Alternatives to the crucifixion story

Discussion in 'Comparative Religion' started by Sorcerer, Jan 2, 2014.

  1. Walter L. Wagner Cosmic Truth Seeker Valued Senior Member

    Yes, the term 'mates' is generally accepted to mean friends/buddies/pals/playmates, not sexual partners with whom one mates.

    But with respect to your assertion above, I disagree. Execution on the cross was very common, and I seriously doubt the Romans kept track of all the names of the people so executed. During the slave revolt, some six thousand of re-captured slaves were crucified and left for days along the Appian Way. I seriously doubt the Romans recorded their names.

    Had a historical figure known as Jesus not existed, I seriously doubt there would have arisen numerous accounts of him, as we see in Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and numerous others. Those accounts by non-Roman people in that area all detail execution by crucifixion. Indeed, I seriously doubt that any of the judicial records of Pontius Pilate and other judges of that era even exist nowadays, and were likely destroyed ages ago; just as the Jewish temple was destroyed by the Romans circa 70 A.D.
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  3. Sorcerer Put a Spell on you Registered Senior Member

    I think I would take issue with this, because Jesus was not just another person who was executed, like a common criminal, but a high profile political prisoner, and I would have thought that in that case there would have been some records as TheHun suggests. The case may have been high-profile enough for some mention to be made outside of the judicial records.

    On a slightly different note - and I'm no biblical scholar - I wonder whether the figure known as Jesus was actually several or indeed many different people. There would have been plenty of dissidents, trouble-makers if you like, wandering about, maybe preaching similar stuff and feeding off each others teachings. That would explain why it is difficult to pin down a single figure. I don't doubt that many such people would have been executed.
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  5. Walter L. Wagner Cosmic Truth Seeker Valued Senior Member

    the jewish reports (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, etc.) report that he was executed like a common criminal (two criminals executed along with him). i suspect that the roman authorities had little reason to believe he was a "high profile political prisoner" or that his execution would arouse sympathy from the masses. apparently, it did not, as the masses sought the release of a high profile criminal (barabbas: ), not jesus. accordingly, the roman authorities released barrabas, not the little-known nazarite.
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  7. Sorcerer Put a Spell on you Registered Senior Member

    Like I said, I'm no scholar, but he was mocked as the king of the jews, given a crown, and singled out for special treatment. He wasn't guilty of any normal crime as far as I know, so it was certainly political.

    The other guy might well have been more popular with the masses.
  8. TheHun Registered Member

    The Romans have not kept any records of anyone like Jesus even existing. If he did, he was just one among others who never made enough of an impact to have been singled out.
  9. Walter L. Wagner Cosmic Truth Seeker Valued Senior Member

  10. TheHun Registered Member

    and so do many other fictional characters, what's the point? just look at all the movies spawned by Mary Shelly's Frankenstein and the cult following vampires have. there is no historical record of anyone like Jesus having existed--and no, religious texts are not facts they are conjunctions and interpretations of local lore and mythologies. since the time in which a Jesus supposedly existed was rife with social and political turmoil (and the Roman conquest definitely counts towards contributing to that), it is a given that prophets arose. that's a historical fact. if jesus was one man, or is a composite of many such figures is up for debate. In either case, we have no reliable source that attests to jis actual existence. it seems much more likely that the writers and editors of biblical writings took some liberties in assembling that figure.
  11. Walter L. Wagner Cosmic Truth Seeker Valued Senior Member

    i take it you don't believe the wikipedia article about Josephus, cited above?
  12. gmilam Valued Senior Member

  13. Walter L. Wagner Cosmic Truth Seeker Valued Senior Member

    are you also disputing the existence of an historical figure from which developed Krishna worship/religion?

    do you also dispute the existence of an historical figure that gave rise to Buddha worship/religion? to Islam religion?
  14. TheHun Registered Member

    Let’s leave aside the validity and reliability factor of Wikipedia and just deal with Josephus for one.
    Are you of the opinion that if his writings portray a pro-Roman bias, why would he lie about anything that happened in Palestine of that time?

