Ph.D. Historian on Christian origins (1 Viewer)

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    Several enjoyable and informative videos from lectures by Dr. Richard Carrier on the origins of Christianity from a non-supernatural perspective...

    Rapture Day


    Why the Gospels are Myths


    Acts as Historical Fiction


    Did Jesus Even Exist?


    Christianity without Jesus
     
    There is some evidence that the Flavian dynasty was the source of the writings that are now known as the gospel.
     
    There is some evidence that the Flavian dynasty was the source of the writings that are now known as the gospel.
    Are you talking about Joseph Atwill? I know he speculates that, but he's not an historian and his theories haven't passed any peer review. If, for example, there was single author or group of authors, as he claims, there'd be less contradiction and more harmony. But the various authors each had their own, often opposing, agendas (look no further than the Gospels, which provide ample contradictions even though the authors of each subsequent gospel were using the one(s) written previously).

    That said, I think it is pretty well accepted that early Christianity died out among it's Jewish followers before finding an audience among the gentiles of the Roman empire in the 2nd century, which by the fourth century did come to include Roman elite.
     
    I would say that Yeshua existed. I would also say that there is much attributed to him that he likely did not do or say. I would also say that most of the non-Gospel books were written to formulate theology. Since there are letters written by Paul, letters attributed to Paul but written by someone else and letters attributed to other authors we end up with a bit of a mish-mash in theological terms.
     
    I would say that Yeshua existed. I would also say that there is much attributed to him that he likely did not do or say. I would also say that most of the non-Gospel books were written to formulate theology. Since there are letters written by Paul, letters attributed to Paul but written by someone else and letters attributed to other authors we end up with a bit of a mish-mash in theological terms.
    It’s not impossible that there was an historical Jesus, but there’s really no clear evidence (either way). It really doesn't matter that much -- it's just an enigma that can probably never be satisfactorily resolved. Discounting the Gospels versions as mythology (as they are fantastical and absolutely nothing in the historical record supports anything about them), the religion most likely started one of two ways:
    1. Jesus was a very, very minor figure who was martyred, and who his followers then connected with a secret figure they unearthed in the Septuagint and then had visions where he appeared to them (or they first had visions after his death and then made the scriptural connections)
    2. Jesus was first discovered in the Septuagint and then his devotees began to see him in visions
    If you go by what Paul, our earliest chronicler, says, it’s option b -- Paul says that Jesus died, was buried and raised according to the Septuagint, and that then people started to see him in visions: “I delivered to you first, what also I did receive, that Christ died for our sins, according to the Writings, and that he was buried, and that he hath risen on the third day, according to the Writings, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve, afterwards he appeared to above five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain till now, and certain also did fall asleep; afterwards he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. And last of all — as to the untimely birth — he appeared also to me.”)
     
    Also, it’s interesting that you use the name Yeshua, which is the Hebrew for Jesus/Joshua, but the earliest writings are all in Greek and refer to a “Iēsous” (Ἰησοῦς). To my knowledge there are no surviving early Christian writings that used the name 'Yeshua,' so it’s achieved through projecting Iēsous to its Hebrew equivalent.

    The original Christians used the Septuagint (written in Greek), and Paul makes clear that the gospel he preached to his followers came via revelation from scripture and the heavenly Jesus, not from other apostles. See Galatians 1:11-12 (“And I make known to you, brethren, the good news that were proclaimed by me, that it is not according to man, for neither did I from man receive it, nor was I taught [it], but through a revelation of Jesus Christ”) and also the Corinthian Creed (1 Corinthians 15) where Paul states that “for I delivered to you first, what also I did receive, that Christ died for our sins, according to the Writings, and that he was buried, and that he hath risen on the third day, according to the Writings.”

