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non-Biblical evidence of Jesus' Existence?

post #1 of 40
Thread Starter 
I thought that his crucifixion was on record with the Romans. And that other non-Biblical texts referred to him as well. Now, some say this is wrong?
What is the evidence? How do you judge it to be authentic or not?

If you don't believe that Jesus existed, do you believe that Paul (who apparently knew Jesus) was real? What about Simon Peter (the first pope)?
Thanks!
post #2 of 40
If you google for "historical jesus" you'll get thousands of different points of view! Nobody knows for sure, and it seems nobody can agree on the issue, either.
post #3 of 40
Interesting link, NM. I like it.
post #4 of 40
Jesus is mentioned a surprising amount in the Talmud, both directly and indrectly. Sometimes euphemism is used to refer to him, such as "a certain Galilean" in lieu of saying his name.

Some of the mentionings are very "un pc" to put it mildly, some are neutral, some are just kinda strange.

Mary is also mentioned. She is called a hairdresser, which again may be a euphemism. A whole book could be written about the use of euphemism and double entendre in the Talmud but that is another subject.
post #5 of 40
Try this site:

http://pages.ca.inter.net/~oblio/home.htm

Quote:
Historical Jesus or Jesus Myth: The Jesus Puzzle
Did Christianity begin with an historical Jesus or a Jesus myth? Was the original Jesus a man or a mythical savior god? Solving the Jesus Puzzle through the Christian and ancient-world record, from the Pauline epistles to the Gospels to the second century Christian apologists, from Philo to Josephus to Jewish and Hellenistic philosophy.

Christian faith evolved from a Jesus myth to an historical Jesus. New Testament scholarship needs to uncover that original evolution and rewrite the history of Western religion.
and this:

http://www.medmalexperts.com/POCM/index.html

Quote:


The POCM web site introduces you to the mainstream modern scholarship about Christianity's origins in ancient Pagan religion.

You already know Christmas trees and Easter eggs were originally Pagan, and you probably know the traditional mid-winter and spring timing of the two holidays was Pagan too. Mildly interesting. Not what you'll find here.

What you'll discover here is that Christianity inherited everything from the Pagans. The core of Christianity -- the worship of a dying Godman who is resurrected, ascends into heaven and brings salvation to mankind -- was also the core of a number of ancient Pagan religions that began in the Near East two thousand years before Jesus.

Christian theology borrowed more than the archaic myth of the dying-resurrected Godman. Initiation by baptism, communion with the God through a holy meal that represented the flesh of the dead God, the Holy Spirit, monotheism, and immortality of the soul were all core beliefs of many ancient faiths. They were simply part of ancient Mediterranean culture.

Christianity also borrowed elements of Jesus' mythology: the virgin birth, the miracles (including turning water into wine, walking on water, and especially healing the sick) were all common elements of pre-Christian Pagan religions. Mithras had 'em. So did Dionysus, Attis, Osiris, and Orpheus. And more. And they had them centuries before Christianity was a twinkle in Saint Paul's eye.

post #6 of 40
Of course there's nothing new under the sun, and every religion that ever existed borrowed metaphors, rituals, and stories from the ones before it. Saying that doesn't strike me as evidence that a particular religion or religious story is invalid, or that Jesus didn't exist.

CS Lewis wrote about his conversion in his letters. He and some of his friends met regularly to discuss religion and philosophy, and one night he had a realization.
Quote:
What Dyson and Tolkien showed me was this: that if I met the idea of sacrifice in a Pagan story I didn’t mind it at all: again, that if I met the idea of a god sacrificing himself to himself (cf. the quotation opposite the title page of Dymer) I liked it very much and was mysteriously moved by it: again the idea of the dying and reviving god (Balder, Adonis, Bacchus) similarly moved me provided I met it anywhere except in the Gospels. The reason was that in Pagan stories I was prepared to feel the myth as profound and suggestive of meanings beyond my grasp even tho’ I could not say in prose ‘what it meant.’

Now the story of Christ is simply a true myth: a myth working on us in the same way as the others, but with this tremendous difference that it really happened: and one must be content to accept it in the same way, remembering that it is God’s myth where the others are men’s myths: ie the Pagan stories are God expressing Himself through the minds of poets, using such images as he found there, while Christianity is God expressing Himself through what we call ‘real things.’ Therefore it is true, not in the sense of being a ‘description’ of God (that no finite mind could take in) but in the sense of being the way in which God chooses to (or can) appear to our faculties.
post #7 of 40
I think that there are several questions here that need to be separated. The first question is whether Jesus actually existed as an historical person. The second is whether Jesus was God. The third is whether the various accretions that have occurred in Christianity over the years are actually Christian in nature. A subset of the third question is whether something drawn into Christianity from the outside, like Christmas, can be "Christianized" or whether it is always tainted by its non-Christian religion.

