M&M (Muscles and mayhem)
Throw down Thursday Versus bdrex...

bdrex: Jesus did not fulfill the most important prophecy. Isaiah and every other Jewish prophet predicted a messiah, an inspired man. Defining Jesus as a god, or The God was completely alien to Jews.

If you want to credit the Jews with predicting Jesus you must also acknowledge they were completely and utterly wrong about the most important part of the predictions, for they expected a man.

But because they were so accurate with all, the 300 plus, predictions maybe they were correct after all, and Paul was wrong.

The 300 prophecies is simple the mythmakers simply used the old testament to create their books. Easy peasy.

OSC: Thanks for getting in touch, Rex. I don’t think however that first century Jewish expectations can upend the kinds of prophesy that Jesus fulfilled. For example, Jesus was man, that’s classical Christian theology, so if we were to insist how the messiah has to be a man, Jesus certainly fulfilled that. They expected a man and as expected they received a man. Remember they also expected God to visit His temple and were hoping on a messianic visit during a certain time period (which again Jesus fulfilled.)

 

I believe defining Jesus as "a god" is unchristian and more suited to the cult of Jehovah’s witnesses than historic Christianity. Jesus is God, Alpha and Omega, Beginning and Ending. Your claim about writers cheating us on the history is dislodged however, it’s dislodged if we have prophecies which are both historically provable and beyond the control of either Christ or the writers of the New Testament. All we need now is the criteria by which we judge and some historic material to compare with our earlier prophecy.

 

God bless.

bdrex: I’m confused, are you saying jesus was only a man or supporting a trinitarian view? And where, biblically, is it said the Jews expected God to visit the temple? Historically provable? Okay, prove it. I apologise for my bluntness, I’m very sceptical. I’ve read the supposed proofs and I really don’t think the Jesus of scripture ever existed.

 

When I read Josephus I was bored silly, ben this ben that (son of) and then came the Jesus proclamation. Even I could recognize the complete change in writing style. And early Christians often argued with pagans and they quoted Josephus at times but never did the early christians quote the affirmation statement in Josephus now. Because it wasn’t there.

OSC:  I’m sharing classical Christian theology, Rex. So, God being Triune, Christ as incarnate deity, everything that’s common to the majority of denominations. It being the standard Christian answer for many many centuries should keep confusion to a minimum. Classically it’s explained how Jesus is truly man and truly God. For which Jesus could teach things like He’s Alpha & Omega. This would mean your initial criticism wasn’t accurate.

 

Jewish expectations varied wildly and shouldn’t be confused for scriptural prophecy. Ideas like two messiahs and others were sometimes in total contradiction with one another, due to which these expectations can’t be used by people to restrain God’s behaviour in history. Scriptural prophecy versus cultural expectation informed by scripture (often falsely informed) ought to be distinguished.

Malachi chapters two & three would be an answer to your question on whether Jewish believers had an expectation of God making an appearance (specifically an appearance in the temple.) Beginning in verse seventeen:

 

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You have wearied the Lord with your words. “How have we wearied him?” you ask.

 

By saying, “All who do evil are good in the eyes of the Lord, and he is pleased with them” or “Where is the God of justice?”

 

I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,” says the Lord Almighty.

 

But who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears? For he will be like a refiner’s fire or a launderer’s soap. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. Then the Lord will have men who will bring offerings in righteousness, and the offerings of Judah and Jerusalem will be acceptable to the Lord, as in days gone by, as in former years.

 

So I will come to put you on trial. I will be quick to testify against sorcerers, adulterers and perjurers, against those who defraud laborers of their wages, who oppress the widows and the fatherless, and deprive the foreigners among you of justice, but do not fear me,” says the Lord Almighty.

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By proving something historically I didn’t mean to refer to glibly proof texting historians outside of the Bible, for which critics of Josephus can enjoy an early Sabbath. Rather historically provable means just that, proven to the satisfaction of the historians by the discipline of the historians.

 

Historically people used criteria so to judge whether any given event recorded truly happened. Some benchmarks would be dissimilarity, congruence, early attestation, embarrassment, not to forget traces of first century Palestinian Milieu (with regards to the biblical material).

Events like Jesus’ baptism, His being murdered by crucifixion and His inability to do miracles upon returning home are considered serious historical events proven to the satisfaction of historians. Yet that’s also applicable to the subject of biblical prophecy.

 

Jesus being buried “in a rich man’s tomb” for example (Isaiah 53), that’s not something just believed based upon blind faith, instead because Christ being honourably buried by the hand of a member of the hated Sanhedrin was so anathema to the readers historians consider it not serving (even contradicting) the early evangelists’ purposes.

Just so long as people can date prophecy as having been made before Jesus lived, in addition to confirming events historically, I’m of the opinion that believers can comfortably affirm Jewish prophecy of Jesus as Christ.

Finally, wouldn’t you agree it’s logically invalid arguing from silence in an attempt at denying some quotation from Josephus was written by their own hand/written at some certain time? People not quoting you doesn’t mean you haven’t been writing in 2018.

 

Similarly something being edited doesn’t mean any quotation’s been composed wholesale. Josephus also composed clearly unedited material on the subject of the stoning of Jesus’ brother James and the baptiser John. Nevertheless, it’s not related to my earlier message. Just some thoughts which are shared by our less polemical friends in scholarship.

