Jesus is not God....part 2

Discussion in 'Christianity' started by bruce, Jun 23, 2004.

  1. mee

    mee Interfaith Forums

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    Jesus himself said: "The Father is greater than I am." (John 14:28)

    We should believe Jesus, for he surely knew the truth about his relationship to his Father.

    The apostle Paul also knew that God was superior to Jesus, and he said: "The Son [Jesus] himself will also subject himself to . . . God." (1 Corinthians 15:28)

    This is further seen in Paul’s statement at 1 Corinthians 11:3: "The head of the Christ is God."

    Jesus acknowledged that he had a superior God when he said to his disciples: "I am ascending to my Father and your Father and to my God and your God."—John 20:17.
     
  2. 17th Angel

    17th Angel לבעוט את התחת ולקחת שמות

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    If jesus was god, I am just going from thought now, as I have been over the scriptures and I am along the lines of mee on that point. but just plain ol' simple thought, why did God almighty have to send himself to save us? If he personally wished to save us, all he had to do was reach down into his endless, bottomless void of mercy and forgiveness and say sure all is forgiven.. And also on thought, I refuse to believe my god can bleed. and that my god was born of woman... No human created my god. We seem to be getting it backwards. I see from the scripture these are two different beings... But also deep down I have major issues with a man being my god.
     
  3. Quahom1

    Quahom1 What was the question?

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    You once stated God was unfathomable, Alex. Jesus fixed that by becoming man... want to get close to someone? Become like them.
     
  4. mee

    mee Interfaith Forums

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    Jesus had a pre-human
    Existence.



    The person who became known as Jesus Christ did not begin life here on earth.

    He himself spoke of his prehuman heavenly life. (Joh 3:13; 6:38, 62; 8:23, 42, 58)

    John 1:1, 2 gives the heavenly name of the one who became Jesus, saying: "In the beginning the Word [Gr., Lo´gos] was, and the Word was with God, and the Word was a god ["was divine," AT; Mo; or "of divine being," Böhmer; Stage (both German)]. This one was in the beginning with God."

    Since Jehovah is eternal and had no beginning (Ps 90:2; Re 15:3), the Word’s being with God from "the beginning" must here refer to the beginning of Jehovah’s creative works.


    This is confirmed by other texts identifying Jesus as "the firstborn of all creation," "the beginning of the creation by God." (Col 1:15; Re 1:1; 3:14)


    so as we can see,the Scriptures identify the Word (Jesus in his prehuman existence) as God’s first creation, his firstborn Son.


    That Jehovah was truly the Father or Life-Giver to this firstborn Son and, hence, that this Son was actually a creature of God is evident from Jesus’ own statements.

    He pointed to God as the Source of his life, saying, "I live because of the Father."

    According to the context, this meant that his life resulted from or was caused by his Father, even as the gaining of life by dying men would result from their faith in Jesus’ ransom sacrifice.—Joh 6:56, 57.


     
  5. eccles

    eccles Interfaith Forums

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    There is no "god" and the existance of Jesus is doubtfull. How do you know the sayings of Jesus have been written accurately. None of those who wrote the Gospels actually heard Jesus say those things. As it seem the Gospel of Mark, the fisrt Gospel written, was written about 70CE that is 40 years after the event. Who would be able to give accurate quotes of what was said 40 years ago. How do we know the copies are accurate? There are no extant authorized manuscripts to confirm accuracy. And remember what was done at the Council of Nicea.
     
  6. Operacast

    Operacast Member

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    I think it time to talk turkey once and for all on the inherent flaws in the position taken by some that Jesus never existed, not even as a simple non-miraculous human being, let alone a supernatural one. In fact, positing that he was indeed a simple non-miraculous human being is not at all ludicrous.

    So it’s time for a reality check here. I found two sets of remarks on the Net written by an atheist concerning the James passage in Josephus’s Antiquities, XX. The writer’s name is Tim O’Neill. O’Neill writes:

    1. [POST] Zealots with an axe to grind can find a way to “deconstruct” the data for even the most reasonable ideas if they try hard enough. Their deconstructions are contrived and forced and usually only convincing to fellow zealots, but they can do it with ease. See Holocaust Deniers and Creationists for examples of this.

    This is precisely what we find with the Jesus Mythers. Yes, the James mentioned by Josephus could be some other James who, like the one mentioned in the Christian tradition, just happened to also have a brother called Jesus who was also called “Annointed” and he could also have been executed by the Jewish priesthood just like the James who Paul claims he met. This remarkable sequence of coincidences are all possible. But the application of Occam’s Razor to this idea shows anyone other than a blinkered Myther zealot that this idea strains credulity. It makes far more sense that what we have here is a confluence of evidence indicating that Jesus did exist and did have a brother called James.

