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Covert Messiah: Jesus was made up by Roman social engineeers
 
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Was Jesus made up by Roman social engineers/warriors as part of a psychological warfare (propaganda) campaign to pacify the Hebrews during the First Jewish-Roman War? It's plausible. I don't think there ever was a peaceful Jewish messiah. I wish I were going to be in London on the 19th for the symposium linked.

 

http://www.covertmessiah.com/ 

 

http://uk.prweb.com/releases/2013/10/prweb11201273.htm 

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The topic's currently all over the web, but the article and the book have in fact no academic backing. Note how there are no references whatsoever to any university or academic publication. There has been no peer-review process and even the book is self-published, which raises the question whether the author has been able to find a publisher in the first place. The article is a mix of truth and baseless speculation: it's true that the Romans adopted Christianity later, by emperor Constantine in the 4th century -- three hundred years after Jesus (possibly) lived. Until that we know for a fact that the Romans didn't really like Christians, because Christians refused to accept any other gods than their own. Roman citizens were required to pay their respects to the divine emperor. When the Christians didn't, the emperor would naturally punish them, not start inventing a rival religion. Please also note the lack of sources for the claim, other than a poetic interpretation of Josephus' writings. It's very common for pseudohistorians to claim there are hidden codes in ancient texts. The vast majority of the time this isn't the case.

 

PS. The reason Atwill is referred to as simply a "scholar" is because he has no position in any university. You can read more about his credentials here: http://caesarsmessiah.com/blog/about/

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Just an interesting thought. I can't endorse Atwill's argument: I haven't heard his evidence. I would like to hear it and evaluate it on its merit.

 

I also can't endorse the argument in favor of the Jesus of the New Testament being based on an historical person of any relevance during his own lifetime. If there was an historical person who served as the basis for the gospels, he was so obscure during his lifetime that there are no primary sources extant; nobody who ever saw the man wrote anything that would identify him, and he certainly never had audiences numbering in the thousands. There's just no evidence for that kind of thing happening.

 

Paul the "Apostle", who wrote the earliest words we have about Jesus, may not have believed Jesus ever lived on earth. There's even some indication in his writings that he believed Jesus specifically didn't live on earth, but was a being in the heavenly realms only.

 

Ultimately, the creators of the Jesus narrative (and their original intentions) are irrelevant. The myth has taken on a life of its own in the intervening time. It has been used variously to control and comfort people just like most other religious movements have. The question of the myth's origin is interesting, and merits academic study, but it the question of the historicity of Jesus doesn't change the fact that the Biblical Jesus is a fabrication that came about long after such person died.

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Dr. Richard Carrier thinks that the physical Jesus came to be as many other Gods at the time. Feel free to view his presentation on the subject.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=mwUZOZN-9dc

 

Not made up by the Romans, but as a result of Hellenistic syncretism that first developed mythology about Jesus by mixing the various religious thoughts that floated around at the time and then later on "made" him flesh.

 

So pretty much copy pasting the existing stuff while fabricating a new religion.

 

 
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Could it be that Timothy had it all figured out, when he blurted out 2 Tim 4:3 ?
 
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former victim:
Could it be that Timothy had it all figured out, when he blurted out 2 Tim 4:3 ?

 

People have always looked for authorities to teach them what they want to hear, so I'm not sure how 2 Tim 4:3 is relevant specifically in this matter.

 

So what's you implication, specifically? That Jesus was made up by Jews and Greeks of the First Century because it was a story people of the time wanted to believe? That Jesus was real but many modern people want to believe he's not, and teachers have been raised up to tell us he never existed? What?

 

Timothy was right about human nature and confirmation bias. That's for sure. He was wrong in declaring it as a prophecy of things to come.

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Carrier mentions in his presentation that there was a known celestial character called Jesus during the time the Christianity came to be.  This celestial Jesus didn't have a physical body and fought the battles against evil in the seven levels of heavens (between the moon and the earth if I recall correctly, it's been a while since I watched the presentation). It was not until and during the centuries that the gospels were written, after the letters of Paul, that the beliefs were reformed to address actual physical being. The letters of Paul, the genuine ones that are believed to have been written by him,  don't mention or hint in any way that Jesus would have actually existed, all of those letters refer to Jesus as celestial being and none of them mention anyone ever actually meeting or having even discussed with him in person.
 
