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Old 10th February 2018, 08:37 AM
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Default Re: Why Christopher Hitchens believed in The Historical Jesus

Sorry TJ for my delayed response. I've been working long hours at Lovett Bay near Elvina Bay & Scotland Island.

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toejam said View Post
There is plenty of fictional symbolism in Plutarch's biographies of historical people too.
Sure, but the problem I have with the content of the Bible is that it is mainly fictional and allegory, very little history.

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Its very doubtful that Paul would have thought that Jesus had a human father. Even Ehrman has changed his mind since he wrote that terrible book "Did Jesus exist?" He now admits now in "How Jesus Became God" that from the start, Christians regarded Jesus as a pre-existent divine being.
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toejam said View Post
We don't know whether Paul thought Jesus had a human father or not. You seemingly don't understand the nuance of what it was Ehrman changed his mind about. Ehrman did not only "now admit" that Paul thought Jesus was pre-existent. Ehrman has long understood that. The nuance Ehrman changed his mind on was that he now thinks Paul thought Jesus was specifically the incarnation of the infamous pre-existent 'Angel of the Lord' of Exodus 3:2 and Judges 2:1 fame. Which I also agree is most likely. This is far and away from thinking that Paul thought Jesus was manufactured in outer-space by a space-woman and never came to Earth. That is what you believe Paul thought, right? You haven't even come close to showing how that is probable.
If Paul thought that Jesus had human parents he would have mentioned them, yet he doesn’t ever mention Joseph or even Mary. According to Carrier, “Paul thought that God manufactured Jesus out of sperm taken directly from David’s belly exactly as prophecy declared he would. In neither Matthew nor Luke is Jesus biologically descended from Davidic seed (Joseph never imparts that seed to Mary); he is directly manufactured in the womb of Mary by God.” The outer space terminology was what ancient people called the heavenly realm. The “space-woman” that you are referring to is just another bloody allegory.

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What makes you think that Paul doesn't mean where flesh and decay and death reside, just where Satan and his demons congregate?
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toejam said View Post
For reasons already stated. Paul locates Jesus's crucifixion in Jerusalem and repeatedly states in various ways that Jesus was a Jew. Paul also claims to have met Jesus's brother. You haven't shown how that isn't the most likely reading of Galatians 1:19. Similarly, I've already shown you how Paul's "according to the flesh" language is most often used by him to refer to humans, in particular, Jews, whom he considers his "kindred according to the flesh", etc. So when Paul says Jesus was a "descendant of David according to the flesh", an "Israelite according to the flesh", and how "we once knew Christ according to the flesh but now no longer", etc., the most economic reading is that he's saying Jesus was a Jew. It's really pretty straight forward. You've fallen deep for Carrier's silliness, hook, line and sinker.
Being a Jew is being used guess how? Allegorically. Carrier states, “In Galatians 3:29, where he declares that “if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” Meaning, even non-Jews become born “of the seed of Abraham” at baptism. In other words, Paul is saying we come from the seed of Abraham allegorically, not literally; spiritually, not biologically.” Paul doesn’t ever state that Jesus got crucified in Jerusalem. Look, if Paul specifically said, Jesus did such and such in an earthly location, and nominated a historical event that lined up with any of the gospel stories, you would have an argument. It doesn’t ever happen like that. All Paul ever states is that he got his information from the revelations and scriptures
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That leaves Jesus with no CV at all when he popped into existence at age 30.
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toejam said View Post
I'm lost at why you think this is relevant?
It’s relevant as historical people tend to have full life stories that aren’t obviously contrived. Rather than an historical account of Jesus’s birth and early life we get nothing from Paul and the only other source are two of the Gospels which deliver a phony, contradictory theological narrative. The account of Matthew was portraying Jesus’s birth and flight to Egypt to mirror the birth and exodus of Moses. Instead of a logical account of how Jesus made a crust, we get contrived prophesy fulfilments of the virgin birth and the Davidic descent. A magical star, the magi, angel, King Herod’s massacres obviously aren’t historical events and the virginal birth mimics mythical accounts of pre-Christian gods.

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He seems to be an incredible shrinking Son of Man. For a guy that probably couldn't write, didn't have any trade skills that we know of, he did pretty well eh?
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toejam said View Post
Well, yes. Again, how is this relevant?
It seems unbelievable that he grew up without any skills to become a great leader. The only “evidence” of his youth was in just one of the Gospels, Luke. When he was 12 he somehow got separated from his parents after a festival and lost for a full 3 days. They searched for him EVERYWHERE, but guess where they found him? In a temple! Who would have guessed?