This is a topic where we need to work forward. To say that non-Christian things have been drawn into Christianity tells us nothing about whether Christ existed in history or whether Christ was God. To attack the notion that Christ was God by saying that the various god like things about Him were derived from other religions says nothing about whether He existed in history as such.

The historical record of Christ's existence is contained in the gospels. Even if we discard the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, we still have the post-resurrection books. To say that those are all fakes would imply that some sort of massive conspiracy existed in historical time perpetrated by people who would have been Christ's contemporaries. So the obvious question is not where is the extra biblical evidence that Christ existed, but where is the contemporary evidence that He did not.

As for extra biblical evidence about the existence of Christ, why should there be any? Christ wasn't Caesar. There were no monuments to Him in his lifetime. He ruled no nations. He won no wars. In history at the time, He was an insignificant person. A lack of an extra biblical record proves nothing. There is not, for example, any evidence in Egypt that Moses existed. This does not mean that Moses did not exist. On the face of things, given that Christ as a historical personage was a poor carpenter and a non-citizen of the Roman Empire, I would say that books of the New Testament provide an extremely rich historical record of him for the time. I don't think we know as much about any other common person of the era.
post #8 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by Unagidon
I think that there are several questions here that need to be separated. The first question is whether Jesus actually existed as an historical person.
Thi is the question of the OP.

Quote:
The second is whether Jesus was God.
This is not and is irrelevant.

Quote:
The third is whether the various accretions that have occurred in Christianity over the years are actually Christian in nature. A subset of the third question is whether something drawn into Christianity from the outside, like Christmas, can be "Christianized" or whether it is always tainted by its non-Christian religion.
Also

gtg. More later...
post #9 of 40
Quote:
You already know Christmas trees and Easter eggs were originally Pagan, and you probably know the traditional mid-winter and spring timing of the two holidays was Pagan too. Mildly interesting. Not what you'll find here.

What you'll discover here is that Christianity inherited everything from the Pagans. The core of Christianity -- the worship of a dying Godman who is resurrected, ascends into heaven and brings salvation to mankind -- was also the core of a number of ancient Pagan religions that began in the Near East two thousand years before Jesus.
I agree that the divinity of Christ and the relationship of pagan ritual to Christian ritual is off topic and irrelevant. But I was responding to the quote above and I think my point was that these things are irrelevant to the question of whether Jesus existed in history.
post #10 of 40
Thread Starter 
I think it is quite a conspiracy theory to say that Jesus of Nazareth (regardless of his manli- and/or godliness) never walked the earth.

People who do not think Jesus was an historical person-- Do you think that John the Baptist was real (apparently he has more evidence)? and the 12 apostles? What do you say of the execution of Jesus' brother, James? Is there good reason to think that these people did not exist as well? Just curious. The idea that Jesus is completely mythical is new to me. Thank you for your well-thought out replies, I am learning from everyone here.

I'd also like to give my opinion, though it isn't completely formed. I think that Jesus was a real and remarkable man. The most important part of his life was neither his birth nor his death. These have been embellished with pagan myth as the POCM article says. It's what Jesus said and did as he lived that is most important, and which does not get enough attention. The Sermon on the Mount. Ministering to Women, "sinners", lepers and other socially disadvantaged people. How many pagan gods did that? Love one another as I have loved you. Was that not original? More important to me than a virgin birth or a resurrection.
post #11 of 40
Katiemare, I suggest you read the Jesus Puzzle site and then talk about conspiracy theories.

As well, here is an article by Robert Price who has written 2 books on the Jesus Myth topic. This article is part of a debate, so you can see both sides. Price argues that historians have to depend on probabilities. And the idea a supernatural godman really existed, so similar to the hero archetype common in many other previous religions, is just not probable. If one wants to put aside reason and depend on faith, that is a choice one can make, of course.

