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Scholars Debate Evidence for Jesus’ Existence

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  • Scholars Debate Evidence for Jesus’ Existence

    A CNN original series that premiered its second season this week, “Finding Jesus,” uses scientific and archaeological research to investigate the historical truth of Jesus.

    The show is part of a larger debate between scholars and authors. Some say that Jesus never existed or that he was a “teaching story.”

    "If I said to you that there was no real Good Samaritan, I don't think anyone would be outraged," said Timothy Freke, author of The Jesus Mysteries: Was the ‘Original Jesus’ a Pagan God? "It's a teaching story,” Freke continued. What we're saying is that the Jesus story is an allegory. It's a parable of the spiritual journey."

    But biblical scholars, such as Bart. D. Ehrman, author of Did Jesus Exist? The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth, say those that deny the existence of Jesus are “Internet kooks.”

    "There are people out there who don't think the Holocaust happened, there wasn't a lone JFK assassin and Obama wasn't born in the U.S.," Ehrman says. "Among them are people who don't think Jesus existed."

    While those who deny Jesus’ existence point to parallels between Jesus’ story and other pagan stories in ancient history and no other credible sources outside the Bible saying Jesus existed, biblical scholars say those parallels are actually not comparable at all to Jesus.

    For example, he says there is no proof that the ancient Osiris figure, which Freke has said had a life that paralleled Jesus, was crucified and rose again.

    "He doesn't know much about ancient history," Ehrman says of Freke. "He's not a scholar. All he knows is what he's read in other conspiracy books."

    Source: Scholars Debate Evidence for Jesus’ Existence - Christian News Headlines

  • #2
    I thought there were multiple sources outside the Bible that said Jesus existed, including Roman historians at the time. There is some debate over what he actually did, everything from Biblical accuracy to a book I read years ago that suggested he led an armed uprising against the Romans, but no claims that he didn't exist.

    If Jesus didn't exist, then who do they think Tacitus, Pliny, and Josephus were writing about? And are they also going to query the existence of Ponitus Pilate who is refered to in many non-Biblical sources as one of Rome's governors?
    Comment>

    • #3
      Besides rejecting a biblical historian, Luke, the New Testament accounts were circulating within the lifetime of Christ's contemporaries. These people whose lives overlapped his could certainly confirm or deny the accuracy of the accounts. In advocating their case for the gospel, the apostles had appealed (even when confronting their most severe opponents) to common knowledge concerning Jesus.

      I opened a small book of apologetics written by Josh Mcdowell. He presents many arguments, but besides them, I think there's more historical and literary evidence about Jesus existence than others such as Socrates or Joan of Arc etc.

      Here's a clip from "More than a Carpenter"

      The Copycat Theory “Nothing in Christianity is original” is one of the most commonly used lines of many critics today. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries many scholars believed that the central claims of Christianity were plagiarized from Greco-Roman mystery religions. Jesus was considered another “dying and rising” god in the tradition of Osiris, Mithras, Adonis, and Dionysus. While this theory has experienced a surprising resurgence on the Internet and in popular books, it faces near universal rejection by contemporary scholars. Here’s why.

      While parallels between Jesus and the mystery religions may appear striking on the surface, they collapse under scrutiny. Osiris, for instance, is considered by many to be a dying and rising god from ancient Egypt. According to the myth, Osiris was killed by Seth and resuscitated by Isis. But rather than returning to the world in a resurrected body, Osiris became king of the underworld—hardly a parallel to the historical resurrection of Jesus. This is why Paul Rhodes Eddy and Greg Boyd, authors of The Jesus Legend, conclude that “the differences between Christianity and the mystery religions are far more profound than any similarities. While there certainly are parallel terms used in early Christianity and the mystery religions, there is little evidence for parallel concepts.”16 Unlike the historical Jesus, there is no evidence for the reliability of any of the alleged parallel stories in the mystery religions. Jesus of Nazareth ate, slept, performed miracles, died, and returned to life. These accounts are supported by a reliable historical record. In contrast, the dying and rising gods of the mystery religions were timeless myths repeated annually with the changing seasons. The most recent scholarly treatise on dying and rising gods was written by T. N. D. Mettinger, professor at Lund University. In The Riddle of Resurrection, Mettinger grants the existence of the myths of dying and rising gods in the ancient world, which, he admits, is a minority view. Yet his conclusion puts the nail in the coffin of the copycat theory: There is, as far as I am aware, no prima facie evidence that the death and resurrection of Jesus is a mythological construct, drawing on the myths and rites of the dying and rising gods of the surrounding world. While studied with profit against the background of Jewish resurrection belief, the faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus retains its unique character in the history of religions. The riddle remains.

