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I am highly suspicious that "Jesus" whoever he was, had a near death experience. Came back from it talking about oneness and connectedness, Love, and The Light that he experienced while on the other side. Over a period of years his story grew and became embellished, especially with the Egyptian God Horus myth, and influenced by the culture which surrounded it, until today what we're left with is a Christianity that is a mandala or matrix of many different religions. Most of the books of the New Testament weren't written till many decades after Jesus was supposed to have lived.

I am by no means a biblical scholar, but I believe that Paul's letters to the Corinthians were written very soon (15 years?) after the death of Christ. His depiction of the post resurrection Jesus was more spirit like than the other Gospels.
Also, again I may be wrong, but some date the first Gospel to within 30 years of Christ's death, close enough to be refuted.

I am by no means a biblical scholar, but I believe that Paul's letters to the Corinthians were written very soon (15 years?) after the death of Christ.
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I don't think that's true but even if it is, fifteen years is more than enough time to embellish and change a story to fit the culture it evolved from. People add their own twists to stories. They interpret it from their own perspective. The life review turns into the Judgement; and visions of demons (think Howard Storm's NDE) turns int Hell. I can very easily see how stories about near death experiences turned into what we see in the New Testament. Heck, the book of John says that God is Light and God is Love, both concepts straight out of NDE's. Jesus prays in the gospel of John, "I pray that they may all be one as we are one, I in you and you in me." A large percentage of NDE's talk about feelings of oneness and connectedness. (It's all very holographic by the way).

>I believe that Paul's letters to the Corinthians were written very soon (15 years?) after the death of Christ.

A good chart showing the probable dates of the New Testament writings can be found here. The two letters to the Corinthians are usually dated between 50 and 56 A.D. Paul's earliest letters are usually taken to be the two letters to the Thessalonians, circa 48-51 A.D. Jesus' cricifixion is normally dated at 33 A.D.

It should be pointed out that some poetic passages in Paul's writings appear to be drawn from church liturgies, and would therefore be older than the letters themselves.

Personally I find it unlikely that an NDE can explain the resurrection story. On the other hand, I do think that some kind of induced NDE may have been at the heart of the Eleusinian Mysteries - the Greco-Roman "mystery religion" in which initiates underwent a life-changing secret ceremony. My guess is that the initiate was made to have an OBE or NDE in order to complete his indoctrination. Of course this is only conjecture. No one was allowed to speak or write about the Mysteries, so we don't know what went on.

>A good chart showing the probable dates of the New Testament writings can be found here.

These datings of the Gospels place some of the earliest writings to within 7 years of Christ's death. I have never heard of such early datings, but if true, there were many people around who could have refuted the whole story, if it was a complete lie.

I do not know what really happened, but if the Gospels were composed within 7 years of his death, something certainly did happen.

Whether it was a "ghostly" psychic type of phenonmena or a group hallucination who knows.

>These datings of the Gospels place some of the earliest writings to within 7 years of Christ's death. I have never heard of such early datings

The chart gives both early dates and more conventional dates. The early dates are based on John A. T. Robinson's Redating the New Testament. Robinson was a fairly liberal scholar who surprised the academic comunity by writing a revisionist book arguing that the entire New Testament could be dated earlier than 70 A.D. I've read the book and found it very interesting, but there is no way to know who's right or wrong here.

In any case, even if the orthodox dates are right, Paul's letters started coming out only about 15 years after Jesus' death, and seem to contain older material. That's not much time for mythology to take over, especially since Jesus' followers were mostly still alive.

I also find it difficult to believe that Peter, for instance, would have gone willingly to his agonizing death (crucified upside-down) merely on the basis of an NDE reported by Jesus.

At the Ashley House seance where Home reportedly levitated out the window and back in again, there later followed a really interesting event which struck me immediately as the events of Pentecost recounted in Acts:

"We now had a series of very curious manifestations. Lindsay and Charlie saw tongues or jets of flame proceeding from Home's head. We then all distinctly heard, as it were, a bird flying round the room, whistling and chirping, but saw nothing, except Lindsay, who perceived an indistinct form resembling a bird. There then came a sound as of a great wind rushing through the room, we also felt the wind strongly; the moaning rushing sound was the most weird thing I have ever heard. Home then got up, being in a trance, and spoke something in a language that none of us understood; it may have been nonsense, but it sounded like a sentence in a foreign tongue."

Was Jesus a great physical medium?