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Does Carrier cite and quote any primary documents (besides Paul's letters and the Gospels) from the period in question to support his claims?  Which ancient writer(s)  mention a 'celestial Jesus'?  Which ancient writer(s) relate how Roman officials invented the Jesus stories?  If he doesn't name eyewitnesses and cite manuscripts that we can consult and read for ourselves, then he's no better than the Mo defenders who claim there was a Great Apostasy and say that ancient Egyptians knew about Abraham.  When I rejected Mormon truth claims, I did so because of weak or non-existent primary evidence and extreme over reliance on parallels to support historical claims (parallelomania).  Parallels aren't evidence that something happened, only that there might be some kind of a relationship.   I don't mean to be annoying, but I hold everyone making claims about ancient events to the same rigorous standards of evidence.  Call it the product of being screwed over by Mormonism.  A multiplication of historical parallels proves nothing.  Chariots of the Gods, Book of Abraham apologetics, Frazer's "Golden Bough", etc.  As someone already mentioned, there's a reason sound research must go through a peer review process.  
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Itinerant:
Does Carrier cite and quote any primary documents (besides Paul's letters and the Gospels) from the period in question to support his claims?  Which ancient writer(s)  mention a 'celestial Jesus'?  Which ancient writer(s) relate how Roman officials invented the Jesus stories?  

 

  He does, he even names one historial scribe from Alexandria that wrote about this celestial Jesus being a part of some Jewish belief tradition. 

 

However he doesn't make any claims that Romans invented Christianity, his focus is on the hellenistic syncretism that he claims Paul was doing.

 
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finex:
Itinerant:
Does Carrier cite and quote any primary documents (besides Paul's letters and the Gospels) from the period in question to support his claims?  Which ancient writer(s)  mention a 'celestial Jesus'?  Which ancient writer(s) relate how Roman officials invented the Jesus stories?  

 

  He does, he even names one historial scribe from Alexandria that wrote about this celestial Jesus being a part of some Jewish belief tradition. 

 

However he doesn't make any claims that Romans invented Christianity, his focus is on the hellenistic syncretism that he claims Paul was doing.

 

Ok, thanks for clarifying.  I got him mixed up with Atwill, although the same problem with parallels applies to claims that Jesus is a product of syncretism.  

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Admittedly, there's not much surviving primary evidence for any hypothesis about where the stories of Jesus come from. Hence, the default position that he was a historical figure deified by people who never met him is one of many tenable answers, but it's not exceptionally likely.

 

The idea that he was a weapon of psychological warfare designed by the Flavians to coopt the messianic traditions of the First Century Hebrews also doesn't seem to have much merit on the surface, either. Given the historicity of Jesus is considered the default position by many, I think it's fair to elevate the status of competing claims supported by similar amounts of evidence.

 

The Hellenistic syncretism hypothesis proposed by Carrier and others seems more reasonable of either of the above; It explains why there's a dearth of primary evidence for the historical Jesus, and smacks less of conspiracy theory than Atwill's psychological warfare hypothesis.

 

I'm an academic, though not an historian. I consider myself fully capable of evaluating an argument based on its academic merit. I've heard Carrier speak, and I think his syncretism hypothesis has merit. I've heard some New Testament (academic, not religious) scholars speak, most of whom don't believe in the divinity of the historical Jesus, but think there was a man behind the myth. I've never heard Atwill, and I'd like to hear to see how convincing his evidence is.

 

If it doesn't pique your curiosity, that's fine. Given the modern influence of the myth, I think it's worth consideration.

 

I do think, however, that evidence indicates there's one hypothesis we can discard to explain the origin of the Jesus myths. He was not God or the Son of God. There's no evidence for that except emotional experiences of the faithful.

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kinderhooker:

Admittedly, there's not much surviving primary evidence for any hypothesis about where the stories of Jesus come from. Hence, the default position that he was a historical figure deified by people who never met him is one of many tenable answers, but it's not exceptionally likely.

 

The idea that he was a weapon of psychological warfare designed by the Flavians to coopt the messianic traditions of the First Century Hebrews also doesn't seem to have much merit on the surface, either. Given the historicity of Jesus is considered the default position by many, I think it's fair to elevate the status of competing claims supported by similar amounts of evidence.

 

The Hellenistic syncretism hypothesis proposed by Carrier and others seems more reasonable of either of the above; It explains why there's a dearth of primary evidence for the historical Jesus, and smacks less of conspiracy theory than Atwill's psychological warfare hypothesis.