    So according to Paul, his knowledge comes from revelation from the heavenly Jesus (and explicitly not from other men) and that otherwise Jesus’ activities were revealed to him via interpretations of the Septuagint (“the Writings”), which was again in Greek. So I guess my point is that for Paul, who authored the earliest surviving Christian texts and states he learned of Jesus from scripture and revelation, he did not follow a Hebrew from Galilee named Yeshua but a heavenly being revealed in scripture named Iēsous.

    Does any of that make sense? Just something that came to mind.
     
    One last post for now (apologies, once I get going...).

    Regarding what a historical Jesus said or did, it’s hard to pinpoint anything at all with any confidence (assuming of course that the received “revelations” were hallucinatory in origin, or simply fabricated). Discounting the epistles that are known forgeries, in the seven 'authentic' Pauline epistles he never makes any reference to an earthly, pre-resurrection Jesus, and Paul is pretty explicit that Jesus offered a legacy of neither miracles nor wisdom ( 1 Corinthians 1:22-23 – “Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles"). Similarly, other epistles (1 Peter, James, Jude) are also silent regarding an earthly ministry, while Hebrews states that Jesus is architect of the universe (1:2) and was not an earthly priest but a heavenly high priest (8:1-6). Revelation likewise describes a heavenly being (Revelation 1:13-16).

    Also, 1 Clement is an early epistle dating to the latter half of the first century. At one point (1 Clement 13:1-13:2) he claims to quote from Jesus, but is actually just quoting from Psalms 34.

    So what we supposedly know about Jesus is generally derived from the Gospels -- which are fictional and mythologized to the point that if there is any historical data it’s impossible to find (and anyone who claims the Gospels are "eye witness accounts" is either lying or hopelessly misinformed).

    Mark wrote his Gospel making constant allusions to books of the Septuagint, which he used to craft his story around. Matthew copied much from Mark, but also freely changed or omitted what he didn’t like, changed the allusions to prophecies, and then used Jesus as his mouthpiece. The Sermon on the Mount, for example, was composed in Greek and addresses concerns of late first century Christians in the aftermath of the destruction of the temple.

    Luke copies from both Mark and also Matthew, but also freely makes changes in his attempt to improve the narrative, and John also used the earlier Gospels and was even more radical in his changes, again showing the evangelists had no respect for the other Gospels as being sacrosanct.

    None of events they claim were documented elsewhere and the Gospel authors cite no other sources. It looks like they just made stuff up and used Jesus as a mouthpiece to advance their own agendas.

    Again, that doesn't mean there wasn't a Jesus, only that we have no way of telling whether any traditions actually go back to him or were created by later figures. Even the Last Supper, for example, is not an historical event, but one that was first revealed to Paul via personal revelation (1 Corinthians 11:23-24 -- "For I -- I received from the Lord that which also I did deliver to you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which he was delivered up, took bread, and having given thanks, he brake, and said, `Take ye, eat ye, this is my body, that for you is being broken; this do ye -- to the remembrance of me.'"). If it was an actual witnessed event, as the Gospels later depicted it as, then why was it not known of until it was revealed to Paul?

    Alright, I think I'm done for now.
     
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    Are you talking about Joseph Atwill? I know he speculates that, but he's not an historian and his theories haven't passed any peer review. If, for example, there was single author or group of authors, as he claims, there'd be less contradiction and more harmony. But the various authors each had their own, often opposing, agendas (look no further than the Gospels, which provide ample contradictions even though the authors of each subsequent gospel were using the one(s) written previously).

    That said, I think it is pretty well accepted that early Christianity died out among it's Jewish followers before finding an audience among the gentiles of the Roman empire in the 2nd century, which by the fourth century did come to include Roman elite.

    Yes, Caesar's Messiah.

    The way I understood it, the Flavians got the ball rolling, then believers added to it, which is why there are discrepancies and contradictions in the gospels.

    And just to clarify, I am not saying that is what happened. I am just pointing out there is some evidence of it, not proof. I see Josephus as evidence, who I believe is the only non-biblical historian to ever write anything about Jesus. He is basically adopted by Vespasian and becomes Flavius Josephus around 69 AD. Around 90 AD, he writes about Jesus and references John the Baptist. The first gospel is said to have been written anywhere between 50 and 90 AD.

