it highly
unlikely that he was in any sense influenced by pagan sources. He
placed great emphasis on his early training in a strict form of
Judaism (Phil. 3:5). He warned the Colossians against the very sort
of influence that advocates of Christian syncretism have attributed
to him, namely, letting their minds be captured by alien
speculations (Col. 2:8).

(5) Early Christianity was an exclusivistic faith. As J. Machen
explains, the mystery cults were nonexclusive. "A man could become
initiated into the mysteries of Isis or Mithras without at all
giving up his former beliefs; but if he were to be received into
the Church, according to the preaching of Paul, he must forsake all
other Saviors for the Lord Jesus Christ....Amid the prevailing
syncretism of the Greco-Roman world, the religion of Paul, with the
religion of Israel, stands absolutely alone."[21] This Christian
exclusivism should be a starting point for all reflection about the
possible relations between Christianity and its pagan competitors.
Any hint of syncretism in the New Testament would have caused
immediate controversy.

(6) Unlike the mysteries, the religion of Paul was grounded on
events that actually happened in history. The mysticism of the
mystery cults was essentially nonhistorical. Their myths were
dramas, or pictures, of what the initiate went through, not real
historical events, as Paul regarded Christ's death and resurrection
to be. The Christian affirmation that the death and resurrection of
Christ happened to a historical person at a particular time and
place has absolutely no parallel in any pagan mystery religion.

(7) What few parallels may still remain may reflect a Christian
influence on the pagan systems. As Bruce Metzger has argued, "It
must not be uncritically assumed that the Mysteries always
influenced Christianity, for it is not only possible but probable
that in certain cases, the influence moved in the opposite
direction."[22] It should not be surprising that leaders of cults
that were being successfully challenged by Christianity should do
something to counter the challenge. What better way to do this than
by offering a pagan substitute? Pagan attempts to counter the
growing influence of Christianity by imitating it are clearly
apparent in measures instituted by Julian the Apostate, who was the
Roman emperor from A.D. 361 to 363.


*_A FINAL WORD_*

Liberal efforts to undermine the uniqueness of the Christian
revelation via claims of a pagan religious influence collapse
quickly once a full account of the information is available. It is
clear that the liberal arguments exhibit astoundingly bad
scholarship. Indeed, this conclusion may be too generous. According
to one writer, a more accurate account of these bad arguments would
describe them as "prejudiced irresponsibility."[23] But in order to
become completely informed on these matters, wise readers will work
through material cited in the brief bibliography.


You have already been informed of the Roman and pagan writers who mentioned Jesus in their writings. Not only Jesus but His brother James, John the Baptist, etc. As far as your demand for contemporaries: there aren't as many surviving Roman records as you claim. In addition, do you really think a Roman historian would give a hoot for Jesus? Jesus was a peasant, running around a dreadful Palestinian outpost, teaching other Jews in the desert about the Jews' God, and this peasant Jesus was on the scene for a mere 3 1/2 years?
FaithnJC

Re: Why foretell via myth?

Postby AMbomb » Wed May 17, 2006 1:06 pm

In the message before this last one, you wrote about the similarities between the Jesus story and the pagan godman myth as if they supported your argument. Now you post a quote that says they were exaggerated. What happened? Did you figure out that the similarity between the stories means that I'm right? And you stated earlier that the life of Jesus is well documented. And now you admit that there aren't many surviving Roman records, implicitly admitting that there is, in fact, no mention of him in the Roman archives. You said I've already been informed of the Roman and pagan writers who mention Jesus. Then you ask why a Roman historian would give a hoot for him as if to offer an explanation why they don't mention him. Give it up, dude. Your godman's not real and never was.
AMbomb

Re: Why foretell via myth?

Postby FaithnJC » Wed May 17, 2006 3:48 pm

In my message before this last one I indeed wrote about some similarites. I quote from that post:

"This legend, taken as a whole, provides few (if any) real parallels to the story of Jesus. Furthermore, when all the stories about characters who supposedly were similar to Christ are told in their entirety, it is obvious that each of them contains only a few characteristics that come anywhere close to resembling those contained in the life story of Jesus. Additionally, some of the alleged parallels rest upon tenuous documentation and may even be fabricated. "

Now then, what that post did, was demonstrate the fact that your assertions are not new. That the early church apologists dealt with them and used them. It went into detail that some of the few similarities that may exist should not surprise us. I showed that Mankind has a religious instinct and has always felt a need to sacrifice.

I stated in my next post, "Let me shed some additional light on this subject" (godman similarities). In other words, in my next post I expounded on the earlier post about the supposed "similarities" and went into greater detail on the fabrications.

I don't see where you find any confusion. It is still apparent that you aren't reading in a coherent manner. You said for me to give it up. How can I give up Christ when after my whole life of being an agnostic, He came to me and radically changed my life?
FaithnJC

Re: Why foretell via myth?

Postby AMbomb » Wed May 17, 2006 10:49 pm

I notice you've chosen to ignore the part of my message about archives and writers. Religion is the primitive man's science. It's how people explained things before there was science. There is what you might call a religious instinct of sorts among some people. People who have cytosine in a particular locale in the vmat2 gene tend to be more spiritually oriented than those who don't. This raises the question if there's such a thing as a god who wants us to believe in him, why didn't he give everybody cytosine at that locale? But, that's not relevent to this thread. Anyway, I wouldn't trust anything I read from the Christian Research Institute as far as I could throw it. The Jesus Mysteries is a very thoroughly researched book (64 pages of notes and an 8 page bibliography) written by objective scholars who were raised Christians. They, unlike Christians, let the facts lead them to the conclusion, instead of starting with a conclusion and looking for facts to support it. Bottom line: I trust what Timothy Freke and Peter Gandy say, not what the Christian Research Institute says. You ask how you can give up Christ after he changed your life. The insidious thing about Christianity is that it preys on the vulnerable. People whose lives aren't going well often turn to it out of desperation. And their lives get better and they credit Jesus, when in reality it's the Dumbo Effect. Your belief in Jesus gave you the confidence to make your life better. But, it was you that did it. You don't need to believe in Jesus. Just believe in yourself.
AMbomb

Re: Why foretell via myth?

