Jesus: fiction or non

Sunny C.

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What is history, what is myth? Was Jesus a real person? Are the Gospels historically accurate?
 
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Hi, Sunny. My own position will be one of the most unconventional, so I'll get it out on the table early.

I believe that Jesus of Nazareth, a literal, historical figure, was born in ~104 or 105BC. I also believe the Gospel accounts, but not that we're supposed to accept it all without questioning ... pondering ... (for all of our lives, even) :)

Whether or not the crucifixion occurred at age 33 I dunno, but it has a symbolic, or mystical connotation for me - and for Freemasons, esotericists, etc. I tend to think that Jesus' death was somewhat inevitable, but that had it been possible, he would really rather have continued teaching in the flesh, and helping to lay certain foundations. As it was, his work was delayed, but only slightly ... ;)

Some traditions teach that Jesus survived the crucifixion (which I find completely possible ... but also a non-essential, imho). I believe he continued to teach the Apostles for many decades after his death, from the subtle world ... as related to us in Apocryphal accounts (also symbolic, not necessarily meant as literal, historical record).

But then, I don't believe that "Christ died for my sins," or that one must believe in this interpretation in order to attain Salvation, or to "get into Heaven." What I believe in, is an inner, Mystical Christ, St. Paul's Hope of Glory ... and I think this same Christ Presence has been focused in World Saviors prior to, and since, Jesus of Nazareth.

Nevertheless, I see Christ as both a literal, Individual (Presence is the key word, not `Person' - which imo is an unfortunate theological term, given how misleading it is) ... and also an office, since it means `Annointed.' Really this means it has several connotations.

Jesus, I see as the vehicle for the Christ ... a just man, made Perfect, well ahead of the rest of us, yet a WayShower in this regard, and not an idol. Ideal, and idol, can mean something very different ...

I also believe that the accounts of post-crucifixion Jesus are, more or less, probably historically telling, if not completely accurate. In other words, even if we accept them at face value, I think they conceal, and convey, a powerful message for us, and the idea of a dead man appearing in the flesh, three days later - is something I've come to believe in implicity! :)

We can certainly find meaning in the Gospel story, even if we do not believe the man Jesus literally or historically existed. Wil helped us to explore this on another thread, not so long ago. ;) :)

It's not what I believe, yet it almost represents another extreme, since my take on things is quite unconventional, also, relative to the usual Christian presentation.

People want to know what happened. Christians, non-Christians, and even those - such as myself - with the most unusual of interpretations, or understandings ... would really, genuinely like to hear or see the "gospel" Gospel. :D

Perhaps we'll have to wait to view or tap into that actual record (the way we can watch a DVD nowadays), but thank God we live in a time when we can explore this subject, and when we have such wonderful tools - technological, psychological and spiritual - to do it!

~andrew
 
What is history, what is myth? Was Jesus a real person? Are the Gospels historically accurate?

Hi Sunny –

Rudolf Bultmann posed exactly the same question in his extreme application of the historical-critical method, and 'demonstrated' that the Gospels were mythologies on the grounds of similarity with other mythological literatures ... assuming (rather inexactly) that because there are elements in common, they are the same in essence, a position which few accepted – even the Tubingen School, the most skseptical of universities, doubted the thesis that Bultmann put forward.

Pierre Benoit, on the other hand, 'demonstrated' that Bultmann's thesis could not have occurred within the necessary timescale – the gospels date to within a generation of Jesus – and the evolution of mythologies take much longer than that.

The question of 'historical accuracy' of the gospels is posed from a third-millenium perspective ... one has to remember the scribes were not interested in compiling an historical document.

Thomas
 
Yes Jesus was a real MAN. The gospels are teaching tools, what they teach is dependent on how they are presented.

TE

Says who?

If I recall, there was a book called "Mein Kampf" Showed Hitler was awesome, and great a hero that deserved to win and his enemy deserved what they had coming... So that must be true... Hmmm who wrote that book.... Oh, Hitler.....
 
Says who?

If I recall, there was a book called "Mein Kampf" Showed Hitler was awesome, and great a hero that deserved to win and his enemy deserved what they had coming... So that must be true... Hmmm who wrote that book.... Oh, Hitler.....

So anyone who writes a biography, or offers a testimony, or a philosophy, or in fact anybody who puts any viewpoint down in writing about anything, must be a lying, because of Adolf Hitler?

Thomas
 
Yes Jesus was a real MAN. The gospels are teaching tools, what they teach is dependent on how they are presented.