    I don't think it is far fetched that the Emperor of Rome had his scribe create a pacifist holy man from bits and pieces of other religions in order to control the Christian masses.

    It is certainly more plausible than a teenager being magically inseminated and giving birth without losing her virginity. :hihi:
     
    I would say that Yeshua existed. I would also say that there is much attributed to him that he likely did not do or say. I would also say that most of the non-Gospel books were written to formulate theology. Since there are letters written by Paul, letters attributed to Paul but written by someone else and letters attributed to other authors we end up with a bit of a mish-mash in theological terms.

    I think it is a character who was created through the amalgamation of many deities' myths from other cultures.
     
    Yes, Caesar's Messiah.

    The way I understood it, the Flavians got the ball rolling, then believers added to it, which is why there are discrepancies and contradictions in the gospels.

    And just to clarify, I am not saying that is what happened. I am just pointing out there is some evidence of it, not proof. I see Josephus as evidence, who I believe is the only non-biblical historian to ever write anything about Jesus. He is basically adopted by Vespasian and becomes Flavius Josephus around 69 AD. Around 90 AD, he writes about Jesus and references John the Baptist. The first gospel is said to have been written anywhere between 50 and 90 AD.

    I don't think it is far fetched that the Emperor of Rome had his scribe create a pacifist holy man from bits and pieces of other religions in order to control the Christian masses.

    It is certainly more plausible than a teenager being magically inseminated and giving birth without losing her virginity. :hihi:
    Jesus appears twice in Josephus' Antiquities of the Jews (circa 93 AD), but both are pretty sketchy in terms of authenticity. The larger passage, the Testimonium Flavianum, is clearly a Christian forgery, probably forged by Eusebius in the early 4th century (and all existing copies of AotJ can be traced back to Eusebius' copy). It shows a dependence upon the Emmaus narrative from the Gospel of Luke (which is ironic as the Gospel of Luke shows dependencies on AofJ, suggesting it was written after 93AD), but there is absolutely zero chance it was written by Josephus in its current form.

    Apologists have tried to salvage it by arguing that there may have been something else that was later "improved" by Christian forgers, and even go so far as to try to imagine what that might have been, but I think the arguments that the whole thing is a fake are much stronger (for example, the narrative flows much smoother from passage to passage when it's removed).

    The second reference is a referenced to a "James, the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ," with the part I italicized as likely being an interpolation. The reasons to think this are that the narrative is about how James was unlawfully stoned by a high priest, and then to make restitution, Jesus, son of Damneus, was elevated to high priest. So it's makes pretty logical sense that the James who was stoned was the brother of Jesus, son of Damneus, and either Jesus, son of Damneus, was the one one "who was called Christ" (translating Christ as "anointed") or (more likely) it's just an interpolation.

    Also, the only appearance of John the Baptist outside of the Gospels is in AofJ (neither Jesus nor John the Baptist appear in his earlier, Jewish Wars, circa 73 AD) , so there is a question of whether that might also be an interpolation, but I truly haven't paid it much thought.

    But beyond that, yeah, there's absolutely nothing about Jesus outside of the New Testament until you get into the second century, and then you're dealing with responses to Christianity, not witnesses to Jesus. For example, there is a passage in Tacitus (circa 116AD) that references "Chrestians" who followed a "Christus" who was executed by Pilate, but at best it appears to simply be repeating Christian claims rather than confirming them, and at worst it's also possibly been altered.

    As far as the origin of the religion, I think there's pretty good anecdotal evidence of how cults can form from the ground up (see Mormonism -- Joseph Smith claims revelation from Moroni just as Paul claimed revelation from Jesus), so I don't think Christianity is any different. You really just need a charismatic spokesperson and an audience who wants to believe in something. Plus you see evidence of lots of splintering of beliefs (Paul even references in Galatians that there were already people preaching the "wrong" gospel in the mid first century) until the official cannon was established, followed by suppression of "heretical" beliefs. Then by the fourth century the ruling elites had commandeered the church, and they became in control of what was retained and was was destroyed.

