Author Topic: Demolishing The Messiah Myth  (Read 6593 times)

Offline stromboli (OP)

Demolishing The Messiah Myth
« on: June 28, 2016, 12:22:40 AM »
http://communityvoiceradio.com/demolishing-the-messiah-myth/

Quote
The traditional, “authorized” version of Christian origins is a “big bang” theory: one fine day, the only begotten son of God materialized in a virgin’s womb. He grew to manhood, assembled his acolytes, imparted his wisdom, made his redemptive sacrifice and rose again. A religion was born.

Secularized, this same big bang theory boils down to little more than, “Christianity exists, it must have begun somewhere; it began with a single character, here’s my version of who he really was.” Favorites include an itinerant philosopher in the style of the Cynics and a social/religious reformer, either a pacifist like Gandhi or a militant like Che Guevara. In fact, like recovered meat from a de-fleshed carcass, Jesus has been “re-formed” a hundred times, often as a cypher for a genuine historical character, including, among others, Julius Caesar, Judas the Galilean, John of Gamala, and Titus Caesar. The very ubiquitousness of the idea of Jesus convinces many that “someone” must lie beneath the encrusted legends.

But before we build yet another Jesus in our own image what on earth can we trust as a firm handhold? For one thing, eliminating the miraculous is not as straight-forward as you might think. For example, consider the simple matter of Jesus calling his disciples. “They left everything and followed him”, if to be understood as reportage, is in fact a miracle. In the normal world, people just don’t do that! This transforming encounter of godman with fishermen, as written in the gospel, is just as unworldly as Paul’s vision on the road to Damascus. If we regard the episode as shorthand for a protracted period of discussion and recruitment (by a merely “human” Jesus) then we begin the whole process of fabricating our own Jesus anyway.

And if a miracle is eliminated – for example, “the spirit driving him into the wilderness to be tested by Satan” – do we have any reason to suppose he went into the wilderness at all? Did he ascend a mountain if he didn’t “transfigure”? Was he by the lake if he didn’t walk on the water? Was he even at a wedding if he didn’t turn water into wine? Few of the Jesus stories make sense without the miracle that defines the encounter.

Removing miracle after miracle doesn’t leave a whole lot and yet we’ve only just begun to consider the difficulties of a “historical” Jesus.

Do the few non-miraculous episodes make any sense? “Cleansing the temple” sounds not wholly improbable until you realize that the temple had a vast concourse of thirty-five acres, enclosed by porticoes and at Passover thronging with thousands of pilgrims (and not a few temple guards). Did Jesus really – single-handedly – drive out all the moneychangers and herds of oxen, sheep and dove sellers? Can you even imagine such a thing? Would he not have been wrestled to the ground in short order? The gospels describe a berserker’s performance appropriate to a blockbuster superhero. What should we do, scale the event down to an acceptable melee – or recognize (correctly) that an imaginary incident has been worked up from a scriptural template (in this case, Zechariah 14.21 and Hosea 9.15)?

Even mundane and plausible-sounding details are problematic – for example, Luke’s “census of all the world” (as if) or Matthew’s “Slaughter of the Innocents” by Herod (not even his fellow evangelists noticed that one). A surprising number of Jesus venues (Magdala, Arimathea, Emmaus, Cana, etc.) are unknown either to archaeology or history. Even a 1st century Nazareth is in doubt (certainly, there was no “city” as claimed by the gospels). The placid Lake Tiberias (Chinnereth) is transformed into a storm-tossed Sea of Galilee so that Jesus can “calm the storm.” The trial (six distinct hearings!) is incompatible with all that we know of ancient Jewish law. The gospel portrait of Pontius Pilate is totally at odds with the evidence from other sources. And the difficulties go on and on.

It is a big mistake to think that we can simply take the gospel stories, discard the miraculous and then assemble the residue into what we may fondly believe to be “the real Jesus.”

Fabrication

Ancient testimonies quite freely weave propaganda, myth and probable fact but the gospels are a very different type of document. One oddity of the Jesus tale is its four-fold construction, presented by a deceitful Church as four unique witness statements. Blatant contradictions between the “witnesses” are waived off as “authentic” alternative viewpoints, but they are nothing of the kind.

