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  1. #1
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    Whether or not the Resurrection of Christ is a tenable or even strong proof

    Question: Is the Resurrection tenable or even strong as a proof that Christians can claim for the existence of the Judeao-Christian God, and as an indicator of God's will?

    Necessary forewords:

    It is important to note that the scope of this debate is historical, and because of this the universe of discourse is restricted to leaving the Empirical issues in the hands of other debates. I would refer you to Cosmological and Thermodynamic debates out there, as well as others concerning intelligent design and especially divine revelation via tradition, in order to consider whether or not the Christian God can exist, has a reason to exist, and actually does exist.

    So, let's just leave it that either the Judeao-Christian God exists and must ultimately be capable of resurrecting Christ, or that the Judeao-Christian God doesn't exist and therefore we can't rule that the assumption of resurrection is appropriate. This is a proof of God's existence and will from the perspective of history.

    The meat of my arguments:

    1. The Resurrection Hypothesis has full explanatory scope over the claims of an empty tomb, post-mortem appearances, and the origin of the Christian faith.

    2. The Resurrection Hypothesis has full explanatory power concerning the empty tomb, post-mortem appearances, and the origin of the Christian faith, because if the Resurrection Hypothesis is true then these recorded circumstances most certainly would have been the case.

    3. The Resurrection Hypothesis is less contrived than other popular theses because it only depends on the existence of the Judeao-Christian God. Instead of being contrived only once, other theories rely on supposing that conspiratorial societies existed, that a Roman Centurion of all people didn't successfully kill Jesus by scourging, crucifying, and lancing him, or that a sizable group of people had all been delusional to the point of openly declaring the visions they projected upon themselves.

    Not to mention that the Hallucination Hypothesis (in particular) doesn't cite any peer reviewed study of hallucination, in order to prove that there is a scientific reason why so many ordinary folk must have spontaneously had such convincing hallucinations.
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    Re: Whether or not the Resurrection of Christ is a tenable or even strong proof

    As far as the validity of the resurrection goes, here is what I found compelling.

    1.) Throughout history no one, not even the Jewish adversaries of Jesus, denied that Jesus the man ever existed. Therefore Jesus, the man existed.

    2.) In the first decades after the execution of Jesus, His Apostles and their followers were persecuted, hunted down and even killed. "The Way" as it was called then was outlawed both by Roman and Jewish authorities.

    3.) None of the 12 Apostles ever recanted the story of Jesus' resurrection, not even under torture or facing imminent death. Had one recanted it is certain that either the Jews or Romans would have used this to counter the Apostles. Yet, through Josephus and other contemporaries no mention is ever made of any of the 12 ever recanting.

    4.) The Apsotles did not pursue or gain wealth or political power. They were despised, persecuted.

    Conclusion:
    Something very powerful happened to motivate the 12 Apostles and their followers. This shared experience and belief kept them dedicated to their task despite many if not most of them being separated from their fellows over many years without benefit of phone, email, or even reliable mail service.

    The Apostles tell us this experience was witnessing Jesus' resurrected. If one believes in God, why doubt this? What would they -- all 12 -- have to gain by holding to this if it were not true? One can see where a small number of men might hold to a shared "delusion" or "fabrication". But to say 12 or more would hold to such an "untruth" -- with no apparent earthly motivation to do so -- stretches credibility.

    The Mormon Joseph Smith tried to emulate this by supposedly showing 12 men the alleged golden tablets in which the Book of Mormon was allegedly written. But under sworn testimony and much pressure a number of these 12 recanted. Likewise similar "apostates" and other truths unsavory to an emerging religion's adherents have sprung up. For example the founder of Jehova's Witnesses demonstrating in open court in Canada that he could not indeed read ancient Greek as he claimed. Yet there is no such incident recorded in antiquity. Had such a thing occurred it is probable such an event would have indeed been put to great use by Roman and Jewish propagandists. Yet we find none.
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    Re: Whether or not the Resurrection of Christ is a tenable or even strong proof

    Quote Originally Posted by Spartacus View Post
    1.) Throughout history no one, not even the Jewish adversaries of Jesus, denied that Jesus the man ever existed. Therefore Jesus, the man existed.
    How does this conclusion even remotely follow from the premise? Following this reasoning, I can simply claim "Jesus the man never existed" and that would mean that he didn't exist.

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    Re: Whether or not the Resurrection of Christ is a tenable or even strong proof

    Quote Originally Posted by Dionysus View Post
    How does this conclusion even remotely follow from the premise? Following this reasoning, I can simply claim "Jesus the man never existed" and that would mean that he didn't exist.
    Please forgive me. My view on religous history stops about 200 yrs ago, and I consider anything in the last 500 yrs to be "modern". What I should have stated was that during the time of jesus and later the apostles, no persons ever claimed jesus the man did not exist. His existence as a man was never disputed by his contemporaries. Only a tiny number of people today dispute his existence as a man, and their claims are soundly rejected by most historian. There for jesus of nazerith, son of mary and joseph did exist. He is a historical figure.
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    Re: Whether or not the Resurrection of Christ is a tenable or even strong proof

    Quote Originally Posted by Spartacus View Post
    Please forgive me. My view on religous history stops about 200 yrs ago, and I consider anything in the last 500 yrs to be "modern". What I should have stated was that during the time of jesus and later the apostles, no persons ever claimed jesus the man did not exist. His existence as a man was never disputed by his contemporaries. Only a tiny number of people today dispute his existence as a man, and their claims are soundly rejected by most historian. There for jesus of nazerith, son of mary and joseph did exist. He is a historical figure.
    Well, that's essentially the same thing. It's no stronger than the original statement in terms of veracity; it just has more words. I'm not disputing the historicity of the man Jesus. I'm just pointing out the weakness in the claim "No one denied him, therefore he existed". It simply doesn't follow at all. If we're to make that assumption for the sake of the argument, that's fine.

