Does anyone here believe that Jesus never existed?

by Newborn 70 Replies latest jw friends

  • PSacramento

    I don't know if you gusy wanna be pissing Jesus off...

  • parakeet

    PSacramento: Better than the proof I posted above?

    If I were still a dub, it would be more than enough.

  • HintOfLime

    Jesus Lives.

    - Lime

  • OnTheWayOut

    I used to comment that Jesus possibly existed as a tool of rebels against the Romans, actually rode into Jerusalem on an ass in a display of proclaiming himself king, realized that he would be put to death if he continued on this path so he said to "pay back Ceasar's things to Ceasar" and broke away from the rebels, but was put to death anyway.

    I used to comment that way. Since then, I have swung more toward realizing that Paul was the first Christian writer whose works were still available, and Paul wrote of a very mythical Jesus without a time or background. Paul never mentions the miraculous birth, Joseph and Mary, anything really of what the Gospels say.

    I do believe that no Jews ever really lived under the law code EVER, but that it was allegory to their past, Jews back then probably understood that Genesis was a fictional account, Jews were not actually expecting a messiah to be born at the time that Jesus was alledgedly born. After the destruction of the temple, Judiasm took on a new role as a belief system without a central place of worship. The past became more important to them than the temple because the temple was gone. Christianity was a mystic religion, really no different that the worship of Mithra, Isis, or Zeus, but the Jews coming into it after losing their temple needed their hero to explain it all. Even the accounts of Jesus had a mystic mythical feel about them. But because of the destruction of the temple, a time frame was needed for this God Man to exist that would precede the destruction. One literal generation was chosen by some writer(s) and others copied and added to the writings.

    Later editors (when Rome started consolidating religion) added and removed stuff and made the Christian God Man very similar to the myths around them of other gods, so that pagans could accept this God Man over their own former ones. It is apparently very common among ancient peoples to need a God Man to walk amongst them. In order to do this, many wrote that a God had relations with a mortal woman. Some wrote that the woman was pure, in order to make their God Man better than all humans- from God and purity, with no human contamination. Some removed their God having relations with the woman because sex was a "dirtying" process. Their God mystically impregnated their "virgin" mother of the God Man and now they had an even better God Man- from Spirit and absolute purity.

    If the Bible accounts of Jesus were from God, why do they contradict each other? They are the writings of mystics who didn't worry about some "truth" in the account. Jesus represented the potential for every man to become "god" by realizing that they are all part of God. They were writing anti-establishment stories that were not to be taken literally. Some letters of Paul were forged to add to Christianity that women were lower than men and homosexuality was wrong and to obey the church.

    While there is not ample proof that Jesus did or did not actually exist, there is ample proof that many messiahs lived and died similarly to Jesus in many cultures long before the Jew of the first century AD. There is ample proof that the Jews never lived as the Bible says- they were never a united kingdom of 12 tribes living under a law code from God, but were polytheists just like the people around them. "Jehovah" won the day as their god eventually. Jesus won the day for the Romans when it was time to "pick" a God Man. I am suprised that Mithra didn't win out, but it's probably because a Jew wrote a better story tying their God Man to their own "already ancient" writings.

  • Leolaia

    I am somewhat inclined to think that some historical kernal does lie behind the figure of Jesus, but that it is impossible to reliably build a portrait of who Jesus was from the data that we have. That puts my thinking closer to that of G. A. Wells (The Jesus Legend) than the mythicist view of Doherty (The Jesus Puzzle) and others. IIRC, Doherty recognizes two main trajectories of the early Jesus movement: the Jerusalem tradition which he takes Paul as representative of (which viewed its central christological figure in strictly Hellenistic/proto-gnostic mythic terms), and the Galilee tradition which represents an independent "Kingdom of God" movement (= the Q community) that had its own sapiential sayings collection which was not attributed to any specific figure. The two separate streams only merged after the death of Paul when the author of the gospel of Mark developed a biographical narrative about the Savior figure from Pauline Christianity which embedded within it material native to the Galilee tradition.

