Alleged historical evidence for Jesus

Discussion in 'Religion Archives' started by Iasion, Feb 12, 2006.

  1. Iasion Registered Senior Member

    Greetings again,

    The subject of historical evidence for Jesus came up in that other thread.

    Here are my notes on the alleged evidebnce for Jesus.

    The short version is:
    There is no contemporary evidence for Jesus.
    Much of the "evidence" cited is false, or suspect, or very late.
    Josephus is considered soem of the best evidence - even though is is generally considered to be tampered with, if not an outright forgery (of course, the word used is "interpolated" - scholars avoid the word "forgery" even though that's exactly what it is.)

    JOSEPHUS (c.96CE)

    The famous Testamonium Flavianum is considered probably the best evidence for Jesus, yet it has some serious problems :
    * the T.F. as it stands uses clearly Christian phrases and names Christ as Messiah, it could not possibly have been written by the Jew Josephus (who refused to call anyone "messiah"),
    * The T.F. comes in several versions of various ages,
    * The T.F. was not mentioned by Origen when he reviewed Josephus - Origen even says Josephus does NOT call Jesus the Messiah, showing the passage was not present in that earlier era.
    * The T.F. first showed up in manuscripts of Eusebius, and was still absent from some manuscripts as late as 8th century.
    * (The other tiny passage in Josephus is probably a later interpolation.)
    An analysis of Josephus can be found here:

    In short - this passage is possibly a total forgery (or at best a corrupt form of a lost original.)
    But, yes,
    it COULD just be actual evidence for Jesus - late, corrupt, controversial but just POSSIBLY real historical evidence.
    Such is the weakness of the evidence that this suspect passage is considered some of the best "evidence" for a historical Jesus of Nazareth.

    TACITUS (c.112CE)

    Roughly 80 years after the alleged events (and 40 years after the war) Tacitus allegedly wrote a (now) famous passage about "Christ" - this passage has several problems however:
    * Tacitus uses the term "procurator", used in his later times, but not correct for the actual period, when "prefect" was used.
    * Tacitus names the person as "Christ", when Roman records could not possibly have used this name (it would have been "Jesus, son of Joseph" or similar.)
    * Tacitus accepts the recent advent of Christianity, which was against Roman practice (to only allow ancient and accepted cults and religions.)
    * (No-one refers to this passage for a millennium, even early Christians who actively sought such passages.)

    This evidence speaks AGAINST it being based on any Roman records -
    merely a few details which Tacitus gathered from Christian stories circulating in his time (c.f. Pliny.)
    this passage is NOT evidence for Jesus,
    it's just evidence for 2nd century Christian stories about Jesus.

    PLINY the Younger (c.112CE)

    About 80 years after the alleged events, (and over 40 years after the war) Pliny referred to Christians who worshipped a "Christ" as a god, but there is no reference to a historical Jesus or Gospel events.
    Pliny is not evidence for a historical Jesus of Nazareth,
    just evidence for 2nd century Christians who worshipped a Christ.

    SUETONIUS (c.115CE)

    Roughly 80-90 years after the alleged Gospel events, (about 75 years after the war) Suetonius refers to a "Chrestus" who stirred the Jews to trouble in Rome during Claudius' time, but:
    * this "Chrestus" is a Greek name (from "useful"), and is also a mystic name for an initiate, it is not the same as "Christos"
    * this Chrestus was apparently active in Rome, Jesus never was.
    this passage is not evidence for Jesus,
    it's nothing to do with Jesus,
    it's evidence for Christians grasping at straws.

    IGNATIUS (107CE? 130-170CE?)

    The letters of Ignatius are traditionally dated to c.107, yet:
    * it is not clear if he really existed, his story is suspicious,
    * his letters are notoriously corrupt and in 2 versions,
    * it is probable that his letters were later forgeries,
    * he mentions only a tiny few items about Jesus.
    Ignatius is no evidence for Jesus himself,
    at BEST it is 2nd century evidence to a few beliefs about Jesus.

    QUADRATUS (c.125CE)

    Quadratus apparently wrote an Apology to Hadrian (117-138), but:
    * we have none of his works,
    * it is not certain when he wrote,
    * all we have is 1 sentence quoted much later.
    Quadratus is uncertain evidence from about a century later.

