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Jesus In The Nt


thormas
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I remember during the days I was interested in the "historical Jesus" reading some claim that he was in India at some point. Convincing? No, but the book shelves groaned more deeply.

 

Seriously, for better or worse I actually read through the thread I linked, and must say how relevant much of it was with regard to the "Pistis Christou" thread and its "alternatives".

 

You might enjoy the Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Jesus's Childhood Pal by Christopher Moore. It is novel based primarily on the time Jesus "went missing" from Childhood to his crucifixion ... basically chronicles his travels through the Eastern cultures. A bit raunchy, The story treats Jesus respectfully, but everyone around him is less than "perfect". If you liked Douglas Adams you may well enjoy this novel.

 

I could not believe an American could write in a humour style that was so English.

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You might enjoy the Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Jesus's Childhood Pal by Christopher Moore. It is novel based primarily on the time Jesus "went missing" from Childhood to his crucifixion ... basically chronicles his travels through the Eastern cultures. A bit raunchy, The story treats Jesus respectfully, but everyone around him is less than "perfect". If you liked Douglas Adams you may well enjoy this novel.

 

I could not believe an American could write in a humour style that was so English.

Thanks Rom, I have downloaded a sample and will give that a go.

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Well, that is what I think and why I thunk it. It's just my opinion. The guy gets invited to fancy weddings and brings the wine. Not rich and not poor. Middle class.

 

What is your opinion?

 

OK, didn't know it was opinion.

 

For the fishermen and followers of Jesus, I always 'assumed' they were lower class and especially when they happen upon a rich man or tell a story of one, it sees a big deal. Plus, the followers of Jesus seem to have a boat or two among them, not a dynasty. Plus, we never hear of them being rich, being moneyed. Who knows.

 

As for weddings, don't you know stories or have had the experience of someone of a completely different 'station in life' being at a wedding of someone of a higher class? Or, he might have already been known and invited??

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Writers outside of the scriptures contemporary to Jesus.

Ehrman must mentions them in his book, for example Josephus. Actually more a contemporary of Mark and, I guess, Paul, having fought in the Jewish Wars before his capture.

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Ehrman must mentions them in his book, for example Josephus. Actually more a contemporary of Mark and, I guess, Paul, having fought in the Jewish Wars before his capture.

 

Yep ... I will give you Josephus. He was born just after Jesus's death ... I gather he did not write that much and at least some of what was written is contested as his?

 

Not exactly Bernstein and Woodward. Any other contemporary references?

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Yep ... I will give you Josephus. He was born just after Jesus's death ... I gather he did not write that much and at least some of what was written is contested as his?

 

Not exactly Bernstein and Woodward. Any other contemporary references?

 

There are obvious 'inclusions' from a later Christian writer but enough to suggest, perhaps establish the existence of the man.

 

Others, will have to check, it's been a while.

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There are obvious 'inclusions' from a later Christian writer but enough to suggest, perhaps establish the existence of the man.

 

Others, will have to check, it's been a while.

 

Don't get me wrong, It is awhile since I read Did Jesus Exist, Bart if I recall correctly believed he was 90 % certain Jesus existed. While I am not sure how he could calculate such a number, I get his drift. Having said that, this is not an issue for me. Nor is the historicity of the NT. While I think it is poor and should be taken with a pinch of salt; the point for me is what where the later scribes trying to say and what in their environment that was causing them to say what they did.

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Writers outside of the scriptures contemporary to Jesus.

Flavius Josephus, "Antiquities of the Jews", circa 90 AD, is the best extant account.

 

Book 18, chap.3,3 . . . Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man; for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews and many of the Gentiles. He was [the] Christ. And when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him; for he appeared to them alive again the third day; as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him. And the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day.

 

Book 20, chap. 9,1. . . 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, and some others, [or, some of his companions] . . .

 

The disputes are minimal. Were later marginal notes or glosses transcribed as part of the manuscript, would Jewish Josephus really use the term Christ, &c but it is generally agreed that the key parts of Josphus are correct.

 

Roman consuls kept detailed records. That corpus is missing entirely today. It is doubtful Josephus would have falsified his history - against his own interests - while contradictory official records existed.

Edited by Burl
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You demonstrate my point Burl ... any more contemporary evidence corroborating the accounts in the New Testament?

No. Please continue your non-evidentiary argument from silence.

 

As silently as possible, please. Other people are trying to think.