Darryn,

A synchronicity - I was about to point out that some passages of the Bible, namely the Pentecost, suggest a certain type of mystical experience related to NDEs etc. In particular, the 'rushing of wind' is an often found 'symptom' of mystical experiences. So imagine my surprise when you brought up D.D. Home and the Pentecost (and I agree, the parallels in that account to the Pentecost are quite intriguing!).

Kind regards,
Greg

Rushing wind was also felt strongly in some of Eusapia Palladino's seances (even when all windows were closed). Moving lights or globules of fire have been seen in many seances, and while these can be faked, using phosphorus, the observed phenomena sometimes go beyond anything explainable by trickery. (The lights respond to commands, etc.)

>Was Jesus a great physical medium?

This is the main point of Elliott's book - that Jesus had the full complement of mediumistic talents, both physical and mental (as well as healing and ESP). Whether or not this is true, it does present a different way of assessing the New Testament reports. Elliott also believes that the twelve apostles were chosen primarily for latent psychic abilities of their own, which might suggest how they were able to duplicate some of Jesus' feats.

Michael: Apparently you are not up-to-date on the dating of the supposed "epistles of Paul" Read "Suns of God" by Acharya S.

http://forums.truthbeknown.com/viewtopic.php?p=4202#4202

I'm not up to date? Acharya's "solar god" theory, popular in the 19th century, has been discredited for decades and is accepted by no reputable scholar today.

A fantastic article looking at these things from an angle I had never thought of before.

Terrific reading.

Is it possible to come back in full physical form after the grave? I have read a few accounts of this happening. One such story a war veteran got up out of his coffin and went home and got his war medals and then signed himself into the funeral home and got back into his coffin. Unsolved mysteries case on TV. TV producers would not lie to us for ratings would they?

The self-realization guru (Yogananda) claimed to have his guru come back in full physical form and when he hugged him so tight his guru asked to lighten up a bit with the hug. He claimed to have had a long conversation with his guru on what he found in the afterlife.

He also claimed a neighbor woman also saw his guru that day and did not know he had died. Seemed pretty strange to me that a neighbor woman would not know this famous guru had died but in India sometimes an enlighten master can live next door and no one in the neighborhood knows about him or her. Never a master in your own neighborhood I suspect.

Valid stories you decide.

As far as Jesus coming back after death. It appears that something happened to give his followers a new focus on life and the afterlife. I happen to think he may have indeed came back but then maybe those few Sunday school lessons I had as a child has biased me on that one.

"Jesus came to reveal God to man and man to himself."

I like this, but not the attempts to show that all of the wild tales are more or less accurate, no matter that some unknown portion of them _may_ have been, to an unknown degree.

I would strip away the wild tales and focus on whatever the message was, if at all possible. This may in fact turn out to be the above, or something similar.

(Is there any reason to treat the gospels as Gospel Truth when believing they are creates a nearly completely circular situation, leaving aside the small number of sayings that appear in both official and unofficial gospels? The idea that the narratives -- aside from being greatly distorted and pertaining primarily to myth and/or symbolism -- manage to intertwine the lives of possibly as many as three different men seems plausible to me).

What's left to do, if you put aside the gospels, official and unofficial?

Maybe the next best thing would be to focus on the inner self of the man (even though many claim there never was such a man).

Certainly it wouldn't hurt to try and might even be fun.

Does this reveal a message somewhere along the lines of "the divine being is within everyone?," not so different from the above quote? Maybe.

For those not likely to indulge in such activities there is always _The Secret Magdalene_, the well researched and highly entertaining novel by Ki Longfellow.

See http://www.thesecretmagdalene.com

Regards

Bill I.

"Jesus came to reveal God to man and man to himself."

I like this, but not the attempts to show that all of the wild tales are more or less accurate, no matter that some unknown portion of them _may_ have been, to an unknown degree.

I would strip away the wild tales and focus on whatever the message was, if at all possible. This may in fact turn out to be the above, or something similar.

(Is there any reason to treat the gospels as Gospel Truth when believing they are creates a nearly completely circular situation, leaving aside the small number of sayings that appear in both official and unofficial gospels? The idea that the narratives -- aside from being greatly distorted and pertaining primarily to myth and/or symbolism -- manage to intertwine the lives of possibly as many as three different men seems plausible to me).

What's left to do, if you put aside the gospels, official and unofficial?

Maybe the next best thing would be to focus on the inner self of the man (even though many claim there never was such a man).

Certainly it wouldn't hurt to try and might even be fun.

Does this reveal a message somewhere along the lines of "the divine being is within everyone?," not so different from the above quote? Maybe.

