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Jesus vs. Horus


Helter_Skelter

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Wow, lots of misinformation in this thread. Let's take it one issue at a time.

First, as to the topic of the thread, which would be that the story of Jesus was copied from earlier, pagan myths, also known as "parallelism". This was popular in the 19th century (even Freud got in on the act), but today, virtually no serious scholar holds to it.

Regarding Noah, actually, there's good reason to believe that literary borrowing could not have taken place, which leaves as another possibility that they are two accounts reporting the same event (the Flood). This is not really my area, but I go into a bit of detail here, so go there for more. I'm going to focus here on Jesus, both because I think that's what important, and because it's the area I'm familiar with.

I believe someone mentioned Mithras, so we'll cover that, then we'll go on to Horus, using an actual book as source (gasp!), then cover the whole "copycat" thing in a bit broader sense.

And now we're to the internet myths about Mithras. Just a preface here... most of this stuff floating around the internet is based on work by Francis Cumont (or nobody at all), and has been since discarded by more modern research, which has determined that most of the parallels are bogus, and where they do exist, generally they would have to be the other way around (Mithraism borrowing from Christianity) due to the dating. The following quotes are from an interview Lee Strobel does with Dr. Edwin Yamuachi, a foremost expert in this field, who among his extensive qualifications, was a participant at the Second Mythraic Mysteries Congress in Tehran in 1975. Quotes are from Strobel's The Case for the Real Jesus. All quote Dr. Yamauchi directly.

Here's what happened at the Congress:

The Congress produced two volumes of papers. A scholar named Richard Gordon from England and others concluded that Cumont's theory was not supported by the evidence and, in fact, Cumont's interpretations have now been analyzed and rejected on all major points. Contrary to what Cumont believed. even though Mithras was a Persian god who was attested to as early as the fourteenth century B.C., we have almost no evidence of Mithraism in the sense of a mystery religion in the West until very late-too late to have influenced the beginnings of Christianity. (page 168)

More quotes from Dr. Yamauchi on the problems with the idea that Mithraism influenced Christianity:

The first public recognition of Mithras in Rome was the state visit of Tiridates, the king of Armenia, in AD 66.. It's said that he addressed Nero by saying, 'And I have come to thee, my god, to worship thee as I do Mithras.' There is also a reference earlier to some pirates in Cilicia who were worshipers of Mithras, but, this is NOT the same as Mithraism as a mystery religion. (page 169)
Mithraism as a mystery religion cannot be attested before anout AD 90, which is about the time we seee a Mithraic motif in a poem by Statius. No mithraea [or Mithraic temples] have been found at Pompeii, which was destroyed by the eruption of Vesuvius in AD 79. The earliest Mithraic inscription in the West is a statue of a prefect under the emperor Trajan in AD 101. It's now in the British Museum. (page 169)
The earliest mithraea are dated to the early second century. There are a handful of inscriptions that date to the early second century, but the vast majority of texts are dated to AD 140. Most of what we have as evidence of Mithraism comes in the second, third, and fourth centuries AD. That's basically what's wrong with the theories about Mithraism influencing the beginnings of Christianity (page 169)
Gordon dates the estanblishment of the Mithraic mysteries to the reign of Hadrian, which was AD 117-138, or Antoninus Pius, which would be from 138 to 161. (page 169)
Specifically, Gordon said, 'It is therefore reasonable to argue that Western Mithraism did not exist until the mid-second century, at least in a developed sense (page 169)

Editor's note: Dr. Gordon is a senior fellow at the University of East Anglia.

Further, most of the parallels aren't even true! For example, Mithras was not born of a virgin. He sprang out of solid rock! Dr. Yamauchi again:

He [Mithras] was born out of a rock. Yes, the rock birth is commonly depicted in Mithraic beliefs. Mithras emerges fully grown and naked except for a Phrygian cap, and he's holding a dagger and torch. In some variations, flames shoot out from the rock, or he's holding a globe in his hands. (page 171)

Also, Mithras didn't die and was ressurected (more on the uniqueness of this story later, by the way, and not just about Mithras). There's no record of Mithras dying at all!

We don't know anything about the death of Mithras. We have a lot of monuments, but we have almost no textual evidence, because this was a secret religion. But I know of no supposed references to a death and resurrection. Indeed, Richard Gordon declared in his book "Image and Value in the Greco-Roman World" that there is "no death of Mithras"-and thus, there cannot be a resurrection. (page 172)

The December 25 parallel is often claimed, but the Christian church didn't adopt that date until the 4th century, so that's not a parallel with the Bible either.

I'll stop the detail here, because I have a lot to still cover, but I think that's sufficient to demonstrate that there is absolutely no evidence that Christianity borrowed from Mithraism, and if anything, Mithraism may well have borrowed from Christianity!

Now, though, I'd like to bump up a level, and talk about how and why scholars have rejected the notion that there is any pagan mythological "copycat" influence on the Christian story (hopefully, this will also put to rest whatever "parallels" I skipped).

The following is from T.N.D. Mettinger's book, The Riddle of Ressurection: "Dying and Rising Gods" in the Ancient Near East.

