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Author Topic: Did Jesus actually exist?  (Read 7784 times)

PrincessKLS

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Did Jesus actually exist?
« on: September 30, 2014, 11:23:40 am »
Okay I do consider myself at least part Christian and I respect Jesus Christ but I've came across some sources on the net that have argued that he didn't actually exist and there's little historical evidence of it. I've also heard arguments out there that supposedly there's more sources other than the New Testament that prove he was a historical figure. One source I looked up even said, he was basically an inspiration based off of earlier gods such as Mithras.

So what is the truth?
PrincessKLS

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Re: Did Jesus actually exist?
« Reply #1 on: September 30, 2014, 11:26:30 am »
Quote from: PrincessKLS;160698
So what is the truth?

 
The truth is that people who are looking for an answer for this are almost all trying to prove/disprove Christianity.  (I consider the idea that the historicity of Jesus is relevant to the validity of the religion as a practice/beliefset to be a... flaw, mind.)

There is as much historical evidence for Jesus as one would expect: bibs and bobs, mostly trivial.
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Siren

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Re: Did Jesus actually exist?
« Reply #2 on: September 30, 2014, 11:33:35 am »
Quote from: PrincessKLS;160698
Okay I do consider myself at least part Christian and I respect Jesus Christ but I've came across some sources on the net that have argued that he didn't actually exist and there's little historical evidence of it. I've also heard arguments out there that supposedly there's more sources other than the New Testament that prove he was a historical figure. One source I looked up even said, he was basically an inspiration based off of earlier gods such as Mithras.

So what is the truth?

 
I think of him in about the same way I think of King Arthur, historically speaking: there may well have been a guy, or multiple guys being conflated, who inspired the story, but it's picked up a lot of accretions from surrounding mythologies and from later writers spinning tall tales.

HeartShadow

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Re: Did Jesus actually exist?
« Reply #3 on: September 30, 2014, 11:44:39 am »
Quote from: PrincessKLS;160698
Okay I do consider myself at least part Christian and I respect Jesus Christ but I've came across some sources on the net that have argued that he didn't actually exist and there's little historical evidence of it. I've also heard arguments out there that supposedly there's more sources other than the New Testament that prove he was a historical figure. One source I looked up even said, he was basically an inspiration based off of earlier gods such as Mithras.

So what is the truth?

 
There's more direct evidence for him than Socrates.  We don't go around asking if Socrates existed.

/did he exist/ and /are all the stories true/ are two completely different issues, mind.

Sophia C

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Re: Did Jesus actually exist?
« Reply #4 on: September 30, 2014, 01:45:39 pm »
Quote from: PrincessKLS;160698
Okay I do consider myself at least part Christian and I respect Jesus Christ but I've came across some sources on the net that have argued that he didn't actually exist and there's little historical evidence of it. I've also heard arguments out there that supposedly there's more sources other than the New Testament that prove he was a historical figure. One source I looked up even said, he was basically an inspiration based off of earlier gods such as Mithras.

So what is the truth?

I don't really have a horse in this race. I personally lean slightly in the direction of not believing he existed (depending on the day). But most academics - historians, secular Biblical scholars, what have you -  agree that it's fairly likely he DID exist. There are exceptions, as in any academic field, my favourite being the very charismatic Robert M. Price. Sadly, he's an academic outlier and generally considered a bit of a kook. His book is worth a read if you're interested, though. It's well-written and fascinating! http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_M._Price
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Mountain Cat

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Re: Did Jesus actually exist?
« Reply #5 on: September 30, 2014, 05:39:54 pm »
Quote from: PrincessKLS;160698
Okay I do consider myself at least part Christian and I respect Jesus Christ but I've came across some sources on the net that have argued that he didn't actually exist and there's little historical evidence of it. I've also heard arguments out there that supposedly there's more sources other than the New Testament that prove he was a historical figure. One source I looked up even said, he was basically an inspiration based off of earlier gods such as Mithras.

So what is the truth?

 

The book I found good was "Did Jesus Exist?" by Bart Ehrman

I've always thought he did. Or, rather, I've never had reason NOT to believe he existed. I've always respected the teachings atributed to him, though I confess to disliking the apostle's books and pretty much ignoring them, so my knowledge is limited to three of the four gospels.