Sending my best wishes.

bdrex:

 

Finally, wouldn’t you agree it’s logically invalid arguing from silence in an attempt at denying some quotation from Josephus was written by their own hand/written at some certain time?

 

Many people were denying the existence of Jesus and Christians argued with them. Josephus was the preeminent historian of 1st century. The best evidence outside the Biblical books was Josephus if the quote existed. Martyrs, including Justin Martyr, would surely have quoted josephus.

Look at your own post you quote old testament prophecy to validate your point. If a prophecy said his name will be Jesus and he will die for sins of the people on a cross, would you not have quoted it?

OSC:  I’d appreciate sources on the supposed early persons and groups who denied Jesus’ very existence. The earliest listed proponents of the Jesus myth theory are Thomas Paine (1737-1809), Charles François Dupuis (1742–1809), Constantin-François Volney (1757–1820). With the most famous modern advocate of the viewpoint in the popular sphere being Richard Carrier.

The most obvious issue which myself and mainstream scholarship have with your question is that it’s an exercise in psychology upon people who’ve been dead for around nineteen hundred years. Variables ranging from the disintegration of treaties scribed upon perishable papyri to the personal (private) thought life of an author would render an argument from silence, arguments which are already universally panned as weak, thoroughly useless.

“Myth making” isn’t an appropriate accusation against people who have simply recorded an assortment of events (many of which are historically verifiable events), whereas the charge is totally warranted against persons who’re judging what ought to be private intentions and have composed further thou shalt behaviours for the ancients. You can appreciate how that’s an awfully fanciful style by which to judge the history of people. “If I’d done it” is an O. J. Simpson cash grab, not a scholastic method.

When you share how “the best evidence for Jesus outside of the Biblical books was Josephus”, I do appreciate how that’s your perspective, however using Josephus’ material would be an argument in the first and second centuries for? Certainly not for the existence of Jesus as I haven’t found anybody arguing against Him being historic. Afterwards you’ve shared how:

 

If a prophecy said his name will be Jesus and he will die for sins of the people on a cross, would you not have quoted it?

 

My problem with your above point is that it’s an inaccurate description of the writings of Josephus. Roman histories which could only be written in retrospect can’t be categorised as prophetic, furthermore if we were to mistakenly believe they’re prophetic in nature, prophecy isn’t a particularly good argument for making known the historicity of any given person (an objection I’ve yet to find being made in the literature).

In reply I’ve used my Bible because you requested very specific information. Remember you wanted “biblical” evidence for Jewish expectations, and having the very info you wanted I’ve shared. So I’ve quoted OT prophecy not merely for the sake of validating my point, although that’s certainly happened.

 

Jewish believers had an expectation of God visiting “His temple”, obviously it’s an inappropriate idea describing the second temple as belonging to a merely human Messiah/some other prophets, in addition to the continued theme of God being as refining fire (meaning chapters two and three can be about none other).

Jesus came when prophecy demanded He come, preformed signs, wonders and knew God “face to face” as scripture exclaimed messiah would, He visited His temple, and died how prophets prophesied He would die, rising again upon the third day in accordance with the scriptures. That’s extraordinary, Rex.

Sending you blessings my friend.

bdrex: One of the first proponents of a triune christ was Irenaeus (against heresies). He attacks the gnostics who proclaim to be cosmic Christ followers and reject the worldly Jesus as myth, a representation. The gnostics were widespread and numerous. Even Paul acknowledges this. I think since my source is Paul i am on firm ground. Irenaeus says the gnostics are but one group denying jesus, existence. Irenaeus was writing about 150ad, long before thomas Paine. Here is 1 quote in Heresies:

 

He has also laid it down as a truth, that the Saviour was without birth, without body, and without figure, but was, by supposition, a visible man; and he maintained that the God of the Jews was one of the angels; and, on this account, because all the powers wished to ….

 

Check out my Good Reads section at my site and you will see what I read and where my info comes from.

Jurassic jerks...

 

OSC: Denying the mode which Jesus took upon His appearances isn’t to be confused with the position of modern Jesus mythicists. Conflating the two is deep equivocation. Mythicists argue Jesus’ entire ministry, miracles & existence are literary devices used to spread Christian beliefs. Gnostics (rather their beliefs as described by non gnostic polemics) weren’t arguing for the inexistence of Jesus. Their entire argument (an argument they didn’t appear to have argued consistently) was to insist Jesus, having came already, hadn’t come bodily. Remember from 1 John 4: 2 “This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God,”

 

Gnostic beliefs argued that Jesus came (albeit not in the flesh). Manipulating arguments against certain degrees of bodily incarnation into supposed arguments about non-existence isn’t appropriate. Gnostic believers weren’t Jesus mythers and Jesus mythers aren’t gnostic.

Unfortunately the beliefs of thoroughly esoteric groups such as the gnostics aren’t available. Even your own example had to be drawn from an enemy polemic composed for the express purpose of discrediting their faith. Using hostile sources in an attempt at discovering the original views of any particular group isn’t comfortable scholarship. Albeit everything that’s made it to us discredits these theories and the equivocation whereby they’ve been framed.

Wouldn’t your own argument, an argument from silence to do with competing versions of Josephus’ quote, become totally useless just as long as people have gnostic beliefs as their focus. Against heresies explained appearances of the miraculous accompanied Jesus’ ministry according to the gnostic perspective:

 

But the father without birth and without name, perceiving that they would be destroyed, sent his own first-begotten Nous (he it is who is called Christ) to bestow deliverance on them that believe in him, from the power of those who made the world. He appeared, then, on earth as a man, to the nations of these powers, and wrought miracles.