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    Re: Whether or not the Resurrection of Christ is a tenable or even strong proof

    Quote Originally Posted by Dionysus View Post
    Well, that's essentially the same thing. It's no stronger than the original statement in terms of veracity; it just has more words. I'm not disputing the historicity of the man Jesus. I'm just pointing out the weakness in the claim "No one denied him, therefore he existed". It simply doesn't follow at all. If we're to make that assumption for the sake of the argument, that's fine.
    I think it's closer to something like this:

    "The people in Jesus's day did not deny that he existed. Throughout history, no objectors have asserted that Jesus did not exist. Thus, the people who had the best access to evidence that Jesus didn't exist...did not assert that he did not exist. Thus we have good reason to think, absent evidence to the contrary, that Jesus probably did exist."

    At least, that's how I'd put it if someone put a gun to my head. But historicity questions are not usually in my field of interest.
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    Re: Whether or not the Resurrection of Christ is a tenable or even strong proof

    Quote Originally Posted by CliveStaples View Post
    I think it's closer to something like this:

    "The people in Jesus's day did not deny that he existed. Throughout history, no objectors have asserted that Jesus did not exist. Thus, the people who had the best access to evidence that Jesus didn't exist...did not assert that he did not exist. Thus we have good reason to think, absent evidence to the contrary, that Jesus probably did exist."

    At least, that's how I'd put it if someone put a gun to my head. But historicity questions are not usually in my field of interest.
    YES. That phrasing is much more palatable. I think that many times the arguments get all wonky because we get careless and make bigger claims than we really can. Saying "No one denied him THEREFORE he existed" is just as reckless as "Scientists have never detected God THEREFORE he doesn't exist".

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    Re: Whether or not the Resurrection of Christ is a tenable or even strong proof

    Quote Originally Posted by Spartacus View Post
    What I should have stated was that during the time of jesus and later the apostles, no persons ever claimed jesus the man did not exist. His existence as a man was never disputed by his contemporaries.
    I don't think a unicorn named Bob ever existed but it would be pretty silly of me to write historical accounts to support Bob's nonexistence.

    Jesus' existence was never STATED by his contemporaries either. It appears that nobody during Jesus' lifetime felt that he was worth writing about. This includes Philo, who was writing an account of the Jews at that time and would have been present for the supposed miracles, and Justus of Tiberius who was from the same country as Jesus (Galilee) and lived at the same time but chose not to include any mention of such a spectacular being. I could provide a long list of other historians of that era who chose not to write about Jesus either.

    Only a tiny number of people today dispute his existence as a man, and their claims are soundly rejected by most historian. There for jesus of nazerith, son of mary and joseph did exist. He is a historical figure.
    Its funny that you consider the majority of people on earth as a "tiny number of people."

    Even the bible itself casts doubt on Jesus' existence:

    Jesus was born on or before 4BCE, because Herod died 4BCE.

    Matthew 2
    2:1 Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem,

    And Jesus was born on or after 6CE, because Cyrenius became governor of Syria on 6CE:

    Luke2:2 And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria. 2:3 And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. 2:4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David 2:5 To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.

    So Jesus was born before 4 BCE and born after 6CE?

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    Re: Whether or not the Resurrection of Christ is a tenable or even strong proof

    Jesus' existence was never STATED by his contemporaries either. It appears that nobody during Jesus' lifetime felt that he was worth writing about. This includes Philo, who was writing an account of the Jews at that time and would have been present for the supposed miracles, and Justus of Tiberius who was from the same country as Jesus (Galilee) and lived at the same time but chose not to include any mention of such a spectacular being. I could provide a long list of other historians of that era who chose not to write about Jesus either.
    You don't seem to be aware of the standards of the historical community. If we have as much as three or more independent attestations of a fact, then it is certainly a true fact. Jesus' existence was attested to by the Babylonian Talmud, by Josephus, and by a large collection of gospels, gnostic gospels, and epistles. Most of the sources that attest to his existence were as little as 1-2 generations removed, with the others coming close behind.

    For having preached in Galilee for only 3 years, having purposefully been discreet during His ministry (so much so that on different occasions people vilified others for calling Him the Christ on account of prophecies that He actually fulfilled), and having been executed and marginalized by the Jewish and Roman authorities, there is quite a bit of support for His historicity.
    Last edited by Lukecash12; April 4th, 2011 at 06:31 PM.
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    Re: Whether or not the Resurrection of Christ is a tenable or even strong proof

    Quote Originally Posted by Lukecash12 View Post
    You don't seem to be aware of the standards of the historical community. If we have as much as three or more independent attestations of a fact, then it is certainly a true fact. Jesus' existence was attested to by the Babylonian Talmud, by Josephus, and by a large collection of gospels, gnostic gospels, and epistles. Most of the sources that attest to his existence were as little as 1-2 generations removed, with the others coming close behind.

    For having preached in Galilee for only 3 years, having purposefully been discreet during His ministry (so much so that on different occasions people vilified others for calling Him the Christ on account of prophecies that He actually fulfilled), and having been executed and marginalized by the Jewish and Roman authorities, there is quite a bit of support for His historicity.
    I agree. Classical historians did not take the modern approach to history. Expecting their methods and organization of historical facts to be commensurate with how modern historians would record such data is completely anachronistic.
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    Re: Whether or not the Resurrection of Christ is a tenable or even strong proof

    It is nice to see someone at least making attempts to support the claims of Christianity. Serious props to you, dude.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lukecash12 View Post
    You don't seem to be aware of the standards of the historical community.
    It is interesting that you bring up the historical community, considering where the vast majority of historians stand on the resurrection:

    Alan F. Segal, The Probability of Physical Resurrection

    ...the vast majority of historians looking at the very same story would say that no evidence at all would ever demonstrate that a unique resurrection took place took place. The resurrection is neither probable or improbable; it is impossible to confirm historically.

