Tuesday, October 6, 2009

They Invented a Nut Case.

That's what some people say; that Jesus’ followers made up stories about Him. Some even go so far as to say that the very existence of Jesus is a total fiction. My question then is, why this Jesus? If they were going to write a fiction, why would they write a fiction that made themselves look stupid? If you're going to invent a story, why not make your hero look good? Here's what I mean.

If Jesus was a real person but wasn't who He said He was, then He really was a nut case. After all, if you know anyone who thinks s/he's God, it's because you either met that person on the psych ward or you know very well that the person needs to be admitted to the psych ward.

If Jesus is a fictional character that you want to make people think is Great:

. Why invent a crazy "hero."

. Why have Jesus submit to John's baptism?

. Why mention that Jesus' family thought He was nuts

. Why invent a Messiah that doesn't meet the expectations of the religious authorities?

. Why write about ministry failures on the part of Jesus followers?

. Why show Jesus freaking out over a fig tree that shouldn't have had figs anyway?

. Why call Jesus, The King of the Jews when He didn't rule over Israel?

. Why invent a ridiculous story about a virgin birth? An illegitimate hero? C'mon.

. Why would the authors talk about themselves in such a way that makes them seem incompetent, foolish, selfish and dull of mind?

Why document these things if they aren't true? When historical scholars find these kinds of stories, when stories fit the "criteria of embarrassment" scholars hear authenticity. They hear truth. Why can’t atheists overcome their bias and allow for personal honesty when judging the authenticity of the New Testament documents?

23 comments:

JD Curtis said...

Why have women discover the empty tomb when women werent allowed to give testimony at that time?

Adam said...

These are all good questions and equally applicable to any other god created by the human mind.

It illustrates the act of imbuing human characteristics on fictional characters. Read some Greek or Roman mythology and you'll see all of their gods had issues, dealt with infighting, were lacking in hubris. It's across the board. Your argument actually makes it more realistic that Jesus was a fake and that humans made it all up.

Hugo said...

Just to confirm Adams's comment...

Take a look at this for example.

It shows how NOT special at all Jesus’ character is, so it does point out to why Jesus might have been a complete made up character. Or, at the very best, if Jesus did exist, his life was written down in ways that picture him just like any other mythic hero.

**********************

Life events shared by Jesus and another god-man

There are numerous god-men in the ancient Mediterranean area and Middle East. There are many stories that appear both in Jesus' biography and in the legends of another god-man:

Mother's pregnancy:
It was a common belief among early Christians that Mary was pregnant for only seven months. This legend is preserved in the Gospel of the Hebrews. Although this gospel was widely used by early Christians, it was never accepted into the official canon. Semele, mother of Dionysus, was also believed to have had a 7 month pregnancy.

Virgin birth:
Author William Harwood has written that Jesus' "equation in Greek eyes with the resurrected savior-god Dionysos led an interpolator to insert a virgin-birth myth into the gospel now known as Matthew." 1

Birth Witnesses:
The gospel of Matthew records that Jesus was visited by an unknown number of wise men, called Magi.
Authors Freke & Gandy identify them as followers of the god man Mithras from Persia. 4
[…]
The gospel of Luke records that Jesus was visited by three shepherds. Mithra the god man from Persia was also visited shortly after birth by three shepherds.
The magi brought gold, frankincense and myrrh. A Pagan belief from the 6th century BCE states that these are the precise materials to use when worshiping God.

Healing:
Jesus is recorded throughout the gospels as healing the sick and restoring the dead to life. So was Asclepius, a Greek god man. Pagans and early Christians debated who was the more effective healer.

Ministry:
Jesus appeared as a wandering holy man who is later transfigured in the presence of some of his disciples. Dionysus was portrayed in the same manner in Euripides' play The Bacchae, written in 410 BCE.

Miracles:
Both Jesus and Empedocles were recorded as teaching spiritual truths, curing illness, foretelling the future, controlling the wind and rain, and raising people from the dead.
Both Mithra and Jesus performed many healings of the sick and mentally ill; both raised the dead
. 3
Mark, chapter 5 describes Jesus driving demons from a man into a herd of about 2,000 pigs who rushed over a cliff and drowned. In Eleusis, about 2,000 initiates would bathe in the sea. Each had a young pig to which the believers' sins would be transferred. The pigs were then chased over a chasm and killed.

