also titled will the real Jesus stand up.
Justin tells us those who are Jesus skeptics are in the extremist camp of the non-religious. I think this makes me an extremist. I am going ahead of myself.
When I read this quote below, I didn’t know what to do with myself. Laugh. Cry. Bang my head against a wall. Then I remembered what Nietzsche wrote in Thus spake Zarathustra about other gods laughing to their death when one of the gods said there is no god but god. Justin writes
From its inception, Christianity has been a public religion making claims that could be held to historical scrutiny in the place it was birthed. That’s not true of other religions. The precepts of Buddhism originated in the mind of Buddha alone. The ancient writings of Hinduism derive from mystical teachings that are not located in a historical framework. Islam is constituted by the teaching and stories of the Quran as related to Muhammad in a private angelic visitation.
I think irony is lost to Justin on the similarities that exist between what he says of other religions and his religion. How for example can the claim of a virgin birth be scrutinized? Do we have any other extant material apart from the claims of the bible about this birth? In fact, how can miracles be proved historically? Say for example the story of Jonah eating a fish or is it riding a fish? The claims of Paul- the foremost Christian evangelist if he existed- came from his mind alone. The stories such as those of the OT where we have giants having intercourse with the daughters of men are mystical teachings, but to Justin, only other religions have these. Christianity is all evidence based.
Justin then tells us that the death of Jesus has a greater attestation that Caesar crossing the Rubicon. First, even if that were the case, no one is going to hell for doubting the crossing the Rubicon. If Christianity were true, its claims would require more stringent attestations because people’s future eternal lives depend on it. The argument that other historical figures are not doubted as much as Jesus is not an argument in favour of Christianity. Any reasonable person would demand that god, if it were real, would present a much better case for us to believe.
Justin tells us the gospels are evidence for the life of Jesus. Some scholars having looked at the stories in the gospels have concluded the Jesus of the gospels did not exist and have created their own Jesus. We have Jesus the Zealot, the guru, the husband and many more. Is the bible and the gospels specifically a work of history or a miraculous work brought into being by the actions of deity? Did the biographers write what they saw, or what were they inspired to write?
Justin writes we should read the bible differently that we do other historical documents.
In his book, the quest for historical Jesus, Albert Schweitzer writes
The Jesus of Nazareth who came forward publicly as the messiah, who preached the ethic of the Kingdom of God, who founded the Kingdom of Heaven upon earth, and died to give his work its final consecration never had any existence. He is a figure designed by rationalism, endowed with life by liberalism and clothed by modern theology in an historical garb.
but Bruno Bauer said it best when he wrote
The formation of the church and the arising of the idea that the Jesus of the Gospels is the messiah are not two different things, they are one and the same thing, they coincide and synchronize; but the idea was only the imaginative conception of the church, the first movement of its life, the religious expression of its experience.
The question which has so much exercised the minds of men-whether Jesus was the historic Christ- is answered in the sense that everything that the historical Christ is, everything that is said of him, everything that is known of him, belongs to the world of imagination, that is, of the imagination of the Christian community, and therefore has nothing to do with any man who belongs to the real world.
Maybe Justin should read Renan’s life of Jesus or Spencer’s but most of all, I recommend as a good place to being, Walter R Cassels’ Supernatural religion.