One thing of which historians and New Testament scholars are well aware is the trajectory by which the Jesus tale developed from an original text. Matthew, Luke and even to some extent the fourth gospel, built on a brief original tale (sans miraculous birth and postmortem appearances) written at an uncertain date by an anonymous author, which Church tradition alone identifies as Mark. Matthew took this story off in one direction, correcting Mark’s “curious” errors of geography and Jewish practices, and packing the text with “prophecy”. Luke, in contrast, trawled through the works of Josephus for his tidbits of “historical accuracy.” John’s Jesus is so different from the hero of the synoptics that he has a completely incompatible “biography.”

Whatever else, eye-witness testimonies they are not and the tendentious story was all but unknown until the second half of the second century.


Aware of these difficulties, New Testament scholars posit a multiplicity of “traditions” that preceded the gospel tales. And what do these earlier traditions tell us of Jesus?

Pauline Christianity, with its emphasis on the “Risen Christ”, has an all but total lack of reference to a human Jesus and is a very different animal from the Christianity of the “Pillars” in Jerusalem. Paul himself castigates several rival factions, including those who followed John the Baptizer, not Jesus. And this, before we step outside the parameters of traditional Christianity.

Though the New Testament fails to acknowledge even their existence, the Essenes, one of Josephus’ four sects of the Jews, anticipated Christianity in a number of respects. The Therapeuts of Egypt (described in detail by Philo, though he made not a single reference to Jesus or Christianity) were hailed by Church historian Eusebius as “early Christian monks”, yet they were widely established well before the opening of the Christian era! The Gnostics, a wide variety of esoteric fraternities, far from originating as heretics in the second century, were certainly active before orthodoxy got its boots on and generally held that that their god could never have taken human form. Among them were the Docetae, sectarians that vexed Paul by denying a Jesus “in the flesh.” What’s very clear is that completely divergent forms of Christianity (or rather, proto-Christianities) were already widespread before Jesus took up his staring role.

And if a “Christian” movement existed before its purported eponymous founder, what then are we to make of the thinly drawn “life of Jesus” which certainly appears to owe an extraordinary amount to Jewish scriptural precedents – whether drawn from Adam, Moses, Enoch, Melchizedek, Elijah, Elisha, et al – collectively, a vast anticipation of the words and deeds of Jesus? Let one instant stand for many: on the south side of the Hill of Moreh, Elisha raised the only son of an old woman (2 Kings 4.32,35); on the north side of the same hill Jesus also raised the only son of an old woman (Luke 7.11,15). Do we buy into the Christian apologetic of “fulfillment” when a simple “copying” explains the same? In fact, we know that Christian scribes trawled through Jewish scripture (the Greek Septuagint at that) for proof of their godman, but they were seeking not confirmation but inspiration!

What are we to make of the multitude of parallels to Jesus lore to be found in ancient world mythology? One enormous train of coincidences? I don’t think so.

Even the embarrassed Church Fathers spoke of diabolical mimicry. It seems that Satan himself understood the true message of the Jewish prophets and was thus able to preempt Christianity centuries before the arrival of Jesus. And if the Devil could read the prophets and construct a Jesus or two could not Christian scribes do precisely the same?

The fact is, we have absolutely no trace or mention of Jesus’ exploits anywhere until the gospels were written decades after the purported events. Desperate to penetrate the primordial fog, some scholars strive to identify an early “layer” of teaching said to derive from the mouth of an historical Jesus. But does a “sayings tradition” (as in the Gospel of Thomas) really point to a single author of wise words? The Bible itself provides an answer. We have a sayings collection in the Book of Proverbs (attributed to Solomon) and another in the Book of Psalms (attributed to David). Neither accreditation is historically valid; rather, we know it was standard practice in the ancient world to lend authority and prestige to new material by falsely accrediting a prestigious figure from the past (even, as in this case, to personages who are historically dubious!) But even more fatal to the claim of a “sayings tradition” is the patent failure of anyone to record any of the supposed astounding new teachings at the time! If “great multitudes” throughout Syria, Galilee, the Decapolis, and Judea heard and believed, how odd that not one recorded those sparkling gems of wisdom! Not even Paul, the great proselytizer, quotes his Lord, but instead habitually turns to Jewish scripture for divine endorsement!

Below Critical Mass

If we still insist on some sort of flesh-and-blood progenitor we now run into another difficulty.