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Don't get me wrong, It is awhile since I read Did Jesus Exist, Bart if I recall correctly believed he was 90 % certain Jesus existed. While I am not sure how he could calculate such a number, I get his drift. Having said that, this is not an issue for me. Nor is the historicity of the NT. While I think it is poor and should be taken with a pinch of salt; the point for me is what where the later scribes trying to say and what in their environment that was causing them to say what they did.

 

I think the vast majority of critical scholars accept that the man Jesus of Nazareth existed - that one is closed for me as I have seen nothing to refute the NT, outside sources and the movement in his name after his death.

As for the NT, I accept that there are 'kernels' of fact or history that one can and have been lifted out, but I do not believe the gospels are history or biography as commonly understood - or at all. I also think it is accepted that, for example Mark, was writing about Jesus before his audience around 30 CE and was also writing to his audience in 70 CE. The interesting thing for some of us is to try to 'see' what's what. And the beat goes on.

 

However it is also obvious that Christian faith is not tied to the 'the search for the historical Jesus' but rather to the continued 'presence of the Christ of faith.' Not for all but for many.

Edited by thormas
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When I am asked the question on whether I believe Jesus actually historically existed or not my answer is , i do not know. While i have no reason to disbelieve he did, it seems to me one can spend a lifetime buried in such research and still come short of anything other than ones opinion unless one was living at the time or the contemporary evidence was overwhelming which it seems to me not to be. However, i am convinced that teachings exist that are attributed to Jesus whether accurately or not I do not know. But this I know, some of them ( the teachings ), after being applied to my mental life seem to bring forth a perceived deeper level of peace, joy and the absence of guilt in a reality that i find favorable to abide in.

Joseph

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but I do not believe the gospels are history or biography as commonly understood - or at all.

 

So accepting that the NT is not "history" ... which is fine. So what were the later scribes trying to tell their contemporaries back then?

 

The historicity of Jesus or the degree of historicity is not an issue, at least for me.

 

The question becomes is the NT (and other religious texts) a useful source of metaphors in today's world? Or are we just interpreting the texts through the lens of contemporary values?

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When I am asked the question on whether I believe Jesus actually historically existed or not my answer is , i do not know. While i have no reason to disbelieve he did, it seems to me one can spend a lifetime buried in such research and still come short of anything other than ones opinion unless one was living at the time or the contemporary evidence was overwhelming which it seems to me not to be. However, i am convinced that teachings exist that are attributed to Jesus whether accurately or not I do not know. But this I know, some of them ( the teachings ), after being applied to my mental life seem to bring forth a perceived deeper level of peace, joy and the absence of guilt in a reality that i find favorable to abide in.

Joseph

 

Too true Joseph. There is minuscule/no evidence to prove Jesus' existence or even if he did exist, who he really was or what he did/said. I am sure so much has been lost, changed, mistranslated, interfered with and discarded since any actual life.

 

However, if what it purported as his teachings work for you/us/others personally, well if they cause no harm to another, then I reckon it' all good.

 

As we know, it so often becomes about people telling others what they have to do, have to believe, where they will go if they don't follow suit, etc. That's the harm that comes from Christianity in my opinion. I wish all Christians approached Christianity like you do, for the sake of our species.

Edited by PaulS
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I disagree that there is minuscule /no evidence to prove Jesus existence or even if he did exist (not sure what the different is for you). There is not enough time or space to review but there is 'evidence' in the research of critical scholars. Whereas reading the works of those who consider Jesus a myth does not hold its argument. However, as in all things, all are entitled to their opinions.

 

It is certainly valid to say that "much has been lost, changed, mistranslated, interfered with and discarded......." And the interest, education and effort of scholars is to delve into that and see what might be there. As an example I have just discovered one scholar who has been around for decades. Paula Fredriksen, 'Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews' and it is fascinating. Another is Dale Allison, another Luke Timothy Johnson - but, again, this kind of reading (like certain other kinds) is not the interest of all and it does demand time and focus. Be that as it may...................

 

However, as one scholar said, Christianity is not faith in the historical Jesus (though this statement assumes his existence), it is faith in the Resurrected Christ and his continuing 'presence.' But that is a whole other thread.

 

As for Christians, I guess the followers of many/all religions and philosop[phies are responsible for causing or (passively) allowing harm to others. I know Buddhism was split in Japan, some supporting the militaristic path, others opposing it.

 

At least on this site, no one is telling anyone what they have to do- just expressing positions, sometimes giving support for those positions, other times just stating and moving forward. On this subject, the weight of evidence leans toward the fact of Jesus' existence.

