Easter, A Time To Ponder Jesus’ Existance

For several years there has been a lively debate as to whether the human Jesus did or did not exist. The link has a short but fair review of the arguments.

The no-Jesus argument seems strange to believers. There is no powerful or reliable surviving writing that talks of an actual human Jesus. What is written about Jesus is what we see in the Bible.

That Jesus was written only in the Bible and in two references sources from Bible or Christian promoters of the time does not mean Jesus did not exist. It does mean we have writing about Jesus mixed in with events that were fiction and only by subjectively deciding which was history and which fiction can one make the claim a Jesus existed.

One way some Christians handle this problem is to say Jesus was both a human and a spiritual being. By doing this the problematic arguments about him being human can be dismissed as being the spiritual Jesus. That is, no one has seen God. Jesus has not been seen except in Bible stories, neither has God. But, we know God exists so Jesus exists, goes the reasoning.

As the link author explains, it will make little difference to the believer if Jesus is proven to have existed or not. It is religion. Religion is about what people believe.

The author explains that looking for Jesus is like looking for him down a well. What you see looking back is yourself.

27 Responses

  1. entech

    I remember Chistopher Hitchens saying you could make a good case for the story that Jesus was a myth. But being a sensible chap he never made it an assertion any more than he would say that it was definite that God did not exist.
    I agree with Carrier’s methodology when talking of the existence of God. There are many arguments for the existence of a creator entity, a creator that is of necessity eternal and outside of this universe of time and spave in which we exist. I do think about and sometimes prevaricate a little but always come down on the side of non-belief. When you can seriously consider that a creator does exist you start on a whole lot of questions, if you listen to W.L. Craig and his argument for everything having a beginning or a cause necessitating an uncaused, personal creator and so on:
    “… transcending the entire universe there exists a cause which brought the universe into being ex nihilo … our whole universe was caused to exist by something beyond it and greater than it. For it is no secret that one of the most important conceptions of what theists mean by ‘God’ is Creator of heaven and earth.”
    There are many arguments for and against all depending on different assumption and all eventually depending on the weight you give to your assumptions. I must admit my own reasing starts off pretty negative. The main reason Craig ultimately fails is when he states, “To me the most likely cause is the Christian God”. It is a long and convoluted path from the possibility of a prime mover to fish on Friday.

    The existence of an actual Jesus is the opposite to me, starting from the assumption that Yeshua existed as opposed to it is all a myth I come down on the side of existence. I am not in any way convinced that the NT is a historical and accurate story but I do think it describes someone that lived and preached in Palestine. It may, probably is, an amalgam of several different peripatetic preachers. Crucifixion story is most likely true just as the resurrection story is false.
    The much derided Bart Ehrman is a very outspoken writer against the “mythical Jesus” story.

    Of course without a crucifixion narrative which includes a resurrection there is no basis for Easter or for Christianity.

  2. Catcher

    Jon; After I got back home for the weekend, I turned on to Red River Freethinkers just to see what was up. I got a pop up, with a threatening message stating I was infected with a block %^&*&%^$/ warning not to delete before fixing. Included was a phone number to call I called, and they said they could fix it for $85.00. He was difficult to understand.(India). I said I’d think about it as it sounded like a scam. It didn’t pass the smell test. I’m not a computer whiz, so I called a family member who has a masters in computer sciences. I was told to shut down, and re-boot. All OK now. I was also told that the Freethinkers site is most likely infected, and you probably don’t even know it. I haven’t had this happen before. Don’t know if any others here have had the same experience, but thought a heads up would be good.

    1. Catcher–Thanks for that. They can attach themselves to addresses and when you click on an address you have used they might have moved in. We get called regularly from India, it seems like the same guy over and over. He asked, “Are you having trouble with your computer?” What they want to do is get you to agree to allow them to enter your computer from their location so they can look around for bank accounts, pass words, etc.

      If the problem come up for other people or persists for you I’ll let Area Voices know.