Postby FaithnJC » Thu May 18, 2006 12:00 am

Actually I didn't ignore your archives and writers comment If you'd read, you'd notice I stated: "You have already been informed of the Roman and pagan writers who mentioned Jesus in their writings. Not only Jesus but His brother James, John the Baptist, etc. As far as your demand for contemporaries: there aren't as many surviving Roman records as you claim. In addition, do you really think a Roman historian would give a hoot for Jesus? Jesus was a peasant, running around a dreadful Palestinian outpost, teaching other Jews in the desert about the Jews' God, and this peasant Jesus was on the scene for a mere 3 1/2 years?

Oh, the ‘God Gene' Dr. Dean Hamer spouts off about. You can put the god gene in the same sophistry category as Hamer's now proven false gay gene. So now you are resorting to pseudoscience are you. Hey, how about a rape gene? A murder gene? I know, I know....a stealing gene?

Btw, if the presence of this version of the gene makes the person who has it more religious and spiritual than people who do not, it is awfully strange that for 37 years I had no desire to do anything spiritual.

The Jesus mysteries are objective scholars eh? I really don't think so. The information from CRI is information that is readily available. It didn't exclusively come from CRI. As far as them being raised Christians, that is suppose to mean....? Countless numbers of prominent atheists have turned Christian when investigating the evidence objectively, i.e., Lee Strobel. Josh McDowell, Sir Willaim Ramsey, Dr. Simon Greenleaf, C.S. Lewis, Dr. Hugh Ross, etc. etc., the list could go on forever.

Your comment on Christianity preys on the vulnerable is absolutely baseless. Myself being a case in point. I had it all before Christ, $100,000+ a year salary, beautiful wife, children, home, two brand new vehicles, lots of friends, great health...I had it all (except for eternal life of course).
FaithnJC

Re: Why foretell via myth?

Postby AMbomb » Thu May 18, 2006 12:41 am

You ignored the part in my message before my last message, not my message before my message before my last message. Anyway, if you think you can find a reference to Jesus in the works of the 1st century pagan writers, go through them. As for vmat2, we're talking about tendencies here. People who have cytosine in the locale have are more prone to be spiritual than those who don't. People with or without cytosine in the locale can start out non-religious and become religious and vice versa. The gay gene hasn't been disproven though. Research supports the theory that homosexuality is genetic. If you don't believe that, do some research of your own using secular sources. The fact that Freke and Gandy were raised Christians proves their objectivity. They weren't looking to find evidence disproving the existence of Jesus. And if you had it all, that proves you don't need to believe in a deity. :D Besides, even if what I was talking about doesn't apply to you, there are a lot of people to whom it does apply. As for eternal life, you don't need Christianity for that, either. All you have to do to reverse the aging process is figure out how to activate the telomerase gene. By the way, have you read the third message from the top of page 5 yet?

Re: Why foretell via myth?

Postby FaithnJC » Thu May 18, 2006 11:33 am


Are my posts that much of a sockdolager for you? You almost had it right; since I had it all, I didn't feel I deeded a diety. But alas, Christ reached down and I responded because frankly, I have no problem with there being a creator. And I thank Him everyday for providing a way to Him.

Your god gene is only sophistry put on by Dr. Hamer, pseudoscience at its finest. I'm still waiting on that rape gene :lol: Besides resorting to psuedoscience, you are using a strawman, e.g., people who have the god gene are prone to be spiritual and people without the god gene can become spiritual and vice versa :lol:

We can have a theory for anything but the fact remains, there is no evidence for a gay gene. There is no evidence that shows that homosexuality is simply "genetic." And none of the research claims there is. Only the press and certain researchers do, when speaking in sound bites to the public. There being no evidence comes from secular sources although what this is suppose to mean is nonsense. The medical field is full of believers and nonbelievers, their beliefs in a diety is irrelevant. How about a murder gene?

Another strawman, "The fact that Freke and Gandy were raised Christians proves their objectivity." Very well then, the fact that countless numbers of prominent atheists have turned Christian when investigating the evidence proves their objectivity, i.e., Lee Strobel. Josh McDowell, Sir Willaim Ramsey, Dr. Simon Greenleaf, C.S. Lewis, Dr. Hugh Ross, etc. etc.

Strawman that it is, Christ spoke numerous times of people who thought they were His followers, i.e., Freke and Gandy. Of course I won't inform you of what Christ said since you are not able to discern clearly:

"I know very well how foolish the message of the cross sounds to those who are on the road to destruction. But we who are being saved recognize this message as the very power of God. As the Scriptures say,

'I will destroy human wisdom
and discard their most brilliant ideas.'

So where does this leave the philosophers, the scholars, and the world's brilliant debaters? God has made them all look foolish and has shown their wisdom to be useless nonsense. Since God in his wisdom saw to it that the world would never find him through human wisdom, he has used our foolish preaching to save all who believe. God's way seems foolish to the Jews because they want a sign from heaven to prove it is true. And it is foolish to the Greeks because they believe only what agrees with their own wisdom. So when we preach that Christ was crucified, the Jews are offended, and the Gentiles say it's all nonsense. But to those called by God to salvation, both Jews and Gentiles, Christ is the mighty power of God and the wonderful wisdom of God. This "foolish" plan of God is far wiser than the wisest of human plans, and God's weakness is far stronger than the greatest of human strength.
1 Cor 1:18-25.

So, as you can see from the afformetioned scripture, it is a waste of time trying to reason with the close minded.

Anyway, this topic has turned into nothing more than badinage. And to that end, I will probably be finished bantering with you. I will leave my valuable free-time to those who want to explore the evidence without preconceived suppositions.
FaithnJC

Re: Why foretell via myth?

