Author Topic: Carriers ahistorical Jesus--revisted  (Read 94 times)

Carriers ahistorical Jesus--revisted
« on: July 07, 2018, 09:03:40 PM »
Mousetrap is talking of Jesus as though he is a real person, so I think this may be a good time to repost this---from Dec. 2014:

Finished Carrier’s book--On The Historicity of Jesus.  Why We Might Have Reason to Doubt. 

As no other book has, this one addresses the question of Jesus as a myth or a real man very clearly.  Basically, the book is in two parts.  The first part he lays the groundwork and states the question--Jesus real or myth.  He then lists 48 elements that need to be considered for both sides of the question.  He then spends the last half evaluating those elements and assigning probabilities for each side.  The book is highly footnoted and one could spend a lifetime reading all of his listed source material.  I am willing to admit that I approach this question with a large bias--and he addresses how one needs to deal with that when reading any historical records or documents.  Even so, I think he confessed his, addressed them and came to a very reasonable and thought out conclusion. 

I will briefly summarize his conclusion:
There is only about a 0% to 33% chance Jesus existed.  Furthermore, this means the probability that mysticism is true is about 67% to 100%--and more likely to be near the upper end of that projection. 

What does this mean for Jesus studies?  It means all later tales of a historical Jesus and his family need to be seen as legendary, mythical and propagandistic inventions, and studied for their literary and rhetorical purpose and not for their specific historical content.  But more importantly, it means we need to re-examine the earliest evidence from a completely different perspective.  That means the authentic letters of Paul, but also other Epistles close to him in thought, such as Colossians, Ephesians, Hebrews, 1 Peter and 1 Clement, and perhaps other works such as the Didache. We need to to reconsider all the evidence now from a new perspective.  We need to see it in the light of what the present study has shown to be the most likely account of the origin and early development of the Christian religion, which now fits the theory of minimal mysticism.

In summary:  Before the 20’s, the Jesus that Christians would later worship was known by some Jews as a celestial being, God’s agent of creation.  Sometime between the 20’s and 40’s a small fringe sect of Jews, probably at the time led by a man named Cephas, came to believe that his Jesus figure had undergone a salvific incarnation, death and resurrection in outer space, thus negating the cultic role of the Jerusalem temple, freeing them from it politically, spirituality, and physically, which was a very convenient thing to conceive at the time.  They also came to believe that through his act their salvation had been secured through the defeat of the demonic world order, so long as they shared in that sacrifice metaphysically through baptism and ritual communion, a concept already adopted by many similar cults of that time. 

This sect like many others of the same period, had been looking for hidden messages from God in the OT in order to learn how and when God would solve their present woes.  And also like many Jews, this sect was under syncretistic influences from diverse Jewish sects and the most popular and culturally diffused aspects of the Greco-Roman religion and philosophy.  Its members were also highly prone to having (or claiming to) visions, and with the combination of such visions and their searching for creative reinterpretations of scripture that spoke to their present troubles they convinced themselves that this celestial  self-sacrifice occurred and was part of God’s plan and had now been ‘revealed’ from heaven to a select few.  We cannot know now whether the idea was discovered in scripture first, inspiring visions to corroborate or elaborate it, or whether it was creatively arrived at in visions first, inspiring the apostles to then find corroboration and elaboration in scripture.  It could have been both, each a catalyst for the other.

This cult began as a Torah-observant Jewish sect that abandoned their reliance on Levitical temple cult, and was likely preaching the imminent end of the world, in accordance with the Scripture, signs and revelations of the celestial Jesus.  In the 30’s or 40’s an active enemy of the cult, named Paul, had his own revelation from this Jesus and became an apostle spreading rather than attacking the faith.  Over the next twenty years, he converts many, preaches widely, and writes a body of letters. During this time, the original sect driven by Cephas fragmented.  There are many church schisms, and many alternative versions of the original gospel arise, including the version inaugurated by Paul, which abandoned Torah observance and more avidly sought the conversion of pagans, seeking to unify Jew and Gentile in a common community. 