 

I'm an academic, though not an historian. I consider myself fully capable of evaluating an argument based on its academic merit. I've heard Carrier speak, and I think his syncretism hypothesis has merit. I've heard some New Testament (academic, not religious) scholars speak, most of whom don't believe in the divinity of the historical Jesus, but think there was a man behind the myth. I've never heard Atwill, and I'd like to hear to see how convincing his evidence is.

 

If it doesn't pique your curiosity, that's fine. Given the modern influence of the myth, I think it's worth consideration.

 

I do think, however, that evidence indicates there's one hypothesis we can discard to explain the origin of the Jesus myths. He was not God or the Son of God. There's no evidence for that except emotional experiences of the faithful.

 

Oh, I agree.  My point is only that parallels are the weakest possible evidence and people can make them say whatever they want.  It all depends on what you bring to the table, what your philosophical commitments are, when you look at them.  Those with a supernatural bent will see the parallels one way.  Materialists will see it another way. The debate will never end.

 

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Right, the debate will never end, but someday it might be diminished in scope so it doesn't engulf society. I'd like to see all people view belief less literally. I'd like to see people trust their own consciences. Religious authority hampers that process. 

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This book says, the Flavian Caesars were components of Jesus myth. http://www.amazon.com/Caesars-Messiah-Conspiracy-Flavian-Signature/dp/1461096405 That he was "created" by Constantine to maintain power.
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Tessa:
This book says, the Flavian Caesars were components of Jesus myth. http://www.amazon.com/Caesars-Messiah-Conspiracy-Flavian-Signature/dp/1461096405 That he was "created" by Constantine to maintain power.

 

It's a well known fact that Constantine is responsible for unifying the religion, however he didn't make things up. The first Nicean council was called n session by Constantine and he forced the church fathers to unify the religion in order to harmonize the religious practices in the empire. Constantine saw the the benefits of religion as unifying force for the people and he wanted to use that.

 

The Nicean councils voted on many issues. One of the meetings ended up voting whether Jesus was a man or a god, and well we all know the outcome, the holy trinity of the christian churches was formalized. All of the losing side of the vote ended up being declared heretics which ultimately led to persecution and the destruction of many traditions and congregations.

 
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We all know what Jesus' position was in regards to money and possessions.  Whatever else Jesus was, it is clear that he was used to end the blood sacrifices and switch the Jews as well as everyone else from a barter system to that of coins.  Jesus was against piling up personal possessions and money.  Money being used as a method to controll and take advantage of people.

 

 http://www.iamthewitness.com/books/Andrew.Carrington.Hitchcock/The.History.of.the.Money.Changers.htm

 

Jesus was the last blood sacrifice to end all blood sacrifices. After which only money was accepted on the alter as a sacrifice.  This completely changed the meaning of what a sacrifice was and freed up the Pagan priests who no longer had to preform the bloody time consuming rituals. They just used bread and wine.  And yes if you perform blood sacrifices you are Pagan.

 
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I guess it's an interesting concept . . .  not wanting to rain on the parade but . . . does it really matter who made up the story of Cheeze Bits?

 

 

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Bold Wish:

 

I guess it's an interesting concept . . .  not wanting to rain on the parade but . . . does it really matter who made up the story of Cheeze Bits?

 

 

 

 The "who" is somewhat less important than they "why" and the "how", at least in my opinion. 

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There is a podcast with Dr. Carrier on The Thinking Atheist. I haven't listened to it yet, but might go listen to it now that I watched his YouTube video. Interesting stuff.  

 

Edit: Looks like Carrier is also not a fan of Atwill and basically states he gives scholars like him a bad name.  You can read his arguments against Atwill's theory on his blog 

 

 www.freethoughtblogs.com "Atwill's Cranked-up Jesus"

 

 

  Just read it and listened to the podcast.  Sounds like this Atwill guy's argument is quite lacking (See Carrier's conversation with Atwill on the blog).  I'm calling bs on Atwill, but I find Carrier's theory credible.  (I'm no expert, this is just my humble opinion based on Atwill's responses to Carrier).

