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Jesus: A Historical Fact
by Jack Wellman
2007-12-11 09:23:24
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Jesus Christ is a fact of history. All secular historians who have any merit admit that, regardless of what they believe about Him, Jesus lived! They can not explain Him away. There are countless authors and Historians, thousands of manuscripts, mountainous evidence, providing a multitude of human experience on earth.

So far, there are more than 24,000 partial and complete manuscripts of the New Testament that have been discovered, plus around 900 Old Testament documents. Of ancient writings, the closest one to approach this is The Illiad by Homer, with only 643 surviving manuscripts. We accept as historical fact that Julius Caesar fought the Gallic War even though only 10 surviving copies of his original writings exist. Only 5 manuscripts of Aristotle remain, Homer has 5 and Caesar Claudius‘, who reigned less than ten years after Jesus death, has only 10. We certainly don’t deny these men lived. It would seem far more reasonable to challenge the legitimacy of these individuals ever existing.

Bottom line: the New Testament has an overwhelming amount of original documents. Secular historians--including Josephus (before A.D. 100), the Roman Tacitus (around A.D. 120), the Roman Suetonius ( A.D. 110), and the Roman governor Pliny the Younger ( A.D. 110)--confirm the many events, people, places, and customs chronicled in the New Testament. Early church leaders, such as Irenaeus, Tertullian, Julius Africanus and Clement of Rome - all writing before A.D. 250 - shed light on the New Testament’s historical accuracy.

Why would nearly 100 ancient Historians include Christ in their writings if they knew he didn’t exist? Josephus, Tacitus, Gibbons, and others (all of which are highly respected) would not have written about someone that was only a myth. They wrote with certainty when speaking of Jesus. Even sceptical historians agree that the New Testament is a remarkable historical document. So we can say with authority that the Bible has stronger manuscript support than any other work of classical literature, including Homer, Plato, Aristotle, Caesar, and Tacitus, who all pale in evidential comparison.

The roughly 24,000 manuscripts of the New Testament date from as early as the 1st and 2nd century (55AD - 160AD). The manuscripts written in Coptic, Syrian and Latin agree with each other in text and context. Only slight and insignificant (grammatical) differences were found, but nearly 98% of the text’s had the same writing’s.

The Old Testament (which also testifies of Jesus) is well represented too with over 900 documents representing as many as 350 separate works in multiple copies. One cave alone (4 of the Qumran) contained 520 full texts in 15,000 fragments. The Greek translation of the Old Testament is called the Septuagint. Septuagint is Latin for “seventy”, representing the seventy scholars that meticulously translated the scriptures during the third century B. C.

Importantly, the manuscripts are what Historians call a primary source, considered absolutely the most reliable of all sources. At worst, they are a secondary source, where ancient scribes meticulously copied original (primary source) texts. And recent finds like the bones and remains of Caiaphas, the high priest, a written reference of King David, and a stone tablet bearing Pontius Pilate's name are still being discovered.

The Bible is the most comprehensively documented (manuscripts), supported (archeologically), preserved (a minimum of 30,000 manuscripts) compilation of historical records and events ever assembled in human history. It is not a blind faith. It is no accident that Jesus is the most recognized, well known and written about Person that ever existed. You can not ignore the enormous number of original documents that make up the Canonized books of the Bible. Nor of the certainty that, not only did Jesus exist, He still does.


    
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Sand2007-12-11 09:51:10
Even a brief search of the internet indicates that there are serious doubts about the existence of Jesus. This is one of them. http://www.religioustolerance.org/chr_jcno.htm

If Jesus' existence was so terribly secure the question would probably never arise.


Emanuel Paparella2007-12-11 11:55:48
“If Jesus' existence was so terribly secure the question would probably never arise.”

Were I teaching logic 101 I would cite the above statement as a good example of a logical fallacy. The twisted logic here, parading as rationality, seems to be that the security of the existence of any historical event and/or person can be challenged simply by raising a doubt about it. (continued below)


Emanuel Paparella2007-12-11 11:56:53
“If Jesus' existence was so terribly secure the question would probably never arise.”

Let us look at an analogy. There are anti-Semites today, and surely there will be others tomorrow, who vehemently deny the existence of the Holocaust, an event that took place in Germany only sixty short years ago. They will not deny however the existence of Hitler, whom they admire. Most logical people will conclude that such a denial is ideologically motivated and has nothing to do with the truth of the matter, it is in fact a lie repeated ad nauseam in the hope that it will eventually stick. Simply put, the Jews are being bashed.

Similarly, all we need to do is to take a good look at the profile of those who deny the very existence of Jesus Christ. Invariably they are religion bashers out to discredit Christianity while baking cookies and cakes to celebrate a Christmas event about which they deny the existence. They also place A.D. after the current year, which means Anno Domini or the year of our Lord, while blissfully denying his existence. What a paradox: rationality used for illogical statements. One such in the article cited (which in fairness examines both sides of the issue) is the rationalist and atheist Bertrand Russel. One would expect him to endorse the above statement despite that fact that he wrote Principia Matematica with Alfred Whitehead. That is not only paradoxical but hilarious, just as the universal rationalistic statements on Africans by Hume and Kant (quoted yesterday in a comment regarding the UN Declaration of Universal Rights), are also funny if they weren’t so sad and pathetic.


Sand2007-12-11 12:53:23
Did a historical Jesus exist?

by Jim Walker

originated: 12 June 1997 / additions: 22 Sep. 2007



Amazingly, the question of an actual historical Jesus rarely confronts the religious believer. The power of faith has so forcefully driven the minds of most believers, and even apologetic scholars, that the question of reliable evidence gets obscured by tradition, religious subterfuge, and outrageous claims. The following gives a brief outlook about the claims of a historical Jesus and why the evidence the Christians present us cannot serve as justification for reliable evidence for a historical Jesus.



ALL CLAIMS OF JESUS DERIVE FROM HEARSAY ACCOUNTS

No one has the slightest physical evidence to support a historical Jesus; no artifacts, dwelling, works of carpentry, or self-written manuscripts. All claims about Jesus derive from writings of other people. There occurs no contemporary Roman record that shows Pontius Pilate executing a man named Jesus. Devastating to historians, there occurs not a single contemporary writing that mentions Jesus. All documents about Jesus got written well after the life of the alleged Jesus from either: unknown authors, people who had never met an earthly Jesus, or from fraudulent, mythical or allegorical writings. Although one can argue that many of these writings come from fraud or interpolations, I will use the information and dates to show that even if these sources did not come from interpolations, they could still not serve as reliable evidence for a historical Jesus, simply because all sources derive from hearsay accounts.

Hearsay means information derived from other people rather than on a witness' own knowledge.

Courts of law do not generally allow hearsay as testimony, and nor does honest modern scholarship. Hearsay provides no proof or good evidence, and therefore, we should dismiss it.

If you do not understand this, imagine yourself confronted with a charge for a crime which you know you did not commit. You feel confident that no one can prove guilt because you know that there exists no evidence whatsoever for the charge against you. Now imagine that you stand present in a court of law that allows hearsay as evidence. When the prosecution presents its case, everyone who takes the stand against you claims that you committed the crime, not as a witness themselves, but solely because other people said so. None of these other people, mind you, ever show up in court, nor can anyone find them.

Hearsay does not work as evidence because we have no way of knowing whether the person lies, or simply bases his or her information on wrongful belief or bias. We know from history about witchcraft trials and kangaroo courts that hearsay provides neither reliable nor fair statements of evidence. We know that mythology can arise out of no good information whatsoever. We live in a world where many people believe in demons, UFOs, ghosts, or monsters, and an innumerable number of fantasies believed as fact taken from nothing but belief and hearsay. It derives from these reasons why hearsay cannot serves as good evidence, and the same reasoning must go against the claims of a historical Jesus or any other historical person.

Authors of ancient history today, of course, can only write from indirect observation in a time far removed from their aim. But a valid historian's own writing gets cited with sources that trace to the subject themselves, or to eyewitnesses and artifacts. For example a historian today who writes about the life of George Washington, of course, can not serve as an eyewitness, but he can provide citations to documents which give personal or eyewitness accounts. None of the historians about Jesus give reliable sources to eyewitnesses, therefore all we have remains as hearsay.



Sand2007-12-11 14:56:22
One of the hallmarks of a good philosopher and especially a good historian is that all possibilities are held tentatively. As records reach back into history the further back they go the more doubts must be held about their veracity. Doubt is, of course, a prized characteristic of science as it leaves doors open to new viewpoints but establishments of power and faith reject doubt ferociously as it attacks the foundations of their power.


