Jesus Christ

Discussion in 'Christianity' started by Postmaster, Apr 10, 2005.

  1. Postmaster

    Postmaster Well-Known Member

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    First off there is absolutely no reason to believe this man didn't exist, he was documented by all sorts of people excluding the bible. I suppose my question is, how different is historical Jesus Christ to biblical Jesus Christ? The bible speaks of this man as sub human and indeed if anyone was to believe the stories of the number selling book in history they would understand why. Will we ever have such a person again in amongst humanity? I find amazing that the Romans who had invaded foreign land and even put Christ on the Cross (who claim were put up to by the Jews) later came back to take the teachings of that man as a state faith and establish it further, even after killing many Christians for which the Colosseum is famous for. The people of Greece and Rome were the founders of rational thinking, like nowhere else in the world had there ever been documented of such rational and scientific thoughts and development. But there was something very powerful and very potent about this one man, who apparently walked on water, fed thousands of people with one basket, was resurrected, bought others back from the dead, healed blinded people, stuck ears back on people ect ect... It seems like there has been no greater prophet in the history of mankind then Jesus Christ. If one man can accomplish such great miracles you should be able to trust what he said as 100% truth because not even an illusionist can accomplish such great miracles and there has never been anyone in history like this.. I believe the fact that the bible was wrote after Christ adds greater weight to Christ because it shows that his life survived in the human mind and stories of only such life of significance would not be forgotten and turned into a book of teachings, can you imagine the children of the disciples, friends and witnesses of Christ would have been told of these stories and the descendants of such people still walking around today. I suppose the ultimate question is how much of biblical Jesus compares to historical Jesus? Is there such differences?

     
  2. iBrian

    iBrian Peace, Love and Unity Admin

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    Actually, that's a part of the problem - so far as I understand it, the New Testament Gospels are the only attempt at claiming to be a contemporary eye-witness account.

    Jesus gets a mention in Tacitus when he mentions that the people Nero burned were followers of this person's name - though Tacitus is hardly flattering of the Jews in his attempt to comment on that later - there's something on that here:
    http://www.comparative-religion.com/forum/showthread.php?t=33

    To us in the modern day, a lot of what Jesus is held to have done may seem remarkable - but in the ancient world a lot of it would be routine. People rising from the dead and the sick being healed would be - so far as I understand it - as routine to ancient peoples, as modern medicine is to us moderns.

    Which possibly accounts for a general lack of commentary from the contemporary sources outside of early Christian texts.
     
  3. Postmaster

    Postmaster Well-Known Member

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    Ha I see... how about the stone coffin thing they found in Israel with the words James brother of Jesus engraved on it :)?

    From your point of view Brian, why do you think this man if he existed or not was so significant, if these were general belief in the ancient world that these miraculous practises were common?
     
  4. Abogado del Diablo

    Abogado del Diablo Ferally Decent

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  5. iBrian

    iBrian Peace, Love and Unity Admin

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    In my opinion, the one big thing that made Christianity revolutionary for its time was the notion of spiritual equality.

    It didn't matter if you were rich or poor, male or female, adult or child, king or a beggar - God would love you equally in the Kingdom of Heaven.

    The Roman and Greek religious systems simply did not allow for that - they were cold civil systems where the gods failed to give a hoot for the individual.

    As to the notion of Jesus existing in the form that the Gospels preach - it's simply one of those issues that is a matter of faith.
     
  6. Marcion

    Marcion Established Member

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    yep, there's just too many conflicting views to come to any sort of conclusion about who Jesus was, or if he existed at all. Some believe he was God Almighty, the archangel Michael, prophet, magician, or just a crazed rebel against the political/religious agenda of the times. It's all a matter of personal belief as to who this man, angel, or god really was.....
     
  7. Postmaster

    Postmaster Well-Known Member

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  8. enton

    enton www.theoldpath.tv

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    This is in response to the above statements:

    John 21:25 And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen.
     
