Historicity of Jesus as a probability spectrum

The Historicity of Jesus as a probability spectrum (See comments in OP)

  • (1) p(HJ) = 100% (Most certainly historical)

    Votes: 46 39.0%
  • (2) p(HJ) = 90%

    Votes: 12 10.2%
  • (3) p(HJ) = 70%

    Votes: 11 9.3%
  • (4) p(HJ) = 60%

    Votes: 12 10.2%
  • (5) p(HJ) = 42%

    Votes: 13 11.0%
  • (6) p(HJ) = 30%

    Votes: 6 5.1%
  • (7) p(HJ) = 10%

    Votes: 6 5.1%
  • (8) p(HJ) = 0% (Pious Forgery)

    Votes: 12 10.2%

  • Total voters
    118
May 2011
2,845
Rural Australia
#1
A Spectrum of Historical Possibilities ...


(1) p(HJ) = 100% ... The Gospels are inerrant and absolutely historically true. Jesus is the Son of God who was predicted by the Hebrew scriptures, who came to earth in human form, was born of a virgin, preached, and was crucified by Pilate, then rose from the dead and now sits on the right hand of God. The Gospels are historical eyewitness accounts or based on solid eyewitness accounts.

(2) p(HJ) = 90% ... The Gospels are generally true but somewhat exaggerated accounts of a real Jesus who had a following of people who thought he was the Son of God. He wasn't born of a virgin and didn't walk on water or perform miracles or rise from the dead, but the Gospels reflect his true teachings and the basic events of his life, and he was crucified by Pilate. The Gospels come from eye witness accounts mixed with a little legend.

(3) p(HJ) = 70% ... The Gospels are generally true but somewhat exaggerated accounts of a real Jesus who was influential in the region. He may or may not have really been crucified by Pilate. He was later mythologized and elevated in status. The Gospels come from eye witness accounts mixed with legend.

(4) p(HJ) = 60% ... The Gospels are mostly fabricated stories inspired by a real Jesus. The Gospels come almost entirely from legends and scriptures, but are still loosely based on the actions of a real Jesus whom we don't know very much about.




<<< p(HJ) = 50% ... Historical Jesus Agnostic Boundary Marker>>> HJ hypotheses above, MJ hypotheses below




(5) p(HJ) = 42% ... The Gospels are mostly fabricated stories inspired by a real person or persons from a spectrum of time, perhaps from events as far back as 200 years before the supposed life of Jesus. Over time stories were put together that cobbled various political events and persons into a single "Jesus Christ" figure. The events and teachings in the Gospels are mythologized, but based on real-life events that took place over time and were done by a person or various people. The Gospels come almost entirely from legends and scriptures, but are still based on the actions of some real people, without which the story of Jesus would never have come into existence.

(6) p(HJ) = 30% ... The Gospels are completely fabricated stories based on scripture, legends, and the mystical beliefs of existing Jewish cults. There is no human figure at the center of the Gospel stories at all. The Gospels were generally written in the same manner that most scholars claim, during the late 1st century to early 2nd century, but there is no person at the core of them, whether all of the writers themselves knew it or not.

(7) p(HJ) = 10% ... The Gospels are completely fabricated stories based on pagan myths about figures such as Dionysus and Mithras. The Gospels were written by directly mixing Jewish and non-Jewish religions and beliefs into stories that borrow from both traditions. The meaning of the Gospels has been largely lost and generally has little to do with Judaism.


(8) p(HJ) = 0% ... Pious Forgery - The Gospels are completely fabricated stories that were intentionally crafted to deceive people, and there is no historical person at their core. The Gospels were really written anywhere from the 2nd century to the 4th century and much of early Christian history has been fabricated. The writers of the Gospels knew that there was no Jesus and the whole crafting of the religion was part of a political tool by Roman Emperors or others of a similar kind.



Adapted from
http://www.rationalrevolution.net/articles/jesus_myth_followup.htm




Optional Additional questions ...


(1) To which of these probabilities do you subscribe and why?


(2) What is the ancient historical evidence upon which your selection is reliant?






If any of this is unclear feel free to seek clarification. I am interested in seeing the range of opinions and in the evaluation of the evidence cited in support of one assessment or another. Thanks for your participation.
 
Last edited:

Bart Dale

Ad Honorem
Dec 2009
7,095
#3
Almost certainly historical person, for several factors

1. Jesus was a common name in the first century CE, but not in later centuries.

2. Multiple sources attest to his existent. Paul, Mark, John, Tacitus, Josephus.

3. Couple non Christian sources (Josephus, Tacitus) attest to Jesus within less than 100 years of his death. Tacitus, Josephus,

4. Consistent with what we know from other historical sources - Pilate was governor of Judea, Herod was ruler of Galileo. Crucified victims were nailed to crosses, and they were taken down fro the crosses. Beliefs of the Pharisees and Sadducees in the Gospel tally with what we know of these groups from other sources

5. The oldest sources we have of him don't have him agreeing with what later Christians believed (Criteria of discontinuity). Jesus said he came to fullfil the Law, while later Christians wholesale rejected it. Being crucified created problems for later Christian apologist, required major spin doctoring to explain away, same for baptism by John the Baptist.