    ...

    The same is true with the resurrection. It is one thing to conclude that the early Christians took it as fact; it is another thing to propound that it can be demonstrated historically. Such an endeavor is always bound to fail.
    (emphasis his)

    Dr. Bart Ehrman summarizes the problems with historically arguing for the resurrection:



    In addition, I noticed that you did not reply to Rockondon's point regarding Jesus' birth. Perhaps you are aware that the majority of scholars do, in fact, agree that there is a problem with the gospel's account of Jesus' birth; they agree that there is a mistake in the account. Furthermore, most scholars agree that Jesus did not say many of the statements attributed to him in the gospels, and that the gospels are a blend of fact and fiction. Also, most modern critical scholars that the gospels were even written by eye witnesses. Lastly, Rockondon seems to insinuate that Jesus never existed. That viewpoint is completely and totally rejected by almost every single scholar and historian.

    I bring all this up, since the consensus of the historical and scholarly community is often referenced in these debates. And it seems that the historical community would answer "no" to the OP.
    Last edited by sonofnietzsche; April 5th, 2011 at 03:46 PM.

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    Re: Whether or not the Resurrection of Christ is a tenable or even strong proof

    So far I have seen zero evidence for Jesus' existence - which is too bad, I think it would be great if he truly did exist.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lukecash12 View Post
    You don't seem to be aware of the standards of the historical community. If we have as much as three or more independent attestations of a fact, then it is certainly a true fact.
    So when 3 sources believe in Zeus then Zeus' existence is certainly a true fact.
    So when 3 sources believe in the flying spaghetti monster, its existence is a fact.
    So when 3 sources believe in unicorns....
    ...and so on, lol. By your reasoning nearly every nonsense belief and religion in history is 'certainly a true fact.'

    Jesus' existence was attested to by the Babylonian Talmud, by Josephus, and by a large collection of gospels, gnostic gospels, and epistles.
    All those sources were written after Jesus' supposed death. If Jesus truly was this miraculous being there should have been tons of contemporary sources attesting to his existence.

    Josephus did not write about Jesus.
    Josephus has mentioned many people named Jesus and Joshua in his writings, such as one Jesus in this work being the brother of James, but the only time there is mention of Jesus being the Christ is in the Testimonium Flavianum.

    There are many reasons why Josephus' supposed Testimonium Flavianum ("Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man;...He was [the] Christ..." etc) is well known as an obvious forgery.

    The Testimonium was written in a different style and using a different vocabulary than the rest of Josephus' work ("Antiquities of the Jews").

    Squeezed in a chapter between stories of massacres of his countrymen is this completely unrelated passage, professing faith to Jesus. Josephus was a Jewish historian who believed in Vespassian as the messiah, and he writes a passage professing Jesus as christ? I don't think so.

    The subsequent paragraph ended with a reference to "another outrage," this train of thought is interrupted with the Testimonium, following it comes the outrage he was referring to.

    Its brevity. Josephus has written entire chapters about magistrates, horse thieves, etc - yet the most spectacular being that ever lived is only worth a few sentences. For example, he wrote over twice as much about John the Baptist.

    The ancient table of contents that summarizes the work, written by a christian, fails to mention the Testimonium. Such a remarkable passage - not even worth a mention?

    During their controversies against Jewish opponents, no christian has ever cited the Testimonium, written by a jewish historian no less, until after Eusebius (a 4th century christian bishop known for forgery) got his hands on it.

    In fact, no one has ever quoted the Testimonium until Eusebius got his hands on it. As soon as he did make it public, it was cited innumerable times.

    At least 11 Christian church followers cited the work before Eusebius got his hands on it, but not one of them mentioned the Testimonium.

    Origen, who quoted the work many times, including the chapter the Testimonium is in, never mentioned the Testimonium. Although he used the work to verify the existence of John the Baptist, how strange it would be that he didn't also use it to verify the existence of Jesus.


    Most of the sources that attest to his existence were as little as 1-2 generations removed, with the others coming close behind.
    Which begs the question, why didn't contemporary writers write about him?

    Quote Originally Posted by CliveStaples View Post
    I agree. Classical historians did not take the modern approach to history. Expecting their methods and organization of historical facts to be commensurate with how modern historians would record such data is completely anachronistic.
    Who is this imaginary person who expects "methods and organization of historical facts to be commensurate with how modern historians would record such data"? Point him out to me and we can destroy his arguments together.

    Meanwhile, what I'm saying is something completely different. One would think that when historians are from the same time and place as Jesus and are able to witness Jesus' supposed miracles...they would write something about him. If you have a guy who can walk on water, feed thousands with a few fish and loaves of bread, come back from the dead, etc, why would you ignore all that and write about horse thieves and other mundane people instead?

    ---------- Post added at 01:42 PM ---------- Previous post was at 01:36 PM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by HermanLeadread View Post
    Lastly, Rockondon seems to insinuate that Jesus never existed.
    I just wanted to clarify that I would not be at all surprised if there was some itinerant preacher named Jesus whom may even be the basis for all the stories and scripture about Jesus. What I'm skeptical of is the judeo-christian idea of Jesus.

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    Re: Whether or not the Resurrection of Christ is a tenable or even strong proof

    Quote Originally Posted by rockondon View Post
    So when 3 sources believe in Zeus then Zeus' existence is certainly a true fact.
    So when 3 sources believe in the flying spaghetti monster, its existence is a fact.
    So when 3 sources believe in unicorns....
    ...and so on, lol. By your reasoning nearly every nonsense belief and religion in history is 'certainly a true fact.'
    Hmmm....A lot of this post of yours seems really familiar. Wonder why?

    What the above assertion utterly fails to take into account is that neither "zeus", this now infamously, overused-by-atheists "flying spaghetti monster", and unicorns, were never ancient historical human figures - people.

