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Is there something about missing four out of five that you think should be seen as strengthening your debate?
- "Richard Cevantis Carrier (born December 1, 1969) is an American historian, atheist activist, author, public speaker and blogger."
ONCE again, I don't care who the "experts" are, what level of authority you suggest that they have, or what you think based on your own opinion. I care about the EVIDENCE. And it seems you think that if someone didn't exist, that we should find ready evidence from their suggested time, from witnesses to their non-existence, stating that they didn't exist. Does that really sound rational to you? That's the same kind of skewed logic commonly pursued by theists who suggest that atheists hold the burden for showing the evidence that God doesn't exist, rather than recognizing the logical fact that a LACK OF EVIDENCE, is what supports a claim of non-existence. For example, what evidence can you provide me for the non-existence of the cobra on your head? (That's a REAL question, by the way.)
You find non-existence to be the logical choice when there is a LACK OF EVIDENCE for existence. And what do your "experts" and "authorities" provide to support the existence of Jesus as a historical character? So far, their opinion, and nothing more. You hold the burden to support existence, which would be evidence FOR his existence. My burden is to support non-existence, which is indicated by a LACK OF EVIDENCE for existence, and that is precisely what I have... and what YOU have presented. So far, you've done an admirable job of upholding my claim.
You CANNOT hope to win any rational debate, on the basis of authoritarian opinion, most especially, when the bulk of that opinion comes from people who vowed faith, long before they became supposed experts and authorities.
SO... where is your EVIDENCE that Jesus actually existed? You have no eye-witnesses, no accounts from ANYONE in the biblical time of Jesus, but continue to rant and rave about your "authorities" and their "opinions". Why would you care? Did Einstein's OPINION that black holes probably didn't exist (despite his own data showing that they should), prevent them from existence.
In the end, the ONLY thing that matters is the evidence, and so far, the evidence supports non-existence as a historical character. And no matter how many times you respond with majority opinions, it doesn't change the evidence, and thus, does not support your argument.
Another story which comes from the Bible but appears to have no valid source is among the most popular in all of the Bible - if not THE most popular. It's the "Pericope Adulterae" found at John 8:1-11 (Jesus and the woman taken in adultery). That story is not found in ANY biblical manuscript or any other writing from prior to the fourth century, nor is it found in any Bible commentary until the tenth century. It's as though it was known that the story was untrue and simply emerged out of imagination in the fourth century, but over time the information was slowly and passively suppressed.
But just stating that most historians agree that Jesus existed is NOT appropriate support for the debate. That's simply an appeal to authority. Authority means nothing. Either historians have the evidence to support that conclusion or they don't. And if they don't, then the conclusion is nothing more than a tradition (which seems likely).
So upon what evidence is this claim supported?
What you have offered is a claim. That's fine. That's where a debate starts, not where it ends. Now show us the evidence which supports that claim. I've read a half dozen books specifically targeting this issue, and none of them have been able to provide such evidence. So can you provide the evidence that scholars, theologians, historians, and researchers have failed to produce?
That simply IS NOT true. It is a long-standing scholarly tradition that Jesus existed, as well as a long-standing historical tradition. But when you start looking for evidence, you run into some problems.
Firstly; no one seems to have sufficient evidence to support the conclusion. They just say, "well, historians agree, therefore, Jesus was historical". But if you read a few of the books which focus on the matter, you start to find that the evidence simply isn't in place.
Secondly, archaeological expeditions to Nazareth have concluded that the city wasn't occupied during the biblical time of Jesus. There is a distinct time gap in the artifacts, suggesting that Nazareth was abandoned from about the start of the first century, to around the middle of the first century. And that covers the time that "Jesus of Nazareth", was said to have lived.