      McDowell, Josh D.; Sean McDowell. More Than a Carpenter (Kindle Locations 1829-1844). Tyndale House Publishers. Kindle Edition.
      God bless,
      William
      Comment>

      • #4
        Originally posted by William View Post
        A CNN original series that premiered its second season this week, “Finding Jesus,” uses scientific and archaeological research to investigate the historical truth of Jesus.

        The show is part of a larger debate between scholars and authors. Some say that Jesus never existed or that he was a “teaching story.”

        "If I said to you that there was no real Good Samaritan, I don't think anyone would be outraged," said Timothy Freke, author of The Jesus Mysteries: Was the ‘Original Jesus’ a Pagan God? "It's a teaching story,” Freke continued. What we're saying is that the Jesus story is an allegory. It's a parable of the spiritual journey."

        But biblical scholars, such as Bart. D. Ehrman, author of Did Jesus Exist? The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth, say those that deny the existence of Jesus are “Internet kooks.”

        "There are people out there who don't think the Holocaust happened, there wasn't a lone JFK assassin and Obama wasn't born in the U.S.," Ehrman says. "Among them are people who don't think Jesus existed."

        While those who deny Jesus’ existence point to parallels between Jesus’ story and other pagan stories in ancient history and no other credible sources outside the Bible saying Jesus existed, biblical scholars say those parallels are actually not comparable at all to Jesus.

        For example, he says there is no proof that the ancient Osiris figure, which Freke has said had a life that paralleled Jesus, was crucified and rose again.

        "He doesn't know much about ancient history," Ehrman says of Freke. "He's not a scholar. All he knows is what he's read in other conspiracy books."

        Source: Scholars Debate Evidence for Jesus’ Existence - Christian News Headlines
        Ehrman is correct on all points but one. He says that that they are internet kooks. That is much too kind. They are internet idiots.
        Comment>

        • #5
          Originally posted by Origen View Post
          Ehrman is correct on all points but one. He says that that they are internet kooks. That is much too kind. They are internet idiots.
          Thing about the internet is it propagates old arguments. Someone thinks they thought up something new, something we've not heard in 2000 years. They write about it on their favorite blogging platform. It is so reciprocal at times. Luckily for us, we can just do a counter search :confused: and begin a game of ping pong quoting our favorite sources.

          Of course this kinda thing rarely goes on here for long. Our moderation team knows how to deal with such DDOS attacks.

          God bless,
          William
          Comment>

          • #6
            It amazes me that CNN would turn to Timothy Freke for information. He is not a scholar of any kind, not a historian, nothing. He does not know any of the relevant languages (e.g. Greek, Hebrew, Aramaic, Latin, Syriac etc.) He has a B.A. in philosophy, and I don't what his area of study was. Why CNN would use him makes no sense. He has no qualifications whatsoever.
            Comment>

            • #7
              Originally posted by Origen View Post
              Why CNN would use him makes no sense. He has no qualifications whatsoever.
              He has the only one that matters for a media program: he says the things they want him to say for the program they want to make. Controversy creates cash, and all that. Accuracy and research are less interesting. I'm afraid I am very cynical about news and media now.

              Comment>

              • #8
                Originally posted by ChatterBox View Post
                He has the only one that matters for a media program: he says the things they want him to say for the program they want to make. Controversy creates cash, and all that. Accuracy and research are less interesting. I'm afraid I am very cynical about news and media now.
                You and me both, but I wouldn't watch the Communist News Network (CNN) if that was the only station available. Everything is from a secular humanist perspective.

                God bless,
                William
                Comment>

                • #9
                  It's counter-intuitive for anyone to claim Jesus never existed. If the authenticity of the writings of Josephus, the Gospels and Tacticus etc are brought into question, then we might as well claim we can't know anything from the past at all. I don't know about you,but that would be too nihilistic for my taste.
                  Comment>
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