The frequent readers of this site know I lean towards the mythicists position.
Since we are feeling lazy, Sunday and all, this post should be a good read.
This being our 1001 post on this site, we ask with Celsus
But that certain Christians and all Jews should maintain, the former that there has already descended, the latter that there will descend, upon the earth a certain God, or son of a God, who will make the inhabitants of the earth righteous, is a most shameless assertion, and one the refutation of which does not need many words. He is said by the Christians to have already come, but by the Jews that his advent as Messiah is still future. What is the meaning of such a descent upon the part of God? Was it in order to learn what goes on amongst men? Does he not know all things? And if he does know, why does he not make men better? Is it then not possible for him, by means of his divine power, to make men better, unless he send some one for that special purpose? Then God does know all things indeed, but does not make men better, nor is able to do so by His divine power! If God Himself will come down to men, then he has left his own abode, although if you were to change a single one, even the least, of things on earth, all things would be overturned and disappear.
Now I suppose God, being unknown amongst men, and deeming himself on that account to have less than his due, would desire to make himself known, and to make trial both of those who believe upon him and of those who do not, like those of mankind who have recently come into the possession of riches, and who make a display of their wealth; and thus they testify to an excessive but very mortal ambition on the part of God. God does not desire to make himself known for his own sake, but because he wishes to bestow upon us the knowledge of himself for the sake of our salvation, in order that those who accept it may become virtuous and be saved, while those who do not accept may be shown to be wicked and be punished. After so long a period of time, then, did God now bethink himself of making men live righteous lives, but neglect to do so before? It is perfectly manifest that they babble about God in a way that is neither holy nor reverential, like those who in the Bacchic mysteries introduce phantoms and objects of terror.
The belief has spread among them, from a misunderstanding of the accounts of these occurrences, that after lengthened cycles of time, and the returns and conjunctions of planets, conflagrations and floods are wont to happen. Because after the last flood, which took place in the time of Deucalion, the lapse of time, agreeably to the vicissitude of all things, requires a conflagration, this made them give utterance to the erroneous opinion that God will descend, and come down bearing fire like a torturer.
Enquiring minds want to know
In my list of people occupying the lowest rank in society, the so called scum of society, I have politicians, police and pastors. I find pastors with access to the internet the worst type of persons. They are likely to have read volumes of tracts showing the impossibility of the bible narratives but still spread them as truth, gospel truths.
Pastor James Miller in his recent post has decided to convince his followers and anyone who happens on his site that the story of Jesus is factual.
He starts by telling us
Years ago I made an intentional exploration of the question of whether or not God was real. I made a point of studying everything I could about it. I read the holy books of many different religions with only one question in mind – could any of this be true?
and it is only fair for us to ask what were his findings.
Without giving us an answer for the above story, he moves on to write
One of the tests scholars may use to evaluate the validity of a historical claim is called “the criterion of embarrassment.” They say that if a story from history is embarrassing to the author or to the hero of the story, it is probably true.
and I guess you know where this is going.
I will not venture to quote the rest of his balderdash but I would like to offer a counter explanation. One, if the story of Jesus was meant to fulfill prophesy as the christian claims, then descriptions of a humble background are not embarrassing but actually buttress the story they are spreading. Lookie, he was a humble prince, he is the son of god, you know the nonsense.
In the case of Jesus narrative, we can safely say he doesn’t know what is being written about him. He has no room to be embarrassed.
It is also untrue that the criterion of embarrassment is always true. Reading about the saints, one gets the feeling that they took pride in some things that most of us would be ashamed to accept in public. There are instances you read of saints who didn’t shower or other things that a modern day pastor would be embarrassed to write about themselves.
In the discussions with the religious leaders of the time, Jesus is said to awe them with his wit, from a young age. In what parallel world would this be embarrassing to someone’s hero.
The christian cannot say the hanging on a cross is embarrassing to their hero. Did they want it written he was killed by the firing squad? Or killed by the guillotine as they used to do in France? The cross instead of embarrassing their hero or them, actually gives them a lot of pride. They like it, wear them everywhere. They claim it is a sign of great sacrifice, they would not want it any other way.
That women were the first at the tomb, instead of being embarrassing is to be seen as a welcome message to women that they too can be leaders and members of the church. There is nothing in Jesus story that can be interpreted as embarrassing to the authors of the story or to the hero of the story. It fits smugly with what they wanted to achieve. They wanted a humble, ass riding, virgin born, cross dying king and that is what they bequeathed the world. To think otherwise, is as my friend would say, to be full of shit.
I contend therefore that the criterion of embarrassment doesn’t in anyway lend support to the Jesus story and in fact destroys it.
This is an old post adopted from M.M Mangasarian’s book The truth about Jesus: Is he myth and I think given that some Christians will soon be wailing that their lawd has been crucified, I thought this would be good entertainment for those who find the narrative wanting in accuracy and significance..
Mangasarian has this running as a conversation between the apostles and a skeptic.
How long have you known Jesus?
I have known him for one year.
And I for two.
And I for three.
Has any of you known him for more than three years?
Was he with his apostles for one year or for three?
No, for three.
You are not certain, then, how long Jesus was with his apostles.
How old was Jesus when crucified?