So you can scrub the fictitious birth narratives and nothing except the above lunacy from the Bible on his youth. There is no other extra biblical evidence either. Then he supposedly pops into existence at around 30 and started his ministry after he chased out the money changers. Or not. Bart Ehrman In his latest book titled, Jesus Interrupted writes:
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The Gospel of Mark indicates that it was in the last week of his life that Jesus “cleansed the Temple” by overturning the tables of the money changers and saying, “This is to be a house of prayer…but you have made it a den of thieves” (Mark 11), whereas according to John this happened at the very beginning of Jesus’ ministry (John 2). Some readers have thought that Jesus must have cleansed the temple twice, once at the beginning of his ministry and once at the end. But that would mean that neither Mark nor John tells the ‘true’ story, since in both accounts he cleanses the temple only once. Moreover, is this reconciliation of the two accounts historically plausible? If Jesus made a disruption in the temple at the beginning of his ministry, why wasn’t he arrested by the authorities then?
The rest of the stories about his ministry are miraculous, flawed and contradictory. Then you get contradictory accounts of his arrest, trial, crucifixion and resurrection. Where are the historical nuggets?

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According to the Bible, he came from a really obscure regional location, but was wildly popular. Contradictory to that because of the very scant evidence, he became a largely unknown insurgent with very few followers.

How the fuck did he become the founder of the largest religion on Earth?
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toejam said View Post
I think a lot of that had more to do with factors other than Jesus himself. A good place to start might be Hector Avalos' "Health Care and the Rise of Christianity". But this is all irrelevant to the issue of reading Paul correctly.
I don’t understand why you think that we should take what Paul wrote with any trust at all. He was clearly delusional if you believe what you read in Acts. He also tells lies and makes stuff up about his trips.


Thanks re book by Hector Avalos, I have heard him in a couple of debates. I thoroughly recommend that you read this book if you want to avoid being duped by Ehrman on the subject: Bart Ehrman and the Quest of the Historical Jesus of Nazareth: An Evaluation of Ehrman s Did Jesus Exist?

Paul was about the same age as Jesus and supposedly was in Jerusalem before he made his trip to Damascus under the name of Saul. If he was such a great persecutor, how come he never met Jesus and the disciples? The disciples were supposed to be dumb as clay and fall guys for Jesus, but while Paul was on the hunt and even killing Christians, he missed all the main ones that apparently remained in Jerusalem after the Crucifixion.

Do you think that he was in Jerusalem before, during or after it?

I can understand how he missed out on nabbing the wily Jesus, though.

Jesus was adept at dodging armed guards at the temple as he chased away the money changers and found it child's play to slip away from an angry crowd from a two horse town (with a non-existent synagogue) that tried and push him from a non-existent cliff. But the dopey disciples, how come he couldn't round them up?
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Old 10th February 2018, 01:06 PM
toejam toejam is offline
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Default Re: Why Christopher Hitchens believed in The Historical Jesus

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the problem I have with the content of the Bible is that it is mainly fictional and allegory, very little history.
And yet you're happy to use 'the Bible' to support your belief that Paul thought Jesus was only ever a space-being, crucified in outer-space, whom never came to Earth. Talk about a double standard!

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If Paul thought that Jesus had human parents he would have mentioned them, yet he doesn’t ever mention Joseph or even Mary.
If Paul thought Jesus had a human father, that does not mean we must expect him to say so. That's simply an unfair expectation given the occasion of his letters. But Paul does say that Jesus came from a woman - without qualification that he's talking about a space-woman. The following part of that verse - "[having come / born] under the law" only strengthens the argument that he's talking about a human woman. Paul is saying that Jesus was a born under the Mosaic law. Paul thinks Jesus was a Jew.

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Being a Jew is being used guess how? Allegorically. Carrier states, “In Galatians 3:29, where he declares that “if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” Meaning, even non-Jews become born “of the seed of Abraham” at baptism. In other words, Paul is saying we come from the seed of Abraham allegorically, not literally; spiritually, not biologically.”
In the verses and paragraphs surrounding 3:29, Paul is trying his darndest to justify how it is that gentiles - who were not part of the family tree of Israel "according to the flesh" - can nevertheless be grafted onto it. For Paul, they are grafted on by faith in Jesus. But for Paul this is as a result of Jesus having done his Earthly work. Paul is making the point that BECAUSE Jesus was a Jew "under the law", he was able to "redeem those under the law" (i.e. Jews) and in doing so, he opened up the door for gentiles to become welcomed into the family of Israel. Their adoption is attained by faith. This is NOT Paul saying that Jesus himself was only ever a space-Jew spoken of in Earthly language "allegorically". For Paul, Jesus very much was a Jew "according to the flesh".

Paul: "But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, in order to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as children"

To read this as Paul saying that Jesus was manufactured by Davidic space-sperm placed in the belly of a space-woman is ridiculous.

