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  #51  
Old 5th February 2018, 04:37 PM
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Default Re: Why Christopher Hitchens believed in The Historical Jesus

Oh Christ, not again.


Q: why is it so important to some atheists to believe that there was no historical Jesus. In the case of those religions where we can be pretty confident that the originator actually did exist, it doesn't bother us (case in point: scientology) but why in this case?


Srsly, why? I am confident that in the atheist future, ideological wars will be fought over this.


btw: absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, per se.


Absence of evidence after a thorough search is evidence of absence of a sort, but that's a different kettle of fish.
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  #52  
Old 5th February 2018, 04:43 PM
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Default Re: Why Christopher Hitchens believed in The Historical Jesus

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toejam said View Post
Thanks for the welcome. I don't know what you want to know. I'm in Brisbane. I'm almost 36. I'm an instrumental music teacher / pro-musician. I've been an atheist since about 28 or so. Before that I was vaguely Christian in my youth, I considered myself "spiritual" in my teens and early 20s, would pray now and then, I went down a 'cosmic karma' phase there at one point. But when I was about 28 I realised I was probably just talking to myself and that 'cosmic karma' was bullshit. I've always had a peripheral interest in the study of Christian Origins / Historical Jesus. When I became an atheist, I began talking to lots of Christians (particularly the well-educated ones) and I developed an interest in the academic study of Christian Origins. I've spent the last 6-7 years reading intently on the topic. I find it fascinating. I find myself in line with the standard secular model - Jesus as some sort of Jewish apocalyptic preacher. I think that is where the evidence more likely points.
Ta TJ, I should have really pointed you to the Introduction thread as Mr Black said, maybe you could copy the above to that link if you want to, so that others can learn more about you. I've been really interested in the topic as well, but only for about 3-4 years. So you could probably show me some points that I haven't come across before. I'm probably a little different from most people on the forum as I never have been a Christian. I'm currently a small business owner and formerly an officer in the NSW Fire Brigades and a cop. Definitely not a scholar or a scientist, but I have a keen interest after reading dozens of books on the subject and debating Christians on other forums.
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  #53  
Old 5th February 2018, 05:04 PM
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Default Re: Why Christopher Hitchens believed in The Historical Jesus

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Like I said, the biggest problem is Carrier's reading of the genuine Pauline epistles. In them, Paul never says that Jesus was "manufactured" or crucified in outer-space.
I think Carrier nails most of your points here

Quote:
Paul does not say Jesus descended from David or was a descendant of David. Paul never says anything about his even having a father. Or being born. He only ever says his flesh, upon his incarnation, “came from the seed of David,” and was therefore Jewish and messianic flesh. He does not ever explain what he means by “came from.” The word Paul uses can sometimes mean birth in some other authors, but it is not the word Paul ever uses for birth (gennaô); instead, it’s the word he uses for God’s manufacture of Adam’s body from clay, and God’s manufacture of our future resurrection bodies in heaven (ginomai). Neither of which are born or have parents or are descendants of anyone.

In short, what Paul says in Romans 1:3 is, for Paul, weird. It’s weird even if Jesus existed. Christians even found it so weird themselves, they tried doctoring later manuscripts to replace this word that Paul only uses of manufacture and “coming to be,” with Paul’s preferred word for birth. So saying this passage is also weird if Jesus didn’t exist leaves us at a wash.

What I think is most likely is that Paul means what the first Christians he is mimicking no doubt meant, that God manufactured Jesus out of sperm taken directly from David’s belly exactly as prophecy declared he would (a concept already more rational than God manufacturing Eve from a rib taken directly from Adam’s side). Which, if Jesus didn’t exist, would most likely have occurred in outer space (although that’s not necessarily the case—ahistoricity is also compatible with earthly events imagined in distant mythical places, like Eden: OHJ, Ch. 11, n. 67—but the cosmic hypothesis has more evidence and precedent). More on that later. But it is this “cosmic sperm” hypothesis that Tweet thinks is implausible. He ignored, of course, all the evidence I presented in OHJ establishing it is plausible, and indeed the most plausible hypothesis yet on offer. But for now let’s just grasp the nature of the problem before we examine the solution.