[…]

Arrest:
Both Dionysus and Jesus celebrated a Last Supper with his 12 disciples before his death.
Dionysus is described in Euripides' play The Bacchae as bringing a new religion to the people, being plotted against by the leaders, being arrested and appearing before the political ruler. Dionysus said to his captors "You know not what you are doing..," almost replicating Jesus' words at the cross. He was unjustly accused and executed. All of these themes are seen in the Gospels.

Crucifixion & resurrection:
Jesus' body was wrapped in linen and anointed with myrrh and aloe. Osiris was also said to have been wrapped in linen and anointed with myrrh.
Again, the god men myths had been circulating well before Jesus birth. The Christians would have copied earlier Pagan material, not vice-versa.

Author Kersey Graves wrote a book in 1875 titled "The World's Sixteen Crucified Saviors." It lists 346 "striking analogies between Christ and Chrishna." A selection of the precise matches between Yeshua's and Krishna's life is listed in a separate essay.

JD Curtis said...

These are all good questions and equally applicable to any other god created by the human mind.

This isnt prejudging a concept is it? And for starters, which of the Roman or Greek dieties is there a legitimate claim that they have been historic personages?

JD Curtis said...

It was a common belief among early Christians that Mary was pregnant for only seven months.

This is an extra-Biblical belief. Let's set this aside for a moment.

Mithra the god man from Persia was also visited shortly after birth by three shepherds...

Are you referring to the Zoastrian Mithra? If so, what is the earliest source for this information? You later make reference to (Roman) Mithras and there is no connection at all between the two. None whatsoever, except for the similarities of the 2 names. Given that all references to (Roman) Mithras post-date Christianity, then I suggest that we dump all references to MithraS because if anybody was guilty of copying anyone, the followers of MithraS would be the guilty party, not the early Christians.

Adam said...

"Which of the Roman or Greek dieties is there a legitimate claim that they have been historic personages?"

We're not arguing about whether a person named Jesus ever existed. We're arguing about whether gods are nutcases or not.

Don't try to sidetrack this.

JD Curtis said...

Adam, you are comparing Roman and Greek mythologies to a real historic person who claimed to be the Son of God. If you can't see the apples to oranges comparisons here than I can't help you.

So, can you think of one of these Roman or Greek dieties that you compare Him with in which there is credible evidence that they were a historic personage or is your answer 'no'?

Adam said...

Sorry, no, we're comparing mythologies. You know what a mythology is right?

"[A] myth is conventionally defined as a sacred narrative explaining how the world and humankind came to be in their present form. Many scholars in other academic fields use the term "myth" in somewhat different ways. In a very broad sense, the word can refer to any traditional story."

You don't get to redefine the terms so you can avoid the argument.

Hugo said...

You're right Adam, but we already know what the answer of Christian apologists will be...

It's not mythology, it's history!!!

So what differenciate myths and historical facts? I think we both know, but they don't...

Gorth Satana said...

They're just humanizing him by having him do stupid things.

"If Jesus is a fictional character..."

He's not fictional, he is myth. Myth probably based on one or more people, but myth.

SmartLX said...

Okay, one by one:

- Provided he actually did claim to be God, which is the word of the Bible and little or nothing else, AND he wasn't just lying, his supposed actions were rational enough given his whacked-out premise. He seems misguided on this one point, not completely demented.

- By playing along with John, Jesus easily slotted himself into John's many prophecies, and many much older ones, giving himself major credibility with John's followers and many other Jews.

- Besides Mary and perhaps Joseph, who said his family was in on it? Mary was subject to their wrath when she fell pregnant, so they certainly weren't in on the divine conception part.

- The expectations of the religious authorities were likely too high. The Messiah as imagined by Jews at the time would have quickly freed them from Roman rule. Lacking this ability, Jesus had to make his own legend.

- Ministry failures mean people who continued to doubt and deny. If everybody accepted Jesus straight away, nobody would believe the story. As a bonus, doubters make good cautionary tales.

- If the fig tree thing happened, Jesus hardly freaked out. Nowhere does it say he was angry. He was making a point, possibly using a tree that was on its last legs.

- Jesus' kinghood was apparently his birthright. Objections and resistance by the ruling authorities to this automatic accession are natural. They hardly matter; as you would say, he was King of the Jews no matter what the Jews said.

- Illegitimate heroes, and particularly virgin births, have an excellent pedigree in mythology. There's no quicker way to point out a character as special. Besides, the writers of the Gospel had Isaiah's prophecy to fulfill (possibly translated wrongly from "maiden" or "young woman", but that's another issue).