    If you watch the first video above (Rapture Day) it kind of sets the table for first century Jewish apocalyptic thought, which is what Christianity sprang from. Add in contemporary events, the creation of the Septuagint, which allowed for easier cross referencing of the Hebrew scriptures (making it easier to link "hidden" messages in the text), predictions in Daniel being reinterpreted for the early first century, and you start to see how it evolved.

    Plus there is evidence from the Jewish Philosopher, Philo, of a 1st century of a belief among some Jews in a son of God (from On the Confusion of Tongues, written in the early first century, "For the Father of the universe has caused him to spring up as the eldest son, whom, in another passage, he calls the firstborn; and he who is thus born, imitating the ways of his father, has formed such and such species, looking to his archetypal patterns"). Philo describes this firstborn son of God the same way that Paul describes Jesus, so it's pretty reasonable to think that they shared some common thoughts.

    See this post for specific passages of how the idea of Jesus could come to be just from studying books of the Old Testament/Septuagint without an actual Jesus...

     
    I think it is a character who was created through the amalgamation of many deities' myths from other cultures.
    There was more to it, but first century pagan beliefs clearly made an impact on early Christianity. Jewish thought had syncretized with Zoroastrianism during the Persian conquest (establishing the idea of a battle of light versus dark, elevation of Satan to “the adversary,” and the idea of an afterlife, heaven and hell), so it’s reasonable to think that it syncretized with Greek and Roman beliefs – such as a Son of God (again, see Philo).

    And there were definitely other dying and rising savior gods, or sons of gods, including Dionysus (the god of wine and the harvest, who also turned water into wine and whose followers communed with by eating bread and drinking wine), so it was not an uncommon theme in the first century.

    And then you have Inanna, a Mesopotamian goddess that dates back over 6000 years. Inanna had a passion in which she was put on trial and descended to the underworld. As she descends she passes seven gates, and each time clothing is removed until she is naked. She is then turned into a corpse hung up hook (i.e. crucified) for three days and nights, and then is resurrected. This tale seems very influential on Jesus’ passion and crucifixion narratives.

    But the biggest influences, as far as drawing from existing mythology, is really the Old Testament/Septuagint. Jesus is a new Jewish super hero that is made to replace his predecessors, and when the Gospels were being written the Septuagint is where the authors looked to find his deeds. In the Gospels you see heavy elements of Elijah and Elisha from Kings (John the Baptist, the forerunner of Jesus, is drawn from Elijah, the forerunner to Elisha), Moses, David, Jonah, etc. He’s like all of them, but greater.

    You can go through the Gospel of Mark (the first Gospel, which was used to craft the other three) and literally line by line you can find a source in the OT for text (the crucifixion scene, for example, draws very heavily from Psalm 22). Which is one reason it’s impossible to project whether anything in the Gospels has an historical element when there are clear literary sources.

    Got some time on your hands? Hit the link below. The author goes through each passage of the Gospels and shows where they were pulled from, pulling back the curtain to show how new myths were literally created from old.

    http://www.robertmprice.mindvendor.com/art_midrash1.htm
     
    My thought that Yeshua actually existed doesn’t stem from the Gospels. The occupation of Israel and the alleged complicity of the priest/ruling class made it likely for basically “evangelical” charismatic figures to appear stirring up trouble. Such personages would be useful in creation of a narrative.
     
    My thought that Yeshua actually existed doesn’t stem from the Gospels. The occupation of Israel and the alleged complicity of the priest/ruling class made it likely for basically “evangelical” charismatic figures to appear stirring up trouble. Such personages would be useful in creation of a narrative.
    Without a doubt there were such people, the difference with Jesus Christ being that he was identified by his cult as celestial being who predated existence.