 

 

 
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Actually...I blame Paul, for "creating" Jesus into a sun god. Then the Romans ran with it.
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I’ve begun worshiping the sun for a number of reasons. First of all, unlike some other gods I could mention, I can see the sun. It’s there for me every day. And the things it brings me are quite apparent all the time: heat, light, food, a lovely day. There’s no mystery, no one asks for money, I don’t have to dress up, and there’s no boring pageantry. And interestingly enough, I have found that the prayers I offer to the sun and the prayers I formerly offered to God are all answered at about the same 50-percent rate.” George Carlin

 
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kinderhooker:

Right, the debate will never end, but someday it might be diminished in scope so it doesn't engulf society. I'd like to see all people view belief less literally. I'd like to see people trust their own consciences. Religious authority hampers that process. 

 

 Exactly.  People need to be free from the bondage of lies and religions that teach that the thinking has been done for them.  They need to be able to find and trust their own north star.

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I laughed out loud and said “Thank you sir. And I hope every time you hear the name of JS you don’t think about him having sex with those girls and the women who were already married because if you’re going to start being honest with yourself then sooner or later you will also realize a real god would never do that, a real prophet would never do that, and it’s all just bull shit.”
Oh mercy, it just felt so damn good to say that.  —BOLD WISH

 
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Tessa:
Actually...I blame Paul, for "creating" Jesus into a sun god. Then the Romans ran with it.

 

 All people back then believed that the sun and planets were Gods.  They didn't believe in an invisible man in the sky.  Paul didn't create Jesus into a sun God; the people already believed that the sun was the supreme God. Chrstianty eventually ended the idea of the sun and planets being Gods and ended the blood sacrifices.  Instead of preforming sacrifices to the sun citizens paid money to the priests and emperors. It ended the barter system.

 
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But Paul was pulled into Jerusalem by Peter, James and John and told not to preach about his visions. He did it anyway. Paul made a mess of the whole thing among people who worshiped statues. Now look at the cathedrals in Europe, filled with statues. Paul turned him into a war god....instead of the "prince of peace."
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I’ve begun worshiping the sun for a number of reasons. First of all, unlike some other gods I could mention, I can see the sun. It’s there for me every day. And the things it brings me are quite apparent all the time: heat, light, food, a lovely day. There’s no mystery, no one asks for money, I don’t have to dress up, and there’s no boring pageantry. And interestingly enough, I have found that the prayers I offer to the sun and the prayers I formerly offered to God are all answered at about the same 50-percent rate.” George Carlin

 
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Tessa:
 Paul turned him into a war god....instead of the "prince of peace."

 

Well we must remember that Paul was Jewish and for the Jewish the messiah is the king or a general, a liberator whom will deliver freedom for the people, that will bring the lasting peace. 

 
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Paul was of the tribe of Benjamin, not Judah....
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So...based on the exact same evidences, we have a number of proposed theories for the origin of the Jesus stories. Is Jesus the invention of Roman social engineers; the product of Hellenistic syncretism; Constantine's invention to consolidate power; the tool of those who sought to end blood sacrifice and the barter system; the result of Paul's efforts to turn him into a sun god; or the product of early Jewish followers who preserved memories of the theology of the first Hebrew temple and saw in Jesus the promised Great High Priest (another recent theory based in part on Dead Sea Scrolls research and not mentioned in this thread)? Which one of these theories is the correct one? Maybe it's a different one altogether. Given the scarcity of evidence and variety of mutually-exlusive theories, are we sure that some of these theorizers don't also suffer from a bit of confirmation bias?

 

IMO, a healthy dose of skepticism is called for when anyone says anything at all about the origins of the Jesus stories.  What will the next hot, new theory be to sell books and elicit internet chatter?

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finex:
Tessa:
This book says, the Flavian Caesars were components of Jesus myth. http://www.amazon.com/Caesars-Messiah-Conspiracy-Flavian-Signature/dp/1461096405 That he was "created" by Constantine to maintain power.

 

It's a well known fact that Constantine is responsible for unifying the religion, however he didn't make things up. The first Nicean council was called n session by Constantine and he forced the church fathers to unify the religion in order to harmonize the religious practices in the empire. Constantine saw the the benefits of religion as unifying force for the people and he wanted to use that.

 

The Nicean councils voted on many issues. One of the meetings ended up voting whether Jesus was a man or a god, and well we all know the outcome, the holy trinity of the christian churches was formalized. All of the losing side of the vote ended up being declared heretics which ultimately led to persecution and the destruction of many traditions and congregations.

