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Denying the Existence of Jesus


Daniel Peterson

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Over on another board, a group of apostates are discussing the question of whether or not Jesus of Nazareth really existed. For the most part, they're quite confidently declaring that he probably didn't.

This is, I think, plain nonsense, and I'm not aware of (m)any reputable historians, Christian or not, who would agree with them.

Coincidentally, I addressed such declarations -- though, obviously, not at all exhaustively; there's much more to be said, and I intend to discuss it in a future book -- in my most recent column for Mormon Times:

http://www.mormontimes.com/article/15047/Capernaum-bears-witness-of-Christ

I just thought, given the provocation, that I would call attention to the little piece that I wrote.

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Over on another board, a group of apostates are discussing the question of whether or not Jesus of Nazareth really existed. For the most part, they're quite confidently declaring that he probably didn't.

This is, I think, plain nonsense, and I'm not aware of (m)any reputable historians, Christian or not, who would agree with them.

Coincidentally, I addressed such declarations -- though, obviously, not at all exhaustively; there's much more to be said, and I intend to discuss it in a future book -- in my most recent column for Mormon Times:

http://www.mormontimes.com/article/15047/Capernaum-bears-witness-of-Christ

I just thought, given the provocation, that I would call attention to the little piece that I wrote.

I'm already convinced, but I really enjoyed the article. I had not heard of Christ's name in graffiti before. Is there any indication how old that graffiti is?

In any event, I wish my pocket book could withstand a trip to and a tour of that land. Of course I do not know what I would do with the three year old granddaughter (and she is grand!!!) that has somehow become my charge.

To walk where Jesus walked! So many people do it today and know it not.

Thanks Doctor Petersen.

Glenn

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Over on another board, a group of apostates are discussing the question of whether or not Jesus of Nazareth really existed. For the most part, they're quite confidently declaring that he probably didn't.

This is, I think, plain nonsense, and I'm not aware of (m)any reputable historians, Christian or not, who would agree with them.

Coincidentally, I addressed such declarations -- though, obviously, not at all exhaustively; there's much more to be said, and I intend to discuss it in a future book -- in my most recent column for Mormon Times:

http://www.mormontimes.com/article/15047/Capernaum-bears-witness-of-Christ

I just thought, given the provocation, that I would call attention to the little piece that I wrote.

I take it that the picture of the almost lifelike man was an artist's depiction of the Lord as balding with a moustache??? Heh.

To affirm that Christ wasn't God is to live a life of reason without faith. To say that Christ never existed at all is to have neither faith nor reason in connection with the claims of Christianity. There just isn't any reason for the skeptics to go so far as to say there wasn't even this false charismatic teacher, named Jesus, whose disciples idolized Him and built a religion upon.

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...

whether or not Jesus of Nazareth really existed

...

The web-pages are bot yet finalized -- but here are

some previews from the Vernal Holley series, under construction:

http://sidneyrigdon.com/vern/1879Baur.htm

http://sidneyrigdon.com/vern/Reuchlin.htm

http://sidneyrigdon.com/vern/Vern2000.htm

More later.

UD

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The web-pages are bot yet finalized -- but here are

some previews from the Vernal Holley series, under construction:

http://sidneyrigdon.com/vern/1879Baur.htm

http://sidneyrigdon.com/vern/Reuchlin.htm

http://sidneyrigdon.com/vern/Vern2000.htm

More later.

UD

As I said in the article, denial of the sheer existence of Jesus of Nazareth tends to be the province of cranks. QED.

I'm aware of literally no reputable scholar of the subject who shares in that denial. And, before saying so in print, I ran the question by about half a dozen people who hold doctorates in ancient history or in New Testament and Christian origins, to see whether that statement was too sweeping. The unanimous response was No.

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Over on another board, a group of apostates are discussing the question of whether or not Jesus of Nazareth really existed. For the most part, they're quite confidently declaring that he probably didn't.

This is, I think, plain nonsense, and I'm not aware of (m)any reputable historians, Christian or not, who would agree with them.

Coincidentally, I addressed such declarations -- though, obviously, not at all exhaustively; there's much more to be said, and I intend to discuss it in a future book -- in my most recent column for Mormon Times:

http://www.mormontim...tness-of-Christ

I just thought, given the provocation, that I would call attention to the little piece that I wrote.

