That's it! The Jesus stories are most reasonably explained as myth. History makes this obvious.

by Island Man 74 Replies latest watchtower bible

  • CalebInFloroda


    Jewish Christians did not abandon keeping kashrut (eating kosher) or avoiding circumcision.

    In fact, Acts 21.17-26 shows that Jewish Christians, including the Apostle Paul, were fully Torah observant. The Pauline epistles have been misunderstood by the ignorant JWs as applying to all Christians, but from the first century onward they were understood as applying only to Gentiles. Jewish Christians were Torah observant.

    Even today, Jewish Christians tend to be Torah observant. For instance, today in the Roman Catholic Church many Christians of Jewish ancestry live as the first-century Jewish Christians of Acts 21. Known as "Hebrew Catholics" many keep kashrut, practice circumcision, observe Jewish holy days, wear kippah, tallit, pray in Hebrew, etc. and these are full members of the Catholic Church, in complete communion with the Holy See and Vicar of Christ, the Pope.

    And this just covers Jewish Catholics. Protestant Jewish Christians, generally referred to as Messianic Jews, are also Torah observant.

    Those among my people who accept Jesus as Messiah generally never assimilate or only do so very little. This is because in Jewish culture the arrival of Messiah is equated with the preservation of Torah and Jewish culture, not its destruction. Jesus or any Messianic figure is not an excuse to abandon Judaism for Jews. On the contrary, the Messiah is the means to spread Jewish values and make them universal.

  • Half banana
    Half banana

    Calebin F, your argument from a Jewish perspective for Jesus as a real human is: Why would Responsa (formalised rabbinic replies) develop antithetically to a non-existent person? Superficially a fair point but not necessarily valid. I suggest that the body of sacred Jewish writings, however revered, is itself inherently the product of politico-religious and nationalistic bluster and myth in the first place. In other words a system of beliefs not founded on fact but from mainly non-existing i.e. fictional characters such as Moses and the twelve sons of Israel. (All have precedents in earlier exotic tales mainly from Egypt). Therefore the credibility of Jewish pronouncements on other heroic figures is suspect. It is easier to diminish the importance of an individual than it is to suppress a myth. All religion, since it is mostly devoid of testable evidence; is just propaganda. Religious argument therefore, to put it crudely, it is a case of “My myth is better than your myth.” If human evolution is true but not readily observable, then the evolution of ideas and mythology is more readily accessible to the textual scholar. To disentangle deeply entrenched and strongly felt beliefs, require research into the facts and not just repeating you are well aware.

    The God-men tales of the near East and western Asia was the template for the “christ stories” of which Jesus was the last one of note. The reason for his prominence being that this character was promoted by the Roman state and through the agency of its Catholic Church; left a legacy of dominant small O orthodoxy of ‘Christ belief’ right up until today. However prior to the fourth century we have a string of heroic messianic celebrities supplying the answer to the greatest existential problem facing humanity; how to overcome death. It was a preponderantly illiterate world, the transmission of belief outside of the temples and synagogues would have been for millennia; through passion plays. They still exist today, even in my nearest village in civilised and literate England, the nativity is re-enacted on Christmas Eve every year. Joseph and a Mary (played by the last couple to be married at the local church) travel round the village with Mary riding a donkey, and knocking on doors looking for a place to stay, rejected, they stay at a barn at the manor house replete with oxen and a baby Jesus in a straw filled manger.

    A mordant is the chemistry which fixes colour in the process of dying cloth... for the illiterate throughout history; the nativity play or any such play as the Passion of Christ would surely be the ‘mordant’ to fix a “belief” into the cultural fabric. (It is also a strong clue as to the how and why, many of the Bible stories came to be recorded... they are transcripts of folk plays).

    So if you believe that Jesus existed as a breathing human, why not believe the pedigree of his literary forebears: the fictional crucified Dionysus who had the same history attributed to him, why not the mythical Osiris, born of a virgin (Meri) whose step father was Sep, born in a cave with oxen, who had twelve disciples, walked on water, preached, healed the sick, cured leprosy and resurrected his friend Lazarus (El Osiris)... a thousand years before Jesus?