 

Actually, the debate was between incipient Arianism and those who viewed this as a recent innovation.  They didn't discuss and decide whether Jesus was god or man; they discussed whether the divine nature in Jesus was created or uncreated.  Both sides agreed that Jesus was both man and god.  Also, Constantine didn't force his own preferred outcome.  He called the council to resolve the issue and forced the unity and anathemetized heretics after the bishops, many of whom bore the scars from tortures inflicted by Constantine's pagan predecessors, voted in favor of the majority view (that the divine nature in Jesus is uncreated).  See Athanasius and Eusebius for the eyewitness accounts and a blow by blow of the events and debates. 

 

In fact, I would recommend that everyone quit giving their money via Amazon to people who write books on ancient Christianity and just go read the ancient documents (all originally in Greek) that those people all use for their research.  They're all available for free online or for kindle.  You'll be amazed at all of the silliness propounded and advertised as authentic history if you just read the primary sources for yourselves.  Just be aware that it's not always easy reading.  The ancient authors (Christian or gnostic) from before the fall of Rome were all steeped in the classical philosophical tradition (Plato, Aristotle, etc.). 

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Tessa:
But Paul was pulled into Jerusalem by Peter, James and John and told not to preach about his visions. He did it anyway. Paul made a mess of the whole thing among people who worshiped statues. Now look at the cathedrals in Europe, filled with statues. Paul turned him into a war god....instead of the "prince of peace."

 

Does Paul making a mess of things and creating a war god apply to the older-than-Catholicism Christian East?  There aren't any churches filled with statues in those older traditions.  The Roman, Latin church and its Western European offshoots kept the statues.  The older Greek-, Syriac-, and Aramaic-speaking Orthodox churches of the East (Antioch, Alexandria, Jerusalem, and Constantinople) and their Slavic offshoots (Russia, Balkans, Eastern Europe, etc.) have icons.  Both Catholic and Orthodox look to Paul as a great apostle.  They used to be one unified church until the 11th century.

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Itinerant,

 

You're fighting the long defeat. Against the power of historical amnesia there can be no victory. We must join with them, Itinerant. We must join with the revisionists. It would be wise, my friend.

   

 

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Itinerant:
finex:
Tessa:
This book says, the Flavian Caesars were components of Jesus myth. http://www.amazon.com/Caesars-Messiah-Conspiracy-Flavian-Signature/dp/1461096405 That he was "created" by Constantine to maintain power.

 

It's a well known fact that Constantine is responsible for unifying the religion, however he didn't make things up. The first Nicean council was called n session by Constantine and he forced the church fathers to unify the religion in order to harmonize the religious practices in the empire. Constantine saw the the benefits of religion as unifying force for the people and he wanted to use that.

 

The Nicean councils voted on many issues. One of the meetings ended up voting whether Jesus was a man or a god, and well we all know the outcome, the holy trinity of the christian churches was formalized. All of the losing side of the vote ended up being declared heretics which ultimately led to persecution and the destruction of many traditions and congregations.

 

Actually, the debate was between incipient Arianism and those who viewed this as a recent innovation.  They didn't discuss and decide whether Jesus was god or man; they discussed whether the divine nature in Jesus was created or uncreated.  Both sides agreed that Jesus was both man and god.  Also, Constantine didn't force his own preferred outcome.  He called the council to resolve the issue and forced the unity and anathemetized heretics after the bishops, many of whom bore the scars from tortures inflicted by Constantine's pagan predecessors, voted in favor of the majority view (that the divine nature in Jesus is uncreated).  See Athanasius and Eusebius for the eyewitness accounts and a blow by blow of the events and debates. 

 

In fact, I would recommend that everyone quit giving their money via Amazon to people who write books on ancient Christianity and just go read the ancient documents (all originally in Greek) that those people all use for their research.  They're all available for free online or for kindle.  You'll be amazed at all of the silliness propounded and advertised as authentic history if you just read the primary sources for yourselves.  Just be aware that it's not always easy reading.  The ancient authors (Christian or gnostic) from before the fall of Rome were all steeped in the classical philosophical tradition (Plato, Aristotle, etc.). 

 

 It is my understanding that Constantine was not concerned with the doctinal outcome of the bishop's council.  He left that to  the bishops.  His real concern was to unite the citizens of his kingdom under one belief system with him being the supreme ruler. He wanted to do away with the old gods and force a one god system on the people so they would be easy to rule.