The best response a historicist can make to Paul’s choice of phrasing is that Paul must be echoing an early belief in some kind of virgin birth theology that was already being attributed to Jesus, that he is describing God manufacturing Jesus’s body in the womb of Mary using Davidic seed. Though Paul never says that exactly (he never mentions Mary, and only mentions Jesus having a mother in an extended argument elsewhere that declares the mothers he is speaking of are allegorical). But notably, this is exactly what the Gospel nativities display: 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 (or by the Holy Spirit, acting as God’s agent).

So how can even the Gospels mean Jesus was born of the seed of David? They must be assuming exactly what I propose: that God took the seed of David and used it to manufacture a body for Jesus. In other words, miraculously. Not biologically. And if they can imagine God doing that, Paul could imagine God doing it. And if Paul imagined God doing it, he could as easily imagine God doing it in outer space as on earth. Because where a miracle happens is no longer bound to reality. It’s no longer actually a historical event (just one believed to be, but we well know never happened), hence no longer limited by earth biology.

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Paul may or may not have believed Jesus was born of a virgin or that he performed miracles during his ministry. Those are irrelevant to the problem being addressed, namely, Carrier's belief that is absent from Paul's epistles that Paul believed Jesus was "manufactured" and crucified in outer-space. This is not what Paul tells us.

Paul locates Jesus in Jerusalem. In 1 Thessalonians 2:14-15, Paul states that Judean Jews "killed Lord Jesus". Of course, Carrier thinks this is an interpolation, but he has no manuscript or other form of attestation to back it up. In Romans 9:33, Paul quotes a prophecy he believes has been fulfilled, that "a stumbling stone has been set in Zion". Zion is well understood to be Jerusalem. The prophecy continues: "Whoever believes in him will not be put to shame". Who else is the "him" here if not Jesus? In 1 Corinthians 1:23, Paul uses similar "stumbling" language to describe Jews who can't get over the fact that the Messiah whom Paul is preaching was crucified. The "stumbling stone" is obviously Jesus's crucifixion in Jerusalem.



Oh, so if Adam and Eve were created like Jesus, does that mean that Adam and Eve were also "manufactured/born from a woman under the law"? Did Adam and Eve also "descend from [King] David according to the flesh"? Were they also manufactured from the "root of [King David's father] Jesse"? Were Adam and Eve also "Israelites according to the flesh"? Don't be silly. Paul is not saying that Jesus was created like Adam and Eve.

The word Carrier translates to "manufactured" is γίνομαι and simply means "comes into being". Paul believes Jesus "came into being from a woman, under the law". Which law? The Mosaic law, obviously! This is decidedly not Paul saying that Jesus was "manufactured" in outer-space. This is Paul telling us that he believes Jesus was very much a legitimate Jew! Carrier has you duped.



Paul describes meeting Jesus's "brother" (ἀδελφοὶ) James in Galatians 1:19, and in 1 Corinthians 9:5 makes reference to a group of brothers whom were clearly a distinct group within the wider "Christian brethren" of apostles and followers. If we take the word ἀδελφοὶ in it's most usual meaning, Paul is talking about Jesus's actual brothers. The "Christian brethren" sense of ἀδελφοὶ doesn't quite work for Galatians 1:19 and 1 Corinthians 9:5 because surely "other apostles" and Cephas referred to in these verses would be part of the wider "Christians brethren", and yet the group of "brothers" in these verses are described as a separate from others. Why? Well, like I said, if we go with the usual meaning of the word, Paul is talking about Jesus's actual brothers. The word functions more or less like it does in English. And a brother James as the head of the early church after Jesus is corroborated with other sources. Carrier has you duped once again.



Paul doesn't use the phrase "Last Supper", sure, but this is irrelevant to my point. It also does not matter to my point whom Paul believes Jesus gave this teaching to. Paul describes these events happening "on the night that Jesus was taken away", specifically during and after "supper". The point is that Paul does not sound like he's describing someone whom he believes taught this from outer-space. Indeed, it sounds very earthly - Jesus is described as passing and breaking bread, drinking from cups after supper, etc. Don't let Carrier fool you. Paul is not speaking of an exclusively celestial-being here. He's talking about someone he thought had been here on Earth. A crucified Jewish cult leader.
Carrier DOES mention elsewhere that the issues of born of a woman, the brother of James and the seed of David are the strongest arguments from the really bad evidence of Jesus or rather lack of evidence of a historical Jesus. I think it's more parsimonious to think that Christians just made it up, just like they did for most of the other parts of the Bible.