First, Mettinger's assessment of the current state of scholarship, from Chapter 1.2.1: Where Do We Stand? The Task of the Present Work (This quote is from page 40):

As a result of the many decades of research since de Vaux (1933), "it has become commonplace to assume that the category of Mediterranean 'dying and rising' gods has been exploded... (I)t is now held that the majority of the gods so denoted appear to have died but not returned; there is death but no rebirth or ressurection." These words of J.Z. Smith aptly summarise the present state of research. (56)

Mettinger spends a lot of time in this chapter discussing this: the current consensus of scholars is that there are no "dying and rising" gods that predate Christ, and that, in fact, many of the references came after Christ, and are in fact more likely either cases of pagans borrowing from Christians, and not the other way around, or, as in the case of the Church moving Jesus' birthday to Dec. 25, an attempt by early Christians to attract followers of various pagan beliefs.

Now, I want to be totally fair here: although Mettinger shows the current state of scholarship, he then goes on to say that he is one of the few that disagree, and the book is an attempt to make his case that there are in fact a few "dying and rising" gods that pre-date Christianity. He makes a fairly good argument, too, for the gods Melqart, Adonis, Osiris, and Dumuzi. Most scholars disagree with him, but it's a fair argument. Note please, that nowhere in this list is Mithras, by the way. ;)

Before the "Christ mythers" declare victory, though, along with the fact that he is in the extreme minority on this issue, there is also this quote from page 221, in the Epilogue (the bold emphasis is mine, the italics are his):

(1)The figures we have studied are deities. In the case of Jesus, we are confronted with a human (for whom divinity was claimed by himself and by his followers). For the disciples and for Paul, the resurrection of Jesus was a one-time, historical event that took place at one specific point in the earth's topography. The empty tomb was seen as a historical datum. (4)

(2) The dying and rising gods were closely related to the seasonal cycle. Their death and return were seen as reflected in the changes of plant life. The death and ressurection of Jesus is a one-time event, not repeated, and unrelated to seasonal changes.

(3) The death of Jesus is presented in the sources as vicarious suffering, as an act of atonement for sins. The myth of Dumuzi has an arrangement with bilocation and substitution, but there is no evidence for the death of the dying and rising gods as vicarious suffering for sins.

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.

So, to sum up:

1) The vast majority of scholars reject the idea of pre-Christian "dying and rising gods" at all.

2) Mettinger, who while in the minority, makes a pretty good case that there are a few, also firmly concludes that there is no evidence that the Jewish Jesus was a myth based on other stories. Jesus is unique.

The point about Jesus' essential Judaism is key to the current scholarly rejection of the myth hypothesis. As Dr. William Lane Craig writes in Reply to Evan Fales: On the Empty Tomb of Jesus:

Now from D. F. Strauss through Rudolf Bultmann the role of myth in the shaping of the gospels was a question of lively debate in New Testament scholarship. But with the advent of the so–called "Third Quest" of the historical Jesus and what one author has called "the Jewish reclamation of Jesus,"{1} that is, the rediscovery of the Jewishness of Jesus, scholars have come to appreciate that the proper context for understanding Jesus and the gospels is first–century Palestinian Judaism, not pagan mythology. A most informative article on the demise of myth as a useful interpretive category for the gospels is Craig Evans's "Life–of–Jesus Research and the Eclipse of Mythology," in which he chronicles and accounts for the "major shift" away from mythology as a relevant factor in gospel interpretation.{2}

Given that Jesus and the gospels find their natural home in first century, Palestinian Judaism, recourse to pagan mythology to explain them has become otiose. Hence, we find James Dunn, called upon to write the article on "Myth" for the Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels, questioning even the need for such an entry in the dictionary: "Myth is a term of at best doubtful relevance to the study of Jesus and the Gospels…The fact that 'myth' even appears here as a subject related to the study of Jesus and the Gospels can be attributed almost entirely to the use of the term by two NT scholars"–Strauss and Bultmann.{3} In lamenting that most commentators have no "knowledge of–or at least, they certainly ignore–the tools that modern anthropology has provided for the analysis of myths and myth construction," Fales tacitly recognizes that his views in gospel interpretation would be rejected by the vast majority of NT critics (and not, therefore, simply by "fundamentalists!"). What he does not appreciate is that the construal of the gospels in terms of myth has been tried and found wanting by NT scholarship.

(Editor's note: I had to look it up. "Otiose" means useless. :))

Further, there just isn't enough time between the events and the writings for the kind of legendary development necessary for a myth-based story.

From Contemporary Scholarship and the Historical Evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus Christ by Dr. William Lane Craig:

First, the resurrection appearances. Undoubtedly the major impetus for the reassessment of the appearance tradition was the demonstration by Joachim Jeremias that in 1 Corinthians 15: 3-5 Paul is quoting an old Christian formula which he received and in turn passed on to his converts According to Galatians 1:18 Paul was in Jerusalem three years after his conversion on a fact-finding mission, during which he conferred with Peter and James over a two week period, and he probably received the formula at this time, if not before. Since Paul was converted in AD 33, this means that the list of witnesses goes back to within the first five years after Jesus' death. Thus, it is idle to dismiss these appearances as legendary. We can try to explain them away as hallucinations if we wish, but we cannot deny they occurred. Paul's information makes it certain that on separate occasions various individuals and groups saw Jesus alive from the dead. According to Norman Perrin, the late NT critic of the University of Chicago: "The more we study the tradition with regard to the appearances, the firmer the rock begins to appear upon which they are based." This conclusion is virtually indisputable.

