Ah, one of my favorite threads by far.
The idea of a higher being, a higher existence, one that governs, creates, or designs the universe, has pervaded every culture throughout time (well, at least a majority of them).
What are the motivations, do you all think, behind such an existence (whether it be living in the biological sense, or in some more abstract sense)? Besides the usual cliches about lack of self esteem and fear of death, I'd like to hear more ideas.
Is there an possibility of a higher entity? If so, describe your idea and how it would stand in the face of non-believers.
And, of course, everyone else shoot away at the ideas and proofs (lack thereof, hah!)~
Also, please refrain from attacking another person's religion or beliefs.
Previous few posts:
No, I think I was very clear that I thought one can dismiss the supernatural aspects of it, even if all the non-supernatural aspects had very good evidence behind them.
Edit: What Nmaan said basically.
Well, yes, I wasn't quoting verbatim.
I'm of the opinion that the stories had to come from somewhere. Accounts like Josephus's, however, don't really prove anything here, even if I think there's a grain of truth in the stories about Jesus.The book in which that passage is found is dated to 93 AD, which doesn't really tell us much since stories about Jesus had been circulating for a long time and there's no evidence that Josephus actually read the Gospels. Furthermore, there's debate about to what degree Josephus's original text was edited by Christian scribes. (He wasn't a Christian, so calling Jesus the Messiah and laying the blame of his death on the Jews seems uncharacteristic of him. Also, his treatment of other names can go up to hundreds of words, yet the passage about Jesus is rather short. Some scholars theorize it's a forgery, others say it was a footnote. There's also debate about the word "Christians" included in the text, which seems to be anachronistic given that it appeared at the end of the second century.)
I don't know enough about these things to pick a side, so it might be unfair to say there's some truth to those claims. Ultimately, I may change my mind. Lots more to read.
Edit: I should probably take that back. The arguments for it being either a partial or a complete interpolation are pretty convincing.
I'll keep this short because I got to jet in a bit. But I'll just be making a few comments about Josephus text. First of all, Josephus wrote things in detail for the most part and has been given as an accurate source for historians to turn to. Saying that he wrote it 93 AD is an argumentum e silentio and very rarely has any validity to it.
About whether or not the paragraph that talks about Jesus Christ is was edited, then yes it is a common consensus that it has been edited. There are three options on how to view that paragraph (it has a name but I can't remember it for some reason, it's very latinish) 1) it is completely authentic, and that is how he wrote it 2) it's been partially edited and 3) it's completely edited. 1) and 3) are in the minority with very few historians with those views. Number 2) is the most common perception and widly acknowledged as fact (even though you get some pretty loud people from the other two views). The question is how much has been edited. Many believe that the insertions are few and the original text is pretty much as we see it today. The most renowned professor on Josefus texts is a man named Feldman who believes the text to be authentic but with chance of slight moderation. Such as the example you provided about Jesus being the Messias (many would say that originally it was written "he was believed to be the Messias").
And besides that, Josephus writes in his text about the beheading of John the Baptist by Herodes and also the death of Jesus brother Jakob in details that go hand-in-hand with the account we read in the Bible.
All in all, it is seen as an authentic source of Jesus's existence.
I'm a slow writer and time flew by!
I don't know what an argumentum e silentio is, but all I'm saying that he's not an eyewitness account either and that these stories were circulating for the period of his life, appearing also in the gospels. He may have been influenced by these, that is if he actually wrote that paragraph, and thus what we have would be based on hearsay.
The second view has only become popular in the 20th century. For a very long time, it was considered to be a complete forgery, even by Christians.
Origen, writing about a century later:
For in the 18th book of his Antiquities of the Jews, Josephus bears witness to John as having been a Baptist, and as promising purification to those who underwent the rite. Now this writer, although not believing in Jesus as the Christ, in seeking after the cause of the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the temple, whereas he ought to have said that the conspiracy against Jesus was the cause of these calamities befalling the people, since they put to death Christ, who was a prophet, says nevertheless--being, although against his will, not far from the truth--that these disasters happened to the Jews as a punishment for the death of James the Just, who was a brother of Jesus (called Christ)--the Jews having put him to death, although he was a man most distinguished for his justice.
