A man named Jesus or something like that 37

We will soon be writing again about Christianity. Before we do, we want to get Jesus of Nazareth out of the way as he has very little to do with the Christian religion, no matter what the Christians claim. The thinnest of threads connects the (probable) historical Jesus to the “Christ Jesus” who was born in the imagination of Christianity’s author, known to history as St. Paul.

The Jesus on whom Christianity built its essential fictions probably did exist.

Jesus was a common name at the time, the Greek for Joshua or Jeshua or Jesse or some such Hebrew name. Think of it as a name like Kevin or Juan or Ronald today – nothing special.

What is also probably true of this particular Jesus is that he was a preacher, that he had a following of some tens or hundreds, and now and then perhaps an audience of hundreds and possibly thousands. He was one of the preaching laymen of his time, a rabbi. It was a time when rabbis were becoming an increasingly important feature of religious life in Judea. They were pious men, “Hasidim” – not to be confused with members of the Hasidic movement of our time – who imparted religious knowledge and offered moral guidance. They were ordinary members of their local communities who supported themselves with various trades and occupations. They were not – and never became – priests. The priests were members of an hereditary caste whose duty was to perform the rituals of the Temple, and when the Temple was destroyed an active Jewish priesthood ceased to exist.

It has often been said that if Jesus had been of any real importance in the Judea of his day, there would have been records of what he said and did. Both the Romans and the Jews were record keepers, the Romans meticulously so. However, the absence of records doesn’t mean there weren’t any. Its more likely that they were deliberately destroyed; not by (pre-Christian) Romans who would have had no reason to do it, nor by Jews who would probably have liked to preserve them. The only group who would have had reason to destroy true records of the Rabbi Jesus were the Christians themselves, but when and what cannot be guessed.

The truth is that nothing is known of this Jesus with any certainty. From Josephus we get some evidence of his existence, a passage in one version of his famous History which many believe to have been a forged interpolation, and an anecdote about one James, “a brother of Jesus”, being stoned to death in 62 C.E.

We also know that some who followed Jesus in his lifetime had believed him to be the longed-for Messiah. (The Messiah was desperately hoped for in those years, and now and then a “spiritual” or military leader was declared to be him, the Annointed One, come to save them from Roman rule and taxes. He would be a human being, a descendant of King David.) We know that Jesus’s followers had believed this of him because they survived him and founded a religious sect, consisting entirely of law-abiding Jews, who would not give up the idea of his Messiahship even after his shocking and humiliating execution as an insurrectionist leader. His death by the Roman method of crucifixion, with a notice over his head mocking him as “King of the Jews”, is also a probable fact about him.

The members of the sect, known as the Nazarenes – and/or the Ebionites – believed that Jesus would come back in the flesh to fulfill his Messiahship. Most Jews at the time believed in bodily resurrection after death. (The ones who didn’t were the priests, who were also the aristocrats, including the royal family of the priest-kings who had ruled the nation for some generations before Judea became a Roman province.)

They thought it would happen quite soon, in their lifetimes. This optimistic group are said by Christians to have been the first “Christians”, in that they were followers of the “Christ” – “Christ” being the Greek translation of the Hebrew word “Messiah”. But they were not Christians in the sense that is meant by Christians: they did not believe that Jesus was God.

When the last of those who had known Jesus in his lifetime died without witnessing his return, another generation waited for the event. This exercise in patience and disappointment went on for some hundreds of years. None of them ever believed that Jesus was divine (except for an obscure break-away group of Ebionites in the fourth century).

And that is as much as we can say about “the historical Jesus”. How much the biblical Jesus resembles him, we can only guess.

We know nothing of his family, except the one brother James. Ingenious historians have worked out that he had a number of other brothers, one named Judas (or “Jude”) who might have been his twin. Twins enter into the rumors of his life which we know as the gospels. There we find one Thomas Didymus, for instance. As both “Thomas” and “Didymus” mean “twin”, we have a man named “Twin Twin” (which if not improbable is at least odd and certainly redundant).

We can conjecture further, without proofs. He would probably have been married since orthodox Jewish men were required to marry. He probably lived in the Galilee, a fertile region of Judea, in a time when the economy of the Roman Empire was doing particularly well. His family were unlikely to have been poor, and may have been wealthy.

Nothing that is reported of him suggests any extraordinary insight or notable originality of thought. His sayings and moral tales were the common currency of rabbinical teaching. (The miracles attributed to him – changing wine into water, raising the dead, walking on water etc. – were a standard set.) But he must have had what the Greeks call “charisma”, a special gift that attracted followers and made them believe he had a high calling.

And that’s about as much as we can know or reasonably suppose about Jesus of Nazareth. We deduce that he lived, that he preached and taught, that an unknown number of people had high expectations of his fulfilling an historic role in Jewish history but he did not live to do so, being crucified as an insurrectionist leader by the Roman authorities.