At the same time that biblical scholarship has come to a new appreciation of the historical credibility of Paul's information, however, it must be admitted that skepticism concerning the appearance traditions in the gospels persists. This lingering skepticism seems to me to be entirely unjustified. It is based on a presuppositional antipathy toward the physicalism of the gospel appearance stories. But the traditions underlying those appearance stories may well be as reliable as Paul's. For in order for these stories to be in the main legendary, a very considerable length of time must be available for the evolution and development of the traditions until the historical elements have been supplanted by unhistorical. This factor is typically neglected in New Testament scholarship, as A. N. Sherwin-White points out in Roman Law and Roman Society tn the New Testament. Professor Sherwin-White is not a theologian; he is an eminent historian of Roman and Greek times, roughly contemporaneous with the NT. According to Professor Sherwin-White, the sources for Roman history are usually biased and removed at least one or two generations or even centuries from the events they record. Yet, he says, historians reconstruct with confidence what really happened. He chastises NT critics for not realizing what invaluable sources they have in the gospels. The writings of Herodotus furnish a test case for the rate of legendary accumulation, and the tests show that even two generations is too short a time span to allow legendary tendencies to wipe out the hard core of historical facts. When Professor Sherwin-White turns to the gospels, he states for these to be legends, the rate of legendary accumulation would have to be 'unbelievable'; more generations are needed. All NT scholars agree that the gospels were written down and circulated within the first generation, during the lifetime of the eyewitnesses. Indeed, a significant new movement of biblical scholarship argues persuasively that some of the gospels were written by the AD 50's. This places them as early as Paul's letter to the Corinthians and, given their equal reliance upon prior tradition, they ought therefore to be accorded the same weight of historical credibility accorded Paul. It is instructive to note in this connection that no apocryphal gospel appeared during the first century. These did not arise until after the generation of eyewitnesses had died off. These are better candidates for the office of 'legendary fiction' than the canonical gospels. There simply was insufficient time for significant accrual of legend by the time of the gospels' composition. Thus, I find current criticism's skepticism with regard to the appearance traditions in the gospels to be unwarranted. The new appreciation of the historical value of Paul's information needs to be accompanied by a reassessment of the gospel traditions as well.

Ultimately, though, I think the biggest stumbling block to the idea that the stories of Jesus were "borrowed" from anywhere is that it is a historical fact that the disciples and early Christians really believed that they had encountered the risen Jesus.

Consider this passage from Resurrection Research from 1975 to the Present: What are Critical Scholars Saying, by Dr. Gary Habermas. Keep in mind that this is a survey of critical scholars.

I like to quote this section:

Bart Ehrman explains that, “Historians, of course, have no difficulty whatsoever speaking about the belief in Jesus’ resurrection, since this is a matter of public record. For it is a historical fact that some of Jesus’ followers came to believe that he had been raised from the dead soon after his execution.” This early belief in the resurrection is the historical origination of Christianity.[91]

As we have mentioned throughout, there are certainly disagreements about the nature of the experiences. But it is still crucial that the nearly unanimous consent[92] of critical scholars is that, in some sense, the early followers of Jesus thought that they had seen the risen Jesus.

This conclusion does not rest on the critical consensus itself, but on the reasons for the consensus, such as those pointed out above. A variety of paths converge here, including Paul's eyewitness comments regarding his own experience (1 Cor. 9:1; 15:8), the pre-Pauline appearance report in 1 Corinthians 15:3-7, probably dating from the 30s, Paul's second Jerusalem meeting with the major apostles to ascertain the nature of the Gospel (Gal. 2:1-10), and Paul's knowledge of the other apostles' teachings about Jesus' appearances (1 Cor. 15:9-15, especially 15:11). Further, the early Acts confessions, the conversion of James, the brother of Jesus, the transformed lives that centered on the resurrection, the later Gospel accounts, and, most scholars would agree, the empty tomb. This case is built entirely on critically-ascertained texts, and confirmed by many critical principles such as eyewitness testimony, early reports, multiple attestation, discontinuity, embarrassment, enemy declarations, and coherence.[93]

Please keep in mind that Dr. Ehrman is not a Christian. He is a skeptic.

Not only is it an historical certainty (insofar that we can be certain of anything, historically) that Jesus existed, it is also an historical fact that the earliest Christians really believed that they had encountered the risen Jesus, which makes the myth theory ridiculous on its face.

It doesn't matter how many apparent parallels there are, if the early Christians were reporting what they thought actualy happened.

There was a thread a while back talking about all the "eerie similarities" between Kennedy and Lincoln. Did anyone come away with the conclusion that Kennedy must have been a myth, based on the stories of Lincoln?

No? That's why the community of scholars has roundly rejected parallelism. No "wholesale cribbing" here. :)

Next, as to the issue Xamiel tried to raise regarding the texts being changed:

People who talk about the Bible being hopelessly corrupt, changed, or unreadable are as outside the mainstream of the scholarly field of textual criticism as radical Young Earth Creationists are outside of the mainstream of science. The texts we can look at today are substantially identical to the texts as they were written, and where there are questions, they are generally minor, with no essential doctrine effected. More here, as this thread is long enough.

Now, whether or not one accepts or rejects that doctrine and those teachings is another matter entirely, of course.

