Steve says the majority of scholars feel that there was such a guy. I've been under the impression for many years that the biblical Jesus never existed. But I think it's just an exercise in scholarship and semantics, really.
Here's where I started:
- Josephus was the nearest contemporary to Jesus, and he never met him.
- All the gospels were written 40-80 years after the supposed crucifixion. None of the gospel writers or Paul/Saul ever met Jesus.
- The Romans were meticulous record keepers back then. Not a word of the uppity Jew named Yeshua/Jesus whom they had to crucify.
- Never a word of the miracles in Roman record keeping either.
Here is what he said:
Most biblical scholars agree that there was a man named Jesus who was an apocalyptic prophet who was wandering about at the time. It doesn't matter what their personal convictions are, (religious or not) but the vast majority of them say the character of Jesus was based on a real person. (Although certainly not a supernatural one!)
The reason for this consensus is that at the time, there were tons of apocalyptic prophets preaching the end of days at that time. (And we do have extra-biblical evidence of that; the Greeks wrote about them quite often...) That one of them was named Jesus isn't a stretch because it was a pretty common name at the time. And Christianity itself had no foundation until a hundred years afterwards anyway- there were many schisms and fragmenting taking place, I mean heck, some of those Gnostic Christians didn't even believe Jesus was really human and others were convinced he didn't really die on a cross. And while the Romans were meticulous record keepers, they wouldn't have necessarily logged the crucifixion of a regular agitator (because there were so many of them...) Again, I'm parroting what the atheist scholars believe. I know Robert Price is convinced that there was no historical Jesus, but he's in the minority and admits as much in his writings. Bart Ehrman is the guy I've read the most of and he is on the other side of the coin.
Personally, I don't care one way or another as whether he was real or not has no bearing on whether the religion is true, but the only way (I think) that we have as much information about the bible as we do is because of those guys who do nothing but study and research, and until the consensus changes, I would go with the majority.
See, the problem is that yes, the lack of a historical Jesus does throw the basic tenets of Christianity out the window and as an atheist, that feels good and is a powerful argument to use if it is true. However, I threw religion away because I didn't want to engage in confirmation bias... I want to get at truth and I don't want to use an argument that isn't backed up by a legitimate source.
I see Steve's reasoning, and it makes sense too, in a way. I guess it matters on which scholars you trust and how enamored with the religion they are and not just the history.
I’ve heard these ideas before and yes, it’s true there were other prophets preaching the apocalypse back then. I got the impression if there was a guy named Yeshua (which equates to John here in America, very common) who was a prophet, he might have been a mish mash of several prophets.
I think you have a tough battle to prove that there was such a guy living back then. If he did, why didn’t he write anything down himself? So he was a prophet who was illiterate. Why are there no contemporary records?
It really doesn’t mean anything in the long run, though.
I agree, I also prefer to get to the truth. Honestly, some things will never be known completely. One of those is this: did a prophet named Yeshua ever live and preach? How can we ever know that? Based on what I know, I’d say that it doesn’t matter at all.
If you look at the new testament, it was all written long after the supposed jesus lived and was crucified, rendering it all hearsay and story and fable. So who cares if one prophet happened to be named Yeshua? It means nothing. His life was not that significant because he wasn’t written about in his time, and he was illiterate so he never wrote his own thoughts down.
I think you're right- it really doesn't matter, it's kind of irrelevant and it's almost impossible to prove, especially with my layman's knowledge of ancient times.
For the matter of contemporary records- if there were a lot of godmen running around in those days (enough to be written about in general terms by the Greeks, anyway) and one of `em was really named Yeshua I don't think what he would have said would been that different from what all the others were saying (behold, the end is near, repent, yada yada), which would explain the lack of contemporary records. Tempest in a teapot and all of that... Still doesn't matter a jot or a tittle.
Heh. The New Testament. Can you imagine drawing an accurate picture of the civil rights movement in the sixties today, if no written record *from* the sixties existed? I think it would be a very different narrative... Although an apologist would certainly try and pull the oral *coffbullshitcoffcoff* tradition argument out of his butt.
I have to say, though, that Bart and Robert are two of my favorite biblical scholars- both atheists, both with good arguments to back up their completely contradictory viewpoints on that particular topic.
And I said:
Good point about the 60’s and how differently we’d look back on that time if nothing had been recorded then. It would be doubly hard because everyone back then were a bunch of stoners and hippie druggies! LOL!
History is written by the winners, as they say. It all definitely needs to be taken with a pound of salt. Where's Lot's wife when you need her?