    The character or role of the God-man and its story-line was well established in the peasant consciousness. This belief was retained without critical thought, with minimum education other than a religious tradition, and maximum gullibility. The God-man hero existed independently of a personal name of the lead character; it had already done the rounds for many centuries before the first century. He was the son of the Sun God he was the saviour of mankind, the Christ. The Jewish authorities would have needed to challenge the belief adopted by some of its number in joining a Christ –cult. They would not investigate whether he existed, since the unbelievably exciting message of the magic belief was that “the word had been made flesh” and many Jews had declared this as it was the founding cry of Jesus- Christianity and axiomatically held to be true. The Jews would have fought against the belief and the implication of losing power to the new cult and not the facts of the case.

    So I suggest that the Jewish stance was to decry the Christ cults with a mythical founder who had a Jewish sounding name called “Jesus”. A man unknown to any credible historical source although conflated with other Jesuses over time. We are in the territory of folk myth, gullibility and messianic hope...not reality.

    Osiris was not real neither was Dionysus: why should anyone else sharing the same fictional characteristics attributed to him have been a live person? That he could have existed is not germane to the foregoing and is a misleading sentiment.

  • CalebInFloroda
    I am not arguing that a Jewish response to Jesus is proof that Jesus existed. I am asking how does a mythological, never-existing mythical person cause writings by contemporaries to speak against someone who supposedly was never there in the first place.

    Second Temple era Responsa is older than the New Testament. It takes time for myths to be created and accepted. The idea that a mythological, non-entity so quickly governed such a reaction among Jewish society and continued into the Diaspora before even the Gospels were canonized would have to be demonstrated.

    The Responsa alone proves little, but claiming there was no Nazarene by the name of Yeshua who taught people is hard to demonstrate in the face of how quickly this same person became part of the Jewish schema that rejected his claims of being the promised Messiah even before the Second Temple fell in 70 CE.

    Jesus could be a myth. But for that to be so we have to explain a whole lot of something caused by someone who was supposedly never ever there. I'm not saying Jesus is real, but I am saying we have to also supply a verifiable explanation for what seems to be a cause-and-effect paradigm.

  • Island Man
    Island Man

    "An non-historical figure would not have inspired such complex Jewish rhetoric designed to defend Judaism's stand"

    I beg to differ. I posit to you that the mythical Jesus character only needs to be compelling and charismatic and therefore seen as a threat to Judaism so as to inspire a complex response from Judaism.

    Think of this fact: Atheists don't believe in god. Yet many atheist scholars have developed arguments and treatises that expose and debunk creationist claims.

    So it is not the truthfulness of a character or teaching that determines whether or not it will be responded to but rather the influence and the threat it is perceived as having.

  • Island Man
    Island Man
    "Second Temple era Responsa is older than the New Testament. It takes time for myths to be created and accepted. The idea that a mythological, non-entity so quickly governed such a reaction among Jewish society and continued into the Diaspora before even the Gospels were canonized would have to be demonstrated."

    Did you watch the video, CalebInFlorida? The video shows that the Jesus myth started in Judaism and pre-dates first century christianity.

  • CalebInFloroda

    This discussion reminds me of something.

    I remember a discussion with a friend that got into a heated argument until he broke down. He was trying to convince me that Jesus was nothing more than a myth. I told him it was irrelevant to Jews whether Jesus was historically real or not.

    This seemed to his aggravate him. The more he kept saying that "this and that" proved Jesus could be nothing more but a made-up story, the more it seemed that my repeated reply that it didn't matter to Jews made him furious.

    I mean he got red eyes, to-the-point-of-crying furious. I tried to calm him down until he was practically sobbing.

    A moment or two of trying to regain himself and he explained, much more calmly:

    "I can't be like you, Cal. [My friends call me "Cal," not Caleb by the way.] I can't reject a Jesus that exists on any level."

    "I don't understand," I said. "Do you believe that the prophet Muhammad was a real person? What about Siddhārtha Gautama, the person that came to be known as the Buddha?"

    He thought for a moment. "I guess so. It doesn't really matter, I suppose."

    "Why not?" I asked my friend.

    "Well," he began, "I don't believe in Islam or Buddhism. And it stands to reason that someone had to start those religious movements. So they can be as real as necessary."

    "Okay," I said. "Then why all the fuss about Jesus."

    "I don't know. I guess it is because I was raised a Christian. And for me I just can't reject him if even on some level he existed. I can't do it. I don't think I want to. I need him to be a myth."

    I think for some of us who leave the Watchtower, like my friend here, we need Jesus to be completely false. It might be very hard for some people to reject what they once embraced as the Savior of the World. As I've stated before it takes no courage to reject a made-up character.