It has been a while since I've been to Mormon Times. Thanks for pointing this out. Now I can read your other articles as well.

By the way, how is/are your book(s) on rational theism coming along?

And another by the way, I sent you an email about economics I think last week. I don't know if you got it or have just been busy. I assume the latter, which is completely understandable. In case you haven't, search your email for it.

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...

This is, I think, plain nonsense, and I'm not aware of (m)any reputable historians, Christian or not, who would agree with them....

I agree. Even Bart Ehrman believes that there was a historical Jesus of Nazareth, as do many other critics of the New Testament ("critics," not in the sense of textual critic; literary critic, in this instance) accepts such. Only those on the fringes (viz. Robert M Price) reject the historicity of Jesus.

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By the way, how is/are your book(s) on rational theism coming along?

Slowly. I don't get much time to work on that project. (This has got to change.)

And another by the way, I sent you an email about economics I think last week. I don't know if you got it or have just been busy. I assume the latter, which is completely understandable. In case you haven't, search your email for it.

Sorry. I'll look for it. I've scarcely been home since mid-March.

Last week, I was hosting a small international academic conference up in Park City, Utah, and then had to fly down to Los Angeles in order to participate in another academic conference, at the University of Southern California. I'm behind on everything. However, I'm delighted that I'm going to be staying in the country for very nearly the next three weeks.

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Slowly. I don't get much time to work on that project. (This has got to change.)

I'm certainly looking forward to it. LDS need a book like that, especially with Mormonism's unique claim and philosophy on God. I'm reading Edward Feser's The Last Superstition, but I don't believe in a neo-Platonic God, so it makes it difficult to take some of his arguments to heart.

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I'm aware of literally no reputable scholar of the subject who shares in that denial.

...

Probably not -- although Bauer was more or less the grandfather

of the theory. If he's not reputable, at least he had a reputation.

Oddly enough, via Marx, Bauer's explanations ended up becoming

the party line in those sections of Soviet history books that

took the trouble to mention Christian origins.

Moving into the realm of "reputable scholars," we find the Jesus Seminar

severely limiting Jesus' voice in the Christian Bible -- see their seminal

"Five Gospels." -- And, from their ranks comes Burton L. Mack, with his

writings on "Q," Thomas and "Who Wrote the New Testament."

The latter treatise does not eliminate Jesus as an historical person,

but it practically eliminates his presence and voice from Apostolic

Christianity.

As you might have guessed, Mack is a personal favorite of mine.

UD

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Dr. Evil (or whatever they call you on RfM these days!), ;)

:P

From everything I've read, seen, and heard you're completely right that the great majority of scholars, of all religious positions, believe in the historical reality of Jesus.

But I would want to point out that one exception (whom you may have been excluding as a "serious scholar") is Robert Price. I admit I find Price's position on the historicity of Jesus (and Paul??!) puzzling, but he has published in substantial enough journals (and published substantial enough other scholars--e.g., Jacob Neusner--in the journal he edits), that he I don't think he can be excluded as a serious scholar.

One evidence for the historical Jesus, by the way, that I can't see getting around is Paul's identification of James as Jesus' brother. If Paul actually knew Jesus' brother, it stands to reason there was a Jesus! And I have trouble believing Paul could have been writing to his audience about a fictional James and not been found out.

Cheers,

Don

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...

And I have trouble believing Paul could have been writing to his audience about

a fictional James and not been found out.

...

Totally logical ---

if --

"Paul" is who we generally believe him to have been.

and --

Paul's epistles were actual letters, written to actual readers.

All of that is most likely true. But I'm uncertain where the

proof is to be found. I'd believe in Paul more strongly if we

could uncover some independent supporting evidence.

Same goes for Josephus.

The "cranks," as Doc Peterson calls them, are prone to tell us

that Josephus writes a bit too much like Paul -- and that Paul

(Saulus in Josephus) writes a bit too much like that same historian.

I would not go so far as to speculate an identity -- nor even

that the two ever crossed paths -- but a little new historical

evidence wouldn't hurt either.