Finally, as to the issue of Constantine, that's another widely repeated falsehood. The Council of Nicea had nothing to do with the composition of the Canon at all. I just addressed this here.

And finally, to the issue of my standards of proof, none of my arguments rely upon eyewitness testimony as direct proof of an event, and certainly have nothing to do with my discussion of the inaccuracy of the "Jesus Myth" or "Bible is corrupt" arguments.

Did I miss anything?

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Yea, but I think it's been proven that even when Jesus is down for the count he has a way of coming back!!

According to this thread, so does Horus. And besides, his mom got pregnant with him after getting freaky with a dildo she fashioned in her spare time. He's got to have all sorts of other abilities you don't even want to play with.

And wouldn't the J man be disqualified if you had to wait three days for him to get back up off the mat?

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For people that don't want to wade through all that, the short version is this:

1) Most of the parallels aren't even real, and where they do exist, it's either Christian "marketing", or there's actually evidence that the pagans borrowed from Christianity. As a result of this, as well as the essential Judaism of Jesus and His followers, no serious scholar of any stripe (atheist to devout fundie) has taken the "parallelism" theory seriously since the 19th century.

2) The texts of the Bible we have today are substantially identical to those as originally written, with no essential doctrine effected by the minor issues.

3) Constantine had nothing to do with the composition of the Bible.

If you want more detail (or links/sources) look up. :)

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Perhaps you missed this section:

Now, though, I'd like to bump up a level, and talk about how and why scholars have rejected the notion that there is any pagan mythological "copycat" influence on the Christian story (hopefully, this will also put to rest whatever "parallels" I skipped).

The following is from T.N.D. Mettinger's book, The Riddle of Ressurection: "Dying and Rising Gods" in the Ancient Near East.

First, Mettinger's assessment of the current state of scholarship, from Chapter 1.2.1: Where Do We Stand? The Task of the Present Work (This quote is from page 40):

As a result of the many decades of research since de Vaux (1933), "it has become commonplace to assume that the category of Mediterranean 'dying and rising' gods has been exploded... (I)t is now held that the majority of the gods so denoted appear to have died but not returned; there is death but no rebirth or ressurection." These words of J.Z. Smith aptly summarise the present state of research. (56)

Mettinger spends a lot of time in this chapter discussing this: the current consensus of scholars is that there are no "dying and rising" gods that predate Christ, and that, in fact, many of the references came after Christ, and are in fact more likely either cases of pagans borrowing from Christians, and not the other way around, or, as in the case of the Church moving Jesus' birthday to Dec. 25, an attempt by early Christians to attract followers of various pagan beliefs.

Now, I want to be totally fair here: although Mettinger shows the current state of scholarship, he then goes on to say that he is one of the few that disagree, and the book is an attempt to make his case that there are in fact a few "dying and rising" gods that pre-date Christianity. He makes a fairly good argument, too, for the gods Melqart, Adonis, Osiris, and Dumuzi. Most scholars disagree with him, but it's a fair argument. Note please, that nowhere in this list is Mithras, by the way. ;)

Before the "Christ mythers" declare victory, though, along with the fact that he is in the extreme minority on this issue, there is also this quote from page 221, in the Epilogue (the bold emphasis is mine, the italics are his):

(1)The figures we have studied are deities. In the case of Jesus, we are confronted with a human (for whom divinity was claimed by himself and by his followers). For the disciples and for Paul, the resurrection of Jesus was a one-time, historical event that took place at one specific point in the earth's topography. The empty tomb was seen as a historical datum. (4)

(2) The dying and rising gods were closely related to the seasonal cycle. Their death and return were seen as reflected in the changes of plant life. The death and ressurection of Jesus is a one-time event, not repeated, and unrelated to seasonal changes.

(3) The death of Jesus is presented in the sources as vicarious suffering, as an act of atonement for sins. The myth of Dumuzi has an arrangement with bilocation and substitution, but there is no evidence for the death of the dying and rising gods as vicarious suffering for sins.

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.

So, to sum up:

1) The vast majority of scholars reject the idea of pre-Christian "dying and rising gods" at all.

2) Mettinger, who while in the minority, makes a pretty good case that there are a few, also firmly concludes that there is no evidence that the Jewish Jesus was a myth based on other stories. Jesus is unique.

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I have to agree with the Original poster, there are too many parallels between current religions and paganism for them to be original.

Back then (way back then), when people didn't understand something, they automatically feared it, and attributed it to some supernatural force or entity. Such as when one year you get plentiful rain and the next year its a dry season, people just looked at what changed and attributed it to that. Its all about weather patterns, currents, etc..., but the problem is their knowledge was very limited.

What worries me is that, even with todays technology and explanations, people still believe in books that are nothing more than fairy tales, believing that there is this all-mighty god sitting somewhere watching every move we make. Anything and everything can be quantified (or will be in the near future), yet people still hinge on some primordial knowledge written in a book hundreds of years ago. All the stories in the Bible, Koran, Bhagavid Gita etc... are just that, stories. They are used to teach children about morals and distinguish between whats right and whats wrong etc... But once you get to a certain age, how can you not distinguish between fairy tales and reality?

So what I'm getting at here is......God Doesn't exist.. you've all been duped.