    2. entech

      Some scams ar more obvious than others, never had that particular one from areavoices but got a spate of them at one time. As you noted the best aproach is simply turn everything off (I usually go for a coffe at this stage) leave it for a while till whatever is in memory goes from a lack of refreshing and start again.
      Sometimes I get someone pretending to be microsoft, to confuse them I say I am using anandroid machine and they go. (whether they can tell or not or just realise I am taking the urine it doesn’t matter they just go)
      I have had similar to yours but it says dont delete or turn off we will have to report you for illegal activity.’

      On the turn off and restart idea (works most times) I had a new cordless phone that was playing up something awful, I contacted the phone company and after a chat the techo told me to turn off, take the batteries out, then start again the next morning “äs if new” worked like a charm.

  3. Juan Ruiz

    The last few decades have witnessed an explosion of published work dedicated to the study of whether Jesus actually existed and, if so, what his true message was. Was he a peasant revolutionary (Crossan), a Cynic (Funk), a Pharisee (Maccoby), or something else? G.A. Wells maintains he never existed; he was much like William Tell: a legendary figure.

    The fact that there is no contemporary mention of him, despite the enormous claims of the gospels of his work, suggests he may not have lived. Josephus simply reports what others said about him. But that was 2 generations later. Paul is clueless, not even putting him into an historical time frame. But then Paul has no interest a human figure.

  4. Matthew Weaver

    After reading your blog, I’m curious to hear your thoughts on Josephus and his references to Jesus in his writings. Maybe you could dedicate a future post to the subject?

    1. Matthew 7:28 Thank you for the comment and question about the ancient author, Josephus. I have read a lot about the Josephus comment and wrote about it 3 or 4 years ago.

      As poster Juan pointed out, Josephus made a brief reference to Jesus two generations later. There is a pile of books devoted to the brief reference. Believers point out this was a non Biblical source and thus powerful evidence of the existence of the Jesus character in Bible stories. There are many perplexing things are the reference besides that it came along long after the alleged life of Jesus.

      One is insertion of the reference in a narrative about something else. All would agree the writing of Josephus was copied over and over by scribes so the question is, did scribes have there own agendas over this long period of time? Skeptics suggest scribes loyal to Christianity inserted the reference to Jesus long after Josephs died.

      Joseph’s writing was much about traveling around and reporting what he learned. According to his narrative, he traveled very close to where Jesus was supposed to have lived. Skeptics wonder why this curious recorder of the region’s history never mentioned Jesus’ town nor conversations with those who might have close links to him.

      A more powerful reason to doubt the Josephus reference is what it says. According information passed down about Josephus, he was a devout Jew. He was even a Jewish clergyman. There is no evidence he converted to Christianity. Yet, in the reference attributed to him he refers to Jesus as the savior prophesied. The argument is made that no Jew would have agreed then, nor would agree today, Jesus was the one prophesied.

      The door is left open to take Josephus seriously or not. There is lots of writing which took place at the period attributed to Jesus that has survived. Jesus was not written about. Even more writing, we can assume, did not survive. And, maybe more will be discovered and it will include Jesus. For now we are left with what we have.

      1. Juan Ruiz

        “He was even a Jewish clergyman.”

        This is not quite accurate. You are equating Josephus’ standing as a Sadducee with modern day clergy. The Sadducees were Temple functionaries, as well as part of the Jerusalem aristocracy. They saw to animal sacrifice, maintenance of the Temple, and other bureaucratic responsibilities. It was the Pharisees who were the theologians. Lamentably, the gospels meld them together, when there was a good deal of animosity between them. The “priests and scribes” habitually harry Jesus, trying to get him to declare blasphemy. Pure gospel BS and Christian propaganda, written for Gentiles in the Diaspora who had no clue what Judaism was all about.

      2. Matthew Weaver

        Thanks for the info and sorry for the late reply. I must admit i haven’t studied Josephus much. You have given me reason to now. As long as we are on the book topic, have you ever read Lee Stroble’s book, The Case for Christ? He investigated much of the same things that you and your readers question.