  9. flowperson

    flowperson Oannes

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    IMHO, the Jesus Seminar is still the only reasonable examination of this issue that has been done by reputable scholars in modern or post modern times, and they still couldn't come up with definitive answers. However they did illuminate the fact that other information sources that venerate and reflect upon the works and wisdom of this person, most notably The Gospel of Thomas, are viable reference points to use in trying to understand just what His presence among us really means.

    flow....:)
     
  10. RubySera_Martin

    RubySera_Martin Well-Known Member

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    And then there are people who won't look at anything they suspect has been tainted by the Jesus Seminar people. Who or what is the Jesus Seminar that some people trust them completely and others will have nothing to even with the name?
     
  11. flowperson

    flowperson Oannes

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    The Jesus Seminar was an institution formed in the 80's by the late Robert Funk for the expressed purpose of coming up with some definitive answers to the question of whether or not the things that the gospels say that Jesus said and did actually happened, or were/are they only stories that support generalized beliefs. Many scholars of biblical history and analysis were brought together for regular meetings on the questions and issues, and they actually voted their opinions as to the veracity of biblical events that defined Jesus' life on earth. I believe that the Seminar no longer is functioning, but I might be wrong about that.

    People who hold fundamentalist beliefs and literalist opinions regarding the content of the New Testament were/are particularly hostile to the Seminar and the work that it pursued, even though it essentially followed democratic and scientific methods in trying to untangle and verify these issues. I can understand that from a "personal investment in belief" perspective. But I do not understand their hostility towards the Seminar itself since the credentials of its members were/are beyond question, and since the institution functioned in ways that other institutions of similar composition do to carry out everyday missions in today's world to build and preserve our ongoing attempts to civilize the human race.

    IMHO it's all just another facet of the conservative movement to stifle and repress attempts to enhance our collective understanding of the world that we live together in, and how we got here from the past we all share. This is really what universities do in part, and there isn't such hostility towards their operations usually. I know, I used to work at a really big one at the top levels. But then there is a lot of self-censorship that goes on in them when new knowledge emerges that automatically clashes with long-accepted truths.

    Truth is a variable thing that alters itself with the passage of time and the advent of new discoveries. First we believed what Galileo had to say about the universe and how it worked. Then there was Newton, and then Einstein, then Heisenberg and Bohr, and that's all still changing over time depending upon the new things that we learn about the universe around us. To my way of thinking it should be no different when it comes to discovering the truths about historical figures who lived in the past and changed the world for us all. All I do know is that as time passes, new truths emerge and are accepted in place of what has gone before. It's just the way that the process of progress works.

    flow....;)
     
  12. Jeannot

    Jeannot Jeannot

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    JESUS


    My basic position is that "Jesus" – or someone very like him – existed. But his name was not Jesus Christ. This name came later after a lot of politicization. His name was Joshua (or Jeshua) Bar Jusif (Joshua, son of Joseph).

    I think that those who say that the truth is in the gospels, AND those who say that the gospels are highly mythologized, are both right. The truth is there (I feel), but buried under a lot of subsequent BS.

    One thing we have to remember is that the gospels were written after the letters of Paul, and therefore show Pauline influence. For example, the institution of "the Eucharist" is taken from 1 Cor 11:23-26. And it was Paul who apparently gave Joshua the title of Christ.

    The birth narratives in Luke and Matthew disagree with each other, and both seem to be pure mythology, made up after the fact to make Joshua's birth seems as miraculous as those of Pagan divinities. If his birth was so notable, it would probably have been recorded in Mark, almost certainly the first gospel written. But Mark begins his account of Joshua with his baptism by John.

    In addition, I have heard that many scholars, including some in the RC Church, are willing to accept the idea that Joshua was born in Nazareth, not Bethlehem. Bethlehem was chosen by Matt and Luke for the same reason that the lineage back to David is given — in order to claim that Joshua was in the kingly line.

    In Luke, Augustus orders an Empire-wide tax. Then it says that Joseph had to go to his own city. Why, is not clear. He was living in Galilee (presumably Nazareth), so why did he have to go elsewhere to be taxed? Suppose everyone had to go to his hometown to be taxed throughout the empire, can you imagine the confusion this would cause?