**Cue Techboy and his excuse that the NT is historical fact and not some scriptures written down by second hand knowledge.**

:cheers:

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The bottom line is the same, a few synonyms being used wo't hurt the overall theme of Christianity.

Besides HOW much more accurate can you get than the Vaticanus ,Sinaiticus & Septuagint....

Those things are like 1600 years old.....

So now age is a proof of validity? Then in that case, wouldn't Hinduism reign supreme since the Vedas are like 5-10 thousand years old?

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Do any of you ever consider that Jesus did not rise from the dead ?

I've considered the possibility (and rejected it), but the issue is irrelevant to the topic of this thread. This is purely an historical question, and the scholars have spoken pretty clearly on the issue. The only place you'll find these theories being propogated is the internet.

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1) Most of the parallels aren't even real, and where they do exist, it's either Christian "marketing", or there's actually evidence that the pagans borrowed from Christianity.

And why would the Egyptians need to borrow anything from a religion that is thousands of years younger? Christians even use Egyptian Gods in their prayers.(Amen-Egyptian God of Creation)

Come on!!!!!!

:laugh: :laugh: :laugh: :laugh: :laugh:

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So now age is a proof of validity? Then in that case, wouldn't Hinduism reign supreme since the Vedas are like 5-10 thousand years old?

When looking at the certainty level in reconstructing the texts of the Bible, age is not as important as the sheer, vast number of different texts for scholars to compare between. For the New Testament, there are thousands of copies spread over a wide area, which is unparalled in terms of ancient writings.

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Do any of you ever consider that Jesus did not rise from the dead ?

we already had that thread and TB said this:

Thread: The effect of evangalizing by Christians here on your veiw of Christianity

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October-10th-2007, 08:18 PM #376

techboy

The Role Player

Join Date: Mar 2004

Location: Lorton, VA

Age: 34

Posts: 815 Re: The effect of evangalizing by Christians here on your veiw of Christianity

________________________________________

headexplode, I promised you earlier today that I would get back to you with what I see as the convincing historical arguments for the Resurrection of Jesus, and so here they are.

There's actually quite a lot of evidence for Jesus' Resurrection in a variety of forms, and countless books and articles have been written on the topic (and I will provide some links for further reading, if interested, at the end), but I find that probably the most convincing line of reasoning is what is known as the “minimal facts approach”, advocated primarily by the likes of Dr. Gary Habermas, Michael Licona, and Dr. William Lane Craig (in his debates). This approach attempts to use only facts agreed upon by a majority (in most cases, virtually all) of critical scholars.

Of course, scholarly consensus only allows us to know that we are on firm ground, and is not a replacement for actual evidence, so for each fact, I will also present a couple of the best arguments for it, and of course I will expound on any point if asked.

Fact #1Jesus died by crucifixion

As Dr. William Lane Craig notes in The Evidence for Jesus:

Quote:

According to the gospels Jesus was condemned by the Jewish high court on the charge of blasphemy and then delivered to the Romans for execution for the treasonous act of setting himself up as King of the Jews. Not only are these facts confirmed by independent biblical sources like Paul and the Acts of the Apostles, but they are also confirmed by extra-biblical sources. From Josephus and Tacitus, we learn that Jesus was crucified by Roman authority under the sentence of Pontius Pilate. From Josephus and Mara bar Serapion we learn that the Jewish leaders made a formal accusation against Jesus and participated in events leading up to his crucifixion. And from the Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin 43a, we learn that Jewish involvement in the trial was explained as a proper undertaking against a heretic. According to Johnson, "The support for the mode of his death, its agents, and perhaps its coagents, is overwhelming: Jesus faced a trial before his death, was condemned and executed by crucifixion."{11} The crucifixion of Jesus is recognized even by the Jesus Seminar as "one indisputable fact." {12}

I don't think I need to add anything to that.

Fact #2Jesus was honorably buried by Joseph of Arimathea

Historians assign more reliability to reports that have multiple attestation (more than one source reports something) and to reports that are early (close to the actual events). In the case of the burial of Jesus, we have upwards of 5 independent sources, dating perhaps as early as 7 years (or earlier) from the event.

As Dr. Craig notes in his 2006 debate with Dr. Bart Ehrman:

Quote:

We have four biographies of Jesus, by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, which have been collected into the New Testament, along with various letters of the apostle Paul. Now the burial account is part of Mark's source material for the story of Jesus' suffering and death. This is a very early source which is probably based on eyewitness testimony and which the commentator Rudolf Pesch dates to within seven years of the crucifixion. Moreover, Paul also cites an extremely early source for Jesus' burial which most scholars date to within five years of Jesus' crucifixion. Independent testimony to Jesus' burial by Joseph is also found in the sources behind Matthew and Luke and the Gospel of John, not to mention the extra-biblical Gospel of Peter. Thus, we have the remarkable number of at least five independent sources for Jesus' burial, some of which are extraordinarily early.