    In Josephus' Jewish Wars he actually discusses a Jesus ben Ananias, who stirred up trouble in the 60's prophesizing the destruction of Jerusalem until he was handed over to the Romans, who allegedly tortured him. He was considered a mad man and released and died several years later during the siege by Rome of Jerusalem. Some scholars argue that Mark’s Gospel has some dependence upon this story, which would date the Gospel after 73 AD when JW was written.

    Then in the Antiquities of the Jews Josephus actually describes four messiah like pretenders (Judas of Gallillee, Theudas, Simon of Peraea, and Athronges). Little sidebar – these four pretenders are also presented in Luke, providing a clue the author of Luke used AofJ as a source and that this Gospel should thus be dated after 93 AD when AotJ was written. Josephus presents the four rebels out of chronological order, and Luke betrays his source by repeating the same order but mistakenly claims it to be chronological (so it looks like he was just copying from Josephus and failed to recognize that they were presented non-chronologically).

    There’s another interesting thing about these four figures. They were all trying to be the next messiah by trying to repeat acts of the biblical Joshua. Now consider that the names Joshua and Jesus are identical in ancient Greek -- Ἰησοῦς / Iēsous – again, the language of the Septuagint. For example, just as Joshua/Iēsous/Jesus led the Israelites across the River Jordan, Theudas led his followers to the River Jordan, and planned to part and cross it but was captured and killed.

    So it’s quite possible that messianic pretenders were trying to be the next Joshua/Iēsous/Jesus, and coincidentally the Christians worshipped a messiah named Joshua/Iēsous/Jesus who they identified in the scriptures as God’s son and agent of creation. One might suspect that since the military messiahs weren’t working out, Christians found a way to make their prophecies of deliverance true by imagining their messiah not to have been earthly, but heavenly.

    So why was the name Jesus important? Go to Zechariah 6:11-13, where “Joshua son of Jehozadak” (which would have been identical in Greek to “Jesus son of God”) is crowned as high priest and charged with building Gods temple. Where is Gods temple? Heaven, of course. How does Hebrews describe Jesus? As the heavenly high priest who sits at the right hand of God in heaven (Hebrews 8:1-5). Also, the son of god Philo identifies in his On the Confusion of Tongues is identified with this passage in Zechariah. Let me repeat that. The non-Christian Jewish Philosopher Philo (20 BC-50 AD) refers to the passage in Zechariah where God’s heavenly high priest is crowned “Jesus son of God” when he discusses God’s first born son, who he describes the same way that Paul describes Jesus.

    Also consider, if you go back to the Corinthian Creed, no ministry or miracles are mentioned, it’s the crucifixion that is important. The significance of Jesus is that he was a sacrifice of god blood (1 Corinthians 1:23 “We preach Christ Crucified”), surpassing and replacing the animal sacrifices made on earth (Hebrews 8:5 “The place where they serve is a copy and shadow of what is in heaven”). Once the god blood has been spilled, sin is purged from the world and the end times can begin, and believers will be rewarded in heaven.

    And Paul never says where or when Jesus was killed, only that the scriptures and revelation have informed him that it took place, suggesting that it’s an article of faith that it has taken place, not something that was witnessed.

    Which leads to the “Jesus when?” question. Matthew and Luke both famously disagree with their nativity stories (Mark and John start with Jesus as an adult). Matthew dates Jesus’ birth during the reign of Herod, which ended in 4 BC, while Luke dates Jesus’ birth during the governorship of Quirinius, which began in 6 AD. They can’t both be right, but they could both be made up. But it can also be understood that followers might not have known for sure when he was born and that the stories just grew from legends.

    But what about when he died? If that was witnessed and experienced, shouldn’t that foundational event in Christianity have been a known fact? But it’s absolutely not. Scriptural interpretation leads to anywhere from 27-33 AD, depending on which Gospel you’re using. I find it really odd that, if there were actual witnesses to his death and resurrection (even if the resurrection was just in imagined visions), that when this took place wasn’t clearly recorded and established. Really odd. Unless it was simply imagined as having happened at some unknown place and time.