Edited by thormas
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The question becomes is the NT (and other religious texts) a useful source of metaphors in today's world? Or are we just interpreting the texts through the lens of contemporary values?

 

Seems we are doing both: a source of metaphors is only useful if we interpret and allow them to have value in our present. This way, the ancient words have a real Presence, an influence on now.

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Genesis In Space and Time: The Flow of Biblical History

(1972)

tschaeffer.jpg

Summary The historicity of the Bible was always a central tenet of Schaeffer's thinking. If God did not create the world and man in real space-time as described in Genesis, then Christianity is no different than any other cultural myth or existential leap. The questions of the world and it's form, and man and his "mannishness" can only be answered sufficiently if God is there, has acted in space-time and the Bible is the accurate, historical record of those actions.

 

Above we have the thoughts of the Christian thinker/evangelist Francis Schaeffer. Those thoughts are very much expanded upon in his many books. He appears to represent a very fundamentalist strand of Christianity.

 

Way back I read one of those books, "The God Who is There". In that book Mr Schaeffer spoke of his attempted evangelisation of a female university student. He told of how she had eventually attempted to take her own life having been so disturbed by what had been said. Francis Schaeffer then said that "even had she succeeded, I would treat the next person exactly the same". This because "Christianity is true".

 

Reading such things was the beginning of the end of my allegiance to Christianity. As I see it, Mr Schaeffer is in fact correct in stating that if the claims of Christianity that God has acted in "Time/Space History" are not true, then there is no fundamental uniqueness in Christianity.

 

I would say that this involves the historical validity of the Gospels.

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Tariki,

 

This guy, who is missing a few wingnuts (thanks Burl) and indeed a fundamentalist, is easy (and necessary) for Christians to dismiss. However, one can dismiss a literal take on Genesis/Creation and still believe, as one theologian put it, that 'Being/God' although prior or beyond (I know temporal/spatial language) to time and space, creates and acts in time and space as the 'occasion' where humanity encounters Divinity. I will have to get the reference, I think I know who it is but want to be sure.

 

Judaism believes the same, as I guess does Islam (same God) and each has their fundamentalists and progressives. As for other religions and philosophies, don't know.

Unique in this insight? No!

Unique as understanding the Way? No!

Unique in and of itself? Yes - as are the other ways.

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Thormas, you finish with my own position i.e. that each faith is "unique". Mr Schaeffer's position seems to be that Christianity is uniquely unique ( ! ) and VERY true.

 

Again, for me, each person is unique and can get lost within our seeing a Faith.

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Without a shred of doubt, the strongest line of thought in Christianity is that if one does not believe Jesus was THE Son of God who came to earth to die for our sins, then that person deserves to be separated from God for all of eternity, which usually entails pain and suffering, weeping and gnashing of teeth, for ever, and ever, and ever.

 

I see this as probably one of the most harmful lines of thought to ever enter our human consciousness. One other major religion shares a similar thought - unsurprisingly I guess, a religion sprouted from a similar time and culture and which shares the same God.

 

Unfortunately it is a line of thought not only reserved for wingnuts, but by and large the bulk of the population of Christianity. It is a line of thought which I hope is wiped from humanity sooner rather than later for all the harm that it causes people.

 

Thormas, as you rightly point out there is not enough time or space to review the question of Jesus existence, so I'll let that be other than to note that we don't agree.

 

I certainly agree that Christianity is not the faith of a historical Jesus, although perhaps there are parts of it that do link to Jesus himself. Who really knows? Are people going to burn for eternity for not believing so - of course not, but don't ask my family that! :)

 

For me what it boils down to is that people can practice/believe whatever gets them through life and I'm good with that, but I don't like to see others hurt as a result.

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I'm a Christian and that seems to be 'old time religion.' For many it is more, much more nuanced.

 

Even with the recitation of our creeds, as a kid in the 50s and 60s, we understood good people came in all stripes. I can't remember the particulars but I believe even Vatican II in the 60s addressed this.

 

For many Christians, even if this 'belief' is still part of the official expression of their faith (and is it?) - many of them have friends who are not Christian: Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, atheists, agnostics, etc. and I know - if we asked, "are your friends good people?" and "can they 'know God' and share life with God, even if they're not Christians?" - many/most/all would give a resounding yes. Many times our experience or insights occur before creeds and authorities catch up.

