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The Historicity of Jesus?

Any Richard Carrier fans/amateur biblical scholars here? Any thoughts on the myth, the legend of the man and whether or not he was an actual historical figure?

Markus 7 Mar 22

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31 comments

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7

Check out the book "Nailed" by David Fitzgerald. There's very little chance he existed. There is next to 0 historical evidence.

I haven’t heard of that one. Thanks for the referral

7

I like Carrier and what he says makes sense to me. I've yet to hear an explanation for the existence of a flesh-and-blood Yeshua who inspired the gospels that sounded plausible. It seems that the argument in favor always boils down to the influence of the religion throughout the ages, with the assumption that it must have been based on a real person. But we'd never accept such flimsy evidence for anything else, so I remain unconvinced.

6

I like what Hitchens theory was:
There's a kind of obvious extra effort to explain why a Nazarene was the Messiah, the Bible claims the Romans called for a census so everyone had to go to their hometown. We have the Roman census records; they recorded everything. We know the census before and after the time of Christ, but there's no census in occupied territories from decades before or after the time of Christ except in specific territories, Gall comes to mind, which had no effect in Israel. There’s also no record whatsoever of the Romans requiring people to travel for any census, after all the point of a census is to find our who and how many live wherever they live. So the conspiracy theory aspect of Jesus being born in Jerusalem tends to make one think there may have been someone behind the story but it’s nothing more than a hypothesis.
I also like the theory that there was an early apocalyptic cult that drew enough of a following that the Romans noticed and later this cult would be useful in unifying Roman politics as there were always political intrigues between the priest of different Gods in Rome. First persecute and kill off all the people that KNOW what the original beliefs were while creating the religion the way the empire finds most useful then adopting it as the state religion, then consolidating it all in one epic review of scriptures establishing a means of controlling everyone from foreign Kings in occupied nations to slaves.
I can see how it’s probably a combination of both.

Thank you for repeating stuff I already knew, and demonstrating motivated reasoning.

@Druvius If it's stuff you already know then I didn't write it for you, you aren't that important.

Thanks Mortal. That fills in some gaps for me

Carrier argues that the Name was actually Jesus the Nazzorian, the meaning of which has been lost, but later Christians mistook it for Nazereth

5

I wonder what does the Vatican have? Maybe some answers there. But will the pope let anyone look?

@atheist The source on that Pope would help me fill in some gaps. I’ll Look around to see what I can find. Thanks.

5

After reading several books by various authors regarding the historicity of Jesus, I agree with Richard Carrier that while we can't know 100% for sure, Jesus, as portrayed in the bible, was likely born of myth. I've taken an online course taught by Carrier and read several of his books, including The Historicity of Jesus. I'm mostly in agreement with his work, but as a woman, I have a few quibbles with some statements he makes that seem sexist to me, although that does not negate the value of the bulk of his work.

I haven't heard that. Could you give an example?

5

Yes this topic has come up before and I've said before that I have read and watched him and like his work a lot. He is attacked quite a lot and on two fronts; obviously by Christians, by more stridently, it seems to me, by non religious historicists who believe there was a historical preacher that grew into the Jesus story. Authors like Bart Erhmann fall into this category. They attack the mythicist movement, I suppose not surprisingly since they write books telling us about the 'real Jesus' and along comes a movement by writers like Carrier who say the premise of their work is arguably wrong. Carrier is often characterised as saying that there was no historical figure at the centre of the Jesus story, but in fact what he says is there may be, but the evidence is so slight that in his opinion there wasn't.

As a student of history I like the fact that Carrier applies the strictest historical method to his work, he places the Jesus story so well within the prophecy, history, theology and mythology of the period from which it derives, and in debate he does a great job of neutralising phoney Christian claims, allegations, false history, and assumptions. He's also funny and entertaining, which is important if you want to teach history to general audiences, holding their interest.

3

Personally, I don't believe Jesus Christ was an actual person.

3

Yes i got to read many dutch thoughts and articles about it on freethinker.nl
And have a lot of ebooks concerning the myth

Thanks for this. I enjoyed watching it.

3

I watched a pretty long video on YouTube about this topic, it's the one I've found to be the most credible so far. It put forth a theory about josephus creating the character of Jesus for the Romans. Here's the link.

Yes I saw that awhile ago but couldn’t recall the name “Piso-Flavian” dynasty. Thanks for the vid

Thanks for posting this video. I was invited to read "Caesar's Messiah"by Joseph Atwill some time ago and never did - and your video prompted me to give it a listen. It's fascinating - though I'm only a third of the way through it. Definitely is a plausible presentation of the theory - and food for thought.

That was my deal, I gotta be able to research the facts of anything I read or watch.

Carrier covers this in On the historicity of Jesus, gives a compelling argument that Josephus never said a damn thing about him, later Christians just added a brief statement in the available space.

3

I find the Mythicist approach very plausible. I like Richard Carrier very much. I find it very interesting that Paul never mentions the ministry or teachings of Jesus. He seems to have no idea that Jesus was a real person.

3

Also, Carrier's a pretty nice guy to hang out with. I had the chance to do that recently and enjoyed our conversations a lot.