This thin conjectured record can be put away now on the shelf. It will not need to be taken down again. For what subsequently happened in the great world, the momentous historical events connected to his name, the invention of a religion that was to prove the scourge of his people, he was not to blame. How appalled such a devout Jew would have been if he could have foreseen the atrocious persecution of his people in his name!

The real man can be forgotten, as he has been forgotten. Very little of his history is necessary to the religion that was founded in his name; almost nothing but his death. He could only be an embarrassment to it after a fictitious figure, bearing his name and endowed with a biography tailored to prove that his life had been predicted by various Jewish prophets, was claimed to be God Incarnate by the adherents of a new religion: Christianity.

Jillian Becker   September 23, 2011

  • Jillian Becker

    likeasaint –

    liz has answered you very well.

    Read the rest of the essays on my list and you may find many of your questions answered.

  • likeasaint

    This is very creative but it ignores some major facts of early Christianity. Why would every Apostle and many more disciples be tortured and killed for proclaiming a resurrected Christ if they did not witness it, had virtually no hope of starting a world religion under the Romans and Jews,

    What of the miracles that were witnessed by thousands, which caused people to follow Jesus (not just his teaching alone), and are documented in Scripture and non-Scripture writings. “They began to believe in him” after changing the water into wine. What of the countless “greater” miracles and spontaneous healings performed by disciples after Jesus ascended?

    What of the Church Fathers, many of whom were either with Jesus or disciples of the apostles, who unanimously agree in their writings of what Jesus did and who he was?

    It’s hard for me to deny that something spectacular happened which sparked a revolution in Judaism to lead to Christianity. It not only caused countless martyrs to suffer and die for the truth, but became the bedrock for western civilization. There is no rational explanation for so many Christians, from every level of society (an oppressive pagan society at that), giving their lives for something they believed to be a lie. Would you die for a lie?

    Early Historical Documents on Jesus Christ (Catholic Encyclopedia, newadvent.org)
    http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/08375a.htm

    The Evidence is On Our Side (catholic.com)
    http://www.catholic.com/blog/jon-sorensen/the-evidence-is-on-our-side

    Preaching the Historical Jesus (catholicculture.org)
    http://www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/view.cfm?recnum=8254

    Evidence for Jesus outside the New Testament (catholictruths.com)
    http://www.catholictruths.com/articles/jesusoutsideevidence.html

    Ancient Jewish Accounts of Jesus
    http://ancienthistory.about.com/gi/dynamic/offsite.htm?site=http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/~humm/Topics/JewishJesus/

    • liz

      Of course no-one would give their life for something they believed to be a lie – they believe it to be the truth. That, however doesn’t make it true.
      Look at all the Muslim jihadists “giving their lives”, along with the lives of many innocent people they kill in the process, for something they believe to be the truth. Millions of other Muslims believe in that same “truth” and glorify them as “martyrs”. Does that make Islam “the Truth”?
      Every religion has had it’s thousands of believers, who “witnessed” countless miracles, but that doesn’t make any of them true, or the believers rational.

      • KBM

        You are correct Liz, but I would ask likeasaint, from where does he understand that the apostles were tortured and gave their lives for Christ and the gospel? He will not find this in the holy scripture. In fact, the place he will find some of these myths is in the books that the church fathers did not deem appropriately inspired enough to be part of the canon. Those not in the cast off books were made up hundreds of years after the fact by church fathers needing martyrs to keep people inspired. It is noteworthy that the apostles are of are not mentioned in any historical text outside of the Bible. One would think that these 12 men that “set the world on fire” would be noticed by someone.

        • liz

          Exactly. Not only are the apostles not mentioned outside the gospels, neither is Jesus. (Not in any reliable sources, anyway.) You would think that if Jesus actually did all those things the gospels claim he did, it would have been made note of by all kinds of observers and historians of the time, but it wasn’t.
          On the other hand, not only were he and the apostles deified and given sainthood hundreds of years after the fact, but as if that weren’t enough, many former pagan gods were incorporated into the pantheon of Christian saints, as well as their life stories, which is from where the life story of Jesus himself was plagiarized.

  • George

    Don’t you just love it when the christian trolls come onto a secular website discussion forum and instead of being inquisitive ,  they started posting a bunch of bible quotations and religious books and all that crap and this is suppose to convince us of the invisible man up in the sky.   They don’t come onto the discussion forum with the intent of any dialogue at all.  They come onto here trying to convince us into accepting their christian biblical dogma .    These are the same people who always want to force THEIR beliefs upon everyone and yet they have no respect or tolerance for anyone who has beliefs different than their own  ( whether  other religions or secular beliefs ).  Their religious tyrannical mentality precedes them.   It’s astonishing how arrogant these people are. I’ve given up being nice to these arrogant and “pushy” people. They insult atheists throughout the media and society and yet we’re expected to “walk on eggshells” when we talk about THEIR beliefs.   Redligion does not teach people to think because religion is mental slavery. The problem is that the mental slave doesn’t know he/she is a mental slave becasue he/she embraces the indoctrinated dogma so vehemently that reason, logic , common sense and rational thinking is NOT allowed.   Talking to these individual is like talking to a brick wall. It’s a wasted effort. All they know is their indoctrinated dogma and nothing else matters.   I don’t hate them—– I actually pity them.  How sad !