TE


No, just not to believe everything someone tells you.... :) Specially when it comes to having a divine power over all others. jesus could have been real... He could have also been just an every day John Doe. Of course this book is going to say he is great.... You've only heard one side of the story.
 
– the gospels date to within a generation of Jesus – and the evolution of mythologies take much longer than that.
within a generation? Mark would be 30-40 years after his death, Luke 55-60, John 65-70....add another 30 years to those numbers when you are talking about the birth and youth stories...The potential is of whoever wrote them probably only Mark was written by someone who actually saw or heard Jesus and if he did, he would have been young. Generational stories are considered about every 20-25 years today...back then 15-20 years as most women began bearing children in their teens. I look at the myths surrounding Ronald Reagon, Bill Clinton, or even Bush and the Iraq war...it doesn't take long for innacuracies to take hold and become real in the eyes of the public...especially when someone has some agenda and begins to write books about it.
I believe Jesus was a real person, and is no more a myth than any individual person living today is.
Now that is an interesting statement. From a legal standpoint doesn't answer the question, but it does create a question about the whether our current reality is an illusion.

Nothing against your statement...just the way my mind works...I don't know if I categorize myself as a myth yet...but I am a metaphor and my life an allegory, I'm hopin I'll leave a few good parables.
 
within a generation? Mark would be 30-40 years after his death, Luke 55-60, John 65-70....add another 30 years to those numbers when you are talking about the birth and youth stories...The potential is of whoever wrote them probably only Mark was written by someone who actually saw or heard Jesus and if he did, he would have been young. Generational stories are considered about every 20-25 years today...back then 15-20 years as most women began bearing children in their teens. I look at the myths surrounding Ronald Reagon, Bill Clinton, or even Bush and the Iraq war...it doesn't take long for innacuracies to take hold and become real in the eyes of the public...especially when someone has some agenda and begins to write books about it.


Now that is an interesting statement. From a legal standpoint doesn't answer the question, but it does create a question about the whether our current reality is an illusion.

Nothing against your statement...just the way my mind works...I don't know if I categorize myself as a myth yet...but I am a metaphor and my life an allegory, I'm hopin I'll leave a few good parables.
Good eye, wil. ;)
I do believe that Jesus was a real person.

{btw, have you ever read The Velveteen Rabbit?}
http://digital.library.upenn.edu/women/williams/rabbit/rabbit.html
 
Good eye, wil. ;)
I do believe that Jesus was a real person.

{btw, have you ever read The Velveteen Rabbit?}
it has been a long time...the twins are now 14, it was one of their story books, I'll have to pull it out and read it to them again...but you know...in conjunction with your current statement...it poses yet another question...that of what is belief and what is real...
 
within a generation?

Matthew wrote from first-hand, Mark knew Peter, John wrote from first hand, Luke from first-hand accounts ... the dates you give are 'safe' approximates, which means the oral tradition was in place before, and the text tradition would have to correspond to the oral tradition.

The texts of all four were recognised as 'canonical' or authoratitive by the turn of the first century, the Pauline epistles even earlier.

The potential is of whoever wrote them probably only Mark was written by someone who actually saw or heard Jesus and if he did, he would have been young.
We're that from? Mark was in Rome, and as far as we know never saw or heard him.

Thomas
 
Actually my previous post looks a bit hardline...

There is plenty of scholarly thinking around today on the development of Scripture and Tradition that is a lot more amenable to the orthodox position, that supports the idea that someone called Jesus actually existed, and peformed the works He is purported to have performed.

The main thrust is that a fair amount of 'miraculous' activity was attributed to the man, and that the audience of the day were neither necessarily gullible, to believe it, nor necessarily false, to have fabricated it.

Primitive, in the sense of simple, Trinitarian formulae were in place in liturgical, exegetical and confessional practice even before the Gospels were written.

Likewise scholars (and not only Christian scholars) point out that a reformed Judaism nor a reformed Hellenism would not require such events as the Transfiguration, the Resurection or the Ascension to be acceptable – in fact these elements work against the notion of invention because they are so fantastic – so why are they there? It would have been far easier, for example, to bring in the gnostics, et al, if the teaching proposed a raqdical duality that was almost de facto outside of Hebraic circles.

If the Christians wanted to convert the Gentiles, a version of Judaism was definitely not the eway to go.

+++

The Historical critical method of the Enlightenment worked on the principle that all history is invalid, about 200 years were to pass before the philosophers began to point out that actually there is something of value in history ... and today sociologists are saying that oral traditions are the valuable of all.