Paul: "They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises; to them belong the patriarchs, and from them, according to the flesh, comes the Messiah"

It's right there. Paul understood Jesus to have been an Israelite. The glory, the covenants, the law, etc., were given to the Israelites. And from them came the patriarchs, and from them came Jesus. Sheesh. It's so bloomin' obvious that Paul thinks Jesus was here on Earth! Carrier has you fooled, I'm sorry to say.

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Paul doesn’t ever state that Jesus got crucified in Jerusalem. Look, if Paul specifically said, Jesus did such and such in an earthly location, and nominated a historical event that lined up with any of the gospel stories, you would have an argument
Paul: "the Lord Jesus, on the night when he was taken away, took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, 'This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.' In the same way he took the cup also, after supper, saying, 'This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.' For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes."

Jesus is described as breaking bread, giving thanks, passing cups, etc., on the night he was taken away, specifically during and after supper. This lines up with gospel stories of an Earthly Jesus. It is NOT Paul saying that Jesus initiated this ritual from outer-space, breaking space-bread, or passing space-cups, during and after a space-supper!

Similarly, Paul locates Jesus's death in Jerusalem, and the mode of his death as crucifixion.

Paul: "For you, brothers, became imitators of the churches of God in Christ Jesus that are in Judea, for you suffered the same things from your own compatriots as they did from the Jews, who killed both the Lord Jesus and the prophets"

Paul: "[Unconvinced Jews] have stumbled over the stumbling stone, as it is written, 'See, I am laying in Zion [i.e. Jerusalem] a stone that will make people stumble, a rock that will make them fall, and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame'."

Paul: "We proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles"

Carrier strains hard to remove these passages with "possible" alternate interpretations, but he doesn't achieve his goal that all of them probably fall in his favor. It's not even clear that any of them do.

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So you can scrub the fictitious birth narratives and nothing except the above lunacy from the Bible on his youth. There is no other extra biblical evidence either.
Yes, those birth narratives are bogus. But continually shooting them down doesn't show that there wasn't a historical Jesus. As I've already said, ascribing fictitious miraculous conception/birth shenanigan stories to cult leaders was a common form of propaganda. They are told of Alexander the Great and the Caesars too. It does not follow that there was no Alexander the Great or Roman Caesars. And so nor does it for a historical Jesus.

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Bart Ehrman In his latest book titled, Jesus Interrupted writes:

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The Gospel of Mark indicates that it was in the last week of his life that Jesus “cleansed the Temple” by overturning the tables of the money changers and saying, “This is to be a house of prayer…but you have made it a den of thieves” (Mark 11), whereas according to John this happened at the very beginning of Jesus’ ministry (John 2). Some readers have thought that Jesus must have cleansed the temple twice, once at the beginning of his ministry and once at the end. But that would mean that neither Mark nor John tells the ‘true’ story, since in both accounts he cleanses the temple only once. Moreover, is this reconciliation of the two accounts historically plausible? If Jesus made a disruption in the temple at the beginning of his ministry, why wasn’t he arrested by the authorities then?
Firstly, Jesus, Interrupted is not Ehrman's latest book. Secondly, this is all pretty light-weight and irrelevant. I'm not suggesting that the gospel accounts of Jesus's storming of the temple are completely reliable, reconcilable, or without legendary development. Of course they aren't infallible! But this is the case with stories told about other historical figures of the time. It does not make it probable that there was no historical Jesus.

I note also that you've given up on trying to show why my reading of Galatians 1:19 isn't the most reasonable explanation. Paul describes having met James "the" brother of the Lord.

"Ἰάκωβον τὸν ἀδελφὸν τοῦ κυρίου"
"James the brother of the Lord"


the τὸν in there is not to be overlooked. It is a singular definite article - "the". Paul claims to have met "the" brother of Jesus, distinguished from "other apostles" and "Cephas".

Last edited by toejam; 10th February 2018 at 01:12 PM.
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Old 10th February 2018, 02:45 PM
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Default Re: Why Christopher Hitchens believed in The Historical Jesus

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Paul claims to have met "the" brother of Jesus, distinguished from "other apostles" and "Cephas".
Carrier makes a meal of this here:
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Ehrman concedes that “brother” can be meant non-literally, a “spiritual brother” as Ehrman describes it, meaning “someone who is connected by common bonds of affection or perspective to another.” That actually isn’t what any peer reviewed mythicist argument claims. Christians were not brothers because they were “connected by common bonds of affection or perspective.” They were brothers because they were at baptism the adopted sons of God. Literally. Paul explicitly says that. And this made them all brothers of the Lord Jesus. Again, Paul explicitly says that. And I reiterated this point in my assessment of Ehrman’s Argument 14. It was disingenuous of Ehrman to only respond to the non-peer reviewed arguments for mythicism and ignore the peer reviewed arguments. Ask yourself, why would he do that?