For those not likely to indulge in such activities there is always _The Secret Magdalene_, the well researched and highly entertaining novel by Ki Longfellow.

See http://www.thesecretmagdalene.com

Regards

Bill I.

Hi, i think Rev. Elliot produced a good analysis on the Resurrection stories, if only the church hadn't demonised the psychic side of our existance, but then i think religions would be in trouble of everyone accepted the OOB realities.

As for the new testament that supposedly build on Jerusalem as religious centre, it's a shambles. i quote here
" Emporer Constantine was the ruling spirit at Nicaea and he ultimately decided upon a new god for them. To involve British factions, he ruled that the name of the great Druid god, Hesus, be joined with the Eastern Saviour-god, Krishna (Krishna is Sanskrit for Christ), and thus Hesus Krishna would be the official name of the new Roman god. A vote was taken and it was with a majority show of hands (161 votes to 157) that both divinities became one God." Well there's much more and specially the catholics have been messing about with the scriptures. Absolute papal power and in all very easy as in those days ignorance ruled. Here's the article that explains how the new testament came about ...

The Forged Origins of The New Testament/a>

Best Wishes

Rho

>" Emporer Constantine was the ruling spirit at Nicaea and he ultimately decided upon a new god for them. To involve British factions, he ruled that the name of the great Druid god, Hesus, be joined with the Eastern Saviour-god, Krishna (Krishna is Sanskrit for Christ), and thus Hesus Krishna would be the official name of the new Roman god."

I'm sorry, but there's not a serious New Testament scholar anywhere in the world who would endorse this nonsense. Jesus is Greek for Yeshua (Joshua); Christ is Greek for "the Anointed," i.e., the Messiah. The name has nothing to do with Druids or Sanskrit.

There is a great deal of pseudo-scholarship on the Internet about the New Testament, much of it attempting to capitalize on the commercial success of The Da Vinci Code. It is best to stick to reputable scholars in this area. Some of the best are N.T. Wright, J.D. Crossan, Marcus Borg, and Bart Ehrman. Among them you will get a range of opinions, from conservative Christian (Wright) to liberal Christian (Borg), to iconoclast (Crossan), to agnostic/atheist (Ehrman). With academic authorities of this caliber to draw on, there really is no reason to rely on nonscholarly sources who mainly spread misinformation.

Additional point: The notion that the term "Christ" originated with Constantine is belied by the fact that Jesus' followers were known as Christians from almost the beginning of the movement. Here is an excerpt from Tacitus' Annals, written in 109 A.D, describing the Neronian persecution of 64 A.D.:

“And so, to get rid of this rumor, Nero set up as the culprits and punished with the utmost refinement of cruelty a class hated for their abominations, who are commonly called Christians. Christus, from whom their name is derived, was executed at the hands of the procurator Pontius Pilate in the reign of Tiberius. Checked for a moment, this pernicious superstition again broke out, not only in Judea, the source of the evil, but even in Rome."

Constantine convened the Council of Nicaea in 325 A.D., more than 200 years after Tacitus wrote this description.

Michael: I recommend you read Bishop Lightfoot's "Essays on Supernatural Religion." I had to go to the U of MN access center to read this "scholarly" work that was the definitive academic dismissal of the 19th C. "suns of god" thesis you claim has been discredited. Bishop Lightfoot's book was recently reissued though so you can order it if you don't frequent a good University.

To my amazement Bishop Lightfoot admits that indeed the "Ancient Texts" were of spurious origin and of great contention, with the canon gospels not composed till after 150 A.D. Not only that but Bishop Lightfoot is very clear that the Roman Church had a political agenda to attack the gnostics.

I have a masters degree so I know how to check my sources! haha You're just relying on vapid, empty "authority" for your own psychological reasons. Good luck!

I'm really sorry but it's obvious to me that modern day Christianity is a matrix or mandala of many different religions. There are too many parallels with other religions of that era for it to be a coincidence. If there was a Jesus at all he was probably some little carpenter/rabbi who had a NDE. The parallels between Jesus of the New Testament and the Egyptian god Horus are so numerous that it's impossible for me not to believe that there was a mixing of the myths. I have noticed a few New Testament scriptures though that seem to corroborate some NDE's that I've read.