    And Matt invents a trip to Egypt, apparently just so he can work in the phrase, "Out of Egypt have I called my son." His son Israel, that is.

    In addition to Paul, Mark (and later Luke and Matt) had the hypothetical "Q" document as a source. "Q" is not extant, but is the result of a convergence of probabilities. In any case, Mark, writing about 70, had some source. Apparently he took a list of the sayings of Joshua (possibly even his own notes) and strung them together with some accounts of his doings.

    Joshua was a Jew. He did not teach a radically new doctrine, but instead gave his own spin to the TaNaKh. As a Jew, he placed primary emphasis on the "Shema Yisrael": "Hear, O Israel... thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all they heart, etc." (taken from Deuteronomy), and "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself._ (taken from Leviticus). In addition, he was evidently celebrating a Passover meal at the Last Supper.

    Beginning with Paul (orig. Saul), who was a Roman citizen, "Christianity" began to move away from Judaism and toward Rome. Rome was where the power was.

    It seems likely to me that throughout the gospels, there is recorded some actual words of Joshua. But one has to dig for them (as the Jesus Seminar is doing). It is a shame that we don't have any pre-Marcan material on Joshua's life and words.
     
  13. wil

    wil UNeyeR1 Moderator

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    nice review...
     
  14. Jeannot

    Jeannot Jeannot

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    Thanks, Wil. From one heretic to another.
     
  15. RubySera_Martin

    RubySera_Martin Well-Known Member

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    Thank you for this explanation, Flow. It helps me understand why my profs discount things that come out of the Jesus Seminar, and I share their feeling. I realize you simply answered my questions as you understood the matter. I think my problem is much larger than between your opinion and my opinion, so I hope you don't take any of this personally.

    I disagree very strongly and very passionately with some of this stuff. I believe there is MUCH misunderstanding as to what actually goes on in universities and how academia works and how scholars arrive at conclusions. I think you highlight a lot of these. I don't know your level of experience in academic scholarship but I do know the criteria for reputable mainstream scholarship. I will go through your post and attempt to clarify things as I understand it.

    First, it's not the conservative Christians from whom I've heard negative opinions re the Jesus seminar, but from the other end of the spectrum. The profs at the seminary where I am studying practically discount anything that comes out of the Jesus Seminar movement, and so do I now that I know how they operated.

    Definitive answers about the unknowable are impossible. Voting on the matter does not change a thing. Besides, voting on truth is not scholarship. Votes may work for making group desicions all the way from deciding who has lock-up duty tonight to whether or not to put up that multi-million-dollar building or put through that billion-dollar deal. Votes may also work when deciding on policies or religious beliefs that will be applied in an institution. But to vote on whether or not Jesus walked on water or was born of a virgin is not possible.

    The scientific method is the ONLY way by which to arrive at truth, no matter if its in the hard sciences or in theology or the social sciences. There is perhaps one exception. Philosophy has its own rules of the game and these rules are beyond my comprehension, so in this discussion I don't include it or its definition of truth. Whether or not it is concrete historical fact that Jesus was born of a virgin and walked on water and raised the dead and changed water to wine, plus a lot of other miracles--whether or not these things are concrete historical fact cannot be proved or disproved by a vote.

    What does democracy have to do with the scientific method and veracity? Truth equals fact that can be proven or disproven via the scientific method.

    Possibly you don't understand my hostility, either, but credentials have absolutely nothing to do with truth. The only thing credentials can do is prove how many exams a person passed. Hopefully, the person with credentials will also know a certain amount of knowledge about a certain topic but this is not a quarantee or a given.

    But the purpose of the institution was not to build or preserve. You say its mission was to determine truth. And truth cannot be determined via vote.

    This may be correct.

    What did you work? As a professor? As a student? On what level? What university did you work at? I ask because I don't understand how a reputable university can operate as you describe.