    Although one might argue against the divinity of Christ, His resurrection, etc. To argue against His having ever existed as a man, as it is above, seems intellectually childish.

    For if Jesus had never existed, then surely one would find that assertion throughout the Talmud. Yet the Talmud makes no such claim, while still denying His divinity and resurrection.
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    Re: Whether or not the Resurrection of Christ is a tenable or even strong proof

    In addition, I noticed that you did not reply to Rockondon's point regarding Jesus' birth. Perhaps you are aware that the majority of scholars do, in fact, agree that there is a problem with the gospel's account of Jesus' birth; they agree that there is a mistake in the account. Furthermore, most scholars agree that Jesus did not say many of the statements attributed to him in the gospels, and that the gospels are a blend of fact and fiction. Also, most modern critical scholars that the gospels were even written by eye witnesses. Lastly, Rockondon seems to insinuate that Jesus never existed. That viewpoint is completely and totally rejected by almost every single scholar and historian.

    I bring all this up, since the consensus of the historical and scholarly community is often referenced in these debates. And it seems that the historical community would answer "no" to the OP.
    I didn't reply to Rockondon's arguments concerning the birth of Jesus because the birth of Jesus is a different event than the death and resurrection of Jesus. I'm not to be required to answer for the historical accuracy of the Gospels concerning His birth, am I?

    It's interesting that you cite Bart Ehrman and Alan F. Segal as if you can then say the consensus is in your favor.

    Why don't we look at actual works made in order to find and tally the consensus? Let's see:

    See both Habermas, Gary. The Verdict of History. Nashville:Thomas Nelson Publishers. 1988 and Wilson, Ian. Jesus: The Evidence. Regnery Publishing. 2000.

    I'd also refer you to the comments of these scholars on the critical consensus:

    D. H. Van Daalen has remarked,

    it is difficult to object to the fact of the empty tomb on historical grounds; most objectors do so on the basis of theological or philosophical considerations. More New Testament scholars are honestly dealing with these empirical facts.2

    Jacob Kremer is a specialist in resurrection research. He states,

    By far, most exegetes hold firmly . . . to the reliability of the biblical statements about the empty tomb.3

    Fourth, liberal scholars have changed their minds about Jesus' appearances to his disciples. The late Norman Perrin, a liberal scholar, wrote,

    The more we study the tradition with regard to the appearances, the firmer the rock begins to appear upon which they are based.4

    A leading scholar on the resurrection and apologist William Lane Craig reports,


    There is a widespread consensus among New Testament critics that the disciples did see "appearances of Jesus" after his death, and a considerable number interpret these appearances in terms of the bodily resurrection and appearances of Jesus.5

    Whatever they may think of the historical resurrection, even the most skeptical scholars admit that at least the belief that Jesus rose from the dead lay at the very heart of the earliest Christian faith. In fact, the earliest believers pinned nearly everything on it.6

    Luke Timothy Johnson cuts to the chase,

    A truer estimate of the number of participants who met regularly, wrote papers, and voted on decisions is closer to forty. The Seminar’s climactic publication, The Five Gospels, lists seventy-four "fellows" of the seminar. The numbers alone suggest that any claim to represent "scholarship" or the "academy" is ludicrous. . . . the roster of fellows by no means represents the cream of New Testament scholarship in this country. . . . Forty of the seventy-four fellows listed by The Five Gospels received their doctorates from five schools: Claremont, Vanderbilt, Harvard, Chicago, and Union Theological Seminary.8 (this is in reference to the Jesus Seminar)
    And lastly, here is a link to one of Craig's best articles on the subject and on the consensus: http://www.leaderu.com/truth/1truth22.html

    If you are interested in and appreciate the works of Bultmann, then you will enjoy the read, my friend.
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    Re: Whether or not the Resurrection of Christ is a tenable or even strong proof

    I'm not sure I understand the context of this debate. Are we debating the historicity of the resurrection itself? Or are we assuming that the resurrection happened and debating the merits of this occurrence and how it confirms God's existence?

    If it's the former, it's really absurd to point to an empty tomb and accounts by his devoted acolytes that they saw him as evidence that Jesus really was resurrected. I don't think anyone can possibly hope to prove that Jesus never died. Not having a body to point to as evidence that the person in question never died and was whisked away to heaven is, well, simply ridiculous.

    If it's the latter, then I'm really confused. If we first have to assume that God raised Jesus from the dead then wonder whether or not his doing so is evidence of his existence... I don't know. That's about as circular as you can get.

    Can you restate your position and supporting conditions, please? I feel like I'm clearly missing something here.

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    Re: Whether or not the Resurrection of Christ is a tenable or even strong proof

    I will refer back to the passage below, a few times in this post.

    Segal, extended passage from my previous post

    I believe the whole enterprise of trying to prove that the resurrection is a historical fact is a category mistake. First of all, it does no good to argue that the consensus of NT scholars who have dealt with the problem of the resurrection actually agree that it was a literal resurrection of transformed flesh. I am not sure that such a claim is even valid. No evidence is adduced to this effect, but even supposing its truth, one must take as important the casual comment that Ludemann would be much happier if he left the field. This only underlines the obvious fact that there exists a group of scholars who are hostile to any other conclusion than that of literal resurrection. Under the circumstances, it is difficult to demonstrate that scholarly disinterestedness has been maintained. The scholars who are mentioned as part of this consensus not only are believers but also have a similar notion of faith, perhaps not entirely unfairly characterized by Dom Crossan as "elegant fundamentalism."

    This small scholarly consensus - really a school of scholarship - is beside the point because the vast majority of modern historians looking at the very same story would say that no evidence at all would ever demonstrate that a unique resurrection took place.
    Quote Originally Posted by Lukecash12 View Post
    I didn't reply to Rockondon's arguments concerning the birth of Jesus because the birth of Jesus is a different event than the death and resurrection of Jesus. I'm not to be required to answer for the historical accuracy of the Gospels concerning His birth, am I?
    Fair enough. If anything, Rockondon's point reflects Ehrman's point, regarding the general unreliability of the gospels. I do, however, recognize that his particular point was more or less off-topic. If anything, I was interested in your take on it.