UD

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Over on another board, a group of apostates are discussing the question of whether or not Jesus of Nazareth really existed. For the most part, they're quite confidently declaring that he probably didn't.

This is, I think, plain nonsense, and I'm not aware of (m)any reputable historians, Christian or not, who would agree with them.

Coincidentally, I addressed such declarations -- though, obviously, not at all exhaustively; there's much more to be said, and I intend to discuss it in a future book -- in my most recent column for Mormon Times:

http://www.mormontimes.com/article/15047/Capernaum-bears-witness-of-Christ

I just thought, given the provocation, that I would call attention to the little piece that I wrote.

I'm not sure why you would want to single out atheists here. The world is full of people who reject the idea that Jesus was a God--Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and the like all reject the notion. In fact, the vast majority of the world's population rejects this idea.

Atheists are marked mostly by the fact that they reject all religious traditions. It doesn't make sense to single them out of from all of the groups that reject Jesus since they make such a small sub-group of those who collectively reject Jesus.

By the way, I think the idea of rejecting the historical figure of Joshua bar Joseph is pretty silly. But the same debate goes on about the existence of other religious figures such as Siddhartha Gautama or Moses, I don't think you should fee particularly picked on.

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Over on another board, a group of apostates are discussing the question of whether or not Jesus of Nazareth really existed. For the most part, they're quite confidently declaring that he probably didn't.

This is, I think, plain nonsense, and I'm not aware of (m)any reputable historians, Christian or not, who would agree with them.

Coincidentally, I addressed such declarations -- though, obviously, not at all exhaustively; there's much more to be said, and I intend to discuss it in a future book -- in my most recent column for Mormon Times:

http://www.mormontim...tness-of-Christ

I just thought, given the provocation, that I would call attention to the little piece that I wrote.

The thread to which you are referring was started by a struggling member of the Church who isn't sure if Jesus was a historical person.

This was followed by someone who said that even if Jesus did exist, he can't wrap his head around the religious beliefs Christians generally have about Jesus.

Next was someone who pointed out what he thought was the most compelling arguments against Jesus being a real person, but who also stated that he personally believes that Jesus of Nazareth existed.

Then there was another comment about not believing in the religious teachings about Jesus.

Then a link to a video ridiculing the religious teachings about Jesus.

Then, finally someone who affirmatively said that there is "some very strong evidence that Jesus never existed, even as a historical figure." She discussed what she thinks this evidence is.

The next post began, "Jesus of Nazareth existed is about as certain of a historical fact as you can get when it comes to ancient history."

The post after that was, "Jesus may have been a real person, but the legends we hear are just sensationalized stories. . . "

The next post was criticism of the evidence cited by the only person thus far to state affirmatively a belief that Jesus did not exist as a historical person.

Then there was a second post denying that Jesus actually existed.

Followed by a post stating that Jesus did exist, but what about Abraham.

Then a post about Abraham and the Book of Abraham, while saying nothing about the historicity of Jesus.

Then a third person who does not believe that Jesus existed.

Then a post by BCspace who is also a poster here, affirming his belief in Jesus.

Then a repeat of someone who already said he doesn't believe that Jesus existed---a second post by the same person.

This led to a back and forth between this guy and BCSpace, without any intervening posts by other people.

And as of right now, the last post on this thread says to "bear in mind that consensus scholarship (from the fundamentalist to the most anti-supernatural agnostic) agrees that Jesus was a historical figure."

So how is it that you figure that for the most part, they're quite confidently declaring that he probably didn't exist?

EDIT: I mean, given that only two people in this thread have declared quite confidently that he didn't exist.

SECOND EDIT: Oh, three. Sorry. Three out of numerous members posting is what I should have said.

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Over on another board, a group of apostates are discussing the question of whether or not Jesus of Nazareth really existed. For the most part, they're quite confidently declaring that he probably didn't.

This is, I think, plain nonsense, and I'm not aware of (m)any reputable historians, Christian or not, who would agree with them.

Coincidentally, I addressed such declarations -- though, obviously, not at all exhaustively; there's much more to be said, and I intend to discuss it in a future book -- in my most recent column for Mormon Times:

http://www.mormontim...tness-of-Christ

I just thought, given the provocation, that I would call attention to the little piece that I wrote.