 

There is a stark difference between fundamentalist and biblical literalists - and more moderate, or as this website acknowledges, progressive Christians. So, opinion aside, I would need facts and figures to support the statement that it is "a line of thought not only reserved for wingnuts, but by and large the bulk of the population of Christianity." Too sweeping a statement for any faith.

 

Not sure what we don't agree on regarding the existence of Jesus, especially since you go on to say that "there are parts of it (Christianity) that do link to Jesus himself." So they link to Jesus, so Jesus existed??

 

​Christianity would, of course, have to go beyond the historical Jesus, because it is born of the belief in the Resurrection of Jesus (which, by definition, could not be a historical event).

 

And of course people won't burn - so we agree that your family is wrong. As a matter of fact, one of the Fathers of the Church (circa 3rd C CE, I think) spoke as if all would be saved.

How's that for a new take on Christianity? And, btw, I think he is spot on.

Edited by thormas
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Thormas,

I am pleased eternal damnation is 'old time religion' for you and I agree that for many, Christianity is much more nuanced. But obviously I think those people are a minority within Christianity. Perhaps I am wrong. But with recent Gallup polling indicating that about 30% of the American population take the bible as the 'literal word of God', I am not encouraged by your opinion of it being a dated view for most.

 

Further, whilst I am not sure about Vat II in the 60's, the current Pope was recorded in an interview in 2014 saying that hell for the unsaved meant obliteration of the soul and not eternal damnation. This seemed to send shockwaves through the Catholic community, so I suspect that this has not been the official position before. Perhaps a lesser evil than eternal damnation and suffering, but still the threat that if you're not with the program, you won't be living in eternity with your loved ones. Catholicism is by far the largest denomination within Christianity (~1.2 billion - roughly half of Christianity, and about 3/4 of US Christians).

 

I don't mind that you don't agree, but I don't really have time to chase up statistics to prove my point to you. If I am wrong and it is not strictly a majority, then I will accept that it is a very high percentage and it certainly has been the position for the majority up until recent developments in maybe the last 50 or so years. Some ancient church fathers may have promoted universalism, but I think by and large the main message from Christianity for the past 1500 or so years has been turn or burn. I think there has been a 'softening' of that stance in recent decades because as a society we have developed and realised the lack of compassion that would have to exist for such an abomination to be part of the plan from an all-loving God.

 

Where I stand on the historical Jesus (I have also read Bart's book) - I think that he most likely existed as a real person in some way, shape or form, but I don't think we can rely on the bible or any other so called 'evidence' to prove this beyond all reasonable doubt. At best I would say that on the balance of probabilities a person named Jesus, who stirred some passion amongst people 2000 years ago in rural Palestine, is likely. Would I bet my life on it - no. Personally, I don't think there is enough to support the Jesus-myth point of view either.

 

Concerning Jesus teachings, I think that some of what is in the NT may have some substance from Jesus' original teachings/point of view, but again I wouldn't stake anything serious on it and I wouldn't be certain in any way exactly what Jesus was trying to say. But like Joseph wrote above, if the message speaks to somebody personally and offers them comfort/support/encouragement in life - all power to them.

 

I'm not sure what you mean by disregarding the resurrection of Jesus as not a historical event as many Christians do believe that there was a physical resurrection of Jesus which put him back into the world as a walking, talking person. Thus I think many would regard it as historical. Again, not everybody does, but many do.

 

I know I'm not going to burn - I don't share my family's religous beliefs. But there was harm done to me and many others when indoctrinating young children with this message and I hate that such continues on in the world today. Even if such people are well intended promoting their misguided beliefs, the harm is being done. I've unraveled that mess for me as an adult, but I know many haven't and a cursory search will show us how many people commit suicide because of this teaching. That's why I wish Christianity by and large was taken much more lightly. I think the world would be a better place.

 

Cheers

Paul

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So the question is for us Universalists..........can a wingnut be saved?

 

:D

 

 

Just maybe that is a serious question.

 

As I see it, once some thinker/scribe/believer choose to use the words "Chosen people" the die was cast. The written word was there. And as soon as the words are taken up and we choose to think that some are chosen and some others left, then crusades, inquisitions and existential fear will inevitably follow.

 

Calvin was mentioned earlier. I think he had it right in many ways. Pure election, amazing grace! Unfortunately he also had the written word that seemed to say that not all were elected/chosen. So the grace was not THAT amazing at all.

 

Pure Land Buddhism has no such written word, thus things can really become amazing. There is no obstruction except our hard hearts.

 

 

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