  • Debate between atheists and Christians can only be done if both
    sides agree to be open to more than just empiricism. Intuition needs to be
    recognized as a legitimate route to knowledge—at least as a supplement to
    empiricism. The whole method of qualitative research depends on acceptance of
    this hybrid model. So if you are going to use historiography without it, good
    luck with that.

     

    God is not empirically verifiable, this is true. Christian’s fully
    admit that God is our Deus Absconditus. Aquinas knew that intuition was key to
    understanding God, and you have the qualitative testimony of billions of human
    hearts to back this up (and to discount Aquinas simply because he is old is a
    logical fallacy). I lived in China for 4 years doing missions work and with
    around 100 million Christian’s in the country now, you’d be hard pressed to
    explain how belief is culturally conditioned or how it can be explained away as
    mass delusion.

     

    So let’s take Jesus back off the shelf shall we? (and you may want
    to try the Talmud and Tacitus, in addition to Josephus; it would be impossible
    for the former, attesting to Jesus miracles as “sorcery,” to be a later
    Christian interpolation).

     

    Jesus was indeed a common name during his lifetime. So what? It
    was uncommon and considered holy thereafter — something special. The sophistry
    used in this part of your argument jumps from the premise that Jesus is a
    common name, to the conclusion that Jesus was nothing special. This is not
    reason but irrationality.[A1] 

     

    But let’s go with that “nothing special” theme for a bit. I’ve
    heard on this site more than once that “what you have quoted  and argued Adam is nothing you have not heard before.”
    Well, Isaiah in the 7th century had already heard your argument (and
    attitude)—with text authenticated by the Dead Sea Scrolls—when he wrote in
    chapter 53:

     

    “”He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,

       nothing in his appearance
    that we should desire him.

      He was despised and rejected by mankind …

       he was despised, and we
    held him in low esteem.” (v. 2-3)

     

    and

     

    “…he was pierced for our transgressions. the punishment that brought us peace was on him, 
       and by his wounds we are healed.” (v. 5)

     

    I take it you do not deny Jesus crucifixion after your gracious
    concession that he did indeed exist? Or have you “tailored” your current
    attitude to comport with what Isaiah predicted about your view? Isaiah has
    heard it all before.

     

    You also wrote: “Nothing that is reported of him suggests any
    extraordinary insight or notable originality of thought.”

     

    Really?:

     

      “You have heard that it is
    written, ‘and eye for an eye’, but I tell you if anyone strikes you, turn to
    them the other cheek also.” (Matthew 5:38-42)

     

    and

     

    “I tell you the truth, unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood,
    you have no life in you.” (John 6:53)

     

    It is true that great—evil—atrocities have been committed under
    the banner of Christianity (the Crusades, Inquisition, etc.). But as you say,
    “he was not to blame.” Is it logical to say that many of his followers
    committed evil in his name, therefore what he said and taught is untrue? No. Why
    not have the courage then to investigate further with an open mind? 

     

    Of course, if you do investigate him with an open mind — in light
    of your admission that he did exist and was a teacher (Rabbi), you are then
    faced with a dilemma as expressed by a LOATHED 20th Century
    apologist:

     

    “I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish
    thing that people often say about Him: ‘I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great
    moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.’ That is the one thing
    we must not say. A man who said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a
    great moral teacher. He would be either a lunatic – on a level with the man who
    says he is a poached egg – or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make
    your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or
    something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill
    Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let
    us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human
    teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”

     

    But more on this later.

     