 

 
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Phillip (hagiasophia):

Itinerant,

 

You're fighting the long defeat. Against the power of historical amnesia there can be no victory. We must join with them, Itinerant. We must join with the revisionists. It would be wise, my friend.

   

 

 

When it comes to Jesus, everyone either accepts non-historical history or revises it. Historical amnesia seems to be all that's available, since we don't have any primary evidence. It seems that if Jesus lived, he was forgotten by every literate person who ever knew him. He must've been pretty bland.

 

Now, for the important question: With which camp of revisionists must we join? I want to be wise, too!

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And I don’t need the fallout
Of all the past that’s in between us
And I’m not holding on
And all your lies weren’t enough to keep me here
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To sum it up, none of the myths are credible. They all have holes, greek translations or otherwise. They've all been tampered with (300 years to Nicene or 2013 years via everybody else's finger in the pie.) Doesn't make any difference.
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I’ve begun worshiping the sun for a number of reasons. First of all, unlike some other gods I could mention, I can see the sun. It’s there for me every day. And the things it brings me are quite apparent all the time: heat, light, food, a lovely day. There’s no mystery, no one asks for money, I don’t have to dress up, and there’s no boring pageantry. And interestingly enough, I have found that the prayers I offer to the sun and the prayers I formerly offered to God are all answered at about the same 50-percent rate.” George Carlin

 
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Phillip (hagiasophia):

Itinerant,

 

You're fighting the long defeat. Against the power of historical amnesia there can be no victory. We must join with them, Itinerant. We must join with the revisionists. It would be wise, my friend.

   

 

 

Tell me, "friend", when did Phillip the Wise abandon reason for madness? 

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Why do I think reading is important? It is such an effective medium between mind and mind. We think largely in words. A medium made only of words doesn’t impose the barrier of any other medium. It is naked and unprotected communication. That’s how you get pregnant. May you always be so. – Roger Ebert
There’s a beautiful, progressive Canadian-­European country here in America. It’s just surrounded by rednecks. - Bill Maher
Ignorance is not bliss…it’s ignorance. - Itinerant

 
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kinderhooker:
Phillip (hagiasophia):

Itinerant,

 

You're fighting the long defeat. Against the power of historical amnesia there can be no victory. We must join with them, Itinerant. We must join with the revisionists. It would be wise, my friend.

   

 

 

When it comes to Jesus, everyone either accepts non-historical history or revises it. Historical amnesia seems to be all that's available, since we don't have any primary evidence. It seems that if Jesus lived, he was forgotten by every literate person who ever knew him. He must've been pretty bland.

 

Now, for the important question: With which camp of revisionists must we join? I want to be wise, too!

 

I wouldn't say we don't have any primary evidence.  We have some letters from a guy named Peter, who claimed to know Jesus personally.  We also have some letters from Paul, who claimed to know Peter, and a couple of letters from Luke, who claimed to know Paul.  As Luke relates in a letter to his friend, Theophilus, they were missionary companions for a time, traveling through Turkey, Syria, and Palestine. All of this is the same level of quality of evidence as we have for Julius Caesar's conquest of England. 

 

Acts, Peter's letters, and Paul's letters are the elephant in the room for those who want to claim that the Jesus stories were fabricated by Caesar or Hellenist syncretisers.  The only way that claim can be supported is to ignore or explain away the earliest documentary evidence, which would mean Caesar or the syncretisers also fabricated Acts, Peter's, and Paul's letters.  The vast majority of academics do accept them as authentic based on the internal evidences, except for a few crackpots like Atwill who make sensationalistic yet ungrounded claims.  This pushes the origin of the Jesus stories to a very early period.  Either Paul started it, meaning he lied about his interactions with Peter; or both Luke and Paul were in on the conspiracy with Peter; or they were dupes of it themselves, meaning Peter and his buddies were the original culprits - which is what Jewish writers have alleged from the very beginning. 

 

[I'm sorry, Lord Saruman, I couldn't resist]

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Why do I think reading is important? It is such an effective medium between mind and mind. We think largely in words. A medium made only of words doesn’t impose the barrier of any other medium. It is naked and unprotected communication. That’s how you get pregnant. May you always be so. – Roger Ebert
There’s a beautiful, progressive Canadian-­European country here in America. It’s just surrounded by rednecks. - Bill Maher
Ignorance is not bliss…it’s ignorance. - Itinerant

 
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son of perdition:
Itinerant:
finex:
Tessa:
This book says, the Flavian Caesars were components of Jesus myth. http://www.amazon.com/Caesars-Messiah-Conspiracy-Flavian-Signature/dp/1461096405 That he was "created" by Constantine to maintain power.