Ehrman also says this can’t be the meaning in Galatians 1:18-19 because there the James thus called a brother of the Lord is being differentiated from Cephas (Peter) the Apostle. As I wrote in my summary, that’s indeed true: Paul is making a distinction; he uses the full term for a Christian (“Brothers of the Lord”) every time he needs to distinguish apostolic from non-apostolic Christians. The James in Galatians 1 is not an Apostle. He is just a rank-and-file Christian. Merely a Brother of the Lord, not an Apostolic Brother of the Lord. The only Apostle he met at that time, he says, was Cephas (Peter), the first Apostle (according to 1 Corinthians 15:5 in light of 1 Corinthians 9:1). Likewise the “Brothers of the Lord” Paul references in 1 Corinthians 9:5 are, again, non-apostolic Christians—and thus being distinguished from Apostles, including, again, the first Apostle, Cephas.

Given what we have from Paul, this is just as likely, if not more likely, than the alternative reading, because we have evidence direct from Paul that he knows of cultic Brothers of the Lord (as in Romans 8:29 he says all Christians are brothers of the Lord), but no evidence he knows of biological brothers of the Lord, a significantly different category of person. So when Paul says “Brothers of the Lord,” he never says which kind he means; and had he known that there were two different kinds of such brothers, the cultic and the biological, he would need to clarify which he meant. That he never clarifies which he meant, means he only knew of one kind. And the only kind of such brother we can clearly establish he knew, was the cultic. And if even that doesn’t move you, he still doesn’t tell you which he meant; so you can’t otherwise claim to know.
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The Peer Reviewed Literature on the Grammar
Ehrman now asks how this can work when “no one can think that Cephas / Peter was not also Jesus’ “brother” in this spiritual sense” too. But it works the same way as now, when, for example, we distinguish pastors and priests from just “Christians.” If we say “the only Pastor I met was John, but I also met the Christian, Jacob” we are not saying Pastor John is not also a Christian; we are saying Jacob is not a Pastor—but still a Christian. This is why Paul’s grammar is so convoluted in Galatians 1:17-19. Rather than simply say “I met two Apostles, Cephas and James the Brother of the Lord,” a way of saying it that would definitely mean Cephas was not whatever a “Brother of the Lord” was, Paul chose instead to say:

I did not go to Jerusalem to those who were Apostles before me [then]…[but] after three years I went to Jerusalem to visit Cephas and stayed with him for fifteen days. But I saw no other Apostles—just the Brother of the Lord James.

Bible translations are written with Christian dogmatic assumptions, so how this gets translated varies widely, in some cases more clearly trying to make this James an Apostle, other times more honestly making that ambiguous, as Paul’s actual vocabulary entails. You can see a broad comparison at Bible Hub, ranging from the more honest “I saw none of the other apostles–only James, the Lord’s brother” (NIV) to the more distorted “The only other apostle I met at that time was James, the Lord’s brother” (NLT). The latter is definitely not what the Greek says. It’s an interpretation of what the translator thinks the Greek text means; but it’s not what the text says. The former is closer to what the text actually says.

As I wrote in OHJ (pp. 588-90):

Whether Paul is actually lying about any of this is not relevant to what Paul wants the Galatians to think and thus what Paul means to say here. And what he means to say is that no one in Judea ever met him. He swears to this most emphatically (Gal. 1.20). He admits there were only two exceptions, Peter and James, and only for a brief time (and that years after he saw the Lord personally). But in saying so, why didn’t Paul just say ‘of them that were apostles before me [1.17] I met none except Peter and James [1.18-19]’? Why does he construct the convoluted sentence ‘I consulted with Peter, but another of the apostles I did not see, except James’? As L. Paul Trudinger puts it, ‘this would certainly be an odd way for Paul to say that he saw only two apostles, Peter and James’.[n. 98] To say that, a far simpler sentence would do. So why the complex sentence instead? Paul could perhaps mean that he consulted with Peter (historeō) but only saw James (eidō)—that is, he didn’t discuss anything with James. But if that were his point, he would make sure to emphasize it, since that would be essential to his argument. Yet he doesn’t. In fact, if he is saying that he saw none of the other apostles, that would entail he was claiming he did not consult with any, either.