    This is why you can count the number of professional scholars who think Jesus didn’t exist on the fingers of one hand and the Myther position is dominated by amateur polemicists like Doherty and Carrier and New Age loons like Dorothy “Acharya S” Murdock. [/POST] (The Forbidden Gospels Blog: My decision about The Jesus Project)

    And in the other passage, O’Neill starts off by citing a previous poster and then proceeds to make his additional point:

    2. [POST] “Historian Richard Carrier talks about the James/Josephus passage and about how it probably was never intended to refer to the Christian James. After all, this James was killed over a violation of some minor Jewish law, which the Sanhedrin was none too pleased with. This would be very odd if this James was a leader of heretical Jewish cult.”

    Carrier is a guy who needs to make up his mind whether he wants to be a historian or an activist. At the moment he has too many blunt anti-Christian axes to grind for me to take him seriously as an objective researcher. Historians with an agenda are usually poor historians. And I say that as someone who is an atheist myself.

    There is nothing unlikely about the story Josephus tells about James. He doesn’t say that “the Sanhedrin” objected to his execution, he says that an objection was made by “those who seemed the most equitable of the citizens”. We’re given no clear indication as to who these concerned citizens were, though it’s clear that (i) they were important enough to be able to write to the Roman prefect, (ii) they were important enough for him to pay attention to them and (iii) they were no friends of the High Priest and seemed to want to bring him down.

    What they object to is not the death of heretic, but the usurpation of power by Ananus. And their objective seems to have been Ananus’ removal. Who or what James was is likely to have been pretty incidental in this political play. [/POST] (Answers in Genesis BUSTED!: Did Jesus Exist? A Response to Blair Scott)

    These two sets of remarks express to a T my problem with the entire mythicist racket. Because it is a racket, and that’s all it is.

    I was not brought up as a Christian; I was brought up by two agnostic/atheist academics who never attended any religious institution, for whom reading continually was as natural as breathing. Reading became as natural as breathing for myself and my brother as well. So the knee-jerk argument that anyone crediting the plausibility of historic references to Jesus must be brainwashed by religion is baloney. Not only is it baloney as applied to me; it’s baloney as applied to 99.9% of the extremely skeptical colleagues and friends of my parents whom I got to know — and know well — when growing up.

    The reason why so many rigorous NON-DENOMINATIONAL scholars and academics with degrees and professional training in this field — professional scholars like April DeConick — continue to be so leery of these fanciful mythicist notions is because they so often do require a flagrant disregard of the principle of Occam’s Razor. Not only are we supposed to assume a series of coincidences in order to shrug off Chapter XX of the Josephus Antiquities; that is compounded by a similarly twisted skein of reasoning that we must evidently apply to Galatians — at the same time! Both texts(!!!!!!!!!) just happen to have been coincidentally distorted vis-a-vis the way they’re read today. How convenient is that?

    The dishonest methods of many of the mythicists suggest in addition a proselytizing mindset rather than a research one. This really isn’t just a matter of whether or not some ancient eccentric did or didn’t exist. It’s a very basic misinformation campaign on how to read history. My atheist father happened to be a pretty d**n rigorous history professor, and I don’t mind saying that this whole discussion is turning pretty personal for me, as a result.

    To be even blunter about this, one chief concern I have about this Jesus mythicist program is the way their dishonest methods might really take off, if they're not checked right now, and bleed over into successful denialist agendas aimed at other crucial hinges in history like the Armenian genocide, the Trail of Tears, the Nazi holocaust, the McCarthy era, the Flight 93 heroes, Stalin's gulags, the Guantanamo gulag, the Allende assassination, ante-bellum slavery, the Salem witch trials, the Rwanda genocide, Srebenica, the Spanish Inquisition, and on and on. It's no joke. Whether or not you accept the Christian creed, the way the Roman Empire treated not only Jesus but many of his colleagues and his posthumous followers for over a century is simply shameful. And it's creepy to me the way people even now are still trying to "forget" the Armenian genocide. While I'm happy that Obama was forthright enough in his latest trip abroad in decrying anyone who denies the Nazi holocaust, his not holding Turkey's feet to the fire on the Armenians is uncomfortably convenient, IMO.

