Historical vs. Biblical Jesus

Buddy ChristChristian apologists love to play a bait and switch game.  They will argue that lots of secular historians accept at least the possibility of a real Jesus in the historical record, therefore, the Jesus in the Bible must be real!

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Now sure, there are plenty of secular historians who think there could have been a real person walking around Palestine who was the kernel of truth at the center of the Jesus myth.  I have no problem thinking there might have been an itinerant Jewish preacher in the first century CE upon whom the mantle of deity was posthumously draped by the anonymous writers of the Gospels.  That doesn’t make him the Biblical Jesus though.

The Jesus as recorded in the Bible performed miracles, he was born of a virgin and rose from the dead.  None of these details can either be validated independently, nor suggested by a real, human preacher.  It’s really not possible to get from one place to the other with any kind of credibility.  It’s like saying that because you can prove that once pleisosaurs existed, that proves the modern Loch Ness Monster is real.  One simply does not follow from the other.

Apologists don’t stop there, of course.  They apply the same ideas to the creation story and the flood story, among others.  For the flood story, for example, they will claim that the flooding of the Black Sea somehow proves that the story, as described in the Bible, actually took place. They’re willing to gloss over all of the details that don’t fit to have any hope of a historical, scientific backing, even if it ends up destroying their Biblical basis for belief.

See, doing this ultimately shoots them in the foot.  It just proves that the Bible is wrong.  If they’re willing to accept a non-supernatural, non-miracle-performing Jesus, then why bother with the Bible?  If they’re willing to accept a completely natural local flood, what part does Noah have to play?  If you only worry about justifying creation by scientific standards, all of the miracles vanish.  You really can’t have it both ways.  Either the Biblical stories are myths with a kernel of factual truth at the core or they are wholly and completely true, at least at the extremes.  If the former, they are worthless except as historical curiosities.  If the latter, they cannot be justified using rational, objective, evidence-based science.  Take your pick.  Just don’t try to play in the middle ground where you think that one somehow proves the other.  It just ain’t so.

55 thoughts on “Historical vs. Biblical Jesus

      1. Josephus Flavius, the Jewish historian, lived as the earliest non-christian who mentions a Jesus. Although many scholars think that Josephus' short accounts of jesus (in Antiquities) came from interpolations perpetrated by a later Church father (most likely, Eusebius), Josephus' birth in 37 C.E. (well after the alleged crucifixion of Jesus), puts him out of range of an eyewitness account. Moreover, he wrote Antiquities in 93 C.E., after the first gospels got written! Therefore, even if his accounts about Jesus came from his hand, his information could only serve as hearsay.

        1. I see you don't want to agree with Josephus. Go ahead and show he was wrong. You said there wasn't a shred of evidence. I gave you that shred of evidence. You go ahead and show he was wrong.

          1. Um, he was born after jesus allegedly died. I thought I made that clear

            So it is all hearsay.

          2. Yes, he was born later. And went to canaan and did research.

            Can you show he was wrong? Your conclusions are based on hearsay, but I haven't thrown that at you. Just go ahead and provide your reasons for disagreeing with Josephus.

          3. Perhaps I missed it. Can you explain why you think a man who traveled and spoke to witnesses is wrong? What do you base that on other than your personal biases?
            Do you have another historian in that time frame that denied the historical Jesus?

          4. It would not stand up in court or in facts that is why.

            Hell you could say you spoke to witnesses and no one would believe you

          5. You said:
            "…not one shred of evidence…."
            I provided you that shred. You didn't ask for evidence so air tight that it would stand up in court.

          6. You may want to revise your statement about 'shred of evidence' if that wasn't what you meant.

            I provided that. If you want to keep changing your standards, that's your prerogative. But at least be honest about what you said.

          7. A respected historian travels, interviews and reports.

            That is substantially more than a 'shred of evidence'.

            And you haven't offered any other period historians that differed with him.
            If you want to admit I offered that shred of evidence but you still won't change your opinion, that at least would be honest.