    It's interesting that you cite Bart Ehrman and Alan F. Segal as if you can then say the consensus is in your favor.
    I think you misunderstood my reason for citing Ehrman. Did you watch the video? Ehrman doesn't say anything about the consensus of historians, per se. He merely states what historians cannot do, when it comes to assessing the resurrection. It is Segal (above) who says that the vast majority of historians agrees with Ehrman on this matter.

    Why don't we look at actual works made in order to find and tally the consensus?
    I think you also misunderstood my claim. I quoted Segal, to demonstrate where the vast majority of historians stand on the resurrection. Unfortunately, then, some of your references are quite irrelevant to my point.

    I'd also refer you to the comments of these scholars on the critical consensus:

    D. H. Van Daalen has remarked,

    it is difficult to object to the fact of the empty tomb on historical grounds; most objectors do so on the basis of theological or philosophical considerations. More New Testament scholars are honestly dealing with these empirical facts.2
    1) You cite this, as if they have something to do with consensus. Yet, I see nothing here dealing with consensus.

    2) Daalen talks about the empty tomb - not where "the vast majority of historians" stand specifically on the resurrection.

    Jacob Kremer is a specialist in resurrection research. He states,

    By far, most exegetes hold firmly . . . to the reliability of the biblical statements about the empty tomb.3
    Does "most exegetes" equal the vast majority of historians? Segal (above) speaks specifically about the latter.

    Fourth, liberal scholars have changed their minds about Jesus' appearances to his disciples. The late Norman Perrin, a liberal scholar, wrote,

    The more we study the tradition with regard to the appearances, the firmer the rock begins to appear upon which they are based. 4
    Where is the statement on consensus? I see nothing here about a consensus, majority, most or anything of that nature.

    A leading scholar on the resurrection and apologist William Lane Craig reports,

    There is a widespread consensus among New Testament critics that the disciples did see "appearances of Jesus" after his death, and a considerable number interpret these appearances in terms of the bodily resurrection and appearances of Jesus.5
    I sense tomfoolery. First, there is the problem of citing NT critics, as opposed to the vast majority of historians, as Segal (above) notes.

    Also, even New Testament critics like Bart Ehrman accept that the disciples experienced "appearances of Jesus" (Ehrman he calls them visions). That is not the same as interpreting such appearances in terms of bodily resurrection. Notice how Craig does not claim that there exists a consensus in favor of that notion.

    Whatever they may think of the historical resurrection, even the most skeptical scholars admit that at least the belief that Jesus rose from the dead lay at the very heart of the earliest Christian faith.
    Obviously, this does nothing to demonstrate the consensus in question.

    In fact, the earliest believers pinned nearly everything on it.6
    I'll revisit this later. For now, I'll note that the same objection above applies here.

    Luke Timothy Johnson cuts to the chase,

    A truer estimate of the number of participants who met regularly, wrote papers, and voted on decisions is closer to forty. The Seminarís climactic publication, The Five Gospels, lists seventy-four "fellows" of the seminar. The numbers alone suggest that any claim to represent "scholarship" or the "academy" is ludicrous. . . . the roster of fellows by no means represents the cream of New Testament scholarship in this country. . . . Forty of the seventy-four fellows listed by The Five Gospels received their doctorates from five schools: Claremont, Vanderbilt, Harvard, Chicago, and Union Theological Seminary.8 (this is in reference to the Jesus Seminar)
    What, exactly, is Johnson "cutting to the chase" about? I see absolutely nothing here about the consensus amongst historians on the resurrection.

    Anyway, since there is often much confusion regarding how the Seminar relates to scholarly consensus, check this out:

    Jesus Seminar & Its Critics, Robert J. Miller

    Nearly all critics of the Jesus Seminar object, some of them strenuously, to the notion that the Seminar's views reflect a consensus among New Testament scholars./1/ It may help if I express my understanding of what the Seminar claims. I am confident that my understanding is shared by nearly everyone in the Seminar. I have never understood our claim to speak for scholars to mean that most scholars agree with our specific findings or even with all of our methods. (Not even members of the Seminar agree on these.) What I do understand it to mean is that the Seminar's fundamental views about the gospels --- that some of the words attributed to Jesus were not actually spoken by him; that the gospels contain historical memory from before Calvary and religious interpretation from after it; that they are, to put it bluntly, a complex blend of fact and fiction; and that to discover the historical Jesus we need a critical sifting of evidence rather than theological assurances --- that these views do represent the consensus among critical scholars. This is not news to scholars, but it is to the American public. A huge number of Americans believe that inerrancy is the only legitimate approach to the Bible, that to take the Bible seriously is to take it literally. (According to a recent poll, 40% of Americans believe that Jesus will return to earth in the next few decades.)

    Critics are right to protest that many scholars disagree with the Seminar's results, but they do a disservice if they perpetuate the mistaken impression that doubts about the historical accuracy of significant portions of the gospels are confined to some allegedly radical "splinter group."

  17. #17
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    Re: Whether or not the Resurrection of Christ is a tenable or even strong proof

    Quote Originally Posted by Spartacus View Post
    1.) Throughout history no one, not even the Jewish adversaries of Jesus, denied that Jesus the man ever existed. Therefore Jesus, the man existed.
    While I agree that Jesus existed you cannot deduce the latter statement from the former alone.

    Quote Originally Posted by Spartacus View Post
    2.) In the first decades after the execution of Jesus, His Apostles and their followers were persecuted, hunted down and even killed. "The Way" as it was called then was outlawed both by Roman and Jewish authorities.
    Roman persecution of Christianity is vastly exaggerated. Even as late as Tacitus they still clearly have only the loosest idea of exactly what a Christian is. In any case, we know that throughout Roman history "illegal" cults were tolerated so long as they weren't too public about it (the Bacchants and Elusian mysteries for instance).

