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What do we know about Jesus?

Posted Mar 20, '14 at 7:54pm

09philj

09philj

2,585 posts

It is generally accepted among historians that only to facts about Jesus are almost certainly true:
1. That he was baptised by John the Baptist. (From the reliable source Josephus)
2. That he was executed on the orders of the Roman Pontius Pilate.
No other information is from a reliable source, so we can only speculate. What do you think?

 

Posted Mar 20, '14 at 8:06pm

Freakenstein

Freakenstein

9,654 posts

Moderator

Nos Monte Vesuviem quam unum deus intellexerunt, sed nihil curo.

 

Posted Mar 20, '14 at 8:17pm

MattEmAngel

MattEmAngel

7,577 posts

I think this thread is going to quickly devolve into the "Atheism VS Theism" thread. I noticed that you ignored the Bible as a "reliable source," so you're already biased towards the question, which is essentially a flame war waiting to happen.

Not worth answering.

 

Posted Mar 20, '14 at 8:36pm

Ernie15

Ernie15

13,583 posts

Knight

I noticed that you ignored the Bible as a "reliable source,"


Now that's an entirely different debate in and of itself.

My one cent: The fact is, we know very little about Jesus or anything that went on in Biblical times, but I don't see that as a reason to advocate against the entire religion as a whole. I go by the definition that religion is based on faith, not facts, and while I don't practice any religion (I don't have faith in anything), there's no reason why other people shouldn't have faith in something relatively unknown if it makes them happy.

Just my input to keep this from turning into an Atheism vs. Theism thread.
 

Posted Mar 20, '14 at 8:52pm

FishPreferred

FishPreferred

2,097 posts

I noticed that you ignored the Bible as a "reliable source," so you're already biased towards the question


This is not (pron. not) related to any bias on his part. There are stringent limitations upon what sources can qualify as "reliable". At best, we may conclude that it meets two criteria; being a primary source, and having high spacial/temporal proximity to some of the events described. It falls far short of every other standard. It has no support from independent sources. It is derived from highly biased and conflicting accounts. It has been edited at length and rewritten several times over.

Personally, I would call the claims of Josephus into question as well.
 

Posted Mar 21, '14 at 12:00pm

09philj

09philj

2,585 posts

Personally, I would call the claims of Josephus into question as well.

Why? I like history; tell me more.

I think this thread is going to quickly devolve into the "Atheism VS Theism" thread.

Not if we keep it confined to a historical rather than metaphysical stance. I see it as being more likely devolve into a debate on the trustworthiness of any historical source. I ignored the Bible as a historical source for the reasons FishPreferred gave, but I would dispute whether it actually was first written at any time near to the events it describes. Additionally, there are multiple parts which are evidently wrong. For example, the whole basis of the christmas story (the census) makes no sense:
1. Nothing is known in history of a general census by Augustus.
2. In a Roman census Joseph would not have had to travel to Bethlehem, and Mary would not have had to travel at all.
3. No Roman census would have been made in Judea during the reign of Herod.
4. Josephus records no such census and it would have been a notable innovation.

Now, to look at things from an alternative view, at the time Jesus would have been active as a faith leader, (I will assume this is true, but it may not be) many people were trying to get people to follow their teachings, so Jesus must have had something they didn't. Was he truly special? Did he have a greater conviction? Or was he just a better liar?
 

Posted Mar 21, '14 at 12:29pm

Moegreche

Moegreche

3,385 posts

Moderator

I would claim no historical knowledge whatsoever about Jesus. In fact, I would call into question the basic claim that he existed in the first place! The similarities to other mythologies cannot be overlooked and serve to demotivate the notion that Jesus was a real person. (Philosophically, this last claim is tricky and subtle and depends on the theory of reference that's in the background).
To be clear, I also don't claim to know that Jesus didn't exist. I find the claim that he existed to be quite dubious, but not enough to tip the scales beyond withholding a belief. And since I'm withholding belief, I'm not even in the market for knowledge in this respect.

 

Posted Mar 21, '14 at 1:12pm

09philj

09philj

2,585 posts

I would call into question the basic claim that he existed in the first place!


A man named Jesus existed. This, at least, is probably true as the Roman records say he was executed by them on the orders of Pontius Pilate. The rest is questionable.
 

Posted Mar 21, '14 at 2:18pm

Moegreche

Moegreche

3,385 posts

Moderator

Huh, thanks for pointing that out. I wasn't aware that there were such historical records in place. And I would think that Roman record keeping would be pretty reliable.
A quick Google search also revealed this on Jesus' Wikipedia page: "Virtually all modern scholars of antiquity agree that Jesus existed historically". I tend to cede to experts in a particular domain, though I (for some reason I can't put my finger on) can't seem to revise my belief withholding.
In the same Wikepedia article (located here ) there is also this fact that stood out:
"The first-century works of historian Flavius Josephus ... refer to at least twenty different people with the name Jesus."
This is at least an explanation for a Jesus being crucified. But it may well not be the best explanation (given the other information in the background, I'm leaning towards thinking this isn't even close to the best explanation).
On the plus side, my doxastic quandary strongly motivates doxastic involuntarism!

 

Posted Mar 21, '14 at 6:09pm

Minotaur55

Minotaur55

1,398 posts

Knight

Nos Monte Vesuviem quam unum deus intellexerunt, sed nihil curo.


I'm sorry but you cannot speak Palestinianese in this forum. I'm afraid I'm going to have to ban you.

Now that's an entirely different debate in and of itself.


I think Matt means it is easy for this thread to curve in a direction similar to "Atheists VS Theists". He's not wrong. From what I see the end of this thread has already begun.

I see it as being more likely devolve into a debate on the trustworthiness of any historical source.


Isn't that every thread in WEPR that has appeared in the last year (2013 I mean)?

Here is my input. The truth is we cannot have a stable input about the historically recorded events of Jesus because his whole existence is debatable, and the sources that record his existence are not intended to be used for historical verification - the bible didn't record history. This is a major factor.

Second, even if we were to prove Jesus existed we still need to question the possibility of his actions. The only source recording (in a slightly indirect manner) his life and actions was the bible and very little in the bible has been confirmed to be truth in scientific practices. This suggests we need to retrace his footsteps and find the truth as to what he had done in his life - that is if you accept the premise he lived.

A man named Jesus existed. This, at least, is probably true as the Roman records say he was executed by them on the orders of Pontius Pilate. The rest is questionable.


A man named Jesus existed, yes. But there isn't a lot of evidence to support that this is the same Jesus the bible speaks of - the son of God, capable of walking on water, and dying for man's sins.
 
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