WHAT HISTORIANS DEDUCED ABOUT THE EXISTENCE OF CHRIST
Robert Venosa through an electron microscope
the pattern of electon orbitals of atoms
Looks like Albrecht Dűrer.Click on
picture to go to his self-portrait where he poses as JC.His study of his mother’s
hand (done in preparation for a painting of Jacob Myer and family) has been redone thousands of times by Christians. This Venosa painting uses the pattern from a photo of atoms on the head of a pin taken by
an electron microscope--the brown is the work of Venosa.
I enjoyed the loan of Josephus; in particular
that portion of his history dealing with the Hebrews from the period of Hellenization until his death around 90 AD.I have again turned to books from that period as well as commentaries thereon.It is an expansion in my studies of the Greek and Roman worlds.I had always thought that the historical life of Jesus could be gleaned from the Gospels, and was substantiated
by Roman and Jewish sources.Then my college history professor at TempleUniversity alluded to the less
than certain account of the life of Jesus.He also stated that the early Christians
were of two camps, those who spell "Christ" with a capital "C" and those with a lower case "c"--one being of the opinion that
he was a God, the other a prophet.A year later, the spring semester of 1967,
I decided to find out more.In my English class, I had chosen for my term thesis
The Historical Jesus.Temple University, which was formerly a Baptist
College, had an extensive theology library, but its card catalogue listed no books on the historical Jesus, but it contained
the short passages found in Josephus, an inclusion to the card catalogue made by a Christian librarian. Though initially foiled,
in subsequent years I read most of the surviving Judeo and Christian writings of that period, studies of that period, and
then a book by a British Professor, G.A. Wells, which denied as history the acount found in the Gospels.
THE FIRST PRONG:THE LACK OF HISTORICAL COLLABORATION:
Though you may not care to know, the three passages concerning Christians (on James brother of
Jesus, on John the Baptist, and on Jesus) are very likely interpolations. First there is no indication that Josephus was an
Ebonite (page 7 of your edition, footnote); and thus no indication that he embraced Christian belief--other than the 3 spurious lines. Second, I take Josephus at his
word when he writes that he was a high priest among the Pharisees (p. 1), and there is nothing in his writing to indicate
a modification of his faith or even sympathy for other religions.The very project,
along with his tone, shows an unwavering pride in his Jewish heritage.Third,
no historian writing an extensive history of a period and people would mention in passing--just 3 lines--the Messiah (p. 379)
who was born of those people, not in a tone imply that Jesus was truly the Messiah.Fourth, every unfortuitous event occurring to the Hebrews was, following the Old Testament (OT) example caused
by a grievous sin of his people (p. 242, high priest John murders his brother Jesus in the temple is held to be cause
of subsequent Greek conquest.)But no calamity is laid upon the Jews for demanding
the crucifixion of the true Christ.Josephus, if he believed that his people
had the Messiah executed, would have "reasoned" that his God manipulated attitudes of his people so as to set aside good sense
and be slaughtered by the Romans during their revolt of 70 AD.But he didn't.Fifth other texts have a shorter passage concerning Christ, thus indicating that the
commonly supplied longer lines on Christ are an expansion of an earlier interpolation.Sixth, the lines of the 3 interpolations lack textual development: viz., they are not part of the developments of the
topics in the sections they are found in.Seventh Eusebius (260-ca 341
C.E.) was the first to refer to the passage concerning the death of Jesus.That
earlier Christians, such as Justin Martyr writing on the historical evidence and having made references to Josephus, that
he missed this supports the conclusion of an interpolation.Eight, the silence
of Philo (15 BC to 50 AD) & Justin (see Josephus P. 18).Ninth, the tone
of those three questioned passage is that of a Christian.Tenth, interpolations
and the production of spurious documents was a common practice among Christians.Thus
the only reasonable conclusion to draw, based on all 10 of the above, is that those passages were added by a Christian scribe.Only those of faith could miss these anomalies and fail to come to the skeptical conclusion.