You can't just simply wave off the fact that with writings from numerous historians of that very time and region - at least one of which only wrote about religious and political interests - NO ONE ever mentioned Jesus, or any significant event of the New Testament. If you are a historian, or a scholar, and you buck the trend on a major issue, you'd better start looking for other work. It's well known that you simply do not step far out of the camp of your peers. One need only look to the way Francesca Stavrakopoulou carefully steps around the question of Jesus historicity to see the need to avoid stepping on the toes of the majority in your field.
It comes down to this; either you have the evidence to support Jesus historicity, or you don't. And so far, all I'm seeing from the historical side of the debate are appeals to authority, with little to no evidence to support it.
The problem that seems to evade detection by some is that they're making appeals to authority. You claim that because it's accepted by most historians that Jesus was an actual historical character, then in all probability he was. But historicity isn't made on the basis of "a lot of historians think so". It MUST be supported by evidence. So upon what evidence are these historians making the claim? The historicity of Jesus is a long held tradition. It has been assumed to be the case, based on the popularity of the stories in the Bible. But the stories in the Bible are neither credible, eye-witness accounts, or even autographed. We still don't know who most of the people were. We do (apparently), know who Paul was, but Paul himself was working from hearsay in accepting the existence of Jesus.
You can't simply say "most historians agree", and settle the matter. That's a fallacious appeal to authority. Authorities must have an evidential basis for their conclusions, and in reading six different books centered on the topic of Jesus historicity alone, none of them have presented any such evidence. And the one who tried (Bart Ehrman) fell far short of the mark.
So before you consider the case has even been well-argued, you're going to need to put forth sufficient objective evidence to substantiate the claim. No one, to this point, has done that. It's all just making the fallacious "appeal to authority", and looking no further.
You seem to assume that if I haven't read the links you selected specifically for their attempts to support the conclusion you have adopted, that it means I haven't done my research. So allow me to turn this back to you.
Have you read, "Did Jesus Exist?" by G. A. Wells?
Have you read, "Nailed; Ten Christian Myths That Show Jesus Never Existed at All", by David Fitzgerald?
Have you read, "Not The Impossible Faith", by Richard Carrier?
Have you read, "Did Jesus Exist", by Bart D Ehrman?
Have you read "Deconstructing Jesus" by Robert M Price?
Have you read, "Bart Ehrman and the Quest of the Historical jesus of Nazareth"?
Do you think this is a contest of who has read your hand-picked sites? Or shouldn't it be more of a contest of evidence? So far, you've presented a handful of appeals to authority, and yet none of those authorities present the evidence necessary to support a claim of historicity. And I've tried to point this out subtly more than once.
When Ehrman released his book, "Did Jesus Exist", claiming that he did, I was very anxious to obtain a copy which I did as soon as I found it was available. At the time, I was of the belief that Jesus likely did exist, though not specifically as described in the Bible. So I was very anxious to see what Ehrman had to say. I've read at least a dozen of his books and have found him to be well-researched, articulate, and informative.
But as I dove into "Did Jesus Exist", I found the first three chapters to be devoid of evidence. But there were continual promises of the evidence to come so I kept reading with a measure of excitement to see what he had that the authors of the books claiming Jesus did not exist, had missed or left out. What I found was that Dr. Ehrman tried so desperately to support the conclusion I held at the time, that he actually contradicted several of his earlier books. And despite continuing to seek the evidence none of the other authors seemed to have, I kept finding attempts to present arguments, rather than evidence, and some of his arguments were essentially a reversal of his previous stance on issues such as the authority of the gospels.
In the end, Ehrman had no more evidence than any of the authors who concluded that Jesus did not exist. But Ehrman did have a bit more at stake, since he'd previously written an entire book on who he believed Jesus to be. And his work was quickly rebutted by a collective work involving Carrier, Price, Zindler, Murdock and several others. In fact, it was Erhman's book claiming that Jesus did exist which I found to be the most compelling work for the conclusion that Jesus didn't exist, because he had nothing more to offer than any of the others. It's one thing to write a book claiming Jesus didn't exist, and provide insufficient evidence that he did; and quite another to write a book claiming Jesus DID exist, and still provide insufficient evidence to support that conclusion.