But it is a choice, not a given.

http://www.infidels.org/library/mode...in/price1.html
post #12 of 40
Daryll, why do you try so hard to convince everyone that Jesus is a myth and the Bible isn't believable?
post #13 of 40
And now, the extra- Biblical "corroborating historical evidence" the OP asked for:

Quote:
Philo, one of the most renowned writers the Jewish race has produced, was born before the beginning of the Christian Era, and lived for many years after the time at which Jesus is supposed to have died. His home was in or near Jerusalem, where Jesus is said to have preached, to have performed miracles, to have been crucified, and to have risen from the dead. Had Jesus done these things, the writings of Philo would certainly contain some record of his life. Yet this philosopher, who must have been familiar with Herod's massacre of the innocents, and with the preaching, miracles and death of Jesus, had these things occurred; who wrote an account of the Jews, covering this period, and discussed the very questions that are said to have been near to Christ's heart, never once mentioned the name of, or any deed connected with, the reputed Savior of the world.

In the closing years of the first century, Josephus, the celebrated Jewish historian, wrote his famous work on "The Antiquities of the Jews." In this work, the historian made no mention of Christ, and for two hundred years after the death of Josephus, the name of Christ did not appear in his history. There were no printing presses in those days. Books were multiplied by being copied. It was, therefore, easy to add to or change what an author had written. The church felt that Josephus ought to recognize Christ, and the dead historian was made to do it. In the fourth century, a copy of "The Antiquities of the Jews" appeared, in which occurred this passage: "Now, there was about this time, Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man, for he was a doer of wonderful works; a teacher of such men as received the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews and many of the Gentiles. He was the Christ; and when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him; for he appeared to them alive again the third day, as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him; and the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day."

Such is the celebrated reference to Christ in Josephus. A more brazen forgery was never perpetrated.
http://www.infidels.org/library/hist...ally_live.html

Interesting article.
post #14 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by sleeping queen
Daryll, why do you try so hard to convince everyone that Jesus is a myth and the Bible isn't believable?
Because they ask me to, dear one. I present the evidence. People can make up their own minds. I really don't care.
post #15 of 40
:
post #16 of 40
Non-Biblical writings: Tacitus, Pliny, Josephus, Seutonius, Thallus:

http://www.infidels.org/library/mode...er/hojfaq.html

Quote:
Some Christian apologists commonly claim that the events described in the New Testament are independently attested to in writings by non-Christians, thereby supporting the accuracy of the New Testament. ... I have omitted discussion of references to Jesus in the Talmud...as well as the gnostic Christian texts. While these writings are themselves important, they tend to contradict New Testament accounts...
... it is known that some texts have been corrupted over time, or have been changed by unscrupulous copyists. Thus, it is not always possible to separate later interpolations from the original writings. ...Second of all, some texts have been lost, and are only known through quotations in secondary sources. In addition, not only have some alleged references to Jesus been lost as primary sources, but some early criticisms of Christianity were suppressed by the early Church and no longer survive. Furthermore, of the surviving texts, both pro-Christian and otherwise, many texts cannot be dated with precision, or survive in more than one form. ...

A reader of the ancient texts is struck by how little the literature has to say about events in the New Testament. For example, Herod's infamous murder of the Innocents...

... if a writer is merely repeating what he was told by Christians, who in turn derive their information from the New Testament, then the text in question does not provide independent confirmation of the New Testament, as the claims involved are ultimately derived from the NT. An example of what might constitute independent confirmation would be an eyewitness account by a non-Christian author, or an entry in a Roman legal document...
post #17 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nursing Mother
This quote can be debated.

I've never asked, yet you're still trying to convince me
It's all about you, isn't it NM? Were you the OP of this thread?
post #18 of 40
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Katiemare
People who do not think Jesus was an historical person-- Do you think that John the Baptist was real (apparently he has more evidence)? and the 12 apostles? What do you say of the execution of Jesus' brother, James? Is there good reason to think that these people did not exist as well?
asking you, mostly, Darylll. So Paul made it all up?
post #19 of 40
Katiemare, I appreciate your curiosity. It is a huge subject and I provided links to help you. Paul was working within the Hellenised Judaic community. His ideas were not plucked out of thin air. They were drawn from Essenic Judaism, the proto-rabbinic community, and neo-Platonism. He did not know of John the Baptist or 12 disciples.

Please read the links at your leisure. Also check out the Was Paul Gay? thread for more on Paul.
post #20 of 40
Ancient non-christian sources

Quote:
Often people are uncertain about the existence of Christ, but few scholars would disagree that a man named Jesus lived roughly between 2 BC and about 33 AD. History documents that this man was not a myth but a real person and the historical evidence for this is excellent. For instance, the Roman historian Tacitus, writing in about 115 A.D., records the events surrounding Emperor Nero in July of A.D. 64. After the fire that destroyed much of Rome, Nero was blamed for being responsible:
http://www.xenos.org/classes/papers/doubt.htm
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