 

How would Christians quoting from Josephus upend gnostic views which already presupposed a very real Jesus having transfigured into various forms (real honest to goodness forms). How does the argument function. Not only would your argument be an exercise in psychology upon people who’ve expired around nineteen hundred years ago, and not only would your argument be from silence, it’s also grounded in using a polemical source as if it were a faithful interpretation of the original view (in addition to being ineffective if articulated accurately).

Writing “Aha, gnostics! Josephus wrote about Jesus!” wouldn’t have dislodged or even gone so far as to discomfort their views, as they already believed that Jesus had transfigured in various forms (as explained in the material you’ve already shared):

 

Wherefore he [Jesus] did not himself suffer death, but Simon, a certain man of Cyrene, being compelled, bore the cross in his stead; so that this latter being transfigured by him, that he might be thought to be Jesus, was crucified, through ignorance and error, while Jesus himself received the form of Simon, and, standing by, laughed at them.

 

Believing not only that Jesus exists, but that he transfigured himself into Simon (and/or “received” Simon) is a far cry from Jesus deniers. Conflating and equivocating can’t make their deeply esoteric views into something they clearly aren’t. In short, to deny the mode is not to deny the reality.

Do nonexistent persons “appear”, “stand by”, “laugh” and be “transfigured” into others? Obviously they don’t. The polemical work Against heresies continued not by shedding greater light but by the sword of lopping off a few gnostic heads (owing to their own internal inconsistencies):

 

Those, then, who know these things have been freed from the principalities who formed the world; so that it is not incumbent on us to confess him who was crucified, but him who came in the form of a man, and was thought to be crucified, and was called Jesus, and was sent by the father, that by this dispensation he might destroy the works of the makers of the world.

 

The writer ends by describing an actual gnostic argument, and where various writers have cherry picked to bolster their own mythistist status:

 

Salvation belongs to the soul alone [there’s no salvation of the body], for the body is by nature subject to corruption.

 

That’s gnostic argument if ever it’s survived! An argument against human bodies and materialism as evil shouldn’t be framed as denying Jesus (that’s dishonest). Nonetheless against heresies itself shares how esoteric and fluid supposed gnostic viewpoints really were:

 

They declare that they are no longer Jews, and that they are not yet Christians; and that it is not at all fitting to speak openly of their mysteries, but right to keep them secret by preserving silence.

 

Now, when you shared “Paul acknowledges” your perspective, due to which you’re upon “firm ground”, firm in what sense of the word? Since you have already accused Paul and other early New Testament writers of being “mythmakers.” Myth makers aren’t reliable. Again you’re sharing “Irenaeus says the gnostics are but one group denying jesus, existence”, however because you have confused debate over mode as denial of reality (in addition to the mystery groups not being specified in the above polemic) you’re arguing from zero. Zero ancient groups and zero ancient sources have questioned Jesus’ existence.

As ever I’ve enjoyed writing and interacting with this material. Looking forward to a reply.

 

OSC: Briefly closing (as I’ve found some free time for our fruitful discussion), Irenaeus explained how gnostics had to be refuted not for denying that Jesus exists, but for denying the form of God, His substance (which is an attack upon both the plan of salvation & Jesus Christ as God). This is where the real debate can be found if anywhere:

 

Thus, then, have all these men been exposed, who bring in impious doctrines regarding our Maker and Framer, who also formed this world, and above whom there is no other God; and those have been overthrown by their own arguments who teach falsehoods regarding the substance of our Lord, and the dispensation which He fulfilled for the sake of His own creature man.

bdrex: I guess I should be more careful. When I said worldly jesus didn’t exist, I meant bodily. The gnostics thought Jesus was spirit you are correct. We do have a better idea of what they believe with the nag hammadi writings. I would propose being of spirit alone is a denial of existence. Jesus could not have died on the cross, been beaten, where a crown of thorns without a body.

Again I should be careful when I say things. I do not believe the Jesus of scripture existed. Josephus comments on a Jesus. The following citation about a Jesus was in my opinion the Jesus Gospel writers are referring to.

 

So Jesus the son of Sapphias, one of those whom we have already mentioned as the leader of a seditious tumult of mariners and poor people, prevented us, and took with him certain Galileans, and set the entire palace on fire, and thought he should get a great deal of money thereby, because he saw some of the roofs gilt with gold.

 

This Jesus resembles the Jesus in the temple, attacking money changers. He travels with fisherman from galilee and poor people, or is it “Ebonites”. I’m sure you know ebonite means poor. Is accused of sedition. This Jesus wanted the gold from the temple priests used for the poor.

I think Paul viewed Jesus as the gnostics did. The gospel of Judas is mostly ridiculous but it portrays jesus with a temperament similar to Jesus son of sapphias. John the baptist and James the just were the peaceful leaders of the movement portrayed in the gospels.

I cite paul as evidence because he is without reproach to you. To make a good argument you must use evidence that resonates with your opponent.

I looked up this denial from silence you mention. When I argued that people would have cited Josephus if the affirmation of Jesus existed, I was forming my own ideas. You are correct again, that alone doesn’t prove he didn’t exist it is merely evidence that Josephus was likely edited with an interpolation.