    As for Jewish persecution, again, in the light of the first Jewish rebellion we have to seriously question the social cohesion of Jewish persecution of religious blasphemy. They were at best divided into three warring factions with serious power by the time they were being besieged by the Romans and the Sicarii/Zealot divide and violent opposition has its origin with a couple years of the rebellion.

    Quote Originally Posted by Spartacus View Post
    3.) None of the 12 Apostles ever recanted the story of Jesus' resurrection, not even under torture or facing imminent death. Had one recanted it is certain that either the Jews or Romans would have used this to counter the Apostles. Yet, through Josephus and other contemporaries no mention is ever made of any of the 12 ever recanting.
    You vastly overstate the significance of Christianity to Jews and Romans once again. Josephus mentions just James in one paragraph as a trivial bit of side information, not one other Christian is referred to specifically. Off the top of my head I can't think of a single other contemporary that isn't Christian that mentions a single one of the apostles. Once again putting the lie to your opinion that Jews and Romans would've cared enough to go out of their way look for recanting of Christians. Indeed by Pliny the Younger we know it had become standard practice for someone to have to be publicly decried by another man as a Christian (that is to say an anonymous declaration wouldn't be looked into whatsoever) and even then they'd simply be asked if they were a Christian, if they said no (even if they confessed to previously being one) they were free to go.

    This is not in the character of something the Romans took as an even remotely important issue, indeed Pliny (and by extension Trajan) regards it as an aggravating issue that people are trying to use the label Christian to settle scores.

    Quote Originally Posted by Spartacus View Post
    4.) The Apsotles did not pursue or gain wealth or political power. They were despised, persecuted.
    So they actually believed in what they were doing? The bible itself gives us a tradition in the Jewish community that the body of Jesus was stolen, so what if some of the apostles upon hearing the body was missing believed Jesus was risen? That they believed it, does not make it true.


    Quote Originally Posted by Spartacus View Post
    Something very powerful happened to motivate the 12 Apostles and their followers. This shared experience and belief kept them dedicated to their task despite many if not most of them being separated from their fellows over many years without benefit of phone, email, or even reliable mail service.
    And in the wake of this the Christian faith fragmented into dozens of different traditions about what exactly had happened with Jesus, from the diehard Gnostic Christians on the one side who believed he was little more than an apparition on earth, to the opposite end of Christians who questioned his divinity.

    Quote Originally Posted by Spartacus View Post
    The Apostles tell us this experience was witnessing Jesus' resurrected. If one believes in God, why doubt this? What would they -- all 12 -- have to gain by holding to this if it were not true? One can see where a small number of men might hold to a shared "delusion" or "fabrication". But to say 12 or more would hold to such an "untruth" -- with no apparent earthly motivation to do so -- stretches credibility.
    No they don't. Our first record of physically resurrected Christ is Mark, and the physically resurrected bit is a late addition of an unknown date. At best we have the empty tomb. Paul's listing of his appearance to the apostles is cheapened by the fact that he makes no difference with his own which clearly a "vision" rather than a physical appearance. We know they believed he was risen, and we have later traditions of their deaths attesting to this fact. We do not have ANY information from the other side of this during the entire period of early Christian expansion because, as I said, in all probability it really wasn't that big a deal to them.

    Quote Originally Posted by Spartacus View Post
    The Mormon Joseph Smith tried to emulate this by supposedly showing 12 men the alleged golden tablets in which the Book of Mormon was allegedly written. But under sworn testimony and much pressure a number of these 12 recanted. Likewise similar "apostates" and other truths unsavory to an emerging religion's adherents have sprung up. For example the founder of Jehova's Witnesses demonstrating in open court in Canada that he could not indeed read ancient Greek as he claimed. Yet there is no such incident recorded in antiquity. Had such a thing occurred it is probable such an event would have indeed been put to great use by Roman and Jewish propagandists. Yet we find none.
    No such courts nor easily demonstrable points of literacy can be provided in the ancient world. We have no record of the opposition in the first century, and nearly exhaustively in the second century our record of opposition is in Christian's own writing defending themselves against others claims about their faith.

    ---------- Post added at 02:39 AM ---------- Previous post was at 02:29 AM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by rockondon View Post
    I don't think a unicorn named Bob ever existed but it would be pretty silly of me to write historical accounts to support Bob's nonexistence.
    Well no, but if you were writing polemics against the religion of Bob, then one would think mentioning his non-existence would be of some importance to you.

    Quote Originally Posted by rockondon View Post
    Jesus' existence was never STATED by his contemporaries either. It appears that nobody during Jesus' lifetime felt that he was worth writing about. This includes Philo, who was writing an account of the Jews at that time and would have been present for the supposed miracles, and Justus of Tiberius who was from the same country as Jesus (Galilee) and lived at the same time but chose not to include any mention of such a spectacular being. I could provide a long list of other historians of that era who chose not to write about Jesus either.
    Philo was by a large an abstract philosopher and theologian and a historian of the rising political tensions. The vast bulk of his works were commentaries on Jewish sacred texts and even then conservative estimates are that we have as little as a third of all that he wrote. In any case his writing style was reasonably specific and focussed, he'd have little to no reason to mention this man, certainly he has no long lists of other Jewish would-be religious leaders. Not the Egyptian Jew (who had a far more significant impact on Jewish-Roman relations and yet we don't even know his name), not any of the rebellions future leaders, nor any other that Josephus mentions.

    As for Justus of Tiberius his works do not survive in any more than sporadic quotes. The only real information we have about him is one of the Church fathers remarking its a shame that he never discussed Jesus specifically, something easily explained by the relative unimportance of Christians to Jews during the first century.

