Welcome to DU! The truly grassroots left-of-center political community where regular people, not algorithms, drive the discussions and set the standards. Join the community: Create a free account Support DU (and get rid of ads!): Become a Star Member Latest Breaking News General Discussion The DU Lounge All Forums Issue Forums Culture Forums Alliance Forums Region Forums Support Forums Help & Search


(44,014 posts)
Sun Feb 18, 2024, 01:05 PM Feb 2024

There was no Jesus

How could a cult leader draw crowds, inspire devotion and die by crucifixion, yet leave no mark in contemporary records?


Most New Testament scholars agree that some 2,000 years ago a peripatetic Jewish preacher from Galilee was executed by the Romans, after a year or more of telling his followers about this world and the world to come. Most scholars – though not all. But let’s stick with the mainstream for now: the Bible historians who harbour no doubt that the sandals of Yeshua ben Yosef really did leave imprints between Nazareth and Jerusalem early in the common era. They divide loosely into three groups, the largest of which includes Christian theologians who conflate the Jesus of faith with the historical figure, which usually means they accept the virgin birth, the miracles and the resurrection; although a few, such as Simon Gathercole, a professor at the University of Cambridge and a conservative evangelical, grapple seriously with the historical evidence. Next are the liberal Christians who separate faith from history, and are prepared to go wherever the evidence leads, even if it contradicts traditional belief. Their most vocal representative is John Barton, an Anglican clergyman and Oxford scholar, who accepts that most Bible books were written by multiple authors, often over centuries, and that they diverge from history.

A third group, with views not far from Barton’s, are secular scholars who dismiss the miracle-rich parts of the New Testament while accepting that Jesus was, nonetheless, a figure rooted in history: the gospels, they contend, offer evidence of the main thrusts of his preaching life. A number of this group, including their most prolific member, Bart Ehrman, a Biblical historian at the University of North Carolina, are atheists who emerged from evangelical Christianity. In the spirit of full declaration, I should add that my own vantage point is similar to Ehrman’s: I was raised in an evangelical Christian family, the son of a ‘born-again’, tongues-talking, Jewish-born, Anglican bishop; but, from the age of 17, I came to doubt all that I once believed. Though I remained fascinated by the Abrahamic religions, my interest in them was not enough to prevent my drifting, via agnosticism, into atheism. There is also a smaller, fourth group who threaten the largely peaceable disagreements between atheists, deists and more orthodox Christians by insisting that evidence for a historical Jesus is so flimsy as to cast doubt on his earthly existence altogether. This group – which includes its share of lapsed Christians – suggests that Jesus may have been a mythological figure who, like Romulus, of Roman legend, was later historicised.

But what is the evidence for Jesus’ existence? And how robust is it by the standards historians might deploy – which is to say: how much of the gospel story can be relied upon as truth? The answers have enormous implications, not just for the Catholic Church and for faith-obsessed countries like the United States, but for billions of individuals who grew up with the comforting picture of a loving Jesus in their hearts. Even for people like me, who dispensed with the God-soul-heaven-hell bits, the idea that this figure of childhood devotion might not have existed or, if he did, that we might know very little indeed about him, takes some swallowing. It involves a traumatic loss – which perhaps explains why the debate is so fraught, even among secular scholars. When I’ve discussed this essay with people raised as atheists or in other faiths, the question invariably asked goes something like this: why is it so important for Christians that Jesus lived on earth? What is at stake here is the unique aspect of their faith – the thing that sets it apart. For more than 1,900 years, Christianity has maintained the conviction that God sent his son to earth to suffer a hideous crucifixion to save us from our sins and give us everlasting life. Jesus’ earthbound birth, life and particularly his death, which ushered in redemption, are the very foundation of their faith. These views are so deeply entrenched that, even for those who have loosened the grip of belief, the idea that he might not have been ‘real’ is hard to stomach.

Secondo Pia’s photograph of the Shroud of Turin (May 1898), digital print from the Musée de l’Élysée, Lausanne.

