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Old 7th December 2017, 10:39 PM
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SEG SEG is offline
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Default Why Christopher Hitchens believed in The Historical Jesus

I'd like to make a comment on why the late, great, Christopher Hitchens believed in the historical Jesus. During his talk on his book, "Why God is Not Great", he makes these comments on why he believes that the Jesus of the Bible may have been a historical person:



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Now, there is on the historicity point, there're only two reasons to suppose that there may have been the figure of some kind of deluded rabbi present at that time.

The first is the fakery of the story. The fakery itself proves something.

The prophecy says this man must be born in the house of David, of David's line, in David's town. Means he must be born in Bethlehem.

Jesus of Nazareth is well known to have been born in Nazareth.

In order to get him to Bethlehem a huge fabrication has to be undertaken. A census is proposed by Cesar Augustus. No such census ever took place.

The people of the region were not required to go back to their hometown to be registered. That's never happened.

Quirinius was not governor of Syria in that year as the gospels say.

None of the story of the Nativity is true in any detail, and not one of the gospels agrees with each other on this fabrication.

But the fabrication itself suggests something

If they were simply going to make up the whole thing and had never been such person then why not just have him born in Bethlehem right there and leave out the Nazarene business.


So the very falsity of it, the very fanatical attempt to make it come right suggests that yes, there may have been a charismatic deluded individual wondering around at that time.

But which is most impressive to you?


The fantastic fabrications, the unbelievably inane and inarticulate preachments or the inconsistencies in the story?

You can mention another thing about the resurrection.

Most of the witnesses to this are women, illiterate, stupid, deluded, hysterical females, of a kind that to a Jewish Court at that time would have had about as much chance of being listened to as they would in Islamic court today.

What religion that wants its fabrication to be believed it's gonna say You've got to believe it 'cause we have some illiterate hysterical girls who said they saw this.

No, it's impressive to me that the evidence is so thin and is so hysterical and is so feable and is so obviously, strenuously cobbled together, because it suggests that something was going on, there was some character.


And I don't want therefore to profane those who think they know there must have been something.

This is not a whole cloth fabrication, but it is a very human and very intelligible and very pitiable practice of fraud, that may have worked on stupefied peasants in the greater Jerusalem area but should really have no power to influence anyone in this room
I'd like to comment on the 2 objections he said that I have bolded above.

1. If they were simply going to make up the whole thing and had never been such person then why not just have him born in Bethlehem right there and leave out the Nazarene business.

That was the case in Mark and Matthew. He had no birth story in Mark and Mathew had him born in a house in Bethlehem, not a manger. The Nazarene business had nothing to do with locality, it was probably referring to a cultic title.
Where he said;
Quote:
So the very falsity of it, the very fanatical attempt to make it come right suggests that yes, there may have been a charismatic deluded individual wondering around at that time.
This looks like a version of the criterion of embarrassment where the authors would supposedly not have gone out of their way to create a story that embarrassed its author. I think that a far more parsimonious explanation was that it was just made up in order to fulfill a prophesy in the OT.

2.
Quote:
Most of the witnesses to this are women, illiterate, stupid, deluded, hysterical females, of a kind that to a Jewish Court at that time would have had about as much chance of being listened to as they would in Islamic court today.

What religion that wants its fabrication to be believed it's gonna say You've got to believe it 'cause we have some illiterate hysterical girls who said they saw this.
I see the part about women being the witnesses as being an allegorical message of the reversal of expectation, as Carrier notes, that the least shall be first. In any case, in this location and era, women were apparently able to take others to trial and speak in court as witnesses.

This short video is probably a better explanation and is the motivation behind this post;


Last edited by SEG; 7th December 2017 at 10:42 PM.
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Old 13th January 2018, 01:26 PM
toejam toejam is offline
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Default Re: Why Christopher Hitchens believed in The Historical Jesus

Here's a more effectively written form of Hitchens' point, from famed New Testament scholar C. H. Dodd's "History and the Gospel", 1938, p.60

Dodd:

"The early Church took over a large corpus of eschatological predictions from the Old Testament and the apocalyptic literature; and from a very early period its mind was bent upon showing how these predictions were fulfilled in the story of Jesus. The study of testimony books has led to the conclusion that the application of prophecy was probably the earliest form of Christian theological thought. To our minds, the methods of application often seem arbitrary and far-fetched, but the intention is clear - to show that in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus the eschaton, or ultimate issue of history, was indeed realized. We must admit the likelihood that certain elements in the developed story as we have it in the Gospel may have been imaginative products of the search for fulfilled prophecy. There is at least a prima facie case for such a conclusion, for example, in the Matthean stories of the Nativity and the Flight into Egypt, of Judas's thirty pieces of silver and the Potter's Field. The question is, how deeply has this process affected the tradition? Is it possible, as some have averred, that not merely details but the main tradition is largely the creation of an imagination fired by too ardent a study of prophecy and apocalypse?

In attempting to answer this question, we must observe that the New Testament writers, for all their anxiety to discover fulfillments of prophecy, and all their ingenuity in doing so, do not attempt to exploit the whole corpus of Messianic prediction. There are large sections of it which are not represented. It is not only the purely supernatural traits - the coming with the clouds of heaven, the portents in heaven and earth, the transfiguration of the elect, and the like - that are missing from the Gospel story. The whole conception of the Messiah as king, warrior and judge, the ruthless vindicator of the righteousness of God, is absent from the Church's presentation of the Jesus of history, though imagination working freely upon the prophetic data might easily have constructed a quasi-historical figure having these traits. There has been some principle of selection at work, by which certain sides of the Messianic idea are held to be fulfilled ,and others are set aside. What was the principle of selection? Surely the simplest explanation is that a true historical memory controlled the selection of prophecies. Those were held to have been fulfilled which were in general consonant with the memory of what Jesus had been, had said, had done and had suffered. The fulfillment of the rest was postponed to the future. By retaining a residue of the "futurist eschatology" of Judaism the Church kept its historical tradition from being completely transformed by eschatological ideas, since there was always a repository for unfulfilled expectations, in the hope of the Second Advent.

In fact those aspects of the Messianic idea which apparently bulked most largely in Jewish thought of the time, whether it followed the line represented by the Psalms of Solomon or the line represented by 1 Enoch and 4 Ezra, play little part in the tradition about the Jesus of history, but are applied to his expecting coming in glory. On the other hand the scriptures which are held to be fulfilled in the facts concerning Jesus are often those which, so far as our evidence goes, were not currently interpreted as Messianic at all."
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Old Today, 09:17 AM
Boris Boris is offline
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Default Re: Why Christopher Hitchens believed in The Historical Jesus

No first century writer or Historian mentions Jesus or one word of that story

There were 2 there the whole time who saw nothing - Philo and Justus of Tiberius

So if nobody wrote about Jesus there was no Jesus

The absence of evidence is evidence of absence
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Old Today, 09:42 AM
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Default Re: Why Christopher Hitchens believed in The Historical Jesus

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Boris said View Post
No first century writer or Historian mentions Jesus or one word of that story

There were 2 there the whole time who saw nothing - Philo and Justus of Tiberius

So if nobody wrote about Jesus there was no Jesus

The absence of evidence is evidence of absence
[My bold] Sure, but it is not proof of absence. You can say there is no evidence for Unicorns, that does not absolutely prove their non-existence. Your can operate on a working theory that they probably don't exist, and are therefore moot until/unless the evidence changes. To claim there are no unicorns appeals to omniscient knowledge. You can declare that there are absolutely no unicorns, but then you have to demonstrate omniscience, which is rather hard to do, even for god!
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