How reliable are these stuffs about Jesus?

Oct 2018
1,209
Adelaide south Australia
#41
@Tammuz.

Interesting stuff, pretty sure much the same thing has been said before. This kind of fairly objective, erudite writing reinforces my opinion that [generally speaking] the terms 'christian historian' and 'christian archaeologist' are oxymorons.

I hope the following isn't too far off topic. I know it's about the old testament, but use it because many fundamentalist Christians place enormous importance
on the old testament, especially Genesis, Exodus and Leviticus, from which they cherry pick commandments they like, such as the admonition against homosexuality. They pretty much ignore the rest of of the 613* commandments found in the Torah----and we're back to Paul who invented Christianity as we know it.

It is my understanding that it was Paul who allowed gentiles to join the early church, and who removed the ritual commandments of Judaism, most especially circumcision and dietary law. He did this against the reported statement of Jesus (Matthew 5:17) that he had not come to change the law. This claim is very inconvenient for Christians. So, as is their wont, they changed the meaning, and that made everything just dandy. To be fair, I think one needs to look at Catholicism for the most blatant and egregious willful misinterpretations of scripture** (but then, they've had the most practice)

Been re reading information about the Tel Dan stele, found in 1992-3 in northern Israel. really worth a look if you're not familiar. Perhaps a bit too far off topic to discuss in this thread.


* the law of Moses contains 613 commandments ,or 'mitzvah', all are found in the Torah, which is the first five books of the old testament.. They are known collectively as 'the mitzvot'

Judaism 101: A List of the 613 Mitzvot (Commandments)


** I was raised very devout Catholic, and attended a Catholic boys school from age 11 to 17. A reasonably bright lad, I began questioning Catholic theology at age 16. When I asked a difficult question, as say about the trinity, the good brother would reply '"it's a mystery of faith, we just have to believe it". I was referred to the writings of Saint Thomas Aquinas, who just made matters worse. I parted company with the church at age 20, but it took me 20 years to become an agnostic atheist. It was during that 20 years I learned not to even try to have a rational discussion with a committed Christian. Such people tend to be so certain in their faith that they are undeterred by anything as prosaic as reason or facts


From The Devil's Dictionary: " Theology: The effort to explain the unknowable in terms of the not worth knowing"
 
Aug 2014
4,679
Australia
#42
** I was raised very devout Catholic, and attended a Catholic boys school from age 11 to 17. A reasonably bright lad, I began questioning Catholic theology at age 16. When I asked a difficult question, as say about the trinity, the good brother would reply '"it's a mystery of faith, we just have to believe it". I was referred to the writings of Saint Thomas Aquinas, who just made matters worse. I parted company with the church at age 20, but it took me 20 years to become an agnostic atheist. It was during that 20 years I learned not to even try to have a rational discussion with a committed Christian. Such people tend to be so certain in their faith that they are undeterred by anything as prosaic as reason or facts.
This reflects my background very closely except that my break with Catholicism was accelerated by my mother's death when I was in my mid-teens. After that I no longer had her medieval superstitions reinforcing my views on religion. My father never pushed the issue - he never mentioned religion at all except to say, "this is what your mother wants" whenever I asked him about it. I later found out that he was a closet atheist but he never interfered with how my mother raised us. Today I'm not agnostic; I'm an atheist. It has taken many years to unravel all of the brainwashing that religious orthodoxy does to children and realise that atheism is the only rational position.
 
Last edited:
Nov 2016
969
Germany
#44
Chapter 2 of "The Fabricated Paul" deals with the issue of the opponents of ´Paul´ and with the question to which century, the 1st or the 2nd, these should be attributed.

(...)

The Opponents of Paul

Most of the perplexities in which research has often become entangled have to do with the fact that one endeavors to clarify the question concerning opponents in the framework and against the historical background of the first century and not the second, as would be presumed, after all, from the close relation-ship in content between Galatians and Acts. When one recognizes that the letters were written in the second century, it is imme-diately understandable that the opposing front that the author of the Pauline letters addresses is not at all one limited in each case by particular local circumstances, but is already universal. He addresses the entire (Marcionite) Church from Rome to Edessa, and has in view Judaizing and Catholic opponents outside as well as spiritual-libertine Christians in his own ranks.