You’d think that a cult leader who drew crowds, inspired devoted followers and was executed on the order of a Roman governor would leave some indentation in contemporary records. The emperors Vespasian and Titus and the historians Seneca the Elder and the Younger wrote a good deal about 1st-century Judea without ever mentioning Jesus. That could mean simply that he was less significant an actor than the Bible would have us think. But, despite the volume of records that survive from that time, there is also no death reference (as there was, say, for the 6,000 slaves loyal to Spartacus who were crucified along the Appian Way in 71 BCE), and no mention in any surviving official report, private letter, poetry or play. Compare this with Socrates, for example. Though none of the thoughts attributed to him survive in written form, still we know that he lived (470-399 BCE) because several of his pupils and contemporary critics wrote books and plays about him. But with Jesus there is silence from those who might have seen him in the flesh – which is awkward for historicists like Ehrman; ‘odd as it may seem,’ he wrote in 1999, ‘in none of this vast array of surviving writings is Jesus’ name ever so much as mentioned.’ In fact, there are just three sources of putative proof of life – all of them posthumous: the gospels, the letters of Paul, and historical evidence from beyond the Bible.

67 replies = new reply since forum marked as read
Highlight: NoneDon't highlight anything 5 newestHighlight 5 most recent replies
There was no Jesus (Original Post) Celerity Feb 2024 OP
k&r nt flying rabbit Feb 2024 #1
At this point, does it matter? Ocelot II Feb 2024 #2
Everything matters - or ... dchill Feb 2024 #3
It only matters as an objective response to the Mike Johnsons of the world... Thunderbeast Feb 2024 #7
Bookmarking True Dough Feb 2024 #4
Good read. Fascinating analysis of the analysts. . . . . nt Bernardo de La Paz Feb 2024 #5
I think this is the earliest form of good marketing...nt mitch96 Feb 2024 #6
I think a lot of liberal Christians harumph Feb 2024 #8
I'll go with the Harry Potter analogy. Voltaire2 Feb 2024 #10
I take a more charitable view - but I'm not a literalist... harumph Feb 2024 #11
Using Flavius Josephus as a reference is a mistake Christians often make Doc Sportello Feb 2024 #34
And one of the references is now generally Voltaire2 Feb 2024 #63
Is that 'Christian', though? pandr32 Feb 2024 #55
Yeah but the vast majority of biblical historians, Voltaire2 Feb 2024 #9
Ok, did Siddhartha Gautama actually exist do you think? harumph Feb 2024 #12
I have no idea, and no. Voltaire2 Feb 2024 #15
The historical record is routinely altered. colorado_ufo Feb 2024 #14
The Roman Empire was generally tolerant Voltaire2 Feb 2024 #18
Interesting and informative. colorado_ufo Feb 2024 #28
But wasn't that how "Christianity" began.... Think. Again. Feb 2024 #52
Not sure about that. colorado_ufo Feb 2024 #59
To me, that seems to be the most logical conclusion... Think. Again. Feb 2024 #60
I think he is a composite character Mr.Bill Feb 2024 #13
And here's a composite drawing to go with that composite character: True Dough Feb 2024 #30
And another image based on forensic science True Dough Feb 2024 #32
Orange Jesus is real. twodogsbarking Feb 2024 #16
And yet, ideas attributed to him survived 2,000 years. surfered Feb 2024 #17
As a seeker, these are not unique to this religion I've found. slightlv Feb 2024 #22
These aren't necessarily him either angrychair Feb 2024 #26
The "Golden Rule" exists in all the major religious and spiritual traditions, Ocelot II Feb 2024 #29
You sure those weren't stolen True Dough Feb 2024 #35
About the beatitudes Voltaire2 Feb 2024 #36
Attributed incorrectly. SarahD Feb 2024 #41
But those are basic 'good' human traits that go all the way back, way before the Jesus thing, aren't they? Think. Again. Feb 2024 #53
👇👇👇👁️👁️ Goonch Feb 2024 #19
Kicking. MontanaMama Feb 2024 #20
"The Christian theory is little else than anciano Feb 2024 #21
I said something similar above, slightlv Feb 2024 #24
Imo, a person that came to be called Yeshua lonely bird Feb 2024 #23
I even asked my sister slightlv Feb 2024 #25
The repetition of ancient themes in christian myth orthoclad Feb 2024 #27
Jesus died again yesterday in Navalny's death Ponietz Feb 2024 #31
Thank you! pazzyanne Feb 2024 #38
The greatest lesson of the Bible - don't fuck with the men who has the money and the power Probatim Feb 2024 #56
Our calendar is all wrong then? pwb Feb 2024 #33
Just for the record, pazzyanne Feb 2024 #37
Just for the record, this forum is open Voltaire2 Feb 2024 #64
Just for the record - pazzyanne Feb 2024 #65
Your opinion is welcome. Voltaire2 Feb 2024 #66
Thank you, Voltaire2. pazzyanne Feb 2024 #67
Well twodogsbarking Feb 2024 #39
I cite, for example..... Shoonra Feb 2024 #40
No shooting an apple? No killing Gessler? SarahD Feb 2024 #43
A lot of earlier religions preached the same story. Emile Feb 2024 #42
Thought this theory was interesting & logical: Roman Emperors Invented Christianity Attilatheblond Feb 2024 #44
One bit of evidence that Jesus did exist thucythucy Feb 2024 #45
Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. Qutzupalotl Feb 2024 #46
It actually is evidence edhopper Feb 2024 #48
There was a revolution some years after his death Warpy Feb 2024 #47
I had heard that Christianity edhopper Feb 2024 #49
Washn't he dead by this time? Warpy Feb 2024 #57
Not Mark the Apostle edhopper Feb 2024 #58
An interesting observation edhopper Feb 2024 #50
Look up Jim Palmer AwakeAtLast Feb 2024 #51
I'm just getting started studying what I agree is the evolution of religion. I watched a lot of Bart Ehrman on his brewens Feb 2024 #54
Very peculiar presentation of this statistic: Qutzupalotl Feb 2024 #61
I like omnipotent beings that get it right the first time. czarjak Feb 2024 #62