A Jesus who did nothing of consequence and said nothing of consequence would not have been the catalyst for a religious revolution.

A nonentity of a Jesus, even a gifted carpenter, simply could not have inspired an overturning of established belief systems that had held sway for centuries, if not millennia. A minimalist Jesus (and in fact there were hundreds of men of that name!) obliges us to look elsewhere to explain the religious sea change.

The truth is that Christianity grew from neither a god nor a man but out of what had gone before; a human Jesus was no more necessary than was a human Horus, Dionysos, Mithras, Attis, etc. Can we explain the emergence of Christianity without its humanoid superstar? Of course we can. Christianity, like all religious movements, was born from myth-making and many currents fed the myth, including astrological speculation, pagan salvation cults, Hellenistic hero worship, and the imperial cult itself, manufactured at precisely the “time of Jesus”, with its own sacrificed saviour (Divus Iulius), its own gospel of a son of god (Res Gestae Divi Augusti), its own priests and temples, established in the very same urban centres which later witnessed the emergence of early Christianity. In its various rival incarnations the Christian movement languished for two centuries. Thanks to civil war it got its big chance and finally triumphed in an omnibus edition of all that had gone before, the ultimate product of ancient religious syncretism.

Also an excellent short video. I bookmarked this, you might also. A very concise argument.

Re: Demolishing The Messiah Myth
« Reply #1 on: June 28, 2016, 02:03:34 AM »
Quote
Can we explain the emergence of Christianity without its humanoid superstar? Of course we can. Christianity, like all religious movements, was born from myth-making and many currents fed the myth, including astrological speculation, pagan salvation cults, Hellenistic hero worship, and the imperial cult itself, manufactured at precisely the “time of Jesus”, with its own sacrificed saviour (Divus Iulius), its own gospel of a son of god (Res Gestae Divi Augusti), its own priests and temples, established in the very same urban centres which later witnessed the emergence of early Christianity. In its various rival incarnations the Christian movement languished for two centuries. Thanks to civil war it got its big chance and finally triumphed in an omnibus edition of all that had gone before, the ultimate product of ancient religious syncretism.
I've read that Roman polytheism was in decline before Christianity ever existed and that Roman people were attracted to various foreign religions and particularly, towards monotheism.  In the words of Aurellian, "one faith, one empire".  Judaism was a strong monotheist religion, but was not particularly well-liked because of the Jewish-Roman wars.  If only it were altered to make conversion easy, get rid of a lot of the detested rules, and throw in some familiar divi filius - I could really see that catching on.
« Last Edit: June 28, 2016, 02:08:27 AM by Hydra009 »

Offline Baruch

Re: Demolishing The Messiah Myth
« Reply #2 on: June 28, 2016, 07:08:44 AM »
I've read that Roman polytheism was in decline before Christianity ever existed and that Roman people were attracted to various foreign religions and particularly, towards monotheism.  In the words of Aurellian, "one faith, one empire".  Judaism was a strong monotheist religion, but was not particularly well-liked because of the Jewish-Roman wars.  If only it were altered to make conversion easy, get rid of a lot of the detested rules, and throw in some familiar divi filius - I could really see that catching on.

And not require circumcision.  Conversion not by conviction, but by your overlord's choice and the priest waving his magic wand.

Scholars in history of religion, are well aware of why ordinary people (as opposed to the overlord or priest) wanted to move away from paganism.  And with Aristotle, any major change would be a change for the better ... teleologically speaking.  But Edward Gibbon says they were wrong.  Christianity emasculates nations and empires ... and Nietzsche agreed.
« Last Edit: June 28, 2016, 07:10:27 AM by Baruch »
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Offline stromboli (OP)

Re: Demolishing The Messiah Myth
« Reply #3 on: June 28, 2016, 09:06:46 AM »
There is a simple logic to the creation of monotheism when seen in retrospect. Multiple gods create confusion between followers, monotheism is a concatenation of the different attributes of gods into one god, possessing all of the attributes. My god is bigger than your god(s). It provides and easy justification for the actions pursuant from the creation of the religion. Burn the library of Alexandria because Paganist ideas reside therein.