    Quote Originally Posted by rockondon View Post
    Its funny that you consider the majority of people on earth as a "tiny number of people."

    Even the bible itself casts doubt on Jesus' existence:

    Jesus was born on or before 4BCE, because Herod died 4BCE.

    Matthew 2
    2:1 Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem,

    And Jesus was born on or after 6CE, because Cyrenius became governor of Syria on 6CE:

    Luke2:2 And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria. 2:3 And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. 2:4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David 2:5 To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.

    So Jesus was born before 4 BCE and born after 6CE?
    Irrelevant, historical errors in terms of specific dates are abound in ancient historical works, one mistake in a birth date does not destroy any chance of Jesus having existed, particularly when his birth is one of the stories about his life that it's most easy to dismiss as fabrication.

    ---------- Post added at 02:58 AM ---------- Previous post was at 02:39 AM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by rockondon View Post
    All those sources were written after Jesus' supposed death. If Jesus truly was this miraculous being there should have been tons of contemporary sources attesting to his existence.
    Nonsense, Jerusalem was at that time an area of serious social upheaval, we have next to no information about the whole area bar what has come down to us through Philo and Josephus. Josephus DOES mention him, and Philo would've had little reason to do so (as it was, so did Josephus, we're just fortunate he enjoyed going off on non-stop tangents about anything he happened to find interesting).

    Quote Originally Posted by rockondon View Post
    Josephus did not write about Jesus.
    Yes he did...

    Quote Originally Posted by rockondon View Post
    Josephus has mentioned many people named Jesus and Joshua in his writings, such as one Jesus in this work being the brother of James, but the only time there is mention of Jesus being the Christ is in the Testimonium Flavianum.
    Talking about James the brother of Jesus is pretty much the same thing as mentioning Jesus. For instance if I told you about George the brother of Billy, one can safely assume I'm fairly sure that Billy exists as well as George.

    Quote Originally Posted by rockondon View Post
    There are many reasons why Josephus' supposed Testimonium Flavianum ("Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man;...He was [the] Christ..." etc) is well known as an obvious forgery.
    Well this'll be fun.

    Quote Originally Posted by rockondon View Post
    The Testimonium was written in a different style and using a different vocabulary than the rest of Josephus' work ("Antiquities of the Jews").
    Patently untrue, almost every word used in the Testimonium appears elsewhere, the only violation in style is the brevity with which he treats the issue, something ludicrous to accuse Christians of.

    Quote Originally Posted by rockondon View Post
    Squeezed in a chapter between stories of massacres of his countrymen is this completely unrelated passage, professing faith to Jesus. Josephus was a Jewish historian who believed in Vespassian as the messiah, and he writes a passage professing Jesus as christ? I don't think so.
    A passage can be edited without being a fabrication. In any case, it is perfectly in keeping with Josephus' style to go off on a tangent about something not altogether relevant, hell he goes off on a tangent of a few thousand words just describing how a Roman camp is structured, and then again about one river that runs near Jerusalem. Tangents on individuals is far from out of keeping with Josephus' style, and the only people that accuse him of otherwise are those who haven't read Josephus.

    Quote Originally Posted by rockondon View Post
    The subsequent paragraph ended with a reference to "another outrage," this train of thought is interrupted with the Testimonium, following it comes the outrage he was referring to.
    But again, within the context of Josephus' work as a whole, it makes perfect sense.

    Quote Originally Posted by rockondon View Post
    Its brevity. Josephus has written entire chapters about magistrates, horse thieves, etc - yet the most spectacular being that ever lived is only worth a few sentences. For example, he wrote over twice as much about John the Baptist.
    So your accusing Christians of fabricating it, because they didn't spend enough time talking about him... brilliant.

    Quote Originally Posted by rockondon View Post
    The ancient table of contents that summarizes the work, written by a christian, fails to mention the Testimonium. Such a remarkable passage - not even worth a mention?
    The testimonium's use as a Christian text is ONLY useful as a proof of his existence because of its brevity, given noone questioned his existence, why would they dwell on this all the time.

    Quote Originally Posted by rockondon View Post
    During their controversies against Jewish opponents, no christian has ever cited the Testimonium, written by a jewish historian no less, until after Eusebius (a 4th century christian bishop known for forgery) got his hands on it.

    In fact, no one has ever quoted the Testimonium until Eusebius got his hands on it. As soon as he did make it public, it was cited innumerable times.
    So what?

    Quote Originally Posted by rockondon View Post
    At least 11 Christian church followers cited the work before Eusebius got his hands on it, but not one of them mentioned the Testimonium.

    Origen, who quoted the work many times, including the chapter the Testimonium is in, never mentioned the Testimonium. Although he used the work to verify the existence of John the Baptist, how strange it would be that he didn't also use it to verify the existence of Jesus.
    Because noone ever questioned him about whether or not Jesus existed?

    Quote Originally Posted by rockondon View Post
    Which begs the question, why didn't contemporary writers write about him?

    ...

    Meanwhile, what I'm saying is something completely different. One would think that when historians are from the same time and place as Jesus and are able to witness Jesus' supposed miracles...they would write something about him. If you have a guy who can walk on water, feed thousands with a few fish and loaves of bread, come back from the dead, etc, why would you ignore all that and write about horse thieves and other mundane people instead
    See above

    ---------- Post added at 03:06 AM ---------- Previous post was at 02:58 AM ----------

    In any case, to add something constructive to this debate rather than simply rebutting I'm going to post a question.

    If I were to bring you 12 men and women, hell even if I were to bring you 500, all willing to testify to the grave that they had witnessed me die, and lie in a tomb for 3 days, and I too stood here telling you that. Further to this, each and every one of us is willing to die for that claim. Were this to happen, would you believe us? If not, why do you believe the same of 12 people whom we have only second hand testimony from 2,000 years ago.
    -=]Eliotitus[=-
    "Every saint has a past and every sinner has a future"- Oscar Wilde

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    Re: Whether or not the Resurrection of Christ is a tenable or even strong proof

    @Rockondon: If you've got an issue with Christians using the Testimonium Flavanium as an extra biblical source for the historicity of Christ, how about this jewel?