    • George

      Adam , who do yopu think you’re  fooling ? ou come onto a secular website and start quoting a bunch of religious christian biblical rubbish as if you have said something logical or sensible. You haven’t .   We’re heard it all before and nothing you have posted here is any different. We have heard all of your stale and ancient “miracles ” and they are too ancient.  Where is your today’s miracle ?   
                     You come onto this secular discussion forum and post a bunch of christian nonsense and then you have the unmitigated gall to talk about a debate dialogue between atheists and religionists ( specifically christians ).   It doesn’t matter if millions or billions of people  believe in superstition , as the late  great Robert Green Ingersoll stated — ” A widely held lie is staill a lie ”   
                        Then you post a mile long commentary trying to convince us of some freakin’  Jesus.  Even is there was such a being , common sense tells any thinking person that such a person was only a human like anyone else and is long dead and ISN’T coming back in spite of what the indoctrinated teachings of christiany continue to purport or proclaim.
                            Anybody stupid , gullible, naive and foolish enough  to believe that some man turned water into wine, that a burning bush spoke to a man, that a man walked on water, that after we die some ghost like invisible being within our body is going to rise up into the clouds where we will have wings white attached  with everybody standing around playing harps  and halos is definately a candidate for a psychiatrist couch. 
                        We’ve heard all this nonsense bullcrap you’re trying to feed us all before and it’s just as much rubbish now as then. You can’t even define what your “god” is. You can’t even describe or point out any god if you met one. You wouldn’t know any god if one appeared before you. You only believe this nonsense superstition because  you and your ilk have been overwhelmingly brainwashed into believing  this bullcrap via indoctrination.
                            The problem with religious zealots like yourself is not so much that  you believe this rubbish , but you’re never happy just keeping your superstitious beliefs to yourself  , but instead you feel  compelled to force it upon everyone else. You and your religious zealot cohorts adamantly refuse to leave other people alone. Such profound arrogance !
                Furthermore we don’t need you posting some mile long post with a bunch of your christian nonsense propaganda trying to convince us which you and a multitude have failed miserably in doing for so long.  You christians are always accusing atheists of being intolerant of your indoctrinated dogma but you and your ilk have absolutely NO tolerance for people who have beliefs different than your own and this makes you and your ilk the epitome of two-faced double-standard hypocrites .
                         I would be more justified in believing in the Tooth Fairy than believing in some invisible, inmaginary, formless, indescribable Space Ghost , or Cosmic Santa  Claus , or  Daddy In The  Sky which you and your christian bible-thumping brethren continue to try to impose on all of us . You can’t stand to listen to rational thinking, reason , logic and plain common sense , but ancient superstitions being practiced in our modern era of time  is obviously right down your alley.   Nice try —but you have failed miserably.  We’re heard it all before and you are no different. Spare us  with your bible bullcrap as we’ve heard it all before and we are capable of thinking for ourselves and not being a mental slave to an ideology, dogma or doctrine like yourself.

  • I don’t see any evidence to believe that a jesus existed actually. I think that is simply a carry of from many many years of dogma. We have no archeological or historical evidence of a jesus. The Josephus one sentence you mentioned is a forgery. The only reason it is still talked about is that it is the only single sentence written that might apply to Jesus, so it can never be given up.

    Unless someone can one day come up with even a scrap of evidence that a jesus existed, I can see no reason that anyone should “assume” or just accept that a jesus existed with absolutely zero evidence.

    Cheers!

    • George

      I’ve said the same thing also Rich for decades.  People only believe this because that is what they are indoctrinated to believe by the church clergy, the family structure , the media and the proselytizing Christian society at  large.   There are no confirmed and proven ancient art work paintings of any Jesus. The most familiar painting we see so often is actually an art painting by Michaelangelo that has become the accepted description image of the alleged Jesus. 
                       There is NO evidence whatsoever. But Christians will believe anything that they read in some 2,000 year old ancient book written in an era of time when 99.999999999 % of the world population was overwhelmingly superstitious believing in mythologies, superstitions, ancient make-believe folklore and fairy tales .

    • Try the Talmud and Tacitus for starters.

      • George

        Why don’t you read Ingersoll The Magnificent for starters !!!!!!!!

  • Anonymous

    Interesting article. I am in the process of reading the Bible cover to cover (trust me, it’s going very slowly), and when I get to the point where Yahweh arranges himself a date with that virgin Jewish princess, I will certainly take heed of the word you wrote here.

    What always stuns me is that this “force for good” transformed a Republic into an Empire, a patent loss of rights for the Roman citizens who could even behold them. This is not to mention the horrific Inquisitions that would come a millennium later, stepping from the territory of anti-democracy into outright torture.

    Christian apologists also like to incessantly repeat the fact that the Enlightenment was borne out of Christianity. No shit! There would be no need for an(other) Enlightenment were there not an evil, destructive power cult spreading darkness in the form of false light across Europe. God bless the Enlightenment, because the Church sucks.

    Speaking of evil cults, I hear that there’s a pretty massive one centered around Asia Minor just asking for its own Enlightenment…

    • George

      Ha ha –I like that Andrew.   Actually ALL religion is a cult.    I read somwhere that the only dfference between a cult and a religion is the amount of money and real estate that they own and the number of members ,  and also  at what time or how recent the group was formed .     When people reject common sense for the belief in imaginary deities and demons  , gods and devils , witches and worlocks ,  angels and gremlins ,  prayers and miracles ,   then you know that organized superstition ( aka – RELIGION ) has taken root.

    • JDBlues

      I read the Bible cover to cover twice while I was in the process of seeking the truth my parents and religious teachers had told me it contained. I agree, a very slow read; but a good one if you’re into genocide, and other horrible acts. Also good for quite a few laughs.

  • Frank

    “Properly read, the Bible is the most potent force for atheism ever conceived.”
    ~Isaac Asimov

    • George

      You’re right Frank.   Robert Green Ingersoll stated to the effect that if anyone wanted to make a case for atheism —just read the bible.