Postby AMbomb » Thu May 18, 2006 1:30 pm

I'm close minded? Talk about the pot calling the kettle black. There is nothing more close minded than a fundie. No matter how well reasoned an argument, no matter how much evidence is presented which contradicts your beliefs, you still continue to have them. Anyway, who we are is a result of a complex interaction between genes and environment. That much is clear. So, why is it so hard for you to believe that thing like spirituality and sexual orientation have genetic components? The difference between Timothy Freke and Peter Gandy and those other people you mentioned is that they present evidence supporting their argument. Christians can't present evidence supporting their arguments because they don't have any. Assuming they really did arrive at their conclusions objectively, they must have seen evidence where it didn't really exist.

Re: Why foretell via myth?

Postby jcr4runner » Mon Jun 05, 2006 9:40 pm

You want someone to say that the story could not be true because it was based on an earlier myth?

You think this analogy proves that the resurrection stories were borrowed from eastern pagan cults called "mystery religions.” The people who wrote the Jesus story took an earlier story and passed it on via Jesus. You think that similarities among stories told among cults and mystery religions disprove the resurrection of Jesus.

The writers of the New Testament mention the “mystery religions” — most notably, the Apostles Peter, John and Paul. What is described in their writings is Gnosticism — an eastern cult that had followers the world over at the time of the Roman Empire. At the time of Jesus, even Judaism had succumbed to the effects of the ancient mystery religions. So it is at least possible that the early Christians could have borrrowed stories from the Gnostics.

Let's say for the sake of argument that your thesis is correct. That the Gnostic stories were exactly the same in every detail as the story of Jesus -- (which I don't agree with because there are major diffferences between the Gospel and these myths).

But let's examine this thesis as if it were true.

Let's say that one or more of the Apostles may have borrowed a story from the Gnostics about Jesus’ resurrection from the dead in order to give themselves some credibility.

Here are a few problems with this thesis:

1. The Apostles were writing only a few years after the time of Jesus. Why would they have consciously borrowed from the Gnostics in order to invent a fictitious resurrection story while at the same time condemning the Gnostics' teachings?

2. In the first century, one or more of the Apostles may have invented a story about Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. If the resurrection were a hoax, why would there be a growing Christian movement in the immediate years after Jesus’ death? Why would there even be an Apostle who would want to record a falsified history?

3. Many of the disciples who claimed to be eyewitnesses to Christ’s resurrection died as martyrs for their faith. Why would these people die for what they knew was a fraudulent claim?

While your thesis is possible, it is highly implausible. It simply doesn't make sense to say that Christians who were writing only a few years after the time of a falsified event were willing to go to such lengths in order to protect the integrity of the story of a man they knew never existed.
jcr4runner

I want your take on this.

Postby jcr4runner » Mon Jun 05, 2006 9:54 pm

I know you will read all of my last post and you will have various objections.

However, I really wanted to get you take on this one vital point:

If the resurrection were a hoax, why would there even be a Christian movement in the years immediately after Jesus’ death?

If Christ’s life was fiction, why would there even be an Apostle who would want to record a falsified record of Jesus’ death and resurrection as though it were factual history?

Even if I were not a committed Christian with a personal experience of salvation in Christ, this would seem far fetched to me. Obviously, they must have known a person called Jesus. They must have seen something to convince them that He really rose from the dead. Even if I were a skeptic, it would be obvious to me that at least they believed it.
jcr4runner

Re: I want your take on this.

Postby AMbomb » Sat Jun 10, 2006 12:45 pm

Asking why there would be a Christian movement in the years immediately after Jesus's death assumes Jesus lived and died. The 4 gospels didn't necessarily intentionally falsify anything. It's entirely possible that they did, in fact, believe the story. But even if they did, that doesn't make it true.
AMbomb

Re: Why foretell via myth?

Postby AMbomb » Sat Jun 10, 2006 1:05 pm

First of all, one of the apostles you mention, Paul, was a gnostic. He wrote the earliest known Christian documents. He could've been the founder of Christianity! Secondly, the gnostics themselves borrowed the story from earlier mystery religions. The pagan godman myths, including the Jesus myth, are all different to a small degree. But they're all basically the same story. As it's put in Pagan Origins of the Christ Myth, Jesus was a new god the way the first Honda Civic was a new car. For more information on the pagan godman myths, I suggest you buy a book called The Ancient Mysteries and compare for yourself. Early Christianity had a whole bunch of different factions. They were divided into two groups: gnostics and literalists. The literalists believed the story of Jesus was literally true. They condemned the gnostics because the gnostics didn't. Jesus supposedly died between 30 and 35. There is no evidence of the existence of Christianity before the letters of Paul, written around 50. The original Christians knew there was no Jesus. So, the movement didn't initially grow because people believed there really was a Jesus who died and rose from the dead. There is no evidence supporting the Biblical claim that anyone witnessed Jesus's resurrection. Furthermore, Christians were persecuted for a total of only 4 years in the whole history of the Roman Empire, from 257-259 and from 303-305. [/b]
AMbomb

Paul was not a gnostic

Postby jcr4runner » Sat Jun 10, 2006 1:35 pm

How could Paul be a Gnostic when he refuted it as heresy -- in very strong terms?

You really don't know too much about the Bible except what you read in Freke's book.
jcr4runner

Re: Paul was not a gnostic

Postby AMbomb » Sat Jun 10, 2006 3:50 pm

Some of the writings attributed to Paul are forgeries.
AMbomb

Convenient arguments

Postby jcr4runner » Sat Jun 10, 2006 10:29 pm

It's difficult to take you seriously. Your whole tactic is to deny what historians have believed for centuries and cling to what some oddball skeptics have written in the last few years.

There are no less than seven New Testament passges condemning Gnosticism. The Apostles could not have been Gnostics.

Gnostic views of the Godhead were opposed by Paul in his writings, by Peter in his second epistle, by the Apostle John in his writings, and by the Church Fathers and apologists.

The Apostle Paul wrote in his first epistle to Timothy:

O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called (1 Timothy 6:20).