6. Language and ideas of Jesus are similar to language of contemporary sources (Dead Sea Scroll) - Isaiah is a favorite book of Jesus, same for Dead Sea Scroll, for example.

7. Jesus is portrayed as having interactions with known real people - Pilate, Herod, Caiaphas.

8. Lack of reason to invent such as character. Why would Gentiles make a poor Jewish carpenter executed by Roman officials as their religious leader? An invented person would be the son of a prince, like Buddha.

9. Conservative nature of Jesus recordings. Early Christians did not add details to Jesus life in their official accounts - despite complete lack of information on his childhood, Christian community rejected later, clearly inauthentic later gospels to that tried to fill in the details fill in the details. Canonical gospels were recent as ancient biographies go - most recent one, John, still less than 100 years after his death, and earliest only 40 years. Compared to Buddha's 400 year gap between his earliest biography and his life, and the 100 year plus gap between Muhammad and his earliest biography, that is pretty good.
 
Last edited:

Maribat

Ad Honorem
Mar 2012
4,990
#5
3. Couple non Christian sources (Josephus, Tacitus) attest to Jesus within less than 100 years of his death. Tacitus, Josephus,
Please, they only attest to the rumors of the existence of Jesus or belief of people in his existence, that's all. They don't attest to Jesus.
 

Maribat

Ad Honorem
Mar 2012
4,990
#6
9. Conservative nature of Jesus recordings. Early Christians did not add details to Jesus life in their official accounts - despite complete lack of information on his childhood, Christian community rejected later, clearly inauthentic later gospels to that tried to fill in the details fill in the details. Canonical gospels were recent as ancient biographies go - most recent one, John, still less than 100 years after his death, and earliest only 40 years. Compared to Buddha's 400 year gap between his earliest biography and his life, and the 100 year plus gap between Muhammad and his earliest biography, that is pretty good.
Nevertheless they accepted an episode of the wise 12 years old Jesus teaching the grownups in the jewish church.
 
Nov 2010
6,217
Indiana
#7
Jesus is not a historical figure. That doesn't mean he wasn't a real person only that he isn't mentioned in history. What about the Bible? If you are a Christian you believe if not the Bible is just a bunch of stories.
 
Apr 2016
53
Brighton
#8
A fascinating thread indeed. There are quite simply different meanings to what the essence of history is. The way I understand Christianity is that there is a God who created the universe, and has a presence in the course of human history. If someone has faith in this divine principle then they will find the figure of Jesus a source of inspiration, and I am not sure they would base their faith on whether the existence of Jesus can be confirmed by historians who may not be part of their religion .

I am an atheist who think that there could well have been a religious teacher called Jesus and accounts of his teachings may have merged with the notion of a 'dying god' who rises again.


Jesus is not a historical figure. That doesn't mean he wasn't a real person only that he isn't mentioned in history. What about the Bible? If you are a Christian you believe if not the Bible is just a bunch of stories.
 

AlpinLuke

Ad Honoris
Oct 2011
25,518
Italy, Lago Maggiore
#9
The Jesus in the Gospel is not "historical" ... he's symbolic. Now I won't reach the point to introduce the esoteric symbolism, anyway in a life of about 33 years it's quite odd to select some episodes and events just to full a little number of papers [the Gospel-s is/are not a giant work!]. It's evident that there is a symbolic meaning to grasp [unfortunately a large part of the readers doesn't grasp it].

So, before I answer to the poll, I need to understand ... which Jesus are we talking about?
 
Dec 2011
4,534
Iowa USA
#10
The Jesus in the Gospel is not "historical" ... he's symbolic. Now I won't reach the point to introduce the esoteric symbolism, anyway in a life of about 33 years it's quite odd to select some episodes and events just to full a little number of papers [the Gospel-s is/are not a giant work!]. It's evident that there is a symbolic meaning to grasp [unfortunately a large part of the readers doesn't grasp it].

So, before I answer to the poll, I need to understand ... which Jesus are we talking about?


Great question, the way I interpreted the OP the question was to apply methods of a historian to the problem of the 'historiosity' (not a word, I think) of the protagonist of the Gospels.

The truth or the value of the symbolic message ('metaphysical' is perhaps more precise English word?) is not meant to be considered in reply, per my reading of the OP.
 

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