sect of Jewish Christians.But if Josephus was an Ebonite, then certainly he
would have written more on the Savior.The page references are to the book you
loaned me, done by an Anglican Bishop in the 1850's, though there are less slanted translation, such as by Michael Grant--also
Other NT passages about historical events are different.The account of Salome (p. 409) and the death of Herod the Great—found in a Christian
letter.Moreover counter to Mt 2:16, Josephus did not write of the massacre of
the children under the age of 2, let alone that Herod feared that a Messiah would be born among his people.Remember, "Messiah" means anointed one, thus one whom would be king, and Herod was then king of the Jews,
under the Romans.There is no record of a census to support the accounts of Matthew
and Luke.Moreover, there is no record of there ever being a census by the Romans
which required the traveling of its subjugated populaces onto their towns of birth--a pointless hardship invented to fulfill
OT prophecy.This and other parts of the Gospels fail to find support in the independent
This brings us back to the question of historical evidence concerning Jesus.Tacitus, the best of the Roman historians, about 100 AD refers to Jesus, but he was merely repeating for
his audience the commonly held beliefs about Christians. He goes on to mention one instance where Nero, desiring a scapegoat
for the great fire in Rome, persecuted a few Christians.(Nero
might have been right given the use of saran gas in Japan, 9/11 and other recent act by religious
zealots.).Tacitus also writes in his Annals that:"all things evil come to Rome" meaning various Eastern religions and especially Christianity.Seutonius (born 69 AD), in his The Twelve Caesars, is silent about Jesus, though
he too mentions briefly the persecution of the Christians under Nero.Josephus--once the interpolations are dropped--is silent.Philo is silent.Silence is only surprising when we take the
Gospels as history.But if we accept Paul's account, which is consistent
with the silence of historians (and he wrote prior to the Gospels), then it follows that the God of the universe permitted
his only son, who assumed the form of a mortal, to live and to die in obscurity.
SECOND PRONG:THE SILENCE OF THE EPISTLES
The most compelling
reason to conclude that the Gospels are fictions is based upon the silence of the Epistles.They are placed first because unlike the Gospels, they do not allude to the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD, and because
the epistles totally lack familiarity with the content of the Gospels.Paul
admits to this silence (lack of teaching and stories concerning JC’s life) in I Corinthians 1:22:"For the Jews require a sign, the Greeks seek after wisdom:but
we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishness."If we assume that Paul was
a preacher who traveled extensively and communicated with many of the first Christian communities—supported by Acts
and the content of the Epistles--then his silence is telling.If the Gospels
had already been written and circulated among the Christian communities, then Paul and the other authors would have been aware
of these "eyewitness" accounts.Even if the Gospels weren’t written, sayings,
teachings, and stories of Christ’s life would have been circulating among the early communes, and the authors of the
Epistles would be familiar with them.Either way, the authors of the Epistles
would have relied upon the authority of Christ to instruct the early Christian communities; but they don't.Moreover, there is nothing of Christ's life: nothing about
his birth, nothing about Mary and Joseph, nothing about the town he dwelled or the places he traveled to.All we have is “Christ crucified”.But even that
is lacking in historical and place references, for there is no mention of Pilate, no mention of Jerusalem.How is it that the later Gospels describe that which the Epistles don't?
THIRD PRONG:THE GOSPELS THEMSELVES
Two main arguments for the Bible as fiction come from the facts that the NT
authors turned to the OT to create the life of JC, and secondly the way Mathew and Luke rewrote Mark.These processes indicate that the Gospel author were lacking teachings and history; and lacking them, their
beliefs sculptured their Gospels.
Of the 661 ones of Mark, over 600 are found in Matthew and over 350 in Luke.The changes that Matthew and Luke made in the story of Mark served an assortment of purposes, such as the
aggrandizement of Jesus.For example in the story of how Jesus cured a blind
man (Mk -25).For in Mark, it is the traditional account: "He sput on his eyes, and laid his hands upon him, and asked whether he could see anything."But for Luke and Matthew, the power of Jesus was such that he did not need any kind of ritual magic words or medicinal
spittle, or even a time brief period of time to restore sight.This is but one
of dozens of such changes, all of which increase the prestige of Christ.Other
changes were for theological purposes.The sum total of these changes, they prove
that Matthew and Luke did not consider Mark's account to be historical, for how can one improve on the only historical
source by changing it?