 

It's a well known fact that Constantine is responsible for unifying the religion, however he didn't make things up. The first Nicean council was called n session by Constantine and he forced the church fathers to unify the religion in order to harmonize the religious practices in the empire. Constantine saw the the benefits of religion as unifying force for the people and he wanted to use that.

 

The Nicean councils voted on many issues. One of the meetings ended up voting whether Jesus was a man or a god, and well we all know the outcome, the holy trinity of the christian churches was formalized. All of the losing side of the vote ended up being declared heretics which ultimately led to persecution and the destruction of many traditions and congregations.

 

Actually, the debate was between incipient Arianism and those who viewed this as a recent innovation.  They didn't discuss and decide whether Jesus was god or man; they discussed whether the divine nature in Jesus was created or uncreated.  Both sides agreed that Jesus was both man and god.  Also, Constantine didn't force his own preferred outcome.  He called the council to resolve the issue and forced the unity and anathemetized heretics after the bishops, many of whom bore the scars from tortures inflicted by Constantine's pagan predecessors, voted in favor of the majority view (that the divine nature in Jesus is uncreated).  See Athanasius and Eusebius for the eyewitness accounts and a blow by blow of the events and debates. 

 

In fact, I would recommend that everyone quit giving their money via Amazon to people who write books on ancient Christianity and just go read the ancient documents (all originally in Greek) that those people all use for their research.  They're all available for free online or for kindle.  You'll be amazed at all of the silliness propounded and advertised as authentic history if you just read the primary sources for yourselves.  Just be aware that it's not always easy reading.  The ancient authors (Christian or gnostic) from before the fall of Rome were all steeped in the classical philosophical tradition (Plato, Aristotle, etc.). 

 

 It is my understanding that Constantine was not concerned with the doctinal outcome of the bishop's council.  He left that to  the bishops.  His real concern was to unite the citizens of his kingdom under one belief system with him being the supreme ruler. He wanted to do away with the old gods and force a one god system on the people so they would be easy to rule.

 

 

Scholars say lots of different things about Constantine's motivations.  The funny thing is that Constantine didn't leave a diary behind to explain them.  All we know about Constantine's intentions and what happened at the Council comes from the surviving primary accounts.  The same goes for anything in ancient history.  I recommend ignoring the scholars and reading those accounts for yourself. 

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Why do I think reading is important? It is such an effective medium between mind and mind. We think largely in words. A medium made only of words doesn’t impose the barrier of any other medium. It is naked and unprotected communication. That’s how you get pregnant. May you always be so. – Roger Ebert
There’s a beautiful, progressive Canadian-­European country here in America. It’s just surrounded by rednecks. - Bill Maher
Ignorance is not bliss…it’s ignorance. - Itinerant

 
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Constantine's mother. Helena, was the christian who built churches over every spot some shepherd said Jesus stood, was born, died.

  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helena_(empress)

 

It's was Constantine's concern for her, running about Palestine being nutty....finding conflicts in every congregation she went to see.

 

There was infighting amongst all of them.

 

Due to her conversion, Constantine called the council to get all parties to sit down and make peace with "one religion, one belief.

 

" They all had to give up much of what they knew, many documents were burned....they didn't survive the council scrutiny.

 

Many were hidden away, buried in pots or what not.

 

So many versions about one little man....it's a wonder anything is available.

 

And the "letters of Paul" could have been forgeries. Who owns the letters? The Greek orthodox church? The Vatican? Where are they? It seems there are 800 copies? Not sure where the originals are...if they exist at all.

 

http://www.religion-online.org/showarticle.asp?title=91

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I’ve begun worshiping the sun for a number of reasons. First of all, unlike some other gods I could mention, I can see the sun. It’s there for me every day. And the things it brings me are quite apparent all the time: heat, light, food, a lovely day. There’s no mystery, no one asks for money, I don’t have to dress up, and there’s no boring pageantry. And interestingly enough, I have found that the prayers I offer to the sun and the prayers I formerly offered to God are all answered at about the same 50-percent rate.” George Carlin

 
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kinderhooker:
Phillip (hagiasophia):

Itinerant,

 

You're fighting the long defeat. Against the power of historical amnesia there can be no victory. We must join with them, Itinerant. We must join with the revisionists. It would be wise, my friend.