    Then factor in that there were other groups of Christians that did not identify the death of Jesus as having been under Pontius Pilate. The early church figure Irenaeus stated that Jesus was killed during the reign of Claudius (41-54 AD), the Gospel of Peter says he was put to death by King Herod Antipas, and in the Talmud it’s recorded that in the fourth century a sect of Torah observant Christians believed Jesus was executed during the rule of Alexander Janneus (103-76 BC).

    Again, if Jesus was historical, and Christianity began with his death, then it seems really odd that no one kept track of when that was. However, if Jesus was not historical, and his death and resurrection were articles of faith, then it’s not surprising that different sects would fill in the details of when and how that happened.
     
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    By the way, my apologies for the long winded posts. I've just read way too much about the subject and then like to try to fully explain where I'm coming from so it doesn't seem like I'm just pulling stuff out of my butt (which is why I leave references so if people want they can actually go look at what stuff says).
     
    By the way, my apologies for the long winded posts. I've just read way too much about the subject and then like to try to fully explain where I'm coming from so it doesn't seem like I'm just pulling stuff out of my butt (which is why I leave references so if people want they can actually go look at what stuff says).

    Apologies? I love reading the stuff you post.
     
    By the way, my apologies for the long winded posts. I've just read way too much about the subject and then like to try to fully explain where I'm coming from so it doesn't seem like I'm just pulling stuff out of my butt (which is why I leave references so if people want they can actually go look at what stuff says).
    No apology necessary. I enjoy it as well. I have read multiple books by Bart Ehrman, several by Elaine Pagels as well as various books by various other others. One is Jesus Against Christianity.
     
    Without a doubt there were such people, the difference with Jesus Christ being that he was identified by his cult as celestial being who predated existence.

    In Josephus' Jewish Wars he actually discusses a Jesus ben Ananias, who stirred up trouble in the 60's prophesizing the destruction of Jerusalem until he was handed over to the Romans, who allegedly tortured him. He was considered a mad man and released and died several years later during the siege by Rome of Jerusalem. Some scholars argue that Mark’s Gospel has some dependence upon this story, which would date the Gospel after 73 AD when JW was written.

    Then in the Antiquities of the Jews Josephus actually describes four messiah like pretenders (Judas of Gallillee, Theudas, Simon of Peraea, and Athronges). Little sidebar – these four pretenders are also presented in Luke, providing a clue the author of Luke used AofJ as a source and that this Gospel should thus be dated after 93 AD when AotJ was written. Josephus presents the four rebels out of chronological order, and Luke betrays his source by repeating the same order but mistakenly claims it to be chronological (so it looks like he was just copying from Josephus and failed to recognize that they were presented non-chronologically).

    There’s another interesting thing about these four figures. They were all trying to be the next messiah by trying to repeat acts of the biblical Joshua. Now consider that the names Joshua and Jesus are identical in ancient Greek -- Ἰησοῦς / Iēsous – again, the language of the Septuagint. For example, just as Joshua/Iēsous/Jesus led the Israelites across the River Jordan, Theudas led his followers to the River Jordan, and planned to part and cross it but was captured and killed.

    So it’s quite possible that messianic pretenders were trying to be the next Joshua/Iēsous/Jesus, and coincidentally the Christians worshipped a messiah named Joshua/Iēsous/Jesus who they identified in the scriptures as God’s son and agent of creation. One might suspect that since the military messiahs weren’t working out, Christians found a way to make their prophecies of deliverance true by imagining their messiah not to have been earthly, but heavenly.