It’s worth noting here that the word translated as “science,” or as “knowledge” in some translations, is the Greek word gnosis. Paul is warning his young disciple Timothy against the error of Gnosticism. Likewise, the letter to the Colossians also deals with Gnosticism.

Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ (Colossians 2:8).

Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind (Colossians 2:18).

Peter’s second epistle also warns against heresies. Many scholars believe he is referring specifically to the teachings of Gnosticism.

But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction (2 Peter 2:1).

John’s writings were written in part to counter the Gnostic error that supposed that Christ came in spirit form only, but not in human flesh.

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon and touched with our hands (1 John 1:1).

By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit which confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God (1 John 4:2).

John further condemns the “mystery religions” that had corrupted first century Jews represented by the harlot in the book of Revelation.

And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication: And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS (Revelation 17:3,4).

Around 180 A.D., the Christian apologist, Irenaeus, wrote his great polemic, Against Heresies: The Refutation and Overthrow of Knowledge Falsely So Called, dealing with Gnostic heresies. Irenaeus makes 1,819 references to New Testament scriptures.

At about the same time, Tertullian quoted the four Gospels, the Acts of the Apostles, thirteen of Paul’s epistles, Hebrews, 1 John and the book of Revelation in arguing against Marcion the Gnostic heretic and quotes from the New Testament 7,258 times.
jcr4runner

Don't know much about history

Postby jcr4runner » Sat Jun 10, 2006 10:31 pm

There were actually ten persecutions of Christians under ten Emperors.

1. Nero (Roman emperor AD 54–68), persecution stirred up in AD 64. In this persecution was the Apostle Paul killed and the apostle Peter crucified in Rome. This first persecution ceased under Vespasian (reigned AD 69–79).

2. Domitian (Roman emperor AD 81–96).

3. Trajan (Roman emperor AD 98–117). Ignatius, the bishop of Antioch suffered in this persecution.

4. Marcus Aurelius, his other name being Antoninus Verus (Roman emperor AD 161–180). Polycarp, the bishop of Smyrna, and the Christian martyrs of Lyons and Vienne, two cities in France, were martyred in this persecution.

5. Septimius Severus (Roman emperor AD 193–211). This persecution extended to northern Africa, which was a Roman province.

6. Maximinus, Gaius Julius Verus (Roman emperor AD 235–238).

7. Decius (Roman emperor AD 249–251). In this persecution was Fabian martyred; Cyprian, bishop of Carthage, forced into exile; and Origen imprisoned and tortured.

8. Valerian (Roman emperor AD 253–260).

9. Aurelian (Roman emperor AD 270–275).

10. Diocletian (Gaius Aurelius Valerius Diocletianus, reigned AD 284–305) and Maximian (reigned AD 285–305) governed as emperors together. Diocletian began his furious persecution against the Christians in 303.

Re: Why foretell via myth?

Postby jcr4runner » Sat Jun 10, 2006 11:13 pm

Your idea is that the Gnostics were a competing faction with Christians in the first and second centuries. This is true. I have read the writings of the Church fathers Irenaeus and Tertullian on this topic. Gnosticism was a world religion prior to Christ. The threat of Gnosticism was around from the beginning, but unlike the four Christian Gospels the Gnostic Gospels didn't begin to appear until one to three hundred years later.

The problem with your argument is that you claim that prior to 50 AD there is no evidence of Jesus in the form of written testimony. However, there is no evidence either for your claim that "the original Christians knew there was no Jesus." Using your own argument, if there are no extant Christian (or Gnostic/pseudo-Christian) writings prior to Paul, then how can you make this claim?

Paul in his Epistles refers to his "Gospel" and includes many points that are corroborated by the later written histories of the four Gospels.

If the original Christians were Gnostics, then you would expect to find wide disparities between the four Christian Gospels and the Pauline Epistles. But both agree with each other.

There are only two logical possibilities accepted by either liberals or conservatives. Here they are respectively:

1. (The liberal view) - Paul's Gospel and the later Gospel histories both came from an independent common source.

2. (The conservative view) - Paul took his Gospel from the orally preached Gospels of Peter (Mark was actually Peter's scribe) and Matthew. According to the first century Church fathers Papias and Polycarp (who was a student of the Apostle John) Paul's Gospel later became known as the Gospel of Luke, since Luke was Paul's scribe. The Gospel of John was written last.

This is also how we can know that the early pagan historians' references to Christ are based on independent records and research. If these were compiled solely from the written testimony of Christians, then we would expect to find only history that is found in the New Testament. If they were based on hearsay from Christians we would also expect to find some corruption or disagreeing accounts.

For instance, Nero's persecution is alluded to in the New Testament, but he is never named. So this is a pagan record, not a Christian invention.

Also, as I posted elsewhere, the basic facts about Jesus' life listed by Paul, the writers of the four Gospels, and the pagan testimony are in agreement.

Freke and Doherty's theory is based solely on conjecture not history. Even liberals who deny the deity of Christ, know that they are not credible historians.

Earl Doherty makes a huge assumption popular among the 19th century critics that the Gospels were not written in the first century. Most scholars now admit that they were.

He then goes on to state that none of the Gospel story appears in the Epistles.

Here is just a brief summary of the “non-narrative” evidence from Paul's Epistles that also appear the Gospel stories. Those points also attested to by non-Christian writers are marked with an asterisk.

The following is from Luke Timothy Johnson’s book, The Real Jesus:

1. Jesus was a real human person (Paul, Hebrews)*
2. Jesus was a Jew (Paul, Hebrews)*
3. Jesus was of the tribe of Judah (Hebrews)
4. Jesus was a descendant of David (Paul)
5. Jesus mission' was to the Jews (Paul)*
6. Jesus was a teacher (Paul, James)*
7. Jesus was tested (Hebrews)
8. Jesus prayed using the word ABBA (Paul)
9. Jesus prayed for deliverance from death (Hebrews)
10. Jesus Suffered (Paul, Hebrews, Peter)
11. Jesus interpreted his last meal with reference to his death
(Paul -- mentioned also in the writings of Tacitus and Josephus)*
12. Jesus underwent a trial (Paul)*
13. Jesus appeared before Pontius Pilate (Paul)*
14. Jesus death involved the Jews (Paul)*
15. Jesus was crucified (Paul, Hebrews, 1 Peter)*
16. Jesus was buried (Paul)
17. Jesus appeared to witesses after death (Paul)

So it is clear to see that the most vital elements of the Gospel story appear in the Epistles.