   

 

 

When it comes to Jesus, everyone either accepts non-historical history or revises it. Historical amnesia seems to be all that's available, since we don't have any primary evidence. It seems that if Jesus lived, he was forgotten by every literate person who ever knew him. He must've been pretty bland.

 

Now, for the important question: With which camp of revisionists must we join? I want to be wise, too!

 

I think a reasonable case can be made that the fourth gospel was written by an eyewitness to Jesus' life and that the other traditional gospels were based largely on eyewitness accounts even if not written directly by the eyewitnesses themselves (see this book for example). I also think the four traditional gospels, which are all first century documents, give as a good as a picture of the person of Jesus as we can get 2000 years later (discount the miracle stories if you wish). They are generally consistent with what we know about Roman-occupied Palestine before the destruction of Herod's temple (unlike the Book of Mormon stories supposedly set in ancient America). Jesus is presented as a complex, sometimes contradictory, figure in an authentically Jewish context. I find no plausible reason to question the basic outline of Jesus' life that history has handed down to us:

 

  - Jesus was a 1st century Palestinian Jew

  - Jesus went about preaching that the kingdom of God was at hand and

    was claimed to have healed people and cast out demons

  - Jesus upset the ruling authorities who had him executed (crucified)

  - Some of Jesus' followers claimed that he rose from the dead and the

    Christian movement(s) was born

 

That's my opinion for what its worth. I'm probably not with the wise. I always have the tendecy elect the way of pain.

 

 

 

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Phillip (hagiasophia):
kinderhooker:
snip
snip

snip

 

  - Jesus was a 1st century Palestinian Jew

  - Jesus went about preaching that the kingdom of God was at hand and

    was claimed to have healed people and cast out demons

  - Jesus upset the ruling authorities who had him executed (crucified)

  - Some of Jesus' followers claimed that he rose from the dead and the

    Christian movement(s) was born

 

snip

 

Jesus was a pretty common name at the time. I'm sure there were several of them in Nazareth. This basic outline is pretty plausible.

 

The Hellenic syncretist hypothesis is also plausible.

 

I suspect it's more complicated than any single hypothesis might suggest. I think his first followers imagined him to be a prophet with miraculous power. I think claims of his divinity came decades later.

 

I subscribe to the view that Mark was the earliest of the Gospels (70 AD or so), Luke second (75-100 AD), and Matthew third (80-90 AD). The Gospel of John is pretty weird. It's Christology is completely different from the synoptic gospels.

 

I honestly don't think any of the Gospels were written by eyewitnesses, and they were all written after Paul's letters.

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And I don’t need the fallout
Of all the past that’s in between us
And I’m not holding on
And all your lies weren’t enough to keep me here
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While a real person might be the basis for what became the Jesus stories, I think we can all agree that because of embellishments that surely crept into the narrative over the decades, the Jesus that's described in the Bible probably never existed. Does anyone disagree with that?

 

 

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Life has no meaning. Each of us has meaning and we bring it to life. It is a waste to be asking the question when you are the answer.
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Jeff Ricks:

While a real person might be the basis for what became the Jesus stories, I think we can all agree that because of embellishments that surely crept into the narrative over the decades, the Jesus that's described in the Bible probably never existed. Does anyone disagree with that?

 

 

 

I agree, though I'm not sure we can all agree. Nor should we.

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And I don’t need the fallout
Of all the past that’s in between us
And I’m not holding on
And all your lies weren’t enough to keep me here
Goo Goo Dolls, Here Is Gone

 
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kinderhooker:
Jeff Ricks:

While a real person might be the basis for what became the Jesus stories, I think we can all agree that because of embellishments that surely crept into the narrative over the decades, the Jesus that's described in the Bible probably never existed. Does anyone disagree with that?

 

 

 

I agree, though I'm not sure we can all agree. Nor should we.

 

Good point. I agree that we shouldn't all agree. Can we all agree on that? Doh! I did it again.

 

 

 

 

 

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Life has no meaning. Each of us has meaning and we bring it to life. It is a waste to be asking the question when you are the answer.
- Joseph Campbell

 
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