Between the 30’s and 70’s some Christian congregations gradually mythicize the story of their celestial Jesus Lord, just as other mystery cults had done for their gods, eventually representing him rhetorically and symbolically in overtly historical narratives, during which time much of the more esoteric truth of the matter is ir reserved in secret for the upper levels of initiation.  Right in the middle of this process the Jewish War of 66-70 destroyed the original church in Jerusalem, leaving us with no evidence that any of the original apostles lived beyond it.  Before that, persecutions from Jewish authorities and famines throughout the empire further exacerbated the effect, which was to leave a thirty year dark age in the history of the church, a whole generation in which we have no idea what happened or who was in charge.  In fact this ecclesiastical dark age probably spans 50 years, if 1 clement was written in the 60’s and not the 90’s, as then we have no record of anything going on until either Ignatius or Papias, both of whom could have written well later than the 110’s. 

It’s during this dark age that the canonical Gospels most likely came to be written, by persons unknown, and at least one Christian sect started to believe the myths they contain were real, and this began to believe that Jesus as a real person, and then preached and embellished this view.  Because having a historical founder represented in controlled documents was a significant advantage.  This ‘historicizing’ sect gradually gained political and social superiority, declare itself ‘orthodox’ while condemning all others as ‘heretics’, and preserved only texts that agreed with its view and forged and altered countless texts in support.  As a result, almost all evidence of the original Christian sects and what they believed has been lost or doctored out of the record; even evidence of what happened during the latter half of the first century to transition from Paul’s Christianity to second-century ‘orthodoxy’ is completely lost and now almost wholly inaccessible to us.
Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?
Then he is not omnipotent,
Is he able but not willing?
Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able or willing?
Then why call him god?

Re: Carriers ahistorical Jesus--revisted
« Reply #1 on: July 07, 2018, 09:06:12 PM »
Mousetrap, in case you don't understand my stance--here it is in it's simplest form.  Neither your god nor your Jesus are factual; they are both man made and complete fiction.
Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?
Then he is not omnipotent,
Is he able but not willing?
Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able or willing?
Then why call him god?

Re: Carriers ahistorical Jesus--revisted
« Reply #2 on: July 08, 2018, 05:47:23 PM »
Ken Humphreys has a great video series about Jesus's lack of existence:

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These videos are very much worth watching.
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"Religion – it’s given people hope in a world torn apart by religion."
Jon Stewart
"Jesus was a Jew, yes, but only on his mother’s side."
Archie Bunker

Re: Carriers ahistorical Jesus--revisted
« Reply #3 on: July 08, 2018, 06:49:06 PM »
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Ken Humphreys has a great video series about Jesus's lack of existence:

You are not allowed to view links. Register or Login


These videos are very much worth watching.
Great resource---thanks!!
Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?
Then he is not omnipotent,
Is he able but not willing?
Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able or willing?
Then why call him god?

Online Baruch

Re: Carriers ahistorical Jesus--revisted
« Reply #4 on: July 08, 2018, 06:52:20 PM »
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Ken Humphreys has a great video series about Jesus's lack of existence:

You are not allowed to view links. Register or Login


These videos are very much worth watching.

From his home page ...

"Christianity was the ultimate product of religious syncretism in the ancient world. Its emergence owed nothing to a holy carpenter. There were many Jesuses but the fable was a cultural construct."

That is true, but also true of all cultural constructs.  Humans have great imaginations ... see Rick & Morty.
שלום

Re: Carriers ahistorical Jesus--revisted
« Reply #5 on: July 08, 2018, 07:01:59 PM »
Yeah, it doesn't get much more imaginative than R&M! Maybe they'll have their own cult in the future - if there is a future.
You are not allowed to view links. Register or Login
"Religion – it’s given people hope in a world torn apart by religion."
Jon Stewart
"Jesus was a Jew, yes, but only on his mother’s side."
Archie Bunker

Online Baruch

Re: Carriers ahistorical Jesus--revisted
« Reply #6 on: July 08, 2018, 07:08:38 PM »
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Yeah, it doesn't get much more imaginative than R&M! Maybe they'll have their own cult in the future - if there is a future.

Depends on the multiverse you are referring to ;-))
שלום

Offline Cavebear

Re: Carriers ahistorical Jesus--revisted
« Reply #7 on: July 09, 2018, 04:07:55 AM »
Best series of posts demonstrating the non-existence of the alleged Jesus I has seen in a VERY long time!  Thank you for saving me a lot of typing!
Atheist born, atheist bred.  And when I die, atheist dead!

 

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