 

Thanks for the stimulating banter. Oh I read your entire response and am thinking about parts I didn’t comment on.

OSC: You’re welcome, Rex. I’m enjoying our discussion immensely. Although hasn’t our conversation brought everyone right back to your earlier point. Your original message was an attempt at discrediting New Testament prophecy as false and the earliest portraits of Jesus as invention. However robust historic methodology dislodged your criticism almost instantly after having been shared.

“I would propose being of spirit alone is a denial of existence”, and that’s your prerogative. However gnostics don’t appear to have shared your materialistic presupposition (in fact they supposedly hated matter). Making historic groups who didn’t share your assumed ideas on the nature of existence argue from your assumptions is logically fallacious. Consider this logical syllogism for an example:

Premise 1. I [Rex] believe without a body someone doesn’t exist.

Premise 2. Christians don’t believe Satan has a body.

Conclusion = Therefore Christians argue that Satan doesn’t exist.

I’m sure you’d agree that’s tragically misguided reasoning. For a person to impose their own materialistic assumptions and beliefs to do with the nature of existence on the supernaturalists isn’t appropriate. Having gone even further (inserting those materialistic conclusions into the minds of these ancient believers) can’t be done without erasing the believing person’s real beliefs. We’ve got to be careful to avoid doing things like that.

Having waded through the dross this idea that Jesus didn’t exist, which was seemingly imposed upon the gnostics, is immaterial to your actual views, since apparently you’re of the opinion Jesus existed.

As I’ve already explained, just so long as nobody’s able to provide an ancient source which argued for the nonexistence of Jesus, we are freed up for pursuing an actual Jesus of history. The same Jesus who our greatest instruments of validating historicity teach was baptised, crucified, buried in a rich man’s tomb & found missing by a group of His female followers.

So, now Jesus exists, however based upon two sources (one you’re describing as ridiculous), he was a killer of violent temperament. Personally I’d consider the use of a third or forth century document like the gospel of Judas very wishful, especially so if the same scholar who used the source didn’t respect the authority of the far earlier Pauline epistles.

Thus far you’ve dismissed the classical Jesus as peace maker for a fringe violent Jesus because of two quotations and a lone figured described by Josephus (doing so for the reasons that follow):

1. They share names

2. They’re both charged with attacking people

3. They each travelled from Galilee

4. They’re both associated with fishermen

5. They have each been charged with sedition

Regarding part one. Nearly 20% of the male population of the Jewish people had one of two popular names (Simone & Joseph). 40% of the female population had one of two popular names. The commonality in naming practises was part of why people were identified as “son of” or “of Nazareth”, or even by their profession. Each being used as clarifiers. Jesus Ben Sapphias isn’t Jesus Ben Joseph. Furthermore. . .

* Josephus (born 37AD) wrote as if Jesus Ben Sapphias was his contemporary. Whereas traditions concerning Jesus Christ have predated these dates. Jesus Ben Sapphias is even described as “plundering furniture,” which Josephus charges himself with retrieving (none of these events being contemporaneous with Jesus Christ).

* Josephus described Jesus Ben Sapphias as “governor of Tiberias.” In addition to being a high priest and general appointed by Ananus. Whereas Jesus Christ, who clearly predated these men and events according to the material we do have, has been identified as a carpenter and the son of a carpenter.

* Galilee (as every good student of Josephus knows) produced “the most notorious leaders of the Jewish fight against Rome.” In addition to being where “children were trained for war.” It’s no surprise violent men came from this location.

* Ben Sapphias is described as a precursor to the Jewish Roman war of 66-73AD (Christianity was a full blown movement of people by this point in history).

* Every available ancient qualifier indicates they’re different people (only leaving behind highly superficial similarities).

Any scholar who insisted upon propounding these ideas would be indulging in an extremely selective reading of the available material. Now, I’m not sure where this idea came from that Jesus “attacked” anybody in the temple cleansing material (wishful thinking on the part of many unbelievers perhaps). Read through the relevant early material:

 

When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple courts he found people selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money.

So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle;

 

City slickers may never have seen a man mush animals before, although for the rest of us, we’ve seen how they’ll use a stick of cane or leaves bound together or some kind of improvised device. The writer of the above material described how Jesus bound cords, many have supposed of a kind of popular plant, then the author juxtaposed this fact to the driving out of the cattle. . .

 

he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. To those who sold doves he said, Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a merchandise.

 

So the animals are driven from the temple by a light smack probably, whereas Jesus in the immediate context overturns the tables of the money chargers and demands that they leave. The law might be able to bemoan some kind of property damage, but to describe Jesus “attacking” people shows a disinterest in what the sources really say. It’s also another exercise in selective reading. Presupposing (and misreading) the reality of the temple event while ignoring the remainder of the author’s peaceful portrait isn’t the actions of a serious historian.

Of course God coming to His temple was predicted long ago.

So, you’ve been taught Paul was a gnostic. That’s simply not true. Consider your own messages, after which I’d like to share some teachings of Paul which are clearly against what’s come down to us as gnosticism. . .

Quotation 1: “The gnostics were widespread and numerous. Even Paul acknowledges this. I think since my source is Paul i am on firm ground.”

Quotation 2: “I think Paul viewed Jesus as the gnostics did.”