Dimitrios2007-12-11 15:37:46
"All secular historians who have any merit admit that.."

Now, honest, this is not really objective, is it?

If we discard those we disagree with as "having no merit", then we will be happy to notice that the ones who have any merit bear a unanimous opinion. A miracle!


Sand2007-12-11 15:55:31
Insofar as celebrating the winter solstice is concerned with cakes and cookies, The time was celebrated well before Christianity. Winter in the northern hemisphere was a time of hardship and using up stores of food. That a culture would celebrate making it halfway through is a tradition that far precedes the assumed birth of Christ as noted at http://de.essortment.com/christmaspagan_rece.htm

It would be well for a self labeled historian to look deeper into time than his own personal fantasies.


Emanuel Paparella2007-12-11 16:21:44
But the least we can do when we disagree, Dimitrios, is to look at both sides of the coin before declaring one side or the other as having no merit. Surely you'd agree with that. In these comments we have been served with with references to self-serving sites who present one side with an obvious agenda in mind: the bashing of Christianity. How about taking a glimpse at the other side too? Here is a link that may prove helpful:

http://www.americanthinker.com/2007/10/did_jesus_even_exist_can_you_h.html


Emanuel Paparella2007-12-11 16:40:30
What I find doubly reprehensible in those who are in the inveterate nasty habit of grinding an ax against religion and denying even the historical evidence with their fantasies and voices in their head, is that first they attempt to reduce historical fact and events to myth and then they proceed to reduce myth to a mere lie, thus showing their abysmal ignorance not only of what religion is but of what myth is all about.


Sand2007-12-11 16:57:37
A person would have to be blind, deaf and dumb to ignore the horrors that religion throughout history and most obviously today with the daily suicide bombers demonstrating the insanity where lives the tenets of religion. That the Muslims today are the actors in this grisly horror in no way exempts way the behaviors of other religions including Christianity. To incessantly characterize the presentation of these undeniable incidents as "religion bashing" is a clear demonstration that somehow defenders of these frightful nightmare organizations have some stake in seeing to it that their power structure is maintained. I don't find this position defensible.


Emanuel Paparella2007-12-11 18:53:47
http://www.metanexus.net/magazine/tabid/68/id/10216/Default.aspx

The link above is for the benefit of readers interested in a more nuanced and balanced, less biased and fanatical review of the issue of the abuses of religion vis a vis reason.


Simon2007-12-11 19:05:30
Even if Jesus was proved to have never existed would that change people's faith in Christianity?

Likewise, if Jesus was proved to have existed it would probably encourage more non-believers to re-examine their beliefs.


Emanuel Paparella2007-12-11 19:41:53
Do you find it in any way strange, Simon that 11 of the 12 apostles or disciples of Jesus died for a person that never existed; that is to say, for an idea. That could be expected from a Greek philosopher such as Socrates or Plato, but not from 12 unschooled Jewish fishermen. Moroever it strains one's credulity that those unschooled fishermen would then concoct a complex theology and mythology by which to fool billions of people for some two thousand years. If that is the case, then I believe in the Pie in the sky.


Sand2007-12-11 19:59:53
Jim Walker continues.

THE BIBLE GOSPELS

The most "authoritative" accounts of a historical Jesus come from the four canonical Gospels of the Bible. Note that these Gospels did not come into the Bible as original and authoritative from the authors themselves, but rather from the influence of early church fathers, especially the most influential of them all: Irenaeus of Lyon who lived in the middle of the second century. Many heretical gospels existed by that time, but Irenaeus considered only some of them for mystical reasons. He claimed only four in number; according to Romer, "like the four zones of the world, the four winds, the four divisions of man's estate, and the four forms of the first living creatures-- the lion of Mark, the calf of Luke, the man of Matthew, the eagle of John (see Against the Heresies). The four gospels then became Church cannon for the orthodox faith. Most of the other claimed gospel writings were burned, destroyed, or lost." [Romer]

Elaine Pagels writes: "Although the gospels of the New Testament-- like those discovered at Nag Hammadi-- are attributed to Jesus' followers, no one knows who actually wrote any of them." [Pagels, 1995]

Not only do we not know who wrote them, consider that none of the Gospels existed during the alleged life of Jesus, nor do the unknown authors make the claim to have met an earthly Jesus. Add to this that none of the original gospel manuscripts exist; we only have copies of copies.

The consensus of many biblical historians put the dating of the earliest Gospel, that of Mark, at sometime after 70 C.E., and the last Gospel, John after 90 C.E. [Pagels, 1995; Helms]. This would make it some 40 years after the alleged crucifixion of Jesus that we have any Gospel writings that mention him! Elaine Pagels writes that "the first Christian gospel was probably written during the last year of the war, or the year it ended. Where it was written and by whom we do not know; the work is anonymous, although tradition attributes it to Mark..." [Pagels, 1995]

The traditional Church has portrayed the authors as the apostles Mark, Luke, Matthew, & John, but scholars know from critical textural research that there simply occurs no evidence that the gospel authors could have served as the apostles described in the Gospel stories. Yet even today, we hear priests and ministers describing these authors as the actual disciples of Christ. Many Bibles still continue to label the stories as "The Gospel according to St. Matthew," "St. Mark," "St. Luke," St. John." No apostle would have announced his own sainthood before the Church's establishment of sainthood. But one need not refer to scholars to determine the lack of evidence for authorship. As an experiment, imagine the Gospels without their titles. See if you can find out from the texts who wrote them; try to find their names.

Even if the texts supported the notion that the apostles wrote them, consider that the average life span of humans in the first century came to around 30, and very few people lived to 70. If the apostles births occured at about the same time as the alleged Jesus, and wrote their gospels in their old age, that would put Mark at least 70 years old, and John at over 110.

The gospel of Mark describes the first written Bible gospel. And although Mark appears deceptively after the Matthew gospel, the gospel of Mark got written at least a generation before Matthew. From its own words, we can deduce that the author of Mark had neither heard Jesus nor served as his personal follower. Whoever wrote the gospel, he simply accepted the mythology of Jesus without question and wrote a crude an ungrammatical account of the popular story at the time. Any careful reading of the three Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke) will reveal that Mark served as the common element between Matthew and Luke and gave the main source for both of them. Of Mark's 666* verses, some 600 appear in Matthew, some 300 in Luke. According to Randel Helms, the author of Mark, stands at least at a third remove from Jesus and more likely at the fourth remove. [Helms]

* Most Bibles show 678 verses for Mark, not 666, but many Biblical scholars think the last 12 verses came later from interpolation. The earliest manuscripts and other ancient sources do not have Mark 16: 9-20. Moreover the text style does not match and the transition between verse 8 and 9 appears awkward. Even some of today's Bibles such as the NIV exclude the last 12 verses.

The author of Matthew had obviously gotten his information from Mark's gospel and used them for his own needs. He fashioned his narrative to appeal to Jewish tradition and Scripture. He improved the grammar of Mark's Gospel, corrected what he felt theologically important, and heightened the miracles and magic.

The author of Luke admits himself as an interpreter of earlier material and not an eyewitness (Luke 1:1-4). Many scholars think the author of Luke lived as a gentile, or at the very least, a hellenized Jew and even possibly a woman. He (or she) wrote at a time of tension in the Roman empire along with its fever of persecution. Many modern scholars think that the Gospel of Matthew and Luke got derived from the Mark gospel and a hypothetical document called "Q" (German Quelle, which means "source"). [Helms; Wilson] . However, since we have no manuscript from Q, no one could possibly determine its author or where or how he got his information or the date of its authorship. Again we get faced with unreliable methodology and obscure sources.

John, the last appearing Bible Gospel, presents us with long theological discourses from Jesus and could not possibly have come as literal words from a historical Jesus. The Gospel of John disagrees with events described in Mark, Matthew, and Luke. Moreover the unknown author(s) of this gospel wrote it in Greek near the end of the first century, and according to Bishop Shelby Spong, the book "carried within it a very obvious reference to the death of John Zebedee (John 21:23)." [Spong]

Please understand that the stories themselves cannot serve as examples of eyewitness accounts since they came as products of the minds of the unknown authors, and not from the characters themselves. The Gospels describe narrative stories, written almost virtually in the third person. People who wish to portray themselves as eyewitnesses will write in the first person, not in the third person. Moreover, many of the passages attributed to Jesus could only have come from the invention of its authors. For example, many of the statements of Jesus claim to have come from him while allegedly alone. If so, who heard him? It becomes even more marked when the evangelists report about what Jesus thought. To whom did Jesus confide his thoughts? Clearly, the Gospels employ techniques that fictional writers use. In any case the Gospels can only serve, at best, as hearsay, and at worst, as fictional, mythological, or falsified stories.