    Reading the downright lying assertions by various mythicists -- [paraphrases]"Paul never refers to Jesus as a human being who lived and died"(!), "there are many suspicions voiced on Antiquities 20 by accredited scholars in academe"(!), "all Jesus's sayings uniformly have precedents in prior philosophies and creeds"(!) -- I can easily imagine the same Big-Lie tactics used against the evidence for the Trail of Tears, the McCarthy era, the Guantanamo gulag and so on.........."Oh, historians exaggerate, show me where there are actual contemporary reports or accounts of even one entire Japanese-American family being summarily swept up without due process; why everyone knows the [so-and-so] account was just faked and there's no reference to that text until many years after the war was all over" or "Anne Frank was a fictional character, obviously, and it shouldn't surprise us that she's passed off as having died in a camp so no one can question her" or "the Spanish Inquisition was hardly as cruel as anti-Catholics like to make out; it's just a conspiracy to put everything that's Roman Catholic in a bad light". Do remarks like these seem ridiculous? Yes. But that hardly changes how dangerous they are.

    Wake up, folks! This mythicist agenda provides deadly tools of prevarication and elaborate lies through sheer repetition that can be sharpened and used in 101 different ways to cover up any number of atrocities that ought never be forgotten but may be. Somebody better start collecting eyewitness accounts of Guantanamo/Abu Ghraib now. Put them all in a carefully sourced book before denialists can pounce.

    Don't let any Big Lie go unchallenged. Ever. It was the Big Lie that FDR's banking laws were unneeded that precipitated the laissez-faire time bomb in the '80s leading to the big crash of '08. History DOES repeat itself if not safeguarded vigilantly. Don't let tools of the Big Lie in the mythicist arsenal become sharpened weapons for every whitewash of every atrocity in history. In the age of the Web, any trickster can communicate with everyone and get away with anything; the time to challenge Big-Lie methods is right now. Not through censorship, but through backbone. Talk back. Don't be cowed by a sneer.

    I surprise myself by how increasingly alarmed I now feel at the mythicist agenda. As anything but a traditional believer, I have gone through stages in which I once viewed the theory as unlikely but still possible. Where I surprise myself today is the degree to which the more I read mythicist tracts, the more unexpected is my response. Maybe I half thought that further reading might intrigue me more with a possibility that even Jesus the ordinary man, let alone the Son-of-God-Cosmic-Savior-Miracle-Worker-Resurrectionist, was also pure fiction. Usually, in-depth reading of a distinct point of view, especially from a neutral perspective, only gains one a better understanding of a given point of view. Well, it certainly did for me here...but not in a direction of more sympathy! -- Yes, it afforded a better understanding of the arguments; that's for sure. But at the same time, having started out neutral, a better understanding of the arguments only generated an unexpected feeling of being thoroughly creeped out!

    The problem's not a lack of evidence for an historical Jesus. It's a lack of 21st-century-type proof. This distinction between evidence and proof is rarely addressed. Now, 21st-century-type proof simply isn't out there; professional scholars in ancient history understand that. Compounding the problem is the anachronistic way many mythicists read even the most straightforward secular documents.

    Antiquities 20 is a typical example. One reason why mythicists look askance at the Ananus paragraph is because they don't see how somewhat discursive writing style comes with the territory in these old writings.

    On the one hand, it's true many mythicists assume one simply can't imagine Josephus using the term "Christ" under any circumstances. And on the other, a frequent reason given by mythicists why we should look askance at this reference is the odd word order. But the word order in "the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ [tou legomenou Christou], whose name was James" is characteristic of Josephus:


    Wars 2.21.1
    a man of Gischala, the son of Levi, whose name was Johnâ;

    Ant. 5.8.1
    but he had also one that was spurious, by his concubine Drumah, whose
    name was Abimelech;

    Ant. 11.5.1
    Now about this time a son of Jeshua, whose name was Joacim, was the
    high priest.

    This is a good example of why one should be steeped in the writing style before plunging in with both feet. The main remaining argument against Antiq. 20 is the notion of another sibling pair called James/Jesus, where this Jesus too is called "Annointed". This combination of hypotheticals, going against the Occam Razor principle, and of sheer coincidence boggles the mind!

    There's also my own impatience operating here; I freely admit that. I find the general evasiveness that marks the mythicist take drives me up the wall.

    (continued)
     
  7. Operacast

    Operacast Member

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    To illustrate once and for all some of the chief aspects in mythicists' methods that trouble me so, I'm going to provide here another posting that I submitted, goodness knows when(!), to another board. I was just starting my journey to real impatience with some of the mythicists at the time, but I wasn't yet where I am now. The discussion centered around an on-line extract of some of G.A.Wells, in response to a Holding piece against Wells's argument. I frankly find many of Holding's arguments dubious as well, so I found some of what Wells says rather cogent. What the appraisal of Wells's piece did for me, though, was help clarify, in my own mind, just why I'm troubled so by so much of the type of reasoning I see among the mythicists. I realize that Wells isn't really a true mythicist, but it strikes me that he buys into some of their methods.