So it’s just as likely, if not more so, that Paul means he met only the apostle Peter and only one other Judean Christian, a certain ‘brother James’. By calling him a brother of the Lord instead of an apostle, Paul is thus distinguishing this James from any apostles of the same name—just as we saw he used ‘brothers of the Lord’ to distinguish regular Christians from apostles in 1 Cor. 9.5. Indeed, this would explain his rare use of the complete phrase in only those two places: he otherwise uses the truncated ‘brother’ of his fellow Christians; yet every time he specifically distinguishes apostles from non-apostolic Christians he uses the full title for a member of the Christian congregation, ‘brother of the Lord’. This would be especially necessary to distinguish in such contexts ‘brothers of the apostles’ (which would include kin who were not believers) from ‘brothers of the Lord’, which also explains why he doesn’t truncate the phrase in precisely those two places.

I here cite Trudinger’s peer reviewed article demonstrating that the grammatical construction Paul uses in Gal. 1:19 is comparative. In other words, “Other than the apostles I saw no one, except James the Lord’s brother.” Thus, the construction Paul is using says James is not an Apostle. And both Trudinger and Hans Dieter Betz (who wrote the Fortress Press commentary on Galatians) cite a number of peer reviewed experts who concur (OHJ, p. 590, n. 100). There were of course Jameses who were Apostles. So Paul chose this construction to make clear he didn’t mean one of them (or a biological brother of Cephas, for that matter). He meant a regular “Brother of the Lord,” an ordinary non-apostolic Christian. But a Christian all the same—which was important for Paul to mention, since he had to list every Christian he met on that visit, lest he be accused of concealing his contacts with anyone who knew the gospel at that time.

Ironically, in his attempt to answer Trudinger, George Howard, the only person to answer Trudinger in the peer reviewed literature (OHJ, p. 590, n. 101), observed that the examples Trudinger referenced still involve “a comparison between persons or objects of the same class of things,” such as new friends and old friends belonging to the general class of friends, and indestructible elements and destructible elements belonging to the general class of elements. But that actually means Cephas and James belong to the same class (Brothers of the Lord, since Jesus is “the firstborn of many brethren…”), which entails the distinction is between Apostolic and non-Apostolic Brothers of the Lord, just as Trudinger’s examples show a contrast being made between destructible and indestructible elements and old and new friends. Howard’s objection thus actually confirms the very reading I’m pointing to. It thus does not in fact argue against Trudinger at all—who would agree both Cephas and this James belonged to the same class of things: Christians. Howard’s only other objection was to suggest Paul could have said James was not an Apostle by an even more convoluted sentence; when Occam’s Razor entails the reverse, that Paul would have said such a thing, had he intended to say such a thing, in a much simpler way, not a more complex one—after all, it would be far easier to just say “I met two apostles.” Exactly as Trudinger observes. (I discuss in OHJ several other simpler ways of saying the same thing than Howard suggests.)

What does Ehrman have to say in response?

Nothing in response to the peer reviewed literature. (He addresses neither my discussion of this in my peer reviewed book, nor in that of Betz, nor in the peer reviewed articles of Trudinger or Howard, all of whom I cite in my book.)

Starting to see a trend here?

The Consequences of Ignoring the Peer Reviewed Literature
Because Ehrman stalwartly refuses to read and respond to the peer reviewed literature, he instead tries to argue that I said Cephas was therefore not a Brother of the Lord. Since that is not what I have ever argued, but essentially the opposite, he simply isn’t replying to what I have said. Ehrman would know this if he would just read my book, the actual peer reviewed literature, instead of pretending to know what it says by “interpreting” my summaries of it on my blog. Paul is not saying in Gal. 1 or 1 Cor. 9 that Apostles were not Brothers of the Lord any more than Pseudo-Aristotle using the same construction meant that indestructible elements were not elements or that new friends were not friends. This is the very point of Greek grammar Trudinger explains, and that even Howard concurs on. Again, saying you met “no one but Pastor John, except the Christian Jacob” is not saying Pastor John is not a Christian. It’s saying Jacob is not a Pastor—but nevertheless still a Christian.

Because Ehrman stalwartly refuses to read and respond to the peer reviewed literature, he instead tries to argue that Paul never said all baptized Christians were brothers of the Lord, even though in fact Paul says all baptized Christians were brethren because they were the brethren of the Lord, and they were so because by baptism they were adopted as the sons of God, and that is the reason they would inherit God’s kingdom: being his sons, and therefore rightful heirs. Jesus differs from them in being the adopted son of God solely in respect to being the first one so adopted (and of course being assigned the special privileges of the firstborn: command over God’s estate). Romans 8 is all about this. I cite many other passages concurring and supporting—in the peer reviewed literature Ehrman continues to ignore, and thus remains ignorant of, and thus never responds to: OHJ, Chapter 4, Element 12 (p. 108, with n. 101).