Even to the dying words of Jesus they freely make changes:Mark chose one Psalm, Matthew a different Psalm, and Luke still yet another Psalm, and John yet another.The events of the crucifixion too are differently described.Mark at -22, has Simon form Cyrene carry for Christ the Cross. John eliminates
Simon.Most of the differences with Mark suggest editing for the sake of the
authors’ beliefs—rather than having other sources.
The gospel authors believed that the life of Jesus happened "according to the Scriptures
(OT)."The Gospel authors—and other early Christians--were confident that
in order for find out about JC they did not need to engage in historical research or consult witnesses (in our understanding
of these two approaches); they found detailed history in the ancient oracle, the Hebrew Bible.Passage after passage parallel and fulfill the OT.The NT shows Jesus to be greatest of prophets—greater than Abraham, Moses, and Ezekiel.The work of Helms and other rational Biblical scholars is devastating upon the claim of the Gospels
being founded upon history.History doesn't happen for purposes (rather from
causes), but fiction can be written so as to happen for purposes.
The Gospels are the works of different Christian communities, and thus each put
in their particular prospective.Over a dozen of them have come down to us, some
in parts, other complete.Only four are considered inspired by God, though to
a rational person, all are on an equal footing.Some of them had a wide circulation,
and some such as the Gospels of Thomas are still widely read.As
products of different communities, they have the Christ behaving according to their values.One such community, which produced the Gospel of Mark, accepts the Greek homosexuality.The Bishop Clement of Alexandria in one of his letters
not only writes of it, but quotes their passage.Unfortunately the Mark which has come down to us has those passages edited out.This is just one example of how "the Gospel of Mark has gone through several stages
in its compositional history. . . ."The foundation, the Gospel of Mark has undergone numerous changes; a
work of history general comes without editing.
Fictional biographies have been written to either to damage or enhance the position:the Christians had their goals, the Jews theirs.Jewish writings between
the 2nd & 4th centuries--based upon much older sources--create a much more realistic tale, one possible drawn from the
well of truth.A Mishnah source points out that Miriam (Mary) “has been
false to her husband;” (Shabbath 104b); thus Joseph was not the sire of Jesus.Another source even names the soldier who had seduced Mary.Another source
places Christ a century before Herod, “When Jannai the King killed our rabbis, R. Jehoshua ben Perabjah and Jeshu fled to Alexandria of Egypt . . . . The Jesus went out and hung a tile
and worshipped it. . . . Thus a teacher had said, Jesus the Narzrene practiced magic and led astray and deceived Israel (b. Sanh. 107b).“He [Jeshu] that cuts marks on his flesh, Rabbi Eliezer condemns. . . .” You will not have a son or disciple who burns his food in public like Jesus of Nazareth (b. Sanh. 103a)."Rabi Abahu said, 'If a man say to you, I am God, he is a liar.If
he says, I am the Son of Man, people in the end, laugh at him.And he says, I
will go up to heaven, he will not carry, though he says it. (j. Tannith 65b).Similarly in Jalq. Shim. Paragraph 766:"He looked forth and behold that there was a man, son of a woman, who should rise and seek to make himself
God and to cause the whole world to go astray."The Jews gave Jesus an appellation meaning "mocked the word of the wise."Matthew (at , 15:7, and 12) and Paul (1Cor ) seem to be aware of
this.For his violations of law, a lawful end occurred according to J. Sanh.
7.16, 25c.d):"And thus they did to Jeshu ben Stada in Lud; two disciples of
the wise [Pharisees] were chosen for him, and they brought him to Beth Din and stoned him."Another source quoted and condensed by Hoffman tells us that"Yeshu fled to Jerusalem.In the Temple he learned the Ineffable
Name.And to thwart the brass dogs who guarded the place of sacrifice and barked
at those who had learned the name, making them forget, Yeshu wrote the name on a piece of leather and sewed in the flesh of
his thigh.He gather around him in Bethlehem a group of young Jews
and proclaimed himself the Messiah and Son of God. . . . He healed a lame man and a leper by the power of the Ineffable Name.For this, he was summoned before Queen Shalminon [or Helena], who found him guilty of acts of sorcery and beguilement.