Sand2007-12-11 20:27:16
There are lots of people with lives so miserable that pie in the sky is a much better prospect than what they have to look forward to. That people who have relatively good lives believe in pie in the sky probably is due to several possibilities. Child indoctrination is very frequently extremely difficult to be amenable to reason and common sense. Some people do not have the capability to reason well. And some people have invested so much of their lives in religious culture that they cannot afford to question what they have been indoctrinated in. Pie in the sky seems to sell as well as tobacco and it may be difficult to tell which is more destructive.


Emanuel Paparella2007-12-11 20:53:15
It is obvious that our religion basher in residence insists on his universal cake in the sky while blatantly ignoring the other side of the coin. So, for the unquisitive, unbiased reader let us post the other side of the coin:

Did Jesus Even Exist? Can you have an effect without a cause?

By James Arlandson

1. Where do questions like those in the title come from? The larger context of hyper-skepticism: René Descartes (1596-1650) sat alone in a room and conducted an experiment, of sorts. He wondered how far he could get if he were to doubt everything - and I mean everything: his five senses, the existence of his own body, the truths of mathematics and science, God's existence, whether Descartes was awake or asleep, dreaming.

What did he come out with? He is a thing that thinks. "I think, therefore I am." Even when he doubts, his mind exists. Even if he lives in a dream, then his mind exists. Even if he is deceived by a malicious deity, then there is something that can be deceived. He can even be a disembodied thinking thing. To his credit, however, he tried to rebuild secure knowledge in the rest of his Mediations, but today's philosophers conclude that his rebuilding project was naïve. He let the hyper-skeptical genie out of the bottle.

Descartes is considered the founding father of modern philosophy, and the hyper-doubt goes on today.

So, to ask whether an historical figure like Jesus even existed is child's play for the hyper-skeptics, if they can doubt basic and commonsense truths right in front of their faces, before their eyes.


Simon2007-12-11 20:58:30
How do we really know they were only 'mere' fishermen?

Perhaps they down-graded their real background in order to bring increased believability to their stories... who knows...


Emanuel Paparella2007-12-11 21:04:35
(continued from above)
2. So what do these non-Christian sources say about Jesus?

A. Josephus (c. AD 37 to post-100), a Jewish historian, records some interesting comments about Jesus and James, the (half) bother of Jesus. We quote from his book Jewish Antiquities, his second major work (Jewish Wars is the first), written in the early 90s.

The first passage has sparked controversy because it is widely believed that a Christian scribe interpolated (inserted) some clauses. But here is an expurgated version:

Around this time lived Jesus, a wise man. For he was a worker of amazing deeds and was a teacher of people who gladly accept the truth. He won over both many Jews and many Greeks. Pilate, when he heard him accused by the leading men among us, condemned him to the cross, [but] those who have first loved him did not cease [doing so]. To this day the tribe of Christians named after him has not disappeared. (from Jewish Antiquities 18.3.2; quoted in Van Voorst; readers may read the fuller version here, scrolling down to Chapter 3)

Scholars agree that Josephus wrote a passage on Jesus. Most scholars would agree on this restored version. When they don't agree, they usually make Josephus a little more hostile (Bruce, p. 39).


Emanuel Paparella2007-12-11 21:14:48
C. Tacitus (c. 56-120) was considered one of the most careful of Roman historians. He makes a passing reference to Jesus in the context of Nero blaming the fire in Rome on July 19, AD 64 on Christians. He wanted to deflect blame from himself. The following portion of his Annals was written about AD 112.

Tacitus writes with a clear note of contempt:
But neither human resources, nor imperial munificence, nor appeasement of the gods, eliminated sinister suspicions that the fire had been instigated. To suppress this rumor, Nero fabricated scapegoats - and punished with every refinement the notoriously depraved Christians (as they were popularly called). The originator, Christ, had been executed in Tiberius' reign by the governor of Judaea, Pontius Pilatus. But in spite of this temporary setback the deadly superstition had broken out afresh, not only in Judaea (where the mischief had started) but even in Rome. All degraded and shameful practices collect and flourish in the capital (Annals 15.44.2-3; trans. by Michael Grant, The Annals of Imperial Rome, Rev. ed. Penguin Classics, 1977, p. 365; online)
The rest of the passage in Tacitus describes the torture that the Christians suffered. They were covered in animal skins and torn to pieces by wild dogs; they were crucified; or they were turned into human torches, in Nero's gardens, though there seems to be a textual problem with the "torches" (Van Voorst, p. 42. note 59).


Emanuel Paparella2007-12-11 21:15:59
(continued from above)

Tacitus corroborates the Gospels on the following points: Christ was the originator of the religion ("deadly superstition"); he was executed during the reign of the Roman Emperor Tiberius (AD 14-37); he was executed by Pontius Pilate (ruled in Judea AD 27-37); there was indeed a temporary setback after Christ's death, as the Gospels indicate; but the religion flamed back up. It made it to Rome (Christ predicted that it would go into all the world in Matt. 24:14; 28:16-20; Mark 13:10). Tacitus mentions Judea as the place or origin. This probably reflects the fact that Christianity was centered there after the death of Jesus.


Emanuel Paparella2007-12-11 21:20:09
(continued from above)
3. Were Josephus and Tacitus eyewitnesses to Jesus?

No. But they were careful historians - at least careful enough to affirm that Jesus existed and was crucified under Pontius Pilate. Eddy and Rhodes explain why Tacitus himself would look into the existence of Jesus, and not depend on Christian hearsay, but on official records (pp. 182-84). J. P. Holding has an excellent online article on Tacitus ("Nero's Scapegoats"). Skeptics must work their way through key books and articles in the References and Further Readings section, below.

4. What about other New Testament figures in non-Christian sources?

This article is really about the historical reliability of the Gospels, not just the existence of Jesus. Again, these references are numbered for clarity.

A. There is another important person who appears in all four Gospels and Josephus: John the Baptist. The lengthy account in Josephus' history and the four Gospels agree on some main points. John is called the Baptist; he was a good man who commanded the Jews to exercise virtue, in righteousness to man and to God, and in piety; John commanded them to come to baptism in water; crowds came to him, for they were moved to hear him. Herod the tetrarch made him a prisoner and put him to death (read the account here).

The differences in Josephus and the Gospels are mainly political. Herod kills John because the ruler feared John's influence over the people, for he might raise a rebellion against Herod. But the Gospels say that Herod executed John because he condemned the ruler for marrying his brother Philip's wife, Herodias (Josephus alludes to this, too). Both can be true. Herod feared John's influence and was angry at his denunciation.


Emanuel Paparella2007-12-11 21:23:21

B. Josephus mentions Annas and Caiaphas the high priests during the ministry of Jesus or close to his timeframe (Jewish Antiquities 18 and 20; do a control-F word search on their names or Ananus). The Gospels also mention them: Annas (Luke 3:2; John 18:13, 24; cf. Acts 4:6) and Caiaphas (Matt. 26:3, 57; Luke 3:2; John 11:49; 18:13, 14, 24, 28; cf. Acts 4:6).

C. Finally, as noted, Josephus discusses Pontius Pilate in several places (Jewish Antiquities 18 and Jewish Wars 2; do a control-F word search on Pilate). He is referenced about fifty-eight times in the four Gospels (many in parallel passages), three times in Acts, and once in 1 Timothy 6:13.

We could do a study of these persons, both in the Gospels and Josephus (see Evans, pp. 166-75, for a good study on Pilate). But we do not have the space. Suffice it to say here that Josephus does not doubt the existence of John the Baptist, Pontius Pilate, and the two high priests. So why should we? The Gospels and outside written sources cohere together often. I see no reason or need for hyper-skepticism about the existence of Jesus and others mentioned inside and outside the New Testament


Emanuel Paparella2007-12-11 21:36:56
(continued from above)
5. Are there more non-Christian sources?

Yes, and I provide links to online articles and books that discuss those sources (see especially J. P. Holding, References and Further Reading, below). But perhaps the question is - why are the unambiguous and solid sources so few? Also, why are there not more unimpeachable sources that are contemporary with Jesus? These questions can be answered in seven ways.

First, Roman histories that were contemporary with Jesus or nearly so have perished. Second, the ancients did not live in the world of satellite hookups. So there was a time lag between the events and writing them down. Third, earliest Christianity was not on Rome's radar screen, so to speak, until the religion was perceived to be a threat or at least interacted strongly with life in Rome. Thus, when Jesus was perceived to be a threat in small, outlying regions called Galilee and Judea, he was executed by the Roman authorities stationed in Jerusalem. End of story, for elite Romans living in the largest city in the Mediterranean world - Rome. By analogy, Pontius Pilate is such a minor figure that he is nowhere mentioned in the Roman histories, except when they bring up Jesus, specifically only in Tacitus (see Q & A One, above).