Because Ehrman stalwartly refuses to read and respond to the peer reviewed literature, he instead tries to argue a point of Greek grammar challenged in the peer reviewed literature. Indeed, challenged not only by Trudinger, but even Howard, and by several others cited by Trudinger and Betz. Ehrman refuses to read the peer reviewed literature, and thus makes responses that only expose the fact that he is ignorant of the peer reviewed literature of his own field; that he does not know the underlying Greek grammar of the Galatians passage and has not compared it with the same construction elsewhere in ancient Greek; that he does not know what experts have said in the peer reviewed literature about the underlying Greek grammar of the Galatians passage when compared with the same construction elsewhere in ancient Greek. And accordingly, he fails to respond to the peer reviewed arguments against him. He instead ignores the peer reviewed literature of his own field and arm-chairs a response to a blog post that told him to read the peer reviewed literature of his own field.

Why is anyone still listening to this guy?
I'll get to the rest of this later. In the meantime, would you mind responding to the last part of my last post? It's not a "gotcha" tactic, I really would like to know your opinion. Here it is again:

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Paul was about the same age as Jesus and supposedly was in Jerusalem before he made his trip to Damascus under the name of Saul. If he was such a great persecutor, how come he never met Jesus and the disciples? The disciples were supposed to be dumb as clay and fall guys for Jesus, but while Paul was on the hunt and even killing Christians, he missed all the main ones that apparently remained in Jerusalem after the Crucifixion.

Do you think that he was in Jerusalem before, during or after it?

I can understand how he missed out on nabbing the wily Jesus, though.

Jesus was adept at dodging armed guards at the temple as he chased away the money changers and found it child's play to slip away from an angry crowd from a two horse town (with a non-existent synagogue) that tried and push him from a non-existent cliff. But the dopey disciples, how come he couldn't round them up?

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Old 10th February 2018, 05:57 PM
toejam toejam is offline
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Default Re: Why Christopher Hitchens believed in The Historical Jesus

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SEG said:
Carrier makes a meal of this
Carrier certainly makes a meal of it there. Like a dog's breakfast.

The James in Galatians is no "average-Joe / I'm-only-a-brother-because-I-was-baptised" "brethren" sense of "brother". In surrounding verses Paul tells us how he presented the gospel he preached to this very James, whom he acknowledges as a "pillar", in order to ensure the gospel he was preaching was acceptable, and elsewhere, how this very James later sent men to check up on him (to Paul's annoyance). Similarly, in 1 Corinthians 15, this James is singled out as one of the earliest to have witnessed the risen Jesus. This is a James with significant clout in the community. No merely-baptised brethren-brother.

Paul describes this James as the (τὸν) brother of the Lord. If Paul had wanted this James to be understood in the way Carrier prefers, then Paul would have been better to say "τῶν ἀδελφῶν ἐν Κυρίῳ" ("one of the brothers in the Lord") as he does when describing the generic "brethren" in Philippians 1:14, or perhaps "ὁ ἀδελφὸς" ("our brother") as he does for Timothy in Philemon 1:1, or perhaps simply "Ἰάκωβον ἀδελφὸν" ("James, a brother" or "brother James"). Instead, Paul uses the rather specific "τὸν ἀδελφὸν τοῦ κυρίου" ("the brother of the Lord").

Given the commonality of the name "Ἰάκωβον" ("Jacob/James"), it was important for Paul to distinguish which James he was talking about. The distinction comes from Paul labeling him "the brother of the Lord". People obviously knew which James this was. It wasn't just any old baptised James, but the James, the brother of Jesus. It's clear enough:

Paul: "I did go up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas and stayed with him fifteen days; but I did not see any other apostle except James the brother of the Lord"

Carrier's clutching for "possible" alternatives is like a fundamentalist Christian who attempts to wriggle out of admitting failed prophecies by way of appealing to "possible" alternative interpretations rather than just going with how the text most naturally reads - like a super-fundy Catholic who does not want to admit that Jesus actually had blood brothers (thus tainting their picture of a perpetually virgin Mary).

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Do you think that [Paul] was in Jerusalem before, during or after [the crucifixion]?
I don't know.

Last edited by toejam; 10th February 2018 at 06:17 PM.
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Old 10th February 2018, 06:16 PM
toejam toejam is offline
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Default Re: Why Christopher Hitchens believed in The Historical Jesus

With all that said now, where does ever Paul say that Jesus was only ever manufactured through Davidic-space-sperm and came from a space-woman, all exclusively in the heavens without Earthly correspondence?