    This may be correct but I would not use these terms. I don't think there are "long accepted truths" but there are long-accepted theories or beliefs. Also, I don't think academician normally speak of new knowledge because there is so little we can know for sure; they do speak of new information. And new information simply means that they found out something else. Sometimes theories have to be reworked to accommodate this new information. I would not call it a clash because seldom is this first bit of new information unquestionably more accurate than what has been known. Self-critique and peer review/critique are the policing aspect of academia. I have never heard it called "self-censorship." That sounds like I am making a public statement that I lied. And no scholar worth his or her salt will intentionally lie. I think it could cost them their career.

    I disagree that truth is a variable thing. Truth is. How we understand it varies greatly. What we believe does not necessarily equal truth. We may believe that the sun rises and sets but that does not make it true. Everybody in the world may use language that reflects the belief that the sun rises and sets. But that does not make it true. The fact i.e. truth is that the earth rotates around the sun.

    But discovery does not come from voting. It comes from applying the scientific method. There are things about historical figures that cannot be proven or disproven. The historicity of Jesus is one of these things.

    Not new truths but new information. And it is not accepted "in place of" the old. When and if the new is proven trustworthy, the old is modified to accommodate the new. Not everyone will accept the modified view and some people will continue to insist on the old view.

    Here is how truth is arrived at via the scientific method:

    Truth is arrived at via analysis of the facts. These facts have to be taken apart and discussed or observed and described. All of these observations and discussions and descriptions are then put together into a theory. The theory is then tested. Sometimes by the same people, sometimes by other people. It has to be tested many times before it can be accepted as truth. It looks to me like scholars normally test a theory for at least a century before they accept it as truth. For example, the theory of evolution has been rigorously tested for well over a century and I understand mainstream scholars accept it more or less as truth. However, there is much opposition. It may take another century for it to solidify into "unquestionable" truth, or for the opposition to disappear. This is helpful in winnowing the wheat from the chaff. Maybe this shows why it is not acceptable to vote on truth.
     
  16. flowperson

    flowperson Oannes

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    Hi Ruby !

    Whew !

    Well, I do assert that scholars evaluating aspects of issues and then voting on choices to reach an agreement is akin to the scientific method since it is a process thru which known research findings are winnowed into something more understandable as a whole. This is what the Seminar participants did as far as I know, and to an extent, this is also a process that goes on regularly in academic departments at universities and in faculty senates when and where policy is made.

    I worked at a large university in a midwest US state which had a statewide enrollment of upwards of 70,000. I worked at the two major campuses in research administration, and also at the corporate level under the Provost and helped supervise the disclosure, evaluation, and licensing of intellectual properties created at the university's campuses. I was also the Secretary of two university level committees... you know taking minutes, keeping notes for the bosses, etc. I was also later included in seven different versions of Who's Who reference books, not that this really makes any difference here.

    I would like to point out that the faculty at a Lutheran institution would be fairly conservative in their approaches to the evaluation of research materials pertaining to Jesus' life, and suggest that preconceived biases would likely preclude them from giving favorable consideration to many of the facts that the Seminar evaluated. However I did sit on an advanced seminar regarding science and religion which took place at the Lutheran Theology School at the University of Chicago in the 80's and was even invited to publish an article in their journal. So I guess someone there believed that I knew what I was talking about.

    I don't really know many of the details about the Seminar. I only tried to give you an opinion regarding my overview of their activities. Please accept what I offered you as only that, and not as an exhaustive explanation of their internal workings and processes at the Seminar.

    Peace and Love...

    flow....:)
     
  17. lunamoth

    lunamoth Episcopalian

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    Hi Ruby and Flow,

    Not to interupt your dialogue here, but I think something was not made clear about how the Jesus Seminar works. The Biblical Scholars involved are well-known and well-respected (as scholars at least, I know a lot of people take issue with their approach and conclusions). It's not like they are a bunch of bozos, nor are they setting out to undermine Christianity. I know that a number of them are practicing Christians.