  • Adam

    Screwtape Letter #23

    My dear Wormwood….

    You will find that a good many . . . writers think that Christianity began
    going wrong, and departing from the doctrine of its Founder, at a very early stage. Now this idea must be used by us to encourage once again the conception of a ‘ historical Jesus’ to
    be found by clearing away later ‘accretions and perversions’ and then to be contrasted
    with the whole Christian tradition. In the last generation we promoted the construction of
    such a ‘historical Jesus’ on liberal and humanitarian lines; we are now putting forward a
    new ‘historical Jesus’ on Marxian, catastrophic, and revolutionary lines. The advantages of
    these constructions, which we intend to change every thirty years or so, are manifold. In
    the first place they all tend to direct men’ s devotion to something which does not exist,
    for each ‘historical Jesus’ is unhistorical. The documents say what they
    say and cannot be added to; each new ‘historical Jesus’ therefore has to
    be got out of them by suppression at one point and exaggeration at
    another, and by that sort of guessing (brilliant is the adjective we teach
    humans to apply to it) on which no one would risk ten
    shillings in ordinary life, but which is enough to produce
    a crop of new Napoleons, new Shakespeares, and
    Swifts, in every publisher’ s autumn list. In the second
    place, all such constructions place the importance of
    their historical Jesus in some peculiar theory He is
    supposed to have promulgated. He has to be a ‘great
    man’ in the modern sense of the word— one standing at
    the terminus of some centrifugal and unbalanced line of
    thought —a crank vending a panacea. We thus distract men’ s minds from who He is, and what He did.. ..

    The ‘ historical Jesus’ then, however dangerous He may seem to be to us at some particular point, is always to be encouraged.. ..

    • George

      Even if there was a man named Jesus that lived around 2,000 years ago , common sense would tell anyone that such a person is long dead and common sense also  tells anyone that such a being is NOT going to come back from the ashes and bones of death and walk the earth mummy and zombie form and judge anyone which is another absurdity.  But when people can’t think beyond their indoctrinated dogma , rational discourse and reason is an impossiblilty. 

    • Frank

      Hey Adam,
      Watch this short video – it is VERY informative.
      I Am Legend (An Atheist Reads the Bible – Vol 13)

    • Frank

      Hey Adam,
      Watch this short video – it is VERY informative.
      I Am Legend (An Atheist Reads the Bible – Vol 13)

  • AAS

    Isn’t it funny that Jillian Becker of The Atheist Conservative knows more about Christianity than Christians – I suppose, though, the very fact that Christians believe in their own rubbish proves conclusively that they are ignorant about it. Of course, the elusiveness of the historical character of Jesus really proves all the more that he’s God. Or at least so they would say.

    • George

      I’ll tell you AAS what’s truly funny ( or rather sad ) .  On a regular basis when I turn my radio on the conservative right wing  radio talk shows  ( and I’m a conservative )  I hear constant atheist bashing with a virulent ferver. The profound hatred and systemic attacks upon secular freethinkers is overwhelming.   I see on a constant basis in newspapers and magazines ( or print media in general ) nothng but perpetual atheists bashing . It’s non-stop.  I don’t see you and your cohorts denouncing this hate-mongering drivel . Every day it’s OPEN SEASON on atheists . We (atheists )  are the target of  the most venemous attacks imaginable and yet nothing but silence from the christian community.   I don’t see christians speaking out against this widespread bigotry toward the secular citizenry of our society.     Christians can dish out their attacks upon everyone else but OH MY , they cetainly can’t handle ANY criticism of their indoctrinated theological dogma.   This continues to prove the double-standard hypocrisy which permeates our society today. I was driving one sunday in my car and I turned the radio on. I scanned the radio channels , and a church program was on the radio. The preacher on the christian radio program was screaming — ”  Yes we’re bashing atheists today folks . It’s the atheist bashin hour —-keep those calls coming ! “.    This is what we secular freethinkers are subjected to on a routine basis . In my opinion of course  ,  I’m wondering if you believe that  Ann  Coulter in her book Godless has more knowledge of atheists than we atheists have.  I don’t see you speaking out about that .   I don’t see any comments posted here by you or your ilk denouncing the perpetual atheists bashing going on in our society.  I hear christians all the time talk as if they know more about atheists than we atheists ourselves. Oh , but that’s ok. That’s allowed —no problem there  !  Personally I do not prefer the term atheist because I refuse to be identified as simply someone who rejects some eles’s indoctrinated dogma.  I have my own beliefs but religious zealots  ( especially christians in our society ) will never know this because they are more concerned with making bigoted judgements upon atheists on a routine basis. The double -standard and hypocrisy continues ……….. !