So I have to ask; aside from your appeals to those who belong to various cliques, and hold to specific traditional findings, what actual evidence do you have to support your belief that Jesus was an actual person of history? We have no contemporaneous writings of him, no artifacts, no verification of any kind. We simply have writings of religious bias from non-witnesses, and much later hearsay entries from a handful of historians - none of which claim to know he existed. They appear to assume he had, but are simply recording what the Christians of their time believed. So you have rather limited hearsay, and what else?
To be fair, you can find those who will argue both sides of any point. But Richard Carrier is most certainly a respected historian who specializes in ancient history and shows a special interest in religious topics regarding history. Having read several of the more recent books on the question of Jesus historicity, it is clear that Richard Carrier is well supported, and respected by others such as Robert Price, Frank Zindler, Earl Doherty, David Fitzgerald, D. M. Murdock, Rene' Salm, etc. Attempting to characterize him as a fringe nut or a "joke" is certainly unfair. You can simply find deconstructions of anyone's argument.
The strength of any debate relies primarily upon the evidence. And Carrier is the only one I've heard of so far who has demonstrated the courage of his convictions, by gathering the evidence and subjecting it to an objective algorithm, intended to produce an unbiased quantification. Dr. Carrier wouldn't have been able to alter the outcome of the algorithm, and that algorithm (Bayes Theorem), produced a finding of insufficient evidence to uphold a conclusion of historicity in the case of Jesus.
It is simply beyond the realm of rationality to suggest that Jesus had any major impact and yet went completely unmentioned by anyone and everyone from that actual time. We can look to historians such as Philo of Alexandria and see that in his 850,000+ words his entire focus is the political and religious events of significance in his day. Clearly, he never heard of Jesus. And this groups him unanimously with all other historians of that time and region. We have records from Herod's court, military records (as anyone amassing a large following would be of distinct military interest), military dispatches back to Rome, writings from the Temple, and even private writings of some of the temple priest, and yet not a single person from any walk of life, vocation, career, standing, etc., appears to have heard of Jesus until at least 20-years after the biblical time of the crucifixion.
If we work from the biblical texts which refer to Jesus, we find a steady progression from the writings of Paul which seem to know little about him, up through the gospels, and at each latter stage, there is more and more added in regard to details and events of the life of Jesus. And this too is consistent with a growing myth, and the reverse of what we should expect to find of historical documentation.
The problem is simply that if you look to the majority of historians, (certainly a minority think he's a myth), they tend to fail when it comes to producing evidence to support their finding. This leaves it more as a faith position than one of objective research. And the same problem is encountered when dealing with Bible scholars - while the VAST majority of them see Jesus as a historical character, none of them can produce the evidence to support that stance. It's more of a traditional belief than an objective conclusion.
The gospels aren't valid evidence. Not only are all of the authors anonymous, but two of them openly stated (Luke 1:1-4 and John 21:24), that they were not eye-witnesses. Paleographic examination agrees with modern textual criticism in showing that the gospel authors were merely people who had converted to Christianity, who thus believed the stories, and recorded them. We have no eye-witness accounts of Jesus at all.
And since we know that "Matthew" shows a very strong dependence on "Mark", as does "Luke", and "John" is the non-synoptic because it's approximately 90% original (and adds the clear claim that Jesus was God), yet still shows a reliance on "Mark", it's obvious that these gospels were chosen for their degree of agreement, from over 30 different gospels commonly read by Christians before the canon was adopted. But when the three latter authors all depended upon the first for much of their information, it makes sense that they would show some consistency in their stories. And this is typical of other myths as well.
A good number of researchers have come forward with the conclusion that Jesus is simply a very popular myth, including Dr. Richard Carrier who actually gathered all of the evidence from all sides of the issue, submitted it to Bayes Theorem, and the result was that the evidence is insufficient to support a finding of historicity.
I am probably a good person but I haven't taken the time to fill out my profile, so you'll never know!