(3,434 posts)
7. It only matters as an objective response to the Mike Johnsons of the world...
Sun Feb 18, 2024, 01:46 PM
Feb 2024

...who are intent on using the Jesus mythology to impose faith-based political power.

While many of the teaching of the world's religions are valuable parables, much of the ritualistic nonsense has long ago worn out it's welcome. The tribal nature of these belief systems (not just Christians) have been used by authoritarians to kill billions of people over the course of human history.


(1,940 posts)
8. I think a lot of liberal Christians
Sun Feb 18, 2024, 02:03 PM
Feb 2024

believe that Jesus was likely a real but obscure figure amongst a number of messianic preachers during the Roman occupation in the first century. Rabbi Shmuley Boteach's hypothesis is that Jesus was a Torah observant rabbi with some good ideas and bad publicists.

Edited to add: the fact that there is little contemporaneous validation (Josephus is close...) doesn't mean much as the Roman bureaucracy routinely condemned and executed subversives willy-nilly and scant documentation is to be had for that period in ancient Judea, mostly because between 66 CE and 70 CE, the Romans pretty much tore the place up..


(13,436 posts)
10. I'll go with the Harry Potter analogy.
Sun Feb 18, 2024, 02:06 PM
Feb 2024

There likely was some boy who was into wizards and stuff that Harry Potter was based on. Therefore there was an historical Harry Potter.

Doc Sportello

(7,560 posts)
34. Using Flavius Josephus as a reference is a mistake Christians often make
Sun Feb 18, 2024, 03:47 PM
Feb 2024

He was not a contemporary and there are no known manuscripts of his work. There are several translations but none before 300 A.D and the most prominent ones referenced by Christians come from Christian monks who certainly had a bias in showing that the few "miracles" were real - one of the foundations of the King James version of Christianity.


(13,436 posts)
63. And one of the references is now generally
Mon Feb 19, 2024, 11:31 AM
Feb 2024

acknowledged as a simple forgery by a monk/scribe. The other is also somewhat suspect. And as you note, Josephus is simply repeating the stories he heard, he is not a witness to any of it.


(11,663 posts)
55. Is that 'Christian', though?
Sun Feb 18, 2024, 07:54 PM
Feb 2024

The Jesus of the Bible and at the core of the Christian faith is certainly mythical. There is evidence that ties Paul (Saul of Tarsus), Josephus, and the writers of the Gospels to Rome and a Roman agenda.

A "liberal Christian" who believes Jesus might have been Yeshua, a rabbi or bishop as his brother was, does not believe the mythical stories of miracles and resurrection. How could that be considered 'Christian'?

Wouldn't that be Atheist unless one still believes in a god?


(13,436 posts)
9. Yeah but the vast majority of biblical historians,
Sun Feb 18, 2024, 02:03 PM
Feb 2024

almost all of whom are devout christians, say the evidence is overwhelming that there was a historical jesus.