To expound a bit upon this, the Pauline report Dr. Craig is referring to is the kerygma (a formula used by the early church to state beliefs) in 1 Corinthians 15:3-8, which scholars have dated to within 18 months to 5 years of the Resurrection, because while Paul wrote this letter perhaps 20 years later, he very likely received this formula when he first met with Peter and the others, which happened at the much earlier date. To quote again from Dr. Craig, this time from Contemporary Scholarship and the Historical Evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus Christ:

Quote:

First, the resurrection appearances. Undoubtedly the major impetus for the reassessment of the appearance tradition was the demonstration by Joachim Jeremias that in 1 Corinthians 15: 3-5 Paul is quoting an old Christian formula which he received and in turn passed on to his converts According to Galatians 1:18 Paul was in Jerusalem three years after his conversion on a fact-finding mission, during which he conferred with Peter and James over a two week period, and he probably received the formula at this time, if not before. Since Paul was converted in AD 33, this means that the list of witnesses goes back to within the first five years after Jesus' death.

Likewise, though Mark itself was composed perhaps 20 to 30 years after the events, it draws from earlier sources, one of which is known as the Pre-Markan Passion Narrative. Some scholars have dated this narrative as being no later than 7 years from the Ressurection, for a variety of reasons. Just one simple one is that Mark does not mention the High Priest by name, but rather just calls him the “High Priest”, which indicates that the High Priest was still in power (if I say “the President”, you know I'm talking about Bush. If I want to refer to Clinton, I have to mention his name), and the High Priest left power 7 years after the crucifixion, which puts an upper limit on the age of the Passion Narrative.

Also, as noted in the debate, Joseph of Arimathea, as a Jewish member of the Sanhedrin, is highly unlikely to have been a Christian invention. Dr. Craig puts it thusly:

Quote:

There was an understandable hostility in the early church toward the Jewish leaders. In Christian eyes, they had engineered a judicial murder of Jesus. Thus, according to the late New Testament scholar Raymond Brown, Jesus' burial by Joseph is "very probable," since it is "almost inexplicable" why Christians would make up a story about a Jewish Sanhedrist who does what is right by Jesus. [1]

Further, there is no competing burial tradition.

To sum it up, as Dr. Craig notes in the Evidence article:

Quote:

According to the late John A. T. Robinson of Cambridge University, the honorable burial of Jesus is one of "the earliest and best-attested facts about Jesus."{15}

Fact #3Jesus' disciples believed that they had experiences with the risen Jesus

Some excerpts from Dr. Gary Habermas' article Resurrection Research from 1975 to the Present: What are Critical Scholars Saying :

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From considerations such as the research areas above, perhaps the single most crucial development in recent thought has emerged. With few exceptions, the fact that after Jesus’ death his followers had experiences that they thought were appearances of the risen Jesus is arguably one of the two or three most recognized events from the four Gospels, along with Jesus’ central proclamation of the Kingdom of God and his death by crucifixion. Few critical scholars reject the notion that, after Jesus’ death, the early Christians had real experiences of some sort.

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An overview of contemporary scholarship indicates that Fuller’s conclusions are well-supported. E.P. Sanders initiates his discussion in The Historical Figure of Jesus by outlining the broad parameters of recent research. Beginning with a list of the historical data that critics know, he includes a number of “equally secure facts” that “are almost beyond dispute.” One of these is that, after Jesus’ death, “his disciples . . . saw him.”[83] In an epilogue, Sanders reaffirms, “That Jesus’ followers (and later Paul) had resurrection experiences is, in my judgment, a fact. What the reality was that gave rise to the experiences I do not know.”[84]

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Bart Ehrman explains that, “Historians, of course, have no difficulty whatsoever speaking about the belief in Jesus’ resurrection, since this is a matter of public record. For it is a historical fact that some of Jesus’ followers came to believe that he had been raised from the dead soon after his execution.” This early belief in the resurrection is the historical origination of Christianity.[91]

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As we have mentioned throughout, there are certainly disagreements about the nature of the experiences. But it is still crucial that the nearly unanimous consent[92] of critical scholars is that, in some sense, the early followers of Jesus thought that they had seen the risen Jesus.

This conclusion does not rest on the critical consensus itself, but on the reasons for the consensus, such as those pointed out above. A variety of paths converge here, including Paul's eyewitness comments regarding his own experience (1 Cor. 9:1; 15:8), the pre-Pauline appearance report in 1 Corinthians 15:3-7, probably dating from the 30s, Paul's second Jerusalem meeting with the major apostles to ascertain the nature of the Gospel (Gal. 2:1-10), and Paul's knowledge of the other apostles' teachings about Jesus' appearances (1 Cor. 15:9-15, especially 15:11). Further, the early Acts confessions, the conversion of James, the brother of Jesus, the transformed lives that centered on the resurrection, the later Gospel accounts, and, most scholars would agree, the empty tomb. This case is built entirely on critically-ascertained texts, and confirmed by many critical principles such as eyewitness testimony, early reports, multiple attestation, discontinuity, embarrassment, enemy declarations, and coherence.[93]

Further, the disciples not only believed it, but they were willing to die for those beliefs, as recorded both in the records of the New Testament as well as extra-Biblical writings like Josephus and Polycarp.

Fact #4The conversion of James, the brother of Jesus

James was a skeptic who did not accept Jesus' ministry. Yet, after Jesus' crucifixion, James went from skeptic to vocal leader in the early church who believed so strongly that he was martyred for his faith, as recorded by Jospehus and others.

This point is agreed upon by virtually every critical scholar for a variety of reasons, but one of the most important is called the Criterion of Embarrasment. This criteria, used by historians, basically argues that a report which is embarrassing to its authors is far less likely to be made up (because why would they?). It was embarrassing to the early church and to James that he rejected Jesus, and if they were making up the story, they probably wouldn't have put that in.