      • Rflip304

        I don’t normally post on sites like this or on discussions like this, mainly
        because it often seems that the discussion is not fruitful but rather leads to
        hateful words… But I stumbled across this site after seeing some horrific
        pictures of genocide in Nigeria and came across this post. I feel obligated to
        say two quick things in response for consideration….
        1. It seems the common strategy of many atheist today is to pit logic against
        faith as if the two are diametrically opposed. This belief is incredibly short
        sighted for many reasons. I am not going to argue for the logic of those who
        claim belief in some god or religion, rather I want to point out that those who
        claim “pure logic” in their thinking seem to be lacking this very
        thing. What I mean is that even those who claim god to not exist or dont
        prescribe to any religion, you still do so with a measure of
        “faith”.  Take the subject of after life, which is addressed by
        religions and atheists. Atheists among others claim that it doesn’t exist,
        while many religions claim otherwise. The bottom line is that we all make this
        decision having never been to the other side of death, thus even though we may
        be informed by logic we ALL make this decision by FAITH. Anyone who says
        otherwise it not logically thinking this through.
        2. In regards to the article itself…..I have heard a number of atheist
        arguments against the person of Jesus and his subsequent followers and honestly
        this one is not very well informed. In fact for trying to prove a point from a
        historical and logical perspective it makes many ambiguous and broad
        assertions. While this may appease those who are already set in their beliefs
        and attitudes toward Jesus and Christianity, it does not really offer much more
        than that.

        Two examples…..

        “They thought it would happen quite
        soon, in their lifetimes. This optimistic group are said by Christians to have
        been the first “Christians”, in that they were followers of the “Christ” –
        “Christ” being the Greek translation of the Hebrew word “Messiah”. But they
        were not Christians in the sense that is meant by Christians: they did not
        believe that Jesus was God.”

        Where is this information coming from? Certainly this is an opinion that is
        contrary to the assertions of those who lived with and followed Jesus in his
        time. Whether you believe it or not, the scriptures (specifically the four
        gospels) include writings by those people about what they “Claimed”. Among
        these claims included the belief that Jesus was God. Again, whether this is
        true or not is another discussion, but to say that this was never a claim of
        early followers is inaccurate.

        This belief in fact reinforces another point that is brought into question
        in the next statement….

        “When the last of those who had known
        Jesus in his lifetime died without witnessing his return, another generation
        waited for the event. This exercise in patience and disappointment went on for
        some hundreds of years. None of them ever believed that Jesus was divine
        (except for an obscure break-away group of Ebionites in the fourth century).”

        Those who claimed Jesus to be the Messiah where indeed waiting for his
        resurrection as the final proof of this. If the events took place just as
        suggested in the above quote, are we really to believe that Christianity would
        be around today? It does not seem logical.

        The fact is, these people didn’t just wait around and “die” as suggested
        here. In fact they didn’t have a choice to live in neutral. Many of them did
        die, but it was because they believed Jesus to be the Messiah and would
        proclaim this belief at any cost. There are in fact
        many records of early martyrs at the hands of the Romans for this very reason. This same group of
        people who “claimed” Jesus was the Messiah also “claimed” he rose from the dead.
        When you consider these “claims”, these people were either delusional or they
        indeed did see Jesus rise from the grave. There is not much middle ground, even
        in a logical understanding of the issue.

        Regardless of which you believe, it is important to note that these “claims”
        of the early church are a commonly known fact even among atheists today. If
        this article is claiming otherwise, they would do well to at least sight reference
        for this claim rather than state it as common knowledge. Also readers would do
        well to not just embrace it as such either.
        In closing, I would like to say that I mean no ill-will towards the writer of this article or to those who follow this blog. Instead I hope that those who are indeed in search of truth will find it.
        -J

        • Liz

          J – the people who “claimed” that Jesus was the Messiah and that he rose from the dead had other options besides being either delusional or truthful.  They could very possibly have been making the whole thing up!  In fact, that is very likely, when you consider how many “gospels” were written back in those days, four of which were pretty much voted on as being the “winners” of the gospel contest, while all the others were discarded as being false. If the voting had gone some other way, we’d have a different “official” version of the life of Jesus.  As pointed out in the video above, the choice should really be given as “Liar, Lunatic, Lord, or LEGEND”.  That last one is really the most likely and obvious choice, although the first two are also pretty good possibilities.
          Secondly, I don’t see the problem with pitting logic against faith. It works every time it’s tried.  Faith is simply wishful thinking that persists in spite of facts and evidence. Logic respects facts.  Remember when you first heard that Santa Claus wasn’t real?  If you were a typical kid, you clung to straws, believing stories of supposed “eyewitness” sightings of Santa or his reindeer, elves, etc…. But you eventually gave up and admitted the truth; you can’t deny reality forever.  This is what Christians do in the face of science and historical fact, because there is no more evidence for the existence of Jesus than there is for Santa Claus.