I enjoyed your article. They had a nice episode of the house-church and graffiti not long ago on the History Channel.

So, if King Herod died in 4 BC and Cyrenius carried out the census of Judaea in AD 6, then when was Jesus born?

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I have no strong opinion on the precise year of Jesus' birth. All solutions have problems.

I'm not sure why you would want to single out atheists here.

The only people that I've ever encountered -- whether in person or otherwise -- who denied the existence of Jesus have been atheists. I can't think of any exception. Obviously, non-atheists could also make the claim, but I've never come across any who do.

The world is full of people who reject the idea that Jesus was a God--Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and the like all reject the notion. In fact, the vast majority of the world's population rejects this idea.

Something of which, obviously, I'm quite well aware. (I've read somewhat about Islam, as well as about other world religions.)

And, of course, that's not what I was talking about. As I thought I made very, very clear, I was talking about people who deny the historical existence of Jesus of Nazareth, not about those who reject his claimed deity:

When some atheists go beyond simple rejection of God and the deity of Christ to declare that Jesus never existed, they depart decisively from mainstream scholarship.

While views of Jesus vary enormously among specialists on Christian origins (and others), few (if any) serious scholars of the subject

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So, if King Herod died in 4 BC and Cyrenius carried out the census of Judaea in AD 6, then when was Jesus born?

Some time before Herod died.

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One evidence for the historical Jesus, by the way, that I can't see getting around is Paul's identification of James as Jesus' brother. If Paul actually knew Jesus' brother, it stands to reason there was a Jesus! And I have trouble believing Paul could have been writing to his audience about a fictional James and not been found out.

Yeah, this is what I usually tell people, too. Usually when people reject the existence of Jesus on the basis that there is no near-contemporary evidence, they are completely ignoring Paul. If you accept the existence of a historical Paul and the authenticity of Galatians (as even most of the cranks do), then you have in the book of Galatians a very early witness to Jesus's existence-- written within about 20 years of Christ's reputed death date, and within the lifetime of not only James, "the Lord's brother," but also Peter.

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I looked at the comments from folks named:

huckleberry

Jersey Girl

Redefined

Scripturesearcher

Runtu

Aristotle Smith

bcspace

And found them to be in support of the Jesus as the Messiah.

Others added information pointing towards just a historical Jesus.

If I was someone trying to figure out whether or not Jesus existed and is who he claimed to be, that thread on the other board would be very helpful for me. I think it is educational to hear the critics and supporters. The very fact that the story of Jesus has withstood the criticism over so many years is a testament in and of itself. I say we encourage such discussions. I would like to see such a debate over here someday.

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I looked at the comments from folks named:

huckleberry

Jersey Girl

Redefined

Scripturesearcher

Runtu

Aristotle Smith

bcspace

And found them to be in support of the Jesus as the Messiah.

Others added information pointing towards just a historical Jesus.

Of the seven posters that you name above, at least three hadn't even appeared on the thread at the time I posted here. My post wasn't responding to things that hadn't been said yet, and it didn't purport to do so. (It's a weakness, I know, in my posting style, that I don't typically respond to unforeseen future events.)

Again, why are you and DarthJ focusing on such a peripheral matter? I wasn't posting about that board. If I had been posting about that board, I would have identified that board. If I had wanted to respond to some particular person or persons there, I would have quoted some specific person or persons there, or would have specifically mentioned some specific person or persons there. I was posting about an issue raised on that board, regarding which, as fate would have it, I had just published in Mormon Times. That board, and that thread there, are of no particular concern to me as regards this matter. They merely provided the impetus to post something about the historicity of Jesus.

Incidentally, if you want to launch a discussion here about the historicity of Jesus, you're perfectly free to do so. You need not simply yearn for the day that such a discussion might occur. Nothing is stopping you.

.

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Again, why are you and DarthJ focusing on such a peripheral matter?

I'm focusing on the content of the discussion of that other board because the contributions of those previously mentioned posters are extremely useful for a person who might be wondering about the Christ. I apologize for the diversion. I find it interesting that two separate (yet parallel) boards exist in the first place. I wonder if the two boards could ever be merged so that all the view points could be seen together.

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