That is what you believe Paul thought, correct?
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Old 10th February 2018, 07:16 PM
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Default Re: Why Christopher Hitchens believed in The Historical Jesus

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toejam said View Post
Carrier certainly makes a meal of it there.
Some more munching:
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James is the brother of John, not of Jesus. No brother of Jesus is numbered among the Apostles in any of the Gospels. To the contrary, the Gospels all have Jesus renounce his family, and they clearly don’t know that that ever changed (they have no evident knowledge of any brother ever even joining the church at all; Luke alone claims such in Acts 1, but no such fact is noted in his Gospel and they immediately disappear from history even in his own narrative in Acts).
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toejam said View Post
I don't know.
I'm glad that you have said that, the stories of the Pauline epistles and the Gospels don't offer any historical facts about an historical Jesus that you could know with certainty are correct.

Getting back to the OP, can you see why Christopher Hitchens believed in The Historical Jesus A priori ?
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  #87  
Old 10th February 2018, 07:30 PM
Stu Stu is offline
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Default Re: Why Christopher Hitchens believed in The Historical Jesus

Hi TJ - I’ve been following your debate with SEG, and I think you have lucidly and patiently made your points.
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  #88  
Old 10th February 2018, 08:21 PM
toejam toejam is offline
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Default Re: Why Christopher Hitchens believed in The Historical Jesus

^That we cannot know these things with the degree of certainty you seem to require does not mean your belief that Paul only believed in a space Jesus who never came to Earth becomes probable or equally-likely by default.

Your belief is still devastatingly flawed by the plethora of references within Paul's epistles that clearly link his Jesus as having been here on Earth, born a Jew, with living human relatives, in distinct Earthly locations, giving 'earthly' teachings (one of which involved breaking bread and passing cups after supper - note: not space-bread or space-cups), etc. Paul's Jesus is crucified in Jerusalem and is buried.

No where does Paul ever say that these things only happened in the heavens. I contend that the idea of a historical Jesus simply makes better historical sense of what we can fathom about the instigation of Christianity. This is consistent with a view of the gospels as historical propaganda with mythical elements (as opposed to pure myth), and with Tacitus' description.

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James is the brother of John, not of Jesus
Paul says that James was the brother of the Lord.

Hitchens' reasoning for thinking there probably was some figure behind the curtain (some "deluded Rabbi" as he describes him) is a fair one. The desperate and paranoid attempt to justify and rationalize how a crucified criminal who failed to accomplish what the Messiah was supposed to accomplish could ever be considered the Messiah suggests something. The best bet is that the original Christians had high hopes for Jesus. But he was squashed. The cognitive dissonance must have been high - easily relieved by the assumption that Jesus was still alive. Somehow. Somewhere. Didn't you see him?! Apparently James did... And therein beginneth the legend...

Last edited by toejam; 10th February 2018 at 08:47 PM.
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Old 10th February 2018, 11:03 PM
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SEG SEG is offline
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Default Re: Why Christopher Hitchens believed in The Historical Jesus

[QUOTE=toejam;609148]
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^That we cannot know these things with the degree of certainty you seem to require does not mean your belief that Paul only believed in a space Jesus who never came to Earth becomes probable or equally-likely by default.
Belief in all sorts of "space gods" that never came to Earth was rife in that region and time, especially mystery cults and Jewish beliefs. For example, Marcion believed that Jesus came down to Earth as an angel and never had a birth narrative. He developed the first Bible and it is thought that the Gospels were written to dispute what he wrote about Jesus being a celestial being.

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Your belief is still devastatingly flawed by the plethora of references within Paul's epistles that clearly link his Jesus as having been here on Earth, born a Jew, with living human relatives, in distinct Earthly locations, giving 'earthly' teachings (one of which involved breaking bread and passing cups after supper - note: not space-bread or space-cups), etc. Paul's Jesus is crucified in Jerusalem and is buried.
Nothing that Paul says is related to a Jesus of Nazareth existing in the natural world or ties him to a historic event. He never mentions a "Jesus" or a "Nazareth". None of the evidence that you have mentioned so far links a Jesus of Nazareth to what Paul supposedly wrote.

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No where does Paul ever say that these things only happened in the heavens. I contend that the idea of a historical Jesus simply makes better historical sense of what we can fathom about the instigation of Christianity. This is consistent with a view of the gospels as historical propaganda with mythical elements (as opposed to pure myth), and with Tacitus' description.
Well the burden of proof that the Jesus of Nazareth existed outside of the Bible lies with you, and you have failed to provide any credible evidence. I contend that it makes more sense to believe that it is more parsimonious that it was all made up like the majority of Christian stories.

There is also no credible evidence that Nazareth existed at the time of Jesus.

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Hitchens' reasoning for thinking there probably was some figure behind the curtain (some "deluded Rabbi" as he describes him) is a fair one.
Hitchen's belief could ONLY be justified if their was any proof that a Jesus of Nazareth existed and a city called Nazareth existed at the supposed time of Jesus. There is nothing to justify those beliefs.