How could Paul both note in print how the gnostics are everywhere, whilst at the same time not aligning himself with their camp (he identified with the Christians)? You insist he was a gnostic after all. If the gnostics really were “widepread and numerous” it’s a peculiar thing to think Paul wouldn’t identify with them.

Thankfully we don’t have to play at mind reading to know the teachings of Paul, and they’re not gnostic in any way, shape or form.

* 1 Corinthians 15:1-58. .

 

Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.

 

^^^^ Jesus didn’t die in Gnosticism nor are gnostic believers “saved by” the sacrificial death of Christ. Rather they’re saved by gnosis (secret knowledge). . .

* 1 Cor 13:2. . .

 

And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all gnosis, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.

 

* 1 Corinthians 13:8. . .

 

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is gnosis, it will pass away.

 

Paul wasn’t saved by gnosis, largely because he wasn’t a gnostic. Obviously it’s better not to equivocate over how uses of the word gnosis could varied, nevertheless, the preferential position of love and the clear-cut salvation only found in Jesus comes into focus for an honest reading of Paul. In chapter two of Acts Paul explained Jesus’ bodily return from the dead and the fact that He most certainly was crucified. . .

 

Fellow Israelites, I can tell you confidently that the patriarch David died and was buried, and his tomb is here to this day. But he was a prophet and knew that God had promised him on oath that he would place one of his descendants on his throne. Seeing what was to come, he spoke of the resurrection of the Messiah, that he was not abandoned to the realm of the dead, nor did his body see decay. God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of it.

 

Paul continued: “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.” Remember your own post, “Jesus could not have died on the cross, been beaten, where a crown of thorns without a body.” Amen, Amen all day long. Jesus couldn’t be slain in His body without a body, He couldn’t be crucified without a body, and Paul writes Jesus was crucified.

 

Luke’s beliefs are selfsame Paul’s (they were travelling companions), for which simply reading the gospel of Luke should be enough proof of what Paul believed. In short, Paul wasn’t a gnostic.

 

As a word of encouragement Rex. These theories in the books you’re kindly sharing aren’t sceptical theories, they’re not respected pieces of literature, they’re historic fiction.

madblog: Just a quick list of very accessible resources for an average interested person: Reasonable Faith- William Lane Craig, Why I Am a Christian ed. by Geisler and Hoffman, the Case for Christ/The Case for Faith by Strobel, why I Am a Christian by Stott, Mere Christianity by Lewis. The problems you mention as insurmountable are addressed easily and disposed of. No competent secular historian will tell you that Jesus of Nazareth did not exist, nor that he did not do most of the things attributed to him.

 

bdrex: I’ve read Strobel and c.s. Lewis. When I started digging in I really dug in. I started collecting books and had a library of about 6000. Since a book can’t prove itself you have to look elsewhere and Josephus wrote the only history book of middle east first century. There is one interpolation in his writings but it is an obvious fake.

 

All other early mentions of Jesus or christianity are merely acknowledging the religion exists. Christian apologists have had 2000 years to develop arguments for challenges. I used to own a book with answers for arguments. I went through them and found them unconvincing, easy to dispose of.

 

I can name several New testament authors who claim Jesus of scripture didn’t exist. Tom Harpur, Freke and Gandy, Eisenman, James Tabor, and Ehrman who thinks a man named Jesus existed but not as scripture claims. Best wishes, i will keep reading.

 

OSC: Yet Josephus outside of the interpolated portion (which the scholarly consensus still attributes to him) wrote about Jesus in the passage to do with His brother James. In this portion he writes about Jesus as an incidental detail, not attempting to make an argument for His existence. . .“Festus was now dead, and Albinus was but upon the road; so he assembled the sanhedrin of judges, and brought before them the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James,”

 

Considering how much you’ve written on the works of Josephus I’m not insisting you’re ignorant of the material, although you’ve already ignored my first mention of the James-Jesus passage. In retrospect, nobody ever wrote an ancient argument for the existence of Jesus, that’s in spite of writing on dietary disputes, coverings for the head, circumcision, almost everything else, and that happened because these subjects were hotly disputed. Jesus’ existence however wasn’t disputed, that’s why nobody argued on the subject.

 

I do appreciate how you’re meaning to write on “the Jesus of scripture”, although that’s just a person’s way of saying they reject the Bible. Even apostates like Bart accept how Jesus existed, albeit they reject the biblical portrait of His life and mission. Writing a book can’t authenticate itself is to ignore our internal methods of historic verification, and thankfully the New Testament isn’t a book, it’s a collection of letters and biographies and exhortations which are composed independently of one another. I like laying books atop of books atop of books in front of people to really illustrate the point. In the above video, I’m sure you can hear how wilfully disinterested “the infidel guy” is with facing up to the evidence. Catch me on a short fuse day and I’d be calling this guy a jerk in person.

 

Lastly, and everyone will forgive me for lowering the tone with this terrible unscholarly argument, but, in that epic horde of these 6000 books, did you ever pray? Did you call out to God and really ask that He’d come into your life and make Himself known in a perceivable way?

 

You can know God. No faith but faith in Christ says you can know Him personally. In the haze of debate that’s a live option, Rex. If that was never a thing for you, I’d like to ask that you think about it. Sending you well wishes on a rainy day in Great Britain. 🙂

 

OSC: That’s why I imagine Rex is insisting on denying the biblical portrait, although I’m not sure how that works. A collection of independent letters, apocalyptic books, biographies, early traditions, hymns and the like going into one binder and being called “the Bible” doesn’t take away from how they were composed independently. They’re totally separate to the historian. So aren’t they outside confirmation of one another? Of course they are.