Valentine

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Re: Did Jesus actually exist?
« Reply #6 on: September 30, 2014, 06:12:14 pm »
Quote from: Darkhawk;160699
The truth is that people who are looking for an answer for this are almost all trying to prove/disprove Christianity.  (I consider the idea that the historicity of Jesus is relevant to the validity of the religion as a practice/beliefset to be a... flaw, mind.)

There is as much historical evidence for Jesus as one would expect: bibs and bobs, mostly trivial.

 
Indeed: there's no really conclusive evidence that he did, and also no evidence that he didn't, which is to be expected.  People who claim it's clear in any direction generally just have an agenda.  

The standards of history were different then, and nobody but his followers really had reason to make a note of the guy we now call Jesus.  He was, as far we we know, "factual" or otherwise, one of numerous charismatic Jewish revolutionary teachers of the period in that region, and his teachings were not far outside those of many of his contemporaries.  He had a very small group of followers at the time, and so did many of his contemporaries, many of whom also claimed to be (or were claimed by followers to be) Elijah or the Messiah.  Beyond that, in the greater Gentile context of the Mediterranean world, a human being with claims to divinity or divine parentage was hardly shocking and unprecedented.  Crucifixion wasn't noteworthy either, in the Roman Empire--after all, even Jesus got crucified in a batch with other rabble-rousers.  (We often translate them as "thieves" or "bandits," but there's some convincing arguments that they were probably insurrectionists.  There's a reason the crowd wanted Barabbas spared.)

So there's no reason for people other than his followers to make careful note of him because they had no idea anyone in the future would care, and there's also no real reason for there to be concrete evidence.  If there's any accuracy in what we know about the guy, he had almost no possessions, and encouraged his followers to have almost no possessions, nor did he have a permanent dwelling, and realistically, if he vacated his tomb, someone probably purchased and re-filled it tout suite, because a nice tomb is valuable real estate.  (If he didn't, well, it's not as though he had fancy stuff to be buried with, nor could his followers afford any fancy preservation of the body.)  So all we really have to go on is the word of people with a reason to care, in a little bitty offshoot Jewish movement that didn't get established enough to write things down for a good decade and didn't rise to enough prominence to be noticed until they were a complaint-worthy weird Eastern mystery cult to the Romans.

So yes, we know the story's been distorted, and absorbed some patterns and imagery from other religions, including, probably, Mithraism, which we also know very little conclusive stuff about, especially after Constantine.

Past that, though, I'd say that it doesn't matter one whit.  Whether or not Yeshua bar Yosef or whoever "existed," Jesus exists.  He's realer than I am, certainly, with handprints all over the place on all sorts of people, with a real and echoing impact on the world.  Functionally, by any standard, Jesus is real.  For the people to whom he matters, nothing would be persuasive otherwise, including some kind of impossible proof that the man didn't walk the earth, and for the people to whom he doesn't matter, knowing he was some kind of concrete living person wouldn't change them either.  So what do we need to know?
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Valeria Crowe

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Re: Did Jesus actually exist?
« Reply #7 on: September 30, 2014, 07:58:29 pm »
Quote from: PrincessKLS;160698
Okay I do consider myself at least part Christian and I respect Jesus Christ but I've came across some sources on the net that have argued that he didn't actually exist and there's little historical evidence of it. I've also heard arguments out there that supposedly there's more sources other than the New Testament that prove he was a historical figure. One source I looked up even said, he was basically an inspiration based off of earlier gods such as Mithras.

So what is the truth?

 
Impossible to tell, not particularly important anyway.

The belief of him is real, which has many real world consequences. That's the important part.
"This is a sorrow-spider. Which end do you hold it by? TRICK QUESTION!"

RandallS

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Re: Did Jesus actually exist?
« Reply #8 on: September 30, 2014, 10:03:46 pm »
Quote from: Valentine;160757
Indeed: there's no really conclusive evidence that he did, and also no evidence that he didn't, which is to be expected.  People who claim it's clear in any direction generally just have an agenda.

I think Valentine's post has pretty much pegged what we know. There is as much evidence for/against the actual existence of Jesus as there is for or against the existence of my other historical figures from the ancient world. But in the end, whether or not the Jesus of the Bible actually existed isn't all that important because the idea of Jesus has had a huge influence on the world.
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NightQueen

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Re: Did Jesus actually exist?
« Reply #9 on: September 30, 2014, 10:10:53 pm »
Quote from: PrincessKLS;160698
Okay I do consider myself at least part Christian and I respect Jesus Christ but I've came across some sources on the net that have argued that he didn't actually exist and there's little historical evidence of it. I've also heard arguments out there that supposedly there's more sources other than the New Testament that prove he was a historical figure. One source I looked up even said, he was basically an inspiration based off of earlier gods such as Mithras.