          8. You heard stories about the big bang theory and believed them.

            He was there, he was looking people in the eye and wanted to record history as it happened, it was his life.

          9. No, you apparently don't understand the difference between hearsay and evidence. Evidence is objective. It is not based on a claim, it's based on something that can be examined directly. Josephus is a claim and most of Josephus has been soundly discredited, he never actually wrote the things some theists think he wrote.

            If we found a book claiming that the Loch Ness Monster was real, that wouldn't prove the Loch Ness Monster was actually real.

          10. And Josephus took the first hand accounts and recorded them. He didn't make claims. He was objective, and is respected as a historian due to the quality of his work.

            Some discount him because they don't agree with his reports, but in some circles he is a reliable source. http://www.josephus.org/

            It's true most Roman records were destroyed when Jerusalem was leveled in 70 AD. But there is other records, and strangely enough because it backs the historical Jesus it's rejected by Atheists. I understand that.

            But to pretend there isn't a 'shred of evidence' isn't entirely true either.

          11. He did? Where are those first hand accounts? Of course, you're ignoring the demonstrated fact that Josephus never wrote the passage in question at all, it was a later Christian interpolation and the earliest Josephus manuscripts do not contain that passage at all.

          12. If we have a coupling with historical people and locations, then we should also have some historical reference of a jesus to these locations and people. But just the opposite proves the case. The Bible depicts Herod, the Ruler of Jewish Palestine under Rome as sending out men to search and kill the infant Jesus, yet nothing in history supports such a story. Pilate supposedly performed as judge in the trial and execution of jesus, yet no Roman record mentions such a trial. The gospels portray a multitude of believers throughout the land spreading tales of a teacher, prophet, and healer, yet nobody in jesus' life time or years after, ever records such a human figure. The lack of a historical jesus in the known historical record speaks for itself.

          13. Yes, it speaks to the fact that Jerusalem was totally destroyed.

            There is only hearsay evidence to the Jewish temple if you use your own standards. There is only hearsay to macro evolution or the big bang theory according to your standards.

            You hate Christianith, I understand that. But you have been provided that shred of evidence for four years now.

            And even if you reject that evidence it has been provided. http://books.google.com/books?id=3OO86CjXhJAC&amp

          14. Josephus also recorded in Galilee the wooden plow Jesus made were in demand due to quality.

            There is no evidence that the historical Jesus didn't exist. There are different opinions on His life and what it meant.

          15. So once again you come back with to answer a question with a question and it was a dumb question

      2. Josephus didn't live at the same time as Jesus, hence he never saw any of the things he supposedly wrote about with his own eyes. That's not evidence, it's hearsay. Evidence is something that anyone can examine with their own eyes, regardless of their beliefs on the subject.

        Got any of that?

        1. It's what historians do.

          If all historical study had your level of proof then we don't know about the magna carta. We don't know about the helenic wars, about the murder of Julius Ceasar.

          With the passing of eye witnesses, things would be shifting from facts to hearsay.

          1. almost all important historical people have descriptions of what they looked like. We have the image of Augustus Caesar cast on denarius coins, busts of Greek and Roman aristocrats, artwork of Napoleon, etc. We have descriptions of facial qualities, height, weight, hair length & color, age and even portraits of most important historical figures. But for jesus, we have nothing. Nowhere in the bible do we have a description of the human shape of jesus. How can we rely on the Gospels as the word of jesus when no one even describes what he looked like? How odd that none of the disciple characters record what he looked like, yet believers attribute them to know exactly what he said. Indeed, this gives us a clue that jesus came to the gospel writers and indirect and through myth. Not until hundreds of years after the alleged Jesus did pictures emerge as to what he looked like from cult christians, and these widely differed from a blond clean shaven, curly haired Apollonian youth (found in the Roman catacombs) to a long-bearded Italian as depicted to this day. This mimics the pattern of Greek mythological figures as their believers constructed various images of what their gods looked like according to their own cultural image.

          2. Yes, we do. You simply reject any source that accepted the evidence and hasn't rejected the life of Christ.

            Saint Nicholas has several depictions, Cleopatra has several depictions. Do you reject the historical accounts of their lives as well?