    The article in question is at:

    A Reply to J.P. Holding...

    Here's what I wrote at the time --


    [POST] People who've cited Wells as another all-out mythicist -- and I include myself, unfortunately -- are simply wrong. If mythicists think to cite Wells as a way of showing that there is yet one more researcher out there who shares their views on historicity, they are sadly mistaken. This article makes it quite clear that Wells has concluded that there was definitely a real Galilean preacher who was called Jesus, who said the things credited to him in Q, and who lived in the first half of the 1st century c.e. At the same time, where most secular historians assume that this Jesus's purported Birth and Resurrection constitute ad hoc tales not associated with the real history of the Galilean preacher, Wells simply extends that to the actual execution as well, the crucifixion as an ad hoc tale as well.

    Wells makes this argument in the first half of the article and points, among other things, to the absence of anything to do with the Christ figure in Q. (OTOH, the name Jesus does appear 12 times [I made a count] in the Q passages, at least two of those being in a passage like Luke 9:57-60, where there is no mention of anything supernatural or miraculous. And this does not contradict Wells's contention, since he accepts the historicity of Jesus the Galilean preacher anyway.) He also points to the presence of the "Christ" term in numerous New Testament letters, not just Paul's, reminding the reader that many of these -- again, not just Paul's -- are presumed to be earlier than the Gospels.

    I have to say that up to a point (outlined below) Wells's case seems fairly persuasive that the Christ is one figure -- a supernatural entity envisioned purely by Paul -- and Jesus quite another -- a real Galilean preacher who lived during the first half of the 1st century c.e. In fact, the texts he describes in the article's first half, texts reflecting one figure or the other, appear consistent with his theory. He uses logic up to that point and seems ready to retain that logic for the article's second half. Throughout, his main focus is on Holding's argument against all his theories, and he seeks to show, by constantly referencing Holding, that his reasoning is far sounder than Holding's. Up to a point, it is. And one is prepared to expect him to maintain the disciplined logic that typifies his argument in the first half.

    But he doesn't. And when he drops that logic, he loses credibility and this reader's trust and his case collapses like a house of cards, IMO.

    The final section starts responsibly enough. Towards the end of the second half, after going through the most important secular non-Scriptural references to Jesus, and after showing their relative lateness and their essential "second-tier status", so to speak (possibly using hearsay from Christians), he finally addresses the two passages in Josephus's Antiquities from the 90s in the 1st century c.e. He spends quite some time on Antiquities 18, the T.F. passage, which has seemed, to scholars of various persuasions, somewhat corrupted, via Josephus's use of Christian terms and assertions. To those like myself who are fairly familiar with (and suspicious of) the odd Christian-like assertions here, and also familiar with the second-earliest text of this passage, which appears in an Arabic quote by someone else from the 10th century where none of the Christian glossing seems present (Eusebius's 4th-century citation is the earliest), Wells adds nothing new. But Wells is useful in that he assembles all the arguments against the authenticity of the fuller version extant in all the actual Antiquities mss., a manuscript tradition that only starts in the 11th century.

    So far, so good. But after using up eleven paragraphs on Antiquities 18, he only spends one paragraph on Antiquities 20, the Josephan reference to James as the brother of Jesus, called Christ! In that one paragraph, he writes:



    "The shorter passage in the Antiquities that mentions Jesus consists of a reference to James "the brother of Jesus, him called Christ". Holding recognizes that some scholars regard the phrase as interpolated, for reasons which I have given in JL, pp. 52-55. Certainly, the use of the term 'Christ' (Messiah) without explanation in both passages is not to be expected of Josephus who takes considerable care not to call anyone Christ or Messiah, as the term had overtones of revolution and independence, of which, as a lackey of the Roman royal house, he strongly disapproved. Also, it is not true that the phrase 'him called so-and-so' is either invariably dismissive in Josephus' usage (so that it would mean 'so-called', 'alleged' and so could not here be from a Christian hand), nor that 'him called Christ' is an unchristian usage an interpolator would have avoided. (On the contrary, the phrase occurs, as a designation of Jesus, both in the NT and in Justin Martyr's Apology, 1, 30.)"



    That's all. No acknowledgement that this account of James cannot come from Scripture, since it's different in substantive detail from anything about James we see in the canon. How likely then that this account ever came from believers? No discussion either of the target of the general outrage that Josephus describes in his paragraph 20, an outrage aimed at one Ananus for exceeding his authority. The focus of this paragraph is Ananus, not James, who remains incidental to Josephus's story here.