I'd like to ask you the same question that I have asked others here - Which part of Jesus's supposed life do you think are the most historical/believable?

1. His birth?
2. His ministry?
3. His trial?
4. His crucifixion?

To me they are all only expanded allegories and it is not possible to be sure whether he never existed beyond being a celestial being in outer space in the minds of Christians or was an historical person. The evidence isn't enough on either side to make any judgments.

Last edited by SEG; 5th February 2018 at 06:00 PM.
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  #54  
Old 5th February 2018, 05:39 PM
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Default Re: Why Christopher Hitchens believed in The Historical Jesus

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wearestardust said View Post
Oh Christ, not again.
Hahahar! Oh the irony!

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Q: why is it so important to some atheists to believe that there was no historical Jesus. In the case of those religions where we can be pretty confident that the originator actually did exist, it doesn't bother us (case in point: scientology) but why in this case?
Short answer - it's not. I find it interesting to talk about. If it bores you, skip it. That's the beauty of participating in a forum, you can participate in the stuff that is of interest or ignore what isn't.

Quote:
btw: absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, per se.


Absence of evidence after a thorough search is evidence of absence of a sort, but that's a different kettle of fish.
Yeah but you have different levels of evidence of absence and I believe that the missing evidence in the Jesus story is a valid argument from silence of his existence.

Gilbert J. Garraghan writes on pages 149 of A Guide to Historical Method:

Quote:
To be valid, the argument from silence must fulfill two conditions: the writer[s] whose silence is invoked in proof of the non-reality of an alleged fact, would certainly have known about it had it been a fact; [and] knowing it, he would under the circumstances certainly have made mention of it. When these two conditions are fulfilled, the argument from silence proves its point with moral certainty.
Paul mentions practically nothing about Jesus's biography and should have if Jesus existed. Sure he may have elsewhere and those writings may have been lost, but wouldn't someone have made a copy of them somewhere?

If you find this stuff boring, just place me on ignore. I'll cope

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  #55  
Old 5th February 2018, 06:49 PM
toejam toejam is offline
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Default Re: Why Christopher Hitchens believed in The Historical Jesus

Paul: "γενομένου ἐκ σπέρματος Δαυὶδ κατὰ σάρκα" (Romans 1:3).

Literally, "having come of the seed of David according to the flesh".

The normal translation "descended from David according to the flesh" is entirely appropriate.

Carrier is just clutching for out-there "possible" alternative readings because he knows this verse deeply hurts his thesis - alongside others that include Paul referring to Jesus coming from "the root of Jesse (King David's father)" (Rom 15:12) and Jesus being an "Israelite / according to the flesh" (Rom 9:5).

Carrier continuously bangs on about how Paul doesn't say this or that specifically, and how Paul uses "odd" language choices. But what's the bigger missing elephant from Paul's epistles here? Surely it is Carrier's thesis itself. It's simply not there. Paul never says that God took space-sperm from a long-dead King David and used it to manufacture Jesus's body from outer-space, nor that this Jesus stayed in outer-space indefinitely and was crucified there. That's a bonkers reading of Paul's epistles. Don't fall for such nonsense.

Without Paul spelling this out, it's simply much more economic to read these verses as reflections of Paul's belief that Jesus had been here on Earth as an Israelite and Jew, "under the [Mosaic] law".

Here are some other examples of Paul useing "σάρκα" ("flesh") and "κατὰ σάρκα" ("according to the flesh"). Hopefully you will see that Paul uses it as a term referring to 'Earthly' people. Number 6 is particularly relevant.