    Research on a recently discovered Arabic manuscript of Josephus supports the notion that he is responsible for the majority of the passage. Schlomo Pines, a professor at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, found that the Arabic version did not contain the questionable phrases. The Arabic version reads as follows:

    At this time there was a wise man who was called Jesus. And his conduct was good and (he) was known to be virtuous. And many people from among the Jews and other nations became his disciples. Pilate condemned him to be crucified and to die. And those who had become his disciples did not abandon his discipleship. They reported that he had appeared to them three days after his crucifixion and that he was alive; accordingly he was perhaps the messiah concerning whom the prophets have recounted wonders.(2)
    http://www.consider.org/library/earlyref.htm

    What's more, you can't raise the same objections to this part of the text:

    In the only other passage in which Jesus is mentioned, Josephus simply refers to Him as the brother of James.

    Festus was now dead, and Albinus was but upon the road; so he assembled the sanhedrim of judges, and brought before them the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James.(3)

    This passage does not call Jesus the Christ. In fact, the way Josephus refers to Jesus in this passage as the so-called Christ is derogatory. Because of this, just as most scholars believe the first passage could not have been written by a Jew, they do not believe this passage could have been written by a Christian. Therefore, the second passage is generally accepted as authentic.

    In the second passage, Josephus mentions Jesus as a way of introducing the reader to Jesus’ brother James. This implies that Jesus has already been introduced to the reader. Because of this, and the fact that it is unlikely that Christians would have been able to alter the Arabic version of Josephus, most scholars now accept that the first passage was not added, but has only been altered. These two passages provide a non-Christian witness to the fact that Jesus did at least exist, and that the major events recorded in the Gospels (that he was crucified by Pilate and was reported to have risen three days later) are basically correct.
    Otherwise, I think that the argument is left in good hands, concerning whether or not Jesus existed in the first place.
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    Re: Whether or not the Resurrection of Christ is a tenable or even strong proof

    Quote Originally Posted by rockondon View Post
    The Testimonium was written in a different style and using a different vocabulary than the rest of Josephus' work
    Quote Originally Posted by eliotitus View Post
    Patently untrue, almost every word used in the Testimonium appears elsewhere,
    So when you admit that ALMOST every word appears elsewhere it is just another way of saying that some of the Testimonium is different than the rest of his work. You just agreed with my point.
    Incidentally, of course we would expect most of the Testimonium to be harmonious with Josephus' style and vocabulary when it is plagiarized. Would you expect a plagiarist to write in a different language or something? Your rebuttal is like saying a hundred dollar bill is not counterfeit because most of it looks like a real one, just ignore the parts that show that its fake.
    the only violation in style is the brevity with which he treats the issue, something ludicrous to accuse Christians of.
    So your rebuttal then is to look at all the violations, choose the one you think you can defend (brevity), and pretend the others don't exist.
    As you like to say....brilliant.

    Josephus, whom believed in Vespasian as the Messiah, and whom happened to be a Jew working under Romans, supposedly squeezes in this irrelevant passage that names Jesus as the Christ in his book. When tallying all the obvious reasons why that is absurd, don't forget that making that claim would make him suspect for treason.

    A passage can be edited without being a fabrication.
    Ah yes, adding things like oh 'btw Jesus is the Christ' and claiming them to be the words of someone who believed the opposite is what you consider an 'edit.'

    In any case, it is perfectly in keeping with Josephus' style to...
    ...set himself up for treason and write things that are the opposite of what he believed. I'm so sure.

    Quote Originally Posted by rockondon View Post
    During their controversies against Jewish opponents, no christian has ever cited the Testimonium, written by a jewish historian no less, until after Eusebius (a 4th century christian bishop known for forgery) got his hands on it.

    In fact, no one has ever quoted the Testimonium until Eusebius got his hands on it. As soon as he did make it public, it was cited innumerable times.
    Quote Originally Posted by eliotitus View Post
    So what?
    Do I really need to explain this? Really? It would be patronizing to do so.

    If I were to bring you 12 men and women, hell even if I were to bring you 500, all willing to testify to the grave that they had witnessed me die, and lie in a tomb for 3 days, and I too stood here telling you that. Further to this, each and every one of us is willing to die for that claim. Were this to happen, would you believe us? If not, why do you believe the same of 12 people whom we have only second hand testimony from 2,000 years ago.
    If one group said that you were, as you described, a magic zombie, and a second group said you were just a regular guy, I would be more inclined to believe the second group for obvious reasons.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lukecash12 View Post
    @Rockondon: If you've got an issue with Christians using the Testimonium Flavanium as an extra biblical source for the historicity of Christ, how about this jewel?
    http://www.consider.org/library/earlyref.htm
    That site states "The real question is: Did Josephus write any of it, or is the entire passage a forgery?" which is pretty much the same position I have.

    In any case, all this talk about Josephus is more or less off topic and I don't wish to sidetrack this thread any further.

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    Re: Whether or not the Resurrection of Christ is a tenable or even strong proof

    I have no doubt a man named Jesus existed,,,, whether he was inspired like Bhudda, or more than that? No idea any more.

    But, why does it matter?

    Whether there was a literal Christ or a figurative one,,,, why would it make a difference in what either he, or the legend of him, in how we veiw the message attributed to hiim?

    If one could prove, he didnt exist, wouldnt his teachings still have meaning to our humanity? Vice versa?

    I am not a paciffist, nor do I believe that the Dali Lama is any thing but a mortal man,,,,,, but I still listen and usually agree with what he says.

 

 
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