+++

The Jesus Seminar, for example, whilst supposedly 'neutral', has been shown to be the successor to the anti-supernatural and frankly anti-religious tendencies which framed the debate at the outset, in the works of the JS just continues within that context established by Reimarus, (1694-1728) and Strauss (1808-1874) in the first 'Quest for the Historical Jesus' ... I only argue this because many still continue to put forward a similar viewpooint, when the fundamental philosophy has been found to be sorely wanting ... in fact what many consider 'reasonable' is not reasonable at all.

Thomas
 
If the Christians wanted to convert the Gentiles, a version of Judaism was definitely not the eway to go.

What I wonder is what would make anyone then, or anyone now for that matter, want to convert others to a new religion, and especially then when it seems that the Christian community was waiting for the literal end of the world, unless they thought that truel Something Happened?
 
No, just not to believe everything someone tells you.... :) Specially when it comes to having a divine power over all others. jesus could have been real... He could have also been just an every day John Doe. Of course this book is going to say he is great.... You've only heard one side of the story.

My own take is that Jesus was a miltant hippy who on gaining a following was crucified as an upstart. I believe also that he survived crucifixtion by pure luck, not by resurection, and that he married and had children. The Man himself is of small importance, its the message that was developed from his teachings that has become huge.
My favourite Christ 'story' is the novel by Nikos Kazantakis "The Last Temptation of Christ". This paints Jesus as a deeply troubled, flawed individual that may have been schizofrenic. None-the-less he had a good heart and simply wished like most of us that life was fairer and better.
I am the last person you will find being an appologist for the bible...
 
I've tried to look at this issue objectively. The problem in considering even a moderately literal point of view is that all commentary, except for itchy apologists like Spong, is automatically biased by the constraints of faith. Then there are the Bible debunkers, followed by the shiny faced neo-Gnostics. Once the real scholarly debate starts, it seems that any possibility of the Gospel story being historically accurate is long, long gone. It's minimalists versus not quite so minimal-ists.

I don't know if Jesus was a real person. I'm leaning about two thirds toward thinking not. But it's hard to explain the Jesus phenomenon without some genuine artifact.
 
I beleive he was a real person and a Prophet of G-d.

However, Pope Leo X said in the 16th century "It has served us well, this myth of Jesus".

I have always believed that to refer to his status as Son of G-d but who knows?

Salaam
 
Hi Sunny –

Rudolf Bultmann posed exactly the same question in his extreme application of the historical-critical method, and 'demonstrated' that the Gospels were mythologies on the grounds of similarity with other mythological literatures ... assuming (rather inexactly) that because there are elements in common, they are the same in essence, a position which few accepted – even the Tubingen School, the most skseptical of universities, doubted the thesis that Bultmann put forward.

Pierre Benoit, on the other hand, 'demonstrated' that Bultmann's thesis could not have occurred within the necessary timescale – the gospels date to within a generation of Jesus – and the evolution of mythologies take much longer than that.

The question of 'historical accuracy' of the gospels is posed from a third-millenium perspective ... one has to remember the scribes were not interested in compiling an historical document.

Thomas

Hi Thomas. Just from my own reading it seems that the Gospels function to create Jesus' mythos. But who is the real man? What was his real name? When, and for how long did he actually live? I can't find anything credible on that. And then there's all this other Davinci Code stuff, black maddonas, secret bloodlines, Templars...not to mention Theosophy and it's pantheons. But underneath the mounds of lore and legend and derivitive mythology there isn't even a trace of the real man, unless one takes that one disputed passage from Josephus.
 
Kindest Regards, Sunny C., and welcome to CR!
Hi Thomas. Just from my own reading it seems that the Gospels function to create Jesus' mythos. But who is the real man? What was his real name? When, and for how long did he actually live? I can't find anything credible on that. And then there's all this other Davinci Code stuff, black maddonas, secret bloodlines, Templars...not to mention Theosophy and it's pantheons. But underneath the mounds of lore and legend and derivitive mythology there isn't even a trace of the real man, unless one takes that one disputed passage from Josephus.

I am not Thomas, nor do I play him on TV, but I would like to comment if I may. I appreciate where you are coming from, but I don't think something like the mythos of Jesus would be invented "out of the blue." There had to be something concrete underlying to motivate the tellers and inspire the mythos, even if the mythos might not be 100% factually correct.
 
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