    THALLUS (date unknown)

    We have NO certain evidence when Thallus lived or wrote, there are NONE of Thallus' works extant.
    What we DO have is a 9th century reference by George Syncellus who quotes the 3rd century Julianus Africanus, who, speaking of the darkness at the crucifixion, wrote: "Thallus calls this darkness an eclipse".
    there is NO evidence Thallus made specific reference to Jesus or the Gospel events at all, as there WAS an eclipse in 29. This suggests he merely referred to a known eclipse, but that LATER Christians MIS-interpreted his comment to mean their darkness. (Also note the supposed reference to Thallus in Eusebius is a false reading.)

    Richard Carrier the historian has a good page on Thallus:

    Thallus is no evidence for Jesus at all,
    merely evidence for Christian wishful thinking.

    PHLEGON (c.140)

    Phlegon wrote during the 140s - his works are lost. Later, Origen, Eusebius, and Julianus Africanus (as quoted by George Syncellus) refer to him, but quote differently his reference to an eclipse. There is no evidence Phlegon actually said anything about Gospel events, he was merely talking about an eclipse (they DO happen) which LATER Christians argued was the "darkness" in their stories.
    Phlegon is no evidence for Jesus at all -
    merely evidence for Christian wishful thinking.

    VALENTINUS (c.140CE)

    In mid 2nd century the GNOSTIC Valentinus almost became Bishop of Rome, but:
    * he was several generations after the alleged events,
    * he wrote of an esoteric, Gnostic Jesus and Christ,
    * he mentioned no historical details about Jesus.
    Valentinus is no evidence for a historical Jesus.

    POLYCARP (c.155CE)

    Polycarp wrote in mid 2nd century, but :
    * he is several generations after the alleged events,
    * he gives many sayings of Jesus (some of which do NOT match the Gospels),
    * he does NOT name any evangelist or Gospel.
    Polycarp knew sayings of Jesus,
    but provides no actual evidence for a historical Jesus.

    LUCIAN (c.170CE)

    Nearly one-and-a-half CENTURIES after the alleged events, Lucian satirised Christians, but :
    * this was several generations later,
    * Lucian does NOT even mention Jesus or Christ by name.
    Lucian is no evidence for a historical Jesus, merely late 2nd century lampooning of Christians.

    GALEN (late 2nd C.)

    Late 2nd century, Galen makes a few references to Christians, and briefly to Christ.
    This is far too late to be evidence for Jesus.

    NUMENIUS (2nd C.?)

    In the 3rd century, Origen claimed Numenius "quotes also a narrative regarding Jesus--without, however, mentioning His name" - i.e. Numenius mentioned a story but said nothing about Jesus, but by Origen's time it had become attached to Jesus' name.
    This not any evidence for Jesus, it's just later wishful thinking.

    TALMUD (3rd C. and later)

    There are some possible references in the Talmud, but:
    * these references are from 3rd century or later, and seem to be (unfriendly) Jewish responses to Christian claims.
    * the references are highly variant, have many cryptic names for Jesus, and very different to the Gospel stories (e.g. one story has "Jesus" born about 100BC.)
    the Talmud contains NO evidence for Jesus,
    the Talmud merely has much later Jewish responses to the Gospel stories.

    The Acts of Pilate (3rd, 4th C.)

    Justin does refer to such a report or Acts of Pilate, but no such document existed, until forged in two versions in 3rd and 4th century. The story Tertullian tells is patently absurd.

    MARA BAR SERAPION (date unknown)

    A fragment which includes -
    "... What advantage did the Jews gain from executing their wise King?",
    in the context of ancient leaders like Socrates.
    It is NOT at all clear WHEN this manuscript was written, nor exactly who it is referring too, but there is no evidence it is Jesus.

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  3. IceAgeCivilizations Banned Banned

    The Lamb of God was physically killed 2,000 years ago, no more need for that, but many of the Jews and Arabs have yet to figure this out.
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  5. SkinWalker Archaeology / Anthropology Moderator

    Where's your evidence for this "lamb of god" myth?
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  7. IceAgeCivilizations Banned Banned

    Myth, why do you say myth?
  8. IceAgeCivilizations Banned Banned

    Are the writings of Aristotle and Plato frauds? There is more evidence of the historical veracity of the scriptures than the existenses of Plato and Aristotle and their writings.
  9. spidergoat Liddle' Dick Tater Valued Senior Member

    Mmmmm... lamb.
  10. SetiAlpha6 Come Let Us Reason Together Valued Senior Member

    So, you are apparently saying that Jeremiah was a false prophet then? He stated very clearly that the Levitical sacrificial system would never end. But you are saying that it has ended. Why should any Jewish person reject the prophecy of Jeremiah and regard what God said as false? That is exactly what you are asking them to do!
  11. IceAgeCivilizations Banned Banned

    ".... to sacrifice continually."