Fact #5The conversion of Paul, an enemy of Christianity

We know more about Paul than perhaps any other Biblical figure because of his prolific letters, which comprise a treasure trove of historical data. From these letters, as well as other sources, we learn that Paul was a Jewish official who brutally oppressed the early Christians, sometimes putting them to death, until one day he experienced what he saw as the risen Christ, and became a fervent Christian, enduring repeated beatings, torture, and martyrdom.

An important thing to note about Paul is that although he was not around for the actual events, he did interview and fact-check with the disciples, so he would have been able to judge the validity of the claims of the early Christians. This also makes his letters the excellent source of information that they are.

Fact #6The empty tomb

To be totally honest, unlike most of the other points I have presented, this one does not enjoy nearly unanimous support by the community of scholars. However, as noted in the Habermas article, roughly 75% of critical scholars accept one or more arguments for the empty tomb:

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Of these scholars, approximately 75% favor one or more of these arguments for the empty tomb, while approximately 25% think that one or more arguments oppose it. Thus, while far from being unanimously held by critical scholars, it may surprise some that those who embrace the empty tomb as a historical fact still comprise a fairly strong majority.

So, we're still on pretty solidly accepted ground, here. There are several points that support the historicity of the empty tomb (Dr. Craig lays out eight here, for instance), but I'll just mention the three I find most convincing.

1)The Disciples and early Christians preached the risen Jesus in Jerusalem, the very place He was buried. The Roman authorities and Jewish leaders found this rather inconvenient, and could they have produced the body, they would have, ending the whole thing right there before it could even begin.

2)As with the story of the burial of Jesus, we have very early and multiple independently attested sources indicating that the tomb was empty.

3) Perhaps the most persuasive argument is the fact that the Gospels report that it was women who found the tomb empty. Again, we can apply the Criterion of Embarrassment.

The story of the women finding the empty tomb is highly embarrassing and difficult for the early Christians for two reasons.

First, it shows the Disciples in a rather bad light. Even though mere women (keep in mind that this is first century Palestine we're talking about) remained loyal and had gone to the Tomb to annoint Jesus' body, the Disciples at the time were huddled in a room, in hiding, having lost their faith, and basically being totally pathetic and faithless.

Second, under Jewish Law, women weren't even allowed to be witnesses in court. Highly embarrassing, as the primary witnesses to the event were totally worthless by the prevailing cultural standards.

In any case, though it does not enjoy quite the same support among critical scholars, the strength of the evidence makes me comfortable asserting the historicity of the empty tomb. As Dr. Craig notes in the article I linked above:

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Taken together these eight considerations furnish powerful evidence that the tomb of Jesus was actually found empty on Sunday morning by a small group of his women followers. As a plain historical fact this seems to be amply attested. As Van Daalen has remarked, it is extremely difficult to object to the fact of the empty tomb on historical grounds; most objectors do so on the basis of theological or philosophical considerations.{87} But these, of course, cannot change historical fact. And, interestingly, more and more New Testament scholars seem to be realizing this fact; for today, many, if not most, exegetes would defend the historicity of the empty tomb of Jesus, and their number continues to increase.{88}

Inference to the best explanation: the argument

Having listed these six facts, what are we to do with them? (Here of course, I diverge from the majority of critical scholars, though in logic, not in evidence. )

In order to determine what most probably happened, historians use a technique known as “Inference to the Best Explanation”. This technique says that the theory which best fits all the facts, without being ad-hoc, is the most likely to be true.

It is my contention that the only non-adhoc explanation which fits all the facts is that, as the disciples claimed, Jesus did in fact rise from the dead. While I would agree that naturalistic explanations should be given priority in historical investigation, no non-adhoc naturalistic explantion fits all the facts.

For example, the idea that the early Christians experienced guilt-induced visions for failing their leader fits the fact that they had some sort of experience with the risen Jesus, but cannot explain the empty tomb, or the conversion of Paul and James, who had no reason to feel guilty.

Another idea might be that the disciples were lying (and perhaps stole the body). This would cover the empty tomb, but does not account for the fact that the disciples really believed they had experienced the risen Jesus. Liars make poor martyrs.

All of this leads me to conclude that the best explanation for all the facts is that Jesus rose from the dead.

Further Reading

That's just one approach. For more, I recommend the following articles. Dr. Craig is my favorite author on the subject, and they are more scholarly. I also list some more popular level stuff.

Contemporary Scholarship and the Historical Evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus Christ by Dr. William Lane Craig (probably the best)

The Evidence for Jesus, also by Dr. Craig

The Resurrection: Fact or Fiction? by Pat Zukeran

Cruci-fiction and Resuscitation: The Greatest Hoax in the History of Humanity? by Russ Wise

Evidence for the Ressurection by Josh McDowell

Easter: Myth, Hallucination, or History? by Edwin M. Yamauchi

Beyond Blind Faith by Paul E. Little

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And why would the Egyptians need to borrow anything from a religion that is thousands of years younger? Christians even use Egyptian Gods in their prayers.(Amen-Egyptian God of Creation)

Come on!!!!!!