        • George

          Listen up Rflip304  , you come onto an atheists website and you submit a mile long rant of your pro-christian rhetoric ad nauseum. So therefore I will reciprocate as well.    I don’t give a crap if there was a man named Jesus or anything else for that matter  .  Just because a mass multitude of people believe something because they were indoctrianted since childhood to believe or forced to believe because the society or culture imposed it on them doesn’t prove anything . 
                              You christians are always trying to convince us that some alleged man that lived 2,000 years ago who was supposedly impaled on two pieces of wood is going to come back alive after 2,000 years and walk the earth like a zombie in mummy form and save us when the supposed person could’nt even save himself.       Anyone with common sense knows that a person who has been dead for two thousand years ( or momentarily and is biologically having all brain cells and organs dead )  isn’t coming back to life —PERIOD !  

                               The only people who believe this fairy tale mythological nonsense are gullible people like yourself hoping for some eternal life in some invisible world.  What joy could anyone have in an invisible world ?  If people who die are going to live up in the sky on a cloud then how can an invisible person who is non-material , formless, invisible  , etc. have a halo around their head if it’s invisible or wings attached to an invisible and formless body ?      If heaven or hell has never been seen then how can you or anyone speak of such if you have no freakin’ clue of it’s description or makeup  ?

                               We’ve head all about your ancient miracles  and all about your fictitious healings , etc.  Where is your today’s  miracle ?      For example —–  a jumbo jet crashes with 400 people aboard and in the aftermath , it is discovered that a baby survived the crash.     Christians will automatically say it’s a miracle .  Really ?   If it was a miracle that a baby survived then how come your all-powerful , all-merciful , all-beneficent god didn’t perfom a miracle and save all the other 399  people aboard ?   How did this supposedly god  perform this miracle ? Did this supposed deity reach down with a giant invisible hand and only let one person live yet ignored all the other innocent people that perished ?
               
                          And yet stupid and gullible people call such a being a savior ?      Spare me !     We have multitudes of natural disasters   –i.e. :      hurricanes , drought, tsunamis , tornados, flash floods, blizzards, plagues  and other deadly epidemic viruses , stillborn births , cancer deaths , SIDS deaths , lightning strikes, etc etc etc that has caused the death of hundreds of millions of innocent men, women , children and babies and yet gullible people go around saying things like   — ” God is good all the time ”  ,    or ” jesus saves ” .    It never ceases to amaze me how people can be so gullible , naive and unthinking.   No one is coming back from the dead  and especially after being bones and/or ashes for 2,000 years . Anyone who believes this rubbish has no sense of thinking ability and yes there are hundreds of millions if not billions who think this way .

                                 Ages ago , the world believed that the earth was flat.  Then a miniscule few scientific minded people challenged this and the clergy condemned them as heretics . Now , today we find that the handful few were actually  the ones right after all.    The Catholic church wanted  Galileo   executed for proclaiming that the earth was not the center of our solar system. The Catholic Church later in recent times had to acknowledge ( although reluctantly so ) tha Galileo was right.
                                 Atheists ( secular freethinkers ) are not the ones going around on crusades , or missions trying to force secularism or impose secular freethought upon everyone. If you are going to assert that you have a right to believe in your  Jesus or deity (GOD ) the answer is yes you do.   You DO NOT have a right to impose it via coercive or “pushy” proselytizing which is what massive numbers of Christians do routinely.   By the same token you would therefore be expected to respect someone who believes in the Flying Spaghetti Monster !   His/her claims are no different than yours , because they are all accpted via BLIND ACCEPTANCE  ( aka–FAITH  ) .    If you like preaching your  so-called gospel and religious drivel  then I would be more than happy to lead you to a christian website that will swallow   this superstitious nonsense that you’re  trying to feed us without question.   Personally , I have better things to do than bow down and praise some invivible and imaginary ghost in outer space .   The problem with people like yourself is that you’re never happy unles you’re pushing your mythological and  superstitious theological dogma on everyone else and you and your ilk adamantly refuse to leave other people alone.   What a sad state of affairs. 

        • Jillian Becker

          Rflip304-

          Thank you for your contribution. 

          A comment slot is not the place to answer all your points. 

          In any case, it would not be fruitful to try to do so. Reason and faith cannot meet in contest because they have no common ground to meet on. If you believe that a man rose from the dead, what is the point of my arguing with you? If you say it wasn’t a man but god himself, what is the point of my reminding you that a god is immortal by definition and cannot die. And so on. I suppose that’s what you mean by “pitting logic against faith”?

          However, we shall sooner or later be posting more on Christianity – our understanding of its history,with which you will certainly not agree – so if you are interested in our take on it, please keep visiting the site. And perhaps you will recommend it to any you know who are “in search of truth”? 

        • Jillian Becker

          A second reply to you, Rflip304. I ought to have answered you about the history. 