    The Jews knew that the Messiah would come, and so, no more shedding of innocent blood would be needed then.
  12. spidergoat Liddle' Dick Tater Valued Senior Member

    So, it was easy to make the transition from sacrificing animals to a one-time human sacrifice of an "unblemished" human. See how religion evolves? Before that they no doubt sacrificed animals to their pagan gods. The story of Jesus was made to fit older texts in order to give them credibility, how creative.
  13. IceAgeCivilizations Banned Banned

    Yes, many "completed Jews'" and ex Muslims' beliefs have and will "evolve" to understand that Jesus was the Lamb of God, no more need to blood sacrifice animals.
  14. spidergoat Liddle' Dick Tater Valued Senior Member

    They consider him just another prophet.
  15. S.A.M. uniquely dreadful Valued Senior Member

    And Muslims make no distinction among the prophets in terms of importance.

    They are all equal as messengers of God.
  16. IceAgeCivilizations Banned Banned

    Jesus was either a liar or a lunatic, or the Son of God, as He said.
  17. geeser Atheism:is non-prophet making Valued Senior Member

    well if he existed at all, he certain was not the latter, but as for the other two former.


    Jesus kills a fig tree for not bearing figs, even though it was out of season. Jesus must not be as smart as Christians would have us believe, for he was retarded enough to do something this silly. You’d think the son of god (god incarnate) would know that trees don’t bear fruit in dry season. Mark 11:13

    Jesus promoted the idea that all men should castrate themselves to go to heaven: "For there are eunuchs, that were so born from their mother's womb: and there are eunuchs, that were made eunuchs by men: and there are eunuchs, that made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it." Matt 19:12


    And Jesus answered and said to them, "Truly I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, `Be taken up and cast into the sea,' it will happen. "And all things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive." Matt 21:21-22

    Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. Matt 7:7-8

    just a few, there are many many more.
  18. nds1 Registered Senior Member

    Are there any first-hand accounts of any of the 47 miracles performed by Jesus in the Bible (other than any of 12 apostles)?
  19. IceAgeCivilizations Banned Banned

    The Talmud says that Jesus performed miracles, and the unbelieving Jews who wrote it said that the miracles He performed were by demonic power.
  20. spidergoat Liddle' Dick Tater Valued Senior Member

    I agree that much of our Jesus material is relatively late; in fact, I will argue that the most explicit Jesus passages (those passages that deal with him as a person) appear only in the Babylonian Talmud and can be dated, at the earliest, to the late third–early fourth century C.E. ... I propose that these (mainly) Babylonian stories about Jesus and his family are deliberate and highly sophisticated counternarratives to the stories about Jesus’ life and death in the Gospels—narratives that presuppose a detailed knowledge of the New Testament, in particular of the Gospel of John, presumably through the Diatessaron and/or the Peshitta, the New Testament of the Syrian Church.25 More precisely, I will argue—following indeed some of the older research—that they are polemical counternarratives that parody the New Testament stories, most notably the story of Jesus’ birth and death. They ridicule Jesus’ birth from a virgin, as maintained by the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, and they contest fervently the claim that Jesus is the Messiah and the Son of God. Most remarkably, they counter the New Testament Passion story with its message of the Jews’ guilt and shame as Christ killers. Instead, they reverse it completely: yes, they maintain, we accept responsibility for it, but there is no reason to feel ashamed because we rightfully executed a blasphemer and idolater. Jesus deserved death, and he got what he deserved. Accordingly, they subvert the Christian idea of Jesus’ resurrection by having him punished forever in hell and by making clear that this fate awaits his followers as well, who believe in this impostor. There is no resurrection, they insist, not for him and not for his followers; in other words, there is no justification whatsoever for this Christian sect that impudently claims to be the new covenant and that is on its way to establish itself as a new religion (not least as a “Church” with political power).
  21. IceAgeCivilizations Banned Banned

    And as much as you and Rome stomp your feet, the number of believers grows much every day.
  22. spidergoat Liddle' Dick Tater Valued Senior Member

    That would seem to be irrelevent to the topic of the historical evidence for Jesus.
  23. IceAgeCivilizations Banned Banned

    No, the believers knew it was the truth, you don't die for what you know to be a lie, make sense?

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