Parallels between Jesus and Horus:
http://www.perankhgroup.com/the_true_identity_of_jesus.htm

On the forging of Tacitus' Annals:

http://www.truthbeknown.com/pliny.htm

Michael, Drew,
Was thinking about truth & how you find it.
On the Internet, it is particularly hard, as “publishing costs” are low, so there are many views, often opposing.( This being both the good & bad point of the Internet )
In the end, I think you settle on views that are self-consistent; you test them against various scenarios, and they “resonate” with your own internal “moral compass”.

In this case, I think I thus:- because parallels between Jesus & Horus /Osiris /Mithrus / Dionysus / Krishna seem too much to be coincidence plus I am very suspicious of R.C.church
( this quote Sums up my thinking about “Organised Religion” :-
You're basically killing each other to see who's got the better imaginary friend.
Richard Jeni

-- (On going to war over religion)
)


On this point, I stumbled across this-

http://hinessight.blogs.com/church_of_the_churchless/2007/06/seeking-the-tru.html

( It’s argued that searching is better than knowing? )
What’s your thoughts?

art did Horus ever make the statement "the meek shall inherit the earth"?

Well for my "thoughts" you can also read my new free blogbook: http://mothershiplanding.blogspot.com. Admittedly it's turgid as hell but hey I live in Minnesota so the point is to burn a whole through the skull which such intense mind power. haha.

Most of the alleged parallels between Jesus and Horus are spurious. There is a lot of good scholarship available in this area. Why not consult it?

Drew wrote,
>haha You're just relying on vapid, empty "authority" for your own psychological reasons. Good luck!

I'm not much interested in being psychoanalyzed by someone who believes the CIA was behind 9-11. Insult me again and I'm blocking your IP address. I am weary of you.

art did Horus ever make the statement "the meek shall inherit the earth"? - william
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
I don't have a clue where that statement originated. Who knows? I don't believe all of christianity came verbatim from Egyptian Horus worship, but I think a good slug of it did. It's just so obvious to me that Christianity is a mixture of a whole bunch of different religions. Mithraism, Zoroastrian, Judeaism, and god knows what else. It's a hodge-podge of religions, all mixed together.

Michael you already censored my one post where I pondered the afterlife of the 30,000 kids that die a day from nutrition-based disease, like starvation. Luckily you didn't censor my reposting of the link.

As Acharya S. details in her new forum thread, created specifically for Michael's "special needs" the argument that Christianity is Sun Worship is not from the 19th C. nor has it been discredited:

http://forums.truthbeknown.com/viewtopic.php?t=903

I have not "censored" any of your previous comments, Drew. If one of them disappeared, it was a Typepad glitch.

I asked you not to insult me again. You responded by accusing me of censorship and making a crack about my "special needs."

Sayonara.

Hi Michael,
I assume “Sayonara” means that you’ve blocked Drew Hempel’s IP.

Whilst I don’t agree with all his views, I think the world, in general, and this blog, in particular, are better for a diversity of views.

Please don’t fall into the trap of acting like the media skeptics.

Turn the other cheek and all that.

For the record, for what it’s worth, I’m with you, on this one Art.
Imagine how we’d react if the defendant stood up in court and said I killed all those people because god appeared in a vision and told me to do it.
The Bible has countless similar stories, but lots & lots of people believe it. Why?

RodMcK

He's not banned because I disagree with him. He's banned because he was repeatedly rude.

i'm with michael on this one.
it seemed drew took it way too personally when michael said that the sun god theory has been discredited and no serious scholars took it seriously. he was the one that started making insulting remarks.

heck, after all, it is michael's blog, if he can't do whatever he wants, then what's the point of having his own blog.

diversity of opinion is great, as long you dont mix it with insults. and whether you have a master degree or not, it doesnt make a person any less gullible than those who don't. our gullibility comes from our need to affirm what we believe is the 'truth.'

we all look for evidence to support our belief, whatever that may be, but once we start degrading other people because of their different viewpoint, then we are no better than those dogmatic skeptics.

Re Ban. OK. "Fair Cop" (Just thought I'm Australian, maybe this is an Australian slang saying:- rough translation is "I'm wrong, sorry etc" )

Hi William.

At
http://jdstone.org/cr/files/thesermononthemount.html

is a comparison of Sermon on the mount sayings including ( “Blessed are the meek….” ) and sayings of Judaism.

Also, I’ve heard it argued persuasively that most of Jesuses teachings can be attributed to Rabbi Hillel, who lived prior to Jesus.