    No discussion either of the most salient aspect in the written documentation for this sentence: the fact that written references to this sentence, complete with "Jesus, him called Christ", are extant almost immediately upon Josephus's writing it, whereas with Antiquities 18 -- reflecting a pattern that Wells does not hesitate to underscore -- we have no reference until Eusebius's first as late as the 4th century, after which many centuries pass before we even get a second. Wells spends time on that curious pattern for Antiq. 18, but totally covers up the contrasting pattern for Antiq. 20. Here is where he loses credibility in my eyes. His integrity as a historian, all the careful reasoning that he displays in the first half -- all this seems abandoned in this perfunctory, dishonest and evasive paragraph on Antiq. 20.

    Finally, we have a truly evasive tactic in Wells's airy reference to "some scholars" feeling that this too is interpolated -- without explaining why "some" feel it's interpolated, as if the mere suspicion were good enough to put it under a cloud! Well, he does explain in detail why Antiq. 18 could have interpolations or could be interpolated wholesale; so why not provide the same detail for Antiq. 20? His merely saying that Josephus was unlikely to have ever used the term "Christ" does not deal in any disciplined way with this particular use of the term "Christ" in this particular passage! More evasion.

    In any case, there are a fair number of Jesus figures throughout Josephus. Specifying which Jesus Josephus is writing of by merely citing the term that distinguishes him in the public's mind is not endorsing that term! What's he supposed to have done? Leave the reader hanging without specifying which Jesus at all? Furthermore, the use of the turn of phrase, "some scholars", intimates a fair number of real scholars, when there are only the tiniest handful of dabblers out there, many of them amateurs. That may not be mendacious of Wells, but it is misleading. [/POST]


    -- That's what I wrote.

    Someone at that other board responded to what I'd written on Wells by asking which "canon" I was referring to, suggesting that the believers' "canon" of the '90s in the 1st century c.e. might have included a thing or two on James that Josephus was merely parroting. A fair question, but it still falls afoul of Occam's Razor in a way similar to the manner in which a number of other mythicist arguments do, and I pointed that out in my response --


    [POST] Too convenient. You're violating Occam's Razor to suppose that there was a lost Scriptural text that just happened to address an alternate fate for James. What we have is a continuous non-variant flow of text that is attested to with no variants in Josephus's own time, in a number of contemporary citations, describing an uprising against Ananus in which this James figures tangentially. Furthermore, the kinds of writings that appear to have slipped between the cracks in the canonical process are texts like Thomas, etc., in which doctrinal aspects are directly involved, suggesting that texts that were "lost" were texts that really violated the steadily hardening doctrines of the 3rd and 4th centuries. Nothing doctrinal is involved in the person James. And even those texts that are both in Scripture and outside it but presented as faith works (like letters from Clement or Gospels like Thomas) simply don't bother with James or Jesus's siblings in general. I understand what you're saying, but it remains a very forced argument. [/POST]


    -- That was my response.

    Finally, someone else thought that I was somehow applying Occam's Razor to this reading of Josephus 20 as a way of showing "proof" that the familiar reading of the passage is right and the mythicist reading is wrong. He took exception to this, since, as he stressed, Occam's Razor is strictly a rule of thumb for ascertaining the preferable, not the proved. Somehow, he had thought I intended to apply Occam's Razor in order to establish "proof" rather than relative likelihood. But I had plainly intended the latter only. Once again, you see, here was someone (effectively) conflating evidence and proof as one and the same.

    I wrote back:


    [POST] Very well, then: To establish an arbitrary premise that there is this hypothetical lost "faith text" that describes a different fate for James than we have in known Scripture is tantamount to making this "explanation less preferable to those other theories that contain" fewer "premises", thus going against the principle of Occam's Razor. And the degree to which this notion is less preferable to others is exacerbated by shaky speculation that (another hypothesis here!) this hypothetical lost "faith text" is the basis of a paragraph in Antiquities that (unlike the one in Antiq. 18) just happens to run seamlessly with everything before and after it! Such a convoluted theory is hardly preferable to the more straightforward reading of this passage as simply a unified account by Josephus of events that he knew of in the same way that he knew of most of the other events narrated in his chronicle: his personal spadework.

    I certainly didn't intend -- and if the implication seems otherwise, that's unintentionally misleading on my part -- to present the application of Occam's Razor in this case as a way of proving anything absolute when it comes to "the correct" reading of this passage. I was speaking strictly to preferability only, not to proof. There is no "proved" way of reading anything in the ancient world.