Lucky you. I'd love to meet him.

3

Thanks to Carrier's book, I'm pretty much agnostic on the issue. I've not read enough of other good [?] scholars on historicity to informedly settle my personal opinion yet. There's a lot of information, and it's no easy puzzle.

That being said, it's pretty clear that, no matter how you cut what's history or myth about Jesus, the majority of it is myth, and of what is myth, people were supposed to focus on the lessons of those myths originally, and should today, as well. So, I don't see the point in talking about a character fitting a primarily mythical role in a primarily mythical story as if the story and character were history. That bugs me about Christians.

Right now, I'm of the opinion that if a Christian wants to talk to me about possible mythical moral/life lessons from the bible, that's fine with me. Not all the moral ideas are bad. But if they start meandering into meta-physics or talking about it as history, I'm simply not buying it. Show me something stronger first, and stop talking like Jesus' ressurection is the most certain event in history; it isn't!

3

He very well might have been a man who did exist, but not as the bible says. Just as there was, infact, a giant flood that wasn't probably because God was shaking the etcha-sketch clean. I think he probably did exist, in some form, but that is as far as my belief goes.

What giant flood are you referring too?

@Fulishsage when the first ice age thawed, there is scientific evidence that it did create a giant flood similar to the one in the bible. I just think the bible was primative and, like all ancient people, couldn't explain it with science so they believed it was a god's vengance

I was wondering if you were talking about the Zanclean or Missoula type floods or if you were saying there was a worldwide flood. It's my field of study, so I'm always curious how people precieve things like this.

2

This question comes up allot. And I think it's a very appropriate one. Its also one that touches a lot of nerves with people, it seems. My personal belief is that the story and the character of the resurrecting Jesus is a mythological story. Not a historical telling of a factual person. And I think in the very early days it was intended to be fully understood as such. At least for those that were fully initiated into the religion. And that would be very consistent with other very similar mystery religions of the time. Somewhere along the way, in part through ignorance and in part as an intentional tactic of the church, the official doctrine became that the story must be understood as literal, factual and historical truth. And we know that there was some intentional, deceptive manipulation and forgery of records in an attempt to provide, at least some, historical basis.
The big thing for me is not just what I have learned about the bible. But what I have learned about the historical record of the events of the Roman empire at that time and in that place. It is remarkably rich. The Romans kept meticulous records, and just generally, they wrote a lot of stuff down for lots of reasons and those records have survived. I simply must conclude that if the character of Jesus were a real person, the historical record would contain many many many points of corroborating reference... And it just simply isn't there. Not convincingly. Not for me.

Yup. That’s where I am now with this. Allegorical story. An elaborate metaphor.

2

Gilgamesh.

Seems I’ve heard that story before. Hmmmm

2

From what I've been reading lately, there is no proof that an historical Jesus ever existed. The Romans were very good at documenting important persons and events. You would think that a person called Jesus, who walked on water, brought the dead back to life, and rose from the dead himself would have been big news. Yet, despite these incredible acts, there are no historical records of him. There are books of mythology called the "New Testament" that were written by unknown persons who did not live in the time of Jesus. Why is there no historical documentation about a person called Jesus?

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2

I am in no way any kind of an expert on the topic. I always thought Jesus got the shit end of the stick. It is also the reason his followers are, for the most part, Batshit selfish and crazy. The Buddha ,Gandhi among others did exist as ordinary people. No one here would argue that Ghandi was a historical figure who taught the world about commpasion. Many people here will argue over the existence of Jesus. Jesus , in my opinion, was just another enlightened man who taught the world about love, forgiveness and peace. Unfortunately, somehow he became the Son of God who is able to perform Miracles who died so we all can live in an afterlife after we're dead. Poor bastards meaninfull message , and purpose, has been lost in myth that he is the savior of the Earth and our souls.

2

I have the hard copy of book and have listened to the audibook about 3 times, also Hitler Homer Bible Christ, and Sense and Goodness without God.

The evidence makes perfect sense on Myth
It is very strange on History
The math and probabilities made my head hurt, but otherwise the content is fantastic. Most people, especially Christians have no clue how flawed their holy book is.

2

Great post - thank you. I learned about Carrier and enjoyed the conversation. This site is great!!!

Yes I learned a lot too and added some new books to my reading list

2

As far as I understand the real name was Joshua and that was a quit commen name in Judea

According to Carrier about 1 in 26. And he covers how many of the characters are really common names or the names have underlying meanings. Kind of like saying Jesus and his followers Tom Dick and Harry did this or Judas which means Judea or the Jew....betrayed Jesus.

2

The best that we can say is, maybe or maybe not.

That ain't sayin' much. Or maybe it is -- I just don't know.

2

I don't think there's smoke without fire but there is a lot of smoke over 2000 years

2

wasn't he supposedly born of a virgin? wouldn't that debunk it? maybe that story was made up by jesus himself. influential people like charles manson can make a lot of people believe and do some stupid shit. although i have not studied it at all

1

He didn't actually exist. It's a fantasy book set in the time period it was written in. No different than the fantasy books written today that have real places, but fantasy filler.

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