    Clearly, he wrote about things he had heard but not experienced himself. Being born in 37/38 CE would imply that. And the fact that he did not start his career until after 66CE makes it obvious. So he hears stories and combined with his religious background and his knowledge of mythology he puts a few things together and comes to the conclusion that it would make a better story if he created one figurehead out of (let’s just say there were 3 prominent prophetic figures at the time) available people for that job. And yes, we ignore women prophets because the bible is and was a book by men for men about men.

    So does that make this composite figure into one man? Well, once you give it a name and there are no people around who can say no—after all that Jesus guy had already been dead at that time—then yes, you have a man—a fictional one, but let’s not be so demanding.

    Still, the Romans who kept exacting records never mention this man and my money is on the Romans and not some historian who wrote a story that mostly serves to appease his compatriots chafing under Roman rule.

    In short, he adds to the then-current religious mythology of his people in an effort to make their
    Belwo is that famous reference to the alleged existence of Jesus.
    "Jewish Antiquities", by Flavius Josephus. Book 18, Chapter 3, paragraphs 1-5. Paragraph 3 is the Testimonium Flavianum itself, which contains the reference to Jesus Christ. (William Whiston translation of "Jewish Antiquities")

    So there is the whole reference to Jesus on Josephus work. Now if you read the text where this paragraph is found, Jewish Antiquities, then you realize quickly enough why so many scholars doubt the authenticity of that paragraph—it does not fit in with the rest of the narrative and is assumed to have been a later insertion.

    To answer your question in a concise and succinct manner: NO, I do not think that the work you cite is prove that Jesus existed.
    a) the Romans have no record of his existence or his execution.
    b) If Josephus actually wrote that paragraph—and remember it is only one paragraph in an entire chronicle—then all he is doing is recapping rumors he heard.
    c) the authenticity of that paragraph as being the work of Josephus is questioned.
  15. Walter L. Wagner Cosmic Truth Seeker Valued Senior Member

    apparently you did not read the majority view cited in the wikipedia article, or don't believe the majority view. there were 3 references, not 1. the 1 you cite was also considered unreliable in the majority view.
  16. Jan Ardena OM!!! Valued Senior Member


    I'm not getting ''pissy'' about anything.
    I understand what was meant by ''mates''.

    It may or may not be an important part of my belief system, but what I believe is irrelevant.
    And this is not a science thread.

    You've certainly got that right. I'd go as far as to say I'm on the wrong website, so it's a good thing I don't come here for that. Isn't it?

    I didn't say he ''actually existed''. Did I?

    Would it have been?

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    No it doesn't.

    So mockery ceases to be when the viewpoints differ.

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    What I'm talking about has nothing to do with belief or lack of it. I'm just pointing out that his remarks are laced with mockery, and dishonesty, and when one looks at the said scripture, and all the serious commentary that is and has been associated with them, stupidity.

    I don't see why he made that point (if indeed he did), I'm not concerned with discussing belief, or dogma, and have not done so thus far.
    This out of place concentration on those themes, by him, serve as evidence of his own dogmatic belief.

    I'm talking about the information that is contained with the scriptures, not whether or not they are true.

    You haven't looked enough into this subject to get me to the point of feeling victimized, or to become whiny.
    You haven't even scratched the surface.

  17. Aqueous Id flat Earth skeptic Valued Senior Member

    More people believe in things other than Christianity, so if reality followers the numbers as you suggest, then some other story besides the legend of Jesus is the correct story and the Jesus story is incorrect and should not be followed.

    The good news is that Josephus is a historical person as is Pilate. The bad news is that Josephus was born after Pilate was retired from duty. He therefore is not an eyewitness to anything told in the Gospels. You may also wish to try to decide if Jesus was instead executed in the era of Josephus, and/or whether Josephus recalls any mention of Jesus or John the Baptist before or after the escalation of hostilities (ca 67-72). And you can even assume that the experts who explain how Josephus is not the author of the remarks about either man are wrong. Pretty soon it will develop into futile quest for the historical Jesus, but not without a lot of rich detail about the period, if you're into that sort of thing.

    It's a good place to start, but it's a slippery slope. Either I'm losing my mind or this article has undergone major revisions since I last read it. Both are probably true.