The other shitty argument is that ‘there likely was some person in the region preaching messianic Judaism who was the basis for Bible Jesus’.


(13,436 posts)
15. I have no idea, and no.
Sun Feb 18, 2024, 02:27 PM
Feb 2024

Buddhism doesn’t really depend on the existence of an historical Buddha. The teachings of Buddhism can be evaluated and followed independently of that.

The standard christian theology requires an historical jesus to perform his ritual sacrifice. It is essential to the religion.

There are christians who don’t care about that nonsense and just follow the teachings, some of which are basic ‘be a good human’ stuff. And for them it doesn’t matter.


(5,763 posts)
14. The historical record is routinely altered.
Sun Feb 18, 2024, 02:22 PM
Feb 2024

In ancient Egypt, there were attempts to completely erase the history of some of the pharaohs. Remember the old saying, "History is written by the victors." Christianity was hidden for a long time, due to the persecution of Christians. Much information has been lost or has been changed by the different offshoots of the faith over the years. However, as in many cultures throughout the world, history is preserved through oral tradition, not written, and it would be reasonable to rely on some of this tradition to substantiate that Jesus did exist.

In any event, it doesn't matter. Jesus is quoted to have said, and I paraphrase, "If you don't believe in me, believe in what I teach."


(13,436 posts)
18. The Roman Empire was generally tolerant
Sun Feb 18, 2024, 02:38 PM
Feb 2024

of all religions. There were fairly brief periods of Christian persecution, but mostly not during the formative years of the religion.

Most of the text destruction was done by christians after the Roman Empire adopted one faction in the theological civil war between christians that spanned the 3rd and 4th centuries. The ‘canonical gospels’ of the victorious faction, the official religion of the empire by the late 300s, survived, the rest generally didn’t.

Some of the non-canonical gospels have been recovered, they don’t change anything. None of them are contemporaneous, just like the official texts.


(5,763 posts)
28. Interesting and informative.
Sun Feb 18, 2024, 03:39 PM
Feb 2024

Yes, the Romans definitely tolerated different religions, as they took their own with a large "grain of salt!" Tolerating religions made governing the conquered territories much easier - and religious leaders easier to bribe.

Think. Again.

(9,231 posts)
52. But wasn't that how "Christianity" began....
Sun Feb 18, 2024, 06:45 PM
Feb 2024

...didn't the Roman government put together a propaganda book using a 300 year old myth and a collection of other cult myths, dates, and practices, in order to combine all those other various other cults into one big one for taxation purposes?

Think. Again.

(9,231 posts)
60. To me, that seems to be the most logical conclusion...
Sun Feb 18, 2024, 10:38 PM
Feb 2024

...considering what facts we DO know about the course of history on the subject.

But I definitely agree with your paraphase from a post above:

"In any event, it doesn't matter. Jesus is quoted to have said, and I paraphrase, "If you don't believe in me, believe in what I teach."

I firmly follow the teachings of goodness that are attributed to the Jesus of Christianity and others. Honest goodness among and for all fellow people is important to me, it's why the Humanist way of life is so appealing to me.


(24,430 posts)
13. I think he is a composite character
Sun Feb 18, 2024, 02:21 PM
Feb 2024

that they made up many years after he is said to have lived. They blended good charcter traits from a number of actual people to create a figure worthy of admiration and worship who they could found a religion on.

Being an Atheist, I of course do not believe he or anyone else is the son of a god of any sorts, but a mythical being in human form who they could use to direct people's behavior. Over the centuries this has been used as a source of mostly good, but sometimes evil.

And for those of you who devoutly believe in him, don't press me for any proof of what I say. It's just my opinion, and those who believe in him are a little short on proof themselves.


(665 posts)
17. And yet, ideas attributed to him survived 2,000 years.
Sun Feb 18, 2024, 02:37 PM
Feb 2024

Love thy neighbor as thyself
Welcome the stranger
Help the poor and heal the sick.
Blessed are the meek
Blessed on the merciful
Blessed are the peacemakers
Blessed are the pure in heart

We accept these ideas as good things whether or not the man existed.