. . .The Sages of Israel recognized him and arrested him.They took him out and hanged him on a cabbage stem.The body was taken down while it was the eve of the Sabbath--in order
not to violate the prohibition.‘His body shall not remain there for the
night’--and immediately buried.A gardener, Yehuda, removed the body from
the tomb and cast it into a ditch and let the water flow over it.The disciples,
discovering that the body was not in the tomb, announced to the Queen that Yeshu had been restored to life.The Queen, believing the story, was tempted to put to death the Sages for having killed the Messiah.Indeed, all of the Jews mourned, wept and fasted, until Rabbi Tanchuma, with the help
of God, found the body in a garden. The Sages of Israel removed it, tied it to the tail of a horse and paraded it in front
of the Queen so that she could see the deception."The Rabbis wrote an interesting account.
One can only wonder which account (Gospels,
Rabbi, or Epistles) is closest to the truth.The Jews were biased against the
Christians for their for their claim of godhood, a violation of the Torah law; and the Christians are biased for
their founder.However, in parts the Gospels seems to be written
in part as a rebuttal to this account.Without a neutral source, each account is
on the same footing.
Father Crespo, I
find the Gospels being treated as containing history to be a gross deception; moreover, I find the Gospels
being treated as a book full of wisdom another deception.Even the OT has some
worth while homilies for the simple and common people, as in the Wisdom Books.There are a few lofty moral ideas, such as the Sermon on the Mount.But the Bible contains many things that offend a person full of the wisdom of
science, the wisdom of ethics, and methods of critical analysis.One of many
examples is the absurdity of the tale of Yahweh, the all-powerful god, having to torture his son to redeem man from the original
sin.In other words, to get back at Satan for getting man to sin, the son of
God is turned into a mortal who must be nailed to the cross, and only by this "sacrifice" will the all powerful God then remove
his curse over man's original sin.And of original, would not you squawk if the government punished you for a
crime done by your grandfather?The absurdities of faith are an embarrassment to those who apply the tools of
philosophy.Paul said in 1 Corinthians 1:23:"And Greeks look for wisdom, but we proclaim Christ crucified a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentile."But the foolishness is in the logic of Paul and those of faith, for God is not foolish, or
the One who gave us reason has confounded it and commits us to damnation for its usages.Paul continues and admits his position is illogical:"For the foolishness
of God is wiser than human wisdom."
Are not the Gospels naked, and are by not using the power of philosophy obsequious in our polite silence?Though we cannot hope to persuade those by reason who are without reason, we can expose
those who still have an open mind to the truth about the Gospels and JC.
ABOUT JESUS BE SALVAGED?Being familiar with critics like Thomas
Paine, Randel Helms and G. A. Wells, a number of Christian scholars (an oxymoron) have acknowledge that the Gospels are too
unreliable to be taken as history.A number of Christian “scholars:”
believe that they can divine the actual saying of Jesus from the fictional.They
go on to claim that the authors of the Gospels relied upon a book of saying "Q', (quelle, German for missing.).Their work is an act of faith.
As for my own opinion, I find that the Essence pre-stage the Christians
and Gnostics, and were the most likely seed for the JC myth.There was a gradual
evolutionary process starting with certain esoteric Hebrew sects, such as those that gave us parts of Daniel, The
Book of Enoch (earliest sections dated about 175 BC), The Sibylline Oracle (c. 150 BC), The Apocalypse of Ezra,
and such.These Hebrew sects and other similar mystery religions produced offshoots of which one came to be known as the Christians (including the
Gnostics).Moreover, there was a very revered leader of the Essences who was
executed around 90 BC.The rabbis make reference--see footnote 15.He was called The Teacher of Righteousness.Possible he was the seed for the Jesus myth as known by Paul and the other
authors of the Epistles.In the Gnostic teachings was a giver of insight, a high
prophet whom they called Jesus, possible the first name of the Teacher of Righteousness.Given
the lack of life of Jesus in the Gnostic Gospel of Thomas, it resembles the Epistles, possible they were the earliest
Christians.There are references to their “false Knowledge” (see
1 Timothy , and elsewhere). That
is where the trail ends.