    All of those religions are just as fantastic in their use of legend, myth, fables and magic. There is no historical Krishna, no historical Buddha (Siddhartha) and no historical Mohammad. These are all legendary characters just as Jesus is. And yet billions of people believe such stories, which was gmilam's point.

    Not in Roman criminal justice proceedings it wasn't. Romans were immune from crucifixions on the basis of citizenship. It was mainly used against slaves and rebels as a deterrent, to keep them in compliance. On this fact alone Jesus best fits the profile of an executed rebel. I think you meant to say that it is mentioned in several sources of that period; it's a historical fact that Romans used crucifixions and there are several sources who speak of hundreds or thousands of people being executed this way. However the mass executions all seem to be inflicted on slaves or Jews. And there is nothing more than anecdotal evidence to suggest that Jews were ever executed for anything other than treason.

    Regardless of whether they did or didn't there is no competent evidence to corroborate even a realistic version of the Gospel story.

    Even if we treat that as an exaggerated number, it doesn't help explain why any trial and conviction remotely similar to the legend got no official mention since it would have taken a minimal effort. And the legend goes out of its way to tie the Sanhedrin to Pilate without any corroborating story found in rabbinical records and lore. But this isn't the right tack for speaking to the historicity of a person in a legend. This is a little like looking for reasons that Johnny Appleseed left no records of purchase from a feed store, or that Paul Bunyan never got a permit to cut wood on federal lands. A little closer to home are the records of the various witch hunts of colonial American Protestants. There may be enough historical evidence to reconstruct the historical fact of terrorizing women under the color of law, but no one is looking for any evidence that these women actually levitated or communed with the dead.

    No such historical person exists. You're wrong about that. We might need to define what we mean, but under the common definition you'd have to agree that at best there is speculation that some person who was crucified for his complicity in the Judaean rebellion may be personified in the legend. But that's as much as it could be - speculation, which reflects beliefs, not evidence.

    Those aren't historical accounts, nor are they four sources. There are at best two sources, Q (John) and M (the synoptic gospels), so designated because the stories are of unknown origin. None of those are historical people, just names added to them by the Catholic Church early in its decisions of what to leave in and what to leave out. In any case, these are not accounts of what happened, just legends. You don't imagine that some journalist accompanied Lazarus (one version of Lazarus anyway) as he got his Scrooge-like tour of Hell just before Jesus reanimated him. Nor would any witness know for sure whether Joseph was Jesus' biological father (despite the two conflicting lineages trying to connect Joseph to David. Just as you can't place a person at the scene of the Crucifixion and at the same time at the Temple, watching the tabernacle come apart.

    There are no "others" unless you mean the Gnostic writings, which have little or nothing to do with the Jesus Christians believe in. All "others" would come far too late (or too early if you count Plato like I do). Even if the Gospels had been in the form of historical evidence, they are too far detached in time to be of any use. The oldest fragment (7 lines from John) was probably written in ca. 125 CE, way too late to constitute evidence even if it had some basis as an authentic document. But again there is no historical evidence that converts a legend into fact. At best it would be a credible document would serve as a myth buster, not something that perpetuates the myth.

    Not really. Josephus and Philo come to mind, but they make only passing remarks about crucifixions, some of which seem to use fabulous or legendary exaggerated numbers, and all of which seem based on nothing more than hearsay. However the overriding theme as it applies to a person crucified as "King of the Jews" is the important political and military fact that was unfolding: rebels were being crucified to send a message to the underground. Romans were going house to house slaughtering entire families. People were dying of starvation en masse as the Romans laid seige to them. And out of this we get the legend of the loaves and fishes, which sounds like the dream of starving person; and we get tales of general misery - leprosy, fatal illness and the magical acts of reanimating dead bodies, which, I might add, is even less plausible than the Pinocchio story. Jesus is just tramping around with his miserable followers and everything on Earth is gloomy, while all joy is only available post-mortem. Why the gloom and doom? Because they were suffering unspeakable horrors under Roman oppression. Yet no mention of this overwhelming reality slips into the legend one iota. Paul never even mentions how his Jewish mother ended up in Tarsus (Turkey). We are left to realize that there were refugees of the war. Imagine how that must have scarred them. In any case he certainly comes after the fact. Yet he too seems to have lost all of his genetic memory. It would seem that his mom was a bit of a Hebrew scholar and he himself probably spoke 4 languages (Greek, Aramaic, Hebrew and the native language of Tarsus) - 5 if we assume his duties in the Roman legion included following orders given in Latin. Yet with all of that scholarship, what happened to their memory of the decades of hostilities and atrocity under Roman occupation of Judaea (his mother's experience, not his, or perhaps her parents')? It's virtually overridden by the blind faith in a legend that is set in an era entirely before his birth, probably before his mother's birth -- depending on what date you claim the tabernacle in Jerusalem came apart.