Emanuel Paparella2007-12-11 21:43:21
(continued from above)
Fourth, Roman historians, in treating of religions, do not delve into their origins in any detail. The historians cared only about the religions now, and how they may influence Roman society. For example, Tacitus does not explore the origins of Judaism, not even Abraham, Moses, or David, but Tacitus does examine the Judaism of his day. Fifth, the first full Gospels were not written and shared among communities until about AD 70 and later. So it should not be expected that the Gospels would come into the hands of first-century historians. Rather, it is the second-century historians who take Christianity seriously, as it spread around the empire. And the historians still did not have access to the written Gospels, in all likelihood - in the age before printing presses, after all.


Emanuel Paparella2007-12-11 21:46:21
(continued from above)
Sixth, a less-than-observant reading of the Gospels may give the impression that Jesus' ministry impacted the whole known world right after a miracle happened, beamed live by satellite into ancient Gaul (modern France). It is true that his ministry impacted Israel, particularly Galilee, but it did not yet spread much beyond his homeland and its capital, Jerusalem. Roman historians probably would not have heard of him. Seventh and finally, if elite Roman historians had heard of him, there is no reason to expect that they would have written about him. During his ministry, many self-proclaimed prophets and self-styled messiahs wandered around the ancient world. From a comfortable Roman's point of view, Jesus would have been one voice among many.

To repeat, Roman historians took notice of the Jesus movement-turned-church, only when it came across their "radar screen" several decades after he was resurrected. By then he was not on earth to be interrogated. Personally, I'm surprised that the historians and other authors refer to him as often as they do, and accurately, too, in the main. These seven explanations fit the logic of history in the ancient Roman world, at least to me they do.



Emanuel Paparella2007-12-11 21:53:27
(continued from above)
6. Do the Gospels count as historically reliable testimony?

Yes, and that's what the entire series endeavors to establish. The series is really about the Gospels, without entering the world of hyper-skepticism to prove that Jesus existed. He enjoys the support of historically reliable Christian and non-Christian sources. For me, that's enough.

7. But weren't the Gospels written by partisans, so the texts cannot be trusted?

I like how one scholar frames the answer. Craig Evans writes: . . . "if Jesus really said little of lasting significance and was unable to train his disciples to remember accurately what little he did say, then we must really wonder why the Christian movement emerged at all" (p. 47).


Emanuel Paparella2007-12-11 21:54:58
(continued from above)
For our purposes, this quotation means that you cannot have an effect or result without a cause. So even though the Gospels were written by authors with a strong point of view, that does not imply that Jesus never lived. Many Greek and Roman authors who intended to write faithful or even fanciful accounts of an actual person also wrote from a strong viewpoint. For example, this page has links to ancient writings on Alexander the Great. See these texts about Socrates, not written by him: Apology (Defense) by Plato; Clouds by Aristophanes; and Memorabilia, and Apology by Xenophon. Some texts are more accurate than others. But does that mean we should doubt Alexander's existence, at a bare minimum? Doubt the existence of Socrates? Of course not. And so the Gospels fit into their larger literary context.

Today if an extra-cautious rationalist does not believe in the Gospel miracles or believes that the Gospels are built on a legend, the rationalist outwits himself by half if he denies the existence of the historical Jesus. Legendary accounts were built up around real-life Alexander - and some that were intended to tell historical facts, but he still existed, in history (see Q & A Nine).



Emanuel Paparella2007-12-11 21:59:30
(continued from above)
8. How does all of this relate to the Gnostic texts?

Some scholars look for passages in the Gnostic and apocryphal texts, particularly in the gnostic Gospel of Thomas, to find out whether they may be early and independent sources for the existence of the historical Jesus. These scholars believe that they may have found some passages. But their goal is the same as my cause and effect comment, below, in Q & A Ten. They believe that a few parts of the Gnostic texts did not emerge in a vacuum, but have a real, historical Jesus standing behind them, if only remotely. However, on the whole, the Gnostic and apocryphal texts are clearly derivative at best or stray far from the historical Jesus.

Readers may see the References and Further Reading section for more information, looking especially for Bruce and Van Voorst and France.


Sand2007-12-11 22:03:36
Jim Walker continues.

OTHER NEW TESTAMENT WRITINGS

Even in antiquity people like Origen and Eusebius raised doubts about the authenticity of other books in the New Testament such as Hebrews, James, John 2 & 3, Peter 2, Jude, and Revelation. Martin Luther rejected the Epistle of James calling it worthless and an "epistle of straw" and questioned Jude, Hebrews and the Apocalypse in Revelation. Nevertheless, all New Testament writings came well after the alleged death of Jesus from unknown authors (with the possible exception of Paul, although still after the alleged death).

Epistles of Paul: Paul's biblical letters (epistles) serve as the oldest surviving Christian texts, written probably around 60 C.E. Most scholars have little reason to doubt that Paul wrote some of them himself. However, there occurs not a single instance in all of Paul's writings that he ever meets or sees an earthly Jesus, nor does he give any reference to Jesus' life on earth. Therefore, all accounts about a Jesus could only have come from other believers or his imagination. Hearsay.

Epistle of James: Although the epistle identifies a James as the letter writer, but which James? Many claim him as the gospel disciple but the gospels mention several different James. Which one? Or maybe this James has nothing to do with any of the gospel James. Perhaps this writer comes from any one of innumerable James outside the gospels. James served as a common name in the first centuries and we simply have no way to tell who this James refers to. More to the point, the Epistle of James mentions Jesus only once as an introduction to his belief. Nowhere does the epistle reference a historical Jesus and this alone eliminates it from an historical account. [1]

Epistles of John: The epistles of John, the Gospel of John, and Revelation appear so different in style and content that they could hardly have the same author. Some suggest that these writings of John come from the work of a group of scholars in Asia Minor who followed a "John" or they came from the work of church fathers who aimed to further the interests of the Church. Or they could have simply come from people also named John (a very common name). No one knows. Also note that nowhere in the body of the three epistles of "John" does it mention a John. In any case, the epistles of John say nothing about seeing an earthly Jesus. Not only do we not know who wrote these epistles, they can only serve as hearsay accounts. [2]

Epistles of Peter: Many scholars question the authorship of Peter of the epistles. Even within the first epistle, it says in 5:12 that Silvanus wrote it. Most scholars consider the second epistle as unreliable or an outright forgery (for some examples, see the introduction to 2 Peter in the full edition of The New Jerusalem Bible, 1985, and [3]). In short, no one has any way of determining whether the epistles of Peter come from fraud, an unknown author also named Peter (a common name) or from someone trying to further the aims of the Church.

Of the remaining books and letters in the Bible, there occurs no other stretched claims or eyewitness accounts for a historical Jesus and needs no mention of them here for this deliberation.

As for the existence of original New Testament documents, none exist. No book of the New Testament survives in the original autograph copy. What we have then come from copies, and copies of copies, of questionalbe originals (if the stories came piecemeal over time, as it appears it has, then there may never have existed an original). The earliest copies we have came more than a century later than the autographs, and these exist on fragments of papyrus. [Pritchard; Graham] According to Hugh Schonfield, "It would be impossible to find any manuscript of the New Testament older than the late third century, and we actually have copies from the fourth and fifth. [Schonfield]



LYING FOR THE CHURCH

The editing and formation of the Bible came from members of the early Christian Church. Since the fathers of the Church possessed the texts and determined what would appear in the Bible, there occurred plenty of opportunity and motive to change, modify, or create texts that might bolster the position of the Church or the members of the Church themselves.

Take, for example, Eusebius who served as an ecclesiastical church historian and bishop. He had great influence in the early Church and he openly advocated the use of fraud and deception in furthering the interests of the Church [Remsberg]. The first mention of Jesus by Josephus came from Eusebius (none of the earlier church fathers mention Josephus' Jesus). It comes to no surprise why many scholars think that Eusebius interpolated his writings. In his Ecclesiastical History, he writes, "We shall introduce into this history in general only those events which may be useful first to ourselves and afterwards to posterity." (Vol. 8, chapter 2). In his Praeparatio Evangelica, he includes a chapter titled, "How it may be Lawful and Fitting to use Falsehood as a Medicine, and for the Benefit of those who Want to be Deceived" (book 12, chapter 32).