So what is the truth?


As Naomi J pointed out most scholars believe that Jesus was a historical figure.  I'd also like to add that while you could make some parallels between Mithras and Jesus, the Mithra cult didn't reach Asia minor until the end of the first century after the basics of the gospel stories were already in place.

I personally see little reason to doubt there was a Jewish teacher in first century Palestine named Jesus (or Joshua if you prefer).  I do doubt the historical accuracy of much of the gospel accounts.  Not even taking into account the supernatural aspects, there are many things described in the gospels that just don't make any sense from a historical perspective (the entire trial of Jesus with the Sanhedrin for example).

I guess because of the nature of most Christian sects it matters to them that the gospels are true, but I see more like this; each of the gospels was written for a different audience (that's why their tones and emphasises are different), so while not all of the stories are historically true (they simply can't be the gospels contradict each other is certain places) they are all spiritually true for those who follow that path.

jess-foxx-quinn

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Re: Did Jesus actually exist?
« Reply #10 on: October 01, 2014, 01:40:33 am »
Maybe. there may have been. But he is just one prophet in a sea of thousands in the ancient world. No different from Buddha, Mohammad, Apollodorus of Rhodes, Moses, and all the others. Mortal at one time and revered by their followers. Deified at death, like so many others. As for the missing sacred codexs of Jesus' teaching, I do not doubt. The Church did a wonderful editing job as to what the bible would have and would not have in it. My personal belief is the IF there was a Jesus, his teachings were simple and few: Love, honor, respect and do good to all. I personally believe much of the filler was put in centuries later to pretty much scare people into believing the Christian  faith. This is my take on it all. My belief on Jesus and his teachings.



Quote from: PrincessKLS;160698
Okay I do consider myself at least part Christian and I respect Jesus Christ but I've came across some sources on the net that have argued that he didn't actually exist and there's little historical evidence of it. I've also heard arguments out there that supposedly there's more sources other than the New Testament that prove he was a historical figure. One source I looked up even said, he was basically an inspiration based off of earlier gods such as Mithras.

So what is the truth?
Syalla!

Sophia C

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Re: Did Jesus actually exist?
« Reply #11 on: October 01, 2014, 01:46:54 am »
Quote from: RandallS;160772
I think Valentine's post has pretty much pegged what we know. There is as much evidence for/against the actual existence of Jesus as there is for or against the existence of my other historical figures from the ancient world. But in the end, whether or not the Jesus of the Bible actually existed isn't all that important because the idea of Jesus has had a huge influence on the world.

 
Well, many scholars make their living arguing over whether he existed or not. See: the Jesus Seminar. So it does matter very much to some people. :p
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Valeria Crowe

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Re: Did Jesus actually exist?
« Reply #12 on: October 01, 2014, 07:34:53 am »
Quote from: Naomi J;160790
Well, many scholars make their living arguing over whether he existed or not. See: the Jesus Seminar. So it does matter very much to some people. :p

 
Well, whether Elvis died or just went home matters to some people.

People obsess over the strangest things.
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PrincessKLS

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Re: Did Jesus actually exist?
« Reply #13 on: October 01, 2014, 10:23:41 am »
Quote from: HeartShadow;160705
There's more direct evidence for him than Socrates.  We don't go around asking if Socrates existed.

/did he exist/ and /are all the stories true/ are two completely different issues, mind.

 
Where?
PrincessKLS

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Re: Did Jesus actually exist?
« Reply #14 on: October 01, 2014, 10:32:43 am »
Quote from: PrincessKLS;160815
Where?

 
... where's the proof that Jesus existed?  or Socrates?

Socrates comes down pretty much to Plato's writings.  Jesus has multiple writings, multiple viewpoints, all kinds of stuff.

Again - proof there was a person with that name that existed in that time and was crucified is not the same thing as proof that he is the son of God etc.  Either way, there was an effect.

Heck, as far as religion goes, if he DIDN'T actually exist that makes the /religion/ more plausible to me, because THAT would be a miracle!  That none of it happened, and yet people saw/believed/shared etc?  That would be pretty damn interesting, wouldn't it?

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