    The Romans were bent on crushing the rebellion by a program of shock and awe against the stubborn little underground. They weren't trashing their own records and they wouldn't let the Jews touch their stuff. Besides when Pilate was recalled in ca. 36 CE they would have probably collected his records as part of the accountability process. In any case, it's only a legend so none of this applies.

    As for the destruction of the Temple, it's left to theologians to decide whether such a crucifixion took place during Pilate's tenure or not. Next you must decide whether the paranormal phenomena taking place at the tabernacle at the moment of the Jesus' death really happened at the moment of some execution, and in which year?

    This is a very slippery slope for the weavers of myth. They have to convince themselves that they are the chosen people and their God is the Supreme God above all others, yet he let some Jupiter-worshipping pagans trash his shrine? No, that wouldn't fly. But it does indicate that the legend grew up much later than the era of Pilate. And you sense this controversy in Jesus' own words "Father why have you abandoned me?" It's the voice of Judaic genetic memory, of all their failures and defeats at the hands of nonbelievers, even those which are merely legendary (captivity in Egypt is only a legend). They were hostages of Babylon (Iraq) then under the custody of Persians (Iran), Hellenized by Alexander the Great (Greece) and now had the boot of Rome firmly planted on their neck (Italy). Not counting the lesser wars and threats from Hittites, Assyrians and the troops using them as a layover as they crossed back and forth throughout history, they never really got that promised land. In fact God never really came through for them at all. This was an era of religious crisis. Eventually a movement got traction, but it contained elements of Egyptian, Iraqi, Iranian, Greek and Italian mythology. And indeed that's what you get in Jesus, all tied together under the mantle of a Hebrew Stoic, half Socrates, half freedom fighter, born of an magical Egyptian/Romanesque goddess (wed to a god), of Persian/Roman Mithraic character (a son of God, who had his last supper with 12 followers before his crucifixion) and all founded in remission of the Sin of Adam (probably a prehistoric king of Sumer) who was formed out of clay just like Enkidu, friend of Gilgamesh (demigod like Jesus) who was counseled by the archetypal Noah, Utnapishtim, who was told to build a raft and rescue to the animals from the Great Flood that was going to erase all the rest of humanity (Iraq). I could go on, but that's why the destruction of the temple is such a critical element in the appearance of Christianity. And yet the Gospels avoid it, and all references to the unprecedented scale of atrocities by Romans, like the plague.

    But when the heck was this alleged crucifixion supposed to have even happened? In the days of Pilate (ca 26-36 CE), during the life of Josephus (after 37 CE) and/or during the destruction of the Temple (67-72 CE)? Answer that and you'll be on your way to explaining the facts behind the legend, and the nature of legend itself, and how to distinguish one from the other.
  18. TheHun Registered Member

    If you understand what was meant by mates why then do you take exception—if pissy is too strong a word? Or did your jesus not have any friends or people who would care about him?
    My bad, it is a science forum
    If you are not here to proselytize, then you are trying to preach. Same difference.

    From your posts it appears that you belief that jesus was an actual person, so that implies that you think he existed.

    It is just as educated a guess as any one of those you make.
    How about looking at the context here?
    If you are not talking about points of doctrine and/or dogma then why are you even talking about scripture? Is this an exercise in semantics or what? If Sorcerer disputes textual interpretation, why is it mockery? He does not belief certain things to be true and you act as if stories written in some religion’s sacred text have truth value just because people want to believe so.