    This doesn't mean I am saying people who want Jesus to be a myth are lying to themselves or cowards. No. What I am saying is that this might, in some cases, be part of a healing process. It can be difficult to learn to say: "No, I won't accept you or believe what you say" to someone who is real. It can be very, very hard, especially having had it ingrained in us for so many years.

    While not all atheists or non-Christians do this, for some G-d and Jesus have to be myths. I'm not saying that all who come to this conclusion are doing so because they have emotional issues, of course not--no. But some do have emotional issues that must be lived through, that must be healed, that might like my friend need Jesus to be a myth.

    We may not be able to see it in ourselves if that is the case, and it really isn't for others to judge them or call them out on it as if to say: you are weak, you are a failure, etc. Healing often causes us to learn to live with limitations and even fears for a while until we can get over them.

    I once choked so badly on my own vomit that I scared myself out of throwing up for years, even when it was medically necessary. I got over it. If I need to vomit, it's no big deal. But the choking experience from the past made it impossible for me to allow myself to up-chuck for a while. Trauma sometimes gives us little choice.

    Jesus may not have been the actual trauma, but those who taught us about him probably were. The JWs often leave us little recourse to get back at them in our need for justice, so we take it out on Jesus, the Bible, even G-d. We tend to blame what we can get our hands on when the perpetrators of evil are out of reach. Think about it, if G-d and Jesus and the Bible are such myths, why do we spend so much time putting them down? Do we do this with all myths too, spending as much time as debating about Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, etc.?

    In some cases, not all--and I stress NOT ALL--we have little recourse but to take it out on the myths. And we might need them to be myths.

    If they are myths, okay. Cool. Let's move on. Pay no attention to them.

    If they are not myths, it's also okay. You don't have to follow every Tom, Dick, or Harry who can make water stand on end or cause bread to fall from the sky.

    If they are something in between, or real even in a little way, it's still okay. You are not obligated to be a follower of anybody, no matter how real they are. You can say no to your parents, tell off Geoffrey Jackson to his face, and even argue with a real G-d and tell that G-d you don't like the way things are run. You can reject very real things and still be okay.

  • CalebInFloroda
    And I did more than see Carrier's video. I am quite familiar with his work as a whole.
  • OnTheWayOut
    Jewish Christians did not abandon keeping kashrut (eating kosher) or avoiding circumcision.

    Calebin (Florida misspelled) Chill, dude. This entire last paragraph of my response was just a joke:

    But mainly, Jews became Christians because it was easier to sell a religion where males did not have to cut a portion of their penis and where bacon was allowed. It always comes back to bacon.

    I will remember to put "(just joking)" in such places just for you. (just joking)

  • Island Man
    Island Man

    Interesting experience, Cal.

    I don't need Jesus to be a myth. In fact, for a good while I believed he was nothing more than a charismatic cult leader who was later embellished and imbued with godlike powers by the gospel writers. It never bothered me that he may have been a real person, because him being a real person doesn't change the fact that the gospels as written, are obviously filled with myth.

    There are just too many examples of similar myths and a complete lack of secular historical mention of Jesus, for me to believe he actually existed as a real historical person on earth.

  • CalebInFloroda

    OntheWayOut: No, I gathered it was a joke. I just thought the information would be interesting to add.

    IslandMan: My comments are not reflections of my personal convictions, but I have come to understand that since most people are commenting about their personal views that some might tend to see my posts as sharing what I personally believe as well.

    I more than often add things as Devil's advocate not to perpetuate my view but as a tool to help other's think. Carrier is an intelligent person, but his arguments are two dimensional. They don't hold water in Judaism.

    The argument that Jesus was imaginary doesn't match Jewish history. I'm Judean, myself, supposedly of the Davidic house since I am Sephardic from Iberia. Gentiles tend to make claims about us and our history that aren't anything like what we actually know and have experienced, and when we beg to differ people tell us, Jews, that we got our own documents and history wrong.

    This here is my opinion: I find that more than a little weird. While it doesn't matter in the long run to most Jews if Jesus were real or not, our history does imply the historical man existed. And I'm talking our secular history. While Gentiles feel authorized to tell us that we Jews made up this part of secular history about the man Christians call "Messiah" is beyond me, but we have a list of historical Messianic hopefuls that go back further and up to present times. Why this one Jesus from Nazareth is the only myth in the bunch and how you Gentiles know "beyond scientific doubt" is a really weird thing to claim.

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