          3. There are also no records whatsoever for Joseph of Arimathea, no ownership papers for any tomb, and in fact, there's no record of any such place as Arimathea. But don't let that stop the theists from their wishful thinking.

          4. Historical people leave us with contemporary evidence, but for jesus we have nothing. If we wanted to present a fair comparison of the type of information about jesus to another example of equal historical value, we could do no better than to compare jesus with the mythical figure of Hercules.

          5. Yes, actually we do. Three first hand accounts of His life.
            You simply reject them since you don't like the conclusions they arrived at.

          6. Present them then. You claim there are three first hand accounts, you should have no problem proving it. And don't pretend the Gospels are evidence, those are anonymous accounts not written by the people whose names are on them.

            So put up or shut up.

          7. Yes, they were.
            He was an historian, that's what they do.

            He didn't write fictional accounts, he had a reputation and the Greeks and Romans had standards that he followed.

          8. He didn't write it at all, how many times do we have to keep repeating it? The only passage that mentions Jesus in any of Josephus' writings WAS A CHRISTIAN FORGERY!

          9. What he's doing is like saying Harry Potter is real and J.K. Rowling got first hand accounts from people who have seen Harry Potter do magic. It's just a blind assertion, it doesn't prove anything, there's no evidence that any of Roger's supposed "first hand accounts" ever actually existed, he just desperately wants to believe and will go to any lengths, no matter how absurd, to justify his blind faith. Nobody else is going to take him seriously though because he has no clue what evidence is, he has no ability to rationally or critically evaluate his own claims and he's not interested in whether or not his beliefs are actually true.

            That's why crackpot theists and conspiracy theorists fail so badly.

          10. Why? You reject the things that challenge your faith in atheism. I understand that.

            But I haven't insulted and attacked you for it. I simply ask for you to lay out an argument instead of using others assertions.

            The simplistic approach to the big bang theory was for space and convenience. There are other gaps in that theory that I didn't want to toss out there. But it exists.

            Theoriticians are still trying to explain those gaps away.

            The truth is that the judge that condemned the historic Jesus to death was recalled to Rome, then assigned as Governor of Egypt where he worked with the Chrsitian Mark to establish the Coptic Egyptian Church and is one of their patron saints.

            Why didn't I bring it up earlier? You would say his faith was due to hearsay and that I just reject the obvious. Truth, it seems to depend on perspective. I haven't allowed TMN to drag me into a screaming match, I ask for you to lay out arguments for your case, nothing more.

          11. Roger, ye ought be careful. I read this website, and post here on occassion. Cephus is a worthy adversary. Way above your meager pay grade. Ye ought bring your "A Game" here, and we all know you do not have one. These people will ream you a new rectum. Worse than Zebrano ever did. They will send you packing with your tail betwixt your legs.

          12. Once again you reject anything contrary to your predetermined views.

            You're entitled to your own opinion. But don't pretend you haven't had anyone bother with you.

          13. No, we reject things that CANNOT BE PROVEN and you, once again, prove that you're not capable or interested in actually ponying up any real evidence. The problem, Roger, is you. Everyone knows it, that's why you're a universal Internet laughing stock.

          14. Just as Cephus says I reject things that can't be proven and I woudl base the way I live my life on something that can't be proven

  1. Wow , it has been a couple of weeks since reading this post. Roger really got his clock cleaned on this post. You have to give it to Roger he is never scared to take stupid to a new level.

    1. Unfortunately, Roger gets his clock cleaned on pretty much every theological issue. He can't back up his religious claims, he tries to change the subject, shift the burden of proof, etc. the second anyone starts asking why he's convinced of the things he claims faith in. When backed into a corner, he'll even claim that it doesn't matter if what he believes is actually true, so long as it makes him feel good, something I've been saying all along, but which just doesn't make the believer look good.

      He's a pretty typical theist, unable or unwilling to accept the reality about his beliefs, that he isn't concerned about the real world, only about the comforting fantasy that plays out in his head.

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