This paper was originally written as a letter
to a Protestant priest, who had befriended me.However, I decided not to send
this letter.It has of recent undergone an editing which improved the style and
tone.The page references are to the book he loaned me, done by an Anglican Bishop
in the 1850's, and thus is influenced by his faith—as is Michael Grant’s.
A sect of Jewish
Christians.But if Josephus was an Ebonite, then certainly he would have written
more on the Savior.Moreover, in his biographical passages as a leader in the
revolt of 70AD, there is no hint of Christian conversion.
This is further proof that the
very existence of Jesus was being debated back then.
Professor Randal Helms, a Christian, who has numerous articles on literature, psychology, and Biblical studies, has written
an excellent, convincing scholarly exergues of the Gospels, wherein he shows how they were sculptured to fulfill OT prophecies,
to serve theological purposes, and related purposes.See GospelFictions,
Prometheus Books, Buffalo, NY, 1989.
Historians today hold that the persecution
of Christians had been (and still is) grossly exaggerated by the Christians.
In the New Testament canon, between the Acts
and Revelations are 21 documents in the form of letters (epistles) consisting mainly of advice to Christian communes
and also dealing with matters of worship.Of them, 14 have been traditionally
attributed to Paul.Nearly all of them are prior to the Gospels.
I say "assume" because the account of Paul's
life in Acts is written about Paul with the same mythic style found in the Gospels written about Jesus.
The only putative
quote of Christ in all the Epistle is to be found in I Corinthians 11:24:"[T]he
Lord Jesus, on the night he was handed over, took bread, and after he had given thanks brokeit and said, "This is my body that is for you.Do this in remembrance
of me."In the same way also the cup after supper, saying, "This cup is the new
covenant In my blood.Do this as often as you drink it, in, remembrance of me."But this is widely considered an interpolation, for nowhere else is there a reference
to an act of Christ (such as the breaking of bread).Moreover, it is also taken
to be part of a ritualistic formula spoke during the early Church's celebration of the Lords Supper, and thus not an actual
quotation of Christ.
Dates given by Christian "scholars" for the
earliest Epistles is around 50 AD, and for Mark's Gospel around 90 AD.
See Talbot on curing blindness.Also Josephus' description of the same by the Roman Emperor Tiberius
of John was written "in part as an attack upon the Gnostic Christianity, which held that the Son of God was not really crucified;
some Gnostics in fact held that Simon Cyrene not only carried the cross, but was himself killed upon it.John dealt with that argument simply by eliminating Simon altogether."Helms, p. 122.Moreover, John had written that Jesus was crucified on
the eve of the Passover, while the Synoptic Gospels "make it perfectly clear that the Last Supper was a Passover supper.We therefore cannot know whether Jesus died on the afternoon before the Passover meal
or on the afternoon following it."Helms 126.
The location of Lud, also called Lydda, instead
of Jerusalem is more appropriate for it was a center of rabbinical activity.
The Hebrews used "messiah" to mean chosen
by the Lord to lead as king His people, and not as later Christians have taken it to mean, the son of Yahweh. This in the
above passage, Jesus claims both to be the Messiah and the son of God.
A cabbaged stem was done because Yeshu
had adjured all the trees by the Ineffable Name not to receive his body if he was hanged; but he failed to adjure the cabbage
The Book of Job, Proverbs,
Ecclesiastes, Song of Sons, Wisdom, and Sirach (Catholic Bible).
In Luke (-49)
it is on the Plain, Matthew (5:1-48), and both Mark and John must have lost their notebooks that day.And both Matthew and Luke had taken quite different notes, for their records are quite different.
I hardly find persuasive the argument
of Saint Thomas, repeated by Milton and others, that a crime against a king is
greater than a crime against a common person, and by analogy, a crime against an infinite being is thus infinitely greater.