So yes, Josephus wrote about the Baptist, but Origen said he didn't believe in Jesus, which already makes view 1) false.
In any case, these are the arguments advanced in favor of its fraudulence.
1) There was no mention of this paragraph (even by people who quoted Josephus extensively) until the fourth century. This includes Origen, Justin Martyr and Clement of Alexandria, who quoted or referred to ancient writers extensively in their defense of Christianity.
2) The paragraph was remarkably short compared to other treatments. He'd only used "wise man" for two people in the text (Joseph and Solomon, I think) yet did not write in detail about this. He also wrote in detail about several persons called Jesus, but not the one in the New Testament, even though he would have merited such attention. He wrote dozens of pages in kings, devoted whole pages to petty robbers and only a dozen lines to Jesus?
3) The passage interrupts the narrative. (I've also seen claims to the contrary, so I'm not sure here.)
4) It is not quoted in the fourth century nor in the ninth century, by people who refer and write about Josephus.
5) This is the only reference to "Christians" as a people in the book.
6) A table of contents doesn't refer to the passage. Feldman says he finds it "hard to believe that such a remarkable passage would be omitted by anyone, let alone by a Christian summarizing the work."
7) The style of the paragraph resembles that of Eusebius (who quoted it first in the fourth century), not Josephus's. Josephus never used the word tribe to refer to religions (nor did the fathers until the fourth century.) Eusebius is the one known to do it first.
8) I pointed out the anachronism of the word "Christians" before. (The words is found in its plural form in Acts, and in its singular form in Acts and Peter). Acts is dated to end of the first century by the mainstream, though the earliest evidence for its existence is second century. Same with Peter.
Since you seem to be agree with the consensus that it is partially true, you might have seen counter-arguments. If you have, tell me. I've seen other theories, including ones that say he based that paragraph on a Christian document in order to describe the Christians, but I haven't found arguments for that yet. (Edit: Now I have, and I think they're pretty good.)
lol, knowledge is a fickle thing at best, for when you ask for true knowledge on a matter it goes far further then what we can currently know. While I do not deny that there is probably a degree of change to religious text, quite a large degree if you ask me actually. but what I am saying is if he did indeed flood the world, destroy cities, and part seas while the writing is dubious the evidence itself would not quite be so. you mistake my argument in this way. I do not defend the bible itself, as I am of a firm belief that there has been quite a large degree of change to the written text over time. A god need not continuously provide evidence for humanities sake. nor would I really want them to should any of that which is written within biblical text be true.
if the mansheep/dragon claim held truth to it then I would say beware of a possibility of fluffy mansheep that can fight dragons. validation through other text =/= truth. That said we could argue what is true till we all turn blue in the face and never come anywhere near an answer. Now evidence itself is different from truth. evidence is merely something that has is left behind, an imperfection if you will. one can interpret evidence one way or another depending on how they are looking at it. some can argue that a writing is falsified due to it being different from a normal writing style a person uses, others can claim that it is not due to the writer having the possibility as a human to become bored and write it differently.
I find these discussions to be very interesting. When someone who has been mentioned more often and by more sources than any other historical figure before the dark ages is debated to whether have lived or not, I realize how weak the foundation of historical knowledge really can appear.
http://en.wikipedia....ricity_of_Jesus Brings a very good basis to have. It even talks about Josephus texts.[/size]
But first off I want to say that I’m impressed! You seem to have been able to read up on this in an incredibly short amount of time. That’s a very useful talent to have.
Note that writings of the same century are usually considered to be contemporary sources. Especially when written by scribes like Josephus who is very consistent in all his writings. His account, for example, of James death differs slightly from that of the new testament. Which wouldn’t make sense if he picked up these circulating stories from christians. Tacitus is likewise considered a reliable, non-christian, contemporary source.
Yes and no. What I do know is that for a very long time it was considered to be an incredibly controversial text (and I guess it still is to some degree). But if what you're saying is true and that the second view relatively recently became popular than I'd guess that the earlier controversy was due to overzealous christians. Which makes sense, if it was true then some legitimacy would be given to christians. But from what I understand, most of the controversy surrounding that text has been settled. Which is why I quoted it. As a side-note though, Jesus (from the new testament) is mentioned at other times in Josephus’s texts.