    But, what I wanted to say is that it is not as simple as they just read the Bible and vote--each is voting based upon the extensive individual scholarship that they do (and have peer-reviewed and published). I would not think that it is uncommon that reputable scholars would still come to different conclusions regarding the historical accuracy of Biblical accounts and the 'voting' method is a way to measure the agreement between the conclusions of the different investigators. This actually seems like a pretty good way to try to apply the scientific method to something as difficult and subjective as Biblical research.

    IOW, to me it does not seem like they are voting to determine 'truth' but are voting to determine the amount of agreement they have regarding factual historical accuracy of the Bible. Truth in revelation and scripture, I think, is something much different than a literal-factual historical accuracy.

    IMO the problem with the Jesus Seminar is that like some literalists at the conservative end of the spectrum, these literalists at the liberal end of the spectrum are missing the forest for the trees. Did Jesus actually factually utter a given set of words 2000 years ago? I don't know, but He speaks those words today to each of us as we read the Bible, and that is what is important to me.

    2 c,
    luna
     
  18. RubySera_Martin

    RubySera_Martin Well-Known Member

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    Luna, thanks for jumping in here. What you say makes sense. To vote to find out how many people agree with a certain view makes sense. That is a level or type of scholarship I have not yet encountered but I can believe it. They are not voting on the veracity of the view but on agreement.

    So you say the Jesus Seminar people are literalists? That would give me some clue as to why my profs don't like their stuff. They aren't literalist. They claim to be conservative but it's a kind of conservative Christianity I have never seen. I think they are liberal because they are not literalists. I'll have to discuss this with them sometime because I'd like a better understanding of this liberal-conservative thing.

    Is that the type of question the Jesus Seminar people research? If so, how do they differ from the conservative Christians?

    Flow,

    I have no doubt that you are very good at what you do and that the vote is a good and common way to make decisions on policies. But we don't get to decide the past. What we get to decide is what we believe about the past. According to Luna, that is what the vote is about.

    That is about as clear as I know to make my point. It's what I tried to say in the above post but in much more detail and depth. And also, I was totally baffled why you say the things you do. So I guess we talked around each other. I'm glad Luna came to the rescue. I hope things are clear for you, too.
     
  19. lunamoth

    lunamoth Episcopalian

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    Haha. One huge difference is that conservative literalist Christians hold that every single word of the Bible is accurate literal truth, while the 'liberal' Christian scholars conclude that really only a very very few words were actually spoken by the lips of the historical Jesus, and only very very few events/miracles actually happened. That's why the conservative/fundamentalist Christians tend to really dislike the JS, they see them as saying the Bible is not true. I know a lot of traditional, yet comparatively progressive Christians, (I guess I'm referring to Catholics and mainstream Protestants) also do not embrace the findings of the JS. Just guessing I think this is because this kind of scholarship is rather 'lightweight' compared to the centuries of theological thought and philosophy conducted by the doctors of the Church, in the context of Tradition. I would agree with this assessment, BTW.

    luna
     
  20. AletheiaRivers

    AletheiaRivers Well-Known Member

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    It all gets rather confusing doesn't it?

    There are liberal literalists. There are liberal traditionalists. There are liberal esoteric/spiritualists.

    There are conservative literalists. There are conservative traditionalists. There are conservative esoteric/spiritualists.

    Some of the liberal and conservative labels come from socio-political views. Some of the liberal and conservative labels come from views towards the authority of scripture or the church.

    I thought like you Ruby, for a long time, that if someone wasn't a literalist that meant he was a liberal. Actually, a non-literal view towards much (not all) of scripture was the norm until fundamentalism arrived.

    So much of Biblical interpretation is new to me. I was in a sect that used a mostly literal hermeunetic. They also taught that the Bible was basically dictated by God.

    It's taken the past couple of years of re-educating myself that fundamentalism is not the norm. I've also come to appreciate that my views toward scripture and Christ, while progressive in many respects, are more "traditional" than liberal.

    Thanks for letting me ramble. :)
     

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