That the writer has Catholic opponents in view is clearly indicated by the letter to the Galatians, which we have already mentioned so often. The writer basically does not battle here at all against the rejection of the apostle by Christian churches, un-known to us, in distant Galatia, but against their audacious takeover by Catholic Christians. This is shown, for example, by Gal 5:11, a passage totally bewildering for every reader, where Paul contests the claim that he still preaches circumcision:

5:11 But if I, brethren, still preach circumcision, why am I still perse-cuted? The stumbling block of the cross would [then] be removed.

This is amazing! The opponents of Paul could certainly have made a host of charges against him, but there is one [149] that they in fact certainly could not make, namely, the charge that he pursues the same goal as they do, that he preaches circumcision like they do! 125

The misunderstanding that Paul fights against cannot have existed either for Paul’s opponents or for those who heard Paul’s gospel preached in Galatia, and is just as fully incomprehensible as this correction. In may be then, one sees, that at this point the writer of the letter turns his pen against the appropriation of the apostle, as this takes place in Acts, against his being brought back home into the lap of the Catholic church. Paul also—so it was said in the group that the writer of the letter confronts (and which is articulated then in the Acts of Luke)—is one of ours and had had an attitude towards the law just as broadminded as ours, whereby as proof of this supposed practice of circumcision reference could be made to Acts 16:3 (the circumcision of Timothy). It is clear that the writer of Galatians can not idly watch while someone made the sovereign apostle of Marcion dependent on Jerusalem, a representative of the despised Jewish-Christian reverence for the law, or both-and Theology, for which in Rome one appealed to Peter. For him it was necessary to free the apostle from the frightful embrace of Jewish-Christian Catholicism and to reject the attempt to appropriate him in the sharpest way possi-ble, so as to retain him for the Marcionite church as the sovereign protagonist of the law-free gospel, who was called to be an apostle not by men nor through a man—and certainly not at all by the twelve super-apostles appealed to in Rome.

Furthermore, how could the Marcionite author of our letter have better resisted, how could he have better pulled the ground from beneath the feet of his opponents than by allowing the apostle to be resurrected once more from the past and transferred from the dead to among the living, so that he might be allowed to speak to his church in a very personal way with his very own voice and with all stringency to pronounce his decisive No! to every Catholic tendency towards appropriation? [150]

That the writer of the Pauline letters opposed not only the Jewish-nomistic oriented Christianity of the second century and their motto, “We know however that the law is good” (1 Tim 1:8), but also the total rejection of the apostle on the Jewish-Christian side, is shown above all by 2 Corinthians, where the memory of the apostle is defended against posthumous defamation by Juda-izers and where the writer explicitly makes known his intention to provide the church with arguments for those who slander him.

5:12 We are not commending ourselves to you again, but giving you an opportunity to boast on our behalf, so that you have some-126

thing against those who boast in outward appearance and not [the condition] of their heart.
But in Galatians as well the writer seems to have in his ears personal accusations raised up against the apostle, as when he asks—obviously alluding to a designation used by the oppo-nents—whether he has become their enemy by holding up the truth to the Galatian churches.


(...)

Marcion as Author of the Letters?

Can it be concluded from all this that Marcion himself wrote the Pauline letters? On closer consideration, one will have to say, having once granted the presupposition that the Pauline letters are of later origin and that all clues indicate an origin in Marcionite circles, that the assumption that Marcion himself could be their author, or redactor, not only can not be excluded, but even has the greatest likelihood.