Speaking of which, is there any proof Jesus actually existed?
RodMcK

Two comments about the historicity and the teachings of Jesus:
1) There is independent historical (secular) confirmation about the man named Jesus of Nazareth, most notably from the Jewish-Roman historian Josephus:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Josephus_on_Jesus
2) The main difference between the teachings of Jesus and other important Jewish rabbi, like Hillel the Elder, is that in Jesus the Golden Rule is a positive command (DO unto others as you would have them do unto you), while all the other Jewish commandments are prohibitions (Do NOT do … this and that). Big difference from the karmic standpoint.

Michael bans me and my city's bridge collapse. That's some serious juju.

Anyway here's my final post since I'm officially banned:

Yep I'm back at the U of MN "cavern" for old book storage, reading Bishop Lightfoot's attack on W.R. Cassel's "Supernatural Religion." Lightfoot readily admits that Eusebius was parsing through the writings "of the Ancients" to decide what was authentic or not. Just based on that simple fact alone the spurious nature of the Gospels is evident. Yet Lightfoot argues:

"Of the Gospels the historian will only record anecdotes concerning them. On the other hand, in the case of the Apocalypse mere references and quotations will be mentioned, because they afford important data for arriving at a decision concerning its Canonical authority." (p. 39)

That seems a back-handed strategy at best and at worse a strange way to treat supposedly sacred works. According to Lightfoot the sources for the 4 Gospels are, as per Eusebius:

"As regards these, he [Eusebius]contents himself with preserving any anecdotes which he may have found illustrating the circumstances under which they were written, e.g. the notices of St. Matthew and St. Mark in Papias, and of the Four Gospels in Irenaeus." (p. 46)

Considering how much Lightfoot questions the authenticity of Ignatius and others, besides the fact the Eusebius openly was questioning his sources as being not authentic, the origin of the Gospels disappears into a cloud of smoke. There is much speculation about Papias and Irenaeus and Polycarp but that the Roman Church was fighting off the ascetic Gnostics is quite clear.

Drew, if your earlier comments had been as thoughtful as that one, there would have been no need for a ban.

I'll tell you what. I'll lift the ban if you will eschew derogatory personal remarks when someone disagrees with you.

Congratulations. You are unbanned!

For those who are wondering why I was so ticked off at Drew, it might help to know that he posted some unflattering things about me on Acharya S's site.

Here was part of his first comment:

>Anyway let's see if I garnered any response because usually he ignores the "dissident" information I present but sometimes I get under his collar so much that I provoke an ad hominem from him....

>You may want to check out other people posting similar information to this famous apologist! haha. ...

>Ah how ignorance is bliss.

Note that my responses are characterized as ad hominems, and that he says he's just trying to "get under my collar" and "provoke" me. He also calls me a "famous apologist." Of course I'm not an apologist at all. I'm not even a Christian. He also calls me ignorant - but I guess that's not an ad hominem.

In a later comment, Drew wrote,

>Yeah Michael Prescott just threatened to ban me! haha. ...

>He already censored my "threatening" post when I pondered the afterlife of the 30,000 kids that die a day from nutrition-based disease like starvation.

>So I reposted that threatening information! Too bad several other posters were saying the same thing as me about the Christ Conspiracy but I was the only one to claim that Prescott has a psychological hang-up.

>I guess that is an insult. haha.

Here he accuses me of censoring some comment of his (which I didn't - if it disappeared, blame the quirks of Typepad, which has been known to swallow whole posts). He also apparently has trouble understanding that accusing someone of having "a psychological hang-up" is an insult.

Incidentally, in this same thread Acharya S. herself writes,
>There's nothing solid about THE James who supposedly wrote Revelation and the epistle.

You'd think such a careful scholar would know that Revelation is attributed to John, not James. (Rev 1:4)

I freely admit I am no Biblical scholar. But neither is Drew. And neither is Acharya S.

For the work of real scholars, see N.T. Wright, Marcus Borg, John Dominic Crosssan, and Bert Ehrman, among many others. They provide a cross-section of well-informed, up-to-date views ranging from broad skepticism (Ehrman) to conservative Christian belief (Wright). And they know the difference between James and John!

Well Michael I posted your response to Acharya S.' above quote to see what she says about your response. Hopefully she will but I do regard her as a bible scholar as I've checked her sources. John Dominic Crossan is not up to snuff at all! I've read a current Yale Professor of Religious Studies book on the early history of the Church and it too was sorely lacking in comparision to Acharya S.' research.

Anyway today my friend Bert was pondering how the WTC could have collapsed, in lieu of the Minneapolis bridge collapse a few blocks from where we sat. Suddenly I pulled out a fact-card from a letter I was going to send to my sister -- it had a photo of WTC Tower 7 as a perfect demolition, noting that no major media has shown the collapse of WTC 7. Immediately, for psychological reaons, Bert said he didn't want to consider this information -- even though it was just a half-sheet, with a list of 11 reasons why 9-11 was an inside job.