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The desperate and paranoid attempt to justify and rationalize how a crucified criminal who failed to accomplish what the Messiah was supposed to accomplish could ever be considered the Messiah suggests something. The best bet is that the original Christians had high hopes for Jesus. But he was squashed. The cognitive dissonance must have been high - easily relieved by the assumption that Jesus was still alive. Somehow. Somewhere. Didn't you see him?! Apparently James did... And therein beginneth the legend...
You are starting to sound like a Christian fundy. Please enlighten us to how the Jesus of Nazareth of the Bible was arrested and charged with sedition, insurrection or blasphemy and how the Romans were solely responsible for his crucifixion.
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Old 11th February 2018, 01:33 AM
toejam toejam is offline
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Default Re: Why Christopher Hitchens believed in The Historical Jesus

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SEG said:
Belief in all sorts of "space gods" that never came to Earth was rife in that region and time, especially mystery cults and Jewish beliefs. For example, Marcion believed that Jesus came down to Earth as an angel and never had a birth narrative. He developed the first Bible...
Sorry mate. Marcion won't help you here. Marcion revererd Paul. And Marcion was not teaching that Paul believed Jesus was only a celestial being who never came to Earth.

Scholar Jason BeDuhn recently reconstructed what he could of Marcion's New Testament by putting together early Church Father quotations of it. A lot of it goes unattested, unfortunately. In a lot of cases we simply don't know whether verse x was included or not. But a good chunk of it can be reconstructed. According to BeDuhn's reconstruction, Marcion's canon contained many of the 'earthy' verses we've been discussing, including:

* 1 Thes 2:14, where Jesus is said by Paul to have been killed by Jews in Judea.
* 1 Cor 1:23, where Jesus's crucifixion is said to have been a stumbling block to Jews.
* 1 Cor 11:23-28, where Jesus is said to have "broken bread", "passed cups", "after dinner", etc.
* 1 Cor 15:3, where Jesus is said to have been buried
* 1 Cor 15:21, where Jesus is described as a "human being".
* Romans 8:3, where Jesus is described as having come "in the likeness of faulty flesh".
* Phili 2:7-8, where Jesus is said to have come in "the likeness/appearance of a human being".

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... and it is thought that the Gospels were written to dispute what [Marcion] wrote about Jesus being a celestial being.
Marcion's gospel text was a variant version of the Gospel of Luke that began at Chapter 3. BeDuhn has reconstructed it too. Marcion's gospel certainly did not teach that Jesus stayed in the heavens and never came to Earth. It is well understood that the Gospel of Luke drew heavily from the Gospel of Mark, so it is simply a matter of logic to see that the canonical Mark (at least) could not have been written "to dispute what Marcion wrote about Jesus being a celestial being".

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Nothing that Paul says is related to a Jesus of Nazareth existing in the natural world or ties him to a historic event. He never mentions a "Jesus" or a "Nazareth". None of the evidence that you have mentioned so far links a Jesus of Nazareth to what Paul supposedly wrote.
I'm sure it sounds that way when your fingers are wedged in your ears ;-) I've already addressed this. Paul did believe Jesus had been here on Earth, and Paul ties him to historical 'earthy' events and people - his Jessean and Davidic descent "according to the flesh", his having come from a woman under the Mosaic law, his living sibling James, his instigation of the Eucharist ritual that involved him breaking bread and passing cups one night after supper, his crucifixion in Judea, his burial, etc. Paul mentions the name "Jesus" ~143 times in the 7 genuine epistles. There is no necessity for Paul to mention Nazareth given the occasion of his epistles.

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There is also no credible evidence that Nazareth existed at the time of Jesus.
Mostly importantly, the historical Jesus's existence does not depend on his having to have come from Nazareth. And there is evidence for Nazareth existing in the 1st century.

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You are starting to sound like a Christian fundy.
I think Jesus was a deluded and failed apocalyptic preacher and I think Yahweh does not exist. I also think most of the New Testament epistles are forgeries, and that the Gospels and Acts are best described as historical propaganda. I would make for a poor Christian fundamentalist haha.

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Please enlighten us to how the Jesus of Nazareth of the Bible was arrested and charged with sedition, insurrection or blasphemy and how the Romans were solely responsible for his crucifixion.
"the Jesus of Nazareth of the Bible"? My view of the historical Jesus is not completely synonymous with "the Jesus of Nazareth of the Bible". You seem to have a hard time distinguishing the difference between a discussion over a historical Jesus with "the Jesus of Nazareth of the Bible".

I think the historical Jesus was claiming to be the Messiah and probably made some sort of scene at the Temple. In the eyes of those who held power - the Romans and Jewish aristocracy - that was probably enough to warrant his execution.

Last edited by toejam; 11th February 2018 at 02:06 AM.
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