    After all, there is no lack of evidence for an historical Jesus. There is a lack of proof, such as we might see in something like the most carefully researched Times article on some current-day headline, say, that vexes those who doubt there is a historical Jesus. This distinction between evidence and proof is rarely addressed. By necessity, historians of the ancient world can deal only in evidence, never in proof. Extending that further, in cases like the present one of this ancient chronicle by Josephus, proof on any one reading of a given passage is likewise not out there either. In fact, in all studies of all documents related to the ancient world, proof is never an option, only likelihood and and preferability. That's the nature of this beast. Whether we are assessing one sentence in one contemporary chronicle of that distant period, or assessing an entire biography back then, the same thing applies: ancient documents yield only evidence pointing to relative likelihoods and preferabilities; they never yield proof.

    Consequently, when I apply something like Occam's Razor, in this kind of ancient context, to show the ridiculousness of some far-fetched notion, I am always dealing strictly in relative likelihoods and preferabilities only, never in disproof and/or proof. The latter is not an option. You can take this as a given: evidence and preferabilities and likelihoods are the sum total of what any historian of the ancient world can tell you. If we allow only proof to determine history, then history would have to start strictly with the Renaissance and no earlier! [/POST]


    That concludes the third post.

    (continued)
     
  8. Operacast

    Operacast Member

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    My guess is that there may be more than just one mythicist here, going by my experience of a number of Web forums like this one today that profess a vital engagement with the thinking of today and with the newest perspective while still buying into this half-baked half-assed distortion of what is involved in SECULAR study of ancient history. Mythicism does, it seems to me, pose as direct a threat as creationism today, precisely because it gives as misleading a pitcture of state-of-the-art research today. Mythicism ultimately reflects crank speculations of more than a century ago. As far as I can trace it, the earliest resuscitation of it in modern times (by which I mean the post-Vietnam/post-Watergate era) is this deeply bigoted article published posthumously in 1994, written by Revilo Oliver --

    Reflections on the Christ Myth by Professor Revilo P. Oliver

    Now this article hardly reflects the most sophisticated modern scholarship of today!

    I can also say that, while mythicism's being a half-baked nutterism -- and based on an invalid reading of ancient documents -- is partly my concern, there is also another concern I have:

    I would submit that mythicism isn't really a vital blow to Christianity. It may even help certain denominations in a way (I'll get to that eventually). Instead, mythicism is a far more real threat to something just as important as Christianity. Mythicism's not just wrong and amateurish; it's a threat to Humanism.

    You see, although I grew up in a secular household, with atheist parents, a typical exchange during my childhood in the Deep South might go something like this -- Since it was the South, our parents might occasionally have over a fundamentalist friend alongside the more usual academic friends and colleagues of my father's:


    FUNDAMENTALIST FRIEND: You shouldn't expect government to integrate the blacks and the whites, that's just asking for the Kingdom of God, and you'll only get that when Jesus returns.

    ME (as an insufferable brat around 10 or so): But Jesus expected us to treat the least of us the same as the biggest of us.

    FRIEND: But Jesus was God and he's perfect. You can't expect a human to be perfect.

    ME: But humans evolve to be perfect. We live far more humanely today than we did 2000 years ago.

    FRIEND: We didn't evolve. We were made in God's image and we are flawed. Jesus was sent for our flaws.

    ME: But there is evolution. We did evolve. We're always evolving slowly.

    FRIEND: There is no evolution. Jesus talked about the Kingdom of God because he was divine. What do your parents teach you?

    ME: There is evolution, and Jesus was human. And since he was human, then we humans can integrate the blacks and whites and treat them equally.

    FRIEND: Jesus wasn't just human, sonny, and that's why it's arrogant to expect humans to start the Kingdom of God. Blacks and whites have to be segregated here because the Lord has his reasons for having them segregated. We can't change that.

    ME: If Jesus was human, then humans can integrate the blacks and whites.

    FRIEND: That's arrogant talk, sonny. Humans are flawed. Your parents should teach you that.


    Anyway, as you can see, these exchanges would quickly get circular, so I hope some of you reading here start to see the problem I'd have with talking to someone like that. Essentially, the elevation of Jesus as something entirely above human rather than still being human only saps and degrades the perceived potential of humanity as a whole to attain higher levels of social justice.

    After all, Humanism teaches that humanity is ultimately capable of marvelous things, including a better life for all. But once one decides that especially enlightened humans like either Buddha or Socrates or Jesus or Locke or Franklin or Bahaullah or Tolstoy or Gandhi or MLK are somehow more than human, that relieves (some of) the pressure on the rest of humanity to progress continually in its treatment of fellow creatures. The unspoken subtext gets to be that if someone like Jesus is purely divine, that lets us somewhat off the hook, since we can never attain so high.