But again, as my career is in policy change, I've long encountered how political information, whether it's the Roman Imperial Church formation or the formation of the U.S. Empire, is avoided like the plague.

Hi Drew.
Welcome back.
TomC & MP’s posts have made me reconsider my position.
Posting to this Blog is a privilege, not a right.
Please no more “baiting”, insults, etc.

Hi Michael,
Thanks for restoring my faith in Americans

Hi Ulysses,
Thanks for you input, I think I’m missing something though?
1, Much of the Wikipedia article discusses the authenticity or rather lack of authenticity.

2. Interesting point about Karma, but I rechecked website I gave, and found that negative prescriptions were much more common in Sermon on the mount than Judaism (Approx.( 11: 3 ) or ( 10:2 ) depending on how you count them )
What am I doing wrong?

I also came across an interesting site which looks at Christianity from a Hindu perspective.
http://www.hinduism.co.za/jesus.htm
It’s a long article, but interesting
I think the writer is a hindu fundamentalist ( is there such a thing? ),but interesting “take” nevertheless,
( And I think it’s important to “see the world through other peoples eyes” )
RodMcK

"I pondered the afterlife of the 30,000 kids that die a day from nutrition-based disease like starvation."
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Everything I've read in near death experiences points in the direction that after we die we'll look back on this life like it was a dream and the blink of an eye. We are here just long enough to learn a few simple lessons then cross back over into the Spiritual Universe. In fact, most Near Death Experiencers say that the other side will feel more real to us than our present life does. Everyone becomes instantly enlightened upon entering the light, and the "life review" is just another tool to help with that enlightenment and is not meant to be a judgement or punishment. Life's lessons seem to be embedded in our everyday lives and the soul learns holistically what it is it's supposed to learn. The soul learns what it's supposed to regardless of what we do with our lives, and after we die the soul looks back on the physical body in a similar way to how we view a pair of worn out tennis shoes. Our bodies are tools to help the soul learn what it feels like to be a separate, unique, individual. Experience time and space, and imprint memories of what it felt like to inhabit a physical body. Everything involving touch in our lives imprints on the soul the paramters of our physical body, from scratching our heads to stubbing our toes, to brushing our hair to brushing our teeth. The soul is here to learn what it's like to live in a 3D + 1T Universe.

Hi Michael -- if you didn't read Acharya S.'s forum, where I posted your comment, she has a reply, and she said she just made a typo that had been corrected. Acharya S. has a whole chapter of Revelation in her book the Christ Conspiracy.

As I've stated her sources have all stood up to attack and her sources go to a deeper analysis of the Bible than I've been able to find by the Roman Imperial Church apologists.

Because my favorite thing is to disprove my own beliefs I will now go to the library and read the authors that Michael Prescott lists as legitimate Bible scholars.

But Michael why have you no evidence for a historical person called Jesus Christ? You have yet to respond to Tacitus' Annals being a fraudulent source. If Tacitus' Annals are not fradulent then what is wrong with the evidence that proves they are?

Please provide any evidence and please read Acharya S' research Michael Prescott! If I find any evidence that disproves her research I will be happy to post it here but I've tried and her work is more detailed.

I could not even find John Dominic Crossan addressing the question as to whether there is evidence that Jesus Christ was a person. All scholars have the same problem. The apologists just assume that Jesus Christ was a person without looking at the validity of the evidence.

Then based on an insecure foundation the whole "bridge" of the Holy Roman Empire and the U.S. comes tumbling down.

OK So I'm at the Minneapolis Central public library which is the largest public collection so should have the list of scholars Michael has listed. I have Bart Ehrman's book in my lap: After the New Testament: A Reader in Early Christianity.

He states in the introduction:

"Even among church people, it is sacrcely realized that early Christians engaged in heated and often acrimonious debates over fundmental issues, such as...."

But whether Jesus was a historical person is NOT mentioned as one of the issues, even though it blatantly was an issue!

Ehrman then states that Eusebius "was the first Christian author to provide a full sketch of the history of the church, from the days of Jesus down to his own time (his first edition was published in 311 C.E.)." (p. 2)

So there we have it! He gives Eusebius as the main source for the "historical" Jesus yet I just posted quotes from a detailed analysis of Eusebius' writing, Bishop Lightfoot's attack against the book Supernatural Religion by WR Cassels. As my excerpts indicate Eusebius himself was deciding what was fake and what was authentic, based on his own political bias, not on any real evidence.