:laugh: :laugh: :laugh: :laugh: :laugh:

That portion was not a reference to Egyptian myths, per se, but more regarding cults of deities like Mithras, where we don't have anything definitive about them until the 2nd century or even later, and it does indeed appear that there was some borrowing from Christianity.

If you don't believe me, go get Mettinger's book. It's in GMU's library, at least, because that's where I found it.

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So now age is a proof of validity? Then in that case, wouldn't Hinduism reign supreme since the Vedas are like 5-10 thousand years old?

Why do people intentionally twist the topic to meet their agenda?

We aren't talking about that in the least, I am simply saying that the oldest 3 texts are most likely perfectly in line with the originals because of the logic behind their creation at the time.

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And why would the Egyptians need to borrow anything from a religion that is thousands of years younger? Christians even use Egyptian Gods in their prayers.(Amen-Egyptian God of Creation)

By the way,there's also this from Fabricating Jesus: How Modern Scholars Distort the Gospels, by Dr. Craig A. Evans, which I think sheds some more light on the idea of Egyptian myths influencing Christianity. It's from Chapter 10: Hokum History and Bogus Findings, pg. 220-221.

Not long ago Tom Harpur's The Pagan Christ created a sensation by presenting in new form the odd notion that Jesus did not exist. (11) I say odd because almost no serious academic- of any ideological, religious, or nonreligious stripe- doubts that Jesus of Nazareth actually lived some time in the first century and was crucified by order of Pontius Pilate, governor of Judea. The evidence for the existence of Jesus- literary, archeological and circumstantial- is overwhelming.

According to Harpur,

"There is nothing the Jesus of the Gospels either said or did- from the

Sermon on the Mount to the miracles, from his flight as an infant from

Herod to the Ressurection itself- that cannot be shown to have

originated thousands of years before, in Egyptian Mystery rites and other

sacred liturgies such as the Egyptian Book of the Dead. (12)"

In short, the Gospel writers have transformed an important Egyptian theme of spirituality into a Jewish allegory of a man who never existed. In this way the fictive Jesus passes on an ancient religious legacy, a legacy that might be called the "Pagan Christ". It is hard to imagine how the evidence of history could be more forced and distorted than what we have in The Pagan Christ.

Harpur at one time believed that Jesus was a historical person. In fact, as seen in his earlier writings, Harpur believed that Jesus truly healed people and was raised from the dead. He now denies all of this in The Pagan Christ. What brought on the change? Judging by the comments that he makes at the beginning of his book, his change in thinking had little to do with critical, historical work (though the work of "minimalists", that is, those who minimize the historical elements in the Bible, exerted some influence). It had more to do with adopting the theosophic views of Gerald Massey (1828-1907) and Alvin Boyd Kuhn (1880-1963). The work of these men, especially their reconstructions of ancient history and attempts to draw lines of continuity between Egyptian religion and Christianity, is deeply flawed. No qualified historian takes the theories of these men seriously. Anyone charmed by Harpur's Pagan Christ should beware. We are talking old, odd stuff here. Personal philosophy and introspection it may be; history in any responsible, recognized sense it is not. (13)

Please note, again, that no serious scholar takes these theories seriously, and for a variety of good reasons, many of which I have touched on here.

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Why do people intentionally twist the topic to meet their agenda?

We aren't talking about that in the least, I am simply saying that the oldest 3 texts are most likely perfectly in line with the originals because of the logic behind their creation at the time.

I didn't twist anything, you just weren't clear in your assertion. Not my problem.

In any case, that isn't a given because even if they are the oldest, they are still not the originals, they can differ greatly. Even if they are only 10 years older than the originals they can still differ from the originals because of word of mouth. For example, If i tell you a story today, is it a given that you can repeat it verbatim one week from now, much less 1 year?

If you don't have the originals, you have no case.

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I didn't twist anything, you just weren't clear in your assertion. Not my problem.

In any case, that isn't a given because even if they are the oldest, they are still not the originals, they can differ greatly. Even if they are only 10 years older than the originals they can still differ from the originals because of word of mouth. For example, If i tell you a story today, is it a given that you can repeat it verbatim one week from now, much less 1 year?

If you don't have the originals, you have no case.

On the other hand, when one has thousands of copies, spread out over a wide variety of areas, it becomes possible to compare between them, working backwards, determining where such changes have been made, and correcting for them. This is what textual critics do. I go into more detail here, but the upshot of it is, again, that the texts we look at today are substantially identical to the originals.

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How many times does this stuff have to be refuted. Constantine DID NOT write the bible. He called the Council of Bishops together and they formally affirmed what was already accepted and common knowledge about the Scriptures.

See above about Saturnalia.

Re-read my post, I said he had it compiled.

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Given a choice between your opinion and that of the scholars who practice textual criticism, I think I'll go with the experts. Sorry. :)

then show me an orginal, without an orginal there is no way to compare, only offer up a guess

Tell me, what happens to people who do do believe in Jesus, according to scripture

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Re-read my post, I said he had it compiled.

No, he didn't. The Council of Nicea (and Constantine) had nothing to do with the composition or compilation of the Canon. There was an informal consensus building long before Constantine as to which texts were Scripture, and the formal Canon was not adopted until well after Constantine's death. There are stories that he ordered 50 Bibles made, but none survive, and no one knows what was in them, if it ever happened at all.

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