It cannot be denied that Galatians as well as 1 and 2 Corin-thians and Philippians display a characteristic profile. The per-sonal character of these letters, for which reason they have been regarded as authentic until today, in fact indicates an author, or collector and reviser, of distinct individuality. At that time, how-ever, there were few such persons in Marcion’s close circle. Since we know nothing about Cerdo, apart from Apelles, Marcion’s student, who was perhaps responsible for the writings regarded as “deutero-Pauline,”146 only Marcion remains after all. In my opinion, it is very conceivable that Marcion attempted to resolve the problems in his churches [153] (that the recipients of the letters were in fact Marcionites—one thinks, for example, of the practice of baptizing the dead, found only by Marcionites, which the writer of 1 Corinthians refers to—can not be further demon-strated here) on the basis of documents that drew their authority from Paul, the legendary patron of the church, and that the battle reflected in the Pauline letters and which gives them their supposedly unmistakable and uncontrived character is nothing more that the reflection of those controversies that Marcion fought out in and with his churches.

(...)
 
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Bart Dale

Ad Honorem
Dec 2009
7,095
#46
@Tammuz.

Interesting stuff, pretty sure much the same thing has been said before. This kind of fairly objective, erudite writing reinforces my opinion that [generally speaking] the terms 'christian historian' and 'christian archaeologist' are oxymorons.
The writings of radical scholars such as you refer to are no more objective than those of the Christian scholars you decry. You devoted a signficsnt amount of time recounting the works of the Dutch and other "radical scholars" , whose works are full of claims and speculations unsupported by any actual facts.

For example, there is no evidence of Gnostics versions of Paul's letters they assert were the original ever existed. We have found a number of other examples of Gnostic writing, but none of these.

Nor is there any evidence that the mainstream Christians felt any need or desire to adopt heretical forgeries such as Paul's letters to lure Marcion followers back into the fold. This runs counter to the known practice and response when dealing with heresy. These "radical" scholars as you call them are almost as bad as fundamentalist.


I hope the following isn't too far off topic. I know it's about the old testament, but use it because many fundamentalist Christians place enormous importance
on the old testament, especially Genesis, Exodus and Leviticus, from which they cherry pick commandments they like, such as the admonition against homosexuality. They pretty much ignore the rest of of the 613* commandments found in the Torah----and we're back to Paul who invented Christianity as we know it.
Yes, it is rather off topic. And although it is commonly claimed that Paul invented Christianity as we know it, that view isn't actually supported by the evidence we have.

Paul himself says that Peter was willing to eat and associate with Gentiles, and Acts has Peter, not Paul, as the first to preach to Gentiles. Paul himself says the message he was preaching was merely what had been passed on to him, not something he invented. And many of the practices of the Catholic Church are at odds with Paul's preaching. While Paul may have been one of the more outspoken proponents of a given view, he might not have been the only one or even the first to say Christians need not become Jews and follow all the Jewish laws.

Finally, if there is no 1st century references to Paul and his letters as sources you reference claim, by tose claims Paul may have been merely a name assigned to what had been an organic process of transforming a Jewish cult to its own religion. One can't insist Paul was the inventor of Christianity as we know it if all the references to him and his writings were as late as claimed.

What is true to say that Paul was the creator of modern Protestant Christianity, since modern Protestant Christianity was heavily influenced by his writings Because Paul was one the few very early Christian leaders who was highly literate, we may give him far more credit than he deserves. In a mostly illiterate society, Paul's wrutings would not have has as much impact as on our highly literate society.

It is my understanding that it was Paul who allowed gentiles to join the early church, and who removed the ritual commandments of Judaism, most especially circumcision and dietary law. He did this against the reported statement of Jesus (Matthew 5:17) that he had not come to change the law. This claim is very inconvenient for Christians. So, as is their wont, they changed the meaning, and that made everything just dandy. To be fair, I think one needs to look at Catholicism for the most blatant and egregious willful misinterpretations of scripture** (but then, they've had the most practice)
Whose to say that you aren't the one misinterpreting the scriptures? It is seems conceited to insist as you do that your interpretation is correct and their must be wrong.

And if the Gospels are such late forgeries as you believe, why would they put such passages in Matthew when at the time Christians had ceased following the Jewish Law? That makes no sense. It only makes sense if the words of Matthew came from a time when Christians were still all Jewish, supporting the reliability if Matthew and the Gospels.