 

Well, no, atheists say, because they’re from Christians, and Christians can’t be believed, we’ve got to dismiss their work out of hand. So, now people need a source which affirms that “Jesus is Lord” written by a non believer. It’s almost like saying I’ll accept material about you, but I won’t accept that stuff if it’s from your family, friends, neighbours, spouse, ex-boyfriends, classmates and pretty much anyone who actually believes you’re a real flesh and blood person. If you can bring me a person who rejects you AND who writes that you’re real, then I’ll accept THAT source!
 

Apparently people need to fulfil the atheist’s demands of. . .

 

A. Producing a written work from a non-believer outside of scripture.

 

And B. Having the very same account give a description of Jesus that conforms to the scriptural portrait of the Jesus of the Bible.

 

Let’s really think of what’s being asked for . . .

 

madblog: That’s why I began with mentioning the extraordinary way the Bible is called to account for itself. First, we dismiss it as evidence for itself…etc. No other ancient sourse is handled in this manner. Well said.

 

bdrex: There re scholarly and professional methods used by historians to assess items from the past. HISTORIANS. What we usually get is an argument from a philosopher, an author, a guy who used to pose as a scientist on a kid’s show, even a theologian who has a predisposition to DISprove the historical Jesus. I’m saying that by recognized historical methods, there is no respected view that Jesus did not exist, nor that he did not do most attributed to him.

 

Looking for evidence that Jesus existed, or indeed that he is the Christ, via the authors you mention is like looking for a history of the Holocaust by reading Holocaust deniers. The end of your search is predetermined. Do an honest search, and my best to you.

 

bdrex: Thanks for your responses. The very reason I began my search was described by Ehrman. When I read the Bible I saw different portraits of Jesus in the different books and letters. I have heard the theories to reconciling these differences.

 

In the book, the seven reasons you can trust the bible, the authors say the book of Mark was so poorly written, greek grammar, that they corrected it when translated. And we can trust those corrections because they used Luke and Matthew as a guide. Since I was already troubled by the portraits this news made me wonder how different Mark might have been? And wasn’t Mark supposed to be the earliest and most accurate account?

 

You mentioned Morton Smith. Yes I’ve read the Secret Mark and have a different point of view. Although some see it as having homo erotic overtones I do not. In some of the dead sea scrolls and gnostic gospels the language, shedding one’s cloak, naked, refers to eliminating ego or crassness.

 

Professional methodology? I think you recommended Strobel. He doesn’t interview christian rejecters, his methodology is flawed.
You mention that other quote by Josephus. James being a christ. How’s this for methodology. James, the brother, was the high Priest of the temple (Jewish) and he didn’t become a Christian.

 

madblog: Strobel does interview former Christians in the Case for Faith. I’m sincerely confused by your James comment.

 

bdrex: Hey madblog,. I could be wrong. I used sources that could be wrong. It appears Strobel didn’t interview any who disputed him currently.

 

Bottom line, does this story make sense to you? Rather than answer habitually, think. I did, and it is wrong. God would make sense above all else. Either that or he preprogrammed us to buy into false doctrines.

 

madblog: Not sure your meaning about Strobel. You’ll have believe me when I tell you that I do not rely on habitual thinking. I think and I have thought. Apparently I have read more deeply than you have on the matter. It is the Bible that exhorted me to “test ALL things, hold on to what is good.” And also: “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.”

 

God makes more sense than any possible reality that human beings can invent. Personally, intellectually, scientifically, philosophically, and through any other human discipline. You ought to be honest with yourself and read reliable accounts of the faith. You ought to keep looking until you find some real followers of Christ. There are plenty of them out there. But you must be open to the truth. The Word also says: “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”

 

OSC: And as it’s been shown, many of these “different portraits” that you imagine to be so strong are upended for simply reading Luke’s material without prejudicing the entire exercise. When someone writes about internal evidence on the subject of the authorship of Luke, and people return with wiki quotes and fringe theories to do with redaction (based upon naked speculation and sheer force of will), they’re wasting their own time.

 

Irenaeus, who you once used so diligently for an argument against the existence of Jesus, wrote not only about how the historic person Luke wrote the gospel of Luke, they also argued from the “we” material of Acts so to explain how the historic Luke was an active part of the material he’s recorded. Why has he suddenly fallen out of favour? Your own wiki source material explained “The interpretation of the “we” passages as indicative that the writer was a historical eyewitness (whether Luke the evangelist or not), remains the most influential in current biblical studies.”

 

Mark’s predated by Paul, Rex. Paul’s authentic material (1 Corinthians 15:1-11) is an example of this. So when you write “wasn’t Mark supposed to be the earliest and most accurate account?” you’re either mistaken or this is another example of poorly communicating. “most accurate” makes even less sense, since no book is better than any other according to the Christian. Some aren’t more “of God” than others. Either way your source material (“Seven reasons you can trust the Bible”) wasn’t penned for the sake of destroying your faith, wouldn’t you agree? When someone reads material written for some very specific purpose, and the reader comes away affirming an entirely different viewpoint, that’s a level of uncharitable reading fair-minded people simply can’t enter into.