1) "What then are we to say was gained by Abraham, our ancestor according to the flesh? For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God" (Rom 4:1)

2) "For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my own people, my kindred according to the flesh. 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 [i.e. Jesus]" (Rom 9:3)

3) "Now I am speaking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch then as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I glorify my ministry in order to make the people of my flesh [i.e. Jews] jealous, and thus save some of them" (Rom 11:14)

4) "Consider your own call, brothers, and how not many of you were wise according to the flesh. Not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth" (1 Cor 1:26)

5) "Consider the people of Israel according to the flesh. Are not those who eat the sacrifices partners in the altar?" (1 Cor 10:18)

6) "From now on, therefore, we have no regard for those according to the flesh. Even though we once knew Christ according to the flesh, we know him no longer in that way" (2 Cor 5:16)

7) "I ask that when I am present I need not show boldness by daring to oppose those who think we are acting according to the flesh. Indeed, we live in the flesh, but we do not wage war according to the flesh" (2 Cor 10:2)

Seriously mate. No one of any merit is buying Carrier's thesis that Paul thought Jesus was manufactured via cosmic-sperm and crucified in outer-space. Paul says clearly enough, and in various ways, that Jesus had been here on Earth, "according to the flesh". Don't be fooled by Carrier.

Last edited by toejam; 5th February 2018 at 07:09 PM.
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  #56  
Old 5th February 2018, 07:04 PM
toejam toejam is offline
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Default Re: Why Christopher Hitchens believed in The Historical Jesus

Now to your other question:

Quote:
I'd like to ask you the same question that I have asked others here - Which part of Jesus's supposed life do you think are the most historical/believable?

1. His birth?
2. His ministry?
3. His trial?
4. His crucifixion?
1. Yes, I think Jesus was born haha. Certainly not from a virgin.
2. In a nutshell, I think Jesus was a failed doomsday preacher, claiming that Yahweh was at any moment about to instigate a cataclysmic apocalypse to restore a 12-tribed Israel. I also suspect he was claiming to be the Messiah and that one needed to be on his side when Yahweh striked (which he evidently did not).
3. I doubt he had much of a trial. If it happened, it would have been short and swift.
4. Yes, I think Jesus was crucified.
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Old 5th February 2018, 07:47 PM
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Default Re: Why Christopher Hitchens believed in The Historical Jesus

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toejam said View Post
Now to your other question:



1. Yes, I think Jesus was born haha. Certainly not from a virgin.
2. In a nutshell, I think Jesus was a failed doomsday preacher, claiming that Yahweh was at any moment about to instigate a cataclysmic apocalypse to restore a 12-tribed Israel. I also suspect he was claiming to be the Messiah and that one needed to be on his side when Yahweh striked (which he evidently did not).
3. I doubt he had much of a trial. If it happened, it would have been short and swift.
4. Yes, I think Jesus was crucified.
Thanks, but which one of the above narratives do you think is the most historically correct?
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Old 5th February 2018, 07:53 PM
toejam toejam is offline
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Default Re: Why Christopher Hitchens believed in The Historical Jesus

^The first and the last.
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Old 5th February 2018, 08:03 PM
toejam toejam is offline
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Default Re: Why Christopher Hitchens believed in The Historical Jesus

Sorry, I've misunderstood your question. I'm not saying I think the Virgin Birth narrative is the most historical thing about Jesus. Far from it. Of those four, I think the apocalyptic discourses scattered throughout the synoptic gospels are likely the closest reflections of the historical Jesus.
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Old 5th February 2018, 08:52 PM
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Paul: "γενομένου ἐκ σπέρματος Δαυὶδ κατὰ σάρκα" (Romans 1:3).

Literally, "having come of the seed of David according to the flesh".

The normal translation "descended from David according to the flesh" is entirely appropriate.

Carrier is just clutching for out-there "possible" alternative readings because he knows this verse deeply hurts his thesis - alongside others that include Paul referring to Jesus coming from "the root of Jesse (King David's father)" (Rom 15:12) and Jesus being an "Israelite / according to the flesh" (Rom 9:5).

Carrier continuously bangs on about how Paul doesn't say this or that specifically, and how Paul uses "odd" language choices. But what's the bigger missing elephant from Paul's epistles here? Surely it is Carrier's thesis itself. It's simply not there. Paul never says that God took space-sperm from a long-dead King David and used it to manufacture Jesus's body from outer-space, nor that this Jesus stayed in outer-space indefinitely and was crucified there. That's a bonkers reading of Paul's epistles. Don't fall for such nonsense.