PS - Such statements of in Matthew are not necessarily at odds with what Paul said as most people think. Paul never said that Jews should stop observing the Law and perform Jewish rituals, such as circumcism. Paul said that Gentiles need not and should not perform such rituals, but Paul never specifically said to Jewish Christians they should stop being Jews. In Matthew, Jesus was speaking to just a Jewish audience, and so naturally as Jews they would still be expected to observe the law.


** I was raised very devout Catholic, and attended a Catholic boys school from age 11 to 17. A reasonably bright lad, I began questioning Catholic theology at age 16. When I asked a difficult question, as say about the trinity, the good brother would reply '"it's a mystery of faith, we just have to believe it". I was referred to the writings of Saint Thomas Aquinas, who just made matters worse. I parted company with the church at age 20, but it took me 20 years to become an agnostic atheist. It was during that 20 years I learned not to even try to have a rational discussion with a committed Christian. Such people tend to be so certain in their faith that they are undeterred by anything as prosaic as reason or facts


From The Devil's Dictionary: " Theology: The effort to explain the unknowable in terms of the not worth knowing"
A lot of people used to believe in Santa Claus when they were young, too. But they don't seem to have the hostlity toward their former beliefs as you do. A lot of Historical Jesus deniers and those who propose more radical scholarship ok ften had strong religious convictions at one time, and it seems they often go to the other extreme. One can be an athiest or agnostic and still accept the existence of a historical Jesus, and that much of the Gospels are based on actual history. Not all of the Gospels, some elements are clearly invented such as the birth narratives. But the general gist of a wandering 1st century Jewish preacher wuoting scripture and talking about God, and what he wants is entirely plausible. Indeed I would say the application of Occam's razor would make it far more likely that there really was a first century Jewish teacher named Jesus than a bunch of Greek speaking Gentiles would for no logical reason would decide to invent the person of an Aramaic speaking poor Jew from a remote backwater of the empire.
 
Aug 2014
4,679
Australia
#47
I'm not a Jesus denier. There is enough evidence to be pretty sure that he existed and attempted to teach us a better way of living. That doesn't mean that he was the son of a magical invisible omnipotent omnipresent skyfairy. He was an inspired teacher, nothing more, but we could do much worse than attempt to live the way he taught. Maybe we could be decent to one another because it is the right thing to do rather than having to be bribed with a reward in some kind of imaginary afterlife.
 
Likes: bboomer
Oct 2018
1,209
Adelaide south Australia
#48
I'm not a Jesus denier. There is enough evidence to be pretty sure that he existed and attempted to teach us a better way of living. That doesn't mean that he was the son of a magical invisible omnipotent omnipresent skyfairy. He was an inspired teacher, nothing more, but we could do much worse than attempt to live the way he taught. Maybe we could be decent to one another because it is the right thing to do rather than having to be bribed with a reward in some kind of imaginary afterlife.
Indeed.

If only we knew what he actually taught. As far as I'm aware, there are only two parts of the Gospels about what Jesus taught that may be authentic; IE The Lords prayer, and the Sermon On The Mount, both of which are apparently acceptable jewish prayers, then and now.


Then there are the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Nag Hamadi texts, especially the Gospel Of Thomas. All conveniently declared apocryphal/ non canonical, by virtually all Christian churches.

The moral philosophy of Jesus is consistent with Judaic teachings as one would expect from a Jewish rabbi . Christians either overlook or deny the simple fact that the faith which became Christianity was a small, Jewish sect until Paul of Tarsus stuck his oar in. By 'Jewish sect' I mean that a person HAD TO BE JEWISH to belong.

It is my observation that the great world religions all teach a similar moral code; Be compassionate, don't lie, cheat or steal, do not commit murder. There are some pretty wild variations within that code, across many religions. Things get really out of hand once cosmology and theology enter the scene.
 

Bart Dale

Ad Honorem
Dec 2009
7,095
#49
Indeed.

If only we knew what he actually taught. As far as I'm aware, there are only two parts of the Gospels about what Jesus taught that may be authentic; IE The Lords prayer, and the Sermon On The Mount, both of which are apparently acceptable jewish prayers, then and now.
And many of the parables are probably authentic as well, and his preaching of a coming resurrection of the dead, and a day of judgement, which are consistent with writings in the Dead Sea scrolls.