    To me, ultimately, if we relegate Jesus solely to divinity or solely to myth, the pernicious effect is the same: it lets our leaders and us off the hook. Humanism loses a great deal of its moral force, and we're all the poorer for that. Whether we take Jesus as a mere concoction in a story book, or ghettoize him to the divine, the end result is the same: It implies that no real human can ever actually live out loving one's enemies -- which I freely admit I'm having a hard time doing right now -- treating the least of us the same as the biggest, giving one's life for others, caring for the sick -- all the rest of it. Once that seems unrealistic, we can kiss human progress goodbye.

    Jesus as a myth in a story book or as someone solely divine -- or the ghettoization of any figure like Buddha or MLK to the same two alternatives -- torpedoes the impetus for much of the social progress that humanity's made. Of course, ghettoizing Jesus solely to divinity still leaves Christianity with something to worship. That's why Christianity's far less threatened by mythicism than is Humanism. In fact, such ghettoization even abets the fundamentalist outlook in particular, since it concentrates even further the Kingdom-of-God specialness of the Jesus outlook, making the separation between what he urged versus what we can achieve in the face of our erstwhile ignorance and our cruelty even wider. That only further reinforces the pigeon-holing and implied exceptionalism among many (I won't say all) worshippers. We're right back to our fundamentalist of my Southern childhood: We worship the Kingdom of God; don't bother me about social justice on earth. This kind of dead-end response also threatens if we rewrite history and instead ghettoize Jesus to being a mere character in a story book.

    Operacast
     
  9. mens_sana

    mens_sana New Member

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    Operacast,
    Thank you for a well reasoned, well written expose of myther thinking.
     
  10. Engygeron

    Engygeron Engygeron

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    Re: Jesus a Manifestation of God:

    If God is the "All in All" then that would mean (at least to me) that All is God....or, if you like, everything is a manifestation of God. The idea that God is the essence of all that is just makes sense to me.

    Engygeron
     
  11. steadfast199

    steadfast199 New Member

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    The history of the Trinity fits in with what Jesus and his apostles foretold would follow their time. They said that there would be an apostasy, a deviation, a falling away from true worship until Christ's return, when true worship would be restored before God's day of destruction of this system of things.

    Regarding that "day," the apostle Paul said: "It will not come unless the apostasy comes first and the man of lawlessness gets revealed." (2 Thessalonians 2:3, 7) Later, he foretold: "When I have gone fierce wolves will invade you and will have no mercy on the flock. Even from your own ranks there will be men coming forward with a travesty of the truth on their lips to induce the disciples to follow them." (Acts 20:29, 30, JB) Other disciples of Jesus also wrote of this apostasy with its 'lawless' clergy class.—See, for example, 2 Peter 2:1; 1 John 4:1-3; Jude 3, 4.

    WHY, for thousands of years, did none of God's prophets teach his people about the Trinity? At the latest, would Jesus not use his ability as the Great Teacher to make the Trinity clear to his followers? Would God inspire hundreds of pages of Scripture and yet not use any of this instruction to teach the Trinity if it were the "central doctrine" of faith?

    Are Christians to believe that centuries after Christ and after having inspired the writing of the Bible, God would back the formulation of a doctrine that was unknown to his servants for thousands of years, one that is an "inscrutable mystery" "beyond the grasp of human reason," one that admittedly had a pagan background and was "largely a matter of church politics"?

    The testimony of history is clear: The Trinity teaching is a deviation from the truth, an apostatizing from it.
     
  12. Thomas

    Thomas Super Moderator Staff Member

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    The divinity of Jesus was claimed from the very beginning, before the revelation of the Trinity.

    People read scripture from a post-modern viewpoint ... never from the viewpoint of a person of the day. were they to do that, they might perhaps draw a different conclusion:

    Mark 2:6-7
    "And there were some of the scribes sitting there, and thinking in their hearts: Why doth this man speak thus? he blasphemeth. Who can forgive sins, but God only?"

    They, it seems, were in no doubt that He was proclaiming His divinity. Throughout Scripture, in fact, nearly everything Christ says and does He does in His own name ...

    Once you get passed that, then other data begins to reveal itself.

    Thomas
     
  13. BlaznFattyz

    BlaznFattyz Active Member

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    i have no idea how you formulated that.
     
  14. eternalSoul

    eternalSoul New Member

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    I agree. I'm not Christian but Jesus would be the son of God, not actually God. A Messiah.
     
  15. Operacast

    Operacast Member

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    One reason (among several) why the Jesus sayings appear more often historical in the Synoptics than in John is because those in the Synoptics have generally more multiple attestation. In addition, the sayings in John occasionally seem to contradict a number of the sayings found in all the Synoptics.