In “The Jesus Puzzle,” Doherty then goes on to write that:
The Gospel Jesus and his story is equally missing from the non-Christian record of the time.
Ironically, what follows is the list of pagan historians who do mention Jesus. He brushes this off by claiming that they must be forgeries.

The problem is that historians do not universally consider these passages to be forgeries. In addition, Josephus, Suetonius, Tacitus, Pliny, Lucian and Celsus refer to Christ and Christians sometimes in negative terms. This is hardly the strategy for a Christian forger who is trying to gain credibility for his movement.
jcr4runner

Nero's persecution

Postby jcr4runner » Sat Jun 10, 2006 11:49 pm

It occurs to me that if Nero put Christians to death because they believed in a literal Jesus, the sovereign of the universe, then your entire argument falls apart.

There is no evidence that Tacitus has been interpolated.

Tacitus was so negative about Christians that not only is this passage credible, but he was not useful for contemporary Christian apologists. A Christian interpolation has positive things about Christians or Christ that the writer could not have said. So we do know what a Christian interpolation looks like and we know that it doesn't look like Tacitus.

What evidence (besides repeated denials) do you have to prove that Nero didn't persecute Christians?

Gaius Cornelius Tacitus described the event:

"And so, to get rid of this rumor, Nero set up as the culprits and punished with the utmost refinement of cruelty a class hated for their abominations, who are commonly called Christians. Nero’s scapegoats were the perfect choice because it temporarily relieved pressure of the various rumors going around Rome. Christus, from whom their name is derived, was executed at the hands of the procurator Pontius Pilate in the reign of Tiberius. Checked for a moment, this pernicious superstition again broke out, not only in Iudaea, the source of the evil, but even in Rome... Accordingly, arrest was first made of those who confessed; then, on their evidence, an immense multitude was convicted, not so much on the charge of arson as because of [their] hatred for the human race. Besides being put to death they were made to serve as objects of amusement; they were clothed in the hides of beasts and torn to death by dogs; others were crucified, others set on fire to serve to illuminate the night when daylight failed. Nero had thrown open his grounds for the display, and was putting on a show in the circus, where he mingled with the people in the dress of charioteer or drove about in his chariot. All this gave rise to a feeling of pity, even towards men whose guilt merited the most exemplary punishment; for it was felt that they were being destroyed not for the public good but to gratify the cruelty of an individual." - Tacitus, Annales, xv.44

The Roman Tertullian (in a fragment quoted in Eusebius) writes as follows: "Examine your records. There you will find that Nero was the first that persecuted this doctrine, particularly then when after subduing all the east, he exercised his cruelty against all at Rome. We glory in having such a man the leader in our punishment. For whoever knows him can understand that nothing was condemned by Nero unless it was something of great excellence."

Eusebius, the 4th century historian, also tells us that Mark was Peter's interpreter and traveled with him to Rome in 60 A.D. During the reign of the Roman emperor Nero, the Roman authorities used a copy of Mark's Gospel as evidence to implicate the Christians as the cause of a large fire which had burned much of the city. On a papyrus scroll appeared the title: "The Gospel of Jesus Christ the Son of God." In the ensuing period, Christians were persecuted as scapegoats. Evidently the title of Mark's Gospel was construed as treasonous.
jcr4runner

The blatant errors of Freke and Gandy

Postby jcr4runner » Sat Jun 10, 2006 11:53 pm

According to Freke and Gandy:

“It is a completely remarkable fact … that Paul says nothing at all about the historical Jesus! He is concerned only with the crucified and resurrected Christ, whose importance is entirely mythical …. Paul’s Christ, like the Pagan’s Osiris-Dionysus, is a timeless mythical figure.” (p. 151, emphasis added).

Yet in three of Paul’s undisputed letters, Galatians, 1 Corinthians and Romans, we find Jesus Christ as a real historical person. These are Epistles that even the most extreme liberals admit that he wrote.

Here are some quick facts from those letters that also appear in the written Gospels:

1. Jesus was born a Jew (Gal. 4:4).

2. Jesus had brothers, one named James, who was alive at Paul's writing (Gal. 1:19; 1 Cor. 9:5)

3. Jesus was a teacher to Jews (Rom. 15:8; 1 Cor. 7:11; 9:14).

4. Jesus had 12 disciples (1 Cor. 15:5)

5. Jesus held a last supper with his disciples (1 Cor. 11:23-26).

6. Jesus was betrayed (1 Cor. 11:23).

7. Jesus was crucified (1 Cor. 2:2).
jcr4runner

Re: Convenient arguments

Postby AMbomb » Sun Jun 11, 2006 1:28 am

I didn't say all the apostles were gnostics. I only said Paul was. There's a whole chapter in The Jesus Mysteries in which the evidence that Paul was a gnostic is layed out. Gnostic sages of the early 2nd century called him "the Great Apostle." Many gnostic groups identify him as their founding father. Some gnostics even called themselves Paulicians. Paul frequently used terms and phrases from the pagan mysteries, like pneuma (spirit), gnosis (diving knowledge), doxa (glory), sophia (wisdom) and teleloi (the initiated). He advised his followers to "earnestly seek the greater charismata." The word charismata derives from the mystery term makarismos, which refers to the blessed nature of one who has seen the mysteries. He even called himself a "Steward of the Mysteries of God". And there's more. By the way, the letters to Timothy are forgeries.
AMbomb

Think critically.

Postby jcr4runner » Sun Jun 11, 2006 10:27 am

You are not thinking critically. The fact that Paul used common Greek words that the Gnostics also used does not make him a Gnostic. He does not describe anywhere the Gnostic belief that the physical world is evil. Further, the Gnostics did not think Jesus never existed. They only denied his human and physical attributes.