(2,914 posts)
22. As a seeker, these are not unique to this religion I've found.
Sun Feb 18, 2024, 03:24 PM
Feb 2024

Most of what we'd call good is actually good social engineering. Something societies have to have evidently in order to be civilized. Most of the Bible is created from religious and mythical stories of other religions... put ithem together and blend for a new religion of the time.

Frankly, at some point I expect to see Star Wars and Star Trek blended into a religion. We already have one with characteristics from stranger on a strange land. And what is Dune but one hell of a mythic god story.

I guess count me in that group of those wondering why the emphasis on physicality. One can be worshipped without ever being real... as long as something is done to positively impact society.

The gods need us as we need the gods... because, as the gods supposedly created us, we created the gods. My belief system ain't for everyone and that's ok. I've just been a seeker after truth for 68 years.


(8,790 posts)
26. These aren't necessarily him either
Sun Feb 18, 2024, 03:33 PM
Feb 2024

But likely an blending of multiple ideas as well as hybrid ideals that were aspirational at the time.
Almost all the NT writings are years, most decades, after the time Jesus was believed to have lived.

Ocelot II

(116,155 posts)
29. The "Golden Rule" exists in all the major religious and spiritual traditions,
Sun Feb 18, 2024, 03:41 PM
Feb 2024

most of which predate Christianity. There's an interesting book, "The Great Transformation" by the British theologian Karen Armstrong, that discusses the origin of altruistic philosophies/religions before Christianity:

In the ninth century BCE, the peoples of four distinct regions of the civilized world created the religious and philosophical traditions that have continued to nourish humanity to the present day: Confucianism and Daoism in China, Hinduism and Buddhism in India, monotheism in Israel, and philosophical rationalism in Greece. Later generations further developed these initial insights, but we have never grown beyond them. Rabbinic Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, for example, were all secondary flowerings of the original Israelite vision. Now, in The Great Transformation, Karen Armstrong reveals how the sages of this pivotal "Axial Age" can speak clearly and helpfully to the violence and desperation that we experience in our own times.

Armstrong traces the development of the Axial Age chronologically, examining the contributions of such figures as the Buddha, Socrates, Confucius, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, the mystics of the Upanishads, Mencius, and Euripides. All of the Axial Age faiths began in principled and visceral recoil from the unprecedented violence of their time. Despite some differences of emphasis, there was a remarkable consensus in their call for an abandonment of selfishness and a spirituality of compassion. With regard to dealing with fear, despair, hatred, rage, and violence, the Axial sages gave their people and give us, Armstrong says, two important pieces of advice: first there must be personal responsibility and self-criticism, and it must be followed by practical, effective action.

Even if Jesus was real, his teachings weren't original. And even if he wasn't, the early Christians adopted and preached much older principles of compassion and selflessness. Unfortunately, those principles haven't caught on as the old sages had hoped.


(13,436 posts)
36. About the beatitudes
Sun Feb 18, 2024, 03:47 PM
Feb 2024

From the perspective of a religion for a slave economy, the 'blessed be's' are a near perfect ideology for slaves. Be good now, you go to heaven.

The other ethics are common to many religions and are essentially 'try to not be an utter asshole'.


(1,408 posts)
41. Attributed incorrectly.
Sun Feb 18, 2024, 04:19 PM
Feb 2024

Christian texts present these ideas as if Jesus thought of them for the first time, or at least independently. But these mostly humanist notions were around long before Jesus. That doesn't mean Jesus stole or plagiarized. He probably just preached generally recognized social values to his followers.

Think. Again.

(9,231 posts)
53. But those are basic 'good' human traits that go all the way back, way before the Jesus thing, aren't they?
Sun Feb 18, 2024, 06:47 PM
Feb 2024


(1,058 posts)
21. "The Christian theory is little else than
Sun Feb 18, 2024, 03:06 PM
Feb 2024

the idolatry of the ancient mythologists accommodated to the purposes of power and revenue." --- Thomas Paine


(2,914 posts)
24. I said something similar above,
Sun Feb 18, 2024, 03:25 PM
Feb 2024

But damn.. Paine does is it so much more succinctly and plainly than I ever could!

lonely bird

(1,709 posts)
23. Imo, a person that came to be called Yeshua
Sun Feb 18, 2024, 03:25 PM
Feb 2024

Did exist. Which actually is irrelevant. Christianity was/is derived from the letters allegedly written by Paul and the theology created by the so-called Church Fathers. Yeshua may or may not have said what it is alleged he said. Furthermore, imo, said person did not create a new religion.