    And besides, what have I not looked into in regard to the subject? How would you know anyhow? Is it because I don’t agree with your interpretation of things?
    Ah, I forgot, majority rules—regardless if this is an impartial majority or an agenda driven one. Sure. And Faux News is an actual and impartial news organization. Yeah, right. And no, I don’t think that Wikipedia is the answer to all questions.

    Since Aqueous ID already laid it all out in great detail and exactitude, I won’t repeat the obvious. Suffice it to say, if Jesus had been a historical figure with a significant following and if he had posed a threat to the Romans in a political manner, they would have had a record of his existence.

    Quoting the gospel writers as being sources; now that’s a cute one. They copied from each other and thereby used the same sources. That’s why they are called the synoptic gospels and only the gospel of John stands out as being different in content and message. But again, the gospel writers and Josephus are just people who wrote down other people’s stories. Then too, in the 1st and 2nd century, there were many opinions about who or what the Christos was and the majority opinion was that the christos was not a person at all, but the manifestation of Logos. Saturninus and Irenaeus are just two proponents of that idea and who insist that logos never became corporeal and physically manifest. Theophilus (115 -185 CE), an early bishop of Antioch had never even heard of jesus and explained the term “christian” as meaning anointed by god—christos means simply anointed it is not the name of a person. He says that in “Theophilus to Autolycus (book 1; chap. XII)” –meaning of the name Christian.

    Christianity was far from monolithic in the first three hundred some years of its inception. And let’s not forget, it took imperial decree and significant pressure for the edition of texts we now call the Christian bible to be edited and published in the form we know it.
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2014
  19. Jan Ardena OM!!! Valued Senior Member


    ''Mates'' is a modern English terminology that stands apart from ''friends'' as far as relationships go. I know this because being from England, the use of that expression is second nature to me.

    Point out where I'm ''trying to preach''?

    So you're basing your responses on what you think I mean as opposed to what I actually say?

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    My guesses are based on the actual document which give account of this act, and there is no hint of what you propose.

    Why shouldn't I talk about scripture?

    From your perspective, it may seem like ''an exercise in semantics'', but it's not. The Bible is a book which communicates on many levels, and it seems to me that you choose to view it from a naturalistic, materialist viewpoint. This means that you can only comprehend it up to a certain point and therefore anything beyond that is just blah! blah! blah. I get it.

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    I've already explained what I meant by ''mockery''.

    Again you're showing that you have not really taken in what I'm saying, and you are just reactionary.
    I've already stated that the honest position falls purely in the category of belief or lack of, agree/disagree, or accept/not accept. There is no way one can actually know (at least through our basic senses). It's quite obvious which category Sorcerer falls in, and I don't have a problem with that. My contention was his flippancy.

    You accused me of whining, and playing the victim, in response to the OP. The fact that there is no need for me to whine or feel victimized, and that I am not whining, and don't feel victimized, plus there is no need for me to whine and feel victimized, shows that you have limited of the subject matter.

    How have I interpreted things?

  20. Walter L. Wagner Cosmic Truth Seeker Valued Senior Member

    Somehow I don't get the impression that you are a scholar who has read through all of the extant texts from 2,000 years ago to make that assertion. And further, it appears to me that most writings from then no longer exist - even the scholarly writings - having suffered the ravages of the ages. see
  21. TheHun Registered Member

    No, I have not read through all of them, just a few. I know how to do research and know enough about history to tell you that yes, these texts still exist in translation and in archives –Vatican library is very useful here. But in any event, since the texts you refer to are actually less than 2000 years old and have been used as basis for exegesis and scholarly discussion ever since they were published and have survived that way, they are still available for study and or research, albeit in translations and transcriptions.

    So what is your point? Are you insinuating I am too stupid to know what I am talking about? Not really, I know how to read and how to put two and two together.

    You can easily find the authors I mentioned and numerous academic treatises about their work, the role their work played in the development of early christianity and the influence they had on later generations. The library of Alexandria might have been a great repository of knowledge, but it certainly was not the only one. And how would all those historians and religious scholars who made their names by translating and interpreting the authors of commentaries about the early church done their work if they all disappeared because of the loss of one library? That is really over-simplification of this issue.