Without Paul spelling this out, it's simply much more economic to read these verses as reflections of Paul's belief that Jesus had been here on Earth as an Israelite and Jew, "under the [Mosaic] law".

Here are some other examples of Paul useing "σάρκα" ("flesh") and "κατὰ σάρκα" ("according to the flesh"). Hopefully you will see that Paul uses it as a term referring to 'Earthly' people. Number 6 is particularly relevant.

1) "What then are we to say was gained by Abraham, our ancestor according to the flesh? For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God" (Rom 4:1)

2) "For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my own people, my kindred according to the flesh. 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 [i.e. Jesus]" (Rom 9:3)

3) "Now I am speaking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch then as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I glorify my ministry in order to make the people of my flesh [i.e. Jews] jealous, and thus save some of them" (Rom 11:14)

4) "Consider your own call, brothers, and how not many of you were wise according to the flesh. Not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth" (1 Cor 1:26)

5) "Consider the people of Israel according to the flesh. Are not those who eat the sacrifices partners in the altar?" (1 Cor 10:18)

6) "From now on, therefore, we have no regard for those according to the flesh. Even though we once knew Christ according to the flesh, we know him no longer in that way" (2 Cor 5:16)

7) "I ask that when I am present I need not show boldness by daring to oppose those who think we are acting according to the flesh. Indeed, we live in the flesh, but we do not wage war according to the flesh" (2 Cor 10:2)

Seriously mate. No one of any merit is buying Carrier's thesis that Paul thought Jesus was manufactured via cosmic-sperm and crucified in outer-space. Paul says clearly enough, and in various ways, that Jesus had been here on Earth, "according to the flesh". Don't be fooled by Carrier.
Have you been following Vridar? He has a good post on the crucified in outer-spacestuff. From what I have already quoted to you:
Quote:
Paul does not say Jesus descended from David or was a descendant of David. Paul never says anything about his even having a father. Or being born. He only ever says his flesh, upon his incarnation, “came from the seed of David,” and was therefore Jewish and messianic flesh. He does not ever explain what he means by “came from.” The word Paul uses can sometimes mean birth in some other authors, but it is not the word Paul ever uses for birth (gennaô); instead, it’s the word he uses for God’s manufacture of Adam’s body from clay, and God’s manufacture of our future resurrection bodies in heaven (ginomai). Neither of which are born or have parents or are descendants of anyone.
So Paul doesn't really speak of Jesus having a mother or a father or brothers or sisters does he? He doesn't tell of Jesus being in town with his bros or sitting down by the fireside with his dad. He does talk of being "born of a woman" and uses other strange language when talking of his beloved Jesus.

A beloved Jesus that he never met, except in a blinding "vision" which Paul himself makes no mention of his conversion on the road to Damascus in the epistles, where Acts has 3 contradictory accounts:

Acts 9:3-8: Paul was blinded by a light and fell down, then heard Jesus, who told Paul that he would be told what to do when he was in the city. His men did not see the light, but heard the voice. They remained standing.

Acts 22:6-11: Paul told the people he was blinded by a light and fell down, then heard Jesus, who again told Paul that he would be told what to do when he was in Damascus. This time, his men saw the light but, unlike Paul, were not blinded, and did not hear the voice.

Acts 26.13-19: Paul told Agrippa that he saw a brilliant light and heard Jesus, who gave him his mission, but did not command him to go to Damascus. He fell down, but there is no mention of blindness, nor is there any mention of the men seeing or hearing anything, although for some reason they also fell down. He told those at Damascus and Jerusalem about his conversion experience.

After his life changing encounter with Jesus, you would think that Paul would have returned to Jerusalem to track down the disciples (except that he never knew any, he only knew apostles) and research what they knew. He could have gone back and questioned the Sanhedrin and the High Priest after letting them know about his new knowledge. But he does not return to Jerusalem for three years and instead fucks off to Arabia???

The stories of Paul just get crazier and crazier, from busting out of jail, to getting flogged and sentenced to a good old stoning, to walking up to synagogues unannounced and poor, yet instantly converting the whole lot.

Don't get duped by your Christian friends, hardly anything in the Bible is historical, it's more like hysterical.
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