The Gospels are not history just as Genesis is not history. There is much that the Gospel assemblers borrowed from Hebrew writings including the so-called prophets to fill in a picture that was necessary during the extended time frame which the creation of Christianity required.

There is also the problem of errors which gets ignored. One example is the confusion between “young girl” and “virgin” in Isaiah. Another is the Ark story. We all know that the animals were chosen male and female. Reading a little more and we see Noah was to take 7 pairs of clean animals yet the dietary laws do not appear in Genesis nor does God tell Noah which ones are clean.


(2,914 posts)
25. I even asked my sister
Sun Feb 18, 2024, 03:31 PM
Feb 2024

A nominal catholic, why the religion was called Christianity since it seemed to be all about Paul and his hangup. He could even be called a usurper, since didn't Christ say to Peter... you are my rock (foundation) upon you do I build my church. Seen this way, all of Christianity is fake, as it goes against the very foundation Christ set and politically buckled under Paul... who seemed to have a real problem with sex and women, for two points.

Priest goes to heaven, and finds out the word was celebrate... not celibate! /gryn


(2,910 posts)
27. The repetition of ancient themes in christian myth
Sun Feb 18, 2024, 03:36 PM
Feb 2024

The repetition of ancient themes in christian myth makes me doubt the historical factuality. The central image of Christianity is the cross or crucifix, the symbol of sacrifice by torture, used in an act of sacrificial atonement. Such sacrifices date to extreme antiquity.

Human sacrifice is an essential, founding myth of the Abrahamic religions. Abraham's son Isaac being spared by an angel at the last second sounds like a fictional device, softening the story. This act has obvious parallels to "God" (Jehovah, Yahweh) offering his son as sacrifice.

Atonement through sacrifice was a common ancient practice, often using animals (scapegoat), but sometimes people. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scapegoat

The new testament message of love and kindness, rebooting the violence and bloodiness of the old testament, has been interpreted by some as a rumor of Gautama Buddha's teachings (ca 500 BC) reaching the Mediterranean world.

Another ancient theme repeated in the bible is The Flood, which is also described in the Epic of Gilgamesh, dating to 2100 BC.

To my thinking, the only original contribution of Abrahamic mythology is monopatriarchy. I don't say monotheism. In the Abrahamics, only the male divine principle is worshipped; the female principle is denied or sublimated into Mary-worship. Christianity has a divine Father and Son. The mother is a human vessel used only to incarnate the male Divine.

I think that Jesus, like The Flood, may have had some actual historical inspiration, maybe some minor local celebrity not notable enough to make it into the written record. Robert Graves, in King Jesus, theorized that Jesus was a political revolutionary who wanted to establish a thousand-year reign of him and his disciples, the Millenium.

An interesting speculative fiction read is "Behold The Man" by Michael Moorcock, an sf novella which won the 1967 Nebula Award and was later expanded to novel form. I won't give spoilers, except that it involves time travel.

What REALLY disturbs me is the bloody theocracy of Christianized Rome as it fell. This set the tone for centuries of oppression and conflict.

Thanks for the very educational link.

*cross-commented from https://www.democraticunderground.com/1016372881


(3,102 posts)
31. Jesus died again yesterday in Navalny's death
Sun Feb 18, 2024, 03:43 PM
Feb 2024

Jesus is an archetype for an innocent person of truth, integrity, and power. Jesus dies and is reborn every single day. There’s nothing difficult about this — it’s Jung 101. Navalny’s cause remains and will be reborn.


(11,367 posts)
33. Our calendar is all wrong then?
Sun Feb 18, 2024, 03:46 PM
Feb 2024

The Romans and the church keep pretty good records. History or an opinion?


(13,436 posts)
64. Just for the record, this forum is open
Mon Feb 19, 2024, 11:34 AM
Feb 2024

for all opinions on all religions or lack of religions. It is not a protected forum for the devout. There are other forums for that.


(13,436 posts)
66. Your opinion is welcome.
Mon Feb 19, 2024, 05:23 PM
Feb 2024

Sometimes people in this forum have a misunderstanding about the forum rules and express their anger about what they view as inappropriate or hurtful comments on their religion.