          No Jew could accept that Jesus was God and still be a Jew. It would be the worst blasphemy. And  “James” the putative brother of “Jesus”, and head of the Jerusalem sect that believed Jesus was the Messiah who would come again “as David”, remained absolutely orthodox in his Judaism. Hegesippus, the 2nd. century Christian author of Commentaries, writes of him: “After the apostles, James the brother of the Lord surnamed the Just was made head of the Church at Jerusalem. Many indeed are called James. This one was holy from his mother’s womb. He drank neither wine nor strong drink, ate no flesh, never shaved or anointed himself with ointment or bathed. He alone had the privilege of entering the Holy of Holies, since indeed he did not use woolen vestments but linen and went alone into the temple and prayed in behalf of the people, insomuch that his knees were reputed to have acquired the hardness of camels’ knees.”

          Overlooking the unpleasant information that he never washed, let’s notice that he was allowed to enter the HOLY OF HOLIES  – a privilege customarily reserved for the High Priest – and prayed so much on his knees IN THE TEMPLE that they became as hard as camel’s knees! No blasphemer he! 

          Jews could never accept that Jesus was crucified as a “sacrifice”, because the foundation myth of the Hebrews’ monotheism was that of Abraham and Isaac, created to  establish that their God did not require human sacrifice (in contrast to all the other religions of the time). Further, no Jew would ever accept that the Law had been superseded or would ever be superseded. And further yet, the central theological tenet of Judaism is that God is One (and could not be Two or Three). 

          A Jew in the early centuries C.E. who came to believe that Jesus was God would no longer be a Jew but a convert to  Christianity (Pauline, or one of the other gentile Christianities).  Not much is known about the Ebionites but it seems to be undisputed that they were a Jewish sect. 

          More of this when we next write about Christianity.   

    • George

      AAS , pardon my misconception of your post . At first I though it was an ad hominem attack aimed at Jillian. I then corresponded with another person on this and re-read your post and now I get the point being made here.  My bad  and apology ,  and we’re in agreement after all. Thanks !

      • AAS

        Apology cordially accepted George; your comments are always interesting!

  • Whatever. Personally I am bored to hell with hearing and talking about Jesus, since his alleged followers never shut up. He was quoted as saying that you can know a tree by the fruit it bears. Taking him at his word, and seeing the multitude of idiots who claim him as their own, all I can say is: thanks, but no thanks.

    • George

      Hey Kingo ——- I agree totally , and I would love to give you a “high five” on that one !

    • And yet you are not responsible for what you believe about Jesus based on what other people say and do, but only based upon what He said and did.

      • George

        I really couldn’t care less what anyone claims a supposed man named Jesus did or didn’t do.   I guess we’re suppose to believe that a man named jesus walked on water. Wow !     How did he perform that magic trick.   What was he wearing on his feet– a  pair of Nike pontoons ?  Was he wearing a pair Reebok tire inner tubes with designer labels ?  Perhaps he was wearing a pair of Addidas inflatable air mattresses strapped around his ankles using  Velcro fasteners —————  yeah , that’s gotta be it.    
                      Oh , but we’re told Jesus healed the sick.  Really ?  Wow ! Where did he get his medical training or  MD license  ?   Was he a paramedic or EMT or nurse during this time ?   Amazing ?    Oh but he fed an entire village with a few morsels of bread .  Really ? Wow , those people must have been the size of ants back in that era of time . Hot dang !  
                  Now we’re told that some dude named Jesus is going to return and judge the world  after 2,000 years of death. Wow !  I look forward to some guy that’s been dead for 2,000 years walking the earth like a zombie , in mummy form and is going to be a judg of me . Ha !  People are so freakin’ gullible.  Here’s some joker who couldn’t save himself from being impaled on two pieces of wood , and this guy is going to come back and be a judge or save me ?  Ha ! That’s funny.       Here we are living in the Space Age and yet we still have massive numbers of people around the world still believing in ancient superstition, mythologies and fairy tales.  Gullible is what gullible believes . Amazing !

        • Adam

          “In the same way the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders mocked him. “He saved others, ” they
          said, “but he can’t save himself! He’s the King of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe
          in him.”
          – Matthew 27:41-42

          He’s heard it all before.

        • George

          Adam ,   your quoting a bunch of bible verses from some 2,000 year old ancient book of superstition doesn’t prove anything. It only proves that you are a non-thinking individual who can’t think beyond your indoctrinated dogma. I am NOT impressed and as usual  , you have failed again in your trying.     Uttering a bunch of jibberish from some book of superstition is not a basis for supporting any argument whatsoever.    You may as well be reciting verses  from a book of fairy tales which is exactly what the bible is to begin with.    Nice try again Adam but you still don’t get the cigar.  I’ll admit , you are persistent ( more of an annoyance )  but nothing you have stated has any merit  or proof whatsoever. You only believe this crap because you were indoctrinated into  believing it —–plain and simple !

    • George

      I agree Kingo , but it’s impossible to be rational with the irrational. It’s a waste of time and effort.