        1. Matthew 8:25 As long as we are on the book topic, have you ever read Lee Stroble’s book, The Case for Christ? He investigated much of the same things that you and your readers question.

          I have not read Stroble. I have on my bookshelf several books by authors who believe there was a historical figure, Jesus. They argue from a variety of perspectives, the volume written, what might be called separate threads of stories in the Bible each considered independent and that people who wrote, or recopied and edited the Bible knew the oral history of Jesus and did not think it necessary to write about it.

          Unless some new writing is unearthed by archaeologists we will never know if there was or was not a human Jesus. To me, those writers who see all the Jesus quotes and stories coming from a single source, the band of believers whose intent was to convert, makes the most sense. One of the aspects that really shuts down my option to believe is Paul.

          Today, a Paul would have gone about collecting information from those who had know the human Jesus and wrote about what Jesus said and did. Instead, he, or later scribes inserting what they wanted Paul to have written, riffed on “visions” Paul had. Why use “visions” when the real product should have been all around you? The answer, to me, is there was no real product

  5. joe

    I ponder why people belief somethings that have been passed down from 2,000 years ago: like “he was a devout Jew” “he was a Jewish clergyman” “they saw to animal sacrifice” but choose not to belief other things that have been passed down from that same time period. It reaffirms my theory that it’s one of two reasons for the writings. 1. A longing for conversion. 2. Satan agent trying to blot out God.

    1. Joe 2:27 It reaffirms my theory that it’s one of two reasons for the writings. 1. A longing for conversion. 2. Satan agent trying to blot out God.

      I really like the second one better. Tell all your friends I am a Satan agent trying to blot out God.

      Then, when your friends ask you why you read my blog, you had better answer in this way. “…?” I really don’t know what excuse you would have for reading the blog of an agent of Satan.

  6. joe

    Maybe I am secretly longing to gently nudge you to convert from an agent of Satan to a believer in God and use your platform to convert and lead many souls towards the truth. May God touch you during this blessed Easter season.

    1. Joe 3:39 Maybe I am secretly longing to gently nudge you to convert from an agent of Satan to a believer in God and use your platform to convert and lead many souls towards the truth.

      Or, maybe you have come to question the faith and are exploring ways to leave.

    2. Juan Ruiz

      “Easter”

      Christians are taught to praise the Lord and be thankful for Easter. Few ever stop and ask why an omnipotent god demanded a blood sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins. Why didn’t he just raise his hand and say “I forgive you?” Perhaps there were forces more powerful than he was.

      1. entech

        The Christian God does seem to have a love for the blood of his creation, every agreement needs it whether it be circumcision or crucifixion.

        1. Juan Ruiz

          The Christian god has his origins in a time when human sacrifice was part of the program. Much like other religions, you made human blood sacrifices to appease the deity, who was a micromanager and demanded simpering sycophants, due to his self-esteem problems. Over time, this evolved; the Abraham/Isaac story was an attempt to eliminate human sacrifice. Christianity, which is nothing more than a combination of Hellenic/Gnostic theology, thanks to Saul of Tarsus, had to explain the conversion of a Che Guevara revolutionary against Rome, into a god, while blaming the Jews who were a competing religion. Two millennia later, the explanation still has no validity.

      2. There all these people who claim to have been dead, came back to life and become celebrities writing books, etc. Why didn’t they claim to be Jesus? There would be even more money in that.

  7. joe

    This site is listed under the heading of religion and spirituality on the online newspaper, with whatever topic heading you have. So one clicks on religion and spirituality and it takes you to the article. What religion are you or what spirituality? Again may God’s graces touch you during this Easter season.

    1. Jinx

      Seems right to me. For every action there is an opposite reaction……..religion/antireligion, wet/dry, love/hate…….you get the picture.

    2. entech

      A few years ago I was most amused to find Dawkins shelved under religion. Thinking about it where else? perhaps there should subcategories positive, negative and so on.

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