    So why was the name Jesus important? Go to Zechariah 6:11-13, where “Joshua son of Jehozadak” (which would have been identical in Greek to “Jesus son of God”) is crowned as high priest and charged with building Gods temple. Where is Gods temple? Heaven, of course. How does Hebrews describe Jesus? As the heavenly high priest who sits at the right hand of God in heaven (Hebrews 8:1-5). Also, the son of god Philo identifies in his On the Confusion of Tongues is identified with this passage in Zechariah. Let me repeat that. The non-Christian Jewish Philosopher Philo (20 BC-50 AD) refers to the passage in Zechariah where God’s heavenly high priest is crowned “Jesus son of God” when he discusses God’s first born son, who he describes the same way that Paul describes Jesus.

    Also consider, if you go back to the Corinthian Creed, no ministry or miracles are mentioned, it’s the crucifixion that is important. The significance of Jesus is that he was a sacrifice of god blood (1 Corinthians 1:23 “We preach Christ Crucified”), surpassing and replacing the animal sacrifices made on earth (Hebrews 8:5 “The place where they serve is a copy and shadow of what is in heaven”). Once the god blood has been spilled, sin is purged from the world and the end times can begin, and believers will be rewarded in heaven.

    And Paul never says where or when Jesus was killed, only that the scriptures and revelation have informed him that it took place, suggesting that it’s an article of faith that it has taken place, not something that was witnessed.

    Which leads to the “Jesus when?” question. Matthew and Luke both famously disagree with their nativity stories (Mark and John start with Jesus as an adult). Matthew dates Jesus’ birth during the reign of Herod, which ended in 4 BC, while Luke dates Jesus’ birth during the governorship of Quirinius, which began in 6 AD. They can’t both be right, but they could both be made up. But it can also be understood that followers might not have known for sure when he was born and that the stories just grew from legends.

    But what about when he died? If that was witnessed and experienced, shouldn’t that foundational event in Christianity have been a known fact? But it’s absolutely not. Scriptural interpretation leads to anywhere from 27-33 AD, depending on which Gospel you’re using. I find it really odd that, if there were actual witnesses to his death and resurrection (even if the resurrection was just in imagined visions), that when this took place wasn’t clearly recorded and established. Really odd. Unless it was simply imagined as having happened at some unknown place and time.

    Then factor in that there were other groups of Christians that did not identify the death of Jesus as having been under Pontius Pilate. The early church figure Irenaeus stated that Jesus was killed during the reign of Claudius (41-54 AD), the Gospel of Peter says he was put to death by King Herod Antipas, and in the Talmud it’s recorded that in the fourth century a sect of Torah observant Christians believed Jesus was executed during the rule of Alexander Janneus (103-76 BC).

    Again, if Jesus was historical, and Christianity began with his death, then it seems really odd that no one kept track of when that was. However, if Jesus was not historical, and his death and resurrection were articles of faith, then it’s not surprising that different sects would fill in the details of when and how that happened.
    Re: the crucifixion I think the problem is that Jesus was a minor player in the scheme of things at that time. Yes, the miracles indicate many people either believing or following him to see what would happen but the only records we have are collated and written down decades after the fact. So we know little based on a lack of contemporary information. The Jewish leaders really weren’t all that concerned imo. The Romans were to a degree. Upsetting the status quo required a response. The Romans were smart enough to utilize existing institutions when coming to power over a people. Thus threats no matter their size against the Jewish leaders were viewed dimly by the Romans. Much like now the concept is not law and order but simply order. Law is a cover. Authoritarians fear disorder most of all. Chaos is unpredictable. Stop disorder before it becomes chaos.
     
    No apology necessary. I enjoy it as well. I have read multiple books by Bart Ehrman, several by Elaine Pagels as well as various books by various other others. One is Jesus Against Christianity.
    I would definitely recommend Bart Ehrman’s Forged, that’s a must read. Mark Goodacre’s The Case Against Q is another really good read, demonstrating the textual reliance between the Gospels. Also, Gospel Fictions by Randel Helms and The Mystery of Acts by Richard Pervo are good at explaining the mythological nature of both the Gospels and Acts.
     

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