Of course, I don't believe the New Testament contains forgeries. That was a popular belief 100 years ago, but older texts found since that time, such as the Rylands fragement, show that the New Testament has remained remarkably unchanged.

1 Timothy refutes your argument. But other Pauline letters you ignore refute it also. We don't need the Pauline books that liberals doubt such as 1 Timothy to show that Paul was not a Gnostic. Taking only books that are universally attributed to Paul, we can show this.

What about the anti-Gnostic statements in Galatians, Romans, and Corinthians, in which human attributes are imputed to Jesus? Since the Gnostics believed that Jesus was a spirit being only he could not have been born, could not have had physical brothers, and could not have been crucified. Since he had no physical body, how could any of these things occur?

What also doesn't fit is the idea that the Gnostics thought of Jesus as a myth. They believed that Jesus actually apeared, but he was God in the form of a man, rather than fully God and fully man -- as orthodox Christians believed.

Paul could not have been a Gnostic. In Galatians, he describes his theologicaal training as a Pharrisee, a sect of Judaism that had definite beliefs about the resurrection from the dead that contadicts Gnostic philosophy.

In any case, claiming that Paul was a Gnostic doesn't support the thesis that Jesus did not exist. Gnostics did not claim he never existed.
jcr4runner

Re: Think critically.

Postby AMbomb » Sun Jun 11, 2006 11:50 am

What about the fact that he referred to himself as a Steward of the Mysteries of God? And what about the favorable language in which gnostics wrote of him? Would they have done that if he was an anti-gnostic literalist? The gnostics did know that Jesus didn't exist, though, just like the followers of other mystery religions knew their godmen didn't exist. Remember the story of Jesus was originally just an allegory. It was never meant to be taken literally.
AMbomb

Re: Why foretell via myth?

Postby AMbomb » Sun Jun 11, 2006 12:05 pm

If there really was a Jesus, why didn't anyone write about him until 15 to 20 years after he died? If 500 people had witnessed him walking around after he'd been executed, wouldn't somebody have written something about it right after it happened?
AMbomb

1 Thessalonians 50 AD

Postby jcr4runner » Sun Jun 11, 2006 4:30 pm

1 Thessalonians is the earliest of Paul's letters written about 50 A.D.

The letters of Paul are easy to date because we have the order of Paul's journeys recorded in Acts and the historical events surrounding them. It's possible to synchronize the dates of the letters to the three missionary journeys of Paul within a year or two after his visits.

The Gospels are harder to date. Liberals used to try to put all the Gospels in the mid second century. But then the Rylands fragment was discovered, which some think is from the late first cetnury or at the latest the early second century. Although it is just a scrap of papaer, it shows that the Gospel of John existed far earlier than liberals suppose.

It's impossible to say that the Gospels were not written earlier than the dates I've given below. We can know for a fact that the second century dates are wrong. Some have hypothesized a "Q" Gospel that existed prior to Mark. I don't accept this idea, because it is unprovable. The Jews had a thriving oral tradition, so it is more likely that the "Gospel" was a spoken eyewitness account of Jesus' Apostles for many years prior to it being written. But most Old Testament books were like that and even more so.

So let's say that John was the last Gospel written -- about 90 A.D. -- that would be the latest date. In order for the Rylands fragment to have existed in the early second century, the Gospel of John would had to have circulated for a few decades.

There are also several late first century documents that quote extensively from the New Testament, such as the Didache. While these are not closer to the fact, they show that the New Testament had proliferated many years prior to the dates proposed by those who tried to put them in the second century.

Let's face it, if you don't accept the existence of Jesus from the testimony of these documents, then you would have to doubt the existence of most figures from ancient times.

Most ancient figures have no extant texts for at least several centuries after their deaths.

In the Rylands fragment we have an existing text that is closer to Jesus than any other person from this time period.
jcr4runner

Re: Think critically.

Postby jcr4runner » Sun Jun 11, 2006 4:42 pm

The word "mystery" appears twenty eight times in the New Testament. The Greek word "musterion," translated "mystery" did not mean something that is obscure or incomprehensible; rather it meant a truth given and revealed only to a select few that was unknown until it was revealed.

Now the Gnostics also taught that there are special secrets that God only gives to a select few. Only those initiated into the group learned the secrets and after initiation the mystery was revealed. But the difference in the Christian conception of the word is that these are mysteries made known to the whole world.

"Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith" (Romans 16:25-26).

The chief use of the word "mysteries" in the New Testament was by Paul. He used the term "mystery" to refer to some operation or plan of God that had not hitherto been revealed. It is never used to carry the idea of a secret to be withheld, but of one to be published in time.

For example look at 1 Thess. 4:13-18 which reveals the coming resurrection of the Body of Christ. It reveals to us the basic event, but not all the details.

Paul says, "by the Scriptures ... the mystery is made known to all nations."

The biblical idea of a "mystery" is something made known to all nations! A mystery is any truth that God has revealed for all to understand. This is the exact opposite of Gnosticism which teaches "secret knowledge" made known only to a few.

In fact, you will find that every time the word "mystery" is used in the New Testament, the writer is speaking of a mystery revealed.

See this article for more:

http://www.bible-truth.org/myst-intro.htm
jcr4runner

Re: 1 Thessalonians 50 AD

Postby AMbomb » Sun Jun 11, 2006 8:31 pm

Most ancient figures weren't supposedly seen walking around after they'd been executed! One would think that that would be a sufficiently out of the ordinary occurrence to prompt somebody to write about it right away. :lol:
AMbomb

Re: Think critically.

Postby AMbomb » Sun Jun 11, 2006 8:40 pm

Steward of the Mysteries of God was the technical name for a priest in the mysteries of Serapis. And what about the favorable language in which the gnostics wrote of him? What about his claim to have ascended to the third heaven? The gnostics believed in 7 heavens. How many do you believe in?
AMbomb

Assuming God

Postby revrosado » Mon Jun 19, 2006 1:22 am

Assume means literally to take up to heaven.
 