    This is a compelling idea, but it is imo not satisfactory. Paul and the "Galilee tradition" are not truly independent; we find in the epistles many sayings that parallel those in "Q" or the synoptic gospels, several of which Paul directly attributes to the "Lord". I also find it questionable that Paul is really representative of the views of the early Jerusalemite church, or that he viewed Jesus solely as a heavenly or mythic figure. In his apologia in his epistle to the Galatians, Paul portrays himself somewhat as a "Johnny-come-lately" to the movement (a former zealous persecutor of it), and looked especially to James "the brother of Jesus" as the person with preeminent religious authority in Jerusalem. I find unconvincing the claim that Paul was using "brother" figuratively (why James as the "brother" and not Cephas or John?), and while the Testamonium Flavianum is certainly interpolated (at least in its present form), the separate reference to James the Just as the "brother of Jesus" in a different passage is potentially original to Josephus, and may thus corroborate what we have in Paul. So imo Paul does present both James and his brother Jesus as real people. That doesn't mean that he couldn't have also thought of Jesus as embodying the Heavenly Man (a mythic figure). And in 1 Corinthians 15, Paul presents a succession of events beginning with the death of Jesus, continuing with the early appearances to Cephas and the Twelve, and ending with his own conversion experience; this suggests that he construed Jesus' death as not a timeless or mythic notion but an event in the relatively recent past. What makes me doubt that Paul is really representative of the views of the Jerusalem church is what he says in ch. 1 of Galatians. He insists that the gospel he teaches "did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ" (v. 12). He adds: "I did not consult any man, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before I was, but I went immediately into Arabia and later returned to Damascus" (v. 16-17). Paul, as a persecutor of the Jerusalem church (v. 13), knew a little about the sect he opposed but certainly not very much, but through his religious conversion experience, he adopted the faith as his own without educating himself from existing members of the Jesus movement; he drew solely on what he believed was personal revelation to him. And he did not have contact with the Jerusalem church for three full years and then only spent some fifteen days with Peter (v. 18). On account of this, it is reasonable to suppose that Paul developed his religious views in isolation from the Jerusalem church. Paul was a child of the diaspora who, unlike those in Jerusalem, was in direct contact with non-Jewish mystery cults; Tarsus in particular was a center of philosophical and religious education in Cilicia (Strabo, Geographica 14.13). I am thus more inclined to think that the mythic Jesus we find in Paul's epistles is to a great extent his own innovation, and the Pauline Jesus came to dominate over against older views by the sheer weight of Paul's missionary activity which established scores of new churches with non-Jewish and diaspora Jewish converts. From what we know of James the Just in Josephus, Hegesippus, and the fragments of Nazorean material in the Pseudo-Clementines, he was probably a strict Torah-obervant Essene with a quite large following in Jerusalem; the Lukan portrayal of the Jerusalem church in Acts also describes a social organization that is quite similar to Essene organizations. I think a good case can be made for an Essene background to much of the synoptic tradition (especially the Enochic "Son of Man" traditions but also the material pertaining to John the Baptist and some of the halakha in Matthew), the Palestinian epistle of Jude is clearly Enochic and similar to other late Essene works like the Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs, the epistle of James is unquestionably dependent on the synoptic sayings tradition (inasmuch as it contains material traceable to the Jerusalem church as claimed by its attribution, which imo is quite probable even if not authored by James the Just), whereas the sayings tradition is very much muted in Paul, and the same can be said for influence from Enochic/Essene literature. Rather than construct "Galilean" and "Jerusalem" streams of independent tradition only much later conflated by the author of Mark, I think it may be better to construe Mark (which was written clearly for a Roman Gentile audience) as combining "Pauline" tradition with "Palestinian" tradition, which itself may be conflate of different backgrounds. Much of what we find in Paul — especially the antinomianism and the proto-gnostic mysticism — would then represent his own contribution to Christian thought, whereas the sayings tradition and the "Son of Man"/parousia eschatology finds expression in both Pauline and Palestinian "Christianity"; as a common denominator it is possibly older and pre-Pauline. Paul is our earliest extant source, but that doesn't mean that his brand of Jesus-oriented faith was the oldest.

    Very little of any of this bears on "Jesus" per se, other than that his brother was named James and that Jesus had died from crucifixion earlier and was believed to have been raised to life, and that in addition to James, two other men, John and Cephas (Peter), were figures of considerable authority in the church at Jerusalem. Traditions not attested in Paul, such as Jesus' Galilean background, the content of his teaching, and the various stories in the gospels, are much more difficult to assess and in the end do not lead to any clear portrait of a "historical Jesus". Josephus mentions many individuals similar to Jesus who led prophetic or messianic movements, some of whom met gruesome ends by the Roman authorities, so there is nothing implausible about the existence of another individual who had a similar end. But because of the evidence is so ambiguous, sparse, and interpretable in different ways, such existence could not regarded as a certain fact. At present I think of it as a hypothesis that for the moment is more convincing to me than the alternative.

  • Gregor

    The Jews were in a funk. The Romans under Judean Governor Pilate allowed the Jewish hierarchy to have their temple and rituals and talmud.

    But then there comes along a young man with Bi-Polar disorder and the common religious fixation that often goes with it. Among all the rich Hebrew stories and traditions, he is fascinated by the prophecies of the old testament about a coming "savior" and embraces the idea that it is he. Many jews are drawn to his charisma and over the top self confidence. His dog and pony show, combined with the frustration and longing of so many jews for a Messiah to save them from their grim lot under the Roman Empire, gelled into a perfect storm that finally got the Jewish hierarchy concerned enough to have him dealt with.

    Jesus existed. Within 300 yrs his legend was the catalyst for a Roman empire ripe for political and religous coalescence . The Roman Catholic church was the result. Many Jesus franchises, Wendy's, Dairy Queen, Lutheran, Baptist, Arby's, Episcopalian, Hardee's, etc have grown from the crazy young man who made such a nuisance of himself that the Pharisees insisted that the Romans eliminate him.

  • Farkel

    :Does anyone here believe that Jesus never existed?

    That's the wrong question. A more important question is this: Jesus reportedly raised a man from the dead (Lazarus). He wasn't just "dead", he was three DAYS stinking rotting dead. It was quite the miracle. But NO ONE, not even the educated Romans who were watching every move Jesus did, bothered to record it. Yet, it was a miracle of earth-shattering importance.

    The only ones who recorded this huge miracle didn't bother to record it for 30 to 50 years AFTER it happened. This bothers me. And THEY were the "true believers" not the other skeptics who actually witnessed it and who were literate enough to have recorded it WHEN it happened.


  • shopaholic

    I believe there was a man named Jesus and he had a group of followers. I do not believe he was the son of God. Most religions have a "Jesus".

    What gets me about the Jesus story its that its basically about an alien that came to earth, made some promises and then left again for outerspace and is supposedly watching mankind from there.

  • Billzfan23
    Billzfan23 has some interesting content on Jesus that should enlighten you...perhaps???

  • garyneal

    marking for later comment

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