The Church had such power over people, that to question the Church could result in death. Regardless of what the Church claimed, people had to take it as "truth." St. Ignatius Loyola of the 16th century even wrote: "We should always be disposed to believe that which appears to us to be white is really black, if the hierarchy of the church so decides."

The orthodox Church also fought against competing Christian cults. Irenaeus, who determined the inclusion of the four (now canonical) gospels, wrote his infamous book, "Against the Heresies." According to Romer, "Irenaeus' great book not only became the yardstick of major heresies and their refutations, the starting-point of later inquisitions, but simply by saying what Christianity was not it also, in a curious inverted way, became a definition of the orthodox faith." [Romer] The early Church burned many heretics, along with their sacred texts. If a Jesus did exist, perhaps eyewitness writings got burnt along with them because of their heretical nature. We will never know.

In attempting to salvage the Bible the respected revisionist and scholar, Bruce Metzger has written extensively on the problems of the New Testament. In his book, "The Text of the New Testament-- Its Transmission, Corruption and Restoration, Metzger addresses: Errors arising from faulty eyesight; Errors arising from faulty hearing; Errors of the mind; Errors of judgement; Clearing up historical and geographical difficulties; and Alterations made because of doctrinal considerations. [Metzger]

With such intransigence from the Church and the admitting to lying for its cause, the burning of heretical texts, Bible errors and alterations, how could any honest scholar take any book from the New Testament as absolute, much less using extraneous texts that support a Church's intolerant and biased position, as reliable evidence?



Emanuel Paparella2007-12-11 22:10:56
(continued from above)
9. Should we doubt the existence of Jesus, as hyper-skepticism says, or not?
Not. Hyper-skepticism demands too much of me. It requires me to believe that the apostolic community perpetrated a hoax on society. All of the disciples conspired together to create a religious movement from a fraud - a massive prank. They supposedly engineered Christ's crucifixion and resurrection. They disciples supposedly did this even though they never gained any riches or lived a comfortable life. Hyper-skepticism requires me to believe that the written Gospels are based on an absence or a zero. Hyper-skepticism requires me to believe that the Jesus movement spread like wildfire because of a nothing, a non-existent person.

Maybe it is widely (and inaccurately) believed that Christianity rose to power without any trouble, from the first day, so it was the Christians who harassed people with torture and prison and exclusion. Just the opposite. The earliest Christians were the hunted and the persecuted and the martyred, just as we saw in Tacitus. It is one thing to die for something that you believe is true (though it really isn't). But it is quite another to die for a belief when you know that it is false. The members of the Jim Jones cult drank poison because they believed in their leader, not because they knowingly followed a false messiah. Maybe a few really extreme people would die for a belief that they know to be false, but surely not a huge number, spread out over the Roman Empire.


Emanuel Paparella2007-12-11 22:14:22
(continueed from above)
It is difficult to imagine that the disciples really believed and confessed something like this, if only among themselves: "We follow a non-existent person who never spoke and never did any miracles! We never saw him! We are a mushroom cult that hallucinates. This complete non-human / human zero is why we suffer persecution and martyrdom! We're getting rich and living in mansions! Thank you, non-existent Jesus! Now let's go out there and deceive people! Can I get a witness?"

10. So what does your cause-and-effect title mean?

In the world we live in, up here above quantum fluctuations, we cannot have an effect without a cause. We cannot get something out of nothing. To put things simply, Jesus of Nazareth is the cause. At a minimum, earliest Christianity and the written Gospels are the effect. It is more plausible to believe that the historical Jesus existed than to believe that he did not. He is the one who got the whole movement started. And at a maximum, it is still going around the world, just as he predicted and commanded (Matt. 24:14; 28:16-20; Mark 13:10). I expect that it will continue to flourish and grow.


Emanuel Paparella2007-12-11 22:15:53
(continued from above)
11. So what's the bottom line on all of this?

Much - not all - of this article got sidetracked into the nonsense about the non-existence of Jesus and away from the main goal of the series: the historical reliability of the Gospels. For me, in this specific article, it is remarkable how many times the Gospels enjoy affirmation from Greek and Roman and Jewish sources: Jesus; James his (half) brother; John the Baptist; Pontius Pilate; Ananas and Caiaphas; many Herods (the Great and his offspring and their wives); the Pharisees and Sadducees; and, to step outside the Gospels, Gamaliel in the Mishnah (Paul's teacher; cf. Acts 5:34, 22:3), et al. The corroboration could be extended into sources not discussed in this article (see below for links, particularly J. P. Holding).

The Gospels reflect their historical context. They may go in directions that are not strictly sequential with the events in Jesus' life, taking instead a thematic or theological direction. But the Gospels are still rooted in history, in Israel, about four decades before the destruction of the temple in AD 70 by the Roman General Titus (in that link see an image on the Arch of Titus of the Menorah [and more] triumphantly being carried through Rome).
The evidence in the series is mounting: the Gospels are trustworthy on an historical level.


Emanuel Paparella2007-12-11 22:17:05
(continued from above)
12. What does all of this mean in the big picture?

Hyper-skeptics seem to believe that if they can trash Christianity and somehow spark a mass defection, then all the world will be better off. But apparently they do not realize that a competitor religion has entered the marketplace of ideas, with some force (pun intended). When people defect from Christianity, they may not turn secular. They may join a religion (can you guess which one I'm hinting at?) that denies basic freedom of expression and thought - the very freedom that the hyper-skeptics depend on to attempt to eviscerate Christianity. If this competitor religion were to win the day, its leaders will not permit the hyper-skeptics to attack its holy book and its founder. Imprisonment or death may be imposed on them.

Sometimes I sit back to figure out why people make outlandish claims - about history (no need to talk about miracles now). But I cannot figure out why hyper-skeptics overreach and wish to tear down a religion that harms no one today with a holy war or death by stoning for adultery, for example. I have read the personal stories of some hyper-skeptics, and they indicate that in their childhood they got burned by a church. I concede that too often, sadly, the meanest people are in church, but a lot of normal people have unpleasant personal experiences with a religion; they leave things alone without saying that Jesus never existed.

Anyway, for further reflection . . .


Emanuel Paparella2007-12-11 22:18:18
(continued from above)
13. So what does all of this mean to the Church of all denominations?

It is doubtful whether you will come in contact with a hyper-skeptic. If so, you may use the resources, below, in the References and Further Reading section. Maybe this article will help, too. I suggest that you give very little time to true-blue hyper-skeptics. They will never be satisfied. If there are three high-quality references to Jesus and many references to other New Testament figures, then the hyper-skeptics will clamor for more, always more.

But if I may counsel you members of the Church wherever it is found - in the unlikely event that you were to meet a hyper-skeptic who tells you that Jesus may not have existed, I counsel that you should tell him that the four Gospels are reliable enough for you. Literary sources outside the Gospels corroborate again and again the existence of persons - not just Jesus - inside the Gospels. All of the sources cohere together and correspond to each other. Jesus existed, and so did a lot of other New Testament figures.

The hyper-skeptics overreach. If I may counsel them for a moment, they should acknowledge that Jesus of Nazareth lived. They can then move on to attack the history and the content of the Gospels themselves, like the miracles (that's irony, folks.)


Sand2007-12-11 22:36:38
I really doubt that the scams of Scientology could replace Christianity. They are too obvious.

Jim Walker continues:

GNOSTIC GOSPELS

In 1945, an Arab made an archeological discovery in Upper Egypt of several ancient papyrus books. They have since referred to it as The Nag Hammadi texts. They contained fifty-two heretical books written in Coptic script which include gospels of Thomas, Philip, James, John, Thomas, and many others. Archeologists have dated them at around 350-400 C.E. They represent copies from previous copies. None of the original texts exist and scholars argue about a possible date of the originals. Some of them think that they can hardly have dates later than 120-150 C.E. Others have put it closer to 140 C.E. [Pagels, 1979]

Other Gnostic gospels such as the Gospel of Judas, found near the Egyptian site of the Nag Hammadi texts, shows a diverse pattern of story telling, always a mark of myth. The Judas gospel tells of Judas Iscariot as Jesus' most loyal disciple, just opposite that of the canonical gospel stories. Note that the text does not claim that Judas Iscariot wrote it. The Judas gospel, a copy written in Coptic, dates to around the third-to fourth-century. The original Greek version probably dates to between 130 and 170 C.E., around the same tine as the Nag Hammadi texts. Irenaeus first mentions this gospel in Adversus Haereses (Against Heresies) written around 180 C.E., so we know that this represented a heretical gospel.

Since these Gnostic texts could only have its unknown authors writing well after the alleged life of Jesus, they cannot serve as historical evidence of Jesus anymore than the canonical versions. Again, we only have "heretical" hearsay.