History has always been something that I’ve loved. As a child I dreamed of becoming a modern Indiana Jones! With that said, it is more of a hobby of mine, I’ve only dug deep into a few historical events but touched the surface on many. I mentioned Josephus texts more out of the simple thought that came to my mind while reading your post than me having dug deep into it with the intention of elaborating (my bad). So I have a fleeting knowledge about Josephus and his texts, but it isn’t something that I have done a lot of research on. Therefore I’m probably going to dissappoint you, but I am only able to counter a minority of your points, At first glance, yes, several things that you bring up seem like things that would miscredit testimunium flavorium. But since I haven’t taken a dive into Josephus’s texts, I, like most people, rely on what the most (not all) prominent/majority of the professors teach (note that many of these professors aren’t Christians and have no ulterior motives other than uncovering the “truth”, like Feldman, Geza Vermes and Alice Whealey). This is going to sound bad, but I’m just following the mainstream belief on his texts. And because of that, I’m sure that there exist counterarguments to your previous mentioned points (I just don’t know all of them). I am a little curious though, to where you got some of your information. Some points seem to be ancient. Like number 4) (which in part includes point number 1)), they found a text in the 70’s dating back to the 9th century paraphrasing the discussed part of Josephus’s text.
Does that mean: If the books are true to some degree, then they can be considered good evidence?
Heh, it depends on how good the sources are and people seem to think that there aren't that many outside the Bible.
It's interesting that there are so many sources, though most mythicists I've encountered so far (those that believe that Jesus did not exist at all) seem to think that Josephus's writings are the crucial and only remaining defense of his historicity. Not sure why all the rest are dismissed, though. Possibly it's tackled on the grounds that Josephus's is the only that contains details.
Or a sign of too much time on my hands
Yes, but the point is that his distance from the actual events mean he was basing his writings on other accounts, and we don't know how credible those accounts were. I've seen a theory that says Josephus could have based that paragraph on an evangelical Christian source, and then later, Christian scribes omitted words like "They reported" from "They reported that he rose from the dead...". Similarly, the passage which mentions James is regarded to have an interpolation, with the result that it's not clear if Josephus was referring to the Christian James.
Everything I've read so far has it being the only mention of NT Jesus (with various other Jesuses in Josephus's writings). Do you have sources that contradict that, because I can't find any? I'm not really sure the controversy came from overzealous Christians. There were (and are) Christians (even Bishops) who dismissed it completely as evidence, even going as far to call it "stupid". I don't know why, though some of them find the fact that it wasn't referred to by early Christian apologists who referred to the rest of Josephus's work as very problematic. On the other hand Origen said Josephus didn't believe in Jesus (without referring to the passage itself), so it's possible that he read it in a form which hadn't been edited by later copyists, but that still doesn't explain why he wouldn't use it as support for his arguments. The only explanation for that I've seen so far is that they hadn't read that particular volume, which is a possibility, but not very convincing.
Furthermore, the person who allegedly discovered this paragraph in the fourth century is known to have forged/edited/found other articles, including letters purportedly written by Jesus. I think that's a point against the idea that it is only partially edited.
I try not to automatically follow the majority unless I know how they took care of the minority, and I'm trying to find that out now.
I'm aware of that 70s text, but I'm referring to another in 891 in which Photius says Josephus made no mention of Jesus, which could mean he had a different copy. Also, that point that doesn't include one, because it first appeared in the fourth century, appearing again in the ninth shouldn't be that problematic.
I'm not sure how I mistook your argument.
You said, earlier:
I dunno I think that if half of whats written in them books is true then he gave quite a bit of evidence and just gave up trying by now lol
Or: It the books are true to some degree, then we'd be able to examine the evidence for that truth?
neither, it is to be said that if there is truth within the bible, that there is truth within the bible. I was not taking a fact of evidence into it there. there are some things which you will be able to find no evidence for in this world or that you can even find misleading evidence either for or against. absolute truth is different from evidential truth :/ but the saying of if half of what is written in there is true then at the time he gave them evidence. the evidence at the time would either be dismissed by those whom were not there. I was speaking more in the manner of if you give people that much evidence and still have doubt during those times that the god may have given up. >_> its not like that is an impossibility.