His meaning requires explanation.For those full of Greek wisdom (who were influenced by the Greek philosophers) including
the large Jewish community in Alexandria, there was an expectation of God being of reason and logic, and for the Jews there
was an expectation that the next profit of Yahweh that he would fulfill the OT prophecies, and among them were those concerning
his death, and that death would not be on a cross.Christ according to the preaching
of the Christian fathers could not for the Jews be the great profit.
There were two major Hebrew communities (Elephantine
& Alexandria) in Egypt, there were the Samarians near
Jerusalem, and others for which little but the name and artifacts (excepting Alexandria)
THIS JOKE IS WORTH A THOUSAND WORDS 1. Satan to get at Jehovah acts through a snake to
persuade Eve to violate Jehovah's order not to eat from the Tree of Knowledge.
2. Eve then persuades her husband,
Adam, to also eat from the tree.
3. Neither of them had in their long lives ever been given an order--they had no
parents. Nor were they warned that they would be punished for violating the order of their Creator.
4. Jehovah punishes
both of them by causing both of them to grow old slowly and die (Adam lives 930 years), that they be cast out of the Garden
of Eden, that they obtain food only by toil, and that their lives be full of sorrows.For Eve, Jehovah adds that she shall endure pain in childbirth.
5. Jehovah punishes the snake by taking its
legs and making an enmity between the snake and humans.
6. The punishment of humans does not end with the grave, but
after the death of Christ all but a select 144,000 of them, as revealed in Revelation, will be damned to everlasting Hell.
7. The punishment of Adam and Eve will be extended to all future humans, though they have done nothing worthy of punishment;
so too for the snake. (Yahweh's sense of justice.)
8. For to undo the violation of God's order by Adam and Eve, God
sends his only son to earth as a mortal so that he will be executed by the Roman government at the request of the Jews. This
ritualistic death of Christ assuages the original sin, but only for the select 144,000. Thus to get at Satan, Jehovah punishes
Adam, Eve, nearly all later humans, and the snake.Then Jehovah permits his son
to become a mortal and to be tortured to death.
9. Jehovah, who is omniscient and thus foresaw the fall of humans,
did not act to stay the hand of Satan.
10. Jehovah, who is omnipotent and omniscient, did not act to make humans more
perfect, in particular wiser and more obedient.
11. Jehovah, who is omnipotent, did not act to undo the effects of
eating from the Tree of Knowledge.
12. Jehovah, who is perfectly good (beneficent), permitted damnation, permitted
man to fall, and for his Son to be tortured to death.
13. Jehovah, who is perfectly moral and just, acted to punish
the children of Adam and Eve for all generation and this punishment to extend beyond the grave.
14. Jehovah, who is
omnipotent, would only accept the death of his son as atonement for original sin.
15. Jehovah chose to make the wisdom
of logical analysis and science a foolishness (see Corinthians I chapter 1:18-25). One example is by requiring for salvation
the partaking in the Eucharist (eating of Christ’s flesh & drinking his blood) and having absolute faith in Christ
as a condition for salvation. Even thought more fulfill these conditions, only 144,000 of the select Christians (as stated
in Revelations) will be saved.
16 Is this an account of the doings of a super-perfect God, or the tale about a primitive
God and his Son as told by some illogical priests?
on the historical 1/2, 1/6, 1/19, 16/4, 16/6, 16/11, 16/13, 16/25, 16/27 through 30, 19/5, 20/12, 23/11, 24/3.The first number corresponds to the address (skeptically.org/enlightenment, the second to the id #.1 = enlightenment, 16 = newtestament, 19 = againstreligion, 20 = chxbible)
ANY OTHER VIEWS OR EVIDENCE TO SUPPORT
OR CORRECT THE POSITION IS WELCOME. E MAIL ME PLEASE. JERRY OF CALIFORNIA SKEPTICS.
The skeptic is one who
judges all things according to the evidence. The common herd affirms many things to
a degree well beyond what the evidence supports; and conversely doubts that which is worthy of greater affirmation.The humanistic skeptic applies a second measure, that of harm resulting from such beliefs.Issues of economics and politics, of religion,
quackery and corporate medicine, and of imprudent behavior top the harm done list.Education and scientific psychology are gateways to following the dictates of reason.