NON-CHRISTIAN SOURCES

Virtually all other claims of Jesus come from sources outside of Christian writings. Devastating to the claims of Christians, however, comes from the fact that all of these accounts come from authors who lived after the alleged life of Jesus. Since they did not live during the time of the hypothetical Jesus, none of their accounts serve as eyewitness evidence.

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.

Pliny the Younger, a Roman official, got born in 62 C.E. His letter about the Christians only shows that he got his information from Christian believers themselves. Regardless, his birth date puts him out of the range of eyewitness accounts.

Tacitus, the Roman historian's birth year at 64 C.E., puts him well after the alleged life of Jesus. He gives a brief mention of a "Christus" in his Annals (Book XV, Sec. 44), which he wrote around 109 C.E. He gives no source for his material. Although many have disputed the authenticity of Tacitus' mention of Jesus, the very fact that his birth happened after the alleged Jesus and wrote the Annals during the formation of Christianity, shows that his writing can only provide us with hearsay accounts.

Suetonius, a Roman historian, born in 69 C.E. mentions a "Chrestus," a common name. Apologists assume that "Chrestus" means "Christ" (a disputable claim). But even if Seutonius had meant "Christ," it still says nothing about an earthly Jesus. Just like all the others, Suetonius' birth occurred well after the purported Jesus. Again, only hearsay.

Talmud: Amazingly some Christians use brief portions of the Talmud, (a collection of Jewish civil a religious law, including commentaries on the Torah), as evidence for Jesus. They claim that Yeshu (a common name in Jewish literature) in the Talmud refers to Jesus. However, this Jesus, according to Gerald Massey actually depicts a disciple of Jehoshua Ben-Perachia at least a century before the alleged Christian Jesus. [Massey] Regardless of how one interprets this, the Palestinian Talmud got written between the 3rd and 5th century C.E., and the Babylonian Talmud between the 3rd and 6th century C.E., at least two centuries after the alleged crucifixion! At best it can only serve as a controversial Christian and pagan legend; it cannot possibly serve as evidence for a historical Jesus.

Christian apologists mostly use the above sources for their "evidence" of Jesus because they believe they represent the best outside sources. All other sources (Christian and non-Christian) come from even less reliable sources, some of which include: Mara Bar-Serapion (circa 73 C.E.), Ignatius (50 - 98? C.E.), Polycarp (69 - 155 C.E.), Clement of Rome (? - circa 160 C.E.), Justin Martyr (100 - 165 C.E.), Lucian (circa 125 - 180 C.E.), Tertullian (160 - ? C.E.), Clement of Alexandria (? - 215 C.E.), Origen (185 - 232 C.E.), Hippolytus (? - 236 C.E.), and Cyprian (? - 254 C.E.). As you can see, all these people lived well after the alleged death of Jesus. Not one of them provides an eyewitness account, all of them simply spout hearsay.

As you can see, apologist Christians embarrass themselves when they unwittingly or deceptively violate the rules of historiography by using after-the-event writings as evidence for the event itself. Not one of these writers gives a source or backs up his claims with evidential material about Jesus. Although we can provide numerous reasons why the Christian and non-Christian sources prove spurious, and argue endlessly about them, we can cut to the chase by simply determining the dates of the documents and the birth dates of the authors. It doesn't matter what these people wrote about Jesus, an author who writes after the alleged happening and gives no detectable sources for his material can only give example of hearsay. All of these anachronistic writings about Jesus could easily have come from the beliefs and stories from Christian believers themselves. And as we know from myth, superstition, and faith, beliefs do not require facts or evidence for their propagation and circulation. Thus we have only beliefs about Jesus' existence, and nothing more.


Emanuel Paparella2007-12-11 22:41:51
THE INTELLIGENT UNBIASED READER HAS NOW BEFORE HIM IN OVI MAGAZINE BOTH SIDES OF THE COIN, SO TO SPEAK, BY WHICH TO MAKE UP HIS/HER MIND IRENICALLY ON THE ISSUE OF THE HISTORICAL EXISTENCE OF JESUS OF NAZARETH, WITHOUT RISKING THE CLEVERNESS BY HALF OF THE HYPER-DOUBTER.


Sand2007-12-11 22:50:11
Although my mother's name was Irene I never considered her attitude could be transformed into a verb. It's an interesting concept. NO NEED TO SHOUT!


Emanuel Paparella2007-12-12 00:07:09
Are those bullying voices at it again? It was not me that shouted. In written language one can emphazize but not shout.

Indeed, irenic is part of the English lexicon. Isn't English a wonderful language always confounding those who cavalierly boast of knowing it perfectly? Other languages are even more wonderful.


Sand2007-12-12 01:30:25
Confounded seems an exaggerated way to put it but I'm always happy to learn a new word. I never claimed to know them all. I doubt I'll use it though because I've never encountered it before so I doubt it would be understood.
My aim differs from yours as I try to communicate, not to befuddle.


Emanuel Paparella2007-12-12 03:14:33
Beffudlement is in the eye of the beholder especially when the beholder does not like the message he is receiving. In any case, as all poets are aware of, communication is only one, and not even the most vital, function of language.


Sand2007-12-12 04:46:43
It's fascinating how pompous idiots claim for themselves the right to speak for whole classes of people or even their gods. The bulk of your writing is clear demonstration of your disdain for communication and great capability for generating disgust.


Emanuel Paparella2007-12-12 12:20:54
"DIS-GUST"! Now, there is an insult and argumentum ad hominem well worth analysing. The root etymology is the Latin word gustum or "taste." Understanding that root allows us to understand why some of today rationalists with totalitarian tendencies, when confronted with a universal cake they did not concoct or do not like, will condemn it as "dis-gusting," that is to say, not pleasing to their palate. The fallacy is to assume that it ought therefore be universally condemned by everybody because their palate finds it "dis-gusting." The Roman Stoics who were also rationalists but a bit wiser than some of the modern ones, and also knew their Latin semantics well, advised that "De gustibus non disputandum." Which is to say, they knew how to distinguish universality from narcisism.


Sand2007-12-12 15:13:54
Playing in your antique literary sandpile does nothing to mitigate my revulsion for your lack of realistic integrity.


Emanuel Paparella2007-12-12 16:35:04
REVULSION. Here is another insult worthy of further exploration. What happens when one's stomach is upset or revolted by ingesting unhealthy substances? One throws up. Which means that the stomach in most rationalists assuming that what is modern is always better than what is ancient, is wiser than their mind.


Sand2007-12-12 17:27:27
I am not revolted by the ancient philosophers since they did the best they could with the traditional distortions of how data could be analyzed and had a poor concept of how to go about it. It is you, Paparella that I find to be a pitiful fool since we are now in possession of far better data and much more appropriate means of dealing with it and you are completely inept in approaching the material.


Emanuel Paparella2007-12-12 18:47:18
To the contrary, were the ancients able to return to earth, they might be surprised at first about TV and cellular phones, but then they would realize what fools they were dealing with who cannot grasp the concept of mind and soul and stockpile atomic bombs for what they surmise to be security. They would be astonished indeed.


Emanuel Paparella2007-12-12 18:58:35
P.S. "...you are completely inept in approaching the material."

Now, there is another insult passing for rational argument, worthy of further scrutiny, given the ambiguity of language. That word "material" can be construed in two ways. The absurdity of the pitiful fools who call themselves rationalists nowadays consists in assuming that things of the spirit and of the mind can also be understood materially. A Plato, confronted with such a pitiful insult as the above would probably rejoind: "but Sir, you, on the other hand, seem to be completely inept in grasping the spiritual and the intellectual, and the latter, whether you understand it or not, is a far worse condition than the former."


Sand2007-12-12 20:32:30
Souls, of course, are totlly imaginary but useful for religions that use them to gull adherents. Anybody who has the slightest acquaintance with afflictions such as Alzheimer's and many other mental difficulties is well aware of how the mind is totally dependent upon physical conditions within the brain.


Emanuel Paparella2007-12-13 09:15:04
I am repeating here a comment I just wrote under another piece since it applies here as well:

The point was simple but it seemed to have escaped you, which paradoxically proves my point about the inability by some modern rationalists to perceive unseen spiritual and intellectual realities… Let me reiterate it once more: when post-modern “enlightened” man first reduces man to the sum of his material parts (an aggregation of atoms and even sub-atomic particles), to a mere utilitarian economic function, and then proceeds to make and sell chemical substances with human corpses; (something being done presently in some of the most so called “civilized” country in the West), then such a man has regressed in his humanity much further back than the ancient Greeks and Romans and even the northern barbarians of those times. He is in fact a barbarian of the intellect and of the spirit which makes the barbarian of the body of two thousand years ago who destroyed the Roman Empire look good in comparison. You will surely attempt once more to sidestep the issue and befuddle by reducing it all to a caricature bringing in goblins and helves and lepricons, but when the Greeks of the Homeric times (two hundred or so years before Socrates) understood that Achilles’ dragging of the body of Hector behind his chariot around the walls of Troy was a desecration of an unseen but real and powerful spiritual and even intellectual reality, they were light years ahead in civilization than a post-modern man who no longer grasps it.