You are using assume as in suppose, or "supposing God".

You are PRE-suming that God does not exist.

Presume means to declare something BEFORE or WITHOUT considering ALL the available factors.

I rather summate God. I gather from all available data, science, and reasonable elements that God does indeed exist.

The difference is that I see a photograph and summate there to be a photographer. You see a photograph and you believe it to be reality.

This question is the selfsame issue being debated right now among the leading physicists, cosmologists, et al.

If my communication is difficult for you than how can you await God to show himself to you - if He did, would you comprehend His manifestation? You cannot see beyond the veil. You say you want evidence. How can you want evidence of God? Evidence is to bring to one's sight - e - video. God is Spirit. He is not a physical entity. Physical things are subject to the laws of thermodynamics - hence change and time. God is eternal. He is outside our reality. You cannot e-video anything about God. God is beyond your basic standard of proof.

God must be reasoned! And for this reasoning one must possess vast knowledge of many areas of science and mathematics. That is as close you can ever get to e-video of God. Your proof is available but unfortunately you are ill-equipped to summate as yet.

If my words are too difficult to understand - then forget about seeking evidence of God - you need to have faith. You do not qualify to reason God - so have faith! If you lack faith then one is hardly tracking in spiritual IQ meter.

You assume you can comprehend the evidence of God if it were.
revrosado

Re: Assuming God

Postby AMbomb » Tue Jun 20, 2006 11:31 am

This message is on the wrong thread. It has nothing to do with whether or not Jesus existed.
AMbomb

Wrong Thread

Postby revrosado » Wed Jun 28, 2006 7:55 am

The question of the Historicity of Jesus has long been established - both in this thread and on this planet.

It only continues in the light of ignorance of the saliency of Jesus Christ.

The bottom line is this: We shall all come before Jesus on that final day and final hour - then you shall have your history lesson and all the other lessons in one standing.

You play poker?

Re: Wrong Thread

Postby AMbomb » Wed Jun 28, 2006 11:50 am

Simply stating your conclusions without any facts to back them up is not a convincing argument. It's been a while, but I have played poker.
AMbomb

[An extremely lengthy post by godshoulddie from 2009 pasting in numerous materials from Jesus mythists is here deleted. What follows are two of the rebuttals. - JCR]

Re: Did contemporary historians mention Jesus?

Postby godshoulddie » Wed Aug 12, 2009 1:33 pm

Well, I can’t say I’m shocked. Disappointed but not shocked.

So, let’s deal with what is the entirety of your argument.

Argument from authority or appeal to authority is a logical fallacy, where it is argued that a statement is correct because the statement is made by a person or source that is commonly regarded as authoritative. The most general structure of this argument is:

Source A says that p.
Source A is authoritative.
Therefore, p is true.

On the other hand, arguments from authority are an important part of informal logic. Since we cannot have expert knowledge of many subjects, we often rely on the judgments of those who do. There is no fallacy involved in simply arguing that the assertion made by an authority is true, the fallacy only arises when it is claimed or implied that the authority is infallible in principle and can hence be exempted from criticism.

It is true that NEITHER you nor I have a Ph.D. in philosophy, theology, logic or so on so BOTH of us must, therefore, make reference to outside authorities when making argument. The fallacy comes when one person attempts to say that ONLY his authority is acceptable as an authority in a given field and is therefore “infallible in principle” as the fallacy states.

Regarding Tacitus. NO scholar has ever rejected it as a forgery? NOT ONE? Authors such as James Still who states:

Tacitus was an imperial writer, and no imperial document would ever refer to Jesus as "Christ." Also, Pilate was not a "procurator" but a prefect, which Tacitus would have known.

WJ Ross who in his work Tacitus and Bracciolini makes the argument that the entire Annals themselves were forged in the fifteenth century? NOT ONE scholar has EVER questioned the authenticity of the Tacitean passage regarding Nero. I further showed, with references the following:

The varying historical accounts of the event come from three secondary sources — Cassius Dio, Suetonius and Tacitus. The primary accounts, which possibly included histories written by Fabius Rusticus, Cluvius Rufus and Pliny the Elder, did not survive. These primary accounts are described as contradictory and gross exaggerations. At least five separate stories circulated regarding Nero and fire:

Motivated by a desire to destroy the city, Nero secretly sent out men pretending to be drunk to set fire to the city. Nero watched from his palace on the Palatine Hill singing and playing the lyre.

Motivated by an insane whim, Nero quite openly sent out men to set fire to the city. Nero watched from the Tower of Maecenas on the Esquiline Hill singing and playing the lyre.

Nero sent out men to set fire to the city. Nero sang and played his lyre from a private stage.

The fire was an accident. Nero was in Antium.

The fire was caused by Christians.

It is, however, to be noted that one of the near contemporary sources, Suetonius (who was born shortly after the fire and may have seen the reconstruction during his childhood) specifically excludes any persecution, quite apart from anything on the scale suggested by Tacitus, and went so far as to say that Nero never tried to trace the perpetrators and gave instructions that the members of the only list presented to the Senate were to be let off lightly. But NO SCHOLAR has EVER questioned this passage? See the authority fallacy.

Then you refer back to Feldman again regarding Suetonius to try to tell me that “it is universally accepted.” See the authority fallacy again. I guess, though, it really was too simple to point out that Claudius reigned from 41-54 CE and Jesus supposed death occurred around 30 CE and that NO text, not even your holy book, places Jesus in Rome EVER. No, instead, Feldman proclaims it “universally accepted,” so it must be so. See authority fallacy.

Then back to the TF and James references. Once again I show at least half a dozen scholars who disagree with the TF, even the entire dissertation regarding the language of the passage. But, sorry, Feldman says … see authority fallacy. I show that the ENTIRE Catholic Church rejects James as Jesus brother, but, Feldman says … see authority fallacy.