Then there are the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Nag Hamadi texts, especially the Gospel Of Thomas. All conveniently declared apocryphal/ non canonical, by virtually all Christian churches.
Dead Sea scrolls and thre Nag Hamadi text were not discovered until long after the canon of the New Testament was fixed. Gospel of Thomas lacks any kind of historical setting for its teachings, and apparently the early Christians requirements for a gospel were that it included both teachings and a historical background for the teachings. The mysterious "Q" source used by both the Gospel of Luke and Matthews was not preserved either, probably because it didn't meet the requirements of what the early Christians wanted. They apparently did not want just sayings and teachings with out a context to set the teachings in.

And most apocryphal gospels, including Gospel of Thomas, have even less potential historical information than the canonical gospels. Even the Gospel of Thomas is in my view clearly later than many propose, since it lacks any Jewish teaching from the Old Testament that you would expect from any 1st century Palestinian Jewish religious leader. The Jesus of the NT gospels is constantly quoting and referring to the Old Testament, the Jesus of the Gospel of Thomas and the apocryphal gospels doesn't, and you would not know it just by reading them that Jesus was even a Jew.

The moral philosophy of Jesus is consistent with Judaic teachings as one would expect from a Jewish rabbi . Christians either overlook or deny the simple fact that the faith which became Christianity was a small, Jewish sect until Paul of Tarsus stuck his oar in. By 'Jewish sect' I mean that a person HAD TO BE JEWISH to belong.
Most educated Christians don't deny that Christianity started off as a Jewish sect, but you are right that most Christians overlook this fact.

However, I question the significance of Paul's role in transforming Christianity from a Jewish sect to a new religion in its own right. Paul, while the most outspoken proponent of view that a person need not be a Jew to be a Christian, might not have been the only one, and Acts clearly gives credit to Peter, not Paul, for baptizing the first Gentiles. Paul even acknowledged that Peter ate and had fellowship with Gentile Christians at first. Peter, no doubt to keep the peace, only withdrawing when apparently Christians who held to the views that Christians needed to be Jewish as well.

It wasn't that Peter held different views from Paul, it was Paul felt that Peter was compromising too much, and Paul insisted that there could be no compromise. As a Jew, you had to maintain a certain amount of separation from Gentiles, and that Paul felt was completely unacceptable, since it would make Gentile Christians a set of second class citizens in a cult that was predominately Jewish at the time. Keep in mind during the early days of Christianity, during Paul's time, the majority of Christians were Jews. Judaism had a certain appeal to many of the Gentiles of Paul's day, and Paul referred to the "God fearers", for whom we have some archaeological evidence of. Once you accepted Gentiles as Christians without having to be Jewish, which Peter had allowed (Paul himself said that Peter gave his OK to preach to Gentiles without having them adopt the Jewish Law), it was inevitable that Christianity would become a primarily non Jewish sect, given the greater number of Gentiles compared to Jews. Paul may have been the most vocal proponent, but neither the New Testament or early Christian writing portray Paul as being the only proponent of the view that you need not be a Jew to become a Christian. Christianities triumph was probably due to the fact it had many of the things that the Gentile liked about Judaism, without the burdensome baggage of adherence to rigid dietary laws and circumcision. If a Gentile Christian married a Jewish Christian, I suspect their children would be more likely be Gentiles than Jewish.

And from what I can tell, the Rabbis in the period following the destruction of the Temple and the Jewish nation during the revolts excluded those Jews that didn't adhere to their theology, which would have included Christian Jews. Post Second Temple Judaism was far less diverse theologically than it had been during the Second Temple Period and before the Roman destruction. Rabbinic Judaism marginalized and largely eliminated groups like the Sadducees that held contrary views to their own. Jewish Christians were driven out of the Jewish community and would have just been absorbed to the wider Gentile Christian community.




It is my observation that the great world religions all teach a similar moral code; Be compassionate, don't lie, cheat or steal, do not commit murder. There are some pretty wild variations within that code, across many religions. Things get really out of hand once cosmology and theology enter the scene.[/QUOTE]
 

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