Emanuel Paparella2007-12-13 09:21:33
YOU CAN RUN BUT YOU CANNOT HIDE.

When you and I become a corpse, which will happen sooner or later willy nilly, it will be so because our bodies will have lost the life principle called soul. The ancients understood that, modern post-modern man no longer grasps. That is symptomatic of a spiritual illness which Kierkegaard aptly calls "unto death." And that sickness, the forgetting of one's spiritual heritage and humanity, is much more grevious than alzheimer, as awful as that is.


Sand2007-12-13 09:58:10
Your simplistic conception of life and death in what can be seen as purely primitive and barbaric terms is daily confuted in the transfer of so-called spiritless human components from the dead to the living where hearts and lungs and kidneys are now restored to useful function as spare parts in surgery. To view the physical body as anything more than a working machine has been proven again and again as a piece of superstitious nonsense. I f you maintain that idiotic attitude I wonder if you say a small prayer for the dead when you turn off the ignition of your car or set your computer to shut itself off (commit suicide in your terminology?). and like your much admired Jesus who "turned on" Lazarus, are you astounded by the miracle of your car starting on a cold morning? That happens quite frequently here in Helsinki when the weather gets below minus 40 Celsius.


Emanuel Paparella2007-12-13 10:10:23
Here again, point well demonstrated: Man, like a car, is nothing but the sum of his parts, and one can indeed get rich on the selling and the trading of those parts like a butcher gets rich on selling meat, and the modern barbarian does get rich while parading it as "humanitarianism" and laughing all the way to the bank. O tempora, o mores.


Sand2007-12-13 12:15:39
And the exceedingly rich Vatican guffaws on its travel to it's bank with all the money it gains from its elaborate nonsense over the disposal of the dead. When the time comes when I need a new heart or kidney or liver or even a blood transfusion I will be delighted when inexpensive spare parts can be fabricated for my use. If you are eager to die for the lack of spare parts, that, of course, is between you and your god. Einstein's remark on human stupidity is extremely appropriate here.


Emanuel Paparella2007-12-13 16:15:02
Shalom. May you have many spare parts that will make you immortal, but I suggest that even were that possible you would still be more than the sum of your parts and not to know that is to dehumanize oneself and conceive of oneself as a humbot.


Sand2007-12-13 16:50:57
And you, of course, flit through keyholes and in and out of chimney stacks in your ectoplasmic state like smoke or the odor of garlic or a spiritual fart.


Emanuel Paparella2007-12-14 06:24:30
I notice that you have returned to what you seem most comfortable with: the poetics of defecation. A most appropriate metaphor actually, for those with limited imagination. What did Edison say: to invent one needs a good imagination and a pile of junk. Without it unfortunately one remains with mired in junk or crap as the case may be mistaking it for gold.


Sand2007-12-14 07:58:33
You are apparently frightfully offended that you have a hole in your rear end to rid yourself of digestive waste. An amusing punishment imposed upon you by your assumed creator. Sometimes your silly attitudes can be quite comical.


Emanuel Paparella2007-12-14 11:48:37
Within your favored silly poetics which you cannot refrain from ejecting from your intellectual hole and just exhibited, it is intriguing to reflect upon the fact that Jung had a dream which placed him on the right track of his life-long research. He dreamt that God defecated on his cathedral. I am curious. Do you also dream of those poetics? If you do, it might a silver lining as it did for Jung. But of course a modicum of honesty with oneself and with others is also required.


Sand2007-12-14 19:50:03
To expect honesty or integrity from you, Paparella, is beyond my most fond hope. What use for honesty would you have if it might reveal the hard reality that would scatter your religious fantasies like the fragile nonsense that they are. You have constructed your entire life mooning over naive conceptions fabricated to placate and domesticate suckers. Whatever would you do if suddenly you could not avoid the obvious fact that we are a species of rather rapacious nearsighted primates living on a speck of astronomical dust? No point is accepting that.


Emanuel Paparella2007-12-14 23:21:38
Be careful, your true agenda is beginning to show: it is the agenda of nihilism; a most pernicious one which most atheists believe should remain secret and be kept hidden by the "enlightened" elites who look down their nose to those who cannot comprehend its self-evident superiority.


Sand2007-12-15 06:32:45
A puffed up imbecile like you has no more chance of comprehending my viewpoint than a grasshopper has of understanding baseball. You are merely a sorry example of the waste of a nervous system
with reasonable potential organized into a total mess. No matter how I poke you with reality you weave and duck and babble nonsense. Too bad.


Emanuel Paparella2007-12-15 11:25:32
"Puffed up imbecille." Now, there is anoher insult for posterity. Ever thought of publishing a dictionary of banal insults? It could you give you a shot at a claim to posterity when you run out of spare parts and get "deactivated" (as you put it)ending up as mere dust to dust in the dungeon of nihilism.


Emanuel Paparella2007-12-15 11:32:53
And yet, and yet, the good news is that you are potentially better and superior to an insult- hurling humbot. The universe is too intelligently organized to be ultimately meaningless as even your vaunted grasshopper standing on your shoulder knows instinctally.


Emanuel Paparella2007-12-15 12:47:00
Oops. Instinctively above has been mispelled. Let us aknowledge it or the Grand Inquisitor may get on his horse and charge to cast some smear and aspersion on content too.


Sand2007-12-15 18:23:56
Since the meaning of the universe is obvious to you I would appreciate your laying it out for people in this publication.


Emanuel L. Paparella2007-12-15 19:23:41
I will be glad to comply with your request as soon as your dictionary of insults is out in print.


Sand2007-12-15 21:08:04
Standard evasive tactic. You and I both know you have no idea.


Emanuel Paparella2007-12-15 21:56:31
And of course you and I know that those rationalists who say that Universe caused itself and has no Creator have a very clear and distinct idea and therefor feel no need whatsover to entertain another way of looking at reality except to engage in childish (different from child-like)caricatures worthy of a fifth grader. As a wise man from Palestine used to quip: this faithless generation asks for a sign but a sign will not be given to it.


Sand2007-12-15 23:23:19
And evidently your extremely limited imagination has accepted a solution that raises many more problems than it solves. If you are looking for a prime creator you must look beyond a god, for that raises the question of where the god came from and if that requires another god then where did that one come from and so on to an infinite number of creators. Does that appeal to your aesthetic sense? I can accept that some process created the universe that, at this moment, is unknown. Evidently that something is unknown seems totally unsatisfactory to you. You must make up some preposterous creator instead of being satisfied that investigation might eventually,if not solve, at least move closer to some understanding. But then, of course, you are desperately in love with fairy tales.


Emanuel Paparella2007-12-16 01:11:01
In point of fact yours is the fairy tale that having made oneself a god believes that a mere creature will one day know the whole story of everything that exists in the universe. Ever heard of Icarus? And no, he did not fall because of "pilot error" as you bizarrely believe.


Sand2007-12-16 08:45:50
Since I have a pilot's license and you don't I am far better qualified to judge his airborne competence than you. It's evident that aside from being incapable of thinking you cannot even read. I pointedly wrote that the world is full of unknowns and I do not fill my gaps in knowledge with cloud cuckoo fantasies. I never in any way intimated that I or anyone else would know everything about the universe but merely pointed out that I am quite comfortable in acknowledging there are things I do not know but can strive to discover.


Emanuel Paparella2007-12-16 10:08:53
You must have trained Icarus on how to fly. I acknowledge that such a statement is just as logical and veracious as categorically saying a priori "I have a pilot's licence and you don't" which would earn an F in a logic's class and an A in a class on narcisism and hubris.


Emanuel Paparella2007-12-16 10:10:36
P.S. And an high five from sycophants in fifth grade.


Sand2007-12-16 10:55:47
Actually, Paparella, if you could come down from that self induced egotistical high which induces your incessant strut before an imaginary audience, you would grasp the obvious reality that most people in this publication are pretty tired of both of us. There are no sycophants on either side although here and there I detect what might be a psycophant on yours.