The most important thing for the writers wasn't the truth of the matter, even if it WAS all true. Their goal was to convince people to believe, and to worship Jesus. Everything you listed works towards that end in some way.

JD Curtis said...

I wasnt trying to redefine diddly-squat Adam. Arent you the one who started with this "god created by the human mind" claptrap?

Is it your belief that Jesus Christ was manufactured from the "human mind"? As simple yes or no will suffice.

So what differenciate myths and historical facts? I think we both know, but they don't

There's far more historical evidence concerning Christ's resurrection than Alexander the Great actually walking the face of the Earth. We've been through this already.

Gorth Satana said...

"There's far more historical evidence concerning Christ's resurrection than Alexander the Great actually walking the face of the Earth.

No.

JD Curtis said...

By playing along with John, Jesus easily slotted himself into John's many prophecies, and many much older ones, giving himself major credibility with John's followers and many other Jews.

An overactive imagination on display here.

Besides Mary and perhaps Joseph, who said his family was in on it? Mary was subject to their wrath when she fell pregnant, so they certainly weren't in on the divine conception part.

Ever heard of James?

The expectations of the religious authorities were likely too high. The Messiah as imagined by Jews at the time would have quickly freed them from Roman rule. Lacking this ability, Jesus had to make his own legend.

Explains why the Jews are still looking for their messiah. The last sentence is off though.

If the fig tree thing happened, Jesus hardly freaked out. Nowhere does it say he was angry. He was making a point, possibly using a tree that was on its last legs

Idle speculation and nothing more.

JD Curtis said...

Great Gorth, list all historical sources concerning Alexander from 1 century of his claimed events. Go!

JD Curtis said...

The "virgin birth" entry over at Wiki that you cite is even more sloppy than their typical entries. Got another Smart LX?

Gorth Satana said...

Why, what about all the physical evidence?
Contemporary tablets, statues, money...
Aside from the monuments, there is overwhelming physical evidence that a Greek army conquered much of the Middle East, that the subsequent kingdoms which the empire was divided into really existed, and so on.
Now there is nothing extraordinary about a man leading an army.
Now Jesus' resurrection is attested only by people a thousand miles away, several generations later, writing in a different language, with a vested interest in creating such a myth.
Now excuse me if I say extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

SmartLX said...

JD, of COURSE it's all idle speculation, but it's also relevant.

Mak's general question is, why would all this stuff be in the Bible if Jesus weren't Lord? The question that more commonly arises from the fig tree is, how could it have happened at all if Jesus weren't Lord? The general answer to both is speculation: "Like this for example. Or this."

Did John not endorse Jesus as his foretold saviour, and thus pass his followers on to Jesus, upon baptising him? Or did I imagine that part? What version of Jesus, sincere or not, wouldn't want that?

James illustrates my point, assuming it was the right James: a family member who didn't think from the start that Jesus was supposedly divine (see the section in your link on "James the Unbeliever"), but came around later. He like many others makes for a great conversion story, or "scalp".

Here's a more comprehensive piece on virgin birth stories, with a link to an even fuller one.

SmartLX said...

Oh yes, JD, your Messiah question. You said it yourself, Jesus didn't fit the bill as far as many Jews were concerned, including the authorities.

He made no visible difference to their situation, besides nearly bringing the wrath of the Romans down on them. He showed no power over the Romans at all. Whether he lacked the ability or not, he didn't act as they expected. So not everybody bought the Messiah line.

SmartLX said...

Sorry, you didn't say it yourself, Mak did.

JD Curtis said...

Jesus' resurrection is attested only by people a thousand miles away, several generations later, writing in a different language

Gorth, then you might as well throw out all of recorded history if that is your standard. I note that you still havent provided a single historian from 1 century of his claimed deeds.

JD Curtis said...

And I dispute the "several generations later" baloney. Can you substantiate that?

JD Curtis said...

Hey Gorthster, I just found this article and thought it might interest you...

John's Gospel, the Synoptics (Matthew, Mark and Luke) are closer to the distance in time between the Vietnam War and now. If the History Channel interviewed three veterans of that war about their combat experiences that occurred in 1974, should we regard their testimonies as untrustworthy given the distance in time between the events and their interview? Even the 65 years for John is not that long. If Ehrman truly believes what he's saying, he should notify the History Channel that all documentaries that include recent interviews of World War II veterans are unreliable. Link to full article