The real evidence is of belief in Jesus as meaning "savior" in spiritual terms, not in an historical person named Jesus.

Ok now I have Professor Marcus J. Borg's book:

Jesus in Contemporary Scholarship. (1994)

Again I'm amazed that he does not address the issue of whether Jesus existed historically. This book covers John Dominic Crossan by the way and with that the whole list provided by Michael Prescott.

First of all Borg has the psychic balls to admit that Rudolf Bultmann led the way in proving that there's no evidence for a historical Jesus. Then Borg says that scholars realized that a historical Jesus just wasn't important to theology. Then Borg admits the following:

"For much of its history, the agenda of Jesus scholarship has been set, consciously or unconsciously, by theological questions. This is not surprising, given that Christianity was until recently the dominant cultural consciousness of the West. Thus, the questions brought to the texts, whether for the sake of undermining or supporting Christian convictions, have commonly had those convictions in mind." (p. 6)

At this point Borg asks the question: "Can any of the chrstological 'titles' of Jesus be traced back to Jesus?"

But does he try to answer this question: NO!!

Instead he does a "bait and switch" tactic to comparative religion.

"In the recent past, the framework for formulating the questions brought to the texts [i.e. the questions of whether Jesus was a historical person] has become less specifically Christian....Instead, the questions have become more 'global,' that is, related to the broad sweep of human history and experience. How is the figure of Jesus similar or dissimilar to religous figures in other traditions?" (p. 6)

See BAIT AND SWITCH -- all of a sudden Borg is back to assuming that "the figure of Jesus" existed and now the question is how his life compares to Lao Tzu or Buddha -- yet Borg had ignored the vital question of evidence for whether Jesus was a historical person or not.

The most thorough rebuttal of Acharya S. that I've found on the Web is this essay.

I concede that this comes from a Christian apologetics site, and I don't agree with all of the author's assertions (for instance, he disputes the generally accepted JEDP theory). But he does note numerous problems with Acharya's claims and research.

Borg, Crossan, et al may not specifically address the question of Jesus' historical reality only because the issue was settled (in academic circles) so long ago. As far as I know, there are only two credentialed academics who maintain that Jesus was (or may have been) a fictional character. They are G.A. Wells and Michael Martin. (Martin, however, is a philosopher, not a New Testament scholar.) I read one of Wells' books, The Jesus Legend; I haven't read anything by Martin. Their views have not attracted a following.

Incidentally, I've also read nonscholarly books asserting Jesus' nonexistence, such as Freke and Gandy's The Jesus Mysteries and their Jesus and the Lost Goddess, and Arthur Weigall's 1928 book The Paganism in Our Christianity. And I've read The Golden Bough, The White Goddess, and similar books. So I'm not entirely unacquainted with this line of argument. In fact, for a while I was persuaded by it, but I now think it is mistaken.

If you're looking specifically for arguments that Jesus existed, one source to consult is The Historical Jesus, by Gary R. Habermas. Habermas is a conservative Chistian scholar; again, I don't endorse all his views, but he has a solid grasp of the evidence. Another book to consider is The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable? by F.F. Bruce.

In order to support her claims, Acharya S. must assert that all the ancient documents referring to Jesus and his followers were forged or were written much later than most academics believe. I find this line of argument tendentious, but your mileage may vary.

A discussion of claims that Tacitus' Annals were forged is found here. In 1878 J.W. Ross claimed that the Annals were forged by someone named Poggio in the 1400s. Unfortunately for this thesis, references to Tacitus' Annals are found in much earlier centuries. From the above-linked page:

Mendell also gives an extensive list of witnesses to the text from the 1st century onwards. From this we can see that Tacitus is mentioned or quoted in every century down to and including the Sixth. The Seventh and Eighth centuries are the only ones that have left no trace of knowledge of our author. Without quoting every reference, here are some which I found of interest.

Various citations follow. Read the whole thing for details.

Note that Tacitus is not the only ancient non-Christian writer to discuss Jesus and his movement. Suetonius, Pliny the Younger, Josephus, Julius Africanus (citing Thallus and Phlegon), the Emperor Trajan, the Emperor Hadrian, Lucian, Mara Bar-Serapion, and portions of the Talmud all address this subject. It is unlikely, to say the least, that all of these passages were forged.