One point made by the article is that the elements of what became Christianity were all there prior to the "advent" of JC. Wasn't actually a difficult metamorphosis, but almost an inevitable event. The holy Roman empire by that same logic was almost inevitable. What started as the justification for empire became the empire. Religion is politics. Catholicism/Christianity and Islam have greater staying power than the conquerors that brought it in the first place.

Genghis Khan was on of the great generals in history, but his empire became fractured and fell into separate pieces not long after his death. Genghis Khan was notably tolerant of religion in the different countries he conquered. Alexander likewise, his conquests quickly fractured into nation states that in some cases were ruled by his generals- Ptolemy in Egypt, for example. Had they brought with them a belief system based on monotheism, their empires might well have lasted much longer. Charlemagne figured it out. so did Muhammad.


Re: Demolishing The Messiah Myth
« Reply #4 on: June 28, 2016, 03:03:39 PM »
Good stuff!

In the end.......................what does it matter though?  Belief is the opposite of thinking; putting these or other arguments before believers is just casting pearls before swine, or Chump or Billary supporters for that matter. 

All you'll get back is; It doesn't matter, I don't care (unsaid: because I believe).

Grandma DID get run over by a reindeer; you know.  .)

Offline stromboli (OP)

Re: Demolishing The Messiah Myth
« Reply #5 on: June 28, 2016, 03:05:13 PM »
Yeah but grandma was bad. She deserved it.

Re: Demolishing The Messiah Myth
« Reply #6 on: June 28, 2016, 09:37:35 PM »
Yeah but grandma was bad. She deserved it.

Few people know about the second list Santa keeps. His hit list.



He sees you when you're sleeping. So be good, for goodness sake!
"Birds born in a cage think flying is an illness." - Alejandro Jodorowsky

Offline stromboli (OP)

Re: Demolishing The Messiah Myth
« Reply #7 on: June 28, 2016, 09:50:35 PM »
Ain't afraid of no fucking reindeer. But them elves bro, them elves....


Re: Demolishing The Messiah Myth
« Reply #8 on: October 11, 2016, 11:18:57 PM »
Mankind was never given the tools to solve the God mystery, much like a chimp can never learn 5 languages. I am always sceptical when someone has "found God" because in my case it was the reverse. 

Offline SGOS

Re: Demolishing The Messiah Myth
« Reply #9 on: October 12, 2016, 04:21:17 PM »
Mankind was never given the tools to solve the God mystery, much like a chimp can never learn 5 languages. I am always sceptical when someone has "found God" because in my case it was the reverse. 

As Woody Allen said in one of his movies, "God doesn't play dice with the Universe.  It's more like he plays hide and seek."  Not everyone finds God.  He is apparently hiding, and those that do find him, can't prove they found him.  Nor can they show you where he hides.  Finding God, as far as I can tell is more like an insight or a brain fart.  Sometimes it's a just a bald faced lie.  You say you found him, because you don't want to have people think you are not up to the task or think you are mentally challenged like a retarded person.  If you say you never found him, it freaks people out.  Atheists understand that.  You might as well just say, "Fuck you." 

Re: Demolishing The Messiah Myth
« Reply #10 on: October 13, 2016, 03:29:06 AM »
How does science explain a miracle? The human mind cannot conceive eternity and the physical evidence is, that both time and space are eternal. Churches are almost always flawed because of greed, lust, or power.
Islam can easily be dismissed because of plagiarism from the Bible and Torah and the blood lust of mohammed.
Cults like Mormanism are driven by the 10% tithe, the big evangelical churches are cashing in on the gullible and a tax free status. 
Atheism cannot exist on it's own, because it needs to bash religion to justify it's existence.
My experiences have taught me not to limit God to the power of my own mind, as he is full of surprises.
 

Offline Baruch

Re: Demolishing The Messiah Myth
« Reply #11 on: October 13, 2016, 06:23:08 AM »
Write an introduction before you post more.

That G-d is bigger (how big?) is why there are two words, transcendent and immanent ... not just immanent.

Be careful not to define theological terms in materialist ways.  Einstein or Feynman is the god of physics (for some).  Jew idolatry is ... silly.