Emanuel Paparella2007-12-16 11:20:01
Ah, I seeeeeeeeeeeee, Shakespeare had it on target: the whole world is a stage on which a play is staged signifying nothing, whether there is an audience or not. Dante has an appropriate image in Hell for that phenomenon. Look it up before being deactivated.


Sand2007-12-16 11:42:54
Unfortunately, you neither see, nor hear nor read. You swim in a haze of idiotic dreams like a puffed up bubble full of hot air.


Emanuel Paparella2007-12-16 12:08:45
"Spiritual fart" would have been a more appropriate metaphor here, out of your vast repertoir in your poetics of defecation. B-. You need to use your imagination more and see the nexus between ideas and then confront them with critical thinking and then hope for a modicum of wisdom before being deactivated...


Mario2007-12-16 13:17:58
I just find it so funny that people who do not believe in Jesus try to discredit Him, why? Those who believe in Jesus are told to spread the word so we only do what we are told to do. If you do not want to believe in Him don't but why waist your time to discredit Him when you were not instructed to?


Sand2007-12-16 14:21:27
I have said nothing about discrediting Jesus. I merely said that history has a difficult time being absolutely positive that he existed. It is interesting that you assume somebody has to be instructed to question history. There are plenty of events in the past that may or not have happened in the way that they have been recorded and it requires no instruction to examine whether or not the records are accurate.


Sand2007-12-16 14:26:07
Paparella, all post digestive processes seem to frighten you so I thought to be kind. Evidently you don't appreciate my consideration. I wonder if, during an audience you might have with the Pope and he accidentally farted, whether you might die of embarrassment. It would be a glorious way to die.


Emanuel Paparella2007-12-16 15:26:01
Again faulty logic: the issue is not only to examine the documents for forgery or misrepresentation which is fine, but more ominously to present facts and documents selectively, those which support your own biased point of view, to grind one's ax and discredit religion in general and Catholicism in particular. You'd have to be an idiot not to perceive this in everything you write in this forum, Mr. Sand. You have never presented the other side of an issue, which is what an genuine exchange and presentation of ideas would require at a minimum.


Emanuel L. Paparella2007-12-16 15:30:33
As for your post-digestive preoccupations and the poetics of defecation, that did actually happen in the presence of Queen Elizabeth. One of her ministers, as the historian recounts it, laid a "volumninous fart" after which the virgin Queen banned him from the court. Might you be his reincarnation since you carry and English name?


Sand2007-12-16 15:46:27
As someone with a good eye to cultural disasters once observed, perhaps about religion, when a cancer is removed nothing must be put back in its place.

Evidently you want to ban me from your court. I am happy to be aware that this is not your court.


Emanuel Paparella2007-12-16 16:40:33
Did the voices tell you that? Tell them that as of now smells are not included in virtual reality. Maybe later it will be possible. As for spiritual fart, not to worry; you are incapable of those given that you don't believe in mind or spirit.


Sand2007-12-16 17:26:45
And you, bereft of internal consideration, must sit in the silence of your conscious mind while your automatic machinery has no choice but to grind out quotations of antique cultures and obsolete metaphors like some Las Vegas freak show.


Emanuel Paparella2007-12-16 20:05:58
You have it on target for a change: the voices are not from the conscious mind which can reflect upon itself, unlike a computer of meat who can only store information and regurgitate it, but from the subconscious mind of those self-proclaimed jerks who go around projecting their inapproporiated shadow and declaring themselves "enlightened" as pompous asses are wont to do.


Sand2007-12-16 20:19:52
You have no conception at all at the interrelationship of the conscious mind with what else goes on in what you term the meat brain which has a depth you cannot perceive. You speak contemptuously of inner voices as if they were some sort of mental aberration but if you have no way to consult with yourself internally then you are truly a mental cripple.


Emanuel Paparella2007-12-16 20:28:19
Ah, we are now making some progress "mental cripple," rather than malfunctional computer of meat. Is that the fire in the cave? It would'd be much but it would be a beginning.


Sand2007-12-16 20:37:53
Your cryptic responses are beyond interpretation.


Emanuel Paparella2007-12-16 20:53:04
Is your computer not compatible with mine or is the myth of Icarus the real reason? Oh, I forgot, had you taught Icarus how to fly he would not have fallen into the sea.


Sand2007-12-16 20:59:07
Icarus obviously didn't understand the effect of sun's heat on the wax that held his feathers together. So he flew to close to the sun (pilot error) and the wax melted and he fell. I guess you never read the legend.


Emanuel Paparella2007-12-16 21:30:28
Is that what the voices told you is the meaning of the myth. Next time you talk to them inform them that every myth is a story pointing to what the modern mind perceives abstractly. For Icarus the work is "hubris" of the arrogance that thinks itself enlightened and all powerful.


Sand2007-12-17 05:58:11
Taken from that standpoint the religious message is that humanity should subject itself totally to the whim of an all powerful master and any decent and perceptive creative mind cannot accept that slavish subjugation to a master with its dogmatic stupidities. Religion has persistently tried to prevent the creative capabilities of the intellect to see into the possibilities of investigating the universe from its horror of the printing press to an attempt to suppress inoculation as a fight against disease to an attempt to discredit Galileo to a supposition that there were organic chemistries denied to human capabilities. The old religious saying that "if God wanted man to fly he would have given him wings" is typical of religion's attempt to squash human capabilities as an affront to God's power but just as insistently humanity has had the guts and perception and good sense to ignore this totalitarian religious taboo and made his own wings and will eventually fly to the stars if current greed and stupidity can be overcome. The seed of all your arguments is a demand that humanity whine and beg this imaginary power to exist as this is the base for the power of the church to which you wish mankind to lie supine. You cannot conceive that humanity can throw off this psychotic idiotic nonsense and create freely in a godless universe and this is the eternal stupidity you wish to perpetuate. I find this totally disgusting.


Emanuel Paparella2007-12-19 14:43:40
De gustibus non disputandum. But reality can be grasped by those who sincerely search for truth. I am afraid that sophistry which is only interested in winning debates and having the last word will not do. It hasn't worked since Homer.


Sand2007-12-20 06:32:43
Fascinating that you can offer such advice and not realize how applicable it is to your own output.


Emanuel Paparella2007-12-20 10:06:57
The proper Junghian word is "projection" of one's unappropriated shadow. Shakespeare put it another way: "the lady doeth protest too much." Try holding two ideas in your computer of meat: one, that it applies to me, the other, that it may apply to you. Juggle them if you wish but try or you'll be hopelessly mired in rationalism till time for "deactivation" arrives.


Sand2007-12-20 20:27:35
I appreciate that you agree with me on this point.


Emanuel Paparella2007-12-21 00:05:49
Is that what the voices told you? Don't you believe them.


Sand2007-12-21 09:02:21
If you want to eagerly claim idiocy I will not stand in your way,


Emanuel Paparella2007-12-21 13:48:23
The Punch and Judy show must go on. Fortunately there are some who believe that all drama, including Punch and Judy is nothing but a lie and if it is just a show then truth does not matter and nihilism is our philosophy. Pity.


Sand2007-12-21 16:12:46
Shame on you, Paparella. Your whole effort has been to deny the truth of the Catholic persecution of the Jews and you are too well read to not know how huge the lie is that you are trying to disseminate.


Emanuel Paparella2007-12-21 18:31:07
I'll let you in on a secret which has not been revealed up to now and which will surely upset a bit your rationalistic categories. My ancestors where actually Jews and were ejected from Spain in the 16th century. I know full well the injustice that was done to them but as a rational being (in the full sense of that abused word)I can still reflect and narrate the whole story and not a truncated one clever by half and full of biases. I can do that because I am not a rationalist and understand reason as a whole and encompassing all the humanities and not merely rationality and logical positivism. Now, you will have to revise your biases and slanders and find new rationalizations about what you disagre about my writings, and surely you will, but the truth will remain staring in your face, and when you have exhausted all your cynical "hum bugs" and hopefully before "deactivation" to use your crude language, you may perceive "l'amor the muove il sole e le atre stelle." (last line of the Divine Comedy).


Sand2007-12-21 19:12:34
And the whole story is...? (A secret?)


Emanuel Paparella2007-12-21 23:47:05
The last verse of the Divine Comedy which an Eistein understood perfectly (he called it the cosmic sensibility) but alas the rationalist will read uncomprehendingly and then exclaim: and the whole story is, hum bug!


Sand2007-12-22 19:10:37
Since Dante died in 1321 I doubt he had much commentary on the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492. And like much of your mysterious references, Eistein also remains a great unknown.
Why do you exult continuously in exhibiting your incompetence? Most peculiar.


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