 

Morton Smith’s supposed discovery was later exposed as being a 20th century forgery. Smith didn’t merely plagiarise James Hunter’s novel (“The Mystery of Mar Saba”), they also predated their own supposed find in essays and articles written years earlier. Dr. William Lane Craig taught succinctly on the controversy by way of their defenders classes:

 

So Morton [Smith] claims that he discovered this fragment in 1941 – that was the year after this book appeared telling this sort of story. Morton [Smith]’s story exactly fits the book. What is interesting is that Morton [Smith] took a picture of this fragment from this Secret Gospel of Mark and he signed his name at the bottom of the fragment. He actually signed the alleged manuscript. Then he showed this photograph to everybody. But when people went back to the monastery, the page had disappeared. It was gone.

 

So nobody has this supposed fragment anymore. All they have is the picture that Morton [Smith] took. Morton [Smith] is dead now. Craig Evans said, My suspicion is that this whole thing was a hoax by Morton [Smith] and that the reason he destroyed the page was because if it were discovered that the signature was in the same ink as the inscription then everybody would know it was a forgery. So he took a picture then ripped out the page and destroyed it so that it couldn’t be checked. Think of it. What biblical scholar finding a hitherto undetected manuscript from the New Testament would sign his name on an ancient manuscript! You would be crazy to do this.


I said to Craig (Evans), “But why would a biblical scholar do such a thing? Why would he perpetrate such a hoax?” He said, What has been discovered is – you’ve got to understand, Morton [Smith] was vehemently anti-orthodox Christian. What has been found out is that he was also a closet homosexual and that at that time in the 50s he couldn’t come out and be open about his homosexuality.

 

So he lived this secret life of guilt and resentment and hatred of orthodox Christianity for this condemnation that he felt and the secret life he had to live as a homosexual. In the Secret Gospel of Mark, of course, it portrays Jesus in this way as having these homosexual liaisons with the young man in the garden. So it just fits with the kind of secret life that Morton [Smith] was living. Basically I think this whole thing is a fraud that has been perpetrated by Morton Smith.


I’ve explained how Smith’s forgery contained homoerotic elements because Smith himself argued for homoerotic elements, as explained by Robert M. Price in their article "Thoughts on the secret gospel."

 

Smith ventured that Jesus was a kind of antinomian Gnostic who led his disciples into a trance ecstasy, experiencing the Kingdom of God on earth, much as Irenaeus tells us that Markos the Magician used to teach wealthy New-Age matrons how to speak in tongues and prophesy. Smith said that, yes, this initiation included homosexuality as a rite of liminality, betokening the transcendence of this world by the holy-minded transgression of its categories and its laws. Such notions are common to Tantric Hinduism and Buddhism, though for Smith to claim Jesus and the first Christians indulged in such adventurous pieties is rather like John Allegro’s theory that the early Christians were a mushroom cult like the Brahmin priests with their sacred Soma (“The Sacred Mushroom and the Cross”, Garden City: Doubleday, 1970).


Craig Evans wrote further:

 

In a paragraph found on pp. 155-56 of the dissertation, Smith discusses the possibility of “secret doctrine” in the early Church, as reflected in Mark 4:11 (“to you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God”) and in 1 Cor 2:1–7 (“we speak the wisdom of God in a secret”). Smith finds a parallel to the idea of secret teaching in early rabbinic tradition and appeals to “Hagigah” 2.1. (Smith refers to the Tosefta, but his quotation appears to reflect the parallel in the Mishnah.) Smith paraphrases the “Hagigah” passage as follows: “The (passages of the Old Testament dealing with) forbidden sexual relationships are not to be expounded to three (at a time) . . . and (Ezekiel’s vision of) the chariot may not be expounded to a single hearer . . . .

 

In itself, Smith’s point is not particularly strange. He suggests a parallel between early Christianity and early rabbinic Judaism because both seem to have made a distinction between public teaching and private teaching. How truly parallel the Christian materials and the “Hagigah” passage really are I am not sure. For now, all I wish to note is the appearance of Mark 4:11 in a paragraph discussing, however briefly, forbidden sexual relationships.

 

If you look at the “Hagigah” passage, you will see that it refers to Leviticus 18, which forbids homosexual activity (cf. Lev 18:22). In an article that appeared in 1958 (“BJRL” 40 [1958]: 473–521), the year Smith visited Mar Saba, though written before the visit, Smith discusses, among other things, secrecy, initiation, union between believers and a deity, and Clement of Alexandria, who was fond of secrecy. Along the way, Smith remarks: “If a Jew [i.e., Jesus] could be supposed to invoke Beelzebub, he could be supposed to invoke Eros [the god of love]” (p. 485 n. 1).

 

There’s no real defence for writing in the “dead sea scrolls” when Morton Smith forged their supposed find in the 20th century, that’s as misguided as when Mormons write to me whilst assuming their book of Mormon is an ancient document really written by native Americans. Although you mightn’t “see” homosexual undertones/overtones in any given material, that’s immaterial to how the original author described and composed their supposed finding. Much like how you’re not seeing my posts of 1 Corinthians 15:1-11, that’s just selective reading.

 

Madelyn wrote “There’re professional methods used by historians to assess items from the past. . .I’m saying that by recognised historical methods, there is no respected view that Jesus did not exist, nor that he did not do most attributed to him.” To which you’ve replied “Professional methodology? I think you recommended Strobel. He doesn’t interview christian rejecters, his methodology is flawed.” That’s clearly to do with methodology, which needn’t discriminate against persons.