No, about thirty-three.
No, he was much older, about fifty.
You cannot tell with any certainty, then, his age at the time of his death.
You say he was tried and crucified in Jerusalem before your own eyes, can you remember the date of this great event?
Were you present when Jesus was taken down from the cross?
We were not.
You cannot tell, then, whether he was dead when taken down.
We have no personal knowledge.
Were you present when he was buried?
We were not, because we were in hiding for our lives.
You do not know, therefore, whether he was actually buried, or where he was buried.
We do not.
Were any of you present when Jesus came forth from the grave?
Not one of us was present,
Then, you were not with him when he was taken down from the cross; you were not with him when he was interred, and you were not present when he rose from the grave.
We were not.
When, therefore, you say, he was dead, buried and rose again, you are relying upon the testimony of others?
Will you mention the names of some of the witnesses who saw Jesus come forth from the tomb?
Mary Magdalene, and she is here and may be questioned.
Were you present, Mary, when the angels rolled away the stone, and when Jesus came forth from the dead?
No, when I reached the burying place early in the morning, the grave had already been vacated, and there was no one sleeping in it.
You saw him, then, as the apostles did, _after_ he had risen?
But you did not see anybody rise out of the grave.
I did not.
Are there any witnesses who saw the resurrection?
There are many who saw him after the resurrection.
But if neither they nor you saw him dead, and buried, and did not see him rise, either, how can you tell that a most astounding and supposedly impossible miracle had taken place between the time you saw him last and when you saw him again two or three days after? Is it not more natural to suppose that, being in a hurry on account of the approaching Sabbath, Jesus, if ever crucified, was taken down from the cross before he had really died, and that he was not buried, as rumor states, but remained in hiding; and his showing himself to you under cover of darkness and in secluded spots and in the dead of night only, would seem to confirm this explanation. You admit also that the risen Jesus did not present himself at the synagogues of the people, in the public streets, or at the palace of the High Priest to convince them of his Messiahship.
Do you not think that if he had done this, it would then have been impossible to deny his resurrection? Why, then, did Jesus hide himself after he came out of the grave? Why did he not show himself also to his enemies? Was he still afraid of them, or did he not care whether they believed or not? If so, why are _you_ trying to convert them? The question waits for a reasonable answer; Why did not Jesus challenge the whole world with the evidence of his resurrection? You say you saw him occasionally, a few moments at a time, now here, and now there, and finally on the top of a mountain whence he was caught up in a cloud and disappeared altogether. But that “cloud” has melted away, the sky is clear, and there is no Jesus visible there. The cloud, then, had nothing to hide. It was unnecessary to call in a cloud to close the career of your Christ.The grave is empty, the cloud has vanished. Where is Christ? In heaven! Ah, you have at last removed him to a world unknown, to the undiscovered country. Leave him there! Criticism, doubt, investigation, the light of day, cannot cross its shores. Leave him there!
Bethlehem, 2,014 years ago, in a certain cattle enclosure:
Joseph (Looking perplexed): Immaculate conception, huh.
Mary: Yes dear. Completely immaculate. The lord is great. I will praise his name forever.
Short pause. Joseph scratches his head, while looking at the new born baby.
Joseph: He looks slightly Chinese.
Mary: Well, he is supposed to be a saviour of the entire world. Perhaps Chinese are more acceptable worldwide. The lord is great, and his ways incomprehensible to us humans.
Joseph: Hmmm. Say, this angel who originally told you about your immaculate conception: was he Chinese?
Mary: No, he wasn’t. Look, what are you trying to drive at, Joseph?
Joseph: Nothing much. It’s just that, well, this is all a bit overwhelming. I wasn’t expecting our first baby to be Asian.
Mary: I know. The Lord of Hosts is quite overwhelming. But his ways are perfect, for the Lord is great. I will praise his name forever.
Joseph: There will be a lot of awkward questions from our friends and relatives.
Mary: You are over-thinking this whole thing, my dear. We should praise and worship the lord for giving us such a precious gift. Through us, the saviour of humankind has been born.
Joseph (Sighing): I suppose you are right.
All around the two new parents, the cattle chew cuds, and stomp their feet. A few burp. And Joseph continues to gaze at the new-born, a puzzled expression on his face.
Happy Festive Season, Everyone!
N/B: For access to all anecdotes in this series, check out List of all “Chronicles of YHWH” notes.
by Albert Schweitzer.
I have come to the end of this book. It was a great read. In his last chapter he writes
There is nothing more negative than the result of the critical study of the Life of Jesus.
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.
I am yet to read Bert Erhman’s book where he argues for a historical Jesus. I hope I will. I am interested in knowing his Jesus, how he clothes him and makes him real to walk in Jerusalem and beyond that how he has gotten people to believe his story.
After documenting in a thorough way the impossibility of a historical Jesus, he has words of hope for the believer. He writes
But the truth is, it is not Jesus as historically known, but Jesus as spiritually arisen within men, who is significant for our time and can help it. Not the historical Jesus, but the spirit which goes forth from him and in the spirits of men strives for new influence and rule, is that which overcomes the world.
As for me, it is enough to that there is no historical Jesus, as for his spirit, that is for believers.