If you encounter G-d, then the physics is immaterial ;-)
« Last Edit: October 13, 2016, 06:24:49 AM by Baruch »
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Offline SGOS

Re: Demolishing The Messiah Myth
« Reply #12 on: October 13, 2016, 06:32:29 AM »
How does science explain a miracle? The human mind cannot conceive eternity and the physical evidence is, that both time and space are eternal. Churches are almost always flawed because of greed, lust, or power.
Islam can easily be dismissed because of plagiarism from the Bible and Torah and the blood lust of mohammed.
Cults like Mormanism are driven by the 10% tithe, the big evangelical churches are cashing in on the gullible and a tax free status. 
Atheism cannot exist on it's own, because it needs to bash religion to justify it's existence.
My experiences have taught me not to limit God to the power of my own mind, as he is full of surprises.
 

The big bang theory suggests that space and time began approximately 13.8 billion years ago in the absence of space and time.  I don't think there is anything we know of that can be measured regarding whether it comes to an end.  But the beginning can be calculated by studying the physical evidence.  To be eternal, space and time would have to go both forward and back infinitely, but it doesn't seem to go back infinitely.  But does it go forward infinitely?  I don't think we know that.

But this is irrelevant to the existence of a god.  Gods are best understood as creations of man's imagination.  There is no physical evidence we can measure to indicate they are anything other than imaginary concepts designed to fit them into our perception of reality.  In order to do this they must be logically inconsistent.  Sometimes gods are proposed to be everywhere.  At other times they are proposed to be outside of space and time.  They are everywhere, and at the same time nowhere, residing in reality or outside of it, whichever happens to be the most convenient argument to explain away an inconsistency at a specific time.  Eventually, as an act of desperation, the inconsistencies are explained away by defining gods as incomprehensible to man, while still maintaining that they are understood well enough to describe their personalities, quirks, and detailed plans for mankind, and the methods they use to punish man for sins.  Which of course weakens the argument from incomprehensibility, because no one can know something unknowable.

To deal with this inconsistency, man imagines the existence of prophets and special messengers who have special abilities that allow them bring mankind urgent communications from the gods.  But there is no way to identify these special messengers.  They must be taken at their word, because there is nothing they say which can verify that they are who they say they are, or that what they are doing is actually what they claim it is.
« Last Edit: October 13, 2016, 12:44:00 PM by SGOS »

Re: Demolishing The Messiah Myth
« Reply #13 on: October 13, 2016, 09:12:45 PM »
If the big bang could be proven, which it cannot, than it also lends itself to being a miracle, something created out of nothing.
The big question is, what happens to the mind when the body perishes?
The worrying part for an atheist should be, that maybe the mind lives on. rev9.6 "They shall seek death and not find it"
The real testimony as to the validity of Jesus comes through the Holy Spirit, which also is the only unforgivable sin, through experiencing and than denying this witness.
 

Re: Demolishing The Messiah Myth
« Reply #14 on: October 13, 2016, 10:26:44 PM »
If the big bang could be proven, which it cannot,

When nearly 100% of experts in physics agree that the Big Bang happened, I pretty much consider it proven. Unless you consider yourself to be more knowledgeable than them. In which case, please offer your scientifically supported evidence for your alternative explanation for the origin of the universe and take your Nobel Peace prize.

than it also lends itself to being a miracle, something created out of nothing.

The universe emerging from the singularity is not exactly creation from nothing. There are explanations of where the energy came from. The idea that some intelligent creator was involved, however, is not taken seriously because it is not a necessary explanation. Just like Zeus is no longer necessary to explain lightning, as scientific knowledge increases, the necessity for the god explanation to explain the unknowable shrinks.

The big question is, what happens to the mind when the body perishes?

Well, since the brain is what creates the mind, I think the result of the brain ceasing to function is pretty self-explanatory. Granted, I humor the thought that the world is created by the mind; an idea referred to as "solipsism." However, I would not try and justify that idea as if any amount of logic trumps real-world experience.

The worrying part for an atheist should be, that maybe the mind lives on. rev9.6 "They shall seek death and not find it"
The real testimony as to the validity of Jesus comes through the Holy Spirit, which also is the only unforgivable sin, through experiencing and than denying this witness.

Yes. Your God is a prick who demands worship while hiding himself so well that any rational thinking person would doubt his existence, and then punishes them for not worshiping him with eternal torture. Sounds like a swell guy who totally deserves our admiration.
« Last Edit: October 13, 2016, 10:28:35 PM by Blackleaf »
"Birds born in a cage think flying is an illness." - Alejandro Jodorowsky