(10,070 posts)
39. Well
Sun Feb 18, 2024, 03:57 PM
Feb 2024

Julius Caesar introduced the Julian calendar in 46 BC, which was much better than the Roman calendar. He added an extra day to February every four years to keep it on schedule with the seasons. Pope Gregory XIII invented the Gregorian calendar in 1582; most countries use it today.


(524 posts)
40. I cite, for example.....
Sun Feb 18, 2024, 04:05 PM
Feb 2024

JESUS, A MYTH by the Danish philosopher Georg Brandes (1926). [link:https://archive.org/details/jesusmyth0000bran/page/n5/mode/2up|

Brandes noted the absolute silence of contemporaries about Jesus and likened him to the Swiss legends of Wilhelm Tell, an imaginary figure told in a background of invented history.

Jesus was so completely without contemporary witnesses that the Talmud, treating him some centuries later as an enemy of Judaism, generated its own gossip about him - but casting him a full century earlier than the New Testament does. See: [link:https://archive.org/details/didjesuslive100b00meaduoft/page/n5/mode/2up|


(2,320 posts)
44. Thought this theory was interesting & logical: Roman Emperors Invented Christianity
Sun Feb 18, 2024, 04:26 PM
Feb 2024


Christianity was created by the Roman state, and the New Testament was Roman propaganda designed to pacify fanatically rebellious Jews. This is the boldly original thesis James Valliant and Warren Fahy present in Creating Christ: How Roman Emperors Invented Christianity.

The Romans dominated a vast polyglot, multicultural, religiously tolerant empire of conquered nations. They adroitly co-opted the gods and customs of subjugated peoples as a means of assimilating enemy tribes under their political hegemony.


Religious fanatics from the Middle East are waging an assault on Western Civilization, and have just struck a demoralizing blow to the very capital of “foreign decadence.” Leery of war with an entire people, the West acknowledges only advocates of peace to be “true” followers of the terrorists’ religion. Indeed, Western leaders claim that their attackers’ own dogma commands peace.


The year is 66 C.E. The civilization under attack is the Roman Empire. And the terrorists: an ancient fanatical sect of Judaism

The part about Jesus saying render unto Caesar what is Caesar's and render onto God what is God's might have been a bonus thought up by some ass kissing Roman tax collector. Pretty sure Caesar would likely have loved that part.

So, was it really a clever political invention? Hmm, as I look about at what passes for Christianity now, and perhaps for my lifetime, there certainly is/has been a lot of political power harvested of the seeds 'Jesus' is said to have planted. A lot of editing over the years. All political in nature and exercise. We sure let powerful people/political structures roll over us in the name of 'believing'.


(8,167 posts)
45. One bit of evidence that Jesus did exist
Sun Feb 18, 2024, 04:48 PM
Feb 2024

is the lengths the Gospel writers went through to square the person they were writing about with Hebrew prophecies about the Messiah.

One example being the whole "born in Bethlehem because Augustus wanted to tax the world" nonsense.

If the whole character of Jesus was made from whole cloth, why not just say the dude was born in Bethlehem and leave it at that? Why the whole song and dance about his parents having to leave Nazareth and having to find a cowshed in Bethlehem for his birth?

I suspect the reason was that too many people still alive when the oral tradition started--the accounts that were eventually written down--remembered he was called "Jesus of Nazareth" or whatever the Aramaic would have been. And if he was truly "of Nazareth" then he couldn't be the Messiah because that's not what the prophecy said.

So--the whole story about taxation. In an era before newspapers or public archives it would have been easier to fake this story than to convince people that the religious texts they had been taught all their lives didn't say what they said.

One other point: it keeps being said that the Romans kept "voluminous records" and such. This is hardly true. By comparison to our post printing press world Roman record keeping was sketchy at best, and almost entirely utilitarian, meaning accounts of finances, military pay and such. Then too, the vast if not overwhelming majority of Classical records have been lost over time. Even famous manuscripts have disappeared. Aristophanes--who definitely did exist--wrote some forty plays--all famous in their day and the equivalent to our best sellers--but less than a dozen survive. Sappho was famous among her contemporaries and generations afterwards, considered the greatest lyric poet of antiquity. Almost none of her work survives, and most that we do have is in fragments.

To expect then that various contemporary accounts of an obscure and probably illiterate country preacher--one among hundreds--preaching to a predominantly illiterate audience would somehow inevitably survive is hardly credible.