Having taken your and Holding's measure on YouTube and other forums I wasn’t really expecting much, but this really made me laugh. Feel free to respond, I won’t be coming back.

Toodles.
godshoulddie

Re: Did contemporary historians mention Jesus?

Postby jcr4runner » Tue Aug 18, 2009 9:51 am

godshoulddie wrote: Regarding Tacitus. No scholar has ever rejected it as a forgery? NOT ONE? Authors such as James Still who states: Tacitus was an imperial writer, and no imperial document would ever refer to Jesus as "Christ." Also, Pilate was not a "procurator" but a prefect, which Tacitus would have known. WJ Ross who in his work Tacitus and Bracciolini makes the argument that the entire Annals themselves were forged in the fifteenth century? NOT ONE scholar has EVER questioned the authenticity of the Tacitean passage regarding Nero. Then you refer back to Feldman again regarding Suetonius to try to tell me that “it is universally accepted”. See the authority fallacy again.
This is typical postmodernist hogwash. A few rules of logic ought to be laid down here.

The authority fallacy deals with whenever the truth or falsity of the claim is not related to the expertise of the claimant. For example:

"You should never spank a child because it can lead to self-esteem problems later in life," as quoted in "Child Rearing" by Britney Spears.

"The Hubble Space Telescope has told us more about the universe in just 20 years than we have learned from land telesopes in the past 200 years," says a prominent NASA scientist.

Both are appeals to authority, but only the second one is valid. Likewise, Dr. Feldman, being the world's leading authority on Josephus, is qualified to tell us exactly how many Josephus scholars view the Jesus material as having core authenticity. Feldman correctly tells us that a robust 75 percent view it as partially authentic, mostly authentic or totally authentic. For a time, you were claiming this was not Feldman's view, but now you cut and run (you are the Anti-Schwarzenegger: "I WON'T be back!") Citing Feldman's view is admitting defeat on this point.

Instead your new tactic is redefine what is meant by "appeal to authority fallacy" and "scholar" and then abandon the discussion saying you are "disappointed." This is, in fact, a usual tactic of postmodernists when confronted with facts buttressed by citations of authoritative scholarship.

And that brings me to my second point. A "scholar" is a person who has achieved a level of academic expertise in the form of a doctorate and has shown his work through research, publishing, or teaching his subject area at a reputable university or college. For an "expert" to be qualified to comment, he must show scholarship in his area of commentary. For instance, a German language scholar is not necessarily qualified to comment on first century Roman history. However, a New Testament scholar who has done work in history, culture and archaeology might be.

One area where I misspoke of is the phrase, "No scholar who is (present tense) has ever claimed (past participle)" -- this gives the impression that I am speaking of the past tense. Of course, I meant presently. I agree that the late 19th and 20th century was an era of the "New Criticism" of literature in which all sorts of speculations not bound by the study of historical background were proposed. This was the only time in history when the Jesus-as-myth hypothesis was examined by scholars. But the telling point is that it was universally rejected and is held by only two or possibly three scholars in the whole world today.

So I must retract "has ever" and restate my claim: No scholar claims that Tacitus' references to Christ and Christianity is forged. A scholar is one with expertise in a subject or field whose works are recognized by contemporary peers as having credible weight.

You cite James Still and WJ Ross. Let's examine their credentials.

James Still is the president emeritus of Internet Infidels.

Response: Still's qualifications to comment on Tacitus are nowhere to be found. True, he is a "writer," meaning he can string together reasonably coherent prose on blogs. He's not a scholar and hasn't published anything of note. His qualifications in his own words:
I am a software developer and architect for Multnomah County, Oregon. In my spare time I blog for the Secular Web, maintain the kiosk and bookstore for infidels.org, practice yoga, and get out on my road bike at every opportunity.
So he is not a Tacitus scholar. Enough said on this. However, if I want to know something about architectural software or road bikes, this is the go-to-guy.

WJ Ross, a Latin scholar, claimed in 1878 that since entire work of Tacitus known as Annals was unknown until the 15th century when it was discovered by Poggio Bracciolini, that Bracciolini himself must have forged the Annals in its entirety. Ross noted that (he thought) some of Bracciolini's phrases were similar in style to Tacitus. This is known as form criticism.

Response: First, this work is over 130 years old. Scholars who specialize in Roman history today do not acknowledge Ross' thesis. There are a number of reasons why this thesis is false at face value. Tacitus gives us information about first century Rome that cannot be found elsewhere. Since modern archaeology has validated many of Tacitus' records, and since these are findings that a 15th century Italian could not have known, modern scholars universally accept Tacitus as a credible and valuable source of history. Second, scholars use expressions like “feeble attempts” and “pure speculation” to describe such writings that have no contemporary validity. There were many Latin and Greek works that were rediscovered at the time of the Italian Renassaince. There is no evidence that this particular work was forged in part or entirely.

Of course, there are many "writers" today who question the authenticity of Tacitus' references to Nero's scapegoats, the Christians. However, it's telling that none of them are scholars. Among scholars who are qualified to offer their expert opinion, there are none alive today who question this passage.

Comments

Your comments are welcome!

While I don’t question the physical existence of a man called Jesus who thought he was god and was crucified for it. I have a hard time believing that he really was god due to the fact that Christians recognize the Old Testament as Having Devine influence despite the constant contradictions, for example “ Eye for an eye tooth for a tooth” to “ turn the other cheek”. Accepting this is admitting that an all knowing benevolent being went through a hormonal period in which he slaughtered almost every person on the planet ( couldn’t think of a better solution?) accept one man who some how managed to collect all of the animals on the planet and enough food to feed them all. You seem like smart people. Why believe in something so far fetched. Excuse my grammar, it’s been a while.

Posted by Kyle on 08/13/2014 10:16 AM #

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Defeating Child Sacrifice and the Culture of Death

is a 195-minute presentation that traces the biblical roots of child sacrifice and then delves into the social, political and cultural fall-out that this sin against God has produced. You can order this series on DVD, read the complete script and view clips on-line...
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