    Why don’t you read the authors I mentioned—in whatever translation and see for yourself that the early followers of christos as logos actually said about the non-existence of a corporeal Christ. Your reliance on Josephus is not conducive to answering the question if there actually was a physical Jesus Christos or not.
  22. TheHun Registered Member

    Then your reaction still makes no sense.

    The gospel according to you where everything you say is the truth and nobody better disagrees!? That one.

    Well, at least you get to practice rolling the little eyeballs. Your supercilious attitude aside, when you write about Jesus as a person, yes I can then safely assume that you believe that he actually existed. So why do you act as if that contradicts anything I said about your assertions in that regard?
    Yeah, that account was written long after that imaginary figure died and there was not one eyewitness there to corroborate this myth. So that document documents nothing but a story told by someone who said he heard it from someone. Hardly a ringing endorsement concerning the truth value of said story.
    You might want to go back and look at the context of my original question. What is scripture if not dogma and doctrine of a given religious tradition? So how can you deny speaking to points of dogma/doctrine as if scripture was something totally removed from that kind of text?

    I highly doubt that you get it. You want to assert that people who disagree with your view of what scripture and mythology are supposed to be are too dumb to �it�. Well, we don�t get �it� because there is no �it� to get. Whatever you mean by multiple levels is not lost on those of us who do not read scripture in the hope of discovering a divine hand in existence. We just read it as a semi-historical account of a world some people wished existed. It is mythology and can be easily understood as such. You look for spiritual meaning, I look for socio-cultural context and an insight into people�s lives of the time. In short, your �it� is not my �it�.

    Back to that. Fine, you call it mockery because you don�t like what he says and how he says it. Yet, you see nothing wrong with your own patronizing attitude and the manner with which you dismiss those who disagree with you.

    I am not quite sure why you need to reiterate this so often, but yes, you get whiney and lash out at those who disagree with your interpretation of the matter under discussion.

    I have sufficient grasp of the subject to know better than to follow doctrinal interpretation of a text deemed scripture and form my own opinion of it. You may not think that I know the subject simply because I do not believe it has any value except as a religious text, but that does not make it so. I, at least, am not hampered by believing something just because I am told to do so by those with vested interest in the continuation of the religious tradition in question. So stop being so patronizing, your own belief system notwithstanding, it is hardly the only one out there and by all accounts not the most benevolent one either as its history shows abundantly. Oh, yes, its scripture does so too.
  23. Walter L. Wagner Cosmic Truth Seeker Valued Senior Member

    Like many such articles, it's undergone numerous revisions until the present (yesterday). I am not one of the revisers/authors. I would not consider it to be 'the final word'. I am not well-versed on all of the literature pertaining to that era. But I do take exception with the general conclusion of The Hun et al. asserting that Jesus was such a well-known figure as described in the New Testament that surely he would have been written about by the Romans, and since he was not, ergo he did not exist.

    It appears instead that the New Testament describes a little-known individual who spent only 3 years as an itinerant preacher, never straying far from his home town, and developing a following of only a few thousand at most, most all of whom were country folk, not city folk. When he did venture into the big city with some of his followers, he was quicly eliminated as being a 'threat' to the well-established religious establishment. I seriously doubt that he was considered by the Roman hierarchy to be anyone of import deserving of a footnote in history.

    Further, I seriously doubt that ANYONE even has any court records from that era showing anything for any criminal charge. Petty crimes to serious felonies, those records no longer exist, and likely have not existed for millenia. If you could show some such extant record for others, then maybe one could make a case that lack of such records would indicate lack of his existence.

    Finally, in those days, most people were illiterate. Instead, it was the custom to pass knowledge via oral tradition. For example in Livy's day (59 BC to 17 AD; ; ; ) it had become the custom to carry the bride across the threshold of the groom's door. This was done in commemoration of the Rape of the Sabine Daughters that Livy wrote about, in which Romulus plotted the capture of the Sabine daughters ( ) to populate his fledgling city. Such traditions become well-ingrained in people such that some 600 years after the fact it was still being practiced in Rome during Livy's time (and still practiced modernly in some places!). So it makes sense (to me) that people would not have initially written about someone whom they knew nothing about, but over time as his fame spread, they began writing down the stories they'd heard about him.
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2014

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