    Perhaps most indicative of all, linguistic/philological analysis of the sayings in the Synoptics in their original Koine Greek has helped isolate a distinct group of certain sayings for their especially colloquial linguistic style compared to a more "literary" quality found in other sayings. Apparently, a few specialists have even shown that the relatively colloquial quality in this distinct group is strongly suggestive of an oral rather than written tradition, not to mention some telltale elements of Aramaic construction in this group as apart from other sayings that lack such elements! (Anyone in Palestine in Jesus's time in the kind of culture in which Jesus would have lived would probably have spoken Aramaic rather than Greek.)

    Take all of this together with the curious fact that this one group of more colloquial sayings often has something else in common -- almost word-for-word parallels in Matthew and Luke but not in Mark and John -- and we seem to have a discrete corpus of especially early Jesus sayings that may reflect better than others the earliest stage of documentation for Jesus's thinking. These sayings, parallel in Matthew and Luke, are generally referred to as the Q sayings (after the German word for source, "Quelle"). As we can see, there are external reasons for isolating these sayings, including their occasional Aramaicisms and the fact that there are often parallel appearances of them in Matthew and Luke but not elsewhere. So these sayings clearly have a close physical relationship of some kind.

    Internal attributes also typify this discrete group: Jesus is consistent in always setting himself apart from God in all these sayings, and they also lay heavy emphasis on ethical instruction. If these distinct colloquial sayings in Matthew and Luke -- and for convenience, let's just term them the Q sayings -- do indeed emanate closer to genuine early history than the other sayings -- something that appears likely if not certain -- then we may possibly get closer here to how Jesus really viewed his relationship to God than anywhere else.

    Suggesting that this Q group shows a clear distinction between Jesus and God is not saying that there is no relationship between the two at all. In fact, an unusual and distinct relationship does emerge after all. The two most indicative sayings in the Q group concerning this, and duly found in both Matthew and Luke, are -- using the Luke numbering -- Luke: 10: 21-22 and Luke: 22: 28-30 --

    Luke: 10: 21-22 -- In that same hour he rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, "I thank thee, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to babes; yea, Father, for such was thy gracious will. All things have been delivered to me by my Father; and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, or who the Father is except the Son and any one to whom the Son chooses to reveal him."

    Luke: 22: 28-30 -- "Ye are they which have continued with me in my temptations. And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me; That ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel."

    These two sayings probably come closer than anything in the Gospel of John to approaching some degree of historical status on Jesus's own more probable understanding of where he stood in relation to God. It is well to be strict and specify that isolating these two sayings is not intended to somehow suggest in any way a wider truth on what may really have been the true relationship between the two, between Jesus and God. Instead, isolating these two sayings bears only on what more likely may have been _Jesus's_ _own_ _understanding_ of that relationship, regardless of whether or not he was correct or in error about it.

    Briefly stated, what appears to emerge from these two sayings is that Jesus does not view himself as God or as an explicitly biological son of God, while, at the same time, Jesus does appear here to view himself as a son of God in some less explicit way than biological, a way that somehow puts only God and himself in on that knowledge -- absent Jesus's divulging that to others. At the same time, he doesn't seem to be engaging in the kind of generalized imagery that involves each of us as in some way God's child, either. There is instead something more specific and apart from us in his, Jesus's, own individual "son-ship" as compared to that of the rest of us. This is shown in 22: 28-30 in his speaking of a kingdom -- or inheritance, if you will -- that he is somehow specially qualified to bequeath to others. The implication seems to be that others, of that time, are not so qualified.

    This casts an interesting light on ......... glib(?) ....... remarks that some will make today like "all scholars agree that Jesus never referred to himself as god". Now that is so; but if we accept the general consensus of scholars that the Q group of sayings has more of an historical basis to it than other textual strata in the Gospels, then "Jesus never referred to himself as god" may not be the whole story. The Q sayings may show that, while Jesus never thought himself to be God, he may have thought of himself as a son, in some unspecified way, of God, and even a son who could bequeath something of God to others. If, a big "if", that is indeed closer to how he historically viewed himself than anything we find in the grander pronouncements in John, we may be confronted by a possible answer that only leads to another possible question: What might Jesus have meant by describing himself as a son of God in some general way who has this special capacity to bequeath something of God to others?

    Operacast
     
  16. Operacast

    Operacast Member

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    My regrets: I see that I already had an exchange on some of the questions raised here, earlier in the thread. Starting at page 12 of this thread

    http://www.interfaith.org/forum/jesus-is-not-god-part-1176-12.html

    , I introduced five different passages from the three earliest textual strata, acc. to the Jesus Seminar. Two of those passages were the two passages spotlighted here. An extended exchange then develops for the next three or four pages following.

    I simply had a middle-aged moment and forgot that exchange had already taken place.

    So, when it comes to this new post here, as the comedian Gilda Radner used to say, "Never mind." ;)

    Cheers,

    Operacast


     

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