Anyway, we are unlikely to convince each other, and I don't have time to debate the issue forever, so we will have to agree to disagree. Thanks for the library info. It's good to have you back!

Michael I saw the book "The Historical Jesus" on the shelve and so I immediately opened it to look for its sources. It relies on the same ones you have listed -- Josephus, Pliny, etc. -- sources which are admitted to by unreliable by numerous bible scholars referenced by Acharya S.

As I stated even Professor Marcus Borg notes that Rudolf Bultmann discredited any evidence for a historical Jesus. Here's Borg again:

"Fifteen years after Schweitzer's book, Rudolf Bultmann, this century's single most influential New Testament scholar, published The History of the Synoptic Tradition (1921). His study of how the traditions about Jesus developed during the oral period suggested that very little of the preaching and teaching of Jesus as reported in the gospels can be traced back to Jesus himself. This historical skepticism engendered by Bultmann's form-critical work was reinforced after World War II by redaction criticism, the meticulous study of how the evangelists modified and shaped the traditions they received to adapt them to their own times and convictions." (p. 4)

In your discussion of Tacitus -- there's a difference between his writings and his Annals that supposedly mention Christ yet you have conflated the two.

Again there is much evidence of forgery for political reasons and there is no evidence for a historical person named Jesus. I read Bishop Lightfoot's attempt to find such evidence and his book is a very detailed scholarly attack against the case for forged documents. Bishop Lightfoot notes, as I quoted, that Eusebius himself decided which documents were forged or not, based on his own political views, in support of the Roman Imperial Church.

I forgot to mention another noteworthy book - Jesus: An Historian's Look at the Gospels, by Michael Grant. Also, although I don't have a copy handy, I seem to recall that N.T. Wright deals with the issue of Jesus' historical existence in his Jesus and the Victory of God.

Finally, an excellent overview of this issue is found at Wikipedia:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Historicity_of_Jesus

See also the discussion page linked to that entry.

The article concludes, "Overall, the unhistoricity theory is regarded as effectively refuted by almost all Biblical scholars and historians." I believe this assessment is correct. Of course, "almost all Biblical scholars and historians" could be wrong. But that's not the way to bet.

Okay, I've had my say, and I will leave it to others to have the last word.

P.S. My last comment posted simultaneously with Drew's and was not intended as a response.

One quick response: Though Bultmann interpreted much of the Gospels as myth, he did not believe that Jesus himself was a mythical figure.

I don't think anyone is still reading this thread except Drew and me, so I'm done.

Listen Michael -- what books by Bultmann have you actually read? My parents have one of his books which I thought was awesome but it's not mentioned in the Wikipedia entrance for Bultmann. This goes to show that Wikipedia is not a "scholarly" source but simply a volunteer-based information center.

Consider this analysis of Bultmann from another website:

The first myth to be examined is the virgin birth; did it really happen, or is it an unfounded myth used to express a scriptural meaning? Rudolf Bultmann would suggest the latter.

The website then continues to detail how Bultmann believed that Jesus was pre-existing, before time, therefore how could he have a virgin birth? In other words Bultmann did NOT believe in a historical Jesus.

Bultmann's views are very much the same as Advaita Vedanta of Jnana which I have discussed before on your blog.

For your sake I hope no one else is reading this as well. haha.

Hi Drew & Michael

Interesting argument, but one observation is that Drew seems fond of leaping to his conclusions based on misreading sources - at no point in his life did Bultmann ever deny Jesus existed. What he did deny was reading the Gospels as merely biography/history, rather than as what they are - Gospel, Good News. Yes, they're tendentious because they're basically 1st Century Jewish agit-prop, but that doesn't stop them from being accurate within their limitations.

Likewise reading Eusebius as if he had no sources and thus just "made it all up"... good grief as if 300 years of Church Fathers don't exist in between. Of course you can say it was all forged, but how is ANY history possible if you start being hyper-sceptical about all the sources?

It's easy to win an argument by claiming all your opponent's evidence has been conveniently forged to back their viewpoint. But how can you then claim anything as evidence for such a viewpoint? The charge of forgery cuts both ways.

Nice to see a return to civil behaviour between you both, though.

As for NDEs and the Gospel of 'John' - Ben Witherington III has made the case that the eye-witness behind that Gospel was Lazarus himself, the Gospel being written by "John the Elder" who was one of Lazarus' disciples. Certainly gives more cogency to the idea that an NDE had a role in the creation of that Gospel. Certainly explains the Light imagery, especially 'in light' of Howard Storm's 'NDE' testimony.

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