We'll probably never know one way or the other if there was or wasn't an "historical Jesus." But lack of a contemporary account is in no way conclusive evidence that he didn't.


(14,369 posts)
46. Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.
Sun Feb 18, 2024, 05:03 PM
Feb 2024

Yes, I know who said that, but the principle is not wrong.

The article is interesting, but the headline is a stretch.


(33,747 posts)
48. It actually is evidence
Sun Feb 18, 2024, 06:29 PM
Feb 2024

If something is postulated to exist, there must eventually be evidence for it. The Ether, N-Rays, Cold Fusion. The absence of evidence was evidence of absence. Same with Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster and Saint Christopher.
It doesn't mean there is not a opening for evidence to be presented. But without evidence the default should be what is in question did not exist.


(111,559 posts)
47. There was a revolution some years after his death
Sun Feb 18, 2024, 06:26 PM
Feb 2024

and most likely local records were destroyed. There would be no records in Rome, the matter was too unimportant.

IOW, we can't know whether or not an itinerant preacher called Yeshua pissed off both the Jews and the Romans and got crucified.

What we do know is that the early Jesus cult spread rapidly and widely. Archaeology has turned up ROTAS squares in both Pompeii and Herculaneum, so we know they'd gotten that far by 79CE.


(33,747 posts)
49. I had heard that Christianity
Sun Feb 18, 2024, 06:35 PM
Feb 2024

Last edited Sun Feb 18, 2024, 09:12 PM - Edit history (1)

was just one interpretation of the squares.
But yes, by this period there were enough followers for Mark to write the first Gospel.


(111,559 posts)
57. Washn't he dead by this time?
Sun Feb 18, 2024, 08:45 PM
Feb 2024

More likely, someone who had been following him around since childhood wrote down what he remembered, that someone else edited, that someone else embellished.

Factural reoorting is extremely recent.


(33,747 posts)
58. Not Mark the Apostle
Sun Feb 18, 2024, 09:14 PM
Feb 2024

But the Gospel of Mark, written in Greek by someone not really named Mark. It was the first Gospel of the ones we still know of, probably written around 70AD.


(33,747 posts)
50. An interesting observation
Sun Feb 18, 2024, 06:37 PM
Feb 2024

is how many in this country though Q was real.
But I think we can clearly state that the Jesus portrayed in the Bible did not exist, even if there was a man, or men he was loosely based on.


(14,144 posts)
51. Look up Jim Palmer
Sun Feb 18, 2024, 06:42 PM
Feb 2024

Not the baseball player, but former megachurch pastor. He writes some very refreshing articles on this very subject.



(13,728 posts)
54. I'm just getting started studying what I agree is the evolution of religion. I watched a lot of Bart Ehrman on his
Sun Feb 18, 2024, 06:57 PM
Feb 2024

YouTube channel and MythVision. I stumbled in those because I was watching a lot of ancient history. It's all connected.

To me, the clusterfuck we have is people of the Abrahamic religions not being able to agree on what Jesus was. If any of it was true, I doubt that's what he would have had in mind.


(14,369 posts)
61. Very peculiar presentation of this statistic:
Sun Feb 18, 2024, 10:55 PM
Feb 2024
The veracity of his sayings and deeds was decided by a group vote. Scholars were invited to place plastic beads in a box: red (three points) if Jesus said it; pink (two points) if he probably said it; grey (one point) if he didn’t, but it reflected his ideas; black (zero) if invented. When tallied, there were black or grey beads for 82 per cent of Jesus’ Biblical sayings, and 84 per cent of his deeds.

So a group of scholars voted on each saying or incident, and if there was one (two if we are being generous, since they used the plural) black or gray beads, that counts as a black mark. But it does not seem at all surprising that there is some degree of doubt among scholars about each incident. The way it is phrased creates the impression that those numbers represent the consensus opinion, rather than the fact that there were one or two individual doubters in a group we know included several atheists. That strikes me as misleading, or at least an odd way to phrase that.

A more representative presentation would be to show a bar graph for each question, or at least tell us how many of the other colors there were, so we could gauge the proportions and winnow out the more spurious quotations. That would have been nice to include, and even seems like a deliberate oversight, given the author had access to all the results.
Latest Discussions»Issue Forums»Religion»There was no Jesus