 

Her added use of “nor that he did not do most attributed to him” is an excellent way of cutting through the fog machine of hazy language that’s often used by Jesus deniers. Madelyn referenced material from Stott, Lewis, William Lane Craig, Geisler and Hoffman, Francis Schaeffer and finally Strobel. Plucking a single name from the bunch and writing “they don’t quote Christians rejecters”, as if to write that’s an example of flawed methodology, that’s absurd. The method whereby people verify historicity operates independently of whether somebody’s an atheist or a Christian. That kind of reply is village atheist stuff.

 

“How’s that for methodology”, by methodology you mean how’s that for hermeneutics. Though in terms of either, it’s about as good as believing that “we” doesn’t mean we, and that it didn’t happen in the life of the author of Acts, or that forged works that’ve gone missing are serious early evidence for gnostic beliefs, or even that gnosticism is an argument against the existence of Jesus. This supposed methodology is about as good as believing because I tipped over your bag of shopping I’ve “attacked you”, or even so good as believing that an individual who flourished long after Christianity was an active religion was the central figure of the Christian faith.

 

It's as fresh as believing Paul's gnostic, when their material went emphatically against core gnostic doctrine, and so clever as insisting Paul wrote on the subject of "numerous gnostic" groups, while supposedly being one of their kind, yet in print siding with the other guys in the Christian camp. It's just so good as treating "Against Heresies" as gospel truth, at least until the author disagrees with some golden cow of a belief. It's great methodology, if by great we're meaning terrible. Now I'm not writing you're terrible, your method's terrible. You're an ordinary, pleasant guy. Utterly terrible methodology however (if wishful thinking can be described as methodology).

 

I share Madelyn's opinion about your view on the James material, writing grammatically, Jesus is the subject of the use of the word Christ, there’s no other reason to write "who was called Christ" (as if it weren't accurate,) whilst also writing in the past tense, whilst in the flow of their narrative Josephus hadn't yet explained James' death. In short, perhaps your hermeneutics could be more reasonable. For example, reading material written for the express purpose of strengthening your faith, and coming away with reasons to reject your faith, that's an example of uncharitable reading, it's an example of weak hermeneutics.

 

bdrex: James was the Christ, just exactly as it says. There is no way you will change my mind as there is no way I will change yours. I wanted to have my lifelong beliefs confirmed and yet I found the opposite. How do you explain that?

 

OSC: You assume you're not going to be convinced, although that's simply to revel in close mindedness. Isn't it? For a person to write "you will never change my mind!" is just dogmatism. As for me, you’ve shared nothing worthy of changing a sceptical person's mind, just fantasy from the fringe of serious scholarship and outright fiction. You're met by real methods and scholars and shrink into silence. It's not simple me changing your mind, Rex. That's between you and God.

 

How do I explain you reading a book specifically written for affirming the Christians faith, and coming away with arguments against the Christian faith. How do I explain you reading a particularly benign quote from Madelyn and returning with something totally irrelevant about people not quoting from militant atheists. How does anyone explain your refusal to interact with evidence you don't like and can't handle. Where's the sense in you retroactively reinterpreting your messages because you're not communicating properly. Why does anyone read the gnostic use of the word "existence" and mentally kidnap that word with their own understanding of the concept.

 

For me to accept your invitation to explain any of the above (in addition to why you've rejected the faith you supposedly wanted to affirm) would simply be to trash you in print. I write trash you because none of the above paints you in a flattering light. It's bad news for anyone who argues like this. Your arguments are haywire and dishonest, whether from your mind or the minds of the myth makers you've read from. Their ideas are convoluted and fanciful, crumbling under the slightest cross-examination.
James was "an anointed" person, as was everyone sworn into certain offices, that’s not "the Christ."

 

Remember your articles, my friend. Grammar totally does away with your argument. Cling to this idea of yours or get with the reality. You write in portion one of your reply how you're totally closed-minded, whilst adding in portion two of your reply how you were so open as to change from a viewpoint you desperately wanted to be true. Again, just haywire, confused, needs to be retroactively touched up for the sake of your later false arguments.

 

Question, how do you explain a man getting his arguments destroyed for over a week, yet still being in the same position he was at the start of the conversation? What's driving that person to keep arguing for his ideas when they’re getting slaughtered

 

madblog: Also Jesus in Space and Time by Francis Schaeffer.

 

madblog: OSC, you are a charitable fellow. Thanks for being supportive of my slight contribution.

 

madblog: It might be best to ask yourself your last question, as though you want an answer. What else could the answer be, other than that your search had a predetermined end, predetermined by you. We humans are remarkably able to see what we want to see.

 

I hesitate to recommend another reading, but I will. If I were thinking about naming myself as an atheist or agnostic, this would send me running in the opposite direction. It is the chapter in Why I Am a Christian edited by Geisler. It is the chapter by J Budzewsewski called Why I Am Not an Atheist, J Bud was a firmly committed atheist–one of the few who acknowledged the full and honest implications of a decision to consider oneself without God. It is not for the faint.

 

He describes his own process of coming away from that position into a relationship with Jesus Christ. Understand that what you are rejecting is not an intellectual position. What you are rejecting is a relationship. Seek a relationship with the God who loves you.

― Tyrone Cormack